Blueberry Afternoon Snack Soup – 15/67

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So I quite liked this recipe, but I’m having trouble wrapping my head around when it’s appropriate to eat. It was introduced to me as a soup. But when I hear “soup”, I think savory, and savory this is not.

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So I guess it could be dessert soup? But I’m not sure that’s a real thing, and anyway this isn’t quite indulgent enough to count as a true dessert. Counterpoint — fondue. Fondue is like chocolate dessert soup. Hm. Maybe this is like blueberry fondue? I do think it would be nice with some shortcake “croutons” or a skewered marshmallow cutting through a fountain of it, but I still don’t think dessert is the right category.

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After I decided it didn’t accompany the pasta salad I planned to serve it with as dinner, I added some chia seeds and let it sit overnight. And it thickened slightly to create a psuedo-chia pudding, which apparently is an appropriate breakfast food! So maybe this is breakfast? It’s still pretty sweet, but so are pancakes and waffles. Eh, I’m more of a toast and eggs kinda gal for breakfast. Okay, so perhaps not breakfast.

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I think I’m landing on a refreshing afternoon snack. Especially when topped with extra berries and a little batch of lemon cream (from this cake a week or two back) and a couple indulgent chocolate curls. I’m pro-chia seeds regardless. That’s a fun texture. I happily ate a little bowl of this everyday this week after work and before I started thinking about dinner. So yeah, afternoon snack it is. I hope you make and figure out where in your life it fits in.

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one year ago: nothing of note but want to hear about my recent breakfast discovery? Whole wheat sourdough toast with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh mozzarella, strawberries, basil, and flaky salt. Heck yes.
two years ago: nothing of note, but I recently made this tomato egg noodle soup (with added CSA greens) for dinner and it was just like in China and I want to make it all the time.
three years ago: rice noodle salad with carrot ginger dressing
four years ago: tatsoi and tofu stir fry with soba – I have a bundle of tatsoi in the fridge now, waiting to be put to use in this recipe!

Blueberry Afternoon Snack Soup

from my Aunt Beth A

1 pint blueberries + extra for topping
2 cups water
¼-½ cup sugar (the lesser works just fine!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup yogurt
mint, shredded

Chia seeds
Lemon cream
Chocolate curls

In a medium pot, combine blueberries, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until blueberries start to fall apart. Remove from heat and cool a bit.

Pour mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Put in fridge and chill until cold. Stir in yogurt until no clumps remain. Serve in small bowls, topped with fresh mint. 

If you’d like, add in a tablespoon or so chia seeds per serving and let sit overnight. Eat the next afternoon with lemon cream, extra berries, chocolate curls, a swirl of yogurt, and/or more fresh mint.

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Buttery Gnocchi with Roasted Cauliflower – 14/67

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a night by myself (weekday version)

Come home from work, fight with Alexa to turn Brandi Carlile on
Leisurely wash kale, leaf by leaf
Spend a while perfectly julienning a red bell pepper
Hover by the stove while the water comes to a boil for gnocchi
No rushing, all peaceful, purposeful knife work
No measuring, just glugs and sprinkles and dashes
My kind of meditation.

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Watch an episode of chef’s table or something else food porn-y.
Ravish a bowl of salty buttery carbs AND a big old green salad.
Balance.

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Force Daniel to eat leftovers when he comes home at 10pm because I really don’t think this will reheat well the next day.
(He obliged, but we still had leftovers)
(They were fine, but coulda used some additional brightness on Day 2)

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~~~
Here’s the recipe for that bowl of salty buttery carbs. In a rare move, I made the cauliflower too salty (and couldn’t blame Daniel). Be aware that each part of this dish is salted, so don’t go too heavy handed on any one part. I’m really excited about this easy, filling, quick dinner. A good one to keep in your back pocket.

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some good kale salads from the archives: kale, sumac, and crispy rice salad, honey mustardy goat cheese kale salad, miso ginger kale salad, kale caesar salad, mustardy kale, potato, and green bean salad. Wow, I’ve posted a lot of kale salads. The version I made myself this particular evening had massaged leaves, julienned sugar snap peas, blistered red peppers, and scallions with a basic vinaigrette.

Buttery Gnocchi with Roasted Cauliflower

thanks to Aunt Ingrid for this one, who can always be depended on for a yummy recipe

Olive oil
Coarse salt
1 big head cauliflower, in medium florets
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 scant cup panko
1 pound gnocchi
1-2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425F.

Combine cauliflower, a couple glugs of olive oil, and some pinches of coarse salt. Place on a single layer on a tray (or two). Roast until brown, flipping occasionally. For me this took 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up another tablespoon or so of olive oil in a big saucepan. Add garlic cloves on low heat. Cook until you can smell them, about 1 minute. Add panko and a sprinkle of salt and turn heat up to medium-high. Cook until panko is evenly browned and toasty, stirring frequently. Remove from pan.

When cauliflower has about 15 minutes left, start heating up a big pot of water. When it’s boiling, add a big pinch of salt and your gnocchi and cook according to package. (I cooked mine til they floated to the top of the pot, about 4 minutes.) Drain.

Melt butter in the saucepan you used for panko. Add gnocchi and cook til browned, stirring frequently. This will take a couple minutes tops.

Serve with gnocchi on the bottom of your bowl, followed by cauliflower, followed by a shower of garlicky panko crumbs. A green salad is a great accompaniment.

 

Healthyish Strawberry Chocolate Chips Muffins – 13/67

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Picnic season! These adorable, healthyish strawberry muffins were the perfect fruity pop to add to a spread. Although I can’t say they were the first thing gone, as they had to compete with tiramisu and two other cakes. Is that peak Brooklyn? Homemade tiramisu at a picnic? Or maybe it was 7+ things of hummus. If you have a picnic in Prospect Park and there aren’t at least half as many hummus tubs as people, did it even happen??

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And I’m just going to let these pictures speak for themselves today. We broke out the real camera and gave these ruby spring babies a true photo shoot! Mmm.

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Some Notes — I tried to follow the recipe exactly but I kept adding and changing. The recipe below is as it was given to me. Here’s how I modified —

  • Added a pinch or two of salt with dry ingredients. Go for it.
  • Subbed in about ¼ cup of whole wheat flour. This really made it taste healthy. Use at your own risk.
  • I added some crumbled freeze dried strawberries at the end to half the batch. Definitely not worth it. Muddled the yummy fresh strawberry flavor.
  • I sprinkled half the batch with demerera sugar before baking. It did not caramelize the top or add any extra crunch. Wrong batter, wrong oven temp (I guess). Don’t do this.
  • Instead of using all applesauce, I used one of those little cup things and used melted coconut oil for the rest. I think this was fine.
  • I used a whole egg, not just the white. Felt wasteful to just toss the yolk. I think this was fine too.
  • These are on the moist side, and get moister overnight. I recommend toasting or eating on Day 1.

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Four years ago: black bean, mango, corn salad-alsa — another great picnic idea

Healthyish Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

From my friend Katie – thanks! 

1 ¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 egg white, beaten
⅔ cup diced strawberries
⅓ cup mini chocolate chips
Nonstick spray

Preheat oven to 350F. Set out 10 muffin liners in a muffin pan and spray with nonstick spray.

Mix together flour, baking soda, and cinnamon in a big bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the sugar, brown sugar, and applesauce until there are no clumps remaining. Whisk in the egg white.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Don’t overmix! Gently fold in strawberries and chocolate chips.

Scoop into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out cleanish (there are a lot of chocolate pockets — don’t let this fool you.)

Best day of, but can keep in an airtight container on the counter for a couple days.

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Simple Lemon Berry Cake with Lemon Cream – 12/67

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The past weekend has felt approximately two weeks long. I feel like I just need to document it all so I remember in 20 years what a lazy “stay at home” long weekend was like right before I turned 30. Thanks for joining me for this xanga entry! 

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Friday – Went to grocery store, casually made this cake for tomorrow’s BBQ, meandered to local bookstore and ended up with a copy of Indian-ish which I cannot WAIT to cook from, met friends at a bar and bragged about my new cookbook. Then came home and made a riff on this soba tofu bowl for a dear friend who came over for dinner. After she left, friend from Boston arrived to stay the weekend. Late night catch-up ensued.

IMG_036586F1A670-F948-441E-A6A3-98C406F06CD6Saturday – Coffee and bagels, then a yoga class. Don’t recommend that order. Took ferry(!) to Astoria for lovely rooftop soiree. Brought cake, with frosting in its own refrigerator bag. Not the easiest cake to travel with, but definitely not the worst. Ate my weight in salads and dips and veggie burger (just one, to the chagrin of the hosting couple who are now left with three mediocre frozen patties). Left BBQ early to rush to BAM for a DanceAfrica performance that blew my mind. Home for frozen watermelon drinks and another late night.

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Sunday – brunch and omg this weekend is killing me. How do people maintain this lifestyle? Ask questions later! Let’s go into the city! For Chinatown noodles, a crowded salsa bar, and cocktails around the corner. Another late night.

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Monady – byyye friend, have a safe drive, and oh shit we’re supposed to bring things to a BBQ. I didn’t prepare cake in advance, dang. Whipped together this really delicious artichoke white bean dip (but parsley instead of basil because I thought it went better) and Ottolenghi’s gingery cucumber salad from Plenty, which I thought would complement the various izakaya-style organ meats being grilled. (I cannot attest to its success in doing that, but it was mostly consumed, so I’ll consider it a success.) Then I fell into a stupor on our couch.

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I’m exhausted. And now I go to work. xo, gossip girl.

IMG_2118IMG_2120A couple things about this cake — this is a really easy and really delicious cake to whip together at the last moment if you know someone is coming over. The only tricky ingredient it has is pre-made lemon curd. I bought the Bonne Maman variety, which I’ve been eating with a spoon ever since. It makes a surprisingly luscious topping when beat with fresh whipped cream. Also, I didn’t feel like splurging on fresh berries, as I knew we had a bunch of frozen ones in the fridge. I ended up with half a cup of frozen blueberries, then picked the other half cup out of a bag of mixed frozen berries. A couple blackberries made it in too. They were also delicious. No need to be picky about your fruits. I forgot the demerera sugar on top, but don’t think I missed it.

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I talked about a different blueberry lemon cake recipe on here some years ago. That one is a decadent layer birthday cake, not to be confused with this delicate, weekday-afternoon-appropriate version. Both are hella delicious.

Simple Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream aka the Best Psuedo-Frosting

from my friend Liz!

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup sugar
zest of one lemon (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, room temp
½ teaspoon (or a bit more) pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (whole or 2%)
¼ cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw)
1 ½ tablespoons turbinado sugar (I forgot this…)
fresh berries to serve (optional)

Lemon Cream

I doubled the original recipe and did not regret it. This is the ratio I used —

½ cup heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons store-bought lemon curd

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan (I used springform but it isn’t necessary). Cut out a circle of parchment paper for the bottom of the pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Put the sugar and lemon zest in a big bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix together with your fingertips to combine, until the mixture is sand-like and smells like lemon candy. Add the butter and beat for 3ish minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. (I used my Kitchenaid but hand mixer should work fine.) Beat in vanilla and the egg until combined. Add yogurt and beat well.

At low speed, beat in half the flour. Then add milk and beat until just combined. Add rest of the flour and mix until just combined.

Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pan. Scatter berries on top and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cake is golden-brown and a tester comes out clean.

Let cool for 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto a rack. Peel off parchment and let cool all the way. Invert again onto a nice plate.

Meanwhile, back with your mixer, beat together the whipped cream and the lemon curd until creamy and thick. This took 3ish minutes for me. Texture should be the consistency of yogurt. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Dollop lemon cream on top of completely cooled cake. Top with fresh berries, if you’d like. Let your guests gush over how good this simple cake is.

Liz’s notes:

  • You can substitute ½ cup buttermilk for the yogurt and milk
  • This cake bakes quickly. (true!) Start checking it at 20 minutes.
  • Cake can be made one day in advance — just wrap it well in saran wrap overnight. Lemon curd can be made 8 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Maple Sesame Salmon – 11/67

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My little sister is officially more educated than I am. I mean, she was always on the fast track to becoming an adult before me. She had a job with a regular paycheck (and benefits) way before I did. She’s been a vegetarian since before it was cool. She actually knows how to (and enjoys) exercise. She sets her sights on what she wants to do and does it! Multiple half-marathons, check. Wants to go on vacation in a year? Buys her tickets healthily in advance and plans a sensible itinerary. MSW? Check. Sigh. I’ve officially worn matching socks without holes in them all week, so that’s a thing.

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My parents hosted a little gathering to celebrate her achievement with close family and her grad school friends. A lovely bunch of pesca-vega-tarians. Toasts were made. The grads’ altruism and friendships were rightly lauded. We went on a still unnamed boat and ate lots of good food. The sun showed up after a long morning of rain. And then I watched my first ever game of thrones episode, the series finale. (Probably not the right time to start watching.)

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I happily helped prep food the afternoon leading up to the party and was happy to learn my mom was planning to make one of the salmon recipes from my book. Alright sure I’ll check a recipe off the list! This fish was so easy to make, and it received rounds of compliments at the table. Paired really nicely with an orzo salad and grilled vegetables. A perfect first outside meal of the season. A perfect way to tip a hat to hard work and new beginnings.

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Such a beautiful place to cook. And eat.

two years ago: garlicky tomato zoodles
(nothing of note in years one, three, or four)

Maple Sesame Salmon

thanks Mom! Note – this exact same recipe works really well with sweet potatoes replacing the salmon. Click here for details of this revelation!

2 lbs salmon cut into serving size pieces (my mom says “skin removed if you remember to ask at the fish counter”)
⅓ cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ cup sesame seeds (I did a mix of white and black)
Chopped scallions to serve (optional)

Combine maple syrup, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic. Pour over fish fillets. We did this in a shallow baking dish; a ziplock bag would also work. Let marinate in the fridge for at least ten minutes, or up to 8-9 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. (Update! My mom says she always does 425F, even though the recipe says otherwise.) 

Take fillets out of marinade, drip dry, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (keep the marinade!). Then, sprinkle fish all over with sesame seeds, pressing them in a bit to help stick. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a small saucepan or skillet. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Serve salmon with thickened maple sauce and sprinkle of scallions.

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Sweet Potato Tahini Buddha Bowl – 9/67

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Daniel was supposed to make a chicken recipe a week while I was in Russia (so, 5 recipes total). He was going to blog them and it was going to be great. Well, this site still has 0 chicken recipes, so you can see how well that went. He did make one recipe but took no pictures of it, so here we remain. Sigh.

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I can’t blame him too much. Cooking requires time and love and follow-through, which I am only sometimes in the mood for. Tonight I was in the mood for it. My lovely friend Caroline gave me this recipe and said it seemed like something I would really like. Accurate, as I have made many versions of meals similar to this. I hope you’ll forgive me, Care, for adding extra things and making this far less simple than you intended. I had the time tonight. Recipes are for breaking, right? I veered from the recipe by pan roasting the chickpeas a bit and adding spices (I don’t like them straight out of the can), and adding brown rice, some crunchy veggies, and sesame seeds. To make it a “buddha bowl” I put everything in a giganto bowl that appeared in the mail while I was in Russia. (Did someone send us this? I think they got our registry mixed up with someone else’s but … now I have a great giant bowl and I love it.) It’s as full and rounded as Buddha’s belly.

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There’s another recipe on this site with very similar ingredients, just combined slightly differently (and kale would be great here too). I like this version more for a quick weeknight meal – you don’t have to wait as long for the sweet potatoes to cook, since they’re cut into small cubes. Also its called a Buddha bowl, so it’s automatically healthy 🙂

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Meals like this are the best after traveling for a while. This bowl was my post-Guatemala craving and mmm here’s my savory granola I invented after our Jordan trip. We did have a kitchen in Russia, so I wasn’t forced (ha) to eat 3 meals out a day, but it wasn’t so easy to cook. We couldn’t find some staples — tortillas, coconut milk, black pepper, chickpeas, most leafy vegetables, popcorn. The house we were in had one LOUSY glass cutting board, no can opener, and really abysmal knives. I managed roast cauliflower, a mushroom pasta, and many eggs, but that was about it. Feels good to make food exactly as I want it, then eat it.

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one year ago: anyone else currently reading The Power? I can’t decide if I like it or not…
two years ago: eggplant salad and goat cheese sandwiches
three years ago: herby sunchoke gorgonzola salad
four years ago: grilled pineapple and baked bean tacos

Sweet Potato Tahini Buddha Bowls

inspired by my friend Caroline

Roast sweet potatoes
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 big sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
s&p

Combine everything on a roasting tray or two (keep veggies in a single layer!), and bake at 425 for 30ish minutes, mixing halfway through roasting.

Chickpeas
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Coconut oil
Salt, smoked paprika, cumin
s&p

Heat a medium saute pan and add a bit of coconut oil. Add chickpeas and spices and cook over highish heat for about 5 minutes, until chickpeas are charred and smell awesome. Stir frequently so they char all over.

Tahini dressing
1 clove garlic, minced
3ish tablespoons tahini (I just scraped out the rest of my jar, so this is a rough estimate)
Juice from ½ a juicy lemon
1 tablespoonish olive oil
Small dollop of honey (oops I guess this negates the veganness – can use maple syrup instead)
s&p
Warm water

Combine everything except warm water in a measuring cup, and mix with a fork. Add water a bit at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Cooked brown rice
Thin sliced shallot or red onion
Sliced cucumbers
Halved cherry tomatoes
Enoki mushroom – I added half a package to the sweet potatoes when they were halfway done roasting. They added a funky, almost noodle-y texture and great flavor. Yum!
Chopped parsley
Black (or white) sesame seeds

Combine in bowl as you wish. Post a picture to instagram. Eat!

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Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Hamantashen – 8/67

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Thanks, Mom, for including a hamantashen recipe in my bridal shower recipe book. Always keeping my Jewish education thriving, thanks 🙂 Although I have not been to a Purim celebration in well over a decade, when I recently saw photos on social media of others’ celebrations, I paid a bit extra attention. If I’m going to make hamantashen this year (and I HAVE to, as they’re in the book!), this was the week to do it. So, despite some pesky other life things happening (aftermath of getting married, prepping to go to Russia for 5 weeks, first explorations of our instant pot…), I made cookies.

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These cookies are so much quicker to make that I remember. I whipped the dough together (only a fork necessary!), put it in the fridge for an hour while we ate dinner, and then baked them off before meeting friends for a drink. Boom boom done. Phew.

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Daniel almost never eats sweets lying around. For example, I have been eating leftover wedding cake from the cake stand with a fork every day for the past week, and Daniel will only take a bite if I literally stick the fork in his face. He is much more interested in the jars of pickles he’s been stockpiling. And yet! These hament-ocean (as he says, to rhyme with the scotch brand Auchentoshan) keep disappearing! I should know him well enough by now to know that fruity sweets will always win him over, but I’m still wrapping my head around this concept.

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I even made a savory variety, hoping that would save me from the duty of finishing the full batch. Alas, I do love a good savory pastry (shout out to Bakeri’s savory galettes and kale rolls that I miss dearly), so this technique supremely backfired. I think I ate all the savory ones, oops. I highly recommend you experiment with this. It was a little weird, because the dough is on the sweet side, but I’ve decided it worked. 

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one year ago: nothing of note, but did you know you can make black bean soup from UNSOAKED BEANS FROM A BAG in an instant pot in less than an hour?? this SK recipe was our magical dinner last night.
two years ago: italian egg drop soup
three years ago: roasted chickpeas and kale stuffed sweet potatoes with tahini sauce
four years ago: pasta with smoked scamorza and tomatoes

(Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese) Hamantashen

I halved my mom’s recipe and it was plenty of cookies for the two of us plus a friend or two. Probably 15-20 cookies. To make more, just double the recipe and create two ovals of dough to chill in the fridge. I did two fillings — plum jam (thanks Aunt Beth B!) and the savory one roughly outlined below.

1 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 pinches salt
¼ cup oil
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange juice

FILLING: jams, caramelized onions + goat cheese, butterscotch chips if you have them leftover from your fancy challah toast, etc

In a big bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt with a fork. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the oil. Add egg, vanilla, OJ, and mix to beat up egg a bit. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in liquid mixture. Mix with the fork until a soft dough comes together. You can use your hands to knead a couple times at the end. Form into a rough oval. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Flour your countertop lightly. Unwrap dough and roll out to about ¼ inch thickness. Dip the rim of 3-inch drinking glass in flour, then use it to cut circles from the dough. Place ½-1 teaspoon of filling in each circle. Draw up three sides to make a triangle and pinch the ends firmly together. They may look wobbly or blob-like but they will still be delicious. Gather up dough, re-roll out, cut out new circles, repeat as necessary.

Place triangles on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. If they slump and lose definition and become even more blobular, don’t despair, a) they will still be delicious and b) try to knead the dough a bit before your next batch. It helped me. 

I kept the onion/goat cheese cookies in the fridge and the others in Tupperware on the counter.

Onion Goat cheese filling approximation – Melt a knob of butter in a small pan. Add a pinch each of cumin seeds and mustard seeds. After they splutter, add thinly sliced onion. (I had half a red onion in the fridge so used that). Cook down for about 30-40 minutes on very low heat. Add a small spoonful to each dough round, and top with goat cheese. I sprinkled nigella seeds on a couple before baking, which never hurt anyone. Next time, might try with less sugar in the dough, and adding some thyme. 

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Sicilian-Style Baked Eggplant Roll-Ups – 7/67

EHKCE

How to combat the 6 Weeks Til The Wedding nervous energy:

  • Wine. Wine helps.
  • Be nicer to Daniel. We’re both doing lots of things. I am better at some and he is better at others. Good to remind myself of that.
  • Now would be a really good time to find that “my personal fitness routine” that I hear other people talk about but … it’s just so cold outside. All I want to do is eat cheesy things and cuddle. My body is my body and my body likes cheese and this is what my cheese-loving body will look like at my wedding.
  • See and connect with married friends to see how to make this easier for myself, and see what ideas and decorations we can stealimean borrow.
  • Continue to see friends for dinner, meet my fiance for randomly fancy cocktails just because it’s Wednesday, go to salsa classes, cook healthy things, don’t eat a whole wheel of brie. You know, keep life going.

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What not to do:

  • Spend hours on Pinterest. Boo Pinterest.
  • Spend hours on Etsy. Boo Etsy.
  • Keep procrastinating booking a makeup person.
  • Plan a giant month-long work trip the week after the wedding. Whoops, can’t help that one.

I’m  going to keep reminding myself that however this day turns out, I will be surrounded by my favorite people in the world, in my favorite city in the world, and will probably get to dance a lot, eat a bit, and hug a whole lotta people.

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So, back to one of those tips I gave myself — cooking! Here’s what we made for dinner last night, straight outta my bridal binder cookbook. This was really delicious! Might simplify it next time, doing more a lasagna style bake than the roll-ups. A little fussy but still doable on a week night (plus, leftovers for days!). Here’s how I did it.

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one year ago: nothing of note but I made this chickpea curry this week for a quick pantry meal and it was soooo good 
two years ago: erm, nothing, how about a mango mezcal margarita? (this would be a great wedding cocktail!)
three years ago: roasted tomato and kasha bowl
four years ago: butternut-tahini mash

Sicilian-Style Baked Eggplant Roll-ups

thanks to my friend Rachel

¾ cup golden raisins
2 eggplants
Tablespoon or two olive oil
8 oz fresh mozzarella
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
½ cup basil leaves, torn
24 oz jar prepared arrabbiata sauce (I used most of the jar)
3.5 oz jar prepared basil pesto (I used most of the jar, probably about ¼ cup)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Fresh parsley
2-3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Soak golden raisins in warm water. Set aside for at least 15 minutes, then drain.

Slice eggplants the long way, so you have 8ish long slabs per eggplant. Brush with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and grill on a flat pan until tender, about 2 minutes/side.

Preheat oven to 400F. Spoon about ⅓ cup arrabiata sauce into the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish.

Set aside about two-thirds of your eggplant slices (the longer, most supple ones). Finely chop the remaining slices and put in a big bowl. Add to this bowl: a couple tablespoons chopped fresh mozzarella (about ⅓ of your mozz log), olives, basil leaves, most of the raisins, red wine vinegar, ½ cup arrabbiata sauce, some salt and pepper.

Lay eggplant slices out on your cutting board. Spread a dollop of basil pesto over each slice. Put a spoonful of filling on the larger end of each eggplant slice, then roll up. Place rolls in prepared dish, seam-side down.

Spoon more sauce over the rolls, then cover with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with remaining raisins and any remaining basil.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbling and melty. Remove from oven and top with lots of fresh parsley and pine nuts.

I served it with pasta but it likely could stand on its own as a meal. Yum!

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heh, I seem to be an expert at taking up how ever much space is available. Thanks hairy-arm Daniel for this shot 😉

Kale, Sumac, and Crispy Rice Salad – 6/67

img_1086img_1084This marks the first dinner cooked and consumed in our new apartment! (Technically it’s not the first meal because we found a pot and made oatmeal this morning, but this is certainly more exciting.)

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I always think eating take-out for a week will be a fun treat, and then it happens and my body says WHOLE GRAINS and my stress level say I NEED TO CHOP SOMETHING INTO PERFECTLY SMALL BITS. But then my new apartment says…knives? cutting board?! pan and pot?!? You think you’re going to find all that in our unpacked rubble?

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But here we are, four nights in, and we made it happen! This was a fairly easy recipe to get started on, or so we thought. Turns out making crispy rice in a cast iron skillet with no working exhaust fan is a surefire way to set off your fire alarm. Neighbors, I promise, I can cook! I will usually leave our floor smelling tasty and delightful! This was just an unfortunate beginning!

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Daniel and I absolutely devoured this salad. It may have to do with being the first homemade thing in a week, but I doubt it. It’s really a refreshing and delightful combo of flavors. The citrus + sumac is the perfect coating for the kale, the crispy rice complements the dates ideally, and I had to stop us from wolfing down the whole thing so I could bring leftovers for lunch the next day. Even though we didn’t make the rice crispy enough (dang fire alarm scared us from generating any kind of smoke for the rest of the evening), it was one of my most delightful salad experiences in recent memory. Thanks, Karen, for a beautiful meal to remember as the first cooked in our new home.

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one year ago: I still owe us a New Years post from this year, but here is lucky Black Eyed Pea Stew from years past 
two years ago:
miso ginger kale salad (kale salad theme! January!) 
three years ago:
nothing of note, but I just finished this book and I highly recommend it
four years ago:
Bengali hardboiled egg curry

Kale, Sumac, and Crispy Rice Salad

½ cup brown rice
One bunch kale
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon sumac
1 teaspoon runny honey (love this wording)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus drizzle
6-7ish dried dates, diced
3 scallions, chopped finely

Bring some salty water to a boil and add your rice. Cook, uncovered, for just over half an hour, until rice is cooked and most of the water has evaporated. Taste to make sure it’s done, then drain extra water. I would give it a good rinse next time to get rid of any starch.

Meanwhile, separate kale leaves from their stems. Discard stems and shred kale. Place in a big bowl with lemon zest and juice, a bit of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Massage for a minute or so, until kale has wilted and greened a bit. Set aside. (Karen said she usually whacks her kale with a rolling pin to help tenderize it. I’ve never tried this method before, but couldn’t find my rolling pin, so it will have to wait til next time)

Heat a large cast iron skillet. Once it’s hot, dry-fry the rice (aka no oil!) for a minute or two to get rid of any moisture. Remove from the pan, and return pan to the heat. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to skillet and add half of rice. Fry until lightly browned and crispy crispy (or until you set off your fire alarm and get apprehensive about new neighbors). Remove from pan onto paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with second tablespoon of coconut oil and second half of rice.

To make dressing, combine lime juice and zest, sumac, honey, olive oil, a bit of salt, and a grind or two of pepper in a jar with a lid. Give a good shake.

Into bowl of kale, add crispy rice, dates, scallions, and dressing. Toss to mix and dive in!

Whole Orange Dressing Bulgur Salad – 5/67

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At the beginning of this week, Daniel and I made a gigantic to-do list that encompassed moving tasks, wedding tasks, cooking tasks, New Years Eve planning tasks, and general life errands tasks. I am happy to report that we have been gleefully and regularly checking things off the list all week. It’s amazing what can get done when we don’t have to go to an office. And how good checklists can make me feel. So, so good.

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We’ve finalized a rehearsal dinner venue and schedule, bought Daniel a wedding suit, started packing, did laundry, planned a NYE menu, and here I go now, checking off “blog salad recipe”. Progress!

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This is such a smart way to make salad dressing. Just peel an orange (next time I would zest it first to add even more punch) and stick in the blender with the other usual dressing suspects. Loud noise for a moment, and ta-da, an aromatic, sweet elixir to punch up any salad ingredients you have around. I’ll be sure to keep this one on rotation as we approach that time-of-year-when-all-things-healthy happen. 

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The original recipe was called Moroccan Spinach Salad, but I’m not sure I have enough authority to call this Moroccan. It also called for pistachios instead of pepitas — maybe that’s what pushed it towards Moroccan? Anyway, Moroccan or not, this is a delicious combination of flavors. Happy eating in 2019!!

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one year ago: gochujang pasta salad
two years ago: buffalo caramel popcorn
three years ago: quichon de verdures (Mayan veggie stew)
four years ago: hot honey pizza with roasted broccoli

Whole Orange Dressing Bulgur Salad

from my Aunt Ingrid, thanks!

Salad
1 cup cooked bulgur
½ cup dried dates (I didn’t have quite enough dates so added some raisins too)
½ cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 orange, peeled and sectioned
1 or 2 peeled and shaved carrots (I added this on Day 2, hence no pics, but it added a lot!)
Baby spinach

Dressing
1 peeled orange (next time would add a bit of zest too!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup fresh cilantro stems and leaves, roughly chopped

To make dressing: Combine first four ingredients in a blender (or food processor). Once dressing is smooth, add cilantro and pulse a couple times until broken up. Taste and adjust seasoning.

How I would make salad next time: combine all salad ingredients, besides spinach, with dressing. Mix in spinach leaves when ready to eat (maybe with a bit extra olive oil/vinegar/sprinkle of honey). (I ate this for lunch for three days and wished I added fresh spinach each time.)

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