Friday, March 21, 2014

kale bruschetta + lemon ricotta

Did it feel like Spring to you yesterday?  It did here!  It was warm, sunny, and the kids stayed outside until the sun set.  Just in time for their Spring break to begin today!  I have 10 whole days to spend with my children.  It seems like a great thing now; ask me again in 10 days.

To celebrate the equinox, I decided to make something that would taste like warmer weather.  I completely believe that food can taste like seasons.  Pumpkin curry soup obviously tastes like Fall.  White bean cassoulet definitely tastes like Winter.  And this bruschetta MAY have tasted like Summer, if I happened to have any basil.  But I don't, since it's not summer.  What I did have in my fridge was baby kale, so with the addition of freshly squeezed lemons, this tasted like Spring to me!

6 thick cut slices crusty bread
1 1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cup thinly sliced kale (I used baby kale)
3 scallions, diced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T parmesan
1 lemon
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 cup ricotta
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 425.  Lightly brush your bread slices with olive oil and bake for about 3 to 5 minutes.
Dice and slice your vegetables, garlic, and toss with half the juice of the lemon, the balsamic vinegar, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Salt and pepper at your own discretion.  Add your parmesan.
In a separate bowl, whisk the ricotta with the juice of half a lemon until smooth and creamy.
Pile the tomato kale mixture on your lightly toasted bread slices.
Top each slice with a dollop of the ricotta, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil, and place back into the oven for another 10 to 12 minutes.
They are finished when the edges of the bread are nicely browned and the ricotta has melted down a bit.
We ate this as a main dish, but of course it's a great appetizer, too!  And a good little Friday meal if you observe Lent.  Of course you'll need to add a glass of wine or two.
It's practically mandatory with bruschetta!  Happy eating (and drinking) my friends.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

nature mobile

Let's face it.  Unless you're in Florida or California, this winter has been a bit of a beast!  Full disclosure: I enjoy winter and I love snow, so I'm not exactly hurting here.  But we do feel a bit restless from more days spent inside than out.  So when the temperatures warmed up this week, we took lots of walks and played outside for hours.  It feels like Spring!  But it doesn't really look like it... yet.

On our walk today I took a bag and had the littles gather anything that they thought looked like Spring. It was a little sad.  Some brown oak leaves, pine cones, and twigs don't exactly scream SPRING IS HERE!!!  So I threw in a few dried flowers when we got home, pulled out some left over gold sticks from Christmas, and decided we'd make mobiles for their rooms.  I just used black twine to tie our treasures to the gold sticks.  And I let them choose what they wanted on their own mobile.  They had fun directing what would go where, and argued a bit over whose pine cone was whose.  For the record, the pine cone covered in bird poop wasn't wanted by anyone.  And of course I didn't notice until it was all over my hands.  Blech.
 They were so proud of their mobiles!
 And they took their time choosing the perfect spot for them to be hung in their rooms.
 So they don't exactly evoke Spring in a huge way, but they do reflect what it looks like around our neck of the woods right now.  We were pretty happy to see tulip leaves peeking out in our front flower bed, though.  Come on over Spring!  We're ready!

Monday, March 17, 2014

st. paddy's parade

We're always game for a parade.  Bands playing music as they walk?  Genius.  Indecipherable floats made from drunken college students?  Even better.  Dum dums and tootsie rolls tossed from stranger's hands to your children?  Perfection.  I know.  But it all adds up to a good time, every time.  So we all dressed in green and headed downtown last Saturday for a good time.  It was sunny and warm, and we all got a little too much sun.  And then yesterday we got a few inches of snow and it was freezing!  Hey March.  You're nuts.
 Brian loaned out a couple of his kilts to our friend's teenage son and his friend.  They had a great time with all the girls coming up to compliment them, ha!  But Rowan kept a close watch and held his hand to make sure there weren't too many shenanigans.
 At one point I looked up and Fletcher was chowing down on a hot dog.  A hot dog?  I have no idea where the mystery hot dog came from.  Apparently someone handed out hot dogs instead of candy.  Which is weird.
We stayed a long time, went to the festival afterwards, and rushed home just in time to throw a loaf of soda bread in the oven and hurry off to a party.  It was a fun, tiring day.  I think I'm still recovering!  Hope you all enjoy your St. Paddy's Day today!  I'll raise a pint for you and toast to your health, friends.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I have to get a few things off my chest.

Number one.  Ever since opening my etsy shop, I haven't seen our dining room table.  I actually have a pretty large studio area available to me.  But only when it's the perfect temperature outside because it's in our sunroom.  Which has no heating or a/c.  So it's basically unusable roughly 95% of the year.  My options are generally a literal sweat shop OR walk in freezer.  Here's a glimpse of our table.  We have a table in our kitchen that we use, don't worry.
p.s. Mail and school papers also gets dumped on this table.  So... you know.  I'm an organizational nightmare.

Number two.  Speaking of my shop, my husband talked me into adding a Dr. Who themed hoop to my shop last week.  Confession: I haven't sold one yet!  
Number three.  Last week another mother from the kid's school asked me, "Aren't you expecting?" In her defense I hadn't seen her in a while.  But I've been in a bit of a funk ever since.

Number four.  But!  Despite said funk, I took photos of a friend's new baby and DID NOT sob all over the baby!  I even held and snuggled on him, and felt nothing but happiness and love for them all.  High five.
 Number five.  We had a 78 degree day here yesterday, and a 40 degree day today.  I really wish that we could have something in between for a couple months.  What's that called?  Spring?  Confession: I don't want summer yet.  I want Spring.  I'll even take a 50 something day over a 70 something day because I feel so strongly about the appropriate temperatures of the season.  That's right, I just went on about the appropriateness of seasonal temperatures.  I can feel you all rolling your eyes.  Luckily, I'm finished!

Thanks for listening.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Irish soda bread

Ok, so this isn't actually TRADITIONAL Irish soda bread, but it is soda bread, it's easy, and it's hands down the tastiest I've ever had (no offense to any Irish grannies out there).  Soda bread is really quick to throw together, and can be modified in countless ways, so it's just a good base recipe, too!  The hallmarks of traditional Irish soda bread are the baking soda, caraway seeds, and raisins.  Also it usually calls for buttermilk, but I use sour cream here.  A lot of sour cream.  So the bread is dense but creamy, and really moist.  Thinking about throwing a St. Paddy's party?  Then whip this up.  It disappears quickly.  I always do a loaf with raisins and one without.


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 T caraway seeds
3/4 cup raisins
2 eggs
2 cups sour cream
makes one loaf, about 10 to 12 servings

Preheat your oven to 350.  Combine the dry ingredients and mix well.
Whisk the eggs and sour cream together, and then fold into the flour mixture.
Don't worry about over working it into a ball of dough.  This isn't a yeast bread!  In fact, it will seem a little loose, but just pile it into a 9 inch round pan, and don't worry about it.  You'll need to grease your pan, and I recommend a springform pan.  I recently geeked out over springform pans thanks to the folks at America's Test Kitchen.  I'm really wanting the highest rated pan (with a glass bottom!!) but I'm having a hard time justifying the price tag when my current pans are just fine.  Anyway...plunk your loose dough into whatever round pan you may have.
Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until your toothpick comes out clean.
Your home will smell seriously delicious.
It's really good eaten fresh from the oven, but it keeps pretty well for a couple days.  Toasted with a bit of butter is always a good way to go!  We're pretty big fans in our house, and Rowan finished off about 1/4 a loaf before I cut her off.  Soda bread junky, that one.
Happy eating, friends!