Thursday, February 23, 2017

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Mom's leek and potato soup


I served leftovers for Valentine's Day.

I know what you're thinking. "You're a food blogger. Don't you cook fabulous food every day, take photos and reflect on each dish??

Uh, sadly no. (I wish!)

Here's how it unfolded: My dear sweet Valentine was sent home from work with a respiratory infection. It was day 16 of my own illness so I caved and called the doctor, ending up on antibiotics myself. And shortly after lunch, my 6-year old was sent home with a fever and ear infection. Best Valentine's Day ever? I think not.

So while I would have preferred to make pretty food - I originally planned for scallops - we were all licking our wounds and exhausted. So the pretty food will have to wait.

The leftovers were pretty darn good - chicken grand-mere which will make its appearance here soon. But today is a good day for soup. Rustic leek and potato soup using my mom's recipe. This one's chunky, not smooth. File it away for St. Patrick's Day (which will be WAY better than Valentine's for this Irish lassie!)


Mom's Leek and potato soup

This chunky leek and potato soup is perfect on a cold day. An Irish classic, it's perfect for St. Patrick's Day, too! Pair it with a corned beef sandwich and an ice cold Guinness!


    1/4 c. unsalted butter 2 lb. leeks, white portions only, trimmed, carefully washed and thinly sliced 6 c. chicken stock 2 lb. baking potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced salt and white pepper 1 c. cream or half and half
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 lb. leeks, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup cream or half ad half (or whole milk in a pinch)

Cooking Directions
  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté just until they begin to soften, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, February 13, 2017

My favorite spaghetti & meatballs

spaghetti-meatballs (2)

Cold season, we've had enough of you. Please send sunshine.

I've pretty much had a cold for 15 days. The taste of Tylenol cold medicine seems permanently lodges in my taste buds. The kids have had non-stop runny noses and now my husband is down and out. So it was time to pull out the only thing that would help: pure, unadulterated comfort food.

This spaghetti and meatballs is a household favorite. The kids love it; my husband swears it's the best he's ever had. And I love it because it means I make one meal instead of my usual gig as a short-order cook.

I might not be able to make cold season go away, but this dinner will warm you up for sure. My other go-to for an easy, family-pleasing dinner is my chicken cutlets with white wine and garlic. This one comes from mom and is a recipe I grew up on.

And by the way, if you try one of my recipes, leave a comment and let me know what you think. What did you change? Or feel free to ask questions and I'll reply.


Spaghetti & meatballs
Adapted from Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore

Classic comfort food, this is my all-time favorite spaghetti and meatballs. The tomato sauce is my version of Marcella Hazan's and has only 4 ingredients.The meatballs are the classic from Rao's, full of Parmesan cheese. I make a double batch and freeze some for easy dinners.

spaghetti-meatballs (1)
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 8 oz. ground veal
  • 8 oz. ground pork
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup good quality olive oil

  • Tomato sauce
  • 2 28-oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes in juice
  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Cooking Directions
  1. To make the meatballs, combine the beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Using your hands, blend the ingredients together. Mix the breadcrumbs into the meat mixture. Slowly add the water, a little at a time, until the mixture is quite moist.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, form meatballs that are about 2 inches in diameter and add them to the oil in batches. When the bottom half of each meatball is very brown and slightly crispy, turn them over and cook the other side. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. To make the sauce, put the tomatoes in a saucepan, breaking them up with your hands. Add the butter, onion and salt to taste. Cook at a low simmer for 45 minutes or more (until it reaches your desired thickness), stirring occasionally. Smash the tomatoes with a spoon as it cooks.
  4. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for another 30 minutes so that the flavors blend.
  5. Cook spaghetti according to directions on the package and toss with the sauce. You can discard the onion if you want, but it's actually really delicious. Top with the meatballs and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Kids in the kitchen: Oreo Truffles

oreo-truffles (2)


Cooking with kids has its pros and cons. Let's start with the cons: something will get spilled; it will be messy; it will take longer. And now the pros: you'll make memories that'll last a lifetime. The pros have it. (Sappy mommy moment.)

Meet my sous chefs. Chef Eclair is 6 and Chef Nutmeg is 4. Chef Nutmeg actually made her debut here last year, helping me make aioli for Grilled Chicken Banh Mi. They love to cook with me, eagerly pulling out step stools and donning aprons to mix, measure and taste. Inevitably, something ends up on the floor, I have twice the dishes to wash and it takes longer. But the pride on their faces when they taste what they've made is worth all of it.


Yesterday was a snow day for both of them, so early on we opted to keep PJs on all day. In between meetings, I carved out an hour to have lunch with them and make Oreo truffles. This recipe is perfect to make with kids. The steps are easy and the ingredients are kid-friendly. It doesn't take long, so they don't lose interest. And as soon as these are set, they can pop a couple in their mouths!

The kids help me with a lot of different recipes. I'll carve out pieces that are easy for them. Chef Eclair got a set of silicone knives for Christmas so she helps make salads and such. They like to help make Daddy's lunches too, happily piling fillings on his sandwiches. Regardless of what we're making, it's nice to have them by my side, instead of watching TV or playing on their tablets while I work in the kitchen. So go for it, get your kids in the kitchen with you!



3-ingredient Oreo Truffles

Easy 3-ingredient Oreo Truffles are a great recipe to make with kids.

  • 18 Oreo cookies
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz. chocolate chips, bittersweet, milk or a combination of the two
  • Colored chocolate or sprinkles, to decorate (optional)

Cooking Directions
  1. Put the Oreos in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until completely crushed.
  2. In a bowl, combine the Oreo crumbs and cream cheese until completely blended.
  3. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  4. While the balls are in the freezer, melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler.
  5. Dip the balls in the chocolate to cover completely then place back on the parchment paper. If you want to decorate them, melt some colored chocolate in a dish and use a small spoon to drizzle it over the top. IF it's too thick, stir in a teaspoon of shortening to thin it out. Alternatively, let the chocolate harden slightly, then roll them in colored sprinkles.
  6. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store in the refrigerator.
oreo-truffles (1)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Weeknight shrimp risotto with arugula and lemon cream


Yup, I said weeknight risotto. If I can do it, so can you! Think about it: one pot, 30 minutes, a handful of ingredients. Easy peasy! Add cut up shrimp to a basic risotto, then stir in some arugula and top with a little lemon cream.

This would also make a good Friday dinner in Lent which is just around the corner.

Shrimp risotto with arugula and lemon cream
Adapted from Good Food, Good Life by Curtis Stone

An upscale one-pot dinner, this shrimp risotto

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp (16 to 20 per pound) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup loosely packed baby arugula
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
  • Freshly grated black pepper

Cooking Directions
  1. Warm your chicken stock in a small pan or in the microwave.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the onion and garlic and saute for about 2-3 minutes of until soft, but not browned. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for 1 minute, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Add 1 cup of the stock to the rice and allow to simmer, stirring frequently. Continue to add the liquid, 1 cup at a time, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is creamy but still al dente, about 18 minutes.
  4. Stir in the shrimp and allow to cook for about 3 minutes or until the shrimp is opaque throughout. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and Parmesan. Stir in the arugula and lemon juice and season to taste to with salt.
  5. Whisk the heavy cream in a small bowl with the lemon zest until thickened. Divide the risotto among 2 large bowls and top with a dollop of the cream. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper over the top and serve.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Pad kee mao (drunken noodles)


Happy Friday people! It's been a long week over here, but my injured little one got a new cast on her leg and can now move her knee - and more importantly, itch the spot behind her knee. Even better, it's date night. Dinner at a new restaurant with my husband!

Tomorrow night I'm tackling Jamie Oliver's duck confit and lentils, but mid-week meals require speed and simplicity which is why I LOVE this Thai recipe. The ingredients can be a little tricky. Fresh rice noodles require a trip to the Asian market. In summer, I grow my own Thai basil, but in February, that too comes from the market. The hardest thing to find in this one is the sweet soy sauce, also known as kecap manis, a sweet and salty thick sauce. I found it at my Asian market, but there's a recipe over at Fuss Free Cooking if you need to DIY. (Local friends, just leave a comment and I'll bring you some from my gigantic bottle).

I've adapted this one to make it kid friendly. In other words, I leave out the delicious chilies in the original. Instead, hubby and I douse it with some sriracha. It's worth the alteration - the kiddoes like the noodles and pork which means 1 pan, 1 dinner and 4 full bellies. Happy mommy!

Pad kee mao (drunken noodles)
Adapted from New York Times Cooking

Typical drunken noodles are spicy, but I leave out the chilies so my kids can enjoy this too. This pad kee mao recipe takes minutes to make and taste like authentic Thai - you can make it in less time than it takes you to order take-out!

Yield: 4 servings


  • 4 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. dark sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 medium red or orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 12 ounces fresh rice noodles
  • 2 handfuls Thai or holy basil leaves

Cooking Directions
  1. Whisk together the fish sauce, soy sauce and vinegar, and set aside.
  2. Put a wok (or a large frying pan) over medium-high heat; when it’s hot, add the oil, the garlic, and the onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pork and a splash of the sauce. Cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the peppers and noodles. Turn the heat to high, and add almost all of the sauce (save a spoonful or two to add later if needed). Cook, tossing everything together and separating the noodles if necessary, until the noodles are coated in sauce and take on a slightly charred flavor from the wok. Taste, and add more sauce if needed. Toss in the basil, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Braised red cabbage with bacon


As a good Polish girl, Polish food makes a regular appearance in my house. Easter breakfast is always traditional Polish with babka and kielbasa as important as the Easter eggs. My husband works in Linden, NJ, which is home to large Polish population and lots of fabulous Polish markets, so he brings home delicious homemade Kielbasa. Typically I serve it with potato cheese pierogies from my local farmer's market and sauerkraut. But my CSA taught me to find new ways to use cabbage and I found this recipe. It's soooo much better than sauerkraut and a great way to use cabbage and leftover bacon.

Braised red cabbage with bacon
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Pair this colorful braised cabbage side dish with grilled kielbasa and sauerkraut or grilled or smoked pork chops for an easy weeknight meal. And it reheats well so you can make it ahead.

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1/2 medium head red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Cooking Directions
  1. Rinse the sliced cabbage in cold water and drain in a colander. Do not dry.
  2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels, reserving fat in the pan.
  3. Add butter to pan. When foam has subsided, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add cabbage, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and braise for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  5. To serve, sprinkle with reserved bacon and parsley, if desired.
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