Parmesan seared cod with pesto zucchini and lemon zest

8.15.2017


On Saturday, I casually whipped up this seared pesto-y cod dish. It was great. Well on the way home from work last night, I realized I was either having cod for dinner.... or it would end up in the trash. The benefit of buying fresh fish is that you could put it in the freezer.... but I'm not always the best at digging things out of the freezer... so cod for dinner it is!

Juts like the first round of this meal - so many of the ingredients came from my garden. While I'm not opposed to making the same dinner twice, I enjoy the challenge of making something different without a whole lot of effort. I bought this "zoodler" in July on Amazon and had barely used it. I think in my heart of hearts I knew that I only wanted to zoodle sweet potatoes into french fries.... and not as much zucchini into healthy spirals. But- I'm swimming in zucchini now so this is where we are.

A few notes:

  • Fish // This was a 4 oz filet again... and I still think this is the perfect serving size.
  • Zoodles // I am absolutely an amateur zoodler. But, I "zoodled" the zucchini and then took a slightly extended sunset walk while they rested. I saw a video online about how you need to let zucchini drain since it's so wet? I'm not sure but I enjoyed the walk.
  • Pesto // This is the same pesto as I used on the seared pesto-y cod dish. I also used it on two breakfast sandwiches. A bit garlicky for breakfast sammys for some reason but not as obvious on fish. 

  1. Using a food processor, prep and make your pesto. I was only cooking for 1 and not measuring so my ingredient amounts are less than helpful. But combine, a handful of basil, 3-ish leaves of mint, 1 clove of garlic, and maybe 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese. Pulse until it begins to form a paste. Then add in the olive oil while the processor is running. Stop adding oil when you are at the consistency you prefer.
  2. Set your skillet to a high heat with a bit of olive oil. Pat dry your fish with a paper towel and then press into a dish of flour and parmesan (About a 50/50 ratio). Flip and press in both sides of the filet one or two more times. 
  3. Add the fish to the skillet and let cook for about 3-4 minutes on either side depending on thickness. This fillet was pretty thick. Remove when the fish flakes as you fork it. Need more information? Google how to cook white fish.
  4. Make your zoodles... and then toss them in the pesto. Optional? Add some capers. I let mine sit for about 10 minutes while I made the fish and they really softened nicely. 
  5. Plate your fish and zoodles then zest a bit of lemon above it all. Enjoy! 
Shopping List
white fish fillet
flour
basil
mint
grated parmesan
garlic
zucchini
capers
lemon

Cod with basil mint pesto and garden tomatoes

8.12.2017


The garden has been slow going this summer. Each week I think it's going to be the week all the tomatoes turn red... but not yet. I was able to pull out a handful of cherries, grapes, and romas but not the treasure trove I'm excited for.

Meanwhile, I was texting with a girlfriend that I had over for this amazing fish dinner and sent her a few other favorite quick winners. Looking back over the meals there are some really common elements. I always cook with a white fish. I normally use a pork product, perhaps some tomatoes... and cheese is practically a guarantee. That being said, I need to learn how to cut back on the pork and added salt... so tonight's dinner just has cheese. Baby steps folks.

I really love this super simple dish. It is not exactly as easy as this nicoise roasted fish but it is not too far off. There are pretty much 3 steps. 1 - make the pesto. 2 - sear the fish. 3 - cut the tomatoes. Not bad right? I pulled all the fresh ingredients from my garden so I only had to pick up the $3 cod fillet at the store. While I theoretically understand a fillet serving size is 6-8 oz, I always want it smaller. I often go with 4 to 5. In this case, I went with 4 because I had just stuffed my face with some gluten free tortilla chips. All about the balance guys.

Some notes about this recipe:
  • Tomatoes // pick a variety of colors for flavor and look. If this was only red cherries you wouldn't be as excited. In this case, I had some yellows, a red roma, and my new black cherry tomatoes. They are really quite great.
  • Cutting style // It would be easiest to just cut the tomatoes in half and move on, but try to slice them thin-ish. This one makes it lie flatter on the plate for plating ... but also means the pesto really sticks to everything in an amazing way.
  • Pesto // I love fresh pesto. I went nut free on this one ... pretty much because I forgot. But the main goal here was to use some of my plentiful basil. 
  1. Using a food processor, prep and make your pesto. I was only cooking for 1 and not measuring so my ingredient amounts are less than helpful. But combine, a handful of basil, 3-ish leaves of mint, 1 clove of garlic, and maybe 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese. Pulse until it begins to form a paste. Then add in the olive oil while the processor is running. Stop adding oil when you are at the consistency you prefer.
  2. Set your skillet to a high heat with a bit of olive oil. Pat dry your fish with a paper towel and then press into a dish of flour. 
  3. Add the fish to the skillet and let cook for about 3-4 minutes on either side depending on thickness. This fillet was pretty thick. Remove when the fish flakes as you fork it. Need more information? Google how to cook white fish.
  4. Slice your tomatoes and then mix them with a few spoonfuls of the pesto. 
  5. Plate your tomatoes, then fish, and then drizzle more of the pesto on top. 
  6. Enjoy!
Shopping List
white fish fillet
flour
basil
mint
grated parmesan
garlic
garden tomatoes

summer so far

8.10.2017

I'd like to understand why the month of February doesn't move as fast as July. It absolutely flew by. It feels like only a week ago (or maybe two), I was cooking and prepping for this massive party. But in actuality, it's been a month since then. A great month at that too.

I absolutely live for the long days of Summer when you can catch a sunrise, enjoy a full day, dinner on the deck, and take another walk because sunset is just late enough for all this to happen. I try to cram a lot into my summer days like podcast walks, garden time, and blueberry picking - when the timing is right. Normally by this time in the year, I'm in full on tomato mode but the weather this year hasn't been hot enough for the tomato babes. So we are still in the green phase - but it's okay because I can just sit all day and wait.

While the weather hasn't been super compatible with growing tomatoes, it has been good for other things like blueberry picking and casual kayak rides both of which I did on a recent short staycation. Every time I take a day off work, I realize that I need to be better about doing it with a bit more regularity. It's almost as though I let myself get too far into "emotional vacation debt" because I'm not sure what to commit to exactly. So when I take a couple days off... they feel incredible and my "vacation debt balance" gets a boost. That might be a poorly constructed analogy but give it a shot. My love of Summer really puts a magnifying glass on this need. The summer of 2015 was the best because I took six months off. Never been more fulfilled, healthy, and balanced - even though it might have been a bit challenging on the actual bank account balance.

Here are a few pictures from the last month or so ish. I could fill this with sunrise pictures but I'm trying to be diverse and toss in a few other Summer moments. But my sunrise walks make me feel like I'm squeezing out a few more ounces of sunshine before I trap myself in an office.








[1] sunset boat ride through Scituate Harbor. My dad graciously circled the lighthouse so I would get the right lighting for the shot.
[2] I take a picture like this a few times a year. I'm not in as good of a shape as I have been... but still able to make it work. There is something about a handstand that always makes me feel so great.
[3] My garden this year is doing well - but I feel like I'm seeing cone flowers everywhere. My sister planted a bunch but this is a snap of some at the North River Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield
[4] dusk on a hot summer day along Museum Beach in Scituate.
[5] I swear you'll never regret getting up for sunrise. Best case scenario? Bright colors and beautiful views. Worst case scenario? It's cloudy and you get to have some hot coffee in a nice quiet spot before everyone else is up.
[6] The sunflowers this year are so tall. Like so tall. This is one of the early ones that planted itself from last year's seeds. Love seeing it against the American flag.
[7] I have absolutely had less blueberry donuts this summer - but fully managed to have 3 during my birthday vacation.
[8] I frequently see people taking their small dogs out kayaking or paddleboarding in the marsh - so I really wanted to see if Ruby would be interested. She wasn't. She politely sat with me after a lifted her in but the entire time was ready to leap out and flip me for sure. I'm not giving up - but this was pretty fun.
[9] I already did a post on our Vineyard trip [here] - but it was probably one of the best 18 hours of the summer. It was an incredibly long day but totally worth it. Getting to Edgartown light with my brother was super sweet.
[10] In the span of 5 days, I managed to go picking three times. Once by myself (2+ lbs), once with my sister (4+ lbs), and once with my dad (2+ lbs).
[11] My friend Sarah has been home on maternity leave this summer so I've had the opportunity to snuggle this cute baby more than once. He is beyond cute - and when he fell asleep on me? Heart breaker. 
[12] I can be incredibly lazy and just not want to leave the neighborhood beach but I pushed myself a couple mornings to get out there. Snapped this one on a random weekday morning just before sunrise in the harbor. Love these picturesque boats.
[13] I officially kayaked to this beach that I've been thinking about for a year. To be clear, it is not far, nor that intimidating but I always couldn't muster the courage to make it. So on the day before my birthday, I mustered the courage and made it. It's so perfect. I'll absolutely be back again soon. The shells there are different from the other beaches in town.

blueberry ricotta cake

8.06.2017


This recipe has been sitting on my kitchen counter for over a month - so it's good that I finally got to it I guess. The original recipe called for raspberries but there is no good reason for that - especially when you have perfectly ripe and freshly picked blueberries. I was on vacation for a few days and went blueberry picking three times. So, I have a few to spare.

This cake is a homerun on about a million levels but I'll give you a few examples. It's so easy to make. It's incredibly light and fluffy. It's perfectly customizable. As I was making this I was tempted to toss in some slivered almond and swap out the almond extract for coconut. I feel like there are countless ways to just use this simple ricotta cake base. 
 While the original recipe called for a round cake pan, I only had two loaf pans around. Here are my thoughts on that. The round pan is better for presentation sake. Like think about going to a brunch and bringing it like that. But - the loaf pans are better for durability. This cake is so incredible moist that the loaf slices hold together a bit better. It's less fragile and easier to transport. I know this because I put it in my bike basket and dropped one off at my parents house.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a baking pan with nonstick spray. 
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. 
  4. Then fold in butter, followed by 1 cup frozen berries. 
  5. Distribute the batter into your chosen pan(s). Original recipe was 9 in round pan, I went with 2 8 inch loaf pans.
  6. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
Shopping List
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1½ cups ricotta
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup frozen blueberries

nicoise fish with edamame farro feta salad

8.02.2017

I had a bunch of ladies over for dinner one night recently. I was racking my brain a bit to figure out the optimal menu for the occasion. When we go out to a restaurant, we often all end up getting burgers - but that just didn't feel right for a fun summer girls night. I debated kabobs or chicken but those either seemed like a lot of effort or just a bit weak for some fun lady time.

So, we landed on my favorite fall back - a simple white fish dinner. So good. I went straight to Food52 and found this recipe but modified it a bit to make it even easier. While I love a good seared fish (like this baby), baked fish is so incredibly easy especially when you are having guests. You really just put it in the oven ... and then take it out.

Not to beat a statement down even further, but this meal is incredibly easy to make. Here are a few notes:

  • Time // All of the prep is complete in less than 5 minutes. 5 minutes! I spent the most amount of time picking out red and yellow tomatoes to make sure the meal was colorful. 
  • Farro // I am a huge fan of farro these days - and this was a great side for the dish. It only takes about 30 minutes to cook but super hands-off. You don't have to measure any water like for rice or quinoa - just treat it like a pasta.
  • Alternate prep // The next time I make this meal I could absolutely see myself using the same ingredients but differently. I could sear the fish with a good crust and then sauté the tomato olive mixture in a pan. A good blister on the tomatoes would be nice.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Combine the tomatoes, olives, and capers in a bowl. 
  3. Grate the garlic using a hand grater onto a cutting board or bowl. Sprinkle heavily with kosher and combine into a paste then mix in olive oil. This might be a bit confusing but trust me it's worth it. When you are done just mix into the tomato/olive mixture to help distribute the garlic all over everything.
  4. Pat the fish dry. Season well with salt and pepper on both sides.
  5. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of your baking dish and then arrange your fish fillets so they all have a bit of room. Pour the tomato/olive mixture over the fish. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the baking dish.
  6. Bake the fish for about 15-25 minutes depending on filet thickness. You'll know its done when the fish flakes easily. 
  7. Plate the fish over the grain of choice (farro for me) and serve with a lemon wedge.
Farro Side
  1. Cook the farro as directed on the package
  2. Add in feta and edamame
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt for flavor.
Shopping List
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 6-ounce cod (or other) fish fillets, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2-3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1 lemon, halved, plus more for serving

Farro Side
Farro
Feta
Edamame

10 hours on Martha's Vineyard

7.30.2017

As a family we grew up spending many weekends on the Vineyard, so many trips to Felix Neck, Bunch of Grapes bookstore, Chilmark Chocolates, and other vintage gems. The Vineyard in the 90s feels different than the Vineyard now. And while I think that is true, it is also just a bit of a lie. All the same laid back, easy going, casual people are still there... they are just slightly hidden by the hoards of bachelorette parties.

Jake and I rather casually planned a last minute-ish trip down the Vineyard when we both had some time off. He's going away to college in like a month so I'm dying a bit inside and trying to trick him into spending as much time as possible with me. And just like I learned during our Seattle trip, he is a perfect travel partner. He listens to what you might be interested in doing and makes sure that you get to see it. We have the same taste in snacks (Cape Cod BBQ Chips) and stores to browse (anything outdoor-ish). He also doesn't say "up to you" when you ask for his opinion on which sweatpants to get. For the record, I went with "Chappy" sweatpants.

Here's how the longest, best day ever unfolded. We started with our favorite bagel breakfast at home before hitting the road. Despite trying to sweet talk my way into the "good" Steamship Authority parking lot, we had to drive to another one. I normally win with grandfather-types but this was a fail ... but that was legitimately the last piece of poor luck we had for the rest of the day. We made the ferry we wanted and got excellent parking spots for the rest of the day. A true Summer Vineyard victory.

All in it was a super long day... but also incredibly worth it. I can't guarantee that you'll see fireworks twice like we did - but maybe you'll get lucky and see them once. It certainly made waiting for the 9:30 return boat worth it... and getting into our car at 10:30 for the drive home.

Lunch & Chappy
I applaud people that can mentally handle a public bus system - but I am not one of them. So, we were absolutely renting a car. I reserved a tiny little Nissan Versa ... and with my Hertz status figured we would get an upgrade to something slightly better. But - the incredibly nice guy named Ron ... gave us a nearly brand new Jeep Wrangler instead. It absolutely made the day so much more fun.

The obvious choice after getting off one ferry ... is to get on another one. After we left arrived on the island, we quickly picked up our rental car in Vineyard Haven and grabbed lunch in Edgartown. We rather randomly ended up at R+B Eatery and it was pretty perfect. I had a BLT (obvi) and Jake had a burger. The guy we shared a table with thought we were locals - which was pretty flattering. Also, the pasta salad... totally worth it.

For years, it always felt like Chappy was a lot of work - but it turns out it really isn't. We just rolled up to the ferry and then proceeded to drive around Chappy for a couple hours. We hit up the Trustees spots in Wasque Point and Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge. Initially, we were excited about spotting an osprey... and then literally saw like an osprey party at Cape Pogue.


Casual Afternoon
We had initially been thinking of going to Felix Neck - but very much forgot about that. I think seeing all the ospreys on Chappy really distracted us. So instead, we wandered Morning Glory Farms before heading into Edgartown. Those sunflowers? So amazing.

Edgartown will always been one of my favorite places. It's just so picturesque. Standing on the top of the pier offers such an incredible view of the harbor. You are an idiot if you don't make the tiny effort to check this out. Stores we wandered? Black Dog and Backwater.

Our parking good luck continued when we got a parking spot right near Edgartown Light. I've always loved this lighthouse but especially since I saw it for sunrise in 2015. But this was better than that. We walked to the lighthouse taking turns eating BBQ Cape Cod potato chips and chatting. Heaven. Second highlight? When Jake knocked on the lighthouse door and asked if anyone was home. I'm not sure why that is so funny but it was. Perhaps we just really needed pizza at this point.
 
Pizza and Sunset
I'd like to give us nearly a 10 for solid planning. We worked our way clockwise around the island during the day and called ahead hours in advance for our pizza from Wolf's Den Pizza. From the very beginning, we had planned to have a pizza dinner on the beach. Initially I was thinking about Gay Head but honestly we were too hungry - so we went to Menemsha Beach instead. I'm sure that we did this when we were kids too but I'll be sure to do this again. So easy to just pick up a pizza and head for a picture perfect sunset.

Another reason why Jake is a great travel partner? He patiently waits for me to take the picture I'm hoping for. These dumb kids were jumping all over the fish sculpture at Menemsha Beach and we just waited for them to stop throwing sand at each other. Since the early part of sunset was so cloudy, we figured it wasn't worth the wait... and we had a ferry to catch. But we were so wrong. The sky totally lit up. Thankfully, this happened as we were pulling into Vineyard Haven so we scooted over to West Chop to watch the end of the show.
[top] Cape Pogue dune grass
[1] ferry for the ride from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven. We sat on the deck and bought used golf balls off Amazon.
[2, 4] Fog as Wasque Point. It didn't seem like there was fog anywhere else on the island but when we drove up to the beach it was enveloped in a heavy fog. Made everything a little bit more interesting.
[3] Osprey nest. I often see osprey nesting poles around but never with a nest as big as this one. It must be like two feet in depth? No osprey in sight but this was huge.
[5] Cape Pogue beach. Had to wait for all the families to get on the beach to take this shot... but it was worth it.
[6] Adorable "On-Time" ferry return ticket. Kind of wish we realized there was a map on the back before we were in line.
[7] Morning Glory Farm display
[8] Watching the Chappy ferry from the top of the Town Pier. One of my favorite views in Edgartown.
[9] Edgartown Light. There were bees everywhere on the wild flowers.
[10, 11] This is my favorite type of architecture. Old, with flags, and flowers. I'm going to need to learn how they get their hydrangeas so bountiful.
[12] It might look like we were alone but we absolutely were not. So many families all hanging out of the beach having picnics. Since we were so ill-prepared, we sat on the jetty.
[13] Menemsha Swordfish sculpture. Not sure this could be any more picturesque at sunset.
[14] Stumbled upon this killer West Chop view rather by accident. I'm pretty sure that it's actually some how a private little view point, but thankfully nobody said anything as we leapt out of the car for a quick picture.

green tomato garden party

7.27.2017

I feel like I'm constantly comparing this year's garden progress to last year. Are the sunflowers taller? Were the tomatoes a brighter shade of red? Was the dinosaur kale more crinkly? Pretty much the only thing that I'm confident of is that the marigolds are equally crushing it.

I'm very much ready for the tomatoes to ripen. I procured some burrata this week and all I want to do is have a fresh tomato with some burrata, basil and maybe even some farro? Farro has been kind of my jam recently.

So while the vegetable / fruit side of the garden is chugging along, the flower side is blooming away. In the last week the sunflowers have really begun to pop and the white dahlias showed up to the party. The best part about having a cutting garden is being able to bring flowers to people's house instead of wine. I never have wine on hand - but now I always have flowers. Just a bunch of soft, fuzzy dusty miller and a few dahlias? Win.

Here's the update:

  • Dahlias // doing really well. The arabian night variety is still the most productive - but the two white ones are coming in. While I love the romantic look of the Snowbound variety, I think I'm more partial to the more structured Bridezilla variety. I will plant one million dahlias next year.
  • Cosmos // blooming pretty well. I read yesterday that you can use cosmos petals to dye fabric so might look into that. I'm not totally sure how you use these as cut flowers since some of the stems would be so short? It doesn't feel as straight forward as the dahlias.
  • Love-in-a-Mist // Great filler - and super easy to grow but not much more to say about it. Love the varieties in blue shades.
  • Sunflowers // Some of these suckers are so big. I had to cut one last week because it was so big and heavy that it was significantly bending the stock. Seeing the bees on these babies is one of my favorite things. Also, I really need the bees to visit the zucchini plant.


 From the veggie perspective:

  • Tomatoes // All the plants have fruit on them - but you can see which ones are slated to be more productive than other varieties. So far, Black Krim is going pretty strong while Red Lightening is the opposite of lightening. But! Not even a hint of red in there - or yellow in the case of the Orange Juice variety.
  • Carrots // The normal variety is getting real bushy. Not seeing as much success with the purplesnax so I might try and plant another row somewhere else in the garden. Totally a month or so off before a harvest here it feels like.
  • Radish // Love how quick these babes grow!
  • Cucumber // I'm feeling moderately confident about the mexican gherkin. I would say "pretty confident" but I don't want to jinx myself. Please keep growing.
  • Zucchini // This is getting so big. Also all of the articles I read about being able to train this for a trellis feel like a massive lie. I have no idea how that would happen from what I'm seeing.
  • Peppers // Real mixed bag here. I have no idea why some of these plants are so small and others are bigger. Only a few peppers showing up but still very petite. There was so much growth between week 1 and 2 on the pepper I was watching... and now, less so. I've pretty much given up hope on the "Good as Gold" peppers. I'm still going to water and fertilize it, but I'm putting my eggs in the mexican gherkin basket at this point.
  • Eggplant // The purple flowers have showed up so I'm optimistic for some patio baby eggplants in the next few weeks? But, only time will tell.
  • Beans // Harvest city!
  • Peas // Gorgeous subtle purple flowers popped up this week - so hopefully some snow peas in the next week!

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