Wednesday, September 29, 2010


another Italian dish made simple! think you don't have time during your busy week to prepare a delicious classic? Think again! I've simplified chicken parmesan and packed in a ton of taste (with my secret weapon- biscuit mix)! This thin cut of chicken cooks up quick and stays tender when you smother it with a hearty tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella cheese. Plus, all you need is 2 shallow dishes and a skillet, so clean up is just as easy as cooking!

1 large chicken breast, split in 2 or 2 small chicken breasts
1 egg
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup biscuit/pancake mix
1 tbs. parmesan cheese
1/2 cup tomato/marinara sauce
2 tbs. shredded mozzarella cheese
canola/vegetable oil
extra virgin olive oil

-slice the chicken lengthwise into two 1/2" thin, even sized pieces or if using two smaller chicken breasts, pound out until 1/2" thick
-in a large shallow dish, mix breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, biscuit mix
-beat egg with 1 tbs. of water in another large, shallow dish
-place chicken breasts in egg mixture, let excess drip off
-place chicken breasts in breadcrumb mixture and coat the chicken, shake off excess
-let chicken sit for about 5-10 minutes before cooking
-warm 2 tsp. olive oil and 2 tsp. canola/vegetable oil in a medium sized skillet
-place chicken into the skillet, and cook approximately 4 minutes on each side
-pour 1/4 cup of tomato sauce on each piece of chicken, and top with 1 tbs. of cheese each
-cover with a lid, and let cook 2-3 minutes, until cheese is melted
-serve with a side of pasta or vegetables, and enjoy!

makes 2 servings

An Italian classic made quick enough for a weeknight dinner- anything I can eat with a side of pasta is a winner in my book!

-Use your own homemade tomato sauce, or use a jar of your favorite brand.
-Don't have biscuit mix? Just use flour.
-Don't have seasoned breadcrumbs? season your own! Mix in a few shakes of onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, paprika, salt, and Italian seasonings/dried herbs.
-If your chicken is browning too quickly on the stove top, you can melt the cheese in the oven. Place the chicken in an oven safe baking dish, and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.
-You can used thin sliced chicken cutlets instead of thin cutting your own chicken breasts, just adjust the cooking time if they are thinner than 1/2" to about 3 minutes each side.
-Make it dairy free, and skip the cheeses. Eat the chicken with just tomato sauce, or add a topping other than cheese such as sauteed mushrooms!
-When pounding out chicken, place the breast in a large zip-lock bag, or between to sheets of wax paper. Pound out with a meat mallet, or with a heavy skillet.
-Want to make it for a larger group? Just double or triple the recipe!

It's important to let the chicken sit before cooking: it helps set the coating and bind better to the chicken, so it won't fall off when you cook it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010




Though you may have seen this item on a cheesy (yet mesmerizing!) info-mercial, don't dismiss it yet! If you like to always be prepared, this machine could become your best friend! Buy in bulk, buy on sale, and buy the staples and you will always have SOMETHING to cook in the house. Individually seal chicken breasts so you can always defrost the perfect portion. Buy seasonal fruits and veggies and seal them up to keep the flavors at their best. Buy a huge hunk of meat (like a pork shoulder) and split it into 2 or 3 smaller meals instead of one large meal. The possibilities are endless! From my experience- it's a product that is worth the money!


Plenty of magazines I've read said this item is a kitchen must- so I purchased one- and I agree! The hand blender is much less clumsy to pull out of the cupboard to blend up your favorite soups and sauces. It saves a lot of cook and clean up time by placing the hand blender straight into a pot rather than slowly pouring foods into a regular blender or food processor a little bit at time- especially when you when you are working with hot foods. Most of these blenders come with a whisk and a chopping attachment which combines a food processor and a stand mixer all into this one little tool. It's handy, it's easy to clean, and it helps add a lot of delicious creaminess to your life!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


there's nothing more american than warm apple pie baking in the oven, filling the house with an appetizing aroma. so why not make that little slice of america a little more handheld...? this sweet cookie embodies the classic apple pie with chunks of fresh apples and fragrant spices. the addition of protein packed greek yogurt and natural applesauce keeps the cookies moist, chewy, and irresistible. heat up the oven, put on the apron, and get a little nostalgic for this remixed favorite!

1 apple (firm and slightly tart)
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened applesauce
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup oats
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves

-peel, core, and dice apple into 1/4"x1/4" pieces, set aside
-in a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and both sugars
-in a food processor or blender, add oats and pulse about 15 times
-add oats to flour mixture and whisk dry ingredients to combine
-add yogurt, applesauce, and apple pieces, mix until all ingredients are combined
-grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper, and drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the sheet about 1-1.5" apart
-bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 18 minutes, until cookies are golden brown
-let cool on a wire wrack, enjoy!

makes 2 dozen cookies

this recipe is dedicated to my mom, who taught me how to make the best apple pies ever, and who loves cookies!

-add in 1/2 cup of: raisins, dried cranberries, walnuts, dried apricots, or pecans
-have pumpkin spice mix? throw in a couple of pinches instead of separately adding cloves, ginger, and nutmeg
-zest it up even more and use cinnamon applesauce!
-use a firm, slightly tart and sweet apple such as a honey crisp, gala, braeburn, fuji, or pink lady
-you certainly don't have to blend your oats, but it gives it a nice texture if you do!
-can't find greek yogurt (too bad- it's full of protein!!)? use regular yogurt, just place in a paper towel lined sieve or colander and let sit until additional liquid drips out, and yogurt becomes thick
-freeze the cookies and eat them later!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This recipe is a delicious rendition of two Greek classics: moussaka (a layered eggplant dish) and pasticcio (a layered pasta dish). I took the best of both, married the flavors, slimmed it down, and created this tasty Greek inspired masterpiece. A sweet and savory meat sauce accompanied by a thick, cheesy sauce covering tender eggplant and comforting pasta means layer upon layer of unbeatable flavor. So save yourself a trip to Greece, and try my Greek pasta and eggplant bake instead!

1 medium sized eggplant
1/2 lb ground beef
8 oz. (1 cup) tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup uncooked pasta
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg, plus one pinch
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
4 tsp. flour
1/2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. cream cheese
1 1/2 tbs. goat cheese
1 tbs. chicken broth
2 tbs. parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

-brown meat with about 2 tsp. olive oil in a pan, set aside
-cut off both ends of eggplant then peel eggplant
-cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices
-lay the slices of eggplant onto paper towels or a large cutting board and sprinkle lightly with salt -set aside for 20-30 minutes to draw out the moisture
-lightly shake off excess moisture from eggplant, blotting with a paper towels to dry the eggplant -in a large skillet, warm 1 tbs. olive oil over medium heat
-add slices of eggplant in a single layer, cook for about 3 minutes each side (working in batches if eggplant won't all fit in the skillet at once)
-remove from the pan and set aside
-add meat, tomato sauce, and red wine to a medium sauce pan and warm on low for about 30 minutes, until sauce has thickened
-add 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, cinnamon, and parsley, stir in and set aside
-cook the pasta 1-2 minutes under package instructions
-reserve 3/4 cup cooking water before draining
-in a 9x9 casserole dish, layer eggplant in the bottom of the dish
-pour the meat sauce mixture on top of the eggplant
-spread the cooked pasta on top of the meat sauce, set aside
-in the same pan the eggplant was cooked in, add 1 tbs. olive oil, butter, and flour
-whisk together over medium-low heat for about 1-2 minutes, until flour is wet and smooth
-add 3/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, and whisk until smooth
-add cream cheese, goat cheese, and chicken broth, whisk until smooth
-add a pinch each of salt, pepper, and nutmeg and parmesan cheese, whisk until smooth, remove from heat
-pour/spread cheese mixture evenly over pasta
-sprinkle atop additional parmesan cheese
-bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes
-broil for an additional 3-5 minutes for a golden cheesy top
-let cool, serve, and enjoy!

serves approximately 2-3 people

This recipe was inspired by the tasty meal I had at the Greek Festival of Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

-Double the recipe for more servings.
-For the tomato sauce, use homemade, or a can/jar of your choice!
-You can make this meal meat free, just add an extra layer of eggplant and pasta. Make the tomato sauce as planned (just without the meat) and spread between the layers. You may need more than 1 cup though! Finish with cheese sauce as above.
-You can make this meal gluten free by skipping the pasta and adding an extra eggplant layers. Double the meat sauce too. Finish with cheese sauce as above.
-Use ground beef, ground veal, or crumbled sausage.
-Use the pasta shape of your choice: penne, elbows, spirals... even try a layer of lasagna noodles!
-If you don't want to use wine- don't! But use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce to skip the reduction process, adding a little bit of water or broth to thin it down slightly.
-Try mixing in some sauteed mushrooms or asparagus with the meat sauce.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Who doesn't like macaroni? In my experience- not many! With this goat cheese macaroni you can transform a childhood favorite into a delicious culinary experience. Infused with the woodsy flavors of rosemary and the fresh, clean taste of spinach, a light coating of goat cheese gives the dish a delicate creaminess nearly impossible to resist. This recipe is perfectly measured for a romantic dinner for two, but can be easily doubled for a family feast! So get cooking and get lost in one of America's favorite comfort foods tonight!

1 uncooked chicken breast, sliced into 1/4" thin pieces
3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 tbs. butter
1/2 lb pasta
1 cup cooked frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 oz. goat cheese
3 tbs. grated parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

-in a medium sized pan, add butter and 1.5 tbs. olive oil and warm over low heat
-add smashed garlic clove, 1/8 cup of the onions, and rosemary sprigs and cook for 15 minutes
-remove garlic clove and rosemary sprigs, leave oil in pan (do not throw out rosemary)
-raise heat to medium-low and add chicken to the pan for about 3 minutes (or until cooked through)
-remove chicken, leave oil in pan, and add minced garlic and the rest of the minced onions, saute for about 10 minutes
-in a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions
-before you drain the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water
-place pasta back into the pot, add spinach, cooking water, goat cheese, and parmesan cheese
-remove the leaves from 1 or 2 of the cooked sprigs of rosemary and minced them, adding about 1 tsp. of the chopped rosemary to the pasta
-serve the pasta, garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary and additional parmesan cheese

serves approximately 2

This recipe was inspired by the delicious goat cheese macaroni dinner I had at Michael Symon's Tremont restaurant, Lolita.

-Double the recipe to feed more
-Want it cow's milk free? Skip the butter and use olive oil instead.
-Can't find fresh rosemary? Use dried. Sprinkle about 1 tsp. on the chicken while it cooks, and an additional 2 tsp. mixed in when you add the spinach to the pot.
-You don't have to add spinach to your meal, BUT it does add great nutritional value and is a fresh tasted contrasting the rich creaminess of the goat cheese.
-Skip the chicken and make it vegetarian. You can also add additional veggies like sauteed summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms and eggplant.
-Use whatever pasta you please: penne, bowties, spirals, etc... whole wheat, regular, and even gluten free varieties like rice pasta!
-Try it with other herbs like sage and thyme in addition to the rosemary.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


If you like cooking with garlic, you'll LOVE cooking with roasted garlic! As raw garlic is strong and slightly spicy, roasted garlic becomes mild, sweet, and carmelized; perfect for spreading, mashing, and mixing. Roast up a big batch, and keep stock, so you can always and easily add a little something special to your favorite foods!

1 head of garlic
extra virgin olive oil

-leaving the skin and cloves intact, cut off the top 1/4" to 1/2" of the garlic head, exposing the the top of each clove of garlic
-drizzle the top of the garlic with about 2-3 tsp. olive oil
-generously sprinkle salt and pepper on top
-wrap garlic in aluminum foil
-cook in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes
-remove from oven, and allow garlic to cool
-peel away foil
-squeeze the garlic, and the soft cloves should come right out, or use a knife or fork to gently pull out the cloves
-keep in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator
-add to recipes as you see fit, enjoy!

No particular shout outs... I do though, have a family that LOVES garlic, so a little extra in any meal is a treat!

-Roast multiple heads of garlic at once, just wrap individually in foil.
-Mash up the roasted garlic and:
---add it to pasta sauces, soups, mayonnaise, gravies, pestos, and salad dressings
---mix with sour cream or goat cheese, and top a baked potato
---spread it onto crusty bread with a slice of brie or pair slice
---mix with cream cheese or hummus and create a cracker or vegetable dip
---place in a food processor with kalamata olives and capers for a delicious tapinade
---add to melted butter, and spread over a corn cobb
-When you sprinkle on the salt and pepper, sprinkle on some fresh chopped herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, and/or parsley for more flavor.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


It’s time for you to rethink Mexican: no more tacos, burritos, and fajitas... this is Latin cooking gone gourmet! Simple seasonings combined with slow cooking create a tender pulled pork out of this world and a quick salsa and side of rice with black beans brings the whole meal together. Imagine not only how good this meal will taste, but how good your house will smell with this meal brewing all day!

for pork:
(approximately) 1 lb pork roast/pork shoulder/Boston butt
1 package Good Seasonings Italian salad dressing mix
1 tbs. coriander
1 tbs. cumin
4 oz. can sliced jalapenos
1/2 cup apple juice
3/4 cup chicken broth
extra virgin olive oil

-mix dressing seasonings with coriander and cumin
-sprinkle all sides of the meat with about half of the seasoning mix
-warm 1 tbs. olive oil over medium-high heat in a pan, and sear each side of the meat
-place in slow cooker
-mix together juice, broth, and the rest of the seasoning mix
-pour over meat
-open can of jalapenos, and pour over meat
-place lid on slow cooker, and cook for 7-9 hours on low
-once meat is done cooking, remove meat from juices and allow to cool
-using 2 forks (or your hands, if it's cool enough to touch) and shred the pork
-place the meat back into the juices
-warm meat in the juices
-serve with rice and beans and corn salsa (recipes below) and enjoy!

for the rice and beans:

1 cup brown rice
2 tbs. onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbs. green bell pepper, small diced
15 oz can black beans
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 ground pepper
1 tbs. lime juice
1 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
extra virgin olive oil

-sauté garlic, onions, and green pepper in 1 tbs. olive oil over medium heat in a medium sized pot for about 5 minutes
-add rice and broth to the pot, bring to a boil
-reduce heat to simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid, and cook for 45-50 minutes
-drain and rinse black beans, add to rice, stir
-sprinkle in cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, lime juice, and cilantro, stir
-serve with meat and salsa

for corn salsa:

11 oz can corn or about 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1/4 cup red onion, small diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, small diced
2 tbs. lime juice
2 tbs. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

-over medium/high heat, place corn in a large skillet
-stir occasionally and let cook until the corn starts to brown around the edges, around 10 minutes
-remove from heat and let cool
-once cooled, add onion, bell pepper, lime juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste
-serve salsa cold with meat and rice and beans

This recipe was inspired by a delicious meal I had at Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar in Woodmere, Ohio.

-You can make your own 'seasoning mix' by mixing garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pepper, and dried herbs. You need at least 2 tbs. of the mix total, plus the additional tbs. coriander and cumin each.
-You can use white rice instead of brown rice, just adjust cooking time from 45-50 minutes to 18-20 minutes.
-Don't want to eat pork? Season chicken breasts with the same seasonings and cook on the grill.
-Try using a Mexican beer instead of apple juice to cook your meat in! Or skip both the juice and beer, and use all broth.
-You don't have to make all three parts of this meal... separate the parts and pair them with other foods you like!
-Let the pork cook while you are away all day, and cook the rice and make the salsa while the meat cools before you shred it- delish dinner, super fast!
-You can use a can of green chilies instead of jalapenos, or leave them both out if you don't want spicy meat.
-Leftovers? Add some cheese and put them up in a tortilla for a fajita or quesadilla, or split a bell pepper in half and fill each side with the meat, salsa, and rice for delicious stuffed peppers.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


This dish is all about big flavor concentration and with only 5 main ingredients, it's easy to get there! Nutty roasted garlic, sweet roasted tomatoes, and fresh basil pesto with hearty whole wheat pasta make the perfect well-rounded and healthy meal. With the ingredients available all year round, you can make this meal a permanent one in your dinner rotation!

1 cup prepared pesto
2 chicken breasts
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 lb whole wheat pasta
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

-place garlic and 1 1/2 tbs. olive oil in a small sauce pan
-simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, until garlic is golden brown and nutty smelling
-meanwhile, slice tomatoes in half, drizzle with about 1 tbs. olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper
-place tomatoes on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven, and cook for about 20 minutes
-season chicken with salt and pepper, and cook on the grill
-let chicken cool, then slice thinly (1/8" thick), set aside
-boil large pot of water, cook pasta as directed
-drain pasta, place back into cooking pot
-mix in pesto, garlic, tomatoes, and chicken
-place pasta into a serving dish, or portion out, and enjoy!

This recipe was inspired by my Aunt Suzy and Uncle Len who always provide us with homemade pesto, and delicious pesto pasta!

-Leave out the chicken for a vegetarian dish, or try instead of chicken try it with sliced turkey breast or steak.
-You don't have to grill your chicken, it can be cooked in the oven or in a pan, or you can even use a super market rotisserie chicken.
-Don't want to overload on garlic? Add a couple spoonfuls of chopped walnuts or pine nuts instead of the extra roasted garlic.
-Mix in some: sauteed mushrooms, artichoke hearts, caramelized onions, peas, and/or asparagus.
-Allow the noodles to cool, and make it a yummy cold pasta salad.
-Instead of roasting your own tomatoes, take a shortcut and chop up jarred sundried tomatoes or you can use a fresh chopped tomato too.
-Spice it up with a good spoonful of red pepper flakes.
-Use whatever type of pasta you prefer: whole wheat, regular, gluten free, short pasta, spaghetti...

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Time to fancy up pizza! My prosciutto pizza combines salty, buttery cheese and proscuitto with a sweet balsamic glaze, and all these sharp tastes are cut with the clean taste of fresh chopped spinach. Slightly spicy with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, you'll be licking the plate clean of every crusty crumb and drop of balsamic reduction. So instead of picking up a greasy take-out pizza, pick up some groceries, and try out this delicious meal!

1 refrigerated pre-made pizza dough
1 tbs. cornmeal
1 small sweet onion
1 cup grated fontina or fontinella cheese
2 tbs. grated parmesan cheese
5 slices prosciutto
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
balsamic vinegar reduction
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
extra virgin olive oil

-sprinkle corn meal on a greased, round pizza baking pan
-spread pizza dough out on pan
-evenly spread a thin layer (about 2 tsp.) olive oil on pizza dough, set aside
-slice onion into thin (about 1/8") rings
-over medium/low heat, combine onion and 1 tbs. olive oil
-saute onions for about 20 minutes, until they become soft and caramelized
-evenly sprinkle the cheeses on the dough
-after the onions have cooled, 'sprinkle' them on top of the cheese
-sprinkle on red pepper flakes
-bake in the oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes
-while pizza is baking, slice the prosciutto into 1/4-1/2" strips
-once time is up, take pizza out and sprinkle on prosciutto
-bake for an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is melted, prosciutto looks slightly crispy along edges, and dough is golden brown
-remove pizza from baking sheet and place on a large cutting board
-cut slices, and drizzle on balsamic reduction and top with spinach
-serve and enjoy!

[pizza before balsamic reduction drizzle and fresh spinach]

This recipe was inspired from my first trip to New York City and a delicious pizza we had at Trattoria Dell'Arte.

-Try using fresh, spicy arugula instead of spinach.
-Can't find a pre-made balsamic reduction? Make your own! Slow boil 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan until vinegar reduces by half, into a thick glaze.
-Fresh summer tomatoes on hand? Throw on a few slices of tomatoes on top of the cheese, under the onions.
-If you are not eating the pizza all in one sitting, drizzle each piece individually with the balsamic reduction and then top each piece with spinach.
-Eat it for dinner, or slice it up into large, bite-sized pieces as an appetizer.
-Can't find fontina/fontinella cheese? Use mozzarella or smoked mozzarella.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Looking for a satisfying and healthy snack? Popcorn is one of the best! Making your own is not only cheaper but it's healthier, because you're controlling the quality and amount of ingredients. This salty and crunchy treat is high in fiber and low in calories and fat, so you won't feel guilty eating a hefty serving. My popcorn recipe is so quick and easy, it'll become a permanent staple at movie night!

1 brown bag, large lunch sack size (number 12 or 20)
1/4 cup popcorn (now yellow or white kernels)
2 tbs. canola or vegetable oil
salt to taste

-place kernels in bag, fold over top 2 inches of bag to close
-microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds at 50% power
-microwave at full power for an additional minute or when it there is more than 4-5 seconds in between popping
-place in a large bowl
-drizzle on popcorn 1 tbs. oil
-lightly salt and toss to coat
-drizzle additional 1 tbs. oil on top of popcorn
-lightly salt and toss

This recipe is all thanks to my Grandpa Len- it's one of the main things I look forward to when I visit, and he has it perfected!

-In addition or instead of salt, sprinkle on: butter flavored powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, or garlic salt.
-Try these fancy combos:
---spritz popcorn with vinegar and sprinkle on salt for a 'salt and vinegar' version
---drizzle on some lime juice and sprinkle with chili powder
---powdered sugar and coco powder
---drizzle on honey and sprinkle on some cinnamon
-You can use olive oil instead of canola/vegetable oil- it's healthier!
-You can reuse the popcorn bag! you can keep using the same bag at least a dozen or so times!
-You can half the recipe: use 2 tbs. popcorn kernels, and only 1 tbs.
-Cooking time may vary, as microwaves temps and powers vary.