Coq Au Vin & Red Mashed Potatoes

I’d like to tell you that this coq au vin, in all of it’s buttery-red-wine-buttery-braised glory, would be the star of this post. While my adult self is shouting at me, I have to tell you that all my inner child wants to do is eat a giant bowl of these red mashed potatoes and call it a night. Red mashed potatoes have been on my family’s thanksgiving table every year that I can remember, and it’s all I can do to resist sneaking spoonfuls while the bird is roasting away. I couldn’t bare only having these for Thanksgiving though, so when the temps start dropping I can’t think of anything that I would rather have more than these creamy dreamy mashed pots covered in slow-braised gravy of some sort.

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While these mashies hold a special place in my heart, i’ve managed to maneuver a little space for this coq au vin. Tender chicken is nestled in a sauce made with butter, shallot, red wine, garlic, bacon and a splash of cognac in perfect bliss. And when it’s combined with these creamy red mashed potatoes? Say hello to your new favorite comfort food! Eff it, we can always work out in January…

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Coq Au Vin & Creamy Red Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

coq au vin
-
4 slices thick cut bacon chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 sweet onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 2 medium size carrots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
- 1/2 a bottle of red wine
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 4 whole sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped

Red Mashed Potatoes
-
2 pounds small to medium red potatoes
- 1 tablespoon of salt (this varies every time for me honestly. Be the judge and add as much salt as you like!)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk or half-and-half

What to do

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy duty pot. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

  2. Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

  3. Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add in the tomato paste and stir into the mixture and cook for another minute.

  4. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer on the stove until the liquid is reduced by about 1/3 and the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.

  5. While the stew is cooking, make your potatoes. Scrub potatoes and cut into chunks. Put potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water and add salt. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain well. Place them into the bowl of your stand mixer or just a big bowl and mix using the paddle attachment, add in butter and pour in half and half while it’s mixing. Use your judgement and add in more salt, butter, or half-and-half to your liking.

  6. Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

Enjoy!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

How’s that extra hour treatin’ ya?! Flying back to the east coast as often as I do I normally am not that effected by a time change, but for some reason when the time switched on Sunday morning I woke up at 4:30 am! It might have something to do with the fact that I took a 3 hour nap the day before (don’t judge), but regardless it was crazy that I felt so awake that early in the morning! I had the most productive day ever, obviously since I started 5 hours earlier than a usual Sunday. I got up and got all my coffee drinking/Netflix binging/laziness out of the way, then I went for a run, and grocery shopped at two stores all before 11 AM! I also wanted a bottle of Cognac for cooking (er, sipping), so I showed up to the liquor store at 10:30 not thinking and had to wait outside for 30 minutes…awkwaaard. No biggie, just hanging out at the corner liquor store first thing on a Sunday morning 🙋🏼‍♀️

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I made two recipes over the weekend that i’m excited about!! I watched Julie & Julia Sunday morning (since I was up at the butt-crack of dawn) so felt compelled to cook something with a lot of butter & garlic, so I made coq au vin with creamy red mashed potatoes. You’re literally going to want to bathe yourself in the coq au vin sauce - not joking. The 2nd recipe I cooked up was broccoli cheddar soup - a fan favorite, everyone’s Panera go-to, and your best friend in the wintertime. I LOVE a good broccoli ched soup, and don’t get me wrong, heavy cream and cheese is my lovvaa, but a lot of times it doesn’t leaving me feeling the greatest. So I wanted to make something that was way healthier but felt just as indulgent. Best of both worlds! I adapted this recipe from Elizabeth but just tweaked it to make it slightlyyy more unhealthy by adding dairy 😄

And guys….this carrot potato cheese sauce will blow your mind. Thank god I was just feeding this soup to Thomas because I literally licked the spatula at least 10 times before dunking it back into the sauce…whoops.

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients


Cheese Sauce
1 ½ tups of diced golden Yukon potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes)
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 tarlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon of vinegar (white wine or red wine vinegar works)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
¼ teaspoon of freshly black pepper
1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese (omit if making vegan)

Broccoli mixture
1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme sprigs
5 cups of chopped broccoli heads, plus more for garnish
1-2 tablespoon of miso paste
pinch or two of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup of almond milk
½ cup of chopped green onions

In a large saucepan add golden Yukon potatoes and carrots. Fill pot with water until vegetables are just covered. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-12 minutes. Drain carrots and potatoes and add to a blender or Vitamix. Add in garlic cloves, olive oil, white wine vinegar, grated cheddar cheese, kosher salt, and black pepper. Blend cheese base mixture for 30-60 seconds or until smooth and creamy. Reserve ½-1/2 cup for soup garnish and set aside the rest.

In a large dutch oven heat olive oil one medium heat for 30 seconds. Add in diced onion, celery stalks, garlic and thyme leaves. Sauté mixture for a few minutes or until the onions are translucent. To the same pot add the chopped broccoli and sauté for 5 minutes. Add in miso paste, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt and stir together. Add vegetable broth and cover pot for 15 minutes. (For the garnish, I took a couple pieces of broccoli out of the pot after it had cooked for a couple minutes).

Transfer the entire mixture with a ladle into large blender or Vitamix and add in cheese sauce. You may need to do this in two batches. Blend soup for 30-60 seconds or until smoothness level is achieved (I like it a little chunky but mostly smooth). Transfer soup back to the pot and heat on low or serve right away. Top soup bowls with a few tablespoons of remaining cheese sauce, green onions and chopped broccoli. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Banana Bread

HAPPY HALLOWEEN WEEKEND!!

Do you have any fun Halloween plans? We have a work party tomorrow night in Seattle. Normally I go all out on a costume, but this year I’m throwing on a flannel and overalls, turning into a scarecrow and calling it a day! I want to be festive but there’s nothing worse than an uncomfortable costume. The rest of the weekend I plan on watching scary movies, breaking into the mini KitKats and pumpkin shaped Reeses and having a cozy weekend at home.

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Last weekend I baked this pumpkin banana bread and it is so perfect for Fall. Not too sweet for breakfast and is great with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. We always have bananas lying around, so this bread is even better when you have a couple of really ripe ones. I adapted this recipe from Cookie & Kate. I love her pumpkin bread, I just tweaked it by adding bananas and adjusted the measurements a little.

I hope you all have a great weekend, filled with all the pumpkin-y things, scary movies, haunted houses, costume parties, and copious amounts of candy!

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Pumpkin Banana Bread

Ingredients
- ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup milk of choice
- 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin spice blend (or ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (NOT baking powder; they aren’t the same!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
- optional: ½ cup mix-ins like chopped walnuts or pecans, chocolate chips, raisins, chopped dried fruit…
- Pinch of ground cinnamon, for sprinkling on top

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

  2. In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together together with a whisk. Add the eggs and whisk until blended. (If your coconut oil solidifies on contact with cold ingredients, simply let the bowl rest in a warm place for a few minutes, like on top of your stove, or warm it for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)

  3. Add the pumpkin purée, mashed bananas, milk, pumpkin spice, baking soda, vanilla and salt, and whisk to blend. Lastly, switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour, just until combined. Some lumps are ok! If you’re adding any additional mix-ins, gently fold them in now.

  4. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. If you’d like a pretty swirled effect, run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern.

  5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (typically, if I haven’t added any mix-ins, my bread is done at 55 minutes; if I have added mix-ins, it needs closer to 60 minutes). Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer the bread to a cooling rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

Savory Stuffed Pumpkins

I watched this episode of Parts Unknown when Anthony Bourdain goes to Daniel Boulud’s home in France where they bake this giant pumpkin in a brick oven. The pumpkin was stuffed with homemade bread, gruyere cheese, mushrooms, grated nutmeg and fresh cream from the cows on their farm. I have literally been dreaming about this pumpkin ever since and anxiously awaiting fall until I could make it!

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This is such a fun and easy recipe! (Besides carving the damn pumpkin)

I swear, I love Halloween and I am always so excited to carve a pumpkin, but when I went to take out the seeds and strings from even these small sugar pumpkins it proved that it’s a little bit of a pain in the ass! Just make sure you cut a big enough hole for the top because my hand barely squeezed in there to pull everything out haha. I had battle wounds after carving these suckers! But besides that, it’s smooth sailing I promise. :)

I stuffed these little guys with the most insanely delicious mixture eva. Browned sweet Italian sausage, shallot, garlic, fresh thyme, cubes of sourdough baguette, kale, and lots of shredded gruyere cheese. DONEEE. I would gnaw my way through the pumpkin itself if I had to to get to that mixture! Happy feasting Friends!

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Savory Stuffed Pumpkins

Ingredients

- 3-4 small baking pumpkins, or 1 large pumpkin (5-10 pounds)
- 1 French baguette, cubed. It’s better if it’s a little stale, or bake the cubes for a few minutes
- a lot of grated gruyere cheese. I grated about 1.5 cups
- 1 pound of Italian sausage
- 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- chopped fresh thyme - roughly 1 tablespoon
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 to 3 heaping cups of kale
- 1 cup half-and-half (adjust according to your preference)

what to do

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a heavy-duty knife inserted at a 45-degree angle, cut out a “lid” from the top of the pumpkin. Remove any seeds and cut away any loose strings using kitchen shears. Be prepared for gooey hands and to find random strings of pumpkin in your kitchen for years to come lol.

  2. Combine the bread cubes and Gruyère in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

  3. Heat a little oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking it into pieces with a wooden spoon, until it is golden-brown and cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the bowl with the bread and cheese.

  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallots, cooking until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and fresh thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Increase heat to high and add the wine, using the wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the wine until it is almost evaporated. Add the kale and a generous pinch of salt; stir until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add everything to the bread mixture.

  5. Transfer the stuffing to the pumpkin, filling it all the way to the top. I then poured a little half and half in each pumpkin. This part is totally your preference. If you want to add the cream to the mixture before filling the pumpkins you can, but I like the idea of just topping off the mixture with a little cream when it’s already in the pumpkin. Put the “lid” of the pumpkin back on and put in the oven.

  6. Bake until the filling is bubbling and hot, and the meat of the pumpkin can be pierced with a knife. This can be anywhere from 1 to 2 (or more) hours, depending on the size of your pumpkin.

  7. Carefully transfer the pumpkin(s) to a serving platter. Slice the pumpkin into large wedges and serve with a big scoop of stuffing!

Skillet Chicken & Sweet Potato Pie

Fall grub must have some hue of orange in it right? Isn’t that a prerequisite when deciding what to make this time of year?! All I want is sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut, roasted carrots, and candy corn. Yes, lots and lots of candy corn. Ok, maybe i’ll save the candy corn until Halloween night, maybe.

We had the the most relaxing (err..lazy) weekend ever and I managed to fill it with as much autumn-y goodness as possible. Friday night I made roasted spaghetti squash with mushrooms in a sage butter sauce, accompanied by cabernet and a cheesy horror flick. It was so off the wall that it was actually funny. Have you seen the The Visit?! It’s the one where the grandkids go to meet their grandparents that they’ve never met, and of course there’s a twist! Not great, but entertaining at least. On Saturday we slept in which was much needed, Thomas studied a little, I read and napped (tired much?!), and for a late lunch we wondered to a great new sushi place in our neighborhood Fish & Rice! If you’re in NW Portland you have to check it out!

Sunday’s are meant for a good meal. Whether that’s a fun brunch out with friends or a cozy dinner at home. I’m such a fan of slow cooked meals, but there’s also days where I just feel like doing something quick and easy but it still taste like you’ve put hours into it. This skillet chicken & sweet potato pie is exactly that! It uses rotisserie chicken to make your life easy and you only have to pull out one pan to make the whole meal. The BEST for lazy Sunday days.

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Skillet Chicken & Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 rotisserie chicken (skin and bones discarded)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion

  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced

  • 4 cloves of garlic minced

  • Fresh rosemary, chopped, about 1-2 tablespoons

  • 2 tbs tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire

  • 1 cup of chicken stock

  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced (use a mandolin to get them really thin!)

  • Onion and garlic powder to sprinkle over the potatoes

what to do

  1. preheat oven to 350

  2. In a large skillet (or big deep cast iron skillet), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté until they start to soften and get some color on them, about six minutes. Add the garlic and chopped Rosemary, along with a pinch of salt and pepper; sauté another 30 seconds or so, until the garlic is fragrant.

  3. Move the veggies over in the pan and add the tomato paste. Press the paste into the pan for a few seconds to get the flavor out. Add the Worcestershire sauce, shredded chicken and stock. Season with another pinch of salt, and let this simmer about 10 minutes, while you thinly slice the sweet potatoes.

  4. Evenly and lightly press the mix in the pan, so that the potatoes lay evenly on top. Layer the potatoes over the chicken mix, starting with the outside edge, overlapping each other. Once the potatoes are arranged, brush with the melted butter. Then sprinkle with the onion and garlic powder, and another small pinch of salt.

  5. Bake anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes (depending on your oven), until the potatoes are cooked through, tender, and starting to curl on the edges

Spiced Apple Cider Mules

Hap-happy Friday!

This week has been a busy one after getting back from vacation last Friday. Getting caught up at work, unpacking, getting the apartment clean, and trying to get back in a workout routine made the week go by lightening fast! I’m trying to savor as much as October as possible, but I feel like the month is just whizzing by!

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We were supposed to go to a friends cabin this weekend, but Thomas ended up having a big flight test come up earlier than expected, so now we are just going to have a quiet weekend at home. While he’s studying, I want to go explore some different neighborhoods in Portland, do a little shopping (I want some cute new props for pictures), and maybe have a picnic somewhere when he needs a study break since it’s going to be such beautiful weather! And you know what would be perfect for a picnic?

SPICED APPLE CIDER MULES! I

t’s basically Fall in a glass which is all I want this time of year. Bourbon, cinnamon whiskey, apple cider, and apple juice? Strong: YES, delicious: YES, goes down like water: YES, YES, YES. I like pouring all the ingredients in a mason jar and giving it a quick little shake before pouring it into the copper mug. I’m not sure, that might be a no-no in a bartenders eyes, but I thought it worked great since everything was mixed so well!

Have a great weekend ya’ll. I hope it’s filled with these mules, and all the cozy Fall Halloween-y things!

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Spiced Apple Cider Mules

Ingredients

- 3-4 Oz of apple juice
-4 Oz of hard apple cider
-1 Oz of bourbon
-1 Oz of cinnamon whiskey (I used Fireball, but any kind will do!
-crushed ice, cinnamon sticks, apple slices, and rosemary if you want to add a little greenery for garnish

  1. In a copper mug fill with crushed ice and pour all of the ingredients in a mason jar and stir, or pour all ingredients directly in the mug.

  2. Finish cocktail off with a garnish of lime wedges, cinnamon sticks and apple slices. Drink up!

How to Make Cozy Miso Ramen at Home

I am on a major ramen kick right now. Like I want to be slurping up noodles everyday kind of kick. Up until about a year ago, I had no idea ramen was anything more than plastic packages of dried noodles with a salty flavor packet. I had my first really good bowl of ramen at Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya in Portland and I have been hooked ever since! I never realized there was so many variations- I dream of the day Thomas and I can travel to Japan hopping from spot to spot, slurping up bowls around every corner. Have you guys watched Ramen Head?! It’s a documentary about Tomita, one of the top ramen chefs in Japan, and it’s fueled my ramen fire even more!

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I am definitely all for take-out and sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and let someone else do all the work. But I wanted to see if I could truly make an authentic bowl of ramen, so I did and it was SO worth it. You should definitely have some time on your hands if you’re going to embark on this endeavor, but in the end a cozy bowl of slurpy goodness will be waiting for you 🍜

Shopping at your local Asian grocery store will make this a lot easier since you can find great fresh ingredients like miso and fresh ramen noodles. I pretty much followed Lady and Pups recipe besides tweaking a few small things and it turned out incredible! Like she says, the ingredient list may look a little long but the preparation is super easy!

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Miso Ramen

Recipe & notes from Lady & Pups

It’s important that you use unsalted, or minimally salted stock for this recipe.  I always store homemade, unsalted chicken/pork stock in the freezer as it gives me total control of the seasoning in the final dishes.  Whether you are using homemade or store-bought, if your stock already has a prominent saltiness to it, you’ll have to reduce the amount of spicy miso paste to accommodate which will reduce the miso-flavour in your soup.  You’d be trading flavours with salt, see?

The type of soy milk may also make a difference.  I prefer Asian-style unsweetened soy milk which tends to carry a stronger “tofu/soy bean” taste, but if that’s unavailable, American brands soy milk will do, too.  Just make sure it isn’t sweetened, or flavoured with vanilla or etc.

-The only variation to this recipe I made, is that I used a pork hock to make my pork stock and then shredded the meat afterwards and garnished the bowls as opposed to using ground pork in the recipe, but either way is delicious!

Ingredients:

  • Spicy miso paste: (enough for at least 8 servings)

  • shoyu soft-boiled eggs:

    • 4 large free-range eggs

    • 3 tbsp of soy sauce

    • 2 tbsp of dark brown sugar

    • 1 tbsp of water

  • Garlic and togarashi oil:

All of the above can be made beforehand and kept in the fridge until needed.

To make the spicy miso paste:  Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smoothly pureed.  You may need to stop and scrape the blender a few times to get it going in the beginning.  Transfer the mixture into a pot and set over medium heat.  Bring to a low simmer and keep cooking/stirring for another 5 min.  Let it cool completely and store in an air-tight container in the fridge until needed.

To make the shoyu soft-boiled eggs:  Gently place the eggs in a small pot and fill it with water until the eggs are covered by 1″.  Add a generous pinch of salt (not listed in the ingredient-list because it’s more of a superstition for easy-peeling than anything…) and bring the water to a bare simmer on medium-high heat, then immediately lower the heat down to low (only enough heat to keep it at a bare simmer/or if you want to be anal, 212ºF/100ºC).  The second the water reached the right temperature, set the timer at 4:30 min.  Gently move the eggs around a few times during cooking.  Once the timer goes off, immediately transfer the eggs into cold water and leave them to cool completely.

Combine soy sauce, dark brown sugar and water in a small sauce pot.  Warm up the mixture just enough to melt the sugar, then set aside.  Peel the eggs then submerge them in the soy sauce-mixture.  Turning them occasionally while marinating for 2~3 hours.

To make the garlic and togarashi oil:  Combine minced shallots, minced garlic, sesame seeds, salt and vegetable oil in a small pot and set over low heat.  Slowly cook/stir until the garlics are crispy and lightly browned, approx 5~6 min.  Turn off the heat and add the Japanese chili powder/togarashi.  Give the mixture a stir and let it sit for a few hours or overnight.

  • Spicy miso ramen: (for 2 servings)

    • 220 grams of fatty ground pork (or use a pork hock that you made pork stock with)

    • 1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil

    • 1/4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper

    • 1 tbsp of dried shitake mushrooms

    • 2 cups (475 grams) of unsalted chicken or pork stock

    • 1 cup (227 grams) of unsweetened, unflavoured soy milk (Asian brands preferred but if unavailable, this will do, too)

    • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup of spicy miso paste

    • 2 servings of fresh ramen noodles

    • 4 tbsp of finely diced scallions

    • 1 sheet of nori/Japanese sushi seaweed, cut into rectangular sheets

To make the spicy miso ramen:  Rinse the dried shitake mushrooms to get rid of any sand/dirt.  Finely chop them and set aside (without soaking).

In a large soup pot, heat up 1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil on high heat and start browning the fatty ground pork with ground black pepper.  Once the pork has broken up, browned, and released its fat, add 1/4 cup of the spicy miso paste and cook for another min until fragrant.  Add the chopped shitake, unsalted stock and unsweetened soy milk and bring to a simmer.  Place 1/2 cup spicy miso paste on top of a very fine sieve.  Lower the sieve half-way into the simmering soup and use a spoon to slowly dissolve the paste into the soup (it may seem very thick and troublesome in the beginning but be patient, it’ll dissolve eventually).  You’d be surprised at how much “solids” within the paste will remain on top of the sieve, which if dumped directly into the soup, will make the soup very thick and “sauce-like”.

Discard the “solids” in the sieve and let the soup simmer for another 5 min.  If the soup tastes quite salty at this point, that is correct.  It’s Japanese ramen…  It is salty.

Cook the fresh ramen noodles according to package instructions, and drain well.  Divide the noodles into two large bowl and ladle the soup on top (you may have a bit more than needed).  For each serving, place 1 shoyu egg (cut into half), 2 tbsp of finely diced scallions, 3 rectangular nori sheets, and 2 tsp of garlic and togarashi oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Slurp away.

Seared Scallops with Butternut Squash Purée

People are obsessed with all things Pumpkin this time of year. I mean OBSESSED! Have you walked into Trader Joe’s lately? Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin shaped pasta, pumpkin spice coffee creamer, and even pumpkin spice hand-soap! I have to admit, I did order a pumpkin spice latte today at Starbucks and I might have already decided what i’m going to be for Halloween, so I have no room to judge…

However, if you’re needing a break for pumpkin but are still wanting to give some love to the squash family, butternut is your guy (or girl?)! Normally i’ve ever just used butternut in stews or my favorite butternut squash enchiladas, but we puréed it up for this first time and it is silky autumn delectableness.

This was a random recipe we made and it ended up being a crazy delicious combo so I wanted to share it with you guys! If you’re wanting to make something that looks fancy but is super easy and quick to cook-up, this is for you!

And If you’ve never seared scallops, YOU GOTTA MAKE IT HAPPEN. Not only are they scrumptious and perfect sea vessels, but they are surprisingly simple to make. The trick is not to flip them right away and let them get a perfect golden crust. Do it, just do it alright?

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Seared Scallops with Butternut Squash Purée

Ingredients (recipe is for two people)

- 8 large scallops (about a pound)
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped shallot
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- 1 small butternut squash
- sautéed mushrooms (optional)

What to do

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350º. Peel the squash, scooping out the seeds and cutting the flesh into 1-inch cubes. On a foil-lined sheet pan, toss the squash cubes with olive oil and season with salt. Cover the squash with foil and roast until it's tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

  2. Purée the squash in a blender and then push through a fine-mesh strainer and add to a pot with a lid to keep it warm.

  3. To make the scallops, Pat scallops dry, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add scallops, and sear about 2 minutes on each side. Careful not to flip until each side is golden. Transfer scallops to a plate, cover, and keep warm.

  4. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and shallot; cook a few minutes or until butter begins to turn golden brown. (Be careful not to burn the garlic.) Remove skillet from heat; stir in lemon juice and capers.

  5. Re-heat the butternut puree in the pot if it’s needed. Dollop the puree on a plate and slide it it with a spoon to create a base for the scallops. Place scallops down, spoon brown butter sauce over!

Enjoy!

Lamb and Butternut Squash Curry

It may be 85 degrees out today but I am in full-fledge fall mode and there’s no going back! It’s been cooling down more and more in Portland (besides today for some reason) and I am absolutely loving it! This time of year officially kicks off the holidays! Halloween which means changing leaves, lots of scary movies, fun costumes, and pumpkin-in-everything; Thanksgiving filled with all the best things in life: family, turkey, all the pies, and gravy, lots and lots of gravy; And last but not least Christmas, which is undoubtedly the best time of the year.

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In these months, there’s nothing more satisfying than coming home and making a warming meal. The smell of a stew braising in the oven, a pie baking, or mulled cider simmering on the stove with cinnamon are the best possible smells to fill your house. This lamb & butternut squash curry, the king of yummy smelling things, will literally make your burst into tears of joy. I have to say, it’s taken the cake of my favorite cozy meal.

Sometimes we make it with lamb shoulder, but this last time we used lamb shanks and I don’t think I’ll ever do it any other way again! So amazingly tender. The butternut squash makes it feel extra autumn-y and the coconut milk and kale top it off to perfection. Making this meal and sharing a bottle of red is one of my favorite date night meals for this time of year!

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Lamb & Butternut Squash Curry

ingredients

- 4 lamb shanks or 2 pounds trimmed boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 small-medium sized butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups chopped Tuscan kale
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
- chopped fresh parsley for topping
- basmati rice and naan bread for serving

what to do

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until browned on all sides about 3 minutes. If the shanks or cubed lamb shoulder doesn’t fit in all at once, brown the meat in two batches.

  2. Remove the shanks and set aside. If you’re using the lamb shoulder keep it in the pot. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add the curry powder and cook for another minute until it’s all dreamy smelly. Then stir in the flour, then slowly pour in and stir the wine until smooth. Add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring, until thickened, 1 minute or so. Add the lamb shanks back in, cover and simmer over low heat until the lamb is very tender, about an hour and a half to two hours.

  3. Add the squash, carrot and coconut milk to pot and simmer over moderately low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the kale and let simmer for another few minutes until kale is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Top basmati rice with the curry and serve with warm naan bread!

Enjoy!

Our Go-to Açaí Bowls

During hectic weeks when Thomas and I get home and collapse on the couch, we look at each other and say “how the heck do people do this with kids?!” Even though we are still a couple years from having a baby, it’s definitely more in our minds when it comes to how much we work right now. Props to all of you busy working mama’s out there, because I don’t know how you do it - I’m guessing it’s some magical mama energy that you get!

As a recruiter I’m flipping between two computer screens, talking to candidates with the phone glued to my shoulder, conducting interviews in our office, and doing what seems like 10 things at once. And as a pilot, Thomas usually has back to back flights and definitely has to be alert and ‘on’ all day - So you can imagine how we both value the chance to ‘turn off’ at night and especially on the weekends. That’s why Saturday and Sunday mornings are simply the best. I’m sure that’s the same for most people though! Having a quiet morning reading, catching up on blog posts, sipping coffee, and eating a good breakfast is what I look forward to after a crazy work week. When we really want to recharge and start the morning off right, our go-to is an açaí bowl!

It’s refreshing and light but filling when you add granola, sliced banana, and peanut butter! It’s Thursday, so are you already day-dreaming about Saturday morning? You know this girl is. :)

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Açaí Bowl

Ingredients

- 1 (100g) packet frozen acai berry packet
- 1 banana frozen (the riper the better)
- ¼ cup almond milk
- honey (optional) if the banana isn’t sweet enough

toppings
- peanut butter - melt with a little coconut oil so you can drizzle it
- granola - we use our homemade granola
- more sliced banana. You can also add strawberries and blueberries
- hemp seeds
- cocoa nibs

what to do

  1. In a high-powered blender, combine the acai berry packet, frozen banana, 1/4 cup of almond milk, and extra honey if needed. Blend until completely smooth.

  2. Pour into a bowl and top drizzle with melted peanut butter, granola, sliced banana, hemp seeds, and cocoa nibs.

Whole Baked Cauliflower with Béchamel

At this point in our lives with our busy jobs, small apartment, and the amount that we travel we’re not at a place to get a dog. We watch instagram videos all the time of cute puppies playing and I will literally be on the verge of tears from all the cuteness, but still, we want to be settled and have a house before we have any sort of pet. That’s why this past weekend was THE BEST, because we got to dog/house sit for our two friends who are on their honeymoon! They have the cutest golden retriever, Cooper, who is the chillest pup of all time. I swear he sleeps 18 hours a day at least and loves to be cuddled non-stop. It’s been so nice to get a glimpse of dog life, as well as use a big kitchen for once! With the Fall weather already here, we spent the weekend making cozy dishes like my favorite lamb & butternut squash curry, apple pie, and this whole baked cauliflower with béchamel!

At first I was skeptical just eating cauliflower for dinner. Your girl here has an appetite and I wasn’t sure this would be satisfying. I was so wrong. This is seriously one of the best veggie dishes we’ve ever made. Super tender cauliflower covered in a garlicky cheesy béchamel sauce and topped with crispy prosciutto, pesto and roasted tomatoes. Such a cozy meal for Fall and Winter!

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Whole Baked Cauliflower with Béchamel

Ingredients

-1 head of cauliflower
- 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese for the cauliflower
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese for the béchamel
- cherry tomatoes for roasting
- basil pesto for topping
- prosciutto

what to do

  1. To make the cauliflower, use a paring knife to cut the core out of the cauliflower: Flip the cauliflower over so the stalk is facing up. Insert the paring knife about 2 inches into the cauliflower, as close to the stalk as possible, and cut around the stalk. The goal is to leave the cauliflower intact while removing the stalk and creating a small hole where it once was.

  2. Heat a large pot of water to a boil, and boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes or so until it’s starting to get tender.

  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Transfer the cauliflower in a large oven-proof skillet and drizzle all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the cauliflower for a remaining 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown and a knife can easily slice into the cauliflower flesh. About halfway, sprinkle the cauliflower with grated parmesan and let it get golden brown.

  4. Halve the cherry tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish and roast in the oven with the cauliflower.

  5. While the cauliflower and tomatoes are roasting, make the béchamel sauce. Heat the milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until steaming but not boiling. Turn the heat down and keep warm over very low heat.

  6. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan over low heat. When it's bubbling, add the flour and whisk until it forms a golden paste, about 3 to 4 minutes. Whisking constantly, add the hot milk in a steady stream. Bring the milk to a gentle simmer and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg and the cheese.

  7. Fry the prosciutto slices in a skillet, transfer to a paper towel to dry, and chop into bite size pieces.

  8. Top cauliflower with pesto, roasted tomatoes, béchamel, and prosciutto! Enjoy!

French Onion Pot Roast with Creamy Polenta

It’s here, my favorite time of the year! Summer is magical in it’s own ways, but there is nothing better than Fall. It’s starting to get a little gray in Portland and I love it! I might not being saying that come January, but for now I love the breaking out my comfiest baggy sweater, pulling out the rain boots, and soaking up the season as much as possible. I think because I’m from Florida and the seasons have little variation, I appreciate each part of the year even more now.

And my favorite part of it all? Comfort food.

This french onion pot roast over creamy polenta is a game changer. Melt in your mouth meat that’s been simmering all day in the a glorious concoction of stock, red wine, lots of onions, and a surprise ingredient, celery root! Then to make even better it’s piled high on top of the creamiest parmesan polenta there ever was. If you’re a fan of grits, then you will LOVE this soft buttery polenta.

This is a perfect meal for a date night in, throwing a dinner party, or just when you need a bowl of happiness at the end of a long week. To top it off your house will smell absurdly amazing while this is cooking all day.

I am so excited to share more cozy Fall recipes with you guys! What’s your favorite comfort food to eat when it’s cold out. Gimme all of your suggestions!

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French Onion Pot Roast with Creamy Polenta

Ingredients

-2 1/2 pounds chuck roast (excess fat trimmed)
- 2 white onions thinly sliced
- 1 medium celery root, peeled and cubed
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 cup of red wine

Polenta
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of Polenta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
- salt & pepper

What to do

  1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot. Season the beef all over with salt and pepper. 

  2. Sear the beef until a nice brown crust forms on all sides, remove from the pot and add in onions, celery root, garlic, and thyme leaves, and sauté until onions start to become translucent.

  3. Place the beef back in the pot with onion mixture and top with Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, beef stock, and red wine. Add another big pinch of salt & pepper, and simmer mixture on low for several hours until the meat is falling apart.

  4. To make the polenta, bring the water and milk to a light simmer in a saucepan. Add in the polenta and stir on medium heat until it begins to thicken and get creamy, roughly 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the butter and parmesan and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Panzanella Salad

We needed to get out of Portland over the weekend for a little fresh air and R&R, so we packed up our car to go camping! It's too bad that you have to book a camping spot a year in advance in the PNW, but we decided to try our luck anyways. After driving for 4 hours in traffic and then in and out of campsites we finally found a pristine campground on Trout Creek a couple of hours outside of Portland. We may or may not have set camp on a site that was already reserved by someone else... but they never showed up so that's ok right?! We had a hilarious first night which is a good enough story for it's own post, but all around it was the perfect weekend getaway. Some people might not think camping is relaxing, but to us there's nothing better than sitting around a campfire under the stars, a cup of something strong in our hands, and talking until all of the coals have smoldered out. We grilled steaks and toasted s'mores over the fire, went on hikes, drank wine out of plastic cups, beat each other in Yahtzee, took dips in the creek when it was hot, cuddled in our sleeping bags when it was cold, and soaked up as much of the weekend as possible. 

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I've been exuding my desire for Fall for weeks now, however our little camping getaway made me realize that summer is something that you shouldn't wish to pass quickly. Once we got out of our hot apartment in the city and out into the peaceful outdoors it made me want enjoy summer to the absolute fullest. Which is why it's going to be camping, outdoor picnics, and wine on rooftops until it's time to pull out our parkas.

 So since I'm still on the summer train, that means I'm on the tomato train. You feel me? Hear me out! Two words, Panzanella Salad. It's tomatoes, and bread, and fresh basil-y deliciousness and it needs to be on your table stat. Let this not be confused with croutons. No no, it's way better than that. This is your favorite loaf of crusty bread that is crunchy on the outside yet a little soft from the tomato juices. It's as simple and summery as dishes come and you likely have most of the ingredients in your fridge. And a plus? If your bread is stale than that's even better!!

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Panzanella Salad

Ingredients

- 2 1/2 pounds or (3-4) heirloom tomatoes (different colors), cut into bite sized pieces. 
- Your favorite loaf of crusty bread (I use sourdough) cut into bite size pieces- about 6 cups worth
- 1 small red onion halved and thinly sliced
- 4-5 persian cucumbers chopped into bite-sized pieces (instead of Persian you can peel regular cucumbers and use those if need be) 
- 1 lemon juiced
- 2 gloves of garlic minced
- lots of good olive oil for drizzling
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil

What to do 

  1. Place cut tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, minced garlic, lemon juice, and a generous seasoning of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper in a large bowl. Gently stir to incorporate and let sit at room temperature while your bread cooks. 

  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to center position. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake until crisp and firm but not too browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

  3. Once bread is slightly cool, toss bread in the bowl with tomato mixture and add basil leaves and a generous drizzle of good olive oil. Toss everything to coat and season with more salt and pepper if needed. It's good if the bread soaks in the juice a little bit, so you can let your salad rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Chicken Gyro's

I am all about the easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy lately. When cool weather hits, it's go time for slow braises in the oven, bubbling stews on the stove, and roasting things into submission - but in the summer 'ain't nobody got time for that'! Like today, I got home from work and we drizzled lettuce with olive oil and lemon juice, added Trader Joe's grilled balsamic chicken and topped with homemade basil pesto and BAM, dinner done in 5 minutes. Beautiful weather and summertime temps call for dinner on the table in a snap with as little time and cooking as possible. 

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These chicken gyro's are my summertime obsession right now. Juicy marinated chicken, tangy tzatziki, crumbled feta and a fresh cucumber tomato salad all rolled up in warm pita. Yes puhlease! It may seem like a lot of different steps, but you can let the chicken marinate the night before, and then the day of you can whip up your tzatziki, chop your veggies, grill the chicken, warm the pita and assemble!

Summer gives you permission to not try so hard - elaborate recipes are not necessary. Invite your friends over, pop a bottle, spread everything out on a table outside, and soak-up every last drop of summer.

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Chicken Gyro's


Ingredients


For the chicken
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 3 large garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar (or red wine or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- big pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper

Cucumber tomato salad
- 10 oz container of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 3 cucumbers , diced. I like to use Persian or English cucumber so you can leave the skin on
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
- drizzle of olive oil
- 1/2 lemon squeezed
- Salt and pepper

Tzatziki
- 2 cucumbers (to make about 1/2 - 3/4 cup grated cucumber after squeezing out juice)
- 1 1/4 cups plain Greek yoghurt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or more if you want richer)
- 1 small garlic clove , minced
- salt & pepper to taste

-Pita bread
-crumbled Feta

what to do 

  1. Place all marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag and shake and massage to mix. Add the chicken into the ziplock bag and massage to cover all the chicken. Marinate for at least 2 hours and no longer than 24 hours. 

  2. Make the Tzatziki. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scrape the watery seeds out. Coarsely grate the cucumber using a box grater. Then wrap in paper towels or a tea towel and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Place cucumber in a bowl and add remaining ingredients then mix to combine. Set aside for at least 20 minutes for the flavors to mix. 

  3. Make the cucumber salad by mixing all of the ingredients together. 

  4. To cook the chicken, brush the outdoor grill with oil, then preheat on medium high. Or you can cook this on the stove by heating a little oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through (cooking time depends on size of chicken).

  5. Remove the chicken from the grill / fry pan onto a plate. Cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing

  6. To assemble the gyros, top warm pita with grilled chicken, cucumber salad, tzatziki and crumbled feta! 

It's fun to lay it all out and let people help themselves! And you can also lay a piece of parchment down under the pita and roll and wrap it up on the bottom so it stays secured. Enjoy!

Stuffed Poblanos with Cashew "Queso"

One of my favorite junk foods and the ultimate football Sunday indulgence is "creamy tacos". It's what we would make in our house growing up anytime there was a party happening or when we needed a little junk food fix. What is it you may ask? It's a glorious, bubbling vat of velveeta cheese, ground beef, Hormel Chili, and spicy Rotel tomatoes. You crunch up Doritos on your plate and pour the "creamy taco" all over the Doritos. IT IS MONUMENTAL. I am telling you this because I am definitely not beneath shoveling Doritos covered in Velveeta into my mouth - However it's simply not good for you to eat whatsoever, so that's why I try to keep "Queso" in my life as much as possible but in healthier ways! 

ENTER CASHEW QUESO. 

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I was very skeptical of this at first, but with our new Vitamix I knew we could definitely get the creaminess factor going on. Now I will say this, nothing will replace the amazingness of gooey cheesy queso, so you have to think of this as more of an alternative. But for me, something that resembles queso, is creamy like queso, has a rich delicious taste, and is actually nutritious for you is an A+ in my book!

One of my favorite go-to meals is stuffed poblano peppers. A lot of times we make my old stuffed poblanos with chicken recipe, but lately I love tossing roasted sweet potato, corn, black beans, cilantro, and spices to make it meatless. Top with creamy cashew queso and you've got the golden ticket! 

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Stuffed Poblanos with Cashew "Queso" 

Ingredients

Poblanos
- 4 poblano peppers
- 2 sweet potatoes cubed
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic gloves, minced
- 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz) can of sweet corn, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- salt and pepper to taste

Queso
- 1 cup raw cashews , soaked for up to 4 hours and drained
- 1/4 cup water (plus more, if needed)
- 1 teaspoon salt + more to taste
- 1 lemon juiced
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional) provides more coloring
- 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes with green chiles

What to do

  1. Using a small sharp knife, cut a slit lengthwise along one side of each poblano pepper, then make a small crosswise slit along the top to create a T-shape, being careful not to cut off the stem. Carefully cut out and remove the core and scoop out the seeds. On a baking sheet, roast the poblanos and jalapeños under the broiler in the oven turning often until the skin is completely blistered. Transfer to a paper bag (or place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap) and let steam for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. To make the filling, preheat the over to 350 degrees. Toss cubed sweet potato with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and roast until sweet potato is golden brown and cooked through, stirring occasionally. 
  3. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium heat and saute onion until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic cloves and cook another minute or two. Then mix in chili powder, cumin, a big pinch of salt and grind of black pepper. Mix in black beans, corn, and lime juice and cook another minute before turning off the heat and mixing in cilantro and roasted sweet potato. 
  4. To make the Queso, In a high-speed blender, or food processor, combine the cashews, water, salt, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, turmeric, and the liquid from the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles. (I was able to get about 1/4 cup of liquid from the can.) 
  5. Blend until a smooth and creamy cheese sauce is made, adding a little more water, if needed for blending. Transfer the cheese mixture to a small pot and heat over the stove until warm. I love serving it in a little cast iron skillet!

  6. To assemble the poblanos, fill them to the brim with the filling! You can either pop them in the oven to bake a little longer or leave them as is since everything is still warm! Cover in Queso :) 

Enjoy! 

Watermelon Cocktails

All of my fellow weekend warriors...WE MADE IT! It has been a week let me tell ya. I have been especially scatter brained and feel so unorganized for some reason! Maybe it's the heat going to my brain - My desk at work has more coffee rings than usual and paper thrown about, my clothes are strewn in places everywhere but a hanger in the closet, there always seems to be a dish in the sink, and this is the first blog post I've done since Sunday...so yeah, hot mess express reporting to you live. I think everyone has weeks like this sometime, but I'm definitely going to take this weekend to get refreshed and start anew on Monday. 

But since it's Friday and the clock is striking 5 o'clock soon, let's talk COCKTAILS. Watermelon cocktails to be exact, and they are the answer to all of your summer dreams. I'm normally a bourbon gal and love a good old fashioned, but in the summer I crave a light and refreshing cocktail that I can sip soaking up the sun!

We bought a giant watermelon at the farmer's market and I immediately knew I wanted to make watermelon juice! First off, have you done this before? It's fairly easy to do, but I wasn't prepared how messy it was going to be! De-seeding the watermelon was the only messy part, but after that you just throw the watermelon flesh into a blender, puree, and then put it through a strainer!

Any mess that it makes is SO worth it. Watermelon juice is naturally sweet yet super refreshing. It's great with just a squeeze of lime on top of ice - but Friday's after a crazy week calls for boozy watermelon cocktails! 

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Watermelon Cocktails

- To make the watermelon juice: Using a large knife, cut 1 inch off the top and bottom of the watermelon and then cut it in half crosswise. Place the watermelon cut side down on a carving board and, using the knife, cut off and discard the rind. Cut the watermelon vertically into 1-inch-thick slices. Working with 1 slice at a time, gently break the watermelon along the vein of seeds. Using a small spoon, scrape off the seeds and transfer the seedless watermelon portions to the blender. You may have to work in batches. Puree the watermelon for a few seconds and then strain the watermelon juice through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and then pour into mason jars to store for up to a week!

For the cocktail

  1. fill glass with ice
  2. fill glass halfway with watermelon juice
  3. add a shot (or two!) of vodka 
  4. squeeze half of a lime in there 
  5. top with club soda if your heart desires (or keep it as it is) 
  6. stir it up and top with some fresh mint
  7. drink up!

BBQ Chicken Sliders

It's friYAY and summertime and I need some BBQ in my life. You feel me? On the weekends in summer, I'm on the constant verge of drooling thinking about BBQ and beer while soaking up the sun. Do you know what's even more glorious? BBQ that's so tender that IT. HAS. SHREDDED APART! Can it get much better than that? Or you might be thinking - "Could there be anything more gross?!" For some people the thought of pulled meat might give them the heebie jeebies, but I on the other hand am a big fan. 

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In my hometown in Florida, there's a little bbq sand on the side of the road in town and at least once a week I would stop and get a bbq sandwich. I love the way the sweet barbecue sauce would soak into the bread a little. I would take a bite of the sammy and then a bite of coleslaw for crunch - pure perfection. 

While I love grilling, BBQ can be just as easy to make from your kitchen. These chicken sliders are the ultimate summer party food! So easy to make and definitely a crowd pleaser. Sweet Hawaiian rolls, piled with juicy pulled chicken, and then topped with a tangy crunchy slaw to balance it all out. You guyssss. Put this on repeat all summer long because it is that goood.

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BBQ Chicken Sliders

Ingredients

- 3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs, or a mix of thighs and breasts
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) barbecue sauce, store-bought or homemade plus more to serve
- Hawaiian rolls for the sandwiches, or any other slider bun that you like

Coleslaw
- 1/2 small head of purple cabbage, shaved thinly, I love using a mandolin for this
- 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced, also used the mandolin for this
- Juice of half a lime
- a big pinch of salt

What to do

  1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Remove the chicken from the packaging and pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. In a Dutch oven or heavy pot (with a lid) heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the chicken one piece at a time, stirring to mix well with the onion. Stir in the salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pour in your favorite barbecue sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat.
  3. Cover the pot with a lid and put in the oven. Bake, covered, for 90 minutes, or until the chicken is extremely tender. Remove from the oven and use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a large bowl. 
  4. While your chicken is baking, make your coleslaw. Mix the cabbage, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, and salt in a medium bowl and let sit until ready to serve. 
  5. Use two forks to shred the chicken. While you're shredding, put the sauce, uncovered, back on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid in the pan to about half of its volume. Pour the sauce over the chicken and stir to incorporate. 

Simple Cobb Salad

Mondays are for hitting the reset button. We try and keep weekends as balanced as possible, but more often than not ice-cream gets consumed, bottles of wine get drank, and sometimes you just have to say eff-it and eat that bowl of pasta. "Sunday Scaries" may be a real thing, but I still get a satisfying feeling on Sunday nights when I pack my bag for Pure Barre on Monday morning at 6 AM, get a healthy lunch ready for the next day, and know that I am going to reset and get ready for the week! 

Keeping homemade dressing in the fridge is a lifesaver for work because I can throw a salad together quickly the night before. If you haven't made your own salad dressing before then I would definitely get on board! Have you looked at how much sugar and weird ingredients are on the back of those store bought salad dressing bottles?! Not only that, the taste will be SO much better as well. 

One of my favorite simple salads to make for lunch or dinner is a cobb. I know there's a lot of  argument as to what goes into a cobb but "our version" includes tomatoes, bacon, jammy eggs, blue cheese (if we have it on hand), and a good creamy homemade lemon parmesan dressing. I caught myself licking the spatula after making this dressing the other night...it's that good. I'm talking about being "healthy" but this dressing has mayo in it blah blah blah. #balance

ALSO, we just bought a salad spinner from IKEA for like 6 bucks and it is the BEST THING EVER. No more drying off lettuce with paper towels or watered down dressing!! I always thought it was a useless kitchen tool, but it's awesome! Plus you can use it as a crisper in the fridge for your lettuce!

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Simple Cobb Salad

Ingredients

- Butter lettuce or any lettuce that you like
- boiled eggs - I like 1 per person for this salad
- crispy bacon - 2-3 pieces for person
- Sliced cherry tomatoes - a handful per person
- Parmesan for topping
- Blue cheese or gorgonzola (if you have it on hand, if not it's great without as well!)

Creamy Lemon-Parmesan Dressing

- 1/2 cup of mayo
-  1 lemon - squeezed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- milk to thin (add 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency that you like)

What to do

  1. Heat a skillet on medium -hight heat and fry your bacon until crispy. Set on paper towels to drain. 

  2. while the bacon is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Place eggs gently into boiling water and set timer to 6.5 minutes. We like our eggs with a jammy yolk but if you want yours hard boiled than set your timer for 8 minutes. 

  3. While the eggs are boiling, wash and spin dry your lettuce, and slice your tomatoes. 

  4. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender or mason jar and blend (or shake vigorously). I usually make a double batch of this and store it in the fridge for throughout the week. 

Enjoy!

Open-Faced Shrimp Sandwiches

On one of our very first dates Thomas took the top piece of bread off of his sandwich and I thought it was a little weird. Who is this guy who eats his sandwich that way?! :)  Being from the South I suppose, I had never been exposed to the idea of an open-faced sandwich. Sure, I've had slices of baguette or crostini's with toppings as appetizers, but I had never willingly left off that extra piece of carby deliciousness. However, now it's my preferred way of sandwich eating because A) it looks cuter  B) I can pile on even more yummy toppings and C) if I only eat one piece of bread with each sandwich that means I can just eat sandwiches more often right?!

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When I first went to Norway with Thomas, we took a weekend trip to Copenhagen and tried delicious Smørrebrød at Aamanns and I quickly joined the open-faced sandwich train. (Also, this is so creepy, as I was writing this Phil In Somebody Feed Phil walked into Aamanns in the episode we're watching! How random is that?!) Anywho, once we returned to Norway from Copenhagan, Thomas' family made delicious shrimp sandwich's and there was no turning back! The shrimp have the heads on and they are the sweetest shrimp I have ever eaten! Don't get grossed out k, but the ONLY way to eat these shrimp is to tear the head off and suck the salty delicious juice out. You won't be allowed to sit at our table unless you eat them this way... ;) 

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Since we can't find shrimp like this easily at our local grocery stores, we use the little guys below and they are good as well! In Norway these beauties normally consist of a white piece of bread, a generous pile of shrimp, a hearty squeeze of Mills Majones (why isn't all mayo in squeeze tubes), a drizzle of lemon juice, with a sprinkle of fresh dill on top.

For one of our favorite Sunday lunches to date, we used Ken's Artisan Bakery country blonde bread, made a garlicky aioli, and added lettuce and radishes! This is such a great lunch to make on a summer day with a ice cold glass of white wine. Perfection.

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Open-Faced Shrimp Sandwiches

ingredients 

Sandwich
- Fresh peel and eat shrimp, or whichever kind of shrimp you prefer. 
- sliced crusty white bread
- thinly sliced radishes
- butter lettuce
- Lemon wedges
- Fresh dill

Aioli
 - 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- ¼ teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

What to do

  1. To make Aioli - Mash garlic and ¼ tsp. salt in a small bowl until a paste forms. Whisk in mayonnaise, oil, and lemon juice. Season with additional salt if needed. 
  2. Layer a slice of bread with a smear of aioli, then lettuce, a generous pile of shrimp, a squeeze of lemon juice, and top with sliced radish and fresh dill. 

And of course, give yourself a full glass of white wine to wash it all down! :) 

Enjoy!