winter

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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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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Blizzard chic

Just because I’m not planning to emerge from a pile of blankets this weekend, doesn’t mean I don’t want to look cute doing it:

 

  1. Blanket scarf: I have a similar, now sold out plaid scarf from Banana Republic. Mine was navy and citron, but I think this captures the same cozy & dark look. Regardless of the color, I plan to burrito myself in this scarf all the blizzard long.
  2. Slippers: These Ugg slippers come  in normal colors too, but I couldn’t resist the icy blue. Or the boot style that you can flip up over your ankles.
  3. Leggings: We all have 1000 pairs of basic black leggings. These have a thin seam up the front of each leg. It’s the little things.
  4. Knee high socks: I especially like the olive green heel and toe on these.
  5. Sweater: Love the shawl neck and cardigan style on a weekend like this, perfect for layering.
  6. Sweater again: Don’t you know it’s a REAL blizzard? This fair isle is so apres ski chic that maybe you’ll forget you have cabin fever after 3 days at home.

Stay warm!

 

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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Everyday winter essentials

Like clockwork every winter, my lazy, cozy, soup-guzzling couch potato mode sets in. That old familiar I-can’t-leave-the-house-my-skin-is-too-dry feeling. After a few years of walking and metroing to work in the freezing winds, and spending more than my fair share of nights avoiding happy hour plans just to cuddle up at home, I have found a few tried & true products to keep me perky during the winter months!

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