baked coconut french toast


A few weeks ago I spent the weekend at my parents house. While the original purpose was to make sure that my brother ate all of his meals and walk Ruby May ... it ended up also being filled with tons of time in front of the tree. The tree is in very close proximity to a great fireplace... so I really won the weekend lottery.

We spent most of the weekend feeding wood into the fire, watching Bob's Burgers on Netflix, and planning the next meal. For Saturday dinner, my brother requested his favorite pizza... but he had no specific asks for breakfast outside of a trip to Dunkin Donuts at some point in the day. So on Sunday morning, I pulled together a quick baked french toast. The twist? I used coconut milk instead of regular milk. It completely changes the flavor profile but not in a bad way at all.

How it goes down.
(Step 1) Place bread cubes in a greased 9 x 9 baking dish.
(Step 2) In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. Pour over bread.
(Step 3) Combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle/Pour over the top.
(Step 4) Cover and bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Shopping List
1 loaf (1 pound) bread / bagels / carbs, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

1/2 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 pinch Nutmeg
1/2 stick melted butter

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Kale Pesto


I've been wanting to make raviolis for quite a long time. 

I first attempted them back in 2010 from scratch... without pretty much any kitchen equipment. It didn't go terribly but it also wasn't a raging success.  Ever since then, the closest I've gotten to fresh pasta was making gnocchi. Given that I haven't acquired any pasta making tools yet, I cheated and used wonton wrappers... which was pure genius.

I had seen this approach in several places before but never really got around to finding the wonton wrappers at Whole Foods until a few weeks ago. I had picked up the butternut squash literally about a month before (or more?) when I made soup. It just kept sitting in my fridge while I pondered what I would do. Butternut squash makes me feel like I have a million options and then none all at once. What do you do with it besides make soup, make a side dish, and stuff raviolis? I'm not really sure still. So I made raviolis.

Pancetta wrapped cod... stuffed with artichoke pesto

I'm really behind on recipes.... and life... so I'm going to get straight to the chase.

This recipe is pretty great. In my opinion it looks a little tacky and impressive all at once. Wrapping things in pork is super tasty but also makes me feel a bit like I'm ordering an appetizer at a chain restaurant... or trying to trick a toddler into trying a new food.

Lastly, in general I think I make a pretty great cod. One person actually told me that I made the best cod they've ever had outside a restaurant... but to be fair we were dating at the time. I feel like the nature of this recipe actually dries the cod out a bit more than others. It is still great.... but loses some of the flakiness from the preparation and stuffing.

Lighthouses & Seals // Day 4


A few weeks ago, my Jawbone stopped working... but if it was still working, today would have been a very active day. I went for a super long walk ... followed by 4 hours of driving with some great views. I am very thankful that I saved an entire day for Point Reyes Park. I barely scratched the surface of it and it took me 3 hours or so.

I don't want to jinx it, but I feel like I've gotten pretty lucky this trip. The weather has been solid, the views have been great, and my last-minute decision making hasn't really bit me. Also, my electric rental car has been a huge savings in gas. By some rough calculations, I've driven 700 miles and gas has only cost be $80 which is amazing.

107 Curvy Miles // Day 3


There is nothing quite like 107 miles of twists and turns to really appreciate California's coastline.

I had decided the night before that I wasn't going to the Redwoods and stuck to that. I ended up spending the day cruising the coast and stopping at a few spots. I had planned to stop at a few others as well but used my better judgement. The roads were often quite desolate, besides cows and hawks, and it didn't seem quite the best idea to hike off to a beach by myself. (You're welcome Mom).

While it would have been nice to stretch my legs more than once - and stop the self-imposed motion sickness - the view was so impressive the entire time. The coastline is just like nothing you can imagine. Plus, there are seals!

Valley to the Ocean ... via the Redwoods // Day 2


I had some minor plans for the day that pretty much amounted to driving by the ocean and gawking at nature. Having lived by the ocean by entire life – and taken every opportunity possible to see the ocean … I was taken back by how amazing the view was everywhere. 

The ocean was just so big. I’m not quite sure why – but it just seemed never ending. The waves were always huge but not in a Nor ‘easter sort of way. We get big waves in New England but this was just completely different.

Wine & Raisins // Day 1


I'm currently sitting in a 4 poster bed, drinking a glass of wine courtesy of the B&B... and eating yogurt covered raisins. I'm not mad - but I am tired.

It wasn't exactly a short journey to get to this point. I drove for over 4 hours, visited 2 airports, flew for 8 hours, and ate 3 bags of mini Delta pretzels. I was on a pretty tight timeline today which resulted in me needing to meet a particular woman by 3:30 pm. The timeline did not allow for highway traffic, nevermind excessive flight delay. As a result, I sprinted through the Salt Lake City airport and politely pleaded to be let on an earlier delayed flight. It worked. For extra dramatic flair? The minute I sat in my new seat I got a text from Delta that my original flight had been delayed 3 hours. 

I'm in SF for a long weekend as part of a family activity that I accomplished today. I'll be leaving on Monday ... and until then I'm going to eat goldfish, listen to XM radio and cruise the coast.

carrot butternut squash soup

I've been slowly making more progress in my kitchen recently... and have stock piled a few recipes that I need to write up. This is one of them.... and it's an easy one.

There is something about butternut squash soup that just screams Fall. I fully intended on picking up the squash for bargain prices at Haymarket... but "splurged" and bought it in the burbs while visiting my parents. Even at normal prices, this soup is a steal. While I only topped it with chickpeas, I think it would be great with little bits of chicken sausage too if you wanted more bulk.

The soup is actually thicker than you think it will be - so I still have several leftovers which I've stashed in my freezer. I haven't been super great about eating anything from my freezer besides Reese Cups.... but I'm optimistic this will be different. I'm thinking maybe a very small bowl of it with some seared fish or scallops on top. Winning?

Either way, here's how the simple version goes.

chorizo and kale soup


One of my favorite things to do is Swiffer the floors ... and cook in my kitchen. Today was super productive...  and not all at once. 

I cleaned all my floors and bathrooms. I have 1.5. It's luxurious. I cleaned the tub and I hung up all the coats I've worn in the last two weeks. Things have been a bit busy and off, so while I made my bed every day... all of the clothes and coats ended up in small piles. After I finished all of those things, I watched several episodes of the Brady Bunch and then got suckered into The Love Boat. It didn't feel right to leave for a walk until I knew the old lady survived her onboard surgery for a fractured rib that might have punctured her spleen.

While I was out on my walk, I picked up a pile of chorizo for this soup. One of my favorite soups from last year was this chorizo and lentil soup - so perhaps this is the 2014 iteration of it. Bonus? I got to use two of the last red peppers from my dad's garden.

cauliflower "fried rice"


I've never been one to hide my love of snacks - especially ones that include fake cheese. For my birthday this year, my team gave me a giant box of Goldfish... so my love and dedication to snacking is clearly well documented. But recently I've been trying to eat my "pivot table" feelings less... and drink more water. I say "pivot table" because snacking always happens at my desk and then spirals into me eating multiple Reese Cups on my couch at night.

In the spirit of this, I've been trying to experiment more in the kitchen. On Saturday, I put blueberries on my english muffin and today I made cauliflower rice. Big wins. I'm not sure when I first saw this technique but I was intrigued. While I've previously stayed away from cauliflower, roasting it for soup changed my perspective. My sister has even turned it into a mock buffalo chicken situation.

Cauliflower rice could not be easier - provided you have a food processor. It also seems rather versatile. Good for "fried rice" but maybe also good for any other occasion you are trying to sneak vegetables onto the plate. If I had any children instead of a cat, I would be doing this immediately.

buttermilk blueberry almond loaf bites


Despite my general enthusiasm for cooking and sharing, I tend to avoid cooking for coworkers. By avoid, I mean I think I can honestly say I've never done it. I've been a working professional since 2005 and I've never purposely made anything and left it on the corner of my desk. Ever. Until this week...

It was a rather big week for my company. I'm not sure that I'll ever have the opportunity to experience something like it again. I think this is the first time that I've cared meaningfully about what I was doing in my ever-changing definition of work hours. So, it made sense to whip up a fun little breakfast bite for my desk neighborhood.

I searched a little for a recipe that would be good for the office - can be served room temperature, doesn't need a knife, nothing too weird for flavors. I stumbled upon a blueberry breakfast bread and used that as the base what we ended up with: buttermilk blueberry almond loaf bites. These are not muffins but the bite-size nature makes them perfect for pretty much anything. I wanted to include almond flour or almond slivers but was concerned it would make the bites too dense. Next time I try this recipe, I might opt for little mini loaves ... in which case those almond slivers are absolutely making it.

swimming in sauce


 During the heart of tomato season last year, I experimented with a lot of different options. Put them in a Tomato Corn Galette, served them under some roasted pesto crusted cod, in a tomato pancetta quiche, as an easy simple summer sauce, or just plain ole roasted on some naan "pizza". It was pretty great to push myself a little to try different things. 

This year? sauce. sauce. and more sauce.

To be specific, I think I've made 5 different batches... and I think I've finally stumbled upon the best option. It also happens to be the easiest.
- Batch 1: This variety from last year - mainly tomatoes, onion and garlic.
- Batch 2: Added in peppers
- Batch 3: Roasted tomatoes and garlic 
- Batch 4: Roasted tomatoes, garlic, and sprinkles of marjoram
- Batch 5: Roasted tomatoes, garlic, and onion

I feel a little bit like a fool for not getting into canning in previous years - if for nothing else than to reduce food waste from the garden. I can't even imagine how many tomatoes turned into compost (or chicken food) in the past few years.... and now will be sauce for the winter months. I'm pretty pumped about it.

poison ivy & dilly beans


Again this summer has been light on the writing. It's not that I haven't had things to write about, I just have been trying to not sit in front of the computer. Also ... life has been full. 

But what I want to document that I'm 31 and have poison ivy. And, that I've had it for 3 weeks.

Week 1 was easy ... in part because I thought it was spider bites. I had just been on a easy hike and chalked it up to that. Spiders. I hate them but it made sense. At the end of week 1, I was like "wait, this shit itches". Week 2 was annoying but honestly, I didn't really think much about it. Week 3? A seriously different story.

the longest gap... and a new recipe


This is officially the longest I've gone without writing.

It sounds very obnoxious to say that I was busy, but I was. And still am. I've actually recently decided to avoid the word "busy" because it feels a little obnoxious to describe things like that at times. So, I'll just say that life has been "full".

In the past 30+ days, I've done a fair amount of living:

  • I went to Miami and had a lizard in my rental car.
  • I worked 12 straight days and wasn't really mad about it. That happens when you like your job I guess.
  • I put a toasted marshmallow on strawberry shortcake. It was a phenomenal decision.
  • I made Roman shades for my living room... and kitchen. I also bought 3 new rugs for my apartment... including a hide rug. 
  • My Tumbling Tom tomato plant started to product baby tomatoes.
  • My sister is going to be moving back into the North End... and my direct neighborhood.
  • I lovingly refinished two side tables and gave them a new life in my bedroom.
  • I went blueberry picking three times.
  • I finally went to the Boston Harbor Islands... and it was moderately worth it.
  • My baby brother got his braces off!
  • I threw out 3 more moving boxes and found my Billy Curly jersey. 

I also turned 31 and made about 35 batches of pesto from my fire escape garden.

summer salads (pasta & otherwise)


One of the best things about good weather is quick summer salads .... that consist of less lettuce and more of pasta and everything else that is fresh. I've been doing a lot of cold pasta salads recently and really loving the results. To be clear, I am pretty much winging it every time ... so I feel pretty lucky. Summer salads are perfect for Sunday dinner on the fire escape. I'm pretty much in love with my little Sunday tradition.

let there be peonies


I'm not really a perfume person, but if there is one that consists of peonies and salt water I would buy it.

My parents have had these peonies for 20+ years. I used to remember coming home from school and finding neighborhood ladies snipping blooms off when they thought nobody would catch them. Silly ladies. Either way, the peonies bloomed this past weekend... and it timed perfectly with Father's Day weekend. 

I drove back to Boston today with cupholders filled with peonies ... and that seems perfect. My brother gave me some as a thank you for taking him to Dick's Sporting Goods. Super cute. They smell phenomenal and look even better. I cut the second bunch of peonies from the garden and I intend on taking them to work. I think they'll look great next to my dueling monitors and pile of Wheat Thin crumbs.

desert + mountain + ocean


My past two recent trips to LA have been pretty much all business. So, it was awesome this time around to do a little bit of exploring and relaxing. 

I'm a sucker for a view - so it naturally led to a trip to Joshua Tree National Park. As part of that I spent the night in a pool side casita (apparently that's what they call it). I went for a little bit of a night swim. I ate some guacamole under a big flowering tree. It was pretty great. 

my jaunt to the desert


Current conundrum = how many pictures of palm trees is too many? What if they all are of different palm trees... but that palm trees all look the same? Does it help that one of them is at night with the moon in the back? I think so.

Regardless, I'm not going to stop taking them except for when I get on a plane to go back to Boston tomorrow. Then, I'll stop taking pictures of palm trees and instead start snapping shots from Row 28 of America. God Bless America - even all those states in the middle.

I got to LA on Saturday mid-morning and practically raced to the desert. That was my plan and I achieved it ... the thing is, the desert was empty and I didn't need to race a soul. I spent about 3 hrs in Joshua Tree National Park ... and saw about a dozen cars. After that, I proceeded to kick it in the Palm Springs vicinity for the night before doing some Sunday adventuring. 

raspberry macarons with coconut filling


This past weekend, I had four eggs left in my refrigerator which I elected to turn into pancetta cheddar scones.... and raspberry macarons. I made the macarons with my friend Lara in mind. At the time of making them, she was pregnant with twin baby boys. Seemed like a good occasion to make someone a tasty treat. I've always been really impressed with Lara and Dave's cooking. They were the ones that turned me to try lemon curd and I actually learned about macarons from Lara six whole years ago when we met. I remember her telling me how she had the most perfect macaron in Paris. 

I first attempted macarons pretty much exactly a year ago - and it turned out great. I'm still not sure how because according to the internet they are some finicky bitches. A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon this raspberry macaron and loved it from the pictures. I altered the original recipe because I have no idea where you find freeze dried raspberries that you then pulverize into dust. 

braised chicken with tomato and honey


In the spirit of getting settled in my apartment, I made great progress this weekend.

I planted some flowers on my fire escape, rearranged some furniture, and got rid of a few more boxes. I have increasingly high hopes for my green thumb this year. I bought this little watering system for $7 and it seems to really work. I also took a few good neighborhood runs and spent more time in my kitchen. I whipped up a batch of my cold brew iced coffee, my favorite pancetta scones, this braised chicken dish... and even some raspberry macarons.

memorial day wrap


It's hard to believe that it is almost the weekend again ... but I'm thankful for that.

There is something quite phenomenal about long weekends and Memorial Day came at the right moment. Nothing crazy, just the right moment for an extra couple hours away from Microsoft Outlook, pivot tables and sunset views from 12 floors above Boston.

I spent much of the three day weekend doing pretty much nothing. I've been trying to run more... so I ran each day. I'm trying to get back into cooking ... so I cooked three new things of which this was one. I'm trying to step back from my computer and phone ... so I did more reading in the hammock. I'm also trying to get into meditation ... so there is that. Long story short, it was pretty restorative and just what I think we all needed.

triple berry breakfast bread


It's Memorial Day weekend... so I'm busy.

Today I traipsed around the yard, cut the lawn, took a run, made some pasta salad... and this triple berry breakfast bread. There isn't really that much to say about this bread ... except that you shouldn't think of it like a cinnamon bun. 

Because you put an egg yolk in the dough, it feels distinctly like an enriched dough ... and not sweet like a cinnamon roll. I could say this without doubt because I also had a cinnamon roll at the same time. The original recipe called for braiding this loaf and fresh berries... but I rarely follow directions. That being said, I think you should. Fresh berries are soften than frozen (obviously) and would allow you to get a better roll on the dough.

BTW. That plate? We made it as a family about 13+ years ago and it has all of our handprints on it.

weekend stuff & baby pea quinoa cakes


I'm slowly trying to get back to a place where I cook more.  While I am slowly feeling more settled in my apartment, there are two thing that always make a place feel like home. Cooking ... and stuff on the walls. All of my walls are currently empty.

But the quinoa cakes help. I pretty much followed this recipe from 2012 but added baby peas and maybe a few other little nuances. 

This weekend was mainly spent doing things that I want to do. I went for a run and ordered my favorite takeout on Friday night. I traipsed around the "country" all Saturday. I ate oysters with my excellent friends. On Sunday, I got a breakfast sandwich from my favorite place and read magazines for 2 hours by the water. Later in the day I went for a long run and politely stopped to help tourists with directions. Helping tourists is one of my secret favorite things. 

city gardening returns


One of the last things I moved from my old apartment were my fire escape pots.

The delay was in part because my previous landlord tried to steal the pots for himself ... which was less than cute. But now they are back in my possession and where they belong. I have grand visions of another productive gardening summer that consist of tomatoes, basil and mint. There are few things that feel as productive or satisfying as ripping some basil from the fire escape ... and turning it into pesto.

The pots currently overlook the street... and a cute little Italian place that exists right out my window. Something about all that seems rather perfect.

tomato tequila salsa ... and seared cod


Admittedly, I was making slow progress on unpacking my apartment. Slow by steady progress. Each trash day I tried to make sure I was tossing 2 empty packing boxes.

But the entire time, my kitchen looked like all the cabinets threw up dishes. It was terrible. So, for about a week and a half I've been eating goldfish and chicken finger takeout. No jokes. Then on Friday I hired some freelance copywriter slash philosophy major organize my kitchen. It was phenomenal. When I walked back in after 3 hours, I immediately wanted to make scones. But instead, I ordered more chicken fingers .... and saved my energy.

Sunday has always been my day for trying a new meal... and this one was no exception. It was also probably the first day that I really felt at home in my apartment. I had a Peapod delivery, I drank coffee in the morning while I watched the news, and I finally cooked. Last year for Cinco de Mayo, I made tequila butter ... this year I made a warm tomato tequila salsa. 

my new apartment


I've lived here for maybe 2 weeks now but it some ways it feels like less and more all at the same time.

Like any relationship, we are still learning about each other day by day.

The bedroom is phenomenally dark in the mornings. This is great for sleeping but not great for waking up. I used to spring out of bed at 6:15-30 every day ... now it's a struggle. I also have all the hot water my heart could desire. The downside of the hot water, the exposed brick, and even floors? Less storage everywhere. Everywhere being I used to have 4 closets and now I have 1...

The lack of storage resulted in me hiring a stranger off the internet to come and organize my cabinets for me. It was the best $75 I've spent in a long time. "Chris" asked me if I was able to help but I told that I had to "work on a deck". But what I really did was watch Hulu in bed and eat cheddar blasted goldfish. Turns out Chris thought a "deck" was an actual deck that you would sit on ... as opposed to a powerpoint deck. Different lives.

on vacation


I'm on vacation for a few days. 

It's the first "vacation" that I've taken in pretty much exactly a year. December doesn't count because I was between jobs... and so there was really nothing to relax from beside the previous day of cross-country skiing.

I oscillate between really liking to maximize my days and wanting to do absolutely nothing. I want to wake up early, go for runs and bike rides, sit and do absolutely nothing, and never leave the vacation property. I have an Amazon package being delivered today with a few books to read because I'm not willing to drive 10 mins to an "adorable bookstore" (in the words of my mom).

I don't like to feel like I've missed anything so I'll probably try to find all the pools on the property. Ride my bike on all the paths that are possible. Find the best spot to catch sunset. I might even cook a location inspired dinner. Do fish and plantains go together? I also have a strong craving for donuts and feel like this place might have some good ones.

Moving Breaking Point


I'm at that point in the moving process where I probably hate you if you ever gave me a present. 

Why do I have so much stuff? Why doesn't it look like I'm closer to be doing done?

I think I've officially given up on the kitchen. I'm now willing to pay the movers to pack that for me. I am going to try and not be embarrassed when they see that I have heavy water spots on my glasses or didn't thoroughly clean the lid to my skillet. 

This is the current state of the union. There is a light at the end of the tunnel... and it's tomorrow when 10 more boxes arrive from Amazon. I'll just be putting anything in a box and labeling them all "stuff".

My Current Packing Moment


About two weeks ago, I bought 20 boxes off Amazon. 10 "office" size and 10 medium. If you count the boxes that they came in, plus a few others I've accumulated I think I have 25. I am relatively determined to move in these 25 boxes. I am ONE PERSON.

But, I'll be honest. I'm beginning to panic. Why do I have so much stuff? I have 8 coasters. These are small but still that feels like a lot. Here is a list of things that I can't believe I have to pack.
  • my wine rack is full
  • my terrarium (filled with shells. not plants. because I killed them)
  • my pirate sword
  • my decorative tray where the coasters sit
  • Eleanor's litter box
  • my EXTRA duvet fill
  • my basil and mint planters (filled with dirt)
  • my spice drawer (like 25 baby food jars. I don't even want to know what happens when I don't pack well and they all break open)
  • my "liquor" cabinet (these bottles are heavy. seriously.)
How am I dealing with all this? I packed like three boxes last weekend rather enthusiastically. I listed the contents on the outside and even thought I would get cute and number them. After box #4, I've stopped including the contents at all. I figure I'll just remember what's inside.

Early on in this process when I came upon something that I didn't feel like packing I was just like "oh, I'll just carry that over". I had this rationale for all the things in my bathroom. My curtains. My stash of Pelegrino. This rationale is heavily flawed.

The smartest decision I made? I hired someone to clean my new apartment and line all the kitchen shelves. He's coming tomorrow at 5pm and only requested that I bring a toilet brush. I can handle that.

Btw. I'm moving on Tuesday morning. Dan the mover said they'll be here between 8 and 8:30 in the morning. This apartment is still very full and very not packed. If I ever move into a house, I'm never moving out of it. The idea of packing more than this (e.g. children and their toys) is just far too much for me to ever handle.

Here are some past times that I've moved. 2010, I moved into storage for a bit. 2011, I moved into the North End and found a table saw in my living room. And why I'm moving in 2014.

one year ago ... and today


One year ago, I was doing this.

I've been thinking a fair bit about how I wish I was doing that again... and now. I miss Italy. But, I'll go back... and I'll eat just as much gnocchi, prosciutto, and prosecco ... if not more.

Instead of going to Italy this April, I've been filling my time with other things... like finding an apartment and moving. Today, I officially got the keys to my new apartment. I keep waiting to hear the catch. The apartment has wood floors, exposed brick, and is a block from the water. Plus, there is a giant window sill for Eleanor to sit on and watch people walk by. People aren't the same as birds... and I'll certainly miss this tree outside my bedroom ... but I'm really excited.

Apartment Magic = Gone


In many ways I consider this North End apartment to be my first real apartment. It's the first time that I've thoughtfully considered furniture before buying it. I made most of the curtains. Most of the wall art was made for each room specifically. But, I'm packing it all up. I just bought boxes on Amazon so that makes it pretty official.

On Monday, I hired my first exterminator. There are many things that I can deal with in life - but mice are not one of them. I. Just. Can't. We've been having "issues" here since January-ish. Issues that I tried to both ignore and get action on all once. It's hard to ignore the polite little scratching that I was hearing while watching Sunday night TV. Apparently exterminators are only allowed to be hired by landlords? This seems implausible but several companies turned me down despite my begging. "Johnny B from Southie" most definitely heard the desperation in my voice ... but thankfully didn't charge me a desperation inspired price.

beef bourguignon is not as hard as you think


Sometimes I make better decisions than others. 

But, if the most questionable decision I made this weekend was attempting beef bourginon at 8 pm on a Sunday ... then my decisions were a million times more responsible than the passed out drunks on the street this weekend. Holidays like St. Patrick's Day were never really my jam. I'm not quite the type to enjoy waiting in lines at bars, crowds of people wearing sarcastically matching knee socks drinking out of suspiciously colored water bottles, and watching people play Frogger with themselves on crowded city streets.

Beef bourguignon is essentially really fancy beef stew. You feel a bit like Julia Child and there is an open bottle of red wine ... so it's totally cool to just take a few swigs from it in between rounds of cooking meat. At least, I hope it's cool cause that's what I did. As you can see from this picture, it did result in just a whole lot of meat being cut up and seared in my kitchen.

maple syrup day at the farm


Today I found myself on essentially a children's field trip ... as an adult. I was oddly comfortable in the whole experience. Last weekend, I stumbled upon a posting for the "First Annual Maple Syrup Festival". Obviously this piqued my interest... and I bookmarked it rather quickly.

The idea of spending a couple hours traipsing around a farm felt like a way to ensure Spring was coming. The last time I went out to this farm was a phenomenal Fall farm day. I bought butter at the dairy and gawked at some leaves. This time around, I had plans to watch sap drip from the trees and then subsequently watch someone boil nearly all the water out of it. Dreamy day. 

In hindsight, it would make sense that this event was targeted at small children but I really didn't realize it until I showed up. After paying my admission fee, I sarcastically asked the volunteers if there were any adult activities or if the day was purely for children. The response? They have decorated 3 whole rooms in the historic house with respect to the time period. Uh, no thanks. So instead, I did all of the children's activities. I visited the cows and chickens, I had cotton candy and maple flavored yogurt, and stood in the front of the tour with the rest of the children. I didn't cry or drop my snack in the dirt, so big victories there.

Endless Strawberries


A couple of months ago I stumbled upon a recipe for strawberry loaf and was immediately intrigued. It just kind of looked "happy". You could see the bright red strawberries peeking out from the loaf. I saw it and just rather immediately wanted to make it ... and then never got around to buying strawberries. I would see them at Whole Foods - but the idea of spending $4.99 on a container and it being a potential disaster prevented me from pulling the trigger.

On Friday I was walking home from work and brainstorming what I wanted to bake this weekend. I have all the ingredients for a few things currently - including boeuf bourguignon. But, my walk home takes me through the legendary Haymarket Market where a good deal can be had on produce. It's how I ended up with a whole bunch of tomatoes, broccoli, and leeks on several occasions. This week, it was a lot of strawberries. And by a lot, I mean 4 pounds of them. Normal Friday stuff folks. For future reference, 4 pounds of strawberries will translate to 2 giant loaves of strawberry loaf and about 2 cups of jam.

the best homemade bread ever


I honestly felt like I had already written this up to be honest... but it deserves another post.

Last weekend amidst prepping for a couple days in LA, I pumped two loaves of homemade bread out of my kitchen. One was more of a wheat loaf, the other just plain ole white. I had wanted to mail something to my grandfather since I hadn't sent much his way in a few weeks. The other loaf was to bribe my sister to visit Eleanor while I was out of town.

While I had made the white bread before to accompany the Country Beef stew, the wheat bread was a new experiment. I had a bag of wheat bran on hand from the healthiest muffins ever a few weeks earlier. I haphazardly swapped one cup of regular flour for one cup of wheat bran and just hoped for the best. I barely got the bread out of the oven in time to take it to yoga and then the post office. Pretty sure it was a terrible thing to have the smell of fresh bread wafting out of my bag at a yoga studio.

Tender Meatballs


I've documented my love of meatballs several times probably. I realized a few weeks back that I had completely cleaned out to my freezer stash of meatballs. It may seem like a weird dinner, but sometimes just a few meatballs is perfect are a long day with a grumbling stomach at the ready.

Instead of making the same recipe again, I did a little sleuthing to come up with a different variation to try. The essence of a meatball is the same: meat, breadcrumbs, roll into balls, bake, and eat. But the variety and creativity comes in what type of meat you pick and anything else you add into it.

I had bought all the necessary supplies about a week earlier, but just couldn't pull my act together. So when last Sunday rolled around, I pulled all my ingredients from the cabinets and freezer and got to work. My memory noted few similarities between the old and new editions - but I really like how these came out. I will say, these meatballs need to be accompanied with a sauce. There is something about them that necessitates being rolled around in tomatoes to fully complete them. Lastly, they are "less salty" more "herby" ... if that makes sense to you. I feel like my original recipe leans salty so this is perhaps better for you? Who knows. Just make them and eat them.

Year 1 with Eleanor


My mom is always and forever asking me why I don't write more about Eleanor. I always say that I have to write about other things like recipes and hiking and breakfast sandwiches. Life's greatest experiences of course... 

Eleanor doesn't get more press coverage in part because I'm highly reluctant to the label of "cat lover". People that love their cats have a certain stigma that is often supported by cartoons, unattractive sweaters and words like crazy or bizarre. That being said, I've enjoyed having Eleanor in my apartment for the past year. I'd like to think she's kept any mice at bay. She has made it pleasurable to spend a quiet weekend in my apartment whether it's to clean, cook or crush some episodes of Gilligan's Island. Eleanor is also pretty capable of taking care of herself for a few days.

Winter in Boston


I'm currently in LA for a few days ... and soaking up all that translates to. I went for a run yesterday morning on the beach. I've been drinking ice coffee. I talk about the traffic. Those are LA things as far as I'm concerned. But, the best part of going someplace nice and warm... is pointing it out to as many people as possible that are still cold.

I'm honestly not sure what the weather is like right now in Boston. But, it made me think about all the snowy weekends we've had recently. I don't really get to reap the benefit of snow days like many other people - but the weekends are my opportunity to venture out. A few weekends ago, I slipped into my big tall Hunter boots, grabbed my camera and went for a nice long walk. There isn't really that much to say about these pictures except that I took them.

BTW, I'm a bit in love with that tree outside my window. I love watching it change seasons. It's my personal little wind meter since I can see the branches moving from my bed. Recently I've been looking at moving and it would be sad to not have this tree to act as my personal seasons barometer. I'd probably get over that if I had a dishwasher or enough hot water for a 10 minute shower.

Back to Boston on Thursday. Double crossies for good weather and less down jackets.

A few bright blooms


I'd like to think that I'm not one of those people that you hear complaining about all the winter.

Summer is my favorite of course, but winter isn't bad. It means fleece, fireplaces, endless hot coffee, and being cozy. Also, cross-country skiing. That being said, it does also mean that I've worn my Hunter Boots and big down jacket nearly every day to the office. But today the weather in Boston was down right warm. I almost felt bad going to yoga because it was nice enough to run outside in minimal layers.

I celebrated the warmth by returning to my favorite bench by the harbor and reading.  Then I took an extra long walk along the harbor with a friend. As I sit on my couch watching the Olympics, I almost feel like my skin is a little sun-kissed and that is perfectly fine by me. It felt amazing to actually be warmed by the sun ... as opposed to occasionally thawed.

polenta bake with sausage and kale

I believe sausage and kale is one of the best combinations out there. It's like peanut butter and chocolate as far as I'm concerned.

That being said, the combination is rather definitely indicative of Fall and Winter dining. I'm not sure how you make this combo into a summer meal ... so perhaps we should all just enjoy it while the weather screams cozy.

While I did eat leftovers of this dish for several days, I don't think polenta is really meant for a Wednesday lunch. It is meant to be consumed relatively hot out of the oven and perhaps while wearing comfy sweatpants and an oversized hoodie sweatshirt. My brother / family gave me a big ole bright blue sweatshirt from my high school for Valentines Day this year. I pretty much haven't taken it off. While not everyone can wear this outfit, everyone can enjoy this meal.



I am a bit of an early riser at times and this weekend was one of those times. But it helped me to really maximize my Saturday. We had a bit of snow during the work week and thankfully it stuck around a bit so I could go skiing. 

The rest of the weekend was really uphill from there. I got gently lost in the woods. Went to target. Ate cake at a family party. Reminisced about my youth at a basketball game. Found my favorite ice cream. Made a loaf of bread. Took a great walk. Ate beef stew and watched Downton Abbey.

Pretty much a winner. I'm hoping it all happens again sometime soon.

Country Beef Stew (with fresh bread)


Sometimes I have a really hard time finding something to make for Sunday dinner. Yesterday was one of those days, I had visions of beef slow cooking on the oven while I watched the Olympics ... but I wasn't really finding anything that fit my fancy. I thought about switching to fish... but was equally stumped. I even pulled several cookbooks from the shelves. It was in the last cookbook that I found what I was looking for... Beef Stew.

But, this beef stew is not like others. The little blurb in the Downton Abbey cookbook is what sold me: "Mrs. Patamore would be well aware of the rejuvenating effects of a solid meal, and would likely have made this filling stew for the staff during a particularly busy week... Mrs. Patamore would offer this dish as a way to soothe the servants' tired souls and feet" As a family we love beef stew which has been previously documented in this slow cooker recipe. And while the ingredients overlap in several cases, the outcome here is very different but no less great. Even though I'm the only person who added the spices to the pot, I had to stop and think about the difference when I took my first bite.

Baby Pea Oven Risotto


Last weekend I stood in the Charlestown parking garage with a dilemma. I already had two bags to carry the .80 mile (or 12 minute) walk home... but I also really wanted to bring this heavy cast iron dutch oven as well. And, it was raining.

The thing is... I had a lot of plans for this dutch oven and they needed to get started right away. My sister and I technically have shared custody of this pot but she is welcome to it anytime she wants to carry the 13 pound wonder down the 3 flights of stairs, down the hill, and up her 5 flights of stairs. But it was Sunday night and I knew I had sole custody.

The first thing I wanted to make with Big Red (the pot) was to attempt oven baked risotto. I'd heard a fair bit about it but never had the right type of pot to do a test. Spoiler alert? Oven risotto is frightfully easy and just as good. It's like making cupcakes and perhaps easier. You essentially leave the risotto the simmer away by itself for 45 minutes. You can do a lot of cleaning (or reading or nail painting or Tivo watching) in 45 minutes. 

Low Sodium Cooking Adventures

I'm really behind in my posting. Honestly, I thought about just posting the links to the original recipes and calling it a day. I even thought about pretending these recipes didn't happen just to feel caught up. But I'm a terrible liar and that feels like lying.

I had a really awesome day yesterday and I want to write about it - but before that happens... I must make some progress on the small mountain of recipes that have been through my kitchen recently. Without my fan fair, I want to talk about the couple of the low sodium recipes that I've tried out. Very rarely do I think about the nutritional components of anything when I'm cooking. I'll swap out heavy cream for light cream but, I'm normally thinking about making something a bit lighter ... not healthier... if that makes sense.

Recently, I learned that my grandparents are on low sodium diets. This makes sense they are both 80+ but I still had never processed what that meant for eating right. Turns out sodium is a sneaky little devil. Some quick research I did told me that our family members 55+ should stick to a diet that has 1,500 mg of sodium or less. Quick math had me attempting to find meals that would be less than 500 mg of sodium.

Without further ado, here are 3 of the 4 that I've attempted so far.

broccoli kale soup


This soup sounds a bit like something you'd eat for lunch if you were trying to be really healthy. But in reality it's what I made for the a Downton Abbey Dinner ... except that we were so tired that we opted to instead just watch "How I Met Your Mother". Sometimes you just need a little comedy and no reason to fight that.

The thing about this soup is that I wasn't super in love with it - probably because the vegetable to cheese ratio isn't the way I like it. Plus, there isn't any meat. I love meat. But, it does taste great and Kerrianne loved it. Sometimes I wonder if she just lies to me about whether she actually likes what I cook ... and then I remember her brutal honesty about my cardigan collection in 2001-2003. So, she must be telling the truth.

Podcasts and Snowy Walks


This picture you see here is the most popular Instagram posting I've ever had. I'm not quite sure why. I went to Italy for 3 weeks, spent the summer at the beach, and I love to cook with anything that looks or tastes like bacon. But anyway. I'm super behind in writing. I got an email from my friend Lauren this week that literally went like this:
Recipes that you can expect to see soon:
- Broccoli Kale Soup
- Honey Blueberry Oat Muffins
- Cheesy Broccoli Pasta

The thing is... more than ever I am spending all of my day staring at my computer and thinking hard. The last thing I've felt like doing when I get home is pulling out my computer and editing photos. I haven't even caught up on my celebrity gossip in days. I just barely heard that Justin Bieber was arrested for a DUI in Miami. I'm working on adjusting though to my new days. I don't get to watch nearly as much Charlie Rose in the morning. I take the T to work most mornings because that means I get more Charlie Rose but less exercise.

Maple Oat Breakfast Bread


This bread should really just be called "Vermont Bread". Because, when I think of maple syrup I think of my friend Meghan and her family's house in Vermont. I also think of this picture I once saw of her dad eating a hot dog that he boiled in the maple syrup he was making from his own trees.

So, essentially this bread is really wholesome. I imagine making it when you are having like a whole bunch of guests over. You toss it in the oven when you wake up in the morning and then when all your guests wake up and come down to the kitchen to the smell of fresh coffee... they just cut off a slice. Also, the bread is resting on a gorgeously thick butcher block and all the coffee mugs are at least 10 years old. Doesn't that sound like a romantic weekend? It's a dream. I mean that's pretty much like what happened for me this morning - except that it was just Eleanor and I. Also, no butcher block... but that's fine.

Lemon Sponge Cups


The last chapter in our Downton premiere menu is fittingly ... dessert.

Just to recap the PREMIERE episode meal, we started off with some gougeres as an appetizer then cut ourselves a slice of sausage and kale dinner tart. And because the dinner tart called for white wine, we also drank some white wine. Our dessert is a lemon sponge cup ... which sounds perhaps a bit boring... but it's rather quite great. You end up with this crazy delicate and soft sponge cake on top ... and a sweet custard on the bottom. I hesitate to even write the word "custard" because this now means I can never make this for my mom.

When I was looking for some dessert ideas, I came across a few things that I thought would be good. Then, I saw this recipe for lemon sponge cups and I was convinced. I was really drawn to how simple this whole dessert was from ingredients to preparation. I can almost guarantee that you already have everything in your kitchen right now. In fact, you probably have everything for the entire Downton meal in your fridge... except maybe the sausage or the kale.

Sausage and Kale Dinner Tart


Guys, I saw this recipe and practically fell in love. Like I normally do when I see a hot cup of coffee in an adorable old mug. Not a new mug, but an old mug.

It is simple and a kind of a bit rustic. Kale makes me feel rustic, except I guess in this kale caesar salad. I think people that say they don't like kale are the same people that say they dislike brussel sprouts or asparagus. You can say you don't like these things, but please tell me you have tried them at least 5 different ways. If you need 5 ways, let me know.

I get pretty excited when I'm picking recipes for Downton Abbey dinners. This year for Christmas my family actually gave me a cookbook just for this events. I'm not quite sure what a "dinner tart" is but I don't know that Ms. Pattmore made them in the early 20th century. And if she did, she most certainly didn't have a food processor to quickly whip up the crust - which by the way might be the best crust I've ever mad. It was perfect.

Gougeres (aka Cheese Puffs)


And... we are back to Downton Abbey season!

I feel oddly cautious about burning myself out like I did last year. A three course meal is a fair bit of work for each Sunday evening - obviously, it's not terrible work ... but work none the less. There were some great hits last year. Kerrianne still talks about those deviled eggs like angels made them.

So when I was thinking about this premiere episode I initially thought I would just make a dinner and a dessert. But this morning, I stumbled upon a recipe for gougeres and was shocked to realize that I had all the ingredients already on hand. By the way, gougeres are essentially just another way of saying cheese puffs.

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