Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tortilla soup

Don't get me wrong. Chicken soup is a must in any momma's recipe repertoire. But sometimes, you need to spice things up.

And I must say my Chicken Tortilla Soup really hits the spot. Especially on those chilly willy nights. Since it's been forever a day since my last moment of blogginess, I will get to the recipe straight away:

Chicken Tortilla Soup
About 6 servings

2 chicken breasts with bone and skin on
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
2-3 cups water
1 cup frozen corn
Olive oil

To serve:
Shredded cheddar jack cheese
scallions, chopped
sour cream
Tortilla chips

On a sturdy baking sheet, line up the chicken. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in a 350-degree oven. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, shred or dice the meat.

Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add jalapeno, onion and garlic. Add cumin and chili powder. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Add broth, water and chopped tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add cilantro, chicken and corn. Cook until heated through

To serve, break up your fave tortilla chips onto a piping hot bowl of soup. Top with cheese, scallions and sour cream. Avocado would rock too, but the Jersey Girl can not groove on that due to annoying food allergies.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Labor of Love

Cleaning the house. Folding the laundry. Crossing off the to-do's on that never-ending to-do list. So what's a girl got time for:

Peeling tomatoes in 20 easy steps, obvi!

OK. Just hold your horses. It doesn't REALLY require 20 takes to get a delicious fresh tomato saucy outcome, but  getting down and dirty with a few pounds of plum tomatoes, a pot of bowling water and another pot of ice cold ice water could seem a bit tedious to those of us feeling crunched on a spare moment.

I so meant to post this post back in August, when all of you do-gooder home-gardening types were harvesting your bushels of tomatoes. There ain't a green thumb to be found in this house. Piano thumbs and shopping thumbs are all I gots.

But, I do know how to make a totally delish fresh tomato sauce. So I'm providing you with my process complete with pics and instructions. Yay, me! One of these days I will be seasonally correct. But you can totally use this with the imported plum  tomatoes that are lingering in your grocery right about now. And stash this for the summer when the fresh tomatoes are at their peak.

I used this sauce to make my Chicken Parm with Fresh Tomato Sauce. SO much tastier than reg chicken parm, for sure!

So here's the dilly-o: To peel a tomato skin off a tomato, you need to cut out the core, score an X on the side opposite the core, plunge that sucker into boiling hot water, wait around for 2 to 3 minutes, scoop out the hot tomatoes into a bowl of ice ice baby ice water, swirl it around, peel off the skin, chop.

You got that?

Is it a pain in the bootie? Well, maybe. But I'm the type who clears my mind in the cucina, so tomato peelin' is all good in my hood. In addition to my tutorial, I will provide you my totally awesome fresh tomato sauce recipe and how to roll it all together in a chicken parm that is SO much better than that slop you pick up at your go-to takeout joint. I swear on my life, my glass of wine and the good ole' Bible, that I will repost this in July when the Jersey tomatoes are large and in charge.

Getting ready to take care of business. 
Here's how to peel plum tomatoes:

Step one: With a paring knife, cut out the core on the end of the tomato. 
On the opposite end, cut a small X. (See above)

In batches, plunge about five or six prepared tomatoes into a large pot of boiling water. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until skin becomes loose.

Using a spider ladle or a slotted spoon transfer cooked tomatoes to a large bowl of ice water. 

Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove from ice water.

Gently peel off the skin of each tomato.

Chop until your heart's content.

Cook a fabulous sauce. My recipe is below!

Fresh Tomato Sauce

2 to 3 lbs. peeled plum tomatoes (See process above)
8 fat cloves of garlic, sliced
15 to 20 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Add garlic, cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes if using. 

Add tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add fresh basil.

If cooking pasta at the same time, add a few ladles of pasta water to thin out the consistency of the sauce.

Serve over chicken or pasta.

Chicken Parm with Fresh Tomato Sauce

(Serves four comfortably)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds thin-cut chicken cutlets (6 to 8)
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs (Cento rocks!)
Olive oil
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh tomato sauce (see above)

Set up an assembly line as follows: Chicken cutlets lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, bowl of beaten eggs; plate of bread crumbs. Dip each cutlet in the eggs, then the bread crumbs. Set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat up a 2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Brown chicken cutlets for about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil. Repeat with remaining cutlets.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the cutlets are cool enough to handle, transfer to a clean baking sheet. Top each browned cutlet with a handful of shredded mozzarella. Top with a couple of spoonfuls of sauce.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melty and delicious. Serve with your fave pasta and more sauce!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dippy Trippy

Summer is the time to rock it out in a bikini on the beach, but truth be told, the Jersey Girl doesn't always feel so svelte come August. There are many reasons for this perception of unhealthiness: Copious amounts of wine being consumed; parties, parties and more parties; lazy days spent lounging around (ha ha ha ha); and really, the chips and the dips. Oh, the chips and the dips.

So, I'm bringing you a fab dip starring feta and lemon that requires no mayo and no sour cream. Yay and yay! In addition, as agreed upon by The Jersey Girl and her trusty sisters and brothers-in-law, the dip is the perfect match for your fave vegetables in stick-and-dip form as opposed to salty, fatty chips. Super yay! Now that second bottle of wine doesn't seem THAT bad.

This is one of my Pinterest finds. Hopefully, on one of my late nights perusing the Interwebs, I will figure out how to rock a Pinterest button onto my posts. A technological mastermind, I am not.

The Lemon Feta Dip was snagged from the blog called One Ordinary Day. You should totally check it out!

And just for some awesome visuals, I will give you a glimpse or two of my Big Boy Evan. He is so no longer a baby. Eep! I can't believe summer is almost finito!

Now, this is a crudite platter that will totally get devoured! Holla.

(from Sweet Paul)
8oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil+ extra for serving
fresh thyme
Place feta, lemon zest and juice, garlic and olive oil in a blender and blend until smooth.
Spoon into a bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with thyme.
Serve with grilled tomatoes and grilled pita bread drizzled with olive oil, salt and thyme.
Please note: The Jersey Girl served the dip with fresh vegetables including broccoli florets,  red bell peppers, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes and celery sticks.

Here's my happy, healthy Evan. Love him!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What's for Dinner?

I don't know about you, but in my day as a kiddo, weeknight dinner cooked courtesy of my Ma was always on the table. There was often a predictable weekly rotation - steak, clams and spaghetti, stir fry, taco night (yay!), roast beast, roast chicken, stuffed flounder, Shake and Bake (hee), etc.

Salad was always part of the mix. To this day, if some leafy greens aren't part of the dinner being served before moi, I'm like, "What, what, what just happened?" Fortunately, I'm pretty much the fool serving the dinner before me, so a lovely salad is often part of my day-to-day along with copious amounts of wine. Serenity now!

Here, dear, lovely readers is my most fave salad of the moment: Arugula and celery salad. Two completely boring ingredients on their own, but together - Sha-zam!

Totally fab.

I toss my arugula and celery with the best olive oil I have hanging around my cupboard. A little salt and peppa, topped off with small gems of Prima Donna cheese. If you're not familiar with Prima Donna, it is a hard gouda that is smooth and rich. It works beautifully with the peppery taste of arugula and the crunch of celery. I always have Prima Donna on hand, thanks to my local market Bagliani's, but you can order it online here at DiBruno Bros., which is another place of awesomeness, but since I am a glamorous working mother of a 2-year-old who spends her free time scrubbing bathrooms and making feeble attempts to maintain order in my perpetually disorderly home, I do not jaunt on over to Philly as much as I did in my carefree pre-momma days.

C'est la vie.

Anyway, here is a salad I do think my Mom would totally dig. I will have to make it for her the next time we dine together.

Susan's Arugula and Celery Salad
3 servings

3 to 4 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
2 stalks of celery, chopped into moons
20-25 small flecks of Prima Donna cheese
Salt and pepper
3-4 Tbsp. really really good extra virgin olive oil

In a salad bowl, toss argula and celery with salt, pepper and olive oil. Top with cheese. Serve!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Are You Kidding Me?

I watch my trash TV alone, uninterrupted with an air of indifference, an unflinching focus and a HUGE chunk of cynicism.

And a bottle of red and a plate of snacky poofs or a delicious cookie. As if you needed to ask?!?!

So that is why I was gleeful, stunned and a bit giddy when a recipe I rocked out from a cookbook by Teresa Giudice of Jersey Housewives fame was wonderfully tasty.

Yous guys. Seriously.

It was astoundingly fantastic. Or, if we're speaking in Jersey speak: It was freaking awwwwwe-some.

And, here I thought all Teresa was good for was botching the English language, gussying herself up in a totally tacky Jers wardrobe and holding lifelong grudges over sprinkle cookies.

I guess the awesomeness of her recipes should not be surprising. Because cattiness and jealousy aside, it seems that the broads on the Jersey sector of the Real Housewives franchise know a thing or 1,000 about the ways around the kitchen. If I had to dine in with any of these Bravo be-yotches, it would be with the Jersey girls. And of course if I was headed out on the town, dahling, it would be with the Bev Hills snobby snobs in a schi-schi restaurant or better yet, Lisa Vanderpump's closet, preferably with a view of the shoes, jewels and bags. (My name is Susan and I am an accessories whore ... and I need to read a good book. And maybe trash TV should be my sacrifice next year at Lent....Yeah, ok.)

Anyways, Teresa's Zucchini Spaghetti Salad from her Skinny Italian cookbook is a wonderful starter or side dish. It really lets the zucchini shine. So make this when the zucchs are in season, which is now, now, now in my lovely Garden State. Yay! It is light and refreshing and packed with flavor, all good things you should look for in a salad. Basically, you take an ordinary carrot peeler and peel the zucchini into thin strips. Don't go into the seedy part, because that will make the salad turn to mush. About a half hour before serving, toss with the lemon vinaigrette. As the strips marinate, they become wiggly and twirly like spaghetti glistening in the lemon juicy goodness. Love it! This would be great to serve on a night you're grilling since it involves zero cooking time.

And since this is my blog, I will now take a moment to boast: My 2-and-a-half-year-old son asked for MORE ZUCCHINI three times during dinner. In the words of Teresa, "Are you freakin' kidding me?"

More Ipad.

More Thomas.

More Apple Jacks.

These requests make sense to moi. But on this glorious night at din din, he ate zucchini, tilapia AND basmati rice.

"OK. Now, you're REALLY bragging," my sister Monica informed me via phone call after lamenting about her sons' current meal plan of McDonald's and pizza. (She's moving back to Hammonton in two days, so her cupboard is bare, people!!!!)

If it's any consolation, Monica, the odds are 90-10 that your No. 1 nephew won't want to touch any of the above-mentioned good eats the next time they are served. And, I'm pretty sure at our next family din he'll want to tap into my emergency stash of disgusting Perdue chicken nuggets, because he did declare last week: "Mommy. I love them... with ketchup. Ketchup. To dip. Yummy."


Zucchini "Spaghetti" Salad
From "Skinny Italian"
By Teresa Giudice

3 large zucchini (about 1 1/3 pounds) scrubbed well, ends trimmed
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Using a mandoline, plastic V-slicer or spiral slicer, cut the zucchini into long, thin julienne strips. Do not use the seedy center of the zucchini as it can be too soft and will ruin the look and texture of the strips.

Whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the zucchini and basil and toss well. Let stand at room temperature for a few minutes so the zucchini can soak up the dressing and soften slightly.

Using a fork with long tines, twirl each portion of zucchini onto the fork so it looks like a little bird's nest and transfer to a plate.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sticks Stack Up

Stick-form vegetables dipped in egg and coated in bread crumb and cheese?

Why yes, your little one will eat these delishly awesome zucchini fingers.

Or maybe he'll throw them dart-style at your ruffled brow. Or sneak them to the dog.

But give them a whirl all of  you fabulous mommas and poppas out there. What do you have to lose besides patience, self respect and the will to have a calm and peaceful dinner?

I've realized when feeding my 2-year-old King of the Castle that what he was loving yesterday during Bubble Guppies is not what he may be feeling tomorrow during that never-ending Thomas and Friends marathon.

At least it's not Dora, people. That screech-mouth is on the banned-TV list in this house. I need to maintain my sanity during non-wine-drinking hours.

The recipe for Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks comes from a really dope cooking blog called Closet Cooking.  This is the type of blog I run in my dreams - the ones uninterrupted by insomnia, a screaming toddler, a snoring husband and a really weak bladder.

I rocked out my zucchini sticks when The Husband was away on work or at work, which let's be honest - same thing. I had made a fab pot of marinara with some gorgeous basil, so I thought let's give these zucchini fingers a go during nap time.  They use panko bread crumbs. If you don't have them in your pantry, snap to it momma, and get some!! This is a great dish to serve as an appie, especially if there are vegetarians roaming around your world. I set them up and then baked them about an hour later

Evan ate three sticks. He actually requested more after his first one. Yay! He was probably hypnotized by my marinara. Or the whole dipping aspect of it all.

Whatevs. What do I care? He ate it.

For my marinara recipe, click here.

And for the zucchini sticks, please see below:

Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks
From Closet Cooking
By Kevin Lynch

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 pound zucchini, sliced into sticks and patted dry
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • Mix the bread crumbs, parmigiano reggiano and oregano in a bowl.

  • Season the zucchini with salt and pepper.

  • Dip the zucchini in the egg and then dredge in the bread crumb mixture.

  • Place the zucchini on a baking sheet in a single layer with the skin side down.

  • Bake in a preheated 425F oven until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pining Over Pins

Pinterest boggles my brain.

As if a small business owner/devoted wifey/domestic goddess/mom of toddler needs even MORE distraction in her life. I mean, prioritizing is of utmost importance when dealing with my diversions: Mad Men and Real Housewives take the top spots, natch. (All class, The Jersey Girl is. ALL CLASS.)

At first, I didn't quite get it, this Pinterest craze. Honestly, I still really don't. The bazillions of images are pretty and fabulous and boy, a girl sure can dream. Each pin leads you to more pins, delusions and hopeless unrealities. From remodeling to organizing to styling an outfit to buying more and more and more. It never ends.

But, ask yourself, fellow Pinners out there: Are you REALLY going to rock that dress like Jessica Alba in the 10 stalkerish images you posted on your Celebrity Style board? Are 50 different ways to DIY glitter nails really going to make or break you? And will your kitchen cupboards ever be THAT organized or that big or that awesome?

I think we all know the answer here, and yet, I probably pinned 20 different pins in the past 20 minutes just because. Admit it. Pinterest is insanely addictive and more often than not a massive waste of time. And that is that. I love it.

Recipe hoarders really fascinate me. Because honestly, when I'm piddling away my few and far between spare moments on Pinterest I wonder how in the world do people have the hours in their week to cook all of these recipes and make all of these crafts. Where have I gone wrong in time management?

 The Jersey Girl is crafty in manners of slyness, but not in terms of actually making objects out of twine and yarn and such. Drinking a bottle of wine is WAY more relaxing.

But I digress, dear readers. I'm about to give myself MAJOR props, because I did it! I made a Pinterest recipe with my own two hands. Yay!! I wasn't just wasting away my 2-year-old's nap time on the Internets by pinning meaningless pins, ie - inspirational quotes said by famous dead people in pretty fonts and 30 variations of opera-length pearl necklaces. No, no. I DID so much more.

Funnily, the recipe I made isn't the most food-pornish in terms of looks, but in tastiness, it is making the magic happen: Cilantro Lime Dressing from This dressing was fabulous in so many ways. The brightness of the cilantro, the tang of the yogurt and garlic, the punchiness of lime juice and vinegar combine for a close-to-perfect dressing for any Mexican-inspired meal.

That night, we gave fish tacos a whirl. Evan ate three bites! Yay. We did jazz up the tacos, which featured grilled tilapia, with the dressing, but I thought the salad I made really shined. I combined quartered medium-sized tomatoes, red onion and queso fresco - a whole milk Mexican cheese, and then topped it all with a couple tablespoons of the cilantro lime dressing. The recipe below makes a huge portion. It will last you for a few recipes. In addition to fish tacos and salads, I think the dressing would taste fabulous over chicken and shrimp.

Cilantro Lime Dressing worked great over 
quartered tomatoes, red onion and queso fresco.

Cilantro Lime Dressing

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Chobani 0% plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tsp. sea salt

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Continue to add olive oil 1 Tbsp. at a time as necessary to create a smooth finish.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Summer Summer Summertime

If you want your peeps to bow down at your feet and cascade you with accolades, then this dish, dear lovely, patient readers is for you:

S'mores Bars.

Oh my goodness gracious. Even those crazies in your circle who claim they don't do sweets, will devour more than one of these chocolately marshmallowy graham-crackery delights while you roll your eyes and cackle in your best evil-cartoon-villain/domestic goddess Bwahhhhhhhhh.

Wait. You don't laugh at people who scoff at dessert? Oh well. My bad. I mean really, life is too short to skip dessert and to  not buy those fabulous shoes, so for the love of God, do both. Right?!?!

Not to be Braggy McBraggerson, but The Jersey Girl's family quite digs the S'mores Bars and in my attempt to be a responsible, timely blogger (ha ha ha ha), I am providing this recipe to you well before the official kickoff of summer, since word on the street is that the for reals S'mores snackypoof is supposed to be made by fireside while camping under late-night summer skies. Eek. Camping: Sleeping bags, canteens, bugs, flashlights. The horror...

Fortunately, this dessert can be made under your broiler in the comforts of your air-conditioned home. Leave the campfire for those outdoor aficionado loons.

I recommend letting the bars cool for a good hour. That way they firm up perfectly before cutting. The longer you wait to cut into them, the better.

My last batch was fan-freaking-tastic. I do think these are THE perfect dessert. My niece Sophia concurs.

S'mores Bars

22 whole graham crackers
8 cups miniature marshmallows, divided
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided
5 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat broiler. Butter 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Break graham crackers into small pieces. Combine graham cracker pieces, 4 cups marshmallows and 1/2 cup morsels in large bowl.

Heat remaining marshmallows, remaining morsels, butter and corn syrup in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Pour over graham cracker mixture; toss well to coat. Firmly press mixture into prepared pan.

Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until marshmallows are golden. Cut into bars.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Forget Me Not

Wowzas. The Jersey Girl is shocked, SHOCKED I say, that the following recipe has been omitted from my precious blog. Yes. There is no one to blame but myself, so please allow me to share with you the easy tastiness that is Broiled Salmon with Garlic, Mustard and Herbs.

We must not waste anytime and get straight to business.

In my efforts to help you plan your cooking plan, may I recommend making the mustard sauce well ahead of time so that when you want to cook the fish, the sauce is all ready and good to go. My fave!

I've made this recipe a bazillion times. You can totally swap out the fresh herbs for dried if you forgot to pick up the rosemary and thyme or if your market was out of the herbs that day. You know this happens to you. And there is no need to fret, dear readers. Just bust out the dried stuff. Use about 1/2 a teaspoon for each dried herb.

All ingredients are always on hand in my house - mustard, white wine, olive oil, garlic. You just need to get the fish and herbs that day.

I like to serve the salmon with basmati rice and a veg like asparagus or a rockin' baby spinach salad.

Broiled Salmon with Garlic Mustard and Herbs
From "Giada's Family Dinners"
By Giada De Laurentiis

2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
3/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. dry white wine
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Non-stick olive oil cooking spray
6 (6- to 8-ounce) salmon fillets
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 lemon wedges

In a small bowl, mix the garlic, both mustards, rosemary and thyme. Mix in the wine and oil. Set the mustard sauce aside.

Preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with the non-stick spray. Arrange the salmon fillets on the baking sheet and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Broil for 2 minutes. Spoon the mustard sauce over the fillets. Continue broiling until the fillets are just cooked through and gold brown, about 5 minutes longer.

Transfer the fillets to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Chicken Scorned

He loves me; he loves me not.

That's the storyline of my chicken pot pie. 

Because, check it: If I wrote about this when I first busted out some chickie pot pies in January, I would be boastful Mom all smug and braggy like, "My Evan absolutely ADORED my chicken pot pie. He scarfed down the carrots, peas and corn wrapped in a velvety sauce with juicy chicken enveloped in flaky golden crust like nobody's bizness. He asked for seconds when coming up for air. He requested the left-overs the next day in between lining up his Matchbox cars and zoning out to "Jake and the Neverland Pirates." Ha ha, suckers. You all say toddlers don't eat, but you got it so wrong, playa."

And then: There was February.

That's when I made my second batch of chicken pot pies to document for my blog peeps. 

And how you say: My kid was so not feeling the chicken pot pie.

Well, he ate some crust. After I convinced him it was a cracker.

Enter frazzled annoyed you've-got-to-be-kidding-me Mom. Yep. That's more like it.

Rationalizing with toddlers is a fool's game. And we've all played it one too many times. So dinner that night was a Nutri-Grain bar and a handful of Cheerios. What do you want from my life, kid? Seriously.

At least The Husband ate the chicken pot pie. Because if these two male specimens who are lucky enough to live under my roof both dissed my food, there would be hell to pay. I'm talking about marathons of Beverly Hills Housewives and copious amounts of wine drinking and hours of shoe and J. Crew shopping ... oh wait.

So, you may notice when reading the recipe that it actually calls for turkey, hence the recipe name: Turkey and Pancetta Pot Pies. But The Jersey Girl did not have any turkey lying around the house, so I roasted up some chickens Barefoot Contessa style. Honestly, I recommend following these instructions whenever cooking up a dish that calls for already cooked chicken. It is SO much better than poaching. Ick nast. My other observance of note is that the recipe actually filled four ramekins for moi. I simply cut a rolled out store-bought pie crust into four equal parts to cover my ramekins.

This pot pie is delishly awesome. And, I do firmly believe that the little kiddos will love all of its golden wholesomeness. Carrots, peas, corn and pie. These beauties are just screaming Norman Rockwell. I will definitely try enticing my wee little one again with this dish. My chicken pot pie will not stand for rejection. Even from a cutie patootie with adorable dimples.

Have at it, my lovely Domestic Gods and Goddesses:

First up, how to roast some chicken Barefoot Contessa Style. You gots to do it this way!

Roast Chicken Breasts the Barefoot Contessa Way (Demonstrated in pretty much all of her cookbooks)

2-3 chicken breasts (skin on with bones)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

On a sturdy baking sheet, line up the chicken. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in a 350-degree oven. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, shred or dice the meat. Toss the bones and skin. Voila. Cooked chicken for your soups, stews and whatnots.

Turkey and Pancetta Pot Pies
"Weeknights with Giada"
By Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 6 according to Giada; 4 according to The Jersey Girl

2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 ounces finely diced pancetta (about 1 cup)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 cups (about 14 ounces) 1/2-inch cubed roasted turkey breast meat
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 (9-inch diameter) unroll-and-bake pie crust
1 egg, beaten

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy, about 8 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate and discard any fat left in the pan.

Add the butter, shallots, carrots and thyme to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high. Add the chicken broth and scrape up the browned bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Add the cooked pancetta, the heavy cream, turkey, peas and corn and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 3 minutes, until heated through.

Using a ladle, fill 6 (10-ounce) ramekins, each 2 1/2 inches tall and 3 1/2 inches in diameter, with the filling mixture.

Using a 3-inch-round cookie cutter or glass, cut the crust into 6 circles and place one on each ramekin on top of the filling. Using a pastry brush, brush the crusts with the beaten egg.

Please note: The Jersey Girl cut the rolled out pie dough into four equal parts with kitchen shears.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the crusts are golden and the filling is bubbling (if the crusts become too dark, cover the pies loosely with aluminum foil). Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Pop of Color

Oh my God, yous guys.

Time keeps on slippin', slippin' into my future. And well, I never blog. For reals, the blog is always on my brain but there just are not enough hours in my day. I know, I know. One doesn't REALLY need to be up watching Downton Abbey in marathon form until 1:30 a.m. But at least it's intellectual and British and historical and....

Right. The weather here in Jersey SUCKS. I mean, could it BE more dreary? - said in my best Chandler Bing voice I could possibly muster at this hour all alone on my couch while the Jersey Girl fellas are sleeping soundly - that is snoringly - in their comfy cozy cribs. So in honor of all things springy, summery and just all around more joyful than the dreariness that is February, I bring to you some Key Lime Bar action. Because a burst of vivacious green is what the world needs right now, no?

In a funny twist, one of the most popular posts on my groundbreaking, revolutionary, awe-inspiring blog is my Nigella Lawson Key Lime Pie write-up. Seriously. This gem is blowing up the culinary blogosphere with millions of hits. It's like so totally viral...Not really. But when I scour my blog posts to see if anyone actually stops by here, I am quite struck by how many people really do discover moi by searching Nigella and key and lime and pie.

This Key Lime Bar recipe comes to you thanks to another culinary goddess, Martha Stewart. While lovely Martha doesn't make me all warm and fuzzy inside like my idol Nigella (who I know I will run into when The Husband takes me on our next getaway to London.  A girl can dream, right?), I must say the gal does know a thing or two about making a fab dessert.

I'm sharing  a link to the recipe here, but for all y'all who rock recipes the old school way - like in a cookbook - I highly recommend "Martha Stewart's Cookies" cookbook. It is awesome on many levels, including sharing with a snuggly toddler who wants to point out cookie shapes before saying night nights.

Some deets about the recipe: The bars are super duper low-maintenance. I always find citrusy desserts require mucho prep time due to zesting and squeezing and all that. With the Nigella key lime pie recipe, there's the whole matter of beating up egg whites until your arms fall off. So, comparatively speaking, I think Martha makes an easier go of the key lime variety dessert. And of course, if size matters to you, the bars can feed more peeps simply because there are more portions - 18 vs. 8.

And on to the matter of key limes. The Jersey Girl used your average lime, because key limes were not to be found in my market that day. Curses. I used about 5 limes, but limes are tricky suckers. Sometimes they yield only a teeny tiny bit of juice, so buy at least 8.

The recipe calls for 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs, but it gave no indication as to how many crackers I would need to grind up in the handy dandy food processor. I'm not gonna lie: This kind of annoyed me. Come on, Martha. Help a sista out. Anyway, according to Betty Crocker 21 graham cracker squares yield 1 1/2 cups of crumbs. You're welcome.

These bars are fabulous. You are viewing mine ungarnished. But you must, and I mean MUST, make the whipped cream for them. It balances the sugary sweetness of it all. I always chill a glass bowl and some beaters for a few hours before rocking out my whipped cream.

Key Lime Bars
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen

For the crust:
1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup fresh Key lime juice (about 23 key limes total)

For the garnish:
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Key limes, thinly sliced into half-moons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make crust: Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a small bowl. Press evenly onto bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Make filling: Put egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high; mix until thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add lime juice; mix until just combined.

Spread filling evenly over crust using a spatula. Bake, rotating halfway through, until filling is just set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Make garnish: Cut into 2-inch squares. Put cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Garnish bars with whipped cream and a slice of lime. Ungarnished bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Party like a Vegetarian

Throwing a soiree but need a dish for the token vegetarian in the house?

Why not give Giada's white bean dip and homemade pita chips a whirl?

I mean, really. What do you have to lose?

You know you're considering a crudite with some dip that NOBODY will eat. Girl, please.

And you can make the dip part ahead and it requires like four ingredients: cannellini, lemon juice, parsley and garlic. And some olive oil, salt and peps, natch.

Sure, you can buy a bag of pita chips, but these homemade chips are fantabulous. So worth the effort. Just toss with olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper and voila. Delish chips in a few minutes after a bake in the oven.


Now, please don't misinterpret The Jersey Girl. Carnivores and herbivores alike will devour your non-meaty dip, trust. In fact, my main squeeze The Husband, known to house a brontosaurus or two, frequently makes a kind request that I whip this dish up when we're throwing a shin-dig. It's also fantastic to make when you receive an impromptu invite to a gathering. Why is that? Because I ALWAYS have a can o' beans in the pantry.

I often serve the dip with some fresh carrots or bell peppers in addition to the pita chips. Delish.

My one piece of advice when making this is to set your timer for about 6 minutes on the pita chips. Check them, and then put them back in for a few minutes if need be. I feel like the time allotment in the recipe could possibly lead to burnt chips. 

  • White Bean Dip with Pita Chips
  • From "Everyday Italian"
  • By Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 pitas
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the
  • mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.
  • Cut each pita in half and then into 8 wedges. Arrange the pita wedges on a large baking sheet. Pour the remaining oil over the pitas. Toss and spread out the wedges evenly. Sprinkle with the oregano, salt, and pepper. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color.
Serve the pita toasts warm or at room temperature alongside the bean puree.