Recipe Roundup :: Meal inspiration

Before I get into the recipes in today's roundup, I wanted to share where I go for my meal inspiration. While I have a bookcase overflowing with cookbooks and numerous links and magazines I love to peruse, Bon Appétit continues to be my favored resource. It's even surpassed at this point my admiration for the shuttered Gourmet, which seamlessly wove together my love of food and travel. Bon Appétit, even with it's drool-worthy photography, sense of adventure and sophistication, is still approachable. The staff is dedicated to making even the most complex recipes, easy for cooks of any experience level to follow and recreate. And the editors share a joie de vivre that comes through in the magazine's voice. I anxiously await the arrival of each month's issue in my mailbox and then proceed to sit on my patio armed with sticky notes and a cup of coffee. I obsess over Andrew Knowlton's instagram feed, subscribe to daily Bon Appétit recipe blasts, peruse the same issues again on my iPad delighting in the interactivity and reread the annual Travel Issue and Best New Restaurants list at least a few times.

I keep just one cookbook on my kitchen counter. While the others sit on a bookshelf in my living room, this one has stains from over-zealous mixing. The red-plaid Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook was a gift from my mom, and it's where I learned the pancake recipe I now know by heart and refer to when I forget cooking times or temperatures for meat and vegetables. My other favorite anthologies are Gourmet Today, Bon Appétit Desserts and The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. The rest of my cookbooks tend to be a single-subject, whether its brunch, mac & cheese, Irish pub cooking or one of my favorites foods, the potato.

Often I turn online for inspiration. Sometimes I search with a specific idea of a dish I'd like to make, other times it's about perusing through email blasts and blogs until a recipe catches my eye. My favorite websites right now are Food 52 and the new New York Times Cooking site. Food 52 is an online cooking community, where readers can share recipes, ask questions and find columns and blogs on specific food-related topics. The New York Times Cooking site is a home for the New York Times' library of over 10,000 recipes. It's a beauty and the recipes are searchable by ingredient, skill level, meal and more. I really enjoy Editor Sam Sifton's weekly newsletter where he shares his tips and ideas for what to cook.

Recipe Roundup
Click on names to link to the original recipe

Spaghetti with strawberry tomato sauce
This recipe is from Bon Appétit's pick for Best New Restaurant 2014. I was in D.C. in May (expect a post soon about my food finds) and regret not making it to Rose's Luxury. So now it's at the top of my list for my next visit. In the meantime, I am looking forward to this spicy-sweet take on traditional spaghetti.

Roasted apple butter
I won't let a season stop me from eating apples, but nothing feels more autumn to me than apple pie and apple butter. For a while my mom kept sending me jars of apple butter from trips to different farms in California. But now I've found a surprisingly easy recipe to make my own. It's perfect timing too, I'm running low!

Company eggs
Eggs are one of my favorite things to cook with, a necessity in baking and perfect for any meal from a simple fried egg for breakfast to a complex quiche for dinner. These company eggs sound like the sort of thing I'll want to eat all day.

Whole roasted cauliflower with whipped goat cheese
Remember my new found appreciation for cauliflower, well now I found a delightfully decadent recipe to try. This recipe features three kinds of goat cheese, white wine and roasted cauliflower. I can't wait to share how this one turns out.

Beet and Arugula Salad

Wow, it's already June. It's amazing how quickly time flies when you're busy. I'm feeling a bit guilty that my last post was in March, especially since I have plenty of content to share with you all. Over the past few months, I've shifted roles in my day job, helped friends prepare to move cross-country and have rediscovered my love of reading. More relevant to this blog, I've taken a few day and long-weekend trips that have left me with some great restaurant finds to pass along. I've found one of my true food loves is Southern cuisine, met one of my favorite chefs and experimented with a lot of seasonal produce. I've literally filled my fridge with produce in no less than a half dozen grocery trips this year. I've participated in 5-10k races and an 11-mile hike for charity, and while I've always been active, the running in particular has pushed me to pay more attention to how my body responds to different foods. There's really no comparison to a meal that's rooted in fresh fruit and vegetables, whether it's the side dish or an entire meal. Well maybe a meal rooted in mac & cheese ... but then, it's all about balance. 

I managed a 6-mile walk this past weekend in 95 degree weather to make a trip to the farmer's market. It was hard work as it got warmer, but well worth it when I made dinner that evening out of all my market finds. This simple three-ingredient salad is perfect for summer and makes a perfect compliment to a heartier pasta or steak. 

2 beets
2 cups arugula
1 cup sunflower shoots (These can be found at most farmer's markets and some specialty grocery stores, but other sprouts and shoots could easily be substituted)
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Peel and dice beets into small chunks. 
3.  In a baking dish, toss in just enough olive oil to coat and lightly season with pepper.
4. Roast beets for 35-45 minutes, until just soft. Remove and let cool for 20 minutes.
5. Rinse arugula and sunflower shoots, pat dry. Combine in a serving bowl. 
6. Add beets to serving bowl, toss and drizzle lightly with 1 1/2 tbsp each balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Depending on your taste, you can add more vinegar or less. 

Serves 2