Greek Appetizers + Bites

Greek Appetizer Plate Mr. RC and I always seem to be short on time, but we love cooking together so much that we don’t always want to eat out. Our solution has been creating themed appetizer plates, with mostly ready-made options for ease, but enough homemade parts to still get a little cooking time together. We’ve been doing these for quite some time now and have developed an array of themed app-dinners (as I like to call them) so I thought it would be fun to share them with you over the next several months. First up, our favorite Greek/Mediterranean themed app-dinner. We probably eat this at least once every couple weeks during the summer. The lighter fare and refreshing elements make it especially perfect for warm summer nights. Here’s what we like to include in our Greek appetizer spread:

  • Hummus (homemade)
  • Greek Yogurt Dip (homemade, recipe below)
  • Tahini Dip (store bought)
  • Stuffed Grape Leaves (we want to try making these but for now they are store bought…the canned ones sold at Trader Joe’s are really good)
  • Pita Pieces or Pita Chips (store bought; homemade recipe here)
  • Falafel (homemade; Trader Joe’s sells a good one too)
  • Olives (Trader Joe’s Greek Olive Mix or Fairway’s olive bar)
  • Feta and/or haloumi cheese
  • Cherry Tomatoes and Cucumber 
  • Roasted Red Pepper & Eggplant Dip (Trader Joe’s) or Roasted Veggie Dip (recipe here)

To make this into a bigger, slightly more complicated meal we’ll serve these appetizers alongside a Greek Salad or Spanakopita.

Hummus Greek Olives falafel Greek dips Mediterranean Appetizers Feta Greek yogurt Dip Greek Yogurt Dip Mediterranean appetizer plate

Feta Greek Yogurt Dip
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups Greek yogurt
  2. 1/3 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  3. The juice of 1 lemon
  4. 2-3 tablespoons of Za'atar (depending on flavor preferences)
  5. 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  6. A large dash of garlic powder
  7. A dash of cumin
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir until well-combined and serve. Store leftovers, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to a week.
Notes
  1. This does taste better after it has sat in the fridge for several hours, so if you can I highly recommend making this ahead.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Healthy Living- Detox Water

Detox Water As promised, I wanted to share more about my skin routine and the different things I do to keep it healthy in the most natural and organic way possible. While I will eventually get to what I put ‘on’ my skin, I think it is more important to start with what you put ‘in’ your skin, as I believe true beauty comes from within (both physically and emotionally). There are two parts to what I put into my body for healthy skin: vitamins (which we will discuss later) and detox waters. Two out of three of these detox drinks use water and simple house hold items. In fact, they seem so simple you might even wonder if they make a difference. I’ve done plenty of research over the years and have pulled some facts together so you can make your own educated decision, but in my opinion detox water definitely makes a difference.

Lemon Detox Water

Lemon Water 

8 ounces of water + Juice of half of lemon (can be diluted more to suit your tastes)

Every morning I roll out of bed, brush my teeth, and then grab a glass of lemon water. Every.single.morning. My skin has started to glow just a little bit more, and I’ve noticed my morning breathe growing fainter and fainter. Here are some other benefits:

  • Packed with vitamin C, citric acid, potassium (nourishes brain and nerve cells as well as your heart), calcium, phosphorus, magnesium
  • Lemon juice in a glass of warm water first thing in the morning helps flush out toxins and replenishes body salts (also good after a workout)
  • Aids in the production of bile and digestive juices which aids in your digestion and also relieves indigestion symptoms
  • Enhances enzyme function which stimulates your liver and aids in cleansing your system
  • Helps prevent wrinkles and acne and promotes clear skin
  • The pectin fiber in lemon is beneficial for colon health as well as an appetite suppressant thus helping you lose weight
  • Lemon is a powerful antibacterial and helps aid against the common cold as well as the growth of pathogenic bacteria that cause infections and disease
  • Gives you an energy boost which is helpful for those trying to cut caffeine
  • Maintains healthy eyes and fights against eye health problems
  • It balances and maintains healthy pH levels in your body
  • Dissolves uric acids which helps reduce pain and inflammation in your joints and knees 

Please note: One side effect of lemon water can be its harsh effect on your teeth enamel. It is recommended that you brush your teeth prior to drinking lemon water and then do not brush again until at least 3 hours after. You can also swish plain water around your mouth after drinking your lemon water. You can read more about the benefits of lemon detox water here and here.

Apple Cider Vinegar detox water

Vinegar Water

8 ounces of water + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (make sure it is unfiltered)

or

8 ounces of seltzer water + 1 tablespoon of vinegar + a splash of juice (typically cranberry juice…you want some that is 100% juice with nothing added)

The benefits of drinking vinegar water are similar to lemon water. It’s great for detoxing and it’s also high in potassium. I find that drinking vinegar detox water helps me to stay detoxed and debloated. Some other benefits include:

  • Apple cider vinegar has all the same benefits that apples do, meaning it is packed with enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants, beta carotene, calcium, iron, pectin, silicon and potassium.
  • It helps keep blood pressure low
  • It can aid in the prevention of colon cancer
  • Apple cider vinegar helps lower glucose levels which in turn can help with diabetes
  • It also aids with weight loss by acting as an appetite suppressant, reducing water retention, increase metabolism, and helping with digestion

Please note: To receive these benefits you must use apple cider vinegar that is raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized, made from organic apples, and includes something about ‘the mother’ (aka the translucent film floating around in the vinegar) on the label. The brand I like to use is Bragg’s, which you can find online, at Whole Foods, or any other health store or specialty market. You can read more about the benefits of apple cider vinegar detox water here.

Dermal Health Detox water

Herb Pharm Dermal Health Drops 

8 ounces of water + 1 dropper of Dermal Health, 3x a day

While this compound is also great for detoxing your system and keeping your liver clean, its primary focus is detoxing the skin to help aid in relief of skin diseases such eczema, psoriasis, and acne. I have been drinking leon and vinegar water for years, but this detox solution is a recent recommendation. It was recommended to me by the lady who runs the herb shop in our neighborhood, and while it didn’t clear up my skin issues, I have noticed a big difference. Here are the ingredients found in this compound as well as links to pages with each of their benefits:

  • Burdock Seed: here and here
  • Stinging Nettle Seed: here
  • Sarsaparilla Root: here
  • Yellow Dock Root: here
  • Spilanthes Flowering Herb: here
  • Ginger Rhizome: here

Please note: This is by far the most expensive detox drink on the list and also probably the hardest to come by. The flavor is also not the most pleasant. 

*Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. These are simply things that have worked for me, my research on them, and my observations of how they have worked. Please consult your physician with any questions*

Rosemary Lime Cornmeal Cookies

Rosemary Lime Cornmeal Cookies || Runway Chef I’ve pretty much never met a cookie that I haven’t liked (or really any sweet treat for that matter because, let’s be real, my sweet tooth is ginormous-with-a-capital-G). But when it comes to making cookies, I pretty much stick to one thing- chocolate chip. How boring and unoriginal of me. You see, my brain comes up with all these grand ideas for this cookie and that cookie, but then my tastebuds are all like “I just want chocolate chip.” Until my taste buds had one of these and then they were all like “watermelon + chocolate don’t mix on 90 degree days”. And now this is getting weird, because my tastebuds are talking (What? Yours don’t?!) and I’m not quite even sure what we’re talking about anymore. Oh yeah, cookies. So after making these, I wanted to eat the leftover granita for dessert, but I also wanted a little something to go along with it. I remembered these cookies that my Mom used to make that consisted of cornmeal and lime and had a light buttery, texture, which is perfect for summer and to go along side fruit-based desserts. Of course, growing up I only had eyes for my chocolate chip cookies, so I wasn’t always so keen on these cornmeal ones, but I didn’t mind them either. Armed with a bushel of limes (don’t even ask how we got that many), I set out to find a recipe to replicate these cookies for my now-reformed tastebuds. Mr. RC and I finished half the batch in about a day (what butter??!), so it’s safe to say that the chocolate chip cookies might not be so safe in their number one spot…

What’s your favorite type of cookie?

Rosemary Lime Cornmeal Cookies || Runway Chef cornmeal cookies cornmeal cookie recipe citrus cornmeal cookies butter cookies

Rosemary Lime Cornmeal Cookies
Yields 36
A light and buttery cookie with just a hint of flavor that's perfect for summer
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  3. The juice of two limes
  4. The zest of one lime
  5. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  6. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal + extra cornmeal for rolling
  8. 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  9. Granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar, on medium speed, until smooth. Add the lime juice, zest, and rosemary, and mix to combine, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. With the speed turned down to low, add in the flour, cornmeal, and salt and mix just until combined.
  2. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a log that's about 1 1/2" in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap (I usually wrap mine in the empty butter wrappers first), and then refrigerate until cold (about one hour; you can speed up this process by placing the logs in the freezer).
  3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle a cutting board with extra cornmeal and granulated sugar (I did about 2 tablespoons of each) and then roll the logs in the mixture to coat them. Slice the logs into approximately 1/4 inch rounds, and place them about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Bake until the edges just start to brown and the cookies are golden, about 18-25 minutes (depending on your oven). Cool on sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Notes
  1. Rosemary can be omitted and other citrus flavors, such as orange or lemon, can be used in place of the lime.
  2. Not all of the cookies have to be baked at once; you can keep an unbaked log in the fridge for up to a month or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Just make sure the logs stay tightly sealed in plastic wrap.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
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3×3 Food- Watermelon Drinks {Watermelon Granita Cocktail}

3x3 Food- Watermelon Drinks {Watermelon Granita Cocktail} On a hot, steamy night (or day, for that matter), I can never decide if I want to cool down with fresh fruit, a cocktail, or a frozen treat. I realized this dilemma was getting a bit out of hand when it would take me 30+ minutes to make a decision (um, hi warm drink, melted ice cream, and ruined evening), so, like most of normal society, I started combining fruit, cocktail, and frozen treat in one. First, there were these margaritas. Then recently I created these vodka-drenched granita sno-cone-wannabe drinks. Oh. Yes. I. Did. They pretty much rock my hot and humid summer world. Now my only dilemma will be deciding which of these 3 watermelon drinks I will be enjoying next. Luci’s sangria looks so refreshing (and healthy, because, I mean duh, it has fruit in it!), but I can never say no to a mojito and Grace’s recipe sure is calling my name. My solution to this dilemma? Give me all the watermelon drinks!

watermelon granita cocktail mint and watermelon drink watermelon granita cocktail watermelon drinks watermelon vodka granita

Watermelon Granita Cocktail w/ Vodka
A cool summer treat turned into a light and refreshing watermelon cocktail
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For the granita
  1. 6 cups of watermelon cubes
  2. 1/3 cup condensed milk
  3. Juice of 2 limes
  4. 1/4 teaspoon of salt
For the cocktail
  1. 2 ounces of vodka
  2. 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  3. Juice of 4 limes
  4. 2 tablespoons spearmint or mint, chopped
  5. Club soda
Instructions
  1. To make the granita: In a blender, puree the watermelon, condensed milk, salt, and juice of 2 limes. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a 10x7 (you can also use a bigger or smaller pan, depending on how quickly you want it to freeze) and place it in the freezer for at least 4 hours. The condensed milk will keep it from becoming too hard so there is no need to scrape it with a fork every so often. Simply scrape the granita once it is all frozen.
  3. To assemble the cocktail: In a cocktail shaker combine the vodka, simple syrup, lime juice, and mint. Shake to combine. Pour into 2 serving glasses. Top with 2 scoops of watermelon granita, then finish with a splash of club soda. Drink immediately.
Notes
  1. The drink portion of this recipe makes enough for 2 cocktails, however, the granita recipe makes enough for 4-6 cocktails (deepening on how much taste testing you do on the side!).
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
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Blueberry Peach Cobbler w/ Lime & Lavender Cornmeal Biscuit Topping

Blueberry Peach Cobbler w/ Lime & Lavender Cornmeal Biscuit Topping || Runway Chef Last week I sent Mr. RC I text that read something like ” I can’t decide between a betty, a crisp, a crumble, a buckle, or a cobbler!”. He, of course, had no idea what I was talking about. And to be honest, I’m not so sure I had much of an idea either. I had made things with crumb toppings or biscuit topping before, but I never really knew the exact definitions of each. I just knew I wanted fruit with some kind of crunchy topping. I stumbled upon this article which helped me clarify the difference between a ‘betty’ and a ‘buckle’ and everything in between and ultimately decided biscuit topping was just what I was looking for (because then it totally counts as a breakfast food, too!). So on the one 90 degree day we’ve had all summer I got to work baking up this blueberry peach cobbler (because ovens, cast iron skillets and 90 degree days make total sense together). I think I sweated out every liquid ounce in my body, but that just meant I could justify eating half the pan of blueberry peach cobbler, obviously with lots of vanilla ice cream to cool me down!

Did you know the difference between all the different fruit desserts? If so, which is your favorite? Mine are definitely the cobbler and crumble!

fruit cobbler recipe blueberries and peaches blueberry peach cobbler cobbler with biscuit topping Blueberry Peach Cobbler w/ Lime & Lavender Cornmeal Biscuit Topping || Runway Chef peach blueberry cobbler blueberry and peach cobbler blueberry peach cobbler recipe

Blueberry Peach Cobbler with Lime, Lavender, Cornmeal Biscuit Topping
Serves 6
A fresh summer fruit cobbler with crunchy biscuit topping, perfect for dessert or morning-after breakfast
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
28 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
28 min
Total Time
1 hr
For Filling
  1. 2 pounds ripe peaches (about 6 medium)
  2. 1 cup fresh blueberries
  3. 1/4 cup sugar
  4. 1 tbsp cornstarch
  5. Juice from 1 lime
  6. Pinch of salt
For Biscuit Topping
  1. 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cup stone-ground cornmeal
  3. Zest of 1 lime
  4. 3 tbsp sugar
  5. 3/4 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/4 tsp salt
  8. 5 tblsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  9. 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  10. 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  11. 1/2 teaspoon of dried lavender
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. For the filling: Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Then cut each half into 4 slices. Spread the the peach slices evenly across the bottom of a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet.
  3. Sprinkle on the blueberries, then the cornstarch, sugar, lime juice and salt. Gently toss to coat the fruit. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, bake the fruit until it begins to bubble around the edges, about 10 minutes.
  5. For the biscuit topping: While the fruit is baking, in a food processor pulse the flour, cornmeal, lime zest, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lavender for a few seconds. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (should need about ten 1-second pulses). Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl; add the yogurt and mix with a rubber spatula until a dough forms. (Don’t over mix the dough, or the biscuits will be tough).
  6. To assemble the cobbler: After the fruit has baked for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and spoon on small mounds of the biscuit dough, spacing the mounds about 1/2 inch apart (they should not touch). I had a total of 9 biscuit mounds on my cobbler.
  7. Bake until the biscuits are golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, about 16 to 18 minutes. Cool slightly before serving with ice cream or whipped cream. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and then simply reheat a serving for 30 seconds in the microwave before eating it.
Notes
  1. I chose not to peel the peaches to save time and effort and also because I don't mind the skins, but feel free to peel them if you choose.
  2. You can also store this, tightly covered, on the countertop for 2 days, but the biscuits will get soggier more quickly and beware of fruit flies want to enjoy your dessert as well!
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
 Recipe adapted from here; Cobblers explained here

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