Thursday, October 24, 2013

The LBD Re-thought

Start with the infamously basic little black dress.  Then re-imagine it.


Topshop dress

Cropped knit cardigan

Jigsaw red quilted jacket
$475 -

NIC ZOE jacket

Boohoo red jacket

$6.38 -

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Autumn Bisque

I made my first batch of Autumn Bisque for the season.  I could hardly wait to blend it, I wanted to just start scooping.  The only downside to this soup is peeling and chopping the butternut squash.  A trick I read somewhere years ago was to microwave it for a few minutes then cut in half.  So I wash, microwave, halve it, then peel, scrape out seeds and chop.  Still a pain, but very worth it for that freshly harvested flavor.

My thrown together recipe is always different and slightly off-the-cuff.  I have my basics, but elaborate or tailor depending on my mood.  One way it to make it sweet.  I had it this way at a restaurant in Vermont several years back, and ever so non-chalantly asked what the key ingredient was that made it so sweet.  I thought they were going to tell me it was a secret, but the waitress smiled and said Vermont maple syrup.  Of course!  I had the confidential info and could run home to try to imitate it.  I did my best, and it turned out pretty well. 

 Sometimes my taste mood fluctuates and I want a more savory soup.  Then I simply omit the apples and use less sugar and syrup.  It hits the spot, I say.

Autumn Bisque as I toss it in a pot:

1 large cubed and peeled butternut squash

4 cups water

1 1/2 cups half and half

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup real maple syrup (or to taste)

3 tsps cinnamon

1/8 tsp clove

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic powder or fresh is even better

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 dashes of pepper

Boil squash in water until very tender.  Do not drain.  Add the rest of ingredients and mash.   Let simmer for about 35 minutes to brew the flavors.  Stir often and do not allow a rolling boil.  Use a hand immersion blender to cream it smooth.  You can pour into a blender in portions to smooth it as well.

Makes many servings..maybe eight?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Simply S T U N N I N G

I almost did not want to add words to this post because I did not want typesetting to infringe upon the gorgeous outdoors in these photos.  Yet, I wanted to share my day with you, so I figured I would write after the fall landscape shots.

These were taken at Breezeland Orchards in MA when I took the kids apple picking yesterday.  No, very sadly, there were none left on the trees for us to meander through the lush acres plucking the sweet and tart fruit to place in weather beaten wicker baskets.  There would be no sibling hoists to acquire that just-got-to-have-this-one apple as it innocently tempts up yonder with its fragrance and shiny color, way beyond a sneakered boost from ground level.  I was worried this might be the case as the season was short in our region.  It actually ended a week ago, but we just could not get out there to reap the bounty for ourselves.   We would still enjoy the incredible scenery, aromatic bake shop, and seriously perfect weather.  I settled on a 1/2 bushel of pre-picked honey crisps.  Even though they seem to burst with even more deliciousness when your own two hands have gathered them, the pre-picked kind would nicely fill the void this season.

Of course, I could not leave without my share of these:

Don't worry I won't!

My twisted arm behind me, I didn't just speak "yes," I shouted it!

They will not survive the ride home.

I am a huge fan of plain donuts.  My craving for them is the result of a donut factory movie I watched in elementary school.  In second grade, we all filed into the gymnasium for a donut assembly.  Why?  I have no idea.  But it left its mark.  I dreamed about plain donuts for years.  As I watched them be mixed, poured, deep fried and strewn onto a conveyor belt as they were sent to packaging, I could hardly contain myself for need to run home and beg my mother to buy me one--or a dozen.  To this day, I will warm them slightly and devour them.  These cider donuts are the Bentley of plain donuts.  With the apple undertone and a gentle covering of sugar and cinnamon, there is nothing plain about them.  Especially fresh and warm.

In lieu of wandering on foot through lanes of ripened apples as there were none left dangling from tangled branches, the farm offered tractor rides for those who still wanted to tour the fields.

Yummy fruit + yummy donuts + yummy weather = A DELECTABLE DAY

Friday, October 11, 2013

Orange Marmalade Salsa Chicken Bake

Some nights just do not warrant a fussy dinner.  However, that does not mean that nutrition nor flavor must be sacrificed.  It does not have to come from a box.  I pushed and pulled and swirled my culinary creativity jeering it away from the dreaded box and into a....jar.  I try to think outside of those for a quick, thrown in the oven dish which requires two seconds of thought and still renders something quite delicious.    Tonight being one of 'those' nights, I had chicken legs and not much energy left.  I stood at the counter with my pack of legs jumbled in front of me and blankly stared at them.  Then, as I attempted to tap into the realm of innovative, sous chef visionaries, the blankness droned.  So I went back to being regular me.  Mentally rummaging through my cupboards, salsa popped into mind.  I don't care for heat so it would be mild as I much prefer tangy and sweet over spicy and hot.  What would add delicate flavor to the robust salsa even in its most mild form?  Orange marmalade.  Victory for the ordinary cook.

The recipe formulated swiftly.  It is quite in-depth and skillful.  Ready?  Here your pen out?  You may not be able to remember all the technical details--

Place chicken in pan in staggered position.

Dump jar of salsa over it.

Dump jar of orange marmalade over it.

Slosh it together with chicken.

Let the oven do its thing.

You do whatever you choose ( I highly recommend nothing).

Bake till nearly falling off bone at 350 degrees (approx 1 1/2 hrs).

Don't forget to scoop the extra pan sauce over your plate for extra chicken dipping!

This would also be perfect for setting over rice or couscous, if you are feeling really ambitious.  Otherwise, as we did, just munch the meat straight of the bone sans any accompaniment.  Because sometimes you just have 'those' nights.

Pardon the dark pictures.  My flash would not work.  Par for the course.