Thursday, June 26, 2014

SJK Approved - Vegetable Lasagna

I am SO excited to share my first SJK Approved post with you all. I'll be featuring recipes, restaurants, kitchen gadgets, and other foodie goodies which I have personally tested and approved and LOVE! Stay tuned and follow along at #SJKApproved for more!

First up is Vegetable Lasagna by The Pioneer Woman. This is one of those recipes I've made over and over again because it's just so darn good. Pasta? Check. Cheese? Check. Hearty veggies cooked in a spicy tomato sauce + a little wine? Check. Done and done. It's not heavy like some lasagnas I've had, and you don't miss the meat at all! Meatless Monday never tasted so good.

My husband puts in requests for this recipe! And while I'm usually cooking for just the two of us, I don't mind making a big batch because this lasagna freezes VERY well. I use a few zucchini in place of the mushrooms because Paul isn't a mushroom fan :( I'm saddened by this, but the veggie lasagna tastes amazing either way.

Can I also gush about how much I love Ree Drummond for a minute? She's so fun to watch on the Food Network because she's so cheerful! I love the personal touches she puts on her recipes, sometimes planning them with specific family members in mind. She's such a great story teller and you can see all of the love she puts into her food on the show! She's lovely and her recipes have never failed me. Two thumbs up for Ree Drummond.

You all NEED this vegetable lasagna in your lives! See the recipe and Ree Drummond's flawless step-by-step pictures here:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The All New Saucy Jocey's Kitchen!

Saucy Jocey's Kitchen got a makeover! I've always had a thing for polka dots (see here) and retro style, and I was so inspired by the gorgeous vintage kitchen themed bridal shower my lovely maids of honor threw me, I decided to give the blog a new look!

I followed LPF Media's tips for creating a branding guide, which was crucial in giving all of my retro-love a cohesive direction. It's amazing how much fun font-shopping can be! Does that make me a nerd? I gathered a bunch of inspiring images on Pinterest, picked out a few signature colors and fonts, and created a brand new logo! I hope to work the retro-kitchen style into my food photography as well. I apologize in advance to my husband for all of the mismatched colored glass serving ware and polka dot napkins which will soon fill our kitchen. :P

Along with the new look, you will notice some new types of posts! I'll be sharing all of my foodie travel adventures in SJK Travels posts. I just returned from Vienna (eeeek! so beautiful), Asheville, Charlotte, and Savannah, and I'm headed to AUSTRALIA soon, so stay tuned! #SJKTravels will hold all of my wanderlusting foodie pictures. :)

I'll also share my favorite tested-and-approved recipes from other bloggers (all with step-by-step pictures of course), kitchen gadgets, restaurants, grocery items, and more! Follow #SJKApproved to see my list of favorites!

A friend of mine recently asked me to write a how-to guide for cooking with fresh ingredients for one or two people on a budget. I know this challenge WELL. You want to eat fresh produce and meat at its peak freshness without any waste, but you don't want to grocery shop 4 times a week, and you don't want to eat the same leftovers for days on end! I've learned some tricks to making it all work, and I'll share those (hopefully along with some menus and grocery lists) soon!

As always, there will be plenty of delicious recipes with step-by-step pictures. I hope you all enjoy the new look and direction of the blog! Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Quinoa Tuna and White Bean Salad

If you're looking for a simple, healthy, and protein-packed lunch, this is it my friends! I'm obsessed with the Tuna and White Bean Salad recipe from Budget Bytes. It's ridiculously easy, light, and filling! I was in the mood to experiment with quinoa and I thought it would make a great addition to the recipe. Shredded carrots and broccoli slaw add some crunch for a nice texture variation, plus you work in some veggies! The lemon juice perfectly balances the richness of the beans and tuna. We all know fish + citrus is a winning combination. Throw is all together and you've got the perfect lunch!

Quinoa Tuna and White Bean Salad
Makes 3 cups
Total time: 30 minutes

5 oz solid white albacore tuna in water
15 oz Great Northern beans (but any white bean will do)
1/3 cup dry quinoa (plus 2/3 cup water for cooking)
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup broccoli slaw
2 green onions
1 lemon
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Thoroughly rinse and drain quinoa in a mesh strainer.
2. Bring quinoa and 2/3 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until all water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Drain tuna.
4. Drain and rinse white beans.
5. Juice half of the lemon and discard seeds.
6. Slice the green onions.
7. When the quinoa is done cooking spread it on a plate and allow to cool in the refrigerator for a few minutes (This is a cold salad. If you cooked the quinoa ahead of time, skip this step!)
8. Mix tuna, beans, quinoa, carrots, broccoli slaw, green onions, lemon juice, and olive oil together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Step-by-step Photos 

1. Thoroughly rinse and drain the quinoa. I hope you all have a larger mesh strainer than I do :( It took a few rounds to rinse all the quinoa! I'm adding a large mesh strainer to my shopping list...

2. Bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until all of the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.

3. Drain the tuna. 4. Rinse and drain the white beans. Any white beans will do, but I used Great Northern beans!

5. Juice half of the lemon and discard seeds. Use the other half of the lemon for whatever you please :) This citrus juicer belonged to my Grandma Mary. It's very special to me. My mom gave it to me at my bridal shower and I proceeded to cry like a baby.

6. Slice the green onions. I think it's prettiest if you slice them on a diagonal!

7. Cooking the quinoa ahead of time is ideal, that way it has time to cool. But if you can't cook it ahead of time, just spread it out on a plate (so it cools faster) and put the plate in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes. It cools pretty quickly. I suppose you could eat this as a warm salad if you want, but I like it cold and crisp.

8 a. Mix it all together! I found the shredded carrots and broccoli slaw in pre-prepared bags in the produce section. So. Easy.

8 b. Add salt and pepper to taste. Freshly cracked is the best, but any ol' salt and pepper will work of course. This salad can hold up to a good amount of salt because of the tuna. Just add a little and give it a taste test, and add more if you need to!

I hope you all enjoy this salad! The olive oil and lemon dressing makes it perfect for summertime - so bright and fresh. The tuna, white beans, and quinoa pack a protein punch, and you get a lovely crunch from the carrots and broccoli! 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

SJK Travels - Vienna, Austria

Hello, friends! Please excuse my blogging hiatus this past year. I've been a tad busy! With my first full-time job, part-time school, getting married, buying and renovating our first home, and traveling a bit, I've had zero time for blogging. But I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! Just fallen off the face of Blogger, but I'm back now, and I hope to always be able to squeeze in some blogging time from now on. :)

Speaking of traveling, I was lucky enough to be sent on a business trip to Vienna! Tough gig right? This was my first trip to Europe, and I was completely swept off me feet with the beauty of the old buildings and the fantastic food. I'm excited to share the highlights of my Vienna trip!

I lived out the tea party fantasies of my childhood at Hotel Sacher, home of the famous Sacher Torte! My colleagues and I split one LARGE continental breakfast, but each ordered our own torte of course.

I loved how intensely flavorful the Sacher Torte was without being overly sweet! A thin layer of apricot jam is a lovely surprise among all of the rich chocolate. And it is served with UNSWEETENED whipped cream! I ate unsweetened whipped cream several times in Vienna actually, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I grew to appreciate the purely textural addition to the pastries. 

I could wander around Naschmarkt, a farmers market + shops, for days... With everything from farmer's stands to delis to bakeries to spice shops to restaurants to soap shops, everything was fresh and pure.

It's probably a good thing that they limit the food you can bring with you through customs, or I would have brought was too many Naschmarkt goodies home with me! I bought only some handmade soaps for my parents and ate a very European lunch of prosciutto and a baguette, with macarons for dessert! Dessert can be after lunch too... don't judge me! :P

As if all of the glorious pastries, coffee, and meat and potatoes Vienna had to offer weren't enough to win me over - The Austrian dry white wine Grüner Veltliner is so delicious! I'll have to hunt for it in the states!

My foodie takeaways from the trip:
1. Sometimes less is more when it comes to sugar in desserts. I actually LOVED the unsweetened whipped cream that topped many of the desserts. And oftentimes a non-overly-sweet flavor was the star of the dish, like fruit puree, liqueur, or coffee. I'll keep this in the back of my mind the next time I'm whipping up something sweet!
2. Sliced deli meat and a hunk of fresh bread is one of the best lunches ever. I find myself craving this for lunch, especially on days when I feel lazy. Some deli meat, a hunk of cheese, and some fresh bread as finger food, and I'm tooootally content. Luckily Publix is the best grocery store ever, so high quality versions of all of these items are always readily available to me. 
3. Grüner Veltliner wine is fan. tastic.
4. A week of eating lots of meats and starches is best followed by a week of eating salads. ;) I'll have to say, a lot of the food in Vienna was HEAVY. I got home and all I wanted to eat was green things. But all the goulash, wiener schnitzel, and spaetzle sure was fun while it lasted!

Browse around #SJKTravels on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for even more wanderlusting-foodie pictures from my trip!
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