Sweet Potato + Lentil Tacos

I made this for dinner last night and it only took about 20 minutes. I thought it was such a tasty, healthy, easy weeknight idea that I needed to recreate it here. Happy cooking!

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SWEET POTATO + LENTIL TACOS

makes enough filling for about 6 corn tortilla tacos

1/2 red onion (diced)

1 small sweet potato (diced with peel on)

1 (15 oz) can cooked lentils (drained and rinsed in a colander)

a handful of arugula (or any greens! cilantro, lettuce, spinach, chopped kale...)

1 avocado

hot sauce

corn tortillas (or flour if you prefer)

Sauté the diced onion and sweet potato with some olive oil, salt and pepper for about 10 minutes over med/low heat, until the potatoes are soft when poked with a fork. For the last minute, add the lentils, just to warm them. Spoon the mixture into warm tortillas (I use tongs and heat mine over an open stovetop flame). Top each taco with a pinch of arugula, a slice of avocado, a bit of hot sauce and a pinch of flaky salt

 

 I sautéed the sweet potatoes and onion  in my favorite skillet  for 10 min, then added lentils to warm them.

I sautéed the sweet potatoes and onion in my favorite skillet for 10 min, then added lentils to warm them.

 Top the tacos with arugula, avocado and hot sauce

Top the tacos with arugula, avocado and hot sauce

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Color-Coded Bookshelf and My Favorite Spring Dress!

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For years I've seen photos online of bookshelves arranged by color and thought I'd love to do that someday if I ever have time. WELL! Last night, after the kids went to bed, I felt inspired. I could watch a show, check email, or JUST DO IT! I had on my favorite spring dress, I poured a glass of wine, put on some Joni Mitchell and it only took about 90 minutes! Now whenever I walk by I smile and our living room feels somehow more "together".

I didn't try to make it too perfect. I wanted it to be a fun project, and not stressful, so I just dug in. I pulled books out and made several stacks according to color. Yellow, Orange, Pink/Red, Blue/Purple, Green, Black, White, Beige and "Multi".  Warm colors are always my jam, so I put those in the middle and worked outwards. I grouped black and white ones toward the bottom and left an overflow row at the top for books with a multicolored binding. On each shelf, I tried to put dark books side by side and light books side by side, so as to create a somewhat ombre effect. My Forest Feast cookbook(s) are in 10 languages now (!) so it was fun to have a shelf with a bunch of them together.

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Such a fun little project. If you've ever thought about doing this too, I say go for it! It won't take as long as you think.

Happy weekend!

PS: I love this yellow floral dress I got on Amazon and wear it all the time. I have it in a few different colors and it's great for a myriad of occasions since you can easily dress it up with jewelry and wedges or down with sandals and a denim jacket. It's also super comfortable and works for all stages of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Full disclosure: The Forest Feast participates in the Amazon Affiliates program so I get a small kickback of sales via this link. Opinions are completely my own.

Roasted Beet Salad + a New York Minute

 Roasted Beet Salad with Tomatoes, Scallions and Feta (recipe at the bottom)

Roasted Beet Salad with Tomatoes, Scallions and Feta (recipe at the bottom)

Ezra and I just returned from a fun weekend in New York City, and it was so good to be back.  It was one of those great spring weekends where the weather was warm, everything was in bloom, and everyone was out. 

I moved to New York right after college with no job and very little money because I wanted to become a photographer (and eventually, I did!). I thought I'd stay for a year and ended up staying 8. I interned at a magazine, was a nanny, worked at a restaurant, went to grad school, taught at a college and met Jonathan at a party!  I lived on the Upper West Side for the first 5 years, then Park Slope after that. I spent almost all of my 20s in New York - such a magical time.  (Hard, too, but in hindsight...mostly magical.) Even though I love living in the woods now, I sure do miss New York.

 With Ezra on the Upper West Side

With Ezra on the Upper West Side

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Thank goodness Jonathan's family lives there so we get to go back often. Experiencing the city now so many years later with a 3-year-old in tow is different but so fun. We stayed with relatives on the Upper West Side and it was fun to roam around my old stomping grounds. I went for my sister-in-law-to-be's bridal shower at the prettiest tea house in an old antique-filled carriage house on the Upper East Side, Kings Carriage House

 Afternoon Tea at Kings Carriage House

Afternoon Tea at Kings Carriage House

 Afternoon Tea at Kings Carriage House

Afternoon Tea at Kings Carriage House

While in town, we had 2 great meals. One was at a Mediterranean spot on the Upper West Side called Bustan. It was my first time there and I loved their garlicky feta dip, eggplant carpaccio, freshly baked bread, and dreamy backyard. The second was at Barboncino, an Italian brick-oven pizzeria in Brooklyn (Crown Hts/Prospect Hts).  Anytime I am meeting my best girlfriends in Brooklyn, without question, we meet at Barboncino. It's our spot. And we always order the same thing: the Bibb salad, the Burrata, a couple Margherita pizzas and a bottle of their delicious red Aglianico wine. Every time I eat at Barboncino I have a OH WOW THIS IS SO CRAZY DELICIOUS moment and I declare it the tastiest food I've had in a while.  I also love the exposed-brick and candlelit vibe. If you're in Brooklyn, go! You might have to wait for a table but it's worth it.

 Bustan on the Upper West Side

Bustan on the Upper West Side

 Barboncino in Brooklyn

Barboncino in Brooklyn

Even though we had great meals, after traveling I always feel like I need to eat lots of vegetables when I get home. Good thing we returned to an abundant farm bag this week! Some beautiful beets came and I made this simple, colorful salad today. I sliced and roasted the beets, then topped them with yellow cherry tomatoes, scallions and feta. 

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 Sliced beets are ready to go in the oven.

Sliced beets are ready to go in the oven.

Roasted Beet Salad with Tomatoes, Scallions and Feta

serves 4

4 beets, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds (peel on)

1 c yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

3 scallions, chopped

2 oz crumbled feta

Lay the beets out on an oiled baking sheet then drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast them at 425F for 25 minutes, flipping the beets once.

Allow the beets to cool then lay them out on a platter. Spread the tomatoes over the beets then sprinkle the platter with the chopped scallions and crumbled feta. Drizzle the platter with a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar, plus salt and pepper. Enjoy!

 

Sicily Roadtrip

As part of our 3-month trip around the Mediterranean last Fall, after Barcelona and Antibes, we took the train along the water to Genoa, then flew to the largest island in the Mediterranean: SICILY. I was excited to practice my rusty study-abroad Italian and visit a part of Italy I'd never been to. And I was eager to get some Sicilian recipe inspiration for my next book, #ForestFeastTravels!

 
 Aci Castello, Sicily (near Acireale)

Aci Castello, Sicily (near Acireale)

 

Sicily is wild and beautiful. Amazing ocean vistas, ancient seaside villages, citrus orchards, olive groves, vineyards, vibrant bougainvillea vines and stunning beaches. To me, its beauty lies in the fact that it's not super developed or polished. It's lush but also a little rough around the edges, with rich history and agriculture embedded into the landscape and culture.

We flew into Catania and out of Palermo and explored the north-eastern side of the island during our stay. Renting a car seemed to be the best way to get around (although driving was not always easy). We stayed first near Catania in Acireale, where I found a unique Airbnb apartment inside an 18th century villa. The villa was walled and took up what felt like a whole city block, with persimmon and fig trees in the garden, an expansive patio and a tiled outdoor kitchen. Although a decent hub for day trips,  I don't think we'd stay in Acireale again. It has a stunning historic downtown area, but it's much larger than we realized and difficult to drive in an out of.

 The outdoor kitchen at our Airbnb in Acireale.

The outdoor kitchen at our Airbnb in Acireale.

 Garden of our Airbnb villa in Acireale, Sicily.

Garden of our Airbnb villa in Acireale, Sicily.

 The patio and outdoor kitchen of the 18th Century villa we stayed at in Acireale.

The patio and outdoor kitchen of the 18th Century villa we stayed at in Acireale.

 This was not a pretty moment. In Acireale (a maze of oneway streets), GPS routed us down here. We folded the mirrors in and were inching along as cars behind us honked to hurry up. It seemed to get even more narrow up ahead, but we couldn't turn around.  I couldn't take my hand away from my gaping mouth! We knew to rent a small car, but we didn't realize HOW small. Somehow at the end of the trip we returned an unscratched car. Jonathan is one champ of a driver (and understandably, in the moment, he was NOT happy I took this photo! Ha!)

This was not a pretty moment. In Acireale (a maze of oneway streets), GPS routed us down here. We folded the mirrors in and were inching along as cars behind us honked to hurry up. It seemed to get even more narrow up ahead, but we couldn't turn around.  I couldn't take my hand away from my gaping mouth! We knew to rent a small car, but we didn't realize HOW small. Somehow at the end of the trip we returned an unscratched car. Jonathan is one champ of a driver (and understandably, in the moment, he was NOT happy I took this photo! Ha!)

 Acireale, Sicily

Acireale, Sicily

One of my favorite days in Sicily (and potentially of the entire trip) started and ended at the ocean, but midday, we were freezing atop the volcano of Mt. Etna. We started our drive near Catania and wandered through the rugged and rural countryside, past vineyards and dilapidated stone farmhouses. We saw orange trees spilling out everywhere and chestnuts for sale on the side of the road. We passed through the town of Bronte, known for its pistachios.  And Zafferana Etnea, known for its honey. We did a honey tasting at Oro di Etna and brought home some pistachio flavored honey that was delicious with cheese. Near Pedara, we pulled over to what we thought was a small convenient-type store and found that it was actually a wine cellar. Locals were lined up with big plastic water bottles to fill and take home. As we drove higher and higher, it was fascinating to see the landscape change and turn to snow. We barely made it up the mountain without chains, but finally parked and took a cable car to the peak which was FREEZING but offered a stunning view of the island and surrounding ocean. And, of course, they had more honey to taste at the lodge.

 Half way up Mount Etna

Half way up Mount Etna

 Honey Tasting on the way to Mt. Etna

Honey Tasting on the way to Mt. Etna

 After taking the cable car to the top of Mt. Etna

After taking the cable car to the top of Mt. Etna

 After going to the top of Mt. Etna, our day ended here, with a sunset walk on the water in Santa Maria La Scala (near Acireale).

After going to the top of Mt. Etna, our day ended here, with a sunset walk on the water in Santa Maria La Scala (near Acireale).

 The building that housed the "bring your own bottle" wine barrels (near Pedara). Two Euros a liter!

The building that housed the "bring your own bottle" wine barrels (near Pedara). Two Euros a liter!

 Inside: the wine barrels! There were 3: White, Red and Rosato.

Inside: the wine barrels! There were 3: White, Red and Rosato.

We also took a daytrip to the idyllic hillside town of Taormina, where we strolled the cobblestone main drag (with great shopping) and visited the ancient theater with a stunning ocean view. I ate Pasta alla Norma there which I am recreating for the book. The town is so pretty, it's a must-see.

 Taormina

Taormina

 Taormina

Taormina

 Plate for sale in Taormina

Plate for sale in Taormina

 Pasta alla Norma in Taormina. 

Pasta alla Norma in Taormina. 

 Taormina. (Max is 11 months and Ezra is 3)

Taormina. (Max is 11 months and Ezra is 3)

Next we headed to Cefalu, where we stayed in an oceanview Airbnb full of antique furniture for 4 days. I loved Cefalu. We could walk to the beach and the downtown area and although it was December, it didn't keep us from playing on the beach and even swimming in the ocean.  I loved wandering the narrow cobblestone streets of the historic area that runs along the water. Stay in this area if you can.  I'd recommend a drink or lunch (mainly for the view, the food is fairly basic) perched over the sand at Il Covo del Pirata. We really enjoyed our meal in the pretty garden at Galleria Restaurant. I thought their dishes were tasty and had interesting flavor combinations and presentation. 

 Our Airbnb in Cefalu

Our Airbnb in Cefalu

 in Cefalu with Max

in Cefalu with Max

 Jon swimming in Cefalu.

Jon swimming in Cefalu.

 Fruit and vegetable stand in Cefalu.

Fruit and vegetable stand in Cefalu.

 This roasted vegetable and cheese plate with honey and oregano (and potato!) at Galleria Restaurant in Cefalu has inspired a similar dish in my upcoming book.

This roasted vegetable and cheese plate with honey and oregano (and potato!) at Galleria Restaurant in Cefalu has inspired a similar dish in my upcoming book.

 Il Covo Pirata Restaurant in Cefalu.

Il Covo Pirata Restaurant in Cefalu.

 The historic area of Cefalu.

The historic area of Cefalu.

On a daytrip from Cefalu, we explored country roads in the mountains and even had to stop once for a herd of goats! We LOVED the nearby town of Castelbuono. The town itself is adorable and has a beautiful castle to to visit. Just outside of town, we had a memorable lunch by the fireplace at a farm/hotel called Agritourismo Bergi. We were the only guests and they cooked just for us with ingredients almost entirely produced onsite. After lunch we strolled through the citrus groves and saw the animals.

 Coffee stop in Castelbuono.

Coffee stop in Castelbuono.

 Exploring the castle in Castelbuono.

Exploring the castle in Castelbuono.

 Agritourismo Bergi, near Castelbuono.

Agritourismo Bergi, near Castelbuono.

 Persimmons and house-made wine for dessert at Agritourismo Bergi

Persimmons and house-made wine for dessert at Agritourismo Bergi

 Agritourismo Bergi

Agritourismo Bergi

 Orange grove at Agritourismo Bergi

Orange grove at Agritourismo Bergi

Even though the winter weather is mild, I'd love to go back to Sicily in Summer, and explore more of the island. 

 Sunset on the beach in Cefalu.

Sunset on the beach in Cefalu.

Arrivaderci, Italia!

After Cefalu, we flew out of Palermo to Lisbon. Stories from Portugal coming soon!