My mom has made the desserts for our family birthdays and holidays forever, so in truth, I was never much of a baker until I had my own kids. Let me tell you, I have big shoes to fill and because of that, I am really picky about which baked recipes I would bother making again. This recipe, however, made me so thrilled because I came up with the idea and everyone loved it. The birthday girl might not have been super ecstatic about her will-go-unnumbered birthday this year, but her cake made her smile!
Have you ever had those Take 5 candy bars? That’s what this is based on: the five ingredients of chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, peanuts and pretzels. It’s salty and sweet with some crunch, you have to make this recipe! Oh, and notice I took a little help from the grocery store, I am not ashamed and would do it again!
A candy bar in a cake…you’re welcome.
It is the time of year when a salad is a prerequisite for picnics, gatherings, parties, beach days and even just dinner! I make a ton of salads this time of year because of the crisp and buttery greens we get from our farm. We wait all year for the Boston and red leaf lettuce in particular. So I have tried out many salad dressing recipes, and it is hard to make a bad one honestly. Even just good balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil does a great salad justice. But here are two dressings that I have made time and time again, and that have received raves from my guests. The chive vinaigrette is fresh and tangy and the buttermilk ranch is creamy, herbaceous and you won’t even pick out the cilantro but it adds a special necessary flavor. I don’t even normally like cilantro and I love it in this dressing! But if you are really opposed to it, and I won’t judge you, use fresh dill. To make it extra fun for the chef, invest in a set of wide-mouth mason jars or a salad dressing cruet, and a mini whisk.
Just add dressing!
I started making this dip a few years ago when I had a fridge drawer full of vegetables and I needed a recipe that used a lot of them! To my delightful surprise, my kids wanted to skip the pita chips and just get a spoon! Something about the sweet red bell peppers, roasted garlic and tomato paste and the overall creamy texture of this dip makes it appealing to adults and kids alike. This is a great dish to bring to a party and can easily be made ahead of time.
This is a twist on pork fried rice you might order from a Chinese takeout place. Instead of sliced pork, I used ground pork that I seared until it had some nice browned bits, and I added Hoisin sauce, which is sweet, salty, and smoky all in one. This dish comes together in 30 minutes and feel free to use your favorite vegetables for Asian stir-fries: snap peas, broccoli florets, water chestnuts, it’s up to you! Enjoy this with crisp cucumbers and carrots and a drizzle of super-simple spicy mayo.
Seriously faster to make than to order takeout
About a year ago, we went to dinner at my mom’s and she brought out this impressive tray of chicken enchiladas that we all gobbled up. They weren’t the run-of-the-mill soggy or super-heavy enchiladas, they were chock full of chicken and had a little crunch on the edge of the tortillas with just enough sauce to hold it all together. It was one of those meals that made you instantly think, “I will have to make this so we can have it all the time!” A few days later I called my mom for the recipe and she cracked me up by saying, “Now, remember…it’s EASY enchiladas, so don’t roast the chicken yourself, ok?” I listened! And now we get to have this all the time. Thanks Mom!
Leftovers make the best lunches!
My love of meatballs goes back to my days as a visiting kid at my Italian grandmother’s house on Long Island. We never, I mean never, went hungry over there, and were offered a meatball, or a “meat-a-ball” almost as soon as we came in the door. We would pull up a seat at the table that consistently could seat 12, and savor our bowl of meatballs, extra sauce, and homemade pizza bread. Then we raided the fridge for the peanut butter cups tucked in there! I needed to recreate that comfort food for my boys. Little did I know that it would become one of their favorite meals, so I couldn’t always wait until the weekend to make them. I have been experimenting and perfecting this recipe for years, and I have it down to the essentials…give it a try and I hope you love them. My guys prefer the more tender texture of turkey to beef, plus it’s much lower in saturated fat. It just translates into being able to eat this more often!
This meal is absolutely do-able on a weeknight. Try it!
This soup is like therapy. Both preparing it and eating it will make you feel better about what ails you. I decided to try this recipe after seeing Ina (we’re on a first-name basis now, me and Ina Garten) prepare this on her show, Barefoot Contessa, and she included it in her latest cookbook, Foolproof. I changed just a few things (for example, I use regular bacon instead of more expensive pancetta, and I chopped up fresh basil and tossed in a parmesan rind instead of using store-bought pesto), and the results spoke for themselves. My family finished the pot and requested I make it again! You will think I am making this up, but my 4-year-old ate his whole bowl and my almost 2-year-old (gasp–he is getting big too fast) got seconds! We paired it with my husband Mike’s homemade sourdough bread and some crisp Pinot Grigio. Magic.
P.S. Mike and I go to see Ina this week at her book signing, I can’t wait!
Dive in and be healed!
One of my favorite things to do for my fellas is to make pancakes on either Saturday or Sunday morning. I love the sweet smell wafting through the house, watching lots of snow fall outside, and knowing that we’re all in no rush to go anywhere. I cut up a nice big bowl of fruit for everyone to help themselves (usually strawberries, bananas and blueberries), and save the leftover pancakes in a single layer on a plate wrapped in plastic in the fridge for making the best peanut butter and jam “stackers” later that day or week. For the stackers, just take as many pancakes as you’d like, top them with your favorite pb and jam, stack them up and microwave for about 20 seconds. This snack needs a knife and fork, but it’s salty-sweet-amazing! I think you’ll really enjoy this simple recipe for your own fluffy pancakes every time.
Get the syrup!
Banana bread was one of the first things I ever baked when I was little. My mom bought me a set of Sesame Street books, and the second volume, for the letter B naturally, included a recipe for “Big Bird’s Banana Bread.” I was thrilled for the chance to mix things up and bake something in the oven, and thankfully my family supported the endeavor and loved the bread! Now I make this different version of banana bread, as Ina Garten would say…it’s with the volume turned up. This one is straight from mom. The streusel on top is crunchy and sweet, and the bread itself is moist but not too dense, so the pieces just tend to disappear! You can also make this into muffins, I have done that before and may even like that better.
This bread will be a hit in your house. Adorable child not included.
Happy New Year, everyone! I’m back and ready to inspire some amazing dishes for 2013. This dish comes fresh from my new cookbook obsession: Lidia’s Favorite Recipes. I am working on cooking my way through this petite powerhouse of an Italian cookbook. It has all the ingredients that make me love cookbooks: clearly written, well-tested recipes, and ingredients you can truly find at the supermarket. I haven’t made it past the crave-worthy pasta section yet, but I swear I will someday. I only changed a few things to give my own spin on this dish, I hope you try it and love it as much as my family did. It was our Christmas Eve dinner and it made us feel very celebratory!
Brimming with fresh seafood, there’s nothing better than this steaming bowl of pasta.