My Birthday Wish: Update


Hi there internet,

I wanted to provide an update on my Birthday Wish to get 300 people to join (slash donate to) the Be the Match registry.

I'm currently at less than 10 people ... with about a million people telling me that they'd love to do it.

I've been meaning to write an update to my original request but I wasn't quite sure what to say honestly. What could I be adding to my original birthday wish?

I'll save for my thoughts for a future posting and instead leave you with this timely video from the news tonight. In the words of Anita, her bone marrow donor took her chances at survival from 5% to 95%.

bacon jam (finally)

It's a good thing that I don't work for an accounting company anymore... because my accounting of the 52 in 52 challenge for 2012... was a bit terrible.

The whole point of the challenge was to try and cook new things, try some new techniques, and break out of habits. When I find something that I love, I end up making it a million times over. In grad school, I used to make "spaghetti risotto" ... which is to say that you essentially cook the spaghetti in chicken broth or beef broth. Then, I'd add a dash of soy sauce, some graded Parmesan  and whatever frozen veggies I had in my freezer. It was super quick to make ... and hit my sweet spot. And by sweet spot, I clearly mean my salty spot.

I can safely say that thanks to the 52 in 52 challenge, I have gotten out of my rut of spaghetti risotto. I ended up making 61 new things in 2012 and thus far in 2013 I'm at 27, largely in part due to the Downton Abbey Dinners.

Bacon Jam was something that I actually made last Spring before I took a weekend trip to NYC. I had stumbled upon the idea of Bacon Jam after eating a burrito from the Staff Meal food truck one day at work. I had never heard of it, but now I feel like I see it much more frequently. While I'm not opposed to jam in principle, I much prefer the "butters" as spreads - think peanut butter and regular butter.

Leek Potato Soup

As I mentioned in the documentation of my corn asparagus leek tart, I overstocked my fridge with leeks a few weeks ago ... and needed to take care of the problem this weekend. When I mentioned this to my friend Meghan, she first suggested a potato and leek soup. I countered with "they all want bacon!" ... which of course wasn't entirely true.

My main concern with a potato leek soup was that it would be boring. Leeks aren't super exciting and neither are potatoes. Not exciting plus not exciting does not necessarily yield amazing.

But after a bit of research on Food52, I stumbled upon a few recipes that I thought had some promise for meeting my requirements to use the rest of the leeks, be easy, and be new. I settled on this one gem that for a  potato leek soup with cheddar and dill. Great combo.

Corn Asparagus Leek Tart


A few weeks ago I bought leeks at the Haymarket market. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But then, I ended up not using them that week, and then last week I was in NYC, and well they were going to kick the bucket real soon. I'm not sure how they managed to last this long honestly.

The caveat to having this excess leek inventory is that I've also given up bacon for Lent. By bacon I also mean pretty much all pork related products or things that I love ... like pancetta and prosciutto. In trying to find a recipe for my multiple leeks, I realized that normally when one has leeks they also have bacon. Or not, I might be in a bacon induced haze.

I stumbled onto this recipe via Food52 and I'm glad I did. It's another good one to have in my arsenal ... and can easily become so many different things based on what you have in your fridge at the time. And that my friends, is my favorite kind of recipe.

Irish soda bread traditions

I'm a sucker for a good tradition. Especially one that involves heritage and the USPS.

Fairly consistently for the last 7 years or so, I've been making Irish Soda Bread for friends and loved ones. I'm not quite sure how it got started but I remember making my first few loaves and sending them on their merry way to happy homes.

While many of my recipes have evolved over time to include different things, my soda bread recipe has stayed largely quite consistent ... or at least as much as I can remember. I am getting a bit old.

zucchini casserole


I've been on the lookout the past few weeks for healthier recipes. I'm not exactly cooking with a stick of butter every time I hit the kitchen ... but it is always nice to try and be a little more conscious.

This recipe isn't going to blow your mind like a good beef stew or seared fish dinner. Let's be real it's zucchini and feta cheese. But, it's a very decent meal and especially if you are trying to be a little more calorie conscious.

The original recipe notes recommended that this wouldn't be great for freezing .... and you'd be best to re-heat in an oven as opposed to a microwave. While I didn't test the freezer, I did test out the microwave and I might have to agree with them. That being said, I definetly still reheated all my leftovers in the microwave but the textures in this dish are rather "delicate" and so they just don't hold up that well in a microwave. Plus, you lose the crunch of the panko flakes in a microwave. Sad face.

My Birthday Wish


I'm not sure what I've done to give back in a meaningful way in a long time. I've been thinking about this a fair amount, especially as I approach 30.

Life isn't just about me, it's about those around me. What am I doing to impact the lives of others?

Well, yesterday it came to me. I got my annual letter in the mail from the Be The Match registry asking me to recommit for another year. Being a part of the registry is one of the easiest things I have ever done in my life. Being in the registry doesn't come up often in conversation but when it does, people are really surprised at how easy it is to join. All you need to do is swab that cheek folks. Done and done.

For my birthday this year, I would like to get 300 people to join the Be The Match registry.

donut muffins


First of all, I will start by saying I don't have a picture of the final product. Just trust me that they look like muffins. A muffin is a muffin folks. When I remake these little cinnamon gems, I'll update this post ... maybe. But don't hold your breath.

Now for the color commentary.

I first heard about this "donut muffin" phenomenon from my friend Marilyn. They seemed like an intriguing concept but I wasn't quite sure what they would end up being. Donuts can vary pretty significantly in their consistency and so a donut muffin left me wondering.

Being as I've never actually had an official donut muffin, I'm not sure how accurate this rendition is fact. However, they are easy like a sunny day and crazy addictive when fresh out of the oven. Sometimes when I make things I never even taste them before sending them out the door. But, when these babes came out of the oven, I cracked one in half and was in heaven.

Imitation Biscoff Cookies

I'm not sure how many of these posts I start off by saying "I hate being behind on posting" ... but this is certainly one of them.

This blog is a balance of thoughts and cooking ... and until I document all the cooking ... it's hard to document the thoughts. So, it's like nobody wins unless I'm up-to-date and considering that I never documented the three different types of chicken I made over the summer ... or the bacon jam from last Spring. I might be losing.

Moving on. During this past December and January, I found myself on a few Delta flights to Ohio. Prior to joining this project, I had heard my coworkers rave about "Biscoff" cookies. I had no idea what they were talking about but given my ability to binge eat crackers and inability to turn down food ... I was game to give them a shot. Turns out, they are great.

brussel sprout and fig risotto


When I was a senior in college, my friend Kevin concocted this elaborate scavenger hunt around Boston as a way to send us on our way to graduation. There were a few stops that day that were particularly memorable but I'll always remember visiting the Haymarket Market. I'm not sure exactly what the challenge was but I believe it had something to do with touching a fish - which I hate doing.

Fast forward to present day. I now live across the street-ish from this market and buy most of cooking produce from these stands on Saturday mornings. I'd give Haymarket credit for getting me to love brussel sprouts (this time and this time). Just like most of the things I now love, I once thought they were weird and hated them.

I'm not really sure what the "season" is for brussel sprouts but I do know that I was unable to find them for two weeks at the market... which is why I was super excited when I saw these GLORIOUS green babies at the market last weekend. (Yep, this post is a week delayed. I had the flu.) I mean they are the prettiest sprouts I've ever seen ... and to think I paid like nothing for them.

my first lasagna?


I don't really have lasagna all that often ... but I would label it one of my favorite comfort foods. Sure, there are many on that list ... but lasagna makes it.

Lasagna has some of the qualities that I love in my favorite recipes. Cheese, pasta ... and versatility. Lasagna is a great base and permits the chef to pretty much do whatever they want. Up until my second year of b-school, I think I'd only had "traditional" lasagna and primarily made by my Aunt Wynn. But one day my friend Meghan invited me over for dinner. And while barely even thinking, she whipped up an artichoke lasagna that rocked my socks off.

With that memory in my head and a can of artichokes in my cabinet, I elected to tryout a combo of ground turkey and artichoke. Some quick googling didn't reveal any other previously documented renditions of this combo ... which made me a bit nervous but not enough to stop. So, I invited my sister over and labeled it and "experimental lasagna" in the event of a disaster.

Spoiler alert: No diaster. Only second helpings.

holla for challah

The ability to braid one's hair is a skill most people have. The ability to braid one's bread dough? A completely different story. With the number of times that I've rocked a side braid, regular braid, french braid, french pigtails .... you'd think braiding dough was easier. But, it was seriously worth it. I mean, check out that loaf up there.

This past weekend my friends Dave and Lara celebrated their 30th birthday with their friends and family. It was an amazing afternoon gathering filled with some seriously great food. Not that it's a competition, but it's hard to compete with the spread they put out at a party. But the real trump card they have is their handsome baby Walter. You know when people say "oh that is the happiest baby ever!", well Walter is quite literally the happiest baby that I have ever seen. There is just no competition.

My mom always taught me to never show up empty handed to a house ... and I try to really abide by this whenever possible. Since Dave and Lara clearly didn't need help with the menu, I turned my attention to Walter. From the family's tumblr feed, I knew that baby loved himself some challah bread.

Challenge accepted.

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