Some chefs will tell you that presentation is everything.
Well that’s not exactly true, though yes, we eat with our eyes first, it’s really all about the taste.
I’ve been lucky enough to have spent 11 Valentine's Days with my husband.
Sometimes the older you get--or the longer you've been with someone--you start to think things like Valentine’s Day are silly.
Since I’m normally coming up with new and hopefully inventive recipes, there are definitely times in my kitchen where things don’t turn out quite as I expected.
And then there are the times that you put a pea on uncooked pasta, throw it in boiling water and instead of it falling apart, the pea and pasta fuse together for one insanely cute dish.
Chicken noodle soup is great and all, but if the stock you're using isn’t first class, well, the whole thing can end up tasting...just okay.
So for this recipe, I’m using veggies that will infuse the broth with a spicy, smoky flavor.
A flavor that will wake up your taste buds.
Roasted red peppers, fire roasted tomatoes, and sriracha—all things you can find in any grocery store these days!
These ingredients elevate what was once a basic soup to anything but.
But let’s be honest, I hooked you as soon as I said Sriracha Hot Chicken Soup. 😉
I’m not sure I've ever meet a kid who doesn’t like pancakes.
What’s not to love?!
Soft on the inside, slightly crisp on the outside—and covered in maple syrup, of course.
Pancakes are pretty much a perfect food.
But when the mom in me decided I wanted to make pancakes more nutritious, the chef in me knew I could use veggies.
Not only would these pancakes pack more of a nutritional punch, but I was sure the veggies would actually make them sweeter and more perfectly moist.
As I thought about all of the possible veggies that could to the trick, it didn’t take long to realize that acorn squash was the perfect person for the job.
Acorn squash's inherent sweetness and velvety texture make these pancakes something you will want to eat everyday—and because of their nutrition factor, something you actually should eat everyday.
Now I’ll always tell it to you straight, so know that as-written these pancakes are very moist.
My daughter doesn’t mind at all, but if you have kids that are already into classic pancakes, you may want to use less of the acorn squash puree (look for details in the “notes” section of the recipe).
If you do use a little less puree for a more traditional version, you'll find yourself with the perfect pancake—slightly sweet, warm, and soft yet crisp with a buttery warm yellow color.
And if you go for the more moist "toddler" version, you can truly count your pancake breakfast as a perfectly balanced meal.
Either way, I'd say we're all winners.
servings: 10 to 12 four- to five-inch pancakes
Is there really anything better than tomato soup?
Let me clarify--homemade tomato soup.
When I was younger, I was addicted to cans of the Progresso version.
I can picture myself at age 22, squeezing my way into my 2x2 foot kitchen, cracking open that blue can, and then waiting those 2 minutes for the microwave to deliver my spoils.
If only I had known how much better making my own tomato soup could be.
Like, SO much better, and requiring no skills or fancy ingredients.
And what I also couldn’t have imagined at the time was how adding tender rice to my soup would completely take it to the next level.
Or that topping it with a beautiful and refreshing three-ingredient basil yogurt drizzle would boost its amazing-factor sky-high.
But now that I know what I didn't know, let's take our tomato soup there.
We just need to sauté some garlic and onions...
Add some crushed and juiced tomatoes...
And while that all simmers, combine yogurt, basil and a little salt for a drizzle you could never find in a Progresso can.
servings: 8 cups of soup, with about ½ cup drizzle; serves 4
Check out my OUTRAGEOUSLY good sloppy joes...
These Mushroom + Beef Sloppy Joes are from my book Meat On The Side.
If you're looking for amazing comfort food that's also good for you, you owe it to yourself to give them a shot.
The secret is that the sandwich filling is half meat, half veggies! No need to feel guilty--you can eat up and enjoy!
servings: 4 Sandwiches
When I create a recipe, I’m always thinking about what different versions of a dish I can suggest to different groups of people.
For instance, sometimes I think about how to make my vegetarian recipes “meaty.”
Or I might toss out some ideas about how to make a dish more family-friendly (something adults can enjoy that kids will also eat!).
I love when—with just a few tweaks—you can make a couple of versions of a meal at the same time, so everyone is satisfied.
And it’s always a bonus if we get our kids to eat their veggies!
This Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce is one of the most melt-in-your-mouth pasta sauces I’ve ever made.
And I honestly can’t tell the difference between this version and the full-on-million-calorie version.
Actually, I can tell the difference, oh-so-slightly. And I’m not lying when I say I like this one better.
It’s garlicky, cheesy, and creamy—as you would expect.
But the cauliflower adds a whole new element that deepens the flavor and literally makes you want to eat the sauce with a spoon (nooooo, I’ve never done that 😉).
And by dividing the sauce in two and adding parsley and pepper to one half and peas to the other, you’ve got a dish that makes both parents and kids happy.
Tomato soup is fantastic!
And it’s great for those cold months when you really just need some tomato soup and grilled cheese in your belly…
But we’re not quite there yet.
And tomato soup’s cousin has come to town, ready to play!
I thought it would be fun to experiment with some zucchini (which we all might have an abundance of from our gardens right now), and make it into a soup.
But at the same time I say that, I honestly had no idea it would be this good!
Start with some onions and garlic (obviously, the best way to start!)…
Then add some zucchini and stock…
Puree with avocado for creaminess, and then some parm for kick…
And that’s it!
It’s silky and light, but still totally satisfying.
If your kids don’t gobble it right up, you’ll have no problem eating all the leftovers!
And when the leftovers are gone, just remember how easy it was to prepare everything and get it on the stove!
servings: 2; makes 3 cups
Every Sunday my husband takes my daughter, Ivy, to the diner for pancakes while I try to catch up on a weeks-worth of sleep.
Ivy LOVES pancakes.
And when I found out that her iron levels were a little on the low side, I started thinking about how I could get more iron into her diet.
Pancakes were just the thing!
I’ve done Acorn Squash Pancakes, so I figured why not try a new version by adding an iron-rich bean instead of the squash?!
I put a can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans in my batter, and I’m telling you, the result looks and tastes JUST LIKE regular pancakes!
It was so simple (opening a can of beans!) to turn a semi-indulgent breakfast into one we can feel really good about eating!
It’s easy to “eat healthy” when you’re eating like this!
makes: 10 to 12 medium (4 to 5 inches in diameter) pancakes
Fall is on its way, and I'm definitely already starting to see all things pumpkin popping up—from pumpkin lattes to pumpkin pancakes to pumpkin [fill-in-the-blank].
I am in full support of the pumpkin movement, but I find that all these things have a similar flavor.
Don't get me wrong: I love pumpkin, but I also know it can be paired with more than just cinnamon.
Because of this, I wanted to share this Pumpkin-Poblano Pasta from my book Meat On The Side. It combines pumpkin puree with peppers and shrimp for a creamy, sweet, and spicy sauce.
And the entire recipe only uses ten ingredients and is done in about the time it takes for the pasta to cook!
As a kid--and still, as an adult--I was (am!) obsessed with mac and cheese.
But my kid-self wanted nothing to do with any kind of homemade mac and cheese sporting a bubbling crust.
No, if it didn’t come out of a box, I wouldn’t go near it.
It’s been a couple of years, but there are still a lot of kids out there just like me (and maybe some adults, too).
So how do you get your kids to eat a homemade mac and cheese that’s also packed with veggies?
You make it look and taste as much like the original as possible!
The base of this sauce is pureed veggies.
There's no butter and no milk.
But there are so many hidden veggies inside, it will make your head spin.
It’s time to lose the box (...at least, sometimes)!
Cooking these days is all about finding time savers.
I'm always asking myself, What ingredients can I have on hand to make a flavorful meal quickly?
In answer to my own question, I've discovered that one food that seems to have taken up a permanent residence in my fridge--and for good reason!--is Cilantro Pesto.
Made with handfuls of cilantro, almonds, garlic, and Parmesan, this pesto can be used as a sauce or spread that instantly makes a meal special!
I’ve slathered it on pizza, spooned it over chicken, and drizzled it over shrimp. And now, I've discovered yet another dish that becomes amazing with the simple addition of Cilantro Pesto! This time, I toss it with rice, peppers, and a little tangy feta, then top the whole thing with a perfectly runny egg.
Just by having a little Cilantro Pesto in the fridge or freezer and some Veetee Rice on hand, I can make an incredible dinner in 5 minutes! No, seriously, just 5 minutes!
And of course I could cook my own rice, but this stuff is just as good!
Plus sometimes those precious 20 minutes post-Baby's-bedtime need to be spent watching the Bachelor instead of making rice.
servings: 4 cups of rice + 1¼ cups of Cilantro Pesto; serves 2
In my book, Meat On The Side, I have a Cauliflower Wing recipe...
I roast cauliflower and toss it with my famous (and famously simple!) Buffalo sauce.
Then I douse it with blue cheese and shaved celery, for a “salad” worthy of an Oscar (Or whatever type of award is appropriate for a salad. Probably not an Oscar, huh?).
It’s an easy and light way to get your Buffalo fix.
However, I've been playing with the whole cauliflower + Buffalo sauce thing for awhile now, and I've recently come up with a new version.
This one has just a few more calories and takes just a little more time, but in the end you are left with something that will really, truly satisfy your craving for wings.
The batter is simple--a combination of flour and milk...
You whisk it up, add some cauliflower, and suddenly start to see the magical way a piece of cauliflower can become a wing.
Once baked, you simply toss these "wings" with Buffalo sauce and, most importantly, prepare yourself to eat them all!
It’s a plate of wings that are baked--not fried! And it's cauliflower--not chicken!
Really, what more could you ask for?!
No need to send a thank you gift, just remember you owe me. ;)
servings: Makes 40-50 cauliflower “wings”
Summer is here!
So, of course, I’ve got summer barbecues on my mind.
And obviously that means I’ve got summer barbecue staples on my mind—potato salad, to be exact!
I think we can all agree that potatoes are great, but there are other root veggies out there that are primed for side dish glory.
Take turnips, for instance.
Turnips are a little sweeter than potatoes and make for the most amazing substitute in a “potato” salad.
Combine them with some crunchy celery, a hit of bacon, and a simple dressing made of mayo and Greek yogurt.
You’ve got a potato--I mean a turnip--salad to die for!
servings: 3 cups of salad, serves 4
There are a lot of cool things going on in this recipe.
First, the shrimp get tossed in cumin, paprika, and garlic powder, which gets them nice and spicy and gives them TONS of flavor.
Next, you're making a spread of creamy sour cream, spicy chipotle, and cool lime.
Not to mention that you're also whipping up a pineapple avocado salsa—that you should just go ahead and make extra of, because you will want to put it on EVERYTHING.
And last, all of this goodness goes on a piece of jicama that is sturdy yet flexible, and adds another layer of freshness and crunch to the dish.
And because it’s really just a slice of jicama, it takes almost no extra time.
You could use these components separately in lots of dishes this summer, or you could combine them all and make the most outrageous tacos—that are actually crazy healthy for you.
Whatever you do, you are eating good tonight!
servings: 4; makes 8 small tacos
There are a lot of good things in my book Meat On The Side (I might be a little biased?).
But this one really might take the cake—or the roll.
There's the fresh, yet hearty, caramelized celeriac that perfectly compliments the lobster, and then the crisp apple and fennel slaw with a hint of orange...
All sitting on top of this little guy.
It hits every high note.
This is the kind of dish I make for company, or when I need to do something nice for my husband (I can be a cranker when pregnant).
It’s really special, but not so fancy where you won't want to devour the whole thing in two bites.
Okay, four bites.
See? I’m dainty.
makes: 4 sandwiches
Why make your mac and cheese into a cup?
It’s cute, your kids will be more likely to eat it no matter what is inside, and you can serve it at parties!
And did I mention how cute it is?!
For this hacked version of mac and cheese, I'm adding sundried tomatoes and pesto.
Two easy-to-find, jarred ingredients that suddenly make mac and cheese feel elegant!
All you need to do is make the mac, add the sundried tomatoes, top it with pesto and parm, bake and serve!
The tomatoes deepen the flavor, while the zingy pesto adds a fresh note!
It’s mac and cheese that you can suddenly serve to guests!
Or just devour standing in the kitchen on a Tuesday night.
Either way, you win.
makes: 10 cups
Why should onions have all the fun?!
Forget the Blooming Onion (though it is undeniably delicious), because this summer the Blooming Tomato is taking over!
I’m always looking to do something new with veggies—to transform them into something special.
And sometimes just cutting a veggie in a different way can accomplish that goal...
This tomato becomes the centerpiece of a salad, and suddenly the salad is an experience and not just some lettuce and tomato.
The trick is to cut it into wedges while leaving the bottom center intact.
Then top it as you like!
I’m going with Caesar dressing, lettuce, bacon, croutons—and to make it really special for Wendy, some crab.
And just imagine this with some summer heirloom tomatoes!
Oh man, get ready for a lot of Blooming Tomatoes on my Instagram!
servings: 1; makes 1 salad
With summer finally here, I feel like I’m always looking for things I can bring to a BBQ or out to the beach—foods that can be served at room temperature, and also won't have reduced themselves to some crazy-looking concoctions by the time I get wherever we're going.
Pasta salads are always a good bet, and when you add a homemade lemon aioli (I stole the recipe from my cookbook, Meat On The Side!) and the perfect balance of textures and flavors, you are guaranteed to be the hit of the party!
For the aioli (a fancy word for mayo), you just add garlic, mustard, lemon juice, and egg yolk to a blender, then drizzle in some oil.
And the combination of those ingredients, although kind of basic, creates a taste that is out of this world—creamy, tangy, and light!
Once you add your all-star aioli to chunks of cheddar, richly-flavored sundried tomatoes, juicy grape tomatoes, and crunchy lettuce, you end up with a simple pasta salad that doesn’t taste so simple.
This incredible dish is about using familiar flavors, but making them the best they can be.
And this is the best pasta salad EVER!
servings: 4 to 6