Ratatouille Sub


It sounds weird, but this mixture really produces a sandwich that easily rivals a meatball sub and even exceeds it!  This recipe is oh so easy and very budget friendly; and look how pretty it is when ready to be baked.

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook


1 long, thin eggplant ( Japanese variety)

1 long thin zucchini

1 long thin yellow squash

1-2 red bell peppers, long and narrow if you can find them

1/2 small yellow onion

1 cup tomato sauce

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil


Red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

2- 8 inch sub rolls, we use whole wheat Turano brand


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare the vegetables.  Trim the ends of the eggplant, zucchini, and squash, with a mandolin, slice each in to 1/16″ thick.  Carefully trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the flesh in tact to make a tube.  Thinly slice crosswise, thinly slice the onion as well.  In a 2-quart baking dish, spread the tomato sauce, stir in the minced garlic and sliced onion, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, a few pinches of salt and red pepper flakes to taste.  Arrange the slices of eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red peppers so that they overlap and show a bit of each ( see picture)  Drizzle the remaining olive oil and the thyme.  Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake about 15 minutes more with the oven increased to 425.  Split the sub rolls and warm up for 5 minutes in the oven, top with cheese if desired and then layer the vegetables on top of your rolls including the tomato sauce and enjoy!!


Tuna Avocado Grape Salad



Doesn’t this just LOOK delicious?  As a quick lunch, or even an appetizer, this is so easy and so good!  After hearing this commercial about Mexican avocados and tuna, I whipped this together with in season grapes and cilantro- I enjoyed it with wheat crackers, but this would be great in a while wheat wrap as well!

1/2 an avocado, diced

1 can tuna in water, drained

1/2 cup grapes, halved

small handful cilantro, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil, or more to coat

pinch of salt, to taste

1/4 tsp pepper, to taste

Toss all together and eat it up!

Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby

There is nothing better than pancakes or crepes for breakfast on the weekend, but dropping endless cups of batter on to a skillet making 20 pancakes for 2 people is usually wastefull and so time consuming!  This “dutch baby” is a hybrid of a crepe and a pancake that makes itself in the oven while you can enjoy your coffee.  You can easily double the recipe to serve four and simply use 4- 8″ cake pans rather than the skillet.  We can’t wait to try more combinations of spices and subsitute flours to make endless variations of this special breakfast treat.  This one is a perfect match for a Thanksgiving weekend breakfast, spices from cookies that are soon to come for the Christmas season!  Enjoy

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook


2 large eggs

1 TBS dark brown sugar

1 TSP unsulfured molasses

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 TSP ground cinnamon

1/8 TSP ground ginger

1/8 TSP fresh grated nutmeg

1/8 TSP salt

1/3 cup 2% milk

2 TBS unsalted butter

confectioners sugar and maple syrup to serve

Preheat oven to 400 degress,  Whirl the eggs in a blender until pale in color, add remaining ingredients ( except butter and confectioners sugar/ syrup) and process until smooth.  Melt the butter in a 10″ oven proof skillet, swirl up the sides of the pan so it is all coated.  Pour batter in to prepared skillet and bake for 15-20 minutes, till golden and cooked through.  Slide pancake on to a plate and serve with powdered sugar and maple syrup.  Serves 2

Thomas Keller’s Split Pea Soup

We received this fantastic cookbook for a wedding gift called Ad hoc at Home by Chef Thomas Keller– ( our good friends saw us drooling over it when they made us his asparagus poached egg salad over the summer at their house… thanks guys!)  it is a gorgeous collection of recipes, in a stunning book, by this amazing chef for meals made “ad hoc” and at home.  If you don’t know Keller, maybe you’ve heard of The French Laundry or Bouchon or even ad hoc…. anyhow, he’s world renowned and award-winning and we have some of his recipes now!  Here we made the Split Pea Soup, our way with some changes ( of course) but for the better- it’s easier and more streamlined Keller recommends cooling the stock after removing the aromatic vegetables, and before adding back the split peas and the ham hock to help the split peas cook more evenly, which given that we were going to puree them, didn’t seem to be worth the extra time so we just threw the peas and hock back into the hot stock and started the second cooking and we kept our veggies and blended em right on there- why toss out delicious carrots and onions?  We also couldn’t get leeks but instead used a red onion and a yellow onion to get 4 cups chopped onion, and used frozen peas,  it was still an incredible, velvety pea soup since it pureed yet you add in whole peas and chunks of salty ham for a nice bite and the flavors were rich and complex with this cooking method we’ve never bought a ham hock before at Urban Kitchen… Here we share this wonderful cold weather approved soup with you and hope that you enjoy making it and eating it even more!

Split Pea Soup

Adapted from a recipe by – Thomas Keller from The Ad Hoc at Home Cookbook


  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped leeks, or more onion
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • Kosher salt
  • 1-2 smoked ham hock (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 3 quarts chicken stock ( not broth!)
  • 1 pound split peas, small stones removed, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups peas, frozen or fresh
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream or plain yogurt
  • Mint leaves


  1. Heat the canola oil in an 8 to 10 quart stock pot over medium heat.  Add the carrots, leeks, onions, and a generous pinch of salt.  Reduce the heat to low, cover with a parchment lid ( see ours below!), and cook very slowly, stirring occasionally, for 35-40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.  Remove and discard the parchment lid.
  2. Add the ham hock and chicken stock, bring to a simmer and simmer for 45 minutes.  Then add the split peas and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 1 hour, or until the split peas are completely soft (do not worry if the peas start to break apart, as they will be pureed).
  3. Remove the soup from the heat, and remove and reserve the ham hock to cool.  Season the soup with 2 tablespoons vinegar and salt to taste, and add the peas and crème fraîche.  Transfer some of the soup to a blender, filling it only about 1/3 full, and blend on a very low speed until pureed.  Transfer to a bowl and puree the rest of the soup in batches. or use an immersion blender right in the pot.  Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper to taste.  The soup can be refrigerated up to 2 days.  It will continue to thicken as it cools, add a bit of stock or water when reheating if it becomes too thick.
  4. Pull away and discard the skin and fat from the ham hock.  Trim the meat and cut into bite-sized dice.
  5. To serve, reheat the soup and ladle into warm bowls, passing the diced meat and mint leaves as garnishes.

Serves 6

“Marinated” Kale and Green Bean Salad

Veggie side recipes are abundant, but often never tried out- we all have our favorite ways to eat veggies and usually seeing a recipe like this one seems too much work.  But we made this semi marinated, and served it hot because that’s what we wanted with our dinner.  It’s important to know that you can alter recipes to suit YOU.  So here we have not really marinated the Kale but rather sautéed it with the flavors from the recipe, tossed with steamed green beans and parmesan, wa- lah delicious, fresh with a spicy kick veggie side, that can easily be brought to your Thanksgiving table feast!

Marinated Kale and Green Bean Salad

Adadapted from Bon Appetit: If you want to do this the cold way, BA says “the longer the raw kale sits in its lemony vinaigrette, the more tender it will become. If you prefer a crisper salad, let it sit for an hour or two; for a softer texture, chill it for up to 1 day.”


  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bunch Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut lengthwise into 1/2″ strips (about 8 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Ingredient Info

    Tuscan kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Lacinato kale, or cavolo nero, has long, narrow, dark-green bumpy leaves; it’s available at farmers’ markets and some supermarkets.


  • Heat a large dutch oven skillet over medium heat with Olive oil.  Add kale lemon juice, honey, and red pepper flakes and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the kale is bright green and slightly tender remove from heat and put in a large serving bowl.
  • Cook beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain beans.
  • Add beans to kale and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with grated cheese.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Just the title is enough, really, but then LOOK at that photo.  Who doesn’t want to enjoy these decadent, fall sweet warm gooey breakfast treats?  Growing up, my sister and I made a lot of these, out of a can, and even though I will always treasure those memories, nothing is better than the real thing- ever.  Cinnamon is one of those smells that brings fall and winter to a beautiful place…  it’s HOME, it’s love and it’s aroma baking something delicious in the oven is enough to bring everyone to the table eager to see what you’ve created.  The pumpkin is very subtle and has just enough hint of flavor to know these aren’t ordinary but extraordinary.  These rolls are made from simple pantry ingredients, and made the night before, they are very easy to make.  This is the second time this kitchen has made them, the first time they turned out just a bit drier then I would prefer, so this time I’ve tweaked the recipe to make them gooey ooey tender light and perfect.  I found the dough very easy to work with, I didn’t even need a rolling pin this time, the dough was so tender and pliable that I just stretched it to the size needed on a very well floured surface.  Here’s the thing- this isn’t going to be a quick recipe, it takes time to rise and time to assembled and more time to rise, but it IS easy and the ingredients are easy so do not be intimidated.  I made these last night and when indicated, stored them in the fridge to make today AND tomorrow for our sleepover guests!  It serves 10 people total, or 6-8 very hungry people… heheheehee  Now, go bake!!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Baked Elements

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, to be divided
2/3 cup whole milk, warmed (but not over 116 degrees)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from 1 .25-ounce or 7 gram envelope yeast)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
1/4 cup (packed) light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cups pumpkin puree, canned
1 large egg
Butter for coating rising bowl

3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make your dough: Melt your butter in a little saucepan, lightly brown it for extra flavor: when the butter has melted, keep cooking it over medium heat for a few additional minutes. It will become hissy and sizzle a lot, then take on a nutty flavor as golden bits form at the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and pour in to a clean small bowl- set aside to cool slightly.

Combine your warmed milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside. After five to seven minutes, it should be a bit foamy. If it’s not, you might have some bad yeast and should start again with a newer packet.

In the bottom of the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. Add just 1/4 cup of your browned butter and stir to combine. Add yeast-milk mixture, pumpkin and egg and mix combined. Switch mixer to a dough hook and run it for 5 minutes on low.

Scrape mixture into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour in a draft-free place; it should just about double.

While it is rising, line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans (8-inch round should work too, as does an 8-inch square) with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan and the paper.

Assemble buns: Scoop dough onto a very well floured surface and flour the top of it well. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 16×11-inch rectangle. Brush reserved melted/browned butter over dough. Stir together remaining filling ingredients and sprinkle mixture evenly over dough. Starting on a longer side, roll the dough into a tight spiral. It’s going to make a mess because the dough is crazy soft and some stuff spills off the ends; don’t sweat it. It will all be delicious in the end.

Here’s how to cut cinnamon rolls without squishing their pretty spirals: With a sharp serrated knife, using absolutely no pressure whatsoever (only the weight of the blade should land on the dough) gently saw your log with a back-forth motion into approximately 1-inch sections. When a soft dough like this is rolled, it tends to grow longer, which means that you’ll have the option to either make more buns (say, 18 instead of 16) or just cut them a little larger (in generous inches).

Divide buns between two prepared pans. You can sprinkle any sugar that fell off onto the counter over them. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.

If you’re doing this ahead of time, you can now put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, leave them out for an hour to warm up and finish rising.

15 minutes before you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, you can make the glaze. Beat your cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Drizzle in milk until you get the consistency you’re looking for, either thick enough to ice or thin enough to drizzle.

Finish your buns: Remove the plastic and bake buns for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden and the aroma is intoxicating transfer pans to wire cooling racks and drizzle/schmear with cream cheese glaze, and ENJOY every sticky finger licking bite.

Tomato Sauce- on a budget

We found this recipe on our favorite blog and it was so intriguing we had to try: 3 ingredients! Hello budget friendly, so how perfect to follow up with last weeks posts. This recipe is so easy, so affordable and so good we can’t wait to share it and hopefully you will give it a try! You will not believe how these ingredients transform until you taste it—

Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking

Serves 4 as a main course; makes enough sauce to lightly coat most of a pound of spaghetti

2- 28 ounces can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano, if you can find them)*
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste

Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan- 3-quart, over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste  and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.

Serve with whole wheat angel hair spaghetti, with or without grated parmesan or fresh mozzarella and basil…



Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette



First, this is another way to save: cook vegetarian meals!  We cook 80% vegetarian, and not on purpose, we just love our veggies and pastas and grains and bread and cheese and don’t miss meat every single night of the week.  We love our steak, don’t get us wrong, but at 9.99-15.99/ lb, it’s hard to buy often.  So if you are looking to save, save on meats, but mushrooms to substitute ground meat in chili ( you won’t miss it!!) and make recipes that are so so so amazing you won’t even notice it is meatless- like the gorgeous Galette.  What’s upsetting is that we’ve never made one of these before- we love making pizzas and tarts and this is BETTER then both of them.  It holds all this amazing filling on a flaky crust of perfection, mouth-watering just remembering it!  True to savings from, we use fall favorites in here- Butternut Squash at 1.19/ lb with caramelized onions, cheese and sage… please try this, you will want to keep making it for your family every week…



Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:
1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter (if you have only non-stick, the smaller amount will do)
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3/4 cup Fontinella ( or Fontina) cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves, or 3/4 tsp Ground Sage

1. Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

4. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.

5. Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.

6. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.

Fruit “Gone Bad”? Don’t Toss it….

All week we’ve been sharing grocery shopping tips, tricks to stocking your pantry and saving on food cost in general. Today we have a few ideas on how to use fruit ” gone bad”, aka, bananas that are too ripe and orange peels or bad apples. It’s easy to toss them out, but just as easy to use them if you know what to do! These are just a couple that are used and purchased most often here at our house: Apples, Oranges and Bananas

When you have ripe bananas, of course you can just whip up a banana bread, pancakes and even muffins… but if you aren’t ready to do that you can freeze them till you are. Just peel and put them in a Ziploc bag to store in your freezer. The options are endless on how to use them:

Toss one in your breakfast ( or dessert) smoothies, like here, here, and here

Use them in baking, pull out what you need to thaw first then- banana bread is good but also mashed bananas can be used as a substitute for part of the oil in many baking recipes and can also be used instead of eggs. Try making this delicious healthy Chocolate Banana Souffle as a dessert

Dip frozen bananas in melted dark chocolate for dessert too as we did here!

Next is a tip for scraps from apples and oranges and is perfect fall and winter


If you have any bad apples ( whether the texture is off or it’s bruised) or you just had it as a snack you can cut it up, use the core and simmer on your stove with cinnamon sticks or other spices like clove or nutmeg.  We also add in scraps from oranges, the peels and lemon peels too.  It will add humidity to the dry winter air in your home and smell so good.  Think about the savings on candles and wall scent plugs…