Trying out recipes to pass on to you.

dinner for someone special

Posted: September 29th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

thank you bon appetit magazine! after about two or three issues of lackluster food offerings, the october issue was back with many tasty vittles. maybe i was just ready for fall. maybe i was looking for something unfussy and uncomplicated. this panko-crusted chicken with mustard maple pan sauce may SOUND complicated—but other than buying the chicken breasts and panko i had all the other ingredients around. it came together very quick. and in my opinion, there is nothing more comforting than some pan gravy slathered on whatever you’re enjoying.

this recipe says it makes four servings but the hubs and i demolished it all. i think this would be the perfect entree to serve someone special and i’m glad the hubs got to try it first. he gave rave reviews. maybe you should serve it next time your in-laws are over, a friend is in from out of town, or for a birthday dinner. (i know it wasn’t the happiest, but i’m thinking about you on your birthday today, jesse. hugs!)


  • 2 8-ounce skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise in half
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (i used dried)
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup panko (japanese breadcrumbs found in the asian food section of your store. you could sub bread crumbs, but it wouldn’t be as crunchy)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (i used normal pancake syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard (i used spicy brown mustard)
  • 1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter


  • Using meat mallet or rolling pin, pound chicken in resealable plastic bag to 1/3- to 1/2-inch thickness. Whisk egg, parsley, and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard in large bowl. Place chicken in egg mixture; turn to coat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken piece in panko; turn to coat.
  • Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.
  • Meanwhile, whisk broth, syrup, coarse-grained mustard, and remaining 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard in glass measuring cup.
  • Transfer chicken to plates. Add broth mixture to skillet; boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add butter; whisk until melted. Spoon sauce alongside chicken.

the pan sauce it KILLER. be sure to let it reduce down for maximum flavors. it will compliment many sides, too. i served the chicken with sauteed spinach and pears sauteed with butter, agave and cinnamon. it would also be great with a baked or mashed sweet potato or homemade bread to sop up the sauce. i hope you make this for yourself or someone special very soon!

the longest wait: from oven to plate

Posted: September 23rd, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

long lines. traffic. waiting to talk to a real person on the line. we do a lot of waiting. for me, the longest wait is for dinner to get ready while my husband (who arrives home an hour before me) patiently keeps busy waiting to eat.

while i chop, dice and stir time flies by. but once something hits the stove or oven—it’s like waiting for paint to dry. tonight it was for meatloaf which called for a 90 minute cook time. ah!

i rarely make the same version twice. this recipe from the october bon appetite magazine had two things going for it. 1) ground turkey. i LOVE to cook with it. 2) ingredients i’d never think to use in a meatloaf–namely mushrooms and chicken stock. it was DIVINE! even without the traditional ketchup glaze on top i love so. go HERE to get the recipe for this turkey meatloaf with mushrooms and herbs. so good i keep getting a forkful each time i walk past the stove and my husband cleaned his plate. he didn’t come from a “make a happy plate!” house, so this rarely happens. :)

the magazine suggested serving it with mashed potatoes and glazed root vegetables. i had carrots so used their recipe of simmering water, a bit of butter, a pinch of salt and honey with the carrots for a sweet, tender side dish. and a great way to use up the mini carrots that came on a recent party veggie tray :)

and of course THE MYSTERY SQUASH. i cut it open tonight and

JUST like the inside of a spaghetti squash. i cut open my ACTUAL spaghetti squash to verify. still not sure why it got that hard green skin instead of the traditional pale yellow.

too scared to try the green guy, i cooked up the spaghetti squash. have you tried one? read this article and TRY not to run out to buy one and give it a try.

i took half the squash and put it in a microwaveable dish. put it in cut side up and fill about 1/3 with water. cover with plastic wrap and microwave about 12 minutes. the skin should have give to it (use a pot holder to poke it) and the skin should pierce easily. let it cool a bit a drag a fork through the skin. it makes perfect “noodles”

and look, with NO topping it looks like buttery pasta. basically a blank canvas to season and spice any way you would noodles for a low cal, no fat side.

i used the ’simple cheesy spaghetti squash’ recipe with parmesean cheese, butter, olive oil, salt and pepper. INSANE YUM. a bit less than healthy, but we gobbled it up. it was a great side with the sweet carrots and savory turkey meatloaf.

what quick, easy meal was a success at your house this week? any worth the wait, long cook meals?

the case of the mystery squash

Posted: September 20th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 7 Comments »

like a culinary nancy drew i’m trying to identify what squash / gourd i have here on the far left. any ideas?

my sweet mommy brings me lots of veggies from her garden each time she visits and recently brought me a spaghetti squash (pale yellow, right) this green guy and some cute little watermelons. She also wasn’t sure what kind of squash it might be. she has an assortment but it didn’t look like any she planted.

from my limited hard squash cooking / eating experience, i know it isn’t butternut, spaghetti or acorn squash. since squash are on display for eating and fall decorating now, i even dug through piles at the store to see if i could i.d. this one. nope. flipped through a veggie book. nope. looked online. nope. it’s shaped most like a spaghetti squash—sort of like a fat long football. but the skin isn’t smooth. it has a bit of a ridge to it. but not as deep as an acorn squash and certainly not squat like they are. the color isn’t like anything i looked up.

could it be a really freaking fat zucchini?!?!

so here’s the plan. i’m going to roast some root veggies later this week and try to figure out what this is by cutting it in half and roasting it along with them. thanks to the research i have a new found texture / taste education  on gourds. of course jack-o-lantern types are stringy and spaghetti squash has that cool noddle texture when scooped out but it seems most have a meaty, not stringy texture like a cross between a sweet potato and butternut squash. i can vouch for the acorn squash having this texture, too.

in the meantime, if you have any ideas leave them for me here. i’ll be sure to report back.

sass up canned soup

Posted: September 16th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

thanks again to everyone who answered my call for help to jazz up an everyday can of soup and grilled cheese. i had a few things in the fridge but didn’t know where to start. your ideas were a big help!

i too love mayo, briana, so for the sandwich, i took jennegui’s suggestion and used fresh basil to made a basil mayo and combined mozzarella and cheddar cheese. buttered the bread and pan fried. alas, no bacon. THIS time.

for the soup, i started with a regular can of campbells tomato and made it with 1 percent milk. while it heated i sauteed about 2 tablespoons of white onion, one clove of garlic diced in a dab of butter. many of you said go for the tomatoes so in the microwave i heated the cup of roasted cherry tomatoes i had stashed in the fridge. in to the blender went the heated tomatoes, sauteed onion and garlic and about a tablespoon of olive oil. i added about one cup (half) of the heated soup to the blender. then i stirred that mixture in to the rest of the soup. DELISH! the flavors were much more sophisticated than the normal can. you could definitely make out the roasted cherry tomatoes and the onion/garlic added another nice layer. It also thickened up which i enjoyed a lot.

in my head i wanted to give it like a french onion treatment so i added a toast crouton, sprinkled it with parmesan cheese and put it under the broiler. fearing the integrity of my target mug, i didn’t leave it long enough to brown. but the crispy parm stirred in to the soup (shout out alyssa!) and made for surprising cheesy bites.

chubbins was still hungry after that feast so i made half a grilled cheddar cheese taking death_by_sharpie’s suggestion and put parm on the outside of the bread. i kind of mashed it in to the butter then pan fried and yes, it did have a great nutty flavor! this one would be great with rachel’s tomato addition.

more kitchen dilemma soon, i’m sure :)

grilled cheese add ons- good idea / bad idea?

Posted: September 15th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

the lazy chef (me) is making grilled cheese and canned soup tonight. why?

1) i didn’t feel like going to the store this week.

2) i LOVE grilled cheese.

3) the hubs loves a can of chicken noodle. and to be honest, campbell’s tomato soup made with milk is pretty tasty in my book.

i do like to add ingredients to my grilled cheese now and then. and there’s no crime in adding a bit of this or that to the canned soup either.

i have about a cup of cherry tomatoes i roasted this weekend i’d like to use. maybe puree and stir in the soup? or melt in with the cheese? good idea / bad idea?

how do YOU like to add pizzazz to your grilled cheese? ever stir veggies, cream or toppings in to canned soup? help a sister out!

mac n cheese for….50?

Posted: September 10th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | 4 Comments »


I’m a recipe girl, so I hit up my favorite foodie web sites when I have a hankering for something new. I stumbled upon this Ina Garten adult looking mac n cheese recipe and decided to give it a try. It had PAGES of positive reviews and it was miles away from the blue box we so often use at our house.

The cheese is a bit pricey but so worth it! This is creamy perfection with a crunchy top. I left off the tomatoes which weren’t missed. This is the second “homemade” mac n cheese I’ve tried (the other was Martha’s famous recipe) but this one is the one I’ll go back to again. May try new cheeses or add bacon or pancetta, maybe sauteed onion or shallot to the batch (we sprinkled bacon on top of half the pan).

Warning! It makes a TON. The hubs and I ate on it for three days before giving up and only dented half the pan. Take this to a pot luck, introduce it at a family holiday or half it for a smaller group.


  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish. (I used a 13×9 cake pan)

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

the bean remedy

Posted: September 7th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Thank you to Joh’s dad who sent two GREAT northern versions of baked beans and stove top beans. Also to my grandmother who emailed me a version of red beans and rice.

I ended up going with what I had in the fridge and combined a few recommendations.

1/2 lb dried pinto beans

I did the quick boil method rather than letting them sit overnight. Go through the beans for any rocks then rinse. Cover with 2-3 cups warm water and boil 2-3 minutes then let rest at least one hour in the hot water. Drain and cook as normal. (Joh’s dad suggested using the soak water)

I cut up two slices of bacon and cooked them in a pan. On top of the bacon and grease I added the beans, 3-4 cups of warm water and let cook 45 mins on medium heat.

Then I added half a large onion diced, 1/2 a bunch of green onion diced, 1/2 a large green pepper diced, 2 garlic cloves minced, 1/4 tsp red pepper, 1/4 tsp oregano, several good cranks of black pepper, a few dashes Tabasco sauce, 1 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of salt. I stirred and let that cook another 45 minutes checking periodically and adding 1/2 cup water heer and there to keep the beans covered.

The texture was great and the flavor had MUCH more depth than my normal dried herb routine. I crumbled cornbread on top, a few shakes of Tabasco and some of my mom’s homemade relish. Ahhh….heartwarming. Just what I wanted.

The hubs liked the flavor but didn’t try a bowl. He instead had his third helping of man n cheese for the weekend (recipe coming soon).

Next time I’ll try Joh’sdad’s suggestion and add maple and brown sugar for more of a baked bean / bbq  flavor. Or smoked sausage, tomatoes and serve it over rice like like grandma suggested.

Cooler weather is coming soon. Keep your eyes peeled for YOUR new favorite way to make a savory bowl of beans.

WANTED: stovetop bean recipes

Posted: September 4th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Fall is on a lot of minds here. Not only has it been unseasonably cool for late August and now early September, but this week has been rainy to boot. Not to mention college football starts this weekend. All these factors call for a big pot of something warm.

I recently made the death row meal soup I love so. But thanks to Smitten Kitten’s cornbread salad post I want to make the recipe I have from my mom for cornbread salad which calls for a pan of jalapeno cornbread and a pan of regular cornbread tossed with red peppers, celery, green onion and plenty of mayo. It’s a great picnic or cook-out side dish but makes a lot. I’m thinking of halving it and using the rest of the cornbread to serve with a warm pot of beans this weekend. It’s lazy Sunday kind of food.

My husband hasn’t ever bought in to the beans and cornbread club. Honestly, I don’t have a recipe. I rinse and cook pinto or mixed dried beans all day and season sporadically with whatever. Bay leaf, salt and pepper, cumin, paprika, onion or garlic powder. But never the same twice. Can you help me convert him?

Do you have a recipe for slow simmered beans you love to use? I’m dying for a bowl with crumbled corn bread, a few shakes of Tabasco and chow chow relish. Mmm…..