Mongolian Beef

Stir-fry is my bread and butter. IMG_0319If there is any open space in the book when I’m planning out dinners, you can bet that I’m making stir-fry. If Alexis goes out of town, all I’m eating while she’s gone is stir-fry. I’ll give my brother credit for getting me wok-ing (wok: a big, high-lipped saute pan in which one fries, stirs); when I lived with him in high school, he had just gotten back from Taiwan, and this is what we ate eighty percent of the time. In college, my first cooking job was in an Asian restaurant and I got it by washing dishes for months. That is how much I wanted to stir-fry. Here’s why: stir-frying – as a method of cooking; as a palette of foods; as a formula for developing dishes – will fill your plate with consistently delicious meals chock full of vegetables, flavor, and (best of all) cheap and easy to cook ingredients. It doesn’t take a lot of time, money, or skill to make stir-fry. Sitting down with my brother night after night to heaping bowls of stir-fry inspired me to cook and gave me an avenue into cooking (and enjoying) dinner every night, hopefully it can do the same for you!

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Pasta Carbonara

This recipe is The Happy Noodle. IMG_0302Recently, Alexis has been claiming that my meatball subs are her new favorite, but she isn’t fooling me. This is the dish I make on birthdays, Valentine’s, whenever we go visit family. This is the dish I made the night I proposed. This is the dish. And if you make it, you’ll know why. It’s decadent in a way no other pasta dish is; peppery and cheesy, meaty and creamy without being overwhelming. It’s luxurious and at the same time down-to-earth, a staple dish of our home. I’ll show you how to make it and which rules you need to follow to make the Carbonara a Roman would be proud of.

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Goat Cheese Salad (Cesar or Sweet)

Originally, the title of this piece was going to be: The Argument for Salads, because, well people need to eat more green shit. Michael Pollan has a quote from In Defense of Food that goes like this: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. IMG_0289If I had one healthy eating tip, it would be that. Mind you, the following salads are not necessarily healthy, but they are mostly plants. I made Goat Cheese Salad two ways, first Cesar and then Sweet (a.k.a. Fruitilicious). The goat here is the star of the show, but this in an ensemble cast. People get side-tracked, scared, or bored of salads for one reason: they think of them as a chore. A boring, bed of lettuce with a few toppings and maybe a dressing to help you choke it down. But it shouldn’t be that way, because salads are fun! They’re bright, exciting and filling. They don’t have rules, only suggestions. You can pack them with whatever you want (or have, in the depths of your fridge) and, for me, there’s nothing more enjoyable than unloading a garden onto my board and chopping away like a madman.

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Chicken Noodle Soup

When people say “that’s the good stuff,” they’re talking about this soup. They just don’t know it yet. IMG_0257I’ll suck down a gallon of this soup morning, noon, or night and stroll away from the table with a smile on my face and a belly full of sunshine. It’s bright and flavorful, filling and full of the good stuff – nothing else. No cream, no cheese, no cheats; this soup is all about the chicken. Top it with fresh, aromatic vegetables, slurp-able noodles, and delicious chunks of chicken and you wont go wrong. Just to start you off right, I’ve thrown in a stellar stock recipe; call it a bonus.

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Herb Roasted Chicken

I don’t care how bad your day gets, just the thought of cooking this bird will put the silliest smile on your face. Just look at it. This is the happiest, juiciest damn bird in the world and it looks like it’s asking for a hug. IMG_0233 This roast chicken recipe is bulletproof, all it requires is patience and planning. There are shortcuts, and I’m not going to say you can’t make a tasty bird if you don’t follow my steps, but it won’t be half as good. Pull a roast chicken out at a dinner party or the next family holiday, and everyone will be impressed. Pull this roast chicken out at your next Thanksgiving, and grandma will be bugging you to make it again every year till the end of time.

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Gnocchi al Pomodoro

Gnocchi is my white whale. IMG_0245Sweet, adorable little potato dumplings with just enough hold, just barely enough of that al dente snap to stop them from being mash. I have never, before this recipe, been happy with my gnocchi. I’ve made them maybe a dozen times and each time, I’ve been left with something that looks like chunky, potato pudding. Laughing at me. They’re great with just about any sauce; I’ve had them with pesto, ragu, bolognese, mushroom, and more. With this batch, I did a simple, sweet tomato sauce, but I’ll probably melt a tablespoon of butter for the next batch and eat them straight out of the pot.

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