Camembert Mashed Potatoes

If you’re on the hunt for a new, exciting mashed potato recipe for Thanksgiving this year, look no further. Every bite of these mashed potatoes is infused with the special tang of Camembert cheese, and it’s a noticeable (yet mild) surprise for the taste buds. This recipe is unique because the Camembert (with its high fat content) adds all the creaminess that butter and cream would add – so all the mashers need is the cheese and a little milk and you’re set.

I just used a simple Camembert from the grocery store for this recipe, and while it turned out very well, I know a higher-quality cheese would have been even more amazing. A triple-cream cheese, such as Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam, would be lovely, and a fresh chevre would add a lot of extra tang if your family is more on the adventurous side.

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Potato-Leek Soup

Living in wine country is pretty amazing, and working in wine country is even better. I get to help brides plan their weddings, coordinate big fancy dinners, and even host fashion shows! On December 11, Central Coast Fashion Week is coming to JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery! It is going to be spectacular. I spent yesterday in the barrel chai (aka cave) with the talent of three models, a producer, a photographer, a videographer, and a hair and makeup artist. Models in tutu’s among the barrels? Yes please! Be sure to watch their website and Facebook page for the photos.

sweet life laur

There is nothing like nine hours with teeny models to remind you that due to consuming an excess of fine wine and cheese more often than not, you maybe have a few pounds to lose. And that maybe you should ditch the croissants for a healthy and delicious soup…like this one.

This is the second time this year that I’ve posted a Potato-Leek Soup recipe (find the first here), but this one is so good I must share. I recently read through many, many pages of David Lebovitz’ blog about living and cooking in Paris, as another thing working at JUSTIN has done for me is make me realize that I am dying to learn French. So that’s that…enjoy!

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Leek and Potato Soup

I think it’s safe to say that of all the months, January is the most perfect month for soup. January is all darkness that comes too early, windchill, and post-holiday pudge. Soups are simple, warming, and healthy. See the balance?

Some soups, like this one, take very little time to prepare. This is great when you’re getting home from a long day of work and it’s dark because it’s winter and you’re exhausted and hungry.

Soups are a great diet staple, whether you want to lose weight or just eat healthy. Soups are generally vegetable-focused, and we all know veggies provide fiber and good nutrients. Broth is basically calorie-free (just pay attention to sodium!).

Veggies + Low-Cal = great detox tool if you accidently put on three pounds between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (yes, that’s right, three pounds in six days, folks. It happened to me!).

Try a bowl of this tasty Leek and Potato Soup – it should make your January a little cozier!

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Root Veggies and Wild Rice

roots for roastin'

So I got my wisdom tooth out this morning! I only had one, which is on the rare side. Did you know you can get FIVE? Oh my gosh…I woke up from a long nap this morning and started to cry because it hurt so badly…I don’t think I’d be able to handle more than one! Anyway, Brian took fabulous care of me and I basically just slept all day…so all in all, I survived.

If you’ve ever had any kind of surgery or been put under anesthesia, you know there are some rules. You can’t drink any alcohol the night before, which is a HUGE bummer when you’re nervous and just want a simple glass of wine! You also can’t eat or drink anything for a varying amount of time the night before – I couldn’t eat from midnight on.

Because I always think about food and don’t like being hungry, I knew I needed a nice filling dinner. Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks had just posted this recipe for Autumn Potato Salad, so using that as an inspiration, I came home from class and got roasting!

Fun fact: I had never tried a parsnip before last night. They’re good! Reminded me of a combination of a yucca and a plaintain…weird I know!

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Three-Ingredient Broccoli-Potato Soup

3 ingredient broccoli potato soup

Well, well, well, Weather.  One day you are 100 degrees and the next you are 70.  What happened to a gradual change in seasons?!  Why did you have to take us all by such surprise?  WE’RE COLD!!

So it turns out fall is here.  It came very suddenly, and I still haven’t adjusted to the fact that from here on out I will be cold in my summer dresses. So unfortunate!

I don’t like cold, but I do like autumn. Autumn is pumpkins and spiders and hot chocolate and being cozy.  Autumn kicks off the holiday season: Harvest Wine Weekend, my birthday (I’ll be 22 in 22 days…oh my goodness!), and Halloween….and these are all very exciting things!

found this big guy today...tarantula season is actually in August, but they remind me of Halloween!

found this big guy today...tarantula season is actually in August, but they remind me of Halloween!

Soup season also officially begins when it gets cold!  Although I eat hot soup all year round, it’s officially acceptable when the cold weather rolls in.  This Broccoli Potato soup is the easiest soup I have encountered – THREE ingredients!  TEN minutes (maybe less!).  It’s divine – silky and flavorful.  Here we go:

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Spinach Ricotta Baked Potato

spinach ricotta potatoFor my fifth birthday, I got this really great cookbook: Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual.  It came with bright colored plastic measuring spoons (which are still among my family’s utensil collection today), which was awesome, and it is filled with great recipes and great illustrations.  Throughout my childhood, I poured over this cookbook.  I loved it.  Actually, why am I using past tense?  Let’s be honest: I still have it, and I still love it.

So. Put-back potatoes, anyone?  I’ve been a huge fan since I first made one around the time I got this cookbook.  These days, I usually go for broccoli and cheddar put-backs – a classic combo, and the broccoli adds good fiber.

This particular recipe was born one evening when I felt like a good ole put-back.  The problem: no one had been shopping in a while (a common problem in these here parts), and the broccoli I had in the fridge was on the yellow side (whoops).

I took stock of what we did have.  Ricotta?  Hmmm.  Spinach?  Do-able. Another classic combo, but will it work in a baked potato?

Oh yes, I found.  Quite well.  Read on for my grown-up recreation of a childhood favorite.

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