Muddled Raspberry Vodka Gimlet

Muddled Raspberry Vodka Gimlet

My go-to cocktail is a vodka gimlet. It’s simple, classic, and yes, I most definitely nabbed it from Mad Men‘s Betty Draper. Now, this may offend purists, but last night I decided to shake things up and add a little more flavor to my poison. I had raspberries on hand, and the result—I call it a Muddled Raspberry Vodka Gimlet—was pretty sensational, and perfect for these breezy early summer evenings we’ve been having. Continue reading

Kale Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado, and Pine Nuts

kale saladI pretty much always make the same salad to go with whatever meal I happen to be cooking for dinner: spring mix, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and red bell pepper. It’s good, but it’s starting to get rather boring. Last night I decided to have a go at the oft-derided leafy green that’s become the butt of many a hipster joke as of late: kale. Continue reading

Mother’s Day Brunch: Spinach and Gruyère Quiche

spinach gruyere quiche

In my neck of the woods, restaurants tend to get absurdly busy over Mother’s Day weekend. There’s nothing very special about waiting for the better part of an hour only to be seated in a crowded dining room teeming with dozens of noisy strangers and more than a few unruly members of the under-12 set. Come Mother’s Day, I prefer to cook for my mom at my house, where we can chat and sip coffee and linger as long as we’d like in the quiet of my living room.

This weekend I decided to have my mom over for a celebratory brunch. On the menu were spinach and Gruyère quiche, breakfast potatoes, mixed berries, and Poinsettias. The quiche is rich, delicious, and easy to make. It’s one of my go-to breakfast/brunch recipes whenever I have company. Continue reading

Recent Reads: Other Voices, Other Rooms

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The first book of Truman Capote’s that I read was not, as you may suspect, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but rather In Cold Blood, a groundbreaking work of literary nonfiction and arguably Capote’s finest effort. I loved it so much that, in a failed bid to secure admission to a Ph.D. program at one of the Holy Trinity Ivies, I once even wrote a lengthy scholarly paper on the book.

I’ve since read Breakfast at Tiffany’s (like any girl worth her salt, the movie is one of my favorites, but the book is very different—not necessarily better than the movie, but more like a different story altogether) and the several short stories contained therein (“A Christmas Memory” is possibly the best short story I’ve ever read). Next up was Other Voices, Other Rooms, which had been sitting on my nightstand for several months after I received it as a gift, and I finally got around to reading it last month. Continue reading

Cranberry Margaritas

cranberry margaritasNormally I’m a classic margarita kind of gal. On the rocks, salt on the rim. But every now and then I get in the mood for a splash of something different.

I must confess, I only recently started making my margaritas with fresh lime juice instead of that sickly, syrupy, pre-made mix stuff, but now that I’ve mastered the art of making them from scratch, I’ll never go back. A basic margarita is pretty simple: tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. Continue reading

Cinco de Mayo for Dos: Tortilla Soup and Spicy Guacamole

tortilla soupI’m well past the age when Cinco de Mayo means donning some culturally stereotypical hat and drinking myself into oblivion, so this year I used the holiday we’ve purloined from our friends to the south as an excuse to prepare a caliente feast for my husband and myself.

Since I don’t eat meat, I often enjoy the challenge of taking a recipe and creating two versions: one with meat for my husband and one sans meat for myself. Dishes like coq au vin are pretty much impossible, but soups and stews are a snap. Continue reading

Derby Day Cocktail: Black-Eyed Susan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShopping for a colossal hat and jetting off to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby has long been on my bucket list. I don’t follow horse racing in any capacity, but I do watch the Derby on TV every year, if for no other reason than to soak up the culture and ambiance à la distance.

But there’s no reason why those of us not fortunate enough to attend the race in person can’t celebrate on our own. This year I decided to get in the spirit by stirring up a couple of cocktails. Continue reading

Vegetable Lasagna

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Lasagna is one of my go-to meals to cook when I have family over. It’s simple, it makes a lot of food, and it’s good. Since I don’t cook with red meat very often, I only make vegetable lasagna, and I’ve refined and perfected my recipe over the past few years. I have to say, I’m pretty proud of it.

My dad came over for dinner recently and I thought it was a good excuse to prepare a lasagna feast, since I hadn’t made it in a while. The great thing is that you can use whatever vegetables are your favorite—just aim for about 2.5 pounds total. Sometimes I also add black olives, and I think capers could be a nice addition as well. I prefer my lasagna on the noodley side so my recipe calls for three layers, but two should work fine. I prefer to use real mozzarella, not the comes-in-a-bag, oddly powdery stuff. Also, my seasoning measurements are estimates because I normally just eyeball it. Basically, the recipe I’m sharing is a great place to start and then find ways to make it your own! Continue reading

Pollo alla Valdostana

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My husband and I recently took a quick weekend trip to Napa, and on our second night, we found ourselves in Santa Rosa, a busy town that lies within wine country but lacks the charm you’d find in, say, St. Helena. Unsure what to do with ourselves for the evening, we decided to try a hole-in-the-wall restaurant (LoCoco’s) that the concierge at our hotel recommended and ended up enjoying some of the best Italian food we’d ever had. Continue reading