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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recipe Round-Up: My Top 3 Vegetarian Main Courses

 The recipe round-ups just keep coming. Yes, I need to get back to cooking and posting new things, and yes, I need to show you all the changes I have made to my living room, and all my recent spray painting projects I have been withholding, and awesome etsy buys I have left you all in the dark about...and yet I have been having trouble motivating myself to see things through to the end recently, and actually get the posts set out in writing. It's not quite a writer's block, but perhaps a writer's fatigue-- Which I am sure will sort itself right out when that nice spring weather finally hits and wakes me up! But in the meantime, rounding up my favorite recipes previously posted on this blog allows me not only to share them with you again (and for the first time for some new readers) but also to celebrate my 1 year blogiversary, and perhaps will spur me back into blogging new recipes. So, without further adieu, my top 3 Vegetarian Main Courses blogged in the last year:

Eggplant Rolatini-
 This was a really fun recipe to cook, and to write about. My good friend Jamie and I made this together (with some moral support from her little girl, Lilly) last summer. The result was just delicious, and I can't wait to make this again as soon as I see those tiny eggplants show up at the farmers market.

Meatless Cassoulet- A traditional french cassoulet is far from vegetarian, with sausages and meats galore (and often an abundance of duck fat). Adam from The Amateur Gourmet (I have a big old blog crush, by the way) did an excellent post on the more traditional meat-tastic dish here. It was my familiarity with recipes like that which made me raise an eyebrow at the concept of a "meatless cassoulet" when I saw this recipe from Gourmet. But, mostly, while this is actually closer to a french version of Ribbolita (a tuscan peasant soup made with white beans and bread) what made me love this version is that it is just plain delicious. And super cheap. Really, white beans given time to soak up delicious garlic, fresh and dried herbs, mixed with some slow cooked vegetables, and garlicky bread crumbs just seems like something that can't possibly be bad. And it isn't. An additional note- if you like garlic, this is an opportunity to go crazy. Seriously, add even more.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili-
This dish makes me so happy. I have made it now several times, and plan to make it again and again. It is hearty, both sweet and a bit spicy, full flavored, vegan, and just the right balance of filling and healthful. And sometimes it inspires dance parties.

Do you have a favorite vegetarian main course? let me know in the comments, I am always looking to grow my repertoire.

You can also check out my other round ups:

and coming soon:
Favorite Vegetable Side Dishes
Favorite Appetizers & Snacks

Friday, April 22, 2011

Recipe Round-Up: My Top 3 Meat Main Courses

I was going to do a round up of my top 3 main courses...But I found I just didn't have it in me to choose between some of the fabulous vegetarian foods I have craved recently, and the heartier meat dishes that to me are pure comfort food. So I decided to create 2 different round ups. If you don't eat meat just hold tight, and vegetarian top 3 will be up soon. :)

But now, MEAT. Yes.

I will be the first to admit that chicken is underrepresented in this blog. I usually either skew towards vegetarian foods or else directly at the opposite end of the spectrum- red meat. I spent a while feeling guilty for my affinity for red meat, but then after a recent doctors appointment, when my lab tests revealed I was anemic, it all started to make sense. I need that iron! Bring on the meat! Maybe you need iron, too. Really, a healthy portion of steak is probably just what you need.

1. Steak with Red Wine and Shallot Sauce-  This was the first recipe I posted to this blog. I hadn't quite gotten the hang of the format (or my camera's settings). I think I may revisit this recipe soon and post some better close ups of the food itself, and the process. But it is still a really easy, delicious meal, that I love to make whenever I want to serve something that feels a bit fancy and rich, without being overly expensive or time consuming. Pan seared steak with a rich sweet red wine reduction and caramelized shallots? Yes, please.

2. Stuffed Turkey Sliders- Thinking about these makes me miss summer. Good thing it won't be too long now! These sliders were two things I hardly thought a turkey burger could be (must be bad turkey burger experiences in my past), flavorful and juicy. With a little soy sauce and garlic powder mixed in with the meat, and a surprise pocket of cheese, caramelized onions and herbs within, they were a perfect light summer-y meal to eat before seeing the fireworks on the 4th of July. I served them on sourdough rolls and alongside a tall glass of homemade blueberry-lemonade spritzer. The meal was refreshing, lean, and packed with flavor. I look forward to making these again soon!

3. Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Coffee and Caramelized Onions - Served over mashed potatoes, this was a perfect winter comfort food. And it is made in a slow cooker so I could do the prep steps in the morning, and then forget about it all day while it cooked away. The flavor was deep and rich, and the meat tender. Don't fight it, you want it. You know what to do.

Do you have a favorite meat main course? More top 3's are coming soon- keep an eye out for vegetarian main dishes, vegetable side dishes, and appetizers & snacks!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Recipe Round Up- My Top 3 Cookie Recipes

So I let my 1 year bloggiversary pass right by. I first started this blog on March 30th, 2010, after a rather drunken discussion with a couple of my roommates over my secret aspiration to be really cool like all those food bloggers whose posts I followed. That particular night I cooked up some steak topped with shallot red wine sauce. That particular sauce, made by caramelizing the shallots in butter, adding red wine, a touch of balsamico and a pinch of brown sugar then reducing to perfection, is actually the base behind my recent onion tart. So, that is kind of symmetrical in a nice way, isn't it? I will be posting that tart soon, I swear.

In the meantime, to mark the end of my 1st year of food blogging (and the start of my second!), I thought I would revisit some more favorites, like I did in this post.

But this time, I am going to look at my favorite recipes in specific categories.

My Top 3...

Cookie recipes:

1. Classic Crinkle Cookies-
these have become my go to chocolate cookie! I made a giant batch at thanksgiving and they worked out great. I made the batter at home, froze it overnight, and then brought it in a little cooler to new jersey for my family's thanksgiving celebration. By the time we got there it had thawed enough, and I was able to roll them in confectioners sugar and bake them off. They were rich, chocolaty, and delicious, garnering lots of compliments, and they were an especially good choice for a large event because they are dairy free.

2. Crispy Oatmeal Cookies with Orange Zest and Cranberries (otherwise known as the best oatmeal cookies)-  The bright citrus-y orange zest really shines through in these crispy, just sweet enough oatmeal cookies. I have made them both with butter and margarine, and this is one cookie I am actually perfectly happy with subbing out all the dairy. One batch makes a lot of cookies (up to 48) but trust me, you'll be glad you made that many!

3. Seedy Snow-day Cookies
Luckily it's actually a pretty nice day today around here- cloudy, but mild enough (52 degrees currently) so I don't have to worry about snow. It sure puts things in perspective to remember back to all the snow days this winter- this morning I was standing at the T station shivering- but at least it wasn't snowing!
I made these when I was snowed in, and they were quick and easy, and I loved the sweet, delicate flavor. Poppy and sesame seeds add an unexpected twist to a basic butter-y cookie.

Do you have any all time favorite cookie recipes? I'll be back soon with some more categories of favorites!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Calling All Home Bloggers- I need your help!

Did I mention I am taking a Sociology course this semester? Perhaps I complained about how I have to leave home at 5:30 in the morning to get to my class before starting my full work day. Anyways, I am embarking on a paper for that class, and I decided I was interested in looking at home-themed blogs from a sociological stand point. I am most interested in learning about the connections female bloggers have made across the country through this medium, and the social support and passing of ideas that comes from this. So, if you read or write blogs of this nature, I would love to hear from you. I am particularly interested to hear from women who are stay at home moms, work from home, or only work part time, who spend much of their time in the home, and from people in more remote areas who have created a greater network outside their own actual location through these means. But really, I would love to hear from everyone!

I have been so fascinated and impressed in the last year by the strong feeling of community and support observable between the bloggers I have encountered.

I have formulated a pretty simple questionnaire and will be sending them to some of the bloggers I have encountered. These questions are open to all, and the more responses I can get, the better, so I want your help! Anyone who wishes to voice an opinion about their experiences in the home blogging community, friendships you have made, support you have given and received, I would love to hear from you!

If you wish to give me some insight on your experiences, please feel free to comment here or to email me at hannahtaube@gmail.com (as for confidentiality, the only person who will see the answers sent to my email is me, and perhaps my professor, though I will not be using names and specifics, only quotes and trends.) And if you know of other people who may also have something to say, please send them my way!

The formal questions:

first, a bit about you:
Here are my answers as an example, and hey, now you can get to know me a bit.

What part of the country do you live in: New England
Describe your neighborhood/town briefly: I live in an somewhat urban neighborhood with a lot of young families, students, and immigrants, accessibility to public transportation and mostly apartment buildings and multifamily houses set close together
Describe briefly your family- are you married, do you have kids?
I am single with no children. I live separately from my parents and sister, but am lucky to have them nearby
Describe briefly your living situation and work place:
I share an apartment with roommates and work full time at an office

Then, a bit about blogging:
How long have you been reading home themed blogs? Writing one?:
I started reading home themed blogs a little over a year ago to pass the time at work- soon I was addicted. I started a food blog last march, and have in recent months started posting more home decor/organizing themed posts
Do you comment on other home-themed blogs?
I am just starting to- I want to network more and interact with more bloggers, but thus far I haven't done it that much.
Do you have any close friends whose blogs you read? Are they friends you met before blogging? Are they friends you see in person?
I have had a few very nice interactions with other bloggers, but have not yet built any close blog friendships here. However, one of my closest friends is someone I met  through my previous, personal blog on live journal. She is now one of my blog followers. I also have in person friends and family members who read my blog, many of which I do not get the chance to see very often.
Have you received any recent advice or support from a fellow blogger you would like to share
I have recently received some great supportive comments from other bloggers, it really kept me at it! Thank you!
Do you feel that blogging and other social networking enables you to interact more with people you may have things in common with than you would otherwise?
I really think it has been eye-opening. I have gotten to be inspired by real people who share my interests, many of whom are so talented and tasteful I am a bit jealous!
Anything else you would like to add about your experience with the social aspects of home themed blogging?
I am pretty happy this lead me to a topic for my sociology paper! I hope some people will respond!

Ok, that's it. I know it is sort of long. I am hoping that other people out there like taking surveys as much as I do. If you would like to help, but don't have time to answer all the questions above, even just a statement on your general experience with the social community of home blogging would be a huge help!

Once again my email is hannahtaube@gmail.com if you wish to respond.

The First Pitch Story- Part II: the actual event

First off, I hope you all read my Part I: the long winded introduction, if not, you can view it here. Also if you are wondering what this has to do with cooking, the answer is, nothing; as explained here.

Now, where were we?  Yes, at the end of part one I may have insinuated that Bob the Builder would sing the national anthem at Fenway park. This is not the case. While his enthusiasm got him good marks at 3 Dog Down, he is not the best singer and no one would likely ask him to do such a thing as sing in public in a sold out ballpark seating 37,400 people. (for those that care, or know how that compares to the seating capacity of other major ballparks, we Bostonians are proud to say that while Fenway is still one of the smallest major league ball parks in the country, it is no longer the smallest as measured by seats, due to recent renovations. All of this while still being the oldest venue used by a professional sports team in the United States.) Also, if he had sang the American Anthem at Fenway, I am sure I would have titled this story "The American Anthem Story" and not "The First Pitch Story".

See what I did there?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The First Pitch Story- Part I: The long winded, unnecessarily detailed introduction

This is a true story. It involves my dad, and the Boston Red Sox. And also some boy scouts, an ox-like fenway employee, and an opera singer. It also kind of involves one time that my dad sang the national anthem in the middle of the quilt store in Montana. Let's start with that, the Montana story:

Several years ago, my parents and I were driving through Montana on our way to go camping in Glacier National Park, aka the prettiest place on earth. We stopped at a quilt store called 3 Dog Down, which rated its down quilts by warmness in terms of how many dogs one would need in their tent to keep them as warm as that quilt. A 1 dog quilt was for a 1 dog night, when there was only a slight chill in the air, one corrected by the body heat of only one canine. The logic follows then that a 2 dog quilt is twice as warm, for twice as cold a night, and a 3 dog quilt was for a night so cold one would need to snuggle with not 1, but 3 dogs for warmth. If that person was me, they would discover that snuggling with dogs in your igloo, while great for warmth is really a pain in the neck for your allergies. So, this might lead one to believe that a down quilt is in fact a better alternative than the traditional multi-dog cuddling method. Unless of course one was also allergic to down, but I digress.

Spring is here!

The sunshine (and constant rain) and magnolia buds and bulbs popping up make me happy. I just returned from a lovely weekend in California visiting with family. I am a tiny bit jet-lagged. I am deep in the throws of essay writing for my sociology course. I am playing catch up from the days of work I missed. I am daydreaming about buffalo chicken pizza from the local Spa (in the Boston area a spa is not just a word for a place where one gets a facial or a pedicure, but also a corner shop with a deli or sandwich counter also known as a Bodega). I am obsessing over my recent Etsy purchases. I am wondering when I will get a chance to go to Target to return those curtains I bought that turned out to be the wrong color. I am contemplating going on a diet to undo this weekend of biscuits and gravy, carne asada and cake.

I am not cooking something delicious to post on the blog. In fact, I haven't yet all month, have I? I cooked up not one but 3 gorgeous tarts a couple of weeks ago. Sweet potato with fresh sage and goat cheese, red onion with blue cheese, and sun dried tomato, pesto and goat cheese. I photographed them and everything. I still have the photos for that beet salad I mentioned last month.

But right now, I must admit, instead of writing up the posts for those items, I find I would rather revel in the glory of the first moments of spring. And so I am giving myself a momentary blog vacation. A week more perhaps.

BUT! For my beloved followers, occasional readers, and dear friends I do have some reading material in store for you. They are actually posts I wrote up last summer, and then decided only to post in my personal journal, as I was much more concerned at the time that all of my posts here relate directly to cooking.

But now that spring is here, and baseball is here, and the Red Sox have won 2 whole games out of the last 8 (their worst start since world war II!) it occurs to me that it might be time to look back at a very fun experience I got to witness last year at Fenway park. The posts are a 2 part series, the first of which I will post today, with part 2 coming  tomorrow morning. So keep your eyes peeled!


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