Tag Archives: no fanciness required!

weekend ease: maple miso mustard grilled chicken

maple miso mustard grilled chicken

We’re going out of town (again!) for a quick snap starting tomorrow morning, with an overnight stop in LA-la land and then continuing on for a few nights spent under the great big Western sky with my in-laws* in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I’m packing my Chacos (yes, I own them, and don’t even think of judging me, remember – I did live in Boulder) and a pair of my favorite tall boots (nights in Jackson this time of year should nestle somewhere comfortably in the mid 40s), and I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t pumped to browse around for a cozy blanket to toss around my shoulders at the Pendleton shop that’s in town.

*I hate calling them this! It has such a negative connotation, like I’m forced to be bound to them or hang out with them only by law. What can we start calling “in-laws” that we love?! I’m formally accepting your suggestions.

maple miso mustard grilled chicken seasoning

I’m not generally a fan of dumping lots of canned this and that together and – look mom! I made a recipe! – but this here grilled chicken “recipe” does pretty much exactly that.  This maple mustard miso chicken (say that three times fast) comes together exactly as it sounds: stir together sweet white miso paste, dijon mustard, and maple syrup as your marinade and ‘glaze,’ season chicken thighs with a little S&P, and grill them up till they’re crisped and charred on the edges and juicy and tender in the middle. That’s it!

maple miso mustard chicken the tru=ifecta

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the more they change, the more they stay the same: salted dark chocolate mousse with vanilla cream

salted dark chocolate mousse with vanilla scented cream

At times it feels like I just left New York; though it was three years ago (and nearly exactly to the day), The City still holds court as the single place I’ve rested my head for the most nights outside of my childhood hometown on Cape Cod. Just writing that feels odd; for as much time as I spent there, since I packed up our West Village townhouse that sweaty July back in 2011, so much has changed.

salted dark chocolate mousse chopped chocolate

There has been a marriage, a new dog, two new cats, a few far reaching vacations, three rather large geographical moves which also spurred career changes, and ultimately times of great self reflection and growth.  Given that we had a professional moving company hired to bubble wrap and duct tape every last speck of our tangible possessions and make them magically reappear (hopefully unbroken) halfway across the country, I left in what felt like a hurry; there was none of the usual ‘packing process’ per say, other than putting some Colorado appropriate clothing into a suitcase and waiting for the twenty-one-footer to show up with her crew.

salted dark chocolate mousse cream beaters

My apartment remained decorated and fully put together until the day I left, lending a sense of ‘is this really even happening?‘ right up till the eleventh hour. We were lucky enough to manage to finagle a week spent on that dizzyingly busy island onto the end of our recent trip, and even luckier still to have two friends offer up their gorgeous apartment in SoHo – the same friends whose wedding we had toasted just a couple of weeks earlier (the little lucky duckies were still honeymooning in Southeast Asia!). I am so thankful for their generosity, as there is no better way to visit somewhere you used to live than by staying in an actual home.  Being in a hotel would have made me feel like a stranger; a peeping tom creeping around trying to catch glimpses of scenery I wasn’t meant to enjoy. Having called the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side, Gramercy, Greenwich Village, and the far West Village all home at one point or another in the six years we spent there, staying in SoHo was a treat, and the moment touched down I was eager to get out and explore.

salted dark chocolate mousse custard

I’m not sure this it is even possible, but Manhattan felt even buzzier, crazier, and more alive than I remembered. Even though the mercury was busting way up into the high 90s the day we arrived (and the humidity had my hair doing it’s best Medusa imitation – not my best look), the streets were absolutely mobbed, and that same frenetic energy came flooding back in a surge of sweaty excitement. With time, there is a certain way that you learn to navigate the busy streets, and there is a definite art of maintaining that familiar bob-weave-stop-start pace while simultaneously holding three shopping bags and a full iced coffee while sending a text and managing not to be struck by a yellow cab at a crosswalk or an errant bag of Thai noodles waving perilously in the wind off of a bike messenger’s handle bar. My chest swelled with pride and there was a noticeable pep in my step with the realization that I still ‘had it,’ and it felt so good to slide into the backseat of an Uber (because who takes cabs anymore?) and rattle off the cross streets of a restaurant without even consulting the Google.

New York has not entirely removed herself from me.

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the whole shebang: 6300 miles and a whole (lazy) lemon tart, iphone edition

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My past 28 days have looked something like this:

Santa Barbara, CA –> Baltimore, MD –> Wilton, CT –> Lake Joseph, Ontario (Canada) –> New York City, NY –> Baltimore, MD –> Santa Barbara, CA.

We’ve just arrived back home (we being the husband, the pug, and myself, and home being to the farm) after a whirlwind East-Coast-meets-Canada Summer tour that was packed sardine-tin style with cross country flights and long long drives: a marvelous wedding weekend in a picturesque New England town, two weeks spent on an island in the middle of a giant lake in Canada, and a full week back in The City – my old love – New York, New York.

(An aside: Given that these three locales and disparate occasions demanded quite different attire, you can surely ascertain exactly how nonplussed the look on James’ face was when he saw me attempting to heave two full-sized and at-limit suitcases onto the belt in addition to the tote bags/handbags/saddlebags that I looped over his shoulders like my own personal travel burro. Efficient packer, I am not.)

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Having – quite surprisingly – not traversed outside of the Pacific time zone since our arrival on the farm last Winter, we had a veritable laundry list of friends to see, places to visit, and cakes to bake (that’s a normal thing, right?), and in what seems like a relatively long stretch of time (nearly a month), we somehow managed to cram smoosh and shove nearly every single person/activity/baked good in without incident.

The trip was kicked off with our dear friends’ wedding, and we danced under the stars on a horse farm while munching on mini tacos and Polly Pocket sized margaritas housed in tiny Patron bottles. After a weekend full of feting, the car was loaded and aimed North towards the border, and we scanned the crackly FM stations while cruising through upstate New York searching for just the right songs to befit the lush rolling hillsides and endless decorously unkempt farms. A full days drive warranted cooling our jets for an evening at a darling bed and breakfast in Ithaca, and in the most touristy fashion possible we unabashedly chowed down on Buffalo wings at the restaurant that lays claim to starting that whole vinegar-spiked-hot-wing craze.

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We drove into Canada and left the US behind for two glorious weeks; this was the fourth year I have accompanied James and his parents for a mid-Summer break at their lake house, and it has quickly become a yearly tradition that we eagerly look forward to as the days grow longer and July 4th approaches. The cabin is on an island – the kind where there are no cars and oh, you better choose your company wisely, as there is absolutely nowhere to hide once you arrive by boat. And, as such, there is nothing really pressing on the agenda save long and lazy afternoons filled with sunshine and novels and time spent in the kitchen tinkering with new recipes and keeping the fridge full for those who’ve worked up an appetite swimming laps around the island.

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the quick & not-so-dirty: my go-to greek yogurt honey herb sauce

greek yogurt honey herb sauce copy

There is an ace I keep tucked not very high up my sleeve for nights when planting myself in the kitchen and whipping up something delicious (or at least not-objectionable) feels akin to being told at mile 26.2 that, ‘Surprise! Just kidding! You’re not done, you’ve still got 10 more miles!’

greek yogurt honey herb sauce - garlic and basil

In the confines of a horribly flourescent-lit office or the hallways of a home cluttered with a neverending mountain of dirty laundry – it doesn’t matter where you spend your days; sometimes just showing up and making supper for 1, 2, 3, or more is a daunting task that’s enough to make you want to crawl into a hole and stay there. Forever.

(Or at least till RHOBH comes on. I’d come out for that. [Did I just admit that?!])

greek yogurt honey herb sauce - greek yogurt

But I digress. Back to that ace in the hole I was talking about. Or was it up my sleeve? I can’t remember.  Moving on. You simply follow this formula to come up with a main dish that is so easy, so delicious, and so dadgum simple that even after the longest of long days suppertime is quick, painless, and anything but dirty. Get yourself some Greek yogurt (I like 2% Fage and don’t recommend messing around with that fat free nonsense), some honey, some rice wine vinegar (or champagne/white wine vinegar), and a big old handful of herbs (basil, mint, or cilantro – or a combination of the three – work best), and chuck it in the bowl of a food processor. Rustle up a garlic clove and toss that in there too.  Add in some salt and pepper, and blend the mixture till its creamy and smooth – thicker than a salad dressing but thinner than a mayonnaise.

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on ribs and granny carts: honey herb pork tenderloin

honey herb pork tenderloin

Some years ago, in New York City, I would become very frustrated when I would find a recipe that was perfectly suited for whatever occasion it was, and then a harsh reality would hit.  I’d realize that I didn’t have things like stand mixers for coconut cakes and fancy French mandolins for perfectly cut matchstick slaw, and, oh yeah, I didn’t have that backyard outfitted with a grill that those finger-lickin’ ribs necessitated either.

honey herb pork tenderloin - fresh herbs and garlic

Instead I had a rickety and rusty 1960’s four burner gas stove (of which, two worked reliably, one was dead, and one threatened a gas explosion each time you encouraged it to light), a janky communal collection of pots and pans bequeathed to us from various donors, and a fire escape ‘patio’ that threatened to buckle each time we crawled out the window to enjoy a glass of wine ‘al fresco.’

honey herb pork tenderloin - pureed flavors

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coming in hot: thai green curry cod cakes with avocado cucumber relish

thai green curry cod cakes with cucumber avocado relish

I’m in the camp that excessively dieting in January to adhere to the constraints of some self-imposed and totally unrealistic ‘resolution’ is a bunch of malarky.

thai green curry cod cakes - pacific cod

But really, who am I kidding – it’s only because I know that I’ll totally throw my own game by kamikaze-ing myself with a cheeseburger, a (craft!) beer, and some killer garlic-truffle fries….just for good measure.

thai green curry cod cakes - chopping peppers and onions

Having my sand in the toes here in much-more-SoCal has definitely got my wheels turning however, and I am hesitant to say it but…..as the rest of the country has been beaten tortured to an inch of their frostbitten life by the ‘polar vortex,’ I’ve been cruising around in a t-shirt and flip flops, taking nightly sunset runs on the beach, and have even managed to pick up just a hint of a tan.  The bathing suit….it is on the horizon my friends.

thai green curry cod cakes - green curry paste

[Ducks to avoid rotten tomatoes]

thai green curry cod cakes - avocado cuke relish!

As with San Francisco, the community here in Santa Barbara is super active; with the pleasant weather, everyone is biking, hiking, running, spinning, juicing, and perfecting their yoga poses.  There is a farmer’s market that runs 7 days a week – year round, rain or shine – and a fishmarket out on the pier that rotates in the catch of the day quite literally right from the (frigid!) waters of the navy blue Pacific.

thai green curry cod cakes - cod pulsed in processor

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after those treats: vegan wild rice bowls with garlic tahini sauce, sweet grape tomatoes, broccoli, and avocado

vegan wild rice bowls with garlic tahini sauce

Because it’s Sunday, because we’ve got a blissful extra hour to kill, and because if you ate even close to the amount of candy corn that I managed to consume in the last 48 hours, I present to you, the vegan rice bowl.

vegan wild rice bowls with garlic tahini sauce, fresh broccoli

(Cue sad trombone.)

vegan wild rice bowls with garlic tahini sauce, wild rice medley

I know.  It’s Fall and we’re supposed to be braising meats and roasting squash and baking sweet cakes with things like apple and cinnamon and pumpkin in them!

vegan wild rice bowls with garlic tahini sauce, ripe avo

These rice bowls will neither fill your house with a cozy smell nor stick to your ribs like most comforting Autumnal fare.  They will, however, negate the queasy feeling that is inevitably setting in as the costumes hit the ground, the face paint wears off, and those fist-fulls of fun-sized snickers/butterfinger/crunch/dots/almondjoy/nerds/whatchamacallit start to set in in full effect.

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