All posts filed under: Food & Recipes

Easy Recipes for Fancy Toast (Yes, Including Avocado)

There’s really no easier meal than toast. All you need is a piece of bread and a toaster, right? Technically yes, but it can, and should, be so much more than just a piece of bread. Toast toppings are just about endless, and whether you prefer a sweet or savory breakfast there’s a way for everyone to enjoy it. You can pretty much top a slice of toast with anything you have in your fridge already, it’s the combination of ingredients that may be new to you. Nothing complicated, nothing too fancy, no extra frills needed. You can prepare the rest of the ingredients in the time the bread is toasting for a five minute breakfast that’s easy, healthy and delicious. Remember though, toast doesn’t only have to be for breakfast. These make great snacks and even a light lunch with something extra on the side. Feed more than yourself with a “Toast Bar” and lay out multiple topping options for everyone to create their favorite combination. Let’s toast to toast!! Blueberry Cream Toast What …

Pumpkin Pie Cookies for Those Who Want to Eat a Whole Pumpkin Pie

I’m a firm believer in cooking things from scratch, except when it comes to baking. Boxed cake mix is my best friend, as are those break-and-bake cookies and pop-open cinnamon rolls. I am, however, always looking for new ways to make my pre-made baking look fabulous and homemade. (Because no one has to know my secrets!) Autumn is my favorite time to experiment with baking. It’s cooling down just enough that you want to warm your house up by turning on the oven, and everybody is talking about their love of pumpkin — pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pasta and, of course, pumpkin pie. These Pumpkin Pie Cookies are just the right portion of pie to pop one or two in your mouth (if you can stop there!) and feel satisfied. They pack a whole lot of flavor in a little bite AND look super fancy while being incredibly easy to make. Just cut, fill and bake. Make a batch for your Friendsgiving dinner or gift a dozen to your kid’s teachers. These mini …

Can We Please Stop Talking About Kale Now?

I’m here with a simple request: Can people who talk about kale please stop talking about kale? Don’t get me wrong. I like kale. I buy it. I eat it. I’ve bookmarked kale juice recipes, emailed them to myself, printed them out, and then immediately hated myself for doing that. Because if my teenaged Taco-Bell-loving-self could step into a time machine and visit me now, she’d shame-slap the shit out of me for being the type of stereotypical Brooklynite who cops to juicing kale. But at least — at LEAST —  I can safely say I’m NOT the kind of person who talks about kale. I don’t care if that sounds like reverse snobbism. Because this whole kale situation is completely and utterly out of control, and it’s time someone said something. [pullquote] Talking about kale is the new talking about “crowdsourcing” or “Ted Talks.” It’s the new asshole status symbol.[/pullquote] If you fawn and gush and coo ad nauseam over kale like it’s your twin sister’s newborn or an adorable kitten, you’re most certainly an asshole. If you steer …

We’re Hungry For: Deviled Eggs

You have extra hard boiled eggs right about now, I can tell. Let’s make a delicious snack. Helen Jane’s Deviled Eggs Ingredients 6 hard boiled eggs 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 slices bacon 1 tablespoon minced parsley Directions 1. Cut the 4 slices of bacon into tiny, bacon bit sized pieces and brown in a pan. When cooked through and crispy, drain on paper towels. Taste three bacon bits because you deserve it. 2. Peel hard boiled eggs and slice them the long way, narrow top to bottom. 3. Pop the yellow yolks into a medium bowl and mash firmly until the consistency of damp yellow sulphury sand. Add mayonnaise, mustard and salt and stir through. 4. Also to your bowl, add 3/4 of your bacon bits and 3/4 of your minced parsley. Stir through. 5. Put mixture into a large plastic bag and snip off a corner, piping the mixture back into the empty holes of the hard boiled egg where the yolks used to be. 6. Sprinkle …

A Chef Shares Her Favorite Food Gifts

Are you inundated with Gift Guides? Yeah, probably. But are you inundated with gift ideas that follow my golden rule: “Give the gift that you would most like to receive?” Probably not. Well, this is that guide. For the chef, home cook, food aficionado, or just plain eater in your life. I would be completely happy to receive any and/or all of these gifts. So you know they are for real. 1. Spices from La Boite Tucked behind a nondescript storefront way over on Eleventh Avenue in NYC is the magical land of La Boite Epices. Chef, owner, and spice blender Lior Lev Sercarz is an absolute alchemist, and the magic he creates in his beautifully packaged spice blends will blow you away. They make all other spice blends I have ever seen seem amateur. Rub a simple roast chicken with his Vadouvan mix and it becomes crispy, lightly curried skin with a hint of Herbs de Provence. His Ararat No. 35 is a smoky blend of Urfa Pepper, Smoked Paprika, and aromatic Fenugreek. His …

Gifts for Coffee Lovers

Coffee can become a big part of your life when you quit drinking. It certainly has for me and many of my sober friends. Surely you, too, have coffee lovers in your life. Here, I’ve rounded up some snazzy gifts for them, from a monogrammed mug to an amazing body scrub to a fancy-schmancy French press, there’s no shortage of goods for the caffeine-inclined. 1. Death Wish Coffee For the seriously addicted. Behold: the world’s strongest coffee. $20, deathwishcoffee.com   2. Monogrammed Travel Mug This sturdy, stainless steel mug is perfect for those who take their coffee on the road. The monogrammed top adds a nice personalized touch. $30, gifttree.com   3. Starbucks Home for the Holidays Gift Basket Give that Starbucks-obsessed best friend a huge holiday treat with three blends that can be enjoyed at home. It’s also packed with gingerbread biscotti, a caramel wafer, hot cocoa and more. $50, ftd.com   4. The World’s Finest Collection of Coffee Beverages Poster A really cool poster that’s perfect for the kitchen (it includes quick recipes!). $25, etsy.com   5. Cool Beans …

Gifts For the Multi-Cultural-Minded Foodie

Mash-Up Americans love food. Really, really, really love food. It’s how we explore and express our identities. It’s how we bring our families and friends together. So what better way to celebrate the Holidays than with a guide from our Mash-Up Kitchen to Yours. Here’s a list of absolute must-haves! 1. Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer Rice is the staple of many cuisines. Also, it’s so delicious and we eat it at every meal. A rice cooker makes perfect rice and needs no tending to. Arroz for all! $139, amazon.com 2. Wei Kitchen Shallot Oil & Amber Vinegar  This wonderful new company is creating artisan Vietnamese-inspired products. They’ve started with the Amber Vinegar & Shallot Oil that Vietnamese-Chinese-Jewish-American Founder Debbie grew up making at home. You know that vinegar that comes when you order bun? Who wouldn’t love to pour that on everything? $32 for a gift set, $10 for a sample pack, weikitchen.com 3. Stainless Steal Spoon (Sudgarak) and Chopsticks It’s just better to eat with the long handled spoon and the stainless steel chopsticks that …

The Best Happy, Healthy-ish Birthday Cake Ever

Happy Birthday, TueNight! You’ve made it through year one, which in web years is a mighty accomplishment. Your birthday celebration would be incomplete without cake. To get this party started, I’m sharing a recipe from the KOD vault that has figured into sundry momentous occasions over the years. [pullquote]“The Bundt is an emblem of kinder, gentler times, when school bake sales were legal and somebody’s mother would cut one into hunks and call it “coffee cake.”[/pullquote] Break out that Bundt pan that’s been collecting dust; you’re going to need it (and if you live in a Bundt-free zone, you can pick up one secondhand at your neighborhood thrift shop for just a few bucks). For newbies, a Bundt pan is deep and round with lots of ridges but best defined by its middle chimney which leaves a hole in the center of a cake. The Bundt is an emblem of kinder, gentler times, when school bake sales were legal and somebody’s mother would cut one into hunks and call it “coffee cake.” It might have …

Taste-Testing Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups — Because I Can

I’m not sure that the consumption of dark chocolate peanut butter cups is quite a vice, but some days when I’m really focused on devouring them, I have to admit it all feels a little shady. My sugar consumption has ramped up since I got sober last year. My body was suddenly robbed of all of the sugar in wine and, um, whatever else I could find. I discovered cupcakes first. I swore that my suddenly very smart car started driving itself directly to the cupcake store. I was so embarrassed by this that I called a friend to discuss it. What adult woman needs a daily cupcake (or three)? Who checks the flavors on Facebook at a specific cupcake store because if you ask for the secret one they’ll give it to you like it’s your birthday? Who considers an empty parking space on a busy street directly in front of the cupcake store a sign from her higher power that she is meant to have one? Who goes broke buying fancy cupcakes — …

School Lunch Advice From Your Older Sis

Hiya, Little Sis! How’s tricks? I was thinking about you today while standing in line to sign up for next year’s summer camp. (We’re doing this awesome Lego/Robotics/Stanford-prep thing that I should totally tell you about.) I can’t believe your little guy — my sweet nephew — starts preschool this week. Reminds me when my girls were just starting, before second grade took its toll. Oh, the salad years! I realized there’s a whole school lunch scene that’s kind of intense that you may not know about, and I thought I could give you some advice. I mean, it’s really different from when we were growing up. And since I live in Brooklyn, we’re kind of on the frontlines of a lot of school lunch trends, so maybe my experience can be useful here? I wrote down some stuff for you. 1. Dad makes the lunch. If I were to tell you only one thing, it would be this. These days, that’s his job. I know that’s a little weird because your husband travels a …

Recipes: Fancy S’mores, Cowboy Beans & Tamara’s Treat

All recipes serve six people. COWBOY BEANS These beans are a variation on a special-occasion go-to at my house: “Borracho,” or drunken beans. They are full of smoky flavor and can be as spicy as you choose. INGREDIENTS (2) 14.5 oz cans pinto beans (1) cups water Olive oil (1) large onion (4) cloves garlic (1) tablespoons ground cumin (1) 14 oz can diced tomatoes (1) 7.5 oz can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (1) 12 oz can of beer — cheap is fine DIRECTIONS Drain the pinto beans and pour them into a 3- or 4-quart saucepan. Rough dice the onion and garlic. They don’t have to be perfect or uniform, just cut into small pieces so they can melt into the beans. Pour a glug of olive oil into a medium size frying pan. Sauté the onion, garlic and cumin on medium high until onions are translucent — about 6 minutes. Keep them moving with a wooden spoon to make sure they don’t fry or crisp up. Add the sautéed onions, the can …

How to Find the Best Second-Hand Culinary Items

Occasionally, I fantasize about getting out of the incredibly competitive racket that is food writing. I’d put my second-hand shopping gene into high gear and hang a different kind of shingle — as a local merchant. The shop would stock gently used kitchenware and cookbooks. There might be a small lunch counter serving strong coffee, grilled cheese, soup of the day and a really good cookie. First person I’d hire is my mom, a former antiques shopkeeper and the subject of “Confessions of a Garage Sale Addict,” an April 1973 story that ran in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Susan wasn’t much of a cook (I’m working on it), but she was and remains a master at spotting the choicest relics from a second-hand/vintage haystack. It takes a special kind of crazy to bring home a 500-pound oak icebox for display in the living room. Together, we’d comb the world of fleas, estates, garages, attics and basements for all things culinary and kitchen-y to fill the shelves. But we’re a picky pair; we’d buy as if outfitting …

Tasty Life: You Gotta Meet My Girl, Za’atar

Try defining the word “tasty.” Can you do it objectively? Even word arbiters have trouble being impartial — one of the Merriam-Webster entries defines tasty as “having a good flavor.” Good according to whom?  When it comes to matters of the palate, there is no boss of you. There’s no right or wrong answer, and my “tasty” may be worlds apart from yours (especially if it involves a half-inch of jarred mayonnaise in between two pieces of white toast). Who am I to judge if white goop makes your world spin? As my father — who passed more than 30 years ago — used to say, “That’s why there’s vanilla and chocolate, Kimberly.” Tasty is the truth — as you know it — Ruth, and no matter how much our respective versions of the truth may vary, we all are in its pursuit. A life without tasty seems like a life half-baked, after all. To that end, and because I spend most of my waking hours in the pursuit of flavor, I will be sharing …

My Mac and Cheese Obsession (And a Recipe To Die For)

Oh, your curves: I trace them with the tip of my tongue. Your milky pale form, your creaminess. I close my eyes and nibble, just a bit. And then I shove a giant spoonful into my mouth. Oh mac and cheese. I objectify it like a really fine, tan Southern man from Tennessee wearing nothing but cowboy boots and a Four Roses Bourbon t-shirt. Mac and cheese is good even when it’s bad. Kinda like French fries and sex. [pullquote]Drop it on the ground and I will eat it. I will use either the five-second rule or the five-hour rule if that makes you feel better.[/pullquote] You see, being a mac and cheese aficionado does not make me a mac and cheese snob. If you’re one of those Velveeta haters, stop reading right now. That shit is not from this earth whatsoever, but many cooks agree it’s essential to an amazing, creamy dish. I’m easy like Sunday morning when it comes to mac and cheese recipes. I don’t care what kind of cheese is used …

Taco Tuesday: A Spicy, South of the Border-Style Tradition

Taco Tuesday is a tradition in warm weather climates (and beyond) across America. It’s an excellent excuse to kick back with a margarita and chow down on a quintessential Mexican food staple. Since I’m from Arizona (and half-Mexican), tacos are comfort food, celebration food, a simple dinner during the week and part of a fiesta of dishes for weekend dinner parties. In other words, there’s always a good time for tacos. The contents of my fridge center around this principle: At any one time, I can rustle up two things: homemade chicken noodle soup and tacos. Whether it’s for illness or dinner, I’m prepared. This means that a homemade roasted chicken (or store bought rotisserie chicken) features prominently in the line-up every couple of weeks so that I can cook the carcass for soup and freeze the leftover chicken meat for tacos or enchiladas. There is generally a packet of organic ground beef in the freezer as well. One of the great pleasures in life is preparing and sharing a good meal with good people. …

Two Easy-to-Create Summer Treats — Perfect If You Hate Cooking

I’m so not a cook. Unlike my husband, I get no joy from poring over cookbooks, searching for spices, flipping steaks or stirring pots. But I do get a little glory now and then due to these foolproof, crowd-pleasing recipes I’ve learned to perfect. They’re guaranteed to wow summertime guests with very little effort. So if, like me, you’re not a culinary queen, try making one or both of these warm-weather winners. Blueberry Vodka Yes, you need to think ahead to conjure up this fruity cocktail, but it’s worth the two-to-three-week prep time, especially if you’re hosting a party. This drink is all about its color, so make sure you serve it in clear glasses to highlight the libation’s pretty hue. Serves about 10-12 (one cocktail each) Ingredients Blueberries (at least six pints) Vodka (750ml bottle). No need to spring for top-shelf stuff — any decent brand will do. We usually use Skyy. Directions 1. Place the blueberries in a large pitcher, then pour the vodka over them (you may need to split between two pitchers if you don’t have …

How a Backyard Obsession Turned Into a Supper Club

Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, I spent most of my time outside: swimming in the pool, eating charred hot dogs and fudgsicles in the grass, swinging from the diseased sycamore tree. It was my (hated) job to mow the lawn, year round. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve cut the grass in 114 degree heat. You will see God in a sweat-and-dehydration-fueled hallucination. You will also smell God in the scent of the freshly cut grass clippings — earthy, vegetal, sweet and lemony. I spent a lot of time twirling around in circles and then falling to the grass to watch the sky spin, and playing dodge ball with the kids down the street. It wasn’t until I moved to New York City that I realized how much life outside mattered to me, and would shape not just my neighborhood and apartment choice, but my entire life and career. It was a bumpy entry into NYC 17 years ago, starting with sublets and ending in a 6th floor walk-up with a talented, though narcissistic, artist …

Stave off the Chill With These 7 Warm-You-Up Recipes

By the time you read this, half of the Lower 48 will be shivering in its collective boots, the result of a massive polar air mass over the eastern seaboard and the Midwest. It’s predicted to deliver sub-zero wind chills and historically low temperatures. From my perch in Seattle, I’m enjoying more civilized temperatures in the low 40s. I feel for the rest of youse and your freezer-burned brains and the inevitable madness of cabin fever. Allow me, a long-time veteran of wintry past lives in Philly, New York and DC, to help scrape you off the floor and spin you like a dervish right into the kitchen. Herewith, some of my all-time favorite ways to take the edge off a dastardly chill. You’ll be toasty in no time.   1. Spiced Hot Chocolate Think chai with a chocolate twist. Steep milk with star anise, cardamom and other warming spices, then whisk in cocoa powder. I’ve made this using fortified coconut milk with equally rich results. Excellent with or without a shot of rum for …

All I Want for Christmas is… Pizza? 5 Gifts for Carb Lovers

‘Tis the season to celebrate awkward family conversations (“Nope! Still don’t have kids!”), the birth of whichever deity you may believe in, your general mildly pagan ways, and stretchy pajama pants you plan to change into to celebrate the most sacred and holy food group of all: carbs. Just admit to yourself how much you love carbs, whether or not you lie about eating them. It’s a truly freeing experience. Here are five no-carb gifts for the carb lover (i.e. me/ you) on your list.   1. Jeffrey Campbell Pizza Hi-Top Platform Sneakers And you thought there wasn’t a shoe that combined your love for cartoony pizza, the now-ness of the post-modern ’90s revival and your need for added height! In your FACE, I say! $250, Urbanoutfitters.com     2. I Want Abs But I Want Pizza More T-Shirt Aaaaaand therein lies the conundrum, printed perfectly on this tee, that masterfully nails the endless pizza-versus-abs chasm. (Personally, I always go with pizza over abs, because it’s easier. And tastier. And I can wear the t-shirt with pride.) …

Festive Food Items To Create, Gift, Devour (In That Order)

If we believe the hype, this is the most wonderful time of the year, but years of fighting the blues has taught me one thing: The only way to keep my head above the proverbial water (and out of the holiday punch bowl) is to keep everything as simple as possible. For this seasonally-affected cranky pants, that means lots of fresh air (versus hot gusts from a wall vent), loading up on vegetables (to offset the eggnog load) and scaling back on conspicuous consumption. These days, the gifts I give (and like to receive) are decidedly DIY, low-tech, with a little mindful tinsel thrown in for good measure. What follows are a few of my favorite things. 1. Chocolate Bark If you can melt chocolate, you can make chocolate bark. Seriously. Here’s what you do: Chop up a handful of your favorite dried fruit and nuts (or throw into the mini chopper), maybe a hint of sea salt and stir into a bowl of melted chocolate (which you can do in the microwave). My secret …

You Should Know: Cow vs. Goat vs. Sheep

You’re scratching your head. Of course you can tell the difference between these three barnyard animals. Heck, any five-year-old can tell them apart! But do you know the difference when it comes to one of the most fantastic foodstuffs on earth? We’re talking cheese.                               Many of us take the advice of gourmet goddesses like Ina Garten to heart when composing a cheese plate, going for a threesome that includes one “soft and fresh,” another “semi-hard or hard” and a third pick that is resolutely “blue.” (Yes, we’re still talking about cheese. Get your mind out of the gutter.) But, with a good number of cheese plates under your belt (literally and figuratively), it is time to seriously consider the provenance of your selections. Not talking country of origin — although national “cultures” do offer up distinct styles — but speaking of the animal of origin. When it comes to cow’s milk cheese, there can be a wide range of flavor …

How I Stay Sane On Turkey Day: A Chef Shares Her Secrets

  Kim O’Donnel is a trained chef and author of The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations  Here she shares six tips for staying sane in the kitchen during the holidays. 1. Don’t Fret. It’s a waste of energy and emotion to work yourself up into a pre-party lather. Before stepping into the kitchen, I actually meditate and/or practice a bit of yoga, or go on a solo walk. 2. Everyone Gets a Job. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but everyone who comes to our house for a big holiday meal gets a job: Setting the table, dish duty, carving the turkey, making gravy and so on. I’m done with the days of being the maid and not enjoying the meal. 3. Feed the Cook. Have a grilled cheese sandwich or a fried egg around noon for the cook; a little stove top nosh to keep up the energy level and provide a brief respite from the work. 4. Shower Zen. Allow time to rinse off in the shower before guests arrive. Sounds obvious, but it’s another way to get a “time …

Thank You Squash! A Recipe for Thanksgiving

We understand if winter squash has been on your “avoid” list — you practically need an axe to pry it open. But there’s no need to give up on these beta-carotene bombs entirely; there’s a thin-skinned, quick-cooking option and her name is Delicata. Shaped more like a mini football than a turban or a pumpkin, the delicata squash usually comes in shades of deep yellow, frequently accented with very stylish hunter green stripes. Unlike its cousin the acorn squash, the delicata actually has flavor, a delightful mash-up of corn and sweet potatoes. Ingredients 1 ½ cups water 1 cup Bhutanese red rice (Plan B: long-grain Wehani; cooking times and liquid amounts may vary) 3 to 4 delicata squash (about 1 pound each) ⅛ cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste Freshly ground black pepper ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped ¼ cup unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped (Other options: walnuts, almonds, or pecans) ⅓ cup dried cranberries or cherries, chopped 1 teaspoon fennel seeds 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh …