On December 18, we eat sausage and rice casserole. David’s birthday request is a standard meal from childhood. A dish full of family folklore and a recurring request across all birthdays on David’s side. It is a simple and direct meal with few ingredients and even less prep. It is delicious and not a grain of rice is left after mealtime. Clearly, it is a birthday request meal I can easily stand behind. Then David said, “I think this might be my new favorite meal for my birthday!” What could this meal be? What dish could possibly unseat the casserole that has stolen hearts and minds for the past 36 years? Hold your breath…..it’s shepard’s pie!
I know what you are thinking: Really? Yes, really!
- 2 lb ground beef or lamb
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 8 Tbs unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 1/3 cups beef broth
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 2 tsp rosemary
- 3 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup frozen peas
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Browned the beed. Transfer to a plate.
In the same pot over medium heat, melt 4 Tbs of the butter. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic, cover and cook, stirring, until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Stir in the broth and wine. Add the rosemary. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pot bottom. Return the beef to the pot, cover, place in the oven and cook until about 1 1/2 hours. About 30 minutes before the dish is ready, oil a baking dish. In a saucepan, combine the potatoes with salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain well. Cut 3 Tbs. of the butter into pieces and add to the potatoes. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes while adding enough cream to create a smooth texture. Season the meat mixture with salt and pepper, stir in the peas and pour into the prepared baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top. Cut the remaining 1 Tbs. butter into bits and use to dot the top. Bake until the top is lightly tinged with brown, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!
It’s summertime and the grill is open for business!
Since moving into our house 4 years ago, we have slowly built up our grill repertoire to be expanded beyond the standard hamburger and hot dogs. Adulting can be a slog sometimes but when you end the week with a cool evening breeze and the grill fired up, it feels pretty sweet! Since the start of the warmer temps, we have already made this recipe a handful of times. I just love this rub because it is super easy and flavorful. Henry GOBBLES up a massive portion of it every time and we never seem to have leftovers. So it seemed appropriate to finally add it to the blog and recipe list since I think this will be a family classic now.
We serve it up with some grilled okra and asparagus!
- 1/4 c. finely ground espresso coffee (not instant)
- 1/4 c. dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
- 1/8 tsp. five-spice powder
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 1/2 lb. skirt steak, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
Heat grill to high.
Combine coffee, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, white pepper, five-spice powder, and cayenne pepper in a bowl.
Remove steak from refrigerator and let come to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Rub steak with oil, and sprinkle with rub. Massage rub into meat.
Grill until charred and medium-rare, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board, cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes before thinly slicing at an angle. Serve immediately.
When you have a newborn, cooking becomes even more challenging. Just when you would sit down to cook your meal, the newborn begins cluster feeding. What is cluster feeding you ask? It is a non-stop, open bar nursing session that can last for hours! Owen would start at 3 and want to stop at 7. So there I am stranded on the couch, a prisoner to my new baby and the boppy. Why can’t David cook you ask? Oh he can! He is better at it than me, but there is the two year old who needs some entertaining and while he is interested in cooking he easily becomes a hazard in the kitchen.
So what do we do? Starve.
No, we have really amazing friends who bring us amazing food those first few weeks while we get our feet under us. And then those amazing meals become a part of our repertoire when our amazing friends share the recipe!
We have probably made this one three times since Owen was born and since Lyndsay brought it over to our house the night we came home from the hospital. Gratitude is not enough for the meal drop off those first days and weeks.
Ever notice how when you eat at home for a stretch of time you start to feel really good?! Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a deliciously decadent meal out, but I have found that too much dining out leaves me feeling sluggish and bloated. Enter a summer simple summer dinner. This meal is one of the easiest dishes and because it is light and flaky you just feel good after too. Mmmmm this was quite yummy!
16 oz halibut cut into four filets
3 Lbs of leeks, sliced and cleaned
1 carton cherry tomatoes cut in half
Olive oil, salt, pepper
Preheat oven to 450. Scatter the leeks along the bottom of casserole dish. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and turn on the broiler high. Lay the halibut on top of leeks, top with tomatoes, and drizzle with more olive oil and salt and pepper. Broil for 10-12 minutes and enjoy!!!
I left home this morning at 6:30AM and will sadly not return until 9:30PM. This extra long day of work loomed before me and has created an intense amount of stress for me: How would Henry do without me for all of this time? Will he have enough to eat at home? Will he have an effective sleep routine? Will my parents, who are home today, be all right? Will they have enough to eat? Will they need a break from caring for the baby? Will they be able to take care of the dogs? Will the dogs be all right? Will the dogs go bananas without us for all those hours?
These are just a tiny fraction of the questions, hesitations, and concerns I have about today’s incredibly long day away from home. Every year we prepare and stay at school for Back to School Night. Every other year, this has been one of my favorite evenings. I stay after school and have dinner with friends and then get to meet the parents of my students in a casual setting as they mill about the building. Tonight though is different. Now with Henry home I am a bundle of nerves and feeling very fragile about this long stay away. When I take a moment to really think about him home without me all day I feel like crying and when I come home the little man will be asleep. It hurts my heart to know I will have missed his whole day. But, alas it is the nature of the beast that is today.
Since I couldn’t physically be there with the little man and my parents today, I decided I could at least cook them a nutritious, belly-warming meal. Through dinner, I would be able to “be there for them.” And, in this case what is more comforting than a warm plate of pot pie? I hope that in lieu of my presence this meal will keep them “sustained” and will give me a small bit of peace of mind heading into my long night on campus. And really, it is just one night, right?
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed and meat broken into 3/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup garbanzo flour (a nice protein)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces (about 10 cups)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 sheets puff pastry
Heat the oven to 400. In a large pot, cook the sausage with the tablespoon of olive oil. Remove sausage and place in glass casserole dish. Add the onions, cauliflower, rosemary to the pot and saute for 5-7 minutes. Add the flour and mix in, add the broth and vinegar and cook simmering/boiling for 5-7 minutes until it thickens. Toss in the kale and let it wilt. Add this mixture to the casserole dish and mix everything together. Top the mixture with the puff pastry. I just rolled it out into one sheet and layered it on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is light and fluffy looking and the mixture is bubbling. Enjoy!
Thankfully this meal was salvaged! Just when you think everything is going smoothly and you confidently saunter about the house feeling like the most amazing new mom, you are snapped back into the reality of messy motherhood when you have a sleep-deprived moment. There I was cooking up the chicken patties and thinking I could briefly multi-task only to turn back around to the chicken and see them filling the entire kitchen with smoke! I had completely forgotten to turn down the heat to medium and had left the chicken to burn on high long enough to trigger the smoke alarms. David ran downstairs with Henry and the dogs as I stood there paralyzed not knowing what to do (this is my response to a crisis, which is a terrible response!!). Thankfully David snapped me out of my “playing possum” state by shouting turn the stove off, open the window, and flap a towel by the smoke detector. We were a jumbled mess as we tried to fix the kitchen drama, calm down the dogs, and soothe the baby. Luckily within a few minutes the alarms stopped and the smoke cleared enough for it to no longer be scary. When we looked into the pan we were surprised to see that the chicken was burned but not so badly that we couldn’t still enjoy it for dinner. Despite the mishap dinner was still delicious!
2 diced cloves garlic
1 bunch basil
1 diced bunch green onions
3/4 cup barley
10 ounces ground chicken
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high. Add the barley to the pot of boiling water and cook 16 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Set aside until it is time to plate the meal. While the barley cooks, in another pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced garlic and the green onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the diced tomato, basil, edamame, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring mixture to a boil, once boiling cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until the barley is done about 12-15 minutes. In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, basil, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Create 4 patties and cook up in pan with two tablespoons of olive oil. Loosely cover the pan with tin foil and cook on MEDIUM (not high like we did!) for 4-6 minute per side. Once all elements are prepared plate and enjoy!
It is amazing what you can do when sleep deprived. The last two nights Mr. Henry has decided to host an all-night dance party. The problem is mom and dad were not really feeling it. Unfortunately for all of us, Henry gets to dictate the evening schedule right now and so we were up, up, UP all night with the little fellow. Yes, he did sleep a little but it wasn’t for long and by the time we fell back to sleep ourselves, he was rising out of his shallow slumber. Despite the last 48 hours of no sleep, we have still been able to shower, cook, and function more or less. Last night we cooked up this skirt steak with green beans and potatoes. It was super simple but if I had to do it again, I might not use skirt steak. I think a sirloin would have really heightened the meal. Fingers crossed that we are able to cook tonight before collapsing into a pile of sleepless jelly!
1lb Skirt Steak
6 Ounces Long Beans
4 Cloves Garlic
1 Bunch Thyme
1 Pound Russet Potatoes
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Place the potatoes on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange the seasoned potatoes in a single layer and roast in the oven for 20 to 22. season the steaks with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the seasoned steaks and cook, loosely covering the pan with aluminum foil, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan and heat , dd the diced garlic cloves and cook. Add the long beans, tomato, half the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes. Plate the dish by placing the potatoes first, top with greens, and lastly add the steak. Enjoy!