ask me: food!

Of all the Ask Me questions that have been submitted so far, I think this is my favorite.


Ask Me


A non-sewing related question–any favorite tried-and-true favorite dinner recipe?

Why as a matter of fact, yes! Because sewists have to eat, too, right? I’ve been meaning to talk about food for a while, so thanks for the little push.

I mentioned last week that we eat dinner together as a family every evening. During the week that means cooking at home, while on weekends we sometimes have time to take advantage of our neighborhood’s many fantastic, well-priced restaurants.

Since evenings are a bit of a rush, between shopping, cooking, eating, washing dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher), homework, and a rather lengthy bedtime routine (ugh), the shopping and cooking parts need to be efficient. New Yorkers, for the most part, don’t own cars, so we shop for groceries almost every day. This means we can buy fresh produce, but we shop every day mostly because the average person can only carry just so much when it comes to groceries. So here are our dinner tricks.




ZipList. Now that we’ve finally joined the world of smartphones, we’ve set up a joint shopping list with this app. I’ve linked many of my favorite recipes to our account (which is really easy to do, especially if those recipes live on-line someplace), and it’s extremely quick and easy to add the ingredients for a recipe to our shared shopping list. When one of us goes to the store the list is up-to-date, and items can easily be checked off as you put them in your cart. It’s not a fancy app and could certainly be improved, but we make regular use of it and find that it’s really helpful with meal planning and shopping and helps us to be efficient.

Favorite recipes. Please note: I’m a one-dish cook, due in large part to our small kitchen and to the fact that I like efficiency and simplicity. I generally don’t make multiple dishes for a single meal unless it’s Thanksgiving or you call dessert a side dish. I’ve found a lot of our favorite recipes at Martha Stewart. Also, S is a rather picky eater, so all dishes need to pass muster with her before they enter our regular rotation. Oh, and a lot of these recipes have Tex-Mex ingredients that may not be readily available outside the U.S. (Hello, black beans in Europe?) Also, I lean toward vegetarianism, but not everyone in the family shares my sentiments so I do include some meat in my cooking.

So, having said all that, here are a few of our favorites:




  • Cumin Chicken With Black Beans: an old stand-by that everyone loves. We make this with extra black beans and corn, and we usually have leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Rabe: I think we make this almost every week, we all like it so much. This is a great recipe for a crowd, too.
  • Skirt Steak and Bok Choy Stir-Fry. No one at our house knew we liked bok choy (actually, I don’t think we really knew what bok choy was) until we made this. I could eat this every day.
  • Black Bean Tostadas With Corn Relish. This recipe is so quick and easy and seems to make everyone happy. Save this for your really, really busy days, because there’s minimal cooking involved.
  • West Coast Grilled Vegetable Pizza. I don’t make this very often, but we always like it when I do. We make all sorts of pizza, and I’ll share some of our other favorite pizza recipes with you sometime soon.
  • Fast Chicken Fajitas. Another one of those quick recipes for the really busy days. One reason to like this is because everyone makes their own, so the eight-year-olds can customize and add as much sour cream as they like.
  • Vegetable Enchiladas. S likes it best when I fill a few of these with just cheese for her. Which I do, because then I know she’ll eat them.

I’d love to know some of your favorite recipes if you want to share or link to them! Any meal planning tips?






  1. Masha

    This is a one-dish vegetarian meal that my whole family (including the littles!) loves: Don’t skimp on the olive oil! The husband and I like ours with a liberal dash of Sriracha sauce on top. The kids enjoy crumbled crackers as a garnish.

  2. Masha, that looks great! I’m going to try it soon. Thanks so much!

  3. Here’s a one pot meal you might like with a Mexican flare

  4. Maria

    Thank you for sharing… I will definitely try some of these. Black beans in Europe…. at least in berlin in every organic food store no problem 🙂

  5. I eat black beans (black turtle beans, I assume they’re the same thing) here in London all the time – same as Berlin, any organic or health food shop should have them.

  6. Cherie

    Yummy! You’re making me hungry!

  7. Lynda

    we even have black beans in the far south of ‘down-under’, I’ve just cooked a kg of them, they are cooling and then I’ll portion up and freeze, so they’ll be ready to go when I want them.

  8. dianelyons

    Thanks, Liesl!

    What a great selection of recipes! We love Tex-Mex too, so these selections will fit in wonderfully with my picky-eaters likes 🙂

    I made the orecchiette pasta last night for dinner. It was delicious! My kids thought the broccoli rabe was too bitter–but my husband and I loved the flavor. Next time I’ll probably use broccolini to appease the less-sophisticated taste buds in my house!

    Tonight the skirt steak is on the menu!

    So in the spirit of sharing, here’s an easy recipe that everyone seems to love. We prefer one-pot dinners here too (despite the fact that we do have a dishwasher!) but this one is great with a side of green beans sauteed with almonds, salad, and french bread.

    Maple Mustard-Glazed Chicken:
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Mix together 3T dijon mustard, 2T maple syrup, 1T whole grain mustard, 1T brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. thyme.

    Line a baking pan with foil (this makes clean up much easier!) put boneless skinless chicken thighs in the pan. Season thighs with salt and pepper, and then brush the mixture over the thighs.

    Bake uncovered 40 minutes. Then cover with foil and let rest 10-15 more minutes. Enjoy!

    And with the holidays around the corner, here is the easiest and yummiest pecan pie recipe.The recipe is from my mother-in-law:

    Cream together 1/2 cup sugar with 2T butter
    2 well-beaten eggs
    2T flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon almond extract
    1 cup white (light) Karo syrup
    1 cup chopped pecans

    Pour into an unbaked pie shell and cook 45-50 minutes at 350 Degrees.

    This one is so good!

  9. Sarah

    Have you seen Cynthia Lair’s “Feeding the Whole Family”? It and the Moosewood books provide our go to recipes. Amazing!

  10. Thanks for these great recipe ideas! I’m excited to give them a try. We also like the book “Feeding the Whole Family” Sarah mentioned. Other good books: “Super Natural Every Day” and “Veganomicon.” And for anything baked, Smitten Kitchen blog seems to be the most delicious source!

  11. Andrea

    I cook my weekday meals almost exclusively from The Six O’Clock Scramble. It has quick, often one dish meals that follow seasonal themes. Delish!

  12. dianelyons

    Hi! I wanted to report back–the skirt steak was amazing and everyone liked it (bok choy and all)! I also made the cumin chicken and it was a big hit too:-) Thanks again for the kitchen inspiration! Having a few more recipes that everyone likes is such a help. Tonight it’s homemade pizza for us! Happy Thanksgiving.

  13. Melanie

    Thanks for sharing! Some of those look fantastic. We have to have quick and easy too, because homework and piano for 2 and the bath and bedtime routine for 3 kids is pretty time consuming. I get most of our recipie from Real Simple and Martha Stewart too. Here is one of our all time favorite, which both we and the kids love: we serve with whole wheat pita wedges and hummus. I double the burger part so we have some leftovers for lunch the next day. Of course, there are 5 of us. The favors in this are vague Turkish, which are interesting, but not too strong for the kids. It reminds hubby and I of our time in Germany, where Turkish food is popular. For some reason, the kids love couscous and will therefore eat all the veggies mixedwith it.

    I think the other reason New Yorkers shop every day (and we used to here in Philly too before we had kids) is because they can. We have lots of small convienet markets too, but nothing like NYC.

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