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Lunchbox Links

It’s back to school this week in NYC and my little Rosa’s first day of kindergarten on Thursday. She’s (moderately) excited to head back to school. Last year’s pre-K was essentially full-time, so she’s used to the schedule. One change this year: she’s asked us to pack her lunch every day.

I admit it, last year I took the easy way out. I packed her lunch the year prior to pre-K when she was at Montessori school and there was no other option. Last year, I gladly took the school up on their free lunch offer with nary a twinge of guilt.

Frankly, though, it came back to bite me.

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Weeknight Dinner Project: Presto Veggie Pasta

When I was growing up the only way we ate pasta (really, the only way… at least until the early-mid ‘90s) was with tomato sauce.

So I still get a little internal thrill when I eat pasta with a different kind of sauce/topping. One of my favorites is my mother-in-law’s pasta with rapini and Italian sausages. OMG that is good (and a great weeknight meal…recipe to come in the next couple weeks).

But lately I’ve also been really into what I’m calling presto veggie pasta.

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The Great Chinatown Pork Bun Tour

Ever since Rosa was a baby I would fantasize about the adventures we’d have together in New York City when she was older. We would hop on subways and explore hidden corners of Queens, have tea at a fancy hotel, and try fun new restaurants together. We’d be partners in crime, especially on the culinary front (at least until she started to hate me as a teenager). And we’ve already had a few small adventures together, including visiting Rosa’s beloved sushi conveyer belt at the Whole Foods on Second Avenue.

But today was a milestone — a true culinary adventure. We decided to eat lunch by sampling different pork buns in Chinatown. I set an itinerary, largely thanks to my awesome friend Nina, packed water bottles in my purse, and we took the F train into Manhattan where we walked from restaurant to restaurant. Rosa, who is five and a half, trekked around Chinatown like a pro without a single complaint.

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Cooking with My Mother-in-Law

Me, Rosa, and my mother-in-law

I just saw a headline from last year that declared that more women would rather visit the gynecologist than see their mother-in-law.

That’s harsh.

I’m a lucky girl: not only do I love my mother-in-law, she feeds me well too!

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Weeknight Dinner Project: The First Commandment of Weeknight Dinners

It’s Tuesday night. I didn’t get home until almost 7:30 because the C train was running painfully slowly (water damage on tracks from the rain blah blah…). If I had walked into the kitchen with no plan in mind for dinner, my first move would have been to the phone to order a pizza.

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Weeknight Dinner Project

It’s 5:45 PM on a Wednesday night. You’ve just walked in the door, home from work or from picking up your kids from soccer practice. Now what?

Unless your spouse is in the kitchen making supper (or you have a fabulous personal chef…), chances are this is one of your least favorite parts of the day: having to pull together a quick dinner that everyone in the family will eat.

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Yet Another Post About How Much I Love the Greenmarket…and a Recipe for Peach Salsa

It has become a cliché to rhapsodize about the farmer’s market come summertime: mountains of colorful peppers, fresh from the field greens, tables of succulent tomatoes, heaps of sweet corn just begging to be eaten. Maybe the over-the-top, sensuous descriptions are getting a bit old.

Well, dammit, that’s too bad. I love the Greenmarket in the summertime (and fall). My heart starts to flutter as I walk by the crowded stands and am instantly overwhelmed by the bounty. My brain works overtime quickly calculating how many vegetables we could actually eat in a single week’s time. My wallet cries out in preemptive pain as it realizes that it will be completely empty by the end of the shopping trip.

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True Breakfast Confession

It’s embarrassing, but true: on the weekends I like dessert for breakfast. Sure, an omelette or bacon and eggs can be satisfying. But really I want blueberry pancakes with real, rich maple syrup or baked brioche French toast with raisins and pecans (really a bread pudding!). Even better would be a piece of fruit pie from dessert the night before. When I lived in France in college my French “mother” and I would eat leftover tarte tatin for breakfast. The caramel drenched apples and buttery puff pastry, now a little damp from a night on the countertop, were a luxurious and pleasurable way to start the day. Now that was a reason to get out of bed (and a reason I don’t let anyone see photos of me from that time).

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(Some) Shortcuts Allowed

When I first started cooking seriously six or so years ago I was a purist. Cooking shortcuts were almost universally unacceptable. Clients would ask me if it was okay to buy pre-peeled garlic, and I would wince to myself. I made all my own spice rubs. And, darn it, I cut my own chicken cutlets thank you very much.

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Just Say No (to Being a Short-Order Cook)

Last month the editors at New York Family Magazine asked me to participate in a project for their January issue. A few of their writers were enlisting experts to help them achieve a New Year’s Resolution. My job was to take the drama out of dinner for writer Michelle Levine, a Long Island mother of two.

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