Tuesday, January 31, 2012

green juice

this juice is magic
how could I possibly eat all these veggies in one day?!

our juicer is easy enough
for the kids to help with
I feel like I have been hearing stories about green juice ... and seeing pictures of green juice online ... more than ever before.  Looking back, the first time I remember hearing about this 'elixer of life', this 'key to the cleanse', was while watching a 'New Year: New You' type of episode on Martha Stewart back in 2007.

Since then, I have been pining away for a juicer.
(Only the best for Martha, her juicer was a little more than I wanted to invest.) Thanks to the generous reviews, I found a great juicer on Amazon for a reasonable price.   It's what I consider 'entry-level' and doesn't leave much fiber ... but I confess I find the juice more palatable that way.

So we took the plunge and I'm hooked.  We make juice 4 or 5 times a week.  It's not a fast ... just a supplement to what we already make in the morning.

The kids really love a pear and apple combination, so I begin there and then finish with extra veggies and herbs.  Maybe it will keep the winter colds at bay?

this is the pear-apple combo I serve the boys
Green Juice
My favorite morning combination

1 handful of spinach (kale or dandelion greens work, too)
1 organic pear
1 organic granny smith apple
(I take out two small servings for the kids at this point)
1/2 a cucumber
2 stalks celery
1 handful of parsley
(sometimes I add mint or dill if I have it on hand)
1 lemon, rind removed
1" piece of ginger

Delicious! (And I really notice a difference in my skin!)

If there are any juicers out there - let me know your favorites!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

product parade: cheese grater

a favorite kitchen toy - Alessi's cheese grater

As kitchen accessories go, I love to look but must buy with caution.  Our storage is sparse so any tool must serve multiple purposes or be high-frequency in its use. Alessi's hand held cheese grater has graced my kitchen for many years.  It's been used by all members of our family and some helpful friends. This little gem has only one purpose but is a work horse in our cheese-loving family.

A favorite purchase on a trip to San Francisco (oh, so many moons ago), this grater is easy to hold, perfect for engaging young helpers.  It's cheerful design graces our table on pasta nights and  I have been know to put it in the fridge with leftover cheese for use the next morning in a fritata.

Red is a signature color in our kitchen!
Do you and your family have a favorite kitchen tool?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

menu: ethan's birthday

Today we celebrate Ethan! In the spirit of 'It takes a village', today we'll tell tales of dear friends and family and how they played a part of Ethan's birth.  Ethan arrived early; his due date was Valentine's Day.  As you might imagine, this lends a comical air to the stories --- Marjorie's 'midnight ride' to Georgetown Hospital, Ryan's first ever sleepover with Danny, Jeff leaving MBA classes at Georgetown (how convenient!) to meet me, Jeff and I finally agreeing on his name in the halls of Labor and Delivery, Nancy's rescue and sleepover with us at the hospital, Debra's triage and the mass goldfish funeral, Nana's week of carpool to Montessori (driving DC rotaries - so brave!) and the Hogan's arrival during one of DC's most memorable blizzards.  Whew!

So many of our loved ones have winter birthdays so we try to celebrate over cozy dinners.  I can't think of anything more memorable than laughter and loved ones together to share good food and great times.  We'll be sure to post more pictures of the food and preparations later this week!

PS.  In case you're hungry for a cozy celebration of your own, here are links to two of our favorites:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

cilantro mayo

Cilantro Mayo - spices things up a bit!

Time to jazz up our crudite platter with new flavor, so I adapted the Cilantro Mayonaise from the original South Beach Diet book.  (The herb flecks and green color are reminiscent of our Divine Dressing - but the flavor is completely different!) This bright and spicy condiment pairs nicely with an Asian or Southwestern inspired dinner.  Watch those veggies disappear!

Cilantro Mayo
adapted from the South Beach Diet Book

Blitz the following ingredients in your food processor:

1 clove of garlic
1/4 c Greek Yogurt
1/4 c Mayonaise
1 avocado
juice of 1 lime
1 t soy sauce
1/2 t cumin
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed (keep if you want it super spicy)
3/4c cilantro leaves, loosely packed
1 scallion, roughly chopped

Tip:  I reserve 3 T of the dip for later.  Whisk with 1/4 c buttermilk for salad dressing!  

Fantastically fast to assemble!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

pumpkin muffins

Warm and cozy breakfast!

On our first snowy morning of the new year, I felt ambitious enough to bake these pumpkin muffins. We found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen - easy, moist and the cinnamon sugar topping makes them extra special! 

Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from the American club, in Kohler, Wisconsin via Gourmet Magazine


1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15 ounce can)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
2 large eggs
1 t pumpkin-pie spice*
1 c sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
cinnamon sugar for topping (or 1 t cinnamon + 1 T sugar)

*you can make this at home with 1/2t cinnamon, 1/4 t ginger + 1/8 each nutmeg and cloves  - 'Thank you' to my DF Karen for this wonderful tip!


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or line muffin pan.

2.  Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, spice, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl (or the bowl of your standing mixer).  

3.  Combine the flour and baking powder.  Incorporate into the wet ingredients.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups (about 3/4 full). Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

4.  Bake about 25-30 minutes (use wooden toothpicks to determine doneness). 

5.  Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then on a rack until room temperature.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

chocolate chip scones

The cold weather this week seeped into my very bones. Craving something warm and slightly sweet to accompany a pot of mint green tea ... scones to the rescue.  Scones are wonderfully simple sweet treats.  I've served them for breakfast, tea & dessert.

They are easy to assemble and by the time your pot of tea is steeped you are in business.  Thanks to my helper, Miss Eva!  Her enthusiasm for tea time is an inspiration!  This recipe begs to be made unique with your favorite ingredients (dried cherries, pecans, pistachios, cranberries, etc.). I'll be making more with my boys and their cousins soon!

(Tried posting the directions a little differently this time!)

warm scones, strawberry jam, butter ... time for tea!
Chocolate Chip Scones
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 c flour
3 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
5 T butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 c whipping cream
1/2 c mini chocolate chips (optional, can make plain or substitute dried fruit, diced small)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

 Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk to evenly distribute.

Cut the cold butter into small pieces.

Cut into the dry ingredients.  (You can use knives or a pastry cutter.)
Gently add 3/4 c + 2 T whipping cream and the chocolate chips just until the dry ingredients are wet.

 Put on a cutting board and pat into a 7" disk.  Brush with cream, sprinkle with a small bit of sugar if you like.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.  I rotate mine at the halfway point. Serve with jam, butter, whipping cream ... and if you like, a spot of tea.

Monday, January 9, 2012

homage to Nancy: maryland crab soup

Birthday Homage to Nancy Siegel
Spicy Goodness!

Today's post features one of my favorite flavor cravings - Old Bay Seasoning.  We lived on the Chesapeake Bay during my adolescence so I am blessed with a trove of happy seafood memories ... pulling crab pots from the pier, chicken-necking in a quiet cove from a small boat, dragging our 'haul' up the hill, making a fragrant bath over the stove in our garden shed, laying newspaper on the picnic table, emptying a bushel of spice-covered crabs, cracking them open, pitchers of iced tea, packages of Saltines, busy fingers, the hum of happy conversation and debate ... I can almost taste it.

Later, while living in Baltimore, I developed a friendship with a remarkable woman, Nancy Siegel.  Nancy's vitality and passion made her a mentor for many and I have been blessed by knowing her and her family.  We shared heartfelt conversations and memorable moments, many taking place over a table covered in brown paper and the remnants of a happy meal of steamed crabs.  These outings were a kind of evolution from girl-time in college ... to what would be my adult version of 'girls' night out'. Intimate conversations over dinner with Nancy almost always began with a bowl of Maryland Crab Soup.

Channeling one of my most treasured friends on her birthday, I embarked on this Southern Maryland tradition and it was a great mood booster! Even though we live far away from each other and it has been years since we shared a meal of this regional favorite, our friendship is a foundation of the woman I am today.  So this post celebrates Nancy and the amazing stories we've shared together.  Happy Birthday, Nancy!

Maryland Crab Soup
adapted from Saveur

1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
pinch of kosher salt
2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 c green beans, trimmed into 1" pieces
1/2 head of cabbage, diced
1 c frozen corn kernels
1 c frozen peas
1 package frozen lima beans
4 T Worcestshire Sauce
2 T Old Bay Seasoning
1.5 T dry mustard
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed with your fingers
7+ c water (I filled the tomato can 3 times)
2 bay leaves
1 lb jumbo crab meat
s/p to taste


1. Heat a large soup pot.  Drizzle evoo to cover the  bottom and saute the onion over medium heat with a pinch of kosher salt. While it softens, chop the remaining fresh vegetables and add to the pot as you go.

2.  Now add your frozen veggies and the seasonings: Worcestshire sauce, Old Bay, dry mustard, and pepper flakes.  Stir distribute and let the flavors meld (1-2 minutes) before adding the tomatoes.  I crush & tear with my hands. You could also use diced tomatoes.

3.  Add the water (you could use broth - but the soup has great flavor without it), bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Taste - add salt and pepper as needed and make sure potatoes are cooked through.  Then add your crabmeat.

4.  Simmer for another 15 minutes or so and serve.  I like mine with a few Saltines.  Jeff likes his with some Goldfish floating on top.

5.  This batch is huge - share with friends! Enjoy!

Friday, January 6, 2012

friday field trip: wellesley

my favorite lunch bite ... roasted beets with grana padano

After a 'holiday hiatus', friends helped me ressurect my wellness Rx - the Friday Field Trip.  Many thanks to Jen and Anne for our escape to Wellesley, MA.  Named after the college that lies at its heart, (and Jen's alma mater) this beautiful town boasts a healthy business community with delightful shops and restaurants. Here are some pics of our favorite stops along the way.


Amazing Cheese Shop - closed for winter holiday! Shucks!
No worries though, they reopen next week.

location closing (don't despair - downtown Boston is thriving)
 ... beautiful bargains

toys for all ages -- baby to teens!

Jen's College Job!
Fashion for kids -
that you'll pass down through generations

First Communion Shopping?  Must hit Abigail's!!!

the tapas were pre-made (and a little cold) - but the salad was delish!

The Paper Source, Wellesley
(Valentine Supply Shopping!)
happily using my new embossing supplies 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

10 loves: Culinary Resolutions

cookies from sweetsugarbelle.com truly inspire
time for New Year's Resolutions - the fun kind!
I confess I love new beginnings, clean slates, resolutions - the whole bit.  Lists have made me happy for as long as I can recall.  And yes, I am one of those sick twists who will put an item on a list just to cross if off.  :)

With that, let me share my ...

culinary resolutions for 2012

1. Master a few recipes that begin with dried beans.

2. Plant a small kitchen garden this spring. (Keep it alive all summer.)

3. Make a chocolate souffle.

4.  Eat at L'Espalier.

5.  Do a food tour in NYC.

6. Get my knives professionally sharpened.

7.  Make a rolled cake.

8.  Make spaetzle.

9.  Take a class at Stir.

10.  Make a pie from scratch (the crust will be the kicker here).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

spatchcock chicken

Quick, juicy & flavorful - weeknight chicken!
Roasted Chicken is a snap, even on a weeknight, when you use the spatchcock technique.  This centuries old method for preparing fowl, removes the backbone of the bird to reduce cooking time. (Grab your heavy-duty kitchen shears for this task.) Flattening the fowl over the heat source cuts cooking time in half and I promise - it yields a juicy bird.  Martha Stewart gives a little demo and some grilling ideas at this link.

Mad Hungry's recipe is super simple with loads of flavor.  (We love this cookbook by Lucinda Scala Quinn.) During prep, I always ask for a little assistance with seasoning the bird. With messy hands, I relied on Ryan to snap pictures. (Thanks, Ryan!)

Be bold - give this method a try.  We've used it on turkey, too!

Shout-out to Alyssa - Thank you for the italian salt with black garlic; it made this chicken spectacular!

Spatchcock Chicken
adapted from Mad Hungry's 
Flat Roasted Chicken


1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs, backbone removed
salt & pepper (you can use your favorite salts or seasoning here)
1 T evoo
1 T butter

** My kids like it plain with a little salt and pepper at the table.  But you can make a light gravy with the juice of 1 lemon and a pinch of red pepper flakes added to the juices.  Just whisk together and drizzle over the carved chicken pieces.

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Use your kitchen shears to remove the backbone of the chicken.  (I reserve mine in a large freezer bag; when it is full, I make broth.)

2.  Open the chicken's legs and season with salt and pepper.  Flip and repeat on the other side.

3.  Heat an ovenproof skillet (cast iron is our favorite!) on your stove top.  Add 1 T of butter and a little evoo.  Place your chicken inside, skin side down. Rest for 3 minutes to brown.  Turn the chicken over - use a wide spatula - try not to break the skin!

4.  Place your chicken in the middle of your preheated oven (My birds usually take 40-45 minutes.) to finish cooking.  You are looking for an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

5.  Remove from the oven. Rest the bird on a cutting board for 10 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

tortellini soup

Tortellini Soup
flavorful broth & green veggies

Making a quick soup with tortellini and broth is a favorite weekend fix.  Cold winter weather is finally settling in to our New England town and this lunch satisfies a busy, hungry crowd. You can keep it simple with just pasta, broth and a handful of fresh herbs.  Or you can deepen the flavor and increase the nutritional value with extra veggies.  

This is a quick pantry meal you'll definitely repeat!

with these staples, soup is on!


1 t butter
1 anchovie, minced (optional)**
1/2 onion, diced
1 shallot diced
32 oz chicken broth
3 c water
2 bay leaves
1/2 t salt
2 c chopped veggies (asparagus, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, pears)
1 package tortellini (pick your favorite)

mince your anchovies before adding to the pan

See how the anchovies melt and dissolve in the butter?!
Tips: ** A word about anchovies.  Not everyone cares for them.  My recipes work without them but when I have them in the refrigerator, I use them.  No one in our family likes to eat them whole - so I use them when I can make them 'disappear' into a sauce, a soup or a dip.  They add another flavor dimension.


1. While you warm a soup pot with the evoo and butter inside, mince one anchovie filet (if using) and dice your onion and shallot.  Add both the onion and shallot to the pan, saute for 5 minutes over medium heat, until the onion is translucent. You're not looking to brown them.

2. If you are using carrots and celery, add them at this time.  Chop your veggies while you watch the saute pan. I prefer bite-size pieces (1" or so).  I used broccoli and asparagus today because they were in the crisper.  I've also used green beans, frozen peas, carrots and celery.

3. Once the onion is translucent, (and your carrots and celery have softened) add the broth, water and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.

4. Check your tortellini package for cooking time.  My package said 4-6 minutes.  (You'll want the soup to be finished when the tortellini are cooked through.  My broccoli and asparagus need a little extra time so I added them first.)  Add the veggies, turn down the heat to simmer.  I gave my veggies 2 minutes and then added the tortellini.

5.  I use this time to prepare small salami sandwiches.  A little cheese on top and a couple minutes under the broiler - yum!

6. Once the tortellini are cooked - you are ready to serve.  Warm, comforting, yummy!

Soup with salami sandwiches - Delish!