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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Simple Spring Supper | Brown Sugar & Sesame Marinated Pork Tenderloin

I'm re-sharing this from 2013, when we had just moved back into town.  It is still one of our favorite dinners!  Those French Tumblers full of hyacinth are tempting me to run to trader joe's this morning!!


Last Sunday we hosted Mike's parents for a casual Sunday Supper.  I love cooking on Sundays - it is the only day that I get to spend some alone time in the kitchen while Mike and Emma play outside.  It is so nice to be able to leisurely prepare dinner without keeping little hands entertained (which usually means she's putting them in the flour canister, then the sugar, and back again...). 

I've used this marinade several times before -it is one of Mike's Mom's signatures.  It works great with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, vegetables... anything.  Especially on the grill.  Unfortunately, we don't have a grill right now... it had to stay in Concord, Ma. when we moved because it was the last thing packed and it wouldn't fit in the Pod!  So... I just roasted it in the oven and it worked great, too.

We're working on our outdoor grilling area + new grill this week (Mother's Day & Father's Day joint gift), so you can look forward to lots of grilling recipes soon!

I love using these French Tumblers as vases for small arrangements.  I found these hyacinth at the grocery store and make the perfect little bunch in these short glasses.

While I finished dinner Mike and his parents entertained (or were entertained by...?) Emma outside and sipped on this sparkling lemonade from Trader Joes.  What is it about playing outside and sipping on lemonade?!

Along with the Brown Sugar & Sesame Pork Tenderloin, I served Ina's Orange Braised Carrots and Parsnips and Green Been Gremolata

Brown Sugar & Sesame
Pork Tenderloin

2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
1 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 teaspoons chili paste
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds

Stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, chili paste, green onions, garlic, ginger and sesame seeds.  Put the tenderloins in a ziplock and pour in the marinade.  Marinade for 1 hour and up to over night.

If baking/roasting, remove from marinade and place on a baking sheet.  Roast at 450 degrees for 18-25 minutes until a meat thermometer reads 155 degrees.  Remove and cover with foil.  Reserve the juices in the pan from resting.   Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Slice, then pour juices over sliced pork.
If grilling, grill for 5-7 minutes on each side (totaling about 18-22 minutes depending on the temp of the grill) until a meat thermometer reads 155 degrees.  Remove and cover with foil.  Reserve the juices in the pan from resting.   Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Slice, then pour juices over sliced pork.


A big bountiful platter for a Sunday Supper.

This classic lemon pie with graham cracker crust topped with whipped cream is the perfect dessert, here is the recipe link.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Easy & Creamy Lemon Pie

Easy & Creamy Lemon Pie

During my catering days, being able to make a fabulous (and stunning…) dessert in just a couple of minutes (for just a couple of dollars…) was essential to survival. This Easy & Creamy Lemon Pie was often on the menu, especially during the spring and summer months. It is sweet, tart, creamy and refreshing all at the same time. Besides being, delicious – it is unbelievably easy with very few ingredients. I’ve made it in regular pie dishes, or in cupcake pans for mini tarts. I’ve even traded the lemon juice for key lime juice… always a big hit!

10 graham crackers (2 cups of crumbs)

5 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup of sugar
2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of lemon juice
6 egg yolks
2 cups of whipping cream
1/4 cup of sugar
lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the crust, crumble graham crackers into crumbs by processing them in a food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can smash them in a plastic bag.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pie dish in the microwave.  Add graham crackers to the butter and add sugar.  Mix mixture together with a fork.  Press the crumb mixture into the sides and bottom of the pan.  A measuring cup can make it easier.  Bake the crust for 8 minutes.
For filling, mix together sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and egg yolks until smooth.  Pour filling into crust.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Let cool.  When cool, topped with sweetened whipped cream.
To make whipped cream, in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add cold cream and sugar then whip until peaks form.  Top pie with whipped cream and lemon zest, and refrigerate.
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Monday, March 13, 2017

This Week's Menu | An At Home Spring Break

This Week's Menu

This morning I'm getting organized - I have my Dinner Planner Tablet with my Market List Tablet and my Market Totes (restocked!) ready to go in the car.

Dinner Planner Tablet
Market Tablet
Market Tote Bags

Emma is on Spring Break, so we're home - yay! The first half of the week is 30 degrees, then the 2nd half is about 65.  Hum.  While I was looking forward to spending some time in the garden over her break, I'm embracing the last (hopefully!) stint of cozy weather and our menu reflects it for the first few days.  The 2nd half of the week, we'll be transitioning to warm weather foods - grilling!

I'm looking forward to slowing down, and trying not to make many plans for Emma and me.  We're going to be doing a couple of little fun projects around the house, re-planting window boxes, washing slipcovers, and doing some spring cleaning.  I'll share these projects and plans with you, too.

I'm hoping Emma will spend the week piddling and playing - which feels like such a rarity in this world, unfortunately.  We try to make sure we have time for her each day/week to just play and be in charge of her entertainment.  Over scheduling young kids seems like it is becoming an epidemic.  I feel like parents think they are not doing their job if they don't have their children's scheduled packed with "productive" activities.  I feel that children need to play, have downtime and be given space to use their own creativity.   I could go on and on about this, and probably will at some point.  I have a feeling that those of you that read this blog feel the same way as I do : )

So this week, we're letting go of obligations, spending quality schedule-free time at home and I couldn't be more excited to have a "normal" week.  We'll probably try some new recipes and spend lots of time in the kitchen.  Here is what I'm planning for the week (for the meantime...) :

Lemon Chicken with Olives and Rosemary

Slightly Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Penne

Meatloaf with Roasted Garlic Sauce

Grilled Steaks & Veggies

Friday, March 10, 2017

Lemon Swiss Buttercream Cupcakes with Blueberries

I have said it so many times here, but it remains one of my essential philosophies - I love being able to make something beautiful from nothing.  I love that when I want to give a beautiful gift, I do not run to a bakery, or a florist.  I make it.  There is such pleasure in making something, especially something that really is beautiful.  

The secret is, beautiful is often simple.

There are no fancy tips or complex techniques at use here, just simple colors, simple flavors and a simple presentation.  But that is the key - the edited, simple look is what makes it beautiful.  It is the lack of large ribbon, the lack of a giant pile of too-sweet frosting, the edited small scale blueberry and mint garnish.  The beauty lies in the editing, in the simplicity.  

True elegance lies in restraint.  When you have the means and ability to go big, but you are sure enough of trusting the beauty of simplicity.  It is having the means to serve beef tenderloin and lobster at a party, but serving a big platter of spaghetti and meatballs instead.  Or having a shoestring budget and making Homemade Pasta (which costs virtually nothing!).  Knowing that abundance is found in style, versus elaborate expenses or indulgence.

Beautiful and homemade.

It is taking the time to make something with your hands.  Time is so valuable to us.  Instead of jumping in your car to spend the day running errands, stay home.  Open your windows, pour a cup of coffee and bake something.  Make something pretty to give to someone.  

Of course, pretty ribbon and boxes always help : )

I love this ribbon.  See that delicate stitched edge?  The color is soft and pretty.
I have 8 colors of this ribbon available, including a natural with a metallic gold thread that will be a staple for me.

If I have a stock of kraft boxes and pretty ribbon in my pantry, I always have the tools to make a gift. Not having to run around town and gather the tools makes making more of a pleasure for me and is one of the reasons I started my online store - to bring you all the simple and pretty that used to seem too hard to find.

To turn plain cupcakes into something pretty just takes a tiny bit of style.

And really, silk smooth, luscious not too sweet Swiss Buttercream.

Lemon Butter Cake, recipe here
makes about 12-16 cupcakes

Swiss Buttercream Recipe

2 egg whites
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 sticks of butter, softened
food coloring

Create a double boiler by placing a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Add sugar and egg whites.  Whisk constantly over the simmering water until the sugar has melted.  It will feel smooth between fingers, when sugar granules have dissolved.

Pour egg white mixture in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Whisk on high for 5-8 minutes until it creates a glossy meringue and has cooled completely.  Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time.  Add vanilla and food coloring.

Double Boiler made with glass bowl over a pan of simmering water.

The egg mixture is whirling around, turning into gloriously glossy meringue.

I used the yellow and blue stripes for these cupcakes.  I'll save the other colors for Easter... or another Thursday afternoon.

In case you've never made meringue - this is it!

Emma adding room temperature butter into the meringue, a little at a time.

The butter transforms the meringue into swiss buttercream.  I tinted it with a touch of yellow.  I wanted it to be the color of buttery, creamy butter.

Of course, you can just spread on without a piping bag, but the piping does give it a little bit of polish - and is easier than spreading.

Disposable Pastry Bag, 12" Roll of 100, $14

An afternoon well spent!

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