It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

winter food december christmas

December is my favorite month of the year. It’s already beginning to look and smell a lot like Christmas. We have snow, I got the cinnamon and ginger out, I got the apples on the table and I start making the mulled wine. I love December and I love Christmas.

We put the decorations, we get a tree, we listen to Christmas music, we write Christmas cards and we make the menu for the Christmas dinner. You think is too early but time in December passes so fast.

Is family and food time. During the whole month of December I am testing some of the new dishes for the Christmas dinner to check how much time will take and how will look and taste.

December is also time to make decorations with my little boy. Even now, as I write on a piece of paper this post, my little one is writing next to me something on another piece of paper.

We have always oranges in the house, but in December we have even more. Oranges, apples, cinnamon and ginger are a must in December. I start drinking my coffee with cinnamon in it. Yummy!

In December I start knitting more than usually. I am a big fan of handmade things. So I recycle old shirts, jewels, bottles, etc. and make new ones.  I start blogging about my crafting and knitting projects last month because I discovered I love blogging. You can find my projects here: Loving to purl.

Christmas for me is not about spending money, is about spending time with your family. We do decorations, we play, we learn Christmas songs and poems, we read, we listen to music, etc. Even more than usually. We keep the Christmas traditions and also make new ones every year.

With the snow coming down, we put our gloves and take our sleigh, and we go out to have fun.

So I am happy December is here. That means Christmas is around the corner.

Baked pumpkin with spinach and mushrooms

pumpkin with spinach and mushrooms

Those are the last days of fall. To celebrate the end of a beautiful season I prepared pumpkin. I found it at sales at the store and a recipe came in my mind. This pumpkin is named Queensland Blue and is the first time I am using it in a recipe and first time to eat it.  Queensland Blue Pumpkin is native to Australia and can be cooked in a variety of ways and will complement sweet and savory recipes.

queensland blue pumpkin

Two years ago I made this amazing dish Baked pumpkin with porcini mushrooms and I started loving pumpkins. For decorations or for food. It always feels like fall when I see or taste a pumpkin.

pumpkin

The recipe I used for this Queensland Blue pumpkin is my own creation. I just checked the time to bake a pumpkin and the temperature.In the end it went so great with the mushrooms and the spinach.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Queensland Blue pumpkin (1,4 kg)
  • 250 g mushrooms
  • 1 hand of baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons oil olive
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves cut in small slices.
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon dry parsley

Directions:

Heat the oven to 200 C. Cut the pumpkin and with a metal spoon scoop out the seeds and insides of the pumpkin. Cut 2-3 cm slices of pumpkin. Cut the onion in big pieces.

Place the pumpkin slices on a baking sheet. Add the onion and the mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with spices. Roast for 15-20 minutes. Add the spinach on top and leave it in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Serve it with garlic sauce.

baked pumpkin with mushrooms and spinach

 

Small tricks for better food photos

In food photography we use lots of tricks to make our life easier and also amazing photos. As a food blogger you need to show your food as good as you can. Sometimes all falls apart: the dressing doesn’t stay long on the salad, pasta is sticking together, the dessert looks like you just throw it on the plate, etc.

Our traditional Romanian “Ciorba de perisoare” (Sour soup with meatballs) was difficult for me to shoot until I found a trick to keep my meatballs on top. I used the lids from cough syrup. They are made from plastic and you can find them in different shapes. So keep them for your future projects.

sour soup with meatballs

As you can see in the final shots you can’t even tell I have them in the soup.

Another trick is to pick the fresh vegetables you can find. They look better on the camera.

Take the photos of the meats and vegetables before being fully cooked. They will look plump and juice. Remove them from the stove a bit early, take your photos and then finish cooking them.

To make the vegetables look fresh in a salad brush them with olive oil or mist with water.

To keep everything together you can use a toothpick. You can hide it in the back of the food.

For looping noodles or rearranging small crumbs you can use tweezers. Keep one in the kitchen just for this.

With a little patience and experience you will develop skills to make your food photography look good.

There are also tricks for food photography, but you can’t eat the food after. At the big shootings there is a golden rule. Don’t eat the food you shoot, because you don’t know what it is.

They use motor oil for syrup, glycerin to look fresh, cotton balls for illusion of steaming-hot foods, spray deodorant for frosty look, white glue instead of milk, shaving cream for cream, mashed potatoes with powdered sugar for ice cream and fake champagne made of water, soy sauce and Alka Seltzer for the bubbles.

Baked eggs

baked eggs with cheese and bacon

Baked eggs are an inspiration all the time. Today I just saw a beautiful photo from Jamie Oliver with baked eggs and it just send me in the kitchen. With just a few ingredients in the fridge I decided to do something like that: baked eggs with cheese and bacon.

You can’t believe how many ways to baked eggs exists. If you don’t have too much in the fridge just improvise. I love onion and I use it almost all the time.

These baked eggs are good for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 hands of mozzarella
  • 1 small onion
  • 10 pieces of bacon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chili peppers
  • ½ half red pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven at 220C. Lightly grease 2 or 3 ovenproof ramekins or small baking dishes with a little oil.

Cut the red pepper and the onion. Place the bacon on the bottom of the ramekins, add some cheese, onion and red pepper. Crack a couple of eggs on top and season with salt, pepper and chili.

Baked for 10 minutes or till the whites are set but the yolks are still not done. Serve it hot from the oven. Enjoy!

baked eggs with cheese and bacon

First time cooking

chocolate crepes pancakes

We got our first snow for this year and it always reminds me about my first time cooking. It was long ago and I was just 11 or 12 years old. In the summer break, me my twin sister and our little brother decided to do something nice for our parents: cook something for them.

We started with the dessert because we felt was the easiest part. On a Monday afternoon we embarked on this beautiful experience named cooking with a crepes recipe. Crepes are French pancakes. I learned about American pancakes just a few years back and I showed my mom how to do them.

Imagine 3 kids with aprons, or something almost looking like an apron, preparing crepes. We arranged the table for them, heat the food and start making crepes.

Cooking is a learning process and all the experiments count. That week we did play with making crepes.

In the first day we made the crepes so hard that they were looking like Frisbees. J. Too much flour in the batter.

Second day was the other way around: to soft (less flour in the batter). The third day we got it right. At the end of the week we could flip them in the air taking turns. Not the little one, just me and my sister.

Our parents were so happy, even when they had a scramble crepe or a Frisbee crepe. They encouraged us to try again and gave us advices about the batter. We weren’t disappointed when we failed making the crepes the first time. We learned and moved on.

Next week we went to do some baked carrots in the oven. All together as a family. We had to do the cleaning because our kitchen was a mess after all the experiments in the kitchen. But we had so much fun.

We loved to participate in preparing the sweets because we got to lick the bowl and the spoon at the end. Even now I do the same thing and I am teaching my little boy to lick the bowl and the spoon.

So, go make some crepes or pancakes and lick the bowl and the spoon like you did when you were a child.  I bet you will remember that feeling.