Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dutch Oven Cornbread with Fig Jam

Looking for the perfect side to your next BBQ bash? Look no further than Dutch Oven Cornbread with Fig Jam. I served it at my Superbowl party along with my favorite baked beans (recipe to come), and Martha's Mac n' Cheese and it truly was the fan favorite.  For the mains I left it to the pro's (of Smoque BBQ in Chicago) and served BBQ ribs, chopped brisket and pulled pork. It was a simple yet delightful entertaining move.   

PC: Bon Appetit

Winter Kale Salad

Here's the perfect weeknight salad that you can whip together in no time: 


PC/Recipe: RecipeGirl

Recipe after the jump: 

Chicken Parm Meatballs

My love of meatballs is evergrowing since I've discovered variations like chicken parm that is not only delicious but the perfect antidote to cold Winter nights and hungry tummies. They're also a lighter version of the real deal which is perfect for a week night. Serve them with whole wheat pasta marinara and roasted asparagus. Or a tuscan shredded kale salad. 

Recipe after the jump.
PC and Recipe: Dinner: A Love Story

General Tso's Chicken

In honor of the Chinese New Year, I whipped up General Tso's chicken to warm up my heart and soul on a recent freezing Friday night. While the traditional cooking method calls for deep frying the chicken in vegetable oil, I baked it for a lower fat version that tastes anything but.

I paired it with Gwyneth Paltrow's (amazing) Salad with carrot and ginger dressing to start and Food & Wine's Kung Pao brussel sprouts. The only thing missing was fortune cookies. 



Recipe for General Tso's Chicken after the break 

PC: CookingClassy, Goop, Food & Wine

Monday, February 2, 2015


Friday nights have taken on a whole new meaning since I started a family. While I'll spare you the details of my thrilling days of yesteryear, I've come to the conclusion that getting older actually rocks-everything except the wrinkles. The meals are better, the wine is high end, and the company is unbeatable.

Here's a recent Friday night meal that was better than a steakhouse:

To start:
Standard Wedge salad:
I like mine with chopped tomato, red onion, crumbled blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

Strip Steaks with red wine-rosemary butter:
With or without the butter, this steak prep is the best

Twice Baked Potatoes with Kale (recipe to follow)

a piece of dark chocolate and berries 

PC: Huffington Post, Giada Delaurentis, The Smitten Kitchen

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Last night I hosted a memorable Friendsgiving that was by far the tastiest Thanksgiving spread I've ever eaten.  Here are some ideas for your upcoming holiday:

The Drink: 
Moscow Mule
(Buy my favorite copper mugs here)

The Appetizer: 
Brie en Croute with apricot and strawberry jam

The Main: 
Ina's Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
(No dark meat here) 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce: 

And sides: 

The showstopper: Kosher by design Entertains: 
Graham Cracker Crusted Squash Pie* 
(This is the tastiest side dish I have ever eaten-it's a must try) 

Smitten Kitchen's Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions: 

The Pioneer Woman's Thanksgiving Stuffing

and the icing on the cake: 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars: 

PC: Mug: Black Dog Design Blog, Brie: Simply Recipes, Turkey: Food Network, Cranberry sauce: Pioneer Woman, Butternut Squash: Melodrama, Green Beans: Smitten Kitchen, and Stuffing: Pioneer Woman, bars: Sally's Baking Addiction

*Butternut Squash recipe after the break: 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Snickerdoodle Blondies are the best bars on the recipe market, bar none.   They're buttery and sweet with a blondie-like texture and are dusted with cinnamon and sugar that makes them oh so dreamy. Why did I have to discover them postpartum?

PC: Browneyedbaker

Monday, November 3, 2014

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Quinoa

Looking to spice up Thanksgiving? Look no further than Deb Perelman's (from Smitten Kitchen) Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Quinoa.  It's a bed of quinoa topped with hearty root vegetables finished off with a shallot vinaigrette, goat cheese, and a balsamic glaze.  My girlfriend brought it to a recent cooking club party and it went over big (especially paired with my apple cider). I can't wait to share it with my extended family over Thanksgiving.

PC: Neverskipdessert

Recipe after the break:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wasabi Pea Encrusted Salmon

While I normally ignore chain emails, I got lucky with a recent recipe exchange like you'd never believe.  One of my favorite finds is a wasabi pea encrusted salmon.  It's simple to prepare and is the perfect twist on fish.  It's a salmon fillet topped with a thin layer of mayo mixed with wasabi powder and topped with crushed wasabi peas and sesame seeds.  It's baked to perfection in 15 minutes flat and you can serve it with basmati rice and asparagus to tie in the Asian factor.  It's pretty awesome.

PC: Bon Appetit
Recipe: Danielle Kozin

Recipe after the jump: 

Apple Cider 2.0

I rocked my Fall-themed Cooking club with my favorite spiked apple cider and it was an affair to remember (or not).  I'm not even a huge specialty drink kind-of-girl and this sultry drink made me change my tune.  It's served warm and goes down nice and smooth like apple pie.  It's a must-try for those of you who like do it up.  It's the quintessential Fall drink.

1 Gallon apple cider
4 cinnamon sticks
1 bottle Captain Morgans Rum

Combine three ingredients in a pan over medium heat.  Allow to heat up and serve in mugs.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Food Delivery Part II

Here is another fantastic recipe, Ina's Turkey Meatloaf, that was delivered by my girlfriend Allyson who spearheaded the delivery of meals to my house. (Thanks All!) It is perfect comfort food but unlike the traditional kind, it's healthy and light.  Best of all, it is HUGE, so you'll have leftovers for days.  

PC: Food network

Friends are the best medicine

After welcoming my third child into the world in August, my wonderful friends delivered the most amazing gift imaginable-daily home-cooked meals for four that were as delicious as they were heartfelt, appreciated, and devoured with nursing hunger gusto.  While I thought I had everything under control, I had no idea just how hard it was to get a meal on the table while caring for a newborn baby.  I guess that's why the saying goes, "friends are the best medicine." This is especially true after a c-section!

After recreating my friend Emily's Spaghetti Bolognese two months later, I realized how much love and time she put into her meal and I don't even have words to tell you how much I appreciate it.  This sauce is the real deal.  She uses a mix of veal/beef/pork (which you can substitute if you don't like one of the meats) and layers it with carrots, onion, and celery and finishes it off with whole milk (I used 2%), white wine (which is the ticket) and crushed tomatoes.  While the sauce takes about 3-6 hours to cook (6 hours if you double the recipe like yours truly), it's worth every minute of your precious time.  She delivered it with fresh pasta from Eataly (damn she's good), homemade caesar salad and a blackberry crisp.  It was a meal to remember and I'll be making it forever while thinking of her generosity and love. Thanks Em!

This is also the perfect dish for entertaining guests.  You can prepare the sauce in advance, buy fresh pasta from a good market, make a good caesar (with store-bought dressing to save on time), and serve it with garlic bread and biscotti and gelato for dessert... or a crisp if you're an all-star like Emily.  I can't think of anything better.

PC: Bonappetit

Recipe after the jump: 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dinner for Two

To celebrate my husband's recent birthday, I made a special dinner for two followed by a big Golf cake so my kids could join in on the fun.  I made Rigatoni with Lemony Kale and Pecorino Pesto and Butcher Chop Chicken which served as a token of my love for the birthday boy.  The golf cake was also a huge hit.


PC: Food and Wine
Recipes after the jump:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Greek Burgers

With just a few weeks to go in my pregnancy, the only thing happening in my kitchen (other than burning everything I put into the oven) is simple and speedy meals with very little clean up.  Tonight's dinner fit the bill with juicy Greek Chicken Burgers that I threw on toasted pita and topped with a dollop of store-bought tzatziki sauce (Cedar's brand).  I also roasted some broccoli (which I burned) and tossed it into a bowl of prepared couscous.  It was still a delightful meal that happens to be healthy.

I would definitely recommend this burger for entertaining.  Serve it with a big Greek Salad and Bobby's Greek Potatoes with lemon vinaigrette. As my son Wyatt says, Bam!

Recipe after the jump:


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chickpea, Barley, and Feta Salad

Here's another fabulous side salad that's perfect for your next BBQ or dinner at home.

Chickpea, Barley, and Feta Salad

I served mine with Moroccan Chicken and Grilled Zucchini and Leeks with Walnuts and Herbs. It was an awesome meal!
PC: Bonappetit

Recipe after the jump:

Flourless Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

My good friend Lauren (who brought us Breakfast Cookies) is at again as she introduced me to the most scrumptious and healthy morning muffins:

Flourless Peanut Butter Banana Blueberry Muffins

They're truly one of a kind boasting strong peanut butter, banana and blueberry flavors while delivering tons of nutrients and not packing in the fat.  They're perfect for Breakfast or an afternoon snack.  And best of all, your kids will love them,* they are a dream come true. 

 *use sun butter if your child has a nut allergy

PC: Detoxinista
Recipe after the jump:

Green Couscous, Summer's perfect side dish

Leave it to Ottolenghi to create the world's best couscous dish... think layers of fresh (green) herb pesto, arugula, green chile, green onion, and even green pistachios.  This couscous will leave you feeling (what else) green with envy for those who have been enjoying it for years.  I don't think I'll ever look at another couscous dish again as it's truly the most perfect Summer side dish.


Recipe after the jump:

Date Night

Looking for a perfect date night dish for you and your loved one? Try Nobu's Black Cod with Miso. It's sweet and silky and screams total date night dish.  Like a blow out or manicure, don't forget to plan ahead as it's recommended to marinate the fish for at least 24 hours*. Serve it with sticky rice and bok choy and enjoy!

*if you're in Chicago, go to Dirk's because they already have it marinating.  


Recipe after the jump

Monday, April 28, 2014

Low Carb Delight

My mother-in-law introduced me to these awesome Beef & Quinoa Meatballs over Passover and they're so good that I made them this past Friday with a kale caesar and Julia Child's Eggplant Pizzas. It was a match made in culinary & low carb heaven.  If only I could eat this well seven nights a week.

Tender-Oven Roasted Beef & Quinoa Meatballs:

Julia Child's Eggplant Pizzas:

PC: &
Recipes after the jump

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Turkey Meatloaf with Chipotle Glaze

I just developed a major crush on SIRIouslyDelicious, a food blog written by Carson Daly's other half, Siri Pinter.  She's witty, funny, and says it like it is with awesome recipes for every occasion. 

Tonight I made two versions of her Turkey Meatloaf with Chipotle Glaze, one with and without the adobo sauce so my kids could enjoy it as well.  Both were seriously delicious and since they're packed with zucchini, onion, and sweet potato, they're healthy too. What more could a girl ask for? They will definitely become part of my weeknight staples. 

Recipe after the jump:

Blackberry Pie Bars

If you can resist the heavenly picture above then you must have a problem.  I took one look and ran to the market as fast as you can say 'snap' so I could sink my teeth into them ASAP. 

After cutting a 'sliver' before whisking them to a dinner party, my husband caught me red-handed, literally and figuratively, since by sliver I mean 3, maybe 4 bars, and I was (on the verge of) licking my fingers clean in my nice party dress.  HEY, you're only pregnant once and sometimes it ain't pretty. Whoever said "you can't have your cake and eat it too" was just plain wrong or obviously never pregnant. There are some things that are meant to be done in private. And this, my friends, is one of them. 

Back to the bars... they taste exactly how they look- a buttery crust topped with a sweet blackberry filling, covered in the a delightful crumble mixture. They are as delicious as they look, especially paired with vanilla ice cream (low fat of course) because then you can have a larger scoop. 

PC: Tracey's Culinary Adventures
Recipe after the jump:

Batali's Chicken

As a huge Batali fan, I had no doubt that his stuffed Herb and Cheese Filled Chicken Thigh recipe would fall nothing short of awesome. Sure enough, it's a definite crowd pleaser even for those who aren't the 'thigh' type, like yours truly. I served it with a Spicy Caesar Salad and Pizza with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto.  It was divine. And best of all, unlike most of Batali's dishes, this chicken dish isn't that unhealthy (besides the fat in the thigh) but I don't think you should count that since it's protein. How else are you supposed to grow?

Batali's Herb and Cheese-Filled Chicken Thighs:

PC: Food & Wine
Recipe after the jump:

Monday, March 17, 2014

World's Best Mac N' Cheese

For those of you who like to entertain, here is the world's best mac n' cheese that will make you fall to your knees. It's rich and creamy, yet simple and divine with toasted bread cubes on top that make it worth your time. (I know, I'm a poet and I just didn't...)

This is it, your Happily Ever After. And thank you to my friend Olivia for the world's best kept secret. 

Martha's Creamy Mac N' Cheese

Recipe after the jump: 

PC: Smitten Kitchen 

Cucumber Sandwich, not just for tea parties

While cucumber sandwiches usually just bring back memories of the bland tea party variety from my youth, I found that when you pair it with the right ingredients it makes you want to celebrate Meatless Mondays every day of the week. Here's the secret:

-Pair it with hearty whole grain bread, ripe avocado, and laughing cow cheese

-I'm talking good hearty bread, like the kind you find at a bakery (just buy a half loaf and use it for lunch)

It's healthy, filling, and totally satisfying.  Perfect for a pregnant lady might I add. I served mine with carrots and hummus.

Cucumber, Avocado, and Laughing Cow Sandwich:

Recipe after the jump: 
PC: Goodlifeeats

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cranberry Meatballs

In an effort to clear out my pantry before moving in a few months, I made an oldie but goodie: Cranberry Meatballs.  This dish is easy to prepare and versatile since you can substitute chicken if you don't have the time to make homemade meatballs (or can't find them pre-made at the store).  I serve mine over brown rice sprinkled with sliced honey almonds.  It's a family favorite.


Recipe after the jump:

White Cheddar, Apple Butter, Spinach and Honey Mustard Panini

Since pregnancy keeps me from eating my favorite deli meats, I came up with this super panini that doesn't make me miss the deli section for a minute.  The trick is good quality bread (I used the twelve grain loaf from the Whole Foods bakery) and a panini maker (hopefully you got one off your wedding registry).

White Cheddar, Apple Butter, Spinach, & Honey Mustard Panini:

Serves 1:
2 slices of whole grain bread
2 slices white cheddar
1 tbsp apple butter 
1/2 tbsp honeycup mustard*
1/3 cup fresh spinach or arugula
Other: 1 tbsp EVOO for brushing the panini maker

Preheat the panini maker to medium-high heat. 
Assemble the sandwich: spread the apple butter on one slice of bread and top with cheddar and spinach.  Spread the honey mustard on the other slice of bread and place it face down, forming a sandwich. Brush the olive oil on both sides of the panini maker and place the sandwich on the grill.  Close it and let it bake for 2-4 minutes or so, checking to see that the cheese is melted, the spinach is partly welted, and the bread is golden brown and crispy.  Enjoy!

*if you don't have honeycup mustard, I suppose you can substitute horseradish mustard for a nice kick. And buy it the next time you're at the store because it is the best mustard out there! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Have your cookie dough, and eat it too

After passing up countless edible cookie dough recipes on Pinterest  (because who in their right mind keeps edible cookie dough in their freezer?), my dessert prayers were answered with a healthful version that actually delivers some nutrients. (I'm no nutritionist but its ingredients are better than cookie dough). 

Cookie Dough Macaroons

While they don't look like normal macaroons and aren't made from traditional cookie dough ingredients, they are as satisfying and rich as the real thing.  I've been popping them like vitamins after dinner and I can't think of a better way to end my day. Go ahead and try them and get creative already. I plan on trying almonds and carob chips as well.  Finally, I find that they taste best frozen, so store them in your freezer.  

Recipe after the jump:

Meatless Mondays-Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

I love meat as much as the next girl, but lately I've been exploring the other side, the wonderful world of vegetarian dishes, and I have to say I'm smitten. Last night I made Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms from my favorite hometown cookbook, A Commemorative Celebration of Art & Food from the Toledo Museum of Art Aides, and I think I'll adopt Meatless Mondays because of it. Stay tuned for more delicious vegetarian dishes:

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
-Serves 4 as a light appetizer, or 2 as a meal

4 whole portabella mushrooms
1/3 cup Italian salad dressing (I used low fat)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 medium zucchini, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped (optional)
2 tbsp EVOO
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup herb-flavored croutons, crushed
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 tbsp pine nuts
Grated Parmesan to taste
Bottled Balsamic Glaze to taste (optional)

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and reserve. Chill, covered in the refrigerator. Combine the mushroom caps and salad dressing in a bowl and toss to coat. Marinate covered in the refrigerator for 8 to 10 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Chop the mushrooms stems. Saute the stems, onion, zucchini and red pepper in the olive oil in the skillet for about 4-5 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the croutons, 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, basil, and pine nuts and mix well.

Drain the mushrooms, discarding the marinade. Arrange stem side up on a greased baking sheet. Spoon a quarter of the crouton mixture on each mushroom cap. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.

Photo: Yvonne Duivenvoorden

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pigs in a Blanket

For this year's Superbowl, I made homemade Pigs in a blanket that were every bit as delicious as they were a fan favorite. I used half mini chicken apple sausages from Whole Foods and half mini dogs so that the ladies and gents (and toddlers) could eat to their heart's content.  For dipping sauce, I just stuck with yellow mustard because what’s a hot dog without it?

This recipe is easy-to-follow and best of all can be prepared it in advance as you pop them into the oven just 20 minutes before your guests arrive. Finally, don’t forget the parchment paper or else you’ll wind up with just pigs.  Recipe after the jump:
PC: Martha Stewart

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Superbowl S'mores Brownies

No matter if your team wins or loses on Sunday, this dessert is sure to deliver a happy ending to your Superbowl party: 

S'mores Brownies

These brownies are exactly what they seem: a rich and fudgy chocolate brownie layered with graham crackers and topped with toasted marshmallows. It might be my favorite brownie of all time. I'll definitely be making it this weekend. 

PC: Williams Sonoma
Recipe after the jump:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Breaking Good

Spending Friday nights at home gives me the perfect reason to thin out the mile high recipe pile on my desk. It's also the best way to wind down from a long week and connect with my family over a good meal.  This weekend I made the most awesome pizza and pasta that was a total home run.

Pizza with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto & Orecchiette with Squash, Chiles, and Hazelnuts

Believe it or not, this restaurant quality meal is easy to make. I honestly didn't spend more than 45 minutes in the kitchen which isn't usually the case for a gourmet meal. Pairing it with Breaking Bad episodes is priceless. (For adults, not kids).

Shape your pizza crust like a heart and call it Valentine's Day. 

Pizza with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto


Orecchiette with Squash, Chiles, and Hazelnuts

Recipes after the jump:

PC: Marcus Nilsson & Bon Appetit

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Perfect Winter Pizza

There's nothing I love more than a mouthwatering pizza baked in my own oven. I found this beaut on Pinterest and it's the jam! Figuratively and literally. 
Fig, Caramelized Onion and Chicken Sausage Whole Wheat Pizza

Here are links to some of my other favorite pizza combinations:
Eggplant, Pesto, and Goat Cheese Pizza
Sun-Dried Tomato and Arugula Pizza
Sausage Lovers Grilled Pizza

Recipe after the jump:

Chef of the Week

Today was Jack and Wyatt's turn to be 'chef of the week' at preschool, so I brought this awesome recipe that is healthy, easy to prepare, and well-received by toddlers:
Berry Banana Vanilla Jello Salad
What's so great about this jello pudding yogurt 'salad' is that you can doctor it up with all kinds of fun ingredients depending on what your child likes.  I used strawberries, blueberries, and banana and threw in some Nilla wafers that served as spoons.  The class went bananas over it! And to be honest, I'm pretty crazy about it too. 

Recipe after the jump: 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Smitten by Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah

On a recent Friday I took the plunge and made Smitten Kitchen's Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah. This delightful Jewish bread was by far the most gratifying recipe I've ever made since it turned out gorgeous, delicious, and special since I could break it with my family on a Friday night. It's not called Smitten by accident. My family is hooked. 

It also makes for the best challah french toast on a Saturday morning.   

Recipe after the jump:

Chicken Burgers with Garlic-Rosemary Mayonnaise

I don't know how it's humanly possible that I haven't posted my favorite burger of all time given the fact that I make it at least once a week and I recommend it to anyone (and everyone) looking for an easy and tasty week night meal:

Chicken Burgers with Garlic-Rosemary Mayonnaise

I serve mine like all my burgers: with baked sweet potato fries and roasted asparagus.  It's by far my favorite weeknight meal. 

Even if you're one 'those' who pretend to hate mayonnaise, I promise that this dish is still for you. You see, when mayo is mixed with rosemary, garlic, and ground chicken it results in a burger that is juicy, flavorful, and believe it or not healthy-if you use low fat mayo. Trust me, it'll become one of your staples. 

Recipe after the jump: