just to keep you posted


Just to keep you posted. 

I’m still dreaming about taking that Tuscany vacation … except now I think about taking more time off. Like a month. 

I know it seems extravagant / excessive / solitary … but let’s be real. It is also adventurous slash exciting. 

Thinking about it gives me this leaping excited feeling in my chest. It’s that same type of feeling you get before a really great date or when I was standing here and looking at the view. Just a moment where you know you are making the right decisions. Or if you aren’t quite sure, you know that the decisions you are making are safely pushing the boundaries of comfort and personal growth. 

crispy polenta cakes over tomato bizness


Good news. Bad news.

I almost impulse bought a weeklong culinary vacation in Tuscany.

I think that the only downside of the last twenty minutes is that I didn't buy it. I wasn't the least bit concerned with: going alone, being with middle-aged people, or having to be on other peoples schedules.

The only thing that really stopped me was that I wasn't sure where this particular package stood "quality wise". So, if you know anything about taking culinary vacations in Tuscany.... let me know.

Three great things about Tuscany:
(1) I think Tuscany would be about a million times warmer than Boston
(2) They have those tall skinny trees.
(3) I'd get to pretend like I was in one of my favorite movies of all time ... "Under the Tuscan Sun"

Mostly just #3.

21 hours in NYC


This is the story of the time I went to NYC for 21 hours. 

I don't feel the need to write about all the trips I take - but there are some that are worthy of a quick little summary.

For as long as I can remember my mom has asked us if we wanted to go see The Radio City Rockettes.  It's never been something that's really on my list of things to do. But, sometimes things line up perfectly and you just have to go with it. And it's even better when it's a surprise.

I wasn't quite sure how my sister and I were going to surprise my mom with a trip to the Rockettes. But all the involved parties were on board and my Dad took charge of reserving time on the boss lady's calendar. With time reserved, we booked tickets and hotels and trains.

Irish Beef Stew

So, when I decided to make Irish Stew I honestly wondered what was different about this as compared to my previous beef stew. 

But I didn't really think too much about it. I had beef stew to make and a long walk to take by the harbor. Must get to work. 

I'm of Irish heritage and perhaps it's a bit embarrassing that I don't know much more about the cuisine of Ireland. I have been to Ireland a few times and pretty sure that what I ate was not indicative of traditional cuisine. I vividly remember crackers, scones, and a phenomenal grilled cheese.

What I feel like I know about Irish food is there are potatoes and there was a famine.  So, when I saw that this stew called for a bunch of them I felt like I was being authentic. Crisis averted. I also figured that the broth would be a bit thinner due to the famine. But, this is 2013 and I was going to use a slow cooker ... so who knew how this was going to end up.

parmesan asparagus tart

One of the great parts of about these Downton Abbey meals is that I'm pushing myself to make appetizers and desserts. I mean, let's be real, I'm just one person here ... and when cooking dinner for myself there is no need for an appetizer or dessert.

I can usually be found demolishing half a loaf of bread that is meant for croutons or fiendishly cutting off hunks of cheese while I dice vegetables.

Well, this week's Downton Abbey episode was around women's suffrage and the Irish Revolution. I'm not sure that this appetizer really fits either of those categories. The category it does fit is that I bought the asparagus last week for use with the roasted cod but never used it. So, in the spirit of using what you have .... we have an asparagus appetizer.

What's New


My mom sent me an email this week articulating that she was tired of the food posts.

I mean I guess that's fair. Especially if you haven't bought into the Downton Abbey themed meals. Out of the last 12 posts, only one was non-food related ... and that was my 500th post.

I can't believe we are beginning to wrap up the month of January. It's a bit shocking. I've essentially spent this month planning for Downton Abbey meals, eating them, and going to Ohio. That's trendy right? There hasn't been a whole lot going on. I mean it's January, what really happens this month anyway?

  • thinking about how my computer is running out of space due to all my pictures
  • lusting after a Le Creuset French Oven ... in Marseille blue
  • trying to get my life in order via the postal service (i.e. mailing back things I bought that were dumb. hint, I can't pull off a peplum style dress)
  • rented the movie "First Position" for a flight to Ohio. Get your minds out of the gutter folks. It's about ballet.
  • read a weird book called "Super Sad True Love Story"
  • slowly drinking all of the red wine I have in my apartment
  • dying from excitement regarding an email from an old friend asking for advice on the monkey bread
  • getting an email from a friend/coworker saying her hubs loved the looks of roasted cod dinner from last weekend (hi taylor!)
  • still haven't turned the heat on once in my apartment. what? I have an electric blanket and a fondness for fleece anyway.
There is one other bigger thing that has happened but I'll save that for until I can properly pull that post together. 

Until then, here are some iPhone pictures from the last few weeks....

Fancy Shmancy Almond Chocolate Cake


A couple years ago, there was a revolution in our family.

It pretty much started and ended around birthday cakes. Maybe the word revolution is a bit much but essentially, my sister and I have made every attempt going forward to make all the birthday cakes ... as opposed to buying them. Not only are they baked but they are decorated with a theme appropriate for the birthday celebrant. 

I'm not really allowed to decorate the cakes. I lack a certain artistic talent that only my sister processes. I am however allowed to participate in the cake making... and we only make vanilla cakes. Or Red Velvet. Unless it is my Mom's birthday ... in which case she can have chocolate.

I'm just not a lover of chocolate cake. That being said, if you want to make a chocolate cake.... I will eat it. Especially if I get to wear leggings when I do it. Or we are curled up on my couch. 

Roasted Cod with Tomato Pancetta "Stew"


Based on the previews for this week's Downton Abbey episode, I felt like we needed to prepare for a wedding. I'm not going to spoiler the episode for you but I will say Edith is still living the life of a middle child.

Womp womp.

I spent a lot of time searching for "the right" main course. I had visions of a seared fish for some reason and couldn't quite get that out of my head. I did some googling for "wedding halibut dish" and "Downton Wedding" and "winter wedding meal". In the true spirit of a party meal, what I ended up cooking wasn't that close to what I had planned. 

I stumbled upon a reference to a Thomas Keller seared halibut on the interwebs which prompted me to reopen one of my favorite cookbooks, Ad Hoc at Home . The asparagus tomato bacon stew seemed like a perfect base for the halibut. I can't resist bacon or San Marzano tomatoes. 

presto parsley pesto


I hate wasting things that I've bought... especially food wise. This really bugs me.

I tend to be pretty good at utilizing all the things I've bought. My primary downfall is greek yogurt. I'm not sure why but if I end up throwing anything out for going bad ... it's greek yogurt. Never the whole container, but it's still a waste none the less.

Last weekend I bought some flat leaf parsley for the Shepherd's Pie I was making. I fully intended on using it but totally spaced when it got to that step (which is why you don't even see it in the ingredients listing). Then I needed to go to Ohio for three days and the parsley was still in my fridge. So, in an attempt to keep it alive I put it in a glass of water and hoped for the best.

Truffled Mushroom Tartlets


Ah, it's another week of Downton Abbey under our belts and that means another 3 course meal.

So here's what the menu was for this episode:
- mushroom tartlets
- roasted cod with tomato pancetta stew

I'm not sure how much longer I can keep this charade up honestly... however, it has made me realize how challenging it is to be a chef. And, let's be real... I'm cooking for 2. 

That being said, each of the courses I made for this week was easy on it's own. These little mushroom tartlets are a great little secret. Just like every week I tell Baby Sister that she only has to eat one ... and then we proceed to eat almost all of them. I look forward to impressing some friends or enemies with them some time in the future. 

Apple Charlotte


Welcome to the last chapter in the premiere episode of Downton Abbey ... Season 3 of course.

By this point in the evening, we had eaten some delightful deviled eggs and some Shepherd's Pie. And nearly an entire bottle of champagne.  

We had also continued our hobby of impersonating some of the cast when we took quick breaks for drinks, dishes or more food. Baby Sister does a great impersonation of Daisy and several other characters as well. She always knows how to make me laugh on pretty much any day ... but doing impersonations really gets a giggle from me. Me on the other hand? No impersonation skill. I just can't channel my inner Brit.... unless it is the one scene when Sir Anthony Strallan spits out the Raspberry Pudding dessert because she put salt on top instead of sugar. That's the only one I can do... besides peel apples.

Shepherd's Pie

About this time last year, I went home from work sick one day. I ended up on my couch for about 8 hours ... which was enough time to stumble upon my first episode of Downton Abbey ... and then promptly watch the entire season.

It was a phenomenal accident that has resulted in at least one occasion where I binge watched several episodes in a row. Most recently post Sisterly Christmas party, Baby Sister and I watched a cool 10 HOURS of Downton Abbey while dining on corn griddle cakes with honey butter. I'm pretty sure that for lunch that day we ate a box of Mac and Cheese ... but I can't be sure since I was clearly in a pretty serious tv coma.

Well, ever since this summer I've been impatiently waiting for Season 3 to debut to the US. So, it was no shock that I felt it required a whole special evening and coordinated menu to match the occasion. I had seen a link on Huffington Post for some sample menus and knew I was going to need more than one course.

Here is what I ended up with:
- Shepherd's Pie for a main course
- Apple Charlotte for dessert
Since that ended up being three new recipes, it'll be three whole new posts as well. Too much too document ... and I'm going to be doing it all again with new recipes for episode two this week.

Buffalo Chicken Fingers

I'm super behind in documenting some kitchen adventures. And even though I haven't officially committed to 52 new recipes in 2013 ... I've already got quite a handful under my belt.

Last weekend alone, this is what I made:
- Buffalo Chicken Tenders
- English Muffins
- Deviled Eggs
- Shepherd's Pie
- Apple Charlotte

Some things took a lot of time ... and somethings took no time ... like these Buffalo Chicken fingers.

Homemade English Muffins


I've been waiting to make english muffins for quite a few weeks and finally this weekend seemed like the right time. I tend to have an english muffin every workday morning as part of my second breakfast. Yes, that's true. The world begins to collapse around me when I miss meals during the workday ... including my second breakfast.

There is nothing more satisfying around 10 am than a nicely toasted carb delight with some butter ... and peanut butter. Don't judge. Although there is a place in my neighborhood that makes a killer breakfast sandwich on the SANDWICH size english muffin ... and obviously bigger is better. 

So, when I set out to make these babes this weekend ... I knew that I was going to target some big ole english muffins. I also knew that I had no idea whether or not they'd be successful. But in the spirit of attempting to make things that I like to buy ... I was going to give it a go.

End result? Successful. Tasty. Not complicated.

monkey bread with a hint of egg nog


My sister likes to say that I make a terrible sick person.

In her mind, I turn into this pathetic mess of a person that just appears fundamentally weak. I'd like to believe that this isn't actually the case and the only downfall is that I wear the same pair of sweatpants for more days than socially acceptable.

But this isn't about whether I'm a pathetic sick person ... or how many days you can acceptably wear the same pair of sweatpants (please say 3+). This post is actually about monkey bread with egg nog glaze. Why you ask? Because it is so easy to make that I whipped out 4 of them all while feeling under the weather.


I spent this past New Years in Vermont with my friend Meghan. While we were sitting on couches across from each other one morning milking some cups of coffee (or maybe it was evening beers?), I realized that this was the 3rd New Years in row that we'd celebrated together.

Then I realized that we'd been friends for over 5 years.

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