Sunday, January 29, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Remember when you were a kid and you hated Brussels sprouts?  Oh, did I hate them.  I am pretty sure every kid hates Brussels sprouts, and I fully expect Anna to follow suit.  But, if she doesn't, I am pretty sure it'll be because I got these crunchy roasted little morsels to her mouth before someone could ruin it for her by steaming them into a wilty soppy mess and presenting them to her as a vegetable.  Until two weeks ago, I truly thought I hated Brussels sprouts.  I haven't let one come anywhere near this mouth since I was a kid. 

But, I truly believe that sometimes food chooses me.  I find myself cooking in the kitchen and I think did I really pick this?  And then I am amazed and my life is changed.  Brussels sprouts are definitely one of those foods that picked me.  Thank you so much Brussels sprouts.  I am sorry for all my years of disdain and snobbery.  You did not deserve that.

I fell in love with Brussels sprouts so hard and fast that I have gone through 4 pounds of them in two weeks.  Not kiddin'.  I have dressed them up with brown butter, with a sprinkling of parmesan, with garlic and onions.  But, truly, these darling itty bitty cabbages are my favorite with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper.  They are so perfect they need nothing more.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Brussels Sprouts, halved or quartered into bite sized pieces
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Toss the Brussels Sprouts lightly in oil, then season with salt & pepper.  Put in a single layer on a metal baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes or until they are lightly browned and a little crispy on the edges. 

Remove from the oven and...

Eat it!!

I Am a Winner!

I am a winner!  Literally.  January has been a very lucky month for me.  I won TWO giveaways from fellow bloggers and I couldn't be happier with my loot!

I won this gorgeous calender from Chellie at Art From My Table.  It is a calendar with her beautiful photos and also a new recipe each month. It tickles me to know that one of my fellow bloggers will be hangin' (literally) in my kitchen with me all year long while I am cooking.  Go check her blog out...she's got great recipes and a beautiful outlook on life.

Secondly I won this cute be a good cookie spatula from Janet at Food Beautiful.  OXO sent this to her and is part of their Cookies for Kids' Cancer program that fights pediatric cancer through local bake sales. This year OXO will donate up to $100,000 to support research for new therapies.  Now, if that's not a worthy cause, I don't know what is.  Great giveaway Janet, and a great way to raise awareness for this great cause.  Another cool thing about Janet is that she was my "cookie fairy" during the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this past December.  Someone dropped out so she baked an extra batch of cookies just for me!  So, I know first hand just how fabulous her baking is!

And last but not least...I WON AN AWARD!!  Anna over at Crunchy Creamy Sweet gave me the Liebster Award!  Anna is one of the sweetest most darling bloggers I have the pleasure of knowing (and I really love her name!).  I am honored that she picked me.  Thank you, you wonderful woman!  Go check out her blog, she's got great recipes and is so much fun to read.  Plus, she leaves me the sweetest comments that always make my day.

I am so excited I am grinning from ear to ear!  This is awarded by fellow bloggers to recognize up and coming blogs.  I am up-and-coming?  Hooray!  Let's keep scurrying down that path together, shall we?

**Update!  I was awarded the Liebster again by the lovely Amalia over at Cake to Crumb!  Amalia has great recipes, is very creative and I would love to pick all her creations off the page and eat them immediately.  I am so honored to be picked by two wonderful bloggers for this award.  My day has been made again.  Thanks Amalia!!**

So, now it is my honor to award the Liebster to five of my favorite up and coming bloggers.  Lucky me!  These ladies are all fabulous bloggers, recipe creators and chefs.  I am honored to pass this award on to them.

Leanne at Around the Table: Loving Food in RI and Beyond...
Missy at Cooking for Two
Aimee at Bargain Bites
Mama F at Doggie at the Dinner Table
Amy at Oh, Bite It!

Okay, now its your turn ladies!  I can't wait to see who you pass this award on to!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Oh, how I love surprises.  I love being surprised.  But, even more than that, I love surprising!  I'd say its along the same lines as the old adage "giving is better than receiving."  Its hard to pull off a real genuine surprise these days, but I did it.  We did it.  My sister and I surprised my Momma with a visit from Anna and me this past weekend.

The story goes like this...My mom had plans to visit Tessa in San Francisco over her birthday this past weekend.  A week before, and half a bottle of wine into a date night, I proposed my crazy idea to my fantastic husband, and he said "GO!".  So, when we got home that night I booked my ticket and then emailed my sister to see if we could crash their weekend.  Backwards I know, but who could say no to this face?

Psst...Maggie!  Quit showing off your kid and get back to the story!

Tessa was all sneaky-ninja-like and told my mom that she had to pick a co-worker up from the airport to get her there.  When I walked through the doors I saw my mom staring with this confused look on her face.  Here's what she was saying:

"Does your friend look like Maggie?" and
"Your friend looks exactly like Maggie!" and finally
"Is that Maggie?"

And then the screaming.  Screaming and smiling and hugging and screaming.  It was perfect.

Moments after the big surprise!
The whole weekend was perfect.  It was filled with love and hugs and snuggles and stories and laughing and food.

I raved about my love of the Ferry Building on my last trip to San Francisco in November.  But this time was even better.  We went on Saturday morning.  Saturday morning equals Ah-Mazing Market!  Gorgeous food.  If I lived anywhere near this market I would be dead broke all the time.

I was able to find all the ingredients for the Spinach, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart that I recently made and Saturday night's dinner was born.  And it was a hit.

The sun was shining that morning and we had a delightful breakfast on the pier while Anna took a nap.

Sunday we did a lot of San Franciscan things like: eating sour dough bread at Boudin, gazing at the Golden Gate, getting soaked at Fort Funston, avoiding hang gliders and snuggling Anna.

And then, just like that!  The weekend was over.  It was a quick trip, but every single moment was enjoyed.  Every single moment is ingrained on my heart.  My family fills my heart, and right now my saucer is full. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Holy Moly Guacamole!

Remember when I taught you how to create these two beautiful avocado halves?  Now I am going to teach you how to make the best guacamole in the whole wide world (according to Mr. Mace) using these little beauties.  You're so lucky.

I truly believe my secret to this guacamole is simply omitting the lime juice.  GASP!  I know, I know.  But lime juice keeps it from turning brown!  I hear you whining.  And I don't care.  How can I be so insensitive?

You don't see this girl complaining, do you?

I have faith.  I have faith that you will will cross-over to the non-lime-juice-dark-side.  And this is why: there won't be any leftovers to turn brown.  Oh yeah, and who cares if it turns brown?  It won't kill you to eat brown guacamole.  It still tastes good, its just brown.  So, give it some love, give it a good stir to hide the brown and then - wah-la!  Beautiful again. 

This guacamole doubles, triples, quadruples...very easily so its great for parties.  Use avocados that are slightly soft when pressed with your finger, but not mushy.'re gonna love this.  Enjoy!

Good Old Guacamole (without the twist)

1 Avocado, halved, pitted and roughly chopped
Handful Onion, chopped
1 Garlic Clove
Sprinkle of Garlic Powder, to taste
Salt, to taste
Handful Tomato, chopped

Mash the avocado with a fork until your desired consistency for guacamole.  Stir in onion, garlic, garlic powder and salt.  At this point, taste the guacamole and season to your liking.

Gently stir in the tomatoes and...

Eat it!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kitchie Tip: How to Pit an Avocado

Pitting avocados used to drive me totally bonkers.  I would lovingly cut an avocado in half to find two beautiful halves staring up at me...and then I would destroy the half with the pit.  I'd claw at that pit, or take a spoon or a fork to it, trying to relieve it of its duty in the center of that avocado.  Always, I would end up with a great big mess, avocado under my finger nails and a large portion of the avocado in a weepy mess next to its perfect other half. 

My friend Jasper witnessed this horrific scene one day while I was preparing dinner.  He took the avocado from my hand and showed me this little dandy of a trick.  Another "duh!" moment in my cooking life.

How to: Pit an Avocado

First, slice the avocado lengthwise.  Twist the two halves in opposite directions and then pull them apart.  You will have two lovely halves.

Now comes the fun part.  Take a knife and smack it into the center of that avocado pit, like so:

Once you have the knife firmly in the center of the pit, give the knife a turn:

The turn is enough to remove the pit from its stronghold and you can easily lift the knife and pull the avocado pit out.  Hooray!  You have two beautiful avocado halves!

I'll share my guacamole recipe with you soon.  My husband drools over this and says nobody makes it as good as me.  Thanks darlin', not that you're prejudiced or anything, but I happen to think its pretty darn good too!  Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Squashy White Chocolate Scones

I'll tell you a secret.  I love to bake (that's not the secret).  I have always been mortified to try baking anything without a recipe (that is the secret...sorry its not juicier).  It has been said that Baking is a Science, and I suck at science, so I have always stuck to the good old tried and trues.  Until I got brave over the holidays.

These scones were born from a leftover baked squash I had sitting in my fridge.  I couldn't bear to throw it out, because it was so beautiful.  And because the meal I used most of it in was mediocre, at best.  This squash deserved to star in something yummy and delightful.

I used my blueberry scone recipe as a base.  So, while I cannot wholly own this recipe as mine, it is a big step for me to stray at all.  I experimented to come up with the perfect mix of flour, squash, spices and chocolate for these scones.  I've made the scones with both squash  and pumpkin puree and they were equally delicious. 

The scones turned out moist and light and fluffy, which was delightful as scones are often exactly the opposite.  I may just bake extra squash from now on as an excuse to make these scones. 

Squashy White Chocolate Scones

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 cup(120 grams)  squash puree
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. You can use a pastry cutter for this or use two knives and cut into the butter using a cross-way motion until crumbly.

In another bowl, combine the egg yolk, buttermilk and squash puree and gently beat. Add to the flour mixture all at once. Work quickly and use a wooden spoon or your hands to work the mixture into a soft dough. Gently knead in white chocolate chips.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a disc shape about 3/4" thick. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on the top and then use a butter knife or pizza cutter to cut into 6 wedges.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 12-15 minutes or until they are golden brown on top and...

Eat it!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mushroom, Spinach & Goat Cheese Tart

So, I was a bit indulgent and bought my 1 year old an apron
for Christmas. What's the big deal?  A girl can dream, right?

Oh, this girl makes my day, everyday. She's so darn cute. I think Mace and I say this at least 47 times a day. She really made my Christmas too.

Its so fun to experience everything through a child's eye makes you remember just how cool life really is.  My train of thought these last couple weeks has been about slowing down and living in every moment. I watch Anna and the only thing she knows how to do is live in the moment. She doesn't have an agenda for the day, she doesn't worry about the time, she doesn't focus on how many things she needs to try and cram into her day in order to feel like she's accomplished something at the end of the day. She focuses solely on what is right in front of her. She reads a book, then she sees her piano and plays a tune, she gives me a hug, she smiles and she's off again to harass the dog and eat her lunch that she threw on the floor. She's happy and she's content.

I want to live this way. I want to focus only on those things in my present environment. I want to stare into my husband's eyes and talk about our days and not worry about cleaning up the kitchen. I want to sit on the floor and play with my daughter and not get distracted by my email or all the dog fur piling up in the corners (oh, but there's so much). This is my resolution for 2012. Slow down. Enjoy this day, this hour, this moment.

I do feel this way sometimes already.  I feel this way in the kitchen.  I never think about anything else I so urgently need to do when I am chopping vegetables or kneading dough or lovingly decorating a cake for somebody-I-love's birthday.  When I am in the kitchen I am in a world that is solely mine and I am pouring love and joy and creativity into food.  Delicious dishes that will nourish the people closest to my heart.

On Christmas Eve I made dinner for my family and dear friends and poured the love on thick.  I made a spinach and mushroom tart that my mom-in-law raved about for days.  I was proud of this meal and sat back to enjoy our evening, and basking in each moment we spent together.  I hope you were able to pour some love out in your own little way to those you adore this holiday season.  It's a few days late, but Happy New Year!


Mushroom, Spinach & Goat Cheese Tart
Serves 6-8

Adapted from Simply Recipes

2 1/2 (350 grams) cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen (see note), cut into 1/2" cubes
6-8 tbsp ice water

*note: this crust turns out the best if you freeze the cut-up butter for at least 20 minutes prior to using.

1 lb (16 oz) Mushrooms, sliced (I used mini portobellos, but cremini or any field mushroom would work too)
1/2 Red onion, chopped
4 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb (16 oz) Spinach, blanched or thawed frozen, and wrung dry (see tip here)
10 oz Goat cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

To make the crust: add flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add the butter 1/3 at a time until incorporated and it looks gravelly.  Slowly add ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together when pinched.  You may not need the entire 4 tbsp.  Remove the dough from the food processor and knead gently until the dough comes together in a cohesive ball.  Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

To make the filling: Preheat oven to 425F.  Combine mushrooms, onion and garlic and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Spread on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray.  Roast mushrooms in the oven for 20 minutes, or until softened.

In a large bowl combine the hot mushrooms, spinach and 8 oz (1 cup) of goat cheese.  Stir to combine.  The hot mushrooms will aid in melting the goat cheese and will help evenly combine all the ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

On a well floured counter or pastry mat, roll the crust dough into a 14-inch circle.  Gently, fold the pastry in half and move to a pizza pan covered with parchment paper, then unfold.  Cover the dough within an inch of the edge with the mushroom and spinach mixture.  Top with the remaining 2 oz of goat cheese.  Fold the edges of the dough inwards to create a free-form tart.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and flaky.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then slice into 8 wedges and...

Eat it!!