paella & pregnant winters

The Winter is a beautiful season in New England. Snow covers the trees, streets, and yards of every home, while people huddle with loved ones and friends to stay warm. The sun shines brightly most days with clear blue skies, but the temperatures remind you that winter prefers for you to stay indoors or to layer yourself.  I like to pretend sometimes that I live in the North Pole when the banks of snow are higher than my thighs. How rugged are we? I say as I take Buster and Bella out back to carve a path. This winter has been particularly snowy.  Snuggling indoors with David, we cook solely belly-warming meals like paella. Yet, this winter has turned me a bit against it. Part of me has started to ache for warmer temperatures and springtime rains. Perhaps being pregnant contributes to this a bit. Snowy streets are treacherous for me now. I worry a lot about falling down and what that could mean for the little one. Thankfully (knock on wood) I have avoided this seasonal hazard so far. This morning though, I was in a panic as I tried to climb the hill to my school and found myself sliding backward more than moving forward. While I definitely don’t want to “wish” winter away, I am getting ready for the Spring thaw to come our way.

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fresh bruschetta

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On snow days, I am all about comfort food. Give me macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, or a hot minestrone soup. My belly demands the warm comfort of rich, savory foods. This last storm though was a little different. While David shoveled us out of almost twelve inches of snow, I diced up some tomatoes tossed them with some oil and vinegar and toasted a baguette.  Dinner was light, cool, crisp, and clean and the bruschetta was just delicious (even if it wasn’t my usual macaroni and cheese)! I  burnt my finger a little while toasting the bread because I was over-zealous is my desire to eat this up immediately, so be careful when you flip the toasts.

Ingredients:

2 cartons of red cherry tomatoes

2 cartons of yellow cherry tomatoes

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

garlic

basil

salt

pepper

red pepper flakes

baguette

In a frying pan, toast 5-6 cloves of garlic in olive oil until they are golden brown. Transfer the garlic and oil to a medium size bowl.  Slice the tomatoes in half length-wise and add them to the bowl. Bunch basil together on a cutting board and slice into thin strips, add these as well to the bowl. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and red pepper flakes into the mix. Toss in about 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Mix everything together and taste.  Add whatever you feel you want more of.  Set aside to let the bruschetta juices mix together and become amazing. Then slice the baguette. In the same frying pan that you browned the garlic, add a tablespoon of butter and place the slices of baguette into the frying pan to toast. Flip the toasts after 1-2 minutes to brown both sides (add more butter if necessary so as not to burn the toast). Transfer to a serving plate. Enjoy!!

soy-braised short ribs with sugar snap peas

I love three day weekends!  It would be amazing to have one every weekend. Three days is just enough time to fully recharge one’s battery, check off items from the to-do list, and, for teachers, have time to grade without having to compromise on time with a loved one.  I had such a good weekend of all of this. And, of course the time spent with friends and David was the best. How did we tie together this delightful winter treat?  By cooking up a delicious crockpot dinner by Real Simple.

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detour: niagara falls

It has been quite an excellent ten day holiday hiatus. On December 21, David, Buster, Bella, and I piled into the car and drove West to Ohio for a week long holiday with my parents. Our time there could best be summed up by the words: quiet, relaxing, cozy, and calm. We lounged in our pjs for long hours, walked in the neighborhood for exercise and ate until our bellies were too full. The time both ticked by slowly and flew. Before we knew it, we had to say goodbye to my parents, which is always hard. I wish our family lived closer or I wish we could teleport, either would do.

On our way back to Boston, we took a little detour. For the past four years we have driven to and from Ohio for the holidays and always pass the exit for Niagara Falls. Each trip we say, “Let’s go see that some time.” But, we inevitability never do. On the way to Ohio, we are always too excited to get there.  On the way home, always too tired to stop. Finally, this time, we decided to take the detour and see the falls.

We drove no more than thirty minutes out of our way and found ourselves in the parking lot for the falls. We were giddy for our little adventure. It was cold and icy in Niagara as we carefully made our way to the falls. You could hear the roar of the water from a distance and Canadian and American flags flew side by side as we made our approach. The falls and the surrounding grounds must be beautiful in the Spring and Summer, but I really enjoyed the  crispness and grayness of Winter. We were not alone. A few other tourists braved the icy air to view the falls. The power of the water was palpable from where we stood. The mist brushed our faces and we held close for warmth. I imagined men in barrels taking the plunge over top and wondered what the water and the drop off felt like. It was a short detour, but I am glad we took it. It was definitely a fun way to end our holiday.

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eric’s chicken noodle soup

On Saturday afternoon, we invited our college friends over for a turkey dinner potluck. It was so much fun. Of course, I loved being with everyone and sharing a meal around the table together as a family. And, the food was quite delicious as well. We prepared the turkey, stuffing, and gravy and each friend brought a family favorite along for a side or for dessert. The house was warm with Thanksgiving aromas. It was a decadent meal and there were a few of us who wished we could curl up on the couch in our stretchy pants.

As was inevitable, David and I were left with so many leftovers. We were a little perplexed with how to handle all of the remaining turkey. I have never been very good at re-purposing leftovers. Thankfully, Eric, Laura’s husband, shared his delicious chicken noodle soup recipe which we substituted with our turkey meat. Coming home from work tonight, this meal was easy to whip together and so delicious. We are both excited to eat these leftovers again tomorrow night. And, to be honest I see this becoming a staple in our home. Thanks Eric!!

Ingredients:

Roast chicken or turkey leftovers (we used 2 legs, a little breast meat and 2 wings from the turkey)

2 carrots

2 celery sticks

chicken stock (enough for 6-8 cups)

rice noodles

onion

garlic

olive oil

red pepper flakes

tarragon

marjoram

basil

salt and pepper

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 7.33.39 PMStart by heating olive oil in a pot. Saute chopped onion and 4 diced garlic cloves until translucent.

IMG_5197Add in the turkey or chicken leftovers. Cook together with the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until meat is warmed through and browns a little on the edges.

IMG_5199Add in the chopped carrots, celery and the spices: 2 tsp basil, 1 tsp marjoram, 1 tsp tarragon, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp red pepper flakes. Saute together and cook 2-3 minutes.

IMG_5200Pour in the chicken stock. I added about 8 cups of the broth. Bring to a rolling boil and then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Finally, add in the rice noodles and cover the soup again for 5-8 minutes to cook the noodles. Serve and truly enjoy!

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