Tag: Melissa d’Arabian

Thanksgiving Dinner: Where to Save, Where to Splurge

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, November 22nd, 2015

Thanksgiving Dinner: Where to Save, Where to SplurgeI’m all for saving a buck. But more than that, I believe in spending with purpose and intent — saving where I can but splurging a bit where it counts. So as you go into your Thanksgiving holiday shopping, I’ve created a handy list to show you where to splurge and where to save on turkey-day groceries.

Stuffing: Save
I’m starting with my favorite part of Thanksgiving: the stuffing. But just because it’s my favorite doesn’t mean I will spend a ton of money on it. Stuffing is mostly just dried bread — cheap! And bags of stuffing or dried bread are usually a “loss leader” in the grocery store around the holidays, meaning something the store sells really cheaply to get you in the door (and buying the rest of your full-price groceries). My cheapie hack: Buy the premade, inexpensive bread cubes, but add some homemade bread cubes you cut yourself from bakery bread. Swing by the day-old-bread rack (usually near the dairy aisle, not the bakery). For stuffing, you want your bread to be a day or two stale anywayso pick up a rich, dark bread or a tangy sourdough loaf to pump up the premade cubes; it will add homemade flavor and texture on the cheap.

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Your Next Family Dinner Winner: A DIY Baked Potato Bar

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, November 1st, 2015

Melissa d'ArabianEvery Saturday we do a family movie or game night. On the menu is some version of a DIY dinner: Make your own pizza, build your own burrito bowl, taco night, you get the idea. Lately my kids are very into the baked potato bar. And because I love to buy potatoes in the 10-pound bag (compare the per-pound price and it’s hard to pass up that bag!), I am all for this fun and inexpensive movie night meal.

Now that I’m a bit of a potato bar expert with more than a few under my belt, I want to share some surprise bonuses to putting this on your menu. I mean, of course baked potatoes are tasty, but check out this list of truly awesome extras.

Bonus 1: Making a ton of potatoes doesn’t really take any longer than making a few. So this meal is ideal for slumber parties, classroom get-togethers and casual entertaining. The only limit is the size of your oven, and a standard oven fits a lot of potatoes.

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Apple Picking in New England and What I’m Cooking with 20 Pounds of Apples

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, October 10th, 2015

Apple Crumbple with Cardamom-Vanilla Caramel SaucePhilippe and I took our family apple picking last weekend in a lush, green New Hampshire orchard, and my love for this perfectly crisp, juicy, sweet fruit has been renewed. Watching my sweet daughter Charlotte reach up to a tree heavy with ruby-red fruit and pluck her first apple ever warmed my heart. And seeing Océane nibble on two different apples — one in each hand, while the picking bag, full of fruit, hung heavy looped around her tiny forearm — had me smiling (and mentally preparing for the aftermath of letting four girls freely pick as many apples as they wished). I wondered just how many apples the Transportation Security Administration would let us stash in our carry-on suitcases (the answer: a lot, but only after being pulled out of line for a thorough swabbing of the 20 or so pounds of apples we packed).

During the past few days since our trip to the orchard, we’ve snacked on more apples than I thought possible, given apples to each of the girls’ teachers (and the girls’ teachers from last year, because why leave them out?) and we still have two huge fruit bowls brimming with apples of all kinds. We have tart, firm cooking apples, crisp eating varieties, thick-skinned greenish apples that I don’t recognize but love once I get past the reptile-like skin, trusty red apples and Golden Delicious apples. I’m baking up some basics: my favorite Classic Apple Tart (with an easy butter crust that’s unbelievably good!), a Quick Cinnamon Apple Tart (perfect for when I’m feeling rushed) and my Apple Crumble with Cardamom-Vanilla Caramel Sauce (pictured above). But apples don’t have to be just for sweets. I’ll add a cup or two of cubed (or julienned) apple to my Fennel and Cabbage Slaw or to my Asian Coleslaw (my personal favorite), where some apple will add just the right level of tangy, sweet and tart to complement the warm ginger and spicy Sriracha. And if we still have a few stragglers left next week that somehow didn’t make it into a recipe or someone’s mouth for an after-school snack, I’ll cube them up and simmer them in a bit of water with a cinnamon stick, a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of maple syrup (also from our New England trip) and make an easy, chunky compote. (Or you can blend up the mixture for a smoother applesauce.) Now I feel like autumn is official.

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Omega-3s to the Rescue: Why I Eat Them When I’m Stressed + Go-To Recipes

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, September 22nd, 2015

Omega-3's to the Rescue: Why I Eat Them When I'm Stressed + Go-To RecipesWe are mere weeks into the school year — anyone else a little stressed already? I love routine and structure, but the first month or two can be a bumpy re-entry as we try to find our footing in a new schedule of activities and events.

When I am feeling a little overwhelmed, my natural instinct is to load up caffeine, simple carbs, processed foods, sodium and sugar — “anything to get through the day” is my default battle cry. But I play that scene through and I know it will compound the problem of overwhelming me with lethargy and fuzzy thinking. So, instead, I ignore that part of my inner self and cling to basic actions that have proven time and again to be exactly what I need during times of stress. I make sure my physical and emotional health are well-tended so that I have maximum personal resources to deal with the hecticness.

For me, that means fiercely protecting my morning devotionals, rather than hitting the snooze button. (Actually, if I need to set an alarm, that’s my body’s way of saying I’m not getting enough sleep, so I fix that, too.) I protect my exercise time, particularly if I think I don’t have the time to exercise. And on the food front, I up the Oomega-3 fatty acids in my diet. There are lots of studies out there that point us in the direction of Omega-3s for mood health, but that’s not why I turn to them. I do it because, quite simply, I feel better equipped to face the craziness of this messy life. My personal go-tos: tuna, salmon, sardines, eggs, shrimp, walnuts, strawberries, dark leafy greens, cabbage and cauliflower. I buy these ingredients and fill the dinner calendar with recipes starring them, and I cut down on processed foods, even eliminating them entirely if life is super-stressful. And it’s that simple.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few recipes that will get you started.

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4 Make-Ahead Ways to Hack Breakfast and Avoid the Morning Rut

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, September 7th, 2015

School is back in session, and we are all looking for ways to streamline our routines, especially in the morning. But “routine” can sometimes also mean “rut.” Take breakfast, for instance. Yes, it is easy to rely on the tried-and-true cereal route, and, hey, there’s nothing wrong with some high-quality, low-sugar cereals to jump-start a busy day. (My secret confession: Cereal is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.) But what if you want to mix it up a bit at breakfast but don’t want to take on a major cooking task first thing in the a.m.?

Here are four make-ahead breakfast ideas that all take fewer than three minutes of morning prep time:

1. Mini Muffins

I make up batches of high-fiber, high-protein mini muffins and keep them in freezer bags for breakfasts and snacks anytime. Why mini and not regular muffins? Tiny minis thaw out in minutes. But the real reason (mom to mom): Texture is less important in a mini muffin than in a regular-sized muffin. You can load those babies up with healthy goodies, like flax, bran or ground nuts — things that could turn a regular muffin into a doorstop — and your kids won’t even blink an eye. Try my Magic Fruit-and-Veggie Muffins recipe (pictured above, featured in Food Network Magazine).

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Get to Know Guy’s Grocery Games Judge Melissa d’Arabian

by in Shows, September 1st, 2015

Melissa d'ArabianAs the winner of the fifth season of The Next Food Network Star, Melissa d’Arabian went on to host Ten Dollar Dinners on Food Network and Drop 5 Lbs with Good Housekeeping on Cooking Channel. She’s also authored two cookbooks, most recently Supermarket Healthy. And on FoodNetwork.com she’s hosted the Web series The Picky Eaters Project, which aims to make family mealtime planning easier. This television host, author and busy mom of four also serves as a judge on Guy’s Grocery Games. Find out what’s Melissa’s go-to guilty-pleasure food, what she loves to pick up at the supermarket and more.

Get to know this Triple G judge, and tune in to watch Melissa on Guy’s Grocery Games on Sundays at 8|7c.

Do you prefer shopping in a small market or in a supermarket?
Melissa d’Arabian: I love small markets if I’m in Paris and there are tons of them around! Otherwise, I am quite happy in a large supermarket.

Do you prefer self-checkout, online ordering or a real person?
MD: Real person.

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5 Coffee Hacks to Make Your Mornings Easier and More Flavorful

by in Drinks, Food Network Chef, August 26th, 2015

5 Coffee Hacks to Make Your Mornings Easier and More FlavorfulAs I type, I am surrounded by a sea of binders and lined papers, high-top shoes, low-top ankle boots, trendy-again ’70s stretchy hipster pants and crisply colored backpacks smelling of factory nylon. Just removing the tags from all this loot makes me feel like taking a nap.

’Tis the season of coffee. (Did I really just say “’tis the season?” It’s not even Labor Day! I think I even outpaced Costco there!) Coffee and autumn go hand in hand in our household. Any time an alarm clock jolts me out of sleep, I want the jolt of caffeine shortly thereafter. My husband makes the coffee as part of our nightly routine, setting the timer for exactly 15 minutes before I wake up, so that I walk downstairs and into the kitchen at the perfect moment, when the machine is gurgling and spattering lightly as it confirms that all the water is gone from the chamber and the machine can finally, confidently turn itself off, while a final few drops of coffee plop gently into the full pot. It’s the glorious announcement of another day full of possibility.

I am a coffee fan (I don’t say “snob” because I find that loosely translates into people who don’t like Starbucks), so I like my coffee exactly right: no sugar and about two tablespoons of half-and-half, or a quarter-cup of milk (but, in that case, heated). Quite simply, the day doesn’t begin without coffee for me. I love the routine, the smell, the warmth and, of course, the caffeine (although I only drink half-caf so I can have two cups without feeling jittery). And all this coffeepot experience has taught me a few little tricks — some coffee hacks, if you will.

1. Mom’s trick to improve cheap coffee:

Growing up, we were incredibly poor, and my mom bought the cheapest coffee she could find at the grocery store. But, no matter, she insisted, because a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of cinnamon in the filter along with the coffee elevated bargain beans to gourmet status. Well, almost. But this trick did get me through the lean college and graduate school days pretty darned well.

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Greetings from France, Where It’s All About Aperitifs: How to Host Your Own French Appetizer Hour

by in Food Network Chef, July 25th, 2015

Melissa d'ArabianI’m writing this from the (hot) countryside of the Provence region of France, where my family spends a few weeks a year at my in-laws’ house. Our girls love seeing their grandparents, and we spend long, lazy days swimming in the pool (mostly out of necessity, to be up-front — it’s so hot!), catching up with our French family and with friends Philippe and I have known for years, long before any of us had the kids who now count each other among their extended family.

The South of France is famous for doing summer right, especially when it comes to food. We only half-joke that by the time we spend a few hours eating one meal, we barely have time to clean up and start prepping for the next one. Food brings people together, and no one knows this more innately than the French, in my experience.

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How to Indulge on Vacation Without Losing Sight of Healthy Habits: Melissa’s Bare-Minimum Plan

by in Food Network Chef, July 5th, 2015

Melissa d'ArabianI love summer vacation, don’t you?

But you know what I don’t love? Getting out of my routine, especially my healthy routines, such as eating well and working out. At home, I know exactly when I will go to the gym, who I will see there (my workout buddies — hi, Heather and Julie!) and what I will eat when I get home. I don’t have to think about it or waste any energy figuring out how to make that all happen; that’s one of the great benefits of setting up solid routines to support our life goals.

So what happens when I go on vacation? When I am out of my normal routine, and faced with an unfamiliar environment and a list of to-do’s (albeit fun ones!) that involve not just me but my family, too, I can easily find myself going days or even a couple of weeks without following my normal healthy-eating and workout routines. Sometimes, I actually am quite happy to embrace the indulgence and enjoy a little “time off.” Who wants to go to New York City and not enjoy its amazing restaurants?

For these times, I have created a “bare minimum” plan — things that I can do pretty much no matter where, no matter what — that will keep me at least a little on track while still allowing me to let go of the workout guilt and enjoy time off from the routine. Because vacation should be fun and guilt-free, right?

You ready? This is what I do when I am letting loose, and it’s totally doable:

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Lettuce Wraps: An Easy Formula for Leftovers

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, May 23rd, 2015

Turkey Lettuce WrapsThe lettuce wrap has been having a good few years. Lately it seems like every menu features some sort of deliciously spicy chicken or tofu filling tucked into a cool crunchy leaf of lettuce that you roll up like a burrito and eat. Even I’m on #TeamLettuceWrap, as evidenced by this recipe for Turkey Lettuce Wraps (pictured above) from Ten Dollar Dinners!

And in the summer? Lettuce wraps are far more than just a tasty low-carb treat — they can be your catchall leftover repurposing strategy. Simply follow my easy formula for lettuce wrap bliss:

Protein + shredded veggie + something crunchy + sauce

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