Fridays are for Chicken [baked chicken with tomatoes and cheese]

Hallelujah, praise the Lord, I have found another “forget about it” chicken. You know, the kind of chicken which is almost effortless. And flavorful. And the kind that will go into heavy rotation in this household, I already know. Here is how you, too, can make this chicken.

You’ll need:

  • A glug of olive oil
  • A glug of your favorite boneless, skinless cut of chicken
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, also finely chopped
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 T mascarpone cheese
  • a giant sprig of fresh basil, or a tsp. of dried

Brown your chicken, plus salt and pepper, in the olive oil in an oven-proof dish. Remove to a plate. Add onion and garlic to the pan, and saute for a couple of minutes, until fragrant and soft. Add the tomatoes (+ juice), and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Add chicken back to the pan, and pop that sucker into the oven. Cook 10 minutes, flip the chicken, and cook 10 more. Done and done.

It should come as no surprise that this chicken comes from DALS, weeknight dinner champion.


A Resolution Breaker [stovetop mac and cheese]

This mac and cheese is amazing and quick, and if you’re looking for a great way to break your 2017, “be a healthier person” resolution, this is it.  I made it as written months ago, and we’re experimenting with Havarti and Mozzarella later this week.


Cheers, dear readers, and happy 2017.  I’ve got tons to tell you, but I’ve gotta get through the most epic reading post ever.  I’ve been editing it for weeks–weeks!

To make Alton Brown’s Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese for 4, you will need:

1/2 pound elbow macaroni*
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

*I take issue with a lot of recipes that call for less than a whole box of pasta.  Why wouldn’t you make the whole box of pasta?  So use a big pot, and double up if you want, dear readers.

Naptime Scones

Since the Gooplet arrived at La Moneda, we have been so fortunate as to have hot meals brought to us left and right.  I did my best to stock our freezer before he got here, and Wooden Nickels and AGOMYR, along with some other friends and family, have been the ones who have made sure we’re eating a square meal each night.


But I, of course, couldn’t stay out of the kitchen for too long, and so I got back to baking right away.  I get completely famished in the middle of the night, and often find myself wandering downstairs to see what I can grab off the counter.  When the baked goods from our neighbors ran out, I had to take matters into my own hands.  A friend of mine had served her classic scone recipe when we visited her the other day.  She claimed they were simple, and that she’d be more than willing to share the recipe.  A quick glance revealed I had all the ingredients necessary, and so during the Gooplet’s solid nap of the day, I pulled these off.  I forgot how much I love a good scone.  Fresh from the oven, all flaky and puffed up?  There’s nothing better.  And when they come together in about 15 minutes, and bake off in 7, I think it’s safe to say these are going to become staples around here.


To make Caroline’s scones/Naptime Scones, you will need:

  • 1 3/4 C flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C shortening
  • 1/2 C buttermilk


  • 1/2 C blueberries or cinnamon chips (I had neither and used toffee chips)
  • turbinado sugar for coating the scones before baking (I didn’t have any, but they are amazing with it)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter, or two forks, until the shortening is the size of rice kernels.  Add blueberries or chips, if using.  Stir in buttermilk with a spatula, and mix till all ingredients are just incorporated.

Turn out two balls of dough on a flat surface, and pat each into rough circles, about 1.5 inches thick.  Cut circles into eighths, and place triangles of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  If using sugar, roll each triangle in sugar.  Bake 7-8 minutes.

On Kitchen Memories [cake mix funfetti cookies]

First, and most important, Happy Birthday Sous Chef Lauren!  You’re my favorite.

Second, my girl Raluca recently posted about muffins she made on a Sunday morning.  They didn’t turn out exactly the way she’d envisioned, and then she realized that didn’t matter at all.  Sometimes it’s more about making memories in the kitchen than it is about what comes out of the oven.


And thus, I give you cake mix funfetti cookies.  They are not homemade, a la these, which I love, and have dough for in the fridge right now.  They come from a box of white cake mix, which is something I always have in the pantry.  They take just a few minutes to make, and serve as a great way to use up those seasonal M&Ms you buy on clearance the day after the holiday.  That can’t be just me.

To make 2 dozen cookies, you will need:

  • 1 Box of White Cake Mix
  • 1/3 Cup Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tbs Sprinkles
  • 1/2 Cup M&Ms

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the cake mix, oil, eggs, and sprinkles together with a spatula until combined.  Form balls of dough with about a Tablespoon of batter.  Use the bottom of a glass to flatten them onto baking sheets.  Press 3 M&Ms into the top of each cookie.  Bake 8-9 minutes.

I Think You Can in Europe [French Country Chicken, or Christ House Swiss Chicken]

If you don’t remember the reference, see above.

I’ve been putting my WASP cooking skills to the test lately.  You see, organic chicken was on sale at the grocery store, so I bought multiple pounds of the stuff, threw most of it in the freezer, and have been working my way through it ever since.  One of the best things you can do with chicken is throw it in a casserole.  If that casserole involves a can of cream of anything soup, all the better.  I’ve rarely met a chicken casserole I didn’t like.  See previous iterations here and here.


This particular casserole came to me via two sources.  The first was via a longtime family friend who gifted it to me as a bridal shower gift.  The second was through one of the WASPiest cookbooks I own (the same one mentioned in that second casserole link above).

But here’s the thing.  The recipe from the family friend calls this French Country chicken casserole.  The other calls is Christ House Swiss chicken.  Google got me nowhere in terms of the “Christ House” thing.  I’m sure the Swiss is from the cheese, though.  But bottom line, here is a recipe for the easiest, most decidedly non-European, but European-sounding chicken casserole you’ll ever have.

To make 6 servings, you will need:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 6 slices Swiss cheese
  • 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 T white wine (you could sub in milk if you had to)
  • 2 C herb-seasoned stuffing mix
  • 1/4 C butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange chicken breast halves in a greased casserole dish. Top each with a slice of cheese.  Mix sauce ingredients will and spoon over chicken.  Top with stuffing, and drizzle with butter.  Cover with foil and bake 50 minutes.

(This is great frozen as well.  Cook all the way through, cover tightly, and freeze till you need dinner.   I usually get a giant pack of 24 cheese slices and make 4 casseroles.)

Chicken Ina Would Never Make [parmesan ranch chicken]

Possibly my favorite 30 Rock clip of all time ever.

I’m totally kidding.

Oprah was on 30 Rock, and THAT is my favorite clip ever.

But the Ina clip is a close second.

It’s a well-known fact that Ina makes roast chicken for Jeffrey every Friday night.  She calls her recipe engagement chicken because it’s supposed to be so good, it will make your boyfriend propose to you.  I believe her.  Magic happens when you’re Ina.

Ina is the most supremely classy woman I’ve ever seen.  She’s effortless.

I am most supremely not.  I would love nothing more than for you to think I blink and a gourmet meal appears on my table every evening, but that’s just not a reality on busy weeknights.  Which brings us to Parmesan Ranch Chicken.  Or, chicken that Ina would never make.  It is simple and easy, but it’s not fancy.  It’s quick and dirty.  But it’s good.  And buttery.

parmesan ranch chicken.

And if you have never made this chicken, then let me tell you that yes, you do need another recipe for breaded chicken in your arsenal.  Two bites into this and my husband was begging me to make it once a week.

To make chicken for four, you will need:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or chicken tenders
  • 3/4 C crushed tortilla chips (or ritz crackers)
  • 3/4 C parmesan
  • 1 package Ranch dressing mix
  • 6 T butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix chips, cheese, and Ranch dressing mix in a medium bowl.  Dip each piece of chicken in melted butter, and roll in chips and cheese mixture to coat.  Place in a baking dish in a single layer.  If you have any extra crumb coating, sprinkle it on top of the chicken.  Extra butter?  Pour it on top of the dish.  Bake 45 minutes, until everything is golden brown.

Cooking without a Recipe {pasta with tomatoes and corn}

Found this waiting in my drafts folder, because I never typed up a little blurb to go with it.  I made this without a recipe.  It was a dream.  Make it fast before summer escapes.  And cook more without using recipes.  I always wish I did.

pasta with corn and tomatoes.

To make pasta for 6 (or a hungry 4), you will need:

  • a pound your favorite spaghetti-esque pasta strands (ours is a local brand of either fettuccine, which we used here, or tagliatelle)
  • kernels from 3 ears of corn (raw is fine, cooked is too)
  • a whole bunch (pint?) of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (I used about half a point of two types)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Parmesan cheese

Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil.  While you’re waiting for that to happen, make the sauce.  Heat olive oil in large skillet.  I used almost enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  When oil is hot, add garlic and saute for 2 minutes, until fragrant, but not brown.  Add tomatoes, and give things a stir.  Let tomatoes cook until their skins start falling apart and the smell is so good you can’t believe your luck.  When they’re looking good and bright, add corn kernels and stir things around for another minute or two, and remove from heat.  Hopefully by this point, your water is boiling.  Since I used fresh pasta, it takes 2 minutes to cook.  Rather than drain it when it’s done, I used tongs to transfer the pasta to the skillet with the sauce.  The reason for this is that I didn’t want to give up the pasta water.  As I used the tongs to turn the strands of pasta with the corn and tomatoes, the mixture, despite all that olive oil, became a bit dry.  And I had that whole big pot of pasta water left!  Did you know there’s a whole bunch of flavor in there?  I dipped a glass measuring cup in the pot and came up with about a half cup of pasta water.  I dumped it in with the sauce, and kept tossing.  I ended up adding about another 1/4 C of water until the sauce was the right consistency for me.  I dumped an individual portion in a bowl, and because you know me by now, you already know that I grated a giant heap of Parmesan on top.

Valentine’s Day Plans [cherry chocolate granola]

Dear readers, it’s summer break ’round these parts, and that means I’m not tied to my computer like I often am in the colder months.  I’ve been digging deep in the archives to find  some recipes worth sharing again.  These all aired in the blog’s earlier days, but I’m pretty sure the only people who were there to see them go live were CV(D), Wooden Nickels, and Cari Faye.  They are my tried and true staples, and they’ll run for a few weeks while I enjoy the good life.  I’ll check back in with you later this summer dear readers.



What are you up to on Valentine’s Day, dear readers? Do you make a big deal out of the day and get together with your loved ones?  Or do you hide under a blanket with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s?

Valentine’s Day and I have a love/hate relationship.  There are years when it goes unexpectedly well and I concede that maybe it’s not so bad.

And there are others where it seems everyone is making plans to outdo everyone else and I’d rather just put my pajamas on and call it a night.

So far, this is shaping up to be one of the better years.

For one, I helped stage a flower sale/fundraiser at work, and delivered over 700 flowers to some unsuspecting folk.

And for another, there are lots of little ways this particular day will be special.  Starting with breakfast.

Annie posted a recipe for Cherry Chocolate Coconut Granola on her site earlier this year, and I was drawn to it right away.  It was almost identical to a granola I built for myself one morning at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago.  The only major difference I spotted was that Annie’s had chocolate (the minor was that I used cranberries instead of cherries).  So basically, she made things ten times better.  And a million times better than the bowl of Cheerios we were planning to eat.  Even if they were honey nut.

I inhaled a big bowl of this for breakfast this morning, and it was like eating a chocolate chip cookie.  A chocolate chip cookie that tastes like a chocolate chip cookie, but doesn’t have butter, eggs, or added sugar.  And how better to start a day that’s practically dedicated to chocolate, than with a couple of morsels tucked into your first bites?

The best part of this whole granola-making endeavor is that one crunch into my cereal and I realized I never need to purchase the overpriced granola from Whole Foods that I love so much ever again.  The homemade stuff is ten times better, and cheaper, when it comes from your own oven.  Throw on your Birkenstocks and embrace it.  You know you love granola, too.

To make 7 C Cranberry Chocolate Coconut Granola, you will need:

  • 1 C shredded coconut (sweetened, or not)
  • 1/3 C walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 C almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 3 C old fashioned oats
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 C dried cranberries
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I had mini chunks so I used those)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a skillet, toast coconut over medium heat, stirring often, until light brown.  Transfer to small bowl, and set aside.  Wipe out skillet and add nuts, toasting 3 minutes, until lightly browned.  Add oats and oil and toast, stirring until oats are toasted, about another 3 minutes.

Pour oat mixture into large bowl and toss with cinnamon, salt, and honey, till combined.  Pour mixture onto baking sheet, pressing till you have an even layer.  Bake, stirring every few minutes (I forgot this part!), for 15 minutes.  Remove baking sheet, toss in coconut and cranberries, stir and move granola to one side of baking sheet.  Using spatula, press granola into flat slab.  Let cool to room temperature.

When cool, break granola into pieces.  Add chocolate bits and serve or store.

P.S.  How great would this be if you’re having people over for brunch?  Just add eggs and mimosas.

*Original post here.

Exciting Stuff! [prosciutto and fontina panini with arugula pesto and pickled shallots]

Dear readers, it’s summer break ’round these parts, and that means I’m not tied to my computer like I often am in the colder months.  I’ve been digging deep in the archives to find  some recipes worth sharing again.  These all aired in the blog’s earlier days, but I’m pretty sure the only people who were there to see them go live were CV(D), Wooden Nickels, and Cari Faye.  They are my tried and true staples, and they’ll run for a few weeks while I enjoy the good life.  I’ll check back in with you later this summer dear readers.



Things in my life that I am currently excited about:

1.  New seasons of Top Chef Masters and Glee!  My Tivo is ready to go.

2.  The impending end of grad school.  Finals coming up and one more summer class before I’m finished with school forever!

3.  Wedding season.  Lots of new invites and save the dates gracing our fridge this week.

4.  This sandwich.

I have never been a sandwich person.  There were about 8,000 sandwich shops within a mile radius when I was in college, but I never found one I couldn’t live without.  I’m from Philadelphia, you know.  We handle sandwiches a little differently.

So it surprised me when I flagged Big Girls, Small Kitchen’s Prosciutto and Fontina Panini with Arugula Pesto and Pickled Shallots (that’s a mouthful).  I learned about the Quarter Life Cooks the same way you all probably did, by watching Phoebe on The Barefoot Contessa.  But that’s not where their fame and glory end.  This particular sandwich was featured on Food52, the brainchild of food writer Amanda Hesser.

Let me tell you why this sandwich was featured.  Because it made me a sandwich person.  You get a little bit of everything in each bite, and though this contains a lot of ingredients, each stands on its own and speaks for itself.  We’ll begin with the arugula pesto.  Milder than basil, it makes a fresh, perfect spread on a good loaf of ciabatta.  Next would be the shallots.  What a nice complement to the flavors of sandwich, and not a bad crunch either.  Combine that with prosciutto and dreamy, creamy Fontina cheese and it all just works.  The perfect dinner for those 90 degree April nights that I can’t escape from.

Their recipe makes enough to use the whole loaf of ciabatta.  How many it will feed depends on how hungry your friends are.

Prosciutto and Fontina Panini with Arugula Pesto and Pickled Shallots

*adapted from Big Girls, Small Kitchen

  • 1/4 C toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 C arugula
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 C evoo
  • 1/4 C parmesan cheese
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 lb prosciutto (about 10 slices)
  • 1/3 lb fontina cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 loaf ciabatta, sliced lengthwise

To make the pesto, pulse the pine nuts, garlic, arugula, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor until combined.  Stream evoo in the feed tube until the pesto is the consistency you like.  Stir in the parmesan.

Saute the shallot slices in the butter until they get brown and a little crispy.  Proceed to think twice about ever buying French’s fried onions again.

Spread the pesto over the cut sides of the bread.  Layer the bottom with cheese and prosciutto and the top with the shallots.

Smush the sandwiches into a panini press.  Don’t have one?   Grill them.  You could even cook this like a grilled cheese in a skillet and top it with a heavy skillet or Dutch Oven to weight it down.  You have options.  Don’t wait to make this one.

Slice the sandwich with a serrated knife.

Original post here.

Summer Lunch [couscous with chicken and grapes]

Dear readers, it’s summer break ’round these parts, and that means I’m not tied to my computer like I often am in the colder months.  I’ve been digging deep in the archives to find  some recipes worth sharing again.  These all aired in the blog’s earlier days, but I’m pretty sure the only people who were there to see them go live were CV(D), Wooden Nickels, and Cari Faye.  They are my tried and true staples, and they’ll run for a few weeks while I enjoy the good life.  I’ll check back in with you later this summer dear readers.



Lunch is an oft-neglected meal, isn’t it?  People are always busy during the day, so they either go out or eat a sandwich they slapped together in the morning.  But folks, it doesn’t have to be that way, and summer is the perfect time to start thinking about your lunch options.

Like pasta/rice/grainy salads.  They’re a big time summer thing for me and I have a couple of favorites.  This is the first.  It’s a blend of couscous, chicken, grapes and scallions (oh, and toasted almonds, which I forgot to add this time around) mixed with a mustard vinaigrette.  Sounds like a truly strange combination doesn’t it?  I found the recipe somewhere and made it on a whim one day.  I wasn’t expecting much, and was so pleasantly surprised to taste the results.  It’s a great mix of flavors and textures, and it really is the perfect weekday lunch.  I don’t think it has a name.  Maybe couscous with chicken and grapes?  Weak.  Any better ideas?  No matter what you call them, start playing around with lunchtime salads.  I make mine over the weekend and enjoy them for lunch all week long.

You need:

  • 2 C chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 2 C couscous
  • 1 T olive oil or butter
  • 1 – 1 1/2 C chopped chicken
  • 4 scallions, diced (green and white parts)
  • 1 C grapes, halved
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C toasted almonds
  • 3 T mustard (I use Grey Poupon)
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Cook the couscous by boiling the chicken broth and T of olive oil or butter.  Remove from heat, pour in the couscous, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

*Time Out*  When I’m by myself, I often stop here, grate in 8 million pounds of Parmesan cheese and eat just plain couscous for lunch.  It’s fabulous, and oh-so buttery with all that cheese.  *Time In*

Fluff with a fork and spoon into a large bowl.  I always do this over the sink as couscous is small and tends to stray.  Add the chicken, scallions, grapes and almonds.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Pour over the couscous and toss to coat.  You can do this in advance and let the dressing really sink in.  The flavors will start to come together and the dish only gets better with a day in the fridge.

Original post here