Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Well, at least in Canada. And since I married a Canadian, it meant it was Thanksgiving in our house. We invited some of our favorite friends over for a full-out Thanksgiving meal. As expected, we all went around the table and said what we were thankful for.
It made me realize something. I have the greatest life. I grew up in this quinessential small town where when you go to the grocery store, you know every single person there. I was raised by a mom and a dad and a brother and a sister–a family who doesn’t always agree but always believes in the importance of standing up for what you believe in.
I married a man who loves me just as much as I love him. Who honestly would do anything to make me happy-including toying with the idea of buying me a french bulldog despite his so-so feeling about owning a puppy. I married into a family that is extremely loving and welcoming.
My cellphone is filled with numbers of friends from across the states. Sure, some numbers haven’t been dialed in months, but the voices at the end of line are comprised of friendships that allow us to pick up right where we left off. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s what it means to have a solid friendship. And all of that, equals the greatest life. Sure, there are things that could make my life easier, better, less of a hassle. But I’ve never wished for a perfect life. Just a happy one. And there is nothing greater than that.
And just as Minnesota is notorious for, we skipped straight from summer to a cold fall. Because of the early morning frosts, our garden had it’s last harvest. I completely stripped my plants from any and all usable ingredients. It was overwhelming how fruitful my hall was! I felt so lucky to have so many fresh veggies to work with at this late in the season.
Per usual, my jalapenos grew out of control! I wanted to figure out something fun to make with them! And that’s how my bacon-wrapped jalapeno boats were born!
How do people do it? Hold a full-time job. Work out. Make dinner. Spend time with a significant other. Practice a hobby. And still go to bed at a decent hour. After one month of working full-time, it has definitely readjusted the way I look at the working world. Much respect. I have no idea how everyone does it. It’s clear that I am still acquiring my sea legs. Hence the lack of posts in the past month.
This recipe is not tailored for the working-folk. Today, I came home from work at 7:15. I had called Matt at 6:30 asking him to start this recipe. Yet we didn’t eat until 9:15!! I haven’t had dinner this late since I lived in Spain. As my roommates in Spain quickly learned, I fucking hate cena (late dinner). So save this recipe for the weekend. A day when you come home early. Not a day when you have to work all day.
The weather is crisper. The leaves have carpeted our backyard. Fall is definitely in the air. As much as I love wanting to smush pumpkin into everything I eat and wearing boots and sweaters, it is going to be too cold for my plants to survive. While I can move some of my basil and tomato plants into my basement, my summer of fresh veggies and herbs is coming to a close. To mourn the loss, I decided to make recipes that call for lots of fresh herbs that I won’t be able to make this winter without a high grocery trip bill. It was time to make pesto!
Despite having a food blog for over half a year, I don’t have fancy tools for the kitchen. No food processor. No sharp knives. No Kitchen-Aid. I rely on hand mixing and hand chopping (with awfully dull knives). And that’s ok. Because when I finish a recipe, I love saying I made this without any fancy kitchen utilities and it still tastes awesome. And I kick ass.
The best part about this pesto recipe is that while most people rely on a food processor to make pesto, this recipe doesn’t need one. In fact, rumor has it, the best pesto is made when you chop the ingredients by hand. And that made my day. Who needs fancy, expensive kitchen machines when you got your hands : )
Fall is finally here!! It is my favorite season–cool, crisp weather, sweaters, scarves, boots, pumpkin lattes. Usually fall marks new beginnings for me since a new year of school starts–but this year is the first year in 20 years that I didn’t start school. Luckily, the great feeling of a fresh start didn’t fade this fall because I started my first, real job as a lawyer a couple weeks ago. Still, it’s odd not working on homework or spending time on OneNote.
Fall also means more heartier meals. Something to stick to your ribs. And this makes me think of eggplants. I always avoid recipes that require deep frying so making eggplant parmesan has never been something on my to-do list. Thank God I found this recipe! I still get to enjoy eggplant parmesan without all the deep fried hassle and high calories.
So many new things have been happening in my house. I got a job!! Only after a couple months after graduating law school, I got a position as an associate attorney at a law firm that specializes in banking and business law. I started last week and so far I am loving it! The firm has been so welcoming. It feels like I hit the jackpot.
And the day after starting work, Matt and I decided it was time to paint our kitchen cabinets. We’ve only had our house for a little over a year, and it definitely falls under the category of a “fixer-uper.” The kitchen had cheap, dark, wood cabinets. They added nothing to our kitchen. My mother-in-law suggested we paint them, and it was time for us to take her advice.
Still putting last minute touches on the newly, painted cabinets. So no “after” picture yet. With the new job and a diy project turning my kitchen upside down, cooking fell to the back burner. But after a week hiatus, it was time for a new recipe.
While I was studying for the bar, I wanted fast and easy homemade meals. Our freezer was full of ground turkey so I decided to cook it up, mix it together with pasta, cheese, and herbs and turn it into a bake. Matt feel in love with the meal, begging me to remake it. So after making various versions of the pasta bake, I decided it was time for a vegetarian bake.
Our fridge is becoming increasingly more full of fresh veggies from our garden every day so I cut up our multi-colored zucchinis, some basil, green onions, and jalapenos, mix them with some cheese, spinach, and dried herbs. and the cheesy zucchini bake was born!
Today was harvest day at the Cremona house. With my handy shears, I plopped tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos, serranos, green beans, and an orange pepper into my basket. When I was done, I looked like I raided a farmer’s market.
I am so proud of my orange bell pepper. Last year only my green peppers grew so I was thrilled when this year turned out to be different. I didn’t want my miracle pepper to go to waste. This pepper needed to be used in a truly fun recipe. Something unique where the flavors of the pepper stood out.
This twist on the traditional, tomato-based bruschetta was excellent. The orange pepper makes the bruschetta sweeter and crunchier. Next time I make this I think I’ll use different color bell peppers to see how that mixes up the taste.
My friend Krystal is a member of this vegetable co-op where every Thursday she gets a box full of fresh veggies from a local farm. I am the lucky person who gets extra veggies when her crisper is already filled from the week before. In her box this week were some beets which she gifted to me.
I’ve honestly never had beets before. I certainly had no idea how to prepare them. In fact, my only interaction with the vegetable was through the cartoon Doug. Matt has been craving snack foods a lot lately. Every night he is rummaging through the kitchen looking for something to nibble on. He has always been a fan of chips, and his stash of ketchup chips is running thin.
And that’s how beet chips were born. The creation in this dish caused possibly the most “damage” my hands have ever had to go through in the kitchen. My hands were stained red, and I cut my fingers on the slicer 4 times. There was a real labor of love. While the recipe I followed recommend slicing the beets as thin as possible, Matt and I both liked the thicker pieces. So try some thicker and thinner slices to see where your taste buds land.
Our garden has really started to take off. My orange peppers are slowly turning colors, tomatoes are becoming plump, and I have more hot peppers than I know what to do with! As expected, the cucumbers have taken the lead as the highest producer. And that is ok with me.
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE cucumbers. I can thank my father for this obsession. Growing up, my father had a small vegetable garden. Every summer, he harvested his cucumbers to make a dill cucumber salad. It has always been one of my favorite dishes. This year, we have so many cucumbers that we’d be eating this salad every day for every meal if we wanted to use up all our cuc’s. So I’ve been making modifications to his salad to spice up our veggie side dishes.
The spicy peppers rival the cucumbers in multiplicity so I added a pepper to our salad. It was a bit too spicy for poor Matt (he’s a bit of a wimp when it comes to heat) so I added less red pepper flakes. I recommend opting for less heat at first and add more to taste.
I bought quinoa almost a two years ago. I tried to make it and completely failed. Either I cooked it too long, not long enough, or I did it right and couldn’t even recognize it. Either way, I gave up. Put the bag in my cupboard and forgot that I even had it at all. Until earlier this month. People kept pinning all these recipes with quinoa as the staple. It was time to bring my cupboard quinoa out of retirement and try to make something. So I picked some herbs from my garden, threw all the veggies we had in the crisper together, and tossed a dressing. It was delicious. Now I can see what all the fuss was about.