Smooth and Creamy Polenta


Food 1

I had some extra medium-grind corn meal sitting in my cabinet and I didn’t feel like making another loaf of cornbread, so I decided to try polenta. I had some meat sauce on hand which served as a perfect topping.

Before trying this recipe, I had only ever cooked this sweet corn polenta, made from fresh corn. It’s one of my favorite summer recipes. Once, a long time ago, I purchased polenta in a tube and cooked it. I didn’t like it at all and consequently thought I didn’t like polenta. As with many dishes, a homemade version can be quite different from a pre-packaged store-bought version. Knowing this, I decided to give this recipe a try.

There are a couple of ways that you can prepare this polenta. If you’re organized, you can soak the cornmeal overnight, cutting your preparation time almost in half. If you’re not that organized (and I’m certainly not), you’ll have to cook the polenta for a little longer. This is a dish similar to risotto, in that you should plan to be in the kitchen while it’s cooking because it needs to be stirred periodically.

I have made this several times and each time I chose to use water as the cooking liquid. The recipe suggests water, milk or stock. Milk will make the resulting polenta creamier and a bit heavier. Using stock will be similar to using water, but will add a bit more flavor. I let the flavor in my dinner come from the meat sauce that I used to top the polenta. In addition to the sauce, you can also top the polenta with grated cheese, like Parmesan.

I thought this was a delicious dinner. I was hoping the boys might think so too, at least the plain polenta. No luck. Next time, I think I’ll make the polenta, press it into a baking dish and chill it overnight. Once it sets, I’ll try to cut it into squares and pan fry it. Maybe they’ll like that. Fingers crossed.

Smooth and Creamy Polenta
Recipe from Serious Eats

5 cups water, milk, or stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup medium or coarse cornmeal
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil

If using the pre-soaking method, which requires advance planning but cuts cooking time roughly in half, combine water with cornmeal in a large mixing bowl and let stand, covered, at room temperature overnight. When ready to cook, scrape soaked cornmeal and water into a large saucier or saucepan and set over high heat. If using the standard method, add water to a 3-quart saucier or saucepan and set over high heat. Sprinkle in cornmeal while whisking (water does not have to be boiling).

In either case, pre-soaking method or not, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Let boil, stirring frequently, until polenta thickens enough that it starts to spit. Lower heat immediately to prevent spitting and continue to cook, stirring frequently with a spoon or silicone spatula and scraping bottom to prevent scorching, until polenta becomes thick and pulls away from side of saucepan, about 30 minutes for pre-soaked cornmeal and 50 minutes for dry cornmeal. Season with salt.

Stir in butter or olive oil using either a spoon, silicon spatula, or whisk. If polenta forms lumps, beat vigorously with a stiff whisk to remove. If polenta becomes too firm or begins to set, add a small amount of water, stock, or milk, and beat in with a whisk until fully incorporate and no lumps remain.

Serve right away with accompaniment of your choice, or scrape into a vessel and chill until set, then cut into pieces for grilling, searing, or frying.

Yield: ~ 3 – 4 servings

One year ago: Spring Root Vegetable Casserole
Two years ago: Gail’s Rolled Sugar Cookies with Piped Icing
Three years ago: Avocado Mango Salad
Four years ago: Caramels
Five years ago: Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Six years ago: Peanut Butter Cup Bars
Seven years ago: Butterscotch Blondies
Eight years ago: Crispy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

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Texas Sheet Cake


Choc cake

This is a delicious cake that is easy to throw together, and if you like to bake, there’s a good chance that you’ll have all of the ingredients on hand. I made this cake the other night for dessert, and it was very good, warm, out of the oven. The frosting was soft and slightly runny on the warm cake. The next day, we had another piece for dessert. The bulk of the cake had been left on the counter overnight, wrapped in plastic. One piece, the one that was used in the photograph, was wrapped and put into the refrigerator. The cake from the counter was good, but the piece from the refrigerator was really good. That night, we put the remaining cake, and there wasn’t much, into the freezer. The next day, the frozen cake was outstanding! I mean really outstanding. The frosting reminded me of fudge. The cake didn’t get very hard. It was still very easy to cut with a knife or fork, but there was something about the frozen cake that was out of this world. It reminded me of when I used to like frozen Devil Dogs, except this cake froze to a much nicer taste and consistency.

This is a very thin cake, because it’s made in a half-sheet pan. Mine was ~ 13″ x 18″. I think the cake has a great cake to frosting ratio. Not too much of either; just the right amount.

The recipe calls for mixing finely chopped pecans into the frosting. I think that would be delicious, but the boys would have hated it, so I left the nuts out. One of the beauties of this cake is that you can mix the whole thing by hand (no blender necessary) and have it in the oven in no time at all, and because the cake is thin, it doesn’t take that long to cook either. It’s great for a crowd. Serve it right out of the sheet pan.

If you don’t happen to have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own. If you want to make a cup of buttermilk, fill a glass measuring cup with milk just shy of the 1-cup mark. Add a Tablespoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice and let the mixture sit on your counter for 5-10 minutes. The buttermilk won’t be quite as thick as the stuff you buy in the store, but it will work perfectly for a recipe like this.

Texas Sheet Cake
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 heaping Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 sticks butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 whole eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, optional
1-3/4 stick butter
4 heaping Tablespoons of cocoa powder
6 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound (minus 1/2 Cup) powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.
Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into half sheet pan (no need to grease it) and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, make the icing. If using, chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans (if you’ve chosen to use them), stir together, and pour over the warm cake.

Yield: ~24 servings

Two years ago: Chocolate Sheet Cake with Delicious Vanilla Frosting
Three years ago: Pasta and White Beans with Broccoli Pesto
Four years ago: Carrot Coconut Milk Soup
Five years ago: Mexican-Style Slaw with Jícama, Cilantro and Lime
Six years ago: Vanilla Brown Sugar Breakfast Polenta
Seven years ago: Chick Pea Soup

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Sautéed Edamame Salad



I love summer vegetable salads like this one where very little cooking is involved, and it’s mostly chopping and assembly. I make lots of these in the summer. They’re SO good when tomatoes and corn are in season. The weather has started to get warm here in NYC and despite the fact that fresh corn is not yet available, I decided to try this salad. I opted for frozen corn, which turned out to be just fine. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they sell 12-oz bags of shelled edamame in their freezer section.

The original recipe is named “Roasted Edameme Salad”. If I had fresh corn, I might have opted for roasting it, but I decided to throw the ingredients into a big sauté pan and cook them that way. For some reason, it seemed easier at the time. I sautéed the vegetables for about 15 minutes, then put them in a bowl to cool. I actually stuck the bowl in the freezer to expedite the cooling process. After about 15 minutes, I tossed the cooled edamame mixture with the chopped tomatoes, basil and red wine vinegar. I was surprised by how good the salad was. I was a little skeptical that it would be tasty with only red wine vinegar as the dressing, so I was prepared to doctor it, but no doctoring was necessary. It was delicious as is. Definitely no need for a fancy dressing.

This will most certainly become part of my summer side-dish rotation. It makes a great lunch the next day too.

Roasted Edamame Salad
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown via

12 ounces fresh or frozen shelled edamame, about 2 cups
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels, about 2 ears of corn
1/4 cup finely diced scallions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Place the edamame, corn, scallions, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper into a large sauté pan and stir to combine. Sauté until the vegetables soften and begin to brown. Remove from the oven and place the vegetables in a bowl and let them cool in the refrigerator. They should be cool in about 20-30 minutes. Once cool, add the tomato, basil and vinegar to the edamame mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings

One year ago: Chock-Full-of-Chips Drops
Two years ago: Provençal Cherry Tomato Gratin
Three years ago: Black Bean and Pepper Jack Burgers
Four years ago: Strawberry-Orange-Vanilla Smoothie
Five years ago: Shortbread Cookies
Six years ago: Sweet Potato Bread
Seven years ago: Asian Salmon Burgers

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Secretly Healthy Fudge Balls


fudge balls

My friend Kathleen sent me a link to this recipe last weekend. She was trying to replicate fudge balls that she had eaten at a dinner party. She asked me what I thought of the recipe, and I took one look and told her that she shouldn’t waste her time; the resulting fudge balls would be terrible. I just couldn’t imagine black beans doubling as fudge. After reading some of the reviews, I decided to give the recipe a try, and I have to say that I hereby stand corrected. The fudge balls were delicious. Who knew that ground up beans could pass as fudge.

When I made them, I brought them out on a plate and asked the boys if they wanted to try one. The first question I got was – are they made with cheese? broccoli? The boys don’t trust me any more. When I assured them that they weren’t made with cheese OR broccoli, they deigned to try them although they still didn’t trust me. Three out of four boys loved them. One said it tasted like coconut and he spit it out. That’s the one that pretty much only eats peanut butter sandwiches.

The original recipe calls for a thin chocolate glaze. I had some Ghirardelli melting wafers on hand, so I used those as a glaze. I like a good, crunchy chocolate shell.

The recipe makes about a dozen fudge balls. If you need more, double or triple the recipe. If you’re making a single batch, I highly recommend using a mini food processor. I fear that the ingredients for a single batch would get lost in a standard sized food processor.

Give these a shot and try to fool your family, like I did. If you are reading this and happen to know my family, please don’t tell them that I served bean balls for dessert the other night. Thanks.

Secretly Healthy Fudge Balls
Recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie

2/3 cup cooked or canned black beans (120g)
2 1/2 tsp virgin coconut oil (See below for a substitution)
2 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/16 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp granulated sugar
optional: chocolate melting wafers (I used Ghirardelli)

Drain the beans and rinse them VERY well. This is important! Then combine all ingredients in a mini food processor or blender and blend until COMPLETELY smooth. Refrigerate so the coconut oil hardens and the mixture is firm enough to roll into balls with your hands. Once rolled, return to the fridge. If you are going to dip them in chocolate, line a small cookie sheet or a plate with parchment paper, melt the wafers and roll the fudge balls in the melted chocolate. Once dipped, place the fudge balls on the parchment paper and return them to the refrigerator until the chocolate sets. Store the fudge balls in a covered container for up to a week. They can be frozen as well.

Yield: ~12 fudge balls, approximately 1″ in diameter

One year ago: Brigadeiros (Brazilian Fudge Balls)
Two years ago: Braised Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas with Lemon
Three years ago: Peanut Butter Cup Blondies
Four years ago: Caramels
Five years ago: Yucatán Pork Tenderloin
Six years ago: Carole’s Country Style Spare Ribs
Seven years ago: Buttermilk Bran Muffins

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Nutella Biscuits



The other morning, one of my sons asked me what I was planning to make for breakfast. I almost always offer them something homemade. Since it was a weekend morning and we didn’t have to worry about getting to school, I asked if he wanted to help me make something. It’s unusual that one of the boys wants to help me cook, so I was excited. We looked for an interesting looking breakfast recipe and came across this one. Biscuits are traditionally very easy to make, and the swirl of Nutella really appealed to him.

Three out of my four boys like Nutella. When done, we presented the biscuits as chocolate-swirl biscuits, and guess what – the one who claims he doesn’t like Nutella had no idea he was eating it. He’s the pickiest eater we have. I’m wondering if I can somehow present healthy things with new names and get him to try them. Somehow I doubt it, but if you have any ideas, please let me know.

I’m not a huge Nutella fan, but these biscuits are really delicious. The biscuits themselves are not sweet at all. The Nutella gives them a nice hint of chocolaty sweetness. They disappeared from the kitchen in record time. I’m lucky that we had time to snap a photo of the last three before they were scarfed down.

Nutella Biscuits
Recipe slightly adapted from Two Peas and their Pod

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Nutella
Sea salt, for sprinkling on biscuits, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper for a Silpat liner and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix in cold butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir with a spatula until combined. Roll the dough into a rectangle and spread the Nutella on it. Roll the dough into a log and slice it into 8 or 9 pieces (think cinnamon rolls.)

Place the sliced dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the biscuits with sea salt, if desired. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until tops are slightly golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool to room temperature and serve.

Yield: 8 or 9 biscuits


One year ago: Polish Cabbage, Bacon and Potato Casserole
Two years ago: Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl
Three years ago: Sugar Cookies with Nutella and Sea Salt
Four years ago: Chocolate and Meringue Angel Pie
Five years ago: Pad Thai with Chicken and Shrimp
Six years ago: Herbed Basmati Rice
Seven years ago: Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Magic Granola Bars



I’m always on the lookout for healthy snacks for the boys to eat. As snack foods go, these bars aren’t terrible. They’re still a sweet snack, but they’re preservative free, unlike many of the granola bars that you buy at the supermarket. Three out of the four boys liked these. My husband and I liked them too, as did my mother. This recipe made 9 bars, and they didn’t last long. You have to be a fan of coconut to like these, you can definitely taste the coconut in them. Next time I make these, I might try to make them with unsweetened coconut.

This recipe gives you a number of options. For the sweetener, you can use honey, maple syrup or agave. I used maple syrup. It also calls for oat flour. I don’t ever have oat flour in my kitchen, so I took some oats, threw them in the food processor and blended away until I had a fine powder. That became my oat flour.

These granola bars are reminiscent of the Magic Cookie Bars, or 7-Layer Bars, as we sometimes called them, that I made years ago.

The boys have requested that I make these again, which I will. That’s always a great endorsement for a recipe.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Magic Granola Bars
Recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie

1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used the sweetened kind)
1/4 cup oat flour, or grind up rolled oats in a food processor, then measure out 1/4 cup
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons agave, honey or pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons of milk, if using agave or maple syrup. If using honey, use 1/4 cup of milk.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Grease a loaf pan and preheat oven to 400 F. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until evenly incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan, spread out, and press down VERY firmly with a sheet of wax paper or a small spatula. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and press them down very firmly again. Wait for the bars to cool completely before trying to invert the loaf pan onto a plate. If you don’t, they might crumble. When cooled completely, they should come out of the pan in one big piece. Cut into bars. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers for optimal freshness.

Yield: ~9 bars

One year ago: Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup
Two years ago: Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Three years ago: Chipotle Quinoa with Corn and Black Beans
Four years ago: Oatmeal Cranberry and Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Five years ago: Crisp Roasted Potatoes
Six years ago: Dinner Spanakopita
Seven years ago: Grandma Sachs’ Crumb Cake

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Lemon Herb Quinoa with Spring Peas and Basil



I have made this quinoa dish several times now, always serving it with chicken dishes (we eat a lot of chicken in our house). The original recipe calls for adding 1/4 cup of shelled hemp seeds. To date, I have not found hemp seeds in any of the markets in which I shop, so I left them out of the recipe. Perhaps I’ll be able to find them in a health food store. Even without the hemp seeds, this recipe is delicious. It’s the sweet mustard dressing that does it for me. It’s great served both warm or cold (although I slightly prefer it warm.) It’s great as a leftover as well. The fresh basil will get dark overnight in the fridge, but the taste won’t change.

The boys, as usual, wanted nothing to do with this recipe. My vegetarian son tried it under duress, and claimed he didn’t like it. Tonight I’m going to make some plain quinoa and try to get the boys to eat that. I’ve tried it a number of times in the past, and no one liked it, but I think it’s high time to try it again. Plain quinoa with a little melted butter and some salt – yum! Now if I can only convince the boys…

Lemon Herb Quinoa with Spring Peas and Basil

Adapted ever so slightly from

1 cup Quinoa, dry
2 cups Water, cold
1 cup Green peas, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup Fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon Sea salt (plus a little extra)
1 dash Black pepper

Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer with cold water. Transfer to a pot and add the 2 cups cold water and a nice pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, and leave the lid of the pot slightly ajar while cooking. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until quinoa is plump, the water is absorbed, and you see the tiny little outer “shells” of the quinoa grain coming loose in the pot.

Remove quinoa from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes or so. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

While quinoa is cooking, boil fresh or frozen peas till warm and tender. Drain and set aside.

Mix quinoa, peas and basil in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and black pepper. Pour over the quinoa salad mixture, and serve warm or cold. Dish will keep very well (though the basil might turn a little dark) in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Yield: 4 servings

One year ago: Cinnamon Streusel Baked French Toast Sticks
Two years ago: Coconut Bread
Three years ago: Salted Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars
Four years ago: Spanakopita Lasagna
Five years ago: Chocolate Chip Waffles
Six years ago: Chive Risotto Cakes
Seven years ago: Cheddar Corn Chowder

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Surprise Cookies



The boys are off for spring break, so we spent some time on Shelter Island where I have a single cookbook, Martha Stewart’s Cookies. I wanted to make the boys a treat to eat during our movie night, so I perused the book. The boys love marshmallows, and so do I, so this cookie was the winner. It reminded me of one of my all-time favorite cookies, the Mallomar. I keep Malomars in the freezer because they’re great frozen.

Of course the boys didn’t like the delicious mashed potatoes I made for dinner the other night. I’ll definitely make them again – the addition of smoked gouda made them really tasty and creamy. They didn’t like the shaved brussels sprouts salad, quinoa salad or slow-roasted chicken either, all of which I thought were delicious. Instead, one ate a peanut butter sandwich, another had plain, pan-fried tofu, another had a slice of cheese quiche and the fourth had a breaded chicken breast and some peas. Nice.

Back to the cookies. Of course the boys loved these cookies. They’re big fans of chocolate and marshmallow, as am I. The cookie part of this recipe isn’t terribly sweet, but the marshmallow and frosting sweeten it right up. The boys have already asked me to make them another tray of these.

If you compare my cookie photo to Martha Stewart’s you’ll notice that she doesn’t have a single bit of chocolate on her marshmallow. I cut a couple of cookies, had my frosting smear on the marshmallow each time and decided to give up. Now that I look more closely at Martha’s photograph, I see that she cut her cookie before she frosted it! She added the frosting after the cookie was cut in half, making her photo look much nicer. Ah, the tricks that food photographers use.

Surprise Cookies
Recipe from

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
~14 large marshmallows, cut in half horizontally

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined.

Using a tablespoon or 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies begin to spread and become firm, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove baking sheets from oven, and place a marshmallow, cut-side down, in the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begin to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Place confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter and cocoa powder. Add milk and vanilla, and whisk until well combined.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over each marshmallow, starting in the center and continuing outward until marshmallow is covered.

Yield: ~28 cookies

One year ago: Orange-Glazed Shrimp
Two years ago: Macaroni and Cheese with Black Beans and Chipotle
Three years ago: Oreo Rice Krispie Treats
Four years ago: Homemade Cheez-It Crackers
Five years ago: Breakfast Tart with Pancetta and Green Onions
Six years ago: Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Seven years ago: Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

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Lemon Fusilli with Arugula



I know I have said this before, but I love Ina Garten recipes. I think I have every one of her cookbooks, and I have had great success with everything I’ve tried. This pasta dish is no exception.

The recipe indicates that it serves 4 – 5. I’d say it serves 6 – 7. It makes a LOT of pasta. Delicious pasta, but a LOT of it.

I am typically not a huge arugula fan, but it gives this recipe a nice bite. We had some (a LOT) left over (have I mentioned that our boys are really picky eaters?), and I noticed that the arugula flavor mellowed overnight.

For the tomatoes, I used a small container of heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s. Yum! I also used Trader Joe’s whole wheat fusilli. Do make sure you use Kosher salt. If you don’t, definitely cut down on the salt called for in the recipe.

I loved all of the fresh vegetables in the pasta, and I also loved the lemon flavor in the sauce. It’s a great vegetarian meal. If you want to make it a little heavier, I think it would be nice with some chunks of chicken in it. This recipe is definitely a keeper, but next time I’ll make half the recipe so we’re not eating it for days on end.

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula
Recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 cups heavy cream
2 lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch broccoli
1 pound dried fusilli pasta
1/2 pound baby arugula (or 2 bunches of common arugula, leaves cut in thirds)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

Yield: ~6 servings

Two years ago: Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Muffins
Three years ago: Soft Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Frosting
Four years ago: Chicken and Rice Stoup
Five years ago: Sugar-Crusted Popovers
Six years ago: Whoopie Pies!
Seven years ago: Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Mini Churros



Yesterday was the first day of spring, and it snowed almost all day! We have had quite a winter here in NYC. I thought for sure our snowstorms were over for the year, but Mother Nature had other ideas. We probably got a good 4″ when all was said and done. The city looked beautiful both last night and this morning.

Our boys had some friends come over after school yesterday. With the snow falling heavily outside, I decided to try this recipe, which I had torn out of an old version of Food Network magazine. Our boys LOVE churros. What’s a churro? It’s a pastry make of fried dough dipped in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. A woman sets up a stand selling churros outside the boys’ schoolyard after school, and they always want to buy one.

This is a recipe that needs a bit of equipment to make. You’ll need a deep-fry thermometer to make sure the oil is hot enough to fry the churros correctly. If the oil is not hot enough, you’ll end up with an oily, soggy mess. If it’s too hot, the outside will brown quickly, leaving the inside raw. Ideally, the churros should be light and crispy. You’ll also need a pastry bag with a 1/2″ star shaped tip. In other recipes, I have recommended using a ziploc bag and cutting a hole in the corner if you don’t have a pastry bag. Definitely don’t try that with this recipe. The dough is hot when it comes out of the pan. I think it might melt right through a ziploc bag.

These were a lot of fun to make on a very snowy afternoon, and the kids loved them!

Mini Churros
Recipe from

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cake flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch star tip; set aside. Combine 1 cup water, the butter, shortening, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and the salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon, then reduce the heat to low and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Let cool slightly (the dough is very hot when it comes out of the pan), then transfer the dough to the pastry bag. Pipe 1-inch logs onto the prepared baking sheet, using kitchen shears to snip off each piece (you should have approximately 26 to 28 churros). Let them rest at room temperature for 15 – 20 minutes.

Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or pot until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360 degrees F. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. Working in three batches, fry the churros until golden and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a rack set over a baking sheet. Let cool about 5 minutes, then add to the cinnamon sugar and toss to coat.

Yield: ~26 – 28 churros

One year ago: Broccoli, Cheddar and Wild Rice Casserole
Two years ago: Meyer Lemon Gelato
Three years ago: Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad
Four years ago: Alfajores
Five years ago: Pineapple and Meyer Lemon Sorbet
Six years ago: Peanut Butter Cookies
Seven years ago: Smashed Sweet Potatoes

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