Monday, February 25, 2013

Cashew Oatmeal Drops

This recipe was found on the cashew butter label that I bought at the Fresh Market last week (Once Again Nut Butter). I wanted to try a variation to my favorite Quinoa Trail Mix Balls, and this recipe is much faster to prepare! I am now a devout fan of cashew butter and am going to look at my favorite blogs tonight for more ideas. 

I think these drops would make the perfect hiking snack, or healthy breakfast on-the-go, and are even hard enough to cause a minor concussion if you have the finesse to hit your target right on the noggin. 

I brought half the batch to work tonight, and so far all the nurses have loved them! 

  1. 1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats

  2. 1/4 cup Organic Cashew Butter (by Once Again)

  3. 3/4 cup chopped cashews

  4. 1/2 cup honey 

  5. 1 tsp cinnamon

  6. 1 egg

  7. 1/2 cup raisins 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Blend all ingredients in order given. 
  3. Drop from teaspoon on oiled baking sheet or Silpat baking mat. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until browned.

photo of the week

The beautiful tulips I found on the kitchen island on Valentine's Day this year! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hummus Vow

I vow to you, dear readers, (deep breath in, shoulders back, chin up), to never again buy store-bought hummus.

Goodbye athenos, goodbye sabra, goodbye white bean trader's joes hummus.  I am tired of settling for bland, boring hummus, out of general laziness. I have a food processor, and hummus only takes a couple of minutes to make. No excuses.

This basic hummus recipe is from one of my very favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen. If Deb says to peel the skin off of chickpeas, as crazy and time consuming as it sounds, I'll at least try it once. I think this recipe is a winner, as I had to smack Josh's hands away so I would have some left for my work friends! After tasting it at work today, I would recommend adding a little more olive oil before serving as mine got a little dry. Also, the quality of the tahini really makes the hummus, and some brands of tahini have a more toasted flavor, so find one that you like. As always, bon appetite! 

Ethereally Smooth Hummus
From Smitten Kitchen

Makes  1¾ cups hummus (recipe doubles easily)

1 can chickpeas (15oz), I use Goya brand
½ cup tahini paste
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 small cloves garlic, minced
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup water
topping – olive oil, paprika
Snacks for dipping – carrots, celery, homemade pita chips, etc.

1. Rinse and peel your chickpeas.  Just take a chickpea between your thumb and next two fingers, arranging the pointy end in towards your palm, and “pop!” the naked chickpea out. Discard the skin.

2. In a food processor, blend the chickpeas until powdery clumps form, a full minute, scraping down the sides. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt and blend until pureed. With the machine running, drizzle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get very smooth, light and creamy mixture. I find I need about 4 tablespoons for this volume, but you may need slightly more or less.

3. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt or lemon if needed. Transfer the hummus to a bowl and rest it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, longer if you can. To serve, drizzle it with a little olive oil, and sprinkle it with paprika. Serve with dipping snacks.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I worked night shift on Valentine's day and our monthly anniversary (the 13th, we're that silly) and so I wanted to make a REALLY special recipe this weekend to celebrate.  I had about 100 recipes on my radar and had to narrow it down to just one! It's so hard NOT to make our favorite seared cast iron medium-rare filet on celebration nights, but I was determined. 

My mom came to town raving about this rich, velvety, soul-warming mushroom soup that one of her close German friends made for her on a rainy day. She emailed me the recipe, and I was totally expecting to spend 3-4 hours in the kitchen with a spatula in hand fussing over a fancy soup. SURPRISE! This soup is SO EASY to prepare. Josh helped me slice the mushrooms and the soup was ready in about an hour. I highly recommend a good crunchy loaf of bread on the side for dipping.  

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

4T unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 lb fresh mushrooms (I used a variety), sliced
2 tsp dried dill
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk (or fat free half and half)
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp lemon juice (I cut this back to 1 tsp after reading other reviews)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup sour cream

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onions in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk and flour together. Pour this into the soup and stir well to blend. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Finally, stir in the salt, ground black pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve immediately. May add dollop sour cream to top of each bowl. 
Bon Appetite! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Scallops Mascarpone

Every now and then, Josh will head to the Fresh Market, come home,  and cook up one of those meals that would make Emeril go back for seconds.  Yesterday, he typed "scallops" into the all recipes search engine, found one with mascarpone cheese, less than 10 ingredients, and went for it. We figured that the asparagus and mushrooms balanced the butter and mascarpone cheese. Sometimes you must take off the brakes and enjoy life...Bon Appetite!  

Scallops Mascarpone
from all recipes

1 (16 ounce) package medium seashell pasta
6 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 (10 ounce) package sliced fresh button mushrooms
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb scallops, rinsed and patted dry
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 (8oz) container mascarpone cheese
2 Tbsp butter

Optional but highly recommended for topping
-       thinly sliced smoked salmon
-       freshly grated parmesan cheese
-       extra minced parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook for 7 to 9 minutes, until al dente.

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix in the parsley and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the onion, mushrooms and asparagus and season with salt, pepper; cook, stirring occasionally until asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes depending on the thickness. Place the scallops in the pan, and cook briefly on each side until lightly browned and the center is cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat when scallops are just finished.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the milk, mascarpone cheese and remaining butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sauce is warm and butter is completely melted and blended in. Stir this sauce into the scallops and vegetables along with the pasta. Top with thin strips of smoked salmon, parmesan cheese, and extra parsley if desired. Serve immediately.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Boxer Love


I have that belief, which all dog lovers share, that my dogs are the sweetest, most beautiful dogs in the world. These girls bring us so much joy, words simply cannot tell. Josh and I photograph them like they are supermodels. In fact, they no longer even raise a brow to the click of the camera. Our Vogue cover girls. 


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tea is for Lovers

One of my 2013 resolutions: ditch the soda! Soda is BAD. It's an addiction, and there are so many healthier alternatives. Tea is...ahem...also a great relaxing evening beverage alternative to my beloved red wine. Mama says no girl needs to be drinking red wine every night.

A few years ago, I purchased this tea pot, along with a sampler of Adagio teas. A limited selection is available at the Fresh Market in cute little tins. My personal favorites include casablanca twist, jasmine phoenix pearls, peppermint, and foxtrot. I also bought this kettle, so that I could easily bring water to a slightly lower temperature to brew green tea properly. If you are considering jumping on the tea wagon, Adagio is the best. 

As I write this post, I am enjoying a warm mug of foxtrot, and it feels like such a treat. Cheers! 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Frittata with Bacon, Spinach, and Mushrooms

A day that starts with eggs for breakfast is a great day. A really great day. I love eggs. I will eat them scrambled, poached, over-easy, hard-boiled, on top of a waffle, or in the center of a piece of toast (egg-in-a-hole). Growing up, my mom would make us soft-boiled eggs with "soldiers" (toasted bread cut into thin strips) for dipping. I love eggs.  These egg spoons are a staple in our house, and if you are an egg lover, you need them. (egg spoons)

Today deserves a special gold star on the calendar. A star, to commemorate the day my mom and I ventured into the world of the Frittata. A frittata is the perfect marriage between eggs and vegetables, a fluffy and savory dish, cooked in a cast iron skillet. Here is my favorite skillet, another essential in our house. (skillet

This recipe comes from the local newspaper, and is totally adaptable based on what you have in your fridge. You can use broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, black beans, various types of cheese, scallions, or fresh herbs. Below is the combination that we tried today, which was absolutely divine. 

Frittata with Bacon, Spinach, and Mushrooms

- 6 eggs
- 1/2 lb bacon, cut into small strips
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 3 Tbsp milk
- 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar
- 1/2 bag spinach (4oz)
- 4 mushrooms, cut into thin slices
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Heat a large cast iron skillet. Add bacon and cook until almost crispy. Remove from pan. Add onion and mushrooms and saute until soft (about 8 minutes). Add spinach and cook until just wilted. 
  3. Whisk 6 eggs, add milk and salt/pepper, and stir in cheese. Pour egg mixture into skillet and add the bacon, mix gently. 
  4. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, shaking the skillet occasionally so uncooked egg runs underneath. Remove from heat when eggs are halfway set, and transfer skillet to oven. Bake for 10 minutes until frittata is puffed up and golden on top. 
  5. Cut into wedges and serve.  Feeds 3 starving or 4 hungry friends. 

photo of the week

My mom is in town this weekend helping with "wedding projects". This really means we are staying up late, drinking red wine, listening to Carole King, watching Downton Abbey, enjoying afternoon siestas, and eating delicious homemade meals. Not to worry, we have our priorities straight. In our defense, we have been very crafty girls, though I will not disclose any wedding surprises! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bacon Crackers

On a road trip a few years ago, I was casually flipping through the most recent Garden and Gun magazine, when I came across an article written about Martha Foose. She is a fine Southern cookbook author and Mississippi native, living on her family farm named Pluto down in the Deep South. The mention of a Mailbox Cocktail featuring bourbon, ginger ale, a mason jar, and good friends gathering at the end of the day stole my heart.

The article and her recipes were so inspiring, I ordered both of her cookbooks,  Screen Doors and Sweet Tea and A Southerly Course, right there in the car, on my Amazon iPhone app. (thank the Lord for iPhones and 3G service through the backwoods of Kentucky).

A few days later, UPS delivered my new cookbooks. Here comes the embarrassing part. I have only made 2 of her recipes, about 20 times each: her perfect sweet tea and her equally famous bacon crackers. These crackers should be named Win A Man’s Heart Cracker’s, or Get Away with Murder Crackers, or Forgive Me for Hitting the Mailbox in your Truck Crackers. Go ahead and make a batch, you will not be sorry. 

Bacon Crackers
From A Southerly Course

-       ¾ lb bacon (about 16 slices) thinly sliced bacon
-       42 Rectangular butter crackers (such as Club or Captain’s or Waverly)

Heat the oven to 250°F. Slice the bacon slices into thirds crosswise. Wrap each cracker with a piece of bacon, overlapping as little as possible. Place the wrapped crackers ½ inch apart on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake 1½ hours or until the bacon constricts the center of each cracker and becomes crisp. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the crackers to cool on the rack before eating.

Arrange on a pretty platter and enjoy!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Kale Saute

I stumbled upon my fridge earlier tonight, hungry, and without any idea of what I'd fix myself for dinner. On the nights I'm cooking for one, I  normally heat up a can of Amy's soup or microwave a veggie burger, but tonight I was craving real food. 

Here, my friends, something magical happened. I grabbed a bag lucinato kale, baby spinach, and chicken sausage. The spinach was an afterthought, as I didn't have as much kale as I needed, though looking back I will combine the two more often. I quickly sauteed the kale and spinach and fried the sausage in a little olive oil. The final meal was extraordinary, garlicky, and so very easy. Next time, I may toss in half a can of white beans with the greens. 


- 1/3 bag lucinato kale
- 1/3 bag baby spinach
- 1 link apple chicken sausage (mine was from Trader's)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic (of course I opted for 3), minced
- good olive oil
- pinch of salt/pepper

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in skillet, add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add kale and spinach, stirring frequently. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cut chicken sausage into 4 long pieces, and saute in another pan in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Cut into smaller pieces.

Scoop kale into a nice bowl, top with chicken sausage, pour a glass of red wine, put on a good jazz station, and enjoy every single delicious bite!