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!