feta & harissa fattoush salad

feta and harissa fattoush salad @loveandlemons

I have a confession to make: I’m obsessed with feta cheese. Growing up, my mom used to make spanakopita, (carefully wrapped phillo dough triangles stuffed with spinach and feta), every year for my birthday – it was my favorite thing and that tangy creamy flavor is still one of my fondest food memories.

Of course, that’s a lot of work to do for every day meals, so nowadays I get my feta fix on salads. That tangy salty bite has a way of turning on-hand ingredients into tasty cohesive meals. Sweet potato and pomegranate, watermelon and avocado, strawberries and quinoa, check check check.

One ingredient we happened to have on-hand recently was stale pita bread. I’ve made plenty of panzanella salads with stale bread, but I just love fattoush and all of its crispy flatbread goodness. Fattoush is a middle eastern bread salad made with toasted day-old pita, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and sumac. Sumac turned out to be a difficult ingredient to source so I subbed in some spicy & smoky (dried) harissa instead. So here we have: fattoush-ish.

feta and harissa fattoush salad @loveandlemons

In a small bowl drizzle sliced sweet cherry tomatoes with a little bit of sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. (This becomes so flavorful and juicy that making a separate salad dressing isn’t necessary).

Cut up the stale pita into small chips, drizzle it with olive oil, harissa spice and salt, and toss it in the oven until it’s golden brown and toasty. Set them aside and try not to eat them all as you assemble the rest of the salad. (or if you have snack-y family members like I do – toast some extra pita so you’ll have plenty left for the salad).

feta and harissa fattoush salad @loveandlemons

Toss the whole thing with peppery arugula, crispy chopped cucumbers and then – the special part - two types of cheese – Président Feta Crumbles which are tart and salty, and Valbreso Sheeps Milk Feta, which is creamy and rich, yet delicate.

feta and harissa fattoush salad @loveandlemons

Toss it all together so the juices of the tomato soak into the toasty pita. Sprinkle on more harissa, a few mint leaves, and – of course – serve with extra feta.

feta and harissa fattoush salad @loveandlemons

Win $50 worth of Président cheese. Visit ArtOfCheese.com to download a coupon and enter the Pinterest sweepstakes.

raspberry polenta cake

raspberry polenta cake (vegan) / loveandlemons.com

What do you make with leftover polenta and leftover raspberries? Cake, of course! But not just any cake – cake in a skillet. Because skillets = summer.

raspberry polenta cake / loveandlemons.comraspberry polenta cake (vegan) / loveandlemons.com

Aside from the little bit of butter I used to grease the pan, this cake is vegan and made with coconut oil. It’s naturally sweetened with maple syrup and, of course, the sweetness that comes from the raspberries. (note: you can grease your pan with coconut oil).

It’s a (smaller) version of this peach cake I made last summer – in my 10-inch skillet this cake is just 4 servings, but you can double it if you have a larger skillet and more mouths to feed. I prefer it straight out of the oven with melty ice cream on top. Although, the leftover slices were delicious (sans the ice cream), for breakfast the next morning.

raspberry polenta cake (vegan) / loveandlemons.com

Oh, and it goes without saying that you could top this with any fruit you like.

peanut butter bourbon milkshake

vegan peanut butter bourbon milkshake / loveandlemons.com

It might not be summer everywhere yet, but here in Texas, it’s hot. Lately our weekend afternoons have consisted of long sweaty walks followed by sweet frozen treats.

vegan peanut butter bourbon milkshake / loveandlemons.com

This ice cream has been our treat-of-choice over the past few weeks – mainly because when you experiment with new recipes, you make a lot of versions. And thus, a lot of ice cream. It’s not a bad problem to have.

vegan peanut butter bourbon milkshake / loveandlemons.comvegan peanut butter bourbon milkshake / loveandlemons.com

This recipe is a 2-parter, you can stop at the ice cream, or go a step further and make it into a milkshake. Instead of our regular coconut base, we did a nutty version using raw cashews, peanut butter and Almond Breeze. The bourbon adds a nice rich flavor that doesn’t actually taste boozy (although you could add more bourbon to your milkshake if you want). If alcohol isn’t your thing, we found that a bit of apple cider vinegar created a similar balanced flavor.

This one is a little equipment heavy, as you need a vitamix-type-blender and also an ice cream maker. (I have to be honest, I’m not into extra gadgets but we get tons of use out of both of these items). And while this recipe might not be light on the calories, it is light on the number of ingredients. So if you have all of the above, this will be a snap to make and a fun summer treat!

any vegetable vinegar pickles

any vegetable vinegar pickles

I love cookbooks and I hoard them pretty obsessively. Although, I’ll admit, I have a hard time following recipes from start to finish. Which is why I love the premise of Kate Payne’s new book, The Hip Girls Guide to the Kitchen. It’s a “hit the ground running approach, seeing as you need to eat three times daily whether you’ve mastered your kitchen or not.”

It’s full of, really, everything you need to know to be pretty successful in your kitchen – from how to set up your pantry to how to put meals together intuitively and economically. (Also she’s gluten free, so she includes tons of dietary options). She offers suggestions for what to buy in bulk, (and what not to), tips for buying kitchen tools from second hand stores, plus tons of clever “hip tricks” along the way. (For example: did you know you can buy a refurbished Vitamix blender for a fraction of the cost? …me neither).

The Hip GIrl's Guide to the Kitchen, by Kate Payne

She’s truly your friend in the kitchen and her writing is charming, witty, and just fun to read. Some of my favorite sections are:

Equip your Ship: Setting up your kitchen without winning the lottery
Methodology & Madd Skills: Learning how to cook without books or your laptop
Kitchen Kick-Ass: Tapping into your inner depression-era granny
Using Stuff Up: Preserving projects any beginner can handle

The Hip GIrl's Guide to the Kitchen, by Kate Payne

Since I’m clearly a beginner at preserving projects, I instantly gravitated to her recipe for Any Vegetable Vinegar Pickles. Any recipe that has “any vegetable” in the title, is my kind of recipe. I chose cauliflower, broccoli, red onions, radishes, and cucumbers along with a few various spices. Her brine recipe was quick and easy to make. The hardest part is the waiting – she suggest stashing them in the back of your fridge and not touching them for at least a week, although she says 2-3 is the best. (We’ll see if I can hold out that long!)

any vegetable vinegar pickles

Click here to go buy her book!

Also, be sure to check out Kate’s blog, as well as these fine fellow bloggers who have also written posts about the book: Food in Jars, Healthy Green Kitchen, Local Kitchen Blog, Autumn Makes and Does, Punk Domestics, Spinach Tiger, and Local Savour.

the giveaway is now closed, a winner has been notified

almond-ella spread

almond-ella spread (vegan, gluten free) / loveandlemons.com

Everyone loves nutella right? I love it as much as the next person, but I don’t love all of the unhealthy ingredients that are in it. This almond chocolate spread, (almond-ella is what I’m calling it), is just as creamy and delicious. It’s super easy and just 3 ingredients: almond butter, chocolate, and (the secret to it’s smooth texture), coconut oil.

almond-ella spread (vegan, gluten free) / loveandlemons.comalmond-ella spread (vegan, gluten free) / loveandlemons.com

Melt everything together, pour it into a jar. It’ll firm up and set as it cools, (if you can wait that long). Slather it on toasted bread and top it with your favorite fruit.

Udi's Gluten Free Millet Chia Bread

Many of you have asked me to recommend gluten free bread products that I like. One of my favorites is Udi’s Millet-Chia Bread. You can find it in the frozen bread section at Whole Foods (and other similar stores). I’ve been buying it long before they sent it to me for this post. (See my typical lunch).

almond-ella spread (vegan, gluten free) / loveandlemons.com

But wait, there’s more – today’s recipe was created for Udi’s “What the Hack” competition. Create your own gluten free clever “hack” recipe and enter to win $3,000. (Plus, everyone who enters gets an Udi’s coupon). Hop on over to their website to view the rules and enter!