no cook

a winter panzanella, kind of…

I’ve been wanting to make a cooler weather version of one of my favorite salads for a while now. I love the inherent thriftiness of panzanellas (Italian bread salads). You start by cutting, or tearing, the bread into cubes, tossing them with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and toast them in a skillet on the stovetop. For this winter panzanella, I would trade the summer crops of tomatoes and basil for some of fall and winter’s favorites, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. I had a moment of genius when I realized I could save time, and buy them already roasted from the salad bar at Whole Foods. Continue reading »

maple orange butter

I like to say I’m opinionated, and not just judgey, but who are we kidding? I’m a New Yorker. Perhaps even worse (or is it best); I’m a Brooklyn gal, through and through. We judge, regardless of what we say, and sometimes without any sensibility to our conclusions. And so that is why my visit to Teaism in D.C. about a month ago was such a pleasant surprise. I grubbed a ride into the city with my guy, and was delivered door to door from suburbia to Dupont Circle. When he first suggested it as a good place to settle in with free WiFi to escape the noise of construction currently going on at our building, I shrugged my nose. You know that kind of shrug where it pushes your eyeglasses way above your eyebrows.

I’d come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t like the place just based on the name. It didn’t sound appealing, even though I understood the play on words going on with it. Well, later that morning I enjoyed my size seven shoe with a side of some pretty awesome French Toast & Orange Butter. It sounds basic, I know. And for all intents and purposes, it was, but it was prepared so perfectly. Nice, crisp edges, golden brown, and that butter elevated the whole thing to spectacular. Now, if you’re an experienced cook, you already know making compound butters is incredibly easy. And if you’re new to this whole notion of mixing flavors into softened butter, then listen up—this is a trick you want to use for every brunch or breakfast you host. The wow factor tops the charts, and will ensure your place as a domestic diva.

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peppermint cake truffles {video}

Isabella went on a cooking spree a few weeks ago. I’m not sure what inspired it exactly, but she pulled my cookbook off the shelf, and asked “mom, is it okay if I make cupcakes?” I mean, who says no to cupcakes, especially cupcakes baked by their kiddo? She proceeded to make a dozen cupcakes, a batch of vanilla buttercream frosting, my homemade chocolate syrup, and chocolate egg creams for all of us. Continue reading »

homemade vegan ricotta cheese

I was in bed, shuffling around to get cozy under the duvet when I realized I forgot to do something important: share this recipe. True story. Writing a blog post isn’t something I should lose sleep over, I know. Time seems to be my nemesis lately, though. I feel like my internal clock fell behind along the way, and I can’t seem to catch up.

I’m hoping our trip to Cape Cod this weekend will rectify things a bit (a lot would be even better!). The salty, sweet air of the bay is already working its magic some 500 miles away, awakening a part of me. This will be my 20th summer out there. Twenty years. It may not sound like a big deal to anyone who grew up with annual vacations, or some sort of family rituals. I didn’t have any of that as a kid, so to have the pleasant predictability and be able to give our girls this consistency means so much.

In the next few days I deliver the first part of a new project I began a few weeks ago. I’m not really sure how much I can share about it, but to answer the pressing question: no, it’s not a new cookbook, not yet. I’ve been working on a proposal for the next book that I’m very excited about. I think this is a book you’ll all want, and one that’s not been done before, at least not with this creative AND useful spin. I’m hoping to address the last round of edits from my agent while on vacation, so this baby can finally get some wings and fly into the inboxes of potential editors. Continue reading »

this little light of mine

When Isabella was in pre-K she sang This Little Light of Mine at her winter recital. She would practice the song over and over again at home, and every time it would end with me in tears.  Mikey used to laugh, in a very loving, teasing way, for how freely my tears flowed at school performances because I’m generally a tough Brooklyn gal.

Tonight that song popped into my head while I was cleaning the dinner dishes. The line “no one’s gonna blow it out” hit a particular chord every time Isabella used to sing it. I saw my job as a mommy to keep that light going—make sure no one ever tried to extinguish her dreams. Now I’m faced with keeping that flame lit all by myself, and heaven knows her inner light was challenged in the most painful way.

Over the last 373 days, I’ve felt depleted and numb in ways I never want to feel again. One year ago, I had a house full of people. Michael’s death was still so fresh and raw for them, so my home—our home, overflowed with people flocking to support me. I know the sentiments are still there, but one year later, it’s just me and the girls mostly. People have moved forward in their own ways, the way families do—the way they should. There’s still that moment during dinner when a silence falls upon the house because he usually came home while we were eating.

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