My Jen
Hot Chocolate
Pesto Capellini
Carrot Pappardelle
Finger Limes
Modern BLT



My favorite noodle pasta is bucatini (sometimes called perciatelli). It's basically a very thick spaghetti with a hole running through it. Have no idea why I love it but it makes for some really good dishes, especially with mixed ragu or meatballs or chunky-saucy mixes.

For this one we tossed a lot of basics - fresh grape tomato, marinated artichokes, sun-dried tomato, asparagus, basil, arugula, sausage, a whole mess of garlic, butter, chicken broth, and then topped it with...bacon.

Pasta is MEANT to be a mix of comfort and taste...use what you have and try different things because some of the best tasting dishes will come out of nothing.

Images by MadeForJen


Red Velvet Cupcakes

red velvet cupcakes

As promised, here's the recipe for red velvet cupcakes that I made for Jen's birthday a few years back (and then again today)!

2 1/4 C flour (all-purpose)
1/2 C unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks butter (1 C) softened
2 C granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 C plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 cup buttermilk (soy milk or regular if unavailable with 1/2 tsp lemon)
1 oz red food color (usually a whole bottle)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounce regular or tofutti cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter (1/4 C), softened
2 tsp plain yogurt (or sour cream)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 C confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar in another bowl for 4-5 minutes
until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in yogurt, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in dry ingredient mix on low speed until just blended without over-beating. Spoon into 32 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

Bake 20-25 minutes - testing with a toothpick (it should come out clean). While baking, make the frosting by beating the first 4 ingredients with an electric mixer in a bowl until fluffy, then slowly add sugar until smooth.  If you prefer less sweet, start with only 1 1/4 C and gradually add to taste.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 5 minutes then remove the cupcakes and cool completely. Frost them. Eat them. Eat another!


Sunday Breakfasts

Love Sunday breakfasts with Jen.

Favorites...French toast, fried egg, bacon. Yum.

Images by MadeForJen


Home Pizza

The best part about making pizza at home is that it's exactly what you want it to be.

These ones are made with store-bought artisanal crusts and topped with all those pantry items I try to keep handy - sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke, basil, bacon and sausage - but I'm sure you have your favorites. We also used mozzarella pearls mixes with soy cheese. Bake for 10 minutes at 425°.

Images by MadeForJen


Saturday Sweet Tooth

No words needed. Special offer on GiltCity available until October 23. After that, visit Forbidden Fruit NYC at 106 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village (NYC).

Images by Gilt


Mixed Zucchini

I picked up these great yellow and green zucchini from a street stand the other day and they ended up making a gorgeously colorful veggie side dish.

Here's the ingredients ready for prep. Chop into good sized pieces (usually I halve them lengthwise then chop into 1/4"-1/2" semi-circles). Also coarsely chop 1 red onion.

Put 1Tb olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, saute the onions lightly for 1 minute, then add the squash. Pan fry until they are just softening and season with some herbs (here I used dried oregano and parsley).

Images by MadeForJen


Cool Foods: Black Garlic

Black garlic is a fermented garlic done by uses heat and humidity to alter the sugar and amino acid balance, producing melanoidin, which is what causes it to turn black. What comes out is a sweet, almost syrupy clove that is something like tamarind mixed with a bit of balsamic vinegar.

Image by GiltTaste (love this site)



Crostini with bruschetta-salsa, cheddar blocks, mixed olives and fresh mozzarella balls.

Image by MadeForJen


Tri-Color Penne

Another Jen mix ... tri-color penne with a mix of sauteed onions, fresh cherry tomato, capers, hearts of palm and steamed chicken breast.

One of the best things about pasta is, well, it can mix with just about anything and everything - even some of the strangest leftovers in the fridge. Here we used a relatively good amount of garlic and butter in the liquid, and tossed in a little of everything.

Images by MadeForJen


Cool Foods: Finger Limes

I've heard of a lot of strange food items but this really stood out...finger limes.

What makes these so cool is the bead-like inside (pearls) and the variety of both flesh and skin colors. They are from Australia and I would guess fairly difficult to get in the USA but thanks to the folks at Gilt (my new guilty browsing pleasure) they are available right now (at some point this link will die so if you want some, grab them soon).

Anyone from Australia have some good recipes that use these? Anyone in NYC know a local place to get them?

Images from Gilt (follow on Twitter)


Healthy Breakfast

Best way to start the day.

Omelette with soy mozzarella and scallions topped with alfalfa sprouts, steamed asparagus and warmed grape tomatos. Cinnamon-raisin toast on the side. Don't forget the flowers.

Image by MadeForJen


Comfort (Veggie) Mac N Cheese

I've never met anyone who doesn't love mac 'n cheese, and we're no exception.

For this one, however, we decided to add in a little extra velvety smooth with the addition of a fried egg. When cut open, the yolk adds to the texture of the cheese.

Being that Jen doesn't eat milk products, this one uses both gluten free macaroni (quinoa based) and block soy cheese, along with unflavored soy milk. Yes, I cheated a bit because I used real butter because the consistency and taste hold better when melted.

The garnish is a bit of julienned sundried tomato and some chopped basil for a little herb to offset the richness.

Enjoy!  Images by MadeForJen



No matter what you do, guys, don't forget the flowers.

Rules for the guys:
  1. Don't ever buy a single flower - that's so high school - buy a bouquet or a bunch.
  2. Buy the right color - notice what's in your/her place and color match it so it will pop but not clash.
  3. Buy a variety - buy seasonal varieties. Roses are beautiful but old and boring...especially for Valentine's Day. Surprise her with something more special and thoughtful.
  4. Be regular - do it often but don't make it exact (if you bring it home every Thursday, it's going to get dull - vary it up but bring new ones before the old ones die).

Rules for the gals:
  1. Help guide us a little. If you hate a particular type or color, just say so.
  2. Don't (always) be suspicious. Yes, we do buy flowers because we care, not just because we do something wrong.
  3. Appreciate. We know you do, but just say fanfare, just a thank you and a kiss will do.
Flowers, despite being perishable, are relatively cheap and they can completely change a room, make your woman smile (often), and just create something that other things can't do. It doesn't mean you can stop doing other things, but it adds to the repertoire.

Which reminds me, I better stop on the way home...

Images by MadeForJen


Steak Salad

I've done a whole slew of steak salads. The other day, Jen was craving a ni├žoise but we had no tuna in the fridge - but we did have a nice sirloin - so this is what came out of it.

Mine I made in a slightly different order.

The base is boiled Yukon gold potatoes. We topped this with layered arugula, haricots vert (green beans), grape tomatos, and shoots. For the dressing, we made a homemade mayonnaise base (beat an egg yolk and 2 Tb champagne vinegar, then emulsify with olive oil) then added finely chopped chives and parsley to make it the traditional green color.

Images by MadeForJen


Review: Stumptown

OK, this isn't so much a review as it is glorification of a real coffeehouse with coffee so good it will make your toes curl. Portlanders and Seattleites know it well, but even in coffee-driven New York, we are sometimes at a lack for great coffee, so it is fortunate that there is one.

Cappuccinos at Stumptown Coffee in the Ace Hotel
18 West 29th Street
New York, NY 10001

Image by MadeForJen


Modern BLT

A modern take on the classic BLT.

Crisp strips, pea shoots, grape tomatos, red onion slivers, and dollops of mayo on a soft whole wheat challah.

Images by MadeForJen


Pain Perdu Dessert

I made this for dessert last week. It came to me after watching too many episodes of "Chopped" on Food Network.

"Pain perdu" is the French term for French toast (literally, "lost bread"). It is a staple for all culinary students (myself included) and has started to show up more and more as a dessert base.  Here I used a whole wheat challah, which has a nice, fluffy texture and slight sweetness.  The egg wash had a splash of almond milk and vanilla.

To dress is up, we used ripe black Mission figs drizzled with a melted 85% dark chocolate and then garnished with 2 slices of dark chocolate bacon strips. Yes, bacon. So basically, it's a grown-up take on breakfast as a dessert. Lots of textures, and wide flavor profile. Yum!

2 challah buns (Zomick brand in this case)
2 medium eggs
1/2 C almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 figs
2oz dark chocolate (70%)
1 tsp butter
1 Tb almond milk (additional)

Mix the eggs, milk and vanilla well in a shallow bowl. Slice the challah top to bottom - each bun should yield 3 slices. soak in egg mix for about 30 seconds per side. Heat 1 Tb oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Gently place the bread into the pan and cook until just browning, then turn and repeat.

Meanwhile, heat the chocolate, butter and milk in a glass measuring cup or bowl in the microwave on high for 12 seconds. Remove and use a spoon to mix and melt the chocolate. If not quite hot enough, run for an additional 10 seconds only and try again.  Too much microwave will burn the chocolate quickly.

Serve with cut figs, drizzled with chocolate and a side of bacon - it's breakfast updated for dessert!

Image by MadeForJen