Thursday, June 18, 2009


this week in boston has been bipolar- the first half: gorgeous, warm, sunny; the second half: cold, spitting rain, dark and dreary. the weekend? rain. and more rain. and clouds. no sun in this 10-day forecast. i don't mind, even though we want to take the kayaks out again soon. instead, i think i'll be spending a bit of time in the local mall. julie's wedding is in two weeks and i need some sort of "sweater" to go with my adorable polka-dotted dress. even though the wedding is inside, i'll need a little something to keep warm at the inn on the ocean in Gloucester.

my favorite stores, top five list:
1. gap. they have some amazing things in there lately. i'm attributing it to the new designer Patrick Robinson. i heard lots of people got fired there. maybe they just needed some new blood? i think every brand does, every so often.
2. madewell. all my favorite stores are stores that sell fabulous basics, with feminine detailing and solid colors. madewell lives up to this, and more. i love their drapey tees and boyfriend sweaters. i love my heavenly-soft, deep v-neck tees. i love their knee-high socks (in fun stripes!) and killer leather bags. oh, and the monthly calendar you get when you shop there? Genius! i'm going to try to start something similar at NB.
3. martin and osa. more basics, a little bit more expensive, but the stores have really great sales. and their email advertising campaign! persistent! their basic tees and tanks come in SO many seasonal colors, i have trouble choosing. great blouses and nice cardigans and sweaters.
4. anthropologie. need i give an explanation? i get lost in daydreams when thumbing thru their catalog. i use their website for design inspriration at work. i practically get a boner when actually IN their stores, between the huge, amazing, magical, every-day object "pieces of art" that hang from the walls and ceilings and nooks and crannies. the bedrooms? the in-store skylights? the selection of books?? to die for. every time i'm in a new city, i search for this store to see what the local store display designer has come up with.
5. marshalls. i still have to credit this store for about 1/3 of my current wardrobe. i feel like lately i haven't been finding too much spectacular stuff there. or maybe, it's when i don't have the extra money i see stuff i want, but when i'm shopping with the intent to SPEND i don't find anything. ah, c'est la vie.

c'est fin.

spicy black bean soup

another winter fav- really hearty and filling, great with homemade garlic bread on a cold night. black beans work well, as do small white beans or kidney beans. mix and match-- make a racially harmonious soup using both black and white.

- 2 tsp EVOO
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can diced tomato
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 3 gloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- avocado
- sour cream

1. In large pot, saute onion, garlic and celery until translucent over medium heat.
2. Add spices, stir for 10 seconds on low heat.
3. Add beans, tomatos, salt and pepper.
4. Increase heat to med/high and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Put 1/2 of soup mixture into food processor and blend until fairly smooth.
6. Add pureed soup into pot.
7. Serve with dollop of sour cream and half of an avocado in center of soup.
8. Enjoy :-)

Vegetarian Chili

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1.5 cups chopped onion
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 large serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
- 1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and then cut into 1/2 slices
- 1 medium summer squash, cut the same way
- 2 bell peppers, sliced into bit sized chunks
- 2 cups fresh corn kernals (about 4 small ears)
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 4 large plum tomatos, sliced into small cubes
- 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 cup vegetable stock

1. In large heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat.
2. Add onions, bell peppers, garlic, serrano pepper. Cook until soft.
3. Add zucchini, corn and any additional vegetables. Cook until vegetables are almost done.
4. Add chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne. Cook for .5 minute.
5. Add tomatoes and stir well.
6. Add beans, tomato sauce and stock. Stir well. Bring to boil.
7. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8. Serve with brown rice !

dog cookies

Peanut Butter Biscuits

- 4 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 2 cups peanut butter
- 1.5 cups milk

1. Preheat to 400 degrees.
2. Combine flour and baking powder in bowl.
3. In separate bowl, whisk together milk and PB.
4. Fold PB into flour mixture and mix to a soft dough.
5. Turn out onto floured surface and roll to .5" thick.
6. Cut into squares.
7. Bake for 15 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet.

Garlic Beef Biscuits
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups cornmeal
- .5 cups wheat germ
- 4 tsp beef buillon powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 2.5 cups hot water

1. Mix all dry ingredients in bowl.
2. Add egg, oil and water. Stir well.
3. Roll out onto floured surface to .5" thickness.
4. Bake for 1 hour at 300 degrees on ungreased cookie sheet.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

great fall muffins! or make them if you want to taste fall on a warm day.

- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/4 cup water
- 1.5 cups flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. preheat to 400 degrees. Line pan with paper liners.
2. mix sugar, oil, eggs. add pumpkin and water.
3. in separate bowl, mix flour, soda, powder, spices and salt.
4. add wet mixture to dry mixture.
5. stir in chocolate chips.
6. fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
7. bake for 20 minutes.

Spinach + Chickpea Soup

i started cooking this in the winter time, which is when i tend to crave soups. this soup is NOT boring, and very filling. serve with homemade bread to use up all that extra broth in your bowl.

- 2 cups uncooked brown rice
- 1 tbsp EVOO
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake, stems removed, caps thinly sliced (4 cups)
- 6 cups veggie broth
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 bags (10 ounces total) baby spinach
- salt + pepper
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan

1. in large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to boil. stir in rice and return to boil.
2. reduce to simmer + cover. cook for 30 minutes.
3. in second large saucepan, cook onion in oil for 5 minutes.
4. add garlic + shiitake. cook til mushrooms are tender (around 5 minutes).
5. add broth and rosemary. bring to boil.
6. cover and remove from heat.
7. check rice-- if not tender after 30 minutes, cover and cook 10 minutes more.
8. stir in 2 cups cooked rice + chickpeas into broth, return to boil.
9. reduce to simmer, cover, cook for 5 minutes.
10. stir in spinach + cook, uncovered, until just wilted.
11. season with s+p and sprinkle with cheese.

Cheddar-Parmesan Crackers

i haven't made these yet, but they sound absolutely wonderful-

- 4 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp water, + more if needed

1. in the bowl of a food processor, place all the ingredients except the butter and water. pulse 5 times.
2. add the butter and pulse again until the butter pieces are the size of BBs.
3. add the h2o, i tbsp at a time, and pulse just until the dough holds together. if the dough is still crumbly, add more water 1 tbsp at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
4. turn the dough out onto a large piece of waxed paper. roll into a log, 10" long, and square off the ends.
5. refridgerate, well wrapped, for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days or freeze up to 1 month.
6. preheat to 375 degrees.
7. to make the crackers, cut the log into 1/4" thick slices. arrange on baking sheet 1" apart.
8. bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the crackers are a light golden color.
9. turn the crackers and bake for 3-5 minutes more, or until they are golden around the edges.
10. cool on a rack, serve at room temp.

butternut squash with cumin couscous

this is half of the recipe-- the perfect amount for three or four good servings. double it to feed more ppl.

- 1/2 butternut squash (i bought the one that was already halved and peeled at the grocery store)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 can diced tomatoes
- 16 ounces vegetable broth
- 1/2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup couscous
- chopped almonds

1. peel the squash and slice into 1" cubes (or smaller, so it cooks quicker).
2. heat oil in heavy pot, cook onion for 5 minutes.
3. add garlic and 1 tsp cumin, cayenne and cinnamon. cook for 1 minute.
4. stir in the squash, tomatoes, broth, chickpeas and 1 tsp salt. bring to boil.
5. reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes.
6. uncover and cook until squash is tender, about the time it takes to cook the couscous:
7. in medium saucepan add 3/4 cup water, with salt and 1 tsp cumin. bring to boil.
8. add couscous, cover and remove from heat.
9. let stand for 10 minutes, fluff with fork.
10. ladle squash over couscous, sprinkle with almonds.

mango chutney

i've made this so many times already. it lasts for weeks and weeks in the fridge. but don't waste it- it's too good to let it go bad.

Mango Chutney
jessica <3's indian, and wants to eat that sweet and spicy red chutney at home. i looked through dozens of recipes, and this was the one i liked the most. to make this spicy, i put two of these tiny thai peppers in, but they were ridiculously hot so i took them out after about 10 minutes. i think they may have been a big mistake. eating this with papadums sort of equals out the hotness.

- 1 ripe mango, cut into 1" chunks.
- juice from 1 orange
- juice from 1 lime
- 1/8 cup cider vinegar
- 1/8 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1" piece ginger, minced

1. bring all ingredients to boil.
2. turn down to simmer, for about 35 minutes.
3. put in food processor. grind until desired chunkiness.
4. cool in bowl, then refridgerate.

makes about 1 cup of chutney, perfect for one night of papadum eating. to make more, use 3 mangoes, and multiply the other ingredients by 2.

spinach sammich

i go through phases where i eat the same meals on repeat. i made up this sandwich to eat along with my mango chutney. it's quick, easy, uses up tiny bits of veggies in the produce drawer, and is pretty darn healthy and tasty. i first ate it with a mug of the last bit of homemade tomatoe soup.

- whole wheat tortilla
- spinach (if this is your main veggie, use about 3 good handfuls)
- onion, sliced into thin strips. about 1/4 of a medium onion
- whatever else-- zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms are all good choices.
- handful of cheese (any kind!)

1. caramelize the chopped onions by heating up a bit of olive oil in a non stick pan. cook them until they turn nice and brown.
2. if you're cooking squash, add it 1/2 way thru the onion cooking.
3. add the spinach and mushrooms and cook until spinach wilts.
4. slide all the sauteed veggies out of the pan onto half of the tortilla.
5. sprinkle with cheese. add salt and pepper.
6. add a bit more olive oil to pan. slide tortilla into pan.
7. fold tortilla in half. cook one side until brown. flip. repeat.
8. eat.

amaretto scones

**DO NOT SKIP the soaked raisins. at the very least, just add the amaretto to the batter. SUCH an amazing flavor. My mom has been making these for as long as i can remember.


-2 cups flour
-1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 stick butter, sliced into 1/4" chunks.
- 1/4 tsp soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 raisins
- 1/2 cup amaretto
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup cream

1. stir flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt together in bowl.
2. rub in butter with hands.
3. soak 1/2 cup raisins with 1/2 cup amaretto.
4. add raisins and amaretto to dry ingredients.
5. mix egg with cream. add to mixture. stir with fork only until blended.
6. spoon onto greased cookie sheet. brush with cream.
7. bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
8. sprinkle with powdered sugar.

spiced pear muffins

Spiced Pear Muffins

- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour (feel free to add more WW and less WF)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger or 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 8 oz. soy yogurt (or regular yogurt. but soy works great!)
- 1 large egg
- 1.5 cups pear, peeled and finely diced
- 3 tbsp raw sugar

1. preheat to 400 degrees.
2. combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt in medium bowl. stir well with whisk.
3. stir in chopped walnuts.
4. make a well in center of mixture.
5. combine brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, oil, vanilla, yogurt and egg in small bowl. add to flour mixture, stirring until moist.
6. fold in diced pear.
7. spoon batter into 15 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. sprinkle batter with raw sugar.
8. bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center.

spicy fish rub

Spicy Fish Rub

- 3 cloves garlic
- handful of fresh cilantro
- couple tbsps of olive oil
- juice from 1 lime
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tsp raw sugar
- heaping tbsp jalepeno slices

1. Measurements, as you can tell, are estimates.
2. Just throw everything into the food processor and blend until chunky.
3. Spread all over fish and bake.
4. Eat!
5. Yum :-)

salmon in a couscous crust

Salmon in a Couscous Crust
*adapted from a recipe.

- handful fresh parsley or cilantro
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 1/3 cup water
- fresh salmon (1/2 lb is perfect amount for 2 ppl)

1. Roast almonds on cookie sheet until lightly browned. Put in large bowl and crumble.
2. Add parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and couscous. Stir until couscous is wet.
3. Put salmon in greased baking dish, just slightly bigger than fish.
4. Salt and pepper fish. Pour a little more olive oil over fish.
5. Spread couscous mixture over and around fish. Pour water over dish.
6. Bake for about 35 minutes or until salmon becomes opaque and flaky.

food blogging

i started a food blog years ago. it's so old, i have no idea what the email address is that i used to sign in with. believe you me, i've tried everything imaginable. so right now, the blog is just stuck in cyberspace, with old recipes and no way to get updated with new ones! so i think i shall slowly migrate my favorites over here. stay tuned!

on "working from home" and eating out

yes, today, i am working from home. mainly because my office always feels like a circus side show, and i always leave at the end of the day feeling like i got nothing accomplished. Ok, yes, i am writing a blog while i'm supposed to be working. but Illustrator is the biggest bitch today, and opening a file takes like 11 hours (practically), so i'm taking a (short) break.
I've been slacking on the recipe updates here. This week I haven't felt much like cooking. Monday night I went to rockport to help julie finish her boutonnieres (she and jason aren't your typical "traditional" couple, and she wanted to handmake them all to make them more personalized.) i think they look pretty great (yes, i had my doubts).

anyway, we ate pizza and salad for dinner.
Tuesday, jill and i tried the new asian resto in stoneham on franklin st. REALLY GOOD! we shared veggie dumplings, i had tom yum (i rated this like a 4 out of 10.) and i had a really yummy sushi roll (shrimp tempura with avocado on the outside). it was great. very fancy looking inside, too. oh, and DELICIOUS thai iced coffee! i needed a boost to go home and do 2 more hours of work afterwards.
last night, Z and i went to the dog park. on the way home, we stopped and got Indian from Rang. just some appetizers, my usual. and i have some for lunch today, too.
tonight emily and i have a dinner date at a mexican resto in southie. should be fun.
this morning, z and i took a trip to bagel world for bagels and coffee. well, i didnt get her a coffee. but she did get her own toasted plain with plain. yum! we ate outside on the back step.
and that concludes today's update. bye.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Vacation A Month, I say! this trip: San Francisco

momo and i were very very lucky and took a much needed break to fly over to san francisco for the good part of a week. while the flight itself was kind of painfully long (i know,i know, says the girl that's dying to fly to asia), i think of it like childbirth: the end result is so fantastically amazing (i pushed WHAT out?!), that the act itself (me, squirming in a very small chair, flanked on one side by a stranger and on the other, a strange spanish man) becomes a blur, a faded memory in my mind, that i'm such a sucker the minute i get home (ok, literally, the same day) I am already booking more airfare for my next trip (july 4th! new orleans!)
ok, now that my horribly long run-on sentence is over, i will show you the highlights of my trip in picture form (taken by the resident photographer, senor momo):