Friday, April 12, 2013
We recently returned from a family vacation to Hawaii which was won.der.ful! Hawaii is my place, my special spot! To me it's magical, wonderful, and there is nowhere on earth where I am more alive! I love how it smells, how warm the air feels, the beach, and the sunshine! During our stay I DEVOURED Bread and Wine! Oh My Word, what a FUN and easy read! I poured through this book, marking pages, underlining quotes, and meal planning. I've read all of Shauna Niequist's books. Being a girl who loves to cook, eat, and feed my people, this book was like candy to me and I couldn't get enough of it! Shauna shares some of the BEST ideas for putting meals together, and there are so many recipes I can't wait to devour! And what's better than that is that her husband eats a gluten free diet so the recipes even work for me and my family!! I couldn't wait to get home and try one of her recipes.
When we arrived back home it was 45 degrees and raining (tears!) so I decided to try her Magical White Bean Soup which was delicious and easy! I left my soup chunkier than she recommends because that's how we like it; but that's the only thing I did a little differently.
I wish that I could sit down at a table with Shauna and talk to her for a few hours. She shares so many of my thoughts, not only on entertaining, but even on things like instagram and blogging. I felt like a friend was talking to me as I read. I highly recommend this book as it's a great one to grab for your summer reading. I just know that you'll really enjoy it!
Magical White Bean Soup- taken from Shauna Niequiest's book Bread and Wine
"This recipe was inspired by Nancy Silverton’s Tuscan White Bean Soup with Prosciutto and Parmesan in her cookbook, A Twist of the Wrist.
I liked the idea of a thick bean soup with ribbons of prosciutto (for the meat eaters), a dusting of Parmesan (for the dairy eaters), and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Even though Nancy’s recipe calls for just olive oil, I’m in a serious balsamic phase, and I want it on everything." Shauna Niequist
2 shallots, sliced
1⁄2 pound carrots, sliced into thin coins on a diagonal
1 bulb fennel, sliced
4 celery ribs, sliced on a diagonal
6 cans white beans in liquid (cannellini or great northern beans)
Salt and pepper to taste
Prosciutto, torn into ribbons
Parmesan, curled into strips with a vegetable peeler
1 tablespoon rosemary, rough chopped
In a stockpot or dutch oven, soften two sliced shallots in olive oil over medium heat.
Add carrots, fennel, and celery, and allow to soften, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add beans in their liquid and chopped rosemary.
Cover and cook for 20 minutes at a gentle boil.
Taste, add salt and pepper, taste again—keep in mind that you’ll
get a good amount of salt from the toppings.
Cook for an additional 20 minutes, or longer if you have time.
Off heat, mash with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon for a rustic, chunky texture. If you’d like a smoother texture, run it through a food processor or use an immersion blender in the pot.
Mix a spoonful of Dijon, a few tablespoons of balsamic, a quarter cup or so of olive oil, some salt and pepper in a glass jar, then shake well. Adjust to taste—I usually like a 2:1 ratio of oil to vinegar and Dijon.
Serve with a small pitcher of vinaigrette, and bowls of prosciutto torn into ribbons, curls of Parmesan, and chopped rosemary.
￼￼ServeS: 6 to 8
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I'm so excited to announce that on Saturday April 20th I will be teaching two hands on cooking classes for kids at the Flour Pot Kitchen! I will be teaching a few of my own kids' very favorite dishes and then we'll all enjoy a meal together in a beautiful location! This is a hands on class and will be loads of fun!! I hope you can make it!
Here is the link: http://www.flourpotkitchen.com/kidsteens-in-the-kitchen.html
See you there!!
Thanks to Becky for the fun cooking collage!
Saturday, March 23, 2013
I've always longed to move somewhere sunny and have been mistaken for being from California many times! But lately I find myself feeling more and more content with just staying where I am. Even though we see our share of rain in Seattle we've enjoyed many days of blue skies lately which has just been wonderful! Today I took a nice, long run in the sunshine and soaked up some of that wonderful vitamin D. My husband took our youngest snowboarding up in the mountains and she came home with a little sunburn! I just seem to notice more and more the beauty that surrounds me where I live and see that I'm deeply treasuring the friendships that I've made over the years and find those people to be so valuable in my life! I've even been puttering around in the garden and getting my hands in the dirt is just good for my soul! I'm completely an outdoor girl at heart and if it were possible I would eat every meal out of doors! It's not quite warm enough for that here... Yet! BUT we did BBQ a few mean steaks this evening and ate in our sun filled kitchen while the dutch door was open, allowing lovely, fresh breezes to blow though which caused the candles to flicker with a romantic glow while we ate.
I love to "copy" meals that we've had that have beautiful memories attached to them and tonight we were pretending we were eating that first meal in Paris where the sweet owner of a lovely bar cooked steak frites for us at 10pm and we enjoyed our first Paris meal while basking in the atmosphere of a large table of french men laughing, eating, and enjoying life. Tonight we brought that home and ate together as a family in much the same way. It wasn't Paris, but it was home and we LOVED it!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I have this auntie that I've looked up to ever since I was a little girl. I've always thought her to be the "coolest" when it comes to fashion, home keeping, lifestyle, etc. In fact, I'm a regular visitor to her facebook page. She is a snow bird and lives in Arizona during our yucky winter months and recently posted photos of homemade lemon meringue pie which she made from lemons from her neighbors garden. I don't know if I had ever had lemon meringue pie before but I HAD to try it after seeing my auntie make it! Well now this is my very favorite pie!! It's so fresh and delicious! The lemon zest and freshly squeezed juice add SO MUCH to the taste! I will be making this over and over again all summer long! I served it to my grandpa, mom, and 2 of my aunties and they all said it was delicious! You've GOT to try it! :)
For the gluten free pie crust:
1 c cup4cup flour
1/4 t kosher salt (it's important to use kosher)
1/2 t sugar
1/4 c plus 3 T very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 T ice water, plus more if needed.
In the bowl of a food processor, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar. Sprinkle the butter over the top and pulse for a few seconds, or just until the butter is slightly broken up into the flour but still visible in pieces. Evenly sprinkle the water over the flour mixture, then process just until the mixture starts to come together. Dump the dough onto a work surface and press it together into a disk. Place the disk in a large zip-lock plastic bag. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or up to 1 day, or freeze up to 1 month. When ready roll out your dough for the pie crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
For the lemon meringue filling:
The original recipe found here.
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cup4cup flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 lemons, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
4 egg whites
6 tablespoons white sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
To Make Lemon Filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of hot sugar mixture. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Pour filling into baked pastry shell.
To Make Meringue: In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.
My oldest daughter has begun to enjoy cooking and finds great pride in preparing our family's meal from time to time. Tonight she made her very favorite recipe! I'm so proud watching her slice the raw chicken and then cook it in the hot olive oil! She's becoming quite capable in the kitchen and it's something that we can really enjoy together! I must admit that we're both getting a lot out of our time together in the kitchen!!
Spicy Mac N Cheese
1 package gluten free penne pasta
1 T olive oil
2 chicken breasts- diced into 1" pieces
1 1/2 t onion flakes
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t chili powder
1/2- 1 t chili flakes, to taste
2/3 c 2% milk
4 oz velveeta
1/2 c shredded cheddar
1/2 c shredded monterey jack
1/8 t ground cayenne pepper
1/8 t ground black pepper
1/4 c diced roasted red pepper
2 t gluten free breadcrumbs
2 t parmesan, finely grated
1/4 t finely minced parsley
1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions. I like to put about 1 tsp salt in the boiling water
2. Heat the oil over med-high heat in a large skillet. Add the chicken. Season with onion flakes, garlic powder, dried oregano, chili powder, and red pepper flakes. Cook until chicken is no longer pink.
3.. Combine milk, velveeta, cheddar cheese, jack cheese, cayenne pepper, and black pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
4. Drain the noodles and pour into the pan with the cooked chicken. Add the roasted red pepper. Pour the cheese sauce over the top and toss to coat.
5. Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, and parsley in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
6. Pour pasta into a serving bowl and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top.
I must admit that I do not enjoy winter at all! Once Christmas is over I begin counting the days until spring! I'm so thankful that tomorrow is the first day of spring!! To celebrate I planted sweet peas, sugar peas, and a bit of chard today!! Once I finished, I cut a bunch of Muscari to bring into the house and placed several small vases around the kitchen and living room. Let spring begin!!
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I couldn't sleep because we put my grandma in hospice last night so I figured I get my final finished for my last quarter of school. I'm going to miss working on final projects! I find that I pour my heart and soul into them. This quarter I took studio lighting and I had a blast shooting my final! I originally was going to shoot food as usual but then I decided to spread my wings and try something new while I had all of the equipment available for use. Man I enjoyed this shoot! My goal was to capture lots of personality! Baby Ava had me in stitches so many times! Shooting toddlers was a lot harder than I anticipated because I forgot how difficult it is for them to be still! I worked with her by shooting and shooting until I got the shot I wanted. And truly, if looking for personality was my goal then I couldn't have chosen a better model! I've known her mama since I was 14 years old because she's been my sister's best friend since preschool so that also kept things very comfortable and casual in the studio. What fun! If I had a studio like this available for use I think I just may enjoy shooting kids more than food!
I'm SO GRATEFUL for the opportunity of returning to school. It changed me in more ways than I had ever dreamed. I've found that having a skill that brings me such joy has been great for my self confidence. In addition, each week as I've taken criticism for my work it's helped me to develop a backbone. I remember my first critique over a year ago when I came home in tears! Now I just listen to what my professor and classmates have to say and apply the things that can help me grow without taking offense. This is a life skill that has helped me in other areas as well.
I could not be more thankful to Neal who funded my education. :o) I had such encouragement along the way from him and my family. At the beginning I wanted to quit so many times feeling like I would never get the hang of photography. Now there is little that stirs that fiery passion inside of me more than photography.
Where do I go from here??
Man! I don't know yet! But I feel that the world is my oyster. I've run after my education with all my heart and now as I finish I know that I will put the same passion into my career (as soon as I figure out which direction that is).
I never knew how much it would mean to me to find my passion- my creative side. When I was younger I would look to my younger brother who is a fantastic designer or my sister who is an amazing singer and decorator. Then there's my mom who can basically do anything and I always felt like I was the girl who could balance a good checkbook or write a workable budget. It brings me great joy to now have something that is mine! Something I'm crazy about! And if I can just say it once again, I'm eternally grateful!
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I hope you were able to enjoy Valentine's Day! I'm not one to make much of a fuss over Valentine's Day but this year we decided to make it extra special. We got each girl Valentine cards, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, and a small gift. I was thrilled when while shopping I found a valentine's box of Hawaiian chocolate covered macadamia nuts for Neal- his favorite!
Whenever I need help menu or party planning I always turn to Tracy from Loving Pretty Things because that's her specialty. She's my party planner, extraordinaire friend. She texted me some simple ingredients that I could make a marinade with for our prawns which were to.die.for. I need to figure out some measurements and get that recipe on my blog STAT because this meal was better than anything we could've ordered at a restaurant! We went with a surf and turf theme serving rib eye steak and prawns. I was only going to serve seafood but apparently it's not valentine's day for my husband without beef. :) Then we just tossed the asparagus with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper and grilled it for a couple of minutes. This was truly one of the best dinners I've ever had. I made the risotto in advance during the afternoon and then kept it in the fridge until it was time to serve it and reheated it before serving. This would make a great menu for your spring entertaining as well!
For the risotto:
prep time: about an hour
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 1/2 c arborio rice
2/3 pinot gris
1 c freshly grated parmesan
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the stock in a medium sauce pan and keep at a simmer.
In a separate saucepan melt half of the butter and add the onion stirring until soft and translucent. Add the rice and stir until well coated with the butter and heated through. Pour in the wine and boil until it has reduced to almost nothing.
Begin adding the stock, one ladle at a time stirring until it's absorbed by the rice. Continue until all of the stock has been added and cook until the rice is creamy and tender but still firm, about 15-20 minutes. ** you are gently stirring this entire time to keep the rice from sticking or burning at the bottom of the pan.
Salt and Pepper to taste and add the remaining butter and parmesan. Cover and let rest until ready to serve.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
My absolute FAVORITE room in the house is the kitchen. It's a tiny little kitchen but it's white and bright and all the people I love most in the world congregate there while I feed them and love on them. My favorite way to cook is with recorded shows of the barefoot contessa playing on my ipad and a candle lit. There are certain kitchen tools that I've found to be invaluable and completely worth the money and I thought I'd share my favorite kitchen objects here:
Tea towels by Studiopatro. They have the BEST colors and designs and they wash up beautifully.
Latte bowls from Anthropologie. My kids eat cereal almost everyday and these are the first bowls that never chip in the dishwasher, plus they come in super fun colors!
Dutch ovens by Le Creuset. People have asked me if they're worth the money before and I give them a hearty yes! I use them on the stove and in the oven. Mine is washed and washed and doesn't have a single chip! Plus they hold their heat well and come in pretty colors! I'm obsessed with the new quince color!
Boos cutting boards. They're so great left out on the kitchen counter and work perfectly well with my recommended knife!
Wusthof knives! I had a gift card to Williams Sonoma over the holidays so I bought my first good knife. What a HUGE difference it makes!! It makes life in the kitchen so much more enjoyable! I had no idea how much easier prep work could be with a fabulous knife! If you can only afford one I recommend the 8" chef knife. (that's the one I got!)
The fleur de sel hand soap from Williams-Sonoma. I LOVE this smell!!! I've been using this soap for 2 years now and still enjoy it every time I wash my hands!
Mrs. Meyers Dish soap. My favorite scent is lemon verbena. I'm a firm believer that good smells make cleaning more fun.
Fresh Herbs! I can't express this enough! Makes all the difference in the world! Mine grow in an old wash bin just outside the kitchen on the deck. It will change your cooking!
Grapefruit candle by Jo Malone. Okay. I understand this one is a pricey one but it smells DIVINE!! It's my favorite smell in. the. world! I don't always have one but when I do it's a real treat!!
And last but not least, any cookbook by Ina Garten simply because she's my favorite!
Well there you have it! A few of my favorite things! You know, Mother's Day is coming and maybe you can start hinting around if you see something you "need." :)