souped-up seaweed salad

seaweed salad on tableI love seaweed salad — I always order it when I eat sushi — but I had never made it at home. Until Saturday. I was admittedly nervous about how it would turn out, even though I asked for very specific advice from the guys working the sushi counter at Whole Foods when I went to do my grocery shopping. They said it expands when you place the seaweed in water — and it does, big time — so two packages each of red and green seaweed was more than enough for my 8-person dinner party.

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darcey’s corn + black bean dip

dip aloneNeed a simple, healthy appetizer for your dinner party this weekend? Having some friends over for drinks and want to put something out for them to eat, without slaving over a whole smorgasbord? Sick of the same old cheese platter? Behold, your solution: Darcey’s Corn and Black Bean Dip. Though to be fair, it’s actually Darcey’s Aunt Sue’s Corn and Black Bean Dip — but that’s a mouthful, and you need room to eat!

I’m here all week.

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arugula, fennel, grapefruit + pine nuts salad

arugula grapefruit saladFor my dinner party last weekend I wanted a light salad course — something easy to assemble, but also healthy and refreshing — to come before the main course (cioppino, a fish stew), so I came up with this combination. Massaging the arugula in olive oil and lemon takes the bite out of it and also gives it a nice, smooth texture. Besides: what’s cooking without getting your hands a little dirty?

Since I was busy prepping the stew, I didn’t have time to toast the pine nuts, but I bet that would add a lot more flavor. I’d also shave the fennel next time, instead of chopping — so I’m moving that good ‘ol mandoline back to the top of my TV Dinner shopping list.

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fish tacos with simple slaw + avocado cream (dinner party, part 5)

taco MAIN 1I’ve wanted to make a fish taco dinner party since we moved into the LoveNest in September. I’ve scoured for recipes, marinades, toppings, and finally found this one on Love & Lemons which sounded absolutely divine. Sure, there seemed to be a long grocery list and a lot of prep time — but it seemed worth it.

The payoff? B not only told me this was his favorite dinner party meal yet, but he also confessed this: “I realized this was going to be my first time ever having tacos without cheese — and I was nervous — but they really didn’t need it. The slaw and avocado cream were more than enough flavor.”

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mango, cucumber, jicama salad (dinner party, part 3)

salad in bowlAs soon as the snow started falling last Friday night I was dreaming about the beach. Fine, the food at the beach – Rockaway Taco to be exact — and their famous salad served in a ziploc bag. It is so simple and divine — long spears of cucumber, mango and jicama swimming in a citrus chile dressing. I thought I could recreate it in the same vein and serve it in individual mason jars — I’m working on my dinner party presentation here — but what seemed cute and creative just didn’t seem practical. So I chopped the veggies smaller, added pomegranate seeds, and plated it with the main course.

It is so easy to make and looks so festive next to the arroz verde (green rice) and fish tacos — don’tcha think?!

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yummy seedy sticky granola

granola ingredients

…or not so seedy, not so sticky — but definitely yummy — whatever consistency you please.

That’s the beauty of granola.

While my recipe is below, the best part about this homemade treat — and it is a treat — is that it is totally customizable. If you love coconut, knock yourself out and double my dosage. I know some people who add vanilla extract — that sounds delicious too. I’ve also read recipes that call for egg whites (to thicken and hold), cinnamon, nutmeg or even chocolate. So play with different spices, seeds and extras — see what you like — then let me know what you use, I always love trying new concoctions.

I know what you’re thinking now — this sounds like a lot of work, can’t I just buy granola in a store? Sure. But it’s not a lot of work, I promise — in fact, it’s the easiest thing you’ll ever make. PLUS, making your own is less expensive, so much healthier (the store-bought kinds are often loaded with sugar) and infinitely more delicious.

And you can make a huge batch that will last a month in an air-tight container. I always do — half for work, half for home — so I can eat it for breakfast or a snack. [I prefer mine with vanilla coconut milk yogurt and fresh berries.]

This time, I even made enough to bring a jar to my fabulous friend, Brew PR Queen @brooke, who had us over for a Super Bowl party yesterday. [jar + twine from the container store, a piece of a postcard -- and voila -- perfect hostess gift!]

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sauce for @samsifton

ginger scallion sauce iphotoIt all started with a tweet — as most things do these days. It was a rave review of a sauce. I clicked. I read. I retweeted it, adding that I couldn’t wait to make it myself. Enter Mister Sam Sifton. He clicks my tweet. He reads it. He retweets it, adding the necessary context. I then reply, offering to make him a jar. And so here we are.

Sounds simple enough — or maybe I’ve just made a short story long, as my parents have always said is a gift of mine — but here’s the thing. Sam used to be the restaurant critic of the New York Times. Sam hangs out and cooks with Mark Bittman. Sam wrote a book about how to cook Thanksgiving dinner properly.

I had basically volunteered to sew a dress and have it judged on the runway at Prada’s spring fashion show.

momofuku sauce

So I made two batches, studied Google images of others’ ginger scallion sauce, and even ate at Momofuku in Toronto — twice in one weekend! — to fully grasp the flavor and texture. (It’s pictured over on the right.) In the end I decided to put it in a pretty jar affixed with a handwritten neon label. Cuteness is the best distraction.
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where’s B? beets me.

leeks beets carrots final

Since B is at work writing his second Page One story in two days (I know, he’s somethin) I’m testing out  a new veggie recipe here in the lovenest. My mom cut this out of the Philadelphia Inquirer for me while I was home last week and I’ve been wanting to adapt it a bit — more veggies, more flavor — so tonight’s the night. If B were here, I would’ve cooked a piece of fish alongside this — any kind, really — so my man gets his protein. But it’s just me! No one else to worry about! So you know what that means, right? While he’s hunkered down writing a follow up to this Al Gore/Al Jazeera story [feign your intrigue here] it’s time for me to live on the edge. And what says wild, crazy, sexy more than a girl home alone, in her sweaty Lululemon, oven-braising some veggies? Exactly. Best part about this recipe is that you really can’t screw it up — it’s so simple — and so healthy, too.

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