Healthier Boxwoods (and Free Holiday Greenery!)

IMG_1701Boxwoods often get a bad rap for being fussy and highbrow – shrubs more befitting Versailles than a New Jersey backyard. Not so, I say! We have at least 5 different varieties of boxwood in our yard (there are about 70 in the Buxus family), and they’re much more Sallie Sue than Marie Antoinette.  These well-mannered evergreen shrubs provide year-round structure in a landscape, and don’t demand much in return. As an added bonus, if you open-prune them in early December, they’ll reward you with free holiday greenery and healthy new growth come spring. 

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Blog Holiday Open House

Local Subee’s Kitchen followers – you’re invited to my 3rd annual Holiday Open House. This year’s theme will be “Christmas in Paris” (don’t I wish!) Sample some petites gourmandises, check out my boxwood cuttings arrangements (cheap and chic), and take home some new ideas for wrapping and decorating à la française.

Holiday Open House 2013

Pictured above:

  • Quince from my tree; our house in gingerbread; Subee’s Kitchen gift baskets
  • Ornament made by Brenda Cornett; simple wreath & bow
  • Homemade wool felt stockings; gingerbread ornament; la maison 

(Check out last year’s Open House here, or revisit my last trip to Paris here.)

Mini Pumpkins with Farro Pilaf and Crispy Sage

Farro-stuffed mini pumpkins

Looking for a Thanksgiving side dish that’s traditional yet a “little” different? These stuffed mini pumpkins deliver big autumn flavors in an adorable little package. Even better? They’re highly nutritious (thanks to the whole grain farro), easy to prepare, and can be made a few days ahead.  Continue reading

The Best (and Easiest) Way to Cook Green Beans

green beans

My daughter Leah has been known to consume about a pound of haricots verts in a single sitting.  Coincidentally (or not), she also looks like one of those skinny French beans.

 

Ma fille, Leah

Ma fille, Leah

“Proper” technique for cooking green beans (regular or haricots verts) is to blanch them in boiling water for about 2 minutes, then drain, rinse and cool in an ice bath (to stop the cooking). Then, you sauté the barely-cooked beans in butter and/or oil until just tender. This is not a bad method – especially if you want to blanch the beans a day ahead of time– but I have found that the extra steps (and dishes) are not necessary.  Especially if you cook beans a lot – which we do.

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No Yolk: Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta “Eggs”

April Fool's Panna Cotta Egg

Old-world panna cotta is experiencing a renaissance these days, and for good reason. This no-bake, gluten-free dessert is a giggly blank canvas for seasonal flavors and embellishments, from rhubarb compote to gingerbread crumbles. Sounds fancy, but panna cotta is really just barely-sweetened Jell-O made with cream (or milk or Greek yogurt) instead of water. Since it must be made ahead (in order to set up in the fridge), panna cotta perfect for entertaining. Busy restaurants love it for this reason as well.

Back in 1999, when I was voted one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs, I began experimenting with all kinds of different flavorings, shapes and toppings for panna cotta.

That's me - front row, second from the right.

That’s me – front row, second from the right.

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Crafty Cracker Baskets

Cracker basket salad

While many of our friends are lounging around in sunny locales this week for spring break, sipping Piña Coladas (or Shirley Temples) and worrying about nothing but SPF coverage, we are hunkering down at home – gearing up for another snowstorm (?!) and making To Do lists for our New Jersey “staycation”.

cat watching snow

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Corned Beef & Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Corned beef and cheddar biscuits

Got leftover corned beef and need a break from sandwiches or hash? Try adding it to these quick drop biscuits – no kneading or rolling required. Along with a pot of cauliflower soup, it’s what’s for dinner in our house tonight.

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Quick-n-Easy Cookie Pops

Oreo Cookie Pops

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – an especially fun and goodie-filled holiday for kids, as well as for women with creative, generous, romantic spouses . . .

While expressing love with a Valentine’s card is always appropriate, a little homemade treat can make the sentiment even sweeter. These Oreo cookie pops look fancy and festive, but can be assembled and decorated in less than half an hour. Sweet mother of shortcuts!

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Open House Recap

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“Full House” is more like it! Almost 50 blog followers and friends came to my Holiday Open House yesterday, and thankfully they were good eaters. (That’s why I love them!)  For those who couldn’t make it, here’s a little bit of what you missed. And for anyone planning to host their own open house this holiday season, I’ve added a few tips and past lessons-learned. There are always lessons to learn with entertaining! One of these days I hope to follow my own advice.

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