Have I mentioned how much I love Ottolenghi cookbooks? His recipes opened up a whole new world of flavor in my kitchen. He is so creative with flavors and food combinations. I’ve never been disappointed with an Ottolenghi recipe I’ve tried, and there are some that we return to again and again.
This recipe here is inspired by one from his newest cookbook Simple. It is simple. It’s also really delicious and makes a substantial meatless dish. The original recipe calls for ciabatta but I only had a loaf of sourdough so I used that. I made it a little more herby, too. I would maybe add some ham or bacon in a future version but it certainly doesn’t need it. It was puffy and light with delightful crusty cheesy baked edges. Mmmm. Serve it with a salad and you've got yourself a perfect weekday meal.
I love this kind of salad so much. It’s colorful, it’s hearty, it’s nutritious, and it tastes delicious on top of all that. I serve a basic old house salad with every dinner, so a salad like this is kind of like a treat. It’s also a perfect side salad to fill out a meal that needs just a little more substance on the side.
Alternatively, you can throw grains (like farro, barley, or quinoa) or roasted veggies (Brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes are my personal fave) and make this a legit meal. It makes a delicious lunch or a lighter dinner. With all the different elements and flavors you end up feeling totally satisfied.
Tomato soup and grilled cheese: it’s an American staple. Probably because it’s fast, and it’s satisfying.
The thing is, as a grown adult cooking for my family, I discovered that many cans and cartons of tomato soup are chock full of sugars. On the other hand, a lot of homemade recipes, although fresh and delicious, take time to make, and don’t yield that ultra smooth brilliant soup you get from a can.
I was inspired to make this dish after trying a recipe from this Food52 cookbook. The squash & chickpea salad/side recipe was delicious, but lacked enough “oomph” to pass for a meal on its own (at least in our house). So I added in couscous, tweaked the proportions, and discovered a few toppings that paired nicely. The result: a delicious, filling and surprisingly fresh dinner, sometimes hard to come by in the winter with no garden fresh produce.
Potato soup is comforting, easy, and economical. This recipe takes under an hour to throw together and makes everyone happy and content. The garlic and cheese are really what make this shine and taste all the more delicious.
Like any casserole, this is one of those meals that doesn’t look that impressive. I wouldn’t necessarily serve it for company. But, it is easy to whip up, works with what you have, and goes over well with both children and adults. So in my books, a weekday win.
I don’t know how authentic “Indonesian” this recipe is—I don’t even know where we got this recipe—but in our family it has gone by the name “Indonesian Chicken,” sometimes “Peanut Butter Chicken,” for years.
I have two pork recipes I use if I have a pork shoulder or butt: carnitas or milk-braised pork. They’re both great recipes and I doubt we’ll ever get sick of them, especially as they are really versatile and the leftovers freeze great and work with a multitude of subsequent meals. But I had a bone-in pork shoulder roast sitting in my fridge this week, just asking for special treatment. If you’ve watched Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix (which you should!), you’ll know what I mean when I say the idea of a porchetta sandwich was driving me a little crazy. One of my Cook’s Illustrated magazines had a porchetta recipe which I had been eyeing for a while, but I wasn’t up for deboning and fussing over any meat, so I skipped all that and roasted it bone-in. I guess I can’t compare it side by side to a boneless version, but it was incredibly delicious. The fat on the outside gets crispy and all crackling like and just explodes with flavor. It was a smash hit - and pretty simple and straightforward for all that.
Hello again! Yes, we have been on an almost month long hiatus. It was not intentional. In fact, the three of us discussed how we wanted to avoid the post-Christmas silence this year. Obviously that fell through.
We recently moved from Florida to Colorado, where my husband is originally from. In fact, we moved back to the same city where he grew up—into the same house he lived from when he was 6 weeks old to 18 years and heading off to college.
That’s right. We’ve moved in with his parents while we work on getting a new venture off the ground.
I can’t believe I’m only just getting this recipe into a blog post. I think it’s because its one of those dishes we have so often that I throw it together without even thinking. You’d think that would make an easy write up, but it ends up being really tricky to sit down and list out the precise ingredient quantities and directions for a process which has become reflexive and automatic. Nevertheless, for you, dear readers, I have made the effort.
This recipe was given to me in a simpler form. Over the years I have tweaked it here and there to our tastes. It’s simple, budget friendly, packed with flavor, feeds a crowd or makes multiple meals, … what more can you ask for? I hope you’ll take it and tweak it here and there and over time make it yours!
I wanted to share our consistent, years-long favorite: spinach pesto with ricotta and chicken … except that it got beat out today by a last minute flavor variation: spinach mushroom artichoke! I’m a little miffed about it, but I’m left with no choice but to share both recipes with you.
The first time I had gnocchi was during a family trip to Italy, during the girls’ trip to Florence specifically. One bite, and I wondered why these little potato dumplings of goodness had never been in my life before. Not long after returning home, I discovered a recipe in the Joy of Cooking and quickly made it. From there, I began making gnocchi more and more frequently from hosting a number of gnocchi parties throughout college to making them for my husband and now my family.
About a year ago, I shared on the blog one of my favorite fall recipes: Pumpkin Sausage Penne. Comforting, satisfying, spiced—it basically checks all the boxes for a cozy autumn meal.
Over the years, I haven’t fussed with the recipe much. I liked it the way it was. But this time around, when Fall arrived and I rushed to the kitchen to prepare this dish, I realized I had to change a few things up…
I love mac n’ cheese. (Who doesn’t?) My one quibble, though, is that my favorite recipe always seems a tad fussy to make on a weekly basis. Not sure what it is. Just one too many steps? The sense that if I didn’t follow the method, I wouldn’t end up with as tasty a dish?
I love frittatas. They seem fancy, even though they are easy to whip together, taking just a little longer than regular fried or scrambled eggs. They make a great breakfast, but are more than suitable for lunch or dinner too. They are economical, easily vegetarian or milk free, and, best of all, adaptable to whatever you have on hand.
I don't know if this is a true "hash" or not. From years of watching Chopped, people always seems to be criticized for calling something a hash when it isn't. The best I can find from a dictionary search is simply something cut up into small bits. I like this from the OED: "A mixture of mangled and incongruous fragments." Mmmm, yes, serve me some of that!
A while ago, I used a gift card from my Grandma to get Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables. Running a vegetable garden business in the backyard, I figured it would be nice to have a few more ideas on how to cook up all the veggies. I've really enjoyed the recipes I've tried so far. This one might be my favorite yet.
This ratatouille is not pretty. It’s nothing like the one in the Pixar movie. It is basically an obscenely large collection of vegetables that get chopped, generously doused in olive oil, and then roasted until they’re soft and caramelized and melded together into a deeply flavorful dish. The simplest process coaxes so much flavor out of such basic ingredients. And then I get to watch my kids gobble down a couple days worth of vegetable servings in one sitting - and with delight! It’s pretty magical.
I love a good veggie burger. I love a good hamburger too, but veggie burgers are so much fun because you can pack so much flavor into them. Plus, the directions you can go seem endless! Even where to start with the base can be a hard choice -- black bean, lentil, chickpea...you name it! Then what sort of cuisine? Tex-mex, Indian, Moroccan, Mediterranean...again, you name it! I haven't even started on what toppings you can add. Finally, homemade buns make them that much more tasty.
Did you know you can make yogurt at home? And that it's really easy? You basically need a pot and milk and you're set. I started making my own yogurt when we were on a very tight grocery budget - when, yes, the $2 per week that it saved was significant. And even though we're not strapped for those few bucks anymore, I've kept it up. OK, to be completely honest, I still try to save here and there if I can - it adds up, after all! But really, I just find it satisfying to produce some of the things I enjoy in my daily life. I remember the first couple of times I made it, it was almost like magic. I still find it kind of marvelous, kind of like every time I take a loaf of bread out of the oven I'm amazed all over at the process.
I love this dinner. If I were planning to host a fancy dinner, I'd choose this in a heartbeat. It's unfailingly delicious. It can be vegetarian or meat filled. It isn't technical, yet it looks incredibly elegant. Plus, you can easily make almost all of the components ahead of time and simply assemble and bake an hour before hosting.
I was flipping through the weekend newspaper a few months back when I passed over an interview with Jeni Britton Bauer. I probably would've continued flipping pages, but there was an inset recipe for hot fudge sauce that made me pause. Putting two and two together, I realized this was Jeni of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.
This salad is a delight. It's so fresh and flavorful and the perfect accompaniment to barbecue, spicy Mexican, or any lighter spring/summer meal. Fresh sweet corn contrasts with salty feta and the zing of the lime bounces around in your mouth with the herby cool of cilantro. The fresh zucchini gets softened by the vinaigrette but keeps a pleasantly firm texture which it otherwise loses when cooked.
This dish is a perfect instance of where few and simple ingredients come together and become amazingly, astonishingly flavorful. It's fantastic on its own with a side of rice, but also makes for a good burrito meat as it can be stretched while still providing a flavor punch.
There was a bowl filled with 10 cups of homemade chicken broth in my fridge that was fast approaching the 1-week mark. I'm not 100% positive about how long various things stay "fresh" in the fridge, and I suspect it is oftentimes longer than the standard safety recommendations*, but in general I operate under the 1-week policy. Under a week? Eat it. Over a week? Toss it. It's that hazy 6-7 day area where I know my logic is a bit spurious. It's okay to eat at 11pm on Day 6, but by 9am on Day 7 it has got to go.
I don’t think I would’ve thought to try a soufflé if I hadn’t been searching through this one particular magazine for a recipe I could fit into that week’s menu with the ingredients I had on hand. I think in my mind i had relegated soufflé to stuffy dinner parties or French restaurants, not weekday meals. Turns out, soufflé is simple enough for a weekday meal AND tasty enough to be gobbled down by kids and adults alike. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given the main ingredients of egg and cheese.
A while back, I got an issue of Real Simple in the mail that included a 4-week meal plan. I had been in a bit of a meal slump at the time, so the idea of having someone else plan out my menu for the month was something I embraced with full force.
Some of the meals turned out to be duds, or just plain old unspectacular. Other meals have worked their way into my staple recipes, surprising me by their ease of assembly and fantastic flavors. This White Bean & Spinach Soup is one of those recipes.
This recipe, like the Fettuccine Alfredo, was one of the first Italian meals I had from Philip's family and fell in love with. I still remember the first night I had it. I was dating Philip and visiting his family over break. I was seated at the table closest to the family room. I had on my blush pink cropped sweater. (Am I the only one on whom food makes such an impression?) I most certainly had seconds, if not thirds and fourths. I am fairly certain it was the first recipe I requested from Mom Barrows. I don't know what it is about it. It's not mind-blowing. It's actually fairly humble and simple. But, it's delicious. It's complete comfort food for me.
When we lived in Massachusetts, there was this great local butcher shop. They prided themselves on being known only by word of mouth. Living on a tight newly-wed budget, we would buy one of their "budget stretcher plans" every month or two. Basically, the plans offered a box package of a variety of meats and cuts for a set, discounted price. Not only did the plans save us money, but they also introduced me to new cuts of meat. "London broil? Okay, will look up how to use that." (It is delicious, by the way. Steak for almost nothing.) But most often, I'd think: "Gosh. More beef cubes." Which led to, "Is there anything else I can do with these besides making stew?"
Shortly after becoming pregnant with Edith, my mom visited our then apartment in Massachusetts. During that visit, she gifted me Jamie Oliver's cookbook Comfort Food. She had seen a recipe in the Wall Street Journal for his shepherd's pie where the potatoes are mixed with cheddar cheese and don't just top the dish -- they line the bottom of the pan as well! Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, he grates more cheddar cheese on top and finishes it all off with bread crumbs and a drizzle of oil. My mother knows me.
Before growing vegetables for market, I don't think I ever ate a turnip. If there was a time, I can only think of maaaybe eating mashed turnips. Once. But like kohlrabi, turnips have surprised me as being quite delicious.
We've made this cranberry-orange relish every year for Thanksgiving for as far back as I can remember. It adds brightness to an otherwise heavy thanksgiving meal. Although a warmed or jellied cranberry sauce often melds better with the other elements on the plate (stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes), there is something so superb about this fresh and zingy relish paired with a slice of turkey breast. So usually I take a bit of both -- the fresh cranberry relish and the cooked cranberry sauce -- and alternate my bites of turkey between the two.
Here's a basic-as-they-come traditional bread stuffing, straight from the old classic Joy of Cooking. (If you're beginning to suspect I'm 60, I'm not. Joy of Cooking might not be the best for trendy or sophisticated recipes, but, man, they get their basics right.) Keep it simple and just make it as written, or add in some sausage/dried fruit/nuts/mushrooms to jazz it up a little. It's a springboard!
After our first year of market gardening, we all agree that the most underrated vegetable is kohlrabi. It is delicious and full of flavor, most similar to the taste of broccoli stems (my favorite part anyways). Plus, it takes up hardly any space in the garden (a huge plus for our 1/2 acre farm). It also helps strike up a conversation, as it looks somewhat unusual, if not a bit alien.
This spinach artichoke quinoa is really delicious. I love a good, hearty, meatless meal to change things up in my weekly menu. With a cheesy sauce, lots of greens, and hearty quinoa grains, this leaves you feeling totally satisfied.
Here's one recipe I turn to for a comfort food with an autumnal twist: Pumpkin Sausage Penne. It's pasta coated in a pumpkin cream sauce, with subtle hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, but still firmly grounded in the savory by sautéed onion, garlic, and a bay leaf. It's all rounded off with satisfying chunks of Italian sausage and a heap of freshly grated parmesan.
Potato Knish. The first time I had one was from Rein's Deli, CT which was a family pit-stop on long trips between Massachusetts and Virginia, a drive we made frequently. It was my kind of food: potato filling enclosed within a pastry like dough. Starch on starch. You can't go wrong!
As promised, here is the family recipe for fresh pasta. It comes from a little cookbook of recipes from Southern Italy, specifically the town of Roseto in the Province of Foggia. Many Italians immigrated from this town and established a sister town of Roseto, Pennsylvania. This cookbook was created to preserve traditions and recipes for the immigrant relatives and families. In the preface to the cookbook, it says how important Rosetans held their culture to be. Homemade food "prepared in the peasant tradition, yet "fit for a king'" was a dominant part of this.
I married into an Italian family. Having always loved bread and pasta, embracing and making my in-law's family recipes took no time. Falling in love with them was even shorter. One of the first dishes I fell for was Fettuccine Alfredo.
Roasting the butternut squash might seem like too much work, but it pays off by giving this soup a deeper flavor. The spice of the curry against the velvety smooth, creamy sweetness of the squash makes it pretty addicting.
In high school, we had a subscription to Bon Appetit and my mom would menu plan based on the recipes in that month's issue. This method of menu-planning happily led both to some very exotic dinners and to the discovery of some of my favorite recipes, recipes which I return to again and again.
But four and half years ago I married a man from Colorado who, although appreciative of the finer things in life, really just wants to eat meat & potatoes. After laughing at the kinds of food he would request (hamburger gravy, for instance), I eventually broke down and gave the simple fare a try. Wow. There's no denying how comforting and delicious it can be.
Mexican meals are a staple in our household. I mean, when don't they satisfy? Give me a bowl of rice and beans any night, and I'm a happy camper. Having deliciously seasoned meat, cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and other toppings are all pluses, but honestly, I could do without most of them.
This is by no means be a precise recipe. It's just the rough framework I use as a springboard for creativity and for freeing myself from both mass-produced grocery store salad dressings and over-involved recipes I've tried. I whip this up in the last minutes of dinner prep, easy peasy, adjusting it slightly so that it complements whatever we're eating. Don't be dismayed or annoyed by my lack of specifics! Just try it out, adjust to taste, and you're good to go.