Category Archives: in the kitchen

{Follow along!}

instagram

 

 

Hello friends!

 

With the arrival of the sun and with it the warmer weather of spring I am not often on my computer.  Thus, posting seems to all but disappear sometimes.  However, if you want to follow along on our adventures on the farm or our travel to wonderful places around the globe, you can easily to so on Instagram! http://instagram.com/kimberlytaylorimages  It’s quick and easy, not to mention visual- of which I am totally in love with.

 

Happy Tuesday!

x

 

our favorite {potatoes}

potatoes

 

 

I wanted to share this simple yet delicious recipe as I have had a couple of requests for how to make our favorite potatoes.  If you are like us and try to eat seasonally, and you live in the northern hemisphere, potatoes are likely to be on your menu a lot in the coming months.  This is one of our favorite recipes for adding them to almost any meal.  You simply need enough potatoes to feed your crew – I often use red, yellow or a mix of the two sliced about 1/3″ thick, enough olive oil to toss said potatoes in, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper, as well as a bit of fresh rosemary.  The two tablespoons of butter are optional- but not in this house…

Preheat your cast iron pan (or any metal pan or cookie sheet) in a 350? F oven for about ten minutes.  Toss all of your ingredients together in a bowl and then pour them into your preheated pan.  Return the pan to the oven and cook until the potatoes begin to soften- usually about 20 minutes.  If you want to add a bit of butter like we do, take the pan out, give the potatoes a bit of a stir, add the butter and then stir again.  Return the pan to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.  You want your potatoes to be soft and nicely browned.  I tend to cook them in the top half of the oven but I cook with a gas oven so it may be different for an electric one.

When I take them out of the oven I use a finishing salt and just sprinkle a bit on top before serving.

 

Another couple amazing looking recipes~

These winter squash look amazing

How about roasting peaches?

This caramel apple dessert is another use for your cast iron pan.

And what about a roasted salad~

Bon appetite!

x

{spinach & strawberry} salad

spinach salad

 

As spring arrives in the pacific northwest, so do the strawberries.  We are fortunate to have them all through the summer and one of our favorite meals includes a spinach and strawberry salad.  I’m pretty sure we have this salad once a week, and almost always when entertaining guests for lunch or dinner in the summer.  It is easy and so delicious- all five of my men love it~  As with many of our salads, we like to add chevre if we have it.

 

strawberry & spinach salad

 

1/3 c. sugar

1/2 c. oil

1/4 c. white vinegar

2 TBSP sesame seeds

2 TBSP poppy seeds

1/4 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tsp minced onion

enough spinach and strawberries for you and your guests

(this dressing makes enough for two nights of salad in our house- with six people.  I occasionally half it if I’m only making one big salad but it can be easily stored in the refrigerator)

Mix dressing and toss with spinach and strawberries.

 

 

{risotto} on a rainy evening

risotto-2

 

I must admit, risotto is one of my very favorite things to make.  I love that it is a slow process.  I love that there is wine and homemade chicken stock involved.  I love that the risotto itself is like a blank canvas and that pretty much anything goes once you have arborio rice, wine and stock.  No matter the season, the day of the week or the state of the refrigerator, there is always something in the house that will go into risotto.

Today I had one of my easy, multiple use and oh so tasty favorites on hand- a rotisserie chicken from the grocery.  Almost every grocery store offers them and they are so incredibly tender and juicy.  I have at least half a dozen quick and easy options for meals using a rotisserie chicken and risotto is definitely one of them. Tonight, seeing as #2 is in Mexico for spring break, I gave each of the littles a leg and used the breast meat for the risotto.  It left me the rest of the chicken for another meal in the next day or so.  (most likely a salad with chicken for lunch tomorrow or Saturday)

If you haven’t made risotto I suggest you give it a try.  It is the perfect comfort food, you can add summer vegetables soon and it works as a side dish or main course.  I’m also guessing it’s gluten-free! (but make sure to verify that rather than taking my word for it…)

Risotto- the base recipe

4 cups stock- chicken or vegetable

1/4 cup butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 shallots or 1 small onion finely chopped

1 1/2 cups arborio rice  (you can use other risotto rice such as carnaroli, vialone nano, baldo or Calriso)

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup grated parmesan cheese (I also use pecorino)

sea salt and pepper

 

Heat the broth in a sauce pan and then keep it at a simmer.

Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots or onion and cook until softened. Add the rice and stir with a  wooden spoon until the grains of rice are coated.  Pour in the wine and stir until it has been absorbed. Add one ladle of stock at a time, stirring until the stock has been absorbed.  Continue to add the stock one ladle at a time, stirring continually.  You may not use all of your stock as you want the rice to be firm (al dente) but creamy.

Once the rice is done, stir in your cheese.  Voila!  Risotto.

As far as adding vegetables is concerned, you can add things like peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, fresh peas, roasted root vegetables, spinach, kale, tomatoes, leeks, etc…  My very favorite book- my go-to idea source is a little book called “risotto: 30 simply delicious vegetarian recipes from an Italian kitchen” by Ursula Ferrigno.  I love all of the ideas and inspiration in it.  You can find it here.

 

risotto

 

 

Now, on my list of things to try…

~friends RAVE about fava beans, and this recipe looks like the perfect first try!

~it’s rhubarb season and this sponge would be divine under a rhubarb compote!

~speaking of rhubarb (and I think I will be speaking about it a lot in the coming weeks) I am looking forward to trying these this weekend.  Even the photo has my mouth watering!

~this looks like the absolutely perfect spring salad, don’t you think?

 

Have a wonderful weekend mes amies!

x

spring, chili and a {sick pup}

Spring seems to be coming to the farm in fits and starts.  One weekend is filled with sunshine, warmth and hours in the gardens, the next, a cold rain keeps us indoors.  I am so ready for spring this year- excited to get the vegetable gardens planted, the lawns cleaned up and the hammock hung.  I am looking forward to hanging laundry on the line and bringing it in at the end of the day smelling of sunshine and fresh air.  I will tell you that I have been enjoying the longer days- waking to the sun rising, watching the sun set after dinner. The one saving grace on these rainy days is that the sun will occasionally make an appearance at the very end of the day- just in time to cast it’s warm rosy orange glow into our windows.  It is such a beautiful way to wrap up a day~

Yesterday was one of those dark wet days that normally cause me to sigh when opening the windows in the morning.  However yesterday it felt appropriate.  M. Louis was admitted to the animal hospital two nights ago with an intestinal obstruction.  He hadn’t been feeling well for the past week and had definitely lost his spunk these past few days.  He took a notable turn two days ago and I felt that worry that a mama feels when her intuition knows something isn’t right.  So yesterday they did surgery on him to remove the blockage, which turned out to be a dog toy that he had swallowed.  Poor little buggy.  He is still at the hospital enjoying his morphine drip and they are keeping a close eye on him.  We are hoping that he may come home tonight and I have a feeling there is going to be a pretty spoiled little French Bulldog in this house.  (and when I say little- I mean LITTLE! he lost a fair bit of weight and he was only 17 lbs to begin with)

So, with the cool weather I decided that chili sounded right.  I didn’t have any peppers but always keep canned tomatoes and tomato paste as well as dry beans on hand, so I simply grabbed some ground beef, onions and garlic as well as some spices and chili it was!  Topped with a dollop of greek yogurt (or sour cream) and you are golden~

chili

 

Chili

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 lb ground beef (I use low fat content so I don’t have to drain it)

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

I large can of diced tomatoes

1 small can of fire roasted tomatoes

1 really small can of tomato paste

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa

3 cups kidney beans

 

In a soup pot saute onions and olive oil over medium high heat.  When the onions are slightly translucent add ground beef and brown.  When it is nearly brown add garlic, chili powder and red pepper flakes.  Finish browning the beef, stirring occasionally.  Once beef is completely browned add the three cans of tomatoes and mix well, reducing the heat to medium.  Add cocoa powder and cook for about five minutes, stirring to completely incorporate cocoa.  Add beans- I use dry and soak them the night before, then cook them the morning I plan to make chili.  Canned work just fine as well.

Simmer chili for at least an hour on low heat.  Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream.  Also divine with corn bread~

chili-2

 

Chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting {revisited}

Hello friends~
Nearly two years ago I posted a recipe for chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting.  I had no idea so many people would enjoy it although I do know how much we love celebrating with this cake.  Truth be told I actually love the salted caramel most of all- I use it for dipping apples, over popcorn and on ice cream. 
I thought I would repost it so that if you missed it, you would be able to try it yourself.  I also wanted to welcome any new readers from Where Women Cook.  I was honored to have been included in their most recent magazine and am happy to meet so many new readers~
Have a fabulous week and if you try the cake, let me know how you like it!
***
***

Hello my fellow cake lovers!

I finally found my favorite combination of chocolate cake and salted caramel frosting. It took some time, experimenting with a few chocolate cake recipes, not to mention my time spent tasting salted caramel recipes. I am a BIG lover of salted caramel. From the salted caramel macarons at Laduree to salted caramels dipped in chocolate – I adore it all.

Today I made a three tier chocolate cake layered with salted caramel buttercream frosting. #1 was returning from his first ever camping trip with friends, sans adults, and I was so happy to see him. I wanted to celebrate. Now, you should know that I am not a talented cake decorator. I don’t do decorative finishes, perfect swirls, or use those tip-thingies to make little flowers. My priority seems to be taste – plain and simple. And this cake tastes divine. It isn’t overly sweet – just a nice moist chocolate cake, perfect for a birthday or a celebration, or simply a dinner with some really fabulous boys in your life~

***

Chocolate Cake
adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your cake pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended. Divide your batter between your cake pans – use any extra to make some cupcakes. I like to fill my 6″ rounds 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Salted Caramel
~wonderful for endless desserts!

Salted Caramel

1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, kosher or sea

1. Combine the sugar, water, and the corn syrup in a large saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
2. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
3. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
4. Do not stir from this point on, but instead swirl the liquid around the pan so that the caramel doesn’t burn.
5. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
6. *** Be careful here *** Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. The mixture will bubble up significantly and is very hot.
7. Stir the mixture, again being careful. Add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
8. Measure 1 cup into a Pyrex measuring cup. Stirring occasionally, allow to cool until thick like molasses and warm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Save any extra in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It is delicious on ice cream, not to mention your finger… :)

Salted Caramel Frosting

2 sticks butter at room temperature
8 ounces of cream cheese
3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup salted caramel (recipe above)

1. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine.
3. Add 1 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine.
4. Add additional powdered sugar until the frosting is the sweetness and consistency you desire.

Enjoy!

***

where I can be {found}

wwc

 

I am so incredibly flattered to be included in such an amazing group of women.  Photographed by my sweet friend Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon who is one of the few people with whom I can be comfortable in FRONT of the camera…  If you want to see for yourself, grab the newest edition of Where Women Cook!  (yes, I bought three copies to send to my family…)

 

x

 

wwc2

keeping the past alive {through food}

recipe box

 

 

I am feeling a bit under the weather today which makes it the perfect time to work on a project in the house. I feel like I have been running constantly these past few weeks and haven’t taken time to just stop, look around and work on something quiet.  Today my body is telling me that the time has come.  It is dark and damp out and the fireplace is warm and inviting.

 

recipe box-4

 

While on the east coast last month I was given an amazing gift.  A friend came across an old box of hand-written recipes from the 20s through the 70s.  It is an amazing collection of family meals, baked goods and mostly lost recipes we no longer make.  The papers are delicate and worn- some so fragile I worry they won’t last much longer.  When I hold them I imagine the woman who sat at her kitchen table carefully writing them out.  I imagine the family she fed, the girlfriends she exchanged the recipes with and how she spent her time in her own kitchen.  I want to know her, and through her recipes maybe I will in some small way.

recipe box-3

 

My goal is to copy her recipes and compile them into a small book with the best ones.  I hope to make as many of them as possible- although I’m not certain I can find all of the ingredients called for!  I would like to share them occasionally with you as I love the idea of keeping some of the past alive through food.

recipe box-2

 

 

***

back to {basics}

ribollita-5

 

 

Today I want to talk about returning to the basics, and when I say that I don’t only mean the way we eat or the way we live, but by the way we think as well.  This post is going to get deep, and philosophical, but stick with me, because I would love to hear your thoughts at the end.  I really really would.

 

Lately I find myself thinking about the simplest of things, and how I want to remember to be thankful for them.  I look at my 42 year old legs in the mirror and while they may not be the legs that I dream of (as seen on far too many pinterest pins), I am thankful that they get me where I need to go, and so far, without any pain or discomfort.  I know that not everyone can say the same, and one day, I may not be able to say that either.  But for today- I can.  And so I am grateful.  I am grateful for those darling sweet but sometimes lippy sassy snarky little (and not so little) boys that I live with.  I am trying to embrace those moments that I used to want to “just get through” because even though they try every last ounce of patience I have, I know that they won’t last forever.  I know I am “that mom” that will sit in this same chair one day, remembering these days- the good ones and the challenging ones- and wish I hadn’t wished them away when I was in the thick of it.  So today I want to look at them and savor all of the moments I have with them, and try to engrain it in my mind so that it will be clear when I need to recall it down the road.

 

ribollita-3

 

There are so many things in life that we simply pass by, pass over, or rush to get through.  There are things that others would give anything to have, and yet we take them for granted.  There are times that seem so overwhelming or difficult and yet it is those very moments that are the gateway to something great, something we never saw coming and yet are so thankful that it did.  But it seems that life gets crazy, and busy and it’s as if we can’t see clearly when we are so surrounded by it all.  Sometimes it feels as if we are trapped on a roller coaster and don’t know how to get off.  But for some, there is an event that stops them in their tracks and gives them such clarity on what really matters that it changes their lives.  Sadly, most of those “moments” – the ones that really stop us in our tracks are tragic moments.  Why is it that it so often takes a loss of something we love to shake us into seeing what has been right in front of us all along?   So lately I have been trying to see it- see the things that really matter and showing them that they mean the world to me.  Whether it is taking more time with my sweet family, spending more time doing things together or stopping everything to talk to them when they need it.  It is cooking more comfort food, more special treats, more big farmhouse breakfasts.  It’s walking around our property, enjoying the animals and gardens and dreaming of what we will plant this year to enjoy at mealtimes.  It’s all of it- this amazing wonderful crazy life we have been blessed with- I want to be grateful for it all.

 

ribollita-2

 

This isn’t about “look at those people in that third world country and see how little they have and isn’t it a little ridiculous that we have so much”.  This is about “I am so blessed by the things- whatever those things are – that I have and that any moment it could all be taken away and what things really matter and I’m going to start really enjoying them now- every. single. day”.  So for me, it comes down to this.  The internet is nice, and inspiring and filled with ideas.  Pinterest is nice and pretty and filled with ideas.  But what matters to me is my family, and those we love and making people happy.  The rest is gravy- and I am no longer going to worry about “keeping up” with the things that so many people think are important.  There is something wonderful about loving our home, and having it feel welcoming and comfortable.  But for me, there is no value in constantly changing it and comparing our home to those we see online and feeling like it will never be “good enough”.  If the people I love live in it, it is better than good enough, it is fabulous.

 

ribollita-4

 

So, with that in mind…

The book “An Everlasting Meal” by Tamar Adler sits on my bedside.  If you have any interest in simplifying your meals, your kitchen, or the way you work with food, you should read this book.  I love it.  I tend to use it more as a reference as there are so many great ideas and inspiration in this book, I find myself going back to it over and over again.  Tamar Adler talks about the importance of shopping seasonally, preferably locally, and so much she writes reminds me of the life my friends living in Europe experience every day.

 

My favorite concept in the book is how she ties things together in an effort to eliminate waste in the kitchen.  Tamar writes of creating one meal, and then saving all of the byproducts for other things, as well as using the leftovers to create an entirely different meal the following day.  That is one thing I have always loved about my friend Ange- her skill and inspiration in the kitchen, creating completely different lunches from the previous evenings dinner!

 

ribollita

 

One traditional Tuscan soup is Ribollita.  One of my wonderful readers wrote the following from a source she found, which I loved!

“Ribollita is a famous Tuscan soup, a hearty potage made with bread and vegetables.  There are many variations but the main ingredients always include leftover bread, cannellini beans and inexpensive vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, beans, silver been, cavolo nero and onion.  It’s name literally means “reboiled.  Like most Tuscan cuisine, the soup has peasant origins.  It was originally made by reheating (i.e. reboiling) the leftover minestrone or vegetable soup from the previous day.  Some sources date it back to the Middle Ages, when the servants gathered up food-soaked bread trenchers from feudal lords’ banquets and boiled them for their own dinners.”

This soup has inspired me to look at my pantry and make some changes with regards to the things I keep in it.  I will be doing a post on that soon~

 

Ribollita is total comfort food.  My family loved it and I am sure it will become a weekly staple in our home.  I would love to know if you try it or if you have made it before~

 

 

Ribollita

adapted slightly from the brilliantly inspirational book “An Everlasting Meal”

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 medium onion diced

2 cloves garlic diced

3-4 carrots diced

2 stalks celery diced

salt

1/2 tsp chili flakes- I used 1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 cup parsley and rosemary chopped- I find both fresh and dried work but if using dry, use less

1 can stewed tomatoes or 3 whole tomatoes

1 bunch leafy greens like collard greens, swiss chard or kale

1/4 cup water

2 cups any white beans

2 cups homemade broth- I use chicken

1 parmesan rind

2 cups stale bread

 

Heat 1/4 inch olive oil in a large pot.  Cook the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in the oil.   Salt them as soon as you add them.  Once they begin to soften add the herbs and chile flakes.  Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon as they soften and cook over medium heat for a few minutes.
Add the chopped greens and the water.  Cover the pot and cook over low heat until the greens wilt.  Add the beans, broth and parmesan rind.  Bring to a simmer, then add the bread and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Cover the pot, turn the heat as low as you can and cook for half an hour, checking occasionally to make sure it isn’t burning and adding a little broth or water if it seems too dry.  The bread must cook and absorb everything it can, and then melt into the soup.
Stir in another 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil, taste, remove the cheese rind and serve warm with fresh grated parmesan and black pepper.

 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

x

ribollita-6

{chevre}

 

chevre

 

Easy, delicious and fun to do on a winter afternoon~  make chevre.

 

1 quart goat milk

1/3 cup lemon juice

 

In a large pot slowly warm milk to 180 degrees.  Stir milk with rubber spatula as to avoid scorching the milk.

When the milk is 180 degrees add lemon juice.  As you stir the milk it should begin to curdle.  Let milk rest for 20-30 minutes.

Line a colander with five layers of cheese cloth.  Place colander over a large bowl and pour milk into the cloth.  Let cheese sit for 1-2 hours.  When the liquid is finished draining it can be seasoned, put into storage container and stored in the refrigerator.

 

Looking for even more inspiration?

this spice cake

loving these valentines ideas

and these little bags are darling

or these little cookies

 

Have a fabulous week!

x

 

 

 

 

{spiced} nuts

spiced nuts-3

 

There is something about walking into a home that smells of sugar and spice and pine.  Right now, that is what our home smells like- and I couldn’t be happier.  It is Friday and we are a mere four days away from Christmas- and there is a LOT of baking going on.  Recently I took a class taught by my sweet friend Ashley (who writes a blog that inspires me daily) and one of the things we learned was the recipe for spiced nuts.  As someone who loves to give gifts of food, these babies fit the bill perfectly.  There are a few bags going in the mail tomorrow and today the house smells of cinnamon and paprika, rosemary and thyme.

 

spiced nuts-2

 

Sweet and Savory Spiced Nuts

from {not without salt}

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp Turbinado sugar

1 tsp finely minced fresh thyme

1 Tbsp finely minced fresh rosemary

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp coarse salt

1 egg white

1 pound raw mixed nuts

Fleur de sel or other sea salt to finish (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with the maple syrup and Turbinado (dark brown sugar is also fine) sugar.  Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the herbs, spices and salt.  (not the finishing salt)

In a large bowl whip the egg white until frothy.  Toss in the nuts, then stir to coat.  Then at the butter and spice mixture.  Spread nuts in a single layer on the prepared pan.  Bake in the preheated oven, turning occasionally, until the nuts are glazed and shiny with a deep golden color, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven then sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel if using and stir again.  Cool completely then store in an airtight container.

 

spiced nuts

 

Enjoy these last few days preparing for Christmas my friends –  these are the busy days for us, soon to be followed by good food, quiet days hanging out as a family and hopefully a bit of snow!

x

 

making {crackers}

 

Recently I took a class with Ashley who authors Not Without Salt to learn a number of wonderful recipes for holiday treats.  I truly loved them all.  Today I wanted to share with you the recipe for the crackers we made.

Crackers are the basis for so many snacks and appetizers.  Around the holidays we consume a lot of crackers- most often with cheese.  Seeing as I love making ricotta, these crackers are the perfect snack under a dollop of creamy white ricotta.  The great thing about these crackers is that you can put anything on them- from sea salt and rosemary to seeds and herbs.

As for our house, my boys seem to prefer them right off the pizza stone, still warm and broken in pieces.

Enjoy!

 

semolina-crackers-recipe

 

 

 

{vanilla}

 

Years ago my Grampy came back from Jamaica with vanilla beans.  Lots of them.  He shoved them all in a small bottle of rum and put that bottle up in a kitchen cabinet.  And there it sat.  Being a young girl, I promptly forgot about it.

 

He brought it back out months later and invited me to take a smell what was in the bottle.  Lo and behold, the scent of vanilla wafted out of that rum bottle!  Grampy had made vanilla, which I’m sure Grammy baked with for some time afterwards.

 

Whenever I make vanilla- and it isn’t often, I think of my Grampy- a man who may have been the most influential man of my formative years.  Today isn’t the time to post about him.  Surely when I do there will be tears, as he was a great man and his passing broke a little something in my heart.  But today I made vanilla, and thought of him, and the twinkle in his eyes when he smiled.

 

 

sharing some Friday inspiration~

~these two really have it going on

~simple holiday decor, scandinavian style

~it’s a makers holiday season

~all sorts of delicious

~one-of-a-kind get-away

~a favorite place

 

Courtney & Kim cook {squash}

 

We are back!

We enjoyed busy summers but are looking forward to getting back into our monthly routine of posting gorgeous produce and delicious recipes- starting with my favorite food season- Autumn!  I love the heavy greens, the root vegetables, and the endless squash that are available.  It is the season of slow roasting and slow cooking.  Words like simmer and braise and roast are used frequently in our home.  Walking into the house, you are often greeted with the smell of something wonderful wafting down from the kitchen.  It is time to come indoors, cozy up, and slow down.

 

This month we cooked squash and I think we both really enjoyed it.  I made squash soup for the first time and loved it!  I most often roast squash- either to mix into things or with butter and brown sugar, which my family loves.  However I wanted to try something new- thus, soup!  I hope you like it and would love to know if you try it!

Butternut Squash Soup

from epicurious.com

 

Vegetable oil spray

1 2-pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch of grated nutmeg

1 cup milk or half-and-half

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

 

Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with the vegetable oil spray.

Place the squash halves, cut side down, in the prepared dish. Pierce the skin sides several times with a fork. Bake until the squash is tender, about 45 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Using a large spoon, scrape the flesh from the cooked squash into a food processor. Discard the skins. Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth, the cinnamon, marjoram, thyme, and nutmeg and puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a large saucepan. Whisk the milk into the soup over medium heat. If you prefer a thinner consistency, add the remaining broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

***

And of course Courtney is back with another recipe that I am already excited to try!
 ***

 

 

 

 

Enjoy and happy cooking!

xx

Apricot {confiture}

 

Yesterday was spent collecting fruit and researching jam.  Late in the afternoon I tried a recipe that I had seen recently on one of my favorite websites – The Cook’s Atelier.  Aren’t the apricots a gorgeous color?

 

This morning I will be working on raspberry jam- wish me luck.  I haven’t ever made jam without store-bought pectin until last night so it feels far more risky and adventurous~

 

xx

Vietnamese {coffee}

Recently #3′s teacher sent me a link to a video.  Now, normally this wouldn’t have been a big deal- people send me links to things.  But upon receiving this video, I came to the realization that a.) said teacher really truly “got” me- we have so clearly connected, and; b.) I think I am going to cry like a baby when this year is over this week as I can say with certainty we will most likely never have two such amazing teachers as we have this year.  (Between #4′s and #3′s teachers this year we have absolutely hit the once-in-a-lifetime jackpot!)  Thank you Mr. A – for this link and for the fabulous year you have given us.  I am excited that this coming Wednesday Mr. Archuleta will be my guest poster for my {Simple Moments} series~

So, after watching this video at least 20 times- and counting- #4 and I took a trip to the International District yesterday to pick up our supplies.  We were going to make our own Vietnamese coffee!  (Random fact: I love foreign drinks! I fell in LOVE with Chai in India and drank cup after cup of it while there.)

 

I also love the music- “Ding Dong” is now on my dance-around-the-kitchen playlist.  It’s so catchy- don’t you think?

 

Vietnamese coffee

1 1/2 Tbsp coffee

2 Tbsp condensed milk

Vietnamese coffee filter

boiled water

 

To learn how to make it, you will need to watch the video, as I couldn’t possibly explain it as well~

 

 

Let me know if you try it and how you like it!

Have a wonderful Sunday mes amies.  Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there!

xx

 

 

Courtney & Kim cook {lemons}

Lemons.  Lemon flavored anything for that matter- I love it.  Be assured, if I am ever offered the choice of chocolate or lemon for dessert, I’m going lemon every time.  I love lemon scones and lemon tart and lemon meringue pie and lemon drops- the ones served in martini glasses with a little curl of lemon peel on the rim.  I was so excited when Courtney agreed to do lemons this month as I have a few recipes that I like, as well as a few I wanted to try.  Today I am going to share my favorite recipe for lemon mousse compliments of one of my favorite tv personalities- Ina Garten.  On a special side note, I get to go see her in September and I am so excited to hear her speak and hopefully be inspired by her story and her journey to where she is today~

 

Enjoy the mousse and let me know if you try it- it is light and refreshing with the right amount of richness to be a wonderful summer dessert~

 

 

Lemon Mousse

courtesy Ina Garten

 

Ingredients

  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 3 extra-large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup good bottled lemon curd, at room temperature
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows
  • Sliced lemon, for garnish

 

 

Directions

In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture is thick like pudding. (I change to a whisk when the mixture starts to get thick.) Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.

Place half the *egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula. Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Fold in the lemon curd, and pour into a 7-inch-diameter, 3-inch-deep souffle dish. Decorate with sweetened whipped cream and lemon slices that have been cut into quarters. Chill and serve cold.

 

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium and then high speed until the cream just forms still peaks.

 

***

And then there are Courtney’s lemons.  The lemons that she somehow found a way to paint in the middle of a huge cross-country move.  Through the packing and the driving and the unpacking and the making of a new home she also found the time to cook a new recipe and paint gorgeous lemons.  The girl is a machine people- a machine.  Visit her on her blog to see her post on how it all went down~

***

***

 

Lemon Ricotta Cookies (via here) 

(It’s from Giada De Laurentiis)

Side note-if you have limes as opposed to lemons, that works really well too.

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick softened, unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 ounces of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 Tbs of fresh lemon juice
  • The zest of one lemon (zest first, then juice. It will save you a lot of headache!)

The Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • The zest of one lemon

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and put to the side.

3. In another bowl (or a stand mixer) beat the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Takes about 3 minutes. Add one egg at a time, allowing each one to incorporate before you add the next one. Next, beat in the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest until it’s all combined.

4. Finally, stir in the dry ingredients.

5. Spoon the dough onto parchment lined baking sheets (roughly 2 Tbs per cookie) and bake for 15 minutes. (You can start making the glaze while they bake.) You’ll know they are finished when they are slightly golden at the edges.

6. Take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool down for about 20 minutes

Glaze Directions:

1. Combine the confectioner’s sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a bowl and stir until it’s smooth and creamy. Spoon about 1/2 tsp of the glaze per cookie and smooth with the back of the spoon. After sitting for approximately 2 hours, the glaze will be nice and hardened and you can package them up. Or you can do like me and eat a few as soon as the glaze hits and then put the rest in the frig until they set.


 

let’s talk {food}

 

First of all I want to thank each and every one of you who wrote something thoughtful or kind or filled with words of wisdom on my keeping it {real} post.  Every time a post like that pours out of me, I feel forever grateful and so incredibly blessed to have you in my life, sending love and support when it is needed.  So thank you.  I also want to make sure you know that when I post something like that- I am not falling apart.  I am merely hoping for some words of wisdom or the voice of experience to come my way and help me make it over a hump.  As I told a friend today, when you see a post with few words sharing that something awful has happened and that is it- then you worry.  If I ever mention my children, my parents, or my Grandma- come running.  Seriously.

 

Okay, so we have gotten through the heavy post for this season, and I hope that after reading the posts shared by my incredibly wise friends you are feeling inspired to take the time to notice those little things- those simple moments- that are so incredible if you take the time to acknowledge them.  Just try it- I promise, you won’t be sorry. So, now that those few things are taken care of, let’s move forward- onto food!

 

One of the greatest things {in my opinion} about summer are the meals that are enjoyed outdoors – long leisurely meals that may take a bit of preparation, or not, and can be nibbled at while enjoying a glass of wine under the stars visiting with friends and family.  That is my happy place.  I also love using what is in season in a meal that I have made so many times, I know the basic ingredients by heart.  There is something wonderful about those good old stand-by meals that are easily pulled together in a pinch and simply expanded by adding a bit of this or that when your guest list increases by a few more.  Which brings us to pasta salad.  It can be made ahead and pulled out when everyone has gathered around the table.  It also tastes just as good on paper plates out by the fire pit.  Simple simon baby!  Add bread, a plate with some cheese and cured meats, something pickled, and a bottle (or two) of wine and you are good to go.

 

I recently saw a photo on instagram taken by an incredible cook and photographer- Kelly Cline – which inspired me to enjoy the beauty of colorful produce mixed with pasta (gluten-free these days).  Right now Trader Joe’s has fabulous little heirloom tomatoes readily available which are great just sliced in half or roasted (which I did today).  Feta cheese is great, as is asparagus which is also in season right now.  I add in herbs from the garden and basil which isn’t in the garden quite yet.  We always keep olives on hand so I usually toss a few of those in for a bit of tangy bite.  Honestly though, the best thing about this recipe is that you start with pasta, end with a light vinaigrette, and add your own choice of ingredients in between!  How simple is that?

 

 

I hope that whatever you have planned this weekend, there is good food involved.  Try something new, or get creative with one of your comfortable favorites – but enjoy the process- and the company you share it with!

Happy Friday mes amies!

the mighty {frittata}

 

***

With my recent departure from using wheat in my meal planning, I have been searching for recipe inspiration that will appeal to my family- recipes that won’t leave them feeling like they are missing out on something.  I have found some alternatives that my people really seem to like.

 

One thing that seems to be a perfect fit here on the farm is frittata.  I mean, we grow potatoes, we gather eggs from our hens, and I always have a selection of herbs in the gardens.  Thus, an onion and some cheese and we are golden.  I love meals that feel like we are utilizing our own land, and the mighty frittata does just that!

 

I have seen so many recipes for them – online, in cookbooks that I use as resources for all things inspiring, and through friends.  One thing that is particularly appealing to me when it comes to frittatas is the flexibility one has with the ingredients that are used.  You can incorporate so many things, and it is a great way to use up produce that might be getting a bit past it’s prime.

 

I usually slice my potatoes by hand, as thinly as I can.  A mandolin would clearly slice them thinner but that is one more step in the clean-up process and when I am making frittata, it is usually done quickly, thus, I am not keen on making more work for myself.  I generally add time to the potato cooking portion as I know my thicker potatoes are going to take a bit longer.  My boys really don’t like when the potatoes aren’t quite cooked – crunchy potatoes = bad.  I also usually use yellow potatoes as a.) it is what we grow, and; b.) they seem to hold their shape better when cooking.  Russet or baking potatoes often go mushy for me and with a frittata, I like them to retain their shape.

 

 

Basic Frittata

8 large eggs

2 Tbsp whipping cream

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp oil- I have been using coconut lately

1/2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

 

 

Potato Frittata

Basic Frittata ingredients plus:

5 small potatoes sliced as thin as you can

1 small onion, chopped

1/3 cup goat cheese

 

Preheat oven to 425° F and place rack in the center of the oven.

 

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, and salt.  Set aside.

 

In an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat melt oil and butter, and then add onion and sauté until lightly golden.  Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes – until the potatoes are relatively soft.  Remove potato and onion mixture from the skillet and set aside.

 

Reduce heat to just below medium and add egg mixture to the skillet.  Slowly cook eggs, occasionally pulling them away from the side of the pan and letting uncooked egg mixture underneath the cooked eggs.  When the eggs are almost cooked and the liquid is nearly gone add potatoes and onions to the top.

 

Crumble goat cheese over mixture and place skillet in the oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted.

 

I would love to hear what variations you come up with!

making choices with my {food}

I love food, as most of you know.  There is something comforting about it- the entire process of shopping for ingredients, spending time in the kitchen using it to make meals for my family and friends, and then enjoying it at the table along with conversation and laughter.  I love finding new recipes to try, but always enjoy making my tried and true favorites.  Using my collection of cookbooks is wonderful but knowing the recipe by heart is also incredibly satisfying.

Lately, however, I have had a difficult time denying that something is affecting me and while I have some ideas, I have embarked on a journey into food exploration- more importantly how my body reacts to certain foods.  Just over a week ago I removed wheat from my diet.  Cold turkey.  I haven’t had a stitch of it in 10 days.  I will be honest – it is the first time in my entire life (except when I gave up french fries for Lent in 10th grade…) that I have stuck with anything having to do with food restriction.  So, while it probably won’t surprise any of you who actually have some self-control that often one discovery leads to another, it definitely surprised me that I became so cranky.  I mean, I didn’t give up coffee for goodness sake!  I simply opted to not eat wheat.  But after a few days I realized something.  I am a snacker.  I enjoy multiple small snacks throughout the day rather than big meals three times a day.  And while this is fine, it seems that I had become more accustomed to snacking on things that had wheat – AND SUGAR – than I had realized.  By removing the wheat, I also removed a large portion of my usual intake of sugar.  And that, my friends, made me edgy (not to mention short with my kids and overall rather bitchy).  Ten days later however I seem to be functioning far better and don’t feel so agitated, thank goodness.

The part of this process that worries me the most is that gap time between when I stopped eating wheat and the time when I really know “how to do it” – you know, baking, food options, etc…  I look forward to being able to whip up some scones when a girlfriend is stopping by, or bake something for my family for dessert or to celebrate.  For now, I have that lost feeling – really no clue about how different flours behave or what replaces what.  It is okay though, as I am embracing that feeling of walking into what is currently unknown to me.  I mean, how often as an adult do we get that feeling of not knowing what we are doing?  It is not something I often experience and sometimes it is interesting to immerse yourself in a bit of discomfort~  That being said, I am blessed to call a number of gluten-free people friends and they are wonderful with offering advice, recipes, and resources.  Think of all of the new things I am going to learn!

 

One thing I have rediscovered that is delicious and offers a lot of nutritional value is quinoa.  I had a bit of a love-affair with it while pregnant with #3 – we are talking a huge bowl once a day.  Cooked but plain.  I’m over that…  I do really like it though, and thanks to an incredible cookbook I bought last week called “Quinoa: The Every Day Superfood 365″ at the Book Larder while spending an afternoon with a girlfriend in Seattle, I have a huge selection of recipes using quinoa.  I already made one of the recipes to accompany marinated chicken breasts and it was wonderful!  I am excited to experiment with the dessert recipes, as well as the cookie recipes.  Really?  Cookies with quinoa?

I plan to share my progress as I work my way through the maze of food options and am looking forward to seeing what I discover.  I would love to hear if you have any foods that you don’t eat, and why.  (Well, aside from simply not liking them!)  I am always grateful to hear your stories of discovering food issues yourself and how you managed to adjust your eating habits in an effort to be healthier and feel better.

 

The following recipe is one of many delicious sounding recipes from my new cookbook.  If you are looking for a great book with gluten-free options, I can’t recommend this book enough.  I adapted the recipe the other night to what is below as it is what I had on hand.  This recipe would be incredibly versatile as it offers a wonderful base in which you could add anything that you like!

 

Bocconcini & Oregano Salad

adapted for our family from “Quinoa: The Everyday Superfood 365″

 

3/4 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 diced red bell pepper

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano

1 clove fresh garlic minced

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup tiny bocconcini balls

 

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 4 minutes.  Remove the lid and fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork.  Set aside to completely cool.

Combine the zucchini, tomatoes, and red pepper in a large bowl.

Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables and thoroughly mix all the ingredients.  Add the quinoa and bocconcini and mix until evenly combined.  Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.