Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Spices and Herbs - Guest Blogger Jaya Ramamurthy!

I am super thrilled to feature Jaya Ramamurthy on Happily Edible After today, as my very first guest blogger! I met Jaya a couple of years ago through a mutual friend, who introduced her as a clinical specialist in Ayurveda and an amazing cook! 
I was drawn in by her warm personality and was intrigued to know more about her passion for Ayurveda, health, and it's relationship to food and cooking. Since then, Jaya has been a guest instructor several times at Whole Foods {Salud Cooking School} here in Alpharetta, Georgia. 
I've quickly discovered what a treasure she is, with a wonderful ability to teach others in a very easy and relaxed manner. And her food....the epitome of delicious and nourishing. I hope you enjoy meeting her and her delicious tips for using spices and herbs during these hot summer months.

Summer Spices and Herbs
by Jaya Ramamurthy

Sweaters out, T-shirts in…When summer comes, we swap out clothing, shoes, and even accessories.  Ayurveda’s ancient wisdom says that when seasons change, we must change our daily routines too, not just the way we dress; our everyday rhythms like sleep, food, work, and play must also be adjusted to changes in daylight, temperature, and humidity.

In my kitchen, for the summer, this means storing the heavier beans, grains, and warming spices for use in the fall and stocking the lighter lentils and cooling spices and herbs.  For instance, I will wait for fall temperatures before cooking kidney beans, brown rice, or black-eyed peas; and I will avoid using cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, powdered ginger, cayenne, and too much garlic in the summer.  They are all heating and can aggravate the effects of the season making one hot under the collar literally and figuratively!

So what are my summertime favorites?

Fennel:  This spice belongs to the Celery family Apeacea, along with anise and star anise.  Contrary to popular opinion, it is not related to licorice even though the two have similar aromatic notes. This spice is a good digestive without adding heat in a season that is already hot.  It is easily available as seeds in Asian and Indian markets.  Fresh fennel bulbs are a seasonal staple at farmer’s markets and local groceries.  

How do I use it?
Fresh fennel is usually a creamy white bulb, with the green stems attached.  Trim off the tough end of the bulb and cut away the stems.  Save the stems for making soup stock, juicing, or adding to a smoothie.  Fennel seeds can be dry roasted and powdered in a coffee mill.  Store in an airtight jar. 
·      Slice the bulb thinly into salads for a delicious crunch.
·      Sauté the slices in olive oil with other aromatics like shallots and leeks before adding a seasonal vegetable like zucchini or squash for a delicious salad or side dish. 
·      For a versatile dressing:  whisk together some extra virgin olive oil, a generous pinch of powdered fennel seeds, lemon juice, crushed black pepper, sea salt, and some raw sweetener like coconut palm sugar; use over a salad of shaved fennel, seasonal strawberries, and baby arugula!

Cardamom:  This versatile spice shines in savory and sweet dishes! It is a balanced spice, without being too warming or cooling.  It works well with summer produce and beverages. Buy whole green cardamom pods instead of the hulled seeds or powder for the freshest aroma.  To crack the pods open, place the pods on a paper towel and run a rolling pin on them; the seeds are easily released with further rolling.  The seeds can be powdered fine with a mortar and pestle.  A trick is to add some sugar or salt to the seeds while powdering depending on the final dish. (I often cheat and powder the pods hull and all in a small coffee mill!)

How do I use it?
·      Steep a few pods or a pinch of cardamom powder in hot water along with a sprig of mint; cool the tea, filter off spices, add some lemon juice and a raw sweetener if desired for a refreshing beverage. 

·      Heat 1 cup of almond milk in a saucepan; add the crushed seeds from 4 pods of cardamom to this milk.  Also add 1 or two threads of saffron and sweeten with coconut palm sugar to taste, whisking everything together.   Filter off spices.  Drink warm or cold as a refreshing beverage.  This spiced milk is great over a bowl of oats or warmed up rice for a meal, that is also nourishing and seasonally appropriate.

·      Make a simple-syrup with ½ cup water and 1-cup coconut palm sugar heated till all the sugar is dissolved; add 12 partially crushed pods of cardamom and let the syrup boil to a slightly thick consistency.  Shut off heat and filter off when cool.  Use this syrup in your favorite summertime beverage or to dress berries or fresh fruit. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

11 Special Recipes for Peach Season!

Hello ya'll. Are you going crazy for the juicy, luscious peaches that are in the stores now? Me too.
It's peach season and that makes me quite the happy camper.  I've been enjoying peaches on my waffles, in my morning oatmeal, in caprese salads, and in a buttery, gingery peach crisp.
It's kind of amazing that I don't have any peach recipes posted yet on my blog, so I've got to get on it!
In the meantime, I thought I'd share some peach inspiration from some of my talented fellow Atlanta Food Blogger Society members. Check out these mouth-watering recipes and get your peach plans prioritized!

1. Cornbread with Peaches and Sweetened Buttermilk from  Peaches Please
2. Grilled Porkchops with Peach Salsa from Southern Boy Dishes
3. Honey Peach Pie from The Front Porch Gourmet
4. Toasted Peach Yogurt Boats with Kind Healthy Grains Clusters from Cupcakes & Sunshine
5. Peach Berry Cobbler from Red Velvet Confections
6. Goat Cheese Peach Pizza from Peaches to Pearls 
7. Whole Grain Peach and Rosemary Ravioli with Parmesan from Kitchen 1204
8. Arbonne Protein Shake "The Georgia Peach" from Coffee Wine & Yoga
9. Peach and Berry Crumble from The Cardigan Kitchen
10. Cinnamon Roll Peach Cobbler from Sweet Savant
11. Honey Almond Peach Galette from We Like to Cook!

What's your favorite recipes for peaches? Feel free to share it here!

Honey Peach Pie from The Front Porch Gourmet

Peach & Berry Crumble from The Cardigan Kitchen          

Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Salsa from Southern Boy Dishes

Cornbread with Peaches and Sweetened Buttermilk from Peaches Please

Monday, July 6, 2015

Caramelized Vidalia Onion Tart with Kale and Goat Cheese

Inspired by a super fun Vidalia Onion dinner that I attended a few weeks ago, I kinda knew this would happen soon after. It was in my day dreams for like a week after the dinner.
I absolutely love this tart. For two reasons.....caramelizing the onions makes my kitchen smell heavenly and because this puff pastry from Dufour is just so good. Please do yourself and favor and seek out this brand of puff. It will rock your appetizer-loving world.

You could really take this caramelized tart in many different directions. Make one big tart or cut puff into smaller shapes/sizes and make individual ones.
Change up the cheese, like some smoked cheddar or maybe Asher blue from Sweet Grass Dairy.
Toss on some grilled steak, chicken, or roasted poblano pepper. How about some sun-dried tomatoes
or greek olives and artichoke hearts? Then there's bacon....yes, BACON. Never a bad notion.
Grilled shrimp with tomato jam. Fresh herbs. Endless, endless possibilities.
Your puff is your canvas.

Caramelized Vidalia Onion Tart with Kale and Goat Cheese
Serves 8-10

3 Vidalia onions, skin removed and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch Lacinato kale, rinsed and thinly sliced
Goat cheese, crumbled
One 14 ounce sheet of Dufour puff pastry, thawed

*Keep the puff pastry in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll it out.

Heat the olive oil and butter together in a large skillet {or you can divided into 2 skillets}.
Cook onions on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are golden. This should take about 45 minutes or so. Allow onions to cool somewhat.

Preheat oven to 400F. Dust a large cutting board or counter top surface with flour. Unwrap the puff pastry and place on surface. Roll out slightly with a rolling pin. Cut a 3/4-inch edge off each side of the puff sheet and set aside.

Transfer the puff pastry to a half-sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, wet the edges slightly with a bit of water. Press the matching puff strips on top of each edge creating a border. Using a fork, prick the dough all over and across the edges as well. This helps it from puffing up too much during cooking.

Scatter the kale across the dough and top with caramelized onion and goat cheese, avoiding the border edge.
Place into the oven and cook until golden, about 20 minutes or so.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Daily Greens Green Juices!

My first experience juicing was over 10 years ago, when I helped to cater an ayurvedic yoga retreat. Every morning we served up fresh juices with lots of apples, carrots, and ginger. It was definitely a lot of work to juice for 10-12 people every morning {looked like we cleaned out the entire produce section of the grocery!}, but the results were so alive, so fresh and delicious.
Then I saw the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead not too long ago...have you seen this one? I mean, talk about inspiring.
While I like to think I get plenty of fruit and veggie servings during the day, some days I realistically don't, and green juices are an amazing supplement.
I was delighted to receive a sampling of Daily Greens juices to try out and the Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse cookbook recently. While I love my green smoothies, I'm never quite sure about green juices and if I am going to like them. Honestly, my smoothies usually lean towards being fruit heavy while green juices seem to be more green heavy. Which is good....just something for my taste buds to get used to!

Shauna Martin developed the Daily Greens juices after battling breast cancer at the young age of thirty-three. After going through the tough road of surgeries and chemo, she attributes her recovery to a healthy lifestyle and incorporating daily green juice into her diet.
Her line of green juices are cold-pressed and organic and include six pounds {yes, can you believe it!} of fresh fruits and veggies in every bottle. A portion of sales from her drinks goes to organizations that support young women dealing with breast cancer. Awesomeness.

Here's the scoop on what I tasted:

Daily Greens Renew - This was the first juice I had. At first, I wasn't sure about the slight peppery, bitterness from the dandelion greens. But, as I continued to drink it, it grew on me. The mint, watermelon, and lime seemed to round and smooth it out. By the end of the bottle, I was thinking I would definitely buy this one.
{Mint, spinach, cucumber, watermelon, dandelion, pineapple, celery, lime, himalayan pink salt}
Daily Greens Elevate - Hands down, my favorite of the three. Slightly sweeter with the addition of pear, I really enjoyed this one. And the vanilla in there? So good.
{Pear, spinach, watercress, cucumber, lime, and madagascar vanilla}
Daily Greens Purity -  Ok, this is a juice for serious green juicers. Definitely like a salad in a glass, with the kale, parsley, broccoli, and celery. I'm not a huge celery fan and that was the taste that stood out to me the most. Not my favorite, but I think my celery-loving friend Samantha would be all over this one.
{Kale, parsley, broccoli, cucumber, celery, lemon, and basil}

Now for the Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse book:

First off, this is really a beautiful book. With lovely photos of fresh, vibrant juices and raw food recipes, this book started off on a high note for me. If you are intimidated by the idea of what it takes to juice {hello, that's me}, Shauna really makes the whole idea approachable here. 
The premise that she suggests is to re-boot  your health by doing a 4-day cleanse with fresh juices and raw food dishes. There are over 70 recipes in the book and she gives you a different cleanse plan for each season. Wandering through the book, I found delicious looking recipes for things like Sweet Nori Wrap, Glowing Skin Smoothie, Blood Orange and Pomegranate Endive Cups, Gazpacho, Raw Guacamole Tacos, and much more. 
Shauna includes a juice and food shopping list at the beginning of each seasonal cleanse as well as a post-cleanse chapter on maintenance.

Hmmm......maybe it's time to consider getting my own juicer. Anyone have any suggestions?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Taste of Georgia - A Vidalia Onion Dinner at Baraonda!

Photo from
Photo from

Last weekend, I was invited along with other food and lifestyle bloggers to attend a special dinner at Baraonda Ristaurante & Bar in Atlanta, hosted by the Vidalia Onion Committee from Vidalia, Georgia.
Chef Tom Hall of Baraonda, the winner of the 4th annual Golden Onion Culinary Competition at the 2015 Vidalia Onion Festival, prepared a lovely five course menu for us. 

With each dish, he featured the humble Vidalia onion and elevated it to new heights with striking flavor profiles and beautiful presentation.
Not only did we enjoy a terrific meal, but the restaurant paired wines with each course. The incredibly gracious folks from the Vidalia Onion Committee were on hand to share facts about Georgia's official state vegetable.
Executive Director, Susan Waters, was the ultimate organizer and hostess, singing the praises of vidalias, sharing recipe ideas like bacon-wrapped vidalias on the grill {so happening at my house this summer}, and educating us with vidalia trivia galore!
Did you know you can successfully store them in a pair of clean pantyhose?

Although I didn't grow up in Georgia {I'm a Florida girl}, I've lived here for over 20 years and been using Vidalia onions in my cooking for some time. Did you know that these sweet babies are only grown in south Georgia, which has the perfect combo of mild weather, water, and soil for them? They are planted in November and harvested April through September, which is when we can snap them up at the market. They are hand-planted and hand-harvested....which kinda blows my mind. That's a lot of work to get them to the table! I am very grateful to the producers and folks working to bring us this seasonal treasure.

The Vidalia Onion Festival started in 1977 in Glennville, GA and moved to Vidalia in 1978. It has been a tradition ever since and includes a bounty of fun for the whole family, including a carnival, children's parade, movies under the stars, Vidalia Onion chuck wagon cook off, street dance, 5K and 10K run, an airshow featuring stunt planes, war birds, and skydivers, recipe contest and public tastings, onion eating contest, musical concerts, and the Golden Onion Culinary Competition.
I didn't get to go to check out the festival this year, but I am so there next year!! I had no idea there was so much cool stuff happening. 
Who's coming with me? ROAD TRIP!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Summer Melon Fruit Salsa

Where would we be without the internet?
There's so much incredible information there {as well as random, cool stuff to gaze at and drool over....aka Pinterest}. 
So many recipes and cool food blogs to savor.
This weekend, I went over to my friend Kc's house to celebrate her birthday. It's always a good time at her place, as she has the most lovely and interesting women friends, and we all appreciate good food {and a killer sangria!}.
I wanted to make something to bring that would be refreshing and easy to put together the night before. 
Fruit salsa on the brain. 
Probably from my last post, duh...the Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders with Strawberry Mango Salsa. Dreamy.
So, onto the web I hopped and found a great site with some amazing looking recipes. Here's the one I chose....thank you Jessica from How Sweet it Is! for this delicious round up of salsa recipes. 

Summer Melon Fruit Salsa
Makes about 4 cups

Adapted from How Sweet it Is

1 cup chopped watermelon
1 cup chopped cantaloupe
1 cup chopped honeydew
1/2 large cucumber, seeded and chopped {I used English}
1/4 red onion, chopped
10-12 mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 limes, juiced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 avocado, chopped

Combine first seven ingredients in a bowl and stir. Add in lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Gently stir in chopped avocado. Serve immediately with chips of your choice or chill salsa.

{Happily Edible After Tip - I suggest adding the avocado in last, after other ingredients are mixed - everything stays pretty that way!}

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders with Strawberry Mango Salsa

I had to share this dish with you. I think you will love it as much as I did and want to whip it up this weekend!
I actually made this a couple of weeks ago and got so busy with life, that I totally spaced and forgot to post it here. My husband, Jay, was the one who actually asked me tonight if I ever featured it on HEA....God love him. He's the best.

With strawberries and mangoes looking so good right now at the market, this salsa is perfect for the season. 
I'm kind of a huge fan of fruit salsas. I love the combination of the sweet fruits with the onion, fresh herbs, and little kick of chili pepper. Tomorrow night, I am bringing a melon mint salsa over to a girlfriend's house to share. Did all my chopping tonight...can't wait to mix it all together tomorrow and see how pretty it looks. Alrighty, two tips to make your life easier:
  1. Do all your veggie and fruit chopping a day or two before - that makes throwing your salsa together super quick and easy.
  2. Marry a man who doesn't mind helping in the kitchen {or doesn't mind getting out when you need to be alone in there to work your magic}.
Thanks to Country Living Magazine for providing the delectable recipe....I love you guys. You all are right up my alley with your shabby chic, vintage-loving, full-of-flowers, country cottage, tasty treats and homemade lemonade ways. Inspired always. ♥ ♥ ♥

Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders with Strawberry Mango Salsa
Serves 4
Recipe adapted from Country Living Magazine
Olive oil cooking spray
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 large eggs, beaten slightly
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 cup finely chopped strawberries
3/4 cup finely chopped mango
3 Tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon hot pepper jelly
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425F. Set an oven-proof wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.

Cut chicken into 3/4-inch-thick strips. Season with salt and pepper. Stir together cornstarch and garlic in a shallow dish. Place eggs in a second shallow dish. 

Stir together coconut, breadcrumbs, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a third shallow dish.
Working one piece at a time, dip chicken in cornstarch mixture, then in the egg mixture, then in coconut mixture, pressing gently to help adhere. Transfer to the greased rack. Spray chicken with cooking spray until well coated.

Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

For the salsa, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Serve the chicken with the salsa and your favorite side dish. We like roasted asparagus!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lemon Meringue Tarlets

With the days warming up here in Atlanta and spring finally showing it's pretty little face, I've been dreaming about bright, lemony desserts.
Funny, I impulsively bought a jar of lemon curd recently, thinking it would be a fun, little topper for homemade waffles. After tasting it, I was reminded why lemon curd is always something you ought to make yourself. It packs a much bigger punch and tastes so velvety and much more delicious.
I made these lemon meringue tartlets the other day and they were lovely. My compliments to the creators, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. This recipe is included in their book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking {it's actually the cover recipe!}. I don't have this book yet, but thinking I might need to put it on my list.

I will say this about the recipe. I've never really had a tart crust quite like this. It makes up like a very soft, sticky cookie dough and has to be refrigerated for a few hours before you can use it. Rolling it out is a fragile process. 
In the final dessert, it is incredibly crisp and light. Although I appreciated something a little different, I think I might use a more standard tart crust the next time. I found I wanted something to sink my teeth into a bit more. 
It does make for a truly light dessert and the lemon curd it amazing!
Happy Spring!

Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts 
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Makes eight 4-inch tarts

Tartlet Shells

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup finely ground blanched almonds
2 Tablespoons finely ground gingersnap cookies
14 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, softened but still cold
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 Tablespoon heavy cream

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, almonds, and ground cookies; set aside.

Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle over confectioners' sugar and toss, using your hands, until butter is fully coated. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until butter and sugar are well combined.
Scrape down sides of bowl, add egg yolk, and continue beating until combined. Reduce speed to medium-low and slowly add the flour mixture; beat until well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl and add heavy cream; beat until well combined. Form dough into a large ball using your hands. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 hours.

Lightly flour a work surface. Turn dough out onto floured work surface and cut into 8 pieces. Gently knead each piece of dough into a smooth disc, using a spatula to turn dough, as it will be sticky. Add more flour to work surface if necessary. Cover each piece with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough until chilled, about 10 minutes.

Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer each round to a 4-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and gently press into tart pan. Roll a rolling pin over each tart shell, pressing lightly to trim any excess dough; discard.

Place tart pans on a baking sheet and gently prick the bottom of each tart pan with a fork; transfer baking sheet to refrigerator and chill 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake tart shells until golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let cook completely.

Lemon Curd

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 6 lemons)
Zest of 2 lemons
2 large eggs
7 large egg yolks (reserve whites for topping)
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Place lemon juice and zest in a small bowl to soften zest, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a nonreactive heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until well combined. Add lemon juice and zest and continue whisking until just combined.

Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water. Continuously stir mixture with a heatproof spatula until mixture has thickened to a pudding-like texture, about 6 minutes.

Remove bowl from heat and whisk in butter until melted. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Cover lemon curd with a sheet of plastic wrap, pressing plastic wrap onto the surface of the lemon curd to prevent a skin from forming. Place bowl of lemon curd in the refrigerator to chill for a bit.


7 large egg whites, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar {I didn't have any, so I skipped this}

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together egg whites and sugar until combined.
Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water; continue whisking until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture has reached 140 degrees on a instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes. 

Return bowl to electric mixer and beat on high speed until thick, about 3 minutes. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes more. 
To assemble:
Preheat broiler, if using.

Remove tart shells from tart pans and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Divide lemon curd evenly between tart shells.

Using a pastry bag fitted with star tip, pipe the meringue on top of lemon curd, dividing equally. Place tarts under broiler until meringue is just browned. Alternatively, use a kitchen torch to brown the tops of each tart.