allez! gourmet: 2015 in review

What a year! Over 66,000 views! Continued Pinterest love! The peanut butter dip that stood the test of time! Thank you, hungry readers for a fabulous 2015; onward and upward into the new year we go.

A review of this year’s stats below; thank you for visiting and bon appétit!

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 66,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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“Empty Calories, Bursting Soul,” or “Where Have I Been All My Life [since April]?”

WHOA. You know those times in your life, those weeks or months or years that seem to fly by because they’ve been so incredibly PACKED with activity? Yeah, just logged six of those months.

What’s been keeping me away from my cup-of-coffee-and-Wordpress Saturday mornings? Everything. I’m in the home stretch with school. We’ve traveled to (and have eaten very well in) Spain! California! NYC! Florida! Tennessee! Virginia! All over the Midwest! Weekends have been packed to the gills with studying and/or travel. Weeks have been packed with hard work and concerts and driving and, occasionally, sleep. Click here for a nostalgic Flipagram of food we’ve been scarfing!

This morning, I noticed a metaphor for my 2015 culinary life set up bewitchingly on my office’s pig-out table, glazes gleaming and cocoa tails switching. Thousands upon thousands of of quick-energy, empty calories ready for the grabbing, all sugary Halloween promise and no sign of the crash they deliver ten minutes later. A reminder to STOP and THINK about what the consequences of fast decisions can be.

desserts

“Well, I’ll eat it,” said Alice.

Confession: I have eaten at Panera roughly 55784348742 times since I last posted in April, have had cereal for dinner many nights, and have reached for convenience foods and snacks between study sessions and on the road more than I’d like to admit (shoutout to Twizzlers Niiiibs). I’ve also tried the Whole30 (meh) and given up meat (hooray), so not every month has been a total, prepackaged loss. The dessert table was a reminder to prioritize cooking and healthful eating habits the same way I have to prioritize workouts and homework if I want them to get done. Also, a reminder of this:

So, this post is an announcement of sorts: I’M TAKING MY TALENTS TO SOUTH BEACH THE KITCHEN! Expect posts involving lots of veggies, fish and shellfish, and soups. And, of course, sweet potatoes.

Good to be back and looking forward to sharing!!

-Lauren

of this


Moment: Brekkie

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Spotted at my desk: smoked wild salmon, eggs, avocado, arugula. Raspberries. Office china.

DELICIOUS made-at-work 2 minute meal (yep, scramble those bad boys in a mug in the microwave).

Think outside of the breakfast boredom box and get a good-for-you beauty boost from healthy fat and omega-3s.

Nutrition or vanity? Bonus either way, amiright? 💁


allez! gourmet: 2014 In Review

Hello, hungry blogosphere! 2014 was a banner year for allez! gourmet. Over thirty thousand views, tens of thousands of Pinterest shares, and the enduring popularity of peanut butter & cinnamon Greek yogurt dip. Y’all love that stuff.

I appreciate every single click, share, and read. For more detailed stats on what was an a!g hit last year, click below. Thanks for stopping by and here’s to a delectable 2015!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Party Popcorn! (veg, gf)

Brought this sweet, salty, spicy snack to a punch party last weekend. PunchPartySayWhaaa? Ya. PUNCH PARTY. A party where a very generous, very fun cocktail-minded couple serves several authentic, throw-back, boozy bowls of punch- fancy little punch cups and all.  God love ’em for doing it.

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I needed a quick recipe and wanted to use what I had in the cupboards. Hmm, can of pumpkin purée? Not exactly a crowd-pleaser…. Cat food? Better not…… Box of arborio rice? Too crunchy…. AHA! Popcorn kernels! Et voilà- a star was born. A thrifty, 5-minute party snack hit for the ages. The punch party patrons partook with pleasure. Please, prepare your own personal pot (insert When Harry Met Sally paprikash joke below).

PARTY POPCORN! EMOJI

Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:

This recipe moves quickly, so set yourself up first. Grab a small saucepan for the glaze and a wide, lidded one for popping the popcorn. Ready a large bowl and a spatula for glazing the popcorn and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper to turn the finished product onto. In the wide pan, heat the tablespoon of canola oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the popcorn kernels and shake the pan around like a madman/woman until all kernels are popped. This will happen fast- about a minute thirty or so.

Shake, shake, shake until the popping slows down. Remove the pan from heat and dump into the large bowl. On to the glaze! Add all remaining ingredients to the small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium, stirring constantly. Boil for about a minute, then remove from heat to cool for another minute.

Pour the glaze over the popcorn in the large bowl and toss to coat with the spatula. It will be hot, so watch those delicate digits! When the popcorn is coated, spread it out onto the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and let cool. Break up any large clumps and serve! Try not to eat the whole dish before your guests arrive…

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Cut to tomorrow (ooh! time travel)!: I highly suggest nursing your next-day case of the zings with a jazz brunch, a proper bloody Mary, and a trip to your local art museum. Worked for me, but it was also 63 degrees outside- in December. Just the way I like it!

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Aformentioned WHMS joke, as promised. Oh, Nora.


Creamy Crockpot Pinto Beans (gf, v option) and Gluten-free Cornbread (gf, veg)

The Missouri November weather was spectacular last weekend. Dave and I went on an epic, 3-hour, 10+ mile hike around the Weldon Spring area to enjoy said Missouri November weather, beginning and ending at the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell. What is the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell, you ask? Well, we wondered the same thing. It’s a 45-acre mound of rocks covering layers of nuclear waste. And you can walk to the top! How’s that for a bizarre tourist attraction?

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view from the top

The Us Army Ordinance Works purchased the site and adjacent land (17,232 acres- whoa) in 1941. The Army contracted the Atlas Powder Company to manufacture trinitrotoluene (TNT) and dinitrotoluene (DNT) at a sprawling factory complex on the site until 1945 to support World War II efforts. After the war, the Army started selling off the land but kept about 2,000 acres to house the Weldon Spring Uranium Feed Mill Plant, which was just what it sounds like- a uranium ore processing plant that operated from 1955 to 1966. Uranium ore processing plants produce well, radioactive waste, and that, kids, is what’s tucked beneath the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell.

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I’m hesitant to believe that the waste isn’t harmful to the surrounding communities or people walking all over the cell, but so far, I feel no strange after-effects. I can see better, though. Strange…. Anyway, we were starving when we got home and had breakfast-for-lunch, with the addition of these warming, slow-cooked, creamy pinto beans and leftover cornbread to dunk in them. I’d soaked the beans overnight the night before and put them in the crockpot before we headed out, so only finishing touches were left to be made when we got back. The cornbread originally accompanied some white bean chicken chili we’d made and heated up well to go with the beans. So, without further ado, creamy crockpot pinto beans and gluten-free cornbread!

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CREAMY CROCKPOT PINTO BEANS

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag dry pinto beans, rinsed and sorted
  • water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped, or 2 tbsp olive oil for vegan beans
  • 1 yellow or white onion, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

Directions:

Rinse the dry beans after you pick them over for any rocks or clumps of dirt. Finding rocks and clumps of dirt in bags of dry beans isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, but it is every bit as gross as it sounds, so look ’em over good. Put the beans in a bowl and cover with an inch of water, soaking at least 8 hours or overnight. How retro-frugal you are, soaking beans! Good for you. The WWII-era Real Housewives of Weldon Spring would be proud.

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RHOWS

When the beans have had a good soaking, dump their soaking water, rinse them again, and put them in your crockpot. Cover with water, up to 1/2 inch above the beans. Keep in mind that when cooking in a crockpot, the water added to a recipe will stay put, so add as much as you’d like or not like. Cover and set to low for 8 hours or high for 4. Take a hike.

When you return from your hike/nap/workday/classified mission, chop the 2 pieces of bacon and cook them over medium in a small skillet until crispy. If you’re omitting bacon, heat the olive oil over medium. Remove the bacon once it’s crispy and add the onion to the bacon fat or olive oil, cooking for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Salt and pepper the onions, and add the onions, bacon, and 2 cups of beans to a food processor. Whir that sucker until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then stir the mixture back into the pot of beans.

You’re all done! The beans are even better the next day. They’re rich and creamy and make a perfect partner for a few hunks of….

OLD FASHIONED GLUTEN-FREE CORNBREAD

Adapted from Gluten Free On a Shoestring

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow cornmealbread 1
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 room-temperature egg, beaten
  • 4 tbsp melted butter, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups room-temperature plain yogurt
  • 4 tbsp raw honey

Directions:

Grab two bowls and preheat your oven to 400. In the larger bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

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In a second, smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: egg, butter, yogurt, and honey.

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Now make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the large bowl. See where this is going? Now you know why the dry ingredients got more bowl-love than the wet ones. Pour the wet ingredients into the center well and mix until just combined.

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Grease a cast-iron skillet or 9×13″ pan and spread the cornmeal mixture in evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown.

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This celiac husband-friendly side was quite tasty. It held together well but was also crumbly, and would be great with the addition of cheddar cheese or chopped green chiles. It was great with the white chili and stood up to the beans.  What will you serve with yours?


This week in my kitchen: Beauty That Moves Blog Hop

This week, I’m joining in on the fun of Heather’s blog hop over at Beauty That Moves, where bloggers share snaps of the weekly hustle and bustle in their kitchens. What was shakin’ in my kitchen this week? Spicy turkey taco bowls, a childhood favorite for breakfast, fresh fruit and melons, and a Whole 30– friendly meal for friends who are about 17 days into their Whole 30 journey. Regrettably, no photos were taken of the Whole 30 meal- we were too busy cooking and cleaning in anticipation of our company and my camera was on the back burner, so to speak. And then we ate all of the leftovers… I will tell you what we made, though; menu and links to recipes below. It was all very simple, fresh, and tasty. Yum, yum.

Bowls seem to be a theme this week in my kitchen…

Clockwise, from top:

Grandma’s marble grapes

Desk fiesta

Cheerio!

Morning kitchen: melons, books, and do we need more bottles?

Whole 30 Dinner Menu

Lots of roasting going on that night. What was cooking in your kitchen this week?


Quickie: Max & Fanny’s Open-Faced Tuna and Fennel Sandwiches (pes)

As if belonging to the YMCA doesn’t make me happy enough, my local Y has started a book exchange program (a well-intentioned, pile, rather) in its lobby. Members donate books they’re done with to the pile and the donated books become fair game for anyone who’s interested. On my way in and out, I stop to scan the boxes and bags and bins of books for new finds. The selection is delightfully varied and makes me love my fellow members even more, quirky smarty pantses that they are. Recently, I made quite the haul when I lifted a few tattered textbooks to find six (SIX!) Peter Mayle books peeking out from underneath the castoffs like rays of Mediterranean sun. “Bring us home!,” they said, “love us and read us and dream of meals in Provence with us!” Um, OKAY GUYS!

It’s cliché to be an escapist American or Brit who loves to read Peter Mayle, but I’m an American who loves to read Peter Mayle. I really, really do. His books fill the mind with Provençal scents and smells and breezes and dreams of sunny, lazy lunches soaked in wine and olive oil that are much cheaper to read about than to create (faster, too). A Year In Provence and Encore Provence are favorites of mine, as is A Good Year, which Ridley Scott made into a Russell Crowe-starring movie in 2006. Also cliché: women who love Russell Crowe movies. I don’t want to, I try not to, there’s nothing interesting or noble in doing so… but my heart can’t be swayed. He was wonderful in A Good Year, as was lovely Marion Cotillard. Such pretty people in such a pretty setting. Who wouldn’t want to watch that? Speaking of the pretty setting, let’s take a look at the grounds of Château la Canorgue, where the movie was filmed. Le sigh.

So very lovely. A Good Year, both book and movie, are near and dear to me. If you want to make a fast, faux getaway to the south of France, check out A Good Year or A Year In Provence. Here’s my warm-weather recipe inspired by the currently very warm St. Louis weather, the good luck of finding a stack of favorite books, and the hazy, sepia-toned romance of A Good Year. I imagine Max and Fanny serving this in the leafy shade of their terrace on a sunny Provençal day…

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OPEN-FACED TUNA AND FENNEL SANDWICHES

Adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients:

    • 3 6-oz cans of good quality albacore tuna, drained
    • 3 tablespoons capers, chopped
    • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced into bite-sized pieces
    • 3/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
    • wheat toast or sliced baguettes

 

Directions:

Grab two bowls. In one, mix the drained tuna, the chopped capers, 3 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, and about 1/4 tsp black pepper.

In the other bowl, toss the sliced fennel, the chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons olive oil, a large pinch kosher salt and another 1/4 tsp pepper.

Spread a bit of the tuna salad on toast, then top with fennel salad. Grab your loved one and whisper a sweet nothing into his or her ear. Bonus points if you whisper it en français.

fanny and max

“I would like a lifetime spent with an irrational and suspicious goddess, some short-tempered jealousy on the side, and a bottle of wine that tastes like you, a glass that’s never empty.”

I may be getting carried away by Max & Fanny’s love story, but this post is dedicated to my husband and how he makes every day feel like a day in Provence.