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Valentine’s Ideas

February 14, 2020

It’s Valentine’s Day! Which if you have kids means you need to make lots of cards for your kid’s classmates and then attend lots of parties with sugared up kids.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to go out (we’re going out Sunday!) or maybe you’re cooking at home this Valentine’s Day. Either way I’ve found some recipes on the www that will make your weekend just a little bit sweeter.

  1. Whipped Goat Cheese with Baked Figs – This dish looks beautiful! My husband loves goat cheese and figs too.
  2. This baked goat cheese dip also looks amazing.
  3. Here is a video on how to make the perfect Filet Mignon at Delish and here is a red wine reduction – one of my favorite since it has a ton of flavor and its so fast & easy to make.
  4. If your husband loves chicken (looking at you Jeffrey) then this pan-roasted chicken with cream sauce might be perfect.
  5. Speaking of Jeffrey, Ina made him this Crispy Mustard Chicken and I have always wanted to try it. With white wine, dijon and bread crumbs with herbs, sounds like lots of flavor.
  6. If you have some time to slow cook this Beef Bourguignon looks heavenly…
  7. This dijon crusted rack of lamb looks so yummy. If you have trouble finding rack of lamb I have great luck at BJs and Trader Joes.
  8. Oh let’s do Sidecars with Dried Cherries, yes please!
  9. Can we finish with this 4-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse too? It seems like this was what Nutella was destined for.
  10. One of our favorite local dishes to order is at Surf in Portsmouth, and it is lobster truffle sushi. I think we should just make it lobster truffle mac and cheese at home.

Going to hang with my Valentine now. Hope you all have a loving weekend, happy eating! xoxo Katie

Better Than Takeout Stir-Fried Udon Noodles

February 6, 2020

 

When I get a chance to hang out with other moms, we always end up comparing notes about what dinners everyone has loved in our families lately. That’s where this dish was discovered.

My friend Julie (hi Julie!) is a great cook and is very sweet to always tell me what dishes her family loves from The Humble Onion (Mini Meatloaves are their favorite).  She told me her husband and kids have also been loving this stir-fry udon dish from Bon Appetit, and that it is a) easy and b) delicious.  Word of mouth is my favorite.

I was excited to put the frozen ground pork in my freezer to work, and I usually keep a head of cabbage on hand for one of my husband’s favorite Friday night dinners, Ahi Tuna Wraps (which is just low carb tortillas, seared ahi tuna, sliced, spicy mayo, and some cabbage thinly sliced and tossed with rice wine vinegar). I also LOVE these Crispy Oven Roasted Cabbage Wedges from Alexandra Cooks. In case you were wondering why I just happened to have a head of cabbage on hand.                                                                                                                                                                           You want to start by browning your sesame seeds and get your chopping prep work done with the cabbage, the scallions, and the ginger.

Two tips about ginger: 1) I love storing it in the freezer so it doesn’t go bad and just thawing it in the microwave when I need it and 2) Our old sitter Emily (hi Emily!) spent a lot of time in Vietnam with her dad, and said that they use a spoon to peel ginger skin off. It really comes off so easily I can’t believe I ever tried to do it with a knife.

Stir frying the cabbage first gives it a flavor and texture like the inside of an egg roll.

Then you brown the pork with ginger and the light green and white parts of scallions, then add the mirin and soy sauce.

I have been loving these Udon Noodles which you can find on Amazon (and we never run out of sesame oil thanks to this giant bottle I got at BJs):

 

  

Then you toss the udon noodles with the cabbage, sesame oil, and finally the pork mixture.

I discovered this dish is good hot or cold when I couldn’t stop eating the leftovers out of the container while my plate warmed up for lunch the next day.

Lastly – the recipe calls for mirin but I didn’t have any so I substituted rice wine vinegar but used a little less.

If you’re looking for an easy new dish to put on the weekly menu that everyone will love, than try this one! And let me know how it goes.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Better Than Take Out Stir Fried Udon Noodles

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups very coarsely chopped green cabbage (from about ¼ medium head)
  • 2 7-ounce packages instant udon noodles, flavor packets discarded
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 5 scallions, white and pale-green parts coarsely chopped, dark-green parts thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger (from a 1-inch knob)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ⅓ cup mirin (or 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar)
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, plus more for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add cabbage and cook, tossing often, until edges are browned, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, tossing often, until thickest parts of cabbage leaves are tender, about 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat and set skillet aside.

  • Place udon in a large heatproof bowl (or pot if you don’t have one) and cover with 6 cups boiling water. Let sit 1 minute, stirring to break up noodles, then drain in a colander. Transfer noodles back to bowl and toss with sesame oil. Transfer cabbage to bowl with noodles. Wipe out skillet.

  • Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in same skillet over medium-high and add pork, breaking up and spreading across surface of pan with a spatula or tongs. Cook pork, undisturbed, until underside is brown, about 3 minutes. The pork will never brown if you’re fussing with it the whole time, so when we say “undisturbed,” that means keep your paws off it and let the heat of the pan and the pork do their thing. When pork is browned, break up meat into small bits. Cook, tossing, just until there’s no more pink, about 1 minute. Add chopped scallions (the pale parts), ginger, and red pepper. Continue to cook, tossing often, until scallions are softened and bottom of skillet has started to brown, about 1 minute. Add udon mixture, mirin, and soy sauce and cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are coated in sauce (be sure to scrape bottom of skillet to dissolve any browned bits), about 45 seconds. Remove from heat and fold in 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds and dark-green parts of scallions. Top with more sesame seeds before serving.

    Recipe from Bon Appetit

Balsamic Pulled Chicken

January 27, 2020

 

I love the ease of cooking pulled pork or chicken for a crowd. Cook, shredded, mix with sauce, add some coleslaw. Done.

But when I saw this recipe for Balsamic Pulled Chicken, I instantly craved it. And as I put together the sauce, I realized it is actually very similar to the ingredient list for BBQ sauce, just with balsamic vinegar’s depth of flavor and richness, and without BBQs sticky sweetness.

Which makes it amazing.

It’s a great twist on a classic and my new favorite go to to feed a crowd.

It is a major plus that this whole thing comes together in less than 30 minutes. I made it for a recent family get together and it was so easy, the chicken baked away in the oven while I made the sauce. When I shredded it, it was super tasty on its own (go garlic power, salt and pepper for making baked chicken breast super yummy).  If I made this for a party I would probably make it according to these directions and then keep it warm in a crock pot.

It’s good to have options.

I served it on Ciabatta rolls but for low carb romaine lettuce or Bibb lettuce slices work or even topping a salad with the shredded sauced chicken and some blue cheese crumbles would be perfect.

Ok, lets talk cole slaw! The recipe calls for a slaw made with aioli and canned pineapple. I don’t love canned pineapple, and so I made my favorite cole slaw recipe which is mayo, milk, celery salt, celery seed, a splash of white or apple cider vinegar and  a pinch of sugar.  This coleslaw recipe from Bon Appetit is really close to how I make it, though I add some milk to thin it.

And I think it is fine to sub mayonnaise for the greek yogurt and aioli. But maybe unlike me you do have some aioli nearby.

I loved it with this coleslaw but maybe your crew would like the sweet version so it is listed below with some tweaks.

This one is definitely a keeper when you need to cook for a crowd. I tripled the recipe for leftovers and easily fed 10.

(FYI, my little kids liked it in a hotdog roll with American cheese and no slaw.)

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Balsamic Pulled Chicken

INGREDIENTS

CHICKEN

  • 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

SAUCE

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup boiling water 
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce/ketchup 
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

SLAW

  • 14 oz slaw mix
  • 8 oz. can pineapple pieces in juice
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened yoghurt (or mayo)
  • 1/3 cup aioli (or mayo)
  • 2 Tbsp juice from canned pineapple
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

TO SERVE

  • 4-8 rolls or burger buns
  • 4-8 slices cheese, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. COOK CHICKEN

    Preheat oven to 375ºF fan bake. Place a large piece of foil on an oven tray. Place chicken on top. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle garlic powder over the top and season well with salt and pepper. Wrap up in the foil to enclose. Bake for 25 minutes, until chicken is completely cooked through.

  2. MAKE SAUCE

    While chicken cooks, place oil, vinegar, water, tomato sauce, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, crumbled stock cube and garlic powder in a small non-stick saucepan. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until thickened (should be about the same consistency as tomato sauce/ketchup). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. MAKE SLAW

    Combine slaw and pineapple (reserve the pineapple juice!) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together yoghurt, aioli, pineapple juice and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add approximately two thirds of the dressing to the slaw and toss to combine.

  4. ASSEMBLE AND SERVE

    If you prefer the rolls warm, place in the oven for a few minutes. Remove chicken from foil, place in a shallow dish and use two forks to roughly shred. Pour balsamic sauce over the top (adjust quantity to suit your tastes) and toss to combine.

  5. Cut rolls in half, spread with remaining slaw dressing, add slices of cheese and top with slaw and chicken. Sandwich together. Serve with extra slaw on the side (the slaw is nice topped with any extra chicken too).

    Recipe adapted from yourultimatemenu.com

Chorizo + Gouda Stuffed Peppers (Gluten Free)

January 15, 2020

 

Hi there all you wonderful readers! I’m going to send hopeful thoughts that when I don’t have two-year-old twins I will give you many more original recipes than I currently can, because it is completely my favorite part of food blogging. Still love sharing recipes that pass my big family test too, but new recipes are so fun.

I have one for you today and it is SO GOOD.

We make a lot of stuffed peppers in our house, and I usually make them with sautéed onion + garlic, ground beef/turkey, Rao’s tomato sauce, rice, diced tomatoes, and plenty of parm + mozzarella. Easy peasy, didn’t even blog about them because I usually make the recipe up as I go and I think there are already a ton on the internet. Such as here and here.

But then I was trying to think of healthy dinners that were also crave-worthy, and I thought the stuffed pepper routine could use some jazzing up. I mean, the possibilities are endless, aren’t they?

My thoughts kept returning to flavorful sausage, and how it infuses soups like my Sausage, Kale and Lentil Stew and rice dishes like Jambalaya (I use Zatarans  with chicken, shrimp and andouille or chorizo, which you could also use to stuff these peppers with if you’re in a hurry).

So I let some brown rice mix with some sautéed onions, garlic and chorizo…

Added some chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and black beans and corn…

And then added some smoked gouda because smoked cheese + smoked meat is a match made in heaven.

 

 

My twelve year old daughter and I actually tasted tested cheddar, mozzarella, and monkery jack along with the gouda to see which cheese tasted the best. She just put down her little taster ramekin and said, “You have to go with the gouda, it’s is delicious. The other ones don’t even come close.” I kind of think they came a little close, and you could use any of them, but the gouda did take it to the next level.

Also – you will probably have some filling left over. It is delicious on its own or you can find some extra veggies to stuff like zucchini or tomatoes. It’s funny I almost always make zucchini boats when I make stuffed peppers.

These are no ordinary stuffed peppers – the chorizo infused them with so much flavor I barely needed to add any seasonings! It does make it spicy, which my big kids love, but full disclosure the youngest had mac + cheese with hot dogs and corn. Still, it might be worth making the beef/tomato/rice ones for the littles and these spicy ones for the bigs if you have the patience for two pots going. You could also go with kielbasa which is smoky but not spicy and just add hot sauce or tabasco. But there are some amazing flavors in chorizo sausage that made this so yummy, and we all thought the spicy kick was amazing.

We tried to keep it on the healthier side with brown rice and less cheese but FEEL FREE to add more cheese on top and cook for 10 extra minutes with the tin foil off.

I hope you get to try these spicy beauties! They make the BEST leftovers too…

Chorizo + Gouda Stuffed Peppers:

2-3 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 pound chorizo, diced
2 cups rice
4 cups chicken broth (can mix broth + water to get to 4 cups of liquid)
2 cans fire- roasted tomatoes
1 can black beans
10 oz. frozen corn
S&P
8 peppers, combo of red & green
4 oz smoked Gouda, grated

Garnish options: sliced green onions, melted cheese

Heat 2 T. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions for 4-5 minutes, then add garlic for one more minute, then add chorizo. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil. Add broth, lower to a simmer, then put a lid on a simmer for 35 min. or until rice is tender.

When cooked, stir in tomatoes, beans, corn, and salt and pepper if needed.

Slice peppers in half vertically and remove white parts and seeds. Lay in two 9 x 12 baking dishes. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Add gouda to rice mixture and stir, then scoop rice mixture into peppers and fill so it is heaping a bit. Cover dishes with foil.

Bake at 400 for 35 minutes with tin foil on top. Serve with green onions on top.

If desired you can add more cheese on top like mozzarella, cheddar, or Monterey jack. Cook for 10 more minutes with foil removed to melt cheese.

Serve immediately or reheat leftovers.

Easy + Delicious Tomato Soup

January 9, 2020

 

Happy New Year friends! I hope you are warm and healthy and feeling like tackling that pile of Christmas decorations that is sitting on your dining room table. Just me?

Like millions of others, I am trying to eat clean this January and am finding that soups are the quickest, most comforting way to do that. I’m kicking it off with one of our favorites – Tomato Soup.

One of my earliest food memories is coming home from kindergarten and my mom making tomato soup and grilled cheese for me for lunch. As a kid it was one of my favorite lunches and it still has a soft place in my heart. I tried to pass on this love to my kids through the same Campbell’s can of soup that I loved but they weren’t a fan.

Then I made this recipe.

Now they beg for it, and get very excited if I tell them I’m making it for dinner, especially with grilled cheese on the side, but they love it with toast too. On a recent Friday, they even voted for this soup over ordering pizza.

To give you an idea of the flavors, a foodie friend stopped by while I was making it and said, “oh my gosh what smells so good?” I am not the first to tell you that good food often comes from really simple ingredients, and in this case, it is that simple combination of onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Not just any tomatoes though – San Marzano.

I have been buying these huge 5 lb cans of tomatoes for a while now, ever since I started making Smitten Kitchen’s tomato sauce. I triple her recipe, which calls for 28 oz. of San Marzano tomatoes. Fun math: a 5 pound can of tomatoes is 90 oz, ergo we triple the recipe.

I do the same for this soup. Technically this yields 12 servings, but since everyone always has seconds let’s just say it serves 6. Plus the leftovers freeze beautifully. But if you are cooking for one or two, consider using a 28 oz. can and cutting the rest into thirds.

Now we start to get itchy when we use up our last big can since we’ve been making both the sauce and this soup almost every week.

As you may have noticed, with six kids I really need recipes that are easy (read: that I can multitask 5 other things while I am making it), and this one feels so simple but yields that wonderful comfort of homemade food. Now I can’t even remember how I could eat the can stuff.

So go get a giant can of tomatoes or two, chop some onions and garlic, and let your house start to smell amazing.

You’re going to want to add this to your family recipe binders, its a keeper!

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 medium yellow onion, medium dice
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, I leave it out for little kids)
  • 1 (90-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes in their juices, preferably San Marzanos
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Optional garnishes (alone or in combination):

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Toasted baguette slices
  • Grilled cheese (obvi)

Directions:

  1. Place a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and add the oil and butter. When the butter melts, add the onion and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is completely soft, about 15 minutes. (Reduce the heat if onions start to look brown). Add the garlic and optional red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
  2. Increase the heat to medium and add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan. Roughly crush the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon and cook until they’re hot and beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the broth or water and bring to a simmer. Cook at a medium simmer until the tomatoes begin to fall apart, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the soup from the heat and cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot. (You can also use a countertop blender, but this size pot of soup will require several batches.) Return the soup to the burner over low heat and stir in the cream. Add black pepper, then taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt or pepper as needed. Serve in warmed bowls, as is or topped with the garnishes of your choice.

Recipe adapted from chowhound.com

Christmas Gift Ideas 2019

December 16, 2019

If you are looking for holiday appetizers, please click on over to the Easy Holiday Appetizer article I wrote for Coastal Design Magazine. I am so excited to share four easy recipes that taste SO much better than the ones from the freezer isle but are almost as fast.

Now that you have some great recipes, let’s talk gift giving. I am definitely procrastinating doing the 4,857 things I need to do for Christmas and instead put together a gift guide for you lovely readers of le blog.

If you’re anything like me it is hard to come up with great gift ideas in the 15 minute increments you have to Christmas shop, and then I try to text girlfriends frantically for good ideas. Here are some ideas of things I have loved or have loved to give in the past.

So without further ado, here are…

15 Christmas Gift Ideas (Procrastinator’s Edition): 

  1. These comfy pants from JCrewFactory    I got these when I was shopping for my daughter’s birthday and they have been my go to when it is time to relax and get cozy. I have only recently realized the love I have for putting on the comfy pant as a ritual to hunker down and love my people. Winter and hygge-ing are not going anywhere soon, so you might as well buy three for the whole weekend.
  2. Short Rib Braising Sauce from Williams Sonoma – While they are an investment, they are still cheaper than taking our family out to eat. I like to brown the short ribs before we go skiing, put them in the crock pot with this sauce, and then when we get back they are falling off the bone and I just have to boil some egg noodles or make mashed potatoes. I also ordered the Black Truffle version because that just sounds delicious.  
  3. Fog Hand Cream – This scent is amazing, with hints of lavender, amber and black current. Every time I put it on I get transported…to a spa? a vacation? somewhere nice smelling? It’s my jam. I got it at a local beauty boutique in Portsmouth called Making Faces and when I just googled it I learned they also have hand wash.
  4. Trader Joe’s Taste Test of Carmels – What is not to love about a gift that is both eating chocolate and guessing? The Espresso and the Chile flavors are my favorite. Would make a great teacher gift!
  5. I just got  this Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs  and know my kids will want to make everything in it. 
  6. I also just got these books upon the rec of Grace Patton. She said her kids get so absorbed in these books and we have a lot of discussions about what part of the animal our dinner comes from. Is that weird?
  7. These silicone oven mitts were gifted to me by my husband last Christmas and I love them. They are so thick you could lift a hot oven rack with them (I do) and they wash off under the faucet. And I know it sounds crazy but I love that they are bright because I always know where they are in the kitchen if I am doing a million things. These are the exact ones he got too – Rachel Ray knows what she is doing.
  8. Kind of intrigued by the low sugar wines I see coming out. This Syrah from FitVine was ranked one of the top 11 low sugar wines. Also liked the reviews of the wines from Dry Farm Wines I read while I was ironically working out and they come in a subscription service. The perfect gift for someone you love who loves wine and working out. Which strikes me as a big demographic.
  9. Flavored Salts – These are super easy to make, and after loving the flavored sea salts I got at a local store last year, I’m determined to make these for my fellow foodie friends. They are so good on bagels, chicken, fish, salads..and with a bow they look so pretty.
  10. If you are in the mood to make another food gift, my cousin just sent me a bag of these Spicy Almonds from Martha Stewart and they are addictive. I used some in a quick salad with arugula, strawberries, goat cheese and raspberry dressing and they were mind blowing.
  11. Two of my favorite Instagram Foodies have cookbooks out – Rustic Joyful Food and Half Baked Harvest. This one is basically because I hope my husband reads my blog and gets these for me.
  12. We’ve given away waffle ‘kits’ to friends and family before with our hometown NH Maple Syrup and the heart waffle maker plus Stonewall Kitchen’s Waffle Mix. I love the idea of using this mini waffle maker because they are the perfect size for kids.
  13. Sriracha Key Chain – for serious heat lovers. A great stocking stuffer.
  14. If you have a HomeGoods near you, I have to rave about all the white platters and pitchers I have found here for very little money that I use all the time. They are all made in Portugal for some reason, and I don’t get sad when little kids chip them because they are all under $20. If you have one near you and time to run out there, I’m pretty positive you’ll come away with the perfect gift.
  15. Last but not least, everyone can always use a good cutting board. Bonus points if you create a cheese board on it before you wrap it up and gift it to them.

Ok I am off to go shopping with twins, wish me luck! Hope you have fun playing elf and you remember to turn up the Christmas music when you get stressed.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie