One Kitchen Many Hearts Box

Hello internet,

By now you know that every other month my group of bloggy buddies sends each other goodies in the mail.  It’s a wonderful way to stay in touch, give each other trinkets unique from our region of the US, and to stuff our faces with the noms we receive.  Normally I only receive packages when I go on an Amazon.com shopping bender, so a handcrafted box of love is a wonderful change of pace.

The ladies

The ladies

This month’s theme was Winter Essentials (i.e., all of the things you need to successfully survive the winter in a girly and elegant way).  I realize winter is non-existent in California, but we played along anyway. 😉

Snowflake cookie cutter is essential!

Snowflake cookie cutter is essential!

I received my winter essentials box from Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic.  Homegirl is a wonderful food nerd, crafter, mother of 4 boys, Midwesterner, and friend.  I love getting boxes from her because she intuitively knows what I need as a Midwestern expat…she gets me.

To start, she sent a mitts and paws kit, complete with lotions and soaps to keep my hands from drying up.  I can’t tell you how grateful I was for this because my hands get so dry and cracked, even in milder climates. Sad times.

Mitts and paws kit

Mitts and paws kit

She also made homemade hot cocoa mix!  I laughed out loud when I saw this because I attempted to make hot cocoa mix for Allison’s box, but failed miserably.  My attempt at cocoa was clumpy and bitter, so I ended up throwing it directly in the trash.  Kirsten, I’m going to need your recipe!  Alton failed me…as always, that bastard!

photo 1(1)

I got another box of Danish dark chocolate…score!  This stuff is incredible.  So incredible that it’s hard not to eat the entire thing in one sitting.

photo 2

Speaking of eating everything in one sitting, Kirsten also sent me the best orange shortbread cookies in the world!  These cookies disappeared faster than the Girl Scout cookies, which is really saying something.  They had the perfect balance of tart orange zest and buttery cookie dough.  The recipe is in the works and will be up on her blog soon, so stay tuned.

Orange shortbread cookies from heaven

Orange shortbread cookies from heaven

Thanks for an incredible box, Kirsten!

What is on your winter essentials list?

-Mads

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Gnocchi and Pesto Soup

Hello hello!

I’m back from my honeymoon to Belize!  It was absolutely fabulous and relaxing in every way possible.  Pictures and posts about that will be up shortly.  In the meantime, I’ve returned to a life of cooking for myself…life is hard.

Which brings me to my next point, this week is SOUP WEEK!

Gnocchi and Pesto Soup...a spin off of the classes potato and vegetable soup

Gnocchi and Pesto Soup…a spin off of the classes potato and vegetable soup

14 bloggers have come together to warm your bellies and your hearts through a week of soup recipes!  I hope you are as excited as I am!  As usual, there is a GIVEAWAY on one of the blogs listed below.  Enter for your chance to win Le Creuset!

When creating this recipe, I wanted to incorporate all of the stick-to-your-ribs goodness that we all crave during the winter months.  I think my body went into major hibernation mode this winter because all I wanted was mac n’ cheese, pizza, and hot mashed potatoes.  The result was an additional 8 pounds (holy hell) that I am still trying to work off.  Damn the winter!

“Winter” is also a relative term.  In California, it means that we will be shaking in our boots in 50 degree weather, but it’s -10 in Minnesota today.  Either way, my body is feasting like a bear in survival mode to live through the chill.  😛

Where was I?  Oh yes, stick-to-your-ribs.  To start, I used my absolute favorite bold garlicky pesto recipe.  This recipe is something my family has been making for years “by feel”, but I finally wrote the ingredients down and posted the recipe here.

Presto Pesto!

Most of the potato soup recipes I’ve used in the past and the ones I’ve seen online are fairly similar.  You start with the mirepoix (fancy term for onion, carrot, and celery), then add potatoes and boil with your liquids.  The twist on this one is the addition of gnocchi and pesto for extra winter tummy-warming heartiness.

Secret ingredients for that extra OOMF!

Secret ingredients for that extra OOMF!

For the soup portion of the recipe, you will need:

  • 4 russet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 package potato gnocchi
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Pesto (store-bought or homemade…please do yourself a favor and make homemade)
  • Shredded parmesan cheese for topping
  1. Make sure the onion, carrot, and celery are all chopped to roughly the same small size.  A uniform size ensures they cook evenly in the pan.

    Mirepoix.  I love saying that.

    Mirepoix. I love saying that.

  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and saute onion, carrots, and celery until slightly softened and starting to brown (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add potatoes and garlic, sautéing for a minute or two.  You just want a little bit of brown on the edges for extra flavor.
  4. Season the veggies with salt and pepper, then add the broth.

    If you don't have a big enough pot (I didn't), just use two!  Also, if you prep your veggies the night before, your potatoes will start to oxidize and turn purple in the fridge.  Don't be like me.

    If you don’t have a big enough pot (I didn’t), just use two! Also, if you prep your veggies the night before (like me), your potatoes will start to oxidize and turn purple in the fridge. Don’t be like me.

  5. Bring to a boil until potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes).
  6. Give the broth a quick taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender in batches), blend the soup until it’s nice and creamy.Blending away!
  8. Add the gnocchi and continue over medium heat until the gnocchi is completely cooked (about 3 minutes).photo
  9. Add the heavy cream and stir until combined.

    BTW, it is incredibly difficult to pour with one hand and get a picture of the pour with your other hand.  That's why this picture is not focused correctly.  I need a soux chef/photographer!

    BTW, it is incredibly difficult to pour with one hand and get a picture of the pour with your other hand. That’s why this picture is not focused correctly. I need a soux chef/photographer!

  10. Do a final taste test to make sure the seasonings are correct.
  11. Pour into your bowl and top with a dollop of pesto and a sprinkling of parmesan!IMG_5320

As far as soups go, this recipe was very easy and the taste was fantastic!  You want to eat this.

What are you making to keep warm this winter?  Did you suffer from the hibernation feed-me-all-the-things feelings this winter?  

-Mads

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Please check out these other bloggers over the course of the week.  These women create some of the tastiest recipes and most entertaining stories on the internet.  (Links to soup posts will become available throughout the week.)

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday:

Camping in December

Hey team,

A few friends decided this weekend would be the perfect weekend for a camping getaway.  I know California is warm year-round, but my first thought was, “Camping in December?!  Are you guys out of your damn minds?”  In fact, they were out of their minds, but I went ahead and drank the kool-aid anyway.  So we headed up to Lake Elsinore, CA.

Upon arrival at our campsite, we were greeted with a pile of human hair.

I have seen enough episodes of Criminal Minds to know that does not mean good things.  Either that, or Bigfoot decided to get a quick trim before traipsing back into the forest.

Moving along…

The weekend started out with a hike through mountain lion infested trails.  I’m used to bear country, where you play dead or make loud noises.  Apparently mountain lions will eat you if you play dead.  The trick is to stand tall.  Uhmmm…sure…that will definitely help me.

No matter, the view was way too incredible to care.

Ok, so we’ve got human hair and mountain lions.  I’m feeling pretty confident that I’m going to die at this point.

Then we found this on our hike:

WTH???

Luckily, the only thing that almost killed me was the freezing cold temperatures at night.  I have never shivered for so many hours on end.  Unbelievable.

Lake Elsinore was incredibly beautiful!  I had an absolute blast, but I can officially say that I won’t be camping in December again.  At least, not without a space heater 😉

Have you ever camped in the winter?  What is your best camping advice for the chilly weather?

-Mads