Apple, Onion & Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Apple, Onion & Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese SandwichI was feeling a little silly about posting a grilled cheese sandwich until I remembered how easy it is to get stuck in a lunch rut and how hard it can be to think of what to stick between slices of bread when you let yourself get stupid-hungry.  

So that’s my disclaimer and here is what is officially my favorite fall lunch: a crispy grilled cheese sandwich with sharp white cheddar, crunchy apple slices, and red onions on Pumpernickel.  Add a pop of Dijon mustard and wash it down with a glass of cold, cloudy apple cider or a good beer and you are living fall the way it’s meant to be lived.

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Wild Mushroom & Squash Crêpe Lasagna

Mushroom and Squash Crepe LasagnaWhenever I take a trip, I attempt to keep a journal.  I want to remember all the little details, the activities, and, most importantly, what I ate.

Unfortunately, I started this habit after one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.  I’m talking about my first trip to Italy.  Italy with wide eyes, with my family, half my lifetime ago.  We all stayed with my dad’s aunt and uncles and most of our time sitting at the kitchen table, (lots of language-barrier smiling, not too much talking) eating.  We’d have caffè latte in the mornings and butter cookies from a tin.  We thought it was hilarious how my uncle would crunch up handfuls of cookies and float them in his latte, like how we eat cereal with milk.  There would be minestra for lunch.  Every dinner would end with my aunt bringing out apples and big wedges of cheese and teaching my little brother to use the moka pot.

I just wish I remember what every dinner was.  I remember them all being good and I have a foggy memory of a crepe lasagna that was absolutely delicious.  Of course, I have no recollection of what was in it, just that it was wonderful and I could have kept eating it forever.

So that’s what I was thinking about as I assembled this lasagna, wondering what my aunt had put in hers and hoping mine would measure up.

Mine is a very autumnal lasagna.  It’s made with a stack of nutty, whole wheat crepes, earthy mushroom duxelles, sweet butternut squash, béchamel, and plenty of melted cheese.  As it bakes, the layers of flavor meld together into something that is pure comfort.  Is it a replica of what I previously ate?  No, but it’s a delicious way to bring past food memories into the present.  I think you’re going to like it, too.

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StrawberryPlum Celebrates 1 Year!

Blog Birthday

One year ago, Matt and I went for a Sunday afternoon fall drive.  When we got home, I set the table and started making dinner.  I got out a duck breast, Italian plums, a few sprigs of rosemary, and my camera.

“Uh, Sarah?  Whatcha doin’?”

“I’m starting a food blog,” I announced.  It’s probably worth mentioning I just barely knew what this meant.

“Um, right…need any help?”


So Matt went downstairs to watch football and I went about making dinner, snapping a few pictures along the way.  When it was ready, we sat down and Matt gave me a “whoa this looks good” look and disappeared for a minute, returning with a nice bottle of wine.

The next day I sat in a gas station, waiting for an oil change, and penned out my first post.  I went home, pecked it out on the keyboard, and strawberryplum was launched.

And now it’s been going on for a year.  1 year and over 100 recipes.  1 year of late-night typing, 1 year of teetering on a kitchen chair while taking pictures of food.  1 year of tech woes, 1 year of learning lots of new things.  1 year of good eating.

So let’s pause for a moment and look back on the year, celebrate a milestone, and remember a few highlights.

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Maple Walnut Cookies

Maple Walnut CookiesCool fall days always leave me longing for an afternoon cup of coffee.  And somehow that cup of coffee just does not seem right without a warm cookie at its side.  And if that cookie involves cinnamon and spice, maple or molasses, all the better.

So what are waiting for?  Let’s bake ourselves up a late afternoon treat, a batch of soft maple syrup and walnut cookies.  Let’s forget all that salad and veggie talk from last week and just accept that life happens and so do cookies. 

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Swiss Chard & Potato Ravioli

Swiss Chard & Potato Ravioli I love cooking this time of year.  The weather has cooled to the point where spending a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen feels so right.  My head (and belly) start thinking about cooking projects, the kind of cooking I don’t do in the summer.  I’m thinking homemade pasta, got to roll out a batch of pasta.

This time around, I made ravioli filled with Swiss chard and potatoes, dressed with a super simple, super fresh tomato sauce.  It satisfied my need to spend the afternoon wearing a sweater and fussing in the kitchen, but the end product still tasted summery and much lighter than you’d imagine for potato-stuffed pasta–in other words, a good dinner to help us transition from summer to fall.

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