fork oven-roasted potatoes

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They will melt in your mouth.

They’re simply delicious, and of course, super easy to make!

I came across the recipe for these fork oven-roasted potatoes in an issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I couldn’t resist.  I mean potatoes, olive oil, salt and oven-roasted, what’s not to love?

And they live up to their name for sure.

Roasting these potatoes, while coated in olive oil, at a high temperature gives them them a beautiful, golden brown crispy crust on the outside and a flavorful, just melt in your mouth, burst of potato on the inside.

I must warn you that once you taste one of these teeny little guys, you may not be able to stop.  In fact, you might just end up eating the whole sack of potatoes in just one sitting!

I made them this week as a side dish, along with grilled, marinated carne asada and a simple green salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

I do hope you get to enjoy!

Fork Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

1 bag of Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Potatoes
1/4-1/2 T kosher salt
1/4 c olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.

Peel potatoes. Place potatoes in a salted pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove potatoes and place on a paper towel lined plate.  When cool enough to hold, run a fork down the sides of each potato, scraping slightly, so as to create a groove on the surface.

Pour oil onto a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for 4 minutes.* Add potatoes, turing to coat and season with salt.  Cook for 30-40 minutes, turning potatoes two more times, or until skin is a nice golden brown and looks crispy.

* I should warn you that your house may take on a smell from the olive oil being heated in the oven at such a high temperature, so I always turn on my oven vent fan and open the windows to let some fresh air in!

 

 

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orange cranberry scones

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I love that the month of January provides us with oranges! A good orange is my most favorite type of citrus.

I remember falling in love with oranges while studying abroad in Granada, Spain my junior year of college. I arrived there the month of January, and oranges were all we ate. They came straight from the tree and were just delicious. Every cafe and bar in the city would have a big bowl of oranges sitting next to its juicer. You could order and enjoy a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice anytime you liked.

There’s also nothing like an orange from a tree in Southern California. They too are just delicious — juicy and sweet, with a little bit of tart. So I was super ecstatic when my husband returned home last week with a plastic bag full of oranges that he’d just picked from a co-worker’s tree, thank you!!

We’ve been partaking in, as well as rationing them, all week. This morning I made a batch of orange cranberry scones for a breakfast treat.

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In case you’ve not tried it, you NEED to try this scone recipe. It’s killer, I mean seriously amazing!  When I make these scones, they’re always a hit. They’re oh, so flavorful and they just melt in your mouth (unlike a traditional scone that’s usually pretty dry!).

The recipe on this blog is for a lemon poppy seed scone, but it’s super easy to change it up. Simply follow the recipe, but when it calls for lemon zest or juice then use orange instead, and when it calls for poppy seeds, omit them and use a 1/8 c chopped craisins instead.

Hope you enjoy!

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french baguette

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“If we trust grace, we don’t need to hide from one another.”

I was scared to admit the truth, that something was wrong, that I needed help and that I still do.

I’ve struggled with disordered eating for most of my life. From bingeing to exercise bulimia, to categorizing foods as good and bad, to withholding and living in fear of food and to believing that bread, particularly white bread, is very very bad.

If you know anything about me, you know that I just love food and that I take great joy in cooking, so the incredibly sad thing about this struggle is that it steals from that deep love and joy.

I dealt with the bingeing post college, as I sought counseling and found freedom. I thought I was fine.  So a few months prior to my wedding, when my best friend confronts me because I’m really thin and have lost a lot of weight, I’m defensive. I’m slippery. I’m in denial. I can’t believe this struggle is displaying itself once again in my life, only this time in a different form.

As I approached marriage, I began to withhold.  I’d never not eat but would just limit what I ate, consuming mostly child sized portions.

One reason I withhold is because I want control. I knew that after saying I do, things in my life were going to change, radically change. I’d be married, which was something I’d never been before, and  I’d be moving, relocating my whole life. It was all so vulnerable.

I also knew that I was about to be seen by my husband for the first time. I didn’t want to be rejected or not loved because of my body and what it looks like. The lies that I can be tempted to believe are that I need to be thin or perfect (without cellulite that is) in order to be loved.  It’s a familial lie I do believe, one that may haunt the women in my family.

Three months after our big day and the move, I accepted a part-time junior high teaching position. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I felt so out of control that the limiting and withholding continued. I began to not eat a meal here or there, I continued to lose weight and I wasn’t being honest with myself, God or others. My husband, bless him, would gently confront me. He’d tell me that he missed the woman he’d dated (and by that he meant the me that had more meat on her bones and her behind!).

After a whole year of participating with this struggle, and allowing it to really have a hold, I knew I had to be honest. I was way too thin. I was tired. I was being robbed and I wanted my freedom back. It was with pen and journal in hand, that I was able to honestly speak the truth of my struggle and my heart.  I needed help, and I was finally at a place where I was more able to admit that and more sincerely mean it.

This struggle is something I’ve felt shame about but have also taken pride in. Shame has made me want to keep this struggle and my sin a secret. It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m not really free, that I can be desperate for control, that I can be afraid I won’t be loved, that I do withhold and that this isn’t something I can just change or fix on my own. Being thin gets you lots of attention, especially from women. So many women have commented on my body, envying what they see and wanting to know my method. I’m not going to lie, it can feel real good, until I remember that it comes at a high cost. Slowly I’m beginning to be honest with these women, telling them the truth about my body and my struggle and sincerely asking them not to praise me for my sin.

The Lord has been so gracious to me. He reminds me that He loves me, just as I am. He loves me regardless of my sin and struggle. He’s helping me to have discernment and be able to choose the good. I’m now able to recognize when I’m being tempted by thoughts like, “you shouldn’t eat lunch today or you can’t eat that roll with dinner because you already had toast today at breakfast,” to acknowledge them as really dumb thoughts and to not submit to them.

This struggle continues to be part of my journey, though things are shifting and have gotten way better. I still long for my roots to sink even deeper down into the truth of God’s marvelous love that’s revealed to us in Christ Jesus. I love myself and want to love myself more and more.  I hope to keep on nourishing my body, caring for it and calling it good, real good.

Now you know why the day I made french baguette, a very white loaf of bread, was such a big day for me, so significant. And the good news is, I’ve made it three times since!

This recipe is super simple and makes a delicious baguette. I’m proud of myself for trying it out, even doing so mid-struggle and not waiting until a point of arrival, and for enjoying it wholeheartedly!

French Baguette

Recipe adapted from Not Without Salt

2 3/4 c flour
1/2 T kosher salt
1 1/8 t active dry yeast
1 c warm water (100-110 degrees)

Dissolve the yeast in warm water.

Place flour and salt in stand mixer bowl.  Pour in yeasty water. Using paddle attachment, mix on lowest speed for 40 seconds.  Dough should form a shaggy ball. Let rest for 3 minutes. Replace paddle attachment with bread hook. Mix on medium speed for 2 1/2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl, should be tacky but not sticky.

Place ball of dough on a lightly floured cutting board. Knead with your hands for 40 seconds.  Place ball of dough in a lightly oiled glass bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight in fridge (for up to 4 days).

When you’re ready to bake, remove dough from fridge.  Divide dough in half. Take one half and place it on a lightly floured cutting board.  Gently shape the dough into a long tube, so that it fits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spray with a light amount of cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours and 15 min. (I usually warm my oven just a touch, turn it off, and then place the cookie sheet with dough in the warm oven to rise).

Pre-heat the oven to 450 (removing cookie sheet with dough before doing so). Place a rimmed baking sheet on bottom rack and fill with a thin layer of water. Place the cookie sheet with the dough on the rack directly above it. Bake for 15 minutes, the rotate the pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes until a crest a golden brown color.

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apple empanadas

My husband and I hosted our very first Thanksgiving last week, and it was super awesome!

My favorite part of the meal was the sixteen pound turkey we roasted.  It was cooked to perfection.  Seriously, I don’t know how it turned out so juicy and so moist, each bite just melted in your mouth.

The side dishes were some of the most delicious I’ve ever tasted: flavorful stuffing with celery and onion, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet cinnamon corn casserole, roasted green beans with shallots and garlic, sour cream strawberry jello mold and a sweet pickle and black olive relish tray.

I find my strong, favorable reaction to our meal slightly odd.

I mean it’s not like I’d never tasted a turkey or those side dishes before. My family has enjoyed the same Thanksgiving meal, with those exact dishes, year after year after year (we are BIG on tradition).

So I don’t know if it was just psychological because we were the ones who prepared the meal or if how I felt really was the truth, but whatever the case, my husband and I both felt like we rocked this Thanksgiving meal.

Dessert was the only part of our meal that was a first for me.

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I made mini apple empanadas that were dusted with cinnamon sugar, served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and topped with a drizzle of caramel sauce.

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Everyone agreed, their appearance was just adorable and their taste exceptional, all thanks to a fabulously flaky crust and delectable filling.

I  give thanks for these, enjoy!

Mini Apple Empanadas

Recipe adapted from Sarah Hearts and allrecipes.com

3-4 small/medium apples, peeled and diced
3 T unsalted butter
2 T brown sugar
1/8 t cinnamon

1 c flour, sifted
1/3 c cream cheese, whipped
1/2 c butter, softened

1/4 c sugar
2 t cinnamon

Use a mixer to cream butter and cream cheese together until well blended, add flour and blend. Gather dough into smooth ball, wrap in foil and refrigerate for a few hours. Remove dough from refrigerator 20 minutes before using. Roll dough out thin on a lightly floured surface. Cut 10 circles with 3 or 4 inch round cookie cutter**.

Place diced apple and butter in a saute pan and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes or until apple begins to soften. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and cook for another 3 minutes (stir constantly).

Place a tablespoon of apple mixture on one half of a pie dough circle, fold dough over and use prongs of fork to seal edges. Place empanadas on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 375 for 17 minutes or until golden brown.

When cooled slightly, place each empanada in bowl of cinnamon-sugar mixture, turn over so as to coat both sides. Top with scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle with caramel sauce.

**I used the open end of a clean, empty soup can since I didn’t have a round cookie cutter.

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the vulnerability of creating

I’ll say it again.

If you’re looking for a good read, and if you’re needing some new recipes to add to your cooking arsenal, I recommend the book Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.  It’s real, heartfelt and almost every chapter closes itself with a recipe to try.

I’ve enjoyed creating many recipes from the book this summer, whether it was for my book club, my husband and I, a family birthday celebration, a small group of friends or just because.

I made green salad tossed with basic vinaigrette, goat cheese biscuits baked in a cast iron pan, risotto, maple balsamic pork tenderloin, peach crisp with an almond flour topping, dark chocolate sea salted toffee, and cookies that included rolled oats, toasted coconut and pecans, craisins, dark chocolate and lots of vanilla.

Each time felt like such an adventure, as I stepped out on a limb to create something that I never had before. And always at the end, came a deep satisfaction with my accomplishment. I was giddy, really, and very proud of myself for risking.

Now for some of you this may sound pretty deep or perhaps a little corny. You may even be thinking, “Come on, why the big deal, I mean it’s just food for goodness sake.” Here’s where I want to say that, oh no, it’s really so much more than that.

See there’s a vulnerability that comes with anything you create because there’s hope, and you’ve put something of yourself into that creation.

I hope it’ll turn out.  I hope people will rave about it and want to eat every last bite of it.  I hope it’ll be something I want to make over and over and over again. I hope the risk I take will be worth it (partly because of the amount I spent on groceries).

Pieces of my heart and soul get poured into whatever I create, so that when I share it with others, what I’m really sharing is a part of me. As a dear friend of mine recently said, “It may seem like just a bite but it means so much more, you’re offering that symbol of you.”

I hope you feel both inspired and encouraged to embrace the vulnerability and to risk creating something yourself that you can offer others. In doing so, I just know you’ll be blessed and you’ll be a blessing to those around you.

Ps…I’ve included some more photos from the book club and one of our fabulous meals together!

**The pictures are as follows: the table set, strawberry thyme lemonade, peppercorn crusted pan-seared ny strip steak, green well salad, blueberry & peach crisp with vanilla ice cream.

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risotto, my very first

Risotto has been on my list of basics to try for quite some time.

It’s just something I’ve never seemed to get around to.

Risotto isn’t a dish that you can just whip up in a matter of minutes.  No, it involves a more lengthy process that requires a real-time commitment.

I think that time thing intimidated me.

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I’m proud to say that this is no longer so, thanks to a book club.

I’m reading the book, Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist, with a small group of women this summer.

It’s a fabulous book, full of thoughtful narratives, satisfying recipes and mentioned as, “… a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them.”

Each week we read a section of the book and then choose a recipe from that section to create and share with the group.

The very first week I volunteered to make the basic risotto.

I was having a bad day the day I was to make it and my hubs could tell, so in a sweet act of love, he offered to help.

We chopped onion (using a lot more than I ever would’ve thought), crushed garlic, listened to hot oil sizzle as rice browned, poured cup after cup of broth into the big pot and stirred, stirred, stirred.

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You may be able to tell from these pictures that things may have gotten a little crazy in the kitchen. Ahem, the onion hanging out on the green teapot and me standing like a flamingo in order to give the legs a break!

I knew we were creating something delicious though because the smell that wafted through our house was heavenly.

I was so jazzed to finally be making my very own risotto from scratch. I was just hoping it would (please, please!) turn out.

The good news, it did!

Grains of rice were cooked to perfection, rich and creamy. Each serving topped with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.

This dish was a big hit with the book club, all the ladies loved it.

I’m looking forward to creating another batch real soon, and adding some additional ingredients to the mix to make it all the more amazing.

Basic Risotto

(Recipe taken and adapted from Bread and Wine)

21/2 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 large onion, chopped
2 c arborio rice
1 c white wine
3 cubes chicken bouillon
5 1/2 c water
1/8-1/4 c parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Place cubes of bouillon and water in a medium saucepan on the stove top. Bring to a boil until bouillon has dissolved into the water. Reduce heat to very low.

Place olive oil and onions into dutch oven, or large pot, on the stove top. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until onions are soft.  Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Throw in the rice (it may sizzle and pop) and stir using a wooden spoon, so that all of the rice is covered in oil.  Add wine and stir. Let cook for about 5 minutes to soften the rice, and so most of the wine is absorbed. Add a cup of broth and stir, stir, stir.

Continue to add a cup of broth about every 7 minutes and stir, stir, stir (As you do this, you want to keep the rice from either drowning in liquid or from drying out so you really have to be present to the process, standing over the stove, stirring for 30-35 minutes).

Add parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

**I purchased arborio rice at Trader Joe’s.
**Make sure you taste along the way, multiple times, so you don’t over cook the rice.  You want to rice to have a soft crunch to it at the end, and if it does, this means you’ve cooked to al dente which is just perfect.

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tomato bruschetta

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I love tomato bruschetta.

It’s super delicious, super simple to make and very, very fresh.

You must, of course, make sure you pronounce it properly.

You say it as bru-sketta.

I learned this from my sister, whose American, but learning to speak as a true Italian because she lives and works in Rome ten months out of the year (thanks Kris!).

One of the star ingredients in this dish is the basil.

Basil is one of my most favorite herbs. It carries such sweet fragrance and incredible flavor.

I was stoked when I realized that I would get to use leaves from my very own basil plant that grows in a pot on my back patio. There’s something incredibly satisfying in the creation of a dish, that makes the dish even more amazing, when one or more of its ingredients come from your own backyard.

In my opinion tomato bruschetta is a summer must, especially if you have the opportunity to use some recently purchased red, ripe summer tomatoes from your local farmer’s market.

I do hope you enjoy!

Tomato Bruschetta

(Recipe adapted from Chow)

1 t balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil
4  medium Roma tomatoes, cored, seeded**, and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t kosher salt
1/8 t pepper
5 leaves of fresh basil, sliced thin

1/3  loaf of crusty french bread, cut into 10 slices
2 t olive oil

Place slices of french bread on baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush one side of each piece with a little olive oil.  Broil in the oven until browned (about 2-3 minutes). Flip each slice and broil again until browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.  Stir until all ingredients are mixed.  Place bowl in fridge for ingredients to marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Place small amount of tomato mixture (including a little bit of the sauce that’s gathered at bottom of bowl) on each slice of bread.  Top with fresh basil.

**Cored and seeded basically means you cut a tomato into quarters, and then you take each quarter and run a knife just under the seeds and juicy insides so that you cut the core of the tomato out and you throw it away.

Serves 3-4.

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