cauliflower with anchovies

Hurricane Irene came barreling up the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast this past weekend. I live in the New York metropolitan area, and we braced ourselves for the heavy rains, storm surges, flooding and power outages. 

For the latter, that meant freezer diving. I wanted to rid ourselves of what we were stockpiling, just in case the power was out for days. The Kids were laughing that I was force feeding them ice cream. "Do I HAVE to eat more Mango Sorbet?" We ate through frozen pizzas, mini crab cakes, tacos, fish sticks... you get the idea.

What I did manage to cook from scratch were some vegetables, and not just any veggies, but one of the Top Three on The Kids' Fave Veggie Dish List. It may be hard to imagine that



cinnamon raisin quinoa

You're probably looking at this picture and thinking, where's the butter? You know I'm all for rich and creamy, but man, the effects of butter on my body in the past year... I'm starting to think that "moderation and healthful" need to enter into my vocabulary.

My beloved breakfast bagel (cinnamon raisin with a shmear of cream cheese) has always left me shaky, with a huge blood sugar drop around 10 AM. Though I still indulge just once in awhile, I'm trying to change and balance carbs with a bit of protein. I've been looking for something beyond the predictable egg and breakfast bacon.

Enter QUINOA, pronounced keen-wah. Although it looks and acts like a grain, it's a relative of spinach and swiss chard and is the seed of the quinoa plant. Quinoa is an excellent source of complete protein; it contains all nine essential amino-acids. It also is high in magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and iron. The grain-like seed is nutty, fluffy and slightly crunchy. It cooks up like rice does, taking about 15 minutes per 1 cup.


braised chicken thighs with castelvetrano olives & toasted almonds

I love having yearly Sister Visits. She is a teacher in Northern California, which means when she flies to NJ in the summertime, it's for an extended period of time. We share a love of food and trying out new dishes. This summer, she brought along this recipe, created by the owner of Barbacco, a trattoria in San Francisco. 

 Lots of garlic, to be simmered in olive oil

Bright green Castelvetrano olives

 Toasted Marcona almonds

Savory elements of the braising liquid


arnold palmer sangria

I love a good sangria, even with my allergies to red wine (We're talking itchy palms and coughing! Yes, I suffer for a bit of boozy refreshment.) So when finding this recipe while browsing FoodNetwork.com, I was very excited. I love the combination of iced tea and lemonade (hello, Arnold Palmer!) and then, with a bit of citrusy pinot grigio thrown in, this becomes a lovely grownup bbq drink. 

Arnold Palmer Sangria
slightly adapted from Food Network.com

2 cups sweetened iced tea
2 cups lemonade
2 cups pinot grigio
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Combine the iced tea, lemonade, and pinot grigio in a large pitcher. Add the lemon and lime slices and chill for two hours. Serve chilled over ice.


rosemary olive oil focaccia

photos courtesy of The Son

The Daughter has baked this bread twice for us, and it always disappears within 24 hours. Freshly baked bread is a luxury unto itself. Nothing quite beats the experience of cutting a slice of hot bread, slathering it with butter, and biting into a crisp-chewy fragrant bit of heaven.

It's amazing that so few ingredients yield such wonderful, tasty results. You need a bit of time to let the dough rest and rise; otherwise, the actual hands-on time is minimal. You can prepare the dough a day or two in advance, as it keeps well in the fridge for 2 days or so. Just be sure to deflate it by punching it down if you don't use it the next day. Give it a try and tell me what you think!


a "me" day- part II

... this is a continuation from the previous post...

Third stop: Billy's Bakery

Billy's is a happy place. The yellow and green colors are reminiscent of another era.


a "me" day

Everyone needs a "me" day, a day when you get to do whatever you want, unencumbered by the usual responsibilities of life.

What would your day look like? Would it be a day spent jumping the waves at the beach? Reading fireside? Hiking in the forest? Relaxing in a spa?

My "me" day was this past Monday, which found me walking the streets of Manhattan on a mini bakery tour. (Mini here means "not full-fledged", as I was limited in both time and, more unfortunately, stomach space.)


risotto with asparagus and pancetta

It's been well over a decade since I tried my hand at risotto. Perhaps I've been intimidated with the "stir constantly" instructions. (Too impatient.) Perhaps I'm not a big fan of rice. (Not connected with my cultural heritage.) Perhaps I didn't appreciate the oatmeal consistency... well, whatever the reasons were, they no longer exist. Thanks to Dear Sister, who found the cookbook, Bistro Laurent Tourondel: New American Bistro Cooking, I surely will make this dish again and again.


crème brûlée {bwd}

I have high blood pressure. And it's not because The DH and I just argued. My mom had it, I do, too, and so I'm on a mix of meds which have been helping. The million dollar question is this: Do I really want to be taking medication for the next forty years of my life?

The California Girlfriend (now Southern Belle) advised me to give up wheat.

Cough. What? Wheat? You're kidding me. My first thought was what would happen to my blog? My baking? No cookies? No cakes?

I am still figuring out when and if I can do the no-wheat-thing for a month, but if I do, I will definitely be eating this when I want a decadent dessert. (Let's not consider what happens with the cholesterol numbers.)

Creamy, smooth, crunchy, caramelized. I love taking the spoon and cracking the brûlée top. I love the interplay of textures—warm, hard crust atop the cold, soft cream. I love minimal effort for maximum impact. This is a dessert that delivers.

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