I used to eat a little bit of salad every once in a while, but then I met Geoff, my husband. He introduced me to the joy of eating large salads every day. And he has two salad rules he lives by: 1) A salad is more than just lettuce and dressing, and 2) Dressing does not come from a bottle. It took me a while to adapt to his rules, and I hate being bossed around in the kitchen, but I can honestly say my salads are much better now than they were before. And healthier too! Continue reading →
Sweet potatoes are Zoe’s favorite vegetable these days. And since being a toddler evidently means learning to spit out peas and broccoli, I’m so grateful she’s still stuffing handfuls of baked sweet potatoes into her mouth with enthusiasm. I’ve mixed mashed sweet potatoes with quinoa, rice, yogurt and even lamb stew! She eats it all (knock on wood).
As I mentioned before, I love making baby (and now toddler) foods. But it’s a three-step process: 1) Buy the ingredients, 2) Cook the food, and 3) Freeze the food within 2-3 days. As the steps progress, I get more and more challenged. So, last night (or this morning) at midnight I realized I still needed to freeze a large bowl of baked sweet potatoes I had in the fridge. On my way to bed I stopped to diligently portion out the chunky potatoes into my cute freezer trays, only… they didn’t all fit. So, what to do with leftover baked sweet potatoes?
Bake muffins, of course! I adore muffins — they’re simple, easy, quick and cake-like without being cake. In baked goods, sweet potatoes are basically just sweet pumpkin, so I looked up “pumpkin muffin” recipes and chose one that looked easy and foolproof (it was midnight after all). I was delighted to find an old Gourmet magazine (Nov 2006) recipe written about on one of my favorite all-time blogs, Smitten Kitchen. (Aww, Gourmet… I could find that same magazine issue right now if I had to, lovingly tucked into one of my bookshelves). Continue reading →
Oh, congee. How I love congee. Congee (or jook, a Chinese rice porridge) is one of those dishes that I never knew existed until I moved to St. Louis for college and became a regular at a “real” Chinese food restaurant. Then in New York, Geoff and I had our favorite place to order congee in Chinatown (Big Wong King) where I discovered that it’s traditional to dip sweet (ngau lei sou) and savory (youtiao) fried dough (Chinese doughnuts!) into steaming bowls of congee. Heaven. So, so, so good.
Geoff, of course, has a whole different relationship with congee. He grew up eating excellent congee, both homemade and at amazing Toronto Chinese food restaurants (Congee Queen is one of his family’s long-time favorites). And it’s the dish that his mother would make whenever he was feeling under-the-weather — a warm, comforting, gentle-on-the-tummy porridge, Chinese comfort food at it’s best.
Traditionally, Geoff is the congee cooker in our family. He has several shortcut methods: 1) A pressure cooker version that makes a mess, and 2) A frozen rice version that takes some planning ahead. But when Geoff wasn’t feeling well last weekend, it was up to me to make him a batch of congee. Continue reading →
I don’t know a lot of words in Chinese or Cantonese, the language that Geoff’s family speaks. I’m notoriously bad at foreign languages. But I do know the words daan taat (Chinese egg tart), gai mei bao (sweet coconut buns translated as “cocktail buns“) and shumai (a delectable pork and shrimp dumpling). Seeing a trend here?
Well, along with my limited vocabulary of sweets and dumplings, I also know the word gai lan, or Chinese broccoli. This leafy Chinese green with thick stocks has been one of my favorites ever since I first tasted it a few years ago. I can eat a ton of gain lan. I always look for it on Chinese food restaurant menus, and I always try to grab some at the store if I’m planning on making Chinese food at home. Stir-fried with garlic and ginger it makes a simple, healthy side dish. Feel free to try this recipe with bok choy, choy sum or other Asian greens if you’re not able to find gai lan at your grocery store. Continue reading →
I know, I know, this soup really doesn’t look like much. That’s what I think every time I make this, but it’s also why I’m always so surprised when I take my first bite. Mmm, yes, lentils are good. They make amazing soup that’s healthy, filling, budget-friendly and delicious.
I always struggle with lunches. When I worked in an office building I usually bought my lunch (I miss Chelsea Market so much!), and one of my favorite lunch stops was Hale and Hearty Soups. You can always count on a humble cup of soup to make an easy, satisfying lunch. At home I make large batches of soup so I can freeze the leftovers in single serving containers (and ice cube trays for Zoe) — a perfect lunch solution. Continue reading →
I use boxed chicken stock all the time, but there’s no denying that homemade is both healthier and more tasty. And even if I’m somewhat reluctant to commit to making it, it’s really the easiest thing in the world. All the ingredients just get thrown in the pot and forgotten about for hours. Well, almost. The smell of it bubbling away on your stove is so alluring it’s better than any scented candle. Continue reading →
Have I mentioned how much I love simple, no-fuss cakes like this? I’ve had my eye on this Ina Garten Blueberry Crumb Cake recipe for years, and I finally got around to baking it for some friends. It’s simple yet elegant, equally as appropriate as a breakfast treat or as a dessert for a little get-together.
I was really surprised by the amount of crumb topping that gets piled onto this cake – it’s a legitimate, Jersey/New York-style crumb cake! With this crunchy, sweet crown, there’s no need for any embellishments after it’s baked. Just slice and serve. So easy. Continue reading →
If anyone should know that online recipes are fickle, fleeting and changing, it should be me. As a former online editor for several food websites, I know URLs are not permanent and access to favorite recipes is not guaranteed to last forever. So, that being said, I don’t know why I was so shocked when I did my normal google search for “my” banana bread recipe (actually an Emeril Lagasse recipe), the one I’ve been making for years, and it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Did I copy and paste it somewhere, did I save a file of it, did I print it out? No. All I had to go on was my habitual google search and a URL I dug up that led to a 404 error page.
But, it turns out I remembered a few of the key ingredients: vegetable oil, brown sugar and sour cream. (All combine to give this banana bread the moist richness that I fell in love with the first time I made it.) Searching through all the “Emeril” banana bread recipes out there, I thankfully found my match.
So here it is! I’m posting it here for me as much as for you — I’m not going to let this one get away again.