food with friends

I am back to posting on Circus Berry, again, and excited to share a whole new world of craziness with you.  Starting  Of course.

Every month, a group of lovely ladies I went to college with and I get together for dinner and drinks.  This month's regular dinner/gathering happened in my new home.  I was thrilled to have everyone see the new house, have a couple of laughs, and to indulge a bit.  Among the dips, spreads, breads, sushi, and champagne, there was my feature for the evening:

Butternut Squash, Leek, and Gruyere Galette

Inspired by a galette I made a couple of years ago and one posted on Three Clever Sisters, it turned out wonderfully.  I love squash.  LOVE squash.  I also love the sweetness of sautéd leeks.  And cheese.  LOVE cheese.  My house smelled like heaven (in the form of pastry and fresh herbs, of course).  The tricky part was the crust.  I do not do well with crusts, unless it is of the pizza or graham cracker persuasion.  I will work on that.  

To top it off, we had some yummy treats.   I mean, how do you have friends and food without dessert...chocolate dessert at that?  My answer is, you don't.  At least you shouldn't.  I am an advocate for dessert.  Anyone else with me on that?  

I purchased some brownies (Mokka, Razz-a-ma-tazz, and Turtle) and icebox cookies from Ohlson's in Clarence, NY.  

The brownies were nothing short of amazing...chocolatey, chewy, and great the following day.  The cookies were perfectly sized little bites of joy...yes, joy.  Great texture, not to sweet, would kick butt with a cup of tea, and also good the day after.  The local bakery and cafe also features anything else your baked-good-craving little heart could desire.  Cupcakes (that were HUGE), more gourmet brownies, cakes (including wedding cakes), pastry, load of cookies, local faves, and ethnic offerings.  I have had their Kringles before--someone brought it to work or something like that--delicious.  I myself had never actually purchased anything from them before.  Can't say that anymore.  I will surely go back.  Probably for coffee and pastry.

And now the recipe.  Try it.  Enjoy it.  We did!

Butternut Squash, Leek, and Gruyere Galette 
adapted from Three Clever Sisters

1¼ cups all-purpose flour1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
4 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water

1-2 pound or medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/4" pieces (about 4 cups)    
    *I used 2 small squashes and saved the remaining slices for a different recipe
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
½cup shredded gruyere1 egg white, beaten with a fork

Cut flour, butter, sage, and sea salt together with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with a few small (pea-sized) clumps of butter.  Work in ice water with your hands, starting with 4 tablespoons and adding more as needed, until the dough just forms a ball.  Gently press dough into a disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm.

Preheat oven to 475°F.Toss squash with sea salt and 1 Tbsp olive oil and arrange in 1 layer in a shallow baking pan.  Roast, stirring once through roasting, until the squash is tender and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove squash from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.

While the squash is roasting, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium-low heat.  Sauté garlic, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add sliced leeks to pan and cook until softened, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.  Add nutmeg and allspice and stir until coated.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove from heat, and allow to cool.    Gently stir the squash into the leek mixture.  

Lightly flour a surface, place the dough on top, and flour the top of the dough lightly.  Roll the dough into a 13-inch round and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Arrange squash filling in the center of dough, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border around the outside. Sprinkle evenly with gruyere.  Fold dough in on itself to cover the outer rim of filling, pleating dough as necessary.  Brush pastry with beaten egg white.  Bake until crust is golden on edges and cheese is melted, 35 to 45 minutes.  Cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving.  Slice and serve.



What Have I Been Up To...?

Months have passed, but I am still here.  Well, sorta.  It is amazing how time flies when you're...

Mothering a 7 month old and a 3 year old...

Having regular dates with your hubby...

Tackling the everyday household...stuff...

Trying very hard to keep a budget while feeding your family natural, healthy meals...

Mixing up Green Smoothies everyday with a new Vitamix!...

Learning how to photograph using fancy new lenses and external flashes...

Baking the occasional indulgence...

Crafting when it is possible...

Preparing for yet another 1/2 marathon...

Then trying to rehabilitate the IT Band injury obtained from training for said 1/2 marathon too hard too early...

Gearing up to sell your current house and purchase a different one...

Making time for friends and family...

Feeding your Pinterest addiction...

Taking time to unplug every day and read...

Phew...that's a lot.

But here I am and I will be back soon.



(Enter Your Fruit Here) Casserole

Last year my family (finally) became part of a local CSA and started receiving a summer full of yummy fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies.  I loved it so much we signed up for winter shares as well (unfortunatley because of nasty pregnancy-related nausea, it didn't seem so yummy to me then).  Anyhow, one of the fruits we received a-plenty were plums.  What can you do with pounds and pounds of plums, you ask?  My friend Jen does some fantastic canning.  I would love to do some fantastic canning but it just isn't something I have dived into yet.  Soon!

But, this is what I did...and do over and over again...

Cream of Wheat and Plum Casserole

I actually got the recipe from the CSA website, which called for semolina and cherries but stated any fruit can be used as well as cream of wheat and grits.  I make mine with cream of wheat and plums.

Moira calls it plum casserole.  I don't think I have ever seen her eat anything as fast as she eats this.

I call it plum-wonderful-yumminess.  I find myself craving it.  I can't wait for more fruit (and a free moment) so I can make more.  It is just so good.  I have made it a couple of times already this season.

We eat ours warm with a scoop of vanilla Greek yogurt for breakfast.  I even drizzle mine with honey sometimes, not that it needs to be sweeter or anything.  I would eat it every day.

And with plums and cream of is packed with iron.


Cream of Wheat and Fruit Casserole

2 1/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup cream of wheat
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp lemon zest
2 cups diced fruit (we use plums-with the peels on, I have used peeled apples)
2 Tbsp sugar for topping

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 8x8 baking dish or comparable casserole dish with cooking spray.

Bring milk, sugar, butter, and salt to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add cream of wheat in a stream, whisking to avoid clumping.  Bring back to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and cool.

Beat egg whites until stiff.  Stir yolks, lemon zest, and fruit into cooled cereal.  Add 1/3 egg whites to lighten, then fold in the rest.  Pour into prepared dish.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until set and lightly browned.


get your craft on button Anything Related  


New Planner

Even though it is not a new calendar year necessarily, I am no longer working in a school district, and my kids are not yet in school (although we refer to the daycare program as "school") I still feel like September is a good time to reorganize and get some fresh habits.

Maybe it is the cool weather coming in and the preparation for winter when I will be locked up in my house in snowy Buffalo.  Maybe it is the end of the care-free days of summer.  Maybe it is my OCD.  Regardless, I have this feeling that it is time to take a look at life and figure out what I can do to make it a little less stressful.

Back at the beginning of the year I started using a number of "planning" and "organizational" tools, all housed in a "Household Management Binder" of sorts.

I had a pre-printed grocery list I used weekly on which I checked off or jotted down the items we needed for the week. I had a pre-printed chore list, broken down by rooms in the house.  At the start of each day I picked one, two, or as many chores I would have liked to get done.  My goal was not for every surface to shine everyday, but for me to have a home I felt comfortable enough to have guests in at any given moment. In the past I found that assigning a chore to a specific day did not work for was too rigid.  I had a daily planner that outlined everything from appointments, to dos, menu, things to absolutely get done, notes, exercise, bla bla bla.  That actually worked well for a while until I missed filling out a day. Then another.  Then another.  You get the idea.  I planned my weekly menu on Google Calendar.  Loved it because I could save the links to my recipes or ideas I would be using right there!  We even sat down and did a weekly budget...Thank you SK2.

Then came the end of pregnancy when I was lucky to get a single task--napping and chasing a two-year-old not included--done.

Then came a baby and I was lucky to get a single task--napping, nursing, changing diapers, rocking an infant, chasing a two-year-old, and potty training not included--done.

A planner?  Yeah right!

Well, now I am ready to be back on track with the intent to use everything as before...except the Daily planner. It is just too much to fill in all that stuff everyday when I am rushing around as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning.  But weekly?  I can manage that.

So I spent a couple of nap times doing this...
Weekly Planner

I have my To Do (including workouts, work, or activities with Moira & Ronan); To Clean (where I can jot down what chores I will do from my weekly chore sheet); To Go (for appointments and errands); To Eat (dinner...and any other meals that need planning); and To Remember (any extra important stuff that week).  I can fill out the majority at the start of the week and fill in the rest on that day or as it comes up.

Less paper...less filling in.  I have even thought about putting this in a frame for a dry-erase calendar.  Not quite there yet.

Feel free to use for yourself.  I am happy to have some organized chaos in my life again!!!


Organize and Decorate Everything  Let Birds Fly


Update and Stationery Card

Things have been a little busy here at the K household, understandably so.  I have been pretty lax about posting here at CircusBerry.  Not to say that I have not done any post-worthy activities, I just have not had the time to put anything up.

A phone call from my mother the other day lit a fire under my tush.  She gently pointed out, "What the heck?  Your description says 'Mama to Moira'...what about Ronan?  You need to update that!"  Thanks, Mom.

So along with me updating my 'description' about myself, thought I would share the birth announcement that I created about a month ago but only ordered from Shutterfly today.  See, I am not just lax about CircusBerry, I am lax about everything.  Really, the truth is that I had about 6 different announcements and I did not know which one I liked more.  I finally bit the bullet and picked one.

I am a big fan of Shutterfly for printed materials that I would not do at home.  Last year for Christmas we gave the grandparents a photo book of Moira.  It came out beautifully and was recieved well by all.

I also love the coupon codes and discounts.  For example, an order that was over 150$ is now just over 90$.  

I took the pictures for the announcement about a month ago.  I spread out a white blanket on my bed and did a little photo shoot experiment with Moira and Ronan.  Moira had a blast, Ronan was patient and good-tempered, and I got a TON of pictures.  Here are some of my favorites.

Doesn't this one look like he is gonna pop her in the nose?

See how it would be so hard to decide?  Once I figure out some of the Photoshop basics I intend to print many of these out...someday.


Stationery card

Happy Baby Boy Birth Announcement
Customize your own unique baby announcements with Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.