Naptime Everyday: Recipes for Everyday Cooking and Baking
This is the season I like to take it slow. Life doesn’t slow down, but the cooking does. Instead of chopping loads of fresh vegetables from the local market I use my favorite frozen ones and add them to the slow-cooker. It is an easy approach to the delicious soups and stews to keep us warm during the busy, cold days of January.
Eating lighter doesn’t have to be miserable. In fact, there are plenty of ways you can have your cake and it too! Of course, I don’t mean literally, but eating better doesn’t mean you have to give up every single thing you love like chocolate and ice cream. My recent favorite chocolate treat that manages to match my resolutions goal, yet still satisfy my cravings, is this raw cacao smoothie. It is filled with chocolate raspberry flavor, a snap to make, and perfect for everyday sipping.
The January blahs are setting in and I am doing everything I can to keep my kitchen fresh and exciting. Sometimes a little change and break us all out of the rut, it doesn’t have to be anything momentous. Just enough to make us look as something with fresh eyes. Over Christmas vacation my mother gave me some delicious chocolate zucchini bread from a friend. My kids enjoyed a few slices but then grew a little bored with it.
January is the season of resolutions and I am no different. It’s time to cut back on the sugar and pasta and focus on the healthy, lighter fare. Last fall I went to Napa Valley to attend the media reveal of the Panasonic Countertop Induction Oven. It was a wonderful trip and I really enjoyed learning more about oven and its many features. I’ve been using it a lot since I received mine and it has truly made my cooking life easier than ever. I can roast, bake, and reheat in a fraction of the time I can do any of those things in my regular oven!
The strata, a baked egg casserole filled with bread and scrumptious vegetable and meat fillings of your choice, is a time-honored make-ahead holiday breakfast in our house. It is easy on the cook (me) and everyone gobbles it right up. Who doesn’t like a recipe that can easily be made in advance and baked to perfection on demand? It is the stuff that holiday cooking dreams are made of.
Chocolate dipped orange peels are my single favorite candy in the whole world. I love the tangy citrus paired with the sweet chocolate and the chewy texture. I had this flavor combination in mind the other day when I made this bread pudding. We had a lot of fresh oranges on hand so I decided to combine them with dots of fresh chocolate in a delicious and easy holiday dessert.
Today I have to share a little chocolate tart I made last month. It was simple, yet sophisticated; rich, but not overwhelming. I loved making it because it wasn’t complicated and had a very grown-up appeal. It a chocolate tart with an almond crust, topped with mascarpone whipped cream and a rich caramel sauce. Simple? Yes. Decadent? You bet. This little gem would be perfect for a chocolate holiday dessert, or at just about any dinner party you throw this winter. The best part is that the recipe isn’t mine, it was already perfectly written out by Mimi Thorisson. I considered a few amendments but I’m glad I didn’t use them because I love the recipe exactly as it is written. You know what they say about messing with perfection.
This fall I’ve been working on getting more comfortable with yeasted doughs on working on recipes for sweet rolls and bakery-style sweet breads. It has taken a bit of experimenting but I am finally ready to share a favorite, this braided buttery pumpkin danish. It’s not perfectly symmetrical or fit for display at a fancy bakery, but I promise you it tastes amazing.
Three generations at our Thanksgiving table can be tricky. My parents have had several decades to establish their Thanksgiving eating habits and have very clear opinions of what they’d like on the table. My husband, my brother, and I sit in the middle, having a few things we love to eat but don’t get every single year. My children are the youngest, and being that they are somewhat picky I often make a few things just for them.
It took a few tries for carrot cake to become one of our favorites. I initially served my family the classic version and after the very first bite my children insisted I omit the raisins and nuts the next time. The second time around was better, but was deemed “boring.” Then, after they developed a sudden, and unexpected, obsession with blueberry pancakes I was asked to add berries to their cake to liven it up a little. Finally, with a few adjustments made to the frosting technique, we were set.
It is well-known in grade school land that October is the month of teacher conferences and half-day dismissals which is means that carefully laid routine of September is basically thrown out the window for a couple of weeks. It is an incredible pain in the a** for busy parents and the best way to deal with the food aspect of it, at least in my opinion, is with the slow-cooker. Prep food early in the day, let it cook while you scurry around to early pick-ups and coordinate playdates, and then serve dinner once everyone is finally able to wind down.
Cool fall days call for warm, chewy cookies. As the temperatures dip I find it easier to turn on the oven and let the kitchen warm up with it. These chewy cranberry oatmeal almond cookies are a new recipe I found in a terrific new cookbook, Scandinavian Gatherings: From Afternoon Fika to Midsummer Feast: 70 Simple Recipes & Crafts for Everyday Celebrations. I am going to showcase the book next week but this recipe simply can’t wait.