Ployes with Blueberry-Rhubarb Chia Seed Jam

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I was first introduced to ployes several years ago at a ukulele breakfast at Local Sprouts Cafe in Portland, Maine. While a ukulele breakfast doesn’t exactly evoke thoughts of Maine, the ployes originated in Maine and is essentially our version of a buckwheat pancake.

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Hot Fudge Sauce and Homemade Brown Sugar

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This hot fudge sauce would be more accurately titled if it was named hot sludge sauce. This is a deep, dark, and glossy mud pit, one that I would only ever want to wade through if I had my Bean boots on. With only about 10 minutes of prep and total cook time, this dessert is a no-brainer for a fast crowd pleaser. There’s nothing better than the warm contrast of fudge to a heaping bowl of ice cream. Top with sprinkles, add nuts or whipped cream, or eat it plain if you like. Anyway you choose, I promise that it will bring you to your happy place.

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Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

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If ever a food has intimidated me, it was the artichoke. I confess that up until I made this, I had never eaten an artichoke that was not from a can. It essentially looks like an armadillo, layered with the same scale-like protective coat. I had no idea how to penetrate it. But once I saw an artichoke recipe from Cooking for Keeps, with a beautifully illustrated tutorial on how to tackle this thing, I had to try it. And, it really wasn’t that hard. It actually was the most fun I’ve ever had prepping a vegetable. It’s almost like dissecting something in anatomy class.

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Brussels Sprouts Prosciutto and Fried Shallot Pizza

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Homemade pizza is one of my favorite dinner party picks. I usually make the dough, provide the sauce and cheese, and ask each guest to bring their favorite toppings. When I was on the Frisbee team at Hopkins, essentially all of our team dinners involved pizza. I recently had a reunion with four of my favorite Frisbee girls, and to keep up with tradition, we made homemade pizza.

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Sweet Potato Tots

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I love to eat food with my hands-too bad it’s not always a socially acceptable practice. When I’m at home, by myself, I love to eat waffles with my hands, tearing off large chunks and dipping them into syrup. I’ve also been known to double fist hefty slices of pecan pie, and, if I had it my way, would always eat sushi sans chop sticks (partly due to my inability to use this utensil). These sweet potato tots are perfect for me-they essentially require the use of hands. Better yet, I’ve never seen anyone use a fork to eat their tater tots. There’s something about picking up one of these nuggets that just makes me smile. They’re slightly firm on the outside and have the perfect amount of give on the inside. They’re plump nuggets of happiness, especially when dunked in either Sriracha or pesto mayo.

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Chunky Maple Peanut Butter

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Peanut butter is possible my favorite food (my go-to sandwich is peanut butter-banana-fluff on cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread). It can dress up the plainest of foods: rice cakes or celery (with plenty of ants of course), enhance foods that already taste good: these peanut butter steak tacos are awesome, or partner with foods that would otherwise be lonely: what is jelly, chocolate, or apple without a heavy slather of peanut butter?

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