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I wanted to share a few photos from our California vacation. We had a truly great family trip and it was just what we needed after the past few unpredictable and difficult months. There’s nothing like long hours on the road, especially if that road is the Pacific Coast Highway, to reset your spirit. The girls did amazingly well in the car, and adapted pretty well to all the various settings and towns we stopped in; we were pretty much on the move the entire time. This trip made me want to get out the map (and our passports) the moment we got home and start planning our next adventure.

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We arrived home to full on summer. The girls and I have kept the adventures going. We’ve been cherry and blueberry picking several days in a row with friends…

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We spent a long day up at Lost Lake…

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…and a few nights camping on the coast with my friend Kate and her son. It’s felt great to keep on the move, planning adventures, getting out of the house as much as possible. Adventuring with kids isn’t alway perfect or easy but it is so much fun, and it’s great for me to get out of my comfort zone and attempt to embrace chaos a bit; something I am working on these days.

We also somewhat randomly ended up cooking a huge Thanksgiving dinner for our best friends/next door neighbors. Long story short I pulled a frozen turkey from the chest freezer while looking for something to grill and forgot about it on a 90 degree day for 2 hours. By the time I remembered I couldn’t put it back in the freezer so we decided to embrace it and do it all out. I made a Brined and Roasted Turkey, Sourdough Stuffing, twice-baked roasted garlic mashed potatoes, a big salad, gravy, and Cherry Cobbler (following my Apple Cobbler recipe).

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Other than Thanksgiving leftovers, we have mostly been making simple salads. Lulu loves to help me cook lately. She’s actually very patient and a good listener in the kitchen. Her favorite job is to shake up the salad dressing in a small jar. I also made a simple, delicious quinoa salad that I took with us up to Lost Lake that I’ll share with you really soon. Aside from small things like Garlic Bread and simple quiches (which can be made early in the day and eaten cool for dinner with a salad), we have been avoiding the oven… especially since our AC broke. I’ll also share my quiche recipe with you soon!

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I hope you all are having a wonderful start to your summers!

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  • anja_cieri - Lovely! Beautiful pictures and family time.ReplyCancel

Our road trip to California was wonderful. We are holding tight to the vacation energy that we trailed home with us. It helps that our best friends who live next door are school teachers who are actually off work for the next few months, and it also helps that it’s been the kind of weather that invites mornings at the beach and long afternoons in the backyard.

On the tail end of our trip we stayed with good friends in Northern California and they introduced me to a simple, ice cold, Campari cocktail that is helping us hang onto that fleeting feeling of vacation. I often drink Negroni cocktails in the cooler months but it hadn’t occurred to use similar ingredients in the summer! I have a few fun photos from our trip that I’ll share soon, in the meantime mix yourself up one of these bitter, tart, refreshing cocktails and enjoy the start to summer wherever you are.

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GIN, CAMPARI AND GRAPEFRUIT COCKTAIL

Ingredients.
1 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 oz Campari
3 oz gin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 oz club soda

Directions.
Mix all of the ingredients together and pour over plenty of ice! Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy.

Serves 2.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
GIN, CAMPARI AND GRAPEFRUIT COCKTAIL

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I can’t believe it’s already Friday! We have been running here and there all week long as we prepare to hand our house and cat over to our family while we head out on a road trip. It’s been a long time since we had a proper family vacation and the timing couldn’t be better. All four of us need a break!

In between running errands we have been spending a lot of time in our backyard. The garden is starting to burst with veggies: lettuces, radishes, chard, herbs, and spinach. It’s a bit sad to leave when everything is almost ready to harvest but I have no doubt that our visiting family will take full advantage of the back yard bounty. The girls have been spending the evening hours blowing bubbles, attempting to hula hoop, over-watering their strawberries, “helping” Kyle mow the lawn, and throwing paper airplanes around.

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We’ve been eating healthy and juicing a lot the past couple of weeks, cutting back on coffee, and, thanks to the garden, eating tons of wonderful salads. It’s still cool enough that Kyle’s been baking his sourdough on the weekends, too. Since it’s Friday we whittled our way down to the ends of the bread and the last of the harvested veggies. This afternoon I threw together the simplest salad. I shredded up some bitter, bold radicchio, whisked up my favorite Ceasar salad dressing, and sautéed the cut up remains of Kyle’s bread in some olive oil that I spiked with sweet paprika. Tossed all together while the croutons were still warm with lots of salty Parmesan cheese and a palmful of kale microgreens, this salad was the perfect afternoon lunch. A couple of soft-boiled eggs or a handful of shredded chicken breast would be a welcome addition if you were wanting to add some protein.

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SHREDDED RADICCHIO SALAD WITH PAPRIKA CROUTONS, MICROGREENS, AND PARMESAN
Ingredients.
3 cups radicchio, thinly sliced into ribbons
palmful microgreens
two slices sourdough bread, cubed
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Dressing.
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, very finely minced or grated with a microplane
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions.
In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon, anchovy paste, garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat 1/2 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the paprika and the cubed bread, toss often until the bread is bright from the paprika and golden from the heat. Transfer the croutons to a paper towel lined plate using tongs. Season with a pinch of salt.

In a large bowl toss the radicchio together with the warm croutons, microgreens, and Parmesan. Plate, drizzle with dressing, and finish with a bit of fresh pepper.

Serves 2.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
SHREDDED RADICCHIO SALAD WITH PAPRIKA CROUTONS, MICROGREENS, AND PARMESAN

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I love the way that seemingly complex things can seem simple under the right lens, approach, or perspective. If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know how I feel about simplifying. There are always bags for donation piled in the front end of the garage, yet I never seem to be able to really, truly simplify. I’ve always suspected that the root of the issue is having too much stuff, but no matter how much I get rid of there is still clutter, mess, and disorganization.

You can imagine my excitement upon ordering The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m in the middle of reading it and applying the method to my own belongings before moving on to the kids’ belongings, and Kyle is going to apply it to his things too. I have filled several bags full of clothes and boxes of books for donation. I’ve dumped loads of papers in the recycle and I just recycled all my old back issues of Vogue. There’s a small part of me that loved having all those old issues of Vogue, but the reality of it in a cluttered home is much less “Carrie Bradshaw cute”, and way more “Carrie Bradshaw neurotic”.

If any of you have read the book you’ll see I’m only part of the way through the process. I am trying to take it one day at a time and not go overboard (something I have a tendency to do) and try to do it all at once… and also trying to be okay with the fact that in the meantime our house is inarguably a disaster! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our physical environment reflects our emotional life and visa versa. Meaning that if we tend to feel scattered, frazzled, and overwhelmed that our space will not only reflect that feeling, but contribute to it. The way we feel and the space in which we live are intrinsically linked together. My friend Amanda recently wrote a post about how keeping a tidy house helps her with her anxiety. This gives me a more clear and motivated reasons to really, truly simplify.

I also love having a project, especially when things are hard, which they have been. Having something to chip away at helps me stay more centered and focused on something that I have some control. There’s an element of cooking that is centering and focused too, which is probably why I love it so much.

In cooking, just like in tidying, things that seem complicated can really be the simplest of things. Whipping up tart, silky mayonnaise seems like a daunting prospect but in actuality it’s a simply a matter of whisking the right ingredients in in the right order. Making earthy, deep stock from scratch can sound overwhelming but it’s actually just a matter of throwing a few things into a pot, covering them with cold water and letting them simmer away. Making fresh pasta can appear to be complicated, but it is really flour and eggs pulled together, left to rest, rolled out, and cut.

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The same goes for complicated sounded meals like Braised Endive Tartines with Prosciutto and Lemon Ricotta. Just the word “tartine” can sound complicated, but it’s really just fancy toast. Braising is one of the simplest forms of cooking. Watery, crisp, bitter endives are quickly chopped and sautéed before being doused with heavy cream and popped into the oven until they have completely surrendered and are soft, caramelized, fragrant and densely rich.

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Crisp, buttery toasts are smeared with ricotta that’s riddled with vibrant flecks of lemon zest, topped with salty, ribbon-thin prosciutto, and then piled with the creamy endives. I love to serve these toasts with bitter arugula that’s been tossed in a simple Lemon and Tarragon dressing. The bold salad flavors cut through the richness of the tartines and also help brighten them up.

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BRAISED ENDIVE TARTINES WITH PROSCIUTTO AND LEMON RICOTTA

Ingredients.
6 cups trimmed and sliced endive
12 slices prosciutto, very thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
pinch nutmeg
1 cup ricotta
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
2” sprig fresh tarragon, plus 1 tablespoon minced for the salad dressing
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for the toasts
6-8 slices crusty french bread, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
about 4 cups arugula

Directions.
Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in oven-safe pan over medium heat. Sauté the endives for 3-5 minutes, until they have sweated off a bit of moisture and wilted a little. Turn off the heat before adding the butter, cream, nutmeg, and a bit of salt and pepper. Toss in the sprig of tarragon. Stir together and transfer to the oven.

Bake for 1 hour, remove from the oven, stir it together, and return it to the oven for another 30-45 minutes, until the cream is thickened and the top is a deep golden brown. Remove the endives from the oven, stir them together, and allow them to cool a bit while you prepare your bread, ricotta, and arugula salad.

In a small bowl whisk together the ricotta and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Butter your slices of bread and place it, buttered side up, on a baking sheet. Pop them under the oven broiler for a few minutes until they are lightly golden and fragrant.

To assemble the toasts, smear each slice of bread with a thick layer of lemon ricotta, top with a little prosciutto and the endives.

For the arugula salad whisk together the lemon juice, the minced tarragon, and continue whisking while drizzling in about 1/2 cup olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss some of the dressing with the arugula.

Plate the toast along with a bit of salad, drizzle a bit of the excess dressing over the toasts if desired, and enjoy immediately.

Serves 4.



PRINTABLE RECIPE.
BRAISED ENDIVE TARTINES WITH PROSCIUTTO AND LEMON RICOTTA

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I didn’t mean to be absent from this space so much over the past month, but the events and trials of the last couple of months have taken some time to adjust to. A few months ago, without exactly meaning to, I started seeing a counselor in attempt to finally conquer my life-long battle with anxiety. I expected to be taught some fundamentals of present-moment-awareness, perhaps some simple meditation exercises.

In reality the experience of facing vulnerability and anxiety head on has been incredibly scary and challenging. It’s been confusing and terribly uncomfortable to realize that the way I see and experience things, and the way I process and cope with stress, is all upside down. I feel a bit outside of myself these days. It’s all I can do to keep my eyes and heart open and just keep moving forward. It’s a strange thing to know you have to get to know yourself all over again, and to hope that everyone around you is willing to get to know you all over again, and accept the flawed, raw version of you. If any of this sounds at all familiar to you, you might find this Ted Talk by Brené Brown called The Power of Vulnerability informative and inspiring.

Amidst all of this, my Grandpa passed away. It was a beautiful, blessed experience filled with family support, tons of love, and time… and when it comes down to it family, love, and time are really the most important things we have going for us. While it was his time to make his exit, I miss him very much. My Grandpa loved to bake, he loved sourdough bread, buttermilk pancakes, and he kept a hidden stash of cookies at all times which he doled out happily to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My Grandpa taught me how to make the most delicious Apple Pie; how to balance the spices in a fruit crumble; talked to me for endless hours about the way baking soda and baking powder worked and how to best store and use them. He was a one of a kind man and an incredible Grandpa.

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I’m just taking things one day at a time and trusting that things will get a little easier. In spite of needing things to slow down, they just keep moving along. Right now life feels like a series of waves and I’m just trying to catch my breath in-between them. I’m doing my best to focus on gratitude, take deep breaths, and keep my chin up. I didn’t mean to avoid the blog, but sometimes writing things down here can have the feeling of visiting with a close friend, and with everything going on I didn’t know what to say.

So, here I am just saying hello and sharing a series of photos I took of Lulu eating her cereal because they made me laugh. She’s definitely a good source of comic relief. Next week I’ll get back to sharing recipes, I have a great one for Braised Endive Tartines that I’ve been wanting to post.

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  • Rebeka - I am so, so sorry for your loss. If there is anything I can do please let me know.ReplyCancel

  • Anne - so sosrry to hear about your loss :( glad you have those sweet girls to cheer you up! sending love your wayReplyCancel

  • LoveCompassionateLe - Hello Kacie,

    Wishing and praying for you to experience an abundance of peace.ReplyCancel

  • Hanan - Hello, I have been following the blogs for years (from Cairo, Egypt) and wanted to just drop a few words for you as you go through difficult times. I just wanted to say that I am sure things will get better for you and that I admire your courage to face your fears and vulnerabilities. I am sorry for your loss but I am sure it is a relief for you to have such nice memories about your GrandPa. I have some nice memories about my GrandMother too, there is specific dishes that always remind me of her. She had some kind of presence while cooking food and it reflected on the taste, I am sure you do have presence while cooking too :). Keep up the good work, you are doing a great job on this blog.

    Thank you for your time
    HananReplyCancel

  • Jenna - Wishing you the best! My grandmother also passed away this spring, and like you said, even though it was her time and it was very peaceful, I miss her a lot. The whole thing really shook up our lives.ReplyCancel