Category Archives: family

Creamy Tomato Pasta with Artichokes




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My mom had a pretty rough time throughout December, so before I went away for Christmas, my parents, my sister and I all made a Saturday afternoon lunch and just hung out for a while. My mom’s a vegetarian, and we all needed some comfort food, so this pasta and artichokes in a creamy tomato sauce was perfect. Everything tastes better when you eat it with your family. <3

CREAMY TOMATO PASTA WITH ARTICHOKES (4 servings)

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 shallots, sliced pretty thinly
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 14-oz can chunky crushed tomatoes
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeded
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • freshly grated parmesan (about 1/3 C., plus more for topping)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 lb. linguini

1. Melt the butter and EVOO over medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and onion, cook until translucent, approx. 5-7 minutes.

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2. Add the wine, stir everything together and keep stirring sporadically until the alcohol has burned off.

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3. Add the artichokes (drained).

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4. Add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook a bit until their skins are looser.

5. Add the can of chunky crushed tomatoes, then the cream, stir everything together.

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6. Get your pasta water up to boiling, then cook your pasta. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water before draining.

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7. Stir in the handful of chopped parsley, about 1/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese, then taste and season as needed. Thin with the pasta water if needed.

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8. Add the pasta to the saucepan, combine everything so the pasta is evenly coated.

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9. Serve and enjoy (my mom got the “You’re the Best” plate, of course).

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Colorado Christmas

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Brendan and I just got back from 9 days in Colorado – one of the best weeks of 2014, by far. We flew into Denver, spent the night and the next morning in Boulder with my college roommate Meri, her husband Tim and their three kids (my favorites), then picked up Brendan’s brother Kyle and drove out to their hometown, Grand Junction, on the western slope. Then, we drove down to Pagosa Springs for skiing, hot spring-ing and relaxing, then up to Telluride for Christmas, then finally back to Brendan’s hometown for a night out with his friends before flying out of DIA the next day. WHAT A WEEK.  Colorado is my favorite state in the country, and it was so great to be back there, getting to see where Bren grew up, spending time with his family and just being able to kick back for a while. The pace of life out there is so much more manageable; people are healthy, fun and active; the culture is smart and progressive; and don’t even get me started about how unbelievably gorgeous every single part of that state is.

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Homemade Baked Potato Chips

Someone in my family loves potato chips so much that they’ve been known to eat an entire family-size bag in one sitting. Oh, hi Mom! These chips are baked, which means they’re good for you, right? Okay, maybe not “good for you”, but they’re actually way better for you than the typical deep-fried ones, plus they’re ready in 20 minutes and super crunchy and delicious. We housed these.

HOMEMADE BAKED POTATO CHIPS (makes about 40)
– 2 russet potatoes cleaned really well (skin still on)
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. On a mandoline (be VERY careful – I swear one day I’m going to get over my fear of using these), slice these to 1/8 an inch. If you don’t have a mandoline, just try to cut these and thinly and uniformly as you can.

3. Rinse the potato slices in cold water, then pat dry really well – this is key to getting them to cook evenly.

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25

Bren’s parents are visiting from Colorado this week, so before an awesome dinner at AV, we hosted our parents at our place for drinks and apps. I made a cheese plate, roasted butternut squash soup shooters and that World’s Greatest Pumpkin Dip that Brendan’s been dying to try. Oh, and attempted to make Moscow Mules using Bren’s new copper bday mugs, but that may not have been the best cocktail ever. We’ll just have to practice. 
 
Happy birthday to the smartest, kindest, funniest, most interesting man I’ve ever dated. I love you, Journalist Brendan Gibbons!

 

Whole Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with a Spiced, Creamy Tomato-Coconut Sauce

Recipes like this could make me a vegan (again). Cauliflower is one of my most favorite foods, and I love roasting it, but roasting a whole head of it at once with chickpeas in a creamy, amazing-smelling tomato sauce spiced with Indian flavors was out of this world. I rarely try Indian recipes (the name for this is actually Gobhi Musallam) because I just don’t think I’m good at them, but this recipe was so simple anyone could do it, and everyone should. Brendan took one bite of this and sat back all, “Oh my god. This is amazing.” Ummm…I agree. I already can’t wait to have this for lunch tomorrow.

WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND CHICKPEAS IN A SPICED, CREAMY TOMATO-COCONUT SAUCE (serves 4 – recipe adapted almost exactly via Vegan Richa)
– 1 large head of cauliflower
– 1 tsp. salt
– 1/2 tsp. tumeric

Sauce:
– 1 tsp. EVOO
– 1 tsp. butter
– 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
– 5 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
– 1/2 dried chili pepper (this was enough spice for me, but you can add more if you have a higher spice tolerance than me – and you probably do)
– 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
– 1 tsp garam masala
– 1/2 tsp. cumin 
– 1/2 tsp. coriander
– 1/2 tsp. tumeric 
– 1 tbsp. dried oregano
– 3/4 c. coconut milk
– 1/4 c. ground cashews
– 3/4 tsp. salt
– 1/4 tsp. sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. In a large pot, boil enough water to submerge the (washed, trimmed of leaves) cauliflower. Add the 1 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. tumeric to the water, then blanch the cauliflower for about 5 minutes, or until mildly tender. Drain and set the whole head of cauliflower aside.


3. Meanwhile, melt the butter & EVOO in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until they start to brown, about 5 minutes.

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Cape Cod 2014

I’m finally back after nine days of one of the best vacations of my life. This is the second summer in a row that I’ve gone up to Cape Cod, and I hope that this is the beginning of an awesome summer pattern. It is so unbelievably gorgeous up there, so relaxing and just so charming. Here’s what I did for the past week and a half:

– Read 3 different books and 1 new screenplay

– Ate some of the best food I’ve ever had and did not cook a single thing

– Went bike riding, much to Brendan’s delight

– Saw JAWS on the Cape but didn’t see any sharks in real life, luckily

– Had at least one lobster roll a day

– Averaged 13,000 steps until my goddamn fitbit battery ran out of juice (obsessed)

– Slept until about 10am most mornings

– Spent EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. on the spectacular beaches of Chatham

– Got to have some serious quality time with my mom, dad, little sister, boyfriend and family friends – and what’s better than that?  I love you guys – thanks for a wonderful vacation!!

Spent the halfway point at Pepe’s Pizzeria in Connecticut, holy moly. Bren and I split almost a full pie of the fresh tomato and shrimp.

Finally at the beach!

The incomparable hydrangeas that populate the Cape, and our first lobster roll of the trip at the Squire

Family dinner at Pisces, which was beyond delicious and really cute too.

One of my favorite parts about our relationship is how easily we can make each other laugh (even when one of us is brushing their teeth)

Mom and Dad on the beach

Family <3

Probably my favorite dinner of the trip at Del Mar, where I had stuffed zucchini blossoms, about half of Brendan’s mushroom tart, local Cod and this incredible blueberry pie

My mom (waving from the door) is the cutest

Sunsets on the beach

Best lobster roll of the trip at The Canteen in  the ever-eclectic Provincetown

Brendan’s first time seeing Jaws, ever!! No better place to do it than 20 miles away from where it was filmed. 

An entire cooler of whoopie pies (and the most amazing breakfast burritos ever) at The Corner Store

Fresh pasta, The Prisoner wine and hilarious conversation with the world’s greatest parents at Buca’s

A lunch at the Wild Goose Inn that still makes me full just thinking about it – incredible

Amazing dinners and late night dance parties

Beach reading and cocktail hours with Dad

Love. 

See you next summer!







Father’s Day

Everybody who’s ever met my dad knows how much he loves a story. He’s the greatest story-teller ever – seriously, ever – and despite having gone and kissed the Blarney Stone myself, I will never be able to deliver a punchline like he does. It’s a gift and I love nothing more than hanging out with him, enjoying cocktails and listening to his stories. But sometimes he needs a little material, and so this Father’s Day, Colly and I woke up really early (really  early), made his favorite mini potato pancakes  and a “#1 Dad” sign and surprised him on the 9th green at Fox Hill. He got to rave about his daughters surprising him, share the mini potato pancakes with his buddies, and drive around with that sign in his golf bag for the rest of the day. Oh, and then Collyn and I got back in the will (whew). Later on he came home to my mom’s famous meatloaf and a gorgeous little dinner outside with his family. Today was a good day. Happy Father’s Day Dad, we love you!







World’s Greatest French Toast

For years I thought that French Toast was my least favorite breakfast food (sorry Mom). But then my sister invited me over for brunch and made this sensational French Toast, and it changed my opinion completely. I think, like with most simple recipes, the difference comes from really good quality basic ingredients. Collyn brought me home some ridiculous bread from Penn State on one of her work trips, so I used that, and then milk and eggs from Hillside, this really great vanilla, etc. It ends up being sort of a custardy, breakfast-y French Toast/Bread Pudding, which is obviously the best dessert of all time. I would wake up early to make this, and for how much I love sleep, that’s saying a lot. 

WORLD’S GREATEST FRENCH TOAST (makes enough for 4 lucky breakfast guests)
– 1/2 a loaf of really good bread, sliced thick.
– 1 tbsp. vanilla
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1/2 tbsp. ground nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
– Pinch of Kosher salt
– 1 cup milk
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 3 eggs
– Approx. 4 tbsp. butter

1. In a pretty big bowl, beat the eggs. 

2. Add the milk & cream, then the vanilla. Then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a pinch of salt. 


3. Whisk this mixture well.  Soak the bread slices in this mixture as you melt the butter.


4. In the largest skillet you have, melt the butter over medium low heat.  Here’s the secret – ready?  You have to cook these really, really slowly. The french toast should kind of swim in a little pool of custardy deliciousness, slowly forming a golden crust, over maybe 10-15 minutes in total (flip 2-3 times during this process).


5. When French Toast is ready, keep warm in the oven on low heat while you make the other batch. 

6. Serve with maple syrup and enjoy. Even Brendan couldn’t eat more than 3 pieces, he was so full. Finally that 24 year old metabolism has met its match!!!


Four-Layer Mediterranean Dip

 

Last summer my friends and kids spent almost every weekend at Regina’s pool. Everyone would bring something, we’d have a couple cases of juice boxes (for the kids) and coronas (for the adults) and would just swim and eat and hang out. It was one of the best summers I’ve had in a long time…the little things, I know. My friend Adrienne would make this dip almost every weekend, and we’d devour it. It’s hummus, lemon-flavored greek yogurt, feta and then a blend of english cucumbers, red bell peppers, olives, tomatoes and scallions. You eat it with Carr’s water crackers and IT IS THE BOMB.  Ohhhh I’m so excited for pool season to start!!

FOUR-LAYER MEDITERRANEAN DIP (very slightly adapted from House Tweaking)
– 8 oz. plain hummus
– 1 tbsp. dill
– 2 tbsp. lemon juice, divided
– 1 regular size container plain Greek yogurt
– 1/2 tsp. pepper
– 1/3 english cucumber, chopped
– 1/2 small tomato, chopped
– 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
– 1 scallion stalk, sliced thin (both whites and greens)
– 1/4 c. kalamata olives, chopped
– 1/2 c. crumbled feta

1. Add 1 tbsp. lemon juice and the dill to the hummus, mix well. Spread in 1 layer in a pie pan (clear is best since you can see the layers when it’s finished, but if you don’t have one, no worries).


2. Add the other tbsp. lemon juice and the pepper to the greek yogurt, mix well. Spread that in a thin layer on top of the hummus.


3. Crumble the feta in an even layer over the lemon greek yogurt mixture.


4. Add the english cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, scallions and kalamata olives (make sure these are all chopped in pretty much the same smallish size) over the top of the feta.


5. Serve with Carr’s Water Crackers and feel like Houdini as you watch this disappear.

— On another note, if Memorial Day Weekend was any indication of how this summer’s going to go, it’s going to be awesome. 

Modest Mouse at Ommegang – it poured but we had a blast

An unbelievable meal at the Red Caboose in Oneonta

“I’m always red.”

Brendan’s first Phillies game!! (He’s from Colorado)

Ommegang 
Otesaga Hotel – so so gorgeous 


Cucumber Roll-Ups stuffed with Avocado-Feta Mousse

My parents had a little dinner party at their house, and we all kind of went overboard with our contributions. I made these cucumber roll-ups and those pear, prosciutto & honeyed goat cheese apps, my dad made his incomparable filet mignon with merlot reduction sauce, and my sister made this insane blackberry, lime & olive oil cake. And my mom just made everything look beautiful, as always.  Anyway, these are super simple, really delicious and healthy too! Brendan helped me make them and he was all, “they’re like little cucumber burritos!” which…yup, I can see it. You can use just about anything as a filler, but you know how I looooves me some avocado & feta.

CUCUMBER ROLL-UPS STUFFED WITH AVOCADO-FETA MOUSSE (makes enough for 8 people as apps but only if you have a bunch of other little delicious apps, too)
– 1 english cucumber, washed, skin on
– 1 avocado
– 1/3 c. feta
– 1 tbsp. dill
– juice of 1/2 a lemon

1. Make the avocado-feta mousse. Dice the avocado, then mash it well.  Combine with the dill, lemon & feta. Taste, then adjust seasonings as needed.


2. With a vegetable peeler or a mandoline (I can’t use these, they truly truly freak me out), shave the cucumber into very thin slices. 


3. Take a small spoonful of the avocado-feta mousse and spread it over each slice of the cucumber. Roll and either secure with a toothpick, or leave as is.



4. Serve and watch your family enjoy. Make a mental note to try and make everything as beautiful as your mom always does. 


(Don’t worry. We went for a 7 mile waterfall hike the next day to burn this all off!)