March 26th, 2015
There’s a lot going on. I can’t wait to share details but, for now, lets just say that I’m busy. Very busy. And lets also say that winter has been hard on my waistline. That’s right: I’m saying it because it’s true.
With spring finally here (kind of, sort of), I’m making some changes. I need to run more, which is to say that I need to run, period. And I’m swapping hearty stews and—oh, lets be honest—desserts for light, healthy meals. Oh, and remember that busy part? These light, healthy meals have to be quick and easy to make, like this Slow Cooker Chicken Ropa Vieja.
We’re going to be eating this a lot over the next few months. No one’s complaining.
March 20th, 2015
I’m staring out my window, watching the very first flakes of snow fall on what must—absolutely must—be the last snow storm of the season. Instead of freaking out, I’ve decided to focus on the fact that it’s the first day of spring. So, here I am, staring out my window, watching the first day of spring 2015 unravel while dreaming of this quirky, totally delicious spring salad. Piled high with shrimp, peanuts, and pineapple and tossed with my new favorite Avocado Tarragon Dressing, it’s a bright taste of the warmth and sunshine to come… soon.
March 10th, 2015
It’s no secret that I keep a package of all-natural, ready-made crescent roll dough in the back of my fridge as back up. Using it is far from an everyday thing—I call on it a couple of times a year to make these half-homemade Strawberry and Cream Breakfast Rolls and these Ham and Cheese Crescent Rolls for school lunch—but when I crave that pop-n-fresh taste and am short on time, it’s the perfect solution. Well, at least if it’s dough from Immaculate Bakery. The ingredients list is not perfect and far from homemade, but it’s natural and that matters.
Not to belabor the point, but I’m going to belabor the point… If you can’t find Immaculate Bakery, I really do encourage you to find another all-natural brand (and if you find one, share it with us!). Most conventional brands are packed with crazy ingredients that are not worth it. If you can’t find all-natural crescent roll dough, make my ham and cheese muffins instead.
Okay, now back to business.
March 5th, 2015
You know when a recipe is good? When it’s delicious, fast, and endlessly adaptable, like this Skinny Alfredo Sauce. Adaptable may not have been on your list of recipe virtues, but here are a couple of important reasons why it should be.
First, learning how to make one easily adapted dinner recipe actually means learning how to make several of them. Following a fast recipe is a time-saver, but knowing it like the back of your hand and being able to bang it out without thought or much effort takes things to another level. And relieves stress. We like things that relieve stress.
Another reason that I love adaptable recipes is because you can keep the ingredients for it on hand with a higher likelihood that you’ll actually use them. So lets say that you buy the broth, milk, cheese and pasta to make Skinny Fettucini Alfredo, but end up deciding that you don’t feel like eating that. No problem! Add a bunch of frozen veggies for creamy pasta primavera or steam some chicken, red pepper and onion with cajun spices and make this Skinny Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta.
Dinner—and your ingredients—saved without waste or take out. It’s a beautiful thing.
March 3rd, 2015
I don’t know if you’ve noticed that I haven’t been posting many pasta recipes lately. See, I have this problem. It’s a pasta problem: Once I start eating it, I cannot stop—especially if it’s tossed in a rich tomato sauce or creamy sauce with cheese. So, even though my family loves pasta—like loves it—they have been suffering from not-enough-pasta syndrome.
I got complaints. Saw signs of withdrawal. And have even watched them wolf down an excess of pasta while at restaurants where, finally, it was available to them. I was depriving them and, honestly, myself, and have decided that it’s time to deal with my pasta problem.
You probably thinks that means I’m ready to work on some willpower. Well, you’re wrong. At least that’s not my immediate plan. Right now, I’ve decided to think of ways to lighten up my favorite classic pastas like this “skinny” Fettucini Alfredo.
Someone on my One Hungry Mama YouTube channel asked me to share more pasta recipes (doh!) and it was the perfect time to come clean about my problem and share this recipe. Because if I can help just one other person who has a pasta problem too, it’s all worth it.
February 27th, 2015
Most people get excited about their slow cooker as soon as the weather gets cold. They turn to it when they’re excited to start making winter stews and warming soups. Me? I direct my initial excitement for cozy winter food at the stove, braises on the fire and baked casseroles in the oven. The slow cooker comes out in my house around mid-January, when I’ve had it with winter and tire of tending to slow cooked meals. My cue is when I start dreaming of bright green salads, fresh produce, and vibrant flavors.
That’s when I let the slow cooker do the dirty work of churning out the final weeks of hearty winter dinners including this Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin.
February 24th, 2015
Sometimes I just need sunshine. The kind of bright and supple sunshine that I love most has been hard to come by these days. The light here in Brooklyn is blinding and brittle, like it might crack and crumble onto the broken ice and leftover mounds of snow. So I decided to make my own sunshine.
I’m tired of consoling myself with warm baked goods and deep, dark chocolate comforts. I don’t want to sip on hot, cozy drinks. Though it may not be done with me, I’m done with winter. I’m ready to taste the sunshine.
Isn’t winter citrus such a gift? It makes it possible to do that, to taste sunshine. It’s in there, all tangled with sour and sweet, and this lemon pudding makes the most of it.
February 17th, 2015
I don’t think that there’s anything more I can say about meatballs. Over the years, I’ve covered all the reasons why I believe they are the ultimate family food. They are easy to make! You can make them in big batches and freeze them! Kids love meatballs! Grown-ups do, too! They’re versatile! You can make Turkey Meatballs, Thai Chicken Meatballs, Indian Spiced Meatballs, Greek Meatballs and, now, these BBQ Chicken Meatballs. You can throw them in a hearty Meatball and White Bean Escarole Soup! You can pack them for school lunch! They make an awesome early finger food!
You get the point.
These super easy BBQ Chicken Meatballs are the latest addition to my meatball recipe collection. The mixture, which is nothing more than ground chicken, breadcrumbs, eggs, spices, and (yum) cheddar cheese, comes together in a a single bowl. Then roll, pan fry, sauce, and serve. It’s so easy that I was able to make them for you in this short 3 minute video. And, honestly, there’s very little that isn’t captured in real time—just a little cooking.
February 12th, 2015
Valentine’s Day isn’t what it used to be before kids. But it is full of love—more than I’ve ever known and that’s good enough for me. So, these days, instead of expecting to be taken out to a romantic dinner, I cook. Slowly. So that I can feel the love. The love that I put into my family’s meals and the love that drives me to feed them. Because food is love and the best way to my boys’ hearts is through their stomachs. That’s the truth.
I hope that no matter where you are, who you are with, or what your family and life look like, you feel the love this Valentine’s Day. And if you want to cook to express that love, here are a some recipes for every meal of the day that will hit the spot like Cupid’s arrow.
February 10th, 2015
You know that great feeling when things come together in unexpected ways that are even better than the ways you expected? Well, I get that feeling times ten when it happens with a recipe like it did with this one for Raspberry Pancake Muffins.
It all started with an attempt to come up with more healthy, on-the-go breakfast recipes like these Baked Oatmeal Bites to add to my breakfast meal plan. I often make a double batch of pancakes so that I have leftovers for the freezer, but doing this on the griddle the old fashioned way is something I can only manage on the weekends. But what if I baked the pancake batter in mini-muffin trays instead?
I wasn’t sure that it would work (it totally did!), but thought that it might turn pancake-making into something that I could do anytime (it totally does!). No standing to attention at the stove or working batch after batch. Instead, just throw the batter in a muffin pan, bake, and be done. I couldn’t have been happier with the results.
Or so I thought.
February 4th, 2015
I know. The big game is over and I’m posting a recipe for stuffed potato skins. I know! But who says that potato skins have to be about watching football? I mean, I never really watch football and, yet, I love potato skins. As it turns out, so do my boys. So why should I have to make them only during football season? Sure, the Super Bowl was my inspiration for these, but the recipe is going to feed us all year long because what’s the difference between this and a big bowl of chili over rice with the fixings? Nothing. Plus—hold on to your hats—potatoes are nutritious.
So, yea, stuffed potato skins are our new jam. For dinner. Any night of the week.
January 29th, 2015
So, I have a love-hate relationship with my slow cooker. The love part is that it cooks for me. I mean, c’mon: that’s pretty awesome. The hate part is that it’s hard to find great slow cooker recipes. Having developed a few over the years, I know they can be tricky. It’s all too easy to end up with a soupy mess, anemic meat, or greasy slop.
Okay, I’m being a little dramatic with greasy slop, but you know what I mean, right? That slick of fat from meat that’s been cooked for hours. Not cute.
When I started working with clients, one of the challenges that I posed to myself was to find a great resource for slow cooker recipes. I thought that maybe I just hadn’t looked hard enough and being proactive would make the difference. I thought wrong. The challenge proved to be harder than expected. Until now.
Once again, the folks at America’s Test Kitchen have provided us with a go-to cookbook packed with tons of easy, family-friendly recipes. Their new book, Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution, has helped me churn out 3 easy, delicious meals in the last 2 weeks: Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin (recipe coming soon), Cuban White Bean and Plantain stew (a hearty, meatless stew that was a hit with all of my boys) and, my favorite, this Sweet and Tangy Pulled Chicken.
January 27th, 2015
It’s a little late to be talking resolutions, I know, but I’m just settling into 2015. What can I say: Sometimes I move slowly. This year I’ve decided to replace blockbuster proclamations about how I shall live life more healthfully, fearlessly, intentionally, and other-ly ways with small, manageable changes. I don’t need 2015 to be a year of big leaps. Instead, I’m happy to take my time with measured steps in directions I feel good about. One of the small changes I plan to make this year is to reduce the amount of refined sugar in my family’s diet.
Remember: This isn’t a blockbuster affair. I’m not eliminating sugar. I’m not motivated by a belief that sugar is poison (it very well may be, but that’s not what this is about for me). I’m just ready to do better. I know that refined sugar is in everything, not just sweets. It’s in our sandwich bread and ketchup, it’s in the daily vitamins my kids take and in the store-bought granola bars I pack when I don’t have time to make my own (which is a lot these days). With refined sugar hiding in so much of our food, I figure that I should do everything that I can to reduce it at home, especially at snack time.
I recently made this raw, Vegan Salted Caramel Dip and was surprised at how much the kids loved it. There’s video proof! I loved it, too, but because I’m not vegan and my taste buds have very recently enjoyed sugar and dairy fat, the two primary ingredients in conventional caramel sauce, I cannot say that this tastes like real caramel. It just doesn’t to me. That said, it is reminiscent of caramel and totally delicious. Seriously: lick the spoon until every drop is gone delicious. Even if you’re not vegan, this stuff is worth making to top on ice cream—d’oh!—I mean, serve with apple slices or swirled into yogurt.
January 20th, 2015
It’s been 10 months since I decided to take control of breakfast in my house, limiting cereal to three days a week and making a weekly breakfast meal plan that includes easy breakfasts that can keep the boys sated until snack time. What normally comes next is the story of how I’ve fallen off, but plan to get back to it for the new year. Well, guess what? Other than a few toast-heavy weeks, we have been going strong all 10 months, even adding new recipes along the way: smoothie bowls, the Berry Green Protein Smoothie, Pumpkin Yogurt Parfaits, and now these on-the-go Baked Oatmeal Bites.
These perfectly portioned bites are a revelation. Dump all the ingredients into a bowl, stir, bake, and store. I’ve decided that these have to be in my freezer at all times, so I always make a double batch. A handful go into the fridge for the week, the rest go into the freezer for breakfasts through the month and the occasional school lunch. They’re tasty enough to make an after-school snack, too, and are a wonderful early finger food.
January 13th, 2015
I know this woman. Her name is Rebecca and she is kind, funny, and generous. Like invite-you-to-her-house-the-first-time-she-meets-you generous.
Then there’s me. I’m a pretty open person. Like take-you-up-on-your-invitation-to-spend-the-weekend-at-your-house-the-first-time-I-meet-you kind of open. What can I say: I’m always up for getting to know new, kind, funny, generous people.
I loved Rebecca the first minute I met her and my family and I really did spend a weekend at her house. It was the second time that we met. We had the best time and I learned that, among all of the other wonderful qualities Rebecca possesses, she’s an mind-blowingly great hostess. Her home is cozy and inviting, her family is just as great as she is, and her cooking is superb. So it’s no surprise that Rebecca’s second cookbook, The Ultimate Blender Cookbook, is superb, too.
Before you go assuming that a blender cookbook must be filled with only soups and smoothies and can’t possibly be for you and your family, allow me to stop you and explain what this book really is.
It really is inventive, practical, and full of delicious food of the caliber that I was lucky enough to enjoy in Rebecca’s own home.
It really is a resource for easy family recipes that anyone can cook.
It really is a revelation.
People: we’re talking about a book packed with super tasty, healthy family recipes that come together in one easy-to-clean kitchen tool that works by flicking a switch and dialing a knob. I am not using the word “easy” lightly here. This is a must-have family cookbook.