Summer Recipe: Garlicky Mushroom Bruschetta

 

I'm trying hard to do a few things different to capitalize on this summer. First, eat as many meals I can outdoors. After a long winter, I crave sunny days outside eating on a patio. My recent attitude is that if it is even the slightest bit of a nice day- the table and chairs get shoved outside and so does mealtime.

The second thing that I am trying to do is put less meat on our weekly rotation. No huge reasons for that other than looking for light options that bring a bit of variance to what we eat while keeping grocery bills down.

Summer seems like a great time to bring in other forms of non-meat substance into mealtime. I've been tossing chickpeas into salads, slathering nut butters on pretty much every breakfast item I can think of and now have begun to foray into mushrooms. They're so affordable, so healthy (1 of your 5 a day!), versatile enough to be added to a slew of recipes that I already make... and they soak up flavor like a boss. :)

For a little afternoon tea out in the park with my friend, Camille, I made a really delicious mushroom bruschetta in lieu of the standard soggy sandwich selections. The combination of flavors was totally kicking- think garlic, lemon and lots of fresh parsley. Perfect for summer. (I got the idea from this site, Just Add Mushrooms, which, as the name implies, is a pretty great starting point for mushroom-centric recipes.)

 

And the verdict? Well, we ate every last bit of them in an embarassing amount of time.... so I guess that means we liked them. The contrast of the crunchy sourdough with the sautéed mushrooms on top was just lovely, and it's going to be something that I recreate throughout the summer as it was so affordable and so cheap. And in the spirit of summer outdoor dining, I'm sharing the recipe below. Enjoy!

 


GARLICKY MUSHROOM BRUSCHETTA

SERVES 4 | Prep & Cook Time: 10 Minutes

 

INGREDIENTS

Brown & white button mushrooms (200gm packets of each)

1 lemon

A small handful of flat-leaf parsley (fresh or frozen)

Minced garlic (3 cloves or 1 tablespoon of jarred garlic)

1 loaf of fresh sourdough bread, sliced

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

 

METHOD

Chop your mushrooms up. This doesn't need to be exact, but I'd recommend smaller pieces if you're cooking with children in mind.

Put some olive oil in your pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Sautee for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and have browned.

 

While your mushrooms are cooking, toss your bread into the oven for a couple of minutes. Don't leave them too long, because you won't want them too crunchy. Just a nice, golden toast for added contrast in texture.

 Squeeze half of your lemon over the mushrooms. Add the parlsey in. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

With the remaining half of your lemon, slice a few pieces and lay them over the mixture while it rest. This will just give them an extra little kick of flavor.

 

 

And after that? Well you're done. You can either pack these up and take them out for a picnic or pile the mushrooms on your hot toast and eat them right away. You really can't go wrong.


 

Thanks for everyone's suggestions on Instagram for good (and mayo-less) picnic recipes. The next item that is on my mind is roasted veggies tossed with quinoa, olive oil & lemon- what a great idea! What's your go-to picnic item?

 

Looking for more ideas on how to bring mushrooms to your summer party? Follow along with the #MTMSummer campaign on Twitter and Facebook for recipes and seasonal inspiration.

 


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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

*this post was sponsored by Just Add Mushrooms. opinions, photography and recipe are my own.

 

 

Posted on June 6, 2016 and filed under eat.

To A Tea: The Dorsett Hotel, Shepherds Bush

 

If you're following along on Instagram, you may have noticed we have a new hood- Shepherds Bush! We are still in Central London, but just on the edge of it. It's a great fit for us- near friends and with a ton more space for our money. We are loving life here!

Obviously, one of the first matters necessary to us settling here was finding a great afternoon tea nearby. (I have my priorities, people.) Luckily, The Dorsett Hotel is just around the corner from our new house and, as I've come to discover, a place I'm sure I'll be finding myself on many afternoons in the near future.

 

 

The hotel graciously invited me to come for their special afternoon tea in celebration of the Queen's 90th Birthday. The tea has a menu that really highlights classic summer treats of Britain. When my original date had a last-minute change of plans, I was forced to scrounge up someone to join me. Just as I was about to whip out my phone and start hitting up some replacements, Tyler & I decided that there was a particular three year-old who would love a special afternoon out with her mom. So we tossed on dresses and the two of us trotted down to The Dorsett.

 

THE QUEENS AFTERNOON TEA | £24.95

 

The tea is served to you on fluffly velvet sofas in the hotel's sleek golden atrium bar, Jin. The setting is different than your classic tea room found in London with its merging of luxe finishes and modern lines.

 

 

The Queen's Afternoon Tea begins with your choice of several loose leaf teas. (Though if you're feeling torn, just know you can change up your brew throughout the tea to fit your mood.) Soon after, you'll be greated with an enormous spread of tea time fare.

 

 

Think all the English classics for this tea: coronation chicken and smoked salmon sandwiches, warm scones and crumpets with giant pots of cream and jam, Eton Mess parfaits, strawberries and cream, brightly colored slices of Battenburg cakes and all the works. It really was a great taste of British summer time... actually, more than just a taste- it was one of the largest teas I've ever been served. (Luckily, they wrapped up the pieces we couldn't finish and we got to take them home with us.)

 

 

In London, there are so many places to get expensive afternoon teas. I love those places, but I think we often assume that afternoon teas at a lower price may be missing an element from them. Well, I'm here to tell you- this one is not. (After all, the Dorsett is one of Prince Harry's favorite hangouts.) And at almost half the price of what you can pay at some of the well-known tea rooms, the Dorsett's Queen's Afternoon Tea really is a great treat for an afternoon out.

 

 

 

THE DORSETT HOTEL, 58 Shepherds Bush Green. London, W12 8QE

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on June 3, 2016 and filed under hot tea, eat, london.

HBD HHK

 

Happy Birthday, Harrison Hunter Knight!

Wow. Harrison is one today. In some ways, I can't believe it. In others, I feel like I have aged 10 years in the past year. This boy lives large, loves hard and sleeps light. But is it worth it? You bet. He definitely belongs in this family, and it's hard to imagine life without him. His presence rounds us out in that "we were too clean anyway" way.

 

 

As his birthday fell on Sunday, it made for a great afternoon to have friends over. We didn't make a big fuss over things. The hope was for the day to be easy... both on our guests and ourselves. I just made a cake, tied up some balloons and bunting, tossed a bunch of ice in the sink and stuck bottles in it for a cooler. For the kids, we filled milk bottles with juice, chocolate & vanilla milk ... it was a tiny way to make the day a bit more fun.

The cake was chocolate with cream cheese & oreo icing, and really delicious considering how simple it was to make. It tasted like a giant oreo cookie in cake form. I have a feeling we'll be having that for many birthdays in the future.

 

 

But the hero of the day was Harrison. Who, despite being away from 03:00am-06:00am the night before was the life of the party. The highlight of the day was, most likely, when 7 adults were feeding him grapes, talking to him in baby talk and waving at him. He looked like a cross between someone that was starstruck... and a Roman god.

 

 

The day was great. The party was easy. The friends were dear.

 

 

Behind every great picture of kids...

 

 

are some parents working really hard to make it happen.

 

 

 


I have to say, it feels really good to have a birthday arrive for a child that is so light-hearted. It's a bit of a new experience, and I have to say- I love it. Much like Harrison himself: light-hearted and easy going.

Happy birthday, Harrison! We're so much better with you here!



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on May 29, 2016 and filed under kids, life.

Planes, Trains or Automobiles: Traveling Between Paris & London.

The need to travel to/from Paris from London has been brought up a slew of times over the past few weeks. I thought it might be easiest for everyone planning a trip if I did a quick post on what I think is the best way to get from London to Paris.... and back.

 

There are so many options to choose from. Before the tunnel was built, my family took a hovercraft across the channel in 1994 to get us to Paris. After that, I've mainly traveled by the Eurostar on the "chunnel." However, there are endless flights between the two cities operated each day and I have many friends with cars who will drive and take the tunnel over, too.

So which is best? Well, my opinion is definitely to take the Eurostar! This isn't sponsored or endorsed in any way, but just a dedicated post to saving you a lot of time and hassle. Here are some of the reasons why I think the Eurostar is the best option to get you between London & Paris:

1. It's really cheap if you book in advance. Prices start at £29.00 per person, each way. Plus, since you won't need to trek to airports- you can save the money on ubers or the airport trains. Also, no tickets needed for children under 4, which can save you some cash if you're fine with sharing a seat. (Eurostar actually made a cost comparison between flying/train here.)

2. It's really fast. You leave from Central London and arrive in Central Paris. While you need to be there 45 minutes early, the wait time also allows for getting customs done before you ever depart. So once you're train arrives after the 02:44h journey time, you're there!

3. It's really nice. The trains are all being upgraded and the new trains are really slick. We upgrade to standard premier for the same price of

4. It's easy to pack for since they don't fuss with the same airline packing standards. There are some official packing guidelines, but they aren't checking for weight or size. Bring three bags and they won't blink. Oh, and you don't have to take out your liquids. Hoorah!

5. It saves you so much time. While the journey time is a bit longer than a flight, you save so much time getting to and from airports, going through security, waiting on a gate and then going through customs upon arrival. When your train pulls into Gare du Nord, you can hop in a taxi and be to your hotel in 10 minutes. 


A FEW OTHER THOUGHTS.

1. If you're traveling with small kids, upgrade to Standard Premier (not first, but the class in between). Rather than buying three tickets (2 adults, 1 small child)- buy two in the class above for a bit more. There have always been empty seats and, on the day, the agents are happy to swap your tickets to a table to get everyone together with some extra room. And they feed you meals. So... bigger chairs, same price, meals and less people around to watch you juggle children. It's been a game changer for our Eurostar adventures.

2. Book a car for pickup upon arrival to Paris. The taxi queue at Gare du Nord can be horrendous and it can be complicated to liase with where to meet an uber driver around the station if you're not fluent in French. Standing in the taxi rank for an hour in cold weather or late at night could be considered a mild form of torture.

I have a great guy that I highly recommend that will meet you at the end of the platform and take you, if you email me. lauren@aspiringkennedy.com). You can take a standard cab/uber on other legs of the Eurostar journey- but arrival to Paris is the one I would recommend pre-booking. Just make sure you have got Euro from the ATM at the station to pay him before you leave!

3. Book early! The tickets are inventoried by the cheapest to the most expensive. When one ticket price sells out, it bumps to the next one up. There isn't a best time to buy and PLEASE DONT WAIT to buy them until you get here. It's a common mistake that really gets expensive. You'll save loads if you book in advance on the Eurostar website. (Think of them as airline tickets and not regional train tickets.)

Hopefully that helps you in your planning. Please drop in any memories or advice you have on the topic. This is a subject that I feel weirdly nostalgic about.

Find more of my travel advice here: 6 Easy Tips for Traveling Europe with Children or Heathrow Transport Options

Need a bit more help for your trip? Maybe a travel consult is right for you!

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on May 27, 2016 and filed under travel, paris, london.

A Girls Weekend in Germany and Hero's Welcome (Nearly) Home.

 

You might have seen on Instagram and Snapchat that I flew up to Germany last week. I flew up with my friend, Amber, to see our friend, Emily, on her way home from serving as a doctor in Afghanistan for the past six months with the Air Force.

Emily and I became friends a couple of years ago. We both experienced big life shocks near the same time, and, as life has a funny way of doing, became friends as we muddled through the grief process. And when she was deployed to serve six months in the Middle East, requiring her to leave her husband and 16 month old daughter behind in Texas, she found herself facing another one of life's toughest challenges.

During her time overseas, there was a little WhatsApp chat between her, Amber, Amanda Marshall and myself. We're all moms, all Americans and were all connected to eachother through blogging over the past few years. Since we are in the closest timezones to where she was stationed, we got to chat throughout the days she was away from home. We'd chat about big stuff like parenting, little stuff like nursing bras and military food, and all the moments in-between.

Even though we got a first-hand account of the her life on a base in a war zone, I'm not sure that I still could ever fullywrap my head around the experience. But even though it may be hard to imagine life in the desert surrounded by soldiers and performing medical evacuations for wounded soldiers- I do know what it feels like to have days pass by without being with your daughter. That I do get. I know how it feels to walk around, looking like a normal person, but feeling confident that- somehow- a significantly large piece of your heart has, in fact, broken off.

So, after months of being stranded in the abyss of overseas duty, the end of her deployment came into sight- and we decided to meet her at the finish line. On her way home from Afghanistan to Texas, she stopped through Germany for a few days and we didn't want to miss it.

Amber & I flew out to Frankfurt early on Friday. We hopped on a train, devoured apple turnovers, and headed to Kaiserslautern.

An hour and a half later, we reached the tiny town near Ramstein Air Force base where we hopped out of the taxi, heard a friendly, "Hey!" and turned around to find Emily running towards us with the biggest smile.

We met at a tiny hotel and spent the next 24 hours in all the girly splendor you might imagine: giant meals, chocolate truffles, long talks over coffee, shopping in a flea market and the like.

KEEP UP WITH MORE OF THE FUN ON SNAPCHAT. Username: aspiringkennedy

 

At dinner that night, we got to eat with the rest of the doctors that Emily had worked with in Afghanistan. They were all married, and (all but one) fathers of small children. Getting to sit at the table with them as they ate one of their first decent meals in six months was an honor. The smiles at that table as they cut into giant steaks, cheers-ed eachother with enormous steins of beer and talked of their familes back home was an incredible experience. There was so much JOY. The only way I can explain it is to the feeling you have at a wedding or when a baby is born. I, honestly, felt undeserving to be sitting with them at that table with them in that special moment.

I know there are so many things that I will remember from Emily's deployment. But I think that the most significant thing that I've taken from her experience is that each soldier that goes off to fight doesn't go alone. The sacrifice of military service doesn't stop at the soldier- but there is a huge ripple effect for deployment. Just leaving my kids for the night took a ton of planning, caused me a lot of angst and took hustle to pull off. What these families have to do- both logistically and emotionally- is a lot tougher than I ever expected.

As we said goodbye on Saturday, there were tears. Of relief that this was over. Of sadness for time lost. Of thankfulness. And yet, smiling through it all in anticipation. In the midst of it all, I clicked out my phone and took a picture. This last moment of sadness after such a long time deserved to be documented. Today was the last day of tears! Tomorrow, she would be home. (And she is! And the video she posted seeing Nick & Lyla gave me goosebumps and made me cry like a baby.)

Thank you Emily. And thank you to all the others who serve by quietly keep life together while your loved one is gone fighting. Your support is invaluable and, often, overlooked. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

 

Posted on May 10, 2016 and filed under life, travel.