from thanksgiving to christmas

I've been back in Montana and it's been wonderful. Not too cold. Not too windy. Not too many thoughts about work wonderful. It's been pretty relaxing and I'm glad I got to be here for Thanksgiving. It was my first thanksgiving with a bunch of random people who I think probably all would have rather been somewhere else, but it was fun nonetheless. I made my staples: mashed potatoes, gingered pumpkin pie and cranberry walnut relish.

Friday morning we got a tree and also enjoyed getting some lights, ornaments, and decorating with the ornaments Benjamin's mom sent him. So precious to see the ornaments from his first Christmas- 1982. We also watched the classic, Christmas Vacation, which is a must for me right after Thanksgiving. I was glad to hear Benjamin recite the lines as well. We'd be in trouble if he had never seen that movie. Well, I head out in the morning so more later. Until then, here's a tease of a post.

maple pumpkin granola

It feels like I'm participating in a party foul right now. I'm posting about a recipe I made up, and one I can't entirely remember because I lost the little piece of paper I used to write down what I was doing when I made this. My apologies. However, I can still tell you enough and refer you to my other granola recipes so you can get inspired and realize there are some things you just really can't mess up.

For this rendition I wanted maple and pumpkin. I'm always a sucker for pumpkin granola when I see it in the store, so why can't I just make it myself? The liquid was comprised of mainly maple syrup, corn syrup, and apple juice. I brought it to a boil and had a cinnamon stick in there as well. Bring on the flavors of fall.

In the granola there were pecans, sunflower seeds, a little brown sugar for sweetness, raisins, flax meal, and wheat germ. This is why I love granola- not only satisfying, but made well, oh so good for you. Just throw it in the oven at about 350 and turn it around every 15 minutes. I made a bit extra liquid for this one, so there were extra clusters. Who doesn't love the cluster? I'm pretty sure Kate and I used to get honey bunches of oats just for the clusters. So good.

just another saturday in santa barbara

In preparation for dinner Sunday, Camille and I started the day at the farmers market. With little idea of what to make, we decided on a fall salad with roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, and arugula. The main course would be pulled pork sandwiches, and a dessert of the oh so famous sticky toffee pudding.

After the market we wandered up the street to C'est Cheese to get some excellent goat cheese which I ended up cutting with floss because it was so soft, and then up further to Renauds for a sample of his excellent almond croissant and some salad. I decided it would be a really good idea to stop by Telegraph for some local brew, so we stopped by there for a tasting and got a growler of Oatmeal Stout. Next time I go, it'll only be $8 to fill the growler.

I think I got home around 4 and well, once again realized what a wonderful place I live in. I love it.

growing up with acorn squash

I made the classic acorn squash I grew up with the other day. Squash can be a scary thing to some people. I wanted to let you know how I cook mine. Cut the squash in half. If it's really hard poke some holes in it with a knife and stick it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds to soften it. Take out the seeds and put a little bit of water in a baking dish- just about 1/4 inch. Put the squash down so the outside is facing up. Cook the squash for about 20-30 min at 350. You can test when it's done by poking a fork in it and seeing if it's soft. Flip the squash over and put a dab of butter and sprinkle of brown sugar inside. Place it back in the oven and allow to melt for a couple minutes. Take out and place in a bowl so it's easy to eat. Enjoy!

the best steak i've ever made

The other week I was in my favorite bookstore finally buying Sunday Suppers at Lucques when I saw this magazine. I eat a lot of veg friendly meals for the sake of cost savings, but my body was craving meat. Not chicken- juicy iron filled steak. The cover of the Holiday Entertaining from Cook's Illustrated steak. So- I got my meat, came home, and made this. It was...delicious. I could have cracked the peppercorns better, but they still were wonderful and gave a great flavor to the oil and the meat. I'm convinced this is the best way to make steak- some searing then the oven. I cooked it exactly to my liking and Danielle's fiance, Erik, came back to the kitchen just to tell me how great it was. You should probably try this recipe out sooner than later.

Pepper-Crusted Filet, Cooks Illustrated

If you pick up a copy of this issue you'll learn more than I'm going to tell you here. However, as a base here's what to do:

Take your meat out of the fridge and let it get the chill off of it. Simmer 5 T peppercorns (cracked not ground) in 5 T olive oil. The pepper will become fragrant- about 7 minutes into simmering this. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add 1 T. kosher salt to the oil.

Take your steaks and rub them in the mixture, adhering peppercorns. Place the steaks in plastic wrap and put on a plate to make sure they are well coated. Let stand at room temperature up to an hour- I only allowed 20 min. because I was hungry!

Heat oven to 450. Remove any excess peppercorns in the oil and reheat the wonderful peppery oil. When the oil is hot place your steaks in it allowing to get a nice sear- about 3-4 minutes per side. You're looking for a nice brown crust. Remove from the pan when cooked on either side and place on a baking sheet then into the 450 degree oven. I like my meat a bit pink inside so I cooked them for about 3-4 minutes, let the meat rest for several minutes, and then in my opinion, cut into a very delicious steak.


thanks for spooning

Was I supposed to pass this up? I love etsy. So original and so "cheap."

not your boxed mac and cheese

When I saw this post, I knew I had to make this. With the looming pulled pork sandwiches coming later in the day, I still needed something semi substantial to get my through the cooking afternoon. Somehow this has turned into a cooking day...funny how that happens.

Annemarie got a huge piece of cheddar from Costco and we talked last week about making baked mac and cheese. Yes, that's delicious but if I don't have some hungry stomach wanting to help consume it, I wasn't about to make a huge dish that would sit around for the days and stare at me with "eat me...then go to the gym." So, I loved this recipe. Serves one and a great weeknight meal I'd say.

Put 1/2 cup pasta and 1/2 cup water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 2 minute intervals for 6-8 minutes, until pasta is done. If you run out of water, add in another tablespoon. Add 1/2-3/4 cups cheese. I used 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella. Add 1/4 cup milk and if you want 1/4 teaspoon each of ground mustard and paprika. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir- do this about 2-3 times until hot and at all together for a total time of a minute and a half. I added in tomatoes and spinach at the end to add some veg and it was pretty great- quick- and something you should make when you're tired and want a meal, but don't want to spend time...

anaheim cous cous with carmelized onions

When Leslie gave me some anaheims she wasn't going to use, I didn't know what to do with them. I had heard people say, "Oh you can throw them in about anything" but I wanted to find a recipe. One was discovered. And guess what? It's basically adding something to cous cous. Although it had great flavor, I'd probably modify it a bit next time by not using as much oil or grain and letting the peppers really shine. And so, I won't repeat for you the recipe I wouldn't repeat for myself. I will tell you to make some cous cous, caramelize onions, and roast anaheims. Although this could be used as a side, I was craving some flank steak to have with it in some tacos with some pico de gallo. Yum.

Roasting anaheims, or any pepper for that matter, isn't something you do every day so I think it's worth it to share with you how to do this.

Some people would put the peppers over a flame on their stove until they get dark. I put them under the broiler and turned every couple minutes until they were a bit black on each side. Next, transfer the peppers to a brown paper bag and close up shop. This will make it easier for you to peel of the skin. Wait about 10-15 minutes and then take the peppers out of the bag and the skin will peel off. You could do this with some red peppers and put them on a sandwich. Think about how classy you'd be... Cut off the tops and remove the seeds. Slice up and throw them in cous cous, maybe enchiladas for an extra kick, or a chicken or pork dish. Enjoy!

acorn squash with a kick

There's something really wonderful about acorn squash to me. It was a side dish I got excited about growing up. Butter. Brown Sugar. What's not to like? I came across a recipe by the one and only Jamie Oliver that I wasn't too sure of...but with the items in my fridge it seemed worth while to give it a shot. This would be a more savory rendition with a kick. Sure- sock it to me.


  • 4 small acorn squash
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 level teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 to 2 dried red chilies, chopped, to taste
  • A pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • Sea salt and freshly gound black pepper
  • 9 ounces tasty crumbly goat's cheese or feta cheese

Slice off the top part of the squash, where the stalk comes out, leaving you with a lid for each. Scoop out the seeds and discard them. Crush up all the herbs and spices in a mortar and pestle or if you don't have one because you think it'd be a really great Christmas present and you're holding out- grind them all around with the back of a spoon.

Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, reserving the oil. Drizzle a little of the oil into each of the squash and use your fingers to smear it round the insides. Season the inside of each squash with salt and pepper, followed by a sprinkling of the spice mixture. Finely chop up the sun-dried tomatoes and add these to the squash, giving each one a little mix around. Place the lid on top of each squash. Place in a baking dish and roast in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes to an hour, until the flesh inside is soft.

Take your squash out of the oven. Sprinkle some feta or goat cheese and enjoy.

The chillies added a kick for sure and overall I thought it was a great success. I love the deep color of the squash when it's roasted and think this would serve a vegetarian quite well. Happy cooking!

a cutting board how to

A few months ago I got some pretty wonderful cutting boards thanks to my mom, and thanks to a Williams-Sonoma outlet being in her backyard. A few months later (now) the boards were lacking their shine and I knew some oil is what I needed. But what kind? And where would I go that wouldn't rip me off? My first stop was Sur la Table and I was thankful to find a couple options there. I ended up with generic mineral oil as opposed to their version for $.75 cents more, and am quite happy with the results. There are different oils if you have anything bamboo, but this worked quite nice. I'm going to try and keep up the maintenance about once a month or so, but rubbing a little bit of the oil on a cloth then onto the board. Wa-La.


A couple weeks ago I left the above, and came home to the below. Oh Santa Barbara. Today what made me really happy was coming home to our gardener (which comes as part of our rent) weeding in my garden! Now I'm really motivated to put some seeds in there and see what winter veg I can grow for the winter garden. Stay tuned!

Fall into Another Good Spoon

Fall into another Good Spoon

You're Invited to the Fall Good Spoon Cooking Class

Now that the sun is going down earlier, maybe we can begin to pretend it's Fall! Think pumpkins, butternut squash, and so much more. Come away from a cozy and fun night with new friends, recipes you'll have mastered, and fresh new ideas that'll help you more easily conquer the transition from Summer to Fall.

When: November 14th, 2009
Where: Santa Barbara
Time: 7:00 PM
Cost: $25

RSVP by 11.12 to reserve your spot- Space is Limited!

my pumpkin zucchini bread

Some of you know my all time favorite zucchini bread recipe is from my grandma. I have countless memories of slabbing on some cream cheese and enjoying this wonderful treat for breakfast or a snack- probably even part of dinner sometime. When my roommate's boyfriend had it, he offered to let me borrow season 4 of how I met your mother, if I made him zucchini bread.
Well, I had some pumpkin in the house and ended up tweaking the original recipe just a bit, to make this my own. Somehow I was all out of all purpose flour, so I used self-rising and whole wheat. I think this turned out to be a good flour combination since sometimes whole wheat alone can tend to be too heavy of a flour. I used some grated zucchini I had frozen. I took it out of the bag and let it drain over a mesh sieve and squeezed out any excess water before adding to the bread.

3 eggs, beaten
1 c. veg oil
3 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. sugar
2 c. grated. peeled, zucchini
1/4-1/2 pumpkin puree
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cup self-rising flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt

Beat wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients and add to wet ones. Bake in 2 greased pans at 350 for 1 hr. to 1 hr. 20 min until toothpick in center comes out clean.

You can add nuts or raisins to this if you'd like- or chocolate chips would work too if you like the sweets. Enjoy plain or with a little cream cheese!

fall in los olivos

This afternoon Les and I headed up for a quick trip to Los Olivos. Excuse me. Les, Molly and I. I've been wanting to try out Saarloos, Stolpman, and the Enjoy cupcakes I follow on twitter. Yup. We stopped into Saarloos and were happy to discover a wine and cupcake pairing. Done and done. Stolpman was pretty wonderful and I highly recommend it- great reds. It's fun as I wine taste more and more. My palette is getting a bit picky, I must say. I love fall up there. Since well, even if it's warm it feels more fall like. Persimmons and yellow leaves on the trees. Hello, November.