Isla Lorraine was born 10.08.2016, exactly 32 years after her momma weighing the very same 8 pounds and 6 ounces. She’s brought so much joy to our family already, we can’t imagine life without her. She is happy as can be, just like her brother was, but certainly asserts herself when she’s not pleased! Every time I see her look at her brother her face lights up and she gives him the biggest smiles and his sweet voice telling her ” hi baby!”, ” it’s okay baby Isla, sh shh” and ” I lub you” my heart explodes. She’s the perfect addition to our foodie family.
Mussels are SO affordable ($5-6/ pound), incredibly easy to make and SO delicious. Serve with really good french bread and some wine and it’s a whole meal. We follow the butter, garlic, shallot, wine, parsley and cream preparation and it’s delectable every. single. time.
Classic French Mussels Recipe, serves 2 as a meal, 4 as an app
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 pounds mussels, cleaned
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher salt, pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add wine, and allow 2-3 minutes to cook out alcohol, Then toss in you cleaned mussels, cream, remaining butter, and parsley and season well with salt and pepper. Give it a good stir, cover the pot, and cook until mussels open and are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Divide the mussels and the juices between 2 bowls and serve with the crusty bread.
Our little man is obsessed with hummus, yes- it is easy to make hummus, but it was slightly easier to just buy a container at the store. It tastes SO gross on it’s own to us, but Knox just pounds it straight by the spoonful. I started feeling like it’d be so much better and smarter to make this fresh for him, especially after the Listeria scare with Sabra hummus. Using my sister’s recipe and an Ina Garten recipe, I combined the best of both and edited to our tastes to make The BEST Creamiest Hummus- with no oil. Knox Approved and Parent Tested!!
Makes 3 cups of Hummus
In a non stick pan over medium/ low heat, add the butter, once melted slowly sauté the onion and garlic in the pan until caramelized.
Set up the food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sauteed onion and garlic mixture and puree till mostly smooth. Add in the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is smooth and creamy. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature.
When you want to stay home, nice and warm, but still have a fun “Date Night”- throw a pizza party! Finding the silver lining of all this cold weather, for us, has been to make staying in fun, stay home, relaxed and cozy cozy. Making an active dinner is a way to have FUN date, and you don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money at all, even wear your pj’s. We had store bought pizza dough from Trader Joe’s, they’re pizza sauce too, mozzarella, black olives, artichokes.. use what you have- chop it up and roll out some dough. I call this active cooking because you are eating while you cook the next little pizza treat, drinking some beer and relaxing in the kitchen ( as opposed to sitting in front of the TV while scarfing down your meal and not talking- this happens to everyone else right?) We make super thin small pizzas and snack on them as we make them. Have some good music on- no TV, and enjoying being home! If you want to make your own dough- check a favorite recipe here
First, this happened( above) Knox is officially crawling and pulling up to stand all on his own. He wanted to help us move, you know, to our very own house ( well it’s a 2000 sq/ft condo in Chicago, but still!) We are so excited and beyond thrilled to have secured this gorgeous home in our favorite neighborhood, close to our sitter and close to work and so close to the lake/ downtown! It’s been pretty crazy, but already we know we will be getting back to our original blog posting REAL photos of food! I know it’s gotten more family and baby skewed here, but it was hard to take nice pictures in our rental. Now we have THIS gorgeous new kitchen that is connected to the living space, so we COOK MORE!! Yayayayayaya:
Whew, moving is HARD! but we’re all in
Stopping in to share a few goodies, hope you and your family are having a very Merry Christmas!
Every year, for eight years now!, we host a cookie party. Myself, my sister and my mom all plan a fabulous menu which always includes the famous Angel’s Breath Martini, a stocking stuffed with goodies to be guessed, a dirty Santa ornament exchange and of course a TO DIE FOR cookie recipe each. All the ladies that come celebrate say it’s their favorite party, we all really have a lot of fun. This year I made Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, and I have to say, they are the best cookie on earth of you are in to that whole chocolately flavor perfection with a crisp shell and soft yet chewy inside… IT’s a secret recipe from Cook’s Illustrated but I have it here for you guys! I recommend using 1 tsp of instant coffee only and parchment paper is a must. The dough needs to set for that 10 minutes and it’s very sticky- so use that scooper to plop it right into the granulated sugar and get it coated with sugar before try to form a ball. I did bake one sheet at a time ( tripled the recipe) and did NOT need to rotate my pan around…
Jason’s shot above
my iPhone shot of THREE DOZEN cookies!
MAKES 22 COOKIES
Both natural and Dutch-processed cocoa will work in this recipe. Our favorite natural cocoa is Hershey’s Natural Cocoa Unsweetened; our favorite Dutch-processed cocoa is Droste Cocoa. Our preferred unsweetened chocolate is Hershey’s Unsweetened Baking Bar.
- 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups packed (10 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1-4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.
2. Whisk brown sugar; eggs; espresso powder, if using; and vanilla together in large bowl. Combine chocolate and butter in bowl and microwave at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined. Fold in flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Let dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
4. Place granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar in separate shallow dishes. Working with 2 tablespoons dough (or use #30 scoop) at a time, roll into balls. Drop dough balls directly into granulated sugar and roll to coat. Transfer dough balls to confectioners’ sugar and roll to coat evenly. Evenly space dough balls on prepared sheets, 11 per sheet.
5. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cool completely on sheet before serving.
- cookie placement
MAXIMIZING CHOCOLATE FLAVOR
Both unsweetened bar chocolate and cocoa powder add chocolate flavor to our cookies because they contain cocoa solids, but they each have another less obvious way to boost the chocolate. Cocoa’s starch content allows us to cut back on flour, while the chocolate’s cocoa butter means we can use fewer tablespoons of dairy butter. And that translates to bigger, undiluted chocolate flavor. To amplify it further, we also add several teaspoons of espresso powder.
HOW GRANULATED SUGAR CREATES MORE CRINKLES
Most cookies have top crusts that remain relatively soft and flexible as the cookies set during baking. However, if the top surface dries out before the cookie is finished spreading and rising, it hardens, cracks, and pulls apart, producing an attractive crinkly, cracked exterior.
While we found that multiple factors can affect how quickly the top dries out and thus how many cracks are formed (including the temperature of the dough and how rapidly it spreads in the oven), a simple tweak turned out to be key to producing a maximum number of fissures: rolling the balls of dough in granulated sugar before rolling them in powdered sugar.
Coating the cookies with either type of sugar draws out moisture from their surface, promoting cracks by drying out their tops before the interiors set. But granulated sugar does so more efficiently because of its coarse, crystalline structure. As the crystals absorb moisture, some—but not all—dissolve into a syrup. As the cookies continue to bake, the moisture evaporates, and the sugar begins to recrystallize, a process that is accelerated by the undissolved sugar crystals, which act as “seed” crystals. When enough new crystals form, they begin drawing out moisture once again. The upshot: acookie with a faster-drying surface that is more prone to cracking.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:
Chocolate crinkle cookies are usually tooth-achingly sweet, with just a couple of wide gaping cracks instead of a crackly surface. For cookies that live up to the name, we use a combination of unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder (plus a boost from espresso powder) for a deep, rich chocolate flavor. Using brown sugar instead of granulated lends a more complex, tempered sweetness with a bitter molasses edge that complements the chocolate. A combination of both baking powder and baking soda gave us cookies with the right amount of lift and spread, helping produce good fissures on the outside. But the real key was rolling the cookies in granulated sugar before the powdered sugar. It helped produce the perfect crackly exterior and kept the powdered sugar coating in place.
My Happy Helper baking with mommy…
This blog is about food, pictures of beautiful food, for food, and all things food- enter BABY FOOD. Knox has been eating solids for 2 months now, and if you know us at all, I hope you know we have been making everything he eats at home. Jason and I don’t eat every meal out of a jar, so why would we feed our baby out of a jar, am I right? I was pretty excited to start making this little guy’s food, he was practically begging for each bite we put in our mouths when we were eating in front of him- poor guy! I can’t wait till we can just serve him what we’re eating each night, for now we make him his own fruit and veggies purees and combos! He’s actually inspired us to eat better again, I swear since pregnancy we’ve been spoiling our sweet tooth and ourselves with decadent meals, pizza and the like. This week we made a great meal plan and have stuck to it. We do a Sunday food prep as long as we’re home, where I baked sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, roasted acorn squash, washed and packed baggies of grapes, boiled chicken for southwest style wraps ( packaged beans/ shredded cheese/ avocado/ made brown rice with Salsa), baked bacon ( for loaded potatoes), boiled whole wheat pasta and threw together a backed ziti with zucchini slices, and of course made some fruits for Knox.
I do mega batches 1-2 times per month and so far he’s had: apples, pears, acorn squash, butternut squash, cantaloupe, peas, green beans, avocado, sweet potato, parsnips, prunes. It’s been pretty easy, I’ll do 2 fruits and 2 veggies all at the same time by steaming the sliced fruits in a saucepan with a touch of water and a lid at the same time the squash or potatoes are cooking/ roasting in the oven. As one item finishes cooking I toss it in the food processor. For the apple and pears, I remove the skin after it’s steamed and cool- it’s just easier and you don’t lose as much fruit. Once each item is blended, I pour/ plop it in to an ice cube tray, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen I transfer the cubes to a labelled bag and store in the freezer. To serve, I place 1-2 cubes ( mix and match!) and microwave in a small bowl with 10-20 second intervals till just warm and smooth. I’ll stir in some milk to thin it out if necessary, add in rice powder for extra calories.
Knox’s favorite, as an example Acorn Squash!
2 acorn squash
To start, wash the acorns, cut in half then place face down in a rimmed pan lined with foil ( I drizzle with EVOO), bake for 35 minutes @400 degrees. When cool, scoop out soft flesh in to your food processor and blend until smooth, adding liquid gradually (and adding more if needed to purée). Then pour into freezer cubes and store in freezer.
Sweet Potato and Apple
Apple and Cinnamon
Pear and Parsnips
Acorn Squash and Rice
Peas and Sweet Potato
Cantaloupe and Yogurt
Peaches and Cream ( mommy’s milk)
Knox loves the park and the swing!
Lincoln Park Zoo
Knox is 6 months old ( Oct 17th)
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! I made Knox a penguin costume, he was adorable, it was so worth it!
Knox can sit up unassisted- watch out!
He got mommy’s eyes, we can’t believe he went blue ( well slate, gray, green blue, like his mommy!)