Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions

Serve with slices of fresh baguette, and apple, like Honeycrisp or Braeburn.  Take a trip through the fancy olive bar at your local grocery store, and you’ve got yourself the perfect appetizer snacks for a party!  Hope you enjoy… 

Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions

1 large sweet onion, sliced into 1/4" thick rings
1 T Olive Oil
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2-3 T dried cranberries
2-3 T dried apricots, roughly chopped
Frozen Phyllo Dough, thawed (about 5-7 sheets)
1-2 T Butter, melted
1 largish wheel of Brie Cheese

1.  Make the filling:  Caramelize the onions by heating the oil in a large pan over medium high heat, then add the onions.  Cook, stirring somewhat frequently, until very soft and golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.  Add the nuts and dried fruit and cook for another 10 minutes until mixture is toasty, and fully caramelized.  You may season with some salt and pepper, but I find it tastes wonderful as is.  You might like adding a tad bit of balsamic vinegar.

2.  Prepare the dough:  Slice the wheel of brie horizontally in half; set aside.  Carefully unroll the sheets of phyllo dough, set one sheet on your work surface and immediately cover the rest with a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out.  Lightly brush the sheet with melted butter, then lay another sheet on top, angled clockwise from the first sheet.  Smooth together with your hand, then brush with more melted butter.  Keep adding layers, at an angle, with melted butter inbetween, so you have 5-7 layers of dough loosely making a circle. 

3.  Assemble the cheese:  Lay the bottom round of cheese in the center of the dough, rind side down.  Generously pile on some of the filling on top of the cheese.  Lay the remaining half of cheese on top, cut side down, then generously pile on more filling on top.  (You’ll have some filling leftover, good to eat with cooked chicken, pork, or beef!)  Bring a corner of the dough up over the cheese, and brush with some melted butter.  Keep bringing up more of the dough, all the way around, brushing with butter, until the cheese is completely and nicely covered with the dough.

4.  Set cheese on a baking sheet, and bake on the middle rack in the oven preheated to 350 for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden and fragrant.  Soooooooo yummy!

C is for Cooking

C is for cooking.  I love to cook.  This is a fairly new thing for me.  I wasn’t taught to do much cooking as a kid; my involvement with dinner was relatively limited to setting the table and doing the dishes.  But when I graduated high school and moved to Seattle to go to college, I got on this handmade kick that came out of nowhere.  I wanted to learn to make everything, and from scratch.  I don’t really know why, it just felt really good to take piles of stuff and turn them into something.  I learned to make bread (sort of), soap, to crochet, and I started cooking. 

My love affair with food has grown slowly and steadily for the last 10 years.  When I got my first job in Seattle and started going to lunch with my coworkers, I was introduced to even more new foods and new flavors.  This meat-and-potatoes country gal is now cooking fancy-schmansy yummy nummy foods like flank steak, crepes, cheesecake, Vietnamese, Indian, and all sorts of delicious dishes with ingredients like curry, rice noodles, sweet potatoes, fresh herbs, chilies, lime juice, fresh ginger, caramelized onions, and oh….yum.  Fortunately, I have a very understanding and adventurous husband who says he is willing to try anything at least once, and has.  I’ve only had one flop so far, a broth-based soup with gobs of spinach and not much else.  It was very…green.  It was very yummy when I had it at Beth’s house, but in my kitchen it was a flop.

Some of my favorite recipe websites are Cooking Light Magazine’s, The Food Network’s, and Epicurious.  This weekend we hadn’t much food in the house at all, and of course we were very hungry, and I whipped up something that even made Chris say "I could be a vegetarian every now and then if I got to eat food like this."  It was sooooo good.

Roasted Harvest Vegetables

1 Yam or Sweet Potato, peeled and cut into 1.5" cubes
4 medium Red Potatoes, quartered
1/2 small Pumpkin (like Sugar Pie), peeled and cut into 1.5" cubes
2 Carrots, peeled and sliced 2" thick
1 Zucchini, sliced 2" thick
1 Onion, sliced 1/2" thick
1 Garlic head
2 T Olive Oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 loaf of yummy crusty bread

1.  Preheat oven to 425.
2.  Remove outer papery layers of garlic head, and slice off top 1/3 (don’t peel the cloves).  Drizzle with a teaspoon or so of olive oil and wrap with a double thickness of foil.  Set in the middle of a jelly roll pan.
3.  Arrange vegetables in a single layer in the pan around the garlic, placing the slices of onion toward the corners, and any thicker pieces of vegetables toward the middle.
4.  Drizzle with olive oil and chicken broth, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme.  Toss to coat.
5.  Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until tender, taking out once to turn (and sprinkle with more olive oil, salt, and/or pepper to taste) after about 20 minutes.

Serve the vegetables with crusty bread, cheese, and fruit.  Unwrap the garlic from the foil, squeeze out the cloves, and eat with the vegetables, or spread over the crusty bread.  Experiment with different vegetables if you like, such as rutabega, turnip, parsnip, or different types of onion.  If you have any leftovers, heat them up the next day along with any leftover chicken broth, puree in a blender, add a little milk or cream, and season to taste, and you have a yummy, healthy autumn vegetable soup!

Fall Cupcakes!


Yes, fall is here.  Some of you are groaning because this means that summer is over, but remember this also means that, well….autumn is here!  Time for brisk mornings and hot drinks, good books and cozy fires, nature giving its grand finale in firey red leaves and big crysanthemums, and of course, baking!  This year for my father-in-law’s birthday I added to his gifts by whipping up some cupcakes. 

Cupcakes5_5   Cupcakes7_2

I‘ve never made cupcakes before, believe it or not, and I’ve never made frosting.  We didn’t get home until almost 9pm last night and I thought I’d be too tired to get these done, but they went very quickly and easily.  I actually ended up with a little leftover, which I poured into a heart-shaped ramekin for Chris and I to share. 


The long part was the decorating, because it was of course the fun part.  I LOVE baking with pumpkin.  If you do too, you’ll love these.  It’s based off a recipe from Martha Stewart, which I modified to fit my liking.  Hope you enjoy!


Mike’s Birthday Cupcakes (Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting)

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Food coloring or paste, in reds, oranges, browns, yellows
  • Candies for decorating, such as chocolate sprinkles, orange sugar crystals, various candy corns, black licorice strings, candy pumpkins, etc.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners (this recipe makes about 24 cupcakes, depending on how full you fill yours); set aside. Measure flour by lightly spooning it into measuring cups and leveling with a knife.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree, chocolate chips, 24 drops yellow food coloring, and 16 drops red food coloring.

3.  Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack, let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pan onto wire rack; let cool completely.

4.  Meanwhile, make the frosting:  Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add butter, and beat until fluffy. Reduce speed to low; gradually add sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, and mix to combine.

Now comes the fun part – decorating!  Spoon a little bit of frosting into small bowls and experiement with adding color.  Red and yellow make orange, add a tiny speck of green to red to make an autumny brick red, etc.  Sprinkle orange sugar crystals over white frosting, wind a rope of black licorice in a spiral on orange icing, nestle a candy corn on red icing.

By the way, a note on herbs and spices – this recipe calls for ground allspice, which I did not have on hand.  When I got to the store to pick some up and saw the $9+ price tag, I just about gave up.  I only needed 1/4 tsp!!  Turns out they had a bulk herbs and spices section along with their bulk foods.  I’ve noticed more and more grocery stores doing this – our QFC when we lived in Northgate had one, and this was the Top Foods in Snohomish.  I bought about a tablespoon of ground allspice and it cost me exactly $0.01.  Needless to say, I may never buy bottled herbs and spices again!


Breakfast in Tub

I had a nice morning today. Well, at first it wasn’t so nice – I kinda feel like I’m coming down with something, and I did something rotten to my neck because I can hardly move it. So I took a bath to see if I could loosen it up a bit. Aaaaahhhhhh…. I haven’t taken a bath since before I had Ben. (Well, I’ve bathed, I just haven’t taken a bath. So, here I am in this gloriously yummy water, complete with orange and peppermint essential oil, when Chris brings me my favorite tea, then proceeds to make me breakfast and bring it to me in the tub. He hands me this mess of eggs and veggies, which really didn’t look all that good, but it was GOOD. Really good. He just brings it in, and says he hopes it tastes good, then "oh, and I took photos for your blog." That was the best part, it cracked me up. Now he’s taking photos for my blog. I love it.

It’s kind of hard for me to remember to take photographs of my life, which is especially unfortunate as I never seem to remember much of anything unless I have photos to remind me. Blogging has been a wonderful way for me to start taking more photos. So has having a baby.
We’ve been pretty busy around here, but pleasantly so. We’re starting our most difficult and exhausting, but fun time of year – converting the store to fall! Within about two weeks we should have all the fall stuff out, and it is so much fun. I don’t know what it is about September and pretty much the rest of the year – it’s like a universally loved season. I really enjoyed spring this year. And I am thoroughly enjoying summer. But autumn….oooo, I can’t wait…

A Day with Ben

So today was my first day home alone with Ben, just the two of us all morning and afternoon. A successful day, I think – I managed to get dressed and washed before he woke up. Unfortunately, I only got so far as thinking about my breakfast when he was ready for his, but oh well. An hour of feeding, dressing, changing, playing, changing, and feeding later, he was down for a nap. The photo is of His Cuteness sometime between a feeding and changing. I tried to get a shot of his smile, but each time I gave up and snapped a photo, he’d smile, only to stop when I tried to take another shot. Take my word for it, he smiles and is adorable.

It was an interesting day. See, I’m not quite sure how much around the house one can get done during the day when caring for an infant, especially one pretty much too young to entertain itself. It’s amazing all the different ways you can multitask, like pumping breastmilk while mixing up a cake, that sort of thing. All Ben has done today is eat! I don’t know if it’s the heat or he’s hitting a growth spurt, but it has been "food – food NOW" all day long.

However, I still managed to get a bunch of this pig sty cleaned up. I have a half finished project started in every room of the house, but hey, at least they’re started! I also was able to cook a whole meal for dinner – I made a chicken pita sandwich from this month’s issue of Cooking Light, which was very good but you might find a little dry if you are used to mayo on your sandwiches (Chris doesn’t bother to eat a sandwich without a inch or two of miracle whip, but he loved this sandwich, so I guess it isn’t missing anything). Made the roasted corn relish off the cover of the June magazine too, although I didn’t have a grill at the time so I just pan fried the corn, roasted the Anaheim chile on the broiler, then added the tomato, lime juice, cilantro, etc. Very yummy, but Chris thought was a little too spicy for him. We topped it off with fresh peaches and raspberry, and a good ‘ol Betty Crocker yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I think I could have made leather sandwiches and cardboard cake and it would have tasted good to us, as we’re so desperate for home cooking after being on the road for 4 weeks.

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My Own Cardreader!

Bless my dear husband, I finally have my own card reader! I don’t have time to write much now, but wanted to get a couple photos out of hiding in my camera before I hop in bed. The fan was my most favorite thrifted find this summer, $20 at the antique mall in our Country Village. The produce photo is a sampling of the weekly goodies we enjoy on Thursdays at the Snohomish Farmer’s Market, just accross the block from our house. Yum! The star is from our store – 30", metal, distressed Robin’s Egg Blue, hanging in my studio. I love it!

Night night all…Happy Birthday Eve to me…

House, Home, and Tea Party Adventures

I can hardy believe it has been a month since I blogged last – I’m so bad!! Today I am recovering from a wonderful but long weekend of planning, cooking, entertaining, and merrymaking. I hosted a somewhat formal high tea party in honor of my mother – the party was her birthday present promised three years ago, and it has taken this long to finally happen! That said, it ended up being fortunate timing, as she is also officially retired as of two days ago. So, we celebrated her birthday and retirement with much mirth, shopping, and tea drinking!

My mother drove up from her house in Union, WA, along with 6 of her family and friends, to my home in Snohomish. After stuffing themselves silly with freshly cooked crepes (the first I’ve made!) with local strawberries and homemade Devonshire cream, they were off to the town to enjoy some shopping down the street full of lovely local businesses selling antiques, country home furnishings, tea things, fancy candies, and more.

This is the first official entertaining we have done since we moved into our home 2 ½ months ago. It was a ton of hard work preparing for it, as little did we know when we moved in how absolutely filthy this house is. It was built in 1900 and appears have been lacking its share of TLC for quite some time. For instance, the kitchen floor is the original kind of linoleum that requires a good waxing to keep clean. I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the life out of it, doing 2 ½ foot sections at a time because the water got black so quickly. I rinsed three times then wiped with a hot wet towel, and I was still bringing up dirt! I quit only because I ran out of comet! That is the kind of filth we are dealing with. I shudder to think of my little 11 month old sweet goddaughter crawling around on there. As soon as I have the energy, I will be down there scrubbing again until I can safely eat off of it, then I’ll find me some old-fashioned floor wax and get it protected before it blackens again. Now that was the kitchen floor only – I haven’t even mentioned the blinds, the wood molding, the stairs, the windows, the garden…!

My sister and her family stayed with us for the weekend, and it was really a blast, despite the work. It was such a joy to have room for two extra adults and two energetic boys! My sister was a lifesaver, helping me with the cooking and coaching me through one crisis after another. Expanding the store and hosting a party for 14 people at the same time is something I will never do again, however I will say that my party was on the calendar first. 🙂 And also – thanks to dearest Holly too, for helping me out so much, making me sit down to eat and drink some water, and giving me one of those "are you really OK" hugs as only the closest of friends can do.

When it was all said and done, everyone seemed to have a truly wonderful time. My menu – cranberry orange scones with Devonshire cream, lemon curd, and local honey; Ham, leek, and three cheese quiche; Chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons; Fresh fruit salad, mixed greens with pesto vinaigrette; chicken salad sandwiches with toasted almonds; mini Caprese sandwiches, which consisted of fresh whole-milk mozzarella cheese, a slice of tomato, a fresh basil leaf, salt & pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a spot of balsamic vinegar on slices of baguette fresh from the over that morning. I tried two new kinds of loose leaf tea, from the Tea Everything store down the street – a Queen Mary black tea, and a Cranberry Cream flavored black tea. They were huge hits, especially the cranberry, which is good because a bundle of it was their parting gift.

The tablecloth I bought on ebay ended up being BRIGHT yellow. To her credit, the seller did describe it as bright yellow, although in the photo is was a luscious pale buttery yellow, which is what I was hoping for. Oh well, an artist can make something beautiful from most any color, so I paired the bright yellow with deep purple as well as some orange. It ended up being very summery and nice, who knew?

Today Chris is at the store finishing up our lovely back patio – putting in the cement blocks around the edge, building in the waterfall – this place is going to be so relaxing and pleasant when they are finished! I however have rented 6 movies and plan on doing nothing today but watching them, eating leftover scones, picking up a bit, and thinking about how I’m going to wash the dishes for a party of 14 people with no hot water in the kitchen (please note that I also do not have a dishwasher)….


The strangest thing in the world just happened to me. My husband made chocolate chip cookies. My husband is a computer nerd, he does not bake. He’s never made cookies in his life, yet he did, just now, oh a whim, all by himself. And they’re good…. So here I am, cramming my face with warm, melty chocolate chip cookies, downing ice cold milk by the gallon, trying to decide which stains on my hands are lickable melted chocolate and which are remnants of the BurntUmber paint I was just using, enjoying one of those very sweet married moments, the kind that are the first things you forget as soon as you’ve discovered the hard way in the middle of the night that he has forgotten to put the seat down. I’d like to remember and cherish these moments – both kinds of moments, I guess, because they’re all part of the funny little world we live in and this wonderfuly complex journey we’re on called Life.

"I’ve wrestled with reality for more than 35 years, and I’m happy to state that I’ve finally won out over it." Jimmy Stewart