A New Farmer’s Market Salad: Kale, Kumquat, Beet & Nectarine

Kale, Kumquat, Beet & Nectarine Farmer's Market Salad | PepperDesignBlog.com

I’m so proud of our little veggie garden right now (updates coming soon), it is exploding and we can barely keep up with squash production. I’m wondering why in the world I planted two?? And a zucchini?? I made my first squash gratin the other night and it turned out pretty okay.

Next to our garden, the farmer’s market has to be our favorite spot to pick up super sweet and savory fruits and veggies. Actually, our weekly CSA box may rank higher on that list, but the farmer’s market is still pretty great! I wanted to share a recent salad combination that I stumbled upon with just the right amount of sweet + savory + salty. It’s hard to ever go wrong with fruit + veggie + nut + aromatic cheese combination of any sort, but this one is a keeper.

Our most recent farmer’s market salad consisted of kale (chopped up into tiny bits), sliced kumquats (providing that perfect amount of fresh, tangy citrus), roasted beets (for the love of all things roasted – beets will change your life), chunks of nectarine (any stone fruit will do), creamy crumbled feta and walnuts. Mix in quinoa or chicken and it’s an easy entree.

Kale, Kumquat, Beet & Nectarine Farmer's Market Salad | PepperDesignBlog.com

Same trip also introduced me to lavender chèvre (and when mixed with those rosemary fig crackers from Trader Joe’s? absolute amazingness. I may or may not have been very close to finishing the tub, a box of fig crackers and several sliced up peaches in one sitting).

Farmer's Market Goodness | PepperDesignBlog.com

That’s an instagram repost because trips to the farmer’s market always result in the BEST snack/happy hour appetizers that same day.

Hope you’re having a happy, relaxing mid week! We are off to watch Liv’s ballet class performance at the county fair today. Woohoo!! (and bring on the non-healthy food)

More veggie garden box right over here. More recipes here

How to Listen to Audiobooks on OverDrive

Intro to Audiobooks on OverDrive Public Library | PepperDesignBlog.com

Liv has developed a big interest in audiobooks as of late. One of my favorite ways for her to spend her ‘quiet time’ while Taylor and Marley nap is for her to snuggle in her bed or on the couch and to open up a new book to enjoy. The crazy thing is – we just discovered OverDrive

Previously, we’ve borrowed CDs from the library or have streamed podcasts for audio story telling. Not altogether a bad plan but the two limitations were the crazy high fines when CDs were accidentally returned late (maybe $1/day?) and podcast stories for kids are usually very short and hit or miss on content.

But! A friend mentioned OverDrive and we’ve been giving it a go. If you’re not familiar with the app, it’s the chosen public library distribution tool for over 2 million book titles from 5,000+ publishers. By downloading the app on your tablet or phone (and by using your library card as your registration), you can ‘borrow’ titles to listen to via wifi or to download for listening on a car trip. Like borrowing books at the library, you’ll eventually have to ‘return’ your audiobook (by electronically turning it back in). But it’s pretty convenient! I think that it’s available through almost all public libraries?? I know that our little neighborhood library is not listed on the OverDrive map but I have just linked our ‘home’ library as the next closest and you could probably do the same if yours wasn’t either.

Intro to Audiobooks on OverDrive Public Library | PepperDesignBlog.com

I can’t even begin to share how helpful audiobooks can be for mini breaks throughout the day. Even with a morning school program and plenty of weekly activities, afternoons can feel like a long stretch of playtime. We have recently been relying on ‘quiet time’ about half way through the day while Taylor (and possibly Marley) nap to rejuvenate all of that energy.

Intel recently gave us an HP Stream 7 and it has almost exclusively become Liv’s quiet time tool. We are exploring educational websites and games, but mostly she’s been reading and listening to books.

I hope that the library will continue to expand their audiobook selection. There are plenty of titles but I can see us moving through them quickly! I’ve started Liv on books that OverDrive categorizes as appropriate for kids ages preschool through kindergarten. I think that once she gets the hang of listening to shorter books we can move on to chapter books like The Boxcar Children and Magic Treehouse (so excited for that).

Intro to Audiobooks on OverDrive Public Library | PepperDesignBlog.com

A few hints for navigating OverDrive…

Read More »

Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt Chocolate Bars

Handmade Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt Chocolate Bars | Father's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

Father’s Day is not so far away, so here’s an easy gift idea that can be made in advance or (literally) the night before.

Homemade chocolate bars can be customized to meet any combination of favorite flavors and thus makes for a pretty awesome and tasty gift. Milk chocolate + hazelnuts, white chocolate/dark chocolate swirl + colorful sprinkles, dark chocolate + dried apricots… endless possibilities. The dessert can be broken haphazardly into bark or sliced into rectangles (or any shape) to fit favorite store bought or homemade packaging.

Homemade Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt Chocolate Bars | Father's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

I came upon this idea when trying to use up a HUGE bag of chocolate chips and some homemade caramel late one night after a big event. I started experimenting with the double boiler and it eventually led to a pan of melted chocolate, swirled caramel and sprinkled sea salt + pistachio pieces. When I let the mixture harden (and encouraged it a bit in the fridge), I was left with a completely customized treat that I could package up.

Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt | Father's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt Chocolate Bars

Step 1: Melt chocolate in small batches above a double boiler (I use a 1.5 quart sauce pan filled with 1-2″ of boiling water plus a small glass bowl that site just a few inches into the saucepan and above the water), use ~1 tsp of butter per cup of chocolate chips to help keep the consistency of the chocolate smooth and to move along melting process. Watch carefully, once chocolate burns it’s unrecoverable.

Step 2: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and cover with a non-stick spray such as Pam. I used a pan from my toaster oven so that I could refrigerate my bars in case they didn’t set quickly enough, but that’s not necessary.

Step 3: Pour melted chocolate onto prepped cookie sheet and swirl in toppings of choice (for me, drizzled caramel that I swirled into the chocolate with a knife, plus pistachio bits and whole grains of sea salt).

Homemade Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt | Father's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

Step 4: Allow to harden overnight (though it should only take a couple of hours). Refrigeration for hardening not necessary, though you can store the cut bars in the fridge or freezer to help preserve. PS I found my little chevron wax paper envelopes for packaging at Michael’s.

Homemade Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt | Father's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

Easy, right? It was almost too simple for adorable little chocolate bars! They’d be great for shower favors, too. I love that you can add almost anything to the bars – dried cranberries, candies, bits of pretzel, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, peanut butter, mint extract! The list goes on.

Father’s Day ideas (including some sweet gift guides) over here, more handmade gift ideas shared here.

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