It Seems Like Some Thanksgiving Goodness is Needed Today

Last night is still sitting heavy in my heart this morning, so we are taking pause to just be quiet and thankful for the goodness and beauty that is around us. As I am writing this, my three girls are sitting in the sunshine making a strand of beads for our Thanksgiving tree. I am listening to one of our old Thanksgiving mixes and watching the flurry of activity out on my window bird feeder. I’m feeling like we need to be a little extra gentle with each other today. Here are some little bits of re-centering Thanksgiving goodness that are bringing me joy today.

A New Thanksgiving Playlist we put together for 2016 –


These really wonderful Chocolate Chip Zucchini muffins. Warmed up with a little butter, they make everything feel like its going to be OK.
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A lovely stack of Thanksgiving books from our local library inspired by this reading list.

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Write a note to someone today to tell them you are thankful for them. Here is a thank-you-note-printable I designed to get you started. Print as many as you like 🙂
(Click the link to open a printable pdf that is already sized and ready to print. I think it works best on cardstock paper, but whatever you have on hand will work.)

thank-you-card

A Perfectly Delicious Granola Recipe

I am not really a cereal person. At least not in the morning. Cereal is a great late night snack, but breakfast? I would much rather have something warm like toast and bacon. Cold cereal is just not a motivator to get me out of bed – with one exception – a perfect homemade granola. And of course a delicious cup of artisan coffee (we just got a monthly subscription to Ruby and are LOVING it). After trying a slew of granola recipes, I have landed on this one as my favorite go-to.

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews (my preference is to roughly chop them, but on afternoons like mine today when you are feeling lazy, just leave them whole)
3/4 cup shredded coconut (I prefer unsweetened, but sweetened works great too)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup (the real stuff please)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt

Ice cold milk or plain yogurt for serving

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar, maple syrup, oil, and salt. Stir well.

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Pour onto large sheet pan. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes-ish to achieve an even color.
Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl.

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I let mine cool and then store it in a large ziplock bag, where I have never had it last longer than a week, but it would probably easily keep at least a month.

Note: I am sure you could easily make all sorts of modifications based on your nut preferences, level of sweetness you like, adding dried fruit etc. But, for me, this combination is quite perfect.

Recipe based on the brilliant Alton Brown’s version here.

Cheesy Lasagne Soup Recipe

(Picture is from A Farm Girl Dabbles)

I know it is kind of strange to post recipes on this very art centric blog. There are plenty of wonderful sites that fill that niche without needing any help from me. But, food is my love language. Making delicious meals for the people I love is what I do. I never get tired of it. So, here is yet another recipe from my files

Over Christmas, we went to our annual family potluck at my grandfather’s cabin in KS. My aunt, who I am beginning to think of as the “queen of comfort soup” made a version of this yumminess. I knew immediately that it would become a new family staple. Besides the fact that it is filled with cheesy melty goodness, and tastes likes the best of lasagnes, one of my favorite things about how this is served is that the cheeses, and mozzarella, and pasta all go in separate bowls so you can individually craft your dish. Between three picky children and lots of friends with food sensitivities, I am a fan of any recipe that is highly customizable. Extra cheese in mine? Yes please.

(this recipe is adapted just slightly from A Farm Girl Dabbles)

LASAGNA SOUP

Yield: 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE SOUP:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage (sweet or spicy, and ground beef works here too)
  • 1 package McCormicks spaghetti seasoning (not in the original recipe, so you could leave this out, but I think it adds a good amount of flavor quickly and easily. Cheating I know, but try it)
  • 3 c. chopped onions (I just use one large onion)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (leave out if you have kids who don’t like spicy)
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes (regular would be fine too)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 c. chicken stock
  • 8 oz. fusilli pasta (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

FOR THE CHEESY YUM:

  • 8 oz. ricotta
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
additional cheesy yum:
  • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Cook pasta to al dente following package directions in a large pot of heavily salted water. Rinse with cold water and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and seasoning packet and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, spoon noodles into bowl, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the top.

Banoffee Pie Recipe

We have a lot of birthdays around this time – mine, Harriet’s, Beatrice’s and Tim’s are all within a few weeks of each other. Tim’s is the last of the great hurrah and this year for his birthday, quite understandably, he requested this pie (it is also the one I served for our medal ceremony).

Banoffee pie was invented in the 80’s in Great Britain. The name is a cross between “Banana” and “Toffee”. In case you, like me, are a little wary of anything banana, don’t let that off put you. The way Tim describes this pie is “it’s like I discovered a color I never knew existed and suddenly the world is more beautiful than before.” My only critique of this pie is that it is very rich and sweet, so for balance, leave the whipped cream unsweetened.

Betony’s BANOFFEE PIE

SERVES 8

For the Pie Crust

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1 (8-oz.) package of Biscoff cookies

For the Filling

1 stick unsalted butter
12 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 (14-oz.) can condensed milk (I recently discovered that the off-brand is not as good)
splash of apple cider vinegar – I find that acid really brings out caramel flavors
a pinch of salt
1 banana
1 pint heavy cream

Instructions

Make the crumb crust: Crush the cookies and salt in a food processor until you get a fine crumb texture. Transfer to a bowl and stir in melted butter. Press into a pie pan. Press the mixture up the sides of the pan with the back of a spoon. Chill the crust in refrigerator for at least one hour.
Make the toffee: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and melt over low heat. Add the condensed milk and bring the mixture to a boil for a few minutes, stirring continuously. The toffee should darken slightly (keep a close eye on it!). Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and pinch of salt and stir to combine.  Pour the filling into the crust. Cool and chill again for at least one hour until the caramel is firm.
To serve, slice the banana and place them in a single layer on top of the caramel. Whip the cream and spoon it over the toffee and bananas, sealing the filling in.

Mine is a take on this version by Savuer (pretty similar except that I added salt, a splash of acid in the caramel, changed the crust to biscoff cookies, and reduced it from 4 to one banana)

banoffee pie
(credit to Dale Fredrickson for this pic)

‘Hangry’ No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls

My mom would make these for us as kids. They are the perfect snack to keep in the fridge and pull out when the “its five o’clock, I am only just starting dinner and everyone is yelling ‘Mom!! We are starving!!!’ hits.” 

1 C. peanut butter (other nut butters work too)

1 C. dry milk powder – this is really the magic ingredient. It makes everything less sticky.

1/3 C. honey (or less)

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 C. Cocoa powder

1/2 C. puffed rice cereal (my mom would also used crushed Wheaties)

1-2 Tbs water (if mixture is too crumbly

Optional – 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Shape into balls with hands(about 1 rounded teaspoon each). Place on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator.

These are also great because you can make all kinds of substitutions based on what you have on hand – nuts, sesame seeds, wheat germ, maple syrup, nut butters – anything goes.
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Betony’s Custard Filled Blue Cornbread

This recipe has become a 4th of July tradition at our house. It is rich and satisfying. The blue cornmeal has a slightly more delicate texture than the yellow and just elevates it to the next level. And, its patriotic…

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup blue cornmeal (yellow is fine too if you can’t find blue)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-2-inch round baking pan, and place in the oven to preheat. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

  2. Whisk eggs and butter in a large bowl. Whisk in sugar, salt, milk, and vinegar. Add flour mixture, and whisk until just smooth. Stir in corn kernels.

  3. Transfer batter to heated pan. Pour cream into center of batter; do not stir – this part will seem a little weird, but just trust me, its glorious and works. Bake until pale golden brown and set, about 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Unmold, and serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

My Two Very Favorite Biscuit Recipes

Photo credit is to Bon Appetit (Rosa’s Biscuits) – whenever I make these I seem to be to busy stuffing them into my mouth to take a picture.


There are two kinds of biscuits – ones that you put toppings on and ones that you don’t. As much as my husband would like to argue there is a third kind that comes in a can, he is wrong. This first recipe acts as a perfect vehicle for toppings – sausage gravy, salted butter and strawberry jam, maple cream (if you are so lucky), homemade apple butter, etc. In this case, I want a thick simple biscuit, served right out of the oven, split in half and slathered with whichever toppings I have on hand. In this case, the biscuit I want is my mother’s (which is adapted from Better Homes & Gardens).

Preheat oven to 450°. In a bowl stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (you can do this in the food processor if you want). Make a well in the center; add milk all at once. Stir just till dough clings together. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough gently for 10-12 strokes. Roll or pat dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (a drinking glass works great), dipping cutter into flour between cuts (my kiddos like shaped cookie cutters). Transfer biscuits to a baking sheet. Bake in a 450° oven for 9-11 minutes or until golden on the edges. Serve warm with butter and toppings. Makes 10.


This second biscuit recipe is the kind of thing I would want to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon. If you were coming over to my house for an afternoon chat, or in need of a little extra love, I would make you these. They are buttery, salty, and crispy on the outside, and sweet and tender on the inside. They need absolutely no adornments – just eat them the way they are. They are little pillows of magic. We made two pans of these for Easter dinner this year. There wasn’t a single one left. You must eat these while still warm out of the oven. Fortunately, the prepped pan of biscuits freezes great. You can make them ahead of time and then bake when ready.

Note: This recipe is Rosa’s almost exactly except that I cut down the sugar a bit.

Ingredients

SERVINGS: MAKES 24

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces; plus 6 Tbsp. (¾ stick), melted
  • ¾ cup chilled buttermilk

 Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1½ tsp. salt in a large bowl. Add chilled butter and toss to coat. Work butter into flour mixture with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with several pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
  • Using a fork, gently mix in buttermilk, then gently knead just until dough comes together (do not overmix).
  • Pinch off pieces of dough and gently roll into 1” balls; place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart (you should have about 24). If butter softens too much while you are working, chill dough until firm before baking, 15–20 minutes.
  • Bake biscuits until golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with more salt (I use flaky sea salt). Serve warm.

    Recipe adapted from Rosa Pacheco, Del Posto, NYC, Photograph by Dustin Aksland – published in Bon Appetit, 2014

Moonwalk Cocktail

For Christmas, Tim (who knows me a little too well 🙂 got me an awesome new cookbook.
Saveur-New-Classics
I am only just getting around to trying some of the recipes (it is a pretty gigantic tome). One of the first we tried is a cocktail called “Moonwalk.” It is delicious! It is already a go-to cocktail for us. Here is story they have before the recipe –

In 1969, Joe Gilmore, head barman at Savoy Hotel’s American Bar in London, invented this citrusy champagne cocktail to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing. The drink—a lively combination of grapefruit juice, orange liqueur, and a hint of rose water, topped with bubbly—was the first thing astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin sipped upon returning to earth.

With a story like that, how could we not try it?! (That and I just happened to have some rose water that I really wanted to try using)

 Moonwalk

MAKES 1 COCKTAIL

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
    • 1 oz. orange liqueur, preferably Grand Marnier
    • 3 drops rose water
    • Champagne or sparkling wine, for topping

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine grapefruit juice, orange liqueur, and rose water in an ice-filled shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne flute; top with champagne.This recipe appears in the SAVEUR New Classics Cookbook.
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Buffalo Chicken Bites

In honor of the super bowl this weekend (an event that around here is much more about the delicious finger food than the actual game) I thought I should post my very favorite hot appetizer recipe. Even though these involve making your own dough they are really not too fussy and the are INCREDIBly tasty. Warm, buttery, little pillows of sweet bread wrapped around a cheesy melty buffalo chicken. I am getting hungry just thinking about them. Trust me, you won’t regret making these.

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Note: I usually set aside some of the chicken and make a few that are more kid friendly using ranch dressing instead of hot sauce for the kids.

recipe adapted from Gourmet

1 cup finely diced cooked chicken breast or thighs (I use frozen and throw mine in the crock pot with some salt a pepper, only takes a couple of hours)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup hot sauce (Frank’s brand is what I use)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise dry yeast

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm milk ( I used 2%)

2 1/2 cups of flour

To make the buffalo chicken mixture, in a small bowl, combine the chicken, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, melted butter and hot sauce; salt and pepper to taste, set aside.

In a 1 cup measuring cup, heat the milk and then add the 2 tablespoons brown sugar; stir into warm milk until dissolved; place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.

Add 2 1/2 cups flour, yeast and salt to the stand mixer and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time, if necessary. Allow the dough to knead in the stand mixer for 5-7 minutes. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Place dough into a clean bowl that’s been lightly oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and bubbles appear on surface, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then gently roll and stretch 1 piece of dough to form a 12-inch-long rope. Flatten dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you, then roll out to a roughly 12- by 4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin. Gently press one fourth of buffalo chicken mixture into lower third of rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along bottom edge. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over filling and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope. Cut rope into 12 pieces and transfer to a sheet pan. Make 3 more ropes with remaining dough, filling and cut into pieces, transferring to sheet pans. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes (dough will rise slightly).Bake buffalo chicken bites in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from oven (some cheese may have melted out.) and brush tops with melted butter before serving.

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The Cookie Exchange

Things get competitive this time of year as some friends of ours host an incredible cookie party. People bring a tray of their own, then take home an extravaganza of various delectables in exchange.
During the event a contest is held where a “best of” cookie is voted upon. Here are a few of the favorites from the last few years!

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Thumbprints

INGREDIENTS:

1 C. all-purpose flour

1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon instant espresso (optional)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts, toasted

1/3 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Nutella)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt; stir with a whisk. Place butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Stir egg yolks with a whisk, adding espresso, if desired. Add the yolk mixture and vanilla to butter; beat well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined.

Turn dough out onto a sheet of wax paper; knead 6 times or until smooth and shiny. Shape dough into 28 (1-inch) balls. Roll sides of balls in nuts, pressing gently. Arrange balls 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press thumb into center of each cookie, leaving an indentation. Bake, 1 batch at a time, at 350° for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks. Spoon a scant 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut-chocolate spread into center of each cookie.

Cooking Light 2009

 

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting

Makes approx 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS:

Cookies:

14 tablespoons salted butter (1¾ sticks)

1¾ cups packed light brown sugar

2¼ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

1½ Tbsp vanilla

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar

Frosting:

½ cup light brown sugar (packed)

3 tablespoons butter

¼ cup milk

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

Cookies:

Preheat oven to 350°
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat butter in medium skillet over medium heat until melted.
When butter melts slowly swirl the pan and continue to cook the butter until it becomes a nice, brown-caramel color.
The swirling helps it from burning. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and set aside.

When butter is cooled mix 1¾ cup light brown sugar and browned butter with electric mixer until no lumps remain, about 30 seconds.

Add egg, yolk and vanilla and mix for another 30 seconds, until smooth.

Slowly add in your flour mixture and mix on medium-low until incorporated.

Combine remaining ¼ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll cookie dough into balls and then roll in sugar mixture.

Place on lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake approx 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
Do not over-bake. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Frosting:

Combine brown sugar and butter in small saucepan over medium heat.

Bring to a boil and continue cooking 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes. Mixture will slightly thicken.

With hand mixer beat in milk until smooth. Slowly add in powdered sugar until spreadable consistency.

Spread approx. 1 teaspoon frosting on each cookie.