Quinoa Salad

Despite the rainy (and possibly snowy) weather today, I am transitioning into full-on spring mode. Which means preparing for the next season by trying out summer recipes.

This salad is light and tangy and filled with nutritional powerhouses, including beans, peppers, and quinoa. It’s perfect as a side dish and substantial enough to star in a bag lunch.

Plus, Gabe and I just discovered a nearby park on yesterday’s walk. Is it picnic season yet?

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Mississippi Mud Ice Cream

How appealing is the name of this ice cream? My Louisiana friends wrinkled up their noses when they heard “Mississippi mud,” so I explained to them that in Minnesota, where the great river begins, the mud is much prettier.

There are countless versions of Mississippi mud ice cream– some with peanuts, some with caramel, etc.– but this is the simplest. Coffee ice cream + chocolate sandwich cookies = one awesome dessert.

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Spring Break Recipe Round-up

As soon as my little sis headed back to Minnesota, the temperature plunged and my textbooks beckoned. Spring break and 80 degrees were fun while they lasted.

Here’s a recap of all the yummy food we cooked during Erin’s visit. Some of the recipes will be posted in the next few days as I finish up papers and get organized. Enjoy!

Recipe Round-up:

My Little Protégé

My youngest sister Erin is here for the week and we’ve been busy cooking up all her favorite foods. (And doing touristy things like visiting the science museum. And the outlet mall.)

I promise I’ll post a recipe recap soon. But for now I’ll just share an adorable picture of Erin getting her hands dirty while making homemade pasta. I’m so proud.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Macarons

Next up on the St. Patrick’s Day baking list: green macarons! I’ve been wanting to make these for a while, but I ran out of parchment paper and didn’t feel like going to the grocery store. Gabe and I took the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and walked down the street to Party Favors in Brookline.

They didn’t have any parchment for sale, but one of the sales clerks ventured into the bakery in the basement and grabbed a dozen sheets of parchment paper from their supply shelves. And then gave them to me for free. It was a lovely little small-town moment in Boston.

So, parchment paper in hand (along with an Elmo-shaped sugar cookie for my 24-year-old boyfriend), we returned home and I whipped up a batch of bright and springy macarons. I love the festive green color. And the slightly boozy frosting isn’t bad either…

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Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and I’ve heard that Boston gets pretty excited for the holiday. (Understatement of the century.) My baby sister is flying in to Logan around 5:00 P.M. on Saturday, so we’re guaranteed to have an interesting T-ride home.

In preparation for the shenanigans, I’ve been practicing my green baking. Sorry, not eco-friendly baking… rather, baking green things. First on the list, chocolate peppermint cupcakes.

Just a word of warning, these cupcakes are not for people in a hurry. Making them is a very putsy process, involving two different pastry bags, two mixing bowls, and a saucepan. But when I watched Gabe take his first bite and goosebumps literally crept up his arm from sheer delight, it was totally worth it.

P.S. Shout-out to my dear friend Susanne for giving me the awesome cupcake liners!

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Mushroom Risotto

I (obviously) love to cook, but it’s not always an effortless experience. Believe me, I have my fair share of culinary mishaps.

My hands and arms are covered with kitchen-related scars due to cutsburns, and all-around klutziness. Sometimes tastebuds take the brunt of my goof-ups. (Just ask my sisters… I once made dinner for them that tasted like eating a lawn.)

And sometimes it’s my pride. (To me, the most devastating part about this failed batch of macarons was thinking about how pretty they could have been in those springy colors. Sigh.)

But despite all my mishaps, I always try to learn something from my mistakes. Last weekend, for example, I learned that making risotto with brown rice takes longer than with white.

A lot longer.

My poor dinner guests waited patiently as I stood by the stove for two and a half hours, sweating over a dish that was only supposed to take 30 minutes. Uffda. Thankfully the final product was absolutely delicious! And so I present this recipe with the caveat that I trust Mark Bittman and believe that his original instructions are correct. Just follow his advice and use white rice, or parboil your brown rice beforehand.

Trust me. I’m an “expert.”

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