12.22.2017

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I love Christmas cookies as much as the next person but our little sugar stash of holiday treats that can typically hide on top of the fridge without reminding us constantly of its existence is growing by the minute, slowly taking over our counter space…and sanity. We already relocated the boys’ gingerbread houses to the tippy top kitchen cabinet to kick the “Oh I’m walking by why not grab another gum drop…” habit.

This inspired me to take a nontraditional approach to holiday treats and make a batch of Cranberry Sherbet for a festive holiday dessert.  Sherbet is like sorbet in that fruit is the star of the show but sherbet has a bit of dairy making a silky, creamy texture.

I love a lot of things about this recipe – the simple list of affordable ingredients, the fact that there is no actual cooking or baking involved, the make ahead option (just pull from the freezer and scoop!), and the use of bright winter fruit. There is also a fun element of surprise when you pull out a container of Cranberry Sherbet to end a holiday meal – everyone is expecting a rich, chocolatey treat but a bright, tart, scoop of ruby red sherbet truly hits the spot.

I’m also willing to bet most of you have a cup of frozen cranberries hiding someone in your freezer – get those babies out!

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Cranberry Sherbet

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup frozen Dole cranberries

1 cup water

½ cup cane sugar

½ a lemon, juiced

⅛ teaspoon salt

¾ cup Dole pineapple juice

¾ cup heavy cream

 

Combine the frozen cranberries and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a strong simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Every few minutes, using a potato masher, mash the cranberries into the water so the fruit pops open and begins to release its juices.

While the cranberries are on the stove, combine the sugar, lemon juice, salt, and Dole pineapple juice in a blender. Blend for about 30 seconds, until the sugar is dissolved. Pour this liquid into a bowl and stir in the heavy cream.

Once the cranberries have broken down and the water is a deep pink, remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the cranberry mixture through a fine sieve set atop a bowl. Use a spatula to gently push the fruit into the sieve so you get all the flavor. Stir the strained cranberry liquid into the sherbet base. Set the sherbet mix into the fridge to cool down for 30 minutes.

After the mix has chilled, pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process until it is the consistency of soft serve ice cream. You may serve the sherbet directly from the ice cream maker or transfer it to a lidded container and place in the freezer for later enjoyment.

This post is sponsored by Dole Packaged Foods.

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02.02.2017

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I wrote The Beginner’s Guide to Juice Making for Food52. Check it out! 

Whether you received a juicer over the holidays, are in the midst of a New Year’s resolution kick, or simply want to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet (who doesn’t?), you may be curious about juicing…click here to read the full article and get the recipes.

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Photography by Elizabeth Cecil

12.11.2015

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Last year we had pretty black and white square holiday cards printed. Nick carved a linoleum stamp  and printed each with a “Happy New Year” block. They were never sent. The pile still lives stacked alongside unopened mail. This year however, this year, the cards are being SENT. I am feeling extra encouraged because Dylan’s preschool runs a fundraiser every fall offering Island families quick 15-minute portrait sessions with a professional photographer. This year, photos were taken at The Polly Hill Arboretum. I’m sharing some of my favorites here but what I really wish was that we had a behind the scenes photographer to capture all the volunteers, participants, and desperate (yet hilarious) measures parents went through to encourage little smiles.

If you are planning on baking some holiday cookies this weekend (between card stuffing sessions) and want a simple, wholesome Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie recipe I recommend trying this one out. Of course, you can toss in some dark chocolate, toasted coconut, chopped nuts, or substitute the raisins for any other dried fruit (I’m loving dried sour cherries these days). The point is, this is a good base recipe and one that is very adaptable to suit your holiday needs.

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Wholesome Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups oats

1 cup raisins (or any chopped dried fruit)

Optional additions: dark chocolate chips, toasted coconut, chopped nuts.

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1. Heat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar and coconut sugar on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.

2. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.

3. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.

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4. Add oats and raisins; mix well.

5. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

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family photos by Anthony Esposito

11.19.2015

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I feel like I’m returning to the kitchen table of a best friend who I haven’t talked to in months – so much to say but not knowing where to start. This (almost) two month break has been the longest one I have taken from this space. And it had to happen (for many reasons). Mostly, I was busy…furiously working on the manuscript and photography for my second book (sorry no title yet). Elizabeth was behind the camera and I was at my stove, sofa, and kitchen table doing my darnedest to create exactly the book I had in mind. It is still very much a work in process but I am damn proud of all we have done. Because of this personal all consuming project, I shut myself off from many other things. This blog, side projects, and life chores like my own dentist appointments and car vacuuming were all postponed. But now, I’m on the other side and more excited then ever to be back here. I missed cooking whatever I wanted and sharing it with you.

The downside of a cookbook schedule is the strange, cobbled together meals and snacks it leaves behind. I have served a pie and side vegetable for dinner on more then one occasion over the past couple of months. Now we are a few weeks into our regular scheduled dinner and snack routine – another cause for celebration (especially for Nick and the boys).

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First up, this recipe for Five-Minute No-Bake Granola Bars. They are perfect for busy people, small people, sweet people, and salty people. As the simplicity of the recipe suggests, almost every ingredient can be substituted with something else. The pumpkin seeds can be any seed or nut, your favorite dried fruit can replace the raisins, choose a sticky butter made from almonds or sunflowers, and bind with agave nectar or brown rice syrup. We stuck to this original recipe and they were delicious, especially enjoyed by a refreshed post-nap toddler.

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Five-Minute No-Bake Granola Bars from Food52 Vegan

makes 16 small bars

2 1/2 cups rolled oats or quick oats

1 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1/2 cup raisins

2/3 cup peanut butter or almond butter

1/2 cup agave nectar or brown rice syrup, plus more as needed

1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

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1. Line an 8 by 8-inch pan with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, pumpkin seeds, and raisins.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter, agave nectar, and, if using unsalted peanut butter, the salt; alternatively, combine these ingredients in a food processor and process until well combined. Add to the oat mixture and stir until everything is sticky and well combined. If the mixture is too dry to hold together, add a bit more agave nectar.

4. Spread the mixture in the lined pan, then cover with foil or plastic wrap, and press firmly to form an even layer. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

5. Cut into bars and warp them individually. Stored in the fridge, they’ll keep for 2 weeks.

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11.21.2014

Most mornings Dylan builds an elaborate structure of some kind before pre-school. Sometimes it’s out of magna-tiles, other times out of legos or blocks. The moment he walks out the door I quickly take pictures of it from all angles so I can try and fix it, to my best ability, after his little brother inevitably knocks it down. Some days I pass the test and he doesn’t catch my mistakes in a wall or tower but other times he knows right away that something is different and starts to inquire about every detail of my day – did anyone come over, what did Gray do, did I touch anything?

It’s this balance of a spastic one year old and thoughtful four year old that is challenging. Baking together as a threesome is not that fun these days. The little guy wants to splash in the flour while the big guy wants to crack the eggs all by himself. Lately, when Gray is napping Dylan and I get to work in the kitchen together where used the rest of our locally harvested cranberries to make muffins. Baby brother was quite happy when he woke up.

PS. The cheetah is basically part of the family.

Cranberry-Orange Muffins
From Flour

3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/3 cups pure cane sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup creme fraiche, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
2 cups chopped cranberries

(The zoo before being demolished.)

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, coat with nonstick cooking spray, or line with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar, butter, milk, creme fraiche, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold gently just until the ingredients are combined. Gently fold in the cranberries and orange zest until evenly distributed. The batter may seem lumpy, but don’t try to smooth it out.

3. Spoon the batter in to the prepared cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim (almost overflowing).

4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan.

5. The muffins taste best on the day they are baked, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300 F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or, you can freeze them, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week; reheat, directly from the freezer, in a 300 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.