The Scramblog

Making Healthy Family Dinners Happen with Less Time, Money and Stress.

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Every Kind of Cook

 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Every Kind of CookI will never forget the Christmas my mother only gave me cooking tools. I was 22-years-old, living on my own for the first time, and had been scraping by with two pots that had been bought in a bodega on the first floor of my building, a couple of cheap knives I think I had gotten at IKEA, and a set of measuring cups and spoons purchased at Target. That Christmas, when I opened my gifts, I was a little dismayed and secretly wished I had gotten maybe one fewer pot in exchange for a sweater or two, but looking back, those were some of the best gifts I ever received. They made it possible for me to explore cooking and expanded the types of meals that I could cook for myself. While I am not advocating for giving a loved one only cooking tools (unless, of course, that is what they ask for), I do think a solid cooking-related gift or two is always welcome. So, to help you find the best gift for each person on your list, I have...

The Power of Sharing a Meal

The Power of Sharing a MealOver the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to share a meal with someone. I serve on the Board of Trustees for my sons’ school and we have recently been involved in a search for our next head of school (our beloved current head is retiring). This has meant a lot of dinners away from my family. It has also meant a lot of meals shared with others. As I have been sitting down to these meals away from home, both with people I know quite well and with others I barely know at all, it has been wonderful to see how the food on the table brings us together—it lightens the mood, it shifts the dynamic, and it strengthens the bonds that we are building. The food also becomes a topic of conversation and leads to discovering shared experiences and interests. It is essential to the community building that we are doing. At one of these dinners, a friend humorously recounted his childhood when he was the slowest eater in his...

Vegetarian Sopa Poblano with Avocados

This recipe is a kid-friendly favorite! Between mixing in the avocado and cheese toppings and dipping bread or tortilla chips in the broth, there are so many fun ways to interact with the meal. If you want a more traditional version, sauté 1/2 lb. of diced pork before adding the other ingredients. For a more Southwestern version, stir in cooked shredded chicken and/or tortilla strips. Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!Vegetarian Sopa Poblano with AvocadosPrep + Cook Time: 30 Minutes, Makes 6 Servings 1 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil 1 yellow onion, finely chopped1 tsp. minced garlic, (about 2 cloves)1 zucchini, finely chopped (about 2 cups)1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed15 oz. canned pinto beans, with their liquid, or drain the liquid and replace with 1/2 cup of water, chicken or vegetable broth4 oz. canned diced green chilies, with their liquid1/2 tsp. ground cumin 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth 5 1/2 oz....

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

This month’s Recipe Redux challenge was to develop a pumpkin recipe. At first glance, this was a pretty straightforward and seasonally appropriate challenge, but I knew I needed to get it right from the get-go since testing and retesting a pumpkin recipe was going to be a bit of a challenge if the biggest eater of my test batches (my husband) wasn’t excited about the food (he’s not a pumpkin fan). I also knew that I wanted a new breakfast recipe for the make-ahead breakfast feature of our meal planning service, so I started playing around with ideas: pumpkin muffins (The Scramble already has a recipe for them), pumpkin oatmeal (has been a bust in our house when I’ve tried it before), pumpkin with eggs (I couldn’t wrap my head around that one), so I landed on whole wheat pancakes. But how would I make them light and fluffy? After all, the last thing you want is a hockey puck for a pancake, so I started researching different options and finally put together a version...

Polenta with Mushroom Bolognese

This amazing recipe comes from a new cookbook called The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook written by my friends Serena Ball and Deanna Segrave-Daly of Teaspoon of Spice. It is so simple and quick to make, but has that comforting depth of flavor that will make everyone thing you slaved for hours. Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live.Polenta with Mushroom BolognesePrep Time: 5 Minutes, Cook Time: 25 Minutes, Makes 4 Servings 2 (8 oz.) packages white button mushrooms 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (about 3/4 medium onion) 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (about 1 medium carrot) 4 cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.) 1 (18 oz) tube plain polenta, cut into 8 slices 1/4 cup tomato paste 1 Tbsp. dried oregano, crushed between your fingers 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg 1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup dry red wine 1/2 cup whole milk 1/2 tsp. sugar Put half the...

Worry Less About the Halloween Sugar with these Dinner Recipes

When my kids were first old enough to understand and appreciate Halloween, I was stressed—how was I going to be able to control the sugar intake? How was I going to navigate the meltdowns and fights over how many pieces of candy they could have? Could I cut trick or treating short to try and limit how much sugar came into the house? In short, I wanted to control the situation. My feelings about Halloween have evolved a lot since those early days. Over the years, I have decided that instead of focusing on the “bad” sugar, I would turn my attention to maximizing the nourishing and delicious meals that we can enjoy throughout the day so that when the candy gorging starts, I can relax knowing that their bodies already have been taken care of. If this approach relieves some of the Halloween-related stress for you, here are some fun ways to celebrate the holiday while filling those bellies with substantial food that will keep them going.Worry Less About the Halloween...

East Meets West Stir Fry

This unconventional recipe has been a surprise hit in Scramble houses around the country! By combining Italian and Asian flavors in the sauce, the recipe links the traditionally Italian ingredients with the Asian preparation. Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!East Meets West Stir FryPrep + Cook Time: 20 Minutes, Makes 6 servings 1 1/2 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil 1 red onion, quartered and sliced1 lb. broccoli, florets and sliced stems3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed) 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil 1/8 - 1/4 tsp. black pepper, to taste15 oz. canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed, or use 2 1/2 cups homemade beans 2 cups cooked brown rice, (frozen rice works perfectly for this), or use 3/4 cup uncooked rice
(Prepare the rice, if using uncooked rice rather than frozen.) Heat a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat and add the canola oil. When it is...

Root Vegetable Recipes That Celebrate the Flavors of Fall

One of my favorite parts of fall is the change in scenery in the produce section at the supermarket. Don’t get me wrong, I love my tomatoes, peaches, watermelon, and corn, but there is something so comforting about the fruits and vegetables that show up in the fall and many of my favorites come from the ground. That’s right, I am a HUGE fan of root vegetables. I love that they can be whatever texture you desire, from crunchy to silky smooth, and that most offer a subtle sweetness. I also enjoy how versatile root veggies are making amazing soups, smoothies, salads, and stews, and let’s not forget roasting, my personal favorite. So in celebration of these wonderful nutritional powerhouses (yes, they pack a healthy punch, too), I pulled together some of my favorite recipes that might help you to consider these seemingly simple veggies in a new light.Root Vegetable Recipes That Celebrate the Flavors of FallRoasted Sweet Potato and Apple Soup: Sweet and creamy, this...

Crunchy Chicken Fingers

These Crunchy Chicken Fingers are bound to please the kids and adults in your family. You can dip them in ketchup, honey mustard, or barbecue sauce. Watch Jessica make them on Facebook Live.Crunchy Chicken FingersPrep Time: 10 minutes,  Cook Time: 20 minutes, Makes 6 servings 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream (or use any variety) 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed) 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste1/8 tsp. black pepper, or to taste2 cups dry stuffing mix, herb seasoned or cornbread 2 lbs. chicken tenderloins or boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch wide strips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Put the sour cream in a shallow bowl and stir in the mustard, salt, and pepper. Put the dry stuffing in another large shallow bowl and crush it into smaller pieces without pulverizing it. Dip each piece of chicken in the sour cream mixture, shake off the excess, then roll and press...

Roasted Carrot and Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

Oven-roasted vegetables make a lovely side dish or light meal.  Enjoy with some good crusty bread.Roasted Carrot and Beet Salad with Goat CheesePrep Time: 15 minutes    Cook Time: 30 minutes    Total Time: 45 minutes Makes six servings 1 lb. multi-colored carrots, sliced, or use regular carrots (halved and sliced if they are very large) 3/4 lb. beets, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch pieces 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1/3 tsp. kosher salt 3 Tbsp. walnuts, toasted 1/4 lemon, juice only (about 1 Tbsp.) 1 - 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, or use 1/4 tsp. dried 1 crumbled goat cheese Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss the carrots and beets with the oil and salt. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast them for 30 minutes, tossing once after 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, toast the walnuts at 300 degrees in a toaster oven or in a pan over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes until they are golden but watch them closely so they...