Weekend Adventures: Mahler + Williams-Sonoma

21 Oct

Our weekend really began on Friday night: We heard the Eastman Philharmonia and Eastman-Rochester Chorus perform Mahler’s 2nd Symphony (glorious!) and afterward, caught up with some friends over a decadent molten lava chocolate cake with strawberry gelato (also glorious).

We decided to get away for a little while on Saturday.  We took the scenic drive out to Victor, NY and stopped for lunch at a new-to-us restaurant in the center of town – The Soup Spoon.  We tried Pho for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed every bite.  I especially loved the mix-in platter that came along with it so we could make the soup our own.  We took a famed Sweet Banana Roll to go for a snack later in the day.

While doing some casual shopping in the afternoon (warning: department stores already have their Christmas decorations out), we wandered into Williams-Sonoma, mostly just to drool over the All-Clad display and admire the Thanksgiving table settings.  We were surprised (and excited) to discover it was Artisan Market Day – a day to feature several local food vendors sampling their wares throughout the store.  By the time we left the store, we had sampled Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Snap Crust Ice Cream, Pulled Pork, handmade Chocolate Peanut Butter Honey Truffles and Bittersweet Drinking Chocolate, homemade brownies, and a mini Thanksgiving tasting with turkey, dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce.  Basically, dinner and dessert.  SD thought he’d about died and gone to heaven.

Full and content after an incredible tasting experience, we headed home, making a quick stop at The Apple Farm for a peck of MacIntosh (one of my favorites).

Other weekend highlights include making deviled eggs for two (a batch of four), watching the latest episode of Scandal, and finding a pair of black patent leather flats at DSW.

Here are a few pictures from our weekend:

weekend adventures 10-20-13

Previously:
Weekend Adventures: Swain, NY

Recipe: Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

16 Oct
butternut_macaroni_cheese
I’ve been wanting to try a butternut squash macaroni and cheese recipe for a while now – I like trying new things and I like making things with fall vegetables, and obviously, I like macaroni and cheese so I thought the idea had potential.  However, I will confess to having a few doubts.  I mean, why mess up a good thing?  Some things should just remain an untouched classic.

Well, let me tell you, this may have been the BEST macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had.  And that’s saying something.

The texture was so smooth and creamy, you’d never know there was only a cup of cheddar in the whole pan.  The vegetable stock helped keep everything moist while cooking and baking and it came out perfectly.  We didn’t have any ricotta on hand the night we made this (it turned out fine without it) but I imagine that would only add to the dish’s creamy perfection.

Enjoy my new fall favorite!

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups almond milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. pasta (rigatoni, elbows, etc.)
4 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
4 T. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce)
2 T. breadcrumbs
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (opt.)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 T. Parmesan.

Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 T. Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

Bake 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp on top. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Image Credit: Martha Stewart

Weekend Adventures: Swain, NY

14 Oct

Two weekend adventures in one post!

Last weekend, we went to a ski expo in search of a new pair of skis for SD (to no avail).  We did, however, discover a few new ski mountains in the area and even purchased a set of lift tickets for one.  Later in the day, we took a drive out to the country for an apple festival.  Their biggest claim to fame is a 5′ apple crisp baked on the premises!  We passed up the opportunity to sample the mega dessert but it was pretty impressive to see in person.  We picked out a few colorful gourds and mini pumpkins from a local farm stand and with apple desserts on our mind, made an apple pie (and crust) from scratch when we got home.

This weekend, we drove out to one of the ski mountains we learned about at the expo last weekend.  They were having a family day and ski swap and the weather was just right for a drive.

Swain, NY is a little over an hour from Rochester, near Letchworth State Park, where we hiked last fall.  With a population of 309, I do believe it is the smallest town I’ve ever seen or visited.  Their post office is smaller than our living room!  The ski mountain is small but they have a decent number of trails, some of which are quite steep!  The ski swap was again, the smallest we’d ever seen but amazingly enough, SD found a used pair of skis in good condition for a great price!  We walked around the town (basically up and down Main Street), ate lunch on the deck, and rode the chair lift to the top of the mountain to see the view and get a better sense of the trails.

All in all, a great day!  Here are a few pictures:

weekend adventures 10-13-13

Weekend Adventures: Apple-Picking + Fringe Fest

30 Sep

This was the final weekend of Rochester’s second annual Fringe Festival so we started the weekend off with a show at the local planetarium.  The show combined dance, minimalist music, and projection and they even won the “Best of Fringe” award for best use of a venue!  After the show, we walked downtown to be a part of the rest of the Fringe festivities (but really, we just wanted to sample the wares of the local food trucks).  We shared an amazing grilled cheese creation (sandwich just doesn’t do it justice) – pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, and pepper jack on white; and a Mediterranean-style pita with lamb, feta, onions, and tomato; and for our walk home, a small vegetarian poutine.

On Saturday, we hosted brunch on the roof for friends.  So much fun!  We made homemade donuts in a cast-iron skillet on the grill and shared a fall fruit salad (pear, plum, grapes, and raspberries), yogurt, and granola.  The weather was absolutely perfect!  In the afternoon, we made a rather spontaneous trip to pick apples, saw a garden snake in the orchard(!), stopped for coffee at the Leaf and Bean, and later, visited Wine Sense for a free afternoon tasting.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend:

weekend adventures 9-30-13

Previously:
Weekend Adventures – September 23
Weekend Adventures – September 2

Weekend Adventures: Rainy Days

23 Sep

I love these early fall weekends.  We had lunch at a new-to-us restaurant (who doesn’t love a good wood-fired pizza?!) and then spent the afternoon perusing an awesome used bookstore within walking distance from our house (and yes, we walked even though it was raining!).  This place had floor to ceiling stacks of books that went on for rooms.  It was incredible!

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I made homemade caramel apple cider to warm up after our chilly walk and we tried our hand at a new dinner recipe – Zucchini Lasagna.  It ended up being deconstructed lasagna by the time it got to the plate but it was delicious!

We had Sunday lunch at our favorite “chalkboard” bakery (we shared an open-face egg sandwich and a gourmet grilled cheese made with a homemade French baguette – heaven!).  We spent the afternoon at home, reading and catching up on a few things before venturing out for a long after-dinner walk through the neighborhood.  Welcome, fall!

Saratoga Springs

9 Sep

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A few weeks ago, SD and I spent a day in Saratoga Springs.  It was a perfect summer day and we enjoyed watching the races and wandering the grounds at the famed race track and exploring the charming downtown later in the evening.

Saratoga_2

I loved all the old signs and typography!

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It was fairly warm in the sun so we ventured out when each race began and then escaped back to the shade underneath the grandstand for the pauses in between.

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Isn’t the track beautiful?  It’s so historic that being there really takes you back in time.  Oh, and our favorite horses, in case you were wondering: She’s a Sizzler, Beautiful Mimi, Foggy Road, and One More Cat.

Did you have any fun last-minute road trips to celebrate the end of summer?

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