Measure & Whisk: Real food cooking with a dash of minimalist living

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fox Ten Months

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I like to list off all the things I am grateful for.   I have so much to be thankful for, because we are so blessed, but I think my number one is my family.  Adam and Fox are my world, and I love them so much!  Love comes in all sizes and shapes, but it is the thing that makes the world go round, and I am SO grateful! I hope you get to spend this weekend with the people that you love!  

I can't end this post without telling you a few fun things about Fox at this age! 

1.  He finally started scooting a few weeks ago, and now can be found almost anywhere in the apartment.  He loves opening the bottom drawer in the bathroom vanity, and playing with the fridge magnets.  
2.  Bathtime has become his favorite time of the day.  He now scoots as fast as he can toward the tub if he hears the water running.  
3.  He is still eating anything and everything and has learned how to ask for more with sign language!  It is the cutest thing!  
4.  He has to get outside at least once a day, and gets crabby if we stay inside too long.  As soon as we head out, he calms right down, and is so happy.  
5.  He loves eating curry, but a few days ago, it was a little too spicy for him, and he kept sticking his tongue out like he was trying to cool it down.  A little sad, but really cute!  
6.  He has started scooting around while holding stuff, and will carry balls, legos and blocks around with him while he cruises the apartment.  I love seeing him exploring and learning new skills!  He is more fun everyday! 

Happy Thanksgiving!  
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Squash and Kale Salad with Orange Tahini Dressing

Today, I walked outside to greet a thin layer of frost across the top of our car.  Now I feel justified in posting lots of warm, hearty recipes (says the girl who posts soup recipes in June... ).  This isn't a particularly warm recipe, but it is hearty, especially for a salad.  

Salads usually get categorized as a side dish, but I think that is a mistake for some salads, because they can be incredible filling.  I love this one, because I find that it is just the perfect balance of sweet and salty, with a tangy bite to the dressing.  Honestly, the dressing is incredible.  I don't think I have ever tasted anything like it before, and it is so delicious.  

I thought it might be worth posting a salad on Thanksgiving week, because you might need a post-Thanksgiving salad to justify all the pie you are going to eat.  

1 head of curly kale, destemmed, and ripped into large bite-size pieces
a few drops of olive oil
1 acorn squash, chopped in half, seeds removed, and thinly sliced
1 Tbs oil
dash of salt and pepper
1/4 cup pepitas, roasted and salted
1/8 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Place your kale in a large bowl.  Pour the drops of olive oil over the kale and massage the kale for a minute or two between your fingers, until the kale softens and turns bright green.

In a medium sized frying pan, place the acorn squash in the pan with the oil, and cook with a lid on for about 4 minutes.  Flip when the squash has softened and begins to brown.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the squash is soft.  Lightly salt and pepper it, and remove it from the pan.  Carefully remove the peel with a knife.  Put squash pieces on the kale.

Sprinkle prepared pepitas over salad, and sprinkle feta on as well.  Serve with dressing (see recipe below).  Enjoy!

slightly adapted from the edible perspective
2 Tbs orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
2 Tbs tahini
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs olive oil
dash of salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a jar and mix with a spoon until smooth.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Gift of Experience

The more minimalist we become, the harder birthdays and Christmas become.  Particularly because I love having beautiful presents under the tree with my name on them and the surprise of opening a gift on Christmas morning.  Adam and I have discussed this extensively, particularly of late, now that we have a baby.  With children comes more stuff, and, before you know it, your house fills up with things.  Particularly when your house is only 700 sq. ft to begin with.  Sometimes Christmas gifts end up just being more stuff.  That sounds so pessimistic, but I really think that experiences can be more valuable than more things to add to your collection of things.  
After much debate, we are trying to move to experience gifts.  This can be just as tricky as picking a physical gift, but the pay-off is a wonderful memory that can be cherished for a lifetime.  When I think back on my childhood, some of the best gifts my parents gave me were ones that came in the form of an experience.  The main one that comes to mind is the time we took a cruise as a family the day after Christmas.  I don't think we got any physical presents that year, but the cruise was amazing, and a great time together as a family.

Experience-based gifts can be hard to come up with, so I have a few examples to get you started if you think this is something you would want to try in your family and you're not ready to afford a cruise (it's okay, we're not either).

1.  Tickets to a show, movie, or game.  Maybe your child loves basketball, your husband loves theater, or your best friend loves cooking.  There are so many kinds of local (or not) events that would be a perfect gift for a loved one!  When we were dating, Adam got me tickets to go see Emerson Drive (a country band), even though he hadn't heard any of their music.  It was so fun to go together (it was the first and only concert that I have ever been to), and I loved spending the time doing something together!  I am not sure he loved it as much as I did, but it was the perfect gift for me!

2.  An outdoor experience like a day trip to a scenic hike in your area, a bike ride next to the river, canoeing on a local lake, zip lining, a trip to explore nearby caves (several of these may not be available in your area, but this could be a great gift for the outdoor enthusiast, particularly if you struggle to get out and do things in your area, like we do).

3.  A class.  I feel like I am a lifetime learner and am always looking for ways to hone my skills and learn new techniques.  Classes can be great gifts for adults and children!  I know in our area you can find adult art classes, dance classes, yoga classes, photography classes, cooking classes, and many more options!  Try asking your family what kinds of things they would be interested in learning and maybe buy them a month trail or a one-time class!

A few weeks ago, I went to a pie-making class at a nifty little cook's supply store in downtown Austin.  The teacher was incredible, and the class was nice and small which made for a really great learning environment.  Also, the pies that we made were delicious!  We each got to take home a tiny pie (Adam was a huge fan), and I felt like I learned a few things about pastry dough that will be extremely useful for many years to come!  I also got to meet a new blogging friend!  I have read Katie's blog for a while, and I was thrilled to be able to finally meet her!  She really makes the most gorgeous desserts!

This apple pie course came from a company called Underground Kitchen, based in Austin, TX, that offers incredible cooking classes for pretty much every kind of cook!  Pastry classes, pasta classes, cake decorating classes; they are all taught by tried and tested cooks who really know their stuff, and they are taught in interesting locations (some in shops like this, and some in people's homes).  I haven't seen any of the classes repeated yet, and I have checked several times.

It really was great to have a professional show me how to make my pastry even better with a few special tips and tricks for making the best pie possible.

Also, our teacher's husband is an incredible photographer and was taking photos of our class.  I took my camera along, but because I was also participating, it sat off to the side a bit.  Another participant volunteered to take a few photos of me, and he ended up helping her take some.  I never realized how self-conscious I am about my photography.  It is a little scary to have a professional pick up your camera and take pictures with it!  Suddenly you worry that you have been using all the wrong settings!

Bringing it all back, there is nothing like experience gifts!  They are meaningful, create incredible memories, and don't ever collect dust in your closet!  I hope that we will have many experience gifts to share in our future!

I would love to hear if you have ever given or received an experience gift, and what you thought about it.  


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thai Chicken Pizza With Amazing Peanut Sauce

Gosh, I love pizza.  I make it all the time, and often experiment with new recipes, but over the last month or two, every new pizza combination I have tried has been lousy. I tried things that I thought would taste great, and they didn't, and things that I didn't think would be exciting and they weren't.  Overall, my pizza making has been very sad. 

After all these frustrating experiments, I decided to make a Thai Chicken Pizza.  I have tried 2 or 3 different Thai pizza recipes over the years and they were all disappointing.  Most of them were missing the pop of flavor that I was looking for, or they were super dry. I had almost given up hope of being able to make a good one.

 I didn't have high hopes for this one, but it knocked my socks off with its incredible flavor and great toppings!  The toppings are pretty normal for this type of pizza, but the sauce is really what takes this pizza over the top.  It is spectacularly good, and this recipe is definitely worth pinning right now.  If you don't make it tonight, you should make it tomorrow.  It is that good.  I think we will probably make this once a month for the next 50 years or so, and I will look forward to it every. single. time. 

Thai Chicken Pizza with Amazing Peanut Sauce
Makes 1 medium sized pizza (feeds 3-4)


2 chicken thighs, thinly sliced
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp white sugar
1 white crust (I make this recipe, use half the dough, and freeze the other half for later)
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 small carrot, halved and thinly sliced
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, finely shredded
2 Tbs cilantro leaves
1/8 cup of peanut sauce (see recipe below)

First prepare your chicken thighs, by placing them in a small, foil-lined pan. Space them out evenly, so that no pieces are touching.  Mix your pepper, salt garlic and sugar in a small bowl, and evenly sprinkle them over the thighs.  Set your oven to a low broil, and cook for about 8 minutes on one side.  If there is any raw pink showing, cook for another minute or two, then flip the strips over, and let cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes.

On a silpat mat or parchment paper, sprinkle cornmeal in a thin layer across the surface.  Roll your crust out on the mat, the final crust should be about just over 1/4 of an inch.

Top with sauce (see recipe below), then cover with shredded cheese.  Top the cheese with red pepper and carrot slices, and dot the top with cilantro leaves.

Bake on a hot pizza stone in an oven preheated to 425°F for 10-12 minutes.  Check after 10 minutes, and remove once the crust is starting to turn golden brown.  Let cool for 3-5 minutes, then enjoy!

Peanut Sauce:
adapted slightly from Gimme Some Oven
Makes enough to spread on the pizza and some left over for dipping the pizza in.

2 Tbs smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 can coconut milk
2 tsp soy sauce
3 Tbs yellow curry paste (I like this curry paste)
1 tsp vinegar
2 tsp water
heavy sprinkle of garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat for about 3 minutes.  Stir constantly until it comes to a simmer, then remove from heat.

Monday, November 16, 2015

White Chocolate and Honey Caramel Corn with Honeycomb Crumbs

This shop has been compensated by CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #HoneyforHolidays #CollectiveBias

Christmastime has always been one of my favorite times of the year.  With the twinkling lights, beautiful music, festive activities, kindness of friends and strangers, and love from family and friends, how can you not love it?

There are always so many fun things to do in the city around Christmastime.  A few of our favorites include the lights in Zilker park in Downtown Austin, Burnet Bethlehem (a very large and incredible live nativity that a city outside of Austin puts on each year), and the Christmas market in a quaint city square north of Austin.  Whenever we go to these, I always want to buy all the delicious food that they have for sale; but this year I have a plan, so that we don't spend our entire weekly food budget in one night!

We often go with friends to these events, and I thought it would be so fun to make and take a fabulous batch of popcorn packaged in a festive wrapping.  It's perfect for sharing, and I always think that a homemade treat adds a little something to a night out, and it can also save you a little money.  This snack is sweet, tasty, and easy to take along!

The Don Victor honey is delicious and the honey comb is such a surprising element!  I had never purchased honey with honeycomb in it before, but I thought it was such a cool idea. The honeycomb is stunning in the jar, suspended by all that beautiful golden sweetness, and although it is definitely different than anything I have eaten before, I am totally on board.  This recipe only uses a quarter of the honeycomb, so you can use the rest to experiment.  I have heard it is great with crackers and cheese or on a piece of toast, and I just can't wait to try it out!

(You can find the Don Victor Honey on the Hispanic Food Aisle at your local Walmart)

White Chocolate and Honey Caramel Corn with Honeycomb Crumbs
makes about 6 cups

1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs Don Victor Orange Blossom Comb Honey
1/4 honeycomb from the Don Victor Honey, partially drained of honey and cut into small pieces.
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, divided
light sprinkle of salt
1/4 cup popcorn kernels

Prepare the popcorn kernels either by placing them in a brown paper lunch bag and with the top of the bag folded over a few times (this is the cheapest way to make microwave popcorn and it works like a dream), or pop them in an air popper.  Once they are popped, lay them out in a thin layer on a sheet of wax-paper, and set them aside.

Remove the honeycomb from the honey, and drain some of the honey off of it.  With a sharp knife, cut 1/4 of the honeycomb into thin slices, then cut those slices in half to create small squares of soft honeycomb.  Set these aside with the popcorn.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and honey together over medium heat.  Add the 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips and stir constantly until the white chocolate is melted and the mixture has just begun to simmer.

Once the mixture takes on a caramel-like consistency, remove the saucepan from the heat, and drizzle it over the popcorn.  Sprinkle the popcorn with salt, and drop the remaining 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips over the popcorn.  Evenly space pieces of the honeycomb over the popcorn as well.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then package it up.  For this festive packaging, follow the directions below.

Festive Tissue Wrap:
Take a square of clear cellophane wrap, and a similarly-sized square of cute tissue paper.  Cut the tissue paper in half diagonally, and place it under the cellophane.  Place your popcorn in the middle of the cellophane, and pull the ends of the tissue paper and the cellophane up around the popcorn.  Tie a festive string around the top of the popcorn ball, securing it inside the cellophane.  

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