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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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




Saturday, October 27, 2018: Dinner No. 120: Sirloin Steak and Yorkshire Pudding
Nov 12th, 2018 by Katekoster

Tonight I wanted to eat roast beef and yorkshire pudding but I knew I didn’t have enough time to make a whole roast beef.  Instead I bought sirloin steak (which cooks much quicker) and made yorkshire pudding on the side.  I also made a big salad for mom and dad (using every veggie in the fridge!). Yorkshire pudding is just so delicious! It’s like a giant pancake (or giant popover).  We always make it for Christmas dinner but it’s so good, I decided we needed to make it more often.



Yorkshire Pudding

The ingredients are really simple: eggs, milk, flour and salt.  You whisk those together until smooth and then cook in a hot oven in a preheated bowl in which you have melted butter (or if you are making roast beef, you put in some of the drippings from the roasting pan).  It puffs up incredibly (you have to eat it right away after its finished cooking.)

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For the salad, I combined spinach, arugula, shredded broccoli, tomatoes, avocado and goat cheese.  I also roasted some veggies as a side.

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Cooking steak is pretty straightforward. Slat and pepper both sides, get the pan hot (grill pan preferable) and cook away!

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Sunday September 30, 2018: Dinner No 119: Stir Fry Shrimp and Peas
Oct 13th, 2018 by Katekoster

Tonight we were trying to use up some leftover rice and half a bag of sugar snap peas.  We checked the freezer and saw a box of frozen shrimp (mom says its good to always have frozen shrimp in the freezer but she’s a little kooky).  Anyway, we also had some fresh ginger (and we always have red onions and garlic), so we decided to make a simple shrimp and peas stir fry.  (We are using the word “we” generously: Alex did most of this meal because Max was studying for a big test.)


Here are the ingredients:


The first step was to rinse the shrimp in cool water to thaw them and to remove the tails.  It’s ok to leave on the tails if you are just cooking shrimp to dip in cocktails sayce but when they are part of a dish, we think its best to remove them.  Otherwise some unsuspecting eater might swallow a shrimp tail.  Anyway, next step is to chop the garlic, onion and ginger and prepare the left over takeout rice for reheating.  Then its time to start sauteeing. We do stir fry in layers: first the garlic, ginger and garlic; then the vegetable and then the shrimp (because it cooks the fastest).

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What we liked about this meal was that it was super fast to make, used up left overs and was healthy.  We added a little soy sauce at the end, heated up the rice in a microwave and had a great meal!

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Monday, September 24, 2018: Dinner No. 118: Slow Cooker Brisket, Mashed Potatoes and Salad
Sep 30th, 2018 by Katekoster

We decided to make dinner for Monday night ahead of time (the brisket has to cook for 8 hours in a slow cooker, and then its better if it sits, so we didn’t want to try to start it Monday morning). So we started making the brisket Sunday and then finished it Monday night.  I (Max) did most of the work on the brisket because Alex was sick but then she helped out with potatoes and salad on Monday.

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The ingredients for the brisket are pretty straight forward: beef brisket, barbecue sauce, and the spice rub: cumin, paprikca, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper

You mix the spices together and then you rub it into the brisket.

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Then you add barbecue sauce (you can make your own or use your favorite store bought brand…we used store bought) and let it cook for at least 8 hours on low.

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Once the meat is falling apart, you remove the meat and shred it  with two forks.  Then you drain or skim the extra fat from the liquid and add the shredded meat back to the pot. (At this point we put the brisket in the fridge overnight). Then we reheated it on Monday and served it with soft rolls, and of course the mashed potatoes and salad.


I (Alex) am not sure we need to tell you how to make mashed potatoes but here’s what we do:  we peel Yukon Gold potatoes if available (if not Russet is ok), then we cut them into same size pieces and boil till fork tender.  We remove, add cream, butter and salt and paper and mash…pretty simple.



For the salad I pretty much took everything potentially salad-like in the fridge and put it in a bowl: that included arugula, tomatoes, avocado, goat cheese, and roasted mushrooms.  It was a good combination.


Saturday, August 25, 2018: Dinner No. 117:Hamburgers, Goat Cheese Salad and Fresh Baked Cinnamon Rolls
Sep 16th, 2018 by Katekoster

Tonight for dinner we felt like burgers and corn on the cob, but we forgot to buy corn so we just had a big salad. Plus Alex felt like baking so she made fresh bread, and even better, cinnamon rolls (that were supposed to be for breakfast, but ended up being dessert!).  Max was mainly in charge of dinner since Alex did the bread and cinnamon rolls (sorry for the lack of pictures: we were too busy cooking). However, Alex is always in charge of mushrooms so she sauteed them.


Burgers: First step wash hands, second step: shape in circles and push down a little in the center.  Next up: slice and sautee mushrooms (for topping the burgers). Burgers were served with mozarella cheese, mushrooms and of course, ketchup.

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Now time for the salad: we decided to make one of my favorites: butter lettuce with goat cheese, walnuts and cranberries.  We also roasted some cauliflower (because mom always wants that)

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Bread course

I (Alex) started this in the afternoon because it was a little rainy so felt like a good day to bake.  The recipe I made usually makes 2 loaves of bread but instead of making a second loaf, I decided to make cinnamon rolls.

To do that, after you have left the bread rise twice and split it into two pieces (one of which becomes a loaf of bread), you roll out the other piece and 1) spread with butter; 2) spread with cinnamon sugar; and 3) roll up and slice into rolls. Then you bake those.  Here is the bread rising; the final loaf of bread, rolls rising and the final YUMMY batch of cinnamon rolls.

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August 20, 2018: Best Restaurants in Jackson, Wyoming
Aug 24th, 2018 by Katekoster

We just spent 10 days in Jackson, Wyoming; Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and wanted to share our favorite restaurants:

Jackson, Wyoming:


Local is a modern, high end steakhouse on Jackson’s town square. Along with steak, the menu also has fresh seafood, shellfish, house-ground burgers, and seasonally-inspired food.

The brisket sandwich was a great dish. It was house-smoked beef brisket, coleslaw, bbq sauce on a brioche bun.  Also, the crab salad was made up of  wild Alaskan king crab, avocado, grilled corn, watercress, blue corn chips and a cilantro-lime pesto. (Mom loved it).  The pork rolls in lettuce were recomended by our waitress as a restaurant favorite, so dad and I ordered them, and they lived up to expectations. It was slow roasted pork shoulder, cabbage slaw, bibb lettuce, cilantro and korean bbq sauce, and make it your own style.

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Liberty Burger 

Liberty Burger was a more low end spot only a block away from the town square. The only downside was that they didn’t take reservations and there was a 40 minute wait for a table.  (Maybe if we hadn’t come at prime time (7:15 on a Saturday night when the 8:00 Jacskon Rodeo was on), it would have been faster.

Anyway, the Nooner Burger was one of the best burgers I have ever eaten.  It had an egg on it,bacon, ham, hashbrowns, and cheese. It combined lunch into dinner for one amazing meal. The chocolate shake was also very good…especially with the whipped cream and chocolate sauce!

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Mom ordered a turkey burger that seemed like it had more vegetables (cucumber, tomato and lettuce) than turkey so she like that. Alex ordered a traditional cheese burger that looked really good too. And of course the fries were great:

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Thai Me Up

Thai Me Up had exeptionally good Thai food.   I (Alex) ordered my personal favorite, sesame chicken with rice and broccoli.  It was a little spicy but the rice and veggies cooled it down. My brother amd mom ordered a noodle dish: Pad See EW with broccoli, green cabbage, egg, oyster soy sauce. They loved it, plus the servings were huge so they brought some home. Meanwhile my dad order the red curry which inclued noodles with a coconut chili-turmeric sauce, broccoli, tomato & red bell pepper. Plus he added shredded pork.  He ate it all!

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Hand Fire Pizza

My (Alex) other favorite was Hand Fire Pizza (also close to the main square).  It had a very wide variety of yummy pizza toppings.  In fact we loved it so much, we went there twice throughout our vacation. They had two massive brick oven stoves that made the pizza amazing (and you can watch them tossing the pizza dough in the air!!) One of our personal favorites was a pizza called Even Mo’ Bettah BBQ pizza which has BBQ sause with mozzarella, slow roasted pork shoulder, pineapples and finally japapenojs (I picked those out). To finish the meal, we had a Cast Iron Brownie with vanilla ice cream and fresh whipped cream, which they cooked in the brick oven stoves. DELICIOUS!  Also, they gave us an extra pizza just because so they definitely get two thumbs up.


Saturday, August 4, 2018: Dinner No. 117: Pork Chops, Cous Cous & Arugula Salad
Aug 12th, 2018 by Katekoster

Tonight for dinner we (finally Alex is back to help cook) made a quick and simple dinner of pork chops, cous cous and an arugula salad. We also roasted cauliflower and broccoli to serve on the side or in your salad (diner’s choice.)


The first thing we did was chop up cauliflower and broccoli florets, drizzle them with olive oil and put them in a 350 degree oven.


Then I (Max) took care of the salad. I combined arugula, tomatoes and goat cheese.

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Meanwhile I (Alex) started the pork chops. I Just salt and  peppered them and sauteed them in a little olive oil for 5 minutes each side…they were pretty thick.

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(I used a splatter mesh to protect from the splattering oil.) Then I let them sit for a bit while we made the cous cous. Finally we plated and ate!


Saturday, July 28, 2018: More Blueberry Adventures
Aug 7th, 2018 by Katekoster

Today we went blueberry picking so of course we had to bake something with them (and when I say “we”, it’s still just me…Max. Alex is still having fun off at camp while I do all the work at home.)  Anyway, mom, dad and I picked A LOT of blueberries so I decided to make a blueberry pie, including the crust, from scratch.


For the crust, you need 2 cups of flour, a little salt, 1 and 1/3 cup cold butter cut into pieces and 6-8 tablespoons of cold water.

You mix the flour and salt and then “cut in” the pieces of cold butter.  When the butter is in little pea size pieces you add the cold water and form into two balls (I was making a two crust recipe…if just making a bottom crust, use half the ingredients and only form 1 ball.)

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Then you wrap the two balls of pastry in saran wrap and let chill in the fridge. Meanwhile you prepare the blueberry filling. Blueberries are very juicy so you have to add either cornstarch or flour to absorb some of that liquid.  Adding a little sugar also helps.

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Then it’s time to roll out one of the balls of pastry, make the bottom piecrust and add the blueberries.

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Finally, roll out the other ball of dough, cut strips and make a lattice top.  Then into the oven for about 40 minutes (cover the edges with foil if you like to keep them from getting too brown), then serve with whipped cream or ice cream…too bad Alex was at camp. This pie was really good!

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