61 DEGREES, people! I walked outside this morning wearing boots on my feet and a smile on my face. The fact that this weather is upon us now–instead of making us wait until mid-November–is refreshing; everyone I came in contact with today was in a great mood. So, with much excitement–and a slight chill in the air–I can finally talk about fall and pumpkins! This is my favorite time of year: pumpkin-spiced goodies abound, cool weather, comfort food, and always a cozy blanket nearby; I typically find myself cooking and baking more than ever. Unfortunately, experimenting in the kitchen is on the back-burner for now…our busy weeks have left me little time for writing or cooking. New, fun, fall recipes will be coming down the pike, but, for now, I must resort to my first ever throwback: pumpkin bread.
My Veg Table Posts
Want one last summer hurrah? Treat yourselves and your guests to a Low Country Boil. Shrimp, potatoes, corn and sausage cooked in a savory broth and served up on newspaper–made to eat with your hands. Click here for my latest creation for the St. Petersburg Foodies website.
My eight year-old son has quite the refined palate. So, when a city-wide search for crawfish pie in New Orleans left us empty-handed, I knew I had to start experimenting in the kitchen. This Corn and Crawfish Pie is the perfect combination of buttery crawfish tails, veggies and a New Orleans-style sauce hiding under a flaky pie crust.
For the full story and recipe, check out the St. Petersburg Foodies website here.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, strawberries were a big treat in the summer. Their season was short, but when it hit, I would gorge myself– a small bowl of sugar always sat alongside my berries for lots of double-dipping. When I was ten, we moved to Florida and I noticed something strange: strawberries peaked in the middle of winter here. Florida winter is hardly winter at all, and apparently, it is the perfect weather for growing strawberries. Now, at the peak of summer, berries from California are in season: two strawberry seasons each year? Yes, please…
As the seasons wind down—whether it be in March for the Florida crop or in July from the other coast—the prices begins to fall: a container of organic strawberries will only cost $3.00, instead of $7.00. I usually ride out those last few pints with the 3-S’s: smoothies, shakes, and shortcakes. This year I wanted my berries to last long past their departure at the market; the best way to prepare fresh produce for the long haul is jam.
I think tomatillos are one of the coolest items in the produce aisle. They look just like baby green tomatoes, but their papery husks tell a different tale–they are not even related to tomatoes at all, but members of the gooseberry family. Acidic like their red lookalike, but not nearly as juicy, tomatillos can wake up the flavor of a dish with their vibrant personality. Since today is Cinco de Mayo, I am going to use these guys for the perfect accompaniment for my tacos and tortilla chips: tomatillo salsa.
Last year my aunt gifted me a recipe card, penned by my late grandmother. The slightly stained index card was beginning to show its age: once white, now yellowing, its blue ink now bleeding through to the other side. The exceptional penmanship on this card was a rarity; my Grandma was known for having practically illegible handwriting–a consequence of the Catholic nuns trying to “fix” her left-handedness by forcing her to write with her right hand. While I was well-schooled in deciphering her hieroglyphics, it was always a surprise to see something legible come from her hand. The recipe is for Merk’s Coffee Cake.
It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day and for most that means corned beef, cabbage and beer. When I first went vegetarian, I was really missing that corned beef, so I had to think of something rich and hearty that would ease the craving. By the next year, this Leek Onion Beer Cheese Soup was what I served up instead.
Read all about it and get the recipe on the St. Petersburg Foodies website here.
On our recent trip to New Orleans, we discovered the locals’ weekly Monday tradition of Red Beans and Rice. My version is a nicely spiced, hearty bowl of beans, sausage and just enough rice on the side to round it all out.
My latest post for the St. Petersburg Foodies website has all the details on the history behind the tradition and how you can make this dish at home; to read more, click here.
Pesto was never on my radar. I was always a red sauce kind of girl…until I found a recipe for lemon spaghetti. With those two in my life, my pasta didn’t need any other options. I wasn’t completely ignorant: I had tried pesto a couple of times before, but only at restaurants; and honestly, while I like basil, I didn’t really enjoy an entire meal of it.
The one time I did venture out to buy pesto from the grocery store, I was not expecting what I found. Inside the container was an unemulisified mingling of dark green–nearly black–basil suspended in a layer of oil. That hallmark intense, kelly green color of homemade pesto was missing—it did not look appetizing. Despite its questionable appearance, I had to taste it; not surprisingly, the flavor was lackluster at best and the oiliness was overwhelming—I can’t believe I actually ate it. This solidified the case that pesto need not be in my repertoire.
Once I started my blog, daily food research brought me to videos all over social media about making fresh pesto. Not only did it look super simple to make, but the classic basil/pine nut duo no longer seemed to be the default combination: kale, spinach, parsley, and various nuts and seeds were taking center stage. All of those options opened a creative door for me; it was time to break out the Cuisinart.
Sitting down with a mug of this tomatillo and cilantro posole takes me back to a wintry Santa Fe. The flavors are bright and the stew is comforting no matter what time of year you choose to make it.
If you are new to tomatillos, never fear; all you need to know about them and this dish is on the St. Petersburg Foodie website here.