Archive for the 'Recipe of the Week' Category

To Make: Homesick Texan Dr. Pepper Cake

Dr. Pepper Cake

Let me just tell you: The topping? It's GOOD.

Just out of the oven.

House smells great.

Will I wait for the kids to dig in?

What do you think?

Homesick Texan Dr. Pepper Oatmeal Cake with Coconut-Pecan Topping

Dr. Pepper Cake


Homesick Texan Carnitas

Oh, yeahhh….



Recipe of the Week: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Marinated Gigante Bean Salad with Grilled Shrimp

gwyneth-paltrow-gigante bean salad with grilled shrimp

Summer’s over, but we’re still making this light, lemony, garlicky salad and loving it. Don’t have gigante beans? Use butter beans or cannellini beans instead. No watercress in your fridge? Use any kind of greens or serve over sauteed spinach.

One note: Marinating the beans in olive oil, garlic, and scallions (or chives) for several hours before preparing is a key step in the recipe and makes a big difference in flavor. So do that earlier in the day and then assemble later for dinner — it’s fast and easy. And delish.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Marinated Gigante Bean Salad with Grilled Shrimp and Watercress.

What else is cooking:

Pork Shoulder Ragu

Spicy Veggie Burritos

Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze




Recipe of the Week: Pork Shoulder Ragu from Dinner: A Love Story

DALS pork shoulder ragu

We still haven’t rounded the corner with spring yet — is more snow coming? please, God, no — which means we’ll definitely be making this Pork Ragu with Pappardelle from Dinner: A Love Story at least one more time before temps turn warmer. It’s easy (hello, braising), delicious, and was a hit with everyone.

A few notes from our making of the dish:

* We’d never cooked pork shoulder before and were perplexed by the not at all unattractive but rather large layer of fat present on one side of the meat. You might be able to buy the pork roast trimmed, or trim it yourself, but I’m sure the fat added flavor. We left it on and then removed the excess fat once the meat was cooked and it was time to pull it apart with two forks, per the recipe — that was simple, as it’s falling-apart tender.

* Since M. is not a fan of tomato sauce, I set aside some meat for her at that stage, before adding it back to the pot with all of the saucy goodness. She was a satisfied customer and ate happily — her buttered pasta in one bowl and meat in the other — without complaint. J., who loves tomato sauce and asked for extra with his meat, was a happy camper, too.

* DALS recommends serving this with a salad with some sweetness to it to balance the pork. We did — greens with pear and blue cheese — and it did make for a great pairing.

* The fact that you braise the meat for 3 – 4 hours, with little effort required on the part of the cook, makes this recipe highly appealing for busy parents. Great for entertaining, too, as DALS notes. Also, it made the house smell really good — that, plus advance sampling of the meat by the kids before we sat down to eat, meant they were nicely primed to go after the food with gusto (definitely not always the case.)

What recipes are getting your family through the last weeks of winter? We’re all ears!


Last Week’s Recipe: Spicy Veggie Burritos

Recipe of the Week: Spicy Veggie Burritos

black beans

cheddar cheese


shiitake mushrooms

As you may have noticed, veggie burritos are in heavy rotation on the Weekly Menu. They’re a long-time, mostly vegetarian fave, and we can crank them out on auto pilot. But as commenter Melissa from Michigan recently pointed out, northerners and various others not raised on Tex-Mex might need a little help with ideas and inspiration!

So, here’s a rough take on how we throw them together each week — add in more or less of each ingredient based on what you like and want to taste more of. (Note: While the kids will eat plain cheese quesadillas, our burritos are a tougher sell. We like them full of spinach and mushrooms and turned up high on the heat — not really their thing. Also, picky little Miss M. is anti-beans AND -avocado — can she really be mine? — so it’s generally a moms-only dinner. But we’re working on it.)

Spicy Veggie Burritos, a Shiny Brite Kitchen Fave

Saute chopped garlic and chopped chipotle chiles in adobo (go easy on the latter until you figure out what suits your taste, maybe a quarter to half of one pepper plus a little of the smoky sauce) in olive oil for a minute or two.

Toss in some chopped red bell pepper and saute until tender; add in the chopped mushrooms of your choice (we use shiitake or cremini) and saute those, too.

Add one can (or most of it) rinsed black beans; we use Goya. Stir to combine everything. (If you have leftover grilled steak or chicken on hand, and are feeling in need of extra protein, you can add a little of that in, too.)

Add washed spinach and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted. Remove the pan from heat.

To assemble: Nuke flour tortillas wrapped in paper towels for a few secs to make them soft (we use Mission Whole Wheat Medium/Soft Taco size — there’s a little veggie overflow, but the Burrito size is HUGE. Trying to save a few carb calories where we can, but it’s a personal choice. If you want the burrito to fold up all nice and neat with no spill-age, you’ll need the big boys.)

Put a tortilla on each plate and spoon in the veggies; add grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese to taste. Fold in the ends first and then roll closed. Nuke again until cheese is completely melted; about a minute.

Top with a mix of any or all of the following: chopped tomatoes, diced fresh jalapeno, cilantro, avocado, scallions, salsa, sour cream spiked with a little of the adobo sauce from the chipotle chiles, and, of course, a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce.

Yum, yum.

And for two twists on the above, both of which we’ve tried and liked, try these, from Dinner: A Love Story and Smitten Kitchen:

Black Bean Burritos with Pickled Onions

Crisp Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw

Recipe of the Week: Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze

salmon with sweet chili glaze

Salmon: It's what's for dinner.

You know how you get obsessed with certain recipes for a while and want to make them all the time? Well this salmon is a recent fave of mine. It’s made an appearance on the Weekly Menu a few times, but I thought I’d elevate it to Recipe of the Week status and feature it.

The kids wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole — too hot — but since salmon is one of the few things we’ll all eat, we can feed them a simple skillet-roasted fish with olive oil, S & P, then shuffle them off to bed and have our own dinner in peace.

I love this recipe for two reasons:

1. It’s super-flavorful, with a real punch of sweet and hot. (Sometimes I kick up the heat a bit more by adding chili pepper flakes, too.)

2. It’s no-brainer easy. It’s fun to try new recipes, but sometimes you just want a dish you have to give almost no thought to. This one you can prep, let sit for 30 minutes while you have a glass of wine and uninterrupted conversation with your spouse, then cook in a flash.

We first tried the recipe last spring, and the original (as you’ll see when you hop to the link) calls for fresh spring sugar snap peas and pea tendrils. It was yummy and we’ll try that version again this spring, I’m sure. But for now, we’ve been serving the fish with sauteed greens or a salad, usually with a little rice of some sort on the side.

The recipe says to whisk together your ingredients and then spoon the sauce over the salmon to let it sit; I whisk everything in a square glass dish and then place the fish flesh side down in the sauce to marinate, which I think gives it more intense flavor.

Got an amazingly easy and flavorful dish that you’re currently making again and again? Tell us! Maybe we’ll add it to our Weekly Menu.

Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze (from Bon Appetit)

Recipe of the Week: Ambrosia! The Perfect Side Dish for Winter Brunch

Post holiday, I was looking for something to do with the excess coconut in the fridge, leftover from a nameless holiday sweet (can’t remember exactly what). Then we were invited to a New Year’s Brunch, and it came to me: ambrosia!

Ambrosia is a dish I remember from living room brunches of my youth. I never liked it. Coconut was not really my thing, and neither was mixing fruits (or plain bananas in general). It wasn’t a dish my family served. It was usually found on the side board of our Southern neighbors.

Cut to 2011: the colors of this dish, the taste, the simplicity of the preparation make it a star of any winter brunch. The citrus really hits the spot. Why save it for Christmas?

Mark Bittman is often my go-to guy when I’m looking for recipes and this was no exception. Some Ambrosia recipes can be a bit fussy or too creamy for my taste. This one is simple, and delicious.

Mark Bittman’s Ambrosia Recipe:

Four oranges, sections cut out**

Two bananas sliced

1 cup of coconut

Mix the oranges and bananas together, and sprinkle the coconut on top (perhaps with a little of the collected orange juice?) a few minutes before serving.

**to cut the sections: first cut off either end of the orange so that it could stand up on a cutting board. Next, cut off the peel, removing as much pith as possible. A curved citrus knife makes this a snap, but a regular knife does fine as well. Then, cut the sections directly out of the orange. It’s a little messy but so worth it. Save that juice!

(recipe from How to Cook Everything, of course)

If you want a more souped up version, you might try Alton Brown’s Ambrosia, complete with mini marshmallows, nuts, maraschino cherries, and heavy cream, here. I’d post a picture of one of the creamy versions, but I swear there isn’t one pretty enough to use!

I like the idea of adding a little kick, like the cream sherry as Scott Peacock uses, here, while still keeping the recipe simple (I’d use pre-shredded coconut instead of roasting my own as he does). Or Grand Marnier would be a yummy addition, as in this simple recipe from Cooking Light.

Southern Living (a go-to source for sure) says “The be-all and end-all of ambrosia is that it is what you want it to be.

Photo by Beth Dreiling for Southern Living

Personalizing it with whipped cream, pistachios, marshmallows, dried cranberries, or bright red maraschino cherries doesn’t make it wrong–it makes it yours.” Nonetheless, their recipe, here, keeps it pure.

Try it!

Recipe of the Week: Pan-Roasted Leeks


Mmm, mmm good.

We traded the heat of New York City last weekend for the cool breezes and calming surf of Fire Island. It was absolute heaven, and perfect for the kids. No cars and close-together houses teeming with other children looking to play mean kids can roam outside with an impressive amount of independence. Plus, all the fun of the beach = everyone’s exhausted at the end of the day. My fave.

Another reason it was so nice: We had amazingly fun and generous hosts who cooked for us non-stop! We had lots of great food, but one dish stood out: roasted leeks. Mmm.

We love leeks and use them “in” things all the time, but never prepare them as a dish on their own. Now we will. Their sweetness pairs beautifully with the grilled meats of summer (we had ours with steak and balsamic chicken) and they make a welcome change from the ubiquitous green salad.

Here’s how our host made them — super-simple.

Pan-Roasted Leeks

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees

Wash and slice leeks, then put them in a pan and toss with olive oil and quite a bit of salt. Roast them in the oven until very soft (they’ll get brown and caramel-y in spots.)

I found a similar recipe in Nigella Lawson‘s book Nigella Express, which you could also use for inspiration. She uses baby leeks and garlic-infused oil instead of basic EVOO. Here’s the recipe.

But the point is: Leeks on their own. Delish.

Recipe of the Week: Pizza on the Grill

Grilled Pizza

Garlic Scape Pizza, hot off the grill

Pizza on the grill. Really? Really. I always thought it was a crispy, gooey myth, too. The good news is that it’s the real deal: easy, delicious, and a way to keep the oven off on a hot summer night.

Almost every Saturday, we try to have pizza & a movie night. It begins with the kids and I making the dough, which is so ridiculously easy (and so easy for kids to help with) that unless you are out of the house all day, there’s no reason not to try it. It’s fast, and it tastes a whole lot better than most of what you could have delivered and anything that was frozen. The only special ingredient you need is yeast and a little time to let the dough rise (I usually let it rise an hour).

There are plenty of recipes for pizza dough. I’m partial to Mark Bittman but any general interest cookbook will have a few. Make two batches and freeze one for later.

The key to a successful pizza on the grill, to my amateur mind, is to make certain the grates are prepared. Turn your grill on high, and when it is good and hot, scrub it clean.

Roll or stretch your dough into the form you prefer (and that will fit on your grill). I put mine on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper so it would slide off easily.

Take your grill tongs, use them to grab a loose paper towel, and dip the towel into the bowl of canola oil you have waiting. Rub that oily towel all over the grates. When the grates look dry, repeat this step two more times.

Then slide your dough onto the grill to crisp it a bit before you add the toppings. Using a spatula, keep an eye on the underside, and cook it for 30 seconds to one minute (depending on your preference and keeping in mind that you will be putting the dough back on the grill with toppings). Flip the dough and cook it on the other side for the same.

Take the dough of the grill, turn the grill to low, and add the toppings. Best to put the cheese on last as the dough is very hot.

We are swimming in garlic scape pesto, recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan. Another google search for garlic scapes yielded a blog called Amuse Bouche , which gave me the inspiration for adding the pesto to pizza and grilling it. So, voilà, pesto on the pizza, with crispy pancetta, kalamata olives and fontina (no tomato sauce on this one). Fontina is our new obsession for pizzas, by the way. It melts perfectly and has a great flavor.

Putting the pizza back on the grill is a bit of a trick, and the parchment paper helps. Just slide it onto the grates, careful not to let the toppings roll off. And then close the lid, and watch the pizza for doneness. It will take a few minutes to get the cheese bubbling and delicious. And it took me two spatulas to get it off the grill.

The result: perfect pizza, cool house, delicious, fast, easy dinner. A winner!

Related Posts:

Pizza Night

Recipe of the Week: Cherry Amandines from La Tartine Gourmande

I’ve found a great whip-it-up-when-you-get-home-dessert that looks fancy, tastes delicious and is filled with ripe, luscious cherries. It’s a little like a bread pudding with a soft center, and chock-a-block with bright fruit. Perfect for weeknight or weekend company, or (as I made it) for one of those I-need-a-dessert moments.

You should have most of the ingredients in your pantry (eggs, butter, brown sugar, vanilla). You might have almonds (for some reason, we always do. Maybe it’s the granola) and the cherries. And you’ll probably have to buy the crème fraiche or mascarpone cheese (one or the other). But it will be worth it.

Because it will take you 10 minutes to assemble this, 20 minutes to cook it (then some pacing while you wait for it to cool a bit) before it takes you 5 minutes to eat it and exclaim over the deliciousness.

Cherry Amandines, hot out of the oven

Cherry Amandines, hot out of the oven


I found this recipe over at, which you should visit, if for no other reason than it is amazingly gorgeous. Visiting this site from my frigid Manhattan office gives me a short Calgon “take me away” moment.

Cooking notes: I only used about half the cherries because I was afraid they wouldn’t all fit in my ramekins. That said, I could have used more, maybe even all, the recipe called for. I also used mascarpone rather than crème fraiche because the former can be found at the grocery around the corner, and the latter requires a special trip.

Check out the recipe here, and while you’re at it, check out the latest post which includes a fresh pea spread with goat cheese, lemon, mint- need I go on (hint hint Katie who is providing the so-called pea tapenade for dinner tonight)? Wow, that looks good.


Recipe of the Week: Everyday Granola for the Family

One of the best things about my mornings, everyday (hello, creature of habit), is my yogurt and granola. Take 1/2 cup fat free yogurt (I prefer plain), 1 TBSP granola, and your choice of fruit (berries are my pref, but banana will do), and to me, you have a perfect everyday breakfast. I love it! It’s simple, it’s light, and it’s delicious.

Granola can be expensive. This recipe, adapted (slightly) from Everyday Food, makes enough granola for the whole family to enjoy for a few weeks. It’s inexpensive, quick to prepare (no special ingredients necessary), and to my mind, adds the same crunch you’d get from Bear Naked or any other granola, to your breakfast. Enjoy!

Everyday Delish

Everyday Granola Recipe (adapted only slightly from Everyday Food):

3 1/2 – 4 cups oats
1/2 cup nuts (or split between two of your favorites), chopped
pinch of kosher salt
5 tsp canola oil
5 TBSP maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. In large bowl, toss together all ingredients.
3. Spread mixture on rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 25 minutes. Let cool completely

Store at room temperature.

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