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Smitten Kitchen’s Broccoli Pesto and a new website discovery

I know it seems like I’ve stopped eating, but I promise I haven’t. I even still take pictures of most of the things I cook (usually), they just never make it this far. This one I just took with my phone as I reheated last night’s leftovers for lunch today – but that counts, right?

First, the exciting news. I’ve discovered my new favorite website/tool – Pepperplate - which basically consolidates recipes from the internet or inside your head and lets you tag them, sort and search them, meal plan, and make shopping lists from the ingredients.  For free.  It has a few quirks, and things I think it’s missing (I’ve annoyingly emailed them every time I find something), but it’s a great tool and it’s allowing me to move away from my immense piles of printed recipes that I can’t ever find or remember I have to something much more useful.  It also partners with Smitten Kitchen, which is both awesome and dangerous, because it means I am spending inordinate amounts of time on her site looking through all the billions of recipes I want to make.  Which leads me to the Broccoli Pesto.

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Broccoli is one of those things.  I love it.  Calin does not love it.  We agree to disagree, but he still has to eat it sometimes, so I’m always on a quest to find broccoli recipes that he will eat and hopefully enjoy at least a little bit.  When I discovered this recipe, I immediately added it to Pepperplate (see where that comes in?) to make soon – because pesto! and pasta! and broccoli! and kind of easy!  Well, the reality didn’t come out quite as well, but it was absolutely worth trying, and I’m definitely going to tweak it for us in the future.

Problem 1: My garlic and onions were both sprouting.  In garlic, I think that makes it stronger, but apparently in onions it makes them more mild, because the onion flavor was minimal.

Problem 2: I lost the garlic.  Seriously, one minute it was there, and the next minute it was gone.  I finally found it hiding in with the broccoli, dutifully steamed.  Weird.  So I added another clove, but that one didn’t get cooked long enough, so I ended up with this weird combo of faux-roasted and raw garlic.

Problem 3: I didn’t have any heavy cream.  I used half 1% milk and half plain yogurt instead.  Definitely different, and less flavor, but better for us…

Problem 4: I overcooked the broccoli.  There’s no getting around this one.

So the pesto was tasty, but a little bland (I also didn’t measure the salt or pepper, because I’m lazy), and Calin’s verdict was that he would probably rather just eat broccoli.  Or, preferably, not eat broccoli at all.  So, success for me but still a no-go in the “eating more broccoli” department.  Oh well.  The leftovers were actually pretty good, too.  I think I’ll try fixing the problems first, and then maybe see if I can add some other things to make the flavor stronger if that isn’t enough.

Do you have reliable go-to broccoli recipes you’d recommend?

Cupcake Friday: Blackberry & Mint Chocolate Muffins – Baking Serendipity

This is harder than it looks, guys.  Where do we find the time? Even something as simple as Cupcake Friday – where I didn’t do any baking and I didn’t do any photographing, and all I’m doing is lusting after somebody else’s delicious creation – has proven too difficult to maintain.  Every evening feels like a Friday, but every morning feels like a Monday.  This die-hard tea drinker is now a coffee drinker because let’s face it, it’s faster, easier, and has more caffeine.

Anyway, cupcakes!  This week I’m cheating a little – these call themselves muffins.  But who do they think they’re fooling?  These are muffins in the sense that any cupcake without frosting is a muffin.  (And by Patrick’s logic, that means we can have cupcakes for breakfast.)  These make me think of the amazing chocolate soufflé I had at dinner the other night at Fleurie…  But here, before I get too distracted, why don’t I just show you?

Blackberry and Mint Chocolate Muffins by Baking Serendipity

Don’t you want to eat one of these right this second?  I do.  I want to eat five.  (Three for me, two for the baby in a few hours.  She only gets two because she’s little.)  Oh man, this makes me think of my other incredibly exciting discovery of the week – another Smitten Kitchen Awesomeness – Everyday Chocolate Cake.  I might have a chocolate problem.  But does it get more delicious?

Actually, this reminds me of a question I’ve asked myself far too many times now.  What’s the last food you would ever consider giving up?  What’s the food that makes life worth living?  For me, it’s a hard call between chocolate and cheese, but I think cheese wins due to its versatility.  But obviously I can’t fully commit to that, since I keep asking the question.  What’s your one thing?

The Swing of Things – Breakfast Blueberry Muffins and Moming

I went back to work full time after New Year, and all my hopes for keeping up with this blog have been dashed.  To all of you bloggers out there who are parents and have full time jobs and still manage to post regularly, I salute you! I have no idea how you do it – my day consists of working, nursing, and getting all the housework done after the baby goes to bed.  Where the blog fits, I have no idea.  For that matter, where cooking fits is a bit of a mystery as well.

Tonight after bedtime, I decided it was high time to resuscitate one of my favorite recipes – Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins, which are healthy enough that they can be considered a legitimate breakfast food, and which a friend recently pointed out also contain flax and oatmeal, both of which helps with milk production (TMI for you non-moms out there, right?).  My other favorite blueberry muffin recipe can’t pass for anything other than dessert, and doesn’t help with nursing, so it’ll have to wait for another day – and I have to applaud my own fortitude on that front, because I found that recipe first while digging for this one, and talked myself out of it.

These muffins are ridiculously easy, especially since I discovered that I’d already ground a bunch of oats, so I didn’t even use the food processor this time.  I just mixed all the flours, blended the dries, whisked the wets, combined, folded in the blueberries, and baked.  As easy as muffins!  They’re sitting on my stove now, cooling from the oven, and they smell delicious. Almost delicious enough to make me excited about tomorrow morning – but no, I’d still rather stay in bed (which, needless to say, is no longer an option either now that I have a 4 month old).

What are your favorite week-day breakfast foods? How do you get through the work week morning routine?

Cupcake Friday: Melting Snowmen – Erica’s Sweet Tooth

I have a sleeping baby in my lap as I write this, and I’m listening to Frosty the Snowman and really starting to get into the holiday spirit.  It’s been a bit rough this year, trying to take care of the baby, work, and still get all of my holiday activities together, but as we come into the home stretch I think I’ve finally settled down.  It’s hard learning to multitask, and more importantly learning to re-prioritize with the baby, but it’s the best kind of hard.  Every day’s adventure is the best one yet.

In honor of our 60 degree days this week before Christmas, today’s cupcake is the Melting Snowman cupcake from Erica’s Sweet Tooth.

I’m sure when I try to make these myself, they’ll be even more melted than this, which is also what would happen to any snowmen wandering through town this week.  Hard to believe it’s the end of December when you can wander around outside in your shirt sleeves.  Also hard to take the end of the year seriously when it still feels like September.  I need a kick in the butt – I still have yard work to do!

Happy Holidays, everybody. I hope you all have exactly as much time off and family as you’d like, and as much peace and quiet as you need.  (We have, as always, an overabundance of family – the best kind of overabundance to have.)

Cupcake Friday: Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites – Created By Diane

On this cold, rainy day, I definitely need my weekly dose of cupcake porn.  Today’s cupcake of choice follows the cheesecake theme from before Thanksgiving, but adds a seasonal twist.  Gingerbread is essential to the winter holidays, and I’m not sure I would survive without it, although I’m not a traditionalist.  I don’t go in for the crunchy gingerbread cookies, but I drool over Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread, and my pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving was made with Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps, which are also to die for (and I don’t even like ginger snaps).

So today, Sophie and I are sitting at my desk lusting after Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites from Created By Diane.  These look spectactular, and they almost look easy, which is always a bonus – hey, that’s why we make cupcakes instead of cakes, right?  I’m excited to add these to my holiday repertoire.  I might even make them this weekend, if I’m feeling particularly ambitious.  Of course, I don’t really “do” store-bought dough or crusts, so I’ll probably make my own.  Just another amazing recipe to track down…

Do you have any gingerbread favorites planned this holiday season?  I’d love to hear all about them!

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for…

A place at this table.

A huge network of love and support.

Food glorious food.

My amazing, incredible, beautiful little family.

What are you thankful for?

Potatoes In Many Forms: Easy Roasted Potatoes

It’s a nasty day outside – cold, wet, grey, miserable – and I’m sitting inside in the almost-dark thinking about Thanksgiving and all the intense cooking and eating in the next few days.  Most years, my sister and I go all out and make a feast, regardless of how many people we’re expecting.  This year my sister can’t come home and I have a newborn, so Thanksgiving will be in the capable hands of my in-laws and I’m only a contributor.  I am contributing my famous Caramelized Brussels Sprouts (easy), and a pumpkin cheesecake (easy).  Which is making me think about all the incredibly easy recipes there are out there and how, even with a new baby, I should be cooking more.

Potatoes are one of the most versatile and comforting foods there is.  They can be prepared in so many ways, some healthy, some not so healthy; they can be simple or supplemented with delicious additives (like ranch dressing – thanks to Hidden Valley ads during Agents of Shield on HuluPlus, I’ve been craving mashed potatoes with ranch dressing for weeks).  Every time someone fixes them for me, I remember how much I love them and how I should make them more often.  Potatoes last a really long time, so they aren’t one of the “emergency – eat these now” vegetables, which also makes them a good stand-by.

This “recipe” could not be easier.  It’s so easy that I wouldn’t even call it a recipe – I’d call it a cooking style.  (I do actually apply this general style to almost all the veggies I cook – it’s excellent for broccoli and brussels sprouts also.)  Since there’s no real measuring, you can make as many or as few potatoes as you want.  These potatoes make a great side dish for dinner, or a simple substitute for fancier hash browns at breakfast.  And if you’re like me and you like to use your hands rather than utensils, the olive oil is great for your skin!

Easy Roasted Potatoes

  1. Cut up some small potatoes, however many you have or want (I had about five yukon gold here).
  2. Toss them in some olive oil, salt, and chopped rosemary (or whatever herb/spice you have around).
  3. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes, until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. (You should be able to stick a fork straight in with no trouble.)
  4. Serve hot.
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