The Perfect Anniversary Dinner Date
As someone who loves the NYC restaurant scene, I am a big fan of date night out exploring either some of the new “must go” spots or returning to some of our favorite local places. However, almost as often, I crave a date night in. There is something about actually putting in the time and effort to make a meal for the person you love and then enjoying it in the comfort of your own home (and the comfort of leggings and a sweatshirt, but that’s another conversation). Joe and I just recently celebrated our eleven-year anniversary of which Joe continuously reminded me that “this really isn’t our anniversary anymore”. I understand that, going forward, we will now celebrate our wedding anniversary, but this day will always have a special place in my heart. So, in the compromise of still celebrating while not making it a big deal, a date night in was established and a more elaborate than usual weeknight menu was prepared. One of Joe and my favorite meals to make is a deliciously juicy crispy chicken thigh. I mean, is there anything better than the perfectly crisped chicken skin? The answer is no. To serve alongside these beauties I decided to create a veggie packed pasta that would use majority of the juice from cooking the chicken as it’s sauce. The smartest idea I’ve had all year? Quite possibly. Date night or not, this dinner is a hit!
Whenever I feel I haven’t spent ample time in my kitchen and just miss the warm welcoming flavors of a home cooked meal, this is what I whip up nine times out of ten. Whether it be a weeknight dinner or a lunch for guests staying with us over the weekend, it always hits the spot. Most likely because it includes just about all of my favorite foods, but also because it is such a comforting hearty meal that you forget how healthy it really is. No matter the reason, I will always crave it.
my Halloween inspired dinner
Since I was away majority of October, I feel like I missed out on not only all of the pumpkin flavored food, but also the hype surrounding Halloween. (True story, I didn’t really realize it was Halloween today until midway through the afternoon when I saw a kid in a costume while running an errand). So, safe to say, I am not a big Halloween gal in this stage of my life. That being said, I wanted to celebrate somehow – in addition to contradicting my food beliefs and handing out classic Snickers and M&M like candy to little kids. Obviously, my celebrating turned into creating a new recipe for dinner. Along with my desire to make a dish that featured pumpkin and the color orange, I also have felt this deep anger towards the fact that I haven’t been able to get my hands on any of the Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi since it was released (what feels like years ago). Combining all of these random thoughts I had during my yoga class this morning, it came to me: I was going to make my own god damn gnocchi for dinner and you better believe it was going to be orange! Hello, my favorite vegetable, sweet potato to the rescue. Not only did I feel really freaking important and chef-like while making this dinner, because I hate to admit I’ve never made homemade pasta before (sorry!), but it is also absolutely delicious. Fall flavored, cozy, rib warming, I want to take a nap in this bowl, kind of dinner. I’ll let you see for yourself! Plus, not like I follow all of these, but I’m just going to through it out there: this meal is vegan, gluten and dairy free, paleo, and Whole30 compliant…
When you’re not quite sure if its Summer or Fall
As the seasons are changing and we’re all screaming “YAY FALL” and excited for the lower temperatures, pumpkin spice everything, and change of leaf colors, there is still a part of me ever so slightly holding on to the summer and warm weather. This meal is the perfect depiction of my exact emotions. With the main touches of fall flavors with the pecans and butternut squash, it still has that small hint of summer through the pomegranate seeds and the nod to barbeques with the baby back ribs. Food has never better expressed my current emotions. This meal was a hit for the dinner party I threw this past weekend. From age 26 to 85 and both males and females, everyone was licking their fingers (quiet literally, thank you ribs). Quick, invite some friends over and get cooking. You won’t regret it!
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The “I don’t feel like cooking or cleaning” dinner
As you know by now, I am all about easy, quick, healthy, and delicious dinners. When I was working in the corporate world and would get home after a day spent in the office, laboring over a dinner and then cleaning (what felt like a thousand) dishes was the last thing I wanted to do. While I no longer feel that way, I am here to help you. So, what is better than a dinner that only dirties one dish in the cooking process? I’d say just about nothing. But, to make this beauty even more incredible, she is filled with flavor and one of the lighter meals I’ve ever felt truly satisfied and full from. A triple win and your new go-to “I just got home from work but am having some girlfriends over from dinner and would rather eat McDonalds than have to spend time cooking in the kitchen” meal.
Close your eyes and pretend you’re in California for a second
As part of my ode to Taco Tuesday and the promise of switching things up each week, I recently tossed a new combo into the ring: these shrimp tacos. Boy, they did not disappoint. If you’re like most New Yorkers and intimidated by the act of cooking shrimp for the fear it will stink up your apartment, I promise, it’s not that bad! Plus, this avocado crema makes it all worth it. The perfect creaminess on top of a perfectly charred tortilla with some juicy shrimp. For a second, you can close your eyes and convince yourself you’re actually in California and not this muggy still feels summer when will it ever be fall city. We can dream, right??
My go-to pantry clean out meal
You know the nights where you get home and realize you are starving but have absolutely nothing in your fridge to make dinner out of and you just refuse to pay the absurd price of NYC delivery? (I mean really, after the tax, tip, delivery fee, etc, I want to scream). Well, I’ve been there. Many and many of times. Each time, I check my pantry and freezer to assess the essentials I always have on stock and, more times than not, end up making this exact dish. It was at first a random combination I happened to have on hand that I questioned, “will this work, or am I crazy?” and has now become a staple in my budget friendly lifestyle. Don’t knock it until you try it!
A mess-up became a fix up meal
To be totally transparent, this recipe was a total “mess-up becomes a fix-up.” This was a saying my fourth-grade teacher taught me and one I use quite often in my life. Nothing, and sure as heck no one, is perfect, so why stress over all the mistakes we can make? Since Joe and I are now making the family tradition of Taco Tuesdays in our apartment, I set the goal of stepping outside the box to try new taco recipes and keep things interesting. I mean, yes, I could have the same ground beef tacos once a week for the rest of my life, but I’d also be missing out on trying a bunch of new combinations and hopefully inspiring you all! To divert from our usual Tuesday spread, my idea for this recipe was to make tacos with beautifully juicy and gorgeously shredded pork. I turned to my handy dandy freezer and found that we had 1lb of pork tenderloin in there. Without consulting the internet and realizing that I should’ve instead used my slow cooker vs my instant pot for this result, I plopped this baby in my instant pot, turned it on, and got preparing my sides. To my dismay, this pork was in fact not at all the kind that I could shred, but instead a perfectly cooked, tender, and juicy meat. Instead of beating myself up over the fact that dinner was no longer going to look as I had hoped, I sliced the tenderloin, noticed how beautiful and tasty it was, and moved forward with the new star of the show. Turns out, this recipe is one of Joe’s favorite things I have ever made and provided some delicious leftovers for my younger sister. Plus, considering I never told anyone about the original plan, the mistake went was nonexistent. I’d call that a win in the mess-up becomes a fix-up category if I do say so myself.
The perfect summertime meal
The grill and I have an extremely long and historic love affair. From a very young age, I remember my dad grilling every single thing possible. The scent of the smoke and that char on whatever he was cooking is one of my favorite memories of childhood. Once I became old enough to cook, I was infatuated with the grill and mastering its ability to make every single ingredient produce more flavor than any other available cooking method. Seriously – why does everything taste better when cooked on a grill!? So, after many of nights watching my dad master the method, I one day decided it was my time to try; and the rest was history. While it may seem intimidating at first, I promise it is probably one of the easiest cooking gadgets out there. It does all the work for you! Although grilling is definitely not exclusive to summertime, this is one of my favorite quick and easy meals to throw together for a summer lunch or dinner. Say goodbye to lame salads and hello to flavor!
A fully farmer’s market dinner
This week I found myself in the Union Square farmer’s market doing some research for an upcoming piece (stay tuned!) and I began questioning why I ever purchase groceries anywhere other than a farmer’s market. I get they can be extremely busy at times, and you have to plan your shopping around when they are open, but gosh if you go at the right time, they are extremely pleasant. What is better than picking from a massive selection of produce, protein, and dairy all from local farms and all while enjoying the outdoors? (Get back to me if you think of anything). As I was perusing around and scoping out every single tent, I decided this was going to be the source of all my ingredients for my date night in with Joe. Grabbing the veggies from the organic farm stand, the chicken from the pasture raised organic protein man, and the cheese from the goat milk stand, I was ready to rock. Along with this recipe below, go check out the corresponding IGTV episode on my Instagram so you can feel like we’re in the kitchen cooking together!
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