October 13, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

First of all, I was going to title this “Two Tablescapes and a Kugel” but then I thought nah, too confusing.

Although I’m going to talk about tablescaping in this post, by no means should the decor overtake what’s really the star of the show here, and that’s my late mother-in-law’s Apple Raisin Kugel.

As most of you know, we just did a major renovation on the main floor. Before everything began, packing ensued. And when I mean packing, I mean PACKING. As organized as I usually am, there was an issue with the items that were placed in large rubber containers. As we placed our entire kitchen and dining room into the containers, I asked Steve to be sure to label each one so it would be effortless finding things after the reno was complete. Would you like to know how he labelled almost 20 large containers?

Like this:

Kitchen

Dining Room

Uh…….ya.

“Where’s the wine glasses Steve”?

“In one of the 15 containers that says dining room”.

Okay, this didn’t work out for me AT ALL. I have scoured through most of the containers to find the necessities that were placed back into the kitchen, but I’m missing about 100 things.

One thing in particular was a collection of my mother-in-law’s recipes that were typed up and neatly placed in a binder. WHERE IS IT? I dunno. All I know is this, I have her old recipe box which had her hand written recipes inside. Lucky, lucky me!

So today I’m going show you how I set the table for two separate occasions over the past two weeks – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur AND of course, share this unbelievable kugel recipe with you.

When I decided to host both dinners for the high holidays, I wanted to include an edible component to the centrepiece. And by edible, I mean, your guests can actually graze on the runner. Yes!

As we sat down to our Rosh Hashanah meal, I was asked if the grapes on the runner were “real”.

Hang on a sec.

Never in a trillion years would I put plastic fruit on the table. NEVER EVER, NO HOW, NO WAY, NOT HAPPENING.

I told them to feel free to go wild with the centrepiece and guess what? They had a wonderful time eating those fresh blue grapes, in fact they even got to take home leftovers. There were a ton of grapes on the table along with fresh blue plums and apples.

The look and feel of an edible runner is both chic and organic at the same time, not to mention a perfect excuse to nibble at while the courses are changing over.

For both meals, I used apples and pears as placecards, to seamlessly combine the look and feel of a market fresh tablescape.

You may be wondering what I did with the leftovers? Well, you’re looking at it right here. I used the apples in the kugel and the rest of them in a strudel (not shown). This week, I’m going to use the pears in a recipe too. It’s safe to say that they served two purposes and were recycled into something delish.

There you have it. Fall inspired and super easy to do.

MYRNA’S APPLE RAISIN KUGEL (NOODLE PUDDING) 

– 1 package egg noodles, medium size
– ½ cup butter, melted (1 stick)
– 6 eggs, beaten
– 1 cup sugar
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon
– pinch of salt
– ½ cup raisins
– 2 – 3 large granny smith apples, shredded (I used 6 small apples) 

1) Preheat oven to 350F
2) Boil noodles according to package directions in salted water, drain and rinse with cool water.
3) In a large bowl, add noodles, eggs, melted butter, salt, sugar, cinnamon, raisins and grated apples.
4) Place in greased 9″ x 13″ casserole dish.
5) Bake uncovered for 50 – 60 minutes or until golden brown.
6) Note* – can be made ahead and reheated or frozen and reheated.

See ya next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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September 27, 2017

Chef Luke makes Blueberry Coffee Cake

One night this summer we had dinner at our friend Lucy’s house. When we walked in the house smelled DELIGHTFUL…like a cake was baking. Lucy made Blueberry Coffee Cake and we couldn’t get enough. Luke went right up to her *after licking  his plate* and said, “Lucy, could I please have this recipe? I’d like to make your blueberry coffee cake on my show”. She of course said yes and sent this ever so easy to make recipe that we are now obsessed with.

Chef Luke put on his hat and got baking. Though we went a little overboard with the sugar, the cake was so delicious and such a great use of blueberries.

Watch how Chef Luke made Lucy’s Blueberry Coffee Cake here and further below find the recipe that Lucy shared with us.

Jano’s Blueberry Coffee Cake (Brookesville, Maine)

Enjoy!

xx, Seri
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September 15, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

The issue with having a garden in your backyard is keeping up with the endless amounts of provisions you reap if you are lucky enough to have a good growing season. Enter Steve. He is out there on a daily basis picking reaping the benefits of what he has tended to all summer long.

The majority of the time, he ends up eating half of the ripe tomatoes the second he picks them off the vines and then comes in swinging another baseball bat size zucchini which really has no place for me to store in the kitchen. Those zucchs are really great to use in so many recipes during the summer.

I bet you didn’t know that you can freeze shredded zucchini. Neither did I until I saw it on Pinterest the other day.

There was one zucchini in particular that was sitting and staring at me from the kitchen counter. It was literally driving me crazy to look at because, I mean, really? It didn’t go with the new decor. In fact, zucchinis don’t go with ANY decor.

We have a giant fridge but there was no room for this sucka anywhere inside of it. Why? Because this guy had too many brothers and sisters that were already occupying the space reserved for humongous vegetables. It looked exactly like the Goodyear Blimp and each time I saw it on the counter, I cringed. I finally had enough and said “off with his head (and butt)”.

I threw the whole thing into my food processor and shredded it until I could no longer recognize it’s similarity to a big flying balloon.

So what was I going to do with all this zucchini?

Easy.

I had all the makings of a chocolate banana bread within my reach and I figured why not just add in the zucchini for a “healthy factor”. Who am I kidding? Between the chocolate and sugar, this wasn’t super “good for you” but it sure was delish and rated on a scale of +10 according to those who tasted tested it. Once again, I threw in substitute ingredients that really should have been other things but somehow this came out just fine.

Example 1:

I used 45% dark chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips for the guts.

Example 2:

I didn’t really need to throw in a banana, yes I know I said it was a chocolate banana bread but I had to change the title due to the fact that I used half a banana in the recipe. Otherwise, it would have just been called a chocolate zucchini bread. It was a last minute entry from the fridge before it hit the garbage. Gawd I love dead bananas. Oh and by the way, if I had a whole banana I would have most definitely added it in but half was better than nothing.

Example 3:

I used a small container of blueberry greek yogurt instead of plain greek yogurt because I didn’t have any and I certainly wasn’t running to the market to get a large container when I only needed a 1/4 of a cup.

My motto is “use what you’ve got otherwise it will rot”.

What’s the worse thing that could happen? Usually nothing.

Here’s what transpired when I sent a text out to my three boys with a picture of this bread. One of them dropped everything and came up to the house to ensure the gets at least two pieces. The other two were delivered the balance this week and my eldest said “that bread should be illegal”.

If you want to hide your zucchini and puddles of chocolate, this ones for you.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BANANA BREAD 

– 1½ cups grated zucchini
– 1 cup all purpose flour
– ¼ teaspoon baking powder
– ¾ teaspoon baking soda
– ¾ cup semi sweet chocolate chips (I used mini)
– 1 bar dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
– ½ cup good quality cocoa powder
– ½ cup white sugar
– 2 large eggs
– ¼ teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– ¼ cup vegetable oil
– ¼ cup GREEK yogurt
– ½ ripe banana, mashed

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a loaf pan by lining with parchment paper or nonstick spray. In a large bowl mix dry ingredients together with chocolate chunks. In another bowl whisk together sugar,eggs,vanilla, yogurt, oil & mashed banana. Mix until smooth.
2) Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Don’t overmix. Add in Zucchini and mix until the Zucchini is dispersed evenly throughout the batter. Place batter into loaf pan and spread out evenly. Take chocolate chips and sprinkle over batter, press them in lightly with your hand.
3) Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

xx, Debi
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August 4, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Here’s a perfect example of baking something that I didn’t need, but was happy to stuff into my face. Guys, I have to fit into a very tight dress for my other son’s wedding in five weeks. Although there are healthy ingredients in this recipe, I went overboard and added streusel and drizzle to what would have been an acceptable muffin recipe.

Okay, so streusel and drizzle definitely takes this to the NEXT LEVEL, but really? I may has well have just plunked two of these bad boys directly on my hips before they passed through my lips.

Now, as for the size of these muffins? Well, they certainly ain’t muffkins. I like them BIG. Why? Why not?

Is there anything better than a muffin top? With the exception of one that sticks out if your pants are too tight (which may happen if you scarf down a few of these – consider yourself warned).

I absolutely love fresh peach season and throwing in the dried dates into this recipe was a nice twist. I’m getting tired of adding the usual cranberries and raisins to things. Aren’t you?

Oh yes! What about this muffin pan? The nice folks at USA PAN sent this to me a few months ago (pre-demolition), and I have been saving it until we finished the kitchen and had our ovens in full gear. I’m sure you can imagine how many muffin tins I have collected over the years, but this one is special. First of all, it has an amazing design. Love the stripes! Secondly, although I’m always cautious to either spray or line my muffin tins, this pan didn’t need ANYTHING because it’s super non-stick. My muffins practically fell out on the floor when I released them. Five second rule applies here if you happen to drop one.

Speaking of which, I get many requests about freezing baked goods. These muffins are perfect to pop in the freezer for up to three months or they will stay fresh in an airtight container for three days. Having said that, why is it that I never have to freeze anything? Most likely because I either take my goodies to the office OR I polish them off myself before they have a chance to make it into the freezer.

There are no secret ingredients in this muffin recipe. Just plain old fashioned DA BOMB diggity peachy keen muffins here.  Ready, set, let’s get baking!

For the streusel topping
– ⅓ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
– ⅔ cup all-purpose flour

For the muffins
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 cup rolled oats,quick cooking
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
– 1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
– ¾ cup milk (almond, rice or soy will work too)
– ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
– 3 fresh peaches peeled and diced into small cubes
– ½ cup chopped dried dates

For the vanilla drizzle
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 3 tablespoons milk
– ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1) To make the streusel topping, in a large bowl combine both sugars, cinnamon, melted butter and flour until the mixture is very crumbly. Set aside or place in fridge while making your muffin batter to keep the streusel from getting too warm.
2) Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray; set aside.
3) In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the rolled oats and set aside.
4) In a large bowl using an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and both sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy; about 3 minutes.
5) Add in the egg, egg yolks, and vanilla and continue beating until well combined. Turn mixer off and set batter aside. In a large measuring cup add the milk and sour cream; whisk well to combine; set aside. With the mixer speed set to low; alternate adding the flour mixture and the sour cream/milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Be sure not to over mix. With the mixer turned off, add in the diced peaches and dates and use a spatula to gently fold the fresh and dried fruit into the batter just until incorporated.
6) Divide the batter evenly among prepared muffin tins. Don’t be shy, fill those tins to the brim. Top each muffin cup with about 3 tablespoons of crumb topping.
7) Bake for 27 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool muffins 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a cooling rack. Once the muffins have cooled completely, make your drizzle by combining the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Drizzle over each muffin and let set. These freeze well, but I’m going to be honest here, there won’t be any left to freeze once you get your hands on these. Makes 8-12 large muffins.

xx, Debi
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June 9, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Guess what?

I HAVE OVENS!

Not one but two. Yep. That’s what I wanted in the new kitchen, because God only knows what the future will bring. I figured that it was a practical move since entertaining for a crowd will be inevitable. My mom always loved  her double ovens. When she hosted  large family gatherings twice a year, there was always enough room to place extra dishes in both to keep all the food nice and toasty.

Last night I made my first pizza in the lower oven. Why the lower one? It’s much easier to reach into. Despite the fact that there is still no running water on the main floor, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to bake, broil and roast again.

As an added bonus, Steve has planted all our fresh herbs in the garden and you know what that means? I’m out there snipping and clipping. Now, I’m not a big chive lover but to be honest, they were unbelievably good on this pizza. Along with the fresh herbs, I used sliced zucchini and farmers cottage cheese for my toppings. This was one fancy dancy pizza, don’t ya think?

Oh, and I also have counter space to work on now. OODLES of counter space, which I’m going to tell you about.

I’m in the midst of writing a detailed renovation blog, but I wanted to share this one piece of information with you today. If you have been following along in this adventure, you will remember that I have ISSUES in making up my mind. It’s not that I’m indecisive. Well, maybe a little. Okay, maybe A LOT.

I just want things to be RIGHT. I figured that I have to be in love with the choices I make for this kitchen, otherwise I will be waiting for the opportunity to change things in the future. Deciding on a counter top was one of the toughest decisions for me to make.

You see, being a food blogger means that you are going to beat the crap out of your work space. It means drips, spills, scratches and work space abominable messes. What does all that mean? It points towards choosing a durable surface that can withstand ME.

I searched and searched through every possible man made quartz counter top sample and finally decided on one.

THEN.

I changed my mind. (insert Steve’s eye roll thingie here) Let me tell you what happened.

I walked into a showroom to choose my quartz slab and the salesperson said “don’t look to the right”. When I asked her what she meant by “don’t look to the right”, she informed me that all the marble slabs were to the right and all the quartz slabs were to the LEFT.

So naturally I went to the right.

That was my first mistake, because I fell hopelessly IN LOVE. All the slabs I saw were exactly what I have dreamt of having in my kitchen. There wasn’t one person who didn’t try to talk me out of getting marble. I was basically told “it would be the worst decision ever”.

So what did I do?

I chose marble.

Am I insane for doing so? Probably. Is it beautiful? YES. Is it perfect? No. With every natural stone there are flaws, but I guarantee that there will be more once I start my usual kitchen antics.

I was super careful last night with this pizza. I used every trivet I had in the house to make sure that the pan didn’t come in contact with the counter. Worth it? Uh huh.

Making my own pizza dough is something that I love to do, but for a quick version and since I’m still running up and down the stairs for water, I used a store bought whole grain shell for this pizza. Easy peasy.

The whole shebang took me less than ten minutes to throw together and look how pretty it is!

I’m starting to see a light at the end of the kitchen tunnel. For instance, I have a couch now which has nothing to do with the kitchen, but it’s somewhere that we can sit now. Or should I say, the cat can sit. She was ecstatic that we gave her back some furniture to park her butt on. Why is it that she thinks she owns everything? Most likely because she DOES.

ZUCCHINI & FARMERS CHEESE PIZZA WITH FRESH CHIVES

– 1 store bought pizza shell
– flavored olive oil, I used garlic& herb
– 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
– ½ cup fresh baby spinach leaves
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 2 zucchinis, thinly sliced, steamed and blanched
– 6 tablespoons farmers cottage cheese or goat cheese
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
– fresh basil leaves, for garnish
– 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 450F. Grease a 14-inch round pizza pan. Place your pizza shell on the pan and brush with flavoured oil.
2) Evenly sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the crust. Top with spinach leaves. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle the dried oregano evenly over the top.
3) Bake in the lower third of the oven until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly and browning on top, 8 -10 minutes. Meanwhile, steam zucchini slices for 3 minutes in the microwave with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Drain and blanch in ice cold water.
4) Remove pizza from oven and top with zucchini, dollop farmers cottage cheese over it and sprinkle with chives. Place back into the oven for two to three minutes just to warm through. Slice and serve immediately.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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