Chicken Noodle Soup

Any time Andy gets the sniffles, I bust this one out in some form or another...


  • 1 whole chicken / *Rotisserie Chicken* (cut some corners if you're pressed for time or energy)
  • 5 carrots; half diced, half rough chopped in 3 inch pieces
  • 1 head of celery; half diced, half rough chopped in 3 inch pieces
  • 2 leeks / 1 onion; rough chop
  • 1 shallot; cut in half
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh herbs: rosemary/thyme/sage/etc.
  • H2O
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic and chili sauce (optional)
  • s&p
  • 1/2 package egg noodles
  1. Break down the whole chicken and remove the skin (if you don't know how to do this, check out the video I posted above). Salt and pepper the pieces.
  2. Heat a large pot with a tablespoon of olive oil and brown the chicken on both sides. Set aside for later.
  3. Add the rough chopped veggies (carrot, celery, leek, shallot), reserving the smaller diced ones for a later step.
  4. When softened, add back in the chicken pieces and cover with water.
  5. Add in the herbs, soy sauce and pepper and bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 1-1 1/2 hours.
  6. Remove the chicken, then strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the veggies. Skim the fat off of the top and pour the broth back into pot.
  7. Shred the chicken (allow it to cool or use rubber gloves so that you don't burn your hands) and add it back into the pot, along with the reserved veggies.
  8. Bring to a boil and add in the egg noodles. Stir until the noodles are cooked.
  9. Taste the broth. If it needs salt or pepper, add more. For some heat, you can add the garlic chili sauce.
  10. Ladle up some of the chicken and veggies into a bowl and then top with a ladle full of the broth.
Hope this chases those sniffles away!

Feeling Under the Weather?

I'll be posting Chicken Noodle Soup tonight. It's currently simmering on the stove, so when it's all done and the dishes are all cleaned up, I'll be serving you a ladle full of my kitchen's best medicine.

Stay Tuned!


BBQ Pulled Pork (Slow Cooker Recipe)

Hey Ya'll (when I say that, I hear Paula Dean in my head)!

How about a recipe that can cook while you're slaving away at the office? Introducing BBQ Pulled Pork straight from the Crockpot. (Don't worry, you don't get swine flu from eating pork.)

If you don't own a Crockpot, head to your choice of discount stores and pick one up. We got ours on sale a while back for about $20 at Kmart. I rarely use it for anything besides pulled pork, but for that price it is worth every penny.

The best cut to use for pulled pork is Boston Butt, which is a cut that comes from the upper part of the shoulder, near the front leg. Sometimes this cut will have all or part of the blade bone in it. My friend, Carmelli, and I picked up some ribs that were trimmed from this section at Costco. It was $14 for a "Butt" load, enough to make Carnitas one night and BBQ Pulled Pork the next. (I'll see if I can get Carmelli to do a guest post on those Carnitas. They were delicious!)

The night prior to making the pulled pork, you can use your favorite rub (homemade or store bought) and season the meat. However, I've found that this doesn't exactly add a mind-blowing additional depth of flavor, so I tend to only do it when I've really preplanned the meal. When I typically make this, I'm doing it to satisfy a craving and I pick up the pork that morning and cook it right away. I think I'll do a side-by-side taste test some other time to further answer this question. For now, here's what I did:

  • Pork butt or shoulder cut ribs
  • 1 Cup apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • 1 beer (I used an amber)
  • 1 Tbs garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tbs onion powder
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • S&P
  • 1 tsp. Liquid Smoke (optional)
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce (homemade or store bought)
  • Rolls or hamburger buns
Throw the pork in the crockpot and season it with the dry ingredients. Then pour the wet ones on top. Cook on low for 8 hours, or until the meat is just about falling apart. Alternatively, you can cook it on high for about half that time.

When the pork looks to be done (again, so tender that it's barely holding together), drain out the liquid. Pull the meat apart using a fork or your fingers (if you've let it cool down) and then place your favorite BBQ sauce and the liquid smoke, if you are using it, in the pot and turn it back to low. A note on the liquid smoke... I would consider myself somewhat of a purist in the kitchen. The only frozen dinners I'll eat are Amy's Mac&Cheese. I worship fresh produce and if I were independently wealthy, I'd spend my days scouring the local Farmer's Markets for fun. That being said, Liquid Smoke adds a depth of flavor that I haven't been able to duplicate- at least not with a Crockpot. Sure, if I had a backyard and a smoker I could get cracking on the natural approach. But we're in the city. We've already set off our smoke detector using our grill on the balcony. I'm making do with the resources I have available.

Back to the basics: Cook the pork for another hour in the BBQ sauce, then serve it on either rolls or hamburger buns. I like serving it on potato rolls, which soak up the sauce and juices really nicely.

The best part about this recipe is the fact that when you come home, your house will ooze with delicious smells. During football season, I'll often get this started right before bed and then we can have it for an early lunch while we're watching the games. It's always a crowd pleaser!

You can top it with cheese, pickles, coleslaw or (as my husband has been known to do) potato chips.

I'll throw a picture up of the finished product this evening. Enjoy!


Gourmet Pizza Night- The Jimmy Pie

Well, hello there blogosphere! Long time, no post. Again, my apologies. The good news is that our oven is back in commission earlier than expected. Thank goodness for warranties!!!

Last night, we had some fine folks over and I made pizza.

Here were the ingredients I used:

1 package Trader Joe's (TJ's) regular pizza dough
1 package TJ's quattro-formaggio cheese
4 cloves minced garlic
1 package proscuitto
1 log of chevre (goat cheese)
1 package asparagus
Fresh basil
Olive oil, S&P

I doubled this recipe, got a few more things for some bruschetta as well and walked out of TJ's for under $50.

1) Let the pizza dough sit at room temperature for at least a half hour before you make the pizza. While it's resting, mince your garlic and chop your asparagus into 3/4 inch strips. Preheat the oven as high as it can go on the bake setting (set mine at 550 degrees F).
2) Cut the dough in half and stretch it into your pizza pan (this one from Bed Bath & Beyond works well and is around $10). You want it to be thin, but without holes. You may want to buy extra dough to practice this part until you get the hang of it.
3) Bake the dough for a few minutes to get it cooked enough to support the toppings. This will help give you a really nice crust.
4) Remove it from the oven and slide a spatula underneath it to loosen it from the pan.
5) Add olive oil and garlic to the crust, then top it with half the cheeses, asparagus and pieces of proscuitto. Add salt and pepper to the top to taste.
6) Place in the oven for five minutes and then when it's getting closer to done, slide it off of the pizza pan and directly onto the oven rack for some additional crisping. Bake until golden crusted and oozing with cheesy-deliciousness.
7) Use a pizza peel or a cutting board to pull it from the oven, top with freshly cut basil and dig in!

This recipe makes enough for two 14 inch pies.


New Post Coming Soon!!!

For those of you who don't know, our stove is broken. It decided to quit on us about two weeks ago and it's going to be two to three weeks before the part comes in to fix it (thanks, Frigidaire).

So, while our less-than-one-year-old-stupid-broken-stove is waiting for repair, I promise you the following posts:

1) a grilling post (watch out, Bobby Flay!)
2) a guest post (my fantastic brother-in-law is going to be cooking up somethin' for ya'll)
3) a crock pot post (Hows about we dig in to some pulled pork sandwiches???)

Happy Eating!


chicken piccata

Ok, I decided against potatoes as my side and in favor of pasta after a frustrating day at the office...

Here are the ingredients I used:

  • 4 chicken breasts, butterflied (split them in the middle so that they fan out and are thin)
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • green beans
  • fresh pasta (Nestle makes Buitoni (any my babe works for Nestle), so I use that when I don't have time/energy to make my own)
  • Olive oil and S&P
  1. Fill a pot and bring it to a boil for when it's time to cook the pasta.
  2. Heat a skillet on medium-high. Salt and pepper the chicken and then place in the pan to cook for a few minutes per side, or until they are nicely golden brown. Set aside.
  3. Add the butter and saute the garlic and shallot.
  4. Add in the flour and whisk or stir to incorporate it all together (flour and butter cooked together forms a roux).
  5. Cook the fresh pasta per the instructions (this typically only takes a few minutes, compared to dry pasta, which takes longer). Throw in the green beans to cook (if you buy french green beans, they are called hericot verts). Drain and set aside.
  6. Add the chicken stock, lemon juice, lemon zest and stir together. Then add the capers. Taste and add salt, pepper as needed.
  7. Reserve a few tablespoons of the sauce and then place the pasta in the pan and toss.
  8. Plate the pasta and green beans and then return the chicken to the pan and place the remaining sauce on top. When the chicken is warmed up, place it on top of the bed of pasta and green beans.
This dish pairs well with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy!

on the menu tonight...

chicken piccata with roasted rosemary potatoes and hericot vert.

  • delicious
  • inexpensive
  • easy


Burgers & Mac n' Cheese

I absolutely love Cook's Illustrated magazine. If you enjoy cooking, this is THE subscription magazine to get. They don't have any advertisements, so it is 100% devoted to food. Sign up here: The Best Cooking Magazine You'll Ever Find. Ever . They also run a PBS show called "America's Test Kitchen." Add it to your Tivo now.

Anyway, they shared a recipe for Stove Top Mac & Cheese that utilized cheddar and evaporated milk that worked out pretty decently. I built on their foundation and added some roasted garlic, truffle oil and then topped it with flavorful sea salt.

If you haven't stepped outside regular iodized salt, you need to check out all of the amazing alternatives. Grey salt, coral salt, smoked salt, chardonnay salt, Fleur de Sel, truffle salt. The list could go on and on and each is amazing in its own right.

Anyway, here are the ingredients for the mac&cheese (4-6 servings, depending on how bad your Monday was):

  • 1 Can of Evaporated milk
  • 10 oz grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 head of roasted garlic: (slice off the top of the garlic head, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tin foil and then roast in the oven at 300 degrees for an hour and a half or until the garlic is soft and golden
  • 1 box macaroni (I used mini-shells that I found at the dollar store, but elbow or bowtie work well too)
  • 1 teaspoon truffle oil (or as much as you're craving)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • S&P
  1. Cook the pasta per the instructions on the box and drain (do not rinse). Place the macaroni back in the pot.
  2. In a bowl, combine the egg, milk, salt and pepper
  3. Over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter into the pasta and then add in the egg/milk mixture.
  4. Stir in the cheese until incorporated.
  5. Mix in the roasted garlic.
  6. Add truffle oil (always add this at the last moment before serving) to taste and adjust S&P as necessary.
You can also add any of the following ingredients to "spice things up":

  • Hot sauce
  • Dry Mustard
  • Fresh herbs (thyme, sage and chives all work nicely)
  • chopped mushrooms
  • steamed broccoli florets
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • cooked and chopped bacon
  • sauteed shallots
  • additional cheeses: Parmeggiano-Reggiano, Fontina, Gruyere, Pecorino, etc.
The reason this recipe uses condensed milk versus regular whole milk is because it allows for the cheese to melt with a less "grainy" consistency. If you were doing a baked mac&cheese, you will find it's better to start with a bechamel sauce. More on that in a future post.

Here's what I did for the burgers:

  • ground beef, separated into ice-cream scoop's worth of little balls (like meatballs)
  • american cheese
  • thinly-sliced onions
  • potato rolls (in my case, we didn't have any at the market, so I simply used dinner rolls
  1. Warm a skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Place the "meatballs" in the skillet and then top with onions and pat down to form patties (see picture below).
  3. When they have been in the pan for 4.5 minutes (or just until they start to get cooked on the bottom), flip them over so that the meat is resting in a sea of onions, then set a piece of cheese (or 3) on the meat, place the buns (sliced, top over the bottom) on the top and let cook for another 3 minutes or so.
  4. Once they appear done, simply pull the top of the bun off and then slide the onions, burger, cheese and bottom bun into a full burger form. The cheesy goodness that has accumulated will seep into the bun and render it moist and delicious.
Some helpful hints to keep in mind ...
  • I was consuming some "adult beverages" whilst cooking this meal. Thus, I wasn't paying as much attention to the burgers as I should have been. If your pan is too hot, the burgers can get dried out. The idea is too almost "steam" them in the pan. They turn out amazingly tender and moist this way. And because they are so small, they cook quickly.
  • Let the ground beef sit out for a little while to get to room temperature. This makes the fat in the beef melt deliciously into the burger.
  • The best bread to use is the following: Martin's Potato Rolls. That's right, they have the website on "Potato Rolls." You know they're legit.
The way that the grill will caramelize the onions while cooking the beef is oustandingly amazing. However, as much as these "at home version" members of the White Manna fan-club can be satisfying, nothing, and I mean NOTHING can compare to the real deal. So get your ass down to Hackensack for the ultimate experience in burgers.

Peace, love and grill grease,


Stay Tuned...

Monday night comfort foods:

- "White Manna" burgers
- Stove-top Truffled Mac&Cheese

If you're ever in northern NJ, be sure to check out White Manna. It is my absolute favorite burger joint in the whole wide world.


Simple Surf&Turf Tacos

I love that people are voting on what I should make for dinner next! I went to Vons tonight with the intention of cooking a delicious dinner utilizing fish as my protein. However, the pickings were slim (why did I expect this to be any different). So, I decided to best utilize my resources by makings simple tacos. I bought some Dover Sole (mahi-mahi would have been a better bet, but the sole was the least offensive in the case... note to self, don't go to Vons looking for fresh fish again) and then bought a top round piece of beef for just over $4. Sweet.

The rest of the ingredients were as follows:

  • Guacamole (consisting of the following: 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 mashed avocado, s&p, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 diced tomato)
  • Four-cheese mexican blend (I noticed that the block cheese was the same exact price as the shredded ($2.50/8oz)... the decision was easy and could be summed up with "DUH."
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • Shredded iceburg lettuce
  • cilantro (you can leave this out, Jess), which I chopped and mixed with the lettuce and onion blend
  • spicy sour cream (which consists of pureed roasted red peppers, siracha (an amazing thai-style hot sauce), sour cream and salt)
  • Tortillas: I bought a new brand tonight (the packaging was mostly in Spanish, which was a good sign) that was a million times better than the one we used to buy. You finish the tortilla yourself by quickly cooking it in a hot pan, so it tastes much fresher.
  • Dinosaur BBQ Cajun Foreplay Spice Rub (If you've never been to Dinosaur BBQ, add it to your "Top 10 Things to do Before I Die" list. You can thank me after your pulled pork dinner.
I started by making the guacamole. To do that, I combined the minced garlic, mashed avocado, chopped tomato, lime juice and s&p. Guac can brown quickly as it's oxidized by being exposed to air. To prevent this, I squeezed some extra lime juice on top and then placed plastic wrap on top so that it was directly touching the green deliciousness.

Next, I heated a grill pan (we use a Calphalon One pan that works great and is easy to clean) on medium-high. I rubbed the steak with the Dinosaur Cajun rub and threw it on the grill pan when it was fully heated. I cooked the steak for 5 minutes/side and then set it aside to rest.

While the steak was cooking, I combined the ingredients for the spicy sour cream (1/2 cup sour cream, 4 roasted red pepper slices, 1 teaspoon Siracha) in my Mini Prep Plus (it's a baby Cuisinart- a great solution if you want a food processer but don't have $200 to throw down).

Once the steak was done, I set it aside to rest and sprinkled the rub on the fish. I took a clean skillet, heated it and then drizzeled olive oil into the pan. The fish only took about 3 minutes to cook.

This dinner was quick, easy, inexpensive (you're looking at about $20 all told) and soooo satisfying. I'm particularly impressed with the new tortillas I picked up. If you live in LA, you must go out and buy them immediately. They best part about them was that you could roll up your taco/burrito and it would actually hold all the stuff inside, no small feat! I set out the various components and my babe and I each pulled together our ideal tacos =)

Bon Appetit!

PS- there will be another dish that features fish as the main protein. I just worked with what I could find at the market tonight.


Stuffed Shells

Here is the finished product. It was oozing with cheesy goodness.

It looks like I have one vote for fish so far, so stay tuned for what I cook next!

Until then, Happy Eating!

Cheese and Turkey Sausage Stuffed Shells

Tonight, I'm making one of my favorites- stuffed shells! They are satisfying, inexpensive and healthy. Because I'm only cooking for two tonight (me&hubby), I'll make extra and freeze them in pyrex bakeware for a quick mid-week dinner solution later on in the month.

What I love about this dish is the way the bechamel sauce gives it a silky and rich feeling, even though it's low in fat.

Here are the ingredients you'll need to begin:

  • 2 large cans of whole, peeled tomatoes (I use Hunt's, since I found them at the dollar store recently- what a bargain!)
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 4 turkey sausages (sweet italian or spicy, whichever you prefer)
  • 1 box of large-sized shells
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed OR 1 shallot, minced
  • fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (go full fat if you're feeling indulgent, otherwise, the low fat works fine)
  • 1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (Precious is my favorite, and I buy it whole and shred it to cut costs)
  • 3/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese (always go with this over parmesan, when available)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of reduced fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • olive oil, salt & pepper, sugar to taste
You'll start by making the tomato sauce...
  1. Heating a saucepan over medium-high, add a few counts of olive oil in and let it get nice and hot.
  2. Add in either the garlic or the shallots and stir to get the flavor and oils out, but don't let it burn.
  3. Add in the tomato paste and stir until the oil takes on an orange-red color.
  4. Add in the whole tomatoes and their juices. (You have the option here to pull out the seeds and core or just throw them in whole. The seeds can make your sauce taste bitter, but most of the time, I just compensate with some sugar and I'm done with it. You can also substitute your favorite jarred sauce- I love Rao's- and save some time and energy.)
  5. Adjust the temperature to medium-low and get a skillet warmed up over medium heat. Remove the turkey sausage from its casing and brown in the pan. Set aside to cool.
  6. Get your water boiling for the shells.
  7. In a mixing bowl, add the mozzarella cheese, the ricotta and the sausage meat and then add the egg.
  8. When the shells are al dente (this means that they still have a good bite to them versus being soggy and overcooked), drain them, but do not rinse.
  9. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and then whisk in the flour. You are creating a roux, which builds a base for the bechamel sauce. After a few minutes of constant whisking, add in the milk and continue to stir. You will notice that as the temperature rises, the sauce thickens. It should easily coat the back of a spoon. If it is too thick, add a little bit more of the milk.
  10. To assemble the dish, place a layer of tomato sauce at the bottom. Fill the shells with the cheese/meat mixture and place them seam side down in the sauce. Then top them with more tomato sauce and drizzle the bechamel sauce over that. Finish it off with the grated cheese.
  11. Cover with tin foil and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
This is what it looks like assembled, prior to baking:

You can assemble the dish and refrigerate it for up to 4 days OR you can freeze it for up to two months. I tend to make two separate servings and eat one for dinner that night and then freeze one for later on in the month.

I'll post a picture of the finished product after I bake it for dinner!

Dinner with Love

I've decided I'm going to start blogging about cooking. It's something that brings me great joy and something I love talking about. I'll share stories, recipes and pictures of my creations on here.

Shout out to MJ as my inspiration for starting a blog!

Bon Appetit!