Cooking, lately

June 17, 2015

CKT: brown butter sweet potatoes I’m back in my cooking groove, well, sort of. If you consider cooking with one kid screaming and one wrapped around your legs a groove, then yes, this statement is true. We have been having A LOT of rotisserie chicken (store bought) taco nights and microwaved sweet potatoes with brown butter. Speaking of those sweet potatoes. This is one of those ‘kitchen magic’ tricks. I highly recommend you try them…immediately.

Every time I serve these, they are big hit with both kids and adults. Brown butter is one of those secret weapons of cooking and is so damn good. It is nutty, rich, and sweet. No one believes me when I tell them it is literally just butter. Everyone says that I added brown sugar and am just lying through my teeth.

So, for your next dinner cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave–it’ll be so easy (and fast). Then throw half a stick of butter in your smallest saucepan. Heat the butter until it melts, then pick up the pan and swirl until the butter bubbles and browns with a nutty aroma. Turn off the heat and let it sit. You want to be sure you turn off the heat when the butter is brown, not burnt…big difference…huge! Cut the potatoes and then brush them with the butter, add a touch of salt, and you are good to go!

3 is the new 4

June 9, 2015

CKT: 3 is the new 4

I have discovered that having three kids in this day in age constitutes as the new “big family.” It seemed like the norm growing up (but I come from three, so who knows). Families with four or five kids seemed like the big families then.  Nowadays it seems like having two kids is the standard. I hear a lot of “wow…three…you have your hands full.” And while, yes, I most certainly do, it’s interesting that a family of five seems so big now. One of my friends has this great story that when his parents were growing up, people felt bad for the families that could only have three or four kids…like, did something go wrong? Ah, how times have changed.

When I load everyone in the car, before we drive off I always do a roll call because this is a real fear of mine.

Love Bug

June 5, 2015

CKT & Freshly Picked Check out this little love bug!

Have you guys had as much trouble finding baby shoes or socks that fit? The struggle is real. I have found that nothing stays on baby feet and the ones that do never have the best pattern or design.

Finally for baby #3, I discovered Freshly Picked moccasins. They are… the. most. adorable. baby shoes out there (for boys and girls!). And they stay on feet to boot! What more can a mom ask for? Other than than 4+ hours of sleep, NOTHING. Well, a trip to Target, solo, sounds pretty amazing too.

Sam is wearing the crib moccs here, size 0, petite blush. I highly recommend them!

**This post is sponsored by Freshly Picked, a company I love! Please consider supporting the awesome brands that work with CKT.

Samantha is here!

May 4, 2015

We are so excited to introduce you to Samantha! The kids can’t stop giving this little peanut kisses…who can blame them?

CKT Samantha Elizabeth
born April 14th
7 pounds, 1 ounce
21 inches long

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jam roll!!

March 30, 2015

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography) CKT teamed up with Rare Bird Preserves and Kelly Allison Photography for a photo shoot all about the undeniable jam roll. Think of a cinnamon roll, but instead of filling it with butter and cinnamon sugar, you are filling it with butter and delectable jam. We had you at roll? Ok, then we won’t even get into the toasty butter frosting.

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography) Each of us came prepared with our own bag of tricks and expertise. My house was converted into a pseudo-photography studio for the day. And I pretended to be a hand model.

I have worked with Elizabeth (Rare Bird Preserves) in the past; remember CKT Orange Maple BLiS? I love her jams! She makes the most beautiful artisanal jams and recently sold me on her Bourbon Cranberry Apple Butter. It’s a jam that’s smooth and rich, while also being a touch tart and smoky. Check out her latest…an article in Food & Wine! (ps- Bourbon Cranberry Apple Butter is a black label jam, so if you are interested, buy it soon, there’s a very limited quantity).

This was my first time working with Kelly (Kelly Allison Photography) and man, was it fun to see her in action. I learned so much about food photography (her expertise), set up, and design. She has a real vision and truly captures the essence of how things taste (I know you are staring at the frosting video right now–like I said…genius).

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography) On with the roll…

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography)

CKT #jamroll (photo cred: Kelly Allison Photography) The jam roll is something special, a little traditional, and will probably be trending in your house soon. …you are welcome!

CKT Jam Roll
makes approx. 12- 24 rolls
dough recipe (slightly adapted from Sara Foster’s Refrigerator Rolls)

1/2 cup warm water (not too hot, think the temperature of a baby bottle)
1 package dry yeast
1 tsp + 2 tsp sugar (divided)
2 cups milk
8  TBS + 4 TBS salted butter (divided)
1 tsp salt
6 cups + 1/4 cup flour (divided)
1 TBS vegetable or canola oil
8-16 oz jam (depending on how many rolls you plan to make)
turbinado or brown sugar

frosting (this is for 12 rolls, don’t forget to double this recipe if making the whole batch):
2 1/2 TBS butter – melted until just starting to brown and cooled
1 cup powdered sugar
3 TBS milk (2% or whole)

Combine the water, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar in a small bowl, stir and let rest for 5 minutes (bubbles will form).

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the sugar, milk, butter, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat until butter is melted and the sugar and salt is dissolved. Let cool if needed until it is just warm (think baby bottle again). Add yeast mixture and stir until combined. Combine with flour (first using a spoon, then with hands.)

Knead the dough with the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and elastic (~5 minutes). Form a dough ball. Oil a large bowl and roll the dough around until it is completely covered with the oil. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes.

Remove dough and punch down. Let rest for 5 minutes. Here you can reserve half the dough (and place in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks in the fridge–if you wish to only make 12 rolls). Or roll out the dough in 2 shifts now to make 24 rolls.

Roll out the dough to 3/4 inch thickness and spoon out 8 oz of jam per dough sheet. Very loosely roll the dough. Then, slice ~3/4 inch portions. Place in a buttered baking dish and  brush with melted butter and sprinkle with turbinado or brown sugar. Let the rolls rise for another 15-20 minutes.

Finally bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. (Sometimes I broil the rolls for ~3 minutes at the end, just to give a nice toasty color.)

For the frosting, whisk all of the ingredients together. Spoon over the rolls. Serve slightly warm.

(all photos and videos by Kelly Allison Photography)

#CKeats

March 25, 2015

#CKeats

What we are eating this week:

parmesan crusted whitefish (topped with pico de gallo for the adults) with roasted potatoes & cauliflower (garnished with chives) and salted avocado

beet, and walnut salad (sesame dressing) with seared pork tenderloin and dinner bread (the kids will get the beets solo, probably some peas too)

tomato barley risotto with marinated feta cheese (first time trying this; supposedly kids love it, I’ll let you know how it goes…)

Kid Art

CKT: Kids Art How do you store your child’s art? I love the idea of keeping it, but man there’s a lot. And have you ever thrown something out, only to get caught?? I was confronted the other day with “MOM…why did you throw out my art, I made that for you.” Sheesh, talk about mom-guilt. My internal dialogue: since when did you start throwing stuff away?? I thought the garbage can was a safe zone.

Here’s what I’ve decided to do: I made a pile of favorites from PreK3 in the basement and then the same for this year–but it had to be trimmed. So, this past weekend I took pictures of all of our faves and then saved a handful of actual pieces…we still need stuff to touch and feel 20 years from now…I don’t want everything to be digital. Now we have a large but thin box for each kid and then I will organize the digital photos (someday). Baby steps.

What do you do? I’d love to hear.

The Land of Nod Event Recap

March 19, 2015

Thank you to everyone who came out for CKT’s cookie collab with The Land of Nod  this past weekend. I had so much fun meeting all of you…and your kids, of course!

The little ones kicked off the event by creating their cookie design. I was floored by everyone’s thought and care that went into this part of the process. Some took an entire hour to map out their teepee cookie design–kinda inspiring.

Then everyone was able to implement their design on the actual cookie. We used food coloring markers (have you tried these yet?). For some, implementation and eating went hand in hand, while others were very patient and had their’s packaged up ready to take home. Little personalities are the best.

CKT + The Land of Nod // Cookie Event

CKT + The Land of Nod // Cookie Event CKT + The Land of Nod // Cookie Event

CKT + The Land of Nod // Cookie Event

CKT + The Land of Nod // Cookie Event CKT + The Land of Nod // Cookie Event CKT + The Land of Nod // Cookie Event

CKT + The Land of Nod // Cookie Event Teepee Cookies + Land of Nod + CKT = Event success!

To do this project at home, make a basic sugar or shortbread cookie, frost them with royal icing (let dry for a full day), then use the food coloring markers to decorate the cookie (these markers are easy to clean up after, and perfect for little hands).

Check out your local Land of Nod store website for future events, or follow them on Instagram for all the latest news!
**Photos by Deanna Design Studio** (Thank you, friend!! xo)

CKT + The Land of Nod // Cookie Event

p.s.- George did have a good time, I promise!

#CKeats

March 11, 2015

#CKeat Weekly food inspiration:

pasta carbonara with ham & peas

grilled mahi mahi tacos with garlic-lime aioli and cilantro rice

grilled skirt steak, roasted potatoes & carrots and shishito peppers (adults only on the peppers)

^^Chicago friends: I hope to see you this Saturday at the Land of Nod in Oakbrook!^^