Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Roasted Fennel, Red Grape and Walnut Salad

For me, a successful day is made up tiny personal victories.

I won when I pressed snooze only 3 times (opting to skip my morning workout, honestly I don't even know why I try...) and woke up early enough to take a long shower, watch the Today show, check out Savannah Guthrie's outfit, and lounge in bed in my bathrobe for a hot minute.

I wore a new white blouse to work and managed not to spill coffee on myself. Win!

Definitely a win when I resisted all temptation to flop on the couch and settle in for a 5 hour Homeland marathon after work and instead pressed play on the Insanity DVD.

Minor loss when I dropped both my coffee and spinach/banana smoothie all over the floor walking into work. (It seriously looked like a crime scene.)

But definitely a win that I resisted the urge to irrationally cry like a 4 year old

I managed to not to eat one of the Birthday Cake Oreos that Luke brought into our house like a jerk.

And I would most definitely call this salad of roasted fennel, red grapes, walnuts, fennel and a quick red wine vinaigrette a win!

Win, win, win.

This is my absolute favorite salad. It's a great winter salad for when there is a serious lack of good, fresh produce.

These flavors work together perfectly-- the anise flavor of the fennel, the saltiness from the feta, and the sweetness of the grapes. It all just works.

I even had enough to bring a little for lunch the next day, slightly easing the post-traumatic stress disorder from the Great Coffee and Smoothie Massacre of 2013.

Roasted Fennel and Red Grape Salad

recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis - she adds pancetta to her salad as well, which would be amazing. I just didn't have any on hand. I did have walnuts, feta and red grapes which is how this came about.


  • 1 bulb fennel, halved and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of red seedless grapes
  • 1/4 cup of chopped toasted walnuts
  • 5 ounces (about 6 to 7 cups) mixed salad greens
  • Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or foil if you are out like I sometimes am). Put the fennel, garlic, brown sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper into a sealed Tupperware and shake until mixed. Pour the mixture on the baking sheet and bake until caramelized, about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes add the grapes to the pan and roast until they burst, about 10 minutes or less. (And if you forgot to toast your walnuts, throw those in too while you're at it.)
    Cool the fennel and grapes slightly then add that and the feta cheese on top of the mixed greens in a large bowl. Toss together with the red wine vinaigrette and serve. (You probably don't need all of the vinaigrette, so add a little and check it out first. I halved the recipe last time)

    Red Wine Vinaigrette:

    • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    Mix all ingredients in a sealed jar or Tupperware. Shake thoroughly until blended. (Giada does this in a blender, I was feeling lazy and decided the jar method works just as effectively. Just make sure to shake like a lunatic)

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    Chili, 2 Ways

    Is there anything more perfect than making a big batch of chili on a chilly Sunday?

    Trick question.

    Making two  batches of chili on a chilly Sunday.

    I have two favorite chili recipes:

    Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili (top) and a slightly adapted version of the Pioneer Woman's Simple Perfect Chili (bottom)

    Luke prefers the one with meat in it (he's such a man) so I often just make the vegetarian chili for myself and for several lunches thereafter.

    They are both amazing and if you can't decide which one sounds better, make them both! It is the most delicious way you can multitask on a Sunday afternoon.

    Turkey Chili

    slightly adapted from the Pioneer Woman - my changes are in red.


    • 2 pounds ground turkey
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • One 16-ounce can tomato sauce
    • One can of water
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I add a little more)
    • 1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour, found in the Mexican food section of many supermarkets)
    • One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    • One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    • Shredded Cheddar, for serving
    • Chopped onions, for serving
    • Tortilla chips, for serving
    • Lime wedges, for serving


    Place the ground turkey in a large pot and throw in the garlic. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off the excess fat, and then pour in the tomato sauce, one can of water, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne. Stir together well, cover, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.If the mixture becomes overly dry, add 1/2 cup water at a time as needed.*
    After an hour, place the masa harina in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork. Dump the masa mixture into the chili. Stir together well, and then taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more masa paste and /or water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with shredded Cheddar, chopped onions, tortilla chips and lime wedges.

    *I double the amount of tomato sauce and add 1 can of water because I thought the mixture was too dry to simmer for a whole hour without scorching my pan and the meat. I've made this numerous times and think I nailed the right formula!

    Friday, March 22, 2013


    So this has nothing to do with beer (do any of my posts?!) but I had to share my latest endeavor in hopes of staying committed because there are days when I REALLY want to quit.

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    Donut Crazy

    I've gone donut crazy all up in here. Revisiting those Pumpkin Pecan Donuts the other day has totally got me thinking about other flavor ideas to try out. That shouldn't be a problem, I have about 800 baked donut recipes pinned on Pinterest. (My friend, Jenn, even called me out once for pinning an obscene amount of donut receipes late one night... I couldn't sleep!!)

    The real problem is that I am getting married is less than 3 months and really shouldn't be giving into these donut fantasies.

    Oh well!

    I recently tried Rogue's newest Voodoo Doughnut series of Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale.

     I loved it. But I  mean, I'm going to love any beer that has all my favorite flavors going on and comes in a pink bottle.

    I could really taste all the flavors-- the chocolate flavor from the malts and the banana flavor was just right, not too strong.

    But this beer has got me thinking of all types of chocolate, peanut butter and banana donut possibilities..... stay tuned.

    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Baked Pumpkin Pecan Doughnut

    Is it doughnut or donut? Can we please just decide?.. because it gives me a little bit of anxiety every time I have to decide which spelling to use. Same with gray and grey. Ugh, I need a donut... or a doughnut.

     These pumpkin donuts are a little unseasonable but I had to share.(My friend, Jamie, who has a firm rule of no consuming anything pumpkin-related until September 1st will be apalled by this post) BUT I am a little but obsessed with my donut pan and just realized I never shared these little gems when I first made them.

    The recipe I used was from Shutterbean. I'm obsessed with her blog, and with her hilarious podcast with Joy the Baker. I'veEvenCalledInAndHadMyCallPlayedOnThePodcast. (said really fast, in hopes you guys missed that last part. Totally nerdy.)

    But anyhow, these donuts are so amazing. I think I ate all but the one I let Luke eat. The frosting was so good. The kind you make and have to instantly put the extra in the sink so you don't accidentally consume the entire bowl with a spoon. (not speaking out of experience  or anything...) I think you can even see my finger swipe in the picture below. guilty.

    Friday, March 15, 2013

    Nothing To Do But Smile

    Happy Friday! and for no reason at all, here is a picture of my pup, Dexter.

    I always get a rush of excitement come Friday morning in anticipation of the upcoming weekend. I love the endless possibilities and plans I can make in 2 whole days off. While set weekend plans are a great way to look forward to an upcoming weekend, I also really love those weekends with nothing planned. As of lately, those types of weekends are the best for knocking things off my wedding to do list, which is what I plan to do this weekend.

    Call me a nerd, but I'm big on lists. Grocery lists, wedding planning lists, house project lists, items of clothing I want to purchase lists-- you name it, I probably have a list for it. The most fun and probably nost nerdy list I make are my weekend to do lists. I think they are a great way to anticipate the upcoming weekend and be sure you are spending it doing the things that will make you the most happy. Some of my weekend to do lists don't even include anything productive, just things I want to make sure to do. For example, I can recall one to do do list last summer that included trying the new blood orange flavor at Pink Berry (I can even remember internally laughing at myself for how silly that was to actually schedule on a to do list. and I don't even think I ever did it.....!), take Dexter for a long walk downtown, and check out the farmer's market.

    Latley, my lists have always included wedding projects. This weekend I am focusing on cooking a really great dinner for my future husband, deep cleaning our house, purging a ton of old clothes (this is the hardest thing ever for me!), and  finishing a sandwich board of sorts to welcome guests to our wedding. I am hoping it comes out looking like this idea I found online.

    Here is the work-in-progress. I will post soon how I traced the letters onto the sign and hopefully post the final project if i'm able to tackle everything on my to do list this weekend!
    Have a great weekend!

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    Seared Sea Scallops with Prosecco Risotto

    I've mentioned before, I love cooking for my future husband. Impressing him with my feats in the kitchen and his reactions makes it so worthwhile. I think he is pleasantly surprised with how my cooking stress level has lessened and my skill level has evolved. I used to freak out a little (ok a lot..) when trying to cook for Luke and got really stressed whenever he would try and help. I am now pretty carefree when it comes to experimenting in the kitchen and even let him help!

    Another thing that has been evolving in our kitchen is Luke's eating habbits! He used to hate seafood, but litle by little has begun enjoying it more. He loves scallops, so I was not surprised when he requested scallops for dinner on what we now call Seafood Sunday.

    I even felt ambitious enough to whip up a prosecco risotto to serve along with the scallops.
    I found this recipe but ommitted the prosciutto garnish. The lemon zest on top was delicious and like the author of the blog, am in the prosecco-league so used that instead of champagne.

    I was a little nervous to cook scallops, as I've hear searing them perfectly was a bit of a challenge. Several google searches later, I felt I had the technique down - (make sure they are completely dried and the pan is screaming hot!)

    {Of course right as my scallops were perfectly prepped and my pan perfectly hot and was about to drop in the first scallop (in clock-wise order, to be able to perfectly flip them), our neighbor knocked on our door. I freaked out a little inside, then realized I was insane and took a quick break}

    The meal came out so well and was even more enjoyable eaten outside with the leftover prosecco  - Luke even said it would cost $22 at a restaurant!