We recently spent two weeks in Ireland.
Ireland is gorgeous, in case you were wondering. Wildflowers are absolutely everywhere, peeking through the cracks in ancient stone walls and clumping along the sides of the roads. There are rock-bordered, green fields for miles, thanks to the soft, misty rain that falls almost every day.
We loved exploring traditional Irish farms and learning about the simplicity and resourcefulness of country life 100 years ago. We loved trying to pronounce the Irish language signs posted all around. We loved that a typical playground in Ireland has ziplines for kids and exercise equipment for parents. We loved the stunning, hazy mountains and cliffs that loomed over the Atlantic ocean. And don’t even get me started on how cool it is to find crumbling stone ruins everywhere you look.
Traveling with two preschoolers was basically the worst, and that’s all I’ll say about that. (Check out my oldest throwing a tantrum instead of looking at the camera. This is literally the best family photo from the whole trip. Just so you get a clear idea. I’m not exaggerating.) But if you are ever going to travel abroad with preschoolers, you should definitely do it in Ireland, because the people there are so kind and understanding and friendly. They actually love kids. And they do not give you irritated, patronizing looks when yours are screaming and losing their minds in public places.
Another great thing about Irish people is that they are unflinchingly generous. For example, when we were staying in Killarney, they served this rhubarb jam with breakfast, and Dave basically ate a pint of it over four days. (He must have genetically inherited his love of rhubarb, because rhubarb desserts were on almost every menu and in every bakery in Ireland. He tried all of them.) When I asked for the recipe, the kind proprietors of the inn immediately wrote down a copy for me!
So here we are. Thank you, Ireland, for your kindness and generosity, and thank you for the rhubarb jam.
If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, then you already know how dearly I love Sarah of Well Dined.
She is one of my favorite people on the planet! Sarah has been unspeakably kind and generous to me in the seven years (!) we’ve known each other. She is thoughtful, thought-provoking, and hilarious. She is bold—and I don’t just mean her hair—and she pursues life fully. I am grateful to Sarah for stretching me as a cook, for her encouragement and patience through all of my motherhood woes, and for being the best friend a girl could ask for.
Which is why I am so excited to be cooking from Well Dined for the September Secret Recipe Club challenge!
Months ago, when Sarah joined the SRC, I mentally earmarked this spinach and gruyère strata to make whenever I got assigned to cook from her blog. But…surprise! During one of our subsequent lunches, she mentioned this amazing caramelized French toast she makes, and I knew my life would not be complete without it, so I decided to make that instead. And then, when the assignment actually happened, I got so excited about making some kind of ravioli, which Sarah makes all the time—and we talk about endlessly—that I threw out all my breakfast plans entirely. This somehow turned into the joy of hiding vegetables inside of pasta sauce.
Last week, I made these amazing beet burgers. Beets are lovely, aren’t they? I think beets are the most beautiful color in the whole world. But…I have to admit that I really hate to eat them plain. I’ve tried them in salads with goat cheese and soaked in butter and horseradish sauce. But my favorite beets are definitely those diced small and mixed well with other flavors.
As I was contemplating what to do with the lonely, leftover beet in my crisper, I suddenly remembered a batch of beet hummus Dave’s aunt had made at Christmas, and I immediately got excited.
This hummus is a little earthy and a little tangy, and full of gorgeous pink. Eat it with a huge handful of bright, raw vegetables and you will feel like you are on cloud nine.
Are you into cookie butter?
It’s basically like peanut butter…except made from pulverized cookies. You know. Because your sweet tooth wasn’t getting enough attention.
I have meant to make a homemade cookie butter recipe for you at Christmas for about three years now (it makes a great foodie gift in a cute jar!)…but every Christmas slides by without me doing it. So if you are asking yourself why I am sharing a warmly spiced spread with you in the middle of a boiling summer….well, it’s Christmas in July this year!
Our family has started a weekend breakfast tradition.
It’s fairly surprising, actually, given my husband’s general apathy toward keeping traditions AND his venomous hatred for the morning…but on Saturdays, bright and early, when I holler up the stairs that pancakes or French toast are ready, he immediately appears and we have a special family breakfast!
Jake likes to help me cook. And set the table. And fetch Daddy. He’s a wonderful kitchen helper!
The only trouble with this delicious tradition is that I don’t actually care for maple syrup on my pancakes. For a while, this really made me resistant to Saturday morning breakfast tradition, until I realized that I had a grand opportunity to try all kinds of delicious syrups and spreads. What a great excuse to eat sugar for breakfast!
This buttermilk syrup is absolutely amazing. Don’t let the weird name (or the fact that it essentially looks like melted butter) throw you off: it is actually the simplest, most delicious liquid caramel you will ever make. The flavor is light and the syrup is thick and creamy. Pour it over your French toast with some butter and dig in! I dare you not to run your finger around the plate to lick up the excess when breakfast is over.
Have you ever made your own taco seasoning?
It’s kind of glorious.
Yes, it’s true: I have a penchant for making things from scratch that I could easily have bought in the store…but in this case, I really do think it’s worth it. Not only will you avoid totally unnecessary ingredients, like gums and gluten, but you if you make your own taco seasoning, you can customize the flavors and spice level!
Plus, your friends will be impressed. And isn’t it a beautiful thing when someone compliments your cooking (and you can brag that you even made the taco seasoning yourself)?
Have I mentioned to you that my brother is working in Africa for the summer? This has nothing whatsoever to do with gribiche or purple potatoes, except that in his absence, his excellent girlfriend decided to get to know the family better (!).
So last week, she came armed with books to read to Jake and very graciously and happily entertained him while my mom cuddled Caitlin and I made lunch.
I fretted quite a bit over what to serve her: it had to be something simple but interesting (because someone mentioned that I was a good cook…thus knocking PB&J out of the running…), and of course it had to be wheat- and dairy-free for my mom! For days I pondered what to make, hemming and hawing until I thought I would have to serve grocery-store-salad-bar salad, and then I whipped out my copy of Super Natural Every Day and I was saved by the first recipe I saw!
This simple dish of roasted veggies and eggy dressing was delicious! It is a full meal all on the same plate, with protein, carbs, and veggies all mixed together. We basically licked the serving plate clean. I know I will be making this salad again and again.
(And lest you think I am an overachiever for trying a new recipe especially to impress, let me just admit that I served five kinds of random leftovers for dinner, so I am not really earning any A’s for Effort here….)
Happy New Year!
I meant to share this with you on New Year’s Eve. Appetizers, for me, are the essential New Year’s celebration food, and I wanted to throw your taste buds a little party.
Oh yes, I had all kinds of grand plans for our rockin’ New Year’s celebration…though grand is totally an exaggeration, because, to be honest, we were just tired this year. We just moved. Family holiday events, while fun, were exhausting. And Baby Girl is routinely forcing me to take naps at weird times.
Which meant that this easy shrimp cocktail was actually the only appetizer I managed to make for our little “celebration.” And we rang in the new year much the way we do any other midnight: me reading on the couch while Dave played a video game. *Cue noisemakers…*
But…at least this shrimp cocktail was jazzy and spicy! It certainly has a kick, even though our New Year’s was totally bland.
I so want to tell you about how awesome this pico de gallo is, and how I grew some of the tomatoes and all of the green peppers.
But first, I have to tell you that while I was making this delicious, amazingly fresh summery salsa, my son was eating crayons.
CRAYONS! I cannot get the child to eat a fresh fruit or vegetable to save his life, but crayons are yummy. What!? And he was so sneaky about it, too, just sitting in his chair and pretending to color quietly whenever I poked my head in to look at him, and taking huge chunks out of yellow and green as soon as I turned back to chopping.
Motherhood, friends…motherhood. I don’t know what I’m doing.
I tend to resist buying things if there is the slightest chance I could make them at home. Things that are delicious and definitely need to be a part of my life.
Things like dulce de leche.
But then, often, I get scared or distracted, and before I know it two years have passed and I still haven’t made my own dulce de leche! And, of course, buying a jar of it in the grocery store would just be cheating. So whole years have passed that did not include drizzling dulce de leche on my ice creams and cakes and scones…and eating it by the spoonful.
What on earth was I thinking!?