Category Archives: Easy Recipe

Simple, beautiful eggs (Guest Blogger – Mark)

I love to cook for my wife.  But I normally try to delegate the cleanup.

So I love it when I can find something delicious to make, and easy to clean up (myself).

But easy doesn’t have to sacrifice flavor.  

In fact, the best food is simple ingredients prepared well.

Good food is simple. 
Today’s flavor is hard boiled eggs…. like you’ve never had before
– Eggs
– Acqua 
– Fire in your life
1. Put cold acqua and eggs into pot and turn on flame
2. As soon as water starts to boil, turn off heat, and let eggs sit for 10 minutes

3. Place into ice water bath, remove shells, slice and serve with truffle salt (or regular salt and pepper for those with timid palettes)

Think you’ve had this before?   Think again.  
Take one bite of these perfectly cooked eggs and you will see the difference.  

These have become a favorite on weekends.

The Best Winter Salad – Seriously

In the winter I am pretty much a salad hater.  I just can’t get behind the arugula and mixed greens that I love in the spring and summer, they all just seem so blech…  Until this weekend.

In full disclosure I did not create this recipe, in fact besides finding the recipe and eating it, I have done nothing constructive.  Mark has made this salad two times in four days and I have enjoyed it everytime.  
Spiced Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad Ingredients
3/4 cup lentils
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and “cubed”
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

When we first made this it was for an impromptu New Year’s Eve dinner, happily lentils are lucky on New Years Eve.  Also lucky is that all of these ingredients were available prepared.  I am no “Semi-homemade” but, if you want to save time you can find butternut squash already peeled and cut into chunks (Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s) and lentils that have already been cooked (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Wegman’s).  Major, major time savers.

Otherwise, you can peel the squash and then cut it into 1″ thick rounds until you reach the base of the squash, and then cut the base in half and continue to cube.  I’d recommend keeping the pieces on the larger side, and forgo the urge for perfectly small squares.  The larger pieces stay firmer and provide a great texture.  I promise, it’s really very simple, and nearly impossible to screw up.

Toss the cubed squash with cumin, paprika and salt and bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, and then flip the pieces and cook for another 15 minutes.  
Look at those delicious pieces of squash — ahh, Heaven!
Let the squash cool and then layer it with the lentils, which I had at room temperature, but they could also be warm, and the crumbled goat cheese and argula… Or, you could skip the arugula, it’s still pretty healthy.

To dress the “best winter salad ever” combine the left over oil/juice from the pan the squash baked on, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

I realize this doesn’t seem too salad-y, but it is a great way to play with new ingredients (lentils or goat cheese), and it is beautiful to see and eat and really affordable to prepare and it keeps well for leftovers.

Share with friends, I am sure this is lucky after New Years, too!

Candied Pecans and Bleu Cheese Bites

This originally was featured on the DC Ladies Blog but the recipe was too easy and too good to not share!
Earlier I posted savory bleu cheese and pecan cookies, which were awesome and easy and fun to eat for breakfast, if that’s your thing (which, evidently it is mine). Anyway, those cookies were the round 2 to this even easier, and also quite charming, appetizer.  Because the whole thing takes about 8 minutes to prepare and assemble this might be perfect for when you have surprise company or perhaps need reinforcements at a cocktail party.

Candied Pecans and Bleu Cheese Bites
French baguette
Candied Pecans, recipe here
Bleu Cheese crumbles
Your freshly made, or store bought pecans get a good chop and are set aside.
Cut a French baguette into thin slices and toast lightly.  (This isn’t really necessary, but generally speaking there are few things better than warm bread).  With the back of a spoon “spread” the crumbled bleu cheese on top of the baguette slices. 
Sprinkle on top of the bleu cheese and the chopped candied pecans and a light drizzle of honey.

Each bite is like a divine sampling of a cheese platter at the most divine wine bar, and easy to do and made with ingredients that are probably in your pantry!

Happy Holidays – wishing you delicious entertaining!

Tomato Soup + Grilled Cheese… Winter Perfection

You know what you’re supposed to do when it looks like this where you live?  

I’ll tell you.  You’re supposed to make soup.  A big bowl of soup, filled with vegetables and not much else.  If you’re looking for extra warmth then of course you’ll need a grilled cheese sandwich to go with it.

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich
1 Yellow Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
4 Stalks of Celery
3 Medium Carrots
1/2 – 1 Red Pepper
1 – 12 oz. Can on Diced Tomatoes
3 cups of Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1/2 tbsp of unsalted butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Basil to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
A splash of milk, totally optional
Grated Parmesean Cheese, also optional but, really good
Makes soup for 4 people, or 2-3 very hungry, cold people
Set up your soup pot over low to medium heat with 2 swirls of olive oil.  Then add the diced onion and thinkly sliced carrots and celery into the pot.  Sprinkle a little bit of salt and stir the veggies gently and let that simmer for a few minutes.  Then add diced garlic.  Seriously, at this point you could just stand there and absorb the aroma – there are few smells I enjoy more than cooking garlic.

After the garlic, onions, celery and carrots get to know each other add thinly sliced red pepper.  I only had half of a pepper, maybe if I had a whole one I would have used a whole one.  The pepper adds a richer, sweet flavor and a beautiful deep red to the veggies. 
At this point I added a touch of butter and gave the veggies another good stir and let them continue to do their thing.  After 8-10 minutes of the veggies cooking the onion should be thoroughly translucent and the carrots softened.

Add the three cups of chicken stock and the can of tomatoes and give it another stir with one final sprinkle of salt.  Turn the heat up to bring it to a boil.  Once the soon-to-be soup is boiling place the top on and reduce the heat to low for 15 minutes.

While the soup is getting soupy it is time to make a grilled cheese sandwich.  Here is the thing, I know that grilled cheese sandwiches can be make with tomatoes, bacon, fancy, cheeses, beautiful challah (my personal favorite), and sweet and savory jams, but, when I have a grilled cheese with soup I always go with an old faithful, American Cheese.  Yes, wrapped in plastic and not really cheese at all, it is the perfect melty goodness perfect for soup dipping.

Grilled Cheese Ingredients – silly, I know
2 slices of Multi-grain bread
Some butter, not a lot, really
1 1/2 slices of American Cheese per sandwich
Double as needed
Lightly butter both sides of the bread.  Very lightly.  Place cheese in between slices.  Put bread together and then put on a pan, or even better for a more authentic panini experience, grill it on a press or the George Foreman grill you still have from college.  Cook the sandwich on both sides (of a pan) until browned and the cheese is melted, or on the grill press for 3 – 4 minutes.
I like a smoother soup, and I like being able to use the random kitchen tools we have so out came the immersion blender.  You can also use a food processor.  The quick blend – 3 – 5 pulses takes the soup from a chunky minestrone style soup to the more classic tomato soup.

Be fancy, serve it cute.  This is a fairly healthy meal that will leave you feeling full, comforted from the cold and great to share.  Extra points to Mark for his great food styling and photography!

Brussel Sprout Magic

Dear Dad,

I wish you weren’t so turned off by brussels sprouts, they’re really pretty good.  In fact, they are better than pretty good, they’re really good.  All those years of turning your nose up at them at Thanksgiving when Cousin Karen would bring them seems silly now.   In fact, I like them sauteed with bacon or even served up with Greek yogurt at DC favorite Zaytinya. 

But, dad, they are also good simply roasted.  Here, let me show you.
Love, Carly

True story friends, up until a few years ago I had never tried a brussels sprout.  If you were like me, or my sister up until this past weekend, it is time for a change.  I love this as an easy, low maintenance side dish that requires no effort after prep time.  We served it with out Hanukkah party, but its a mainstay throughout winter when they are in season.

Roasted (Parmigiana – or not) Brussels Sprouts
A bag of brussels sprouts (the quantity depends on how many you’re feeding
A drizzle of olive oil
A sprinkle of salt and pepper
A shaving of parmigiana, optional
 First things first, rinse off all of those little mini lettuce heads.  TO be fair, they just look like heads of lettuce, the flavor is far more rich and intense.  Now its time to prune the sprout, or head, or whatever, it’s time to peel leaves off of the green ball in your hand…

You might notice that there are some weird/yucky/unappetizing black blemishes or dots on the outside leaves.  Fear not!  You are just going to rub back the leaf and then rip it off.  Each sprout will shrink in size a bit, but it’s okay.  It will be pretty again soon.

Ta Da!

Then you’re going to cut the brussels sprouts into thirds.  Insider secret, if after peeling off ugly leaves there is a bit of a white “stem” you can cut that off too.

With all of your sprouts laid out on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, give them a gentle drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Check after 30, I like mine a little browner, if you’re wanting gold then 30 minutes should be just right.

Here is some extra flavor magic: sprinkle on fresh grated parmigiana, or some truffle salt, or perhaps both.  Delicious!

Instant Biscuits

Somehow this weekend I became the kind of person who makes biscuits, and my house became the kind of house that barely has a meal without one…  How did this happen?  I am not really sure, but I blame it on the suddenly seasonal weather (cold),   the abundance of soup I had on hand, and the need for something extra comforting as it became clear that the abnormally warm weather wouldn’t be lasting all fall.

Instant Biscuits, adapted from MomsRetro
1 Cup of all purpose flour
2 Tsps Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
3 TBSPs  Oil/Shortening
1/3 Cup of Water

Additional Flavors:
Fresh Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Garlic Powder, Fresh grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

Set oven to 350 degrees

Before we get started on the how, I have to get into the why.  Homemade biscuits has been on my to-do list for a while, but I never got around to it because it’s one of those things that when you want it, you want it and you don’t want to wait for proofing, and who keeps buttermilk on hand?  I certainly do not.  This recipe takes 15 minutes and is made entirely from pantry items.

In a small bowl mix all of the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder. 

Add the seasoning.  I went for Italian seasoning because it paired well with the soup I had on hand, but you could just as easily use any other seasoning.  Also, this was a great opportunity to use the fresh basil that has grown really beautifully all summer, before the leaves freeze!

Pluck off 6-7 leaves of fresh basil and roll them up in your hand, with a scissor cut across the leaves to create skinny ribbons of basil, if we were fancy we might call this chiffonade, but we’re not, so we won’t.

Add the oil and the water and mix gently with a fork. 

The dough is supposed to look pretty sloppy, this isn’t a typical dough that would look nice and smooth.  The roughness of the dough leads to light and flaky biscuits.

With your fingers pull apart clumps of dough about the size of a full tablespoon and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes.  If you can resist, let them cool enough so your can handle them.  They are very moist and won’t require butter, but that could might only make them better. 

Seriously, this is just about as easy as popping open a can of pre-made biscuits, but you won’t chip a nail, you won’t have weird flakes of paper/tin attached the dough, and they will be that much more delicious and rewarding.  Enjoy – and share with 6-8 people (because that is how many biscuits it will make, or enjoy them all by yourself!)

Roasted Potatoes, Poupourri You Can Eat

To be fair this is not so much of a “recipe” as it is a suggestion.  

I know that this weekend is dedicated to running around for last minute costumes, carving pumpkins, excessive makeup, buying candy, consuming lots more candy, and indulging on some other celebratory vices.  And that is all good.  But, the weekend is long, and eventually you’ll want something that is healthy, and easy.  This is so easy that while you’re setting your hair in curlers and finishing the details of your meat dress this can cook.

Roasted Potatoes is the most homey non-recipe recipe there is.  I like to mix a large variety of potatoes (white, red, purple, sweet, yellow) and chop them all up into chunks that are about 1/4 – 1/3 of an inch thick.

Set the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  And get chopping. 

Ta da!  All chopped.  When all the chopped potatoes are in a bowl drizzle on some olive oil, sprinkle on some Kosher salt, crack some black pepper.  
Okay, now here is where you have some creative license.  Are you feeling traditional?  How about some rosemary and thyme.  Want some heat?  Sprinkle on some cayenne.  Want Italian flavors?  Try oregano, parsley, and maybe some  finely grated Parmigiana-Reggiano, or do as we do and go a little crazy with the Old Bay.  There is no right or wrong amount, but you’ll want to see the flecks of flavor on each piece of potato.  This is truly an instance of “flavor to taste”.

Throw in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, the longer it’s in there the more browned the edges will become, again this is a personal preference.  Also, I am going to again recommend mixing up the variety of potatoes, they each have a different flavor and texture and so all together they are like a little (healthy) party in your mouth.
Enlarged to show flavor intensity detail!
Happy Halloween, this year instead of a pre-trick or treating peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or pizza (which are all more than fabulous), mix it up with this!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal, Better When Homemade

File this simple recipe under the category “Better when made at home”.  Oatmeal is the comfort food of champions when the weather starts to turn, but I will be the first to admit that plain oatmeal is really just PLAIN.  So, I turned to an old favorite, apple cinnamon oatmeal.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
1 large apple
1 cup of whole, plain oatmeal
2 cups of water
1/4 cup of apple cider
1/4 tbsp of unsalted butter
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of cinnamon sugar
1/4 tsp of kosher salt

I like gala apples, or braeburn apples, or fiji apples, I like anything with a tartness and some crisp in the bite.  Chop up the apples in to a small chop, but not too small so that they melt away – keeping them a little bit larger will add another dimension to the texture of the oatmeal.
In a small pan add a pat of butter and let it begin to melt.  Add in the chopped apples, and let them cook for about 2 minutes.  Add some cinnamon and sugar to get the juices flowing.  

When the heat really starts to kick in add the apple cider and stir.  The infusion of liquid and sugars will slow the cooking and also create a more caramelized texture.

While the apples are cooking you have a pot of water boiling.  When the 2 cups of water has reached a boil add the 1 cup of dry oatmeal, lower to medium heat and stir.  You’ll want to keep an eye on the oatmeal so you’ll know when it is “done” for your standards.  After about five minutes you should be there but you can take the pot off the heat and see if it’s thick enough.

When ready add a big scoop of the cooked apples, and enjoy.  It’s not quite fireside weather yet in DC, but when it is you can bet what I’ll be eating

Pumpkin Pancakes

On Sunday morning the house was cool, and I slept in a few hours after Mark did.  But, when I did wake up I knew what we would be having for breakfast, pumpkin pancakes. 

The backyard with a cool breeze
Mark had already had cereal, but he was happy to have Second Breakfast. This was so good, and made with real, good ingredients, and easy; fall was received so well that I was told by Mark and my sister that the next time I would need to triple the recipe.

Whole Wheat Oat Pumpkin Pancakes, 
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup whole dry oatmeal
2 teaspsoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 cup of skim milk
1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
1.5 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg
In one bowl mix the dry ingredients: spices, seasoning, flour, oats; in a separate bowl  mix the milk, pumpkin apple sauce and in a small pan melt the butter.

Combine all ingredients with a spoon (or spatula as you see I did), you don’t need a mixer.  The easy mixing is the morning workout!  Also, around this time I take the maple syrup and butter out of the refrigerator; there is nothing worse than cold syrup and hard butter on delicious fresh pancakes!

Here’s the thing about pancakes: the first one always looks like blech.  It doesn’t taste like blech, just looks like it.  So if your first one looks a bit crazy, you can taste test it, because it will still taste amazing.

Grab a plate, some deliciously sweet and slightly savory pancakes, a pad of butter and a splash of syrup.  Enjoy each bite of this fall treat; it is the best way to start the day!

The New Banana Split

I like cookies, brownies, cakes (in slices and in cups) but sometimes, I want to take a break from the butter and sugar, and eggs and go a little bit more natural.  By natural, I don’t mean baking with agave or honey, which I have done, or using whole wheat flour, which I do more and more, I mean just eating fruit.

This summer we have reaped the benefits of living within walking distance to a farmers’ market and enjoying peaches, blueberries, strawberries and melon by the bowlful.  But, this dish, this changed it all.  Let me introduce you to banana ice cream, which I found on The Kitchn, made with just bananas.
The bananas that are currently sitting on your counter top that are getting more and more freckles each day?  That is your only ingredient. Depending on the desired serving size, I have found 2 bananas enough for 3 people – but it’s just banana so there’s no downside in eating a lot!

Cut the bananas up into 1/2 inch slices and throw them in the freezer for at least 2 – hours.  I recently froze mine for 24 hours, and that was fine too.  The more frozen the better.

After they bananas slices are thoroughly frozen dump them all into your blender/food processor and go.  At first the bananas will look gravelly, and hard, and chunky, and not at all ice creamy -although my sister did point out that it resembled Dippin’ Dots, everyone’s local mall’s version of the ice cream of the future. 

No matter… Press on, keep grinding, and occasionally pausing to scrape down the sides with a spoon.  In a matter of moments, seriously 3-4 minutes tops, the banana gravel becomes beautiful whipped banana ice cream.

Now you can eat it right now in a bowl (or out of the mixer) if you want, and it is amazing.  Or you can add additional flavors.  Some favorites in my house right now are a teaspoon of chunky peanut butter, honey, or cinnamon, but why not some coconut flakes (if you like that, I don’t), or some cocoa powder, or chocolate syrup?

So far this hasn’t lasted past dessert, because we eat it all so quickly – but I would eat it for breakfast, or serve it with warm waffles/pancakes/french toast.  I need a brunch party, stat!