Tuesday, November 30, 2010

cinnamon brownies

Close your eyes. 
But open them actually, so you can read this... just squint. 
Imagine a cold evening. 
Your oven is on, heating the kitchen (and your cold toes), 
and the smell of brownies is dancing through the air. 
You pull them out. 
they're hot! 
But you dig in anyway. 
You may burn your tongue, but it's all worth it. 
Nothing beats straight-from-the-oven brownies....am I right?? 
Brownies always sound good to me, but I especially love them on cold nights. I saw this recipe over on hannah's blog a few weeks ago and knew I had to try it out. And just as I suspected, they're perfect! 
I swapped out the vanilla for mexican  vanilla (because I do that with about everything in the fall/winter) and added a bit of cinnamon....just to mix it up a bit.
cinnamon brownies

Cinnamon Brownies
original recipe from smitten kitchen

10 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons  unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon mexican vanilla
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and place in the microwave, cooking in 30 second increments as not to over cook. Stir after each 30 seconds. Cook until butter is melted, and ingredients are well combined--it looks fairly gritty at this point, but it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added. If you don't have a microwave, a double boiler will work just the same.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes.
Dig in with a fork.....or if you are patient,  let cool completely on a rack and then  lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into squares.


Monday, November 29, 2010


We are back!  How was your Thanksgiving? Did you stuff yourselves beyond consciousness? 
I am still not even a bit hungry.....but I think I'm  having mashed potato withdrawals. 

We traveled to Montana this year for Thanksgiving. 
Barely made it there alive. 
Although I do tend to be a bit dramatic. 
The night before we left, the temperature at my parents house was -27°F. MINUS!!
By the time we arrived, I think it had warmed up to a balmy -8 or something. 
I was pretty sure the wind took my face off when we stepped out of the car.
But somehow we lived to tell about it. 
It made for a very cozy weekend.....we didn't have to be anywhere!
We didn't have to get dressed. 
(although we did make the trip in "to town" to see Tangled. loooooooved it! Totally worth frostbitten limbs!!)
We could sleep in and drink hot cocoa with home made whipped cream all day.

Here are a few frosty photos. I get a shiver up my spine just looking at them.

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see montana in the summer here

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

days twenty three and twenty four

warm and toasty.

I am thankful for everything we have to make us so comfortable.
We all live such blessed lives, wouldn't you agree?
Thankful for our homes and everything in them.
Thankful for crisp, clean sheets. 
Thankful for toothbrushes because, well, you know.
Thankful for our cars that take us places so we can spend time with our favorite people.
Thankful for hot showers, washers and dryers, and hand sanitizer, because maybe I'm a bit of a germaphobe. 
Thankful for easy access to wonderful music, movies, and books.
And lets not forget our favorite magazines.
And I guess the internet is pretty awesome.....most of the time.
Thankful for all the good food that we have to eat. 
 Thankful for butter, because this time of year, butter makes the world go 'round.
Speaking of good food, you know what tomorrow is.....

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Sponsor: Linnea Paulina Photography!

Picture 19amyheartboots

Please be sure to stop by Linnea's cute blog to say hello!
She is a photographer based out of Houston....but frequents Portland--so all you Oregonians (is that a word?) can have a chance to meet her too! 
Photography is my passion.  It is something I practice every day, something that keeps me dreaming before I fall asleep at night.  I surround myself with happy, bright, and beautiful pictures – on my fridge, inside my planner, inside my wallet, and around my work spaces.  I believe in the power of happy pictures!
Find her also on facebook and twitter. 
Welcome Linnea!

Roasted Tomato Peasant Soup

A few months back Robby and I were up way too late glued to the Food Network. We were watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate"....have you seen that show?? All your favorite chef's from the Food Network talking about their favorite foods. It's pure torture I tell you.

Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, talked about her favorite grilled cheese sandwich from E.A.T. in New York. As good as the sandwich looked (gruyere on sourdough!), I haven't stopped thinking about the peasant soup she had to go with it. 

I have searched recipes to find one that looked similar to this bread filled (BREAD FILLED!) soup, and finally decided to go with Mario Batali's recipe (with a few tweaks....I roasted the tomatoes, added a red pepper, and added milk). If you are like my friends in California who still have tomatoes coming from their garden (I hate you), or if you're like Hayley who will have a flourishing garden by Christmas, or maybe you're like me and still have green tomatoes ripening in a box downstairs.....this recipe is perfect!

peasant soup

Roasted Tomato Peasant Soup
adapted from Mario Batali
serves 4-6

3 garlic cloves
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and cored
1 red pepper, cored and seeded
3/4 pound day-old Italian peasant bread or sourdough, roughly sliced
1 cup water
1 cup  milk


Place garlic, tomatoes, and pepper on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 400° until fork tender--around 30-45 minutes.

Peel pepper.
Add vegetables (with all the good juice that came out:) to food processor and pulse it a few times (a blender also works, or a hand held blender would be heaven)

Add puree to large pot on medium heat.
Stir in water and milk.

Using a wooden spoon, add the stale bread chunks. Continue simmering until all the bread has absorbed as much liquid as possible, yielding a baby food-like consistency. Season, to taste, with salt and cracked pepper. Let the soup continue simmering for 10 more minutes, then serve immediately in warmed soup bowls.

Mario topped with fresh parmigiano-reggiano, we loved it with smoked gouda and basil.

whatever you fancy.


Monday, November 22, 2010

New Sponsor: Little Penelope Lane!

Drummrolllllllllll......It's The Little Red House's First official Sponsor!

Say hello to Little Penelope Lane !
 Head over to the blog check out the super cute hair wraps (and say hi to sarah....she is the sweetest)

Comfortable cotton fabric adorned with two frayed rosettes is the new look at Penelope Lane!
These easy to wear wraps are perfect for all ages!
One size fits all, as they simply tie at the end to fit your comfort level!

Just in time for your Christmas shopping--perfect stocking stuffers for your favorite girls!
Be sure to check out the Little Penelope Lane Facebook page as well!

happy shopping!

day twenty two


I am thankful for spur of the moment date nights!!
I am thankful for AWESOME FRIENDS who take our kids into the wee hours of the morning so we can go watch Harry Potter late Friday  night.
I am thankful for mint m&ms.......best movie snack ever!
And I will say it, I am thankful for Harry Potter. 
It's true, I loved it!
Best HP movie yet--so entertaining and very well done.
I am so thankful we only have to wait until July to see Part 2!!

go see it!!

What are YOU thankful for today?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

days twenty and twenty one, and some little letters from over the weekend

I am thankful for Saturdays.
I am thankful for Sundays.
kidsheads copy

Dear Weekend,
     I love you.

Dear Sleeping In,
     I have missed you so much. I'm glad we could reunite....if only for a moment.

Dear Robby and Children,
     I love when none of you have school!! I love eating dinner together, and watching movies snuggled on the couch. Who needs school.....you should just stay home with me.

Dear Wind,
     I don't love you at all, but you did make cleaning up one million leaves in the yard very entertaining.

Dear Leaves That Blew Away,
     You are awesome! Your exit was so grand, the way you swirled round and round, up in the air--and then were gone just like that! And then we didn't have to clean you up--brilliant!

Dear People's Yards That Our Leaves Blew Into,

Dear Cafe Rio,
     As always, you were a pleasure to have.

Dear Brownies,
    There weren't enough of you. Bring more friends next time.

Dear Fire,
     You are the best. I love falling asleep right next to you. I love how you smell. Please stick around all winter.

Dear First Snow,
     Ok. You're ok. I always like you the first few times around. Especially because you were so pretty, and lit up Saturday's sky almost as bright as day. Hang around until Christmas, and then please see yourself to the door.

Dear Sunday Nap That Lasted Until 6:00,

Dear Monday.
     Oye. I'm not ready yet.

                                Sincerely Yours/All my love, 


Friday, November 19, 2010

YOU in the little red house

I love ads. Especially old ads. 
Ads that convince you right here, right now, you NEED that product.

like this one, promoting sugar over an apple. awesome.
Picture 11

"just slosh it on in the shower....." what? is there no better word than slosh?
But I have never seen a mustache shine quite like that.
Picture 15

How can you not love something called Rinso!! 
The name itself has me sold. Although the angry mob of housewives who seem to be "heiling" the main Rinso lady.....that makes me uneasy.
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Really....uh.....what to say. Whatever that product is, I want it.
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If you have something you'd like to advertise, The Little Red House 
would love to help promote you!
Artists, bloggers, makers-of-awesome things, designers, photographers, shop owners, writers, entrepreneurs....whatever you may be, we'd love to have you!

Please email me sheenajibson at gmail for (super duper low) rates for the Holiday Season, sponsorship info, or any questions you may have, like, "where can I get myself one of those awesome lace chokers as seen above."

talk to you soon!

images 1, 2, 3, 4

day nineteen

spoon + pb + chocolate chips

I am thankful for simple luxuries. When 4 o'clock rolls around....this is my luxury.
Saturday mornings with no alarm.
An extra five minutes in the (extra hot) shower.
Listening to my kids talk in their sleep.
Reading a magazine while I eat my lunch.

simple things.....are sometimes my favorite things.

What are your simple luxuries?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

day eighteen

I am thankful, SO THANKFUL, that I get to be home with my kids all day.
I love it. 
I love watching every little bit of their day (the good and the bad:)
I am so thankful for the fun we have playing, cooking, and creating together. 

I love how the sun comes through the window at the end of the day, and turns the insides of our old house pink and gold. 
The kids fight over who gets to sit in the chair and "just be in the sun!"
So the boy insisted their new artwork go "right. HERE."

What are YOU thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

day seventeen

I am thankful for good food. 
I am thankful for others who share their talents and love for food. 
I am thankful for good books.

This summer I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle

One of the best books I have ever read. Ever. 

The author (Barbara Kingsolver, or Babs as I might call her if we were neighbors), and her family move from Arizona to a small farm in Virginia. For one year they eat ONLY what they can grow themselves (or raise and butcher themselves!), or purchase locally.

This means they adjust their menus seasonally. No strawberries in fall. No squash in spring. No tomatoes in the dead of winter (those things are so crunchy and orange and nasty in the winter anyway). No bananas period, since they are not grown locally.....anywhere in the US.
Everything they eat is in season RIGHT NOW.

When produce is grown right in your own neck of the woods, as opposed to being shipped hundreds of miles, it is a billion times better. Yes, a billion. 

Now living in Salt Lake it's a bit harder to buy locally YEAR round....you know with that whole thing called winter....but this book has really inspired me to eat as seasonably as possible. (although I don't think I can ever give up my bananas....no way) (utah friends--here is a list of Utah's Own products and where to buy)
But I've been doing my best to buy, and to cook only what's in season, and growing right now.

local honey. best when eaten with a spoon.
local honey

I am thankful for my love of baking.
I love taking little bits of nothing, mixing them up, and baking it into something wonderful. 
It never gets old. 
And I love watching my kids excitement as something hot is pulled from the oven.....and that terribly long wait it takes to cool so we can have our first bites. 
pumpkin cornbread

Pumpkin Cornbread
yummy little sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkin are everywhere this time of year, and so easy to roast and add to your favorite recipes!

This cornbread is very lightly sweetened....I like to add sweetness with a bit of butter and gobs of honey. 
Perfect served warm with your favorite chili. 

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. 
Mix wet ingredients in another. 
Slowly combine and stir until just mixed. 

Pour into well greased cast iron skillet and bake at 425° for 13-15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


What are YOU thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

day sixteen

on the wall outside my dr.s office. 
"I beat lyme & so can you!"

I am feeling very thankful today.

I am thankful for amazingly smart (borderline genius?) doctors who listen. 
Really listen. 
And get it. 
And have a good sense of humor. 
Because that is very important, you know.
I am thankful that after almost 2 full years of wandering, we found him.
I am so excited (and he is so excited), we feel like I am finally on track.

I am thankful for encouraging messages. 
We all laughed when we saw this little note scribbled on the wall. 
But then I kept thinking about it. 
They beat Lyme. So can I. 
It has stuck with me. 
I hope to someday climb those stairs and sign my name underneath. 

I don't think we realize how far even just a few words of encouragement can go.
I'm 800 miles away from those words.....yet here I am still thinking about them. 
Now I'm not saying go out and graffiti your favorite words of wisdom onto a wall somewhere (although...)
But I know (and you know), how easy it is to just keep words in.....
let's not be afraid to share them with others every now and then.
a compliment. an encouraging thought. a slap on the bum. a simple, kind word.
You never know how far they may travel.

What are YOU thankful for today?

Monday, November 15, 2010

24 hours in San Francisco

Now I'm no Jamie....but here's my view of the city in 24 hours.

note: the majority of these photos were either taken through glass, or with my camera strap wrapped around my hand and shoved out the window. hey.....you do what you gotta do, right?

this is us.....and this is what we did: 
(and just imagine us at West Side Story and maybe a little salsa dancing on the side:)
see! stay-at-home-moms can still have fun. we have 13 kids between us....what?!
101......san fran-63 copy4san fran-49 copysan fran-53 copysan fran-56 copysan fran-54 copy9san fran-58 copy378san fran-41 copy5san fran-24 copysan fran-38 copysan fran-39 copy2san fran-25 copysan fran-67 copysan fran-26 copy...11san fran-76 copy...san fran-23-2 copy

I might be obsessed with those last two....

the end.