October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween food and decorations. It seems that since we moved from my childhood home, a lot was misplaced - including my favorite pumpkin lights. But the decorations that we do still have, are different and interesting. My family isn't big on fake cobwebs and plastic spiders, but we do like collecting spooky lamps and centerpieces that have been around since I was a little girl. Their removal from dusty boxes always signifies that a time of food, friends, and fun is about to begin. Not to mention a lot of spooky stories and scary movies.

Our pumpkins - mine is the one on the right.
Of course we baked the pumpkin seeds with salt, pepper, and red chili flakes for spice.
Special Halloween chocolates from Moonstruck in Portland. The Mummy was filled with crackling candy (much like pop rocks). 

Spider Cheesecake
We've had this moon lamp for as long as I can remember. 
Other side of the lamp. 

Beaded coasters and ceramic appetizer plate.
The ABCs of Halloween - I love this little art book. There are some creative words in there...(see next photo)
L is for Lycanthrope

All photographs by Britta Lokting.

October 29, 2012

The New Burt's Bees

Locally made Portland Bee Balm
I have a problem with losing my chapstick. I am continually buying some every time I go to the grocery store. Usually, I stick (no pun intended) with Burt's Bees - I love the fresh, tingly feeling, and of course the fact that there are no preservatives in it. However, when I went to pick out a new stick, I noticed a new brand I had never seen before. I was drawn to the brown paper label with an etching of Portland. The writing looks hand-drawn and personal. I picked it up and read "Portland Bee Balm... Handmade with Love in SE Portland By Us (Brad and Anika)." Being a fan of local ingredients, I didn't hesitate to buy it.
As it turns out, Brad and Anika are true fans of local, organic ingredients, making the wax and honey straight from a hive in their own backyard. Even the paper label is from 100% recycled stock and printed from a shop down the street from their house.
I love this beeswax - it feels and tastes more natural than Burt's Bees - and it works! I have been using it for a week now, and have no complaints. So, if you live in the Portland area, I highly recommend picking up a stick. I bought mine at Whole Foods, but you can also buy it on their website here.

October 23, 2012

Fall Flavors

Baked Squash
This is nothing more than squash and butter. It is so soft and sweet, and deliciously warm when eaten right out of the oven. I love squash and root vegetables in the fall and winter. Plus, the bright yellow color and crispy skin make this dish a pretty fall centerpiece. 

Turkey Bolognese
I usually think of Bolognese as a thick sauce with chunks of meat. This dish however, was a lighter version of this idea. It didn't feel as though I was eating a large, heavy meal. Instead, the lack of red sauce made it more elegant - and I wasn't completely stuffed at the end of dinner. Another plus: it's incredibly easy to make and not time consuming. 
To make:
In a sauté pan, combine garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper and ground turkey. (I like to add in my own spices, like red pepper flakes). Cook the turkey until browned.
Meanwhile, boil water and add the rigatoni. 
Transfer the cooked noodles to the sauté pan.
Serve and top with parmesan cheese.

 Pumpkin Ginger Muffins
The ginger in these muffins is key. In fact, if I did it again, I probably would double the suggested 3 tablespoons. These muffins are healthy, simple to make, and a great fall breakfast. I made them for my family on Sunday brunch. Putting them in cupcake holders makes them the perfect size too. I felt satisfied, and not overly full at breakfast.

To make:
Mix together 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, one egg and 1/4 cup non-fat milk. 
In a separate bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, ground ginger, baking powder, allspice, nutmeg and 3/4 cups of brown sugar. Fold in the chopped ginger.
Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. 
Spoon them into prepared cupcake cups and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

 7 Minute Soup
I got this recipe from the October 2012 Food & Wine issue. They claimed it to be a 7 minute soup, and they were not lying. It's healthy, filling, and nice to keep in mind for those nights when you just don't feel like cooking. 
To make:
Cook rice in a large saucepan.
Puree hummus, red peppers, and chicken stock in the blender. 
Transfer the soup to the rice saucepan, and add in shredded rotisserie chicken (this can be store bought, and it's best heated up in the oven before hand).
Heat the soup until it's ready to serve.
Top with red peppers.

Brussels Sprouts
Whenever I needed to get my green fix in college (those were the days...), I turned to brussels sprouts. Anything that can be cooked in the oven with minimal effort is usually the path I take.  For these, we broiled them in water before baking, however, I usually skip that step. I like to soak mine in olive oil, salt & pepper, and red chili flakes for spice. The crispier the better, so I leave mine in until they're on the verge of burnt (these below are a bit undercooked in my opinion).

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies
I needed to use the rest of my pumpkin puree from the muffins, and saw another healthy pumpkin recipe - for cookies. Again, so simple. They turned out a little softer than what the picture showed, in fact, they were a bit chewy, but the flavor was all there. The recipe originally called for raisins, but I think the cranberries added a sweeter touch. Pecans can also be used.
To make:
Mix 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, non-fat yogurt and vanilla extract in a bowl.
In another bowl, sift 2 cups flour, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder and allspice.
Add in 3/4 cup brown sugar and the cranberries.
Slowly combine the dry mixture with the wet ingredients.
Drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet, and bake for 12 minutes.

All photographs by Britta Lokting. 

October 14, 2012

Almond Souffle

 Photographs by Britta Lokting.
I began baking this soufflé two hours ago, and as I sit here still in my apron, I am completely exhausted and quite satisfied. I was flipping through Food & Wine (my favorite) and this dessert was featured in the October issue. I am by no means a great baker, but I decided to take on the task of making this. As a warning however: it was not easy. It was time consuming and challenging, but very worth it in the end. The sweet and nutty flavor of the almonds combined with the sticky prunes and wine-soaked pears really made this dessert wonderful. 

To make:
Heat 1/2 cup of rose wine, granulated sugar and four sliced prunes in a sautee pan. Add the sliced  pears.
Remove 1/3 of the cooked pears and puree in a blender. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bake 1/2 cup of blanched almonds in the oven for about ten minutes at 350. 
Remove the almonds, turn the oven to 400, let the nuts cool and then chop them. Put in the blender until finely chopped and fluffy.
Whisk 2 egg yolks, the almond mixture, a tablespoon of granulated sugar, and the pear puree in a bowl.
Beat two egg whites and a tablespoon of sugar until the whites foam and become firm and glossy.
Gently fold this into the almond mixture.
Pour the full mixture into ramekin bowls and put in the oven at 400 degrees for 17 minutes.
Remove the souffles, and turn them over onto plates.
Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, the prunes, pears, and syrup made from the cooked wine and sugar.
Serve warm.

October 11, 2012

Blast from the Past

Today, Vogue tweeted a link to a feature of some of their Fall archives, dating back to 1904. The first few slides featured old Vogue covers, and I absolutely loved them. This one above is from 1932. I think the design is great in the way the leaves swirl around her like a gown. I love the colors, the woman's pose and the entire layout; it is quite elegant. Looking at this, I feel nostalgic for the past, even for a time long before my existance. This kind of nostalgia is represented in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, as Owen Wilson longs to live in a time of the past, when great artists thrived.
 I think these designs are smart, creative and interesting, more so than celebrity covers.
To see the other archives, click here.

October 9, 2012

Ross's Leather Pants Are Making a Comeback

Everytime I think of leather pants, I am reminded of the Friends episode where Ross's New Year's resolution is to try something new every day (true fans know exactly which episode I am speaking of). He buys a pair of black leather pants and wears them to his date's house. Unfortunately, they make him incredibly hot, so he goes to the bathroom to cool off. One thing leads to another and poor Ross cannot get his pants back on. I laugh every time I think of this episode. But I do have to give Ross some kudos - for attempting to bring back leather pants.
(If you sadly aren't familiar with this hilarious episode, please see the segment here.)

While they may not have worked out so well for Ross, I personally love leather (I am even wearing a tan leather coat today). I love the way it feels, and I think it's a great way to bring a bit of edge to an otherwise feminine outfit. Leather goods such as distressed wallets, purses, and belts are my favorite, but now, I am on a mission to find a great pair of leather pants.

I have been seeing lots of leather pants this season, and I love the fact that they are coming back into style. They look like a sexier, more sophisticated type of legging. I'm not so sure I could pull them off, and hope I would fair a bit better than Ross, but I so wish I could. I think I will make it my New Year's (or Fall) resolution to try a pair...


October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Patching

I love October.
The changing leaves and crisp weather,
Halloween and the spookiness that fills the air,
Boots with tights,
Apple cider and cinnamon sticks,
The Pumpkin Patch and harvest markets.

Today, my family went to Sauvie's Island to pick our pumpkins. The sun was low in the sky and dust filled our lungs as we bounced along the hay ride. We ate corn and caramel apples. It was a hot, sticky and yet beautiful day. The Sauvie's pumpkin patch is a childhood memory of mine, and it was nice to go back.

Animal Barn with sheep, pigs, llamas and a bunny.

The hay ride.

Arrived at the patch.
My perfect pumpkin :)

Fresh picked apples ready to be dipped in vats of caramel.
Homemade kettle corn.

Beautiful colored vine of peppers. 

Sweet and sticky.
Our three pumpkins at home.

All photographs by Britta Lokting.

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