Archive for the ‘recipe’ Category

We woke up this morning to another windy and rainy day here in E-town. Thankfully, I had a yummy soup and long anticipated project all lined up and ready to go. So, while the weather may have been less than ideal, J and I had a lovely little domestic day in.

When J and I got married I hated mushrooms. As a young child I apparently loved eating raw mushrooms, but from adolescence onward I viewed mushrooms as gross, slimy things to be avoided at all cost. (I had a particularly awful sautéed mushroom encounter in Santiago, Chile when I was 17…) However, J grew up loving mushrooms and his family had them often, so as a new member of the family I decided to just go ahead and give them a try. And guess what? They weren’t bad. In fact I really liked them raw, and as the years have gone by my love of mushrooms has only grown. I now love them in any form and J and I enjoy them so much we are gearing up for this next fall, and once we return to the states plan to buy a couple of these. I know there must be others of you out there scarred from early childhood experiences of poorly cooked mushrooms, or even worse mushroom soup from a can (bleh!). I promise you this recipe is so much better than any other mushroom soup you’ve tried that it may just be able to win over even the most skeptic mushroom-haters. So, don’t hate, cook! I think you’ll be really glad you did.

Mushroom Soup
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home


  • 15 ounces fresh mushrooms (try a combo of whatever is fresh at the farmer’s market, or a mix of shiitake, portobello, and cremini… really any mixture will do, you could even use dried mushrooms in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, thoroughly cleaned (2 leeks)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • truffle oil (optional)
  • lemon


Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don’t wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water. (I know this step seems like a lot of effort, and if you really have to you could use store bought vegetable stock. However, this stock is absolutely gorgeous and is a large part of what makes this soup so delicious, I highly recommend trying it!)
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two more. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot and garnish with the following: Mix together a pinch of salt and pepper with the zest of one lemon and the juice of half of it. Drizzle the soup with a drop or two of truffle oil and place a slice of grilled crostini topped with a bit of the lemon zest mixture on top of the ladled soup. Delish!

Laundry Sacks x 2!

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will be well aware that space in our little flat is at a premium. For a long time now J and I have been trying to figure out a better way to store our dirty clothes as there isn’t room for a proper laundry basket. The default became an awful florescent pink Rubbermaid tub that we used for shipping stuff over here when we first moved. A complete eyesore. But thanks to an easy pattern out of this book, the Rubbermaid is no more! (This book has lot’s of great ideas, but I’ve found the directions a bit cumbersome… better for those with a bit of sewing experience.) Our laundry has now found a nice new home on the back door to our wee box room. And our bedroom just gained back some highly prized floor space. Success!


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are you ready?

Give away day is almost here, and I for one, can hardly wait! I’ll be joining in the fun again this year, so be sure to check back on December 13th for your chance to win a fun handmade gift.

It was snowing like crazy again in Edinburgh today, so much so that my office actually closed early. Unfortunately all the buses were shut down, so after the three mile trudge home in the snow I’m now all warm and cozy in our little flat. With the extra time I decided to bake up some yummy bread, put on the Christmas tunes and get to work on a couple craft projects. Not a bad way to spend a Monday afternoon… Hope that wherever you are reading this from you’ve got an equally cozy day ahead of you. And just before I get going on my sewing I think I’ll make up a pot of festive Wassail punch. Traditionally this punch has a lot of egg in the drink, but I prefer my sans egginess and think this recipe is delish. Care to join me for a cup?

Wassail Holiday Punch

  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup lemon juice (depending on how tart you like your wassail)
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2-4 Tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you like your wassail)

Combine all the ingredients in the crockpot and let simmer away all day. Alternatively, if you’re pressed for time you can cook all the ingredients on the stovetop. Simply combine, bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.


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(I made this soup and sewing project last Saturday, but didn’t get around to posting it. As I’m off to Geneva tomorrow, I thought I’d post it now in my absence… Have a great weekend!)

Edinburgh has been so blustery and stormy the past few days, that I knew I had to make up a big pot of warming soup to fuel all our weekend adventures. So, I went to our fridge, grabbed all the veggies we had and threw them in my much loved pot and started sauteing. While I was busy stirring I happened to look over and spy a pumpkin I’d bought several weeks ago to and a little autumn flair to our flat. I decided it would be the perfect addition, and quickly chopped it in half and popped it in the oven to roast. This is a really simple soup that is perfect for using up less-than-perfect produce. This version had a pumpkin, half a winter squash, a carrot, a parsnip, one onion, four garlic cloves, and a handful of cauliflower left over from earlier in the week. Truly, any vegetable would do. Once everything was nice and soft, I added 1/2 tsp thyme, a little salt and about 4 cups vegetable broth and then simmered for a good 45 minutes or so. To finish things off I gave the whole batch a whirl with my hand blender and then added some creaminess with about 1/4 cup creme fresh. I also roasted the pumpkin seeds in a little olive oil, salt and paprika and they added a pretty garnish and gave some good crunch to the soup. So easy, so nutritious, and seriously good.

I love having good bread to serve with soup, and as I also had some cheese and green onions to use up, I decided to make some Cheese and Green Onion biscuits. Yum. I created these by combining several different recipes, and thought I’d share the finished result with you here. Hope you enjoy it!

Cheese and Green Onion Biscuits

makes about 8 biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (I used Manchego)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 cup buttermilk
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and paprika. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixtrure resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cheese and green onions. Pour in the buttermilk, and stir with a fork until mixture just comes together to form a sticky dough. On a lightly floured work surface, with lightly floured hands, pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round.
    2. Using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out the biscuits as close together as possible. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
    3. Bake, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Travel Wallet

    This weekend I’m off with my dear friend Ashli for a fun getaway to the lovely Geneva, Switzerland! J and I normally carry an Eagle Creek travel case with us to keep all our papers, tickets and passports neat and tidy. But, as J is off at a conference in Atlanta with our trusty travel case this week, I decided it was time to make one of my own. I used this tutorial, which was great. The only trouble I had was sorting out the zippers. I just couldn’t seem to figure out how they were attached from the tutorial, so I ended up making that portion up on my own. I think it worked out great, and my travel wallet is now all filled up and ready for its first big adventure. Hurrah!

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    For the past three or four years J and I have significantly cut down our meat consumption. Usually this means lots of yummy vegetarian soups and salads with interesting grains, nuts and beans thrown in for good measure. My favorite meal we make is far and away beans and rice. This dish has endless possibilities by using different beans, mixing in a wide variety of veggies and fruit, (seriously… mangos are delicious in this dish!) and using different herbs and toppings. So today, I thought I’d share our beans and rice recipe with you as well as the latest addition to this family favorite. Homemade tortillas! This was born out of necessity as it is nearly impossible to get good tortillas in Scotland. And now that I know just how easy they are to make I can’t believe we were ever buying tortillas in the first place.

    J’s ultimate beans and rice recipe

    • 1 cup beans
    • 1 cup rice
    • ½ cube goya vegetable bouillon (with tomato paste) (or you can use regular veggie broth and add in 1-2 tsp tomato paste.)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • ½ onion
    • ½ potato
    • 1 carrots
    • ½ green pepper
    • ½ orange/red pepper
    • ½ hot pepper
    1. Soak beans overnight (1/2c of beans per 4-6 servings, where a serving is a bowl for 1 person)
    2. In the morning or afternoon when you’re ready to start cooking, clean and drain the beans (sort out rocks etc.).
    3. Return beans to pot and after draining add water (3:1 – thus 1½c water per ½c beans used)
    4. Add bouillon (goya w/ a hint of tomato is best) to water for simmering, as well as salt and pepper
    5. Bring beans to a boil, simmer until al dente (when a sampled bean or two is 5 minutes away from the perfect texture), usually 45-75 minutes
    6. When beans are 15-20 minutes from being done, cook vegetables (onion, green/red peppers, etc. – be creative!) in a frying pan. Add denser vegetables to simmer with the beans (carrots, potatoes, etc.).
    7. Note: For arroz amarillo: fry vegetables with ½ teaspoon of ground achiote or annatto
    8. When beans are done simmering, drain beans and reserve liquid
    9. Add “bean water” back into pot at 2:1 ratio (1c water per original ½c beans)
    10. Add rice (uncooked) to pot 1:1 ratio with beans, bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then simmer for 15
    11. Add fruit and other garnishes (mango or fresh tomatoes are great).

    We also love to add a bit of creme fresh or sour cream, and no meal is complete without Cholula… We go through that stuff like water!!

    Homemade Tortillas

    • 1 2/3 c all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 Tbsp oil
    • 2/3 c warm water
    1. Sift flour into the mixing bowl along with the salt.
    2. Add oil and warm water in a steady stream over flour mixture. Stir well with the fingers of your other hand. Continue to mix until a soft, slightly sticky dough forms.
    3. Sprinkle a little four onto the work surface. Knead dough for about five minutes until it feels smooth and plump. If dough feels too sticky, add a little more flour.
    4. Cover the ball of dough with upturned mixing bowl and let rest for 15 minutes. This allows the dough to relax and makes it much easier to roll out.
    5. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each piece into a ball. Flour the work surface and rolling pin and then roll out ball into a very thing round, roughly the size of a lunch plate.
    6. Pass the rolled-out round from one hand to the other to shake off any excess flour as this will toughen the tortilla. Carefully lay the tortilla in the hot pan. Let sit for 30 sec-1 minute, until you see little white spots forming on the surface, then flip it over; it should be patched with brown underneath.Cook the other side for another half minute. Set aside. Repeat process for each dough ball.
    7. Tortillas are best eaten right away, but if you wrap them carefully and store in the fridge, they can be reheated the next day. Enjoy!


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    I admit it. I. Love. Christmas. And I honestly don’t see anything wrong with listening to Christmas music year round. Unfortunately, J disagrees so we’ve had to negotiate a listening schedule we can both abide by. That means no Christmas tunes before my birthday at the end of October. It used to be no Christmas tunes until after Thanksgiving, but as we keep moving to countries that don’t celebrate Thanksgiving for J’s schooling, I’ve managed to gain a little ground.

    Anyway, in preparation for the upcoming Yuletide season I’ve had a lovely weekend filling our home with the delicious smells of Christmas and working on an Advent Calendar that I’d fully intended to make last year, and am determined to have finished in time for Advent this year!

    One of my favorite hangouts in Edinburgh is a lovely cafe called Peter’s Yard. It is situated just off a gorgeous park, and come rain or shine the cafe always feels light and airy. I love it. On top of the perfect-for-me atmosphere, they also have the MOST incredible baked goods. My absolute favorite pastry is their cardamom bun. Truly delicious, and mildly addictive. Served alongside a steaming mug of Rooibos tea and a good book and that’s me sorted for the afternoon. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making some cardamom buns for awhile now, and though they aren’t quite the same as the buns from Peter’s Yard, they are quite tasty, and a good substitute in a pinch.

    Cardamom Buns

    (adapted from Tessa Kiros’s recipe in Falling Cloudberries)

    bun dough

    • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
    • 100 g (3 1/2 oz.) caster sugar
    • 2 packets active dry yeast
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 125 g (4 1/2 oz.) butter, softened
    • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
    • 1/2 tsp. allspice
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 470 g (4 1/4 cups) plain white flour

    spiced butter

    • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp. freshly crushed cardamom seeds
    • 50 g (1 3/4 oz.) caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp. for sprinkling on top of prepared buns
    • 80 g (2 3/4 oz.) butter, softened
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten

    Put the milk and sugar in a bowl, stir to dissolve sugar. Add yeast, leave for 10 minutes, or until the yeast begins to activate. Add the egg, butter, cardamom, allspice and salt and mix in. Add the flour, bit by bit, mixing it in with a wooden spoon until you need to use your hands, and then turn it out onto the work surface to knead. It may seem a little too sticky initially, but will become compact and beautifully soft after about 5 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a clean cloth, and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size (1 1/2 – 2 hours).

    To make the spiced butter, mix together the cinnamon and sugar. Divide the butter into four  portions and keep on one side.

    Put the dough on a floured work surface roll out to a rectangle measuring 20×16. Spread softened butter over the surface of the dough with a palette knife or blunt knife. Sprinkle with spice mix, covering the whole surface with quick shaking movements of your wrists. Lightly press dough to push spice mixture into the butter. Fold the bottom 1/3 of dough over itself. Next fold the top third down, so that the dough has been folded as you would fold a letter, only in a landscape, not portrait orientation. Then, using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut 1″ strips of the folded dough. Take each piece and tie into a knot, tucking the ends under.

    Line two large baking trays with baking paper, or bake in two lots if you only have one tray.  Put the buns on the baking trays, leaving space for them to puff and rise while they bake. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle a little sugar, cinnamon and crushed cardamom over the top.

    Leave the buns to rise for half an hour and preheat your oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4). Bake them for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden. Check that they are lightly golden underneath as well before you take them out of the oven. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature and, when they are cool, keep them in an airtight container so they don’t harden.

    Makes about 20 buns.

    Advent Calendar

    This next project is one that I have been working on for far too long. I first saw it here, and have been dreaming about making one for our home ever since. Well, this year is the year, and this weekend I’ve been busy cutting all my squares for the pockets and lovely red felt numbers to mark the days. I’m so excited for the finished project and can’t wait to hang it up to use this year! What do you think, is mid-November too early to start decorating for Christmas? Here’s a pic of my progress so far, I promise to post another once I’ve got it finished. Now I just have to figure out what to fill the sweet pockets with…

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    It’s been a busy few months here in Edinburgh with plenty of great weekend trips, a new job and a month long visit from my dear parents (what a treat!). As a result of all the fun I’ve been too busy to get much crafting done. But, I do have a delicious cookie recipe to share with you that is easy to throw together and will make your home smell delightfully of fall as well as an adorable little sewing project and etsy shop recommendation, so read on!

    Spicy Molasses Cookies

    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
    • pinch of salt
    • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup molasses
    • 1 egg, room temperature
    • sugar for rolling


    • Preheat oven to 350F (175C)
    • Sift flour, baking soda, spice and salt in small bowl. Set aside.
    • In a large bowl, mix egg, brown sugar, oil and molasses until well combined. (Efficiency note: we don’t have a dishwasher in our wee flat, so whenever possible I try to minimize my dishes! For measuring the ingredients in this recipe, you can do it all with a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Start with the flour, then for the wet ingredients, first measure the brown sugar, then oil, and finally molasses. This way you won’t need to dirty any extra measuring cups and the oil will help the molasses slide right out. Easy-peasy.)
    • Blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
    • Using a 1″ ice cream scoop, scoop out dough balls and roll in the sugar and coat well. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Do not flatten.
    • Bake 7-8 minutes until the surfaces become wonderfully cracked and the edges look done.
    • Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for five minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Once cool, store cookies in air tight container.

    These cookies are wonderful on their own, but simply irresistible when served along side this tea. (A recent discovery from a friend here in Edinburgh… perfection in a cup!) I’m not sure if you can get this tea in the States, has anyone seen it? If not I may have to get into the import business when we move back in a few years….

    Binky Bunny and other delights from mmmcraft!

    Remember back when I made this cutie? The pattern was from a wonderful crafter that has created numerous patterns for some of the sweetest plush animals you could imagine. The following project is yet another great pattern from mmmcrafts that I just had to try. And I just love this little bunny! Isn’t it sweet with it’s wee blanket? A perfect sleepy time companion to snuggle with… You must check out her blog and etsy shop – so lovely!

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    happy 4th of july!

    Hope your day is filled with good conversation, food and fireworks and is spent with those you love.

    (To make these cookies you can find the recipe here and icing directions here.)

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