These stuffed apples were so simple and very satisfying. Add it to your collection for 2016!
Click over here to another little corner of my world and check this healthy recipe out!
These stuffed apples were so simple and very satisfying. Add it to your collection for 2016!
Click over here to another little corner of my world and check this healthy recipe out!
We pretty much forgot to eat sugar in December, I mean like really eat sugar. (Don’t hate me and stop reading!) It wasn’t completely on purpose but more like saying we didn’t get a chance to go sledding. Sledding isn’t a part of our daily life, we have to go out of our way to do it, and there has to be a decent amount of snow to really be worth a ride down a bumpy hill. I’m not sure if this is working, but I’m going with it.
I think a few years ago I stopped making desserts that sit in the house for more than a day. If we make them, we enjoy them in that moment, guilt free, and then promptly give the rest away. Phew! This has been brilliant for me personally. I love to make and share, but I do not love staring at cookies for days.
While I don’t make sugar a part of our daily life at home anymore, when it’s a birthday or holiday we really go out of our way to make it worth it, something truly special. Like Jaime Oliver’s Brazilian Donuts I made with gluten free all purpose flour and dipped in dark boozy chocolate for Christmas morning. Yesssssss.
And that would be our present philosophy/goal on sugar: It has to be worth it–good enough and worth the consequences, because there are some for most of us.
This butterscotch custard makes the list of worth it for all of us in Burschland. It was the one dessert I actually made this Christmas, not counting the breakfast dessert donuts, ha! It’s made from scratch and a gluten free dessert option to boot.
I’ve made it every which way:
Butterscotch custard with whipped cream and chocolate shavings:
Butterscotch custard with bananas, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings:
Butterscotch custard a la creme brulee with the tiniest sprinkle of salt:
And my personal favorite, butterscotch custard with bananas bruleed:
I’m taking this recipe with me into 2016, even if I don’t pull it out until next Christmas! 😉 And since I made this again for a photo shoot, I have a couple left just waiting to give away. 😉
|Individual Butterscotch Custards|| |
Happy New Year!
Everything I am about to share with you is a gift for the remainder of your Thanksgiving week. It’s a hug in the form of greens. It’s positivity sandwiched before and after your indulgent Thanksgiving day. In case I’m confusing you here, it’s actually a salad, but it accomplishes both hugs and positivity.
You are going to want to eat it today if my pictures do it any justice. AND since you will be in the grocery store with every other single person in your city tomorrow (ugh!), you are going to want to just grab more kale and squash because a) they are both probably on sale and b) you know Thursday is going to make you feel like you need only salad for your whole weekend to come. Kale leading you in and kale leading you out.
If by chance you’ve been asked to bring a salad to your Thanksgiving festivities? Bring this one. Even if your family is like mine and for some reason has taken it on as their cause to dislike kale. I say, bring it on.
It is one of the best salads I’ve had in awhile, like since my last kale salad craving I suppose. Around this time of year, I tend to seek a salad to lighten my lunch life. Last year I was on repeat with the beloved Kale and Brussels Salad shown below. (Still love and yes please.)
But this year, this week, this month, has me looking and loving my lunch again thanks to #almosttwentyyears and #newyork. A week ago I had just flown to NYC to meet up with Tim and sat down at our hotel restaurant, Marta, for a for lunch date with myself. Tim recommended the Pollo Salad which was delicata squash, brussels, kale, perfectly pulled chicken, toasted pumpkin seeds and some amazing dried cheese. I went from this lunch to 3 more days of incredible meals all over NYC, but this salad did not leave my mind come Monday. I think it’s because it was beautiful but also felt attainable in the near future.
Delicata squash, friends. Do you all know about this? I might be the only one who has somehow skipped over this particular squash in the past, but this is why I LOVE eating out and traveling. It’s the exposure to a world of people and food that is different but so very good. I very easily found delicata squash at Whole Foods last week, as if I’d walked by it a million times. No worries, this is what I know now: you don’t have to peel it. What? This is revolutionary squash eating for the lazy/busy person. The thin skin cooks perfectly and holds the soft squash together in one great bite. Such a bonus.
If I were bringing it to Thanksgiving, I would skip the chicken obviously, but for lunch, I’d do it just this way.
Here is my salad selfie for the rest of November, sandwiched of course before and after some brown sugar pecan topped sweet potatoes.
|Delicata Squash and Kale Salad|| |
Apparently my last 3 months can be paired with a fruit. I wonder if I can keep this going?
The peaches and these people.
The grapes and this girl.
The pears and purgatory.
See what I did there? Matchy matchy. And by purgatory I don’t exactly mean an uphill climb rather a downward slope. Heaven knows there is really only one direction to go from there. Please say yes, November.
In spite of an annoying October, I did go searching for pears. Here’s the thing about pears, you HAVE to bring them home hard but not tooooo hard. The other day I found some lovely ripe organic bartlett pears but by the time the grocery bagger at the new Hyvee decided to put them at the bottom of a bag filled with bananas, coffee grounds, butter, popcorn, coconut aminos and a gallon of milk on top (not even kidding), they were pear sauce in a plastic bag when I got home. In this context, how gross does that sound? Grocery bag pear sauce for $8. Even if they hadn’t rumbled roughly down the grocery conveyer belt (yes, that too) you need hard enough pears to survive the trip home.
Good grief. When you hear things like, buy pears hard but not too hard, or make sure they are bagged correctly, oh and smell your fruit, it’s no wonder people stop trying to eat fresh foods. (For reals though, I do smell my fruit. If it smells like a rock then it probably tastes like one.)
Oh dearest pear tree, where ever art thou? Oh that’s right, not in Minnesota. 🙁 They were however found in my fruit loop journey through Oregon this past September–fruit farms and stands right off the side of the road, you lucky people of Oregon.
Pears are the perfect partners to pork and potatoes, and you don’t need them very ripe to roast just right.
Add just a little onion to the mix and you have another reason to love.
It’s a simple combination and one of our favorite fall dinners.
Hello November. I’m liking you already.
|Balsamic Roasted Pork with Pears and Potatoes|| |
Note: If you want or need to simplify this recipe, you can skip marinating and pan frying your pork chops. Just rub all pork chops, vegetables and fruits (as seen in picture below) with entire batch of marinade. Salt and pepper the whole dish well and cook for 45 minutes, or until meat and potatoes are fully cooked. I prefer the extra step of marinating and searing the meat if I have prep time, but I like this next best option on nights when I need to throw something in the oven sooner than later.
I can/will/want to eat tacos every single day. I’ve yet to get sick of them, and they keep getting better with age and experimentation. Am I talking about tacos or wine? Ok, both.
Do you remember your first taco? I do. Sibley State Park camp ground, age 7. Ha and not kidding. Margaret Fransen offered my parents something she was cooking up on her camp stove–crunchy shell, seasoned beef, cheese, lettuce and tomato. It was new to us (and it was awesome) but just the beginning. Thank you, Margaret.
My taco/Mexican evolution went something like this: Margaret’s Old El Paso Taco > Taco John’s soft shells > Chi-Chi’s in the ’80s > Don Pablo’s in the ’90s > variations of this Martha Stewart recipe > and then the changer of all game changers: the day Tim and I landed the last 2 brunch seats at Chicago’s Frontera Grill. Even though I did not eat tacos that day, it was the introduction to Rick Bayless (and his cookbooks) that lead to eating corn tortillas and learning how to make more authentic Mexican food.
It is interesting to observe that once I learned how to successfully heat up a corn tortilla, and quit buying flour as a thoughtless habit, the taco options grew exponentially for any meal of the day. Scrambled eggs and sautéed greens, beans and cheese, guacamole and fried egg, chicken and onions, steak and radishes, fish and cabbage slaw, sausages and kimchi, brussels and sweet potatoes. Good grief, we’ll eat corn tortillas filled with anything.
This simple chicken taco recipe I am sharing with you here is inspired from Rick in a couple ways that I can readily think of: the grilled chicken with knob onions (page 180) and the adobo marinade (page 140), both from his original Mexican Everyday. I’ve made a few changes over time that work for me and what I usually have on hand. I like the mild Ancho chili taste (poblanos) and have sweetened it up with orange juice, my latest sweetener craze.
It’s easy to make, keeps in the fridge, and adds great flavor for grilling or sautéing meat.
Here’s the marinade:
|Ancho Chili Marinade|| |
Here’s the chicken and my new favorite way to make onions for tacos (barely cooked with a little crunch). I finish them off with a splash of apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
|Ancho Chile Chicken Tacos with Cider Glazed Red Onions|| |
Note about kids and corn tortillas: all 3 of my kids had to warm up to eating corn tortillas over the years, even Evie who wasn’t undoing the habit of flour. It’s not an immediate love in texture for kids, from what I’ve noticed. While they didn’t always prefer it, nor were they forced to eat it, we didn’t buy flour and we kept on serving corn as an option. Zip to the present, there are now arguments on who ate the last corn tortilla and rules about putting it on the list when you do.
This salad finally happened. It was a necessary follow-up to the fried chicken and home made peach ice cream I made for extra special people this week. Whoa. Time out for salad!
Actually it was more like time out for fried chicken, which is so not our daily dish but definitely worth a little celebratory appearance this week. Having friends over for the first time in our 10 year adult friendship? How in the world has this not happened?? Fried chicken and homemade ice cream it had to be.
But back to the salad show.
I’ve had this orange balsamic dressing standing tall in my refrigerator since Monday, and it’s been patiently waiting for these greens. In our 5 trips to the grocery store in the last 5 days (and a garden outside!) I somehow didn’t have greens? How this happens I’ll never understand.
Today though, I have it all.
Pine nuts toasted.
And a sprinkling of pecorino!
This salad is so simple and light.
The orange juice naturally sweetens and offsets the vinegar (Whole30 approved btw!), and the simplicity of garlic, salt, and pepper gives the perfect bite.
Serve this dressing with tomatoes and ricotta? Yes.
This dressing with spinach, grapes, bacon, and broccoli? Sure.
|Orange Balsamic Salad Dressing|| |
I’m a peach freak. I love them sooooo much. They are probably my favorite fruit? Let me pause and make sure this feels true. Hmmm. Yes, peaches are at the top. But you won’t find us desperately eating a hard tasteless peach in January. Who can do that?
Come August? I’m daily making my way to the peach section to see if the beloved seasonal Colorado peaches are still being stocked. If so, 8 go in the cart. I just realized I get about 8 every time. Do you have a number? I don’t want a crate, I don’t even want a dozen. I would then have to mourn at least 1 going bad. But 8 this family can do justice to, in a 24 hour period.
Now Ev, who by the math above has had the chance to eat peaches 4 weeks out of her 4 year old life, is catching on to this peach thing and that makes 5 of us eating 8 peaches. Wait, I’m thinking my number better go up to 10, yes?
If there is any food that is worth waiting for and repeatedly visiting the grocery store, it’s the peach.
While I love to eat them with cream on top, I do love a roasted warm peach situation. This crumble has been my go-to at least once a year.
What I love about this kind of dessert are the options. It can be light or large – serve a half or whole peach per person. Make it gluten free like I did here, or use regular flour if that’s what you have and can tolerate.
Even last summer, I decided to throw peaches, raspberries, cinnamon and clarified butter from this recipe in a pan as a post-Whole30 experiment. It was yummy in a Whole30 kind of way. Wink wink.
IF you somehow manage to have leftovers, this concoction in a bowl would be my breakfast dream that rarely comes true.
This is not my reality today but since peaches are on my mind (and Tim was doing the football carpool this morning), I just texted him one little bitty request.
Sooner than soon we’ll all have to move on, but for now, here is one of our favorites!
|roasted peaches and raspberries with crumb topping|| |
A couple hours after walking in the door from vacation, I reluctantly drove myself to the grocery store and walked around tossing unappealing items into my grocery cart. Post-vacation blues were kicking in, but this task had to be done. Ugh.
But then. Then I spotted the peaches and knew it was all going to be ok.
August might be the Sunday to your weekend or summer vacation (as my teacher friends used to say before Ellen did), but it’s also peach season in Colorado. Thank the heavens.
Go get yourself some fuzzy seasonal peaches, and we’ll meet back here in a day with more ideas, okay? For now, here’s how my mom taught me to peel peaches without losing any of the good stuff.
Bring water to a boil, and set in your fresh peaches for 1 minute.
Remove peaches from the water and submerge in ice water to stop the cooking process.
Gently rub your fingers over the peeling. The peels should come right off.
If right about now you don’t understand why I would peel a peach, just look at these pretty things!
Peaches sliced up with fresh cream on top? The August antidote to post-vacation blues.
|How to Peel a Peach|| |
You know who you are. Someone could have stopped me from talking, but noooooo. When asked if I had used chalk paint, I said yes, that I had a chalkboard painted wall at home. I apparently didn’t know what I was talking about. It was the perfect example of Minnesota nice, you just pretended that what I said was half right? Ha! You also seem to have a gift that I did not inherit: your face does not give away what you are thinking. While I knew something was off in the room, I did not know why until later when I googled, “What did my cousin mean when she said chalk paint?” Promise me you will cut me off next time, please and thanks.
Cousin #10 of 18
Let me tell you what I did not know then. Chalk paint is not chalkboard paint!
Chalk paint (Look here at Annie Sloan) is a non-toxic water based paint that can be applied without sanding or stripping of the painted or stained surface. High five for all of you who also love NOT prepping in order to paint. I’m so impatient when it comes to painting furniture. A chocolate cake wrapped in a homemade ganache wrap? Sure, let’s spend hours doing that. But please don’t make painting last longer than it has to. Snip snap.
Chalk paint can also cover almost any material, not just wood. It has a matte/flat/chalk like feel when it is done. Therefore depending on the look you desire and how you will use the furniture, waxing it for protection and shine is usually recommended. In the past, I chose to cover it with a clear polyurethane instead of waxing because I used it on a dining room table that would have potential spills. I wanted a surface that could be wiped down pretty easily. I’m sure the finished product is lovely when waxed, I just haven’t tried that yet. (Please comment if you have!)
My latest victim? This orangey brown stained piano.
A sweet friend gave it to us and physically moved it into my house. I’ve loved having it in our home. But every single time I walked into the only room it fits in, I was distracted by the color. It made me frown and my shoulders slump. I wish I understood my feelings about decor but I’ve just learned to respect them. If it drags me down, something must be done about it when possible. And if there is one thing I have learned from growing up with a Dad who is a professional painter, color is one of the more inexpensive fixes to changing something for the better.
Previously, I had re-painted a dining room table and an end table with white chalk paint. It worked great going over old white paint. However, covering a brown stained piano seemed a bit more risky and for sure had a few more delicate parts to keep in mind.
Here is what I learned:
1. Read the back of the paint can, and follow what it says about stained surfaces. I actually read it but thought it didn’t apply. In hindsight it did and could have saved me some work. It now makes complete sense.
The back of the paint says this:
For most purposes, one coat of paint is enough. However some furniture, generally from the 1930s and ’40s, has a coating which may cause a stain to come through the paint. Don’t worry, just apply clear shellac to the stain, and repaint.
Because I had never painted a stained surface with chalk paint, and I didn’t think the piano was from the 30s and 40s, I didn’t do anything before painting this time. But sure enough, after two coats of chalk paint, yellow streaks were showing through.
This was as easy as the quote noted above. I bought a small can of shellac, rubbed it on with a sponge brush, and it dried within minutes. Then I proceeded to paint it again.
TIP: In the future if I am covering a stained piece, I will prep the furniture with a coat or two of shellac up front. It’s cheap, fast, and easier than painting multiple coats of a paint color.
2. In this order, I painted 2 coats of pure white, 1 coat of shellac to seal the stain, a 3rd coat of pure white to recover sealed stains, and ended with 1 to 2 coats of polyurethane (see note below). To cover this piano and the bench, I only used 1-32 oz can of Annie Sloan pure white paint. If I had covered with shellac first, I am sure I would not have done 3 coats of white. It really covers well and dries fast so you can do multiple coats at once.
Here’s one coat of paint without sealing the stain:
Here I am touching it 30 minutes later, and it’s ready for a 2nd coat.
3. When I was finished with the last coat, I touched up a few additional spots and covered it with a clear polyurethane. I like to use the top of our piano for a bar when we have company. I covered the top with a 2nd coat of poly just to be sure it’s a little bit more protected from any liquid spills. I did not do this all over. Remember, I am impatient. (I didn’t see any visual need.)
4. Chalk paint that is left open thickens a bit. By the time I painted the piano seat, the paint was getting low and thick. It left some bumps from the brush strokes on top. Since this wasn’t the look of the piano, I just took a fine grit sand paper and sanded it smooth, dusted it off, and applied the poly. Easiest paint fix I’ve ever made.
I am not a fussy painter when it comes to furniture because most of the furniture that I am drawn too is dinged up a bit and not perfect to begin with. There are small imperfections in my finish and even the wood in some areas shows a little cracking. Even though I was going for a fairly clean and crisp white look, I left this.
There is also a slight tinge of yellow in places (the creases) from the stain. If I had wanted, I could have filled in cracks and chips with wood filler first or given it another coat of shellac before the last coat of paint. I wanted it to belong in the rest of my imperfect house so I did not fuss with it.
Here’s the comparison:
This project took me less than 4 hours total, but knowing what I know now, I could have had it done in half the time. Let me know if you have any questions. If you have experience with chalk paint, I’d really love to hear your pros and cons.
I’m just letting you all in on the lunch you and I can now have until the end of summer. Go ahead and have it all year long but right now this very month of the summer? It’s just right.
So many things are not just right and frankly I try really hard not to make it my goal anymore to get it all right. Nevertheless when things are a little off I can get a little cranky. But it’s ooookay, I’m telling myself. It’s ok to not get things right, AND it’s equally ok not to love it when things go awry.
Like the other day. My oven was on because an honest and lovely friend tried a recipe of mine, and it was a dry failure for her. Blast. I made it again to see if I could solve the problem. Maybe I missed something, or could add a tip or two.
It’s ok, I told myself. I care about these things and that’s ooookay.
Making a recipe for the nth time was a choice I made because I love to cook and share correct information, but the fact that my less than a year old air conditioner decided to malfunction on the very same day was not ideal. I just happened to hear the weather report and a humid air mass was on it’s way. Hahaha. Well it certainly was! Of course. It’s all gonna be okay, I repeated.
Tomatoes, basil, ricotta cheese, prosciutto, pine nuts with buttered toasts? More than just okay.
I imagined this lunch for a few days before I collected it onto this plate. I was looking for a light lunch to bring to the cabin with some friends a few weeks ago. I kept picturing blue skies, kind faces, a slight warm breeze off the lake and this lunch. It felt a little random, but a bits and pieces kind of lunch is random, in the best possible way.
I came home the next week and made it for a friend who is pretty much rocking the “it’s ok to not be ok” thing right now, even though her circumstances severely stink. This time an honest and empathetic afternoon with this lunch were the fit of the day.
And for the 3rd time, these very willing and hungry housemates gobbled it up asking for more.
It’s official: humans love this lunch.
The thing about just right is that it changes with seasons and circumstances though. Don’t waste another second in the grocery aisle trying to decide what to have on hand for lunch this week. It’s summer. Go find yourself some tomatoes, as close as you can get to your home, and let it change your life–even if it’s just for a moment of gratitude in the midst of a cranky afternoon.
Here are some thoughts to get you started. Pull it apart, mix it up, and use your imagination. If it sounds good to you, I promise it will sound good to someone else.
|Tomatoes and Whipped Ricotta Plate|| || |