Something delicious is coming in 2013…

2013 is just hours away!

As I reflect on this year’s adventures (and many Lattes), I look forward to another 365 days and all the future has to offer.

I’m also very excited about something that Super-sous and I have been putting together for all of you to enjoy in 2013… 52 delicious weeks of ???

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Intrigued? Well, I think I’ll let it be a surprise; only a handful of hours remaining in 2012.

I wish you all a safe and magical New Year’s Eve and a delicious 2013!

 

Dessert That’s Simple, Quick and To Die For

A new episode of Growing a Greener World has been posted online and it’s a goodie.

Buried somewhere in the episode (around 22 minutes in, actually), I prepare a to die for dessert that’s so easy and delicious, it’s going to be your go-to dessert from now on. For real. (I think it would even be delicious in a Latte – when you try it, let me know).

In the meantime, enjoy the episode and happy cooking!

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A Beautiful Warm Winter Soup

Now is the time for soup (and Lattes, of course). Warm, cozy soup. Being that it has been cold, windy and a bit snowy in my hometown of Arlington, Virginia all week, soup has definitely been on the menu.

A favorite in the Lyon household is my Sweet Potato-Carrot Ginger Soup with Candied Pecans (from Great Food Starts Fresh). This is a perfect winter soup because it has a little kick of heat from fresh ginger and cayenne pepper and it’s super easy to make – a one pot wonder.

Plus, it’s gorgeous! Enjoy.

Sweet Potato Carrot Soup with Candied Pecans

Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup with Candied Spiced Pecans

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

7 medium carrots, peeled and chopped roughly (3½ cups)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly (3 cups)

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped roughly (2 cups)

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a Microplane

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to taste

1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon honey, preferably orange blossom

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Candied Spiced Pecans (recipe below), for serving

Fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped roughly, for serving

1. Combine the carrots, sweet potatoes, apple, and stock in a large saucepan over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until both the sweet potatoes fall apart and the carrots are soft and can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove from the heat.

2. Blend the mixture to a smooth texture carefully with an immersion blender.

3. Add the grated ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, honey, lemon juice and olive oil to the saucepan and continue to blend. Season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt and pepper; add more cayenne pepper for heat and more cinnamon for sweetness.

4. Serve in soup bowls topped with candied spiced pecans and chopped parsley.

Note: If you prefer a slightly thinner consistency, add a splash of hot water or stock.

Candied Spiced Pecans

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil

1¼ cups pecan halves

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B

1. Mix together the cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, salt, and a few good grinds of pepper in a small bowl.

2. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute or until hot.

3. Add 1 tablespoon oil and the pecans, and cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds to cook evenly.

4. Working quickly, add the spice mix to the sauté pan and stir to coat. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring once every five seconds.

5. Add the maple syrup very carefully, as it will bubble up, stirring to coat. Allow to cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the pecans, and if they begin to smoke, turn down the heat a little and stir more often.

6. Remove from the heat and transfer the pecans to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

7. Working quickly, using two forks, separate the individual pecans, then allow to cool completely. Seriously. They’re going to be hot.


Book Signing Events Friday through Sunday!

Christmas is only 4 days away (unless the world ends today, in which case, it’s been a wonderful life and please can I have one more Latte) and if you, like me, need to do some last minute shopping and live in the DC area, you have 3 (yes, three!) opportunities to get your signed (personalized) copies of my seasonal cookbook (and one of the Washington Post’s top cookbook picks for 2012) Great Food Starts Fresh this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Details:

Register Promo Handout

Your food will never look like that… phew!

I think by now we’ve all become privy to the notion that Photoshop, the magical photo editing tool, is used by magazines, advertisers, and the like to alter the appearance of people to make them look younger, thinner, blonder, shorter, taller… you get the idea.

It’s a bizarre thing to be surrounded by this “reality.” In Los Angeles, we get a double dose of it as it’s not only in magazines and on TV, but every corner you turn there’s a huge billboard staring back at you with  “perfect” looking people, always looking younger than you (even though they may be 30 years older than you), more fit, better skin, better clothes. Better life?

Can’t we just see people for how they are? What does it look like to grow older?

Time for a field trip through some google images – here we go. Two beloved stars before and after photoshop.

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Sorry to break it to you, but you will never be able to look like the Madonna on the right because she does not exist! As for Mr. Clooney: ahh, so he DOES have wrinkles. Thank Latte; he is a human being. We all get wrinkles. Even people who plastic surgery their face away cannot hide the way their skin ages-their neck, arms, hands.

So, why do I bring this up? Because it’s the same thing when it comes to food. You will never, I repeat never, have the Arby’s sandwich on the left. (Click on the photo and you’ll see more great examples of before and afters. And, by the way, please don’t eat this stuff anyway.)

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After all they do during the food styling of this sandwich, you wouldn’t want to eat that food you see on the TV. Why? Here are a few tools of the trade used by food stylists: glue, cardboard, spray deodorant, hairspray, motor oil, toothpicks, tweezers, glycerin, cotton balls. Sounds delicious, right?

Here’s another food photo that I just love:

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Don’t get me wrong. I love Cuisinart, but really? Evenly spaced strawberries and not a single drop of juice anywhere? Wow. I wish I could prepare food like that.

It makes me happy to see people sharing so many food photos from their own kitchens. It’s important to know what the food really looks like. That’s why I didn’t hire a food stylist or photographer for my cookbook.

I wanted to do it myself so it looked real. I cooked it, I put it on a plate and I walked it over to my window to take a photo. No motor oil or hairspray used.

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No one wants to feel like they don’t match up to the “ideal” when in reality that ideal doesn’t exist.

You CAN make beautiful and delicious food without any fancy tricks.

So, when you see that perfectly glossy almost reflective roast turkey in the ad or the pancakes with the single pat of unmelted (or unmeltable) butter on top of a stack of golden pancakes, think twice. It’s probably not real.

So keep it real. And as far as the recipes in my cookbook are concerned, they’ll turn out like you see them on the page.

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Pinterest Mania – I Gave In

So… it happened.

I joined Pinterest. “Everybody’s doing it” and so I caved.

What exactly is Pinterest? Well, that’s what I’m trying to find out. An online scrap booking social media? A collection of interesting photos? A way to while away a handful of hours online in the blink of an eye?

I’ve started with just a few “boards” (yes, one is dedicated to Latte), however for those of you who know and love Pinterest, please let me know what you would like to see, what would interest you, etc. Thanks a Latte.

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My Upcoming Book Signings

Latte Lovers!

There is still time to grab your copies of Great Food Starts Fresh and…  get them personalized for the holidays!

I’ll be selling and signing my cookbook in the coming days at these times and locations:

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