Erica Lea on Feb 4th 2013
Hello all! Can you believe that February is already well on its way? Also, it’s only 10 days until my due date. I’m so ready for this kid to arrive!
Here are some things that have brought me joy over the past few weeks.
My first attempt at a splash photo. It made a huge mess.
Grapefruit + Avocado salad (spring greens, grapefruit, avocado, sea salt + fresh ground pepper, and a grapefruit juice vinaigrette). See the completed salad HERE.
My sister, Amanda, got engaged. I had the fun of taking the engagement photos. See more HERE.
Reuben surprised me with flowers one evening.
On days when the weather will permit, it’s been fun to take leisurely walks through the woods.
Meyer Lemons. Something new-to-me. So far I’ve made creme brulee with them, but I also want to try my hand at lemon curd.
Honey on fresh baked bread (with butter, of course). Is there anything better?
Hope you all are having a smashing 2013 so far. What has brought you joy lately?
Erica Lea on Jan 7th 2013
Hello there! Hope you all had an awesome holiday season. I wish I could say ours was rockin’, but it seems like we’ve been battling one sickness after another.
I was going to make Nutella Stuffed Cookies for ya’ll, but after the indulgence pigging out from the holidays, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
So I went a little healthier route and made granola instead.
For Christmas I received the lovely Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, from which I got this granola. I think I’m going to really enjoy cooking my way through that book.
This granola is bonkers good. The flavors are simply wonderful and it bakes up nice and crunchy. Plus, it super-customizable — always a good thing in my book. You can change up the type of nuts or fruit for a totally different result.
And now for a bit of a baby/pregnancy update. I’m at 34.5 weeks (the above photo was taken at 33 weeks), or 5.5 weeks from my due date! It kinda scares and excites me to think that we’ll be responsible for the life of a tiny, helpless baby in a little over a month.
For now I’m doing my best to eat right to keep this life inside of me healthy. Onward to this new adventure!
You can read more about my pregnancy on my personal blog.
- I think the use of egg white to help bind the granola is brilliant. It didn’t make the granola as “clumpy” as the recipe suggested it would, but it was still quite crunchy.
- The fruit made the granola get a tad softer. Next time I might leave it out altogether. After all I’m not a huge fan of fruit in my granola.
- Coarse sea salt makes this granola really lovely. Every once in a while you get a bite with a little salt crystal. Delightful!
- The original recipe called for olive oil, but I used butter since olive oil can break down with baking. You could also use coconut oil if you prefer.
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup pecans or nuts of choice
- 1/4 flax seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 large egg white
- 1 1/2 cups dried fruit of choice (I used figs and apricots), optional
1) Preheat your oven to 300° F (150° C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, nuts, flax seeds, cinnamon and salt. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Mix in the maple syrup.
3) Pour the butter/maple syrup mixture over the dry ingredients and toss to coat well. In a small bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Add to the dry ingredients and toss.
4) Spread the granola out onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, until the granola is nicely toasted, golden, and feels dry, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
5) Remove from oven and let cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. When completely cool, break up the granola and stir in the fruit. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. You can also store in the refrigerator of freezer for longer periods of time.
Erica Lea on Nov 19th 2012
Confession: I have a special place in my heart for boxed Stove Top dressing. Granted, my mom doctors it up quite a bit with wild rice and turkey, but there’s just something about it that says “Thanksgiving” to me.
I’ve always wanted to try making stuffing from scratch. Though tasty, boxed dressings are often loaded with unnatural ingredients. But making it myself always seemed a bit daunting. How are you supposed to find a recipe with just the right amount of spices so it’s tasty and liquid so it isn’t soggy?
Then I decided to jump right in and give a recipe a try. To my surprise, it was uber easy and no-fuss.
Will it replace your beloved Stove Top? No. But what could without using high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and MSG? Is it a good natural, healthy alternate? Definitely yes!
The beauty of this recipe is that it’s a great canvas for your culinary creativity. You could so easily add your favorite ingredients: cranberries, wild rice, turkey, nuts, whatever you please!
If you’re using homemade or low-sodium chicken broth, you’ll probably want to add a little extra salt to the stuffing mixture.
- 1 loaf bread (whole wheat, white, or whatever you please) torn into bite-sized pieces to make about 8 cups
- 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dish and foil
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage (depending on how “sagey” you like your dressing)
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 eggs
- 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1) Preheat your oven to 350° F (175° C). Place the bread crumbs on two rimmed baking sheets and bake in preheated oven until nice and dry, about 14 minutes, stirring & rotating the pans halfway through baking. Set aside to cool (these can be made ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container for up to 1 week).
2) In a medium skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery, season with salt + pepper to taste, and cook until nice and tender, about 8 minutes. Add the sage and celery seeds and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
3) Place the bread crumbs in a bowl and add the sauted vegetables. In a separate bowl, mix together the chicken broth and egg. Add to the bread crumbs and toss together until evenly moistened. If you’re using homemade or low-sodium chicken broth, you may want to add a bit more salt at this point.
4) Place the stuffing in a buttered 13×9-inch pan or a 10-inch cast iron skillet and bake at 350 until warmed and the bread has soaked up the broth, about 25-35 minutes. You can also store the un-baked dressing in the refrigerator until ready to heat.
Erica Lea on Nov 8th 2012
I must admit that November is not my favorite month. In Norther Minnesota, most of the colorful leaves are long gone and everything seems brown, grey and cold. I long for the lakes to freeze over so we can go skating and for snow so we can ski.
But this is the month to catch your breath before winter settles in. A time to dig out your extra warm coats, boots and sweaters in preparation for the freezing-cold days ahead.
It’s also a time to enjoy warm tea on grey days and hot, filling desserts on chilly evenings.
These roasted pears are the perfect little treat for an otherwise gloomy evening. They cook up without fuss and are fantastic with a scoop of good-quality vanilla ice cream. You really must serve them with ice cream.
- 2 ripe pears
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- good quality vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 450° F (230° C). Slice the pears in half lengthwise and cut out the centers.
2. In a small cast iron skilled place the butter, honey, vanilla and salt. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Add the pears to the pan, cut side down. Continue to simmer for 2 more minutes. Turn the peaches over and transfer to the oven. Bake for 12 minutes or until the pears are nice and soft and the sauce has caramelized.
4. Serve hot or warm with vanilla ice cream and the caramel sauce. Enjoy!
Erica Lea on Oct 22nd 2012
Perhaps I have been spared a bit of the usual hatred for Brussels Sprouts by the simple fact that my mom didn’t cook them much when we were kids. Of course I’d heard so many bad things about this leafy green that I somehow had it in my mind that they were gross and to be avoided.
Then I saw beautiful pictures of roasted Brussels Sprouts floating around the web. They didn’t looks so bad. In fact, they looked pretty good, delicious even.
So I purchased a small bag from our local health-food store and roasted them up. They. Were. So. Good. It is my firm belief that roasting will transform nearly any vegetable into something scrumptious (perhaps with the exception of beets).
These little veggies pack a pretty good nutritional punch as well. Just one cup provides over 100% of your daily intake of vitamins K and C. Perfect for a pregnant me.
If you are an avid Brussels Sprouts hater and have never tried roasting them, may I suggest purchasing a small bag and giving it a try. There’s not much to lose, and you may find that you love (or at least don’t hate) them.
Note: this is a method, not a recipe with specific ingredient amounts. Tailor it to your own tastes!
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts | by Erica Lea | Printable Page
- Brussels sprouts
- olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- good-quality butter for serving, optional (my favorite brand)
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205° C). Wash the Brussels sprouts and remove the outer layer of leaves and any that are yellow or ugly-looking. Cut off the brown stubs and slice in half.
2) Arrange the sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan, cut side up. Drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh-ground pepper.
3) Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes, flip the sprouts over and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the sprouts are tender and the outsides are nicely colored.
4) Serve with extra salt and pepper and (my favorite) good-quality butter. Enjoy!