Baby Bella Soup with Parmesan Croutons

mushrooms

Storm’s a blowin’ in California – we’ve got inches of rain on the way and severe wind warnings here in San Luis Obispo County.  I don’t know much about Harvest, but I feel like the remaining grapes must be blowing off the vines…there are tree branches down everywhere and the power is on and off.  Our driveway is even littered with paint that has literally been blown/power-washed off the fence.  Yikes.

So what does a terribly rainy day remind you of, besides for dangerous driving conditions and possible flooding?  To be honest, I’m considering popping open a bottle of wine – why not?  If you are not so inclined….soup is absolutely the next best thing!  Luckily we have propane out here in the country and my stove still works, because this is a delicious recipe for a miserable day.

mushroom soup

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Linguine with Tomatoes, Baby Zucchini, and Herbs

wahlah

My boyfriend, Brian, just moved into a new house-his first without roommates!  It’s an adorable one bedroom with a teeny kitchen and a tiny bathroom.  It has a little porch out back and a gigantic, fat palm tree out front, which I’m completely in love with (Christmas lights come December, anyone?).

Last night, I brought over everything it takes to make this dish – from the pot and knives to the Parmesan and herbs (he’s not completely moved in yet).  It was very exciting to play house…only it’s not pretending because it’s actually his house! Oh my goodness.

Brian had fun watching me chop things and I enjoyed watching him clean up my mess; we ate at his coffee table and it was all very precious.

saucy

I chose this dish for a few reasons.  1. It’s tomato season and our garden had lots that I needed to use up. 2. It’s pretty healthy – veggies and olive oil.  3. With the fresh ingredients and no-cook sauce, it’s very summery.  4. It didn’t take very long to make.  This pasta definitely met our expectations…and there were tons of leftovers!  Yess! Continue reading

Fig, Brie, and Spinach Sandwiches

fig brie spinach close up

Do you ever feel fancy?  Patent leather Mary Janes when you’re three, tea parties in second grade, senior prom, dinner date in the big city…that kind of fancy.

Spinach is fancy because Popeye eats it, and he’s a cute sailor.  Brie is fancy because it’s creamy and rich.  Figs are fancy because they look like jewels when you slice them open (!!).  This little sandwich made me feel fancy, even as I ate it while driving the three kids I nanny for around in the minivan after soccer camp (I kid you not – I am a soccer mom in training!).

The sad thing about fancy Figs is that not many Americans have ever had fresh ones! This is funny, because Fig Newtons seem to be a beloved snack.  I have a secret: I had my first Fig Newton exactly one week ago.  For most people I know, the opposite is true – they’ve never, ever tried a fresh fig, but have been eating Fig Newtons their whole lives!

Give yourself a little dare this week. Visit your farmer’s market, or Trader Joe’s, and pick up some figs.  They are delicious alone, with cheese, quartered on salads, or drizzled with honey. If you’re feeling extra-brave, leave me a comment with your thoughts!  I dare you – let me know what makes you feel fancy.

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Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

chocolate cupcake

A couple months ago, I decided I wanted to learn how to make darling cupcakes.  The kind you see in bakeries and cookbooks and wedding magazines and ooh and ahh at, with puffs of swirly frosting and bright sprinkles and adorable toppings.

Well…these don’t have the cutsey looks…as you can see, they look, um, “rustic.”  They actually remind me of my Grandma’s cakes – simple looks, but soo delicious. After all, the taste is really what matters when it comes down to it!  These are two quality recipes.

For my next cupcake endeavor, I will be investing in a pastry bag, and the results will be darling – promise!  (I hope!)  Stay tuned!

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Big Chunky White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

tumble

Normally, I think of big, chunky cookies as things to eat when it’s cold out…not so much when the weather is warm, and especially not during bathing suit season.

Normally, I make my cookies on the small side, but when it’s a big, chunky one it just doesn’t feel right to shrink it.

Normally, I don’t even really like white chocolate that much.

Oddly enough….I have been thoroughly enjoying these White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies.  They’re giant, and chock-full of deliciousness.

So for now, these are going to pretend to be a summer food.  Macadamia nuts are from Hawaii, after all, where it’s summer all year!

leaning tower

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Authentic Swiss Fondue

fondue!

One of my very best friends in the world was born and spent his childhood in Bern, Switzerland.  Sergej is, by default, a master of many traditional Swiss recipes, one of which is this delicious fondue.  He recently came over one evening and taught me how to make it…and now, darling reader, you better be feeling pretty lucky that he has allowed me to share this!

This is a great party food – it’s pretty thrilling to gather around a pot of cheese with good friends and wine.  In fact, one of my best friends – hi, Andrea! – always got a big group together to go to Melting Pot for her birthday during college. Yummm.

So yeah, go ahead and make this really soon.  The only deterrent is probably the availability of a fondue pot, but I bet you can find a set on ebay or at a thrift store for cheap.  So worth it!

cheers to the chef

cheers to the chef

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Pita Bread

pitas!

I got a pocket got a pocket full of … deliciousness!

Pita bread is incredibly easy and incredibly fast to make! I’ve always loved pitas stuffed with sandwich ingredients – they’re less messy and fun to eat.  In fact, this year’s favorite summer sandwich (I usually find a new favorite every year) has been a pita with goat cheese, avocado, and tomato.

In the past, I’ve actually used pizza dough to make a pseudo pita bread (they’re very similar), but I finally decided to go for a technical pita bread recipe when I found a recipe for baked falafel (coming soon!). Also, homemade pitas are hugely better than homemade – especially when they are still warm from the oven.  Divine.

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