Saturday, October 30, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking: Stuffed Radishes

I pick up my next week's share tomorrow and I still have two leftovers from last week, radishes and turnips. Sure, the radishes could have gone into a salad, but I'm on the hunt for some different kinds of of recipes here, things you wouldn't normally think to do with radishes. So I headed to my friend Google and came up with this little tasty appetizer that is simple, yet elegant. These stuffed radishes are crisp, smooth, with a touch of salt. I piped a couple of them so you could see how pretty they *could* be. To be honest, I simply spooned in the rest after I did these too. It's a lazy Saturday afternoon, I didn't have a lot in me, just enough to pour myself a glass of Trimbach Pinot Gris and get down to work.

Stuffed Radishes
Source: Epicurious
Makes 36 appetizers

1 pound (about 18) radishes, greens removed, halved crosswise
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and minced
1 tablespoon drained bottled capers, chopped fine
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves plus small sprigs for garnish

Trim the narrow end of each halved radish so that the half will stand upright. Hollow out a 3/4 of an inch cavity in the middle of each half with a melon ball cutter or small sharp edged spoon. When finished with each, drop in bowl filled with ice water.

In another bowl, cream the cream cheese, stir in the olives, the capers, the minced parsley, and salt and pepper to taste (I find you don't need salt at all in this). Transfer the radishes to paper towels, hallow sides down, and let them drain for 5 minutes. After they've drained, pipe the cream mixture into the radish halves, garnish with sprig of parsley and you're done! They can be stuffed 90 minutes in advance and then kept chilled until serving. Pin It

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking: Kohlrabi and Apple Salad and a Fall Food Fest

I should have taken a photo of said kohlrabi before I diced it up. However, if you wander farmers' markets and farm stands you probably know what it is. It's a bulbous purple thing with 4 stalks reaching for the sky out of it. It looks like an alien, no joke, an alien. It's taste is a little like broccoli, and one found its way into my Winter CSA share this week.

There are a lot of salads out there containing kohlrabi, a lot of stir-frys, and you can saute them as well. I wanted something a little bit different, maybe even sweeter so even the most discerning eater may not be able to pick the strange little veggie out of the dish. Part of my goal here on Lighter and Local is to make local eating easier, or "lighter" if you will. This recipe came from "Raising Maine" and it calls to shred or grate all this stuff, but frankly I'm lazy and decided to dice or slice everything instead. If you have kids, the subtle sweetness (but still reasonably healthy) of this dish will allow you to work something in they may not normally try.

Kohlrabi-Apple Coleslaw
Source: Raising Maine
Serves: 3-4

1 pound kohlrabi, peeled, trimmed, and grated (I simply sliced thinly)
2 apples, peeled and grated (again, I sliced)
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon mustard
1/2 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
fresh mint, chopped in ribbons (I did not use, and it was still yummy!)

Peel and trim kohlrabi, grate or slice and set aside. Peel and grate (or slice) two apples, trying to keep equal amounts of apple and kohlrabi. Whisk cream into light pillows (about a minute or two). Add lemon juice, mustard, sugar and salt and pepper to the cream mixture. Combine apples, kohlrabi, and mint and mix in cream mixture. Serve immediately.

Fall Food Fest

I was lucky enough to take part in a bloggers' Fall Food Fest hosted by the lovely Amy of Poor Girl Gourmet and Jennifer of Savoring the Thyme. Held in Amy's gorgeous little barn, several local food bloggers and food enthusiasts came together to chat networking, book deals, sponsorship, and of course, food.

I love meeting new local foodies. It seriously warms my heart to find such amazingly talented like-minded people and get to actually interact with them. Every time I attend some kind of blogging or food event I learn an amazing amount. 

I also get to eat super well in the process. I mean just look at those salads at the left. I can't remember everything I gorged myself on but Amy did an awesome job in her post on Fall Food Fest, so I'll direct you there for more information.

It was a simple pleasure to spend an afternoon chatting and trading ideas with all of these wonderful bloggers and foodies:

Michael and Ann from Books on the Nightstand (his caramel apple pie is to your right!)
Jackie of The Leather District Gourmet
David from David Dadekian Photography
Nora of Good Food Girl
Jen of Jen's Dish
Jayne of Barefoot Kitchen Witch
Jexsy of Jexsy's Food
Lauren of Run Lift Chant Breathe
and of course Amy from Poor Girl Gourmet
and Jennifer from Savoring the Thyme

I also have to give a shout to some great (and local) companies who allowed us to try some great products and go home with some as well (through raffles or gift bags). Thank you to (who I was lucky enough to win a gift certificate to purchase some awesome products), Olivia's Organics (who kept me in salad this week), Food Should Taste Good (I'm obsessed with their chocolate chips), Andrews McMeel who let us all go home with a copy of Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook (very cool), OXO Good Grips (who donated the awesome goodie basket that Jexsy won and got to go home with!), and the Sugarush Truck out of Providence, RI who sent along some amazing cupcakes (see left).

Thank you all - it was wonderful to meet you all! Reader, please check out the creative and yummy work of the bloggers above, you won't be disappointed!

I've been tagged!

Jason of Ancient Fire Wine Blog has tagged me. The way this works is that you get tagged and have to answer eight questions from the person who tagged you. In addition you have to tag eight others and pose eight new questions to them. Here I go with the eight questions Jason gave me to answer!

1. Desert island dish. You are on a desert island, what dish will you take to survive?
- Only one? My dear, what a choice! I would have to say my tourtiere (Quebec Savory Meat Pie) because it has protein, fat, and veggies to keep me going and I love it so very much. It was an honor for my husband's family to share their recipe with me, now that's love!

2. What kitchen utensil explains your food personality the best?
- I would have to go with a ricer. Why? It's because I'm always trying to make things go a little smoother in the kitchen, much like a ricer. Ricers are convenient, you don't have to peel a potato to create mashed potatoes with it, it makes things easier. I'm always trying to make local food easier in the kitchen

3. When you were younger, you pick how long ago, how hard would you have laughed if someone told you this is what you would be doing right now?

4. What is the nastiest, grossest, most detestable food you have ever had?
- This is a hard one. I make a rule of trying anything once, but if I don't like it, I'll move on from it. The one that makes me cringe the most is a so-called hamburger I had on a road stop in Iceland. The meat was beyond gamey (not the good kind of gamey) and made me wonder if they added their famous Icelandic Foul to the mix (which I swore I wouldn't eat in Iceland, that and the puffins).

5. What is your favorite food you don’t make and how far would you travel for it?
- Poutine. I've never gotten the ratio right at home so I kind of have given up on it. I will travel the 4.5 hours to Montreal to get, and have. There's nothing like eating true-to-form poutine in the winter with a good Quebec brew. Oh yum. (hitting the road now)

6. Who is the best person to have in the kitchen with you, and why?
My husband. He always cleans up after me. He'll help wherever needed and most importantly, he keeps my wine glass full.

7.  First alcoholic beverage you ever had.
Wine - sips of the family's red table wine.

8. What is your biggest food blog challenge and how are you working to overcome it?
Time and Design. Sorry, I had to pick two. It's hard to find the time with working full-time to dedicate my time to blogging as often as I can as well. I have a hard time with the design of the site too. I'm no graphic or html wizard so I'm always learning, always working. 

I'm tagging all my Fall Food Fest bloggers I mentioned earlier in this post for the next round of this!

My Tag Questions:

1. Hardest dish you've ever attempted to make?
2. Country where you'll find your favorite cuisine and why?
3. Any kind of food you just will not make or have given up on?
4. Worst food fail in the kitchen?
5. Why do you blog?
6. Your favorite thing about the food blogging community?
7. Most hated alcoholic beverage?
8. Average time in a week you spend blogging and why? Pin It

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking: Corn, Leeks, and Potatoes Two Ways

I have lots of corn, leeks and potatoes in my kitchen right now. A ton of corn and potatoes from my Winter CSA at Heron Pond Farm. The leeks I picked up from Arrowhead Farm at the Newburyport Farmers' Market. I knew I wanted some kind of corn chowder, but I wanted to do something a little different with the rest of my loot.

This blog post is part of Pretty Mommy's Fall Recipe Exchange. It's bloggers, getting together, to help each other plan some meals to get us through Autumn. It's full of great ideas, please check it out. I'm proud to help out with a couple of recipes that I'm calling Corn, Leeks, and Potatoes Two Ways. It's a simple corn chowder and a potato cake that I employed my oven to more healthily "fry" them.

Corn, Leek, and Potato Chowder
Serves 6

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika (with more to taste if you'd like)
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 1/2 cups corn
1 1/2 cups 1 or 2% milk
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup half and half
2 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth

In large dutch oven, over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once this is melted, add leeks and red pepper, and cook about 4 minutes or so. Season the mixture with mustard, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Add corn to mixture.

In a measuring cup, whisk together milk and flour. Slowly add to the corn, leek/pepper mixture in the dutch oven, stirring the entire time. Add half and half and chicken broth. Finally, add the potatoes into the mixture. Bring up to a boil, then bring down to a simmer. Add last tablespoon of butter and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add a little more salt and pepper at the end to your taste. I added a pinch more salt.

Corn, Leek and Potato Cakes
Serves 3-4

4 small to medium potatoes, peeled
3/4 cup of leeks, chopped
1 cup of corn
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil

Take a baking sheet, and place on the top rack of your oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with the baking sheet inside. 

Shred potatoes using a food processor with shredding attachment or box grater, whatever you have. Put shredded potatoes in a clean kitchen towel, squeeze all the excess moisture out and allow to dry. Combine potatoes in a large bowl with leeks, corn, and cheddar. Salt and pepper to taste. Add egg to the mixture coating everything in the bowl.

Once baking sheet is preheated, take out of oven, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pain, swirling it around to coat. Create little cakes out of the potato mixture (they will not be very sticky) and place on baking sheet.

Bake for 7 minutes, flip cakes over, and bake for another 6-7 until golden. Take the cakes out of the oven, and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to take off any excess oil.

Serve over greens with a dollop of sour cream if you'd like! Pin It

Monday, October 25, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking: Penne with Acorn Squash, Arugula and Feta

It's easy to eat locally in the summer. Farmers' markets are open all over, farm stands are bursting with every kind of produce you can imagine. Soon, the leaves start to change and the selection, it gets smaller at your local market. The stand at your local farm, it may shutter for the season. Sure, there are winter markets but they may not be close by. Let's be honest. We're busy people, many of who between a full-time job, kids, and just trying to get dinner on the table, don't have time to drive 20 minutes to the closest winter market. I pondered this, because while my farmers' market doesn't run year-round, I still wanted to continue on the path of eating locally.

The answer, in my case, was the Winter CSA of my local farm, Heron Pond Farm in South Hampton, NH. I knew they offered one, but I also knew my husband and I wouldn't be able to cook through a full share every week, so my mom offered to pitch in for half. If you're new to the concept of CSAs, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In other words, you pay some up from as an investment in your local farmer and every week he or she will send you a list of all the yummy fruits and veggies you're getting that week as part of your share. Our share runs from now until late March, even possibly the beginning of April. Wondering what you'll get? Here's our list from this week:

2 Tomatoes
12 ears sweet corn
3 peppers
2 lbs potatoes
2 winter squash
4 onions
2 shallots
1 garlic
6 apples
1 bunch carrots
1 kohlrabi
1 bunch kale
1 bunch hakurei salad turnips
1 bunch radishes
1 choice from: arugula, Pink Lady mustard or Osaka Purple Mustard

My mom and I split that up and we run with it. So I introduce you to a new adventure on Lighter and Local this season, Winter CSA Cooking. I hope you'll join me on my journey of a busy girl who's attempting to cook through all I might get this winter. It's a chance for all of us to learn how to eat locally and in season throughout the tougher fall, winter, and early spring months. I hope you enjoy it!

On a side note - today is also World Pasta Day. It's a celebration of the healthy side of pasta and all the yummy benefits it provides. You want more info? Click on the little logo at the right in my information bar. This recipe is my offering for World Pasta Day, using ingredients from my Winter CSA. It's fast, easy, and healthy! Enjoy!

Penne with Acorn Squash, Arugula and Feta 

Adapted from: RhodeyGirlTests
Serves 4

1 acorn squash (really you could use any winter squash)
2 cups fresh arugula
2 oz feta cheese
1/2 lb pasta
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds and stringy portions. Sprinkle with sea salt. Place halves, flat side down, into a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Roast squash for about 30-35 minutes until fork tender. 

When the squash has about 10 minutes left to roast, cook pasta according to directions. Remove from stove when pasta is al dente, drain and set aside in a large bowl.

When squash is done roasting, carefully take halves, carefully scoop out the insides into another bowl. If you'd like to serve the pasta in the leftover squash halves, simply put them aside for use. Now add feta to the cooked squash, and finally fold in the arugula. Add pasta and toss.

Serve in squash halves or any old bowl you might have around. I promise, this one's very addicting. 
Pin It

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oreo-Cocoa Krispies Treats

This post is neither light nor local. However, I think you all deserve a snapshot of things that go on in my kitchen that don't fit into those categories. I've said it before, about 75% of my weekly groceries come from local farms (meat and produce), shops and artisans. I really do try to keep most of our shopping local. Every week I find myself at the regular grocery store for certain staples. Organic (and from New England) milk is cheaper there, as are the Cabot cheeses and dairy products I fill my fridge with. Plenty of other things fill my cart when there - chips, taco shells, the errant frozen pizza, avocados, popcorn, candy, and yes, even soda.

We're not perfect in this household. We try to eat as much local and organic as we can. I buy local bread to avoid HFCS when possible, but I do love me a run-of-the mill ginger ale or cola once in a while. I like baby steps and moderation as a mean to an end. No, I don't like HFCS, but if it finds its way into my home here and there, that's life. Small steps to a larger life of healthier, local living with a goal of better food; it's not overwhelming.

Why am I telling you this? Somehow Oreo cookies and Cocoa Krispies made it into the cart this week. They only find their way magically into my cart if I'm craving this recipe. I found it on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. She's an evil, but lovely temptress with her blog. Actually, her blog, was one of the first I ever read. If you have a sweet tooth and have never checked out her work, you must run, not walk to that site. There are no adaptations for this recipe, because frankly, Peabody's work is awesome just the way it is.

Oreo-Cocoa Krispies Treats
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 ounces mini marshmallows (use fresh ones)
4 cups Cocoa Krispies Cereal
3 cups crushed Oreo cookies

Butter a 9x13 baking pan and put it aside.

Melt three tablespoons butter in a large pot. Add marshmallows, and melt over low heat until it resembles marshmallow cream with few lumps. Remove from heat.

Add Cocoa Krispies and Oreos and stir until both are well coated.

Pour into prepared baking pan. Using a spatula that was either coated in cooking spray or run under cold water for a moment, press mixture into pan. Cover with foil and set aside for a couple of hours to set.

Cut a piece of wax paper larger than your baking pan, flip pan onto sheet, wriggling the bars out. Cut to whatever size you'd like and enjoy! Pin It

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Brandy Buttercream

This is one that's been rambling around in my brain for a good few weeks; and I mean "driving in the car, creating ingredients in my head" kind of rambling.

Pumpkin meet cupcake form. Ever since I spied even one touch of red in the treetops this fall, this autumn flavor has been coming together in my brain. You see, fall in New England comes and goes in the blink of an eye. For the few weeks it's actually with us, I actually feel a strange sense of calm as the air gets crisper and the trees erupt in this mad dash of color before shedding their clothes for winter.

Pumpkin, maple, apple cider all show up and there's a few weeks where I barely eat anything else. I had fresh, roasted pumpkin leftover from Canadian Thanksgiving and I knew this recipe is for which it was destined.

Pumpkin cupcakes of any variety are very tricky. The pumpkin can weigh the cupcake down, making it more like a muffin, than cake-like. Most recipes I came across seemed to be much closer to a muffin than a cupcake. I elected my go-to yellow cupcake recipe would instead be a good fit to modify for this, because my favorite white cupcake recipe, well, it wouldn't be able to hold the pumpkin weight. It uses cake flour instead of all-purpose, the process itself is much more cake like than muffin-like. I still just feared if it could handle the weight of the pumpkin. It did, with flying colors. I also subbed a little of the white sugar for some dark brown to give it a more "pumpkin pie" feeling.

You usually see a pumpkin cupcake with some kind of cream cheese frosting to accompany it. I love me some cream cheese frosting, but I wanted something smoother to go with this. I already had the maple taste in mind for it, but after tasting the brandied whipped cream that went along with the pumpkin pie this past week, well, I knew brandy had to be part of this excursion as well.

I hope you enjoy, my co-workers certainly did. As a side note - if you want more of a "spice" flavor to the cupcake, this recipe can certainly handle a bit more of the cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger if that's what you're looking for. It can also be easily doubled since this recipe only makes a dozen. The base recipes that I adapted for this creations are: Classic Yellow Cupcakes from and the Vanilla Buttercream from Beantown Baker.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Brandy Buttercream
Makes: 12 cupcakes

1.5 cups cake flour (6 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I always use table salt in baking)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 + 1/8 cups buttermilk
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups Confectioners' sugar (5 ounces)
a little less than 1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons maple syrup (I used Vermont Fancy, really light, if you use Grade A, you might want to cut back by 1/2 a teaspoon and add to taste)
1.5 tablespoons brandy

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat to 325 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl and set aside.

Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in white sugar until combined, then slowly whisk in brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the buttermilk.

Sift one-third of flour mixture over the batter and whisk it in until a few streaks of flour remain. Repeat twice with remaining flour mixture. Add pumpkin, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon and whisk until most lumps are gone. Do not over mix.

Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds of the way full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. You'll be baking them about 18 minutes, remember to rotate the pan halfway through baking so it all bakes evenly.

Allow to cool on a wire rack, in cupcake pan for 5 minutes. Pop cupcakes out of pan and allow to cool on wire rack completely before frosting.

For the frosting - in a standing mixer with whisk or paddle attachment (original recipe calls for whisk, but I've never had an issue just using the paddle) beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.

Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is combined, about 15 seconds.

Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Add maple syrup and brandy,  then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Frost the cupcakes and enjoy! Pin It

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fresh Pumpkin Pie and Canadian Thanksgiving

It's not my best effort for a photo, but to my credit, I had a mob of hungry Thanksgiving guests at our house. Time for taking photos was certainly limited. This was my first pumpkin pie made from actual real pumpkin. I've read a hundred articles saying that canned pumpkin simply works better for pie. Don't believe the hype. This, by far, was the best pumpkin pie I've ever made.

If you have any questions about how to prepare the pumpkin, see my post on Pumpkin Risotto. After you've scooped the flesh out, puree it in a food processor until smooth in order to make the pie (or any other baked good).

Fresh Pumpkin Pie with Brandied Whipped Cream

Source and adapted from: Cooks Illustrated
They say this makes one pie, I had enough filling for two

1 prebaked Pie Shell (whatever recipe you use for this, just give a prebake beforehand)

2 cups (16 ounces) fresh pumpkin
1 cup (7 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup milk (use whole)
4 large eggs

Brandied Whipped Cream
1 1/3 cups chilled heavy cream
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brandy

First prebake your pie shell according to your own directions (basically until a touch golden).

In a food processor, process pumpkin, dark brown sugar, spices, and salt about 1 minute until combined. Transfer pumpkin mixture to a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a sputtering simmer over medium-high heat. Cook pumpkin until shiny, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.

As soon as the pie shell comes out of the oven, adjust oven temp to 400 degrees. Whisk the heavy cream and milk into the pumpkin mixture, and bring to a bare simmer. Process the eggs in the food processor until yolks and whites are just combined. With the motor running, pour half of the pumpkin mixture back into the processor through the feed tube. Stop and add the remaining pumpkin. Process 30 seconds until combined.

Immediately pour the warm filling into the hot pie shell. You can ladle any excess or a bit more into the shell after the filling has settled in the oven after about 5 minutes of baking. Bake the pie about 25 minutes or until the center wiggles like jello a bit when shaken.

Allow to cool at least an hour before serving.

For the whipped cream, take a chilled bowl, add the heavy cream and sugar and beat with an electric mixture until soft peaks form. Add the brandy and then beat until stiff peaks form. Serve on top of yummy pumpkin pie and be happy!!

Canadian Thanksgiving

Now all of this hard work was for Canadian Thanksgiving. My husband is Canadian and ever since I dragged him here to the States, we've celebrated the Canadian version of the holiday. The premise is the same, the food is the same (though like the U.S., every region has their own take on it), but the timing is different. Canadian Thanksgiving takes place on the U.S.'s Columbus Day Weekend every year. So, every year, we fill our table with family and friends and have an amazing meal all together with plenty of laughs... and plenty of wine!

My mother and I have a deal now. She makes the turkey and stuffing (because it's awesome), and I make all the sides. On the menu this year: Turkey, Stuffing, Corn Casserole, Squash and Apple Bake, Mashed Potatos, Apple Crisp, Pumpkin Pie and birthday cake for my mother-in-law who we were lucky enough to have visit from Denver for the occasion.

The one great thing about the timing of Canadian Thanksgiving over our U.S. version is that the harvest is still in full swing in mid-October. I was able to get almost everything I needed from the Newburyport Farmers' Market for the feast. I picked up butternut Squash, corn and potatoes from Heron Pond Farm; the sugar pumpkins from the pie came from Farmer Dave's in Dracut; and the apples came from Applecrest Farm Orchard. The other great thing? The meal was made with mostly all local ingredients and all those veggies cost me less than $15. How great is that?

This is a wonderful tradition that I absolutely love doing every single year. I'm happy to celebrate Thanksgiving twice. I have a whole lot for which to give thanks. It's nice being able to continue my husband's traditions here, although he's far from home. All in all, it was tasty, the wine went down easy and the company, well... they're simply amazing. Happy Thanksgiving!

Pin It

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Meet the "Economical Eater" : a fresh, local, fancy dinner party for $15

Meet Michelle Collins, she's the Economical Eater. She's lucky enough to be traversing her way across Italy right now, so she asked for other food bloggers in New England to fill in while she's having so much fun in Europe. Her blog focuses on great deals, both cooking at home, and at dining and food establishments across New England. Check her out!

Now that yummy looking dish above? That's Pear Calfouti, and if you travel over to Michelle's blog you can find out how to make it as part of my fresh, local, fancy dinner party. It consists of Pear and Carrot Shaved Salad with Maple Vinaigrette, Pumpkin Risotto and the Pear Calfouti. Like the idea of such a thing? Let me know over here so I can whip up another for Lighter and Local. I have a few ideas swirling around my brain right now for more cheap, yet elegant local meals.

Lighter and Local will be back more often with a vengeance this week. I've been quite ill and busier at the day job than I have been in a while, but I plan on being quite busy in the kitchen this week. Up first, a massive trip to the Newburyport Farmers' Market to get everything I need for Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday (the husband is Canadian, and why not have Thanksgiving twice, right?).  Enjoy your weekend! Pin It

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Foodbuzz 24x24: Curly Kids Cupcake Party

"You cannot change the world by saving one animal, but for that one animal, you can change the world."

Usually when you come to Lighter and Local, the first thing you see is a tantalizing photo of the latest creation to come out of my kitchen. We'll get to that, I promise. However today, nothing embraces the meaning of what I did this Saturday than the photograph above. Very simple, a little girl, and not a puppy, but a distinguished gentleman pug.

Combining both - kids and pugs is a true honor for me. I volunteer for Curly Tail Pug Rescue, a rescue that spans from New England to New York/New Jersey, helping homeless pugs. It was my work with this truly amazing organization that gave me the inspiration to submit a proposal to Foodbuzz for their October 24x24 event. The theme was kids, food, and charity. The idea is simple. On the same day, in this case, Saturday October 2nd - 24 food bloggers across the country would create an event to celebrate kids and food and shine a spotlight on some special causes. In this case, Foodbuzz teamed up with Frigidaire to benefit "Save the Children", while I focused on Curly Tail's Curly Kids program. The Curly Kids program is comprised of children who set out to help our foster pugs and the organization in general. They help educated other kids about how important it is to help homeless animals. This cupcake party was a chance to thank a very special "Curly Kid", Ellie, and her friends who are always taking part in all her ideas to help our lovable little "curly tails". I'm honored to be part of such an amazing organization who truly is committed to educating the next generation how important rescue truly is. Now, I promised you food, right? 

 It's time for CUPCAKES! Six little girls, five pugs in attendance on a beautiful fall afternoon in New England. The setting is the beautiful home of one our foster moms, who kindly opens her home and family up to take care of our pugs in need until they find their forever homes. 

The idea was to create little cupcakes that looked like our favorite little furry creatures, the pugs. The idea came from a cupcake book called "Hello Cupcake!". The ears are Tootsie Rolls, the tongues are Starburst, the eyes are brown M&M's, while the nose is a chocolate pudding Jelly Belly. Let me tell you - flattening and shaping all the Tootsie Rolls and Starbursts is no easy task, but they make the cupcakes absolutely adorable.

 The menu isn't fancy, these are kids who just want to have fun! I don't skimp on good cupcakes though:

Black Pug Cupcakes, also known as Devil's Food Cupcakes from the fabulous David Liebovitz with 
Chocolate Fudge Frosting from the 

Fawn Pug Cupcakes, also known as Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting from; 

and finally in honor our senior pugs:
Snow White Senior Pug Cupcakes, also known as White Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting from the wonderful Beantown Baker. 

 I armed all my fabulous little guests with their "palettes" of fun.  If you have kids and want to do something similar I highly recommend going this route. Find cheap little plastic paint palettes, and fill each little spot with spinkles, candy, whatever you're decorating your cupcakes with. This way, each little person has their own little space to create their cupcakes and you don't have a ton of reaching across the table for every little decorating ingredient (and raising the chances of stuff spilling all over the place!). Don't forget little bakery boxes as well. The girls loved having professional little boxes to bring their creations home in!

  With pugs are our feet, we all set out to create some beautiful and tasty cupcakes!

In the end, these little girls got oh-so-more creative than I did. Pink puggy hair, blue sparkle eyeballs took over the cupcakes. We got to sit around, decorate and talk about pugs and why we loved them. The general consensus among the girls was, "we just love them!"

Ellie, our most well-known of the Curly Kids of the bunch, has already held lemonade stands to raise money for Curly Tail. She also, along with all the other kids in the program, makes Curly Cards. They're our thank you when someone donates to the rescue or adopts from us. Today, Ellie and her friend Lauren made an awesome pug pillow, and Lauren made an "I love Pugs T-Shirt"!
Seriously, their craft creativity knows no bounds!

When the cupcakes were finished, it was all about some snuggle time with the pugs. The little dogs all waited patiently at our feet as we frosted, and sparkled and sprinkled. Afterwards, there was a whole lot of pets to go around.

The girls learned a whole lot about the process of rescuing animals, and how important it is to support local rescues. That's what this blog is all about - great food, but supporting your community, that includes the furry community as well! They learned a lot, I think I learned more just by spending a few hours with them!

Thank you all!

All the girls, and Curly Co-Found Kristin Balch and Curly Foster Mom (and Ellie's Mom!) Andrea Tobin!

If you would like more information on how to help Curly Tail Pug Rescue in their efforts to give homeless pugs a brand new and happy life - Please go to CurlyTailPugRescue. org

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Monday, October 4, 2010

The Boston Local Food Fest

Does it get any more perfect during Fall in New England than this? The Boston Local Food Festival took over the Four Point Channel on Saturday to bring you the best of local food. People responded, in droves in fact. The place was hopping and it was packed. I consider it a sport to dodge strollers winding paths through crowds, and actually I consider it a huge success for the festival folks that I had to dodge so many people!

Farms, artisans, restaurants, community groups - they all did a fabulous job of really getting people not familiar with the local food scene, to think more about it. I've often said, local food is just happy. There were no happier (and fuller) people in Boston than the ones at the festival this Saturday.

Sadly my time was limited there on Saturday afternoon, but I got a chance to sample some mouth-watering Pork Sliders with apple cider at Salem's 62 Restaurant booth and FINALLY got to try out some of the pasta from the ladies over at Nella Pasta . I consistently see raves for their products on all the blogs I read, it was nice to finally give them a try. And yes, their pasta is fabulous.

Last but certainly not least are my friends over at Local in Season. I'm so very lucky to have been given an opportunity by Co-Founder Jon Ross-Wiley to do some work for this amazing website and have some of my recipes posted over there. Their concept of buying locally is much like mine - better food is the reason. It was fabulous to finally meet Jon and Local in Season writer,  Lara, of Good Cook Doris fame. Their booth was always hopping - hopefully it translates to a lot more people following the concept of eating locally, AND in season.

The Boston Local Food Fest was definitely well-done and a success. From the crowds, to the scores of volunteers making sure everything went well, right down to everyone recycling what was left behind. I was truly impressed and I hope to see another event from this group very soon!

Leftover Bits

It's been a busy week in Lighter and Local land. I still have my fabulous canning class to tell you about, my Curly Tail Pug Rescue cupcake party, and I just got to taste the bread that's coming along with my Winter CSA share at Heron Pond Farm. Amazingly that winter share starts up in two weeks! I'm irrationally excited for it. It's all coming your way, I promise! Pin It