Tag Archives: home

Ginger Cornmeal Biscotti

3 Mar

Cornmeal and ginger biscotti

You’ve got your coffee…but what about a little something to go along with it on this Monday? I’m opting for some of these tasty biscotti that I conjured up a few weeks ago.

ginger biscotti

The main ingredients are candied ginger chunks, cornmeal and chocolate. I show you how to make your own candied ginger here.) There’s also orange zest, almonds and anise seed. It’s a pretty flavorful treat that is super easy to make. Bring some with you for catching up with a friend or to your office to share with coworkers. The mix of flavors within will leave your cohorts in awe of your supreme baking abilities (which you may or may not have…but let’s just let them think you do either way).

For the full recipe and some more photos, head over to my recipe at Eat Boutique.

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Winter Treats: Make your own Candied Ginger

16 Feb

CGleadTurns out, making candied ginger is really easy. And much cheaper to make on your own as opposed to buying a small package in the store.  Plus, once you make your own, you’ll have a long lasting supply of candied ginger that you can access at home, at the office, in the car…wherever!

I was never a hardcore fan of the store bought variety. I actually don’t think I’ve ever purchased a package of my own. But there was a quality about the flavor and the small, sugary slivers that I did enjoy. So that is what lead me to making my own.

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The process is pretty simple. If you can boil water, you can make these candied ginger treats!

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Ingredients:

  • Ginger Root (As much or as little as you’d like to make)
  • Sugar
  • Water

To make:

  1. Peel the outside layer of the ginger root off using the concave side of a spoon
  2. Slice ginger root into thin rounds
  3. Bring equal parts water and sugar to boil and add in the sliced ginger root. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes
  4. Strain ginger from liquid. 
  5. Place sliced ginger on baking rack and let dry for at least 5 hours
  6. Toss ginger slices in a bowl with sugar
  7. Enjoy

Extra-Dirty Martini.

20 Jan

MartiniOr would that be a Filthy Martini? Either way, I enjoy these. 

There was a period of time, somewhere around my early-to-mid twenties, when I would only drink dirty martinis. My affinity for this libation arose after a friend of mine introduced me to a properly made “extra dirty” martini. I will forever be thankful to him for making my acquaintance with this cocktail and the olives that accompany it.

Martini

Martini

Whenever I travel to northern New England, I always make time to stop in to my favorite place for drinks and comfort food. Located in Eaton Center, NH, this pub is a little nook tucked away at the back of an 1880s boarding school – now turned into an inn at Crystal Lake. 

MartiniThis place will always – always – have the best dirty martini I have come across in my travels. The gathering room is called the Palmer House Pub. It is where the locals gather while the tourists and leaf peepers/skiers dine in the attached restaurant….Finding a bartender who can make this with the correct proportions of vodka to vermouth to olive brine is not as common as I would like it to be. There is one place, however, that I can always count on.

Martini

Martini

To read on, follow the link for the full post at EatBoutique.com

Upholstery Class: Week One.

25 Sep

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After wanting to take an upholstery class for a while, I finally was able to get in and sign up before all of the spots were filled in this 9 person learning experience. I also purchased a spot for my husband, as he is also interested in learning how to restore furniture appropriately. 

I found this chair on Craigslist for $48 and it was exactly what I had in mind. It was an antique and had character in its bones, which I suppose were my only criteria. Upon starting  to take this apart, tack by tack by tack, it became clear that this chair had originally been crafted with great care. The instructor noticed this as well, and commented on the hand sewn details of the interior, the hog hair filling, the burlap crown on the inside of the cushion filled with more hog hair, and the different sized tacks used for differing details.

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Another interesting part which I loved about the chair, as did the instructors, was the backrest of the chair. The fabric had been sewn, tacked and held in place with handmade buttons in an intricate way which would have taken great skill and talent to accomplish. It may not show in the photo below, but it is quite impressive in the flesh (fabric?).

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The underside of the chair was dusty and dried out, and was easy to take apart. With each tear and pull, more dust floated out and I was able to get a clearer view of the springs.

 

By the end of the three hour class, I had removed EVERY tack, which was one of the most meditative and relaxing things I have done in a long while. There was something so satisfying about pulling and picking out each individual spike. The only thing left intact is the fabric and hog hair on the front of the backrest. This is to preserve the uniqueness of the chair, and replicate it when reupholstering it.

I will update my progress here as the weeks go on. Now to decide on a fabric….

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes. And Cheese. And Bread.

8 Sep

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We had already made a tasty dish this week utilizing a pint of tomatoes from our CSA box from Saltbox Farm in Concord. There was still another pint waiting around the kitchen, nearly a week later, with not much inspiration to be found for it.

 I was flipping through Jennifer Perillo’s book Homemade with Love for dinner ideas and found a simple recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes. I headed into the kitchen, grabbed the tomatoes  and sliced them up. After following her simple instructions, I had a warm dish of late summer perfection to devour.

While the tomatoes were roasting in the oven, I ran out to the store for bread, apples, pears and fig jam. Oh – and cheese – Herve Mons Morbier; Emmi Gruyere Reserve; and Les 3 Comtois Comte. The tomatoes have definitely won out as the favorite cheese and bread compliment this evening. I am surprisingly full with nearly half of the cheese still remaining – quite an oddity in my presence.

The recipe, courtesy of Homemade with Love:

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, chopped

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Add everything to an 8-inch square baking dish and toss. Adjust seasonings to taste. Bake until tomatoes are slightly collapsed and tender, about an hour. Enjoy warm or store in fridge for up to two weeks.

Strawberry, Leek & Goat Cheese Quesadilla.

28 Aug

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I sometimes forget how a few simple ingredients can come together to make a dish that truly stands out. This is one of those recipes, and I would like to thank Sara Forte for bringing this to my attention in her cookbook of delights, The Sprouted Kitchen – a tastier take on whole foods.

I try and utilize fresh ingredients which haven’t traveled too far as often as I can. This recipe called for fresh strawberries, and there are plenty of berries around this time of year. Another main component of this unusual (amazing!) take on a quesadilla is goat cheese, which is another locally produced item that is fairly easy to find. Pair those with leeks, mozzarella and brown rice tortillas, and you’ve got the makings of a memorable treat.

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Leeks and strawberries and goat cheese? Yes, they do work together. Each of these ingredients has its own distinct flavor characteristic which manage to meld together in such a way that you are left wondering why you haven’t ever put these together all at once before. (It may also lead to run-on sentences.) I’ve had similar flavor combinations in the past and called on those examples to tell myself that this would be amazing. It was, and much more than I was hoping for. Are you feeling reassured yet?

For more, head over to the rest of my post at EatBoutique.com

Rainbows and bunnies, for real.

17 Jun

rainbow

I made it home from work right before the skies opened up and an hour or so long thunderstorm rolled through. When the thunder stopped and the storm eventually fell apart, the skies cleared from west to east as the sun began to set, casting a rainbow over the Boston skyline. 

I first noticed it out of my living room window.A clearly defined double rainbow making its way through the trees and roofs. (I thought it was “rooves”, but no. It’s not. That’s hooves, apparently.) At the same time, the humidity in the air broke, and I had no choice but to wander outdoors to follow it further.

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On my way to find a bigger slice of rainbow, I ended up having conversations with strangers on three separate occasions, something which rarely happens in Boston – and to have it occur three times in twenty minutes? Crazy (and welcomed). I also saw a brown rabbit and a twenty-something year old dude standing three feet away from it taking pictures of it eating. That doesn’t happen much here either.

I arrived at my vantage point about 10 minutes after leaving my house. Here are some shots I took with my phone of the Boston skyline, on what I have dubbed Boston Day (because the date is 6/17, and also, our area code).

As I turned to leave, I looked at the sky to the west. It was missing the rainbow, but had the sunset, and was equally as awesome.

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Clementine (Orange…) Pistachio Muffins.

10 Jun

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I was lucky enough to get a copy of Jennifer Perillo’s new cookbook Homemade with Love, featuring recipes from her blog In Jennie’s Kitchen. I chose to write up a review of one of the many difficult to choose from recipes, but ended up going with the delicious Clementine and Pistachio Muffin recipe. Not only was it fun to make, it was a joy to photograph. Here’s part of my post from Eat Boutique:

As soon as I unwrapped Homemade with Love, the newly released cookbook from Jennifer Perillo, I knew this was going to become one of my favorite cookbooks. Yes, I was absolutely judging this book by its cover, and I happened to be completely correct about it.

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Reading Jennifer’s story of how she came to her current place in life, the lines between cookbook and the start of a really great novel became slightly intertwined. I was not familiar with Jennifer’s blog or her story, but know now that I will be a reoccurring visitor to In Jennie’s Kitchen.

Homemade with Love could double as an owner’s manual for the self-sufficient kitchen. Providing both a list of must have pantry items, as well as recipes for easy-to-make basics – you’ll be off to making truly homemade meals and treats right away….

 

To read more about my experience with this amazing recipe, as well as recipe for it, I urge you to go to read the rest of my post here. And also, be sure to check out Jennie’s blog if you have not done so already!

Homemade Caraway Seed Mustard.

6 Jun

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Maybe it just occurs in my kitchen, but I’ve noticed a small collection of condiments rapidly taking hold over the shelves on my  fridge door. Horseradish, chutney, peanut sauce, relish, and mustard – just to name a few of the residents. Looking more closely within the mustard neighborhood, I decided it might be time to try creating my own mustard. It’s really quite a simple process, and the customization opportunities are only limited by what you can come up with in your head.

I searched through my spice rack to see if any inspiration would develop, and then I came upon the caraway seeds. I added the seeds to a traditional mustard recipe and what developed was a spicy mustard with a rye bread familiarity. This would be perfect for both creating a filling reuben or for something more simple, such as dipping fresh baked pretzels.

Giving the flavors a day to settle in gave this mustard a completely different vibe. It went from a subtle tangy kick to an all out spicy attack on my taste buds, which I must say I enjoyed wholeheartedly. The level of heat you prefer can be negotiated. If you want a spread that is less spicy, do not grind the mustard seed too finely. The more you grind the seed, the spicier your mustard will become…

For my recipe, head over to Eat Boutique!

Sometimes I’m busy…

30 May

Sometimes two months goes by and I’m all like “Didn’t I just update my blog last week?”. No. That was 10 weeks ago.

Since then, I’ve turned another year older. Driven the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Francisco. Saw President Obama’s motorcade. Purchased a second car. Built a fence out of wooden pallets. And I’ve started running again.

I’ve been enjoying the warmer New England weather and the outdoors in general. The flowers are starting to bloom and there is life in the backyard again. One of my favorites, the columbine, is a simple flower that has welcomely taken root throughout my yard, and its seed pods make it super easy to spread to new spots.

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While out for a walk a few nights ago, Joey and I came across this wooden rocking chair sitting next to someone’s trash barrels ready to be destroyed. We headed straight home, got in the car and claimed ownership. It’s rock solid, for real.

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In addition to the rocking chair, I’ve added some new plantings over this past weekend, including the pink lupines below. They fit nicely in the border under the birch tree clump that I planted last year.

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I’ve been working on some food related posts which will I’ll be sharing in the near future…but I guess I have been busy, just not blogging. And I miss it. And I’ll be back more often.

Simple Spaghetti Squash

18 Mar

spagsquash-4Since my garden has an aversion to allowing squash plants to thrive, spaghetti squash, luckily, is easy to obtain throughout the fall and winter in the produce section. There are countless ways to use the meat of this squash – bakes, au gratins, pancakes, etc. – however, the purest way to enjoy it is to simply slice it in half and bake.

Once you scoop out the seeds, place in the oven and cook for about an hour. In the meantime, you can chop up some of your favorite herbs, combine them with butter and have them ready and waiting when the squash is out of the oven.

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The presentation is always lovely and is another added perk of this squash variety. Plate it with some fresh baked corn muffins and roasted Brussels sprouts for a healthy and filling meal. If you know other ways to utilize spaghetti squash in a recipe, please share in the comments below.

Click here for the recipe on my post at Eat Boutique!

Anise Sugar & Thyme Cornbread

1 Feb

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Cornbread is always a pleasing and filling addition to any meal it accompanies. This cornbread is no different. It’s filled with fresh thyme and sweet anise sugar – adding a unique element to an already tasty side. 

I came up with this recipe while working on my latest post for Eat Boutique. If you want to make this to warm you up in the middle of winter, head over to read about my Cast Iron Skillet Herbed Cornbread.

Cranberry-Orange Anise Pecan Christmas Cake

24 Dec

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Sometimes you have an idea in your head of what you are going to bake. You have the recipe in front of you. There are pictures. It’s all quite simple to follow, really. And then…your simple change of making a bundt cake instead of two loaves throws a wrench into the ENTIRE recipe…because you’ve poured the batter into the cake pan and it’s already baking. That’s when you (I) realized that the crumble top that gets BAKED on TOP of the cake cannot happen now. Time to reassess.

It’s also the afternoon of Christmas Eve…and this is a dessert for, oh, three hours from now.

So, first thing that pops in to my head is a simple icing for the top. I then took the pecans I had remaining and toasted them with brown sugar and, get this, toasted anise spice sugar! It’s perfect for my Italian family, who are all obsessed with anything anise flavored. Continue reading

Last-minute Christmas to-do list… (Now with added hypens!)

23 Dec

 

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Are you totally waiting until the very last minute to do EVERYTHING? Yeah, me too. That was not the plan though (it never is). Although I was able to knockout the remainder of my Christmas shopping yesterday, I still have to go out and brave society at Christmas time in the stores because I forgot to get a Yankee Swap gift. I also have to…

  • Drink coffee
  • Go to the grocery store for ingredients
  • Figure out what ingredients are needed before going to the grocery store
  • Make food things: antipasto, cheddar & walnut stuffed mushrooms, desserts, etc
  • Figure out what “desserts” and “etc” will be made, then revisit ingredient list
  • Drink Coffee
  • Pick-up 2 pounds of tuna sashimi from Turner’s (a holiday tradition for about 7 years now)
  • Make place cards for the table
  • Finish wrapping gifts (with the help of the pug of course)
  • Make a cup of my favorite new winter cocktail and post it here ASAP!

Okay…so maybe it’s not all THAT much, (maybe it is?!)  but it’s not like I can sit around and watch holiday movies and the 10 episodes of Parking Wars I have DVR’d. Not yet anyway…

Hopefully you’ve got your stuff together a little bit more than I have.

Chestnut Stuffed Mushrooms (and holiday gift ideas!)

11 Dec

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My most recent post for Eat Boutique focuses on using chestnuts as the main ingredient in a filling and seasonally mouth-watering stuffed mushroom. 

Over the past few weeks the air in New England has been changing. It’s a familiar feel that brings an open-arm embrace to sweaters and hooded sweatshirts while at the same time an outstretched grasp hoping to cling to a few more days of warm weather. Fireplaces begin to smoke and the scent of burning wood while working out in the yard brings about a certain hunger. Thoughts of consuming recipes composed of  heartier elements than most that I have eaten over the past few months begin to invade my cravings.

The seasonal changes of fall bring about the recollection of roasting chestnuts in the fireplace while growing up. The uniquely brown nuts marked with an “X” pattern would line the outer tiles of the fireplace hearth, slowly roasting until their aroma filled the room. My family would eat them together as soon as they were cool enough to peel, but we had never used them in a recipe.

Chestnut-5Recently, while consulting with my hunger, I sensed that these hard-shelled delights might work well in a stuffed mushroom. I combined the fresh chestnuts with local leeks and hand-picked apples from a local orchard, then added some Manchego cheese to round out the flavors…

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To read more and to get the recipe, head on over to Eat Boutique! While you’re there, check out the gift boxes and individual items in the shop! I had the chance to sample (and purchase!) many of the items available at the Eat Boutique Holiday Market in Boston this past Sunday. The items and packages you will find easily make perfect gifts for someone on your list (or treat yourself!). 

My favorites include the Mexican Chocolate Almonds from Q’s Nuts (made right in my neighborhood!), Donovan’s Cellar Ginger Spiced Beets and for someone special, the Joy the Baker Gift Box which comes with Sweet Brook Farm Maple Syrup,  Sweet Revolution Caramels and a 14-oz bag of Marge Granola – oh, and a signed copy of Joy Wilson‘s cook book!

A new endeavor…

22 Oct

I am excited to announce that my first post writing and photographing for Eat Boutique, an online magazine and market,  is up! I truly admire the aesthetics and ideas behind what they have accomplished, and I am honored to be a part of it, in whatever small way I am able.  I urge you to go check out eveything they have put together over the past several years.

Below is an excerpt from my first contribution on how to make a delicious and filling veggie taco (Hint: Fried Green Tomatoes).

“Being a carnivore married to a vegetarian can sometimes be a challenging adventure. Over the past ten years I have been enlisted as a vegetarian-by-default at many a meal. During this time, however, I have grown to appreciate plant-based foods in ways that still surprise me. Using vegetables in unexpected places to fill the void in a meatless marriage has become a skill I am still honing, but there are those moments when a vegetable dish leaves me completely satiated.

Vegetarian tacos have been a recurring presence in my kitchen and typically involve a frozen meat substitute defrosted and flavored with a taco seasoning packet – and a lot of cheese. This dish, however, has none of the previously mentioned vegetarian taco curses. Using the leftover green tomatoes gathered from my garden right before the first frost settled in, I refocused the vegetarian taco into an exciting, fresh and multi-layered delight.”

Click here to read the rest of this post and to view images of how beautiful this dish is….

Peanut Sauce Blue Cheese Burger & Friend.

24 Sep

I was craving a bunch of things to eat this evening when I got in from work. I decided to put them all onto burgers and combine the goodness into some seriously flavorful bites. 

I found my favorite peanut sauce at the store the other day and have been dying to put it on something, anything, since I picked it up. I also wanted cheese. I haven’t had any since Saturday. This is a huge deal. 

Instead of dipping the cheese into the peanut sauce and satisfying my desires while at the same time ignoring thousands of years of evolution, I thought it might be nice to be civilized and eat a proper meal. Hence my burger idea. 

I mixed the meat with some garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and grilled. Then took two routes.

Burger One: Apple (fresh picked at the orchard yesterday!) and Brie.

Burger Two: Blue Cheese (Bleu d’Auvergne), Onion, Peanut Sauce. 

I started out eating the peanut sauce burger first. Then switched to the brie and apple. There was some intense flavor action going on between the two as they fought for dominance over my tastebuds. They kind of complimented each other though. And I am happily satiated because of it.  

Stitch by KMIDesign – Cambridge, MA

9 Sep

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Here’s a post about one of my favorite Massachusetts designers Kate Maloney Interiors (written/photographed by my favorite person!). Check out Kate’s storefront, Stitch, in Cambridge, Ma and see all of the uniquely awesome items she’s picked up to pass on to you!

Originally posted on Joe And Sometimes (y):

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Ever look at a shelter magazine or blog and see spaces that look frigid and sterile? You sit and wonder, “Does someone actually live there? Ok, clearly these people don’t have kids or pets or personalities.”  Well if that is your impression of what high-end interior design looks like, look again.

Cambridge based Kate Maloney Interiors creates gorgeous spaces that are meant to be lived in by the whole family.  Kate and her team infuse each project with a quirky mix of pattern, color and texture.  Though usually not one for labels,  Kate’s style could possibly be coined as, “Cantabridgian Chic” or perhaps “Boho Modern.” Whatever the label you come up with, each home is always a great balance of the old and new; creating spaces that are timeless, stylish and always functional.

Established in 2003, Kate’s design office recently expanded to include a new retail venture called Stitch. “After…

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Fresh Fried Eggplant Slices

8 Aug

So I was very excited to find that the first thing ripe and ready to eat from my garden was an eggplant. I had never grown an eggplant before, and it seems to require little attention and maintenance to get to the eating stage.

I cut this little gem off from the stem with much excitement. While I have plenty of recipes in my mind that I am going to utilize eggplant for, having just one small eggplant limits the extent to which I can carry through on those ideas at the moment. 

So, with it being the middle of a lazy Saturday afternoon, I glanced around my kitchen and decided I had the ingredients for frying up some eggplant slices. First thing I did was cut the eggplant into about 1/4 ” slices and pressed them while I got everything together.

The Italian in me knows that the best way to prepare eggplant like this is to salt the slices and press out the excess moisture – and if you listen to my mom who listened to her mom who listened to her mom, it’s best to prepare ahead of time and leave overnight if you can.  But, in real life, when I just want to eat fresh food by frying it up in oil, twenty minutes will totally suffice.

Once the eggplant is pressed, coat with fresh breadcrumbs (or, if you’re like me, use the can you found in the back of the pantry shelf that was probably opened three years ago and is 3/4 empty…either way works.) Then…fry it up!

Drain the eggplant as it comes out of the pan and set it aside while you cook up the rest. Plate and serve with a fresh tomato sauce (or, again, follow the path of the breadcrumbs…) and eat it all in under five minutes while sitting on the couch catching up with your DVR. Or, you know, you can serve it to friends/family in a civilized manner if that’s your thing.

To Make:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Eggplant sliced into 1/4″ pieces (or more than one, depending on how many servings you’d like)
  • Oil (enough for frying, heated in skillet/pan)
  • Breadcrumbs (1 cup)
  • Pasta Sauce (or other dippy yumminess)
  • 1-2 eggs heated

Recipe:

Dip eggplant into eggs and then coat on both sides with breadcrumbs. Place into hot oil and cook until browned on each side. Place cooked eggplant on paper towels to drain excess oil off. Repeat process until all all cooked. 

Plate and serve with sauce.

Fast And Easy Falafel Lentil Loaf.

9 Jul

Yeah, this recipe does have a lot of letter “L’s” in it. Rest assured, they will all stand for “love” once  you taste this dish. This has been a staple dinner recipe in my home for quite a while, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s simple to make.
  2. It’s inexpensive.
  3. There are always leftovers to enjoy the next day.
  4. It’s healthy.
  5. It’s filling.

The ingredients are most likely things you’ll have around your kitchen anyway. I always check to make sure I have the basic components (canned lentils, jarred roasted red peppers, falafel mix) in the pantry at all times.

It’s really great on those nights when reality hits. Those times you barely got yourself home from work and somehow forgot that you still need food before the evening is through. (It’s also really great on those nights when you plan ahead for it, too.)

Basically, you throw the seven ingredients in a bowl. Form that mixture into a loaf and put it in the oven. Wait a short while and dinner is served! It’s not hard. It’s super easy food for times when life is hard/annoying/too fast. 

How To Make:

(serves up to 4)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 ounces falafel mix
  • 1 can lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of chopped baby spinach
  • 1 12-ounce(ish) jar roasted red peppers, cut to 1/2″ pieces. Reserve 2 Tbs. of liquid from jar.
  • 2 eggs
Recipe:
 
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, including the 2 tbs of liquid from pepper jar. Mix well.
 
Form into a loaf on baking sheet with aluminum foil or other non-stick layer.
 
Bake in preheated oven set at 375° for 35-40 minutes. 
 
Eat on its own, or combine with a fresh vegetable or other side dish. This also goes really great with this easy to make peanut sauce recipe!


Make a Gooseberry Smoothie.

7 Jul

For some reason, this past week has seen me and smoothies having a serious love affair. I’ve been loading them with strawberries and kale and raspberries and blueberries and anything else I could find fresh. When the produce available at my local grocery store wasn’t cutting it, I ventured on over to my local farmers’ market. There were plenty of vegetables and fruit to choose from. Looking around, I was drawn in by the large, oddly shaped gooseberries. They look like a grape, but at the same time, not at all. 

I remember tasting one last year and enjoying it, but didn’t buy any at the time. They are often used for baking and are featured in pies and other desserts. They are also used to make beverages such as wine and tea. And smoothies.

 

Now, I wasn’t quite sure what to combine with the gooseberries, but something told me mango. So I did that. And some fresh blueberries. And honey. I added in some frozen peach slices as well for temperature control (I also used some frozen vanilla yogurt for this). A splash of vanilla flavored almond milk to round out the liquid portion and…

It was pretty darn refreshing! And apparently also very energizing, as after having one I went on a six mile walk. For real. 

Recipe…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of whole gooseberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 3 frozen peach slices
  • 1/2 mango, cut up
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen vanilla yogurt
  • 2 Tbs raw honey

To make:

Add all of the ingredients into a blender. Turn the blender on. Mix into a smoothie. Drink. (I know. It’s incredibly hard to make.)

Will make about 2 cups worth of liquid smoothie goodness.

Avocado, Corn & Asparagus Salad

3 Jul

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to spend the day on Cape Cod with my pal Molly and our beaus. The day consisted of walking to the beach, swimming in the pool, laying in the sun and eating food. Lovely summer food. 

I stole a recipe from that day and you’re about to read about it below. It was a fresh and brightly flavored succotash/salad. Local picked corn, purple asparagus, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, lime and herbs. Simple. And simply delicious. It is a perfect dish to bring to any Fourth of July cookout.

I couldn’t find any purple asparagus when I made this for a family gathering, but I think I was the only one who cared about this. I put the corn, peppers and asparagus on the grill. While those were cooking I picked fresh herbs from the herb garden and cut up the avocado and cherry tomatoes.  Once everything was ready I combined all together to make a filling side dish. Continue reading

Cheesy Bacon Jalapeno Grits, Deviled Egg Style.

25 Jun

This weekend one of my best friends (Shari!) and I took part in the Boston Bacon Takedown. Twenty home cooks creating dishes all using bacon fifteen pounds of free bacon. Last year the two of us were so impressed by all of the entrants, we decided that the following year we would give it a go. And we kept our word.

We decided to go the savory route instead of the sweet route. Last year the sweets just were a little too much, and there was an overload of maple accompaniments which after two or three recipes using the same groundwork became just a bit too much to enjoy. And we were blown away by last year’s winner who made an asian inspired taco that was insane.

Our entry? Cheesy bacon jalapeño grits, served deviled egg style. Topped with bacon, of course. The concept came to me and I thought it was a pretty safe bet. After boiling and peeling FOURTEEN DOZEN eggs, I was having second thoughts. At this point, however, my thumb was barely intact from being impaled by egg shell and it was too late to turn back.

The grits portion was a mad science experiment that actually succeeded. We started with 36 cups of liquid, boiled it, and added 72 ounces of grits. Once that thickened up, we added Gruyere cheese. And then we added some cheddar cheese. And then we added some more cheese. From there on in, it was anyone’s guess how this thing was going to turn out. It took about forty minutes for us to tweek it to perfection.

All totaled, we put in about 6 decent sized jalapeños. Somewhere around 8 tablespoons of Sriracha red chili paste. About a cup of lemon juice. Six pounds of bacon cooked and put through a food processor. A few cloves of garlic. Some dijon mustard. Some melted bacon lard.   And of course salt and pepper to taste.

WHAT!?! It worked. It was delicious.

While we didn’t win (first place went to a caramel bacon candy – sweet won this year, who would’ve guessed?!) My favorites this year included the bacon corn dog and the bacon wrapped blue cheese meat balls.

We also came home with a few parting gifts from Le Creuset, which is never ever a bad thing.

Now, does anyone know how to remove the smell of fifteen pounds of cooked bacon from one’s home?

Recipe:

Okay. Let me be real here. I have no idea what quantity of anything was used. All I can say about this is start out with some grits in a pan. Then, add in cheese until it suits your taste. Add in a decent amount of cooked bacon cut up in a food processor (or chopped…). Then, add in pepper/garlic/dijon mustard puree, salt, pepper and sriracha until it starts to taste awesome. Then, add lemon juice! (This was Shari’s tip and it made a HUGE difference. The Greek in me should have known this. The Greek in Shari did.) Finesse until you are blown away. Eat plain or stuff into a hard boiled egg. 

Easy To Make (and eat) Peanut Sauce.

30 Apr

As a teenager, I spent most of my free time hanging around Harvard Square in Cambridge. You could find me either sitting in “the Pit” with friends or browsing about the stores at The Garage for music, apparel and random accessories to add to my wardrobe.

You could also find me at the Thai restaurant around the corner. I don’t remember the name of it (but they definitely knew me and my friends’ names). It has long since closed. But I know that is where my love of peanut sauce began. And my taste buds will forever be thankful.

I will admit to putting peanut sauce on anything that is edible. Pasta. Cheese (with or without crackers). Vegetables. Chicken. Hamburgers. Rice. It really does work with (almost) anything. Even on ice cream? I’ve never tried, but I can totally see it working out for you. Continue reading

Shortbread Pop Tarts.

25 Mar

Homemade shortbread pop tarts? Uh-huh.

I had been looking for a way to make pop tarts from scratch. The filling was the easy part, the crust is what was perplexing. Recipes I had seen all call for making the crust with pre-made pie crusts. Meh.

Let’s be honest here, pop tarts don’t taste like pie. That’s why Hostess Fruit Pies exist.  So all of those recipes calling for pie crust use in this case are wrong. (Or, at the very least, terribly misguided.) After much consideration, I decided that the best option for crust would be a homemade shortbread crust.

As my friend Shari would say: Holy cats!

The shortbread is sweet and buttery and delicious. I flattened the dough into small rounds, placed some decent quality mixed berry preserve in the middle and topped it with another flattened dough the same size as the one on the bottom. These would definitely make Lorelai Gilmore go nuts – aside from the make it from scratch part.

Slice off the sides to give the pop tart its shape. Then, put in the oven for 20 minutes. Once they’re done, take them out and let cool. Drizzle the icing onto the top and add sugar. It’s really that simple.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter (unsalted)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • jar mixed berry preserves
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • decorative sugar

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Mix together the butter and sugar first. Make sure the butter is room temperature so that it mixes well with the sugar. Once they are mixed, add in the salt and gradually add in the flour.

Next, chill the dough for a few minutes until it is easy to form little pancake like shapes. Put a heaping tablespoon of preserve in the middle and spread around. Cover with another pancake shaped round of the shortbread dough. Trim the sides into a pop tart shape/size.

Once they are formed, put on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

While that cooks, mix together the confectioners sugar and milk. (Add in the milk one tablespoon at a time to be sure the icing doesn’t become too runny.)

Take baked tarts out of the over and put on cooling rack to cool. Drizzle on the icing glaze mixture and top that with decorative sugar.

Parsnip & Leek Smash

8 Mar

Parsnips and leeks, you say? Indeed. And with the addition of a little creme fraiche, this turns into a delicious side for any meal.

This is a great substitute for boring mashed potatoes, and though it’s simple to make with just three ingredients, it has a complex flavor that you’ll be craving time and time again. And it’s a pretty healthy dish, too.

Ever since I started adding parsnips into my regular rotation of vegetables, I have not been disappointed. The albino cousin of the carrot doesn’t particularly look like more than just an ordinary root, but it has a nutty flavor that really stands out. I prefer to leave the outer skin of the parsnip on, as it isn’t very thick and adds a nice texture.

These parsnips were given to me at the end of the growing season in late fall and I just now have gotten around to using them. They were grown organically at a local farm and were stored properly for a couple of months, allowing the fresh flavor to last well into winter.

And lest we forget the other main component of this dish, the leek. I find it is another underutilized vegetable with a lot of flavor. It’s related to onion and garlic, and works very well together with the parsnips.

Once the veggies are cut and boiled, put them in a bowl and use a potato masher to smash them all together. Add in the creme fraiche, salt and pepper and plate next to your main dish.

To make:

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized leeks, cut into 1/2″ rings
  • 1 pound parsnips, skin on, cut into 1-2″ chunks
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and add parsnips and leeks. Let cook in boiling water until soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from water and place in a medium sized bowl. Smash up the leek and parsnip together until mashed together. Add in creme fraiche, salt and pepper and mash together some more. (You can make this as smooth/chunky as you want, I prefer it somewhere in between.)

Plate and serve. You could garnish with nutmeg or a small dollop of creme fraiche.

Roller Derby #10

7 Mar

Here’s an old photo of an old skateboard I took about two years ago. I really love the color of the board and the worn out nature of the wood.

It sat here on display in my dining room for quite some time, and now resides in the same room, but in a different location.

Letterpress Weekend Course: Day 2

26 Feb

Today was the second and final day of my weekend letterpress course. Remember how much in love with it I was yesterday? I still feel that way. And will definitely be investing in one of these machines (albeit most likely a much smaller one) in the not too distant future.

The machine we used today to print our designs was a Chandler and Price machine manufactured in 1902. It uses nothing but the power of your own arms and legs. It’s a workout and a creative design session all in one.

The creative part came to me a little too late however. I had no idea what to make. I was over-thinking it all weekend to the point where my mind could not decide on anything. Business cards? Greeting cards? Coasters? As I was gathering materials this morning, I still had no clue. Joe(y) had suggested I make recipe cards, so that’s what I did, sort of.

I made the design. It was a half-postcard half-recipe card hybrid, apparently. I enjoyed having to put everything in reverse. Where the top is at the bottom and the left is on the right. It fits in with my day job quite well as I view reversed images all day long. My brain easily adjusted to this part.

Next, I set the locked frame into the machine and applied the ink color that I had mixed together.

Once the machine had been set and inked, the actual printing process was quite speedy. I realized I probably should have made my form a bit smaller, and not the exact measurements of the size paper I would be using. I know better than that. I just wasn’t thinking.

In turn, I lost one of the lines I set in the process in order to be sure everything else fit it.

While I am not quite sure what exactly I made today, I love that I made something and understand how it all works now.

I have been wanting to learn this craft for a long time now, and have finally done just that. I’ll most likely be going back for open studio time in the near future, this time with an actual design and project in place.

Cheesy Mushroom Risotto Fritters with Beet Hummus.

21 Feb

First of all. Can we talk about the color of the beet hummus? These pictures have not been enhanced in a way that has changed the color of the hummus dramatically. It actually looks like this in real life. And you can eat it. And it’s all okay.

Beets have been a favorite of mine for a while now. You can pickle them. Put them in a salad. Slice them and make chips. Put them in chocolate cake. (Yes, you can. My pal Joy the Baker shows you how.) The list goes on.

I put them in hummus this time around. And then paired that with cheesy mushroom risotto fritters.

Although it involves a little more time than some dishes (because you’re making the risotto from scratch) the reward is definitely worth the effort. You could actually make the risotto as a dish on its own for one night, and then use the leftovers to make the fritters the next. You could. I couldn’t, I don’t have that kind of patience.

The risotto and the beet hummus really compliment one another well, and the hummus transforms itself into a dipping sauce of sorts for the fritters.

Once you’ve cooked the risotto, you need to let it cool for about an hour. This is the perfect time to make the beet hummus!

Now that you’ve made that (it is insanely simple to make), set it aside and let’s get back to the fritters!

Take the cooled risotto and shape it into little patties. Throw those into some hot oil (I prefer grapeseed oil for frying) and brown ‘em up!

At this point of the process, I had made myself pretty freaking hungry. Next step is easy, just plate it and indulge.

How to make the risotto fritters: Continue reading

Vinyl Devotion.

4 Feb

I feel weird posting a blog that does not revolve around foodage. What the what? When did this become a food blog?

Sometimes I do think about things other than food. This is one of those times.

I got this lovely piece of equipment at a yard sale back in 2002. I spent $25 dollars on it. Twenty-five. It’s a Morse/Electrophonic AM/FM radio, 8-Track player and record player. It came with about 18 8-track tapes as well. (Including an Elvis Christmas, Heart, Billy Joel, Carl Perkins, and the B-52′s, amongst others).

It lights up to the beat when you play music. Or talk radio. Or NPR.

Ever had an audio/visual experience while listening to Prairie Home Companion? It’s not that exciting. I should probably stick to putting the lights on only when there are strictly songs playing. I’ll work on that. Continue reading

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