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10 MINUTE EASY Vegetable Lo Mein
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Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Cooking In The Kitchen at Bon Appétit With Hunt’s Tomatoes and Epicurious!
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P+M Upstate Adventure: Planting Our Christmas Tree!
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Potatoes and Kale
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Chipotle Lentil Dip
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Vegetarian Sloppy Joe Lentil Sandwich
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P+M Upstate Adventure: Removing Grass and Turning Soil for Garden
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January Tomato Harvest…. WHAT?!

10 MINUTE EASY Vegetable Lo Mein

10 MINUTE, EASY Vegetable Lo Mein! This simple recipe uses dry lo mein noodles and lots of vegetables to make a healthy dish that tastes just like your favorite Chinese restaurant!  I love that the authentic sauce is made with basic pantry ingredients!

There’s been one favorite Chinese dish that’s been hard for me to conquer in the kitchen over the years, lo mein.    I love the noodles, the sauce and all the fresh vegetables that are chopped up in it.  I love ordering a plate full of lo mein and shocking everyone as I eat every single noodle.   I love lo mein.    From the Chinese restaurant to my own kitchen has been hard though.  First you have to find the right noodles, and then you have to cook them just right.  The most important part is making the sauce.  The sauce needs to taste authentic while gently coating the noodles and vegetables. 

But finally… finally…. I got it! I’ve made Chinese restaurant quality lo mein noodles at home!  And now I’m sharing with you so everyone can get their lo mein on!

10 MINUTE, EASY Vegetable Lo Mein! This simple recipe uses dry lo mein noodles and lots of vegetables to make a healthy dish that tastes just like your favorite Chinese restaurant! I love that the authentic sauce is made with basic pantry ingredients!

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.  These cookies are double chocolate with a dash of salt added on top.  They are addictive and you will eat them all! 

If you’ve been online, or watched TV you’ve probably seen the East Coast get hit by a major storm this weekend.  Since late last week I have been cheering on the snow telling everyone we were going to get snowed in, while people said we wouldn’t get much more than half a foot.  Weather reports varied.  NYC might get 2 inches or 20 inches.  Well looks like everyone was wrong.  NYC got a  1 day snowfall of 26.8 inches!  That’s .1 inch off the all time record that happened in 2006.   In Brooklyn we actually got close to 29 inches, so maybe we can say the record did get broken this weekend, but not officially.  Either way, on Saturday morning and throughout the day I was either walking the streets completely soaked and getting burned on the cheeks by the harsh wind, or watching with cats and a cup of tea in the windows.

Cat Watching Snow

Being snowed in brings me to this recipe for Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.  As a kid Mom would always make me cookies or hot chocolate when I came in from a day of sledding.  As a adult, there’s nothing better than a cookie and a cup of tea on a chilly day, especially when it’s a day of comfort where everything is closed so you have no guilt of not getting out of your pajamas or sitting on the couch all day long. 

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. These cookies are double chocolate with a dash of salt added on top. They are addictive and you will eat them all!

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Cooking In The Kitchen at Bon Appétit With Hunt’s Tomatoes and Epicurious!

Late last year I had the pleasure of cooking in the Bon Appétit Kitchen at 1 World Trade Center for Hunt’s Tomatoes!  There I made Ricotta, Basil, and Tomato Tea Sandwiches and Cheesy Taco Casserole while admiring their beautiful kitchen and dreaming it was my own.  During the day I created 2 how to recipe videos, while working with a great team who wheeled in carts full of props that I got to ogle at.

First, let me show you the videos! I hope you like them both!

Cheesy Taco Casserole

Ricotta, Basil, and Tomato Tea Sandwiches

Here are some photos I took during the day.  Everyone was so nice on set and I loved watching the food stylist work her magic.  

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P+M Upstate Adventure: Planting Our Christmas Tree!

Click here to follow along with our entire Upstate Adventure!

This year when it was Christmas tree time we decided that we were going to start a new tradition.  We would find a live tree, keep it for Christmas and then plant it on our land.  Our hope is that we repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat (…) for a long time so that we eventually have a family of trees on the land that are both beautiful and hold special memories.  

After I called multiple farms and struck out, I found a nursery in Long Island that sold live Colorado Blue Spruce trees with the ball still attached.  So we drove out there, picked a favorite and loaded him into the car!  Our little car by the way has carried alot in it’s short life so far. 
Good guys. We got a pretty little Blue Spruce Christmas tree with the root ball still attached so we can plant it on our land afterwards. Imagine in the years to come how many of our own holiday trees we can have there! ?:christmas_tree
(You can see the container we bought off to the right too. This will be used every year to keep the tree in.)

There he stayed for a few weeks while we dressed him up and cats slept nearby.
Christmas 2015_16

A few days after Christmas we started to plan to take him (it’s a boy) to the land but the temperature difference between inside and outside Upstate NY would be a big shock so we had to harden him off (just like seedlings).  We wrapped him up and took him to the stairwell of the roof to start getting used to the chill.  He stayed there for 5 days before moving him to his final destination.

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Potatoes and Kale

Easy recipe for Potatoes and Kale, a filling healthy vegetarian meal.  The ingredients are simple: potatoes, kale, olive oil and salt and pepper.  

We have 4 heads of kale growing in the garden right now.  They are hearty plants so they can hold up with Winter temperatures and a dusting of snow that might fall on their pretty little heads.
Easy recipe for Potatoes and Kale, a filling healthy vegetarian meal.  The ingredients are simple: potatoes, kale, olive oil and salt and pepper.

But I’m going to tell you something that might make me a bad gardener.  Please don’t hate me.  Kale isn’t a favorite food of mine.  In fact if someone offers me a kale chip, I will take one because I’m nice, but in the back of my head I’m thinking “Oh, gee, a fake potato chip, great”.   Now don’t get me wrong, kale chips can be good, but I don’t trust anyone who is going to pick a kale chip over a delicious kettle potato chip.   You know those people who tell you they’d prefer a green kale smoothie instead of a chocolate milkshake? Yeah, never trust them.  

So here’s my predicament.  We grow kale because the plants themselves rule.  They grow big and they always produce.  Now comes the hard part.  It’s usually hard for me to find something to do with kale that knocks our socks off in the kitchen.  Out of the hundreds of recipes on this blog, there’s less than 10 that feature kale (and you can find them here).  These are our favorite kale recipes, but you can tell the majority of them use kale in a way of “hiding” it (for example, kale meatballs are one of our favorites, but it gets the help of the meat and spices).    There’s nothing wrong with that, I mean who cares how you get your greens in, right?  But I feel like those recipes don’t give kale the respect it deserves.  I need to respect the kale more.  Kale does a awesome job in the garden and here I am not making it a star.  While all the other plants end their garden season, kale stands out there in the freezing temperatures to keep growing for us.  Gosh, I feel like a horrible garden mom now.  I’M SORRY KALE.  I WILL LEARN TO LOVE YOU MORE!  I WILL LEARN TO EAT YOU MORE!

Say hello to “Potatoes and Kale”.  A basic, easy recipe that taught me to respect the kale, love the kale, eat more of the kale.  I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m in love with this simple meal.  I super can’t believe I’m saying this but I ask for kale for dinner now.  Matthew is all “What should we have for dinner tonight?” and I’m all like “Kale! Kale! Kale!”.   This little dish changed my feelings towards kale.    Also I should give credit where it’s due, thank you Matthew, because this is his recipe. He’s the chef behind Potatoes and Kale.  After asking this for the 3rd night in a week I got him to write out the recipe which I’m sharing here.

Easy recipe for Potatoes and Kale, a filling healthy vegetarian meal.  The ingredients are simple: potatoes, kale, olive oil and salt and pepper.

The ingredients are simple.  Potatoes.  Kale. Olive Oil. Salt + Pepper.  That’s it.     Eat it as a side dish or throw it on a little bed of  noodles and call it dinner (that’s what we do).   Not only is the meal delicious and easy, but it makes you feel like a all-star afterwards because you just ate a healthy meal and you loved it!

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Chipotle Lentil Dip

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #VivaLaMorena  #CollectiveBias

This Chipotle Lentil Dip is smoky, flavorful, and brings a touch of heat.    Use it to dip chips, crackers or vegetables in! Or use it as a spread on a sandwich!  Either way, you can’t go wrong!

Do you snack when you get home from work (or school)? Or do you have the willpower to wait until dinner?  I often get scolded because even if dinner is only 30 minutes away, I usually spoil my appetite just a touch with a snack.   Usually it’s a piece of string cheese, a big handful of almonds, a banana or crackers.  One of my favorite snacks is candied jalapenos on a small slice of cheddar on top of a cracker, but sadly I’m all out of candied jalapenos (weep, weep).   So while I was looking for something to become best friends with my beloved salted crackers I came up with this simple Chipotle Lentil Dip. 

This Chipotle Lentil Dip is smoky, flavorful, and brings a touch of heat. Use it to dip chips, crackers or vegetables in! Or use it as a spread on a sandwich! Either way, you can't go wrong!

This is a type of dip that keeps giving.  You get one taste in your first bite but then it develops into a new taste as you continue.  First you’ll taste the smokiness, then a slight sweetness and finally a hint of heat due to those chipotle peppers.   Some people fear spicy foods so this isn’t a heat overload.  It’s not going to burn your mouth, or even make you wince.  It’s a good middle in the road dip that spicy food lovers and haters can both enjoy.   But if you are a heat seeker, add in 2 chipotle peppers and you’ll get double the kick.    With some major football games coming up be sure you make enough if you have guests coming over or are going to a friends house.   This dip is completely veggie friendly and is a good alternative to snack on instead of those greasy finger goods we all eat while watching the big games.  

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Vegetarian Sloppy Joe Lentil Sandwich

Vegetarian Sloppy Joe Sandwich recipe made with lentils in crushed tomato sauce! This is one of my most requested comfort food meals from kids at dinner time! Families will love how easy these homemade sloppy joes are to make and how delicious they are! It’s also great for leftover lunches!

The love of lentils is a recent phenomenon for me. It wasn’t until I stopped eating meat that I realized how amazing (not to mention delicious and filling) they are. I usually put dry lentils in the mind frame of dry beans. Dry beans are cheap and tasty, but I never want to wait to soak them (or should I say, I always forget to soak them). Then I realized that dry lentils don’t have to be soaked overnight.  Cook them for 30 minutes and they’re ready to go. Once I found that out, it was official: I was in love with lentils.

I’ve been enjoying these Lentils in Crushed Tomato Sauce for a bit now.  They have slowly risen to my top 10 current favorite meals.  It finally feels like winter here, so we curl up with these lentils on sandwich rolls (Vegetarian Sloppy Joes!), alongside some french-fries, and it’s the perfect quick dinner while we watch whatever basketball game is on that night.    Vegetarian Sloppy Joe Sandwich recipe made with lentils in crushed tomato sauce! This is one of my most requested comfort food meals from kids at dinner time! Families will love how easy these homemade sloppy joes are to make and how delicious they are! It's also great for leftover lunches!

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P+M Upstate Adventure: Removing Grass and Turning Soil for Garden

In case you missed it, Matthew and I bought land in Upstate NY! You can follow the entire series here.   Now we’re ready to work!

Buying land was the result of wanting a garden that came with no rules.   So it’s no surprise that the first thing to build on the land is a garden!  It’s funny to think about where the garden started from.  In 2009 it was 32 square feet and then it became a few hundred square feet, getting bigger by the year.  Now it has a few acres to grow!   

The future garden is 56×40.  That’s huge!   We started smaller but I complained it wasn’t big enough so we expanded another few feet (thanks Matthew!).  Now that I can stand inside the garden space I realize how big it is and how many plants it would take to fill up the area.   Maybe I went a little crazy, but at least we have room to grow!  

It’s hard to figure out what steps to do first when you’re starting from the beginning (and in Winter).   I suppose our steps could have been in a different order to make things easier on us, but with us spending sporadic weekends up there and wanting to use the equipment when we have it to avoid extra rental day costs we’re doing things as we can.  For example, over Thanksgiving we put in the fence posts because the weather was nice and we had a free weekend.  Now that the posts are up, there’s no way a truck is going to be able to empty soil/compost into it easily when Spring is here.  That means they will have to dump it nearby and we’ll have to move it into the garden ourselves.  It’s extra work, but we think in the end it’s going to make the process completed quicker.  Plus to be honest, the process is sometimes much more fun than the complete project.  

With the garden being the first thing we want completed we wanted to get a jump on turning the soil.  We rented a skid steer for a weekend to remove the top layer of grass and turn the soil under neath.  We are in the Catskills so we knew it was going to be rocky but we weren’t sure how rocky it was going to be.  Our land is former farm land, but it sure is rocky too.  Over the next few visits we’ll be removing as many as the rocks as we can.  There’s lots of rocks. I guestimated millions.   There’s no way we are going to be able to remove all the rocks, but there are some big ones (that I can’t even lift) that need to be removed as well as endless smaller ones.  The goal is for every rock that’s larger than a tennis ball to be removed.  You might think this sounds easy, but there’s tons of rocks and we dug deep to turn the soil… so rocks are everywhere. I see them in my nightmares!   I tried to find a easier way to do this but without some heavy duty farm equipment, it seems by rake and hand is easiest.  You’ll see me sitting in the dirt often in the next few months.  It might look like I’m not doing anything but I really am!  I’m going to become a expert rock picker.   The rocks are going to be used to line the exterior of the garden too, we’re trying to give back to the land whatever we dig up.  We think lining the outside of the garden with rocks will help keep pests from digging into the garden.  Since we won’t be able to guard the garden on a daily basis we’re trying to protect it however we can.  It’s going to be a learning process with some heartbreak involved. 

In the pictures below you’ll see our garden posts up.   I’ll be doing a whole series on how we built our garden fence.  Right now the fence posts are in (hard work).  Next, the fencing material and wood needs to be attached to make a complete fence.  This is going to take time, some friends and some hopeful warmer days.  I’ll be documenting all the steps so by end of Spring you should see a entire DIY fence post coming!  

Now let’s first see the damage we did over the weekend.  

Before:
Removing Grass For Garden_38

After:
Removing Grass For Garden_36

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January Tomato Harvest…. WHAT?!

Yup, the title is correct.  We picked tomatoes in January.   It’s crazy!

If you live in the Northeast then you probably have witnessed this confusing “Winter” weather.    Usually in November you can feel the weather start to change but this year it didn’t hit.  Then December came and I thought “Well, now it’s going to feel like Winter”.  And on a few days, it did.  But the majority of the days did not feel like Winter.  Oh Christmas Eve we took a walk, me in short sleeves and Matthew in shorts.  It was in the 70’s!  ON CHRISTMAS EVE. I have to type that in caps to understand the craziness.  December set temperature records across NYC, including Christmas day.   Now it’s the beginning of January and I think it’s finally starting to feel like Winter. Winter, are you here? It’s me, Pamela.  Snow if you can hear me. 

Because of the lack of near frost temperatures and our schedule getting busy, this year we didn’t cut down our tomato plants like we usually do at the beginning of November.  There were still some green tomatoes on the plants and the weather was still changing daily so we left the plants up.  November came, December came, and the tomato plants stayed up.  During the Winter we don’t visit the garden everyday so you can imagine my surprise when I checked it out one day and I saw all these tomatoes on the plants!   Can you believe it?  I thought the plants would be dead by now, but instead they’ve been on the roof making tomatoes! What busy plants…!
Picking Tomatoes in January_4

So with it finally feeling like Winter (40 degrees out today) and seeing the upcoming night time temperatures I took a basket to the garden this weekend and picked pounds of tomatoes.  I can’t believe we were able to pick tomatoes in the beginning of January!
Picking Tomatoes in January_9

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