Monday, October 11, 2010

Giving Thanks

 Today is Thanksgiving in Canada, the land of [some of] my ancestors.

My father was born and grew up in Canada, and my grandfather still lives there. I'm proud of my Canadian heritage, and I'm excited to celebrate it today.

So today I will be roasting my first ever turkey (yes, I'm nervous), making these rolls and this apple pie with these apples.
I will be thinking of all the blessings that my husband and I enjoy -- our home, our family, our friends -- and all of you!

Even though I'm sure most of you will not be thinking about turkey and stuffing for at least another month, it's never too early to give thanks.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tips and Tricks: 5 Great Things To Do With Pesto

Pesto is a magic potion, if you ask me. We always have a jar of pesto in the fridge, and my favorite thing about it is that it is more than just a delicious sauce for pasta.

Here are just a couple of ideas for using pesto to shake things up a bit:

1. Mix about 1 Tbsp. pesto with about 2 Tbsp. mayo and spread on your favorite bread to add extra flavor to your sandwich. 
(particularly if the bread is foccacia and your sandwich consists of smoked turkey, fresh tomatoes and salty provalone cheese -- as in the sandwich pictured below. Yum yum!)

2. Stir pesto into crushed canned tomatoes and reduce for an almost-instant pasta sauce.

3. Spike your mashed potatoes with pesto to give them an herb and garlic flair!

4. Spread a very thin layer of pesto on your dough instead of pizza sauce -- cover with shredded mozzarella, diced chicken, fresh tomatoes and artichoke hearts for chicken pesto pizza. Oh, and don't forget the bacon!

5. Add a spoonful or two of pesto to fresh diced tomatoes and spoon onto toasted slices of baguette for quick and easy bruschetta.

Do you have a favorite way to use pesto? Know of any other kitchen multi-taskers? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wishlist Wednesday: Autumn from the Heart of the Home

Today's post takes a bit of a twist from the usual, as my wishlist item today is one I hope will end up on YOUR wishlist, because I already have and love it.

The cookbook is Autumn from the Heart of the Home by Susan Branch.

If you are not yet familiar with Susan, let me be the first to introduce you to the author who taught me that the kitchen is the "Heart of the Home". My mother had her "Vineyard Seasons" cookbook (now sadly out of print), and I pored over it when I was younger. Every page in a Susan Branch book is a work of art -- literally! She hand-paints every book she publishes.

If they were only beautiful, that might be enough for me, but they also contain delicious recipes and fabulous entertaining tips. She even includes great ideas for hostess or neighbor gifts and decorating. Susan Branch always makes me want to be a better hostess, housekeeper, friend, neighbor, and wife -- not to mention a better cook.

Autumn is my favorite because, well...  I bet you can guess.

Other fantastic books by Susan Branch:
Heart of the Home
Girlfriends Forever
Sweets to the Sweet
Christmas from the Heart of the Home

Monday, October 4, 2010

What I did this weekend

Pumpkins and apples and cider, Oh my! 

Pumpkin Patch
So many pretty pumpkins! A difficult choice ahead of us...

Beautiful Jonathan apples just begging to be picked and made into pies or applesauce!

The hubs. Loving the fake smile...


Our bulging half-bushel of apples.

If you can find a place to pick your own apples this month, do it! You won't regret it. (Don't forget to sample the fruit warm from the sunshine of the branches. Oh! And pick up some freshly pressed cider!) Or at least find a nearby pumpkin patch and snip your own pumpkin off the vine instead of settling for what you can find at the store.

Want to go where we went? Visit Paradise Valley Orchard in Cache Valley, Utah.

PS: Recipe coming sometime next week. This week: Midterms. [sigh]

Friday, October 1, 2010

Have your cobbler and eat it too

I hope you're not sick of peaches yet, because they don't last long. Now is the time to enjoy them at their very best. So I hope you won't mind one more peach recipe.

I was looking for a good cobbler outside the normal biscuity-topped goodness. (Which I like, don't get me wrong.) This cobbler has a delicious, golden, slightly crunchy oatmeal topping that satisfies in a deep-down way when paired with cool, creamy vanilla ice cream.

So... sufficient to say that I am a big fan. You will be too.

Oatmeal Cookie Peach Cobbler
Adapted from Cooking Light

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. flour, lightly spooned into measuing cup and leveled off (use whole wheat flour in part or in whole, if desired)
1 c. rolled oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder

6 c. peaches, peeled and sliced
1/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and mix until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, cinnamon and baking powder. Gradually add this to the wet ingredients until fully blended. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

For filling, toss peaches with sugar, 2 Tbsp. flour, and lemon juice until coated.

When ready to bake, spray 9x9" pan (or large cast-iron skillet, if you have one) with non-stick spray. Spread out peach mixture evenly along the bottom of the pan and drop oatmeal mixture by tablespoons on top (I used a 1" cookie scoop).

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Delish!