Sunday, December 21, 2014

Spicy Mushrooms, a versatile side dish

Spicy Mushrooms
Guess what? I'm not going to talk your ear off today. You're busy. I'm busy. I can count the days until Christmas on one hand (with leftover fingers). I can just picture some of you raising your hands in praise. In lieu of waxing poetic, I'm going to share an easy side dish with you. It would be a welcome accompaniment at any holiday table.

The reason I love these spicy mushrooms so much is that they go great with so many things. Sure, you can scoop them straight into your mouth, but I love spooning big helpings over green beans, roast beef or steak, chicken, or turkey. They're even good atop a tall mound of mashed potatoes.

So, if you're looking for a vegan side dish with a little oomph to add to your table, look no further than these tender mushrooms combined with roasted tomatoes, garlic, and chiles!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ginger and Rye Truffles #BoozyTruffles

This is a sponsored post written by me on half of Templeton Rye and Simply Organic on behalf of The Baddish Group. All opinions are my own.
Ginger and Rye Boozy Truffles
My grandparents have a turntable cabinet in their kitchen, and I was fascinated by it when I was little. It's where they kept boxes of cereal, snacks...and liquor bottles. I didn't really think anything of it, but it gives me a good giggle now. I suppose we use our space the best we know how.

The liquor bottles always stayed in the same spot (that I knew of) until the holidays rolled around, then they were pulled out and set on the counter with a big bottle of gingerale. I know now that those were bottles of whiskey.

On the other side of the counter were plates and extra tins full of chocolates, candies, and cookies that my grandma had made all week long. The family would gather at my grandparent's house, chocolate and whiskey-ginger cocktails in the appropriate hands as the day wore on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The cast of The Wanderer's Children talks FOOD! (plus Chocolate Soufflés and a fun giveaway)

Heads-up—this is a lengthy feature, but it includes a review, an interview, a sinfully delicious chocolate soufflé recipe, a 50% book discount code, and a ridiculously cool giveaway. If you could carve 10-15 minutes out of your day for a little escape, I'd love it if you'd take that escape with me here today.
Chocolate Soufflés
I love finding a good book series.  Sometimes I "discover" them late in the game and come home from the library with a stack of them—because I have to start from the beginning (I'm the same way with tv series). Other times I'm lucky and discover them from book one. That's what happened with The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles by L.G. O'Connor. Now, at first I wasn't so sure. That hesitation had nothing to do with the fantasy or paranormal aspect of the books—angels, demons, and looking beyond are a draw in my book. It was the romance part of the equation I wasn't so sure about.

Before I read Trinity Stones, I'd never read a romance novel in my (at the time) 38 years. I just never had any interest in them. My experience with them only goes as far as standing in front of the small bookshelf at the supermarket when I was in elementary school. I'd study the men with muscles defined under their flowing shirts, long hair whipped back in an unseen wind. I was fascinated, yet I can't remember ever picking one up and flipping through it. I'd reach for a Stephen King novel instead. But apparently, I don't mind a little paranormal romance. Though I do still feel like I need to read it when the kids are in bed or at school (or look over my shoulder the whole time...because everybody knows kids magically appear there at the most inopportune times).

Nine months ago I stumbled into the world of the Angelorum not knowing what to expect. And like so many times before, I've been mentally willing the author to write faster! I love to savor a new book in a series, but have a hard time not just devouring it after the wait. Book two did not disappoint. O'Connor introduces us to a few new members of "the twelve" in this book. There are actually a sizeable number of characters (aka cast members)—but the story calls for it. In book one, we were introduced to Cara and Simon. I'd consider them the main characters. Michael, Sienna, Kai, and a several others were also introduced, but seemed to be more supporting characters. In this book, Michael and Sienna come to the forefront and we get to know more about what makes them tick. Kai, Brett, Angel, Paco...all of their stories are simmering on the backburner, as well...waiting to have their turn in future books.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pickled Cranberries and a Dirty Cranberry Gibson

Pickled Cranberries and a Dirty Cranberry Gibson
The cranberry-madness still has a hold on me. I seriously can't enough. Anytime time I make something, I stop to wonder if cranberries would go well in it. Over the years, I've always had at least two or three bags of cranberries in my freezer at any given time. Right now I have zero, and it's making me a little uneasy. I'm worried that next time I go to the market, they'll be all gone—that I'll have missed my chance for the season.

Since that hasn't happened yet, I'm just gonna go with the flow. So,  you know how Food Network Magazine has those awesome little inserts every month? They have titles like "50 Pies", "50 Potato Salads", "50 Super Bowl Snacks", "50 Smoothies", "50 Things to Make with Bacon"... those may be my favorite part of the whole magazine. I have a ton of them (okay, not a ton—but at least 27) stacked on my working bookshelf. They full of great ideas and inspiration. You probably know where I'm going with this.

Yes, there was one on cranberries. It was in the November '14 issue, and titled (surprisingly) "50 Things to Make with Cranberries".  I'm thinking of trying all 50. Maybe that will make my little obsession disappear. Today, I'm checking two off the list—pickled cranberries, and the cocktail that they tumble perfectly into.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pomegranate Salad - Sharing Morocco blog tour

Pomegranate Salad
Are you knee-deep in holiday sweets yet? Since it's already two weeks into December, that scenario is almost impossible to avoid. It can be easy to forget that life is not all about the butter...the sugar...the chocolate...the glacé fruit (okay, maybe nobody ever thinks it's about the glacé fruit). That is why I'm sharing this salad with you today. Okay, that and the fact that I'm today's stop for the Sharing Morocco blog tour!

The thing is, looking at this salad, you don't necessarily think healthy. You think beautiful—or at least I do. The deep, rich reds and greens that come straight from the earth rather than a tube. Busting out this salad in the middle of the holiday madness is like bringing home somebody to meet your family for the first time. Everybody's nervous and wondering if they'll fit in. But instead of being awkward, it's like they were supposed to have been there all along. They just fit.

Aside from the colors that just scream winter, I think it has a lot to do with the addition of lightly candied nuts and nature's own little sugar bursts, dates. This salad is just one of the many vibrant dishes lining the pages of the new (released in October) cookbook by Ruth Barnes, otherwise known as The Petite Gourmande.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Beyond the Cranberry Sauce: Over 100 Cranberry Recipe Ideas!

Beyond the Cranberry Sauce: Over 100 Cranberry Recipe Ideas!
I'm currently enamored of cranberries. Is that an odd thing to say? It's just that before now, I liked them, I looked forward to making cranberry sauce for the Thanksgiving table. I usually have a container of dried ones in the pantry, and an extra package or two of fresh in the freezer. Every once in a while, I drink a vodka and cranberry. But for the most part, I didn't think much about them.

I'm like that, though. Something that I overlooked (and probably took for granted) will suddenly captivate my attention. Like now, it's all cranberries, all day. I'll be looking for other recipes, imagining other meals, and before I know it, I'm pinning cranberry recipe ideas like a madwoman. It's a constant battle within. I've just learned to go with it.

I have a few cranberry recipes on the horizon, and I'll be sharing those soon, but today I'm bringing you a definitive (for now) round-up of some amazing recipes featuring this little bush-dwelling, mouth-puckering red orb. I recently asked some of my fellow food bloggers if they'd share some of their own cranberry recipes with me. For the most part, the recipes you find below are all delicious ways to use fresh cranberries that go BEYOND THE CRANBERRY SAUCE—but I'm also including a few sauce recipes (because I do love it), and some of the recipes make use of the dried berries.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Roasted Grapes with Thyme

Roasted Grapes with Thyme
I went back and forth for a few days trying to decide whether or not to share this recipe today. I mean, it's roasted grapes—that's it. Simple to make, no big frills, no huge backstory. Just roasted grapes. For all I know, I was the last person on the face of the earth to actually make (or try) them. I've seen them floating around in one form or another for a number of years now. I've been meaning to make a batch. I finally did. They're everything I thought they would be. I didn't roast them alongside a chicken or a pork roast. I didn't press them into any focaccia dough. I didn't toss them with some perfectly cooked tender grains. They're just grapes, but they're totally worth sharing. Because maybe I wasn't the last person in the world to try them.

It's usually the simple pleasures that delight me the most. I'm constantly amazed by the product of time and temperature. Slowly simmering fruit and a bit of spice can yield a jar of rich, silky fruit butter (like this Cardamom Pear Butter). Roasting broccoli and cauliflower takes both of those humble veggies to a whole different level. Pureed fruit and a low, slow heat produces chewy and sweet fruit leather. Duck legs wiling the day away in a bath produce meat so meltingly tender it just falls into your fingers at the lightest touch (like these Asian-inspired Braised Duck Legs). Nothing more than time, steady heat, and its own rendered fat can turn pork into the most flavorful Carnitas you'll ever taste.  It's kind of amazing.