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TDF Archives

In-N-Out Double Double Animal Style Burger Dip

In n Out Animal Style Dip

I may seem like a hoity toity food person (has anyone seen my baker’s twine?) but deep in my heart I really love a good cheeseburger. And the cheeseburger I really love best is a Double-Double, animal style, from In-N-Out.

If you’re not from around here, or you’ve been hiding under a rock, In-n-Out makes the best fast food burgers in the world.  And I, like many Southern Californians (and frankly non-Southern Californians) am borderline obsessed with them.

Los Angeles is a burger town, in the way that New York is a pizza (or hot dog) town, and Chicago is a hot dog (or pizza) town (and San Francisco is a ?  town?   Odd ice cream flavors?  Fresh figs? Mesclun?)   Angelenos take their burgers seriously.  As I craved cheeseburgers during my entire pregnancy with Boo (who is turning out to be a meat and potatoes man, no surprise), I’ve sampled many of the fine burgers that LA has to offer — Umami Burger, Father’s Office, Pie and Burger, Big Jo’s … but in the end, I’m a burger purist, because none really measure up to In-N-Out.  It’s the ur-burger.  It’s not that the ingredients are stellar (good quality, I would say, for fast food, but not stellar) or that the burger is everything you can imagine a burger to be – but I don’t think you can do much better, food-wise – for your $3 than to spend it on an In-N-Out Double-Double Animal Style.
Animal Style, off the In-N-Out Not-So-Secret Menu, means the burger patty has been grilled with mustard, the raw onions (never my favorite) have been replaced with the addictive little flavor bombs of fried onions, pickles have been added (!) and there’s extra “spread” – really Thousand Island Dressing (!!).  The combination of all the elements is a salty flavor explosion that makes you want to go back again, and again, and again.

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Honey Lemon Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy

I, like everyone else in the known universe, have a cold.

When one has two small children, it is inevitable. Boo has had a runny nose practically nonstop since he began daycare, and Nuni has a nagging cough that seems to be going around Kindergarten. I am the one who wipes the noses, who picks up the grubby toys, who finishes the half eaten food. I am on the receiving end of many hugs, many kisses, and many germs.

Sometimes, in my more bitter moments, I think back to the halcyon days of my childhood. When I was sick, I took to my bed with a mug of my mother’s homemade chicken soup and the admonition to get lots of sleep. Now, I drag myself to the office (because I have to save my sick days for the times when my CHILDREN are sick, natch), fix the chicken soup myself for everyone else to eat, get all the children to bed and then settle in for the night and do dishes (or, you know, write a blog post.) And sleep? I like to joke that I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since 2006. It’s only sort of a joke.
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Garlic Butter Mushroom Sliders

Mushroom Sliders

The Super Bowl, oddly enough, seems to be one of the biggest food holidays of the year.  I don’t know why it’s more food-centric than the Fourth of July, or Easter, or Cinco de Mayo, but there you have it.  I myself am not a huge fan of professional football (LA hasn’t had an NFL team since I was in elementary school, which lessens the thrill somewhat) but I can always get behind a party.  Especially a party that involves those semi-junky foods that you always want to eat but usually don’t because they are not good for you.  Foods like buffalo wings, potato chips with onion dip, and jalapeno poppers.

Mushroom Sliders Ingredients

This year, however, I am trying to eat more vegetables, and last time I checked, buffalo wings are not vegetables.  In the past, I have scoffed at “healthy” Superbowl recipes. The whole point of Superbowl food is that it’s unhealthy.  Nobody wants to eat kale chips while watching men pummel each other in freezing cold weather.   This year, though, I saw my vegetable challenge as a Super bowl challenge too – could I come up with a healthi-ER recipe that doesn’t feel like a compromise?  Something that’s so delicious you want to eat it MORE than the meaty alternative?

I don’t mean to brag, but I think I’ve accomplished just that.   Little sliders (fun to eat!, finger food that one can eat on the couch while watching the TV), made from mushroom caps (We’ll ignore the fact that for purposes of the challenge, mushrooms aren’t exactly Vegetables.  They are like vegetables.) oozing with garlic butter and melted cheese.  Forget the Super Bowl.  I want to eat these EVERY day.  (And I could, too- they do contain butter and cheese, but it’s not excessive.)  They’re so good that nobody will notice they’re eating healthi(er) food because they’ll be too busy licking their fingers and asking for more.

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Ten Ways to Use Roast Chicken

The fantasy: Your house is clean. Your children have finished their homework and are playing by themselves quietly and without incident. You have the time to chop, sauté and simmer, and fill your house with good smells as you make a leisurely, healthy dinner, which your delighted family eats with enthusiasm.

The reality: There was an accident on the freeway, so you’re home from work 40 minutes later than usual. Your daughter has emptied the contents of her backpack all over your living room, which is now strewn with glitter and various bits of paper. You’re supposed to send a signed form to daycare with your son, but you can’t find the paperwork anywhere. Your husband is working late. Bedtime is approaching. You need to get dinner on the table, quickly, but if you try to serve carrot sticks and chicken again your family will storm the barricades.

OK, maybe that’s just my reality. But I’m sure you have your own unique challenges.

The point is, we all want to live the fantasy. We want to cook entirely from scratch and feed our families healthy, homemade food every day of the week. But the reality doesn’t always stack up, and that’s where the harried cook turns to shortcuts, in the form of the supermarket rotisserie chicken. It’s healthier than frozen lasagna, quicker than starting from scratch, but not the most exciting meal. Here, then, are ten ideas for turning that rotisserie chicken into something fabulous. (Or, if you are living the fantasy, and have managed to follow the constant food writer suggestion of “Just roast a chicken!” then these are ideas for using up the leftovers.)
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Meyer Lemon Kale Salad

Meyer Lemon Kale Salad

If you’re eating vegetables for their health benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find something betthan than kale.  Low in calories, full of fiber, and rich in vitamins, A,C and K,  it’s commonly referred to as a “nutrition powerhouse.”   Of course, I’m not the first person to discover this, so there are recipes all over creation  trying to make kale, which can be challenging, palatable.  This one actually succeeds. You may think that there are no new frontiers to be conquered with regards to kale salad, but you would be mistaken. This kale salad is epic. This kale salad is the one that people go back for seconds for on a buffet. This kale salad caused my five year old to utter the words, “Sigh. MOOOOOMMM. Why can’t you just make kale salad again?” (She is five going on fifteen). This kale salad will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

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Squash Stuffed with Delicious Things

Stuffed Kabocha Squash

Part of my focus on vegetables for this year is going to involve salads and side dishes – things to add to my standard meat and potatoes fare (though in actuality, we rarely eat potatoes). But I’m also looking for main dishes in which vegetables play a starring role. Ideally I’m looking for something which won’t cause my five year old to reject it out of hand. I’ve tried to tell her that nothing mommy makes is yucky, and I don’t ever want her to say yuck, though she may politely express that this is not her favorite dish. Of course, only dessert is her favorite dish, not for any lack of trying on my part. And ham sandwiches. And since I refuse to subsist on a diet of ham sandwiches and ice cream, we are at something of an impasse. Bacon helps.

This recipe, which is adapted from Dorie Greenspan, may not pass the five year old test (until she TRIES it) but it is one of my favorites. Dorie calls it “Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good” and it really is stuffed with, if not everything good, many good things. Things like bread and cheese and bacon and cream and garlic, and just to up the vegetal quotient, I added red chard, which only added instead of detracted. Since it’s nearly impossible to find an edible pumpkin outside the months of October and November, I make it with Kabocha Squash, which I prefer to pumpkin anyway. This dish also looks better in person than it does in photographs, and tastes better than it looks (I must convince the five year old of this). (As an aside – raw vegetables are BEAUTIFUL to photograph, but the second they’re cooked they look far less appealing. C’est la vie.)  You can also omit the bacon the make it vegetarian, but please don’t leave out the cheese.
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Fennel, Apple and Pear Salad

Apple Pear Fennel Salad

I know when I promised vegetable recipes, you were not thinking “salad.” Salad is boring. Salad is easy. We’ve already thought of salad. Well, salad IS easy, but it doesn’t have to be boring. The universe of salads is huge, and if recipes for salads are more ideas than recipes, well, couldn’t we all use some more ideas?

We eat salads a lot. This one takes a little more hand work than the most rushed “open a bag of lettuce, throw on some dressing” (though those feature heavily in our rotation as well), but it’s also delicate, and appealing. The Nuni loved it, the husband loved it. It’s neither all sweet nor all savory, but a lovely both/and.
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The Year of Living Vegetally

Year of Living Vegetally
January, arbitrary though it may be, is a time for taking stock. What’s been good, what’s been bad, and what you want to change.

This year, the fourth of The Domestic Front, I want to change how I eat. No, I’m not going vegetarian. Or paleo. You won’t suddenly see a rash of recipes with points values, or gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free foods. I’m more of a moderate, and I like my resolutions to be additive. So this year I am resolving to eat more fruits and vegetables, and I want you to come with me.

We all know we should eat more fruits and vegetables, right? At least five servings a day. But if you’re anything like me, by the time you’ve gotten the chicken on the table, with some starch so your five year old eats SOMETHING, adding another vegetable dish just seems like too much work. And why snack on apples when crackers are so crunchy and salty?

Well, I want to change that, for my sake and my kids’ sake. I’m going to spend this year on the blog exploring new recipes using fruits and vegetables, strategies for incorporating more produce in my life, and tips and tricks on purchasing and even growing your own. 2013 is officially the Year of Living Vegetally here on The Domestic Front, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Happy New Year and Best of 2012

Best of 2012 The Domestic Front

Happy New Year! The holiday season has been a whirlwind for us, both in good ways (baking! presents! holiday shows!) and not so good ways (stomach viruses! ear infections! bronchitis!) but I always like to take a moment as the year turns to reflect on the year we’re leaving behind and plan for the year to come.

I know everyone is thinking ~ New Years! Resolutions! But in truth, everyone knows that New Year’s Day is for lazing around the house in your pajamas and recovering from New Year’s Eve, and that the real start of the year is January 2nd.

I’m going to take advantage of that loophole, and spend the first post of 2013 looking back on 2012. The election happened, the apocalypse did not (though some people probably think the election WAS the apocalypse). And I shared some of my life and recipes with you over the year.

I always say about The Domestic Front that I write what I cook, and what my family eats. And that is true. Every recipe I share is something I have made and loved. But there are some recipes that I have made, and made again and made again, which have become an integral part of our family repertoire. These are the recipes that are The Domestic Front classics.
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