Quick

Crisp Thai Cucumber & Peanut Salad

A Caribbean flu hit our household in Haiti this week. First Paul, then me, now the kids. Sigh. During times of illness, my go-to comfort food is the reassuringly simple, cool, and refreshing cucumber. Cucumbers are my vegetable equivalent of chicken soup. As I gradually felt better throughout the week, my cucumber salads became more elaborate and flavorful. This Crisp Thai Cucumber & Peanut Salad, a Thai-inspired riff, is crunchy, sour,  and salty, with a hint of coconut sweetness.

Crisp Thai Cucumber & Peanut Salad

Rich and Salty Coconut Blondies

Blondies, for those of you unfamiliar, are a brilliant dessert creation that takes a chocolate chip cookie, and mashes it into bar form, reminiscent of its brownie cousin. My Mom made blondies for us growing up, and they have remained a key dessert on my easy-and-failsafe shortlist; requiring only that you dump ingredients into one bowl, mix, add in some treats, and bake. These Rich and Salty Coconut Blondies are a densely gooey treat. As many of our North American readers have cool temperatures this long weekend, consider firing up your oven to bake these decadent Rich and Salty Coconut Blondies.

Rich and Salty Coconut Blondies

Returning to Haiti & Tuna Sandwiches for the Road

Growing up, car trips were synonymous with delicious, homemade pickle-filled tuna sandwiches. In our own small family, we've continued the tradition, and tuna sandwiches are inevitably present on trips and during life transitions. Next week we'll be returning to Haiti after our medical sojourn and remote work from the US. After much road trip inspired research and development, we've honed our favorite flavor combination: crisp apple, sour pickles, fresh dill, green onions, lemon and mustard. Onward to Haiti.  

Returning to Haiti & Tuna Sandwiches for the Road

Summer Chicken Waldorf Salad

Gideon just crested his second week of life, and we are happily adjusting to the logistical maneuverings of being a newly minted family of four. We have tried to eat most meals together as a family with Madeline, and now little Gideon has been joining us. As Madeline holds court from her highchair, swinging her legs and filling her cheeks to capacity, her little brother sleeps soundly in middle of the table. Recently, I have found myself craving sandwiches, and their one-handed portability is especially great for multi-tasking with small kids. This week, with my father-in-law's delicious barbecue chicken and some classic Waldorf ingredients in the fridge, I decided to make my own non-traditional version of a Summer Chicken Waldorf Salad. I started with a classic base: chicken, celery, grapes, and apples. Fresh produce from a nearby farmstand inspired some summery additions; a smattering of blueberries, fresh sweet corn on the cob, and parsley. I cut the thick mayonnaise base of a traditional Waldorf dressing with greek yogurt and seasoned the salad before pouring over the dressing with extra lemon for brightness.

Summer Chicken Waldorf Salad

Asparagus with Fresh Herb Sauce Gribiche

Paul and I started dating 12 years ago, and quickly found that we had some pretty distinct food preferences. At the time, I professed to hate red meat, Paul loved it. I obsessed over salty briney flavors, which caused Paul to shudder. Time has made converts of us both. In fact, one of the first things I craved on a trip back to to North America from Haiti was a perfectly grilled steak. Paul's tastes have changed as well. Half a dozen years ago, when I first started making tangy sauce gribiche, I was on my own eating it. No longer. We like to make a big pile of asparagus and slather on this winning mustardy, eggy, French sauce gribiche. For the French cooking enthusiasts out there, I will note that this is my own, non-traditional version of the classic sauce gribiche.

Asparagus with Fresh Herb Sauce Gribiche

Simple Lemon Butter Salmon

We've tried to expose Madeline to a wide taste palette, including some foods that kids find tough to love, like fish. In Haiti, her favorite fish dish is pan fried local Woz fish with a key lime butter sauce. While back in North America, we have adapted Madeline's favorite fish recipe, and make this Simple Lemon Butter Salmon. Madeline likes this Lemon Butter Salmon so much her hands shake with enthusiasm in between bites, and quite frankly, we adults aren't too far behind her! 

Simple Lemon Butter Salmon

Lemon & Parmesan Scrambled Eggs

Despite living in the city, our small courtyard here is full of life. We have mango, coconut, key lime, sour orange, moringa, and papaya trees, a small herb garden with lemon grass, chives, and basil, and maybe, most importantly, two chickens. For me, having a daily source of beautiful backyard eggs is hard to beat. Since Madeline is an early riser, she and I often go out just as the dawn is breaking and collect fresh eggs for breakfast. Madeline knows what comes next and will crawl excitedly across the kitchen floor to her high-chair and stand babbling waiting for her breakfast to be ready (often two scrambled eggs and fresh fruit). These Lemon and Parmesan Scrambled eggs are quick and easy to make and packed with flavor. The generous parmesan adds richness and umami, while the lemon brightens up the dish and gives it a light tropical spin.

Lemon & Parmesan Scrambled Eggs

Easy Guava Jam Bars

November means fall back home; the smell of mulled cider, pumpkin picking, and trick-or-treating. Feeling nostalgic for the tastes and colors of fall, while sweating in the 90s here in Haiti, we created a Caribbean-fall dessert, Easy Guava Jam Bars. These easy to make, and addictive bars combine the warm spices of cinnamon and allspice with the tropical sweetness of fresh guava jam. It is a stunning match of tart bright guava enveloped in a warmly spiced buttery crumble.

Easy Guava Jam Bars

Venezuelan Arepas with Recado & Lime Chicken

If you've never tried an arepa before, you have been missing out. Arepas are to South America, what tortillas are to Central America and Mexico; a simple, easy to make, and yet ridiculously delicious corn-based staple and platform for creativity. These arepas are in a more Venezuelan style, a little more rounded and thick, and cooked primarily on the stove-top. This week we have been topping our arepas with Recado and Lime Braised Chicken, fresh avocado slices, and our Mexican Quick Pickled Red Onions. These arepas are also great with Paul's Yucatán Citrus Pulled Pork

Venezuelan Arepas with Recado & Lime Chicken

Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce

Here in Haiti, we are entering hurricane season, which often brings fronts of cool air and cloudy weather (just enough to trigger memories of cozy fall days further north). Back home, in Pittsburgh, the first tastes of fall are just around the corner. The summer's bounty of fresh veggies is still going strong, but the hint of cooler weather here has gotten us thinking about warm and satisfying comfort foods. This Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce is perfect for this in-between season: a fool-proof sauce packed with the bright fresh flavors of summer tomatoes, but warm, buttery, and comforting at the same time. This is hands down my favorite tomato sauce. Whether you're looking for a quick and easy, kid-friendly tomato sauce for pasta, or a rich and simple sauce that lets your summer tomatoes shine, this is the sauce for you.

Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce

Avocado Cucumber Salad With Yogurt Lime Sauce

On my way home from work yesterday, I passed a market woman, machann, with a pile of large green skinned avocados spread out in front of her. My bag of ripe avocados in hand, I mulled over dinner the rest of the way home. Later that night, Paul and I munched on a buttery and crisp Avocado Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Lime Sauce under our mango tree as we waited for cooler evening breezes to arrive. 

Avocado Cucumber Salad With Yogurt Lime Sauce

Quick Thai Curry Drumsticks

Rebecca and I are coming up on 8 years of marriage. Crazy, I know. This week's sweltering and humid weather here in Haiti had me thinking back to our engagement in Thailand. In particular, I was remembering one late evening walk through a night market in Bangkok, snacking on delicious street foods as we talked about what a life together would look like. One stand was serving grilled chicken in an addictive, slightly sweet peanut curry sauce. Maybe it was just the romance of the moment, but that flavor combo has stuck with us, and it's one we find ourselves coming back to in the heat of summer. These Quick Thai Curry Drumsticks are simple, quick, and perfect for a hot summer evening. 

Quick Thai Curry Drumsticks

Gourmet Hotdogs 3 Ways

Moving to Haiti, there were foods that we were expecting to forgo. Take dairy and berries, both are mainly imported, elusive, and outrageously expensive; makes sense. On the flip-side, some surprising things have been easy to find. Like hotdogs; they are everywhere. Hotdogs are tucked into pikliz stuffed breakfast pastries, fried on the street, and cooked into Haitian style gratin. Hotdogs were were even served to me at the maternity clinic, a few hours after giving birth to Madeline. In the spirit of hotdog season, we're sharing some of our top 3 Gourmet Hotdogs; where the standard ketchup, mustard, and relish are replaced by toppings inspired by our favorite sandwich combinations: the ReubenCubano and Bánh Mì.

Gourmet Hotdogs 3 Ways

Easy Coconut Baked Oatmeal

We have been in Honduras this past week for work meetings with our regional colleagues. One thing that makes our organization unique, is an emphasis on cultivating relationships and being a good host. In this spirit, our Honduras-based supervisors welcomed us into their home with delicious home cooked meals, among them a scrumptious breakfast of baked oatmeal with fresh strawberries. Not only did we stuff ourselves, but coincidentally, we had been experimenting with our own baked oatmeal recipe over the past month. Our version of Easy Coconut Baked Oatmeal is a hearty, crunchy, warm and filling breakfast. This simple to make breakfast dish will perfume your house with cinnamon and oats and is best hot out of the oven, doused in cold milk, a perfect meal to share with guests.

If you want to try out a spring-ish baked oatmeal recipe, check out our Strawberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal.

Easy Coconut Baked Oatmeal

Haitian Pikliz

It is a big week for us. Friday marked our first official day as country representatives, and tomorrow we are moving into our new house. The thought of unpacking after 6 months makes me giddy! This week's transition seems more final than the previous ones, it feels like we have finally arrived at our destination, Haiti is home. As we have explored Haitian culture through food, pikliz was our first culinary attempt. Pikliz is a beloved Haitian condiment; a pickled cabbage dish with spices and citrus notes, that often accompanies rich or fried foods. Our usual make-taste-adjust routine was somewhat stymied, when after our 9th batch, we just couldn't seem to get a consensus from our Haitian friends and co-workers, of the flavor profile for the perfect pikliz. More heat, more sweet, less sour, more citrus, less salt, more salt, add color, more crunch. Finally we figured it out, there is no perfect master recipe. This is our favorite version of our many, many batches. Enjoy tinkering with the recipe to make pikliz your own. This tangy condiment is fantastic with all manner of meathot dogsburgers, and stewed dishes.

Haitian Pikliz

Black Pepper & Lime Caesar Salad

My mother and sister flew to Haiti last week, the final visit in an amazing month of family guests. First Madeline's uncle arrived on a spur of the moment 48-hour trip to cuddle his new niece. Next to arrive was her grandpa and grandma, traveling to Haiti from Indiana, narrowly avoiding a political protest near the airport on the day of their arrival. Madeline's omi and opi from Canada made it in time to see her first smiles, and last week she met her aunt from Pittsburgh for the first time. It has been an incredible expression of love and support from both of our families as they trekked to Haiti, schlepping our many bags along with them. Each time, as I passed our little daughter over to her newly arrived family member, it was a moving experience. Perhaps it's the postpartum hormones... but there was just something about the contrast of having moved to a new place without family, and then watching the faces of our parents and siblings as they held our daughter for the first time that put a lump in my throat. So how does this all relate to this most excellent black pepper lime caesar salad recipe you might ask? My family is nuts for caesar salad. So as I paced the house waiting for my mother and sisters' delayed flight last week, I made my new favorite variation with black pepper and lime. I perfected this version over the last few months while pregnant and unable to eat the classic caesar dressing with raw eggs. I discovered mayonnaise to be a creamy and delicious substitute and swapped out the traditional lemon in favor of local key limes. This is an addictive dressing, so I recommend just going ahead and doubling it the first time.

Black Pepper & Lime Caesar Salad

Spiced Roasted Garlic Butter

We are both great lovers of butter in all its forms. Since butter is a luxury product in Haiti running around $12 a pound, we feel like it deserves special treatment and the addition of roasted garlic and the warm, sweetly spiced, and earthy flavors Yucatán Spice Rub, Xac, takes things to a whole different level. In this flavorful butter, a base of roasted garlic is mixed with the pungent flavors of Mexican cinnamon, oregano, allspice, pepper, cloves, bay and cumin. Slather this on garlic bread, meat, fish, roasted vegetables...we haven't found a medium yet that doesn't benefit from this punchy butter.

Spiced Roasted Garlic Butter

Yucatán Dry Spice Rub, Xak

Sometimes in the dead of winter, cooking needs a little extra oomph. Yucatán Dry Spice Rub, Xak, fits the bill. With a few minutes of work, your kitchen will soon be filled with warm, sweetly spiced, and earthy flavors. This easy and versatile spice rub stores well and provides a unique flavor boost to pork, poultry, fish, soups, veggies, or even garlic butter. Stay tuned for great new recipes in the next two weeks featuring Yucatán Dry Spice Rub to get you started. This spice rub recipe was inspired by Daniel Hoyer's book of Mayan cuisine. 

Yucatán Dry Spice Rub, Xak

Spinach, Strawberry, Avocado Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans

Thanks for following along with our new adventures! We recently moved from Pittsburgh to Haiti where we are starting a 5 year volunteer assignment with a non-profit relief and development organization. We will be in transition for the next few months as we complete our in-country orientation, language study, spend time living with host families in both the countryside and capital... and lest we forget, have our first baby somewhere in there as well! Please bear with us as we will not have ready access to internet or a kitchen throughout this time. We will continue to share new recipes that we've prepared in advance, and updates on our new life in Haiti as often as we are able.

Even before I became pregnant, I was no stranger to food cravings, but looking back, pregnancy has taken me down some odd paths. There was the stage at the beginning, when in between bouts of vomiting, I madly craved salty, tangy and pickled foods. For a while I ate lentil salad with tangy vinaigrette and feta for breakfast every morning. Luckily, the intensity of my craving passed before I fully pickled our baby. In the second trimester, my cravings swung towards tex-mex, and sour-cream became the condiment of choice on everything. Mid pregnancy was notable for my lack of interest in dessert, with an occasional craving for canned peaches. Thankfully for my health, this third trimester has brought a renewed love of fresh fruits and veggies. So while I recognize that this Spinach, Strawberry & Avocado Salad is in no way seasonal, I have happily scarfed it for lunch and sometimes dinner for the month leading up to our departure to Haiti. I like the contrast of crisp spinach, sweet strawberries, creamy avocado nestled beside tangy goat cheese, toasted pecans, and topped with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Spinach, Strawberry, Avocado Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans

Curried Turkey Salad

With Thanksgiving past, our departure date is just 2 days away. This last month we've had a wonderful time visiting with family and friends and saying goodbye. Now, our belongings are safely tucked away in storage for the next 5 years, our house and cars are sold, and we have some pretty enormous duffel bags sitting packed at the foot of our bed. Last night we completed the last item on our Haiti-bound check-list, and stayed up late chatting excitedly about the new things to come; a baby, learning a new culture, cuisine, language and job, traveling, hosting friends and family. Life feels pretty vast right now!

Lest we digress too long from the ever important topic of food, and with a mind to Thanksgiving leftovers, we're sharing our favorite spunky and updated curried turkey salad today. This is a vibrant and flavorful recipe Paul has been perfecting for the past year, and a delicious lunch as you laze around after the holiday. Think of this recipe as a guide, and freestyle with whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand.

Curried Turkey Salad

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Brussels sprouts are a miniature member of the cabbage family that has seen a well deserved rise in popularity in recent years; with restaurants now featuring dishes ranging from Brussels sprouts brushcetta, Brussels grilled cheese, raw Brussels slaw, to charred Brussels pizza. As with all cabbage relatives, we particularly love our Brussels cooked at high heat with punchy accents of garlic, vinegar, salt, and bacon. Brussels Sprouts With Bacon is simple and delicious; a perfect fall side. If you are looking for more Brussels inspiration, check out our Barley Risotto With Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

West African Peanut Stew with Kale

Our sister-in-law made this deliciously comforting West African Peanut Stew with Kale on a recent visit to New Haven, and I have been craving it non-stop ever since. The taste and smell of garlic, ginger and peanuts will warm you on these crisp fall days. This simple and hearty vegetarian take on the classic West African peanut stew uses pantry ingredients and works well with whatever greens you happen to have on hand. 

West African Peanut Stew with Kale

Butter Chicken Schnitzel

The first time I met Rebecca's grandmother (Oma, as we called her), she made me chicken schnitzel. This was not your cafeteria or greasy diner schnitzel. Oma's ability to transform the humble chicken breast in her old cast iron pot, into something both simple and sublime, was incredible. Her schnitzel had a buttery flavor without being greasy, a perfectly fried crisp exterior with a moist, juicy, flavorful interior. Nearly every time we visited, regardless of the time of day, even breakfast, Oma would have a fresh plate ready for me. With Oktoberfest celebrations upon us, we thought it was time to share her Butter Chicken Schnitzel. If you're worried about frying in butter, remember that when properly fried, only a small fraction is absorbed during cooking.

Butter Chicken Schnitzel

Ginger Sesame Green Beans

We celebrated Labor Day in Connecticut with Paul's brother and sister-in-law with lots of amazing vegetarian food. We left salty breezes behind and arrived back to the hot, humid jungly hills of Pittsburgh last night to a barren fridge yielding a dinner of either hotdogs or green beans. We opted to continue the vegetarian theme of the weekend, and whipped up a batch of these Ginger Sesame Green Beans we have been loving all summer. Spicy, tangy and gingery, these green beans are addictive! Check out our summer bounty round-up for other ideas for summer vegetables.

Ginger Sesame Green Beans