Gnocchi and Greens in Cheese Sauce

I'm going to be honest. I haven't cooked like really cooked in about a month. I've thrown vegetables in a skillet or had hubs make veggie burgers and mac & cheese. I haven't felt inspired lately, I haven't been in the mood.

But last night I got it back. I chopped, set the table, lit some candles and made an awesome meal. It was so delicious.

Gnocchi and Greens in Cheese Sauce:
serves 6 (or makes a ton of lunches for the week)
inspired by this recipe

2 16oz packs of gnocchi
2 cups of kale; finely chopped
2 shallots; sliced thinly
2 cups of english peas
1 tbs olive oil
4 tbs butter
4 tbs flour
1 tsp dry mustard seeds; ground
6-10 peppercorns; ground
1/2 tsp salt (I used truffle salt mmm)
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mozzarella, monterey, cheddar mix)
1 cup bread crumbs

preheat oven to 400 degrees F

1    bring a pot of water to a boil and cook peas for 5-6 minutes
2    in a pan heat the oil and then sauté the shallots and kale for 3-4 minutes
3    remove kale and shallots to another bowl, strain peas and also place them
      in the bowl
4    in the same pan melt the butter and then whisk in the flour, it should make
      a gravy-like consistency
5    mix in the ground mustard & peppercorns, salt, and cayenne
6    then pour in the milk and vegetable stock and stir frequently over medium heat
7    bring a large pot of water to a boil
8    add 2 cups of the cheese into the milk mixture and stir to melt it all in
9    put gnocchi into the boiling water and let cook until they begin to float, once the float
      scoop them out and place them into a large dish (9x13 approximately)
10  once all the cheese is melted pour the kale & peas mixture into the cheese sauce, stir
      and pour over the gnocchi
11  mix it all together and top with remaining cheese and bread crumbs
12  bake for 8-10 minutes, cheese should be bubbling


Post-Holiday Party

My office had its annual post-holiday party. This year it was at the Seattle Art Museum. In Seattle there are rare occasions to dress up so it was a treat to get to dress all up, put on heels, sip wine in the gallery, and eat things like velvet whipped mashed potatoes. There were 2 bands and one was a group of middle aged white guys playing gangnam style. Needless to say it ended in a tipsy dance party with our bosses and it was a blast. We took the after party to an Irish bar which also had a fabulous fun band playing. Seriously fun night!



Frozen Lake

Last Saturday morning we headed out to a small hike in search of snow. We only had a small dusting one day this winter and we wanted more. Most of the trail was still uncovered but near the lake it was snowy and icy and delightful. The ferns were covered in frost and the lake was mostly frozen. We slide over parts of it and just enjoyed being outside in the cold all afternoon.



Lamb Chili

I've never cooked lamb and I'll mostly only eat it if I trick myself into thinking it's something else, But I saw it in the store and though Joshua would really probably love a lamb chili- so I went for it.

I took out the lamb chunks and put them in his bowl (much to his happiness) but the overall flavoring it gave the chili was very tasty!

Lamb Chili:
from here

2 lb lamb; cut into chunks
1 green pepper; diced
1 red pepper; diced
1 yellow onion; diced
2 cloves garlic; minced
2 jalapenos; minced
1 tbs chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tps cumin
2 cup vegetable broth
1 36 oz can fire roasted tomatoes; diced
1 bay leaf
2 cans black beans; drained

1   season lamb with salt and pepper, heat oil in a large skillet (I used my cast iron)
2   brown lamb on both sides and transfer to a large pot when finished
3   in the same skillet cook the peppers and onions for a few minutes
4   add in the garlic and jalapenos and sauté a few more minutes, stirring to get
     all the juices from the meat incorporated
5   add in spices and salt and pepper to taste and mix well
6   place in pot with meat and stir in the broth, tomatoes and bay leaf
7   bring pot to a boil
8   then bring down to a simmer and cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes,
     stirring occasionally
9   add 1/2 cup water at a time until it is your desired consistency and add in the beans
10 cover and cook for about 10 more minutes
11 serve and top with a generous pile of cilantro


Chai Chocolate Cake

I cannot get over my chai obsession. The chai ginger cookies I made over the holidays set me off and now I want to put the spices in everything. Luckily our friends from small group got engaged (yay) so I had a great occasion to really go for it. I made 2 chai chocolate layers, a chocolate frosing & cocoa nib filling, iced it with whipped vanilla icing and coated the outside in crushed gingersnap cookies. Since it was for such a fabulous occasion I made some waves and tipped them with edible glitter.
 This is currently my favorite cake flavor!

Chai Chocolate Cake:
3/4 cup boiling water
2 chai tea bags
1 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter; room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
1   preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter 2- 8" cake pans
2   steep the 2 tea bags into the water and let sit to cool
3   in a bowl mix the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda, spices
4   in another bowl beat the butter and sugar together
5   then mix in the egg, then the yogurt and vanilla
6   squeeze excess liquid out of tea bags and dispose of them
7   pour half the dry ingredients into the wet, then pour in half the tea and beat together
8   do the same with the rest of the , don't over mix
7   pour half of the batter into each cake pan
8   bake for 35-40 minutes, toothpick should come out clean
Chocolate Frosting Filling:
1/2 cup butter; room temp
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tbs milk
cocoa nibs
1   beat butter until light and fluffy
2   mix in cocoa powder and powdered sugar
3   beat in 3 tbs of milk, if it seems to thick beat in 1 more
4   once cake is completely cool spread frosting over the top of one of the cakes
    and sprinkle with cocoa nibs
Whipped Vanilla Frosting:
5tbs flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter; room temp
1 cup sugar
5 tbs. flour

1   in a small saucepan whisk flour into milk and heat on medium-low
2   stir constantly until it is the consistency of brownie mix (brownie not cake)
3   remove from heat and let cool, once it is cool add the vanilla
4   meanwhile, cream butter and sugar until very well mixed; 5 minutes
5   then add the cream mixture and beat; 7 minutes
6   frost the outside of the cake
Crumb topping:
1/2 package gingersnap cookies
1   place cookies in a plastic baggie and beat them or step on them until
     they are all small crumbs
2   immediately after you ice the cake place the cake overtop of an area
     covered with plastic wrap (for easy clean up)
3   grab a handful of cookie crumbs and open your hand onto the side of the
     cake to get them to stick to the frosting. It's really easy to get them to stick
     it can just make a mess


Little Brother in Seattle

My little brother came out to stay with us in Seattle for the first time this past weekend. We haven't gotten to spend a lot of alone time with him in forever so it was really a treat! We ate a bunch of food bar hopped for a bit one night, rock climbed on a work night, hit up some donuts then a park then some burgers, and went skiing. It was full but in the kind of full we were excited to have. I love getting to know just him. I miss that I can't do it on a daily basis so this large dose of brother time was the best!
The sky was so clear at Crystal Mt. we could see Mt. Ranier
He absolutely kicked our buts on the mountain!


Trip to Pike Place Market


Shooting Clays

Joshua has gone out a few times to shoot clay pigeons with friends. Here you can drive into National Forests and go shooting. Besides the weather being dismal he really had fun. The backdrop is beautifully eerie and wonderful though.

I am wimpy and waiting for nicer weather to join him.


Date Night Darts

Since coming home from Christmas we've been trying to take it slow. We know the end of January and all of February will be busy and overwhelming so we've watched movies on the couch, knitted, played guitar and sipped lots of coffee. It has been just what we needed, but on Friday we were feeling a little stir crazy so we headed out to grab our favorite pizza and then to Murphy's to play some darts.

It was one of those date nights that makes my heart feel full. We played, drank a beer, listened to an energetic electric violinist and talked for hours. We talked about this year, some of our goals, how we've been doing. It was my favorite night of 2014 so far.


Dance off

We had some friends over on Sunday to celebrate a late Christmas. It all started nicely enough with beef stew, progressed into a goofy wii game, then into birthday brownies, and ended with a dance off.

We played the game for awhile and I think we all ended the night sweaty. It was an awesome way to end the weekend! Here are our sweet moves:


A very Seattle New Years Eve

On New Years Eve we biked down to Gasworks park to check out the fireworks they shoot off the Space Needle at midnight. We've heard they're really cool. So we bundled up grabbed a flask to toast in the new year with and headed down. Well when we got there we looked across the water and ... couldn't see a thing! The fog was so dense you could barely see 20 feet in front of you.

We figured maybe you could see some flashes so we stayed with the crowd on the hill watching people light Chinese lanterns and float them off into the sky and a few misc fireworks from people around us. Then people counted down, we kissed, and laughed. We could hear the fireworks going off but couldn't see any of them.

We were finally in Seattle for New Year's Eve and still missed the fireworks :)
It was still fun and we've had some good laughs about it, maybe we'll catch them in 2014!


the food of 2013

I've been slacking lately but for most of 2013 I baked quite a bit.
I got to make 4 cakes for clients (maybe this year I'll start charging)
Explored tarts, pies and ice cream more
We picked our own apples to make apple butter and apple sauce
and shared lots of treats with lot of people.

Next year I want to make a few large scale grown up cakes with ganache and such
I also want to get more into canning and all the goodness it can offer.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement as I've gotten more into baking,
also thanks for eating it!