WE HAD COMPANY OVER CHRISTMAS, including a 3-year old guest from Amsterdam. Phoebe was thrilled to have another “big girl” around but as you may know (and be reminded daily), it’s not easy to guess what will go over at this age. But when in doubt, I say go for comfort food. This recipe is based on Turkey Meatloaf by Ina Garten, naturally. [Read more...]
IN TIME TO GIVE IT A TEST RUN, we’re considering this salmon-vegetable chowder from The Food Network magazine for Christmas Eve dinner. It’s packed with veggies and just enough seafood to qualify for the Feast of Seven Fishes, a catholic tradition sometimes observed here in Italy. It’s a nod to the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat before a day of worship. It was good! But not that festive so our second choice, the one I think we’ll actually go with, is pasta. Of course. We’ll try Mario Batali’s Fettuccine with Lobster, Tomatoes and Saffron though I’m sure we’ll substitute shrimp. It’s less expensive and equally important, one of Phoebe’s favorites. [Read more...]
A GREAT IDEA FROM A GREAT BLOG. I’ll take it! This better-for-you mac & cheese recipe comes from Melissa Clark’s book, “Cook This Now”, by way of the best gardening blog around, A Way to Garden. An excerpt from Margret’s masterful gardening site introduces one of my favorite makeover ideas for comfort food:
MELISSA CLARK IS ONE OF US. The prolific cookbook author and “The New York Times” food columnist has a homegrown Dahlia (her young daughter); knows a rutabaga from a turnip (so many people don’t!), and is intrepid in harvesting year-round farm-and-garden gleanings—if not in her own backyard, then in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza Farmers’ Market, where she has been a year-round customer for years, come hell or ice age. With her latest, “Cook This Now,” the hard part will be figuring out which of 120 recipes to start with. Win one of two copies I’ve bought to share—and get her recipe for Carroty Mac and Cheese right now.
(NOTE: THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED.)
YES, MILLET. THIS GOOD-FOR-YOU GRAIN is not only a source of protein but also heart-healthy magnesium and niacin. Plus it and adds a mega-dose of fiber to unsuspecting muffins like these. A regular food source in Ethiopia, it’s uncommon in the US (except for bird seed!) and usually found in health food stores. We love millet in these banana muffins because the tiny beads add the slightest bit of crunch to every tasty bite. [Read more...]
IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR. Once the tree goes up, the Christmas cookies come out and most of us, my pregnant self included, aren’t kidding around when it comes to enjoying the festivities! But if you want to avoid a sugar-induced meltdown (or two, or seven…) for the smaller members of the household here are five easy tricks that work every time.
- Just cut the sugar. You can usually get away with using almost half as much sugar as any recipe calls for. Granted the dish will taste less sweet, but most of the time you won’t notice and your kids won’t either. Start slowly and experiment. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of sugar, simply omit that last 1/2 cup. [Read more...]
THESE MUFFINS STARTED OUT AS Pumpkin Bars from Paula Deen. In their second life they became a healthier version of pumpkin mini-muffins. Now they’re carrot muffins. And they’re delicious. Canned pumpkin is virtually non-existent in Rome and I’m not sure which Italian variety of zucca would work well enough to go through the cooking and pureeing process–only to discover that it wasn’t the right squash. But if there’s one thing we have a lot of in this house, it’s baby food. So Phoebe and I whipped up extra carrots one afternoon, divvying up the results between that night’s dinner, Estelle’s future food and puree for our newest muffin recipe. [Read more...]
HEADING OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH the traffic? If you’re flying, driving or otherwise slugging your way through the crowds to be with loved ones this year, you’ll need sustenance along the way (and maybe booze, but that’s a different blog). Since we live overseas, this post will be geared toward plane travel but it all works for for car trips too. The point is, it’s a long way and the last thing you want to worry about is who’s hungry, and whether it’s worth buying a $6 bag of chips in the air. (Probably, sigh.)
It’s a 15 hour trip from Rome to Orlando, where my in-laws live and much further to my family’s home outside of Seattle. That doesn’t include getting to and from airports, checking in, or retrieving luggage. Having done this a few times, here is my first tip. Bring a pretty big selection of snacks and meal items. Little kids are very distracted in new settings, especially under tiring circumstances. Tried and true favorites may crash and burn while new things suddenly become appealing. You won’t know until the mood strikes, unfortunately it’s not your mood so that makes things harder. [Read more...]
IF SOMEONE COOKS FOOD in your house, this list is for you! Based on years of collecting, experimenting, ditching, investing and trying new stuff again, these are my must-have, best-of kitchen essentials. Most aren’t cheap but they’re excellent tools and literally guaranteed to last a lifetime. That’s my kind of investment.
All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware
10 piece set $1450, BUT DON’T STOP READING YET >> On sale for $949 at Williams-Sonoma now
I’ve had lots of cheap pans. From them I’ve scraped food, burned food, unevenly cooked food and sometimes the highly toxic non-stick coating itself. I’ve also thrown away lots of cheap pans. Now I’m done. Before we got married and moved overseas, my then boyfriend, now husband, bought me a set of All-Clad cookware for my birthday. An anti-clutter bug, I think he secretly hoped I would winnow my supply of junky pots and pans down to a few good things. And, done.
UNLESS YOU’RE A TODDLER, roasted zucchini is one of the most delicious ways to eat this ubiquitous squash. (If you’re a toddler, you will likely only try a bite because you’ve been promised a sticker and even then will probably spit it out. A sticker can only get you so far…) But if you’re a baby–or an adult–you’re in for a treat. So is the cook because the whole thing is so simple. [Read more...]
WELL, I REALLY MESSED THIS ONE UP. Let’s just say feeding the toddler two pieces of peanut butter toast 90 minutes before dinner wasn’t a recipe for success. Even when said dinner involved pasta and barbecue sauce, two things she holds dear. It’s a shame though because this was so good! We’ll try again another time and do our best not to sabotage the whole thing. On that note, I’ve got a new idea. My goal is to limit the after-nap snack to fruit. It’s light, healthy and only filling for the moment. I’m pretty sure this won’t fly but we’ll see. Maybe I can get away with yogurt… I don’t know. Anyway, back to the noodles. [Read more...]
WINTER FRUIT FOR BABIES isn’t always easy to come by, especially if you’re looking for seasonal or local produce. Pears yes, bananas no (unless you’re enjoying Christmas in the tropics and if you are, we’d like to join immediately). Apples yes, oranges no (unless your baby is over a year or so, according to pediatricians’ advice). So we recently set our sights on a bunch of fresh plums. At least in Italy, they’re still fresh. [Read more...]
IT’S HERE, THAT SPECIAL TIME OF YEAR when kids start asking for everything and the only thing that makes it tolerable is your ability to threaten them with Santa’s List. Ah, Christmas.
Actually ours are still too little to have gimme fever–just wait until next year–but I’ve still got lots of great ideas to foster our ongoing hopes for kids who eat, or are at least familiar with, real food. With special points for wooden, BPA-free and overall high quality materials we’ve (okay, I’ve) put together this collection of great gifts for kids ages 0 to 8. These are the best itty-bitty-foodie gifts of the year.
Direct shopping links to all products listed below…
The Salmon Loaf Standoff of 1983 was the most heated food-related battle ever to take place on Mars avenue, rivaled only by the Mint Brownie Massacre of the same era, which pitted my father’s appetite for sweets against my mother’s inability to understand that one person could be both willing and able to eat that much green icing. She won the moral victory, but he took the spoils.
Ours was more a war of attrition. [Read more...]
NOTHING IS EASIER. Except maybe frozen peas, but let’s get back to the beets. Since we’ve got both a baby and a toddler here, one who is very into “cake”, these beets are doing double duty. At 9 months, Estelle eats them, mixed with whole wheat baby cereal but we’ve also thrown these beets into our most recent baking foray: brownies. [Read more...]