Recipe | Holiday Potpourri

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My newest favorite holiday addition to our home: the ever-simmering pot of holiday potpourri. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law pretty much continually have a similar pot going on their stoves this time of year, so I decided to try it this year. It's so, so lovely.

First thing in the morning, right after after nursing and putting on my slippers, I've been adding a bit of water to the pot and turning it on simmer. Just keep it on low heat all day long, and just add water from the tea kettle every so often so it doesn't get too dry or burn. These simple ingredients produce the most pleasant, wintry perfume that will just give you warm fuzzy feelings all day long.

Holiday Potpourri
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
A few bay leaves
1/8 cup whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp whole all-spice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Any other holiday spices
1 qt water

Put all ingredients into small pot, and simmer. Enjoy the holiday fragrance all day long!

Recipe | Roasted Persimmons with Yoghurt and Walnuts

Friday, November 20, 2015

 I spent the day in the kitchen today (besides the hour when I escaped during nap time, ran to the post office, and got a pedicure). We're spending the weekend away in Chincoteague (on a fun trip with General Motors...will be sharing more this weekend on Instagram!) and I wanted to make a few of our meals ahead of time so we would have more time to explore the island and hopefully see the wild ponies! I made one of our new favorite dinner dishes, a moroccan spice chickpea stew with spinach. It's so so good served over a mound of couscous. I also made another batch of [a different] butternut squash soup...this one is simple with basically just garlic and thyme. We never tire of butternut squash soup this time of year; it's just so hearty & satisfying, especially when we dip in crusty Dutch oven bread (which I made yesterday). We might not be packed and a few loads of laundry still need to be washed, but at least we have tasty food for our trip. If you're from the Chincoteague area, we'd love your island recommendations, especially for things to do with kids and coffee shops!

I also made this roasted persimmon with honey, yoghurt, and toasted walnuts dessert today. I know this recipe is going to be a new favorite in our household. Joe worked from home today, and I had to hold him and Zoe away from my concoction until I was finished photographing. Fruit & yoghurt desserts are a favorite in our household... The creamy, perfectly sweetened honey yoghurt paired with the roasted persimmon, slathered in a mixture of honey and spices and a touch of lime, and then the crunch of the toasted walnuts. Yum yum yum. This would probably be tasty if you chopped up the persimmons and added granola and made it a breakfast bowl. Lots of options!

Roasted Persimmons with Honey, Yoghurt, and Toasted Walnuts
loosely adapted from Nadia Lim
serves 6

2 persimmons
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ginger
A few star anise
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup boiling water
Zest from 1 key lime
Juice from 2 key limes, to taste
Noosa honey yoghurt
Toasted walnuts, broken into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice persimmons 1/4 inch thick and place on lined baking sheet. Mix all other ingredients together in small bowl. Reserve some lime juice. Spoon honey & spice mixture onto persimmons and place star anise pieces on each slice.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until persimmons are soft. Remove from oven and preheat oven to broil. Spoon a bit more of the honey mixture over the persimmons. Then broil persimmons for 5-10 minutes until nicely browned (be careful not to burn!).

Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes. Spread a large spoon of Noosa honey yoghurt on dessert plate. Place 2 persimmon slices on yoghurt and garnish with toasted walnuts. Sprinkle with a bit of reserved lime juice, to taste. I like a generous amount because the citrus really balances out the sweetness of the honey-roasted persimmons.

This post is brought to you in partnership with Noosa YoghurtThanks for supporting sponsored posts - it helps allow me to continue to produce quality content! 

A Simple Holiday Table

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Zoe and I sat down yesterday with a few wintry greens and weeds from our yard and grocery store berries and foliage and we made two centerpieces, a mommy-sized arrangement and a baby-sized arrangement. Besides having me clip the stems where needed, she made the smaller arrangement all my herself! She was so proud of her work (I was too), and I loved the carefree nature of her design (pictured on the shelf to the right of the table).

Having a 2 1/2 year old has brought so many wonderful opportunities...conversations, lessons, working side-by-side, questions (and the not so wonderful side of discipline, messes, things taking 2x -or more- longer than usual, etc). But I honestly wouldn't trade it for anything! Even though there are days when I check nothing off my to-do list and the house gets messier and messier and by the time Joe gets home from work, I've only just had my shower and dinner hasn't even crossed my mind. There are many of those days, but I'm trying to cherish where we are now, and be present for my children. Not all days are filled with flower arranging and baking and pure fun, but we try to have a good balance :)

I wanted to use the centerpieces we made on a simple holiday tablescape....this table could be for Thanksgiving or Christmas or any occasion, really. I wanted to mostly use items I already had and just add a few seasonal touches. The foliage arrangements are easy to recreate. Just place seasonal berries and greens in a vase, paying attention to the height and overall shape. Keep it loose and spontaneous and not too "designed."

The tablecloth is a new favorite from the Crate & Barrel Outlet. Tablecloths add such an elegance to the table, especially when you're gathering at the kitchen table, a place where cooking and homework and computer time and all manner of other activities take place. It tells your guest (regardless of who your guests are) that there is a change in the mood. Today is special. Today we're using a tablecloth. When I spread the tablecloth out on the table for this little photo shoot yesterday, Zoe gasped, "Oooooh, is that for us?" So of course, we kept the tablecloth on the table for the day and she loved every minute of it. Tablecloths are just that needed pomp & circumstance.

Besides the tablecloth, I just used our basic grey dinner plates, a forest green salad plate, a white linen napkin, and the usual silver-plated flatware. All basics in our day-to-day living. But the addition of the small flowered bowl and the red anjou pear hint again that it's a special occasion. And the cluster of squash, satsuma oranges, pears, and a few wintry greens and berries at the base of the flower arrangement add just the right amount of color and texture!

Happy holiday tablescaping!

Recipe | Autumn Soup

Monday, November 16, 2015

We're on week two of our Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative CSA and I'm officially obsessed. LFF is a cooperative of over 100 farmers in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, they provide CSAs to folks in a few surrounding states, and everything is organic! We pick up our share at the Mom's Organic Market in Herndon each Saturday, and then based on what veggies we've gotten that week, I've been trying to meal plan. A bit. This is our first time with a CSA and it's so fun, because I never know what we're getting until that week, and it's always a little bit different. And it's all picked and packed the day before. The vegetables are noticeably crunchier and tastier. I haven't had to pick up any extra veggies at the grocery store since we've started with LFF, and I love it!

I made an autumn soup this weekend...I made an extra large pot so that we can take some when we go away to Chincoteague Island this weekend! Pureed soups are pretty much my fall obsession. This time, I used some veggies leftover from last week along with veggies from this week's box: butternut squash, seminole squash, leeks, carrots, and turnips. The flavor is so vibrant. With a little bit of crusty bread (and a lot of butter), it's the perfect autumn lunch.

Autumn Soup with Squash, Carrots, Turnips, and Leeks
serves 6-8

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 seminole squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 small carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
4 purple top turnips, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 leeks, rinsed thoroughly & sliced
1 large yellow onion, quartered
extra virgin olive oil
8 cups chicken stock
1 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425. Spread chopped squash, carrots, turnips, leeks, and onion onto two baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat thoroughly.

2. Bake squash mixture for about 30 minutes until squash is tender and all the vegetables are nicely roasted/slightly browned. Stir once or twice while it all cooks.

3. Heat Dutch oven over medium heat and add butternut squash mixture. Add thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken stock and stir.

4. With immersion blender, puree soup. Bring to a boil and then simmer until thickened. Serve hot with crusty buttered bread.

Recipe | Apple Yoghurt Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

With our recent trip to the orchard, we've been making apple everything! Apple on grilled cheese, German apple pancake, apples & peanut butter, and this apple yoghurt cake. Zoe's my favorite kitchen companion these days. Yes, she makes it messier. Yes, she doubles my time spent in the kitchen. But our conversations and the lessons we learn alongside each other and the laughs. They all make it worth it. These years so fleeting and precious. I'm trying so hard to involve her in tactile, day-to-day activities. Doing things together that stretch her AND me. Being intentional to carve time out of my day to spend with her, make with her, discover with her, explore with her. We collected red leaves from our maple tree yesterday, and today we taped them to the wall to make a leaf picture.

We baked this cake together (well, she had her own miniature bowl and she got to mix miniature amounts of ingredients together in her own bowl). She was so proud of her cake batter when it was all done. And she begged me to put an apron on her (after we were halfway through and she remembered that you're supposed to bake with an apron on).  It's these memories that will last, and I wouldn't trade the messes and the "unproductiveness" and my floury kitchen floor for anything!

Apple Yoghurt Cake with Brown Butter Glaze
slightly adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups melted butter
1/2 cup coconut Noosa yoghurt
3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 medium apples (I used fuji apples because we had just picked them at the orchard)

Brown Sugar Glaze
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup salte dbutter
1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2
1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven 325 degrees. Spray a 10-12 cup bundt pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, toss flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and salt together until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, yoghurt, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together until combined and creamy. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly whisk until no large lumps remain. Don't over mix. Using a wooden spoon, carefully fold in the apple chunks.

3. Spoon the thick batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 55-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. The baking times may vary depending for your oven and your pan. Keep an eye on the cake after 55 minutes.

4. Allow cake to cool in pan set on a wire rack, then invert onto your serving plate once cool enough to touch. As it cools, prepare the brown butter glaze.

5. To make the glaze, combine the brown sugar, butter, & 1/2 and 1/2 in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring the mixture often. Allow to boil for 1 minute (without stirring), then turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the confectioners' sugar. Allow glaze to cool and slightly thicken for at least 5 minutes. Spoon glaze over cake right before serving.

This post is brought to you in partnership with Noosa YoghurtThanks for supporting sponsored posts - it helps allow me to continue to produce quality content!  

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