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With over 30 varieties, the world of winter squash is diverse, but many of us have probably only ever eaten butternut or acorn. Such is the modern food system…. And, while there is nothing wrong with mashed butternut or stuffed acorn squash you are missing out if you haven’t had a chance to try kabocha, delicata or spaghetti, which is a paleo’s dream since it substitutes well for pasta in many dishes.

A variety of squash at the farmers market

A variety of squash at the farmers market

If you are looking to step up your winter squash game a lovely place to start is this primer featured on Health Perch. It does a nice job describing how to store and cook several unusual squash varieties.

Health Perch Winter Squash Primer

But, what I like most about it, besides being cute, is that it encourages you to treat winter squash like a savory fruit (it has seeds, so yes, it is a fruit). Too often squash recipes default to sweet, which is fine, but squash can be so much more complex and delicious when prepared with some unusual and savory spices.

The first time I was introduced to savory winter squash was at the Spotted Pig, a now famous West Village restaurant. My boss at the time and I split the Pumpkin Salad with Pine Nuts, Pecorino and Balsamic Vinegar, and I was blown away. Sure, Chef April Bloomfield is known for her juicy burgers and delicate ricotta gnudi, but this salad was life-changing for me as a home-cook.  I had it every time I went back, but I could never figure out how to re-create it at home until one day, when the kitchen gods were smiling down on me, I flipped open a copy of Oprah magazine and discovered the recipe staring back at me. My first thought when I saw the coriander and cumin were “Ah ha! So that’s where that smoky/nutty flavor comes from!” Since then, I’ve not only made this salad a bunch of times, but I regularly use savory spices when I prepare winter squash.

Here’s my take on this salad. I don’t use pumpkin; can rarely find fresh marjoram leaves; and are more likely to have Parmesan than Pecorino cheese in my fridge. Enjoy!

Winter Squash Salad with Pine Nuts, Parmesan and Balsamic Vinegar
Winter Squash Salad

1 butternut squash or 2 delicata squash (about 2 pounds)
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 ts. kosher salt
1 ts. ground coriander
1/4 ts. ground cinnamon
1/4 ts. ground cumin
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 TB. fresh lemon juice
3 TB. pine nuts , lightly toasted
pinch ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 small bunches arugula , trimmed
1 wedge Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)
Aged balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350°. Peel, seed and cut butternut squash (don’t peel if using delicata) into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Using a mini food processor or a mortar and pestle, chop or crush garlic, kosher salt, coriander, cinnamon and cumin. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and mix to form a paste.

In a large bowl, toss squash in spice paste. On a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet, spread squash in a single layer. Top with another piece of parchment and cover pan tightly with foil; bake until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Uncover and bake until squash browns lightly, 20-25 minutes; cool slightly.
Spiced Winter Squash

Return squash to bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Add pine nuts, sea salt and ground red pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Arrange 1/3 of squash on a serving platter. In the bowl with the remaining squash, add arugula, the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice, and sea salt to taste; toss gently. Top plated squash with arugula mixture. Shave cheese with a vegetable peeler and arrange on top of salad. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to taste.

Beer Braised Chicken

If this recipe doesn’t sound perfect for a Sunday dinner in November than I don’t know what does. Adapted from a Food Network recipe, we tried this Sunday night and we weren’t disappointed. The potatoes took a lot longer to cook for me than the original recipe said they would, but I also think that extra braising time is needed gave the dish depth.

Beer Braised Chicken

1/4 pound slab or thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour, for dredging
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (I used Newcastle Ale, but Bass Ale would work too)
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
1/2 pound small red-skinned new potatoes, halved
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/2 ts. dried thyme

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Add the olive oil to the drippings in the pot. Add the chicken in batches and cook over medium-high heat until golden on the bottom, 6 to 7 minutes, then flip and sear the other side, about 1 minute.

Add the beer, onions, potatoes, mustard, sugar, thyme and 1 cup water to the pot and stir, making sure the chicken is fully submerged. Bring to a boil and then simmer, partially covered, until the chicken and potatoes are cooked through, about 30-40 minutes. Stir in the bacon and serve.

This recent post by Sarah Grey on Serious Eats about Friday night meatball dinners has been making its way around the Internet. And for good reason. For many of us having more time to relax with friends and family is a high priority, but one that usually gets pushed aside. For those of us lucky enough to live near good friends a night together feels like a luxury. Although I live within minutes of two of my best friends, we can go weeks without seeing each other. So, when I saw this post I immediately emailed it to them and suggested we give it a go. One of my wise friends suggested we aim for the first Friday of the month, rather than every Friday, and move the dinner around so that each of us host on a monthly basis.

And so, a couple of Fridays ago we began what I hope is a long-standing tradition. I hosted the first of our dinners and as Sarah Grey suggests, the dinner was open to outside guests. Along with friends, and a boyfriend we were joined by my friend’s parents who were visiting from out of town. Seven of us, plus Eliza on my husband’s lap, squeezed around our tiny dining room table in a our small Brooklyn apartment and had a blast. Showing our age and station in life, the night started by 6pm and we were cleaning up by 9pm. The time together was the perfect way to end the week and I can’t wait for next month!

Friday Dinners

For the kick-off I prepared a real Brooklyn meal – Sunday Gravy, or in this case, Friday Gravy.

Sunday Gravy – Serves 8

Sunday Gravy

olive oil
8 sweet or hot Italian sausage
8 meatballs
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
handful of basil
2 TB. tomato paste
1/4 cup water
2 – 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes + 1 -14.5 ounce can
2 boxes linguine

In a large pot with a heavy bottom, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Brown sausages on all sides – about 5-7 minutes. Remove from pot and put aside for later. Repeat with the meatballs.

In the same pot, saute garlic and basil for 1-2 minutes.  Add tomato paste and water and stir constantly for about 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes to the pot and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. Lower to a simmer and cover pot, leaving a portion of the pot uncovered, and cook for approximately 2 hours.

About an hour before you are going to eat add sausage and meatballs to the sauce and continue to simmer.

Cook linguine (or spaghetti – whatever you like) according to the directions on the box.

Remove sausage and meatballs and put them on a platter. Toss pasta with sauce and serve.






Eggs with Ricotta and Heirloom Tomatoes
Eggs w Ricotta and Heirloom Tomatoes

This breakfast/brunch dish is perfect for guests. It is so beautiful, and yet so easy and quick to prepare. You can use any cheese (cheddar, goat, feta, mozzarella), but I think ricotta is lovely because it is light and fluffy. Serve this with some toast and bacon or sausage and you have a feast!

8 eggs
1-2 TB. butter
2 heirloom tomatoes (depending on size), sliced
1/2 cup (?) ricotta cheese
a few basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat broiler.

Crack eggs into a large bowl. In a large skillet heat butter until it bubbles. Carefully pour eggs into the pan and let the eggs cook just until the whites start to solidify. Place tomato slices and spoon ricotta on top of eggs.

Place skillet under the broiler and cook until desired doneness – 5 minutes or less for slightly runny yolks, closer to 10 minutes for fully cooked eggs. Either way, keep an eye on the eggs so they don’t overcook.

Remove from broiler and sprinkle basil on top, season with salt and pepper.


Along with bacon, bourbon and mason jars, lobster rolls have taken over New York. Just 10 years ago I couldn’t find one within the city limits and could only enjoy one when I went to a fish shack somewhere along the New England coast. Not anymore… I don’t know what it is like outside the Northeast, but here we all love our lobster rolls. There are at least two food trucks in New York dedicated just lobster rolls and even Manhattan’s fancy restaurants have jumped on the trend with their own expensive versions.

New England Summer Vacation 2008 - Lobsterwoman pulling up the lobster traps

New England Summer Vacation 2008 – Lobsterwoman pulling up the lobster traps

Despite their ubiquitousness, I still love them. I hate to say it, but I am a lazy lobster lover. Eating a steamed lobster is fun once every 10 years or so, but I prefer to have the work done for me. For people like me, the lobster roll is perfect. Plus, the delicious lobster is tucked into a buttered and grilled roll, which is, in a word – awesome. Why put up with all of the cracking and that ridiculous bib when you could have lobster meat and bread in one perfect sandwich?

Look at the claws on that one!

Look at the claws on that one!

Finally, in contemplating the lobster roll you have to have deal with the argument of Maine vs. Connecticut or mayo-based vs. butter. Okay, this may surprise you, but I always go Maine style. It just feels right. I like my roll a little chilled and I love the creaminess of the mayo.

Best license plate ever

Best license plate ever

Despite my lobster roll love I have never made them before (see above about the cracking). But, when we were in Vermont on vacation  (I know, there’s no ocean, but it is only 2 hours from Boston) I had the time and I thought it would be fun to try it. Four sacrificed lobsters later and we were in heaven. The following recipe is from Bon Appetit and it is wonderful.

Lobster Rolls
Lobster Rolls_Web

3 1 1/4-pound live lobsters
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 TB. fresh lemon juice
1 TB. chopped fresh chives
2-3 TB. mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper
6 New England-style split-top hot dog buns
2 TB. unsalted butter, room temperature

Pour water into a large pot to a depth of 1″; bring to a boil and salt generously. Add lobsters, cover, and cook until bright red, 8-10 minutes. Transfer lobsters to a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Crack lobster shells, pick meat from tail and claws, and cut into 1/2″ pieces. Mix lobster, celery, lemon juice, chives, and 2 tablespoons mayonnaise in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper and add more mayonnaise, if desired.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread flat sides of buns with butter. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side; fill with lobster mixture.

NOTE: Lobster meat can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Toss with remaining ingredients just before serving.

While driving down Route 30 just outside of Townsend, VT a few weeks ago we passed a homemade sign reading “Pick Your Own Strawberries and Raspberries”. If I had been driving all of the day’s plans would have been thrown out the window immediately, but Patrick kept us on track and berry picking had to wait. Fortunately, we didn’t wait too long and a couple of days later we were standing in a huge, open field surrounded by strawberries plants and raspberries bushes. Grabbing a few pint and quart baskets my Mom, Eliza, Patrick and I headed into the fields. What seemed like a full morning’s adventure was over pretty quickly. There were so many berries they practically jumped into our baskets!

Black Raspberries_Web

In less than 20 minutes we had picked tons of berries and had no specific plan of what to do with them besides eat them.

Our Harvest_Web

Fortunately, Eliza, always a picky eater, took this opportunity to decide she loved berries.

Eliza and the Berries_Web

Once we got home I started to search for the perfect recipe for these beautiful berries. I wasn’t up for hours of baking, so I needed something relatively simple and I knew exactly where to go – Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman bakes the most gorgeous desserts and while some of her recipes can get complicated her fruit desserts seem to always air on the side of simplicity; letting the fruit do most of the work. Having always wanted to try a galette – basically an informal pie – I was thrilled to see that she had just recently posted a berry galette recipe for the Fourth of July. A few steps later and we were enjoying the fruits of our labor (see what I did there?).

Mixed Berry Galette
Mixed Berry Galette_Web

(Recipe heavily inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 ts. salt
1 1/2 ts. sugar
Zest of half a lemon
8 TB. (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup yogurt (or ricotta or sour cream)
3 to 4 TB. cold water

2 cups mixed berries (I used raspberries, black raspberries and strawberries)
3 TB. sugar
2 TB. cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 ts. water
1 heaped ts. sugar for sprinkling (coarse, if you have it)

Whisk the flour, salt, sugar and zest together in the bottom of a large bowl. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Stir yogurt and 3 tablespoons water together in a small dish and pour into butter-flour mixture. Stir together with a flexible spatula, then use your hands to knead the mixture into a rough ball. Wrap in plastic and flatten into a disc. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 48 hours.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured counter, roll the dough out into a large round-ish shape, about 14 to 15 inches across.

Transfer round-shaped dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet; folding your dough gently into quarters and then unfolding it onto the baking pan works pretty well.

Stir together all of the filling ingredients and spread them in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit.

Whisk egg yolk and water together and brush over exposed crust. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake galette for 30 minutes, or golden all over. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature, preferably with vanilla ice cream.



Growing up I used to love Shirley Temples, and my favorite part of the drink was the maraschino cherry. When I was a little kid my grandpa always had a jar of the super sweet, bright red cherries in his fridge, which I thought was so that he could make me an ice cream sundae at the drop of a hat, but was probably so that he could make someone a cocktail….

As I got older I still loved the idea of a maraschino cherry, but not so much the execution. And as my fondness for bourbon grew, and I started ordering and then making my own Manhattan cocktails, I just couldn’t bare to put a sickly sweet cherry into my perfectly executed drink. I love low end as much as the best of us, but not in the same glass as a high end bourbon.

Although I have seen good maraschino cherries in our local cheese shop, I could never justify their ridiculous price-tag. Then one day I stumbled upon sour cherries at the farmers market, which have an incredibly short season, and I was inspired to make my own. I had no idea how easy they are to make. I found recipes all over the internet – none of which took more than 5-10 minutes to make. However, I did have to commit to buying a rather large bottle of maraschino liqueur, which I have no other use for, but the liqueur won’t go bad and now I can make a new jar of cherries every season.

Maraschino Liqueur

This bottle will last me awhile…

Maraschino Cherries
Homemade Maracino Cherries_web

1 cup Maraschino liqueur
1 pint sour cherries, pitted (a Starbucks straw works nicely – just carefully push it through the cherry and the pit will stick in the straw)

Bring the liqueur to a simmer, and then turn off the heat. Add the cherries, stir, let cool, and then pour into jars. Refrigerate. 

Jar of Cherries_web


My favorite way to drink bourbon, aside from neat. This recipe is from the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans so it must be perfect.

1 1/2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Pouring the Manhattan_Web

Garnish with a cherry.

Picking the Cherries

Garlic Scape Pesto 

In the late spring/early summer, farmers and gardeners trim the tops of their garlic plants to help produce plump garlic bulbs, With just a month or so left of growing to go, it is vital that the bulb retains the bulk of the plant’s energy. Fortunately for us, these trimmings, known as garlic scapes, are delicious!


For a snack, I usually cut them into 1 1/2 inch pieces, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them for about 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees. But, when my mother-in-law gave me a bunch from her garden this week I decided to try garlic scape pesto for the first time and found a great recipe on The pesto is pretty simple to make, and very delicious, although it is quite pungent so a little goes a long way. We just had it on a toasted baguette, but I bet it would be awesome tossed with pasta or with scrambled eggs.

garlic scape pesto_web

I like kale, I wouldn’t say it is my favorite vegetable, but I like it. Probably my favorite way to eat it is this salad, but it is always a nice, healthy addition to soups or stews. I did, however, avoid the kale chip bandwagon for a long time. Those expensive, little packages of kale chips at the grocery store never peaked my interest. But, since I am the mother of a crunchy, carb-loving toddler, who rarely lets a vegetable pass through her lips, I thought I’d try to them. This hysterical Tonight Show sketch with Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell and our First Kale-Lover in Chief, Michelle Obama may have also influenced me.

YouTube Preview Image

You probably have all of the ingredients already and will just need to grab a bunch of kale – the curly kind works best. I used too much salt the first time I made them, so go easy, you can always add more when they come out of the oven.  Aside from being a bit too salty, the chips were a hit in our household, and I can say that I finally got Eliza to eat something green!

E taking a bite_web


Baked Kale Chips
Baked Kale_Web

1 bunch curly kale
olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. Wash and dry kale, and remove the ribs from each leaf. Cut remaining kale leaves into medium-sized pieces – the size of a traditional potato chip. Toss with olive oil and salt and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Enjoy!

Last Saturday night, I signed up for #100happydays, which I first heard about it through the lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess. It is a daily photo account of the things that make you happy. I already keep a daily gratitude journal, but I thought that using photography would mix it up, and perhaps inspire me a bit more. Anyway, if you are interested in following my 100 day journey, I’ll be posting daily to Instagram.

Here’s a sampling so far: