Friday, November 30, 2012

Cranberry, Brie & Arugula Crostinis

It's already more than a week past Thanksgiving. But I have an issue with Thanksgiving, or any holiday meal really. My problem? It's appetizers. I love them and eat way too many. Then I'm full and can't truly appreciate the corn bake or sweet potatoes. First world problems, I know.
This Thanksgiving my brother-in-law made these amazing cranberry, brie and arugula crostinis. I could eat these for just a meal. So make a batch just for yourself. Or they would be perfect to make for a Christmas party. Win-win-win.

Cranberry, Brie and Arugula Crostinis

Ingredients:
  • 1 French baguette
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 round Brie cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups homemade cranberry sauce**
  • 3 cups arugula
To Make:

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Slice baguette into 1/4 inch slices. Brush olive oil onto top side of slices and place on baking sheet. Bake in over for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

2. While slices are baking cut brie into thin slices (as many slices as pieces of bread you have). When bread is done remove from oven and place one slice of brie on each. Not necessary but its delicious if you put it back in the oven for just a few minutes to let brie melt a little more.

3. Put a spoonful of cranberry sauce and a few pieces of arugula on top and enjoy!


**to make cranberry sauce combine 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Stir in 12 oz fresh cranberries and 2 tbsp orange zest or 2 slices or orange peel and bring to boil. Once boiling reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until cranberries start to release juices. Let sit until cool, then refrigerate.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baked Potato Soup

There's a place in Tucson called Beyond Bread. If you've ever been there you know what I'm talking about. Cozy soups and sandwiches, free internet and just a lovely place I miss. 

My husband misses it too. You see, on Saturday they had baked potato soup day. This was his favorite day. Most Saturdays we went and tried to get some before it was all gone, which meant you had to go early for lunch. 
I've tried a few recipes to try and replicate it. Most aren't even close but this crockpot recipe may be the most similar I've had so far. It is so creamy and delicious. Not at all a light soup so I recommend a side salad to balance it out but it's great for a cold winter night. 

Crockpot Baked Potato Soup
adapted from Mama Loves Food

Ingredients
  • 5 lbs russet potatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced (jarred is 5 tsp)
  • 64 oz chicken broth
  • 8 oz cream cheese**
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • garnishes: bacon, cheese, green onions
To Make:

1) Prep your ingredients: wash and dice the potatoes into small cubes (about 1/2 inch). Leave the peel on. Mince the garlic. Dice the onion. Take your cream cheese out of the refrigerator and leave it out to soften while the soup cooks in crockpot.

2) Toss the potatoes, garlic, onion, and chicken broth into the crockpot. Cook on high for 6 hours (or low for 10 hours)

3) If you have an immersion blender add the cream cheese, stir well, then use blender to make it good and creamy. Otherwise, put cream cheese in blender and add a few cup fulls of the soup into the blender. Open the vent of the blender and cover with paper towel while you blend the soup. Do this in batches until soup is as creamy (or chunky) as you like it.

4) Stir well and serve in big heaping bowls! Top with optional garnishes and enjoy. 

Enjoy!


**If you want to lighten it up feel free to use light cream cheese. 




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Observation Tuesday: Volume 32

Current Christmas obsessions this Tuesday:

I am currently eating one of my favorite winter meals, chili and cornbread. The ratio is like 1:1 because I seriously love cornbread.

I am currently watching White Christmas. It's my mom's favorite Christmas movie, therefore I love it too. But not as much as Elf.

My favorite Christmas CD currently? Michael Buble Christmas. His smooth voice just lulls me into a state of yuletide bliss.

Also, we officially decided on a real tree, thanks to your input! We'll be getting it through my husband's PTA. We'll save the trekking into the woods for another day.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Snapshot Sunday: November 25

What a fantastic Thanksgiving week it has been! I worked a few days this week then spent most of it with my family in Montana. That was full of eating and playing and generally being loved on by the people I love most in the world.

Sunday: Yulefest at the Nordic History Museum.
Connecting with my roots.

Monday: My cousin Nate came in town for a visit. 

Wednesday: after driving all night we made it! Love these kids so much
Our Thanksgiving meal. Pancakes.

My sister, ever the amazing host, made orange mochas the first morning. 
Delicious

Our real Thanksgiving meal on Friday.
6 people helping in the kitchen made of an amazing meal

My brother-in-law made this happen.

Up on Big Mountain for a little bit of fun sledding.

I really could share so many more pictures of adorable faces and good food, but I'll spare you. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too! What were your highlights?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Observation Tuesday: Volume 31

I'm proud to live in a city that actually drinks more espresso than water.

New favorite word: hangry. Being so hungry you're also feeling angry.

Also, I hope I'm this awesome when I'm a mom:

Finally, I need your thoughts on real vs. fake Christmas trees. GO.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oatmeal Peach Muffins

Today, I woke up with the intention of having a cultured day. It started out okay. We checked out a new church, went to Yulefest at the Nordic History Museum. Then we were supposed to go to the Seattle Art Museum. I love art museums. But I was tired so we came home and took a 3 hour nap instead.  Not quite as cultured as I had hoped. But you know what, sometimes naps are totally necessary.
Naps are necessary like muffins are necessary too. Sometimes it's those giant ones from the grocery store bakery that are covered in cinnamon and have about 950 calories. I always cave when I see those so I generally just ignore the bakery or you know I'll get one. 
Thankfully these muffins aren't giant and covered in sugar. They do have some delicious sautéed peaches on top though. And they involve oatmeal so I'm just gonna call them healthy so it's okay, have three and go take a nap.

Oatmeal Peach Muffins
adapted from Scaling Back Blog

Ingredients:
  • 12-24 thin peach slices
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
To Make:

1) Grease your muffin tin (sounds like a euphemism when I type it out....) sorry. Also, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

2) Put the cup of milk and cup of oats together in a bowl or large measuring cup and soak for at least 15 minutes. 

3) Now we'll make the peaches for the topping. In a medium skillet put your butter in and let it melt. Next add the sugar and stir constantly until combined with butter. Add the peaches and let cook for a few minutes flipping once until warmed and looking delicious. Take off heat until you're ready to put them on the muffins.

4) In a bowl stir together dry ingredients (flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder). Now take your oat mixture and add rest of the ingredients (eggs, vanilla and oil). 

5) Dump the oat & stuff into the flour mixture and stir just until combined. 

6) Now fill your muffin tin with mixture (about 3/4 full as I like puffy muffins). Top each muffin with 1-2 peach slices. Bake 15-20 minutes. Let cool on a rack and serve warm! Store in airtight container. They're pretty moist so I would store in the fridge if they won't be eaten in a day or two. 

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Snapshot Sunday: November 18

Veteran's Day observed at Irwin's Bakery

Walk, around Greenlake.

So rich and delicious

This is my walk to the bus in the morning before work
So dark.

Another walk around Greenlake. I love that place.

Any restaurant with a cross stich picture of of their name is alright by me

Concert at the Tractor Tavern Saturday night

Trying to fit in. 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Confession Time

I feel like I need to be honest with you guys. I started listening to Christmas music, on Pandora, in the car and pretty much all the time. It's not even Thanksgiving yet and can hardly believe I caved already but it's happening and can't be stopped.



Now that that's off my chest we can get on to more important things, things like my Annual Christmas Countdown Emails! They'll be starting soon (December 1st) and I don't want you to miss out. If you're new to my blog and have no idea what I'm talking about wonder no more. Every year, since I was little (like 10 maybe? I don't even remember...) I send out a daily email in the weeks leading up to Christmas with fun facts and a countdown to Christmas. They used to involve snowdrift font and red and green backgrounds but thankfully we've moved past that stage. They're more tasteful now. It's one of my favorite Christmas traditions and I'd love to include you!

Spread the word and if you're not already signed up and would like to be leave me a comment with your email address.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coconut Chai Coffee Cake


You guys, I worked overtime last night. 16 hours of fun at the hospital. They were short on staff, I had today off and my patients were lovely so I stayed. But needless to say, I'm a little tired this morning. It's 11 and I'm still in my pjs. You know what would be awesome right now? A fresh piece of this coconut chai coffee cake. 


Unfortunately, it's gone. But thankfully I've already committed to making it again for my family when we go for Thanksgiving next week. (CAN YOU BELIEVE THATS NEXT WEEK?) Sorry for the caps lock, I just freak out a little when I think about how late it is already. 


Back to the coffee cake. It's a light and fluffy yogurt coffee cake topped with a spice-filled crunchy streusel topping. It's got a fantastic combination of cloves, ginger, cardamom and pepper. The pepper gives it just this little kick that makes it awesome. 



And this homemade vanilla? A favor from the wedding we went to last week. Amazing! Now, lets get to this.


Coconut Chai Coffee Cake
(Shutterbean adapted from Keys to the Kitchen)

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
1) Easy peasy - mix all the ingredients together. Put in the refrigerator until cake is ready. 

Cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
1) Preheat oven to 350*. Spray a 9-inch spring form pan with nonstick spray (or coat with butter) and set aside. 

2) Using an electric mixer, mix brown sugar and butter until well combined. Add in greek yogurt, then eggs and vanilla extract while mixing in between.

3) I do the next part while the other stuff is mixing. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda and salt.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients using a wooden spoon, just until moistened.

4) Spread the batter in greased pan. Next, put the streusel topping on top of the cake batter evenly. Gently press the topping into the cake pan so it will stick when cooked and served. 

5) Bake 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean (or knife if you can't find your toothpicks....) Transfer to a cooling rack and cool before taking the side off the pan and serving.

Enjoy!



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Observation Tuesday: Volume 30

Favorite observations from this week:
  • Now that I have an iphone I'm going to do this. 


By the way, my narwhal phone cover is on its way!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Snapshot Sunday: November 11th

Happy Sunday, everyone! Here is a peek at my week

Homemade chicken noodle soup.
I had even roasted the chicken and made stock!


I'm still really obsessed with fall

Oh, Seattle.

Gray mornings. 

The things I come home with in my pocket....

Cozy afternoon reading

We went and saw Argo last night (which is a really excellent movie)
and noticed James was missing something...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Peanut Butter Hiking Bars


You guys know I love a good granola bar. Remember these? Well, I found another great recipe. They're made with pitted dates, which are a fantastic natural sweetener, and peanut butter. And the addition of dark chocolate chips? BONUS



Peanut Butter Hiking Bars
Adapted from Whole Living

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup water
  • 10-12 pitted dates
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

To Make:

1) Preheat the oven to 350. Bring the cup of water to a boil and then add the dates. Set aside.

2) Put the rolled oats in a food processor and pulse until it's consistency of coarse meal. Do the same with the almonds. Original recipe calls for pecans and you could use those as well. Put the nuts and oats in a large bowl.

3) Here's where it can get messy. Put peanut butter, dates (along with water) into food processor until smooth. Add this to bowl and mix until smooth. Add honey, salt and ground flaxseed and stir well.

4) Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper, I also sprayed mine with some non-stick spray. Pour batter in and smooth until even. If using chocolate chips, sprinkle on top and press in so they stick.

5) Bake for 25 minutes or until edges brown. Take out of oven and let cool. When completely cool, cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Enjoy!