perfect herbed grilled chicken + corn with kale + basil pesto

What I’m about to say will shock you, but after three weeks of devouring copious amounts of fresh, rich cheeses, ribbons of homemade pasta, warm baguettes, and flaky almond croissants, all I wanted was a bowl piled high with greens. Much to my shock, awe and chagrin, I’ve learned that it is possible to tire of pastry and white flour.

It is possible to say: PLEASE, NO MORE CROISSANTS!

As soon as my plane touched down and I made my way through the labyrinth that is JFK, all I craved were kale and protein. Perhaps to punish myself for all the delectable eats I consumed during my three-week European food odyssey, I turned to the BIG GOOPER herself, Gwyneth. We’re going to ignore the People cover story, gloss over her I’m just like you, bit, and leap into the pages of her cookbook, which do indeed hold a fair amount of goodness. SMITE YOU, GWYNNIE!

Three years ago, I was a woman who cooked at home. Walked half a mile to the subway, just because. Eschewed meal delivery. I was fit, healthy and strong, and over the course of three years I somehow managed to turn into someone who downloads Seamless Web, uses it, and becomes addicted to it. Complains about walking anywhere. During my holiday, I walked for eight to twelve hours a day and I fell in love with it all over again. The way one can get lost, hatch plans and strange ideas, and feel alone, but not lonely — this is what walking affords you.

When I came home, my friend was barren, and I immediately stocked it with greens, meats, and fresh herbs. Can I tell you how good it felt to grill a chicken? It’s so minor, a shift imperceptible to anyone BUT ME, but my walking, my cooking, my need for space and quiet, reminds me of a version of myself that I miss.

Here’s to being back. Here’s to seeing where the day takes you. Here’s to eating virtuously.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good.
Serves 4
For the chicken
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh basil
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded to barely 1/4 inch thick


For the kale + basil pesto corn (I modified Paltrow’s basic pesto recipe to include kale. If you’re not keen on kale, just use one cup of packed basil leaves, instead.)
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup packed flat kale leaves (not the curly kind)
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the chicken: Combine the herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon zest/juice, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken breasts to the bowl and rub the herb mixture all over each piece, being sure to get it on both sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chicken mariante for at least 1/2 hr (I recommend an hour), or as long as overnight. I marinated my chicken for an hour at room temperature, however, if you’re going for overnight, just make sure that you let your chicken come to room temperature before you grill it.


Heat a grill or grill pan (I used my panini press, true story) over medium heat. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, 2-3 minutes on each side.

For the kale + basil pesto corn: In a medium pot with salted water, add 2 cups frozen corn and cook until tender (6-7 minutes), stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

Blitz all of the ingredients in a food processor until the pesto has a rough texture. To be honest, I’ve never tasted a difference when you blitz the nuts + garlic prior to adding the leaves, so I tend to add in the lot in one shot.

Add 1/4-1/2 cup of the pesto to the corn. I tend to like a light coating, so I used a 1/4 cup for 4 servings of corn. This is purely my preference.


the finest meatballs you’ll ever make!!!


Four years ago I published a memoir, which was more like a long, angry letter to a woman who was my first hurt. Having fled a dark home where her voice was always the loudest sound, I felt free to shout from the rafters — to tell her all the things I was too frightened or too paralyzed to say. At the time I was newly sober and viewed the world through two singular colors: black and white. My mother was the absence of all color, while me — a woman drowning in her own frenzy — swallowed the rainbow. Never did I conceive that my feelings about her, and the life we lived together, would become complicated. Especially on that one day when she suddenly re-appeared in my life, another daughter in tow, asking a litany of questions related to money. While the drugs were gone, and her voice took on a patina of smoke and age, she remain unchanged. And this put me to thinking that all this time I secretly craved this idyllic reunion where my mother had transformed into the woman I wanted her to be rather than the one who wept over a phone line.

In the time since, I tried to write another book as I was told I had this gift and it would be a tragedy not to produce. Ah, produce. How could one not think of D.H. Lawrence, all destroy! destroy! destroy! hums the under-consciousness. Love and produce! Love and produce! cackles the upper consciousness. And the world hears only the Love-and-produce cackle. Refuses to hear the hum of destruction underneath. Until such time as it will have to hear. I tried to re-write the story of Jonestown, a version told by Jim Jones’ wife, but I grew bored of the project. I experimented with re-writing Woolf’s The Waves, but got caught up in the poetry.

Wasn’t I meant to produce?

But what happens when your days are filled with closing deals — meetings where you are the proud owner of the extinguisher that’s expected to put out all the fires — and your evenings are spent recovering from all that came before. What happens when you see time march on, your wild-child friends couple and propagate, your writerly friends breed essays at a velocity rivaling an epidemic, and here you are arranging a bookcase of books you can’t remember reading. Years ago a teacher told me that I should write out my obsession, preach it out like sermon, until there is no more. And so I did this, wrote this ode to my mother, and now I’m left with all these minor keying with no symphony to play for.

This week I cancelled my cable service (segue! segue!), determined to return to one of my loves, books. Immersing myself in worlds other than my own gave me a comfort of which I’m not quite able to describe. This weekend has been a joy as I found myself consuming Molly Wizenberg’s lovely A Homemade Life as if I were that Twilight Zone character left with an ocean of books after the great bomb.

Reading Wizenberg’s unabashed, lifelong obsession with food awakened me. Her prose was neither esoteric or poetic, but it was plain, honest and passionate. Reading her stories of life, love, loss and all the meals intertwined, made me feel like she was my smart girlfriend who knew how to bake a mean souffle. She’s secretly been inspiring me to re-visit France, this time as a foodie, and I found myself making, and feasting on, these delicious meatballs. Simply put, you will NEVER have a better meatball, PROMISE.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life (I served these with tomato sauce rather than Yoghurt Sauce), with minor alterations
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup minced basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped pine nuts
1/2 cup golden raisins, coarse chop
1/2 cup panko
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 tsp truffle salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/2 lb ground turkey (white meat)*
1/2 lb ground beef*

*There are endless combinations. You can have all turkey (white/dark meat), turkey + pork, turkey + beef, turkey + chicken, but the rule of thumb is that you need 1/2 of your meat to have a bit of fat to yield delicious, juicy flavor. This is just what I love. Molly’s recipe called for chicken, turkey or lamb.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add the ground meat, using your hands, break it up into small chunks. Then massage and gently knead the meat to incorporate the ingredients. Mix until combined, but do not overmix: meat gets tough easily. With damp hands, pinch off hunk of the mixture and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Set aside on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Warm two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add half of the meatballs, taking care not to crowd them. As they begin to color, turn them gently with tongs and light shake the pan to roll them around, so they get some color on every side. The meatballs are ready when they are evenly browned on all sides and feel pleasantly firm, but not rock-hard. I like my meat VERY WELL DONE, so I cut one open to inspect it. Well done will take 8-10 minutes per batch.

Transfer the meatballs to a plate lined with a paper towel, and cook the remaining meatballs.

Serve with your favorite tomato sauce and whole wheat cous cous, or kale salad! Enjoy!


make this now: simple stir-fried beef with thai chilies + tat soi with kale salad

Believe me when I say that I nearly cleaned out the entire Asian food section of Whole Foods. From stocking up on oyster and fish sauces to flat udon noodles to minced beef, my recent South East Asian holiday has inspired a slew of dishes focused on megaphone flavor and heaps of vegetables. Tonight I hosted a monthly rotating dinner party, where a few of my closest friends and I chow down, dissect movies from the 90s and talk about our goings-on. Since seeing one another has become the equivalent of booking a table at Nobu, we’ve dedicated one Saturday a month where we unwind, unload and explore new cultures and continents through the dishes that we create and serve. In the past few months I’ve been to Sicily, Thailand and Brazil — all from the comfort of a friend’s kitchen. And while I can’t wait for next month’s Indian feast, I’m itching to share recipes from this month’s soiree.

In three short hours I fixed a beef chili stir-fry, drunken noodles with chicken, tofu stir-fry, kale salad, coconut-infused jasmine rice and a pile of fresh fruit. However, I want to first focus on one of tonight’s BIG HITS: the stir-fried beef. Funny how the simplest of dishes are the ones which have the most impact.

You can serve this beef solo, or pair it with a small bowl of jasmine rice — it’s that simple and that DELICIOUS.

And OBVIOUSLY you know how I feel about kale.

For the stir-fry:
1 lb flank steak, cut lengthwise into strips
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp dried red Thai chilies (chili flakes are a fine alternative)
1 tbsp grape seed or safflower oil
1-2 cups of tat soi (spinach or basil are fine substitutes)

For the kale salad:
4-6 cups of mixed kale leaves (red, green, purple)
1 cup of tat soi (spinach or basil are fine substitutes)
1 cup of mixed nuts (1/3 pistachios, 1/3 slivered blanched almonds and 1/3 cashews), toasted
1/2 cup dried cherries
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce and chili and marinate the beef for 1/2 hour.

Heat the oil in a wok, or a large sauté pan, over high heat until it is nearly smoking. As the oil is heating up, toss in the garlic and then pat the beef dry and separate it into small batches no larger than what can fit into the palm of your hand. Working in batches, sauté beef until it is charred and cooked through (4-5 minutes). However, if you prefer your meat rare (cook for 1 minute) or medium (cook for 2-3 minutes). Personally, I prefer well-done beef the equivalent to shoe leather.

Toss the tat soi (or spinach) in until the leaves are wilted.

The dish can be served piping hot or at room temperature. I paired this with the kale salad, which was a cinch to fix. The only cooking involved is heating up the nuts on a dry pan — the rest is pure flavor magic. You’ll love the flavor and texture plays of the sweet cherries, raw kale and crunchy nuts.


make this now: pan-fried pork + scallion dumplings and wontons

Ever since my first visit to Taiwan in 2006, I’ve been rapturously in love with Asia. From the juicy pineapple, savory bamboo and crispy potstickers in the open markets to the whirlpool public baths and the mass of scooters jetting through the wide thoroughfares of Taipei, I was enamored with the history, the food and the complex linguistic intonations. Asia is magical, grand, mythic, complicated — oceans removed from Brooklyn’s gritty streets and elevated trains.

In the years that followed I visited Hong Kong and Bali, pledging an annual sojourn. So yesterday I finally took the plunge and booked a two-week holiday to Seoul (1 day), Bangkok (3 days) and Siem Reep, Cambodia (6 days), determined to chow my way down a river and absorb as much art, architecture and culture as I possibly can. While I was painstakingly researching all of my travel details online, I came across a tweet from @DianaKuan, announcing a $30, 2-hour dumpling + wonton class.


I didn’t know what to expect, since most classes I’ve taken are less hands-on and more about promoting a cookbook, but Diana’s minimalist approach was a tremendous delight. From instructing us on the proper wrapper (wonton wrappers tend to be thinner and made with egg while dumpling wrappers are thicker) to demonstrating various folding techniques, her instruction was clear, easy and relaxed — the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. After two hours not only did I learn how to make dumplings (and eat a PILE OF THEM), I made some new friends.

So if you’re looking for a way to wow a dinner party crowd, I implore you to serve these yummy dumplings!

INGREDIENTS: Recipe: Courtesy of Diana Kuan
1 package (about 50) dumpling wrappers*
Peanut of canola oil for pan-frying (about 1 tbsp per dozen)
1 pound ground pork
8 dried shitake mushrooms**
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

*You can locate wrappers in most supermarkets or specialty stores. In New York, I’ve seen them in Chinatown, Gourmet Garage, Citarella and Whole Foods
**I detest the MUSHROOM in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. I made the recipe sans mushrooms, but I’ve been told that you can blitz edamame

Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 15-20 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Discard the stems and finely chop the mushroom caps.

Brief Parenthetical: the fact that I’m mentioning the UNSPEAKABLE MUSHROOM on this small patch of virtual real estate is a testament to how much I loved my experience and dumplings (sans THE MUSHROOM), that I’m willing to allow this brief trespass.

Make the filling: In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork, mushrooms, scallions, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Keep the extra wrappers covered with a slightly damp towel until ready to use, to prevent them from drying out. Fill a ramekin or small bowl of water and have it next to you; this will be for sealing the dumplings. Take a wrapper and place one heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle. Be careful not to put too much, or else it’ll leak out during the folding process.

Dip your finger in the water and moisten the edges all around.

For Dumplings: Take the dumpling in your hand and fold the wrapper in half. With your right thumb and index finger, pinch the edge of the wrapper in the middle and make a fold.

Make two more identical folds in the same directions, until you end up with three folds on the right side. With your left thumb and index finger, make two more pleats on the left side. Press all the pleats to seal. The finished wrapped dumpling should resemble a crescent. If you’re stumped, check out Diane demonstrating the folding process.

Lay the finished dumpling on a plate. Keep the finished dumplings covered with a slightly damp towel while you repeat the process with the remaining dumplings.

For Wontons: Angle a wonton wrapper so that it faces you like a diamond. Place one heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. Add water along the top two edges with your fingertips. Wrap by forming a triangle by folding the bottom tip to the top tip and pinching out as much air as possible. Press together. If you want to try “the boat”, start by folding the wrapper in half to form a triangle. Add a dab of water to the bottom edge of the left side and fold it over the bottom edge of the ridge side, so that one overlaps the other. The end result should resemble a boat, with the two tips cradling a puff of filling in the middle.

For pan-frying, make sure to use a large, flat-bottomed skillet or a wok with a wide flat surface area, and have a lid ready. Heat the skillet or wok over medium-high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the peanut or vegetable oil and swirl to coat the bottom. (Don’t skimp on the oil; the amount is integral for the pan-fried dumplings to develop their signature brown and crispy bottoms and not become glued to the pan.) Working in batches, line the dumplings in the pan, smooth side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the smooth side starts to brown. Lower the heat to medium. Carefully add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and immediately cover with a lid to contain the spitting oil. Allow the dumplings to steam for 4-5 minutes, until all or almost all of the water has evaporated.

Remove the lid, and loosen the dumplings with a spatula. They should be golden brown on the bottom. Turn off the heat.

If you’re doing repeated batches, wash and dry the pan or wipe it out so that there’s no residual water when you pan fry your next batch. Feel free to freeze the dumplings and reheat for a rainy day.


thanksgiving stuffing: sage sausage stuffing!

sage sausage stuffing
You guys! It’s such a race against the clock in setting the stage for my Thanksgiving feast. This year, I’m keeping it simple with stuffed turkey breast, a delicious array of sides, and a pile of desserts. Add in some red wine for the guests and sparkling water for me, and we’ve got ourselves a memorable holiday soiree. I’m entertaining for a small crowd this year, but since my weekdays are jam-packed with meetings, presentations and endless deliverables, I had to shop over the weekend, and I’m making as many dishes in advance as possible. Come Thursday, I’ll focus on the turkey, the greens, and easy sides. But before I rhapsodize over my scallion cheddar biscuits and kale cranberry salad, can we talk about STUFFING???

Two years ago I fixed a version that might actually make you weep kittens, but this year I decided to get simple and focus on flavor as opposed to a pile of ingredients. And believe me when I say that this stuffing is the one to beat!

Also, if you’ve got any last-minute suggestions or links, please shoot them my way. My menu hasn’t been finalized!!!

sausage sage stuffing
1 pound of ground sage sausage (removed from casings)
3 cups of plain croutons
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 1/2 cups diced white onion
2 springs fresh rosemary, fine dice
3 fresh thyme leaves, fine dice
1/4 cup flat parsley, coarse chop
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup tap water
salt/pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large saute pan, break up the sausage and cook until lightly browned. While the sausage is browning, add in the diced celery and onions (they’ll cook in the fat) until the vegetables are tender and translucent. Once the meat + veggies are cooked, add them to a large mixing bowl. Allow the meat to cool slightly.

Add the greens, croutons and egg until all ingredients are incorporated. Add in the water. Depending upon how dry your bread is, you may need to add more until tender. Personally, I fear and loathe mealy stuffing and I like the ingredients a little looser, so I tend to use less water so the ingredients deliver their own distinct flavors. However, if smush is your bag, add in another egg to bind the mixture further.

Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Serve pipping hot!

sausage sage stuffing
sausage sage stuffing
sage sausage stuffing

screenlicker: honey nut chicken cutlets

the best chicken cutlets in AMERICA To call these chicken cutlets the very best in America would be an understatement. It would be a cruel shot to the heart, a proverbial pummel in the stomach, as it were. To say that I called upon all my powers of the vacuum arts in an effort to hoover the food off my plate would be a casual jibe, nudge, etc, because these cutlets ARE AMERICA.

Every few months I have the privilege of seeing my adoptive family in Connecticut, and Sundays are usually reserved for church, waffles, and familial love. A dining table covered with food and several trays of desserts are the norm. And one of my great joys in this time spent with people I consider home is recipe sharing and trading with my friend and her mother. Today, ten of us swooned and fawned over these epic breasts, and I’ve squirreled away two, which sit in a bag beside me as I type.

Believe me when I say these cutlets are being made!!! However, here’s the Honey Nut Chicken recipe, courtesy of Rachael Ray.

4 ounces, 2 small packages, honey roasted peanuts, about 2/3 cup
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 tbsp grill seasoning blend
2 eggs
A splash half-and-half or whole milk
2 tsp hot sauce, several drops
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil (I’d use olive)
4 (6-8 ounce) pieces of chicken breast

Put nuts, bread crumbs, and grill seasoning in a food processor and pulse grind to combine the nuts into bread crumbs. Pour nutty-breading onto a plate.

Beat eggs and half-and-half or milk with hot sauce in a shallow dish. Pour flour out on a plastic board or plate. Dust both sides of the chicken with flour. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture and then coat with the nutty breading.

Pre-heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer, 2 or 3 turns of the pan. Brown chicken pieces 2 minutes on each side in hot oil or until evenly light golden in color. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook in oven until juices run clear and breasts are cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.

chicken cutlet

lick the screen: sage sausage stuffing!

finale! At dawn, I bolted out of bed. Not from excitement for the food debauchery that would ensue come afternoon, but from a terrible nightmare. This wasn’t your typical frightening fare — ghouls didn’t hover, blood didn’t make an appearance, and I wasn’t flung into the ocean. Rather, I was back in that Valley Stream apartment, fixing Thanksgiving for my friends while my mother sat in her room, door ajar, flipping channels. Her presence was felt, it ghosted, and I remembered clattering pans, sifting through cabinets, hating the fact that she never had anything I needed.

The dinner was abysmal — a failure like the time when I was a teenager and it was my duty to make the dinner while she lay in her bed, comatose. That year the turkey was overdone, it smoked, it’s cavity collapsed inward, and she stomped out of her room, waved the smoke away and sneered. I was devastated. The shakes returned as my dad ushered us out and we spent our Thanksgiving at 7-11.

I have this dreams intermittently, and I’ve learned to breathe through them. And I had quiet meditation before I embarked on today’s miniature feast.

That having been said I got a little adventurous and made my own stuffing! This is wholly unlike me as I prefer to follow an outline, but here’s hoping it’s delicious.

1 1/2 pound of ground sage sausage (casings removed)
1 cup of minced onion
2 cups of diced celery
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 cups of chicken stock
6-7 cups of toasted bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 stick of butter
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
Salt/pepper to season/taste

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. In a large pan, add two tablespoons of olive oil and brown one pound of the sausage. Remove from the pan and brown the remaining 1/2 pound. Essentially, you want your sausage to sear and slightly caramelize, and if you add to much surface area to the pan, the cooking temperature drops and your sausage starts to boil. Not a pretty party.

Remove sausage, set aside in a large mixing bowl. Melt one stick of butter and add the celery and onions and cook until softened (10-12 minutes). After eight minutes, add in the minced garlic.

When the vegetables are shiny and translucent, add the mixture to the sausage and mix until combined. Add the bread, stock and beaten egg. Toss until combined. Add the stuffing to a buttered 9X13 oven dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove the aluminum and bake for another 15. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil once removed from the oven.

Recipe Notes: If you don’t have access to sage sausage, opt for Italian sweet sausage, and add a tablespoon of fresh, chopped sage or a teaspoon of dried. Note that this isn’t like traditional stuffing in consistency. The stuffing is separated, but utterly delicious. To keep warm, leave in oven at 200 degrees, cover. Feel free to add additional stock in the event the stuffing dries out. Enjoy!

some of the ingredients for the sausage sage stuffing
onions & celery: fine dice
grilled sage sausage, twice milled from the butcher
saute in a stick of butter
store-bought bread stuffing
Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing is in the oven!

cook this: arroz con pollo

arroz con pollo @ son cubano = delish! Yesterday, I treated my best friend’s fiancée to a delectable midday feast, courtesy of Son Cubano, in New York’s meatpacking district. A creature of habit, I ordered my old-school favorite – arroz con pollo. I love arroz con pollo. It’s home food, it’s earthy, and while it’s not necessarily haute cuisine, it’s flavorful and beyond delicious. And what a terrific one-pan meal to make at home for family, or, if you’re single like me, it’s incredible as leftovers.

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken thighs*
4 chicken drumsticks
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 ounces cured, smoked chorizo
1 small Spanish onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 3/4 cups canned tomatoes, drained and chopped*
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 cup rice, preferably long-grain
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Add the paprika and chili powder. Make sure the chicken is patted dry in order to prevent broiling, rather than getting that divine sear. Sauté the chicken on all sides, until well browned (the skin will caramelize), about 8 minutes in all. Remove cooked chicken and set aside on a rack. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the chorizo, onion, and garlic to the pan and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften (it’ll turn translucent), about 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers and stir occasionally, until they start to soften, (3 minutes).

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, and the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the rice and add the chicken in an even layer. Simmer, partially covered, over medium-low heat until the chicken and rice are cooked, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Shower with fresh parsley.
Continue reading “cook this: arroz con pollo”

cook this: delicious beef & sausage baked ziti

delicious beef & sausage baked ziti When you’re single and on a budget you have two problems: food is more expensive and it always goes off quickly. Buying in bulk is easy when you have a big family and storage space, however, when I make recipes I always think about dishes that are cost-conscious, can be made in advance, and reheated through the rest of the week. Otherwise that impulse kale rots and I’m scraping the freezer burn off the sale chicken with an ice-pick.

Enter my beef and sausage baked ziti. Mind you, this isn’t fancy restaurant fare. This isn’t the kind of food you want to photograph, but it’s certainly the kind of food you will want to eat. I make this frequently – switching out meat for veggies, mixing up the cheeses – and it not only lasts a week, but gets better with each re-heating.

Ingredients: Note: I use organic/local ingredients as much as possible
1 lb (16 oz) ziti or penne rigate
3/4 lb of 85% lean ground beef*
1/2 lb of sweet Italian sausage*
1/2 lb of fresh mozzarella
4 heaping tablespoons of fresh ricotta
1 jar of the tomato sauce (or click here for my homemade sauce)
3 tbsp pecorino romano cheese (for topping)
2 tea olive oil (for topping)

In a large pot, boil the water for pasta. When the water comes to a boil, add the noodles and several tablespoons of salt. Stir the pasta to avoiding any clumping. As the pasta will cook in the oven, you want the noodles to be a touch harder than al dente (approximately 7 minutes or 3-4 minutes shy less the cooking instructions on the box).

In a large skillet add the meat seasoned with salt & pepper. Break up the sausage & beef until it browns (approximately 8-10 minutes). I tend to drain a little bit of the excess fat, however, I’ll leave this up to your discretion. Once the beef browns, add the tomato sauce and simmer on low for 4-5 minutes. After, add the beef to a buttered lasagna/roasting pan.

Once the pasta has cooked, drain and add to the meat mixture. Top with sliced mozzarella & ricotta cheeses, olive oil, and pecorino romano cheese. Bake the ziti covered with aluminum foil (this is very important!!) for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and cook uncovered for remaining 15-20 minutes.

*Notes: Feel free to use any combination of meat: chuck, veal, pork, turkey (although if you are using turkey, I would recommend mixing it with a fattier meat like beef or pork so the dish doesn’t taste dry). If you want to go meatless, you can easily substitute with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and carrots. Also, same concept with the cheese. I sometimes mix goat cheese with ricotta, and it’s equally delicious. When in season, I add a handful of chopped basil leaves.