Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chicken with Pepperoni Sauce

As I prepare to take my vacation, I've been trying to work through ingredients that I already had to avoid going to the grocery store and spending money on food that would likely go bad during my absence. This recipe requires few ingredients and is extremely easy to make. I made this for my parents during their visit and they commented that it would be a good meal for my brother and his wife to make, since they are short on time with the baby. I think they're right. This would be a great meal for a busy family, especially one with kids because there isn't really anything in this meal that a picky kid wouldn't like.

Chicken with Pepperoni Sauce (serves 4)


  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 16 slices pepperoni, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 TB chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


Preheat broiler to high.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

Serve over pasta with a green salad.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Food Porn: Pretty Plates at Maple

I love a pretty plate. There can be a real art to plating a meal in a nice restaurant and I'm always appreciative of a place that does it well.

This past weekend, my parents visited me here in Washington, DC. I've lived here nearly 9 years so anymore, the only new thing I introduce them to in this city (besides the random new memorial or museum) is new cuisine and local restaurants. On recent visits, I've helped them expand their sushi tastes beyond the basic tuna roll, and they are usually good to just let me order for them. We had another meal like that this weekend at Jaleo, but the purpose of this blog post is to review some pretty plated food at a newish restaurant in my neighborhood: Maple.  This intimate little restaurant boasts a beautiful bar made out of a slab of maple and an extensive list of wines.

I ordered the caprese salad, which boasted three beautiful, large, tomatoes, bigger than my fist. It really is a pretty plate and something I've made on this blog before.  I followed this up with a tagliatelle pasta with a lamb ragu sauce.

This dish was very flavorful and was plated topped high with thinly shredded parm cheese, topped with basil, olives and other vegetables. It tasted as good as it looked.

I will definitely go back to try one of the paninis on their menu. My only complaint is that despite the quaint, home-like atmosphere, the wait for attention at the bar (to get a drink menu, much less to order a drink) was far too long and the service at the table was marginally better. Hopefully they are still working out the kinks of being a relatively new restaurant on a busy block.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Orzo Chickpea Salad

This week I had made plans to go on a picnic on the National Mall to check out the renovated reflecting pool (the largest pool cleaning took two years!), but Mother Nature had other plans and literally rained on my picnic parade. So I decided to stick with the theme and have an indoor picnic with PB&J sandwiches, pasta salad, cheese, and brown butter oatmeal cookies.

I wish I had thought to take a photo of the entire spread, basket and all, but I completely forgot. However, the orzo pasta salad I had made lasted a few days afterward so I managed to snap a picture of that. Very refreshing and light pasta salad-perfect for a lunch or a picnic!

Orzo Chickpea Salad (serves 4)


  • 1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 3 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bottled minced garlic 


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Combine pasta, onions, cheese, dill, and chickpeas in a large bowl, tossing gently to combine.

Combine juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Park City Cashew Chicken

I am always one for trying something new when it comes to cooking. I like fusion restaurants, combining Latin ingredients with a dash of Asian flair, and other combinations that might not sound like a good idea in the beginning, but turn out beautifully. This recipe, from my Rachel Ray's 365 No Repeats cookbook, takes some of the basic ingredients for a cashew chicken stir fry but mixes in sweet flavors. I find that I've been using a lot of maple syrup in recipes lately (oh so much more than a pancake topping!), however this is one example where I think the original, your standard asian-style cashew chicken, is superior. You be the judge. 

For the record, the recipe says this serves 4, but I think it's more like 6. Or I've gotten really good at portion control in recent months.

Park City Cashew Chicken (serves 4-6)


  • 3 TB vegetable oil
  • TB unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, 1/4 finely chopped, 3/4 thinly sliced
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 lb chicken meat (tenders; skinless, boneless breasts; skinless, boneless thighs), cut into 2-inch pieces       
  • TB grill seasoning blend, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning blend by McCormick
  • 2 - 3 TB soy sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 10 - 12 water chestnuts, sliced or chopped
  • TB canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped, or 1 1/2 TB ground chipotle powder
  • TB ground cumin
  • 2 - 3 TB honey
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 - 3 TB cilantro or parsley leaves (a handful), chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil (1 turn of the pan) and the butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the chopped onion and cook for 2 minutes, then add the rice and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the chicken stock and cover the pot. Raise the heat and bring the stock to a rapid boil. Once the stock boils, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 18 minutes.

While the rice cooks, make the chicken. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Season the chicken with the grill seasoning. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (2 turns of the pan) and then the chicken. Brown the chicken on both sides, season with the soy sauce, then move the chicken to 1 side of the pan. Add the sliced onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the water chestnuts and green peas, and mix the vegetables and chicken together. Add the chipotle chiles and cumin. Toss to coat. Glaze the chicken mixture with the honey and maple syrup and turn off the heat. Add the chopped cilantro or parsley (whichever you prefer) and the cashews.

Spoon the rice into bowls, top with the cashew chicken and serve.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Greek Pasta Salad

This week we had a staff retreat at work and I thought this would be a good opportunity to make a pasta salad recipe I usually reserve for large parties, baby showers, etc. It makes a solid amount of food, and I'm always asked for the recipe afterward.

Greek Pasta Salad (serves 10-12)


  • 1 box of bow-tie pasta, uncooked
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 1/4 cup Feta crumbled cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can of drained canned chickepeas, rinsed
  • 3/4-1 cup Greek Vinaigrette dressing


Cook pasta as directed, drain. Place in large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients, mix lightly.
Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
I find this usually holds for a day or so if you have leftovers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sweet Corn Salsa

This past weekend, the best team in the NFL (the Steelers in case you didn't know) played their first game of the regular season. Sadly, it did not end well as they didn't stick their neck out there as much as Peyton Manning did (yes, bad joke completely intentional), but I did end up having a great meal with some fellow foodie football fans. I made some regular favorites, sticky asian chicken wings and buffalo bread, but I also made my first salsa! This was adapted from a recipe on my friend's blog, The end result was far more sweet than spicy, but it tasted great!

Sweet Corn Salsa (serves a party and some)


  • 4 ears fresh corn, roasted
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 chopped poblano pepper
  • 2 jalapenos, diced
  • 3/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup bottled lime juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1  tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


To make salsa, shuck corn and place under a broiler on high heat for about 3 minutes per side. Turn and continue to broil until corn is nicely charred. You can also grill the corn if you are so lucky to have a grill. I sadly do not.

Dice tomatoes, peppers, and onion and add to a large pot.

Once corn is charred, let cool until you can handle it, then slice the corn off the cob and add to pot with tomatoes and peppers. Add spices to pot along with vinegar, sugar, lime juice, and salt.

Bring salsa to a simmer and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it starts to reduce and thicken.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

California Turkey Burger

So this is a first...two sandwich posts in one week! But this is all part of the master plan of being economical and not wasting ingredients that can carry over into other recipes. This mainly was these wheat buns I used, but hey, my grandma taught me how to count my pennies. So no bread was harmed by prematurely being subjected to the garbage can.

Turkey burgers can be tricky to make them in a way that is flavorful and not too dried out. This recipe which is an oldie but a goodie from my friend Nick's blog ( accomplishes this feat by adding some vegetables and herbs into the ground turkey mix and adding sliced avocado on top. I'm not sure why I resisted avocado for so long because it is my far one of my favorite ingredients this year. I also tried out the super thin-sliced cheese Sargento recently started marketing and it was just the right amount of cheese to add some flavor, without approximately 1/3 of the fat of a regular slice. How Cali of me.

California Turkey Burger (makes 3, 4-oz burgers)



  • 12 oz ground turkey
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • Handful of parsley, minced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 oz Cheddar cheese (or your favorite)
  • Ciabatta rolls, I used wheat since that is what I had leftover
  • Avocado
  • Greens, I used arugula since that's what I had leftover


Mince onions, parsley, garlic, and pepper. Mix with ground turkey along with salt and pepper. Form 3 patties with turkey mixture.

Grill over high heat for 5-6 minutes per side. Once the burger is just about cooked, add cheese to burger.

Grill buns until lightly charred.

Assemble burger with sliced avocado, mayo/mustard or whatever you normally like on your burgers, and greens!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Warm Lemon Chicken Sandwich with Arugula and Pears

I love meals that can be repurposed and presented in different ways for later iterations. For instance, since most times I'm cooking for myself, I'll end up with four or more meals' worth of leftovers but let's admit, eating the same leftovers day after day get old. Sometimes I freeze some of it to be brought out at a later date, and other times I try a simple repurpose. For this recipe, which is a Rachel Ray recipe I tried last year during my year of new recipes, is great on a bun, but also works without it on a salad. I also put this in a pita at one point. So it's been the same basic meal for a week, but the small variations made it a little less boring, but equally tasty!

Warm Lemon Chicken Sandwich with Arugula and Pears (makes 4 sandwiches)



  • 2 lemons
  • 2 TB fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 TB Dijon mustard
  • 2 TB white wine vinegar
  • 5 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 TB grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 4 kaiser rolls, split
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 ripe bartlett pear ( Anjou or Bosc)
  • 8 slices prosciutto di Parma
  • 2 -2 1/2 cups arugula, cleaned and trimmed


    In a shallow bowl, combine the juice of 1 ½ lemons, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add in the chicken breasts; toss to coat; marinate chicken 5-10 minutes.
    In a small bowl, mix the dijon mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper together; whisk in 3 tablespoons oil, then the Parmigiano.
    Toast the rolls; rub the toasted cut sides with the garlic clove.
    Preheat a big nonstick skillet over med-high heat; add remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
    Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side.
    Thinly slice the pear and toss in a salad bowl with the juice of the remaining ½ lemon.
    Slice the prosciutto into strips; add the arugula leaves and prosciutto to the salad bowl; toss with the vinaigrette (dijon mixture).
    Thinly slice the cooked chicken; layer half of the chicken slices onto the rolls and top with the arugula-pear salad; add remaining chicken and roll tops.

    Or screw the bun and just mix everything else together. :)