Fancy Cookware (and Easy Braciole)

Unknown to many people, my husband (hi, hubby!), is a professionally trained chef. The first time he made me dinner, he whipped up tacos with homemade mango salsa. Yeah, I know, pretty impressive. To top it off, that was his  “Oh-I’ll-just-whip-this-up-in-two-minutes-dinner.” He’s a foodie. I’m a foodie. It’s a match made in heaven.

Clearly, when I needed to buy some new cookware, I asked his opinion on what to buy. He let me in on a little secret: expensive cookware doesn’t mean better food. That’s right, the $1,500 cook set makes an equally delicious dinner as the $160 set from Costco (which is what I have: Kirkland Pots & Pans). Obviously, some stuff out there isn’t made well. No one wants flecks of teflon in their scrambled eggs-pass on that special seasoning. Now if those more expensive sets make you really, really happy, go for it. You only live once, right?  Just don’t feel inclined to spring for the most expensive set because you think you’ll have better results. There is a happy medium.

I have lots of favorite pieces of cookware, one of many is the Dutch Oven. It’s made of cast iron and has a heavy lid. The cast iron helps distribute heat evenly and the lid helps keep heat and moisture in. I paid about $50 for my very functional and attractive piece-from Target. I would call that a good find. If you’re in need of one, check it out: Target Dutch Oven

That being said, if a Dutch Oven isn’t something you have-or even want to use, you can do without it. Use an oven-safe stock pot instead. Don’t have a lid, or not sure if your glass lid is ovenproof? Nothing a sheet of foil can’t fix, tear off a sheet and fit it over the pot.

OK, so food. I wanted to make something fancy in my non-fancy cookware, and this fit the bill. It’s delicious and nutritious and doesn’t taste like (insert least favorite vegetable here). Best part, it cooks slowly in the oven, so you can be off doing more important things, like online shopping. To top it all off, both my kids loved it and actually asked for bowls of just sauce to slurp up. I’de call that a winning dinner.

Easy Braciole (Serves 4-6, Prep. 30 minute, Inactive Cook 2 hours)

  • 1.5-2 lb flank steak
  • 1/4 c olive oil.
  • Butcher’s Twine


  • 1 egg
  • 1/2c unseasoned gluten free breadcrumbs (use non-gf, if that’s what you have)
  • 1/2c shredded parmesan
  • half a bunch of parsley, chopped
  • handful of spinach, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c red wine
  • 2, 28oz cans crushed San Marzano Tomatoes (use an immersion blender on whole peeled, if that’s what you have, DO NOT USE regular canned tomatoes, nooooo bueno).
  • 5 basil leaves.
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325°

First, make your stuffing. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. It should all just stick together. Add olive oil if it needs it.

IMG_5175Lay the flank steak on a cutting board. Make sure it’s sitting on a stable surface-like your counter-not a pedestal style table. You’re going to be pounding it out.

IMG_5176Cover with a piece of plastic wrap.

IMG_5177Pound out the steak until it’s about the thickness of a pencil. Season generously with salt and pepper.

IMG_5178Spread the stuffing mixture evenly. See the consistency?

IMG_5179Cut several pieces of butcher’s twine. Roll the steak so that it’s with the grain of the meat. Check out the picture above, you can see that the grain (those lines in the meat) run from left, to right-not top to bottom. Tie the steak tightly. Some of the stuffing will fall out, it’s OK.

IMG_5180Heat a heavy pan on high with olive oil. Once the pan starts smoking, add the roll and brown. As you can see, mine didn’t fit perfectly, and that’s OK. About 3 minutes each side. Remove from pan and set aside.

IMG_5182Now for the sauce. Add the onion and garlic, sauté until translucent. About 2-3 minutes.

IMG_5184Pour in the wine and cook down by half, 15 minutes. If you’re cooking on a gas stove, turn off the burner while you pour. I’ve started my share of cooking fires with alcohol. If you’re using an electric range, just leave the settings alone.

IMG_5185Add the tomato sauce, basil and salt. Stir and bring to a simmer.

IMG_5186Gently set steak roll in the sauce. Bring to a simmer again, place lid. If you don’t have a lid, just use a large piece of foil and seal it around the top of the pot.

IMG_5194Transfer to a 325° oven. Braise (fancy word for covered and cook in liquid) for 2 hours. Remove the amazing rolled meat and let rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board.

IMG_5196Cut off butcher twine and slice. Pour some of the sauce over the meat. Serve with pasta, veggies, or salad and obviously, whatever red wine you have left 🙂

Left-over ideas: shred the remaining meat, add back into the sauce. Serve over your favorite pasta.



turnips + tantrums team

Cheat Meals (and Magic Sauce)

Cheat Meals and I are friends. Really close friends. If a Cheat Meal were a person, we would hang out at the pool and drink wine all the time-which would be a lot, since Cheat Meals are big on keeping you out of the kitchen. No, this type of “Cheat Meal” is not the bad dining choice you made on your dieting day off. This is a throw together in 15 minutes, forget about it for a few hours, and come home to absolute dining perfection-which will taste like you worked for hours. See. You want to hang out and have wine with Cheat Meals too.

Like me, you probably already have most of these ingredients in your fridge/freezer/pantry, and it’s more than forgiving to substitutions, so break out the eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini and spinach, if you have them. You can do this.

Why do I call it magic? Because it’s healthy and served over pasta, so my kids eat it. Plus, you can purée it, leaving the little dinner monsters clueless to the level of health they’ve achieved. So, here goes: your blind date with Cheat Meals. You can thank me later.


Magic Sauce with Gremolata

Serves 4 adults + 2 kids, Prep: 15 minutes, Cook: 3 hours

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. beef stew meat, cubed, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28oz crushed San Marzano tomatoes (if they’re whole, pop the immersion blender in the can)
  • 14oz water (half the tomato can)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 c. red wine
  • 1 tsp. salt plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flake (if you like a little kick)
  • 1 bag Tinkyada gluten free pasta spirals


  • Handful of parsley chopped
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic shredded or minced
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 350°

Heat olive oil in stock pot or Dutch Oven. Once smoking, yes, smoking, add the meat and brown.

Meanwhile, chop up onions, carrots, celery and garlic.

Remove the meat and set aside.

Toss veggies into remaining oil and cook until onions are translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add thyme and basil, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add wine. Cook until reduced, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, water, meat, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cover (either with lid or foil) and place in oven. Cook for 3 hours.

20 minutes before you’re ready to serve, cook your pasta.

For Gremolata, add ingredients to a separate bowl, stir, set in fridge.

Serve over gluten free noodles, regular noodles, mashed potatoes, or polenta-the possibilities are endless. Garnish with Gremolata.



turnips + tantrums team

**I haven’t tried this in a Crockpot (yet). Should convert easily. If I were to use this method, I would make sure to brown the meat and sauté the veggies. Still use the wine to de-glaze the pan, then immediately throw into Crockpot. Cook on low 8 hours.


cooking burnout (and ropa vieja)

I don’t want to cook. Really now, the Eat24 app has been my BFF for the last few weeks. Between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and the long list of Holiday parties and events, I’ve been clocking some serious kitchen time. I LOVE cooking, but the weeknight dinners in-between those big feasts are starting to get to me, go figure. See, I am human, don’t tell my kids.

As much as I’m not really into cooking at the moment, I can’t bear to feed my kids mac & cheese or pizza every other night. I’m sure you can imagine my kiddo’s dissapointment. In a perfect world, those items would be dripping with veggies, protein, vitamins and have magical powers to clean up after itself. Clearly that’s not happening anytime soon, at least not in my house.

That’s when the crockpot comes in. Oh yeah! Bring on the perfection of wintertime cooking. And by wintertime, I mean that it dropped below 85 degrees here in Miami. That, and there may or may not be several unnecessary sweaters ready to wear in my closet. A girl can dream can’t she?

My supermom friend, who not only balances 3 kids, a kick ass company (babyloveluna) and manages to make her kids dinner, shared it with me. Both my kids gobbled it up. With the small amount of leftovers, I made nachos with lots of veggies and beans the following night. 2 dinners in one. Loved it.

An added plus of this recipe is that you can throw it together the night before, then refrigerate everything in the crockpot dish overnight. All you have to do in the morning is place it in the heating element, turn it on and walk out the door. Dinner will be waiting for you when you get home. A double added plus is that you can line the crockpot with foil, good-bye cleanup!

Ropa Vieja

  • 1.5-2lbs chuck roast
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp drained capers
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bay leave
  • salt and pepper

Prep Time: 10 minutes        Cook Time: 10 Hours       Serves: 6

Make a bed of sliced bell peppers and sliced onions in the crockpot. Season chuck roast with salt and pepper, don’t be shy.

Use a knife to make 4 small cuts into the roast, stuff garlic into each cut. Set roast over veggie bed.

Pour tomato sauce and diced tomatoes over roast. Add capers and seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on low for 10 hours. Shred meat with two forks. Serve with rice.



turnips + tantrums team

Hola, Mexico (and Kick Ass Meatloaf)

Growing up in sight of Mexico was kind of amazing. No, it was awesome. School breaks were spent out in the Mexican desert, the perfect adventure setting. Long weekends were lobster fest opportunities, people were alway welcoming and vacations were just a little more relaxed (and this was long before I was old enough for fruity beach drinks). Shelling, windsurfing, fishing, swimming, exploring, hot springs, camp fires, and dune buggies were normal family activities. Needless to say, I have a not-so-secret love for this beautiful country and its food (obviously). I absolutely cannot wait to share the same experiences I had growing up with my little quesadillas!

Hanging at Grandma & Grandpa’s House in Puertecitos, BC, MX. Best. Place. EVER


My brother and I. Same place, just slightly older. Still having the best time.

My brother and me. Same place, slightly older.

I could go on about the things I loved growing up so close to another country, but we would be here forever, and you would never have the chance to try out this amazing, amazing-ness that is, “Mexican Meatloaf.” This is a Marcela Valladolid inspired recipe, from her book, “Mexican Made Easy.” What can I say, I love this girl. Like its title, the recipes are easy and, wait for it, added bonus-my kids eat without complaint. Her original recipe calls for ground beef, but I use ground turkey, as I always have it in my Costco-obsessed freezer.

The salsa glaze isn’t necessarily a make-or-break, but I love it. I’ve used both tomatoes or left over cranberry sauce.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2c chopped onion
  • 1 c chopped carrot (1 medium sized)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 6oz raw Mexican chorizo, casing removed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4c ketchup
  • 1/4c sour cream
  • 1/2c dried bread crumbs

Salsa Glaze

  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored. (or 2c cranberry sauce)
  • 1/4 chunk medium white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 Serrano chile, stemmed
  • 1/4c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 canned chipotle
  • 1tbsp mustard
  • salt to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375.

In a saute pan, heat olive oil. Add onions, carrots and celery. Cook until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute more. Toss mixture into a large bowl and let cool.

In the meantime, using a separate bowl, mix ketchup, sour cream and egg. Throw in with veggies. Add turkey, chorizo, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper. Mix well.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. This will save tons of clean up time. Pour turkey mixture onto sheet and shape into a loaf. Think of the size of a average bread pan. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Throw the turkey loaf in the oven. Cook for 45-55 minutes, until meat registers 160 or turkey 180 on a meat thermometer. In my oven, 45 minutes does the trick.

For the sauce, heat a sauté pan to high. Add tomatoes, onion, garlic and serrano. Char everything. That means, get a good burn on the skins, don’t be shy. (If you’re using cranberries, have them waiting in the blender while you char everything else.)

Add charred ingredients to blender. Add chipotle pepper and sugar. Blend until smooth.

Return to pan. Add mustard. Simmer 10 minutes, until sugar has dissolved. Season with salt. Serve over meatloaf.

I like to serve this with a potato (roasted or mashed) and a green (green beans or kale chips). So, so good!



turnips + tantrums team

Summer Vacation (and Grilled Chicken Rice Bowls)

Dude, summer is amazing. Like, really amazing. And yes, my inner Californian totally just popped out. Like, totally.

Nothing is better than days lounging by the beach, toes in the sand, listening to the surf come in, sun on your sunscreen drenched back, maybe even a fruity cocktail in hand. Then leisurely heading out to pick your kids up from summer camp-where they clearly had more fun than you could have ever meticulously planned for them. Do you know what I’m saying tropical/desert dwelling parents? Oh yeah, you do.

So when camp is over and the only things going on at the beach (at least if I could convince mine to go) are a whole lot of bug bites and more sweat and sunscreen than this SoCal girl can handle, I’m staying indoors as much as possible. Yes, I will let my children destroy my house and drive me literally, up the walls. Bring out the markers, movies, glue, scissors, and whatever other bribery I can find, because until the temperature drops below 90, and those horrid no-see-ums go back to whatever hell they came from, I give up.

What will I feed them if I rarely venture outside, you ask? Repurposed left-overs I tell you. Repurpose whatever you can, because the only thing worse than a beach day gone wrong, is a Publix trip with tired, hungry, sweaty, hot children. I kid you not.

Whipped this up on my lonesome and have to say it was amazing. Side note, that “lonesome” should be read as “no recipe,” peanuts one and two were both close by, probably ripping apart a neatly organized kitchen drawer. On the bright side, both kiddos had some, minus the sriracha, of course. You can use whatever veggies you have lying around the house. Even substitute quinoa for rice, it’s all good!



What you need:


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, shredded
  • 1c basmati rice
  • 1/4c dry lentil
  • 1/2 diced tomato
  • 1 1/2c chicken broth


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, shredded
  • pinch of red pepper flake
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • pepper to taste


  • 2 grilled chicken breasts, chopped (preferably, left over)

Combine the rice ingredients. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer on low 13 minutes.

In a separate pan, heat oil, garlic and red pepper flake on low until fragrant. Then turn up the heat to high. Throw in zucchini, thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

Assemble bowls: rice lentil mixture, zucchini, then chopped chicken. Drizzle with Sriracha, pour yourself a glass of wine, only one more full Monday before school starts.



turnips & tantrums team

Playground Dinner (and Spinach Pasta Sauce)

I despise my highchair. In a first-time-parent snafu, I opted for cushy, modern and white! Little did I know how much time I would spend scrubbing every nook and cranny, trying to rid it of whatever dinner remnants had been smeared. Needless to say, those plastic, no nooks, no crannies, once over, wipe-down, $20, Ikea highchairs are looking pretty appealing about now.

That’s where the park comes in handy. Pack (or order, no judgement, I do it too) dinner, head over, kids play, eat, make a mess outside my house, return home, bathe, read, bed and then wine for me. I don’t think parenting can get much easier.

What's that, Mom? Dinner and Playtime? I'm in!

What’s that, Mom? Dinner and Playtime? I’m in!

The only thing making it easier, is food they will eat, no complaints. That’s where this recipe comes in. I threw it together after a major Costco run (remember, I’m addicted), involving mass amounts of spinach. You can use any type of pasta, I just use cheese tortellini because, well, I also buy that at Costco and keep it frozen in individual servings.

For the kids, I serve it with veggie sticks, ranch dressing and sliced fruit. For the grown-ups, a salad and/or grilled chicken.

What you need:

  • 1 bag fresh spinach
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, shredded
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of red pepper flake (you can use regular black pepper if you want)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4c cream
  • handfull shredded parmesan

In a saute pan, heat oil, garlic and red pepper flake until garlic is just about to turn golden.

Turn up the heat, throw in spinach and stir until completely wilted. Remove and blend in food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender and add cream for this step.

Return to saute pan. Simmer spinach in cream for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add parmesan. Season as needed with salt. Throw over your favorite pasta.

*Side note, this freezes amazingly. Just omit the cream and parmesan, place in individual containers-or baggies, and freeze. Always available in a lunch or dinner-time pinch.

*Side side note, dairy free? Just omit the cream and parmesan. Add a little veggie or chicken stock instead. I’ve done it, and my kids still gobble it up.



turnips & tantrums team

Pinterest-Perfect (and Indian Butter Chicken)

Pinterest-perfect. I know I’m guilty of it. I have boards upon boards of furniture, lighting, party ideas, gifts, style, vacation ideas and of course, RECIPES. All of them just waiting to be combined and perfectly executed, well some of the time.

But what is it with Pinterest recipes? First off, the photos are amazing, even the inedible looks delicious. They usually have a few “simple” ingredients, a short to-do list, and swear they’re the easiest thing ever. It appeals to every busy mama out there, right?

Then realty sinks in, the food looks nothing like the photo, you’ve decided cardboard tastes better and you’ve officially wasted a mani-pedi’s worth of food. Not to mention the wasted time shopping, prepping and cooking. Not cool Pinterest, not cool.

On the very bright side, I have managed to find a handful of really good recipes, like this one for “Butter Chicken.” And when I say “I found this,” I mean, my sissy-is-law sent the pin to me (forever grateful, thank you!), and now you’re reaping the benefits. It easily checks off all the boxes on the Busy Mama Checklist: pretty, fairly simple, easy, tastes amazing.

The trick I’ve learned with this is to prep the night before. Chop up your chicken and throw in a ziplock bag. Combine the sauce ingredients and toss in a seperate ziplock bag. In the morning, post breakfast chaos-or before you leave for work, add everything to your crock pot, cover, and come home to dinner!

Photo from

Photo from

So here it is:

Pinterest Perfect, Indian Butter Chicken (via

  • 4 chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp red curry paste*
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp (or less) cayenne pepper*
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1, 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1, 14oz can coconut milk
  • 1/2 c plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 c heavy whipping cream

*Taste test a little of the red curry. Some are spicier than others. Adjust accordingly.

Serve with: Rice and Naan

Cut up chicken into bit sized pieces.

Combine remaining ingredients. Pour over chicken in crockpot. Stir. Cover. High 8 hours, doesn’t really matter. Serve with rice and/or naan.



turnips + tantrums team