Blog Posts by Sarah McColl, Shine staff

  • What to Eat Now

    I'm going to let you in on a little secret, and by "secret" I mean something maybe everybody else in the world knows who took home ec, but I had to learn after years of standing overwhelmed in the grocery store, eager to walk home empty-handed and order Chinese. It happened like this. Dinner was easy at my house one week. And then dinner was easy for another week, and I decided I better keep my mouth shut about it for fear the feeling would go poof. So I kept quiet, and kept cooking, and tried to figure out what exactly what working. The nightly dinner rush became more pleasure than panic, and here's what I discovered: It's all about the produce.

    We eat a lot of roast chicken at my house. As in, I pretty much roast a chicken every Sunday night. That night we carve it up, later in the week I use the leftovers in salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, and curries, and every now and then I'll boil the bones to make a make a light stock for soup. But here's the clincher: it's not boring (I

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  • Cinco De Mayo Recipes: Feast Your Eyes

    by Sarah McColl, Shine staff



    We fully support any holiday that involves sitting outside with a margarita and eating chips (come to think of it, why aren't there more holidays like that?). Whether you're ready to get your cook on for Cinco de Mayo, or just want to live vicariously through ambitious food bloggers (margarita macarons, oh my!), we've got a complete menu from drinks to dessert that will put you in prime condition for a siesta.



    Related:


    Leftover rotisserie chicken recipes


    Rhubarb recipes


    Join the Shine Supper Club!


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  • Crowd-Pleasing Guacamole

    This guac omits one much-maligned ingredient.Avocados are almost universally beloved for their creamy, rich texture. But cilantro? It has its own I Hate Cilantro page on Facebook and an "anti-cilantro community" dedicated to the "fight to ban the most loathesome garnish of our time." The green herb scattered in many a Cinco de Mayo dish is a polarizing culinary figure, to say the least.

    Its hatred is long-standing. Food science writer Harold McGee reported in the New York Times that the word "coriander" may come from the Latin word for bedbug, its aroma like that of "bug-infested bedclothes," according to the Oxford Companion to Food. These days, the word more commonly attributed to cilantro by its detractors is "soapy." Some go farther: vile, revolting...you get the picture. So what's a guacamole-loving Cinco de Mayo host supposed to do?

    Follow Ina Garten's lead and leave out the green leaf. Her guacamole is a bright, vibrant testament to just how well garlic, lemon, and avocados work together, and its chunky texture won't be

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  • Shine Supper Club: Mom's Best Recipes

    Join us for the May Supper Club! | Paperless PostJoin us for the May Supper Club! | Paperless PostIt's difficult to choose just one, I know. There's summer's cold tuna macaroni salad flecked with dill, a perfect lunch on the hottest days. Incomparably fudgy brownies (they come from a box), buttery mashed potatoes (with lumps, please), Christmas' cranberry crunch, addictive chile con queso, crisp green salads. But if I had to choose just one dish that no one seems to make as well as my mom, it would be her turkey soup.

    In the first dark evening hours of Thanksgiving, before Trivial Pursuit has turned ugly and while the second wave of guests are still helping themselves to pie, my mom slips the turkey carcass into a huge pot and slides it onto the wood stove in her kitchen. It will bubble there overnight. At tomorrow's lunch, when ambitious shoppers are returning from early morning sales and last night's hard partiers are just waking up, my mom will ask someone to bring in the the blue and white bowls from the pantry. One by one, she ladles in her turkey soup, topping it with

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  • Spring Clean Your Supper: Ideas and Recipes from the Shine Supper Club

    April's Supper Club was all about spring cleaning the way we eat. When we elbow hearty braises, root vegetables, and comfort food out of the way, what bright spring goodness takes its place? Personally, I'm obsessed with rhubarb these days, but y'all had great ideas to freshen up the dinner table on a nightly basis.

    Keep it simple. Ingrid of The Cozy Apron likes to pair the freshest seasonal vegetables of the season with big, gutsy flavors. She keeps the number of ingredients in her dishes down by buying fewer, better quality ingredients: "Good vinegars, citrus, fresh herbs, quality oils and seasonings can make a big difference in taking something "simple" to the next level." Here, she throws together a salad of crisp baby bok choy and carrots with a bright, bold sesame-soy vinaigrette. Get the recipe.

    Make a salad with staying-power. When spring starts to get busy with an intense training schedule, Dessert by Candy turns to this hearty grain salad, easy enough to throw together Read More »from Spring Clean Your Supper: Ideas and Recipes from the Shine Supper Club
  • Rhubarb Recipes: Feast Your Eyes

    by Sarah McColl, Shine staff



    While the rest of the world can't shut up about ramps right now, I find my thoughts attuned to rhubarb alone. Those slender, leggy pink stalks are the head-turners of the spring (asparagus, who?). Rhubarb reminds me of Jane Russell in Gentleman Prefer Blondes: worthy of the spotlight with her tart, smart bon mots, but crowded offstage by a sweet Marilyn Monroe-esque scene stealer: strawberries. Rhubarb deserves its due and with a few different dancing partners. Enter gin, grilled mackerel, red lentils, and other surprising couplings. She's ready for her close-up.



    More Feast Your Eyes:


    Leftover rotisserie chicken recipes


    Healthy quinoa recipes


    Join the Shine Supper Club


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  • Do You Need to Wash Bagged Lettuce?

    Justin Sullivan | Getty ImagesTo wash or not to wash bagged lettuce. That's the question that unleashed a Twitter and blogosphere firestorm after an off-the-cuff on-air comment on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" suggested a second wash might help.

    Food safety experts tend to disagree. If bacteria managed to survive commercial-grade washing in chlorinated water, chances are a trip under your tap isn't going to help, explained Brian Buckley, chef/instructor and food safety expert at the Institute of Culinary Education. On NPR's blog The Salt, they followed up the on-air slip with a post explaining the tenacity of E. coli, noting that not only is it difficult to remove or kill bacteria trapped below the surface of a lettuce leaf, but "there's a real risk that you'll end up adding bacteria to greens that were perfectly clean to start with: Your sink or cutting board may be dirtier than the lettuce."

    The opposite is true, too. If the lettuce isn't clean, a wash under the faucet risks contaminating your

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  • What Are Your Happiest Kitchen Accidents (and Most Spectacular Failures)?

    This lady just cooked up something great.You know the scene: It's a weeknight, and it's dinnertime. You open the cabinets and fridge. You see olive oil, half-filled boxes of pasta, milk and some wilted lettuce. What the hell are you going to make for dinner? For some, as many of you have said in the comments, this is a thrill. Who knows what will happen! You belong to a naturally intuitive tribe who loves walking into the kitchen without a recipe, throwing in a little of this, a little of that, and seeing what happens. Nigella Lawson has said many times that many of dishes are born from a midnight scrounge of odds and ends.

    I am bad at that kind of cooking. Like, spectacularly bad. Several years ago as a novice, curious cook keen on experimentation, I attempted a sweet-salty pairing of anchovies and jam. It seemed so promising in theory, that agrodulce the Italians love so much. But in reality? Weird. I've more or less stuck to recipes since then, at least as a template.

    But this week I had the kind of kitchen serendipity

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  • Feast Your Eyes: Leftover Rotisserie Chicken Recipes

    by Sarah McColl, Shine staff



    The store-bought rotisserie chicken is my favorite easy peasy dinner, but in a household with only two people I can always count on a second half to contend with. How do you make those rotisserie chicken leftovers seem new? My standbys are a spicy-sweet chicken salad with Greek yogurt, grapes, cilantro, red onion, and curry powder, or a big chopped salad with romaine, grape tomatoes, and feta tossed a tart vinaigrette. But my new short order chicken dinner has won our hearts: pre-made Indian curry sauces (Maya Kaimal is my favorite) simmered with the shredded chicken and frozen cauliflower--maybe some peas if I have them on hand--and served over brown rice. Done and done.



    Even with tried and trues we all get hungry for something new. These leftover rotisserie chicken recipes cover the salad and stew bases with a few super-fast pasta dishes in between. Some feel special and a little elegant, while others are just the kind of comfort we crave on crisp

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  • Shine Supper Club: Spring Clean Your Supper

    Spring has officially sprung: I've got a bouquet of daffodils on my desk and asparagus on my mind. Because after a season of braises, short ribs, and roasted root vegetables, lighter spring fare is starting to sound just right. I'm already having outdoorsy food-focused fantasies: picnics on crisp afternoons, sandwiches stashed in backpacks for weekend hikes, a ladies brunch with fizzy rhubarb cocktails...

    But, ahem, there's still reality to contend with. The weeknight dinner rush doesn't vanish with brighter, warmer days (despite our most vivid daydreams). This month, we're asking for your tips, tricks, shortcuts and secrets for spring cleaning your supper. What's your go-to spring recipe for the lighter, healthier fare that feels right, right now?

    I'm a huge fan of a whole roast chicken. When there's no time to pop a bird in the oven myself, I pick up one from the store, already rubbed and roasted in kicky adobo or fresh rosemary and garlic. Then all I need is a box of pre-washed

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