Kale and white bean soup.

14 11 2011

Sorry it has taken me forever to post this recipe. I can never remember how I make it so I’m writing as I cook.
1. Dice one whole onion

2. Chop one or two slices of bacon

3. Saute bacon and onions

4. add two cans of navy, cannellini or great northern beans

5. add 32 ounces of chicken broth

6. chop one whole bunch of kale and add to the soup (you can add this to onions and bacon at first if you prefer)

7. let everything simmer for a bit then add about a half cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese (or more if you like)

8. add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and some garlic salt or powder to taste.

9. Serve hot with a little extra parmesan cheese and fresh crusty bread.

I think that’s it. If I remember anything else I’ll edit the post.  It’s so yummy and good for you too.  If your kids don’t like the texture of the kale, blend a serving in the food processor and add a dollop of sour cream…they should eat it then.

Also, go for lacinato kale if you can find it. It’s really great in the fall.

Oh…and add some shredded chicken if you like. It’s so much easier to leave it out but men seem to prefer pieces of meat in their soup.


The Red Balloons.

3 05 2011

Dexter turned two on April 17th and we had a little celebration.

Now I do love to throw a party–it’s the ultimate creative opportunity–but this year my heart was in a different place and I was hyper aware of my thoughts, feelings and motivations.  This party needed to be small and rather low-key. It was a busy day and there were just a few guests but it felt impossible for me to really make it as simple as I had hoped I would.  The party was to celebrate Dexter but honestly the details were more about me and my idols.

If he remembers anything about the party at all it will be the cake and the red balloons…the two things I had nothing to do with…oh and maybe the red lollipop.

But this is what I’ll remember…

Likely this will be the last cute party I throw. When they turn three they have opinions about what they like and want, and they don’t usually provide good inspiration for whimsical party themes. But…I’m sure I’ll still have plenty of opportunities to sort out the difference between an idol and a creative outlet.

Something I’m into.

18 03 2011

I know I’ve posted before about how I have given up on ever trying to quit coffee. Well, recently I had the thought, “Maybe I’ll try just doing tea again”. I was getting tired of cleaning out the coffee pot everyday and going through the trouble of grinding good beans only to end up with a nasty pot of coffee that I only drank because I needed the caffeine.  There is something wrong with our water or our coffee maker because the coffee always tastes like plastic.

So recently my friend ShellEy introduced me to Starbucks VIA. Now, I remember the Folgers crystals from my childhood and how nasty it was so I was certainly skeptical of anything that used the words instant and coffee in the same phrase but, I have been using these for a few weeks and I am totally hooked.

This is what Starbucks says about VIA, and I couldn’t agree more. Now if I could just find a bunch more on sale like Shelley did, I be set.

This is not instant coffee as you know it. This is rich, flavorful Starbucks© coffee in an instant.
Starbucks has found a way to offer a truly great cup of coffee that you can prepare by just adding water. Other instant coffees taste flat and lifeless. Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew is different – it’s full-bodied and flavorful, just like the Starbucks© coffee you know and love. 

It’s made with the highest-quality, ethically sourced 100% arabica beans. The magic is in a proprietary, all-natural process that we spent years perfecting. We microgrind the coffee in a way that preserves all of their essential oils and flavor. No other coffee company takes this step, and it makes all the difference.

Salted Caramel Brownies

20 08 2010

That’s right. It’s not a mistake…SALTED caramel brownies. I’m not much of a recipe follower. If it’s not in the cupboard or the refrigerator I just don’t make it. I have my staples and they work well for me so I’m not likely to run out and buy specific ingredients for a recipe, even if it looks amazing.  This, however, was the exception. I had heard of these before and always wanted to try them so when I visited Amelie’s French Bakery in NoDa these salted caramel brownies were the first things I popped in my mouth. Crack. Cocaine. Facebook. Sex. Shopping.  Whatever your addition, these things are better and more addictive.

I did have to run out and buy some random ingredients like baker’s chocolate, gelatin, heavy whipping cream, and random for me, white sugar and white flour.

A few things to remember before getting started:

1. Be sure to use foil that has been buttered or oiled to line your pan.  This way you can lift the entire sheet of brownies out of the pan and easily peel away the foil. Place them on a cutting board to make clean cuts and prettier brownies.

2. Do not overbake. I baked the brownies for 25 minutes and they came out just right.

3. For the caramel part, be sure to watch the water and sugar mixture when boiling. It starts turning light brown after 5 minutes or so, and turns amber quickly after that.

4. Chill the brownies in the fridge to set the caramel.

(recipe obtained via Charlotte Magazine and supplied by Amelie’s so it’s the real thing)

Salted Caramel Brownies

Yields 24 brownies

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup salted caramel glaze (see below; prepare glaze when brownies are cool)

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil and then butter well.

In the top of a double boiler over medium heat, melt chocolate and butter, being sure the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not touch the top pan. Stir chocolate and butter until completely melted. Then stir in sugar. Blend well. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, lightly whisk eggs. Stir eggs into chocolate mixture. Then add flour, stirring until completely blended. Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Completely cool brownies in pan. Pour caramel glaze over brownies and cool in fridge until caramel sets. Slice into bars, about 2 inches square.

Salted Caramel Glaze

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons powdered gelatin, combined with 1/4 cup cold water

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm heavy cream until hot, but not boiling. In a separate tall saucepan, combine sugar and water. Place over medium-high heat. Do not stir as sugar dissolves and mixture reaches a dark amber stage. Add cream, butter, and salt. Stir gently until mixture is smooth and well combined. Remove from heat and add gelatin, stirring to combine. Use immediately.

I’m not much of a baker or dessert maker so this felt really labor intensive.  It was definitely worth it but it will be a while before I try my hand at something like this again.

I cut my brownies into smaller squares than they do at the bakery because they are SO rich. Do what you like but I recommend having them with a cup of coffee and a tall glass of water to wash down the 4 cups of sugar.  Now that I think about it, I might be better off using crack than eating these…I’ll need a serious detox this weekend.

Also, adding a new category to the blog: food.

Cannoli with The Tiny Chef

9 06 2010

How did we get so lucky?

A few months ago The Tiny Chef contacted me to do some design work and I jumped at the opportunity since logo deign is my forte. I prefer designing typographic logos but I dove into this character illustration and was thrilled with the way it turned out.

About a month later she was featured on Charlotte Today making cannoli so of course Bradley and I tuned in. Bradley loves watching anything on television so I knew he’d be excited.  He was absolutely taken with her. How could he not be. She was on television making a dessert…his two favorite things in the world. As a thank you she offered to come give us a lesson.  I took her up on her offer and as soon as I told Bradley he started counting down the days.

She was a little taller than he expected, a disappointment that he quickly got over as soon as she pulled out the brightly colored maraschino cherries.  Somehow she worked her magic to capture his attention for at least the next hour as we got to work measuring, pouring, mixing, rolling, chopping, filling and decorating.  I even got involved and got to try my hand at deep frying…something I’ve never been willing to do before. I also learned that I had been mispronouncing mascarpone my entire life.  I always thought it was maRscapone instead of maScarpone.

Be sure to check out Susanne’s site.  She’s super busy these days (and now I know why) but I know if you get on the books early you’ll be glad you did.

Thanks Susanne. What a great experience you gave us. Maybe next time we’ll do an adult lesson and have a wine & food pairing party to take advantage of her expertise as a Sommelier.

My boiling blood.

2 06 2010

The subject of food is too big for me to make thoughtful commentary on right now. Hopefully one day I’ll have time to step back far enough to be rational in a food discussion. Right now my blood still boils when I see the three letters F-D-A so I will spare you my rantings.

Last night we watched Food Inc.

This morning I joined Absolute organics.

My garden isn’t doing so well.  Fortunately I have Earth Fare (click here for coupon), local farmers’ markets and generous friends whose gardens are flourishing.

We are blessed not to have to choose between McDonalds and going hungry.

Salad & Salsa

3 05 2010

I’m getting better at doing these short posts but haven’t abandoned crafting more thoughtful ones. It just so happens that I’ve had several in a row.

There are a few recipes that I keep meaning to post here and since I got emails asking for both this morning I finally decided to do it. I’m not good at measuring so they are more like ingredient lists than recipes.

Every Salad (Choose one from each: a green, a fruit, a cheese, an onion, a crunch & a dressing)

1. Leafy Greens (spinach, arugula, mixed greens and Oak or Bib Lettuce are my favorites…romaine works ok for Mexican & Asian)

2. Fruit (tomatoes, apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, mangos or oranges)

3. Onion (any kind works but I prefer thinly sliced red or chopped green)

4. Cheese (goat is good with everything but oranges, gorgonzola is good with tomatoes, apples & pears, parmesan is best with tomatoes and cheddar or Monterrey jack is good for a mexican salad…Asian salads don’t need cheese)

5. Crunch (pecans, walnuts, almonds, croutons, tortilla chips or crushed and toasted ramen noodles…I like to candy the nuts with butter & brown sugar…also peanuts are good for Asian if you use a peanut or ginger dressing)

6. Other (avocados, cucumbers, raisins, Craisins, dried apricots, cilantro, bacon, chopped egg, olives)

Some of my favorite salad combinations:

Spinach, berries, goat, purple onion, avocado, walnuts & balsamic vinaigrette

Spinach, granny smith apples, gorgonzola, green onion, candied pecans & apple cider vinaigrette

Oak lettuce, pear, gorgonzola, purple onion, cucumbers, avocado, candied pecans & apple cider vinaigrette

7. Dressing (put in a magic bullet, blender or food processor and blend until emulsified)

Vinaigrette: 2 parts Olive oil, 1 part Balsamic or apple cider vinegar, 1 garlic clove, salt, pepper, italian seasoning, a spoonful of brown sugar or honey, a squirt of mustard…any kind works

Asian: 2 parts Sesame oil, 1 part soy sauce or rice vinegar, 1 garlic clove, salt, pepper, a spoonful of peanut butter or tahini, ginger

Salsa (Put all ingredients in a magic bullet, blender or food processor and blend well)

1. Can of diced or whole tomatoes

2. thick slice of onion

3. several garlic cloves

4. 1 whole chili or jalapeno pepper

5. handful of cilantro

6. juice from half a lime or lemon

7. salt, pepper & oregano (I like a lot of salt)