Sausage and Pepper Bites

sausage and pepper bites

The past year has been kind of nuts.  One year ago Chad and I were married, we went on a honeymoon to Africa, attended EIGHT (of nine) weddings, we found a new apt and moved, all while trying to figure out what our new married-normal would be.  On top of that Chad and I both underwent stressful job searches and both recently started new jobs.  Also, since there’s no rest for the weary, we decided to buy an apartment. SO, today I’m going to take a pause (the week after wedding #8) to write this post in celebration of the big news that we are first time homeowners!  Now I know your wondering why Sausage and Pepper Bites are relevant to my new homeownership.  Well,  the fact is, Forage and the Feast is making a big move.  One that I have very mixed feelings about and I’m saddened to announce that I will no longer be a NYC resident.  That’s right – we are jumping the river and making the move to Hoboken.  Ok ok, Hoboken is the NJ borough of NYC and my commute to work will MAYBE be five minutes longer and we have parking, a 1,000 sqft private backyard (grilling!!!), and a fairly large kitchen, but it’s just not NYC.  So in order to get myself mentally ready for the move I made these Sausage and Pepper Bites.  Hoboken is/was an Italian immigrant town, home of Frank Sinatra, it’s in NJ (Sopranos, Jersey Shore, etc), and when I think of classic New Jersey Italian food I think of sausage and peppers.

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Shishito Peppers with Lime and Agave

shishito peppers with lime and agave

When Chad and I go out to eat, nine times out of ten we go out for asian food.  Whether it’s Sushi, Chinese, Ramen, Thai or Korean we love it all.  Since we moved to the East Village we’ve become huge fans of Japanese food.  There’s a little area in the East Vill that has a high concentration of Japanese restaurants.  I’m not only talking about sushi (that’s a given and we eat it at least once a week) but we’ve discovered ramen, soba, izakaya, yakitori, shabu-shabu, udon, and the list goes on.  Every Japanese restaurant specializes in a different cuisine and we’ve had so much fun trying a new one each time we eat out.  Like so much fun that we are semi-mulling over the idea of a trip to Japan this year.  Trip halfway across the world just to eat? I think so!   I first tried Shishito peppers at a ramen restaurant and fell in love.   And apparently the rest of New York has fallen too because I’ve seen them on several non-japanese menus AND I found them this week at the farmers market.  I’m smelling the start of a trend here people.   Actually, when I went back to the market a few days later to see if I could get another batch of Shishito they were sold out – so I think the trend has already begun.  So get trendy with me this week and try this recipe – it’s like totally in!

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Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagne I tried the carb free thing once and it just made me really cranky.  I exercise pretty frequently and my body needs carbs to run properly.  Or so I think.  I have friends that are as active as I am and they swear by going carb-free.   One day without carbs leaves me craving a giant bowl of pasta.  However, some carb-free meal alternatives intrigue me.  Like eating spaghetti squash instead of noodles with a bolognese sauce or cauliflower puree instead of mashed potatoes.  One carb-free alternative that I think I would particularly like is zucchini noodles.  You feed the zucchini through a device called a Spiralizer which produces spaghetti-like zucchini noodles that can be served with any sauce you like.  This sounds like something I would LOVE even though I’m already plotting a half and half zucchini and pasta mix.   The challenge is, I don’t own a Spiralizer and Chad said I can’t get one (such a grump).   So until I order one on amazon using the credit card I keep on the side for items Chad won’t let me buy (shoes, bags, clothes, and Spiralizers) I devised this great solution – Zucchini Lasagna!

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Roasted Garlic & Heirloom Tomato Focaccia

Heirloom Tomato Focaccia Bread

There are a few things that make me feel like a real NYC local – like my weekly grocery shopping at the farmer’s market, taking a morning jog along the East river, the fact that the famous Joe’s Pizza is my local pizza joint, and using any NYC public space as an extension of my living room.  There’s a beautiful park with a big grass lawn close to my apartment that I sometimes use for al fresco dining in the summer.   My lack of personal outdoor space has been remedied many times by this park.  It’s lovely to be there with my fellow New Yorkers and bask in the novelty of sitting on a blanket in the grass in Manhattan.   So the other night when my friend and I decided to have dinner in the park I jumped at the chance to make us a picnic friendly dinner.  I had just been to the market and it’s heirloom tomato peek season.  They have gorgeous tomatoes in every shape, size, and color.  This Roasted Garlic & Heirloom Tomato Focaccia is extra sweet from the juicy, ripe tomatoes and perfect to for your next meal – picnic or not!

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Fresh Corn Polenta with Steak, Parmesan, Arugula & Tomato

Fresh Corn Polenta with Steak

The realization that we’re halfway through August is making me feel a little panicy.  There’s just a few precious weeks of summer left and I feel like I’ve hardly touched the surface of everything I want to do.  I really need to go through my closet and make sure I wear all my whites and brights before Labor Day.  I need to get up early on the weekends and spend every free second I have soaking in the sun and swimming in the ocean.  I haven’t even taken my yearly happy hour trip to the Frying Pan or ANY roof-top bar… like what have I been doing!?  And most importantly I need to consume as many local summer vegetables as humanly possible before it’s too late.  I’ve been a little manic running from tent to tent at the market buying up every delicious veg that I can get my hands on.  I’m talking WAY more than any respectable couple could eat in a week.  But I NEED to – when I think of the slim pickings in mid-winter it me makes throw in a few extra zucchini before I even know what hit me.  If there is any local eat that I’m feeling particularly frantic about it’s CORN and TOMATOES.  I realize this is my second corn and tomato recipe, but corn and tomatoes ONLY taste good fresh-picked in the summertime and I need to enjoy them while I have them!  This Fresh Corn Polenta with Steak, Parmesan, Arugula & Tomato recipe is an awesome summer meal that highlights both corn and tomatoes beautifully.  Topped with steak right off the grill, Parmesan and arugula, it’s so good you’ll totally understand why I’m starting to panic!

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Homemade Local Berry Mini Pop-Tarts

Homemade local berry pop-tarts

I’ve really had the urge to bake something sweet and not so healthy.  The problem is, I have very little patience for all the preciseness and measurement that goes into baking.  After trying to be buttoned up at work all day, the idea of measuring a perfect cup of flower kinda makes me want to vom.  So for me, baking simplicity is key and store-bought, refrigerated pie crust is one of my favorite pre-made products.  Sometimes I make my own crust, but the store-bought kind is just so easy and tempting to use.  And let’s face it, it tastes just as good and comes out looking ten times better than one that I rolled out myself.  For this Homemade Local Berry Mini Pop-Tarts recipe, a store-bought crust is actually ideal. You know how when you try and re-create a store-bought product at home and it just doesn’t taste the same?  Well, since we use a crust that is store-bought, and we are recreating store-bought Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, this semi-homemade recipe tastes pretty darn close to the real thing.  The real thing is one of Kellogg’s top sellers for a reason – Pop-Tarts are DELICIOUS!

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Mexican Street Corn Wedge Salad

Mexican street corn wedge salad

I’m back from a two week hiatus!  Sometimes you just need a little break and summertime is the perfect time to do it.  I had a pretty awesome break – I just got back from ten days in Portugal and my goodness did I eat and drink my way through that country.  Between the cheese, olives, and bread served before every meal, and the fresh caught grilled seafood, I was in glutinous heaven.   The wine was cheap, plentiful, and delicious and I drank at least a carafe with every meal.  I’m pretty sure that life with lunches of fresh grilled squid kabobs and a glass of rose is way better than that of microwaved veggie burgers at my desk… sigh.   Even though a diet of cheese and seafood it literally all I could ask for in life, my one grievance was the lack of fresh vegetables.  Portuguese menus focus mostly on seafood or pork with a side a steamed potatoes.  Though delicious, when I got home I was dying for a giant American sized salad.  The day after we got back I went to the market to see what was fresh and I was reminded that in the two weeks I was gone we were launched into Jersey corn and tomato season – The best time of year as far as I’m concerned!  On top of that, there were about 30 different kinds of lettuce to choose from.  This Mexican Street Corn Wedge Salad recipe is made with 100% farmer’s market veggies and totally got me back on track after 10 days of a mainly seafood diet.  I’m really excited about this one people.  I’m so excited that I’m hardly thinking about the fact that I’m sitting in my windowless office rather than bathing in the sun on the beautiful beaches of the Portuguese Algarve…ok not really, but this salad’s ALMOST that good!
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Arugula Caprese Pasta Salad

Arugula Caprese Pasta Salad

In NYC we’re constantly dealing with crowds.  How could we not with 1.6 million people living in Manhattan plus those that commute in every day?  Sometimes you’re caught  trying to walk up the stairs on the subway or walk through Union Square and you’re trapped with hundreds of bodies all around you and there’s no place to go.  In such situations, I take deep breaths, imagine that I’m in a happier place, and thank god that I’m tall and breathing from a different plain of air than everyone else.  Chad, however, dose not have this ability and has huge anxiety when caught in a crowd.  He’s figured out drastic ways to avoid them like lining himself up in the subway so it lets out right at the foot of the stairs so he can bolt out before anyone else.  He also refuses to go to places that are guaranteed to be a mob scene.  Like Soho (specifically Broadway) on a beautiful Saturday, Times Square on any day, and any bar that you have to elbow your way through a crowd to get a drink.  He also doesn’t go to NYC grocery stores, especially not during the post-work rush hour.  Since I genuinely enjoy grocery shopping and I have the ability to transport myself to the French Alps while waiting on line at Trader Joe’s, grocery shopping predominately falls on me.  However, sometimes Chad will do something nice and bring me home a few goodies from the market.  It’s usually when I’m away for the weekend and he’s missing me, but he always seems to find something good.  This week, I was on a girls trip visiting a friend in Virginia Beach and I came home to this beautiful bouquet of farmer’s market arugula.  I know I’m kinda a freak but this arugula was so beautiful it might as well have been a giant bouquet of flowers.  So I figured I’d reward him with one of his favorite summertime foods – Pasta Salad.   You can thank Chad for the inspiration because boy is this Arugula Caprese Pasta Salad GOOOOD!

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Kale Caesar Salad with Crunchy Croutons

kale caesar salad

I find it really shocking that this is the first time I’ve made a Kale recipe for you.  A lot of people ask me after reading my posts “do you cook like that every night?”  Well the answer is, I cook “like that” at least 3 times a week.  Mon-Wed I usually cook, Thursdays are reserved for post-work happy hour that usually turns in to late night pizza, Friday and Saturday – being the weekend – are always toss ups, and Sunday, when I’m in the city I cook, or Chad and I will grab sushi on our way home from our weekend travels.  So the answer is – I eat well.  But I better eat well considering the amount of time per day that I devote to thinking about eating (like every second).  Chad often asks on a night I make a “regular” meal why I didn’t choose to photograph it for the blog.  Well I can’t photograph everything and sometimes the meals I make I consider to be run of the mill and not particularly special.  So what do I cook on my off nights from blogging?  Well most often, whatever it is, it involves Kale.  That’s why I’m so shocked that a Kale recipe has yet to grace the pages of this blog.  And there could be no other recipe to introduce my kale-loving self to you than this recipe for Kale Caesar Salad with Crunchy Croutons.

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Bird’s Nest Spaghetti

Bird's Nest Spaghetti

When I first moved into the city right after college I got a job working for a big ad agency.  I worked on their largest account and thought I was going to be living in the world of modern Mad Men.   We were constantly taken out to lunches and dinners at the best restaurants in the city and we were invited to big corporate parties with lots of celebrities and TV personalities.  It sounds like the greatest job ever except the actual work was monotonous, I often worked late into the night, and I was completely broke.  The entry level compensation was crap and I had New York City rent to pay.   When I look back on it now I don’t know how I survived.  But the fact that I did survive is something I am really proud of.  It’s one of those things that I can pull from in years to come and think – “If I survived back then, I can survive anything!”   Even though my funding was nil, I was still an enthusiastic foodie with a big appetite.  I hardly had the funds to feed myself let alone make elaborate meals, so I needed to get creative.  It turns out, with a small budget and little creativity you can eat quite well.  My favorite meal and weeknight go-to from that time is something I call Bird’s Nest Spaghetti.   A nest of pasta and spinach with one perfect, runny, fried egg all snow capped with parmesan cheese.  It’s so delicious and homey and is one of my favorite meals to this day!

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