Let’s Stay In Party + No Kid Hungry

“Our kitchen and our table, like many of yours I’m sure, are the center of our home. So often it’s a far cry from the picturesque Norman Rockwell paintings but I don’t expect perfection, I long for relationship. Food brings us to the table and my goal in life is to spend as much time there as possible. And that’s my goal for all of you as well because, for me, nothing in life is more beautiful than time spent at the table.” from Let’s Stay In  

 

All the work that I do in the food world is for one purpose; to bring people to the table. The longer I do this work the more I’m convinced it’s some of the most important work we can do. Everyday it becomes more and more apparent that we are in deep need of connection and civility. Where the internet can often highlight the black and white way of thinking the table reminds us that we are all people trying our best and doing what we can.

 

Wouldn’t it be so great if all of us could sit around the table? I would love that so very much buuuuuut I know that is a bit of a dream so we came up with the next best thing. We’re having a virtual, “Let’s Stay In Party!’

Here’s what I would love for you to do: This weekend (October 19-21) I want us all to stay in and gather around the table. Whether it be a cozy Friday night dinner or Sunday morning brunch, let’s meet at the table over good food. It could be you and a friend, your family or a party for 20! There are no limits. Cook a dish from Let’s Stay In, then sit down and enjoy it! At some point along the way, take a photo and share it with the hashtag #letsstayinbook. For every time that hashtag is used over the course of the weekend we will be donate $1 to No Kid Hungry. They are an organization with a simple yet stunning mission: to make sure no child in America goes hungry. Read all about them, the work they do and how you can get involved here.

While your at the table talk to your guests about hosting a Friendsgiving in partnership with No Kid Hungry. They offer great recipes and amazing resources to help you host a wonderful dinner party with a purpose. Click here to find out more!

 

Make food. Gather around the table. Share it with the world. Help kids get food.

 

Really, is there anything better than that?

 

For our weekend of staying in these cozy, easy and comforting meatballs are on the menu. As the weather has cooled my excitement for pasta has grown. I picked up a copy of Flour + Water recently and I’ve made it a goal to really hone my homemade pasta making skills this season. So I’ll be serving my meatballs with some sort of homemade pasta. Sounds like a perfect Saturday activity.

This recipe is straight from the new book. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

 

Turkey Meatballs in Arrabiata Sauce

There is something inherently cozy about tucking into a bowl of simmered red sauce and meatballs. It’s what I crave when the outside world feels weighty and too much. When I find myself feeling so small and overwhelmed there’s a bowl of slick noodles and warming sauce that somehow feeds hope as it fills me up. Or sometimes it’s simply what I crave on a cold evening.

Arrabiata is a simple sauce with a bit of heat - or a lot of heat if that’s what you prefer. The anchovy here adds a salty depth without leaving the dish tasting fishy. I am hesitant to say that you can leave it out as it adds so much but I will say it, just add a bit more salt in the process.

This is one of those meals that is easily doubled and can slip into the freezer for another night. It’s also sturdy enough to pass along to a friend who is need of a good home cooked meal.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 pound/ 450 g ground dark turkey meat

1/2 cup / 50 grams finely grated Parmesan

1/3 cup/ 20 g panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch chili flake

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped basil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 small onion, finely diced, about 1/4 cup/60 g

1 egg

2 tablespoons olive oil

Arrabiata

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 anchovies, minced

4 garlic cloves, sliced

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili flake (or more if desired)

28 ounce/800 g can crushed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

For the meatballs: In a large bowl combine the turkey, Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, oregano, chili flake, parsley, basil, garlic, onion, and egg. Stir just until everything is well mixed but take care not to over mix as you don’t want to toughen the meat. Sear a small amount of the mixture then taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Add the olive oil to a large skillet or dutch oven. Sear the meatballs over high heat until a deep, dark crust forms. Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

For the sauce: Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and saute the anchovy, garlic, and chili flake over medium high heat.

Once the garlic has turned golden carefully add the tomatoes. Stir in the oregano, sea salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the pan then gently simmer until they are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve over creamy polenta or pasta.

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Getting Together

Because of Martha Stewart, I longed for a room in my future home dedicated to wrapping presents. I dreamt of spools of ribbon neatly organized on a dowel and tucked away in an antique armoire. She made a lush garden feel a necessity, and freshly plucked chicken eggs in hues of greens and blues vital to every kitchen. Because of Martha Stewart my best friend and I published Mini Martha Living–complete with homemade jewelry tutorials, tenderly written articles on keeping a home, and the most rich and luscious brownies one could imagine. We were 7 and 10.

Those childhood fantasies met reality and–try as I might–I still can’t fold a fitted sheet worth a damn. We had chickens, but one flew away and the other two were eaten by raccoons. And my present wrapping room is the hallway where I frantically pluck a few large sheets of parchment paper from the top of the fridge and hurriedly cover the present before running out the door. My napkins are never pressed, the table rarely cleared, and inevitably there are scraps of eaten socks and stuffed animal remnants strewn about the house leftover from our pup Lily’s daily destruction.

This is not necessarily my ideal scene for entertaining, but this is our reality and try as I might to scrub the fingerprints off the walls and scrape the food bits off of the kitchen floor, their persistence is unrelenting. If I waited for perfection in our home our table would always be empty. I choose our ragged, messy imperfection that is flooded with friends and family coming through our doors over a spotless quiet home.

First of all, let’s just take a moment to remind ourselves that the stories we write in our own minds that are based off of very little information are usually not true. Social media and the fact that so much of our lives are lived online have perpetuated this notion because we see the highlights of everyone’s lives and then fill in the cracks thinking that ours doesn’t measure up. I’m guilty of this myself both by writing the stories and feeling inadequate based off that story and often only sharing the meals that I deem worthy of an Instagram and failing to make public the take-out or the late night drive-thru soft serve. We need to be so careful with this peeking into the greener patch of grass and assuming their whole lawn is lush.

I love that there is a bit of a movement around this notion of scruffy entertaining or hosting a crappy dinner party. But both of those terms feel a bit negative, almost as if you are admitting defeat over the state of the home and reluctantly opening your doors anyway. I would love for us to fling open our doors and embrace the mess. To feel confident in our home, in our skin, to say your presence here is more important than that teetering laundry pile in the corner. To truly believe filling the table is more important than the perceived truth that I’ve got everything in order. My friends and family know the truth, and love and embrace me–in spite of it all.

Every other Wednesday for eight years I’ve sat at a table with the same women. They are my village, they are the ones that walk through everyday with me. They’ve wiped tears from my eyes, watched my kids when I needed a break, and brought countless meals to my home throughout sicknesses and the early baby days. As a group we’ve walked and eaten through loss of jobs, seven births, miscarriages, brain tumors, deaths, milestone birthdays, and so much more. We have lived life together and so much of it has happened around the table. If we let something like dishes in the sink, dirty finger stained walls, and piles of clutter keep us from coming to the table we would never see one another.

With this group and so many other friends and family who walk through our doors even the word “entertaining” doesn’t feel right. It’s just simply the act of opening the door and letting people in. Often I will do the cooking, as I so love to do, but other times, like our Wednesday group, it’s a “clean-out-the-fridge potluck”.

If there is a particular recipe someone in the group is eager to try we may center the meal around that. Other times it’s a simple call to bring the things lingering in your fridge that could possibly belong over some salad greens. Every time it’s delicious and not really the point of the evening. Everyone is bringing something to the table so the work never falls too heavy on one person and we never apologize for the state of our house, we all get it, and are grateful to be at the table.

As a 10 year old flipping through Martha Stewart Living magazine while dreaming of fresh flowers filling every room of my home, and wandering through my garden with vintage basket in hand retrieving the day’s bounty from the earth I never thought about how much better reality can be, mess and all.

Recipes for Gathering

I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite recipes to feed a crowd. Some from my site and beyond. Of course there are many more ideas in my new book, Let’s Stay In.  It’s from this desire for gathering together at the table that this book was born.

Steak Tacos

So easy to throw together quickly and a little goes along way for a crowd.

Le Grand Aioli

Love having this be a collaborative meal. Invite people to bring their favorite roasted vegetable or anything else that might be improved with a dip in aioli.

Frito Pie

This one is reserved for Super Bowl in our family but I do know that the chili recipe here has won contests.

Salad Pizza

It’s a salad, it’s a pizza. It’s everything you ever want.

Smokey Mozzarella Pasta

A pasta bake is never a bad idea.

Roast Chicken

Simple, but never boring. And quite possibly the most comforting of all the foods.

Sheet Pan Chicken and Cauliflower Shwarma

Speaking of roast chicken. I’ve not tried this one yet but that will change real soon.

 

 

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