Baseball is back. I’ve missed it, mostly. During the off season the Red Sox let Mookie and Brock get away. They’ve been favorites in our house, so it’s a little sad. I’m excited for the other guys to get to shine though. Benny, Bogaerts, Chavis, JD… they have a good offensive team.
I’ve been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember. I was a diehard Jays fan during the “Touch ’em all Joe” World Series. My brothers and I screamed and jumped so hard that the VCR fell off the TV.
Tim and I fell in love with the Red Sox in 2007. After nearly a decade of not paying much attention to baseball, we were on a fall anniversary trip and the Red Sox were in it. I started planning our outings around the playoff schedule. It was Dustin Pedroia’s rookie year. What a time to join Red Sox Nation! Dustin and Papi will forever be my all time favorites. I cried when Papi retired. If Pedroia ever plays again I’ll cry too.
It’s gonna be a weird season (#ThanksCorona). But, whatever it looks like, however short it may be, we will be cheering on the Red Sox. It’s a bit of brightness during a dark time. I like to plan fun foods to eat during the games. Things that we might eat at the ballpark: nachos, pizza, popcorn, hotdogs, fries… So if you need us for the next while, we’ll be eating all the baseball food, yelling at the TV, and texting LeBlanc about how much we love having Jerry Remy back in the booth.
Our Favorite Nachos
our favorite hot toppings: sautéed onions and bell peppers, ground meat, pinto beans, black beans
salt, to taste
tortilla chips, lots of them
grated cheese, a lot, like more than you think you’ll need
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (toaster oven please bc summer!).
Cook or re-heat any hot toppings. Stir in some taco seasoning and a pinch of salt.
Arrange the chips in a layer with no gaps for cheese to fall through. This is important. Sprinkle with a ton of evenly distributed cheese. Layer with more chips. Add more cheese. This is like chip lasagna. Do a third layer if you want. We usually stick to two. But, it’s 2020, nothing makes sense. Maybe we’ve been making nachos all wrong by omitting the third layer. Bake for a few minutes, check on the cheese, bake a little longer if it’s not all the way melted. You can always do more melting. You can never un-melt burnt cheese.
When the nachos are perfect, take them out of the oven. Plomp them onto some plates. Top with those cooked hot toppings. Add the sour cream, salsa, avocado, tomatoes, and anything oniony. Did I forget anything? Oh! Tim likes thinly sliced black olives. I think it’s weird, but if he’s in charge I’ll eat it without complaint and will probably like it.
The flavor of a tomato that’s been warmed by the sun. It’s simultaneously bright and deep, acidic, sweet, and deeply rich. The warmth of the sun mellowing its sharp acidity, turning it into a gentle escape. I know these tomatoes. I can still taste them on my tongue. A childhood memory that’s grown up.
This summer I will consider it an accomplishment if I can coax tomatoes out of what last spring was just lawn. The cherry tomatoes will be eaten out of hand. Dirt brushed off while the sun kisses our cheeks. Each tomato bursting as we bite into it. Beefsteaks will be sliced thick and served on toasted bread with a smear of mayo or a drizzle of very good olive oil, topped with fresh basil leaves and a sprinkle of Maldon salt. San Marzanos will be saved for sauce. Thick, rich, flavorful sauce that will envelop penne, luxuriate over meatballs on a sub, or gently braise meat. I love to make my own sauce. I think I’m good at it too. But, the other day I tried a sauce that gives mine some tough competition.
The Brooklyn based company started because the founder, Andrew Suzuka, wanted fewer battles over food with his daughter. (That’s fair.) So he created a tomato sauce that doesn’t have added sugar or preservatives and packed it with veggies and nutrients.
Tomato, carrot, red bell pepper, sweet potato, butternut squash, spinach, red beet, sweet onion, garlic, and shiitake mushroom are blended up to a thick purée that begs to have crusty garlic bread swiped through. (Have you tried Burlap & Barrel’s Purple Stripe Garlic yet?? It makes the most amazing garlic bread!)
I compared Otamot to another popular sauce brand. The other one could be fine. But, I want more than that. Otamot is a nutrient dense food that’s got 25% of your daily recommended vitamin E, 10% vitamin C, 20% vitamin A, 15% vitamin B3… Read the label. It’s really good stuff.
Sometimes I don’t have the energy to make food that’s this healthy and delicious. Or I don’t have all the ingredients on hand. Maybe it’s 5:30pm and I’m still working on a blog post and dinner needs to be quick and right now. I’m thankful that there are companies out there making truly high quality food that allows us to easily feed ourselves well.
I learned about Otamot at the virtual Yellow Co conference in June. A free jar was in our virtual goodie bag. Yes please! I used the entire jar to make a simple pasta. I’m regretting not saving some for pizza night though. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Next time I think I’ll get the Otamot Organic Mixed Sauce 4-Pack. It’s a good deal and I’d get to try all the flavors. And, youguys, Otamot is offering 10% off to my readers (code RACHO10)!
Here’s an easy dinner to make with your Otamot. Use the veggies that you have on hand. Sub any type of ground meat, or try a meat free option like cannellini beans, seitan, or vegan sausage.
Cook your protein in a large skillet for about 3-5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Cook until the veggies are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more. Add the Otamot sauce and cook until it’s bubbly.
While the veggies cook, cook the pasta to just shy of al dente. Add 1 cup pasta water to the sauce before draining the pasta. Stir the pasta into the sauce and let it finish cooking. Add salt if desired. Stir in butter, if using. If not, drizzle each serving with a bit of olive oil.
Otamot and Burlap & Barrel are affiliate links. I get a small commission for any sales generated from these referrals.
This morning started with laying in bed for an hour trying to convince myself to get up. After a week of vacation, where the only worries were which chips to eat with lunch and which movie to watch next, the to dos and weight of real life have come crashing back down. It’s enough to make me want to stay in bed until noon. Like last week.
I haven’t slept in until noon in years.
I took the week off from everything but cooking and the dishes. I didn’t work, I didn’t workout, I didn’t go to bed early. I needed a mental and physical break. I had our week’s meals planned, so all I had to do was follow along, or just eat the twelve bags of chips that we’d bought.
I’d planned to make Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon on Sunday, to eat while we watched Julie and Julia. It was perfection. Not just the dish, which is always the best meal I’ve ever made, but the movie itself.
It reminded me that I’m passionate about food. That I want more than drudgery, whatever that means. It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday, every week, exhausted race to eat and go to bed so I can do it all again tomorrow. I was reminded that I want more than this.
I don’t know what that looks like. But, I was inspired to figure it out. And then I woke up this morning. A bit depressed, with a headache, not wanting to start the day well, with a workout and some quiet coffee and journaling time.
Vacation is good. It’s necessary. We take lots of breaks throughout the year. We’re not go go go people. We live a slow and meaningful, simple life. But even that feels exhausting after vacation.
I got up. An hour late. I worked out. I wrote this post on my phone while I did. I had coffee and I journaled. I got stuff from the to do list done. I made turkey and white bean chili. But, still, my anxieties remain. I have all these ideas that make me feel like I’m staring into a murky pond at something that might be glimmering at the bottom. It could be a beautiful copper pot (who needs a treasure chest of gold anyways?!), or just a piece of glass that’s gonna cut my foot when I wade in. Will the waters part so I can see before I step? Probably not. It’s that thin line between irresponsibility and faith.
Maybe it’s time to jump.
(Uh, I told you I made chili. Here’s the recipe.)
Turkey and White Bean Chili
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pounds ground turkey
1 sweet/Vidalia, or yellow onion, chopped
2 cups chopped butternut squash (or carrot and squash)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced hot pepper (I’m using cayenne, because I grew it in my garden), ribs and seeds removed (optional – keep for more heat)
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 quart chicken broth
2-14 oz. cans cannellini/white kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
for serving: sour cream, and 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (green part only)
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Once it’s hot, add the turkey, onion, butternut squash, and salt (start with 1 teaspoon). Cook covered until turkey is cooked and veggies have started to soften, about 10-15 minutes (a bit longer if the turkey is still frozen), stirring occasionally. Add garlic, chile, and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. The butternut squash will kinda mash into everything. Good. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cook until beans are heated through, about 3-5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, 1 Tablespoon of butter, and the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add 1 teaspoon more salt if desired. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of scallions, with a warmed baguette slathered with herb butter.
To make this meal vegan, use vegan butter or just stick with olive oil, replace the meat with 1 ½ pounds of shiitakes or half tempeh and half shiitakes, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, use vegan sour cream.
Today didn’t go as I’d planned. I had some work that I was supposed to do. It didn’t happen. Not by choice. But then, I got to choose to not be frustrated. Do you hate the expression “It is what it is”? I know some people do. But, sometimes, it’s really the only thing that works. I could be mad that things didn’t go as I’d planned. I’d organized my week accordingly. Instead, I got to have a low key day. I watered the garden and gave the dog a long drink from the hose without hurry. I listened to the sound of food cooking in the skillet. I had a glass of wine at 4pm while I washed the dishes. It was a good day.
I had intended to make these enchiladas for dinner tomorrow. But, they looked too good to wait. I have our meals planned for the rest of the month. For tomorrow, now I have no idea. It might be tater tots dipped in chipotle mayo. Or sushi from the grocery store (our chef is amazing). Maybe cereal. I’ll worry about that tomorrow. For now, I’m here, and this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
I always want to hurry into the future, only to get there and want to move on to the next thing. Ever since I was a kid… I don’t know that I’ve enjoyed as much of the present as I could have. Until this summer. For the first time, maybe ever, I’ve been here, in the now.
I don’t like summer. I hate hate hate being hot. Sweaty is for workouts, but not for regular living. Humidity could leave forever and I’d be glad. I’m sure it’s great for my skin. Whatev. I don’t like that so many tourists come to here. I mean, I get it, it’s important for the economy blah blah blah… Many of them are quite lovely yada yada yada. But, it’s busy, it’s loud, it’s claustrophobic. I like quiet and cold. I like the hibernating times more than the big, busy, social events. I like a small, but meaningful life… And, I don’t like summer.
Everyone likes summer. Especially around here. But, every once in a while I’ll come across a kindred spirit who can’t wait for the chill of autumn.
This year, I’ve embraced it. Summer and I became friends-ish. It could be that it’s easier now that we live somewhere with seasons. I know it’s not going to be hot forever. So I can enjoy it while it lasts. There’s something to be said for weekends spent in the garden, glass of rosé in hand, nose in a book. For watering the garden, and then pointing the hose heavenward and gasping as the freezing water hits my skin. I found joy in summer this year. I’m glad it’s feeling more like fall, but summer was more than ok.
When we lived in Burbank, I missed things like soup in the summer. Because summer lasted for like ten months. This year, I didn’t think about it at all. I was too busy eating green beans in the garden. This summer we discovered pizza on the grill. We don’t want to turn the oven on, but who can go three months without pizza?! Solved that one. But, then I made an amazing potato chowder the other day. And I was ruined. Summer can be over. I’ve made soup again.
Today, I wanted enchiladas. I had a jar of salsa verde in the pantry that needed to not be in there anymore and a frozen plomp of ground turkey taking up the bacon’s space in the freezer. Seemed like it was time. The oven, alas, was ready to turn back on.
Enchiladas start with humble ingredients: onion, bell pepper that has seen better days, white beans, and salsa verde from Arcadia’s Kitchen.
The salsa is delicious. And sooooo spicy. I used only two tablespoons in the filling and I could feel the heat. I was originally going to make just salsa verde enchiladas. But, I wasn’t sure if our faces would burn off if I added enough to make a sauce. So I added some tomato sauce to balance it out. It was perfect. Spicy, but not too.
We’ve discovered a company called TortillaLand that makes fresh tortillas. They contain five ingredients and are ready to cook. We haven’t bought regular tortillas since we found these.
Enchilada assembly isn’t difficult. Scoop some filling on a tortilla. Fold in the ends and then roll it up. Or don’t fold in the ends and just roll it. I did a pan of each. I poured some of the tomato-salsa verde mixture into the bottom of the pan, added the rolled enchiladas, then poured the rest of the sauce overtop.
Once I topped everything with cheese, they went into the oven. It’s just the cheese that needs to melt and the sauce that needs to bubble. The filling is already hot, so twenty minutes was perfect.
I had two problems with this dinner. I finished cooking at like 3:30pm, because I wanted to photograph with the natural light. So I took a bite, cooled them down, then reheated them for later dinner. Second problem, I’d eaten all the sour cream a few days ago. I’d def add some to this. It would help with the heat from the salsa verde, and it just tastes good. Tim thinks I use a weird amount of sour cream on tacos and enchiladas. But, I like it. So I use what I use, and sometimes then I don’t have enough for my spontaneous blog post. But, it is what it is. Right?
Red and Green Enchiladas
2 T oil
1 pound ground meat (I used turkey)
2 1/2 C bell peppers (about 2), chopped
1 C onion, chopped
1-15 oz. can white beans
2 T salsa verde
8 fresh tortillas
1/4 C salsa verde
1 C tomato sauce
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t salt
stock or water
1-2 C grated colby jack cheese
toppings: avocado and sour cream
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. Add the meat and cook until it’s cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Add the salt, bell pepper, and onion. Cook until the veggies are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the beans and 2 tablespoons of salsa verde. Cook until the beans are hot, about 2-3 minutes more.
While the filling is cooking, cook the tortillas in a separate skillet, keeping them warm once they’re done in a clean tea towel. In a 2 cup measuring cup, stir together 1/4 cup salsa verde, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then fill with stock or water up to the 2 cup line.
Taste the filling and add more salt if needed. Pour a few scoops of the salsa verde-tomato mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 (or around that size) pan. Divide the filling between 8 tortillas. Roll them up and place them into the pan. Top with the remaining filling and sprinkle with cheese.* Bake until sauce is hot and cheese is bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes. Let them cool and set for a few minutes, then serve topped with avocado and sour cream.
*(The enchiladas can be cooled, covered, and frozen at this point. I prefer to use a metal pan if freezing. It can go right into the oven from the freezer – take plastic wrap off and cover the pan with tinfoil. From frozen will obviously take longer to bake than the original. Give it an hour-ish and check it on your instant read thermometer to make sure it’s come to a safe temp. If not, bake it some more.)
When I think of kohlrabi, I think of a taste that’s like a combination of broccoli and cauliflower. It’s kinda sweet and mild and buttery. When I look at kohlrabi, I think of Yoda… Green, kinda funny looking, but really awesome when you give it a try.
Steaming seemed like the best way to soften the kohlrabi without rendering them tough. They’re pretty dense, so it took a while, but that gave me plenty of time to work on a nice filling. I used leek, radish, cabbage, and apple. If you wanted to change those out for something else you could try shallots, onions, or carrots. Any type of cabbage would be great. Purple cabbage would add some great color, but I had green, and it was great. Thyme, basil, and parsley were the perfect herbs to compliment the kohlrabi and the filling. And some protein rounded out the dish to make it a main, rather than just a side. I used turkey, but chicken, tempeh, or even tofu would be awesome too!
Nuts and parmesan cheese are perfect for topping. If you want to keep it vegan, some nutritional yeast would be a great alternative to the cheese. I love to squeeze some lemon over most everything. This dish was no different. I prefer to have two lemon wedges at the ready. One for the start, and one to use partway through.
4 kohlrabi, top and bottom sliced off, peeled if desired, but it's not necessary, greens reserved
1 T olive oil
1 C leek/shallot/onion, diced
1/2 C radish or carrot, diced
1 C cabbage, chopped
1 apple, diced
to taste salt
to taste pepper
1 t fresh thyme (or 1/4 t dried)
1 T fresh basil (or 1 t dried), chopped
1 t dried parsley (or 1 T fresh), crushed
pinch cayenne (or 1/2 hot pepper, ribs and seeds removed, minced) (optional)
1 C turkey or chicken or sausage (cooked)/tempeh/tofu
1 C brown rice or quinoa (cooked)
1 bunch kohlrabi greens (or kale, chard, spinach, bok choy etc...), chopped
parmesan cheese, grated, or nutritional yeast, for topping
almonds, chopped, for topping
lemon wedges, for serving (2/serving)
Place kohlrabi cut side down in a steamer basket with about 2" boiling water in the bottom of a pot. Cover and steam for about 30-40 minutes, over medium heat, until kohlrabi is tender and pierces easily with a knife. Remove, let cool slightly, and scoop out the middle (and mash or chop and set aside).
While kohlrabi steams, heat a skillet and add olive oil. Add leek through thyme and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Add basil through kohlrabi greens, plus any of the center of the kohlrabi. Cook until all veggies are tender and the meat or tempeh/tofu is heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Spoon filling into hollowed out kohlrabi. Top with parmesan or nutritional yeast and almonds. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.