Tag Archives: yum

Dijon and Breadcrumb Crusted Chicken Breasts

I’ve been on this mission lately to use whatever I already have in the kitchen to make delicious yet different meals. It’s quite the challenge but I think I’m off to a good start. Why the recent inspiration you may ask?

Here’s the thing. Cooking for one tends to leave a lot of left over ingredients, especially when it comes to herbs and veggies. So what to do with the rest of it? I certainly can’t bear to throw it away but sometimes I forget that I have it in my fridge and it goes to waste. So, in an effort to be more resourceful, I’m determined to find ways to make new meals using the same staple ingredients. Think I can do it?

I had leftover chicken and snow peas from a noodle dish I made for my cousin’s baby shower over the weekend. Everything else I already had in my pantry and fridge. I found this recipe through epicurious.com, one of my absolute favorites to visit when I’m searching for something unique. This one is a great find indeed. It adds a new twist to the regular bread crumb and egg routine. And don’t worry, this won’t taste like you’re eating chicken dipped in mustard at all, which was one of my primary concerns. (Not that I don’t like mustard-it’s delicious! But I didn’t want it to be too overpowering).

For two people, here’s what you’ll need:

2 chicken breast halves

¼ cup Italian style breadcrumbs

¼ cup cornmeal

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried parsley

salt and pepper

1 egg

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

olive oil

Step 1. Measure out the breadcrumbs, cornmeal, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.

Step 2. Mix the breading thoroughly. Taste and add more salt if needed. That’s right, I said taste! Bland breading makes a bland chicken, ya hear?

Step 3. In a bowl, crack open one egg and add the dijon mustard. I added a few drops of honey and hot sauce just to sweet and spice it up. I’m daring like that.

Step 4. Whip up the eggs and Dijon mustard until they are evenly combined in a golden-yellow eggy mixture. I added a bit of pepper because I like to live on the edge. Just a dash is all you need.

Step 5. Take out a non-stick frying pan, add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and heat on medium-high. While you’re heating the pan, take out the chicken breasts from the packaging. Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise to get thin cuts – highly recommend! Wash, pat dry, and plate. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Chicken breasts tend to be a bit thicker in the middle. If you don’t feel comfortable slicing it yourself, get your grocery store butcher to do it for you or take a mallet, put the chicken breast in between plastic wrap, and smash the living daylights out of it! Ok, not to that extreme, but you do want it somewhat flat.

Step 6. When the oil is hot and ready, dip the chicken into the egg mixture then dredge in the breading mixture. Make sure all surfaces are covered. Shake off any excess breading and place in the hot pan. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes on one side or until golden brown and crispy.

Step 7. Flip over to the other side and also let cook for about 3 minutes, leaving heat on medium-high. Oooh my, this is the color and texture that you want. Droool. Turn off the heat and place the chicken on a separate plate. Done!

Pair the chicken with your favorite veggies and grains. I used brown rice medley from Trader Joe’s and steamed snow peas. I haven’t been excited about something so simple in such a long time. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have to purchase anything to make it, which is a rarity in this girl’s kitchen.


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Scallops, Lemon Pepper Pappardelle and Sundried Tomatoes

Let’s make it a date night. I mean it. I have to admit, I absolutely love dressing up and dining al fresco, especially during cool summer nights (but who doesn’t!?). However, there are times when a lovely home-cooked dinner and a movie will suffice. I love those kind of nights too, don’t you? Especially when the beau washes dishes? Absolutely.

At Trader Joe’s the other day, I came across their flavor infused pasta and I thought, hmmm!! Date night material? Possibly! I decided on the lemon pepper and found to my delight, a delicious recipe on the back of the package. Ohhh it was bound to be good, just from the looks of it. Olive oil, a bit of lemon and some parsley? Yes, please!

This has easily become one of my favorite summer dishes. It is light and refreshing as it is rich with flavor. Oh and the possibilities are endless! If you don’t like scallops, you can easily substitute it with prawns, chicken, or leave it vegetarian as it is. Slurp.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 package of Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta

olive oil

non-stick cooking spray

1/2 lb scallops

1/3 cup sundried tomatoes

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

salt and pepper

1 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley

Step 1: Cook pasta to al dente then drain and set aside. Season the water with a bit of salt while the pasta cooks. Mix and spray the cooked pasta with a bit of non-stick cooking spray after draining out the water. This will keep them from sticking to each other, which they love to do!

Step 2: While the pasta is cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan with enough olive oil to cover the surface.  In the meantime, give the scallops a nice wash, pat them dry then season with salt and pepper.

Step 3: When the pan is hot, add about a 1/2 tbsp of butter then add the scallops. Sear on one side for about a minute then flip the scallops on the other side then sear for an additional minute or two. They shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to fully cook. Next, take the scallops out and place them on a separate plate.

Step 4: Add the cooked pappardelle pasta to the same pan the scallops were cooked in. Add the lemon juice, and the sundried tomatoes. Mix until evenly combined. Taste. Add a bit of salt and pepper if needed. Add the scallops. Mix. Taste. Sprinkle in the parsley. Mix. Good enough for your taste? Then it’s done!

I’m dying to try this version with prawns too. And chicken. And possibly just portobello mushrooms. Or all three. OH and can you imagine adding just a sprinkle of fried bacon bits? Oof. Needless to say, many nights of dining-in to come – and I’m perfectly ok with that. Enjoy!


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Deep Fried Oreos

Deep fried what?! Uh-huh. A decadent cookie-doughnut so sinfully easy to make it requires hardly any effort at all.  That could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it, yes?

Treats like this take me back to state fairs I frequented each summer with friends and family alike. My sister and I shared a humongous turkey leg, maybe a corndog, and possibly a funnel cake depending on which rides we had yet to try.

I have to admit, I’m not much of a sweet tooth myself but I can’t resist to share this with you since I know many adventurous foodies alike would probably be willing to try these at least once…or twice…or three times. They’re just addicting like that.

You’ll need:

Vegetable Oil

Funnel Cake Batter

A bag of regular Oreo cookies (Double stuffed, if you dare)

Step 1: In a deep pot, heat enough oil to fully submerge an Oreo cookie.

Step 2: While waiting for the oil to heat, make the funnel cake batter according to the directions on the box. or pail.

Step 3: Before coating the cookies, make sure the oil is has reached the right temperature. I usually do a quick test by dropping dollop of batter into the oil. If it browns too quickly, it’s too hot and if it sinks to the bottom with no bubbles, the oil is not quite ready.

You’ll know the oil is ready when you see bubbles and the test batter floats to the top after a few seconds, showing a golden brown color. Fish it out quick! It’ll continue to cook for a few more minutes out of the pot.

Step 4: Dunk the Oreo into the batter and give it a good coating.

Step 5: Immediately after the dunking, gently drop the cookie into the oil. Be careful of oil spatters! I would only do 3-4 cookies at a time since they do cook fast. The batter usually takes only 3 minutes to fry.

Step 6: When the batter looks golden brown, use a slotted spoon to scoop it out and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

Wait until cool enough to dig in your chompers! Got a big glass of milk? Oh, it’s over! Forget about it. Yum.

Glaze it with a simple sugar glaze coating for an extra decadent treat..oh my my my. Many thanks to F. for this recipe and for subsequent enthusiastic ideas on other goodies to deep fry. I keep them close to my heart.

Happy cooking, y’all!


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Mussels in White Wine

As a young girl, I spent much of my childhood by the shore. There were many warm days spent on the sand and summer nights on the pier, a place of wonder and adventures. It was where my sister and I eagerly hoisted up our nets to see if the chicken we had laced up lured in a few crabs. They’re quick on their feet, those little critters. In between catching fish on the pier, dad showed us how to catch those critters before our hard work scampered back into the water. We learned quick.

It was a place where I gingerly avoided certain spots of squeaky, creaky boards, a place my sister and I would dare each other to run through. A place where the smell of salty air was refreshing, even though it turned my curls this way and that. The best part of course, was taking home our catch and savoring the freshness and magic of it all. I had no part in the magic. That was all dad’s doing in the kitchen.

This is one of my favorite seafood recipes because it looks incredibly fancy yet super easy to make. I got these fresh cultured mussels at the nearby Whole Foods at $8.00 for 2 pounds. Holy moly, that’s like at least 20 mussels. Definitely enough for date night at home. Cleaning and prepping mussels is the most important thing. You want to make sure these guys are squeaky clean, so here’s the how-to.

Step 1.Put the mussels in a large bowl with 2 quarts of water and 1/3 cup flour. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. What’s up with the flour you ask? I’ve read that it helps to dislodge any sand that may be trapped inside and the mussels eat up the flour, making them more succulent and juicy.

Step 2. Throw away any mussels that float to the top. After 30 minutes, drain and rinse thoroughly. Remove the “beard” from the outer edges if present. Take a brush to scrub the outer shells under running water if they are really dirty. Throw away any mussels whose shells aren’t tightly shut. Place in a separate bowl and set aside.

*I usually cook the pasta while the mussels soak. Follow instructions on the box, then set aside.

For the rest of the dish, you’ll need:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons good olive oil

3 large shallots

5-6 cloves garlic

½ cup Trader Giotto’s Bruchetta (so much better than canned tomatoes)

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 cup good white wine

salt & pepper

*1 box of whole wheat fettuccine (optional)

*a loaf of crusty bread (also optional)

*recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Mussels in White Wine, Barefoot in Paris via FoodNetwork.

Step 1. Chop the shallots, garlic, thyme and parsley. Uncork your wine, measure out a cup, then pour yourself a glass. Drink.

Step 2. Add the olive oil to the pan and heat on medium. When oil is hot, add the butter. Let it melt then add the shallots. Gotta give the shallots a head start then add the garlic about 1 minute in. Sautee the garlic 2-3 minutes but don’t burn.

Step 3. Add the bruchetta, wine, saffron, parsley, thyme, salt (just a touch) and pepper. Then feel your mouth start to water. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Step 4. When boiling, add the mussels, stir well, bring the heat down to medium, then cover the pan. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, until mussels open (Yea, that’s it !). Throw away any mussels that are not open. Stir them in the sauce one more time, and taste the sauce. Add more salt if needed. Turn off the heat, transfer to a large bowl and enjoy!

If you’re using pasta, you’ve got one more step to go:

Step 5. Turn the heat to low and slowly add the cooked fettuccine into the sauce and combine until evenly mixed. Bravo! Turn off the heat and serve. Enjoy with the rest of the bottle of white wine…if you haven’t finished it already *burp*

Why the Bruchetta? Traditionally, this recipe calls for canned tomatoes, but I find that using the bruchetta makes it a bit more special. I just love the richness of the sauce you can’t get from canned tomatoes. I use Trader Joe’s bruchetta called “Trader Giotto’s”. YUM on a piece of toasted french bread and especially in this sauce.

Oh my my my.. If someone made this for me on the first date…

Excellent for crusty bread.

Say no more, be still my heart.


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Creamy Mashed Potatoes

So what do you do when you have leftovers? Are you the kind who gets creative with it? Make-an-omelet out of it kind of person? Or do you let it mold in your fridge and pretend like you’ve forgotten it was there – so you don’t feel so bad when you throw it out? I’ve been guilty of both. A shame really, the latter.

Let me just say, it has been such a change cooking for an audience of one. Well, mostly one, nowadays. I do have  family (literally next door, and we have dinner often) with whom I can pop on over and share my over abundance of food with but ohh how I miss the cooking my roommates and I used to do together.

Plus, one of us always managed to clean off the leftovers – mostly the boys, naturally.

After making the beef stew, I had a few potatoes, cream, and veggies left in the fridge so I decided to throw this together to pair with the stew. It was divine. So divine I had to give most of it away before I turned into a potato myself. Sharing is caring, after all. Here’s the how to:

You’ll need:

6 large red potatoes
2/3 cup light cream
1/2 stick butter
3 tbsp cream cheese
salt & pepper to taste
1 stalk green onion, washed well; chop and discard roots

Step 1: Fill a deep pot of water and get it boiling. In the meantime, scrub the red potatoes clean, quarter them and set aside. Chop the green onion into small rings and set aside. When the water is boiling, drop the potatoes right in and cook them until a fork easily goes through with no resistance. Drain the water when the potatoes are done and get to mashing.

Step 2: Mash the potatoes with a masher, or if you’re a poor college student like me, a fork. I like my potatoes with a bit of a texture so I leave in a few chunks. While the potatoes are still piping hot, add the cream cheese, butter, cream, salt, and pepper. Mix, mix, mix & taste, taste, taste. Then feel real good that you did your workout that morning. Add the green onion last and fold them in. Serve!

If you’re a bit daring, add a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese, bacon bits and a dollop of sour cream right on top. You’d be well on your way to decadent heaven.

Or you can have it plain and simple just like this.

It’s the little things in life that make the world go round, after all.

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Beef Stew

The Philly weather said 5 inches of snow. No biggie right? Sure. I’ve seen that before..once. Growing up near the beach, snowfall was a rarity and still continues to be. 5 inches would have been big news. Schools closed. Snowball fights ensued, and the snowman population increased 3%. After we’d come home soggy and blue with frostbite from playing outside all day, my sister and I always looked forward to the hearty stews simmering on the stove. Oh how it melted you to the core.

Beef stew. Classic. Comfort. Food. I followed a recipe on foodnetwork.com but I made a few adjustments here and there to make it my own. As you’ll see, it’s quite versatile and the only downside is the cook time. I suggest starting this in the a.m. so you’ll have it ready by dinner. Cook time: forever. Serves 3.

You’ll need:

Vegetable oil, for searing
2.0  pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth
2 sprigs parsley & 1 sprig fresh thyme
6 small red potatoes
2.5 cups baby carrots
1 cup peas


Step 1: Wash and slice the veggies. I used red potatoes, but any should do – yukon gold, russet, fingerlings, whatever you have on hand. This stew doesn’t judge. Give em a good scrubbing, peel (I like keeping the skin on when I use reds) and slice into hearty chunks and set aside.  Then think about all the work you have ahead of you and consider making mashed potatoes instead…

I used baby carrots but you’re more than welcome to use grown up carrots too. Short cuts are ok every now and then. I have no idea why these look radioactive orange here.

Typically, beef stew calls for celery but I’m not a big fan of those, so I substituted them with peas. I don’t know what it is about celery but even slathering them in peanut butter can’t make a believer outta me. However, if you love celery in your stews, knock yourself out!

Step 2: Chop the aromatics and herbs. Snip off parsley leaves, give them a rough chop then set aside. Leave the rosemary as is. I used 2 sprigs but next time I’ll use just one. Using 2 was a bit too ‘herb-y’ for me.

Slice the onion into big chunks. Then cry a little because the fumes drive you to tears.

Crush the garlic cloves and give em a rough chop. Which reminds me, I need to get a new chopping board. This one’s lookin’ kinda rough. It’s well loved.

Step 3: Take the meat out, wash and slice into cubes. Or, you can do like me and let the cute butcher at Whole Foods cube them up for you. Why not? He offered when I said I was making a stew. He was nice like that.

Step 4: Take out a frying pan, drizzle a little bit of oil and heat on medium-high.  Season the beef with salt and pepper while you wait. When the oil is heated, add the meat cubes. Then Don’t. touch. them. Let them sizzle, let them sit and get seared into that golden brown crazy goodness.

This should be about 3-4 minutes. With a pair of tongs, flip the cubes on to the other side and repeat. When all sides are browned, remove the meat from the pan and set them on a plate. Turn the heat down to medium.

Step 5: Add the onions and garlic. Fry them in the leftover oil from the meat. Yes, I just said leftover oil.

Step 6: Keep frying until the onions are soft then turn the heat down to medium low. Watch out for the garlic and make sure it doesn’t burn. Burnt garlic transcends through everything. You can’t mask it. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Don’t worry if you have brown flecks of meat sticking to the bottom of your pan. We’ll lift those up when we make the sauce. It makes the stew taste unbelievable.

Step 7: Add the flour then add the beef broth. You can also use chicken, or vegetable broth. Stir until everything melds into a creamy gravy. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and taste again.

You’ll find the brown crisps will scrape off and lift off easily into the sauce. Taste it one last time and think about making this into a gravy for the mashed potatoes. Hmm next time.

I placed all the veggies into a slow cooker because I still need to get a deep stew pot. Silly me only brought a frying pan and a sauce pan when I moved. What was I thinking?

Two things: First, you can do this on a stove. Set the dial to low and let the meat cook slow  in a deep pot for 6 or more hours. The slow heat breaks down the collagen in between the meat fibers – that really makes for that soft and melt in your mouth beef.

Second. Don’t add the veggies with the meat like I did here. At the start of cook time, you should only have the meat, stock (with garlic and onions) and herbs. When I checked half way through the cook time, the veggies had already finished cooking while the meat was still half way done. I had to spoon out the veggies and put them aside until the meat was finished cooking.

Add the veggies halfway during the cooking time. Add the peas last. When I say last, I mean when you’ve turned off the stove and are ready to serve. They cook in no time and you want to avoid turning them brown.

Finally, taste it. Salt more if needed and serve. Then take a long nap because you have food coma.

I took the decadent route and made mashed potatoes to pair with this meal. I’ll post that recipe up sometime soon.  Serving options are endless: have this as is or serve it with a slice of crusty bread.  You could hollow out a sourdough and make a bread bowl out of it. Either way you have it, there’s nothing like a hearty meal like this to warm your soul when it’s a blistering 4 degrees outside.

The total snowfall measured around 18 inches the next day. What! They’ve got to give us a snow day now, I thought. But of course they didn’t. I suppose I should expect that in the northeast.

Until next time foodies,

Happy Cooking!

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Mongolian Beef

Being home for the holidays is all about good eats. So I’m about to share with you one of my most favorite recipes of allll time.  If you know me, you’ll have already guessed it involves something savory, something saucy and almost always something paired with rice. YUM.

Mongolian beef, PF Chang’s Style. My sister found their recipe on food.com so it left me wondering, would it taste just like one served at the fabulous restaurant chain? It sure comes close! Either way, they’re both tasty so here’s the how to:

At the grocer, you’ll need to grab:

vegetable oil

½ teaspoon ginger, minced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

½ cup low sodium soy sauce

½ cup water

¾ cup dark brown sugar

1 lb flank steak, sliced into thin strips

¼ cup corn starch

2 large green onions

Serves: 2 or 1 really hungry, growing boy

Step 1: Mince the ginger and garlic. Give the green onions a good wash and strip off the first layer of green stalks. Chop the bottom half of the green onions and discard the roots. Save the top half for later.

Step 2: Place the top half of the green onion in a separate dish, wash and set aside

Step 3: Slice the flank steak against the grain into bite size strips, about ¼ of an inch thick. Many grocers sell pre-cut flank steaks and many of them will slice it thin for you too if it doesn’t come pre-sliced (in case you’re not that comfortable with a knife just yet).

Step 4: Coat the sliced flank steaks with cornstarch. Have two separate plates, one filled with cornstarch, another to place your coated steaks. Coat them lightly – overdusting can make the sauce too thick. Let the steaks sit for about 10 minutes.

Step 5: While waiting for the steak, make the sauce.  In a large pot on medium heat, pour enough veggie oil to cover the bottom. When hot, sauté the ginger, garlic and onions. OH how good this part smells.

Step 6: When the onions are cooked, add the soy sauce and water. Add the brown sugar last and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Bring the heat up to high and allow the sauce to boil for about 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Lower the heat down to medium-low.

Step 7: In a separate frying pan, or wok, pour about ½ to a cup of veggie oil. When the oil is hot, add the steak and sauté for about 3 minutes or until the beef starts to get that niiice brown seared color.

Searing makes everything delicious. It’s what makes the world go round. You don’t need to cook it all the way in this step since we’re going to dunk the steaks into the sauce.

Just about done!! They’re absolutely dying to take a dive any minute now.

Step 8: Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the steak and add it to the pot with the sauce. Let the steak simmer in the sauce until it is cooked through. Add the remaining green onions or serve it on top as a garnish.

Step 9: Serve with jasmine rice.

Forget about leftovers. If you’re planning on saving some for yourself tomorrow, better put some aside before the guests dig in! Each time I’ve made this for guests, I never once found the need for tupperware. The PF Chang’s recipe is just that good, ugh!

I’d also recommend a side of steamed veggies like broccoli or carrots to go with. I’ll probably end up making this for our new year’s eve potluck party. Hope you’re having a great holiday with your friends and family! 2011 is just around the corner!!!


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