Sweet Potato Kale and Quinoa Fritters

11.22.2016


It snowed for the first time this season on Sunday night - which really means garden kale season is over. It's been so windy and cold the last few days that I've made very little progress breaking down the rest of the plants. As brutal as it is to do in November, I've got to believe I'll appreciate any effort I put in now next Spring. I'm optimistic that I'll get one or two more kale dishes in before the kale is gone... but until then, here what I came up with for this week.

As I was flipping these fritters in the pan, I had these flashbacks to the pumpkin sage croquettes I made a million years ago. Those were the absolute worst. They were so bad that I never posted a recipe for them. I'm going to be honest and say these are "good". They are not life-changing and if you hate vegetables, you will not suddenly love them after one bite. Coincidentally, I ran into my aunt at the grocery store when I was picking up the sweet potatoes. She does not like vegetables and she would not like this recipe :)

There are a few great things about this recipe:

  • Prep // Nearly all the work for this meal can be done in advance and with minimal effort. Make the quinoa at your leisure. Just toss the sweet potatoes in the oven and binge 3 episodes on Netflix. Done
  • Make Ahead // Quinoa fritters keep pretty well and re-heat just fine. Also, they are a great addition to a summer salad in which case you wouldn't need to worry about reheating.
  • Need Cheese // The original recipe called for a greek yogurt dipping sauce... I obviously wanted cheese. I used a bit of goat cheese on each and then shaved a bit of gruyere over the top. Goat cheese? Required. Anything else? Bonus.
Here's how it goes.
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Heat a skillet to medium with a bit of oil. I went with coconut oil but do what you want. 
  3. Gently place flattened balls in the skillet and cook on medium until each side is a tiny bit more than light brown. I think it was about 3-4 minutes a side.
  4. Serve with crumbled goat cheese on each fritter. Then drizzle olive oil and sprinkle a little salt. Done.
Shopping List1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes steamed and pureed. Makes about 3 cups
2 cups cooked Quinoa (e.g. use 1 cup uncooked to get 2.5 cooked)
2 cups kale, finely chopped
2 eggs
½ cup panko
1 good pinch paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
goat cheese
shaved gruyere

cinnamon coffee cookies

11.21.2016


I'm emotionally quite ready for Christmas. I've also nearly decorated the house inside and out. I haven't quite taken down all my decorative white pumpkins yet... but those are just small details. I'll take those suckers down the day after Thanksgiving - and maybe make one more stuffed pumpkin to close out the season.

One of my favorite parts about Christmas is watching the Hallmark Channel's Christmas movies. They are decidedly predictable and often use the same leading women from one movie to the next. I know because the girl I saw today at 9 am was the same one I saw at 5 pm. I've watched 3 1/2 movies so far and there is a solid chance I get in more than dozen in before New Years.

All of the very aggressive Christmas spirit pushed me right towards making cookies after dinner. The Hallmark movie I was watching contained a baking contest between elementary school teachers.... so it just felt right to make my own. I had tagged this recipe when I was flipping through the America's Test Kitchen cookie magazine recently - and it does not disappoint.

A few notes:

  • Cookie Size // Following the recipe sizing suggestions, I ended up with 25 relatively big cookies. I might suggest you make them a tiny bit smaller. You don't necessarily need more cookies... but I'd like them to be a touch smaller. 
  • Cook Time // Watch these babes carefully while baking - because of all the sugar and cinnamon it is a little challenging to see the edges becoming just a tiny bit brown. You really want to pull them right at 13 minutes. Based on looks, they might not appear done... but if you gently touch the edge, you'll feel that it is not raw anymore.

Here's how it goes.

  1. Stir coffee crystals into hot water and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together. Then add in all the remaining spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves), baking soda and baking powder. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with vanilla and then add in the coffee liquid. Be careful that your coffee liquid is cooled - otherwise you'll be at risk of some scrambled eggs.
  4. Add the liquids to the big bowl and combine. Then add in the flour.
  5. Put the dough in the fridge for about 1-2 hours. I started to bake after about an hour ... and the dough was much firmer for the second batch. The firmer the dough the easier it will be to roll into balls.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  7. Ball up some cookie dough (like 2 1/2 inch balls). Roll the balls in a combination of granulated sugar and cinnamon. Place balls on a cooking sheet and bake for 12 to 13 minutes.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack.
Shopping List

2 tsp instant coffee crystals
1 T hot water
1 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3+ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon


a day in rhode island ... and more

11.18.2016

About 5 days ago I was thinking about going to Utah and the Grand Canyon, then I realized I really didn't feel like doing that. I wanted to in principle - but not at this exact moment. At this exact moment, I want to have some slightly leisurely mornings and moderate adventures. After about 4 days of this, I was ready to leave town. I didn't need a big adventure, just enough to say that I did something new.

So this morning, I did some light googling and got barely anywhere. I saw something about the mansions in Newport and then was like maybe there will be some lighthouses near by. I didn't do the absolutely best job planning this day. I inadvertently drove over an expensive toll bridge - TWICE. That cost $8. It wasn't the worst thing to have happened but I also forgot pretzels. I'm rarely without snacks so this was a very weak moment.

All in the day was pretty solid. I saw three lighthouses, 1 deer and zero seals. The lighthouses got progressively better and I'm really happy that I closed out the day at Ned's Point. Everything looks amazing as the sun sets.

Beavertail Lighthouse // Not to start off on a sour note, but this lighthouse isn't exactly worth the $8 in tolls. It's not bad but I think my expectations were too high. It is on an incredible peninsula with tons of shale rock all around. I can imagine it's pretty great around sunrise / dusk / sunset. There is also a lot of open space for kids to run and families to picnic. That being said, I was alone and didn't have a picnic and it was the bright midday light.

Castle Hill Lighthouse // This wasn't exactly the easiest lighthouse to find but to be fair, I was pretty preoccupied talking to my friend Meghan on the phone. It is however worth it when you do find it. In order to get to the lighthouse you have to walk through a wooded path (where I saw a deer!) and the lighthouse just kind of appears. There are a bunch of small little trails that lead to little vistas where you pretty much just see tons of water.

Cliff Walk // I was pretty confused about how to do this. All I was able to find out was that it was 3.5 miles one way and some parts were considered "treacherous". What I know now is that there are kind of 3 primary entrances and that the entrance off Narragansett Ave is the best. I absolutely envision coming back and doing the whole walk with a large iced coffee and lots of girl talk.

Ned's Point Lighthouse // The bright spot in the day. To be fair, the lighting was absolutely perfect and I had eaten a little pasta salad I picked up from Jon's Coffee. They allegedly had good bagels which is why I stopped - but alas no bagels. I've never been to Mattapoiset before but will absolutely come back. It looks so rather ideal.

After about 5 hours driving, I didn't have much in me for fancy dinners but really didn't want my extra fish fillet to be wasted. I think for the first time in my life I actually achieved the perfect crust on a seared fish. I am really proud of myself. For dessert, I had cheddar blasted goldfish and a mini snickers. Life is pretty good.
[1-3] Beavertail Lighthouse
[4-10] Castle Hill Lighthouse
[11-12] Cliff Walk
[13-14] Ned's Point Lighthouse
[15] Pancetta seared cod with gnocchi and kale

fish en brodo

11.17.2016


I might have found a new favorite way to cook fish. It is so shockingly easy. I found it when I was flipping through Better Homes & Gardens magazine while eating an almond croissant and watching the tide come in. So, it was clearly a rough day.

The picture on the page completed lured me in. There were fresh tomatoes and a seemingly uncomplicated recipe for a flavorful fish. Plus, when I see broth.... I immediately see an option for delicious bread to be dunked. This dish will be your new friend. In hindsight the thing about this recipe is that it is essentially like making mussels - but with fish. Making mussels is one of the easiest things and you can do many things to the broth. When I was looking for a link to the original recipe, I found that some people have even tossed mussels into this dish - which makes perfect sense.

Other notes? It's a pretty clear guarantee that this will be one of the last meals cooked from my garden. While it was really satisfying to be eating from the garden in mid to late November, I know that I'm on extremely borrowed time. The tomatoes weren't exactly the prettiest and the thyme is starting to dry out. I loved how quick this meal came together. It's insanely fast without being one of those meal that requires your attention. I spent much of the day outside and bumbling around. A trip to Weir River Farm, browsing at Anthropologie, and a killer yoga class. The farm was amazing.

But - here are a few things about this dish:
  • Tomatoes // Slice your tomatoes extra thick. I cut mine into 1/2 inch slices and they didn't stay together very well. 
  • Fish // The original recipe called for striped bass which my grocery store didn't have. I knew that I needed a white fish and wasn't really willing to pay $10 more for haddock over cod. Cod works fine. It's really the broth that is the home run here.
  • Serving Size // I'm continually cutting my fish servings in half. Recipes routinely call for like 8 oz fillets per person but I'm always happy with about 5 oz. You do what you want.

Here's how it goes.

  1. In a large skillet, combine wine, 1/4 cup water, and oil. Then add in tomatoes, shallots, thyme, garlic, and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for about 3-5 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.
  2. Place fish fillets in skillet and spoon some of the broth over the them. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for about 8 minutes. You'll know the fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
  3. Using a flexible spatula lift the fish and plate in a shallow bowl. Then add tomatoes and broth to the dish. You can discard the thyme at this point and add fresh sprigs for effect.
  4. Serve with toasted bread for dipping in that great broth.

Shopping List (serves 4)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 shallots, sliced 1/4 in
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 lb of white fish (sea bass or halibut preferred, cod works)

sausage and kale stuffed pumpkin

11.15.2016

The last time I carved a pumpkin was 3 years ago. Tonight was a little different though... the goal wasn't to make a decoration but rather to make dinner. I first learned about this stuffed pumpkin concept from a guy at work. We were talking about Halloween and I said how excited I was to have trick-or-treaters this year (optimistically). He said that his family was HUGE into Halloween and one of their traditions was to make stuffed pumpkins that they eat at the end of the night.

Obviously, I had to immediately look this whole stuffed pumpkin thing up immediately... and then take 3 weeks to actually make it. Allegedly, you can use any type of pumpkin for this activity but I couldn't bare to loose any of my decorative white pumpkins until the very end. I actually had everything I needed for this recipe without leaving the house. I opted to upgrade to some gruyere cheese because it was only $4 at Trader Joes - and Gruyere cheese is always a good decision. Bonus points for the kale coming from my garden. It was pretty thrilling to still be eating from the garden almost five months later.

A few things to note about this recipe:
  • Clean out your fridge // This is a perfect opportunity to get rid of all the things about to go bad and/or filling up your freezer. Use whatever cheese you have on hand. The important thing in my book is to have a meat, a green, and a cheese. 
  • Prep ahead // The prep side of this meal is what stopped me from making it at least 3 other times before today. The steps make it seem more arduous than it really is... but the pumpkin carving part is no joke. It might not take A LOT of time but its real physical work as opposed to the quick chop of an onion and then the time spent cooking the onion. Moral of the story is carve the pump ahead of time. You can even do all the prep and stuff the pumpkin probably a day in advance. Just store the pumpkin in the fridge in the meantime.
  • Sides // This meal is impressive - and delicious. But it isn't necessarily enough to be a full meal. I was originally going to serve this will some marinated kale salad but it was raining too hard for me to get more from the garden. Greens are probably a good idea. I might even add in a grain like cous cous, wild rice, or quinoa.
  • Pumpkin // I used a small-ish pumpkin that I bought at Trader Joes. I think it was probably about 6-7 inches in diameter? This size would be ideal for maybe 4 people when served with a side. As a result, I cut the ingredients in half when I was cooking. Just use your judgement. Extra stuffing is a blessing. I literally ate all the extra stuffing and a slice of the stuffed pumpkin.
In the interest of being real confusing about what month it is. I ate this stuffed pumpkin dinner in front of my Christmas tree - which I put up today. I regret nothing.
Here's how it goes.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Cut off the top of the pumpkin and clean it out like you would if you were making a jack-o-lantern.
  2. Combine the bread cubes and Gruyère in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the sausage and break it into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Transfer the sausage to the bowl with the bread and cheeses
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened - which might be about 5 minutes. Add the wine, using the wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. 
  5. Add your chosen green and stir until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Kale might not wilt a lot - mine didn't - but don't worry about it too much.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, Dijon, 2 teaspoons salt, thyme, and pepper until combined to make the custard. Pour the custard over the bread mixture and gently toss to coat. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  7. Fill the pumpkin with your mixture. Hopefully you have extra ... and you can just bake it in a small dish on the side. Fit the “lid" back onto the pumpkin and transfer to the oven. Bake for about 1-2 hours. You'll know its done when you can poke the pumpkin with a fork easily.
  8. About 45 minutes before its done, remove the lid  and sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese. Obviously this isn't required but it'll be delicious. 
  9. Slice the pumpkin into large wedges and serve.
Shopping List (based on this Kitchn recipe)
1 large baking pumpkin (approximately 5 to 10 pounds)
1 (1-pound) loaf day-old crusty bread, such as sourdough or French baguette
1 1/2 cups (about 5 1/2 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese
2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, such as canola
1 pound uncooked Italian sausage or bulk sausage, any casings removed
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 heaping cups greens (kale, spinach, etc), coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half (or 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup whole milk)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for the top

dat super moon

11.14.2016

It feels like we are about three weekends into Fall and so much of my weekend pictures have been at a beach during daylight hours. But, I'm hoping my new camera pushes me to try out different locations and subjects. The recent super moon has been the ideal opportunity to try some new skills... and fail a bit at them.

The super moon is not a new concept except that it's apparently extra super right now. The moon is the closest it's been since 1948. Combined with a perfectly coordinated sunset and good weather, I thought I would take my experiments on the road. Yesterday and today were apparently the most optimal days so I thought I would casually go to the Harbor and take some pictures. Turns out, this wasn't a new idea. I've never seen so many tripods or big cameras in my life. It was nuts.

Despite having looked up "how to photograph the super moon", I never thought to try out the settings before hand. As a result some of the photos were a bit of a fail. Sunday? I only brought my 50 mm lens - but the lighting was the best. Monday? I brought my zoom lens but wasn't sharp enough to get the lighting of the moon and the lighthouse. I actually overheard some guy reading out his settings to his tripod neighbor... but wasn't fast enough to get them in myself. Felt like I was trying to cheat on a high school math test.

But honestly. It was kind of a perfect night. I was listening to a Spotify playlist with my new big headphones, drinking a Dunkin iced tea, leaning on the back of my jeep... just waiting for the moon to rise. And when it did rise? Headphones came off and just listened to the constant sound of cameras snapping away. It might be my new form of heaven.
[top] Monday super moon
[1] Sunday pre-moon rise
[2 - 4] Sunday moon rise
[5] Monday pre-moon rise

a new perfect trail

11.07.2016

I believe we are firmly into the Fall season right now. I know this because all I can see is beautiful brightly colored leaves. I honestly thought last weekend would have been the peak but now I'm convinced it is... right now. So go outside immediately. 

I also know it's Fall because all I want to do is take walks outside. I'm a walker in all the seasons but something about Fall and Spring make me want to explore too. I leave the comforts of my neighborhood and its sea glass walks for trails through the woods, along the marsh, and really anything with a bit of a path. At the same time, I do have a habit of falling back to things that are comfortable ... like taking an easy walk through Norris Reservation in Norwell. 

But the problem with a fallback is that it is often swamped with other people who love that place - and the parking lot gets so full that you can't go there. So instead, you go to Trader Joe's and pick up some of your favorites like diced pancetta, gingersnaps, and multiple types of cheese. But - on the way back from TJ's, I saw this perfectly green field lined with colored trees. Turns out the perfectly green field is connected to a perfectly manicured trail that edges another field. And that perfect trail then turns into a wooden bridge that weaves through the trees and over a babbling stream.

According to this website, the pathway is about 2 miles long but I limited myself to 20 minutes so I wouldn't miss yoga. The path has a little bit of bounce to it as it hovers above the forest floor. I love that they built the path over all the old stone walls instead of through them. In the event I was planning on getting lost in the magic of the pathway, a sudden hail storm really reminded me that I had other plans to get to. 

Moral of the story? A full parking lot can be a secret blessing. Can't wait to check this out after the first good snow fall. It's going to gorgeous.
 

Related Posts: Other trips to Norris with Ruby May, with my baby brother, and the very first trip 

pumpkin scones with cinnamon butter

11.06.2016

For some reason, I've always shied away from the pumpkin craze. I might have had a pumpkin latte once. The idea of pumpkin cheesecake isn't appealing to me. Muffins, cookies, etc. Just not my jam. Tomato jam is however actually my jam. Same for bacon jam.
But I saw this Bon Appetit recipe on either Twitter or Instagram last weekend and felt very compelled to give it a shot. I think I printed it out from my bed on Friday night just so I wouldn't forget. So compelled it fact that I overcame the challenges of finding the canned pumpkin in the grocery store. Seasonal ingredients should be on end caps. Cans of pumpkin? Bottom shelf of the baking row. I don't get it.

A few notes:
  • CRANBERRIES // The original recipe called for some cranberries which probably would have been just delightful... but I couldn't really rationalize a multi-dollar bet on an ingredient. But, I do think it would have been a nice touch. If you make this, know that cranberries aren't required but they would be nice. Get dried ones and chop them up a bit so they are kinda small.
  • BUTTERMILK // I was out of my favorite buttermilk powder substitute - so I really just used almond milk. Not even regular milk. By no means do I think you can get away with any liquid here - but don't stress out and don't buy buttermilk just for the 1/4 cup this recipe calls for. That's dumb.
  • PROCESS // I broke with pattern a bit here and didn't go through the multi-step scone prep I started a few years back. I altered the original recipe a bit to bring in the steps I know are important - like frozen butter. Scones turned out totally fine and I can't really tell the difference. I think if I had been adding in cranberries it would have made sense to follow the tried and true way.
I'll be honest. The scones are good. They aren't too pumpkin-y or seasonally offensive. The real home run for these scones is the cinnamon butter. It's heavenly and totally turns these B+ scones into an A+ home run. Do not skip the cinnamon butter whatever you do.

Here's how it goes.
  1. DRY INGREDIENTS // Whisk granulated sugar, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, cloves, baking soda, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl. 
  2. WET INGREDIENTS // Mix in egg, pumpkin, and ¼ cup milk.
  3. GRATE BUTTER // Using the large holes on a box grater, grate in butter. 
  4. Add butter to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Then add in the wet and mix until you get a dough. If it's too sticky, don't worry about it. It'll get less sticky when you dump it on the floured counter.
  5. Dump dough to a lightly floured surface. If necessary, sprinkle more flour on the top so it's less sticky to handle. Shape dough into a long rectangle about 1½”-thick. This might mean it's about 4 inches wide.
  6. Cut into shapes that you want. I first cut into like 5-6 rectangles and then cut those in half so you get triangles. But honestly, the shape does not matter at all. 
  7. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for about 25 minutes until firm.
  8. Alternate step - You can stop right here... and leave the scones in the freezer overnight. Then in the morning, you just bake them and get freshly warm scones. It's a genius power move.
  9. Brush frozen scones with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until light brown at 400°. Serve with cinnamon butter.
  10. Cinnamon Butter? Add syrup and cinnamon to softened butter. Mix it. That's it. Proportions are up to you but you honestly can't screw it up.
Shopping List
Scones
½ cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 stick frozen butter, plus more for brushing
1 large egg
½ cup canned pure pumpkin
¼ cup milk

Cinnamon Butter
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

alphabet chicken soup

10.30.2016


I've been doing some very adult things recently - both thinking and doing. The opposite of all that is probably making alphabet soup - but I don't care. Life is about balance. And I'll be pretty well balanced for about 6 meals after this giant pot of child's soup.

This weekend was the first one in probably a month where nothing was happening. Not a thing. No games. No plans. Nothing on the calendar. It also happened to come after the longest week in awhile. Some of those events included: Eating this cake, Dinner at A4 in the South End and 6+ hrs driving to CT for the day. On Friday night, my brother and I were turned away from FOUR pizza places while attempting to order takeout.

So this weekend was about doing nothing. I putzed around with the family dog, made this again for Saturday dinner, played with my new camera at the beach, and made this soup. I feel pretty good about it. I didn't even have a BLT. This morning I feel like I saw sunrise for the first time in a week, the weather has just been so gray. All good signs for a good week.

A few things about this soup:
  • CARROTS // do you recognize them? Cause I grew them! Don't they look beautiful and wholesome?
  • ALPHABETS // I might have to put in too many letters - but I don't really care. Soup isn't exactly the place for measuring.
  • SPICY // Speaking of measuring, I definitely mixed up my spices. I meant to grab the paprika but accidentally grabbed the cayenne pepper. So my hearty dash of spice turned out to be slightly aggressive - but it actually worked out. I feel like it makes this soup a bit more adult. I took the edge off the spicy kick with a hefty dash of lemon juice.
  • RECIPE // I originally was following this recipe from Emeril Lagase ... and then after the cayenne pepper incident it all went out the window. So this recipe is pretty based on nothing except what I wanted to eat.
Here's how it goes.
  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add in two chicken breasts. Cook a few minutes each side until lightly brown. The goal isn't to cook them completely since they'll end up cooking in the soup.
  2. Pull the chicken and set aside. Add the onion, celery, carrots, tarragon, and cayenne pepper to the pot. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. While the veggies are cooking, roughly chop up the semi-cooked chicken.
  3. Add the chicken, chicken stock, pepper, squeeze of a lemon and bay leaf. Bring the whole pot to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 35 minutes. 
  4. Add the alphabet pasta and stir well. Simmer until the pasta is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Shopping List (based on this original recipe)
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
1/2 T tarragon
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 T lemon juice
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup alphabet pasta
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