THIS DISH SAVED THE SLOW COOKER from sudden death by way of donation or yard sale, whichever came first. I finally found a good recipe for the slow cooker. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s pulled pork. Thanks for the idea, North Carolina. [Read more...]
A BOWL OF PASTA DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN TOMATO SAUCE. One of the easiest ideas I’ve learned from the Italians is to substitute traditional red sauce with something much simpler: extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Dinner’s on the table in 20 minutes, and it’s a really good one.
MY BIG INDULGENCE IN ITALY, other than one trip to the Gucci outlet and one million bowls of gelato (which was probably more expensive in the long run!), has been an international subscription to the Food Network magazine. I’ve definitely learned a lot from Italians when it comes to food, family and the combination of both. But its such a treat to see what’s cooking back in the States–especially when it’s not pasta! So, when Ina Garten’s version of this frittata graced the cover recently, I had to recreate one of my own…with updates to make it easier and yes, a bit more Italian. [Read more...]
We’re on “vacation” this week, on the southern coast of Italy. It’s our first trip with all three rascals so I’m out of the kitchen. So far, I’d say everything is gorgeous and exhausting, sometimes both at once. Meanwhile, I saved up a couple of fresh ideas to post while we’re gone. Be back soon…trust me, I’m not sure I have the stamina to do this for longer than a week!
SOME KIDS JUST DON’T LIKE VEGGIES EXCEPT…peas. If this sounds familiar, this idea’s for you. Try an updated (meaning simple yet satisfying) version of stroganoff. This 5-ingredient dish will be done in 20 minutes but that’s not the best part. Between the tangy, buttery flavor of sour cream and the world’s most kid-friendly veggie, it’s bound to be as big of a hit at your place as it was here. [Read more...]
IT’S BEEN OVER 90 DEGREES EVERY DAY in Rome for weeks. This is a normal summer in Italy but that doesn’t mean we’re not melting! Particularly those of us from the Pacific Northwest where it simply doesn’t do this. Ever. My Floridian husband, however, is soaking up the sun, humidity and all the heat for all he’s worth. To this I say, meh. Which brings us to dinner on a hot summer night: antipasto. This one is a no-cook no-brainer. One the kids love. [Read more...]
IT DOESN’T GET ANY EASIER. And in my condition (
insane 36 weeks pregnant with number 3), there’s nothing better. Using leftover pork roast, plus a little cheddar cheese, I diced my way to a simple dinner for four.
DON’T ADJUST YOUR COMPUTER SETTINGS. This pasta is indeed a bit green. That’s because it’s got built-in veggies (spinach and zucchini) and the even more exciting news is this: our kids love it. [Read more...]
BARBARA KINGSOLVER, in the gorgeous memoir, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle“, says her family eats pizza every Friday. Homemade pizza (her husband whips up the dough), and while toppings always vary, never having to think about “What’s for dinner?” just simplifies their week. I think it’s brilliant.
GRATE EVERYTHING, I say. That’s my philosophy for “Taco Night”, which has actually become quesadilla night–the one that’s easier to eat and less likely to fall on the floor wins in my house. And since our ethnic food offerings are spare in Rome, to say the least, these flour tortillas are much easier to find than crispy shells. Another thing I love about a Mexican meal is how easy it is to slide in a few veggies without anyone ever being the wiser. That’s where the grater comes in. [Read more...]
THIS IS A CLASSIC ITALIAN MEAL, so naturally I’d never heard of it. That was before I moved to Rome and discovered that Italian food is more than pasta, tomatoes and cheese. (But they do that very well.) One of my favorite summer meals has turned out to be a version of the Big Salad I ate on a daily basis in NYC. Atop fresh and peppery arugula, comes fast-cooked strips of thin beef and shaved parmigiano cheese. If you’re lucky there’s also a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. It’s the perfect mix of hot and cold, crisp and tender, sweet and salty. Mmm. [Read more...]
I WAS EXHAUSTED. It turns out that having a toddler and a baby (plus a husband, house and job) is tiring. I just needed a quick dinner but it had to be healthy. We’d been relying too heavily on pizza around here, being Rome you can imagine how often this possibility comes up, and I was craving something more fresh. That’s when I saw these giant shrimp at the store. Sold!
WE’VE HAD A BREAKTHROUGH in the potato department. Never a fan of them, Phoebe actually said, “I ont aunt tatoes” when I was trying to play up tonight’s dinner—a tough task considering that we were swimming (aka, the most fun activity ever) just before the potato conversation. But potatoes it was. Only I added a couple of her (current) greatest hits and it worked.
The salad was easy. Boil half a pound of new potatoes in salted water for 15-20 minutes then let cool in a colander. When they’re ready to handle, cut them into bite size pieces, whatever that means for you. (In our house we have a running dispute: my husband says everything is too big, I think it’s hearty.) Add half a cup of pesto, a splash of oil, salt, pepper and the most important ingredient, freshly squeezed lemon. Dice tomatoes, whatever kind looks best at the store (I usually use grape or cherry) and add them at the very end so they don’t splatter everywhere. And always trying to squeeze in an extra shot of green, I added peas.
Now, a note about pesto. People are always saying “it’s SO easy to make your own pesto”, just like it’s SO easy to make your own stock. To this I say, what’s so easy about boiling a bird for 4 hours? Especially when there are delicious versions ready to buy and use immediately? Such is true for pesto. I picked up a fresh jar (usually in the deli section) and went about my business in under 10 seconds. Soon enough I’ll be grinding up baby food for Estelle, I don’t need to start with pine nuts and basil now.
Anyway, the lemon chicken is simple and delicious, thanks to The Barefoot Contessa. Yes, another Ina Garten recipe but here’s the thing: it’s always good when it comes from the East Hampton manse. This is thinly cut chicken breasts, marinated in lemon. As usual, I updated the Contessa’s original Lemon Chicken Skewers recipe to make it a little healthier. (The satay dip included in her recipe, by the way, is excellent.) In this case, I simply reduced the amount of oil and increased the lemon juice. Tonight I used oregano because we’re on vacation and that’s the only herb I had but you could use thyme, parsley, basil or even dill and any one of them would be wonderful. I squeezed the juice from two big lemons, added about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (fresh and yummy right from the Puglia region of Italy where we are staying), salt, pepper and oregano. Basically you’re making a vinaigrette to marinate the chicken. I do this in the afternoon to eat that night (yes, at nap time), but you could do it in the morning, or even the night before. Saute the chicken, grill it, throw it on the BBQ… Just do it over high heat and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.
Shockingly, Phoebe ate everything. The chicken (uniformly refused in the recent past), the potatoes (see toddler-speak above) plus the peas and tomatoes but those are perennial favorites so no surprise there. Just relief. Am I the only one who thinks it’s actually tiring to be on vacation?