Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

The end of an era has arrived: this month marks the last Secret Recipe Club exchange, ever.

I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this. I have been part of this group since I was pregnant with Jake (who just turned 4!) so the SRC has influenced a lot of my cooking and baking throughout the years. Forty-two recipes on this blog happened because of the SRC. When I joined, it was with the idealistic hope that I would make friends with like-minded bloggers and find some delicious, well-curated recipes to add to my repertoire. What I found was that my preferences and standards were quite different from most of the rest of the group. I’m sure I haven’t been alone in struggling to find that single recipe from an assigned blog that fits into my own tastes and cooking style.

The challenge of the SRC exchange was often truly a challenge, and honestly, not always something I felt excited or joyful about. But I have grown as a cook and baker because of it! Because of the SRC, I have learned to look for something good in unexpected places. I have cooked some dishes I might not otherwise have tried. I have grown in testing new recipes and tweaking them to work better, or to work better for me. I have also grown as a blogger in taking my posts more seriously and making sure I am proud of what I write about.

This month, the last month of the Secret Recipe Club, I am working from the blog I’m Hungry, written by Traci. Her great strength is semi-homemade foods: if you are looking for ways to get food on the table quickly and easily, she is your gal. I was originally looking for a good Thanksgiving side dish, since it is November, but I ended up settling on soft pretzels, something I’ve been planning to bake for almost as many years as I’ve been part of SRC.

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A Little Bit of Everything Smoked Salmon Toasts

A Little Bit of Everything Smoked Salmon Toasts

This week, Sarah and I were feeling super laid back. We started our lunch planning at noon on the day of. (Just for context, we typically start cooking around 11.)

Our conversation went something like this:

Sarah: I just woke up. (cut to me, crumbling inside with jealousy)
Me: I have a headache. Let’s make something easy.
Sarah: …pbj?
Me: Same page.

Yet somehow, an hour later, we found ourselves poaching eggs and rubbing sourdough slices with garlic.

Food bloggers be crazy.

This was the most delicious impromptu meal I can think of. We cobbled together ingredients (mostly) from our combined fridges and gardens, and I humbly submit that these open face sandwiches are magic.

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Mustard Greens on Toast

Mustard Greens on Toast

It may surprise you to learn that I don’t actually eat a lot of vegetables. I can go entire days without a vegetable, if you don’t count the tomato sauce in pizza.

The problem obviously isn’t that I don’t like vegetables…I love them! The real problem is that I am busy and tired, and preparing vegetables (plus, let’s get real: doing the subsequent dishes) takes more time than boiling an egg.

“But,” you protest, “you’re a vegetarian. How can it be that you don’t eat a lot of vegetables!?”

And that, my friends, is a beautiful question. As I have been trying to plot ways to actually model good health for my kiddos, I have made a resolution: I will make it a priority to eat greens at every meal. Seriously, even breakfast. I have been drinking green smoothies and tossing kale into scrambled eggs. I even made oatmeal with spinach in it. More on that later.

Greens are so good for you. Greens, and vegetables more broadly, are the one thing we never have to eat in moderation.

Jump on the greens train!

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Farmer’s Market Panzanella

Farmer's Market Panzanella

Are you overwhelmed with tomatoes yet? Overflowing with bell peppers?

I really prefer to eat the bounty of summer produce I have been bringing in from my tiny garden and the farmer’s market raw. In their most honest and nutritious and juiciest form. But really…how many tomato sandwiches can one girl eat? (In case you were wondering…the answer is about four per week. Not that I’m counting.)

If we are going to keep up with the greedy volume of fresh fruits and veggies of the summer, we are going to have to get serious. And make a huge bread salad.

What? You don’t think bread should intrude further into salads than the occasional crouton!? Are you mad!?

This panzanella is seriously delicious. The crisped bread absorbs just enough of the tomato juices and sharp dressing to become luxurious, and the hearty base makes the whole meal toothsome and filling. You should make it right away!

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Tomato Tartines with Truffle Salt

Tomato Tartine with Truffle Salt

I have been on an open-face sandwich kick lately. Simple lunches really are a pleasure, aren’t they?

And now, at the beginning of tomato season, what could be a better way to enjoy that pungent, bursting flavor than fresh on a slice of warm, toasty bread?

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