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I forgot to take a picture of this beauty the other night, because I had just come home from work and it was already ready to go (thank you my dearest husband!) and I gobbled it right up. The flavor here is amazing. I’m a huge fan of fennel and this tomato sauce does it right. We served it over brown rice to give it a little more heft (and to provide some lunch leftovers for the next day).

braised fennel with saffron and tomato

Braised Fennel with Saffron & Tomato
via Vegetable Literacy

2 large fennel bulbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
good pinch of saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups fennel stock, chicken stock, or water
sea salt
1 tablespoon butter
freshly ground pepper
minced fennel greens or fresh flat-leaf parsley

Trim off the stalks and greens from the fennel bulbs. (Mince the greens for a garnish. If there are none, you can use parsley.) If the outer thick leaves of the bulbs look tough and scarred, as they often do, take a slice off the base to loosen them and set them aside for another use. Halve each bulb lengthwise and cut the halves into wedges about 1 1/2 inches at the widest part.
Heat the olive oil in a wide saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and fennel seeds, crumble in the saffron and thyme and then cook until the steam releases the color from the saffron, after several minutes. Add the fennel wedges and cook them until golden, turning them and the onions occasionally. Once they are well colored, add the garlic, stir in the tomato paste and then add the stock and 1 teaspoon salt. Scrape the pan to release the juices, then cover and simmer until the fennel is tender, another 15 minutes.

Photo: Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton

While I try not to make serious resolutions, I do try to get back to eating and being a little healthier once the holidays are over. Husband made this for us last week, and it’s the perfect dish to bring us back to flavorful but healthy dishes. I’d never had delicata squash before, it’s a wonderful mild flavor, a bit like a sweet potato. I’m a big fan of winter vegetables, particularly anything that calls for kale.

roasted vegetable orzo

Roasted Vegetable Orzo
via 101 cookbooks

1 medium delicata squash, seeded & sliced 1/3-inch thick
3 shallots, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil or melted clarified butter
fine grain sea salt
4 medium cloves garlic, peel on
12 kale leaves, washed & dried well, de-stemmed & cut into 3-inch strips
1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
1/2 cup plain yogurt
For serving: slivered scallions, fresh oregano, toasted nuts or seeds

Preheat the oven to 400F / 205C with racks arranged in the top and bottom thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment. You’re going to roast the squash, shallots, and garlic on one sheet, and the kale on another. Prep the delicata squash, and toss it in a large bowl with the shallots, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and a big pinch of salt. Arrange in a single layer on one of the baking sheets, add the garlic and place on the bottom rack, for about 30 minutes. Spin once or twice along the way to get even roasting – let it all get deeply golden.
After the squash is in the oven, use the same bowl to toss the kale with another splash of olive, and pinch of salt. Arrange the leaves on the other baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until you get a touch of browning, but the leaves are primarily still green. Set aside.
Get the pasta water boiling, salt well, and cook the orzo pasta. Drain and use quickly (warm) OR (if you won’t be serving for a while) run under cold water, and toss with a tiny splash of olive oil.
For the dressing, extract the roasted garlic from its peel, and mash it with a bit of the yogurt and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Work in the rest of the yogurt, taste, and add more salt if needed.
When you’re ready to serve, toss the orzo, and roasted vegetables with about half of the yogurt. Turn out onto a platter and sprinkle with scallions, oregano, and seeds/nuts. Serve the remaining yogurt to the side.

We have this amazing local sausage maker here in Seattle called Uli’s Famous Sausage at Pike Place Market. When I came across this simple but lovely recipe this week, I knew getting a great chorizo would be the key to making this dish perfect. While I was out and about, my darling husband whipped this up with the chosen Uli’s Chorizo Picante. It turned out sooo spicy and so good. I’m looking forward utilizing this again and again with our favorite green, kale.

chorizo with kale

Chorizo with Kale
via stonesoup

2 chorizo, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
1 large bunch kale, finely sliced crosswise
1/2 lemon
handful roasted almonds (optional)

Heat a frying pan on a medium high heat. Add a little oil and the chorizo. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until well browned on the first side. Turn and cook for a few seconds on the other side. Remove from the pan to a clean plate. Add garlic and kale to the chorizo oil in the pan and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until kale is wilted and tender. Return chorizo to the pan to warm up. Taste and season with salt, pepper and a small squeeze of lemon.

A little over a week ago my friend Danielle made this amazing risotto – twice! Even though she was sweet enough to share a bit with me, I wanted a whole batch of my own. And since I’ve been on the mend, but not one hundred percent wonderful yet, my dearest husband whipped it up for me this week. So sweet! Definitely a fall favorite and on the short list for Thanksgiving.

Butternut Squash Risotto
via martha stewart

1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth, mixed with 1/2 cup water and heated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish

In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add squash; season with
salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until edges soften, 10 to 12 minutes. Add rice; stir to coat.
Add wine; cook until almost all liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; add 1/2 cup hot broth mixture. Cook, stirring, until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add remaining
broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding more, 35 to 40 minutes total. Stir in parmesan, sage, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
Serve immediately, garnished with more Parmesan and sage, if desired.

I love it when the husband cooks! Particularly a treat like this one. This is a kicked up mac &
cheese (and you know I have quite the fondness for quinoa). And also this blog I just discovered! Carey Nershi has quite the eye and I look forward to scouring every corner
of her blog for new recipes and more of her gorgeous photos.

Cheesy Quinoa with Roasted Broccoli
via reclaiming provincial

3/4 cup of quinoa
1 1/2 cups of water
half a large head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 to 3/4 of a beaten egg
3 oz. of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
a pinch of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss broccoli in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread out over a
baking sheet. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the broccoli just begins to brown.
In the meantime, combine water and quinoa in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to
a simmer, and let cook until all of the water has absorbed.
As soon as the quinoa has finished cooking, combine the butter, milk, egg, and salt in a
large saucepan. Add cheese and quinoa, then cook over low heat, stirring continuously,
for about 3 minutes. Mix in the broccoli and enjoy!

So we finally took a little time off this week… five days in Vegas to be exact. Vegas! Oh, what a week. Just me and the husband. A little gambling, a lot of sun, so much great food and a much needed couple days of down time.

The day we landed I asked our friends for suggestions and we got so many great ones!
Favorites: Fremont Street and $5 Black Jack tables at 4 Queens Casino, Parasol Down Bar at the Wynn and the crazy, strange, wonderful water show outside, Carnevino & Craftsteak at MGM for fancy dinners, Peppermill for the best cheesy, over-the-top Vegas-esque lounge. Love! Thanks all!

Even with all the birthday madness this week, we did manage to whip up a few easy, delicious meals. Husband made this one night while I worked late, and it’s definitely a new favorite. I loved it for dinner and even more the next day cold. This recipe is also great because it is a great base that could be mixed up with a variety of different ingredients and toppings. For the meat eaters out there, I think adding cooked chicken and tossing it with the oil would round out this dish nicely!

Spicy Thai Inspired Noodles
via a small snippet

1 box linguine
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup sesame oil
6 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3/4 cup peanuts, chopped

Combine the crushed red pepper flakes, vegetable and sesame oil in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Strain out of the red pepper flakes, reserving the oil. Whisk the honey and soy sauce into the reserved oil. Cook the noodles according to the package, to al dente.
Drain the noodles and toss well with the oil mixture until the noodles are well coated.
To serve, top each bowl of noodles with green onions, carrots, cilantro and peanuts to taste.

How was your weekend? My birthday is coming up this week, so we had a little celebration on Saturday. Just a casual get together, floating on a lake then a bit of BBQ… my favorite way to spend a warm day. Today we lounged about the house, doing a whole lot of nothing – my second favorite
way to spend a weekend day. Husband and I are starting to prepare for our adventure next month,
a long weekend in Vegas. I’m not much for gambling, but I’m really looking forward to the sun, great
food and a whole lot of down time. Now to just pick out a few new travel outfits… and maybe a few other lovely things…

summertime sangria
sweet little floral dress
this amazing thread of tuna salad recipes
how to make your own lampshade
a panty party!
the wise words of julia child
the softest tees and tanks
a perfect tote
birthday cake pancakes

image via the pursuit aesthetic

I’m pretty sure today was the hottest day yet in Seattle, so hot that the last place we wanted to be was cooped up inside. After running a few errands, and being gifted a bit of pork loin from my lovely parents, we headed up to the rooftop of our building to do a little grilling. It was a gorgeous sunset, but unfortunately the beautiful light didn’t make for great pictures, so we’re stuck with my Instagram shots! We served it up with spanish rice and a side of fresh avocado. The creaminess of the avocado was the perfect addition to this slightly spicy meat masterpiece.

Spanish Pork with Pico de Gallo
adapted from my recipes

1 pound pork tenderloin

for the pork rub:
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

for the pico de gallo:
5 roma tomatoes, finely diced
1 small white onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 jalapeno reppers, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
Juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the dry ingredients for the pork rub. Brush olive oil over the pork, and sprinkle evenly with chili powder mixture. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature. Place the pork on the grill and cook for approximately 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of your tenderloin) until the internal temperature reaches 140 degress F. For the pico de gallo, combine all the ingredients together and additional salt and lime juice to taste. Serve over the finished pork.