Venice Birthday Dinner

Fish Yum!
Fish Yum!
Big Ass Bottle of Grappa
Big Ass Bottle of Grappa

A few years back I celebrated my 33rd birthday in Venice. The Chef was a fisherman who every morning caught what he would later cook for the restaurant. Our meal was stunning...

If you are ever in Venice I highly recommend  Al fontego dei pescatori.  To this day that meal is still the best seafood I have ever eaten. 

Family Snacks # 1: Ramp Ranch Dip w/ Veggies

Ramp season is upon us and it's a pretty safe bet that if you come over our house over the next two months, there will be ramps in your food or drink. We embrace the wild spring onion each spring, it signifies family foraging season for us. Once the snow melts, the family and I take to the woods in search of wild onions, chives, and greens. It is more about the time together than the bounty we take home and I know it is something we all loo forward to as the winter ends.

The Chef and I go 'ramp crazy' every spring. He infiltrates the restaurants menus with ramp righteousness and I do the same in our home kitchen. Veggies and dip are a staple in our house and this snack is something that the whole family can enjoy making & eating! Enjoy yo.

Ramp Ranch Dip with Garden Veggies

10 oz Greek yogurt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp sriracha (I only add sriacha if the kids are not partaking)

1 tsp Greenhouse Tavern craft beer vinegar (any beer vinegar will do, however ours is no doubt better)

4 ramps, sliced

4 wild chives, slices

2 garlic mustard leaves

Salt to taste

Assortment of garden veggies (whatever the kids like)


1)    Place yogurt in big mixing bowl and season with oregano, onion, sriracha, and vinegar

2)    Slice ramps, chives & garlic mustards extremely thin and mix in to yogurt

3)    Season with salt to taste

4)    Serve with garden veggies for dipping

5)    Enjoy.

Family Dinner #5: Souper Soba Soup

Wheezy Slurps

Wheezy Slurps

Louisiana perfects her slurping technique

Today's installment of Family Dinner is so freaking easy it's embarrassing. If you only have ten minutes to spare then this is the dinner for you!

Souper Soba Soup

1 Pack of Soba Noodles

3 c. chicken or veg stock

1/2 c. water

2 green onions

1/2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp soy sauce

handful of frozen spinach

s & p

To Make:

1. Put stock and water in a pot on the stove. Bring to a slow boil. Add noodles, simmer to cook.

2. While noodles simmer, cut green onion tips. Add to pot.

3. Add oil & soy sauce to noodles. Simmer.

4. Add s & p to taste.

5. While hot pour soup in bowls. Give your kids a handful of frozen spinach to 'cook' themselves in their own soup.

6. Have the kids drop their frozen spinach in the bowl to cool the soup off and cook the spinach. My kids LOVE this past and eat every last bit (including the spinach they cooked)!

7. Enjoy!

Souper Soba Soup

Souper Soba Soup

Finished product yo. Happy kids means happy mom!

Family Dinner # 4

Wednesday's are a wee bit tricky for me. I usually work at one of the restaurants till about 3. After work, I race home, pick up Biggie, make a quick dinner, help the boy off the bus, feed both kids, drive to Solon for ballet & Kumon, and drive home after dark. Yes, I totally am a soccer mom.

That quick dinner I spoke of is a super serious quick dinner. I normally have about 30 minutes to prep, cook, & feed. Today I was perusing my fridge and saw some broccoli that was getting a little close to be unusable. I steamed it, boiled some pasta, added some already cooked chicken from Trader Joe's, & VOILA, dinner was served and my kids liked it.

For all of you who left me comments on how you can't possibly have enough time to NOT microwave your kids dinner every night, this one's for you.

Broccoli & Chicken Pasta

Chicken & Broccoli Pasta is my go to when I know my day is full and my time to cook the kids dinner is limited. I cheat on this one usually because I use Trader Joe's already cooked chicken breast. I like to keep a package of this in my fridge for quick dinner moments like these.

This recipe is crazy easy and so not gourmet. But it's healthy, the kids like it and eat it all, and it's quick. All three requriments for my crazy Wednesday are met.

  • Whole Wheat Pasta (3/4 box if dry)
  • Head of Broccoli
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic micro-planed
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Chicken Breast (I use about four strips of chicken breast, but you can alter this amount to what your children prefer. If you go to low you can always add more especially if you are using Trader Joe's cooked chix.
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dash of milk or water
  • Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook till al dente.
2. While pasta is cooking, steam broccoli.
3. In a large saucepan sautee olive oil and garlic over medium heat till aroma is heavy.
4. Add chicken and steamed broccoli. Stir and cook for about two minutes.
5. Add pasta to broccoli and chicken combo. Add water or milk and let simmer and mix. Add s & p to taste.
6. Plate and top with parmesan cheese.
7. Enjoy!


Family Dinner #3

Yesterday we found ourselves making this week's family dinner on Channel 3's Good Company. Hope you enjoy!!

Homemade Macaroni & Cheese 1 cup homemade chicken or vegetable stock

1 12 cups milk (nonfat)

1/2c. flour (more if you want sauce thicker)

1c.  extra sharp cheddar cheese (finely grated about 1 cup)

1/2c. part skim ricotta cheese

4 tbs grated parmesan cheese

2 tbs breadcrumbs

1 tsp olive oil

olive oil cooking spray

1 lb. elbow macaroni

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine stock, butter, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add flour and cheeses to thicken. Reduce heat to medium, simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir to combine. Set aside or freeze for later use. We make a huge batch of this cheese sauce and freeze it. Every time we want mac & cheese all we have to do is boil the noodles, add the sauce, and bake.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Add noodles; cook until al dente, according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in sauce and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  • Lightly coat a 9-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.
  • Cover with aluminum foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top. Serve immediately.

Family Dinner # 2

This week's installment of Family Dinner is Garlic Herb Polenta w/ braised kale and red bell pepper. I made this tonight for the mini's and they. went. to. town. The boy had two servings and even asked me to save him some for breakfast! This recipe is hella easy to make and is high in protein, beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and super rich in calcium.

Bon Appetit!

Garlic Herb Polenta w/ Braised Kale & Red Bell Peppers

Garlic Herb Polenta:

  • 2 C milk
  • 1 3/4 C water
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 C freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 C cornmeal(quick cooking variety)
  • oil for baking
Braised Kale & Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and cut into pieces
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbs. vinegar
  • s & p
  • pasta sauce (to taste for finished dish)

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add all spices, milk, and water.

Bring to a boil.

Slowly add cornmeal all the while stirring polenta. Turn down heat. As polenta reaches the consistency of a soft cheese, add parmesan. Stir.

Remove from heat.

Pour into a 9x13 baking pan and let settle.

While polenta is settling heat oven 350°. Once heated, add polenta for 5-10 minutes. I like to leave mine in longer to get a crispier polenta.

As polenta bakes, warm a sauce pan on medium heat. Add 2 tbs. olive oil.

Add red bell pepper an onion. Sauté until onion is translucent.

Add kale. Cook over medium heat until kale wilts. At this time, you can add some water and vinegar if your kids like it. You can also add red pepper flakes to kick it up a notch. Add s&p to taste.

Cut polenta into squares. Add a tbs. of pasta sauce, then top with braised kale mixture. Grate Parmesan to finish. Enjoy!!

My kids freaking loved this dish. My son liked it better as a 'polenta' towered and my daughter liked it better deconstructed. When making this (and any other) recipe I believe you should always make it approachable for your kids. If they hate red peppers but love broccoli, switch 'em out and modify. If they don't like it all together, deconstruct it like I did for my girl. Make it approachable for them and I guarantee you'll have them eating all sorts of wonderful foods in no time.

Family Dinner #1

After my kids menus post I received quite a few comments and emails regarding WHAT I actually cook for my family. I received so many inquiries that I have decided to do a weekly family dinner post. Once a week I will post an actual meal that I actually cook that my kids actually eat.

Let's do this yo. This is a quicky, easy, and HEALTHY dinner that shows up on our plates frequently. We love us some lentils. Hope you enjoy our Family Dinner #1:

Carrots & Lentils

1c Lentils

4c Sliced Carrots

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

tt Salt

1 Tspn Suga'

2 Cloves of Garlic Minced

1 Half of an Onion Chopped

1/2 Tspn Coriander

1 Tbsp Tomato Paste mixed with 1 Tbsp H20

Vinegar (optional)

  1. Cook lentils. Set aside lentils and 1c of lentil water.
  2. In a large pan heat olive oil and coriander seeds on medium high heat.
  3. Add chopped onion and minced garlic. Cook until tender.
  4. Add sliced carrots. Cook for 5-7 minutes until soft.
  5. Add tomato paste mixture, sugar, and lentils.
  6. Add lentil water to cover lentils.
  7. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until all water is gone.
  8. Add salt to taste.
  9. If so inclined, add vinegar once served.
  10. Eat & Enjoy!!

This recipe was adapted for my kids. The original recipe called for 4 cloves of garlic, more coriander, and a large onion. I know what the mini's like so I modify what I cook for them. Hence less garlic and coriander. I encourage all parents to do the same with their own children!