Saturday, October 30, 2010

Feeling Frazzled & Comforts of Baking!

This past week it seems as though I've had too many things to get done. When this happens it's easy for me to lose my center and I begin to feel frazzled. I know how important it is for me as a working wife and mother to stay centered because when I'm happy and balanced my family is too.

Yesterday I helped Sophia's First Grade Class put together a Halloween Party, watched the Parade at her School and took her to a Spooky Spaghetti Dinner. She had a blast-- I was exhausted!

Although I'm happy to be there for her and enjoy her activities I find that too much fun for her without a bit of fun for me can leave me feeling drained.

I think it's all about balance. This morning I am taking it easy by enjoying the morning, drinking a cup of hot coffee and relaxing. I have no 'to do' list for right now and it feels great!

As for Comforts of Baking, if you get a chance please check out my article in Cape Cod Magazine's current issue. What I tried to convey was how rewarding spending a little time in your kitchen can be and how much comfort the simple act of baking can bring.

The photography is gorgeous and I cooked the food right here at home in my kitchen and I share some of my favorite holiday recipes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pomegranate, Clementine, Caramel Sauce & Pursuing Passions!

Over the weekend I picked up the most perfect pomegranate while I was doing our grocery shopping. I also bought a large batch of clementines.
I wanted to come up with a really creative way to use these unique fruit that is in abundance right now instead of just the usual way of scooping or peeling and eating.

I decided to make a sauce by scooping out the pomegranate seeds and squeezing the juice in, peeling and dicing the clementine into small pieces and taking a handful of caramels and melting them over a double boiler.

Don't make this sound harder than it is- you can easily make your own double boiler if you don't already have one by heating water in a sauce pan and placing a glass bowl on top-just make sure the boiling water doesn't heat the glass only allow the steam to heat the glass.
Stir the fruit and caramel regularly until the caramel melts and a sauce forms. Let cool. Pour over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

As for pursuing passions, I had the pleasure of being invited recently to exhibit three pieces of my art work at G Design Center in Mashpee Commons (creating unique sculptures is another one of my many passions). My work will be there until mid November.
On Friday the owners hosted a private reception for the participating artists and our friends and supporters. I had a number of friends stop by to show their support and I really enjoyed the opportunity to share my work in a fun atmosphere with the other artists.

*Note on the sauce: You can leave the sauce with bits of fruit or you can cool and puree in your blender. I prefer it with pieces of fruit.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chicken with Ricotta & Pesto over a Tomato, Lime Vinaigrette & Dinner as a Family!

We have a pretty hectic schedule although I strongly believe in the importance of having dinner as a family so I try to make it happen as often as possible.
As simple as it is I think it does matter that I offer my family good food. It may not be fancy every night but when we do get a chance to share a meal I like to catch up with my family and turn the tv off so we have a chance to reconnect.
Tonight I made a yummy chicken dish that might sound like it's on the fancy side but it was super easy and the kids liked it. Give this recipe a try some time soon and let me know if you like it.
Chicken with Ricotta & Pesto over a Tomato, Lime Vinaigrette
Boneless chicken breasts, 6
12 oz. ricotta
3 Tbsp. pesto
Mix the ricotta with the pesto in a small bowl
Cut a slit in the center of the chicken and stuff it with the pesto, ricotta mix.
Place in a baking dish, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
Bake at a 375 degree oven for approximately 25 minutes
For the Tomato, Lime Vinaigrette
6 oz. diced tomatoes
juice from one lime
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
salt and pepper
Place in a blender and pulse until smooth.
Spoon onto the plate and place the baked chicken on top. Serve with fresh leafy greens and rice pilaf.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunshine, Seashells & Tarts with Squash!

The kids were home from school yesterday because of the Columbus Day holiday. It was 69 degrees and sunny and I grabbed the girls out of their slumber and took them down to South Cape Beach. I was so surprised to see two couples in their bathing suits-one of them was even swimming! It's gotten a bit cold for me to brave a swimsuit.

We walked, looked for sea treasures (I found an especially beautiful shell, pictured above) and enjoyed the sun. My son had football practice but he was able to meet up with us for lunch at Wicked. Later that day I snuck out for a bike ride down to Seconsett Island. I'm going to miss that ride once winter arrives.

As for tarts, I love them. You can make so many varieties from sweet and savory to a breakfast, dinner or even dessert version. I want to share the recipe I used for Squash, Sage and Gorgonzola Tart because if you like those items you may want to try it for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday.

Squash, Sage and Gorgonzola Tart

Make a pie crust or pick up a refrigerated pre-made one. Place in a pie plate.
For the Filling
small butternut squash
tbsp. olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste
6 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
6-8 fresh sage leaves

1) Cut the squash in half, brush with oil and place cut side up on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, until they are brown and very soft. Let cool. Scoop out squash, place in a bowl and discard the skin.
2) Mash the squash and mix with half the cream, season with salt and pepper and spread in the bottom of shell. Spread gorgonzola crumbles on top of squash. Whisk your remaining cream with the eggs and yolk and pour over the squash/cheese. Make sure it settles evenly. Arrange the sage leaves in a circular pattern in the center on top.
3) Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30-35 minutes. Enjoy warm.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gratitude, Cranberry Biscotti & Friends!

I was lucky enough to spend time with a close friend for the day on sunday. I left my husband in charge and decided I was giving myself a few hours off. It's always important (and needed) to take a little time to connect with friends. They help bring me back to me!
This particular friend lives in Central, MA and decided to drive down for the day. We had so much fun. We had a nice long lunch at Anejo's- a new Mexican Restaurant in Falmouth and sipped on their amazing Anejo Margarita's, took a long walk at the Knob (a truly special place) and afterwards we sipped a honey chai tea at Coffee O while I shared my pictures from the trip I took with my girls over the summer. We laughed often about the silliest of things.
She and I met in second grade and we have a very special bond. We know everything their is to know about one another and we still love and enjoy each other's company. To me, that is something to be truly grateful for.
As for Cranberry Biscotti, I was recently asked to donate a signed copy of my recipe book and a sample of my baking for a local upcoming Fundraiser/Auction. I decided to bake a large batch of cranberry Biscotti with white chocolate in part because it stays fresh so well and people really enjoy good Biscotti. I often hear, "that is the best Biscotti I've ever tasted".
I find there are always challenges and unique crosses that each of us must bear, however life is meant for living and I always try to do as much of the 'living part' as I possibly can. What about you?