Reimagining the Holiday Leftovers for the Ride Home

I am such a sucker for studies about kids’ behaviors. The footage of a little girl trying to avoid eating a marshmallow? Empathy tests involving a room of toddlers? Aw, such charming little subjects. One such study that has stuck with me for years was watching preschoolers choose a sticker-festooned rock over a cupcake. (Say what?!)

What researchers set out to prove was that kids prefer foods bearing the likeness of characters, particularly familiar ones. I didn’t have children at the time, but I remember filing it away: “Stickers on carrots! Stickers on broccoli!”

With Thanksgiving approaching, I was thinking about how to get the visual-appeal-voodoo working on all of us for that post-holiday car ride home. After all, snacking in the back seat is the most sure-fire solution to keeping little ones entertained.

Next: work with what you have. I think we all love leftovers. (Turkey sandwiches with apples, cranberries, and cheese, anyone? Pumpkin pie for breakfast?) But there comes a time when you want to make some healthier choices—at least until the December holidays hit.

The raw ingredients for most Thanksgiving feasts are thankfully quite healthy, (think celery, apples, baked root vegetables, brussels sprouts, nuts… and turkey!), and you’re likely to have some yams left that didn’t get a marshmallow treatment. Hudson isn’t so sure about brussels sprouts, but the celery is a big hit because it’s so loud! (He thinks we can hear it crunching as loudly as he does in his ears, which amounts to lots of laughs when we make a game of pretending we can’t hear the radio.)

And finally: Make it pretty! Sure the stickers work on the preschooler in the back, but I’m also about ten times more excited about a snack tray that’s colorful and neatly arranged.

NYC: Where to Eat (Manhattan Edition)?

After saying (over and over again) that I was planning to share some of my NYC favorites, it’s finally happening. This has been one of my most requested posts and something I’ve been meaning to do for much longer than I care to admit, so it only makes sense to start with my favorite thing about this incredible city: the food.

I often judge a restaurant by asking myself “am I excited to come back here?” and if the answer is yes, the place is a winner in my eyes. I’ve eaten at many, many restaurants in the city, and more often or not, I don’t return. It doesn’t always mean that I didn’t enjoy it, but rather, there are so many places to try and after a while, they begin to blend together. But then there are those special haunts that make such an impression that I can not wait to go back. With that said, I’m excited to share with you my absolute favorites in Manhattan (Brooklyn portion coming soon).

*Disclaimer: I have not included any pizza places as I will have a whole other post dedicated to that alone. Naturally!

I’m not one of those New Yorkers who’s a chef snob, but I do know that this is my favorite Jean Georges restaurant and easily one of my favorites in the city. It’s pretty difficult to get a reservation, but when you do, you’re in for a treat. The atmosphere is loud and lively, the interior is airy and beautiful and if you happen to be on a bad date, the people watching will  easily keep you entertained. While everything on the menu is delicious, the crab toast appetizer and sundae with salted caramel ice cream (pictured above) make my mouth water just thinking about them. It’s my favorite way to start and end the meal here.

Tip: If you’re not patient enough to wait a month before getting a prime time reservation, it’s fairly easy to get an early or late dinner seating (5:30 or 10 PM; then again, that goes for basically any restaurant in the city).

What Quick Dinners Do You Make at Home?

What do you make on those nights when you’re tired, starving and just want something yummy before watching Homeland? We’re super basic cooks, so we’ve come up with a rotation of quick meals. We usually turn to Real Simple, since their recipes are legitimately easy with only a few ingredients. Then Alex will cook while I lean against the counter, drink white wine and chat:) Here are the 10 dinners we’ve made a million times at home, and I’d love to hear yours…

  • Tofu, Spinach, Corn and Goat Cheese Tacos
  • Pasta with Peas and Ham
  • Spaghetti with Salmon and Leeks
  • Linguine with Artichokes and Leeks (and lots of grated parmesan cheese)
  • Mustard Salmon paired with whatever vegetable you have
  • Shrimp with Feta
  • Grilled Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas
  • Salmon Tacos with Cabbage Slaw
  • Steak with Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Feta

Vegetable Chili (the prep takes a while, but it’s awesome to make for a group of friends and tastes even better the second or third day)

Back-up meals, when we don’t have much in the fridge:

  • Scrambled eggs and sausages
  • Baked potatoes with cheddar cheese
  • Big salads with spinach, avocado, parmesan, tomatoes, pine nuts and vinaigrette
  • Melted cheddar cheese sandwiches with avocado slices and dijon mustard
  • Any pasta with Rao’s Homemade Sauce. Have you ever had it?

My friend Erin introduced me to Rao’s jarred sauces a year ago, and now I can never go back. They’re a splurge, but they’re bursting with so much flavor that you feel like you’re eating at an Italian restaurant, and I rationalize that if we went out to dinner, we’d spend way more, right? They’re really that good.

What quick dinners do you make? Where do you find your recipes? I’d love to hear. Leave recipe links in the comments, if you’d like!