When you buy items from the Amazon links below, we get a small percentage of the sale. That helps us fund the site. And we like you a lot.

  • The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
    The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
    by Deb Perelman
  • Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients
    Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients
    by Matt Lewis, Renato Poliafito
  • Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion
    Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion
    by Alice Currah
  • The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier
    The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier
    by Ree Drummond
  • Bouchon Bakery
    Bouchon Bakery
    by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel


Spaghetti and Meatballs from The Pioneer Woman Cooks


“These are the best spaghetti and meatballs I ever heard.”

So proclaimed one of our three-year-old twin daughters. We try so hard not to laugh at her approximations, but when I asked her to say it again, she knew. She knew she’d said something funny, and we were asking her for a repeat performance. A giant smile crossed her face. She had us, and she knew it.

She brushed her bangs out of her face (they grow down past her eyes because there’s no time to take her to the groomers. Or stylist. Wherever we’re supposed to take our kids for haircuts).

We don’t talk about our kids much on here. But our son turned five in February. And one of our twins insists she’s four now, but the other twin remains steadfastly and accurately three. The fact they were born one minute apart does not faze them. These are now the facts, Dad. Learn to deal with them.

We are trying more family meals. Eating together. We know it’s important. We know they need us, more than ever. Most work days, I make it home just in time to put the kids to bed. Read their copy of Dr. Seuss’ Snow. Which they can recite with me. And then they ask why we never had snow this winter. Atlanta winters seem empty for them without bundling up and running around the backyard, throwing snow high into the air like a confetti cannon. “Where’s the snow, Dad?” Impossible to explain.

So we plan meals to eat together. Carve out the time before the time is gone. For good someday. And 99% of the time, we’re eating a family meal from a recipe by The Pioneer Woman.

We have a heavily woven Ree thread on our blog, and if you’re a long-time reader (hey, happy second anniversary to our blog last month), you know exactly what we’re talking about.

My mom is not convinced we know Ree. “But have you spoke to her? Have you met her?” she asks when we say Ree is our friend. Apparently, Mom has not seen the pictures of me with the gin. But when you eat someone’s food, when you cook from her books, and you watch the “selective” eaters in your house devour the meals, you feel like Ree is your friend.

Ree has a new cookbook out soon. We were lucky enough to get an advance copy. Scratch that...Karen was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Ree’s book, The Pioneer Woman: Food From My Frontier. Karen was one of the lucky folks to get a signed copy of the book with a personalized inscription:

“Love to Karen, who gave so much and asked for so little. XOXO Ree.”

So. She’s pretty much the best. And so is her food. So get your copy now. The food is great, every single time (especially that Spicy Caesar salad dressing).

And Ree has a recipe for the best spaghetti and meatballs I ever heard.

Get the recipe for the meatballs here. She serves them with rigatoni in the book, but our kids insist on spaghetti.

Buy the book here. Do it.


Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled Ham

We threw our Christmas tree out the front door on December 26th. Just 24 hours after all the presents were unwrapped, we were done. It may have had something to do with a comment made by Karen’s hair stylist who said he had heard you carry the karma of the previous year into the new year if you have your tree standing when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st.

We’re not big believers in karma (or much else, for that matter), but we have no desire to repeat 2011. Karen said it best when she suggested 2011 deserved a punch in the face and a kick in the ass.

And that’s why our Christmas tree is lying naked in our front yard. Best not take chances, you know, given our recent history.

So. 2012. Onward. To bigger, happy things. To having our best year yet. To planting roots in a new place. To making new friends. To claiming our current situation as our own and making the absolute best of it. Better than what we thought. To holding our kids close. To laughing harder. To cooking with them. To putting an excessive amount of Hello Kitty bandages on scraped twin knees. To knowing the entire Star Wars history better than any person should because that is what makes the boy happy. To playing a game in which to win one must feed a plastic toy dog a series of neon yellow “treats,” only to expel these treats out the other end of the dog on to little plastic toy shovels,amidst howls of laughter from the kids. To silent moments of trips to the potty with each of the twins while they are sleeping so there are no accidents in the middle of the night, dancing them back to bed and telling them they are funny and smart and strong and can do whatever they want to do when they are older. To getting older with the most beautiful woman in the world, whose smile melts me because she puts up with my shenanigans and still loves me.

To being better. And stronger. And calmer. And peacefilled-er. And more of whatever else we need to be.

2012 sort of feels like it’s gonna be our year. No matter if it agrees with us or not. It’s gonna be better.

It has to be better.

As I head up north to Indiana to visit my parents and brothers and their families, just me and the kids in the blue minivan and Tangled and How to Train Your Dragon on repeat, leaving Karen in Atlanta to have a break from all that 2011 was, we thought we’d share some love with you.

Before recent events, the National Pork Board asked us if we wanted to do a little giveaway with them. We said yes, because they’re swell people and kind and also, you know, bacon. They’ve got a great collection of recipes for celebrating,  and knowing how much we like Brussels sprouts,they asked us to take their sprouts recipe created by Jill Silverman Hough for a spin and see what we thought.

And we liked it. We really, really liked it.

Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled Ham from Jill Silverman Hough and the National Pork Board

Frizzled ham. It’s our new favorite thing. Thinly sliced ham cut into fettucini-sized strips of porky goodness, dropped into sizzling hot oil. That popping sound of the pork as it browns in the pan...there’s no other word for it that “frizzled.” A pile of sliced sprouts (the food processor slicing blade is your friend), garlic, and a fresh and happy kick from the zest and juice of Clementine oranges (they’re the only citrus we had in the house, and they worked well). Tarragon vinegar for the final punch, and the buttery+nutty flavor of pine nuts. Topped with the frizzled ham and served steaming hot.

This is a kicked up side, that while completely different than our SproutKraut, is just as satisfying. I’m making it for parents and brothers and their families this weekend while we celebrate a late Christmas together.

So Jill and the National Pork Board have a whole set of recipes for you to check out and devour. And one of you lucky readers was going to get a little bit of something fun to start the New Year right.

But. And I’m not saying we believe in karma.


To start the New Year off even righter, one of you will win the entire thank you package the National Pork Board sent our way and the something fun originally planned. Here’s what the entire prize package now includes:
That prize package totals just over $200. That’s fun.

Here’s how to enter:
  • Check out the recipes from Jill Silverman Hough from the National Pork Board.
  • Leave a comment below telling us your big wish for you and your loved ones for 2012. That’s it. It doesn’t have to involve pork (but most of our wishes do).
  • Leave your comment by January 3, 2012 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Please see the section below entitled “Here’s how to lose.” It contains the one thing you can say to automatically be disqualified.
  • All qualified entries are entered to win the amazing awesomeness from the National Pork Board and the two of us.
  • We will choose the winner randomly via from all qualified entries and announce on January4, 2012.
Here’s how to lose:
If you tell us why throwing out our Christmas tree on December 26 is a bad idea and why you leave yours up through the first week of January, blah blah blah, you’re disqualified. I’m joking. Except I’m not. I’m sort of joking. But no, really, I’m not. You are totally disqualified.

Now, go read the sweet recipes from Jill Silverman Hough and the National Pork Board and download the PDF version for your files.

And go dream of a pork-filled year.

And something better soon.

Here’s to 2012.

Remember, leave your 2012 wish for you and your loved ones in the comments below. And don’t mention the Christmas tree.

Pear and Pecorino Ravioli

Karen’s parents both fell two weeks ago.

One resulted in a likely cracked rib. 

The other resulted in a coma. 

Karen’s parents aren’t old. They shouldn’t be falling.

Long divorced, to learn on the same day that they had fallen, was eerie. And heartbreaking. 

Standing alongside your wife, as she tries to keep tabs on her mother, who assures us she’ll be OK even though we know there’s more pain than she’s really letting on...while she’s dealing with nurses and doctors and relatives and lawyers and accountants and’s a maddening feeling, my not being able to fix this. 

But there may be little left of her dad to fix.

He should be, the doctors and nurses say, he should be coming off the ventilator. His body doesn’t agree. There is bleeding in his brain. And there is swelling. And there is pneumonia. And heart failure came along like a dirty little bastard because his body simply didn’t have enough to deal with.

He went into the hospital talking. About falling down the stairs. About the neighbor who found him. About his two daughters.

And that was it.

That was all he said.

And then he was in a coma.

Best case, the doctors say, is that he will have extremely limited verbal and physical ability. 

Best case.

“He won’t be the same person he was if he wakes up.”


We were ready to rally. We know how to quickly mobilize and solve shit. That is what we do.

But her dad’s body is simply unable to rally, to gain traction on something, to pull him out of his state of somewhere else. 

And so we all wait. 


And since there is no way to solve this one, no way to fix this...we cook.

We need busy hands. Kids and a job fill most of that need. But at night while we’re talking about what comes next, I cook. Anything she wants.

Ravioli. Pecorino and pear. With fresh pasta, made in our kitchen for the first time. Perfect the technique. Make it great. Make it better than what we had in Florence. Remind ourselves of easier times, when we came home pregnant with our son.

Click to read more ...


Carrot Cake Pancakes with Fresh Pineapple & Toasted Coconut Butter Made with Kerrygold Reduced Fat Butter

Disclosure: This post is about butter. Free butter we received. And love. And winning $1500. Maybe. Hopefully. Probably not.

Kerrygold is a company we love with big hearts. We are (un)patiently waiting for them to launch their #Butterlove t-shirt. They played a key role in all of our Pity Parties (congratulations if you have no idea what those are). They’ve invited us to a little St. Patrick’s Day get together in NYC earlier this year. The food was spectacular, and Karen walked out of there with a laundry basket full (not exactly true) of cheese and butter, including a preview of two new butters they were testing. We may have also harassed their representative who showed up at Big Summer Potluck, attempting to force him to hand over his leftover cheese from earlier in the day. He said there wasn’t any left. We maybe called him horrible names, but we said it out of love.

So when Kerrygold contacted us and said they wanted to send, for free, those two butters we tried earlier this year, we said, “Yes and yes.” When they said that we could win $1500 if we came up with a super incredible way to use their butters, we wept silent tears of butter joy. Then they said a bunch of other bloggers are getting the very same butters and the chance to win the cash. Will we win? Probably not, but we did get free butter. And free Kerrygold butter = winning.

Click to read more ...


Brussels Sprouts with Gin, Pancetta, Caraway, and Sherry Vinegar (SproutKraut) inspired by Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Brussels sprouts are nature’s cargo truck for fat and salt. And now, the sprout truck is delivering gin.

Back that thing up right over here, please.

I grew up in a Brussels sprouts-free home. My dad had a deep, searing hatred for them, so my mom never, ever made a batch. I think they may have included that in some informal prenup.

So my first taste of them was roasting them a few years ago in the oven with pancetta, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Crispy, salty, and a slick coat of olive oil, Brussels sprouts seemed created to deliver everything that makes me happy in a meal.

So when a few bloggers decided to blog about recipes in Melissa Clark’s new book, Shove This in Your Face Now: OMG THIS IS GOOD FOOD, we jumped at the sprouts. Melissa’s book is also known as Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make. We prefer our title, but whatever.
(As an aside, if you were sitting with us at our dinner table, eyeing the wine bottle for a second glass, as I am this evening, I would tell you that Melissa Clark is magic and genius and probably poops kittens but this is an unverifiable fact by us, non-family members, but sweet baby j, we like her so much and her food is spectacular every time and I took her book to Brussels, Belgium OMG I am so not kidding I went to Brussels and now we’re making something inspired by her Brussels sprouts recipe in her second book but I took her book with me which was the only thing I took to read on the plane and it is full of magic and perfect writing and I want to be her at least her writing, if one can be like someone's writing, when I grow up, but that’s borderline creepy to say so I won’t but I do and also I need more wine.

That is an actual conversation you would have with us. We understand if you don’t ask for a dinner invitation.)

Melissa’s books, over the last year, have become our go-to recipe source for great food that never fails. Ever. So when we saw her latest book was coming out at the beginning of October, we pre-ordered on Amazon and then counted down the days.

We’ve made six recipes so far. Buy the book, as soon as you can. You need more good food in your life.

When Shauna at Gluten Free Girl and the Chef asked if we wanted to do an interpretation of Melissa’s Brussels sprouts, we jumped at the chance. We don’t make up our own recipes, so creating something new from the ingredients in Melissa’s recipe was a challenge, only for our lack of creativity. Go look at their version of Melissa's for realz Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Caraway

Then it struck us...SproutKraut. Melissa, in her introduction to the recipe, talked about looking at the pile of shredded sprouts and thinking about sauerkraut. That inspired her to include caraway seeds along with pancetta. Getting closer to sauerkraut with the caraway.

We decided to take it the whole way to krautland (differnt than Birdland, thank you Manhattan Transfer), at least a quick one. And the results made Karen think about childhood Thanksgiving in Baltimore. Every year, along with turkey and oyster stuffing, her grandmother’s Thanksgiving day table included sauerkraut. Whenever Karen sees or smells sauerkraut (her grandmother’s made with a nice slice of fatback), she’s transported back to South Baltimore near Brooklyn Park, not far from her grandfather’s welding shop. This makes her happy, so I’ve tried to learn to love sauerkraut

When we saw Molly Wizenberg’s
gin-soaked sauerkraut inspired
by her own Baltimore roots, we knew we had to try it. And I finally loved sauerkraut. The results were so good, we decided to use it as an additional inspiration for Melissa’s Brussels sprouts sauerkraut. Gin, pancetta, caraway, shredded sprouts, and sherry vinegar.

We ate it out of the pan. All two pounds (we made a double batch) of gin-tinged, tangy, salty, perfect Brussels sprouts. Make this for your holiday table as the kicky punch of happy.

Melissa Clark, in addition to the perfect pie crust recipe, gives you food that is full of flavor, easy to make, with a giant punch of happy. Cook This Now. And go be happy.

Brussels Sprouts with Gin, Pancetta, Caraway, and Sherry Vinegar (SproutKraut) inspired by Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

1 pound Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced small (about ½ cup)
1 cup gin
½ cup water
¼ - ½ cup sherry vinegar (depending on how much punch to your face you want)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Remove the uglyish leaves from the sprouts. Cut off the weird core thing where it attaches to the stem. If you’ve got a food processor, insert the slicing blade and go to town. If you don’t have a food processor, go ahead and slice the sprouts by hand and hate people who have food processors because they sort of suck. Set the sprouts, and your seething anger, aside.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a very large pan. Like really big. Not roasting pan big, but big. Also, it should have a cover. Maybe use a cookie sheet if you don’t have a cover.

Add the pancetta and cook until a nice shade of tan/brown and then remove the crispy pieces with a slotted spoon. Place the crispies on a paper towel.

Tell everyone that you removed the pancetta fat from the pan but secretly leave it all in there because fat tastes good and people should live a little. Not like have a heart attack, but this fat tastes good and maybe don’t serve this to people with heart conditions. That’s our recommendation.

Add half the vinegar to the pan. It will let off very aggressive steam that feels uncomfortable and makes you cough. Carry on and scrape the brown bits of pancetta off the bottom of your pan until they’re all up in the vinegar/fat swirling goodness. You’re welcome, you just added a lot of flavor to your SproutKraut.

Add in the other ingredients except for the remaining vinegar. Hold on to that mother until you see how everything tastes after some cook time.

Place the cover on the pan. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Drink some gin.

When the timer goes off, remove the lid. Drink more gin and set the timer for 10 more minutes. Maybe 15. You’re looking for just a little liquid at the bottom of the pan. Sprouts will have a tiny bit of crunch to them.

Uncover and taste. Start adding in the vinegar and some salt and pepper until you’re happy. Stir in half of the crispy pancetta.

Place SproutKraut in a serving dish and top with the remaining pancetta for crunch and awesomeness.