Bait, Hooks & Tackle

Fishing season is off to a great start. We have two outings under our belt and only one hook through the foot, not a bad ratio. Things have changed a lot since last year. Cutting worms in half, no problem. Hooking bait thru the eyeball, not an issue. Our poles have doubled in size, we’ve got some fancy new lures, and the boys are able to sit still for five full minutes. That’s five minutes more than last summer!

Although we haven’t caught any fish yet our hopes remain high. I’m ready to cook the first thing we catch but in the meantime some shrimp from the freezer will have to do. After last week’s beet debacle I needed to make amends, and I know shrimp is usually a sure thing…

Taco Shrimp w/Spicy-Lime Dip


For the dipping sauce:

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup mayonnaise

Juice of ½ lime

1 tsp hot sauce, adjust to taste

Salt & pepper to taste

For the shrimp:

2 Tbsp olive oil

½ package of taco seasoning

Juice of 1 lime

Handful of fresh cilantro, rough chopped

1 1b. Raw shrimp, large or jumbo, peeled and deveined

Lime wedges, optional

(Recipe by Elaine Studdert)



For the sauce:

Mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice and hot sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. And more hot sauce if you like it spicy. Refrigerate for up to an hour to let flavors combine. Dipping sauce can be made ahead and stored in refrigerator for 3-4 days.

For the shrimp:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, taco seasoning, lime juice and cilantro.


Add the shrimp to the mixture and coat well. Marinate shrimp for 15-20 minutes.


Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add shrimp to pan and cook no longer than 3-4 minutes per side, depending on the size on the shrimp. Shrimp are cooked when they are opaque and turn pink.


Place shrimp on platter with dipping sauce, and garnish with lime wedges. Serve cold or at room temperature.



And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Love this”

Liam (age 5): “Shrimp are my favorite, better than cheese”

Dylan (age 5): “Dip is too spicy”

Next time we are doubling this recipe!


Modern Day Tupperware Parties

Tupperware parties have changed a lot since the 50’s when they first started popping up in living rooms across America. I vaguely remember my mother hosting a party or two back in the day but up until recently had never attended one.

Last month I attend a Pampered Chef party. For those of you not familiar with the company, they sell all sorts of handy dandy kitchen gadgets in a Tupperware party format. Same idea, just different products.

This particular party was for a good cause so I went to support my friend. Prior to going I had it set in my head that I would only buy a few new things – no way was I going to get sucked in by some pushy party consultant. But she was just so darn good! As I watched her demo one product after another my purchase order grew longer and longer with things I couldn’t live without (although up until now I had).

When it was my turn to check out I came to my senses and considerably narrowed down my list. Although I still made the minimum amount required for the free ice cream scoop…

This week I’m making a dish with my brand new julienne vegetable peeler. What can I say? I had to have it!

Zucchini Spaghetti


½ Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp Panko breadcrumbs, seasoned

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 garlic clove, minced

1 large zucchini or 2 small, julienned

Salt & pepper

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated, reserve some for garnish

½ box spaghetti, 8 oz.


Heat butter in a large skillet. Add breadcrumbs and cook until toasted. Remove breadcrumbs from pan and set aside. Wipe out skillet, add one tablespoon of the olive oil, heat to medium high. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the julienned zucchini and cook until caramelized, about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


In the meantime, heat a large pot of salted water for the spaghetti. Cook until al dente, as instructed on box. Reserve one cup of the pasta water to add later, if needed. Drain the pasta and add to the zucchini and garlic. Toss with remaining olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Add a little bit of the reserved cooking water if the pasta seems too dry.


Garnish with remaining cheese and sprinkle on the toasted breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.


And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “This kind of cheese smells funny, but tastes good”

Liam (age 5): “I’ll eat a little, I’m in a bad mood”

Dylan (age 5): “I wish this was mac & cheese”

I have to say, this dish went over better than expected, and although lots of zucchini got picked out, most of it was gone by the end of dinner.

Now I just have to come up with a use for my new mini spatula!




Grilling Spree

Memorial Day marks the official first weekend of summer and unofficial grilling season. After a long, cold winter I was pretty excited to get outside and flex my grilling muscles so I went on a bit of a spree. I grilled avocado for guacamole, I grilled bacon for breakfast, and I even tried grilling fruit. But the best dish we had all weekend was the grilled pizza.

Since my homemade pizza/ ketchup was due to expire soon, I decided pizza was a must for our first BBQ of the season. Pizza is one of those superfoods that my kids never ever tire of. It’s right up there with grilled cheese and chicken nuggets.

I broke out the rolling pins (we have 4), lined the boys up and we got to work. If you like to cook with your kids I highly recommend you invest in some rolling pins. It’s the cheapest babysitter in town. They keep my kids busy and happy for at least ten minutes, sometimes, even fifteen before they start fighting with them. Enough time to heat up the grill and get my own dough rolled.

Easy Peasy Pizza


1 package pizza dough (buy 2 if you have some little helpers)
Flour, for dusting
2 Tbsp olive oil, for brushing
Salt & Pepper
½ cup homemade pizza sauce
½ cup grated fresh parmesan or ½ cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp fresh parsley

Preheat grill to high. Divide pizza dough into eight small pieces. Dust your surface and rolling pin with some flour so dough doesn’t stick. Roll each piece out to desired thinness. If dough is springing back just let it rest a few minutes and start again. When dough is rolled place on baking sheet.

Add oil to small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Brush one side of dough with olive oil and place oil side down on heated grill. Cook about 2-3 minutes until dough begins to get bubbly and is lightly browned.


Brush top side with some oil and flip. Cook another 2-3 minutes until crust is lightly charred and then transfer crusts back to baking sheet. Spoon one tablespoon of sauce on each crust. Less is more on the toppings. Too much sauce will make your pizza soggy. Add parmesan cheese and oregano, or ricotta cheese and parsley.

Place baking sheet onto grill and close cover, heat an additional 2-3 minutes, until crust is crispy and cheese is melted. Enjoy!


And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “Thumbs down on that ricotta stuff! But I love the other one”
Liam (age 5): “This pizza is GREAT”
Dylan (age 5): “What kind of cheese is THAT?”
Parmesan was the clear winner but the ricotta was also GREAT!


For my local readers:

Great event this weekend at Fairway Market in Pelham Manor!

Saturday May 31st. 1-3pm

Funny Food Workshop Breakfast Event – Bill Wurtzel, author of “Funny Food 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfast” teaches families how to create funny food art.

Register at customer service or online at








We’re wrapping up the week here with a great dip for those awesome chips we taste tested from Food Should Taste Good. My kids went through all the bags (except the Guacamole) so I used the opportunity to serve them vegetables instead.

I’ve made hummus a zillion times (as per my kids) but I’m trying something different this week. Traditionally hummus is made with tahini, which is a sesame paste, instead I’m using peanut butter. I wish I could say I had some sort of culinary epiphany but the reason I tried peanut butter is simply because I ran out of tahini! I loved the subtle peanut butter flavor; the boys were on the fence…

Peanut Butter Hummus


1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

1 garlic clove

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

¼ cup smooth peanut butter, look for brand with no added sugar

2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Kosher salt

Pinch of paprika



Drain chickpeas and reserve liquid. Place liquid in freezer to chill it.

Place chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and peanut butter in a food processor and pulse until it combines into a chunky paste. You can microwave the peanut butter for about 20-30 seconds before you add it to soften it up a bit. Scrape down sides of the food processor as needed to make sure all the ingredients are combined.


Remove the reserved cold liquid from the freezer. Add the olive oil and about 3 tablespoons of the liquid to the chickpea paste. Process until smooth. Add a little more of the liquid until you reach desired consistency, anywhere from 3-5 tablespoons. Add salt to taste.

Sprinkle with a bit of paprika and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with sliced veggies & fruit.


WARNING: There will be double dipping, and even triple dipping so make sure each child gets their own bowl of dip!

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Appetizers! It kind of has a weird aftertaste”

Liam (age 5): “I like the apples!”

Dylan (age 5): “Is this dinner?

Not exactly rave reviews BUT they ate all the fruit and veg, plus about half of the hummus – SUCCESS!




Imitation Equals Flattery

I hate it when Mario Batali knocks off my recipes! Awhile ago I made a delicious chicken dish and last month in Food & Wine Magazine there’s Mario totally taking credit for it. I knew I should have posted it sooner…

Our recipes are slightly different since Mario uses asparagus and we opted for spinach. I also made mine in bite-size pieces. This serves two purposes; I don’t have to give the boys knives (bad idea) and the one bite portion makes it less likely they will pick it apart to remove offensive greenery. Everyone loved this the first time round, so I’m cooking it again, this time with basil.

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it tastes just as good deconstructed as it does assembled. So if life (your children…) get in the way and you have to abandon the assembly part you can just throw it all in the pan at once. It’s just as tasty although not as pretty. And of course the green parts will definitely get picked out!

Chicken Saltimbocca Bites

(adapted by Mario Batali and then readapted by House of Bedlam)


1 lb. chicken breasts or chicken tenders

Salt & pepper

10-12 slices of prosciutto, sliced thin

Basil, one bunch

2-3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ cup chicken stock

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. capers (optional)



Step 1: Begin by preparing your assembly line of chicken, prosciutto, basil and flour. Cut chicken into bite-size chunks and season with salt and pepper. Stack slices of prosciutto and cut into 1” strips. Tear off basil leaves and discard tough stalks. Place flour in a shallow dish.


Step 2: Place a basil leaf around the chicken and then wrap in a slice of prosciutto. Dredge in the flour and shake off any excess. Repeat until chicken is all wrapped or your children start yelling for your help with something. If this happens not to worry, see note below on deconstructing this recipe.


Step 3: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. In small batches add wrapped chicken to pan (seam side down) and cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until chicken is just cooked through and prosciutto is crispy. Transfer chicken to a paper towel lined plate or baking rack.


Step 4: Add chicken stock to deglaze the pan, and cook down for a few minutes, then whisk in butter and add capers. Drizzle sauce over the chicken bites and enjoy!


Deconstructing: Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add the chicken pieces to the flour and shake off any excess. Add to pan along with strips of prosciutto and basil. Let cook for about 5-6 minutes until chicken is cooked through and basil is wilted. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Follow Step 4 above, and add chicken back to pan to cook for a minute in the sauce.



And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Disgusting! April Fool’s! I love it”

Liam (age 5): “There’s bacon in this guys! I like the crispy parts”

Dylan (age 5): “Can you bake more for bread for this?

No matter which way you cook it this dish is a success. Buon Appetito!

And in case you were wondering, no, I didn’t bake the bread…