The Best Margarita

The best classic m argarita

Last December at the Ritz Carlton Cancún, we discovered the secrets to a perfect margarita. This arduous task took many nights, and some days, of tedious research and testing. Es un placer to share the recipe with you today, in time for Cinco de Mayo (that’s May 5th for my non-Spanish-speaking readers).  Continue reading

Craving: Chocolate Chex Crunch

Chocolate Chex Mix Buddies

Maybe you’ve heard of this chocolatey-peanut-buttery snack mix as “Puppy Chow” or “Muddy Buddies” – but I think those are terrible names! So maybe “Chocolate Chex Crunch” isn’t very creative, but at least it’s descriptive (and a little more appetizing). Easier to make than Rice Krispies Treats, this Chex™ cereal recipe should be in every chocolate lover’s repertoire. Truth be told, I can’t stop eating the stuff – to the point where my kids have started to hide the container from me (“for my own good”). I use good-quality Ghirardelli semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, so the addition of vanilla (per the Chex recipe) isn’t really necessary. You can find the original recipe on the back of Chex cereals, or my version below. Continue reading

Mango Loco

Or loca: I’m crazy for these produce department newcomers, ataulfo mangoes. For anyone who loves the floral/tropical flavor of mangoes but can’t stand the fibrous, get-stuck-between-your-teeth nature of the common mango, be sure to stock up on these golden beauties before they disappear for the season.

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Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Garlic Dressing

 

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with ArugulaTrue story: Back in my Didn’t Know Better days, I used to whip up cauliflower tempura in my tiny studio kitchen on a near-weekly basis. It was always a huge mess – cornstarch dusting every inch of formica and vinyl, Wesson oil splattered all over the white Hotpoint stove. It was indulgent, and totally worth it. I especially loved the browned bits of cauliflower that would sometimes show up, having slipped out of their batter blanket and been allowed to sizzle directly in the oil. If only I had known about roasting cauliflower! I could’ve had that same caramelized delicacy with much less mess and many fewer calories.

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Cauliflower “candy”

Roasted cauliflower is the star of my new favorite salad, which I adapted from a recipe in Fine Cooking. It’s full of contrasting-yet-harmonious flavors and textures, and is dressed with my super-versatile lemon garlic vinaigrette. I use this same dressing for Caesar salad, and even as a marinade for chicken and shrimp. But back to the main event: Even if you don’t make this salad (though you should!), you owe it to yourself to try the roasted cauliflower. Now we all know better. (And yes, the same can be said about perms, blue eye shadow and shoulder pads.)

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Le Paris Weekend

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For the last 10 years I’ve been making  homecoming pilgrimages to Paris – sometimes alone, sometimes with a few girlfriends (or sister!) in tow, and always just for a long weekend. Instead of spending hours in line for museums or tourist attractions, I prefer to meander around my old neighborhood (le 6ème/St-Germain), visit old friends, trek out to the St-Ouen flea market, and devour every crumb of creative and culinary inspiration. Paris is a feast for the senses as well as the soul! I return home exhausted but reinvigorated. And interestingly – despite the daily consumption of whole milk cafés au lait, baguettes with butter, cheese, pastries and chocolate – I somehow come back 3 pounds lighter. (The key, apparently, is walking 8+ miles per day, as tracked by my Fitbit.) Here’s a little taste of my most recent trip. Bon appétit!  Continue reading

Pomegranate Sparklers

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I. Love. Pomegranates. Maybe because they’re only available for a few months out of the year. (Though so are pumpkin spice lattes, and those I really could do without.) Maybe it’s because, like the best things in life, they take a little work. (See below.) Or maybe it’s because they’re beautiful inside and out, as well as irresistibly tangy/tart/juicy/sweet and good for you, too! So there’s a lot to love.

It should come as no surprise, then, that these Pomegranate Sparklers have become my go-to “house cocktail” for fall and winter entertaining (all the way through Valentine’s Day!) A little pomegranate juice, some bubbly prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), and a few jewel-like pomegranate seeds (technically arils) for a fun garnish. Easy and festive!

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Baked Butternut Squash Rigatoni

Butternut squash rigatoni baked

It’s the first weekend of October – hooray! Colder days, but not too cold. Pumpkins, apples, baking. Halloween! However, it looks like the rain this weekend is going to squash my plans to hang spooky skeleton hand lights in the trees, decorate the front porch and go apple picking. Perfect weather for a comforting casserole, though, so I thought I’d recycle a favorite fall recipe from the early days of my blog. After all, sometimes you don’t need MORE recipes, just a reminder of the good ones you already have. Right?

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Smoky Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghannouj)

Baba ghanouj

Love this dip! Easy, healthful and exotic. (My food trifecta!)

If you can find any late-season eggplants at the market, grab’em. Throw them on the grill with whatever else you’re cooking. Let the eggplants get nice and charred, and then wrap them up until you feel like making this irresistible dip. (Even mid-winter, you can make this in the oven with grocery store eggplants.)  Continue reading

What’s for Lunch??

In a lunch rut? We were too, until I discovered Yumboxes.  These multi-compartment bento-inspired boxes are leakproof, so you can even pack ranch dip, salsa or yogurt without a big mess come lunchtime. Added bonus: these aren’t just for kids! I plan on using Yumboxes for our next plane trip, since the hard case will protect food from getting squished in my carry-on bag. The portion control is nice too.

YumBox with Cheez-Its

Cheez-Its, peanut butter, celery and honeycrisp apple slices. Pack a plastic knife for spreading peanut butter.

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