Archives for the month of: January, 2014

Brussels Sprouts and Pork (or Beef) Stir Fry

Brussels Sprouts and Pork Stir Fry_Web
I actually really love this recipe as is, but we already had beef last week so I didn’t want to make it again. I had a feeling that pork would work nicely and I was right. I’m sure chicken or tofu would be great too. If you do use pork, I recommend a boneless chop; one chop per two people, sliced into strips.

I like Jasmine because it tastes nutty and cooks super fast, but really use whatever you prefer.

Chicken Breast Sautéed in Sweet Red Onion and Lemon
I grabbed this recipe from thekithcn, which is a great site for cooking tips and kitchen inspiration. Its sister site, apartment therapy, is where I go while daydreaming about owning my own home and painting the walls anything other than renter’s white. Anyhoo, this is a great weeknight dinner. Quick, flavorful, and you probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients already. My only suggestion is to not add the lemons until you are ready to add the chicken. I followed the recipe exactly the first time I made it and thought that the lemon was too overpowering, which for me is saying a lot. Note – this recipe is for one, but it is super easy to double, triple, quadruple – you get the point.

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
I can’t believe this is the first time I’m posting a Barefoot Contessa recipe –  Liz Lemon and I agree, that she is the best! Trust me, you will see more of her recipes in the future, in my opinion, she can do no wrong. So with that, I present this recipe which I won’t change at all. Oh, okay I can’t help myself, I have never used the basil and it is still delicious. Note, the recipe is for 6 servings, but it is easy to cut that back.


Italian “Stir Fry”

When I was single and living alone, I prepared full meals for myself as a way to unwind. I would either cut a recipe down to one portion or make a larger portion and have leftovers for lunch or other nights. However, a lot of nights I prepared dinner using whatever was kicking around in my fridge and pantry – this recipe is an example. You can make this dish with literally whatever you think looks good at the market or what you already have in the fridge. You can add meat or not. It can go over pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa or farro. It is the perfect “what should I make for dinner tonight?” meal. The ingredient list below is merely a suggestion.



1 TB. olive oil
1 red, yellow or orange pepper, chopped *
½ red onion, chopped *
1 zucchini, chopped *
1 summer squash, chopped *
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup pesto (optional)
½ cup ricotta cheese (optional)
pasta – 3 oz dry for per person

* ingredients that can be prepped several days ahead.

Note – Boil salted water for the pasta as you prep the rest of the ingredients. When you add the pasta to the boiling water start your stir-fry; they should take the same amount of time to cook.

Heat olive oil in a pan and add the next four ingredients. Saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add your tomatoes, and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until they start to break down and get saucy. When your pasta is done, drain it, and throw it in the pan with the veggies; add the pesto, ricotta, salt and pepper to taste and mix it up.


Honey-Soy Salmon
This recipe on Eating Well’s website – which if I’m being completely honest, I have never made exactly as written – inspired this recipe. I’m sure the original recipe is great, but I have a tried and true method for cooking salmon that I learned from the Pioneer Woman and now I rarely make salmon any other way.

1 scallion, chopped
2 TB. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 TB. rice vinegar
1 TB. honey
1 ½ lbs. salmon filet

Whisk scallion, soy sauce, rice vinegar and honey together. Place salmon in a sealable plastic bag with sauce and marinate for 15 minutes.

Remove salmon from bag and place on a baking sheet (in order to avoid a messy clean-up you may want to spray some oil on the sheet first). Place baking sheet in a cold oven, turn the oven on to 400 degrees. 25 minutes later (20 min. if your salmon filet is less than a 1 lb.) remove salmon from oven, and serve. I promise you, it will be perfect.

Baby Bok Choy with Cashews

Baby Bok Choy_Web

I do not mess around with this recipe – it is perfect, as is.


By now, you have probably gathered that while I love cookbooks and online recipe generators I rarely stick to the script. For me, cooking is like an improv show at the Upright Citizens Brigade; you never know what you’re going to get! I work with what I think is the best of a recipe, and then I tweak it so that it is faster, easier and (hopefully) more delicious. A few of this week’s meals are like that. I tried something once, and when I made it again I changed it up. Feel free to do the same with my recipes!

Just a few of the cookbooks I use for inspiration

Just a few of the cookbooks I use for inspiration

(Meals should feed four adults and take about 30-40 minutes to prepare, or the time it takes Patrick to give Eliza a bottle and put her to bed.)

Meal #1: Honey-Soy Salmon + Baby Bok Choy with Cashews
Meal #2: Italian “Stir Fry”
Meal #3: Chicken Breast Sautéed in Sweet Red Onion and Lemon + Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
Meal #4: Brussels Sprouts and Pork (or Beef) Stir Fry + Rice

Your Grocery List, excluding the usual pantry items:

scallions – 2 bunches
baby bok choy – 1 lb.
pepper (red, yellow or orange) – 1
jalapeno pepper – 1
brussels sprouts – 1 lb.
red onion – 3
lemon – 3
zucchini – 1
summer squash – 1
carrots – 2 medium
broccoli – 2 large bunches
plum tomatoes – 3
ginger – 1 piece (you can freeze or refrigerate the rest)
pine nuts – ¼ lb (optional – if you buy them, freeze the extra)
salted cashews, ¼ lb.
ricotta cheese – small container (optional)
bottle of pesto (optional)
Parmesan cheese (if you don’t already have it)
bottle of sesame oil (if you don’t already have it)
bottle of rice vinegar (if you don’t already have it)
bottle of oyster sauce (if you don’t already have it)
salmon fillet, 1 ½ lbs.
boneless, skinless chicken breast – 1 ½ lb.
boneless, pork chops – 2 (4-6 oz. each) OR skirt steak, 8 oz.



How was your lunch today? Did you eat the same sandwich or salad that you always bring to work or buy at a nearby deli? Yeah, me too.

Obviously, I put a lot of effort into planning dinners that are pretty varied, but when it comes to lunch – not so much. Most days, I pack my lunch because if I am going to spend $50 a week on food (lunch in Manhattan is rarely cheaper than $10 – so multiply that by 5) it had better be great, which unfortunately, it rarely is. I don’t usually mind the monotony, but once in awhile I have to mix it up.

Soup, especially this time of year, is such a treat in the middle of the day. My mom said that when I was a toddler I refused to eat anything that wasn’t hot. While my palate has expanded since then, I still think a hot lunch feels a little bit special. This lentil soup recipe will spice up your regular lunch routine and is super inexpensive. I haven’t figured out how much it costs per serving, but a bag of red lentils at my grocery store costs less than $2 and I only used half of the bag for this recipe.


Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

This is an especially good recipe if you haven’t tried or cooked with lentils before. It is super easy, relatively fast, and tastes fresher than your typical lentil soup. Inspired by Melissa Clark’s recipe, originally published in The New York Times, my recipe is a bit simpler to prepare. The lemon at the end is a must, but if you don’t have cilantro you can skip it.

3 TB. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TB. tomato paste
1 ts. ground cumin
¼ ts. kosher salt, more to taste
¼ ts. ground black pepper
pinch of ground chili pepper or cayenne, more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
juice of ½ lemon, more to taste
3 TB. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and saute until golden, about 4 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and saute for 2 minutes longer.

Add broth, 2 cups of water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in lemon. Taste, and add salt if necessary. If serving immediately, add the cilantro, but if you are storing the soup for the future, skip the cilantro and add it after the soup has been re-heated, or not at all.



Broiled Shrimp with Tomatoes and White Beans


This dish is incredibly easy and tasty. It could easily be dinner on its own, but the garlic bread is nice for soaking up every last bit of the sauce.

Garlic Bread

Maybe not the healthiest, but you have to indulge once in awhile…

1 baguette, halved lengthwise
1 TB. butter
¼ cup of olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced
handful of parsley, minced (optional)
¼ ts. garlic powder
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, heat butter, olive oil and garlic until the garlic releases its aroma and gets a little bit golden.

Garlic Cooking

Remove from heat and stir in the parsley (if using), garlic powder, salt and pepper. Brush mixture all over the inside of the baguette. Wrap the baguette in foil and place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, then open up the foil so that the top of the baguette is exposed and bake for another 2-3 minutes, or until the bread is hard to the touch and a bit crispy.


White Fish Braised in Lemon with Red Peppers and Tomatoes

This recipes comes from Mark Bittman’s cookbook, Kitchen Express. For years, Bittman wrote for The New York Times’ Dining section as “The Minimalist,” where he became famous for his 101 recipe lists. He’s done 101 appetizers, salads, simple meals etc; all of which take under 20 minutes to prepare. His lists are epic, and yet totally inspiring and do-able. This cookbook is in the same vein. I wouldn’t recommend it for a novice cook – he isn’t very specific about measurements or technique – but if you feel pretty confident in the kitchen it is a great tool for weeknight cooking.

2 medium onions (yellow or red, whatever you prefer), thinly sliced*
2 red peppers, thinly sliced*
2 TB. olive oil
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half*
4 fillets of white fish (about 6 oz. each) –  flounder or tilapia are good choices
Juice of 1 lemon
1 TB. capers (optional)

* ingredients that can be prepped several days ahead.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan and add onions and peppers. When the vegetables soften, add tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften. Season fish with salt and pepper; move vegetables to the side of the pan, add a bit more olive oil, and sear the fish for about two minutes (if your pan is not large enough for all of the fish, sear the first two fillets, remove them onto a plate and then sear the next two). Turn fish over (or return all fish to the pan onto the non-seared side), spread the vegetables around the fish, add the lemon juice and cover the pan and simmer for another three minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with capers.

Roasted Green Beans and Red Onion
String Beans

This is one of my favorite, winter side dishes.

1 ½ lb. green beans, trimmed
1 large red onion, sliced in thick rings
1 TB. olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes – tossing once, halfway through. Season with salt and pepper again, if needed.


When I was an apprentice farmer at The Farm School, the Spannocchia Foundation invited us to work for three weeks on their farm in Tuscany. Traveling throughout Italy had always been a dream of mine so I was beyond excited, even if it was in the dead of winter. A couple of my fellow apprentice farmers and I decided to tack a few extra weeks on to our trip to visit Rome, Umbria, Florence and Venice. In Florence, I was introduced to the classic Italian dish, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, which is essentially just a Porterhouse steak, but man, did it leave an impression. The first time I had the steak it was paired with a beautiful arugula salad, and the bitterness of the greens provided the perfect balance to the richness of the steak. Oh, I miss Italy… Anyway, we can’t all eat Porterhouse steaks all the time, so this recipe, inspired by my trip, calls for skirt steak, which is relatively inexpensive, but super delicious. Buon Appetito!

Skirt Steak with Arugula

skirt steak – about 6 oz. per person
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large bunch of arugula
balsamic vinegar
Parmesan cheese

Heat a grill pan, large saute pan, or grill until hot. Meanwhile, drizzle a bit of olive oil on both sides of your steaks and season both sides generously with salt and pepper (if you have any fresh rosemary, chop one or two sprigs and add with the salt and pepper). Add steak to pan or grill and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Four minutes for medium rare, about five for medium, etc. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes before carving.

While the steak is resting, shave some Parmesan cheese onto the arugula and about 1-2 minutes before you are ready to carve the steak add olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, and toss (always add the oil first and always use more oil than vinegar). Plate arugula with sliced steak.


Roasted Cauliflower

We had a half a head of cauliflower from another dish I made earlier in the week so I decided to serve it alongside the steak.

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets*
1 TB. olive oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

* ingredients that can be prepped several days ahead.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. About halfway through, toss the cauliflower so all of the florets are nicely browned. At the very end of roasting, sprinkle a little bit of Parmesan cheese on top and let it melt before serving.


One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes

A carb with a ton of flavor that I don’t have to feel guilty about eating? Sign me up! I was intimidated by farro for a long time, imagining that it was one of those ingredients that you had to soak and cook for hours upon hours. So it was a wonderful surprise when I discovered that it takes about the same amount of time to cook as rice, but, in my opinion, is much hardier.

Many of you will recognize the origins of this recipe – the one-pan pasta that was all over Pinterest a few months ago. Before I got around to trying it, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, my favorite food blog, took it on and then improved it with farro. I am eternally grateful to her.

Green Salad