Friday, November 29, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Chickpea and Cauliflower Salad

From Martha Stewart

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and if you're like me you are craving something totally different from the foods of yesterday -- something light but satisfying, with flavors not at all reminiscent of yesterday's fare.  I think you will find this Chickpea and Cauliflower Salad to be the perfect choice.  The salad calls for raw cauliflower, but I prefer to steam or roast it instead (I usually use the microwaveable prepackaged option).  I also add crumbled queso fresco cheese when I have it (feta or goat cheese would work too, but I don't care for either).  If you can bear to face cranberries, dried ones can be used instead of the raisins.  This recipe is great for lunch or as a light dinner or side dish, and is a wonderfully tasty alternative to turkey!

Chickpea and Cauliflower Salad

1 can (15-16 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 T. drained capers
1/4 C. plus 1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. red wine or sherry vinegar
1/2 head sliced cauliflower (raw, steamed, or roasted)
1/2 C. roasted and salted almonds, chopped
1/3 C. golden raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 C. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 C. crumbled queso fresco (optional)

Toss the chickpeas and capers with the 1 T. olive oil on a baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast at 475 degrees for about 10 minutes*, until the chickpeas are golden brown.  Whisk together the 1/4 C. olive oil and the vinegar.  Toss the dressing with all of the ingredients until everything is evenly coated.  Taste for seasonings and serve.  Serves 4.

*The original recipe recommended 20 minutes, but 10 minutes worked for me.
             

Thursday, November 28, 2013

On the Homefront: Thanksgivukkah Table

Dalmatian pup Pilgrim and his good buddy Wishbone are on the
scene to survey the Thanksgivukkah tablescape.

A Dalmatian named Pilgrim is here
To enjoy the Thanksgivukkah cheer.
While his best turkey pal
Will remain for a while,
When the feast starts he'll want to stay clear!

The inspiration for my Thanksgivukkah table was a honey-colored gravy boat I found at HomeGoods a few weeks ago:


Made in Portugal, it is decorated with a raised turkey and acorn design and I just couldn't resist it.  About a week later, I discovered salad plates on the Sur la Table website that were a perfect match.  I also found a white Turkey Compote Bowl and Turkey Salt and Pepper Shakers, and another Turkey Gravy Boat in white which also had a raised turkey design.  (BTW, Sur la Table does an excellent job shipping and sending their items -- all were well padded and packed so not a single item was broken, and they arrived very quickly.  I will definitely be ordering from them again!).  Honey gold and white seemed destined to be two of the colors on my holiday table, and when I found out that Thanksgiving and the first full day of Hanukkah would fall on the same day this year, blue seemed to be the logical choice for a third color.  There is always a bit of brown on my table, so a happy combination of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving colors was the result!  You will have to forgive the rather dark appearance of my photographs -- our dining room faces northwest, and at this time of year the light is just not very good, especially for my little digital camera:

For some reason I left the fork off of one place setting when I was
taking photos (that has since been remedied!).


Threshold Textured Placemat in Gold from Target; leaves and acorns charger from Walmart several years ago; cobalt blue dinner plate (Hotel Elite from HomeGoods);  Embossed Thanksgiving Salad Plate in Honey from Sur la Table; chocolate coins in gold foil (gelt) from Hobby Lobby; stainless steel flatware; Autumn Harvest Napkins in Wheat from Bed Bath & Beyond; leaves and acorns napkin ring from Walmart several years ago; can't remember where I got the clear glass wine glass or the blue glass goblet.

The brown leaf design table runner is from Kroger, of all places!

Hakkari hurricane from Crate and Barrel last year;
gold acorns from Pottery Barn last year.

The honey-colored gravy boat that inspired my tablescape;
white turkey salt and pepper shakers from Sur la Table;
white oval platter from HomeGoods.

White turkey gravy boat, with the ladle from the turkey compote
bowl, which will be used for the cranberry sauce.
I have a small pewter menorah which happened to fit perfectly
inside my new turkey compote bowl, so I created my very own
Menurkey (I have had the golden yellow maple leaf candle
plates for years).

Our Thanksgivukkah feast will consist of most of our traditional Thanksgiving dishes, with a couple of changes to honor the Hanukkah celebration.  Sweet potato latkes with a cranberry applesauce will start the meal, and I will add challah bread to the stuffing instead of white sandwich bread, but the roasted turkey, the green bean casserole, and the pumpkin pie will remain the same, since my husband dearly loves these traditional dishes.  To roast my turkey, I simply follow the directions on the turkey wrapper, but I never season the bird, not even with salt.  I do stuff our turkey and then simply baste it with oil as it roasts.  This is the way my mother did it, and I happen to prefer the flavor of unseasoned poultry.

Thanksgivukkah Menu:

White Wine/Iced Tea or Water
Roasted Turkey/Gravy
Mom's Sausage Stuffing with Challah Bread
Green Bean Casserole*
Pickled Beets
Pumpkin Pie**/Whipped Cream

*Green Bean Casserole (yes, this is the classic Campbell's soup version)

1 can (10.75 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 C. milk
1 tsp. soy sauce
dash of pepper
4 C. cooked cut green beans
1 1/3 C. French's French fried onions

Combine the first five ingredients with 2/3 C. of the fried onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until hot.  Stir, then sprinkle with the remaining fried onions.  Bake five minutes longer.  Serves 6.

**Pumpkin Pie (and yes, this is the classic Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie)

3/4 C. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves (I usually omit this as I dislike cloves)
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin purée
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell (4-cup volume)

Combine the first four ingredients in a small bowl.  Beat the eggs slightly in a large bowl.  Stir in the pumpkin and sugar mixture.  Gradually stir in the milk.  Pour into the pie shell.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for two hours.  Serve immediately or refrigerate (do not freeze).  Serves 8.

✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡✡

In addition to the chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil (gelt), there will of course be Lindt Lindor Truffles on the table, in blue (dark chocolate) and gold (white chocolate) wrappers in honor of Hanukkah colors:


Just a couple more images of Pilgrim and Wishbone:



And one showing the dreidel I forgot to put on the table when I was taking photographs:


A dreidel is a small four-sided top that is used to play a popular children's Hanukkah game with the chocolate gelt, which I have put on my table at each place setting (real coins or other small tokens can be used instead).  An explanation of the rules can be found here.  This game would be a great way to keep children occupied while the Thanksgivukkah meal is being prepared!

Hannukah actually started yesterday at sundown, so that is when the first candle on the Menurkey was lit, but since my husband will actually be in town for the full eight days of this holiday, we will get to light a new candle every night together for once.  While I am not Jewish, I do enjoy celebrating all holidays with my husband, who is Jewish and who is especially fond of Hanukkah.  This year we get to celebrate two holidays at once together, which is truly something to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Thanksgivukkah to you all, and to all of your family and friends as well!
                

This 'n That Thursdays: Thanksgiving Dining Rooms

From 123RF

I recently read an online article featuring dining room décor tips, but unfortunately I did not care for any of the examples shown.  This motivated me to do a search for images of Thanksgiving dining rooms I did enjoy, which led to the following results:

From Country Living via Eat the Earth

From Traditional Home via Élan Redesign

From Jevinterior

From New Urban Homes

From A to Zebra Celebrations

From IROHU

While this Thanksgiving dining room is not for me, it is certainly unique:

From Decoist

All of the other looks range from very traditional colonial to quite minimalist modern, but each one evokes the feeling of Thanksgiving in a way I find pleasing.  Whatever dining room décor you have chosen, I hope you and your family have a most enjoyable Thanksgiving feast there!
                

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wish List Wednesdays: Pumpkin Soup Bowls


I would love to own these Pumpkin Soup Bowls from Pendleton Woolen Mills.  The pottery bowls are made in Oregon and come as a set of four for $60.  I find the organic shape and lovely pine green color quite attractive, and would use these bowls for any autumn- and/or Southwestern-themed table (possibly even for Christmas as well!).  There is also a Pumpkin Soup Tureen available for $54 in a golden oak color.  Maybe if I'm lucky they will go on sale after Thanksgiving -- if so, I will be first in line with my order!

               

Friday, November 22, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Sweet Potato Latkes with Cranberry Applesauce

From Joy of Kosher
(the recipe from this site is spicier than the one
I am posting, but also sounds delicious)

I was all set to prepare a Southwestern-themed Thanksgiving feast this year, until I found out about Thanksgivukkah!  In a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will fall on the same day.  My husband is Jewish, but we rarely celebrate Hanukkah because he is often traveling when the holiday arrives.  He is almost always home for Thanksgiving, though, and he will be here this year, so I thought I would make the attempt to combine the foods of both holidays.  Since hubby is very much of a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I will not stray too far from our usual menu, but I will make a couple of adjustments.  We will still have my Mom's Sausage Stuffing, but I will use challah bread.  And yes, I do stuff my bird!  I have eaten it that way all my life, and no one in our family has ever fallen ill.  Sometimes the turkey has been dry, other times it has been moist -- stuffing it does not seem to be a factor.  I think it is more a matter of not overcooking the bird while making sure the stuffing is sufficiently heated, which is tricky but not impossible (check this site for some good tips).  I say phooey to Alton Brown and all other stuffing naysayers -- cooking is as much an art as a science, and some of us have been taught the art of roasting a stuffed turkey by family cooks who have been perfecting it for generations.

The other change I will make is the addition of Sweet Potato Latkes with Cranberry Applesauce as a starter to the meal.  I don't usually serve potatoes at Thanksgiving, as I think the stuffing is all the starch we need.  My husband loves potatoes and would prefer to have them, but he has resigned himself to my choice, so just this once I will make him happy by adding latkes.  Sweet potatoes are relatively healthy, but more importantly latkes are one of the most traditional Hanukkah foods and whenever my husband is around for this holiday we have them.  You could make the Cranberry Applesauce from scratch, but I am simply going to combine some canned whole berry cranberry sauce with some bottled applesauce.  I will play around with the proportions to get the flavor combination I like best -- I am thinking maybe one part cranberry sauce to two parts applesauce, or possibly equal parts of both.  Any leftover sauce can be served with the turkey.

It is possible that Sweet Potato Latkes will be such a hit this Thanksgiving they will become a new addition to our annual meal.  After all, the holiday is at least partly about the blending of old and new family traditions, and what better place to add a new tradition than the celebratory feast!

Sweet Potato Latkes with Cranberry Applesauce

2 medium (1 lb.) sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
2 T. minced or grated onion (or use 2 minced scallions)
1/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 to 1 C. whole berry cranberry sauce
1 C. applesauce
Sour cream or Greek yogurt

Combine all but the last three ingredients.

Oven Directions:  Generously grease a baking sheet.  Drop the latke batter by teaspoonfuls onto the pan and flatten slightly.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.

Skillet Directions: In a 12-inch skillet heat 1/4 C. vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Drop the latke batter by teaspoonfuls into the skillet and flatten slightly.  Cook for four minutes, turning once, until golden  brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Combine the cranberry sauce and applesauce.  Top the latkes with the fruit sauce and the sour cream as desired.  Serves 6.
            

Thursday, November 21, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Thanksgivukkah Donuts

From Joy of Kosher

A very rare event occurs next week -- Thanksgiving and the first day of Hannukah will fall on the very same day, creating a unique holiday dubbed Thanksgivukkah!  Feastwise, this could create quite the dilemma, as both holidays feature beloved food traditions.  So how to deal with the blending of celebratory meals?  Roast turkey with tzimmes?  Sweet potato latkes?  Challah bread stuffing?  Pumpkin noodle kugel?

Zucker Bakery in New York has at least one traditional food covered, creating variations on sufganiyot, jelly-filled donuts often eaten as one of the oil-fried foods for Hannukah.  Their Thanksgivukkah donuts come in four Thanksgiving-related flavor choices.  The most traditional Hanukkah choice would have to be the pumpkin-flavored one filled with cranberry sauce, while the most unusual is definitely the same donut filled with turkey as well:

Spiced Pumpkin Donut with Turkey-Cranberry Filling
(from Zucker Bakery)

If you are a big fan of Thanksgiving leftovers in a sandwich, then you may enjoy the pumpkin donut filled with turkey and gravy.  I think my favorite, though, would be the sweet potato donut with a toasted marshmallow cream filling:

Thanksgivukkah Toasted Marshmallow Donut
(from Zucker Bakery)

Not really a jelly donut, and supposedly not too sweet, but I am more of a fan of cream-filled donuts than jelly-filled ones, if I must eat a donut (not one of my favorite foods, as I am not fond of fried foods in general).  Kudos to Zucker Bakery, though, for embracing this once-in-a-lifetime event in their own special way!

More Thanksgivukkah fun -- the Menurkey!
(from The Flog)
             

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wish List Wednesdays: Golden Branch Fireplace Screen


I normally do not choose gold when selecting items with a metallic finish, but there is just something about this Golden Branch Fireplace Screen from Horchow that appeals to my aesthetic sense.  I think I like the look of organic elegance -- the rusticity of the branches and the regality of the gold color complement each other surprisingly well.  Obviously this screen is not meant to be functional, and it is recommended for gas fireplaces only.  The price is high ($475), but if you are in the market for a screen to decoratively shield your gas fireplace and money is no object, this could be the solution!

           

Friday, November 15, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

From Bunny's Warm Oven

In my quest for still more recipes using pumpkin as an ingredient, I came across one for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.  This coffee cake is so good that I literally ate the past piece before I realized I had not yet taken a photograph (luckily my source had a little more self-discipline, so I present her beautiful image instead).  The recipe yields a lot of servings, and the cake stays moist for days in the refrigerator.  Simply reheat it briefly in the microwave and enjoy for breakfast, dessert, or as a midday snack.  I know I will be making this treat again soon!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Cake:
  2 C. sugar
  2 eggs
  1 1/4 C. pumpkin purée
  1/4 C. oil
  1/2 tsp. vanilla
  2 1/4 C. flour
  2 tsp. cinnamon
  1 tsp. baking soda
  1/2 tsp. salt

Filling:
  1 package (8 oz.)  low-fat cream cheese, softened
  1 egg
  1 T. sugar

Topping:
  3/4 C. chopped pecans
  1/4 C. brown sugar
  1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Beat together the first five cake ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine the remaining four cake ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the first bowl and mix well.  Pour the batter into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan.

Combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl and blend thoroughly.  Dollop spoonfuls of the mixture over the cake batter.  Cut through the batter with a knife to swirl in the filling.  Stir together the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  Serves 15.
             

Thursday, November 14, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Joan Baez and Jerry Seinfeld

Joan Baez (from foGlobe) and Jerry Seinfeld (from AskMen)

There is absolutely no reason that Joan Baez and Jerry Seinfeld should be connected in this post, or elsewhere for that matter, except for the fact that sometimes my mind works in unexpected and bewildering ways.  Both of these performers happened to catch my attention at about the same time, so I thought I would mention them together.  That makes sense, right?

First up is Joan Baez.  I have a small collection of vinyl LPs and a player that still works, so once in a very great while I will play one for old time's sake.  I was actually looking for a rather obscure calypso album that I own, which just happened to be right next to the Joan Baez album, so I played and enjoyed both.  The calypso album is so obscure that I could not easily find any of the recordings on YouTube, but my favorite Joan Baez song was there.  It is called "Three Horses", and for anyone who is interested, have a listen:


Although Joan Baez was most popular just a little before my time (I was still a bit too young to appreciate her songs), when I was in college I found that I really enjoyed her work.  I only have one album of hers called "Blessed Are...", but it contains some of her very best songs, including my favorite.  "Three Horses" is such a hauntingly beautiful melody that showcases Joan's unique voice, and like most of her songs it contains a statement about life that really makes you think.  I may have mentioned before that I am not very musically inclined, but I do appreciate a few musicians, and Joan Baez is one of them.

About the same time I was reconnecting with my Joan Baez album, I came across a reference to a fascinating collection of Jerry Seinfeld videos on YouTube.  These short films, called "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee", each start out with Seinfeld in a vintage car, which he describes in detail.  He is always on his way to pick up someone in the comedy business, "spontaneously" inviting them out for a cup of coffee at an establishment he thinks they will like.  Once there, they order coffee and sometimes food, and proceed to chat randomly about various topics.  I'm not especially interested in cars and I don't like coffee, but I did find these films to be entertaining and worth watching.  Some of the segments are funnier than others, but all are interesting in their own way as you learn about these people from a new and different perspective.  Some of Jerry Seinfeld's guests include Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, Don Rickles, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, and a whole host of others.  Below is the video of Seinfeld with David Letterman:


When you find yourself with a little spare time and nothing better to do, you might want to listen to some Joan Baez songs and watch Jerry Seinfeld's short films -- perhaps at Thanksgiving, if, like me, you are not a football fan and need to find a different form of entertainment.  And now you also know four things in which I have little or no interest -- music, cars, coffee, and football.  Unless, of course, they somehow involve Joan Baez or Jerry Seinfeld.  (I told you my mind can sometimes work in strange and unusual ways!)
             

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wish List Wednesdays: The Deadly Donkey Mug


According to my husband, I have a rather alarming sense of humor.  Which is why, when I discovered the Deadly Donkey Mug, I was absolutely delighted -- while he was utterly horrified!  (The man needs to learn to lighten up, I think.)  The creation of wickedly humorous Edward Monkton (alias of artist and poet Giles Adreae) the design on the mug is based upon a short poem of his called, appropriately enough, "Deadly Donkey":


This mug is getting hard to find -- it is no longer available on Amazon.com, and the UK site CampusGifts seems to be one of the few that still sells them (on sale for about $10).  Even so, I am determined to own one of these mugs, and with Christmas fast approaching I may be able to justify having one shipped overseas!

Oh, and one more thing -- apparently there is a second stanza to this poem:

Deadly Donkey and Pillow Pony

Beware the Deadly Donkey
Falling slowly from the sky.
You can choose the way you LIVE, my friend
But not the way you DIE!

Beware the Pillow Pony
Getting ready to bite your head.
When you wake up in the morning - GASP!
You know that you are DEAD!

Truly weird and wonderfully disturbing poetry indeed!
                

Friday, November 8, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Macaroni and Cheese with Pumpkin, Kale, and Sausage

From The 'Lush'ious Baker

Just because Halloween is over does not mean that my love affair with pumpkin has ended!  My recipe this week for a pumpkin-sauced macaroni and cheese (a modified version of the one found here) is a variation on the pasta/pumpkin/sausage/kale theme I posted about a month ago.  It takes a little more time and effort to make and has more ingredients, but the result is so worth these extras!  I especially love the seasonings, which complement both the sweet and savory sides of the pumpkin.  The final baking adds a toasted crunchiness to the top that also elevates the flavor.  I reduced the amount of pumpkin from a full can to half of the can because I made another recipe that used the rest, but if you don't need to reserve any of the pumpkin purée by all means use the entire can.  I also replaced the onion with a bell pepper simply because I had the pepper but not an onion, so use either one, or both if you wish.  Try this recipe when you have a little more time and you won't be disappointed!

Macaroni and Cheese with Pumpkin, Kale, and Sausage

2 T. oil
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage (I used sweet turkey sausage)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 chopped canned chipotle in adobo sauce, plus 1 T. sauce
5 oz. container pre-washed baby kale*
2 1/2 C. low-fat milk
2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 T. flour dissolved in 2 T. water
1 C. pumpkin purée (about 1/2 can)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 C. (8 oz.) shredded cheese, such as Cheddar or Monterey Jack
12-16 oz. medium pasta shells, cooked and drained (I used whole grain)
3/4 C. dry breadcrumbs
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to crumble the meat, until no pink remains, about seven minutes.  Remove the sausage and add the diced bell pepper.  Saute over medium low heat for a few minutes until it starts to soften.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Stir in the chipotle and adobo sauce, then the baby kale, and cook until the kale is wilted.  Mix in the cooked sausage.

After cooking the pasta, remove it from the pot and add a little oil to it keep it from sticking together.  Combine the milk, paprika, cinnamon, and nutmeg in the pot.  Cook over medium-high heat until just below a boil (bubbling at the edges of the pot).  Add the flour mixture and cook, stirring, until the milk thickens.  Turn the burner to low.  Add the pumpkin and Worcestershire sauce and stir until smooth, then do the same with the cheese.  Stir in the pasta until completely coated with sauce, then add the sausage mixture.

Pour the pasta mixture into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan and spread evenly.  Combine the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes until the Parmesan cheese begins to turn golden-brown at the edges of the pan.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.  Serves 6-8.

*Our local Kroger store had prepackaged baby kale, which looks like a cross between kale and spinach, either of which can be substituted if you cannot find baby kale.  Regular kale will require some extra preparation and cooking time, which is detailed in the original recipe.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Modern Western-Inspired Living Room

Iconic Pendleton Glacier National Park Blanket

Pendleton Woolen Mills offers so much more than just wool blankets these days.  Their home collection includes rugs, furniture, linens for kitchen, bed, or bath, dishware, and so much more!  Pendleton's home goods have a lighter, sleeker, more modern feel than most Western-influenced furnishings, and I really like the look.  I came up with a modern Western-inspired living room style board using furniture from the Pendleton home collection as well as pieces from a few other sources:

Clockwise from top left: Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool Sofa; Pendleton Daltry Leather Chair; Crate and Barrel Era Side Table; Pendleton Large Steampunk Table Lamp; Ballard Designs "Horses at Rest" Artwork; Pendleton Demi Lune Table; Pendleton Steampunk Floor Lamp; Crow's Nest Trading Co. Head over Heels Candleholders (no longer available*); Crate and Barrel Era Rectangular Coffee Table; Center: Grandin Road "Golden Day" Artwork; Background top: Pendleton Toadlena Blanket; Background bottom: Grandin Road Siam Indoor Area Rug.

I think this room evokes that feeling of being out West in the wide open spaces without the dark and heavy look of stereotypical Western interiors.  It would be suitable for both town and ranch, no matter which side of the Mississippi you live on!

*It seems that Crow's Nest Trading Co. has shut down their online catalog and gone out of business.  This company was one of my favorites and I will miss them!
             

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wish List Wednesdays: Oldham Harper Glassware


It was love at first sight when I spotted the Oldham Harper Glassware in the Signals catalog a couple of months ago.  The bird designs by American Modernist artist Charley Harper are just beautiful!  Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in his artwork, which he referred to as "minimal realism".  Well-known designer Todd Oldham played a major role in this renewed interest, creating a line of Charley Harper-inspired home goods (check out the Fishs Eddy website for collections featuring birds and fishes) and publishing a book about Harper's art, which is also available in an abridged version.

The glassware shown in today's post can be purchased as a set of four ($36.95 from Signals, $34 from Fishs Eddy), or individually from Fishs Eddy for $8.50 each.  I just ordered a set, and I am now coveting the Cardinal Dinner Plate (although the $26.95 per plate cost is a bit steep).  These plates could be a great Christmas gift option, though, so perhaps a bird-themed Christmas table is in our near future!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Marbled Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies


Just because Halloween is over doesn't mean that my love affair with all things pumpkin must end.  After all, Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, and pumpkin pie is not the only way to bring this wonderful fruit to the table!  Children in particular might be even more inclined to feast upon these Marbled Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies instead, because everyone knows that all things tastes better with chocolate (you did know that, right?).  They would also make a great after-school snack at any time of the year.  This recipe makes a lot of brownies, so plan on sharing some with others, which is what the Thanksgiving season is all about!

Marbled Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies

Pumpkin Layer:
  3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  1 T. butter, softened
  1/2 C. sugar
  1 egg
  1 C. pumpkin puree
  1 tsp. vanilla
  1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  1/4 tsp. ginger
  1 T. flour

Chocolate Layer:
  1 1/4 C. flour
  3/4 tsp. baking powder
  1/2 tsp. salt
  6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  3/4 C. butter, cubed
  2 1/4 C. sugar
  4 eggs
  1/4 C. milk
  2 tsp. vanilla

Topping:
  3/4 C. coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil.  Grease the foil and set aside.

For the pumpkin layer, beat the cream cheese with the butter, then add the 1/2 C. sugar and continue beating until well combined.  Beat in the next five ingredients until smooth.  Stir in the flour and set aside.

For the chocolate layer, combine the flour with the baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Put the chopped chocolate and cubed butter in a large saucepan.  Cook and stir over low heat until melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and gradually beat in the sugar just until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the milk and vanilla.  Gradually blend in the flour mixture just until combined.

Spread the chocolate mixture evenly in the prepared pan.  Spoon the pumpkin mixture in several mounds on top.  Using a narrow metal spatula, gently swirl the pumpkin mixture into the chocolate layer.  Sprinkle with chopped toasted walnuts, if desired.

Bake at 325 degrees for one hour, or until the center is just set when the pan is gently shaken (do not overbake).  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack.  Use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan, then cut into squares.  Makes 36 brownies.

Note: Layer the brownies between sheets of waxed paper in a covered container.  Store them in the refrigerator for up to three days.