Fideyos (Comfort Noodles)


Living thousands of miles away from family is hard. I can’t just pop over to Mom’s with a basket of fresh-baked scones on Mother’s Day, grab a quick latte with my little sister, or be there to support aunts, uncles and cousins in times of need.

What I can do to feel connected to family is cook foods that remind me of home – of childhood memories, family traditions and happy times. The perfect comfort food candidate? Fideyos, or toasted angel hair pasta cooked in chicken broth. My grandma Margaret used to make this ages-old Sephardic noodle recipe for us when I was little, and it was always one of my favorite dishes. (Meant to be a side dish, but for me it was the meal.)

Grandpa Joe and Grandma Margaret

Grandpa Joe and Grandma Margaret

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Time for Fiesta!

¡Hola! In honor of Cinco de Mayo tomorrow, I’m reposting links to some of my favorite Mexican recipes. While the outnumbered Mexican army’s defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 is certainly worth celebrating (unless you’re French, I suppose), any sunny day is good for a Mexican food fiesta. I also included a recipe for my cheater margaritas. They’re not the traditional recipe, but they’re easy to make by the pitcher. (Careful: they’re easy to drink by the pitcher as well!)

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Best black bean salad

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Bacon, Potato and Leek Frittata



Breakfast, lunch or dinner is served! I tossed around some other names for this dish: Leftovers Pie, Crustless Quiche, Make-Ahead Magic for Overnight Guests, Zap-n-Go Anytime Meal Slices. Some of these are better than others, but they all would work. Frittata sounded a little fancier – worthy of the leeks I used in it this time, but it’s not a traditional frittata. It’s also not as heavy as a cream-laden quiche, but I think you get the idea. I’ve made similar versions without the leeks – just a lone, leftover baked potato and some bits from the Christmas ham. That was good too! But leeks work really well here and bring a much-needed glimmer of spring to the table. Continue reading

Better-than-Baked-Brie Bites


There’s a lot to love about a good baked brie – golden puff pastry wrapped around a wheel of creamy cheese and a secret sweet surprise (jam, brown sugar, nuts, etc.), where the cheese and jam meld together and ooze out of the flaky crust when you first cut into it. That’s Baked Brie’s brief moment of glory, though, so you’d better eat fast. When the cheese cools, the once-elegant pastry/cheese package turns into a congealed blob, with soggy dough that contributes little more than calories. Your party guests deserve better!  Continue reading

A Winning Slow-Cooker Brisket Ragu

brisket raguI mentioned in my last post that I’ve been doing a lot of whining lately. On the road towards positivity, I thought I’d spin that into a win-win, wine-themed post: a fall-apart tender, red wine-enhanced brisket ragu with cellentani (corkscrew) pasta, and a chance to win tickets to the NYC Wine and Food Festival! I’m feeling more upbeat already. Continue reading

Healthy Cupcakes Take TODAY Show’s Top Prize!

Sue Walter TODAY Show

Can you believe it?? My “Too Good to Be Healthy” Black Bottom Cupcakes landed me on the TODAY Show last Thursday, as a finalist in Joy Bauer’s contest. AND -we won! (We, as in the cupcakes and me, and also as in shared honors with the nervous contestant #1 who fainted right before we went on air.)

Since everyone’s been asking me what the experience was like (and what was in that prize basket?), I thought I’d share some behind-the-scenes highlights.

The real stars of the day!

The real stars of the day!

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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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Skinny Cream of Broccoli Soup with Aged Cheddar


Everyone in our house grooves on crispy roasted broccoli, so it’s in heavy rotation on the dinner menu playlist.


However, no one but me will eat the stems or stalks. I’m not really sure why this is, but I’d guess it’s because the florets get so much crispier than the stalks. Whatever the reason, I end up with pounds and pounds of broccoli stalks that I can’t bring myself to throw out. (We had to stop putting food in our backyard compost pile because the rats and raccoons thought they’d stumbled upon a 24/7 gastropub.)


So now, whenever I make roasted broccoli, I chop up the underappreciated stems and store them in a gallon-size ziplock bag in the fridge. (They’ll keep for weeks.) When the bag’s full, it’s time to make Cream of Broccoli soup.

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Sandy Aftermath: Trials, Triumphs and What We Ate

As we mark Day 8 without electricity thanks to Frankenstorm Sandy, tempers are getting shorter, temperatures are getting colder, and gas lines are still long (though improving).  We feel isolated from the world, and abashed by our envy of neighbors who have regained power. We find ourselves idling around, mourning cable TV and internet, and complaining about a cold house. But then we snap out of it. Unlike many in the area, we still have a house. We have gas for cooking, and a generator for little luxuries like toast. We have our family intact, and have never had this much quality time together: fireside Scrabble tournaments and roasting marshmallows in the living room; reading books and doing crafts; making pancakes on a weekday. I’d say we’ve been pretty lucky.

And those neighbors with power restored? We can’t begrudge them. We’ve been humbled by their graciousness and generosity – open doors for heat, phone charging, meals and even laundry service! We’re also in awe of those with no electricity but who refuse to be powerless; several neighbors have been working tirelessly to collect clothing and blankets for communities that were truly devastated – not just inconvenienced – by the storm.

With or without electricity, we still need to eat – and a home-cooked meal can go a long way towards restoring a sense of normalcy. I’ve been enjoying the mental challenge of figuring out what to cook next, based on what needed to get used up and what could be prepared over the gas stove or in the toaster oven. Here are some of the things I’ve been cooking – in case you’re also without power and in need of some inspiration:

  • Eggs  – hardboiled, scrambled, ham/egg/cheese sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches with capers, Dijon mustard and Greek yogurt (instead of mayo – decided to toss that).
  • Pasta – bowties with a sauce made from the last of the cream cheese and leftover chicken & wine sauce from the freezer; spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and parmesan; pasta with ham, peas and cream. Haven’t hit the Easy-Mac yet, but it’s in the pantry if we need it.
  • Salad made with canned black beans, red onion, sherry vinegar and formerly-frozen corn
  • Quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches
  • French toast and pancakes
  • English muffin pizzas in the toaster oven
  • Chicken curry made with canned tomatoes, boxed chicken broth and peanut butter
  • Rice, quinoa and couscous pilafs (with sautéed onions and toasted nuts)

Tonight I’m going to make a big pot of Tomato Fennel soup. All neighbors – with or without power – are welcome to stop by for a mug.

We’ll get through this!

PS – On the way to Starbucks to post this, I passed 3 utility trucks working in our neighborhood. Someone heard we might have power as soon as tonight. I’m surprised to feel a twinge of sadness mixed with euphoria and relief; I was hoping for more Scrabble games by the fire. It’s a tradition I hope we’ll continue, even when the cable’s back.

Bovine Bounty Winner

Before Sandy blows off our roof and wipes out our power for a week, I wanted to post the winner of the first Subee’s Kitchen giveaway. Congratulations to Dani F., who will receive this “bovine bounty” bag of dairy-themed gifts! (Winner selected using Dani posted that one of her favorite uses for cheese is her friend Karen’s cheese puff appetizers. Maybe Karen will share her recipe? I love a good cheese puff.

By the way, the cauliflower gratin recipe I promised is still in the works. I made one with cheese and cream the other day, which was rich (imagine that) and delicious, especially served alongside pork tenderloin braised in apple cider. Next I was going to try a version with a white sauce (flour/butter/milk) instead of cream to see which one I liked better. However, this effort has been stalled by Halloween parties and Sandy preparations (gas, water, wine, cat food), so please stay tuned. If we’re in the dark this week, I’ll be posting some “use up the food that’s in the fridge” creations until the laptop runs out of juice.

Speaking of creations, I came up with this one today on the way to Target. I already had the devil costume and shiny white fabric in the attic (I think I’ve alluded to my pack-rat tendencies?), so I just needed to pick up a plastic yellow bowl along with the bottled water and paper towels. Can you figure out what I am?

A Deviled Egg!