pepper and white corn salsa

shoepeg salsa
The first time I tried cilantro, I thought I was on the receiving end of an elaborate, twilight zone prank- a passing thought that only a paranoid 14 year old can possess (or one with the Olympic-level self-centeredness of a 14 year old).  My friends and I were eating homemade salsa with all the mexicali fixings; everyone was gorging and raving about it while I was in hell. To me, each bite was like chomping into a bar of the fancy fragrant soap that my grandmother used to keep in her guest bathroom- they were shaped like little seashells and you could smell the flowery residue on your hands for hours. My friend’s mom, who made it, was in the room so I faked my way through 3 or 4 bites.  I couldn’t figure out what was happening, but I assumed I was on deck to be canonized  for sainthood for my selfless sacrifice. I found out much later the salsa was just riddled with fresh cilantro. My parents both have a strong taste aversion to cilantro so I’d never tried it before. I guess if you’re not used to it, it can taste like cleaning supplies, then you eventually grow to enjoy it. I like cilantro now! I can eat/appreciate it these days, but too much cilantro still tastes like a sudsy punishment for swearing.

It is a frigid icebox nightmare outside.  If you’ve reached the 7th layer of denial like me, you’re drinking a paloma and chopping veggies (and cilantro) to magically transport you to May 5.  Join me:


1/2 medium red onion (about 2/3 cup), diced
1 medium green pepper (about 1 cup), chopped
1 large red pepper (about 1+1/2 cups), chopped
1 11 oz. can white shoepeg corn
1 15.5 oz can pinto beans or navy beans
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro (optional)


Combine all ingredients.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours then serve with tortilla chips.

**WINTER DENIAL EXTRA-CREDIT: Use salsa as a hot dog topping! It’s fantastic and might transport you past May 5, all the way to July.





Recipe source: my aunt Peg!

Cranberry Gin & Tonics

cranberry gin tonic
 I added  homemade cranberry syrup to the classic G&T and the results were pretty outstanding.  I don’t know what it is about gin that makes it such a suitable spirit during the holidays. Maybe because it kind of tastes like pine trees?  I, for one, enjoy having spruce breath and plan on subjecting my dear friends and loved ones to it with gusto.


6 oz gin
2 cups tonic water (I do half tonic water, half club soda)
1/4 cup cranberry syrup (recipe and directions below)

Mix ingredients and pour over ice. Serves 4

Cranberry syrup recipe:

1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Put cranberries, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Then lower the heat a bit to medium-low and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, before your berries start bursting. Remove from heat.  Let berry mixture cool for about 10-15 minutes. Strain berries over a small bowl for your simple syrup.

Other holiday/winter-y cocktails:

Dirty Shirley Temple

Rum Milk Punch

Orange Salted Caramel Margaritas (and Cranberry Mojitos!)

Honey Ginger Rosemary Cocktail

Cran-Apple Crisp with Bourbon Brown Sugar Ice Cream

cran apple crisp and ice cream
Ahh apple crisp.. the old standby.  I thought it would be fun to give it a little holiday zest by adding red tang and a booze-y sidekick. Both components were super easy to make.  I don’t have an ice cream maker- so as much as I wanted to make bourbon ice cream from scratch (I didn’t), adding hooch to vanilla ice cream was just as effective.

Cranberry Apple Crisp

Serves 4-6

3-4 apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup cranberries
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Combine all topping ingredients except for the butter. Pour in the melted butter and stir until evenly mixed.  Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, boil the cranberries in water for 5 minutes or until they start to pop. Once they are open, take off heat immediately and drain.

3. In a medium bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients. Stir until evenly mixed then toss the fruit mixture into a 1 quart baking dish.

4. Sprinkle the crisp topping over the fruit.  Bake for 40-45 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes.


cran apple


Bourbon Brown Sugar Ice Cream

1 pint vanilla ice cream, best quality
2 oz bourbon
3 tbsp brown sugar
dash of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients, stirring until blended. Transfer to an airtight container (or back into the pint container) and freeze for at least 2 hours.

photo 2 photo 3DSC_2323

Here are some past holiday treats:

Gingersnap Truffles

Lemon Thyme Sugar Cookies

Apple Oatmeal Cookies with Maple Icing

Cheese o’ clock: Comté


In response to a well-formed, convincing request (“Bring it back. I want cheese.”) from my old pal, Jenny,  it’s high time to reinstate cheese o’ clock. The star of this post is one of my new favorite cheeses: comté.

Comté is a French cheese that’s described as complex, nutty, and sweet. It pairs well with dried fruit, jams, and nuts.  My girl Katie brought a block  up to a friends weekend in Canandaigua Lake in October and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

laguiole cheese board

^ How adorable is this cheeseboard? It marks the geographic locations of where certain French cheeses come from (Roquefort, Brie, Reblochon to name a few).  You can place your favorite cheeses next to their place of origin- so neat!

Now let’s make some snacks!

Cheese plate fixings:

Comté cheese
Apple cranberry chutney (I used this), cran-apple butter (Trader Joe’s is amazing) or preserves
Walnuts, toasted
Your favorite crackers

So good. Although next time I buy this cheese, I’m going to try it with a fig jam/spread as well.



P.S. I’ve been shy and reluctant to use descriptive adjectives (complex, bold, nutty, etc) when describing things like cheese and wine  because it makes me want to give myself a wedgie for sounding pretentious. But dammit, those adjectives are CORRECT.  This cheese is complex and nutty! So for future cheese posts, just know that I know I sound like an asshole- and I will take that risk if it means being an accurate asshole.

The ultimate:



Apricot Cherry Almond Scones

IMG_2347 (1)

I know- kind of a weird combo of ingredients, but IT WORKS.  The mild sweetness of the cherries blends so well with the tart, bright apricots, and the almonds add a lovely texture to the two fruits. This time of year is the absolute best. We are in the midst of baked goods weather, my friends, so might as well have fun with it and make some interesting concoctions- both within and outside of the pumpkin spice realm.


2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1/2 cup dried cherries, diced
1/2 cup fresh apricot, peeled and sliced into 1″ pieces
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 425°. Dice apricot and set aside.  Your apricot should be firm but slightly ripe.  Dice dried cherries into small pieces, roughly the size of currants  (I wish I had done this! I had whole dried cherries in mine and they were excellent but a little overpowering). Combine flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Combine 1/2 cup milk, vanilla, and egg white in a bowl. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist (dough will be soft). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Add almonds, cherries and nectarines. Kneed dough until everything is incorporated.

Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut dough into 12 wedges. Bake at 425° for 16-17 minutes or until golden. Serve warm, or cool on a wire rack.

Basic scone recipe: MyRecipes

IMG_2341 (1)

IMG_2344 (1)

These scones with coffee make the mornings feel a little more cozy in these chilly times. Plus, they keep for over a week so you can enjoy them for breakfast, brunch or a snack long after you make them. Yay.

Last weekend I watched the best movie called In A World written by and starring Lake Bell. It was super bright and charming and I highly recommend it.  My mom told me to check it out describing it as “a lighter, more levelheaded version of Tiny Furniture” I didn’t know whether I should be impressed that my mom actively sought out good movies on Netflix or mildly disturbed that my mom has seen Tiny Furniture.  But yeah, if you have Netflix, you need to watch this movie.

The song below played during a cute scene of In A World.  I’m not ashamed to admit I have a tiny soft spot for 70s adult contemporary (Jackson Browne, etc) and this is no exception:

Mango Manchego Grilled Cheese

mango manchego grilled cheese

I’ve developed an obsession with manchego this past year.  Manchego cheese is a buttery sheep’s milk that pairs well with more manchego cheese. Thanks to the overabundance of fun condiments in my fridge- from blood orange marmalade to pumpkin spread to chipotle ketchup to 3(!!) jars of mango chutney- I was able to create this little diddy.  It’s so good, things tend to get messy: my fingertips get oily,  cheeks are swiped with a glob or two of  chutney, and sometimes I’ll even collect an arugula leaf in my hair if I’m really in it to win it.  I’m kind of a monster though, so you’ll probably be fine to eat in front of others.


2 slices of your favorite bread
3-4 oz manchego cheese
1 tbsp mango chutney
1/4 cup baby arugula
1 tbsp canola oil (or mayonnaise! I feel like I’m the last to know about this)
cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes if you prefer) and salt


1.  Spread chutney on one slice of bread and add a couple dashes of salt and cayenne pepper. Add arugula then cheese.

2. Brush the outside of each slice with canola oil (OR spread mayonnaise).

3.  Grease medium pan with non-stick cooking spray and set burner to medium high. Cook and flip over until both sides are golden brown.

mango manchego prep


mango manchego2

Have a fun week!  Heard this song from my friend Christine’s employee a few months ago. It’s the perfect strolling song for this nice weather:



Sweetheart Fruit Tart

fruit tart

I made this fruit tart for my bud Katie’s birthday last week!  She is a sunny, funny, beautiful engineer who I’m so happy to call my friend (and neighbor!)

I love everything about this tart:  the crunchy (and slightly spicy) crust, the rich yet airy filling, and the beautifully bright glazed fruit arrangement on top.  I’m beyond ecstatic about the way it turned out.  This one is a keeper and i’m definitely making this again for any event that calls for dessert or something sweet for breakfast/brunch.


Pie crust*:
2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1/2 stick of butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
ice water (optional)

*If you’re pressed for time,  a premade gingersnap/graham cracker crust is great too!

6 0z cream cheese (3/4 of a package)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

1/4 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries
2-3 kiwis
1/4 cup apricot jam
1 tbsp water



1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Crush gingersnap cookies with a food processor or whatever method you prefer (a tiny hammer and a ziploc bag has served me well in the past). In a medium bowl, whisk together ground gingersnaps, sugar, butter and salt until well combined. If crumbs are not holding together into moist clumps, add 1 tbsp  of ice cold water and stir to combine.

2.  Press mixture evenly on the sides and bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Filling and Topping:

1.  In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt, brown sugar, and lemon juice with an electric mixer until well blended. Add heavy cream and beat at a high speed until mix is light and fluffy. Spread evenly over the crust shell. Chill for at least 2 hours.

2. Once filling is set, arrange fruit on top by starting in the middle and working your way to the edge.  You can use whatever fruit you like (blackberries, nectarines, peaches, mandarin oranges, etc) in whatever order you’d like!

3. Combine jam with water and brush over top.  Serve.

Crust adapted from Martha Stewart 

fruit tart bday

Some gal pal stuff ^  The tart is excellent with champagne, by the way.


The Juice Box Cocktail

juice box cocktail 1

This drink has been a been in my rotation for years thanks to my buddy Whitney.  It tastes eerily like an old juice box favorite, so you might have to remind yourself to sip it slowly- because unlike Juicy Juice,  it’s not 100% juice and you’ll get 100% drunk. Unless that’s your goal, in which case, knock yourself out man.


1.5 oz Stoli Blueberry Vodka
3 oz club soda
3 oz cranberry juice


Use a lowball or tumbler glass. Fill with ice and pour in all ingredients. Stir and garnish with  lime.

juice box cocktail 2

party sounds:

Brussel Sprouts with bacon, onions, and mushrooms

brussel sprouts with bacon

No need for oil or butter because everything is sautéed in sweet, delicious bacon fat. mmm. This might be one of my favorite things I’ve made this year. It’s easy, economical, and everybody loves it. It’s pretty much the total package when it comes to side dishes.

Serves 4

1 lb brussel sprouts
4 strips raw thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 cup red onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper


1. Place brussel sprouts in a large pot filled with water and bring to a boil. cover and let them sit at medium-high heat for 20+ minutes. After time has passed, take one out and prod with a fork to test if it has softened.  When ready, drain brussel sprouts in the sink and let them cool. Once they are cool, cut the sprouts in halves, lengthwise.

2. In a large non-stick pan, cook bacon on medium heat until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and onions and continue to cook while stirring, for about 5-7 minutes. Lastly, add the brussel sprouts and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the sides start to brown. Take off heat and stir in brown sugar,  garlic powder, and pepper. Let sit for a few minutes. Serve.

brussel sprouts onion mushroom bacon


Favorite brussel sprout nickname:


More Tom Haverford foods

This video makes me REALLY excited for spring:

lemon thyme sugar cookies

photo (22)

These are inspired from the amazing rosemary cookies my friend Katie made at a holiday party last year.  I decided to revisit the lemon-thyme combo from Martha Stewart’s vodka thyme lemonade and apply it to dessert (then maybe drinks again too).

This recipe  involves a basic sugar cookie mix. I generally prefer to bake cookies from scratch (see manifesto) but sometimes even the standard sugar cookie calls for some outsourcing.


1 pouch of sugar cookie mix
1 stick of butter (or whatever the pouch dictates)
1 egg (or whatever the pouch dictates. listen to the pouch. pouch pouch pouch.)
2 tbsp thyme
1 tsp lemon zest

2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water


1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine cookie ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat with electric mixer until smooth.  Using a heaping teaspoon, drop dough roughly 2 inches on to the a lined baking sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Move cookies to some parchment or wax paper on the counter for the icing!

2. Combine icing ingredients in a small bowl and stir until blended. Pour over each cookie and give at least 5-10 minutes to let it dry.