tomato carrot soup


We are in the midst of a big run of freezing cold days. The weather man said that it was going to be the coldest stretch in 100 years or something like that. So it's really cold.

Despite the temperature, I took a few longer walks yesterday. The first one was at Bouve Conservation in Hingham for about two miles. I was cold but nothing crazy. But towards the end of the day, I took Ruby for another walk through the neighborhood. When we got back I felt absolutely chilled to the bone. In spite of my electric blanket and hot fire, it took a solid hour to feel warm again. It was about 30 minutes in that I knew I needed tomato soup.

I had some carrots leftover from making this soup earlier in the vacation. I googled to make sure it wasn't a terrible idea to combine tomatoes and carrots - turns out it wasn't. Many of the recipes I looked at added cream but I held off. Not only did I not have cream, but I was trying to keep it healthier.

End result? A slightly chunkier soup. Sweet flavor due to the carrots. Perfect for sourdough bread.

Here's how it goes.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Chop carrots, drizzle with olive oil, and lay on a sheet pan. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a dutch oven or pot to medium heat. Add the garlic and onion. Cook until the onions become translucent. Then add in the tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir to combine.
  4. When the carrots are done, add them to the pot to combine. Then use your immersion blender (or regular blender) to puree the soup.
  5. Add back to the pot to keep warm until you are ready to eat.
  6. Serve with torn basil ... and perhaps a sourdough grilled cheese.

Shopping List
1 lb carrots
1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes
2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 small onion, diced or sliced
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
handful of basil, torn

chickpea tomato soup with rosemary


It is probably a bit odd but I gave this soup as a Christmas gift to my grandfather. A gift should be something that you thoughtfully picked out just for that person. It should be influenced by your relationship .... and that's how we get soup as a Christmas gift.

My grandfather is incredibly strict with his diet. It's low sodium to the heavens and overall very healthy - but not incredibly diverse. So, a brand new easy soup felt like a good addition to his freezer. I was doing some googling for low sodium recipes and found this gem. I loved that it was more of a tomato soup but with the added protein coming from chick peas. I have no idea how he feels about chick peas, but I know he does not like kale. This recipe also has kale in it .... but it is good for you! 

All in, this comes together rather quickly initially - but really requires that extra bonus rosemary simmering time. The kitchen smelled so amazing with all the tomato and rosemary goodness happening. I'll absolutely be making another batch of this soup soon. Perfect "take to work and buy a crusty roll" option for winter lunches.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and saute until tender and fragrant, about 6 to 8 minutes. 
  2. Add the broth, tomatoes, chickpeas, parmesan cheese, and pepper. Add the rosemary, basil and bay leaves, cover and cook on low 30 minutes. 
  3. Add the greens, cover and simmer until wilted, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Remove the bay leaves, rosemary sprig, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and top with extra parmesan cheese if desired. 
Shopping List
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 fresh rosemary sprig
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
fresh black pepper, to taste
2 cups fresh baby kale or spinach 

gingerbread monkey bread


Christmas morning is very much about traditions. For as long as I can remember we've spent it at my Aunt's house. There are a few factors that never change: we are always late because of church and the menu. It would be weird if we didn't have blueberry french toast and egg sausage casserole. Even last year when kitchens were being renovated, my aunt still made the dishes and just cooked them somewhere else.

A few years back, I started making monkey bread to bring to the table. Monkey bread is insanely easy and kid friendly. The only thing that is (slightly) complicated about it is when to take it out of the oven. This year my mom seemed disappointed that I wasn't making egg nog monkey bread, but I just couldn't stomach another trip to the store for one more item.

But this morning when I was whipping it up, I added in a few extra spices to transform it from just a simple cinnamon to a gingerbread version. The gingerbread flavoring is subtle enough that if you aren't a fan of the cookies you won't be too upset. A hint of gingerbread goes a long way :)

Here's how it goes.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease your bundt pan
  2. Combine all the sugars and spices in a bowl.
  3. Open your rolls and cut into small pieces. Toss the small pieces into the sugar to coat.
  4. Layer the dough into the pan relatively evenly but also don't worry too much about it.
  5. After you've got all your dough in the pan, drizzle a combination of the melted butter and molasses over the top. Have extra sugar mixture? Sprinkle a little more on there.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool a bit before trying to remove from the pan.
  7. Serve!
Shopping List
2 cans of biscuits (Grands style)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 cup (1 sticks) melted butter
1 tablespoon molasses

chocolate pistachio cookies


We have a cookie contest this coming week at work and despite all my prior cooking efforts, I've never been in a contest before. I wasn't sure where I stood on the contest, was I going to take it seriously and really bring my A game? or keep it casual and do the bare minimum? I think I settled somewhere in the middle.

I did some light googling for recipes last week on the train for inspiration. I didn't come away with any winners. Up until last night I was still planning on some sort of gingersnap situation and potentially dipping it in chocolate. The other option was a pistachio cranberry shortbread. Get it? The red and green cookie. 

But some how this gem popped up and I wanted to give it a shot. I figured the "gluten free" angle might give me an edge in the competition :). The next best thing would be to make it dairy free but that would mean saying farewell to the nutella which seems dumb. It's so good.

I kid you not this cookie is amazing and so easy. I made them in less than an hour before 9 am on a Sunday. They taste like a brownie and a macaroon had a baby. Then we decided to drizzle the baby in Nutella and sprinkle it with pistachio and sea salt. 


  1. Start by preheating your oven to 350 F and lining your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine together the sugar and cocoa powder.
  3. Add in the egg whites and vanilla extract and mix until a batter forms. It'll be relatively thick like a brownie batter.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips and almond flour.
  5. Drop cookie dough onto the sheet pan about 2-3 inches apart. They will spread a fair bit during baking. 
  6. Bake for 9-14 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack.
  7. Do not remove the cookies from the pan until they have completely cooled.
  8. In a small bowl, warm the Nutella in the microwave for a few seconds until smooth enough to drizzle.
  9. Drizzle the Nutella on top of each cookie, then sprinkle on the sea salt and pistachios.
Shopping List (12 cookies)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup almond flour
sea salt
chopped pistachios
warm Nutella for drizzling

butternut squash turkey chili


We had our first snow this past weekend ... which pretty much had me craving all things hot with tomatoes and meat. Options lead to meatballs or chili. I had a pretty long day of looking at appliances at multiple appliance stores... so a low impact chili was the winner.

In the effort to try and switch it up, I pulled back on all the things that have made past chilis amazing: red meat. I swapped out the ground beef and hot Italian sausage for a simple ground turkey. I went heavy on the tomatoes and added in butternut squash. I love the changes.

Some chilis feel a bit sinful in how flavorful they are. Like you know it is loaded up with red meat, then you top it with sour cream and shredded cheese.... and it's amazing. This is a much lighter option. I can't guarantee that it is healthier but it is a good option. 
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. This is for your butternut squash
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic; cook and stir for 3 minutes, then add the turkey, and stir until crumbly and no longer pink.
  3. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans, and tomato paste
  4. season with chili powder and cumin. 
  5. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low-medium, cover, and simmer.
  6.  until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
  7. Lay your butternut squash out on a sheet pan and drizzle in olive oil. Roast in the oven until tender. Depending on the size of your pieces, it could be anywhere between 20-45 minutes.
  8. Serve your chili in bowls and mix in the butternut squash. If needed, add a bit of sour cream - you won't regret it.
Shopping List
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into thin slices
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey breast
2-3 cups chopped butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice)
1 cup chicken broth
2 (14.5 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
1 (15 ounce) can chick peas
6 oz can tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
sour cream

sweet potato and brussel sprout quinoa cakes

I think just last week I was commenting on how unenthused I was about quinoa. I probably said the exact same thing the last time I made quinoa cakes. But, as I was wrapping up my weekend I felt the need to treat my body a bit like a temple. I had some leftover butternut squash chili but for some reason quinoa was calling my name.

I am notoriously bad at cooking grains. I simply can't make rice or quinoa - but give me a rice cooker and I'm all set. I tossed some quinoa in the rice cooker before taking my shower and by the time I was done so was the quinoa.

This meal really came together rather holistically. I literally made it up as I went. Here are some quick notes:

  • Sweet Potato // I have recently fallen in love with zoodled sweet potatoes (ate them 4 meals last week). So I chopped up some that I had leftover. Finely chopping sweet potato sounds like an arduous task which makes zoodling first pure genius.
  • Brussel Sprouts // Admittedly the brussel sprouts make it a little more challenging to form the cakes. I left my sprouts a little more roughly chopped (e.g. big) which was great for texture but made it a little harder. If you are apprehensive, just chop the sprouts more finely. No big deal.
  • bread crumbs // these are essential to keeping the cakes together. Don't skip it. I also feel like you get better results with bread crumbs over panko flakes.

Here's how it goes. Oh, and here are the other times I've made quinoa cakes (201220132014, 2017)
  1. combine cooked quinoa, egg, and breadcrumbs in a bowl. You want the consistency to be very loose since you haven't added your chunky ingredients yet.
  2. Add in your brussel sprouts and sweet potato. You are the captain, as much or as little as you want. Eventually, you want the consistency to be on the wet, loose side but enough that it stays together if you were to ball it up in your hands. I know this isn't a really helpful description - but fundamentally, don't let it be dry and don't load up on breadcrumbs.
  3. spoon the mixture into gentle balls and place into a medium-hot skillet.
  4. let cook until browned and then flip to the other side.
  5. Toss a few extra sprouts in the pan to cook for a topping.
  6. plate the cakes on a plate and scatter with parmesan and capers. Drizzle olive oil over the plate.... and then eat.
Shopping List
for 3 cakes
1 egg
1 cup of cooked quinoa
handful of roughly chopped brussel sprouts (~5) + plus more for topping
1/4 cup finely diced sweet potato
bread crumbs

butternut squash soup


As previously documented, I was responsible for brining two things to Thanksgiving Dinner. Cranberry Sauce... and Butternut Squash. The cranberry sauce went much better than the squash. The squash was too lumpy and unimpressive. I tried to fix it by adding candied walnuts and that was really just a bandaid for a bad dish.

So at the end of the meal, I packed them up and figured I'd try and turn it into soup. The soup was a far greater success than anticipated - and incredibly easy considering I already had a good start on the squash. Squash soup is pretty decent but can be boring or bland. This soup was the opposite of that thanks to the extras that I added: pomegranate, fried sage, and a dash of sour cream.

In the past, I've always just defaulted to adding croutons to a soup but these were great ways to add not only a little extra heft to the meal - but also texture and flavor.

Here's how it goes.

  1. Combine squash and chicken stock in a pot on the stove. Stir to begin blending the two ingredients together.
  2. In a skillet, sautee chopped garlic and then add to the squash pot. 
  3. Blend the ingredients together using either a blender or an immersion blender.
  4. Reheat before serving if necessary.
  5. For the toppings, drop a tablespoon on sour cream on your soup and then swirl it with a knife. Then add in your pomegranate seeds and fried sage.

Shopping List
3 cups butternut squash
3-4 cups chicken stock
2 cloves garlic
sour cream
pomegranate seeds

Maple Orange Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a pretty straight forward dish. It could not be easier to make and customize to your own tastes. You have a better chance of screwing up everything else on your table than the cranberry sauce. 

About a month ago I went to a cooking demonstration at a local appliance store. The chef demo'd brussel sprouts, mushroom bread pudding, and cranberry sauce. My prime takeaways? I don't use enough olive oil in my mushrooms and I've been cooking brussel sprouts all wrong. With regards to the cranberry sauce, I always knew it was easy but they did this great little "make your own" bar thing with it. After making just a very basic batch of sauce, they had different sweeteners to pour over the top of it (whisky based, maple syrup-ish, citrus-ish, etc).

For Thanksgiving this year, I was responsible for butternut squash and cranberry sauce. I'm pretty sure that I failed at the squash. It was just too lumpy and sad. I might turn it into a soup? But the cranberry sauce was a win. Here's how it goes.

Also, the picture at the top shows the progression during cooking. 0 minutes > 10 minutes > 22 minutes. After about twenty minutes, you've got homemade sauce and everyone is impressed.
  1. Rinse the cranberries. 
  2. Place a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and add the cranberries, 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue boiling over medium heat until the berries burst and break down, forming a sauce, 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Taste for sweetness. If it’s too tart, add more syrup – a tablespoon at a time – until the sauce tastes sweet enough for you. 
  4. Remove from the heat and let cool. Spoon into your serving container to serve or store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for 3-4 days. 
Shopping List
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup pure maple syrup + more if needed
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup water 

harvest scones


I've been itching to make scones for several weeks now - and today was the day.

When I put up my Christmas tree last week, I felt like I had some gingerbread scones on the brain. But with Thanksgiving happening, I pulled a switcheroo and went with some pumpkin. I am not a "pumpkin" person per se. I never opt for pumpkin because it feels so abused and sometimes the flavoring is so strong. But, these scones are perfection.

While I love making scones, I sometimes skip it because my method can be so arduous. But when I discovered how to make amazing scones, I just couldn't go back. The frozen butter and then subsequent freezing steps just take it to the next level. But - I just couldn't motivate for all the steps tonight. So instead I took a few shortcuts:
  1. grated frozen butter / absolutely important, can't skip this
  2. after making the dough, shape into a flat disk or square shape then put in the freezer for 5 minutes / no need to roll out the dough just keep it cold.
  3. take the dough out of the freezer, and cut into scones. put back in the freezer for 30 minutes. / this step is another can't miss. it's really important.
The steps might still seem like a lot - but I promise that it is less work than the original steps that include a rolling pin and flour all over your counter. Takeaways? Frozen dough is critical to scone perfection.
  1. Grate your frozen butter into a bowl and put it back in the freezer to keep it cold.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and eggs till smooth.
  4. Add the frozen butter to the bowl and mix to combine. Then add the pumpkin/egg to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together. You might need to add a little milk to get everything together.
  5. Dump the dough into some flour covered parchment. Shape into a disk or rectangle and then put in the freezer for 5-10 minutes while you prep the oven and baking sheet.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment and preheat the oven to 425.
  7. Take your dough from the freezer and cut into whatever shape you want. Place scones on the baking sheet and then put the uncovered sheet in the freezer for up to 30 minutes.
  8. Brush each scone with melted butter and then bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven. 
  9. If desired, make a simple glaze of powdered sugar and milk. Sprinkle the top of the glazed scone with chopped cranberries.
Shopping List
2 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, nutmeg, and allspice
1/2 cup frozen butter
1/2 can of pumpkin
2 large eggs
dried cranberries

Roasted Broccoli Soup


I had broccoli cheddar soup the other day for lunch and it was pretty solid - but like grocery store solid, not like "make at home" solid. It reminded me that I had this recipe flagged from last winter but had not gotten around to it. To be clear, this is absolutely not a broccoli cheddar soup. It's a far healthier version.

This soup is loaded with vegetables and has zero cream in it. In fact, it doesn't have cheddar either. Except for when I decided to cheat and sprinkle a little cheddar on as a topping. But, it is incredibly easy to make. I did this on like a Tuesday night after work and commuting home. I was half planning on just making an egg sandwich and then realized I bought the broccoli over the weekend. Broccoli soup it is.

Here's how it goes.

  1. Prep the broccoli and lay on a sheet pan. Quarter the shallot and add to the pan. Drizzle with olive oil and roast at 425 for about 25 minutes. Turning as needed.
  2. Reserve about 1/4 cup of broccoli to the side (this is for topping).
  3. Add the roasted ingredients, spinach, chicken stock, and parmesan to the blender. Blend until evenly pureed.
  4. Add to a pot and heat until warm. Squeeze the juice of one lemon, and zest in the pot before serving.
  5. Serve!

Shopping List
1 1/4 pound broccoli
2 cup spinach
1 shallot
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 parmesan
1 lemon

back to garden time


It's been about a lifetime since I was in the garden. I think the last meaningful time was when I was prepping for the "hurricane" that never was. The worst part of that was I picked all of this fruit that largely ended up spoiling because I couldn't eat it, sauce it, or give it away fast enough. Quite the bummer.

But this was the first Fall weekend when there wasn't a football game, bad weather, or a birthday party - so I got the chance to climb back in there and see what was left. The weather has been so warm for the last week or so that it almost felt like summer.

After just over an hour, things began to feel under control again. The main goal was to remove dead or unproductive branches. The secondary goal was to trim back the plants a bit heavily so as to concentrate all the growing energy on ripening the remaining fruit. An unexpected result? I ripped out a couple of plants completely.

I do wish I had a couple more hours to get things back to normal for the last week or so of growing - but the super short days there just isn't much time for gardening before or after work. Really took for granted that I could go to work, come home, take a long walk, and spend some time in the garden before it got dark. Now? It's dark before I even get home.


  • ripped out both the Razzle Dazzle 
  • ripped out one of the Red Lightening
  • trimmed back the Orange juice rather heavily
  • could have done more on the black cherry, mystery tomato, black truffle

End result, this cleaning provided a good retrospective of what I really liked about this growing season. Every year I want to plant the black truffle, I always care about checking on its progress. I also really love the cherries but can barely eat all of them (never mind the rest of the produce).

This plant got a lot stronger with the dip September dip in temperature. It really cements the logic that cucumber plants need to go in on the early side to develop better roots. Everything about this babe is heartier. There were a few itty bitty Mexican gherkins hanging around when I peeked under the leaves.


  • PEPPERS // Beyond disappointing. Quite literally 3 peppers all season off of 5 plants? Yes, we had some super windy weather but still. I'm not exactly sure what I would plant instead but these were super dumb.
  • CARROTS // So many. Like, so many carrots. Need to look into how I preserve them for the winter. Something about putting them in a box with sand and straw? 
  • BEANS // I tried to plant a second batch of beans. Didn't take off. They looked good at the start but never took over... even a little. They were so skinny and thin when I pulled them all out this weekend. No sign of beans.
  • KALE // So much kale. One of the great things about kale is how you don't really need to babysit it. It just grows and you pick it. But, right now I could go for some arugula and this weekend I had to buy spinach. I'd like to try and be a little more diverse about this next year. In a fantasy land, I have a tiny cold frame that I keep in the garden to keep greens growing a little longer.
  • HERBS // I have never seen parsley so large in my life. It's like it's on growth hormones but I haven't fertilized (organic) in probably 2 months... The basil is gone and the parsley swallowed the mint whole. I didn't even think anything could kill mint but apparently this parsley has super powers. 

Veggie 2017: hurricane prep [9/17], garden update [9/9], green tomato party [7/27] garden update [7/10], garden decisions [5/27], what I planted [6/16]

foliage fun


Whenever summer leaves, I mourn the end of it hard. I'm not sure what exactly it is that I miss the most. It might be the extra hours of daylight, warmth, and limited expectations for productivity. I expect very little from myself during summer weekends. Take a walk. Take care of the tomatoes. Eat a BLT.

But when October rolls around, I'm full on embracing Fall - especially one with this super warm weather. For the last two weekends, it's been beautiful and the leaves are turning and I'm loving it. I grab Ruby May and we hit the road to stretch our legs. She does not like the woods. So I literally end up lifting her out of the car at every stop - which is fun because she's a 60 pound dog shaped sand bag. 

Earlier this week I had a doctor's appointment which gave me the opportunity to see some leaves mid-week. It was really great. Like, want to do it more often great - which is of course hard because of work. But, I've scouted out a few other spots on the South Shore that could be good pre-work hike/walks or after work hike/walks in the Spring. In particular there is a trail across from a train station that made my heart sing. Every now and then I want to run, and this trail made me want to run.

Here's to celebrating October.

[top] - Jacobs Pond, Norwell
[1] - Triphammer Pond, Hingham
[2] - George Washington Forest, Hingham
[3-7] - Norris Reservation, Norwell

buttermilk mac and cheese


I really love macaroni and cheese. Like, really love it.

It would be hard for me if someone were to tell me that I couldn't eat Kraft Macaroni & Cheese anymore. I'm a bit of a traditionalist. I don't believe in white cheddar, I just want normal Kraft. I also don't put milk in it. I don't like it creamy. I absolutely see my macaroni tastes being one of those things that even on my deathbed I'd have a hard time letting someone make for me. Thanks, but I make my own.

But - I can't reasonably make (and serve) Kraft macaroni to thirty plus people. While it is feasible, it would be pretty odd to invite friends and family over for a 30th Birthday party complete with ceremonial koozies ... and then serve them boxed macaroni and cheese. I pretty quickly found this version of my goal on Food52. The first thing that shocked me was how much cheese and milk goes into making mac and cheese. Before attempting on the day of the party, I wanted to give this recipe a trial run.

After stalling for probably a week, I finally got up the courage to make this meal from scratch. So I was incredibly surprised when it was completely easy and done in less than 45 minutes. Homemade mac and cheese is EASY! I am not sure I can go so far as to say "Easier than Kraft" but it's absolutely faster than Stouffers. And like all my favorite recipes, you can customize the hell out of it.

By the time it got to party day, I was totally ready to make this dish - except when combined with the honey cornbread and the chili, I kept miss counting my ingredients. After one trip to the store for eggs and honey, I couldn't bare another to get more milk - which is how we ended up with buttermilk mac and cheese. I do believe that the buttermilk was a differentiating "wow factor". There is no good reason for people to tell me they loved this dish as much as they did. It was clearly the buttermilk.

So here are some notes:

  • Buttermilk - See above. Really, just use any milk. For the second batch, I had run out of buttermilk and ended up using almond milk. It was fine but the consistency of the creamy cheese was different. Buttermilk is the best milk.
  • Panko topping - This dish had an insanely good crunchy top to it. I went with a moderately aggressive sprinkle of panko flakes combined with more sharp cheddar cheese. You'll have to broil it to get it SUPER crunchy but panko flakes are the way to go. During the trial bake, I split the pan between being half regular breadcrumbs - and it's just not as good. Panko flakes please.
  • Make ahead - Initially I was looking for a dish I could make days in advance, a friend cautioned me that mac and cheese could be risky. While I made this the day of, you can easily do enough prep the day before to make it easier. Make your pasta, measure your cheeses, make your croutons.
  • Croutons - Speaking of croutons, Martha's recipe called for them. I always have bread on hand but given the "hot dog" theme to this party, I opted to make them out of hot dog buns instead of white bread. The consistency is different but also lighter than normal bread croutons. Would absolutely use these in a pinch again.

Here's how it goes.

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. 
  2. Fill a large pot with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. In the same pot you used for boiling the pasta, melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.
  4. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
  5. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 cup Pecorino Romano. Stir reserved macaroni into the cheese sauce.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cups cheddar cheese and panko flakes over top. 
  7. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. If after 30 minutes, it's not browned to your liking, broil the topping rather than leaving it in the oven, which may cause the pasta to overcook and sauce to dry out.
Shopping List
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
4 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 18 ounces)
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 5 ounces)
1 pound elbow macaroni (or other small pasta shape)

honey cornbread


So, we've been planing the menu for this birthday party for like a month, actually probably more.

When I first started to think about it, I thought about any dish that would be theoretically easy to prep ahead of time and wouldn't be bad leftovers. So with the menu set to be hot dogs, mac and cheese, and chili ... it felt super natural to do a cornbread too. People need their carbs.

Then, when I was looking up recipes for "best ever cornbread" they got a little complicated. Making the best ever cornbread felt hard... especially for 30 people... and in a food processor. So, I said no thanks. We will be skipping on the cornbread. Flash forward to Friday night and I'm in line at the new local brewery. There was a group of guys behind us talking about eating chili and mac and cheese ... and how there was no cornbread. Obviously, my ears perked up and I had to chime in. They felt cornbread was a non-negotiable. Thus, we are back on the cornbread train with 18 hours to go before the party.

The recipe I ended up making was incredibly simple and still got rave reviews. However, I pretty much died inside when as we were cleaning up for the night I realized that I never ever served the cornbread. It was still sitting on the counter all covered up. But, we cut into it and people said it was good so it can't be considered a total failure.

I did end up eating it with leftover chili the next day ... and home run. I feel like I've been an idiot for just serving bread with chili for the last 10 years. From now on its honey cornbread or bust.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray or lightly butter an 8x8 inch pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar and honey. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Add the buttermilk and mix to combine.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking soda. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring with a spatula until only a few lumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula to create an even layer. Allow the batter to sit for 3 minutes before placing in the oven to bake.
  4. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  5. Remove from the oven, brush the top with melted butter and honey. Serve!
Shopping List (based on this original recipe)
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ c. granulated sugar
¼ c. honey
2 eggs, room temperature
1 c. buttermilk, room temperature
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cornmeal
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (for brushing)

I’m in a relationship

Prior to leaving the city, I don’t think I ever had so many “projects”. I’m honestly not sure what I did with all my time. I think I spent a little more time at the office and I worked out more. Like regularly, as opposed to the irregularly with which I get to yoga now.

But, what did I do with all that time? I think the answer honestly might have been: taking walks, reading magazines, and dating. Well, I still enjoy a good walk and getting magazines in the mail - but dating is taking a back burner. I am now in a relationship with my house.

I have been on a several dates in the last six to twelve months and of all those dates, only two of which didn’t leave me wishing I had spent it on my trails website or thinking about the house. In the last year (exactly), I have been out with 5 different guys
  • Name sounds like a fruit, separated. Not ready for commitment, or honestly even to date. Dated for like 2 months (?). Met on Bumble, I think.
  • Skier guy, pot-head from Somerville. Ended our date shockingly abruptly when he realized I didn’t live in Boston. One date. Met on Bumble.
  • Environmental guy. Met on Hinge? I can’t remember. All dating apps are essentially the same thing. So boring. 
  • Bee Guy. Mutual Friend. Felt like we had a lot in common, but perhaps not “magic”. Some how in the course of the date it came up that he had bees - which I’ve wanted - and it just felt like things were going great. But I got the “just friends” text a week later.
  • Local guy. He lives in the area and we had some mutual friends in common. No attraction, incredibly thoughtful - but not a match. Still texts to see if we can hang out.
So for now, I’m really and truly focusing on everything but dating. I don't want to go so far as to say that I'm deleting the app from my phone but I'm "mentally" deleting it. Strangers, friends, enemies and neighbors are welcome to suggest a match - but I'm mentally taking a break from this aspect of my life. I’m in a relationship with my house, it’s pretty serious / long-term cause it’s a house. This could change but if I was to prioritize all the things I’ve been thinking about lately, dating is last on the important scale.

tomato pie is delicious


First of all. I recognize that this just looks like a pile of melted cheese. But - it isn't. It is so much more than that. It is a tomato pie. Tomato Pie has been sitting on my kitchen to-do list for about a month. Pretty much ever since the moment I knew it existed. After all the times I've googled "what to do with all the tomatoes"... it was pretty shocking to me that I didn't know this concept existed. To be clear, the concept is not complex. It's tomatoes in a pie crust plus some bonus item... but man, it is good. Maybe not the healthiest meal, but damn good.

There are a few things to know about tomato pie but essentially it is very easy. It becomes even easier when you don't make the pie crust. While I would normally like to be one of those people that makes their own pie crust, sometimes it just isn't worth it for an experiment.

  • pie crust // just buy it. don't make life harder here.
  • salty // it is very easy for this dish to get salty between the bacon and the tomatoes. I was a little more liberal with the salted tomatoes than I would be the next time. It's not the end of the world but just something to keep in mind.
  • crust // don't get on your high horse about how mayo is gross and you don't want it on the topping. If you are that worried about it, just try to cut back the amount and maybe mix in some bread crumbs or something to give it structure. The crust is so incredible.
I followed the original Food52 recipe pretty closely but have made some modifications to the process order below. While the recipe is simple, there is a lot of "do this quick thing and then wait a bit". So, a slightly adjusted order will help with speeding this whole show along.

  1. Slice the tomatoes and place them on a large cooling rack covered with paper towels. VERY lightly sprinkle the slices with kosher salt to help pull moisture from them, and cover them with another layer of paper towels. Let them sit like this for at least an hour.
  2. To blind bake the shell: Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Stab the crust with a fork all over and line the pastry shell with parchment paper. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the surface under the paper looks light brown. Remove the paper and return the shell to the oven for another 5 minutes or so, until drier and a more golden brown. Remove the shell to a rack, and let cool completely before proceeding with baking your pie.
  3. In a skillet, cook the chopped up bacon until it is just about crisp then add in the diced onion. Sauté until golden brown. Mix mayonnaise, grated cheese and oregano in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Set oven temp to 350°F. Assemble the pie by roughly chopping the tomato slices and spreading the pieces evenly into the pie shell. Generously cover the top with freshly ground black pepper, sprinkle with the onions and bacon, and, finally, top with the mayo-cheese mix. Place the pie in the oven and bake for about 1/2 hour, or until the top is nicely browned and the pie is bubbling. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool for at least 1/2 hour before cutting and serving.
Shopping List
Pie Crust
4-5 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced and blotted dry
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 large, sweet onion, sauteed
1/2 pound thick cut bacon, cut into lardons, and cooked till crisp
1 teaspoon dried oregano
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