Friday, November 29, 2013

Never say never!

For the first time in my life, my mom asked me to contribute to Thanksgiving dinner.  I also got to sit at the grown-ups table, which was nice, but I was secretly pleased that I still had a chocolate turkey waiting for me at my plate.

For 29 years I have heard my father lament the times he was forced to eat brussel sprouts as a child.  To this day, he swears he hates them and will not eat them.

In addition to a dessert, my mom asked me to bring a vegetable.

Challenge accepted.

Not a fan of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, I poured over recipes using brussel sprouts in interesting ways.  I brought my dish in its disassembled form, tossed it together just before dinner was ready, and made my dad try it before he knew what it was.  HE LIKED IT!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving goes to the dogs...

There are a lot of dogs in my life this Thanksgiving.  Four, maybe five, to be exact.  I say maybe because there could be an adoption tomorrow if things go well.

If you have a dog, you know the look you get when yummy smells and crinkly packages happen in your kitchen.  Throw bacon into that mixture and you've got a recipe for giant, sparkling eyes looking at you dejectedly, begging for a treat.  Will a boxed biscuit cut it on a holiday such as this?

I knew I wanted to try something for the furry family members this Thanksgiving, but because I am also making shaved brussel sprouts with bacon and a extra rich chocolate cake, I also knew I wanted to keep it simple.  I found a recipe that met my criteria: five ingredients I already have, fast from start to finish, and fun.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pumpkin Scones and Extra Grandparents

When I was little, I had three sets of grandparents: my mom's parents, my dad's parents, and Grandpa Arden and Grandma Elsie.  It never struck me as strange that this older couple who had no relation to me were known as my grandparents.  They were sweet and loving, never missed our birthdays, and we never missed theirs.  They had children of their own who never saw them, and that right there is my mother's kryptonite.

"If you make some stuff with pumpkin again soon, can you make some for Gordon?  I think he'd really like that," my mom said to me the other day.  I was confused, not knowing who Gordon was, so she explained.  He is a neighbor of my grandparents that she got to know recently and is apparently just the nicest guy you could ever meet.  You need to bang on his front door like the place is on fire if you want him to answer.  He's jovial.  He carries a good, long conversation (a trait that is useful when talking with my mom).  He also has children who never see him.  With all those traits in his wheelhouse, I think we might be seeing a lot more of Gordon.

That stuff with pumpkin she wanted me to make, those are my pumpkin scones.  They're the perfect baked goodie to share with friends and neighbors, and I agree that they should be just right for an introduction to Gordon.  I have a feeling I might end up seeing him at the Thanksgiving table this week, but I whipped up a batch of scones to bring over anyway.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


A few years ago I really wanted to learn more about my heritage and one of the ways I tried to do that was through food.  My mom's side of the family is Swedish so I was a little wary about what foods I was going to find.  Little did I know I would discover a cookie so perfect it would make all other cookies irrelevant.  (I may love gingerbread a little bit more than the next person.)

I would like to introduce to you Pepparkakor.  Traditionally, the dough is rolled thin, cut into shapes, and hung on a Christmas tree like ornaments.  I chose to use a giant cookie scoop and turn this velvety dough into spicy, chewy pillows from heaven.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Whole-Wheat Orzo w/ Artichoke Almond Pesto

On so many nights Paul asks the question: What do you want to do for dinner?

About 80% of the time I answer that I want "the orzo."  Tonight was no exception.

I have been going through a serious lemon phase recently.  I want it on everything (I even put one in a Yuengling - it was good), especially bitter greens and garlicky pasta, and there are more recipes to post on that front, but it all starts here.  This pasta dish makes great leftovers and I always look forward to having it for lunch at work.

If you're new to cooking, this dish will make you feel quite proficient.  This beautiful, rustic, nutty pesto is virtually impossible to foul up.

Okay, enough with the chit-chat!  On to the good stuff...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Roasted Parmesan Edamame

Is it just me, or is this snack popping up everywhere?  If you haven't seen it, please let me introduce you.  It's a super simple, delicious, and somewhat guilt-free munchie that you can easily whip up to substitute for chips, and it's good for the whole family.  At our house tonight it is going to accompany some not-so-guilt-free tuna melts.

You need three ingredients:
  • 1 bag frozen, shelled Edamame
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Sea salt

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rainbow Looms, Whiskey Pork, & Homemade IPA

Sunday was a pretty darn good day.  Paul ran the Philadelphia half-marathon and was feeling good, I had a great morning at work, and the weather was absolutely idyllic.  Was it possible to get better than that?  Yep.

My BFF Beth and her mini, CLo, came over to visit in the afternoon.  We had a great time playing, coloring, talking, and giggling, but I still had a work project to do, and CLo was ready to help.  My mission: learn how to use a Rainbow Loom.  (Did I mention my job is awesome?)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Magical Gluten-Free Entertaining...

Our friends Nick and Kristy came over for dinner on Friday.  Not only are guests a great excuse to whip the house into shape, it was the perfect opportunity to try a recipe I've had my eye on for a while: Magical White Bean Soup.  It ended up being just the right dish.  It's easy, hearty, comforting, delicious, and beautifully met the gluten-free needs of our guests.

I got this recipe from one of my favorite books, Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist.  Bread & Wine is "a love letter to life around the table with recipes."  Every chapter makes you want to gather your friends together and share a good meal while soaking up some quality time.  I love every recipe from this book that I have made so far.  Shauna's husband is gluten-free, so she knows about making delicious food that satisfies a variety of dietary needs and pleases the palate.

On last night's menu:
Magical White Bean Soup with parmesan and prosciutto
Salad with almonds, sunflower seeds, and homemade vinaigrette
Chocolate-chip coconut macaroons
Lots of red wine, generously provided by our guests

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Best Chicken Chili. Period.

It's that time of year.  The temperatures have dipped to the low 30's (it even snowed!) and half of my coworkers, myself included, have come down with a serious case of the sniffles.  It is definitely chili time.