Wednesday, December 6, 2017

F is for: Fried Mac 'n Cheese Balls

A couple weeks ago, Justin and I hosted our first Thanksgiving in our new NYC apartment. My mom flew in for the holiday, and we also hosted various friends who did not have a chance to head home.

Being the psycho organized planner that I am, I sent out several emails in anticipation of the big feast. I have certain staples that are always on my own Thanksgiving table (GBC, garlic mashed potatoes, Grand Marnier sweet potatoes, sourdough stuffing... just to name a few.)

However, I wanted to make sure we also included dishes that were special to our guests. My friends made several suggestions, including macaroni and cheese. Feeling like we already had enough side dishes to go with dinner, I decided to turn the idea into an appetizer. A cheesy, breaded, deep fried, glorious appetizer.

Monday, December 4, 2017

E is for: Eggs en Cocotte with Crab

Hopefully most of my readers know by now that I'm the new floor reporter for Food Network's reboot of the Iron Chef franchise (it's called Iron Chef Showdown, and it airs on Wednesday nights at 9pm ET/PT, so if you don't already... PLEASE watch.)

Anyways, what many of you DON'T know, is how I got the job.

I'll save you what my friends call one of my "yarns" (long stories that tend to drone on endlessly), and just tell you that it included a live audition at the Food Network studios in NYC. Actual chefs competed with a "secret ingredient," and I had to interview them throughout the process.

The ingredient that day was eggs, and one of the chefs made something called "Eggs en Cocotte." To be completely honest, I had never really heard of it before, though in retrospect I had definitely eaten them previously without knowing the fancy name.

Basically "en cocotte" is a French term that refers to the way the eggs are cooked. (In small vessels or ramekins.) It's a very elegant way of serving eggs, and I thought it would be fun to share with you here on the blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

D is for: Dad's Clam Chowder

Does anyone else feel like fall has had a bit of an identity crisis?

The beginning of it was super hot, almost unbearable summer temperatures. Then we got some bone-chilling 32 degree days last week, and now it's back in the 40's and 50's.

Regardless, autumn is finally here and that definitely means sweater weather. And scarf weather. But for the purposes of this blog, it is most certainly soup weather. A warm, thick, creamy bowl to warm you up on the coldest of days.

My dad's clam chowder definitely checks off all those boxes. He made it for Justin and me when we were home visiting Montana this past September, and I couldn't wait to share it with you here on the blog.

While it's perfect for fall, you can really justify making it anytime of year.

It's just that good.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

C is for: Champagne! {Part III: Paris}

The third leg of our French adventure wrapped up in La Ville Lumière (City of Light.) Paris was not initially high on Kim's list, having visited previously when she had recently discovered she was pregnant. I assured her it would be a much different experience this go around, especially considering she was not allowed to drink Champagne OR eat cheese on her first visit. (Two of my most favorite French activities.)

Personally, I had only been to Paris back in 2002 when I was traveling through Europe following my study abroad program. It was one of the only portions of my six week trip where I traveled alone, so I was excited to return with a friend.

Despite the rainy weather, I was determined to make Paris just as memorable for Kim as our stops in Versailles and Reims.

Monday, November 6, 2017

C is for: Champagne! {Part II: Reims}

Being the Champagne lover that I am, this one has been on the bucket list for awhile. I always enjoyed my frequent visits to Sonoma & Napa while living in the Bay Area, but THIS... this is the birthplace of my favorite wine of all time.

It is my mothership.

As you may or may not already know, any winery can produce sparkling wine, but you can only call it "Champagne" (with a capital C) if it hails from the Champagne region of France.

For that reason, this was the star portion of the trip, which we planned everything else around. So after our relaxing day and night in Versailles, we set off for our 3 day trip to Reims.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

C is for: Champagne! {Part I: Versailles}

It was around this time last fall when my friend John reached out to me with an unusual request. He was planning a special present for his wife Kim's birthday, wanting to gift her a girls trip, a fun getaway and little break from work and mommy life. (Insert "awwww" sound effects here.)

Being the frequent globe trotter that I am and one of Kim's closest friends, I was a natural choice and I of course said yes! That was the easy part. Deciding on the perfect location was a bit more challenging.

We quickly came to the conclusion that a visit to the Champagne region of France would be on the itinerary, considering our mutual obsession affinity for the bubbly. After pondering several other Western Europe locations, we eventually came to the conclusion that sticking within north-central France made the most sense.

Seeing as how neither of us had been to Versailles, we added that to the list, and rounded it out with a couple days in Paris. Oui oui!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

C is for: {Thai} Cashew Chicken with Caulflower Rice

I continue to marvel at how busy I constantly manage to be, despite not having to go to work five days a week. The last two months have been an absolute whirlwind, and I'm just now starting to catch my breath. Of course, the blog is always the first to suffer, as evidenced by the fact I've gone almost two whole months without a post.

Between my trip to France (still need to blog about), our 3-week Northwest road trip (future blog series), and picking up and moving my whole life to Brooklyn... I haven't left myself a whole lot of time for E is for Eat. In the midst of the traveling and chaos, I've also managed to gain a few (ok, several) pounds to the point that some of my clothes stopped fitting.

I decided it was time for a reset. I'm sorrrta doing a Paleo-ish eating plan. (I say sorta, as I just downed a salad with quinoa on it, which doesn't technically fit.) But, for the most part, I'm avoiding grains, dairy and legumes and cutting out alcohol for at least a couple weeks. It's only been a week and a half and already I'm feeling less bloated, with much more energy.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

B is for: BBQ Beans in the Slow Cooker

I've found myself thinking a lot about my Grandma Joyce recently. She was my dad's mom, and truly one of the best people ever. My heart broke in half when she died of cancer when I was in 8th grade. She was so giving, so selfless, so full of life and love. She was sassy and funny too.

I miss her every day.

As I was getting ready to host a casual backyard BBQ for my birthday a couple weeks ago, I decided my Grandma Joyce's BBQ beans would be the perfect compliment to our spread of wings, burgers, steak and chicken.

I think she would've loved the party and I'm excited to share her recipe with you here on the blog.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

A is for: Artichoke Jalapeño Hummus

All summer, I've been sort of obsessed with artichoke hearts. I've discovered the frozen variety at Whole Foods, and I love tossing them with olive oil and grilling them alongside my chicken or steak.

I'll throw the grilled 'chokes on salads, eat them as a side dish or dip them in tzatziki sauce or hummus.

And then it dawned on me the other day... (with the help from my friend Megan's IG post)...

What if I put them IN the hummus?!?

(For some reason that reminds me of Zoolander... the files are IN the computer.)

Anyways, so I made some hummus. With artichoke hearts. And jalapeños from my modest little garden. I brought it to two different girls outings and it was a hit, so I'm sharing here on E is for Eat.

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 ASAP!

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.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

U is for: Uni Carbonara {Sea Urchin Pasta}

I have a weird love-hate relationship with Uni.

I feel like it's a very "foodie" ingredient and I'm supposed to be obsessed with it and order it whenever it's on a menu.

But the truth of the matter is, I don't love it.

Most of the time, it tastes to me like I'm taking a big bite of the ocean, and if you've ever been crushed by a wave and taken in a mouthful of seawater, it's not always the most pleasant experience.

That said, there are some instances where I can enjoy and appreciate the unique flavor and "umami" it brings to a dish. For example, one of my last nights in Greece a couple years ago, we ate at a nice Italian restaurant in Mykonos for my friend Josh's birthday. They had an uni pasta dish so I decided to try it. And lo and behold... I liked it! That said, it was still very rich and I couldn't finish the whole serving (especially after wine and appetizers), but I liked it enough to try my own version here on the blog.

Monday, January 30, 2017

T is for: Travel! {Montreal}

This always happens.

As soon as I return home from a really awesome trip, I immediately must start planning another one.

Remember when I went to Greece? I came back and instantly started mapping out my visit to London.

Or how about my epic trip to South Africa? I went to Tulum just a few months later. France planning bled right into planning for Singapore and Thailand, and once I returned home from that vacay (and recovered from my bacterial infection), I frantically felt the need to go somewhere cool for New Year's Eve just a few short weeks later.

I considered somewhere warm like Miami, or a ski weekend in Vermont, but thankfully my travel partner in crime (Dana) texted me with the same urge and said "Let's go to Montreal!" Done and done.

Monday, January 23, 2017

T is for: Tomato Tarragon Soup with Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

My addition is real.

And for once, it's not food related.

I know I'm about 5 years behind on this, but I finally started watching Game of Thrones. And I now understand what all the fuss is about.

I've been meaning to start for about a year now, and finally decided that winter of 2017 was the right time. (Winter is coming... heh.)

Problem is, it's consuming my life. I watched 17 episodes my first weekend. I'm now through the first three seasons (so 30 episodes in all) with 30 to go.

The rest of my life is somewhat suffering because of it, specifically the blog. So I'm implementing a self-imposed "pause" from my GOT binge to get caught up on a couple blog items... starting with this very season-appropriate comfort food dish: grilled cheese and tomato soup. (Ironically, I actually made this during the first weekend of binge watching, so I did manage to tear myself away from the show for a couple hours then. A girl's got to eat, you know?)
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