Spanakopita (Spinach) Quiche

Spinach Quiche | Rookery

If you’re stumped for what to cook for dinner, might I suggest the lowly quiche? It’s easy, you can make it ahead of time, it’s great left over, and if you add enough veggies you can sort of forget about the hidden doses of milk and cheese.

I had always dismissed quiches as kind of stodgy, but in the past few weeks I’ve been on a quiche honeymoon. I’ve made four of them – four! February will do weird things to people.

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Do It Yourself Thin Mints

Thin Mints | Rookery

I couldn’t resist this recipe. The promise is so great – that you can make your own thin mints in fifteen minutes without any baking. It sounds too good to be true, but at its core there’s an ingenious trick.

If the sleight of hand worked, it would be amazing. And if it didn’t work, I would still be left with chocolate-covered Ritz crackers, and how could that be bad?

Well, I needn’t have worried because — eureka! It works! Add this to your list of Important Things To Know: coating Ritz crackers in chocolate and peppermint extract gives you a crazy thin mint doppelgänger. They do not taste like crackers. Except for the fact that the inner “cookie” is white rather than brown, I don’t think I ever would have guessed something was amiss.

Thin Mints | Rookery

I pondered this, as one is wont to do while eating an entire roll of thin mints at the kitchen counter. The crunch — yes, the crunch was perfect. The flavor was indistinguishable. And so here I am with one more dessert recipe made from a classic cracker…maybe that’s a blog within itself.

I grant you that these are not technically “homemade” and they do have some rather not-so-wholesome ingredients in them, as packaged foods do. And yes, it’s possible to make your own thin mints from scratch without any partially hydrogenated anything.

But when a shortcut like this comes along, it’s really too good to pass up. Continue reading

Lemon Atlantic Beach Pie and the Saltine Challenge

Lemon Atlantic Beach Pie | Rookery

Sometimes the idea of a food and the reality of that food just don’t match. That’s what I learned when I made this pie for a picnic. For me, lemon pie evokes summer, outdoors, barbecues and iced tea, which made it seem perfect for the picnic we were going to in Stern Grove. I didn’t really think critically about this until I had baked it and it was time to leave the apartment.

Then I realized how totally impractical lemon pie is as a picnic dessert. You can’t transport it without smooshing it. It requires refrigeration. And forks. And plates. And whipped cream on top, which you will have to transport separately. What was I thinking? Why couldn’t I just bake cookies like a normal human being?

Lemon Atlantic Beach Pie | Rookery

On the plus side, what the dessert lacked in transportability it made up for in ease and deliciousness. The saltine crust is a revelation. You could probably skip the filling and just eat the saltine crust and be happy. In fact, maybe I’ll just make that for the next picnic.

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Red Wine Vinegar-Braised Chicken Thighs

Rookery | Vinegar-Braised Chicken Thighs

I made the mistake the other night of having a dinner party and serving something I’d never made before. You’re not supposed to do that! But I was desperate.

It was one of those dinner parties where each guest very kindly tells you ahead of time about his or her dietary restrictions – vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-intolerant, allergic to eggs. And then they add that you really don’t have to do anything to accommodate them, they’ll just nibble on lettuce so please don’t worry. I think they actually mean it but I would feel sort of bad taking them up on the offer.

Fortunately I had pulled this recipe out of an Oprah Magazine I’d found at the airport (What? Where do you get your recipes?) so I decided to give it a go.

Rookery | Vinegar-Braised Chicken Thighs

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Homesick Texan Carnitas

Homesick Texan Carnitas | Rookery

Pork + salt + water = carnita. I just recently learned this equation. As a lover of Mexican food, I always assumed that such tender, flavorful tacos required hours simmering in some exotic spice concoction that I would never fully be able to master. I pictured chiles, a mortar and pestle, you know.

But while browsing smitten kitchen I saw Deb’s take take on carnitas, which led me to Homesick Texan, which led me to Diana Kennedy, which led me down this rabbit hole of incredibly easy carnitas recipes and now my life is irrevocably changed.

Homesick Texan Carnitas | Rookery

Jesse’s life has changed too. Now every time I say, “what do you want for dinner?” his answer is “could you make those carnitas again?”

We’ve decided to limit it to once a month. Continue reading

Banana Pudding: The Best Thing Bananas Ever Did

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Have you ever been to Magnolia Bakery in New York? Did you wait in the interminable line for the fairly decent cupcakes? Did you get to the front and notice that the line is only for the cupcakes? If you don’t need a cupcake, you can come right to the front and you can get their banana pudding immediately. And it is good. Nilla wafers, bananas, and vanilla pudding. Simple, sublime.

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Four years after leaving New York, I am still having cravings, so decided that it’s time to make my own.

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