when October disappeared in a flash


Just in case the four of you who still check in here from time to time are wondering, we’re doing fine, slowly settling in and adjusting to our new home in NoVa. This has not been the smoothest of transitions for a variety of reasons, but after two months here, I think I’m finally getting to the point where I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel like I’m living someone else’s life.

My new role has kept me extremely busy – and even though I was warned, I had no idea just how busy I was going to be. More days than not, I see the kids for 10-15 minutes in the morning before I head out the door, and then if I see them at all when I get home in the evening, it’s for just a few minutes before their bedtime. As you can imagine, that’s been hard on us all. But our kids are nothing if not resilient, and we’ve been trying to fill our weekends with as much fun and together-time as we can muster.


As you can also imagine, our dinners have been, of necessity, as simple as possible. Mike has taken on the lion’s share of the cooking, and we’ve been the lucky recipients of a few edible care packages from my mom. But I’ve had a few chances to knock around in our new kitchen, and one recent dinner that elicited a lot of comments on social media was my tried-and-true sheet pan nachos. So for those of you who asked, here’s how I make them.


These are super easy and endlessly adaptable, and you can even prep most of the components ahead of time. I start by lining my pan with parchment (foil also works but isn’t quite as sturdy), and drizzling on just a tiny bit of olive oil. Then for each pan I’m preparing, I spread 1 can of refried black or pinto beans in the center, leaving maybe a 1.5 inch border around the edge (I’ve found one sheet pan serves 4 adults generously). I put a layer of chips around the edge, then scatter a cup or two of grated cheese all over (cheddar, Jack, pepper jack, mozzarella, or any combo works well). That goes into a preheated 350 degree oven just until the cheese starts to bubble.

While the tray is in the oven, I get the remaining layers together (amounts are per pan): a can (or 1.5 cups cooked from dry) black or pinto beans, drained; another 1-2 cups grated cheese; seasoned ground or shredded beef or shredded or chopped chicken (I cook mine with a mix of cumin and garlic and chili powders or paste, plus a little tomato – like so). Or skip the meat entirely and pile on some zucchini or corn or mushrooms. For the nachos pictured here, I had a container of peperonata to use up, so I put that on too – but plain roasted peppers and onions also work well.


All of that gets layered on to the beans/cheese, with some additional chips squished in (I sort of stand them on edge to they don’t get too soggy). Then it all goes back into the oven for about 10 minutes to warm through. I finish it under the broiler (did I mention our new oven has a broiler on top? We are SO EXCITED about this), pulling the tray out when the cheese is golden brown.

Then just before serving, add your cold toppings. I like to shred red cabbage and toss it with salt and a little fresh lime juice to scatter over the top, but shredded lettuce works just as well. Sliced or chopped avocado is great, as are diced fresh tomatoes, black olives, pickled or fresh red onions, scallions, pickled or fresh jalapeños, sour cream or Mexican crema or Greek yogurt, and of course your favorite salsa/hot sauce. And I always serve the nachos with extra bowls of chips on the side.


Oh, and if you happen to have leftovers, the “put an egg on it” rule totally applies. It’s nice to know that some things never change.


A little shameless spouse-promotion
: while we were in the midst of this major life upheaval, my dearest wrapped up work on his second book! Whiskey: A Spirited Story with 75 Classic and Original Cocktails is set for release in May of next year, and is currently available for pre-order. As if that weren’t enough excitement, that same day the revised and updated paperback edition of Shrubs hits stores, with a foreword by Imbibe executive editor, Paul Clarke. Both books feature lovely cover art by Vancouver photographer, blogger, and woman-about-town Kristy Gardner. Never a dull moment Chez Dietschblossom!

SHRUBS on Tour!


We’ve had a fairly lackluster week of eating, so I won’t share a photo of last night’s delicious but majorly fugly chicken-corn-cheddar chowder. I did want to mention, however, that two weeks from today (That’s November 7th), Mike and I will be at Tait Farm in Centre Hall, PA, for a Shrub Party & Book Signing! We’re bringing the kids. And my parents. And we’d love to see you, if you’re in the area! Here’s the info from Tait Farm’s website:

Friday Evening, November 7, 5 to 8pm – Special Guest and Author, Michael Dietsch will be signing copies of his newly released book, “Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times” which features Tait Farm Foods! Its a great gift idea alongside your favorite flavors of The Original Shrub.

I *think* we’ll be there early Saturday, as well, so if you can’t make it Friday night, maybe you can swing by the following day. Thanks again for your support!


a little big news

shrubs teaser

If you were around last Friday, you may have heard my husband‘s big announcement; and if you haven’t, well, I feel it is my duty to share some wonderful news with you.

While I’ve been spending the last few months not-so-much-cooking, and not-so-much-eating, and mostly putting all my energy into incubating Sprog 2.0, Mike has been pouring his heart and soul and considerable talents into a pretty major project of his own: a book. SHRUBS: AN OLD-FASHIONED DRINK FOR MODERN TIMES, is set for release in July of 2014. If you don’t yet know what a shrub is, well, my Dietsch is the guy to explain it to you.

shrubs cover 500sq

My own involvement with this project goes a little beyond taste tester and head cheerleader, as well: I shot the cover (!), and will be providing additional photos for the book (!!), which is exciting and surreal and more than a little nerve-wracking, since our deadline falls right around the time the new baby is due, but hey, an opportunity like this is a once in a lifetime thing. It’s a thrill to have some tiny part in helping Mike’s lifelong dream become a reality.

Big, big congrats, sweetie – I am so proud of you, and hopefully this is just the beginning.

I’m an Olive Adventurer!


I don’t usually post about brand partnerships here, but I have a longstanding love for olives, and when I was asked earlier this year by the folks at Lindsay Olives to contribute a couple of my original recipes to their Olive Adventurer series, I was happy to oblige. (I’m in excellent company, as you can see!)

You can get my recipes for Braised Escarole with White Beans and Olives, and Spaghettini alla Caponata (pictured above) over at LindsayOlives.com. Enjoy!

From the Heart

those beans

One of the very best things I did this week, one of the best moments of my life, was to call my beloved Grandma on Wednesday evening. I called to tell her that her name, and my recipe that was inspired by a dish that she has made countless times over the course of her 89 years, a humble pot of beans, no less, was featured in the New York Times. Those beans, those beans that I *had* to figure out how to make for myself years ago, those beans that she makes as effortlessly as breathing, no measuring, like all of her beloved dishes, they just come together, perfectly, every single time. My spin on my Grandma’s borrachos, with her name-checked as inspiration, is in the New. York. Times.

singing to Chela

When I ask my Marina in person (way, WAY not often enough), or on the phone (also not often enough), how she makes X, or Y, or Z, there are never measurements. It’s just How We Cook. Handfuls and pinches, and “a leetle beet” – “everybody’s hands are different,” she always, always says. She is WHY I cook, she is my star, she is my heart, and if you could have heard how this amazing 89 year old woman giggled when I gave her the news that these beans, OUR beans, hit the big time, it would have made your heart grow about three sizes. And then melt. It did mine.

So check out this awesome interactive feature which highlights not just our beans, but 19 other amazing potluck-friendly recipes curated by (food52 Team Awesome) Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. And if you live in Providence, don’t be surprised if you can’t find a copy of the Sunday NYT – Amanda’s got an incredible piece in the Magazine about her new book, and WOW, I’m in that piece too, and Mike and I will be up bright and early tomorrow to buy up copies of the paper to send to our people back home. Most importantly, to my Grandma Marina, mi Abuela, my heart, my biggest inspiration.

Dinner and a Movie

So after our big day yesterday (which you can now get a sneak peek at on Projo.com), I was eager to tuck into one of my husband‘s homemade pizzas for dinner. After our meat-heavy weekend, we elected to go for a vegetarian pie topped with a few fresh, seasonal goodies.

Mike dressed his standard crust with a layer of Amanda Hesser’s deliciously jammy roasted cherry tomatoes (from this food52 recipe), a blend of cheeses (including our favorite fresh mozz from Narragansett Creamery), and thin mandolined slices of zucchini.

Dinner: September 7, 2010

I gave the pizza a shower of freshly grated Pecorino Romano when it came out of the oven, along with a sprinkle of fresh marjoram leaves and a drizzle of Sicilian olive oil. The roasted tomatoes made for a delicious “sauce”, melting down even further into little orbs bursting with concentrated tomato flavor, and we loved how the paper-thin zucchini crisped and melded into the cheese.

The marjoram, too, was a welcome change from basil, with a deeper, earthier flavor to complement the more concentrated flavor of the roasted tomato “sauce”, a gentle reminder a that cooler weather and heartier fare are not too far away.