All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

wordless wednesday: here comes the sun

A quick hike this morning to greet the sun - the snow has finally melted! And yesterday I made these muffins for snacking on my wanderings, nice to have a little chocolate for breakfast:)

Hope you have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

the annual Thanksgiving meltdown and a few last minute recipes

Sigh. Here it comes, that holiday meltdown, when I begin with a brilliantly conceived menu, and slowly descend into the mania of menu anxiety. I start here, and end up THERE, I worry. I shop, but while I remember the turkey and the extra toilet paper, I forget the rapini, that was carefully written in as the extra veg, I am suddenly seized with worry that our gluten-free, dairy-free recipe plan this year will not be enough – that everyone will surely starve. I fiddle with vegetable dishes, desserts, and sides and soups, moving them around on paper until ( hopefully) they re-assemble into a calm, Martha Stewart-like celebration I'm hoping for. And just as I heave a sigh after the feast has been presented, the children and guests have dug in with enthusiasm, just as the last glass of seltzer, the last cup of coffee is emptied – everyone leaves. And I do the dishes.

I am delighted tonight to talk with a new guest arriving tomorrow with her toddler - she laughed when she heard me say we would be having homemade cranberry sauce - and Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce, which I have always loved. "You mean the cranberry sauce that looks like the can?" And of course, that IS what it looks like as you decant it.

Here are a few of the recipes that might come in handy during your last minute frenzy:

Apple cobbler

Gluten-free, dairy free chocolate coconut pudding pots

Fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate

Butternut Squash soup with Indian spices

Mushroom Soup


Fluffy Green Salad

Brussels Sprouts Chiffonnade

It may take some time to hook up the links, but you can also check the blog, if you're impatient.

Live, laugh, and love your Thanksgiving ! Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

wordless wednesday: sweet potato lunch

Glorious day for a little hike - overcast, gray, but still 60 degrees , for which I am endlessly grateful, and came back hungry as a bear. ( Nope, no bears lately - another thing I'm grateful for)

I had an enormous sweet potato, which I peeled, cut into chunks, and tossed with olive oil, thyme ( lots of thyme!) kosher salt and pepper, and half a sliced onion. Roasted at 425F for 40 minutes and swooned over every delicious forkful. ( oh, and pssst: they make a great Thanksgiving side, too!)

Hope your day is just as delightful, and take care of your sweet selves!

Friday, November 11, 2011

pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting

The snow has finally melted from our freakish Halloween snowstorm that left us with 26 inches of way too early white stuff, so now I can breathe. I had visions of seeing snow on the ground from October to April, which was not a happy thought. Yesterday I took a lovely long walk, smiling at the still-bright leaves on the trees and the not-too-chilly temps. And then I headed straight to my stash of canned pumpkin.

Pumpkin is to me what chocolate is to my children - addictive, rich, the essence of Fall. I love it roasted, baked, sauteed - and in the most delicious cakes, cookies, and bars you can imagine. I did once try a pumpkin mousse, but didn't like the texture. Give me a lovely pumpkin bar, juicy with raisins and smooth with a handful of milk chocolate chips, then topped with my favorite cream cheese frosting. Heaven - and the heck with the diet today!

I recently found a recipe for pumpkin pie spice in bulk - something I would never buy, but it does come up in recipes, so I made up a few tablespoons of the mix. It called for:
4 T. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. cloves
Mix well and store in a bottle.

Pumpkin Bars with cream cheese frosting:
(recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod, adapted)

1 1/2 cups flour
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree, canned
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg, extra large
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 t. pumpkin pie spice mixture
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease an 8"x8" square baking pan with Crisco. Cut to fit a strip of waxed paper that covers the bottom and ends of the baking pan, with a few inches to spare, so you can lift it out easily when it's done. Grease the waxed paper as well.
Mix together the pumpkin, canola oil, egg, and buttermilk. Add the sugars and stir, then add the pumpkin pie spice and stir.

Add the flour and baking soda to the mix and briefly mix. Add the raisins and chocolate chips and stir briefly until combined. Spread into pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the batter is firm to the touch. Remove and cool for ten minutes, then lift the cake out, firmly holding onto the wax paper ends. Set on a cooling rack.

Set a cooling rack on top of the pumpkin cake, then flip the cake. Peel off the waxed paper, and flip back to cool on the rack.

Making the cream cheese frosting:

1 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese
1 stick of room temp unsalted butter (4 oz)
juice of half a fresh lemon
3/4ths box confectioners sugar

Mix all well until creamy and set aside.

The finish:

Trim the edges off the cooled pumpkin cake.
Using a dull knife, swirl the cream cheese frosting all over the cake.
Cut the cake into 6 pieces ( more or less, as you wish)
Remove bars to a plate and tidy up the frosting.

More pumpkin recipes!

Enjoy every bite :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

warm green breakfast smoothies

The last thing I want to start my day in the winter is a cold glass of green smoothie. Never mind that kelp, spirolina, soymilk, and protein powder are touted as a wonder breakfast, I long for something warm and soothing, but loaded, of course, with all those vitamins I'm supposed to drink for a happy, healthy life.

Wait a minute. What if I simmered up all those lovely veg I love: spinach, arugula, and my new discovery of turnip greens ( which turns out to be THE super green) and well, why not add a big handful of parsley? Yum, yum, yum! Add a spoonful or two of that leftover rice and some good-for-you herbs and a dash of hot sauce? That would do, wouldn't it?

Such a lovely way to start the day, don't you think?

Makes two big smoothies.

1/2 a peeled onion, cut up
1 T. olive oil
2 cups beef, chicken, or vegetable broth
1/4 t. thyme
pinch of nutmeg
a small sprig of rosemary, de-stemmed
two drops of hot sauce (optional)
2 1/2 cups packed greens ( I sliced up turnip greens, arugula, and spinach today)
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
1-2 T. leftover rice (optional)
freshly ground pepper to taste

Gently saute the onion in the olive oil in a medium saucepan for 5 minutes.
Add the broth, herbs and nutmeg, greens, and rice and cook until the greens wilt down completely. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes, then puree in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree completely.(Note: I'm not sure the rice is necessary to thicken the smoothie, so you can skip it if you want)
Serve in glasses or mugs.

Enjoy your beautiful day!

PS/ I didn't notice any bitterness with the turnip greens, perhaps because they were very fresh and barely cooked for this recipe ( as read in the Whole Foods comment section on turnip greens).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

rosemary bread

Happy November! I hope all your goblins, witches, and hobbits enjoyed their loot - I had not a one trick or treater, but then again, the roads are still icy and slippery after the snowstorm, so it didn't surprise me.

It's been a long time since I made our favorite rosemary bread. The last time I made it there was something tough about the bread, so I decided to reduce the amount of milk in this traditional Italian bread - success. It came out beautifully! This is a soft white bread, which I think you could tinker with if you prefer a mix of grains, just don't forget the fresh rosemary! The extra virgin olive oil adds a nice flavor to the bread, so try not to substitute.

To make one 8 or 9 inch round:

1 1/2 t. rapid rise yeast (I use Fleischmann's)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup warm water, mixed together
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 really heaping tablespoon of roughly chopped fresh rosemary
1 t. kosher salt
3 1/4 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
oats for sprinkling on the baking sheet
coarse sea salt for sprinkling on top of the bread - or you can use flaked salt if you have it.

Stir the yeast into the 1/2 cup lukewarm water in mixer bowl and let sit 15 minutes.
Stir in the half water/half milk, the salt, the rosemary, and the olive oil and mix.
Add the flour and mix until combined. It shouldn't be dry, but it shouldn't be too wet either.
Remove ball of dough and briefly knead, adding a little flour if it's too sticky.
Drizzle mixer bowl with olive oil, then roll the ball in the oil, covering all sides.

Turn your oven on briefly, then turn off, just so the oven is barely warm.
Make sure the oven is off!
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and place in oven until the dough has doubles - usually around 40 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the oven and knead bread, then form into a round.
Sprinkle a handful of oats on the baking sheet, then set the bread onto the baking sheet.
Place in a warm place ( or the still barely warm oven that is OFF) and let rise until almost doubled in size.

Remove dough, preheat oven to 400F.
Gently slash an X on top of the loaf, then spritz with water and scatter a few tablespoons of coarse salt on top.
Bake for about 30-34 minutes, or until top is golden and the bread feels light and hollow.
Let cool on a rack before cutting - if you can wait!

Enjoy the first day of November - can you believe it's already here?