Naptime Everyday: Recipes for Everyday Cooking and Baking
When I get into a cooking rut the first thing I do is turn to recipes and books I love. Sometimes I just spend a week or so revisiting old recipes. Other times I decide to crack open favorite books and challenge myself to try something new. It can be anything from a full dinner recipe, to a quick baked treat, to a cocktail. There is no limit to what I’ll try and having someone else already have written the recipe for me a huge help. Not to mention, reading the recipes of others is a terrific learning opportunity. Hardly a recipe goes by when I don’t learn a new technique or flavor pairing.
Today I am catching up from two days of work on a super exciting new project I can’t wait to reveal. In the mean time, I have to post about this super recipe I found on My Little Paris when it landed in my inbox last week. It is a recipe from Poilane, one of the many amazing places we visited when we traveled to Paris a few springs ago. It is the best kind of sweet in that it is delicious and it barely takes any effort.
Pasta is my comfort food and there is no limit to the number of pasta dishes I’ll make. I wish I could make it every night, but in the name of excess that is definitely NOT a good idea. When I do make it I try to bulk it up with some vegetables and protein. This helps make the dish filling and nutritious, not just a giant bowl of carbohydrates.
The beauty of muffins is their portability. They pack well in lunchboxes, purses, and just about anywhere they need to fit. I’ve even started taking them to the ski mountain to enjoy as a quick snack when we need to warm up in the lodge. There is no end to their versatility! The key to enjoying muffins frequently, however, is keeping them on the lighter side. I like them to be full of flavor, but I really don’t like them when they are sweet like cake.
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.