Archive for the 'Meal Planning/Recipes' Category

Everyday Cake

Yesterday when Luke asked (using the power of his magical dimples) if we could make a cake together, how could I say no? It was a sweet afternoon; we walked to the store in the sunshine for eggs and buttermilk and then got to making a mess in the kitchen, just the two of us.

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We had such a good time. Sometimes I struggle to let go and let my kids REALLY help me with baking or cooking projects. The mess and energy and just overall chaos of little kids with spatulas and measuring cups (yelling ‘I can do it!!!!’ at the top of their lungs) can be overwhelming not to mention I might be a tad bit over-controlling when it comes to how I want things done.

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But yesterday we got it right. Lu was helpful and listened and followed instructions and I was calm and patient and took a deep breath and LET him do it on his own.

And the best part? We made a cake. And it was delicious. One layer of buttermilk vanilla cake with a lemon cream cheese frosting and strawberries. It tasted like spring.

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Buttermilk Cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a ten inch round cake pan with cooking spray or butter and lightly flour it. You could also use a 9×9 square cake pan.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside. In a mixer cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture in three parts alternating with the buttermilk. Mix together until well-combined. Pour batter into pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn it upside down on a cooling rack and pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • splash of milk
  • the zest of one lemon
  • pinch of salt

In a mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese until they are well-combined. Add the vanilla, salt and lemon zest and continue to mix. Slowly add in the powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of milk to get to desired texture.

When the cake is cool, liberally frost the top of the cake. Garnish with fresh strawberries.

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Lentil Soup

I was looking through my Kitchen Captivated column archives over the weekend realizing just how much soup I make. It’s for sure my go-to meal. Soup accomplishes several important tasks: generally healthy (as long as its not cream or cheese based), lots of vegetables, one-pot meal and most importantly, its something tasty, comforting and typically the entire family will eat it.

So all that to say, whether it’s vegetable, tomato or chicken noodle, I would say my big orange pot gets put to pretty good use each week.

This winter I’ve been making a ton of lentil soup. I wasn’t sure if the kids would like it but they gobble it up. It’s not much to look at, but it is so delicious and hearty and a great meal to help combat the winter blues.

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Easy Lentil Soup with Ham

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 red potatoes, diced
  • 1 28 ounce can of organic diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup red lentils (rinsed)
  • 1 pound ham hock
  • 2 boxes organic chicken stock
  • 1/2 bag (2 big handfuls baby spinach)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté onion, carrot and celery for 5 minutes until onions are translucent and the veggies start to soften. Salt and pepper. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add tomatoes and potatoes. Sauté for an additional five minutes. Add the ham hock, chicken stock, lentils and spices. Salt and pepper. Cover the pot and cook on low for several hours or put into a 300 degree oven for several hours. Stir occasionally. When the ham begins to fall off the bone, your soup is ready. Remove the bone and any fatty pieces of meat. Stir in spinach and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes while spinach wilts a bit. Before serving, remove bay leaves.

You can also use a ham steak in place of a ham hock. Just dice it into bite size pieces.

Chocolate Chocolate White Chocolate Cookies

It’s officially February. January is gone for another year (oh thank goodness) and I need a break from green smoothies, salad and constantly feeling hungry.

Besides, February is the month of love and all that mushy stuff and what goes better with romance than a big plate of chocolate goodness? Nothing, I tell you.

Make a double batch of these treats. Trust me. Put some in the freezer. You’ll be so glad you did the next time your husband comes home grumpy from work, or you need a treat to take to a friend or your day just blows up in your face. Not that I would know anything about any of that…

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This recipe is a bit of a mash-up between a cookie recipe from The Pioneer Woman and The Farm Chicks.

Triple Chocolate Cookies:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a mixer, cream the butter for 1 minute. Add the sugars and vanilla until creamy and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Lower the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. With a spatula mix in the chips until well-combined. Bake for about 8 minutes. It’s easy to over-cook the cookies because its hard to tell how brown they are getting. Err on the side of undercooked. Allow to cook on a wire rack and try not to eat a dozen in the first hour you bake them.

Enjoy!

Lemon Vinaigrette

I’ve been making salads like crazy the last couple of weeks. Maybe because its January or because its gray and foggy almost constantly where I live and a big plate of crunchy veggies somehow makes me think of spring. Ok, let’s be real, it’s January and I could use a few more salads and a whole lot less of just about everything else.

I discovered caramelizing sweet onions ahead of time, saving them in the fridge to use throughout the week, after reading Shauna Niequist’s, Bread and Wine and now I can’t get enough.  They are so good in a salad, and now I feel like I HAVE to have them all the time.

Anyway, this blog isn’t really about onions, it’s actually about the salad dressing. My friend gave me the recipe to a lovely lemon vinaigrette that is bright and acidic, a tiny bit sweet and perfect over greens, veggies and a little goat cheese or feta  (and don’t forget the onions)!

I think the original recipe is from Betty Crocker and as I almost always do, I improvised a little based on what I had. It’s hands down my favorite dressing right now.

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Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of one lemon (between 1/4-1/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • a splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake it up until well combined and store in the fridge for a couple of days.

My favorite salad:

  • baby spinach
  • carrots
  • English cucumber
  • red pepper
  • goat cheese
  • sunflower seeds
  • garlic croutons
  • caramelized onions
  • grilled chicken or turkey deli meat

To make the onions, slice up two large walla walla sweet onions. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat with 1/2 tablespoon butter and a tiny splash of olive oil. The key with onions is low and slow. As they begin to soften and change color, lower the heat a little and stir often. Salt them halfway through. When they are a nice caramel color, take them off the heat and let them cool. Store in the refrigerator to use all week-long.

Spicy Pulled Pork

Before summer is a distant memory and I have to go digging through my disorganized piles of notes, I need to do a catch-all for a few favorite recipes.

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Pulled pork so good you eat it cold standing at the refrigerator when you think no one is looking. This recipe always reminds me of my friend Glory and the delicious dinner she brought us years ago when our kitchen was down to the studs. Her sweet and spicy pork inspired this dish and remains to this day one of my favorite meals.

Full recipe HERE.

Which that reminds me, July marked one full year writing my Kitchen Captivated column for Yakima Magazine. It’s one of my favorite projects, I get such a kick out of people telling me they made a recipe and actually liked it.

Here are a few other recipes from the last couple months:

Spring Green Salad inspired by Shauna Niequist’s Green Well Salad

Pasta with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts

The Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookie: a recipe I’ve posted on the blog before

This and That

I wake up on Mondays and think ‘this is the week I’m going to get organized…slow down…set time aside to read, cook, finally build that marble run for Jack…’

HA.

Even though none of that is happening, other really good things ARE.

Game after game of Spot it. Bike riding in the driveway (because we’ve had exactly one skif of snow this year). Chocolate chip cookies. Trying out hot yoga. Attempting to pitch crap from the garage, my closet, the ridiculous amount of toys in the basement.

Just regular life stuff.

I have a regular column in our local magazine and before the archives get so old I can’t reference the recipes anymore, I thought I would link to a few of them:

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Balsamic Roast Beef

Cinnamon Rolls

Cheese Tortellini Soup (which I think is posted somewhere on the blog already…)

 

I’m also reading a really good book. Actually, I guess technically I’m re-reading it. It’s called Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I loaned it to a friend and she ended up ordering me a new copy because she splattered so much stuff in her kitchen cooking recipes out of it. The pages are dog eared and starting to stick together. A small group of my girlfriends started a book club/dinner club based on the book and it has been SO fun. We cook the recipes from the book, drink wine, talk late into the evening and even though we are as different from each other on paper as can be, we are finding so many lovely connections.

 

We had our first lazy weekend in months and I actually woke up this morning refreshed. We went to Lowes and Costco as a family, watched football (go Seahawks!), the boys skied a half day on Sunday and Scarlet and I vacuumed out the car and went to the library. Seriously, it was awesome. We need more of that margin in our life. I know we do and I know I am responsible for creating that space in our family, but it just doesn’t come easily.

If I had any new year’s resolutions this year, it would be to create margin. To learn to say no. To be ok with home and the occasional bout of boredom. To turn off the TV, Instagram, Facebook more often and open a book, the window, my own brain on a regular basis.

So that’s what I’m thinking about these days…more food (duh), more books, more time as a family. Less other (even the good other).

How about you?

 

 

Egg Nog French Toast

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This was a rogue experiment that turned out delightfully delicious. I know not everyone fall into the pro-eggnog camp, but if you do, this is a yummy breakfast to indulge in.

Eggnog French Toast:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups light eggnog
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 9-10 slices hearty multi-grain bread

Heat griddle to 325 degrees or a pan to medium heat. Whisk eggs and eggnog together along with 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Soak bread in egg mixture and then place each slice on griddle. Flip after a minute or two until both sides are golden brown. After cooking one side, lightly sprinkle toast with pumpkin pie spice.

Top with butter and (real) maple syrup.

*to be honest, I didn’t measure the eggnog at all, the 1.5 cups is my best guesstimate. Just slowly pour in the milk, whisking until your egg mixture is light yellow.


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