Baking, Dinner

The simple things in life

Pure heaven

It really doesn’t take much to make me smile. I am usually a ray of sunshine. My band students could be playing 40 different parts simultaneously, (when it is really supposed to be one part) and thinking they are superstars…yup, I’m smiling. Cold weather strikes and the yard work I have been neglecting can’t be put off any longer…yup, I’m smiling, all bundled up, but still smiling in the cold and refreshing air. My phone falls onto the tiled kitchen floor and the screen cracks…yup, I’m smiling. Smiling because I heard about a new app – iBone. Yes, that’s right, you heard me. I am a band geek at heart…and, for the record, if you haven’t hugged a band geek you must go out and find one immediately. It was International Hug a Band Geek Day last week. Find me…I give out hugs for Band Geek Day anytime of year. It was these mussels that really gave me something to smile about.

A ray of sunshine on a cold night

This dish is so simple and yet I was scared to death that there would be catastrophic kitchen results. With something as delicate as mussels the last thing I wanted to do was to overcook them. I started my research on the perfect dish..and though the curry coconut mussels, or saffron cream mussels were uber tempting…I decided to keep it simple. You know the K.I.S.S principle? It turns out that it works! I taste tested a white wine first. One must never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink yourself! I minced some garlic up, cleaned and cut up some leeks (not picture worthy…it was pitiful really…but I was nervous… the mussels were sitting in a cold water bath in my sink ‘breathing’, waiting patiently – for their demise). And could someone please tell me why I was so nervous cooking for myself? I am being honest here. I was a hot mess in that kitchen! There was butter and olive oil heating up in the large pan. I added fresh thyme, garlic and leeks. That cooked down a bit – about 5 minutes I would say. I cleaned up the mussels, trimmed the beards (the experts tell me that is when they stop ‘breathing’) and they were added to the delicious garlic/ leek mixture. And then…the best part in my opinion…add the wine! I added a cup, er, or so. At that moment I swear the heavens opened up and I heard angels singing…oh wait, maybe that was Morten Lauridsen on my iTunes playlist. Anyhow the mussels started their steam treatment. It was a little nerve-wracking to wait..and wonder. I am patient so it was ok. I danced around and started cleaning up alllll of the dishes. Before I knew it the mussels were done. What a great, quick, weeknight (or weekend) meal! Add some warm bread to sop up all of the tasty broth. Mmmm.

Second time around

Earlier in the day I made up some pumpkin biscotti. I am on a pumpkin kick…it is fall what can I say?! Pumpkin cookies seemed so blah and bland. I wanted something a little different. Pumpkin biscotti were it. Easy recipe too:

I added freshly grated nutmeg because I had it on hand. The dough is super simple…the dry ingredients and the 2 eggs, pumpkin and vanilla are added together. I didn’t even break out the mixer…I used my own strength for this one (that training is paying off). I kneaded up the dough a bit, formed it into a log and baked it the first time. I baked it about 22 minutes and it could have been in the oven for a few more minutes the first time. When it comes out it needs to cool about 15 minutes. Then grab your serrated knife and cut it in pretty little pieces. I cut it on a diagonal. Partly because I cannot draw or cut a straight line to save my life..and the photo looks cool! The cut pieces get put back in, face up, to toast up slightly and at a lower temperature. The results were surprising. Not too sweet with a nice hint of spice. I think it will go perfectly with a cup of (spiked) coffee in the morning. I mean a latte. I am off to play the (trombone) iBone now.

A fantastic fall pick me up
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