Hearty Minestrone

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Remember when Easter meant that the weather was starting to get warm? Maybe I am having selective memory, but I recall many Easter Sundays spent outside having Easter egg hunts and enjoying the nice spring weather.  Every year I had a special outfit for Easter, usually some kind of floral dress, likely with a huge collar.  And I don’t recall tights being a part of the outfit.  Not so much this year.  The calendar says spring and Easter, but the weather says otherwise, at least here in NYC!

But the one silver lining to the cold weather is the fact that I am still craving soup pretty much all the time. I professed my love for soup here and I’m back today with what I think is my favorite soup recipe that I have made all winter!  That’s because bacon and parmesan cheese are involved. The soup is full of healthy veggies, white beans, and a surprising ingredient (v8!) but the real depth of flavor comes from the bacon and the cheese rind. Continue reading

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Let’s talk about chocolate chip cookies – life’s perfect cookie.  I think everyone likes chocolate chip cookies and it seems that everyone has their own favorite recipe.  I don’t discriminate, I like all different types of chocolate chip cookies – crispy, chewy, soft, I’ll eat them all.

But if you made me choose my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe,  it has to be Jacques Torres’.  The large size means that the edges are slightly crispy, while the inside is soft and gooey.  The caramel flavor of the brown sugar really shines through.  The sprinkling of sea salt at the end is the perfect compliment to the rich, dark chocolate.    I’m still open to other recipe suggestions, but I have tried quite a few different recipes and I keep coming back to this one.   Continue reading

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

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Do you know what happens when you order a kale salad at Sunday brunch? You get to eat pancakes for dinner.  That’s a real rule, right?

On Sunday morning I went to brunch with my friend JC and I had my typical debate of whether to go sweet or savory.  It is really a struggle for me because I love pancakes.  I mean I REALLY love pancakes.  But savory usually wins out for two reasons: first, because I feel like it is usually a more balanced meal and second, because I like to bake my own sweet things (see here, here, here, you get the point).  So I ended up ordering a kale salad (at Acme NYC).  I love kale and I felt a little healthier starting my day with a superfood rather than with pancakes.

But then for the rest of the day I was thinking about  pancakes.  Dreaming about pancakes.  I even thought about pancakes during my workout class, so I decided to do something about it.  Breakfast for dinner, who doesn’t love that?! Plus I had some buttermilk to use up, so this was a perfect excuse! Waste not want not, right? Continue reading

Andes Mint Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Confession: I have absolutely no self-control when it comes to cookies.  I probably eat at least 5 from every batch I make.  It is a problem.  Another confession: I don’t really like chocolate and mint together.  I mean, I’ll eat it, because it has chocolate in it, but it is not my first choice.  However I know others love it, so I decided to make some chocolate mint chip cookies this past weekend for a friend’s St. Patrick’s Day party.  Any recipe that will go over well with my friends but won’t force me to end up looking like this is a win-win if you ask me!  Continue reading

Avec (Chicago)

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I have been dying to eat at Avec ever since I saw it on Food Network’s show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”.  (I love that show, I wish they would come out with a new season!  Anytime we go to a new city, I scour the list for recommendations.  We have tried some great spots thanks to it. But I digress.)  Then when I saw that it is one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorites, I knew that I HAD to try it.  The other weekend while visiting some girlfriends in Chicago I finally had the opportunity to dine at Avec, and it did not disappoint! Continue reading

Italian Vegetable Stew (Ciambotta)

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They say man cannot live on bread alone.  I am not convinced.  I think I could live on bread alone.  There are so many types!  You can put fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, etc into bread – totally a balanced meal.  But if I make something other than bread (or anything else baked), then it’s usually soup.  I love making soup!  And is it a coincidence that it goes so well with bread?  Perhaps… Continue reading

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

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Is there anything better than the smell of fresh bread baking in your kitchen?  Yes, fresh bread with cinnamon!  I can’t stress enough how amazing our kitchen smelled on this cold, snowy weekend with this cinnamon raisin bread baking in the oven.  I really need to bake more with cinnamon.  It is such a warm, sweet smell – I absolutely love it!

This cinnamon raisin bread brings back memories of my childhood and the loaf of Sunmaid raisin bread that was a breakfast favorite in my household.  It is a nice soft loaf studded with plump raisins and a hint of sweet cinnamon in every bite.  A piece of this bread toasted with butter and cinnamon sugar is really helping me get through this Monday morning!  Continue reading

Irish Brown Bread (with Guinness!)

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The Better Half and I are Irish through and through. We both have Irish mothers (his Duffy, mine Murphy) and we both went to Notre Dame.  So we get a little excited when St. Patrick’s day rolls around!

I wanted to bake something festive, but I draw the line at putting green food coloring in my beautiful bread. It just seems too artificial. So I thought this recipe for Irish Brown Bread from my No-Knead cookbook would be the perfect festive recipe to try out. It is a play on Irish Soda bread, but it uses yeast for the rising, rather than using baking soda. And, it has Guinness in it.  Can’t get much more Irish than that!   Continue reading

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookie Bars

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When I stumbled upon this recipe on King Arthur’s website I knew I had to make it.  (As a side note, I love using King Arthur flour in my baking, and their site has some great recipes!)  The salty-sweet combo of the pretzels and chocolate are enough to win me over, but then add in peanut butter?  I’m in heaven.  And to top it all off, it is so easy!  Plus you can make it on a whim because you don’t need to have room temperature ingredients.  I knew this would be the perfect recipe to make for my friend’s St. Patrick’s day party.

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Barcelona, Spain

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Last month CateyLou and I traveled to Barcelona, Spain.  It was our first trip to Spain and we had an amazing time; great food (including Cal Pep and Tickets) and great wine (La Vinya Del Senyor) in a beautiful city on the Mediterranean.  What could be better? After the jump is a recap of our trip, complete with pictures and travel tips for visiting Barcelona.

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