Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Easy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just in time for all that last-minute holiday baking. One of my favorite cookies made light and easy (and gluten-free).

Now, to say I love peanut butter is an understatement. Then combine the creamy, nutty goodness with melted chocolate, and it's like heaven on Earth.

There are so many peanut butter cookies out there — some crispy, others chewy, and yet more rich and dense. These are gluten-free, as there is no flour, as well as dairy-free. Better yet, they don't require any mixing equipment. Whip them up, bake them off, and then you have a light and airy treat in a matter of minutes.

Can't have peanuts? Swap in raw almond butter instead. It's just as good.

Easy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup peanut butter, or almond butter
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add the egg and beat well with a whisk to combine. Add the peanut butter and combine until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

Place about ¼ cup sugar on a plate. Roll dough into ¾-inch balls and then, placing extra sugar in a bowl, roll in the sugar to coat. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, then allow to cool.

Makes: Thirty-two 2-inch cookies
Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Kid-friendly

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Videos for Foodies, Done Easy

I'm a huge fan of these "cooking" videos. Simple graphics, good music, and simple to follow.

I'm sharing two of my favorites - Mojitos, Chips & Salsa... and Apple Galette.

What do you think?

mojitos, chips, and salsa from rachelchew on Vimeo.

the apple galette from rachelchew on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Easy No-Bake Breakfast Cookie

These aren't your mother's chocolate chip-laden, butter-rich, sweet, sugary, melt-in-your-mouth treats you might find at your local bakery or even Mrs. Fields. They are quick and easy to make, don't require any baking at all, taste great, and are good for you, too.

Once you master this basic recipe, begin experimenting, switching out the peanut butter for almond butter, adding in cocoa powder, even shredded coconut or diced mango, if you wish.

Easy No-Bake Breakfast Cookie

1 very ripe banana, mashed
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil, plus more for greasing
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups puffed brown rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
1 cup roasted, salted almonds, chopped finely
1/2 cup dried cranberries

In a small saucepan, mash the banana together with the peanut butter to create a paste. Add the oil, molasses, water, vanilla, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over high heat and then remove from heat, stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Line a baking sheet with coconut oil. Place the puffed rice in a bowl and combine with the almonds and dried cranberries. Pour the molasses mixture on top and stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Cut into bars and serve.

Servings: 8
Makes: 16 small bars

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Best Steel-Cut Oatmeal

On days like today, when the weather gets cold, nothing quite beats a hearty bowl of oatmeal. This is one of my favorite winter morning breakfasts (albeit a no-go now because of my sensitivity to oats).

Weekend days, when you have a bit more time to cook than that make, shower, eat, go routine more typical of a weekday morning, steel-cut oats are the way to go.

Begin with the basic recipe, below, adding in fruits like dried plums or cherries into the oatmeal while it cooks, along with flavorings like vanilla or almond extract, cinnamon, cardamom, etc. Garnish with toppings like salted, roasted almonds, toasted walnuts, or mixed salted nuts, sliced bananas - or sweetened coconut flakes.

Basic Oatmeal Recipe
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup milk
1 cup water
Pinch of salt, to taste

Add oil to a pot and heat over medium until melted. Add oats and gently toast for about 2 minutes. Add milk and water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until oats are tender, about 30-40 minutes or until the oats are al dente. Stir, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.

Flavoring Ideas
Dried plums
Dried cherries
Dried cranberries
Salted mixed nuts
Roasted almonds
Toasted walnuts
Almond butter
Coconut flakes
Sliced banana
Mango chunks
Pine nuts

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blood Orange Spritzer

When it comes to hosting family-friendly holiday parties, few think of offering alcoholic and non-alcoholic variations of the same drink. We developed this blood-orange flavored soda with children, and those who don't imbibe, in mind.
Inspired by the fresh flavors and vibrant colors of blood oranges, which appear in markets just before Christmas, and the unique shape of the red glass bottles of Solerno, this cocktail is simple to make, while the slightly sweet citrus flavor is both refreshing and satisfying.

Solerno is a clear Sicilian blood orange liqueur, made from whole blood orange fruit and essential oils. The bottle is a deep red, like the flesh of a blood orange, and takes on a unique design — the bottom features a punt (the indent on wine bottles) that resembles an orange juice strainer. Just looking at the bottle may make you thirsty for a cocktail.

While the recipe below is for an adult version, you can leave out the liqueur and substitute in sparkling water for a kid-friendly blood orange soda. No one will know the difference.

Blood Orange Soda

2 ounces Solerno liqueur
4 ounces fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
Sparkling water, for topping (for an alcho
Blood orange slice, for garnish

Place three ice cubes in a white wine glass. Add liqueur, then juice. Top with prosecco and serve with a slice of blood orange floating on top.

Makes 1 drink

Photo credit: Flickr/Brianna.Lehman

Homemade Restaurant-Style Pickled Ginger

If you’re a fan of ginger, then you know about the sweet and mild flavor of the pink pickled ginger that accompanies your sushi. Pickled ginger is a flavor-packed treat that is simple to make and will last you a couple weeks. 

This recipe is super-easy, so you can go from a knob of ginger to delicious pickled ginger in about 24 hours. Enjoy with sushi, seared tuna, or simply on its own.

Quick and Easy Restaurant-Style Pickled Ginger

1 1/2 cups ginger, sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the ginger. Return to a boil and cook for 15 seconds. Immediately strain and set aside. In the same saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, and salt. Add the ginger and combine well. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the ginger is submerged. Set mixture aside and allow to cool.

Store ginger and liquid in tightly sealed jars and keep refrigerated for up to two weeks. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Believe I Can Fly

Words do not describe this snippet from a 40-minute documentary. Haven't you always wanted to tightrope between two buildings and cartwheel off mountains? Perhaps...

I Believe I can Fly ( flight of the frenchies). Trailer from sebastien montaz-rosset on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How to Have Lobster for Breakfast (or Easy Lobster Towers with Mango and Avocado

A family friend once said the best way to eat healthy is to have a rainbow of colors on your plate. And, as we feast with our eyes just as much as with our bellies, this does matter when plating.
So, when I was lucky enough to get my paws on a whole lobster recently, I had to think beyond lobster cobb salads and lobster rolls, the sorts of things I now (with a recently found love for lobster) enjoy all summer long. What would add a complement of color to the rosy-tinged meat? Creamy avocado and summery-orange mangoes!

If you're lucky enough to get lobsters fresh from the boat, the still warm, just-cooked lobster meat needs little garnishing. They're great alone with lemon juice, warm drawn butter, or even mayo (if you're of that camp). But rather than serve my lobster meat in a hot dog bun, now that I'm gluten-free, I like it nearly alone.

This is great for a light lunch, or a fancy appetizer for a small dinner party. Or breakfast, even, as I did. Hey, when you can't do cereal or oatmeal, and you crave protein, what's the problem with a little lobster in the morning, too?

I recommend assembling this dish with a round ring mold, layering each ingredient before removing the ring. If you don't have a ring mold, however (like me), don't fret — the dish is still just as delicious layered free-form.

Lobster Timbales with Mango and Avocado
One 1 1/4-pound cooked lobster, meat removed and cut into bite-sized chunks
2 scallions, finely sliced, plus more for garnish, if desired
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 avocado, flesh cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 mango, flesh finely diced

In a small bowl, combine lobster meat, scallions, and olive oil. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt.

Using ring molds, layer ½ the avocado into the bottom, gently packing down the flesh. Then add ½ the mango, again packing gently. Top with ½ the lobster mixture. Carefully and gently remove the ring, if using, and garnish the timbale with scallions.

Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve at room temperature immediately.

Makes: 2 timbales
Total time: 15 minutes
Special Designations: Dairy-free, Gluten-free

VIDEO: Nature's Phenomenons

I came across this video. She's off canoeing in Ireland on the River Shannon... (before I spoil it all)...

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.
A flight of the Starlings!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Ultimate (Gluten-Free) Thanksgiving Planner

The countdown has begun! I'm sitting here, surrounded by cookbooks, this morning, thinking about what sorts of gluten-free dishes I want to see on my family's Thanksgiving table. I'm using this fantastic planner - complete with a downloadable checklist of what I need to have!

There will be the turkey, again mine, but instead of a traditional roast bird, we're going to spatchcock it, removing the backbone to cut down on the cooking time. Agast because of the stuffing crime we're committing? It's OK - there will be no stuffing this year. Darn breadcrumbs...

Instead, we're amping up the butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Quinoa and brown rice will be a part of the table. Oh, and plenty of cranberry sauce, roasted brussels sprouts, and green beans.

Now, back to resume my gluten-free pecan pie recipe hunt... Have a delicious recipe? Share the link below!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Grandma's Meatloaf

What is more comforting on a cool winter night than roasted fingerling potatoes and rosemary with a nice big slice of meatloaf? Not much.

This easy and utterly delicious recipe is inspired by a recipe of my grandmother's. While she grates her onions, so you can't detect the texture, I instead opted to sauté a finely diced onion and then combine it with fresh herbs for a new twist. You could cheat and top the meatloaf with ketchup, like many "easy" meatloaf recipes suggest, but the cloyingly sweet topping is nowhere near as delicious as a homemade topping.

Serve with those crisp-roasted potatoes and some roasted broccoli. Comfort food at its finest!

Easy Meatloaf

1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
One 8-ounce can pureed tomatoes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the same sauté pan, combine the tomatoes, vinegar, mustard, and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Combine the ground beef and breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions. Sauté until translucent over high heat, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to beef. Season with salt and parsley. Mix well.

Press meat mixture into a loaf pan. Top with ½ cup sauce. Place in oven and bake 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, baste with the juices and add ½ cup more sauce. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes and baste again. Cook for about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with an additional spoonful of sauce.

Servings: 6
Makes: 1 loaf
Total time: 45 minutes

DIY Wedding Cakes?

I was recently featured on The Daily Basics with a piece on whether or not to make your own wedding cake. Hey, it's a great way to save money, and add your own flair to your big day. And if you love to bake (and frost cakes, like me) it might be the right fit for you!

Check the story out here!

Broiled Salmon with Strawberry Sauce

Making a healthy dinner doesn't have to take forever. Typically when I cook, it's once a week and I usually take on a challenge that will take me about 2-3 hours rather than 15-30 minutes. Those dishes will then last me through the week so all I have to do is come home, warm something up, pour a glass of wine, and manger!

Come summer though, I don't want to spend 4 hours cooking inside on a sunny Sunday (and I've also been away). So, I often have to come up with some quick-prep weeknight dinners. And broiling salmon, even when it's 90 (OK 101? Not so much), isn't bad (or won't set off my smoke alarm like broiling burgers does). 

There is nothing I love more than a simply broiled salmon topped with a slightly sweet, slightly salty glaze. Yes, even in the winter. While I typically glaze my fillets with maple syrup and a bit of soy sauce, fresh strawberries cooked down with a bit of strawberry jam makes for a delicious topping that can be made in mere minutes.

Serve with a side salad or, as I did, with sautéed zucchini ribbons tossed in pesto.

Broiled Salmon with Strawberry Sauce
1 cup strawberries, trimmed and diced into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 cup strawberry jam
2 salmon fillets, about 4 ounces each
Salt, for finishing
Fennel seeds, for finishing (optional)

Preheat broiler to high. Meanwhile, combine strawberries and jam. Cook either over high heat on stove top until the strawberries begin to break down or cook uncovered in microwave for 90 seconds. Set aside.

Place fillets in an oven-proof pan. Top each fillet with 2 tablespoons each of sauce. Season with salt and fennel seeds. 

Broil about 1 inch away from element for 6-8 minutes, or until the fish is nearly cooked through. Serve immediately drizzled with more sauce.

Serves 2
Total time: 20 minutes

Roasted Tomato Chicken Salad: What to Do With the Last of the Summer Tomatoes

I got my paws on the last of the heirloom tomatoes this past week. And what else to transport me back to a bit of summer goodness than a chicken salad like this.

Summer isn't summer without fresh cherry tomatoes of all colors picked still-warm from the sun from my family's garden. My favorite way to prepare them... Slowly roasting them with a sprinkle of salt in the oven. It's foolproof — if the tomatoes are a bit too watery, like they are this summer, roasting them concentrates all the flavor, adding a subtle textural element that is perfect in green salads, omelettes, or, as I've done here, in a chicken salad (or chicken salad sandwich).

Roasted Tomato Chicken Salad

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup sherry
3 cups cherry tomatoes
10 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup mayonnaise, plus more if desired
4 cups arugula
Pitas, halved for stuffing (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In an ovenproof baking dish, combine the chicken, stock, and sherry. Place on the top shelf of the oven and bake until chicken is just cooked through, about 40 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking process. Remove the chicken from the oven, flip again, and let cool in the liquid.

Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes and garlic with just enough olive oil to coat the mixture, and season lightly with salt. Place the tomatoes on a Silpat-lined baking sheet and cook on the lower shelf in the oven. You can cook the tomatoes in the oven with the chicken. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes crack and begin to shrivel. Turn off the oven heat and leave the tray of tomatoes inside for 15 minutes, then remove.

Once the chicken has cooled, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces with your hands. Toss the chicken in mayonnaise and season with salt. Add the tomatoes and stir together lightly. Place a scoop of the salad mix onto a bed of arugula tossed in more oil and serve. If desired, you can also stuff a halved pita with arugula and a cup of chicken salad.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spicy Beef Summer Rolls

I'll begin with a note - these are not accurate summer rolls in that they are filled with all the delicious ingredients you might find in a traditional summer roll. Nope. No fish sauce. Lots of chiles, but I've messed with the pure Thai origins, adding cumin to my ground beef (because I'm obsessed) and added a spicy red curry mayo as opposed to something salty like fish sauce to the filling. They're far from traditional, but warning: REALLY good.

After a long day at school or work, nothing beats a cool and refreshing summer roll to take the edge off. And why order some from your local Asian restaurant when you can make them at home?

I've paired a slightly spicy ground beef mixture with greens and a curried mayonnaise for layers of flavor, but once you have the wrapping technique down, the fun part of making these is experimenting. Try using fruits like mango and papaya inside or opt for shredded chicken tossed in a peanut sauce that is homemade or store-bought.

Spicy Beef Summer Rolls

1 pound ground beef
Ground cumin, to taste
Ground cayenne, to taste
1 fresh chile, thinly sliced (optional)
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 package of 12-inch rice papers, for rolling*
Coleslaw mix or shredded lettuce, cabbage, and carrots, for stuffing
Chopped almonds (optional)
½ cup sweet chile sauce
2-3 tablespoons yuzu jam

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the ground beef. Add the cumin, cayenne, and chile, if desired. Season with salt. Cook until just seared through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and curry paste until well mixed.

Soak the rice papers in hot water for about 20 seconds, or until tender. Remove from water. Spread the rice papers with the mayonnaise mixture. Layer with lettuce or coleslaw mix, and almonds, if desired. Add 2 tablespoons of the beef mixture. Fold over the sides of the rice paper and roll up like a burrito. Repeat until all the beef has been used.

In a small bowl, combine the chile sauce and yuzu jam and set next to the rolls for dipping.

*Note: If you can't find 12-inch wrappers, any size will do. Just be sure to leave a 1-inch border for the 6-inch wrappers, and about a 2-inch border for larger wrappers to ensure the filling doesn't break through.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My (New) Morning Coffee

It's one of the best ways to wake up in the morning. You curl your hands around the large mug, just properly sized to fit in your palms when you cup your hands together, warming your fingers around the bowl. The steam arising from the liquid's surface dances across your still bleary-eyed state. You close your eyes. Inhale. The rich, sweet, nutty, slightly chocolate-y, just a smudge of (dark) fruity, and undeniably coffee-y (and for me, a bit creamy). It's your morning cup o' Joe.

Where would we be without coffee?

Now, I'm not a coffee junkie. In fact, I really shouldn't be drinking it, according to Dr. D'Adamo. But I work hard, am active, and sometimes I just needed some added help to get out of bed in the morning. I take one mugful, in my large Gmunder Keramik cup from Austria, and savor it with half and half (guilty pleasure!) but more often vanilla almond milk. It's my one vice, aside from wine, and I abstain from it any and every other hour of the day, as it prevents me from sleeping otherwise. I've tried a bunch of brands out there, some "fresh" from my corner coffee shop, others from Italy. They smell fresh, or taste good, but I've found that sometimes there lacks a harmonious balance, a conversation at the least, from these sensory pleasures we derive from coffee...

'Til I recently re-met Peet. 

Family members used to send my parents Peet's Coffee years ago, before I graduated college and was still uninitiated when it comes to the morning coffee habit. I recently re-discovered it, specifically Cafe Domingo and Cafe Solano, two new medium-bodied varietals from this artisanal roaster... and I've fallen in love. In one of two ways. Click here for a $3.00 coupon!

These moist muffins are delicious split in half and warmed in the toaster. Smear with a smidge of salted butter, if you wish. The rich, chocolate notes in the coffee complement the chocolate in the muffins, and bring out the nuttiness of the almond flour and walnuts. So simple, yet so satisfying when you are looking for a (relatively) healthy breakfast on the go.

I've had a slew of pumpkin flesh to deal with recently - from soups, to pastas, and now... breakfast. Being gluten-free, I've had to be a little creative when making something sweet and delicious as an alternative to traditional pancakes. This is the thing, and when paired with a mug of Cafe Solano coffee, a bit fruity, with a hint of nut and sweet flower petals, the pumpkin really shines.

Disclosure for my dear readers. I received the Peet's coffee as a part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, not knowing how it would be received. All suggestions here are my own,  free of outside influence. 

Pumpkin Pancake

I love pancakes. I can't deny it. But ever since going off gluten and dairy (oh, and corn - a once-essential ingredient in my pancakes, per my darling father), they have kind of cramped my style (dietary requirement??). 'Til now.
To say I've been drowning in pumpkins is an understatement. I had 5, until I roasted one for soup, glittered another, painted yet a third with chalkboard paint, made a fourth into pasta, and saved the last - a mini white one - for decorative purposes. So, what to do with three cups of pumpkin puree when you're sick of soup, can't handle any more pasta for the time being, and just want something comforting like the filling of a pie (save the crust, and effort)? Make pancakes, of course.

The first time I did this was a lazy Saturday morning. I had 9 miles in my future, and a raging sweet tooth. And a "carb" craving. Ha. Can't have carbs as I'm sure you can. But I was determined to make a pancake, and thank goodness I had fresh heirloom pumpkin puree, and eggs, in my fridge. I'll do it my way.

This is a most delicious gluten-free, dairy-free pancake recipe, with the sweetness of vanilla, almond milk, and cinnamon, just like a pie, but with a bit more substance (minus the blood sugar crash). I like eating this with warm, homemade applesauce, or sliced bananas, toasted walnuts, and maple syrup. Try it, then tell me what your combination du jour is!!!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancakes

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cooked pumpkin flesh
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
Salt, to taste (I use a pinch)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine flour and baking soda well. Add pumpkin. Stir in egg, vanilla, and oil. Season with salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Heat a 9-inch cast-iron skilled to hot. Add 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil til shimmering. Pour in the batter, reduce to medium heat, and cook until the sides are set, about 8 minutes. Carefully flip and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.

Flip onto plate and serve with preferred garnishes, like warm applesauce, toasted coconut, roasted nuts, and a hearty drizzle of maple syrup. Enjoy.

Makes one large pancake, serving one.

Gluten-Free Banana Walnut Muffins

In the morning, nothing quite satisfies like a muffin when you've got to grab breakfast on the run, for me at least. Yet most muffins are calorie-bombs, full of sugar, fat, and processed white flour, and completely devoid of protein for the most part.

When I went gluten-free, I initially feared my muffin days were over. Hard, for a muffin lover. Then I got to experimenting with a combination of almond and amaranth flours, both on my OK list. After mastering a simple gluten-free blueberry muffin recipe made with almond flour, next up on my list was something with bananas and walnuts, two of my favorite foods. The result is this recipe here, of course with the addition of chocolate chips, for good luck.

I like serving these with tea in the afternoon, or with my morning cappuccino.

Gluten-Free Banana Walnut Muffins

½ cups almond flour
½ cup amaranth flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, plus more for greasing
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large overly ripe bananas
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, and salt. Mix well with a fork and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the oil, honey, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine. Add the banana and mix well again. Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.

Pour into a greased muffin tin, filling each cup no more than ¾ of the way. Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until the centers are just set and the muffins are golden around the edges.

Let cool 10-15 minutes and serve.

Makes 12 regular-sized muffins

Total time: 40 minutes

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Best Bite-Sized Appetizers and More Inspiration This Week

It's been a busy two weeks with birthdays, weddings, and more.

This will be my last link love sharing, as I'll be doing all the rest on Pinterest - Click here to follow my boards. (And you'll get to see all the lovely things that inspire me visually yourself!) Enjoy.

Blossom party. Do you really need an excuse to celebrate with flowers?

Wow. Run a marathon, then give birth?

How make green tomatoes turn red. Yes, RED.

Cheese or font? I love this game.

The Obama's hosted yet another flawless dinner this week. And here are 8 more of the most elaborate White House State Dinners. I'm kind of jealous of Lady Di.

Entertain with Spanish tapas, at home, via the one and only David Tanis.

Is making the perfect pie an art? My mom and Fritz Knipschildt would agree.

Dive into the lavish balls and masked soirees in history, like Truman Capote's Black and White Ball - here!

Love this new blog all about color.

Though I am no vegan (I need my steak. Yes, need), this looks delis. A delightful vegan dinner party menu.

Monarch butterflies - will they meet a significant challenge when they head to the now drought-stricken, barren land that is Texas? Scientists says yes. But is this what this once endangered species needs? No.

Healthy and delicious - I'd add a significant bunch of chicken sausage to add a hearty touch, then serve with brown rice. I can't wait to make this!

LOVE this magazine, love this video. Take me to the Loire....

Roasted salmon, with a pomegranate glaze, and a crispy almond crust? Gluten-free, healthy, and OH so delicious!

I'm still kicking myself I didn't make this party (stupid meeting) with the one and only talented Darcy Miller and delightfully talented Peter Callahan whom I interviewed here.

ACG, when can we go?

Roasted beets are transformed into something a bit more savory and much more unforgettable thanks to Melissa Clark. Click for the recipe.

A great idea for stress-free entertaining, but there are so many more things to remember. Plan ahead, make a list, and cheat when you can - nothing is store-bought when dressed up.

Foodfolio - very cool. Check it out!

Very cute alternative to traditional invitations.

One of my favorite plates in New York State. Stone Barns!

Homemade almond butter, via Morocco. Oh, reminds me of the good stuff my youngest sister brought back. YUM.

One of my FAVORITE blogs, and she's making one of my favorite breads via the town where my alma mater is. It's the best cookbook ever - Bakery Lane Soup Bowl - and sadly out of print.

Looking forward to getting my paws on Melissa Clark's new cookbook.

Stylish ideas for menus (and invites) via A Subtle Revelry.

Homemade sweet potato chips? Delish. Thanks S and L!

Ahh! The delightful dinner party I went to last weekend hosted by the one and only Kelley. L. Moore.

My mom's Christmas present. Oops. Maybe… (Hopefully she's not reading this). It's Amanda Hesser-approved!

And if pumpkin gnocchi aren't enough for you right now, try these cookies. 'Cause everything is better with pumpkin!

Make your own vanilla extract. I was recently gifted two Sri Lankan beans, and I just might have to do this!

The Best Thing to Do With Pumpkin: Make Pasta (and Add Brown Butter)

Living a gluten-free lifestyle isn't all that bad, until the time comes when you really have a craving for pumpkin ravioli. With a nutty brown butter. Real homemade pasta. Ha.

I've been inspired by pumpkins recently. I've got four in my apartment (one with stockings on it, one chalkboard painted-both found here), and another soon-to-be glittered... and then a white one), have made warm pumpkin "pudding" for breakfast, a pumpkin pancake (that I am devouring with walnuts and roasted grapes as I write this), pumpkin soup, and now this pasta.

Inspired by Roman-style gnocchi, this dish transforms sweet pumpkin purée into a delightful pasta dish that is best complemented by nutty brown butter and aromatic sage. The key here is to really cook the pumpkin so most of the moisture is released so you don't have to overdo it on the flour, losing the pumpkin flavor.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Gnocchi
2 cups fresh pumpkin flesh, still warm*
2 eggs, beaten
3 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
½ cup Parmesan, plus more to garnish
3 cups gluten-free flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
2 sticks butter
15 sage leaves
Spiced pumpkin seeds or walnuts, for garnish (optional)

In a large pot, combine the pumpkin, eggs, salt, and cheese and mix well over medium-low heat. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and starch and mix well. Immediately add the flour and starch mixture to the pot with the pumpkin, starting with 1 ½ cups, and continuously stirring while cooking over medium heat. Continue adding more until the mixture dries out a bit and comes together into a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it for about a minute or 2. Press into a rectangular shape, about ½-inch thick, and let it rest for about an hour to dry out a bit.

Once the dough has dried, cut into 1 ½-inch squares and set aside, lightly covered in flour so they don't stick.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 stick butter with a pinch of salt and begin to brown it. Add half of the sage leaves and fry until crisp, about 1 minute. Remove the sage and add half the gnocchi. Spoon butter all around, cooking for 2 minutes per side, until just crisp. Remove from the heat and keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining butter, sage, and gnocchi. Serve with Parmesan, a sprinkle of salt, and spiced pumpkin seeds or walnuts, if desired.

Serves 4
Total time: 4 hours
*Note: You can steam or roast the pumpkin.

25 Ways to Wear a Scarf (in 4 Minutes!)

Brilliant. Need I say more?

What kind of scarf are you? I'm a Twist and Pull (and a Fake Knot)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fig, Nut, and Cocoa Snack Balls

aka Dairy-Free, Wheat-Free Delicious Balls of (Chocolate) Energy Deliciousness.

I've recently transitioned to a lifestyle with no dairy, no wheat, no corn (amongst a list of other foods like peanut butter, coffee, and eggplant... yikes). As the girl who would usually eat everything, sure I used to wake up lethargic or miserable-feeling at times, but little did I know that it was the gluten, sugar, and dairy. It took three days of juices to have a small aha moment -- and then this new transition.

I feel amazing -- and even more interesting, my cravings for chocolate and sugar have diminished (though when I'm tired, I crave rice, ricecakes, and almond butter. Whoa).

This past weekend was a crazy one -- from my first run (ok, jog/walk) in three months since injuring my hip, to kayaking, swimming, floating, and getting caught in a near-death experience in a massive thunderstorm -- but an unforgettable one. The epitome of summer in 36 hours. But in between our activities, I could have used a little sweet and nutty (chocolaty?!) pick me up. Yes, I resisted the brownies and ice cream and cookies (I didn't resist. I didn't want, honestly) but that craving came back to bite me this evening when making a no-cook recipe. Blame it on my light dinner and my 15-minute jog this am (yay!). Granola meets brownies meets peanut butter cups -- but with no added sugar, dairy, wheat. Could I do it? Yup.

These little balls of energy are easy to meet and even better to eat. You could make them with dates and peanuts or pistachios, but those are both on my no list. Figs are a favorite of mine, and they remind me of Fig Newtons (I just like the filling). Throw in some almond butter for protein and unsweetened cocoa powder for added antioxidant power and you've got a dessert your kids will love, don't require you to turn on the oven or any other appliance, and will satsify your hankering for something sweet.

Fruity, Nutty, Chocolaty Energy Balls

1 cup Calimyrna figs, moist and trimmed
1 cup almond butter, room temperature or warmed if possible
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil, if needed
1 teaspoon agave syrup, if desired

In a Cuisinart, chop figs until finely diced. Add the almond butter and cocoa and blend well. Season with a pinch of salt, and add olive oil if you need the mixture to be more soft. Add optional agave. Blend well and chill. Roll 1 tablespoon-sized balls in between palms. Chill or freeze and serve.

Makes about 20-25 balls

Fresh from the Greenmarket: Creamless Mushroom Soup

Most creamy mushroom soups have exactly that—cream—in them. In an effort to create a full-flavored, hearty soup that is both rich and creamy, without the addition of any wine, milk, or cream, I had to think carefully about the ingredients I was going to use.

It's been a little crazy around here, with birthdays (mine!) and weddings (family!). While I've been doing a bit of cooking, I've been eating out a bit more - thus no exciting recipes just yet. But, with a new computer and Photoshop suite, just you wait. Exciting things are in store...

In the meantime, enjoy one of my seasonal favorites, made with ingredients fresh from the farmers' market.

Choosing good-quality, flavorful, and fresh mushrooms at the market was key. I had very fragrant hen of the woods mushrooms to use, and the meaty texture helped give the soup body. Instead of wine, I bolstered the flavor with a bit of agave syrup and a dash of soy sauce. While I used chicken stock, for added flavor, you can use vegetable stock instead for a vegan/vegetarian soup. I also included a bit of flour as a thickener, but it is not necessary, so leave it out if you want a gluten-free dish.

Creamless Mushroom Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 small garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
7 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, chopped
10 ounces fresh wild mushrooms, such as hen of the woods, oyster, or chanterelle
Freshly ground pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon flour, optional
2 teaspoons agave syrup, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
Prosciutto, thinly sliced, for garnish, optional
Fresh baby spinach, in a chiffonade, optional

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When shimmering, add the onion, carrot, and garlic. Sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes. 

Add all the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes, then add 1/2 cup chicken stock. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the rest of the stock and the flour and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.

In a blender or with an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Add the agave syrup and soy sauce and stir well. Add additional seasonings, to taste.

While hot, serve in bowls and garnish with prosciutto and spinach*, if desired. Serve immediately.

*Note: While I served the soup with a garnish of proscuitto and a spinach chiffonade; you could also try a dollop of sour cream, candied walnuts, and chives, or crisp bacon lardons and minced parsley.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Delicious Oyster Risotto

For me, there are really only two ways I like my oysters: fried, like at Pearl Oyster Bar to go with my lobster roll; or atop a Caesar salad at Palmetto Café in Charleston, S.C. But last summer, I fell in love with oysters again, this time in a light yet filling seafood risotto.

There is only one way I like my oysters. Big, fat, juicy -- with a good dose of salt, thanks to these bivalves' salty sea home. Fanny Bay oysters are my choice weapon here. But I'll warn you: be patient when you're shucking. The shells are flaky and tender, but once you've conquered their muscle, the hard work really pays off.

Inspired by Oysters Rockefeller (shucked oysters topped with green herbs, breadcrumbs, and lots of melted butter, and then broiled), I created a rich-tasting alternative that really isn't all too rich — plus, it's not too seafood-y (for those who'd rather eat a steak than a lobster), and it's gluten-free.

Oyster Risotto
4 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and drained of excess moisture
24 fat and juicy oysters, such as Fanny Bay, scrubbed and shucked
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
Basil or dill, for garnish

In a small pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil, then lower the heat to keep the stock warm.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan until bubbly. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the rice and cook until the outer edge of each grain is translucent, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook over medium heat until fully absorbed, stirring constantly.

Begin adding the warm stock in ½ cup portions, and stir until all the liquid is absorbed. Slowly incorporating the liquid and constantly stirring ensures that the starch from each grain of rice is released into the mixture, resulting in a creamy, butter-like risotto. Continue to add the stock until the rice is fully cooked and has reached a creamy consistency. Add the spinach and continue to cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the oysters and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2 minutes then add the Parmigiano. 

Serve immediately with a pinch of dill or basil, for garnish.

Cherry-Cinnamon Applesauce

As a young child, my first word, before "mom," "dad," or even "dog," was "apple." I had a thing for apple juice, or "appie juice," as I called it, and this passion for apples has followed me as I've grown up.
For some, macaroni and cheese or shepherd's pie is considered to be comfort food. Not for me — applesauce is my food fix of choice. 

Served alone, still warm, with a garnish of cinnamon, is my favorite way to enjoy this seasonal treat. But, I've served it atop a scoop of vanilla ice cream, garnished with oatmeal cookie crumbs for an impromptu fruit crisp, even layering it in cookie bars and pies — or with a healthy scoop of melted peanut butter.

While I left the skin on for added texture, it isn't required.

Cherry-Cinnamon Applesauce
10 small apples, such as McIntosh or Cortland, cored and chopped into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sugar

In a large saucepan, combine the apple chunks, and cover with a lid. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and give the apples a stir with a spatula, making sure to press down any uncooked chunks towards the bottom. Replace the lid, and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir again, repeating for another 5-10 minutes until the apples begin to break down. Then, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 8-10 minutes more, with the lid on, until all of the apples have broken down.

Add the cherries, cinnamon, and sugar, adding more if necessary. Remove the pan from heat and let sit for about 10 minutes to give the cherries a chance to rehydrate. Serve warm.

What I've Been Reading: October 2, 2011

Looking to start October with a clean start? Join in for the October Unprocessed 2011 Challenge

Ah, why my 7 mile run turned into a 9 miler on Saturday. At least I made it to my dinner party on time! 

What local delicacies to seek out and enjoy when traveling abroad. 

Yummy new breakfast idea! Quinoa, meet almond milk, fruit, and nuts. My new gluten-free, dairy-free, hearty, warm breakfast alternative.

What I'll be doing to rebuild my shoulder I hurt back in December - well, that and InForm.

How do you sleep in coach - or, do you sleep? The Times investigates (then please share a comment below to let me know what your secret is).

Wow. This diagnosis is interesting and amazing: People investigate one's mysterious illness.

Can Twitter track human mood changes? How our tweets reveal an inside look into our inner psyche.

Fresh burrata, from Vermont? I love Maplebrook - makes me wish I could eat dairy again! 

I've been craving pasta, especially with a kick - can't wait to try Lisa's recipe

I love this book already - and can't wait to make the mini margs! 

For 20 years, Murray's Cheese Shop in the Village has tempted us with cheeses in its windows on Bleecker Street - this month, their opening their five subterranean caves for exclusive tastings. Anyone want to go on the 28th?

These remind me of my birthday zuckertuten

Looking for a reason to party? Host a pancake breakfast party

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Thought

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
 over and over 
announcing your place

in the family of things.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quick and Easy Dinner: Seared Paillards with Cherry Sauce

When you only have 20 minutes to spare and three hungry mouths to feed, more often than not a parent will pull something not-so-nutritious out of the freezer — or opt for takeout. But it doesn't have to take tons of time or money to serve your family a nutritious and delicious dinner.

Inspired by a dish I had in Austria, where tender veal cutlets were seared and then doused in a rich, berry pan sauce, this healthy dinner takes only minutes to prepare and is full of delightful flavors that won't have you reaching into the freezer for ice cream later. In an effort to save money, I've opted for chicken cutlets here. But if you're willing to lay down some extra bucks, opt for thin paillards of veal, and then add an extra oomph of flavor to the sauce with a tablespoon of dark berry jam, balsamic vinegar, and a couple of tablespoons of dark dried fruits. Oh, and you'll need a lovely loaf of pain de campagne to mop up all the juices, believe me.

 Total cost: $9.26

Seared Paillards with Cherry Sauce and Broccoli

2 heads broccoli, cut into spears ($1.99)
Olive oil 3/4 pound chicken cutlets ($4.28)
Salt, to taste
One 10-ounce bag frozen cherries or blueberries, defrosted ($2.99)

 Fill a saucepan with water until it comes up just under a steamer basket. Add the broccoli and top with the lid. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for about 5 minutes, or until a knife cuts through stems smoothly.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Season cutlets on both sides with salt and cook over medium-high heat, until golden, about 4 minutes per side.

Remove the chicken and add the frozen berries. Bring the fruit to a boil and stir well to mash the fruit. Reduce until thickened. Plate the chicken and broccoli and top with the fruit sauce. Serve immediately.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Weekends, Vacations, and What I'm Reading: September 23, 2011

It's going to be a quiet weekend this weekend. Well, not for me, really. But here, at least. I'm taking two days off to escape work, the world, and the pace of everyday life to hopefully kick this cold I've been flirting with for the past month, catch up on some must-needed sleep, and to spend some quality time with five of my dear girlfriends in one of my favorite places on earth - with two four-legged friends, too.

While there just might be some experimenting in the kitchen (drumroll, my first real attempt at gluten-free baking, as pancakes don't count....!!!), you will have to certainly wait until Sunday for some mouthwatering photographs.

In the meantime, I'll be sharing some of the favorite posts and news I've been reading this week. From vodka-infused cherry tomatoes, straight from the garden, to a hearty and healthy alternative to Caesar Salad, to my favorite news: Providence, R.I. is one of the top three cities in the U.S. for dining out (if you haven't already been, run, don't walk to PVD. Check out New Rivers, La Laiterie, Olga's, Seven Stars Bakery, and pick up cheese for a picnic at Farmstead and pasta from Venda Ravioli. Oh, and don't forget ANYTHING on the menu at Al Forno). Yay Lil Rhody!!!!

Without further ado - read the below, or check out what's inspiring me here at Pinterest.

One of my favorite foods - and it's an aphrodisiac! A bit of history - and inspiration on how to use figs in cooking. Here are some more ideas (my blog).

OW OW!! Providence topped NYC and came in third to San Fran (and New Orleans, well, eh). YIPPEEE!!! It's the best small city on the East Coast for good food.

Warning Middlebury grads in the New York Tri-State area: American Flatbread!! And Sarabeth's in Tribeca

One of my favorite home decor and design shops in NYC has started their own blog. Check it out!

I am, but I'm not... Dining out when you have food allergies.

What to do with the beginning of the winter greens. Dinner tonight for KO and I? Topped with a poached egg or two... and some gluten-free croutons - or Flaxers

Such a cute party idea. But the key takeaway here? CHOCOLATE-COVERED BACON.

I'm going to have to make one of these to wear to an upcoming wedding, along with my chic DVF dress, and my patent Louboutins, of course!

I'm not a vegan by any means (this girl loves a good steak), but this site is cute and witty with fun illustrations. 

Just when you thought that vodka and tomatoes were only for Bloody Marys. Nope, not anymore.
Lisa is a doll, and when served with a variety of dipping salts, these are addictive and delicious. Oh, and gluten-free! 

Yumminess. While I can't do bulgur wheat, this hearty and healthy salad would be delicious with quinoa, brown rice, or millet

If you love Spinach and Artichoke Dip, you haven't lived until you've had a slice of this. Preferably straight from the oven at the Chelsea shop, taken up to the High Line and eaten sitting amongst the greenery. But when not in NYC, this will do. 

HOLY MOLY YUMMINESS. Just when I thought I was going to have to get over my cravings for onion rings. Brown rice flour works, but it's not the same. Enter potato chips and no hot oil.

AG, you know who you are. When can we go? A hot new wine bar in Stamford, CT.

I love Heidi's blog, and nothing is more delicious and seasonally satisfying than maple syrup or brown sugar, toasted nuts, and rosemary when the weather turns chilly? I'll try making these as a pre-cocktail hour snack this weekend, perhaps?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Perfect Fall Salad: Spinach with Roasted Grapes and Spiced Almonds

For me, nothing says fall more than a hearty salad filled with gently roasted sweet onions and deep red fruits like grapes or apples, garnished with a light dressing of oil and vinegar, and a scattering of spicy-sweet roasted almonds. It's something I've turned to year-round, opting for roasted figs or apples when grapes aren't widely available. 

I find that the best way to finish this dish is with a drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar, which is hard to find in the U.S. I swear by this product sold at O & Co., but an apple cider reduction works well, too. Simply bring 3 cups of cider to a boil, then reduce it over medium-low heat until it coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.

Fall Spinach Salad with Spiced Nuts

3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, for the onions
Salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon sugar
3/4 cup roasted unsalted almonds
3 cups organic red grapes, rinsed and drained
One 4-ounce box baby spinach
Good-quality balsamic vinegar (see above)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Toss the onions, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 teaspoon vinegar together on a lined cookie sheet. Roast for about 35 minutes, tossing halfway through, until the onions are tender. Set aside.

While the onions roast, combine the spices together in a large bowl (one that will be able to fit the spinach). Add the nuts and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss well and pour into a small baking dish. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes.

In another medium-sized baking dish, toss together grapes with a small drizzle of oil. Roast until the skins just burst, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

In the same bowl you tossed the nuts in, add in the spinach. Toss together with grapes. Toss well, add a drizzle of olive oil, and season to taste. Plate salad onto 4 plates. Garnish with onions and divide nuts equally amongst all 4 plates. Garnish with a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. Serve.

What I've Been Reading: September 17, 2011

I'm obsessed with Kinfolk Magazine, and last week I mentioned Styled. But have you checked out Fathom Away (a travel diary-blog) and Matchbook Magazine yet? Simple, elegant style, and delightfully interesting reads!

One of my favorite authors describes Irene's devastation in my hometown. It wasn't the water or the wind. It was the spray. Spraying salt. Spraying sand. Bringing autumn all too soon.

A dear friend and college classmate's sister has opened up a bakery in VT. Oh, makes me miss the Green Mountain State!

If you love to bake, this is essential. Read: ESSENTIAL (along with Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible). It'll change your life!

Blue Bottle, baby! A little bit of the Bay Area to keep me company in the big concrete jungle. 

Simple yet easy, and delightfully delicious. It reminds me of summer camp at Waveny House, so many years ago. I want to try it with fresh cream from a cow.

Do this while it's still warm! 

Classie is a force to be reckoned with in upper Manhattan - she's a go-to teacher and resource in one of NYRP's beloved community gardens, and makes one mean salsa! 

A laugh a day will keep the doctor away - and keep you from reaching for the aspirin? 

Oh, the picture of Italy here sent me back to two summers ago. And this recipe for an almond tart got me hooked. Read this inspirational and well-done blog! Oh, and she's a girl after my own heart, minimizing grains, and eliminating dairy and gluten. Wee!!! 

Just another reason to visit my darling friend TMT in California! Inspiring and stylish.

My latest gluten-free recipe site obsession. How delicious does that cake look? K, M, M, N, and L, get ready. Who's baking next weekend?!! 

Brilliant. Because when you cook burgers or curry in a small apartment, it does leave a lasting odor! 

The art of stacking dishes on a hostess' tray. Yes, there is an art to it!

From bruises to bumps, sore muscles to general aches, I've been swearing by this stuff for YEARS!!! 

Oh, that chimichurri looks soooo good. Reminds me of Barcelona Stamford's steak. Hmmm... I wonder what's for dinner next weekend.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I've Been Reading: September 10, 2011

It's been a week of catching up with family, cleaning my apartment, and catching up on all that I've bookmarked over the past two months.

1. A Glass of Wine a Day Keeps the Doc Away
I shouldn't feel guilty when I come home, open that bottle of Marquis-Phillips on the counter, and pour myself a lovely glass of red wine - especially as it's now thought to keep the doctor away (OK, I'm no middle age woman, but still...) 

2. A Smart Secret for Roasting Chicken
I'm a fan of starting the bird breast-side down at first, but assuming you've got a decent oven-safe fry pan or skillet (and a good oven mitt), do as Mark Bittman does and start the bird in a blazing hot frypan.

3. Vegetable Gardening is on the Rise
It's not only good for your purse, but it's spending a couple of hours getting lost in the dirt, I think, is good for our over-programmed minds, too.

4. Save Summer - In a Jar
My raspberry jam-making traditions were cancelled this year by Irene. Argh! But I may just make this in two weeks to go with some gluten-free muffins when entertaining weekend guests. What do you think?

5. Pomegranate Molasses
Yep, you heard me right. I agree with Melissa Clark on this one - they're one of my favorite condiments. I'm a fan of it in muhammara (I tested this recipe), but here it's used to glaze chicken. Try it tonight!

6. Barcelona Wine Bar's Latest Addition
I may no longer be a CT resident, but you can't take my love for Barcelona away from the girl. Now, I wonder if Bartaco is serving up some gluten-free goodies to tempt me...

7. A Colorful Way to Get Your Five-a-Day
Stir fries are not just healthy, they're easy to make, delicious, and nutritious, too.

8. Rescue Cat
A lovely, 9/11 tale of how once-homeless (?) cat not only found a home that sunny Tuesday morning.

9. A Nutty Way to End the Day
Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free - and with a handful of chocolate chips, these are the best way to reward yourself at the end of the day (though I'm thinking they'd be delish pre-am run!)

10. Just What Sundays Should be For
Ohhhh... This is may be the only (OK, no there are two - pizza!) reason why I miss gluten. Sweet, sticky, yeasted sticky buns.

11. What to Do with Elderberries
They're not just used for making my favorite liqueur (St-Germain) or the best cold remedy ever (Roots Remedies). Why not make a deep berry jam with them, too?

12. A Gluten-Free Alternative
Robert Steinberg's rich chocolaty brownies are one of my favorites. He adapted a recipe from Maida Heatter, and he's published a recipe with the one and only John Scharffenberger (yeah, of chocolate fame - they were co-founders). Even Alice Medrich has adapted his supernaturally amazing treats to suit her needs. So no wonder I got all excited when I spotted this recipe over at David Leibovitz's blog. Now, I just need a non-corn alternative to cornstarch. 

13. Stylish and Oh So Cool
Click through this to check it out. 

14. Roasted Grapes on Toast
Now, I might have to swap out the ricotta for quark or Buffalo mozzarella, and my handy-dandy gluten-free almond-rice bread instead, but don't those grapes look delish?