Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bozo Pic of the Week...

Even though both my guys play hockey, this post is dedicated to my big guy.  He plays on two teams - the main one, a travel team as a goaltender.  The second team - a house league as a forward, so that he has an opportunity to "skate out".  Otherwise his skating skills would most likely suffer from all the time he spends in the net.
This weekend the travel team is making their longest trek of the year for a tournament up in Lake Placid, New York...a six hour drive from our home made easier with this new purchase!  It's a three day tournament that ends with gold/silver medal and bronze medal games this Sunday.  We went up this same exact time last year and came home with bronze.  This year, however, it's looking like we'll be facing even steeper competition than we did last year.  As a goaltenders mother, it's a nerve-wracking 3 days - mixed in with lots of good family fun of course! 
In an effort to get us all pumped up for the challenge ahead I'm posting these pics of my goalie in action at a recent game at Yale University in New Haven, CT {home of the Yale Bulldogs!}.  Yes, we love hockey!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm about out the door to go drive with the family to my brother-in-law's house for an undoubtedly delicious and abundant feast.  Everyone participates by bringing various appetizers, side dishes and desserts.  He does the foundation of the meal - the turkey, gravy and stuffing.  These crudités and homemade ranch dip are one of my contributions and the only one finished in time to capture a picture.  It's something I bring nearly any time I'm asked to bring an appetizer and really nothing ever changes about it.  As a kid the seat next to the crudité platter was my favorite spot in the house - and my kids are the same way.  I love bringing raw vegetables to snack on because more often than not it's the only healthy thing the kids will ingest on Thanksgiving.  Green beans? Cooked carrots?  Nope.  Their plates will consist of white meat turkey {with maybe gravy}, sometimes mashed potatoes or stuffing {depending on the kid} and a dinner roll.  This platter of veggies makes me feel better about the "white" meal they will no doubt be eating for dinner tonight.
While I've been cooking, our morning has been spent watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, listening to Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" {a diehard tradition} and playing with our new kitty.  I've also been reading and listening to all the poems, stories and songs my guys brought home from school this week...listening to what their grateful for and thinking about all the things I'm blessed with.  Most of you are busy today, but I would love to hear what you're doing for the Holiday, what you're cooking, or what you're looking most forward to eating?  Most of all - I'd like to wish you all a wonderful, joyous Thanksgiving!  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Endive & Clementine Salad

I recently picked up the special Holiday edition of Gourmet magazine and within it's pages I found this salad.  A very unusual and unexpectedly delicious salad.  I say unexpectedly because a glance at the ingredients list doesn't turn up the usual suspects when it comes to salad fixings.  Clementines, olives, Belgian endive?  Yes, that's normal.  Whole celery and parsley leaves?  Not all that common, but not completely unheard of.  Cocktail onions?  Ummmm.  You mean those little onions you find in martinis?  Never in my life have I seen them used in food.  Is a martini considered food?
All of this weirdness aside, I love cocktail onions!  I mean, really love them.  I went through a martini phase - many years ago - pre-children years ago - and I would always order my drink with extra onions.  By extra, I mean like eight.  Yes - bartenders looked at me like I was nuts, but I love vodka soaked cocktail onions even more than I like them plain.
So, needless to say, when I saw this salad I knew it would be made.  The headnote for the recipe says it's a combination of sweet, salty, bitter, tangy and sour...basically flavor fireworks.  It also seemed like a great salad to serve over the Holidays when meals are typically heavy and rich. 
All of the elements of this salad can be prepared several hours before you plan to serve it, making it an ideal choice for entertaining.  If needed, you can use regular oranges - or in a pinch even canned mandarin oranges.  But if possible I recommend using clementines.  They are in season and abundant this time of year and they do have a very distinctive flavor which works particularly well here.
The individual segments of fruit need to be removed from the clementines.  If you're not familiar with how to supreme an orange {or any citrus fruit}, I've included the steps in the photo above.  First - to make your life easier, slice the top and bottom sections of peel off the clementine.  This makes it possible for it to sit flat on a cutting board.  Second - slice the peel and pith off the fruit with a sharp paring knife by following the contour of the fruit {if you see that you've missed some spots at the bottom when you flip it over simply trim those off as well}. 
Third - cut out the segments from between each membrane while holding the fruit over a bowl to catch the juices that drip out {even if the recipe you're using doesn't call for using the juice, use it for another purpose - such as flavoring water}.  Fourth - Drop the removed segments into the bowl your working over and you're done! 
I decided to add the accumulated juices to the dressing because I thought using the full amount of red wine vinegar called for in the original recipe would be too much.  I'm not a 2:1 {oil:vinegar} ratio kind of person - I find dressings made this way to be too overwhelmingly acidic.  I thought cutting the vinegar with some clementine juice would sweeten it a bit more and help balance out all the bitter and sour flavors in the salad.  I thought it worked out very well!
As a final note - Belgian endive is one of those vegetables that browns very quickly after being cut.  To prevent this I recommend slicing it right before assembling the salad.  Everything else can be prepped ahead of time.
More Salad Ideas: Fennel & Orange Salad | Green Bean Salad with Arugula, Tomatoes & Basil Dressing | Edamame & Fennel Salad

Endive & Clementine Salad

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine | Holiday
Serve 8

8 clementines
6 medium Belgian endives
6 inner stalks of celery, with leaves
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted & quartered
2/3 cup drained cocktail onions, quartered
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.  Supreme the clementines: Slice the tops and bottoms off each clementine {so they will rest flat on a cutting surface}.  Using a sharp paring knife slice off peel and pith by following the outside contour of the fruit.  Working over a bowl to catch the juices, cut fruit segments out from between the membranes.  Add segments to the bowl and set aside.
2.  Remove the outermost leaves from the endive and slice in half lengthwise.  Cut out and discard the core; slice the leaves diagonally into 1/2" wide strips and add to a mixing bowl.  Separate the leaves from the celery stalks; slice the ribs diagonally into thin strips.  Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.  Add the sliced celery and leaves to the bowl of endive, along with the olives, cocktail onions and parsley leaves.  Add the clementine segments, reserving a tablespoon of accumulated juice for the dressing.
3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sugar and a tablespoon of clementine juice until emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add some of the dressing to the salad and toss gently, adding in more as necessary, until desired taste is achieved. 
To Make Ahead:  All of the salad ingredients {except the endive} and salad dressing, can be prepared several hours ahead of time and stored in separate airtight containers, or plastic bags.  Belgian endive browns very quickly after being cut.  I recommend slicing it right before assembling the salad.  

Click here for the printable recipe

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Weekend //

I neglected to get last week's link love post up by the weekend.  I was busy working on other projects, getting ready for the upcoming holiday and battling a very bad chest cold, complete with the worst case of laryngitis I've ever had. I'm still sick but well enough to get back to work - and I really have no choice as DH is away on a business trip and Thanksgiving is a day away!
I also won't be posting any link lovin' this Friday either as it's the "day after" and I'm pretty sure I'll be in a deep food indulgence coma...along with most of you out there.  Plus, will anyone really want to look at food that day?  I didn't think so.
Instead of skipping the posts all together, I am combining both weeks - in a double food blog link love whammy!  This edition is - like last week's - Thanksgiving food centric.  Hopefully it will provide anyone out there needing last minute recipe inspiration some assistance.

There are loads of great Thanksgiving Food Guides out there right now.  Some of my favorites are provided by Saveur magazine, Epicurious, and Bon Appétit.

I also love some of the round-ups on fellow food blogs - such as The Bitten Word and How Sweet it Is.  The food website Food52 also just released their Holiday Recipe & Survival Guide iPad app - which looks very handy!

The website Pasplore has an amazing Thanksgiving mosaic with over 750 recipe ideas - including several from The Parsley Thief! [You can use the "search" bar to find them]

This Chocolate Chess Pie from Merry Gourmet looks so rich and creamy...and delicious!

My sister loves Green Bean Casserole.  When I saw this post from The Bitten Word I meant to forward it on to her, but never got to it.  Here you go Em!

Taking a classic Thanksgiving casserole and rolling it out into a Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Biscuit?  From Smitten Kitchen, of course!

For the jellied cranberry sauce in a can lovers out there who wish they could make their own at home, without all the added junk - check out this "Canned" Cranberry Sauce from Food in Jars.

I'm a huge fan of brussels sprouts and fennel - so this Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cream & Aleppo Pepper from Healthy Green Kitchen sounds amazing to me!

Finally - if you're looking for some Thanksgiving recipes here you can check out last year's round-up, or find links to several of my seasonal favorites in the side column under the header "Thanksgiving Recipes"

Happy Cooking!!

{photo: finding Danish butter cookies at Whole Foods recently took me back to my childhood - my grandmother used to buy these all the time and I would enjoy them with her after school while we drank tea.  Miss you every day Grandma}

Saturday, November 19, 2011

{Sponsor Love} Orange & Pear

As a special Thank You to the lovely sponsors of The Parsley Thief - I will from time to time be spotlighting who they are and what their businesses' are all about - as a way of introducing them to you.  It felt only natural to feature the wonderful gift website Orange & Pear and the talented woman who operates it first. 
The owner, Jennifer Hassell and I have known each other since our kids were in Kindergarten fact, her older daughter was my younger son's first "girlfriend" [whatever that is at age 6!].  But we didn't really have an opportunity to get to know each other until we worked our school's Bake Sale together a year later.  During that few hour shift we learned that we both ran a business out of our home while raising a family and that we both loved art, design and food.  I was super impressed when I learned that she owned Orange & Pear.  
I had a slight knowledge of the site from clicking around the Internet, a gift guide here or a inspiration board there lead me down the path to finding it.  But I had no idea that it was run by someone right in my own town - much less by a mom in my son's class!   It was a happy coincidence and since then I have grown to love her site more and more.  The layout and design are gorgeous and her taste in the products she chooses is superb.  I really appreciate Jennifer taking the time out of her busy life to answer a few questions for me and to do so with such candor and authenticity.  I hope you enjoy reading a bit more about her as much as I did!

Company Name: Orange & Pear
Location: Rowayton, CT

You know I love your site - but for those who are not familiar with your business can you tell us what Orange & Pear is all about?
We sell gifts in the categories of Home Decor, Bath and Body, Paper Goods, Handbags, Accessories and Jewlery.  We search for beautifully designed items that are not found everywhere, that you'd be proud to give.  We love items made in America, by artisans and items that "tell a story".

What's the significance or inspiration behind the name "Orange & Pear"? 
The name was inspired by a still life done by my Grandfather.  It's hanging in our hallway and features an orange and a pear in it.  We thought the colors were fun, the name - easy to remember and we like that it was in deference to my Grandfather who I loved dearly.

Where did the idea of starting an online gift store come from?  What inspired you to choose this market in particular?
I was lucky to be brought up by a family of artists!  My grandfather, my grandmother, my mom, my dad and my brother were and still are amazing artists.  Sadly, I never really was able to perfect any fine arts skills but I do have an appreciation for it!  I guess I've had "an eye" for beautifully designed gifty type things over the years.  I have a binder of magazine tears that I started 10 or so years ago.

What have some of your past occupations been?  Anything in particular that lead you down the path to starting your own company?
I started at Saks Fifth Avenue right out of college, in the merchandising/buying program and worked there for 7 years with a 1 year stint at J. Crew.  After Saks, I went to Ann Taylor and then to a semi large specialty store in CT, close to my home.  So, I've been in retail my whole career but never in e-commerce, so creating and managing this website has been a learning process [with the help of my husband who runs about a dozen websites].  I love the buying and creative aspect of the business but I've also really enjoyed learning a whole new industry.  It's been a ton of work but also a lot of fun and all in all very invigorating!

left to right: 1.jonathan adler hollywood plate  2.john derian porcupine tray  3.john derian peacock pencil tray  4.jonathan adler hollywood highball glass

How would you define your own personal style and how does that translate into the products you choose?
We live in a 90 year old home, so I've always loved antique, vintage and "romantic" decor but I also adore bright and bold colors, retro glam and modern clean lines.  I do believe that often these two aesthetics can live harmoniously together!  For instance I love the quirky, old world look of John Derian and the quirky, whimsical feeling of Jonathan Alder.  I feel very strongly about finding things that are beautifully designed [well-priced] that are beautifully presented.  I've really enjoyed getting to know my designers and artisans and learning the story behind their work.  I have met some amazingly talented people in the process of searching for great items and I do hope that my customers appreciate that. 

I know first hand that running a business while raising a family is no easy task.  What does your life outside of Orange & Pear look like and how do you manage to juggle it all?
I have two amazing little girls - a 7 year old and a [just turned] 6 year old.  I love the fact that I can work from home and still be there to pick them up from school, see their teachers, meet their friends and attend some field trips or school events.  I do have this terrible habit of trying to squeeze in work for the business all the time!  When you have a small business - it's very hard to get away from it like a corporate job that you can actually leave at the end of the day.  But I do my best and my girls are used to seeing me on the computer and coming with me to the UPS hub or Post Office.  The UPS man is almost a part of our family!  But I still do a lot with them and I've caught them telling friends or strangers about my business, so even though I'm not sitting on the floor playing Barbies with them every afternoon, they are pleasantly proud of what I do and that means a lot to me.  I'm about 90% off the business on the weekends.
I do love to cook and find it calming at the end of a stressful day [I listen to NPR at the same time].  I bought this Tivoli radio about 5 years ago and I can't live without it!  It's my connection to the world.  I don't have time to read the paper during the week so NPR is my daily news.  My girls are thankfully great eaters and good about trying new foods.  I do cook differently for them then I do for my husband because in the summer I do a lot of vegetable dishes and fish.  In the fall, I move to soups, stews and casseroles and they love to eat that so we have more dinners together in the fall.

above: tivoli audio model one radio

When you have some time to yourself, what's your favorite way to spend it?
I try very hard to work out 4 times a week but it's so difficult to fit it in especially since my kids school starts late [9:20].  I do exercise classes of all kinds, spinning and I do love yoga.  I also try to walk when I can with friends.  I don't watch a ton of television because I work almost every night.  But my favorites are Glee, Gossip Girl and Downton Abbey.  I'm really looking forward to seeing Downton Abbey's next season in January.  I borrowed the first season from the library and watched it in 3 days!  It was crazy - one night I watched 3 episodes back-to-back.  It's a great show- like a drug for me!  I've always loved period movies and the actors and costumes and sets in this show are incredible.  And Maggie Smith is laugh out loud funny!  I love to read and I read a book a month for my book club.  I just finished The Art of Racing in the Rain which is amazing and before that Ruth Riechl's Comfort Me with Apples - terrific.  I also read a ton of magazines [for inspiration]!  On Saturday's, we often do "movie night" or "game night" with the kids.

My final question to Jennifer was to ask her what gifts from her store she would like to give or receive this Holiday, or what in her determination were some "must have" products this year.  
In response, she shared with me some wonderful gift guides she's created for her Orange & Pear customers and her blog [which is a great read by the way!].  I thought I would share a few collections from her guides below to help inspire your gift giving this year! 
With the Holidays coming up shortly and Small Business Saturday coming up even sooner [November 26th] - I hope you'll patronize companies like Orange & Pear who not only have perfect gifts for just about anyone on your list - but who's success in turn helps support other small business owners, designers and artisans.  Personally - It's a cycle I desire to encourage.
As a special treat to my readers Orange & Pear is offering up a generous 15% off discount now through December 15th, 2011!  Simply enter the coupon code "parsley" when checking out.  Enjoy!

for Baby: 1.rikshaw design seahorse burp & bib set  2.egg by susan lazar cable hat & booties set  3.admiral road penguin blanket  4.thomas paul melamine bunny set  5.manny & simon push toy tow truck  6. | jonathan adler ceramic lion nightlight

for Her: wallace allover double sided sequin angus  2.robindira unsworth gold blue quartz drop earrings  3.kate waltman smokey crystal faceted bracelet quotes linen eyelash scarf  5.nina nguyen birthstone necklace wallace paige handbag

for Him: 1.brooklyn brew shop beer making kit  2.homart cast iron crab bottle opener  3.teroforma whiskey lover set  4. | tokens and icons mlb game bat bottle opener  5.bucky balls  6.tokens and icons yankee game used baseball cufflinks  7.maptote dopp kit

for friends, hostess, or teacher: & bee bath salts  2.lollia wish shea butter handcreme  3.lucia sea watercress & chai tea soap  4.dabney lee at home everyday pad  5.snow & graham 2012 wall calendar  6.dabney lee at home cell phone case

holiday decor: 1.cody foster grey owl ornament  2. | roost natural bark filled votives  3.roost felt mistletoe  4.waylande gregory reindeer bullet bowl  5.yellow owl workshop gift tag stamp set  6.roost victorian snowflake ornaments  7.linnea's lights forest fir candle

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bread Pudding with Bourbon, Pecans & Butterscotch

When I saw this recipe in the November issue of Bon Appétit I knew I would make it.  I thought maybe as a Thanksgiving dessert.  But, it turns out I couldn't wait that long and made it the day after it arrived in my mailbox.  Of course the fact that it was a bread pudding comprised of pecans, and bourbon, and butterscotch sold me.  More than all that though, I was intriqued by the use of poppy seeds in this dessert.  Poppy seeds in bread pudding?  Well, yes...and they work.  The little bits of black splattered among all the other rich, creamy goodness add a nice crunch and texture. 

This recipe is delicious and inventive, and I wouldn't expect anything less from Anita Lo, the original recipe's author.  If you're as much of a food television addict as I am, then you may know Anita from her stints on Chopped: All-Stars, Season One of Top Chef Masters, or as a contestant in the first season of Iron Chef America, where she became the first challenger to beat an Iron Chef.  Can you tell I'm a fan?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Piper Lia

I'm a proud Auntie again! My sister gave birth to her second daughter on November 3rd at 8:56am. Congratulations to Lauren, Billy and big sister, Penny...and welcome to the world Piper!

Some Things I Just Love...

1. | pretty teacups & plates 2. | edible candy mushrooms 3. | bittersweet wreath 4. | hand crocheted wrist warmers 5. | linen hemstitched cocktail napkins 6. | turkey gravy boat 7. | pendelton wool travel throw 8. | turkey platter

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bozo Pic of the Week...

After the Halloween snowstorm fiasco and the resulting cancellation of school on the day of the spooktastic holiday, all planned classroom activities were nixed. Someone...or many someones...must have given the principal an earful because it was decided several days later that everything was back on!
So - a week ago the Bozos and all their schoolmates got their beloved Halloween parade and an opportunity to march through their school's basketball courts. Yay!
I have to say it's one of the days I most look forward to. I know I'm biased, but I think our school has some of the most creative and outrageous costumes around. I love seeing all the wee little ones dressed up in their cute princess and firemen get-ups. The older kids are usually the ones who get super imaginative. Some of my favorites this year were a candy vending machine, a boom box set to station Z100, a big bunch of purple balloon grapes, a Lego man and a takeout container of lo-mein noodles.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Weekend //

I stopped dead in my tracks when I read on someone's Facebook status earlier this week that in 7 weeks Christmas would be here.
I'm on the fence about how I feel about people who do that...alerting the public of how many days of craziness they have left. On the one hand, it sent me into a tailspin of panic. On the other, it made me realize I best be getting my act in gear - without which I may have been lollygagging around for another several weeks before I realized. As of today, there's 6 weeks and 2 days until December 25th. But, before we get to Christmas, we must get a handle on the Turkey and all the fixings.
This week's Link Love is comprised of recipes that have me thinking Thanksgiving...some sides, a dessert, a possible appetizer. All of which cried out to me - make us!

I've made a Goat Cheese Tart before...which I love. I also love blue cheese and thought cutting this Stilton Tart with Cranberry Chutney from Dana Treat, up into little bites would be a great appetizer.

I love having greens on Thanksgiving. It's a great way to break up all the rich foods typical of that day. I'm also a sucker for anything with a tahini dressing, so this recipe for Sauteed Kale with Tahini Sauce from Simply Recipes sounds perfect to me.

Another green and certainly not a common Thanksgiving side dish...yet, something I'd love to try is this recipe for Cime di Rapa Fritte {Slow-Cooked Broccoli Rabe} from Saveur.

Save room for some Butternut Squash Candy from Devil & Egg. How amazing does that sound? Wonder if my kids would believe me when I told them it was candy.

I've been dying to try this Cornbread Stuffing with Green Chiles from Bella Eats ever since I first spotted it a few months ago. And - while you're visiting be sure to check out this amazing Caramel Apple may be my most favorite food photograph ever. Unbelievable.

This Maple Walnut Custard Pie from Seven Spoons seems like a perfect way to cap off an Autumn feast.

Now tell me...are you cooking this year? What's on your menu so far?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Apple Pie

I made this pie a few weeks ago, after we went apple picking and came home with a ridiculous supply of apples. Some of them ended up in this Roasted Cardamom Applesauce. Many made their way into school lunch sacks. But, we still had about a dozen left and I really wanted to make a pie.
I've made apple pie before, but it was so long ago I have no idea what recipe I used. When looking for an apple pie fix, without as much work, I usually end up making something faster and Apple Crostata, or Apple Crisp. This time, I wanted the real thing and after some browsing around the Internet in search of a great recipe, I found this one by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Making pie crust isn't my strong suit. I mean, the process is simple enough...but, I usually encounter the typical issues, like struggling to get it rolled out evenly {and never in an actual circle!} or having the crust shrink back in the pie pan as it cooks {which I'm told is caused by stretching the dough too much}.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Weekend //

Fall Comforts
I've had Pot Roast on my mind - thinking I'd like to make one again soon and found this gem. This Pot Roast is an antique post of mine from way back in January 2009. I recently did some adjusting to the original post, because let's just say it was pretty bad. I kept the original photos, which were taken in the early evening, under poor light conditions. As much as I sometimes cringe when I look at my old posts, it's important to remember just how far I've come down this food blogging road.
The process of doing a regular Friday link love post is still under development. Not sure exactly how the regular format will go, so don't be surprised if it looks different {or is called something different} in the weeks to come. For now, please enjoy some wonderful food blog posts from around the web that inspire me to cook.
{1.} halloween candy bark | annie's eats {2.} chunky black bean soup | local kitchen {3.} green onion pancakes | delicious days {4.} beef stew with carrots & mushrooms | the kitchen sink {5.} lemony olive oil banana bread | 101 cookbooks {6.} vegetarian texas frito pie | scarletta bakes
Have a great weekend! Let me know if you whipped up something delicious!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Picking 2011

One of the best things about having a blog is that it's doubles as my personal photo album. It's hard to believe I've been at this for almost 4 years now. I love that I can look back to previous Pumpkin Picking adventures, like this one, or this one, or my favorite one, and see how young and cherub-like my guys were! Those angel days are over, but I have the memories right here.
This year's post was supposed to go up yesterday, on Halloween. But - as I mentioned, I had the Bozos home with me all day...which nipped my plans of working right in the bud.
I'm sure most of you have buried the desire to see anything having to do with Pumpkins with the stretchable spider webs, R.I.P. signs and fog machines. But, I couldn't let this year pass without another documented day at Warrup's Farm.
Some lingering consequences of Hurricane Irene two months ago and record rainfalls were very muddy fields, no corn maze [but - a meadow maze instead] and no "real" pumpkin patch this year. We still had a blast.