Friday, December 30, 2011

My Year

So 2011 is coming to a close and I feel like it's been the happiest year of my life to date. I graduated college, got married to my best friend, traveled around Italy, got an awesome job cooking vegetarian food at an incredible food co-op, and started this blog. So many other wonderful things happened this year and I can only look forward to the many more experiences that life will throw at me. I figured that I would post a few of my favorite photos from this year for you to enjoy. Have a happy new year.

From flowers and a wedding, to gelato at the Trevi Fountain, this summer was by far my most exciting of my life.

I was inspired by the architecture and colors of Rome....
...and fell in love with the simple way of living and eating.

I was left breathless by the beauty in Amalfi...
...and found peace in the mountains of Campania.

And my heart will forever hold a place for a dear little town called Calitri.
I know this year will bring many more beautiful things of its own, including lots of wonderful food to share on this site. I am beyond excited. But is it strange that I'm just a bit sad to see 2011 slip away? I guess that is how life goes.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mixed Greens with Pea Shoots and Pomegranate

I am grateful for many things. This year has brought so many wonderful memories and special times. Now that the air is crisp, Christmas lights are twinkling, and carols are being sung, I take the time to reflect on the wonderful people, places, events, and other gifts that my life has been blessed with. While at times I can get discouraged and stressed, it's so important to take a moment and be grateful for the little things that bring joy to my life on a daily basis.
This little salad was one of those things that made me smile today. Yesterday, my wonderful husband went to the farmers market while I was at work and surprised me with these lovely local mesculin greens and pea shoots. Boy does he know how to make a girl smile. These babies aren't exactly cheap, but they sure are beautiful. Their crispness, color, and freshness was so welcomed on this cold and blustery winter day. I decided to simply dress them with a meyer lemon vinaigrette and top with antioxidant-rich pomegranate seeds.
I didn't add too many other ingredients to the salad only because I really wanted to savor the purity of the salad greens and pea shoots. I also thought it was  quite festive, given the green and red colors that are so present right now. Merry Christmas to you all and may you remember to be grateful for the small things that make you happy to be alive.

Mixed Greens with Pea Shoots and Pomegranate

3 cups mixed greens, such as mesculin mix
1 large handful pea shoots or another sprout
1 pomegranate, deseeded
zest and juice of one meyer lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste

In a large salad bowl, combine greens and pea shoots. In a small jar, add lemon juice and zest, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Shake the jar well and then pour the dressing on the greens. Toss gently and top with pomegranate seeds.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ginger Pecan Pumpkin Bread

It's been awhile since I've posted. Thanksgiving came and went. Now it's December and beginning to feel like Christmas time. It's quite lovely. What's also lovely is the marvelous spiced aroma that fills the house when this pumpkin bread is baking in the oven. My sister came to visit me for the weekend and we had fun putting this little bread together.
I used a pretty special squash for this bread. It's called a red kuri squash. I could have easily used a pie pumpkin, but I couldn't resist the beauty and uniqueness of this particular squash. To make the pumpkin puree, all I did was half the squash, scoop out the seeds, and lay cut-side down in a baking pan with about an inch of water. I roasted it at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until it was soft. After letting it cool, I scooped out the creamy orange flesh and put it through a food processor to make it extra smooth.

Ginger Pecan Pumpkin Bread (adapted from Jenny's recipe at food52)
2 1/2 cups whole spelt or whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup rapadura or raw sugar
1 stick organic butter
1/4 cup  blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9" x 5" loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, molasses, maple syrup and yogurt until well combined. Add the fresh ginger and vanilla extract to the wet ingredients and mix well.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the pecans, and stir until just combined (do not overmix). Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Top with pumpkin seeds. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

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