Sage and Sausage Stuffing with Crispy Hazelnut Crust for Thanksgiving

Sage and Sausage Stuffing with Crispy Hazelnut Crust for Thanksgiving

Anyone else thinking about their Thanksgiving menu yet? My husband and I are celebrating on a couple of different days this year, and one of those days is next Sunday, so I wanted to get a head start on some Thanksgiving prep today. The challenge: stuffing. Stuffing is one of those things I'm never super excited about initially, because I feel like there are only so many ways to make stuffing taste different, but then I remembered it's just an excuse to spoon a bunch of bread into your mouth! Let's get started.

A Sugar Spice Latte to make for the holiday season

A Sugar Spice Latte to make for the holiday season

My hot take: Just about every beverage is better warm, and especially coffee. I opt for hot lattes and just about any other coffee drink over cold ones 90 percent of the time, even when the temperature outside is creeping on 100 degrees.

I love lattes because you can make them much hotter than you can regular coffee. Sure, regular coffee starts out all steamy, but add a dollop of creamer and a packet of sugar, and you’re three stirs away from a lukewarm cup. No, thanks. A latte is espresso mixed with hot milk. But it’s not even the espresso I prefer over regular brewed coffee; it’s the steamed milk. Guys, I even have a small milk steamer at home, so I can make some foamy, steamy milk at a moment’s notice.

I love trying new coffee recipes at home. One of my recent creations is this Sugar Spice Latte ...

How to use a bunch of basil

How to use a bunch of basil

Last night, my husband walked into the kitchen from the backyard with an arm full of basil. He plopped it on the kitchen counter, where it sat bright green and super fragrant, taking up almost the entire counter.

We have had this "problem" for years now, ever since we started growing basil in the small backyard of the first place we ever lived together. Basil grows like crazy. If you think you can't grow things (it me), buy a basil plant and water it every once in a while and it will flourish. But then it keeps flourishing. Until you have enough to line your entire kitchen counter. 

So I decided that instead of freezing it or putting it in the fridge then forgetting about it till it turns brown, I should figure out a way to smartly use it up. 

Farmers market season means Ginger Vegetable Stir Fry

ta_column110117 (4).jpg

It’s farmers market season in Tampa Bay! We take what we can get here in Florida, where fall mostly means highs of 85 degrees (ugh) and slightly less humidity. But it also brings the outdoor markets, where you can discover some produce gems if you're looking in the right places.

stirfry (2).jpg

I stopped by St. Petersburg’s Saturday Morning Market recently and came across the Little Pond Farm tent, selling produce from the farm in Bushnell, Fla.

They mostly had greens - spinach, arugula, thick collard-looking stalks. But tucked throughout the damp bags of lettuce were other treasures. For one, patty pan squash, a squat, fat version of the vegetable that comes across as a big sturdier and less watery than their longer counterparts. Plus they are just flat-out adorable.

Next up: a couple knobs of light pink baby ginger (do I only buy foods that are cute?, I began to wonder), a bit less pungent than the full-grown stuff but still delightfully gingery. And near the register, I found pea shoots, delicate little tendrils that come from the pea plant and offer just a hint of that flavor.

stirfry (1).jpg

At home, I figured these would all do well in a stir fry of some sort. I chopped up the ginger with some garlic, a quick way to boost flavor in just about any dish. And I decided to load the thing with lots of veggies — you can use really whatever you have on hand — and Asian flavors.

The dish would be good with some soy-glazed chicken on top, but it’s not really necessary. I plopped a last-minute garnish of pickled red onions on top, which I tend to have on hand in my fridge and you should too because honestly they are perfect and vinegary on anything.

ta_column110117 (8).JPG

Ginger Vegetable Stir Fry

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
1 cup diced squash, any kind
½ cup diced carrots
½ cup chopped broccoli
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil, or 2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 cup cooked brown rice, or other grain like farro or quinoa
Handful of fresh pea shoots
Pickled red onion, for garnish
Add ginger, garlic and olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes, until very fragrant. 
Add squash, and stir, cooking for about 1 minute. Add carrots and broccoli and stir again. Add soy sauce, sriracha, sesame oil or tahini, and peanut butter, and stir well to coat the vegetables. Cook for about 8 minutes to let the flavors combine and the vegetables soften. 
Stir in cooked brown rice, then turn the heat off. Divide mixture among serving bowls, then top with pea shoots and pickled red onion.
Serves 2 to 4, depending how hungry you are.

Easy, last-minute foods for a festive Halloween spread

Easy, last-minute foods for a festive Halloween spread

I have been feeling major Halloween vibes the past week. I think it's because the weather here in Florida finally decided to start feeling more like the end of October and less like the end of July, and between sweaters and bowls of candy and spooky decorations in my neighborhood, things are cozy AF right now. 

My husband and I are complete suckers for all holidays, and years ago we started really going in on  an elaborate Halloween food spread. Okay, maybe elaborate is the wrong word. More like supremely cheesy treats, you know like pizzas and hot dogs that look like mummies and apples cut to resemble vampire teeth. IT IS SO GOOFY AND SO FUN. 

Last year, we got married 3 days before Halloween, so our Oct. 31 was a real last-minute affair, notably lacking in any Witch Fingers, a.k.a. carrots. This year, there is still time. Here are five things I'll be making this evening as we prepare to hand out candy to the many kids who traipse around our Halloween-obsessed 'hood.