Saturday, December 22, 2012

Coconut Pancakes & Saturdays

Saturday started with slipper socks, hot tea, and a living room breakfast picnic since the dining room table has been overtaken by a Christmas factory of sorts - making gifts, wrapping gifts, and constructing cards has left glitter, bits of paper and lots of art supplies strewn about the dining room.

These pancakes were a result of that half a can of coconut milk that is always left over whenever a dinner recipe calls for coconut milk.  That small amount of coconut milk gets stashed away in the fridge with the best intentions to use it in something but then always ends up getting thrown away a week later.  The leftover milk, the remains of a bag of coconut flakes and a recently gifted griddle  lead to these pancakes.  I did a quick search online and ended up loosely following this recipe. We topped them them with almonds, raspberries, a little greek yogurt, and his & hers molasses and maple syrup.

We then headed north to spend the day finishing Christmas shopping in Kennebunkport, which is probably the quintessential New England town. The town was decorated with Christmas lights everywhere and they had a huge Christmas tree right in the center of downtown decorated with buoys and a lobster tree topper. 

We poked around at some shops and had lunch at Allisson's, where we also enjoyed a beer sampler of mostly Maine beers, per Saturday outing tradition.  Overall, a relaxing Saturday that all Saturdays should aspire to be like.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cinnamon Chip Snowballs

Well, time got away from me there for about a month. Between dwindling daylight hours and a lack of enthusiasm after working marathon work weeks there hasn't been much thought to photographing after cooking or baking. There has still been lots of it, just not well documented. I've missed the camera but I think I'm back at it.

October ended with a weekend of friends, pizza, and pumpkin carving and last minute costumes for a Halloween party.  November then rolled in and weekends were full of being at work or being out of town on the occasion that there was no work. We went to Woods Hole in Cape Cod fin early November and virtually had the whole place to ourselves.  We took a long, dark drive there on a Friday night where we found ourselves situated in a corner room with a king sized bed. We awoke to sunshine and views of the ocean and spent the next two days bundling up, exploring, drinking margaritas, relaxing and ending it all with a 16 mile winding bike ride along the southern part of Cape Cod.

November Instagrams (@michellekmartin)

Thanksgiving came and went and was full of family and delicious food and now we are officially in the second week of December and we still don't have a Christmas tree but it's on the agenda for this weekend (hopefully!)

In the meantime, to get in the spirit of Christmas without having the time to fully decorate I've made these snowball cookies. The cookies have just a few ingredients and they are perfect to make them in to whatever you'd like based on preferences or simply whatever's in your pantry. I used these cookies as an opportunity to clean out the last of a few baking odds and ends. Whatever add ins you choose to use, these cookies turn out as festive little bites.

Cinnamon Chip Snowballs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup nuts (I used 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup slivered almonds)
  • 1 cup chips (I used 1/2 cup cinnamon chips and 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks)
  1. Beat together vanilla, water, sugar, and butter. Once well combined add in the flour.
  2. Fold in nuts and chips
  3. Form in to 1 inch balls and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ana Sortun's Chef Sets

A post over on Eat Boutique about the Ana Sortun Chef Sets! A simple (and delicious) solution to a quick & healthy weeknight dinner.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Spiced Parsnip Cupcakes

Make these cupcakes. Even if you don't love cupcakes, make these. They are similar to a carrot cake or banana bread in texture and not overly sweet. I've had these bookmarked for about a month now and have been waiting to make them. I've been waiting mostly because having one dozen cupcakes around for two people is a huge waste. I made them for this weekend, in which friends will come over and hopefully eat them alongside carving pumpkins. 

I was drawn to this recipe because, as most people, once fall hits we desire warm, spiced baked goods to keep us warm. As New York Magazine published a few weeks ago pumpkin is the new bacon and I, for one, was over the pumpkin obsession as soon as it started this fall. So, when I saw this recipe it fit right in with a spiced, seasonal baked good but it offered something new and different. 

Having tried parsnips for the first time just last fall, they are a fairly new vegetable to me. Any different way in which I can use them is a welcome idea. The most tedious part of making these was grating the parsnip. Despite getting increasingly frustrated during the process (while simultaneously trying to fend off a monster kitten who was anxiously trying to eat any scrap of parsnip that fell to the floor) it was definitely worth it in the end. 

Spiced Parsnip Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes, from Everyday Food Magazine (with slight changes, see notes below)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour 
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1 teaspoon for frosting
  • 2 cups grated parsnip
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.  In separate bowl combine brown sugar through vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
  2. Divide batter among muffin cups lined with paper liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool completely.
  3. To make frosting beat cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, butter and confectioner's sugar until combine. 
  4. To store, refrigerate cupcakes in airtight container, up to two days.
notes:  I reduced the brown sugar to 1/2 cup, the butter to 1/4 of a stick- or 2 tablespoons, and made my own pumpkin pie spice with what I had on hand by combining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Just as I get excited to wear a favorite sweater or winter dress when the weather turns cool, I get excited to start eating all the veggies and fruits that aren't abundantly available during spring & summer.  Brussels sprouts undoubtedly have a bad reputation, but I feel that they are slowly shaking that off as the word gets out that they are delicious either roasted or sauteed (never boiled or steamed!).  The pairing of sauteed brussels sprouts with bacon is a good one.  It's a reappearing combination on this pizza that was made multiple times last winter.   It's a combination of crunchy and crisp and just salty enough.

This was one of those combinations that came out of the blue.  A sort of make it up as you go, as most salads tend to be.  I love shredded raw brussels sprouts salad  with parmesan and dressing in a wrap in the summer, and the combination was even more delicious heated through.  The addition of the roasted pear simply happened because 1.  I love pear in salads and 2.  The red pears looked so pretty when I saw them.

This salad is easy and can serve either four as a side or two as a main dish.  And, of course, can be made vegetarian by not using the bacon.  In addition, feel free to substitute any of your favorite fall fruits for the pear.

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad
serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main dish

  • Olive oil
  • 6 pieces of bacon, chopped in to bite size pieces
  • 2 lbs brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 2 pears, halved
  • Herbs of your choice
  • Shaved parmesan cheese
  • Balsamic glaze or reduction (make your own!)
  1. Half your pears and drizzle some olive oil on top.  Sprinkle with herbs of your choice.  Bake about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan.  Add bacon and let cook until getting crispy.  Add in shredded brussels sprouts and continue to cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring. Salt to taste
  3. Serve one half of a pear over a bed of brussels sprouts and bacon mixture.  Top with shaved parmesan and a drizzle of balsamic.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Simple Bean Salad

A couple weeks back I took photos of this gorgeous and delicious Simple Bean Salad.  Molly Shuster wrote up a great post about using dried beans and the maker behind these ones. Head over to Eat Boutique to see it!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Cookies

The idea for these cookies began while I was staring at a bag of hazelnuts that's been sitting in the pantry for about 6 months.  They were bought and used in a couple of recipes but we discovered maybe we don't like hazelnuts.  At least not as raw nuts by themself. Nutella is probably the one hazelnut based thing that I like, and probably so much so because it's paired with chocolate.  Anyway, these cookies were inspired by that bag of hazelnuts that had no use and a love of Nutella.  

The hazelnuts were toasted and ground into a meal that was used, along with whole wheat pastry flour, as the base of the cookie.  A few simple other ingredients and these cookies turned out perfect.  They remind me of the chocolate chip cookies my mom makes, which are perfect every time, but these have that little something different.  Next time you are thinking of chocolate chip cookies - give these ones a try. 

They bake up tiny, perfectly nutty, and loaded with dark chocolate.  I made them on a recent day off and they were the exact thing that a dreary and rainy week day needed-the smell of toasted nuts and butter wafting through the apartment. 

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Nestle Toll House recipe

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut meal
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 egg & 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. To make hazelnut meal: toast one cup of hazelnuts in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as you don't want them to burn.  Once they are toasted, remove, and place in a dish towel to remove skins.  It's okay if some of the skins are left on.  Once you have removed the skins place hazelnuts in a food processor and process until they have a flour/meal like consistency.  Be careful not to over process as it will start to turn into hazelnut butter. 
  2. Brown your butter.  Place butter in a pan over med-high heat, stirring occasionally until you begin to see small brown flecks and it gives off a nutty aroma; approximately 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  4. Once butter has cooled whisk together with sugar in a mixing bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla extract.  
  5. Once all your wet ingredients are mixed, add your dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Roll dough into one inch balls and bake at 350 for about 7 minutes.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cape Cod Weekend

Spent the weekend in Cape Cod this past weekend for an eagerly anticipated wedding of two close friends.  It was a weekend filled with friends, family, love, food and drinking.

Friday was spent frosting and decorating cupcakes (homemade by one of the bridesmaids!), making bridesmaids bouquets, delivering table arrangements and prepping for the rehearsal dinner.  

Following the rehearsal was a backyard cookout and a beach bonfire.  

No pictures from Saturday; the bridal party was up at 7 AM and we didn't stop until we all crashed late Saturday night after a beautiful ceremony and LOTS of dancing.  

Sunday was a perfect Cape Cod day.  A big brunch, a flats walk, and an afternoon whiffle ball game.  

A few of us stayed until Monday.  Sunday night we relaxed and enjoyed the amazing sunset.  

Monday we had a late morning and then finally made our way to the beach where we had sandwiches, soaked up some sun and swam.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Apple Picking & Rustic Apple Cake

After spending a relaxing weekend in Connecticut with family and friends, Monday hit hard. You know those days where your mind just won't quit. Churning over thought after thought about what you are doing with your life until it works you in to a panic?   You know you are being over exaggerative about it all but you can't just tell your brain to turn off. The answer to these days for me is to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and focus on something simple.  

A huge bag of apples from apple picking over the weekend sat on the kitchen counter.  I knew the way to keep all my anxieties at bay for the moment was to get in the kitchen and concentrate on something else.  Each year my family goes apple picking at Belltown Hill Orchards.  

You can pick all you want and we usually leave with more apples than could ever be eaten or baked before we end up getting tired of them.  

It's an activity I look forward to each Fall and, as an added bonus, you get to eat apple fritters after you've picked your apples.  

The cake batter is simple, replacing butter with oil and just slightly laced with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I had a small batch of homemade amaretto which I allowed the apples to soak in while I prepared the cake batter. Walnuts stud the top of the cake and the whole thing comes together practically effortlessly.  

Rustic Apple Cake
adapted from Joy of Baking

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3-4 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • big pinch of both cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • confectioner's sugar to sprinkle on top
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel and slice apples.  Place in a bowl with Amaretto and let sit while you prepare the batter. 
  3. Beat eggs and sugar together for 2 minutes (I did this by hand, you can also use an electric mixer)
  4. Stir in oil and vanilla
  5. Stir in flour and baking powder
  6. Stir in milk
  7. Add the apples to your batter, mixing to allow the batter to coat the slices.  Pour batter into a well greased 9-inch round pan. Sprinkle walnuts on top
  8. Place in oven and allow to cook 45-55 minutes, or until turning golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, top with confectioner's sugar and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

homemade veggie burgers

These burgers were one of the easiest things to make.  The above pictures show pretty much all the ingredients involved.  

I'd imagine that these burgers are a pretty good base for pretty much any combinations of flavors, I was tempted to use curry instead of cumin, but I've been on a curry kick lately so I am trying not to over do it. 

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Veggie Burgers
makes about 8 patties

1.5 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium sweet potatoes, baked 
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup flour

Oven to 375.  
1. Pierce sweet potatoes several times and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender.  Once baked, scoop the flesh out and put into a mixing bowl.  

2. Add the black beans to the sweet potato and mash them together, leaving slightly chunky.  

3.  Mix in cumin, cayenne, cilantro, maple syrup, and flour.  Mix together well so that all the ingredients get distributed throughout. 

4.  Form into patties, coat with breadcrumbs.

5.  If eating immediately, heat oil in a small pan.  Place patty in and cook for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  If not enjoying immediately, freeze patties for later.

6.  Top with desired toppings and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

good morning

A few photos.  I've noticed that since the start of the new year I've barely touched my camera, and when I have it's been for some pretty uninspired photos.  I'm not sure what it is all about.  I am currently taking a photography class and it has had quite the opposite effect on me, instead of getting me out to shoot more and inspiring me it seems it has crushed all desire to shoot.  Upcoming weekends away and some new opportunities will hopefully get me back in to it.