Category Archives: cooking

we are so close to wednesday!

FullSizeRender (10).jpgWhich brings us so close to Friday! A few things that I’m reading/eating/listening to this week:

Modern Love “Mom/Not Mom/Aunt”: All of the Modern Love podcasts are really strong, but this one made me stop in my tracks. It’s read by Jesse Tyler Ferguson (from Modern Family) – it’s about a couple who couldn’t have a baby the “old fashioned way” and the beautiful way their family came together. It’s been six years since the story was published in the Times and the author comes on at the end to give an update about their terrific kids. I may have cried (a few times).

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Planning our meals: Chris and I did some quick back-of-the-napkin Amex analysis this week and realized we spend FIVE TIMES the national average for a family of two at the grocery store. FIVE TIMES. FIVE. TIMES. So we are reigning in our bananas way of grocery shopping and starting to plan our meals. This is what we’re having this week:

Monday: Salmon (Chris also made a delish broccoli/cauliflower situation that I’m still dreaming about)

Tuesday: Roast Chicken

Wednesday: Turkey Burgers

Thursday: Sausage and Pasta

We haven’t figured out Friday yet but this is one small step for dinner, one giant leap for Dall’au kind.

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And a few other things:

  • Sometimes I forget what life was like before I worked in quarters. Q1 is ending this week and it seems pretty crazy – I can’t believe Q2 starts on Friday and we’ll already be in April.
  • Our deck project starts tomorrow, and I’m so very excited. Spring is just so close.

Happy almost Wednesday! xo

 

 

easter week 2016.

Hoppy Easter! I’ve been trying to make that phrase work all day but Christopher doesn’t think it’s catching on.

We had such a great day in Connecticut – brunch with my family at Valencia in Norwalk and a beautiful dinner with friends in Fairfield. We missed our families in Florida (they had pool parties!!!) but it was such a sweet day out here.

I’ll go backwards – this was this afternoon, our first Easter in our house!IMG_0171Chris won Easter this year – my dad and stepmom gave him outdoor speakers for our new deck! He was so pumped. IMG_0170Oh! So this was our dinner challenge. We both challenged each other with one ingredient (Chris challenged me with beets, I challenged him with cannellini beans) and we went to different grocery stores to come up with two surprise meals. Chris made this AMAZING cannellini bean, bacon and spinach side – we’re going to have to recreate this one. IMG_0169I wasn’t nuts about mine but will share in the name of the challenge! Mustard salmon on top of spinach salad with beets, oranges, walnuts and feta. It was ok, not great.IMG_0168More than ok: THE GINGER ROSEMARY MARGARITAS. THIS WAS LIFE CHANGING.IMG_0167Um we went to the beach but it was so cold. A little too cold for bare feet, but we managed. Donut Inn coffee = so good.IMG_0166WE ARE SO CLOSE TO PORCH SEASON!! The fabric samples come in this week and then we’ll really be in business!IMG_0165Took approximately 30 tries to get this girl to look at the camera.IMG_0164Best part: tush in the reflection.IMG_0163My hair is SO LONG it is in dangerous territory. Hair cut is on the agenda this week.IMG_0162This was Monday morning – and today was in the 50’s! The weather has been flip flopping for the past few weeks but I think we’re finally in the clear. IMG_0160I hope you had a great Easter with your family! xo

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rosemary ginger margaritas.

Chris and I are doing a DINNER CHALLENGE tonight where we give each other one ingredient to make a meal around. My challenge to him was cannellini beans and he challenged me with beets. Game. On. I’ll post about our creations tomorrow!

But for tonight…this is what we’re sipping on while we cook. Chris just made these up and they are my new favorite drink in the world.

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Rosemary Ginger Margaritas

For six servings:

  • 1 cup agave
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 springs rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons ginger paste (but we really like us some ginger)
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Tequila

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Boil the ingredients, aside from tequila, lemon, and lime, together for 15 minutes.
  • Cool for two hours.
  • Strain out the rosemary.
  • For each drink, you want two parts tequila, one part syrup. Add lemon, lime, plenty of ice, and a spring of rosemary.

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our favorite blue apron recipes.

 

One of the best parts of our Blue Apron subscription were the recipes that we shamelessly stole and still LOVE – even after we’ve stopped subscribing! There are three recipes that Chris and I memorized, tweaked slightly, and now make all the time. They are pretty easy formulas, we realized: all have seared chicken thighs (now a staple in our house!), a grain side with lots of texture, and a pan sauce.

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This Crispy Chicken Thighs with Kumquat Relish & Freekeh Salad recipe is an absolute favorite in our household. Chris even requested it for his birthday dinner (I requested it for my birthday as well). We sub freekeh for brown rice because freekeh is so expensive, and oranges for kumquats because we can never find them at the store. I think we would eat this 3x a week if we could.

IMG_4443This Crispy Chicken Thighs with Braised Lettuce, Kimchi & Maitake Mushrooms recipe kind of started the obsession for us and we make it a lot for guests – it’s really easy to grill the chicken thighs outside and prepare the mushroom pan sauce on the stove. It was a winning recipe from Top Chef, which I think is SO COOL, and it has three different kind of mushrooms. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and is a great weeknight meal. This is not the best picture I’ve ever taken, but I did want to get a quick snap so you could get an idea of the dish.

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And of course, the Oregano & Thyme Chicken with Brown Rice, Beets & Goat Cheese. When I make this I am so proud of myself, if I do say so – it’s a great dish with lots of textures and tons of healthy, good-for-you-without-tasting-good-for-you ingredients. Blue Apron really nails the crispy chicken thighs with the brown rice salad thing. Really nails it. I use short grain brown rice (which is such an indulgence because it’s like $8/bag vs. $2/bag for long grain) and it makes a huge difference.

Happy cooking! xo

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new years eve pizza party.

I want to start this post off with honesty, because that’s what a new year is all about:

This post features no pictures of pizza.

If you just want to leave now, I’ll understand. That’s your right. I’m posting about a New Years Eve pizza party and have the audacity to admit I didn’t take a photo of the finished product.

For those of you still with us, here we go:

We lined the table with kraft paper so that I could label the bonanza of toppings. To make it easy, we grilled the dough before everyone came over so we could just load up the toppings and toss the pizzas for a few minutes. If you think a similar situation would work for you, we heated up the grill to about 400 degrees, tossed paper-thin dough on top, and pulled them off after about two minutes on each side. Worked out really well!IMG_4359IMG_4360Not all of the toppings are out here, but I’m proud to admit we had eight kinds of cheese. I think we know who was in charge of toppings and who was in charge of display. IMG_4358The best part of the whole thing? The next morning we had the most bananas mimosa and thousand-topping omelette brunch!

Hope your new year is treating you well! xo

chocolate pecan bark.

My sister Sandy and my husband follow the same weird food Facebook pages – seriously, there are so many of them – so whenever she’s making something, he’s like, “I saw that online and I’ve been dying to try it!” They are food soul mates for sure.IMG_4384

Sandy made this bark over Christmas that wasn’t too sweet, wasn’t too salty, but was just the kind of thing you could munch on all day long. We don’t make a lot of bark down in Florida – we’re more of the “go to Williams Sonoma and pick up the peppermint bark that no one in our family actually likes but we all pretend to because it’s festive” type of folk. I think this bark changed our minds.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 tubes of saltine crackers (salted is best)
  • 2 sticks of butter (unsalted)
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp of light brown sugar
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cups toasted chopped pecans

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and non-stick cooking spray (4-Her hack: if you don’t have cooking spray, put a little butter on a paper towel and wipe down your pan – it works just fine)
  3. Line your crackers along the baking sheet
  4. In a saucepan, melt the butter on low. When that’s melted, add the brown sugar, bring it to medium, and whisk until it boils. Boil it for three minutes.
  5. Pour the butter/sugar mixture over your saltines evenly
  6. Put the sheet into the oven, baking for five minutes so that it all gels together
  7. When you remove the pan, add your chocolate chips and cover with tin foil for five minutes
  8. Remove the tin foil, spread the melted chocolate, and add your pecans
  9. Refrigerate covered with foil for two hours to set.IMG_4380

 

roasted vegetable rigatoni bake

After the post yesterday about “how much food I’ve been cooking”, I threw in the towel and told Chris I was NOT GOING TO BE COOKING TONIGHT. He said, “Okay great I’ll cook.” I said no – no one would be cooking. We were going to get take out from the grocery store like normal people do on Wednesday nights. He abstained, I bought a rotisserie chicken (“Do you even know what time that was made? It’s been sitting under lamps since 9 a.m.” – Food Snob Husband) and he, Food Snob that he is, ate a Domino’s pizza. It’s a glamorous life, folks.
But when we WERE cooking on weeknights (which we will commence on Friday – tonight we are going here for dinner and I am pumped to overload on complex carbs before the weekend), we made a little something like this – no meat, lots of veggies, and for CJ – three. kinds. of. cheese. Is cheese Christopher’s love language? Perhaps.Vegetable Lasagna

Roasted Vegetable Rigatoni Bake

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 bell peppers, sliced thin
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced thin
  • 2 yellow squash, sliced thin
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups tomato sauce (A quick 5 minute sauce: saute onions and garlic in olive oil, add salt and pepper, then add a large can of pureed tomatoes)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh shredded mozzarella
  • 8 oz ricotta
  • 1/2 cup of fresh grated parmesan
  • One box of whole wheat rigatoni

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Preheat your oven to 450
  • Line a baking tray with foil and lay your veggies on that. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a little Italian seasoning (if you have it!)
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15
  • While your veggies are cooking, heat up or make your sauce
  • Put on a large pot of water for pasta. When that has boiled, add your pasta and cook for 6 minutes – it should still be al dente when you take it off
  • When your veggies are done, transfer them to a large bowl. Add the drained pasta and sauce. Add a cup of mozzarella, the ricotta, and half of your parmesan
  • Scoop the mixture into a 15 X 10 baking pan. Top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
  • Cover with foil and cook for about 20 minutes at 450, or until the cheese is bubbling and brown.

Enjoy! xo

oregano & thyme chicken with brown rice, beets & goat cheese (because food is my love language)

I think I’ve always been a pretty okay cook – I follow directions well, like most type A people. This summer, I really dove head first into cooking. I’ve been kind of a maniac. Not saying it’s all been good, but I am saying there has been A LOT of fresh food in our house ALL OF THE TIME.

Maybe it was because it was the first few months in our new house with our new kitchen… but I really believe it’s because food is my love language. For someone who talks a lot, it’s really hard for me to put into words just how sad I am or how sorry I am that this all went down…but I’ve found that a nice baked pasta dish can heal a heart in ways words rarely can.

In my love language, this recipe was an all-out “race to Newark airport to stop you from getting on the plane to Paris.” I recreated one of the Blue Apron dishes, subbing with ingredients that we had on hand or were readily available (za’atar is hard to find in CT!). IMG_1419It’s really just a fancy chicken and rice dish – aside from grilling the chicken and cooking the rice, it requires only about ten minutes of prep. And it’s pretty freaking delish.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A generous amount of thyme and oregano for the chicken
  • A mix of chicken breasts and thighs (about a pound left us with generous leftovers for the week)
  • 3 cups short grain brown rice (DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE MAGIC OF SHORT GRAIN BROWN RICE. I WILL PAY WHATEVER IT COSTS. IT IS SO WORTH IT.)
  • 2 fist fulls of arugula, finely chopped
  • beets, peeled and chopped
  • shallot, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pistachios 
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
  • fresh mint (chopped)

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Boil water for the rice and a small pot of salted water for the beets.
  2. Thoroughly dry your chicken with paper towels. Season with salt, pepper, thyme and oregano on both sides.
  3. Cook your rice (I added a smidge of olive oil and Earth Balance). Short grain brown rice usually takes between 20-25 minutes.
  4. When your second pot is boiling, add your chopped beets. Cook for 12-14 minutes, then strain in a colander and rinse under cool water to stop them from cooking.
  5. Add your beets, shallot and red wine vinegar in a small bowl to marinate.
  6. Grill your chicken – we used a stovetop grill pan which worked really well. They took about 6-8 minutes per side (but of course – depends on the thickness of the bird!). Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.
  7. When your rice is finished cooking, add the arugula and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Plate your meal! Lay your grilled chicken over the rice, then top with your beet salad, crumbled goat cheese, pistachios and mint.

Enjoy! xo

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mustard maple salmon

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Amy brought this mustard maple marinade into my life and I will never be the same. I quadrupled the batch and now have a jar full of it in my fridge. Last night we had it over barbecued chicken thighs (oh my freaking god); I had it over turkey burgers on Monday night, over salmon on Tuesday night (recipe below), and I am sincerely confused (befuddled?) about how I lived without this for so long. Chris is bananas for it since there is rosemary (I could put rosemary on anything and CJ would deem it his favorite) –  It’s so easy, you can’t mess it up, and you probably already have 2/3 of the ingredients in your fridge! I made this for dinner just for me, so adjust the recipe accordingly if you aren’t eating alone watching Bravo.  IMG_3909

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Salmon filets (I usually do a half pound per person)
  • Minute brown rice (I wish I cooked a fancier rice! I really do! This one has quinoa and brown rice mixed together)
  • For the marinade:
    • grainy brown mustard (we used horseradish, and it was delish!)
    • lemon zest
    • maple syrup
    • rosemary

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Cook your rice to the package specifications (I add Earth Balance, a little olive oil and salt).
  2. Heat your grill and oil the grates. Pat your salmon dry and add a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. When it is good and hot, put your salmon on face down. Flip after three minutes.
  4. While your salmon is cooking, make your “marinade”: three parts maple syrup, four parts horseradish mustard, zest of the lemon and rosemary leaves to taste.
  5. Flip your salmon again. After three minutes, check for doneness.
  6. Put your rice in a bowl with the salmon on top, drizzle the marinade and extra rosemary leaves. Enjoy!

I’m telling you – easy peasy lemon squeezy and LIFE CHANGING. I want to carry the marinade in my purse with me wherever I go forever and always. xo

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Tomatoes Stuffed With Sausages, Rice and Cheese

One of my best pals came to visit last weekend, and I grilled her on her go-to recipes. She’s one of the best cooks I know, so whenever we are together I try to steal (lovingly borrow?) what’s new in her repertoire so that I can shamelessly call it my own.

These tomatoes are a modified version of Mark Bittman’s. When I made them, Chris asked, “Why I was being so nice to him.”

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He lives a TORTURED life normally. Anyway, he loved these so much he said that he will “request them on his birthday.” They are actually easy peasy lemon squeezy to make (and you could do a whole SLEW of fun stuff inside), so I don’t think he will have to wait until January to have them again.

Tomatoes Stuffed With Sausages, Rice and CheeseIMG_3840

You’ll need:

  • 4-6 firm tomatoes
  • 16 oz spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (I added a little Earth Balance, salt and olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Smidge of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Chopped basil

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Heat the oven to 450.
  2. Slice off 1/4 from the smooth end of the tomato (where it attached to the vine). Reserve those slices. Scoop out the fleshy inside of the tomato, leaving a wall.
  3. Discard the center and seeds, but chop up the pulp .
  4. Mix the pulp with the sausage, rice, garlic, salt and pepper, and half of the mozzarella.
  5. Salt and pepper the inside of the tomatoes and stuff with the sausage mixture. Top with the rest of the cheese, a little balsamic and breadcrumbs. Add the top slices back on.
  6. Spread half of the olive oil in a baking pan and lay your tomatoes there. Salt and pepper those bad boys.
  7. Cook for 30-40 minutes, checking that the sausage is no longer pink before you remove. Add fresh basil right before serving.
  8. Enjoy!

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