Monday, April 1, 2019: Quick & Easy Dinners: De Luxe Mac and Cheese
Apr 5th, 2019 by Katekoster

Tonight I continued to try and come up with delicious dinners that didn’t have a lot of ingredients and maybe could be made quickly in a dorm room or dorm kitchen. Everybody loves mac and cheese and its certainly a one pot easy dinner but I wanted to make it special by adding pancetta and gruyere to a regular box of Annie’s mac and cheese. (Probably in college I would stick to cheaper bacon and cheddar, but mom was buying.)…Anway here’s the ingredients: Grated Parmesan (optional); box of mac & cheese, gruyere and pancetta (also need water and olive oil…but those don’t really count.)


First step was to start the water boiling and sautee the pancetta in a little olive oil. (You could also cook it or bacon in a microwave).  After the pancetta was crispy, I put it on paper towels to absorb the extra oil.

20190401_190709  20190401_191422  20190401_190659

Meanwhile the water was boiling so I added the pasta shells to cook. While the pasta cooked, I grated the gruyere cheese (you can use any type of cheese here, including  pre-grated cheese if you are lazy or don’t have a cheese grater) and prepped my toppings.

20190401_191201  20190401_192226

When the pasta was done, I made the sauce that came in the box, mixed in half the grated gruyere and then the pasta.

20190401_194251  20190401_194558 20190401_194407

The almost final step was to top with the pancetta (another great addition is chopped fresh tomatoes, or my sister’s favorite: truffle salt).


And the final step was to serve, sprinkle a little grated parmesan cheese on,  and eat.  The great thing is, that in the same amount of time it takes to make a normal box of mac and cheese, you can make a really tasty version!  The only thing I would change with this recipe, however, is to DOUBLE the pancetta.



Saturday March 16, 2019: Quick and Easy Dinners: Sloppy Joes
Mar 30th, 2019 by Katekoster

I (Max) am trying to practice making quick and easy dinners that don’t take a lot of time, or ingredients, or cooking pans. Even though I still have a couple of years of high school left, I am thinking dorm room specials, that I would only need a microwave or electric cooking plate, so tonight I came up with: Quick & Easy Sloppy Joes.  For this meal you need 4 ingredients: ground turkey (or ground beef), tomato sauce, olive oil and rolls or buns.


These are the steps:  heat the olive oil and then saute the ground turkey until there is no pink.  I like to use a metal spatula to break up the ground beef but don’t use metal if you are cooking in a non stick pan.  If there is a lot of oil in the pan, spoon some of it out and discard. Otherwise your sloppy joes will be sloppy and greasy.

20190317_105648  20190317_105758  20190317_110244

The next step is to pour in a little of the tomato sauce and let it all simmer together for 15-20 minutes.  (It’s ok if you pour in too much, but then its more like a bolognese sauce, and you might need spaghetti instead of buns to eat it.)

20190317_110310  20190317_110553

Finally, you serve it on your favorite buns. Note if you have more time, you can make the tomato sauce from scratch (but I know I will be busy studying, so sauce in a jar will have to do for me.)



Monday, February 18, 2019: Roast Chicken with Mashed,Baked Potatoes
Mar 9th, 2019 by Katekoster

We were upstate for President’s Day weekend and decided to roast a chicken to serve with mashed potatoes.  Unfortunately mom forgot to buy potatoes.  Fortunately we had made baked potatoes the night before and had some left so we decided to turn those into mashed potatoes….slightly unorthodox but pretty delicious.

For the chicken, we removed the liver and neck and washed the chicken in cold water. Then we patted it dry with paper towels and put it in our pan.  (Then we washed our hands).  Normally we would put lemon slices and herbs inside (but again, mom forgot to buy them…to be fair we didn’t tell her, and since we in the country, we couldn’t just run to Trader Joes or Whole Foods to get them).   Anyway, we just decided to do a good salt and pepper of it, and stuck it in the oven.  (note the photo of the liver…we didn’t cook or eat that!).  We cooked the chicken at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes: until it was golden brown and the thigh juices were clear.

20190218_181619  20190218_181552  20190218_194728

About 45 minutes into the cooking time for the chicken, we tackled the potatoes.  First we peeled the already baked potatoes.  Then we chopped them up, added milk and butter and heated in the microwave. And then we mashed them. Pretty simple, right.  If you want mashed potatoes, but don’t have time to boil potatoes for 30 minutes: just bake a potatoe in the microwave and add butter and milk and mash, just like we did.

20190218_181727 20190218_182200  20190218_182620 20190218_194831

We also made biscuits (but from a Pillsbury package): They were very good but we can’t really claim credit.  The only skill involved there was NOT burning them


Sunday, February 3, 2019: SuperBowl Pulled Pork
Feb 23rd, 2019 by Katekoster

While Max was working on the chili for the SuperBowl Party (see blog entry below), I decided to make pulled pork in the insta-pot.  The hardest part of this recipe was cutting the fat off the pork shoulder…there was a lot of it and it took a while.  After that it was easy: rub a good spice mix on the pork, sautee it and put it in the insta-pot for about 60 minutes.  Usually this takes hours in the oven or crock pot, so it was amazing how quickly it cooked.  We served it with brioche buns.


The ingredients are pretty simple: whatever spices you want to rub in (I used paprika, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper); vegetable oil to sautee the pork in, tomato paste, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar to cut the pork in (along with water)…and that was it.  Like I said the hardest part was getting the fat off the pork though.

20190127_135118  20190127_135251

(Me cutting away)  After I finally got the fat off, I decided to cut the shoulder up into a couple pieces so it would be easier to sautee…and would fit in the insta-pot.

20190127_135918   20190127_135928  20190127_141838

Then I rubbed my spice mix on,  gave the pieces of pork a quick sautee.  After Imixed the tomato paste/brown sugar/vinegar/water mix in the insta-pot, I added the meat.  One key thing to remember when using an insta-pot is that you have to use rubber utensils so you don’t scratch the non-stick surface of the pot (we even bought a special teflon whisk since all the other whisks we had were metal.)

20190127_143135  20190127_143530  20190127_145733 20190127_145741

The pork cooked for 63 minutes, then I removed it and shredded it.  The last step was to separate the fat from the cooking liquid (so I could add the cooking liquid back to the pork if necessary).  I served it with barbecue sauce on the side.

20190127_164917  20190127_162451  20190127_165652

Sunday February 3, 2019: SuperBowl Chili
Feb 23rd, 2019 by Katekoster

Tonight we had our friends, the Coronas, over to watch the SuperBowl.  We decided to make turkey chili because a) that’s what you do for the SuperBowl and b) you can make it ahead of time and not worry about it during the game.  Unfortunately the game was pretty boring.  Fortunately the chili was really good and the Coronas brought home made guacamole that was delicious!  We also had pulled pork on the side (see related blog entry) for those few people who don’t like Chili!

Our recipe for turkey chili is pretty easy: ground turkey, onions, tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes and 3 kinds of beans (black, red kidney and cannelini..but you can use whatever kind you like.  We also added frozen corn (not pictured).


First step is to chop the onions, then you sautee the turkey and the onions.

20190203_095011   20190203_095705

Next step open all the cans, add the turkey/onions to the crock pot and then add all the other ingredients…let cook for 4-6 hours on high and, if you want to add corn, add it during the last 1/2 hour of cooking.

20190203_100822  20190203_100954  20190203_180019

We served it with rice, grated cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions and sliced avocados…sorry no photos: we were watching the half time show.



Sunday, January 20, 2019: Fondue Night!
Feb 9th, 2019 by Katekoster

Hi all, since we are half Swiss, one of our favorite meals to make and eat is cheese fondue, and it’s super easy.  Over MLK weekend we went skiing and what better cold weather/ski meal is there than cheese fondue? We also roasted some vegetables for Mom (she’s not Swiss so she doesn’t love cheese as much as we do).

20190119_182201   20190119_182107  20190119_182119

The first step was to set the table with our Swiss napkins and placemats.  Then we grated a lot of gruyere and cut up a baguette into chunks.  Sometimes we use half gruyere cheese and half vacherin (that is called moitie-moitie…or half-half, but we didn’t have vacherin.)

20190119_183439  20190119_182638

Then we cut a piece of garlic in half and ran it around the inside of our swiss pot (called a caquelon) and we added the cheese (and a little white wine) and stirred constantly.  (We also chopped the veggies and put them in the oven with a little olive oil.)  When the cheese was completely melted and at the right gooey consistency, we transferred the pot to our fondue stand with a little heater underneath and enjoyed!  You don’t want the cheese to burn but you do want it liquid. Dad (who is Swiss) particularly likes the crust at the bottom of the caquelon…sort of like a cheesey cracker.  It’s called “la religieuse”, which means nun in french and none of us could figure out why.


January 12, 2019: Instapot Chicken Parmesan
Jan 23rd, 2019 by Katekoster

Tonight we contined our adventures with the instapot…this time trying to make chicken parmesan, using another of Melissa Clark’s recipes.  The ingredients were pretty simple: chicken breasts, garlic, mozarella, parmesan cheese, olive oil and tomato sauce.   (The only fresh mozarella we could find was fresh mozarella sticks so we chopped those up.)  We also started some water to cook pasta on the side.


First step was to slice the garlic and sautee it in olive oil (on the sautee function of the instapot) ( and this was probably the hardest part of the recipe!)

20190113_190236   20190113_191203

Next step was to add the tomato sauce and the thin sliced chicken breasts…we also added some grated parmesan on top, and used the pressure cooker function to fast cook the chicken:

20190113_194629  20190113_191520

After 5 minutes of pressure cooking, we manually released the steam, stirred the chicken and sprinkled with the fresh, chopped mozarella sticks (we also put some mozarella in our salad).  We just let the mozarella melt into the tomato sauce for a few minutes  (top on).

20190113_194718  20190113_195721  20190113_200036

Finally, it was ready to serve (pasta ready too).  It was pretty good but we kind of missed the breadcrumb topping that usually accompanies chicken parmesan.  The good news was that the chicken was PERFECTLY cooked…super most and delicious.  We probably like Melissa’s  meatballs recipe better though (just being honest) but we will continue to experiment!

20190113_195744  20190113_195843


January 7, 2019: InstaPot Spaghetti & Meatballs
Jan 13th, 2019 by Katekoster

Tonight we had so much fun making spaghetti and meatballs in our equivalent of an InstaPot.  It was so much easier and faster than making normal spaghetti and meatballs and delicious as well. We followed a recipe we found in the New York Times by Melissa Clark (and took a few shortcuts because it was a school night (and Mom was working late).  The ingredients are simple: dried pasta, parmesan cheese, ground beef, mozarella cheese, panko bread crumbs, chopped garlic, one egg, and a bottle of good tomato sauce (or if you have time, you can make your own tomato sauce in the instapot thingy).


So the first step (if you are using bottled tomato sauce) is to make the meatballs: chop the garlic and then combine ground beef, chopped garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and one egg and form into balls a little bigger than one inch.  Don’t forget salt and pepper too.

20190105_183410  20190105_183739  20190105_183625  20190105_184253

The next step is to pour the tomato sauce in your InstaPot and then put uncooked spaghetti on top.  Then you drizzle olive oil on top of the spaghetti noodes and spread it around (so they don’t stick while they are cooking).  Finally add the meatballs and one cup water.

20190105_184633  20190105_184757

The you cover and cook on high pressure for 5 miuntes.  When that’s done, let the pressure out and stir to separate the spaghetti (if you have a plastic pasta fork, that’s the best thing).  Sprinke grated parmesan on top and let sit for 5 minutes and then add slices of fresh mozarella (Melissa Clark said ricotta but we decided mozarella would taste better) and let sit for another 5 minutes with the top loosely on.

20190105_190446  20190105_191437  20190105_191334 20190105_192512

Finally, serve it up on a nice plate and enjoy! (Add more cheese if you like!)


January 1, 2019: New Year’s Day Feast: Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Couscous, Salad and Brownies
Jan 6th, 2019 by Katekoster

Happy New Years! One of our New Years resolutions was to post more.  (Believe it or not, we are cooking a lot, but we haven’t been very good about taking pictures and blogging about it….so we will try better.).  Las tnight we flew back to NY from San Francisco where we had a great time visiting friends and family (and eating very well…more on that later).  Mom ran to Trader Joes to get milk and a few vegetables but there was almost nothing left in the store for New Years Dinner, so we looked in our freezer and our fridge and we got lucky.  We found a frozen leg of lamb in the freezer and even better, from our wonderful house guests (thank you Jay, Jean and Camilla!) over the holiday break: fresh lemon, garlic and rosemary in the fridge.  So of course, we thawed the lamb, made a marinade of olive oil, lemon, garlic and rosemary and accompanied it with pearl cous cous (from the pantry) and a salad (thanks to mom’s late night run to Trader Joe’s). We finished up the meal with fancy brownies.   Here’s  the finished meal:


Here’s the ingredients and the first step:  making the marinade: we chopped the garlic and rosemary, slice the lemon and combined it with lemons.

20190101_171852  20190101_172626  20190101_173042  20190101_172141  20190101_173344


Then we unrolled the leg of lamb and butterflied it a little more (so it was a flatter piece of meat that could absorb the marinade and also cook faster).  Then we put it skin side up in the marinade

20190101_172404  20190101_172415  20190101_173033 20190101_173508

Meanwhile while the lamb was marinading, we sauteed the pearl couscous (otherwise it sometimes gets a little soggy.)  Once it was a deep brown, we added chicken stock and let it slowly simmer.

20190101_183746 20190101_183800 20190101_184258

After the lamb had marinade 3/4 hour on one side, we flipped it to the other for 1/4 hour.  Then we put in on a high grill to get a good sear.

20190101_183739   20190101_190121   20190101_190655

Then we finished it in the oven (and for serving sliced it up into smaller pieces).  We served it with our yummy pearl cous couc:

20190101_193836 20190101_193839

For dessert, we made our famous brownies (just butter, chocolate, eggs, sugar and a little bit of flour) but fancied them up with whipped cream and raspberries.

brownies1.1.19A   brownies1.19.D  brownies1.19F

Final version, with final plating (sorry we missed the crumbs by the brownie…)!

20190101_171451  20190101_203054


Sunday, November 17, 2018: Dinner No. 121: Chicken Tikka Masala, Raita, Spicy Vegetables and Naan
Nov 25th, 2018 by Katekoster

Tonight we decided to try something different.  We like Indian food but not if it’s super spicy so we decided to make Indian food our way…slightly milder.  However,  we added extra heat to the veggies for mom and dad.  We made Chicken Tikka Masala with rice, raita, spicy vegetables and naan.


The first step was to chop the chicken and marinade it in a yogurt marinade for at least an hour. The marinade was simple: plain yogurt,  chopped ginger, lemon juice, cumin and salt and pepper.

IMG959029     IMG959024    IMG959028    IMG959030  IMG959032

After we mixed the chicken and marinade together, we put it in the fridge and rinsed the rice.  We always rince our rice 6 times (till rinse water is clear) and let it sit in water for at least 30 minutes.  It makes it fluffier.

20181118_164836  20181118_181552

Once the chicken was ready, we sauteed it about 5 minutes each side, and then removed it from the pan.  Then we made the sauce which consisted of:  tomato sauce, chopped garlic, cumin and paprika. Finally, we added the chicken back in and let simmer for 15 minutes.

20181118_182512  20181118_183025  20181118_183732   20181118_185524

Meanwhile, we went to work on the spicy vegetables and the raita.  For the vegetables we had red onions, green beans and cauliflowers, which we tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper.  For our parents’ half, however,  we added the cayenne pepper that we didn’t add to the marinade (hahaha).  For the other half of the veggies: just the olive oil, salt and pepper.  For our raita, we combine plain yogurt, chopped cucumbers, chopped tomatoes, finely chopped red onions, cumin. and salt and pepper. We like having something to cool off any spiciness, and mom and dad really needed it with their vegetables.  We didn’t make the naan: we just bought it and reheated it for about 2 minutes in the oven.

20181118_173525   20181118_181333   20181118_165453  20181118_170922

Everything was delicious, and it just shows that the best way to eat what you want to eat is to MAKE IT YOURSELF!




»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa