Friday Faves

photo 1 {stocking up on fall faves from trader joe’s}

Happy first fall Friday! I hope everyone has exciting plans for the weekend, ideally involving apple picking or a tailgate.  I’m attempting both – Husky game tomorrow, Honeycrisp picking on Sunday. Can’t wait to make some applesauce (and probably a crisp or two). The forecast is 75, but I might still be tempted to wear a flannel shirt and/or a plaid scarf. In the meantime, some highlights from my week and fun links from around the web. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

  • So excited for Lena Dunham’s book, which comes out on Tuesday. These little advice videos are hilarious.
  • How to cook brussels sprouts – just in case anyone needs a refresher.
  • This article makes me want to start a book club where we actually read books.
  • I think I might need this dress.
  • Big sale at J. Crew this weekend! Additional 40% off of sale items – I got a couple cute fall tops for myself, and some coordinating outfits for Cooper and his little cousin!

photo 4 {love this WS candle}

photo-42 {one of my favorite columns, in book form}

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{love this whole line – and the scrub smells divine}

photo-40 {my best bud cooper with his best bud freddie}

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Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

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Well, we’ve been into fall for three whole days now – can you believe my restraint in not posting 100 pumpkin recipes already? We’re still in that in-between stage, weather wise, but even though it’s not quite soup season, it’s still tomato season and I have a lot of tomatoes to use up.  We’re now twenty months into this blog and this is my tenth soup recipe – far and away my biggest “category.” But really, can you think of a better one-pot meal to get you through the cold and rainy months looming on the horizon?  My barista told me this morning he’s been waiting for the rain for the past five months – by February I’ll deny saying this, but I’m kind of with him, and this soup is one of the main reasons why.

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I thought I had found my favorite tomato soup many years ago – it’s easy, it’s (relatively) healthy, it lets me use up all of the tomatoes I have coming out my ears in August, and it’s from the Barefoot Contessa so you know it’s delicious.  But after making it a couple dozen times over the past month or so, I thought I would mix things up and look for a couple new recipes. And what do you suppose I found? Another Barefoot Contessa option.  It’s not radically different from the first one, but she roasts the tomatoes before adding them to the soup and it really deepens the tomato flavor.  And it calls for white onions rather than red, which means you can use the bags of pre-chopped onions from Trader Joe’s (I’ll do almost anything to avoid chopping onions). Ina never disappoints.

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Roasting is a great way to use up any tomatoes you may have leftover from your summer harvest – simply roast them with oiive oil, salt and pepper, freeze them (with their juices), and then use them for soup all winter long.  And once you run out of frozen tomatoes, roasting the not-so-delicious varieties that they sell at the supermarket in January will make them taste (almost) as good as your home grown ones. I think the basil also makes this soup extra yummy – it calls for sixteen times the amount of basil that the other soup does (sixteen times!! I did this math a couple times just to make sure that’s correct). I initially thought maybe the “four cups” was a typo – but it’s not and it’s amazing. You don’t even have to chop it, just pull the leaves from the stems and dump them in. Don’t skimp on the basil if you can help it (I did a full four cups the first time I made this and it was delicious, and then I was a little short the second time and while of course it was still yummy, I wished I had made the effort to go back to the store and get another bag).

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Add a can of tomatoes (San Marzano is ideal), a box of chicken stock (veggie stock or water to make it vegetarian), the basil and thyme, and then dump in the roasted tomatoes – including all the oil and juices that accumulated in the pan. Simmer for 40 minutes or so and then blend – you don’t even have to add cream (put the calories you save towards your grilled cheese). Ina tells you to use a food mill, but I don’t have one so I use my immersion blender. I suspect a Vitamix would work great as well, or a regular blender or food processor. This soup will freeze nicely – so I would suggest making a double batch, some for now and some for later. You’ll thank me the next time it’s nasty outside and you’re craving a grilled cheese and tomato soup (per the forecast, next week). Happy soup season!

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One year ago: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin granola 

Soup, previously: white bean and kale, split pea, cream of fresh tomato, pumpkin black bean, curried butternut squash, cauliflower leek, minestrone, roasted sweet potato and apple, red lentil

Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup, from The Barefoot Contessa

Yield: 6-8 servings

3 lbs ripe tomatoes (Ina suggests plum), sliced in half
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons gold olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups yellow onions, chopped (1 large/2 small)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, with juices
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or water

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the tomatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread mixture in one layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat butter and two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade or purée with an immersion blender (or in vitamix) until smooth.

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Friday Faves

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{last of the babies from my grandpa’s garden}

Happy last weekend of summer! Are you sad to see it end or soooooo ready for fall? I’m a little of the former but more of the latter – but I’m going to make a pitcher of this and just try to just appreciate the sunny weather while it lasts. I hope everyone has something fun on their agenda for the weekend.  I’m a little emotionally drained from the Mariners’ wildcard race (especially last night’s game!) and my fantasy loss on Monday night, but looking forward to some good baseball and football this weekend all the same. Some fun links and pics to get you through the work day:

  • Loving all of this career advice from some of my favorite people
  • Who doesn’t need more chocolate cake in their life?
  • And then an apple and fennel salad to offset it.
  • So much about Sex and The City I didn’t know!
  • I know this video came out awhile ago, but I saw it for the first time yesterday and it’s exactly how I feel about my little baby nephew (sob).

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{sugar cookies for baby cousin piper’s first birthday}

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{definitely the best way to be asked to be a bridesmaid!}

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{cold brew at home}

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{love this little guy and his funny sleep positions so much}

Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing

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As much as I love September, it’s a hard month for blog recipes because it’s not exactly clear what season we’re in. Technically, it’s still summer. It’s generally still pretty hot outside (at least most days). I’m still living in tank tops and flip flops. Yet the word “September” connotes back to school clothes, leaves changing, colder mornings, and basically all things fall. Peaches and tomatoes are on their way out, but I can’t bring myself to post (or even make) apple or pumpkin recipes until after the autumn equinox, which is a whole six days away.  So in the meantime, I just haven’t posted anything.  But then I had my friend Julie’s “cole slaw” the other night, and I was newly inspired.  If this salad had to pick a season, it’s definitely fresh enough to pick summer – but it’s not trying too hard to be seasonal. It’s perfect for a mid-September barbecue, but truthfully you could make it anytime.

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Julie is one of those people who, anytime she makes something you know it’s going to be good. You know this because she is good at everything she does. My mom always says Julie would have been the perfect pioneer woman (as opposed to herself, or either of her daughters, who wouldn’t have lasted a week on the Oregon Trail – we can barely go camping). Julie has five kids (and three adorable grandsons!), and still goes to Barre five days a week and makes dinner for her husband every night. How many people do you know that make an actual meal every night? I can count them on one hand. For those of us who need a little inspiration to make dinner even a few nights a week, however, this is the perfect salad – serve it alongside grilled chicken or fish (double the dressing recipe and use it as a marinade or glaze) and tell yourself you could have been a pioneer woman after all.

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Although the veggies take a little time to chop, this salad could not be easier. I say “salad” rather than “cole slaw” (which might be it’s technical name) because I detest cole slaw – or at least what I think of when I think of cole slaw, which is limp, soggy cabbage with disgusting, mayonnaise-y dressing, usually out of a bag or from a BBQ place (some other things I hate: mayonnaise, salad from a bag, BBQ). This salad could not be further from that, though – all the veggies are crisp and fresh and the dressing is made up of delicious things like peanut butter and soy sauce (using tamari makes it gluten free) and fresh ginger – and not a drop of mayonnaise. So, I’m calling it a salad, and like I said, it’s super easy. Whisk together all dressing ingredients, chop and toss the veggies, and that’s it.

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One year ago: oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookies

Salad, previously: couscouskale, soba noodle, arugula, cucumber melon, green bean

Cabbage Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing, from my friend Julie

For the dressing:
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

For the salad:
5 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (one large head will yield at least 5 cups)
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 cups shredded napa cabbage (I had to search for this at the grocery store – it looks more like a head of lettuce)
2-3 bell peppers (I used one red, one orange and one yellow but you could use any color(s) you like), cut into matchstick-sized strips
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick-sized strips
8 large green onions, cut into matchstick-sized strips
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

To make:
Combine all dressing ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth and creamy. Let sit at room temperature for thirty minutes (or while you chop your veggies, which will take about that long). Add all sliced and chopped veggies into a large bowl and toss to combine. You’ll need to use the biggest bowl you have, as this makes a ton (you might want to cut the recipe in half if you aren’t feeding a crowd or don’t want leftovers).  Toss salad with dressing just before serving (only dress what you plan to use immediately; veggies and dressing will keep well in the fridge for a few days if you store them separately).

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Friday Faves

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{haystack rock ~ cannon beach, oregon}

Hello, Friday! I hope everyone had a wonderful short week, and is looking forward to a relaxing (and football-filled!) weekend. I’m excited for the first Husky home game tomorrow (even if it is EPSN’s “upset alert” of the weekend – yikes), and for a Sunday filled with lots of good fantasy matchups (since my Hawks already killed it last night). Some fun links for your lunch hour:

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{quintessential food blogger “avocado toast” photo – just can’t help myself}

photo 2{daydreaming about my (future) hamptons beach house}

photo 2-11{french 76 at the whiskey bar}

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{coop’s first draft party – he was a little underwhelmed}

Ombré Tomato Bruschetta

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Happy September, everyone! Can you believe Labor Day has come and gone? It felt so early to me this year. I hope everyone had lovely and relaxing long weekends. And now we’re back in the grind, ugh. But on the bright side, in the words of the funniest person I follow on Instagram, “I was sad that summer was over. But I was happy that it was over for my enemies, too.” That made me laugh when I read that “chapter” in his book, and I laughed even harder when I saw it in my Instagram feed this morning (in between the seemingly endless “first day of preschool” pictures – not that we don’t all love the first day of preschool pictures!!).

Luckily, summer isn’t actually over quite yet, and we still have a few weeks of tomato season left.  This “recipe” (if you can even call it that) was on the cover of my Martha Stewart Living last July, and has literally been on my “to make” list since then. I’m not sure how or why it took me fourteen months to make it, as bruschetta is one of my summer staples, but for whatever reason (probably because I never had all of the right color tomatoes) it did.  I finally made it for a Labor Day BBQ last night and it was sooooooo delicious that I had to post it, even though it’s less of a “recipe” and more of exactly what it sounds like – tomatoes on grilled bread.  But with fresh ciabatta, ripe heirlooms, and good olive oil and salt, this is literally better than birthday cake.  

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There’s not much else I can tell you about this, except that I really hope you make it. My only notes would be: (1) I really do think quality of ingredients makes a difference here – fresh bread, ripe tomatoes, good olive oil and sea salt; and (2) don’t be scared of the raw garlic – I’m usually not a fan, but I’ve read so many recipes telling me to rub toast with garlic cloves that I just went for it and I feel like it added a necessary kick.  Aside from that, it’s all pretty self-explanitory.  This whole thing literally took me ten minutes, including toasting and slicing (and photographing!). It would be delicious with fresh mozzarella, although it doesn’t need it at all.  I thought the basil made it look pretty, but it would be fine without it – and that is saying something, as I think everything is better with basil. You don’t even need to do the ombré part if you don’t have the right colored tomatoes (except then it would just be plain bruschetta, which isn’t quite as fun). Basically what I’m saying is, we only have a few short weeks of summer left, let’s take advantage of them with ombré bruschetta, whatever way you want to do it. Just don’t wait fourteen months like me.

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Tomato Ombré on Grilled Bread, from Martha Stewart Living

1 loaf good rustic bread, such as Ciabatta
2 cloves garlic, split in half crosswise (I only needed one)
2-3 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, in a variety of colors
Good olive oil
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil, for garnish (optional)

Slice loaf of bread in half lengthwise, and either grill on the barbecue (like Martha) or place under the broiler until toasty (like me). Rub the toasted (cut) side of the bread all over with the garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Slice tomatoes as thin as possible. Drizzle any accumulated juices over the bread, and then arrange the tomatoes on top of the bread according to color.  Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper (Martha gives you amounts of oil and salt and pepper to use, I just kind of eyeballed it).  Garnish with basil, if desired. Cut into wedges and serve.

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