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  1. Sunday, October 17

    Week 195 Menu

    Okay, I know already professed my love. But seriously, how can you not enjoy cutting an onion when it’s set on this gorgeous backdrop? I literally had to stop and take a picture while I was chopping. I wonder if this new cutting board will turn me into a chopping machine? Probably not. I’ll be too busy taking pictures.

    Menu time already? And it’s only 2 weeks until Halloween? Nuts!

    MONDAY:
    Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers

    TUESDAY:
    Pasta Primavera (this keeps appearing because our menus keep shifting about a day and it gets the bump…but it is seriously a fabulous recipe that I can’t wait to eat this week!)

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Leftovers

    THURSDAY:
    Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

    FRIDAY:
    – Nate’s Omelettes

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    – This is a surprise…will write about it on Monday, October 25! I know, not super helpful for your planning purposes 😉

    I cannot believe how many amazing looking bean recipes and tips you shared this week. It’s going to take me months…years…decades!…to get through them all. Thank you!

    Now it’s time for you to share your wonderful menus for the week! I really like to make you work, don’t I? At least I ask nicely and always say thank you. 😉

    By the way, I wrote a guest post for Mom It Forward this weekend about packing healthy lunches for kids. PLEASE feel free to click here and share your own tips if you have them!


  2. Thursday, October 14

    Call for Recipes: Beans!

    As I’ve reduced the amount of meat in our diet, I’ve discovered a new found appreciation for beans. They truly are a wonder food. High in fiber, protein, complex carbs, folate and iron, they offer a serious nutritional punch. I’ve tried adding beans to our food where I think it makes sense, but I still feel like a bean novice. In fact, I have a few bags of dried beans that have been waiting very patiently in my pantry for, well, months now. Every time I ignore the dried beans and grab a can instead, I can hear Mark Bittman in my head telling me I should have gone with dried. Yup, I hear voices in my head when I’m cooking. Don’t you?

    Today’s Call for Recipes is all about beans. Dried, canned or otherwise! Please share your best recipes and tips that involve beans. Whether it’s a simple, “This is how I cook dried black beans” tip or a deliciously complex recipe where beans are just a player in the game. You get it. If you’re talkin’ beans (canned or dried), then I’m happy. Feel free to share recipes with our without meat!

    Since I should probably be the one to get this party started, here is one of my bean recipe favorite finds this year, Pasta with Arugula and White Beans. I do have more recipes on my site with beans, but this isn’t about me. I want YOUR recipes! Ready, set, GO!


  3. Wednesday, October 13

    Is It Possible to Fall In Love with a Cutting Board? Because I Have.

    I was all ready to do a Call for Recipes post, but that is going to have to wait until tomorrow. Look what arrived on my doorstep today.

    Be still my beating heart, I think I’m in love.

    I was excited when I ordered this recovered wood cutting board. In fact, I was so excited, I called Allison after I hit “Order” to tell her about it. Now that it’s here, I love it even more than I thought I would.  The real deal is light years better than the photo on the website (in fact, I’m having a hard time getting a good photo myself). It is gorgeous and smells like heaven. It is sitting on my lap as I type and I’m breathing it in. Okay, maybe I’m a little nuts over beautiful wood, but it is really lovely. How will I convince myself to actually use this as a cutting board?

    The back of the board tells me that it is made from rare old-growth timber that was felled and then sank while being rafted to lumber mills in the 1800s. This particular wood was recovered in 2006. And now I love my cutting board even more. It has history. If I had a giant house and tons of money, I think I would have to find a way to use this wood for floors or countertops.

    I will use my cutting board. I promise. There are beautiful things in this world that are meant to be used and enjoyed day to day. This is one of them.

    And before you go thinking I spend $60 on cutting boards on a regular basis…it was a total splurge with a gift certificate I had received as a gift. But I tell ya, I couldn’t have spent my money better.


  4. Tuesday, October 12

    BlogHer Food, La Petite Soirée and Lots and Lots of Food

    As you know (because I keep telling you!), I went to the BlogHer Food conference this past weekend. It was wonderful. Truly. And not just because I got to eat things like this for two days straight.

    Here are a few quick highlights from the conference:

    • Rooming with my dear friend Vanessa Druckman from Chef Druck Musings and my new friend Tricia Callahan from Once A Month Mom. They were such great roommates. Easy to be around, lots of laughs. And Vanessa didn’t have any nightmares as a result of sharing a bed with me. All in all a successful roomie experience, I think! (Pictured: Tricia left, me, Vanessa right)

    • Hearing Penny de los Santos speak. She’s a photojournalist who does exceptional work, but is also full of beautiful stories and true inspiration. Yeah, I cried.
    • Hearing Shauna James Ahern speak. Inspiring? Check. Funny? Check. Great writing and even better stories? Check. Yeah, I cried again.
    • When Michael Ruhlman ended the closing keynote panel by standing up and sharing his strong feelings about the importance of food and cooking to humanity. I can’t do his words justice, so I won’t try. But his words made me…cry. Yup. Again.
    • Chatting with Erika of Ivory Hut. She is quiet and lovely. Erika shared a story with me of a woman who wrote her a letter, and sent all the extra money she had for the month to help Erika’s family. It was moving. And, while I think I did a good job covering up, Erika made me cry, too.
    • But before you start thinking I spent the whole weekend crying…I also laughed, talked, and ATE. A lot. The conference was full of amazing speakers, amazing attendees and food galore.

    Pictured: Helene Dujardin, Me, Kristen Doyle, Stefania Pomponi Butler

    I think the true highlight of the weekend for me was co-hosting La Petite Soirée. Somehow I was able to convince three lovely women into throwing a party with me during the BlogHer Food weekend. I count my lucky stars every day I had the chance to work with these great women. And the party? It was perfect.

    For the food, Stefania had the brilliant idea to hire local food carts from the city. They were all amazing and provided unique foods and drinks to please every palette. And it was just plain cool.

    For decoration, we simply had beautiful flowers and cool lighting. I’m not exaggerating when I say you could see our party from miles away. The party was in a photography studio on the top floor with tall windows and no drapes. So, yeah, you could probably see those lights from the moon. We know how to party.

    We also had some super sweet gift bags. In fact, the whole weekend came complete with lots of foodie-happy swag. But I’ll just use it, enjoy it, and share my favorites with you over the next months. I do need to thank Federated Media, WordPress, Scharffen Berger and Clever Girls Collective for being our main sponsors. They were all wonderfully supportive.

    And, in case you like knowing about good restaurants, here are the various places I ate over the weekend. The Martha Stewart team treated a small group of us to dinner at 54 Mint. And it was amazing. Especially the fried zucchini blossoms and the pasta with eggplant. On Friday, a bunch of us bloggers went to Out the Door for lunch. The chicken that came in a clay pot (I’m pretty sure that’s not the official name) was so tender and flavorful, and I am officially in love with bok choy. For lunch on Saturday, Ziplist treated a group of us to lunch at Restaurant LuLu. I told you the weekend was full of good food!

    I’ll be honest, I usually walk away from conferences feeling a little deflated. I think that comes from being overwhelmed by the sheer number of talented bloggers out there and wondering, “What’s the point?” This weekend was completely opposite. I’ve walked away inspired and feeling like I’m part of a powerful and positive community of people with similar goals but different ways to meet those goals. And, I know it all sounds so cheesy, but it was just such a happy, warm-fuzzy weekend. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way, so I’m just gonna go where the cheese takes me. Thank you to everyone who was a part of it, whether I mentioned you specifically or not. You all touched my heart in one way or another. Thank you.


  5. Sunday, October 10

    Week 194 Menu

    I’m home. I’m exhausted. But I’m inspired. And happy. My weekend of food blogging was really wonderful, filled with truly inspiring stories and even more amazing people. I have walked away from the weekend with more knowledge. But, more importantly, old friendships were nourished and new relationships were built that I am simply grateful for. Want to know something else I’m grateful for? Friends who are willing to share their $80/pound chocolate with me. That is love, my friends.

    I’m looking forward to a week of non-craziness and a bit of normalcy. And some cooking!

    MONDAY:
    Green Noodles

    TUESDAY:
    Chili

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Caprese Paninis

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    Baked French Toast

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    Pasta Primavera (Moosewood recipe)

    Okay, folks…bring on the menus! Give it all you’ve got! (Or…don’t give it all you’ve got, plan pancakes for every day but still share!)


  6. Thursday, October 7

    Cate’s Recipes

    I think I’m raising a monster. A really cute monster. A food-arranging-and-photographing-said-food monster.

    Cate, my 5 year old, cracks me up. She often arranges food in artistic ways and then shows us her “recipes.” And nine times out of ten she requests that I photograph the recipes. Can you tell she’s the daughter of a food blogger? When I made apple dip last weekend, she felt very inspired by the apple slices. I indulged her and we held a little photo shoot. She held super still and was very proud of her work. And she told me I could put it on the website. So here we are. I’m not even really sure if she knows what “putting it on the website” means…which makes it almost cuter.

    I’m off to BlogHer Food! I’m really looking forward to two days of food blogging wonderfulness. I will report on all the fun next week. Have a wonderful weekend and see you Sunday with your menus!


  7. Wednesday, October 6

    Preparing for La Petite Soirée…and a lunch filled with curry and veggie goodness!

    Doesn’t this food look good?  It is. And I’ll get to it in a moment…but first, a little about what I’m up to this week!

    On Friday, I’m heading up to the BlogHer Food conference, and that night I’m also co-hosting La Petite Soirée, a party for food bloggers. I will be co-hosting this little shindig with some amazing fellow bloggers: Helene Dujardin from Tartelette, Kristen Doyle from Dine & Dish, and Stefania Pomponi Butler from City Mama and Clever Girls Collective. It’s been a dream team, no question.

    Did I mention, our party is going to be awesome? For food, we’re going to have a bunch of San Francisco food carts serving their delicious eats, and Chef Elizabeth Faulkner of pastry and Top Chef fame will be making cupquettes for the party (thanks to Scharffen Berger!), served alongside wine and drinks. The party is going to be held at a photography studio, which is the perfect venue for a bunch of camera-toting food bloggers! Speaking of those bloggers…we have an amazing guest list, with really talented and wonderful food bloggers and cookbook writers included. I’m giddy with excitement!

    I always end up killing myself stuffing bags for all the parties I throw…La Petite Soirée is no exception! In fact, swag for the bags has completely taken over my patio and garage. And my back hurts a little. But it’s worth it! Here’s a little sneak peak.

    One of the best parts of getting into blogging is the truly amazing people I’ve befriended along the way. Gudrun Enger from Kitchen Gadget Girl definitely falls into that category. I met Gudrun at BlogHer in Chicago last year and, lucky for me, she only lives 2 miles away! She took pity on me today and came over to help organize and stuff swag. Not only did she help me tremendously with party preparations, she brought me lunch! She kept saying, “It’s just leftovers.” But, uh, yeah, her leftovers ROCK and way kick my usual peanut butter and honey’s sandwich patootie.

    Which brings us to the food from the beginning of this post. Gudrun brought Cauliflower Curry, a Delicata Squash and Pumpkin dish, brown rice and naan bread. Mmmmmm. Gudrun is one of my cool friends who is part of a CSA and does a great job using up all the fresh grown food she receives each week. I’ll get there…one day!

    Click more to see the recipes from my delicious lunch!

    Cauliflower Curry
     
    From Chef Jonathan Miller, via Gudrun Enger (complete with Gudrun’s notes below)
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets, stems pieces roughly chopped
    • 2 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 8 quarter-size slices ginger, peeled (Gudrun used 2 tsps of ground ginger.)
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 2 Serrano peppers (Gudrun had a green jalapeno, so that’s what she used. It was a spicy pepper, but the dish was not super spicy)
    • 2 tomatoes, chopped
    • ½ cup yogurt
    • 1 cup water
    • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • ½ teaspoon garam masala
    • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
    • small handful of cilantro, chopped
    Instructions
    1. Heat olive oil in large sauce pan until almost smoking, and saute the cauliflower florets until lightly browned. Remove to a bowl.
    2. In a food processor, process the cauliflower stems, onion, ginger, garlic, and Serrano until finely chopped, almost a puree. Transfer to a bowl. Do the same with the tomatoes, transfer to separate bowl. Whisk yogurt, water and nutmeg together until smooth.
    3. In the same pan you used to brown the cauliflower florets, cook the cauliflower stem/onion mixture until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir regularly. Add in tomatoes puree and cook until most of the juice has evaporated, up to 10 minutes more. Add in coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric and salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Add in yogurt-water-nutmeg liquid with ½ the cilantro and bring back to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium low, add the cauliflower florets, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is cooked to your liking (I kept it a little on the al dente side).
    4. Finish the dish with remaining cilantro and another sprinkle of garam masala. Great over rice!

     
    Delicata Squash & Pumpkin with Cider Glaze
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 medium delicata squash (about 2 pounds) or other firm winter squash (Gudrun did half delicata squash and half pumpkin)
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • ¼ cup very coarsely chopped fresh sage
    • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
    • 1½ cups fresh unfiltered apple cider or juice
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    Instructions
    1. If using delicata squash, peel it with a vegetable peeler, cut it lengthwise in half, and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Cut each piece lengthwise in half again, then crosswise into ½-inch -thick slices. Other types of squash should be peeled with a chef’s knife, seeded, cut into 1-inch wedges, then sliced ½-inch thick.
    2. Melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over low heat. Add the sage and rosemary and cook, stirring, until the butter just begins to turn golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Do not brown the herbs. Cooking the herbs in butter mellows their flavor and improves their texture.
    3. Add the squash to the skillet, then the apple cider, water, vinegar, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat at an even boil until the cider has boiled down to a glaze and the squash is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and season with pepper, and additional salt if needed.

     


  8. Tuesday, October 5

    Apple Toffee Dip, the Perfect Autumn Treat!

    On Sunday I was a in a dipping mood. I made hummus guacamole dip, spinach artichoke dip and apple toffee dip! It was almost like Super Bowl Sunday around here, except no football. Which I’m thinking some people might actually like. I mean, the food is the best part of a Super Bowl party, right? 😉

    It’s been years since I made apple toffee dip, which is a pretty ubiquitous recipe.  It was just as tasty as I remember it! Although, next time I’m adjusting some of the measurements, which I will make note of in the recipe below.

    It’s apple season. Slice some apples. Make this dip. You’ll thank me.

    Apple Toffee Dip, the Perfect Autumn Treat!
     
    From…well…it’s just one of those classic recipes everyone has in their recipe box! I have added a few of my notes.
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
    • 8 ounce toffee bits (you can find these in the baking aisle – I would honestly only use 4 oz next time. That would have been the perfect ratio.)
    • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar (um, I would not firmly pack it…I think there was a little too much sugar in the recipe)
    • ½ cup white sugar (again, I think I’ll do more like ⅓ cup next time, there was just a bit too much sugar, so it didn’t all dissolve)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Instructions
    1. Beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, white sugar and vanilla extract with beaters until well blended. Stir in the toffee bits. Slice up your favorite apples and dip away! Granny Smith’s are my favorite…the sour with the sweet is simply scrumptious!
    Notes
    Just a note on the toffee bits – I seriously think 8 oz is overkill. I love the toffee bits, but using the whole package was killer. In fact, I made ½ recipe more of the dip without the bits to help cut down, and I still think it was too many. 4 oz would be plenty!


  9. Sunday, October 3

    Week 193 Menu

    I went grocery shopping alone last night. You know you’re getting old when grocery shopping alone on a Saturday night is a true pleasure. Anyway…I stopped at Trader Joe’s and grabbed some of their frozen chocolate croissants. They rise overnight and then you bake them in the morning. And, while there is nothing like a fresh chocolate croissant in Paris, these are still pretty darn good. And nothing beats the smell of baking croissants filling the house on a Sunday morning!

    Is it really time for another menu? I have to be perfectly honest. I didn’t follow my menu last week. Not one bit. Nate worked late almost every night, so life was a little crazy. I was able to rustle up decent enough dinners, but I never made it to the store (until last night), which put a crimp in my plans. So, yeah, there are a few repeats on this week’s menu as a result. That’s life for ya!

    MONDAY:
    Chili

    TUESDAY:
    Lasagna

    WEDNESDAY:
    – I just don’t know! We might have to eat out depending on how busy I am getting ready for my upcoming party (see Friday below!)

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – I’ll be at BlogHer Food
    – AND I’m co-hosting a party for food bloggers called La Petite Soiree – we’re going to have cupcakes made by Chef Elizabeth Faulkner and a bunch of yummy and hip San Francisco food carts serving up their goods. I can’t wait!
    – Bottom line – Nate will probably just take the girls out to eat that night!

    SATURDAY:
    – Mac & Cheese for the girls while Nate goes to the Stanford v. USC game; I’ll still be partying at at BlogHer Food!

    SUNDAY:
    Pasta Primavera (for my vegetarian sister who will be visiting for the Stanford football game)
    – Sourdough bread

    Crazy week for me, but it’s going to be fun!

    Now it’s your turn – share your menu for the week! You all have been posting so many menus lately…thank you all! Keep it coming! It’s awesome!


  10. Friday, October 1

    Rotten to the core!

    I had two sad experiences with produce this week. First, one of the giant, beautiful, supposedly-fresh honey crisp apples in my fruit bowl was rotten to the core! Yeah, I sliced it in half only to discover a nice brown middle. Such a disappointment!

    And then…today I went to make Baked Stuffed Squash (a recipe I had planned to make two weeks ago…see, meal plans are flexible!). Before I went to start cooking, I thought to myself, “Does squash go bad?” I mean, I know eventually it will go bad, but my squashes still looked perfectly fine. Well, I knew things were quickly going south when I pulled the sticker off, only to find the squash had been tattooed by said sticker. That can’t be good a good thing.

    Well, my friends, squash does indeed go bad. PU! Once it was cracked open the squash was stinky and nearly white in color. So sad. I was really looking forward to that stuffed squash.

    So, yeah, I’m whining today. But I think one of the more tragic occurrences in the kitchen is cutting into what looks like good produce only to discover it’s not. Kind of like every time I cut into watermelon. I’m still waiting for a good watermelon to come into my life. Where are you, watermelon of my dreams?

    Please, join me in the whining. Share your most tragic produce stories! Get it off your chest. You’ll feel better. I know I do. 😉