Crank it Up

June 15th, 2011 · 14 Comments · Dinner, Sides, Salads, Soup

I have no problem cranking the oven to 425° in June if the dinner I’m cooking for the kids elicits a cheer. A cheer. Literally.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

Bake Idaho potatoes in a 425°F oven for an hour. (We estimate 1 1/2 potatoes per grown-up; 1 per kid) Meanwhile, chop scallions and fry bacon. (We estimate about 2 slices bacon per person or about 4 per Abby.) When potatoes are finished, slice in half horizontally, scoop out the insides into a mixing bowl being careful not to tear skins. Mix potatoes with a whisk, adding salt, black or white pepper, warmed milk or cream (or anything in between) until you reach desired mashed-potato-like consistency. Restuff potato skins with mash-up and top with slices of sharp cheddar. Place restuffed potatoes on a cookie sheet and broil for another minute or two until cheese has melted. Top with scallions, bacon, sour cream.

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Cure for the Common Thursday

October 7th, 2010 · 13 Comments · Dinner, Organizing, Strategizing, Planning, Quick, Vegetarian

Do you guys suffer from Thursday Syndrome like I do? Symptoms include dry refrigerator, a shriveled vegetable supply, and feelings of guilt-fueled resistance to ordering in or going out. (That’s what Friday is for, you weakling!) Lucky for all of us there is a cure, and it involves a combination of the six magical grocery items below, all of which you have in your pantry already since I told you to shop for them a few days ago. (Right?)

1. Whole Wheat Pasta
2. Quinoa
3. Frozen Spinach
4. Canned or Frozen Artichokes
5. Eggs
6. Onions

I find if I have nothing else but these long-lasting pantry friends in the kitchen (plus a few basics like olive oil, soy sauce, and Parm) I can almost always churn out a fast, healthy meal that will bridge me to the weekend. Here are five of those meals below. Please feel free to recommend any combinations I’m forgetting. I can always use more meds…I mean ideas. (more…)

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Fried Fish with Ramps

April 28th, 2010 · 3 Comments · Dinner, Seafood

I laid down a few rules for myself before I started this website. No using that word that starts with “food” and ends in “i-e.” No going into detail about things like the interplay between quince paste and aged gouda. No fetishizing. No buying into the whole two-week ramp frenzy that takes over farmers markets and f–dies this time of year. (Aren’t there more important things to get excited about, like, for instance my daughter’s 15-second solo in the 2nd Grade Songfest last week? I’m sorry. I’m sorry. No bragging should probably also be a rule. I’m sorry! I’m sorry!)

But the thing is, I do happen to love those wild, earthy, oniony ramps — mostly because, like daffodils and magnolia trees, they are one of those first fleeting signifiers of spring. And probably also because I don’t actually have to personally partake in the frenzy. The frenzy — how’s this for lucky? — comes to me! Every year, my friend Yolanda (that’s her kick-ass family travel blog, Travels with Clara, over there in my blogroll) shows up on my doorstep or in my office carrying a bouquet of them like a prom date with a corsage. This year, she met me on a busy corner of Soho just to hand me my share of the ramp bounty that is her Catskills backyard. So what am I supposed to do…not get excited? I didn’t. Honest. I just sauteed the things in olive oil, fried some fish, and played it cool.

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As Promised…Simple Family Dinner

April 26th, 2010 · 10 Comments · Dinner, Rituals

Ok, so you haven’t forgotten about this week’s family dinner, have you? Since you are following my every word, you remembered to pick a night this week when everyone was home, right? And since I am following your every word, I know that you want something easy. Like under 20 minutes easy. Here we go. Let me know how you do.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook 1 pound of orecchiette (or other small pasta) according to package directions. Drain and reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, while the pasta cooks, heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Cook a 1/2 pound of sweet pork sausage (about two links or approximately the amount pictured above) whose casings have been removed. Break up the meat. After meat has lost its pink color, add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar, and a handful of something green such as frozen peas or chopped broccoli florets (or broccolini) and cook about 7 to 10 minutes.

Transfer sausage mixture to a bowl; add the pasta, a little butter, reserved pasta water, and 1/3 cup grated Parmesan. Add salt & pepper. Toss to combine.

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Easter Egg Cobb Salad

April 5th, 2010 · No Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Deconstructing Dinner, Dinner, Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup

I am ashamed to say that it has never been hard for me to throw away my childrens’ artwork. Not all of it, of course. My general rule is that it must be either a) truly technically astounding or b) depict a family member. Everything else: into the recycling bin. (Poor Abby is still recoveirng from seeing her rattlesnake watercolor being heaved into a truck by a mustachioed sanitation worker.) But I must admit, it’s pure joy being able to sacrifice an artfully decorated Easter egg at the altar of dinner. This motley dozen (do take note of the Michael-Jackson themed “Beat it” one) was the inspiration for a family favorite: Cobb Salad. The recipe is sort of Stone-Soupish — a hard-boiled egg is a nice starting point, but with bacon to fry and greens to wash and chop, it is indeed only a starting point — but it’s one of those recipes that seems to work no matter what you have in the fridge. Deconstruct it for happier results with the kids, and eliminate all evidence of egg shells down the garbage disposal. Click to the jump for the recipe.

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