Roasted Cherries With Maple and Cinnamon

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We’ve been topping our morning oatmeal with various fresh and frozen fruits to keep things interesting, so I knew that cherries would be a winner when we bought a big bag of them on Sunday. That night, I chopped up a handful, stirred in a little sugar, and let them macerate in the fridge before mixing them into our oatmeal the next morning. They were delicious and fresh, but I knew I needed to try them roasted too. I wanted a concentrated sweetness and flavor, plus I liked the thought of them breaking down a little texturally as well. Also, pitting raw cherries is a big mess if you don’t have a cherry pitter. Much easier to smash soft cherries and pick those pits out with ease.

After eating them this morning, I’m so glad I went with the roasting. Now all I can think of is everything else these would be good on. Yogurt, ice cream… excuse me while I make a new grocery list.

Roasted Cherries With Maple and Cinnamon

  • Roughly 3+ handfuls of cherries, stems removed but otherwise left intact
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup (I always use grade B)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425.

Place your cherries in a small baking dish. I used a pie plate, and that seemed to work well and kept the juices together, which in turn helped the cherries stay juicier. Add the maple syrup and cinnamon and stir well to combine and get every cherry coated and glistening.

Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. I think I let mine go for about 35 minutes, but it depends on how soft you want them to be. The maple syrup started to lightly burn a bit around the edges of the pan, but the cherries were more than fine.

Remove from oven and let cool a little before lightly mashing to remove the pits. Put them on everything or eat them straight out of a spoon. Your choice.

Meal Plan: July 26-August 1

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit or vegetables), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Josh getting his sushi roll on
Josh getting his sushi roll on

July 26-August 1

Happy Monday! We had a great weekend, with the right balance of business and relaxation. We took a sushi rolling class on Saturday that was so much fun. I don’t know how often we’ll do it at home (spring rolls are way easier), but I love knowing that I can and having all the right tools! The class was led by the chef from Fusian, which is a local sushi chain that allows you to pick and choose your fillings/toppings and have it assembled in front of you, Chipotle style. Best sushi ever? Nope. However, it’s good and fun, and we’ve enjoyed having a location nearby this year.

We’re so happy to see tomatoes at the market, and will eat them as much as we can until the season is over (which also translates to baskets of cherry tomatoes on hand for snacking, as well as any used for cooking).

Breakfast

Snack

Lunch

Dinner

Portugal: Sintra, Cascais, and Cabo da Roca

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Lo! Cintra’s glorious Eden intervenes, in variegated maze of mount and glen.

-Lord Byron

When someone like Lord Byron feels that strongly about the beauty of a place, you know it’s going to be gorgeous, and Sintra more than lived up to the hype. Sintra is the only spot we visited that I really regret not spending more time in, because it would take days to see it all, and we just didn’t spend as much time there as necessary. Next time!

We, who never ever go on tour group excursions, actually used a fantastic company called We Hate Tourism Tours for our trip that day, and got driven around, fed, had a glass of wine that seemed bottomless during lunch, were shown a variety of spots in the region, and were told so much about Lisbon and Portugal by people who love it dearly. There were only 7 of us on the tour, including a couple from Croatia, a couple from Germany, and a woman from Italy, so it wound up feeling like a day with friends by the end (the Croatians in particular were lovely).

Our guides bypassed the bigger, more touristy palaces (which I would love to see one day) and took us straight to Palacio and Parque de Monserrate, a much smaller but still beautiful palace surrounded by acres of gardens. We wandered there for hours, and saw very few people, which only added to the romantic atmosphere. After that, we went to Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost point of Europe. The cliffs were gorgeous, and if you squinted hard, you could almost see New Jersey (not really). Our tour ended on the beach in beautiful Cascais, which feels like the Riviera, and Josh and I wound up back there for our last day in Portugal, just being beach bums, drinking beer from plastic cups and eating spicy grilled chicken and fries out of a plastic bag as we soaked in the sun and stayed out of the freezing cold water.

Favorite spots in Cascais:

  • Restaurante Dom Manolo– Piri piri chicken and fries. Cheap and spicy. Say yes to the sauce, and eat it on the beach.
  • Santini– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: best gelato ever. I miss the passion fruit every day.

Portugal, we love you and miss you.

Our tips for Lisbon and Porto

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Portugal: Porto

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Porto was our other main destination on our trip (mainly because I wanted to see this bookstore), and it was interesting to see the difference between the two cities, though we only stayed a few days. Porto is so old, with neighborhoods dating back to medieval times, and the city had much more of an old world European feel, as opposed to Lisbon’s much more Mediterranean feel. We both felt like the economic downturn in Portugal was a lot more apparent in Porto as well. There were huge gorgeous buildings around the main square that were empty and crumbling from neglect, giving it a much more haunting atmosphere. Overall, Lisbon was hands down our favorite city, but I’m really glad we ventured north to experience another facet of Portugal.

Note: Francesinha is the iconic dish of the area, and is a delicious gut bomb. We wound up trying one in a small town north of Porto where we met up with a college friend of mine, so I don’t have a good spot in the city to recommend, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to track one down.

Favorite restaurants in Porto:

  • Traveller Caffe– This is a fun little spot to get a light meal. Lots of juices and fresh smoothies. They really do try to appeal to travelers (hence the name), so it’s a good spot to hit up if you’re feeling a little homesick.
  • Pedro dos Frangos– We loved this inexpensive little local spot. A whole grilled chicken, french fries, sauce picante, and two bottles of sangria later, we were feeling pretty good.
  • Solar Moinho de Vento– One of my favorite meals from our entire trip. If we had stayed in Porto longer, we definitely would have gone back. Basically, this placed serves the food that your imaginary Portuguese grandmother who happens to be an incredible chef would serve. Classic dishes, executed perfectly.
  • Leitaria da Quinta do Paco Baixa– A lot of our meals/snacks in Porto were from whatever bakery we happened to pass at that moment, and this one specialized in eclairs. So good.
  • Sandeman Port Winery– Neither of us had any experience drinking port, and we really enjoyed both the tour and the tasting, as well as learning more about the history of this beautiful city. Well worth the price of admission.

To see my list of recommendations for Lisbon, click here.

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Portugal: Lisbon

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Lisbon is a magical city, and we spent most of our recent two week vacation wandering its (steep) streets and inhaling as much of its food as possible. The people are friendly, a surprising amount of English is spoken (and they aren’t rude about pathetic attempts to speak Portuguese), and there is so much history around every corner.

If you’ve ever contemplated visiting, you should go now. If you haven’t ever thought about it, still go now. Make sure you take comfortable shoes, because you will be walking more than you thought possible. It works out, because you can eat and drink as much as you want and still come home in better shape than when you left.

Here are some of our favorite restaurants we hit up:

  • Pateo 13 Lisboa– this gem in the middle of the Alfama district is always packed, but the wait is worth it for simple grilled fish and vegetables. The smell of sardines on the grill drew us in, and we wound up eating here twice. Tip: make one person stand in line, and send another person inside to the bar for a few cervejas.
  • Sol e Pesca– Another place that we hit two times, this is one of the places that the patron saint of gluttonous travelers, Anthony Bourdain, visited on his trip to Lisbon. The restaurant focuses on canned fish, which are excellent, but I’m still dreaming about the mussels on their appetizer menu. The. Best.
  • Bistro 100 Maneiras– I turned 30 while we were traveling, and we thought we had made reservations to 100 Maneiras for their prix fix menu. Turns out, our reservation was at the Bistro, a more relaxed a la carte space. While I obviously  can’t compare the two from experience, all I can say is that the Bistro was beyond excellent, and I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate my birthday.
  • O Beco– One of our Air B&B hostesses recommended this spot, saying that they had the best authentic bacalhau (salted dried cod, a staple here) in the city. I got the bacalhau rice and it was some of the best fish I had on our trip.
  • Mini Bar– Jose Avillez is a star of the Lisbon food scene, with a wide variety of restaurants scattered through the city. Mini Bar is a fun spot for drinks and a variety of small bites. Our experience there was an odd one, I’m not going to lie, and we had to wait often for half an hour to get our next course (which when a course is only 1-2 bites each, that’s a loooooong time). However, our waiter at the end of the night was very kind and extremely apologetic and explained that due to the festival over the previous weekend, they had several staff members call in “sick” and were seriously shorthanded. We would definitely give it another shot, because the food was incredible, imaginative, and very different from anything we’ve had before.
  • Cervejaria Ramiro– Another Bourdain spot, this place is all about the seafood, and we braved the insane line twice for a chance to eat the best shellfish I’ve ever had. Get the garlic shrimp, pay for the bread, order whatever else looks good, and finish with the steak sandwich. Just do it.
  • Nova Pombalina– A fun little sandwich spot, also serving great fresh juices. The suckling pig sandwich is so damn tasty, and make sure you ask for the special sauce, some magical blend of pig drippings, vinegar, and lots of black pepper and garlic.
  • Uncle George Cafe– We stayed in two different apartments while in Lisbon, and we found this place towards to end of our stay at our second apartment. The old woman who runs the place could not be sweeter, and she made excellent pastries, sandwiches, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. We were sad that we didn’t know about her for more of our time there, because we would have eaten breakfast there regularly.
  • Mercado da Ribeira– TimeOut Magazine opened a food court of sorts next to the historic farmers market in Lisbon, and it’s a fun spot to try a lot of different foods, and judging by the crowd, it’s extremely popular. We got a few dishes each from Sea Me, Alexandre Silva, and Marlene Vieira, and everything was great.
  • Santini– The best damn gelato in the world. Stick to the fruit flavors, the passion fruit being my hands down favorite. Don’t ask how many scoops I ate during our trip. Just don’t.
  • A Ginjinha– Bourdain yet again. This tiny shop sells one thing, ginjinha, a cherry liquor that is crazy delicious. Make sure you get it with cherries in your tiny cup, and don’t count how many shots you sip per visit. It’s cheap and delicious, and we decided to check our bags coming back from Portugal just so we could bring back a few bottles of the stuff.
  • Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém– One of the quintessential pastries in Portugal, Lisbon in particular, are sweet little egg custard tarts. They go by a variety of names, pastel or pasteis de nata being the most common, but only this shop can claim to make true Pasteis de Belem, named after the famous monastery down the road. We ate these tarts in a lot of different places through our trip, but these were our favorite.

I’m going to go dream of the food and the winding streets and hills now.

Lisbon, we love you and miss you.

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Meal Plan: July 19-July 25

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit or vegetables), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

My helpful(?) assistant
My helpful(?) assistant

July 19-July 25

July is more than halfway over! How?! This year has flown by, even weeks like this past one, that didn’t have anything special occur. Sometimes life is sweetest when it’s at its most simple.

We’re so happy to see tomatoes and corn at the farmer’s market! We had a surprisingly hot weekend, and it made it easy to grab them, as well as a watermelon, to celebrate the season.

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal w/ strawberries
  • Avocado toast

Snack

  • Cilantro hummus– sub basil, serve with carrots and cucumbers
  • Watermelon

Lunch

  • Thai farro bowl– sub quinoa for the faro, add lots of roasted vegetables

Dinner

Meal Plan: July 12-July 18

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit or vegetables), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Slight humidity outside I'd say
Slight humidity outside I’d say

July 12-July 18

Fun fact: Cincinnati has an average 81 days with less than 30% cloud coverage per year. 81 sunny days out of 365. All of the cities I’ve lived in before had over 100, and I can definitely see and feel the difference. This summer has been the coolest I have ever experienced, and it seems that at least half of every week has contained pouring rain and days of threatening clouds.

Dude, isn’t the midwest supposed to be tons of sunshine for all of the crops? I’m confused. I don’t dislike it as much as I would have thought, but it’s definitely taking some getting used to.

All of this is an elaborate way to explain why I’m still making things like chili in July. Plus, both the chili and the curry make a lot of leftovers, which means less cooking, which means fewer dishes.

Sometimes fewer dishes wins.

Also, my peach thyme sorbet has made it to round 1 of Food52’s contest for the best non-dairy frozen dessert! You can sign up to be a tester here.

Breakfast

Snack

Lunch

Dinner