Naptime Everyday: Recipes for Everyday Cooking and Baking
My husband and I love to go out to dinner, just the two of us, when time allows. Our weekdays are so busy and scattered it is rare that we have a lot of time together to chat and decompress. However, sometimes our usual date night agenda of dinner and a walk around town is thwarted by the lack of a babysitter or a sick child who needs our attention. On these nights we throw ourselves date night at home. We get the kids to sleep, fire up the grill, and have a date on the back porch.
It has been a big grilling summer around these parts. We’ve been firing up the coals nearly every night and eating outside as much as possible. It is so much easier now that the kids are older and can play on the swing set while we mill around the yard! Naturally I’ve seized this opportunity to work on a few new grilling recipes, including things like vegetables and desserts.
When my husband travels, sometimes I like to feed the kids their own dinner and wait to make my own until after they have gone to sleep. This may seem unusual at first, but it is actually a good way for me to get a little “me time” in at the end of the day. Now that spring is finally here it stays light late enough that I can enjoy a few slices of pizza and a glass of wine on the back porch.
It can be fun to play jokes with food if you are super clever. But I am not one of those people so I just give something a little twist and call it my own personal April Fools joke. For example, are these blondies or are they brownies? Or are they both? I called them marbled blondies because that is the easiest thing to say.
If you read my newsletter last week you’ll know that I was taken down by the stomach flu and didn’t have the ability to type a sentence, let alone cook a speck of food. Luckily, that time is now behind me (seriously, thank god, because I never want to feel that awful again), and I’ve resumed naptime cooking and nourishing to the best of my ability. Over the weekend we had our first Nor’easter of the season which meant it was time for the slow cooker! And, given my recent recovery, I was excited to make something hearty and comforting for my crew.
The benefit of having in-law’s in Florida is that they regularly send citrus. Not just any citrus, the real deal Florida fresh citrus. We eat it non-stop, especially during snowstorms, to keep our spirits up. I also use it all the time for baking and cooking. Over the weekend I used one of our last grapefruits to make these sweet little shortbread cookies. I loved how the tangy grapefruit played with the dark chocolate, giving it the flavor of a dark chocolate covered orange peel. These simple cookies are the perfect sweet nibble to chase away the winter blues. Remember people, only 50 days left until spring!
I don’t love the January fad of extreme diets and cleanses, but I do embrace the renewed commitment to healthier eating. I don’t mind giving up sugar and cutting back on gluten. I just don’t like replacing it all with salad. Only salad. Lettuce is delicious, but it doesn’t feel like real sustenance to me. It is not hearty enough and doesn’t fill me up, no matter how much I eat. That is why I am here to give you a new salad recipe that will steer you away from a leafy green-heavy plate but still keep you firmly in the healthy eating category. My friend Lauren made this in December when she had a few friends over for a ladies lunch. She paired it with my most delicious shrimp soup (recipe soon) and it made for a terrific, warm afternoon meal. (Not to mention, her table styling was spot on and her whole house looks like it bounced right off the pages of Domino magazine.)
It simply wouldn’t be a holiday without an awesome Christmas cookie or three. I’ve always thought that shortbread is a great cookie to give away to people. It is sturdy, festive, and the flavor improves with time. This year I fell hard for a new shortbread recipe that uses a generous dose of cornmeal in addition to the regular butter/flour/sugar ratio. The cornmeal gives it added texture and makes it touch chewier, which I welcome. It is flavored with lots of fresh lime zest and a little vanilla extract, welcome departures from the heavy chocolate and peppermint favorites of the season. To gift these to friends, secure them in paper boxes or cello bags or any other creative container you have on hand.
This week I am going to focus on homemade gifts from the kitchen. The kind of gifts you love to give everyone around you during the season. The first gift is a simple spiced butter rum sauce. Don’t worry, there is no burning sugar and using candy thermometers with this one. This sauce is more about a simple simmer and superior flavor. It can be drizzled over ice cream, bread pudding, or just about any Christmas sweet you can think of. Make it up in a snap during naptime, even double the recipe if you have a big list this year, and put it in a pretty jar. Your friends will love the homemade decadence almost as much as you loved making it!
My mother made these recipe when we were visiting Cooperstown in October. It was so warm and hearty I couldn’t wait to share it with you. It isn’t an original of mine, my mom mined it from the depths of Google and gave it her own tweaks. She has such a well-trained eye for good recipes! I am always looking for new ways to make mushroom soup. My old favorite is delish, but we all need change now and then. I promise, you’ll love the smooth silky flavor with the undertones of nuttiness from the barley. It is easy to whip up during naptime and put away in the fridge (or freezer) for later. Stay warm!
Where there are families, there is snack food. No two ways about it. I’ve long advocated for generally healthy eating habits in our home and that includes an assortment of store-bought products we love. Some things are just better purchased than made at home! One of the things I buy are Stacy’s Pita Chips. They are made in small batches by hand and I never worry about giving them to my kids. We eat them plain or with hummus, or sometimes even with a caramel dip for dessert. To spice things up this holiday season my friends at Stacy’s came out with a delicious limited edition flavor. Salted Caramel Pita Chips! Seriously, they are as amazing as they sound.
Sandwiches are my go-to lunch and, sometimes, my go-to dinner. They are perfect in so many ways because you can layer in all sorts of delicious ingredients and not have to worry about turning on the oven. In honor of National Sandwich Day today I am thrilled to be sharing one of my all-time sandwiches. It is my version of the basic BLT, but with a tasty twist including a fried egg and creamy Arla Dofino Dill Havarti.