corn chowder

3.11.2019

It's been awhile since I've made a soup. At one point it felt like it was the only thing I whipped up in my kitchen. There are 45 soup recipes on this website but, they started to all feel like the same thing. Chop carrots. Chop onion. Chop celery. It has been enough time that this soup felt like a refreshing change - also it is totally different. This was my first ever chowder.
I'm not a big clam chowder fan - but I do love a corn chowder. This soup came together very easily although it was far more chopping than I've done in recent months. The flavors are obvious and by no means bland. I'm a salty person but the cajun inspired flavors here help to reduce my desire to add salt. Feels like a good win for my next blood test.

A few notes:
  • Corn // Corn is out of season right now in the Northeast. While the grocery store had corn on the cob, it felt wrong to buy it. I will absolutely make this recipe again when corn is in abundance. There is something very appealing about seeing the chunks of corn stuck together after you've cut them off the cob.
  • Potatoes // I didn't peel my potatoes. Why add an extra step when you don't need to? I didn't notice any impact in my soup.
  • Vegan // The original recipe called for vegetable broth and I substituted chicken since it is was I had on hand. If you want to stay vegan, you can with just one easy switch.
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Chop one of the red potatoes in half and carefully place into the pot. Allow potato to cook until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 cup of frozen corn to the pot with about 5 minutes left.
  2. While the potato is cooking, saute the rest of the vegetables. Add the coconut oil to a large pot, along with the other diced potato, chopped onion, garlic, carrots, celery, bell pepper, sea salt, Cajun seasoning, paprika, and cumin. Heat to medium-high and saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Place half of the kernels in a blender, along with the cooked potato. Add the coconut milk and water (or broth) to the blender, and blend until completely smooth. This may take two or three rounds of blending.
  4. Add the remaining corn kernels to the pot with the sauteed vegetables, and pour the blended corn/potato (chowder) mixture into the pot. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until potato has softened, about 10 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and taste chowder. Add sea salt and Cajun seasoning as desired. 
Shopping List
4 ears corn shucked (or 2.5 - 3 cups frozen)
2 large red potatoes peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
1 large white onion
5 cloves large garlic minced
3 large carrots peeled and chopped
3 large stalks celery chopped
1 large red bell pepper cored and chopped
1-½ teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
2/3 cup canned coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth

very delicious blueberry cake

3.10.2019

Ok - this picture doesn't exactly look like a success story. Where are all the blueberries? In the bottom of the loaf. Not the best. But, I'll do better next time.

Blueberry distribution aside ... this cake is incredibly delicious. That might have something to do with the amount of sugar and butter or just magic. The original recipe called for a bundt cake but I wanted to stretch my work a little further - so I opted for two loaf pans. Also, the bundt cake was going to take like 90 minutes to cook... and I didn't start this until 9 pm.

There really isn't a whole lot to say about this except that it tastes wonderful and you'll enjoy it. I made this along with a batch of pan monkey bread for an event my dad was hosting. Although monkey bread is delicious, this blueberry loaf was dominated within an hour.

Although this loaf is great with or without a glaze, I definitely recommend whipping one up. I made mine extra thick with only buttermilk and powdered sugar. The wonderful thing about these simple glazes is that you can adjust them so easily. Too thick? More liquid. Too thin? More powdered sugar.
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease your chosen pan or pans and dust with flour.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the flour and buttermilk, alternating each, until all incorporated. Finally beat in the lemon zest before turning the mixer off. Use a spoon the stir in half the blueberries.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top. 
  4. Bake for 45-60 mins [2 loaf pans] or 60-80 minutes [1 pan], until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  5. Allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. 
  6. For the glaze, whisk the buttermilk and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.
Shopping List
For the Blueberry Cake:1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose Gold Medal Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
Zest of 2 lemons
1 pound fresh blueberries

For the Buttermilk Glaze:3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup powdered sugar

Sausage and Fennel Ragu With Gnocchi Alla Romano

3.04.2019

I believe this dinner falls perfectly into the Sunday Dinner category. I was in the market for a multi-step meal to spend a little extra time on. While this is definitely multi-step it is quite straightforward. The most challenging part was finding semolina flour.

I have been consciously trying to eat more vegetables and less red meat in my diet - although this meal does not reflect that. But given that each day I'm shoving two clementines in my face and perhaps some healthy grains, I'm feeling like progress is happening. Although this original recipe calls for hot italian sausage, you could substitute ground turkey but would just really need to compensate with other spices. The meal is really not spicy but just has a great meaty flavor without turning into a chili. It sometimes feels like anything with meat is two steps from being a chili.

A few other notes:
  • I'm not sure I agree that the "toppers" should be called gnocchi. Even my mom was like "oh really? I thought gnocchi was different". It feels like gnocchi and a polenta had a baby. They are quite good though. Very light, good flavor. 
  • Serving size / The recipe says this serves 6-8 people. It absolutely does not. It serves 4-5, maybe 6 if someone isn't hungry. I invited 4 people over for dinner and am thankful that 2 did not come. 
  • Extra Gnocchi // I had a whole lot of extra gnocchi that I never got to stamp out and put on the dish. that being said, it would have been nice to have them as extras on the side. If you make this dish, I would just cut out all the gnocchi rounds and then toast them up on a cooking sheet in the oven. Easy peasy.
  • Tomatoes // I'm not a huge fan of cooking with whole tomatoes. I don't enjoy breaking them down with a spoon like everyone tells you to. Next time I would probably go with a different variety like maybe diced tomatoes. I like the heft and structure the whole tomatoes gives you but they were just an obstacle.
Here's how it goes.

GNOCCHI
  1. Spray a 9 by 13 inch pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, then spray again.
  2. In a 6 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Slowly whisk in semolina flour, then add salt. Whisk thoroughly to be sure that no lumps form. Cook, stirring constantly until, the mixture begins to pull away from the side of the pan, about 10 minutes. Add 6 tablespoons of the butter the parmesan cheese and stir until well incorporated and the butter has melted. Whisk in the egg yolks off heat, stirring until combined.
  3. Pour the semolina into the pan and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Cover and chill for at least two hours.
  4. Once firm, cut into 2 inch circles using a biscuit cutter or a sturdy kitchen glass. Set aside while you make the ragu.
RAGU
  1. To make the ragu, preheat the oven to 450˚F. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling with the back of a fork, until it is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Remove and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet and set over medium heat. Add onion and fennel and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables start to break down and turn golden brown. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat all of the vegetables. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let the tomato paste cook for about 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with chicken stock (or wine if you prefer), scraping up any brown bits that had formed on the bottom. 
  4. Let the stock cook until reduced by half, then add the Peeled Plum Tomatoes. Break the tomatoes up with the back of a spoon or a fork and cook until the mixture reaches a simmer. Add the reserved sausage back in, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and top with the Gnocchi alla Romano.
  5. Melt the remaining butter and brush the tops of the gnocchi with it. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, then place in the oven (on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips) and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.
Shopping List
GNOCCHI
6 cups whole milk
2 cups semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, divided
2 egg, yolks
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for sprinkling
Cooking spray, as needed

RAGU
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 lb hot italian sausage meat
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper, To Taste
crushed red pepper flakes, To Taste
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (28 ounce) can Peeled Plum Tomatoes

brown butter miso mac and cheese

2.22.2019

One of my intentions of 2019 is to waste less food... so what does that mean for right now? I'm putting miso in just about everything. I purchased the miso for the miso banana bread and now I'm intending to use every last drop of it.

I had all the ingredients for this dish for nearly a week but just never quite got the drive to make it. I had the same feeling the last time I made mac and cheese from scratch. It feels like a lot. Make the pasta. Make the roux. Melt the cheese. But it is not. It's very easy. I was eating incredible homemade mac and cheese before I knew it.

Candidly, I skipped the whole crunchy panko topping step too. I was so hungry and once I tasted the cheese sauce there was no stopping me. That being said, this would be unstoppable if you could make it through to the end. Crunchy mac and cheese topping can cure everything.

A few things:
  • Pick your pasta // You might as well pick something that is fun - but also that grabs the cheese a bit. I was at Trader Joes and they had Gigli - which is hard to describe but a little extra special. Nothing the matter with rotini, macaroni, or rigatoni.... but it cost about 50 cents more and was 200% more fun.
  • Cheese // Original recipe suggests a blend of cheddar, Pecorino, and Gruyère. While I was at Trader Joe's over the weekend, they had a cheddar + gruyere blend on the shelf. I'm all about keeping things easy so I went for this one. Added bonus? It cut the recipe cost in half. Buying one cheese versus two.
  • Brown the butter // This was an unintended bonus. I hadn't planned for this but browned butter adds such a great flavor - especially when combined with the miso.
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Add your pasta and cook until a minute or two shy of al dente (do not cook it all the way to al dente!). Drain (don't rinse) and set aside.
  3. In a large pan, heat the butter until it melts. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly to break up any clumps, for a minute or two.
  4. Whisk in the warm milk and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This can happen very fast.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 cups of the cheese and miso paste.
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat.
  7. Pour the pasta into a greased baking dish and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the panko.
  8. Bake the pasta for about 25 minutes. The pasta should be bubbling and the breadcrumbs should be browned.
  9. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and serve.
Shopping List (serves 4 hungry people, 6 non-hungry people)
8 ounces dried pasta
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk, warmed slightly
2 1/4 cups shredded cheese (I like a mix of cheddar, Pecorino, and Gruyère), divided
1/4 cup sweet white miso paste, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

miso banana bread

2.21.2019

I'm not really a banana person but I do love banana bread. It's like a sneaky, potentially healthy breakfast dessert. I saw a reference a couple weeks ago to miso banana bread. A miso banana bread feels like a lifetime of difference from the other variations like: nutella, peanut butter, chocolate, or just straight up banana bread.

I've only bought miso paste one other time in my life and it turns out I never wrote up the recipe. I think it was something like a miso carrot soup if my memory serves me. I know very little about buying miso paste except that there are different colors. The original recipe called for white paste, but Whole Foods was out of that... so red paste it is. For what it's worth here are the differences according to kitchn.com:
  • White Miso: This miso is made from soybeans that have been fermented with a large percentage of rice. The miso has a definite sweet taste. It’s best used in condiments like mayo or salad dressings, or in light sauces.
  • Red Miso: This is also typically made from soybeans fermented with barley or other grains, though with a higher percentage of soybeans and/or a longer fermentation period. The deep umami flavor of red miso can overwhelm mild dishes, but is perfect for hearty soups, braises, and glazes.
Based on that, hindsight might have been to wait for white miso paste to be available.... but too late because I already baked the bread. It is so different - and great. It is hard to describe the difference in flavor but it is rich and the opposite of a sugary quick bread.

As of now I've made this recipe twice. First time? The original recipe called for just one big loaf - which I did.  It requires such a long cooking time that the top gets a little bit more toasted than I'd like. Candidly, I found a few spots in the bread that could have been cooked longer too. Second time? Split the batch into two smaller pans. Total win. The cooking time is about half (50 mins or so) and completely cooked through.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 10-by-5-inch metal loaf pan. In a bowl, using 
a fork, mash 4 of the bananas until chunky. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter, sugar and miso at medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. At low speed, slowly add the buttermilk, then beat in 
the eggs 1 at a time until incorporated. Beat in the mashed bananas; the batter will look curdled. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Scrape into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 
90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool on a rack for 30 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
Shopping List
4 medium overripe bananas
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup white miso
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs

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

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