Naptime Everyday: Recipes for Everyday Cooking and Baking
It is time to think spring. I am ready to put this winter and all of the snow days and icicles behind me. Luckily, a pretty little package of Ball Heritage Collection Spring Jars arrived recently and put me right in the mood. The cheery green color of this vintage-style jars are perfect for spring. If I hadn’t been the mood for more marmalade I might have used them as flower vases for our dining room table and pretended it was summer!
To create a little excitement while we slog through the winter doldrums I like to change up our dinner routine. Any break from the norm on evenings when the sun has set by four o’clock is a good way to lift the spirits and keep a smile on our faces. This winter I’ve tried everything from breakfast for dinner, testing new cuisines (more on that soon!), and revisiting our beloved sandwich maker. We received our panini press as a wedding gift nearly a decade ago and it has held up like a champ. I use it all the time to make our favorite pressed sandwiches, grilled cheeses, and even grilled vegetables. Last week I dug it out of the basement for the first time since we moved to make some dinner sandwiches on a particularly cold evening.
Over the years I’ve made endless (endless!) lists about my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. And, while I like making all of them, I am still searching for new ones. Last week I was inspired by an article on Food52 and wanted to recreate Phyllis’s recipe. However, I didn’t want to use walnuts since many of my daughter’s friends are allergic. I also had a different selection of chocolate on hand. And, I was jonesing to try my big new bottle of bourbon extract.
I am always a sucker for a good baking book and this week I am excited to share a great one: The Dollop Book of Frosting: Sweet and Savory Icings, Spreads, Meringues, and Ganaches for Dessert and Beyond. At first I thought this would be just be a ho-hum baking book but it really is so much more. Not only are the recipes for spreads and baking goods amazing, they are all different from ones I currently have in my cookbook collection. There really is something for everyone in here, especially if you are looking to add something new to your everyday sweets repertoire. Today I am featuring a fun little chat I had with the author, Heather Saffer and am giving away a copy. I am also featuring one of my favorite recipes from the book!
Yesterday I interviewed my dear friend Megan Gordon about her new book, Whole Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons. It was so much fun to hear how the book developed and about the progress of her company, Marge Granola. Today I am sharing one of my favorite recipes from her new book as well as a little glimpse of my favorite things about the volume. Don’t forget I am giving away a copy of the book, just click here to enter!
In the meant time, after I posted the picture I immediately got requests for the jam recipe and Barbara sent it along. Turns out it making it is a total snap! I shared the recipe with my mother and she agreed that is a good recipe – it is the same one she uses. You can easily make this with a hefty bag of Meyer lemons you pick up at the store this winter. In fact, do yourself a favor and double or triple the recipe. You can seal the jars and keep them to give out at Easter or next summer. Or, of course, you can always just send some to me.
During my year of exploring the flavor trend of mushrooms with Sargento I’ve been trying to highlight the many ways mushrooms can be used in home cooking. So far I’ve turned up ways to incorporate them into so many sides dishes and main courses. This month I wanted to take mushrooms and turn them into a sauce. I love a good savory mushroom sauce for pasta and chicken so why not try my hand at it home. The twist? This time I added some Parmesan breadcrumbs to the chicken and gave it a quick broil at the end, turn this dish into an earthy, cheesy delight.
It is not an exaggeration for me to say that Dorie Greenspan is my baking idol. And I am not saying that because I want to win any sort of contest. It is the honest to goodness truth that I love her writing and her work and deeply admire her dedication baking in the home kitchen. So, when I was invited to join in the Cookie Rumble with Dorie, Jacques Torres, and Fonseca BIN 71, I couldn’t say no! For my entry I am submitting these tasty salted butter blondies topped with figs poached in port and a brown sugar streusel.
After my trip to the Greenwich Food + Wine Festival I got thinking more about weeknight meals. I loved Sara Moulton’s and Richard Blais’ presentations, but they didn’t really feature a lot of cheese. However, the dishes they made could feature plenty of cheese. In my year of working with Sargento I have had a lot of fun documenting the popular food trends of food trucks and mushrooms but it really all comes back to the cheese. I am no stranger to cheesy weeknight meals and I wondered if I could take Sara’s and Richard’s dishes and make them a little cheesier, so to speak.
We love grilling even when the temperatures begins to drop. However, we do draw the line at grilling when there is actual snow outside. Since the move our grill has been sitting in the basement. We plan to get it out again soon, but that is pretty far down our to-do list at this point. Instead, as luck would have it, I was sent a new OptiGrill in the mail to try at home and that is what we have been using. It ideal for indoor grilling any night of the week. I find it especially easy since it means I don’t have to run outside and light the coals while I juggle the kids dinner time as well.
The first thing I cooked in our new home was acorn squash. When I wandered into Whole Foods, exhausted from unpacking, I immediately spotted the seasonal vegetable display and instantly knew that is what I needed to make. Squash is one of our favorite fall vegetables and I cook it as often as possible when it is available. I like to prepare it simply, roasted with oil and sprinkled with a little browned butter and Parmesan. I love the sweet flavor and autumnal aroma that wafts through the kitchen as it roasts.
One of the challenges I’ve been enjoying in my year exploring mushrooms with Sargento is incorporating them in to every meal of the day. Mushrooms, I find, are very flavorful in savory meals for lunch and dinner. Grilled cheeses, sauces, and soups taste amazing with a little or a lot of mushroom umami flavor. Breakfast, however, other than stirred into eggs, can be a little more difficult. We know mushrooms taste great in quiche or frittatas, but…what else? Can they be incorporated differently? I wanted to try pairing them with salty bacon, a fried egg, and some delicious cheese, but instead of a quiche in a tasty, easy breakfast bake.