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}

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Friday Faves

photo 2-31 {two weeks until spring!}

Happy Friday, friends! Two blog posts in one week, can you believe it? Let’s see if I can keep it up for the month of March. St. Patty’s Day, March Madness, a new baby niece….so much material, how could I not? That’s right – I’m officially an auntie times two! Little Harper Elizabeth joined us on Wednesday, a week early (so I hope she didn’t expect her blanket to be finished!). She’s pretty perfect…and so tiny!

What are you up to this weekend? Something fun I hope! I’m heading out of town tonight (sadly, not to Vegas for the WCC tournament), and I’ll be frantically trying to finish up Harper’s blanket on my flight.  Wishing you a wonderful weekend. Go Zags! Some fun links and pics from the week:

photo 1-35 {I gave my friend Lindsay the “single malt” glassybaby drinker for her birthday and she sent me this picture ~ almost makes me want to start drinking bourbon}

photo 1-37 {this new “adjustable” rolling pin has changed my life – or at least, my cookies}

photo 2-29 {lemon ricotta pancake at Tallulah’s with my friend Jessie, right before we both started our diets healthy eating lifestyles in preparation for her wedding in Hawaii in May}

photo-97 {One of my favorite things that I did for Coop, so I had to do it for Harper as well.  She’s going to be a sporty little gal if her dad has anything to say about it! Rattles from Land of Nod, burp cloths from Swaddle Designs.}

Pumpkin, Sage, and Browned-Butter Bread

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There’s a certain little holiday coming up next week, are you ready? Confession: I am nowhere close. Most years, I have my recipes all picked out by this point, my grocery lists written, all non-perishables purchased, and homemade pie crusts ready and waiting in the freezer. This year, I haven’t given any of it a second thought. That’s what this weekend is for, right? No matter where you are on the spectrum, though, consider adding these mini loaves to your “to make” list – while they may not belong on your Thanksgiving table, they definitely belong in your fall baking repertoire.

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I hesitated to try this recipe as I firmly believed that nothing can beat my aunt’s pumpkin muffins – but since anything with brown butter and sage sounds pretty delicious, I gave them a try. And I’m so glad I did, because they are equally yummy, but in a completely different way.  The brown butter and sage flavors add a savory richness, and the fried sage pieces contribute a fun little crunch. While browning the butter and frying the sage are additional steps, I still whipped up the batter pretty quickly. [Browned butter tips here. Sometimes I find browning butter easy, sometimes I find it more challenging – but regardless my finished product always ends up delicious).]

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The recipe is supposed to yield eight mini loaves, and I doubled it in the hopes of making twelve – and ended up with six. So I think when Martha says eight, she means eight “mini mini” loaves, which you would bake in something like this (which I have now purchased and will be sure to use next time).  I baked these in “large” paper mini loaf pans (is there such thing as a large mini loaf pan? Let’s pretend there is), which were adorable and looked gorgeous all wrapped up for party favors, but I think they would also be adorable as “mini mini” loaves, as muffins, or even as a regular loaf. However, the recipe as written would yield about eight muffins or one small loaf, so you may want to consider doubling.

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Pumpkin, previously: muffins, cookies, granola, bread pudding, soup, cake, pie

One year ago: My First Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin, Sage, and Browned-Butter Bread, from Martha Stewart Living 

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1/4 cup fresh sage, cut into thin strips, plus whole leaves for garnish (optional)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter eight 4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess (I use PAM for baking here). Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add sage strips; cook until butter turns golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl; let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, and sage-butter mixture. Add flour mixture; whisk until incorporated. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Place pans on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto rack to cool completely. (Cakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature overnight or refrigerated up to 5 days.) Garnish with whole sage leaves before serving, if desired.

Cucumber Melon Salad with Feta, Basil, and Mint

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Happy summer, everyone! Sorry for the long hiatus from blogging – I wish I had a good excuse, but sadly I don’t. Life just gets so busy in the summer, who has time to cook? But, I’m back now and I have really good intentions of being more consistent. I have good intentions about a lot of things that don’t always come to fruition (gym, yoga, being punctual, curbing my binge-shopping for my unborn baby nephew – just to name a few), but I have a lot of recipes on my to-do list so I’m feeling good about my re-committment to the blog.

It’s finally summer here in the Pacific Northwest, where we can count on blue skies and sunshine only after the Fourth of July. And with temperatures in the 80s and 90s all week/weekend, what sounds better than a cold, crunchy, watermelon salad? I love getting my Martha Stewart Living each month, but I have this problem where I put magazines in a “to read” pile and then kind of forget about them (see above re: “good intentions”). But it’s my dad’s birthday today (Happy Birthday, Dad!!!) and watermelon is one of his all time favorite things, so when we celebrated earlier this week I dug through my pile and tried my best to copy the gorgeous picture on the cover.

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This salad really couldn’t be easier. Just cut up your melons and cucumber, throw in some herbs (you could use just mint or just basil – Martha only lists basil, and most watermelon salads only use mint – it was delicious with both but if you only have one or the other on hand it would be fine), toss with olive oil and lime juice, and you’re good to go.  The feta is totally discretionary – I liked it with, but it would be equally good without. You can prepare the salad ahead of time and then just toss with the dressing before serving. I like my watermelon as cold as possible, so keep the salad in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

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Cucumber Melon Salad, adapted from Martha Stewart Living 

(note: Martha’s recipe is for one serving, mine serves a crowd)

One cantaloupe, cubed or balled
One small or one half large watermelon, cubed or balled
1-2 large or 3-4 small cucumbers, diced or sliced
Olive oil to taste
Lime juice to taste
Small handful mint leaves, torn or julienned
Small handful basil leaves, torn or julienned
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup crumbled feta, optional
Salt and pepper to taste, optional*

Toss together your melons and cucumber. I used the melon baller for my watermelon and diced the cantaloupe like Martha told me to, but you could cut both or ball both, whatever is easier. If you’re using regular cucumbers, I would cut them lengthwise into quarters and then dice them, but if you can find persian cucumbers (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc.) you can just slice them. I read once that in salads like this everything should be the same size (pieces of watermelon = pieces of cantaloupe = pieces of cucumber), so I used that as a rough guideline.

Just before serving, drizzle the cucumber and melons with olive oil and fresh lime juice and toss with mint and basil. I used only a tiny bit of olive oil and two limes (heavier on the lime, lighter on the oil) but you can adjust this to your liking. Garnish with additional mint and basil and sprinkle with feta, if using (I used it this time, but Martha doesn’t and I might not next time – it was good with it but would be just as good without). Chill in the fridge if time allows. 

*I didn’t use salt and pepper as I didn’t think the salad needed any – but if you weren’t using feta I think a little salt would be good.  

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