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Tricks of the Meatball Trade

It’s hard to beat meatballs as a crowd-pleaser. I love them because they’re so versatile. You can bake them or brown them, use nearly any kind of ground meat, and tuck in all sorts of herbs, spices, and even veggies. They’re good on their own, in a soup, or in a sauce. You can make them in a half-hour or let them simmer for an afternoon. Really, it’s hard to go wrong with a meatball. And recently I’ve discovered three tricks to make my Italian-style meatballs even better.

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Spinach Pesto

Spinach pesto is a staple in my house (as well as one of my client’s – I make it for them nearly every week). It’s beautiful, delicious, and healthy, plus relatively quick to prepare. You could make it even more quickly than I do, but I think the two potentially “fussy” touches render the final product much tastier. Remember that tastier = more kid (and grown-up) friendly.

Pesto is delicious on pasta, obviously. I also like it spooned over roasted chicken, on steamed or roasted potatoes, and dolloped on hard-boiled eggs. Nearly any food that needs a little zing will take well to this tangy sauce.

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Move over Rachael Ray!

A couple of months ago Parents Magazine asked me to shoot some cooking videos for their website. I won’t lie – on the first take, I was surprisingly, crazily nervous. But, happily, I got it out of my system and ended up really enjoying myself. We shot six videos, and a couple of them are up online now:

Marinating

How To Saute

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No More Plain-Jane Cupcakes

It was Rosa’s sixth birthday a couple of weeks ago. As any modern mom will tell you (at least in New York), there is no shortage of “mandatory” parties: school party, family party, and the “real” birthday party. When considering treats, I took the easy way out and ordered dozens of cupcakes at the local bakery. Obviously one reason was convenience. But the other reason was that my cupcakes just don’t look that special. Sure, they taste good. But, frankly, they’re a little boring, pretty plain-Jane.

But those days have passed my friends.
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Thanksgiving Countdown

I am so behind on Thanksgiving this year. In a perfect world I would have been contemplating our menu for the past month, clipping recipes, testing new dishes, and piecing together elements to make a final, fabulous meal. That, my friends, is my idea of fun.

Alas, this is not a perfect world.

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What to Make for Dessert When Your Kitchen is in Boxes

Newsflash: I have a sweet tooth. That is probably not a shocking revelation to anyone who knows me even in passing. I love me some baked goods.

I try to contain my love for all things dessert to the weekends, when I’ll try a new cake, cookie, pie, or cobbler recipe. I always aspire to give away or throw away the leftovers by Monday, and occasionally I even do it.

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Finally, My Daughter Cooks for Me


Two weeks ago something remarkable happened. After five years of providing three meals a day for her, my kindergarten-age daughter, Rosa, made lunch for me. And man, was it good: spicy barbecued shrimp and chicken, tangy coleslaw, and scrumptious corn muffins.

She’s a prodigy, right? A chip off the old block.

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Busting Fast Food Myths

I love Mark Bittman. His cooking philosophy and flavor favorites really resonate with me. So I feel a tad guilty saying that sometimes his food politics articles turn me off… a little too preachy and reminiscent of Michael Pollan to feel fresh and original to me.

His Op-Ed in today’s Times, though, was terrific. He started by busting the myth that fast food is cheaper than “real”, home-cooked food. He continued on to dismantle the other common excuses for fast food’s popularity:

– fast food is cheaper on a per calorie basis
– people can’t afford real food
– people don’t have access to fresh food
– people don’t have time to cook (Actually, as Bittman notes, “The average American watches no less than 90 minutes of television a day.”)

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Orange & Cumin Chicken Breasts

I am ALWAYS looking for good chicken breast recipes. Many of my personal chef clients prefer chicken breasts to any other protein, and it’s a challenge to keep my rotation fresh.

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Weeknight Dinner Project: The Second Commandment of Weeknight Dinners

Last spring the editors at Parents Magazine asked me to be a “dinner coach” for two area moms. Like most of us, these moms struggled with having the time and the ideas to put a fresh, healthy, and satisfying weeknight dinner on the table for their families day in and day out.

The recipes I developed for the Parents project appear in the September and October issues. But even more fun was working with the women directly and coming up with plans of attack to help them.

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