things i’m loving lately {december 2014}

Posted: December 16th, 2014

We went to Franklin, Tennessee this weekend to visit Gerrit’s brother and sister-in-law and go to the Dickens Christmas Festival.  I had full intentions of posting about it today, but realized this morning that I had approximately zero good pictures and really not much to say about it (in summary: pros: cool concept, great place to do some Christmas shopping if I hadn’t already done most of mine; cons: over crowded).  So this is what you’re getting instead (10 things because I have to have a nice round number).

paper source calendar

{1} My new calendar from Paper Source.  I used to love my Erin Condren planner, but at this stage in my life a planner that I carry around with me doesn’t work.  I’ve been using my Google Calendar (which I’ve used for years) paired with Google Keep, but I still wanted something physical to reference.  My Paper Source calendar is so pretty hung up in my kitchen and gives me an easy quick glance of the major things going on each week.

{2} Wrapping Christmas gifts.  This is really my favorite thing to do every year.  I love the mystery of boxes under the tree.

{3} Peanut butter balls.  This is the one absolute must for us as far as Christmas treats go every year.  (Also happening this year though are chocolate snowflake cookies.)

{4} Evelyn’s smiles and laughs.  They are THE BEST.  Her smiles when I get her out of the crib every morning make me so happy, and she’s starting to giggle and it is the cutest thing ever.

{5} Having a dryer that works.  Our dryer has been horrendous.  Like running the clothes 3 times and them still not being dry kind of horrendous.  Gerrit bought this dryer vent cleaner and spent two afternoons up in our attic and in our laundry room getting it all cleaned out (I have a suspicion it has not been cleaned since the house was built).  And suddenly our dryer is AMAZING.  Like the clothes are dry before the cycle is even done amazing.  Life. Changing.

{6} Evelyn’s earlier bedtime.  Evelyn has started going to bed around 7:45 or 8:00, which gives me some time to enjoy my evening.  I’m also loving how well she’s sleeping at night (knock on wood).  (Related: a thing I am NOT loving lately: Evelyn’s horrendous daytime napping.)

hot chocolate and a fire in the fireplace

{7} Hot Chocolate.  No explanation needed.

{8} Fires in our fireplace.  Again, explanation not necessary.  (But I love our gas logs and that we can turn it on anytime we want.  As a girl who grew up with a wood burning fireplace I never thought I’d say that…but it’s true.)

{9} Roasted Red Pepper Pasta.  This is still one of my favorite weeknight pasta dishes.  It hits the spot every time.  And if I’m making it for just the two of us, there’s enough sauce to go in the freezer for another busier night.

{10} Yoga.  I love it so much and have since high school, but I have a new appreciation for it having practiced during pregnancy and as some of my first postpartum workouts.  I’ve decided that at least one vinyasa flow and a some breath cycles in downward facing dog a day is good for my life balance even if I don’t have time to do the full amount of yoga that I want.

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roasted root vegetable pot pie

Posted: December 12th, 2014

roasted root vegetable pot pie

Pot pie is one of those things I used to refuse to touch with a 10 foot pole.  There were lots of good legitimate reasons: onions and green peas being chief among them.  Also, it just seemed too mysterious–I never felt sure of what I was getting because it was all masked by the creamy filling and made me uneasy.  I couldn’t dependably pick out just the chicken from a chicken pot pie.

But the great thing about pot pie that I have discovered as an adult is that I can put whatever I want to (or don’t want to) in it.  So, no onions and peas here!  But lots of mushrooms and potatoes!  This pot pie focuses on hearty winter root vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips.  Also, mushrooms.  They are roasted and then added to a creamy roux and baked under a cornmeal crust.
roasted root vegetable pot pie
The honest truth about this one is that I was a a little uncertain about the parsnips.  Even when they came out of the oven roasted they still tasted a little strange to me: a little more acidic than I expected.  But really, they are delicious in here, because once everything is added together to the sauce, the flavors balance perfectly.  (The same is true for the sweet potatoes, which sometimes I can find a little off putting in dishes…but not here at all).
So bottom line about pot pies: I’m not sure I’ll be going near any old pot pie on a regular basis from here on out, but it’s nice to know that I can make one that I like.
roasted root vegetable pot pie
roasted root vegetable pot pie

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Serves 4

I know this recipe is a little fussy, but I promise it is worth it. I wouldn't have made it twice with a 4 month old baby if it wasn't. Feel free to change the vegetables to suit your preferences; that's the beauty of this recipe.

Ingredients

  • For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 8 small new potatoes, medium dice
  • 1 small to medium sweet potato, peeled and medium dice
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and medium dice
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, warmed
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and chopped (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1/2 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped (or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Begin by making the crust. Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar in a small bowl and stir together. Add the butter and use a pastry blender or a fork to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles course crumbs.
  2. In another small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of water. Add to the flour mixture and stir together until it begins to form a dough. If the mixture is too dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it just slightly, until it comes together. Then wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the new potatoes, sweet potato, parsnips, and mushrooms in one big pile on the baking sheet. Add the vegetable oil along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and use your hands to toss it all together. Then spread the vegetables out in an even layer and roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, just until they are beginning to turn golden brown.
  6. In a medium sized sauce pan oven medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter is melted, add the flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Then slowly add the broth, whisking constantly, and cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  7. Stir in the thyme, rosemary, and vinegar. Then add the roasted vegetables and gently stir until all the vegetables are coated.
  8. Ladle the filling evenly into 4 (7 to 8 oz.) ramekins.
  9. Take the crust dough out of the fridge and put it on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out into one big disc, and, using a ramekin as a guide, cut crust tops that are slightly larger than each ramekin.
  10. Wet the rim of each ramekin with a bit of water, and then lay the crust over the top. Poke several holes in the top of the crust.
  11. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Notes

adapted from Damaris Phillips

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chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake

Posted: December 8th, 2014

chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake

Every so often, as happened last week, I am in public with new people when it comes up that I have a food blog.  And then I am left to explain it, because while this may be your pretty standard food blog (with some posts about life and books I love thrown in for good measure), the title can imply a lot.  The truth is, I’m pretty proud of the fact that this is a pretty standard food blog and that if you threw a different title on top people might not notice the lack of things like tomatoes and onions and fruit in what I cook.

But the point remains that this is a blog about picky eating, and while I may not be as picky as I once was, there are still plenty of food hang ups that remain (some of which I feel sure I will never ever get over).

chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, too, because I have a child that is going to eat real food soon, and as a result I hope that I can be some help in that department.  All the time I hear stories from other moms about how picky their children are, and all I feel like I can offer right now is to tell them that there is hope because I was once the pickiest eater in the world! and my mom joked about not wanting to come eat at my house because she would only be served peanut butter and jelly! and now I have a food blog!

I’m sure I will have more to say on this subject in the coming months and years.  I of course don’t want Evelyn to be an extremely picky eater (although I’m half expecting it because karma. also genetics re: taste buds.), but I am excited to talk about her food experiences once we start her on solids here in a couple months.

But in the meantime you are just stuck with me, and my relative non-pickyness.  And today you are stuck with coffee cake.  And in the spirit of this being a blog about picky eating, I will tell you that when I was younger I used to claim to not like coffee cake because I was sure that it had coffee in it.  I mean, why else would it be called coffee cake?  I actually think my first experience with coffee cake might have been a coffee flavored one.  But I was so pleased to find out that this is not that case and that really coffee cake is just regular cake that you get to eat for breakfast.  And when it is studded with chocolate and cinnamon sugar there is no way that you could argue against it.

chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake

chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: serves 10-12

I love a good coffee cake for breakfast, and you can't go wrong when it involves cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips. I suspect this might the the perfect thing for any upcoming holiday brunches.

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (16 oz.) sour cream
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • For the filling/topping:
  • 2 cups (10-12 oz.) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, using the same electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Then beat in the egg yolks and the vanilla.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. (A note here--I din't sift mine and it turned out fine.) Alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream to butter mixture in batches, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing after each addition. (Another note--I dumped all of mine in at once and it turned out fine.) Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl and make sure that all ingredients are mixed together.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon for the filling/topping.
  7. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of the prepared dish. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture and 1 cup of the chocolate chips evenly over the top. Then dollop spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the top. Use a rubber spatula and do our best to spread it out evenly. Then sprinkle the remaining sugar, followed by the remaining chocolate chips, over the top. Press the chocolate chips down just a bit with your fingertips so that they adhere to the batter.
  8. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (save some melted chocolate). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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post thanksgiving thoughts

Posted: December 1st, 2014

thanksgiving

I’ve been dealing with a small amount of anxiety lately, or as I like to say, anxiety issues.  Gerrit says that I have anxiety (not anxiety issues) and I’m just really good at dealing with it and going about daily life usually.  But recently it has felt a little bit more prominent, and I am 100% sure that this has to do with the fact that I am now a mother.  (There is always something to be afraid of if you let it creep up into you.)

Every year I feel like I am more thankful for Thanksgiving.  And this year I am thankful for it because it helped me breathe again.  I went a good four or five days not feeling anxious about anything (except Atlanta traffic), and I think I needed that reminder of what it feels like to be normal so that I can keep carrying it with me.

thanksgiving

I’m reading a really random book right now called The Archaeology of Home.  I’ll be honest and tell you that it is not the most riveting read, but I am in the mood for it right now and I keep turning the pages finding the history fascinating.  It is all about home, about the people who have come before us in the places where we live (and in the case of this book, New York City).  It felt like an appropriate thing to be reading during the Thanksgiving season, reminding me of family and generations and the large scope of history and life.

One of the sweetest moments of the whole Thanksgiving week was watching Gerrit’s grandmother play with Evelyn.  Gerrit’s mom asked her, “Did you ever picture yourself as a great-grandmother?”  And after some thought she said, “You know, I never really did.”  But she is just delighted with her great-granddaughter.

There are so many people who have come before us and so many people who will come after us.  And all with have stories, some bad, but I’d like to think that they are mostly good, and I am thankful for Thanksgiving reminding me of that this week.

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thanksgiving favorites

Posted: November 25th, 2014

thanksgiving favorites

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what to make for Thanksgiving.  But just in case you’re searching for that last minute recipe, here are a few of my favorites.  I know, they are mostly sweets.  But if I’m honest, the only thing that really matters to me is pecan pie.

For breakfast:

Oatmeal Breakfast Bread–you can make this ahead of time and freeze it.  That’s what I did this weekend and it’s going with us to Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins–does this really need an explanation?  Again though, the freezer can be your friend so that you’re not adding one more thing to your already busy kitchen on Thanksgiving day.

Some side dishes:

Pillows from Heaven (Yeast Rolls)–these rolls, a family recipe from Gerrit’s aunt, are an absolute must at our Thanksgiving.

Sour Cream Pocketbook Rolls–another favorite Thanksgiving roll.  (How many times can I say remember to utilize your freezer?)

Farro with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms–classic fall flavors.  I’ve never actually made this for Thanksgiving, but I think it would go nicely.  (Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a freezer shortcut here.  It’s best fresh.)

Celery Root and Potato Puree--a twist on the classic mashed potatoes.

Cauliflower Gratin with Roasted Chestnuts–I made this last year, and I’m not trying to brag but I’m pretty sure it was the star of the table.  Put it all together the day before (minus the breadcrumbs), refrigerate it, and then top it with the breadcrumbs and bake it on Thanksgiving morning.

For your dessert table:

Pumpkin Pie Bars–a slight twist on pumpkin pie (but not so different that you miss having pie).

Sugar Topped Molasses Spice Cookies–perfect for Thanksgiving dessert or Thanksgiving Day snacking.  These are addictive.

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars–these are just pure gooey goodness.

Pecan Pie–this is the the single most important food item for me at Thanksgiving.  (My taste buds have come a long way).  And my family’s recipe is the best there is.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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