I’M ON VACATION! Excuse the use of caps lock, but I have not had a full week of vacation since Christmas 2014. The Type A gal in me loves schedules; days off from work, as enjoyable as they may be, throw me off-kilter. However, they are necessary for one’s well-being, but of course. I always take the first or second week of August off from work. I’ve done that for all six years I’ve worked at the hospital. It’s a bit arbitrary, but I’d rather work through July and have an August vacation to look forward to than to take a week off in July and wish I had vacation come August.

What are my plans for this vacation? It’s going to be a wonderful staycation. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but plans include handing in my apartment lease, (which is been drama worthy of a separate blog post…) apartment cleaning and laundry (both of which desperately need to be done), a trip to the beach (because I love the Rockaways!), and working on some recipes. No work = me being at home during the day = good natural lighting for photos. This summer, I have not been able to update this dear blog of mine nearly as much as I’ve wanted to. I’ve been training a total of  six new employees at work between two different job functions. Coupled with the aforementioned apartment lease drama, it has all left me drained by day’s end. Now, I’m feeling energized again. Time to rectify that and make some food!


Yesterday, I was perusing through the Columbia University Greenmarket. With no agenda except to find squash blossoms, I said to myself, “Buy some fruit and see what you can make out of it.” I eyed some gorgeous yellow plums at one stand, but was bummed to see they were $5 a box. Three vendors down, yellow plums were two for $4. YASSSS. A beautiful heaping pint of blueberries seduced me, as well. Knowing that I also had an unused pie crust in my fridge, my first thought was, “Galette!” Then I was bummed when I couldn’t find squash blossoms.


I wish that story was a little more exciting…*ahem*…but at least a good dessert sprung to fruition.


Yellow Plum & Blueberry Galette
(Serves 4 – 6, depending on slice size)

– 8 yellow plums, pitted and chopped
– 1 & 1/2 cups blueberries
– 1 cup ricotta
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 pie crust, from pre-made dough or your own recipe
– 1 tablespoon cold water, in a small dish
– Granulated sugar, for decorating (optional)

Before We Get Started…

– Feel free to adjust the fruit measurements to your liking. The first time I made this, I cut up a dozen yellow plums, and it turned out to be way too much. Use your best judgement! Start by slicing eight, then slice more as needed.

– If you can not make your own pie crust, the ready-made pie crust at the grocery store works miracles here.

– I baked my galette on a baking sheet. If the size of the pie crust dough slightly goes over the edge of the sheet, do not worry! Remember that you’ll be folding the edges of the dough into the galette during preparation.



1.) Preheat oven to 375 °F.

2.) In small bowl, mix ricotta, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla. Set aside.

3.) In medium bowl, combine chopped yellow plums, blueberries, and sugar. Set aside.

4.) If making your own pie crust, follow your preferred recipe. Roll dough into 10″ – 12″ round. If using a pre-made pie crust, skip ahead to #5.

5.) Lightly grease baking sheet. Place pie crust dough on sheet. Spread all of the ricotta mixture into the middle of the pie crust dough in the shape of a circle; be sure to leave one inch around the edges, as this is where the dough will fold back into the galette. Place fruit mixture on top of the ricotta mixture. Fold edges of the dough decoratively into the galette. Use the water to moisten and seal the folds of the dough. Lightly moisten edges of dough and sprinkle on sugar, if preferred.

6.) Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven; place baking pan on top of cooling rack and allow galette to cook off 10 – 15 minutes. After that time, carefully transfer the galette to a serving plate.


I have this really odd habit of punishing myself by cooking food in my oven, such as I did last night, whenever New York City is placed under a Heat Advisory. Highs reaching the mid-90s this week? No matter! Relatively tiny kitchen with little air circulation that traps heat for hours on end? Who cares? I’m clearly a culinary masochist.


I had uncooked chicken breasts in my fridge, an abundance of summer squash from a farmers’ market, and leftover hummus from when I invited friends over for cocktails and snacks a few nights back. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. I blasted the A/C in my bedroom, opened the door to encourage said cold air to spill into the living and dining areas, and went to battle against a 450 degree oven with a Pyrex pan full of raw poultry and two oven mitts.


I won, though heart palpitations brought on by heat exhaustion almost got the best of me.


Next time, I’ll just order Thai on Seamless, like a normal person. I was feeling advantageous, or, perhaps, just stubborn enough in the quest to clear some stuff out of my fridge.


In the past, I’ve looked for other items to dress my chicken in. Garlic powder and olive oil usually win on any average night. At times, if I get a rotisserie chicken to pick apart, I’ll drizzle honey on it, straight-up. (That was a childhood favorite of mine. I’d do it whenever my parents would get an overly-dry rotisserie chicken from my hometown’s old Finast.) However, one night, many moons ago, when sautéing chicken, I saw hummus in my fridge. I plopped a spoonful onto my hot chicken breast and let it melt down. It was next level. The sauce it created was delectable. It brought forth a slightly nutty yet citric flavor profile. Initially, it never occurred to me to bake chicken with hummus coating it, but, why not? I tried it with great success!

I’ll credit Gimme Some Oven with inspiring the summer squash pairing. I usually cook my vegetables on the side when making this dish, but, while baking, the hummus slowly drips onto the vegetables; mixed with the simmering chicken juices, its own sauce is created. It is beyond fantastic, borderline hedonistic, like all good meals should be.


Hummus-Crusted Chicken
(Adapted from Gimme Some Oven’s recipe for Hummus-Crusted Chicken)
(Serves 3)


-3 chicken breasts, bone-in or boneless, patted dry
-1 cup hummus, store-bought or homemade
-1 zucchini, chopped
-1 yellow squash, chopped
-1 small yellow or white onion, diced
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 tablespoon white wine or white cooking wine
-1 teaspoon paprika or chili powder
-Salt and pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– After a couple of tests runs of this recipe, I’ve concluded that bone-in breasts hold up a bit better than boneless and yield juicer meat; that being said, thicker bone-in breast may take a few extra minutes of cooking time compared to boneless. I would suggest a 40 minute baking time for bone-in breasts that can’t easily be pounded down. Be sure to check chicken for doneness, regardless, prior to eating.

– The type of hummus you choose will certainly change the flavor profiles of this dish. I’ve made it with plain hummus and garlic hummus. For these photos, I used store-bought lemon rosemary hummus, and it was wonderful! The rosemary evokes a bit of an autumnal feel to the dish overall.


1.) Preheat oven to 450 °F. Grease one large baking dish and set aside.

2.) Pat chicken breasts dry. Season with salt & pepper, to taste, and set aside.

3.) In a large bowl, combine zucchini, yellow squash, onion, olive oil, and white wine until vegetables are evenly coated.

4.) Place vegetables in baking dish. Place chicken on top of vegetables. Spread hummus evenly on top of the chicken. Sprinkle paprika or chili powder on top of hummus.

5.) Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked through. Let sit for ten minutes before serving.

I’m not a huge drinker. I never have been. I prefer quality over quantity. Give me a good hard cider or a uniquely crafted cocktail once a month over numerous Happy Hours with subpar wine or another pink frozen margarita made with cheap tequila. Like the development of a memorable recipe, the craft of creating a stand-out cocktail is a true art. Could I do it? Hell no. Can I appreciate what others do? Absolutely.

A few weeks ago, the Instagram fiend in me came across a contest on Cocktail Courier’s photo feed: Like the photo they just posted, tag a friend, and be entered to win two boxes of Daisy de Elqui, a pisco-based drink by mixologist Roberto Rosa of The Plaza Hotel. What is Cocktail Courier, exactly? Think Blue Apron, but for drinks. Top bartenders have crafted amazing cocktail recipes. You, the future home bartender and imbiber, scan through their website for drink options choose which one(s) you want to make. Cocktail Courier will deliver all of the pre-portioned ingredients to your door. How wonderful! Well, a few days after I liked that photo, I got an Instagram notification alerting me that I had won, as well as the friend I had tagged. (Hey, Adam!) NICE! We didn’t order our boxes right away, but after an exceedingly long work month, topped off by an excruciatingly painful work week, I decided, “Yeeeah. We’re ordering both boxes to be delivered for Friday.” Cheers to that decision!

On said Friday night, Adam, his brother James, my roommate Vedika, and my college friend Lauren gathered in my cozy living room, surrounded by charcuterie, brie, liquor, and the ethereal sounds of Erykah Badu Radio on iTunes. We cracked open the boxes to find a very neat and tidy set-up. All portions of liquor were sealed in separate padded cardboard sections. The jalapeño-honey mix and fresh-squeezed lemon juice came in a sealed bag with a cold pack to keep them at a perfect temperature. Even the grapes that came for the cocktails were green and plump. One has the option to buy mixing tools and glasses from the web site. Luckily for me, Vedika bartends on the side and provided me with all of my tools. (Roommate perks.)

This was my first time crafting an  honest – to – goodness cocktail since, and correct me if I’m wrong, mixing Brugal with some ginger ale in a red Solo cup at a house party doesn’t really count. I’m so delightfully Type A in so many aspects of my life, so I followed the directions to a T and made the first four glasses individually. Adam made the second four glasses, and he just put it all of the ingredients into the cocktail shaker at once. (So, we differ in our techniques a little…) Regardless, each glass turned out delicious! Those that know me well know my aversion to anything spicy; case in point, when Vedika was making dinner the other night with onions and Indian spices, my entire face started to burn as I was idly sitting in our living room watching Hulu. Yeah. It’s that bad. I knew there was jalapeño in this cocktail, but the bite of it was offset by the tang of the lemon, the slightly citric taste of the muddled green grapes, and the sweetness of the orange liqueur and honey. This cocktail was absolutely perfect for a summery Friday night!

To check out the cocktail recipe that we crafted, the Daisy de Elqui, click on this pretty little link.

I’m definitely digging Cocktail Courier. As a sporadic drinker, I doubt I’d sign up for a subscription anytime soon, but with the option of à la carte ordering, I could definitely see myself ordering another box of cocktail fixins in the future. It certainly makes for a unique, fun, and interactive evening with a few good friends.

Just a few photos of the evening…









NOTE: The post is not an ad for Cocktail Courier, nor have I been asked to speak about it. I merely wanted to share my wonderful experience!

The summer solstice has occurred, and, with it, the start of chilled soup season. The dog days of summer are upon us, if I can be clichéd. As I sit here, typing out this prose, it’s 90 degrees with a line of severe thunderstorms looming to the west. The humidity is making both my body and brain listless. The last thing I want to do cook, bake, or put much heat-induced effort into meal creation. Over the years, I have adapted a pretty strict summer diet. On any given night, I’m usually eating some combination of an avocado, cucumbers dressed with plain Greek yogurt and garlic powder, cheddar cheese, pineapple, prosciutto on toast, and unsweetened iced tea. It may lack in nutritional balance, but…damn. It’s always satisfying. The stove glares at me from afar, and I tell it, “I’ll see you again at the end of September.”

So hot, even my cucumber is sweating!

Over the years, I’ve toyed with various cold soups, and the results have never really pleased me. Gazpacho is easy, yet admittedly time-consuming. I always find an excuse to buy it from the store because Westside Market / Fairway / Whole Foods / Samad’s Gourmet / anyone else makes it better than I do! (Damn self-loathing.) As for vichyssoise, my paternal grandmother, Mamie, had that on lock. I have yet to create a batch as good as hers. Then comes the oft-consumed cucumber yogurt soup. It’s simple. It’s light. It’s relatively filling. I can make it with four ingredients. However, one misstep in the recipe, and I’ll end up with unpalatable pale green water. Needless to say, I’ve made a lot of unpalatable plate green water over the years. I’ve played with ratios for more times than I care to count: more cucumbers, fewer cucumbers, different kinds of cucumbers, Greek yogurt instead of plain yogurt, fresh dill versus dried dill, less olive oil, you name it. However, I must mark June 22nd, 2015, as the day I finally got my figurative shit together and had my true “Aha!” moment.

Avocados, is there anything you can’t do?

My past cucumber yogurt soup recipes (or abominations, if I may continue to self-loathe) achieved a creamy mouth feel once I made the transition from plain to Greek yogurt, but the avocado gives it full body. Dare I say, fresh out of the blender, it’s almost fluffy. In addition, I decided to add some lemon zest and juice, helping it achieve a wonderful brightness.


Goodbye unpalatable pale green water, hello full-bodied and bright moss green soup!

(Okay, I’m still working on better descriptive terms. One thing at a time, eh?)


Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup

(Serves Four)


– 2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
– 1 avocado, cubed
– 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt (full-fat)
– 1 & 1/2 cups cold water
– 1 teaspoon dried dill
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– Zest of 1 lemon
– Juice of half a lemon
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– If making en masse and saving servings for lunches / dinners for the week, be sure to give each batch a good stir or shake before eating, as there tends to be a slight separation of ingredients after it’s sat in the fridge.

– Depending on the size of the blender / food processor being used to blend the soup, combine ingredients in batches, if necessary.

– If I do say so myself, these are best served with some freshly toasted crusty white bread and a few slices of prosciutto.



1.) Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until creamy.

2.) Serve immediately, or place in fridge until ready to serve.



Prosciutto Toasts and Cucumber Dreams, until next time…!