Persimmon Muffins with Lemon & Cardamom

I went on a roll this fall of trying new fruits and veggies that I’d never had before.  I tried acorn squash for the first time (definitely delish!), and then that same week saw these weird little orange tomato-like things in my grocery store and just had to grab one. Turns out it was a persimmon, specifically of the fuyu variety.

Persimmon Lemon Cardamom Muffin

So the next logical question was what to make. I browsed a ton of recipes, but most were salads, and I definitely didn’t want to go that route (boring). Then I found this somewhat odd-sounding muffin recipe and had to give it a try.

Persimmon Lemon Cardamom Muffins

I “healthied it up” by using half whole wheat flour and cutting down on the sugar just a little. The persimmons gave it a lovely sweetness, with the lemon giving it a tart complement. The overall texture of the muffins was pretty light but still hearty, due to the whole wheat flour. And, like most muffin recipes, they came together in a flash.

Persimmon Lemon Cardamom Muffins with Blackberry Honey

I ate one fresh out of the oven with blackberry honey from Croatia, and then took them to work for my breakfast for the next few days (with honey from New Zealand…I definitely have a honey souvenir addiction!). This is such an easy and versatile recipe that you could swap out the persimmons for many other fruits, and even swap in a different citrus zest to mix things up (orange would have been lovely here as well). [Read more…]

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Apple Pie German Pancake Bowls

German pancakes, where have you been all my life?!?!

Apple Pie German Pancake Bowls done

A few weeks ago, I realized on a Thursday that the next morning was my breakfast day. But, in addition to working long hours, my co-workers and I were going out for a department event, so it was going to be a late night. I racked my brain for something I could easily throw together the next morning, but that would be hearty and unhealthy enough for my (probably slightly hungover) co-workers. This recipe was perfect because it was pretty easy, and had a baking break in the middle where I could also throw the frittata into the oven.

apple pie german pancake bowls apples chopped

While I’d heard of Dutch babies (another name for German pancakes), I’d never made them and I’m not sure I’d even had them. But they are awesome! There’s no sugar in the actual batter (some recipes I’ve seen have a tiny bit), but you load them up with whatever awesome fillings you want. Because they have a lot of eggs in them and a lot less flour, they also stick with you longer.

apple pie german pancake bowls struesel topping2

These have a delightful homemade apple pie filling and then some streusel on top, and are entirely decadent (yet surprisingly not that bad for you). This has opened a whole world of German pancakes and Dutch babies to explore now that I can’t get them out of my mind. [Read more…]

Pasta with Creamy Butternut Leek Sauce

So, we basically got like two weeks of fall in Georgia before it got COOOOLLLLD! But those two weeks were really beautiful.

fall tree

This tree outside my window is absolutely glorious, like flame.

fall leaves stoplight

And these leaves form an awesome natural stoplight.

Butternut Squash Leek & Parmesan Pasta

The changing of the seasons has also meant that the grocery stores and my CSA box have been all-gourds-all-the-time. I got a couple beautiful butternut squashes and, since I finally learned how to peel and disassemble them last winter, I was actually excited to try out this recipe.

butternut squash leek & parmesan pasta sage

Also, sage. Because sage is always the answer.

Butternut Squash Leek & Parmesan Pasta done

This sauce is deceptively creamy and rich, but doesn’t have any cream or milk, or even cheese until the very end. The leeks form a super flavorful base, and the pureed butternut squash is like butter and cream and squash all in one. This was a super easy and healthy dinner.
[Read more…]

Parmesan Roasted Acorn Squash

I don’t know if this is weird, but I’d never had acorn squash before I made this. In fact, I’m not even sure what prompted me to pick one up at Trader Joe’s last week. But it was just sitting there all cute and bumpy and green and orange, and I just had to have it.

Parmesan Roasted Acorn Squash

My first thought was roasting it, and after perusing some recipes, I definitely knew that was the right choice. But rather than just roasting the halves, I found this delightful recipe that called for slicing it up (cuts down on baking time), tossing with some oil, salt, & pepper (as you do), and sprinkling with some fresh thyme and parmesan.

parmesan roasted acorn squash full squash [Read more…]

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

A month ago I was crowing about the glorious chocolate stout cake with chocolate ganache I made for my birthday. It was fudgy and rich but not too sweet, with a depth from the stout. Basically perfect. Then, a couple days later, my friends asked if I could bring a dessert to their dinner party. They’re both gluten-free, and I have a number of go-to recipes. But I couldn’t get that chocolate cake out of my mind.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Quinoa Cake with Chocolate Ganache

I knew I’d pinned a gluten-free quinoa cake months ago, but didn’t quite love the exact ingredient proportions. I found another, tweaked it a little, and used the same chocolate ganache as the other cake. I took the remaining three-fourths of my birthday cake and the quinoa cake to the party. I had to label them because they were identical, and honestly, I think people liked them equally. The only real difference you could tell was that the quinoa cake didn’t have the stout (on account of the gluten), but I plan to adapt it for a bourbon or similar at some point—just have to do my research on gluten and alcohol. And there was still some of the whole quinoa in it since my blender isn’t great, but if you use a food processor it will puree it and you’d never even know. [Read more…]

Food Travel Postcard: North Island, New Zealand

Wrapping up our trip with a few days in the Rotorua area of the North Island!

tui glen jetty

We’d planned to head down to Hamilton for one night so we could do a dawn hot air balloon ride, but the weather didn’t cooperate so we headed straight to our rental house on Lake Tarawera, about 20 minutes from Rotorua. It was dark when we arrived, but early the next morning Sarai and I took our coffee down the hill to our little jetty and watched the sunrise.

tui glen deck

Our deck had a great view! We were totally off the grid out there—no cell service or wifi—so we lit the fireplace, sat on the deck, drank wine and talked. It was so relaxing!

rotorua champagne pool

rotorua highlighter pool

The Rotorua area is famous for being a “thermal wonderland”. One day we visited Wai-o-Tapu, probably the most well-known of the thermal areas. The gorgeous Champagne Pool, with its “artist’s palette” came to life for us, and this highlighter-yellow lake was unbelievable! But everything smelled like rotten egg, which was really gross—I haven’t been up for eating eggs since then…

brioche ricotta

We found this awesome cafe called Capers in Rotorua. They had all sorts of great stuff, so we stopped there twice for brunch. The second time I had this amazing toasted brioche with ricotta and local honey. [Read more…]

Food Travel Postcard: Nelson/Tasman Region, New Zealand

We spent the last eight days in the Nelson/Tasman region of the South Island. We’d rented a lovely little house in Richmond and based ourselves there for various food and beverage explorations, as well as attending the Feast of Tabernacles. Nelson is one of the bigger cities in the area, about 46,000 people. It’s about an area from the Abel Tasman National Park, which has gorgeous coastal tracks and kayaking and seals and beaches. It and the Marlborough region are also acclaimed for their local wines and beers, so it was the perfect place for our foursome to stay!

jess beach reflection

The scenery in this part of the South Island was so different from where we were previously. Golden beaches, turquoise waters, green hills—it was like Hawaii up in here.

split apple rock

Split Apple Rock in Abel Tasman. Not an actual apple.

pinchgut trail

We hiked Pinchgut Trail in Nelson Lakes National Park, up Mt. Robert…it was crazy steep and we just about died. We rewarded our delirious, exhausted selves with a giant dinner and beer at The Vic.

abel tasman boat ride

We took a boat ride along the Abel Tasman coast and then had an awesome dinner of lamb and good wine at Ford’s in Nelson.

jess wine tasting

This area is particularly known for its wines, so I put on my comfy wine tasting skirt and got down to business… [Read more…]

Food Travel Postcard: Lake Tekapo/Mt. Cook/Aoraki, New Zealand

Greetings from the future!!!

No, really, it’s tomorrow here. I’m in gorgeous, sunny New Zealand, soaking up the unbelievable scenery, talking to awesome Kiwis (the people, not the bird), and hanging out with three cool friends. We’re here for the Feast of Tabernacles, but since we were coming so far (and spending so much money!) we wanted to cram as much awesome into our trip as possible. As always when I travel, I am also super excited about trying all kinds of local food and drink!

sawdon station house

We spent our first few days in the Mackenzie region, after flying into Christchurch and then driving a few hours down to Lake Tekapo. When we arrived at our first rental house, we were utterly charmed, and visions of coffee and wine in front of the fire danced in our heads.

lake tekapo

We immediately set out to explore, taking in the gorgeous turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo before heading into the village in search of sustenance.

oyster stout

We had decent pizzas and good local beer. Great, interesting beer is one of the things New Zealand seems to offer in abundance. This is a local oyster stout, and when I asked the waiter if it had oysters in it he said no, but then the internet told me otherwise. Oops… :S [Read more…]

Balsamic Pasta with Toasted Garlic & Pine Nuts

Sometimes it’s the simple answers that are the best.

Balsamic Pasta with Toasted Garlic & Pine Nuts

I can be guilty of getting too fancy with pasta sometimes, trying crazy combinations of ingredients or always trying to think of something new. Pasta is the blank canvas, the starting place for a thousand meals. And sometimes I think I’ve tried them all. But when I saw this recipe, I was struck by its simplicity and also how all the flavors complemented each other so well.

Balsamic Pasta with Toasted Garlic & Pine Nuts done

It starts, as many things do, with a base of sauteed shallots and garlic. From there all you do is add balsamic vinegar for depth and bite, toasted nuts for protein and crunch, and some parmesan cheese to top it all off. It all comes together in about 15 minutes, and is a warm and comforting dish any time of the day or night. [Read more…]

Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

I have to squeeze in one last burst of summer!

Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

I got these beautiful heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market and I wanted to do them justice. After thinking about different ways to use them, I decided that the best way to taste them would be a simple tomato and mozzarella salad.

heirloom tomato & mozzarella salad tomatoes

A burrata would have been the best cheese choice, but it’s basically impossible to find. So good ol’ buffala mozzarella did the job. I would have liked basil in there but couldn’t find any at the store so I chopped up some spinach instead—for color as well as a little healthiness. [Read more…]

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