Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of 2010

It feels a little pretentious to be doing a "best of" post, seeing as how I've had this blog for just under a year...and there was a pretty big gap in the middle there with zero cooking/blogging. Also, who the hell do I think I am? A famous food blogger? As if, right? Still, everyone seems to be doing it, and I'm nothing if not a lemming. Plus, I'm the only one at work right now, and I really feel like it's time to "take a break" from what has obviously been a super productive day.

So here goes! A collection of what I think have been my most successful and delicious creations in the kitchen, and things that will continue to have a presence in my eating life:

Monkey Bread (Feb 2010)

Maybe I'm a little biased about this one, since it was my first, and arguably most successful, attempt at handling yeast. Still, no one can deny that this monkey bread was sinfully delicious. Just look at it! Gooey, tongue-tickling cream cheese icing; sweet, cinnamon-y puffs of warm bread drenched in caramelized brown sugar...Not to toot my own horn, but...drool.

Even if Smriti hadn't requested these for her birthday, I probably would have made them for myself at some point. Carrot cake is my favorite flavor of cake (yes, even more than chocolate), and this recipe really knocks it out of the park. The cakes are slightly crusty/crunchy on top, but super dense and chewy inside. Also, the fact that there are vegetables in it really helps justify the consumption of many many cupcakes in one sitting. Fiber is important, guys.

Caramel Cookie Sandwiches With Chocolate Ganache Filling (April 2010)

OK, so maybe I should have studied a little harder for my last set of law school finals. But if I hadn't decided to procrastinate, I would have never made these cookies sandwiches, and then where would we be? Caramel and chocolate have been a delicious combo since...forever...and these cookies were no exception. Chewy, slightly caramel-y cookies + rich ganache = awesome.

Oh, the memories associated with crepes...Well, now that I'm no longer an awkward 15 year old, I can finally enjoy these delicious treats. And when I say delicious, I mean delicious. If you think about it, the fruit and thin pancakes are really just vehicles for transporting Nutella into your mouth. And everyone can agree that Nutella is the best thing ever. 

This cake is not only on my "best of" list for 2010, but is probably the best cake I have ever made. Ever. Because: (1) I suck at making cakes with more than one layer; (2) I really struggle with frosting a cake, so I avoid doing it whenever possible -- ergo, not many cakes being made in Tina's Kitchen; and (3) this cake is just unbelievably delicious! Light and fluffy, and not cloyingly sweet like a lot of other birthday cakes. And the fresh fruit layered throughout really add something to the cake that no sugar roses ever could.

Braised Pork Ribs (November 2011)

Again, not to pat myself on the back too much, mom really got a pretty kick ass meal on her birthday. Just saying. Homemade dumplings, Chinese birthday cake, and these juicy, fall-off-the-bone braised pork ribs? I'm a great daughter, right? Right??? ;)

Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts (November 2010)

November was apparently a great month for cooking here at Casa del Tina, and these doughnuts were definitely a high note. Chewy and pillowy without the hassle (and calories) of frying, these were a very welcome addition to my brunch menu. Absolutely scrumptious dipped in freshly whipped, sweetened cream.

Crab Cakes (November 2010)

These were so good. How good? So good! In fact, I sneaked probably about two crab cakes' worth of batter while shaping/frying the cakes. Which, of course, inspired me to turn this into a dip, but there will be a post on that later. But just to confirm the awesomeness of these crab cakes, my friend Matt made them for himself a week or so ago, and pronounced them to be delicious.

Almost No-Bake Cheesecake (December 2010)

No baking and it's creamy and delicious? Yes, please. I really have to thank Kevin over at Closet Cooking for this one. There's not much else to say about this dessert other than...try it. Immediately.

Salt and Pepper Chicken (December 2010)

And, to round off a delicious year, we have Salt and Pepper Chicken. It was probably one of the fastest and easiest dishes I made all year, it was nostalgic, and it was scrumptious. Dan actually asked for leftovers the next day...and was very sad to learn that I had beaten him to the punch and eaten it all myself!

So concludes a year of good eats. Thanks to everyone on facebook (and beyond) who have been following my blog. It makes me feel good to know that I'm not just sending these posts out into a cyber void. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Salt and Pepper Chicken

Anyone who went to college in the Boston/Cambridge area has ordered from Quan's Kitchen at least once. Generous portions of greasy Chinese food, low prices, and delivery until 1am -- what more could a college kid want? Pulling an all-nighter to study for a test? Order some Quan's to keep your energy up. Hungry after a night of drinking with your friends? Greasy Chinese food cures hangovers. Tired of dining hall food? Q-U-A-N-S!

Quan's actually has pretty decent authentic Chinese food, but the majority of its young clientele are of the Kung Pao Chicken persuasion. Yuck. Dan used to be one of those people. Back when Dan was a Chinese food noob, he was a huge fan of the Orange Chicken at Panda Cafe. When he discovered Quan's, he loved the General Gao's Chicken. He eventually moved on to the Udon Noodles, and then finally settled into a long Salt and Pepper Chicken phase. In fact, after I graduated and moved away to start law school, Dan quickly fell into the habit of ordering SPC from Quan's multiple times per week, and sometimes twice a day. Delicious, yes. Healthy, no. Is he any fatter? No. Unfair!

Thankfully, since moving down here with me, Dan's eating habits have improved, largely because I am the Decider of Meals. But, even I still get the occasional Quan's craving, and after watching Dan gaze longingly at a fraternity brother's Salt and Pepper Chicken during our most recent visit up north, I decided to replicate the dish for him in our kitchen.

None of the recipes I found online seemed quite right, so I winged it. I chopped up a couple boneless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, dredged them in a flour/salt/pepper/garlic powder mixture, and pan-fried them in some olive oil. Result? Delicious! But not all were as crispy as they should be. I over-crowded the first batch in the pan, and the chicken took a long time to crisp up, and even then not by a whole lot. The second batch had room to breathe, and they not only cooked all the way through more quickly, but were also wonderfully crispy. Dan was a happy camper!

Salt and Pepper Chicken

Ingredients: (All measurements were eyeballed, so...good luck!)
- 4 thin boneless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces.
- 1 cup flour
- Salt + pepper + garlic powder to taste (I used probably 3 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp pepper, and 1 tbsp garlic)
- 2/3 cup olive oil

(1) In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder until well combined.
(2) Add chopped, raw chicken to the mixture, and toss until each piece is completely coated.
(3) Heat olive oil in skillet on high heat.
(4) Cook chicken in two or three batches, making sure not to crowd the pan.
(5) Cook until chicken is golden and crispy.
(6) Serve with a big bowl of fluffy white rice.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mushroom Tart

This post is kinda misleading because I did not cook a single meal this week. Yup. It's true. Zero. Cooking. We ate out 3 out of the 5 days, ordered in another day, and the rest of the time we ate leftovers. The tart you see here was actually last weekend -- I just forgot to post it. Oops.

The thing about phyllo dough is that it's the best thing ever. Seriously. It's pre-made, keeps for a long time, can be used in a billion different delicious ways, and is perfectly buttery and flaky in a way that few home-made doughs are. Every time I read one of my favorite blogs and I see a tart with a perfect crust, I scroll down to the ingredients and immediately feel gratified when I see that they used phyllo dough. It makes me feel so much better about my own struggle with making dough from scratch.

I originally made this tart in preparation for lunch with a college buddy that was in town for residency interviews. BUT, she is a jerk and decided to stay home and eat her mom's homemade Chinese food for lunch instead. How rude! Kidding, kidding.

In the end, the tart was devoured by me, Dan and Emily. The crust was flaky and buttery, the cheese was gooey and savory, and the mushrooms were fragrant and delicious. So good fresh out of the oven, and surprisingly still tasty the next day...even if the crust was a tad soggy.

Recipe** courtesy of the Kitchen Wench.

**Just a couple comments about the recipe:
(1) If you don't have goat cheese, just use 4 oz of cream cheese instead. It was still tangy and delicious.
(2) I made two tarts, and forgot to add egg to the topping mixture for one of them. I actually liked that one a lot better -- it was a lot more creamy/melty.
(3) I cut up big chunks of fresh mozzarella and layered it over the top of the tart, then sprinkled some sea salt on top for extra flavor. If you like pizza that has ropes of cheese pull away with every bite, you'll definitely want to do this.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homemade Oreo Cookies

This week has been a blur of cookie baking. Not cake, not pie...just cookies. Thumbprint cookies, key lime pie cookies...and now homemade oreo cookies. Phew! 

Why so many cookies, you ask? Because just as I was pondering what to get everyone at the office for Christmas, the good people at HR sent out an email last week reminding us that while it's holiday season and everyone is full of good cheer, there are rules for gift giving. No bribes. No gift/job offer exchanges. Nothing expensive. Luckily, nobody wants to bribe a law clerk, I have a job, and I can't afford to buy expensive gifts anyway. What I can do is make lots and lots of cookies. Cookies for everyone!

Festive thumbprint cookies for the nice courtroom clerk and deputy US marshals; key lime pie cookies for the judge's administrative assistant (KL pies are her favorite dessert); and Oreo cookies for the Judge himself (he's always eating packets of weird-looking oreo knock-offs at lunch...yuck).

I have to confess, I've never been a big fan of Oreos. What's so great about crispy cookies anyway? All they do is dry out your mouth and leave you craving a glass of milk. And don't even get me started on how little love I have for milk. What I'm saying is, I'd take a big gooey brownie over an Oreo any day, even if it's kind of really fun to twist apart the cookies and try to guess which side the frosting is going to be on...

Anyway. These homemade Oreos are amazing! I thought they were going to be soft and chewy like Oreo Cakesters, but they really are exactly like regular Oreos...only better. The chocolate cookies themselves are crispy with just a hint of chew, and the vanilla cream filling (the best part of every cookie sandwich) is light and sweet, and not at all artificial-tasting. These would be perfect alone or...sigh...dunked into a tall glass of icy cold milk.

Recipe can be found here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Almost No-Bake Cheesecake

True or false: I have been dying to get my hands on some mini spring-form pans so that I can make adorable, baby-sized cheesecakes? True. So true! I'm a total sucker for miniaturized versions of regular things. In college, my dorm was filled with all kinds of crap that I bought for the sole reason that they were tiny and cute. Miniature condiment jars, tiny milk cartons full of candy, baby staplers...I've gotten better with age, but sometimes I still can't help myself.

Look at how cute my new pans are! And they're so useful for portion-control. Now, instead of filling my fridge with a full-sized, fat-filled cheesecake, I can make tiny, guilt-free portions of the same delicious treat. Nevermind that Dan thinks it defeats the purpose when I end up making four mini-cheesecakes per batch anyway...

The beauty of this cheesecake is that it doesn't need to be baked. It just gets mixed and chilled over night before being served. The only reason it's called "Almost No-Bake Cheesecake" instead of "No-Bake Cheesecake" is that the graham cracker crusts spend a little time in the oven before the filling goes on top. Still, the cheesecake itself doesn't need to be baked at all.

This was my first time eating un-baked cheesecake, but I've decided that I'm never going back to baked cheesecake again. Each bite was just so light and fluffy in it's creaminess, not super dense like a regular cheesecake. And, whereas regular cheesecake sits like a rock in your stomach after just one slice, this cake slides down so easy and you don't feel like you've eaten much of anything at all. Guilt free! And...very dangerous for dieters! It's like Emily said after we demolished an entire cheesecake despite being uncomfortably full from lunch -- "It's scary how easy it is to eat this."

Almost No-Bake Cheesecake (Adapted from Closet Cooking's No-Bake Cheesecake recipe)

Ingredients: Makes enough for 2 4-inch springform pans.
- 1/2 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs. (About 8 crackers)
- 1 tbsp melted butter
- 1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar

- 8oz cream cheese
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sugar

(1) Preheat oven to 325.
(2) Mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and brown sugar. Press into the bottoms of 2 4-inch spring form pans.
(3) Bake crust for 8 minutes. Set aside.
(4) In a large bowl, whip heavy cream with an electric beater until thick. Set aside.
(5) In a medium bowl, cream together sugar, lemon juice, and cream cheese. Gently fold into whipped cream mixture until well combined.
(6) Evenly divide filling between two pans, pouring it on top of the crust in each pan.
(7) Chill in the fridge overnight.
(8) Serve plain or with fruit topping.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stuffed Pork Chops with Gravy

Apparently Thursdays are now "pork chop" days, because this is two weeks running that we've eaten pork for dinner. What can I say, I'm unimaginative in my eating. Also, I still have a million pork chops in the freezer that need to get eaten. And I just love pork, period. It's like Anthony Bourdain once said on an episode of No Reservations -- "the pig is a noble and delicious animal." So true, Tony, so true.

I've never stuffed anything other than a chicken, and so I had to look up what it meant to "butterfly" a pork chop. Apparently it's just a fancy way of saying "stick a sharp knife into the side of a chop and cut a little pocket." So that's how you stuff a pork chop! I've always wondered. Seriously.

The recipe I found online called for stuffing the chops with a mixture of blue cheese/bacon/chives. That sounded too salty, even for me, so I went with a more traditional stuffing route. Bread cubes, melted butter, chicken stock, and onions. I used whole wheat bread, but I think corn bread or white bread would be tastier.

After stuffing, the chops get browned on both sides in a hot skillet, and then transferred to a greased pan for baking in the oven. Only 25 minutes, and you're digging into a piping hot pile of porky goodness. Time in the oven didn't dry the meat out at all, and the savory stuffing was a perfect compliment to the juicy, delicate chops. Delicious!

Stuffed Pork Chops with Gravy

- 2 pork chops, butterflied
- 2 slices bread, chopped into cubes
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- 1/4 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbsp diced onion
- Salt + pepper for seasoning
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp minced garlic

(1) Preheat oven to 325.
(2) In a small bowl, combine bread, butter, chicken stock, and diced onion until desired stuffing consistency is reached. Set aside.
(3) Season pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper to taste.
(4) Stuff each chop with heaping spoonfuls of stuffing.
(5) In a hot skillet, cook garlic in olive oil until fragrant. 
(6) Add pork chops and brown on both sides. Remove chops from skillet and place in greased pan. (Save oil/fat from skillet)
(7) Stick everything in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.
(8) Serve with favorite gravy.

Homemade Gravy

- Leftover oil/fat from browning chops in the skillet.
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp flour

(1) Heat skillet with leftover oil/fat from pork chops.
(2) Add chicken stock and heavy cream. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
(3) Keep stirring until liquid has noticeably reduced.
(4) Add flour, and stir until well mixed.
(5) Season to taste with salt/pepper.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baked Italian-Style Breaded Pork Chops

There is way too much food in our freezer. We've got a billion packets of bacon, tubs of uneaten ice cream, endless gallon bags stuffed with steaks, chicken breasts, pork chops, salmon filets and tilapia. I think there might even be a container of scallops somewhere in the back. Why? Because we live a block from BJ's, and I just can't help myself. 

So, I've been cooking frantically this week in a effort to open up some space in the freezer. I used up the frozen shrimp for carbonara on Monday, chicken for my lunch salad on Tuesday, and grilled steak for dinner last night. In an effort to keep things exciting in the kitchen, I decided to make pork chops tonight.

We've already had glazed, grilled chops two or three times in the last few months, and I felt it was time for a change. Closet Cooking was no help this time, because all of his recipes were a little more involved than I felt like dealing with at 7 o'clock on a Thursday night, and they called for a slew of ingredients I didn't have on hand. Plus, I was tired of using the electric grill for our dinner meats. Lucky for us, I had all ingredients to make breaded, baked pork chops.

This wasn't exactly a Rachel Ray-esque 30-minute meal, but the pork chops were very straightforward and easy to make. Both chops were seasoned, breaded, and browned in no time at all, and while they were baking in the oven, I had time to whip up a make-shift version of creamy au gratin potatoes, and sit down with a former DEA agent to answer a few quick back-ground investigation questions for Emily's new job. What can I say, I'm a multi-tasker.

I think I prefer the savory, caramelized crust on my glazed grilled pork chops better than the Italian-style breading of these chops, but overall I would rate this dish as "tasty." The meat was tender and juicy, and very flavorful. I'm glad I decided to salt/pepper the chops directly pre-breading though, because I think without that seasoning they would have just been bland and greasy.

Baked Italian-Style Breaded Pork Chops (Adapted from's Italian Breaded Pork Chops recipe)

- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan 
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 pork chops

(1) Preheat oven to 325.
(2) In a small bowl, beat together the egg and milk. In a separate small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and oregano.
(3) Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, cook until brown.
(4) Dip each pork chop in the egg mixture, then the bread crumb mixture. Make sure each chop is evenly coated.
(5) Cook the chops on the skillet until lightly brown on each side. 
(6) Place the skillet/chops into the oven. Cook for 25 minutes.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shrimp Carbonara

Dan was feeling under the weather today and had to leave work early. What does one feed to a sick person? Ginger ale and soda crackers? How boring! And so sad. I figured something heartier would perk his immune system up faster. 

I've been reading Closet Cooking a lot lately, and the guy loves his shrimp. He's got recipes for Thai Lemon Shrimp, Shrimp Scampi, Shrimp Po' Boys...just to name a few. He also had a great recipe for Shrimp Carbonara, and I just happened to have all the ingredients to make it. Shrimp has a lot of protein in it, right? And I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that carbohydrates do a body good.

The dish came together super quickly and was amazingly delicious. The shrimp was plump and tender, and while I didn't have any linguine, spaghetti worked wonderfully with the creamy, cheesy sauce. Dan gobbled down a heaping bowlful before crawling back onto the couch for a nap. He's looking better already!

Shrimp Carbonara (Adapted from Closet Cooking's Recipe)

- 1/2 box of linguine (or spaghetti)
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled/de-veined
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped

(1) Start cooking the pasta.
(2) In a medium-sized pan, cook the bacon. Set bacon aside and get rid of all but 1 tbsp of the bacon grease.
(3) Add shrimp and garlic to the bacon pan, saute until just cooked.
(4) In a separate bowl, mix yolk, parmesan, and heavy cream. Season with salt/pepper to taste.
(5) Drain pasta, then add it to the pan. Toss until shrimp and pasta are well-combined.
(6) When sizzling sounds stop, pour egg/cheese mixture into the pan. Toss until pasta is well-coated.
(7) Serve with parsley sprinkled on top.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crab Cakes

Dan hates grocery shopping with me. He says that no matter what I have written down on my shopping list, and no matter how many times I say that "this is gonna be a real quick trip, I promise!" I always end up meandering down the aisles and walking away with 50 extra things "I just have to have." So occasionally he'll refuse to go to the store with me. How is that smart? Letting me wander through food paradise unsupervised is a terrible idea! For example, this weekend I went to BJ's to pick up frozen strawberries and kitty litter, and came home with a 16-piece set of drinking glasses, apple pie, heavy cream, milk, and crab claws. In my defense, the glasses came in handy for mimosas at brunch, I used the cream to make whipped cream to go with the apple cinnamon doughnuts, and milk + apple pie was a delicious late night snack!

And, by Monday night, the crab claws were the answer to our daily dilemma of "what should we have for dinner tonight?" Crab cakes, obviously.

These crab cakes were super easy to make. Just dump all the ingredients into one bowl, mix it up, form cakes with your hands, and stick them on a hot pan. Boom, done in 20 minutes.

The crab meat refuses to be contained!

I wish I had put more bread crumbs in the mixture so the cakes would have crisped up more on the outside, but otherwise these crab cakes were delicious. Soft and creamy, with just a hint of tang from the mustard, and lots and lots of yummy crab meat. These are definitely going to be added to the weekly dinner menu!

Crab Cakes (Adapted from Crab Cake Recipes's website)

- 1 lb crab meat (I use claw meat)
- 1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp minced onion
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp mustard (Most recipes call for dijon, but I just used plain ol' yellow)
- 2 tbsp melted butter
** I kind of winged it with my measurements. If the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If too dry, add more butter/mayo. It's all really just up to your own tastes.

(1) In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients until well-combined.
(2) Scoop up mixture by the spoonful and shape them into cakes with your hands.
(3) Drop cakes onto oiled skillet. 
(4) Cook on medium heat until golden brown on both sides. 
(5) Serve on bed of greens.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts

This past weekend, in order to celebrate the fact that we now officially own our condo, Dan and I invited some friends over for a housewarming brunch. Dan was in charge of the eggs and bacon, and I tried my hand at doughnuts.

Doughnuts are usually fried, right? That's a problem, because not only do I not own a fryer, I'm also trying to watch my girlish figure so that I can properly wreck it over Thanksgiving. So, what to do, what to do. Pass on the doughnuts and serve a fruit salad instead? Nahhhh. Enter Google search for "baked doughnut recipes."

Surprisingly, there were tons of recipes online for baked doughnuts. Most of them were just made of flour, sugar, baking powder and butter -- presumably, they produced cake-y doughnuts. That's not what I was looking for. I wanted to make Krispy Kreme-esque doughnuts: light and pillowy, more sweet bread than cake, and 101 Cookbooks had a recipe that seemed to fit the bill.

I didn't have doughnut pans or cookie cutters, but it turns out that cups and shot-glasses are perfect for cutting out perfectly round doughnuts and adorable little doughnut holes. Take that, Williams-Sonoma, with your ridiculously enticing product emails...

These doughnuts turned out to be a huge pain in the ass (recipes that involve yeast always are), but were totally worth it. Super light and chewy, and oh-so-delicious dusted with cinnamon sugar. Perfect served with a dollop or two of fresh whipped cream.

Recipe for these baked doughnuts can be found here, with one slight modification: I wanted a slight apple flavor, so I substituted a 1/2 cup of the milk for about 1 cup of apple sauce. Unfortunately, the doughnuts turned out to be less apple-y than I would have liked. Next time I'm going to try using more apple sauce, or substituting apple butter or some other form of cooked apple.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


In the last two days or so, I've become obsessed with a food blog called "Closet Cooking." It was started by a guy who realized one day that he was eating the same things over and over again, and wanted to spice up his daily dining experiences. So he dove right into the world of cooking and went from making grilled cheese sandwiches to inventing caramelized pear and gorgonzola quiches. Meanwhile, I'm making 30-minute skillet chicken parmesan...

One of the recipes on the blog that caught my eye was the one for Okonomiyaki. My experience with Japanese cuisine has been limited mainly to teriyaki and sushi, but I'm an avid watcher of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, and I knew about okonomiyaki from his visit to Osaka. They're basically just savory pancakes filled with whatever you want. In my case, I wanted lots and lots of vegetables to counter all the crap food I've been eating lately. Grated carrots and cucumbers, chopped green onions and cabbage. No bacon! Although I bet bacon would be really delicious in this...

I was almost done cooking before I realized that I didn't have either okonomiyaki sauce or Japanese mayonnaise to spread on top of the pancakes. I wasn't sure if okonomiyaki without sauce qualified as okonomiyaki, but I figured that as long as I had some kind of mayo on there I was in the clear. So, I whipped up some zesty Ranch mayo and drizzled that over my pancakes instead. I thought the tangy, creamy mayo was delicious, but Dan didn't like it as much and chose to eat his okonomiyaki with sriracha sauce instead. I tasted a bite from his plate, and I can testify that the pancakes are delicious no matter which sauce you go with.. 

Recipe for Okonomiyaki can be found here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Lately Dan and I have been eating a lot of mozzarella sticks, leftover takeout, and cold pizza. My mom's birthday lunch kind of burned me out on the cooking front, and I haven't been able to muster the energy to whip up anything blog-worthy. There were the glazed, grilled pork chops last Friday, but...I was hungry and didn't remember to take pictures until the chops were a mere grease smear on our plates. Alas.

Not that Dan ever complains about what I put into his stomach or anything, but I was feeling a little guilty last night after work. There was a time -- not so long ago, really -- when I painstakingly planned our dinners hours in advance and eagerly looked forward to putting home-cooked meals on the table every night. That lasted...2 weeks, I think. How did I get so lazy so quickly? Anyway, I was bound and determined to whip up something delicious last night, but it was late-ish, and neither of us could wait long enough for anything really involved. So, what is quick and delicious and filling? Skillet chicken parmesan.

Because we ran out of eggs this weekend, and I only had panko breadcrumbs, I was originally just going to pan fry some chicken breasts, smother them in sauce and throw the whole thing into the oven for a while. Who says chicken in chicken parmesan has to be breaded? Imagine my delight when I discovered a canister of Italian-style breadcrumbs in the pantry and half a container of heavy cream in the fridge! In case you were wondering, cream with a dash of salt/pepper works just as well as eggs + milk when it comes to breading chicken.

This turned out to be one of the yummiest meals we've eaten in a while (although, note to self: brown the chicken longer to crisp it up more), and it took only 30 minutes from start to finish. Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray!

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/3 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 jar pasta sauce
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- Salt
- Pepper

(1) Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
(2) In small bowl, season cream with salt/pepper to taste. 
(3) In separate bowl, mix breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan.
(4) Dip chicken breasts into the cream, then dredge in breadcrumbs.
(5) Cook chicken breasts on a skillet over medium heat with the minced garlic until lightly brown. Turn once to brown both sides.
(6) Pour pasta sauce over breasts. Place cover on skillet and let everything cook for 15-20 minutes.
(7) Serve with pasta, salad, and garlic bread. Pile on the grated Parmesan!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Maple Fudge Cupcakes

I'm in a great mood this weekend. Dan and I are happily settled into our new condo, the kitty is doing very well, we finally have furniture in our bedroom, and I passed the bar exam. How do I choose to celebrate these wonderful events? Nights of debauchery? Fine dining on the town? Nope! I celebrate by sleeping in until 9:30am and trying out a new Hannah Swensen cupcake recipe.

In terms of taste and texture, these cupcakes taste more like brownies than cake. They're dense, chewy, and intensely fudgy with a nice maple after taste. As for the frosting, I could probably eat it by the spoonful. Even Dan, who isn't nearly as wild about chocolate as I am, ate 3 of these in rapid succession. Now that's a good cupcake.

Maple Fudge Cupcakes (Slightly modified from the Hannah Swensen recipe)


- 4 cups chocolate chips
- 1-1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1-2/3 cups flour
- 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup milk

- 2 cups chocolate chips
- 1 14oz can condensed milk

(1) Preheat oven to 350.
(2) Prepare muffin pan with liners, or grease cups if you don't want to use wrappers.
(3) Microwave the chocolate chips, syrup, and 1/4 cup sugar for 1 minute. Stir mixture until chips are melted and everything is smooth.
(4) Add milk, melted butter, and the rest of the sugar. Mix well.
(5) When mixture has cooled a little, add eggs, one at a time. Mix well.
(6) Gradually add flour. Let batter rest for 5 minutes.
(7) Fill  of each cupcake liner 3/4s of the way full.
(8) Bake for 20-25 minutes.

(9) For the frosting, melt chocolate chips and condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly to make sure mixture doesn't scorch. Drop large spoonfuls to fill the craters at the center of each cupcake + some extra to cover the rest of the cupcake top. Sprinkle with chopped pecans, or garnish with fresh fruit of choice.