Welcome to my house, please don’t lick the walls…

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

As if it wasn’t obvious enough that my life is immersed in culinary culture, it is particularly apparent when you see all of the jars of paint samples in my house. See, my husband and I have been trying to agree upon a color for our living room (and kitchen and bedroom) so we’ve been buying sample after sample to test out on the walls.

Our living room now boasts some fun (and delicious sounding) modern art:

tasty sounding paint colors

Oh cornbread…you looked so good on paper, wow, were you ugly on the wall.

After a long uninspiring battle with various shades of yellow, we have changed tactics and moved on to blues. Last weekend my husband suggested I paint an even larger section of the living room with sea salt (so far the front-runner) to see if we both still like it.

To get my strength (and sanity) up, I made a smoothie. A fabulous smoothie, in fact. I based it on the banana almond smoothie from the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse but added a few extra goodies to coax it into excellence.

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Farro & Edamame: A new adventure with an ancient grain

Farro Pasta with Edamame, Almond and Mint Pesto

Farro Pasta with Edamame, Almond and Mint Pesto

I am an out-and-proud farro devotee. For the past few years I’ve been borderline obsessed with the ancient grain — utilizing it in as many applications as possible and encouraging other people to give it a try. So I was pretty excited when my husband recently brought me home a pound of farro pasta (which was especially sweet as he is not as enamoured with farro as I am).

Farro Pasta

Farro pasta — love its pretty color!

The pasta had been sitting in my cupboard, patiently waiting, while I investigated online looking for a perfect debut recipe. Finally I decided on a winner, this recipe for Farro Pasta with Edamame Pesto from The Kitchn. Given how well-known this web magazine is, I felt comfortable trusting their opinion and excited to try something new.

And I’m happy I did because this a recipe I’ll be utilizing again and again. I love different forms of pesto — broccoli pesto in particular, yum! — but hadn’t tried this combination before.

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Herb & Garlic Rubbed Poussin with Pistachio Relish

Herbed Poussin with Pistachio Relish

One of my favorite work stories is the day I got a call from a guy who wanted to buy some possum meat. We get that type of call all the time — people looking for beaver, lion and squirrel — so this request was not too strange. I told him we did not sell possum, expecting that to be the end of it.

Instead he started to argue with me, saying that he was looking at our price list online and possum was on there as being a “stock item.” Baffled, I asked him for the item number. He gave it to me and I could barely contain my laughter as I said, “Sir, that’s not possum, it’s poussin — baby chickens.”

That happened years ago but it still makes me giggle.

For anyone else unfamiliar with poussin, they are basically a chicken a few weeks younger than a game hen. Once processed and packed, they weigh about 15-17 oz, making them ideal for a one-bird-per-person dinner.

I rarely ever buy them, but I had a recipe that I wanted to try out and it called for 2 each 3# chickens. Since I was only cooking for two people, I figured two poussin would work just fine.

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A biscotti by any other name…would be a tozzetti?

Tozzetti

Plate full of biscotti tozzetti

I am still slightly uncertain as to why this cookie is not a biscotti. After all, they are both “twice cooked” which is the general translation of biscotti. I’ll concede there is a slight difference in the dough. When I’ve made biscotti, the dough tends to be drier and some light kneading is usually required to get the logs properly formed. The tozzetti batter was much looser and after its first baking, looked more “free form” than traditional biscotti.

But presenting your co-workers with cookies that look like biscotti, while telling them they are not in fact biscotti, makes you feel a little silly.

And yet I’m happy I trusted Bon Appetite’s recipe because, no matter what you call these unassuming crunchy cookies, they are delicious. I’m a sucker for any kind of sweet that goes best with coffee because then you can eat it for breakfast without an ounce of guilt. These were perfect dunked into my morning cup of joe.

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Homemade Nocino: Green walnuts & boozy infusions

Nocchino

Usually when I think about infusing booze with something, it’s fruit. Take last year’s rumtopf experiment for example. But this year my husband convinced me to try something different – a green walnut infusion, known by Italians as nocino.

I’ve had nocino before (from a batch my husband made) and wasn’t too impressed. The flavor was interesting, full of spices and citrus notes, but it was served straight up it and burned like firewater. I like things boozy but I can’t handle things that are that strong. I found out later it was made from Everclear — no wonder!

This time around my husband wanted to make it with vodka instead which was much more appealing to me. He also said he wanted to play around with the finished liqueur, so instead of serving it up we could mix it into ice cream bases or cocktails. Mentioning boozy ice cream is pretty much the way to my heart so it was an easy sell.

A hundred and one green walnuts later, we got to work:

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Granola Bars vs White Bean Blondies: Not much of a battle

Homemade Cherry Almond Granola Bars

Homemade Cherry Almond Granola Bars

There’s a definite line between good healthy food and bad healthy food. I’ve been on a kick recently to try to make things healthier (yeah, yeah, New Year’s resolutions) and it’s had some interesting moments. Good things have come of it — I’ve discovered that I really love flax seeds, that baking with whole wheat flour isn’t scary and that coconut oil is possibly the best thing ever.

But bad decisions have also been made.

Have you ever cooked something so singly terrifying that you instantly feel ashamed of yourself? I recently traumatized my co-workers with a batch of (oh god Sean — please don’t judge me for this!) white bean blondies. Yes. I said it, white. bean. blondies. As in I took something that should have been filled with butter, sugar and eggs and used a can of pureed white beans instead.

I even used a well-tested recipe filled with comments like “no one ever guessed there were beans in here” and “these taste better than the real thing.” Those people are liars. They tasted exactly like beans — trust me, they weren’t fooling anyone. And even though I placed a disclaimer by the offering noting that it was both “vegan and gluten-free” (which really should have been enough of a warning), I was still a little worried I was going to get lynched.

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