Category Archives: Cooking and Food

Eat Boutique Holiday Market

displayOn Saturday I was able to sneak away to Boston for the afternoon to partake in Eat Boutique’s Holiday Market.  It was such a gorgeous venue, filled with makers and food vendors, and offering a packed schedule of amazing author appearances and events.  I jumped in at the last minute to get my book signed by Joy the Baker, which was certainly a thrill.  But the biggest thrill of all was connecting with Lucinda Scala Quinn, former vice president at Martha Stewart Omnimedia and author of many amazing books including, Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys.  She was so engaging, warm and welcoming, and I can’t wait to use her book to feed my hungry boys.  Even though they are only 3 and 5, I am already amazed by their appetites.  Much of my day revolves around feeding them: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack.  Bowls upon bowls of fruit slices, veggies with hummus, hard boiled eggs….  It’s like shoveling coal into a fast burning furnace and I need all the help I can get to avoid getting into cooking ruts.

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_MG_0558Getting out to events like this is such a refreshing change of pace for me.  There is a part of me that feels that between having two kids so close together, writing book after book and juggling a freelance career, social networking fell by the wayside.  And that is such an important thing as an author.  I missed the boat by a few years in terms of social media, and as much I understand the value of networking and “getting out there” it just feels really difficult given the demands of home.  All of that to say, it was such a treat to spend an afternoon meeting movers and shakers of the food world.

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Raspberry Brownies and a Giveaway

squareAre you still full from Thanksgiving?  No?  Well good thing, because I am holding an Instagram giveaway for some delicious looking Roost cookbooks including My Darling Lemon Thyme, The Vibrant Table, and Lomelino’s Ice Cream.  I knew I wanted to highlight a recipe, and once I flipped through all three books I couldn’t help coming back to these Raspberry Brownies from My Darling Lemon Thyme.  Of course I should have focused on something healthy that we could have had for dinner…but where’s the fun in that?!  My sweet tooth always gets the best of me.  These were honestly the best brownies I have ever made- chewy, moist and full of flavor.  I really like brownies that have more going on than just chocolate, so I loved the bright bursts of raspberries and the nutty crunch of pistachio and pecans.  These brownies perfectly walk the line between fudge-y and cake-y, and they are a fantastic treat.  I would highly recommend bringing them to a holiday cookie exchange (if you can bear to part with them!).

To enter my GIVEAWAY, pay a visit to my Instagram page!  I will pick three winners, and each will receive one of these titles, along with a signed copy of Little Bites!

Raspberry Brownies

Slightly adapted from My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway (Roost, 2015)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup olive oil
7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unrefined raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup ground almonds
2/3 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup raspberries, frozen
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup pistachio, chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 7 x 11-inch baking pan with parchment paper

2. Place olive oil, chocolate, sugar and salt in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring continuously until smooth and melted.  Remove from heat, add vanilla, and set aside to cool slightly for 5 minutes.  Whisk eggs into mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add ground almonds, oat flour, cocoa and baking powder.  Mix to combine.  Fold in half the raspberries and all of the pecans.

3. Transfer to baking pan, and top with remaining raspberries, and pistachio, pressing them down gently into the mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool before slicing.  Brownies will keep, airtight, at room temp for 2-3 days (though I highly doubt they will last that long!).

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Little Bites Launch!

Little BitesJust like that, after two years of work, Little Bites is heading out into the world.  Today is the launch of my second book and I am a bundle of excitement and nerves- sending all of our hard work into the world and hoping that it resonates with people definitely brings out a range of emotions.  I wanted to take this moment to fill you in on all that is going on.  Sarah’s sharing a recipe over on her blog today for the insanely good Peach Frozen Yogurt from the book, and throughout the next few weeks, I’ll let you know as other bloggers share recipes.  We also have some fun events coming up, and I do hope you’ll join us:

LITTLE BITES EVENTS

July 15: Bunch of Grapes Bookstore on Martha’s Vineyard.  Join Sarah for a talk, tasting and book signing starting at 7pm.

July 20: Cook the Vineyard, Martha’s Vineyard.  Join Sarah for a cooking demo and book signing at this annual event that celebrates local and regional cookbook authors.

August 8: Stock, Providence, RI. Join Christine for a talk and book signing, 11am-1pm.

August 13: West Tisbury Library, Martha’s Vineyard.  Join Sarah for a cooking demo and book signing starting at 5pm.

August 23: Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, Boylston, MA. Join Christine for a talk, tasting and book signing, 2-3pm.

And now, a peek at what you will find inside the pages…

_MG_8197 copyINTRODUCTION: It’s our hope that the info-packed introduction will be really helpful for health-conscious families, with topics such as The Family Pantry and Cooking with Local and Seasonal Ingredients.  There is also a great section on packing food with health and sustainability in mind.

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A few favorite recipes include:

  • Asparagus Fries with Parmesan Cheese (pictured above)
  • Cherry Chocolate Pudding Pops
  • Roasted Sesame Peas
  • Ratatouille Baked Egg Cups
  • Cherry, Coconut and Walnut Bread

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SUMMER

A few favorite recipes include:

  • Blueberry Baked Oatmeal Cups (pictured above)
  • Summer Corn Fritters
  • Green Smoothie Pops
  • Zucchini and Squash Wheels with Marinara Dipping Sauce
  • Black Bean Cakes
  • Fresh Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • Peach Frozen Yogurt

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A few favorite recipes include:

  • Brussels Sprout Crisps with Parmesan and Lemon (pictured above)
  • Roasted Pumpkin Hummus
  • Cranberry-Orange Buttermilk Snacking Cake
  • Apple Ring Pancakes
  • Broccoli-and-Cheese Soft Pretzel Knots
  • Spinach and Ricotta Egg Muffin Cups

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A few favorite recipes include:

  • Crispy Root Vegetable Patties with Yogurt-Dill Sauce (pictured above)
  • Maple Brown Rice Pudding
  • Vegetable Dumplings
  • Sweet Potato-Quinoa Nori Rolls
  • Cranberry Gingerbread Cookies
  • Sweet Potato-Cornmeal Muffins

Quick Pickled Radishes

_MG_3970It was our first day at the beach, and the nip in the air made it clear that we’re still in spring, not to be confused with the blistering heat of summer.  What an odd spring we’ve had around here.  Very dry and chilly, with hot days thrown in here and there.  We are in dire need of some good rain, and I feel horribly guilty about watering my yard every other day, but I am desperate to keep the few plants we have alive.  My garden plot is coming along slowly.  I planted much later this year than ever before, and so it feels like such a slow start.  I am hoping by next week to start harvesting salad greens.  I just hate buying greens at the grocery store and market this time of year.  I should be swimming in them!  I managed to harvest one measly bunch of radishes, and decided to try a quick pickle.  I used the recipe from Cookie and Kate, with a few tweaks.  They are fabulous on everything from my morning eggs to dinner salads and sandwiches.

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Spicy Quick Pickled Radishes

  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorn

Directions:

1. Thinly slice radishes into rounds and place them in a canning jar along with the black peppercorn.

2. In a saucepan combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, giving it a good stir.  Pour the brine over the radishes, and allow the mixture to cool.

3. You can serve the radishes immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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_MG_3985It simply wouldn’t feel right to let Memorial Day pass without acknowledging the men and women who have so bravely served our country.  My brother is one of those men, and he is our hero.  He’s the shirtless one (of course!) and we love him dearly.

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Spring Cleaning in the Kitchen

_MG_2868We’ve been doing some spring cleaning around here, though there has been very little in the way of spring weather in New England.  Allow me to get personal for a moment: my dear husband has always been a phenomenal athlete; a top ranked Canadian junior squash player, All American collegiate athlete, and Brown Athlete of the Year his freshman year.  He’s tall and lanky and he’s never had to worry about his weight.  He’s always joked that even if he puts on a few pounds, he’s just one good squash match away from his ideal weight.  And for most of his life, this has been true.  But while I was pregnant with Vik, he put on some “sympathy weight” and around the same time celebrated his 40th birthday.  Just like that his metabolism, which has always been set to high speed, took on a more leisurely pace and the pounds started adding up.  It has been two years now, and finally he decided that it was time to get serious. Because he’s an athlete I think he was more resistant to the idea that he needed a health “makeover.”  When you’ve always been in great shape, it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that your body isn’t what it used to be.  Of course he probably got sick of my nagging as well.  With his family history of heart problems, I was ON HIM to get himself in shape.

_MG_2858Over the past month, we’ve cut out refined sugar and gluten (mostly- we’re not super strict, but we’re probably about 95% gf) from our diet.  We’ve also recommitted to eating at home for the majority of our meals.  While I was busy writing two cookbooks over the past two years, ironically, our family meals suffered because I would spend all day testing recipes, and have little energy left to make dinner.  We were eating at home, but things were getting pretty boring.  When my husband wasn’t excited by my offerings, he would go out foraging, usually turning to high calorie comfort foods (Indian, Thai, pizza, etc.).  It was time to make things exciting once again in the kitchen.  In addition to our diet changes, my husband also started working out with his personal trainer again, and has been playing squash on a regular basis.  He has already lost 15 pounds and looks phenomenal- his goal weight is only 5 pounds away now, but more importantly, he is leaner, fitter and feeling better.  This past year was a tough one for our family with the whole job transition and my husband’s travel schedule, and frankly, things have been full-on since Vik was born.  Parenting two wildly active boys, 21 months apart in age, is no joke.  We are often both tired and running on empty by the end of the day, but since refocusing our eating habits we’ve been feeling so much more energetic.  We’ve always been healthy eaters, but I think we just needed to hit the reset button.  For inspiration, I picked up two new cookbooks while I was in NYC, and I am totally smitten.

_MG_2862My New Roots by Sarah Britton is a gorgeous book focused on seasonal, plant-based recipes.  The pictures are mouthwatering, and the recipes feel incredibly fresh and original.  I was immediately pulled in by the Carrot Rhubarb Muffins, which I thought would make the perfect after-nap snack for the boys.  The batter came together with ease, and the result is one of the most delicious, interesting muffins I have come across in my baking career.  The walnuts and shredded carrots add a nice heft and crunch, while the applesauce sweetens to deal.  The rhubarb becomes soft and warm, like sweet jewels studded throughout the batter.  My boys went nuts for these- they perfectly satisfy a sweet tooth craving, though they contain no refined sugar (the sweetness comes from maple syrup and coconut sugar).  I have my eye on so many of the other recipes, including Raw Key Lime Coconut Tarts, Tempeh Mushroom Breakfast Bowl, Dark Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats, Thai-Style Coconut Soup with Zucchini Noodles.  Well, those and pretty much every other recipe in the book!

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_MG_2898Sprouted Kitchen is one of my favorite food blogs, and Sara’s first book, The Sprouted Kitchen, is in constant rotation in my own kitchen.  I love the idea behind her second book, The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon.  This book echoes the way I love to eat- bowls full of grains, protein, and produce topped with a sauce that brings it all together.  Sara’s husband, Hugh, is responsible for the gorgeous pictures, which are so simple and full of life.  They never feel over styled, which is what I love about them.  They make the food feel very approachable.  I’ve bookmarked the following two recipes to try first, but there are many more on my to-cook list: Tahini Kale Slaw and Roasted Tamari Portobello Bowl, and Smoky Tortilla Soup.

_MG_2871I love that we are heading into spring feeling healthy and balanced.  Spring produce is only going to help our efforts.  If you are looking to do a bit of spring cleaning in your own kitchen, I would highly recommend these two titles.

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A Roost Giveaway

coversFor the past year and a half, I have been consumed with the writing, photographing, and editing of my second book, Little Bites.  This week my coauthor, Sarah, and I will receive the page proofs- seeing for the first time all of our hard work come together.  I am simply beside myself with anticipation.  This book feels extremely personal- it is how our families eat, how we feed our kids, and our approach to food.  Food is personal.  Food is passion and love.  Food provides both sustenance and joy…and in the best case, both.

_MG_7053Writing about food has turned into an intense passion…but the amount of work that goes into a cookbook is astounding.  From the recipe development to the testing, from the styling to the photography, not to mention the copious amounts of writing….it is a ton of work.  When I come across a gorgeous cookbook now, I have so much respect and admiration for the author.  It is no small feat.  That is why I am so excited to bring you this giveaway for two amazing cookbooks.  I am very selective about the books that make it into my kitchen, but both of these have earned a place on my shelf, that is to be sure.

_MG_7097The fact that these cookbooks are both published by Roost, my beloved publisher, is part of their appeal., because Roost produces books that feel like so much more than just cookbooks- they are filled with personality and stories, not just recipes- and I love that.  Plus the look and feel is amazing- quality paper, hard covers.  Quite simply, Roost publishes books that they wholeheartedly believe in…and you can feel it when you pick up one of their titles.  To be included among the ranks of their talented authors still blows my mind.  But enough of that…let’s get to the good stuff.

_MG_7198 First up, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin.  I am finding this book incredibly useful as it both teaches you how to cook with whole foods, and provides you with amazing recipes.  Part One of the book is all about stocking your pantry- how and why to use ingredients- and cooking from your pantry.  I love this section as I am always looking to expand my knowledge of whole foods, plus the photographs of Amy’s pantry made me absolutely green with envy!  I especially loved reading “A Week of Meals in My Kitchen,” which details Amy’s approach to daily cooking, including when she fits in the prep work.  I appreciate how she makes whole food cooking a priority while practicing efficiency.

_MG_7167Part Two is all recipes, and they are so vibrant, nutritious and delicious sounding.  I was in a soup kind of mood this past week and I tried the Simple Red Lentil Soup (which is actually found in the pantry section).  I added a few things- this book inspires creativity in the kitchen- and the result was warm, spicy, and comforting.  My kids loved it, as did my husband.  To turn up the spice factor for him, I topped the soup with red Thai chili peppers from my garden, deseeded and thinly sliced.  I also sprinkled a few kale chips on top (loosely based on this recipe).  For dessert I made a batch of Cherry Pecan Cookies, using cacao nibs instead of cherries.  I also doubled down on the nuts, adding ground almonds to the batter, along with the pecans.  The cookies were crisp on the outside, while remaining soft, chewy and nutty on the inside.  They were gone in one sitting!  I’m excited to cook my way through the rest of this book.  It will easily provide us with nutritious, warm, comforting meals throughout the colder months.

page Secondly, I have to tell you about Quench, the latest title from Ashley English.  I so admire Ashley as an author.  She consistently turns out beautiful, useful, inventive books at an awe-inspiring pace.  I don’t know how she does it!  Quench is just beautiful- I have been taking it to bed each night, flipping through the pages and dreaming of making every single drink.  I’ve been promising myself for ages that I would learn to make a few signature cocktails, but I never seem to get around to it.  I’m hoping this book will change that!

_MG_7191The point is that both of these books have me excited to be in the kitchen, and that is the sign of a great cookbook.  I can only hope Little Bites will inspire the same sentiment.  It feels like such a long wait for my own book launch (July 2015- that is like a lifetime away!) but in the meantime, I’d love to give away a copy of these two books to one lucky winner.  Leave a comment here letting me know what’s cooking in your kitchen during this lovely fall season, and I’ll draw a winner next week.

**Giveaway is now closed**

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More Than Just Cherries

_MG_2002There are t-shirts and bumper stickers for sale all over Northern Michigan with the slogan “Traverse City: More Than Just Cherries.”  This makes me laugh every time….a city so tied to its cherries that it needs a slogan to try and break away.  But it’s true, there is so much more to Traverse City than just cherries.  That being said, the cherries are pretty darn great!

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_MG_1929We’re big fans of King Orchards, a family owned and operated orchard in Central Lake, Michigan, just a short drive from the cottage.  They offer a variety of u-pick fruits as well as a farmstand with every variety of cherry product you can imagine.  This year we stocked up on buckets of sweet black cherries, apricots and raspberries.  Perhaps the most exciting thing of all was the cherry pitter, which the boys helped operate, and which led to many cherry based desserts including clafoutis and cherry crumble.  And let’s be honest, it also led to cherries being eaten by the fist-full.  Luckily, a quick dunk in the lake is all that was needed to scrub the boys of their cherry stains.

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Chocolate Buttermilk Cake and Fresh Strawberries

_MG_0815Is there any combination more decadent than strawberries and chocolate?  I think not.  We’re still on a major strawberry kick around here, and my latest creation is this insanely moist, rich chocolate buttermilk cake with whipped coconut cream and strawberries.  I came across The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook somewhere along the way in my travels.  I absolutely love cookbooks that also tell a story, which this book does in the form of snippets of life on a small Vermont dairy farm.  I love baking with buttermilk, often adding it to my pancakes to make them lighter and fluffier.  With this cake, the buttermilk adds moisture, helping to lighten the incredible chocolatey richness.

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_MG_0817I topped the cake with whipped coconut cream (be sure to use full fat coconut milk and pour off the water!) and heaps of fresh strawberries.  We ate this cake on the first official day of summer, which felt appropriate!

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_MG_0789(don’t you love Vijay stoically ‘driving’ the tractor, with strawberry juice staining his chin?)

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_MG_0798(despite all the beauty of the farm, we somehow always end up here- digging in the parking lot!)

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Strawberry Rhubarb Boozy Granita

_MG_0838This past weekend we went strawberry picking at the farm, and we left with quite the loot.  10 pounds to be exact.  I’ve been baking the fresh berries into pancakes and muffins, topping our oatmeal with heaps of cut berries and throwing them into just about anything else that comes out of our kitchen.  Since the weather has turned decidedly balmy, I decided that some kind of frozen concoction was in order.  This granita is made by boiling strawberries and rhubarb into a sweet, tart juice, and freezing it at the perfect consistency.  A splash of boozy goodness elevates this dessert for the adult crowd.  I made two batches (and labeled them BOLDLY)- one with the Rhubarb Tea, and one for the kiddos.

_MG_0855Strawberry Rhubarb Boozy Granita

Ingredients:
1 – 1/4 cups water
1 – 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 – 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup RHUBARB tea

_MG_0844In a saucepan heat the rhubarb, strawberries, water, sugar and lemon zest until the mixture becomes soft and bubbly.  Remove from the heat, pour into a strainer and press out the juices.  Allow to cool before adding the the booze and lemon juice.

Place in a large baking dish (pyrex or glass) and freeze until the mixture becomes slushy. Rake the surface with a fork to start breaking the slushy mixture and form the granita. Repeat every 30 minutes until all the juice is frozen into large crystals. Scoop the granita into bowls and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar, and a sprig of basil or mint.

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Boozy Toasted Coconut ROOT Beer Float

_MG_8521Yeah, I know- that title is something else huh?  Boozy Toasted Coconut Root Beer Float.  Are you kidding me?  Just take a sec to let that sink in…  So it’s that time of year, when the first mild spring day has me itching to fire up the bbq and have our first outdoor dinner.  Of course I am getting a little ahead of myself, seeing as the nights are still chilly, but we are getting there.  The first thing I always plan on the menu is dessert.  I LOVE dessert, and since we aren’t quite into berry season yet, I can’t rely on my favorite crumbles and cobblers.  So in the meantime…and all the time forever more, there is this root beer float.  Perfect for the kids (obviously omit the booze, as if that needs stating!), and a decadent treat for the adults.

_MG_8529This concoction’s secret weapon? Art in the Ages ROOT, a spirit with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice…sweet, warm and perfect for spiking a float.  This is some seriously crafted stuff, and on top of the artisinal brewing, it’s also certified organic.  Of course homemade hot fudge sauce, warm toasted coconut and coconut ice cream don’t hurt either!

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Boozy Toasted Coconut Root Beer Float

Ingredients:

  1. 2 parts Art in the Ages ROOT
  2. 4 parts High Quality Root Beer
  3. 1 big scoop of Coconut Ice Cream
  4. Sprinkling of Toasted Shredded Coconut
  5. Generous dollop of Hot Fudge (I used this recipe to make my own- to die for!)

Directions:

Add ROOT to a chilled glass or mason jar, then fill it up almost to the top with root beer.  Place a large scoop of coconut ice cream right on top (a little trick, if you make the scoop larger than the mouth of the glass, it will stay on top instead of sinking).  Drizzle a generous helping of hot fudge over the ice cream and top with toasted coconut.  I toast my own unsweetened shredded coconut by simply giving it a few minutes on medium heat in my cast iron skillet, stirring it so it doesn’t burn.  Enjoy!

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