2014 New Recipe Quest


Eggs Florentine
I poached an egg!

I finally conquered my fear of this seemingly daunting task...
then I smothered that beautiful, shimmering, healthy egg with butter, cream, cheese and bacon.

We have to keep things real people!

I derived this recipe from a Florentine egg dish I had at a brunch years ago in New York City.
The place was over-crowded, noisy, and flirted with filthy, but their food was delicious.
So delicious, that I have been thinking about making this dish since.

The only problem is that I don't like breakfast. 
At least not at breakfast time.
Much to my breakfast-loving spouse's dismay, he is usually in charge of this meal...not to mention that he would never make this.
So, for years I have just kept this tucked in my sensory memory bank, just waiting to break free.

Well, to cut this long story short, over this past Thanksgiving weekend of pure gluttony, I actually woke up early and cooked! Zoiks! 
The timing seemed right and I had most of the ingredients.

I am very glad I did, because I may have to make this again;
Just maybe for dinner, and in the summer when the tomatoes are ripe for picking.

Serves two hungry, hungover people


4 eggs

1 small onion, sliced thin or chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

5 tablespoons of butter, divided
1 tablespoon of flour
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
2 cups of Parmesan/Romano cheese
s/p to taste

4 generous handfuls of fresh baby spinach

2 Thomas' English muffins, or homemade crusty bread, toasted and buttered

4 strips of bacon or pancetta, cooked until crispy and drained

2 generous slices of a juicy, ripe tomato:
*I used canned San Marzano tomatoes today because this was the only ingredient I didn't have: I drained four small plum tomatoes (2/serving) and cooked them briefly in a sauce pan. You don't have to do this with a fresh tomato; just slice and enjoy.

1. Prep all ingredients (cut, chop, slice and measure)
2. In a large pan, saute onion until tender in two tablespoons of butter, add garlic for 1-2 minutes at the end. Be sure not to burn the garlic.
3. Add the remaining three tablespoons of butter and stir until melted.
4. Add flour and stir to make a paste
5. Add nutmeg
6. Add the heavy cream and stir until hot
7. Add the Parmesan cheese, a little at a time, stirring gently. 
8. If the sauce is too thin, add more cheese. s/p to taste.
9. Add spinach, a handful at a time and cook until wilted. Keep warm.
10. Meanwhile, cook your bacon and poach your eggs and place in a fine mesh sieve placed over a bowl to drain
11. Also, toast and butter your bread component

*To poach the egg, bring water to a boil with the juice of half a lemon. Crack the egg and gently slide it into the water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the white is cooked and the yolk is set, but still runny. With a slotted spoon, remove and put into a fine mesh sieve to drain.

For assembly:
1. Place your bread component on the bottom of a medium-large shallow rimmed bowl. 
2. Top the bread with the slice of tomato (or cooked San marzano tomatoes). 
3. Top with poached eggs. Season with salt and pepper. 
4. Top with spinach/onion/cheese mixture. 
5. Finish by topping with cooked bacon or pancetta. 
6. Serve with a giant cranberry mimosa
7. Eat immediately

I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as we did!
Let us believe that it is healthy because of the spinach, tomato and the poached egg.

(Does this count as two!? :)

My sister is a kitchen goddess.
She is one of the best home cooks I know, and we had the delight of eating some of her best creations a few weeks ago.

She opened the evening with hot, doughy, salty German beer pretzels. 
Fresh from the oven.

(Sung like an angel on high)

Dreams are built around pretzels like these.

I, of course, in true younger sister fashion, had to copy her;
So as soon as I got home I ran to Wegman's for all purpose flour and beer.

So good!

Close up! You can almost smell them!

Ready for action.
I honestly can't believe they made it this far.

Oh ya, we went there.
Cheddar and ale fondue for the serious dippers.

The same exact pretzel recipe makes bagels!
I just made them round and added our favorite bagel toppings, sesame seed and garlic.
Next time we are going with EVERYTHING!

The addiction spreads.
PKR's beauties;
those are olive and rosemary bagels back there!

So much for going carb free before the holidays!?!
Oh well, we only live once, right!?
And to live a life with fresh hot pretzels and bagels, is to live a life of happiness.

This is such a crowd pleaser, 
and the kiddos totally love them.

I highly recommend them over the holidays. 
You just have to invite me over.

http://www.tasteof home.com/recipes/soft-beer-pretzels#

Thank you Whitney for the delicious inspiration!

The other day I wanted to make soup.
It was cold and dreary outside, 
and there is little that a pot of soup simmering over a warm stove all day can not heal. 

But, unfortunately, my son isn't a big fan of liquid based dinners, a trait he must have inherited from his father, since my husband doesn't believe soup to be a meal either...
What if it were a chowder!? 
Clam chowder, corn chowder...Maybe a bisque?!
Nope. Still too close to soup.
This is my thought process...

So, then I thought about making a beef stew...that might be a sell!? 
But we just had pot roast the previous night...too similar...
So I graduated to Boeuf Bourguignon...
just a fancy French term for beef stew...we are still there.

Then Coq au vin came to mind...that might have worked, but I didn't feel like having chicken.
What about Bouillabaisse!? 

Bouillabaisse, Jambalaya maybe...
How 'bout Paella!?
I have never made Paella!?

And what a great choice. 
Not only did I conquer my fear of this seemingly complicated mixed sea and land dish from Spain, but all were satisfied;
I got my warm-over-the-stove experience; 
my husband was happy because I made something different, delicious, and not soup; 
and my son...well, my son did not eat it assembled, but he did eat the sausage, cleaned of sauce...and the accompanied bread.

Close enough for me!

Yields enough for one large human or an entire hungry family

1 cup of brown rice
4 cups of unsalted chicken stock (pref. homemade)
24 small little neck clams, scrubbed and cleaned
1 lb. of link sausage (or chorizo) cut into 1 inch lengths
4 chicken thighs, trimmed and sliced or cubed
1 lb. deveined, peeled, uncooked medium to large shrimp
large dry scallops (one or two per person)

1 onion, sliced or chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced or chopped
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 stalk of celery with leaves, chopped
2 fresh garden tomatoes, chopped (or one large can of diced tomatoes)
1 can of San marzano tomatoes

Seasoning mix (combine the following):
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp. cayenne (+ extra tsp. for chicken)
2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

juice of 1/2 a lemon

crusty bread, warmed (optional: make into garlic bread)

1. In a large paella pan, or deep saute pan, saute onion and red pepper in 2 tbsp. olive oil until fragrant, about 7 minutes, stirring.
2. Add garlic and celery and saute 2 minutes, stirring.
3. Add seasoning to the onion, red pepper, garlic and celery mixture.
4. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, saute chicken thighs and sausage until mostly cooked (season with a tsp of spice mix and a tsp. more of cayenne)
5. Add rice to the onion/pep/garlic/celery mixture and stir to coat.
6. Add stock, 1/2 cup at a time, continuously stirring as the liquid is absorbed, and rice is cooked through (about 45-55 minutes). Check to make sure rice is tender. Add more stock if necessary and continue to stir and cook until rice is tender.
7. Add tomatoes, chicken, sausage, seafood and clams. Simmer until clams open and shrimp and scallops are opaque.
8. Squeeze lemon juice over entire pan of mixture and serve with warmed crusty bread.

This is such a great dish to be served and shared family style, and is relatively easy to make. 
Cooking the rice is a bit laborious, so if you are short on time, you could cook the rice separately and just mix into the onion/pepper/garlic/celery mixture.

Either way, it is well worth every and any effort.


Cheese Monger Mama
My life is almost complete.
I made mozzarella cheese!

And it was surprisingly simple and quick. 
And it made the best cheese I've ever tasted.... 
I think it was the personal pride oozing out with every bite...

You would think that I was the first person on earth to ever make cheese. 
It was like a science experiment! 
A deliciously rewarding science experiment.

Now, I just have to master making pasta and wine...

Here, I served the mozzarella with snipped basil, lemon zest, Herbs de Provence olive oil and Hawaiian black lava salt.
The only three ingredients, besides water;
I found the vegetable rennet and citric acid powder on Amazon, and I picked up the raw milk at Klein Farms down near Easton, PA

My Sous Chef

Squeezing out the excess whey

And my very own taste tester!

I have to attribute my cheese making success to The Pioneer Woman;
 Her photo blog made the step by step process less intimidating, and so simple. 
Thank you Ree!

For my PA friends, you can buy raw milk at Klein Farms down near Easton, and Earthlight Organics in Stroudsburg carries their products as well. 

I am really glad that I tried this.
 It was so rewarding! 
I was really intimidated, but it truly is very easy to do. 

I hope you all had a great weekend, 
and if you are looking for a fun Sunday project, this is it.

Say cheese!

ps. Do I smell a cheese party in our future!?!

Labne Love
On a recent trip to Barnes and Nobles with my son, I haphazardly grabbed a cookbook off of a display table as we rushed to the wooden train set. 
Yes, I use the train set as bribery to get my son to the bookstore.
That's right.

Regardless, much to my perusing delight, I grabbed 'Balaboosta' by Einat Admony. 
It is not only a beautiful book, filled with delightful stories and photographs about family and inspiration, but the recipes are manageable, loaded with fresh flavors, and a nice diversion from our regular cooking repertoire.

Today, in preparation for a dinner party tomorrow, I am making super simple, super delicious Lebanese labne.
I have joked that I could eat an entire tub of yogurt or sour cream given the right circumstances.

Well, here we all can with social acceptance!

Buy or borrow this book.
You will love the recipes, images and stories!

Stay tuned for after images!


Cheers to Cherries!
Cherry season is here in full force, 
and I can't resist putting them in everything from infused water and lemonades, to smoothies, to boozy drinks and foods like granola, crispy duck, and cherry chicken lettuce wraps...
and don't get me started on desserts! 

Thank you Mother Nature for these sweet treats.

Here are just a few of the ways we used cherries this past week:

Friday's Happy Hour Cocktail;
Cacique shaken with freshly squeezed lemons and limes, simple syrup and split cherries
then topped with seltzer and served over ice.
The cherries added the necessary sweetness and depth of flavor.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry, Banana and Kefir Smoothie Deliciousness

Deb Perelman's Awesome Granola with Dark Cherries, Maple + Coconut
(See Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Recipe)
A perfect nightcap:
An Old Fashioned made with a muddle of cherries, orange zest, brown sugar, bitters,
shaken with top shelf bourbon (such as Blanton's),  topped with a splash of club soda,
 and served cold over ice.

On tonight's menu: 
Pork tenderloin wrapped with Gary's double-smoked bacon served with a cherry-almond compote...

Stay tuned!

Let's enjoy these cherries while they last;
It seems like as soon as they come, they disappear!

Happy Monday Everyone!

The Sour Temple
Hurray, it is Friday!
I love it when company comes to town!

Here is a short preview of our weekend;

I think I'm going to call this concoction the
 "Sour Temple"... or maybe the "Shirley Sour"...
...you see where I'm headed...

We are going to make fresh sour mix 
(this will actually be Elias' job; to squeeze a dozen lemons and a dozen limes and a few oranges...good parenting, I know, I know), 
sweet cherry simple sugar,
chill and shake it over ice with Cacique, a clear booze distilled from sugarcane that is popular in Costa Rica,
then top it off with some bubbly seltzer for festivity's sake.

I can tell it is going to be a delicious weekend.
Just add a baby pool and life will be complete!

Have a great weekend everyone!

ps. I'm sorry Kath and Paul, we were going to wait and drink the Cacique with you, but we can't resist! 
We will have to make another trip to Costa Rica for the next batch!

The Clam Experience
Now, I have eaten many a steamed clam in my day.
 I have always loved clams; 
raw in the half shell,  
chopped and tossed in garlic and herbs, 
loaded into soups and stews,
stuffed with sausage and breadcrumbs...
I could go on forever.
 As a matter of fact, Bill used to tell a story that I ate two dozen of his steamers when he brought me to the Bowling Alley one night...I was around 4 years old.

However, I may never, ever, ever look at clams the same way again. 
Here, I have been eating and enjoying them forever, however I had never actually cut into one.
I have steamed a million, but I never physically took a knife and cut through the center of a clam.

Have you!?

Well, this brings me to the main point of my story;
 Our friend Johnny spent the 4th of July weekend clamming with his family and brought us back a cooler filled with giant-sized clams.
I thought; I'll make linguine with a spicy clam sauce!
I scrubbed the clams.
I steamed the clams.
I took my favorite cooking knife and cut into one....

What I got was not what I imagined.
I didn't think it was going to be pretty, but I didn't expect the layers of disgustingness I found.

Now, apparently the sauce turned out delicious, but I spared you the imagery of the gruesome process.
I'll trust that you will try it on your own before you ever eat another clam...

Look at these monsters! 

After scrubbing them clean, I steamed the life out of them.

Don't they look delicious!?
This image doesn't justify their size.
Steamed, these puppies were each about the size of my palm...


They look so nice, chopped, sprinkled with crushed red pepper...

Homemade spicy clam sauce!

You would never know...

This photo gallery is a lame demonstration of the slaughter that took place in my kitchen Monday afternoon.
I may never eat clams again...
But the men at Shooting Club said it was delicious and gobbled the plate clean
 (even the old school Italian man)!

Serves 10 hungry shooters (adjust accordingly)

Ingredients & Gear:
About 30 large clams, scrubbed and rinsed
A large pot (with a steamer attachment) to steam clams and cook pasta 
A large colander to drain both clams and pasta
A large pot to make sauce
A large serving bowl + additional bowls for serving 
The obvious cooking and eating utensils

Approximately 6 cups of fresh garden tomatoes, blanched and peeled (or San Marzano canned if you can't find good tomatoes..very important ingredient;)

1 cup of oil
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
1 small can of tomato paste
A handful of lightly torn basil
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons of crushed red pepper, pulsed into a finer dust

2 boxes of linguine


First, make your sauce in a large pot by sauteing your carrots in oil with a tsp of salt and a pinch of pepper until slightly tender, add garlic and cook for about two minutes. Do not allow your garlic to brown or it will add a bitter flavor. 
Add your tomatoes and cook down on low heat, smooshing with the back side of your spoon. 
Optional: Pulse with an immersion blender if it is too chunky, or if you don't have an immersion blender, allow the sauce to cool and blend in batches in a blender until smooth.
Add tomato paste. 
Add basil. 
Add crushed red pepper.
Stir and taste. Note that it will get spicier as it simmers and sits. But, if you want to blow the socks off your guests, feel free to add more crushed red pepper.
Don't let the sauce boil. This whole process should be low and slow, and can be made well ahead of time. In fact, the sauce I used today was the last of my batch in the freezer from last summer's bounty.

Second, while the sauce is simmering steam clams in batches until they pop open. 
Drain and allow them to cool. 
Try not to barf.
*Don't toss any part of the clam...apparently it adds to the flavors of the dish...
Try not to barf.
Repeat until all clams are steamed and chopped.

Sprinkle with a pinch of crushed red pepper and mix them with the sauce.

Third, boil water, salt and cook pasta to package directions. Drain, reserving about one cup of the pasta water. In a large family-style bowl, toss the pasta with about two cups of sauce and the pasta water. Drizzle the rest of the sauce over the top. Serve family style with garlic bread and Romano cheese (optional...some seafood snobs disagree with the cheese/seafood combination...don't ask me, the more cheese the better!).

Fourth, allow your diners to finish their meal before revealing how absolutely disgusting it is to chop clams...

Let me know how you did!

White Whole Wheat Bread...Not Necessarily NEW...but a new version of an old favorite

I know, I know, 
who the hell bakes bread on the hottest day of the year!?

That is what Panera is for, right!?

Well, I guess I do.

This time I went absolutely wild and split the white flour with white whole wheat, for no other reason than I was low on the white bread flour and I had a bag of the other stuff burning a hole in my pantry shelf...

The results were less fluffy and doughy than the original white bread I make, but it was a nice change.
This bread has a slight nuttiness; 
a dense and earthy flavor that makes me feel like I am being healthy.

It was very very good, and I'll definitely be making it again, and again....

just maybe on a slightly cooler day.

Here is the link to my favorite, go-to, fool-proof bread recipe. 
Simply substitute White Whole Wheat flour for half of the White flour!



Black Bean Brownies
Black bean brownies?!

Do they make you fart!?

Why mess with something so perfect as the brownie?!

Yes, this was my initial reaction as well.

However, and much to my surprise, these are delicious;
moist, doughy, fudgey...
Everything you want in a brownie, but with more fiber, less flour and slightly less guilt.

My friend Christie actually mentioned this healthier alternative a few months ago and I thought she was absolutely, 100% crazy...

Then I ran a race down in Bethlehem, PA where they were giving them out as treats to the finishers.
I grabbed a few.

I tasted one and thought, "These are actually really good!"

So, to make sure I wasn't just feeling desperate and light-headed from running, I gave one to my son.
He gobbled it up and came back for seconds.

Then I tested the last one on my husband, and he liked it too!

So, in honor of Christie, here is a recipe I found on the Food Network's website.

I apologize for doubting you!

*The only thing I changed was I added chopped hazelnuts.


Enjoy Everyone!

Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Cayenne Candied Nuts
I knew I should have never, ever, ever started to experiment with this concept; 
sweet and spicy candied nuts....
but now I am in too deep, 
and extremely addicted...

 The love affair began when I found something similar at Homegood's...a sweet, crunchy, 
candy - nut concoction.
They were so good that I hid them at the back of my cabinet, out of view from any potential snackers.
I ate them all.

I loved them, but I kept thinking that something was missing...heat!
So I created a mixture of what I think is my perfect mix of sweet, salty, spicy and nutty.

Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your liking. These are so quick and versatile.
Eat them warm right out of the oven...
Oh, those little crumblings on the bottom of the pan!?! 
To. die. for...

These should definitely come with a warning label.

Makes enough to fill four 500 ml sized jars after snacking...

2 cups of pecans
2 cups of walnuts
1 cup of chopped hazelnuts
1/3 cup of dark brown sugar
2/3 cup of white sugar
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
1 egg white

The steps toward addiction:
1. Beat the egg white until foamy and toss into the nuts until they are shiny and coated.
2. Mix the sugars, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne and slowly add to the nuts, tossing to coat.
3. Line a large tray with parchment and spread out the nuts in an even layer
4. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Stir about half way through.
5. Remove from the oven
6. Taste one small piece of nut and never look back...


This is a perfect Friday treat!

Quinoa Salad
In attempting a semi-gluten free lifestyle, 
I created this fresh summer quinoa salad.
I believe the mixture of savory and sweet is what makes it most appealing.

If the weather ever decides to cooperate and actually warm up one of these days, this is a fresh,  healthy, and hearty alternative to the routine pasta or potato salad.

I look forward to making it over and over again this summer!

Give it a try!

Makes a huge salad for a large crowd. You may want to divide in half if you are only making it for your family or a few people.

1 cup of quinoa cooked to package directions
2 cups of good, ripe strawberries, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
One nice chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 of each, chopped: red pepper, orange pepper, yellow pepper
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro

The juice from one lemon and half of one lime
1 cup of good quality olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa to package direction, toss with olive oil and lemon juice and let cool.
While the quinoa is cooling to room temperature, prepare the rest of your ingredients
Stir together and serve at room temperature.

Don't let this salad scare you. 

Even my potato salad loving husband showered me with compliments!


Roasted Beet Tarts
My love for beets has been a development.

I ate one years ago and I thought it tasted like dirt, so I stayed away from them for a very long time...
actually, it wasn't until I grew them in our garden myself that my perspective shifted...

Call me narcissistic. 
But, enough about me...

I found this recipe in a magazine (I think it was Country Living?! Help if you know!?),
however, I adapted it to my liking. 
I love the balance of lemon juice with the earthiness of the beets, so I amped up the acid, added a little spice, and changed the recommended goat cheese to blue...
because I hate goat cheese...
but that is your call...

And I know it is obnoxious when bloggers say things like "this is so easy...blah blah blah"....
...but this is actually so easy.

And so delicious.

Makes 6 tartlets

3 red beets and 3 golden beets; roasted, peeled and sliced (toss them in oil and bake them in the oven at 375 for about 30 minutes or until you can poke them easily with a fork...let them cool...peel, slice)

Six squares of frozen puff pastry shell
The zest from one lemon
The juice from 1/2 a lemon
crushed red pepper
Blue cheese, crumbled (or goat cheese, crumbled)
Olive oil

1. Roast, peel and slice your beets. 
2. Toss the beets in the lemon juice, s/p and a pinch of crushed red pepper.
3. Remove the pastry from the freezer and cut into squares
4. Top the pastry squares with the beets. 
5. Sprinkle the cheese and the lemon zest over the tarts 
6. Bake at 375 until the puff pastry is golden brown, about 25 minutes.
7. Assemble the tarts on a platter and drizzle with olive oil and more lemon juice


I cannot wait to experiment more with this recipe!
I am thinking balsamic reduction...piave cheese instead of blue...
Roasted red peppers or poblanos with the beets perhaps?!
The addition of herbs!?
I could go on and on!

What do you guys think?!?
Any recommendations!?

French Onion Soup

I am not French.

My step-father was French Canadian, and to my little bit of knowledge, I have heard that doesn't really count... 

I took four years of French in high school under a man with a thick Boston accent....
ask me how I fared in Paris...
it wasn't pretty. 
In fact, it was an absolute fucking nightmare.
I left broke and in tears, on a Southbound train headed for Italy...

Well, I guess when it is all said in done, I am probably as French as French toast.

Or, French Onion Soup!

mmm...French Onion Soup!

Cry Festival:
Four pounds of onions ready to go!
Onions, after one hour in the oven at 400 degrees.
The house smells yummy!
Two hours and counting...
I hope this is good...
After the third hour...
Getting brown!
Out of the oven and onto the stove top...
The onions are finally nice and dark after three reductions on the stove top.
Like I said, I hope this is good!
Toasted homemade crusty bread with Provolone.
Leave it to me to cook all day and forget the Gruyere!
The cheese is the most important part of French onion soup!
How could I forget!?!
Oh well, we are too far now...

This soup was very very good.
All day good?!
I don't know about that...
But it was pretty good.

Maybe if I hadn't forgotten the key ingredient (Gruyere cheese), it would have been better...

Nonetheless, I would recommend it on a rainy indoor day;
 It is affordable, comforting and your house will smell amazing!

Let me know what you think!

6-8 Servings

4 pounds of onions (I used a combination of yellow and red)
3 tablespoons of butter
1 tsp of salt

1/4 cup of dry sherry

5 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups of beef broth
4 cups of chicken broth
salt to taste

Gruyere or Provolone Cheese
Crusty Bread

Chop your onions and cry your eyes out.
Coat the inside of a large dutch oven with the 3 tablespoons of butter
Add onions and 1 tsp of salt

Cook for one hour.
Take out and stir.

Cook for another hour.
Take out and stir. Scrape the brown bits from the sides of the dutch oven and stir into the onions.

Cook for another hour (three hours total in the oven).
Take out and stir. 
Put on the stove top over medium heat and stir until the onions start to brown. Continue to scrape the bottom and sides of the dutch oven to capture all of the beautiful caramelization.

Pour in 1/2 a cup of water. Stir, scrape and reduce. Repeat this three more time.

When the onions are dark brown, add the sherry, scrape and stir until reduced one last time.

Add 2 cups of water, the beef and chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf. Allow to simmer on low for 30-40 minutes. Salt to taste.

At the end of the simmer, toast your bread until crunchy. Top with cheese and melt.

To serve: Pour one cup of soup into a large bowl. Add a sprinkling or slice of cheese. Top with more soup. Serve with toasted cheese bread!


* I adapted this recipe from Cook's magazine and my own taste preferences...

Sauteed Beet Greens with Garlic and Hot Pepper, Roasted Roots, and Applesauce Oatmeal Bread
What a rainy, crappy weekend!

Well, save the weather we had a very nice weekend here in Northeast PA.

My mom came to visit, and we made our ever welcome pilgrimage to Wegman's and Homegoods,
Todd and I got a much needed date night, 
I got in two solid training runs,
We planted our seeds for our garden,
I cleaned out four disastrous cabinets, 
and I tried two (sort of) new recipes.

The rain couldn't slow us down!

Maroon carrots from Wegman's!
How funky are these babies!?

First attempt at cooking beet greens = possible new obsession.
Step aside escarole....

Roots ready for roasting

Roasted roots with lemon vinaigrette

Spiced baked chicken, roasted root vegetables with lemon vinaigrette, and sauteed beet greens with garlic and hot pepper

Elias' contribution to dinner;
Applesauce Oatmeal Bread Batter

Applesauce Oatmeal Bread
King Arthur strikes it out of the ballpark again:


If I learned anything this weekend it is that I really love sauteed beet greens (why was I so afraid?!), I love date nights and clean cabinets, 
Wegman's is still my favorite store, second to Homegoods,
and I wish my mother lived closer...but I've known that forever...

I hope you guys all had a great weekend and that the rain didn't stop your fun!

Ina's Winter Minestrone
You can't go wrong with a big pot of soup when it is chilly outside. 
It warms your kitchen, your bones and your soul. 

This recipe eats like a stew, and develops deeper flavor as it sits, so feel free to make it ahead of time.

Pair this with a bottle of crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a big loaf of crusty bread, and you will have dinner for days!

This is Ina's recipe. 
I followed it step by step. 
Except the garlic bruschetta...we made a honey wheat bread and a crusty white bread instead. 
But, who cares!?
It is all good...unless you burn it...


ps. Stirring in fresh pesto at the end definitely raises it a level, so try not to skip that step!


Touchdown Treats
Ya, I don't really get into football.
Fanatics tend to scare me; 
they are loud and aggressive and somewhat unreasonable. 
I just don't understand the entire culture.

Call me un-American.

 Maybe it is because I grew up in a town where they barely had enough boys to make a soccer team...and I went to a college where lacrosse was almighty... 
but I can dig any party, 
so when Superbowl Sunday rolls around you can guarantee that I will be in the kitchen snacking on all things bar-food inspired.

Also, we didn't have a party, but if we did I can imagine a sea of fat: 
pulled pork nachos, Thai peanut chicken wings...maybe a giant fountain of cheese!?

But since there was only a few of us, I tamed my inner food-pushing beast and only made a few select items...

Double Smoked Bacon Jalapeno Poppers

Before the Oven

Half of these are stuffed with cream cheese and chives, and the other half are stuffed with a mixture of cheddar and monterey jack cheeses.

Fingerling Potato Skins

Before the oven

Who doesn't love potato skins?!
I made these with fingerling potatoes to make them ultra snack-able.


Jalapeno Poppers
Makes 12 poppers

6 Jalapeno Peppers
4 ounces of cream cheese
monterey jack cheese
cheddar cheese
fresh ground pepper

Cook 12 slices of thin-sliced bacon until golden brown but still bendable. Set aside to drain and cool.
Cut the jalapeno peppers in half, lengthwise and remove the seeds and ribs. 
Arrange the peppers, cut side up on a parchment lined pan or baking dish.
Mix the cream cheese with chives and black pepper. 
Fill the peppers with the cream cheese mixture and wrap with the precooked bacon. Secure with a toothpick if necessary, or tuck the bacon under the pepper to hold it in place.
Bake at 375 until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Serve immediately.

Fingerling Potato Skins
Makes 12 potato skins


6 Fingerling potatoes
Cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese
Chopped green onions
Cooked bacon pieces
Sour Cream for serving

Bake the fingerling potatoes until tender (you should be able to cut them in half with ease)
Cut the potatoes in half and gently scoop out the flesh from each side of the potato. Leave only a thin amount of potato flesh on the skin.
Arrange the potato halves on a parchment lined pan or baking dish.
Fill the halves with cheese, chopped green onion and bacon. 
Bake at 375 until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Serve immediately with sour cream.

I made mozzarella sticks too, but I burnt the shit out of them, so they didn't make the photo spread.

I hope you all had a great Superbowl Sunday!


Gotham City Casserole
I have gotten a ton of positive response and inquiries regarding the 'Gotham City Casserole' I made the other day for my son's Superhero party.

Believe me, it is Superhero worthy!

I actually got the recipe from Deb Perelman's 'The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (2012).'

Deb is an amazing food blogger that lives in Manhattan and has taken the food world by storm. 
As a home cook, she makes accessible recipes that always turn out delicious.

As you guys know, I am not very good at baking, but her recipes are my new first stop when I am looking for something off of the Food Network spectrum. 
If you haven't checked her out yet, you need to: 

This recipe was not only like diving face first into a New York City bagel shop, but it carries a golden halo because you make it the night before.
This means you can visit with your company and actually enjoy the conversation because you don't have to cook! 
Or hit that snooze button one more time!
Just pop it in the oven, sit back and enjoy.

(This is a loose rendition of Deb's recipe. 
For her actual recipe you have to get her book, which is worth it, and highly recommended; 
Not only for the recipes, but for her banter, food commentary, and beautiful photographs)

8 cups of good bagels cut into cubes (I used a variety of pumpernickel, everything, sesame, poppy and garlic)
8 ounces of chilled cream cheese, cut into small bits
1/4 medium red onion sliced into thin half moons
1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
8 large eggs 
2 1/3 cups of milk or half-&-half
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

lox and capers and/or bacon for serving

Spread a third of the bagel cubes in a 9x13 inch pan. Dot the bagels with a third of the cream cheese bits, and mix in the red onion and cherry tomatoes. Repeat in two more alternating layers. Whisk eggs with milk, salt and pepper and pour the mixture over the bagel mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning discard plastic wrap and bake at 350 for an hour to an hour 1/4 or until a knife comes out clean. Let it rest 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with lox and capers on the side, and/or bacon

I almost skipped the side of lox and capers, but I am glad that I didn't; 
It made it just that much better.

Thank you Deb for my new go-to breakfast casserole!

Friends, you will be seeing this on my counter for years to come!

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