Roasted Shrimp + Caprese Salad (with BURRATA!)

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Sometimes it is great to indulge.  Give into your wildest imagination.  Make it a reality.

One Monday afternoon, I thought, “I want shrimp.  Fresh shrimp dipped in spicy sauce.  AND I want juicy tomatoes on the side.  WITH Burrata.”  So I drove my crazy monkeys to the grocery store.  I told them we were eating shrimp and the best-freaking-caprese-salad-in-the-world.

Let’s take a moment to discuss Burrata.  Imagine if Mozzarella and Cream Cheese had a fancy love child.  It elevates.  It seduces.  It. Is. Burrata.  

We ate it.  It was divine.  Dinner still only lasted 5 minutes and it was very loud.  But I got to eat my dream dinner on a Monday.  Cheers to life!

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Roasted Shrimp:

I bought 2 lb. fresh (raw) shrimp, shelled.  I spread it on a roasting pan and drizzled with good oil and salt.  Completely optional, but you can shake a few herbs on there.  I think I did Thyme and Oregano and some Old Bay for John.  Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Maybe less.  Pro tip: You want the shrimp to curl like the letter “C”.  If they curl all the way into a letter “O” they are cooked a little too much.  See the kids plate for an example of shrimp cooked a little too thoroughly.  (and I bought the cocktail sauce premade and it was delicious :)

Caprese salad:

Slice juicy tomatoes and avocados.  Top with burrito cheese and thank the Lord you are alive.  Drizzle with good olive oil and salt and pepper.  Add some basil if you have it (i didn’t.)

Skirt Steak with Blue Cheese

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Skirt steak is one of my 15-minutes-or-less dinners.  And let’s be honest, this is more of a “meal idea” than a recipe.  The thin steak cooks up quickly, and the other raw ingredients are added to the plate. Dinner. Done.

Weird quirk about me: I have a hard time chewing steak. Flank steak is delicious and fast, but it’s always too tough.  I’ve had good luck with skirt steak.  So if there are any other flat-toothed eaters out there, skirt steak might be your new food friend.

Instructions:

1. Heat oil (coconut/vegetable/etc) in a VERY hot cast iron pan.  

2. Pat steak dry with a paper towel and give a very generous sprinkle of salt and pepper on both sides.

3. Cook steak for about 4 minutes each side.  (Adjust to personal taste, but this works for me.)

4. Plate and top with crumbled blue cheese.  Serve tomatoes and avocado on the side with a drizzle of good olive oil and flaky Maldon salt

Kid tip: if your child has zero molars they will have a hard time with steak :) I serve Baby Jack leftover salmon when we eat steak.

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Creamy Pasta with Sausage and Roasted Veggies

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This has become my favorite way to cook pasta. One pot, people! The pasta is cooked directly on top of the sausage and I use chicken broth instead of water.  So creamy, without using any cream.  It literally tastes like butter.  

Then I roast some veggies on a tray in the oven and serve them on top at the last minute.

Kid Tip: Use scissors to cut up their pasta into 1-2” pieces.  They can just shovel it into their mouths with much less mess.  (if that sounds complicated, its not.  Just edward-scissor-hands their plate before you hand it to them.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound crumbled sausage (feel free to substitute ground turkey or ground beef)
  • 1 big bunch linguine (I measure by making a circle with my pointer finger and thumb. The pasta fits in there.)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 small zucchini, chopped
  • 10 - 12 small mushrooms, chopped
  • Vegetable oil, salt, pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, brown the sausage over medium heat until cooked through completely. 
  2. Add the raw pasta directly onto of the cooked sausage. I usually break it in half.  
  3. Add 3-ish cups chicken broth and give a gentle stir (you want the majority of the pasta to be covered but not drowning/floating.) Put on high heat until the broth comes to a boil.  Then put on low heat for 15 minutes with the pot lid on. 
  4. On a foil-lined cookie sheet, spread raw veggies.  Drizzle with vegetable oil or olive oil (i use both even though i know olive oil isn’t supposed to be used at high temperatures) and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast at 400 for 20 minutes.
  5. Open the lid on the pasta. If there is still a lot of liquid, just take the lid off, give it a good stir and cook for 5 more minutes.  If the pasta doesn’t taste done and there is no liquid left, then just add a little water and leave the lid on for 5 minutes.
  6. Serve creamy, sausage pasta with roasted veggies on top.

Genius Mom Tip: Spinach Smoothies

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I should have titled this “The Smoothie All Other Mom’s Knew About But Me.”  Apparently spinach smoothies are a thing.  I didn’t know!  Where have I been!?

My kids are pretty good eaters, but neither of them will eat any sort of leafy greens.  I have tried putting spinach into spaghetti, NOPE!  I have tried spinach in quesadillas, NOPE!  But the second I say, “Let’s make smoothies!” they both come running/waddling/tripping.  I have no idea who told me about this smoothie.  If it was you, thank you!

As with most things in the kitchen right now, they go better if Jack is not there.  He is left out of the cooking action.  I feel bad for about negative 2 seconds.  Grace is pretty good about avoiding life-threatening activities, so she gets to help. She is giddy about shoving spinach into the blender.  Now we’re talking!

Step 1: Fill Blender about 3/4 full of spinach. Then dump roughly a cup of whatever yogurt you like (I use full-fat-creamy-vanilla yogurt).  Blend this up together.  If you add the frozen fruit now, the spinach turns to icy clumps.  This is not good.  

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Step 2: Dump in about 2 cups frozen berries on top of spinach/yogurt mixture.  Blend it up.  Done.  So healthy!  So good!

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Serve with a straw or a spoon!  These are pretty thick, so you might have to help the little ones get the sucking started as I demonstrate below :)

And yes, I’m a weirdo, and I don’t have any kiddie cups.  I give them smoothies in glass. They have broken.  Whatever.

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Spinach smoothies!  The best way to feel better about serving your child their 8 millionth PBJ :)

Oven-Roasted Chicken and Peppers

Chicken and peppers

These recent recipes truly capture my outlook on life these days: Keep everything simple and savor the natural flavors (of food and life.)  

This Oven-Roasted Chicken is as simple as it gets.  We call it “Chicken on the Bone” and the kids get a kick out of eating it with their hands.  

A quick reminder on my approach to buying meats:

  1. Buy Fresh (i.e. speak to a human to get your meat)
  2. Get bone-in when available
  3. Chicken skin is delicious. Leave it on. 

I used whole chicken legs for this recipe, but that’s a matter of personal taste.  If you like chicken breasts, feel free to use those instead.

Step 1: Lay chicken in a pan or cookie sheet.  Surround with roughly chopped bell peppers.  I keep the slices bigger as they will stay in the oven for a while.  The bigger size helps them not get soggy.

Step 2: Drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil and a very generous sprinkle salt and pepper.

Step 3: Roast at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes. The skin should be golden and crispy.  (Probably 30 minutes for smaller chicken thighs, or chicken without the bone.) 

Sometimes, we eat chicken and peppers all by themselves.  Sometimes, I serve over rice. Here’s to simple life and simple dinners!

Braised Short Ribs (aka Nap-time Short Ribs)

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Sometimes I tackle dishes over and over, and I can’t seem to get them right.  A good Short Rib has been one of those dishes for me.  At some point, I just gave up trying to do it fancy.  I dumped a few things in a pot and put the heat lower than I ever thought safe for cooking meat.  Several hours later, I realized I had cracked the code.  I make these short ribs about once a week, because they are so easy.

I call them my nap-time short ribs: I take about 10 minutes to prep these when the kids go to sleep around 1 pm, and throw them in the oven. I pull them out around 6 pm, and dinner is ready. (I serve them with rice, but I can cook that anytime.)

These are the exact ingredients: (but I explain how easy substitutions are below)
  • 3 pounds bone-in short ribs
  • 1 onion
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp. soysauce
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock/broth
Braising is usually three steps:
  1. Sear the meat
  2. Throw in any aromatics (onions/garlic/fruit/cilantro etc.)
  3. Pour in braising liquid (wine/stock/soy sauce etc.) and cook low and slow
I don’t stray from this formula.  But first, a few notes on the pot to use.  The same pot is used to sear the meat on the stove and then braise it in the oven. You can use cast iron, enameled cast iron, stainless steel or a copper pot as long as it doesn’t have a wooden/plastic/synthetic handle.  If your pot has a plastic/rubber handle it will melt in the oven.  It will smell bad.  You don’t want this to happen.  You also want the pot to have a lid so you contain all the goodness while its cooking in the oven.

Step 1: Sear the Meat
So now that you have an oven-safe pot . . . Heat some oil until it is VERY hot.  I test this by sprinkling a tiny bit of water when I think it is hot enough.  If the water sizzles right away, you are ready to go.  Give your short ribs a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and put them in the hot oil.  Seer short ribs on all sides.  This might only take about 1 minute per side.

When I promised you terrible iPhone pictures on this blog I wasn’t kidding.  Here is my meat searing in all its phone-photo glory:

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Step 2: Aromatics
This part is optional.  Anything you put in will make these ribs better, but if you don’t put anything, they are still delicious.  This particular day I sliced an onion  and threw in about 6 whole garlic cloves (peeled).  Everything gets so soft and juicy that big hunks of onion/garlic in the final dish are an awesome thing.

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I also chopped up the entire head of cilantro, stems included and threw them in (I must have taken this picture before I added the cilantro.)  Good rule of thumb, if you are cooking the cilantro, you can use the stems.  If you are just sprinkling it on top of a dish after it has cooked, only use the leaves.

In the past I have thrown in a chopped pear after reading this post.  I have also completely skipped this step, because the only thing I had in the house was a loaf of bread.

Step 3: Liquid
I am very scientific about this step.  This is exactly what I did: 2 glugs of red wine from the bottle I had open. 1 smaller glug of soy sauce. 1 more small glug of Worcestershire sauce. About 4 glugs of chicken stock (I like this kind but anything is fine.)  Basically add liquid until your short ribs are covered about 50% with liquid.

Then I put a lid on the pot, and put it in the oven at 275 degrees F for roughly 5 hours.  This temperature is SO LOW and therefore SO FORGIVING.  Five hours is what works with my schedule.  If you needed to leave it in for 6 or 7 hours it would probably be just fine.  If you needed to take it out at 4 hours because everyone is starving I bet it would be fine too.  Open up the lid and take a fork to the ribs.  You want them to fall apart when you pull at them.  If they do that, they are ready!

I served over rice and sprinkled a little bit of my extra cilantro on top.  These would also be great over sweet potatoes.

This is Baby Jack’s dinner plate.  Braised short ribs are particular nice for humans without many teeth because the meat is SO tender.  It shreds itself when they pick it up.

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Genius Mom Tip: Frozen Peas

Jack and peas

My least-foody friend gave me a tip that has changed my life: Babies love frozen peas.

Just serve the peas straight from the freezer bag - no cooking required.  Great for teething.  Great for something fun to touch . . . ooooh so cold, but wait! So squishy.  The peas melt in your mouth in about five seconds, so they are easy for babies to gum and eat.

Both of my kids usually flip their shiesters about 10 minutes before I have dinner ready.  What do I do with crazy monkies screaming for food? Give them frozen peas.  And when they get old enough I give them a few different utensils with which they can battle the peas.  Keeps them busy and contained.  When they are so hungry they want to eat their arms off, they gleefully scarf down peas.  Win Win Win x10.

*** Disclaimer: I have zero medical background and I have no official opinion on when to start solids.  In my personal experience, the frozen peas entered my daily arsenal around eight-months-ish.

And yes, those are Christmas jammies in March.  That’s how we roll.

Pork Chops with Apple Sage Butter

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This recipe looks fairly fancy (well, fancier than a can of beans . . . the bar is set pretty low around here.) But honestly this entire dinner was cooked in 20 minutes. Twenty minutes which also included pulling crayons out of someone's mouth, giving someone else a timeout for repeatedly hitting her brother in the face, changing a diaper, helping someone who fell off the potty . . . and opening up a bottle of wine. You get the picture.

First a few notes on buying pork chops:

  • Only buy fresh. You should need to talk to a human to get your meat.
  • At my grocery store you can either choose "thin cut" which is about 3/4" thick, or "thick cut" which is about 1.5 - 2" thick. My cooking method is slightly different for each, but I've included it below.
  • If you have a choice for bone-in or boneless, ALWAYS CHOOSE BONE-IN. The bone adds a ton of flavor, and the bits right around the bone are the best. Yes, my family and I gnaw on the bones like animals. Family bonding :)
  • And while you are grocery shopping, buy FRESH SAGE. It's in the produce section. Sage should look like leaves on a stem - not flakes in a jar.

Okay . . . now for how to cook it. As with all meat, I like to give it a good sear and then cook through.

If possible, bring pork chops to room temperature before you start cooking. Ideally, you don't want them right out of the fridge (but you do what you have to do.) Pat them dry with a paper towel and give them a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper on both sides.

In a cast iron skillet, heat some vegetable oil over medium/high heat until VERY hot.

Add pork chops to the pan, and you should hear the sizzle right away. Now DON'T TOUCH for 3-ish minutes. If you move them around they won't get that nice brown sear you want. After 3 minutes (or whenever you see one has a nice brown sear underneath) flip it and do the other side for the same amount of time.

During this time, peel and chop an apple or two (for cooking I like a tart apple like a granny smith.) This is also the time to wash and pull sage leaves off the stem.

For thin-cut pork chops: once both sides are seared, I just leave them in the pan over medium heat for about three more minutes and this should cook it through just fine. (I have been known to cut open a piece to make sure it isn't bright pink inside. A little pink is fine as it will continue to cook for awhile.) Remove pork chops to a plate.

For thick-cut chops: I put the whole cast-iron pan in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Then you can do the next step in a separate pan while the chops finish cooking through.

In the same hot pan with all the leftover pork chop goodness, add quite a bit of butter (I would say one tablespoon for each pork chop). As it melts, add the apples and sage. This should all cook together into a nice caramel color in about 3 - 5 minutes. Pour this magic over the pork chops and enjoy how fantastic your entire house smells. 

I try to serve each entree with whatever two vegetables I have on hand.  This day, spinach and tomatoes happen to be the winner-winners. Feel free to serve with whatever your heart desires.  I sautéed spinach (stir in a hot pan with butter for 4 minutes) and sliced tomatoes.  I prepared both of these as the apples/sage were cooking in the butter.

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And here is "the goose" gnawing on a pork chop. We are classy.

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Two years later . . .

Hello? Any lingering readers out there?

It has been about two years since my last post. We have been swallowed whole by this amazing thing called Parenthood. We now have two kiddos. One daughter with a flair for the dramatic, and one son who basically functions as a laid back vacuum cleaner - scarfing down anything in front of him - edible or not.

About once a week someone asks me: "Are you still cooking?"

My quick and honest reply: "We eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Who wants to read a blog about PBJs?"

(Although I would like to take this moment to remind everyone without children to go make a PBJ. THEY ARE SO DELICIOUS!!! Why did I wait until I had kids to eat them daily?)

Two years later, we are starting to come up for air. I am cooking dinner every night. The kids are in the kitchen with me - either laughing or screaming or dancing or pooping (or all of the above.)

So this is my re-entry to the food-blogging world. I want to document our real-life dinners. Real life with small kids. Real life where I am usually holding a human while I cook. Real life where I have about 15 minutes to cook, and our family dinner lasts less than 5 minutes - start to finish.

The pictures will be terrible. The recipes will be ingredients that can be quickly stacked together into a meal. And the writing will be filled with my honesty/love/frustration. First recipe below . . . 

Fish and Veggies (and Butter)

My tastes haven't changed in the last few years. I still love fish and veggies. I crave salmon almost every other day. I like it simple: seasoned with butter and salt.

I wish I could say we only eat wild salmon. Unfortunately, my husband and I are crazy about the farm-raised Atlantic salmon they sell at Whole Foods. We buy it fresh and cook it no later than the next day. I'm writing this out mainly for my mother. Madre Mia, if you are reading . . . don't buy frozen fish. It will never taste good.

Happy coincidence, salmon is one of the only proteins my son can eat without any help. He has roughly 8 teeth, so pork chops are still a struggle :) But a fillet of salmon can be flaked in between his chubby fingers and gummed in his delicious mouth. Needless to say, we eat a lot of salmon.

And the fewer dishes we have to wash the better. This dinner is prepared on one cookie sheet. I lined it with foil just to make clean-up even easier.

Place fish fillets skin side down. Surround with any veggies you like: mushrooms, red peppers, sugar snap peas, etc. Melt some butter in a bowl (I do about 1 tbsp. butter per fillet of salmon because I don't like to scrimp on the delicious things in life.) Pour butter over the fish and veggies, and give it a VERY generous sprinkle of course kosher salt. Add some pepper if you like it. Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.

There are several elegant ways to tell if fish is ready, but I don't have a lot of time for elegance these days. I just appoint one piece of fish as my sacrificial ugly piece. I flake it with a fork, and when it flakes easily, it is ready to come out. (see middle piece above for ugly flaking.)

Jack inhaled the dinner, then tried to lick his plate. That my friends, is a face covered in butter/salmon juice. We declared it time to take a bath :)

Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

A lot has happened in the last few months. Our baby girl is growing like crazy. Her cheeks are as big as ever and her thighs are extra squishy. Her cuteness (and sleeplessness) has kept us from posting any of our cooking adventures. But we're going to get better.

We also moved into a new home. It is awesome, but the awesome-est part of all is that we inherited a garden. mint! basil! eggplant! jalapenos! and the star of today's post . . . SAGE! sweet sweet sage that begs to be put in a pot of browning butter. Honestly, you could pour this brown butter sage sauce over anything and it will make you want to lick it like a cake batter bowl. But we served it over sweet potatoes, and we are never going back.

and a little look at our growing nugget and the garden . . . we have the privilege of tending to them both.

and now back to business . . . the cast of characters for today's meal:

The process is simple: slice the sweet potatoes with skin and all into 1/2 inch rings. Roast them with a little olive oil and salt for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Meanwhile melt butter in a sauce pan until it starts to turn brown. Then remove butter from heat and add chopped sage. The sage will basically fry in the heat and your kitchen will start to smell like heaven. Serve sweet potatoes and spoon brown butter sage sauce on top.

We enjoyed these guys with some grilled chicken thighs and an arugula salad.

Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Serves 2 very hungry people

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 10 sage leaves, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
  • salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash sweet potatoes, and slice into 1/2 inch rings. Place sweet potatoes on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil (maybe a teaspoon or two) and a pinch of salt (i love salt so I use a HEFTY pinch.)
  3. Put sweet potatoes in oven and roast for 20 minutes, flip once, then roast for 20 more minutes.
  4. Melt butter in small sauce pan. When butter starts to turn a light brown color, remove from heat and add sage leaves. The heavenly mixture will bubble and the leaves will start to crisp. This is incredible.
  5. Spoon brown butter sage sauce over sweet potatoes and enjoy!

Flatbread Pizza

I almost titled this post "Mom Meal #1." It is quick. It is easy. It is delicious. It can be made while wearing an infant in a Baby Bjorn. But I realize baby or not, we are ALL looking for quick and easy meals to make. So this post is not inspired or fancy. It is just an idea for a simple recipe to add to your weeknightrepertoire. Flatbread pizza. Really just a matter of assembly.

But sometimes a simple recipe needs explanation. What kind of flatbread should I use? (I like Naan.) Do you cook the bread first or just put on all the toppings? (I toast the naan in the oven for about 3 minutes before adding the sauce and toppings.) What kind of cheese should you use? (Mozzarella.) If you're using meat, do you need to cook that first? (Yes, cook it first. Or use smoked kielbasa sausage since it's already cooked.) How long do you cook the pizza? (10 minutes at 400 degrees.)

And a little sneak peak into my new cooking set up:

Flatbread Pizza

Serves 2

  • 2 pieces Naan
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch coarse sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons pizza sauce
  • 5(ish) mushrooms sliced
  • 2 handfulls of smoked kielbasa sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 handfull of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. (this isn't mandatory but it keeps the melted cheese from sticking.)
  3. Drizzle olive oil on Naan and add a pinch of sea salt. Toast in oven for about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove Naan and top with pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your toppings of choice.
  5. Cook in oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is nice and melted.
  6. Remove pizza from oven and top with fresh basil.

Enjoy!

Flank Steak with Goat Cheese Salad

Phew we made it! We are back in the kitchen, with a little baby girl sleeping by my side. (Turns out I like to give Gracie cooking lessons. She responds by grunting in her sleep.)

First up . . . a hearty salad that the man will call a meal. Spinach topped with flank steak, goat cheese and caramelized onions. It's not the speediest salad to throw together, but it was delicious and ready in about 40 minutes.

(i forgot to include the walnuts in the ingredient picture. oops. feel free to add some walnuts.)

We start by marinating the flank steak. Drop it in a medium sized bowl with olive oil, vinegar, chopped garlic and salt. Then place in the fridge for 30 minutes (or as long as you please.) I'm also learning that it is nearly impossible to take an appealing photograph of raw meat. My apologies for the photo below, but I wanted to show all the steps.

While the steak is marinating, we'll caramelize the onions. Slice a raw onion length wise from root to tip, then remove the peel. Lay cut side down and then slice onions length-wise into 1/4 inch slices.

Heat olive oil a wide pan (as much surface area as possible since you want all the onions to touch the pan.) Once the oil is slightly shimmery, add the onions with a little salt. Adjust heat to medium or medium low. You want the onions to caramelize slowly but not char (like mine did slightly.) If they start to look dry, just add a bit of water. You will let them cook down slowly for about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

The onions are ready when the are a deep brown color and very, very soft.

Now for the steak . . . Remove onions from the pan and add a little more oil (keep at medium heat.) You know the oil is ready when you sprinkle a little water in it and it sizzles. Place flank steak in pan and cook until desired doneness (about 6 minutes each side for medium well.) Since we are going to slice the flank steak anyway, I just cut into mine to see if it was ready. I know this lets out a little of the sacred juices, but I don't really care these days :)

When the steak is cooked to your liking, slice it up and lay atop a bed of spinach. Add a few of those caramelized onions and a sprinkling of goat cheese, and feel free to add walnuts if you please. To finish, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and dinner is served. Enjoy!

Flank Steak with Goat Cheese Salad

Serves 2 / Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • Spinach leaves, the more the better
  • 1/2 lb. flank steak
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup tablespoons walnuts
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt

1. Place steak in medium sized bowl and drizzle with 1/2 cup-ish olive oil, 1 glug of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of salt, and the finely chopped garlic cloves. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer.

2. Heat olive oil in wide pan over medium heat. Add onion slices and a pinch of salt and let caramelize for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. They are ready when they turn a deep brown color.

3. Remove onions from the pan and add a little more oil. When oil sizzles if splashed with water, you are ready to cook the steak. Cook steak for about 6 minutes each side or until desired doneness.

4. Slice steak and place a top bed of spinach with onions, sprinkles of goat cheese, walnut pieces and finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

the best reason for not blogging


Our daughter has arrived! Grace Marie joined our family on Leap Day and now we can't imagine life without her. It has been an incredible month of sleepless nights and snuggly days.

I just started cooking again which feels great, but we've been so consumed with taking pictures of Baby Girl that we've been neglecting the food photo shoots. I'm sure we will resume soon, so stay tuned!

The bachelor brother returns . . . with pork

My bachelor brother is growing up... He moved into a new house, cares for some ridiculously beautiful house plants, and even owns an apron! Let me remind you of his previous living arrangements. From beer bottles and pizza boxes, to aprons and marble countertops. Quite a transformation.

The time arrived for our second cooking lesson. So, me (and my giant baby belly) came over to teach the bachelor a basic meal, fit for his new digs.

I wanted to show him how to create a balanced meal in roughly 30 minutes. Having plenty of leftovers is still a requirement, so we decided on a Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and an Arugula salad. All man-friendly and fairly well rounded.

First up . . . Pork Tenderloin. The brother followed instructions like a champ. He let the pork rest until it reached room temperature before we began. He didn’t put the raw pork on his wooden cutting board. Kudos on all fronts.

Then we got started. A healthy coating of salt and pepper on both sides of the tenderloin.

Then peel the garlic and slice into thin slivers. He made some sort of funny comment about making garlic shafts or blades, but I forgot. Growing a human has sucked all my brain power and my ability to remember (anything) words.

Notice the extremely large blade in the photo above. You will see it in all the photos. It’s a horrible blunt object, barely connected to a plastic handle. (Note to self: hook a brother up with a nice knife for his next birthday present.)

Brother bear plunged that crude knife all over the tenderloin. Then he slide the garlic slices into these slits. We’re all having fun now.

Now for the cooking. Brother remembered that searing meat before cooking helps keep it juicy. Searing also gives meat good color and a crispy touch to add texture.

So we heated oil in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Once the oil was sizzling hot, the pork went in for a quick 1 minute sear on all four ‘sides’.

Once there is a nice sear, we added about a cup of chicken broth to the pan to keep it juicy. Then into a preheated oven at 400° for about 20 to 30 minutes.

We removed pork from oven, and covered with foil, making sure to let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This keeps all the juices from running out to quickly.

Meanwhile . . . the sweet potatoes get their turn in the spotlight.

I cook and share these often. They are easy, nutritious and compliment almost any main dish.

The potatoes got a quick peel from the large knife-like object since the brother doesn’t own a peeler. No harm, no foul.

He chopped those sweet potatoes with confidence. We had a little chat about the benefits of chopping into even size chunks to make sure it all cooked evenly.

The artist admires his work:

I wanted to teach my brother that a light coating of corn starch helps these ‘taters get crispy. Always the adventurer . . . I see my brother take a bite of corn starch, which he astutely observes “does not taste good.” Well, now he knows.

Then a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt from the hand of God (as it appears below.)

And into the oven at 400° for about 15 minutes. Give a stir, and then broil for a few minutes to help them crisp up.

Mmm, sweet potatoes. You know they are ready when they have slightly charred edges, and you can easily pierce with a fork.

Now every meal needs a little green, and a simple arugula salad gets the job done. Peppery arugula is spread on a plate, then topped with shaved pecorino cheese. Pecorino is very close to parmesan, but I find it to be saltier (i.e. better!) Drizzle a little olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar (which my brother had stored in the fridge?) and an additional sprinkle of coarse kosher salt. Altogether, Yum.

Pork Tenderloin

Adapted from Simply Recipes

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A little olive oil
  1. Let pork tenderloin rest at room temperature before cooking.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, while you liberally coat both sides with salt and pepper. Get crazy.
  3. Peel garlic cloves and slice into very thin slivers.
  4. Stab pork with a knife to create slits, and place garlic slivers into the slits.
  5. Heat oil over medium/high heat in a pan that can easily transfer to the oven (cast iron, copper, stainless steel, etc.)
  6. When oil sizzles AGGRESSIVELY if you splash a little water in it, add the pork, and sear on all four ‘sides’ for about 30 seconds - 1 minute each side. You should see each side turn a crispy, golden brown.
  7. After the pork is seared, add about a cup of chicken broth to the pan. You could also throw in a little white wine.
  8. Place in the 400° oven for about 20 minutes.
  9. Remove and let rest covered with foil for 10 minutes.
  10. Slice into 1-inch slices. Pork should be slightly pink in the very center, but definitely cooked through.

Roasted Sweet Potato recipe

And thank you to the man who makes this blog (and my life) beautiful: