I’m all about efficient dinners these days. Long gone are the evenings where I’d toil away at the stove and sit down to dinner after 8pm. Today, dinners heavily involve microwavable rice from Trader Joe’s (a literal godsend!!) and one-pan dishes served promptly at 5:30pm. And, that’s OK.
I’m here to share my latest dinner efficiency, which shortcuts (just barely) a favorite NYT recipe for oven-roasted shawarma. Boneless chicken thighs roast in the oven with shawarma spices, loads of garlic and red onions. Serve with rice or pita, a quick Israeli salad, pickles or olives, your favorite Mediterranean dips (I did a vegan tzatziki and hummus) and you’ve got yourself a Cava-level bowl any working professional would be happy to eat during their lunch break. God, I miss fast casual lunches.
Fixings of your choosing – rice, pita, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles, hummus, tehina etc.
Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, shawarma spice in a large bowl or Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and toss well to coat. Chill for at least 45 minutes in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle some olive oil on a sheet pan. Add the onion to the pan and pour the chicken with all the marinade goodness – toss to combine with the onion and lay everything in even layer.
Put the chicken in the oven and roast for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes, then slice into strips. Serve with rice, Israeli salad, pita, pickles, olives, hummus, tehina, tzatziki – sky’s the limit!
Confession: cooking in the summer stresses me out sometimes. With the abundance of in-season produce comes the pressure to bake all the pies, make jam, pesto, corn salad, gazpacho, watermelon margaritas – the list goes on. It’s straight up fruit and vegetable FOMO. Julia Turshen recently wrote a wonderful article in The Washington Post about simplifying summer cooking and it really put things into perspective for me. The article talks about how little you have to do to summer produce – it shines on its own. Julia included a fresh crop of simple recipes that I can’t wait to try including garlicky marinated tomatoes, crispy, smoky skillet corn and squash fritters with buttermilk dressing! I decided to try her nectarine corn muffins first because I love a corn muffin and my favorite summer fruit is the nectarine – which I didn’t even know you could bake with! You can make these delicious, tender muffins in one bowl and use any stone fruit you love. I ate three in one sitting and have 0 regrets.
I love experimenting with pizza toppings. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy a classic plain cheese pizza now and again – I’m not a monster. But there’s something to be said for un-basic toppings. For inspiration I love to look at Gjelina’s menu (I also have their cookbook). Some of my pizza bucket list toppings include: brussels sprouts and burrata, smoked mozzarella and jalapeno, feta and blistered tomato, and castelvetrano olive and caramelized onion to name a few.
Sometimes when the stars align just right some of these ingredients happen to be in my fridge. (OK, maybe I am a bit bougie?) Leftover ricotta cheese, frozen spinach and some Trader Joe’s Soyrizo were the heroes this time around. A stray can of whole plum tomatoes served as the super simple sauce on one side of my pizza and on the other side I opted for just olive oil and minced garlic. I always keep store bought pizza dough in my freezer – it opens up so many doors.
It’s easy to order a pizza (thank you, Seamless) but it’s also surprisingly easy to make extraordinary pizza at home. Forage your fridge for some interesting topping ingredients and use whatever cheese you have on hand – feta, mozzarella, goat cheese – it’s all fair game! If you want to replicate my half and half pie, just halve each of the below recipes.
Pizza with Spinach and Ricotta
1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and wrung out with a paper towel
1 cup ricotta
8 ounces whole milk fresh mozzarella
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in the pan and drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle minced garlic on. Using a tablespoon, dollop some ricotta cheese blobs around the dough surface. Take clumps of spinach and scatter on the dough next. Finally tear apart pieces of the mozzarella and place in areas that are devoid of ricotta or spinach. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake pizza for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Pizza with Soyrizo and Mozzarella
1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
Tomato sauce (I used a can of whole plum tomatoes that I pureed in the can with an immersion blender)
1/2 package of soyrizo, browned
8 ounces whole milk mozzarella
Red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan. Place dough in the pan and spread a generous amount of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle the soyrizo on top of the sauce and finish with torn pieces of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and bake for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown. When the pizza comes out of the oven, top with arugula and serve.
Sometimes winter needs a dose of bright, summer flavor to remind us that the ground will eventually thaw and longer, sunny days are on the horizon. I’m partial to making barbecue brisket sandwiches in January, muddling mint in my cocktails in February and sprinkling out of season (but readily available) berries on my yogurt in March. Call me a dreamer but sometimes I just want a hot dog and an ice cream cone for dinner. These blackberry cornmeal pancakes are the perfect antidote to summertime longing. Pockets of juicy blackberries nestled in a fluffy cornmeal pancake – these are not your run of the mill limp pancakes. The flour and cornmeal give the pancake a lovely, rich texture and bonus – these are super quick and easy to whip up. Make a batch and keep them in the fridge for a quick weekday breakfast!
Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes
Yield: About 13 pancakes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ricotta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus more for the skillet
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 cup blackberries
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine 3 tablespoons butter, milk, followed by the eggs. Stir in blackberries. Combine mixture with dry ingredients and stir until ingredients are incorporated.
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into skillet for each pancake. Flip the pancakes when bubbles begin to appear all over top, about 2 minutes. Cook for another minute until golden on the other side. Keep pancakes warm on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.
I recently bought a 5 pound bag of carrots and let me tell you – those suckers are resilient! I used some carrots in my chicken soup. I brought carrot sticks to work to munch on. I made my favorite carrot soup. Despite my efforts to incorporate more carrots into my diet, there was still a hefty number of carrots left in the fridge.
I decided to go big with my carrot swan song. I chose a dish that really elevates the humble carrot. A spice rub, comprised of smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, mustard powder and sugar, adds a delightful smokey and sweet flavor to the carrots when they caramelize and the harissa yogurt is the perfect creamy accompaniment. If you find yourself flush with carrots, make this recipe. It’s super flavorful and way more interesting than your run of the mill carrot dish.
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add carrots and let them cook for about 5 minutes. Remove carrots with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Using a paper towel gently remove the carrot skin and pat the carrots dry.
In a medium bowl, combine the spices and add the carrots with 1 tablespoon of oil. Toss everything together and add salt and pepper to the carrots. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots in batches and cook turning occasionally for about 6 minutes or until the carrots are golden brown. Salt and pepper the carrots when they are done cooking.
In a small bowl, gently fold the harissa, lemon zest, salt and pepper into the yogurt, stopping just before the yogurt turns pink. Spoon the yogurt onto a plate and top with carrots and additional lemon zest.
Rose water is a love-it-or-hate-it ingredient. You either appreciate the delicate floral notes or it makes you feel like you’ve been punched in the face with your grandmother’s perfume. It’s a fine line. A subtle amount of rose water can transform baked goods, jam, ice cream and, of course, cocktails. The first time I fell in love with rose water was at Balaboosta in New York City. I ordered the knafeh for dessert — a Middle Eastern cheesecake made with thin shreds of phyllo dough. It was served with this delicate rose water ice cream and topped with pistachios. I promptly ordered a bottle of rose water and began plotting ways to use it. Check out my article on SheKnows.com!
Rose water grapefruit cocktail recipe
Makes 1 cocktail
1-1/2 ounces vodka
1-1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
1 ounce honey
1/2 teaspoon rose water
splash of Campari
4 ounces club soda
lemon peel for garnish
Mix vodka, grapefruit juice, honey and rose water in a cocktail shaker. Pour over ice and top with club soda and a splash of Campari. Garnish with lemon peel.
Summer is flying by, and everyone I know is scrambling to knock those bucket-list items off. Go to the beach, picnic at the park, swim at the pool, host a backyard barbecue and eat all the ice cream. (Items not featured on the bucket list that I have accomplished: get eaten alive by mosquitoes, receive a sunburn and sweat profusely at all times.) For me though, it’s all about enjoying and making the most out of that beautiful summer produce. Have I made enough pies? Have I eaten a more-than-healthy share of tomatoes? Has corn on the cob been featured as a side dish at every meal? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
Strawberries are a summer staple in my fridge, so I decided to bake them into a delicious breakfast treat that is a true crowd-pleaser. These are perfect for a summer brunch. Check out the full recipe on sheknows.com!
On a recent trip to Costa Rica I had some magical watermelon margaritas. The fruit there was out of this world and I took every available opportunity to mix my booze with fresh fruit juice. My first drink there was a watermelon marg and it was love at first sip. Using fresh juice in a cocktail makes a huge difference and it’s super easy – especially if you have an immersion blender. You can use any juice you like here – I’ve done blood orange juice and grapefruit juice. Make it spicy by muddling in some jalapeno and adding chili powder to your salt rim. Puree peaches, strawberries, mangoes – the sky’s the limit here. Enjoy your weekend!
2 cups watermelon chunks, seeded
4 oz. tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 lime wedges
Using an immersion blender puree the watermelon chunks. In a cocktail shaker (or in my case a plastic soup container – works great!) combine tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and watermelon juice. Shake vigorously. Salt your glasses if you like using a lime wedge to moisten the rim. Ice your glasses and pour the drink into glasses. Garnish with lime wedge if desired.
In need of a supremely easy summer dessert that will impress your guests? Or just yourself? Look no further than the galette. Not into artfully arranging fruit in a symmetrical pattern? This recipe is a straight mix and dump situation. Top with vanilla ice cream for sheer perfection.
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 stick cold butter
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons sugar plus extra for the crust
2 tablespoons milk or almond milk
2 cups blueberries
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Using two forks, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes course in texture. Slowly pour in the ice water, a little bit at a time until the dough starts to stick together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and form into a flat round disk. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Mix the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a bowl.
Roll out your dough into a 12-inch diameter circle on a piece of parchment paper. Dump the fruit in the center of the dough. Fold the edges toward the center of the galette. Brush edges with egg wash.
I’m on a cookie kick. It started last Sunday morning when I woke up to the sound of little girls shouting outside my window. “Girl scout cookies! Girl scout cookies! $4 a box!” It realllly made me want to start my day with a thin mint. But I have more self control than that. I held off until about noon, bought 4 boxes of cookies and then decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies. If you are ready to take your chocolate chip cookie to the next level, you need to add sea salt to the mix. Both in the dough and sprinkled on top – sea salt delivers on flavor. In a big way. These cookies are also the perfect blend of crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Cookie nirvana.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Sugar in the Raw
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
Heat oven to 360°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well. Beat in sea salt and baking soda until combined, then the flour on a low speed until just mixed. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Using a tablespoon, scoop out cookie dough and place on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each mound with sea salt. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Let the cookies rest for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.