Meatball Sliders

Menu and Recipes Week of February 14th, 2016


Valentines Day does not get celebrated in our house since we celebrate birthdays for an entire week.  This week we are trying a couple of new recipes, two of which I saw Ina Garten prepare, along with a retry on the meatball sliders that never happened the week before.  I hate to disappoint the judges especially when it is with something they love.

I have been looking for a recipe revolving around a green chile chili.  We have had a few chili’s lately that are white bean, green chile, and or chicken/turkey and really liked them.  So, I found one we are going to try in the slow cooker this week.  It’s an enchilada soup, so we will see how the Judges like it.  Chili does not seem to be something they love…apparently the texture of the beans is not a favorite.  But, it is always fun to introduce new things to the Judges and see where we land.  Salud.

Sunday-Herb Roasted Fish with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Recipe Video

For each serving:
8 ounces boneless fish fillet, such as snapper or cod
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 large sprig fresh thyme
2 Ceregnola or other large green olives with pits
Extra-large egg

Watch how to make this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the fish fillet on a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle it with the salt and pepper. Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil over the top of the fillet. Lay the thyme on top and place the olives next to the fillet.

Beat the egg together with 1 tablespoon of water for an egg wash. Brush the egg wash around the edge of the parchment paper and fold it in half. Carefully fold the edge of the parchment paper under and around the fish to make a package. Place the package on a sheet pan and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Serve hot in the parchment paper.

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Recipe Video

4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

Watch how to make this recipe.
Place the chicken stock in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over medium-high heat until the stock comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and very slowly whisk in the cornmeal, whisking constantly to make sure there are no lumps. Switch to a wooden spoon, add the salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring almost constantly, for 10 minutes, until thick. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly while you’re stirring. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, creme fraiche, and butter. Taste for seasonings and serve hot with extra Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

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Monday-Meatball Sliders

Mini Meatball Sliders

2 pounds ground beef (preferably chuck)
1/2 cup panko or other breadcrumbs
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 24 -ounce jar marinara sauce
24 dinner rolls
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Combine the beef, breadcrumbs, milk, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a large bowl and knead the mixture together with your hands. Roll into heaping-tablespoon-size balls.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes; remove to a plate. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning, until browned all over, about 1 minute. (You might have to do this in 2 batches.)

Pour in the marinara sauce and return the onion to the skillet; gently stir. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, split the dinner rolls and sprinkle some mozzarella on the bottom rolls. Top each with a meatball, some sauce and more mozzarella and sandwich with the top rolls.

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Tuesday-Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole

Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole - Creamy, cheesy and comforting! Loaded with Ranch chicken, homemade alfredo sauce and bacon. Can be made ahead of time!


  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs*, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Ranch Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix, or more, to taste
  • 8 ounces rotini
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream, or more, to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9×9 baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. To make the alfredo sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually whisk in heavy cream. Cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more heavy cream as needed; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Drain excess fat; reserving 1 tablespoon in the skillet. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. In a gallon size Ziploc bag, add chicken, 1 tablespoon olive oil and Ranch Seasoning, shaking to coat thoroughly. Add chicken to the skillet and cook, flipping once, until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes on each side; set aside.
  5. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
  6. Add pasta to the prepared baking dish and layer with chicken and alfredo sauce; sprinkle with cheeses and bacon. Place into oven and bake until bubbly and heated through, about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole

Wednesday-Crock Pot Green Chile Enchilada Soup

Crock Pot Green Chile Enchilada Soup - a new favorite soup recipe that is easy to make AND delicious! { } #soup:

  • 4 chicken breasts (cooked and shredded)
  • 2 – 14.5 oz cans chicken broth
  • 2 – 15 oz. cans mild green enchilada sauce
  • 2 – 4 oz. cans diced green chiles
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 1½ TB cumin
  • 1 TB chili powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ⅔ cup corn (if frozen, thaw out)
  • ⅔ cup instant rice
  • 1 – 8 oz. bar cream cheese (cubed)
  • salt and pepper
  • Monterrey Jack Cheese
  1. Place chicken broth, enchilada sauce, green chiles, water, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic podwer and shredded chicken in crock pot on HIGH. Cook for 3.5 hours.
  2. After cooking for 3.5 hours add corn, rice and cubed cream cheese. Stir and cook for half hour.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste and top with Monterrey Jack Cheese. Serves 4-6.

Thursday-Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 15 -ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup frozen peas
Basmati rice, for serving
Chopped fresh cilantro, for topping

Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Whisk the garlic, ginger, chile pepper, paprika, coriander, tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 4-to-6-quart slow cooker. Add the chicken and stir to coat.

Cover and cook on high, 4 hours, adding the heavy cream and frozen peas during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Serve over rice; top with cilantro.

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Adult Burger with Onions

Judges Weigh In Week Of February 7th, 2016

Our week began with two great loves in our house:  FOOTBALL AND BURGERS.

The thrill of football ended with a historic win by the Broncos at Super Bowl L.  While watching the Super Bowl we enjoyed some delicious burgers cooked on the BBQ.  Our plan was to end the week with another new love in our house, the meatball slider, but Peter decided to take me out for dinner to celebrate my (once again) 29th birthday.

All of our meals this week were definitely kid friendly as well as weeknight friendly.  We enjoyed pasta, a traditional casserole, and a summer favorite in the winter, taco salad. If you try any of our recipes, please let us know what you think.  We give our kudos to all the chefs we borrow from-they help us plan ahead and prepare delicious meals.

Sunday-Cheesy Cheeseburgers were the quintessential Super Bowl meal.  Peter made some oven baked hand cut fries and we added a salad.  The burgers were adorned with melty American and Swiss cheese, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, ketchup and whatever other lovely condiment people felt like using.  The burgers made Cold Play bearable and the Super Bowl great.  Nothing says America more than burgers and football.


Adult Burger with Onions


Kid Burger with TONS of Ketchup

Monday-Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta was an easy and good meal for a weeknight.  We used rotisserie chicken from Costco which made for easy preparation.  Pasta is something we all love and when you give it a little Cajun kick, it is even better.  The peppers, mushrooms and onions added some great color and flavor.  The kids are very against the use of mushrooms in dishes, but Peter and I keep pushing them, hoping by the 100,000th time they will will like them.


Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

Tuesday-Taco Salad is something we do a lot in the summer, so why not bring some summer to the winter?  This is an easy meal that you can serve as the revolving dinner door moves through the evening.  The taco meat can be reheated and you can add dressing to the salad individually as each person sits down to eat between the hours of 6PM-9PM.  Our 11 year old loves to spice it up and adds some hot sauce while others love to stand and eat tortilla chips out of the bag, filling up before the meal.  It is a meal for all ages!

Taco Salad

Taco Salad

Wednesday-Chicken Divan Casserole was definitely a surprise hit.  I tried a new recipe that had the rice incorporated into the casserole.  I cooked the chicken the night before and shredded it.  After steaming the broccoli and making some minute rice, I assembled the casserole.  The boys plowed through this meal in minutes.  The cheesy topping was a perfect addition to the creamy sauce that was in the casserole.  We had a ton left over so it was enjoyed more than once!!  I love when we have enough for another meal.

Chicken Divan Casserole

Chicken Divan Casserole

Thursday-Meatball Sliders…or leftovers.  My lovely husband took me out to celebrate my birthday and since we had so much pasta and chicken divan left over, the kids were all set.  I could not ask for a better husband, father and partner in life.  He continues to surprise me every year, no matter what, after 22 years together.  Thank you Peter!!



Menu and Recipes Week of February 7th , 2016

It is always nice to take a break from planning the menu for a week, but that is when Peter and I realize how nice it is to have a plan.  Not having a plan is more stressful than planning ahead.  We had a crazy week of birthdays.  Our oldest turning 15 and our youngest turning 10.  Our 15 year old chose flank steak with mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts.  Our 10 year old wanted Taco Bell!  Very interesting – the difference between 15 and 10!!

On a couple of nights it was after 5PM before we figured out what we were going to have and thus the outcomes were not as good as they could have been.  We tend to take a step back into the world of kid food when we do not have a menu.  Pasta with butter and parmesan, ramen noodles and hot dogs.  Not anything we would have if we had thought about meals ahead of time.  This week starts out with burgers for the Super Bowl and ends with a family favorite, meatball sliders.  Salud.

Sunday-Cheesy Cheeseburgers

Cheesy Cheeseburgers

1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
4 1/2 -inch cubes pepper jack cheese (about 1 ounce total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 slices cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
4 hamburger buns
Ketchup, mustard and/or mayonnaise, for spreading (optional)
Lettuce leaves, sliced tomato and/or sliced red onion, for topping
Pickles, for serving (optional)

Divide the beef into 4 equal portions. Press a cube of pepper jack into the center of each and shape the meat around the cheese; form into patties, about 4 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. Season the patties with salt and pepper.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook until browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip the patties and top each with a slice of cheddar; cook 4 to 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the hamburger buns and spread with ketchup, mustard and/or mayonnaise. Fill with the burgers and top with lettuce, tomato and/or red onion. Serve with pickles.

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Monday-Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta | Cooking Classy

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (shrimp can be substituted)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 6 tsp cajun seasoning, divided (recipe in notes below)
  • 12 oz dry linguine or fettuccine pasta
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips then strips halved (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips then strips halved (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 cups sliced button mushrooms (about 8)
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish


  • Heat a grill over medium-high heat. Brush chicken with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle with 2 tsp of the cajun seasoning (I used 2 chicken breasts and this is 1/2 tsp per side). Grill chicken until cooked through, about 8 – 10 minutes, rotating once halfway through grilling until chicken registers 165 degrees on in instant read thermometer in center of chicken. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes then cut into strips.
  • Boil pasta in salted water according to directions listed on package. Reserve 1/3 cup pasta water before draining.
  • In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in garlic and flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. While whisking slowly pour in milk and whisk vigorously to smooth lumps. Stir in 1 – 3 tsp cajun seasoning, to taste (season with additional salt as needed). Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to low, stir in parmesan and cream and cook until cheese has melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add red and yellow peppers and red onion and saute 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp cajun seasoning and mushrooms and saute 2 minutes longer.
  • Toss drained pasta with sauce mixture, adding reserved pasta water 1 tbsp at at time to thin sauce as desired. Toss in pepper mixture and chicken. Serve warm sprinkled with parsley and additional cajun seasoning to taste.

Tuesday-Taco Salad

Chicken Taco Salad

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons taco seasoning (store-bought or your own mix)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup ranch dressing (bottled is fine)
1/4 cup salsa (as spicy as you’d like)
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh cilantro

2 ears corn, shucked
1 large head or 2 regular heads green leaf lettuce, shredded thin
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup grated pepper-jack cheese
2 avocados, diced
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Tortilla chips of your choice (flavored or not), crushed slightly, for topping salad


For the chicken: Generously sprinkle both sides of the breasts with the taco seasoning. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken on both sides until deep golden brown on the outside and done in the middle (or to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F), about 4 minutes per side. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

For the dressing: While the chicken is cooking, pour the ranch dressing into a bowl. Add the salsa and cilantro and stir to combine.

For the salad: Next, place the ears of corn in the skillet you used to cook the chicken and roll them around so that the flavorful oil/butter mixture coats the corn. Grill on a grill pan or cook in a separate skillet until the corn is still crisp but has color on the outside. Slice off the kernels with a sharp knife and set aside. Dice the chicken into cubes.

On a platter, layer the shredded lettuce, diced chicken, tomatoes, cheese, corn, avocados, green onions, cilantro and crushed chips. Drizzle the dressing all over the top, saving some to serve on the side if you’d like. Serve the salad in individual bowls.

Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond

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Wednesday-Chicken Divan Casserole


  • 3 cups Prepared Rice, White Or Brown
  • 6 cups Cooked Chicken Shredded
  • 1-½ cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • ½ cups Shredded Fresh Parmesan Cheese, Plus Extra To Sprinkle On Top
  • 4 cups Fresh Broccoli Florets
  • ½ cups Diced Onion
  • 3 cloves Minced Garlic
  • 8 ounces, weight Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 can (10.75 Oz. Size) Cream Of Mushroom Or Cream Of Chicken Soup
  • ¼ cups Mayonnaise
  • ½ cups Sour Cream
  • ½ cups Milk
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Curry Powder, To Taste


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine shredded cheese in a bowl and set aside.

Steam the fresh chopped broccoli using your preferred method. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in the butter until soft.

Whisk together soup, mayo, sour cream and milk in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, curry powder (if using) and ½ cup of the cheese mixture. Add sautéed vegetables. Stir to combine.

Spread ½ cup of the sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. Add all the cooked rice as the bottom layer. Add the cooked broccoli as the next layer and then layer on the cooked chicken. Cover with sauce. Pat down evenly and smooth with a spatula.

Bake at 350ºF for about 30 minutes. Add remaining cheese and sprinkle on extra Parmesan if desired. Cook for 15 minutes more to brown the top. If you like a really browned top (like I do), put it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.

Thursday-Meatball Sliders

Mini Meatball Sliders

2 pounds ground beef (preferably chuck)
1/2 cup panko or other breadcrumbs
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 24 -ounce jar marinara sauce
24 dinner rolls
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Combine the beef, breadcrumbs, milk, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a large bowl and knead the mixture together with your hands. Roll into heaping-tablespoon-size balls.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes; remove to a plate. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning, until browned all over, about 1 minute. (You might have to do this in 2 batches.)

Pour in the marinara sauce and return the onion to the skillet; gently stir. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, split the dinner rolls and sprinkle some mozzarella on the bottom rolls. Top each with a meatball, some sauce and more moz

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Sausage and Fennel Hero

Judges Weigh in week of January 24th, 2016

When it starts to get cold outside and it’s the middle of January, one of the things we enjoy doing the most as a family is cooking.  Whether it’s a homemade pizza or mac & cheese, creating a meal with the family is something we have luckily learned the importance of, early in our Judges lives.  For the first time in a while, we didn’t do a Julia Child recipe for our Sunday night dinner, but we did have a lot of fun making our own pizzas with a dough our 13 year old Judge has used several times for dinner rolls.  We also had a few easy nights, including the mac & cheese.  Hopefully you have enjoyed some of our shared recipes, and can bring your Judges to the table for some fun family time.

Sunday’s Homemade Pizzas were delicious.  We even had a Peter’s Pan themed pizza with the double P, crafted with pepperoni.  Everyone got to do their own thing with the pizzas, and the best part was having plenty of leftovers to use for lunches during the week.  If you have the time to let the dough rise, we would highly recommend this.

Monday’s Sausage Heros created quite a bit of pre-meal buzz.  The Judges didn’t know what a Sausage Hero was.  Peter had some fun with the 9 year old Judge, telling him it was a big piece of meat that came to people’s rescue.  He didn’t buy it.  These sandwiches were absolutely delicious, but we did come across one issue – the buns basically fell apart because they were so soggy.  We even bought specific hero/bratwurst buns, but they just couldn’t hold the dressing.  We all managed to eat them anyway, and the Adults enjoyed the sauteed fennel on them.  We skipped this for the Judges, knowing they probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much.  Very easy recipe to do during the week, with or without the fennel.


Sausage and Fennel Hero

Tuesday’s Skillet Stroganoff was awesome, and everyone loved it.  We modified the recipe just a tad from what we posted.  The recipe called for adding penne pasta and cooking in the pot used for everything else.  But, we decided to use egg noodles, which we cooked separately, then added in with everything else.  We upped the ante on the sour cream and Worcestershire sauce to help keep it from drying up.  There were quite a few steps to the recipe, but in reality, it was pretty easy and you end up throwing everything in one pot, which is great.  A definite recommend.


Skillet Stroganoff

Wednesday’s Homemade Mac & Cheese is a Judge favorite that we just haven’t done for a while.  Maybe sometimes we overthink our recipes for the week, and sometimes we remind ourselves that the Judges are kids…and like to eat kid food once in a while.  This was an easy way to make a simple dish a little more refined, and the Judges loved it.


Homemade Mac & Cheese

Thursday’s Skillet Chicken Parmesan was really good, and in all honesty, this dish almost didn’t happen.  Peter and I were both really tired and didn’t feel like cooking dinner.  We looked at the recipe and started thinking about all that was involved, and were about 2 minutes away from ordering some pizzas.  Then, Peter said, “Why don’t we just cook the chicken in the oven, pour some marinara over it with some Parmesan cheese, and call it a night?”.  So, that’s exactly what we did.  Peter cut the chicken in half so the chicken cooked faster (about 25 minutes in the over) and we pulled in some broccoli and cauliflower as a side dish.  We started talking about and thought this would be a great dish to do for a large amount of kids.  Put the chicken over some pasta, and you’ve got the simplest chicken Parmesan you can find.  Hopefully you can use this with your Judges and their friends one day.


Simple Chicken Parmesan

This upcoming week is an odd week for us, as two of our Judges have birthdays (mine also falls this week, as I turn 29…again).  With half our birthdays all falling in one week, we decided to take the week off from posting.  So, we will be back in a week, and wanted to leave you with a shot of our budding baker’s frosted marble cake.  The 13 year old has become quite the baker, and she loves using her creativity to make delicious treats.


Frosted Marble Cake

Menu and Recipes Week of January 24th, 2016

Winter has finally descended upon us.  We all knew it would happen eventually, but it was nice to have such a warm December.  We are hunkering down and enjoying time indoors.  The kids are loving the remodeled basement and the ping pong table that Santa brought.  This time of year also lends itself to making comfort food which we all love.  This week we will do some old favorites that are perfect for this time of year.  We will also do one of the kids favorites because our 11 year old wanted to know why we had not done it in a while-Macaroni and Cheese-where have you been??  Have a great week.  Salud.

Sunday-Homemade Pizzas – we will be making these with a dinner roll dough that our daughter makes.

Sea Salt Dinner Rolls

1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 -ounce packet active dry yeast
4 1/4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Mix-ins (herbs, spices, cheese, etc.; see recipes)
Vegetable oil or cooking spray, for the bowl

Warm the milk and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan or in the microwave until very warm (110 degrees F). Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook; mix in the sugar, yeast and 1 cup flour until combined but still lumpy. Let stand until the mixture is very bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Add the butter, salt and 2 cups flour; mix on medium speed until smooth and elastic, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs until combined, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl as needed. Add 1 1/4 cups flour and the mix-ins, if using; mix until the dough is smooth and starts to gather into a loose ball, about 4 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky; if it’s too wet, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour.

Lightly oil a large bowl; scrape the dough into the bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

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Basic Pepperoni Pizza and Four Cheese Pizza


1/2 to 3/4 cup store-bought or homemade pizza sauce, recipe follows:
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1 cup pepperoni pieces
Four Cheese Pizza:
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
One 3.5-ounce jar pesto
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
4 ounces fontina, grated
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
Tomato Basil Salad:
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 pint yellow grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
16 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade, plus more if needed
Salt and pepper
Pizza Sauce:
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup chicken broth
Three 15-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Pinch sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Tomato Basil Salad:
For the pizza dough: Sprinkle the active dry yeast over 1 1/2 cups of warm–not lukewarm–water.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle in the olive oil and mix until combined. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix until combined.

Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil and tip the dough in. Form a ball and toss to coat the dough ball in the olive oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 or 4 days refrigerated.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

To prepare the dough for the pizza assembly: Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll out one part as thinly as possible and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough.

For the basic pepperoni pizza: Spread the sauce over the pizza base. Top with the sliced mozzarella and pepperoni.

For the four cheese pizza: Drizzle on the olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Pour the jar of pesto onto the dough and spread evenly. Add the mozzarella, fontina, goat cheese and Pecorino Romano.

Bake both pizzas until the crusts are golden and the cheese is bubbly, 12 to 15 minutes.

For the tomato basil salad: While the pizzas are baking, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a small skillet. Add the garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute and removing it from the heat before the garlic gets too brown (it can be golden). Pour it into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly. Add the tomatoes, balsamic, basil and some salt and pepper to the bowl. Toss to combine, and then taste and add more basil if needed, and more salt if needed. Set aside.

Top the four cheese pizza with the tomato basil salad. Cut the pizzas into slices and serve.

Pizza Sauce:
Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a hot pan over medium-high heat. Throw in the garlic and chopped onions and give them a stir. Cook until the onions are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, whisking to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid reduces by half. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of sugar. Add the dried oregano and basil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

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Monday-Sausage and Fennel Parm Heros


  • 4 hoagie rolls, split
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages
  • 3 fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced (4 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups jarred marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Basil leaves, for garnish


  1. Preheat the broiler. Place the rolls cut side up on a baking sheet. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the sausages and fennel and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is deep golden and the sausage is cooked through, 15 minutes.
  2. Mound the mixture on the bottom halves of the rolls, then top with the marinara and mozzarella. Broil 6 inches from the heat until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Top with basil leaves, close the sandwiches and serve.

Tuesday-Skillet Hamburger Stroganoff

Skillet Hamburger Stroganoff

1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-ounce) package white mushrooms, halved or quartered, if large
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice, 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups (6-ounces) calcium and fiber enriched penne pasta, (recommended: Ronzoni Smart Taste)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, season to taste with salt and pepper and cook, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl, leaving behind any drippings; reduce the heat to medium.

To the same skillet, add the mushrooms, season with salt and cook until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked mushrooms to the bowl with the beef. Add the oil, onion, carrot, garlic, and paprika to the skillet and continue to cook until the carrots are soft and the onion is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook until the tomato paste has toasted and is evenly coating the vegetables, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broth, water, and the Worcestershire sauce to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and stir in the pasta. Cover and cook according to package directions until the noodles are just al dente. Uncover, stir in the reserved beef and mushrooms until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese, sour cream, chopped parsley, chopped chives, and salt and pepper, to taste, until the cream cheese melts and the sauce is creamy. Divide among 6 bowls. Serve.

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Wednesday- Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

4 cups dried macaroni
1 whole egg
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard (more if desired)
1 pound sharp Cheddar, grated (not pre-grated cheese), plus more for baking
Seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Optional spices: cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the macaroni until still slightly firm. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg. In a large pot, melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook for a couple of minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn. Pour in the milk, add the mustard and whisk until smooth. Cook until very thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.

Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Whisk together until smooth. Pour the egg into the sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth. Add in the cheese and stir to melt. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt and the pepper. Add any additional spices if desired. Taste the sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.

Pour in the drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Serve immediately (while it’s still very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese and bake until bubbly and golden on top, 20 to 25 minutes.

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Thursday-Saucy Skillet Chicken Parmesan



2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 10 ounces each)
1 8 -inch piece day-old baguette (about 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 15 -ounce can tomato puree
1 small clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 4 thin cutlets. Put between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until 1/4 inch thick.

Cut any hard crusts off the bread with a serrated knife, then cut the bread into cubes. Add the bread cubes to a food processor with the motor running, a few pieces at a time, and process to make coarse crumbs (you will have about 1 1/4 cups crumbs).

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons parmesan and cook, stirring, until melted, about 1 more minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons basil; set aside. Preheat the broiler.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; add to the skillet (in batches, if necessary) and cook until golden and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the tomato puree, then rinse out the can with 1 cup water and add to the skillet. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon parmesan; reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup basil and season with salt and pepper.

Return the chicken to the skillet, turning to coat with the sauce. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon parmesan and all but a few tablespoons of the toasted breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and the remaining breadcrumbs. Broil until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.

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Cajun Chicken Pasta

Judges Weigh In Week of January 17th, 2016

This week we had some hits and some misses.  We started out the week with not one -but two Julia Child recipes.  The quiche was a hit, but the lamb was not as well liked.  As we always say, not all meals can be a home run.  The Kentucky Hot Brown was a surprise hit that may become a regular item on the menu.  It was easy and the kids loved it.  Who would have thought??

We are so glad to share with you how we all enjoy these recipes.  If you try any, please let us know.  We would love to hear of your successes or even failures in the kitchen.  Salud.

Sunday-Quiche Lorraine was delicious and very easy to make.  I made the dough the night before which made it easy to put together for our luncheon.  We decided after the swim meet we would have a “luncheon” with a nice green salad and enjoy a nice midday meal together.  As you know, bacon makes everything better and it did with this.  The eggs were very fluffy and silky which made for a great filling.  Everyone enjoyed this and I would recommend trying it-it was surprisingly simple.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

Sunday-Braised Leg of Lamb was not loved by all.  Lamb is something we have tried numerous times in numerous ways.  I think you either like the flavor or you do not.  I am on the ‘not’ side and cannot seem to make it so I like it.  We could not find shanks so we did a leg.  We also combined Julia’s recipe with a recipe from Ina Garten.  Since it was a leg of lamb we had to call an audible.

Lamb has a very distinctive flavor and I think I was under the impression if we braised it for 4 hours it would taste different.  Peter and 2 of our kids ate it, and thought it was pretty good.  I did not and neither did our 9 year old.  I even made a gravy, thinking that would help with the taste.

Even though Peter enjoyed it, I am pretty sure we will not do it again soon.

We also roasted some root vegetables, beets, carrots, potatoes, and turnips, and they we okay.  We need to work on those a little too so that kids and adults both like them.

Braised Lamb

Braised Lamb

Monday-Garlic Roasted Chicken was easy and everyone loved it.  The kids liked that we added some mashed potatoes to this meal.  (They LOVE mashed potatoes.)  The chicken was very moist and we made a gravy to go with it which was delicious.  Gravy seems to be another item that makes everything better.  The chicken was simple to prepare on a weeknight.  I will warn you it takes about 2 hours to cook it, which can be a long time on a school night.

Our daughter made homemade dinner rolls (which she pressed into star shapes) and we added some sauteed spinach.  Adults and kids alike loved this meal.

Roasted Chicken

Garlic Roasted Chicken

Tuesday-Tacos are something I think we could eat every night.  We all love Mexican food and these are so easy on a weeknight.  A few of us (namely me and Peter) are trying to drop a few lbs. to get swimsuit ready for some upcoming trips, so we sidetracked the tortillas and made a taco salad.  Either way is delicious (but we kind of miss the flavor of the corn tortilla).

Wednesday – Cajun Chicken Pasta was really good, and if you’ve followed us for any period of time, you know that our affinity for pasta is hard to beat.  This was a different recipe for us, as it had Creole seasoning on both the chicken and the vegetables, but everyone loved it.  Thank goodness we doubled the recipe because we would never have had enough.  This is a great way to hide some veggies that your Judges may not like on their own, as the seasoning and sauce did a great job blending things together.  Definitely a recommendation for a week night dinner.


Cajun Chicken Pasta

Thursday – Kentucky Hot Browns were a surprise hit.  We saw the picture of this dish, and have seen it on a couple of foodie TV shows that we watch and figured we would give it a shot.  We couldn’t find a regular old turkey breast, so we opted for some thick cut lunch meat, which made this dish really easy.  The one thing our Judges weren’t 100% on was the toast, which is very ironic, as it is basically French Toast.  And French Toast is something our Judges will inhale by the pound.  With this dish, however, they weren’t sold on it.  But, cheese sauce and bacon are sure fire ways to get a Judge to eat anything, and this was no exception.  With a slight modification to the toast strategy, we would definitely add this to our hit list.


Kentucky Hot Browns


Menu and Recipes Week of January 17, 2016

Hard to believe we are already in the 3rd week of the year.  The kids are getting back into the grove of things and are happy to get a day off to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  It is always nice to get a chance to sleep in and enjoy some well deserved rest time.

We are feeling ambitious this week and we are trying two Julia Child recipes.  We are trying them both on Sunday since we have the ability to take our time on Sundays.  We love the chance to try new recipes and spend time together in the kitchen catching up from the week.  When we sit down to enjoy our family night dinner on Sunday nights we always discuss what we have coming up the next week.  It is a great time for us to gather as a family and have some quality time together.  Salud.

Sunday-Quiche Lorraine and Braised Lamb Shanks

Quiche Lorraine

In Lorraine, where it was born, quiche is always made in a round dish or flan ring (either fluted or straight-sided), and with a thin, light crust. This recipe is adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1961).


For the Crust

2 cups flour
14 tsp. salt
1 pinch sugar
8 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp. cold vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling

6 oz. slab bacon, diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 12 cups heavy cream
12 tsp. salt
Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper


For the crust: Sift together flour, salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to work butter and shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle in up to 6 tbsp. ice water, stirring the dough with a fork until it just begins to hold together. Using your hands, press dough firmly into a rough ball, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Give the dough several quick kneads with the heel of your hand to form a smooth dough, then shape into a ball, flatten slightly to make a round, and dust with flour. Wrap round in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400°. Allow dough to soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out on a lightly floured surface into a 14” round. Fit dough, without stretching it, into a buttered 10” bottomless metal flan ring, 1 1⁄2” deep, set on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet with no rim. Press overhanging dough down slightly into sides of ring to make the sides of the crust a little thicker and sturdier. Run the rolling pin over the top of the ring to remove any overhanging dough. Using a fork, prick bottom lightly, then make a decorative edge around the rim. Line dough with buttered aluminum foil, then add pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is set and edge just begins to color, about 25 minutes. Remove foil and weights, brush bottom and sides with egg, and continue baking until crust is pale golden, another 2-5 minutes.
For the filling: Reduce heat to 375°. Put bacon in a medium pan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain. Return bacon to pan and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain, then arrange on bottom of crust.
Beat eggs, cream, and salt together in a medium bowl and season to taste with nutmeg and pepper. Pour mixture into crust and bake until custard is puffed and golden and just set in the center, 30-35 minutes. Slide quiche off parchment paper onto a serving platter and remove ring. Serve quiche warm or at room temperature, sliced into wedges.
Braised Lamb Shanks


  • 3 hind shanks of lamb cut in half crosswise
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • For flavoring the braise:
  • 1 medium yellow onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium leek trimmed, quartered and washed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots coarsely chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk coarsely chopped
  • 1 extra large shallot peeled
  • 4 large cloves garlic–unpeeled crushed
  • Unsalted butter
  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes unpeeled, halved and quartered
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup veal stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • Barley risotto
  • Sprigs of fresh parsley leaves


  1. Browning the Lamb: Salt and pepper lamb shanks, dredge in flour, and pat off excess. Set casserole over moderately high heat; when hot, swirl in just enough butter to film bottom of pan. As butter foam subsides, lay in lamb shanks and sauté, turning often with tongs until all pieces are browned on all sides. Remove casserole from heat; set shanks on a side dish. Remove excess fat from casserole, but leave a film of fat to cook vegetables. Return to burner over moderate heat. Stir onion, leek, carrots, celery, shallot, and garlic into casserole, if necessary adding more butter to coat. Sauté, stirring frequently, for several minutes until lightly browned; stir in tomatoes. Raise heat to moderately high, add thyme and bay leaf and cook 4 minutes more, stirring frequently until vegetables are softened and tomatoes render juices. Return shanks to casserole. Pour on stock and wine, if necessary adding more liquid to cover ingredients. Bring to a simmer on top of stove, then cover and set in preheated 350 F oven. Shanks are done when meat is tender if pierced with a fork and can be pulled cleanly away from bone.
  2. Degreasing the Braising Liquid: Remove lamb shanks to side dish, covering with foil to keep warm. Strain contents of casserole into clean saucepan, pressing on ingredients to extract all liquid and discarding solids. Using a ladle, skim any visible fat off surface of liquid. Set braising liquid over high heat to reduce by half, skimming fat off surface. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Just before serving, remove from heat and swirl in butter. Mound risotto in center of plate; arrange lamb shanks on top and ladle sauce over meat. Scatter parsley leaves and serve.

Monday-Slow Roasted Garlic Chicken

Slow-Roasted Garlic Chicken

2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (5 pound) chicken
4 heads garlic, top 1-inch cut off
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium lemon, halved
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Mix together salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Pat chicken dry and rub all over with 1 of the garlic heads. Rub all over (under skin too) with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place 1 garlic head and 1 lemon half in the chicken cavity.

Arrange remaining garlic, lemon, and onion on the bottom of a 3 to 4-quart baking dish to create a bed. Place chicken on top, add broth to baking dish, and cover tightly with foil. Roast until chicken reaches 135 to 140 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 hour.

Remove foil, brush chicken with pan juices, and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Roast, basting occasionally, until temperature of chicken on inner thigh is 165 degrees F, skin is golden brown, and juices run clear, about 30 to 40 minutes more.

Let rest 10 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, pour pan juices into a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 7 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired. Carve chicken and serve each portion with 1 head of garlic and pan sauce.

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Tuesday-Taco Tuesday

Turkey Tacos

4 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces ground turkey meat (light meat)
1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 plum tomato, chopped
3/4 cup chicken stock
8 soft taco shells
Taco Toppings:
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Shredded sharp Cheddar
Diced avocado
Diced plum tomatoes
Sliced radishes
Sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook, while stirring and breaking up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon, until browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the peppers, zucchini and onions, and saute until the veggies have started to soften, about 5 minutes more. Sprinkle the meat with the chili powder, cumin and paprika and give a good seasoning of salt and pepper; cook until fragrant. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes have broken down and are soft, about 2 minutes more. Add the chicken broth and simmer lightly until the sauce is thickened and all the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil to a small bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Lightly brush both sides of the tortilla shells with the olive oil. Carefully place each tortilla shell over two bars of the oven rack. Bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the shells with tongs after they are baked.

Serve the warm taco shells filled with the turkey veggie filling and topped with lettuce, cheese, avocado, tomatoes, radishes and sour cream.

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Wednesday-Cajun Chicken Pasta

Cajun Chicken Pasta

1 pound fettuccine
About 3 teaspoons Cajun spice mix
3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 whole red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 large red onion, sliced
4 whole Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cups white wine
1 cup heavy cream
Cayenne pepper, for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice (or more) over the chicken cubes. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow the chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Remove the chicken, leaving the skillet on high heat. Add the remaining butter and olive oil. When heated, add the garlic, peppers and onions. Sprinkle on the remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add the tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all the vegetables from the skillet.

With the skillet still over high heat, pour in the chicken broth and wine. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in the cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook the sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until the cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. The sauce should be spicy!

Finally, add the chicken and vegetables to the sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook until the mixture is bubbly and hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the drained fettuccine and toss to combine.

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Thursday-Kentucky Hot Browns

Kentucky Hot Browns

For the turkey:
1 turkey breast, about 4 to 5 pounds
4 tablespoons unsalted soft butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups grated sharp white Cheddar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the egg bread:
4 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
8 (1/2-inch) thick slices good day old white bread (recommended: Pullman or Pain de mie)
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
For assembly:
Egg battered bread
Roasted turkey breast, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
3 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and griddled until slightly charred and just cooked through
1 1/2 cups grated sharp white Cheddar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 thick slices slab bacon, cooked until crisp
Finely chopped fresh chives
Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the turkey:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Rub entire breast with butter and season with salt and pepper. Place in a small roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 155 degrees F, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven, loosely tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

For the sauce:

Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and the flour has cooked out, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in cheese and cook until the cheese has melted. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste.

For the egg bread:

Whisk together the eggs, milk and salt in a medium bowl. Dip each slice of bread in the mixture and let sit about 30 seconds, or until completely soaked through.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook 4 slices of the bread at a time until golden brown on both sides. Remove and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bread.

For assembly:

Preheat broiler. Place the egg bread on a baking sheet, place under the broiler and heat on both sides for 20 seconds just to warm through.

Top each slice of bread with 2 to 3 slices of turkey and 2 slices of tomato, ladle sauce over the top and divide the cheddar cheese and Parmesan over the top of each slice. Place under the broiler and cook until bubbly and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven, top each slice with 2 slices of bacon and sprinkle each slice with chives and parsley.

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Oven Baked Salmon with Toasted Almond and Parsley Salsa

Judges Weigh in Week of January 10th, 2016

Establishing our menu over the weekend and planning everything out is a sure fire way to make our week easier, especially as we have to navigate through school, work, homework and sports with our four Judges.  Despite the busy schedule we have, it is always good for us all to know that at some point each night, we’ll be sitting at the dinner table and can share our day with each other.

This was an interesting week, as we thought we had put together a pretty good menu for the Judges.  Granted, we were slated to have waffles halfway through our menu week, so it couldn’t be all that bad, right?  Turns out our intentions were good, but the textures and tastes proved to be a little challenging for our Judges.  Oven baked salmon – they all love it.  But, with the toasted almond parsley salad…not so much.  But alas, our culinary journey continues and as Peter said to the Judges as their half-eaten plates were removed from the table…you can’t hit a home run every time you’re at bat, right?  We hope you all enjoyed trying some of these recipes this week!  Let us know what you think, and stay tuned for our upcoming menu release for next week.  Salud.

Sunday’s Supremes de Vollaille a Blanc (as Peter put it – chicken with wine and butter) was really good.  We don’t always focus on trying to match our picture to the picture on the menu we release earlier, but we thought both the taste and visual of this dish was great.  Julia Child has yet to let us down as this was our fourth Sunday Family Night Dinner using one of her recipes and there were no leftovers, which is always a sign of a good meal.  We added some green beans and cous cous and ended our weekend rinsing clean plates.


Supremes de Vollaille a Blanc (chicken with wine and butter)

Monday’s Oven Baked Salmon was thought by all to be a good dish heading towards the table.  Peter and I kind of had a feeling that the toasted almond and parsley salsa was going to be a challenge for the Judges, and we were right.  We thought the combination of toasted almonds, shallots, capers and red wine vinegar was absolutely delicious and would make it again without hesitation.  We got a few raised eyebrows and signs of hesitation as the plates were handed out, and we had a few pieces of salmon left on the plates.  The creamy, tangy and salty combination of the salsa proved too much for the younger Judges as they picked their way through the dinner.  So, our recommendation on this meal if you have little Judges of your own:  Go with the salmon, but leave the salsa on the side.  We also tried butternut squash as a side dish and got mixed reviews.  The texture was the main issue, but as we always tell the Judges, you can’t tell us you don’t like it until you’ve actually tried it.


Oven Baked Salmon with Toasted Almond and Parsley Salsa

Tuesday was waffle night, so there’s not much to say here.  The Judges love both the sweet and savory breakfast items we serve, and waffles are at the top of the list.  And who can argue with adding whipped cream to them?


Waffles with Whipped Cream

Wednesday’s Crock Pot Cheesy Chicken and Rice was a dish we had relatively high expectations for. Chicken?  Good. Cheese?  Good. Rice?  Good. For some strange reason, this was not a hit.  Maybe partly due to the visual image of a big yellow dish. Maybe it was the texture being a little ‘mushy’?  Not sure, but the adults thought this was pretty good.  Afterthought – maybe some crushed red pepper or sriracha would have been a good addition to mix up the look of the dish.


Cheesy Chicken and Rice

Thursday’s Chicken and Dumplings was somewhat of a disappointment but not because the Judges didn’t like it.  They all have seen the commercial for the new Kung Fu Panda movie and had this idea of what a dumpling was – a Chinese steamed potsticker.  Whereas in reality, it’s a steamed biscuit.  So, while dinner was good and we would recommend this, just make sure your Judges have the right expectation of what a dumpling is!


Chicken and Dumplings



Menu and Recipes Week of January 10th, 2016

It is a great sense of accomplishment to have the recipes picked out and the shopping done to start off the week.  It gives everyone the reassurance that a meal will be on the table at some point each evening.  This blog is a view into how we do it, but it is also to help those of you out there that are having trouble getting organized or motivated.

We try new things and they are not always a hit, but it is good to know know we are challenging ourselves and the kids to eat outside of all of our comfort zones.  (Like channeling our inner Julia Child each Sunday.)  We hope you enjoy our blog and try some of our recipes.  We have the hope we will open your families culinary eyes and get organized all at the same time.  Salud.

Sunday-Supremes de Vollaille a Blanc



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a heavy, oven-proof casserole, about 10 inches in diameter until it is foaming. Stir in the minced shallots or green onion and saute a moment without browning. Then stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for a minute or two without browning. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Quickly roll the chicken in the butter mixture and lay a piece of buttered wax paper over them, cover casserole and place in hot oven. After 6 minutes, press top of chicken with your finger. If still soft, return to oven for a moment or two. When the meat is springy to the touch it is done.
  4. Remove the chicken to a warm platter (leave mushrooms in the pot) and cover while making the sauce (2 to 3 minutes).
  5. To make sauce, pour the stock and wine in the casserole with the cooking butter and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly. Off heat, taste for seasoning, and add drops of lemon juice to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Monday-Oven-Baked Salmon

Oven-Baked Salmon

12 ounce salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
Coarse-grained salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Toasted Almond Parsley Salsa, for serving
Baked squash, for serving, optional
Toasted Almond Parsley Salad:
1 shallot
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Coarse grain salt
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup toasted almonds
Extra-virgin olive oil

Watch how to make this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Season salmon with salt and pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, on a non-stick baking sheet or in a non-stick pan with an oven-proof handle. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with the Toasted Almond Parsley Salad and squash, if desired.

Toasted Almond Parsley Salad:
Mince the shallot and add to a small bowl. Pour the vinegar over the shallots and add a pinch of salt. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Roughly chop the capers, parsley and almonds and add to the shallots. Add the olive oil, tasting as you go. Mix again and adjust the seasonings.

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2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated, plus 2 additional egg whites
1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter, melted, plus softened butter, for serving
Warm syrup, for serving

Watch how to make this recipe.
Special equipment: Waffle iron

Preheat the waffle iron to the regular setting.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla and 2 egg yolks. Pour over the dry ingredients and very gently stir until halfway combined. Pour in the melted butter and continue mixing very gently until combined.

In a separate bowl using a whisk (or a mixer), beat the 4 egg whites until stiff. Slowly fold them into the batter, stopping short of mixing them all the way through.

Scoop the batter into your waffle iron in batches and cook according to its directions (lean toward the waffles being a little deep golden and crisp!). Serve immediately with softened butter and warm syrup.

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Wednesday-Crock Pot Cheesy Chicken and Rice

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken & Rice

  • 1 (8oz) box Zatarain’s Yellow Rice, cooked according to package.
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, or cheese blend
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (10.5oz) can cream of chicken soup (I used the healthy choice reduced fat and sodium)
  • 1 (15oz) can of corn, drained
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  1. Place chicken into crockpot and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle your chopped onions on top of chicken.
  2. Mix together the two cups of chicken broth and can of cream of chicken soup.
  3. Pour mixture over chicken.
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours.
  5. Right before serving, shred chicken with 2 forks.
  6. Add in cooked & prepared Zatarain’s rice, cheese and corn.
  7. Mix well, until cheese is melted.

Thursday-Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 20-ounce package peeled and diced butternut squash
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
2 sprigs dill plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut up
1/4 cup lowfat (1-percent) milk
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and add to the hot oil. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside but is not cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, reserving the oil in the pan.

Stir in the squash, celery and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, dill sprigs and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer until a knife easily pierces through the squash, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. With your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk just until a dough forms.

Stir the chicken and peas into the broth and bring to a simmer. Drop the dough into the simmering broth by teaspoons, spacing them evenly to make about 16 dumplings. Cover and simmer on medium low for 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Discard the dill sprigs. Top with chopped dill and serve.

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Judges Weigh in Week of January 3rd, 2016

This week we tried a few new recipes and not all of them were a hit.  We started out strong on Sunday with our weekly Julia Child meal.  We then hit a low note with the double turkey patty melt.  The texture seemed strange and not very appealing.  The kids are always good sports, but you can always tell when they do not like something.  You can either see it in their faces or on their plates.  We can’t always win, but it’s fun trying!  Let us know if you try any of our recipes.  Salud.

Sunday-Chicken Fricasse

Chicken Fricasse

This was a huge hit.  The kids loved it.  Who wouldn’t like it with all the butter that goes into Julia’s cooking, but our 9 year old said it was the best meal ever.  This is a true adult meal, but the kids were raving about it.  We served it with roasted red potatoes and broccoli.  Like any good Sunday meal, it took some time to make, but in the end was delicious.  This has become our favorite part of the week…mastering the art of French cooking.  I also love the fact that our 9 year old took the leftovers for lunch in his thermos and said his friends at his lunch table all wanted some!

Monday-Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup

This is a perfect meal for a cold January evening.  It has not been as cold as usual here, but this soup warmed people up and filled them up.  It was simple to make and very kid friendly.  There was a lot of cheese in it and the chunky potatoes made for a great texture.  The bacon, as usual, made a delicious garnish as well as helped flavor the soup.  We added a salad with our new favorite crouton, the chow mein noodle.

Tuesday-Double Decker Turkey Patty Melt

Turkey Patty Melts

These burgers had a strange texture.  I would have to say this was a meal we will not do again.  The kids ate it but by the looks on their faces and the food that was left on their plates-they were not in love with this meal. Always good to try something new whether or not it is a hit.

Wednesday-Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs

Chicken Meatball Pasta

We have just discovered this shape/type of pasta and everyone really likes it.  The chicken meatballs in this meal were very good.  I cannot take any credit for them-Peter did this whole meal.  The kids loved the new take on the meatball and cleaned their plates.  And, we ended up with a surprise guest Judge.  As they say, it takes a village, and on this night, we proved it.  We didn’t know about our guest Judge until 6:30, but as always, we had plenty, so it wasn’t a problem.  Her review:  top notch.  I would have to say there could have been some more sauce.  It seemed a little dry.  Since we eat in shifts, we all do not get to have the meal as soon as it is ready.  Sometimes it has to be reheated or eaten as is, so the meal is not always the way it was meant to be.  C’est la vie.

Thursday-Beef Empanadas

Beef Empanadas

These were interesting.  The kids loved the puffed pastry the filling was stuffed in to.  We had so much filling, we were able to make some burritos to add to the meal. The filling had a sweet and savory taste to it.  I would say if we did them again we would leave out the raisins.  We did leave the olives out of the filling.  Our 11 year old ate one of the burritos with a fried egg on top of it for breakfast the next morning (Peter will post this separately).  I would say this was on the mediocre scale of meals-I love the idea of the empanada, but would put a different filling in them next time.

Enjoy.  Salud.