by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, February 27th, 2015
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, February 20th, 2015
One of the things I’ve learned since becoming an adult is that every family makes spaghetti and meatballs a little bit differently. When I was growing up, my mom used as many vegetables as possible and skipped the meatballs entirely, preferring to cook some ground turkey directly in the sauce. It was awfully good, but still, I found myself coveting other approaches.
When my sister got married, her husband introduced us to his family recipe, with basic beef meatballs and Parmesan cheese and tiny bits of chopped carrots in the sauce. My own husband’s childhood spaghetti night involved canned marinara and links of Italian sausage.
Being someone who is always in pursuit of the next great dish, I’ve not settled down into one particular approach to the classic dish of spaghetti and meatballs. Sometimes I make chicken and ricotta meatballs; other times I’ve opted for a trio of ground meat and Italian bread, lightly soaked in milk.
by Marisa McClellan in Holidays, Recipes, February 13th, 2015
Most of the time, I cook simply out of basic necessity. I spend a goodly amount of time thinking about food because (like all people) my husband and I need to eat and I prefer that we eat things that are budget-friendly and relatively healthful.
However, sometimes I choose to cook because I’m looking to experience new flavors or I want to recall an experience I had sometime in the past. Food is a far more affordable way to “revisit” a familiar town or region than buying a plane ticket and is decidedly more instantaneous to boot.
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, February 6th, 2015
Valentine’s Day means something different for nearly everyone. Some people send cards. Others plan lavish meals for their sweethearts. Still others give or receive gifts of chocolate or shiny baubles. And there are always a few who boycott the holiday (and often wear black in protest).
I like to acknowledge Valentine’s Day, but I have always preferred a more homemade approach. When I was in school, I always insisted that I make individual cards for my classmates instead of buying the preprinted ones from the drugstore (heart-shaped doilies were almost always involved in my craft projects).
Later on, I’d gather up friends for a home-cooked dinner designed to celebrate our collective community. The promised cheese fondue would always draw a big crowd, regardless of whether my friends were in relationships.
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, January 29th, 2015
We have a houseguest coming to stay for a couple of nights next week. Whenever we have people come to visit, I try to do a few things before they get here. The first is to make sure the bathroom is relatively clean (we have but one, so it degrades to messiness quite easily). The second is to make sure that our extra bedding is cleaned and aired out. And the third is to make some extra-tasty thing to have on hand to feed them.
Now, cooking for guests is a tricky thing these days, because just about everyone has some dietary exception. This means it’s always best to ask ahead of time, to ensure that you make something they will be able to enjoy. Happily, my impending guest is relatively free of food avoidances or aversions.
by Marisa McClellan in Recipes, January 22nd, 2015
This time of the year, when the days are short and bone-chillingly cold, I turn to citrus to help brighten my mood. I bring home clementines by the bagful, order boxes of sweet-tart Meyer lemons direct from California and peel myself at least one red grapefruit every afternoon as a snack.
Most of the time, my citrus consumption feels spare and virtuous, but occasionally I put a few lemons and limes to work in a less austere manner. I have a small, dense lemon loaf recipe that I adore. Lemon curd happens at least once a season in my kitchen. And this year, I’m having a hard time keeping myself away from Ree Drummond’s Lemon-Lime Pound Cake.
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.
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.