Boston Day Trip · kid-friendly · Uncategorized

April Vacation @ Boston Public Market

Looking for something to do while schools are closed across New England next week? In addition to the Marathon on Monday, there’s lots going on at the Public Market this entire next week. Maybe we will bump into you! Nothing is better than spring in Boston. Learn more at¬†BostonPublicMarket.org.

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Christmas · Holidays · Recipes · Uncategorized

Turkey Noodle Casserole

You guys, we had the best Thanksgiving. We spent it just the three of us for the first time ever, and decided to serve at our city’s “Don’t Be Alone on Thanksgiving” dinner, which provides turkey with all the fixings (plus dessert!) to nearly 1,000 members of the community in person and through meal deliveries. While in past years we’ve roasted and dropped off a turkey before the meal, we’ve never actually volunteered in person. I’m just so proud of how helpful and cheerful Georgia was. She helped us pass out meals, talk to the guests, refill drinks, bring around dessert, and clean up. When we got home we had our own little dinner and it was simply lovely.

The only downside to not having a big meal, of course, is the lack of leftovers. In the past when we’ve come home from a big family Thanksgiving with lots of extra turkey, gravy, vegetables and cranberry sauce, I’ve made it all into a really simple casserole — nothing complicated — which turned out to be the perfect way to use up those random leftovers. It’s not too fancy, but it repurposes almost all of your extra meat and sides into a comfort-food casserole that’s sure to remind you of cold winter nights as a kid. Nobody feels like cooking the weekend after Thanksgiving anyway, so being able to dump everything into a big baking dish and feed your whole family in half an hour is just so satisfying. Here’s what I did.

I’ve heard that cream-of-soup casseroles and hot dish recipes are suddenly en vogue, and I am OK making them again non-ironically.

Health food? Not so much! Throwback tasty? All the time.

Leftover Turkey Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup*
  • Grated cheddar cheese, to taste
  • 2 cups total leftover veggies, such as green beans and corn
  • 1 cup milk (any kind; I always use unsweetened almond)
  • 2 cups leftover turkey
  • 2 TBSP dry breadcrumbs OR smashed potato chips, if you have extra from a chip n’ dip appetizer!
  • 1 TBSP butter, melted
  • 1/2 a package egg noodles (6 oz.), cooked and drained

*Instead of 2 cans, I subbed for one can about a cup of leftover onion dip we had lying around from appetizers.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400F and cook and drain the noodles al dente (a little undercooked so they don’t turn to mush in the casserole).

Add the soup, milk, veggies, turkey, cooked noodles and grated cheese into a good-sized casserole dish. Stir the melted butter and breadcrumbs (or leftover chips, which is what I used) together in a separate bowl.

Bake the turkey-veggie-soup mixture at 400F for half an hour, or until hot and bubbling. Remove from the oven and stir; top with the bread crumbs or chips, and bake for 5 more minutes until the topping is golden brown.

Enjoy warm! I love it with a side of leftover cranberry ūüôā

You could also substitute another meat in this dish, such as leftover chicken, tuna, or even ground beef. And, of course, you could use those french fried onions on top instead of chips or bread crumbs; a healthier option still would be Panko. Overall, this is a very forgiving recipe where quantities are just estimates and you can generally use whatever you have around and it’ll still come out great.

Thanks to Campbells for inspiring this post.

Minted extended their Black Friday sale on holiday cards! You don’t want to miss out on this deal. I ordered ours last night!

Grow Your Own Way · kid-friendly · Recipes · Uncategorized

2 Summer Salads For Using Up Tomatoes

It’s August in New England, which means tomatoes are busting out all over. Every year we scale back the number of plants we put in, but we are blessed with a very sunny raised bed alongside our house that simply churns out tomatoes, basil, lettuce, eggplant, peppers and zucchini, so we are once again in abundance! Last year we added rhubarb, and it grew like crazy. I’ve already made one strawberry-rhubarb crisp this ¬†year, and am going to have to harvest and freeze a bunch more before the first frost. I’ve learned a lot about the proper ways to harvest and grow rhubarb so it comes back healthy every year, and I’ll post more about that soon!Today I’m sharing two easy salads that only require you to pick up a couple ingredients in addition to tomatoes — primarily the mozzarella and feta cheese — assuming you are growing your own basil, lettuce or cucumbers. Both salads are crowd-pleasers that keep well at cookouts and on buffet tables, and taste refreshing, not heavy or overly filling. Dig in and get your summer greens!

To make the Greek Salad:

Wash, dry and chop your lettuce, or just buy a box of fresh organic mixed greens, which is what I usually do. Place in a large bowl then top with sliced fresh tomatoes of any variety, diced red onion, Kalamata olives, sliced and halved cucumbers and crumbled Feta cheese. 

Drizzle with the dressing of your choice, or make your own Greek salad dressing by shaking together 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 tsp dried oregano, 2 minced garlic cloves, a squeeze of half a lemon plus 2 TBSP red wine vinegar. You can add more zip by swirling in some Dijon or other mustard, and you can make it creamier by stirring in a spoon full of Greek yogurt. Yum! Just add to a jar and shake to emulsify.

To make the Caprese Salad: 

On a serving plate, drizzle some good olive oil in a zig-zag pattern. Lay down half-moon tomato slices, top with a basil leaf, then finally place a slice of fresh mozzarella on the stack. Season with a little bit of pepper (fresh cracked is best tasting, but any kind is fine) and then drizzle with good balsamic vinegar over top. Serve!

Both salads will keep in the fridge for a few days, too, which is great for lunch. The caprese salad in particular travels well if you pack the slices tightly in a shallow container, and it’s that rare healthy item that my entire family will eat, so it’s going to be on rotation in our house for as long as our tomato plants are producing! I love anything that extends the feeling of summer, even when vacations and beach days are winding down and school is starting up.

Are you in Boston between now and Labor Day? Check out the 2017 Fermentation Festival happening this weekend at the Public Market! Join Boston Ferments from 10 am to 4 pm at the market, above the Haymarket MBTA station (orange and green lines) or on foot/by bike at the corner of Congress and Hanover streets. There will be demos, book signings, make-your-own-sauerkraut, food tastings, a libation garden and more!

FermentationFestival2017

Boston Ferments is an all-volunteer group of fermentation and pickling enthusiasts based in the Boston area, and willing to share starters for fermented foods, like yogurt, sourdough and kombucha. Why fermentation? Fermented foods — those made by converting sugars to acids, gases or alcohol — have preserved nutrients and are easier for the body to digest. Many cultures have traditionally fermented foods, from kimchi, pickles and miso to sauerkraut, kefir and tempeh. Eating fermented foods can introduce beneficial bacteria (“probiotics”) to your system, easing digestion and immunity. A proper balance of gut bacteria and digestive enzymes helps us to absorb nutrients in food more readily, and can contribute to better overall health. Fermented foods also last longer than canned food, making them very budget friendly, too.

Find out more at bostonferments.com, and have a great weekend!

Uncategorized

Sweet-Hot Chicken Wings 

Happy Labor Day weekend! I know lots of places are staring down rain and cool temps for Monday, but if you’re cooking out tonight (or braving the weather to do so tomorrow, like us) then make the most of our remaining grilling time with these tasty chicken wings. They are sticky sweet with just the right amount of heat, and I’ve made them twice this summer to rave reviews. I got the recipe at the freezer meal workshop I did this past winter, and it never disappoints even if I swap around the brands of ingredients! You can make ahead and freeze for a while, or refrigerate for just an overnight or two. I’ve now done it both ways and the results are still a hit. Enjoy!

SWEET-HOT CHICKEN WINGS

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of chicken wings or drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup hot pepper jelly (I used Wildtree Happenin’ Hot Pepper Jelly!)
  • 1 TBSP buffalo seasoning, such as McCormack’s (I used Wildtree Blazin’ Buffalo Blend)
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Mix all the ingredients into a freezer bag, including the chicken and all the seasonings. Squeeze out any extra air and double bag if freezing. Marinate in the fridge, or store it double-bagged and labelled with a Sharpie in the freezer, defrosting in the refrigerator the night before you want to cook them. To bake, preheat the oven to 450 and place the wings/drumsticks on a baking sheet (I lined with aluminum foil, but you don’t have to). Bake until the skin is caramelized and very dark in places, approximately half an hour to 40 minutes. My gas oven cooks quickly and 30 minutes was perfect for these. 

The great thing is that they can cook in your house while you’re getting other stuff ready on the grill during a cookout, and then you can take them straight from the oven to a serving tray outside and let folks dig in! If you like things REALLY hot, add a splash of extra hot sauce just before cooking. Serve as-is, or with blue cheese or ranch dressing dip on the side. Yum!

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Have a wonderful holiday weekend, everyone. I know many people — including Mark — don’t actually get all three days off (despite belonging to a union!) so let’s keep those hard workers in mind while we celebrate. And here’s to a few more nice weekends this year, eh?? xoxo.

Boston Day Trip · Uncategorized

What we’ve been up to

Lovelies, I’m sorry for being out of touch. Somehow I blinked and the summer is drawing down, a¬†nip of fall air snakes¬†through our window screens every night, my baby is about to turn three, and the last of our garden’s tomatoes are ripening on the vine (or getting swiped by some drought-plagued squirrels and chipmunks). It’s that time of year when heat waves alternate with bursts of thunder shower and you might consider dry-cleaning your most summery dresses just one last time before packing them¬†away for fall’s plaids, jeans and galoshes. I changed out my bright pink polish¬†for a wine-toned pedicure the other day, and I’m¬†making plans to enjoy every last¬†chance to eat a popsicle, make a day trip, dine on the porch, grill up dinner, visit the ocean, dip my toes in a kiddie pool, and slurp a cool beverage in the weeks to come.


While I love the idea of apple picking, over-sized¬†sweaters and cider donuts, I thoroughly dread the actual onset of winter’s chill and the notion of being cold walking across the hardwood floors every morning, or needing to heat up the car, taking a scalding shower to wake up, and making the switch to hot coffee. (OK, fine, I never make the switch). No amount of fall shopping can cozy me up to the idea of¬†needing a jacket every day or¬†having to carry extra shoes and socks everywhere for the inevitable soaking that happens when you trudge through snow and slop. I might walk right out the door in flip-flops and order a salad and lemonade down the street right now, just because I still can!

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Georgia and I are trying to make the most of it. Though our garden really suffered this year through the lack of rain here in Boston, we did manage to make a few tasty meals from the peas, basil, tomato and berries we grew, and we got out to enjoy the sunny days at every opportunity. Where last year I had a toddler afraid of swimming and unable to walk long enough for morning-long excursions to the farm, I now have a miniature big kid who delights in swimming and building sand castles and who has to be dragged away from the fun of blueberry picking, ice cream eating and animal patting. She’s articulate enough to express disappointment when mom or dad has to go to work for the day, but she’s also cheerful and easy-going enough to enjoy our ad-hoc adventures and outings as a twosome. It’s amazing to see someone discover fireworks, bouncy houses, sprinklers, hiking, Italian ice, outdoor concerts, double rainbows and¬†boat rides¬†for the first time. The world is actually remarkable¬†if you choose to see everything¬†with wonder and¬†focus.

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¬†Cheers to August and staying laid back before school, life and heating bills resume. ūüôā

Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes · Uncategorized

Healthy Green Smoothie

Happy almost weekend! I’ve come down with a summer cold, so I’m stepping up my eating habits to nourish myself back to health. Nothing helps kick an icky illness better than eating right and resting. The body needs real food to recover! Sunday night, when I felt this one coming on, Georgia and I grabbed the last lettuce from the garden and some fruit from our weekend grocery haul, and got down to business. This smoothie is refreshing, re-hydrating, energizing and nutritious. Sip happily!

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Green Smoothie

Makes enough for two servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 slices watermelon
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 apple, cored and quartered
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 head of romaine, rough chopped
  • optional: 1 celery stalk, chopped (I love adding celery to smoothies :))

Using a fresh banana is fine, too. You may want to add a couple ice cubes to keep it cold if you do that. Subbing a lime for the lemon is also OK; you can also swap the romaine for any kind of lettuce, and any type of apple will do. This is a flexible smoothie that tastes sweet, not super green. My only advice would be to keep water as the base or it will get too heavy and won’t have the same smooth drinkability.

DIRECTIONS

Adding the water, lemon juice and watermelon first, then the other ingredients, blend on high until smooth. Enjoy cold! Keeps well for up to a week in the fridge, or double and freeze extras to have throughout the week.

ūüéČ Happy Independence Day everyone! ūüéČ

 

 

Tips and Tricks · Uncategorized

Monday Musings

OK fine, it’s Wednesday! But I wrote this on Monday, which is a holiday in Massachusetts. I think it has something to do with Redcoats running ~26.2 miles from Hopkinton¬†to Boston in search of brunch on their day off.

In all seriousness, Marathon Monday is second only to Christmas in my world when it comes to excitement and anticipation. (I can even overlook that confounding apostrophe after the “s” in Patriots’ Day for long enough to enjoy myself). We’ve taken Georgia to watch the Marathon since she was in utero, but this year was the first time in her life that it wasn’t freezing out and when she could really enjoy it and cheer for the runners. She kept offering them her snacks — “runners, do you need some Pirate Booty?” — and skipping¬†alongside them, asking for high-fives. And she got a few, too! It was an awesome day, the sun was shining, and Mark had the day off to boot. That’s all I need.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, including ways to stop having so much trouble digesting food so that I can cook and eat normally again, a.k.a. the basis of this blog. I want to thank you all for your kind words after my last post! It helps to know others struggle with mystery tummy ailments, too. I’ll be sharing¬†a longer post about some of the ways I’m trying to get my stomach back on track, but in the meantime, here’s what I’m contemplating, doing and buying these days.

What I’m coveting

Every year when it gets warm, I start to want an everyday (non-road) bike again. I can’t wait to see the new Ikea¬†City¬†Bike¬†which is only available in Europe so far, and I’m highly intrigued by the relaunch of Columbia Bicycles.

What I’m hoping to cook when I’m back in sorts

This Creamy Lemon Pasta from the New York Times.

What I’m listening to

The “Quiet” podcast about being — and parenting — an introvert (that would be me, obviously, not Georgia).

What I’m streaming

Kimmie Schmidt (meh so far) and Cooked (next on my list are these food documentary ideas).

How I’m relaxing

With this essential oil & this diffuser

How I’m moving

This after-work Zumba class and these 10-minute workouts at home (which are killer!)

What I’m gifting myself for my birthday

I’m turning 34 Saturday (eek!) and I have a tradition of treating myself. I always pick out one fun new makeup item and one new book, I always schedule a Stitch Fix to arrive the week of my birthday. And, I always get a mani or a pedi. Those are my favorite things to do for myself, and the older I get the more I’ve found that celebrating myself is the best way to feel special! Ever since we got married, Mark renews my New Yorker subscription for my birthday, since that’s what I read on the train every day. I made the mistake of mentioning that I’d love to seriously upgrade our on-its-last-legs¬†blender soon, and as a result I’ve spent the last week reminding him that we can’t afford to spend over a¬†week’s worth of daycare tuition on a Vitamix, much as I’d love to! Though I’m flattered he wants to spoil me¬†:/.¬†And I’ll probably repay him by dragging him for¬†Mexican¬†food on my birthday, too. Poor guy!!

Have a great week everyone and enjoy the wicked warm weather we’re supposed to get in Boston tomorrow ūüôā Summer is around the bend! xoxo