Category Archives: The Kitchen

« Update // Things are a changing. »

Okay, so things have been a little quiet around here later, cue the crickets. Having a baby is so much fun and so rewarding; however, most of my free time lately has been consumed with showering and sleeping. This doesn’t mean I have forgotten about my beloved space. I have been brainstorming ideas like crazy lately – usually around 1 am when Hera has been fed and put back to sleep and I’m left wide awake. I have some new series in the works that I’m very excited about. Be on the lookout for new content very shortly. I promise, I’m not going anywhere.

A New You. This is a series I’m starting more for me, but I figured why not share. I have reached my “six weeks post-partum” mark and am ready to shed this baby weight. This series will be packed with journal-like entries, fitness tips and healthy recipes. I’m on a journey to recreate myself and what better way to help me stick with it than by putting it out in the public for everyone to see. Wish me luck along this journey and I’ll keep you posted along the way.

A space, reinvented. Ever since finishing Hera’s nursery the rest of our home has become a bit lackluster. My husband and I have been on such an antique kick lately and have really enjoyed finding treasures while thrifting. We plan to begin with our living room. It is such a great space yet so rarely enjoyed and I think it’s due to its design. I want to create a more warm and home-y appearance. Who knows where this series will lead but I have some DIYs and designing in store. Watch as we morph a house into our home.

Raw Beauty. This series has been something that has been brewing in my mind for quite some time now. Ever since I found out I was pregnant I ditched just about any beauty product that had an ingredient I couldn’t pronounce. I found some great products as well as natural remedies in my search. I plan on sharing some great natural finds, such as my plant-based shampoo and conditioner that I’m obsessed with, and even great beauty treatments using natural ingredients that you may already have in your pantry.

I’m so excited for what this space has/is going to become. Of course, I’m sure it will continue to be riddled with photos of Hera … but who doesn’t love a good baby picture now and then. So please, stick around, there is lots of exciting things in store.

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Confections // Peppermint Patties

I just wanted to give you guys all a quick post to let you know that I’m still here and unfortunately … still pregnant. That’s right, our little girl has opted for a late checkout at Hotel Uterus – apparently it’s quite cozy int there. So I haven’t had too much time to blog lately as I have been getting all the last minute “to-do’s” checked off my list. With that being said, I had to share a quick little recipe that really satisfied my sweet tooth today. Who doesn’t love a good peppermint patty? I was craving something festive and peppermint always seems to do the trick. I hope you guys all have a wonderful holiday and I promise I will be back … hopefully holding baby in my arms rather than my belly.

Happy Holidays!

Peppermint Patties
Makes approximately 2 Dozen Patties

2¼ Cups of Confectioner’s Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter, softened
2 teaspoons of Organic Food-Grade Peppermint Oil
2 Tablespoons of Heavy Whipping Cream
12 ounces of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Method

In a large mixing bowl combine the confectioner’s sugar, butter, peppermint oil and heavy whipping cream. Using a paddle attachment beat the ingredients until a nice dough forms. Once the dough is completely formed it should be able to handle it without it sticking to your fingers or hands.

Give your work surface a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar and roll the dough out. Using a circular cookie cutter, mine was about 1-inch diameter, cut out round discs. Place these discs on a plate or tray and place them in the freezer. You want to make sure the dough is completely chilled; about an hour.

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Melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler, stirring constantly to avoid burning. (Although nothing says “Happy Holidays” like the smell of burnt chocolate!) Using a candy fork, dip each disc into the chocolate and tap alongside the bowl to let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.

Set each dipped peppermint patty onto a piece of parchment paper and let them sit at room temperature until they have completely hardened and nice shell has formed. You should store your peppermint patties in an airtight container, but I recommend sharing them with friends and family.

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Oat Flour + Almond Butter Dog Biscuits

If you know our dog, Link, and I – we have a love-hate relationship. When I say, “love-hate” I mean he loves to make me hate him. He’s a neurotic, anxiety-ridden, very vocal pain in the butt. Unfortunately, he’s part of the family. I am a bit worried about how he will handle things once the baby arrives which is why I am trying to make amends with him. Can you believe this? I’m actually trying to reason with my dog, a beagle.

In my attempts to reconcile my relationship (with my dog) I decided to whip up a batch of “kitchen cupboard cookies”, where I rummage through my cabinets to see what I can throw together. Link went crazy for these, to the point where it just about backfired as he sat in the kitchen and whined for a full hour while the treats cooled. Let’s hope he loved these enough to behave himself a bit.

Oat Flour + Almond Butter Dog Treats
Adapted from Betty Crocker
Makes about 3 Dozen Dog Biscuits

2 Cups of Rolled Oats
1 Cup of Organic Almond Butter
1 Free Range Egg
1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
½ Cup of Whole Milk
1 teaspoon of Cinnamon, ground

Method

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Give the parchment paper a nice even coat of cooking spray.

Place the rolled oats in a food processor and pulse until a fine oat flour has been produced. Add in the baking powder, give it a quick pulse and set it aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the almond butter and egg and mix well. Pour half of the flour mixture into the almond butter and egg, as well as half of the milk and stir. Once combined, repeat with the other half of the flour mixture and milk. The dough will be thick.

On a well floured work surface roll out the dough to about a ¼-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the treats and place them on the cookie sheet.

Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to thoroughly cool before giving to your furry friend.

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Confections // Apple Cider Caramels

Halloween just doesn’t seem like much fun when you’re 8 months pregnant; which is why if you look around my house you’ll notice a lack in festive decorations. I guess with a baby due in December my mind wants to rush past all these upcoming holidays and get straight to her due date. But typical me, at the very last minute the festive spirit kicked in and I decided to throw together a costume and some Halloween goodies.

We attend our family friend’s almost every year for their annual Halloween Open House and I wasn’t about to show up empty handed. If you haven’t heard – my pregnancy craving almost the entire pregnancy has been apples. I literally cannot eat enough of them and luckily they are so ridiculous in season that they practically grow on trees – wait, ugh. (A little Halloween trickery for you…)

I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around what I wanted to make, but I knew it had to include apples and it had to be a last minute thing. I’m sure you are wondering why I went with caramels … every recipe, blog and website I read regarding caramels started off the same way “no need to fear candy making – it’s a lot easier than you think!” I’m sorry but there’s another Halloween trick right there. Candy making is not easy. The problem is you never know if you did it right until the very end, once the candy has hardened – if it does at all; and it’s usually a gooey mess whether you get it right or not. I don’t want to scare you out of attempting candy making (another little Halloween humor), it’s really not that bad. The trick is timing, exact measurements and a good candy thermometer. I highly recommend giving it a go, and just know that if you figure out the trick it’s definitely worth the treat. Happy Halloween!

Apple Cider Caramels
Slightly Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Makes about 40 Caramels

4 Cups of Organic Apple Cider
½ teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
2 teaspoons of Fluer de Sel
½ Cup of Unsalted Butter, cubed
1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
½ Cup of Brown Sugar, packed
⅓ Cup of Organic Heavy Whipping Cream

Method

In a medium saucepan over a high flame, bring the apple cider to a boil. While stirring occasionally, let the cider reduce until it’s the consistency of syrup and about ⅓ cup in volume. This usually takes about 45 minutes, be patient, the last few minutes are when it really begins to thicken.

While the cider is reducing, line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper making sure to leave an overhang for easy removing. Combine the fleur del sel and the cinnamon in a small prep bowl and set aside. I also like to have the sugars and heavy cream premeasured and ready to go, with candy making time is of the essence.

Once the cider has finished reducing, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and heavy cream. Once the butter has completely melted and the sugars have completely dissolved, clip a candy thermometer to the pan and return it to a medium to high flame. Let the candy boil, undisturbed, until the thermometer reads 252°F. Keep a close eye on this, it only takes about 5 minutes and this is the most crucial stage of candy making.

Once the thermometer reads 252°F, immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and salt mixture. Make sure the mixture has completely dissolved or you will end up with salty patches in your caramel.

Pour the caramel into the baking pan and let it sit to firm up, at least 2 hours.

Once the caramel is firm, use the parchment overhangs to lift it out and transfer it to a clean sheet of wax paper. Using a greased pizza cutter, slice the caramels into 1-inch by ½-inch pieces. (Just guestimate.) Individually wrap each caramel into a 4-inch square of wax paper and twist each side close.

Let the caramels sit in their wrappers for a little bit before enjoying. After being handled with all the cutting and wrapping they begin to soften but letting them sit will harden them up a bit more. Enjoy!

*I created these little festive treat bags with extra kraft goodie bags I had laying around. I purchased them on Etsy (found here), simply created a template with “Boo!”, “Aah!” and “Eek!” and ran them through my printer. Also, pop on over to my Etsy shop, Bee Paperie, where I’m in the process of adding some great festive items such as these!

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November 5, 2013 - 4:18 pm

Laura - Beautiful pictures! You made the whole process look nice and easy but I’m sure its more of your Halloween trickery ;). Hope you had a great Halloween!

Chipotle Pumpkin Mac n’ Cheese

aaCan you believe it’s already the middle of October? This month has just flown by. Don’t worry – you won’t find this girl complaining, that just means we’re that much closer to welcoming our baby girl into the world. If you could see the ear-to-ear grin I’m currently wearing you would understand.

Don’t be too surprised that I’ve decided to jump on the pumpkin bandwagon. How can you not find some way to sneak in this seasonal delight into a favorite dish when the local markets are practically placing them in your shopping cart? I fell victim to it. After a couple trips to the market and a few “are you smuggling a pumpkin under your shirt?” wise cracks, I picked up a few pumpkins and made some puree. Storing the puree in mason jars is probably one of the most genius thing I’ve read, it makes it so easy to have fresh organic pumpkin puree on hand to add to your classic dishes like cookies, pies and pasta.

After drooling over the pumpkin raviolis at my local market, I knew I wanted to incorporate this into a pasta dish rather than a traditional sweet dish such as bread or cookies – although I may have to make a loaf or two. Macaroni and Cheese is such a great classic dish that can really be transformed to fit your liking. My husband’s favorite is Lobster Mac and I have got to admit that it is pretty delicious. So, why not pumpkin macaroni and cheese? Hence this recipe. Adding the chipotle gave it the perfect spice to warm you up on a chilly October night – not that us Southern Californians know anything about chilly evenings in October, but I digress. Have a great weekend everybody!

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Chipotle Pumpkin Mac n’ Cheese
Makes 6 Generous Servings

4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
¼ Cup of Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup of Organic Chicken Stock
1 Cup of Organic Whole Milk
¼ teaspoon of Cayenne Powder
1 teaspoon of Black Pepper, freshly cracked
1 teaspoon of Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
1 ½ Cups of Fresh Pumpkin Puree

2 Cups of Chipotle Cheddar Cheese, freshly grated (you should be able to find this at any specialty market.)
½ Cup of Irish Cheddar Cheese, freshly grated
16 ounces of Whole Wheat Elbow Pasta

Optional
Whole Wheat Panko Bread Crumbs
Fresh Basil or Fresh Sage for garnish

Method

In a large stockpot over a medium flame, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook until a nice tan roux has formed. Try not to let the roux burn.

Remove the stockpot from the heat and add in the chicken stock and milk. Place the stockpot back over the flame and allow it to simmer until thickened – about one minute.

Add the pumpkin puree and shredded cheeses while stirring constantly to evenly mix and melt. Mix in the spices: cayenne, pepper and salt along with the Dijon mustard. Continue to simmer and stir until desired thickness.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta as directed – approximately 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and place in a large mixing bowl. Gently fold the sauce into the pasta to evenly coat. Serve warm.

Note I have to say this was yummier the next day, I threw the leftovers in a baking dish and sprinkled the top with whole wheat Panko bread crumbs and baked it for about 15 minutes at 350°F – it was delicious!

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Red Rooibos + Gala Apple Bread

I have been caught in this weird limbo of changing seasons. Kids are going back to school, the seasonal décor has hit the shelves in the hobby shops, apples and squash are making their way to my local farmer’s markets – but it’s still hot out. I have been wanting to whip out my emersion blender and sweaters for some good old fashion fall-doings but this weather just will not allow it.

There is something so cozy about Autumn and with me being 5 ½ months pregnant I tend to gravitate towards comfort. I have been racking my brain trying to come up with a “Sumtumn” recipe (that’s my hybrid word for that weird limbo phase between Summer and Autumn) and I knew I wanted to include Rooibos tea.

Before I got pregnant I was an avid tea drinker, like I honestly had, err – have an addiction. But I have had to back off the black tea (which is the best) and ever since then I have been on the hunt for an herbal tea replacement. After 5 months of floral notes and no luck – I finally stumbled upon Rooibos.

I did a little research and found out this tea is not only delicious but extremely beneficial – especially to pregnant and nursing women. How did I get so lucky? The health benefits rival that of Green Tea, some even say surpass it.

I have had Earl Grey Banana bread in the past and loved it, so in order to fill a couple of current voids in my heart; one being my loss of Earl Grey tea and the other patiently awaiting Autumn, I came up with a mish-mosh of Red Rooibos tea, Gala Apples, and a bit of spice to hit upon those Autumn notes. I cannot get enough of this bread – warmed, sliced with a small pad of butter more than satisfies this pregnant gal’s desires. Now if only the weather would cooperate.

Red Rooibos + Gala Apple Bread
Makes 2 – 9 x 5-inch Loaves of Bread
Adapted from Southern Food

2 ⅔ Cups of Unbleached White Flour
2 Tablespoons of Organic Red Rooibos Tea Leaves, loose (or about 4 teabags)
1 ½ teaspoons of Baking Soda
1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
2 teaspoons of Cinnamon, ground
1 Vanilla Bean, caviar removed
2 Cups of Granulated Sugar
1 Cup of Vegetable Oil
4 Organic Eggs, beaten
2 Large Organic Gala Apples, peeled, cored and coarsely diced

Topping
⅓ Cup of Unbleached White Flour
2 Tablespoons of Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
½ teaspoon of Cinnamon, ground
3 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a mixing bowl combine the Unbleached White Flour, Rooibos Teal Leaves, Baking Soda, Salt, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Bean Caviar – mix thoroughly. Set aside.

In a stand mixer add the Granulated Sugar and Vegetable Oil and mix. Slowly beat in the eggs one at a time. Remove from stand mixer and fold in the Gala Apples. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix by hand.

Grease your loaf pans, line with wax paper followed by greasing the wax paper. Evenly pour the batter into the two loaf pans and give them a good hit on the counter top to release any bubbles that might have formed.

Bake the loaves for about 20 minutes. While the loaves are baking, combine the All-Purpose Flour, Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Butter in a food processor. Pulse until the butter has been evenly cut – the mixture should be pretty chunky and the consistency of wet sand. Pull out the bread after 20 minutes and sprinkle the topping on each loaf. Continue to bake for another 35-40 minutes or until your “toothpick test” comes out clean.

Allow the loaves to cool for about 10-15 minutes before removing from their tins and transferring to a cooling rack before enjoying.

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October 17, 2013 - 7:42 am

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