What’s for Dinner?: Meatballs

BY  |  Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

meatball

Let’s start with the facts: every omnivore loves meatballs. Period. So, when some friends invited us over for an evening of meatballs and wine, as card-carrying omnivores, we simply could not resist.

Each guest was asked to bring their interpretation of a meatball dish and as the invitees were a hodge-podge of nations and ethnicities, it almost turned the evening into a Meatball World Cup.

The universal popularity of the otherwise humble meatball is unwavering: from simple meatballs with red sauce and spaghetti to fancy Spanish albondigas served as tapas. Meatballs truly run the culinary and global gamut: Kofta, polpette, xiu mai, they are all a variation on a theme: meat shaped into a ball!

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New Beech-Nut: Real Food For Babies

BY  |  Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Beech-NutI have to admit, I wasn’t too optimistic when the Beech-Nut box filled with the company’s new product line came filled with four jars of baby foods for my daughter to try. She turned one in January and has since turned her nose up (in her own baby way) when she sees a jar appear on the kitchen table. She eats what my husband and I eat– just a little mushier – and the fruit and veggie purees I make for her. If she’s still hungry after her meals, she will drink down an organic baby food pouch. I think she finds them fun.

I read the marketing material that came with the box first. According to the card, Beech-Nut’s inspiration was mom-made foods and claimed that, “This is not baby food, this is real food for babies.” Further down, I learned that there is nothing but whole fruits and vegetables in this new line — no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. They also used a ‘just gentle cooking process™ to lock in the flavor and freshness. Although I was glad to learn that the food was natural, I was bummed that it wasn’t organic.

After reading enough background to know what I was about to feed my daughter, I opened the box to find four newly designed Beech-Nut jars, one each of the new flavors: Just Honey Crisp Apples; Just Carrots; Just Spinach, Zucchini and Peas; Beets, Pear & Pomegranate.

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What’s for Dinner?: Herb and Cheese Pancakes with A Garlicky Dip

BY  |  Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

panchees

Finally, there’s less of a nip in the air and that has given me the chance (albeit slowly) to start transitioning my family’s meals to ones featuring lighter fare. Granted, I have not quite put away my heavy coat, but I’m getting close to bidding it au revoir until we meet again later in the fall.

With green shoots starting to appear in the yard, here is an easy recipe to ease you further into spring —Herb and Cheese Pancakes with A Garlicky Dip.

While it is not yet asparagus or pea weather, the herbs in these delicious savory pancakes are a nod to more seasonal fare.  This recipe is great served with a green salad and a sharp dressing (think red wine vinegar), and you could always add smoked salmon to dial up the protein content.

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Enjoy a Family Dinner at Mr. Dino’s and Help the KinderSmile Foundation

BY  |  Friday, Mar 21, 2014 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

kindersmile

Amya Dumay and Dr. Nicole McGrath, DDS.

Take the family out for pizza at Mr. Dino’s Pizzeria and Restaurant in Montclair, next Wednesday, March 26, and 15% of the sales will go to the KinderSmile Foundation, which provides free dental services to low-income children in New Jersey.

Pat Loconsole, Manager and son of owner of Mr. Dino’s worked with Amya Dumay, age 15, of Montclair to organize a Pizza and Smiles Night to support the KinderSmile Foundation’s 2014 Dental Mission to Nicaragua and Peru led by Dr. Nicole McGrath, DDS.

“We decided to help because we believe every kid should have a smile on their face, and the first step to that is getting them the right dental help. We love to give back and when Amya contacted me we were very excited to get involved.” said Loconsole. He added, “Amya was very responsive and really worked with us to make this happen.”

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by Baking Irish Soda Bread

BY  |  Sunday, Mar 16, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Irish Soda Bread

You can purchase Irish Soda Bread all over town, but if you want a fun activity to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the kids, bake some together.  It’s an easy quick bread, perfect for family baking.

Jan Greco, a local mom who blogs about food over at Beets and Blue Cheese, shares her delicious and easy Irish Soda Bread recipe for St. Patrick’s Day with us here:

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St. Patrick’s Day Round Up

BY  |  Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 10:15am  |  COMMENTS (0)

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day is on Monday!

Here’s a round up of parades, our favorite crafts, recipes, books and more that will make your Irish eyes smile — and remember, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!:

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What’s for Dinner?: Leek and Potato Soup

BY  |  Sunday, Mar 09, 2014 8:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

potleeksoup

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching and so it is time to start thinking about some seasonal treats that are (A) fitting for the occasion and (B) not filled with green dye.

My Irish grandmother would be appalled by the very thought of green bagels. In truth, I’m not sure she’s even heard of bagels, but we can be certain that the concept of a bright green one would only further complicate things. Equally, my grandfather would be turning in his grave at the thought of green beer. Guinness is good enough as it is.

This naturally green Leek and Potato Soup  is economical, quick, nourishing and most important of all, dye-free.

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What’s for Dinner?: Slow Cooked Chocolate and Pear Pudding

BY  |  Sunday, Feb 23, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

slowcookerpud

 

Courtesy of the continued presence of the polar vortex, this winter has been all about comfort food. Pounded by snow and icy chills, I have felt obliged to make—and let’s be honest, eat—more than usual.

In the service of delivering said comfort food, my slow cooker has been used a lot this year, cranking out simmering stews and satisfying soups. However, slow cooking and indulgence don’t usually go hand in hand but the moist, gentle environment of the slow cooker is just the place to steam a pudding hence this delicious recipe.

This Slow Cooked Chocolate and Pear Pudding is gooey and indulgent and against a backdrop of wintry misery, deeply satisfying. Featuring a syrup that seeps through the sponge to make a brownie-like concoction, once served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream it is the perfect antidote to the winter blues.

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The Sour Side of Sugar

BY  |  Saturday, Feb 15, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Sugar

A quick look at my shopping cart on a recent trip to the market shows that when it comes to food choices for my family and myself, I clearly have multiple personalities. The “angel” that I shop with convinces me to buy the kale again (“you won’t throw it out this time, I promise.”) while the “devil” throws the Oreos and instant hot cocoa in the cart with a wink (“just in case you get another snow day” he reasons.)

Recently I was watching an episode of the Katie Show and the topic was sugar and the effects of eating too much of it. Those who consume the most sugar are twice as likely to die from heart disease. I’ll admit it,  if I have one major food weakness, it’s sugar. I have more than a sweet tooth—I have a whole mouth full of teeth that love and crave sugar. While my daughters seem less obsessed with sugary treats, my son doesn’t consider a day complete without them.

The show discussed how food labels have a % daily value for things like fat, cholesterol and sodium. This way a consumer knows approximately how much of the daily value of this item they are consuming with each serving. But while the sugar amount is listed, the daily value % is not, and this is because experts are not sure how much sugar is really okay. It’s something I had never noticed before when reading nutrition facts on packages.

It turn out that a good guideline is 24 grams of sugar in 24 hours (meaning added sugar, not natural sugar in fruit, etc). That seems simple enough.

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What’s for Dinner?: Chinese Dumplings

BY  |  Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Chinese dumplings

My kids love baking. I love baking and we have had plenty of opportunities to bake together this winter as a fun way to fill the many snow days that have chillily blown in our direction. What’s not to like? The kids are occupied without being left in front of the TV, your home smells good enough to host an open-house, and there are delicious home-baked goods piled high on cake stands and cookie jars the length and breadth of the kitchen.

Alas, every sugary silver lining has a calorific black cloud hiding behind it: the whole point of delicious baked goods is that they have to be eaten and that is not good news when it comes to my waistline…

Luckily, the Chinese New Year inspired us to do something a little less baked and bulky and so our snow days this week were spent making dumplings. It kept the kids busy for ages, we had some great dinners and I got to freeze a batch and that will save us time another day.

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