I have resisted pasta for many years. Other people can’t get enough of it – I could take it or leave it. But life in our household has been pretty crazy lately, and I have been embracing pasta as a way to get dinner on the table relatively quickly instead of having to resort to eating crackers. (It’s happened.)
I think the problem is I’m not really a fan of traditional spaghetti sauce. My husband has taken to complaining that we never have a jar of spaghetti sauce in the house (he asked if we could make a bid for normalcy and just have a jar of Prego), while I’ve never felt the lack. Once I started to move away from the tomato sauces, pasta got a lot more interesting.
This one was inspired by a gorgeous wheel of Irish Cashel Blue cheese that the kind folks at Kerrygold USA sent me. I’ve been a fan of their grass fed butter for years, but I won a year’s supply of butter and cheese at the Big Traveling Potluck and that has made be a convert to their amazing Irish cheeses. They have several cheddar and cheddar type cheeses that are amazing, but my favorite is probably the Cashel Blue. I shared the wheel with family members but immediately regretted it – I wanted more blue cheese for myself! Even my mom, who has been a diehard French Roquefort snob for years said this is her new favorite blue.
Continue reading Pasta with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Cashel Blue Cheese
I first tried Vietnamese food the summer after I graduated from college. I was in the south of France with my parents, who were chaperoning a group of college students through a summer program. We were staying in a hotel in a small town on the Riviera where nearly every restaurant served a variation on the following menu: Fish soup, grilled fish, poached fish, sauteeed fish, tapenade. Although washed down with copious amounts of rose wine, we were desperate for some.. any! variation in our daily bread. So when we stumbled on the town’s only non-French restaurant, we fell on it like starving people.
Vietnamese food was a revelation – clean flavors bright with citrus and fresh herbs and that dank, funky flavor I since learned comes from fish sauce. When I moved to New York that fall, I found a local Vietnamese restaurant that delivered to my apartment, and went to town. I fell hard for crunchy nem wrapped in a lettuce leaf with herbs and dunked in that mysteriously orange nuoc cham, the star anise aromas of Pho (still my favorite food when I have a head cold), delicately crisped Banh Xeo, fragrant with coconut, and Bun Thit Nuong – bland noodles with crispy, savory pork on top. Pork with layers of flavor, charred from the grill.
Continue reading Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Not every recipe comes with a cute story, a long origin tale, a photo-worthy finish. Sometimes we are just trying to get dinner on the table. Sometimes we’re dealing with real life here — that life where we have to get dinner on the table EVERY NIGHT, where lamb is expensive and beef unhealthy and your kid won’t touch lentils with a ten foot pole so you’re making chicken again, where if you see another boneless skinless “cutlet” you might have to throw something. That life.
In that life you might have optimistically bought two jars of pepper jelly at Christmas time – it’s so nice on cream cheese For all those parties you ended up not going to, since one kid had the stomach flu and the other had an ear infection. In that life, you buy too much cheese and have odds and ends of it overflowing the cheese drawer in your refrigerator.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Continue reading Split Chicken Breasts with Goat Cheese and Pepper Jelly
I must have missed out on the “party planning gene” that every other person in the world seems to have, or at least other moms. I look at Pinterest, with the decorations and the tablescapes and the elaborate menus – and break out into a cold sweat. The theme for my kids’ birthday parties is “birthday party.” Or really, “Come to our house and eat some cake.”
But I LOVE to have people over. My idea of the perfect summer evening is sitting on our back deck with some good friends while our kids run wild in the back yard, chatting over a glass of wine or a margarita and eating yummy food. The key is relaxing and having fun, not throwing a fit over a menu. So I’m always looking for low-key, low-stress recipes to feed a crowd. Things that I can make that don’t require a lot of last minute preparation (to allow for appropriate amounts of yapping and wine-drinking) but that are delicious enough that people want to come back and hang out some more.
Continue reading Crockpot Mexican Pork Carnitas
So if you listen to as many food-related podcasts as I do, you may have noticed that lately there has been a lot of talk about cooking (I blame Michael Pollan)- about how it’s healthier, and better for society, and connects you with your humanity, etc. Which, hello? is great, and I’ve been saying for years! Yay cooking! We love it around these parts. I also, however, like to play the role of fairy godmother of the reality check. You know and I know that we would LOVE to make from-scratch, healthful dinners EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, but we also both know that sometimes that just isn’t happening. Before you call the delivery man, or open (yet another) box of pasta, I present you for five ideas for easy, quick, no-fuss dinners. They don’t require NO cooking, but they do require MINIMAL fuss and no thought whatsoever. I usually plan to have ingredients for at least one of these in the house at any given time, to account for traffic jams, late meetings, and general exhaustion.
Continue reading Five No-Fuss, No-Pasta Dinners For When You Don’t Really Want to Cook