orange poppy olive oil muffins

Years ago, when Isabella was a wee little one, we had a neighbor who insisted on counting her son’s age in months up until he was three. Mikey and I laughed so hard at the idea of that. Imagine someone asking how old your kid is, and replying 32 months. It just sounds odd, right? I’m guessing that mom’s rationale was wanting to hold onto her son being a baby as long as possible. I get it. Oh man, do I get it, especially these days. In just two weeks, my babies will turn five and ten. I feel like I blinked and life tapped me on the shoulder, then screamed SURPRISE!

This whole way of counting has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. People often refer to Mikey having died a year and a half ago, or almost two years ago. Me? I refer to it as what it is—20 months ago. Unlike my old neighbor who wanted to cherish her babies early years, I’m trying to stay close to Mikey. The more time that passes since his death signifies the growing distance between my old life and my new one. Continue reading »

broccoli rabe & fresh ricotta frittata {Homemade with Love}

To the rest of the world, this simply looks like a bunch of celery. Albeit an incredibly gorgeous, delicate bundle, with a flavor only celery from the farmers’ market could possibly capture. That bunch in particular probably came from Maxwell’s Farmstand at the Grand Army Plaza farmers’ market.

I feel the lump welling up in my throat as I write this, and yet I can’t pull my fingers away from the keyboard. I feel crazy even going “there”, but that celery is the last bunch of celery I bought while Michael was alive. It’s celery for heaven’s sake, and it’s capable of reducing me to tears. At moments like this I want to bury my face into a pillow and collapse into a pool of tears. I bought that celery the day before Mikey died. I came across it while looking through my photo archives for a recipe of the Broccoli Rabe & Fresh Ricotta Frittata from Homemade with Love, and suddenly found myself frozen as I inched closer to the photos I took in the days leading up to his death.

It’s not just a bunch of celery, just like these aren’t just a box of matches.

It’s a bunch of celery on the windowsill of our old apartment…in the kids’ old room, which was actually our bedroom before we even had kids.

That celery represents something I can never have again. That celery represents a routine I so loved, and have struggled to get back into the last 20 months. See, before Mikey died, I woke up every Saturday morning at 7:00am, got dressed quietly and snuck out of the house to go to the farmers’ market at Grand Army Plaza. I would beat the crowds, and get the best of whatever was in season before most people had rubbed the sleep from their eyes. Continue reading »

the homestretch

My eyelids are refusing to cooperate this morning, as I find myself fighting to keep them open. Changing the clocks ahead one little hour this weekend is proving to be more challenging than the six hour time difference I so often encounter when I go to France. I figure you’re all feeling sort of sluggish and sleepy today too, and what better way to jolt you than with some fun news surrounding the release of Homemade with Love. If you’ve preordered the book, then you likely got the same email I did on Sunday—it’s shipping earlier than expected. As in you may have it as soon as the weekend depending on the shipping method you chose!

The love, security and sense of self I derive from being in the kitchen are feelings I hope to spark in all of you once Homemade with Love becomes a part of your lives. My reason for wanting to write a cookbook four years ago was simple. It wasn’t about vanity or dreams of fame. I wanted all of my positive experiences in the kitchen to become contagious. I wanted to show people in a very genuine way that cooking is about so much more than just eating. It is about feeding your soul, and enriching the lives of the people you love. Continue reading »

french toast waffles

All I seem to be doing today is counting the hours until I can retire to my jammies, and curl up on the couch for pizza and a movie with the kids. I had hoped to share some details about a project I’m working on with Kidzvuz. Rebecca, one of the founders, is a long-lost sister of sorts, and I’m really excited to collaborate with her and Nancy finally. I will be back with the goods on it all next week. Continue reading »

spring fever

The calendar rolling to March 1st feels so powerful. It means we’ve weathered another winter. The tulip leaves creeping up through the soil signal spring is on its way. Hope seems to replenish the nearly empty well deep within in my heart.

Days get longer, and the air gets warmer. Of course, just when it feels safe to to cloak myself in a lighter coat, Mother Nature reminds me who is really in control. Still, March brings the power of a Phoenix rising from the ashes buried beneath a heavy snowfall. This particular March also brings a lot of good news. The book—my cookbook, comes out in 24 days. Soon it will no longer be just mine. It will belong to all of you who let it grace your home. Continue reading »

chocolate malted waffles

Every time I think I’ve moved a few steps forward, life sends me a reality check. My mind has been restless, probably because of the million things on my To Do list. I’m sure the key lies in surrendering to the chaos a little, and not worrying so much about the future. It’s hard when you’re a perfectionist to accept that the world itself is an imperfect place. Just writing ever so briefly about the clutter in my head helps me feel a little less encumbered by it all.

There’s good news for all the busyness, though. I mentioned last time that I was writing for Relish Magazine again. Shifting my focus a little in my writing, not having every word flecked with memories of Michael, is important. It’s good to get out of my own head, and necessary if I’m going to really sustain and nurture a life without him. Of course, he’s always in my writing, even if I don’t mention him with a specific reference. As I was developing my recent recipe for Relish—chocolate malted waffles, all I could imagine was his reaction to waking up to them on Valentine’s Day. He had this way of closing his eyes when he took the first bite of a new recipe, and a wave of calm delight would wash over his face when it was a winner. Continue reading »

perfect roasted potatoes

There are few things in life that are perfect. This is something I keep trying to remind myself, but my inner Martha Stewart often battles with the realities of life. A little chaos never threw me for a loop, but lately reigning control over some variables in my life offers incredible solace. Being able to make what I consider to be the perfect roasted potato is one of those variables. I wrote about them last week for Relish Magazine. I’m so happy to share the news that I’ve started writing for them again twice a month.

I’ve got some video to go along with the recipe too. You were all amazing in your response to the pizza video a couple of weeks ago. Adding more video to the site is something I’ve been mulling over for a few months now. I’d hide behind widow humor, though, and sarcastically joke that my producer/camera man/editor is gone. Then one day, it all clicked. There’s enough perfect, glossy, produced content out there. That holds true for food, fashion, parenting magazines, etc. What we don’t have enough of is real life. I’m talking about an honest glimpse of being in the kitchen. That is what I hope to capture in the videos I’ll be sharing from now on. My hair isn’t perfect, my Brooklyn accent is so thick, even a Ginsu couldn’t cut through it, and I now realize I say “okay” and “um” a lot. Continue reading »

5-minute pizza dough

A few days ago I was in a meeting and mentioned that Fridays are always pizza and a movie night with the girls. In saying that, I also casually said I make my own dough. One woman at the meeting commented, “I love how your pizza night is with homemade dough and mine is takeout”. She told me she wished she had the time to make it from scratch.

homemade pizza

I told the woman at my meeting that homemade pizza dough is no big deal, and much easier than most people think. Still, it got me thinking about how to really get this message across. The essence of Homemade with Love is not about the recipes per se; it’s about spreading my monumental love of being in the kitchen and cooking. My hope is that a little of bit of that love becomes contagious, and people begin to look at cooking as another way to express their own love for the people around them. I woke up with this lingering idea in my mind of how I could convincingly get my point across that homemade pizza dough is indeed easy. Continue reading »

sauteed artichokes with garlic, shallots & sweet vermouth

I’ve learned so much about myself during these last 18 months. Yes, it’s been that long—it surprised me a lot today too. My new reality has been like driving a stick, except my previous experience was on an automatic. Now, changing gears is a big part of life, in a way so different from before. The last few years of my life with Mikey were a bit like cruise control, that often happens when you’re juggling family, work and a personal life. It’s easy to fall into habits, especially the ones you love. For me, one of those habits happened to my addiction to farmers’ markets. Not a bad vice to have, if you must have one at all.

I’d wake every Saturday morning to the hum of my alarm, and pop out of bed ready to grab the best of whatever was in season before the throngs of sleepyheads descended for the second wave of market madness. I’d rouse Mikey for a sleepy kiss goodbye before leaving, and tiptoe out the front door, making sure not to wake the kids so he could sleep in a bit more while I went off to play with produce. By 9:00am I’d be back, bounty in tow, and we’d plot the day ahead, as I unpacked the groceries.

Weekends are more of a challenge now being a single parent. The girls are not always on-board with my Saturday shopping agenda. In the beginning, I used to bribe them, offering things my former self would’ve deemed very unacceptable as breakfast food—in my defense, the lollipops were organic and dye-free. Some were even pomegranate flavored, so they were technically a dose of antioxidants, right? Whatever…

Continue reading »

brown butter pumpkin seed cookies

As a kid, I was partial to chewy cookies. I remember the warm oatmeal raisin ones my parents used to buy at a bakery somewhere near Little Italy. One of these days I’ll also remember to ask my mother where that bakery was exactly, though I imagine it is long shuttered by now.

My current cookie obsession has been baking thin crispy ones, the kind that benefit from a dunk in tea or coffee. I set out recently to create a new cookie of this—well, let’s call it genre. Everything was going well, at first. I used this recipe as a base for my proportions. Except I made some tweaks, because I can’t leave well enough alone. This is the best attribute a recipe developer can have—reckless abandon in the kitchen. Okay, so maybe deciding to brown the butter instead of simply melt it wasn’t a revolutionary or reckless idea (except for my waistline), but you get what I’m talking about. Setting out to create a new recipe comes with the understanding that failure is a distinct possibility. Continue reading »