Announcement: Max and Alex on Chopped Junior
Sep 29th, 2017 by Katekoster

Thanks for all of you who watched us compete on Chopped Junior on Food Network on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 at 8:00 PM.   We were thrilled to compete to raise awareness (and hopefully money) for Action Against Hunger, an international hunger relief charity that we have supported since we first won a prize for our website domain name:  If you want to find out more about Action Against Hunger, or donate to this charity, please click HERE.  But if you just want to see what we cooked this week, scroll down to the next blog entry! 


As you may know, we (Max and Alex…the kids) started cooking dinner for our family once a week back in 2015.  We realized how fun it was too cook and we wanted to share our experiences (and encourage kids to cook), so we started this website.  We also randomly entered the website in a national domain name contest.  Amazingly enough we won the contest and $35,000!  Click here for more about the story of our domain name.


But because we have plenty to eat, and millions of people around the world don’t, we donated half of our prize ($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

We hope you enjoyed watching us compete on Chopped Junior and we hope you are inspired to cook more.  Let’s all try to take the time to enjoy what we cook together. And, at least for our family, let’s be thankful for what we have and try to help those in need.


Sunday, November 11, 2017: Lamb Ragu, Kale & Pumpkin Pie
Nov 16th, 2017 by Katekoster

Today I (Alex) was in charge because Max had to study for a big biology exam.  I was really in the mood for lamb but didn’t have a lot of time so I decided to make lamb ragu.  It tastes great and doesn’t take nearly as long as most other bolognese or ragus because the lamb already has so much flavor.  For vegetables, I just sauteed fresh kale in olive oil and salt and pepper.  And then mom and I worked together on a pumpkin pie (since it’s almost Thanksgiving!)

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The ingredients for the lamb ragu are very simple:

1 pound ground lamb

1 small onion chopped fine

1 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup pecorino romano

1/2 cup cream or milk (we prefer milk)

12 oz. dried pasta (fresh is good if you have it)

2 Tablespoons olive oil


First you sautee the chopped onion in the olive oil until translucent.  Then you add the ground lamb and break it up.  Cook until no longer pink. At this point if there seems like a lot of oil in the pan, remove 1 or 2 tablespoons of it (depending on the fat content of your ground lamb, it may create a little too much oil.).  Start salted water boiling for pasta. Then add the chopped tomatoes and simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes.  When pasta is cooked, stir in 1/2 cup milk to the pasta sauce, combine with the pasta and mix in the grated pecorino romano. Voila.

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For the kale, its just so easy: clean the kale and then sautee it.  It’s amazing how much is shrinks down!

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Saturday, October 28, 2017: Dinner No. 97: Veal Milanese, Cacio et Pepe and Halloween Cupcakes
Oct 29th, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight Alex was out of town so I (Max) got to cook without her.  I made veal milanese (breaded veal cutlet, topped with argula and tomatoes) and one of my favorite, easy pasta dishes: cacio et pepe (pasta with salt and pepper).


Pasta Cacio et Pepe

The ingredients for cacio et pepe are pretty straight forward: dry pasta, butter, pecorino romano, parmegiano, and freshly ground pepper.  We used perciatelli No. 6 pasta (which is a medium size tube of pasta: it’s pretty cool because the buttery cheesey sauce gets inside of it).  Essentially you cook the pasta and then melt a lot of butter, add the cooked pasta, along with some pasta water and then mix in your grated romano and parmigiano cheese.  Final step, lots of freshly ground pepper.  DON’T add salt until you have tasted it (the pecorino romano can be super salty and if you just add salt without tasting the pasta, it can way toor salty.  (Sorry there aren’t more pictures, but it was just me and I forgot to take photos of the boiling water…)


Veal Milanese

For the Veal Milanese, I did a classic breading mix: first dip in flour, then in a mix of egg and milk, and finally in panko breadcrumbs mixed with grated parmesan.  Then I sauteed them on top of the stove for one minute each side (till brown) and finished them in the oven for 20 minutes.  To plate I squeezed a slice of lemon on top of the cutlet and then topped with argula and chopped grape tomatoes.  I had never had veal before and while I liked it, honestly I think I like breaded chicken better.  The veal was much chewier than chicken (but also had more taste, which was a plus).

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For dessert, we had Halloween cupcakes (mom made the cupcakes; I decorated them) and chocolate chunk cookies (Alex made those yesterday…and unfortunately she gave most of them to her soccer team!! Fortunately mom set aside a few for us.)

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Sunday, October 22, 2017: Dinner No. 96: Classic Rack of Lamb
Oct 26th, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight we really wanted lamb lollipop chops (the ones that have a long handle, like a lollipop) so we decided to make a classic rack of lamb (with salad and couscous on the side)


Although it takes a little planning, the actual recipe and cooking for a rack of lamb is very simple.  First buy your racks of lamb.  We bought two racks, each about 8 chops, and that was plenty for our family of four.  Then you prepare a simple marinade.  Ours was just chopped garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil.  If you had fresh rosemary or thyme that would be a good addition too.  You salt & pepper the lamb, rub the chopped garlic (and herbs if you have them) into the lamb and then put the lamb in a ziplock bag with olive oil (and squeeze as much air as you can out of them.)

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You let the lamb sit in the marinade (in the plastic bag) for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours at room temperature.  You want the lamb to come to room temperature BEFORE you cook it.  Then you score the fat side of the lamb and put it fat side down on aluminum foil.  We wrapped the bone handles in foil too, so they wouldn’t burn. You cook the lamb for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, before lowering the heat to 300 degrees for another 10-15 minutes.  (Check temperature with a meat thermometer: we cooked it to 135 degrees for medium rare.)  Let sit for at least 10 minutes and then cut the lamb chops away from the rack.

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We also made couscous and a frisee salad (with pancetta, walnuts, goat cheese, and fried egg).  For the salad we sauteed the pancetta until crisp and then when the pancetta was done, we removed it from the pan and fried eggs in the left over pancetta oil.  We also toasted some croutons with goat cheese on top.  When everything was done we tossed the pancetta and walnuts with the frisee, put the two eggs on top and then arranged the goat cheese croutons around the top.

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Everything was delicious!


Sunday, October 15, 2017: Dinner No. 95: Pasta Night with Pie on the Side
Oct 17th, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight we wanted to have pasta but couldn’t decide whether to have spaghetti and meatballs (Alex’s choice) or pasta all’amatriciana (Max’s choice).  So we decided to make both.  Then, because its apple season and our friends Russ and Erica had given us some excellent apples (that they picked while cycling upstate), we decided to make an apple pie.  Mom helped out by making a pear/walnut/cranberry/goat cheese salad.  Dad was out of town…he missed a good meal.

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Apple Pie

After we made the pastry and put it in the fridge to chill, we peeled and sliced 6 apples.  Then we tossed them with cinnamon, a little sugar and flour.  If you are using tart apples, you might need more sugar but ours were pretty sweet.  Then we put the apples in the pastry shell and rolled out the pasty top.  We decided to be fancy and used a star shaped cookie cutter to cut out stars in the pastry top.

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Then we draped the star-cut pastry over the apples and brushed it lightly with egg wash (beaten egg with a little water).  We also glued a few of the cut out stars to the top with the egg wash to give it a little 3 D effect.  Then it was in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  We lowered the temp to 350 degrees and let it cook for another 35 minutes.

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Pasta Two Ways

Meatballs Part 1

For the pasta, first we made the meatballs.  This was just a quick throw together recipe based on what we had in the fridge, which included a pound of ground meat, 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, 1/3 cup grated parmesan, 1 egg and salt & pepper.  We also make them with ground turkey sometimes.  We made little bit size meat balls, and put them in the fridge to chill.


All’Amatriciana Part 1

While the meatballs were chilling, we started on the amatricana.  We sauteed chopped pancetta until crispy, removed it from the pan and then sauteed a chopped white onion until it was very translucent.  Then we scooped out 1/4 of the onions to use with the meatballs.  Then it was back to the Meatballs…

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Meatballs Part 2

So for the meatballs, we sauteed them in olive oil till they were brown all over, then we added the 1/4 cup onions we reserved, plus tomato sauce and a little water.  We just let them cook for a bit while we finished the other pasta.

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All’Amatriciana Part 2

For the All’Amatriciana, had to make the sauce: we added chopped tomatoes to the onions and let simmer and reduce.  Then we combined it with the pasta, sprinkled pancetta on top and grated fresh parmesan on top of that.

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Columbus Day Baking: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread & Pumpkin Pie
Oct 13th, 2017 by Katekoster

The weekend of Columbus Day we actually didn’t cook dinner.  This was mainly because we had family friends visiting us, and they brought and grilled SO much delicious meat for us that we didn’t need to! We had lamb, short ribs and veal chops…thanks Carlos and Valeska! So instead of cooking dinner, we played soccer (thanks Niki–we misssed you Matias!) and baked some goodies with a helping hand from Alexis (a key part of the family friends!)

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For the pumpkin pie, we combined eggs with canned pumpkin, added the dry ingredients (mainly spices and sugar) and then added evaporated milk.  Because we always have too much batter for a standard pie shell, we made mini pies and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar for extra spice.  They baked for about an hour and then had to set for another hour.

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Later we served them with fresh whipped cream. DELICIOUS!

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For the chocolate chip banana bread, we mashed 3 overripe bananas together, added an egg, and then combined the wet ingredients with our dry mix (flour, baking powder, salt…). The recipe called for 1/2 cup of chocolate chips but frankly that wasn’t enough and it should have specified mini chocolate chips.  The regular size ones were ok, but they sank to the bottom of the banana bread…the minis would have been more evenly disbursed. It still tasted good but it would have been better if EVERY bite had a chocolate chip in it.

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Sunday, October 1, 2017: Dinner No. 94: Improv Chicken Coconut Curry & Cinnamon Pastries
Oct 6th, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight we wanted to try doing something new: a chicken coconut curry, but it was Sunday night and we didn’t have a lot of time to shop or cook.  We had chicken, coconut milk, onions, canned tomatoes and a bunch of different spices.  (We thought that we had curry powder but we didn’t so we made our own: it was fun and we got to choose how spicy we wanted it.)  Some of the recipes we googled called for adding spinach, but we didn’t have that either but we did have kale…so we added that.  It was delicious and pretty fast to make.  We served it over rice and make cinnamon pastries for dessert.

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Chicken Coconut Curry:

First we made our own curry powder.  We combined cumin, ginger, coriander, turmeric, and salt and pepper. Some curry powder recipes call for cayenne pepper but we wanted a milder curry.  Then we chopped the chicken into bite size pieces and tossed the chicken with the curry mix.  We sauteed the chicken in a little olive oil along with one sliced yellow onion until the chicken was mainly cooked through and the onions were translucent.  Then we dumped in the tomatoes and the coconut milk.  We let that reduce and then added pieces of kale.  We served it over rice, and it was so yummy.  Pretty healthy too, right, with the kale?

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Cinnamon Pastries:

Usually we make these with left-over pie dough from when we make a pie, but we didn’t have time to make a pie, and mom had store-bought pie dough in the freezer so we cheated and used that.  The key to using frozen pie dough (according to our mom) is to never tell anyone you are using it.  Ha Ha. But seriously it’s important to let it thaw a little but not so much it gets sticky.  Anyway,this is a super easy, fast dessert.  Once dough is thawed enough to roll out (but not sticky), roll out the dough in an oval. Spread with soft or melted butter. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on, roll up, cut in inch slices, bake for 12-15 minutes and eat! Keep an eye on them at 12 minutes so they don’t burn.  (Note if your dough seems too stick, put it in the fridge for 5 minutes or so to harden up a little.)

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Dinner No. 93, Monday, September 25, 2017: Brisket, Frisee Salad & Apple Crepes
Sep 27th, 2017 by Katekoster

Because Monday nights are always super busy, we decided to make barbecue brisket in the slow cooker on Sunday so all we had to do Monday was reheat it and make a salad.  But because we like sweet things, and its apple season, we also made apple crepes.  For the salad, we were inspired by a salad our mom told us about that she had in a French bistro and loved: a frisee salad with lardons (big bacon bits), croutons and a poached egg.  Our take on it uses pancetta lardons, tops the croutons with goat cheese and uses a fried egg instead of a poached egg.  And we also made orso as a simple side dish.  It was a GREAT Monday night dinner (a little more work than we intended but worth it!)

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Barbecue Brisket

For the brisket, first we made a dry rub out of a bunch of secret spices, but which definitely included paprika, salt and pepper.  Then we put it in the slow cooker with plenty of barbecue sauce and let it cook over night.  We let it cool, skimmed the fat, shredded it and refrigerated it until dinner.

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Frisee Salad

For the frisee salad, first we chopped and sauteed the pancetta. Then we made goat cheese croutons and fried an egg in the pancetta oil.  Then we put it all together.  Mom loved it although we all decided that next time we needed at least two eggs, not just one.

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Apple Crepes

For the apple crepes: first we made the crepe batter (it’s really easy: just eggs, milk, flour and salt) but it’s good to let it sit a bit.  So while the crepe mix was sitting, we peeled and sliced 4 apples. Then we cooked them with a little butter and cinnamon sugar. Then we made the crepe on our crepe maker, filled it with apples, folded and topped with whipped cream.  Delicious!

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Sunday, September 17, 2017: Dinner No. 92: Stir Fry & Chocolate Lava Cakes
Sep 23rd, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight we wanted to have something healthy AND something decadent so we decided to make beef and broccoli stir fry with rice (healthy) and chocolate lava cakes (not quite so healthy). Both were delicious and the chocolate lava cakes were much easier than we thought they would be.  We served them with vanilla ice cream.

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For the stir fry we kept it simple: beef and broccoli, flavored with a little garlic, olive oil and soy sauce.  We blanched the broccoli before we put it in the wok so it was a little cooked already and would keep its nice green color (blanching is when you boil vegetables for 30 seconds and then plunge them into ice water.  We also tossed the beef in a little rice flour before hand (because the recipe called for it) but we won’t do that again.  The flour just got gunky in the wok and wasn’t necessary.  The rice was easy: we just used our hand rice cooker.

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The chocolate lava cakes (or molten chocolate cakes) were a lot easier than we thought.  The ingredients were simple: chocolate (bittersweet and semisweet), butter, eggs, egg yolks, flour, vanilla and powdered sugar.  First we melted the chocolate and butter together in the microwave.  Then we let it cool a little bit and added  the powdered sugar. (The only slightly tricky thing was we didn’t have quite enough powdered sugar so we figured we could make it from regular sugar using the cuisinart.  It worked!) Then we whisked in 2 eggs and 3 egg yolks, added the vanilla and finally the flour.

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The batter tasted a lot like our fudge brownies, only slightly eggier.  We poured it into ramekins and baked for 13 minutes (sides were firm but centers still soft) at 425 degrees. Then we let them sit for 1 minute and inverted them on a plate…Ate with icecream. YUMMMY, especially with vanilla ice cream

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Monday, September 3, 2017: Labor Day Grilled Pizza
Sep 9th, 2017 by Katekoster

Today we wanted to grill something  for lunch but we had so much grilled meat already this weekend (steaks, burgers, hot dogs, sausages) that we wanted a change so we decided we would make grilled pizza!


First we made the pizza dough: it’s really like bread dough except you use olive oil as your shortening and it only rises once.  The recipe is simple: flour, salt, warm water & yeast, and olive oil.  You add the yeast to the warm water until it dissolves, then add to the flour, salt and olive oil.  Then you form into a ball and let rise for an hour or so.

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Then you turn on the grill and rollout the pizza in a slight oiled rectangular pan.  Once it’s rolled out, you brush the top with oil slightly and fold over the pizza (this is so you can unfold the pizza on the grill….it’s too big to lift.)

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Make sure your grill is clean because you put the pizza….unfolding in….right on the grill. You let it cook on one side for 3-4 minutes (bubbles form and grill marks appear on cooking side).  Then you flip over and lay slices of mozarella on the cooked side.  You cook another 4-5 minutes and then remove from the grill.  Then you can add whatever you want. Max and I like ours just plain but mom and dad added arugula and tomato.

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