December 3, 2019

I didn’t intend for this to be a blog post. This dish started as me just using up the turkey carcasses we froze after Thanksgiving.

But then I tasted it.

As usual with home cooking, simple ingredients, slow cooked, with flavor make the best best dishes. And this soup was SO delicious I had to share it. So here we are. If you don’t have a turkey carcass left over, consider just making this with chicken. It is that good you can’t wait until next year.

I made a huge pot of Turkey stock yesterday in our lobster pot and cooked for 3+ hours. If you have never made stock, check out my post here.

While it simmered, I cleaned out the fridge and tackled organizing projects in the kitchen. So basically, a clean fridge plus a delicious soup with crusty bread on a cold rainy day = the perfect evening. Plus making stock is so great for using up all those veggies in the veggie drawer that have seen better days.

Sometimes it can be hard to sell my family on soup for dinner, but everyone took a bite of this and raved. It is totally thanks to the delicious broth that adds so much depth of flavor, plus the comforting, stick to your ribs feeling from the creaminess of the butter and milk and cream.

I hope you still have a turkey carcass you can use up! If not, just pull this post up next year. You’ll be so glad you did!

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup (find printer version here):

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice blend*
  • 1 small yellow onion , chopped
  • 2 medium carrots , diced
  • 2 ribs celery , diced
  • 6 Tablespoons butter , divided
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 4 1/2 cups turkey (or chicken) broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds turkey meat, diced (can substitute chicken breasts, see step 5)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or half & half)
Instructions
  1. Prepare rice according to package instructions.
  2. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.

  3. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté until slightly tender. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

  4. Stir in the broth, thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. *If using chicken breasts, add and bring mixture to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid and allow mixture to boil for 10-12 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through, then remove chicken to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes.. If using pre-cooked turkey, skip to next step.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and add turkey meat (or chicken meat) and cooked rice to the soup.

  7. In a separate medium saucepan melt remaining 5 Tbsp butter over medium heat.

  8. Add flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking vigorously, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken.

  9. Add this mixture to the soup pot and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in heavy cream or half & half. Serve warm.

Adapted from Tastes Better From Scratch’s Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Thanksgiving Ideas

November 17, 2019

It’s that time of year again when we get to think of ALL THE THINGS we could be making for Thanksgiving, and then whittle that list down to a manageable feast. I’ve seen so many great ideas lately that I thought I’d just share them all here.

For the Turkey:

Herb and Butter Roasted Turkey from Half Baked Harvest –

When your favorite food blogger tells you this is her go to every year and it never fails her, you try it.

For the Stuffing: 

Ciabatta Stuffing with and Chestnuts and Pancetta

Giada had me at Ciabatta. And chestnuts. And pancetta.

For Great Starters:

Swiss Pumpkin

From Ruth Reichl’s memoir Comfort Me With Apples, this is one of the most fun recipes and it is ah-mazing.

Baked Pears with Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Thyme

These look SO pretty and sound totally delicious. We recently had a cheese board when we ate out that just had a simple red wine poached pear to cut off and that is also a simple idea that can wow guests.

Cheese Puffs 

These are just mandatory at our family holidays. Sounds weird and simple but tastes like a cheesy, butter bite of heaven.

For the sides:

Maple Glazed Roasted Delicata Squash with Brussel Sprouts 

One of my favorite THO recipes, I keep these ingredients on hand all fall so I can whip it up for a special weekend dinner. It looks so pretty.

Spicy Carmelized Squash with Lemon and Hazelnuts – 

I subscribe to NY Times Cooking and when this popped in my inbox I started to obsess. Can’t wait to try it.

Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes

Love love love these potatoes. Simple and delicious. Also intrigued by these ones too….

Three cheese crock pot mashed potatoes – 

Oven space can be so limited, it is such a smart plan to have your mashed potatoes warm in a crock pot.

Martha Stewart’s Cauliflower Gratin – 

I make this every year for my husband who loves cauliflower and tries to eat low carb. It always ends up being one of my favorite parts of the dinner.

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta – 

This is how I  make Brussel sprouts at our house (minus the sun-dried tomatoes). My kids love the little bits of pancetta.

Bon Appetit’s Green Bean Casserole – 

This is getting me so excited for Thanksgiving. Of course Cream of Mushroom soup is FINE but I love the idea of making it from scratch. Also just discovered Onion Rings filled with Green Beans if you want to really wow your people.

For Dessert: 

Ina Garten’s favorite pumpkin dessert is her Pumpkin Roulade with Ginger Buttercream

The Pioneer Woman’s Carmel Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake looks like perfection.

Then again, this S’mores Sweet Potato Cheesecake does too…

My kids would love these Candy Turkeys

 

And as we think about being thankful I want to say I am so thankful to you for reading this blog, and for all the enthusiam, support, and messages you have all sent me about recipes you’ve made or things you have loved from this little blog. It’s such a labor of love, and I am so thankful to share it with all of you.

Hope you have a wonderful day with your families, Happy Eating!! xoxo Katie

 

Cooking for Kids

November 9, 2019

 

I get DM’s, emails, and have  in real life conversations in the corners of birthday parties with people all asking the same thing: Do your kids really eat thatWhat do I do with a picky eater? What if I shop, put away, chop, prepare, and serve a meal and they only eat two bites? Dinner is driving me crazy.

Believe me, I hear you.

The struggle is real, and I would venture a guess that it is among the biggest challenges of parenting. Food shopping and cooking takes up a huge part of our daily budget and schedule, so it’s worth a reflection. I also think there are some assumptions worth challenging that can make your life so much easier.

When people start to ask about their picky eaters, I share what our very first pediatrician told me: your job is to make them healthy food, and their job is to eat it. Anything else is a power struggle. 

I’ll let you sit with that for a minute.

Parenting is complex. Every kid is different. And seeing through the eyes of a three or four year old really helps to see that of course running in circles is way more fun than sitting still. It really helps to give yourself a pep talk and to know that this domain is one that everyone has challenges in, and that you are not alone.

But there are some things you can do to help or hurt your situation. Kids are always testing where the lines are, where their power is, and the easiest arena to do this in is what they eat. Staying positive, setting boundaries and taking back your power as a parent almost always helps you and your kids.

Here are a few general pointers that help with meal time negotiations and help eliminate the power struggles for me. Note these apply to kids over 3. I find toddlers generally eat when they are hungry, and don’t eat when they are not hungry. They also can’t sit still for long. We rarely take the twins out to eat because at two they can’t sit for longer than 10 minutes and then we all get indigestion unless we can let them down to go play. But for table dwellers, here is what works for us:

  1. I only have time to make one meal. I tell my kids when they beg for chicken nuggets instead of the casserole we are having that I don’t have time to make separate meals for people. This really ends the begging because it’s such a clear boundary and one that kids in every country, all across time have learned to accept. With that said, I have lived through picky eaters and I know if I offer a scoop of pasta or cheesy veggies (or whatever is on their ‘will eat’ list) in the meal everyone is having, we are all happier. And if some of us really want something spicy, I either try to add the spice after or will make something very simple for little kids. But since the rule gets repeated to them when they ask for something else they come to accept it and don’t seem to notice diversions.
  2. You can always have apples and ketchup. Our kids know they are always welcome to eat fruit or veggies anytime. So if they tell me they are hungry right after dinner, I tell them to have an apple, carrots, a banana. If they really hate the roasted asparagus they can go reach for a handful of baby carrots from the drawer. It ends the constant negotiations and promotes fruits and veggies. Any worries of hunger or getting nutritious food in them are settled for me because they can fill their belly with these. And most of the time, the ‘gross’ vegetable or chicken can get swallowed if they dip it in ketchup or ranch.
  3. Bribery works. Ask any grade school teacher – kids brains are wired for rewards and light up with winning a prize. I always dangle dessert at them when they don’t want to eat something. We tell them that if they want dessert they have to eat their protein and veggies. During our pickiest eaters pickiest years this rule helped me the most. Often ‘dessert’ is only a frozen yogurt tube or berries with whipped cream, but they still get the job done because of the prize dangled. Often with ketchup.
  4. Kitchen is closed after dinner. If they are hungry, see rule #2.
  5. Meal time is special. We are lucky to have this food, each other, and the time to sit down together. As our kids get older and do sports it is increasingly rare to have everyone eat at the same time.(Sniff). I try to make it fun by everyone going around sharing their ‘News & Goods’ (one new thing and one good thing) of their day. We also just found conversation napkins that they all are loving. I really believe in setting expectations and tone for this sacred part of the day. If they are having fun they are too distracted to complain or misbehave.
  6. Meals at the table are training. One day they will be asked to eat at a friends house, or go to banquets, or go on a date, or even run dinner meetings (like their Dad) and if good manners are habits these will generally go better. I start at their level and say ‘if you want me to let you eat over at your friend’s house, you have to show me you know good manners’. Getting up from the table repeatedly, eating before prayers, interrupting, complaining about the food are all recent offenders that made me give the friend’s house speech. (You parents of grade schoolers know that time at a friend’s house is golden.) Napkins in their lap, saying ‘please pass the butter’, watching their elbows and keeping your water glass where it won’t get knocked over are all life skills and things that greatly help me enjoy their company. We eat pizza on Fridays in our family room, and some nights they eat at the island with a sitter if I am running a kid somewhere, and I notice when we get away from the routine at the table they forget their manners. So I keep bringing it back around when are at the table.
  7. Keep your expectations low and theirs high. I think kids rise to expectations. Don’t be afraid that a three or four year old can’t sit at the table for 10 minutes because it happens gradually over many repeated attempts where you expected them to and then suddenly one day they can. But if it goes south, or they knock over that water glass, or they push their plate away and tell you they’re not hungry and they don’t want dessert, you’re unfazed because your low expectations keep you from getting triggered.
  8. Attitudes are contagious. If I’m stressed and annoyed that I am making dinner, it rolls off to everyone. But if I am excited to cook what we are having and to eat it with them, or I have stuff to tell them about our dinner or they can learn something, it elevates the experience. This impacts my big kids a lot.
  9. Cook for yourself first. If I make something that I’m interested in making or tasting or craving, and do all the planning, shopping, meal prep, cooking and they only eat two bites, I am not resentful or angry, because I am still happy to be eating the meal. If you make waffles out of cauliflower because you read in a magazine that kids love it! even though you don’t want to eat it and neither do they, then everyone is grumpy. I ask my kids what they want for dinner when I’m meal planning though and the answers are usually things I want to eat too, like Spaghetti and Meatballs or Shepard’s Pie, so when I include them we’re all happy.

So what do you do if you have a child that is making meal time hard? First off, kids come in ALL different temperaments, and if you are familiar with a bell curve in statistics, most fall under the range of ‘normal’ eaters, but some have very open personalities and will try anything, and some are very clear on what they do and don’t want to eat and are extremely picky eaters. (Bell curves are also a helpful way to think of nursing babies too FYI. Some are great, some are hard, most are in the middle.)  Extremely picky and very open eaters are small percentages all kids, but power struggles or a lack of them can shape them to be more picky or more open.

To eliminate power struggles, try for a month to serve pretty kid-friendly meals (i.e. not spicy, not overly cooked and mushy vegetables, or overly foreign items), and don’t offer a lot of commentary if they don’t eat it. If they say they are not hungry at the table, tell them there are berries with whip cream/frozen yogurt tube/actual sugary treat for dessert if they eat a reasonable amount of their dinner, but if they don’t want to that’s fine.

If your kids are like mine, next they ask ‘what do I have to eat?’ Without a lot of negotiation, I quickly make it a judgment based on age and kid. For my son who hates veggies, I’ll offer him raw carrots from the drawer instead of the mushy green beans. For my picky carb loving daughter, we’ll make a ‘have to eat’ pile and there will be 3-4 pieces of chicken and her veggies. Ranch and ketchup get offered. After that, I’m done helping them. They get to choose.

If you are still having major behavioral issues, I HIGHLY recommend 1-2-3 Magic , and while it isn’t food specific it is a great way to deal with behavioral issues which is what is behind a lot of food struggles. Some of our kids have ADHD and it is especially good for giving impulsive kids time to make a good choice. (This book helped me realized that all kids secretly want you to take the power back so they feel safe and secure).

If none of this works, talk to your pediatrician. They might be in the small percentage of kids who are extreme. If they are then maybe just making a box of pasta (or whatever else is one of ‘their’ foods) with everything else and give them a scoop along side the family dinner so you know you’ll all sleep that night and life will go on.

I think a lot more fall under the category of ‘power struggle’ and I want to empower parents to step out of this if possible. I have definitely locked horns with a kid at dinner (mostly the same child over and over) and I know what it is like to have your buttons pushed and to have them wear you down. But I also know that repeated exposure to good REAL food over and over again has made that same child who at ages 5, 6 and 7 ask only for pasta to now be eating buffalo wings, loving soups and stews, and begging for chili at age 10. Progress not perfection is always the goal.

What do you think – does this cover the challenges you are having? Drop me a line in the comments and share your struggles with other parents.

Creamy Artichoke Soup

October 25, 2019

I have made this soup before on my stories, but I don’t know why I’ve never done a post about it. It is my favorite soup and I try to always have leeks and artichokes on hand to make it whenever I am craving it, which is often.

Julia Child referred to leek and potato soup as ‘a happy marriage’ for a reason. They make something magical when they’re combined in a soup, the perfume of the leeks with the comforting potato is like sour cream and chives on a potato on steroids. So when you add artichokes to that (which I am obsessed with and have to order anything on a menu if it has artichokes in it), well then you have a something even more than a happy marriage – a really happy family with lots of babies? Ok, let’s just call it a symphony of flavor.

Also, I try to post things to make that the whole family will love, but full disclosure, I really only make this for me. Mostly at lunch.

Like many soups, the texture of the toppings make this. There is some sour cream stirred into the soup but you also need that dollop on top with chives. I actually found this soup via Giada DiLaurentiis, and she makes it by stirring in marscapone. I taste tested both marscapone and sour cream and I just really love the tang of sour cream. But if you are a huge fan or marscapone, her recipe calls for 2 T. blended it and 1/3 cup saved for serving. Since I usually eat the whole pot I would say you could reverse that but that’s just me.

After you simmer the simple ingredients – potatoes, leeks, garlic, salt and pepper – with chicken broth for 20 minutes, then you break out your immersion blender.

Once you’ve gotten it fairly smooth, add the sour cream and blend again.

I basically want to go home and make this just from starting at this photo. I can smell the leeks through the screen.

I’m sure you could get even fancier with the toppings – pancetta or bacon, bread crumbs or croutons – but I am a purist and love it with just sour cream and chives. I also love that this keeps me full all afternoon, so it’s slightly healthy. If you think sour cream is a health food item.

I hope you get to try this on a chilly fall day, but be prepared to add the ingredients to your pantry staples because if you give a foodie a bowl of creamy leek, potato, and artichoke soup, they will want more.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 leeks, white part only, washed well and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small potato, peeled and chopped

1 (8-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup + 4 T. (for serving) sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the artichokes, stock, salt, and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Using a handheld immersion blender, or in a blender in batches*, puree the soup. Add 1/3 cup sour cream and blend again. Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper.
  3. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Dollop the top of each of the soups with a spoonful of sour cream and top the cheese with chives.
  4. * When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Adapted from the recipe by Giada DeLaurentiis on Food Network.

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

October 17, 2019

Just bookmark this post because you’re going to want to make this soup.

We are in the throws of a chilly rainstorm here in New Hampshire – they’ve actually called it a N’orester on the news, and the power went out for a little while during the night thanks to tree limbs. On my morning walk with the twins it was so windy, and our  neighborhood is carpeted with leaves and branches and pine needles everywhere.

All signs point to making more of this soup. The kids loved it when I made this for lunch last Friday and I loved how it brought us all together in the middle of their day off from school. A pot of soup and a loaf of bread will do that.

There is something so perfect about the combination of sausage and tortellini. When they are in a flavorful broth with a touch of cream, they’re even more comforting.

The turkey sausage I used was just a little bit spicy, and all my kids loved it. If your kids don’t try using sweet sausage instead.

This soup is just what I was looking for to add to our fall repertoire. Its comforting, sort of healthy, and combines some of our favorite ingredients.

This soup is good enough for company and easy enough for a busy weeknight. It’s the perfect addition to your fall menu – hope you get to try it soon! Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Sausage & Tortellini Soup (serves 6-8)
6 Turkey Italian Sausages
3 teaspoons of dry Italian seasoning
1 onion, small dice
6 carrots, small dice
4 tablespoons of flour
8 cups of chicken stock
1/4 head of cabbage, shredded
1 bag of spinach
1 package of tortellini
1/2 cup of cream
1 tsp. salt
Heat pan on medium heat, and remove sausages from casings and brown in a large pot, breaking with the spoon as it cooks.  Add onions and carrots and continue to cook.  Add the dry seasoning and flour and stir in to soak up all of the fat from the sausage.  Cook for 2 minutes until all of the flour is mixed in.  Add chicken stock and stir up all the bits on bottom of pan, and simmer for 5 minutes until its bubbling. Add cabbage, spinach and tortellini. Add cream and salt and taste to see if it needs more. Let cook for about 5-10 more minutes on low until the tortellini is warmed through.

Adapted from Everyday Occasions.

Quick Weeknight Pot Roast

October 9, 2019

I labeled this ‘Quick’ and ‘Weeknight’ Pot Roast because if you’re life goes anything like mine, the chuck roast you put in the fridge to thaw overnight might still be frozen, and you might be soaking it in a bowl of hot water at the time you were meant to put it in the crock pot. So then tow hours later, you turn to a mom’s best friend, the dinner saver, the Instapot.

Basically, as Rachel Zoe says about fashion, you need to have options. So this is a very basic recipe that I hope will give you hard working home cooks a fast option for pot roast.

I think I’ve just accepted that my kids LOVE meat and potatoes. And the more recipes I have with those two things in it the better. In fact this recipe is very close to my Instapot Beef Stew recipe (which has bad night pictures but is delicious). While I want to have blackened swordfish with celery root puree, they want pot roast. Again. And if you are not serving 8 people like I am, Beef Stroganoff is my favorite way to use up extra pot roast (sub the filet for leftover pot roast).

And OH MY GOSH – the twins are going to be two on Sunday and I just found this post about making myself some comfort food Beef Barley Soup in the Instapot on one of the rare days I was home while Ronan was in the NICU. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

If you don’t have an Instapot, this recipe can be made in a crock pot or a covered dutch oven  – see below for time and temp.

The baby potatoes are kind of perfect for the Instapot – cut up larger potatoes tend to get very mushy, where these were perfect. I adore these flavor infused carrots and could eat them all day long. Also, who doesn’t love a one pot meal?

If you are intimidated at all by this recipe, just go ahead and use the packet of seasoning labeled POT ROAST at the store, and omit the garlic-red wine and just sprinkle it over the veggies before adding them to the pot. This version is more flavorful, but that is still fine and will get dinner on the table 10 minutes faster.
Quick Weeknight Pot Roast
Ingredients:
3-4 lb. chuck roast
2 t. + 1 T. kosher salt
1 t. pepper (for little kids might use 1/2 tsp.)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
onion, sliced
cloves garlic, minced
2 T. chopped rosemary
1 tsp. chopped thyme
3 T. tomato paste
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 c. red wine (optional)
3 c. beef broth
1 lb. baby potatoes (these work the best in the crockpot since they don’t fall apart as easily)
4 celery stalks, cut on the bias
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut on the bias
Directions:
  1. Season chuck roast with 2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper. Turn Instant Pot to Sauté setting, set for 30 minutes, and heat oil. When oil is hot, add beef and cook on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Remove beef then add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, herbs, and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in flour, then whisk in wine until combined. Bring to boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add broth, potatoes, celery and carrots and 1 tablespoon salt and a the other 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper (unless your kids don’t love pepper like some of mine). Place roast on top of mixture. Lock lid and set to pressure cook on high for 70 minutes.
  3. When it gets to zero, release the pressure valuve, making sure to wait until its done before unlocking and removing lid. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove meat and shredded with two forks or slice against the grain. Pour sauce over the meat and serve with vegetables with extra sauce on the side.