Gone Home

With Joel away visiting a dear friend of ours in San Francisco over the weekend, Bear and I, eager for company, fled to my parent’s house. It was so nice to be back home for a few days in the house I grew up in. Bear particularly enjoyed chasing Dexter, my parent’s dog, as well as the extra attention that comes with having two grandparents around for a weekend. On Saturday we checked out Pinwheel Play, an indoor play area in Chanhassen. If you have kids, and you’re in the area, it’s a nice option when the weather is all but cooperative.

The Menu


Grandma’s Chicken Barley Soup (recipe from Outta Here @ Food.com)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched for a chicken barley soup recipe and given up because I couldn’t find one that looked flavorful enough. I stumbled upon this recipe out of the blue a few weeks ago and knew I had to try it ASAP. Especially after I spotted Worcestershire sauce in the list of ingredients! I completely spaced at the grocery store and forgot to pick up the mushrooms, but we didn’t miss them. This was the perfect soul-warming dinner after a cool trip to the pumpkin patch at Waldoch Farm.

Sides (not pictured): Sliced cheddar cheese and red pepper strips


Classic Italian-American Stuffed Shells With Ricotta and Spinach (recipe from Daniel Gritzer @ Serious Eats)

This is your basic no-frills stuffed shells recipe for those nights when you just want a large comforting pan of something cheesy. I used jarred pasta sauce to cut a few corners. As with all stuffed shells recipes I’ve tried, most of the flavor in this dish comes courtesy of the minced garlic. Don’t skimp!

Sides: Steamed aspagagus


Mexican-Style Pulled Pork Tacos (recipe from America’s Test Kitchen One-Pan Dinners Special Issue)


1 (15- ounce can) can tomato sauce
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 (3-pound) boneless pork butt roast, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed


  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a 5 1/2 – to 7- quart slow cooker.
  2. Slice the pork butt crosswise into 4 equal pieces and season each piece with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the pork in the slow cooker and gently press it down into the sauce.
  4. Cover and cook the pork until it shreds easily. America’s Test Kitchen recommends 9 to 10 hours on low or 6 to 7 hours on high.
  5. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred it using two forks. Discard any fat.
  6. Skim the fat from the surface of the remaining sauce in the slow cooker and transfer the sauce to a blender. Process the sauce until smooth and stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. America’s Test Kitchen also says to adjust the consistency of the sauce with hot water if it seems too thick.
  7. Pour two cups of the sauce over the shredded pork and mix to combine.
  8. Serve the pork with warm tortillas and desired toppings.

This recipe for pork tacos turned out pretty good. The pork was sweeter than I had anticipated but it was well complimented by the corn tortillas and my favorite recipe for guacamole (see below). The guacamole is a little untraditional but it’s so good!

Best Guacamole (recipe from PHLOX @ allrecipes)

Sides: Corn and steamed broccoli with butter and salt


Night Off. Leftovers to the rescue!


Crispy Orange Ground Beef and Veggies (recipe from Kelli Foster @ The Kitchn)

This recipe for orange beef doesn’t look like much. Please disregard the smear on the plate. Yet, we really enjoyed it! It was quick to throw together and the orange peel made it taste light and fresh. Even Bear, who does not particularly like ground meat, gobbled it up with gusto. We ate ours over long grain white rice.

Sides: Steamed snap peas and summer squash with butter and salt


Gone Home.


Gone Home.

(Oct 15th, 2017 – Oct 21st, 2017)

Company and Pumpkin Patches

Shout out to Marshall’s Farm Market and Waldoch Farm for making this past weekend extra fun and festive!

The Menu


A friend of ours was in town from San Diego tonight and he joined us for dinner. I pulled out one of my most trusted company dinners.

Simple Beef Pot Roast (recipe from Chef John @ allrecipes)

I don’t usually frequent allrecipes, but this recipe is a gem. Sear the meat, soften the vegetables, throw everything in a Dutch oven, and let it roast undisturbed for hours. The end result is a heap of fork-tender meat, carrots, and celery. The recipe says to cook the meat for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, but I have always found 4 hours to be perfect.

Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes (recipe from Kelsey Nixon @ Cooking Channel)

Sour cream, chives, and potatoes. Need I say more?

Cook’s Country Caesar Green Bean Salad (Adapted)

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the first 4 ingredients. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. Steam the green beans until bright green and crisp-tender; about 5 minutes.
  3. Toss the green beans in the bowl with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm.


Butternut Mac and Cheese (recipe from The Pioneer Woman)

This recipe was nice, but I like my mac and cheese salty and savory. With butternut squash and the caramelized onions, this recipe was undoubtedly too sweet for my liking. Also, heads up on the butternut squash baking time. The recipe says it should take a small butternut squash 20-25 minutes. Mine took 1 whole hour. Stuborn! Stuborn!

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts (recipe from Chloe Coscarelli)

I asked 2-year-old Bear if she liked these brussels sprouts during dinner. She chewed, thought for moment, looked me in the eye and said, “They’re kind of boring.” I just about fell out of my chair laughing. She proceeded to eat a vast quantity of them so I’m not sure if she really stands by her critique. I, for one, found them quite pleasing.

Side: Fennel, Red Pepper, and Orange Salad

I threw together this salad on a whim and really liked it. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to write down specific quantities. Here’s the basic recipe:

Red wine vinegar (about 2 Tbsp)
Dijon mustard (about 1 Tbsp)
Olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
Salt and pepper
1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin
1 red pepper, cored and sliced thin
2 oranges, segmented

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the fennel, red pepper, and orange segments to the bowl and toss with the dressing. Adjust the seasoning as needed.




All I wanted tonight was a huge salad topped with salmon, vegetables, and an herby dressing. I couldn’t find a recipe that fit the bill so I went off the cuff and attempted to throw one together. Big mistake. The picture is pretty but the meal itself was meh. Perhaps you can use this as inspiration to throw together your own recipe or find one online.

5 Minute Avocado Cilantro Dressing (recipe from pinch of yum)

This is the recipe I used for my dressing. I didn’t have Greek yogurt so I attempted to use regular plain yogurt mixed with sour cream. I also didn’t want to use raw garlic (I had to go in to the office the following day), so I used 1/2 tsp garlic powder. My modifications were not good, but I have a feeling that the actual recipe would be quite tasty.


Apricot Balsamic Chicken (recipe from Joy the Baker)

This recipe for apricot balsamic chicken was delicious, quick to prepare, and garnered rave reviews from Joel. I added the juice of 1/2 a lemon to the sauce, which helped to amp up its sweet-sour flavor. Also, I served our chicken over white basmati rice.

Kale with Sauteed Apple and Onion

Kale with apples. It works. This wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was a nice change.


Leftover apricot balsamic chicken with buttered pasta. Bear and I were home alone for dinner for the third night this week. I was beyond tired of pulling single parent duty.


Turkey(!), stuffing(!), cranberries(!), green beans(!), and rolls(!) after a trip to Marshall’s Farm Market with my parents and sister. My mom went all out and I am still thinking about it. The meal was perfection. My sister even made delicious caramel apple cheesecake bars. I mean, seriously.

I contributed sweet potatoes and I’m here to tell you that you should file the following recipe away for Thanksgiving. You’re welcome.

3-Ingredient Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecans (recipe from Anna Stockwell @ Epicurious)

(Oct 8th, 2017 – Oct 14th, 2017)

More! More!

I’m not the artsy type but when I spotted plain wooden pumpkin cutouts and fall inspired stickers at Target, I knew we could get our finger paints out and keep busy for at least one afternoon this week. Joel, of course, got all creative on us and gave his pumpkin eyes and a mischievous grin.

The Menu


Old Time Beef Stew (recipe from Paula Dean @ Food Network)

Honestly, this is the only Paula Dean recipe I’ve ever tried. Her recipes often call for pre-made ingredients that I try to avoid. Things like canned cream of mushroom soup or instant pudding. But! THIS recipe my friends is a keeper. I love this recipe. It simmers for a couple of hours on the stove and transforms into a tender stew with chunks of carrots and celery. If you scan the ingredient list, you will notice that it does call for Worcestershire sauce. My absolute favorite is the Wizard’s Organic Vegan Worcestershire Sauce by Edward and Sons. It is especially nice in this recipe. If you like a soupier stew, like us, add a total of 3 1/2 cups water (as opposed to only 2 cups water). You won’t regret it.

Quick and Easy Drop Biscuits (recipe Marissa Sertich Velie @ Serious Eats

Flaky and crispy on the outside. Tender and creamy on the inside. These biscuits are delicious right out of the oven. While the recipe calls for 3/4 cup whole milk, I’ve only ever used 1/2 cup cream + 1/4 cup water. It’s what I had on hand the first time I made this recipe and I’ve never dared to change my method. Toast up the leftovers and indulge in a fried egg sandwich for breakfast.

Sides: Leftover Red and Nappa Cabbage Salad with Braeburn Apples and Spiced Pecans


Easy Coconut Curry Chicken (recipe from Crème de la Crumb)

I have searched high and low for a delicious chicken curry recipe that I can easily make on a weeknight and, you guys, I think I just found it! With two 15oz cans of coconut milk, this recipe has body. Fresh lime juice brightens it up and the vegetables are truly customizable. I used cauliflower and red pepper in ours. I also stirred in 2 cups fresh spinach towards the end of the cooking time. The recipe calls for 4 Tbsp yellow curry powder, but I used 3 Tbsp of the Frontier Indian Curry Seasoning blend and still found the end result pleasantly spicy.

I served our curry over Forbidden Rice, which I normally love, but I think basmati rice would lend better to this recipe.

Sides: Beet, Tart Plum and Ginger Salad

I was all set to type out the Beet, Tart Plum and Ginger Salad recipe from Dana Cowin’s Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen: Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and Over 100 Delicious Recipes, but then I found the recipe online. Score! It’s available here towards the middle of the post. I didn’t have plums or green onions on hand and skipped them.


Broccoli Frittata (recipe from Marc Murphy @ Food & Wine

Hmm. What to say about this recipe for a broccoli frittata? It was fine. It wasn’t bad. It’s the kind of recipe you might want in your back pocket when you’re running short on time and all you have in your refrigerator is broccoli, cheddar, and eggs. I subbed gruyere for cheddar, but I’m not sure that it made much of a difference. At the very least, it was easy and quick to throw together.

Sides: Sauteed kale and roasted sweet potatoes

Sauteed Kale (recipe by Bobby Flay @ Food Network

For the sweet potatoes: Scrub, dry, and cube 1-2 sweet potatoes. Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil and a generous sprinkling (1/2- 1 tsp) each of chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper until all of the sweet potatoes are covered. Toss to distribute the seasonings and roast at 450 degrees until cooked through and crispy (about 30-35 minutes)


Cheddar Pork Burgers with Apple- Mustard Slaw (recipe from Meredith Deeds @ Star Tribune

My mom copied this recipe for pork burgers from the Star Tribune and gave it to me months ago. I promptly put it in my recipe binder and forgot all about it until I was looking for a recipe that would use up my stash of red and savoy cabbages. I wish that I had tried it sooner, because we really enjoyed it. The fresh sage pairs so well with the pork and the creamy sweet slaw is a nice compliment to the cheesy patty.

Sides: Parsnips and delicata squash coated with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted on one sheet pan (sans parchment) at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes.

For more thorough instructions:

Parsnip Fries

Roasted Delicata Squash


Warm French Lentils (recipe from Ina Garten @ Food Network)

What can I say. Another week, another Ina Garten recipe. I’m drawn to her food and her recipes are always well tested. Also, I’m a bit (ok, more than a bit) of a Francophile. This recipe is a favorite in our household. I’ve made it at least once a month for the past two years. You may be tempted to forgo the onion stuck with six cloves or the turnip, but don’t! They add a very complex flavor to the lentils. The only thing about this recipe is that I much prefer it with green lentils, as opposed to Le Puy lentils. Green lentils are a little bit bigger and they happily slurp up the dressing. I also find 1 tsp of fine sea salt to be sufficient. However, Ina calls for 1 Tbsp so feel free to follow her lead.

Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower (recipe from Orangette)

This recipe for cauliflower with caramelized onions and parmesan fricos is so good! I’ve followed Orangette for years. It’s one of my favorite food blogs. Love the blog. Love Molly. Love her long-running podcast, Spilled Milk, with Matthew Amster-Burton.

Side: Romaine lettuce with avocado and vinaigrette


Joel, Bear, and I frantically ran around the mall after work looking for select items of clothing for our family photos over the weekend. Leave it to me to leave clothes shopping for the very last minute. Take out from Pizza Luce was about all we could muster for dinner.


Chicken Dijon (recipe from Melissa Clark @ Food & Wine)

This chicken was nothing short of amazing. Bear ate two drumsticks. At only 24 pounds, I’ve never seen her eat so much chicken in one sitting. She kept repeating, “more!, more!” between mouthfuls. Melissa advises you to serve it with crusty bread, which would have been exceptional and perfect for finishing off the pan sauce. We ate ours with a wild rice pilaf that wasn’t bad either.

Wild Rice Pilaf (recipe from Ina Garten @ Food Network)

Always a winner! Nutty wild rice with green onions, salt, and butter.

10 Minute Lemon Garlic Sauteed Bok Choy

A nice compliment to the chicken and a great alternative to the plethora of bok choy recipes on the web that call for soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.

(Oct 1st, 2017 – Oct 7th, 2017)

Our Little Gourmand

Joel walked into the kitchen Saturday morning and found Bear sprawled out on the tile staring intently at a recipe for Steak au Poivre in Dana Cowin’s Mastering My Mistakes In The Kitchen. I think we might have a budding gourmand on our hands. I’m hopeful that she will soon start demanding that I read to her from my cookbook collection before bed. I can’t think of better reading material than that!

The Menu


No recipe tonight. We were at our niece’s birthday party eating pizza and cake.


Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sun Dried Tomatoes (recipe from Giada De Laurentiis @ Food Network)

Turkey with high heels and an Italian accent. I love this recipe. I’ll admit it’s on the dryer side, but it’s so flavorful with the tart sun-dried tomatoes, salty feta cheese, fresh parsley, and garlic. It pairs exceptionally well with whipped cauliflower.

To make the whipped cauliflower, simply wash and chop one head of cauliflower into florets. Put the cauliflower into a steamer basket (or alternatively steam in a pan with a few inches of water) and cook until tender. Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor and add two Tbsp unsalted butter and 1/2 tsp salt. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll add a handful or fresh spinach or a few stalks of broccoli to the steamer basket to give the cauliflower whip some color. I used broccoli here.

Sides: Frozen corn

Dorie Greenspan’s Custardy Apple Squares (recipe adapted by Nicholas Day @ Food52)

I am not a baker. It’s too fussy for me. I also start to sweat when a recipe calls for one or more cups of granulated sugar. I just can’t stand the thought of dumping that much sugar into something and then eating it. This recipe, however, had me at hello. It only calls for 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Rejoice! AND, it takes mere minutes to throw together. The apple chunks made such a pleasing thud as I dropped them into the pale custard and stirred them around the bowl with a wooden spoon. The leftovers were extra delicious the following day when we ate thick wedges cold from the fridge.


Beans on Toast (recipe from Sydney Oland @ Serious Eats)

Please be advised that this is not your typical smoky baked bean recipe. This recipe is sweet and molassesey. Serve over buttered toasted sourdough bread and top with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. I’ve made this recipe many times and always find it comforting. Bear gobbled these up.

Spinach Basil and Plum Salad (recipe from Padma Lakshmi @ Food & Wine)

Who loves Padma on Top Chef? Me! Who loves this salad recipe? Me! This is a refreshing, citrusy recipe for that glut of plums I’m sure you also bought at the co-op. Bear and I ate the leftovers for lunch the following day and swapped blackberries for the plums with great success.

Sides: Carrots and cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.


Beef with Snow Peas (recipe from Ree Drummond @ Food Network)

I love the combination of sherry vinegar, soy sauce, and fresh ginger in this recipe. Truthfully, I didn’t feel like cooking the meat in batches, so I just dumped the entire bowl of beef and marinade into the wok and cooked through. It worked great and we enjoyed the meal.

Sides: Steamed zucchini with butter


Winter Pasta (recipe from Heidi Swanson @ 101 Cookbooks)

I first made this recipe for Winter Pasta back in 2011 when Joel and I were living in New York. Joel was gone for the weekend and I wanted pasta. I stopped by Whole Foods after work to pick up the ingredients and I remember feeling very satisfied that my grocery bag was light enough to carry with ease back to our apartment. The pasta came together quickly and I was soon sitting down in front of the TV to catch up on my DVR’d shows. I took one bite and ate and ate. I couldn’t get enough. I polished off the entire pan over the course of two days. It’s been a favorite ever since. I prefer to use 4oz  plain goat cheese (as opposed to 2 oz) and I find it necessary to add the juice of one entire lemon. I skip the thyme all together and the extra sprinkling of goat cheese on top. Also, I am very generous with the salt.

Sides: Sliced orange bell pepper and sautéed red cabbage (see below)

Over the years I’ve developed my own recipe for sautéed red cabbage. I plan to post a more detailed recipe on the blog but, until then, this is what I do:

Core and thinly slice one small head of red cabbage. Place the shredded cabbage in a strainer and rinse. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large skillet and add the still wet cabbage. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt over the cabbage and sauté over a medium flame until the pan is dry and the cabbage is starting to brown. Add 1/2 cup water to the hot pan and stir. Cook until the water is gone and the cabbage is beginning to brown. Continue to add and cook off 1/2 cup water at a time until the cabbage is cooked to a desired doneness. This usually comes out to a total of 1 1/2 cups water for me. Once the cabbage is cooked, stir in 2 Tbsp butter and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning.



Dinner at the neighbors + a high school football game


Red and Napa Cabbage Salad (recipe from Bon Appetit January 2007)

Every September my in-laws host Fall Fest. A group of friends are invited to spend the day at their lake home and partake in fall activities. Everyone brings a dish to share and we all eat  way too much. This salad recipe was my contribution last year. It was so good I had to make it again this year.

(Sept 24th, 2017 – Sept 30th, 2017)