Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Chicken Marsala. Sometime I feel really good at cooking

This might have been one of the best things I’ve ever made. Seriously, after I served it and we were eating, I wouldn’t shut up about how good it was. Well really Emeril is and I just copied him.

After my new found love for mushrooms, I had been wanting to try making chicken marsala pretty badly. The process started with me aimlessly trying to find marsala wine in the liquor section of whole foods. After some searching, I successfully found it without asking for help, which probably just left me looking more lost and helpless then if I had just immediately got assistance.

This recipe is super easy and so well seasoned. Maybe too well seasoned, but I like it. It calls for some of Emeril’s essence, basically a mixture of spices he concocted and trademarked as his own. This stuff is good though. The recipe calls for you to make way too much. So I have leftovers, which surely won’t be to waste.

Here is the recipe:

Chicken Marsala


- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
- 2 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in halves and pounded thin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 cups sliced mushrooms (cremini, oyster, shiitake)
- 3/4 cup Marsala
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped chives, for garnish
- Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
- 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme

1. First create the Essence by combining all ingredients. It makes about 2/3 cup and you won’t use all of it.
2. In a shallow bowl or plate combine the flour and Essence and stir to combine thoroughly.
3. Dip the chicken breast halves in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking to remove any excess flour.
4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking.
5. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook the chicken breasts until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
6. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
7. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter to the pan and add the mushrooms.
8. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are golden brown at the edges and have given off their liquid.
9. Add the Marsala wine and bring to a boil, scraping to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
10. When the wine has reduced by half, add the chicken stock and cook for 3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
11. Lower the heat to medium and return the chicken breasts to the pan and continue to cook until they are cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, add salt and pepper, to taste.
12. Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately.

For the real deal recipe, look here.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Annual Batch of Christmas Chex Mix

It has been called Christmas Crack before. People go crazy for it. I go crazy for it. My sis and I made it one year to give as Christmas gifts. In the process, we ate probably half of it and had to make another batch, so we actually had enough to give away. It is purely addicting and I can vouch for that from personal experience.

This time around I made it sans sister, which just isn't the same, but the result was just as good. I don't know why I had not posted this amazing and staple recipe in my life until now, but better late then never! The original recipe came from Nestle Tollhouse Swirl Morsels. They no longer make these, which is quite sad, but Christmas M&M's are a good stand in. 
Here's the recipe for our:

Caramel Popcorn Chex Mix

- 9 cups toasted corn cereal
- 4 cups popped popcorn
- 1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 (10 ounce) package of morsels of some sort (If you go back in time to 2008, you can use the pretty Nestle Swirl Morsels)
- 1 (6 ounce) package dried sweetened cranberries


1. Preheat the over to 250°F
2. Grease a large roasting pan.
3. Mix cereal, popped popcorn and nuts in roasting pan.
4. In a medium saucepan combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup.
5. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
6. Boil, without stirring, for 5 minutes.
7. Remove from heat and immediately stir in vanilla extract and baking soda.
8. Pour evenly over cereal mixture; stir to coat evenly.
9. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
10. Cool completely. Then stir in morsels and cranberries.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

I do really like soup, but I feel every time I have made one from scratch (not counting chili is good!), I am not completely satisfied with how it comes out. It will be edible, but I won't look forward to having the leftovers. I have had a theory that soup taste better the longer it cooks and marinades. Soups made in a crock pot are probably best, but this soup has proved me wrong. In about 40 minutes, you are eating a flavorful bowl! 

Here's the recipe for Tuscan Vegetable Soup:

- 1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium canellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
- 2 cups of frozen spinach
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional


1. In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.
2. Defrost spinach in a microwave safe bowl.
3. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
4. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the broth and tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Add the mashed and whole beans and spinach and cook for about 3 more minutes.
6. Serve topped with Parmesan.
Original recipe can be found here.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Everything taste better in a jar

Mom and I are obsessed with Undercover Cupcakes from Cookie Confidential in Philly. Today we made our very own copycat versions!

I love drinking out of mason jars. Everything always seems to taste better in a jar! So why not put a cupcake inside one? Genius, right? Such a lovely presentation AND it allows for extra layers of frosting which helps fill my motto: the more frosting, the better!


1. Bake up any cupcakes of your choice.
2. After they have cooled, cut each cupcake in half horizontally. You will be using 1.5 cupcakes in each jar.
3. Prepare your favorite frosting and get it ready to pipe out. (You could also just spread it, but I found to get down deep into the jar it was easier to aim with the tip of a bag.)
4. Place your first layer of cake in the jar and pipe a layer of frosting on top.
5. Repeat process two more times.
6. Voila perfectly pretty jar filled cupcakes.

Monday, December 2, 2013

You know you are a cornbread fanatic when.....

These 3 events happen within a span of a week.

Sidecar Bar is my new favorite place in Philly. Because of this:

One of my favorite place to get cornbread is Whole Foods. They sell slabs out that you pay for by weight. While in NYC, I might have worked above a Whole Food and bought these on a daily basis. BUT to this day I have never had such a thrill as this:

Cranberry Cornbread!?!?!?!?! It's amazing! And only Philly is so lucky to have it!!!

I got home after Thanksgiving weekend and well whipped this up:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spinach Pesto

This girl loves pesto, but sometimes you can’t get your hands on basil. Spinach is a staple I usually have around. I saw a recipe using spinach instead of basil. Nothing can really compare to the real deal, but this is a pretty tasty alternative.

Spinach Pesto
 - 2  cups fresh spinach well-washed and stemmed 
- 1/2 cup pine nuts toasted
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley or italien seasoning

1. Place all ingredients into food processor and process to a fine paste.
2. Mix into warm pasta or to use for later transfer into a container and pour a little olive oil on top to prevent browning.

Recipe can be found here.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

When I paid a visit to my lovely friend Lauren out in Portlandia she made this dinner and it was to die for. Tonight I re-enacted this meal of Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Sautéed Kale. It was just as good as I remembered it and super easy to make.

This was actually my first time buying and preparing a Portobello. I am just now opening up to mushrooms more. Not that I disliked them before. I just feel like they have a pretty plain taste. You really have to doctor them up, but doctored up like this, can’t go wrong.

Here’s the recipe:

Lauren’s Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms


1 Portobello Mushroom
1/2 cup onion chopped
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut the stem off the mushroom and chop it up.
3. Put the head of the mushroom on a baking dish and drizzle with vinegar and oil.
4. Sauté the onion in oil and season with salt and pepper.
5. Mid-way through add in the chopped stem.
6. Once cooked, add breadcrumbs and stir together.
7. Pour mixture on top of mushroom head.
8. Bake for 20 minutes.

(This is for one serving. If you have company double it up!)

It comes out nice and tender and marinated! I paired this with sautéed kale and a big chunk of skillet cornbread.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Crispy Clustered Granola.....Good for snacking!

I really like some of the batches of granola I've made over the years, but I have never made a recipe that resulted in big clusters in the mix. When I'm snacking on granola, I love a good cluster. It is just easier to grab and munch. And aside from eating it for breakfast, I have been snacking on granola, a lot. Carbo loading I guess.

Today I decided to try making a batch with Rice Crispie Cereal in the mix as well. I also read about a method of adding in an egg white for the last ten minutes of baking to help clump the mixture together. This did help some cluster to form woohoo! But I think the one egg white was not enough to mix in with the amount of granola I had so it wasn't all clustery.

Here is today's recipe:

Crispy Clustered Granola

- 4 cups of Rice Crispie Cereal
- 3 cups of Rolled Oats
- 1 cup chopped Almonds
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 egg white

1. Preheat the over to 275 degrees
2. Combine cereal, oats, nuts, seeds, and baking powder and set aside.
2. Combine oil, honey and sugar in a small sauce pan and heat on medium to low heat until sugar dissolves.
3. Add salt to liquid mixture and then pour over dry mixture and combine.
4. Spread sticky mixture on a sheet pan and bake for an hour.
5. Make sure to stir occasionally. I give the mixture a little stir every 15 minutes.
6. When only ten minutes are left, pour an egg white over the granola and mix to spread it over as much of the granola as possible, then put the pan back in for the last ten minutes to cook.


7. After it has cooled add any fruit mixtures you would like to throw in. Today I went with raisins!

Snack on!

Friday, March 22, 2013

You can make Homemade Cheese?!?

My sister is the best present giver. This year she turned into a mind reader. Awhile back my friend Amanda had made homemade cheese and posted about it and I was obsessed with this concept and really wanted to try myself. I never told my sis, but for Christmas this is what I had waiting under the tree.

YES! And while making cheese, I had great tunes to listen to. For my birthday she got me the greatest speaker on the planet, which I just so happened to have pinned on pinterest and she didn't even know. She just saw a weird ceramic bear and thought of me!

 So on to the cheese making.

Here is the recipe courtesy of the DIY Cheese Kit:

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

1/2 cup cool water
1 tsp citric acid
1 gallon milk
1 tsp cheese salt

Other tools:
Large pot (5 quarts or larger)
Cooking thermometer
Fine Cheesecloth

1. Pour water into a small bowl and stir in citric acid
2. Pour milk into large pot and add citric acid solution and cheese salt and stir well.

3. Set the pot over medium heat and gently check the bottom of the pot with a spoon every 2 minutes or so, so there is no scorching. Avoid stirring as much as possible to allow curds to form. If the milk seems to be sticking, reduce the heat. Heat the milk to 180-185 degrees.
4. As soon as the curds and why separate clearly (you will see white curds floating in yellow whey when you move the curds), turn of the heat. Let stand, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.

5. Line a colander with cheesecloth then carefully pour the curds and whey into the colander. Drain until the cheese reaches the desired consistency, 15 to 30 minutes. To expedite the process, gently lift the cheese cloth by the corners and rock the curds around.
Here are my tidbits on the whole process. This is a lot of work and you need a helper. I was impatient waiting for the curds to form. I may have stirred too much, but it did come out just fine. The draining took a long time to not have a really watery cheese. I feel like the cheese cloth got all clogged with cheese at a point and nothing more was draining. We finally got it to the right consistency, but ended up using a fine mesh colander we have.

The cheese was delightful and I was pleased with the result after all that work! This is what I did with my cheese.

Roasted Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza

1 pizza dough (I bought a TJ's Whole Wheat)
3/4 cup of homemade ricotta cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Half a package of fresh baby spinach
1 cup sliced red pepper
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped onions
balsamic vinegar
olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375. (Usually you put the oven at 450 for the pizza stone, but that would be too hot for the veggies)
2. Sprinkle oil, salt and pepper over pepper and mushrooms on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 375 for about 20 minutes.
3. Saute onions in olive oil until cooked. Add in balsamic vinegar and removed from heat.
4. Saute spinach in olive oil quickly. It doesn't need much since it will also get to cook in the oven.
5. Raise the temperature up to 450.
6. Stretch the dough out.
7. First sprinkle down the mozzarella.
8. Then add spinach, peppers, mushrooms, and balsamic glazed onions.
9. Finally dollop ricotta cheese on top and spread around.
10. Cook for roughly 18 minutes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Iron Skillet to add to my Cornbread tools

So my family really likes to feed my cornbread obsession. For my birthday my mom got me an Iron Skillet. I finally cooked my first batch in it. It came out amazing! And I didn't use creamed corn. I actually used the first recipe I ever tried....back in college with Devin. This was the attempt that came out horrible and was thrown out. It still perplexes me what went wrong. I really feel like the baking powder had gone bad maybe.

Well my mom used this recipe and said it came out great, so I nervously gave it a whirl myself. It is a simple recipe. It is made with only a small amount of sugar. I added a little extra, but didn't go crazy and I still like it. 

Here's the recipe:

Skillet Cornbread

1 cup flour

¾ cup cornmeal

3 heaping tablespoons sugar

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs beaten

1 cup milk

¼ vegetable oil


1. Preheat oven to 400F. I
2. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. Add the 1 tablespoon butter to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Place in the preheated oven about 3 minutes or until butter melts.

4. Remove pan from oven; swirl butter in pan to coat bottom and sides of pan.

5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine eggs, milk, and oil.

6. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.

7. Pour batter into hot skillet or pan.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes.

(Recipe Courtesy of Better Homes and Garden Cookbook)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Laying Low

I haven't posted in ages. It is not that I haven't been cooking, but I haven't made anything new and fabulous. Just a lot of my staples. My life has been consumed by running. Marathon training has really taken a lot out of me. It has been going really great though and I'm really pumped for Boston.

I have been making what I know just because it takes less thought and prep. Lots of granola. I've made Irish Brown Bread, 2 more times since I posted about it. Made homemade Chili, Veggie Burgers. I did take a pic of my black bean burger which came out just as amazing as the last time I made them!

Anyways, I am alive. 4 more weeks!

Monday, January 7, 2013

On the hunt for a moist cornbread........

I love cornbread.

I think it is a national known fact. I used to buy squares from Whole Foods on a daily basis when I worked above one. I have made it from scratch a million times. Each time I was left just mediocrely happy. That isn't a word, I know, but it fits here.

Well on Thanksgiving I made an announcement to my family that I would no longer be trying to make cornbread from scratch because my roommate made a batch from a box and it was to die for and super moist. I vowed I would just stick to boxes from now on.

Then Christmas happened and I got this:

So I am back in the kitchen trying again.

This was the biggest success yet, so I guess Crescent Dragonwagon knows her stuff. (The author of the book with the weirdest name on the planet.) Her book is kind of an overload of cornbread information. As if I wasn't already overwhelmed with the abundance of variation of recipes online, now I have a whole book of them. So for my first go at one of her recipes, I actually altered it and didn't stick to the plan.....She has a whole chapter on Southern Cornbread and another on Northern Cornbread. I know Southern always complain about us Northerners, but guess what? I'm from the North, so I like my cornbread sweet.

My pursuit has always been to find a recipe that comes out moist. My new idea was to make one that called for creamed corn. I feel like zucchini bread and carrot cake come out moist and they have a vegetable in them, so having corn in it sounded like it might be the trick. The thing is that I don't like whole kernels of corn in my bread. The recipe didn't call for pureeing the creamed corn, but I would recommend it if you don't want any stray corn in your bread. Creamed corn I think is the trick. After all different combos of butter, oil, cream, milk and not getting a moist result, I found the secret ingredient!

Here is the recipe:

Creamed Corn Cornbread

- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup creamed corn
- 1 cup milk (I used 1%)
- 1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Put the butter in the pan and put the pan in the oven.
3. Combine the dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the creamed corn, milk and egg.
5. Combine the dry and wet ingredient. Stir together to combine, but don't over mix it.
6. Remove pan and pour warm butter into the mix.
7. Stir the butter in and then pour the mixture into the hot pan.
8. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees.
9. Bake for roughly 25 minutes.

I alway have to try a piece warm, but cornbread taste way better cool or the next day.