Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes

I cannot believe it is Thanksgiving in 2 days. Can you? How did it become the end of November already? Wasn’t it summer yesterday? I think I blinked and now it’s cold out.

At least we get to snuggle up by the fire, wear cumfy boots, and eat a Thanksgiving feasts with people we love!

I have always been in charge of the mashed potatoes in my family. Probably because when I lived at home my dad was in the zone around the stove top and the oven. And while mashed potatoes may be the easiest, they are the most time consuming for sure- and they don’t require much time hanging out by a heat source.

So, I’d sit at the end of the counter and peeling potatoes, breathing in good smells in anticipation of the good meal to come.

And the food coma that would inevitably follow.

My friends and I did a Friendsgiving on Sunday- and it was just the best thing ever. We laughed and played games and laughed some more and ate as much as we could fit and then we ate dessert and laughed more and sat by the fire and fell drowsily into a tryptophan inspired daze. Good times, good times.

Since I didn’t know any other way, I deemed myself in charge of what else but mashed potatoes. Also, because I saw THIS recipe from How Sweet It Is. Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes? Count me IN!

Here’s how the mashed potato making goes:

So, first you should peel and cube your russet potatoes. As soon as they’re peeled and cubed, throw them into a pot of water that should be so conveniently placed next to you.

Once they’re all in there, bring the potatoes and water to a boil, and let them boil for about 15 minutes, or until fork tender (a fork breaks them apart easily).
Strain out the water!
And return the potatoes to the pan, lidless, and let some more moisture escape.Meanwhile, brown your butter. In a saucepan- until brown bits begin to appear.When they do, kill the heat. Pour into your potatoes, along with some milk, salt, and pepper. Stir, mash,or whip em up. I mashed.Garnish with fresh sage.The brown butter provides a richer, nuttier flavor with a distinct depth. It’s worth that little bit of extra work no doubt. A step up from the classic mashed potatoes, a grown up version if you will. With all the simplicity, but now with flare. Try em’, you’ll be happy you did.

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French Toast is for Weekends

Some foods scream WEEKENDS.

And before you start telling me I’m crazy because not only am I talking to my food, but now my food is screaming back to me… Let me explain.

Pancakes, Waffles, French toast… These are brunch foods. Weekend foods. Not many of us are so lucky to eat these things all week long. So, at least to me, these foods say relax, and slow down. They are to be enjoyed in good company, with good coffee. And good maple syrup, but that’s another story.

Saturday morning Heather demanded french toast. No really, she literally demanded- told me she wouldn’t eat unless it was french toast. So, I had no choice but to make french toast. We walked down to the grocery store, grabbed some ingredients, and got to cooking.
Everyone has their own recipe- mine is nothing special at all. A “custard” of eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I like a hawaiian bread or a challah. And I fry in a bit of olive oil and some butter. Topped with maple syrup and more butter, and some banana slices, for good measure 🙂Saturday breakfast is served!
A good time to plan the day, enjoy our meal, and catch up with good friends… hi Matt!
Thank god coffe isn’t just for weekends… Let’s be honest. Coffee is a necessity for daily living, if you ask me. But you know what is for weekends? Coffee in a mug. Because all week I drink coffee in my thermous, but there is sometimes nothing as satisfying as holding a hot mug of coffee, while intermittently taking bites of your french toast.

Ahh weekend meals. You are always so appreciated!

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Dear Cabbage,

Dear Cabbage,

How to put this…

…I used to think you were…weird. When I thought of you, I thought of cabbage soups and other weird, bland things. It’s a good thing that you have spent time redeeming yourself to me this year, in many ways. Because when you came to me in the CSA box last week, I actually got excited. Who woulda ever thought?

I got excited because #1, you have a pretty long shelf life, compared to other leafy vegetables. I had places to go, people to see all week. But through it all, you waited for me, maintaining your crunchiness, flavor, etc. Thanks! I finally got around to cooking you up tonight, and you did not disappoint.

And #2- you are truly delicious! Crisp and hearty. You soak up sauces so well, and you get along so well with other vegetables! You’re so easy, and beautiful!… and…well, I’m so sorry  I ever doubted you.

Anyway, cabbage, thanks for being so….you. You rock.




Uhh, what just happened- did I just…talk…to my food?

I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later…I’m sorry you had to witness that…

err…here’s a recipe…

Stir Fried Napa Cabbage


-1 Tbs olive oil

-1 head napa cabbage, chopped (see above picture)

-1 yellow onion

-1 clove garlic minced

-1/4 piece fresh ginger root, minced

-1 carrot, peeled into ribbons

-pinch of black pepper

-1 Tbs soy sauce

-1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

-Bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped

-1 tsp sesame oil

Directions: Heat olive oil in pan- when hot, add onion, garlic, ginger. Saute until they begin to tenderize- add chopped cabbage and carrot. Add soy sauce, pepper, and vinegar. Saute until it begins to shrink down, but don’t let it go TOO long. You want some crunch to remain. Add cilantro at end, toss around. After plating, drizzle on some sesame oil to finish. (If you have sesame seeds, I’d add those too! I didn’t 😦 )

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Three Sisters Falls

Hello! Happy Thursday. Almost the weekend. Who’s pumped? I am! I have a friend coming to visit, and I cannot wait!!!!!

I thought that this may be a nice time to show you some beautiful images of last weekend’s hike. Since most of us are trapped inside right now, at work, starting at screens, it only seems appropriate. Am I right or am I right?

Not nice, I know. But hey, I’m inside too, at my desk, daydreaming about last Sunday… so, won’t you join me?

So a few friends and I set out on a nice Sunday hike to Three Sisters Falls. It was my first time doing this hike- and I have only heard great things about it.

Wait, I take that back. I have heard that many people have died here recently. So, that is scary. But, anyway, we did it anyway. We just were very careful.

See above that inkling of shimmering water right in the middle? That was our goal. The falls.

It was a perfect day, blue skys, fluffy clouds…  the day after a rainy day always makes for especially vibrant colors.

The smell of white sage provided a nice undertone to the notably fresh air. (It is always notable, isn’t it? You don’t realize how un-fresh the air is that we breath regularly until you get away from it all…)
So, this hike was not just any ordinary hike I’ve been on before. There was not a defined path the entire way. It was more of a scoping-out trial-and-error type of hike, discovering the most promising trail to take us to the falls. Also, we didn’t just walk. No, we were on all fours for about half of the journey. Climbing and crawling and jumping and traversing. Awesomeness.The first third or so of the hike was pretty downhill into the waterfall. Steep. I almost fell like 52 times, but I didn’t. There is still traction left on my hiking boots after all.

Once we got down, the scenery went from pretty to… breathtaking!
The whole time we climbed and squeezed through small areas, we had to be careful to avoid the poison oak. Of course, poison oak has to be so beautiful, asking “touch me touch me”. Sneaky little things. Luckily, we are all in the clear… I have been told it is not pleasant to experience.🙂 Love this one of Heather and Jenna on the “couch” they found.I do not know this guy below, but his expression says it all. “Thank you, thank you for this beautiful day. This is wonderful! I cannot believe this! I am lucky to be alive!” Mm hmm, that is exactly what he was thinking, I’m sure.Some guy in a wet suit was sliding down the falls into the “punch bowl”- looked like fun. All I could do was watch the falls flow, and try to figure out how to get that blurry photo effect. Fail. We sat down for a nice lunch courtesy of People’s and played with all the dogs around us. Actually, we were hiding our sandwiches from them, and feeding them dried jerky and mango. One of the dogs actually slipped into the falls and he was too scared to come back up! Poor pup.The way back up was incredibly steep, and this is where acting like a bear and crawling on all fours came in handy. It’s fun to be a bear! When we were approaching Jerry, my Jeep, at the trail head, a storm was brewing in the mountains. We got out just in time, but I was able to get some nice shots…We finished the day at Alpine Brewing Co.- where we sampled a lot of seriously delicious beers and shared a basket of beer battered cheese fries. I highly recommend this to anyone in San Diego coming back from a hike- it is right off the 8 in Alpine- the atmosphere was great, along with the brews- and it was a perfect end to this Sunday!

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Vegetarian Curry with Peas and Potatoes

You know who I feel bad for? I feel bad for anybody who turns their nose up at the word “curry”. Too many people don’t give it a chance, and it’s just not fair. Curry is delicious, and it deserves at LEAST one more try. And you know what? I dare you to try it with coconut milk and not enjoy it. Go on, I dare you.Further more, make it with potatoes. And chickpeas. And peppers, onions, garlic, and green peas. Oh, and tons of ginger. Ginger is key.Top it with cilantro, serve it over white Jasmine rice, and squeeze lime onto it. And eat it with a side of naan, for good measure.Try a spoonful and tell me that this creamy, sweet yet spicy, bursting with flavor mouthful doesn’t make your tastebuds dance. Curry. Brussel sprouts. Beets. They all have a bad rap. Yet, they are some of the most delicious foods out there. I say we all breakthrough food stereotypes and protest!

Vegetarian Curry with Peas and Potatoes


-3 small red potatoes, diced

-1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin

-1 red pepper, diced

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1/4 inch ginger root, diced or grated

-1/2 cup chickpeas

-1/2 cup frozen green peas

-1 can light coconut milk

-1/2 can (from above) of water

-1 Tbs curry powder

-dash (~1/4 tsp) cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, chili powder

-1 Tbs tomato paste

-1 Tbs almond or peanut butter (or cashew would be very nice!)

-handful of cilantro, chopped, +a sprig or so for garnish

-lime to squeeze

-1 Tbs olive oil

-salt to taste

-1 cup cooked jasmine rice

-Naan (I bought Trader Joes)

Method: Heat olive oil in large saute pan. Once hot, add onion and start to brown. Once it starts to gain color, add garlic, ginger, potatoes, and pepper. Let cool for about 5 minutes, or until everything starts to smell nice and caramelize a bit on the bottom of the pan. Add your spices, coating your vegetables, meanwhile toasting the spices a bit. Add your tomato paste and nut butter. Stir to coat/combine. Add the chickpeas and peas. Add the can of coconut milk, scraping up all the caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan. Use a wooden spoon for this. Add 1/2 can of water. Bring this to a boil, then let it simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. By then, everything else should be perfect. Add some cilantro, reserving some for garnish. Serve over Jasmine rice, with a lime to squeeze. And a side of naan, of course.

As always, enjoy!

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Sunset Cliffs

I don’t know how I’ve never posted about the cliffs before.

I think every time I go there I forget my camera. It’s usually a spur of the moment decision while running errands in town or finishing a yoga class.

Sunset Cliffs is this beautiful area near my house- just a couple miles away, if that. It is my roommate’s favorite place to surf, and I can see why.

The first time I went to the cliffs was on a bike ride with some guys I met at a bike shop- where once we got to the cliffs, after riding 15 some miles, we carried our bikes down to watch the sunset. I was fatigued (I’m so used to flat Chicago biking. I learned quickly why gears exist, and how to use them) so I really appreciated sitting down and watching the sunset with a cold beer in my hand. I love how the cliffs  light up all orange as the sun sinks lower and lower to the horizon, all the layers highlighted a different shade. Beautiful, the way they’ve eroded. The cliffs quickly became my new favorite sunset spot- and I guess I’m not alone, judging by their name.

The second time I visited was to watch the fireworks on the fourth of July. Heather, Brian and I walked along what should only be called the “scenic route”- because I really do not think it was made for walking, just looking. It was pitch dark, and actually to this day I’m not exactly sure where we were. All I know is we were hopping from rock to rock, rubbing up against the cliffs’ walls- me in my Sperrys- not ideal hiking shoes- and just wondering where we were headed. With Heather, it’s always an adventure. I ended up slipping and scraping my my leg- the red blood streamed down my shin, completing the “red” portion of my already blue and white outfit. It was well worth the subtle sting when the show started, the fireworks’ colors reflecting into the ocean, the waves crashing at our sides…

Since I moved to Ocean Beach, I come to the cliffs often, to reflect, to watch sunsets, to walk along. It has easily become one of my favorite places here in San Diego.

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Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Another CSA box gem. Acorn squash. This was actually from last week’s CSA from Suzie’s. Gotta love the longevity of a squash.

I finally got around to scooping their guts and stuffing them with a delicious quina vegetable mixture.Some pointers to cooking and stuffing squash:

– cut off the bottom- just slightly- to give the squash a flat surface to sit on.

-slice off the top, and keep it. Cook that too. It’s a nice, mostly edible “hat” for serving and keeping the stuffing warm! [see above]

-Scoop out the guts with a spoon, donate the guts to your compost pile.

-Rub the inside of the squash with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

-Roast the squash solo for about 30 minutes at 375, while you make your stuffing.

-After you stuff it, bake it all together for another 15 minutes or so. You want your squash to be VERY tender, and for the stuffing flavors to permeate the side walls of the squash itself. My stuffing involved a mixture of: Quinoa (cooked), tomatoes, pepitas, onion, garlic, kale, and some rosemary. The rosemary just perfumes this all so nicely!

How cute are these guys, really?

I sliced into mine, ate the skins and all. But you could scoop it out as you would soup from a bread bowl. I know the skins of squash are said to upset some stomachs. So, you have options.

Anyway- squash are abundant at this time of year. Your stuffing can be a means to using up veggies and grains and beans and nuts that you have on hand. So, go make this. Let me know what flavors and ingredients you combine. Get all creative with it!

I feel like a mushroom risotto stuffed squash would be delicious! With a little nutmeg? Yes. Yes yes yes!

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