Honey-Pear Icebox Trifle with Soft-and-Easy Gingersnaps — The Weekender

by in Recipes, November 20th, 2014

Honey-Pear Icebox Trifle with Soft-and-Easy Ginger SnapsWhen it comes to Thanksgiving dessert, I come from a family of traditionalists. Pies are required, and they typically come in both pumpkin and apple (though when the gluten-free gather with us, I’ll often make an apple crisp with GF oats instead).

As I was plotting out my contributions to the two Thanksgiving meals I’m attending this year, however, I started to ponder options beyond the classic. Part of the reason I feel so free to monkey with the tried and true is that I’m attending two collaborative dinners (really, that’s just a fancy term for a potluck). I know others will bring the requisite pies, and so I am free to explore a little.

For my husband’s family, I’m taking vanilla pound cake with runny raspberry jam for topping. We’re traveling several hours for that meal and I know those cakes will survive even the most-arduous journey over the river, through the woods and up the New Jersey Turnpike. I made the jam with fresh fruit this summer, but a similar batch could easily be made by combining 2 pounds of frozen berries, 2 cups of sugar and a little lemon juice, then simmering until thick.

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Spice-Rubbed Pork Chops with Sorghum BBQ Sauce — The Weekender

by in Recipes, November 13th, 2014

Spice-Rubbed Pork Chops with Sorghum BBQ SauceWinter is coming, and that means that it’s time to put the outdoor furniture away, insulate the spigots for the garden hose and make sure the house is ready for the coming chill. You may also be considering putting your grill away for the season, but I think you should hold off on that one and remember how your grill can serve you all year round.

Sure, it’s great for cookouts in the summer and fall, but it’s also an amazing workhorse for making big batches of grilled vegetables (you haven’t lived until you’ve had grilled delicata squash), for roasting chickens and turkeys, and even for prepping a week’s worth of ingredients for lunches and dinners.

This weekend, consider firing up the grill. Roast off a mess of squash. Grill up a couple of batches of Bobby Flay’s Spice-Rubbed Pork Chops. Finally, spatchcock a chicken, rub it with a little salt and pepper, and let it cook over the embers. You can get at least three meals from just a couple of hours of work, and the cleanup will be minimal.

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Deconstructed Falafel Salad — The Weekender

by in Recipes, November 6th, 2014

Deconstructed Falafel SaladLet’s talk lunch. There is no better time to think about packing a few weekday lunches than over the weekend. If you wait until Monday, the battle is already lost. But if you devote even just half an hour on Saturday or Sunday to prep some lettuce and a couple of interesting toppings, the entire week is just better.

It means that instead of snacking aimlessly throughout the day or spending way too much money on a takeout meal, you have a solid lunch to look forward to.

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Hazelnut Brittle — The Weekender

by in Holidays, Recipes, October 30th, 2014

Hazelnut BrittleAs we approach Halloween, mediocre candy is everywhere. It lines the shelves at local drug stores and is available for free if you’re even just a little bit nice to your local bank teller.

As someone who tries to keep her sugar intake on the low-to-moderate side of things, I can easily go over my personal daily quota with just a couple of mindlessly consumed fun size candy bars.

I find that one of the best ways to pass on the smorgasbord of seasonal offerings is to have a small stash of homemade candy at home. I know that the treats I make will taste better and be more to my liking than anything I might pick up while out running errands.

Right at the moment, my personal candy jar contains small fragments of Hazelnut Brittle. It’s a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis that requires just sugar, water and well-toasted hazelnuts.

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Pie Baked Apples — The Weekender

by in Recipes, October 23rd, 2014

Pie Baked ApplesThis time of year, many of us make the trek out to our closest U-Pick farms to load up on sweet, crisp apples. It’s easy to get carried away by the fresh air and autumnal abundance, and what looked like a reasonable amount of fruit in the orchard becomes an overwhelming volume once you cart it into your kitchen.

So, you start cooking. You make a big batch of applesauce for the freezer. You bake up a pan of apple crisp for dessert (or breakfast, topped with a scoop of plain yogurt). You slice the apples and stack them with peanut butter. You take a sackful to work, hoping your co-workers will help you out. And still, there are more apples.

If this sounds like a familiar story, may I suggest a fun little dessert that comes together quickly, tastes like a treat and still manages to put the focus on the whole fruit? A cross between traditional pie and baked apples, these Pie Baked Apples have you scoop out the interior apple flesh, toss it with a little sugar and spices, and pack it back into the empty apples. You top them with some store-bought pie crust, then bake them until they’re tender and brown.

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Turkey Meatloaf — The Weekender

by in Recipes, October 16th, 2014

Turkey MeatloafI am of the firm belief that one of the best things you can do for yourself is spend an extra hour or two in the kitchen over the weekend. You can use that time cooking up a meal to have on hand for a busy weeknight, or stir together a treat to make your family feel a little extra special.

Sometimes, that weekend kitchen time isn’t even about cooking. Often, it’s simply a moment to clear out the fridge of anything past its prime and sketch out a plan for how to best use what remains.

And that’s what The Weekender is about: doing yourself the kindness of investing a little bit of your weekend in the kitchen with an eye on the coming week. There will be tasty dishes, tricks for getting your kitchen in order and little things you can do to make meals during the workweek as painless as possible.

This weekend, consider the humble meatloaf. It’s a great make-ahead meal, because it reheats beautifully (consider making two and stashing one in the freezer), works just as well in a sandwich as on a dinner plate and, for picky eaters, goes down easy with a generous dollop of ketchup.

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Lemon Pepper Cured Chicken with Fennel Salad — The Weekender

by in Recipes, May 30th, 2014

Lemon Pepper Cured Chicken with Fennel SaladWhen I was a young reader, one of my favorite series of books was the one by Maud Hart Lovelace. It featured the characters Betsy, Tacy and Tib in the early days of the 20th century. The books started when the girls were just 5 years old and went straight through to the early days of their respective marriages.

In those later books, Tacy tells Betsy that she should have a “company meal” to avoid stress when having friends over for dinner. While much about this series might be seen as charmingly dated, I actually think that the concept of a well-practiced and delicious meal designed for sharing is a good one.

During the winter months, my personal company meal features chicken and ricotta meatballs, braised kale and some cheesy polenta. Either I ask my dinner companions to pick up something for dessert or I bake off some of the cookie dough I keep in my freezer.

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Sweet and Sticky Pork Ribs — The Weekender

by in Holidays, Recipes, May 23rd, 2014

Sweet and Sticky Pork Ribs - The WeekenderMemorial Day weekend is upon us and with it, the unofficial start to the summer season. Pull out the bathing suits, unearth the citronella candles and light the grill, for it is time to celebrate warm weather and long days.

Because grilling is so deeply associated with this time of year, those of us without outdoor space can sometimes end up feeling just a little bit left out of the fun. So as a longtime apartment dweller, I’ve developed a handful of techniques to compensate for my lack of porch, patio or yard. If you’re in similar straits, hopefully these tricks will help you cope.

The first thing to do is get yourself a grill pan. It’s nice on the stovetop (though if you don’t have good ventilation, you might set off your smoke detector), but I find that it’s even better when used in the oven. I will often roast a butterflied chicken on a grill pan in the oven in order to get some nice crosshatched marks on my bird.

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Lemon Chicken and Leek Rice Pilaf — The Weekender

by in Recipes, May 16th, 2014

Lemon Chicken and Leek Rice Pilaf - The WeekenderI know that by springtime most people think that we should be done with casseroles and one-pot dishes. But even in May there is occasionally a chilly, dreary day where nothing quite fills the bill like a good casserole.

One such dish that I like a lot this time of year is Rachael Ray’s Lemon Chicken and Leek Rice Pilaf. It’s light, bright from the lemon juice, and comforting.

It’s also a handy one to have in your repertoire, because it’s one of those dishes that can be either more or less intensive, depending on how much time and commitment you want to invest. You can either poach a chicken for the meat and broth, or you can pick up a fully cooked grocery-store bird and use a bit of boxed stock. Both ways work and will result in a delicious Weekender.

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White Bean and Arugula Salad — The Weekender

by in Recipes, May 9th, 2014

White Bean and Arugula Salad - The WeekenderMother’s Day is always a touch bittersweet for me because I live a country away from my own mom. I moved to Philadelphia from Portland, Ore., in my early 20s, intending to stay just a couple of years. Instead I made friends, went to grad school and eventually met my husband. As much as I miss the West Coast, Philly has become home.

So these days I celebrate Mother’s Day by packing up a box of goodies, shipping it to my mom and scheduling a Sunday morning Skype date so I can “be” there while she opens it up.

The distance doesn’t stop me from planning an imaginary Mother’s Day meal. (Other people play fantasy sports. I fantasy meal plan.) To start, I’d put out some softened chevre, a few baguette rounds and a jar of rhubarb chutney. The main event would be a roast chicken with lemon, and with it I’d serve Ina Garten’s White Bean and Arugula Salad, good crusty bread from a local bakery and some broiled asparagus.

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