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Oh brother.

I fear I have developed a new obsession.

This happens with me (all too frequently) with food.

I taste something.

I die because it is so good.

And then I keep thinking about it until I fold and make it again.

Thus is the case with roasted pears.

You may recall that last week I roasted some up with carrots and parsnips.

And since then, I have been longing for the sweet roasty pear again.

I have issues.

I picked up these two beauties in the store.

And I cut them down the middle.

And I scooped out the center.

And then I peeled them.

And I cut a tiny bit off of the bottom so the pairs wouldn’t be all wobbly in the pan.

I preheated the oven to 350.

By the way, this recipe is 100% Ina Gartens. I do not want to take credit for something so delicious that I did not create!

Now, we have to mix up the stuffing.

I used equal parts cranberries, blue cheese, and chopped walnuts.

For the four pear halves, I used 1/4 c. of each of the above. And that was the perfect amount.

Stuff your pears.

Seriously, how good does that look?

Ooh, did I mention to buy firm pears? Because if they are fully ripe they will fall apart in the oven.

And we definitely don’t want that.

Squeeze some lemon over the whole kit and caboodle.

Caboodle.

Yeah, I had a personalized one of those bad boys when I was growing up.

Jealous?

In a bowl, mix 3 T. of red wine or port and 1/3 c. of brown sugar and 1/2 c. of apple cider.

Now, I didn’t have any apple cider.

But I did have some white grape juice.

Yep, that’s what I used.

And it was lovely.

Pour that over the pears and in to the baking dish.

Pop that into the oven for 30 minutes.

The pears should soften up and the cheese should melt, and it should smell delicious!

Pop some arugula on your plate.

I love the pre-washed stuff from the grocery store. It makes my life easier.

And I love ease.

Give a little squeeze of lemon.

And a little drizzle of olive oil.

Pull your pears out of the oven.

Take some of that syrupy winey, juicy, sugary cooking liquid and drizzle it over your salad.

Pop a pear on top.

Give the whole sha-bang a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Serve it up with some pot roast (recipe coming peeps!) and mashed taters.

Roasted pear craving.

Attacked.

And conquered.

So, so good.

Lots of love to ya,

Leah

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I was a picky eater growing up.

Can anyone relate?

I think I have shared this before, but my mom was a rockstar cook that made dinner every night of the week (usually taking a weekend night off to go on a date with my dad).

Dinner ALWAYS consisted of a green salad, a protein, a starch, and then a vegetable.

I, like many kids (and well, some adults I know too), would eat my favorite item on the plate first.

Then, I would move on to the second favorite.

Ultimately, I would be stuck with some inevitably lukewarm protein left on my plate.

I have always loved anything green, but meat and I did not become friends until later in life.

Even now, meat can still sometimes gross me out.

You know, I cook a meal that I’m completely excited about only to go to take bite of the meat and be a little less than excited.

Chicken is usually the worst offender.

Dr. Freud, what does that say about me?

The problem for me in my house growing up was that there was no dessert for any kid that didn’t finish their dinner.

So, usually my sister Jessica and I would be stuck still sitting at the table long after the rest of the family had finished.

She had a pile of vegetables on her plate.

And I had a pile of meat on mine.

Eventually, we hatched our ingenious plan…

Wait until Mom was long gone, then quickly switch plates, scarf down what was left of each other’s cast offs, and happily move on to a “dessert” that usually meant a “sweet cereal” (you know, like Honey Nut Cheerios). Did I mention we grew up in a pretty health-centered family?

My love for vegetables continues to this day.

Seriously.

I know this may be weird, but I love broccoli or asparagus or zucchini or carrots or whatever. And I like them in large quantities.

I also know that this is not normal, and that for a lot of people vegetables are gross and scary.

And that is why I’m brining you this post.

I want to win over every last person that doesn’t groove on the vegetables.

You see,  I have a fool proof method to making any vegetable absolutely delicious.

Roasting.

Roasty, toasty, caramely, delicious veg.

And they are easy.

And they are the perfect side dish.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Start by chopping up your vegetables. They should be larger, but still bite sized.

Lay them out on a sheet pan with sides.

Give them a drizzle of olive oil.

When I say a drizzle, I mean approximately 1 T. per every cup of chopped vegetables.

Then sprinkle on some salt and pepper.

I have been known to also add cayenne pepper or red pepper flake if you like it a little spicy. You can add cumin if you like it a little smoky. A little bit of thyme on mushrooms is delicious and woodsy. Experiment to discover what YOU really love.

But if you want to play it safe, start with salt and pepper.

I would say about 1/2 t. of salt and 1/4. t. of pepper for every cup of vegetable on your pan.

Now, use your hands and give the vegetable an oil, salt, and pepper Swedish massage. Try to coat all of he vegetables.

Then pop them into the oven. Set your timer for 15 minutes, and leave them alone.

After 15 minutes (less if you are cooking only a small quantity, and keep them in longer if you are cooking a large quantity), pull them out of the oven.

They should look like this…

Still very much a bright color with perhaps a bit of caramelization, and they may be slightly wilted.

Perfect.

I like to top off my veg with the lightest sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano.

Pop that onto a plate with a side of crusty parm and garlic bread, and you have a super simple side dish.

Or even a super simple healthy afternoon snack.

I promise.

Your vegetables will never taste better.

Happy Wednesday!

XO,

Leah

This year, for the first time, Brad and I participated in a CSA.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

So last spring we purchased a half share. And once a week, we took a trip to the local farmer’s market to pick up our goods.

I absolutely loved the surprise of discovering what local seasonal goodies were tucked into our bag. It ranged from blackberries to corn to peppers to potatoes to zucchini to cucumbers to tomatoes to melon and so on!

There were weeks when we had so much corn and so many potatoes that we had to give some away to friends and co-workers!

But I’m not complaining. The produce was amazing, and it was nice to know exactly where our food was coming from.

So, with the tons of potatoes we have on hand, I waited for a cool evening and fixed them up my favorite way… oven roasted. Mmmm.

Here are just a few of the potatoes that we had to use:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Start by giving those guys a good scrub.

Here is something that I find curious. When I was a kid, my mom would get potatoes from the grocery store and we would have to scrub them because they had clearly been dug up from the earth with dirt still left on them.

Now, at the store they are shiny and dirt free. I guess it is nice that the potato people wash them for us??

The farmer’s market potatoes are clearly freshly harvested, and they need a good scrub.

So roll up your sleeves and have at it.

Then dice them up into squares, and spread them out on a large sheet pan.

Bathe these guys in some extra virgin olive oil.

Use enough to get at least a little oil on each and every potato, but not so much that you have any oil pooled in the bottom of you pan.

Think tanning oil application… enough to coat, but not so much that you ruin your towel!

By the way, don’t use tanning oil. It is bad for you. Use sunscreen.

Thanks.

How about a sprinkle of coarse Kosher salt.

I have mentioned it before, but I think it is time to mention it again.

I believe in coarse salt.

If it is possible, I think it tastes saltier and better.

And I like the Kosher stuff myself.

I used a little more than a teaspoon for the entire pan.

Now, add about 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

I like the freshly ground goodness.

Chop up about 1/2 tablespoon of fresh rosemary.

There are a few herbs that I refuse to use the dried version of. And rosemary is one of them.

When rosemary is fresh, it has the texture of a chewable leafy substance.

When it is dried, it feels like a twig made its way into your food.

If you are cool with twig texture, then by all means use the dried rosemary.

Chop up 2-3 cloves of garlic.

Chop it up pretty finely.

Or use a garlic press if you don’t want to smell like a hoagie.

Sprinkle that on your taters.

Now, the fun part.

Get your hands dirty and mix all of that together on the pan.

Then pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.

After they have roasted for 30 minutes, your house will smell like heaven.

A garlicky, rosemary version of heaven.

Pull out the potatoes.

And give them a toss.

You may need the help of a spatula to pull the potatoes off of the pan.

The bottoms of the potatoes should be slightly browned like this:

Now, you could serve these at this point.

I like my potatoes a little crispier and a little browner. So I threw the pan back into the oven for another 10 minutes.

And they came out looking like this:

Perfection.
I tossed them into a bowl and topped with some chives and a dollop of sour cream.

The perfect side dish.

Now I had plenty of potatoes left over, and that is good by me.

Because these potatoes are the perfect base for a hearty breakfast.

For the breakfast, warm the potatoes in the microwave, the oven, or in a toaster oven.

Scramble up some eggs and toss them on top.

Shred some cheese and top your taters and eggs with that.

Throw the whole hot mess under the broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese.

And enjoy!!

Isn’t food the best?

Yes, I think so.

Have a great day my dear friends.

XO,

Leah

Note: Click on the recipes tab above this post for the full catalog of Seven Hills Recipes.

Summer tomatoes.

I’ve talked about them before, and I may just mention them again.

I love them.

Juicy. Red. Perfect.

Winter grocery store tomatoes are G-R-O-S-S, gross.

Riddle me this.

Why is it that in the middle of summer when tomatoes are at their peak, does the grocery store still only offer weird winter tomatoes?

Something is wrong with that picture.

I digress.

Summer tomatoes make me happier than a fruit should.

The only challenge in the summer is what to do with all of those tomatoes so that I don’t get burned out.

This little side dish is perfect for the slightly cooler weather that we have been having lately.

And it is so super simple.

And  I love a super simple recipe.

Slice up some tomatoes and lay them on a sheet pan (with sides so that the tomato juice doesn’t drip all over your oven causing your kitchen to stink to high heaven).

I used parchment paper because it makes life so. much. easier.

Parchment paper keeps whatever is resting on it from sticking to the pan and from over-browning on the bottom.

One warning- on the box, there is always a heat limit (usually 400 degrees)… so just take note.

You don’t want to flambe your tomatoes.

Or anything else for that matter.

I took the photos with a flash without natural light- so the tomatoes look a little more florescent than normal.

Give those ‘maters a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Want to know why I like the extra virgin?

No, not because of the name.

Well, a little because of the name.

But mostly because extra virgin means the olive oil is the least processed form of oil making it the most heart healthy.

So, you can feel good about this dish.

Give them a sprinkle of course Kosher salt.

Just a light sprinkle.

And a little fresh pepper.

Please note that none of my pictures show me actually grinding the pepper.

I take all of the pics on this blog.

And for the life of me I can’t figure out how to grind pepper and take a picture.

I need three hands.

Next come breadcrumbs.

You can use fresh.

But that is a lot of work, so I don’t recommend it.

Or you can buy breadcrumbs from the grocery store.

They are in the baking aisle, and generally stores have both the Plain and Italian Seasoned variety.

Either would work here.

I’m using Panko for my breadcrumbs.

Have you ever had Panko?

It is usually found in the Asian foods section of the grocery store near the soy sauce.

And they are the crunchiest, best textured crumb you’ll ever have.

Plus the graphic design on the box is top notch.

I like em.

Sprinkle some of those on your tomatoes.

And now some parmigiano reggiano.

I’m getting on my soap box.

Watch out.

Parmigiano Reggiano is worth the investment. A hunk of it, like the one pictured below, is about $6-$8.

Although you can find much more expensive versions.

It is worth it.

It lasts forever when wrapped in plastic and placed in the fridge.

With parm-regg, there is so much more nutty, salty, delicious flavor than what you can get from the strange parmesan concoction that is often found in a green can.

Please use this.

You’ll know it is the real deal because on the rind of the cheese it will actually say Parmigiano Reggiano.

Stepping off my soap box.

I feel it is necessary to be generous with the cheese.

Because it is cheese.

Stick those bad boys under your broiler (set on high) for 5 minutes.

If you want them slightly more browned, keep an eye on them and add another minute or two.

They come out looking like this.

I served them up with a breakfast-for-dinner throw-it-together-with-what-ya-got meal.

A simple berry salad alongside of homemade hashbrowns topped with turkey, cheese, and a fried egg.

But these ‘maters would pair well with just about anything… chicken, beef, fish, pork.

The possibilities are endless.

Happy cooking.

And Happy Friday!

XO,
Leah

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