Log in

A Friday Night Dinner

I leave work at 6:15pm after some unforeseen delays in departure.
I suck it up; I feel good about the work I’ve done for the day.
My husband is on his way home. I only see him on the weekends right now.
Friday night downtime is sacred and delicious.We talk about our weeks.
We watch two awesome TED Talks.


I make dinner.

Sauteed Chicken with Rice and Peas
Start the rice in the rice cooker. Always add a little salt and olive oil.
3 chicken breasts – rinse in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Slice thin vertically.
Heat olive oil and butter in pan, enough to coat the bottom.
1 medium onion – slice thin. Add to pan and stir until onion is translucent. Don’t burn!
Add chicken and 1 c. chicken or vegetable broth. Stir occasionally. Add 1 tsp salt, some fresh ground pepper, and juice from ½ a lemon. Stir and let the broth reduce.
Prepare peas (steamer for frozen; sauce pan for canned).
Plate the rice, add chicken, add peas.

I serve dinner. I wait for work phone calls and texts.
Husband goes to bed with a full tummy and kisses. I write my journal.
Cooking is fun. I love my kitchen. And leftovers are yummy.
Happy Friday.

As I slide into this year of turning 50, it is an opportunity for me to make time for some hobbies I have always loved, and maybe along the way, find new some new ones. I love to cook. I love to write. Time to journal again about food and cooking and meals, and with whom I choose to share those moments.

Today was a rainy Saturday, and I don’t recall having one of these at all this summer. Not a whole day, anyway. So it feels like summer is ending, and fall is on its way. But not officially until September 21st. Summer is my favorite season. And although I am no way ready for pumpkins and cinnamon, I’ve also had my fill of tomatoes from the backyard, corn on the cob, and cantaloupe. The next two weeks are a time of reflection and slowly easing into the next season with all of its harvest glory.

I spent today with some wonderful women. My entire drive home was me feeling tired, wanting to crash in front of the TV, and hoping C made dinner. He did not. For some reason, I had parmesan chicken on my mind, so I looked up the Barefoot Contessa. I know she is famous for her recipe, and it is really easy. I made it, along with the fresh greens in Lemon Vinaigrette that she recommends. SO Good! One of my favorite parts of cooking is looking up a recipe and knowing I have all the ingredients. It makes me feel like I know something about the necessary staples one needs in one’s pantry.

This is absolutely a recipe to cook over and over. I cut it in half, as I was only cooking three chicken breasts. I am sure the one leftover will be gone before bed time.


4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter

Good olive oil

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry

Lemon Vinaigrette
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Sunday in April- a meal for me

It's been a great Sunday. Warm, warm weather and much-needed sunshine.
This morning, I had my coffee and finished my book on the back patio. Chatted with the neighbors. Had a second cup.
Late morning, I was rather lazy. I took stock of the master bedroom that I'm re-doing. I did some laundry. I played my favorite computer game.
At 1:30, I pulled a 45-minute volunteer shift at The Colonial Theatre. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was the Sunday Classic today.
But I didn't stay to watch it. I had other things to do on this beautiful afternoon.
So I rode 25 miles on the Chester Valley Trail, finishing up at Malvern Wegman's for light grocery shopping and a big drink of water.
I stopped for gas. I came home and did laundry. I put the tax stuff in view so I am sure to mail it tomorrow.
Then, it was dinner time.
I burned a lot of calories today, and I wanted a very good dinner. I wanted to relax and repose on this lovely Sunday evening, with the windows open and the daffodils and tulips in bloom.
So, sauteed chicken, raviolis with vodka sauce, and a spinach salad. Most definitely more calories than I burned, but so be it.
I have lunch for tomorrow. Dishes are done. Game of Thrones was awesome.
Perhaps two Oreo cookies before bed time.
I am really not good at cooking meat on the stove top. I struggle with chicken, hamburgers, steak, etc. I know I keep the heat too high on the gas burners, but other than that, I just can't master it.
This recipe is simple and delicious. I cut a chicken breast into thirds. I heated olive oil and a little butter in a pan. The chicken started to stick to the pan as soon as I put it in, so I added a little chicken broth, caper juice, lemon, salt, pepper. I lowered the heat and covered the pan.
Then I cooked the fresh ravioli (2 minutes in boiling water) and heated the vodka sauce.
The salad was fresh spinach dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a touch of lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
I timed this meal perfectly, and I was in front of the TV at 9pm for Game of Thrones. Still too late for dinner. And I should not eat at the coffee table. I will work on these habits. But I do love my living room.


I am going to sleep very well tonight.

spinach salad

main course

Winter Saturday Dinner

So, Winter has chosen to be forceful this year. In Pennsylvania, there have been mornings and afternoons of quiet beauty as the large snowflakes blew and fell. There have been cold, cold days and nights when I feel every single draft in my house. Scarves and gloves and hats. Walking carefully on the sidewalk, side-stepping the patches of ice that will not thaw.
Winter has chosen to be heard this year in southeastern Pennsylvania, among other places, of course.  Or perhaps I am choosing to hear it. I like the quiet of an evening when the snow is coming and everyone is inside. I like that quiet on a Saturday afternoon, too.

On this, another weekend day of snow this month, I decided to make something fun for dinner. Among my cookbooks, I have a binder full of recipes that I've collected from magazines and emails, so I started there. I found these two, both from 2002-2004 Martha Stewart Living, and then decided to add Madeleines for dessert. A few years ago, my dear friend Gritta sent me the recipe and a silicone Madeleine cooking sheet for Christmas. A superb gift. I haven't made them in about a year. Tonight was the night. (The link below is not the one she sent me, but I can't find that one online. So it will be my secret recipe :-)

Also throughout this cooking extravaganza, I was (and still am) importing all of my CD's into iTunes (after the loss and fixing of my laptop's hard drive). How I am selecting what to import and in what order is for another post. Some of the first few: The Sweet and Lowdown soundtrack, Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald, Nick Drake, Rusted Root.

Tonight's Menu
Warm Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Salad
Risotto with Butter and Parmesean
Risotto with Butter and Parmesean

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (do not rinse)
1 cup dry white wine
3-4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Gently heat broth; keep warm.
risotto mise en place


I forgot to heat the broth. I wonder how much a difference that makes.

Add about 1/2 cup of warm broth. Cook, stirring frequently, until absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes total. The rice should be tender (but not mushy) and suspended in liquid with the consistency of heavy cream.


Remove pan from heat.Stir in Parmesan and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will continue to thicken as it sits).
I used inexpensive shaved Parmesan, which melted into a stringy mess. I also made the mistake of making the risotto first, not reading the "serve immediately" instructions until it was too late. I used my enameled 6-quart dutch oven, which was perfect for cooking it, then set it aside with the lid askew. On to the chicken....

Warm Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
2 whole boneless chicken breasts, skin on, split
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped fine
10 white mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
4 handfuls fresh baby or flat-leaf spinach, (8 to 10 ounces), stems cut

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Press a scant tablespoon parsley onto skin side of each breast. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place breasts, skin side down, in skillet; cook until golden, about 8 minutes per side.

I used skinless breasts and halved them. Usually, I trim all of the fat and cartilage from chicken breasts, but I left it intact since I didn't have the skins. I cooked them about 5 minutes per side.
chic  mise en place


Remove chicken from skillet, and transfer to a roasting pan. Place roasting pan in oven. Roast until chicken cooks through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, return skillet to stove. Add onion; cook, stirring, until just golden, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add wine; scrape skillet's bottom to release cooked-on juices. Cook until wine is almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar; cook 1 minute more. Stir in remaining parsley; season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; stir in butter.

This is the fun part! The onions and mushrooms were cooking nicely and smelled wonderful. I was stirring constantly, as the bottom of the pan started to brown. But as soon as I added the wine, magic! All of the brown goodness scraped right up, and the sauce began.

mushroom sauce
Remove chicken from oven. Place spinach on plates. Slice each breast into sixths; arrange over spinach. Spoon mushroom mixture over chicken, drizzling juices over spinach, and serve.

The risotto tasted okay at this point, but I had to warm it up. I set the dutch oven on high and added another cup of chicken stock, which worked well. The risotto warmed up and absorbed the stock quickly. It also evened the Parmesan.
This was a hearty meal, full of flavors, but they all worked together. Nothing overpowered anything else. The texture of the chicken with the raw spinach was lovely. Has I used chicken breasts with skins, they would have been a bit jucier. But it was delicious and satisfying.

Served with bread and Madeleines for dessert.
dinner closeup

dinner table

madeleines mise en place


A good evening in the kitchen. A memorable candle-lit meal with my husband. Leftovers. A really nice snow day all around. And I think my kitchen is my favorite room in the house. If I have to choose....
recipe stand

my stove


Not sure how this is going to turn out. I love this Tilapia from Wegman's, pre-packaged individual frozen filets. They thaw quickly and are really delicious. I'm not in the mood, nor hungry enough, to make sides of rice and spinach as I had originally intended, so I opted to do something a little different with the fish. Usually, I will just saute them up in butter and olive oil with Panko crumbs.
Tonight, I lined a pan with foil, poured a very small bit of live oil in it, and laid the two filets on top, swirling them around to coat the bottom with the oil. I spread a little baba ganoush on the top of each, then spread sliced cherry tomatoes and a variety of Greek olives on top. Finish off with some fresh squeezed lemon, salt and pepper. I'm baking them uncovered at 350. Not sure how long.
Also in the oven is a Take & Bake LaBrea French dinner roll.
OMG, it's delicious! Would be better if the tomatoes were roasted just a bit longer. But very good!
Sometimes fish is just perfect with salt, pepper and lemon. Sometimes you want to spice it up. This worked. Yum.


Beef Short Ribs

For as badly as I want to cook more, to eat healthier, and to make dinner a daily time of repose and reflection, it is not fun to cook for one person. It is less fun to eat dinner alone. Especially after being house-bound for two days due to snow and ice. I ate my dinner tonight in front of Homeland (catching up on season 3), in the living room, over the coffee table. Sigh.

But I will try to cook more, write more, eat healthier, and make dinner a time of repose and reflection. I have habits I want to change. I've read it takes 28 days to change habits. I do not do well with delayed gratification.

Yesterday, I found a 1.67 lb pack of beef short ribs in the freezer. The chefs on Top Chef make braised short ribs all the time. They seem to be an all-around favorite for both cooking and eating. I checked several recipes online and opted for this one, as I had limited ingredients and needed to improvise.

I substituted 12 oz of Bourdeaux for the beer, and 1 cup of chicken broth for the beef broth. I didn't have beef broth, and Tom Colicchio's recipe calls for chicken broth, so why not? (

I was hesitant to use the dutch oven and only cook the meat for 2 hours. But I wanted to do something different from the crock-pot. The wine was a good idea. The sauce was rich and savory, like Boeuf Bourguignon. I cooked the ribs on low heat for about 3 hours total. I made my favorite smashed potatoes (boiled cubed potatoes smashed with butter, salt and a little milk), and a spinach salad (baby spinach, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, croutons). The only thing missing was a crusty baguette to sop up all the juice. I can do that with the leftovers.

It was a very good meal. Homeland was an okay episode. Had I started earlier, I would have made chocolate cupcakes to finish things off. I guess I'll save that for the leftovers, too.

While short ribs are fun to cook and experiment with, they are not my favorite. A good wintry meal, for sure, if they happen to be in the freezer. But I can't eat a hearty beef dish too many nights in a row. I love pot roast,
Boeuf Bourguignon, these ribs... in small quantities or special occasions. We'll see how well I do on the leftovers.

Simple Beef Short Ribs (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/simple-beef-short-ribs/)
1 pound beef short ribs
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil           
1 tablespoon butter

1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle stout beer
1 cup beef stock

Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour until coated. Shake off the excess flour.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the ribs until browned on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet; cook and stir until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Return the ribs to the skillet and pour in the beer. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, until all of the browned bits have mixed in with the liquid. Pour in the beef stock, cover and simmer over low heat until very tender, about 2 hours.

Short Ribs PicsCollapse )

And here are the pictures I could finally upload from Thursday's soup. Delicious!!
Soup PicsCollapse )


Tonight I am closing up Christmas and making soup. I think soup is magic. Soup starts with water. Add ingredients, add more water, add herbs, more water, add whatever you want, and more water.(Yes, I’m counting chicken and beef stock as water.) Magic. A meal is created. Serve hot, topped with cheese or more herbs or a sprinkle of this or that for garnish. Serve with a baguette and salad. A perfect way to end another cold day of winter.  Freeze the rest or package for lunches. Soup.

I love soup. I love a really hearty, vegetable-filled beef soup.

I want to spend these next two cold months making soups. The long, dark tea time of the soul - January and February, early March. The Christmas decorations are down and packed away. There is 4-8 inches of snow falling tonight. I have one more day of vacation and one weekend, then I am back to work. With a lunch pail of soup and ready to start 2014.

I started tonight with this recipe:


But seriously, why do you need a slow cooker for all canned vegetables? Canned potatoes??? I don’t get it. So here’s how I did it:

28 oz can generic crushed tomatoes (which looked more like tomato puree, but it works)

1 lb soup bone from Forks Farm (http://www.forksfarmmarket.com/)

Put both in the slow cooker

Add four carrots, sliced thin

Add four potatoes, between diced/cubed

Add two onions, diced

The can of tomatoes was thick, so I needed to add more liquid. I didn’t care for the “beef with onion soup mix” in the recipe, and I didn’t have any beef stock, so I heated 3 cups of water to a boil and added 3 bouillon cubes. Whisk until dissolved. I’m not a fan of the bouillon cube, but as I am cooking more, I see there is a place for them in the pantry. Back-up, if you will. I just don’t understand them. How is it better to get that flavor from a cube as opposed to cooking down some meat? Easier, I guess. But can’t I do that some other way?

All of this is in the crock-pot as I write tonight. Tomorrow the magic happens. I have a quart of Lancaster corn (put up and frozen this Summer), a can of Green Giant kitchen-cut green beans (I love that they show a kitchen-cut on the label), and a can of Green Giant sweet peas. I have a can of dark red kidney beans that I may throw in.

I’m posting this tonight even though tomorrow is when the critical cookery commences.

The recipe calls for adding all of the canned juice. But I already added water/beef stock. So I will add the canned vegetables slowly and purposefully. The only spices I added thus far are a few grinds of course pepper and some kosher salt. I want to see how it tastes tomorrow morning, then may add some dried green herbs.

More tomorrow….

Side note: These amazingly fun ice orbs from Sur de Table are a fun plus from anything between a cocktail to a glass of water. A snow ball may serve the same purpose.

And why can't I upload photos tonight?? How can one post a cooking journal without pictures?

ice orb

Summer Sunday Dinner 6-30-13

I have to have this written and posted before 9pmTrue Blood. A favorite Summertime indulgence.

So tonight I am cooking for myself, and the menu is sauteed chicken, corn on the cob, and peas. Maybe ice cream fro dessert.

For the chicken, I heated some unsalted butter, a bit of virgin olive oil, sage (crushed in my mortar), crushed garlic scapes, sea salt and pepper in a small frying pan on medium heat. As soon as the butter was melted, I added the chicken, and tossed periodically.

I set the water for the corn and peas to boil (separate pots), and cleaned up the kitchen. It’s an effort. My typical MO is to trash the kitchen while cooking and clean up in one fell swoop, after eating.

I got the corn from Wegman’s this afternoon. The display was irresistible. Just inside the front entrance. Lots of people picking and choosing. I didn’t even look to see where it’s from. I know I can get oodles of delicious corn in Lancaster, in about 3 weeks. But I decided not to wait.

The peas are from the Kimberton CSA, hand-picked on a hot Tuesday evening. I remember shelling peas from way back on my grandparents’ farm. Summer hours spent on the porch with my Mom and all of my aunts. A really nice memory. A really nice way to spend time on a hot, summer night. Of course you shell peas in the evening, when all the other chores are done. So I picked as many as I could. The bounty was ample. Then I got home and shelled them. Huh… not such a great serving. Well, enough for one. And those are my peas with tonight’s dinner. I actually had to Google how to cook them. Sugar and snow peas are easy. They are delicious raw. Sweet. What do you do with these little nuggets? See below.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. While the water is heating, remove the peas from their pods and place in a bowl. When the water reaches a boil, add some salt and the peas. You are just going to cook them for a very short time. Don't leave the stove. Somewhere between ten and thirty seconds. You want them just barely tender, so they still pop in your - mouth, no mushy overcooked peas please. Quickly drain. Return the peas to a bowl with a dollop of butter and a sprinkling of salt.

Summer is the very best time for food. Especially if you belong to a CSA J

photo 3
photo 4

Aug. 5th, 2012

A whole bunch of tomatoes
5 yellow squash and zucchini (any combination), rough cut
5 small carrots, diced
2 green peppers, diced
3 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
Kalamata olives, 3T diced
Dried marjoram, basil, and oregano
Crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
Olive oil

Prepare the mise en place of squash, carrots, peppers, onion, garlic, and herbs.
Skin the tomatoes by boiling them for five minutes then submersing them in an ice bath until cool to the touch. The skin will peel away easily. Peel and set aside in a colander so excess water drains.
Heat olive oil and add onions and garlic. Stir occasionally until onions are translucent.
Add tomatoes and two pinches of salt. Mash tomatoes and stir. Add carrots and peppers and let simmer and reduce.
Stir frequently. Add 2 tsp oregano, 2 tsp basil, 1 tsp marjoram, salt to taste. Stir some more. Add salt, herbs to taste and olives. Stir. Add squash and more herbs/salt to taste. Stir occasionally and let simmer.

fruit and fiestaware

bounty tomatoes

bounty peppers

mise en place

sauce prep 2

sauce simmering 2

sauce simmering

sauce done

A Wednesday Dinner

After a long and rather boring day at work, and a not-so-great week in general, I found myself daydreaming this afternoon of something exciting for dinner. I needed it. Needed to look forward to some deliciousness. My best two ideas were a smorgasbord of favorite Wegmans treats or take-out Mexican from Los Mariachis, conveniently located a half block from home. After work, I had to stop for half-and-half, so I decided to pick something up to cook instead of Idea 1 or 2. Glad I did J

Tonight’s menu: Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin, roasted pesto potatoes, salad with lettuce and spinach, rosemary & olive oil artisan bread

Pork marinade: (adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/herb-marinated-pork-tenderloins-recipe/index.html)
Grated zest from one lemon
Juice from two lemons
½ c olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of fresh rosemary from the herb garden (still alive and thriving after this winter)
Handful of fresh thyme, same as above
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and salt in a sturdy 1-gallon sealable plastic bag. Add the pork tenderloin and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Unfortunately, I only had 2 hours for marinating. Will try to plan ahead more in the future.

Potatoes: I diced six potatoes and put them in a bowl. I added about 4T of homemade pesto, 1T avocado honey (as the pesto was a bit bitter), 1T olive oil, a little kosher salt and some cracked pepper. Mixed it all up, put it in a covered baking dish and into the oven.

Salad: The usual – a handful of lettuce, another of spinach, and tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and cracked pepper.

It was a yummy meal, and a lovely evening spent in the kitchen. Soul soothing, to be sure. And Chris did the dishes :-)

Best garlic device ever (thanks, JP :-)

Two favorite kitchen items

Pork ready for the oven

Potato Prep



Latest Month

September 2015



RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Jamison Wieser