Month: February 2019

Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup for Lunch

Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup for Lunch

A stocked pantry is something like a gold mine when you’re hungry and you have no idea what’s for lunch. A peek into one big drawer of mine includes several kinds of dried beans, at least 5 kinds of rice, bulgar, barley, polenta, oats, couscous, farro, quinoa, a variety of dried fruits, and usually a couple of kinds of lentils. (A big bank account makes a lot of people feel secure, but I’m rich when my cabinets are full.) When I have no idea what’s to eat, lentils are my go-to. They’re easy, fast, filling, healthy as can be (see below), pair with nearly anything and in many a direction, and they’re even pretty darned inexpensive.

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Crispy Duck Breasts on Parsnip Purée with Spicy Cherry Sauce–Date Night

Crispy Duck Breasts on Parsnip Purée with Spicy Cherry Sauce–Date Night

Cooking in your own kitchen for date night has this wondrous side result: you get to eat at home. There are no ever-louder-as-they-drink-more folks at the table next door and your comfy jeans are fine to wear all night long.

The love of my life, my fave sous chef in our kitchen.

The wine glasses happen to be the ones you like best, maybe purchased at an estate sale or while on a trip, or even inherited from your great-aunt. Music? Whatever you like, not what the restaurant manager thinks will best go over to all age groups. Hey–you also get to set the table or ask your partner or guest to do the honors while you stir up a little dinner.

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Whipped Cream-Filled Brownie Cupcakes

Whipped Cream-Filled Brownie Cupcakes

For as long as I’ve had my own kitchen, I’ve been making scratch brownies out of the 1971 BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK. People say things like this, “That’s the best brownie I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.” And you know why? It’s not because I’m the best brownie baker or Betty’s the top of the recipe developers, it’s because most folks are used to boxed mix brownies made with cocoa instead of luscious whole bars of melted chocolate. You know, brownies are nothing but fudge on steroids. Think of them as fudge with flour… and eggs… … and sometimes a little leavening. But unless you make scratch brownies, you don’t know that.

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Dijon Mustard Beef-Barley Stew with Horseradish for Valentine’s Day

Dijon Mustard Beef-Barley Stew with Horseradish for Valentine’s Day

There’s little to recommend a restaurant--any restaurant–on Valentine’s Day. There are exceptions, but often the specials are lackluster, the kitchen is slammed, the servers are exhausted by 7, the other diners are trying to pack a year’s worth of romance into one night (doesn’t work), and the prices are jacked up like the red roses at the florist. Instead, cook at home that night. And, while you’re at it, think about an IOU for the roses when they’re not $75 a dozen. Some quiet unknown evening in April or May, just pop in with them and call that good sense.

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