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.
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:
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!
After passing up countless edible cookie dough recipes on
Pinterest for the sake of vanity, my dessert prayers were answered with a
healthful version that actually delivers some nutrients…
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.
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.
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:
No matter if your team wins or loses on Sunday, this dessert is sure to deliver a happy ending to your Superbowl party:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you're from the Midwest, I'd venture to guess that your favorite snack from your childhood is Puppy Chow. For those of you in the dark, I'm not talking about dog food but rather the most delicious snack imaginable made from chex mix, peanut butter, chocolate, and powdered sugar. It's a party mix that literally melts in your mouth (and hand).
When I came across Puppy Chow Cookies on Pinterest I thought it was only fair to make them. (To my kids of course). To say that they were a hit would be an extreme understatement.
With temperatures dropping to an all-time low, it's the perfect time to heat things up in the kitchen. Here is a wonderful menu for a cozy night at home in front the fire or even Valentine's Day. Its cross-cultural flavors like curry, masala, cumin, coriander, and pistachio really keep things interesting while the cayenne pepper gives it the perfect amount of heat to make it memorable.
Don't let the fancy names deter you. This meal isn't as hard to prepare as it sounds. In fact, the lamb chops can be made in 15 minutes flat. I was feeling extra ambitious when I made this so I served it on a Friday night with a Fig, Olive oil, and Sea Salt Challah. Recipe to come. The meal was divine.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Pistachio Masala Lamb Chops with Cucumber Mint Raita
After trying dozens of chicken cutlet recipes over the years, I finally found the winner: Parmesan Crusted Chicken. This chicken is so good I've made it 4 times in the past two weeks. It's moist, crunchy, lemony, and tastes like a classier version of the the ones typically served in a bucket. I'm not even a huge fried chicken kind of girl and I'm hooked. I serve it with healthy mashed potatoes and roasted cauliflower. Recipe after the jump.
Here is the perfect antidote to cure any rainy day blues: Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip Bread from Healthfulleverafter. It's healthy, fun and easy to make, and your kids will love helping you in the kitchen. It's also a great way to use up ripe bananas. It definitely cures our cabin fever!
2 ripe bananas- mashed
1 cup shredded zucchini (about ½ a medium size zucchini)
½ cup plain 0% Greek Yogurt
½ cup applesauce
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan with baking spray. Using the grating feature on your cuisinart, shred half of a zucchini. Combine it with all of the other ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate chips in a large bowl. Mix until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a loaf pan and bake for 32-40 minutes or until the center is cooked all the way through. Cool and serve warm or at room temperature.
After numerous unsuccessful attempts sneaking vegetables into my kids' meals (think cauliflower mac n' cheese, berry and kale smoothies, buttered noodles with broccoli pesto, you name it), I finally found the golden ticket: Steak Seasoning. This overlooked pantry staple transforms a boring vegetable like cauliflower into a juicy and tender (dare I say 'meaty') steakhouse-worthy side or main. It's so good that my picky kids were popping it into their mouths like popcorn. It was one of the most enjoyable food moments of my life.
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets about 1 1/2" diameter
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp steak seasoning
1 shallot, thinly sliced
P.S. They make great leftovers as a topping to butternut squash soup.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Break up the cauliflower into florets. Try not to make them too small since they shrink while roasting. Place the cauliflower and sliced shallots in a single layer on a cooking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and steak seasoning and toss well. I don't measure out the EVOO or seasoning. I just give it a good drizzle and shake and call it a day. Bake for 25-35 minutes until tender, turning once with a metal spatula.
After hearing all the buzz about Jerusalem a Cookbook I finally received my coveted copy and I am madly in love. Its collection of 120 recipes explores the cross-cultural perspective of authors and friends Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi both born in the same year in Jerusalem, one from the Arab side and one from the Jewish West. Unlike most cookbooks, it includes the rich history of the city and its recipes along with visuals of mouthwatering dishes and the people of Jerusalem. And most importantly, its recipes turn out and taste better than they look, which is a feat in itself.
What a perfect gift for the holidays for any home cook.
Most of the recipes aren't exactly weeknight dishes, since their ingredient list sometimes takes up the entire page, but for those of you who like a challenge, try this meal:
Turkey and Zucchini Burgers with Green Onion and Cumin with Sour Cream and Sumac Sauce
Basmati & Wild Rice with Chickpeas, Currants, Herbs, and Fried Onions
Roasted Butternut Squash & Red Onion with Tahini and Za'atar
Since my best friend from growing up just moved back to Chicago, I decided to make her a Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern meal inspired by our favorite Lebanese restaurant in Ohio-the Beirut. If you've been to Toledo, Ohio, then you've definitely been to the Beirut since it's a place where everyone knows your name (and life story). And on top of its warm atmosphere, it has spectacular food to boot.
Some of the spices in these dishes are hard to find (like sumac and za'atar), but if you live in Chicago you can buy them at The Spice Market in Old Town. It's quite the destination for an avid cook if you haven't been there already.
Here is what I served:
Grillled Lamb Meatballs with Apricot, Pine Nut, and Feta Couscous and Fattoush Salad
There's nothing like Summer to bring out the picnic-goer and bbq-lover in all of us. Since it's always wise not to arrive empty-handed, bring along one of these sinful desserts to really get the party going:
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars and Key Lime Coconut Bars.
I brought both to a recent cooking club and my health-conscious friends made 'all gone' like they were fat free cookies. Pretty impressive considering it's bikini season.
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars:
Even if you don't think you like dulce de leche, give these a try. They're delightful and taste more like caramel. And don't forget the sea salt at the very end. It brings out all the sweet flavors.
Key Lime Coconut Pie Bars:
Just as good and if not better than any key lime pie I've tried in my life. If you don't like coconut, just omit it from the recipe all together.
Grilled Curry Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper, Japanese Eggplant, and Arugula Salad with Yogurt Dressing
After a few weeks of intense travel and heavy eating with my family (shame on me), I decided to lighten things up a bit with a low fat meal that tastes anything but light: Grilled Shrimp with Vietnamese Vinaigrette and Grilled Curry Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper, Japanese Eggplant, and Arugula Salad with Yogurt Dressing. The exotic flavors of the Vietnamese Vinaigrette and Yogurt Dressing are finger-licking good and it's by far one of the best meals I've ever prepared. I paired mine with simple couscous (just flavored with salt and pepper) and let the Vietnamese Vinaigrette do the talking. (Be sure to add an ample amount to finish off the dish before serving).
Last Sunday my husband and I had three families over for a relaxing and enjoyable Sunday night dinner. With Italian fare that was adult and kid-friendly and a group of well-behaved toddlers, the night went off with a hitch ending with a toddler dance party to Mumford & Son's and Skillet Almond Shortbread. (It's quite the combo I have to say). I can't think of a more perfect (or adorable) way to end the weekend.
Here's what I served:
Kale Caesar Salad
I used green kale and a mixture of two store-bought Caesar dressings. One that is creamy and the other that is more of a vinaigrette
Brussel Sprout, Caramelized Onion, and Pancetta Pizza:
Be sure to use store-bought pizza dough (like Whole Foods whole wheat version) and don't forget the lemon juice and hot chili oil at the end that really makes this pizza one-of-a-kind.
It's recipes like these that make my chocolate allergy a walk in the park. Trisha Yearwood's Skillet Almond Shortbread is moist, flavorful, and has the perfect buttery shortbread flavor that's finished off with crunchy toasted almonds. It will forever hold a special place in my heart and freezer.
If you have a nut allergy, omit the nuts entirely, it's just as delicious.
Chile Shrimp with Butter Beans and Lemony Couscous
There's nothing I love more than a restaurant-worthy meal that is healthy, easy to make, and can be made in ten minutes flat. My Mother-in-Law recently introduced me to Chile Shrimp with Butter Beans and Lemony Couscous and it is fantastic as a light appetizer or entree. It has the perfect amount of spice that's balanced by a lemony couscous topped with meaty butter beans and capers. I recently served it with a kale caesar salad and a brussel sprout, pancetta, and parmesan flatbread (which I will feature soon).
Looking for a showstopper? Check out Crack Pie, the cult classic dessert crafted by James Beard-rising star chef David Chang from his famous bakery Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. (Wow, that was a mouthful). Now, obviously you should steer clear of anything called crack, but I swear this is actually the good kind. It's the sort of pie that makes you hate yourself for realizing how little self control you have when it comes to something so dangerously addictive. Try it, everyone's doing it. I mean I have been for the past four nights and I'm fine. (Leftovers are killer). I think it's my favorite pie of all time.
After one of many lunches at Potbelly's, my son Wyatt's first word was "meatball!" . There's nothing cuter than when your kids start to talk and nothing better than when they can tell you what they want. Luckily I found a recipe on Pinterest that (almost) matches his enthusiasm with flavor. (He's pretty enthusiastic). They're moist, hearty, and absolutely delicious. And I tried it with both ground turkey and beef.
Add them to your favorite spaghetti marinara or else enjoy them plain. Recipe after the jump:
Looking to do something romantic at home? Skip the crowds and go for this hot and spicy menu that will make you fall in love all over again. It's so good that that it will probably earn you the 'Kitchen Goddess' moniker... which could easily lead into other pet names if you play your cards right.
It starts with a Whipped Feta and Heirloom Tomato crostini that should be paired with a crisp, white wine. It's followed by a Spicy Caesar Salad with bacon and red chiles in honor of V Day. The main event is the juiciest and most flavorful Paprika Roasted Chicken cooked over crispy (duck fat) potatoes. And the icing on the cake is the most refreshing Lemon Yogurt Pound Cake with a citrus glaze. Happy V Day!
Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta
(my new favorite crostini of all time)
Spicy Caesar salad with bacon
(I've made it as is and low fat with light mayo and turkey bacon and it is still amazing)
Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter Cookies with Sea Salt
The only thing Superbowl Sunday does for me is gives me a good run for my money. Not literally since I could care less about gambling or football, but more so that I have to figure out THE dish to bring to the party every, single, year. I mean, it basically sums up your last year's worth of cooking/baking talent in one fell swoop and that's no easy feat!
This year I came out on top since I chose a cookie that is probably the best thing I've ever tasted: Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter Cookies with Sea Salt. Need a visual? Picture a Carol's Cookie on steroids with a pop of warm nutella in its center and a sprinkle of sea salt to make you extra excited. Feeling skinny? Make them. Feeling fat? I don't know what to tell you. Suck it up, what's an extra 1000 calories?
*Just a note, the dough is so thick and crumbly that I first made the balls and then after the refrigeration step, I warmed each one up with my hands, broke it half, made them into semi-flat circles, put on the dollop of nutella and covered it with the other side to form a ball. I cooked them for exactly 10 minutes and removed them from the pan after 2 minutes. I found that they started to burn if not and nobody likes burned chocolate. Not even Sexual Chocolate!
After a recent babysitter cancellation, I decided no one was going to bring me down on a Friday night; so I ran to the market and whipped up a nice Mexican meal for two. I made homemade margaritas, spicy guacamole, and chicken enchiladas with roasted asparagus and refried black beans. To finish it off, I served nutella-stuffed chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with sea salt. I had made them for Superbowl Sunday, it's not like I can just have those sitting around the house. It was a meal to remember (even though I can't say I do).
8 soft corn tortillas
3 cups chicken broth
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast, 6-8 oz
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried 2 sprigs fresh oregano 1 small onion, quartered 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/3 palm full 1 teaspoon ground cumin Salt
2 cups tomato sauce
2 teaspoons hot cayenne pepper sauce, several drops
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 pinches
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 1/2 cups Monterey Jack shredded cheese, available on dairy aisle
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Wrap corn tortillas in foil and warm in the oven. Bring broth to a boil in a saute pan. Set chicken into broth with bay and oregano and onion. Return to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Poach chicken in broth 10 minutes. Remove chicken breasts to a bowl and shred with 2 forks. Add 1/2 cup of cooking liquid and tomato paste, spices and salt and work through the chicken using the forks.
Combine all sauce ingredients and heat through, keeping warm until needed.
Remove tortillas from oven and switch broiler on high.
Pile chicken mixture into warm corn tortillas and roll. Line casserole or baking dish with enchiladas, seam side down. Pour hot tomato sauce over the chicken enchiladas and top with cheese. Place in enchiladas in hot oven 6 inches from broiler and broil 5 minutes to melt cheese and set enchiladas.
This recipe is for all of you who grew up sneaking potato chips in your sandwiches-I'm guessing Doritos. You know who you are and I'm here to tell you that you're not alone or weird. At least that's what I tell myself. Bobby Flay liked it so much as a kid that he created a burger to celebrate it.
The chips and horseradish mayo add the perfect punch and crunch to your palate. I don't think I'll ever be able to eat an uncrunchified burger again.
Hosting an afternoon playdate brings out the chef in me since I love to try out new recipes on my kids and their friends. My most recent playdate included Weelicious's Classic Mac n' Cheese after I sampled it at my friend's Olivia's house. It is as classic and as it is scrumptious and I can't wait to make it again and again. Go for it, your kids will thank you (and your husband/partner will too).