Roasted Garlic & Herb Infused Olive Oil + a Simple Cheese Board


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Usually on the weekends, we're relaxed and happier spending time together instead of making a full dinner or lunch, and crave something quick, easy and satisfying. I absolutely love to cook and create new recipes but I think we all have days when we just need a break. Sometimes it's takeout for us, but more often than not, we turn to some beautiful basics: olive oil, cheese and bread.

Our favorite cheese board is one with gouda and/or brie/sharp cheddar, focaccia or a crusty bread, fruit, a meat like salame and wine. Oh, and chocolate, too!  It's one of our favorite meals and essentially what we lived off of when we were traveling around Europe as newlyweds.

This roasted garlic and herb infused olive oil is amazing year-round, but I think the warm olive oil and warm bread is especially wonderful when it's cold outside.

Once the garlic is roasted, it slides out easily from it's paper. You can leave it chunky like this, but I like to mash it up and really get the flavors to marry with the olive oil. It's great with bread but for my gluten-free friends, it's also yummy over roasted vegetables, or chicken, or used in a vinaigrette.

Happy Fall, happy Tuesday and happy simple cheeseboard dinner!

Roasted Garlic & Herb Infused Olive Oil

1 head of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano, or about 1-2 tsp dried

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the top of the head of garlic, exposing it, and peel off the outer paper layers. Don't worry about leaving the rest - they will easily come off once roasted. Place the garlic in the center of a large piece of foil. Cover it with a couple of good glugs of olive oil. Add the oregano and a good pinch of salt.

Wrap up the foil securely and roast for about 40 minutes. Pour the infused oil into a bowl or a dipping plate, remove the paper around the garlic and mash the garlic into the oil. Taste; add more salt as needed and more extra virgin olive oil if desired. Serve with bread and cheese, or use over roasted vegetables or meat. I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Fall from Carmel Valley


Monday, October 27, 2014

We spent Saturday in Carmel Valley at Earthbound Farm Stand's Fall Day. The farm stand is one of our favorite places to take John Shea. He gets to freely roam and pick from the veggie and herb gardens, play with and/or eat dirt, or right now during Fall, roll pumpkins from their huge, beautiful patch, all while we sit outside eating something yummy from the cafe or drinking a coffee watching him.

Thank you Deb, Jon and baby Nora for making the drive to come spend time with us!!! Deb became like a little sister to me in college. She came and visited me in DC after I followed my heart (Cam) and wasn't able to make it across the country again for our wedding. Then we moved to Okinawa... and just like that, five years have passed without seeing each other. While we were in Oki, she got married and had sweet Nora, I had John, and now finally reunited, we got to meet each other's spouses and babies and catch up on years. It felt like only days!! Her and her little family could not be more lovely. We loved getting to spend that time together, Fosters!

I loved their eucalyptus and flower chandelier hanging in the barn!

Question for You!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I love blogging, and have no plans of stopping yet (quite the opposite actually!). I'm thankful to have a place to be creative, to be inspired by all of you, and most of all, I really love this community and friends I've made through it. It is such an awesome thing. So I've been wondering...

Is there a post you'd like to see, anything you want more of, or anything you want to ask? Or any way that I can make my blog as enjoyable for you as it has been and is for me?

Pumpkin Chocolate Spice Cookies


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Fall leaves, bursting in crimson and orange, briskness in the air, warm meals, fires lit at night, these are heaven to my husband, as peonies in the Spring are to me. My heart is most filled with joy when Spring, in all it's floral glory appears, leading into the heat of summer with long days at the beach, juicy tomatoes and fruit, swimming, sun tans and outdoor bbq's. But mostly, it's about the flowers and warmth for me. For Cam, it's the snow and cold. To that I laugh, to each his own!! I am so thankful that God gives us change. He doesn't stifle our thoughts and desires but gives us new ones. He gives us new seasons with changing produce, foliage, flowers, weather, wardrobes. I love watching our table change, too. A pitcher of garden roses, ranunculus, peonies and sweetpeas in the Spring and summer, sunflowers, dahlias, gourds and pumpkins going into Fall. Greens, poinsettias, and camellias blooming in winter.

And with all four seasons comes cravings for the foods that shine in each one. Right now it's all about pumpkins, squash, cheesy potatoes, hearty soups, pomegranates, apples, mushrooms. My favorite part is how all of the delicious foods and meals this time of year bring family together, or in our case, without family in Monterey, friends. Food has a way of breaking barriers, opening doors and helping relationships grow. I experienced that nearly every day in Okinawa each time our neighbors gifted us with a basket of produce or I returned the favor with a freshly baked cinnamon twist bread or plate of warm chocolate chip cookies. Or in the case today, pumpkin chocolate spice cookies for our neighbors from Indonesia and for my husband who absolutely loves this season and the next. What says "Welcome to America" and "I love you, honey!" more than warm cookies and milk?!

Pumpkin Chocolate Spice Cookies
{makes about 2 dozen}

1/2 C  or  8 TBS pureed pumpkin
1/2 C (or 1 stick) of salted butter
1/4 C pure maple syrup
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 egg, room temperature
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
I bar of high quality chocolate, chopped

The flavor in these cookies is not overpowering, and I reduced the amount of sugar I would normally use so they are not overly sweet either. I wanted them to be a little chewy and moist and have the pumpkin flavor shine while not be "too much." I would recommend making some, tasting them, and then try adding more sugar and spices if you like a stronger taste. They are delicious with a glass of milk, or even in the morning with a cup of coffee. Nana Beth, I have in my head to make a gluten and dairy-free version, coming soon!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter (if just pulled from the refrigerator, microwave for about a minute, or melt over the stovetop) and whisk the brown sugar and maple syrup with it until smooth. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts and pumpkin. Whisk in the egg.

Fold in the flour, salt, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. Reserve about 1/4 of the chocolate pieces. Fold in the remaining chocolate until just combined. Place spoonfuls of dough on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper about 2 inches apart from each other. Press the chocolate pieces into the tops of the cookies. Bake for about 8 minutes, remove from the oven, slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet and let the cookies cool. If you prefer crunchier, less chewy cookies, let them bake for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

Coffee Date with My Boys & the Importance of Kafa


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I've been reading a lot lately on the importance of kafa (coffee!) in Croatia. The fascinating part to me is that it's more about sitting down with someone for an hour, or two, or even three, to talk, and less about the actual coffee itself. Though we do hear the coffee is really good! There are coffee shops all throughout Zagreb, lining the streets, and I read that it's common to go to the exact same one every day. I am so excited to dive into this part of the culture. I love a good coffee date. In Okinawa, Kenz, Stace and I would meet up atleast once (sometimes two or three) times a week in the morning with our little babes who were still small enough to sleep on us in a wrap, while we sat outside Coffee Casa talking about every subject under the sun, and reminding each other that the incredibly long nights of not sleeping would one day pass, laughing about the strange things our bodies were all doing after birth, and realizing that it was totally fine if our babies missed their usual nap attempts at home so that we could spend that time together. I always felt so refreshed after those mornings with them, even if I had only slept an hour the night before!

Early Monday morning, we made breakfast together, threw on clothes and went on a coffee date to Cafe Lumiere. It's only a block or two walk from the harbor and their cappuccino and latte were so good (though they could never top yours, Lanney & Timmy Britt!)

It might look like we enjoyed a long, leisurely coffee date, but the real life version is that while it was so sweet being together, sitting and laughing, it lasted for about five whole glorious minutes. I wouldn't expect our energetic one year old to make it any longer than that. We downed those delicious coffees in about two minutes flat and I was jittery the entire day, but so thankful for a morning date with my boys!

I also wanted to take you inside Parker-Lusseau Pastries & Cafe... It is darling. They are well-known in the area for their yummy pastries that are made fresh daily, and their whole selection and atmosphere is very inviting and very French. I took home a buttery croissant for Cam, two ciabatta rolls for our soup dinner and a morning bun and ratatouille quiche for a friend.

I'd recommend both cafes if you're ever in Monterey!

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