Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Orzo With Roasted Vegetables & Goat Cheese

I think comfort foods are usually associated with winter months, right? It's cold, it's snowy, you don't leave the house that often, and you want something warm and filling to make you feel good. Now that spring is here, how about some lighter comfort food? I've been making this for years and I can't for the life of me remember where the recipe came from since I just have it written on notebook paper.

So if this is your recipe, feel free to claim it! I love making this because it's easy, it's yummy, and it involves cheese. The quality of the produce in the grocery stores is starting to pick up and I love that this dish includes so many different colors. I did my shopping for this at the new Whole Foods in Brookline, which is just as wonderful as I expected it to be. It's teeny tiny by Whole Foods standards, but I think it's perfect for the neighborhood. And the produce is far superior to Trader Joe's. Soz, Joe. And speaking of new grocery stores, who's been to the Bee's Knees Supply Company? It's the new gourmet grocery store and deli in the Fort Point neighborhood and it's amazing. I spent my entire lunch break there a few weeks ago and I could have spent an entire pay check as well. Among the things I came home with was this box of farro orzo. Score.

This is so easy. Here are the rest of the details:

1 sweet pepper, cubed
3/4 lb. zucchini, cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1-2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup orzo (whole wheat, farro, whatever you prefer)
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1-2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
4 ounces of goat cheese

Preheat your oven to 425. As always when cutting vegetables for roasting, try to make sure all of the pieces are the same size. You don't want some tiny piece burning and ruining your whole game. Put the chopped pepper, zucchini, and onion in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and salt and pepper and toss them with your hands so everything is evenly coated.

The colors just make me happy. Definitely try to use an orange or yellow pepper for this recipe. Not only for the color, but they're right down the middle of the sweetness road of peppers. Green = not sweet enough; Red = too sweet.

Pop these in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, tossing once. As I've mentioned before, my oven is off so these only took about 25 minutes. Just keep an eye on them. If they start to get too dark, then yank them out. While the veggies are roasting, cook your orzo according to package directions. Chop and de-seed your tomatoes.

I always de-seed tomatoes when I cook with them. I don't think any dish needs the extra moisture. Plus the seed part is kind of slimey and gross. You can just use your hands and pick out the seeds. Messy, but worth it.

Chop your basil too. Take your time and get your nose in there because the smell of fresh basil is one of the best smells in life. My go-to meal when it's too hot to move let alone cook is a caprese salad with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I'll even get a little crazy and add some peaches or burrata. Don't knock the peaches until you try them. Their sweetness is amazing with mozzarella and balsamic.

Take your vegetables out of the oven and put them in a large bowl. They should be charred, but not too charred. These are a little too "done," but no harm no foul. Then just add the cooked orzo, tomatoes, basil, and crumble the goat cheese in with your fingers. Four ounces of goat cheese may be a little much if you're not a big fan of it so feel free to add less. You'd be crazy if you're not a big fan of goat cheese, but to each their own.

I like to drizzle the balsamic vinegar on right before serving. If you're going to have leftovers, then I suggest leaving the balsamic until after you reheat. It brightens it up perfectly. This is creamy, and tangy, and the vegetables are sweet and smokey. Yum, yum, yum. You can use any pasta with this too and it can definitely be served at room temperature, which makes it perfect for barbecues or pot lucks. And it's vegetarian friendly :)

What's your go-to barbecue side dish? Please tell me you like goat cheese. And lastly, do you get as excited by new grocery stores as I do?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spotlight: Wild Soul Sunglasses

I think we're finally ready to talk about something happy again, yes? Good. I've been in a charitable mood lately with all of the goings on in my great city so I'm going to ride that wave for a bit. The weather in my neck of the woods is going to be beautiful and SUNNY for the weekend so let's talk about sunglasses. I was clued in to Wild Soul sunglasses recently and I'm thrilled to share them with you. Not only are they stylish and affordable, but a portion of every sale goes to the charity of your choice. It's a win/win!

Wild Soul Owl sunglasses in black | Image via Wild Soul/youngrepublic.com
From the designer:
"Wild Soul was created on the premise that there are causes greater than our own that can and must be supported. We are dedicated to giving supporters of Wild Soul a platform to help the causes that are close to their heart.

Wild Soul's range of sunglasses which are all named after untamed animals (the Lion, the Owl, the Elephant, and the Rhino) help customers "be wild" while helping them "fulfill their soul", giving a portion of each sale to a charity of the customer's choice. "We decided the best way to succeed was to allow the customer to choose where their money will go."
The charities are no joke either. Habitat For Humanity International, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the Animal Welfare Institute are just a few of the many great causes you can choose from. Each pair is an even $100.00, which is a great price point for designer sunglasses. For a long time I eschewed buying designer sunglasses because I was always losing, stepping on, or breaking the el cheapo pairs I picked up from who knows where. If you spend more on something, you're more likely to care for it and I'm happy to say that all pairs of designer sunglasses I've purchased have remained in tact.

Wild Soul Elephant sunglasses in yellow | Image via Wild Soul/youngrepublic.com
Wild Soul Lion sunglasses in spotted ivory | Image via Wild Soul/youngrepublic.com
Wild Soul sunglasses are also unisex, so you can buy a pair for your significant other and share them. Or just wear them most of the time, which is probably what I would do. The three pairs pictured above are my favorites, but every pair is dope, as Cher Horowitz would say. Have a look at the rest of the collection at Young Republic. Hopefully I can score a pair and do a good deed before my trip to San Francisco in June!

What's your favorite pair of Wild Soul sunglasses? Does a charity donation make you all the more excited about making purchases, or what?

Speaking of charity - You can donate to The One Fund Boston here. The city is actually doing okay I think. The portion of Boylston Street where the bombs went off reopened yesterday and was awash with people trying to get it back to normal. I am astounded by how Bostonians have come together in the wake of this awful, awful tragedy. I haven't even seen anyone get mad on the T lately, and that's no small feat. The victims and their families will need help for a long time to come, though, so please donate anything you can to The One Fund.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where Do We Go From Here?

One of my favorite days of the year turned in to one of the saddest days I've ever experienced. I still don't know if I understand or comprehend what happened. My heart is broken for Boston and all of the wonderful people who have dared to enjoy the Boston Marathon over the years. How dare we enjoy people from different countries, cultures, ages, life circumstances and difficulties come together in this city to run the greatest foot race of all time. How dare we.

I have lived along the marathon route between mile 23 and 24 for the past five years and Marathon Monday is without question my favorite day of the year. My sister is a great marathoner and if not for her I may not be as interested or involved, but I'm sure it would be something I'd enjoy. I love a party and Marathon Monday is the greatest party Boston has. It's our most special day of the year. I make fun of Boston a lot, but I've lived here for over nine years and I've come to love it. I think you earn that as a Bostonian - the right to make fun of it. You learn to hate its faults. And then celebrate them five minutes later. And then probably hate them again by the time the night is over. Boston is Boston. You can't change it. You just have to learn to be okay with it. Everyone's hated a Bostonian. Everyone's probably loved one too.

Someone or some people wanted to kill in Boston yesterday and they succeeded. As I write this we don't know who or what was responsible for this, but what we do know is that is was terrorism. This is a global event. People from all over the world were in this city for the marathon. This was an attack on the world. Not just Boston. But it happened here; in our backyard. I spent seven years in higher education trying to figure out or at least gain a better understanding of why people do things like this. And I never really came up with an answer despite the two large, etched pieces of paper and multiple thousands of dollars in debt that would suggest that I have. I do know, however, that I don't believe in evil. I don't think I can articulate that further at this point, but it's just not a concept I believe in. I have faith in all of the branches of law enforcement who are working so hard to achieve justice here; whatever that justice may be.

I think it was Katherine Switzer, the first woman to ever run the Boston Marathon, who said, "If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon." Her words were validated tenfold yesterday. I don't know what the coming weeks or months will bring in Boston, but I know that next year on April 21st I will be at my spot at mile 24 screaming my head off for all of our runners because Boston and our special day can't be broken.

Boston, you're my home.

Monday, April 8, 2013

April Life Happenings

Clockwise from top left: The Public Garden on a sunny day; Anthropologie's spring fashion show in Cambridge; the lovely and talented Lianne La Havas; Jason Wu in conversation at the ICA.

Spring is here! I'm anticipating not having to wear a winter coat. After such a hideous winter I just really want to enjoy the warm weather before it becomes oppressive and I don't want to be outside anymore. I can't wait to eat and drink on patios. I'm really looking forward to Marathon Monday as well. The Boston Marathon is the biggest sporting event in the city and I just happen to live directly on the route at about mile 24. It's a great day to have friends over and have some adult beverages while watching thousands of people accomplish something major!


I just finished a sweet little book called Frances and Bernard. It's written entirely in letters to and from the main characters and the supporting characters. It's still perfectly descriptive, though, and the writing is beautiful. It's really all about love and how being open to it can sometimes be scary. It's also about trusting your instincts. 4 stars. I just started This One Is Mine by Maria Semple, who wrote Where'd You Go Bernadette, which I absolutely loved. I have high hopes for it!

Relieved About...

I got nothin'. I'm still majorly stressed in some areas, but I'm trying to not let it affect all of me. 


The second season of Girls. I don't have HBO so through the kindness of friends and their log in information I am finally watching this. It would be accurate to say I have a love/hate relationship with Girls. I hate Hannah. Hannah not Lena. I think Lena Dunham is wonderful, but Hannah is just awful. There is nothing I like about her. But the show itself is brilliant and I can't wait to finish the season. I also really like Adam. I know, I know. But I do!

Working On...

Planning my summer trip to San Francisco! Woohoo! I've never been and it's been the number one domestic destination on my travel list for a while now so I'm thrilled that I finally have the trip booked. Now we just need to figure out where to go/eat/drink/do/and see! Alcatraz is number one. I love prisons. We can talk about that later. Please feel free to leave recommendations for me!


Sangria. 'Nuff said.

Listening To...

I've been blasting the new Vampire Weekend single Diane Young since I heard it a few weeks ago. If their entire new album is full of stuff like that, it will be a favorite. I saw Lianne La Havas Saturday night and while she was amazing, I was slightly more intrigued by the opener, Jamie N Commons. I had never heard of him, but I was totally impressed. He's got a modern Joe Cocker sound and he also happens to be British. How Brits can do American Southern Rock so well is something that will probably always blow my mind!

I hope everyone has a great month!

P.S. I think we all know that Google Reader is going bye bye soon so follow me via Bloglovin! 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spotlight: Charlotte Olympia Cosmic Collection

If you follow me on Twitter (which you can do here), then you may be aware that I have a keen interest in astrology. I'm not a spiritual or religious person so astrology fills that void for me a little bit. I like to think that there's another force at work and where religion has never made sense to me, astrology does. Why? I don't know. Maybe because there's a fun aspect to it? Probably more so because I am everything my Gemini sun sign says and more and always have been! Susan Miller is my go-to for all things astrology related. Her monthly forecast on Astrologyzone.com is my guide for pretty much everything. She is amazing at what she does and being the recipient of one of her personalized books, I can attest to how seriously and thoughtfully she takes her work.

Gemini is the sign of the twins, which makes it that much more special to me because I am a twin. Yes, even though Kelly and I look nothing alike and have personalities like night and day sometimes, we did share a womb for around 8 1/2 months. So it should come as no surprise that I love all things twins, most of all being a Gemini. Where am I going with all of this? Charlotte Olympia's new line of zodiac themed accessories, of course!

Gemini flats $695 / Image via Netaporter.com
Gemini flats $695 / Image via Netaporter.com
Perspex Gemini clutch $995 / Image via Netaporter.com
These are LUSH! The price points are certainly not anything I'll be able to afford in the near or probably distant future, but they sure are nice to look at! Charlotte Dellal, the genius behind Charlotte Olympia, is one of the premiere shoe designers right now and I think she deserves a lot of attention. Her Kitty flats can be seen on just about every PYT in Hollywood and her trademark Dolly platforms add so much interest to a look. Also of note are the gold spiderwebs on the sole of each shoe. Charlotte's Web. How charming!

Dolly platforms $945 / Image via Netaporter.com
I'm almost jealous that I'm not a Taurus because the bull is amazing. Zodiac signs that are next to each other are typically not compatible, but this Gemini can get on board with this Taurus.

Taurus flats $695 / Image via Netaporter.com
The Cancer crab is another standout. And another incompatible sign for me! Maybe Charlotte's on to something here. Get the Gemini to accept other signs via accessories. I am that simple.

Cancer clutch $995 / Image via Netaporter.com
You can see the full range of Charlotte Olympia's Cosmic Collection on their website and also pre-order there. Some styles are available now at Net-A-Porter.

What do you think? Are these too out there for you or would you give your right arm for them like I would? And how do you feel about astrology? Is it just a bit of fun or does Mercury retrograde have you running for the hills?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Vegetarian Week #3

Last week I did my third vegetarian week of the year and this was kind of a tough one. Not in that I craved meat, but I didn't do a very good job of eating things that would keep me full. I'm still trying to get an understanding of how much protein I need without eating meat. As you can imagine, after 30 years of being a carnivore, it's tough!

I've been really into kale salads lately. Who hasn't? I feel like kale is the buzziest of buzz food items lately. I really like bringing kale salads to work for lunch because I can make it the night before and put dressing on it and it won't be a soggy mess by the time I eat it the next day. In fact, I think kale is better when it's had a chance to absorb whatever dressing I put on it. It loses some of the bitterness and stiffness. 

I, of course, pulled this salad recipe from Pinterest. It just looked so good. It includes kale, pinto beans, raw almonds, carrots, dried apricots, and grana padano cheese with a simple dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. I added some sliced avocado earlier in the week as well, but I can only eat so much plain avocado before I get sick of it. I could eat a bucket of guacamole, but a plain avocado makes me gag a little. Blah.

This was a pretty good sized salad with two different proteins - the beans and the cheese - but it just didn't keep me that full. How to have a salad without chicken or tuna and stay full is definitely something I hope to figure out by the time my little vegetarian experiment is over. Dinner, I'm happy to say, was much more of a success this week.

I was thrilled to make another one of the recipes from Meatless and I sure picked a good one.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Parsley-Walnut Pesto (Serves 4)

12 ounces of whole wheat pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, etc.)
2 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 walnuts, plus more coarsely chopped for serving
1/4 grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 garlic clove
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 ounces baby spinach
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid; drain the pasta and return it to the pan.
2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree the parsley, whole walnuts, cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and the water until it forms a paste. If you have a large food processor with a feeder tube, drizzle the olive oil in with the processor running, about 1 minute. If not, remove the lid and add the olive oil and process until everything is combined. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the pesto, 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and the spinach to the pasta in the pot and toss to combine. Thin with more of the pasta water if needed. Serve sprinkles with chopped walnuts, cheese, and red pepper flakes.

This is YUMMY! And so beyond easy. You do need a food processor and if you can't afford one of the big, high capacity ones, just get this mini one from Cuisinart like me. It handled this just fine. Side note - when I bought mine a few years ago I don't think it came in other colors. I am not happy about this because I would like a green one to match my mixer. Boo.

Anyway, this is a great dinner and when eaten with a side salad is perfectly filling. The parsley is a nice departure from a traditional basil pesto. It's a little bit spicy like arugula, but it adds a lot to the dish. There are so many different ways to make pesto. You can pretty much construct a pesto roulette wheel of greens, herbs, nuts, and cheese and know with any spin it will come out with a great combination.

Aside from having issues with staying full after meals, I had one tiny slip up. I attended a fashion show on Thursday night and downed a little piece of flatbread with bacon on it without even thinking. Like I said, after a carnivorous 30 years it's hard to remember to not eat meat! The flatbread was really delicious though... oops.

Do you have any tips for staying full while not eating animal proteins? What about pesto - what's the best combination you've ever tried?