Saturday, August 12, 2017

A is for: #Alpacamybags {Peru, Part II: Machu Picchu}

When I returned home from Peru, I often got asked: "What was your favorite part from the trip?"

I know it sounds obvious, but without a doubt the highlight of this trip is Machu Picchu. Yes, we ate some incredible meals in Lima, yes I got to snuggle an alpaca, but nothing compares to that "take your breath away" moment when you first set eyes on these ancient ruins (and the hundreds more of those moments you will experience throughout your time there.)

There is a certain energy about the place that is hard to describe in words and photos, but I will do my best to show you why this place was so magical.

There has been talk of more regulation, and perhaps shutting it down altogether in order to preserve the site, so my recommendation is to visit sooner rather than later!

A is for: #Alpacamybags {Peru, Part I: Lima}

I guess you could say my appetite for International travel started at a very young age.

When I was just two years old, my parents and I traveled to Peru to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins, who were living in Lima for a year.

In case you hadn't figured it out yet, that's me in the middle there with the sweet outfit, bottle in hand, and sassy attitude. To be honest, I don't remember much of anything from this trip, but I believe it was there that I was bit by the travel bug.

Nearly 35 years later, I made my return to this beautiful South American country, trading in the bottle for Pisco Sours and very badly in need of an adventure.

As many of you know, I was laid off by ESPN in April. When I called to tell my
friend Dana, one of her first reactions was: "Come to Peru with Devin and me!"

As you know, Dana has become my travel partner in crime the last couple years. In our short time of knowing each other, we've visited South Africa, the French Riviera, Singapore, Thailand and Montreal together.

I was originally invited to Peru with her and Devin, but at the time couldn't justify taking that much time off work due to a France trip I had booked for later in the summer (more on that soon!)

But, as it turned out, I suddenly no longer had a job and found myself with endless vacation time. I didn't need much convincing. I booked my flight just a few days later. Or in the words of our trip hashtag... #alpacamybags!

Unlike most of my trips, I did almost zero planning for this one, as Devin and Dana had done all the leg work. For maybe the first time since my Greece trip, I sorta just showed up and was along for the ride!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Z is for: Zucchini Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta

I've been wanting to make stuffed zucchini blossoms on the blog for quite some time now.

But here's the problem...

Because their life span once harvesting is so incredibly short, they are almost impossible to find at the farmer's market or in stores. (though you may get lucky!)

Honestly, the best and easiest way is to harvest them from your own garden (if you are fortunate enough to have one!)

For the first time in my adult life, I have a verrrrry small collection of herbs and plants this year, and one of the things I planted was zucchini!

So when I saw them start to bloom, I knew I needed to try making these.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Y is for: Yellowtail & Mango Ceviche with Leche de Tigre

For those of you who follow me on instagram, you already know that I had the amazing opportunity to visit Peru earlier this summer. (For those who don't, I will be posting an in-depth recap soon!)

While there, my friends and I spent a couple of days in Lima, where I had undoubtedly the best ceviche of my life. (Fitting, considering it was the Peruvians who basically invented it.) We also had a chance to make some of our own in a class during our trip, so I knew I wanted to create a version to share on the blog.

Traditionally, it's made with a white fish such as sea bass, sole, or mahi, and often a mix of other fish such as octopus or shrimp. Since I was coming up on the letter "Y," I decided that Yellowtail would be a perfect canvas for this delightfully fresh dish.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

X is for: Xiao Long Bao {easy Shanghai Soup Dumpings}

Whenever I explain to people the concept of my alphabet-themed food blog, one question that inevitably comes up:

"What do you do when you get to 'X'?"

I'll admit, I didn't exactly think it through when I launched the blog, obviously not accounting for difficult letters like "X," or having to go through the alphabet multiple times and deal with it on each pass.

(Confession: sometimes I skip it altogether.)

But it's also produced some of my prouder moments, like: Xacuti (a spicy Indian curry) and eggplant with XO sauce. Sticking with the Asian theme, I decided to tackle something I wouldn't have even considered six years ago (or maybe even last year): Xiao Long Bao, AKA Shanghai Soup Dumplings.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

W is for: Wasabi Potato Salad & Wagyu Beef

For some reason, this specific blog post has been staring at me from my "to-do" list for longer than I care to admit.

And I don't really know why exactly. Both recipes turned out awesome, so I know it's not that. Justin took the photos, which are beautiful, so it's not that either.
If I'm being honest with myself, the reason is probably fairly simple. 

Life.

Sometimes life happens. And it changes plans and sucks your energy and adds things to your to-do list that are more pressing than a wasabi potato salad.

As many of you know, I was laid off from my job at ESPN as part of the mass talent cuts made on April 26th. For anyone who has ever been laid off, you'll understand me when I say it's a punch to the gut. They can tell me all day long it's about business and money and changing times in the industry. But at some point during that HR meeting, your eyes glaze over and the people talking start to sound like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoons. And all you really hear is "you're no longer needed here."

Friday, March 31, 2017

V is for: Veggie Tots

"Give me some of your TOTS."

"No, go find your own."

That's pretty much the conversation you will have if you make these delicious veggie tots. You may or may not hoard them in your cargo pants like Napoleon Dynamite, but you will definitely not want to share them. ("I'm freakin' starved!)

I'm calling these "veggie tots" because you can pretty much make these with any veggie. I made them with cauliflower to mimic the look of their potato cousins, but you could also try broccoli or sweet potatoes.

Now, will they exactly mimic tater tots? No, I can't promise that. But they will provide you a much healthier and lower carb snack by subbing cauliflower and baking in the oven.
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