Thursday, October 02, 2014

Golly Gee, Someone's 3!

Thatbaby turns 3 today.  3 YOU GUYS!  He's like a real little person now.

3 years ago he was big enough to fit in our hands.

Now he's basically a man.  But smaller.

His personality cracks us up every day.  He has such a sense of humor.  He's a goof and loves making people laugh.  Which I'm glad for, because he was a pretty serious baby.

Speaking of - how funny is his latest school picture? 

Looking forward to another year with our goofy little monkey.  Happy Birthday Thatbaby!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Jansson's Frestelse (Swedish Potato Temptation)

Anchovies scare me.  I cannot even begin to explain why.  Every time I use them, I'm reminded how much I love their salty taste, the way they disappear into the food, that they don't taste like fish.

And yet, each time I see a recipe involving anchovies I get a little squeamish.  When I pull pack the tin, I have to take a deep breath and coax myself onward.  But in the end, it is always worth it.

Like these potatoes.  Kim Sunee mentions that this dish is part of the holiday meal in Scandinavia, and that makes sense.  It's rich and decadent - salty and creamy.  It seems perfect for a cold winter night.  Sunee was introduced to the dish when she moved to Sweden after finishing school, cooking recipes from her roommate's mother's cookbooks.  She calls it a "warm potato temptation" and that's a pretty accurate description!

Jansson's Frestelse (Swedish Potato Temptation)
1 1/2 to 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
1 onion, sliced
8-10 oil packed flat anchovy filets
1 container creme fraiche
1 cup heavy whipping cream
fresh nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Place half of the sliced potatoes in a lightly greased baking dish.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.  
  3. Cover with onion.
  4. Finish with layer of remaining potato slices and top with anchovy filets.
  5. Add more salt and pepper, as needed.
  6. Combine creme fraiche and cream in a small bowl.
  7. Pour cream mixture over potatoes, adding more cream to cover, as needed.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.
  8. Cover with foil if potatoes begin to brown.  Uncover and bake another 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Croque Madame

Don't forget, it's your last chance to enter my TeaVivre Giveaway!

I started taking French classes in 8th grade.  It was an "intro to French" class and we really didn't learn too much actual French.  Mostly it was about French culture and French food.  I have strong memories of learning to read a French menu.  (To be fair, this is actually a pretty handy skill to have.  And also, my Spanish knowledge is also pretty limited to food.)

The two items that stand out most in my memory were the citron presse (like a lemonade) and the croque monsieur/madame.   The croque monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  The croque madame is the same thing, but with a fried egg on top.

I've been to Paris two times, and both times I've managed to enjoy the ubiquitous sandwich.  In a way, it really encompasses everything that is amazing about French food - simple and decadent.  Such an odd dichotomy, right?  But when you think about it, it doesn't get more basic than a ham and cheese sandwich.  And the French take that idea and elevate it by warming it up and topping it with a rich, cheesy sauce, and a buttery egg.

The croque madame was the first meal a young Kim Sunee enjoyed at 18 when she ventured to Paris.  Sitting in a cafe by herself, drinking a glass of red wine and taking an assessment of herself.  The first step on her road of self-discovery.

Croque Madame (From Trail of Crumbs)
4 slices sourdough bread
4 slices ham
Dijon Mustard
1 cup grated gruyere
1 cup Mornay sauce
2 sunny side up eggs
  1. Heat a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  Butter bread on all sides and top 2 of the slices with ham and a smear of dijon.
  2. Top with half of the cheese and cover with remaining bread slices.
  3. Place sandwiches buttered side down into the skillet, pressing gently with back of spatula.  Let cook 1-2 minutes or until bottom is slightly golden.
  4. Top with mornay sauce and remaining cheese.  Place skillet in oven and broil 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.
  5. Top with fresh sunny side up egg.
Mornay Sauce
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbps flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup grated gruyere
  1. Melt butter in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium high heat.  
  2. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.
  3. Add milk, whisking constantly.  Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes more.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Tis the Season

Most people get really excited about the winter holidays, but me?  I love the fall.  And with a toddler, it seems like I'm rushing to cram as much fall fun in the short time I have.  Part of our issue is the fact that fall is also made up of birthdays and Jewish holidays, which cuts against the time we have to get out and take advantage.   Here are some of my favorite fall activities with kids:

Apple Picking - Every year I swear we're going to go earlier, and every year we end up scrambling to find an orchard that's still open when we can go.  This year was especially bad because of the drought this summer.  The apple season was exceptionally short.  By the time we went, there was only one orchard still open.

But that's specific to us.  For you, get thee to an apple orchard!  They're perfect for kids.  Great space for them to run around; they can pick apples right off the trees, and at least Thatbaby gets a big kick of being able to eat as many as he likes.

Apple Cider -  I love apple cider in the fall and Thatbaby seems to be following suit.  Cider is the perfect fall drink: it's warm and made from the best fall has to offer.  And it's a great transition from summer's lemonade to winter's cocoa.

Street Fairs - Harvest Festivals, Street Fairs, Craft Shows, fall seems to be filled with them.  And its a great time to pick up some unique holiday gifts for the upcoming season. 

Pumpkin Patch - I loved going to pick out pumpkins before Thatbaby was born, but it's just so much more fun with a kid.  They get so much out of it.  Seeing hundreds of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, corn mazes, hay rides, trains, and petting zoos - pumpkin patches are a whole day of fun.

Community Halloween Events - I really like taking advantage of these.  Many downtowns have Halloween events like store to store trick or treating, or costume contests or parades.  Since they're usually during daylight hours, they're especially good for little guys.  And you can ensure a safe environment with willing participants.  Plus, who doesn't love another chance to dress up in costume?

Trick or Treating - This is a given, right?

Pumpkin Carving - We make a big production of this.  We watch Halloween movies while we carve and it becomes a great family affair.  It's great having some quality family time and makes the holiday even more special.

Family Pictures - Crisp fall leaves, perfect sunlight hours, and nice cool weather.  This is the perfect time of year for family photos.  Whether you're doing them for Christmas cards, or just to have a yearly picture, this is the time to start finding and booking a photographer.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Runday: Beat The Blerch Virtual Race

Months and months and months ago L&O's sister sent her a message about a new half marathon this year that featured rest stations with cake and grape drink.  Sounds pretty fun right?  Beat the Blerch is a race based on the comic strip by Matthew Inman featured in The Oatmeal.  The Blerch, anthropomorphized into a fat little cherub, is that nagging little voice that tells you to walk the next mile, go home and eat pizza, or hit the snooze button instead of running.

There was no way I was going up to Washington to run the race, so instead I just watched in amazement as it sold out.  Then as they added another race day and that sold out too.  I was kind of giddy when they next announced they'd be doing a virtual version of the race.

I've never done a virtual race before, unless you count the virtual marathon I ran back in 2010, but at least I ran a component of that race!  This time I was completely on my own.  A couple weeks before the date of the race, my race packet came in the mail.  Check out the swag!

There's a bib and tech shirt, or course, and a medal.  But there was also gummy bears (Thatbaby loved) stickers, magnets, lip balm (which Thatbaby is trying to commandeer) and a Blerch stress ball (which Thatbaby did commandeer).

The race date was September 20, so I knew I wanted to get my miles in then.  So when SDMom asked if I wanted to join her on a run that morning, I said "sure" even though it meant getting up at 5am on a weekend and running in the dark.

It didn't stay dark for too long though, and I do love running with people.  It was a new location for me, running along the bay downtown.

So even though I felt totally lost and turned around most of the time, it was a nice, scenic run.  And pretty flat!

Plus, I got to see a lighthouse!  Bonus!  And with it being so hot lately, it was nice to go early enough where it was relatively cool.   When we got back to the start, I medaled myself.

My first virtual race is in the books!  So how about you, have you ever run a virtual race?  Would you want to?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Spring Pea Salad with Minted Cream and Grilled Cheese Toasts

Don't forget to enter my TeaVivre giveaway and get your hands on 5 different teas!

I get stumped on sides most nights.  I'm great at coming up with entrees, but as you may have noticed, the plate is usually a little bare aside from that.  It's a combination of both lack of time and lack of creativity.  So steamed veggies have become a near-constant around here.  That and black beans.  I've been trying to work on that by adding some new side recipes to my repertoire.  Like the caramelized green beans and almonds I made earlier this week.  Or the roasted brussels sprouts in browned butter. 

This is a recipe that is for sure getting added to my side dish list.  Mostly because it went over so well with Thatbaby who is going through the typical toddler "I don't like green" phase.  But he loved these peas, he loved the prosciutto, and he loved the cheese bread.  The dish makes a lot, so he even loved it the next day.  I especially liked it because sometimes it's too hot out for warm vegetable sides.  This is a nice, cool, refreshing summer treat.

Spring Pea Salad with Minted Cream and Grilled Cheese Toasts (From Trail of Crumbs)
 2 cups fresh, shelled, English peas
1 cup fresh snow peas
3 slices prosciutto
1 cup creme fraiche
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
fleur de sel and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
2 to 3 Tbsp julienned fresh mint leaves

  1. Cook the English peas 1 to 2 minutes in salted boiling water.
  2. Add snow peas and let cook 1 minute more.  Shock peas in an ice bath and let drain.
  3. Cook prosciutto in a hot pan until crispy.  Remove from pan and reserve. 
  4. Combine creme fraiche, lemon juice, fleur de sel, pepper, and fresh mint ina  bowl.
  5. Add peas and stir gently to combine.  Let chill in refrigerator about 1 hour.  
  6. Top with crispy prosciutto and serve with grilled goat cheese toast.
Grilled Goat Cheese Toast
Slice baguette and grill or toast lightly.  Rub with garlic and place cheese on top.  Broil for a few seconds, sprinkle with some fresh herbs and/or a drizzle of good olive oil.     

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Cinnamon Cream Cheese Rolls

L'Shana Tova everyone!  Happy New Year!  The Jewish New Year is vastly different from the secular New Year.  For one thing, we do not stay up all night to ring in the new year with kisses and fireworks.  Although we were up far later than anticipated last night due to a very long evening service.  And on New Year's Day, there is no sleeping in and lazily grabbing brunch.  Instead we are up early, getting ready for a day of services.

I don't mind the differences between the two, but I do prefer the lazy mornings of the secular New Years.  Brunch with my family is one of the highlights of the holiday.  We don't do any special Christmas breakfast, so I like to make up for it with New Years.  And cinnamon rolls are the perfect make ahead and pop in the oven the morning of kind of breakfast.  I'm very picky about my cinnamon rolls though.  I don't like the ones that are just cinnamon wrapped up and glazed.  I like the really unhealthy version - with a cream cheese filling and a cream cheese frosting.

The cinnamon rolls in Trail of Crumbs are a kind of hybrid of these.  I tried both versions - her cream cheese cinnamon filling and her chestnut mascarpone filling, both are equally enticing.  Super sweet, so probably a good thing there's just a simple glaze on top.  Although that glaze is extra sweet too.  I really loved the citrus aspect, something I wouldn't consciously put together with cinnamon rolls.

These cinnamon rolls are another conglomeration.  Sunee refers to her Minnesota grandmother's cinnamon rolls before introducing the recipe, but the creme de marron is decidedly a French contribution.  Like Sunee it's an interesting blend of cultures that just seems to fit together.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Rolls (From Trail of Crumbs)
16 oz sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 1/2 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp melted butter

  1. Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts.  Set aside and let cool
  2. Stir together yeast, warm water, and sugar in a bowl.  Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  
  4. Gradually add in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make a soft dough.  
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes.)  Place in a well greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a draft-free, warm place 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  6.   Punch down dough and divide in half.  Roll each portion into a 24 by 12 inch rectangle.  Spread half of the filling (cream cheese or chestnut mascarpone) on each rectangle.
  7. Roll each dough rectangle, jelly roll fashion, starting at the long side.  Place each dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Slice into 12 equal slices.  Place cut rolls, cinnamon side up, on baking sheets.
  8. Cover and let rise in a draft free, warm place 20-30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  9. Brush with melted butter if desired.
  10. Bake, uncovered at 375 for 15-17 minutes or until golden.  Let cool on pans on wire rack about 5 minutes.  Top with citrus vanilla drizzle.
Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling
Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 16 oz cream cheese, and 1 egg in an electric mixer until smooth and blended.

Chestnut Mascarpone Filling
 Combine 8 oz mascarpone with 1/2 cup creme de marrons.

Citrus Vanilla Drizzle 
Stir together 3 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, 1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp grated lemon zest and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract in a small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted.