Whip up a batch of red velvet cake donuts for a special breakfast treat. The light chocolate flavor pairs perfectly with the cream cheese glaze. And don’t forget the sprinkles! Donuts bring great joy to my life. I can’t fully explain why. Maybe it’s the memory of stopping by my small town’s donut shop every…
A perfect meatless side, these savory bites are made with broccoli, kale, almonds, dried herbs, and cheese. Flavorful enough to enjoy alone, they can also be served with a side of red sauce.
Here we are nearly a week into the new year, and I just now took the time to reflect on my 2017. Last year I shared a recipe for pot beans as my first post, and now I kick off the year with broccoli. Clearly, I do not get off to a very exciting start. But it’s a start, and that always counts for something.
As weird as it was, the year went by so fast that part of me didn’t want to let it go. I used to think November was my least favorite month, but it’s not. My least favorite month is January. There is so little I look forward to this time of year after the holidays have come and gone. I needed a week to settle back in.
I went in to last year with the idea to take on less in hopes of slowing time down a bit, but it didn’t work. I said “no” to more; carved out a little more space for myself. Yet, here I am with memories from a year ago as distinct as if they were just yesterday.
Like any year, there were changes, but for the most part, I saw them coming. Just some curves in the road rather than sharp, hairpin curves at 90 miles per hour. Here’s how it went down:
I kicked off the year with a visit to friends in Asheville. I had always wanted to visit Asheville in the winter, but it was unseasonably warm two weeks in to January. Lovely nonetheless, I laughed on the LaZoom city comedy tour, ate at Buxton Hall BBQ, and devoured some Vortex donuts.
Back in Charlotte, I ate at a couple of favorite establishments during restaurant week and brunched with the beer babes. Kept going to book club. Went to a beer festival with Chrissie on Saturday and celebrated her 30th birthday on Sunday.
Went back to Asheville in March to celebrate friends’ birthdays. This time it snowed, and I didn’t mind a bit.
Attended an engagement party on a cold spring night, a wedding shower on a warm spring afternoon, and the wedding on a Friday night in April. My friends joked I was the only one in our row who didn’t cry. Back off y’all! I may have mastered a stony exterior, but I’m soft on the inside.
Increased my concert attendance. I usually average one show per year, but this year I went wild and saw Cold War Kids and Young the Giant at separate shows during the same week. That sparked something, because I went on to see Bastille, Lewis del Mar, Amy Lee of Evanescence, and Cold War Kids open for Young the Giant.
Joined a CSA that ran from April through mid-December. In other words, I cooked with a lot of vegetables. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I enjoyed the best steak of my life at Del Frisco’s. You guys know me. While not a vegetarian, I hardly ever eat red meat. But my heavens. This steak was so freaking good that it hurt my brain.
Acted petty. Felt grateful. Tried to do better.
Went home to Ohio in June to celebrate Dad’s retirement. He worked hard. I really hope he enjoys this short break before I start pestering him to come down this way and help me out with all my projects.
Watched the Charlotte Squawks, a parody about this city I’ve made my home, and laughed. Hard. Went to Pops in the Park where the symphony played Broadway tunes and ate the best bread pudding I’ve ever had at a Leroy Fox cocktail dinner.
Surprised myself and acted spontaneous when I accepted a last-minute invitation to run around town drinking on a party bus. Acted like myself again when I ducked out early after the third bar.
Committed to a summer of makeovers where I took a makeup lesson (life changing!).
Discovered a love for The Great British Baking Show and turned in to a television-watcher. I only subscribed to HBO to watch Game of Thrones. But Big Little Lies was there, along with The Defiant Ones and The Leftovers and The Wire. And now I cannot stop watching.
Played hooky with my co-workers for a couple of hours on a Monday afternoon to watch the eclipse. It was like a party out there!
Took a weekend trip to Greenville, South Carolina. Visited Utah!
Went home again to celebrate my niece’s first birthday. Before the party, my nephew asked me to come sit with him in a lawn chair on the front lawn, and my older niece joined us (with her notebook and pen in hand so she could write things down – be still my heart!). The three of us just sat there in our lawn chairs watching for my parents to arrive. It may have been the sweetest thing I got to do all year.
Headed up U.S. Route 23 and watched the Buckeyes get beat (I literally just let out the hugest sigh when writing that memory). But, I got to watch the game with my cousin who is a student and scored me a cheap ticket. I had a suspicion before that game that I was old. Sitting in the student section confirmed it.
Laughed at a lot of happy hours. Had to change jobs because my contract was up. But it’s okay. We all still go to happy hour.
Went to a yoga workshop and learned about Ayurveda. Got back on my yoga mat and finished the year off with a 31-day yoga challenge. Such a good way to reset.
Enjoyed raclette dinner at Ashley’s house. No longer a rookie, I knew how to pace myself when faced with all that good cheese. Had the loveliest of times at the Ballantyne Hotel for holiday tea. Seriously, I could get used to that.
Joined the Charlotte Food Policy Council. I’m not too active yet, but I am interested to see how I can help. It breaks my heart that many people don’t have enough to eat. I don’t know how to fix the world, but maybe I can start making a difference in my own community.
Celebrated my birthday at dinner with friends. My heart felt so full.
Drove to Ohio the next day to celebrate Christmas. Watched the new StarWars movie on my actual birthday. Caught up with Mary in Columbus when it was freezing.
Drove back to North Carolina with what seemed like all of the other Ohioans who have adopted North Carolina as their home and approximately half of the population of Pennsylvania and Ontario. Ugh.
Had a few beers with friends on December 30. Slept right through midnight on December 31st. Woke up, and it was 2018. Onward we go. Happy new year, everyone!
Savory Broccoli Balls
1 large head of broccoli / approximately 4 cups of broccoli florets
1 large kale leaf / approximately 1/2 cup chopped kale
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the broccoli florets into the boiling water for a few minutes until tender and still bright green. Drain the hot water and run the cooked florets under cold water until cooled.
- Pulse the broccoli florets and the kale leaf in a food processor until finely chopped and then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Don't worry if the broccoli is a little wet when you start this step. The moisture will help hold the balls together.
- Next pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely ground and transfer them to the large mixing bowl as well.
- Stir in the cheese, dried basil, dried parsley, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and then pour them over the broccoli mixture in the large mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
- Shape a tablespoon of the broccoli mixture into a ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes and the balls start to brown ever so lightly.
- Serve warm with tomato sauce.
You can sub almond flour for the whole almonds if you have some on hand since essentially that's what you are making when you pulse the almonds in the food processor.
If you need an easy sauce idea, you can simply stir a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce together with a 15-ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes. Warm it over low heat, adding some sautéed onion and garlic or a splash of olive oil if desired. Season with salt, pepper, and dried herbs to taste.