Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Panko Crusted Sesame Chicken

This is a really simple recipe with only 4 ingredients... but they all work together to create a new taste sensation. It's easy to do, not as heavy as traditional breaded chicken, and is a huge hit around here.

2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp salt
6-8 chicken breasts, pounded
Sesame Oil

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat enough sesame oil to fully cover (and then some) a large pan. On a large paper plate mix panko and salt. Coat each individual chicken breast with panko, using your hands to press the panko onto the chicken. 

Once oil is rippling, place chicken breasts into it. You may need to work in batches, so that you don't over crowd the pan, re-coating the pan with sesame oil each time. You should hear a sizzle, if you don't your oil is not hot enough. Heat chicken on one side until you can see the sides start to turn white, and it becomes easy to turn. Flip chicken over. Cook for a few more minutes until panko is a golden brown.

Remove chicken from pan and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet.  Continue cooking all chicken breasts this way until they have all been browned. Place cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes-- until the chicken is cooked through. Serve.

Soy-butter glazed carrots

When I was pregnant, I ate a lot of carrots. A. Lot. But, because I'm crazy, I tried to limit the amount of my intake due to naturally occurring nitrates in the carrots (told you... C.R.A.Z.Y). When my kids were born, I made my own baby food from scratch... for all four. However, the only food I did not make from scratch, but chose to purchase, was pureed carrots. Every book I read said that when you puree your own carrots, you are unable leach out all of the nitrates, and I certainly didn't want to risk any extra nitrate consumption, when it was otherwise avoidable. 

Regardless of how and why I limited my intake, my kids are obsessed with carrots. They like to have them, A. LOT. These days I am less concerned about naturally occurring nitrate intake, and more concerned about the realistic fear that they might turn orange. I also like carrots, but these days, I find I need to switch it up a little bit, so we (I) don't always have them the same way. 


6 cups of julienned carrots
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 TBS of salted butter
1 tsp sugar


Bring a large stock pot of salted water to boil. Once a rolling boil is achieved, blanch your carrots in the water until just tender... about 7 minutes. (Technically not a true blanch, since you are leaving them in longer than a minute... but you don't want them to take on any extra water, or become too mushy). Remove from water and drain. Empty pan of water and return to stove. On low, melt the butter and whisk in soy sauce and sugar. Return carrots to pan, and stir until sauce coats them all. Cook on low for 5 minutes. Remove and serve. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Beef Stew


2 lbs cubed stew meat
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 TBS salted butter
5 sprigs of Rosemary
1 1/2 cups of Red Wine (I use Merlot)
1 large yellow onion, chopped in large pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
5 ribs of celery, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups of beef stock
1 1/2 TBS of tomato paste, divided use.


Cover the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil. Heat on high. In a ziplock baggie, combine 1/4 cup flour, salt and pepper. Add stew meat to baggie and shake, to coat minimally, with flour mixture. You are not trying to completely coat all meat, just to get a little bit of them covered. Don't be alarmed if you are left with extra flour.

When oil starts to smoke, working in batches, layer the bottom of your dutch oven with beef. Slightly brown beef on two sides. You don't want to cook the meat, so do this quickly. You also don't want to over crowd your pan, as that will cause less browning and more cooking. Remove browned beef to sit in a large plate or glass pan. (You want something that will allow you to catch all the juices that run out.

Pre-heat oven to 300. Once beef is browned and removed from the pan, lower heat to medium. Melt butter in the pan. Add in rosemary and red wine. Whisk to bring up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring wine to boil, then reduce heat.  Allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Add onion, tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes and garlic. When onions start to soften, add browned beef and any juices that have accumulated. Pour in beef stock, and stir. Add in 1/2 TBS of tomato paste, and stir until incorporated. Place pan into the oven.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Add in the rest of the tomato paste, stirring, and taste for salt and pepper. Add as necessary.   Return to the oven and bake for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

I served mine in bowls with biscuits the first night, and on the second reheated in a 350 oven for 25 minutes in bread bowls. Simply scoop out the top and inside of bread, butter and salt the inside of the bread, and fill with stew. Place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet on a middle rack.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Roasted Chicken Soup with Rice

If you, like me, have young kids, knowing how to make your own chicken soup is a must. I make a traditional chicken noodle from scratch (which I'll share at a later date), but I also make a roasted version, with rice, anytime I roast chickens this way.  This recipe starts, when you pull your chicken out of the oven, and have removed it from the roasting pan to sit.


1 chicken, roasted and meat removed in small pieces.
Pan drippings from roasting
3 large sprigs of thyme
6 rosemary sprigs
5 ribs of celery diced in small pieces
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup of long grain white rice
7 cups of chicken stock.
Juice of one lemon.
Salt and pepper to taste.


Strain the liquid from your roasting pan, into a large dutch oven. 

Add in herbs and turn heat to medium. You don't need to remove the leaves, as they will fall off the stems during cooking. When your soup is done, simply remove them before serving.

Add in chopped vegetables, salt and pepper, and stir. Cook until softened. 

Add 6 cups of chicken stock, and bring liquid to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to simmer, and add the cup of rinsed rice. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add in chicken meat, torn into bite sized pieces. Add lemon juice, and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes. Remove herb stems and serve.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Basic Roast Chicken

We have roast chicken almost every week. It's easy, you can make it a variety of ways, and it's a family favorite. But what I love most about roasting chicken is how it lends itself greatly to many other great recipes. Broth, gravy, tetrazini, enchiladas, chicken noodle soup, and many other great foods all start with roast chicken... All that changes is how you season it. When I roast chicken, I know we'll be enjoying it in at least two different ways throughout the week.

The recipe that follows is the most simple of flavor profiles. I roast it this way when I want to serve it with gravy over mashed potatoes, make chicken soup for sickies, or keep on hand for sandwiches.


2 large whole chickens for roasting
2 large white onions, halved and quartered
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
8 ribs of celery, cut into four pieces each
8 carrots, peeled and cut into four pieces each
Handful of Italian parsley
8 sprigs of rosemary
10 sprigs of thyme
Olive oil


Preheat oven to 400. Remove any giblets from the inside of your chickens. Generously coat the inside of each bird with olive oil, salt and pepper. Stuff each cavity with a few sprigs of parsley, rosemary, thyme, four pieces each of onion, carrots, celery, and 2 garlic cloves. Spread the remaining herbs and vegetables on the bottom of a large heavy bottomed roasting pan. Place chickens in the pan, breast side down. Coat chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper. Flip chickens over and repeat on breast side. Place a leave-in-thermometer behind the thigh, and roast to 170. (About 1 1/2 hours). Remove chicken from the pan and place on a cutting board to rest for 20-30 minutes. Carve and serve. Or, remove chicken from bone and use elsewhere.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Avocado Aioli


1/2 cup mayo
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt

Scoop out the avocado flesh into a metal bowl. Add mayo, lemon, salt, and garlic. Mash together using the back of a fork, until ingredients completely combined.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sugared Strawberries

Sugaring fruit, and letting it sit, helps it to release it's natural juices. (It's similar to salting eggplant or cucumbers to  release excess water). I use this recipe for strawberries, over everything. Shortcake, vanilla ice cream, vanilla pudding, and tonight? Over Pancakes for dinner.


1 basket of fresh strawberries
1 1/2 TBS granulated sugar
1 tsp almond extract


Stem and slice your strawberries. Sprinkle sugar over them, and add almond extract. Gently mix to coat all strawberries. Set in the refrigerator to chill and juice, at least 1 hour before serving, no more than 4. Serve.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Au Jus

This is a basic Au Jus that can be adapted after cooking any type of roast, utilizing the brown bits and flavor that accumulate at the bottom of your roasting dish. After cooking, remove the roast from the baking dish, and set aside to rest.


4TBS of butter
1 TBS of flour
1 cup of red wine
3 cups of beef stock


Melt 4 TBS of butter in the roasting pan. Whisk in 1 TBS of flour on high heat for at least 3 minutes. You want to do this at a relatively high heat, whisking the entire time, to make sure you cook out the taste of flour. Add in the red wine, whisking to bring up all the brown bits stuck to the bottom from the roasting process. Add in beef broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Whisking frequently, allow liquid to reduce, about 30 minutes. The au jus should be thick, but still more liquid than gravy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Simple Prime Rib


3-4 bone prime rib
2 TBS fresh Thyme leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 clove of garlic


When ordering your prime rib from the butcher, have them remove the bones, and then tie them back to the roast. The bones act as a natural roasting rack, and provide extra flavor to the roast and for Yorkshire Pudding, or Au Ju, should you choose to make them at the same time. By having them removed before cooking, you make the carving process easier without losing the flavor.

When cooking any type of meat, it is best to cook using a meat thermometer. You want to cook to the correct temperature  v/s a specific time. It's the only way to ensure the meat reaches the level of doneness you prefer. For a rare roast you are looking for an internal temp of 125, 135 for medium rare, and 140 for medium. Because a roast will continue to cook once removed from the oven, and you want to let it sit for 30 minutes, it's done when it reaches 5 degrees BEFORE your desired temp. Remove it at 120, 130, or 135 respectively.

Preheat Oven to 450. Peel the garlic clove, and rub over entire roast. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. Rub olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves over the roast. Be generous, this is a large piece of meat and keep in mind you are seasoning the entire piece. Place in an oven safe roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes at 450, to sear in the flavor. Turn the heat down to 350. If you don't have a meat thermometer, or you want a basic time guideline, figure 15 minutes per pound for medium-rare (the typical Prime Rib is served at this temp).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Risotto Bolognese

I love spaghetti sauce. I love pasta. But sometimes? I don't want them both together. That's where this dish comes from. A great pasta alternative. The flavors in this risotto not only mimic the flavors in the bolognese, but also compliment them. A yin to a yang, if you will. Plus, I love risotto... any way I can get it. (And yes, if you want to, you could serve this bolognese over pasta... But I'm telling you, after you have it like this? You may not want to.)



4 Tbs butter
6 ribs of celery, tops and bottoms trimmed, chopped
2 handfuls of baby carrots (about 40), sliced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 oz ham, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
28 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can puréed tomatoes
1 tsp tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste


Melt butter in a large stock pot. When melted add in onions, celery, carrots and garlic.

Sauté vegetables until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add in ham and sauté for 5 more minutesX. Add in ground beef and two pinches of salt, breaking meat up with a skillet, stirring frequently. When meat is cooked through add tomatoes, purée, tomato paste, wine, and broth.  Bring sauce to a boil. When boiling, turn heat down to medium. At this point it will look like there is too much liquid, don't fret it will reduce down. in the picture below, you can see the line of where the sauce started, and how far down it reduced in just 20 minutes of cooking.

Simmer for 30-40 minutes, about as long as it will take you to make the risotto, stirring frequently.  Season to taste before serving.



4 Tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4oz ham, chopped
2 1/2 cups arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
7 cups beef broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
10 sprigs of Italian parsley, leaves removed and chopped
Salt to taste


Pour stock into a large stock pot, heat on low.  In a large rounded sauce pan melt butter. Sauté ham, onions and garlic until softened. 

Add in rice, and stir until rice starts to brown. Add wine, stirring until fully incorporated. The key to a creamy risotto (which, by the way, refers to the method of cooking and NOT the rice itself) is to stir, stir, and stir again. You want to add in a little bit of warm liquid, sir until its fully absorbed by the rice, and then add some more. You don't want to add too much liquid, just enough to barely cover the rice (see picture below). Be patient, and your patience will reward you with super creamy risotto!

Once the broth has all been absorbed, whisk in the cream and parsley. Your risotto should be creamy, but not runny. Salt to taste. Ladle a generous amount onto a plate, making a crater in the center. Spoon bolognese in to center, and serve together. 

This makes a lot! If you don't have as many mouths to feed, and you don't want lots of leftovers, you can halve the recipe and it will work just as nicely.

Also, this can be made dairy free by using olive oil in place of butter, and omitting the cream... However, if you can have dairy, I suggest leaving it as is. It may not be the most figure flattering recipe, but it more than makes up for the extra calories by taste!

Roasted Brussels

Brussels, Brussels, and more Brussels. We are a Brussel Sprout family. In order to satiate all of our brussel craving, it takes at least four bags of brussel sprouts per meal. And even then, someone (usually me, since everyone else has no shame in stealing them off my plate, while I'm up getting something for someone else) is never feeling like they had enough...

I do a version of them like this quite often, but today I'm going to talk about simply roasting them. It's a lot easier than you might think... the hardest thing about brussel sprouts is the time it takes to prep them. First off, the smaller the sprout, the more tender and sweet it is. To make cleaning/prepping a little easier, what I do is cut of the very bottom of the stem (this removes a little of their bitterness), and then slice them in half from top to bottom. When you do it like this, you will see that their outer leaves will just fall off, saving you the hassle of peeling the outer layer. It also allows some of the inner leaves to fall off, and/or separate from the base of the sprout-- which you want, if like me you are partial to the crispy leaves created by roasting. The crispy leaves are my favorite part about roasting brussels... it's almost like a kale chip in consistency.

A big mistake that people make when cooking brussel sprouts, is not salting them a lot. The salt helps counter the bitterness and, just like the sprout's cousin the cabbage, salt really brings out the flavor.

To roast, preheat your oven to 425. You want a higher oven temp to help crisp them up. But don't worry, they won't get too crispy, the insides will be nice and tender-- and, if you don't want them crispy, you can follow the same steps, just lower your oven to 400.

After you've prepped your brussels, toss them in extra virgin oil, salt (use a heavy hand like mentioned above), and pepper. pour them out on a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast for 20 minutes. That's it. That's all there is to it. Don't be afraid to play around with the length of cooking time, to get the level of crispy/tenderness you desire. And most of all, enjoy them!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Steakhouse Chop Salad

Sad, but true... I tend to judge a steakhouse not only by it's quality of meat, but also by the vegetables it offers. I'm a true carnivore, but I need some greens to go with it. This is my version of one of my favorites. It calls for iceberg lettuce and I am quite aware that as lettuce goes there is no redeeming health benefit, however... Iceberg allows the other flavors of the salad to shine, and makes a nod to the other great steakhouse salad... the wedge. The dressing is sweet, spicy, and tart, as are the ingredients... it's sure to be a favorite of yours, as it is of mine.


2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 small garlic clove, smashed and minced
3/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped into approximately 1/4 inch square pieces.
1 large, firm, beef steak tomato, chopped
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 hearts of palm, rinsed with outer layer removed and only the most inner part chopped. You can find them in a jar, usually near artichoke hearts and olives.

1 shallot, minced


In a small bowl, combine garlic, sugar, salt, mustard, and vinegar. Whisk together to fully incorporate ingredients. Once combined, while whisking, slowly add in the olive oil in a slow and steady stream. This will help to hold the dressing together.

In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients together. Pour dressing over all, and toss to full coat. Serve immediately.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vegan Tomato Soup


8 large tomatoes, cut in large pieces
2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced in 4 large strips
Splash of balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs vegetable oil, divided use
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 cup of chopped carrots
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups of vegetable stock


Preheat Oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss tomatoes and bell peppers in enough vegetable oil to barely coat, about 2 Tbs. Salt and pepper, and add just a splash of balsamic vinegar. Pour onto parchment paper and roast for 40 minutes.

In a large sauce pan, saute onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in 1 Tbs of vegetable oil. When soft and translucent add roasted tomatoes and peppers. Add chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low. Using an immersion blender, puree ingredients together. Serve warm.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

There not one part of me that is willing to give up carbs. Not one. So, we eat a lot of pasta. And I try to make up for the amount of pasta I eat, buy making light and fresh pasta sauces.  One of my favorites is a simple roasted Tomato Sauce, that can be thickened up to make a dip, thinned down to make a soup, and served as is to make a perfect pasta sauce.


10 Roma Tomatoes, quartered
1 red onion, chopped into 8 large chunks
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
Salt, pepper, olive oil
1/2 c chicken stock
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar


Preheat oven to 400. Toss tomatoes, onions, and garlic in a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper, and dump veggies on it. Roast for 30 minutes.

Using parchment paper, transfer roasted vegetables and all the juice to a saucepan. Add chicken stock, tomato paste, and sugar. Using an immersion blender, puree all ingredients. Simmer on low for 10 minutes.

To make a dipping sauce: Omit the chicken stock, adding instead 1/2 cup of fresh breadcrumbs. Serve with warm bread.

To make soup: Add an extra cup of chicken stock. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stephanie's Turtles

Every Christmas that I can remember, my mom's friend Stephanie brings over a plate of miscellaneous holiday cookies. She bakes all kinds of cookies-- sugar cookies, fudge, Hersey Kisses cookies-- they are all on the plate. This plate of cookies is highly anticipated each and every year... but the cookie that is most coveted, and sparks a race to the plate? A cookie she calls: The Turtle. 

A layer of oatmeal crumble, a layer of chocolate, a layer of caramel, and a second layer of crumble. Pure heaven in a bite. The only problem? There are only three of them. Growing-up, my brother and I would battle as to who would be home on cookie day, so that we could remove, re-plate, and hide the turtles. Chores would be negotiated, bribes would be made. They are that good.

So good, that for the last five years, I've been attempting to recreate them, so that I can have a whole plate of these bad boys, all to myself. I've seen similar cookies called carmelitas, I've seen turtle candies that look and taste nothing like the originals. What follows below, is my own adaptation, and a pretty close approximation of what I imagine the original must be... my own version of "Stephanie's Turtles."


40 square caramels
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (don't skimp- really cream is a MUST)
12 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (avoid nestle, use a high quality chocolate such as Ghirardeli, or Scharffenberger... it will make a difference, trust me). 


Peel individual caramels and place in a rounded bottom sauce pan. This sounds tedious, and it is, but it's a great task to give to your kids.  My two-year-old takes this job VERY seriously, and it occupies her for close to 10 minutes (a feat in and of itself!). Add cream, and heat on low until caramel is completely melted and combined. Set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, combine oats, sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and melted butter. Using a fork, combine until ingredients form a crumble-- similar to the texture of a crisp topping.

Grease a 8x8 baking dish with butter, bottom and all sides. Press approximately 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the dish.

Bake for 20 minutes. You will notice that the mixture will puff up and double in size. Make sure it does this, before you remove it from the oven. 

Remove dish and cover the oatmeal mixture with the chocolate chips. They should form an almost solid layer.

Pour the melted caramel over the chocolate chips. 

This will create three distinct layers, however, don't worry if the melted caramel oozes around the spaces between chocolate chips-- trust me, it will all work out evenly in the oven.

Sprinkle the remainder of the oatmeal mixture over the caramel - you should be able to see caramel peeking through. Just like the bottom layer, this top layer of crumble will puff up, and completely cover the top when finished.

Return to the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350. You want to make sure that the chocolate has completely melted, the top of the crumble has puffed up and has turned a golden brown.

Trust me, once you've had these? You won't want to stop making them. For this reason, I don't recommend doubling the recipe. You won't stop eating them until you've eaten them all... it's better to keep temptation at a minimum, and stick with an 8x8 pan.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Braised Short Ribs

I'm a seasonal cook. Not just with the fresh ingredients that I use, but I also let the weather dictate what and how I cook. During the summer, you'll find me marinating meats and veggies for the grill, making homemade salad dressings for main course salads, and playing around with cold treats. During the winter months, I use my ovens like crazy.  I love, love, love roasting. The ease of preparing a meal during nap time (or when my kids are at school), the smells emanating for the oven, the fun of one pot cooking. You can't go wrong. 

I know lots of people swear by their slow cookers, but not me. I figure that if you are going to dirty a pot by searing meat, you might as well use that same pot and transfer it from the stove to the oven.  I think you get more flavor, more texture, and less dishes to do-- if you roast in the oven. 

One of my favorite go to dishes is braising short ribs. Low and slow oven cooking in a liquid creates a fall-off the-bone tender meat. And the flavor? It just can't be matched.


8-10 bone-in short ribs, about 3 inch pieces. (You can find boneless short ribs, but the ribs? They add extra flavor to your dish, and help create a yummy beef broth that you can freeze or use in future meals).
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 sprigs of fresh Thyme
2 TBS brown sugar
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
5 celery ribs, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup red wine (I use Merlot)
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups of chicken stock


Preheat oven to 325. Cover the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil. Add thyme sprigs. Heat on high (but be careful it doesn't burn). 

Once oil starts to ripple, add in short ribs. Brown on all sides. It's easier to do in two batches, than to over crowd the pan (like I did below-- but I was in a hurry). Browning seals in the flavor, and keeps the juices where they belong- in the meat, creating a more tender bite.

Once browned, remove the short ribs from the pan.  Place on a plate, or in a baking dish. You want to catch any juices that escape from the meat, and add them to the pan later. Add carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the pan. Cook until onions become slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add canned tomatoes, wine, brown sugar and chicken stock. Stir to combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn off stove.

Add meat and any escaped liquid back into the pan. Place the ribs, bone-side up. The liquid should just cover the ribs. If too much meat is still exposed, you can add additional chicken stock.

 Place Dutch Oven into the oven. Cook for 3 1/2 hours.