Baker’s Dozen

For those of you new to this blog, our mission is to cook recipes from different countries around the world. We try to stick to traditional recipes or popular recipes for the most part. It’s been a great way for us to try new foods and learn about different cultures. My favorite part about our journey is that the kids are fully involved. They pick the countries, cook with us and of course provide their “spoon ratings” to the dish. It’s been a great experience for all four of us and we’ve learned so much – especially the kids, but us grown-ups too.

But, as you may have noticed, things get a little off-focus in the summer – and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We have birthdays, anniversaries and vacations all of which we celebrate to the fullest. It’s a little taste of our family’s culture and traditions if you will. So this week, I’m putting our vacation post and French recipes on hold because Mike is whisking me away for the weekend. This week we celebrated 13 wonderful years together – a full baker’s dozen. 13 years

Not to worry though, I won’t leave you without a bit of deliciousness. We were fortunate enough to find fresh morels at the farmer’s market this week. Instantly we knew what we were going to make for our anniversary dinner. morels

A morel risotto. We love our risottos and we especially love an earthy, savory risotto. This recipe did not disappoint. fresh morel risotto

It had that umami type flavor – at least for us. The morels are similar to a truffle. They are earthy, meaty, mushroom-y, but slightly sweeter than truffles. risotto

It was just the flavors we were hoping for and made for a fabulous anniversary dinner. morel and shiitake risotto

Needless to say, it was four spoons for both Mike and I. We cooked and served this one after the kids went to bed. :) So, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some fresh morels, take advantage. They certainly live up to the hype and deliver an amazing flavor. fresh morels risotto dinner

Print this recipe: Morel Risotto

But if morels and mushrooms or risottos aren’t your thing, since Mike and I are off to Michigan I thought I’d share a few delicious recipes from the Great Lakes State. Enjoy and see you next week for our regular programming (or regular summer programming anyway).

Cherry Apricot Crisp

Cherry Apricot Crisp

Peach Blueberry Crisp

Peach Blueberry Crisp

Salmon over Spinach with Cherry Sauce

Salmon over Spinach with Cherry Sauce

Cherry Cheesecake

Cherry Cheesecake

Low and Slow with a French Twist

Hi everyone! The road warriors have returned. We had a fabulous road trip across more than 1,500 miles. We began with a “five on the clock” as Mr. N would say. Which means we were up and getting ready with a “four on the clock.” Or getting up in the middle of the night as Miss A declared. mini road warriors

The day before and the first day of road trips are my favorite. The packing, the anticipation, the waking up bright and early (the only time I like to wake up early), the excitement, the buzz around the house…it’s exhilarating. road warriors

We had a great time visiting friends (more on that to come), going to museums, amusement parks, wineries and just generally lying low and taking it slow. It was perfection. No phones, no emails (at least as they pertained to work) and no texts. How often does that get to happen?! Certainly not often enough. first dinner

It was pure family time and pure fun. The kids have gotten older since our last road trip this direction, even since our last road trip. As we know, time flies. Miss A is certainly going through a new developmental stage and Mr. N literally aged on this trip (more on that to come). family dinner

But before I get to those fun little tidbits and while I get all our vacation pictures organized, we thought we’d share another French recipe with you all. Can you tell we’re enjoying our little foray into French cuisine! Well, who wouldn’t?! So like our trip, this recipe is one that you’ll want to cook low and slow. It’s a slow cooker twist on a traditional French Provençal vegetable stew – Ratatouille. eggplant

I believe we adapted the recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens dish, but truthfully I don’t remember and I can’t find the recipe that I used. It came on vacation with us (as I had intended to post this while we were away), but it either didn’t make it home or it’s lost somewhere in a suitcase. In any case, we used traditional ratatouille veggies – eggplant, onion, tomato, pepper (we chose red) and zucchini. ratatouille veggies

Along with our veggies we used garlic, tomato sauce, salt and pepper, oregano and herbs de Provence. seasonings

Everything was simply tossed into the slow cooker and set on low to cook for 5 hours. slow cooking ratatouille

All told, the only real time you spend cooking this dish is the time it takes you to chop the veggies. Not to mention there’s only one pot to clean at the end! This is my kind of weekday meal for sure.

Now there are many ways to serve ratatouille. It can be a served as a side dish or a main course. It can be served over rice, bread or pasta. It can even be served on its own as a stew. ratatouille

The veggies will shine regardless of how you serve the dish. As for us, we wanted a little protein with the meal, so we served ours over omelets. omelets with ratatouille

It was a fresh, flavorful and rather healthy meal. Mike and I both feel omelets are a great way to load up on veggies. health dinner

I gave the slow cooker ratatouille 3 spoons. As many of you know, I’m a picky veggie eater, but I’ll gladly eat them this way and feel good about it. Mike, however, would have preferred the ratatouille over rice. He enjoyed the stew, but felt it really needed a carb to go along with it. So he only rings in at 2-1/2 spoons. ratatouille and eggs

As for the kids, well, we let them skip this one. They’ve tried enough dishes to know they don’t like eggplant, peppers or tomatoes…yet. I’m still holding out hope they’ll develop a liking for them though, but for now it’s a bit hard to hide the veggies in the ratatouille. They did enjoy watching the movie, Ratatouille, on vacation though. I suppose that counts for something. ;)

Print this recipe: Slow Cooker Ratatouille

We’ll be back next week with our vacation highlights and then onto a few more fun recipes, followed by our traditional summer celebrations. Have a great week everyone!

Spoiler Alert: Miss A has become obsessed with farms and farm life.

Spoiler Alert: Miss A has become obsessed with farms and farm life.

Spoiler Alert: One (or two) of those celebrations might involve a birthday!

Spoiler Alert: One (or two) of those celebrations might involve a birthday!

A Devil of a Good Time

Hi everyone! As we mentioned in our last post we were preparing for some fun. Well, this week we are off to our neighbor to the North to meet some new friends and enjoy some family time. Yep, it’s another road trip; although not quite as epic as the one a few years ago that took us to many of the same places. little devils

So while we are away, you’ll forgive us for not checking in on many of your wonderful blogs. We’re going to unplug for a short time and recharge. We’ll be back next week with another French recipe and hopefully some great vacation stories to share. Lobster Devils

Until then, we thought we’d share this little non-recipe of a recipe with you. It was a HUGE hit in our house and it just happens to involve lobster which is reminiscent of that trip a few years back. Just search “lobster” on our site and you’ll see what we mean. deviled eggs

We took a basic deviled egg recipe – hard-boiled eggs, add the yolks to a bowl, and mix them with Dijon and mayo. This time we then added a bit of dill, some Champagne vinegar, diced shallots, and of course some chopped up lobster. (We had claws on-hand after a tasty special at Costco.) The measurements on today’s recipes are approximates. You can easily adapt this to your own taste preferences. lobster deviled eggs

Once the mixture was added back into the egg whites, we topped them with a pinch of truffle salt, some chives and a sprinkling of paprika (regular, not smoked, as we didn’t want to diminish the taste of the lobster). Now you can see why these were such a hit. Lobster Deviled Eggs with Truffle Salt

Mike and I both gave them 4 spoons. Hands-down. No questions. Miss A gave them 100 spoons. I have never seen her eat so much of a non-dessert food in my life. I’m not kidding. She put these little devils (pun intended) away! But Mr. N, he insists on saying they were 3-1/2 spoons….despite also devouring them and fighting with his sister over the last one. Hmmm. I’ve determined his vote is due to either not wanting to appear as a conformist, or that it wasn’t dessert and therefore doesn’t deserve a 4 spoon vote. IMG_7151

What I’m trying to say, is that you may as well consider this one of the rare 4-spoon all-a-rounders. Now do you think I should add it to our index page for four spoon dishes. Hmm…

I’ll ponder that while we’re away. Enjoy your week everyone! Print this recipe: Lobster Deviled Eggs

Fake Trophies

Whew! What a week. We made it through the end of the school year insanity. Miss A has successfully finished preschool and next year will be a full-time kindergartener (I get teary just thinking about it.). And Mr. N is off to 4th grade; although rather reluctantly as he will very much miss his teacher from this year. I have a feeling she will be one of those that he will remember his whole life.

Then this weekend we had yet another performance. This time it was Miss A’s turn. star spangled

She completed another year of gymnastics (she’s been in for a few years now) and this year she got to perform in the program’s version of the “Olympics.” strong girl

She was so excited for her big day. Nana and Papa came, as did Grammie and Boom Boom (my dad as he’s referred to by the kids) and my aunt and cousin (who Miss A adores) came to see her big day. She was a regular ham for the audience as she waited her turn (apparently a flare for the dramatic runs in the family)…little ham

And then it was utter focus and determination. Running

She even made it up to the ceiling on her rope climb which ceases to amaze me. Rope climber

It was such a fun afternoon and Miss A was so happy. Although she was quite concerned that her trophy was “fake.” I think she was expecting a real gold medal. The plastic variety was rather a disappointment. Ha! trophy winner

And there’s no rest for the weary. This week we have summer activities starting and then we’re preparing for a bit of fun. Why is it that fun always requires so much preparation? Ah well, that’s why we have tasty desserts to get us through and make up for “fake” trophies. So this week we bring you a few French dessert treats – Sables (butter cookies) and Mousse au Citron (lemon mousse). We’ll leave the French chocolate delicacies to the masters – and those that like chocolate. ;) lemon curd

We borrowed our recipes from Joy of Baking and Saveur and didn’t really deviate. The only real difference was in the shape of our sables. From what we read, and if you are an authority on the matter feel free to tell us otherwise, traditional sables have a fluted edge and are circular. Ours, however, are not fluted, nor are they circular. lemon mousse making

Both recipes are very easy to follow. The biggest thing to remember is to have enough time set aside to chill your lemon curd. We made our cookies while the curd was in the fridge. sifting flour

Ah yes, and the cookie dough must have time to chill as well. Really that is the only time consuming aspect of these two desserts. lemon curd and egg whites

How do you like our shapes? You may recall the dragon fly from our adventure with Mongolian cookies. cookie shapes

We served ours together and the butter cookies went nicely with the tangy lemon mousse. They can also easily be served separately. The kids enjoyed eating the cookies throughout the week. And look who tried to sneak into the photo shoot! Another ham for the camera? Or just after some of that creamy decadence!mousse and cookies

As for how they ranked? Well, the sables were right on the mark. They are exactly as you imagine butter cookies. The kids enjoyed them more than Mike and I though. We prefer a chewier and softer cookie. Mr. N and Miss A ranked them 3 spoons and 9 spoons, respectively. Mike gave them a 3 spoon vote because he thought they were perfectly executed. I gave them 2-1/2 because while good, they just aren’t my kind of cookie. Sables

The mousse, which shouldn’t be a surprise given our obsession with lemon bars, went over much better across the board. The mousse is wonderfully tart and full of fresh lemon flavor. It is, however, a heart attack in a cup, so we didn’t eat very much. Just enough to know we loved it! Mike ranked it at 3-1/2 spoons, Mr. N and I gave it the full 4 spoon vote and Miss A, returning to our normal scale gave it 3 spoons. She liked the cookies better – and at least these weren’t fake! mousse au citron

Now don’t worry, these desserts don’t end our French cuisine adventure. We have a few more recipes in store, but we may bounce around a bit first. Until then, should you want the recipes here you are: Mousse au Citron and Sables. We’ll be back next week with a simple, but delicious treat. Have a great week everyone! Lemon Mouse and butter cookies