I remember Count Chocula. I remember Toucan Sam, the Trix Rabbit, and the fact that the Flintstones were the spokestoons for the Pebbles cereals (both Fruity AND Cocoa). Why? Genius marketing. I do not, however, recall the actual taste of any of these in any sort of Proustian way from my childhood......because I grew up in one of those families. You know. Healthy cereal families. Muesli and cornflakes and, maybe just for fun, plain round Kix cereal (they're Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved, y'all).Read More
I'm a dreamer, always have been. Inside my head are a thousand photographs I have yet to take, a hundred books I have yet to write--and of course, about a million daydreams about family, love, creating, exploring and sharing. I think I've been dreaming of serving dinners like this to my family since long before I actually started a family of my own--it's the kind of warm-from-the-oven, hearty but healthy meal that magical food memories are made of.Read More
Easter has me straight up flummoxed this year, y'all. On the list of "things you don't have to think about until you have a kid, and then suddenly YOU JUST DO," holidays rank pretty high. When was the last time I even celebrated Easter? When I think back on all the previous Easters of my life, there are some dim memories of stiff and lacy Sunday dresses, straw hats, running in patent leather shoes, salty ham slices, Dixie cups of saccharine after-church lemonade that burned your throat with sweetness, plastic eggs. Jelly beans, of course. A frenzy of chocolate and gold foil and pastel plush animals that made Easter seem....almost like Spring Christmas? In a way that was always bewildering and somewhat overwhelming, though. Why are there presents? Who is this shady Easter Bunny character? What's in a marshmallow Peep, anyway? No one needs Spring Christmas. We're not churchgoing people, and I'd rather leave the orgy of candy and goodies out of the picture for Henry while he's still so young. So how, then, to celebrate Easter?Read More
Huge thanks go out to Cost Plus World Market for sponsoring this post and making our Easter brunch dreams come true!
[ Photos by Just Destiny Mag ]
'What do you mean?' he said. 'Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?'
'All of them at once,' said Bilbo.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Any morning I'm awake is a good morning, or so I tell myself as I shift from foot to foot impatiently, transfixed by the coffee machine. I wasn't always what you'd call a morning person. I was a dreamy kid, a lazer, a puller-of-the-sheets-over-my-own-head. There's a sunrise every morning, but I missed countless opportunities to see it for myself by staying in bed long past those early, rosy-streaked dawn moments. For a few years in my adolescence I swam competitively, an activity I loved in every sense except one: it meant pitch-black mornings spent training in a freezing pool, lined up head to foot to head to foot with other sleepy kids pounding out freestyle laps. Not at all coincidentally, this was around the time I started to drink coffee.
As an adult, I have become a morning person, mostly through grit and determination....and yes, coffee. I spent years feeling like the worst impostor of early risers, until finally one day, I didn't. What used to require large amounts of willpower and caffeine now seems much more natural, and I love being the first one awake and tiptoeing around the house. There's a kind of 'witching hour' feel to the early morning hours, before the day's responsibilities clamp down around me, I could spend that precious time doing anything. Read a book for a few stolen moments, meditate with a candle, sit outside and watch a pink sunrise creep upwards through the fragile stillness of early dawn.
Speaking of candles, I may have found the perfect companion for my morning escapades. This Roca candle ( by my friends at Northern Lights, who were kind enough to provide me with candles for this series of posts) combines spiced citrus notes with warm maple vanilla scent, all at once soothing and invigorating. This seems like a morning candle--warming with its hints of spice, meditative glow getting you ready to face the day--and so it deserves to inspire a morning treat. The scent (look for 'Crocus Flower & Spice') is as comforting as a warm, freshly baked muffin in your hand....so who was I to argue with that idea once inspiration struck? The result of this collaboration was my first batch of sweet, pillowy Maple Spice Muffins, and I'm so excited to introduce you to the recipe. Sweetened with real maple syrup, lightly spiced with cinnamon, fragrant with vanilla, and underscored with just a hint of orange zest, each muffin hits all the notes of my favorite candle in what turned out to be the perfect blend for a breakfast treat. A handful of ground almond meal went into the mix to convince myself that these muffins are less like cake and more like granola, but they are, essentially, a sweet morning indulgence. And that's okay. As long as you're awake for it.
(Makes one dozen muffins )
2 cups flour
1 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
8 tablespoons melted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
For the maple glaze:
9 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease the insides of 12 cups of a muffin pan with extra butter, or line cups with parchment liners. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all dry ingredients: flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt & spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter and maple syrup until smooth. Add milk, then eggs, continue whisking until mixture is smooth. Add vanilla and orange zest. Slowly pour wet mixture into dry mixture, stirring as you go, until a smooth batter forms. Divide batter evenly among cups of your muffin pan (each cup will be about 2/3 full).
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until muffins are lightly golden brown and an inserted knife tip comes out clean. Remove and let cool completely.
To make maple glaze, whisk together 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar with 3 tablespoons maple syrup until glaze is smooth. Apply to tops of muffins with a spoon or pastry brush, smooth & sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Enjoy your muffins, and have a happy morning!
(Full disclosure: Northern Lights provided the candles that were the inspiration for this series of posts, but all opinions and recipes provided are one hundred percent my own! To find out more about the Roca and their other lovely candles, visit www.northernlightscandles.com)
This should come as no surprise, but I was a pencils-sharpened-on-the-first-day-of-school kid, a lover of fresh sheets of notebook paper and nubbly eraser shavings. A shy, nerdish girl who loved to write, who grew into an adult version of the very same. I looked forward to essay questions with the same passion that most kids reserved for recess, because they were a chance to distill my wild thoughts onto paper, to quiet my mind and force my hands to shape the words my mouth could never seem to pronounce (always tongue-tied).
What does all this have to do with lemon basil sorbet? Everything. I love an essay question now as much as then, and I can't seem to quit the habit. So, when presented with the challenge of turning a grouping of aromatic candles into a batch of original recipes, I threw my hand up in the air like an excited third-grader at a desk and said 'Yes! Yes please, I will!!' This is the first in a series of posts based on the lusciously scented candles sent to me by my friends at Northern Lights (full disclosure: they provided the candles, but all opinions and recipes provided are one hundred percent my own), and I couldn't be more excited to start with this lemon basil sorbet. Like the fragrance that inspired it, this sorbet begins with fresh citrus notes, follows with a hint of basil, and finishes with a heaped spoonful of black peppercorn-spiked whipped cream. Tart, sweet and spice all harmonizing together beautifully. Best of all, you can make this without an ice cream maker, with minimal effort.
I'd be doing you a major disservice if I didn't point out that a scoop of lemon basil sorbet with a splash of gin and soda water makes an amazingly effervescent cocktail--citrus, herbs and gin are best friends forever.
1 cup white sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
1 cup heavy whipping cream
freshly ground black pepper (use a coarse grind)
Combine white sugar and water in a medium saucepan, heat over medium until sugar dissolves completely. In a food processor, combine lemon juice, zest, powdered sugar and fresh basil leaves, pulse into a fine paste, then whisk into sugar syrup.
Process in an ice cream machine if you have one, or pour into a metal loaf pan as seen here, place in freezer. Remove every hour or so and scrape the sides with a fork, giving it a good stir every time--this helps to homogenize the ice crystals and takes the place of churning in a machine, giving you a nice, smooth sorbet.
Whip cream just before serving, until soft peaks form, then add ground black pepper to taste, serve heaped on a few scoops of sorbet.