Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gratitude, Tears and Reflection

Gratitude, Tears and Reflection
Autumn beauty in the city.
No recipe today, my friends.  Those of you cooking tomorrow’s feast already know what you’re making.  But before we break for the long weekend, I wanted to say a few personal words about life and love and this past year.

This was a year of changes for me. Some good, some bad. I hurt more and cried more this year than I have in many.  But I have also opened my head, my ears and my heart to receiving feedback that I would have rather not gotten. Criticisms that hurt and stung and caused me to question my life in a way that makes you feel lost and alone in the universe. I listened, though, and took them in.







Gratitude, Tears and Reflection
Strolling by the river down the block from my apartment.
But as the year draws closer to ending and as we count down to my favorite holiday tomorrow, I thought it was important to dry my tears and talk about those things for which I’m grateful and which have made me very happy this past year and the years before.

Lightbulbs.  Lightbulbs made me happy.  And batteries, and computers, and phones and cameras and probably half a dozen other electronic gizmos I rely on that broke and were replaced by someone who cared that my life would run seamlessly.  And rolls of paper towels, and bottles of shampoo and giant boxes of aspirin made me happy.  Because they were the things that made my life easier and took care of daily needs.

Gratitude, Tears and Reflection
A winding road through Pallisades Park. One of my favorite Thanksgiving weekend memories.

Most of all I was happy with the time spent.  The laughter, the shared gestures and inside jokes, the “us against the world” mentality that comes from a meeting of the minds. The rambling road trips, sometimes to nowhere, sometimes to locations I consider my happy places.

Gratitude, Tears and Reflection
An autumn vacation road trip to breathtakingly beautiful Vermont a few years ago.

Throughout this year, I've never once been guilty of being ungrateful.  But I have been terribly guilty of not expressing my feelings properly.

Gratitude, Tears and Reflection
The Montauk Lighthouse at dusk. Click here to read the story behind the photo.

More often than not, the greatest pleasure I could have given someone was simply to let them know how happy they made me. But I allowed life’s problems and worries and trivialities to get in the way. Part of the growth I’ve been working toward is to make sure I am never guilty of that again.  To make sure that I will not only treasure what I’ve been given but return the pleasure by expressing how much it means to me and how grateful I am that someone cared enough to make sure I had what I needed and wanted.

There are a couple of people in my life (one male, one female) whom I love more than I can say.  And there is never a moment in my heart that I don’t bless the day I met both.

Gratitude, Tears and Reflection
Speaking of gratitude, as I sit in my office writing this, I’m also grateful for the pile of fur currently asleep on my foot.  Every day of these difficult few months, she’s greeted me at the door with pure joy when I felt none, licked away my tears and snuggled against me when I didn't have the strength to get up.  

She was a birthday present, five years ago, and I can never look at her without thinking of the man who gave her to me.  It was a gift that has brought me more joy than I can describe.

I don't know yet exactly how this journey will end.  But while I’m wishing myself more happiness and personal growth in the coming months, I am remembering to express the gratitude I feel for what I have and what I've learned.  And that includes all of you, who stop by here to read my words and give my recipes a try. When you leave me comments on how much you enjoyed one of them, it touches my heart, brings a big smile to my face and makes it all worthwhile.

Have a wonderful holiday, my friends, and tell someone you love how thankful you are for them and how happy they make you.

xoxo
Anita

Monday, November 24, 2014

Savory Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

Savory Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

When it comes to Thanksgiving foods, I tend to favor tradition. There's comfort in the familiar and expected. However, what exactly constitutes traditional and familiar is different in every family and culture. In my house, we prefer butternut squash over the better known sweet potato side dish and so that is the flavor we expect.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Apple pie is a Thanksgiving tradition in my house. And Thanksgiving foods are, after all, about tradition. So while I'm not willing to forgo this familiar treat, I've been known to mess with it a little over the years. Last year I did away with the top crust altogether in favor of a peanut butter crumb topping.  And I don't recall hearing any complaints about it, either.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Buttery Breakfast Quick Bread

Buttery Breakfast Quick Bread


Lately I've been thinking a lot about breakfast. And that's pretty unusual for me since it's never been a meal I gave much thought to. It always seems like, no matter how early I get up, I have so much to do before the day "officially" starts and I'm always running behind. So breakfast ends up being a bowl of cold cereal. And I'll admit that I've been known to skip the milk and just eat the cereal bits like little snack bites in between other morning chores. So not inspiring.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Homemade Za'atar Pita Chips and Quick Labneh Dip

Homemade Za'atar Pita Chips and Quick Labneh Dip

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you're not, why aren't you??) then you know that my tag line says "currently sprinkling za'atar on everything."  I'm obsessed with it and with labneh (strained Greek yogurt cheese) too.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pie

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pie

What are your cold weather comfort foods?  I have a few but pot pies are high on the list because they're fully enclosed comfort.  I don't have to make side dishes for a roast or add bread or croutons to a hot soup. Here the hot, creamy, comforting filling is wrapped with delicious pastry dough and served in my own individual portion. Just tuck me into bed with a good movie and this is cold night dinner heaven.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Maple Walnut Shortbread Cookies

Maple Walnut Shortbread Cookies

Cookie Week is in full swing and I'm back today with another of my favorite cookie treats. Despite my love of chocolate and my obsession with peanut butter, my all time favorite type of cookie is shortbread. Thick, crumbly, buttery and not overly sweet. Just pour me a cup of tea alongside a good stack of them and I'm a happy woman.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Want Some Cookies?

Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Bakeshop Cookies
Little Red Kitchen Bakeshop Cookie Flavors
All week long, several of my fellow bloggers and I are celebrating Cookie Week with great recipes and an awesome giveaway.  But today I have an extra special giveaway for you. My friend Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen now has an online bakeshop and her cookies put mine to shame.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dark and Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Dark and Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Welcome to Cookie Week.  Several of my fellow food bloggers and I have some great recipes for you and an awesome giveaway.  Scroll down past the recipe for prize and entry information. And, as a bonus, I'll have an additional, extra special giveaway (hint: it involves free cookies) for you tomorrow.

Cookie Week Sponsor and Giveaway Information

Welcome to the second annual Cookie Week, hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Susan of The Girl In the Little Red Kitchen! We've teamed together with 10 other talented bloggers to bring you 5 fantastic days of cookie recipes to get you in to the holiday spirits.  Now is the time to break out the flour, butter, sugar and eggs.  Bring your friends and family together for cookie exchanges or a giant baking party, we have got you covered!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Month in Review - October 2014

The Month in Review - October 2014

It's finally chilly in New York and the leaves are turning fast. Actually the whole month was fast and I'm not sure how it can already be almost November. The food around here has definitely taken a turn toward autumn fruits and warming comfort. It also seems to have been fixated on caramel, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Apple Pie Crumb Bread with Cinnamon Caramel

Apple Pie Crumb Bread with Cinnamon Caramel

Have you all noticed how popular coconut oil has become? Everywhere I look I see recipes with it and articles talking about the health benefits. I confess that I'm not the biggest fan of coconut flavor and I mostly just like it in my pina coladas.  Still, this merited some research.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tender Slow Cooked Roast in Red Wine Reduction

Tender Slow Cooked Roast in Red Wine Reduction

Sundays in the chilly autumn make me want to cook something low and slow. Something mouthwatering that will make my whole house smell delicious and dinner will be an eagerly awaited event. Something like a Sunday roast

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Apple and Gorgonzola Biscuit Tarts

Apple and Gorgonzola Biscuit Tarts

My good friend Renee and I are bonded over our mutual love of food, cocktails, photography and doggies. Not necessarily in that order, of course. She's also the creator of the Magnolia Days blog where she shows off her talents. But today she's on vacation, eating and drinking her way through Germany, and she asked me to keep her readers entertained with a good recipe. My pleasure, Renee! And I expect you to bring me back a strudel.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Farmer's Market Deconstructed Apple Pie

Farmer's Market Deconstructed Apple Pie

I'm a big fan of our city's green markets so it was a huge honor to be invited to do a cooking demo at one of them this past Saturday. I spent the week before going over everything with the market director and wandering around the various stalls, with their dizzying array of options, trying to decide what to make. For all the possibilities, though, my eyes kept coming back to the glorious display of apples.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ginger Poached Pears with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Ginger Poached Pears with Gorgonzola and Walnuts


When summer fruit season ends, I usually mourn until I hit the market and discover the autumn bounty of figs, apples and pears.  Especially the pears. For out of hand, sweet juice dripping down your chin, eating, I'm partial to Bartletts.  But for any cooking or baking, I turn to the slightly firmer Boscs. I also happen to think they're the prettiest.  What? You don't think pears are pretty?  Pfft.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Marbled Chocolate Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Caramel

Marbled Chocolate Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Caramel

I don't understand how it's nearly the middle of October already.  And I certainly don't understand why this is my first pumpkin bread of the season.  I normally like to greet the first nip in the air with the aroma of fresh baked pumpkin bread.  Oh, well, still not to late.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nutty Peanut Buttery Caramel Apples

Nutty Peanut Buttery Caramel Apples

My fellow holiday food bloggers and I are cooking up Halloween treats today.  Mine aren't spooky but they're totally holiday ready!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Hey, was that a nip I just felt in the air?  Is that quiet from the fact that the constant hum of the air conditioner has been turned off and the windows opened?  This weekend was the first time this season that I wore a jacket and enjoyed warming up under my down comforter.  I love summer and I tell myself I will hold onto it as long as possible but every year, the first chilly day, a leaf falling at my feet and a display of pumpkins sends me into a daze of autumn happiness.  I love autumn!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Month in Review - September 2014

The Month in Review - September 2014

I was just looking back at last month's review and saw that I promised there wouldn't be an onslaught of pumpkin recipes here until October.  I said I'd stick to apples and pears and figs but, OK, so one slipped in. I just had an overwhelming urge to see if pumpkin and soda bread go well together and do they ever!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury Steak

Can you even hear Salisbury steak mentioned without thinking of childhood?  For me it represents the quintessential frozen dinner, that special treat that my mother rarely allowed.  But when she did finally give in and I had a choice, it was usually this one that I'd pick.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Easy Pulled Chicken Chili


This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Manwich for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Today I thought I'd share my weekly meal plan with you:
Weekends - Farmer's market and grocery shopping.  Elaborate homemade meals and desserts both days.
Monday - Leftovers (we love 'em!)
Tuesday - Possible small amount of remaining leftovers supplemented by veggies and beans.
Wednesday - Eggs
Thursday - Desperate pantry scrounge
Friday - Help!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Labneh Cheesecake with Honeyed Figs


Those of you familiar with labneh are now racing to the bottom of this article to find where you can get your hands on it.  For the uninitiated, I shall explain.  Lebnah is a Middle Eastern yogurt cheese.  Basically, think Greek style yogurt but even more strained.  Thick, almost a cream cheese consistency, rich and tart and heavenly tasting.  It's usually drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with za'atar (more on this wonderful spice soon) and served as a dip with pita bread.  It was many years since I'd had it but I never forgot.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pumpkin Soda Bread

Pumpkin Soda Bread

I was trying to hold off on the pumpkin recipes until October, I really was! But I was walking past my favorite gourmet food and produce store and there they were. Not all markets have them yet but this place did. A big display of pumpkins and squash and those little gourds that I love so much. Oh, all right, I give in. I really do love pumpkin.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Not Lazy Meatloaf

Not Lazy Meatloaf

Hi, my name is Anita and I'm a recovering lazy meatloaf maker. Maybe you can relate, maybe not, but this is my story. I grew up eating and liking meatloaf. My mother made it and taught me to make it. We were a meatloaf eating family. When I grew up and began my own life, I continued to make meatloaf but that life got a little busy. Shortcuts began to creep in.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Marbled Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Marbled Sandwich Cookies

I think you all know that I'm a big fan of OXO kitchen products and use them daily.  I've had the pleasure of getting to know some members of the OXO team and gotten the opportunity to test many of their products.  So far my only complaint is that I don't have a large enough kitchen to have all their tools because I certainly want them. And so it was my pleasure to lend them a hand in baking to raise money for a great cause.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sweet Spiced Pear Bread

Sweet Spiced Pear Bread

My pear obsession is getting out of control.  First there was Spiced Pear Hand Pies then came Pear Cosmos and now we have pear bread.  Actually, what we had was a couple of leftover pears and I couldn't resist putting them to good use.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Spiced Pear Hand Pies

Spiced Pear Hand Pies

I was out shopping recently, minding my own business, not really looking for anything in particular, when I saw a big 4 1/2" copper pear shaped cookie cutter.  I had to have it.  It's possible I may have had a need for an apple shaped one, too.  And now I had to do something with it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Month in Review - August 2014

The Month in Review - August 2014

Happy Labor Day!  It's a long weekend for most of us and the unofficial end of summer.  Here in New York, kids go back to school tomorrow, weekend beach house shares are over and we're starting to think about fall.  We've actually been having a little mini heat wave for the last few days but I know it won't be long now before I start pulling out the jackets and sweaters.  I may have...um...already bought a new pair of Aldo boots because...Aldo! And boots!  OK, I'm guilty, I love fall.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

What do you do when you like thick, crunchy, crumbly cookies but someone you care about likes soft, thin, chewy ones?  Well, OK, I guess you could make both.  But I think this time we'll just make him what he wants.  Of course, that's not necessarily easy since what he wants is basically a homemade Entenmann's chocolate chip cookie.