Category Archives: Quick and Delicious

Real Simple + One Pot = Happy Momma

Soooooo, I know I’ve said it here before and it’s pretty good odds that I will say it again but, being a parent is all at once terrifying/exhilarating/exhausting/priceless. One area where I’ve noticed a big difference is dinner. By the time we get her home, fed, bathed, rocked and put to sleep it doesn’t end there. While David is folding laundry, I’m taking out the trash, cleaning the cat litter boxes, putting up dishes and wiping toddler food crust off my new work shirt, I’m practically drooling looking at my menu plan and what I have to make for the night. I have learned to plan ahead and let me just say, my days of a chicken a la something on a bed of wilted something or other with a foam of blibbity blob is loooong gone. Enter the days of dishes I can braise or roast, half prep in the morning or are super quick or no cook. And I’ll take it if it means more time with her and David as I know these moments are going to whiz by and I can get back to my gourmet meals while fretting about my daughter in college. It will be here before we know it.

Enter these fantastic dishes from Real Simple magazine in a section called One Pot Wonders and wonderful they were. We tried three out of the five and all of them were delicious, once again in order of favorites:

Chunky Italian Vegetable Stew: this was super fast and DELICIOUS. For something so quick and easy, the depth of flavors were insane. The leftovers were even better the next day.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Almonds and Raisins: the Moroccan infused ingredients in this were killer, from the turmeric to the ginger and crunchy almonds everything was just perfect. And y’all, it’s braised chicken thighs, come on.

Loaded Bacon-Potato Soup with Cheddar and Chives: You would think with a name like that this would be first on my list. Don’t get me wrong, this was good but I think I’ve made too many Baked Potato style soups in the past that just can’t be trumped. Do give this one a try as it was easy, breezy and perfect for any baked potato lover in the house.

Chunky Italian Vegetable Stew from Real Simple
Chunky Italian Vegetable Stew from Real Simple

Cremini Mushroom Meat Loaf

I can’t help myself, but every time I type the word meat loaf, I think of that song that was SO popular in the 90s, “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” Remember how EPIC this video was? WOW. It’s so bad looking at it now. Did you know the video was directed by Michael Bay? I’m not surprised one bit.

Well, I can tell you that I would do just about anything for this Cremini Mushroom Meat Loaf recipe from Cooking Light. YUMMEH! The cremini mushrooms all blended up with the sautéed onions and thyme made the perfect moist meatloaf with that certain  je ne sais quois (insert my poor French accent here) to it. The Cauliflower Mash was just as excellent and the perfect complement to the meatloaf. I roasted some Brussels sprouts in some extra virgin olive oil and dinner was done.



This meat loaf recipe is going down as my second favorite meat loaf recipe of all time and number one if you are looking at traditional recipes of this classic dish. This one from Bon Appetit is still the all time favorite in my book. Either way, make this when it gets cold and rainy outside – you’ll thank me later!

Guess Who’s Back?

Oh no pandas! It’s been two months since my last post. Yoikes! While I have been doing some serious Cooking Inside the Lines my poor little blog has suffered at the hands of new and good things from a new gig (at Wellington Group – love those ladies over there!) and of course, our awesome kiddo Lila who is now one. One! Can you believe it? I have to admit I was crying like a big old baby when we sang her happy birthday. Who knew you could feel such sweeping emotion of happiness and being totally overwhelmed in the span of two minutes. Parents, you’re feeling me right?

So, let’s get to some of the great dishes we’ve had in the past few months. I will admit, there was a two week span where everything I made was meh and since “meh” just won’t cut it, I will not share here. I will say David and I were praising the recipe gods because the drought of just ho hum dishes was starting to feel like a curse upon our house.

Oddly enough, my first recipe comes from BuzzFeed (Really???!!!) for the hands down best way to roast a chicken by the one and only Chef Thomas Keller (I feel like I should put “bow down” between Thomas and Keller every time I type his name). Now, I’ve roasted some chickens in my day because, as the hubs knows, it’s one of my favorite things to make…ever. So when I saw “How To Make The Best Roast Chicken Of All Time” roll-up in my Facebook feed I gave a look to the computer screen and said “BRING IT!” (that might be a bit over exaggerated. Who me?). Well, they brought it and all that was left were some chicken bones and empty plates. This was simple, delicious and perfect. Heck, use the best way to cook a steak post and you will have your chicken and steak bases covered for forever. Seriously though, I do think I will use this method until the sun explodes. Loved it.

Photo from Buzzfeed


Moving on!

This Gardener’s Pie from Cooking Light was fantastic to the max. It was so good that I made it on a Monday night and David requested it for the next week’s lineup to try it again. And yes, it was still fantastic to the max. It’s creamy, ooey, gooey with delicious roasted vegetables that are all cooked and season juuuuust right. Make this. Inhale your dinner. Inhale the leftovers. Repeat.

Finally, a super fast and family friendly meal was this Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks with Cilantro Shallot Relish from Food & Wine. We only had six thighs so the cooking time was a lot less than 45 minutes and we had just enough time to make the Cilantro Shallot Relish, heat up some Naan and boom, dinner was done. I did have some Greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice and Garam Masala and we found ourselves mixing the greek yogurt blend and cilantro shallot relish together and dipping our warm, delicious (store bought as I’m not making that from scratch) Naan. Yumm. The chicken was super, duper moist and had just enough oomph from the spice blend without being too overpowering (I mean it looks like it could have that potential right?). Oooh man, I will make this again.

Photo from Food & Wine Magazine
Photo from Food & Wine Magazine

I promise to not be away for this long again – seriously!  Love to you all and have a wonderful holiday season and break…ahhhh, a break. Can’t wait to spend it with our amazing family and friends.

Bananas Good Banana Bread


Banana Bread with Chocolate Glaze
Banana Bread with Chocolate Glaze (Photo from

As I was typing the title to this post all I could think about was that damn catchy Gwen Stefani song, “this sh*t is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s” and now it’s going to stick with me all day long. Kind of like this AWESOME Banana Bread with Chocolate Glaze from Cooking Light.

I’m amazed that I’ve never made this as it’s been a heavy reader and staff favorite for 17 years. 17 years ago it made its debut and is still going strong. Most marriages don’t last that long! All I know is that I will be making it for 17+ years myself because not only was it about the quickest bread I’ve ever put together, it’s insanely delicious and moist…hold on, I’m grabbing another slice…my goodness, this is so good. If you have ripe bananas, I highly recommend making this right now. I think this is one dish I will always have in my house for the entire fall season! Happy first day of fall!


Tomato Ricotta Tart

It’s no secret that I loathe ricotta cheese. Seriously, give me a gallon of gasoline and a match and I will torch a batch at a time. So why, oh why, did I choose to make this Tomato Ricotta Tart from Cooking Light that has 3/4 cup of the yucky stuff in it? Because I’m a ricotta martyr? Because I’m a glutton for punishment? Because I like to prove myself wrong? Ding, ding, ding!

I was proved very wrong indeed lambs and I’m grateful that I tried this because we out-of-this world loved this dish. The crust was perfect, a little crumbly but in a good way and the tomatoes with the ricotta filling were so perfectly balanced, we were slap your knee happy. Also, it was so easy to put together and with a simple spinach side salad, dinner was done in no time. As an added bonus, we ate the leftovers for the next two days for breakfast. I told David the next time we hosted a brunch I was going to be make sure this stunner was at the table. Yum!

Photo by Becky Luigart Stayner


The Salad Only Married (Or Extremely Close) Couples Should Eat


Heed my advice on this one pandas, this salad is covered with cilantro, three types of beans, and grilled onions and jalapeños. Mmmhmmm. Not really the first date type of salad or heck, even the 15th but after almost two years of marriage and a kiddo – who cares! It’s damn good!

This Pinto, Black and Red Bean Salad with Grilled Corn and Avocado was insanely yummy and super simple to put together. It doesn’t even have a dressing! The fresh lime juice was just perfect with the almost caramelized onions, spicy jalapeños, sweet corn and buttery avocados. I have to say our veggie only week is going splendidly so far!

Tonight I’m making a watermelon and cucumber salad and yes, a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin – it’s just a little bit of meat, I promise! Stay tuned…

The Absolute, Hands Down, Best Way to Cook a Steak…

Sooooo, I’m a red meat lover, big time. I recall when I use to travel a lot for work, the one thing I wanted when I got off the plane was a big, juicy steak, well, and a glass of wine (or two). I’ve tried cooking steak every which way you can imagine – on the grill; on a myriad of pans on the stove or in the oven; broiling, blah, blah, blah, blah, and it never seemed to really get it just right. A few years ago we went for a blogger tour of Ruth Chris’ Steak House and THAT was a perfect steak. We kept searching for a similar method of how they cook their steaks until one night my husband came across this brilliant one from the oh-so-loved Sir Alton Brown. Yes, I Sir’ed him because if this man was British he would be knighted for his contributions to the food community.

What I love about this method, is that while it works beautifully on a big ol’ ribeye, it can work on just about any cut of steak. You get a nice crisp sear and a perfectly cooked interior. If you want a little more well done, just up to cooking times on each side and in the oven to get it to your desired degree of doneness. We actually have tossed out all other methods since this one nails it every time. Fair warning though, turn off your smoke detector for the duration of cooking because there will be some smoke from you oven with it being that high in temperature. Trust me, you won’t mind once you’ve taken one bite of your perfectly cooked steak. Wow, I really want a steak right now, who’s with me?

Sweet Potato and Cheese Gratin

Sweet potato

So, we’ve had a tumultuous past few weeks with my husband and I both attacked by RSV/sinus infections but even way worse, our little one was admitted to the hospital for an infection. Hospitals are never fun, but watching your four-month old being set-up with an IV and poked and prodded made me an absolute basket case. Thankfully, we are all home and on the mend but oy lambs. I’m hoping for a lot of normal (whatever that means right?), for the next few months after this little sickness dance we’ve been doing.

With said sinus infection, I couldn’t taste or smell a thing. I kept telling David this should be the time that I just eat kale at every meal since I can’t tell the difference one way or another. Today, I finally got back some of my lost senses and actually could taste the dinner I made! Now, you might be taking this review with a grain of salt considering I haven’t tasted my food in four days and therefore cat food might actually taste good, but fear not y’all, I can tell you that this Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Gratin was all that and then some.

This was an absolutely satisfying vegetarian dish and perfect for all the sickness going around. Did you know a sweet potato has more Vitamin C than an orange? Perfect timing! There were two changes I made to this. First, I had some fresh thyme on hand and included it in the milk/cheese mixture and placed some on top after baking and second, I used panko bread crumbs since I forgot to pick some up the store and I was not packing up the baby and all that jazz for breadcrumbs when crunchy panko would do the trick. I served this with a simple hearts of romaine salad and my lemon shallot dressing. Yum!

I did make another recipe on Monday but since I couldn’t taste it I really can’t tell you much about it, however my husband raved on and one and said I should let you know from a flavor standpoint it rocked. From a assembly standpoint, it was easy breezy so, hey, give this Tarragon Chicken with Spring Greens recipe a try too!

Spice-Rubbed Salmon with Herb-and-Pomegranate Raita



If you can believe it, we also had fellow couple in our group of friends who were due one month after we were. Cue December 3 (five days after Lila was born) and their baby was here and 28 days early! I will always be so thankful for the group of friends we have and our friend Kari, brought her A+ game. She did a lot for us those first few weeks, including organizing a friend cooking group to bring us meals each night that first week. Not only is this a fantastic way for your friends to see your new little bundle of joy, but it is so helpful to be around friends and family those first few weeks and you get to enjoy  delicious homemade food! So, I volunteered to cook for our fellow new parent couple and wanted to pick something simple, delicious and healthy. Enter this salmon dish from Food & Wine magazine – YUM!

I will admit that while I was pregnant, carbs and sweets were my BFFs. Normally, I don’t indulge in either very often, but I was snarfing breads and pastas and had to have a dessert almost every night (good thing I co-own a pie company eh?). Carbs and pastas and chocolates are a hard habit to break, but I’m trying to get back to my old self and this dish was definitely a step in the right direction. I loved it because I made enough for our friends and for us and it was still quick to make – bonus when you are recovering from a C-section. David and I thought it was perfectly balanced and definitely a keeper, but I knew it was good when I received a text from our friends saying it was delicious! Hooray!

A Winning Night

Yowza! I don’t care what side you were on last night, that was a nail biter at times huh? I wanted to make something quick and simple so we could get back to watching the pundits dissect and predict every single swing state for hours upon end until the polls actually closed and the good stuff got started. I chose this Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart from Cooking Light with a simple spinach side salad drizzled with my homemade Lemon Oregano dressing.

First, the crust. You know I make crust for a living so I was intrigued by this one with its salt, pepper, baking soda and olive oil as the fat to bind. Interesting. It was like a shortbread crust but savory, and yummy! The combo of butternut squash, eggs, Gruyere cheese, bacon and mushrooms was simply divine. Added bonus, I’m so super duper pregnant right now that I was thankful this was a quick and easy recipe. I’m telling you I can’t stop cooking, I love it too much!

This soared passed any predictions we had and won the popular vote in our house. For picky eaters or if you are in need of a quick crowd pleaser, this definitely has the ability to reach across the aisle and make everyone happy. Oh dear, I’ve been watching way too much CNN.