bake | copycat levain chocolate chip walnut cookies.

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I did it. I went to Levain when the doc and I were in NYC this past October, and I ate one of their monster chocolate chip walnut cookies that tastes bready, almost, its so dense.

And then I went home and managed to recreate them in my own kitchen. I decided the keys were: very cold butter mixed with sugar, a dab of cornstarch, and a bit of cake flour. No vanilla. My process was very close to this one.

They were magical. I wouldn’t want these as a replacement to my own, silver dollar sized and so soft mini chip cookies, but I’d add these into rotation every now and again. It was a great experiment in the kitchen; one that paid in dividends.

cook | sheet pan shrimp scampi.

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Quick but delicious weeknight dinners are my jam. I don’t like to spend more than 40 minutes but I don’t want to be completely boring or entirely routine. I like a bit of variety and I like to have a bunch of strong meals in my rotation.

I recently tried a new sheet pan recipe for shrimp scampi and it was so bomb. Instead of serving it with pasta or some other starch, this recipe called for a pile of veggies like zucchini and summer squash and bulked it up with some delicious parm toasts to serve on the side.

Everything is marinated in the same garlic, butter, hot pepper flake, lemon mixture and its only one pan. Grab the recipe here.

cook | spicy linguine with clams.

I love making linguine with clams–and I like to change it up; sometimes a red sauce, sometimes a white wine one.

This one was made with some leftover tomato sauce I had in the freezer and needed to use up. I added white wine, garlic, spicy red pepper flakes, parm, and a little basil before simmering the clams in it all.

It’s a super quick way to use up leftover sauce and easily transform it. It will be exciting that get back into cooking mode once the weather turns. That’s the only great thing about losing those summer days—new dishes.

f.o. | mrs. kim cross stitch

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For those of you that know me personally, I’m a Gilmore Girls fan. Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, the show’s creators, are my heroes. The pop culture references, book references, quick wit, and well -timed and brilliantly curated music selections were, and are, near and dear to me.

And so, when the opportunity to make a Gilmore Girls inspired cross stitch that didn’t feel silly popped up, I jumped. One of the show’s characters, Mrs. Kim, is anti all music that isn’t religious. And so, it was fitting to make a sign that declared she disapproved of my music collection, and hang it above a selection of our vinyl in the living room.

This pattern took one afternoon to complete–my favorite quick project with rich rewards. It fits in nicely with the rest of my art in the living room and I like that it can be kind of a cryptic message– so fun.

cook | orange scented cod.

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I love trying new fish dishes–particularly ones that stand up to cold weather. This orange scented cod with jasmine rice is just the dish. It really sticks to the ribs in a healthy way, and the doc and I really enjoyed it.

Plus, it takes no time at all, so it’s the perfect weeknight dinner. The cod can handle the asian flavors of ginger and soy; what’s more, I always have these ingredients, generally speaking, on hand. and takes only about 6 minutes to braise. Brilliant. I think it would be really delicious with halibut, too, which is also a recommended fish for this dish.

See the recipe here. It’s definitely been added to my weeknight dinner recipes.

cook | saffron pasta with zoodles.

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Man! This dish! A new one I tried twice this late summer and definitely one to go in my regular rotation mostly because zucchini are plentiful and you can get them any season and not notice a lesser quality like tomatoes, for example.

This pasta recipe using a combiation of bucatini and zoodles (that’s zucchini noodles); I invested some years back in a spiralizer, and I love it. I often use it to make other kinds of veggie noodles–like beet strings for a warm salad or curly fries for a dish with mussels. They are an affordable and easy to use investment.

What I like most about this recipe is the combination–not losing that pasta, but getting another texture with the zoodles, which simmer in a sauce of saffron and cream. This recipe gets an extra kick, as well, from some crispy pancetta, which you brown up in the pan prior to cooking the sauce and zoodles, and adds a crunchy bit on top at the end (and some much needed fat and salt). Sprinkle with parm and you have a brilliant, and fast, weeknight dinner.

dinner | prosciutto wrapped sole.

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Some days, my only opportunity to make and produce something creative is in my kitchen. And that’s o.k. because cooking can be as creative or as rigid as you’d like it to be. Often times, I might look in my fridge to see what I might make that I hadn’t planned and come up with something new. Or, I might build off of a simple recipe idea: lemon goes great with white fish but needs fat, as in this case.

Enter this delicious dish I created: prosciutto wrapped lemon sole, baked, and served with lemony spinach and almond Israeli couscous. It was a hit, and so easy to make.

cook | avocado toast.

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Brunching in my house just got a major upgrade. I’m not always a big fan of going out with the masses on Sunday, waiting in line for brunch, and feeling too full and coma like after to have enjoyed any of it. I prefer Sundays on my back porch (weather permitting), early morning even rather than midday, with the Sunday Times, and some homemade eats. I often make quiches. I’ve tried waffles. Eggs of all sorts. Chilaquiles.

But this past weekend, I finally tried avocado toasts, which I’ve had out a bunch of times. And they were a hit.

These avocado toasts were pretty simple. Here’s it:

Mash 1-2 ripe avocados with a fork, salt, and pepper, a squeeze of lime juice. Set aside while you toast some hearty wheat bread (make sure its properly toasted, not soggy– it needs to hold up to the toppings).

Now, the toppings.

I quick pickled some thinly sliced red onion and fresh jalapeno in lime juice and kosher salt. I sliced some heirloom grape tomatoes. And I cooked some eggs sunny side up. While the eggs were cooking, I topped each toast with some avocado, a sprinkle of red chili flakes, the limed onions and jalapenos, the sliced tomatoes, and then the sunny side egg. All of this was garnished with some micro greens.

Eat, down a Topo Chico, coffee, and relax. I imagine this is best served in summer and early fall, when the produce shines and every ingredient is appropriately ripe and in season. Bear in mind and avocado it up.

cook | beef ramen.

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This entire spring has been relatively cold and rainy. Day in, day out. We need the rain, but it leaves me is quite a funk. Some of the only creative outlets I’ve had in this weather are in the kitchen.

And so, when it poured and poured last week, and the idea of walking and getting drenched to get a bowl of much needed ramen presented itself, I opted to try to make it at home for the first time. And while it certainly is a bit nontraditional, it tasted amazing and was just what was needed. Dare I say, too, it was one of the easier meals I’ve made in awhile.

Here’s how I did it.

I sauteed some diced onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and fresh ginger in a stock pot with olive oil. I added sriracha and a few tablespoons of miso paste (I feel like this was an essential ingredient) to the mix and then dumped two cups of beef broth and two cups of chicken broth into that mixture. From there, I added a few dashes of soy sauce, and let it simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I boiled some water for two six minute eggs (yes, boil for six minutes and they are perfect for ramen) and salt and pepper two filets for the grill. I wanted super tender beef and I wanted it to be rare, so for me, grilling it off for a few minutes on each side and then slicing it for the top of our ramen made the most sense.

While the eggs were cooking, I added the enoki mushrooms to the simmering broth and a handful of fresh chopped cilantro. I diced up some green onion, more cilantro, and very thinly sliced some jalapenos as fresh toppings. I quickly cooked the ramen noodles (one for each person, discard seasoning packet) in the broth, then spooned it all into ramen bowls and topped with egg, steak, fresh herbs and veggies, and slurped my way to happiness.

Let me know if you try this–and any variations you would suggest.

cook | cod + lemony spinach.

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This is a really simple, healthy weeknight meal. The baked cod, wrapped in prosciutto for a little bit of necessary fat, is smothered in salt, pepper, olive oil and baked until white and flaky, about 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

I sauteed some onion, garlic, and spinach in a pan, and squeezed fresh lemon juice and zest all over the top at the end of cooking, then served this entire dish with Israeli couscous scented with garlic and toasted sliced almonds.

Try something like this; you won’t regret it.

cooking | birthday macs.

34097125376_8f057928b0_cSean’s 34th was last week. He wanted to grill burgers. Instead of just grilling burgers, though, I had to take it up a notch.

Enter the homemade Big Mac, with three buns, homemade special sauce, minced onions, pickles, shredded lettuce, and loads of yellow cheese.

These were so easy to make and tasted just like the real deal, only I made them at home.

Try it sometime. You won’t regret.