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.

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