All Posts By Jennifer Perillo

Jennifer Perillo is a recipe developer and food writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her recipes and tips for feeding families homemade meals are a regular feature in Working Mother magazine, where she’s the consulting food editor, as well Relish Magazine, Parenting, Kiwi and her blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen. Jennie's first cookbook, Homemade With Love, is now available.

5 Ways to Use Day-Old Bread

by in How-to, April 1st, 2014

5 Ways to Use Day-Old BreadWhen I was growing up, my mom always kept a stash of stale bread destined to become breadcrumbs. It’s a thrifty way to make use of leftovers, and also not waste any of your grocery budgets. I always mean to do this, but the truth is I get impatient. To make breadcrumbs, the bread must be rid of all moisture. Depending on the temperature in your house, this could take weeks of waiting. You could speed the process up by baking the bread at a low temperature, essentially dehydrating it. Once I get to the point of turning on the oven, though, I want a bigger payoff.

What starts as a journey for homemade breadcrumbs eventually turns into croutons or crisps, like the recipe for these savory, cracker-like ones below. They’re perfect for topping with some creamy ricotta cheese and a drizzle of honey, and they also lend some oomph to a charcuterie platter. If I manage to have any left, I give them a whirl in the food processor for seasoned homemade breadcrumbs, which brings my cooking endeavor full circle.

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Don’t Waste Those Tops: Eat More Greens

by in Recipes, March 12th, 2014

Don't Waste Those Tops: Eat More GreensMy goal is to repurpose pretty much everything in the kitchen to cut down on waste. With each new recipe, I create a quilt, of sorts, weaving unused ingredients, or leftover portions, from one dish into the next new recipe I develop. When I make bread, the little bit of flour left on the board after kneading and baking gets spooned into a bowl for the next time. A few leftover meatballs might make for a meager meal on their own. Smashed up and simmered in a marinara sauce, though, they’re a hearty dinner over polenta or pasta.

When I buy beets, the tops, also called beet greens, are always set aside for a quick saute. Finding uses for the less-obvious ingredients is something I particularly enjoy. Take carrots, for example. They, too, come with these lush, green leaves attached, which most people snap off and toss in the trash. Thanks to some inspiration from a friend on Instagram a couple of months ago, I decided to make a pesto out of them. This recipe is a great way to enjoy an old favorite in a new way.

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10 New Ways to Eat Carrots

by in Recipes, February 25th, 2014

10 New Ways to Eat CarrotsCarrot sticks and hummus are my go-to snack when I need a quick, healthy pick-me-up. When time is on my side, though, carrots have so much more to offer than simply snacking. Roasting brings out their natural sweetness, making them a tasty, easy side dish. There’s the ever-popular carrot-ginger soup pairing, which Food Network Kitchens has turned into an energy-boosting breakfast smoothie. Speaking of soup, I found a couple of new, inspiring ones too. Here’s a peek at some of the more-versatile recipes that elevate the humble carrot to superstar status in the kitchen.

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Outside the Chocolate Box: Valentine’s Day Dessert Ideas

by in Holidays, February 10th, 2014

Valentine's Day Dessert IdeasCall me crazy, but chocolate isn’t my first choice for dessert. If you follow my blog, then you know there are some exceptions to this rule, at least when Chewy, Bittersweet Brownies are involved. Brownies aside, my sweet tooth tendencies are likely satisfied with something like this Raspberry-Ricotta Mousse or Lemon Icebox Bars. Why should Valentine’s Day be any different? This year I say think outside the box of chocolates and whip up one of these homemade treats for your sweetheart.

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Thanksgiving Apple Pie Makeovers

by in Holidays, November 15th, 2013

Flat Apple PieThe first Thanksgiving I ever hosted was a cooking obstacle course, except the stress had nothing to with the actual cooking task at hand. It was the fact that I knowingly tossed my family’s traditions out the window, in an effort to create new ones for my own growing family — I was four months pregnant with my first daughter.

The list of what I changed goes on and on (including the stuffing and cranberry sauce). Therein lies my biggest mistake that very first Thanksgiving: I changed too much, too fast. Rather than create the picture-perfect memory of a blissful family Thanksgiving, I was left feeling under-appreciated for all my hard work.

What does any of this have to do with your Thanksgiving plans this year, you may be wondering? It’s pretty simple, actually. Learn from my mistakes. Thanksgiving is first and foremost supposed to be about family and being grateful. People hold tight to their traditions, though, and making drastic changes to beloved family recipes is an invitation for disaster. This doesn’t mean you can’t chart your own course. It just means you should stick with familiar favorites, but give them your own twist.

Twists on the classic apple pie

Countdown to Thanksgiving: You Can Start Prepping Now

by in Holidays, November 1st, 2013

Countdown to Thanksgiving: You Can Start Prepping NowLet me start by admitting that I’m a horrible meal planner. It’s not for lack of trying. Lists have been made in the past, only to be lost or forgotten on the counter. After doing that one too many times, I took it as a sign that perhaps I was better suited to winging it. Truth be told, I like the spontaneity of “planning” meals while I’m shopping too. It offers more inspiration and frees me from the rigidity of a set menu.

Thanksgiving, though, is a different story. There are certain favorites I know I want to make every year, so when November rolls around I feel more inclined to be prepared. Two essentials I’ve needed every year are homemade stock for making gravy and pie crusts for dessert. Luckily, they’re both components you can get a jump on prepping well in advance before the holiday.

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Feel-Good Foods — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Recipes, October 29th, 2013

Linguine with Avocado and PestoIt’s no secret that cooking is therapy for many people. The kitchen is a place where I’ve always been able to block out the noise of the outside world. Recipes offer a sense of control and order in a world that doesn’t always work the way I wish.

It’s important to keep a healthy perspective though, especially at times when you feel most vulnerable. What we cook, and therefore eat, is as important as the act of cooking itself. When I start to feel a little down, I take a look at a cheat sheet my dear friend Cristie, a holistic health coach, gave me. Here’s a peek at some foods I keep on hand for when I need a quick pick-me-up.

Avocados: I love a nice smear of creamy, ripe avocado on baguette for breakfast, which means a boost of vitamin B and potassium. Both nutrients help lower blood pressure, which is affected by stress.

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Patience Is Key: Cooking with Concord Grapes

by in In Season, October 22nd, 2013

Jelly DoughnutsI question my sanity every year I set out to make my first batch of Concord Grape Muffins for the season. It takes a level of patience to stand at the counter and remove the tiny seeds from each grape with the tip of a paring knife. By time the 8 ounces of grapes I need for a dozen of muffins are ready — after 15 to 20 minutes — I’ve either hit a state of nirvana and can imagine myself seeding a few more pounds, or I swear I’m never doing something so silly again.

Then the muffins come out of the oven, bursting with fragrant pockets of Concord grape jelly. That’s exactly what happens to the grapes as they bake. Once I realize that making these muffins is really two recipes in one — homemade muffins and homemade grape jelly — the effort it takes to prep the grapes is well worth the reward. It also saves me from having to spread jelly on a muffin, and that extra 60 seconds means I’m one minute closer to gobbling up seconds.

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Let’s Talk Chestnuts — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in In Season, October 14th, 2013

Let's Talk ChestnutsMy knowledge of chestnuts was rather limited until my husband and I cooked our first Thanksgiving dinner back in 1995. While many people have fond memories of chestnut stuffing on Thanksgiving, my family’s stuffing of choice came out of a box. That changed once Michael and I started celebrating the holiday together.

Every year he’d set about prepping his “kitchen sink stuffing” filled with dried bread cubes, apples, crumbled sausage, celery, carrots and, yes, chopped chestnuts. As time went by, we tweaked the recipe. I taught him how to finely chop the vegetables and properly saute them, so they would almost melt into the stuffing. I began making homemade stock to swap in for the canned kind he used. One year I even managed to convince him to skip the sausage and make a vegetarian version for me. The one ingredient that always stayed in the mix, though, was chestnuts.

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Lunchbox Basics — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Family, September 18th, 2013

Lunch Box BasicsSchool finally started up again here in New York City, and with it came the reality that I’ll have to pack 500+ lunches between now and the end of June 2014. Given the alternative of the poor-quality food offered at my daughters’ elementary school, I’m thankful I can provide them with a healthy lunch on my own. The task is still daunting, though, and it’s hard to stay inspired when I’ve been on this lunchbox merry-go-round for five years now. As luck would have it, Catherine McCord’s new cookbook, Weelicious Lunches, arrived on my doorstep when we came home after the first day of school. It remedied my lunchbox blues and reminded me that every day I get the chance to send my girls off with a little reminder that Mommy loves them.

Here are a few tips and tricks I keep in mind when psyching myself up for the lunch challenge during the week.

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