About The Saturday Chef

Midwest, United States
I am NOT a professional chef. I am what I affectionately dub a Saturday Chef—a weekend warrior of the culinary variety, fortified by the education I have gleaned from two high school cooking classes, the Food Network and my own gastronomical experiments. While I’m not ashamed to spend all day making bagels by hand, and proudly call myself a foodie, I’m not a food snob. I enjoy an Extra Value Meal as much as the next girl. My culinary escapades are still relegated to the weekends, but my love for cooking is stronger than ever, galvanized by more successes than failures, and the beautiful fact that the more I cook, the more people there are to feed. So please stay tuned for fun recipes, inevitable disasters and hopefully, a lot of good food.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gingerbread Snowflakes (and More Merry Treats)

Christmas is coming.  The goose getting fat.  Or that's just me from all the taste-testing and coopie swaps. 
I spent the better part of two days in the kitchen baking a dessert basket for my family.  I got a little carried away and ended up making so many delicious sweets that my kitchen resembled a buffet fit for Mr. Claus himself. 

I've never made gingerbread cookies before.  I've made edible houses with it (that probably were unsafe even for gumdrop people) and I've smelled the artifical gingerbread in latte and candle form around this time of year.  The cookie itself is spicy and unique and not at all sweet.  Rolling them out is a mini work-out for the arms.  Decorating them is always a sugary good time!   And the benefits?  Frosting with painfully sweet icing is almost a must and your house smells like all things Christmas.  It'll have even the greenest grinch singing carols in no time. 


Gingerbread Snowflakes
by Marth Stewart
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup packed dark-brown sugar

4 teaspoons ground ginger

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon finely ground pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 large eggs

1 cup unsulfured molasses


1.Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.

2.Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

3.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into snowflakes with a 7- inch snowflake-shape cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

4.Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

5.Put icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip (such as Ateco #7). Pipe designs on snowflakes; immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let stand 5 minutes; tap off excess sugar. Let icing set completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. Store cookies between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

Royal Icing

2 egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups confectioner's sugar

Beat egg whies and lemon juice in an electric mixer until frothy. Add sifted sugar. Beat until smooth.

Sprinkle cookies with colored sanding sugars immediately after frosting. 


Best.  Blizzard.  Ever!

Other Treats and Recipes!


Recipe for Salted Caramel Puffs is HERE.


Recipe for Chocolate Toffee Pretzels is HERE.


Recipe for Fantastic Five-Layer Bars is HERE.


Add some cellophane bags, festive ribbons and VIOLA!  You have a gift for the entire family.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Perfect Holiday Breakfast: Gooey, Amazing Cinnamon Rolls


I often ask people what their last meal would be before shuffling off this mortal coil.  It is interesting to see what people want as the final tastes on their tongues.  I've gotten everything from steak and lobster to sushi to chocolate cake and frosty, cold milk.

My answer varies from day-to-day, craving-to-craving. Right now, it would be a crunchy, golden brown plate of frites with sea salt and malt vinegar with a flame-broiled burger with cheese, bacon and roasted garlic aioli. Or maybe the salmon risotto dish I tasted at Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant at Loew’s Miami Beach years ago. The entrée always changes, but dessert never has. So when I’m 114 years old and on my deathbed, and my rich, exotic 80-year-old husband asks me want I want to eat, I’ll breathlessly ask for…*drumroll* …a gooey, decadent, buttery cinnamon roll.

This breakfast/lunch/dinner/any-time-of-the-day food is one of my carved-in-stone favorites, although I eat and make them more in the winter.  Paired with hot chocolate, it’s the perfect cure for anything Jack Frost can dish out. Like The Winter of Unemployment and 100 Inches of Snow. Or the Post-Christmas credit card bill. Or cabin fever created by the blizzard that’s raging outside right now.

It’s also the perfect thing for Christmas morning. I know, I know, I hear the groans. You have to wrap the presents or go to this party or even do last minute shopping with your cousin who always procrastinates. But you can do this too because making these treats is not nearly as daunting as it seems, especially if you have the right recipe. After trying out a few different ones, this one is it!

There are just a few steps to making cinnamon rolls, but they're simple and fun!

Knead ‘N Rise

Dough has been kneaded and is ready to rise. 

 Roll ‘N Fill

After rising, dough has been punched down; rolled flat; and filled with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. 

Rolling is easy and fun.   Any sugar that falls out, just add to empty spaces in the baking pan.

Proof ‘N Bake

Rolls have proofed and ready to to bake!  Aww, they're cute, aren't they?

Glaze 'N Enjoy! 

Ready to be eaten.  The fruits of your labor! 

(If you have to ask, then yes, these are technical names for the steps.)

You probably already have nearly all of the ingredients, except yeast.  You get a gold star if you have the yeast. 
Bake these little treats the day before, seal them up in an airtight container, and re-heat them in the morning, and it’s the perfect culinary present for your friends and family. 

And you know how the scent of Cinnabuns lures people to the food court at the mall in a haze of need and  joy?  That happens when you bake these, too.  You're welcome.

Oh, and don’t forget to leave one for Santa. It’ll be a nice break from all of the cookies!

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

1 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)

1 teaspoon salt

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For dough:
Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 21/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 5 to 8 minutes. Form into ball.

Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

For filling:
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.

Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15x11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).

Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

For glaze:
Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls when they are warm. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Store leftovers in an airtight container and re-heat before serving.

Chef's Note: I do recommend trimming the edges of the dough so you have straight lines before filling.  I did not when I made them for photos, and got some oddly shaped, cinnamony knobs after baking.  Delicious but a little weird.

Chef's Note 2:  I didn't have the right size glass pans as I made these for Thanksgiving morning, so I used a regular 9x13 baking pan without a problem.  The rolls fit and the misshapen pieces went into a smaller pan.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Power of Ganche: Chocolate Torte with Pistachios


Sometimes, I understand how silly foodies can be. I feel it when I’m running around the kitchen, photographing chopped blueberries in natural light and artfully arranging plates of food when everyone else just wants to eat it. Maybe it’s a romantic and slightly naïve sentiment, but I truly believe in the power of good food—that it can nourish the soul as well as the body.

There’s one food that I think has the power to heal the world. Two words, say it with me, Chocolate Ganache.

It’s a painfully simple mixture of chocolate and cream, yet I’m pretty sure it has supernatural powers. It could end the war, keep Charlie Sheen sober, make M. Night Shyamalan movies good again!

It already demonstrated its powers just this Thanksgiving. I was making a Chocolate Torte for the feast’s dessert. It baked perfectly, yet when I tried to remove it from the pan, it wasn’t coming out. After twenty tense, nail-biting minutes of scraping and running over the burner, and getting my mom to help, my sister had to bang and pry it out of the pan because I was too scared to do it.  It was mostly whole and still completely delicious, but it was rough around the edges. It wasn’t perfect, and I was upset. Because it was THANKSGIVING and IT NEEDED TO BE PERFECT! (Of course, the meal was anything but perfect, as most holiday meals are, but the food was excellent, and no one else cared that due to minor problems and setbacks, we didn’t eat until almost eight.  Dinner was scheduled for six.)


Enter the ganache. I poured it over the cake and it covered the tears and small divots, and kept me from having to resort to cake surgery and the consequent “it looks weird, but it tastes GREAT!” dance for my family.


It was a Thanksgiving Miracle!! And the power of ganache!

Ultimately, the dessert came together winningly, the torte was dense and sweet; the ganache was velvety and robustly chocolate; the pistachios added some crunch and luxury to an already elegant dish.

So you work on making this torte and believing in the power of food. And I’ll go feed some of this to M. Night Shyamalan, and see if we can get another miracle.



1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

Make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan; line bottom with parchment or waxed paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt butter and chocolate, stirring frequently, 4 to 5 minutes Make sure the water does in the saucepan does not touch the bowl. Remove bowl from pan. Whisk in sugar and vanilla, then eggs, and buttermilk. Fold in flour mixture just until combined.

NOTE: The chocolate wasn’t too hot after melting, but tempered in the eggs by whipping them slightly with the buttermilk adding a bit of the chocolate before adding that mixture to the chocolate. I didn’t want to take the chance of the eggs cooking when added to the warm chocolate.  Also, you want to make sure the buttermilk is at room temperature or close to it.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 55 to 70 minutes, depending on your oven. Let cool in pan 5 minutes; run a knife around edge, and invert onto a wire rack. Remove paper, and let cool completely, about 3 hours. (To store, wrap in plastic, and keep at room temperature, up to 3 days).

Make ganache: In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer, stirring often. Remove from heat. Add chocolate, and let stand 5 minutes; whisk until smooth. Let cool until mixture falls back in ribbons when lifted with a spoon. It shouldn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes.

Set cake on a serving platter; tuck strips of parchment paper under edge of cake to prevent ganache from dripping on platter. Pour ganache onto center of cake; using a table knife, spread evenly over the top and let it drip down the sides.  Let set, about 30 minutes. Remove paper from under cake; sprinkle top with pistachios.

Chef's Note: Make sure you remove the torte from the pan 5 to 10 minutes after baking.  I didn't, and you know what happened.  ;-) 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Perfect Quick Meal: Lemony Chicken Milanese with Arugula Salad

Thanksgiving is probably one of the foodiest days of the year as the entire tradition revolves around good eats and lots of it. Some meals are planned weeks in advance and all of the focus is on Thursday. Turkey Day (or for our family this year, Chicken and Pork Roast day!). Sadly, there has been little thought, at least on the cooking shows or in magazines, to the day BEFORE Thanksgiving.

With company arriving and the start of meal preparation, the day before Thanksgiving can be hectic with little thought to the meal served that night. Usually, we order out for chinese or pizza.

Not this year.

I found a perfect recipe for the night before Thanksgiving that simple, flavorful and always a crowd pleaser. Lemony Chicken Milanese is bright from the lemon juice, peppery from the arugula and has that satisfying, seasoned crunch of breaded, sautéed chicken. It is a wow dish that will please arriving company still miffed from TSA pat-downs and body scans.

*garnished with tomatoes and grated Parmesan cheese

Lemony Chicken Milanese with Arugula Salad
Adapted from recipe at epicurious.com

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Seasoning Salt
Garlic Salt

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 cups (packed) baby arugula leaves (about 2 ounces)

Using meat mallet or rolling pin to tenderize and flatten chicken. Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend.

Season chicken to taste on both sides. Dip chicken in beaten eggs; turn to coat. Dredge in breadcrumbs, coating completely.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and sauté until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plates; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Toss arugula with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining lemon juice, season lightly with salt and pepper.  Mound arugula salad ontop of chicken breasts, garnish with tomatoes and a bit of grated parmesan if you like, and enjoy! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Decadent Monster Cookies

*Recipe revised on December 24th.

I’m leaving for Las Vegas—my first real vacation in six years—so it is fitting that the theme of this post be overindulgence. The most decadent thing I’ve made in recent memory has to be a recipe I adapted from Paula Deen’s Monster Cookies (Do you say Paula Deen's name in a southern accent?  I do!). This cookie combines peanut butter, oats, candy, and pretty much whatever else you want into a squishy, flourless cookie dough that’s as fun to play with as it is addicting.

I started making these with my niece when she was five. Most children are masters in overindulgence. When they dress themselves, they want to wear the purple pants, the green tutu and ALL of their necklaces. When they make cookies, they want to add all of the chocolate chips and candy pieces in the WHOLE WORLD and seventy bazillion cups of whatever else they love. These cookies are designed to take it.

And it works in the way that purple pants-green tutu on an adorable four-year-old works.

These cookies are an addiction in our family to the point that we make them even without the munchkin around.

So while I’m gambling away my cash or partying all night in Las Vegas, you can have a little indulgence of your own in a flourless cookie!  Hee!


Monster Cookies

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup M&Ms, optional (about two regular-size bags)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup toffee

2 teaspoons baking soda

4 cups old-fashioned oats


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate candies, chocolate chips, raisins, if using, baking soda, and oatmeal. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 9 to 13 minutes until cookies are light golden brown. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. When cool, store in a large airtight container.

Yes, it looks weird.  It's supposed to!

Oh, pretty colors!  Let's add MORE STUFF!

*This recipe is gluten-free if you use GF baking soda and oats.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Potato, Portabella, and Parmesan Gratin

When I was a child, I had a boundless imagination. It made being grounded fun, and punishing me next to impossible. As an adult and a writer, I actively nurture my imagination and my inner child. I like to laugh make up stories, and generally enjoy myself. On special days, I play with my food. Enter the Potato, Portabella and Parmesan Gratin.

This recipe takes a bit of time to assemble, so I treated it like a culinary puzzle picking the perfectly shaped piece of potato to create the layers. I then added the cheese and even tossed in some mushrooms. The result was a filling, decadent gratin that was as simple as it was flavorful, and served with a quick salad, you have a delicious (and meatless) dinner. And I even snuck mushrooms past my inner child.


Potato, Portabella and Parmesan Gratin
Adapted from Oriana Neri’s recipe

4 lb medium boiling potatoes

1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt

2 to 2 ½ cups half & half

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

7 oz finely grated parmesan cheese (3 1/2 to 4 cups)*

1/2 to 1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, cleaned and diced

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices with a food processor or an adjustable-blade slicer. Spread slices out on a large kitchen towel. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Dot bottom of a 3-quart shallow baking dish (13 by 9 inches) with half of butter and pour in 1/3 cup of dairy. Layer potatoes in baking dish, season lightly with black pepper.

Spread 1/3 cup half & half and about 1/4 of cheese between layers. Drizzle remaining cream over potatoes and dot with remaining butter. Season with black pepper and sprinkle a bit of extra cheese and any mushrooms you have left.

Bake, uncovered, until potatoes are very tender and top is browned, about 2 hours. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

*Chef’s Note: I did use an imported Italian cheese from the cheese counter, but not Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the gratin was fantastic. Just use quality cheese, and you’ll be fine.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Saturday Chef's Awesome Rosemary Spice Chicken Wings

*Recipe revised on October 26th.*

So many people I know LOVE chicken wings. You know, those squishy, messy, greasy, spicy little chicken arms that usually more bone than meat. I never got why they were so popular, maybe it’s all the alcohol traditionally consumed while eating them. I don’t really like them and certainly never crave them. The only time I eat a chicken wing is when I make or bring home a roast chicken. It is the first piece I taste, and that’s usually meaty and salty and delicious.

My mother has been admirably working to lose weight for months. She exercises with a determination I can admire—usually while I’m in the kitchen. (Can cooking be considered cardio?) Lately her resolve has been cracking and the fast food cravings are gaining power. Finally, she broke. “I want fried chicken wings. I want Popeye’s!” She proclaimed after an hour on the treadmill.

I promised her I’d make her some chicken wings that would settle her craving, but wouldn’t negate all of her had work.

So I set out on the ‘net, sorted through recipes with glazes and  super-spicy sauces and 25 ingredients, and settled on this one with a bit of trial and error on the mix of spices. These wings are baked, not fried, yet the skin is still crispy and the meat is still tender and flavorful. Now, these are chicken wings I’d like to knock back while watching a football game and drinking beer.

And they passed not one, but two tests. First, my mother LOVED them and declared her fast food craving had been satisfied. Second, my father, who puts hot sauce on pancakes, ate these wings without it.

Mission accomplished.


Awesome Rosemary Spiced Chicken Wings


4 to 5 pounds chicken wings

1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling

1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt (such as Lawry's)

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¾ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon chili powder*

½ teaspoon cayenne*



Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two banking sheets with aluminum foil.

Remove the tips of the chicken wings with kitchen shears or a knife. Clean wings of any stray hairs.
Thoroughly rinse wings and pat dry with paper towels. In a large bowl or large pan, drizzle chicken wings with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and mix with hands until all wings are evenly coated. Add all spices, mixing with hands to make all wings are coated.

Place skin side up in a single layer on baking sheets, allowing a bit of space between each wing. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the wings, and rub over the top to distribute. Finally, sprinkle each wing very lightly with salt.

Bake in the oven until wings are a deep golden brown and the skin is crispy, about 45 to 55 minutes. Rotate pans halfway through cooking process so wings will brown evenly.

Serve immediately.

*Measurements of spices and herbs may vary based on the amount of wings being prepared.
*You can make the wings as spicy as you like. I prefer just a little heat. Increase the chili powder and cayenne if you’d like more of a kick.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Umptious Spaghetti and Meatballs

I’m going to put on my sparkly pink cape and become Captain Obvious for forthcoming confession.  Are you ready?

I love food.  (See why I needed the cape?) I love all kinds of food, from the healthy and leafy to the junk varieties.

But as much as I love it, sometimes it’s hard to wax poetic about artichokes or barbecue sauce. Lately, I have been struggling with not only writer’s block, but (Saturday) chef’s block. I haven’t made anything that I would deem blog-worthy or even been inspired by too many recipes.

Thankfully, I got the October issue of Bon Appetit in the mail, and as I flipped through its glossy pages, I found a recipe for spaghetti and meatballs, complete with a tantalizing picture. Instantly, my chef’s block was gone!

I worship spaghetti and meatballs. When made right, it’s everything one could one in a meal—meaty and tender with a delicious sauce. When made wrong, it’s as Chef Ramsay would seethe, “a dog’s dinner!”

I had the most fabulous plate of spaghetti and meatballs at a little Italian place in my small town with a girlfriend nearly a decade ago. I’ve been trying to re-create that salty, beefy, tomato-y umptiousness since that night as that little Italian place is now a big sports bar. Since then, I’ve tried every variation I could think of and literally dozens of recipes. I’ve used all turkey, all veal, even threw some bacon in the mix. I’ve pan-fried them and finished in the oven. I’ve simmered for hours in tomato sauce. I’ve had pleasing results and some meatballs that resembled beefy ping-pong balls.

This recipe is Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-That simple, and delivers ridiculous flavor. The sauce with San Marzano tomatoes (or Magic Tomatoes as I call them, because I’ll eat them plain and I HATE the texture of tomatoes) is vivid and bright.

If you’re on a quest for the perfect spaghetti and meatballs, it just ended here!

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Adapted from recipe in Bon Appetit, October 2010

2 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes and juice, preferable San Marzano
1 stick butter
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth as needed

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. When butter foams, add onions and sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add entire can of tomatoes and juice. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to break up the larger chunks of sauce, but leave fairly chunky. If too much liquid has evaporated, stir in vegetable broth to thin out. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

1 cup of plain breadcrumbs
1/3 cup milk (2% or whole)
8 ounces lean or extra lean ground beef
8 ounces pork or veal
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/3 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
Salt, pepper
2 large eggs, whisked
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente

While sauce is simmering, mix breadcrumbs and milk. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs absorb the milk.

Place beef and veal in a large bowl. Add cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic, whisked eggs and milky breadcrumbs. Gently mix meat mixture with hands until evenly combined. Meatball mix should be moist, but hold together.

Roll meat between hands to form meatballs that are a little smaller than a golf ball. Place rolled meatballs on in a pan or cookie sheet lined with foil. Chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

After sauce has been simmered, blended and seasoned, gently drop meatballs into sauce. Simmer covered until cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes, occasionally swirling pot by the handles to stir meatballs without breaking them apart.

Spoon sauce over cooked spaghetti, garnish with parsley and grated parmesan.

NOTE: The recipe in magazine calls for whole tomatoes and juice.  I made it once with whole tomatoes and the sauce came out watery.  The diced tomatoes work better in my opinion.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sinful Salted Caramel Corn Puffs: The Ultimate Sweet and Salty Treat

Years ago, I participated in a charity bake sale. I made some simple cupcakes as this was before my love of food conquered my fear of baking. All of my cupcakes sold. I paid it forward by buying a couple of desserts from other co-workers, including a bag of caramel puffs for 50 cents.

I tossed them in my desk and forgot about them until I was hungry and bored later that afternoon. After taking a few sinful, caramelly bites, I darted out into the lobby to buy the remaining bags. Because they were that blissful combination of salty and sweet and rich without being too heavy. I ate them all week, rationing out the last bag by the puff because I loved them that much. They are the culinary equivalent to crack, and I was addicted. Unfortunately, I never got around to finding the recipe.

A few days ago, in the mall, I browsed through a clutch of tables set up by local business owners. I bought bag of cheese and caramel corn from a local baker when I saw those decadent caramel puffs mixed in. They were the same unforgettable taste that I had all four years before, and I had to re-create it.

The entire process is ridiculously easy, albeit a bit sticky. The only difficult part of it is trying to stop eating them.


Sinful Caramel Corn Puffs

2 sticks butter
2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
A splash of vanilla
1 package butter-flavored corn puffs

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan over medium-hot heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil for five minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in baking soda, salt and vanilla. Be careful as mixture with vigorously boil.

Pour the corn puffs into a large bowl. Pour the mixture over the corn puffs and stir until thoroughly coated. You may need to do this in batches.

Spoon puffs onto cookie sheets in a single layer.

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Turn and stir every 15 minutes. The puffs will get easier to turn as it bakes.

Remove from oven, and slide parchment off cookie sheets and onto counter to cool.

To store, place in a sealed air tight container.

Note 1: At first, it is a bit difficult to stir puffs while it’s on parchment. In the end, it will be easier to transfer for cooling and clean-up.

Note 2: If you have multiple sheets, rotate oven positions half-way through baking.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chicken and Mushroom Ragu with Pasta

It seems like everyone is on the search for quick dinners that require little time at the stove yet produce bold flavors on the plate, especially in a summer that seems to have no intentions of surrendering to fall. After catching a nasty summer cold that had me out of the kitchen for more than a week, I am more serious about embracing vegetables, fruits and lighter fare.

I discovered a delicious dish that is not only comes together quickly, it is flavorful and rustic. It also combines ingredients I love—chicken, arugula and pasta—with a few that I'm learning to love—mushrooms and tomatoes. Fortunately, with beautifully sweet San Marzano tomatoes and mushrooms chopped fine, I cleaned my plate and went back for seconds.


Chicken and Mushroom Ragu
Adapted recipe by Maggie Ruggiero


4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium leek, rinsed and finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, divided

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 (28-ounce) can dice tomatoes in juice, preferably San Marzano

3 cups of baby or wild arugula

½ pound of your favorite pasta, cooked al dente


Finely chop mushrooms and garlic. Set aside.

Finely chop leek. Set aside.

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces.

Place a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat add ¼ cup of olive oil. When oil is hot, add chicken. Season with salt, pepper and ½ of the dried rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is slightly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon into a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and add onions to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic and remaining rosemary. Season lightly with salt and pepper, stirring often, until vegetables begin to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add balsamic vinegar and cook until evaporated. Add tomatoes and juice. Use your spoon to break up tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Finally, add arugula to sauce, stir, and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.

Serve with over your favorite pasta and a bit of grated parmesan.

Saturday Chef's Slow-Cooked Brisket with Rustic Vegetables and Jus

I am like an athlete when I cook. I want to be in the paint. In the zone. In the action. While I understand it's all apart of the game, I don’t like idle time. I don’t want to be benched while the cake cools or the dough rises or the chicken marinates. For this reason, my crockpot has been collecting dust.

When I found the plastic had been punctured on a frozen piece of brisket, I had no choice but to cook it. Only problem? It’s August in Wisconsin, and it’s 90 degrees with suffocating humidity. The solution came in the form of a twenty-year-old silver and black Rival Crockpot.  It could cook the meat wihtout turning the house into a sauna.

Like any braise, I seared the meat to lock in the juices, created a flavorful braising mixture with rough chopped vegetables and herbs and poured it in the crockpot. The little machine more than did its job; it also convinced me that crockpots can be a very value player.


4 to 5 lb brisket, trimmed if necessary

Kosher salt, pepper


3 to 5 carrots, peeled, halved

1 large leek, rinsed, rough chopped

½ yellow onion, rough chopped

2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 fresh sage leaves

4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme

3 to 4 dried bay leaves

1 16oz can diced tomatoes and juice

1 ½ cups red wine

3 cups low-sodium beef broth

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 oz dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted per directions and broth (optional)

Cut brisket into sizeable pieces to ensure that it will fit into your crockpot. Season liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Let rest for about 10 to 20 minutes.

Turn on crockpot to low and cover.

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Lightly coat brisket pieces in flour, tapping to remove excess. Place brisket in pan and brown to form a golden crust all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Remove from pan and set aside. Add vegetables, fresh herbs and bay leaves to hot oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir for a few minutes or until fragrant. You do not want to cook vegetables as they will be braising for a very long time. Add wine and stir to combine. Pour in tomatoes and juice, balsamic vinegar, and beef broth (and mushrooms and broth if using). Season liberally with salt and pepper again. Let cook until mixture begins to boil slight around the edges. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Using a ladle or slotted spoon, scoop vegetables and spices into crock pot. Add the brisket pieces, then carefully pour the broth mixture over the top until full. Cover.

Let cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until meat is lusciously tender. Remove bay leaves and stems of herbs. Enjoy!

Chef’s Note: Although I didn’t bother chopping herbs, you may want to run your knife through the rosemary as the leaves are a bigger.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fantastic Five Layer Bars

It is time for another Saturday Chef Confession: I hate the heat. As much as I enjoy being free of coats and boats, and bright, colorful days, summer is my least favorite season. It is hot, humid and sticky, which leaves me grumpy, uncomfortable, and lazy. Don’t get me started on my fear of bathing suits and short shorts. I don’t want to turn on the stove to make scrambled eggs, let alone braise brisket that’s dangerously close to third-degree freezer burns.

This summer has been nothing but rolling heat waves and choking humidity. And I’m miserable.

I had to throw together a quick dessert for a work party.  I was sick of boxed brownies mixes and we didn’t have a freezer to store ice cream or popsicles until party time. I also had a taste in my head, an amalgam of salty and sweet, rich and crunchy.

So I found a great recipe for Five Layer Bars. It seemed impossible to serve a dessert bar with no flour or eggs, but it all worked because of the wonders of heat. Yes, the heat that I despise thickened the sweetened condensed milk and it bounded the bar together. It reduced the chips to melty, gooey morsels and intensified the crunch and salt of the pecans.

Maybe the heat isn't so bad after all. 


Five Layer Bars

Recipe by Paula Deen

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 jar Five Layer Bar Mix

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press evenly in a buttered glass 13 x 9 baking dish. Sprinkle pecans, butterscotch and chocolate chips and coconut over graham cracker crust. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the layers. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a light golden brown.

Allow to cool almost completely and cut into bars.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beverly's Milestone Mac & Cheese

It’s hard to plan anything with family, be it birthday, bar mitzfahs or baby showers. It is especially hard with a family that is as big as mine (I have 22 aunts and uncles). My grandmother turned seventy-five last month, and she proclaimed that she wanted “fabulous” party to mark the milestone. To this blogger that meant something that rivaled Oscar night or at the very least, a girls’ night out ala Carrie Bradshaw and friends.

To my grandmother, however, that meant family, friends and good food.

The party came together effortlessly. The menu was planned. The cake was ordered. Somehow, I was in charge of preparing a dinner worthy of Beverly’s seventy-fifth. It was a terrifying feat and exhilarating challenge. And I felt a little like a cheftestant on “Top Chef.”

We kept the food simple, which meant there was very little margin of error. The classics—roast chicken, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes—can be the hardest to master. While family trickled in from across town or across the country, I was in my element in the kitchen.

It turned out to be a party for many milestones. I was no longer Damita’s youngest girl or relegated to the kid’s table, I was one of the women I had watched my entire life, in the kitchen hugging the babies and stirring the sauce. I celebrated a quiet milestone of my own.

And there, in my grandmother’s kitchen in Indiana, I perfected my recipe for macaroni and cheese. It isn’t over-baked or dry. It is luscious, creamy, simple. Most importantly, worthy of Beverly’s birthday.



4 tablespoons butter plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for pasta

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups of milk, warmed



1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup grated sharp or extra sharp cheddar plus more for topping

1 cup grated mild cheddar plus more for topping

1 cup grated parmesan or Italian blend cheese plus more for topping

1 lb box of elbow macaroni, cooked al dente

Pre-heat over to 375 degrees.

Fill a large pot with water over high heat. When water boils, salt generously, and cook pasta according to directions, but leave it a bit more al dente.

Melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine to make a roux. Let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Slowly whisk in milk warmed in the microwave until it is combined and smooth. Season again with salt, pepper and a conservative pinch of cayenne. You want the spice to add bite and not heat, so start with an 1/8th a teaspoon and add needed.

Let mixture cook, whisking often, until it boils. It should be thick and creamy. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup of all three cheeses. Whisk to combine. The heat from the sauce will melt the cheese. Season to taste. Add more cheese if needed.

When pasta is done, drain and pour into a buttered 13 by 9 inch pan or large casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with butter, add any leftover cheese if you wish. Stir. Add cheese sauce to pasta. It is better to have more cheese sauce, because the pasta will absorb some of the sauce.  Stir until sauce is incorporated.

Top with an extra 1/3 cup of the three cheeses. Season with pepper.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Chef’s Note: This recipe can be made with whatever cheese you have on hand. I generally use a sharp block cheese, a mild cheese and another to balance out the flavors.  It's great fun finding the balance of flavors you love.  Don’t believe those celebrity chefs. You do not need to buy expensive cheeses for a good macaroni and cheese.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I am a guest-blogger again!

Hi, everyone!

I have once again had the extreme pleasure of guest-blogging for Foodies Like Us! 

If you're interested in a yummy, decadent Potato, Portabella and Parmesan Gratin, please check out my entry at their website. 

And be polite, and leave a comment! 



Please check back here tomorrow for a new Saturday Chef entry!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just in Time for the Fourth: Kira's Not So Secret Dry Rub

If you know anything about barbecue, specifically Southern barbecue, you know it's a method of cooking steeped in tradition, ritual and secrecy.  Any barbecuer below the Mason-Dixon line preaches "low and slow" and will recite sonnets about smoke rings and brisket bark.  But there is one principle that is absolutely paramount, above anything else: You do not, under threat of death, share your recipes.  It doesn't matter if The King himself is offering his blue suede shoes.  The recipe dies with you.

Well, I'm a Yankee and I like sharing.    

Years ago, I started watching southern barbecue competitions, and I needed some.  It was a mouth-watering, belly-rumbling need.  But I'm up north, and I don't like baseball-sized misquitos and choking humidity.  So f the Yankee can't go to the food, I was going to bring the food to the Yankee. 

My dad was also experiementing with smoking and different types of wood chips and charcoals at the time, so I started thinking about seasonings.  As you know, I have a severe aversion to barbecue sauce (unless it is my own), so I had to think dry, as in dry rub. It's strange to admit, but I committed to this Memphis-style rub because I was (and still am) an...enuthsiastic fan of a certain Memphis-born musician who may or may not have brought sexy back.  This recipe is fantastic, and I have no idea where I got it.  I've been using it for at least four years with nothing less than fabulous results. 

So when you're grilling this 4th of July, whip up this rub and add a little sexy to your next barbecue!

*Who wants to look at a bowl of spices?  Here is a Drunk Chicken with Kira's Not So Secret Dry Rub.  Chicken was washed, dried, rubbed with 2 servings of rub.  It sat for about 15 minutes.  Then placed on a rack with a 2/3 full can of beer.  It was grilled over high heat to lock in flavors and add color, then pushed back to over indirect heat.  And turned once for even color.  Expect some of the sugar in the rub to burn.  Cooked for about 1 hr 35 minutes or until 180 degrees in the breast.  Best.  Chicken.  Ever. 

Kira’s Not So Secret Dry Rub
*Makes 1 slab of Baby Back Ribs

6 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder*

¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper*

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix spices together in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add to ribs, chicken or meat of your choice, and let sit until meat begins to sweat, at least 20 minutes. Sear meat over direct heat for color, then move to indirect heat.

*With the Chili and Cayenne spices, start with a teaspoon or two and add as needed. The spice does fade a bit during the cooking process, but you don't want anything to be overpowering.

Chef's Note: I make four batches of this rub and store it in an airtight container.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream

I like a variety of different foods--fried, Italian, French, comfort--but there is nothing more delicious than a wonderfully messy plate of tacos.  I usually make my tacos with ground turkey and leave those unhealthy sauce packets at the store.  For my father's 55th birthday dinner, however, I changed it up a bit and went to the seafood counter for Tilapia, one of his favorites. 

The fish taco is something that has intrigued me since I heard about them, and it has taken more than a few recipes to find a good, simple, healthy one that doesn't require deep frying. 

This Ellie Krieger recipe, with a few Saturday Chef tweaks, is a surprisingly flavorful and filling meal that is of course a bit of a mess, but that only makes it taste better.  The cabbage adds a needed heartiness while the corn supplies a pop of sweetness.  The best part about it is that it can be ready in snap, making perfection for a summer weekday meal or even a birthday celebration for a guy who loves to eat his presents.


Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream
Adapted from Ellie Krieger's recipe at foodtv.com



2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound tilapia filets

Chopped parsley

Chipotle cream:

1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 to 2 teaspoons of adobo sauce


8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage

½ cup sweet corn (thawed if frozen)


Line a strainer with a paper towel. Place strainer over a bowl and add yogurt. Let sit for 20 minutes to drain excess moisture and thicken.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pour over fish and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place a skillet over medium heat and add a few turns of olive oil. Remove fish from marinate and add to skillet, cooking about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Fish may fall apart a bit which is fine. Once all fish is done, flake with a fork and season with chopped parsley for color and season to taste if needed. I add a bit of seasoning salt and a pinch of cayenne to my fish and reheat in the skillet for 1 minute.

In a small bowl combine the thickened yogurt, mayonnaise, and adobo. You may add some chopped chipotle peppers if you like extra spice.

Heat tortillas according to package directions.

Build tacos as you wish and top with 1 tablespoon of chipotle cream.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Saturday Chef Original: Cooking School Chicken (Braised Chicken with Leeks and Potatoes)

I don’t like change. I never have. I like old towels, worn-in jeans, misshapen sweaters and old-fashioned comfort foods. I adjust, of course, but slowly, and that falls into my culinary tastes. Even when it’s 90 degrees with sweltering humidity, I still crave the delicious richness of a brasied meat and potatoes. But I started this blog as a way to broaden my tastes, change my eating habits and to learn.

There are infinite things to learn about cooking: techniques, knife skills, information on thousands of ingredients, how to salvage recipes gone wrong. Every recipe teaches me something, as does every mistake. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that cooking is a labor of love, a gift to the senses.

Chefs on reality shows and the super-chefs of the Food Network nearly bludgeon viewers with their big idea of Cooking With Love, the use artful and creative preparation of food as a way to express affection to family and loved ones. It is a beautiful sentiment, and realistically, a fantastic and wholesomely marketable way to promote celebrity chefs and their shows, and sell Food Network cookware.

But it’s also true.

The act of cooking serves a paramount purpose: nourishing the people close to you. It is a simple task that can be incredibly profound, and it’s never more apparent than when you discover or create a recipe that inspires much more than just yummy noises. A simple meal can be the bedrock of tradition and nurture celebration. My understanding of the Cooking With Love concept has once again been reinforced by creating. It is everything I love: rustic braised chicken suspended in a rich sauce studded with potatoes. It is warming and hearty, and can be made in about just an hour.

I have dubbed this dish Cooking School Chicken as I get to practice a lot of techniques—braising, deglazing, chopping—and because it has taught me the biggest cooking lesson there is and one that will never change.


1 pound baby red potatoes, cut in bite-size pieces

6 to 8 chicken thighs (with bone and skin)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Flour for dredging

Olive oil

1 ½ to 2 medium leeks, washed and finely chopped

1 cup dry white wine

2 to 3 carrots, peeled, cut in edible pieces

4 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon lemon juice (or juice of ½ lemon)

2 tablespoons Half & Half

Salt, Pepper

Parsley Flakes (optional)

Cut potatoes into even bite-size pieces, halves or quarters for the larger spuds. Rinse. Pour potatoes into a medium pot, cover with water and place over medium-high heat to boil while you chop vegetables and prep chicken. Boil potatoes until they are soft but still a bit firm, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain. Season conservatively with salt, pepper and a pat of butter.

Wash and finely chop leeks. Set aside.

Peel and rinse carrots. Quarter carrots lengthwise, then cut into roughly 2-inch strips (Note: You can use baby carrots to decrease prep time. I have used both. I find that larger carrots impart more flavor. And I really like peeling them).

Rinse and pat chicken dry. Season with salt, pepper and dried thyme on both sides. Dredge in flour seasoned with same spices. Be sure to tap chicken gently to remove any excess flour.

Place the biggest skillet you have (16” or bigger) over moderately high heat and add enough olive oil to coat bottom of the pan. When oil is hot, place chicken skin-side down and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. You may need to work in batches as not to crowd the pan. Transfer chicken to plate.

Drain off oil, chicken juices and darkened flour and reserve in measuring cup. Carefully wipe out any burnt bits from bottom of pan.

Place skillet over medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of reserved oil, then leeks. Sweat until leeks are soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper. Deglaze with white wine. Cook until liquid begins to bubble at the sides. Add carrots and 1 teaspoon of thyme.

Add 2 cups of chicken broth and stir to combine, allow to cook until liquid is boiling and has reduced a bit. Add chicken, skin-side up, and juices from plate. Cover and simmer chicken on low until meat can be easily removed from the bone with a fork and carrots are done, about 30 to 40 minutes. Shake the pan peridocially while simmer.

When chicken is done, transfer to plate. The leftover liquid should now be thicker and even formed a brown crust in some spots (don’t panic, it’s flavor!). Increase heat to medium. Add remaining chicken broth and stir. Let sauce thicken and reduce for about 10 minutes. Season with pepper and thyme if needed. Add potatoes and two palmfuls of parsley flaskes for color.

When sauce has thickened to desired consistency, add lemon juice to brighten and Half & Half to thicken. Check and adjust seasoning if needed*. Add chicken back to skillet and leave on heat for a few minutes to marry flavors.

Serve immediately. This can be made a day ahead of time.

Recipe Notes

*Lemon juice will bring out the flavor of salt, so use it conservatively when seasoning sauce and vegetables.

*Also, I almost always use Half & Half in place of heavy cream unless I'm baking. It’s readibly available, and a bit healthier. Feel free to use cream if you wish.

*Recipe originally posted on http://www.foodieslikeusblog.com/ as a guest blog by yours truly.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mom's Chicken with Coffee Barbecue Sauce (Grill Not Required!)

There are a lot of things people will do for family, take a bullet, flip a car, walk through fire.  My personal, heroic sacrifice was to make barbecued chicken for my mom's Mother's Day present.  Barbecued chicken on a rainy, cold Saturday in May. 

Honestly, I'd rather walk through fire. 

Because I don't like barbecue sauce.  It's messy and cloying and the smell of it makes me sick.  However, when I started this blog, I did it with the intention to broaden my culinary horizons and even prepare things I loathe.  One of my mother's favorite stories to tell is how she revived Christmas dinner in the 80s with a pan of barbecued chicken.  So instead of taking her out to breakfast, I started researching barbecue sauces.

I found dozens of recipes with at least 15 ingredients...molasses, brown sugar, weird peppers I have no hope of finding.  Then I stumbled upon this recipe by Michael Chiarello.  It had rave reviews, and it was distubingly simple.  I didn't even have to buy anything.  So I started cooking, making my dad taste it.  He said it was too sweet and not tangy enough.  And I wanted to add all of those funky ingredients.  But I didn't.  I trusted the recipe, the reviewers and Mr. Chiarello.  This sauce is made to be baked.  It marries the flavors and it becomes something sweet and bright and amazing.  I ate two pieces...and I actually dipped my chicken in it.  I'm a believer in the BBQ!  But only this one.

After the dinner was done, after my mom ohhed and awwed and yummed, she kissed me on the cheek and declared that this recipe was hers. 


Coffee Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from Michael Chiarello


4 tablespoons mashed and minced garlic, can use crushed garlic

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 cups ketchup

1 1/3 to 2 cups honey

½ to ¾ cup of stronger coffee or 2 demitasse cups espresso

Mash garlic with the side of a knife and then mince finely to release oils or use crushed, jarred garlic to save prep time and weeks of garlic hands.

Add olive oil to a preheated saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until it gets light brown, about 1 minute. Add cider vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, honey and coffee and whisk to combine. I recommend adding 1 1/3 cup of honey as mixture will be very sweet. The coffee will help curb the sweetness. You can adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, but it honestly doesn’t need it. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, stirring and tasting ocassionally.


2 lbs of chicken thighs or your favorite cut


Black Pepper


Garlic Powder



Preheat oven to 375.

Season chicken with the spices on both sides. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to barely cover bottom of pan. When oil is hot, add chicken skin-side down. Brown thighs thoroughly on both sides, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Place chicken on foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken measures 150 degrees. Pour 2 cups of sauce into a bowl and submerge chicken to coat. Place chicken back onto sheet and cook for 20 more minutes, basting with sauce every 10 minutes. Thighs internal temperature sure measure about 165 to 170 degrees when done.

Let chicken rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Use the remaining sauce as for dipping or…drinking. It’s that good.  Freeze the remaining sauce.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Coconut Pavlova with Chocolate Chantilly Cream and Strawberry Coulis

*This recipe was revised on November 3rd*

I wrote a novel two years ago and I need to re-start the difficult process of selling it.  Yesterday, I went to a seminar on query letters. I walked in feeling extremely shy and nervous and like a misfit (because I was the youngest person in the room, probably by decades) and walked out feeling an incongruous combination of inspired and terrified. The woman hosting the seminar published a book eight years ago. While it wasn't a best-selling jaggernaut like Twilight or Eat Pray Love, she had what we all wanted: a published novel. But the speaker was breathless with angst over her currently stalled new manuscript and discouragingly candid about how hard the publishing world is.

Afterwards, I desperately needed security in my passions. I found it in both the kitchen—ironically with fire and knives—and in beautifully intriguing words like "pavlova" and "chantilly" and "coulis." I'm still nowhere closer to the perfect query letter or literally agent, but I did create something: the best dessert I've EVER had. It is light yet decadent. It is chocolatey and sweet and tangy. And it's reassuring that if I can make this tiny dream tangible, then maybe I can take on the bigger ones.



Adapted from recipe at epicurious.com

Toasted Coconut, recipe as follows
6 egg whites (about 1 cup of egg whites)
1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup boiling water
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment.
Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites, cornstarch, vinegar, vanilla and salt until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in 1/4 cup boiling water, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until whites are stiff and glossy. Pipe or spoon meringue onto baking sheets in circular shapes about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.  (NOTE: If you have a piping bag or piping tips, it will be easier to make the meringues uniform, but a spatula works too).
Bake meringue for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200°F and bake until dry and crisp outside and just cooked through inside, about 1 hour, although it may take a little longer. My meringues were a dusky light brown on the outside and squishy like marshmallows in the middle.  Turn off oven. Let meringue stand in oven 1 hour and leave in oven until completely cool and ready to serve.
Store between layers of parchment in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.
Toasted Coconut
1 ½ cup sweetened coconut flakes
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread coconut on a baking sheet. Toast until a light golden brown, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Do not leave the kitchen.  It will burn very quickly.  Cool.
This can be made the day before.  Store in an air-tight container.
Chocolate Chantilly Cream
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
Chill metal mixer bowl in freezer for about 5 minutes.  Sift sugar and cocoa together in bowl or onto parchment paper.  Whisk heavy cream at high speed, gradually adding cocoa mixture while beating.  You may need to scrape the bowl a few minutes to full incorporate cocoa and sugar.  Whipped cream should be the consistency of shaving cream.  (NOTE: Mixture should not be overly sweet.)  Refrigerate any leftovers.
Red Berry Coulis
16 ounces fresh or frozen strawberries (if fresh, hulled and cut in half)
6 oz fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup sugar plus more if needed
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
*If using frozen berries, make sure they are thawed.
Add all ingredients into a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until it boils slightly at the sides.  It only takes a few minutes.  Taste and add more sugar if needed.  Transfer to blender and blend until smooth.
This can be made the day before.  Refrigerate until ready to use and up to a week.
Chef’s Note:  It won’t last a week.  It makes fantastic margaritas, toppings for pancakes or base for smoothies.
Remove a meringue from cooking sheet.  Place onto saucer.  Spread a generous dollop of Chocolate Chantilly Cream on top.  Drizzle with Coulis.  Sprinkle on toasted coconut.  Repeat process.  Garnish with chopped fresh strawberries, if you have them.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Simple Wonders: Homemade Challah Bread

In the world of awesome electronics—have you seen the iPad?!—and 24-hour supermarkets, simple wonders have been lost to the ever-expanding reach of modernity and convenience. And I think that is a little sad. Yes, Amazon's Kindle is cool and playing with the iPad might make you feel like the Jean Luc Picard, but can it replace the feeling of curling up with a real book or magazine on a rainy day, feeling the grain of the pages with your fingers? For this writer, it doesn't. 

I don’t consider myself a baker. My cakes are usually messy, yet tasty disasters. And I have an allergy to too much heavy cream.  To my own credit, I have made pretty good soft pretzels, bagels and cinnamon rolls. So I’m not a complete novice and I'm baking more than ever. Whenever I use yeast, I am always quietly awed and exubertantly giddy when the dough rises. It is a little majesty, like the sparkle of fresh snow, that is worth the work and the patience baking requires. It seems impossible that a little packet of dry powder are actually microorganisms doing incredible things to flour and eggs and water.  Tell me that's not cooler than sea monkeys?!

Challah is one of those fantastic chance buys that changed my expectations of bread. I was looking for brioche—a fancy bread that the celebrity chefs covet for french toasts and bread puddings. My local grocery store didn’t have brioche, but they had challah. I was taken by the glossy finish, festive braid and the slightly sweet taste. I buy it almost exclusively now.

So it was only a matter of time before I started looking at recipes. I spent a day blending, kneading and braiding, and I fell in love with breadmaking in the process. There is something cathartic about working the dough and seeing it take shape. It’s also great cardio. I may have jumped for joy when the loaves came out of the oven and were actually bread-like, hearty but fluffy and totally Challah-esque.

If you’re at home on a rainy day and happen to have a bucket of flour and a packet of dry yeast, let those little buggers free and behold a little culinary magic.


Challah I

By Joan Calloway
Makes 2 Large Loaves

2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1/2 cup honey

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 tablespoon salt

8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. I used a meat thermometer to test the temperature of the water. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt in a strong mixer with a large bowl. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition. By the eighth cup, the mixer—my Kitchen-Aid—could barely incorporate the last cup of flour. Remove it from the bowl and place on immaculate, floured countertop and knead to incorporate.

Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed, about 5 to 8 minutes. If the dough tears or seems dry, dribble a bit of warm water over it with your fingers and continue to knead. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half (my halves were about 1 lbs, 12 oz. Yes, I measured). Knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle.

Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays with shortening and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid.

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. (NOTE: I convect baked bread, and my loaves were done in 25 minutes). Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.

Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.

Chef’s Note: This bread has no preservatives and will spoil faster than regular bread. It also produces two gigantic loaves. I suggest halving the recipe or giving the extra loaf to co-workers or your boss. You might get those days off you wanted.

Challah in Pictures:

Before its first rise.

Braiding is easy.
Proofed and polished.
Ready for its close-up.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lemon-Scented Cake with Blueberry Compote

I have started many an entry professing my love for the ingredient of the week. This post is the antithesis of such musings. I hate blueberries. I love the color, and I don't even mind the flavor. I just hate the texture. It's squishy and gross and they literally make me gag.

I was at the store on Saturday, shopping with inspired glee as I normally do, and I found pints of organic blueberries ON SALE. Before I could chastize myself for not making a list and sticking to it, they were in my cart. I thought I'd make blueberry muffins or something. My mother loves blueberries and my dad will eat anything.

Then I was struck with the idea to make a cake or quickbread and a fruit compote to go with it. Spring is arriving faster than it ever has, and it seemed like a lighter, spring-y dessert. So I made it. The recipe is pretty much as is, except I nixed the lemon zest in both dishes.

I thought about halving the recipe, only making one cake, but trust me, you'll need that second cake. I promise you. And surprisingly, I loved the compote, but I still hate blueberries.


Lemon-Scented Cake

by Ina Garten

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided

4 extra-large eggs

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup lemon juice

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cake cool.

Blueberry Compote
Lillian Chou

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar
2 cups blueberries (10 oz)

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Boil water and sugar in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in blueberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until blueberries begin to burst, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: Compote will be pretty thin, but still insanely flavorful!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saturday Chef Does Beef: Decadent Braised Short Ribs

Cooking is about time and timing.  Judging by the lines at the drive-thrus on any given weeknight, Americans want food quickly.  Sometimes, that's a good thing--a pre-packaged salad, a bagel from Panera.  But other times good food needs time for flavors to marry, for fat to render and taste to blossom. 

When I started cooking, I swore I wouldn't be one of those cooks who marinated meats overnight or spent seven hours making ONE cake (that recipe coming soon, LMAO).  Then I went on the search for a beautiful, exquisite, fancy recipe for this blog, and I found one for Braised Short Ribs in the February issue "Bon Appetit."  I'd had a recipe before, but it didn't have that taste that justified the time invested. 

Then I tried the magazine's version with cheaper wines and my own touches. The result was nothing short of amazing.  I'd never thought I'd be able to make anything like this in my life.  This recipe had me seriously contemplating culinary school as I was so proud of the result. 

So, yes, this recipe is a lot of work and requires a lot of time.  But it is amazing and more importantly, it's do-able.  Make it for your man or your mother or your friends, and take the time to soak in their praises. 


Serves: 4


4 pounds or 8 to 10 short ribs
Olive oil
Salt (both kosher and table)
Dried Thyme
6 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
½ to 1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally in half-inch coins
2 to 3 bay leaves
1 ½ cup of red wine (Chianti is best)
½ cup port
3 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ to 3 cups of low sodium beef broth

Season all sides of short ribs with generously with kosher salt, pepper and dried thyme. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is hot, add ribs, fat side down and brown on all meaty sides, about 5 to 7 minutes per side. NOTE: This process can take awhile, so I usually chop my vegetables while the meat is browning as not to rush it. You should probably work in batches of 4 to 5 ribs each.

When ribs are browned, set aside on a plate. Drain off all of all of the oil and drippings from pan except for about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Toss onions into pot over medium heat and sweat until fragrant and they beginning to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrots, fresh thyme sprigs, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes. I use the edge of my spoon and bruise the thyme sprigs to release more flavor.

Add wine and port to pot. Stir to combine, and cook until it begins to boil lightly for about 3 to 5 minutes before adding the balsamic vinegar and 1 ½ cups of broth. Let mixture come to a boil again and cook for 5 to 7 minutes to concentrate flavor. Taste mixture. It should be flavorful and well-balanced. If anything it is not to your liking, add more wine, port or broth. Adjust seasonings as you like.

Place ribs back into pan, bone side up. Nestling them together can be tricky, but try to get them into one layer. Broth should just cover the meat. If it doesn’t, add more chicken broth. Cover and simmer on low for one hour.

Check ribs. Bones may have loosened or fallen off completely. This is good! Keep them in the pot. If you can turn or flip the ribs, go ahead, just make sure bone side is still up. If the liquid has reduced a lot, add more broth. You also may want to check and adjust seasonings, sparingly. Cover and simmer for another 90 minutes.

NOTE: We’ve now entered what I call the Beef Stealer phase of this long process. This is when the house smells of delectable simmering meat, and people, like parents or even neighbors, come out of the woodwork to hover around the pot. They tell that they thought you left the pot on and IT’S GOING TO BURN! So they’ll check it and taste it for you. You know, to save it. You must guard the pot. Use your chef’s knife if you have to. The finished product will be worth it. But you, The Chef, can steal all the beef you want.

After the longest 90 minutes of your culinary life, ribs are done and braised. Taste them. They should be tremor-worthy good…so buttery soft, you can cut them with a fork. If they are still a little chewy, braise for 30 more minutes.

This is generally when you can stop for the day and put them away once the ribs have cooled—ribs in one container and the liquid and a few bones in another. I know it’s hard, but do this and your heart will thank you (If you do not want to wait until the next day, pour cooled braising liquid into a plastic container and freeze until fat solidifies. Scrape off, discard and continue).

The next day.

Remove ribs from the fridge. Pre-heat oven to 400.

Open gravy container. Here you will find an alarming layer of fat on top of the gravy. Skim off with a spoon and discard. Add the rest of the gravy to a pan over medium low-heat. Thin out with a bit of beef broth and reduce for about 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings if needed.

Place ribs onto a cookie sheet and pop into the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, turning over midway through cooking. This not only will reheat them, but it will add a light crust to the outside while leaving them succulent and juicy on the inside.

Finally, finally, serve with roasted potatoes. Drizzle with gravy.

*I've made this recipe five times and sadly, 9 short ribs serves about 3 people.  It's THAT good.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saturday Chef's Scrumptious Chicken Pot Pie

I consider myself a modest person, but it flies out the window when I talk about this pot pie that is literally years in the making. As a meat-and-potatoes girl, I worship pot pies, from the buttery crust down to the slightly salty filling to the hearty potatoes. I have been making them for years. In college, I started buying rotisserie chickens and potatoes and I'd eat various preparations during the week (Ha! Does that explain the chicken obsession?). I'd make chicken and gravy over mashed potatoes, chicken soup, chicken sandwiches and then chicken pot pie. First, from an awesome Bisquick recipe. Then I tried frozen pie crusts. Finally, it morphed into this fantastically simple concoction that is as close to perfection as I will probably ever get without professional culinary intervention.

This version of the pot pie is simple with just a bit more time dedicated to the veggies, specifically the onions. I used to hate onions, but I found that roasting them changes the flavor, makes them sweeter.  Honestly, I could eat these like popcorn. And I generally do while I cook the rest of the pie.

Make this meal and people with love you, thank you, and beg you to make another one. That's why this recipe makes two.


4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
2 to 3 sprigs of thyme leaves
2 cups par-boiled russet potatoes, 1 inch dice
1 lb bag frozen pearl onions
2 to 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, skin removed
1 ½ to 2 cups frozen mixed veggies (carrots, peas, green beans)
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
Salt, Pepper
Eggwash (1 egg, one tablespoon water)
Kosher salt, optional

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine. Let the roux cook for one to two minutes. Slowly whisk in chicken broth. Mixture will thicken quickly. Stir and season with salt and pepper.

Combine milk and half & half into a microwave-able cup. Heat in microwave until warm. Slowly whisk in warmed milk until liquid is thick and creamy. Season again with salt, pepper and the leaves of thyme sprigs.

Add potatoes and roasted pearl onions (recipe follows). Stir to combine and let sauce cook a bit until it begins to boil. Taste and adjust any seasonings. The sauce will be baked, so leave the seasoning a bit mild.

Finally, add the frozen vegetables (rinse and pat dry if there is a lot of ice) and stir. Remove from heat. Spoon into a pie plate.

Roll out thawed puff pastry sheet lightly just to remove the crease lines and stretch out dough. Carefully place over entire pie plate. Trim the extras off with a knife, making sure to leave some extra dough to accommodate for shrinkage during baking.

Brush the top lightly with egg wash, sprinkle with kosher salt. Poke a few slight in the top of pie to vent steam.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Roasted Pearl Onions

1 lb bag frozen pearl onions, thawed
Olive Oil
Dried Thyme

Rinse and pat dry onions. Pour into single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and dried thyme.

Toss to coat.

Roast in a 400 degree oven until a golden brown.  After 20 minutes, check onions and turn over for more even roasting.  It should take about 20 to 30 minutes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Saturday Chef Original: Larry's Heart-y Chicken Chili

When I posted my Ultimate Grilled Cheese, I jokingly laughed at the traditional New Year's resolutions to lose weight.  I stand by my post, but I also know that food's first purpose is nourishment.  So "fat for fat's sake" is not the best practice, and I promise you it's not one of mine.  Thus, I try to shave needless calories from my cooking whenever I can. 

I also mentioned that I give my father food as gifts, because it's pretty much all he'll accept.  I want those edible presents to be delicious and healthy to make up for the Bears tickets and the million of other things I can't buy him.  As one of thirteen children, he thoroughly appreciates a good meal.

So for Superbowl Sunday, I provided the eats in the form of chicken chili.  Originally planned as a white chili, it quickly turned into a vibrant explosion or color and a cornucopia of vegetables!  It has a good kick of backheat, thanks to the chipotle and adobo, and it is cleverly thickened with beans, instead of a roux.  This chili is a nourishing present that is good for the heart and soul.

Oh, and apparently a good luck charm for the Saints.  Hee!



4 chicken thighs, skinned
1 leek, sliced
½ white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, ½’’ dice
1 yellow bell pepper, ½’’ dice
½ white onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 15 oz can white beans
1 15 oz can black beans
1 15 oz can chick peas
1 clove garlic
½ to 1 chipotle in adobo (canned, whole pepper)
1 ½ cup of frozen corn
32 oz of vegetable broth
onion powder
garlic powder
house seasoning
Olive Oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season both lightly sides of chicken with salt, black pepper, cumin, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, and garlic powder. Pour approximately 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a large, hot skillet over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, add chicken breast and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on both sides or until chicken is browned. Place the chicken onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum-foil and put into the oven for 20 minutes. When chicken is done, let it cool and rest for at least 15 minutes.

Drain oil and spices from dutch oven and reserve in measuring cup. Wipe away any burned bits.

While the chicken is roasting, dice onion, peppers, garlic, leeks, and carrots. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and add a healthy drizzle of the reserved oil. When oil is hot, add the onions and leeks and sweat until soft and fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add bell peppers, carrots, and garlic. Cook until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add vegetable broth and chiptotle with joining adobo sauce. NOTE: You can add as much as you want, but one pepper is plenty. When liquid starts to boil, turn down low. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

After chicken has rested, pull or slice chicken off of bones and shred with fingers.

Add cans of drained and thoroughly rinsed black beans, chick peas and 1/3rd of the can of white beans to pot. Take the rest of the white beans and mash with a spoon or masher. Scrape mashed beans into the chili and stir to thicken. Add chicken and continue to cook for a few minutes to let flavors marry. Add frozen corn if you wish. Taste and adjust heat to desired tolerance.

Serve with cornbread or tortilla chips.

Chefs Note: I am aware that I post a lot of recipes with chicken.  Clearly, I LOVE it.  But those who love beef need not be worried.  I am not a cluckatarian.  Beef and vegetarian recipes are on the way.  Promise.