Gnocchi and Roasted Butternut Squash

The hubby and I ate at a local tapas restaurant over the weekend.  One of the plates we ordered was a gnocchi dish that was SO yummy!  Inspired by the dish and some fall ingredients, I created my own recipe.

Ingredients for 5 servings: 16 oz. refrigerated gnocchi, 4 Tbs. butter, one medium size butternut squash, 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, 4 Tbs. goat cheese, 1 shallot, 8 basil leaves, salt and pepper.

Directions:

 1. Peel the butternut squash and cut off ends.

1. Peel the butternut squash and cut off ends.

 2. Scoop out the seeds and dice into 1/4 inch pieces.

2. Scoop out the seeds and dice into 1/4 inch pieces.

 4.  Drizzle squash with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

4.  Drizzle squash with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

 5.  Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, tossing half way through cooking.

5.  Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, tossing half way through cooking.

 6. Mince one shallot.

6. Mince one shallot.

 7. Ciffonade basil leaves.

7. Ciffonade basil leaves.

 8.  Melt butter over medium heat, add shallots and cook stirring frequently for 4 minutes.

8.  Melt butter over medium heat, add shallots and cook stirring frequently for 4 minutes.

 9. Turn heat to low and add mascarpone cheese, a pinch of salt and pepper, heat through. Remove from heat. 

9. Turn heat to low and add mascarpone cheese, a pinch of salt and pepper, heat through. Remove from heat. 

 10. Cook gnocchi according to package directions.

10. Cook gnocchi according to package directions.

 11. Add gnocchi, squash, and basil.

11. Add gnocchi, squash, and basil.

 12.  Scoop mixture into a bowl and top with goat cheese.    Enjoy!    Emily

12.  Scoop mixture into a bowl and top with goat cheese.  

Enjoy!
   Emily

California Road Trip

My husband and I were fortunate enough to get away for 12 days to California.  From San Diego to San Francisco, here are some of the places we visited, food we ate, and places we stayed along our drive north.  All of our hotel rooms were booked with Hotel Tonight, a nifty app that finds fantastic, last minute, discounted hotel rooms you can book up to a week in advance.  Most of the restaurants and places we visited were recommendations by family and friends.

San Diego and Coronado, CA: 

We spent 3 days with my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Law, two gracious hosts who built our itinerary around food. 

  Tender Greens  was our first stop off the plane in Cali.  We ate delicious, fresh salads and sandwiches.  

Tender Greens was our first stop off the plane in Cali.  We ate delicious, fresh salads and sandwiches.  

Point Loma is a great place to learn more about San Diego's nautical and war history as well as take in stunning views of the bay and downtown skyline.

   Sushi Ota   was one of the best meals I have ever had.  The food was sooooo fresh that some of the things we ate were still moving.     

Sushi Ota was one of the best meals I have ever had.  The food was sooooo fresh that some of the things we ate were still moving.  

 

 The last time I visited the San Diego Zoo I was in high school and so much has changed.  The most exciting and cutest exhibit is certainly the giant pandas.  My aunt told us that they were especially active on this day...sitting up and eating for all the crowd to see.  

The last time I visited the San Diego Zoo I was in high school and so much has changed.  The most exciting and cutest exhibit is certainly the giant pandas.  My aunt told us that they were especially active on this day...sitting up and eating for all the crowd to see.  

 If you are in San Diego head to the   Hillcrest Farmers Market  .  Go for brunch and stay to do your shopping for the week.  I have yet to see a farmers market as eclectic as this one.      

If you are in San Diego head to the Hillcrest Farmers Market.  Go for brunch and stay to do your shopping for the week.  I have yet to see a farmers market as eclectic as this one.

 

 

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Specialty Produce:  A produce wholesaler with an amazing selection of every fruit, vegetable, and herb any chef or inspired home cook could ask for.  Be sure to bring a jacket...it's chilly!

***We stayed at my Aunt and Uncle's home in Coronado.  If you don't have family in the area I recommend the Glorietta Bay Inn or Hotel del Coronado.***

 

 

Santa Barbara, CA

La Super Rica Taqueria in Santa Barbara was an awesome surprise.  Simple yet amazing food. 

 

   McConnell's Fine Ice Cream   sure does live up to its name...it was SO yum!

McConnell's Fine Ice Cream sure does live up to its name...it was SO yum!

 

Pismo Beach, CA

   The Cliffs Resort   was the first hotel on our trip.  Waterfront room, great pool, and a paved walk on the cliff to take a sunset stroll.   

The Cliffs Resort was the first hotel on our trip.  Waterfront room, great pool, and a paved walk on the cliff to take a sunset stroll.

 

We toured the Hearst Castle where zebras roam free, there are two amazing pools, and katsup is always on the dining table.  

 

Monterey, CA

  The Spindrift Inn  was pretty spectacular.  Huge room, views of the ocean, a fireplace, and breakfast served to your room in the morning at the time you specify.  Yes, please.

The Spindrift Inn was pretty spectacular.  Huge room, views of the ocean, a fireplace, and breakfast served to your room in the morning at the time you specify.  Yes, please.

 Not to be missed is the   Turkish Grand Baazar   on Cannery Row.  

Not to be missed is the Turkish Grand Baazar on Cannery Row.  

Big Sur, CA

The Big Sur portion of our drive was the most remarkable and scenic.  If you find yourself there you MUST go to Nepenthe.   

 

Half Moon Bay, CA

If you are in Half Moon Bay, you must check out the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay for at least a drink on their patio. The view is spectacular and the food is pretty great too.  

 We stayed at the   Beach House, Half Moon Bay  .  Not quite the Ritz, but the view was great. We had a fireplace, and it was next to a well know seafood restaurant...

We stayed at the Beach House, Half Moon Bay.  Not quite the Ritz, but the view was great. We had a fireplace, and it was next to a well know seafood restaurant...

Sam's Chowder House was packed with patrons and fresh seafood of every kind.  We sat in the bar area which had a fantastic happy hour and lively crowd.  

San Francisco, CA

In the words of my mother, "the best way to get to know a city is to take a trolley tour and get the lay of the land."  So that's what we did.

We stayed at the Pier 2620 Hotel.  Located in the Fisherman's Wharf area, it was a quick walk or Uber ride to everything we wanted to see.

Swan Oyster Depot: Be prepared to wait in line but know that it is absolutely worth it.  Order the Crab Back for an incredibly unique treat.

 

We took an afternoon trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  These were some of the pieces that spoke to me.  :)

 

 There is no picture that can do the   Tonga Room in the Fairmont Hotel   San Francisco justice.  This is a true, yes, true tiki bar.  I had a mai tai...woah!   

There is no picture that can do the Tonga Room in the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco justice.  This is a true, yes, true tiki bar.  I had a mai tai...woah!

 

 The hubby and I were so fortunate to eat at the chef's table at   SPQR   in San Francisco.  Chef Matthew Accarrino's food is fabulous.  We were spoiled rotten.

The hubby and I were so fortunate to eat at the chef's table at SPQR in San Francisco.  Chef Matthew Accarrino's food is fabulous.  We were spoiled rotten.

We ate yummy Cantonese egg rolls, chow mein, and roast duck at R&G Lounge in China Town. We also did a little window shopping.

 Did you know that sour dough bread started in San Francisco?  Me either.  Head to   Boudin Bakery   for a sandwich or soup bowl in the original place.

Did you know that sour dough bread started in San Francisco?  Me either.  Head to Boudin Bakery for a sandwich or soup bowl in the original place.

 

Muir Beach, CA

We were thrilled to have a few days to travel with cousins Sarah and Tashi.  They covered impressive ground and kept things exciting with varying modes of transportation— train, car, boat, etc.

We took a beautiful hike up the cliffs surrounding Muir Beach.  There are marked hikes for all skill levels here.  

 

Beach? Check.  English Pub? Check. Lit by candle sticks? Check.  This unusual pub is a MUST.  A short trip north of San Francisco, The Pelican Inn is a treat after a hike at nearby Muir Beach or Muir Woods.

Palo Alto, CA

 Dinner at   In-and-Out  ...my first time.  

Dinner at In-and-Out...my first time.  

Enjoy!
    Emily
 

Staycation

stay·ca·tion: /stāˈkāSHn/ a vacation spent in one's own home town rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions. 

My husband and I staycation a lot.  We love our town-- Asheville, NC. We spend many weekends exploring new things in a place we have lived for over 10 years.

Here is how we do it:

Indulge in breakfast:  Donuts are sooooo hot right now, and my favorite place for them in Asheville is HOLE Hot Donuts and Fresh Coffee.  They cook your donut to order.  It comes out hot and they are light, fluffy, airy, amazing, delicious morsels sent from above.  I am serious.

Take a tour: Our town has quite a few different types of tours- trolley, pubcycle, comedy, walking.  I have enjoyed learning the history of our constantly growing mountain town.

 A hop on and off tour like  The Gray Line Trolley  is a great way to scope out the whole town, take note of where you want to return, and learn a little about history and architecture.  

A hop on and off tour like The Gray Line Trolley is a great way to scope out the whole town, take note of where you want to return, and learn a little about history and architecture.  

Go to the farmer's market: Check out what the local market is carrying, each week is a little different.  We like the pastries, soaps, fresh veggies, flowers, and of course the homemade pasta from Bertolini's Fresh Pasta. Check out a previous post for more about their pasta here.

 

Eat sweets: We eat dessert. With wine. Because it's vacation.

 

 

Afternoon libations: In Asheville, there are so many places to go for cocktails and the amount of breweries in this town seem to multiply weekly.  We go to places where we can really relax and that are not crowded.  On these staycation days we also try new places.     

 The Root Daiquiri, my favorite cocktail at  Sovereign Remedies . 

The Root Daiquiri, my favorite cocktail at Sovereign Remedies

  Burial Beer Co. -  Check out my post from a few weeks ago all about Burial and their new food stand  Salt & Smoke  -  here .

Burial Beer Co.-  Check out my post from a few weeks ago all about Burial and their new food stand Salt & Smoke - here.

Explore the side streets:  By getting off the beaten path you may discover a new restaurant or some unusual art. Here in Asheville the street art can definitely sneak up on you.

Go to a hotel but don't spend the night: Visit your local, beautiful, kinda swanky hotel.  In Asheville we head to The Grove Park Inn.   The view from the patio is breathtaking.  We have also taken advantage of their spa, even purchasing a day pass to use their pools.  

Dance: Check out local live music.  Right now I am all about Lyric and her ultra cool music and covers.  

Take selfies: 'Cause they are fun, especially on vacation.

 My favorite travel companion.

My favorite travel companion.

Enjoy, 
   Emily
 

Hottest New Food Venture in Asheville

 

Across Our Table sat down with Shannon McGaughey of Salt & Smoke, Asheville's hottest new food venture.  Shannon and her husband, Josiah, moved from Chicago three years ago to jump into the Asheville food scene.  A chance meeting with Jess and Doug Reiser of Burial Beer Co. on the South Slope led to a fortuitous partnership, making Salt & Smoke the brewery's permanent food source.

 

The day we headed to Salt & Smoke, they served over 140 people!  They were gracious, and their food was inspired, fun, and certainly unlike anything else we are eating in Asheville right now. The highlight of our afternoon was watching the excitement of the other tables as their food was delivered. 

AOT: How did your relationship with them begin?

Jess Reiser--one of the owners of Burial--had lost Josiah's credit card.  He was totally understanding, and they had a good laugh about it.  From there, the conversation shifted to what we were trying to accomplish in Asheville.  Josiah had a good friend doing a hoagie pop up at Burial at the time, so he pitched cooking something once a week as well.  That one day a week quickly grew into four days a week and then into a full-on partnership.  We really have the best relationship set up--basically Josiah and I can't get enough of Jess and Doug's beer and they can't get enough of our food! 

AOT: What's your favorite thing about the South Slope?

It really feels like all the businesses in the area are less of competitors and more an industry family.  We've had to run over to Buxton Hall for an emergency quart of heavy cream and they were more than willing to help.  In addition, The South Slope very much feels like an escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown.  Even though its just a short walk from its center, the general atmosphere of being on The South Slope feels more relaxed and easy going. 

AOT: What sets you apart in the Asheville food scene?

We really push to offer menu items that don't fit the conventional bar food or "pub grub" description.  The beers at Burial are so complex and artful that we really want to match that in our food.  We believe that beer pairings can go way beyond chowing down on a greasy burger, and it's been really wonderful to see our guests' enthusiasm to try dishes with offal, charcuterie, or foraged wild plants.  We want to offer a changing menu that explores all the local goods this incredible area has to offer, and we strive to be able to provide these quality ingredients while still keeping the price point affordable.  Furthermore, the majority of products are housemade.  We take a lot of pride in making sausages, breads, pickles and all sorts of things from scratch; not only does it provide superior flavor, but it ensures everything is all natural. 

AOT: Which places inspire Salt & Smoke?

For our honeymoon, we saved up to road trip around France, Italy, and Switzerland.  That experience was priceless in terms of food inspiration.  We would love the chance to revisit and explore some different countries like Hungary, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Ireland.  

AOT: What is the most essential item in your kitchen?

I don't think we could exist without a solid cast iron skillet.  Whether you are searing a cut of meat, baking cornbread, or slow roasting a chicken, it make s a world of difference.

AOT: What are your comfort meals?

Being a Kansas City girl, BBQ definitely reigns king for me.  When we got married, my dad handed Josiah his secret BBQ sauce recipe...so its definitely a big deal in my family.  Growing up in Georgia, Josiah has so many delicious Southern comfort food influences.  The first meal he ever cooked for me was fried pork chops, collard greens, and rice & gravy---talk about the way to a girl's heart.  And we can never say no to French food---that's the ultimate comfort cuisine---I mean, come on, butter, cream, and more butter...yes please!

AOT: Who does the cooking at home?

Its a pretty even split. Josiah is especially great with saving me after a long shift at Bull and Beggar with late night bites or in the morning with greasy bacon and eggs.  I definitely am in charge of running our grocery inventory.  I try to buy stuff every month that will inspire us to be cooking different types of cuisine, trying new cuts of meat, and local veggies.  We try to have one big home cooked meal once a week, where one of us cooks the entire spread.  I often try to steal that meal responsibility so I can flex my cooking skills for chef---tomorrow is veal chop puttanesca with Anson Mills polenta and charred rapini... I'm gonna crush it.  

AOT: What's next for Salt & Smoke?

We are focusing on opening up our permanent set up at Burial. We recently purchased a brand new food trailer---essentially a food truck that you can't drive---that will become our official kitchen space at Burial.  The food trailer is going to be taken off its axels so it resembles something like a box car container, and will be set up on a platform flush to the brewery so that there will be service window both inside and outside.  We hope to be up an running by the end of May.  In addition to our brunch service, we will be open Tuesday through Saturday as well.  The menu will have affordable price points for all of our small plates and snacks. 

 

Enjoy, Emily

 

 

  

Food Adventures: Asheville Food Truck Showdown

A few Saturdays ago Abby and I headed down to our local Masonic Temple parking lot to check out 14 of Asheville's hottest food trucks. They were competing in the 3rd annual showdown where fans and a panel of judges voted for their favorites dishes. On the panel were a local newscaster, food critic, and James Beard nominated chef. We tasted something from every vendor and sampled a few local brews and cocktails. 


 The judges (L to R): Larry Blunt, Katie Button, Stu Helm

The judges (L to R): Larry Blunt, Katie Button, Stu Helm


The winner according to both the fans and judges was Root Down. Abby and I enjoyed the Jowl Chichorrones.  These bacon like crisps with a pepper jelly drizzle made us want to return to try every other unusual thing on the menu.


What a treat!  One of my favorite local bars, Soverign Remedies was serving some of their fantastic cocktails.

I had the Root Daiquiri created with sarsaparilla, dandelion, and burdock. Abby had the Spring Gin and Tonic.  Both of these cocktails are on their bar menu. 


The BBQ sandwich from Appalachian Smoke BBQ was delicious BUT one of the highlights from the day was the mac + cheese, oh, that mac + cheese!


Out of the Blue Peruvian Fusion Cuisine served one of our favorites from the day.  A very simple, but well executed cheese empanada.  


Scenes from the Showdown

Enjoy,
     Emily