All Posts By Melissa d'Arabian

Melissa d'Arabian Mom of four Melissa d'Arabian is a trusted expert on affordable and healthy family home cooking. Well-known for Ten Dollar Dinners — her Food Network show and New York Times best-selling cookbook — she also hosts the FoodNetwork.com series The Picky Eaters Project and serves as a lead judge on Guy's Grocery Games. Her new cookbook, Supermarket Healthy, is available now. www.melissadarabian.net

An Ode to Mashed Potatoes

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, November 15th, 2014

Mashed PotatoesWith Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’d like to give a little shout out to the mashed potato. While the internet will likely now be debating the best way to ensure a juicy turkey (easy: Alton Brown’s brined turkey recipe), or whether stuffing should be cooked inside the bird (I say no), I want to send a little love to the one that really brings it all together; the one item on the Thanksgiving plate that gives gravy its own little well, clearly recognizing that it is far too delicious to be merely drizzled over things. Thank you, mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes are the perfect comfort food. Eaten alone, they are rich, creamy and earthy. And paired with roasted meats or stews, they become the supporting player, letting the meat shine. At Thanksgiving, mashed potatoes share their space on the plate with an interloping carb, stuffing. And still, the meal seems somehow to make sense. All this, and they are cheap, too! (A tip: Potatoes are usually a much better deal in the 5-pound bag than loose.)

Read more

Mastering the Basics of Braising + 6 Recipes to Try

by in Food Network Chef, November 1st, 2014

Braised Country-Style Pork RibsTurning the clocks back an hour feels like an unofficial start of winter, ever since the pumpkin spice latte decided to start making appearance since approximately August. (Technically I realize this is not true, but it sure feels that way.) Suddenly, the days will whiz by, as we speed our way to 2015, cooking and eating every step of the way, and sitting down to a dinner table with the windows newly darkened by night.

Which means: Turn on the ovens and braise some meat! So, in that spirit, let me give you a quick primer on this fantastic wintertime technique.

What is braising?
Braising is a method of cooking meat slowly in moist heat, usually with part of the meat submerged in an aromatic liquid. Often a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven is used – the meat, vegetables and liquid are put into the Dutch oven, covered and then cooked over gentle, even, low heat for several hours.

Read more

Feeding Souls: My Challenge for You This Week

by in Food Network Chef, October 18th, 2014

Lentil Quinoa SaladI was chatting with one of my girlfriends on the phone a few days ago. She’s expecting her first baby in a few months and is balancing that with a full-time career — two big tasks that I know from experience can exhaust even the most-energetic person. I had a sense of wanting to jump through the telephone line (and across the 2,500 miles that separate us) to bring her dinner. Yes, it would take a task off her plate, but more than that, preparing food for someone sends a message of love. Food nourishes both body and soul, which is why a shared meal comforts when we grieve, celebrates when we are joyful and is the catalyst for getting acquainted (think how many marriages began with a dinner date). Food connects us.

Why not connect with someone this week?

We’ve all heard the timesaving advice to “cook once, eat twice” before, which refers to making double dinner and freezing half for a future meal. But what if this week you cooked once, ate once and gave the other half to someone whose day could use a little lift? Maybe you happen to know of a new mom who would rather get an extra hour of sleep than cook, or perhaps you read about a neighbor who just lost a loved one and would appreciate the thoughtfulness. But more likely, you don’t have someone top-of-mind who you know needs a meal. Think a little harder. Because almost everyone is going through something, and everyone loves to feel connected, even if it’s just on a stressful day when the kids are out of control, or traffic was extra-awful or the electricity bill was through the roof.

Read more

Cooking with All Those Apples: A Top 10 List

by in Food Network Chef, In Season, October 4th, 2014

Cooking with All Those Apples: A Top 10 ListIt’s officially apple-picking season (truly officially, as October is National Apple Month), so it seems only right to share some ideas for apples. Everywhere I turn I see photos of friends plucking juicy fruit from trees, placing it in woodsy-looking mini barrels or baskets, destined for cinnamon-y pies or fragrant cobblers. This time of year, I crave the chill of autumn and the warming sip of hot cider. I crave Vermont. I spent four years in Burlington for college and the state has never left my soul. And in Vermont in fall, we picked apples. Now that I live in Southern California, I admit that I feel a bit nostalgic for the postcard-worthy foliage scenes, the smell of fresh maple syrup and the plethora of apples that had us cooking all season long.

If you’ve been apple picking, or even to the grocery store lately (I saw Granny Smiths the other day for .49 cents a pound!), you might well have an apple stock you are looking to use. What to do with ‘dem apples?

Read more

The Roasted Veggie Plan: Foolproof Prep + 10 Creative Uses

by in Food Network Chef, September 20th, 2014

The Roasted Veggie PlanWe all want more time. And we all want to be healthy. So when I develop a strategy that meets both goals, I get excited about sharing it with you. Today I’m sharing my roasted veggie strategy. It’s really quite simple: Bake up a tray or two of veggies on the weekend to stick in the fridge and use for recipes all week. Roasting the veggies brings out the vegetables’ natural earthy sweetness, and it makes them last for days in the refrigerator, which means you can make up a batch of veggies on Monday to use all week for recipes. You can combine veggies freely, making pretty color combinations or simply leveraging whatever happens to be in your crisper drawer. This is my favorite kind of convenience food — one I make myself.

Read more

How to Shop Your Pantry, Plus 3 Weeknight Dinners to Master

by in Family, Food Network Chef, September 6th, 2014

Melissa d'ArabianMy kids have been in school for exactly four days. Which is about how long it took to remind me that the summer routine of winging it for dinner won’t work anymore. Gone are the afternoons of lazily brainstorming dinner ideas at 5 p.m. from the comfort of a pool lounge chair (“grilled salmon or chicken, sweetie?”). In September, 5 p.m. without a dinner plan wreaks havoc on the delicate soccer-school-homework-ballet ecosphere of our home.

Anyone out there relate? What do you do?

Some common strategies: Race around like a madwoman cobbling together something – anything – that will feed the hungry bellies around the table, letting nutrition take a break for one tiny night. (Anyone?) Go to the drive-thru, or order delivery. Serve cereal (again).

Read more

Looking Back on One Year of Progress: The Picky Eaters Project

by in Family, Food Network Chef, August 21st, 2014

The Picky Eaters Project One Year LaterMy littlest daughter was always complaining that she was too short, whining about being the shrimp of the family, until the day came when she could brush her teeth without a stool. Suddenly, she realized how much taller she was, and how the tiny bits of daily growth had sneakily added up to something quite significant. That is the nature of slow-but-steady change. We had a similar experience on vacation this summer, except that it was about the tremendous growth we’ve witnessed in our picky eaters.

I’ll back up. I have four daughters, and two and half of them are picky eaters. While I’d had some success in improving their eating with a few strategies here and there, I wanted to see a more fundamental shift, not just an occasional willingness to eat a vegetable. About a year and a half ago, I started researching picky eating. I suspected the story was bigger than finding a magical recipe that would make my kids like spinach. My research confirmed my suspicions: Picky eating was a complex issue with many causes. And each one of my kids probably identified with several of the root causes to varying degrees. So I decided to create a program that focused on root causes, something beyond tips and recipes. I invited Food Network viewers into my home to watch and learn along with us. The result was the unique Food Network Web series called The Picky Eaters Project. By the time we completed the program ourselves and the cameras came down from our family dining room (we called it “carrot cam” because it spied on us all throughout dinner!), my girls were eating foods I never dreamed they would (Margaux liked peas?!) and had started making their own wise choices about healthy eating (Charlotte was reading cereal labels before choosing a box). The response from fellow parents of picky eaters was tremendous, and we were thrilled that The Picky Eaters Project was included as a Webby honoree last year.

Read more

Summer Slow-Cooking: How to Up Your Grill Game

by in How-to, In Season, Recipes, August 2nd, 2014

We have reached part three of our series on summer slow-cooking. You can catch up on part one and part two. So far, we’ve found a way to keep our kitchen cool by turning off that oven, and we’ve found a great trick for cooking bone-in and tougher cuts of meat. So for part three, I want to share how to cook items that complement what you are making on the grill (which is most likely meat, fish or some other protein). So for my final benefit (sniff!):

You can easily cook larger quantities of accompaniments that go well with whatever you have on the grill. Read more

Summer Slow-Cooking: Slow Cooker + Outdoor Grill = True Love

by in How-to, Recipes, July 26th, 2014

Summer Slow-Cooking: Slow Cooker + Outdoor Grill = True LoveICYMI — I am sharing the joy of using a slow cooker as a companion to your outdoor barbecue. This is part two of a three-part series, but don’t worry, you can catch up quickly by reading here. We’ll wait. You back? Good. Wasn’t that cool? Baking in your slow cooker? Who knew, right? But let’s set the cobbler aside for a moment and get to our next function of the handy slow cooker in the world of summer barbecues. When I think of outdoor grilling, I think of MEAT. So for my next benefit:

You can precook bone-in or tougher meats for better (and easier!) results on the grill.

Read more

Summer Slow-Cooking: How to Bake Without Heating Up the House

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, July 19th, 2014

How to Bake Without Heating Up the HouseWho doesn’t love coming home to the aromas of a slow cooker filled with bubbling chili, steaming chicken and dumplings, or hearty beef stew on a cold day? The slow cooker is a staple for the busy person’s winter menu rotation. But come Memorial Day, many of us tuck the slow cooker away in the garage on top of a carton of wool mittens and mothballs, not to be seen before the first chill of Halloween.

I want to change that, one household at a time. I’d like to make the case for slow-cooking in summer. In fact, I think it is the most-underused companion to your summer outdoor barbecue.

Read more

123...