Posts Tagged 'cooking'

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….



December 17 – 18: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas


{photo via Peony / Melbourne}

Merry Almost-Christmas!

Holy crap, it’s almost here.

On my mind:

Good news — someone ELSE is cleaning my house this morning! And if you live in New York City, they can be cleaning yours, too. And you can pay with a credit card, no need to make sure you have cash on hand. And you can book online and they won’t cancel on you at the last minute. Call MyClean.

I don’t think I can make it through the holiday without some beautiful, perfect macarons from Laduree, now in NYC — must try to make it there this week, despite the fact that a friend went and had to wait in line an hour…. I’m thinking this can be avoided if I get there when they open — 9am Monday through Saturday, 10am on Sunday.

Speaking of cookies, I want to make these SmitKit gingersnaps.

And speaking of NYC, did you hear Gwyneth + Goop launched the first of their city guides this week, and of course it was NYC? Buy it as the app store.

Have fun buying, wrapping, baking, and eating!

It’ll be time for the fat man to come to town before you know it.

{photo: Peony / Melbourne}

‘Tis the Season for Holiday Prep

gingerbread cake, photo by Lisa Hubbard

This ginger-y, lemon-y cake = holiday goodness. (photo by Lisa Hubbard)

Things are moving into full swing around here now that it’s December:

* the Christmas cards are here and ready to be addressed.

* the tree is en route in the mail (yep, we order it for delivery to our home).

* the kids have been to see Santa at Macy’s (surprisingly manageable, really).

* the stockings and decorations, including Groovy Dancing Santa, have been unearthed from the depths of the storage space (thanks, babe!).

* I’m getting ready to make a personalized Santa video for the kids via PNP, Portable North Pole. We did this last year and it *blew* their minds. (It is very cool.)

* and the holiday bake-fest is on.

So far we’ve made:

* dark chocolate almond clusters with sea salt

* chocolate chip cookies with sea salt (both salty finds via This Homemade Life). Couldn’t decide which chips would be best to use, so I divided the batter into three batches and tried semi-sweet, milk, and butterscotch. After serious methodical sampling — hey, somebody had to do it — I have to say I liked the milk chocolate the best. The salt is a great foil for the sweeter chocolate.

* this super-awesome gingerbread cake with lemon curd and whipped cream. Made the house smell great! And the kids loved it. Via the December Bon Appetit.

Happy Holiday Prep, mamas!


Cutest Christmas Tree Skirts for 2011

7 Recipes for a Perfect Holiday Trifle

Cute Paperless Holiday E-Cards


Recipe of the Week: Homesick Texan Carnitas

Homesick Texan carnitas

Porky goodness.

So many things in Lisa Fain‘s new cookbook, The Homesick Texan, look good to me — and, of course, remind me of home — that I literally couldn’t decide what to make first. Then I saw Deb over at Smitten Kitchen tried out the carnitas, with great results, and I thought, OK, decision made.

Carnitas are basically tender-crispy bits of pork that you put into a corn tortilla, dress up with your favorite fixings, and eat as tacos. You braise the pork first in liquid — orange and lime juices, water, cumin, crushed garlic — and then sear to brown and crisp up all over once the liquid evaporates. It takes a good three hours start to finish and, I have to say, Chrissy and I thought the meat was absolutely delicious. Flavorful, perfect.

The recipe says to use pork shoulder or butt; we used shoulder. And the three pounds of meat was crowded in our medium-sized to large Le Creuset — so I’d suggest using the biggest damn dutch oven you’re got. Also: I’m not sure if it was in part because of the crowding, but not all of our liquid evaporated — we had to remove the excess ourselves. But it didn’t matter. We took out the remaining juice and let the meat brown nicely in the pot. Crispy, salty, addictive.

We made guac and piled on diced pickled jalapenos and cilantro, too. Yum, yum.

Carnitas, via The Homesick Texan (but as posted on Smitt-Kit — looks like Fain has adapted the recipe from her blog for her cookbook, so that’s what I’m linking to.)

For more Tex-Mex and other faves, scan the blog or buy the book.

Let me know what you think! (P.S. — The kids loved the meat, too, and there were plenty of leftovers.)

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




Currently Obsessed with…. the October, 2011 Issue of Food & Wine Magazine: New French Classics

food & wine october 2011

Can’t put down the French-food-focused October ish of Food & Wine. Melissa Clark’s Marseille-Style Shrimp Stew — with garlicky French rouille on toasts — is a major keeper. Absolutely delicious and full of flavors we don’t always cook with — orange zest, saffron, cloves.

Other temptations:

More recipes for eating the French way: smaller portions of better-tasting food (with wine, of course)

NYC chef April Bloomfield hits France: note the Lyon-Style Chicken with Vinegar Sauce, the Herbed Steamed Rice, and the Warm Bacon-and-Egg Salad

A fun culinary travel guide to Paris: Can we go back, please, and try all of these places?

Bon Appetit!


Other obsessions:

State Prints from One Canoe Two

Dining at Buvette

Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves





5 Kitchen Shortcuts for Faster Family Dinners

Yes, we love working new recipes into the weekly menu, but sometimes we just want to get dinner on the table IN A HURRY, with little or no thought. On nights when we’re feeling lazy or uninspired, we’re looking to streamline the food-making process with a no-brainer recipe or a tool to get prep work done faster. Here are a few things we turn to again and again to speed up the dinner train with minimal effort.


Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce from The Ginger People

sweet ginger chili sauce

Bottled sauces often suck, but this one doesn’t — and it packs TONS of flavor. Sweet and hot, it makes a perfect, ginger-y 30-minute marinade for salmon (I add a little soy sauce and lime juice, too, and think it would be equally delish with pork or poultry). If your kids are spice-freaks (lucky you!), let them enjoy it as well, but I think it’s probably too strong for most young palates. What I recommend instead is that you marinate yours and do the kids’ salmon fillets with EVOO and a little S & P; then arrange all on a lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes or until done to taste. The whole fam can “pretend to be hungry bears, arrrrrhhh!” — this enticement actually works with our kids — and eat salmon for dinner. Look for it at specialty foods stores; in Brooklyn, you can find it at Union Market.

Rotisserie Chicken (We’re partial to the antibiotic-free Rosa Mexicano version available from Fresh Direct)


Talk about a meal in a hurry. But don’t just think of a rotisserie chicken as a bird on a cutting board that you carve and serve with predictable sides — you can do so much more! Sped-up chicken, cheese, and spinach quesadillas, chicken tacos with chipotle cream, Thai chicken salad. It’s a dialed-in dinner we love.

Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Vinaigrette

lemon vinaigrette

As previously mentioned, bottled sauces and dressings are often lame, but you don’t always have time to whip up a homemade vinaigrette showcasing chopped shallots or a fancy Champagne vinegar. This is a minimalist version that anyone can love — but if lemon is your thing, as it is mine, you’ll really like it. We make it ALL THE TIME. All you need is olive oil, lemon juice, and S & P. (Ina Garten uses the dressing with her Parmesan Chicken over greens, which is also very good — scroll down when you hop to the link for the super-simple recipe.)

Large Kitchen Tongs

kitchen tongs

If you don’t have a 12-inch pair of locking tongs in your kitchen, you need to get one ASAP. Seriously. Once you have them, you’ll be amazed at how often you use them to speed up food prep: Snatch a piece of pasta from boiling water to test for done-ness, pick up sliced steak off the cutting board, grab chicken breasts from a baking sheet to plate them, use them to quickly toss a salad. They help you work faster and more efficiently. You’ll see.

Tony’s Flank Steak Marinade via Dinner: A Love Story

toasted sesame oil

As you know, we use Chrissy’s mom’s marinade for steak all the time — an old fave. But this new fave has taken hold in a big way — the secret ingredient, to my mind? Toasted sesame oil. It adds a real depth of flavor. Plus lots of chopped scallions and a dash of hot sauce. There’s tons of spice and flavor, but not too much for the kids — they gobble it up whether we use it on flank or skirt steak. And it’s such a staple, now, that I have the recipe pretty much down pat — though I do always consult Dinner: A Love Story just to make certain I’m not forgetting an ingredient. Simple, fast, always delicious.

What are your go-to kitchen shortcuts? C’mon, tell me!

Weekly Menu, April 3-9 Everything Old is New Again

I’m not sure what to say about the weather last week. When I wrote the menu, the forecast included some sunny, warm(ish) days, but by Friday, I was looking out a window at snow falling on Times Square.

Sigh, these poor shoes are locked in a box until it warms up.

Still, Spring is coming, and with it, TOUCH-A-TRUCK! Saturday, April 9th, 11 am-2 pm, 18th Street between 6th & 7th Avenues in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Twenty-two trucks confirmed, plus three fabulous food trucks: Frites ‘n’ Meats, Country Boys Tacos, The Treats Truck. Check out the link for more details and join us next Saturday.

As to the menu: I’m always looking for recipes I can designate “keepers” and add to our rotating repertoire. Back in the days B.C. (Before Children), that meant scouring cookbooks and magazines, and spending quality time in grocery stores looking for specialty ingredients. There were a few recipes that have survived that era, but mostly, they are gathering dust. The survivors are simple and delicious. I thought I’d make a week of them!

Weekly Menu:

Sunday: Salmon with Roasted Asparagus & Lemon-Caper Sauce from an old Bon Appétit; delicious. The salmon roasts on top of the asparagus and you make a great sauce to pour over it all after it cooks.  If you have a small food processor the sauce is a breeze (just make sure you make it close to serving or the red onions in the sauce will turn it pink).

The taste of spring! Photo by Muffet via Flickr

Monday: Thai Chicken Curry. We don’t follow a recipe for this any longer, but the link will take you to what was probably the inspiration. If you don’t own red curry paste and fish sauce, you should. Chopped chicken breast sautés with whatever you think is Thai-appropriate, pour in light coconut milk and add the curry paste (spicy to taste). Squeezed lime & basil chiffonade complete the dish. Serve over white rice; go crazy and spike the rice with chopped scallions and lime zest.

Tuesday: Flank Steak/skirt steak with Mom’s Marinade. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you KNOW this is a staple of our lives. Side of salad/green beans/broccoli/really whatever you’d like.

Wednesday: Pasta Puttanesca. I’m partial to this old Silver Palate recipe, which again, I’ve made so many times I don’t follow anymore. Super simple, full of my favorite flavors (olives! capers! hooray!). Cooks up in 20 minutes.

Thursday: Lidia’s Shrimp “Alla Buonavia. Lidia serves this as an appetizer, but it makes a wonderful main course. Shrimp, garlic, chives and olive oil, sautéed with lemon and white wine, all poured over crusty bread that has been rubbed with raw garlic. Oh, baby!

Friday: Last night before Touch-a-Truck!! It’s all about ordering out.

April 9th, 11-2 pm, 18th Street between 6&7 Aves

Saturday: Have no idea what we’ll be eating. I know someone else will prepare it. And I know dinner conversation will not revolve around the to-do list for Touch-a-Truck. The kids are heading to Connecticut (thanks Grammie & Grampie!) so Melisa and I can get some R&R.

Here’s to sunshine and warm weather, a day without downpours next Saturday. Come see us at Touch-a-Truck!

The Menu, March 27 – April 2 Focusing on Simple

I love doing the menu each week, and usually sit down on Saturday mornings to write it out. At the same time, I make a grocery list. We’re very fortunate to have both a world-class grocery store nearby (Fairway) and a great delivery service (Fresh Direct) to choose from; currently, we’re in delivery mode. It’s simple, it’s reasonable, and takes an errand out of our weekend lives.

This week’s menu is an homage to some of the simplest things to prepare during the week. My go-to recipes have only a few ingredients—things you have around the house, usually—and can be whipped up in about 40 minutes. I save chopping-intensive recipes, recipes with a long lists of ingredients or specialty ingredients, for Saturday and Sunday when I can carve out more time to cook (see Sunday: Halibut with Juniper Berries or one of my all-star recipes: Grilled Shrimp with Cilantro & Soba).

Just before we get to the menu for the this week, I wanted to go back to last week’s menu and recap some of the new recruits. The Lemongrass-Cilantro Grilled Chicken and Honey Dipping Sauce was a success. Definitely a weekend recipe, with the chopping involved, but great flavor. Dorie Greenspan’s Roast Chicken for Lazy People (Les Paresseux) caught me at a very lazy moment and got even more laissez-faire than Dorie probably intended. No, I didn’t stoop to rotisserie chicken (see this Wednesday) but I did take some short-cuts. And it was still delicious. Finally, the Thai Spareribs that have been calling me didn’t happen, as my spareribs were accidentally not delivered. Another day, perhaps.

Weekly Menu:

Sunday: Halibut Baked in Foil with Juniper Berries. This is a great Sunday supper. A bit of chopping, but the flavor of the celery, carrots and juniper berries, which cook in the foil with the fish, make it all worthwhile. And it’s Sunday! Worth doing something special.

Monday: One of our favorite, quick, throw-it-together meals is pastaany kindwith crispy bacon, spinach, Parmesan and salt and pepper. Enough spinach and you don’t even need a salad.

Tuesday: Rotisserie Chicken and Roasted Leeks. Rotisserie chicken is a working woman’s savior in the kitchen. The only work intensive thing about this is cleaning the leeks, made easier by cutting them into 2 inch pieces, slicing in half, and soaking in a bowl of water. A side of pilaf or a crusty slice of bread completes the plate.

Wednesday: Spinach, Mushroom and Pepper Jack Quesadillas. Add a ripe avocado and sliced up tomatoes on top.

Thursday: Chicken Piccata & a salad. Lemons, capers=sign me up.

Yum. Photo by Dennis Gottleib

Friday: Grilled Shrimp and Vegetables. The weather will be warmer on Friday, so back to the grill, and nothing is easier than a little lime as seasoning for the shrimp.

Saturday: Another warm (high 50’s) day: Burgers!

Here’s to a week of sunshine.

Weekly Menu, March 13 – 19 Bring on the Warm Weather

Last week my (very brief business) trip to Florida left me longing—even more than usual—for summer. Short sleeves, short skirts, dresses, bare feet, and most importantly: the beach the beach the beach. Sand between my toes, sun beating down, listening to waves pulling at the shore, star-lit nights. And temps above 70 degrees. Sigh. I’ll have to wait until school break in April to put my bare feet in the sand again.

So this week, the menu is all about hurrying to my favorite season.

It’s not that I don’t like spring. I’m thrilled that the perennial tulips I planted two years ago are coming up as promised for their second showing, and that the daffodils are filling in around the yard. Even the finicky French tulips seem to be making a play for a second year. I can’t wait to see the Japanese Magnolia bloom, and the almost fluorescent color of the new green leaves on the trees.

It’s just I’m impatient; I want what I want when I want it. And I want summer now.


Weekly Menu, the I Want Summer Edition

I’ve got charcoal for one grill and an extra tank of propane for the other, so we’re ready to go!

Sunday: Spice-Rubbed Chicken and Vegetable Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Cream, a summer fave.

Monday: Pasta with Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil. This is one we make over and over June-September. Sometimes we throw in bacon, sometimes goat cheese. Since it’s hardly corn & tomato season, tonight we’ll probably throw in both.

Tuesday: Grilled Steak, with Arugula & Shaved Parmesan

Wednesday: Black Bean and Feta Tacos with Slawcooks up in 10 minutes via Smit Kit

Thursday: Grilled Shrimp and Vegetables

Friday: Grilled Salmon with Chili Glaze and Salad

Saturday: Grilled Pizza with Fontina and Prosciutto

May all your days this week be warm (or warmer).

Better, yes?

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