Get my free, exclusive e-magazine, Drinks & Smoothies, by subscribing here! It’s full of enticing cocktails, smoothies and spritzer recipes plus my product recipes and serving tips.
This post on Thai Beef Salad includes affiliate links. See my disclosure agreement for more information.
Marinated flank steak gets a burst of flavor from authentic Thai flavors, sweet fruit and crunchy veggies. Arrange on a platter for an impressive, family-style situation that everyone will love.
Summer dinners are tricky. You want them to be filling, but light at the same time. This composed Thai beef salad hits both spot on. Plus I love composed salad (salads arranged on a platter) because they’re inviting and served family-style. No fussiness with individually portioned plates.
I marinated flank steak in garlic, ginger and lime juice to really give it some juicy appeal. I’ve called for cooking it in the broiler (it only cooks a few minutes, so the oven isn’t on long), but you can throw it on the grill as well. You do you.
The tender butter lettuce, sweet pineapple, tangy tomatoes and crunchy beans and cucumbers are the perfect salad combo to go with steak. Light and flavorful so nothing is overpowered.
The authentic dressing for the Thai beef salad is a blend of flavors including fish sauce (or nuoc nam). Thai and Vietnamese cooking use it abundantly, and I find a little goes a long way; but it’s imperative to authentic flavor. There’s nothing like it. It has depth
A cool trick I learned the other day about blanching beans: You can actually freeze fresh beans and when you’re ready to use them, pull them out, let them thaw and voila, blanched beans! Here’s the deal––freezing vegetables expands the liquid they naturally hold inside. The cell walls break down from the liquid expanding and freezing (very similar to what happens when veggies are cooked…the cell walls break down and the veggies soften), and the frozen veggies, when thawed are slightly more tender than when they were fresh.
This is the perfect trick to try on this salad! So if you’ve bought more beans than you can eat at Costco (often my issue), then just freeze them! Next time a recipe calls for blanching them, ignore it! Thaw those babies and you’re done. Tender, cold, crunchy beans at the ready.
Summer is the perfect time for fresh veggies and tender grilled meats. Other ideas for tasty summer foods that your family and guests might enjoy are my Mini Greek Pita patties with Greek Yogurt Sauce and my mom’s all-time favorite sandwich Sweet and Spicy Bacon Chicken Sandwich.
Arrange everything on a pretty platter for a stunning presentation.
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 4 tsp light brown sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 2-lb flank steak
- ½ lb green beans, trimmed
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1½ tsp fish sauce (nuoc nam)
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 head (4 cups) Bibb or Boston lettuce
- ¼ of a pineapple sliced into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup (5 oz) cherry tomatoes halved
- ⅓ of a seedless cucumber, sliced
- ¼ cup sliced scallions
- Stir together garlic, ginger, 3 tbsp lime juice, pepper flakes, 2 tsp sugar and salt. Pour over steak in an ovenproof dish, coating both sides. Marinate in refrigerator 20 min.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 min; immediately submerge in a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and set aside.
- For the dressing, whisk together 5 tbsp lime juice, soy sauce, 2 tsp sugar, fish sauce and oil. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- Heat broiler to high. Broil steak 6 inches from heat, turning once, 5 min per side. Remove from oven and let rest 5 min.
- Arrange lettuce leaves on a large platter with green beans, pineapple, tomatoes, cucumber and scallions. Slice steak across the grain and place on platter. Serve with dressing on the side.
Recipe by Tara Bench & Vanessa Seder
Originally published in LHJ April 2009
Photography Miki Duisterhof
Food Styling Jee Levin
Prop Stylist Pamela Duncan Silver
This post on chocolate pudding contains affiliate links. See my disclosure statement for more information.
Chocolate pudding is so comforting and evocative of childhood. And who doesn’t have a photo of themselves eating chocolate pudding by the handful as a baby? Instead of seeing it smeared in your hair, you will want every drop of this lovely home-made version sent right to your taste buds!
It’s chocolate pudding day. National chocolate pudding day if you will! And I love a good, homemade pudding, yes-sir-ee.
Take a moment if you will and imagine a spoonful of this magic hitting your tongue. Then come back to reality and take in the fact that it could be yours in less than 30 minutes. Yes!! Oh my goodness it’s easier than you think. A one pot dessert that might lead to expressions of love and immense gratitude from all those around you.
Listen, you’ve probably got all the ingredients in your cupboard (if you’re a baker like me). It’s just chocolate, sugar, milk, eggs, butter, a pinch of salt and some cornstarch. No fancy instructions, and a few stirs of the spoon.
Chocolate is of course the operative word here. This is no vanilla situation. It’s all lusciousness. Of course you could use chocolate chips to make this super easy. But they typically have additives to help solidify the shape and extra ingredients for various other reasons. I like the pure stuff for pudding. Oh baby this Scharffen Berger chocolate is to die for, and I love that it comes in chunks so it’s easy to melt (no chopping) and I can use any extra in my chocolate chip cookies!
This recipe comes from a collection of my friend Susan. Isn’t she the cutest thing stirring the pudding in this picture?
How delicious is chocolate pudding? It's so comforting and evocative of the past. This recipe really appealed to me because it calls for egg yolks-they give pudding a wonderfully rich texture. It's from an all-dessert collection I bought on eBay, which came in a beautiful wooden box with the name A.E. Peterson etched inside. The recipes date all the way back to 1932.
- 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 oz semisweet chocolate
- 2 cups milk
- 2 large egg yolks, beaten
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- In a medium saucepan combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, chocolate and milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until well combined and mixture has thickened, about 8 min. Reduce heat to medium low and whisk constantly until very thick and smooth, about 18 min.
- Stir a little of the pudding into yolks in a bowl, then add yolk mixture back to pan. Add butter and cook, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 2 min more
Recipe shared by Susan LaRosa
Photograph Seth Smoot
Food Styling Cyd Raftus McDowell
Originally published Ladies’ Home Journal March 2012
This Father’s Day guide contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure agreement for details.
Check out my Father’s Day Gift Guide for every kind of dad. Whether he’s an outdoorsman, a foodie father, or just a classy guy, I found the perfect gift ideas.
You’ve heard it said before, “My dad is the BEST dad in the world!” Perhaps you’ve even said it a time or two, and if I’m being totally honest, I believe my dad is the very best.
Every dad has unique qualities that make him worthy of that description. Those special, individual traits that set our fathers apart from one another, so shouldn’t the gifts that we give them match their personalities? I think so! Check out the following guide, help the kids pick out the perfect gift for dad, or get your own pop a thing or two.
The Outdoor Dad
Pack up the goods, the outdoorsy dad is ready for an adventure! Some dads spend time with their families at the movies or out to dinner, but not the outdoor dad! He loves gathering the family together on the mountainside and out in the fresh air.
Hiking Shoes for Dad and the Kids
Take a hike…in a good way, in these “Daddy and me” VERSATRAIL KEEN hiking shoes. These stylish and comfortable shoes come in big and small, matching sizes, so the whole family can be in on the adventure. See large selection on the Keen site.
Eco-Friendly Fish-Shaped Cutting Board
If dad likes to cook in wide open spaces, he needs a cutting board for the job. These Epicurean Camp Series Cutting Boards come in a fish shapes! How great is that? They also come in standard sizes, but the quality remains the same. Made from natural wood fiber, and heat-resistant up to 350ºF, they’re light, durable, eco-friendly and work just as good in the home as they do outdoors.
One Skillet, Full Meal
For dad, the campfire cooking doesn’t stop with the cutting board! He’ll need a skillet if he wants to whip up a fantastic meal under those blankets of stars. This Master Pan Non-Stick Divided Grill/Fry/Oven Skillet allows dad to make a full meal with just one pan. I mean, it only takes one propane burner for the skillet to grill up a hot meal? Amazing!
Good Lookin’ Board Shorts
Beach and pool trips are coming up now that the kids are out of school and Father’s Day is here. If dad needs a new suit, swim suit that is, check out this stylish pair from Target. The Mossimo Supply Co. swim trunks are crafted with a durable poplin weave and a touch of spandex for a great fit.
The Classy Dad
The classy dad values quality. He likes a nice thing or two. He loves those tech gadgets that keep him up to speed and on time. A nice shave kit and great pants are his thing. And maybe your classy dad even likes a cocktail/mocktail here and there.
Dad will look good in these Aviator Polarized Sunglasses no matter where he’s going. Classy or not dad’s lose sunglasses, or maybe he just needs a pair in every car, or mansion he owns. Either way you won’t go wrong with these stylish shades on Father’s Day.
Hanging Travel Bag
A shave kit that doesn’t have to sit on the wet sink! It hangs on the door knob, hook or towel rack, so no matter where dad goes he stays classy. This Perry Ellis travel bag is compact and looks cool and manly! Plus it’s on sale! Get it now!
Mix It Up All In One
Shake things up with the Tovolo 4-in-1 Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker. This cocktail shaker allows you juice, jig, strain and mix cocktails all with one shaker. Your dad will not only be impressed with the simplicity of the shaker, but he’ll also be excited to put it to good use!
A Little Down Time
A classy dad is ever the busy dad. Whether playing ball with the kids, or fixing the garage door, or repairing his little girl’s bike, he keeps it all going strong. Give him a little break with a Massage Envy Gift Card. Receive a free 30-minute upgrade and choice of a free Enhanced Therapy with $125 in gift card purchases – or get discounts on these items during this next week: Murad Shaving Essentials Set – $67 value, $50 – Whish Shaving Kit with reusable travel bag – $50 value, $25 – Spongelle Men’s Super Buffer, $14 value, $10.
The Foodie Father
The foodie father loves to spend time in the kitchen cooking up a masterpiece for his family to enjoy, so why not make his hobby a little bit more enjoyable?
The next steak that your dad makes will be the best one yet with help from the SteakChamp Ultimate Steak Thermometer. Any great grill master knows that the perfect steak takes time and patience, and this thermometer lets dad know exactly when the steak is done to perfection. LED lights guide the way and the probe reads heat along it’s entire length. Good stuff.
Dad will be obsessed with this Sphere Ice Maker from Tovolo. At least I am! He can make perfectly round, clear ice cubes with this awesome gadget. The insulated stand creates two ice spheres that won’t dilute drinks. Plus they look super cool and dad will get all the praise!
Decorate A Cake You Didn’t Have To Make
No fuss, with all the glory! Any dad will be grateful for a delicious ice cream cake. Did you know you can get an un-decorated Carvel Ice Cream Cake at the store, then decorate it yourself? What a great way to send your own message on Father’s Day and get the kids involved. Eat fast! It melts. GET IT at your local grocery store!
The Coolest Dish Ever
Take dad’s cooking game to a whole new level with the Le Creuset Dish with Platter. The multi-function design of the dish allows your dad to keep things simple and delicious around the grill by cutting out multiple dishes that hardly keep the food at the sizzling heat of deliciousness. Marinate meat in the dish and serve it on the cool platter included!
So Much More Than Ice Cream
I have to say I think this is a pretty cool kitchen appliance! It’s not just an ice cream maker. The new Cuisinart Fruit Scoop Dessert Maker churns fresh fruit into a frozen dessert. So if dad is on a health kick he’ll absolutely love it! The special mashing paddle gets the fruit perfectly smashed with no extra ingredients. No when his health kick is over…The machine makes regular ice cream and frozen yogurt like a dream!
The Tech Dad
Father’s who love technology are the most fun to shop for because they’re interested in the latest and greatest gadget. Sometimes shopping for the techy dad can be dangerous because you end up shopping for yourself after finding all the cool things there are out there.
Never Miss A Thing
Dad might lose his wallet or phone every once in a while (or maybe the kids just play tricks on him), but the techy TrackR Bravo helps him track it. Dad sends a request through his phone and the tracker rings on his keys. Dad’s phone goes missing? Well, this little device works on the opposite way too, and calls his phone to set off a ring, even if it’s on silent!
Keep It Together
His smart phone can do one more amazing thing – double as his wallet! Get dad this Card/ID Holder iphone Case and lighten his load. No more bulky wallet, it’s all in one place!
Dad On The Go
For a gadget guy on the go there’s nothing better than having all the right cords, cables and chargers. This portable, waterproof case keeps his cords and hard drive in one place. Easy to carry on, or keep at home. Velcro straps and pockets allow everything to stay separated and untangled. I want one! Forget Father’s Day, when is Single Girl’s Day?
Happy Shopping! And Happy Father’s Day!
Alfredo Veggie Stromboli made with grab-and-go grocery store staples is easy to put together, and even easier to eat for dinner – Delicious!
Frozen pizza dough is a miracle. I love it so much. I typically keep it around for “leftover night” dinner. I roll it out, add some sauce, pesto or something else, top it with chopped up whatever-is-in-the-fridge and cover it with cheese. It’s one of my freezer staples.
I decided to mix it up and make stromboli. It’s like pizza-stuffed bread! Your entire dinner is wrapped up in dough and baked to perfection. I loaded it with veggies for a meatless meal and used a seasoned cream cheese instead of sauce.
Prepping all the veggies can take some time, so I streamlined the process and bought pre-sliced mushrooms, already shredded cheese and canned artichokes so I didn’t have to thaw them. My favorite, frozen pizza dough, makes dinner come together in only a few minutes. Leave it in the oven for a while and serve. Everyone is happy.
The recipe makes two stromboli, so half it if you aren’t serving a crowd. It disappears pretty fast though, so you may want the full recipe. Alfredo Veggie Stromboli for the win!
I love the tangy flavor from the sun-dried tomatoes and the herby cream cheese. The cream cheese mixed with melty shredded cheese makes the most perfect alfredo sauce once baked together in the oven.
I used canned artichokes because they are processed with water. The jarred type is marinated in oil and seasoning and I find them too salty and overpowering.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 8-oz container sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup canned or frozen, thawed, artichoke hearts
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 7-oz pkg (1¾ cups) low-sodium shredded mozzarella
- 1 2-lb pkg frozen pizza dough, thawed
- Flour for work surface
- ½ cup (5 oz) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until golden, 6 to 8 mi; remove from heat. Pat artichoke hearts dry with paper towels and coarsely chop. Combine mushrooms, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and shredded cheese; set aside.
- Heat oven to 400°F with rack in the upper third. Working with half the dough at a time, roll into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Mix together the cream cheese and Italian seasoning. Spread half the cream cheese mixture on dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle with half the mushroom mixture.
- Fold dough over filling and pinch to seal the seam and ends. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough and ingredients. Cut a few deep vents in the top of each roll and bake for 30 min; tent loosely with foil, then bake until cooked through, 10 min more.
Get everyone to the table in a flash with more easy dinners like my Shriveled Ogre Nose Pizza. It uses frozen pizza dough too, and is topped with roasted veggies and ricotta. Whip up Corn Chorizo Tacos in a flash for a Mexican-inspired night. Happy cooking!
Crunchy Chicken Noodle Salad with juicy oranges, radishes and snow peas makes eating salad your new favorite thing!
By adding some crunchy ramen noodles to this Asian-inspired salad, you get a more filling, fun meal. There are a few recipes for ramen noodle salads out there, using different dressings and flavors. I love fresh veggies and cabbage with sesame dressings. That Asian flavor isn’t overpowering like an Italian vinaigrette, and I usually have the ingredients for it in my pantry. I used my Ginger Sesame Dressing on this version.
I saved us all about ten steps by calling for coleslaw mix! You’re welcome. This Crunchy Chicken Noodle Salad comes together in a flash with pantry staples like ramen and salad mix. I added chopped cashews for extra yum.
I call for letting the salad rest in the fridge for a bit. This allows the dressing to soften the noodles a little. They are just a little too crunchy without resting. I used a mandolin to slice my radishes so thin. You can just slice with a knife if you like, or even just cut them into slivers.
To cut the orange I supremed it. That means I cut the fruit away from the membrane. Simply cut the rind off of the entire orange and cut on either side of each slice of orange, slipping it right out. I then just cut the slices into bite-sized pieces.
You can substitute a can of mandarin oranges for the orange and try any kind of nut in place of cashews.
- 1 pkg ramen noodles (discard flavor packet)
- 1½ cups diced cooked chicken
- 6 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 orange, peeled and diced
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 5 oz (1 cup) snow peas, chopped
- ½ cup coarsely chopped unsalted cashews
- 1 16-oz pkg coleslaw mix
- ¾ cup sesame ginger dressing Ginger Sesame Dressing
- Break uncooked ramen into small pieces in a large bowl. Combine with chicken, radishes, orange, scallion, snow peas, cashews and coleslaw.
- Toss salad with dressing, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 25 min or up to 1 hr. Noodles will get softer the longer they sit.
Right now I’m on a salad diet! I went on a trip and ate too too much! So…salad for me. But I have lots of great recipes, so if you’re in the same boat, or just love fresh dinners for summer, try The New Wedge Salad, with iceberg lettuce, beets, pancetta, hazelnuts and of course blue cheese. Chicken and Rice Lettuce Wraps are kind of a salad you can eat in your hand! I made a flavorful rice salad and you wrap your own portion in soft butter lettuce leaves. Enjoy!
The kids will have a ball creating their own Meatball Funny Face Snacks with dips, olives and cheese. And who says I can’t get in on the fun!?
What face will the kids have when they walk in that door today? Let them express themselves with food! Meatballs that is. Just heat them right out of the freezer and have dips, olives, string cheese and American cheese slices at the ready for creating these fun faces, before digging in.
No recipe needed with these snacks. They’re so easy. They aren’t just for after school either; let the kids get creative at birthday parties or sleepovers. It’s a fun way to serve a filling protein to little bellies.
Meatballs are great with marinara, pesto and other dips too, so don’t hold back and make a funny face with whatever you’ve got. Serve these with toothpicks so little hands can feed themselves. Get more fast and easy snack hacks and dinner ideas at FarmRich.com.
Looking for kid-friendly food you can make and enjoy too? Try my Squashed Brownies, packed with healthy squash but rich in chocolate fudginess! Or Mini Greek Pita Patties with Greek Yogurt Sauce. Everyone gets their own mini slider and it’s the perfect size for little hands.
Creative idea and photography by Susan Vajaranant at TaraTeaspoon.com
Courtesy of FarmRich.com
This post may include affiliate links or sponsored content. For more information please see my disclosure agreement.
Cake pops that get their colorful toppers right from the pantry! Dried fruits, nuts and cookies make beautiful and tasty decorations for this classic treat.
The gooey, soft centers of cake pops are irresistible! Pretty sure that’s why they are ever-so-popular. They’re pretty fun to make (crumbling up a perfectly good cake into tiny crumbs and mashing it together with frosting!). They’re also very fun to decorate.
This variation is not claiming to be healthy because of fruit and nuts. But my goodness they make for pretty decorations. I love the pop apricots and cranberries make on the white and brown chocolates. I chopped the dried fruits into tiny little pieces to they look like little jewels on the cake pops.
Any nuts or seeds will do, but the green pepitas are the cutest; and white speckles of coconut are quite tasty. I don’t need to tell you crushed cookies are a great topper. You know that!
You'll be the coolest mom in your kid's class when you show up with cake pops.
- 1 boxed cake mix
- 1¾ cup prepared frosting
- White-chocolate candy melts
- Milk-chocolate candy melts
- Chopped nuts
- Dried Fruit
- Lollipop sticks
- Prepare and bake cake mix and let cool. Grind the cake with your hands or in a food processor to form very fine crumbs.
- Mix the crumbs with 1¾ cups prepared frosting in a bowl until it forms a sticky dough. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and freeze for 15 min.
- Dip lollipop sticks in melted chocolate and stick each one into a cake ball. Freeze 20 min more. Dip the pops in melted candy melts and decorate with chopped nuts, dried fruit or sprinkles.
Get your snack on with these ingenious and delicious bites using frozen mozzarella sticks.
Rock and roll with these Mozzarella Stick Cordon Bleu Bites from The Frugal Fairy. Roll, eat. Roll, eat. My kind of snack!
Fried Mozzarella Caprese Bites are calling my name. So loud! Can you hear them too? Oh thank you Easy Peasy Mealz for sharing such a loud and delicious snack!
Just for the record I will not complain if you make this Mozzarella Stick Grilled Cheese Sandwich for me. Ever. And if you have some tomato soup to go along with it I might even hug you. Fair warning.
Bacon Fried Mozzarella Sticks are two-ingredient gifts from heaven. Try them here. Then check out 101 Ways To Love Bacon for more heaven-sent genius.
Thank you Brown Sugar for this snack gift. Oh the spicy, blue cheesy, mozzarella gooeyness that makes my mouth water! Buffalo Cheese Sticks are to die for.
Thank you to FarmRich for the most delicious Mozzarella Sticks
This post includes sponsor links. For more information please see my disclosure agreement.
Valentine’s Day is on Sunday! Whew that’s soon. You still have all week for kids boxes, gifts, decor and treats.
Valentine’s Day sneaks up on us in the middle of a quiet winter month. But if you forget about it well, you’re in big trouble. If you’ve let something slip your mind this V-Day, don’t worry, because I’ve got your back with these 9 Valentine’s Hacks that cover all your bases.
Even if you’re late to the game on the Valentine’s Day décor, the good news is the entire month of February is dedicated to love. My friend Liz used to live in New York, and she posted this cute 10-minute vellum heart garland on her blog, Say Yes. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any vellum on hand, you could use construction paper, yardstick, or even regular paper for a cute and simple look.
I love the idea of a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Subscription boxes are all the rage right now, and the actress, Sarah Michelle Gellar, has developed the cutest subscription baking kits at Foodstirs. Each one is themed, and you can order a single kit, or a kit every month for a year. They are guaranteed to be crowd pleasers with your little chefs.
Four ingredients and five minutes, need I say more? Ok, I will, but only because this homemade vanilla sugar scrub from I Heart Naptime is such a fabulous idea. A homemade gift from the heart will surely make anyone feel special, and no one needs to know how easy it is to make.
Forget about complicated shoe box and construction paper menageries. This year, you can simplify your kid’s Valentine box with this cute hot air balloon. All you need is a helium balloon and a basket of some sort, and your kids will be ready for any delivery that comes their way.
Teens, tweens, elementary school kids, or even text-happy adults will flip out at these creative DIY Valentine. Housing a Forest has the full tutorial, but you can really let your imagination run wild as you create these.
Oh I heart bacon. I really do! The Paper Mama might just be the smartest woman in the world, because—bacon hearts! Nothing says “I Love You” better than the sizzling sounds of bacon. The simple and smart heart shape is just an added bonus.
Fancy up a simple green salad with heart shaped tomatoes and carrots. Amy from The Idea Room has the simple tutorial for this salad of love.
My friend Jodi from my Martha Stewart days is a creative crafter extraordinaire. She and I would work on food craft projects together and she always had the most fun ideas. She has her own food craft book, and she recently shared this cute idea for a V-Day heart treat. It’s really a triple threat: a treat, décor, and it uses up leftover Christmas candy.
I didn’t forget about date night! Sure, you could make reservations and go the traditional route with the crowds, or be with your love at home. Stick with the Ultimate Romantic Dinner Date Brit+Co outlines, and you’ll finish off Valentine’s Day looking like a champion.
What are some of your favorite Valentine hacks?
Produced by Melanie Donahoo
More days than not there are nachos in my house. For parties, game days (read Super Bowl), movie night and the like I need a lot of nachos! Layer your fixings and bake them in the oven for Nachos For A Crowd.
When I entertain at home I take a step away from the brain-work of major creativity (I cook for a living) and stick to things that are easy, crowd-pleasing and fun. For the Super Bowl, I’m making nachos with all the fixings. Along with some drinks and my chocolate chip cookies, I’m going to be totally set. See this recipe on KSL.com where it was originally published.
I make my Nachos For A Crowd in the oven. No melting cheese sauces and cleaning up drippy messes and no heating small batches of chips and cheese in the microwave. Depending on the party I’m having, I’ll add beans or shredded meat, and I have sour cream, salsas and guacamole in bowls for people to add to their plates.
Make nachos for everyone all at once by cooking them on a baking sheet. I line it with foil (for easy cleanup), and layer the goodness of chips, cheese and other tasty additions, then bake for about 10 minutes.
The cheese is key, and I like a variety. Mixing cheeses gives depth of flavor and texture. Some cheese melts silky smooth, some get a bit chewy and others are crumbly and salty delicious like Cotija.
My favorite is a Monterey Jack of course, and then you have his brother Pepper Jack to add spice. A little mild or sharp cheddar adds classic flavor and even pieces of Velveeta gives a silky melt on top of the crunchy chips. I love a good carnitas nacho (braised pork), shredded steak or chicken as well. Adding meat makes the nachos more substantial, closer to a meal, if you eat enough like I usually do.
Check my list below for any extras you can add and layer, layer, layer. It’s an oven-nacho trick. One layer of chips, cheese, toppings, covered by another layer and sometimes even a third. The even heat from the oven melts all the cheese and heats everything perfectly. Serve with tongs so guests can grab an entire serving at once.
Nachos For A Crowd checklist:
Monterey Jack is perfect for melting. Pepper Jack adds great spice. Crumble Cotija or other Mexican cheese on top when the nachos come out of the oven.
Layers of Good
Two or three layers of chips, cheeses and toppings are perfect in the even heat of the oven.
Meat the Merrier
Add braised pulled pork for carnitas nachos, or shredded chicken or beef for a more hearty snack.
Additions like canned beans, white onions, pickled jalapeños, fresh tomatoes and sweet peppers are added in layers with the cheese and cooked along with the chips.
It All Adds Up
Have bowls of these add-ons for guests to try on their servings: sour cream, cilantro, sliced scallions, olives, guacamole, salsa and hot sauce.
Crunchy chips with loads of toppings for hungry party-goers are easy to make when you do it in the oven.
- 2 11-oz bags tortilla chips
- 5 cups shredded cheese
- 1 can drained black beans
- ½ cup chopped white onion
- ½ cup pickled jalapeños
- Toppings such as cilantro, scallions and olives
- Serve with sour cream, guacamole and salsa
- Heat oven to 350 F. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with foil. Arrange half of the chips on pans and top with some cheeses, beans, onion, and jalapeño. Repeat layers for two to three layers total. (These can be assembled up to one hour before baking.)
- Working with one sheet at a time, bake until cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro, scallions and olives if desired and serve with desired toppings. Heat a second pan as the first for fresh, hot nachos.
Apple Cream Cheese-Stuffed French Toast could be this weekend’s highlight!
Here on the East Coast we are preparing for a Nor’easter. One of those big storms that bring snow or rain and wind, and ocean waves crashing onto the coast, Philly and DC.
I’ve been part of some doozies! One of my favorite things to do when the snow hits is to strap on my boots and wander the middle of the streets of New York City. You can walk down the middle of the snow-covered streets that are usually crammed with cars and buses. For a few hours the city is quiet and peaceful.
Needless to say, the impending moment of peace is preceded by mass hysteria. Seriously. New Yorkers know how to panic (and then thankfully they know how to cope). The store shelves are already empty. I doubt there’s a water bottle or loaf of bread to be had. But I’m going to go find one, and some apples, and some cream cheese. This French toast is perfect for staying in and waiting out the storm.
This recipe is inspired by fancy New York brunches, like the ones you eat at Norma’s or Sarabeth’s. (Wait…why are some of the most delicious brunch places named after ladies? Ladies rock!) The French toast, pancakes and omelets are always over the top delicious.
I’ve made it simple enough to make at home. Some stewed, sliced apples, spiced cream cheese and maple syrup. Brioche bread makes it extra indulgent but you can use your favorite bread, no problem. Even better, the fresh-squeezed orange juice won’t cost you $9. Nine dollars!!! New York is sometimes crazy. Sometimes.
Besides being a delicious dessert, this scrumptious dish makes a great weekend breakfast.
- 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
- 4 tbsp confectioners' sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 5 baking apples (about 2¼ lb), peeled, cored and cut into ⅛- to ¼-inch thick slices
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1-lb loaf brioche or soft French bread, cut into eight ¾ -inch-thick slices
- ½ cup chopped toasted pecans, plus more for garnish
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon and the ginger until combined well. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss together apples, granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. In a large nonstick skillet, melt 4 tbsp butter over high heat. Add apple mixture and cook stirring occasionally until just softened, about 8 min. Remove from heat.
- In a 13- by 9-inch shallow dish, whisk together milk, eggs and remaining ½ tsp cinnamon, set aside.
- Spread a heaping ¼ cup cream cheese mixture onto each of 4 bread slices. Top each with 1 tbsp nuts and 6 to 8 apple slices. Cover with remaining 4 bread slices to make sandwiches.
- Soak 2 sandwiches at a time in the milk-egg mixture 5 min per side.
- Add maple syrup to remaining apples in skillet and stir to combine.
- Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter to pan. Add 2 sandwiches and cook, turning once, until golden brown. 6 to 8 min. Repeat with remaining 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp butter and the sandwiches.
- Cut sandwiches in half and serve immediately topped with apples in syrup. Garnish with toasted nuts, if desired.
If you are going to make Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs, I ask of you one thing: just brush up on your squash knowledge, please!
Let me tell you why I say that. The grocery store I go to in the city is first, awesome (my opinion), second, totally bustling, packed and crazy. So, even the produce isle is sometimes like a Broccoli-Scallion Circus.
The other day I was minding my own business and weaving in and out of store workers and shoppers, checking things off my list. One store worker came up to another, reached for the fennel and asked “this is spaghetti squash?”
Clearly someone had asked for it and he was headed to grab it for them. I couldn’t help it–my inner New Yorker came out and my brow furrowed and I blurted out “That’s fennel!” I quickly realized that part of my New York personality is never really helpful, so I nicely explained that spaghetti squash is smooth-skinned, the size of a football, bright yellow and is probably over by the butternut squash. I pointed. I did. I pointed the produce guy to HIS produce! I’m terrible.
But…what is this world coming to?
Friends, this is what spaghetti squash looks like.
Cooking tips: I suggest you cook the squash in the microwave for a few minutes to soften the skin. This makes it much easier to cut it in half. Then simply scrape the seeds out, season and cook. This trick works for any hard, tough-skinned squash.
These meatballs are tender, flavorful and mini! I love making them ahead, even a double batch, and keeping them in the freezer. Meatballs take a little chopping and mixing, so I typically double the recipe whenever I make them. They’re so easy to freeze and use several weeks later for a different meal. Saving time left and right.
- 1 3½- 4-lb spaghetti squash
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ recipe Mini Meatballs (recipe to follow)
- 3½ cups jarred marinara sauce
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ½ cup (2 oz) shredded Parmesan
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 medium onion, minced (1 cup)
- ½ red bell pepper, minced (½ cup)
- ¼ cup milk
- 3 tbsp plain dry bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
- ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
- Microwave whole squash on High 5 minutes to soften. When just cool enough to handle, cut lengthwise in half and scoop out seeds. Place, cut side down in a shallow microwave-safe dish and microwave on High until flesh is completely softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Using a fork, pull squash from skin in long strands; set aside.
- While squash is cooling, heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add meatballs and turn to coat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a saucepan and add sauce (reserve skillet); cook over medium-low heat until heated through about 2 minutes.
- Wipe skillet clean, add remaining 1 tbsp oil and heat over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Toss in squash and sauce and cook 2 minutes; add salt and pepper to taste.
- On a serving platter, mound squash, top with meatballs and sauce, then sprinkle with parsley and cheese.
- Meatballs Instructions
- In a large bowl, using hands, mix together all ingredients until combined well. Using 1 tbsp mixture for each, roll into balls. (Can be made ahead: Transfer to a baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Divide between two heavy-duty resealable plastic bags, seal and freeze up to 3 weeks. Let stand at room temperature 10 min before cooking.)
Recipe and Food Styling Tara Bench
Photography Amy Kalyn Sims
Prop Styling Barb Fritz
Originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal January 2008
I love Thai food and flavors. When I was traveling in Thailand, the broths and soups were so delicious I just wanted to drink them, forget the spoon!
With all the many great jarred curry pastes available (typically in the Asian section of your grocery store) these glorious Thai soups are a cinch. This Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup recipe has got to be the easiest one you’ll ever make. It tastes like that warming bowl of coconut and curry broth from your favorite Thai restaurant. It’s also low-fat, low-calorie, and high in protein. A great dinner for DETOX month, after the holidays.
I was a picky kid, and often had to eat around things I didn’t like. I’m still not a fan of certain foods and my heart goes out for kids all over who may be sitting in front of a bowl of shrimp soup, and can’t stomach shrimp! My mom might disagree, after all she is “not a short-order cook” as she liked to remind me; but I am fine if every once in a while you throw your kid a bone and adjust a recipe so they can enjoy it! LOL! I offered a kid-ifying option for my Chicken Tomato Bisque as well.
I swap the shrimp for chicken or tofu for a change (and to kid-ify this recipe if you need to). Both options cook in just a few minutes and keep this soup prep to under 30 minutes.
LOW FAT SOUP SECRETS
If you’re on a soup kick but want to keep the calories in check, take into consideration some of these low-fat soup secrets!
•For creamy soups, replace heavy cream with whole or evaporated milk.
•Try using smashed white beans or mashed potatoes instead of butter and flour as thickeners.
•Choose lean cuts of meat; try turkey bacon or chicken sausage.
•If you need more moisture when you’re cooking vegetables, add fat-free broth in place of butter or oil.
•Use canned low-sodium broth instead of water to add flavor to soup that doesn’t have a lot of time to simmer and cook.
Never tried Thai cooking? This mildly spicy dish will turn you into a huge fan.
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 14-oz can unsweetened light coconut milk
- 1 tsp red curry paste
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (nahum plah)
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup (4 oz) green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3/4 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Lime wedges
- Cilantro for garnish
- In a medium pot over medium-high heat, combine chicken broth, coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, ginger, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Add green beans and cook 2 min. Add shrimp and cook until pink, 5 min. Top soup with scallions and serve with lime.
If you'd like you can swap the shrimp for thinly sliced chicken breast or even diced tofu. To make it completely pescatarian (not vegetarian because of the fish sauce) use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth.
Recipe by Tara Bench
Originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal Feb 2009
Photography: Sang An
Prop Stylist: Tiziana Agnello
Food Stylist: Jee Levin
Beef and squash stew in the slow cooker is just what you need for the winter weekend. This healthful, low-fat and veggie-packed dinner is also great for detoxing after the holidays.
I wanted a stew loaded with vegetables. I often feel like with just beef stew you have to make a separate salad or vegetable side to make a complete meal. This beautiful and tasty dish is basically a one pan meal! Also, did I just say a slow cooker recipe was beautiful?? HA! It totally is!
I used thin slices of butternut squash for the top of the stew. To thinly slice the squash for the top use a mandolin or slicer. The slices don’t have to be perfect. Just arranged in an overlapping pattern they braise to be tender and act as a beautiful “crust”.
The fennel and squash add a slight sweetness to this dish, but also makes it healthy and hearty. I added tomatoes for richness and a little tangy acidity with the tender beef and sweet veggies. This dinner is family friendly but also diet friendly!
Layers of healthy butternut squash on top make this dish extra good.
- 2¼ tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- ¾ tsp ground black pepper
- 5 tbsp cornstarch
- 1½ lbs lean boneless beef chuck or round roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium fennel bulb, cut into ½-inch wedges
- ¾ lb Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, drained and halved
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced ⅛ inch thick
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Combine thyme, salt and pepper; reserve 1 tsp of the mixture and stir cornstarch into the remainder. Toss the beef, fennel and potato in the cornstarch mixture and place in a 6-qt slow cooker, fitting the ingredients tightly; add tomatoes
- Toss squash with oil and 1 tsp of the thyme mixture. Arrange the smaller pieces of squash on top of stew in a circular patter, then repeat with the larger rounds to create a second layer; cover and cook 4½ hr on high or 8 hr on low.
Recipe by Tara Bench and Khalil Hymore
Photographer: Peter Ardito
Food Stylist: Susan Ottaviano
Prop Stylist: Michelle Wong
Originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal February 2011