Monday, December 30, 2013

cheese and chocolate

Are these your two favorite things to eat? 
me too.
If you are anything like me, you are itching to kick off the new year with whole foods and clean eating after gorging yourself over the past few I right?
So since you have one more day in December, hurry to the store and get yourself some cheese and chocolate to send off 2013 with a bang. 

We love cheese. 
One of my very favorite Christmas traditions we have in our family is our cheese plate for lunch on Christmas eve. 
It's so easy to put together--there are so many combinations of fruit and cheese--I'd love to hear your favorites.
Cheese Plate

-Goat Chevre rolled in fresh herbs
-Spanish Manchego 
-1000 day Gouda

-peach jam
-cranberry sauce (I use THIS recipe)

-toasted baguette 

Let's move on to dessert. 
With whipped mascarpone cream. 
Fallen Chocolate Cake
recipe from Epicurious
the only thing I changed about this recipe was adding 1tsp pure vanilla to the mascarpone cream.
I topped it with pomegranate to add a little color for Christmas, and I can't wait until fresh raspberries this summer--they would go perfect with this cake. 
It's excellent warmed and then topped with the cream.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1" pieces, plus more, room temperature, for pan
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided, plus more for pan
10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (61%-72% cacao), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/2 cup mascarpone
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Special equipment:
A 9"-diameter springform pan


For cake: 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter springform pan and dust with sugar, tapping out any excess.
Combine chocolate, oil, and 1/2 cup butter in a large heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and heat, stirring often, until melted. Remove bowl from saucepan.
Separate 4 eggs, placing whites and yolks in separate medium bowls. Add cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and remaining 2 eggs to bowl with yolks and whisk until mixture is smooth. Gradually whisk yolk mixture into chocolate mixture, blending well.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until frothy. With mixer running, gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar; beat until firm peaks form.
Gently fold egg whites into chocolate mixture in 2 additions, folding just until incorporated between additions. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake until top is puffed and starting to crack and cake is pulling away from edge of pan, 35-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool completely in pan (cake will collapse in the center and crack further as it cools). DO AHEAD: Cake can be made 1 day ahead. Cover in pan and store airtight at room temperature.
For topping:
Using an electric mixer on mediumhigh speed, beat cream, mascarpone,  vanilla, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.
Remove sides of springform pan from cake. Mound whipped cream mixture in center of cake.

Enjoy your cheese and chocolate.....I promise to be back in 2014 with lots of juice, running, and good-for-you-things.

Happy Happy New Year! 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas was here.....

It came and went so quickly. Why does the best time of year have to pass so fast?
We kicked off the festivities with the kids belting out "JOY TO THE WORLD!"and other Christmas hymns at church.
We posed for our obligatory "sleepy-faces-because-we-stay-up-too-late-and-then-have-to-get-up-early-and-look-presentable-for-church" Christmas picture.
With the kids home from school for a few days before Christmas, I put them to work rolling cookies and making snowflakes. We sat for two hours and snip snip snipped--bits and paper pieces flying all over the house. ( use coffee filters for your flakes! it makes them so easy)
We delivered treats to neighbors and decorated the house for our Christmas feast.
Roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, our favorite broccoli gratin, rolls, cranberry sauce (this one I used for buttermilk pie last year) and salad with pomegranate, pears, and candied pecans.
(chocolate cake recipe to come!)
We read through The Nativity, opened Christmas jammies, watched for Santa in the sky and had an impossible time falling asleep.
We woke up too early, (Santa found us!) stuffed ourselves again with Christmas breakfast, and then headed for the mountain to burn off our figgy pudding.
Overnight Monkey Bread
recipe from Alton Brown. 
I omit the raisins to avoid disappointment and skip out on the rosemary.
I add pecans to the pan with the caramel sauce.
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large whole egg, room temperature
2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil or cooking spray
8 ounces unsalted butter, approximately 16 tablespoons
8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary
3 ounces raisins, approximately 3/4 cup
2 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 5 tablespoons
1 teaspoon ground rosemary

*I used 1 cup pecans instead of raisins and rosemary
For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough and add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the 8 ounces of unsalted butter, brown sugar, rosemary, and raisins. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Pour half of the topping into the bottom of 2 bundt pans and set aside. Cover and store the other half of the topping in the refrigerator until the next morning.

Place the melted butter and rosemary for the coating in a medium shallow bowl and stir to combine. Once the dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Portion the dough into 1-ounce pieces; roll each piece into a ball. (You should have approximately 36 balls.) Roll the balls in the melted butter and rosemary.

Divide the balls evenly between the 2 bundt pans. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the bread from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the bread. Close the oven and let the bread rise until slightly puffy looking, 20 to 30 minutes. Once the bread has risen, remove it and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the oven is ready, place the bread on the middle rack and bake until slightly golden on top, approximately 25 to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Place the remaining topping in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Reheat until the mixture is pourable, approximately 5 minutes. Fifteen minutes into baking, pour the remaining topping over the bread, and finish cooking. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then invert onto a platter or cutting board. Serve immediately.

After skiing we threw on our jammies, piled ourselves into blankets and watched "It's a Wonderful Life".....and we all fell asleep on the couch.

best Christmas.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

friday senses

a peek at our week.

running: in deep deep snow--the trail is still piled high. It's slow going, but it feels so good to get moving even if it's just a few miles.
dating: last weekend we went on our traditional Christmas date. The kids requested Bombay House just like last year, and then we headed to the store to shop for each other...peeking around corners and racks to make sure no one sees.
liking: I just really loved this photo of her doing art in her their room.
hearing: my kids are sooooooo loud. singing dancing laughing and just yelling. how are such tiny people so noisy? nonstop and well into the night. just too excited for Christmas.....and I've stopped fighting them. I just close their bedroom door and let them fall asleep on their own in a pile of legos......great parenting right there. 
anticipating: last day of school for the year today!!
driving: I drove an hour in a blizzard to go to Trader Joes for some fun things for our Christmas feast. I just love that store and never ever go down that far.....but it was well worth the drive.
wishing: for snow! it snowed all around us yesterday, but most of ours has melted and it's just brown and sloppy around here. bring on the big fluffy flakes for Christmas!
decorating: sugar cookies. every Christmas my sister and brother and I decorated sugar cookies. My kids love doing the same each year.
playing: in the snow. I am so excited for this winter--we will head to the mountain as often as we can. I haven't been snowboarding in over 10 when Ali and Monica took me out I was a bit LOT rusty. I mean, your feet are strapped to a board sailing down the mountain on snow. So yes, my tailbone is still sore and my ego is still bruised. I'm determined to practice practice practice so I can eventually keep up with these two.
teaching: this was our kids' first time ever was a long day for all of us. 
see her face at the end of the day? yep.
I found myself often giving the "when you fall down you have to get back up again" speech. It's hard to see our kids frustrated, but we also think it's so important to push our kids--take them out of their comfort zone.....and speeding down the mountain unsure of how to stop.....was DEFINITELY out of their comfort zone. But at the end of the day they were already talking about next's going to be a good winter.
shopping: done done done. I have a few groceries I will pick up on Monday but other than that it feels so good to be done. Thanks internet shopping and UPS man.

juicing: juice by morning, cookies by night. that's how it's going these days.
this juice tastes so good, and pomegranates and cranberries are everywhere right now.

Winter Red Juice
arils from 1/2 pomegranate
1 cup cranberries
3 carrots
1" piece of ginger

Happy Weekend!

blogged 1 year ago: Christmasy Things
blogged 2 years ago: pomegranate 
blogged 3 years ago: Christmas Letters

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


It's that time of year when I pop in every now and then with a cookie recipe...and that's about it.
There is just too much to enjoy right now.....and I'm really trying to soak it all in.
I start school in just a few weeks.......eeeek!
I know life will get crazy and busy and just be.....different.
So I'm focusing on the extra time that I have right NOW.
I went snowboarding with friends last week, and then we took the kids up to ski (for the first time!) on Saturday.
I let the kids play hooky from school yesterday.
We've all been staying up too late.
I got out for an afternoon run today.....which made me feel a little bit better about all the cookies I've been eating.
Like these ones.
I never make chocolate cookies.....I know I'll just eat them all.
Robby is a classic chocolate chip cookie guy--any other cookie he'll have just one or two....and leave the rest for me.
It's terrible.
So I've been downing these, reassuring myself it's ok, because next month I won't have time to make cookies. I'm storing up for winter....right?
8 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped 
6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
3 eggs 
1 cup sugar 
1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup cocoa powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk chocolate chips 
1 cup white chocolate chips 

In double boiler over hot water (or a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water), melt dark chocolate and butter. In large bowl with electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs and sugar until thick; stir into chocolate mixture. In small bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and cinnamon; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in milk chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. The dough will be very soft--refrigerate for about an hour, or if you want to speed things up, put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes until it's firm enough to roll into balls. Heat oven to 375°F. Scoop out dough and roll into 1" balls and space evenly on cookie sheet (these cookies spread--I put 9 on a standard size cookie sheet)
 Bake 10-12 minutes or until shiny crust forms on top but interior is still soft.

blogged 1 year ago: all I see
blogged 2 years ago: it takes two [english toffee]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


lately we've been seeing lots of temperatures with a minus sign in front of them. 
so lately we've been eating lots of soup.
lately I am craving a run--my feet on the trail.....I don't care if it's buried in snow......I need to get out.  It's been almost two weeks and my brain is feeling it.

but lately it's been gorrrrrgeous.
white sparkly snow and frost dancing on top of everything.
foggy mornings with sun peaking through the mist.

lately I've been doing some research on essential oils. I know I know, I am so late in the game. But I am hearing more and more and I am definitely curious.....I just like to do all my research.
Do you use them? Why? What? Tell me all about it.

lately I've been enjoying the following friends on Instagram
@alliefinch (pretty photos and words)
@waywardspark (off grid living)
@carolinegleich (professional skier)

lately I am getting so close to having my Christmas shopping done.
 And I haven't left my house one time.
bless you, internet.

lately we've all been quoting Elf. I laugh so hard at that movie every it just me?
What are your favorite Christmas movies?
(two of my all time favs are It's a Wonderful Life (of course) and The Family Stone)

lately it's been cold......did I mention that?
Hearty Minestrone
this makes a GIANT batch of soup. I freeze half of it and pull it out when I need a quick dinner.
minestrone is such an awesome soup because you can add any veggies you have on hand. 
throw in sweet potatoes, squash, chard--whatever is in your kitchen. 

2 small onions, diced
6 large carrots, sliced
1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2TBS chopped fresh rosemary
2 TBS chopped fresh thyme
4 cups of diced tomatoes
2 cups pumpkin puree 
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups kidney beans
2 cups cannellini beans
2 cups pasta (I used farfalle)
6-8 cups chicken broth
1TBS Italian seasoning
splash of balsamic vinegar
S&P to taste

In large pot, saute' onion, carrots, and kale until onions are tender. Add a large pinch of salt and some cracked pepper. Add in potatoes, garlic, and fresh herbs and cook for a few more minutes. Add all remaining ingredients except the pasta and simmer for at least 30 min or up to a few hours. (I like to simmer my soup all afternoon if I have the time) 15-20 minutes before serving add pasta and vinegar. salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Bacon Minestrone HERE

What are you up to lately?
What soup are you eating?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

chistmasy weekend

oh what a weekend!

it snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed.
and snowed.

we spent lots of time inside with blankets and Christmas movies.
chili and cookies.
we made our "Christmas List" of all the activities we want to do over the next few weeks.

we received a very special invitation that read:
"mom and dad you are invited to a Christmas dance party at 6:30."
It looked like this.
Do they get crazy this time of year?
But I do too.

We decorated a tree! lights, ornaments, jingle and jangle and a gold star on top.
Please look at the picture below closely. 
Do you see what I see?
Luna the cat. 
You know, our "outside cat."
yeah right. 
Look what she has done to me!
She has claimed her spot right under the tree.
Fingers crossed she doesn't tear it down....
And we OFFICIALLY kicked off the Christmas season with our first batch of snowballs. 
(I told you I'd be posting about snowballs again!)
I like to double....triple....quadruple this batch when I make it. 
They freeze well, and are perfect to pull out when you need to put together a quick plate of treats for a friend--just give them a fresh dusting of powdered sugar when you load them up on the plate.

3/4 c butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBS water
1/8tsp salt
1/3 c sugar
1 1/2 c flour
(this time I added a pinch of cinnamon, just for kicks)
1 c chocolate chips
1 c chopped pecans or walnuts (I like pecans)
Powdered sugar, for dusting.

Cream butter, vanilla, water, sugar and salt. Add flour and mix well. Stir in chocolate and nuts.
 Form into 1” balls. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Cool for a few minutes. 
Roll in powdered sugar while still a little bit warm.
Little bites of Christmas.

What Christmasy things did you do this weekend?

blogged 1 year ago: traditions
blogged 2 years ago: candy cane ice cream

Thursday, December 5, 2013

friday senses

a look at our week......

feeling: colllllllllllld. We are below zero at night all week (-18° when I woke up yesterday morning!) We bundle up in layers and layers and have cocoa and tea every chance we get. But it's BEAUTIFUL. The sun has been shining, the sky so blue, the water is steaming, and there are tiny ice crystals covering trees and floating through the air like little diamonds.
It was so cold and sparkly this morning--look at this sun dog!
sharing: Remember a few months ago when I told you about my friend Kassidi? I just found out that the blog Six Sisters' Stuff is helping raise money for Kassidi's family this Christmas. Check out how you can help HERE--all you have to do is upload a recipe and they will donate a dollar! I love love love this idea--I just had to share it. People are so good. 
seeing: I was down in the city a few days ago and on the side of the road in front of me was a beggar with a sign standing out in the freezing cold. The car in front of me rolled down their window and threw the man a coat--it was put on immediately. Along with the coat the man wore the biggest smile. See? People are so good!
remembering: Speaking of cold, all of these sub-zero temperatures have been reminding me so much of growing up in Montana. When I stepped outside this morning and breathed in the ice crystals in the air, I felt my lungs burning and the insides of my nose freezing closed. Yes, my boogers. Frozen. It was oddly the most nostalgic feeling and reminded me of cold mornings waiting for the bus to come. And even more oddly, I liked it. It reminded me of high school when I'd get up early before school and unplug my car (did you know cars can plug in so you can start them when it's freezing?? It's true!!) and my sister and I would drive through the arctic dark to seminary (scripture study.) aaahhhh good times.
running: We'll see if I get a run in this weekend......but last week was soooooo good. We spent the week in Northern California. It was warm and fallish and I just love running down there.
anticipating: Wow! The internet really makes you feel behind when it comes to Christmas and decking the halls.....right? According to the www we are  super duper late, but I am so excited to fill our house with all things Christmas this weekend.
hearing: Christmas music of course! We have been listening to just a little bit of everything. I love the classics and we are all enjoying Sufjan's Christmas album this year--what are your favorite Christmas albums?
loving: here is a quick phone snap of my family on Thanksgiving (yes, 50% of us are shoeless). 
I just love my little family.
sipping: World Famous Cookbook Author Whitney Ingram posted a recipe for coconut hot chocolate on Instagram a few days ago and I just HAD to try it.
Coconut Almond Hot Chocolate 
Whitney used regular milk--so use that if you like, I was out of milk so I swapped it for almond milk. Use sweetened almond milk or unsweetened for a darker chocolate taste. 
1 can coconut milk
3 cups almond milk
8 oz chopped dark chocolate. 

Simmer coconut milk and almond milk on low heat until warm
and then stir in chocolate until melty and warm.
This cocoa is rich and creamy and so chocolaty--you are going to love it.

How was your week?
Happy Weekend!

blogged 1 year ago: trail running 101

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Little Red House Essentials

You guys! I am so excited about this!
I am constantly getting questions about gear/products that we I've compiled a list--just for you!
I'm hesitant to call it a "gift guide" because I feel like those are usually gimmicky and crowded with stuff you don't need. 
Every single item on this list are products that WE use and love--so many of our favorites are on the list.
I've linked them all to Amazon for you so you can get the best deals.

Check out the page HERE
There is a little bit of everything--trail running, outdoor gear, kids stuff, kitchen stuff.......something for everyone.

Check in every now and then for updates!