Fall Bucket List

Oh fall.  Corduroys, cardigans, football, pumpkins and apples.  It seems like everyone is so eager to get into it.  I’m not.  I’m a summer person.  Always have been.  Always will be.  But, living in the northeast has made me appreciate the fall.  In the south, fall sort of passes us by with a quick indian summer melding into a drizzly winter.  I mean, I have worn flop flops at thanksgiving in NC!  Fall is a distinct season up here, which is different and wonderful experience.  Today has a nip in the air, I am wearing a scarf and a light jacket, so we might be there.

Let’s get into it.  Fall bucket list:

  • tailgate and attend a college football game
  • go apple picking
  • paint nails a trendy color*
  • go to Cross Fit 3 times per week*
  • make a pie, not just for thanksgiving (maybe a test run)
  • get a peplum top
  • cook many things with autumnal squash

*yup, trying this one again

Here’s to ringing in fall 2012.  Are you doing anything special for the fall season?

Summer Bucket List Update

So I wanted to update you on my Summer Bucket List.

My summer bucket list was not a complete success.  However, I tried and somethings weren’t meant to be, some were awesome!!  Here’s the rundown:

Shop at the Farmer’s market twice a month.

I blew this one out of the water.  We joined a CSA!  We love it!!  Click here for more on our CSA experience!

Go to Crossfit 3 times per week.

I failed.  For a month I did really well with it and I felt awesome.  I am a little sick right now but I am really looking forward to getting back at it.  This is a Fall bucket list for sure

Make grapefruit curd sandwich cookies.

I didn’t do this.  I lost interest.  Grapefruit is a winter fruit and perhaps this will make a come back for the winter.  We shall see.

Make a Paleo ice cream, a sorbet and a fruit ice cream.

I made a Paleo peach ice cream.  The ingredients were peaches and a little agave, pureed in the food processor and then “churned” in the ice cream maker.  I wasn’t pumped about it.  Maybe the peaches weren’t as ripe as they should have been but I thought it would have been sweeter.  Also, it had an icey texture that wasn’t awesome.  So was it a sorbet, per se?  No.  Don’t worry.  More ice-cream in the future.

I also made Chocolate Coconut Ice-cream several times.  Family favorite.  Do it.  Use a quality cocoa, please.

Eat lunch at City Bakery.

Done and done.  We ate here several times.  I was first turned onto it when I went on a Cupcake Crawl with my Sorority Alumnae group.  Even though it was entitled a “Cupcake Crawl,” we went to bakeries that specialize in many different baked goods.  It was super fun and City Bakery was one of our stops.  Sparky and I have eaten here several times since and it is in the rotation.  The pretzel croissants are amazing, if you are ever in town, I highly recommend a stop!

Make this cake for my birthday: Seven Sins Chocolate Cake.

Bam.  Done.  Delish.

Make 2 new recipes per week and blog them.

Maybe this was an unrealistic goal.  Who knows.  This summer was crazy.  I had a long commute and I just didn’t cook a lot of new recipes.  We would find something we liked and made  it a few times.  You can see some of the new recipes we tried here and here.  Still cooking.  Don’t worry, my dears.

 Get my nails painted a not pink/red color.

This is probably on the fall list.  So.  I am a nail biter.  I will quit and come back to it.  Late in the summer I totally lost it and bit all my nails off.  So, I did paint my toenails a green Elphaba from Wicked style.  It was kind of fun but jarring to me.  Maybe a graphite color for fall?  I’m currently in the growing out stage for my fingernails so I’m trying my best.

This is a long post, if you’re still with me, congrats.  Or maybe you are watching the Kardashians.  Can’t say I blame you.  Fall bucket list to come this week!!

Chocolate Cake for the Win

In theory, I can’t think of anything I like more: chocolate cake.  The reality?  By the time I have made it, I’m sort of over it.  This has nothing to do with the fact that I have taste tested it, step by step.  Nothing at all.  I mean, who does that?  People without willpower.

Based on extensive experiments (sample size: 1 cake – this one), I am pretty obsessed with this website: Sprinkle Bakes.  The instructions and description were spot on.  I spotted it early in the summer and vowed to make it for my birthday.  However, birthday time rolled around and there just wasn’t enough time in the day or enough people to eat it.  So when my dear cousin’s birthday rolled around, along with a nice outdoor housewarming party, I knew it was time to make it.  Did I mention she loves chocolate?  Perfect fit.

I followed the instructions and broke the process up into 2 days and it never felt overly laborious.  I adored the dark chocolate whiskey pastry cream.  That might be making a reappearance.  The milk chocolate marshmallow frosting wasn’t my favorite, but it was easy to work with.  Overall, the cake didn’t travel that well.  It’s a little too warm out for cake transport yet.  Did I mention I was exporting it across state lines?  Cupcakes travel better.  It wasn’t a major crisis but I was glad I took these pictures before I left the house.

If you are looking for a labor of love and a delicious outcome, this is your cake.  Go to Sprinkle Bakes for the Seven Sins Chocolate Cake.  Maybe I’ll start penance tomorrow.

The Farmer’s Market Round Up

Per my Summer Bucket List (which my brother has informed me that bucket lists and the use of the YOLO is enough to end a relationship for him.  Whatevs), I pledged to shop at the Farmer’s Market at least 2 times per month.  Well, I surpassed this goal completely because shortly after attending the farmer’s market, we joined a CSA.  We love it.  While the zucchini was a bumper crop this year and I made more zucchini chocolate cake than I would like to admit, I still highly recommend it.  New Jersey is a great place for produce!  New Jersians should be proud of the bounty their land yields: beautiful tomatoes, corn, peaches, eggplant, kale, potatoes, peppers and much much more.

We get our CSA from the Stony Hill Farm and highly recommend it to anyone looking for one.  We get an email every week outlining what to expect in our box, storage suggestions, and even recipes for those items.  Our pick up is in our town and very easy.  We also added to our share a dozen fresh eggs from the farm.

The CSA has pushed my out of my cooking comfort zone, forcing me to cook with food that I wouldn’t usually purchase (hello, eggplant) and I have really added to my list of recipes!  Listed below are a few recipes that have been made (some multiple times) this summer with our goods:

I leave you with this simple corn salad as a great summer side dish (oh summer please don’t go).

Corn Salad
2 strips bacon, chopped
6 ears of corn with the kernels chopped off
pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
salt and pepper

1.  Cook the bacon, rendering the fat.  Once cooked, remove the bacon to drain and pour out the bacon grease so that only about 2 tablespoons remain in the pan.  Save the poured out bacon grease for something else (green smoothie, anyone?).

2.  At medium-high heat, add the kernels of corn, cooking until the corn gets some color on it.

3.  Dump in a serving dish and add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and any other seasoning.

Dinner Time: Salmon with Blueberry Sauce

As of late, my sweetie (Sparky), has been clipping recipes that he wants to eat.  He doesn’t really read the ingredient list or the method, he mainly picks them based on title.  Regardless, I appreciate the input.  Even if I don’t like what he has chosen, I can use it as inspiration for something else that he may like. He is a pretty active guy and eats a lot so sometimes I need a little direction.  This time around, he made a good choice.  We have joined a CSA (community sponsored agriculture) and have been inundated with produce.  A good thing.  We have fresh fruit and vegetables every week.  A very good thing.  One thing was blueberries!  Sparky sent me this Salmon With Agrodolce Blueberries and off I went.

It was majorly easy.  I forgot how much a sauce can impact a dish with such little effort.  Another good thing!  This sauce is low maintenance too, you can totally be doing other things (like chopping one of your many zucchinis) while periodically checking on the sauce.  Also, it is relatively few ingredients.  Low lift, as a friend of mine says.  This is a gourmet treat for a weeknight.  Sure, you have to turn on the oven but you can take advantage and throw in some cookies for dessert while scarfing the salmon.  I hate to be bossy (I cant help it) but, make this recipe.  It even has a fancy name: Salmon With Agrodolce Blueberries.  Why are you still sitting there?  Off the computer you go!