Weeknight Cooking: Down-and-Dirty Chicken Stir Fry and (Leftover) Fried Rice

A few weeks ago, my parents went on a weekend jaunt to Pennsylvania.  They had a grand time and brought back some neat swag, while my sister and I minded the house and the animals like the good offspring we are.

Or something similar.

When they got back, as is tradition, we got the rundown of the trip’s events.  Last year, when they went to Chicago, my mom opened up the map of the L and pointed out all the stations they’d stopped at; no luck this time, since PA’s not so big into mass transit.


It’s all really interesting, really.  Case in point, I learned that the Yuengling brewery has always been family-run, and rather than just passing the company from generation to generation, anyone who wants to take over has to buy it at full market value.

Also that their current brewmaster is a lady; props to ladybrewers.  (Soon, I will join your ranks.  Soon.)

Also that during Prohibition, they kind of just said “fuck it” and made ice cream.

(See!  You just learned three things about Yuengling that you didn’t know when you started reading this post.  How do you feel?)

But for all that their stories are interesting, and that I like hearing about the things they ate and the places they went and the things they did, every time they get home I’m just sitting there, trying to be excited about all of these things, and thinking “goddamn it, why don’t I get to go anywhere fun?”  They’ve been taking these little weekend trips since like my sophomore year of college, with increasing frequency in the past few years, and goddamn it I’m jealous.  I want to take time off and go do fun things just because I can.

My dad said “so…do it?  Just go somewhere for the day.  Nobody’s saying you can’t.”

Fine.  Touché, papabear.

There’s an interesting downturn to the trip; when my mom got back to work on Monday, she learned that Stephen King had flown out of the airport on one of the days she took off.  And she tried the leftovers of this stir fry; taste-bud-lust ensued.

Down-and-Dirty Stir Fry and (Leftover) Fried Rice

Ooh! A recipe two-fer!

Quick Chicken Stir Fry


  • 2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pound thawed frozen vegetables (plus whatever you have leftover in the crisper)

Cooking Directions

  1. Thaw your chicken and cut it into 3/4″ chunks. Toss it in a large bowl with the flour, ginger, garlic, salt, and sesame seeds.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the soy sauce, sriracha, hoisin, sesame and chili oils, lemon juice, and remaining salt and ginger.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken for just under thirty seconds, then add about two tablespoons of the sauce mixture. Toss to coat, then cook two to three minutes more.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add the vegetables plus another tablespoon of the sauce. Let cook until the vegetables have heated through and gotten a good sauce coating. The remaining sauce can be served on the side for anyone who wants a little extra.

Fried Rice


  • 2 cups leftover cooked white rice
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • cooking oil

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots; cook until just softened, about four minutes.
  2. Push the vegetables to the side and add another teaspoon of oil to the center of the pan, then add the rice and ginger. Stir to combine.
  3. As the rice browns, keep stirring and adding oil as necessary to keep it from sticking or going soft. When the rice has just started to brown, kick the heat up to high and add the soy sauce; stir, and once the sizzling has gone down reduce the heat to medium. Cook until crisp.  (Note: you’ll need way more oil than you ever thought you would, so be prepared.)

Eating around the Web This Week:

What’s cookin’ in all y’all’s kitchens this week?

Cook the Book: Terry’s Jailhouse Chili

There’s a funny thing about True Blood: sometimes I actually care more about the characters in the background than the ones you’re supposed to be tuning in every week for.  Sookie’s latest dramas aren’t ever interesting unless they involve shirtless Eric and/or Alcide; Billith….not even going to go there.  But stick in a little bit of Terry action and I am there.  Terry is never not entertaining.  Even when he’s fighting his PTSD and going crazy over an Ifrit, I still always want to see his face.

(Though he will always hold a place in my heart as Zach.  Gilmores for lyfe.)

It probably has a lot to do with the fact that the rest of the show is so out there and the list of relatable main characters has gotten so short (um.  Sometimes Jessica and Jason, and that’s about it for me) but it’s the guys on the sidelines that make the show seem more down to earth.  Yeah, in the last two seasons Terry and Arlene have dealt with 1) the potential demonic possession of their child, 2) the actual haunting of their child by the tormented ghost of a murdered woman, and 3) that whole business with the Ifrit, but they’ve handled it all like people.  Arlene freaked out, Terry told her to calm down (and then freaked out later), and we all watched and thought that might actually be a reaction to the above situations that a normal person might have had.

And Terry, rest assured that out of all the characters on TB, you’re high on the list of people I would let handle my kids.  Good job, man.

Terry Bellefleur's Jailhouse Chili

Chili, Fritos, and a hairy-armed dude in the background. Sounds about right.

On today’s edition of Cook the Book: True Blood: Terry Bellefleur’s jailhouse chili.  Apparently he made this for the men in his unit overseas, and apparently it’s not the same without the Fritos.  I’ll be taking the intro’s word for it, since Terry’s not really around for me to ask.

Half of this book is pictures and I don't even mind.

Half of this book is pictures and I don’t even mind.

I promise you one of these days I’ll be cooking complicated things again.  One day real soon, honest.  But this is weeknight food, man.  And if Terry wants to help me make food real easy on a Wednesday, I’m going to let him.

Recipe didn't call for peppers.  I didn't listen.

Recipe didn’t call for peppers. I didn’t listen.

Chili is definitely on the perfect weeknight food list: just throw it in a pot and call it a day.

Chili is definitely on the perfect weeknight food list: just throw it in a pot and call it a day.

Salting of the chili was minimal, and with very, very good reason.  See, also, the serving suggestion of this chili:

Salt situation: covered.  Delicious situation: also covered.

Salt situation: covered. Delicious situation: also covered.

Terry’s Jailhouse Chili

Adapted from the True Blood Cookbook


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 chopped bell peppers
  • 2 chilis, diced
  • 2 15oz cans kidney or cannelini beans
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • corn chips

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, crumbling with a wooden spoon until you can’t see any more pink.
  2. Add the onions, chilis, and peppers; cook until softened, about eight or ten minutes.
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes, and tomato paste; stir to combine. Season with chili (2 tablespoons for milder, 3 for hotter) and cayenne.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer, uncovered, for an hour and a half. Keep an eye on it and add more liquid if it appears too dry.
  5. Serve hot in bowls with shredded cheddar and crumbled corn chips.


Linked up at A Glimpse Inside, 36th Avenue, and the Mandatory Mooch!

Weeknight Dinner: Parmesan Chicken and Mad Sprouts, Y’all

Mama and I were working on the shopping list for this week and she jotted tonight’s dinner down as “chicken Parmesan .  I had to make her cross it out; don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea about what it is we’re having for dinner.

(I can’t explain how much my sister/papabear love chicken parm.  Every time someone suggests it they both ask what it actually entails to clarify, too, which– it just doesn’t compute to me.  But they’re both huge fans.)

Nope.  Parm chicken =/= chicken parm.



I guess the concept’s pretty much the same, though.  They’re like..dish cousins.  Like Who, What, When, Where, Why, and their cousin How.

(That was totally a thing when I was in first grade.  Thanks for the memories and the excellent fun playing with words, Mrs Shyer.)

The recipe itself is actually pretty straightforward; I’m sharing more for the breading tips, which are numerous per usual.

Y’all should know how I feel about breading by now.  If you missed it, I’ll catch you up: breading is one of my favorite things.

There is no such thing as loving mise en place too much, honest

There is no such thing as loving mise en place too much, honest

Just a quick rundown of everything you see here, and then we’ll get started: chicken (probably a given), flour, panko (or the breadcrumbs of your choice), Parmesan cheese and/or whatever it is you’d like to mix in with the breading.

Also eggs.  Eggs are pretty important.

1. Prep your Breading

This is easy.  Dump out about 2 cups of breadcrumbs into a bowl and wait for me to blow your mind with the next instruction:

mix it with your flavoring.



I’m using Parmesan cheese and some various green spices (oregano and parsley, plus a little salt and pepper).  Shake the bowl around a little bit; it’s a proven fact that shaking a bowl is the most effective AND the most fun way to mix dry ingredients.  Whisking be damned.

2. Make an Assembly Line

My mom asked if I really needed to use this many pie plates.  ALWAYS, mama.

My mom asked if I really needed to use this many pie plates. ALWAYS, mama.

And be fussy about how you do it; I can’t sell that point enough.  I used to look at this whole setup and think “yeah, that makes sense, but who wants to put that much effort into their breading?”

The answer is you.  You do.

And you do want to use pie plates; the high sides keep things from sloshing over, and the wide surface area lets you make sure everything gets covered.

3. Bread

Just to head y’all off with another tip: you do want to use tongs for every step after flour.  Otherwise your hands will be a disgusting mess and you will hate everything and/or get lots of egg in your breading and vice versa.

First, drop your chicken in the flour and flip to coat.

Parm Chicken - floured

This gives the chicken a protective crust to keep the moisture in, and also gives the egg and breading something to stick to that isn’t slippery bird goo.

Next, into the egg.

Parm Chicken - egged

..so that the breading will have something to stick to that isn’t dry floury bird.

And finally, into the breading.

..because it’s delicious.  Did you need an explanation?

Parm Chicken - broiled

And from there you just cook as planned.  These puppies got baked and finished with a broil for crust color, but do what you like.  It probably wouldn’t hold up to a deep fry so well, but a pan fry would hold it nicely.  And like my frying steps, it’s easily adapted to other meat products and/or foodstuffs.  Eggplant is the one that comes to mind, but I’m sure you could use it on a whole host of things.

This special weekday edition of how-to brought to you by the fact that dinner was otherwise too basic to post a recipe!  I’ll make up for it over the weekend, I promise.

Everything Meatloaf

Ever wonder what a Scotch egg would taste like if you deconstructed it and made it in a loaf pan?

I didn’t. But I imagine it would be something like this.

Meatloaf - full

Glamorous?  No.  Delicious?  Yes. Exactly the thing to do to get my crappo day out of my head?  Also yes.  Any dish where you have to squish meat around will instantly make you feel better, I guarantee it.  It’s like playing with meaty, delicious Play Dough, but riskier to eat off your fingers when you’re done.

(Not that that stops me.)

Bottom line is: this meatloaf has too much protein, and I am totally fine with it.  Because it’s also delicious.  And I sort of want to eat it for breakfast, actually.  Is that weird?

In my defense...it looks completely like breakfast.

In my defense…it looks completely like breakfast.

This is the result of three-person collaboration, which is sort of unheard of in my house these days.  I suggested meatloaf; my dad suggested we add sausage (because he always suggests we add sausage); my mom suggested we add hard boiled eggs.  I was skeptical, but she assured me that it was a Thing and we should give it a shot. So we did.

Meatloaf - veg

Things started off pretty normal; veg got chopped and lightly sauted with some spice.  From there it met the meat and got another good spicing, plus some breadcrumbs to bind it.  And then the mixing happened.

Meatloaf - premix

Hands down, this is my favorite part, probably for the same sort of reasons I like kneading bread so much.  It’s just– things gooshing through your hands, I don’t know.  It’s a stress reliever.

Anyway, moving right along: into the pan we go, with a decent glob of meat pressed down into the sides.

Technical term.

Technical term.

Then a layer of hot Italian sausage; pre-cooked, squeezed for grease, and sliced lengthwise.  Another glob of meat goes down on top of this, and you might want to press it out in your hands before you slap it down– pressing it out directly in the pan works, but you risk pushing the sausage out to the edges of the pan as opposed to the center area (which is where you want it).

Meatloaf - snausages

Repeat sausage step with eggs.  It helps to make a little well for the eggs in the layer of meat underneath them.

Meatloaf - eggiwegs

Top with the last of your meat and you’re good to go.

I got you craving meatloaf, didn’t I?  Here, have a recipe.

Everything Meatloaf


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 hot Italian sausage links
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (divided) ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon (divided) kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon parsley

Cooking Directions

  1. Start your preliminary prep: boil the eggs and cut each in half; cook the sausage links and slice, lengthwise.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the mushrooms, celery, onion, and garlic with half the black pepper and half the salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef with the vegetables, remaining spices, Worcestershire sauce, and breadcrumbs.
  4. Press a little more than a third of the beef mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan. Add the sausage, then press half of the remaining beef on top.
  5. Repeat with the egg halves.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Remove from oven and drain out any accumulated grease; serve immediately after.

How To: Make the best fried chicken. Ever.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this here, but: true story, deep frying is my super power.

Most niche super power ever, I know.

Here’s an example of a scenario that actually happened, in case you don’t believe me: my mom begged me for the looongest time to tell her what I put in my onion ring batter to get them super fluffy and wonderful, and after an age I caved and told her.  But using the same batter, under the same conditions, with the same tools, mine still had more puff and crunch to the batter coating.  And no one can explain why.

I should get a cape, or something.

But with great power comes great responsibility (I was visited by the cliche fairy this morning) and I’ve decided that it’s my responsibility to try and share my skills with the world.  And so I present to you, Bee’s guide to the Best Fried Chicken.  Ever.

STEP ONE: Brine.

Salty chicken water, my favorite.

Salty chicken water, my favorite.

Want to know how to keep chicken moist?  You brine.  Mix up a quarter cup of table salt and two cups of water until the one dissolves into the other, and then sit your chicken pieces down in it and let them take a nice, long, salty bath.

I like to let mine sit for abooout a day; this round they sat in the fridge from about 5 AM to 5 PM, but I have done more and I have done less and my chicken still stays moist.  Tip for if you’re crunched for time: poke holes in your chicken with a fork.  (You don’t need to go more than a quarter inch deep.)

Before you fry, make sure you rinse the chicken and drain it.  Well.  Patting it dry may also be something you consider.

STEP TWO: Batter.

This batter works for everything, fyi.  You name it, this batter makes the perfect coating for when you inevitably decide to fry it.

The beer is not optional.

The beer is not optional.

It’s also really, really easy.  1 cup flour, 1 cup cornstarch, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and whatever spices you want on your chicken/fryable foodstuffs (I went simple today; paprika, black pepper, and salt).  Whisk it up a little, and then dump in some of that beer we talked about (you need it for the fluff and the body; club soda just doesn’t cut it).

Those bubbles are a very good thing.

Those bubbles are a very good thing.

I never, ever measure on this part.  You want to wind up with something the approximate consistency of pancake batter, so just kind of…pour and mix until you get that.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  This time I used the entire can of Yuengling; I usually use bottled Sam’s, though, and wind up with a quarter left to drink.  Who knows?

STEP THREE: Pre-Fry and Fry

Start with a biiig Dutch oven (if you haven’t noticed by now, I really really love cooking in Dutch ovens; they’re maybe the most useful things, ever.  And cast iron cooks better than anything else).  Fill it about two inches deep with the oil you’ve chosen to fry with (canola, vegetable, peanut, whatever you’re using) and crank your burner to heat it up.

You’ll hear it when it’s ready.  But if you’re keen on having a specific temperature guideline, shoot for the territory around 350.

Whoops!  I forgot the flour on this batch.

Whoops! I forgot the flour on this batch.

Now move to that that nice, dry chicken of yours.  Coat it very lightly in flour, and get ready for the messy part: battering.

(Using tongs will help, a little.  But after a few dips the batter on the tongs will cook, so you have to keep cleaning them in between dips.)

Dunk your chicken/fryables into the batter, turn to coat, and then plunk ’em right down in the oil that you were heating this whole time.   (Make sure they’re in a single layer and not touching each other, that’s pretty important.)  Turn the heat down to medium and let those babies sizzle.

Cooking time will obviously vary depending on the size of your pieces.  Onion rings take about three minutes, total.  Whole breasts will take about six or seven a side.  I cut these breast pieces into thirds, and wound up with about five for the first side and four for the reverse.  This is another one of those experience-tells-me-when-its-done-and-therefore-times-are-for-lesser-fryers situations, but I tried to keep an estimate in my head for y’all.

When everything looks nice and crispy, yank ’em, let ’em drip, and set them on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet to let any extra oil drip off.  You’ll want to keep them in the oven if you’re doing a second batch (300 will be good to keep ’em warm).

PART FOUR: Filling Your Stomach

How's that for a slice of fried gold?

How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

I don’t think I need to tell you how to do this part.  My only tip is to try not to cram it all down your throat at once; choking is something that no-one likes.

Mostly: enjoy your moist, better-than-sin fried chicken!  The beer is optional this time around, but really, what is fried chicken without it.

Question Time: any cooking super-powers in the house?

Weeknight Dinners: Pasta Carbonara

WARNING: this post contains both food AND a recipe!

Pasta alla Carbonara

Mom’s dinner, again. Sigh.

After a brush with what I’m now terming the three headed monster of my life (insomnia, stress, and grrr which I’m also terming as an actual emotion now) I’ve decided to plan ahead a little and write this blog post in the predawn hours and add pictures later.

Which is, surprise, what was working out so well for me last week.  Why I didn’t just keep on that track, I may never know.

Today was another looong day; work, gym, back home to die on my bed for forty minutes and then work calls.

(Aside: I never thought I’d say this but I have so much empathy for those people who call your house asking if you want to buy new windows and crap.  It sucks.  It is the worst of jobs and trust me, these people want nothing less than to interrupt your dinner.  Be polite when you usher them off the phone, because they’re just doing what they’re getting paid a crappy hourly wage to do.)

The dinner slated for tonight was easy enough, though: nice gooey pasta carbonara (starring the half pound– half pound!– of prosciutto everyone’s been drooling over for the past three days).

Fact: I didn't use two eggs.  I changed my mind at the last minute, as I am prone to do.

Fact: I didn’t use two eggs. I changed my mind at the last minute, as I am prone to do.

Super easy.  As long as you have a hand to whisk with, there is nothing at all difficult about this pasta.

(Sorry, amputees.)

It’s also super gooey and makes you feel cozier.  Perfect for this stupid snow?  Yes.

Tired of me talking about the snow?  Good, so am I.  I’ll try to curb it.

Bonus, it’s super quick.  So the fact that I kind of lost track of time for a little while was totally okay!

Chefs who kind of scare me: this man.  Also Julia Child.

Chefs who kind of scare me: this man. Also Julia Child.

Pasta carbonara (or as Nick Stellino was kind enough to inform me in the info blurb in his cookbook, coal miner’s pasta) starts the same way most pastas do: you start boiling water for pasta, and then you fry stuff.

In my case a small mountain of prosciutto, bacon's super classy cousin.

In my case a small mountain of prosciutto, bacon’s super classy Italian cousin.

Then when you’re done, you put it all together.  But carbonara has to be a little bit of a snob (because why not) and give you an extra step.

That’s the one with the whisking.

Egg, cheese, pepper, and parsley get whisked together with a quarter cup of pasta water so that you’re coating the pasta with something thick instead of something watery and sad; constant whisking is required so that you get something tasty instead of scrambled eggs.

Which are also good, but not on spaghetti.  Probably.

Which are also good, but not on spaghetti. Probably.

And that’s pasta carbonara!  Dinner in a snap (for those of us with hands with which to whisk, for which I am eternally grateful).

Pasta alla Carbonara
adapted from Nick Stellino’s Glorious Italian Cooking


  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • 1/4 cup pasta water, reserved
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 5-6 slices Italian prosciutto, chopped (swappable with pancetta or just plain old bacon)
  • 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • olive oil

Cooking Directions

  1. Set your pasta a-cookin’.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium-high, heat a little olive oil and saute the mushrooms for about 3-4 minutes. Add the prosciutto and garlic and saute two minutes more before adding in the red pepper and about half of the parsley. Saute until fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken broth and let the mixture reduce.
  4. Strain your pasta and get ready for the crazy part.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg, parmesan, black pepper, and remaining parsley. Slowly add the water, whisking constantly, until combined.
  6. Keeping the pasta over low heat, toss with the mushrooms and prosciutto. Remove from heat and stir in the egg and cheese mixture, adding a little olive oil as necessary to keep the pasta from seizing too much.

Ready to be done with this weather yet?  What’s your favorite weather-blues-fighting food?

Weeknight Dinners: Sirloin and Mushroom-Orzo Pilaf


Bless this beef.

Bless this beef.

Fact about my life that I haven’t mentioned yet and will make anyone who likes meat (probably) a little jealous: my family raises pigs and cows for the purposes of having the best beef and pork ever and hoarding it in our freezers.  Result: I am a complete meat snob.

Other result: steak night in my house is everyone’s favorite night.

Tonight it’s even better, since we’re having like Real Style steakhouse steak, with the pilaf and the greens and beef that’s just going to melt and I am so excited for my beef can you tell yet?

Okay so start with a steak.  If you happen to be us, it’s a nice sirloin off of Chuck Norris; if you’re not us, I am so, so sorry.

RAW BEEF-- I may not be able to control my salivation

RAW BEEF– I may not be able to control my salivation

Liberally salt and peppah.  Set aside; it’s ready for grilling.

Next, move on to the pilaf prep.  This means lots of mushroom slicing, onion chopping, and garlic mincing.

You don’t need a picture of that, right?

Then you can work on getting things ready for your green of choice; in our case, brussels cooked up with a little bit of bacon.

Thick-cut, obviously.  Dinner tonight is a carnivore's dream.

Thick-cut, obviously. Dinner tonight is a carnivore’s dream.

With about twenty minutes to go, get your steak on the grill.  Also, you should be minding your sprouts; the leafy bits that inevitably fall off will burn quick.



Right about now your pilaf should be getting some broth, also.  Unless you’re us, again, and don’t have broth in the house.

Pro-tip: in a pinch, mix 1 tablespoon of soy sauce for every 1 cup of water the recipe calls for.

Pro-tip: in a pinch, mix 1 tablespoon of soy sauce for every 1 cup of water the recipe calls for.

And then you just let that bad boy cook.

In news of missing out on a lot of photo ops on the pilaf...

In news of missing out on a lot of photo ops on the pilaf…

Steakhouse dinner is served!  Enjoy with your beer of choice.  In my case, it was the (non-photographed, sorry!) last of the Hooker Brewery Nor’Easter; I’m pretty sure it’s been jinxing us on the snow front by lurking in the fridge, so I figured I’d take one for the team and take care of it.

Yum.  Tasted even better than it looked.

Yum. Tasted even better than it looked.

Mushroom and Orzo Pilaf
adapted from Spicie Foodie


  • 1 lb orzo pasta
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, cut into eigths
  • 3 1/2 cups beef broth

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onions until translucent; add in your steak blood (anything that’s sitting in the bottom of the dish you’re holding it in; don’t fret if it’s not that much) and stir.
  2. Add in the mushrooms and cook until all liquid has evaporated; toss with the garlic and cook until fragrant. Push vegetables to the side and add the orzo; cook 2-3 minutes until just toasted, mixing as necessary.
  3. Add the broth and bring the pilaf up to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and let cook at medium heat until all liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Stir in grated parmesan; garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with your (obviously) beautifully cooked steak, and enjoy!

Important Question of the Day: how do you take your steak?  Mooing (aka rare and bleeding) or dead and buried (aka on the well side)?


Weeknight Dinners: Chicken Cacciatore

I think I’m getting lazy with weeknight dinners this past week.  They’ve all been so low-maintenance, it’s killing me a tiny, tiny bit.

Alternate explanation is that I’ve been incredibly tired and work has been a raging pile of grr, but that would be rational.  We don’t do that here.

I got home super late yesterday (between sweating all of my stress out at the gym, not being able to buy stamps again because my boss is the male equivalent of a bimbo, and talking to my old coworkers at the library (and maybe getting my old job back part time!)) it was like quarter to 4 by the time I got home.  Which obviously meant my mom was freaking out about how long dinner would take.

(By freaking, I really mean ‘inquiring insistently’.   Pardon my hyperbole, mama.)

The greens just want to assert their awesome presence, don't mind them.

The greens just want to assert their awesome presence, don’t mind them.

Dinner was really, really cooperative in that, at least: chicken cacciatore, with last week’s leftover polenta and pan-roasted broccoli rabe.  Yum.

Notice a trend with the meals-that-stick-to-your-ribs thing?  It’s something I do until I can walk comfortably outside without a coat.  Every day of winter before that is fair game for hot, hearty dinners that could feed starving families, as far as I’m concerned.

First order of business was to get my shit together.  Yeah, this stuff cooks for an hour and it’s fine, but the original recipe says ‘cook for an hour preferrably more‘.  That’s a real deadline, right there.  I only had barely over an hour.

Preparation is the key to success, or something.

Preparation is the key to success, or something.

Which included minor butchering.

Using the big girl knives!

Using the big girl knives!

The rest of it fell together pretty easy, and smelled deeeelicious.

Crispy skin, all day.

Crispy skin, all day.

Best tasting mushrooms, ever.  Arguably also the best looking, but I won't fight you as hard on that one.

Best tasting mushrooms, ever. Arguably also the best looking, but I won’t fight you as hard on that one.

And I swear to you, this sauce was the single easiest thing to assemble.  Ever.

Tomato paste in a tube is your absolute best friend.  Forever.  Forget your real friends and just get this.

Tomato paste in a tube is your absolute best friend. Forever. Forget your real friends and just get this.

..and into the oven it went.  Which gave me time to work on my sides: that nice rabe (with a little bit of leftover spinach) and crispy fried polenta.

Pre-fried.  Really weirdly Jell-o like on the bottom, too.

Pre-fried. Really weirdly Jell-o like on the bottom, too.

Once the chicken was out of the oven (an hour and fifteen, take THAT, recipe!) it was time to nom.  About damn time.

Be still, my watering taste buds..

Be still, my watering taste buds..

Mine!  Mine mine mine!

Mine! Mine mine mine!  This plate is actually mine, and I’m so proud.

My only regret: I didn’t thicken the tomato sauce after it had a chance to bake with the chicken, so it wound up a lot more brothy than I might have liked.  A quick slurry would have fixed it, but it was one of those “I am getting hangry I do not care at this point” kind of deals, since daddy and sister were punching holes in my neatly constructed dinner schedule.

As they do.

Chicken Cacciatore
adapted from Food 52


  • chicken breasts, skin on and halved widthwise
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cups tomatoes, chopped fresh or canned
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon each thmye and sage

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add enough oil to sear the chicken and brown in batches, skin-side down, until all sides have been crisped. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until all sides have browned. Add the 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and cook until all liquid has evaporated. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the chopped onions, a pinch of salt, and about another half-teaspoon of oil. Cook until soft, then add the carrots and cook briefly. Add the tomato paste, black pepper, and red pepper and saute briefly, then add the tomatoes and remaining 1 cup red wine vinegar. Mix and bring to a simmer.
  5. Toss the spices with the mushrooms and return them to the pan, then add the chicken– nestle them down into the tomato and vegetable mixture, but don’t submerge them. Cover and transfer into the oven.
  6. Let cook at least one hour or until sauce has begun to reduce. If sauce is still thin, remove chicken and whisk in a slurry of 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water.

What’s your biggest cooking regret from the week (so far)?

Weeknight Dinners: Arroz con Pollo

I am not a Wednesday person.  I used to love Wednesdays; Wednesdays meant the week was halfway over, Friday was on the horizon, and the weekend was looming right after that.

Now, Wednesdays mean I have to work late, which means cooking is always a tight squeeze.  Grump grump.

Tonight was made particularly sticky by the fact that my sister’s shifts got screwed up (boo), and my dad was working late (double boo)– but that all added up to something that was wonderful, against all odds.

I’ll be frank: I got extra time to cook.  Which means I could make that most beautifully time-consuming delicious pot of Spanish goodness that is arroz con pollo.

arroz con pollo

This is one of my family’s (and mine!) favorite recipes, snatched shamelessly from an episode of America’s Test Kitchen (because Chris Kimball knows what’s up).  It’s rich, it’s loaded with vegetables, and it’s an excellent go-to one-pot dinner– except for the fact that it takes a lot of time and in my experience an acute awareness of said time, it’s pretty much perfect in every way.

Did I also mention it’s delicious?  Because it is.  We fight over the leftovers.

First, the chicken gets marinaded in vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano.

arroz con pollo: marinade

Next, prep everything else.  This is vital for making arroz con pollo when you’re on a wacky schedule; make sure everything is ready so you’re not running around trying to chop pimientos while your rice is burning away in the oven.



Here’s where I got to wait and do work-things.  5-5:30, best half hour of my lifeee–

–okay back to cooking.  Chicken gets seared, and the vegetables sautéed.


Add liquid and simmer; add rice, and hit the toasty oven.

I love that container now, but it used to scare the pants off me.

I love that container now, but it used to scare the pants off me.


Once that cooks forever, you get to do my favorite part– pulling apart the chicken!

Forks are your friend.

Forks are your friend.

Toss the chicken with pimientos and more cilantro than your body has room for, and you’re all set to eat your heart out.

IMG_0100No recipe tonight because tired pup is tired.  It might make its way up here if I feel motivated tomorrow, but just google around a little bit for the ATK arroz con pollo recipe.  I added celery tonight and did things a little out of order; the results were awesome, but the base recipe is just as delicious as is.


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