Blogiversary Celebration with Vanilla Peach Cake!

Blogiversary Collage

Today is Foodie Reflections’ blogiversary! I can’t believe it’s been two years since I first started this blog because I missed writing. My first post on April 6, 2008, was a restaurant review with no photos. At that time I didn’t have a clear direction of the blog’s focus and, to be honest, still don’t. Turns out I don’t like rules, even ones that are self-imposed (shocking, I know).

I generally post recipes because cooking truly is my passion. But I also enjoy sharing stories about my family, holiday traditions, foodie events, or anything relevant in the food world. I’ve taken you with me to Paris, Costa Rica, New Orleans, San Francisco and Florida. There was even a guest post from my sister about her experience hosting her first family holiday. What has remained constant is that it all revolves food.

I need to thank Dan Nielsen (AKA Anna-the-Culinary-School-Dropout’s husband) for being the most unbelievable tech guy! Dan got me started after I told Anna of my plans to start a blog despite having absolutely no clue where to begin. He put up with me through redesigns, specific color criteria (how was I supposed to know he’s color blind?), and my “breaking” the blog on more than one occasion. Dan even created a nifty tool to add printable recipes to the site and it will be up and running as soon as I complete the stuff that needs to be done on my end. Seriously, if anyone out there needs a tech person, Dan’s your man!

Now, on to the food, what I know you really come here for. I was lucky last week to be contacted by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas (not related to tech guy Dan Nielsen, I don’t think…). They’re a local vanilla company that makes the most unbelievable products and I was thrilled when they offered to send me samples of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Sugar, Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste (retail value approximately $37).

Of course, I didn’t tell them that I had half a bottle of the vanilla bean paste in my cabinet – I seriously LOVE that stuff!

I’ve already made a few dishes using their products and will post one of their savory recipes later this week, but in honor of my blogiversary celebration I just had to share this amazing Vanilla Peach Cake with you! What type of celebration would it be without cake???

The recipe was adapted from Epicuious and provided the perfect opportunity to use one of the jars of peaches I painfully canned last summer then promptly forgot about, along with the vanilla extract and vanilla sugar.

Here’s the recipe for Vanilla Peach Cake:

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White Beans, Spinach & Two Pounds of Buyer’s Remorse

White Beans & Spinach

White Beans & Spinach

What is it about Costco that can trick your mind into believing you need a 12 pound bag of anything? Do they change the oxygen levels in the store or something? I usually try to keep my purchases simple and only buy products I’ll either use quickly or actually have room to store, and if you saw my apartment you’d know it doesn’t leave room for much.

But why is it that I almost always leave Costco with something I don’t really need, and often don’t want? I think the biggest factor might be that I only go to Costco after a weekend workout because it’s convenient, and going hungry can definitely be a hindrance.

In this case the “accidental” purchase was a grape tomato bruschetta mix. Not exactly a coincidence as this particular sauce was one of the sample items served with grilled salmon. Being famished from the killer workout, I tried the sample and really enjoyed it, so much so that I bought it – a freakin’ two pound jar!

The second I got home I was struck with buyer’s remorse, for that and the case of juice, but that’s another story. What was I going to do with this? Surely, I wasn’t going to be buying baguettes every day and making crostini with the bruschetta topping. I needed to find another use for it.

The first thing I tried was to mix a little in with cooked quinoa. It was fine, but not something I was overly eager to try again. The next experiment was to add the mix to one of my favorite combinations: white beans and spinach!

I make this often with slight variations depending on what I have on hand: garlic and lemon juice, olive oil and halved cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, bacon with any of the above combinations, and more.

In this case, I cooked down a half bag of baby spinach over low heat until wilted, added a can of rinsed and drained white beans, and then heated it with about 2 tablespoons of the bruschetta mix. It was really good!

Granted, I’m going to have to make this twice a week until September to use up the jar, but it was a deliciously healthy solution.

And when the jar is gone, I’ll continue to make the dish but with my own bruschetta mix. It’s actually quite easy: mix diced tomatoes with olive oil, chopped basil, and maybe a little minced garlic. Simple, clean and very healthy.

Here’s the recipe for White Beans and Spinach:

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