....i said yes...

...Today I was going to update the blog with maybe snack cake or coriander rubbed chicken.  but I just couldn't.  I couldn't because I'm sitting here with a ring on and I think you kinda just a little bit want to hear about it and maybe see some pics.  Well, snack cake can come tomorrow.  For today, it's about rocks and rings and proposals on the sand. 

Benjamin arrived into a rainy Santa Barbara on Wednesday and later that evening we arrived at one of my closest and most favorite places, the boat house.  we had an appetizer and glass of wine and he suggested we go for a walk on the beach while it was still a bit light out.  We couldn't walk too far, but stopped and looked and were ever thankful to be together- long distance is no joke and not very fun!  As we were standing there I was getting cold- time to go, ya know?!  Well, Benjamin popped down on one knee, and proposed!  It was, and still seems quite surreal!  As much as I knew the moment would come, and with him, it was weird to be that girl- the one on the other side- not watching the girl get proposed to- but being her. 

And here is this wonderful Godly man asking that I be his wife- yes yes yes.  I thought I might get emotional, but if you know me, you know there have been too many stressed out tears of late, so happiness and excitement it was!  We stood there for a bit, talked about what was ahead, knowing it is going to be the good with the bad, and lots of hard work!  We got to my car and proceeded to call family and friends.  SO fun feeling so loved and hearing their happiness on the other end!  After stopping by a friends to show her the ring and jump up and down in person, we went on to Hungry Cat...
Oh what a perfect night.  I am so thankful for sweet Benjamin and for God who has so clearly brought us together!  Today my wonderful and talented roommate Annemarie took some pictures for us and I LOVE THEM.  Yes I love Benjamin and I love love my ring, but really- she captured us and the afternoon so well!  Oh Santa Barbara, I'm going to miss you.  And oh Benjamin, I can't wait!

peet's mocha brownies

Am I really allowed to post 2 really delicious dishes right in a row?  Well, I'd hope each dish was delicious in a row but really- brownie on brownie.  Yes.  In my own personal opinion, I like these more.  The cake so moist, the frosting sooo mocha-y.  For the sake of the comments and people who had these last night, I needed to post these...and fast.

I first helped make them in SC, and knew I'd want to make them again.  I had all the ingredients in the house- something I love- and really it was just a matter of the chocolate I'd use.  It called for unsweetened but I wasn't sure how unsweetened mine was.  There was no label on the bar, and I just knew it was dark- never a problem.  I tasted a bit, and based on some sugar, I cut back the recipe on the amount of sugar.  I also only used 1/2 cup of peet's coffee in the frosting, and made the coffee exceptionally strong.  I think all the reviews went something along the lines of - really wonderful.  Good work Pioneer Woman yet again for such a great base recipe.  Below is my variation.

Recipe- adapted from PW

brownie ingredients:
 4 ish ounces semi-sweet chocolate bars (I say so because I eye-balled it- no scale in this house- travesty)
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

mocha icing ingredients:
2 sticks butter
5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsps. vanilla
1/2 cup very strong coffee- cooled to room temp

Preheat the oven to 325.  Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave on 30 second increments or over a double boiler.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Cream the butter and sugar- beat in the eggs.  On low, mix in the chocolate by drizzling it on in.  Add the flour and mix just until incorporated.  Pour the batter into a square pan.  Spread even and bake for 40-45 minutes, until center is set.

For the icing, combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla.  Mix until mostly combined then add in 1/2 cup of coffee.  Don't freak out- it might look like you've ruined your icing but you have not!  Keep mixing and watch- thick frosting shall appear.  When the brownies have cooled a bit, add this on top. Place in the fridge and let them set.  You really need to try these- get going- move- make em.

chocolate chip cookie bars

Saturday morning I was ya know, making chocolate chip cookie bars for the bride to be, Annemarie and her bridal shower that afternoon up at Firestone.  I started making the recipe with oats, then asked and well, she doesn't like oats. This resulted in me realizing I was no longer following the recipe on the bag, and the ratio of brown to white sugar was a bit off.  This also resulted in a really buttery wonderful cookie bar which perhaps I can call my own?  I dare say, I think so.  Let this picture lure you to make these soon- easier and quicker than making individual cookies- right?!

the recipe- adapted from a couple recipes on the back of a toll house bag

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375

Beat brown sugar, butter, vanilla and granulated sugar in a large mixer until creamy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Gradually beat in dry ingredients- flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in chocolate chips.  The batter will look super buttery and like maybe you should add some more flour.  Don't worry.

Spread into a 9x13 baking dish and bake for 25 minutes- check and when golden brown on top remove, cool slightly, and enjoy!

ciabatta, avocado, egg

Here it is kids.  The brunch like sandwich that's been getting me through the day.  I don't always have a loaf of bread on hand, so I find buying a quality loaf of bread can really make a difference.  I got some bread from Lazy Acres for under $3 for a loaf of ciabatta and made a couple eggs sunny side up.  Let's not fear the egg.  Maybe if you have cholesterol problems you can be a bit more cautious, but if you're not eating it for the fat and cholesterol then biting into a huge cookie or french fries, let's talk.  Making eggs is something that can seem so simple, but really takes technique.  Make sure your pan is hot, and coated with cooking spray and a little butter should you like.  Add the eggs to the pan and allow to cook until they start turning white.  When they still have a bit of time to go, flip the eggs and allow to cook for a few seconds, checking that they're done then removing the pan from the heat so the yokes don't cook too much.  Ah, runny egg yolks you get to sop up with good bread.  I sliced half an avocado on top- good fat, lowers bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol, added some salt and pepper and enjoyed with a dark cup of coffee.  Happy Friday morning!

braised short ribs with the most simple polenta in the world

The other day Roth and I decided we'd spend much of our Saturday cooking together.  When she threw out the idea of Short Ribs it was confirmation yet again of how great it is to have a foodie friend who doesn't mind spending a whole evening in the kitchen.  Making a tart?  Sure.  Polenta? Sure.  Short ribs.  Yes.  We made all of the above- roth taking control of the cherry tart and had an excellent relaxing evening. 

The recipe came from the one and only Pioneer Woman with some of our own twists. 

  • 8 whole Beef Short Ribs
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • ¼ cups All-purpose Flour
  • Pancetta, Diced- about 1/4-1/2 cup.
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 3 whole Carrots, Diced
  • 2 cups Red Wine
  • 2 cups Beef  Broth (enough To Almost Cover Ribs)
  • 2 sprigs Thyme
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary
Preparation Instructions- thanks to PW.
Salt and pepper ribs, then dredge in flour. Set aside.
In a large dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until complete crispy and all fat is rendered. Remove pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease.
Add olive oil to pan with the pancetta grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.
Add onions and carrots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.
Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.
Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours. 

Check the meat.  Our ribs were smaller and they were tender and falling off the bone.  If yours need some more loving, reduce the heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid. (Can also refrigerate mixture, then remove solid fat from the top.)  This was a crucial step as they were a bit fatty.  We didn't refrigerate ours as we were too hungry and it was nearly 9 pm.  I might just remove the ribs onto a shallow serving dish, strain the juices, then reheat to reduce the flavor a bit next time.  As delicious as ours were, I think I'd do that step to get some of the grease out and concentrate the flavors a bit more. 

Serve 2 ribs on bed of creamy polenta, spooning a little juice over the top.

on that note- let's talk about Polenta...

I haven't made it from scratch and have never been super attracted to this seemingly healthy side that comes in a roll.  Well, did you know if you boil 4 1/2 cups of water and add in just about 1 cup of corn meal and stir constantly you'll get polenta?  Maybe you knew that.  News flash to this midwest girl.   Reduce the heat so it's not boiling, stir until it's thick and water has evaporated.  Add in 1-2 tbs butter and then....add in some goat cheese- about 4 ounces- to your liking, and serve under the short ribs.  Yum!

{...Now Serving...LBsGoodSpoon.com...}

....the site is up!  A sincere thank you to the many encouraging words, notes, spoon tea towels, recipe cards, aprons, etc. etc. that have gotten me to this point.  Thank you to sweet Emily for being the mind and fingers behind the design of the site, and Annemarie for taking awesome pictures per usual and Allie for setting up the spread, Leslie for having a great backyard, my parents for encouraging me and Benjamin for believing in me, the friends who have planted many a seed of foodie love...and the list goes on!!  Thank you to family and loved ones who keep encouraging me to go after what I love- and for the confidence this gives me to start on this adventure!  

Here's to this bringing glory to God and for Him using this little class and cooking fun in more ways than I can comprehend.  Also, here's for things not working out how you might think they would, and for being excited about how they do... Here's to adventure, to cooking, to spooning, exploring, tasting, and expectant that this will be GOOD.

Take a look...LB's Good Spoon...and Bon Appetit! 

hug me. kiss me. be mine.

Happy Valentine's Day! I made some treats for "mine" from the favorite sugar cookie recipe I've referenced before. It's not too late for you too to make these...today. I frosted mine but failed to take any note worthy pictures. I'd still recommend the frosting with butter, sugar, and cream- of course I would- and to decorate with pinks, reds, and white. Have a sweet day enjoying the company of others, confident in a Love that is bigger, greater, and more satisfying than we can comprehend. Kisses. Hugs. And Sugar.

take a gander...

The new blog header is up....Which means...the new site is coming SOON! Promise. Pinky Swear.

...and I'm back

Thanks for the blog love today! I'm "back" and have some interesting thoughts for where the direction of this blog just might go. I've been cooking, but nothing too exciting. Meals for one are well, less than exciting sometimes. Avocado on toast doesn't disappoint. A sunny side up egg on toast with avocado- now we're talking. Needless to say- I might post random comments or facts or tips here and there. Then- I might post about some more extravagant meals I make, techniques I learn, and things I do because well, life is a learning adventure and I'm "ready to run" as one song rings in my head...

I'm also thankful for the words of a fellow Chagrin, California, Blogger who encouraged me with the words of Provision. As I journey through this time of transition, it's a good reminder that we're always in it, and we're also always right where we need to be. Much of what my life looks like right now will be drastically different in the coming weeks, months, and years. Isn't that a good thing though? Shouldn't we be happy that things change and that we don't just sit, stay, be?

something hearty- minestrone soup

Where or where has the good spoon been? Without sharing too much, I've been here there, and everywhere. Talk about a time of unknown and transition. A time of lots of humbleness and day by day trusting. Being back in SB I've been enjoying the sunshine while my family and friends eastward are snowed in- literally. I got out just in time and don't take it lightly that I can sit on the beach and watch the sunset.

Although it's not "cold" here as others would call it, the cooler weather does make me want to make something hearty, and with my new subscription to Cook's Illustrated, I tapped into their Minestrone Soup recipe. This recipe did not disappoint, full of new techniques and layers of flavor. For those of you who can get out to the stores, pick up these budget friendly ingredients, and make a pot of soup.

Base recipe thanks to Cooks Illustrated, with some Good Spoon Variations...

Step 1>: Brine the beans. I got the beans (1 cup dried cannellini) the day I was going to make them, so I opted for the "quick brine" approach. Combine 1 1/2 Tbs. salt into 2 qts. water. Add the beans and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour.

Step 2: Heat 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil in dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 2 medium celery ribs (more flavor) chopped, 1 medium carrot chopped, and 1 onion chopped. Cook until transclucent, about 5-9 minutes.

Step 3: Stir in 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1/2 small head of green cabbage, chopped into 2 inch cubes. Add 1/2 tsp. salt. Allow vegetables to steam and wilt then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

Step 4: To dutchie, add the soaked beans, 8 cups of water, 2 cups chicken broth, a 2 inch chunk of parmesan (including the rind), and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 5: Add reserved vegetables and 1 1/2 cups V8 juice (this helps the veg flavor pop). Cook 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf, parm rind- which will be nice and gooey because some of that parm is now in the broth (yum!) and season with salt and pepper to taste. NOW- chop up 1 cup fresh basil, stir in, grate some parm on top, and enjoy with some crusty bread.