by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, January 22nd, 2015
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, January 15th, 2015
My husband and I are working on buying our first house. So far we have done a ton of research, taken carloads of stuff that we don’t want to move to Goodwill and pulled way back on our spending in order to save every extra penny for this giant purchase.
One way we’re tightening our budget is by focusing on our food expenses. I’ve given up $4 cups of pour over coffee, and my husband is taking his lunch to work most days. We’re focusing on meal planning, reducing waste and eating less meat.
I’m also trying to make a few snack-y convenience foods to replace the ones I might otherwise buy while I’m out running errands, which is how Trisha Yearwood’s Power Balls came into my life.
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, January 8th, 2015
A cold front has settled down over the country and everyone is searching for ways to keep warm. Some people bundle up in many layers of down and wool. Others drink mug after mug of steaming hot tea. While I embrace both of those approaches, my favorite way to respond to days of deep freeze is to turn on the oven.
I make loaves of oatmeal bread, roast up trays of root vegetables and braise anything that I can get my hands on. In the last two weeks, I’ve tucked a whole chicken into a bed of sauteed leeks and white wine. I’ve made my grandmother’s famous onion and turkey legs (served over brown rice to soak up the juices). And I pulled my favorite orange Dutch oven off the shelf to make Jeff Mauro’s Braised Short Ribs.
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, December 25th, 2014
I am always grateful when the calendar flips to a new year. It means a less-cluttered schedule, a break from the heavy eating of the holidays, and a chance to initiate a new habit or two.
For most people, the goals they set this time of year have to do with diets, exercise and self-improvement. And while those are all admirable endeavors, my January hopes tend to revolve around activities designed to bring more fun into my life.
That’s why I’m declaring that 2015 will be the year of brunch party. To my mind, it’s a nearly perfect way to entertain. It’s a kid-friendly time of day (an increasingly important element). A homemade brunch is almost more affordable than going out (even when you spring for smoked salmon). And it’s easy enough to adapt to nearly every food allergy and aversion (a reality of our times).
by Marisa McClellan in Holidays, Recipes, December 18th, 2014
My family has a tradition of gathering for five or six days around the holidays. We all pile into the host’s house (most often my parents, but this year we’re at my sister’s), and spend the time eating, playing music and enjoying a break from regular life.
We are all fans of having a late, lazy breakfast (these days, it serves as lunch for my preschooler nephew). One morning, my dad will make waffles. Another day, my mom will make a giant pot of steel-cut oats with lots of toppings. I am always in charge of eggs (either scrambled or fried). And my sister is the queen of the frittata.
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, December 11th, 2014
I’m not sure if it’s just in my social circles, but I find that the number of potluck parties I’m invited to skyrockets this time of year. So many invitations are issued with the request that we bring a dish to share. And while I don’t mind traveling to various gatherings with my casserole dish or slow cooker in tow, I do sometimes find myself stumped for ideas as to what to bring.
Salads are often good, but they rarely keep their crunch as long as I’d like. Desserts are always welcome, but I prefer to bring something savory, on the chance that everyone else made something for the sweet table. And that leaves me forever on the search for a portable main dish.
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, December 4th, 2014
For the last few weeks, we’ve been using the Weekender column to talk about things you can do on Saturday or Sunday to make it easier to eat well throughout a busy week. There was this tasty meatloaf (double it and freeze one!), these suggestions for salad packing and this dead-easy one-pot pasta.
This week, I want to take a moment to advocate for a weekend batch of homemade sauce. Now, when I said the word “sauce,” I’m sure that most of you mentally inserted the word “tomato” before it. However, there is a world of sauces and pastes you can make on Sunday afternoon and use all week in your dinner prep that are faster, easier and just as delicious as your grandmother’s red “gravy.”
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, November 27th, 2014
I believe that everyone should know how to make a simple but delicious one-pot pasta dish. It needs to taste good, use only pantry and fridge basics, and dirty a minimal number of tools and utensils. Think boxed mac and cheese, only without the lurid orange powdered cheese.
The beauty of these one-pot pasta dishes is that that you use a minimal amount of water when cooking the pasta. You retain all the starch from the pasta in the pan, which makes for a luscious sauce, and you don’t have to wait 45 minutes for a gallon of water to come to a boil. Once the pasta is cooked, you add just a few ingredients, give it a good stir, and serve.
Currently, I’m most fond of Giada De Laurentiis’ approach to the one-pot pasta meal. Her Calabrian Chile Pasta cooks in no time and tastes amazing. You start with an inch of water in a high-sided saute pan. Once it boils, you add a pound of pasta and cook until it’s al dente (stirring regularly to determine whether it needs an additional splash of water).
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, November 20th, 2014
I don’t know if it was trendy in the 1980s or if it was a particular quirk of my mother’s, but we ate many a meal of stuffed vegetables during my childhood. No hollow or overgrown vegetable was safe. Peppers of all colors, giant zucchini, tomatoes and even, occasionally, avocados were filled with a medley of rice, protein and onion, then draped with shredded cheese and run under the broiler.
I’m fairly convinced that the reason my mom liked this particular style of dinner prep so much was that it gave her the opportunity to stretch a pound of meat across several meals and use up all manner of odds and ends from the crisper. I also suspect that she tucked more vegetables into the filling than I was aware of as a small child.
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, November 13th, 2014
When 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.
Winter 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.