Thursday, October 28, 2010


We took a trip to Epcot on a beautiful fall day and ate some delicious Octoberfest fare in the German pavilion.

Lillie's favorite song, The Chicken Dance was being played by the band so she was in hog heaven.  The food was heavy but delicious and both girls ate more than their fair share. Prost!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pickles and Cake Logo Choices

We are so lucky to have Paula Grech from Mintygreenhouse and her artistic kids working on our new logo! Here are the design choices and I'm having trouble picking one!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

We went to Epcot yesterday afternoon for a few hours to enjoy the 15th annual Food and Wine Fest. The samples are always two to four bucks and the perfect size for a sharing taste.

Lillie's favorite was the grilled beef skewer with chimichurri and boniato puree from Argentina. I loved the Asopao de Pollo from Puerto Rico - it had a really complex broth with lots of olives and chicken in the mix. Yum!

It was getting late after tasting samples from Chile, Argentina and Puerto Rico so we will go back this weekend. Looks like there is a vanilla and a butter demonstration! Bring on the butter!

Voting is now open! Project Food Blog Challenge #4

We are thrilled to be in Project Food Blog's top 100! Click the link below to vote for our entry into Challenge #4. We whipped up some Vietnamese summer rolls and provided a step by step tutorial.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vietnamese Summer Rolls for Everyone!

Vietnamese summer rolls are a light and healthy, kid-friendly meal that can be enjoyed any time of the year. Fresh and not fried, they are made at the table one at a time. 

The Vietnamese name for these fresh rolls is Goi Cuon which translates literally into "rolled mixed salad." Creating these hand-held salads is an adventure in itself and the girls love to see who can wrap together the perfect roll. 

Vietnamese Summer Rolls (Goi Cuon)

2 raw pork loin chops
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp sesame oil
2 carrots, peeled
2 small cucumbers 
2 cups bean sprouts
1 head butter or Boston bibb lettuce, washed
2 handfulls of fresh mint 
2 handfulls of fresh basil
1 package summer roll wrappers
1 package vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup roughly chopped peanuts
Kosher salt

Rinse and pat dry pork chops.  

Remove fat from pork chops and slice thin.

Heat sesame oil on medium heat in a sauté pan until shimmering. Carefully place pork slices into the pan so they lie flat and aren't touching. Sear 2 minutes on each side. Remove with tongs and place in a small bowl for serving. 

Boil salted water and place shrimp into pot once you have a rolling boil. Cook for 3 minutes and remove. 

Let the shrimp cool and then cut them in half lengthwise. 

Julienne carrots and cucumber into long skinny strips. 

Soak noodles for 5 minutes in hot water. Drain and place in serving bowl with tongs.

Now its time to make the dipping sauce. The traditional Nuoc Cham served at your local Vietnamese noodle house is a little too fishy and funky for the girls so we make a peanut sauce instead. A little Vietnamese fish sauce is added to give it a more complex flavor. 

Peanut Hoisin Dipping Sauce

1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbsp shallot, minced
1/2 tbsp ginger, finely grated
1/2 tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce
1/2 lime, juiced
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp peanut butter

Warm the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and shallot and cook until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. 

Add remaining ingredients, whisk well and simmer for 1 minute. If necessary, add additional water until the mixture has a thick, creamy consistency.

The last step is to roughly chop the peanuts and place in a small serving bowl.

Place every bowl and plate of yummy goodness on the table along with a large bowl of hot water. Not too hot for those little fingers! 

Time to eat! The first step in constructing a summer roll is to soften the wrapper using the bowl of hot water.

This will take a few tries to get it just right - don't worry, you have lots of wrappers in the package! Carefully rotate the wrapper until it is almost soft and place it flat on your plate. If the wrapper starts to stick to itself, just submerge it in the water for a few seconds and try again.

Now it is time to fill up the summer roll. There is no right or wrong order so stack the filling according to your taste buds. I usually put the shrimp and the herbs on the outside so you can see them through the translucent wrapper. Be careful not to overfill or you will need a fork to eat it! 

After the shrimp comes the lettuce!

Hooray for noodles!

Veggies and pork too.

Herbs and sprouts, please.

Finally some peanuts for good luck. 

Now it is time to fold. The trick here is "the tighter the better" although the girls seem to be doing fine with their loosey-goosey approach. 

The first few are always a little rough around the edges but practice makes perfect! In the end, its all about trying new things and having fun. This is a perfect meal for that. 

Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper up and over the filling and tuck it under. Fold the sides in or you can leave them open if you prefer.

Roll up and over one time.

Tuck once more and roll again! There you have it. 

Now you can slice it or just dip the whole thing into the peanut sauce. 

How many can you eat?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Time to Vote! Project Food Blog Challenge #3

Please click the link below to vote for our fun family food blog!

It just takes a few seconds!

We are hoping to crack the top 100 with our latest Golden Dinner Party post.

Thanks to and their Project Food Blog contest for pushing us in the right direction. We are having so much fun!

Lobsters on the Grill

Even a quick trip to Maine must have a lobster in it! We picked up some bugs right off the boat and fired up the grill. I cut them in half straight down the middle and brushed them with some clarified butter filled with herbs, shallot, lemon and garlic. 8 minutes on the flesh side and 2 on the shell. The tails were so tender and full of flavor and the claws were fantastic as well! We served them up with roasted fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus and corn for good measure. Thanks to Jason and Anna for a great visit!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Golden Delicious Dinner Party

Grab your party dress! It's time to celebrate with a fancy dinner party! Gold is the elemental theme that flows through this precious meal and binds it together. From golden local honey and golden beets to sunny-yellow lemons, every taste of this meal was bright and bold.

We invited our friends Ian and Isabella over. Known to be picky eaters, I asked their super-cool mom, Maria what they liked to eat. Popcorn shrimp, olives, feta cheese, pasta, tomatoes, honey, apples and lemons all came up in the conversation. We can work with that! 

Me: What is gold?
Lillie: I know that! Its really bright yellow with lots of different colors mixed in!

I decided to take these familiar ingredients and combine them out of context in a kid-friendly way. Hopefully, our guests will take a leap of faith and try something new. Getting them involved in the preparation and turning this dinner party into a culinary adventure will be the golden ticket to success.

Lillie and Sadie helped me put together the menu and pick up the ingredients. One of their favorite veggies is the golden beet so it was the first to be added and the rest fell into place. Here is our menu for this Golden Feast:


Golden delicious apple and ginger spritzer

First course:

Golden beet, beefsteak tomato and honey-goat cheese mousse stacked salad drizzled with a lemon-herb vinaigrette

Second course:

Golden-seared shrimp, Kalamata olives and feta cheese
tossed with bucatini in a lemon garlic broth

Third course:

Golden honey and rose petal ice cream with toasted pistachio bits

Lets get cookin'! The key to a successful and stress free dinner party is preparation!

We whipped up the vinaigrette and Sadie picked the rose petals for the ice cream the day before.

We roasted the beets the next morning and toasted the pistachios. Everything that could be done before the guests arrived was out of the way so we could enjoy the company.

Ian was the first to be put to work and was in charge of juicing the golden delicious apples for our aperitif. The sweet and tart flavor of the apples melded perfectly with the subtle spiciness of the fizzy ginger soda. 

I explained that an aperitif is a drink served before a meal to wake up their taste buds - that was a fun conversation! The kids loved the drink and were excited for the next course. 

Golden delicious apple and ginger spritzer

3 golden delicious apples, juiced
ginger ale

Pour one part pressed apple juice to two parts ginger ale over crushed ice in a tall glass. Stir gently with skinny spoon and serve.

With our appetite properly stimulated, it was time to create the first course. Our guests had never tried beets before so this would be a true test! Everyone enjoyed assembling the stacked salad and Isabella fell in love with the sweet beets and the tart and tangy dressing. Success!

Golden beet, beefsteak tomato and honey-goat cheese mousse stacked salad drizzled with a lemon-herb vinaigrette

4 medium golden beets
3 medium beefsteak tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
pinch salt
pinch pepper
honey-goat cheese mousse (recipe below)
lemon-herb vinaigrette (recipe below)

Toss beets in olive oil with the salt and pepper. Wrap with aluminum foil and roast in 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Let cool and peel skin off of beets. Try not to eat one!

Slice tomatoes and beets in 1/3 of an inch slices. Place first tomato slice flat in the center of a small plate. Pipe a small amount of goat cheese mousse on top, cover with a slice of golden beet and gently press down. Add mousse to top of beet and repeat until there are two tomato slices and two beet slices. Drizzle a very small amount of the lemon-herb vinaigrette over the top beet and in a circle around the rest of the plate.

Honey-Goat Cheese Mousse

2 oz. goat cheese
½ cup whipped cream cheese
3 tbsp. Sour cream
1 tbsp local honey
¼ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp onion powder
pinch of pepper
splash of cream

Fold all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and hand whisk for 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer mousse from the bowl into a large zip top bag and seal. Store in the fridge. Clip bottom corner of bag and squeeze to pipe out when ready to construct the salad.

Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
¼ cup local honey
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp Kosher salt
2 tsp loose basil
2 tsp loose thyme

Combine all ingredients in a counter top blender and blend on high for 2 minutes until completely emulsified.

Time for the main course. The kids helped crumble the feta, test the bucatini, squeeze the lemons and combine the ingredients. The flow from kitchen back to the table each course was an enthusiastic parade.

Golden-seared shrimp, Kalamata olives and feta cheese
tossed with bucatini in a lemon garlic broth

½ lb bucatini pasta
1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped into thirds
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
½ tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced into thirds
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 large golden tomato, seeded and cubed
5 cups chicken stock
3 garlic cloves, pressed
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
lemon zest

shrimp wave!

Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat butter until shimmering in a non-stick pan and saute on medium-high heat for just a few minutes until the shrimp turns golden on the edges. Keep them moving so they sear but don't burn. Do not overcook. Transfer to a bowl.

Boil salted water in a large pot over high heat and cook bucatini one minute less than the instructions on the package. Strain but do not rinse. Set aside.

In a large skillet or saute pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil until shimmering on medium heat. Saute pressed garlic for 60 seconds. Add chicken stock to deglaze and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add tomato, olives, herbs and pasta and stir or use tongs to combine. Fold in feta and lemon juice. The feta will thicken the broth so it sticks to the pasta! 

Transfer portions to a large plate and then microplane a tiny amount of lemon zest over the top of each serving.

The adventurous eaters devoured the entire plate!

Slurping noodles is allowed even at a fancy dinner party!

Ian attacked the longest noodle ever!

Even though our bellies were full of new flavors, there was somehow room for ice cream. 

Golden honey and rose petal ice cream with toasted pistachio bits

2 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup turbinado sugar
1 cup loose rose petals
pinch of salt
¼ tsp saffron
½ cup toasted, chopped salted pistachio kernels

Rough chop pistachios and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees to bring out the crunch. Remove from sheet and let them cool on a plate in a quiet corner of the kitchen.

heaven in a blender

Whisk eggs for 2 minutes or until fluffy. Combine cream, milk, sugar, salt, rose petals and saffron in a blender and mix together on medium-high for 1 minute. Add eggs to blender and mix again for 1 minute. Transfer to a storage container and chill for an hour.

Add mixture to your ice cream maker and mix until firm. 

Scoop two generous scoops into a small bowl or cup and top with toasted pistachios.

Even though the flavors were unusual and exotic, everyone devoured the ice cream. The evening ended with a dance party in the living room. 

Fancy dinner party's aren't just for adults! They are the perfect reason to try new flavors and share some good times with friends both young and old!