Thursday, November 25, 2010

thanksgiving wish list

Happy Thanksgiving readers! I hope you are all having wonderful, relaxing and food-filled days. I know that my day has been super busy prepping the meal but it has been a blast! My only wish list item today is that you all have a beautiful day and get to eat delicious foods.

Also, I wanted to share something from my mom. She has a blog, "Writing Out Loud" and just wrote an essay titled "Live Thanks" so you should definitely check it out.

Check back in the coming days for pictures from today's meal. Now, time to eat!

Monday, November 22, 2010

thanksgiving week

I don't know about all of you wonderful readers but I know that I am so excited for this week! I love Thanksgiving and everything that it entails. Friends and family and eating and drinking, what more could you ask for. It's also when I start to crank the holiday tunes (get ready, Mom).

You may remember last year when Tony and I hosted Thanksgiving at our place in Brooklyn and it was the first time that I was in charge of all of that food. Well this year I will be at it again but in my family's kitchen in Connecticut. I've been planning a menu with some new variations on good ol' standbys as well as some yummy treats we will never get rid of. And since there won't be a standard sweet potato casserole at this dinner I decided to make one for myself last weekend (above). It was so delicious! I will keep you all posted on this year's feast with pics and recipes!

Friday, November 19, 2010

being kind

A wonderful and new thing happened to me the other day. I received a comment on a post from someone I didn't know. I know of him because I have read about him and I wrote about him. It was Andy Smallman, the founder of the Puget Sound Community School, which offers "kindness classes." What a thrill it was to hear from someone that I wrote about. It felt amazing realizing that my words can really reach people (thanks Google Alert!). I have really enjoyed incorporating our kindness "assignments" and hope that you readers have liked it as well.

This week I am borrowing one from Mr. Smallman's course: Be Kind to Yourself. With the holidays upon us it is easy to eat too much, drink too much, spend too much, and to become exhausted with all of your social obligations. But sometimes we forget to care for ourselves. So this week's task is to do something kind for yourself, take care of yourself, before the whirlwind of this holiday season begins. A nice meal or a yoga class or a massage (doesn't that sound lovely) could be just what your body and soul need.

Be Kind!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

thursday wish list

While I do love cold weather there is one thing I don't like about the approaching cooler months: dry hands. I don't remember always being afflicted with such a problem but in the past couple of years it has been troublesome. And with even more hand-washing in the kitchen it's even more necessary to find something that can quench that dryness and make my hands soft and "holdable."

When I found the L'Occitane Hand Cream and read all of the glowing reviews I knew it had to make it's way to the wish list. I know I'm not the only one who pines for nice 'n soft hands whether it be warm or cold!

a very martha weekend

Remember how I did a craft project a couple of weeks ago and then promised to put up some images? Well here they are! It was the Sunday following Gluten-Free night and my sister-in-law and I were walking along 7th Avenue in Park Slope when I spotted a rather sad but could-be useful bookshelf at the flea market. It just needed some love and paint. I got Tony over to approve the purchase and then we made our way to True Value to grab our supplies and then head back to the apartment. The only problem was that I promised to make an applesauce cake too! What was I to do!? I decided to channel my inner Martha. Martha (Stewart that is) seems to be able to do it all. She can craft and bake and cook all at once so why couldn't I? I enlisted the help of Christina for the sanding prep work which was simply amazing of her to do while I got my cake mixed and ready. In the chilly weather, cake in the oven, we proceeded to put on 3 coats of paint and get it to an even pretty blue.

I felt pretty proud of that day, making a tasty cake and re-painting a flea market find into a cute addition to our living room. Thanks Tony and Christina (and Martha too)!

food heaven

Walking along 23rd Street in the Flatiron area of NYC you wouldn't know that you were so close to heaven. Food heaven that is. And I guess it's not food heaven for everyone. But it kind of was for me. Walking into Eataly I was immediately presented with beautiful delicious looking produce. I don't like eggplant but I wanted eggplant from there simply because it was so pretty. I picked up some carrots to roast later that evening and then kept on moving. With each turn I found something else that would make my mouth water. People were beginning to take their seats for lunch as I headed towards one of the two areas that I had my eye on.

Bread is such a simple pleasure for me. Whether it is consumed with cheese or olive oil or butter or jam, it is comforting and sometimes the only thing I need. There were samples of focaccia with olive oil and sea salt placed in baskets on the counter and one of the most helpful men behind the counter. I picked up a warm rustic loaf and hugged it close, moving to the next necessary stop in this wonderland...cheese (because if you get some bread you obviously need some cheese). I found the sign directing me to the specific kind I was searching for, Grana Padano. How happy was I, with bread and cheese and carrots in hand!? I walked out along the sweets aisle wishing I had both the time and the dairy pills to stop for some gelato, but alas, that would have to wait for another day.

I hope that if you, like me, love breads and cheese and pasta and fresh produce and tons of other things, that you get the opportunity to enjoy the splendors of Eataly.

buon appetito!

Friday, November 12, 2010

kindness homework

One benefit of doing all of this cooking, while it has been wonderful for me, has also been how much Tony appreciates it. I'm getting a chance to do something that I enjoy but sometimes it can just make someone's day and you end up feeling even better. Our homework for this week is to make someone something to eat. Sometimes it's one of the nicest things that you can do.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! New York is supposed to be super pretty and great weather for farmer's markets and pie bake-offs!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

who wants pie?

While perusing my daily Tasting Table NYC email today I came across an event that sounds, well, yummy. This weekend is the "2nd Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off Benefit." With awesome food, beverages, judges, and a good cause, it sounds like a very appealing way to spend a Sunday. Just 10 bucks and you get several pie tickets and bevvies (milk and beer). It's this Sunday from 1-4pm at Spacecraft. Hope to see you there!

thursday wish list

Since I couldn't choose this week I decided to add three items to our on-going holiday wish list! And why choose...these are all great.

The first is a new book from Amanda Hesser: The Essential New York Times Cookbook. From what I have heard this book is incredibly comprehensive and a must-have. I would love to spend some time cooking my way through it!

Next item is something that I found myself pining for each time I stand in front of the sink, slightly hunched over, peeling apples. And with all of the applesauce (and applesauce cakes) I long to make I bet the Apple Peeler/Corer from Williams-Sonoma is a necessary tool to have in our kitchen.

Finally, I have myself a little camera crush. I also have a crush on all of these amazing food photography blogs that I stumble upon each day which lead to me wishing I could take such lovely shots in our own kitchen. So we're adding the Canon PowerShot G12 to the list as well! A good blogger camera before getting into DSLR territory.

What's else is on everyone's wish lists this year?

(images above from,, and B&H Photo)

yummy and gluten free

In the past year my sister-in-law was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which means no more wheat, barley or rye. As a budding cook, and Italian, this was beyond disappointing. What about pasta, and holiday cookies!? But not one to let this condition get in the way of eating great foods (thank goodness cheese isn't on the list) we have been experimenting with gluten free meals in our home.

This past weekend she and I were looking forward to a couple of days of sitting. No plans were made except to make some food. We made my mom's Mac & Cheese and subbed in brown rice pasta shells and all purpose gluten-free flour and roasted some brussel sprouts in Old Bay seasoning to add a much-needed vegetable. I also introduced her to deviled eggs and much to my surprise, and delight, she liked them! A little something about my husband and sister-in-law: they hate mayo! Everything about it. I wouldn't say I love it but I do like what it can add to a deviled egg or pasta salad or sandwich. It wasn't until recently that I finally put my foot down and started keeping it in the refrigerator again. And to have it on hand just in case you want to make a couple of deviled eggs, well that's just wonderful.

I hesitated on posting about this past weekend's food fun as, shamefully, I forgot to take any pictures! But just know that it looked amazing in the way that homemade macaroni and cheese should. When it's just out of the oven and the cheesy mix is still bubbling and when you finally take your first bite and realize that there is even more cheese hiding in the shell...delicious. And our roasted brussel spouts were truly a perfect complement.

On Sunday our adventure to consume only tasty things continued and we walked to Java Joe to get some pumpkin spice coffee. I usually indulge frequently in pumpkin spice coffee from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters during the fall into winter but it had been sold out online for some time. I was so pleased to stumble upon a local shop that carried this cozy sign of the holidays for me.

Next week I will be posting some images that I actually did take from last weekend of an impromptu craft project!

Friday, November 5, 2010

"think globally, act locally"

It's such a nice idea...and also your next assignment readers! One nice thing that we can all do is support our local farmers wherever we are. This week seek out a farmer's market and support a local farmer, whether you are buying veggies, fruits, cheese, breads or whatever it is your kitchen needs. Eating fresh and seasonal foods means this assignment benefits you as well! And you get to meet the people that are making everything. In my opinion the fall is such a great time to visit your local farmer's market when the air is crisp and you can get a warm cider in your hands as you peruse the beautiful treats that all came from nearby. And even if you don't have a farmer's market close then find some local goods at your grocery store, many will stock items from local vendors.

Have a beautiful weekend!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

wish list

The holidays are upon us and with this new-found enjoyment in the kitchen I am experiencing (and loving) I figured I would start putting together a little wish list. This is by no means just for me. I hope that all of the items that I will share are ones that you can all incorporate into or pine for in your own lives.

The first one on the list is a book, but not just any book. Since I don't believe I will be attending a culinary school I can't see a better way to learn some much-needed basics, techniques and recipes than from Martha Stewart's Cooking School. And really, who better to teach me than Ms. Stewart herself. Even better, I could be at home with a glass of wine while learning these lessons!

(image from serious eats)

mmmm....good food is good

This was a funny article by "fork in the road" writer Rebecca Marx that I read earlier and it's very true. When you're writing about food what are some other adjectives you can use? Especially for something that you want to give a thumbs up to? Some of the ones that these Village Voice writers came up with are definitely soon-to-be-used alternatives. I guess I will just have to start getting creative and while the adjectives will be made-up at times you'll still get where I'm going with it, hopefully!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

more tasty pictures...

As promised I am putting up a couple of new pictures from the whirlwind of baking and cooking this past weekend. I was so disappointed when I realized that we didn't take any pictures of the gingersnap rosemary cookies. They were done on a whim and ended up being so good! The lemon butter I made to go with them, not so good.

The prep pictures were for the pumpkin bread pudding. I have never made a bread pudding before and have only started sampling them in the past couple of years. But I assumed that anything that combines pumpkin and challah bread has got to be awesome, and it is. For this dessert I made a maple whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream and then 3 tablespoons maple syrup from my friend's farm...and then more to taste) and toasted some pecans with cinnamon, such a lovely combination! The pecans also doubled as a pretty and yummy topping on the applesauce cake the next day for breakfast.

In the spirit of my friend Kristin's and my belief that a couple of drinks during recreational cooking opens up your creativity I decided that it was time to break open the Pimm's. It was, after all, a holiday. And though my Pimm's wasn't an official "Pimm's Cup" as I had no cucumber it definitely got the job done and got me in the mood to peel some brussel sprouts. I know what you're saying to yourself, "peel a brussel sprout...Annie, that's not what you do silly!" But to cook them up and combine them with couscous it's exactly what you do. And the leaves look so pretty all pulled apart.

It was all so much fun getting these foods together for our dinner on Saturday night. With all of this cooking I have been so motivated and inspired to try new things and when I get home I just want to make an awesome dinner! Once we get into the habit of taking pictures of everything made in our kitchen I'll be sure to share them with you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

halloween weekend

Happy Belated Halloween, readers! I hope you all had yourselves an amazing weekend, in costume or not. I was, of course, the latter. But even without costumes we had so much fun with cooking, baking, and eating! Saturday started out with a trip to the Grand Army Plaza GreenMarket, which was filled with kids getting a head start on dressing up and then another billion people stocking up on fresh produce, cheeses, breads and last-minute pumpkins. With my list in hand I got down to business and only picked up one or two unnecessary items because sometimes it's just too hard to pass up a beautiful head of yellow broccoli. Challah bread for the Pumpkin Bread Pudding, brussel sprouts to go with the couscous and some extra apples just in case when I was making applesauce. The unsweetened applesauce was of course for my most favorite treat of the weekend...spiced applesauce cake from Smitten Kitchen (pictured above for Sunday morning breakfast). The cake itself was delicious, but coupled with the cinnamon frosting, come on! Since I still have some of the applesauce I'm sure I'll be making another one of these this week.

Tony and I were at a dinner party Saturday night, with treats in tow, and I found that I am already going to have to contradict an earlier statement I made here. I now not only eat just turkey in the meat department. Our friends Mike and Jackie made us an amazing ham! It had such a lovely glaze and had been roasted with cloves, I just couldn't say no! With side dishes of cauliflower (the yellow included) and Kristin's Mac & Cheese we were all left totally satisfied. Thanks guys for such an awesome night!

For the day of Halloween I was so excited to be in Park Slope to see all of the little kidderoos dressed up and dress up they did! After I turned out a mushroom lasagna and rosemary cookies for the football game my friend Amy and I scooted down to the street with a bowl of candy. I'm never sure if anyone will come to our door (they didn't) so I'm so glad we got out there where all of the kids were. A couple of favorites: An amazing little Michael Jackson and a piece of pizza.

Later I'll get some more pictures up of all of the foods that came out of the kitchen this weekend but I hope you all got to see some awesome ghouls, goblins or Michael Jacksons and enjoy the last weekend of October because now we're getting into serious holiday season, hooray!!