Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fostering Picasso

My Dad got this easel for Max for his 6th birthday in February. Best present ever! One thing I really love about it is that it isn't ugly. No bold, primary colored paint pots. Just plain jane. Which is great when you don't want some giant eyesore in your kitchen. It has a dry erase board, chalkboard, and a paper roll for coloring.
Here is Miles demonstrating his new found writing skills.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tames my Mane

I think this may truly be the best hair product I have ever used. And you can get it at Target!

The Notebook

Ever since my days at Kate's Paperie, Miquelrius notebooks have been a constant favorite. I was lucky to find a local, small grocery store that actually carries them. But, in order to get the exact one I want, I usually have to order them online.
I have never been a *daily planner* kind of person. I need less structure. I need open pages for my thoughts, calendar, lists, plans, and doodles to unfold naturally.
The notebooks have amazing paper quality & come with lined or graphed pages. I like the graph paper for when I want to be super neat. Like, now, as I am sketching out our garden plans....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Measure your Eco- footprint here...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Braised Baby Artichokes

DH does not care for artichokes.  Not unless they are smothered in olive oil, garlic, and breadcrumbs - like his mother makes. Which of course I love as well. But I also love them as plain as can be.
I credit my Dad with developing my taste for artichokes. Growing up he made them for us frequently. My siblings and I would fight over who got the heart of my Dad's artichoke, after we had already eaten our own.
I love this recipe. I've been using it for years and can't remember where I found it. I think it's a modified version of something I found on a package of baby artichokes. It is so wonderful freshly prepared and hot. But it's equally delicious as a leftover on salads, in a frittata, on a pizza, or just eaten cold out of the fridge. I may be alone in loving it...so beware. This is not marinated artichokes from a can, or artichokes dipped in melted butter. It is artichokes in their pure state.

First you need about a dozen fresh baby artichokes.

Cut off the stem and peel away the dark green outer leaves until only the light green center leaves are left.

Then slice off the top.

Squeeze the juice of a lemon into a bowl and fill with water.

Quarter the artichoke hearts and soak in the lemon water. This prevents them from getting too brown.

Next...peel about 4 shallots,

and thinly slice them.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, over medium high heat. Drain the artichokes and add them to the pan, along with the shallots.

Saute until golden brown.

Add 1 cup of Chicken Broth,

and a 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil and marjoram.

Bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes.

This is what you get.
Research shows that many bitter foods prevent disease, even cancer...so, eat up!

Braised Baby Artichokes

Serves 4

8-12 baby artichokes
1 lemon
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Trim artichokes (cut off stem, start removing leaves until there is just the yellow choke) & quarter them. Put in a bowl of water with the juice of one lemon squeezed in. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Saute onions, garlic & artichokes in oil until golden.
Add broth & spices, bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low & simmer 15-20 minutes, or until tender.
Click here for the printable recipe.

A Bitter Taste

On one of our many trips to Maine over the past 8 years, I discovered *Moxie* soda. It's a bitter soda with a taste that some people might consider unpleasant. DH ordered one at our favorite roadside hot dog stand, Flo's. I loved it instantly.

Recently I have become aware of the fact that I love bitter foods.... and therefore reminded of the Angostura Bitters meets Root Beer romance that is Moxie.

In fact there are many foods which I revere that would be considered bitter.
Grapefruit, strong Coffee, Coffee Ice Cream, dark Chocolate, pretty much any vegetable in the Brassicaceae family...Arugula, Broccoli Rabe (Rapini), Cauliflower, Turnips...also Tonic Water, Endive, Dandelion, Radicchio and Artichokes....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Bro...

...is having a son.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Knock Knock

I will admit that I have a slightly chronic obsession with list making.

When I first discovered the company, Knock Knock, I felt as if they were designing all of their products specifically with me in mind.

I'm sure many people have seen drips & drabs of their stuff around the way. But, to fully indulge you must visit their website...

Hooter Hider

My sister, Lauren, asked me a couple of days ago to recommend a great New Mom/Baby gift for a friend. If I was to get someone something, this is definitely what I would choose.

I cannot take credit for discovering this excellent find. In fact, I don't even own one. No nursing babies here.

I discovered them from my friend, Sooz, who uses hers all the time. And I think it's the greatest thing. Not only does it provide coverage for the modest Mom~they also come in a bunch of beautiful prints.

With 2 years of breastfeeding under my belt, I could have really used one. If only....

Monday, April 14, 2008

Making Tarts

I really wish I knew that this handy tool existed back in February.
I made 200 mini corn cups to fill with bbq'd pulled pork for a party I was catering. They were so delish! But, the labor involved was ridiculous. I formed a little ball of dough up into the edges of a mini muffin cup, one by one, for hours.
Last week I discovered that something called a *tart tamper* could have skimmed hours off that mind-numbing task.
I needed to make about 4 dozen mini tart shells for another bridal shower I was catering this weekend. I had a lot of work to do, so Max took over the task. He did a smashing job...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spider Strainer

An essential tool no kitchen should be without.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Chicken Soup

This is the one meal my kids jump up & down yelling *Woo-Hoo* for. The key is making your own chicken stock from scratch. The canned stuff just isn't the same.

Max was home sick today & this was the perfect fix...

First, you need 2- 4lb. chickens & a big pot. If handling a dead bird makes you cringe.
Then, this isn't the recipe for you. You'll have to pop open a can of Campbell's instead.

Add some quartered, unpeeled onions,

a few teaspoons of whole peppercorns,

some fresh parsley,

a few stalks of celery,

a couple of carrots & parsnips, unpeeled,

a bunch of fresh thyme,

a tablespoon of Kosher salt,

and a whole head of garlic, unpeeled. (didn't have one for the photo)

Fill the pot with water & bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered for 1 hr

Then remove the chickens & place in a big bowl to cool down enough to handle. You can turn the stock off while you are waiting.

Once the chicken is cool, use your hands, or tongs, to take the breast meat off, shred it & reserve in a bowl for later & put the rest of the bird back in the pot...bones, skin & all. Bring it back to a boil & simmer uncovered for 3 more hrs.

This is a long process. But, you will get a lot of stock & many meals from it! After the 3 hrs. strain the stock through a colander & discard all of the solids. Let it cool for awhile.

At this point you need to skim the fat off. The easiest way is to let it cool down. The fat solidifies on the surface & can be easily skimmed off. If pressed for time you can use one of those gravy separator things & just separate the fat from the stock in batches. The fat can be discarded, or reserved for making matzo balls....a whole 'nother delicious story.

Depending on how big of a pot you used, you should get about 3 qts of stock. It is very concentrated & has a ton of flavor. When cooled it solidifies into gelatin...Don't be nervous when you see your leftover chicken soup in the fridge looks like jello. It will liquefy again once heated.

For making the actual chicken soup, the stock needs to be diluted. So, put a quart of it back in a pot for dinner, add a quart of water & freeze the rest in separate containers. I use pint sized ones for easy lunches, or quarts for a couple more dinners. Just mix the frozen stock with an equal part water when you use it again.

So, now you've got 2 qts of liquid in the pot again. Bring this to a boil & add 2 cups egg noodles, 2 stalks of celery (chopped), and 3 carrots (chopped). Simmer for 10 min. Add your reserved chicken from earlier....along with 1/4 cup of minced fresh parsley. Season with salt & pepper.
Serve with crusty bread, buttermilk biscuits, dumplings, or matzo balls.

Next time you use the stock, you won't have the chicken breast meat you did this time. So, just roast 1 whole chicken breast, bone-in, skin-on. Rub it with olive oil, salt & pepper. Cook at 350 for 35-40 min. Shred meat off bone & proceed from there. OR, just use a store bought chicken, or leftovers.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Adult Gummi Vitamins

How brizilliant.
I love these! It makes taking my daily so much more enjoyable.

Steals my Heart


These bags are the best. I am perpetually forgetting to bring my reusable bags with me to the supermarket. But, with these, I never forget. The bags roll up & fit into a carrying case. The case fits easily in my purse, or glove compartment.
The down side is that you have to roll them back up to put them away. A task my DH finds annoying. But, to me it's a small price to pay.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


It may seem strange. But, I am obsessed with this product. I love lettuce....almost as much as parsley. But, I hate washing it. And I hate that it goes limp & soggy within days of washing it.

This lettuce can be ripped up & tossed in a bowl for salad. And can also be used whole on your favorite sandwich.
(like the turkey sandwich I eat every day for lunch.)

It lasts about 2 1/2+ weeks in the fridge....no joke. It is washed already too.
I just love this.

The only place I can buy it is Walter Stewarts Market. Whoever is in charge over there is pretty smart :)

Best Mommy Present

Anyone who loves jammies should buy these. Get the robe too. Actually, if you can only get one thing....get the robe first. Lovin' it.

Yummy Salad

This salad is so yummy & so easy.

You need:
1 head of Red Leaf lettuce
2 oranges
half of a Red onion, or more if you like
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

chop the lettuce.
cut the skin & pith off the orange & slice in rings.
thinly slice the onion
Toss with the oil, vinegar, salt & pepper.

Pastry Platter

I made this dessert platter for a Bridal Shower this weekend. Making desserts is my favorite thing.
It was my first time making some of the items & I think they came out pretty tasty.