The Kitchen Sink

For the love of food, life and everything in between.

Category: Uncategorized

Oven Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad

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Like many, I often struggle with cooking during the week when I’m also working. I’ve found that being able to do some preparation on the weekend is a big help but this still isn’t enough. As much as a planner as I am, I can’t seem to plan out more than one or two meals ahead of time.

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I know I’m not alone when it comes to letting my mood and unforeseen obstacles/commitments dictate my food choices (within reason). With all of this being said, I manage to maintain healthy, wholesome choices by keeping certain staples on hand. One of those staples is quinoa. With a combination of fiber and complete protein, it’s hard to argue with its nutritious profile.

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So the other night while I made a simple black bean and spinach quesadilla for dinner I also took the opportunity to make some quinoa. I wasn’t sure just what I would do with it for the remainder of the week but I knew that the simple step of stove top cooking is often a barrier, especially when it comes to last minute meal prep.

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With the quinoa stored in the fridge, I was able to effortlessly incorporate it into lunches and dinners, some planned and some literally tossed together.

Though the sunny afternoons are proving to bring some spring-like warmth, I was still looking for something a bit warmer to add on my plate. I accomplished this in to ways: oven roasted carrots and cheesy quinoa.

There isn’t really a recipe here, so feel free to add amounts as desired and also, substitute different types of nuts or cheese.

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Oven Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad

Start by washing, peeling and slicing some carrots into strips. Spray with a bit of nonstick cooking spray and roast in the oven at 400F for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, make a nice bed of greens on your plate, I used a mix of spring mix lettuce and baby spinach. Next, microwave a desired amount of cooked quinoa for about 45 seconds. Add in cheese (I used Gorgonzola), nuts (or sunflower seeds in my case), a drizzle of olive oil and honey and give half of a lemon a good squeeze in there too. Mix well and add quinoa mixture to salad greens. Toss a few of the carrot tops in there too if you wish. Top with roasted carrots. No dressing is required as the quinoa mixture brings a nice aspect of moisture. Enjoy!

Pepita, Papaya, Almond Museli

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One day you will learn how to give and receive love like an open window and it will feel like summer everyday.

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The other day I got to thinking about my favorite meal. Not salads, or seafood, or ice cream, more simple than that. More along the lines of breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s the type of wandering my mind does, nearly unconsciously, until I come to a realization worth marveling at. Then I tune in, listen to my mind, take a mental note to stow it away.

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It’s the kind of wandering I love the most. Lately I feel as though I’ve learned to incorporate it into the strangest of places. It used to only happen as I drifted off to sleep, then I would find myself doing it while I was on a walk or at the gym. Then it was while I was driving.

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To completely contradict all of this I will tell you that I am big believer in being present. I believe in showing up for everyday. Mentally, emotionally, any way you twist it, I think that “putting my best foot forward” also means “showing up” to participate fully in all that life has to offer. How can one’s mind wander but also be present in the current moment? I’m still tackling this question myself, but somehow I seem to have found a nice mix of the two, presence and absence and it has created quite a calming effect.

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I’ve always been a morning person so it should come as no surprise that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  On a side note, my second favorite time of day, or perhaps very closely rivaling first place, is the late afternoon. From the light shadows cast by a setting sun dancing around tree trunks covered in snow, to the way my sun scorched skin feels as I settle a bit deeper into my beach chair on the sands of the Jersey Shore.

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I turn to my mother and we say “the longer we sit the less we want to leave” as if we have just discovered this fact of life that takes hold of us every beach day of the summer. The sinking sun seems to pull us closer to the sand and cloth chairs rather than back to the beach house where the tomatoes resting on the windowsill are waiting to partake in dinner.

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Thanks to dried papaya, this take on museli seems to perfectly catch that hue of sunset among beach chairs and the warmth that I’m dreaming of on a rainy, blustery morning of late winter, marrying my two favorite hours of the day quite perfectly.

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 Pepita, Papaya, Almond Museli

Makes about 4 cups

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds

1/2 cup unsalted pepita’s (shelled pumpkin seeds)

1 cup roughly chopped dried papaya chunks

Preheat oven to 375F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On one baking sheet, toast the oats. On another baking sheet, toast the pepitas and chopped almonds. Toast until each is lightly golden, about 5 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then combine with chopped dried papaya.

Serve over milk or plain greek yogurt. As you can see, this also makes a great on-the-go breakfast once packaged in small jars.

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Israeli Couscous with Maple Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Noticing life only enriches it.

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DSC_0020I know I am not alone when I share my thoughts of noticing the finer details of life. The way the snow flies behind the Amtrak train like a shimmering ghost. Or catching a devoted photographer out on the streets of town in the predawn hours as I begin my daily commute.  Wool socks. Dancing candle flames. And like catching those small moments to stow away for gloomy days, I get a little bit of joy when I cross paths with another person who feels the same way I do.

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I’ve always been one for paying attention to detail. Sometimes it crosses over with my perfectionism and other times it reveals itself in my thoroughness and mindfulness approach to most everything. Often times I find happiness among the finer threads of a woven life. While I also believe in creating happiness, these small details add up, paving the way for continued happy thoughts ahead.

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I realize I am a total foodie. Through and through I love food, for sustainability, for pleasure, for comfort, for career. Food plays a substantial part in my life. I like to think I have a great relationship with food, but like any relationship, it requires tending to, modest effort, and patience.

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Tonight I was home by myself, with a big empty kitchen, a (nearly) fully stocked refrigerator, and some kale that was about 24 hours from becoming unsatisfying mush. I could have gotten take out. I could have had a bowl of cereal. Instead, in true foodie style, I cooked up a well rounded meal for four, guest of 1. With leftovers for lunch (paired with some fresh fruit – see below) and family.

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The way the kale cooked up to a grass green in the cast iron pan and the warmth of cinnamon and cayenne wafting from the oven brought both comfort and satisfaction to such a lonely kitchen. I could have chosen to focus on the exertion from my depleted energy stores, or the clean up of non-dishwasher safe pots and pans. I could have. But I didn’t. The finer details of this meal were the real key players here. Aside from the disease fighting vitamins, minerals and fiber of course.

Israeli Couscous with Maple Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from Poor Girl Gourmet

1 pound of sweet potatoes (about 1 large, or 2 small) skin on, sliced into 1/2 inch discs then cut into 1/2 inch chunks

1 1/5 TBSP olive oil (for potatoes)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves

1 TBSP olive oil (for shallots)

1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped

4-6 chives, chopped

1 Bunch of curly kale, washed, dried, with leaves ripped from stems and torn into pieces

1 cup dry israeli couscous – cooked according to manufacturer’s directions

3 TBSP Maple Syrup

Goat cheese as desired

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F. After cutting sweet potato into 1/2-inch chunks, toss in a medium bowl with olive oil, cinnamon, thyme and cayenne pepper. Mix well. Place in a single layer in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Cook the Israeli Couscous according to manufacturer’s directions – this should take about 10 minutes.

With about 20 minutes left on the sweet potatoes, heat remaining olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots and chives and saute about 3 minutes, until shallots are translucent. Add kale and cook 5 to 7 minutes. Add in couscous and sweet potatoes and drizzle maple syrup over top. Mix to combine and serve. Topping with goat cheese and seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.

Pretz-ales

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I find it interesting the way a person evolves over time. Their job changes, their friends change, time goes by, certain activities that were such a part of day-to-day live fade away, filled by new activities, new routines, and subsequently, new memories.

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 Sometimes when my minds drifts off I think about the person I used to be, the person I want to become, the person I am today. I remember being in high school and even college, waiting to feel like an adult. Waiting for some moment, some passage into adulthood. That time stamp never came though. On a day like today, a rather ordinary Sunday, when I look back on things, I realize the ways I’ve changed from the girl who was just waiting to grow up.

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 Don’t grow up to fast, people warned me. You’ll miss these days, I was told. Fortunately, I can say that this is the most content I’ve felt in quite a long time. Sure, there’s always room for things to go my way a little bit more often, there’s a few things that I wish could be different, or things I wish I had done differently. But, I think that these things are minor in the grand scheme of things.

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I’d like to tell those people full of warning, that it was wasted on me. For I am happier than my younger self. I find comfort and contentment in small things I used to enjoy a child, activities I lost touch with and never thought I’d revisit.

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Several years ago I watched Alton Brown endlessly, episode after episode, entranced in his witty delight and scientific approach that he brought into the kitchen. I went off to college without any clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It took me more time than I’d like to admit, to realize that the plastic foods and Little Tikes kitchen set of my childhood and the many episodes of Alton Brown I watched in high school were helping to build the foundation on which I would mount a career off of. I am forever intrigued by an individual’s relationship with food, for food is an integral part of everyone’s life in one form or another.

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 One of my favorite Alton Brown episodes was about making homemade pretzels. I used to make them in high school, but then the recipe was abandoned. I spent less time in the kitchen and lost touch with something that brought me so much happiness. I am so happy to be back in the kitchen perfecting that same recipe I worked with years ago.

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With a little help from Martha Stewart, Alton and a few other creative minds I think I’ve finally developed a recipe worthy of sharing with you, my readers.

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For the dough:

1 package yeast

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup beer

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (option but encouraged)

2 TBSP unsalted butter, softened

For the boiling bath:

1/4 cup baking soda

water

For topping:

Flaky salt or light brown sugar and cinnamon or freshly grated parmesan cheese or garlic and parsley

Clearly, the possibilities are endless…

Combine together yeast, salt, sugar and warm water in a small bowl, allow to sit for about five minutes, until foamy.

Whisk flour and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl (preferably the bowl of a stand mixer). Using a pastry blender (highly recommended) or two knives, cut the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the beer to the yeast mixture, stirring to combine. Add the liquid to the flour mixture and with the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer, mix at low-medium speed for about 5 minutes, until dough it no longer sticky and pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Remove dough from bowl, oil sides of bowl, return dough and cover. Allow to rise in a warm area for 30 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray them lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Once risen, divide the dough into several equal pieces. The amount of pieces will depend on the size and amount of pretzels you wish to create.

Roll the dough pieces into 12 inch ropes, make a U shape, twist the ends twice and then fold ends back over pretzel to form a circle, pressing ends to seal the dough. Allow pretzels to sit on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes to rise. While you wait, fill a large pot with at least five inches of water. Bring to a boil. Conveniently, this will also take about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 475F.

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Once pretzels have risen, add the baking soda to the water which should be at a rolling boil. Gently drop as many pretzels as you can, without over crowding, into the boiling water bath. Boil for about 45 seconds, remove pretzels with a large flat, slotted, spatula and transfer back to baking sheet. Sprinkle with desired toppings and bake in the oven for 12 to 14 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Air Plants


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Well folks, if you’re reading this and you live in the Northeast, then you can agree there is no escaping it. We are in a deep freeze. What always astonishes me about this time of year is how you can look outside your car window and just see the bitter cold out. There doesn’t need to be a person hunched in layers hurrying from door to door to detect it. There doesn’t even need to be ice within view to see it. The cold, unrelenting, bitter air of 7 degrees below zero permeates the landscape.

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The tree line of the woods, stretched high along the interstate, jabs at the glow of dawn on the horizon, but the branches seem to ache, appearing arthritic and stiff. Smoke billows from old mill towers, exaggerated and puffy, as if it is trying to chase away the arctic air mass.

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As I battle with the proper heat setting on my dashboard, I catch a glimpse of one lone rock rising out of a body of water, icicles wrapped around its base like a skirt. No ducks, no swans, nor any wildlife to observe on a day like today. Just people like me, bundled up in woolen socks and scarves, mittens and turtlenecks, brainstorming the best way to spend the shortest amount of time possible outside, playing victim to Old Man Winter.

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It’s days like these were I can get lost in the whimsy of my air plants. These little self-sufficient, succulent-like, house plants are a real pleasure to have hanging around (quite literally). They’re relatively low maintenance, low cost, mess free (with no dirt and minimal roots) and are reminiscent of tropical destinations, strangers to sub freezing temperatures.

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A little initial work is required to get your plants on a proper watering schedule, but the rest is low maintenance, pure enjoyment. Whether glass terrariums, decorative dishes or driftwood are your choice of vessel, these plants will live in the air and in indirect sunlight, using their leaf system as a means of obtaining adequate hydration.

Ours were ordered through Air Plant Supply Co. and we found the glass terrariums on Etsy.

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Here’s a little info for those of you who think an air plant or six would make a nice addition to your living room or sun room…

Temperature – a good range for optimal growth is between 50-90 degrees.

Life Cycle – air plants will bloom (a magnificent and brightly colored flower I am told) and reproduce little offshoots, better known as “pups,” just once in their life time, but the “pups” can be removed when they have grown to be 1/3rd the size of the parent plant. Pups will grow to be parent plants and repeat the life cycle given adequate light and water.

Fertilizer – thought not required, a Bromeliad fertilizer is recommended (should you choose to fertilize) to be used once per month during the months of March through October.

Water – air plants should be watered at least once per week – 2 to 3 times is optimal. A longer, 2-hour soak is recommended every 2 to 3 weeks. It is important to shake excess water from the plant’s leaves and to allow for complete drying in between waterings. Some particular species may require less (or more) frequent watering, but this information should come along with your order of air plants.

*It is important to realize that although air plants will maintain life for a longer period of time with minimal water, they will not grow or thrive and eventually will die. This can be learned the hard way in the case of “spike,” our little guy who was cared for by an uninformed owner, he is currently receiving comfort soaks and appears to have just one bright green leaf left to his body. We shall see how he fairs now that he is under proper care.

 

Into the Woods

When you plant seeds in the garden you don’t dig them up everyday to see if they have sprouted yet. You simply water them and and clear away the weeds; you know that the seeds will grow in time. Similarly, just do you daily practice and cultivate a kind heart. Abandon impatience and instead be content creating the causes for goodness; the results will come when they are ready.

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After days of playing victim to the evil cold and flu season once more I was antsy to get outside and get back behind my camera’s lens. I wasn’t looking to go too far from home, but I was looking for new vistas and unfamiliar paths.wood1

As much as I love bright expressions of color, lately I find myself drawn to the earthen hues that can only be found when the leaves have parted and the snow has melted away. As a neutral blur beyond the car’s window, the vast amount of variations of brown and green reveal their unique beauty only upon a closer look.
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I was feeling patient, and I wanted to manipulate my camera’s unfamiliar settings a thousand times to see what kinds of images I could capture to take back with me, to tuck away for rainy days.wood3I’ve compiled a few of my favorite barks and braches, decay and fluid movement. I hope you enjoy them even half as much as I enjoyed capturing them.

 

Sea Scallops and Brussels Sprouts

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As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. 

                                                                                                                                   Henry David Thoreau

DSC_0078They say money can’t buy happiness, and they say that one who puts too much emphasis on material goods makes one materialistic, shallow, and perhaps dull. These two mantras have always made me wonder. I wonder who is they, and how did they come to such conclusions. But I also wonder about the exceptions and then I quickly forget about these mantras because I don’t really care for such definitive statements.

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A renewed interest in photography initially left me frustrated and unfulfilled. I would venture out with my point-and-shoot Canon only to fret. But then I realized that above all frustration and grainy, unsatisfactory photographs I was a happier person. I was happier because I was doing something that I had loved and lost touch with.

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It wasn’t my exquisite DSLR camera that turned me on to photography, nor was it the thing that reinstated my passion; for that would probably warrant materialism. Instead, my camera has become a material good that has allowed for experimentation and growth. Growth for my hobby and growth for myself as an individual.

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I sometimes find myself wondering how I used to spend weekends if not searching for landscapes and other various creative outlets; the way I tend to spend my weekends nowadays. It’s strange to think about how fascinating I find both old habits and new discoveries. Old habits are stitched with nostalgia and new discoveries are bountiful with opportunity.


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It’s a beautiful thing, the opportunity to bring some of my favorite things together, photography, location and food. Recently I discovered a new spot to visit and a new food to incorporate into dinner. Fortunately enough, my camera was ready to shoot.

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It’s especially exciting when I discover new things in “my own backyard” so to speak. I’ve lived in the same town for my entire life and I’ve lived in the same house, slept in the same room. But twenty-three years later I am still finding the new in the familiar. The new and familiar can occur in many settings, specifically the grocery store and my hometown.

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Brussels sprouts evoke so many reactions in people, from he fond to the fearful and I must admit, I have had minimal encounters with this cruciferous vegetable. However,  after a day poking around the shores of Stonington and coming across a recipe for brussels sprouts and sea scallops I felt I couldn’t go wrong. And I didn’t.

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The recipe I used, which I modified only slightly, can be found here. For those who are interested, I used slightly less olive oil and butter than the original recipe called for, and I added bacon for an additional layer of flavor.

Cast Iron Skillet Beets

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This Christmas I was fortunate enough to welcome some wonderful new gadgets into my collection of kitchen goodies. This list includes (but is not limited to):

A mini ice cream scoop – for perfectly shaped cookie dough balls, every time

A flour sifter – no more ignoring this step in the recipe, cringe at the fact that I ever did this.

A Kitchen Aid 5 Quart Artisan Stand Mixer – need I say more?

Super cute muffin tin from Anthropologie – seen in this post

But sometimes the best kitchenware is a longtime resident of the kitchen cabinet – the cast iron skillet. In extra small, small, medium, and large,  I wouldn’t dare cook an egg on anything else. Or rather, I wouldn’t ever again. I strayed once and paid the consequence.

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The skillets are as much of a must have as Le Creuset Round French Ovens – although most Le Creuset products cost an arm and a leg, I believe they are worth every penny. For Christmas, I received the smallest member of the Le Creuset family – the mini cocotte . I foresee Custards of cuteness in my future.

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 The common theme here? Cast iron is the way to go for many reasons, but mostly for its versatility and reliability.

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This evening I came across a recipe that used my cast iron skillet in a way I had never considered – it was time to take the skillet off the stove top and put it into the oven.

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The first – and very successful – take at this cast iron skillet roasting contained red beets, goat cheese and pistachios. The beautiful deep ruby color of beets should be a big red flag for “packed full of disease fighting goodness.” Vitamins A and C, and fiber to name just a few.

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Another great benefit to fresh beets? Wilt the greens with a bit olive oil on the stovetop – in a cast iron skillet of course – and you have a nice side of greenery to add to your dinner plate. This recipe is a keeper, for sure.

Thanks to 3o Seconds with A and J for the recipe which can be found here.

Lobster Mac & Cheese

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When lobsters first come to mind, I think of summertime and red
gingham tablecloth, lighthouses and corn on the cob, tanned skin and
beach passes, sandy sheets and boat rides. However, I also tend to
think of glitter, confetti, and champagne as lobsters have always been
a staple on our New Year’s Eve menu.

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New Year’s Eve is one of my
favorite holidays despite a few years of dramatic nights and sipping
on too much champagne. The sentimental reflection on another year gone
by and the fresh slate that is the New Year always gives me a burst of
energy and hope that I gratefully accept.

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Far be it from summer, as the snow blanketed the town just before the
New Year, I was finally granted my winter wonderland and the lobsters
had been ordered.  I had recently read that lobsters are thought to
bring bad luck on New Year’s because of their tendency to walk
backwards, apparently thought to have the power to reverse good
fortune.

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That being said, the fun of prying the lobster open and using
the itty bitty fork to harvest the meat is far too satisfying and
delicious to abandon all because of some coincidental bad memories and
superstition.

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I am happy to report that I have dodged bad fortune this year despite
inviting lobsters to our festivities. The best part of all was the
accidental ordering of an extra lobster which of course meant lunch
for New Year’s Day. Rather than straight up with a bit of lemon, I
made lobster Mac and Cheese, the ultimate comfort food if there ever
was one! I had never attempted my own Mac and Cheese before but I
think it’s safe to say I won’t ever be preparing it from the box
again.

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Happy New Years!

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Adapted from The Black Peppercorn

Makes 5 Ramekins

1 1/2 cups dry macaroni pasta

1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar

1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup skim milk

2 TBSP all-purpose flour

2 TBSP unsalted butter

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 lobster, meat removed and chopped

For Crumb Topping:

1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1-2 TBSP fresh parsley, minced

2 TBSP unsalted butter

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 5 ramekins with non-stick cooking spray. Cook pasta according to directions on the package. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, whisk in flour to create a roux, whisk for another minute until smooth. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly until smooth. Stir in cheeses, salt and pepper until combined. Add to pasta along with lobster meat and stir until combined and macaroni is covered. Scoop into ramekins.

Melt butter in a small bowl and mix in bread crumbs with a fork until bread crumbs are covered. Stir in 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and parsley. Sprinkle on top of each macaroni mixture and bake the ramekins for 12-14 minutes.

Kumquat Coconut Mini Tea Cakes

Pleasures that are in themselves innocent lose their power of pleasing if they become the sole or main object of pursuit.

 William Edward Hartpole Lecky

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There’s something so wonderfully brooding about the winter sky. It is a mixture of grays and blues that I fantasize about. It floats in through window panes casting a perfect muted light on whatever it may fall upon.

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I don’t recall where I was or what I was doing when I developed an awareness of light but it is an awareness I am thankful for. For the vast majority of beauty in life is missed in the every day hustle and bustle and the tick tock of our little worlds.

For Christmas I was given a second pair of eyes. They are not in the form of Ray Ban frames but rather a Nikon D5100. I happily bid farewell to my point-and-shoot and accepted my new identify as a shutterbug.

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I also became the proud owner of a 5 Quart Artisan Kitchen Aid mixer. Life has changed as I know it folks. I invite you to join me as I embark on kitchen adventures like never before. Perhaps you may also spot my new ultra-cute muffin tin as well.

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The text read “I got you kumquats.” I hurried home from work through Friday rush hour with great anticipation to meet a new face. Rather, a new carton of Florida Sunshine, in the form of Kumquats. As the sweet and sour gem of the citrus family, these little suckers come ready to eat, rind and all.  Although most satisfying on their very own, I was just itching to blend them into a fabulous tea cake.

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I invited some of Kumquat’s close relatives to the party as well.

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It was a raging good time.

Kumquat Coconut Mini Tea Cakes

Makes about 16

Adapted from NPR.org and Baking:From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the batter:

1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, toasted

2 cups, unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk, stirred well

1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

4 large eggs

2 1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup de-seeded kumquats, rind included, minced until pulpy

1 TBSP each orange and lemon juice

1 TBSP each orange and lemon zest

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Icing:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp each fresh orange juice and lemon juice

1 TBSP milk

1/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, toasted

2-3 kumquats, thinly sliced and de-seeded

Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the center. Coat muffin tins with cooking spray or butter.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.

Pour the coconut milk and butter into a small sauce pan and heat until melted. Remove from heat but keep warm.

Using a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachement, beat the eggs, sugar, minced kumquat, orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest and lemon zest at medium-low speed for 3 minutes. On low speed, add in the vanilla until combined. Keeping at low speed, spoon in the dry ingredients scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the cup of tasted coconut, mixing until blended then slowly add the milk and butter mixture until combined. Stop mixing and stir a few times with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, using a hand whisk, mix the confectioner’s sugar with lemon and orange juice, adding drops of milk as needed to create a consistency suitable for drizzling.

Once cupcakes are cool enough to be removed form the tin, transfer to a cooling rack placed over a sheet of wax paper. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing over the cakes, then sprinkle with toasted coconut and place a slice of kumquat on top for garnish.

Note about toasting coconut: place the coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat and gently stir until coconut is slightly golden brown about two minutes. Coconut will burn quickly so this step will require close supervision.