Good Morning, Pumpkin!

Finn and Smoothie

Everybody loves Pumpkin season!

Crisp air. Yellow and orange fallen leaves. Soft knit scarves. Pumpkin! Between pumpkin lattes and pumpkin pie, the fall season has become synonymous with that gorgeous round squash.  Armed with a fat, orange pumpkin or a big can of Libby’s, you can add pumpkin flare to almost anything.

Pumpkins are so versatile, you could break down pumpkin-y delights by category when looking for inspiration: there’s everything from soup, pasta, breads and muffins, dessert (including pie, of course), beer—even pumpkin dog treats.

With so many options, I decided to narrow it down and experiment with easy pumpkin breakfast ideas, reusing the same basic ingredients for three different recipes. If there’s a good time to add nutritious and filling pumpkin to your meal, it’s probably first thing in the morning!

Each recipe is pretty flexible so feel free to experiment on your end—swap almond milk in for my skim milk or add an extra scoop of pumpkin here and a dash of cinnamon there…. 

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Finn’s FreshDirect Birthday Box

Finn

Finn checks out his birthday gift!

Earlier this year while I was helping to launch FreshDirect’s new pet shop, I couldn’t wait for its arrival on the site for one main reason: his name is Finnegan and he’s my black pug.

The samples would come in and I’d think, “Finn would love this!” And my dog has very discerning tastes (just kidding—he would eat anything given the opportunity).

Finn

Finn pleads to have the box opened for him!

When my FreshDirect order arrives every week, he looks on with curiosity, circling the boxes and sniffing for exciting items. But last Sunday, his 4thbirthday (yes, I celebrate my dog’s birthday), he got a box all to himself.

When placing Finn’s birthday order, I decided to go with two types of treats and two new toys. He’d already rotated through any toy samples I brought home, and I could tell he was itching for something new and exciting…. 

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One-Pan Recipe: Sausage and Potato Bake

Sausage and Potato Bake

While I enjoy sausage, I don’t cook it at home very often. So when our meat department revamped our FreshDirect sausage line, the sausage was so good that I wanted to find an easy way to rotate a new meal into my routine.

Personally, my favorite recipes can be cooked in one pan or pot. This sausage bake is no exception. I borrowed my dad’s recipe as a base and then added my own twists from there, which I encourage others to do with any easy recipe. Substitute in what you like, remove what you don’t!… 

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FD Holiday Traditions

Holiday Spread

Holiday Spread

When I was small, I got to have two Christmas dinners; one was classic American, with ham and all the traditional sides, and one was an Italian version.

On Christmas Eve, my nonna would spend all day cooking, and by the time she was done, we would be treated to multiple courses. We’d start with pasta topped with fish sauce and freshly grated parmesan, and lead into a course with calamari and fried shrimp, another with breaded steak and chicken cutlets with green bean salad, squid salad, and pan-fried peas, and then finish off with one of my all-time favorite foods: artichokes stuffed with sharp provolone cheese. We’d finish the meal with milky, extra-sweet coffee (even the kids), cracked nuts, and panettone with butter or homemade frittole. To me, there is no greater meal.

By the time I was in grade school, I realized that not every family celebrated the same way, and that our tradition was truly special. That’s why I’m always fascinated by other people’s food traditions; after all, the food makes the holiday. I asked around the office and the answers were as diverse as I imagined…. 

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Meet and Greet with Chef Tina Bourbeau

Tina

Chef Tina Bourbeau

Here at the FreshDirect headquarters, we’re lucky to work with many interesting people who share our passion for food.

One great example is Chef Tina Bourbeau, Executive Chef/Senior Director of Research and Development here at FreshDirect.

I sat down with Tina to find out why she went into the food business in the first place.

FD: What was the inspiration to make food your business?

TB: Cooking is the only profession I’ve ever had, and I am grateful that I get paid to do what I love and am deeply passionate about — anything else seems like torture.

FD: What was the road that led you to FreshDirect?

TB: After studying at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (now I.C.E.), I started cooking my way through various NYC kitchens. My first job was at Oceana – while still in school. This was when anything less than a 6-day work-week wasn’t even a consideration. I was the first woman to work in that kitchen (boy, times have changed!)…. 

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When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip!

Multi Layer Dip

Multi-Layer Dip

There is nothing quite like a Sunday afternoon watching football and snacking on homemade dips. (Sure, sometimes I switch out football for reality TV, but one thing remains: the yummy food!)

When you’re “tailgating” at home and keeping a lot of hungry fans happy, I find it’s best to keep things simple.

Set up some dips: salsa, spicy guacamole, queso dip. If you’re feeling adventurous, it doesn’t have to be from a jar; I’ve started making the fastest salsa known to man when I have the extra ingredients…. 

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Nostalgic Favorite: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Grilled Cheese

Sharp Cheddar and Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled cheese: the king of easy weeknight dinners; the blank slate of culinary goodness, upon which we pile our hopes, dreams, and favorite cheeses; the gooey, warm, golden, and delicious answer to whatever ails us.

Did I oversell it? That’s impossible! Like the burger or the omelet, grilled cheese has an endless amount of permutations, making it accessible, crowd-pleasing, and never boring.

Recently, I used our easy, frozen Pullman loaves (defrost the slices as you need them and the rest stays in the freezer) to make a few different sandwiches, one to fit each of my grilled cheese moods…. 

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Staying Cool with 3 No-Cook Recipes

Tuna

Tuna Pita Sandwiches

I tend to be a bit delusional when it comes to summer. All winter long, I think, “This would be so much easier if it were summer. I can’t wait until it’s warm.”

And then summer comes and I remember that extreme heat makes every chore more arduous, and I end up counting the minutes until I’m in an air-conditioned room as soon as I step outside. In other words, I’m a whiny baby all year long.

So it’s hard to save money in sweltering months because my instinct is to keep the stove off and eat out instead. To resist the urge, I have some go-to, easy favorites that are cool, tasty, and more about compiling than actually cooking. Since they’re cold, they’re also great to make on Sunday and bring to work during the week…. 

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The Ins and Outs of Cherries

Cherry

It's Cherry Season!

I don’t think there is a more visually appealing fruit than fresh cherries, and their versatility and rich flavor make them the perfect stone fruit.

In a salad, fresh off a tree, topping a cake, flavoring tea—the juicy fruit makes me positively Seuss-like.

My childhood friend had a cherry tree in her backyard, and one warm summer afternoon, we both filled our bowls and ate enough cherries to fill a pie. Our fingers were stained red and the pits formed a small mountain, but when her mother made fresh cherry pierogies later, we had some of those too. That’s the thing about cherries—there are never enough! So as soon as the season’s first cherries came in, I ordered a bag of red and a bag of Rainier and went wild…. 

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Father’s Day Burger Inspiration

Burgers and Dad

Burgers and Dad

When I visit my family in Upstate, NY, I love when my dad fires up the grill and makes my favorites.

There’s his famous lemon steak (extra-thin slices of steak marinated in lots of lemon juice and oregano, and charred perfectly on the grill), and on my most recent visit, I had my perfect burger—a soft bun, gooey cheese, a juicy beef patty, ketchup, and mayo.

Back at my apartment in Brooklyn, I used a grill pan to replicate the burger, but since I can’t get that same grill flavor, I tried different proteins and added fun toppings that remind me of home. Here are my burger creations in honor of Father’s Day:… 

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