Friday, November 21, 2014

Mini Cranberry Tarts

My mom has such a generous heart. Mel’s kitchen has always been open-invite, for any meal, any holiday, any time of year. If you need a place to eat at Thanksgiving, she’ll never turn you away, and you’ll always leave happy, with a full belly.

Mini Cranberry Tarts // Loves Food, Loves to Eat This year’s Thanksgiving will be no different in that regard. In fact, we’ll have a very full house. There will be one very important person missing this year, but we’re hoping to fill our hearts (and my mom’s home) as much as possible by surrounding ourselves with friends. Lots of friends. Like… around 20 people.

Mini Cranberry Tarts // Loves Food, Loves to Eat Our Thanksgiving dinner has never been a formal affair. We don’t have place cards at the table, we don’t care if you wear sweat pants (honestly, why wouldn’t you go for the elastic waistband!?), and we don’t have rules about what items to put on the buffet and what items to put on the table. This Thanksgiving etiquette article? Go ahead and read it, and then forget everything you read, because it doesn’t apply at my family’s turkey day celebration. The only rules are that Mel makes the mashed potatoes, Amanda doesn’t make the deviled eggs (she has a problem with over-mustarding things), and that everyone laughs and eats and eats and eats.

Mini Cranberry Tarts // Loves Food, Loves to Eat This year, with so many guests, I think it will be even more casual. Everyone is bringing a dish or two, there will be seating at the table, counter, couch, floor. And… we’re having a bonfire! I figured that with such a laid-back but also busy and crowded Thanksgiving, it would be good to add some quick finger food snacks to the menu—things that can be eaten standing up, without a plate. Enter: mini cranberry pies!

Mini Cranberry Tarts // Loves Food, Loves to Eat These little bite sized beauties are tart, buttery, and just a little bit sweet. They’re also really simple, with a quick dough (no chilling, no rolling), and an equally quick filling of fresh cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and lemon juice. If you like things a little sweeter, then by all means, up the sugar or top with some sweetened whipped cream.

Mini Cranberry Tarts // Loves Food, Loves to Eat PS. This is my first baking project and photo shoot in Evan and my new place! Look at all that light! Ignore the makeshift staging area, and focus on all that beautiful light! 

Mini Cranberry Tarts

1.5 cups flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1.5 sticks)
3 ounces of cream cheese, softened (the 8 oz packages have easy measurement lines on the foil)
Pinch salt
2 heaping cups fresh cranberries 
1/2 cup sugar
juice from half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 325. 

For dough, mix together flour, butter, cream cheese, and salt until combined into a ball. Divide into 24 equal sized balls. 

Press each ball into an ungreased mini muffin pan, pressing evenly up the sides as well.

For filling, chop cranberries in a food processor, and toss with remaining ingredients. Spoon filing into each dough cup. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until dough is just slightly golden. Loosen tarts by running knife along inside of muffin cup, and let cool before removing. 

Adapted from this recipe 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pumpkin Cream Pie

I’m back… and with PIE!

Pumpkin Cream Pie // Loves Food, Loves to Eat A lot has happened around here in the last couple of months, and I struggled a little with how I wanted to come back, and what I wanted to say. In the wake of so much sadness (my dad passing) and so much joy (my wedding), I just couldn’t seem to put pen to paper (or…fingers to keyboard) about food.

Pumpkin Cream Pie // Loves Food, Loves to Eat Also…grief and stress can do weird things to you, appetite wise. For weeks I was sick to my stomach and couldn’t eat, then I had a few weeks of eating all the chocolate and donuts in the land, followed by a brief stint just before the wedding where I seriously forgot how to cook.

Pumpkin Cream Pie // Loves Food, Loves to Eat I didn’t know if I should talk to you about my dad, because sometimes he’s all I can think about…but ultimately, I decided that should wait—I’m not really ready for that here. And then, my wedding! And honeymoon! I have so much to share with you, but I’m waiting until we have all the photos back from our (amazing) wedding photographer. That will come soon enough. Here's a sneak peek. 

Pumpkin Cream Pie // Loves Food, Loves to Eat So, in the meantime, I knew I needed a conversation starter… but I just felt… lost. And then, I saw this pie. Now THAT is a conversation starter! I knew immediately that I wanted to adapt it for Thanksgiving, and for a few days, it was all I could think about. I seriously stared at pictures of this pie for a week. This pie reminded me why I love cooking and blogging. It inspired me to get in the kitchen and create something. To wipe the dust off my camera. Oh, and also… it’s really good.

Pumpkin Cream Pie // Loves Food, Loves to Eat The original pie is a peanut butter cream pie, but the moment I saw it, pumpkin cream pie was all I could think about. I’m not the biggest fan of standard pumpkin pie, but fluffy, creamy, cool, whipped pumpkin pie, with a cream cheese base!? Yeah, that I can get behind! And let’s not forget the chocolate crust (with chocolate shell layer!) and bourbon maple whipped cream topping! It’s not overly pumpkiny and texturally, it’s pretty fun. You have the contrast of the looser bourbon maple whip, the creamy, tangy pumpkin filling, and then the crunchy chocolate crust. I think your Thanksgiving dessert table could use one more addition, don’t you? 

Pumpkin Cream Pie // Loves Food, Loves to Eat PS. I missed you guys!

Pumpkin Cream Pie with Chocolate Crust and Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream
Adapted from this recipe

1 cup chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (I used half a sleeve of the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer cookies, in crumb form)
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Just under 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces (chunks, chips, etc)

Pie Filling
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 package cream cheese (8oz), at room temp
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling—the only ingredient should be pumpkin)

Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon
1.5 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350.

Make the crust: Combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add butter, and stir until combined. Pour into 9-inch pie dish, and press tightly into bottom and sides with your hands. Bake 13 to 15 minutes—it might be puffed up right when you take it out, but it will fall a little when it cools. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Melt chocolate pieces (in double boiler or microwave) and pour into cooled crust. gently spread evenly on bottom of crust. Let cool completely before filling (helps harden chocolate shell if you put in fridge to cool, but wait until pie dish is no longer warm to refrigerate).

Make the filling: With a stand mixer, hand mixer, or if you’re really buff, a whisk, beat the cream until it holds medium-hard peaks. If using a stand mixer, transfer to a separate medium-sized bowl.
In the same stand mixer bowl (with the paddle attachment) beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract, spices, and mix well. Beat in the pumpkin puree until smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the whipped cream, a quarter at a time, until mixture is well combined but still light and fluffy. 

Spoon the filling into the fully cooled, prepared crust, and smooth top. Loosely cover and chill up to 4 hours or overnight.

Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream: Beat the cream, bourbon, and maple syrup until it holds soft peaks. 

Just before serving, top pie with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and serve each piece with a heavy dollop of bourbon-maple whipped cream. Let the pie sit at room temp for a minute, to make cutting through the chocolate shell a bit easier. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Moment

Hey friends, you may have noticed some silence around here.

My dad—one of the funniest, coolest, most vibrant and charming troublemakers I've ever met—passed away two weeks ago.  

Things may continue to be quieter around here while I’ll take a moment to figure out how, for the first time in my 29 years, to live in a world that he isn’t in…while simultaneously putting final touches on Evan and my wedding, which is just 4 weeks away.

I’ll be back when the inspiration strikes, maybe in a week, maybe post honey-moon. But in the meantime, I wanted to let you know I’m not going anywhere, and I hope you’ll stick around too!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Peach + Cilantro Sodas

Hey friends! Sorry for being MIA! I've been so busy! I had Ragnar*, then went backpacking, then flew to Sonoma for my bachelorette party(!), then got sick, then blah blah blah yadda yadda etcetera etcetera PEACH + CILANTRO SODA! 

Peach + Cilantro Sodas // Loves Food, Loves to Eat Last weekend we saw Book of Mormon, the musical (so good), then went to dinner at Terra Plata afterward, where I had an amazing house-made peach cilantro soda (plus a million other delicious things). I've been dreaming about that soda since Saturday you guys. Fizzy, peachy, and not-too-sweet with juuuuust a hint of cilantro in the background. Such a small hint that you can tell something herbaceous is goin on, but you might not even guess right away what it is. Unless you're one of those crazy cilantro-tastes-like-soap people, then maybe you'll figure it out immediately. But really, if you are one of those people, you probably don't want to drink a peach + cilantro soda anyway. 

Peach + Cilantro Sodas // Loves Food, Loves to Eat If you aren't one of those cilantro-tastes-like-soap people, then you should probably definitely make this. It's easy and summery, and I won't even try to stop you from adding bourbon. Or rum. Or gin. Or even vodka, if that's your thing. 

Peach + Cilantro Sodas // Loves Food, Loves to Eat Cheers! I missed you guys! Summer is super busy and wedding countdown craziness is in full effect, but I promise I'm not abandoning you. Now, go make some bourbons! I mean, sodas!

Peach + Cilantro Sodas // Loves Food, Loves to Eat *PS. In that video on the Ragnar NWP page, see those crazies in sumo suits at 28 seconds in!? Yeah, that's my team! I'm giving a power-fist in the background with a hulk-hand. NBD. 

Peach + Cilantro Soda
Makes about 4 large glasses

5 ripe peaches, rinsed and halved, pits removed
1/3 cup cilantro (not chopped-- a small handful)
Juice from 1 lemon
1.5 tablespoons agave 
Soda water

Add peaches, cilantro, lemon, and agave to blender, and blend until smooth. In a Vitamix it gets super smooth, but if you have tiny chunks thats ok! Taste, and add a bit more sweetener or lemon if you desire - it will be diluted from the soda water, so keep that in mind. Fill your glass just over 1/3rd full with peach mix, the next third with ice, and top off with soda water. Stir and serve! Note: It may start to separate a bit, just give it another stir. 

Store extra peach mix in fridge. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Smoked Salmon Dip | #SoLetsPigOut

It's summer, bikinis are overrated, and it stays light out super late. So….LET’S PIG OUT. But seriously. #SoLet’sPigOut is a virtual potluck hosted by two super cool gals, Emily and Gina. It’s basically a rad excuse to get together with some of the coolest people on the internet-block/planet for a midsummer celebration of the season's finest eats. I’m talkin’ apps, snacks, desserts, entrees, drinks…all the recipes you need for a really great summer potluck, from 25 awesome food bloggers. I’m bringing the smoked salmon dip!

Smoked Salmon Dip #SoLetsPigOut // Loves Food, Loves to Eat Thick, creamy, smoky, delicious. This dip is a staple in my family. My mom has been making it my entire life.

Smoked Salmon Dip #SoLetsPigOut // Loves Food, Loves to Eat My hometown is nestled in between the Columbia River and the Klickitat River, bordering towns with names like Trout Lake and White Salmon, so needless to say, there was a lot of fish in my childhood. Like, a lot of fish. My parents were pretty avid fishermen (fisherman & fisherwoman? fisher-people?) when I was growing up, especially during salmon season. Amanda and I refer to one summer of our lives as “The Summer Mom and Dad had OCFD.” That’s obsessive compulsive fishing disorder, in case you were wondering. We were middle school aged, so old enough to be home alone, but too young to drive. Did I mention we lived in the middle of nowhere, miles away from friends? Oh, and we only had 5 tv channels? And this was before internet-at-home? Yeah, we really had to use our imaginations back then.

Smoked Salmon Dip #SoLetsPigOut // Loves Food, Loves to Eat So anyway, Mel & John were out salmon fishing from sun up to sun down every single day (ok, maybe they worked too, who knows?), leaving Amanda and I to fend for ourselves. Maybe that’s where I learned to love cooking? Survival, I tell you. She and I both remember the cupboards being bare that summer, but that’s probably just our memories playing tricks on us—if you saw my parents’ cupboards you’d understand why that probably wasn't true...I think they’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse. But about the salmon: we literally got tired of salmon. It’s the one thing we remember eating that summer. We basically lived off of my dad’s hot-smoked-canned salmon, grilled salmon (either Jamaican jerk rubbed or mayo-seasoning salt rubbed, which by the way, makes the best grilled salmon ever), and batches of Mel’s salmon dip (made from leftover grilled salmon and/or salmon that she cooked just to make dip).

Smoked Salmon Dip #SoLetsPigOut // Loves Food, Loves to Eat Now, of course, I realize how lucky we were. What I wouldn’t give for unlimited salmon that doesn’t cost a month’s rent! Leftover salmon? Please. These days I make Mel’s salmon dip with store bought canned salmon, because you better believe if I’m forking out a full paycheck for fresh fish, I’m grilling it and eating it all in one sitting right then and there. Luckily, Mel’s dip recipe has some secret ingredients that give the illusion of tons of super smoky smoked salmon, without actually using smoked salmon. Genius, that woman! 

Smoked Salmon Dip #SoLetsPigOut // Loves Food, Loves to Eat This recipe is also super simple and comes together in the blink of an eye, which means you'll have extra time to make other #SoLetsPigOut potluck recipes! YES! Check out the recipes at The Pig & Quill and So…Let's Hang Out

Mel's Smoked Salmon Dip

We have lots of good canned salmon in the PNW, but if you can't find anything local, I've found the Trader Joe's canned salmon is pretty good! Just avoid anything that has skin with it, no bueno. Use 2 6oz cans, or equivalent cooked salmon. For fun, I bought a little 2 oz chunk of smoked salmon and mixed that in as well. You can serve with any crackers or veggies, but the classic summer-of-OCFD version calls for Saltine crackers. 

2 6oz cans salmon, drained
2 oz chunck of smoked salmon (optional)
1 8oz brick cream cheese, softened to room temp
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish sauce (more or less, depending on preference)
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

Stir everything together until fully combined. That's it! Add more lemon juice or liquid smoke if you desire. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. 

PS. I knew making this dip look pretty would be a challenge. The quickest way to tell if food looks gross? Have a second grader take it to school for lunch and see how many kids make fun of it and are grossed out by it. Yep, I was that second grader you guys. In the end I was the lucky one with this dip in my lunch, but man, sometimes a kid just wants a Lunchable like everyone else, ya know?   

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Salad Roundup

Summer Salad Roundup // Loves Food, Loves to Eat
This weekend is two of my favorite events of the year: Ragnar Relay (my 6th year!) and Burning Beast. Next weekend we’re hiking/camping for Amanda’s birthday, and the following weekend is…wait for it… my bachelorette party weekend! In Sonoma! 

Summer Salad Roundup // Loves Food, Loves to Eat Um, also…did I mention that Evan and my wedding is in 2.5 months!? Where did the time go!? At this point, we mostly just need to pull together some last minute decorations and things. We have each other and we have the food, so that’s really all that matters in the end. Oh, but we’re having a helluva time picking out the aisle song. We love music and want it to be something special, but most of the bands we love sing about the opposite of happiness and love. Maybe you can help: I love classic rock (think CCR, Stones), bluegrass, Lana Del Rey, and Miley (don’t hate). Evan loves electronic music & Elliot Smith. Together, we’re bigtime fans of DCFC, Colin Meloy, and Neutral Milk Hotel. Annnnd, go! 

Summer Salad Roundup // Loves Food, Loves to Eat So anyway, with all I have going on lately, I’ve been living off of quick salads. Not even exciting ones. I know that’s kind of boring, but it’s true. Sometimes I toss some chicken on the grill and then put that in the salad, or maybe I’ll throw the whole thing in a tortilla, and call it dinner. I’ve been so busy and it’s so warm out that I’ve just had no energy to put together a real dinner. I think Evan loves it, because it means he can eat out whatever and whenever and I just don’t care. The Korean place around the corner probably loves it too, because Evan’s been a very frequent customer (sidenote: their grilled pork & kimchi sandwich is insane, and I’ll probably need to recreate it for you sometime soon!).  

Summer Salad Roundup // Loves Food, Loves to Eat Summer’s a busy time, man. If you’re also living off salads, here’s a little inspiration from the archives:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Simple Blueberry Ice Cream

Simple Blueberry Ice Cream // Loves Food, Loves to Eat
Last weekend, Amanda, Pete, Evan and I were sitting in the sun, drinking beer. Pretty typical. And then our friend Mer showed up. Also typical. So there we were, sweating our faces off, drinking craft beers (Seattle is craft beer heaven, by the way). Aside from the sweating our faces off, this is basically what we always do. So anyway, Amanda started talking about homemade ice cream, and the next thing you know, we were all crammed into my apartment around my ice cream maker. Summer is the best. 

Simple Blueberry Ice Cream // Loves Food, Loves to Eat I love a good egg-filled custard based ice cream. All creamy and rich. But for those moments when you want homemade ice cream and you want it right now (er, well, in 20 minutes) this simple milk and cream base can't be beat. No cooking. No extra cooling or anything. The only added step here is throwing some fresh blueberries in a blender with fresh lemon juice to make a tangy, fruity, swirly mix-in. 

Simple Blueberry Ice Cream // Loves Food, Loves to Eat It's seriously so easy and basic that I almost didn't share it. But the little bites I've been sneaking from the freezer all week were enough to change my mind. 

Simple Blueberry Ice Cream
Ice cream maker required

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
Juice from 1 lemon

Whisk together cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt, and pour into your ice cream maker. Follow ice cream maker's instructions. 

While ice cream maker is doing it's thing, blend together blueberries and lemon juice. Feel free to add a little liquid sweetener if you want (like honey or agave) but I like the tang. 

Right as ice cream is almost done, add 3/4 of the blueberry mixture and continue running machine until it's mixed in. 

To eat as soft serve, top with a little additional blueberry sauce. 

To freeze for hard ice cream, pour ice cream into a freezer safe dish, and pour remaining blueberry mix on top. Swirl with a fork. Freeze until set. 

Simple Blueberry Ice Cream // Loves Food, Loves to Eat