by Melissa d'Arabian in Food Network Chef, July 5th, 2015
by Melissa d'Arabian in Food Network Chef, Recipes, May 23rd, 2015
I 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:
by Maria Russo in Food Network Chef, May 18th, 2015
The 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
by Melissa d'Arabian in Food Network Chef, Recipes, May 9th, 2015
Given your work commitments, the kids’ activities and the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the road, it can seem like a feat simply making it to the supermarket at all, let alone enjoying the experience and feeling prepared for family meals — and checking out under budget. That’s where Melissa d’Arabian comes in. The host of Ten Dollar Dinners and the Web-exclusive Picky Eaters Project just launched the all-new Web series Smart Carts: Winning the Supermarket, devoted to making your experience at the grocery store simpler and more strategic with just a few good-to-know tricks for conquering the aisles no matter where you shop.
Over the course of eight videos, Melissa shares her tried-and-true secrets for saving time and money at the market, including ways to know when is best to bulk shop and how to get the job done in a hurry. Click the play button on the video above to watch the first of her all-new videos, then read on below to pick up Melissa’s supermarket savvy with six of her top tips.
by Erin Hartigan in Food Network Chef, Restaurants, April 26th, 2015
In the winter months, I love nothing more than tucking into a warm meaty stew or sliding a butter knife through succulent tender braised roasts. I create my meals around the protein — sometimes relegating the sides to a secondary consideration, sticking to tried-and-true standbys most weeknights. If I am trying out a new flavor in the kitchen, it isn’t usually in the veggies.
I realize that as the weather warms up, there is a subtle shift to my cooking: I create my meals around the vegetables and keep the proteins uber-simple, usually just tossing them on the grill and then slicing to serve on a small platter, almost as a side to the veggie stars. The vegetables become my canvas for improvisation. Sometime around April or May, I start bulking up my veggie purchases, and I find myself browsing the local farmers market, or even just the supermarket produce aisle. Last week at dinner, my nephew Jack commented on the plethora of veggie dishes I served — I served three, but they were full recipes, not just the quick steamy work of a microwave. (I feel compelled to add that he even gave my sauteed cabbage a 55 on a scale of 1 to 10, which is something for cabbage and a 10-year-old.)
by Melissa d'Arabian in Food Network Chef, April 18th, 2015
If you had to plan your perfect day of eating, where would you go?
That’s the question we pose to Food Network stars and guests on the new Web series Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Wonder where Melissa d’Arabian gets her morning fuel in San Diego? Or which Los Angeles restaurants could make tough-as-nails critic Simon Majumdar smile? This new series reveals perfect meals from coast to coast.
by Melissa d'Arabian in Food Network Chef, April 4th, 2015
I spent most of my week in Washington, D.C., and North Carolina, supporting No Kid Hungry’s efforts to feed our nation’s children. I attended the No Kid Hungry Summit alongside thought leaders, corporations, foundation heads and some of the best chefs nationwide. I joined forces with many of them to spend a day on Capitol Hill, meeting with our legislators, and I hosted two Taste of the Nation events in D.C. and Charlotte. Phew! As I type, I’m sipping a strong cup of coffee (after a 3 a.m. wake-up call!), sitting on a plane headed home to San Diego.
Why would I spend nearly a week away from my family and take that kind of time off from my “regular” work?
by Melissa d'Arabian in Food Network Chef, March 21st, 2015
It’s Easter week, so we are loading up the minivan with the kids and heading out to spend the holiday with family. One of the great pleasures of my life is turning around from the front passenger seat of our minivan and seeing all four of my kids sitting in their seats, all buckled and excited for whatever adventure awaits the d’Arabians. Something about that view, even if they are just watching the DVD player that I swore I would never use when I bought the car, reminds me that at my core, the identity in life that brings me the most joy is that of being the mom of this family.
One of my favorite episodes of Ten Dollar Dinners is the one where my kids cooked with me. We made brunch: baked eggs with chorizo, a healthy smoothie and chocolate veggie pancakes. Valentine and Charlotte helped me cook (wow, they look young to me now in that episode!), while Margaux, Oceane and Philippe joined us to eat at the end of the episode. (It was the only time that gorgeous dining room table that our prop stylist had found at vintage shop was ever featured in an episode!) That was a real glimpse into what our family is like around the table, which is how I probably picture my family the most. The only unnatural part of that brunch (other than the cameras!) was the fact that we had to ask Philippe to speak in English to the girls for the purposes of TV. In real life, he speaks to them only in French. (In fact, for years the girls thought he didn’t know how to speak English! But that’s a story for another day.) If you listen closely, you can actually hear Oceane slip up and reply to Philippe in French in the last few seconds of the show.
by Melissa d'Arabian in Family, Food Network Chef, March 7th, 2015
We moved into a new house last weekend. While it was only a few blocks away from our old house, the logistics were deceptively still monumental. The upside of moving, however, is that you purge, if only to save yourself from having to tape up, carry and unpack yet another box. So, in the spirit of celebrating spring (and because this is all so very fresh in my mind with our move), I’m sharing with you exactly how I do my favorite kind of spring cleaning: Clear the Pantry Week.
First, I should admit up front that I don’t love to clean in general. When friends say they find it soothing or relaxing, it only makes me wonder if they’ve never been to a spa. So let that shed a little bit of light onto my loose use of the term “favorite” when I’m describing any cleaning task. But stay with me here, because Clear the Pantry is a fun game, and I don’t mean that in the same way I try to talk my daughters into making their beds every morning by singing our way through the steps. I actually like Clear the Pantry (CTP) Week. And, unlike lots of spring cleaning tasks, CTP will actually save you cash immediately, which is the same thing as making money, except better because the saving is after-tax.
CTP, at its simplest, is a commitment to shop from our own pantries instead of the store, which reduces clutter and improves inventory rotation and cash flow. We’ll have fun, your pantry and fridge and freezer will be clean, and you’ll have some extra cash in your pocket. Ready?
How to CTP in 6 Easy Steps:
by Melissa d'Arabian in Food Network Chef, February 7th, 2015
My daughters had been begging me to buy a particular box of cereal for the month of March. In our house, cereal is either healthy enough to be considered a breakfast item (by virtue of low sugar and high protein and fiber), or it is a dessert treat that we buy once a month. This box of cereal was the “dessert” cereal for the month of March. I brought the cereal home today, and the girls cheered with excitement, knowing that dessert tonight would be a bowl of crispy chocolate cereal in cold creamy milk.
I returned to work back in my office. Suddenly I heard a soft knock and saw the eyes of my 7-year-old Margaux peeking through the cracked door. I knew it was important. I stopped my typing and invited Margaux in, with her earnest, somber face. In her little hands, she held the box of chocolate cereal. “Mom, I just checked, and this cereal has 13 grams of sugar. I don’t think it’s very healthy at all.” She was conflicted — a gift of being a reader and being incapable of unseeing what she had read on the label. What followed was a conversation about our health, making balanced choices and reading labels. We brainstormed some options that would enable her to enjoy the cereal sometimes, but without feeling bad about it. (Simply not eating this cereal again, however, was not on the table for Margaux.) We talked about maybe buying a treat cereal less often — perhaps every six weeks — and making the servings a little smaller in order to reduce the sugar. She suggested maybe skipping the piece of candy she is allowed at the movies next time to balance out the sugar. (I don’t hold high hopes for her making good on that one, if I’m honest.)
There are questions that I am asked over and over — by journalists, fans, and TV and radio hosts. One of them: What is my favorite thing to cook? The answer: my Potato-Bacon Torte (which, interestingly, seems to be my fans’ favorite too!). But the reason may surprise you. It actually surprised me, once I took the time to give real thought to the follow-up question, “Why?” — which no one ever seemed to ask, until recently.
The Potato-Bacon Torte (pictured above) is certainly tasty comfort food: rich with cream, slightly smoky from bacon and deliciously encrusted with the unmistakable aroma of buttery crust that flakes under the pressure of teeth sinking in for a bite. The entire house smells like a fluffy, warm croissant when I bake it. A small sliver served with a simple green salad with a tangy Dijon vinaigrette is the perfect winter supper, if you ask me. And the recipe costs pennies per serving to make, so it aligns with the frugal me.