Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall Favorites: Butternut Squash- Apple Soup and Pumpkin Blondies

We are starting to see signs of fall out here in California. It's my favorite time of year and I love to cook when it is cold and blustery. Not to mention, I love the flavors of fall- pumpkin, butternut squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove...I felt pretty good this week when I went to my own blog to source two of my favorite fall recipes. And I learned from previous mistakes as noted and both of these recipes were a huge success! Check out these past posts:

1. Butternut squash and apple soup. First, please make this soup. It turned out sooo fabulous this week. This post has the entire recipe and step by step photos. I used chicken broth and dried rosemary and thinned it enough so that it was velvety smooth but not too thick. I can't gush enough about how yummy it was even without the sour cream and thyme. This is the little black dress of soup- add the sour cream drizzle and it's fancy enough for a dinner party but leave it plain and it's great for a weeknight.

2. Pumpkin White Chocolate Blondies. Now I don't love white chocolate and some may say that white chocolate isn't really chocolate but it works in this recipe. After making this several times last year, I didn't not make the same mistakes as last year. I used only the called for 1 CUP of pumpkin nit the whole can. And I baked for 38 minutes which gave moist and cakey bars. So delicious that I forgot to save them for a new photo!

Happy Fall!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Petite Hot Chocolate

Now that I am home on maternity leave, I was looking for a morning ritual drink to jumpstart the each day of new motherhood. I'm not a coffee drinker and I like tea but I tend to drink that in the afternoon. And I found a tin of sipping chocolate from Trader Joe's back in our pantry to make hot chocolate with milk. With a bit of whipping cream, I had my morning drink.

But why the petite? I was making a large mug like this but I found that it was just too much. So I brought out some small espresso cups from my great aunt- the perfect size!

What are your morning food or drink rituals?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Simple Pleasures: An Ice Cream Cone on A Sunny, Fall Day

Sometimes it's the little things in life...this week, I found myself running an errand in front of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. I never paid much attention to Loard's Ice Cream before as I always favored the very popular (and crowded) Fenton's or the Ice Creamery. But, this kitchy pink parlor complete with an older couple having mid-afternoon sundaes in glass dishes beckoned me on this sunny day. Turns out Loards is a local chain making handmade ice cream in San Francisco since the 1950s. I've seen a few stores and parlors- all in the bright pink decor but today, there was something special and sentimental about walking in and ordering a single scoop on a sugar cone. I realized it was probably several years since I've had an ice cream cone. And, I've decided for my birthday, I am going to request that my family join me for a traditional sundae at an ice cream parlor.

I even knew what flavor I wanted before I went in and sure enough- they had it. So, with a generous scoop of peanut butter fudge, I enjoyed this fall afternoon complete with a messy face and sticky fingers. So much more enjoyable that the dainty cup.

When was the last time you had an actual ice cream cone?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blog Posts in the Making...

Thanks for checking in on the blog. I've actually been baking (the first time in 6 weeks!) and doing a few other blogworthy things but it just takes me twice as long to get it all on the blog.

Three posts that are coming soon:

1) Homemade chocolate malts. Well, coming from a family of Oakland A's fans, I usually don't root for the Giants but I'm excited to see a local team in the race. We had a game night dinner with our neighbors for game 1 and we had nachos, hot dogs, and sundae cups (in photo above). There's something tasty about eating ice cream with a stick. Yum! Our neighbors were looking for the Carnation malts but couldn't find them. So, I am going to make some and if they work out...will post!

2) Strawberry Honey Pies. I made these last week and they were fun. This post is coming very soon.

3) Petite hot chocolate. Because I don't drink coffee, I'm in search of another morning ritual now that I am on maternity leave at home. I think this mini hot chocolate might be just the trick as I am finding myself unable to drink a whole mug-ful.

Thanks for being patient!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

All Hail the Honeycrisp Apple- in a Spinach, Brie and Apple Panini!

Ah, maternity leave in the first few weeks has been pretty busy with little time for blogging. Many thanks to my mom for bringing over the ingredients for this yummy lunch that I thought was worth a blog post: panini sandwiches made with brie, spinach and honeycrisp apples.

It's my favorite season right now, fall, and the time for apples! One of my favorites that we discovered when living in Minnesota is the honeycrisp. Honeycrisp apples were developed at the University of Minnesota and are known for their delicious flavor when eaten raw. If you've ever been to Minnesota, apples are a big deal and it's tradition to go to an apple orchard and pick or eat apples in the fall. If you go to the State Fair, you can see and sample many of the varieties of apples developed in Minnesota.

We actually received our panini maker as a wedding present. It was one of several appliances that we registered for and of the toaster oven, ice cream maker, panini grill, and waffle maker- the panini maker wins hands down for the appliance we have used the most. You might have read our post on the spinach, brie and fig spread panini...and this is a great "line extension" of that sandwich.

So, to make this sandwich...start by buying some brie, spinach, good artisan bread ( French, Tuscan, etc) and some honeycrisp apples. Lay slices of the honeycrisp apples on one side and the cheese and spinach (uncooked) on the other. My mom also added turkey to some of the sandwiches but I prefer simply the cheese, fruit and spinach. And then, press!

The gooey, creamy brie is delightful with the sweet and still a bit firm apples- the spinach- well, I just feel good about have a vegetable in this decadent sandwich. Thanks, mom!

Hope you enjoy this sandwich...or at least a honeycrisp apple!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday Splurge: Prather Ranch Cheeseburger with Acme Bun

Mmm...we had lunch out today at one of our favorite East Bay restaurants, the Sideboard, and I had one of the best burgers! The Sideboard, in Danville, uses local, quality ingredients and I could taste it! With a bun from Acme bread and the beef from Prather Ranch, this juicy burger didn't need fancy sauces or lots of toppings- the sign of good food can be simplicity. Prather Ranch is a sustainable 40,000 cattle, hay and farming operation near Mt. Shasta, the area where my mom's side of the family lives. The Acme Bread Co. is a local bakery that makes wonderful, artisan bread. Both Prather Ranch and Acme Bread have stores at the San Francisco Ferry Building. Now that I think of it, the Sideboard also serves Blue Bottle Coffee- which also has a store in the Ferry Building. How lucky we are to have some of the best tastes from the Ferry Building in our backyard at this restaurant.

So with a side of crispy pommes frites, this lunch was such a treat that I didn't think to take a photo until it was almost gone! Thumbs up to the Sideboard, Acme Bread, and Prather Ranch- all worth a visit if you have the opportunity.