Announcement: Sunday, January 15, 2023: Sustainability Sunday!
Jan 20th, 2023 by Alex Koster

Even though I love to try new foods and search grocery stores for new ingredients, it’s also really important for me to think about food sustainability (and reducing my family’s food waste). That’s why at least once a week I try to make a dinner that uses up anything fresh that’s about to go bad, as well as using non-perishables that we have around. This is more than just reheating leftovers, and it’s fun to use your imagination.

Typically I do this on Sundays when I have more free time to check out the fridge, the produce drawer, the freezer, and the cupboards, and this Sunday, everything came together to make Easy Fried Rice. The ingredients I used are listed below but this meal definitely depends on what you find in your fridge. Try to make this a weekly habit: you’ll save food and money.

As a reminder, feel free to substitute whatever you have in your fridge or freezer (frozen carrots? green onions? shrimp? red pepper). The point is to use up what you already have but also make it tasty.

  • 1 and 1/2 cups cooked, cooled rice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (but olive oil ok, if no sesame)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn (thawed)
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 egg
  • Leftover chicken from a rotisserie chicken (about 3/4 cup) (optional)
  • 1 to 1-1/s tablespoons soy sauce

Veggies: Chop the onion and thaw your vegetables (and drain excess water from the vegetables). Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat and add your cooking oil. Add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes until translucent and then add your thawed veggies (peas and corn for me) and cook for 1-2 minutes until tender. If you are using fresh vegetables — like broccoli — you may need to pre-cook.

Egg: slide the onion and vegetables to the side of the pan and break the egg into the pan. Quickly scramble it with your spatula and once cooked, mix into the vegetables.

Rice and chicken: Add the rice to the pan (and chicken or other protein, if using). Pour the soy sauce on top and stir until everything is heated through and nicely mixed. You made need to break up clumps of rice with the spatula.

Serve with more sauce sauce, hot sauce or whatever else you like.

Announcement: January 7, 2023: Pastina + Turtles
Jan 15th, 2023 by Alex Koster

For a while now I have been seeing the cutest star-shaped pasta called Pastina all over social media and after grocery store hunting I finally found a box! I decided to make it in the traditional manner and used Alex Santos’s recipe from (this recipe) which was super easy and really fast.

The ingredients you will need are:

  • 3 cups chicken broth, total
  • 1 cup Pastina pasts
  • 1/ 3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt & pepper

Reserve 1 cup of the chicken broth. Then boil the remaining 2 cups of your chicken broth with the Pastina pasta for about 6 minutes, stirring from time to time. Remove the pasta from the heat and add in the cheese, egg, and pepper. If it’s too thick add more of the broth. Serve with more cheese, salt, and pepper and enjoy!

Healthy Chocolate Turtles

For dessert, I made healthy (or at least healthier) chocolate turtles. The recipe is quick and easy and only you can probably make it with the ingredients you have on hand.

Melt the dark chocolate and let cool slightly. Pit and flatten the dates, then layer on your nut butter and pecans. Coat in melted chocolate and salt then place in the freezer to harden and enjoy! These were a perfect quick dessert and disappeared fast!

  • Medjool dates
  • Any type of nut butter (I used peanut)
  • Pecans
  • Dark chocolate
  • Salt

Announcement: Sunday, December 17, 2022: World Cup Xmas Cookies
Jan 1st, 2023 by Alex Koster

Today two important events coincided: our family’s annual Xmas Cookie Decorating tradition occurred on the same day as the World Cup finals. Since we are big Lionel Messi supporters and were rooting for Argentina, we decided to combine the two events. Also, since the final was so good (and so nerve-wracking), it was good to have something else to focus on. Pre-game was devoted to making the batter (which then had to chill). During the game, we cut out the sugar cookies, and post-game we decorated the cookies. (There was always the chance we would have had to decorate the soccer jersey shapes with French colors, but luckily Argentina prevailed in PKs.)

For the sugar cookie recipe, we use Nigella Lawson’s classic (and very simple) sugar cookie recipe.

  • 12 tablespoons soft, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

The first step is to cream the soft butter with the sugar. Once combined and pale yellow in color, add the eggs and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (mix with a whisk or fork) and then add to the butter-egg mixture. Form into two balls and then two disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

When you are ready to cut out the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Leave one dough disc in the refrigerator while you roll out the other to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out into your desired shapes. (We cut out traditional holiday shapes as well as soccer jersey shapes). I like to let the cut-out cookies rest again in the fridge for 10 minutes before baking. You should also gather up the leftover scraps of dough, shape them into a ball and then a disk, and place in the fridge to rest while you roll out the other disk of dough.

Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes (until the edges are just turning golden brown) and then let them cool completely before frosting. While we have made frosting from scratch in the past, due to our other occupation today (watching the World Cup), we used store-bought white frosting which we colored with food coloring paste. (Paste is better than liquid coloring, which changes the consistency too much).

Add sprinkles and other (edible) decorations as you like. And enjoy! Especially if you are a Messi fan.

Announcement: About
Feb 12th, 2022 by Alex Koster

Welcome to a website my brother Max and I (Alex) started in 2015.* Originally we posted about kids’ cooking (usually dinner, but not always) and tried to draw attention to the fact that a lot of people don’t have enough to eat.  Along the way, we won a prize for our domain name, donated over $17,000 to Action Against Hunger, and competed against each other on Chopped Junior on Food Network.  

Max and Alex Cooking in 2015

We have had a lot of fun but recently I’ve become really concerned about climate change and its relationship to food. I’ve learned about food’s carbon foodprint (the greenhouse emissions produced by the growing, harvesting, processing, transporting, cooking, and disposing of the food we eat).

I’ve realized the way I eat (and most Americans eat) has a negative impact on climate change. The mass production of food, especially of animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs generates a really big foodprint. For example, commercially produced beef has a really high carbon footprint because of the methane produced by the animals themselves and the methane from manure lagoons and pits. (Methane is a greenhouse gas linked to global warming.)

I also learned that food waste is an enormous hidden contributor to climate change. The United States wastes roughly 40% of its food, and when it goes to landfills, it breaks down and produces methane. Finally, the warming global temperatures and increasingly violent weather linked to climate change are negatively affecting communities’ ability to grow sustainable crops–resulting in more global hunger. (If you want to learn more about food’s foodprint, I recommend these two sites: and )

Given all that, I decided I wanted to try to change the way I eat and also use this website to encourage others to be more mindful about the food they eat (and the food we waste). I am trying to reduce the amount of meat and dairy I eat as well as try out more plant-based recipes on this website. And, I want to try to be more conscious of food leftovers. I want to try to find ways to use them in new recipes, and when we do have compostable waste, actually compost it! We used to compost vegetable scraps every week at the local farmers’ market but we stopped during COVID. Now, I’ve started doing it again and want to work with local organizations to raise awareness of the availability of compost drop-off containers in the neighborhood. For example, I found one close to the dog park where we take our dog!

*For those of you who want to learn more about the story of our website, we created it when my mom said we couldn’t keep posting food and cooking pictures on her Facebook page. When we registered the domain, we checked a box to register it in Verisign’s national domain name contest and then had to make a video about the website.  Amazingly enough, we won the contest and $35,000!  Click HERE for more about the story of our domain name. Since we have enough to eat, we decided to donate $17,000 to Action Against Hunger–a charity dedicated to saving the lives of malnourished children and helping vulnerable communities become self-sufficient. We were lucky enough to get to visit the Action Against Hunger office in New York and meet some of their amazing staff. (Below we are sitting with Alex Cottin, Director of External Affairs, and Andrea Tamburini, CEO of AAH-USA, in August 2015)

Max and Alex with Alex Cottin, Director of External Affairs and Andrea Tamburini, CEO, of AAH-USA

Thursday, November 24, 2022: Traditional Thanksgiving Feast
Dec 10th, 2022 by Alex Koster

For Thanksgiving, our family is very dedicated to traditional Thanksgiving foods: roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and something green–like a fresh green salad (maybe with cranberries thrown in for good measure). When mom tries to change things up, like she did this year by adding brussels sprouts, it usually doesn’t go over well. But, despite the brussels sprouts, it was a delicious meal.

The day started with baking: pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. We made the pumpkin bread so no one would nibble on the pumpkin pie before dinner. And, while I’d like to say I made the pumpkin bread from scratch, I have to admit that I used Trader Joe’s box mix–and it was really good. For the pie, we always use Libby’s canned pumpkin and follow Libby’s recipe.

Once the bread and pie were out of the way, we started on the turkey. We bought a pre-brined, organic turkey that we rinsed, dried, salted and peppered, and put in the oven. In past years, we’ve tucked pieces of butter under the skin to keep the meat moist, but that mainly just seemed to add to the oil in the pan so this year we went with the brined option.

We had a big bird that needed to cook for at least four hours so we knew we had some time before we needed to think about the sides. I took a break to watch World Cup soccer (strange not to be watching American football, but I loved it).

Once we were within 60 minutes of Turkey time, we got to work on the sides. We peeled and chopped Yukon gold potatoes for the mashed potatoes, chopped the celery and onions for the Pepperidge Farm stuffing, and (alas) prepped the brussels sprouts.

Ultimately it was a great, and delicious, thanksgiving… It was so nice to have Max back in the kitchen to help out again!

Saturday, November 19, 2022: Chicken and Pearl Couscous + Pumpkin Pastry Twists
Nov 27th, 2022 by Alex Koster

This weekend my friends and I organized a “Friendsgiving” where we each brought our own dish. I decided to make my classic chicken and pearl couscous recipe which was definitely a hit and also brought along pumpkin pastry twists. The original chicken and pearl couscous recipe came from Martha Stewart’s Living magazine years ago and is both healthy and delicious–it’s one of our family favorites. I’ve adjusted it a bit and the ingredients are listed below.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups pearl couscous (aka Israeli couscous)
  • 1 and 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 strips of lemon peel (about 2 inches each)
  • Pinch of saffron
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth (have more in case you need it)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup frozen peas

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add couscous and cook, stirring for
    1-2 minutes till slightly browned. Transfer couscous to a bowl, and return the skillet to
    heat. (OK to add a little bit more oil if the pan seems dry)
  2. Cook chicken, smooth side down, until browned (3-5 minutes), flip, and cook 3
    minutes more. Transfer to a plate, leaving drippings in the skillet.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring. Add
    tomatoes, garlic, lemon peel, and saffron. Cook, stirring, till tomatoes begin to
    break down (about 3 minutes), add wine and cook a few minutes more.
  4. Return chicken to skillet, and add stock, salt, and couscous. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 12-14 minutes until couscous is tender and chicken is cooked
    through. NOTE: at this point, I taste the couscous and if it still a little crunchy
    (and all the stock is absorbed), I add ½ cup of chicken broth. Once the couscous is
    tender, stir in peas, cook till peas heated through (about 1 minute) and serve!

Note: if you are lucky enough to have leftovers, it’s even better the next day.

Pumpkin Pastry Twists

For dessert I made Pumpkin Pastry Twists using the ingredients listed below–along with these simple instructions.

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet. Whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Then on a smooth, workable surface, unfold or unroll your puff pastry until it’s laid out evenly. Spread the pumpkin puree even across all of the puff pastry. Sprinkle on the brown sugar mixture until the pumpkin is well covered. Cut your puff pastry into thin strips. Grab the ends of one strip and start twisting the pastry then lay the twisted strip on your prepared parchment paper and repeat with the remaining strips. Bake the pastries for 15-20 minutes and sprinkle them with powdered sugar. These twists are so easy but look impressive (and taste delicious) so I definitely recommend them.

Saturday, November 11, 2022: BBQ Shredded Tofu/Cabbage Slaw Sandwiches with Two Salads (Warm Corn Salad+Simple Green Salad)
Nov 15th, 2022 by Alex Koster

Tonight I wanted to be really healthy and make an utterly non-meat dinner for the family. I researched a bunch of recipes and found one that seemed like it might even satisfy my dad (he likes veggies but also thinks meat should be meat.) I found this recipe at and despite my dad’s skepticism, I think he ate more of this than anyone else! Here are the ingredients for the Shredded Tofu:

  • 1 350g block extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (I used chili flakes)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup BBQ sauce
  • ¼ cup water

For the cabbage slaw: just toss shredded red and green cabbage, sliced carrots, and a bit of mayonnaise to taste.

First, drain the tofu and shred it using a cheese grater, you don’t have to press the tofu because the water will dry off in the oven. Mix the oil, soy sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder in a large bowl then add and coat the shredded tofu with the seasonings. Spread the tofu evenly on a pan with oil or parchment paper. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring the tofu halfway through, until the tofu is browned. Heat the BBQ sauce and water in a pan, and then stir in the baked tofu. Heat the BBQ sauce and water in a pan, and then stir in the baked tofu. For the cabbage slaw: just toss shredded red and green cabbage, sliced carrots, and a bit of mayonnaise to taste (definitely add salt and pepper).

I served the bbq tofu on a bun with cabbage slaw and a side of warm corn salad + a simple green salad.

For the warm corn salad, I sautéed corn with butter, chopped red onion, cherry tomatoes, and chopped red pepper (add cumin if you want a bit more flavor). And for the green salad, I tossed romaine lettuce, avocados, and tomatoes (but add whatever else you feel like).

Plating this was fun because there were so many bright colors, and the tastes were just as bright!

For desert I made low sugar, fluffy chocolate chip muffins. I made an adjusted version of this recipe.

The ingredients are: 1½ cups all-purpose flour, ¼ cup sifted cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 cup whole-milk plain yogurt, ⅓ cup maple syrup 2 eggs, ¼ cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled), 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, ½ cup chocolate chocolate chips (I used mini ones).

Start by setting the oven to 375 degrees and greasing a muffin pan. Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and once combined add the yogurt, maple syrup, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Gently fold together and finally add the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the muffin pan and bake for about 15 min. Let cool and enjoy!

These were honestly perfect because they aren’t overwhelmingly sweet and are made with whole, healthy, ingredients. They just disappeared too fast!

Saturday, November 5, 2022: Frittata with Corn, Tomatoes and Basil
Nov 9th, 2022 by Alex Koster

Today for lunch I wanted to make something healthy and light–but still tasty. I found a couple recipes for frittatas, including epicurious’s Fresh Corn Frittata with Smoked Mozarella and heynutritionlady’s Vegetarian Frittata with Corn and Tomatoes. Based on those two recipes I came up with my own version. Frittatas are pretty forgiving so if you don’t like a particular ingredient — or don’t have it, you can always substitute. For example, feta would be a good substitute for the cheese I used. In any event, here are the ingredients I used:

  • 1-1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, diced
  • 1-1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh is best, but frozen ok)
  • 12 grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded smoked mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

The first step is to preheat your oven to 350 Degrees. Then prep all your vegetables.

Next, heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet and cook till translucent (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds (do not let brown).

Then add the corn kernels, stir in and let cook for about 4 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add in the tomatoes and cook until starting to soften.

Whisk the eggs, add the milk, salt, and pepper, and 1/2 of the cheese, and chopped basil. Use a spatula to even out and gently lift the corn and tomatoes up. Let cook for 3-5 minutes on low heat until eggs begin to set. Sprinkle the top of the frittata with the remaining cheese. You can also add additional parmesan cheese if you like.

Place the frittata in the preheated oven. Bake for 5 minutes and then switch to the broil setting. Broil the frittata for about 5 more minutes, but watch as you don’t want it to get too brown. The frittata is done when it’s nicely browned and only jiggles a little. (If you don’t want to risk burning it with the broiler, you can just bake it for an additional 5-7 minutes but it won’t puff up as much.)Let cool for a few minutes before serving–garnish with extra basil, avocado, cheese…and whatever else you feel like.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

For dessert I made Brown Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandleTheHeat. This was the first time I’ve ever used brown butter in cookies and I won’t be going back. Not only did it completely elevate the taste but it also made the kitchen smell like caramel. For these cookies you will need 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1.5 cups flour, .25 teaspoon salt, .5 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, .25 teaspoon ground ginger, .25 teaspoon nutmeg, .125 teaspoon cloves, .75 cup white sugar, .25 cup light brown sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, .3 cup pumpkin puree, and .75 cup (or more!) semisweet chocolate chips

First you brown the butter by melting it over medium heat, swirling occasionally until brown bits form at the bottom. Then remove from heat and pour into a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugars to the hot butter and stir to combine. Let cool.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Then egg yolk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla to the cooled butter mixture. Slowly add the flour mixture in until a soft dough forms. Then fold in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough in the fridge until firm and place on the lined baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees, let cool and enjoy!

Saturday, October 28, 2022: Shrimp and Pearl Couscous with Harissa; Easy Banana Bread
Nov 3rd, 2022 by Alex Koster

Tonight I wanted to try another of The New York Times one pan dish recommendations and found this easy recipe for shrimp and pearl couscous with harissa. Harissa, a hot chili pepper paste with herbs and spices from northern Africa, is definitely the key ingredient for the dish and because it can be very spicy, I suggest going easy the first time you try the recipe. I also made sure to buy sustainable shrimp from Fresh Direct!

The recipe (with my modifications) is below:

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined*
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon harissa sauce (NYT calls for 3-4 tablespoons, but 1 was enough for me!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cup pearl couscous
  • 3-4 fresh garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves rough chopped (or left whole)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  1. The first step was to toss the shrimp with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of harissa (or less, if not a fan of spiciness…I added 2 teaspoons). I also took off the tails of the shrimp because who wants to chew on tails when they eat dinner?
  2. The next step was to sauté the diced onion in the olive oil and butter, until translucent.
  3. Then add the couscous, chopped garlic, and cumin and cook for 3-4 minutes, until couscous is toasted.
  4. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and cook until evaporated, scraping all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. If you like heat in your food, add another teaspoon (or tablespoon) of harissa and 2 1/2 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. There should still be a little bit of liquid.
  5. Add the shrimp to the couscous, pushing them under the surface a bit, and add the tomatoes. Increase the heat to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.
  6. Add the chopped basil (and more salt and pepper…and harissa if brave).

Serve in shallow bowls and enjoy!

For dessert, I needed something comforting (and cooling for my taste buds!) We had a couple of ripe bananas so I decided to make banana bars from an adjusted a recipe from WellPlated. They were surprisingly easy and disappeared very quickly.

  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted and cooled unsalted butter 
  • 2 tablespoons milk of choice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper. Mash the bananas and make sure this is exactly a cup. Stir in the sugar, cooled butter, milk, egg, and vanilla. Then in a different bowl mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt). Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine. Lastly, add in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 15- 20 minutes then cut into squares and enjoy!

Saturday, October 21, 2022: Brownie Cookies
Oct 29th, 2022 by Alex Koster

I was home alone for the weekend so I decided to make a small batch of cookies as a treat for myself. I found this recipe on Instagram from Tasty. The recipe below is for 10 cookies but I halved it since it was just for me. The ingredients you will need are:

  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ⅔ cup chocolate, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup dark chocolate chip
  • ⅔ cup white chocolate chip

Whisk the brown sugar and eggs, then stir in the melted butter, melted chocolate, and vanilla extract. Add in the rest of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt), and lastly, add the chocolate chips. Then chill the batter in the fridge so it hardens into a dough. Scoop the dough onto a lined baking tray, and bake for 12 minutes at 350˚F until crispy on top and slightly gooey in the middle.

Since I love both cookies and brownies, these were the perfect combination.

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa