Monday, October 31, 2011

{ october snow }

A rare October snow blanketed us this weekend. There was something especially festive about seeing the brightly-colored autumn leaves and Halloween decorations splashed against all the fresh snow around town -- quite a sight.

I love living in New England.

{ haunted cookies }

Spooky sweets for some little goblins (aka, kindergartners).

Happy Halloween, friends! Eat, drink, and make scary.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

{ sugar skulls }

Some Halloween, mixed with some Dia de los Muertos.

These were super fun to make!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

{ 100 crosses }

(actually, 117)

On their way to Palmer Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

{ pumpkin land }

Pumpkin Land in Mechanic Falls, Maine.

Last year when we made the same trek, Paige was only a few weeks old and swaddled in blankets. This year, she was climbing on pumpkins, toddling through the corn maze, and petting the animals in the barn.

Aidan, as he did last year, took the most direct route straight to the vintage fire truck that was parked on the edge of the farm.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Friday, October 07, 2011

{ soccer cookies }

David Beckham, if you're reading this and want me to make you some cookies as well, I'm your girl.

I'll even give you a discount.

These however, were created with love for Hampton, NH's own budding soccer stars.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

{ coast guard insignia cookies }

Of all the colorful little pieces of butter and sugar that I've baked and decorated over the past year or so, I think I'm most proud of these. Not because they're particularly brilliant, or because they'd appeal to very many people (in reality, I'm sure they're quite boring to most folks).

The truth is, the reason I'm most proud of my Coast Guard insignia cookies is because I finished them before throwing the entire batch against the wall, out the kitchen window, or into the fireplace ashes that still need to be swept out from last winter.

These were Tedious --- and yes, I meant to capitalize the T. I've never been so happy to finish a cookie project.

So ... I hope my babies arrive safely to Alaska. And I hope the newly-retired Coastie for whom the cookies were made enjoys his celebration, as well as his new life as a civilian -- starting with noshing on cookies (without having to worry about making weight at his next physical).

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

lemon shrimp capellini with cheese and pepper

If it was carb-friendly (and socially acceptable), I'd probably eat pasta every day. But my favorite pasta dishes aren't the deep-dish, cheesy, bubbly-baked varities. I most love the simple recipes with the fewest ingredients. A combination of Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh lemon is what I crave as much as anything. Add in some shrimp, and life is a walk on the divine side.

I could never get away with this if Ty were home -- he gets a little antsy if we don't have a juicy steak or some other hunk of meat at dinner time, although he'll indulge my pasta love affair once or twice a week (as long as I make Italian sausage to add to his share) -- but I've probably made some version of this pasta dish 5 or 6 times over the past two weeks. I love having it in the refrigerator to heat up whenever I want a quick, yummy meal. The leftovers are as good as the original, for sure.
I was inspired by an easy recipe (spaghetti with cheese & pepper) from one of my favorite blogs. It was especially appealing because the ingredients were something I could always find in my kitchen. I did some tweaking, and now it's become a staple for me.

Most of the ingredient amounts in this recipe are by preference, and it's tough to label exact amounts used -- you just sort of have to feel your way through it. But it's a great base from which to spring -- the potential possibilities are endless. If you prefer chicken to shrimp (or have extra rotesserie chicken meat that you need to use), make the substitution. Adding green peas would be yummy (and pretty!) too. And when I feel the need for some extra zing, I add red pepper flakes.
As I've shared before, I keep a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer and just run it under cold water in a colander to defrost.
If you find a simpler dish than this, I want to hear about it! :)

box of capellini
1/2 cup (or more!) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
approx. 1/2 pound shrimp
6 - 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
zest and juice of l lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
a nice amount of freshly-grated black pepper (approx. 2 tablespoons)

Cook pasta according to directions, generously seasoning water with salt before adding pasta.

Important! Reserve roughly 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cooking water before straining the pasta (I just scoop it out with a Pyrex measuring glass abut half-way through the cooking process). Drain the pasta into a colander and set aside.
In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and saute garlic. Cook and stir until just fragrant (approximately one minute). Add lemon zest and salt and pepper to season. Add defrosted (or fresh) peeled shrimp and cook until heated through (I usually cover for a minute or two to speed up the process).

Place the grated cheese into the bottom of the hot pasta pot and add in small amounts of the reserved cooking water, a little at a time. Mix together just until creamy.

Add the cooked pasta to the cheese and water mixture in the pot and stir. Add the shrimp and lemon mixture and a generous amount of grated pepper, continuing to stir together. If needed, add more of the reserved cooking water as you go.

Transfer to serving bowl and squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on top, to taste. Garnish with a slice of lemon and serve immediately.