Manda Cooks: Tapas

One of my favorite weeks of the year is the week between Christmas and New Year’s — my office is closed, the hustle and bustle leading up to the holidays had died down, and it finally starts to get pretty cold in New York. I love spending a good stretch of days in my apartment, sleeping in, watching movies and opening up a bottle of red wine at 2pm (because #staycation). This year I finally went through my stack of Food & Wine and Bon Appetit magazines from the past few months – I have a binder that I fill with recipes that I rip out from magazines. Food & Wine’s September issue was all about Spain — rioja wine, tapas and jamon — which seemed like a perfect theme for New Year’s eve dinner. I made this vegetable tortilla and these meatballs.


I studied abroad in Madrid and my senora would often make us tortilla espanola — I loved it and wrote down her recipe, but had never attempted it on my own. I loved that the F&W recipe incorporated other vegetables too — a colorful addition! The “vuelta” (flip) was intimidating, but with the help of a friend and a large cutting board it was a success. It came out looking just like the photo, which always makes me happy. The meatballs were also great — they didn’t quite taste as good as all of the work that went into them, but worth trying.



After I returned from Spain, my brother gave me a tapas cookbook for my birthday — it’s been a while since I used it, but the fried goat cheese and caramelized onions on the cover were calling my name so I made that too.

I picked up meat, cheese and olives as well and my sister made delicata squash “doughnuts” and little lentil pancakes. In true tapas style, we prepared and brought out the dishes over the course of about an hour, and played a few rounds of What Do You Meme? in between “courses”.  Flize ano nuevo!

PS – how pretty is this saffron dissolving in water?!


Happy New Year!

2017 was sort of just a high intensity year, huh? High highs, low lows. Lots of excitement and celebration but also stress and anxiety.

It was an amazing travel year for me — with trips to Paris, Iceland, Cuba, California, India and Miami. And, of course, getting engaged in February was a highlight!

Iceland 1Paris 1Cuba 2India 1

Last year my New Year’s resolutions were to (1) actually blog more (didn’t happen), (2) volunteer (happened!), (3) work with a dog trainer for Moose (happened!), (4) bring my coffee, breakfast and lunch to work more often (happened!) and (5) learn how to better manage my anxiety (didn’t happen – just bit a nail off because I have anxiety about dealing with my anxiety – go team!)

The most successful of the bunch was #4 – I tried to limit myself to buying breakfast or lunch only 50 times over the course of the year (during the workweek only). I had a little tracker hanging in my desk – I find that I’m best at achieving goals when there is a strict count involved and when I have a visual of my progress. I did pretty well with this, but ended up falling off the wagon during the last two weeks of December. I ended up buying breakfast or lunch 56 times over the year, but I still consider it a success!

This year, I’ve transformed my resolutions into more of the counting sort and am creating a visual tracker to go along with each month. My resolutions are to: (1) only buy breakfast or lunch 50 times this year, (2) only buy coffee 50 times this year, (3) blog eight times per month, (4) “cook the book” once a month, and (5) do something crafty once a month. I also have this little thing called a wedding to plan… eek! I’m also generally trying to work out more, drink less and, duh, stress less.

I’m kicking off 2018 with a trip to Hawaii this month — Brett and I took the same trip in 2015 and 2016 and I can’t wait to go back. It really is my happy place! We have three friends joining us this year and I’m so excited to show them the island. Planning a fun trip for mid-January is a seriously good way to get over the post-holiday blues quickly!