Blessings in the New Year

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Whelp, the holidays are drawing to a close, and as the new year approaches many of you may be thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I’ve tried to make and keep some resolutions over the years…only to break them a  couple weeks into January — not the way I want to start off the New Year!

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So, instead of making resolutions this year, I have been reflecting on this past year and what I hope and wish for the next season of life. I did some awesome things in 2014: I finished my graduate program, got my first “big girl job,” got a dog, celebrated friends’ weddings, road tripped, and spent a copious amount of time with friends and family.

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I did it! You can call me Master now.

Next year, I’m hoping for the chance to travel more, pay off a credit card, and become more financially stable. Also, I want to hold myself accountable to blog more often. With my new job, things got a little crazy and I had little time to cook, take pictures of it and blog about it. I feel like this next year is going to offer many new beginnings and I’m excited about it!

McMenamins BEEEERRRRS

McMenamins Portland. Cheers!

A couple of my friends grew up in the South and a tradition for New Year’s down there is to prepare black-eyed peas either on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Black-eyed peas are considered lucky if eaten at the beginning of the year for many reasons. Click on this link to find out more about the history of the black-eyed pea in the South.  http://gosoutheast.about.com/od/restaurantslocalcuisine/a/blackeyedpeas.htm  

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In honor of my Southern friends and my wishes for you and yours in the New Year, I’m cooking up a pot of Hoppin’ John! Black-eyed peas, rice, bacon, onions, and bell peppers, along with a few other ingredients, make up this delicious, homey stew/goulash thing. My version of Hoppin’ John features Andouille sausage from a local Seattle company, CasCIOPPO Brothers Meats which is located in Ballard. They are renowned for their delicious, authentic Italian sausages and meats and it turns out that they make a pretty decent Andouille as well!

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For a complete Southern meal, serve up this Hoppin’ John with collards and corn bread. The collards represent paper money and the corn bread represents gold. May you have luck and prosperity in 2015!

Hoppin’ John

1 lb CasCIOPPO Brothers Andouille Sausage
1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1/2 11oz can tomato puree
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp hot sauce of your choice. I used Sriracha!
Salt and pepper
Serve with: Rice, corn bread, and/or collard greens

1. Soak black-eyed peas in water for a couple hours. This will speed up the cooking process later!

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2. In a heavy skillet, heat up a little olive oil for the Andouille. Add the sausage to the warmed oil and brown on all sides.

3. Add onion and bell pepper to skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened.

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4. Add celery and garlic to the skillet. Sauté until garlic is fragrant, then add the peas, bay leaves, thyme, paprika, chile powder, hot sauce, and red pepper flakes. Add enough water to the skillet to cover everything and bring to a simmer. The peas will soak up most of the water while they cook.

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5. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until peas are done. While cooking, if water gets too low, feel free to add more water to the skillet.

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6. When the peas are done and there is still some water in the bottom of the pan, add the tomato puree and simmer until heated through.

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Serve over rice or alongside corn bread and collard greens for a delicious meal.

Good luck in 2015!

Tropical Granola

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Oh man, life has been busy! So busy, in fact, that I have been struggling with having enough time in the morning during the week. All my friends know that I LOVE breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day and let’s just say you don’t really want to be around me if I haven’t had my morning pick me up. Trust me, it’s not good.

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We went and got a dog. A DOG. I have been a cat person all my life, but my husband and I decided to take the plunge a couple months ago. Duke (AKA the cutest dog ever…but I might be a little biased) is a Whippet/German Shepherd mix and if you know what a Whippet is, you know that they’re super docile, but they have a lot of energy to kill. Hence the hour walk every morning and evening, plus potty break walks. Whew!

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Needless to say, I’m in desperate need of an easy, quick, and tasty breakfast. This granola is the solution I’ve been looking for! I love it over some Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. The best part is, not only is it quick and easy, but there is no processed sugar, no preservatives, fillers or other yucky stuff you might find in store bought granola. With heart-healthy flax seeds and nuts, fiber-filled oats, and a little sweetness, this one’s sure to be a champion of weekday breakfasts!!

Dry Ingredients:

4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup shredded coconut
2 T. ground flax seeds
1 T. ground ginger
1/2 cup dried date pieces, roughly chopped
pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut oil (I used Nature’s Way Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil)
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 t. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Roughly chop the macadamias and pecans.IMG_20140816_125559

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients together, except the dried dates. In a separate, small mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients.

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4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well to combine.

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5. Pour out onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring a couple times during the cooking so all the granola gets toasted. Let cool and add in the date pieces. Enjoy over yogurt, with milk, or as is for a delicious snack! I keep mine in a mason jar, but any air-tight container will work!

CAM00095 (2)Happy Eating!

Put the Lime in the Coconut!

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Summer’s here!!!!!! Trips to the beach. Farmer’s markets. Camping. Gardening. Piña coladas. The temperature getting above 65F. Cookouts. The inevitable wrath of the sun on my pale Scandinavian skin. Itchy, bump-covered skin due to thousands of mosquito bites. Okay, so there are some awesome things about summer, aaaaaaand there are some not so great things.

These cookies are definitely one of the great things about summer.

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Take one bite of these cookies, and you will be immediately whisked away to some tropical island paradise (it helps if you close your eyes while you eat the cookie).

White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies with Toasted Coconut and Lime

Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
2 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
1 bag Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
juice and zest of one lime

1. Preheat oven  to 350 degrees.

2. Spread coconut evenly on a non-stick metal cookie sheet and bake for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Monitor that coconut! Last thing you want is burned coconut.

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3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and lime juice and zest.

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4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in coconut, macadamias, and white chocolate.

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5.  Place 1-inch balls of cookie dough onto cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Let cookies sit on cookie sheet for 1 minute before transferring them to cookie rack.

 

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And, the final step — make sure to enjoy some of these before others gobble them all up!

Don’t Throw Those Away Either!

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IMG_0399Last summer, my husband and I started renting a house, and the landlord let us get chickens. I can totally say that it was one of the better life decisions we have made. They are so easy to take care of and they are fun to have around. But, they also give us wonderful, tasty eggs. I love them almost any way you can cook them: scrambled, fried, soft-boiled, over-easy, poached, sunny-side up…the list goes on! I also use them to make delicious ice cream, meringue, custards, and hollandaise sauce.

So, eggs are tasty and can be used for so many things, but did you know that you can use the egg shells for other things besides just throwing them away? Yes! Egg shells are like nature’s perfect little package and have so many beneficial properties. Here is a list of ways to use your egg shells for your health and your garden, and around your home!

1. Egg shells are full of calcium and are perfect for your plants in your garden. Let the egg shells dry out and grind them up with a mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender. Sprinkle them around your plants in your garden and they will gain all the nutrients from the shells. The shells are also an all-natural pest deterrent. Critters like slugs, snails and deer will stay away from your plants. Alternatively, you could just put them in your compost pile if you have one. They will decompose and you can use the nutrient rich soil for next year’s garden.
 
2. You can use the shells to plant seeds in instead of buying peat pots at the store. Just fill them with dirt, place them in an egg carton and plant your seeds! When it’s time to plant the seedlings outside, just plant the whole thing. The egg shell will deteriorate and provide your new plant with the nutrients it needs!
 
3. If you’re a fan of making boiled eggs, instead of dumping out that water, let it cool and water your plants with it. The water has absorbed some of the calcium in the eggshells and it’s beneficial to your plants!
 
4. Crush up the shells and use them as a powerful, all-natural abrasive for scrubbing your pots and pans!
 
5. Add a few to homemade stock or broth for an extra calcium boost!
 

*It’s SUPER IMPORTANT to note that before using egg shells for anything, you must wash and dry them. Egg shells harbor tons of bacteria and germs and if you don’t dry them afterwards, they will rot and you’ll have a horrible smell eeking from your kitchen. Wash them with soap and water and put them in the oven at the lowest setting for about 10 minutes or so. If you plan on keeping them for a period of time, you can save them in the freezer!

*Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia

A Moroccan-Inspired Easter Feast

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I know, I know, Easter was almost a month ago. Let me tell you, hosting Easter and moving at the same time do not mix. I got so caught up with moving, setting up our new place, unpacking box after box, that it is only now that I have had the time to write another post. I have been promising you guys my recipes from Easter, and here they finally are!! I love Easter food, and I loved being able to create some new traditions this year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some good old ham, scalloped potatoes, steamed asparagus and rolls. In fact, I’m salivating at the very notion of all that food right now. That menu is very close to what I made last year and it was delicious. But, this year when I was asked to host Easter dinner, I thought, how fun would it be to do something totally different? With the help of some fellow bloggers’ recipes and creating some new favorites, I have a fantastic menu for you to draw from!

CAM00123Citrus & Herb Marinated Olives
Roasted Potatoes with Turmeric & Saffron
Roasted Carrots with Honey Butter & Thyme
Quinoa Spinach Salad with Apricots
Leg of Lamb with Rosemary & Garlic and Harissa Yogurt Sauce
Whole Orange Cake with Strawberries

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First, start off your delicious meal with some marinated olives and flatbread. You could even get some hummus and/or baba ganoush for dipping if you wanted. These olives have changed my whole outlook on olives and I love them. Before these, I had really only tried the black ones out of the can and kalamatas. While those are tasty, these are out of this world. Plus they are super easy!

Citrus & Herb Marinated Olives

Adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen

CAM001251/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed from the stem
Peel of half a lemon, cut into thin strips
Peel of half an orange, cut into thin strips
2 cups mixed olives (The antipasto bar at your local market is a great place to get a variety of olives!)
1/2 tsp dried fennel seeds
 

1. In a medium saucepan, heat everything except the olives until warm. The goal is to infuse the olive oil with all the flavor from the herbs and citrus.

2. When oil is very warm, and herbs and garlic are fragrant, add the olives and stir to coat. Heat olives for 3-5 minutes. Take off heat.

3. Serve at warm temperature with oil drizzled over olives, or cool and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 1-3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

CAM00126Roasted Potatoes with Turmeric & Saffron

8 medium-sized potatoes (or enough to fill a 9×13 pan)
2 T. turmeric
1 T. paprika
2 generous pinches of saffron
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt & pepper to taste (remember: potatoes LOVE salt)
 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Large dice potatoes (make sure to make the chunks roughly the same size so they cook evenly!) and place in glass 9×13 baking dish. Generously drizzle with olive oil.

3. Sprinkle potatoes with turmeric, paprika, saffron and salt and pepper. Gently stir potatoes to coat.

4. Roast at 400 for 30 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.

Roasted Carrots with Honey Butter & Thyme

1/2 pound carrots, washed and scrubbed, sliced on a bias
2 T. honey
1/2 stick butter
5 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt to taste
 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small saucepan, melt butter and add honey. Stir to combine.

3. Place carrots in baking dish and drizzle with honey butter mixture. Strip thyme sprigs of leaves and sprinkle them over the carrots. Add salt to taste and stir carrots to coat.

4. Roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until carrots can be easily pierced with a fork but aren’t mushy!

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Quinoa Spinach Salad with Apricots

The quinoa salad was a huge hit and I have Eating Well to thank for the recipe. I didn’t change anything because it sounded so good and it turned out perfectly!

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/quinoa_salad_with_dried_apricots_baby_spinach.html

Leg of Lamb with Rosemary & Garlic

A big thank you goes to Bill the Butcher in Magnolia for helping me choose which cut of meat would be best for my Easter get together. They are always so helpful whenever I go there (as is the staff at every Bill the Butcher I’ve been to) and I love getting food that is REAL food and doesn’t come with antibiotics or hormones and other chemicals. Cheers to natural food!

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one 5 lb leg of lamb, bone-in
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
8 sprigs of fresh rosemary
 
Herbed Salt Rub:
3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
 

1. Preheat oven to  325 degrees. Rub lamb all over with salt rub and let come to room temperature.

2. Place lamb fatty side up. With kitchen scissors, cut slits all over the top of the lamb and insert slivers of garlic and small sprigs of rosemary.

3. Roast for 3 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the lamb reads 175-180 degrees.

4. Let lamb rest for 10 minutes under some foil. Remove sprigs of rosemary before serving. Slice lamb and arrange on a serving platter, garnish with fresh rosemary if desired.

Harissa Yogurt Sauce

1 cup plain greek yogurt
harissa spread or paste, to taste
 

1. How to make this sauce is really dependent on how spicy you like your food. I LOVE spicy, so I went a little heavy on the harissa. Start out with a tablespoon or so. If it ends up being too hot, you can always add more yogurt and if you want more spice, just add more harissa! Just mix the two together! It’s that simple.

Whole Orange Cake with Strawberries

I found this recipe on an awesome blog called The View from Great Island. You should all check it out! The recipes all sound amazing. I made a couple changes, but if you want the original recipe, just visit the blog.

Adapted from The View from Great Island
http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/2012/11/minimal-monday-flourless-whole-tangerine-cake-gluten-free.html
 
2 large oranges (to make about a cup of puree)
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 cups almond meal or  almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, more if you like your whipped cream sweeter
2 cups macerated strawberries
 

1. Wash your oranges and put them in a large saucepan covered with cold water.  Boil for 15 minutes.  Drain the pan, refill with cold water, and boil again for 15 minutes. This step is supposed to remove the bitterness of the pith. You can also do this step ahead of time if you wish.

2. Chop the oranges and remove any seeds, being sure not to lose any of the juice!  Put oranges and any juices in a food processor, stopping to scrape down the sides when needed.  I ended up having extra puree, so make sure to measure out 1 cup of puree for the cake, and save the rest for another cake or something else! Set aside, and refrigerate the extra.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar until light and creamy.  Fold in the almond meal, orange pulp, and baking powder, mixing until combined. Pour into a buttered 9″ spring form pan (I also lined mine with parchment paper….just in case).

4. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to finish cooling.

5. To make whipped cream topping, pour heavy whipping cream into a stand mixer (or use a handheld mixer) and using the whisk attachment, whisk for a few minutes or until it starts to thicken. Add vanilla and confectioner’s sugar and keep whisking until you have soft peaks.

6. Just before serving, top cake with whipped cream and macerated strawberries.

I also had fun creating some decorations for my table. I really wanted to use a bunch of Moroccan lanterns and tea cups for my candles and flowers, but if you’ve ever looked up the the price for those, you’d know that they can get a little spendy. I had a blast creating my own Moroccan lanterns following this tutorial I found on Pinterest. Here is the end result!

      CAM00128You literally just paint the inside of the jar with some glass paint and paint whatever design you want on the outside with some gold puff paint. Use them as candle holders or vases for you beautiful flower arrangements! Thank you Ballard Dakota Art for all your help in selecting the right kinds of paint.

 http://matsutakeblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/spaghetti-sauce-jar-moroccan-lanterns.html

CAM00130These lanterns were super easy to make and definitely an inexpensive alternative to actual Moroccan lanterns. I bought three glass cylinders from Value Village. They were all the same diameter but different heights. I then bought some pre-punched paper on Amazon, cut it to size and taped it onto the candle holders. I think I spent about $10 total to make three of these guys. Everyone kept asking me where I got them and they were so surprised when I sheepishly told them that I made them!

 I hope that this post inspires you to try some new foods, and maybe experiment a little more in the kitchen!

Creamy Chicken Pot Pies

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It’s springtime, right?! Time for daring women to don sun dresses and flip flops. Well, if you’re anywhere in Washington, you’re probably not anywhere close to admitting that Easter is less than a month away (let alone wearing flip flops on a habitual basis). All of the beautiful flowers are lying to you. Those daffodils and cherry blossoms have no business blooming when I’m still wearing all these layers. While my friends are on vacation in warm, sunny places like Hawaii and California (why couldn’t you pack me in your suitcase??), it has been so cold, windy, and rainy up here at the 47th parallel, that I went and whipped me up some chicken pot pie.

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I know what you’re thinking, “But Ginelle, it’s April. Pot pie is a warm, comforting dish you make in the really cold months.” Well, some places up north and in the passes just got snow a couple weeks ago — hence my reasoning for making this delicious, creamy pot pie. And I can tell you that my husband, who works outside in all kinds of weather, really appreciated it too.

CAM00101Now, if you’ve never had my mama’s pie crust, you are seriously missing out! It’s so tender and flaky — the perfect accompaniment to creamy pie filling, full of chicken and veggies. Not to mention this pie crust is ridiculously easy, and this is coming from someone who hates making pie crust. Who has time to roll out crust? You don’t even have to chill this crust, just mix it all up, roll it out, and put it on whatever pie you’re making! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. If you only want one double crust, you can easily just half this recipe, or save the other crust for later in the freezer.

My featured ingredient for this recipe is Stahlbush Island Farms Green Peas. Not only is the farm in the Pacific Northwest (found in Corvallis, OR), but the company is green, and I mean so eco-friendly that you’ll never want to eat any other peas, cause eating these peas makes you feel so darn good about your food. Stahlbush bans GMOs, makes their own electricity, and even puts their products in a 100% biodegradable bag, among other awesome sustainable practices. I’m definitely a fan, and you should be too!!

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Mama Q’s Perfect Pie Crust (Makes 2 double crusts)

4 cups all purpose flour

1 3/4 cups shortening

1 3/4 t. salt

1/2 cup water

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 T. vinegarCAM00080(1)

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry cutter until dough resembles small pebbles.

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2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients and pour into shortening mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon, or use your hands, and mix until just incorporated. The less you play with pie dough, the better it will be!

CAM00083(1)3. If it feels difficult to handle, chill for 15-20 minutes. My mom never chills it, but sometimes I feel like it needs it — totally up to you!!

 

Pie Filling

1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded or cubed

1 large or 2 medium sized potatoes, diced

4 carrots, scrubbed and diced

1 onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 cup Stahlbush Island Farms frozen green peas (or any frozen peas)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 T cornstarch

1/2 cup heavy cream

3-4 oz cream cheese, cubed

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

5-6 fresh sage leaves

salt & pepper to taste

1 egg, beaten

Thyme sprigs for garnish, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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2. Drizzle vegetable oil In a large pot and cook potatoes over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until potatoes start developing some color.
Add carrots, onion and celery to pot and cook until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Add more oil if needed — potatoes love oil!

CAM00090(1)3. Add chicken, garlic, and fresh herbs, stir well and cook until garlic is fragrant. Add 2 cups of broth and let simmer.

4. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1/2 cup broth and, while stirring, pour it into pot with chicken mixture. Cook until mixture is thickened. Add cream cheese and simmer until melted and incorporated. If mixture is not thick enough, you can always add more cornstarch – but just a little at a time! You don’t want your filling to be a paste. Make sure to mix it with a little water first so you don’t get lumps in your filling. Taste and season with salt and pepper!

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5. Roll out pie dough on a well floured board and cut out circles that overhang the edge of the ramekins by 1/2 inch. Divide mixture among four large ramekins or make one big pie! Mix egg with a Tbsp of water to make an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, paint the outer edge of the ramekin with the wash. This will help the crust stick to the ramekin. Lay the crust over the top of the ramekin and pinch the edges together. Cut a couple slits into the crust so the filling can release steam while cooking. Brush crust with egg wash and garnish with sprigs of thyme, if desired.

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6. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Now, go curl up on your couch with your pie, a blanket and a good movie and enjoy!!

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Don’t Throw That Away!

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One thing Seattle-ites have in abundance: coffee. Living in the Seattle area, I never have to go far to get a great cuppa joe. There is even a corner in downtown where you can stand and see four Starbucks — one in each direction! In addition to all of this java goodness readily available, I have a coffee maker at home for when I can’t be bothered to walk the two blocks to my neighborhood coffee shop.

Another thing most people have in Seattle: dry, rough skin. (Thanks endless rain and wind!). Fer reals tho, my skin gets so gross during the winter and when spring finally does come, I just wanna moisturize and exfoliate til kingdom come. Here’s an awesome recipe for coffee body scrub, along with some other ways to reuse your coffee grounds at home. Did I mention that caffeine kicks cellulite to the curb and coconut is a great all-natural moisturizer? You’ll also smell ama-za-zing.

Coffee Scrub

Vanilla Latte Body Scrub

1 cup used coffee grounds

1 cup melted coconut oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive or jojoba oil (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Mix all ingredients together and put in a container with a lid that would be good for the shower. The amount of olive oil just depends on how liquidy you want it. Keep in mind that the coconut oil will harden as it cools. I didn’t use very much coconut oil the first time I made this and it was difficult to scoop it out of the container.

2. While in the shower or bath, scoop a small amount into your palm and work it into cellulite prone areas, backs of your arms, feet — wherever you feel like you need a little extra care!

3. Note: If you use this scrub every day, this scrub could possibly clog your drain. Coffee grounds don’t dissolve like sugar or salt. I haven’t had any problems yet and I’ve been using this scrub about 2-3 times a week. If you do encounter problems, you could always use the scrub in the bathroom and let it sit on your skin for as long as you can and then brush it off with a towel.

Coffee Conditioner (for dark hair) 1. Work used coffee grounds into clean, wet hair. Massage your head like you would for shampoo for a few minutes. 2. Rinse hair thoroughly. 3. Brunettes! Not only will you get an awesome, all-natural conditioner, but you’ll also get some highlights!

FlowersGardening If you’re a gardener, coffee grounds are amazing at putting nitrogen back into the soil. Just sprinkle around your already established plants or mix them in with your seeds and plant them. Your plants will be fuller and supposedly the coffee will deter cats and certain pests from meddling with your precious plants!

Cleaning

Pots & Pans: If you have a cast iron skillet, you most likely know that those things are never supposed to be touched by soap. SOAP = EVIL! Instead of using your good sea salt to clean your skillet, just pour some used coffee grounds in there and scrub!

Odors: Put an open container of used coffee grounds in your fridge in lieu of baking soda and those grounds will kick those nasty smells’ butts!

Bathroom: Use the grounds for an all-natural bathtub/shower cleaner. The grounds should get rid of all the gross slime, scum or dirt. Just be careful though…the coffee could possibly stain the bathtub, depending on the material that your tub is made of. Test it out in an inconspicuous area first before cleaning the whole thing!

 

*Featured photo courtesy of be-cause-blog.com

Clam & Bacon Pasta with Roasted Asparagus

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Welcome to Humble Homecooking’s first ever blog post!

IMG_0395I am so excited to start sharing my adventures in cooking with you! For those of you who know me, you know that one of my favorite things in life is bacon. If I could have my way, I would put that stuff on everything — but considering that large amounts of this salty goodness turn out to be sorta bad for you…all things in moderation. I love using bacon in this dish to flavor the pasta and clams with that hickory smoked flavor and the great thing is that you don’t have to use a lot of it to get that awesome bacon-y flavor! Pair this pasta dish with some delicious roasted asparagus and a tasty glass of wine and you have yourself a wonderful meal.

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It is my goal with this blog to feature at least one local, sustainable, or high quality product in every recipe I post – we’ll see how that pans out. In this recipe, you would think living in the northwest and all, I’d feature the clams. And while the clams were wild caught, I wanted to feature this awesome, affordable wine I recently discovered. For us wine lovers, we’re really blessed to live in Washington – there are so many wineries! This one was on sale at my local supermarket and I thought I’d give it a try. Lone Birch is a winery in Yakima and this Pinot Gris paired perfectly with the seafood and lemon in this dish – a little fruity, but not too sweet. Hope you enjoy!

Clam & Bacon Pasta
1 lb clams
4 slices good, hickory smoked bacon
3 cloves crushed or minced garlic
¼ cup white onion, thinly sliced
1 cup Lone Birch Pinot Gris (or any dry white wine)
2 T butter
juice from ½ lemon
¼ cup fresh, chopped Italian parsley
1 box of thin whole wheat spaghetti (or angel hair pasta)
grated Parmesan for topping

1. Cut bacon into bite size pieces and cook in medium pan on medium heat until crispy. Add onion to bacon and let caramelize. While the bacon is cooking, begin reducing the wine for the sauce. Heat wine in small saucepan so it’s just bubbling. Reduce wine until half of it remains in the pot. Add butter and lemon juice to reduced wine.

2. Rinse the clams, and iIMG_0374f needed, scrub them. Sometimes clams can be kind of sandy, but if you got them at your supermarket, they should be fairly clean. Steam them over a pot of boiling water with the lid on until the clams start to open. If any clams do not open, DO NOT eat them. This means that they were dead before you got them and they will make you sick. After cooking, drain the liquid from them and add the clams to the bacon.

3. While clams are cooking, cook the pasta according to package directions. Thin pasta does not take very much time to cook, so if you cook it too early, you’ll end up with cold pasta.

IMG_03774. Add garlic and parsley to bacon and clams and cook until fragrant. Pour reduced wine mixture into pan with bacon and clams — simmer for a few minutes.

 

5. Put cooked pasta onto plate and top with clams and bacon. Spoon extra white wine sauce onto pasta and top with grated Parmesan. Enjoy with roasted asparagus and a glass of Lone Birch Pinot Gris!

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Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch asparagusIMG_0372
olive oil to drizzle
2 T balsamic vinegar
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Rinse and pat dry asparagus. You can leave the spears whole, or you can cut them into more manageable pieces. I cut my spears on a bias (at an angle) into three pieces . Place in roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Finish with sea salt and pepper.

3. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. The size of your asparagus will determine the cooking time. I don’t like mine mushy, so I always err on the side of undercooked. It’s a whole lot easier to keep cooking if they need it than to have to deal with overcooked asparagus.

 

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