chorizo and potato stew

2.10.2019

I'm always in the market for a new soup that doesn't feel like something I've made before. Soup is incredibly versatile... but sometimes it does feel like all the recipes are the same. Well, this one is different. Very different.

I came across this recipe from Bon Appetit in early January but finally got around to making it. What took so long you ask? Buying chorizo. I was attracted to this soup because it just seemed hearty and flavorful and totally different. It is absolutely all of those things - and more. 

I absolutely love it when I've just finished making something... go to take a taste of it... and and subsequently knocked off my socks. Is that an expression? But when I put the spoon in the broth, I was blown away by the rich, salty flavor. It made immediate sense why the original recipe suggested including sour cream. It's a phenomenal neutralizer and refreshing.

Let it be known that the two keys to this recipe are: (1) chorizo and (2) paprika. 
  • I first used chorizo in a soup back in 2012 by accident. It was a very happy accident and what really drew me to this recipe initially. Finding chorizo was not super challenging but it was more expensive than I wanted to pay. So much so that I half'd the recipe just to cut down on costs. I am just one person, so it's fine. But yes, you absolutely need chorizo for this. No substitutes.
  • Paprika. I've only ever used paprika in small amounts. Recipes normally call for a "pinch" of it but this recipe calls for 1/3 cup! Here are all the other times I've used paprika, just a friendly fyi.
  • Bonus? I crisped up the potato skins leftover from peeling the potato. It was a really wonderful touch and super easy. 

  1. Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pot when the bacon is beginning to brown but not yet crisp. Approx 5–7 minutes. Transfer to paper towels.
  2. Add onions to same pot and cook, stirring often, until golden and softened, 8–10 minutes. Then add garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. 
  3. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Return bacon to pot and then add potatoes, chorizo, mushrooms, broth, paprika, and cayenne. Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat down to just a simmer. 
  5. Let the stew simmer for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Soup is done when potatoes are tender.
  6. Divide stew among bowls and top with sour cream, dill, and a few grinds of pepper.
Shopping List
6 bacon slices, chopped
2 medium sweet onions, finely sliced
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2½ lb. russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ¾" pieces
2 lb. smoked Spanish chorizo, cut into rounds, halved into half-moons
1 lb. button mushrooms, cut into ½"-thick wedges
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
⅓ cup hot smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
2 cups torn dill

funfetti scones

It was my mom's birthday last week and that obviously necessitated a fresh batch of scones. As a family, we default to funfetti on a regular basis. It seemed only natural to make some funfetti scones.

Do you want to know the trick to funfetti? There is none. It's literally just sprinkles in whatever you were already making. A little disappointing right? But that does make it very accessible and easy for people to try. The only thing to take note of is that you don't want to stir too much after adding the sprinkles because it can sometimes make the color bleed. The point of funfetti is not to make tie dye cake, it's to see the funfetti.

I have two methods for making scones. Dairy free with coconut milk or frozen grated butter. I went with this vegan, dairy free scone version for a couple reasons. It is the fastest and the easiest. But, the frozen butter scones are absolutely the best. You can't beat the layers that result from the frozen butter and the folded dough. Next time, I'll try the funfetti scones that way.
  1. Whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. 
  2. Combine coconut milk and coconut extract; drizzle over flour mixture and fold in just once or twice - then add in the sprinkles. Combine all ingredients until flour is incorporated and a shaggy dough forms. 
  3. Divide dough in half and turn out on a lightly floured board. Use lightly floured hands to pat each half into a 6-inch circle. Cut each circle into 6 wedges and gently pull apart. Use a spatula to gently (again) place scones on the baking sheet.
  4. Chill baking sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes while preheating oven to 425°F. 
  5. Brush scones with coconut milk and bake for 16 minutes. Cook until tops are set, edges are beginning to turn golden.
  6. Let scones cool / rest for about 5 minutes before drizzling with glaze. For the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl. Drizzle glaze over scones and sprinkle with sugar. 

Shopping List (based on this original recipe)
Scones 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 tsp lime zest 
3 cups flour 
1 Tbsp baking powder 
1 tsp salt 
1 can full fat coconut milk (1 1/2 cups)
1/8 tsp pure coconut extract 
1/2 cup sprinkles


Glaze 

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted 
2 Tbsp full fat coconut milk 
decorating sugar

easiest chili recipe ever

1.17.2019

Chili is one of those magic foods that gets better the day after you cook it - which is why it was such a surprise that this super easy same day chili was super tasty. We had some people over for the football game last Sunday afternoon and I picked up the ingredients the very same morning. Additionally, this was by far the easiest chili recipe I've ever made although that wasn't even why I picked it from The Feed Feed, I just picked it cause it seemed "healthier" but still appropriate for teenage boys.

I feel like some of my better chili recipes have had multiple layers of ingredients happening. Maybe two types of ground meat or hot Italian sausage or pancetta or bacon... but certainly not only ground turkey. I'll absolutely keep this recipe in my back pocket for the next time.

Just like most things you could make this recipe in either a crock pot or on the stove. I went with a crock pot and snuck in a yoga class while this baby simmered away on my parents counter. A mere 3-4 hours later this chili was ready to be eaten.... and had taken absolutely zero effort from my day. Home run.

Note: if you are going for the crockpot method, transfer the ingredients after step 2 to the crockpot. Depending on how much time you have, the cook time could be 3-4 hrs on high or 8 hrs on low.
  1. Place oil in a large pot and place over medium high heat. Add in onion, garlic and red pepper and saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  2. Next add in ground turkey and break up the meat; cooking until no longer pink. 
  3. Next add in chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and salt; stir for about 20 seconds.
  4. Next add in tomatoes, chicken broth, kidney beans and corn. 
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until chili thickens and flavors come together. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt as necessary. Garnish with anything you'd like.
∫Shopping List
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 pound lean ground turkey
3.5 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cups chicken broth (if slowcooker, otherwise 1 1/2 cups)
2 (15 oz) cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can sweet corn, rinsed and drained

2019 intentions

1.12.2019

I think every person on the internet these days is telling us their resolutions.... and also that they don't believe in resolutions. For the record, I don't believe in resolutions either. They feel like things we want to do but never get around to - or they are incredibly prescriptive and set you up to fail.

With that said, of course I've done some goal setting. In the recent months I have done a better job at some of these areas but I'd like to be better. I considered the month of October to be "Walk-tober" and tried to do 100,000 steps a week. It was a really challenging goal at times but I liked having something to drive me.

Given that, here is what I'm thinking for 2019:

  • 12 Books
  • 12 different restaurants/coffee shops/farmers markets
  • Health goals (good sleep, great water)
  • Continue meditation practice
  • More letters/packages in the mail

So some are numbers based and some are not. I don't want to say 8 glasses of water a day because I'm just not going to be great at keeping track. But, I can keep it top of mind and try to drink more water. I'm already pretty vigilant about sleep but it's good to have that on the list. But here are some thoughts and rationale:

  • Books // We used to read a whole lot when we were kids - but these days I'm sucked into reading random articles on the internet - which is fine but also not. One of the best parts about reading books is passing them along to the next person. I'm also not ashamed of all 12 books being "fun". I don't need to learn anything new, I just need to read. That being said, it'd be great to try a book on mindfulness and maybe one on professional development.
  • Restaurants // I prefer to cook for myself, I like the challenge. I also like the affordability of it. When I'm looking for a coffee or last minute lunch, I find myself going back to the same spots all the time. This goal is an effort to push me to try new things. They don't have to be restaurants even, coffee shops count and so do farmers markets.
  • Health Goals // I have absolutely zero self control around salty items. This will probably never improve, it's just who I am but I can do other things like sleep better and drink more water. Seems like a good place to start.
  • Meditation // Right now I'm an intermittent 5 minute meditator. I feel pretty good about the time but wouldn't be upset if I increased to 10 minutes occasionally. I like the 5 minute threshold because it's like a nice brief reset button. My goal is to actually meditate indoors and not in a yoga class. I lose focus much more easily when I'm in my house.
  • Send Mail // It is so depressing to only get bills in the mail. The only way to fix that is to send more mail to other people and maybe you'll get something back in return. 

2018 Christmas Card = Summer living and loving

1.10.2019

Ah yes. Another year, another Christmas card.

I struggled with this initially. 2018 was a very different year. Yes, every year is different but when I look back on it... nearly every picture in my phone was of house construction. It was almost as though I didn't go outside at all - unless it was to look at my new shingles, windows, or monitor the grass seed.

But alas, after doing some digging I was able to find a bunch of pictures that actually represented the year. There are some house ones in there for sure but it is slightly more reflective of 2018. The year was a whole lot of bagels with my brother, sea glass walks, marsh sunsets ... and house renovation. The summer was very well featured because I was laid off at the beginning of Summer. I had the opportunity to take midweek trips to Martha's Vineyard and go blueberry picking with my neighbors. It'll be tough to return to a life when I have to do things during peak tourist windows. 

I'm not sure what the 2019 card will have on it - but here's hoping that it includes more of all the good things in life. 

Rosemary Lemon Chicken Patties & Parmesan Cauliflower Mash

1.06.2019

I took a health survey earlier this week that strongly recommended I eat more vegetables. I failed at that for several days until today. A trip to Trader Joes for some cauliflower and a nice new recipe that  I found on the internet. I used to get a lot of my inspiration from Food52 but the past few months I've been loving "The Feed Feed". This gem from was found in two great categories: easy weeknight and gluten free.

Overall this meal is incredibly easy to pull together - but even easier if you have an immersion blender and a penchant for not measuring things. I've been doing a lot of baking recently and have only really measured for the raspberry frangipane because pastry freaks me out.

A few notes:
  • Patty size // The recipe originally calls for 4 quarter pound patties but I like smaller patties. I ended up squeezing out 9 from this batch. Admittedly they were not super even in size but I really like the smaller serving.
  • Kid friendly // I don't have kids but if I did, they would be able to help prepare this. You literally put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix it, and then cook it in a skillet. 
  • Cauliflower // A vegetable puree is super easy to make. It looks intimidating but it really is just a two step process and made even easier with an immersion blender.
  • Speedy // This meal comes together very fast - but could be faster. It you want speed, start your cauliflower before the chicken patties. Then you can be boiling your cauliflower while you get the chicken going. Whole meal will take less than 25 minutes!
Here's how it goes.

MAKE THE CHICKEN PATTIES
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the ground chicken, sour cream, rosemary, kosher salt, cayenne powder, garlic paste, and lemon zest. 
  • Divide into patties. Patty size is determined by you - but mix will give you between 4-10 patties. Heat oil skillet over medium heat. Sear each patty for 5 - 8 minutes per side depending on size.
MAKE THE CAULIFLOWER
  • Add cauliflower to a large pot and cover with water. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until soft and tender.
  • Place cooked cauliflower into a food processor with butter and parmesan. Puree until creamy. 
Shopping List
FOR THE CHICKEN PATTIES:
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
2 teaspoons garlic paste
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil

FOR THE CAULIFLOWER MASH:
1/2 cup head cauliflower, chopped into florets (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
Salt, to taste

Jeep Girl

1.03.2019


I wrote this post originally back in November... but it was stuck in my drafts for quite some time... and now it's out of my drafts... and that's a better place for it.

Today we said a final farewell to my old faithful Jeep Wrangler. This car has been the only car that I've ever owned since I was in high school. I remember the day that we bought the car. There are a lot of things that I am sure I forget but this car had some incredible memories in 19 years. I had this car for more than half my life. A person can do a whole lot of living in that time.

But the car has been such a part of my identity in a way. I loved how small it was. I knew every nook of that car. I knew how much space I had for parking, turns, packing, and more importantly ... before running out of gas which I never did once. I knew there was a tennis ball stuck in the corner of the truck for probably the last 8 years. I could have easily gotten it out, but never really got around to it until today.

In a weird way, I feel like saying "good bye" to the old Jeep is a way of me letting go of any baggage and (some) immaturity lingering. At times I can have an incredible case of "grownup" imposter syndrome, and maybe letting go of the car I drove with my first boyfriend will help that. In spite of being a home owner with a mortgage and graduate school debt, I sometimes just don't feel like I'm old enough for any of this. But in reality I really am. At least, the bank who gave me the mortgage believes I am.

In the spirit of saying farewell to the Jeep, I wrote down a bunch of lists of things that happened in that car. I miss it. There is absolutely no way that my modern Jeep Cherokee with electric seats will have nearly as many memories. It's just not possible.

Work // Here are all the jobs that I drove this car to.

  • lifeguarding in Hingham. On several occasions I had to call my dad to pick up the car because it would be raining and I would have forgotten to put up the soft top.
  • interning in Quincy between my junior and senior year of college
  • driving it around Mass during my years in public accounting.
  • driving it to NJ for that summer I lived there
  • back and forth to the airport when I worked for IBM
  • back and forth to the train station when I moved to the burbs
Incidents / Accidents // When reading this list, please keep in mind that it happened over the course of 19 years.

  • I hit the light post in the driveway. Square on. I did not clip it. I am still not sure how this happened.
  • I rear ended a woman in Hingham on my way to get my first bank account before college.
  • One time in college, I came out to the car completely crooked in a parking spot ... and a parking ticket. According to the campus police, a bunch of strong guys probably thought it would be fun to lift the car and move it. Not joking. I didn't pay the ticket obviously.
  • A woman rear ended me just before the 4th of July in Cohasset. She was an odd duck.
  • A pipe flew off a Clean Harbors truck on my way home for Thanksgiving one year and dented the front hood of the car. Could have killed me, but no biggie.
  • But the worst time was the day I graduated from College, I got into a small accident on the highway... and then ran over a family of ducks. Yes, a family.

"Boyfriends" that rode in the car... term used loosely in some occasions. Not that it's a competition, but not every person I dated has rode in my car. I've dated more than 4 people.

  • Chris // driving it to Kingston to see that boy that would never really kiss me. I remember parking it in his side yard next to his Jeeps. He was the first one to teach me about the "Jeep Wave"
  • Justin // driving it to Vermont for a romantic weekend. Picking him up from the airport countless times. He never picked me up from the airport once. 
  • Tom // I was pretty lazy when we dated. I think I made him do most of the driving ... but I'm pretty sure that I drove us to the movies once.
  • Per // Not a real boyfriend, but I did pick him up from the train for a suburbs date. Boys were always rather interested in the fact that I drove an old Jeep Wrangler. Per was one of them. 

Places it's been driven // I am by nature a homebody but that doesn't mean the car hasn't always stayed in the driveway.

  • Furthest South = Philadelphia to visit my boyfriend at the time when I was in NJ
  • Furthest West = Yankee Candle
  • Furthest North = Christmas Cove Maine or Vermont
  • Furthest East = Provincetown? I don't think it ever made it to the Vineyard

Times I remember calling AAA

  • When I got my first flat tire driving to have lunch with my mom. They couldn't figure out where I was so a nice highway worker and his friend changed it for me. Never told anyone that story before... but he said "I wouldn't want my own daughter out here by herself". I did ask them both for ID first. Nerd.
  • Dead batteries multiple times at BC. I habitually forgot to turn off the interior lights.
  • When I locked my keys in the car attending an MBA info session at MIT. After breaking into the car, I then found the keys in the bottom of my gym bag which was on my shoulder the entire time. For what it's worth, we found 4 spare keys in the console of the car while cleaning it today. 
  • Multiple times that summer in NJ for "hose issues". It was a very expensive 3 months. The upside is I did improve my negotiating skills with car mechanics.
  • But the scariest was when I broke down on a highway in Newark, the cars were going by so fast that the car was shaking on the side of the road. I managed to get off the highway (dumb move) and into a dunkin donuts parking lot. I've never been so freaked out for my safety than I was waiting for AAA at that Dunkin Donuts. My bf at the time was in Peru and I remember sending him blackberry messages panicking. 

Things that were broken and I never fixed

  • CD player // this stopped working after year two or so. Technically it still worked if you just wanted to listen to a cd in the exact order and not skip tracks. In hind sight, I think I left my Vertical Horizon cd in the player when I sold the car. It has been in there for 17 years. I'm not kidding.
  • gas gauge // for probably the last two years the gas gauge has not really been accurate. So I would always reset the odometer every time I got gas and refill before I drove 250 miles.
  • peeling paint // for some reason the paint would always peel on certain hinges and mirrors... and not others. I'm not sure why but after fixing it once, it felt like a never ending cycle.

Memorable Passengers

  • Taking my grandfather for a ride one father's day I think. He said he hadn't been in a Jeep since the war.
  • In high school, Taking my grandmother to Hingham for my prom dress fitting appointment. I just scanned a picture of this the other day.
  • While I was in grad school, I drove my friend Will and I to our eye doctor appointments in Belmont. Half way there a spider started to crawl down the front windshield, Will reached out and smack it... and shattered the windshield. He felt terrible. I could only laugh. The spider was dead and that's all that mattered.
  • Driving my sister and I back from Boston on countless occasions. She would be singing like an idiot in the passenger seat... and I'd record her. I still have these videos.
  • One million trips to Dunkin Donuts with my brother. I have no idea how many honestly, like 19 years worth. He grew up from a car seat in the back to the front passenger seat... and even to the driver seat.
Times I remember the odometer
  • 77,777 = August 2009 // driving back from Philly the summer I lived in NJ
  • 100,000 = December 2015 //  I moved home to the burbs from Boston
  • 121,499 = November 2018 // the day I sold the car

turmeric tomato soup

12.31.2018

I treasure a nice, flavorful soup. In 2019, my goal is to make some soups that don't include tomatoes - it feels like I'm always pulling out two cans of diced tomatoes. That being said, there is something irresistible about a good, flavor filled tomato soup. And that is this one.

I found the recipe trolling Instagram one day and was candidly drawn to the turmeric. I know the health benefits of turmeric are numerous. You won't get a whole lot healthier for eating this soup but it certainly doesn't hurt. The flavor is also not bananas strong so even picky eaters (ahem, my parents) would eat this and not even know.

I ended up making this soup and giving most of it away to a 91 year old neighbor. I kept an itty bitty bowl of it for myself pretty much to validate it wasn't poisonous. The recipe does not yield a whole lot. It's really just enough for 2 bowls which might be perfect.
  1. Heat the coconut oil in a sauce pan and fry the onion and garlic for one minute.
  2. Add turmeric and cherry tomatoes, and cook until the tomatoes softens and leave their juices.
  3. Add the tomato can, vegetable stock, apple cider vinegar and basil, bring to boil, cover with a lid and let simmer for five minutes.
  4. Transfer into the blender and pulse to obtain a creamy liquid.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished whatever suits your fancy. 

Shopping List
5 oz cherry tomatoes, rinsed and cut in halves
1 can diced tomatoes with their sauce
½ cup low-sodium vegetable stock
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coconut oil
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
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