Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mediterranean cooking class on a perfect spring day!

It's been a little quiet on the blog because I've been having so much fun teaching a few live cooking lessons. That, and... a few big blog-related projects. Oh, and my kids... and a weekend trip to FL for the most fantastic wedding. But I'm back now, and the kitchen's revved up again. (The kids were always revved up...)

Anyway, last week we focused on leafy greens, and this week it's all about Mediterranean-inspired fare... colorful seasonal veggies, healthy fats, a bit of zesty cheese, and lots of different whole grains.

I have one spot open in tomorrow's Mediterranean spot, if any of my local friends are looking for a fantastic culinary experience from 9-11am. Email me. First come, first served!

And, of course, we sample all of the amazing-- and simple-- recipes we whip up together. The classes have been wonderful; so much fun gathering in my kitchen, new friendships being made, and lots of laughs. For the latest availability and class descriptions, click here. I cannot wait to cook live with some of you soon!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

feeling swell in the kitchen!

Why are these busy moms smiling? 
Because they just learned 4 simple (and totally delicious + healthy) ways to bring more leafy greens into their family meals!

Today, friends gathered for the first Swellmom cooking class in my new kitchen!

I had them blending... 



and folding. 

And, of course, we sampled our culinary masterpieces!
If you would like to join me for some culinary inspiration, I've updated the class descriptions with the latest availability. You may email me to sign up, or ask to be added to emails about future class offerings. 
Can't wait to cook with many of you soon!

Monday, April 22, 2013

my Whole Foods Market video: super easy pineapple-marinated salmon

Here's the link to the video I recently shot for Whole Foods Markets in CT, NY and NJ, to give shoppers an idea of how to use one of the many items featured in their April 17-23, 2013 "Madness Sale". I'm not sure how long the video will stay up on Whole Foods' Facebook pages past the sale, so I've popped it onto YouTube as well so all of you busy parents have access to it long after the sale ended! You can click here to be taken to the video, since I fiddled with the sizing but I give up on trying to make it fit perfectly here on the blog! This is such an easy recipe, that everyone in my whole family enjoys. I hope you like it as much as we do!

My Go-To Simple Salmon Marinade
(serves 4-6)

1/3 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
zest and juice of lemon (or lime) 
four 6-oz pieces of salmon

Whisk all marinade ingredients. Pour over salmon and marinate 1-24 hours. To roast, preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place salmon, skin side down, on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 12 minutes, or until the thickest part of the salmon is 'springy' to the touch. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

the super easy salmon recipe I filmed for Whole Foods

I'm so excited! I recently shot a 2-minute video for Whole Foods, where I share my go-to marinade and method for making salmon for my family. It's now live on all of Whole Foods' NY/NJ/CT store Facebook pages, giving you a simple method for preparing Atlantic salmon (which happens to be one of this week's "Madness Sale" items). You can watch the video here. I'll be signing autographs tomorrow at The Family Dinner Conference. Just kidding. Oh boy, I am punchy tonight. I mean, if you want an autograph just let me know... but I'm thinking you're really at the conference for additional inspiration on "Feeding Your Family Well on the Busiest of Days"!! Anyway, as if watching me make salmon in our brand-spanking-new kitchen isn't excitement enough, there's a chance to win a basket full of "Madness Sale" items, simply for viewing the video! So go on, turn up the volume, and enjoy 2-minutes of cinematic magic courtesy of my 10-year-old cameraman, co-producer and taste tester.

Yep, I was compensated, with a Whole Foods gift card, for filming this masterpiece... but the recipe and real-life "rainbow plates" are my very own!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

family dinner: why today, more than ever

These past 24 hours have shaken me to the core. Again. When 9/11 happened I asked myself if I wanted to bring children into this world we were living in. When Newtown happened, I held my boys closer than ever. And I was scared. I'm still scared. Then the horrible events of yesterday made me question "going back to work", no matter how "part time" I had made my schedule. I asked myself if I was being reckless taking time away from my children... possibly putting myself in a vulnerable position for something as 'silly' as presenting at The Family Dinner Conference in NYC this week. I briefly considered canceling my role as a presenter. I wanted to stay home; to feel safe. Then tonight I read a fellow presenter, Red Round or Green's, post... why something as simple as family dinner is important. I encourage you to read her post. Here is an excerpt:

"...I realize that there is a beautiful secret about the things we can do in our small family ways: They are probably the most important things, the ones that will make the most change of all. When we raise strong, aware, healthy, competent, compassionate, thinking children, when we honor them with the gift of vibrant families and supportive communities, we raise people who are less prone to violence and more prone to peace. When we meet fully the various and vast needs of our children and ourselves, beginning at a basic level with their needs for good food and safe homes and building up to the highest level of meeting their needs for compassion, love, acceptance, enrichment, nurturing, and moral guidance, we raise them to be people who will seek to meet the needs of others, not diminish them... 

There may be many ways to provide all of this to our children and ourselves, but there are few mechanisms that deliver every one of these outcomes all at once, consistently, in the way that a positive Family Dinner routine does. So no matter how humble it seems, no matter how tired we are, no matter how many times we are confronted by others’ perceptions that the pace of modern life has all but obliterated the place of a quaintly old-fashioned notion like sharing a meal around the table each night…I know, and I hope that you all know, how much it actually does matter..."

- Brianne DeRosa, Red, Round or Green 

I will be presenting on Thursday. I'll be surrounded by an absolutely amazing line-up of parents, educators, medical professionals and nutrition experts who believe in the importance of family dinner. I will go in to inspire, and to be inspired. Then I will return home to my family I love so much, and I will relish the happy routine we squeeze into our busy lives; one that I feel fortunate to be a part of today, more than ever.

Monday, April 15, 2013

family dinners in the wake of tragedy

As a parent of young children, I have found this quote from Mr. Rogers helpful at shifting conversation to the positive... and to help my children focus on the good in the world, in the face of tragedy:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster', I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers- so many caring people in this world."  - Fred Rogers (1928-2003)

May all of you find peace and calm around your family dinner tables tonight.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

my kitchen runner

I've had a bunch of you email me, asking where I got my (smashing) kitchen runner. I love it too! I got that one on sale at Scout by Bungalow (along with the cubbies in my kids' art area in our laundry room, pictured below). And this is the company, FoFlor, that makes them for Scout, with even more patterns to make you swoon. (Oh, and yes, the runners are machine washable... since things are often flying when I'm cooking!)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

fiddlehead ferns with lemon-horseradish yogurt dipping sauce

This CA girl can honestly say I'd never tried a fiddlehead fern until this week. Since they don't thrive where it's warm year-round, I had an idyllic childhood, but no fiddlehead ferns! Having lived in the Northeast for several years now, I've seen them pop up in the produce section just for a few weeks each spring, but I never had the confidence or know-how to prepare them. This week, I decided to give them a whirl. Most recipes call for blanching them and then sautéing, but I knew my 6-year-old would be somewhat suspect.... and serving things with a dip usually garners at least a taste of something new. So, I blanched them and then served them room temp with a yogurt dipping sauce. Delish. Click here for the fiddlehead and dip recipe I shared with our local, family-owned market.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

upcoming family dinner inspiration and instruction!

For those readers who live close to NYC, I am super excited to be speaking at The Family Dinner Conference at NYU on Thursday, April 18. I'm joining an absolutely fabulous line-up of busy parents and nutrition experts who share a goal of raising healthy eaters, and commitment to squeezing family dinners into our busy lives. Focusing on the make-ahead cooking skills I honed as a personal chef, I'll be sharing my tips for "Feeding Your Family Well on the Busiest of Days". I'd love to meet some of you live, so please email me if you will be attending!

Then the following week, my small group cooking lessons start up. Click here for the latest availability.  Missed out this go round? (Spots went quickly!!) Email me to be put on a wait list, or to be notified of upcoming classes.

Looking for a weekend outing that'll inspire you to get back into cooking? Stone Barns has upcoming Spring speakers, cooking lessons and kid's classes that sound fabulous!

And, for my NYC readers-- or those looking for another fabulous reason to head into NYC-- I encourage you to check out the Spring line-up of children's and adult cooking lessons (and Mom's Night Out ideas!) from Freshmade NYC.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

even my ceiling makes me smile

We've been in the house 3 days now and I am just smitten with the kitchen. Tonight I looked up from the island and noticed all of the amazing woodwork up on the ceiling. It's truly beautiful. I was singing our architect and contractor's praises to a friend in the supermarket this afternoon. Nab them, if you can. They are amazing.

You all keep a asking for pics of the finished product, and I'll take more pics soon, but also thought that sharing a pic of what it's really like at 6:45pm on a Thursday might give you a glimmer into the digs. More after I'm done unpacking and really settled in...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

homemade horseradish

As if our gorgeous new kitchen weren't enough to make me swoon, one of our carpenters gifted us with a jar of homemade horseradish today. Oh my. Potent and unbelievably good. This, of course, got me to asking "how you make horseradish?!".

When I did my nutrition coursework, one of the most interesting modules was the one focusing on traditional diets (mainly the Weston Price Foundation), including fermentation. One of their culinary experts has a fermented recipe here. And here's a traditional vinegar recipe that sounds super simple-- if you can get our hands on some fresh horseradish. I am totally giving this a try after sampling how amazing homemade horseradish is!

first meal in the new kitchen!

That title is actually not true... the first meal I made in our new kitchen went something like this:

  • Having grand plans of spending the first week of winter break moving back into the house and whipping up some initial culinary masterpiece in the kitchen where all appliances work and counter space is ample... but instead I get struck by the flu... and by struck I mean, the kids basically raised themselves that week. It was awful. I don't have any recollection of meals that week, nor did we get to move  home.
  • The following week, we went on vacation as planned. (Yes, with me still sick. I don't recommend taking a trip when sick. It kind of ruins the fun. Thankfully, towards the end of the trip either the antibiotics or the copious amount of tequila in those "Kachinaritas" kicked in and killed what was ailing me. But anyway, I digress...)
  • So, we came back to CT late late late Sat night, and our awesome neighbor invited us over for Easter... 
  • Another day of not moving... and not cooking. Bliss. Best neighbor ever, I might add. Delicious meal, fun company, just pure relaxation and good times. And total avoidance of unpacking.
  • Then Monday rolls around {insert screeching brakes}. Time to lug the suitcases home. Finally! But where did all of this stuff come from? Did we really move this much stuff over to the condo?! After a day of shlepping, and some paint that wasn't quite dry, I rationalized take-out... and eagerly anticipated / dreamed about egg sandwiches with kale pesto I found still tucked in the condo freezer as the first meal I'd make back home.
  • But Tuesday morning, I couldn't locate the toaster.... decided to broil the English muffins... finally figured out how to work the oven.... then forgot about the English muffins, basically torching them, narrowly missing setting the fire alarms off {new French doors and Vent-A-Hood both work wonders}... only to realize the time {where is the clock in the new kitchen?!}... then the school bus rolls up earlier than my calculations of when it should arrive at our real house {oh my gosh, the kids! are they even up?!?!}... and I would have come clean and photographed the charred black nuggets that were actually the first "meal" I made in the new kitchen-- or the yogurt tube and stick of mozzarella I frantically tossed to the backseat driving them to school-- but instead I am sharing this way more idyllic first meal with you: 

This latest variation on turkey lasagna with power green pesto came together quickly, and was delicious. Having only one small tub of pesto left in the condo freezer, I stretched it into 4 family dinners (pictured up top: one for last night, one to share with a friend, and 2 for the freezer) by also adding some Rao's pasta sauce, big handfuls of baby kale, a large can of diced tomatoes and some artichoke hearts. It turned out perfect. Stay tuned for what I whip up next! There's a big freezer just waiting to be filled with meals so I can feed my family well, even on the busiest of days! I'm excited to share my simple--  many of them make-ahead-- recipes with you all as we head into spring...