Lavender Collins - Summer in a Cocktail

I recently discovered the blog mint love social club by accident while searching for a recipe for caprese bites. I stumbled upon Natalie's charming blog and fell in love with her inventive cocktails! We have fresh lavender growing in our garden, and so I instantly decided to try my hand at a lavender simple syrup to make Natalie's Lavender Collins. I am not disappointed!

Lavender Collins (adapted from mint love social club)
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1.5 oz lavender simple syrup
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Seltzer or club soda
Shake first 3 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. In a highball or old-fashioned glass, pour shaker contents over more ice and top with club soda. Garnish with a lavender sprig.

Lavender Collins
Now that our patio project (updates to come soon!) is finished, this is the perfect thing to enjoy outside under cafe lights by candlelight.


Just a Regular Tuesday Night

Since we’ve returned home from our wedding and honeymoon, we’ve been unpacking, trying to get our apartment into pre-wedding shape, and more than anything I’ve been trying to get back into the kitchen. It feels like in the weeks leading up to the wedding we did more take-out and restaurant meals than we normally do, probably just because there were so many other things that “needed” to get done that took time away from the kitchen. Now that there are no bows to be tied, invitations to go out, favors to assemble, etc., I have no excuse not to spend more time in the kitchen. Since we’ve almost unpacked all of our generous wedding gifts (mostly kitchen-related!), I felt there was no better time than the present to make something tasty—and so I created a meal that took advantage of the leftover stash of wedding champagne!

Cranberry Vanilla Mimosas
Roasted beet salad with lemon-shallot vinaigrette and goat cheese (inspired by this recipe)
Champagne-sage risotto with pan-seared sea scallops (based off of this recipe)

One of the few things that went “wrong” at our wedding was the fact that the copious amounts of champagne we purchased were only served during the toast! We have several cases left over and I'm looking forward to having a bottle on hand any time there is any little reason to celebrate. Like a Tuesday night. Why not?

See all that leftover champagne in the background?

Since we needed to use champagne in the risotto anyway, I decided to kill two birds with one stone—make a drink with champagne AND vanilla beans (for another post, but our wedding favors were bottles of homemade vanilla extract. We had some beans left over, too!) The cranberry vanilla mimosa were light, refreshing and flavorful. A lovely accompaniment to the rest of the meal.

Cranberry Vanilla Mimosas
Now for the salad. I always hated beets growing up…even though I had never had one. It was just something I knew I would not like. I finally had one for the first time, perfectly roasted and accompanied by goat cheese. I fell in love. This beet and goat cheese salad is healthy, delicious, and beautiful to present!
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
The risotto recipe I found on Epicurious using champagne instead of wine interested me, but having made many risottos in the past, the ingredient list and methods looked a little bland to me. I punched up the recipe with some sage, shallots, garlic and bacon. The resulting risotto was rich and creamy—the perfect bed for succulent, pan-seared sea scallops.  
Champagne Risotto with Scallops
 And now for the recipes. Enjoy!

Cranberry Vanilla Mimosas (From Epicurious)

• Cranberry juice, chilled
• Ice cubes
• 1 vanilla bean
• Sparkling wine or champagne
• Garnish (optional): sugar and halved vanilla beans

Combine a cup of chilled cranberry juice and several ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Scrape in the seeds from vanilla bean. Shake well. Strain into Champagne glasses, filling only halfway. Top off the drinks with sparkling wine. Garnish with split vanilla bean.

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad (Adapted from Epicurious) (serves 2-3)

• 3 large red beets
• 1/4 cup minced shallot
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• Soft mild goat cheese
• 3 tablespoons toasted walnuts coarsely chopped
• Clover sprouts to garnish

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Wrap beets tightly in double layers of foil and roast in middle of oven until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap beets. While beets are cooling, whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking. I did this all in the food processor for a smoother dressing.

When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off and discard skins. Cut beets into 1/4-inch dice and add dressing enough to lightly coat beets.

In a small ramekin or soufflé dish, layer beets and goat cheese, in five layers, beginning and ending with beets. When ready to serve, place salad place on top of soufflé dish or ramekin, and gently turn over and tap to get salad onto place. Drizzle each plate with leftover dressing and scatter with some walnuts. Top the salad with clover sprouts and serve.

Champagne Risotto with Pan-Seared Sea Scallops (Adapted from Epicurious) (serves 2)

• 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, divided
• 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
• 2 slices bacon or pancetta, chopped
• 1/4 cup chopped shallots
• 1 garlic clove, pressed
• 4 large leaves of sage, chopped
• 2/3 cup arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
• 1 cup dry Champagne
• 1 14 1/2-ounce can (or more chicken broth
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 pound bay scallops, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Clover sprouts to garnish

 Melt 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped bacon and sauté until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve for later. Add shallots; sauté 1 minute. Add garlic and sage and sauté for another minute. Add rice; sauté 2 minutes. Add Champagne; simmer until almost all liquid evaporates, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add brother slowly, letting the rice absorb each ladleful before adding the next.; simmer until rice is almost tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Continue to cook until the rice is tender but still firm to bite and mixture is creamy, adding more broth if too thick and stirring often.

Arborio rice covered in deliciousness.

Meanwhile, heat remaining butter and oil in a skillet on medium high heat and pan-sear scallops. Cook scallops until lightly browned and crisp on each side, approximately 7-10 minutes per side.
 Stir in parmesan into risotto and season with salt and pepper. Serve scallops over risotto and garnish with clover sprouts.



We got married!

We got married, and it was simply wonderful. I will write a re-cap of it in the future, but for now, here is a sneak peek from our photographer and guests. I look forward to settling back into the kitchen (and enjoying all of our new cookware!) and blogging more often.
You may now kiss the bride!

Kissing in the Arboretum :)

Cake smash!

Listening to our amazing friends singing at the ceremony.


Oh, hai!


It's been a while! Per us! LIttle things like applying to graduate school (I'll be starting at Boston University this fall) planning a wedding (getting married in 33 days, but who's counting?), and ya know, working full time, etc. seem to have gotten in the way. I am popping in to link up to my neighbor's blog, A Little Cat Fur. 5 of us in the building are teaming up together to get our sorry backyard into veggie-growing, BBQing party central in time for summer. Be sure to check her blog out to follow our progress! 2 architects, a former farmer and...me and Devin will do whatever it takes to get this thing done, and we couldn't be more excited to have good company whilst we do it!


Sneak Peak: Valentine's Day Dinner

Hello, everyone. The essays, the GREs, the begging for recs...it's over! I am officially finished applying to schools (at least for now), and back into the thick of life...which for me means cooking and planning the details of my impending wedding..."impending" sounds intense. Hmm.

I plan to get back to writing yummy posts soon, but for now, here is a picture of a recently made meal of homemade pasta. For Christmas, Devin got me a pasta attachment for our Kitchenaid, and now fresh, delicious pasta is at our fingertips anytime we like! We tried it out for the first time on Valentine's Day and topped it off with a red wine and mushroom sauce and some filet mignon. The pasta is just so much better than boxed stuff, and you can even freeze it raw to make for an easy weeknight supper. I will write a post about making pasta soon.


I've been MIA...but here are some scones!

So I am not sure how many people actually read this, but if you do, you may have noticed I've been MIA (again). I am (again) applying to graduate school this year, and the void the blog filled in my life is now filled with going through the mind-numbing application process (did I say "again?") I have still been cooking away, perhaps more than ever. Good food is fueling me through all these applications and essays.

So while I work on my future, I will leave you with this recipe from Smitten Kitchen: Cranberry-Lemon Scones. I don't have a picture of my own of how they turned out, but they were simply divine. We got some nice, fresh cranberries from our CSA and I thought it was time to make a warm, buttery baked something. I froze most of the batch of scones already cut out, and it has become a morning routine to get the coffee brewing and pop some scones in the oven before my shower, so that I emerge from the steam to the scent of fresh roast and homey scones. I recommend it.


Meyer Lemon Fresh Cranberry Scones (Taken directly from Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons; preferably Meyer)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons additional if using fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarse, or 1 1/4 cups dried cranberries, if you insist
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

Accompaniment: creme fraiche or whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a vegetable peeler remove the zest from lemons and chop fine, reserving lemons for another use.
In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture. If using dried fruit, add to flour mixture.

In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

On a well-floured surface with floured hands pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden.

Serve scones warm with creme fraiche or whipped cream.


Creamy Tomato Soup

At the end of the summer, there was an influx of farmshare tomatoes. I am not the biggest raw tomato fan (unless they are JUST picked from the garden, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and chopped basil, and layered with fresh mozzarella), so I knew I wanted to cook something with these guys. Usually when I am craving tomato soup, I use this Martha Stewart recipe that uses canned tomatoes. This time with enough tomatoes for a fresh soup, I consulted the goddess Barefoot Contessa. Here, I use her very simple and incredibly delicious recipe for cream of fresh tomato soup. Perfect for those chilly early autumn nights!
Lots of fresh chopped tomato

Cream adds richness and depth

Everything simmering with my homemade veggie stock

                3 tbs good olive oil
                2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped and1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
                1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
                4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
                1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
                1 tablespoon tomato paste
                1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
                3 cups vegetable stock
                1 tablespoon kosher salt
                2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
                3/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Blend the soup in a blender or food processor until thoroughly combined. Return  the soup to the pot and put low heat. Slowly whisk in cream. Serve with grated cheese if desired.

Served with buttery, crispy toast. Yum!