Food and Drink

{ happy thoughts }

We spent last night and this morning following severe weather developments in our area, and I'm tired of it already.  It's scary and overwhelming, yes, but I have to think about other things or I'll go nuts.

Like... that my heart is filled joy at the outpouring of assistance and good will that Joplin is receiving in the wake of such a disaster.  And that my kitchen -- which is not done, but is close... so very close -- is mostly usable again. So I can get back in there and cook.  I've missed real food.

Last night we made Martha Stewart's Broiled Sweet and Spicy Salmon with Pineapple (thank you, Grace, for tipping me off last week.  I couldn't take it one more day without trying it).  Anything that starts with 'mix maple syrup and cayenne pepper' will get a try in my book.  It was delicious. My husband, who doesn't necessarily like to eat pineapple, liked the spicy broiled chunks of glazed fruit.   Yum...

caprese salad

The other thing that I make a lot around here is a simple caprese salad.  I'm not sure when I started doing this, but it is one of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes. Today I used some that I'd picked up extra ripe from the farmer's market and ate it over a toasted bagel.  Anything crunchy would work.  Or on it's own with a spoon.  Whatever you prefer.

I like to use all different kinds of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.  I drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add ground pepper and a pinch of ground sea salt and then... well, then I gobble it up. 

market peonies

Our small town Wednesday morning farmer's market doesn't have many stands yet, but I was also able to pick up two quarts of fresh ripe strawberries and a fistful of peonies for a song.  I cannot tell you how much these luscious pink feathery flowers have brightened my day.  :) 

We're still under a tornado watch for the rest of the evening... but I'm not going to dwell on that today.  cheers!


{ yum } grilled veggie sandwich

So with all that time spent on the couch, I developed a love of food tv.  A love?  An obsession, maybe.  Where has this been all my life?  Constant access to delicious inspiration meals and ideas combined with a whacked out appetite/nausea combination has made for some intense episode watching.  I have even set the dvr to record shows that might conflict with Blues Clues or Modern Family.

Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Or don't.  That's ok, too.

My husband can't tell if I'm torturing myself or really enjoying it.  By ten o'clock every night I want to go to the grocery store and stock my kitchen with fresh herbs, prosciutto, international cheeses and special breads and fish. 

sunday's lunch

Last weekend I could. Not. Take. It. Anymore.  And I felt good enough to spend an hour in the kitchen preparing something. 

And, oh my goodness.  I made Giada's Grilled Vegetable, Herb and Goat Cheese Sandwich and it knocked my socks off.  With no access to japanese eggplant, I only used zucchini, but it didn't matter.  The sun-dried tomatoes and herbs and cheese and crunchy bread and.. oh my.  It was heaven on my plate.

sunday's lunch

It almost pained me to shoot photos of it before digging in. 

And then it was all gone.

The end.

Here's the link to her recipe.

{ baking } crazy easy pumpkin cookies

easy pumpkin cookies

"Mommy, these are the goodest thing I've ever had!"

Enough said, I think.

Box Cake Pumpkin Cookies
1 15-oz can pumpkin
1 box spice cake mix
(chips or nuts or whatever, if you desire)
(cream cheese frosting, if you're going for extra yum)

I dumped the can and the box contents into my mixer before dropping the batter on cookie sheets.  Oven 350, bake 8-15 mins, depending on the size of your dropped cookies.  They can't really burn, they just firm up a bit.

Yum, yum, good. 

{ more photos } missing seattle

I am still rather obsessing about my little trip to Seattle.  When I am not badgering my husband about how wonderful it would be to up and move there, I am quietly reviewing the odd photos that crept in that weren't of the crafty persuasion.


Like our little meetup at The Hopvine Pub for a taste of local brews before we settled in.  Ridiculously good hummus.  And an artichoke dip?  Both yum yum good.  I might have licked the bowl.   Or maybe that was Jade.  I can't remember.

The moss.  I need more moss on my life.   And cobblestones. 

Jade, Beki and I stayed an extra day so that we could soak up a little of the area before heading back to Texas, Louisiana and Missouri.  We booked a hotel downtown and had another dearie -- Eva -- introduce us to the Fremont District before she drove home to Vancouver. (Eva owns a store called the Barefoot Contessa, and I am very very very sorry that I cannot shop there.  That is all.)


I got to ride shotgun.

It was a bit like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride meets European Vacation (Big Ben! Parliament!)

I'm serious.  See the Space Needle?

We started in the Fremont District and ate a crazy amount of delicious Thai food.

Then we traipsed about, popping into shops here and there. 

in front of a little shop in Fremont.
We shopped at charming boutiques.  One after another. (What is the name of this place???  I cannot remember and I loved every inch of it.  From the gorgeous front door to the shoes.  Oh, the shoes.)

peace + deluxe junk = <3

And this one held a few small packable treasures for us.  Plus, you must stand next to the giant french fry and pose with a stop sign. You must.

We did. 

But some things are better left to your imagaination.

After getting a bit turned around and walking back the right way (...and passing a Chocolate Factory.  For Real.  For a whole block we smelled nothing but chocolate.  That might have been when the Seattle love went over the top for me, I'm not sure) we happened upon a crazy labyrinth of vintage goodies.

And that is where I found my new to me, Frye Campus Boots, size 6. On the cheap.  There will be another post.  All about this particular event.  It is deserving.  I need to hire a choir of angels for sound effects.


We met Sarah (who lives in AZ, but was also visiting) on a bus and hopped over to Wallingford, which is adorable. And we saw firsthand the eye candy that is Fabric Crush, located in the old Kindergarten classroom of an old school building. Yes, very cool.



Pretty.  And this silly camera photo doesn't do it justice. 

We also stopped for nourishment at at Trophy Cupcakes.  Fidget was thrilled that I kept my little ballerina and brought her home with me.

cupcake treat

Eventually we did make it back to downtown.  We saw no fish thrown.  However, we did venture out later that night and for some local fare.


And on Tuesday, when we said our teary goodbyes at the airport, we finally each had Starbucks.


We almost forgot to do that.  So busy having fun.

{ bookclub dish } The Beach Trip

At the suggestion of my sweet neighbor and fellow bookclubber, Jocelyn, I have decided that our book club books + dishes need sharing.

Because, yes, it is nice to talk about books.  And visit with friends.  And get out of the house once a month.  But, my oh my, do we ever eat well!  Lately, it's been thematic.

BeachtripTake, for instance, The Beach Trip, by Cathy Holton.

It is about four friends who have not been together in the 23 years since college and join each other at one of their homes on the Outer Banks for a week.  There are familiar threads of mid-life crossroads and secrets and digging in the to past, but the plot of the story isn't so light that it can be passed off as fluff.  We all enjoyed it and had a lively discussion.

It is also the book that introduced me to the Margarona.

beach trip - margaronas

Delicious and dangerous, this drink is a sipper.  It seemed fitting to serve it at book club, of course.

Margaronas a la Beach Trip:
Empty 1 can of limeaid into a blender.
Fill that can with tequila and pour it in.

Add two Coronas.

Stir and Serve with a lime wedge.


I have never filled that whole can with tequila.  And I use Corona Light.  And I have added a third beer to the pitcher to mellow it out a bit.  Doesn't matter.  It's all good.

For dinner, Jocelyn served the following:


Mexican Chopped Salad (image via Kraft)
1/3 cup Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1/2 tps ground cumin
1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed
2 avocados, chopped
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 yellow pepper chopped
1/2  cup chopped red onions
1/2 cup Kraft Mexican Style Finely shredded four cheese
mix dressing and cumin
combine remaining ingredients in large bowl. add dressing mixture, mix lightly.



Heirloom Tomato Salad
(image via Kraft)
1 lb. mixed fresh tomatoes  chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/4 cup Athenos crumbled feta cheese with basil & tomato
1/4 cup Kraft Tuscan House Italian Dressing & Marinade
2tbsp chopped fresh basil
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley

combine ingredients...



Chili Chicken Kabobs
(via Eat Clean Diet)
Hers looked better than this and had squash + zucchini on the skewers , too.

• 3 Tbsp / 45 ml best-quality olive oil
• 1 1/2 Tbsp / 22 ml balsamic vinegar
• Juice of one fresh lime
• 1 tsp / 5 ml chili powder
• 1/2 tsp / 2 1/2 ml paprika
• 1 large onion, chopped into thick pieces
• 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
• 1 tsp / 5ml cayenne pepper
Sea salt, to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• 1 lb / 454 g boneless skinless chicken breast*, cut into 1 1/2 inch / 4-cm pieces
• Yellow Squash, Zucchini, & Onion for skewers

I am pretty sure we all had seconds of everything.   It was so delicious and perfect for a hot summer evening.  Oh, Joc also served fresh homemade ice cream with strawberries for dessert.

Yeah, Book Club kind of rocks.

{local love: food } natashas

Sometimes you just need something sweet.

Sometimes you just want to treat the kiddos with something little and special.

Sometimes it could just be about the pretty.

natasha's mulberry and motts

It could be all of the above.

With friends to boot.

The little girls and I joined Stacy (mamasdoodles) and her kiddos last week for a little park picnic and playground romping.  Stacy and I met two and a half years ago, connecting through blogland.  They are moving to Denver soon and we will miss them so very much!

I am selfishly hoping it takes a long time to sell their house.  

Sad, but true. 

still feasting my eyes.

Anyway, we surprised the littles with a trip to a local pastry shop.  It's got all sorts of special treats.  But really, it is So. Much. More.

Natasha's Mulberry & Mott, in Leawood, KS, is a perfect of example of how the smallest details can transform a place from run-of-the-mill to extraordinary. 

Where do you think this shop is?

How old is the building?

What does it feel like in there?  Do the floors creak?

even the ceiling looks like it tastes good.

Surprise!  It is located in a very new upscale shopping plaza.  What they have done with trim and paint and ceiling tiles and the finished cement floor create such a memorable experience.  It's quaint.  It's pretty and delicate.  It makes you oooh and aaaah and point and giggle and stare and take pictures. 


I think it could be impossible to walk in and be anything but happy and relaxed and delighted. 

we could call this 'Before'

But if you do take four little kids and they are drinking from filled-to-the-brim cups of milk, it is possible to leave a little ... embarrassed. 

And, this would be 'After'

Ha!  The shopkeepers were very sweet.  It happens all the time, they said.  I'm sure.    

Oh well!  We came.  We ate sweet treats.

We wrestled.


What more could you want?


miss chris

ps:  Stacy, we are going to miss you guys and our fun outings.  Best of luck with the home search and sale and all the rest.  Denver is so very lucky.

{ food } 78 new items for my to-do list

My husband and four year old are bacon eating MACHINES. As in we go to IHOP and Fidget eats a plate of bacon and everyone's extra bacon, too. And an order of sausage. Tiny thing has a huge appetite for breakfast meats.

Hubs thinks everything is better with bacon.  If he ever has a suggestion for a dish, it is usually around the likes of "You know what would taste good in this?  Bacon. And mushrooms."  But mostly bacon.

(Nevermind that the eldest is a vegetarian, there is enough bacon consumed in this house to justify buying in bulk.)

So imagine my delight whilst waiting in the checkout line the other day, when this was staring at me straight in the face:


Yes, my friends.


It was a present, I tell you. 


It is probably a good thing we are having record heat and humidity around these parts this week.  Momma needs some time to plan her bacon dish strategies. 

Anyone hungry?

hello there, pumpkin

I hosted bookclub monday night.  We had read The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani.  (Wonderful book that I probably would not have otherwise picked up.  It's engaging historical fiction set in Iran in the 1700s.  Reminded us all a bit of The Red Tent.)

Our bookclub is small enough that hosts serve a full meal.  I made Rachel's Pasta Carbonara (Rach, I use this all this time, thank you!), a green salad with  "olive garden" dressing, some toasted garlic bread, and pumpkin cake for dessert. 

why, hello there, mr cake. I'd like to introduce you to my belly.

I used this recipe, but decreased the sugar to 1/2 cup and used a whole can of pumpkin. I also threw in some more cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp cloves, baked it in a bundt pan baked for 45 minutes.  The frosting is a mix of cream cheese (about 2oz), 1/2 stick butter, milk and powdered sugar.  Oh my, this was good.

And, by golly, he seems to know it. 

(I didn't notice the face on this cake until after I took this photo.  And now I can't stop staring at it!  I can't decide whether to laugh or be creeped out.  ha.

Fun with Plums

Don't you love those easy recipes that look and taste like you spent forever in the kitchen? 

Here's another one to keep handy.  Roasted plums ...

fallish in the kitchen

If you receive MS Everyday Foods, you probably already saw the plum recipes in the September issue.  The day after I received my issue, I happened to see a bag of 12 ripe plums for $1 at the grocery store, so I thought experimentation was in order. 

As you may know, my girlfriends and I do Friday Morning Coffee every week.  Lately we have been trying new breakfast dishes and using each other as guinea pigs.  That's what good friends are for, right?  Plus, I had just-add-water blueberry muffins as backup.



They are now in heavy rotation.  Because you know what?  Oh my yum.


Yes, those are buttermilk biscuits.

sweet cream cheese

And cream cheese with sugar.

plum breakfast

And this is the deliciousness that you must try.  I made this dish three times before I even remembered to photograph it because I wanted to lick it off the plate right them.  Ahem. 

Here's the deal.

MSEF Roasted Plums (A la miss chris):

plums (one per serving)
brown sugar
lemon or orange zest, if you have one

Canned Biscuits
Cream cheese

Oven 400.
Half the plums, remove the pits.
Place the plums cut side down in a roasting dish or oven-safe skillet.
Put a pat of butter on top of each.
Sprinkle brown sugar over each.
If you have some, grate lemon or orange zest over the top.
Slam them in the over for 30 mins. 

But, set your timer for 18 or so...Because now you are going to throw some biscuits on a sheet and put them in with the plums for the last 12 minutes.  Genius!

Then grab some cream cheese and fold in some sugar to taste.  You might see if you have some whipped cream, too.  Just because everything tastes better with whipped cream.

When it's all done, drizzle some OJ over the plums and swirl it around a bit to create a little jus.  YUM.   Cut the biscuits in half, smear some cream cheese mixture on top, put a plum on each biscuit side.  Drizzle some of that yummy plum juice from the pan over each plate, for dipping and because it looks fancy.  Oh  my goodness.

Top with whipped cream if you feel like it.  I do.