recipes

Kale & White Bean Soup, or your new favorite weeknight dinner

In one of my very first posts, I mentioned how much I make soup this time of year. I don’t know if I emphasized it enough.

For the last 4 or 5 consecutive weeks, I’ve made one of my favorite go-to soup recipes the exact same way. The EXACT same. No modifications. And trust me on how weird this is – I don’t really like leftovers and I get sick of repeated meals. But every Sunday when we jot down our meals before heading to the grocery store, either Steve or I says, “…so, the kale soup again, right?”

Inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe I found in 2013, I’ve tweaked a little over the last few years until I found my perfect version. That meant adding garlic, caramelizing the onions, and seasoning with smoky, spicy paprika. And guys. IT NEVER GETS OLD! On top of that, the ingredients are cheap, easy to find in stores, and très healthy. It’s too good to be true. And that’s why I have this garlicky, smoky kale & white bean soup every week.

Kale & White Bean Soup

4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

28 oz. cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

up to 4 cups of chicken stock *

2 cups of water

1.5 lbs kale, rinsed and stems removed

extra virgin olive oil

salt

pepper

smoked paprika

optional (but let’s be honest, not really): freshly shaved parmesan and toasted slices of sourdough

*the original recipe calls for two cups of stock, 4 cups of water. unfortunately, most stock comes in 4 cup containers, and it doesn’t live in the fridge forever. I’ve started doing 2 cups of stock, 4 cups of water when I’ll be making this soup again soon, and 4 cups of stock, 2 cups of water when I just want to use the whole container. I’ve also found that 3 cups of each works just fine. Like most of my favorite recipes, you just can’t mess it up.

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How To Brunch At Home

One of my favorite ways to relax on the weekend is over brunch with good friends. I love checking out new brunch spots and going to the usual favorites too. I usually have a hard time deciding between eggy, savory dishes and sweet things that I never make at home like French toast. I never have a hard time deciding on a mimosa 😉

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In the interest of not having to make a reservation, saving a buck or two, and an excuse to use my new copper chargers from Crate and Barrel, I had two of my favorite ladies and their respective husbands/boyfriends over for brunch this weekend. It was super casual, but I did put more thought than usual into the food I chose. My favorite element of brunch is the lingering, taking our time and doing a little more talking than eating. I hadn’t seen some of these friends in a bit and I wanted us to have all the time we needed to catch up!

brunch menu

Before anyone arrived, I prepped the two plated meals — I sliced the grapefruits in half, separating the segments from outside peel and the thin membranes. I mixed the cinnamon and brown sugar. I chopped and diced the jalapenos, garlic, and onions for the shakshuka, and I hand crushed the tomatoes (apron on! I’ve learned that one the hard way 😉 )

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Pretty in pink (cookie edition)

I love activities that are hands-on. Maybe because I spend all of my work day staring at a computer making decks. There’s just something about making something with my hands that is so satisfying and relaxing! Probably explains why I started to love cooking around the same time I started my first job after college. And probably explains why I love going to those paint your own pottery places. As if I need another painted mug, right?!

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So for me, this idea by my sister was TOPS. She suggested that we bake and decorate some fun cookies for Valentine’s Day to share with our best friends…… or just eat ourselves. Two dozen heart shaped cookies (I used this sugar cookie recipe from She Makes A Home), three GIANT bowls of buttercream frosting tinted pink with Wilton’s concentrate gel dye, and about a zillion sprinkles. She came over with her roomies and we got right down to it!

Oh and we also had a killer wine selection: the Velvet Devil, Seven Deadly Zins, and a dark chocolate red wine. All delicious!


I’m already trying to find an excuse to recreate this gathering. Are Easter cookies a thing? Can we put frosting on matzah for Passover? What about Memorial Day cookies?



In the meantime, I’ll just be here licking the frosting bowl 🙂

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Valentine’s Day dinner for two

Though I know it’s a bit of a commercial holiday, I can’t help but love Valentine’s Day.

I have celebrated a few different ways over the years – mailing out pretty or silly cards to far-flung friends, going on weekend getaways with Steve (note: Philly’s Italian BYO restaurant scene was the perfect romantic/fun date!), hosting Galentine’s Day parties. Besides all the chocolate + rosé, it’s a great time for sentimental me to get all mushy about the people I love. 

One of my favorite Valentine’s Day memories was my second Valentine’s Day with Steve. In a valiant effort to redeem our first Valentine’s Day, wherein we were long distance and he… forgot about it… Steve kicked out all of his housemates and made me a super awesome dinner at home. Seared rare tuna steaks that he marinated in fresh ginger and soy sauce, with roasted asparagus. An actual expensive bottle of wine and brie and PATE (ew, but A for effort)! I knew he was trying hard to impress, and he was uncharacteristically nervous. The whole thing was so sweet and romantic, and it helped that it was SUPER delicious as well. 

Cooking for a loved one is such a genuine way to show love. Cooking is effort, thoughtfulness, precision. So if you’re looking for a way to show someone how you feel, why not make them a special dinner for two?

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A few thoughts on what makes a good Valentine’s Day meal:

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Roasted eggplant on repeat

Easy weeknight dinner? Check.

Simple ingredients, some you probably already have? Check.

Tricking your husband into eating a completely vegetarian meal? Check!

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Introducing one of my favorite weeknight go-to recipes: Roasted Eggplant. Lightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook, this is a cinch to throw together and perfect for a low-key night vegging out (ha, I’m funny) on the couch or for serving to company. Dressed with lemon-tahini sauce and crispy, spicy chick peas, this meal is healthy and filling! Just ask my favorite carnivore who used to balk at the idea of a dinner without meat 😉

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Let yourself eat cake

Sometimes you just want dessert. Even if your resolutions to eat clean(er) are fresh in your mind. Even if you skipped your Pure Barre class 2 days in a row and feel slightly guilty. Whatever. Sometimes you just want cake.

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Cooped up for 48 hours might sound like a drag to some, but the blizzard last weekend couldn’t have made me happier. I feel like our weeks & weekends are so go-go-go lately and so I totally indulged in the break. I didn’t even wash my hair for 4 days. It. Was. Divine.

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Gotta risk it for the brisket

One thing I like to do when planning a menu, for any kind of party, is to rely on familiar favorites. There’s no reason to experiment with something unknown and expensive under pressure – do that on your own time! I don’t mean to suggest that you should gravitate towards boring options, but I do mean pick dishes that you’ve served before, use techniques that you’re familiar with and have mastered, etc.

This just seems like common sense, and a good way to make sure you don’t make mistakes when your guests are arriving soon.

Right?

This is the story of how that principle didn’t pan out so well for me.

We had 12 friends over for dinner last Friday. Remember, I live in the D.C. area, where we were just slammed by Winter Storm (ahem, blizzard) Jonas. Everyone was planning to walk to our apartment, and the snow had been scheduled to start coming down thick around noon that day. Warm and comforting were top priorities for food.  

menu

Weird mix of Jewish, southern, and modern? I’m all over it.

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Dinner party inspiration

We’re hosting 8 friends for dinner on Friday. Or maybe 9. Plus the two of us, that’s 11 chairs required, with only 8 on hand…oh, and four of those are actually bar stools. This is going to be a litttttle cozy.

Which is kind of perfect. This weekend’s forecast is calling for a big dump of snow and I can think of nothing better than being snowed in and watching it pile up with some of my favorite people.

Our friends like to host a rotating dinner club, where one apartment makes a feast and everyone else just shows up, sometimes with a friend or two in tow. We’ve kind of let dinner club slip by the wayside recently (#holidaze), and the new year is the perfect time to start fresh. Note to friends: who’s hosting next?

Besides the shortage of chairs, I only have one problem – I have to work Friday and won’t have a ton of time to prep before people arrive. Dinner’s got to be something that cooks slow and low, and warms everyone up. I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve 😉

In the meantime, I’m loving the chic winter dinner party inspiration I’m finding on Pinterest! Those pomegranate Moscow Mules are calling my name — too bad we only have four copper mugs. (Are you sensing a theme?)

Follow along as I decide on a menu and style at @everyday_soiree on Instagram.

 

 

Sunday is for soup

You’ll soon find out that I eat an inordinate amount of soup in the fall and winter. My usual soup rotation consists of smoky kale and white bean soup, carrot tahini soup topped with spicy crispy chick peas, and chipotle turkey chili. And even though I usually hate leftovers, I never feel that way about those three!

For the first time in a while, I was inspired to branch out and try something new. Maybe it’s the cozy weather, maybe it was the excuse to slip in some cheese, I don’t know. But today I started thinking about broccoli cheddar soup.

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Sneak peek. Don’t mind my dirty stove.

 

It couldn’t be TYPICAL broccoli cheddar soup – the goopy creamy flavorless stuff that doesn’t taste like broccoli or cheddar. I looked at a few recipes and immediately decided, we’re doubling the broccoli and cutting the cream. We’re caramelizing the onions and, yeah, it’s weird, but we’re adding a carrot or two, and we’re roasting the broccoli first. I’m all about boosting flavor and keeping it fresh. So here’s what I got:

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Cheers to new pursuits

To ringing in 2016 with dear friends. To a new year, a fresh start, and a chance to try something different. To putting my KitchenAid juicer attachment (and all of its million pieces) to good use.

To all of that, I say cheers!

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The Pamplemint Punch with a fresh sprig of mint. Giving you all that bright light vitamin C… with a splash of bourbon!

This was the first year that Steve and I didn’t host a New Year’s party in a while. We had gone all out before, including a 90-person cocktail attire bash at his old rowhouse and a mimosa and waffle bar pajama party in our first apartment together.

That was a good one — Steve had so much Irish coffee over the course of that party that he was still energized by the time everyone left, and had cleaned the ENTIRE apartment (only 520 sq ft in total, but still) by the time I woke up. Meanwhile, I had just been congratulating myself on choosing a party theme that allowed me to wear cute PJs and be ready for bed at any moment. If your hubbies or roommates are neat freaks, I highly recommend caffeinating them during a big party. The payoff is great 😉

This New Year’s, right after planning a wedding and going on a honeymoon and traveling for the holidays, we were NOT up for hosting.

Luckily, one of my besties, Vida, was up to the task. She made a craft paper photo backdrop and a delicious spread of late night snacks (including melted bacon brie cranberry sandwiches, which were incredible) and all we had to do was BYO.

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