In the kitchen

To go along last month’s kitchen posts, I can see I only take photos of the desserts and treats that are made here at home…DSC_0102 Siena made these cupcakes to take to some friends’ place.  She really like (cup) cake decorating.  I think Mark wouldn’t mind if she practiced more… (ha, ha!)

DSC_0024 2Poppy seed and lemon cookies made by Siena too.

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I made this rice pudding from this book.  In Chile there is a dessert called “Arroz con Leche” (Rice with Milk) but I’ve only made it a couple of times in all these years.  I never think of it, but this time it was perfect with a name like “Leftover – Rice Pudding.”  Perfect!

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And as we ate it at my house growing up, we added apple sauce.  Another way to eat our apple sauce as the excitement of having it is slowing down.

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There were a couple of weeks of menu planned but not every day.  I’m slacking, and it’s getting a little more hectic around meals.  I need to get in the groove again.  But even though not every day was planned, we did eat a meal.

DSC_0106 Pot roast.

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And home made rolls from this recipe.  I tried it last month, and we all liked it, and it’s so quick! Love it.

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I’m continuing to organize all my clipped recipes from years collecting them and it always inspires me to try something new.  So far so good!

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Happy cooking everyone!

In the kitchen

When I was in high school (in Chile) I came to Michigan (in the US) as an exchange student.  I lived in Michigan for a year and you might also want to know that I went to the same high school and had the same counselor than Madonna did!  I’m serious.

While there, I met a beautiful family and became good friends with their older daughter.  We are still friends (she even went to Chile to see me and meet my family few years later) and we keep in touch and makes me so happy to see her beautiful family in pictures (Thanks Facebook!) But wish I could see them all more.  Time has passed so fast.

Few months into my stay here, I was at her house one day and she said that we should make brownies.  But we were heading out somewhere soon, and I thought we didn’t have enough time to make it.  Little did I know that cake mixes existed and that all you had to do was add water and an egg probably, and bake it and ta da!  As you can imagine, having always cooked from scratch (because it was the only way in Chile back then) this box thing seemed like magic.  Powder + Water = Magic!

Fast forward 30 years later.  Last year, we were at one of Lucas’s baseball games and someone brought brownies as a snack for the kids and when I said thanks to the mom she said something like “No problem, they are so easy to make from a box!”  Later that day, Siena asked what did she mean by saying “from a box.”  My food- sheltered kids didn’t know we could bake and make cookies from a box like that.  So Siena then went to the store and bought some boxes and made magic.  We had brownies short there after.

It reminded me of my experience with brownies in a box, almost at the same age, just 30 years earlier.

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And even though these rice crispies are not from a box, they almost fit in that same category because they are so easy.  This is the first time we’ve made them with marshmallow, you know the normal way, without all the natural substitutions I’ve always tried.  (But we used Trader Joe’s rice cereal.)

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Siena took those treats to her swim team, and also made these extra large “Hershey Kisses” for Mark and Lucas for Valentines with it.  DSC_0020 DSC_0019 They looked great and so fun to see, thinking they are XL Kisses!

DSC_0021 Continuing with the sweets, I made (on a different day) this Orange and Olive Oil Cake.  It was really good, though it felt a little heavy to me.  No one else complained though, they all gave it a 10!  (You see I have a score scale 1 to 10 (10 being the best food ever!) for all new foods I make.  Anything averaging over 8, I repeat.  I have too many cookbooks to choose from to repeat anything lower than that, foods they don’t like as much…. UNLESS I really liked it and no one else did, so I wait few months and do it again when they don’t remember and give it another try.  Don’t tell them, tricks of the cook…)

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I wonder if I can put a little less oil… not sure how it would work.  It is really good and very easy to make, a great special treat.  I think they voted is a keeper.

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And to celebrate Valentine’s Day I made a special stuffed French toast.  Also, not very light, but a good treat.  Mashed bananas on one slice of bread, Nutella on the other.  Closed them together and then dipped in egg and milk mixture (vanilla and cinnamon too) and then cooked on a pan for a couple of minutes.  Then transfer to the oven for 5-8 minutes.   The most important part now, get a cute kid in pj’s to sprinkle powder sugar and decorate with fruit (raspberries in this case.)  DSC_0026

Also a little much for breakfast in my opinion, but since it was more like brunch, it was more like a dessert.  And good for hungry kids.

I know, I really do know, that we ate other foods besides sweets.  There were salads, salmon, grits, beans, chicken, stew, meatloaf, potato leek soup… but no pictures to show.  Maybe next time.  Let’s see what comes up in photos next Kitchen post!

in the kitchen

I did a little cleaning in the kitchen few weeks ago.  I find that winter, January in particular, is a good cleaning and re-arranging month.

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Not so much decluttering here in this room just yet,  I am still enjoying and looking through all those library cookbooks on top…  DSC_0097 DSC_0098Some beautiful, great cookbooks gifted by some friends.  I am having a lot of fun looking through them and planning our meals.

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We’ve enjoyed salads with some new oil and vinegar I received for Christmas.  I think I’m going to go check it out when we are out.

The day starts.  I make bread, some days.  Some days I make muffins.  Some days the food goes in the slow cooker in the morning.  Other days, goes from the freezer to the oven.  People get home.  They are taken to activities.  The food is ready.  Hungry people walk in.  The food is eaten.  Plates are empty, dishes are washed.  Showers are taken, bodies lay in beds.  The next day begins.

In between all that there is going on, there is always food (we are lucky that way.)  As I clean my recipes, from folders, binders, baskets, I pick our meals for what sounds good, trying to vary what we eat.  I like it that way.

One of those days, I found a pumpkin bread recipe and some easy dinner rolls (I’ve never made them before.)  I made them for dinner the other day (no pictures of them, read explanation above.)  As they are coming out of the oven, Mark stops by the oven and tries one of the rolls with butter, and comments after having butter melted all over “these are dangerously good!”  Ahhh… my heart melts too… I can’t ask to hear anything better than that!  Those are going to be on repeat I am sure.

In my cleaning, I found these seeds that we bought to sprout.  We are waiting. DSC_0108 DSC_0112 DSC_0114 DSC_0116 DSC_0001 DSC_0002 Looking good!

DSC_0004 A Christmas present.  Beans and beer corn bread.  Perfect for a cold winter day! (Thank you, Grandma)

DSC_0022Elderberry syrup being made with frozen elderberries and some of the honey we had harvested from our bees.

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I couldn’t wait… I know strawberries and raspberries in February in Portland is not normal.  But oh… they looked so good…  And they were!DSC_0101Now, we are ready to go back to oranges and apples for few more months.

DSC_0146And of course, lemons too!  This is Siena’s and Mark’s dessert one day.  I’m not a lemon bar kinda’ person, but it was really good.

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This is where it’s all happening at the moment… What have you’ve been cooking and baking?

the kitchen during Christmas

we’ve been cooking and baking a lot lately, but not all were photographed.

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Some menu-making, lots of friends over, having fun.

DSC_0693 copyLucas made these gnocchi’s the last time he was in his outdoors day.  They made them with acorn flour they had made from scratch.  They were really good, so we shared them during  dinner when he got home.

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Inspired by Amanda’s post about grits we’ve had a couple of dinners this month. I use SouleMama’s recipe and some ideas of the topping and a combination of other online recipes.  And some more ideas I’d like to try.  It has been popular and a favorite of everyone.  A win-win meal I’d say.

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There were many days of baking.

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There was fudge made, and biscotti, and chocolate thumbprints.

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And of course, sugar cookies as well.

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And a day of decorating them all.DSC_0004 copy DSC_0001 copy Yellow and blue stars.

DSC_0006 copy Blazer Dancers…

DSC_0005 copy DSC_0007 copy DSC_0011 copyEiffel Towers.

DSC_0009 copy Basketballs and Blazers players.  Yellow snowmen and gingerbread men.

DSC_0012 copy DSC_0028 copy Smiley faces and Christmas trees.

DSC_0019 copy Squirrels and porcupines and baseballs.

DSC_0023 copy DSC_0018 copy DSC_0029 copyAnd a day of packing for friends to enjoy.

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And cinnamon rolls dough being mixed by everyone.

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I’d say, these were the best cinnamon rolls of all time.  Probably because we all worked on them together.

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I have to add to the goodness of these is seeing our kids hand over a plate over the fence, full of warm cinnamon rolls to our friends.  It is as much of a tradition as it is to make them and eat them.  Sharing them with our friends that morning, as we have for close to a dozen Christmas mornings, is a sweet gift that reminds us how lucky we are to have them in our lives.

How I wish I could have pictures of our kids delivering and taking these plates over the fence with Christmas morning faces with their brief smiles and comments of presents received… because in these 12 years they’ve changed and grown up so much, but it’s probably the same plate being offered all these years.  To sweetness of all sorts!  I hope you’ve enjoyed some good sweets too.

in the kitchen

We’ve had lots of cooking and so much picturing them.  But here’s some.

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Mark is the baker in the family.  For all sorts of pies and cookies, breakfast, he is the one who does it all.  And they are so good! DSC_0137 copy

Thanksgiving, what a treat it was.

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And few meals have been made.  Just not pictured.

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There’s been request of cookies already, and would like to make some, but we need to get some momentum going.  It seems all of my free time has been spent in creating new things for the holiday fairs we just finished.  My mind has been in crafting mode, not so much in cooking.  Now it’s time to turn this way a little.  I’m ready.  Even though I have quite a few projects I need to finish, and few I need to get started on.  I need a couple extra weeks before Christmas comes.

What have you’ve been cooking lately?  What are your favorite cookies to bake at this time of the year?

in the kitchen

As always, there’s been lots of cooking. We don’t go out a lot, so there’s 3 meals a day having to be had. Breakfast is not my forte, so it’s simple.  Lunch sometimes the kids prepare it for the three of us at home during the day, but we’ve been busy and trying new routines, so that’s on trial.

But there’s dinners.  That’s a must of course, the meal we spent together around our table, no one misses.  Some times we have friends over, and that is great too.  But it is our time together, to catch our breathes, to check in, to see what the week will bring us, and how our day was.  It is a very special time I am so glad we can spend it together, each day.

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And a menu has been so helpful, that I dread when I’m not on top of it, because it saves so much time, knowing what we are having at least during the week, when we are all more tired.

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But it requires some planning, and organizing.  Something I am trying to do.  All those magazine cutouts, with recipes I’d love to try.  but the pile keeps growing, and meals are happening… and not from this pile.  I need to go through them and then pick what to cook for the week.  it gives us 5 new meals to try, and thank goodness my family doesn’t mind new foods, because who knows!  There might be a keeper from all those clipped recipes!  but the menu is set for the week and I can breathe at ease again.

I’ve enjoyed chai daily.  Few times a day actually.  I make it with decaf tea, so it’s good for any time of the day. It is Heather’s recipe that I tweak here and there a bit, but follow it for the most part.

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And of course it tastes even better in my new birthday mug!

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I made our favorite apple cinnamon muffins.  They are so good!

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For my birthday I got two bread proofing baskets.  Not sure which bread recipe I can use them with, but I gave it a try with the bread I make every week.

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It grew some, but I think it didn’t get the whole effect it’s suppose to get from these baskets.DSC_0547 copy DSC_0548 copy (Before baking)

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But there’s nothing wrong about getting a cute looking homemade warm bread at dinner time, right?

We’ve had lots of other foods baked and cooked, and served, I just haven’t taken pictures. What have you’ve been cooking lately?  Please do share, I’d love to try new recipes.

in the kitchen

Lately, this is what we’ve been making in the kitchen.

:: I am glad I’ve been (sort of) keeping up with a weekly menu.

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:: I made a few batches of roasted tomato sauce base, based on this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. DSC_0017 copy

:: Made the apple and pumpkin galette after reading and seeing Amanda’s photos of her individual pies.  We liked it.  I think we’ll have to try them again. DSC_0029 copy DSC_0031 copy

:: I’ve been making bread more often.  it is so nice to have the oven on when the days are cooler, and the soups have started to appear more often on the table. DSC_0204 copy DSC_0206 copy

:: Though not on the food stall in the Farmer’s Market, I had to bring these fall colors to brighten the rooms at home. DSC_0217 copy

:: Thank goodness for menus already planned. Once I have dinner figured out for the week, it makes our days, and week, go so much smoothly.DSC_0215 copy

:: The garden is slowly slowing down.  Mark has been cleaning the plants, and picking the last of our produce.  It was such a rich year.  Thank you gardeners for all your hard work in making it all happenDSC_0011 copy DSC_0001 copy DSC_0014 copy DSC_0218 copy DSC_0008 copy DSC_0220 copy

:: After our trip to Hood River and seeing all there is out there, we brought some home and have been enjoying them for days and days. DSC_0003 copy DSC_0002 copy

Such a variety, it’s fun to try them all.

the garden

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Looking at what the garden did this year, all thanks to Mark and Siena, I feel thankful for everything we’ve gotten.  Being able to eat fresh, organic and so good.

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It makes me happy we Mark takes the time to start the garden and garden all summer long.   DSC_0034 copy DSC_0035 copy

I do like gardening, but I do believe I do not have the green thumb he and Siena have.  Maybe it’s their eye for details, patience, caring for the plants, it’s what the plants and the garden needs.

DSC_0038 copy DSC_0001 copyDay after day, bringing in produce, fresh, organic delicious produce.

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How lucky we are.

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And autumn is here and slowly the garden is put to rest.  But not just yet. The days are still warm, even hot at times.  The sun much lower in the horizon, the rays barely making it to the back of the garden, as if it was the last place to be reached by the sun.   But still warming our days, barely, stretching our days and the growing season just a little longer.  Yes, indeed, how lucky I am.

in the kitchen

Last week of September Menu copy

Pesto.  Yes, regular basil pesto.  We love pesto.

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With these beautiful veggies from the garden, it took me to make salsa.

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I got the basic idea for the salsa, from Deb from Smitten Kitchen, but added the veggies we had available and ready to pick from the garden.  This time, I blended it, and I think the kids liked it more this way, since they are not big fans of tomatoes.

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It turned out really good I think.  I wonder how I can make it so I can can it.

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The cooler weather has called me to make some chai.  I’ve been making a concentrate so I can have it in the fridge ready to make, when I don’t have time to prepare it from scratch.  I use for the most part, Heather’s recipe. It is so good.

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I made this sandwich bread from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  It is so good!  Another bread recipe in rotation.  Good!

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I think I’ll be making more loaves.  And I love it that it makes two. It is perfect.  I am so grateful for the amazing folks that share their cooking skills with wonderfully delicious recipes free for all of us to use and cook and share with our families and friends.  It makes me happy.  There are great proper in this world.  Yes indeed.

DSC_0081 copySome friends have two fig trees and I have enjoyed this year for the first time, eating fresh figs.  I had no idea they are so good!  They do turn mooshy quickly, but since they are just few houses down from us, I’ve enjoyed freshly picked figs a couple of times already.  So good!  And as a way to thank them, I made some fig jam with fruits from their trees while they’ve been gone so they can keep enjoying their fruits when they return, in case they are passed their peak. So good!  Thank you dear friends for sharing.