sparkling skinny margarita

A few days ago, I posted a photo of this sparkling skinny margarita cocktail on Instagram to the delight of many. I figured it would be nice to share it here, too, since I know not everyone is on the various forms of social media. Last summer, while working on a dairy-free, refined sugar-free cookbook project, I began to think differently about some of my favorite cocktails. I used stevia for that project, at the author’s request. It works fine for some drinks, but you have to be careful since it has a bitter after taste if you use too much. My preference became maple syrup for drinks that needed something sweet to balance them. Instead of muddling a sugar cube with bitters, I now add a few drops of maple syrup to my old fashioned. Continue reading »

dry roasted cauliflower

I’m a late bloomer in my love for cauliflower. No particular reason, except for the fact that we didn’t grow up eating it. During my years in the restaurant business, I tasted some delightful preparations, and yet it still didn’t translate to my home kitchen. Last year, we began a serious affair, a hot and heavy one, with me eating it every chance possible. And then, one day, my little one asked to taste a bite. She was hooked like her mama. Recently, I decided to try this dry roasted cauliflower method.

Cauliflower releases a lot of liquid as it roasts, so rather then drench it with more liquid in the form of oil, I tried this approach. Start off by preheating your oven to 375ºF (190ºC) with a rimmed sheet pan on the rack. Once the oven is good to go, remove the pan, and add the cut up florets (and stalks, if you like, but I save them for slaw). You’ll hear a sizzle! Season with salt and pepper, then roast for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through. This way the cauliflower gets a nice golden sear as it cooks. Continue reading »

Ginger, Parsley & Pistachio Pesto

I’ve gotten into this habit of eating soup for breakfast. I find starting the day with a warm, soothing bowl of broth is a gentle way to wake up my body. It makes sense, if you think about it. Some people drink hot tea, so what is the difference between that a hot, brothy soup? Some days I add rice noodles; I try to keep some cooked ones in the fridge as an easy add-in. My freezer is usually stocked with broth from my slow roasted chicken soup, although I used the last bit of it before heading upstate. Time to restock when we get back to Maryland in a few days.

This Ginger, Parsley & Pistachio Pesto adds a refreshing flavor to soups, salad dressings, and stir-fries. Plus, it's dairy free!

This Ginger, Parsley & Pistachio Pesto adds a refreshing flavor to soups, salad dressings, and stir-fries.

Continue reading »

homemade crema

I’ve had crema a few times but none have inspired me to try and make it until eating at Diego’s in Kingston, NY. Now, how this little gem of a restaurant was sitting under my nose all the time I lived upstate is beyond me. Well, actually, it’s not that surprising. I live 18 miles west of Kingston, and with it being on the other side of the reservoir, it’s not exactly my first choice, location wise, for eating out.

I ordered cauliflower tacos two ways. Much to my embarrassment, I can’t remember both preparations. I choose to believe it’s because the fried cauliflower taco with crema blew me away so hard, knocking the memory of everything else I ate that day. To be so in awe, you have to be a cauliflower addict like myself. The taco was dressed with a zingy slaw and a drizzle of the crema. The simplicity is what elevated the crema, letting it play a strong supporting role in a very uncomplicated dish. Continue reading »

Lemon Poppy “Buttermilk” Pancakes {Grain-Free, Dairy-Free}

It’s not often we agree 100% on every meal, but come breakfast time, the girls and I are unanimous in our love for lemon poppy muffins. So, it’s only natural that love should spill into another one of our favorite breakfast foods (okay, 2 out of 3 of us, the guilty shall remain nameless)—pancakes. The mood struck me earlier this week to make lemon poppy buttermilk pancakes. As you know, I’ve been tinkering around with cassava flour. I know, I promised you a more detailed post on it. I’m working on one for Food 52, and will share the link when the post is live.

One little thing, well, a few actually. As I began to think the recipe through, I decided I wanted to keep it dairy free and grain free. I used this recipe of mine as a base to get started. I’d made pancakes sans baking powder a few years ago, as a matter of necessity (read: I forgot to buy after using up the last bit). I had a hunch that the method I used to make the pancakes rise would lend a lighter feel to the cassava flour, too. Oddly enough, cassava flour is lighter in yield than all purpose flour (130 grams per cup vs. 150 grams), yet it absorbs liquid more, so you have to play around a bit to strike the right balance. Continue reading »

pork milanese

Fried chicken cutlets were a staple growing up. It wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that I became familiar with Chicken Milanese, a sophisticated upgrade that tops my mom’s fried chicken cutlet. No, really. Imagine a crispy, thin cutlet topped with arugula, chopped tomatoes, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

I’m wary of ordering Milanese anything (it can be pork, chicken, or veal) at restaurants. Many places don’t pound the cutlet thin enough to my liking. Others do a sub par job of frying—crispy is not optional, in my opinion. I’ve experienced two of these crimes against Milanese recently, which prompted me to finally record my recipe since this site also serves as a record of recipes to pass down to my daughters. Continue reading »

dark chocolate brownies

Recently, I began playing around with cassava flour. A reader whom I had the pleasure to meet in person a few months ago mentioned it as a good grain-free, gluten-free alternative. I’d been meaning to Google it ever since. Then I happened to see a bag of it at my local health food store. Talk about sticker shock when I saw the price ($17 for a 2-pound bag!). I wondered how many people like myself were curious about it, but too scared off by the price tag. Into my cart went the bag, delegating myself the official taste tester, and risk taker, for all of us collectively.

Cassava flour isn’t a perfect fit for every recipe, and it certainly isn’t an even swap, regardless of what the packaging says. I’ll do a more detailed post on this in the coming weeks. I still have a bit more playing around to do with it. I’ve shared a recipe for grain-free brownies before, and hot dang they are amazing. But you can taste the almond flour bits in them (I don’t mind that), and since they have nuts, they’re not well, um, nut-free. Which is what prompted me to develop another grain-free brownie recipe last week using the cassava flour. Continue reading »

homemade vegetable egg rolls

Before we go any further, I owe an apology for the RSS feed if you’re a subscriber (if you’re not, click this link). The last couple of weeks the images have been wonky, and not exactly matching the actual post. There’s so much admin work to do when you’re a one-woman shop like myself. Much as I try to dot every “i” and cross every “t”, something falls through the cracks. It kills me like you can’t imagine.

Sooo, until I can sort out with my web developer why the image doesn’t auto fill when a new post goes live, I have to manually go in and change it. Even worse than having to do it manually is I have to remember to do it. My apologies, and I hope it hasn’t deterred any of you from clicking through and reading. I will try to get better about it! Continue reading »

peanut butter cereal treats

It’s funny how my girls would eat the same lunch and dinner for days, perhaps weeks, on end, if given the choice, yet breakfast is where they crave variety. This makes it feel a bit like a yo-yo, with me trying to constantly provide options tempting enough to get a meal in them before a long day at school.

Some mornings I make a hot breakfast, but they’re not so keen on that during the school week. I think they prefer to be lazy, and enjoy their hot meals without the rush of getting ready for school. I do make a big batch of waffles every week or two, and store them in a zip top bag for Isabella can heat them up in the toaster. Granola is a phase, too, but not always a given. If I make it too often, the batch lingers, their interest having waned. Continue reading »

2-ingredient duck sauce

Chinese food may very well be the official language of NYC. If you grew up in Brooklyn, chances are you were weaned on Chinese take out. Now, when I refer to Chinese food, I’m referring to Chinese-American food. Much like Italian-American, it’s not considered part of authentic Chinese cuisine. Still, some foods just pull you back into your childhood, and for me, walking into an old school place, with a heaping bowl of fried noodles, and bowl of duck sauce feels like traveling back in a time machine. A time when food was less fussy, when people didn’t snap the perfect photo before digging in.

I’ve managed to master my wok, teach myself to make dumplings, fried rice, wontons, and more recently eggrolls (coming soon!), but one very important thing was missing to reclaim a bit of my childhood: duck sauce. More than once I reached for a jar of it in the supermarket, and I just couldn’t go through with it. The ingredient list was too daunting. I tried a few passes, making my own, using dried apricots. Eh. Better to forgo it all together. Continue reading »