Saturday July 11, 2015
Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year
Cookies are often described as the single baked good you cannot mess up. With all of the variety in technique and design, I’m sure there’s more than a few places where you could go wrong, but all of these options allow for freedom and ingenuity in your cookie repertoire - which is exactly what Julia Usher takes advantage of in Cookie Swap.
Her creations are colorful, ingenious, and almost too-beautiful-to-eat. Detailed photos complement the recipes, enticing you to make her Lemon-Thyme Bonbons and eat them all yourself. Julia also warns you with the complexity level of the cookie, the amount of active time the recipe requires, and a few prep tips, so you know what you’re getting yourself into before you start.
Recipes are categorized by reasons to celebrate, with eight different swaps that designate appropriate cookie varieties for a garden party and pairs these with adorable DIY save-the-dates and crafts that continue upon the theme. I have the “Affair of the Heart” theme marked off for a Valentine’s Day swap (I can’t wait to make the Gingerbread Valentine Invitations come February!) as well as the “Deck the Halls” party to give some glitz and glam to the holidays, because who could resist Eggnog Cheesecake Streusel Bars?
Cookie Swap covers all elements of a party, from the decorations to the treats. With all of her amazing confectionary creations, Julia Usher proves the point that cookies can (and do) make the party.
Saturday July 11, 2015
Pie Contest in a Box: Everything You Need to Host a Pie Contest
What could be more fun than gathering with friends and family to sample delicious pies? Gina Hyams couldn’t think of a better reason to celebrate! With her Pie Contest in a Box, she gives you everything you need to host an all-American pie contest. The kit includes a contest handbook, badges for the pie judges (a job everyone wants!), scorecards, and ribbons for the best-tasting pie.
What I most enjoy about Pie Contest in a Box is that it honors the tradition of pie baking, allowing contestants not only to showcase their delicious creations, but also to share the stories that are associated with their pies. The kit’s accompanying book explains the importance of pie, saying that “Pie contests are a way for families and communities to unite on common ground. You might fight about politics or religion, but everyone agrees that pie is good.” The goal of this kit is supports Heirloom Meals’ mission because it emphasizes the community that food can build and the stories from the past that get shared along with it.
Pie Contest in a Box is a way to honor friends and family members for their secret pumpkin pie recipe beyond your second slice at Thanksgiving. Gina sees food not only as nourishment, but as love, an emotion that is most easily communicated in offering forth a piece of pie.
Saturday June 27, 2015
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
Cooking is meditative, healing, and therapeutic. Giulia Melucci understands these curative properties of food and uses them in her memoir I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti as she shares her quest for love through the meals she cooks for her boyfriends. The variety in her cooking follows the variety in her men, resulting in entertaining accounts of her relationships with writers, hipsters, and the all-too-common men afraid of commitment.
What I love is that this book is seemingly deceptive. We open it expecting to be amused by the various horror stories of men at their worst (and for some their best), but we are surprised to see a clear narrative come through this disarray. It becomes a quiet reflection on what Giulia learned in the kitchen from her mom, teaching her that where men are absent, she will always have cooking, and she will always have herself. She learns through the process of love and loss that the peace and meditation of cooking remains.
Giulia represents all that Heirloom Meals aims to capture - a love of one's past seen through food memories, and taking those memories and tweaking them for our current lives - "savoring yesterday's traditions today." She emphasizes this from the beginning, where the book’s dedication states: “For my mother, who taught me how to cook and how to love.” I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti is a witty, self-effacing, often funny account of Giulia's love life and the food she cooks - for love, to assuage a broken heart, and for pure joy.
Sunday June 21, 2015
With Father's Day upon us, which by the way always coincides with Dad's birthday, I wanted to share a little poem I wrote about him:
Straight dark hair
recognizable from afar.
Best dad in the world.
Relishes his food.
What he is eating is
the best he’s ever had.
Eats in the present,
never in the past or
Loves his sweets,
a midnight snack
Milk and cookies,
bread and jam, or
Spare ribs are a favorite,
baked ham with a
sweet glaze, a
Tomatoes and mozzarella,
a year round staple.
Big green salad
with sweet dressings
A frustration of my
Cakes of all kinds -
Disappear in a flash
Always a hugger.
Affectionate to a fault.
and happy eater.
Here are some of his favorite foods: Grilled Ribs, Potato Salad...but as I begin this process, I realized they are all his favorites. Just check out most of my recipes. They have all been inspired by the meals of my yeaith. He is every cooks dream. He devoured everything and truly always meant it when he said with a smile, "It is the BEST thing I have ever eaten."
Thank you for being the best dad. I love you!
Saturday June 20, 2015
The American Lighthouse Cookbook: The Best Recipes and Stories from America's Shorelines
We visit lighthouses for the charm of their unique structure and the scenic beauty of the sea. However, little is known of the lighthouse keepers themselves. Becky Sue Epstein gives a voice to these arduous workers through the recipes representing the foods they and their families relied upon in The American Lighthouse Cookbook. The book will give you a new perspective on these little-known figures; its incredible menus will encourage you to buy locally and depend upon the land just as their demanding schedules forced them to.
In its pages, the stories of different lighthouses along our country’s coasts are highlighted, going into detail about their individual characteristics and particular pasts. Chef Ed Jackson, who developed the majority of the book’s recipes, supplements these backgrounds with menus inspired by the foods and cooking techniques native to that region. You’ll find Sautéed Fiddlehead Ferns and Asparagus alongside boiled Lobster with Melted Butter to feature the flavors local to the coast of Maine. Also included is a “Dinner for Company” menu starting with a Hearts of Palm Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette, finished by a Key Lime Pie to show the mix of cooking styles true to Mayport, Florida.
By exploring so many geographical locations and representing them through the foods native to their region, Becky Sue Epstein creates a culinary adventure for those readers wishing to be swept up by the lighthouses’ history and romance. The American Lighthouse Cookbook impresses upon its readers a lifestyle which relies only upon locally-gathered ingredients. It shows that food is a statement of how we eat, an indication of where we come from, and an expression of who we are.
Monday June 15, 2015
When the box of Golden Door Spa food products arrived, I was excited to see that the ingredients are all organic and locally sourced. Kudos to the Golden Door! As many of you know, I eat a very clean, organic and primarily local diet. It all began as a kid with my live-in Italian grandparents and it now it is paramount in my life because my husband Jim has celiac disease and I have some weird stomach issues.
So, how do I create a recipe that is both a nod to my Italian past, and embodies my current restrictions and my philosophy? Easy, peasy! I took one look at the packages that arrived and knew I would use the red lentil soup mix: Moroccan Harrari Soup Mix.
I am an old-fashioned concoctor. I mostly cook by feel, flavor and what I have on hand. I keep a rather stocked pantry and fridge, so I can run wild most days!! I had some cooked jasmine rice in the fridge. So, it occurred to me that if I made the soup recipe and added the rice and let it simmer for a while, I would have the consistency of risotto. And who doesn’t LOVE risotto? Better yet, who doesn’t like leftover risotto re-imagined as “Arancini” – risotto balls or cakes? So, this recipe is really a two for one!! First by simply adding the rice, we create the Moroccan Harari Risotto and then with the left overs, the arancin! I love getting two meals out of one dish!!
So, I present….The Golden Door Moroccan Harari Arancini….golden fried balls of perfection. The Moroccan flavor profile that Chef Michael Stroot created combined with a little Italian juju…… and voila. Truth be told, I didn’t want to challenge the wonderfully balanced spice blend that Chef created. The hints of coriander, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, black pepper, turmeric, salt, red chili, onion and garlic were enough to carry the day. I just doctored them up to provide a different delivery vehicle!! And I didn’t have to do much. Some rice, cilantro, red onion, mozzarella cheese and gluten free breadcrumbs.
They are as delicious as they are inviting. I had to slap Jim’s hand as he went to grab one before I finished cooking all of them. I served them with a lemon wedge over an arugula salad dressed with a little olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. A perfect way to devour the leftover Moroccan Harari Risotto!!
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