Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Easy, Quick, Amazing Zucchini Soup

Are you ready for Halloween?
I'm not. Like, really not.

I mean, I made the kiddo's costume, which is good and very on-the-ball of me, but I don't have any kind of costume for myself, nor have I purchased candy, nor have I decided how to decorate the car for the trunk-or-treat... I mean, I can probably get away with not dressing up, but I'm pretty sure making the car fancy is a requirement, right?

In any case, I AM all ready for Hallow's Eve dinner by virtue of the fact that I have a batch of this lovely soup already stocking up my freezer. It's perfect for Halloween because it has a delightful green hue, which the kids will love. Serve it with grilled cheese -- cut into "fingers" for dipping, of course -- and it's a meal. It's also healthy as can be; loaded with veggies, low in fat and calories, light yet filling.

Zucchini Soup
via Sophisitmom (yes, again)

1 onion, diced medium
2 Tbsp. oil
2 c. 1" diced zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth or stock
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional, or you can also substitute the same amount of evaporated milk)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat oil (olive, canola, butter, whatever) over medium-high heat. Add in onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute until onion is translucent. Add zucchini, a little more seasoning, and continue to saute for a minute or two until the zucchini has some color. Pour in broth/stock and bay leaves, and bring to a rapid simmer. Reduce heat, but maintain simmer for about 20 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
Puree until smooth (I just stick my immersion blender right in the pot), then stir in cream, if desired. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve warm.

*Go ahead and make this in big batches. It freezes nicely, and even keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Sunday, October 28, 2012




How are ya?

I'm doing pretty well myself.
Pret-ty well.
Just sitting here eating leftover apple crisp for breakfast. (What? There's apples. AND oatmeal. Totally breakfast material.)

I just thought I'd get a little personal today and we could have a little chat, if you'd like. Maybe you want to know more about me, and I know I'd like to know more about you, Reader. dear. I'll share some apple crisp with you...

It has been a pretty unremarkable week around here. Sleep-deprived mommy. Tantrum-throwing toddler. Desire to eat a week's caloric intake in one sitting...
Still, here's a slice of the everyday.

Clockwise from top left: Thought I looked good, took a picture; Current porch decor (spoke too soon, that jack-o-lantern didn't make it. Sad face.); My little punkin' helper contemplating pumpkin guts; Mommy makes menu/grocery list, baby scribbles, and the villagers rejoice

Clockwise from top left: Baby's Corduroy costume is complete (too bad I suck at sewing and the overalls basically fall right off of him...) ; It's hot chocolate season!; Halloween treats from a friend (Yum!); Brycie is the pompom master. He rules the pompoms with an iron fist and plastic-container crown.

Topping my foodie list this week:
These mini pumpkin pies have me all aflutter. Is it Thanksgiving yet?
Loving this Chili with Cornbread Waffles as an option for Halloween dinner. Yum!
Anyone know where I can get some cacao nibs? I NEED them for this scrumptious-looking snack!
I've been hankering over this Fall Vegetarian Pot Pie -- made my own version adding a handful of cooked lentils and using frozen puff pastry for the crust and it was to. die. for.

If you're looking for more foodie (and other) inspiration, follow me on Pinterest!

So, leave me a comment, okay? Let's be friends! What are you foodie crushing on? Any fun Halloween plans? Lay it on me.

Meanwhile, if you need me I'll be dream-shopping on Joss & Main. I'm a little obsessed.

PS: New recipe coming Tuesday. Get happy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hot Cocoa Cookies

I have a teensy confession to make.

I really like Rachael Ray.
Say what you will about her sometimes-very-grating voice, her catchy acronyms (EVOO, anyone?), and her apparent inability to find anything in the drawers of her own on-set kitchen, but the girl's got skills. Some of my favorite kitchen tips came to me by way of watching her cook, and some of my favorite recipes are also hers. (See here.)

Last year, I happened upon the recipe for these gorgeous Hot Cocoa Cookies from Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine and they made my must-make-immediately list instantly. The absolutley mouth-watering photos over at Pip & Ebby didn't hurt either, and I was pleased that, with only a little effort, I was able to recreate these pretty sweets myself!

If you're gathering thoughts for holiday baking and gift-giving, I strongly recommend you put these on your short list. Right now. They're yummiest just after coming out of the oven, but if you give them a few seconds in the microwave they will be restored to their former, gooey, melty glory. (Don't forget to include a note to that effect if you give them as gifts.)

Hot Cocoa Cookies
from Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine, via Pip & Ebby
In a medium saucepan, melt together:
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
12 oz. chopped semisweet chocolate (bars)
Stir frequently over medium heat until smooth. Let cool for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Using an electric mixer, beat together:
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Beat on low speed until smooth, 2 minutes. Mix in the cooled chocolate mixture just until blended. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing on low speed until just combined. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough and roll between your palms to form 1-inch balls. Arrange about 16 balls 2 inches apart on each cookie sheet, flattening slightly. Bake until the tops of the cookies crack, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut 7.5 ounces of semisweet chocolate (bars) into 1-inch squares. Snip 8 marshmallows in half crosswise and stick 1 square of chocolate onto each of the cut sides.
Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and gently press a marshmallow half, chocolate side down, into each cookie. Bake until the marshmallows are just softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 5 minutes.

Grate 5 ounces of semisweet chocolate over the hot cookies. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, marshmallows and chocolate. And try to control yourself so you don't eat every last one. It will be very, very difficult.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Winter Squash Bisque {+ fill-in-the-blank Friday}

So, today I thought I would change things up a bit and link up with Lauren @ the little things we do.

1.  One thing I plan on doing to relax this weekend is    Honestly, I don't know how much relaxing is in the cards for me this weekend, but if I get time I'll probably pop some popcorn and watch a scary (ish) movie   .
2.  A big pet peeve of mine is   I kind of have lots of pet peeves. I guess that makes me peevish... (Just busting out that AP English vocab I rarely use.) I super hate it when people say "Congrats" instead of Congratulations. I mean, if you're actually happy for them, can't you muster the remaining syllables? Just sayin'.
3.  I am really loving  Lucy Schwartz. She's my new music crush.

4. The rain is    Awesome! That is, until it starts raining for weeks without stopping, because then it drives me bonkers. But half the time I hardly notice it, which is good, since I live in Portland.
5. My favorite girly indulgence is   Perfume. I might wear yoga pants 3/4 of the time, but I almost always wear perfume. Makes me happy.

6. A song I always get stuck in my head is   Pumped Up Kicks. It's stuck in your head now, too, isn't it. (PS: sorry...)

7.  The best cure for stress is  Baking. Then eating what I baked. While taking a bubble bath.

You know what else helps with stress? Soup.
And in that spirit, I give you Winter Squash Bisque. It is a favorite around here, and lovely for fall. It's a great way to get in some squash, which is great for you, it comes together so quickly, and it brings in some perfect-for-fall spice with curry, allspice, and ginger. We love it with a little coconut milk, but you can use a splash of cream, too.

Happy Weekend!

Winter Squash Bisque
adapted from Sophistimom

2 Tbsp. butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
2, 14 oz. cans winter squash puree (butternut squash, or even pumpkin) -- or 3 c. homemade puree of any winter squash -- butternut, acorn, jester, or kabocha (takes about 2 squash, depending on the size)
1/2 c. apple cider or white grape juice
1 large, ripe pear or apple, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 c. chicken or veggie stock
1 large sprig of fresh sage
salt and pepper to taste
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream, evaporated milk, or light coconut milk (canned)

Over low heat, melt butter in the bottom of a large pot. Sauté shallot in butter until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in spices and pear/apple and cook for a minute more.
Stir in squash, juice, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and toss in sage. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the pear/apple pieces are tender.
Remove sprig of sage. Add salt (1/2 tsp. is probably a good amount to start) and pepper to taste. Stir in cream/coconut milk. Serve.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chicken Sausage & Gnocchi in a Blushing Cream Sauce

6:30 pm is the witching hour in these parts.

I must admit, it's a time when I am just done being Mom for the day.
Okay, I must further admit that my desire to play my part as Mom ends shortly after naptime is over -- right after he stops being sweet and happy to see me and starts demanding his afternoon "apple" (which is to say "snack").

Tonight I scrambled to snap a couple of photos of this dish to share with you while the light waned quickly, as it does earlier and earlier this time of year. My little man was underfoot whining about the inequities of life as a baby, which obviously just pile up more when Mommy is trying to finish something.  He begged for dinner, and then merely wiped it around his high chair tray and before begrudgingly sampling a gnoccho (singular of gnocchi, just FYI) or two.

Right now I'm watching him tear the living room apart in his destructive evening tiredness. Somehow tonight I am finding it easy to ignore his fit-throwing in favor or ruminating upon the sweet moments of the day: The sweet kisses he gave me without my asking, the riotous laughter we shared at many a diaper-change zerbert, the delightful way he pokes me in the eye to hear me tell him it's an "occhio" (the Italian word for "eye"), the moments when I can move past the sting of his obvious preference for his father's company into the special relationship we share as daily playmates.

The truth is, I lack the patience I need on any given day. I keep asking God to help me find the patience I lack, but He just sends me more moments to practice. What is the deal with that? ;D

The rain found its way back to Portland this weekend, and it is a welcome return for me. The cooler weather makes way for hearty fall dishes, like this one. I adapted it from a Rachael Ray cookbook given to us on the occasion of our wedding. My favorite bit about it is the way the sauce is characterized as "blushing", which makes me think of the rosy glow you might have after a walk in the crisp fall air. I also love that it's a quick-fixer (obviously, since it comes from the 30-minute-meal queen).

Fennel is one of those things that I can take or leave, but I enjoy what it does for this dish. If you really don't prefer it, you could certainly omit it or add in extra onion. If you're on the fence about it, though, do give the fennel a chance -- it might surprise you!

I've always thought this could benefit from a couple handfuls of spinach wilted in at the end, but I keep forgetting to try it. But it pairs nicely with roasted winter squash or steamed green beans. If you try the spinach thing, tell me how you liked it, deal?

Chicken Sausage & Gnocchi in a Blushing Cream Sauce
adapted from Rachael Ray

2 Tbsp. oil (olive, canola, what have you)
1/2 lb. chicken sausage (I use breakfast sausage, but you can use whatever you like), removed from casing
2 lg. onions, thinly sliced
1 lg. fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/3 c. white wine (I don't have alcohol in the house, so I add a splash of white wine vinegar to white grape juice)
2 lbs. gnocchi
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
2 oz. cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 c. flat-leaf parsley
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add salt, and keep boiling until ready to cook gnocchi.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add in sausage -- I like to slide it out of its casing directly into the pan in chunks about the same size as my gnocchi, but you can also break it up as you cook it as you would ground beef. Brown about 5 minutes, then add onion and fennel. Season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook 5 minutes more. When onions and fennel have softened, add the garlic and continue cooking for a minute or two.
Scootch everything over to one side of the pan, and put the tomato paste on the empty side. Smoosh it around for a minute or so, then add white wine (or equivalent) and scrape the bottom of the pan with your spoon to release the little bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add gnocchi to the boiling, salted water, and cook according to package directions (probably about 4 minutes).
Meanwhile, add chicken stock to the sausage mixture, and bring it to a simmer. Add cream cheese and stir to melt and combine. Let simmer for a minute or two to thicken.
Drain the gnocchi and add them to the sauce. (Don't worry if it's a bit soupy-seeming. The sauce will thicken as it cools.) Add parsley and parmesan and stir gently to combine.
Serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Crockpot Ratatouille

 I can still remember the first time I tasted eggplant.

I was in Rome on a senior trip with a bunch of my friends -- it was one of those trips organized through the school, so all of our dinners and breakfasts were arranged for us. We walked and walked and walked and walked until we got to this restaurant, where they served a pasta dish of some sort with a tomato-based sauce. The moment I tasted it, I knew something was not right. There was this slimy texture going on, and a bitter aftertaste.

It was eggplant.

I know, I know. I recently poked fun at my husband for his list of dislikes, but I must now admit that I have one of my own, and eggplant tops that list. Tops it.

Hubby and I both have an unspoken rule that we have to keep trying things we don't like, because you never know when you might change your mind, you know? So in that spirit, I have tried egggplant parmesan, babba ganoush, roasted eggplant, blah blah blah.

I don't like it. What can I say more?

So when I found a promising recipe for ratatouille, I knew for sure eggplant was out of the question. With my surplus of summer squash, though, it was easy to sub in some yellow straightneck in its place.

It was perfect! A perfect meal for transitioning from summer into fall. Perfect for a Sunday dinner, but without a whole lot of fuss or effort. And even though it is now fall for real, I bet there's some straggling summer squash in the markets, and deliciousness is still a year-round concept. So what are you waiting for?

Crockpot Ratatouille
adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

2 medium zucchini, diced in 1/2" pieces
2 yellow summer squash, diced in 1/2 " pieces
1 c. onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 tomatoes, diced in 1/2" pieces
1 yellow pepper, diced in 1/2" pieces
1 red pepper, diced in 1/2" pieces
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. olive oil
small sprig rosemary
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh savory
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
(you could use any fresh herbs that appeal to you)
salt and pepper to taste
couscous cooked according to package directions (I used whole wheat)

In the crock of your slow cooker, combine zucchini, yellow squash, onion, tomatoes, peppers, sugar, oregano, and olive oil. Throw in a hefty pinch of salt, and a skiffing of ground pepper, along with your whole sprig of rosemary. Mix gently to combine. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or until vegetables are tender.
Stir in fresh herbs, taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper as needed. Serve over prepared couscous.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Trader Joes List

I'm one of those people -- one of those Trader Joe's fanatics.

It wasn't planned, I didn't expect it, but there it is.

I'm hooked.

And since my friends back in the SLC (Salt Lake City, my hometown) are getting a Trader Joe's soon, I thought I should tell them what's so awesome about it.

This first time I stepped into a Trader Joe's store, I was kind of underwhelmed. It seemed just like a regular grocery store. And it is! Only better.

I do my regular shopping there most weeks, so we've tried a lot of what they have to offer. I find it is, indeed, a bit more expensive than other grocery stores, but when I consider the quality of what we get it is worth the trade-off for me. (And I should also mention that some things are much cheaper there!) Anything with a Trader Joe's label is guaranteed not to contain GMO's or high fructose corn syrup, just to name a couple. Everything is tasty, and the people are friendly! I just love shopping there.  (Now if they just sold Method cleaning product, Bounty paper towels, and Charmin toilet paper, I would rarely have to go anywhere else.)

Here's what we like to buy:

Pantry Staples:
Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce
Tomato Paste in a tube (99¢!)
Pasta (also 99¢ for 16 oz.)
Cannellini beans
Whole Wheat Couscous
AP Flour
Chocolate Chips
Olive oil and cooking spray
Chicken and Veggie Stock in boxes
Valencia Peanut Butter (This was recently recalled, and I've been so sad without it. Hopefully it will be back soon!)
Israeli Couscous

Pre-cut butternut squash
Haricot Verts
Bags of Kid-sized apples (I think they call them "school boy" apples)
Angelcots -- heavenly white apricots (only available a couple of weeks a year)
Extra Sweet Strawberries
Bagged organic spinach
Teeny Tiny Potatoes -- awesome with a roast chicken or pot roast
Pie pumpkins (available around Halloween and Thanksgiving)
Shelled Edamame
Sliced cremini mushrooms

Meat and Deli:
Pre-cooked lentils
Field Fresh Chopped Salad
Sonoma Chicken Salad
Fresh filled pastas (ravioli, tortellini, etc.)
Chicken Breakfast Sausage
Pre-cooked Bacon (Nitrite free!)
Mushroom Tortelloni with Spinach and Asparagus

Milk -- theirs is the best!
String cheese
Yogurt -- so many are so good, but I especially love the Strawberry Vanilla Greek yogurt, and the Smooth and Creamy yogurt 6 packs
Cream cheese

Kid stuff:
Fruit Crushers (little single-serve pouches of applesauce, plain or combined with other fruits or, my favorite, carrot!)
Organic Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
Joe's O's -- better than Cheerios

Dried fruits of all kinds -- the dried strawberries are beloved unto me, I also dig the mango and freeze-dried strawberries and raspberries
This ___ walked into a bar (fruit bars like nutragrain bars, in the fall they come in pumpkin!)
Ridge-Cut Sweet Potato Chips -- my new obsession!
Chocolate Chip Chewy Coated Granola Bars (pictured)

Dark Chocolate PB Cups
Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Chocolate Covered Powerberries -- I am seriously addicted to these
Pound Plus Chocolate Bars -- good on their own, but I use them in baking: chop them up for cookies, melt them for brownies, etc.
Joe Joes -- SO much better than Oreos it's not even funny!
Smashing S'mores
Yogurt Stars
Lemon Heart Cookies
Ice cream -- all yummy yummy!
Truffle Brownie Mix (best brownie mix ever)

Par-baked baguettes and ciabatta bread
Cereal --  current favorites include Super Nutty Toffee Clusters and Triple Berry O's
Flowers -- so beautiful and so inexpensive!
French Berry Lemonade (my one remaining soda weakness)
Sparkling mineral water (99¢ for a liter!)
Tomatillo & Roasted Yellow Chile Salsa (with any of their awesome tortilla chips)
Brioche Buns
Trader Joe's brand Veggie Burgers -- my favorite!
99¢ Greeting Cards

Things I haven't been impressed with:
Bakery items -- the artisan breads are good, but I get my regular bread elsewhere, and I haven't been impressed with their bakery cakes
Meat -- Apart from anything mentioned earlier, I'm sure it's great quality and organic and whatnot, but it's just way too pricey for me
Their frozen stuff is usually pretty good, but I find it hit or miss. (Pot stickers, yes. Sweet Potato Gnocchi, no. Mandarin Chicken, yes. Asparagus Risotto, no. Just as examples.)
Reduced Guilt Mayo -- blah

Honestly, I could go on. But I'd love to hear what your favorites are. Leave a comment and let me know, okay? Okay.

PS: Want more Trader Joe's commentary? Check out Jane Maynard's entire section devoted to it on her awesome blog This Week For Dinner.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Marbled Pumpkin Bread

A happy accident is a wonderful thing. Especially where food is concerned. And especially when it can be recreated. ;)

I set out to try the Really Good Pumpkin Bread recipe in the most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated, omitting nuts and some kind of streusel in favor of chocolate chips (Are we surprised? I think not.), but ended up with a marbled loaf instead.

How, you ask?

So, okay, the folks at Cook's Illustrated instructed that you cook the pumpkin puree prior to adding it to the batter in order to eliminate the "canned" taste from the canned puree, then add cream cheese to counter the moisture lost in the cooking process. And I thought to myself that the recipe needed brown butter. It just did. So I swapped half of the vegetable oil called for in favor of butter, plunked it in the pan and browned it before proceeding with the recipe as written.

Then came the end when I was adding in my chocolate chips. Not thinking, I dumped them into the batter, still warm from the cooking process, and noted with a little horror the streaks of melting chocolate running through the mixture. In an effort to stem the tide of melting chocolate chips, I stopped stirring and divvied the batter into the pans. As I shoved it all in the oven I said a little prayer, because I had intended to give these as thank-yous to the wonderful friends who helped us move last weekend, so I really needed them to turn out well.

The result was perfect pumpkin bread with this gorgeous swirl of chocolate running wildly through it. The browned butter may be guilding the lily just a bit, but I love the caramel notes it lends. And despite all the indulgent ingredients, it strikes a delightful sweet spot of just-enough richness, thanks in large part to the chocolate swirl.

Happy accident indeed!

Next to try from the September/October issue of Cook's Illustrated: French Apple Cake. ...No, 10-Minute Steel-Cut Oats. ...No, the Mediterranean Braised Green Beans... Gah! Do yourself a favor and buy this issue, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Better yet, go ahead and subscribe! I read every issue cover-to-cover -- and I can't say that for most magazines. Every recipe comes out perfectly, evidently even when you do your best to mess it up!

Marbled Pumpkin Bread
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 c. (10 oz.) flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter
1, 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (or 15 oz. homemade puree, if you're that kind of person)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
4 oz. cream cheese*
1 c. (7 oz.) granulated sugar
1 c. (7 oz.) lightly packed brown sugar
4 eggs, at room temp.
1/4 c. buttermilk, at room temp.
1.4 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

*Note: In my first batch of this bread, I used low fat cream cheese (Neufchatel cheese). I could not get it to melt down and incorporate smoothly. In the finished product, the little lumps of cream cheese were barely noticable, but they still bugged me. The second time around, I used full-fat cream cheese, and that worked splendidly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large, heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Continue to cook and stir until butter begins to brown. Once it is golden, drop heat to low and whisk in pumpkin puree and spices.
Raise heat to medium, and cook the pumpkin mixture for about 7 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and whisk in cream cheese until no clumps or streaks remain.
Add in sugars, and let sit for 5 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, mix together eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. When pumpkin mixture has cooled a bit, carefully and gradually stream about 1 c. of the warm mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, to temper it, then add that to the remaining pumpkin mixture.
Pour this into the prepared dry ingredients, and stir until just combined -- there may be lumps here and there.
While still warm, stir in chocolate chips. Fold gently until streaks of chocolate begin to be visible, then stop, and divide between two greased loaf pans using a 1 c. measure. Do your best not to mix it up too much at this point, or your bread won't be marbled.
Place in a 350º oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, rotating after about 25 minutes. When done, a toothpick inserted in the center should come out cleanly.
Let cool completely before removing from pan to devour.

Friday, October 5, 2012

5 Minute Dinner: Tuna & Cannellini Bean Salad

I cannot get that Neon Trees song out of my head, you know? "It started with a whisper... and that was when I kissed her..." I'm not complaining, because it's a pretty good song. Excellent beat and all that. Good for a Friday! I keep talking myself out of buying it because I know it's one of those songs I'll listen to for a month and then forget that I own it. I kind of have a great many of those...

Anyhoo... ... ...

There comes a point in every week at which my desire to cook dinner just up and evaporates. I find that it's usually about Thursday night when I can't hack it anymore. For example, last night I fed the baby an almond butter and jelly sandwich, then fed myself an apple and an English muffin and called it a day. That was all I could muster. It was a sad state of affairs, I must say. And I LIKE to cook. So I imagine everyone needs this meal as much as I do.

It's one of my husband's favorites, which is great for me because it takes no time at all. And the closest it comes to cooking is toasting the bread -- if you serve it with toast. It's equally great on its own or scooped into tender cups of butter lettuce. (Isn't half the appeal of butter lettuce that fact that it has butter in the name? I mean, butter. Just sayin'.)

Tuna & Cannellini Bean Salad
serves 2 (and a toddler), but you can easily double it

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can tuna (I particularly like the kind packed in oil because I just dump it in the bowl, but you can use the kind packed in water. Just drain it off.)
olive oil
juice of half a lemon
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. snipped chives or green onions
salt and pepper
toast and/or lettuce (optional)

Toss together beans and tuna, and drizzle in a tablespoon or so of oil. Squeeze in the lemon juice, toss in the parsley and chives/green onions. Mix it up, taste and season to your liking. Meanwhile, toast your bread, if using, and/or wash up the lettuce, if desired. Eat!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Clinton St. Baking Co. Pancakes

Hi friends! How did September treat you all? Pull up a chair and tell me about it. Mine went by in a frenzy of packing and paper signing, and I am so glad to be settling in to a house of my very own. Anyone want to help me pick paint colors?

Getting settled in also means it's back in the saddle for me and this little blog o' mine.
You know...
Buckle up, and stuff.

There is just nothing in the world I love so well as I love a good pancake. Um, make that stack of pancakes, if you please. Oh. My.

After watching an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay, I became a little obsessed with finding a recipe for the Clinton St. Baking Co.'s pancakes because they just sounded so freaking awesome. Lucky me, though, they went ahead and published it in the Clinton St. Baking Co. Cookbook.

These are really something special -- super tender and fluffy and buttery. Mmmmm! Excuse my watering mouth over here.

They make a scrumptious backdrop for your choice of add-ins: blueberries, bananas, nuts, apples, peaches, strawberries or raspberries, or just eat them plain. You cannot go wrong. 
I trust you can find a suitable reason to whip some up. Tout suite!

Clinton St. Baking Co. Pancakes

4 c. flour
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
6 lg. eggs, separated
3 c. milk
3/4 c. (12 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted + more for the griddle and for serving, if desired
1 tsp. vanilla extract
maple syrup

Grab three medium-large mixing bowls, a couple of whisks, and a spatula of the bowl-scraper variety -- though you'll need a spatula of the pancake-turning variety as well so... grab that, too.

Into one bowl, measure out your dry ingredients. Give them a little stir to combine, and set aside.

Separate your eggs into the next two bowls, putting the whites in one and the yolks in the other. Break up the yolks a bit, then add the milk and vanilla. Get you butter melting while you whip egg whites to stiff peaks. Pour the butter into the milk mixture, then add it into the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined -- it will be lumpy.

Add about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites to your batter to lighten it. Fold in gently, then add the remaining egg whites, folding until very few white streaks remain.

Heat your griddle over medium heat, grease well (I use cooking spray), and drop batter by 1/4 cupfulls onto hot griddle. Flip when bubbles begin to break the surface of the pancake, and cook until golden on the other side.

Serve hot!

Since this makes such a large batch, you can make them all up and freeze any extras. They reheat beautifully in the microwave!