Friday Faves

IMG_3473{pumpkin snickerdoodles}

What are you up to this weekend? I have a long and ambitious list that includes a haircut, a trip to the pumpkin patch, and three dozen pumpkin sugar cookies that need decorating. [I have a new little cousin/nephew as of 2:00 this afternoon, just in time to get his name on his cookie! And one of B&B’s most loyal readers also welcomed a baby boy today – happy birthday Gavin and Cooper!] Some fun links and pics for your evening (I was supposed to post this 12 hours ago and somehow forgot ~ I’m blaming an early morning spin class that really threw off my routine):

IMG_3474{my new ‘godmotherglassybaby from my sweet godson}

photo-125{soup weather, finally}

IMG_3475{my new favorite sunscreen, thanks to my friend (and supergoop guru!) Steph}

IMG_3497{topping bar at Portage Bay Cafe, yum}

Cougar Gold Cheese Dip

IMG_3426

IMG_3417

The Davenport is a lovely historical hotel in downtown Spokane, Washington, where I went to law school. It’s home to a bar called the Peacock Room, which is pretty swanky for Spokane, and back in my law school days I spent quite a bit of time there. How my friends and I had the time or money, I’m not sure, but we would go on Fridays for happy hour and order pricey cocktails, and the waitress would bring delicious little bowls of salted cashews out for the table. At the time, Cougar Gold Cheese Dip wasn’t on the menu, and thank goodness for that or we would have been frequenting the Peacock Room more often than we already were, spending that much more money and gaining that much more weight (or at least spending that much more time at the gym instead of at the law library). The dip debuted on the menu sometime after I finished law school, and I heard about it many times over the years, whenever anyone would go to Spokane and make the obligatory trip to the Peacock Room. I stayed at the Davenport a couple years ago when I was back in Spokane for my younger cousin’s college graduation, and finally had the opportunity to try it for myself. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since.

IMG_3422IMG_3428

Cougar Gold is a delicious sharp white cheddar cheese that’s made at the Washington State University Creamery in Pullman, Washington. As a Husky, I’m not supposed to be that into the Cougs, but I have to admit they make some pretty delicious cheese. When I was in college, the only place you could buy Cougar Gold was at the WSU bookstore, and any trip to Pullman included a special trip to the bookstore just to stock up on a few cans. Nowadays you can get it at the Metropolitan Market in Seattle, and at New Seasons in Portland. You can also order it online, and even with shipping it’s a lot cheaper than at Met Market and New Seasons. You don’t need the whole can, however – you only need four ounces for this recipe, and you can buy four ounce wedges at the grocery stores – it’s a lot more economical and you’ll eat a lot less cheese.  I love the can, though, so I splurged. Leftover cheese can be used for Mac and Cheese (there’s a Cougar Gold Mac and Cheese recipe, or you can use it in place of Beecher’s for the World’s Best recipe – legend has it Beecher’s was modeled after Cougar Gold), crumbled next to crackers for the easiest and most delicious cheese plate ever, or for any number of cheesy recipes.  Make this dip first, though – it literally takes five minutes and your friends/family/fellow tailgaters will thank you.

IMG_3423IMG_3424

One Year Ago: Chicken Lasagna Cacciatore
Two Years Ago: Crunchy Baked Pasta with Sausage (or Squash)

Hot Cougar Gold Cheese Dip, from The Davenport Hotel

Serves a crowd 

1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, washed, dried, and chopped
12 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes
8 ounces gruyère cheese, grated
4 ounces Cougar Gold cheese, grated
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Baguette, apples, and carrots, and/or whatever else you like to eat with cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Heat olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add shallot and garlic mixture and season with cayenne pepper and salt. Mix until well combined. Pour into four ovenproof ramekins or a 1 3/4 quart baking dish. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling (8-10 minutes for ramekins, 12-15 minutes for larger dish). Finish under the broiler for a few seconds until top is golden brown and caramelized. Top with additional parsley and cayenne pepper and serve with sliced baguette, apples, and carrots.

IMG_3397

Friday Faves: Key West Edition

IMG_3178{happy hour view}

A few months ago, when my dad told me he had a conference in Key West in October, I mentioned I had always wanted to go there. A week or so later, he surprised me with a plane ticket. I was so excited, because when I said I had always wanted to go to the Keys, what I meant was I had always wanted to go to the Keys with my dad, a closet Parrothead who I think may have been an islander in a past life. We had a great time – Key West has a lot of history for such a tiny island, and the spring break atmosphere is pretty fun (so long as you have a quiet and relaxing hotel to return to). I spent the mornings reading in a hammock on the beach, and then the afternoons riding around the island on my rented beach cruiser. We had some amazing meals and took a couple fun sailing trips in the evenings after the conference would let out. And of course, I drank a lot of mojitos and rum runners (yum!) and ate a lot of key lime pie. As a west coaster, I don’t know if I’ll ever be back, since Hawaii is so much easier to get to, but if you ever have a chance to visit the Keys I would wholeheartedly recommend it.  I’ve posted more pics from the trip, and some thematic links to go along with them, below. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

IMG_3147{not easy to get there}

IMG_3011{our hotel}

IMG_3261{my happy place}

IMG_3144{biking + shopping}

IMG_3241{kind of fun being a cheesy tourist}

IMG_3251{there’s no uber in key west… but there are pink taxis}

IMG_3149{café con leche}

IMG_3121{sunset sailing}

IMG_3227{and of course, a piece of key lime pie each day!}

Warm Pear-Ginger Upside-Down Cake

IMG_2868IMG_2849IMG_2850

If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you might start to worry that I only own two cookbooks. While in truth I have about half a bookshelf’s worth, it would be a fair assumption since I sometimes don’t do a very good job of branching out. Last week, in search of an easy fall dessert, I remembered a pear upside down cake I had made a couple years back, when I was trying to use up some pears from a friend’s orchard and really into my cast iron skillet cookbook. I dug up the recipe, happily realized I already had almost all of the ingredients on hand (if you keep the Trader Joe’s ginger chews on hand like I used to, you might even find you don’t have to go to the store at all!), and whipped this up in under an hour. In a season flooded with apple and pumpkin desserts, often rich and heavy or overly sugary, I think this is a great addition to anyone’s fall recipe repertoire. The cake has a barely-sweetened cornmeal crumb, the pears are deliciously buttery, and the spicy ginger adds a little kick. And of course, what’s prettier than an upside-down cake in a cast iron skillet?

IMG_2851IMG_2852IMG_2860IMG_2866

I probably say this too often, in my attempt to encourage everyone to actually make these recipes rather than just read about them, but this really is so easy to throw together. The only caveat is, I do think you need a cast iron skillet. While you could definitely make something similar in a regular cake pan (or ideally an 8×8 brownie pan), the cast iron is ideal here, for the way it caramelizes the fruit and of course for it’s stovetop-to-oven multi-tasking ability. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, consider buying one – the Lodge brand is relatively inexpensive and I use mine all the time. While I’ve done meat and fish in it a few times, I use it primarily for cheese dips and giant chocolate chip cookies – so if that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will.  But make this first, because I know you have someone in your life giving you a basket of pears from their orchard that you need to use. And if you don’t, it’s a great excuse to buy a couple pounds at the farmer’s market this weekend! You could also use apples if you went on an overly-ambitious apple picking trip recently… but I do recommend trying it with pears first, because just like with cookbooks, sometimes you’ve got to mix it up a little bit!

IMG_2858IMG_2859IMG_2867

One Year Ago: Brown Butter and Bourbon Apple Crisp
Two Years Ago: Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup

Warm Pear-Ginger Upside-Down Cake, from The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Sharon Kramis & Julie Kramis Hearne

Serves 8-10

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 pounds firm but ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears (about 4 pears), peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
2 tablespoons minced candied ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup medium-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup boiling water
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for topping, optional

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add 1/4 cup of the sugar, stir just enough to combine, and cook without disturbing until the sugar dissolves and starts to turn golden brown/caramelize, about 5 minutes. Beginning with the outside edge and working your way towards the center in a circular pattern, arrange the pear slices on top of the caramelized sugar. Sprinkle the ginger and nutmeg over the top. Cook until the pears are soft and the caramel starts to thicken, about 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Place the cornmeal in a large bowl, add the boiling water, and stir to blend.  Add the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar to the cornmeal mixture and mix until well blended.  (This can be done by hand). Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time, alternating it with the milk, making sure not to over mix. Pour the batter on top of the pears in the skillet.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the top starts to brown and the center of the cake feels firm and springs back when pressed, 18-20 minutes. Let the cake cook for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen it, and place an inverted plate on top of the skillet. Protecting both hands with oven mitts, flip the cake onto the plate. Replace any fruit that may have stuck to the skillet.  Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

IMG_2870

Friday Faves

IMG_2901{fall foliage + fog}

Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? I’m off to Key West…looking forward to eating lots of Key Lime Pie, listening exclusively to Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney, and doing everything the NYT’s “36 Hours” article tells me to do. We’ll have more than 36 hours though (5 days!), so if you have any recommendations I would love to hear them! Wishing everyone a lovely fall weekend. Some fun photos and articles for your Friday:

  • Facial mists – I’ve never really tried them, but this article makes me want to start!
  • I’ve been craving this pasta all week.
  • Loved this week’s Modern Love (Last week’s Modern Love? It’s published online on Thursdays but printed in the Sunday NYT, so depending upon how you read it…)
  • I’m really working on perfecting my roast chicken this fall (have you ever made “Engagement Chicken”? My friend Kristy did one time…..but it didn’t work.)
  • I can’t wait to go visit Eagle the Penguin!

IMG_2660{Queso Fundido for MNF – Go Hawks!}

IMG_2937{I made these photo books for Cooper per a recommendation from Cup of Jo – I did one with his monthly photos and one with pictures of his favorite people. He’s currently not that into them but I’m sure he will be at some point….right? I think it’s a cute gift idea, regardless!}

IMG_2938{Such a thoughtful “just because” gift from my dear friend Jessie ~ I’ve been drinking my detox tea out of it all week! In related news, did anyone catch that game last night? Go Dawgs!}

IMG_2932{My two favorite uncooperative photo subjects in the Petit Bateau outfits I got them about a year ago – now that Coop finally fits into his, Harper has almost outgrown hers. Damn those French sizes! And yes, this took two takes, thus the two different bows}

Yoona’s Chicken Noodle Soup

IMG_2629
IMG_2631IMG_2630

I’ve made this soup dozens of times since it first came to my attention almost four years ago, so I apologize for not sharing it until now. I actually thought I had posted it last fall, but when I did a quick blog search the other day after someone asked me for the recipe, I found it buried in my drafts folder.  My friend Yoona calls it “Chicken Soup for Lazy People,” implying perhaps that a truly homemade chicken noodle soup would involve roasting your own chicken and making the stock from scratch.  Yoona has higher standards than I have, though – my definition of chicken soup for lazy people is the soup I get from the pre-made soup counter at Metropolitan Market, or something like this or this. [I used to think I didn’t like chicken noodle soup, mainly because I had only ever had canned versions, which I kind of hate.  The Met Market Chicken Noodle changed the way I felt about chicken noodle soup – I would get it even when I wasn’t sick, that’s how good it is – but an 8 ounce cup has about a year’s worth of sodium in it, so now that I have this recipe I like to make it myself.]

I would argue that there’s nothing lazy about this soup – it’s a little less involved, perhaps, but I still consider it “from scratch.”  Using a rotisserie chicken and store bought stock just means you can actually make “homemade” chicken noodle soup in under an hour – which is perfect if you or someone you love/need to feed is under the weather, or if you want to make it for dinner but you work until five and want to eat at a reasonable hour. My sister made a batch last weekend while my nephew was napping – and I should add that my sister, as a rule, doesn’t cook. Neither does my mom, but she makes this soup all the time.  So while I don’t think anything involving chopping veggies, simmering stock, shredding chicken, and adding fresh herbs can be considered lazy, we could perhaps call it a user-friendly chicken soup. Chicken soup you might actually make. Chicken soup you could make tonight.

IMG_2640IMG_2642IMG_2643

I chopped my onions/carrots/celery so that I could have pretty photos for blog purposes, but – true confession – I often use the pre-chopped mirepoix mix from Trader Joe’s. It’s just so quick and easy, and I don’t think you sacrifice a lot in terms of taste or texture. I actually don’t mind chopping the carrots and celery myself – you can do the ratios and dice-size just the way you like them that way, and it only takes a couple extra minutes – but normally I would definitely use the Trader Joe’s pre-chopped onions (yes, I’m lazy enough that I will make an extra stop just to avoid chopping my own onions. Although anything you don’t already have in your fridge/pantry, save for the chicken, you can get at Trader Joe’s). As Yoona will tell you (I encourage you to read her post, she’s a better cook and a better writer than me), it’s a totally flexible recipe and you can tweak it to your liking. I typically use low sodium stock and then add more salt and pepper to taste (I read somewhere that you’re always better off to use low sodium stock – no matter how much more salt you add it will still end up being much less than full-sodium stock. And one of the things I love about the Met Market chicken soup is how peppery it is, so I add a lot of freshly ground black pepper). And finally, if you’re the kind of person who would even consider making your own stock, you can use the carcass of the rotisserie chicken to do so – and then use that stock for the next time you want to make this soup.  See, not lazy at all!
IMG_2641
IMG_2644IMG_2645

One Year Ago: Butternut Squash and Farro Salad
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Soup, Previously: White Bean and Kale, Split Pea, Cream of Fresh Tomato, Pumpkin Black Bean, Curried Butternut Squash, Roasted Cauliflower, Minestrone, Roasted Sweet Potato and AppleRed Lentil, Roasted Tomato Basil

Chicken Noodle Soup, from Yoonanimous

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil
1 precooked rotisserie chicken, shredded (skin and bones removed)
3 medium carrots, diced
1 large or 2 small onions, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
8 cups chicken stock or broth (2 boxes)
1-2 cups pasta
1 cup chopped fresh dill, Italian parsley, or combination
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Oyster crackers or saltine crackers for topping, optional

Directions:

Coat the bottom of your stock pot with olive oil. Sauté carrots, onion, and celery over medium-high heat until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add stock or broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add pasta and chicken and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until noodles are al dente. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove soup from heat and stir in fresh herbs.

IMG_2648

Friday Faves

IMG_2510{early morning on the lake}

Happy October from beautiful Lake Chelan! I had such a whirlwind trip with my sister and little nephew last week that I forgot to post on Friday – so last week’s Friday Faves are this Monday’s Faves instead! We had the best time splashing in the lake and in the pool, chasing ducks, digging in the sand…..and of course lots of wine and cheese! I hope your weekend was equally fun, and that your Monday is off to a lovely start! Some fun links and pics from the week:

IMG_2308{Smitten Kitchen’s apple cake and butternut squash galette (from the cookbook)…..and a salad}

IMG_2426{wine with my sis in my new Husky drinkers}

IMG_2536{obsessed with this anti-aging hand cream}

IMG_2293{Having a little baby around makes holidays so much more fun! Cooper’s pumpkin bag was one of the first things I ordered with his name on it (seriously – I just looked it up in my email archives and I ordered it the day he was born!), so of course I had to get one for Harper as soon as PBK released their Halloween stuff this year (order date: July 20).  And then I set about to fill it with everything I put in Coop’s last year. Treat bag from PBK, books from Amazon, sleepers from Hanna Andersson (similar here, I actually got this version on sale after Halloween last year) and Carter’s, onesie, tutu, and pumpkin hat from Gymboree, Lifefactory bottle with candy, Baby Bling Bows (black and orange knots). *The Gymboree onesie and hat are no longer available, at least online, but if you’re in the market Janie and Jack has some pretty cute options (onesie, hat) – probably would have gotten those for H if I hadn’t already given her her goodie bag! I’m thinking she’ll still be able to squeeze into the 12-18 month next fall, so I’ll be watching the sale racks on November 1st!}

IMG_2294{And don’t worry, Coop got a few things too! Gymboree tee (adorable J&J alternative here), Hanna sleeper (also purchased on sale after Halloween last year, 2015 boys version here), Curious George book, and two Beavs hats that aren’t pictured – really more of just a random purchase than a Halloween gift, but the team colors are black and orange so it’s a two for one}.