Picture a calendar.
Now picture that calendar with an entry every Saturday morning for the next six months that I’ve thoughtfully written to guide me on my blog’s content for the upcoming week. Isn’t that just the image of complete and utter organization? I know it, amazing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. At least not yet…
Some weeks, it is very clear what direction I am blogging in and I am completely organized. Some weeks, I know what I am blogging about, but need the writing component to simmer. What is my angle? Sometimes it comes to me at the strangest times, often when I am far away from a pen and paper.
And then this past week, I just didn’t have that Oprah-invented, “aha” moment!
It was a very busy week for me in and out of the kitchen; however, and so I’m pulling a Seinfeld here and writing to you about nothing and hope you will find some inspiration along the way.
What I would love you to do, is to let me know in the comments which dishes look appealing enough to you that you might like the recipe! Not every dish has a recipe – yet – and some are already earmarked for the blog, but let me know what you want to see in more detail and I promise to get them on the blog soon!
So, let’s take a look…
Last Friday, the hubs and I joined two of our besties at a relatively new dinner spot in our town. It’s a funny little spot, originally opened for breakfast and lunch, and recently expanded to include a bar and full dinner service. It is still figuring out what it is, I think, and I hope it doesn’t get too glammed up. Every town needs a casual spot for a burger and a beer, and this place is just a few miles from our house so let’s just say, “winning”. Not to mention that the burger was really yummy and the fries were crispy and salty. Do you have a casual spot in your town?
Saturday, I did some holiday returns and decided to stop in at the relatively newly opened, Clover in Burlington, MA for a quick lunch. I had read about Clover which originally started as a vegetarian food truck, but has more recently set up retail stores. My friend Sarah mentioned she had eaten there with her daughter and that it was really good. I was told by a staff member that since I was a newbie, I should try the original Clover sandwich which was a chickpea fritter with a tomato-cucumber salad, hummus, slaw and a warm tahini dressing. Here’s the pic I put on my Instagram (follow me!)
The sandwich was so delicious, but quite honestly, incredibly filling and I had to 86 the bread half way through and just eat the inside. Next time (and there will be a next time), I will order the sandwich in platter form. Oh, and if you go, there are no placements and you are not given a dish to put your sandwich on – all part of the environmentally friendly deal. However, there is a roll of paper on the wall that you can either use as a placemat, or have your kids draw on! I found that when I was throwing out my trash. There are five other retail Clovers and three food trucks. Check them out!
On Sunday, I went with my friend, Ani to visit her 83 and 85 year old parents who are just the most delightful couple. They were feeding me an Armenian lunch of lamejune and kufta from nearby Cedar’s Market in Norwood, MA. (delicious) and I wanted to bring something to thank them. So, I whipped up two recipes. The first recipe was for Ani and was an Indian Red Lentil Dal based on a recipe from Food 52. The recipe needs some tweaking, but it was still delicious and is awesome vegetarian fare that can be served with chopped cilantro and Naan bread. A little basmati rice would go well with it too…
And for Ani’s parents, I made a creamy cauliflower soup that actually did not have any cream at all, but a teensy bit of mascarpone cheese because I had it in the fridge. It was so luscious. I add some toasted chickpeas to put on the soup as “croutons”. Very easy to do and can serve as croutons in your salads as well…
Chickpeas are rinsed, dried thoroughly and tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and herbes de Provence…
Baked at 375 degrees for roughly 30-35 minutes, the chickpeas are crunchy and best eaten on the day they are made. Let them cool completely before storing.
Next up in my week of cooking was to make dinner for a friend and her family which included four young adults. Cooking for a family can be stressful because often, not everyone likes the same thing! When in doubt, make chicken. And dessert. Here’s what I made and excuse some of the pics – I am still learning about winter light!
Smothered Chicken with onions and mushrooms was an adaptation of this recipe from Food & Wine that had been in my recipe folder for, no lie, over a decade. The recipe calls for bone-in chicken but I adapted the recipe for boneless, skinless breasts which are definitely more user friendly. I was so happy to finally christen my new 9 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven!
To go with the chicken, I made Roasted Red Potatoes with Herbes de Provence…
And a Kale-Brussels Sprout-Pecorino Salad that will be on the blog in the next couple of weeks, promise. Because you want it even if you don’t know that yet…
My friend’s kids have loved my Chocolate Macadamia Nut brownies in the past so I whipped up a batch of these too. They are killer…
And because I think everyone needs a bowl of soup this time of year, I made some creamy broccoli and spinach soup for my friend to enjoy for lunch on her own. I had a little leftover that was waiting in our fridge for me to warm up and take a picture of for the blog. But the hubs tagged it as dinner when I was out so I had to whip up a new batch to photograph (well worth it because it is really delish). Soup is so easy to make I don’t know why I don’t do it more often honestly. I topped my serving with some toasted croutons…
Next up was a recipe test. I have been thinking a lot about Mexican flavors and am going to share with you an enchilada recipe I have been working on soon. In the meanwhile, I saw a layered dip in a tortilla cup on Pinterest and I came up with the idea of making a “burrito bowl” in a cup if that makes sense. Beans, chicken, quinoa, salsa, scallions and cheese are mixed together and put in a corn tortilla that has been placed in a muffin tin. Topped with cheese, the resulting burrito “cup” is pretty delish. My taste tester, Kate who is a high school student gave it a great review. I will be tweaking it and sharing it soon…
Finally, the three very sad looking bananas on my counter needed to be turned into something beautiful. I usually turn to banana bread and my great aunt Elizabeth’s recipe that I can make in my sleep I have made it so often. But I happened to have the Flour Bakery cookbook out from the library and decided to make their “famous” banana bread. Truth be told, the recipe is pretty darn similar to my great aunt’s, except for the addition of a hint of cinnamon and toasted walnuts, and the swap out of canola oil for butter. It was delish…
So, there you have it. My week in and out of the kitchen. Please give me your thoughts in the comments – which recipes might you want to see on the blog?
A Washington Post article that came through my Facebook newsfeed. Good reminder to be aware and to be compassionate.
No Carnitas for you! Chipotle takes a stand.
An interview with Michael Pollan about the importance of cooking for oneself.
The nominees for this year’s Oscars!
Love this new flavor for an old snack. Yum.
One Year Ago: Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies
Val, they all look delicious !!Given all the snow on the ground I vote for the soups, but love the look of the burrito,too . I am intrigued by the banana bread since there are so many recipes out there , I wonder could there really be be a truly fabulous one? …. Spied you yesterday and am remembering a lovely, mutual friend and wonder do you have a favorite recipe for Chicken Marbella?
Hi Pam, thanks for the vote for the soups! I will try to work them into the rotation soon. I have to say the banana bread is really delicious although as I said, it is not too different from my aunt’s – just a few techniques which create a really nice texture to the finished product. As for chicken marbella, I always go with the recipe in the Silver Palate’s original cookbook. If you don’t have the cookbook, you can find the recipe online, including some adaptations using boneless, skinless chicken breasts which some people prefer. Good luck!
Hi Valerie. I vote for the Clover Sandwich, the chicken (can’t ever have enough) and the Burrito Cup. The salad looks great but you already said that recipe was coming. Here’s my question. . .how do you make delicious polenta from an ugly, artificial looking log of yellow?
Thanks for your votes! And as for your question, I have never used the log polenta, but know that there are lots of recipes where it is sliced and pan fried and topped with some parmesan cheese (for a side dish), or you can use it as a base for a parmesan bake (slice, top with marinara and some mozzarella and bake in the oven until heated through). I’ve seen it cubed and sauteed and used as croutons and I think as a last resort, you could stick the log in a pot with just a little liquid and bring it back to a mashed potato consistency, adding in some flavorings of your choosing. Good luck!!!
Val – My parents are still talking about your visit! Thank you again for the treats! The Red Lentil Dah was delicious. Thank you again!
Ani-I am so glad to hear it. Your father sent me the sweetest email! I told him I was the one who should be doing the thanking! oxxo
That’s my dad 🙂