slow cooker ratatouille

Posted: January 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

one large eggplant, diced with skin on
one large zucchini, diced
one large red bell pepper, diced
two yellow onions, diced
one 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, crushed with your hand
one 8 oz can of tomato paste
2 oz chopped mushrooms

1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of chopped up parsley
1 stalk of celery, chopped

layer the vegetables in two halves, including the tomatoes. At the top, sprinkle the rest of the spices and aromatics. Cook in the slow cooker on high for four hours.


For some people, there’s nothing like scent that bring them back to a half-remembered past. For people who grew up with allergies like me, those memories come back through sound.

After dinner with friends last night, we sat around a television to hang out, and I put on a Muppet Christmas Carol on Netflix. I had meant for it to be background noise that would make the room feel more like Christmas, but found out that it was one of our friend’s favorite movies, and so it turned into the main event. A few minutes into watching it, I realized I had never seen it — I just thought I had because the opening sequence was the trailer preceding another Muppet movie my older sister bought for our baby sister on the first Christmas break that she returned from boarding school. As I watched this movie, a million feelings came back: being ten; my awe of the United States from my sisters’ stories, gifts, and pictures; watching my little sister grow up, feeding her solid food while she watched Gonzo; how special that Christmas felt because after my sister being away for a semester, I realized how precious our time together as a family was.  All this from watching the first five minutes of Rizzo and Gonzo talk and sing about Michael Caine in the late 19th century. Memory is a funny thing.

Tonight’s dessert: a mix of the recent past (Thanksgiving) and present (Christmas):  swirled pumpkin chocolate cheesecake




  • 1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)
  • crushed graham crackers (half a box)


  • two packages (or one pound) of cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup of sugar (half white, half brown)
  • three eggs
  • one cup of pumpkin puree
  • half tsp cinnamon
  • half tsp nutmeg
  • one tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 oz chocolate, melted in a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water

To make the crust, crush half a box of graham crackers (two packages from the Nabisco brand) in a food processor, then add the melted butter and process until the powdery grahams turn into a wet sand. Pour the wet sand into a spring form pan that’s been greased and press with your fingers all around to create a  nice brown floor. Stick this in the freezer for ten minutes.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend the softened cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth, then add the sugar and blend. Once mixed thoroughly, add the rest of the ingredients, except the melted chocolate. Pour one cup of this mixture to the melted chocolate, and then the rest into the now slightly frozen spring form pan. Then, add two teaspoonful dollops of the melted chocolate into the spring form, too, as though making polka dots. To make a marbled design, run a toothpick or knife through the polka dots, and create a letter L, making sure not to run the knife too deeply as to upset the graham cracker bottom. Once you’ve created your design, stick the pan in the oven for one hour. Then, remove and cool for 15 minutes before serving.


I know I already have a version of turkey meatballs with spinach, but I was looking for something a more savory, so found  a few more recipes, and settled on this one as a base, and then just kept adding onto it.  I know you’re not supposed to mess with a good thing, but dare I say it, but I think I made it even better.




  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, soaked in a splash or two of milk
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Scant handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 7 lb of chopped pack frozen spinach, thawed.
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste

Add all the ingredients, stir, and then shape into small ice-cream scoop size balls. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.


Jimmy and I had our inaugural holiday together: Thanksgiving. As a non-US native, I was a little hesitant about the Thanksgiving tradition. When I arrived in the US 16 years ago, I had never seen a full-grown turkey, and suddenly seeing what looked like an overgrown chicken on a table top was shocking, even a little vulgar. However, with it came everything that I could and liked to eat – a rarity for a then-picky eater like me: mashed potatoes, green beans, pecan pie and delicious, almost other-worldly stuffing.

Since then, Thanksgiving has become more to me than a dinner to which I look forward. It’s the cultural holiday all Americans share, the one day that families break bread and come together to be thankful. In a country where people have SO much, it has always felt right to have a holiday where you start the evening devoted to going around a table and saying that you’re grateful for what you have. Christmas has a special magic to it,  but Thanksgiving spurs that warm Christmas spirit. Thank you for all that we have; let’s share the wealth and keep on giving.

To start the holidays with a fresh, almost cleansing start, here’s a recipe of bright red beet soup.

The recipe below was adapted from The Food Network here. IMG_3320

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound white mushrooms, trimmed, wiped clean, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
5 medium beets
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut across into 1/4-inch rounds
1 very small or 1/2 large celery root (about 3/4 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 pounds mashing potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 small white cabbage (about 3/4 pound), cored and shredded
3 large cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and very finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium bunch dill, fronds only, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Coarsely chopped dill
Sour cream
Boiled potatoes, optional

In a tall narrow stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.

Add the beets, carrots, parsnip, celery root, 8 cups water, and the mushroom soaking liquid. bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cabbage, garlic, and, if using, the beet greens. Dissolve the tomato paste in 1/2 cup of the liquid and stir back into soup. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the reconstituted mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the dill, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Pass bowls of chopped dill and sour cream at the table.



-two tbsp olive oil
– two chopped onions
– three chopped carrots
– 1.5 pounds of chopped butternut squash (I’m lazy and get precut at the supermarket)
– two chopped potatoes
– three cloves of chopped garlic
– four cups of chicken stock
– one tsp cumin
– one tsp coriander
– one tsp chipotle pepper
– two cups of water

Saute the onions in olive oil for five minutes, then add all other ingredients in a dutch oven. Bring to a low medium  heat and cover for 50 minutes. When you uncover the dutch oven, it should be at a rolling boil. Turn off the heat then use an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients to the consistency you want it. Serve with a  nice toasted sourdough bread.



When I have meatballs with spaghetti, I am transported to being eight years old watching Lady and the Tramp. The moment when Tramp pushes a meatball with his nose to Lady at the end “Bella Notte” is imprinted in every Disney viewers’ minds, making Italian food – and particularly spaghetti – the emblem of romance, with the last meatball at its heart-stopping core.

I am not entirely sure, however, why meatballs are often associated with the other type of heart-stopping, too: cholesterol heaven. They’re not too bad for you, and this turkey spinach version is particularly heart-healthy. I followed Bon Appetit’s recipe for Turkey spinach meatballs because I loved the idea of getting some of my greens in one meal with my pasta. What I was additionally excited about was the volume: this made almost twice the number of meatballs I usually get from the regular non-spinach variety, so if you’re a glutton like me, this is the way to go.


Nutella Crepe

Posted: October 28, 2014 in american, dessert
Tags: , , , ,

I have an enormous sweet tooth, as I think I’ve established on this  blog. However, it’s a rare moment when Jimmy gets the pang for something sweet, since he’s more excited by say, fruit, or sushi. It’s slightly embarrassing when we walk into a bakery and I walk out with an enormous slice of buttermilk four chocolate cake, and he’s cradling a two ounce cup of gelato the size of my pinky. So when I heard him wander into the kitchen the other night, murmuring, “Do we have any chocolate?” I was delighted. I’m sure he meant something less involved than this nutella crepe I created, such as a chocolate truffle or a Twix bar, but as they say in this football-frenzied neck of the woods: Go big or go home.

I followed this super easy crepe recipe to make these in 15 minutes flat.