Apricot & Tangerine Zest Biscotti: Hostess Gift

Are you looking for a perfect hostess gift? Apricot & Tangerine Zest Biscotti are not only easy to make, but make a perfect hostess gift that can be snacked on immediately or saved for a day after the party. Plus, you can make them a day or two ahead.

A few weeks ago I signed up to take Domenica Marchetti's workshop about food preservation on the beautiful Star Bright Farm. This Saturday, I drove to the farm with Domenica the day before the workshop and stayed in the guest house Helen and Mark, the owners of the farm, graciously made available for us. I wanted to bring something as a token of appreciation and decided to make one of Domenica's recipes from Ciao Biscotti (and also bring a bottle of wine). My parents taught me to never ever show up empty-handed.

I adapted Domenica's Orange and Pistachio recipe, but used dried apricots instead of pistachios, tangerine zest instead of orange, and almond extract instead of orange extract. 

This recipe used a new-to-me technique of whipping the egg whites separately, then adding sugar, and only then adding the egg yolks. 

Instead of packing the biscotti in a tin or a bag, I put them in one of my favorite oxo products: POP container!

These were a hit ;)

Apricot & Tangerine Zest Biscotti
Adapted from Ciao Biscotti and reprinted with the permission from the author

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large egggs, separated
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
zest of 3 tangerines
3/4 cups vanilla sugar
1 cup diced dried apricots

Directions (I rewrote them in my own words. Domenica's directions are more thorough!)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Oil a large baking sheet.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl using a whisk.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with honey, olive oil, almond extract and tangerine zest.
5. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, whisk egg whites until foamy. Slowly whisk in the sugar, until the mixture becomes thick, glossy, and sticky.
6. Incorporate the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture, and then add the flour mixture and the dried apricots. Using a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula, mix till all the ingredients are combined.
7. Separate the dough into two parts and form two logs on the baking sheet approximately 2 1/2 inches wide by 12 inches long.
8. Bake the logs for 20 minutes, then gently slide onto a cooling rack using a an offset spatula (I actually used two large fish spatulas) and cool for 20 minutes.
9. Lower oven temperature to 300F.
10. Slice the logs into 1/2 inch pieces and bake for about 8 minutes on each side.
11. Cool biscotti completely before storing in an airtight container.

You can use whichever extract you like and mix in other types of dried fruit or nuts or use a combination of all of the above!

PS No pumpkins were harmed in the makings of the biscotti ;)


Vegan Split Pea Soup In A Pressure Cooker Adapted From SkinnyTaste

It finally feels like Fall, which means it's soup weather (although for me, almost any weather is soup weather). If you are like me and love split pea soup, you'll want to make my vegan version of SkinnyTaste's Split Pea Soup in a pressure cooker! I added potatoes, because that's what my mom always does, took out the meat, and added a few extra spices.

Remember when slightly over two years ago I received a PowerPressureXL to play with in my kitchen? I've loved that pressure cooker and used it often, but a few months ago noticed that the non stick coating started to come off. Luckily, the company has rebranded itself into PowerQuickPot, updated its pressure cooker model and now has a stainless steel insert! I received the new model and tested it out by making the split pea soup.

Vegan Split Pea Soup In A Pressure Cooker Adapted From SkinnyTaste

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery ribs, peeled, diced
1 large Russet potato, peeled, cubed into 3/4" pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons bourbon smoked paprika
1 pound dry green split peas, washed well
1 bay leaf
6 cups water
chopped parsley for garnish

1. Set the PowerQuickPot to a saute setting. Add olive oil, allow to heat slightly, then add carrots, onion, celery and potatoes. Saute for 5 minutes.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, other than parsley, and mix to combine.
3. Set the PowerQuickPot to the bean setting. {Note, the bean setting was for 20 minutes. I used a quick release after 15 minutes.}

Adjust the seasoning and serve topped with parsley. Keep in mind the soup will thicken as it sits in the fridge.

This will be lunch today and tomorrow and the day after!

Thanks PowerQuickPot for my new pressure cooker! I'm giving the older version to a friend and sending her a link to a stainless steel insert.

Note: I received the PowerQuickPot as a gift. I'm not being paid for this post. All opinions are my own.


Quick & Easy: Fried Egg, Sweet Plantains & Avocado

Some meals are planned. Others are thrown together in minutes. At least that's how I cook.

Yesterday, I had a day off, lunch was put together in minutes from a bunch of random ingredients I had on hand.

Quick & Easy: Fried Egg, Sweet Plantains & Avocado

1. Defrosted cooked white beans became a white bean dip with a bit of salt, bean cooking liquid, chili powder, and fresh basil.

2. Fried egg.

3. Frozen and baked plantains from the night before were reheated in the same skillet with the fried egg.

4. Cut up tomato and avocado were sprinkled with a bit of salt.

5. Everything got a bit of a freshness kick from the lime juice.

Quick and easy!


Travel Tuesday: Burlington, Vermont

Earlier in September I flew to Burlington, Vermont for a mini solo vacation. I needed a break from DC, and was looking forward to a getaway full of cooler weather, new experiences, great food, and relaxation. I got it all, but the cooler weather.

This is a quick recap with some photos and a list of things I did, saw, and ate. Most of these recommendations came from my friends and social media followers, and I am here to return the favor and share them with you.

Vermont has been on my list of places to visit for a while, and I finally checked it off! The flight from DC was slightly over an hour and not too expensive. I stayed at an AirBnb close enough to the center of the city and walked to most places. Uber was my other mode of transportation and couldn't have been easier.

1) Honey Road (pictured above): This was probably my favorite meal by far. I was able to get a table outside around 5 pm and had a hard time deciding which dishes to order, because I wanted all of them! I ended up ordering hummus, whipped feta, lamb meatballs, and a charred octopus. Plus a cocktail. And dessert. I did not regret a single bite.

2) Willow's Bagels: perfect late breakfast spot. This place was recommended by a receptionist at the yoga place where I dropped in for a class (which was something I've never done on a vacation: highly recommend). I really liked that the bagels were thin and extra toasted. The smoked salmon and the yellow sliced tomatoes were dreamy!

3) Hen of the Wood: start with an oyster happy hour ($1/each), then move over to the chef's table for dinner, as I did. I loved seeing how the food was being prepared. My favorite dish was the toast with hen of the wood mushrooms, bacon and an egg. Again, I had no trouble getting a seat because I was there on an early side and solo.

4) Misery Loves Company: no photos because it was getting dark when I had dinner at this must restaurant with Carey. It was a great way to end my trip: sharing dishes, wine, and dessert and chatting about food, relationships, travel, etc.

Things to do
Shelburne Farms: I Ubered there from the city and it was beyond worth it. I took the tour of the farm and learned about sustainability, sampled cheese, saw beautiful cows, and had lunch. The tour also included the beautiful inn and garden. So picturesque!

Shelburne Vineyard: a quick Uber ride from the farm, this vineyard is not to miss. Sample the wines, walk around, and enjoy the nature.

Sangha Studio: drop in for a class or two and pay what you can. The studio provides mats and blocks.

Spirit of Ethan Allen: take a cruise around the lake!

Green Mountain Railroad Dinner Train: this was the first time I've ever taken a dinner train. I was nervous about sharing a table with strangers. I then was nervous about NOT sharing a table with strangers and having an entire table to myself, but the beauty outside of the windows, the food (I was surprised at how good it was!), and the grand service, made me happy I took this adventure.

Other mentions: take a tour of Citizen Cider, catch a movie at the Merrill's Roxy Cinema, walk through the farmers market.
Happy travels everyone!


Weekend Breakfast: Challah French Toast And Bacon

Who is ready for the weekend!? I know I am.

I wanted to share with you an awesome, super non Kosher, breakfast I made a few weekends ago from the freezer!

Weekend Breakfast: Challah French Toast And Bacon

You see, earlier this month I made an apple and date studded round challah for Rosh Hashannah and had my friend Sarah over with her son to help me celebrate. I sent Sarah home with a chunk of challah for her husband Nick, and froze the rest after slicing it.

In my freezer, I also had individually wrapped slices of bacon. I defrosted both the challah and the bacon overnight, and made breakfast in the morning.

For the bacon, I highly recommend you bake it in the oven on a wire rack set into a baking dish. I sprinkled mine with Cajun spice mix and baked at 430F for about 10 minutes on each side.

The challah French toast is super easy: eggs whisked with a bit of half and half. Challah slices dunked and cooked for about 3-5 minutes on each side.

Have a great weekend!

PS I used Molly Yeh's recipe for the scallion challah, minus the scallions and other extra flavors. I simply added about 3/4 of an apple, diced, and 12 dates also diced.


Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe

In need of a quick and easy vegan comfort food recipe!? I have you covered with Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe.

Did you miss me? I had a really fun vacation in Burlington, VT and then came back and got a cold and stayed home for an entire week. Oy.

After my vacation, I wanted something healthy but still comforting (you know how hard it is to go back to normal life after so much fun and good food and sleeping in and seeing new things). I decided to use red lentils from my pantry, dinosaur kale from my refrigerator and a few extra ingredients.

I basically did very little prep and dumped everything in my pressure cooker.

Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups red lentils
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 bunch dinosaur kale, ribs removed and discarded, torn into pieces
2 cups miso broth
3 garlic cloves, chopped
13.5 ounce can coconut milk
chili powder, to taste

chopped tomatoes
olive oil
yogurt, optional

1. Add all ingredients other than toppings into a pressure cooker.
2. Stir to combine.
3. Set the pressure cooker to 8 minutes on beans/lentils setting.

Serve topped with chopped tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil or a spoon of yogurt or sour cream. A squeeze of lemon juice brightens up this dish really well. Fresh herbs will be good too.


Cajun Spiced Cod With Charred Corn Salad

If you are looking for a healthy meal that is made in less than 20 minutes and is not only colorful, but also has a ton of flavor, make my Cajun Spiced Cod With Charred Corn Salad.

I used defrosted cod, but feel free to use fresh fish. Also, I made my own Cajun spice, but you can buy a jar in your grocery store. If your Cajun spice doesn't have salt, add it to the mix.

This recipe will transfer you to a warmer climate (oh wait...it's a thousand degrees in DC!) and make you feel like you are on vacation. Don't hesitate to have a tropical boozy drink with this dish.

Cajun Spiced Cod With Charred Corn Salad

olive oil
Cajun spice

corn, charred, kernels cut off (I charred mine directly on the flame of the gas stove, but you can use a grill or a broiler, or simply cut off the kernels and saute them in a skillet)
tomatoes, diced
avocado, diced
red onion, chopped
cilantro, chopped
jalapeno, chopped
lime juice to taste
olive oil
salt & pepper

melon slices

1) Heat olive oil in a non stick skillet. Coat cod on both sides with the Cajun spice and saute for 2-4 minutes on each side depending on the size of the fish.
2) Combine corn, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, cilantro and jalapeno in a bowl and dress with lime juice, olive oil and salt & pepper.
3) Serve the fish with a side of the charred corn salad and a few slices of melon.


Everything But The Kitchen Sink Meatless Monday Salad

Raise your hand if you need to reset your eating after a weekend of tater tots, cake, Mexican food, ice cream, hot dogs, and zero exercise.

Oh, is it just me!? 

I present you with Everything But The Kitchen Sink Meatless Monday Salad aka big ass salad. This salad uses leftover baked red skinned potatoes and all the summer produce you have on hand. If you happen to be a hater of mayonnaise, use olive oil, which will make this salad vegan!

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Meatless Monday Salad

baked red skinned potatoes, cubed
fresh corn kernels
tomatoes, cubed
Persian cucumbers, cubed
cilantro, chopped
pickled red onions
salt and pepper to taste

The pickled red onions really make this salad! As far as how much of each ingredient to use, I say do as you wish. I had about the same amount of potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers. If you want this to be more of a potato salad, add more potatoes!


Plum Almond Cake From Domenica Marchetti

Yesterday as soon as I saw Domenica Marchetti share a link to her Plum Almond Cake recipe on Leite's Culinaria, I decided that I would make it. Yes, another cake.

Miraculously, I had all the ingredients needed for the cake at home! {I did have to make my own almond flour from the slivered almonds, but that was really easy.}

Speaking of miraculous, and this has nothing really to do with the cake or the blog, but DEAR MEN: PLEASE STOP GHOSTING!!!! I suppose this also applies to women who do that. It's cowardly, unkind, and rude, and karma, hopefully will get you. I'm still waiting for that miracle of finding ♥.

Ok, back to the cake. I followed the recipe a hundred percent, and the results were stellar. My condo smelled sweet from the ripe plums, sugar, and almond extract. The cake had a tender inside and crusty outside, and took only minutes to put together. 

Above is the before photo: you add the simple batter to the spring form pan, the plop the halved plums, and top with the mixture of almonds, butter and sugar!

The photo below is the after. Please follow the instructions and allow full 20 minutes for the cake to cool. I did not, and mine broke in a few places, but still tasted awesome warm topped with sour cream!!! 

I had leftovers for breakfast with iced coffee.

Let there be cake!


Quick & Easy Pickled Red Onions With Sumac

One of the ingredients I always have on hand are onions. I add onions to soups, salads, thinly sliced into sandwiches, main dishes, and side dishes.

Pickled onions aren't only easy to make, but can elevate any dish and enhance its flavor.

Last weekend I made a quick batch of pickled onions without using any measurements and with an addition of sumac. It was so good and easy, I decided to make a second batch and to share the recipe with you.

Quick & Easy Pickled Red Onions With Sumac

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1 tangerine
white vinegar
a few dashes of sumac

Place sliced onions into a small jar. Add juice of tangerine and enough white vinegar to cover. Add sumac. Add the lid. Shake. Refrigerate for at least a few hours.

I've added these onions to a pulled pork sandwich, tuna salad, and a big potato salad that I'll blog about later this week.