Easter Meal – Shellfish, Lamb Chops, Asparagus, Brusssels Sprouts and More

19 Apr

While it is not set in stone, this is what we will most likely be eating tomorrow for the big Easter meal. We’ll start with shellfish (and Sauvignon Blanc for the growns, flavored seltzer for the kid), then simple lamb and vegetables (probably some couscous with pesto made by the little man as an additional side). We are off to the farm today, so I’ve run out of time…Happy Easter to all, if I don’t see you before then….lamb

Light Mediterranean-style clams

 Crispy Beer-Battered Oysters

Fantastically crisp beer battered oysters

Fantastically crisp beer battered oysters


Simple and Perfect Roasted Baby Lamb Chops

Roasted Asparagus and Sweet Red Pepper Dipping Sauce



Brussels Sprouts – Sauteed and Sassy

brussels sprouts

 Grilled Potato Disks (Like Fries, but grilled!)

Crispy on the outside, crunchy on the inside!

Crispy on the outside, crunchy on the inside!





Egg Salad: Classic Comfort in No-Time-Flat

18 Apr Featured Image -- 5779

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

What to do with all those hard-boiled Easter eggs

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

I’ve been on a bit of an egg kick lately. While eggs can do marvellous food-science type things if separated and whipped just so and folded in just right at just the right temperature, right now I am celebrating their simplicity.


When was the last time you had a light and easy egg salad? This version is creamy and light and a bit tangy, thanks to the yogurt and the mustard. I took it to a friend’s for a playdate, where it met with success! It makes a good addition to any party buffet table too.
Egg Salad (makes four generous sandwiches or four big scoops to top green salad)

Eight fresh eggs*

3 Tbs mayonnaise

1 Tbs non-fat or low-fat plain yogurt

1 Tbs your favorite mustard

Pinch of salt/pinch of cayenne pepper/sprinkle of parsley/grating of pepper, if desired

Place eggs in a pot with…

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Natural Easter Egg Coloring Update: How-To, Cheap Tricks…Canned Beets?

17 Apr Amazing and cheap effects

We colored our Easter eggs the natural way again this year and learned a few things we want to share with you! In this post you will find the basic how-to for red-pink, yellow, and violet blue and you can make your own color blends from there, plus get some ideas for making it easier and more decorative.

2014-04-15 Easter eggsAnd we’ll answer the question: Can I use the juice from canned beets?


We got some interesting colors and cool effects!

We got some interesting colors and cool effects!

Click here for the original post from last year or just follow these simple instructions. Scroll past the recipe for more ideas, advice and suggestions!

DO wear an apron!

DO wear an apron!

Coloring Easter Eggs the Natural Way

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, cooled (make patterns with crayons or wax pencils before dipping)

Three pots, each filled with 2 Cups water

HOT PINK – 1 large beet, chopped (peel can stay on)

YELLOW 2 Tbs turmeric

VIOLET BLUE – 12 oz frozen blueberries

3 Tbs white vinegar

crayons or wax pencils

Put one coloring ingredient in each pot. Bring to a boil, turn off and let steep five minutes. Strain into three separate bowls (removing chunky bits*). Add one tsp vinegar to each bowl. Start blending, dipping and cross-dipping until you achieve the colors you like. Dry in the egg carton and add any decorations you see fit.

Now for the updates and cool ideas: Continue reading

Roasted Artichokes (Better than Steamed and Easier than You Think!)

16 Apr A bit of char ends up delicious!

I was always intimidated by preparing artichokes…it seemed like quite a task to get anything edible from this armadillo of a vegetable. But when a recent manager’s special at the local supermarket had eight of them for $1.99, I figured it was a sign that it was time to try.

It's okay to crowd them into the baking dishArtichokes (Cynara scolymus) are thistles, but very delicious thistles. Large globe ones come from the central stem, while babies come from the sides.

I love the way you eat them when steamed or roasted whole…you remove each leaf and hold the pointy end while dragging our teeth on the stem end to get the flesh off. It’s like a delicious secret that you have to tease out with your hands and teeth. And then you are left with the center which is creamy and nutty and entirely delicious.

Pedro gets on the chop

Pedro gets on the chop

Although like many “manager’s specials” these particular artichokes were not at their bright and tight best, they had nice smooth green leaves – if they were a bit separated from the core, well at $1.99 I wasn’t going to be fussed. This was an experiment in technique, after all, so if they weren’t artichokes at their peak, it didn’t matter so much. And the following technique brought out the best in them. Continue reading

Easy Steamed Clams for Me – Easy Linguine with Clam Sauce for the Kid

13 Apr yum, clams

The problem:  I want steamed clams. My dad wants steamed clams. My son won’t eat them. Nor will my mom. I don’t want to cook two meals, because as much as I like to cook, this is not a bloody restaurant.



The solution: Both my son and my mom will eat pasta with seafood flavor. So I steam the clams in a nice cooking liquid, remove the offending shells and shellfish for me and my dad, then plump up the liquid into a delicious pasta sauce for the other two.

yum, clams

yum, clams

And so, we had a lovely casual dinner on the deck, with the remainder of the bottle of white wine, everyone enjoying the arrival of spring (and celebrating the absence of the mosquitoes that have been effing up our summer nights for the last few years).

linguine and clams

linguine and clams (these clams were removed immediately after the picture and eaten by me. The pasta went to the kid.

The whole operation takes only as long as it takes to cook up the pasta. So go for it! Click on for recipe


cheese for the kid

cheese for the kid

Steamed clams and BONUS linguine with white wine, butter and clam sauce

½ lb linguine (this sauce will stretch for a pound of pasta – 4 servings – if you are extra generous with all ingredients)

1 Tbs unsalted butter

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tsp garlic, chopped fine

½ Cup dry white wine

A dozen cherrystone clams in their shells, scrubbed

1 tsp or so lemon juice

6.5 oz can chopped clams

Parmigiano Reggiano for grating

Boil pasta according to package directions. Reserve ¼ Cup of pasta water before draining.

Melt butter in a large saucepan at medium high. When foaming subsides, add olive oil and garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add wine and lemon and bring to a boil.

Add clams in their shells and cover. Cook at medium high until the clams open and remove each one with tongs as it opens. I advise checking after about three minutes, and then uncovering every minute or so after that, to move cooked clams out of the pot as quickly as possible, because they get chewy if overcooked. Set clams aside/start eating them with a glass of that nice dry white wine you opened to cook them.

To the remaining clam cooking liquid, add the can of clams, with juices. Cook at medium high for 1-2 minutes, then add drained pasta, and, if necessary, some of the reserved pasta water. Taste for salt, add pepper if desired and serve with grated cheese.

Natural Easter Egg Dye: It Really Worked!

10 Apr Featured Image -- 5718

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

Note to readers on reblog: As you get ready to color eggs for Easter (or your preferred pagan Spring holidays), try natural coloring…we had so much fun with this last year that we will be doing it again this year!

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

Thanks to two bloggers working together, Leandro and I were inspired to try our hand at natural Easter egg dyes and it was so, so, much fun!
Boil, boil, toil and trouble

Boil, boil, toil and trouble

The road to this adventure was winding

Out, out, damn spot (cutting beets)

Out, out, damn spot (cutting beets)

My friend, Ashley, posted a “fun Easter craft” on the Hot, Cheap & Easy Facebook page recently. It linked to Lisa Leake’s  100 Days of Real Food   a terrific blog about her adventures, discoveries and triumphs eliminating processed food from her family’s diet. The original post was Natural Easter Egg Dyes  and the guest blogger was Christina Le Beau whose blog, Spoonfed, covers her quest to raise children who are literate about food. Women after my own heart.

Ready, steady, go - note the glorious colors already on the Restoration Farm Eggs

Ready, steady, go – note the glorious colors already on the Restoration Farm Eggs

View original 395 more words

You Need No-Knead Bread Dough in Your Fridge!

9 Apr Oh deliciousness

500th POST!!!! 500th POST!!!! Thanks to all of you for following, commenting, liking, and cooking with Hot, Cheap & Easy these past few years. I appreciate your support and love having your company on this food and life journey…Don”t forget to sign up for email alerts if you haven’t already! xoxoxo

As we were learning about yeast for my first-grader’s Science Fair Project, it was obvious that blowing up balloons with anaerobic respiration, while cool, was not enough to fully demonstrate the wonders of this delightful fungus.

The best way to appreciate how useful and all around terrific these little creatures are is to tear into a loaf of steaming, fresh-from-the-oven, homemade bread. Yeast lifts flour from its one-dimensional powder form into the sublime airy, nutty, soft, comforting cloud of tasty goodness that is bread. Add a slab of good butter, and you know that manna from heaven must’ve been a yeast bread.

Basic ingredients

Basic ingredients

The problem is, bread is a pain in the ass to make. You knead, you wait, you punch down. You do it again. Or you have a standing mixer with the right paddles and let the machine do much of the work. And you still have to wait.

Sticky dough

Sticky dough

I don’t have a standing mixer. I don’t have the space for it. I don’t have the money for it. I don’t have the time to read all the reviews to find the best standing mixer with the best ratings and the best price that I anyway have no room for and no money for…so usually I don’t make bread. This is why bakeries exist.

After a bit more than an hour

After a bit more than an hour

But a bit of digging around the internet found me a fabulous recipe on Jezebel called Foolproof Refrigerator Bread by Jenna Sauers. It required no kneading, no standing mixer, and very little waiting and one batch is enough for three loaves that you can make one at a time when you get the urge. SOLD!

Slash the top for good looks

Slash the top for good looks

Here is our version, which doesn’t really stray much from the original. The measurements and instructions are easy enough for a little kid to follow. We shamelessly took a fresh loaf to the Science Fair and offered still-warm slices to the judges and voila! Leandro won the Creativity Prize (the K-4 category was otherwise non-juried except for a few special recognitions). Talk about fostering a sense of pride and joy in a little boy who loves science and food.

No sense skimping on the butter.

No sense skimping on the butter.

And ever since we have been keeping dough on hand to pop in the oven when we need a snack. It’s done in a half-hour….what could be better for a dinner side or something to wow impromptu guests? Continue reading to get the ever-so-simple recipe. Continue reading

Kids, Kitchen, Bread…Science Fair Success! (book recommendation)

5 Apr kitchen science

I love food. My kid loves eating. I love cooking. My kid loves science.

And it all comes together for Science Fair Projects, where you can play around with fungus and eat the results!

How did he do that?

How did he do that?

Science Fair participation is not obligatory in the first grade in our school district, and in fact as far as we can tell, only a handful of first-graders participate, but for us, it is a wonderful opportunity to take our mucking about in the kitchen to a molecular level. We’re talking fungus, we’re talking yeast, and not only are we going to blow up balloons without expending any breath of our own, we are also going to massage the judges with some still-warm bread.

Hmmm...further exploration required

Hmmm…further exploration required

Our new favorite book is Kitchen Science Experiments by Sandipta Bardhan-Quallen. Full of quick and easy food experiments and explanations in a kid-attractive format, we borrowed it from the library and ended up buying it because they wouldn’t let us renew it anymore. And it gave us this year’s science fair experiment for which my little guy won a special K-4 prize for creativity.

Explaining it to the boys (while they noshed on fresh bread)

Explaining it to the boys (while they noshed on fresh bread)

For our experiment we used the power of yeast to blow up balloons. We learned about yeast and the conditions it prefers (won’t tell you the results because you need to try it yourself) and to take it a step further, we made no-knead refrigerator bread (which eliminates variables if you are doing science and dodges serious kneading and proofing if you are an overwhelmed mom) that we took, still warm, as part of our presentation.

Great job!

Great job!

I will give you the no-knead recipe tomorrow (because you need it!), but for now…it’s just the book recommendation and a couple of pictures. Enjoy!


Fish Tacos and Tostadas: Easy, Breezy, Light

4 Apr Featured Image -- 5679

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

A Fish on Friday idea that has become part of our regular repertory….Happy Weekend!

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

We are digging the flavors of the SouthWest – rice, beans, cumin, peppers, avocados, corn, red onion….They holler summer to me and are right now hollering my name.
fish tostadas

Pile ‘em high with whatever you like!

Mind you, I have very little idea how people actually eat in the SouthWest, but I have these ideas shaped by the mysterious forces of The Media Age. These ideas make flavor sense to me and make me happy AND are easily achieved in my little kitchen, AND my son likes them AND they lend themselves to individual assembly and in my family of diverse eaters, that is really, really important, so there you have it.

You can pop them into tacos or eat them on the side

You can pop them into tacos or eat them on the side

The Northeastern factor is fresh fish from our salty sea. I have figured out how to quickly season and pan-fry chunks of fish to add to our…

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Roasted Baby Lamb Chops – Straightforward and Perfect

1 Apr Featured Image -- 5671

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

Looking ahead to Easter…we may very well do these again. So perfectly simple and so right for Spring! So I had to reblog it for you….

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

“Mommy, I love these! I just love them!”

Here is yet another cameo appearance by Adriana, whose baby lamb chops sent Leandro over the moon (not least because he could grab them by the bone in his hammy little fist and tear meat off with his teeth like a caveman) and very nearly knocked me and Padushi off our pedestals in his culinary pantheon.

Adriana is a serious carnivore who likes the flavor of good meat to shine through. The mild flavor and tender texture of today’s baby lamb chops from Australia and New Zealand lend themselves to that kind of light hand in seasoning. Roasted potatoes and asparagus rounded off the meal – simple, straightforward, and balanced.

The meal was also festive — our celebration of the beginning of the holiday season –  so we grown-ups opened with a pear and goat cheese appetizer (which will be familiar to…

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