The Earth Laughs in Flowers...

>> Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I love making cupcakes for my kids, such a simple pleasure. What a great way to celebrate the arrival of Spring!! I made these using Dum-Dum pops and green Fruit Roll Ups for the leaves, a few sprinkles of chocolate jimmies for the dirt, and voila spring has sprung.

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Cherished Possessions

>> Thursday, March 11, 2010

Growing up I can remember having Sunday dinners at my Grandmother's house. My Grandmother loved to cook, which was something we had in common. She was a good cook, but not what you would call a healthy cook. I think sugar and salt were my Grandmother's two favorite ingredients. Even her tossed green salad was loaded with sugar and salt.
Most of her veggies seemed to come from a can and she even knew how to make those taste good. Her canned corn casserole is still on our table every year at Thanksgiving.
But you never did hear anyone complain about the meal that was put before them, especially my Grandfather. He used to say "Boy, I wonder what the poor people are eating tonight" every time we sat down together.
And dessert was always part of the meal. I can still remember her milk glass cake plate that her sugary cakes were placed on. Such a fancy thing to a 7 year old girl, a billowy frosted cake served on a pedestal.
As I got older and started preparing my own meals I realized just how unhealthy of a cook she was. She would often give me recipes or tell me how she would go about making something. And of course I would graciously accept them, however never giving them a second glance knowing that this one recipe alone might just take a year off my life.
Well, my Grandmother passed away a few months ago. I find myself trying to remember those recipes, and the things she shared with me, wishing I had paid closer attention. It's funny how losing someone makes those details so much more important. And those recipes she handed down to me are now some of my most cherished possessions, along with that beautiful glass cake plate that now will proudly serve my own beautiful confections.

Here is a recipe for short ribs. It is not my grandmother's recipe but she used to tell me all the time how much she loved short ribs and how I really should try them. Well Gram, you were right, they really are delicious. This ones for you!

Honey and Vinegar Braised Short Ribs
adapted from Bon Appetit

This recipe is best made the day before you are going to serve it.

4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 1/2 lbs beef short ribs
1 cup carrots
1 cup onion
1 cup celery
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup vinegar
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups dry red wine
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon butter
3 Tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil over med. high heat in a large heavy pot. Sprinkle salt and pepper over ribs. Working in batches brown ribs really well on all sides. Wipe out the pot and add remaining olive oil. Add carrots, onion, celery and garlic to pot, cook about 5 minutes stirring as you go, until vegetables are soft. Return ribs to the pot and add honey, cooking about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and boil until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add broth, red wine, thyme, and bay leaf and boil 5 minutes. Cover pot with lid and put in preheated oven. Bake until meat almost falls off bone, about 2-2 1/2 hours.
When ribs are tender, transfer them to a large bowl. Boil cooking liquid until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Mix butter and flour in a small bowl to form a paste. Whisk into sauce and boil about 3 minutes or until thickened. Let cool. Store both ribs and sauce in refrigerator over night in seperate containers. The next day when you are ready to eat remove both the ribs and sauce from the refrigerator. Skim the layer of fat off the top of the sauce that has formed over night. Return the ribs to the pot with the sauce and rewarm both the sauce and the ribs over medium heat.
Serve with sauteed spinach and creamy polenta...yum!!!

Oh yeah, and its almost spring....yeaaahhhh!!!


A Piece Of Myself

>> Thursday, February 25, 2010

I feel like I have been struggling lately with what I am supposed to be doing. "Whats next?" is constantly being played in my head like a broken record that cant seem to move past the first line of a song. And I'm not exactly sure how to get past that first line, to the place in the song where my heart and my soul come alive with what I am supposed to be doing. I have gotten away from this blog that I love. Put it high up on the shelf hoping to someday get back to it. After all the chores are done, the house is clean, and the kids are content. And after I'm done chasing the dog around the house to retrieve the last roll of toilet paper that he thinks would just be a hoot to spread all over the house. But that never happens. The house is clean, than its a mess. The kids are good, for about 5 minutes, until one of them screams from the other room, as if something is on fire, "He hit me" or "Ollie (our lovely thief of a dog) has my socks". So you can see that this stuff is never done. But I am learning that it is OK for the house not to be spotless, and the kids to work a few things out on their own. I am learning that sometimes it is necessary to put all that other stuff on the back burner in order to get back to myself a bit. To try and figure out what makes me happy and what might be next, so that record is no longer skipping. Capturing the essence of my life through the food that I make and share with those that I love, that's what makes me happy. So I am going to make a real effort to get back to this blog.

So what better way to get back to my blog than sharing with you a recipe for my favorite birthday cake. This is the cake I ask for most every year. And the cake I sometimes drive 30 minutes for just to have a piece of (it is from one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants up the road a bit). It is THAT good. And its even better the next morning for breakfast with a cup of nice strong coffee. And the best part about it is that it is made with love just for me by the ones that I love the most in this world.

Claire's Lithuanian Coffee Cake With Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Claire's Corner Copia Cookbook

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground coffee (not brewed)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

12 tablespoons butter, room temp.
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 lg. eggs
2 tablespoons brewed coffee, chilled
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream (can use low fat)
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

preheat oven to 350.
spray a 10 cup bundt pan with cooking spray or grease with butter

combine filling ingredients and set aside.

for the cake, cream the butter and the sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 30 seconds. Scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go, add the coffee, vanilla and sour cream. Beat until well combined.
In a separate bowl sift together dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients in mixer until just combined.
Pour half the batter into the prepared bundt pan and sprinkle half the filling over the top of the batter. Pour the remaining batter evenly over the filling. Sprinkle the top with the remaining filling.
Bake in center of oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted int he center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan and then turn it out onto a plate to cool. After the cake cools, frost with butter cream frosting (recipe follows).

Buttercream Frosting
also from Claire's Corner Copia Cookbook

4 tablespoons butter, room temp.
4 tablespoons margarine, room temp.
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla

Beat together butter and margarine with an electric mixer until light and creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and add the confectioners sugar, half cup at a time, beating about 2 minutes after each addition, until light and creamy. This takes a little time but you want to make sure you do it this way so the frosting is very light and creamy. Beat in the vanilla until well combined.


The Next Best Thing...

>> Monday, June 15, 2009

If you are like me and cant wait for this seasons bounty of juicy, ripe, red, summer tomatoes than give this a try.
Go to the store pick out those barely red, hardly sweet supermarket plum tomatoes and throw them in the oven for a couple of hours. What you will pull out just might surprise you.

Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad
from Barefoot Contessa Bact To Basics
By Ina Garten

12 plum tomatoes, cut in half long way and seeds removed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
16 oz fresh mozzarella
12 fresh basil leaves

preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Arrange tomatoes on rimmed baking sheet, cut side up in a single layer. Pour olive oil and vinegar over tomatoes. Sprinkle with garlic, sugar, salt and pepper. Roast for about two hours and let cool to room temp.
Slice mozzarella and layer with tomatoes and basil leaves. Drizzle with more olive oil and salt and pepper. Serve with grilled bread that has been drizzled with Olive oil, salt and pepper.
This should tide you over until August when the real thing comes along.


The Perfect "One Cow" Burger

>> Thursday, June 04, 2009

In our house we love burgers! Not the frozen preformed patties some people call hamburgers. I would much assume take the bun with all the fixins and hold the "Patty" if that were my option.

But rather the plump, juicy, fresh burgers that actually have amazing flavor.
It wasn't until I read the cookbook Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes (love this cookbook by the way) that I came across a recipe for the "One Cow" Burger. I know it doesn't sound very appetizing, but when you think about that preground stuff (or preformed patties) exactly how many cows do you think went in to make up that pound of meat? 25? 50? Possibly 100! And set aside taste for a minute, what about the chance of one of those cows having some sort of disease? Hard to think about- huh?
So here's the solution. Go to your local grocery store, pick out a fresh piece of chuck, go find the butcher and ask him to grind it up for you. They have always been more that happy to do it for me! And now go home and make the most amazing burger you have ever had and never, I mean never buy those preformed patties again!

The One Cow Burger
adapted from Blue Eggs and Yellow tomatoes, by Jeanne Kelley

2lbs ground chuck (premium beef if you don't mind paying a little more)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
Unsalted butter
5-6 hamburger buns

preheat outdoor grill.
Combine first 5 ingredients, ground chuck through ground pepper. Form mixture into 5-6 patties, about 5-6 oz. each. Cook patties on grill about 4 minutes per side for medium rare.
Lightly butter hamburger rolls and grill them butter side down for a minute or two.
As for the toppings, go crazy if you would like. But mostly we like to keep it simple: shredded lettuce, chopped red onion, and chopped dill pickle, a little mayo on the bun and a squirt of Dijon mustard on the burger. And you now have (in my opinion) the perfect burger!


Simply The Perfect Summer Spot

>> Monday, May 18, 2009

Hot lobster, warm butter, a squeeze of lemon on a toasted roll. Need I say more?
OK- how about a nice breeze and an amazing view?

Your not going to find anything fancy here. No sides, other than a bag of chips . Nothing that even requires a fork and a knife. Just simply put, the freshest lobster roll you will ever taste.
And no mayo either!!

So if your ever in the area and are looking for a treat check out Lobster landing- you wont be disappointed!



>> Thursday, May 14, 2009

We forgot what it was like to have a puppy. And actually we never knew what it was like to have a puppy with two small children, but now we know. Life has certainly gotten more interesting around here. Yes, the kids are now chew toys and nothing seems to be safe from destruction. Who knew a 14 lb. puppy could steal a 5 lb. bag of rabbit treats, a small vacuum, a bag of art supplies, and drag a chair across the room all within the time it takes me to whip up my morning Mimosa (kidding about the Mimosa, but Oliver actually did do those things this morning).

His feet are the size of a polar bears and the sweetest moments of the day are when he is asleep.
But we love him already , so welcome to our family Oliver!


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