Thursday, September 29, 2011

Late Night Food

Because of work, dinner has come late a few times this week and we haven't eaten together. It happens. Last night I fed the kids their favorite meal of canned split pea soup and buttered tortillas (yes, weird, but they love it) and we finally got cooking around 8:30pm.  This meal is so satisfying and easy to make, and again super nutritious.  It happens to be vegan, but just think of it as burgers and fries. 

Portabella Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries
2 large Portabella mushrooms, remove stem
2 slices of Heirloom tomatoes, butter lettuce
2 whole wheat buns
2 medium sweet potatoes,cut into 1" wedges 
3 tablespoons of olive or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon smokey paprika
For glaze/dressing:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon spicy Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 400
Turn on panini grill, grill plate, bbq
Coat the sweet potatoes with the oil, salt, pepper and paprika.  Put on a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes, shake them up half way through so they crisp evenly.
Whisk the glaze together and baste both sides of the mushrooms.  Grill each side on medium-high heat for 5 minutes each side until the mushroom starts to open and becomes soft. 
Assemble burgers, with condiments of your choice, plate your fries
We used the leftover glaze to dress a simple spinach salad with apple, blackberries and avocado. Tip: if you pre-cut the sweet potatoes ahead of time, this could take only 25 minutes to make at cook time. Not bad!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Vegging Out

We implemented the eat vegetarian one night a week rule some time ago.  I thought it would be healthy for our bodies and our pocket book to skip the meat. We live in California where Farmer's Markets abound and we have access to everything that grows, so why not?  One of our absolute family favorite dinners is a vegetable hash with poached eggs. Secret ingredient is smokey Spanish paprika. It adds something to the hash that makes you think of bacon. Here's what's in season now:

Autumn Vegetable Hash

Preheat oven to 400
12 oz of Brussels sprouts, cleaned, halved
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped 
1 bunch of kale, cut into ribbons 
1 yellow onion, chopped
3-4 tablespoons olive oil 
1/4 cup warm water
Seasoning: salt, pepper, smokey paprika
Large, quality farm fresh eggs
Red pepper flakes

Coat sprouts and potatoes with olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper, bake on a sheet pan for 20-25 minutes until Brussels sprouts open up and outer peel crips, and sweet potatoes are soft.

In a large skillet (preferably cast iron) heat to medium-high, coat with minimal olive oil and sautee onions until translucent.  Add kale ribbons, stir until coated with olive oil (about 1 minute) add water and stir.  Cook down until most of the water is absorbed.  Add a generous pinch of paprika. Add the roasted vegetables.

For the best guide to successfully poaching an egg (which is easy once you know the technique) I recommend Martha Stewart, this is hands down the best and easiest way.  Garnish with red pepper flakes and sea salt. 


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mmm Mmm Good

You can see the size of this pan.  Let me start by saying we ate the whole thing, and by we I mean this kid.  Fortunately it's chicken pot pie that is both hearty and healthy. Here's the recipe. For a vegetarian version sub in veg stock and double the root vegetables.

Chicken Pot Pie

3 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 Cup of flour
3 Carrots,chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
2 large yukon gold potatoes, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped 
1 cup frozen peas 
3 Tablespoons of fresh thyme
2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2" pieces
Generous pinches of Salt and Pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
6 sheets phyllo dough (thawed for an hour in refrigerator)

Preheat oven to 350
Bring stock to a simmer

In a large, deep skillet, over med-high heat:
Combine olive oil and flour until it forms a paste.
Add the vegetables and stir until they are coated.
Add Chicken until coated. Season.
Add Broth and bring mixture to a boil, then simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Pour the stew into a 9x12 casserole dish. 
After basting the phyllo dough with olive oil, place sheets over the top of the stew and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until crispy.

Side note: one of my kids is dairy free, I found a great Phyllo dough from The Fillo Factory (Whole Foods)that is made without butter, which is lower in fat and could lend itself well to making this recipe vegan.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Me in my Autumn Sweater

It's my favorite time of the year, when summer starts fading in and out, and you can smell the distinct arrival of Autumn with the first rain and the crunch of fallen leaves.  We experience an Indian Summer here in the Bay Area which is always a little confusing. Despite a lingering tomato crop and layered, but flip-flopped wardrobe, Autumn is here.  We made a menu of healthy comfort food and I'll be sharing a recipe each day this week after I make it.  Here's what to expect...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Anniversary Party

This past weekend we surprised my in-laws with a belated Anniversary Party to celebrate their forty years of marriage.  We wanted to recreate a version of their original reception.  

With a little sleuthing we found out their backyard wedding menu featured appetizers, their colors were apple green,pink and white, invitation font was French Script and wedding song was "Unchained Melody". 

Armed with these details, we scouted a location in a park near their home, and set the park picnic table in a green linen table cloth with pink roses and carnations - a nod to the 1970's.  The menu was a play on their original appetizers. We featured Crab Cakes with an herb salad, Lamb and Tri Tip Kabobs with a pilaf with almonds and golden raisins and a Vanilla Chiffon Wedding Cake, complete with miniature bride and groom cake topper.  Here's to 40 more.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Real Real Simple

I don't do clutter.  I have a box in my garage that says "Sentimental Pottery" which is full of handmade bowls an old friend gave me, signed "For Heather". In my life everything has a system, whether I follow it everyday or not, I call it "processing" and my husband makes fun of me about it.  However, it keeps things visually uncluttered and preserves my sanity. I thought I'd share a few of these systems today: 

1. When I buy fruit, I remove all the stickers, wash it and always put the apples on the bottom, because they ripen hard fruit.  I have a snazzy fruit bowl that is open on the bottom and allows the fruit to breath.  

2. Mail.  I go to the mailbox and on my way back to the front door I sort it, recycling all the junk. I put all the bills in a folder in my desk. Magazines are put in an oversized wire basket and I recycle the previous issue.

3. I buy everything in one color.  Most of my pottery and decorative knick-knackery is white including a set of dishes and my linens.  All of my appliances are black.  I do this so that when everything is in full use, it all works together.  I LOVE color, but I use it carefully.

4. Menu planning/Shopping/Fridge cleaning.  This happens at the same time. Rotting leftovers take up space and only get pushed further back if they don't leave right away. When making the shopping list I take inventory and pull out the old stuff before the new stuff arrives.

5. I pick a brand and stick with it.  In this house it's usually Method which now offers just about everything.  When everything is the same brand it works together visually and the scent is complimentary (kitchen, bathroom, floors).

Friday, September 9, 2011

I love you Alexander Girard

It's no secret that my favorite artist/designer is Alexander Girard.  When I grow up  I want to be him.  Alas, I own only one textile featuring his work, but it's a pillow with boobies on it, so at least it's a good one.  I have tried to style my house in Girard, Jonathan Aldler kind way- kid friendly, happy colors, tongue in cheek graphic pattern with simple lines. So far I am most happy with the dining area, which features my grandparents 1950's Drexel table and chairs.  I am soon going to be adding their record player credenza and after moving my desk downstairs, I needed some DIY art for the wall. Looking to Girard for inspiration, I made three pieces using a lot of paint swatches lifted from the Home Depot.

I tried to tell a simple story with the three patterns... Sun and Rain make Flowers... All I need is that record player and my sunny yellow Release The Sunbird album will have a nice home. To make, you'll need: several colorways of paint swatches, a punch, some scissors, white paper stock, and a permanent glue stick. Arrange the design before you glue down.  For the rain drops, I made a stencil ahead of time and traced the shape on the wrong side before cutting out and arranging. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Oh September in the Bay Area, it's hot and all I can think about is tweed.  A few weeks ago I found this article about foraging in the forest for the ingredients of what appeared to be a fairy and gnome style picnic, not my bag, but they had a recipe for homemade popsicles that made me abandon my ZOKU for the day and use up the leftover and afore mentioned olallieberries, simply because the recipe called for twigs, which are in my opinion, cool.

My Recipe

4 cups berries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12 twigs (washed)
3oz dixie cups
cupcake papers
rubber bands

Boil berries with water and sugar for 10 minutes until broken down. Cool.
Pour into dixie cups, using a toothpick, poke a hole in center of cupcake paper and cover the cup,wrap a rubber band around cupcake paper, insert twig. Freeze for 3 hours.  Enjoy.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Burning Down the House

I've had a crazy couple of weeks.  We were out by the Playhaus and got ambushed by a swarm of yellow jackets which was as insane as it sounds. After a month long interview process I was offered a job, accepted the job, and ended up needing to walk away. Oh and Jasper started Kindergarten. I've realized though at times being a mother can be a scary, frustrating, and sort of personally stifling experience for me. For now at least, it's what I am good at and I really am lucky that I have the opportunity to be their mom.

Laying Low. They say in a fire, you want to get down low to give yourself space to breath.  The only good thing about having to call the paramedics is that when it turned out everything was okay, I had a room full of fire fighters(yes this was good for everyone), a big red truck with flashing lights in front of our house and two small boys with big grins and plastic helmets. Sometimes after a week or two of crazy what you really need to do is nothing, and that's just what we've been doing.
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