Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Italian Cooking for Stoonads: Aglio e Olio

Last time I made Aglio e Olio it was so outrageously delish I said to self: This should go on the blog.

Then my other self replied: Really, Susan. What jackass doesn't know how to make pasta with a bunch of oil and garlic?

My reply was something like: I never really made Aglio e Olio until adulthood. My moms never made this. Not until reading Lidia Bastianich cookbooks from cover to cover did I really understand what to do. Maybe the people will want this recipe.

Sure, I had seen this classic yet basic dish on menus at Italian restaurants forevs, but I never order pasta with garlic and oil when dining out because it defeats the purpose to me. (When I actually go to a lovely restaurant, I like to get all wild and crazy: Risotto, lamb, lobster. You feel me?)

This is as basic as it gets, I think. Of course, I could be wrong. There is something that happens at just the right moment to make a pasta dish magical. So maybe you do need some instruction on what to do.

In my opinion, the key to success with Aglio e Olio is to use a great olive oil (I love Cento); fresh fresh fresh flat leaf parsley - and a lot of it; and a good amount of the water in which your pasta cooked. And of course, high quality pasta is a must. I always use DeCecco or Barilla and sometimes fiddle around with the high falutin gourmet stuff. But really DeCecco and Barilla are my go-to brands. And cook the pasta to instruction. A timer is your friend, my friends.

Aglio e Olio Spaghettini
Serves 2

1/2 lb. spaghettini or thin spaghetti, preferably DeCecco
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling, preferably Cento
6-8 cloves minced garlic
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Pasta water
To serve: Olive oil and grated parmigiano cheese

In a large pot of salted water, cook your spaghettini to the directions on the box to al dente.

As soon as you add the pasta to the water, add 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Immediately add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook slowly over medium heat. Do not burn the garlic!!

Once the garlic and pepper are fragrant, add two ladles of boiling pasta water to the saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer.

Using a pasta ladle, transfer cooked pasta directly to the simmering garlic sauce in the pan. Toss gently so that the pasta is coated in the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute or two. Add another ladle or two of pasta water. You do not want dry pasta! Drizzle with more olive oil and top with parsley. Toss. Turn off heat. Serve with parmigiano cheese.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Popcorn Chicken is the Best

So this tidbit slightly horrifies me: Popcorn chicken was invented by KFC.

And my son lives for Popcorn Chicken.

Deep breaths, Susan.

Nothing against KFC, just the thing is The Jersey Girl does not do fast food. Oh yes, I ate my fair share b-b-b-back in the day. But I gave that shiz up for Lent in 1997 and haven't gone a day with it ever since. A great decision, I must say.

So my 6-year-old first got his hands on some popcorn chicken at school. Which is comical. Fast food. School lunch. Same thing? Argh. I hope not. My ignorance is bliss.

But he talked on and on (he tends to do that) about this mysterious Popcorn Chicken. Mommy, have you had Popcorn Chicken? Popcorn Chicken is the best. It looks like popcorn. It tastes like popcorn. Mommy, is popcorn actually in Popcorn Chicken? Mommy, we MUST make Popcorn Chicken.

So Pinterest to the rescue. Yeah, I am one of THOSE moms. I pin a good game, but do I really follow through on my 8,000-plus pinning acqusitions? Probably not.

The Baked Popcorn Chicken recipe from Tastes Better from Scratch is the bee's knees, for sure. Three out of three kiddos approved. And this is a great recipe to get your kids in the kitchen "helping" out. Banging the bejesus out of cornflakes is super fun. See below:

I served the popcorn chicken with ranch, spicy mustard and of course, ketchup for the kiddos. BBQ and buffalo sauce are also great dips. And I'm not gonna lie: The grownups got their popcorn chicken on, too. Enjoy!

Baked Popcorn Chicken
By Lauren Allen
Taste Better from Scratch


2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2-3 large breasts
2 large eggs
¼ cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 1/2  cups corn flakes cereal lightly crushed
½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika


Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place chicken pieces in a bowl or ziplock bag and add flour, stirring or shaking to coat completely. Set aside.

Add eggs and milk to a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside. In another shallow bowl combine crushed cornflakes, salt and pepper, garlic powder and paprika.

Dip each piece of flour-coated chicken into the egg mixture, followed by the cornflakes, gently pressing the cornflake mixture into the chicken. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Flip chicken and return to oven for an additional 7-8 minutes or until cooked through. 

Serve warm with BBQ sauce, ranch, or your favorite dipping sauce.