Tuscan Stuffed Chicken

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First disclaimer: this dish perhaps cannot be called “Tuscan” in a strict sense of the word. What is Tuscan cooking specifically, as opposed to our sanitized American version of Italian food? I’m not totally sure. Frances Maye’s fabulous Under the Tuscan Sun would have me believe…not this.

This dinner originated from one of those, “I have a lot of random in the fridge – what can I do?” kind of moments that make cooking so great. And what I found was that the earthy flavors of the mushroom, combined with the bloomy blue cheese (or bleu cheese, if you’re into pretentious spelling) and the garlicky sauce all combine to make a hearty dish that recalls long days hiking the hills, sun warmed cobblestone streets, and un bicchiere di vino at the end of the day.

What do true Tuscan people eat? I have no idea. What I ate in Tuscany (pizza/pasta/wine/repeat) is not sustainable for a nice long life, unlike this dish I’m about to share. But there is something about this dish – it’s rusticity, it’s simplicity – that makes me think (or hope?) that calling it Tuscan isn’t too far off the mark.



. 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

. 2 tablespoons each feta cheese and blue cheese

. 1 large handful of fresh spinach, chopped or chiffonaded

. 1/2 cup chopped cremini mushrooms

. 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

. 1/2 cup red wine

. 1 jar of prepared marinara sauce OR equivalent amount of homemade sauce

. EVOO, salt and pepper

. Optional add-ins: dried shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, glug of balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes

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1. Pre-heat the oven to 425, then coat the bottom of a glass pan or baking dish with EVOO and a little bit of marinara sauce. Just cover the bottom so the chicken won’t stick.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the feta, blue cheese, mushrooms, spinach, Italian seasoning and any of the add-in ingredients you’d like. Cover everything with 1/2 cup of marinara sauce and a small glug of EVOO. Mix well until it’s all combined.

3. Prep the chicken by trimming any fat and making two slits down the middle. I cut mine all the way through so the stuffing mix can really cook in.

Prepped chicken breasts

4. Lay the chicken in a pan and stuff away!

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5. Layer extra stuffing mixture on top. The cheese will melt in and the spinach will wilt nicely, so don’t be dainty about it – use it all, as the top photo shows.

6. Cover the pan with more sauce (you can be more or less saucy based on personal preference) and then add some red wine over the top and around the sides. The wine gives it a subtle depth not unlike chicken marsala, though less heavy handed.

7. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes covered, then the final 10 uncovered. If the liquid in the bottom is bubbling and the chickens are simmering slightly, you’ll know you’re done.

8. Serve over a bed of quinoa, brown rice, pasta, or just eat!

2014-07-29 20.11.10

New York Times Green Goddess Chicken

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Last night was a first attempt at the now infamous New York Times Green Goddess Chicken recipe, and hoo boy was it a hit! A hit with ourselves, naturally, because nobody else lives here and we would never attempt a new recipe for the first time when we had guests over (OR WOULD WE?!) We congratulated ourselves heartily.

Up until now, I’ve always thought of Green Goddess dressing as a feisty, zippy sidekick for salad only. Who am I, world’s least imaginative cook? Why yes, yes I am, nice to meet you. But really. It’s called SALAD DRESSING. Forgive me for not thinking outside the box.

Only we are way outside the box with this one, and it’s a delicious place indeed. The buttermilk and herbs give a nice lift to what would otherwise be a pretty standard (though still delectable) chicken. As Julia Child said in My Life in France, “Ooh, those lovely roasted, buttery French chickens, they were so good and chickeny!” The same could be said of our local SF chickens, though I don’t know any chicken, chickeny! or otherwise, not made better by a tangy, savory sauce, and most especially one that is rip roaring, herbalicious, Hulk-style bright green!

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The next time we make this, I’d use only one sardine (as opposed to two anchovies) for a hint of fish, as opposed to being slapped in the face with a fish. A fish slap seems like the stuff of great physical comedies from the Victorian era. Super funny, yet non-appetizing.

I’d also recommend lightening up on the salt. The marinade was SUPER salty. Like, Great Salt Lake + the side eye your granny gives you when you tell a dirty joke at Thanksgiving. SALTY! I would back off by at least a half teaspoon, if not a full teaspoon. Which doesn’t seem like much, but when you also have the saltiness from the fish, a little sea salt goes a long, long way. We paired our chicken with a roasted sweet potato, primarily to serve as a vehicle for more Green Goddess dressing, because duh. You can also take remaining dressing and use it as a dipping sauce for the chicken itself. OR you can be a true Little Suzy Fat Pants and dump it on top of your cooked chicken, which may be what we did…

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. 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

. 1 cup packed basil leaves

. 1/4 cup packed dill

. 2 garlic cloves, peeled

. 1 sardine filet in oil

. 1 scallion, white and green parts

. Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

. 1 – 1 1/5 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (to taste)

. 1 teaspoon black pepper

. 1 (4- to 5-pound) chicken, halved through the breast and back bones, patted dry with paper towels

. 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


1. Blend together the buttermilk, herbs, garlic, sardine, scallion, lime, S&P. Puree until smooth. It will froth lightly.

2. Place the chicken in a large bowl and cover with marinade. Refridge overnight. Reserve the rest of the marinade in a jar for later use.

3. The next day (hi! how did you sleep?) preheat the over to 500. Meanwhile…

4. Shake the marinade off the chicken pieces, then lay them on a large rimmed baking sheet. Pat the chicken dry, then drizzle with a bit of EVOO. Toss the old marinade, as it is now full of raw chicken juices. This is also something about which your granny would give you the side eye – a cavalier attitude toward poultry safety.

5. Roast the chicken until it’s cooked through, anywhere form 30-45 minutes. Juices should run clear and the outside will be gloriously crispy. It took my chicken exactly 40 minutes, but just watch it.

6. The hardest part – let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before you rip in. I know you want to caveman it UP right now, but patience.


Shakshuka 3

Shakshuka – Tunisian eggs baked in tomatoes – seems to be a divisive dish. Either you love it or hate it. It’s like the Hillary Clinton of recipes and everyone’s got an opinion. I, for the record, LOVED this recipe. And also Hillary Clinton. But mostly, this recipe, because it was spicy, kinda weird, and the easiest thing in all the land to make.

Le Fiance…not so much. Though, much like his political beliefs, he’s a middle of the road man. Didn’t love it, but definitely didn’t hate it. Went searching for a third party candidate, which he found – in the form of ice-cream.

Normally, I too, would rather eat ice-cream than a North African dish. Not because I believe in the less-ness of North African food, mind you. I just don’t like it. Tunisian, Ethiopian, Eritrean and other North African cuisines are often known for the addition of egg where, to my American palate, egg does not belong. I am also weird about eggs. There! I said it.

What I’ve realized, however, is that a lot of people (Americans) think of AFRICA! as this magical place that still looks like The Jungle Cruise in Disney Land, and that everyone must be eating the same thing, the whole continent over, and that thing must taste weird and they probably won’t like it. If you have ever tried Ethiopian food and didn’t like it, you would probably think that, too, and then cease eating food from any part of Africa. I knew someone like that for a long time. Her name rhymed with Schmilary.

But then I went to Africa and had to eat. For quite awhile. And in East Africa, I had some of the most wonderful food experiences of my life. In Tanzania, it was all mchele na maharage (rice and beans) all the time. Unless you decided to treat yourself by ordering chipsi mayai (fried eggs over french fries) and that, my friends, was always a very happy day. Simple foods that sustain. Plus, french fries. How can you not?

To contrast: France. Center of the gastro republique. I was recently in Saint-Louis and ordered a martini rouge, thinking it would be some delicious berry-flavored martini. What I received was a glass of vermouth that tasted astonishingly of mushrooms. It was awful, and an awful food experience was something I thought impossible in tres chic France. The other awful thing? My grasp of the French language. Note to self: stick with wine.

All of this is to say, both travel and cooking are so interesting because of the beautiful cultural collisions that happen most often around a table. We can learn so much about another country, its history and its people, simply by eating its food. And then you can decide if you like it or not. Because – NEWS FLASH – it’s okay not to like stuff.

In the same way that my Czech friend thinks our American propensity for smoothies is disgusting (“You smooth everything! Spinach is smoothie! How ick!” – direct quote from Czech friend), I think drinking a full glass of mushroom vermouth is tres ick, or mixing eggs into things where eggs should not be mixed is ick.

Until, that is, I made shakshuka. Picture this: fried eggs with delicious runny yolks. Fiery tomato sauce with a hint of smoke and a hefty kapow! of spice. Cheese. Oh! And more cheese. And fresh basil on top, but let’s be honest – the basil is the pretty-maker, the greenery that adds contrast in food photos. The basil is wholly unnecessary, as far as I’m concerned, because hi. CHEESE. Though it maketh my stomach hurt, it amazeth me, cheese.

We ate it for dinner, but in my heart of hearts, I believe this to be a breakfast dish because that’s where eggs belong. Also, I’d LOVE to pair this with a large cup of coffee.

If you like eggs, tomato, spice and feeling adventurous, you will like this dish. Or maybe you won’t. But as my mom always said, “It doesn’t matter if you like it. It matters that you try it.”

And if all else fails…there’s always ice-cream.



. 2 tablespoons olive oil

. 1/2 medium onion diced finely (I do mine in the food processor)

. 4 cloves of garlic

. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (normal okay too!)

. 1 teaspoon cumin

. 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

. 1/4 cup white wine

. One 15 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (spiced or not)

. One yellow bell pepper (diced)

. 6 eggs

. 1/4 cup of half and half

. Fresh basil

. S&P to taste, plus goat cheese for the top


1. Preheat the oven to 425. Then, heat EVOO in a large skillet and add onions. Cook them until they’re lovely and translucent. If you have a large cast iron skillet, you can do everything in it! Lucky you! If you are not so lucky as to be in possession of a large cast iron skillet YET (come on wedding registry!) then you will have to do some transferring.

2. Press in four garlic cloves, stir, then add paprika, cumin, pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium for another two-ish minutes.

3. Once things are mixed and fragrant and the bell pepper has softened up, add the wine and cook down until the liquid is reduced. This should take another two minutes or so.

Shakshuka 1

4. Add tomatoes and increase the heat until your dish begins to boil. Not a rolling boil exactly (one of cooking’s most disgusting phrases) but a gentle boil, just up-tempo of a simmer, if you will. Do this simmering for about eight minutes, so things can absorb.

5. If you don’t have a cast iron, transfer the whole mixture into a glass baking dish (or small dutch oven) If you have a cast iron skillet, please forget we ever had this talk and proceed directly to number 6.

6. Turn off the heat and crack your six eggs directly on top of the sauce. It looks weird and a little gross, but you can do it. Then, crumble a little goat cheese over the top of the eggs (again, strange, I know) and then pour the half and half on top of THAT. You can use as much goat cheese as you like. We, the lactose-intolerant, treat goat cheese with a light hand, but you do you. Trust me, whatever you do, just put that sucker in the oven because it starts to look really gross. See?

Shakshuka 2


7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the eggs set. If you don’t like your eggs too “eggy” (meaning runny, I guess?) then let them go for a bit longer. If you like ’em running like they’re in a half marathon, take them out at 15 on the dot.

8. Chiffonade some basil and top with parm or more goat cheese. We ate ours with hearty slices of this bread, as you probably could have imagined.


Shakshuka 4



Colorado Enchiladas

photo 1 Type “green chili” into any search engine and “Colorado” will pop right up. Why is my great square state so known for green chili? No idea. All I know is that my mom makes bomb green chili and though it’s meant to be smothered on things, we sometimes eat it straight out of the bowl like soup. And then our taste buds fall off due to spiciness, but life is not without its risks, amirite? photo 2 This recipe does not feature my mom’s green chili. I feel I need to say that right up front. To do that, we’d need to fly home and interview my mom – something that is definitely on the GSG long-term plan – but this week, we are here in SF and that is not part of the short-term plan. But these enchiladas are. And they still call for that most Colorado of ingredient, green chili. This week, we’re using green chili from a jar. I know, I’m hanging my head in shame right now. BUT! But but! If you have a green chili recipe you love, you should totally use it here. Don’t let my corner-cutting drag you into the gutter. Hold your head up high, you!

Simple, delicious, and definitely not very good for you, these enchiladas feature another very simple ingredient that makes anything better: cream cheese. Spaghetti sauce? Put a little cream cheese in there. Sushi? CREAM CHEESE. Cake? Add some cream cheese. You can see where this is going. Normally I restrain myself from going full-on cream cheese crazy because I’d like my arteries clear and my wedding dress to fit, but exceptions must be made. Because life is not without its risks, but it’s certainly also not without reward.

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. 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

. 2 packets of cream cheese . 2 scallions, thinly sliced

. 1 15 ounce can of crushed tomatoes . 4 cloves of pressed garlic

. 1 tablespoon of cumin

. 1 teaspoon of sea salt

. 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

. 1 15 ounce jar of green chili/salsa verde

. 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped

. At least 10 small flour tortillas


1. Preheat the oven to 350, if cooking right away.

2. Boil a pan of lightly salted water, then cook the chicken breasts until they are…well, cooked. People are always recommending you cook chicken until “juices run clear” but in a pan of boiling water, that might be hard slash impossible to see. I boiled for 12 minutes and it worked out just great. Let the chicken cool before shredding.

3. While the chicken is cooking, beat together the cream cheese, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Add in the tomatoes, green onions, and jalapeño after that and mixy mix!

4. Shred the chicken into the cream cheese/tomato mixture, then stir again. After that, spoon the mixture into flour tortillas, as much or as little as you’d like. If you like guidelines, 1/3 cup per tortilla is fine.

5. Cover the whole shebang with green chili/salsa verde/tomatillo salsa/green enchilada sauce. Whatever you prefer! Then cover that whole shebang with shredded cheese. Bake on 350 until the cheese is melted, or about 20 minutes.

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Berkeley Bowl Panzanella

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Last weekend we found ourselves in one of our top five places in the Bay Area. Golden Gate Bridge? Nah. Crissy Field? Nope. The Palace of Fine Arts? Nyet! Berkeley Bowl. Ye Hallowed grocery story, built in a former bowling alley, Berkeley Bowl is that famous joint right between the gourmet ghetto and campus, full of the most delicious produce. If it made any sort of sense at all – and if I didn’t have to fight through the equally famous Bay Area traffic – I would exclusively shop here.

Half the fun of Berkeley Bowl is knowing that you’re buying organic and local, because that’s a huge part of their produce section. The other half of the fun is that they have everything, so if you are suddenly struck by pea shoots and purple carrots, and then you want to build an Asian dish around those two things, they also have spring roll wrappers, soba noodles, seaweed, and whatever else your little heart might desire. Tears are shed at Berkeley Bowl, it’s just that amazing. If you would like to skip to the recipe, instead of listen me wax ecstatic about the Bizerkely Bowl, skip ahead. I’ll still be here, weeping into my tomatoes.

Tomatoes: a still life.

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Or, if you’re like us, you like any and all produce and you buy a little of everything. That’s exactly how our Berkeley Bowl Panzanella came to be: a pound of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, a half pound of tricolor sweet peppers, a beautiful purple onion, some fresh basil, big heads of pinky organic garlic, and some obligatory citrus, because we’re right in that halfway place between winter and spring. Citrus, with its good friend kale, is coming out of our ears.

This panzanella also came to be as the love child of Smitten Kitchen, ye hallowed blogger who I love so much, and the summer panzanella from Outerlands, ye formerly hallowed and hard to get in to restaurant. While Deb’s panzanella is full-on summer, and Outerlands’ panzanella was always a bit fussy (squash blossoms, rosemary infusions) this one is more a humble dressed salad, winter citrus-infused, with the proud addition of warm homemade bread straight from the oven. A halfway meal between winter and spring that is secretly whispering, “Come on, Summer!”

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Salad Ingredients:

. 6-8 small tricolor sweet peppers

. 1 lb.  heirloom tomatoes (about three large tomatoes)

. 1 ripe avocado

. 1/3 purple/red onion, diced

. 1 freshly baked loaf of badass bread with italian seasonings added on top before baking

Dressing Ingredients:

. 1/2 lemon

. 2-3 cloves of garlic

. 1/4 cup EVOO

. 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard

. Pinches of S&P

Optional garnishes: a small handful of sweet California basil and some grated cheese. We used a mix of pecorino and romano.


1. 4-6 hours before you eat, prep the bread dough and set aside.

2. 45 minutes before you’d like to eat, put the dough in the oven on 450, anywhere from 20-35 minutes. My oven takes a full 35.

3. Chop up all the ingredients to your liking. I diced my onions and peppers, cut my avocado into small cubes, and did some strange hybrid chop/dice with the tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes often have split skins and bulbous shapes, so just do the best you can to cut them into bite sized pieces.

2. Let the ingredients sit for a few minutes while you make the dressing. Whisk together the 1/4 cup of evoo, 2-3 (up to you) pressed garlic, 1/2 tablespoon of dijon, and then juice the half lemon right into it. Salt and pepper to your taste.

3. Remove your bread from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes. Once it’s cooled, slice off about a third of the loaf and rip it into pieces for giant croutons. Some would prefer crustier bread or day-old bread for these, but, um, FRESH BREAD. The fresh warmth is so delicious I just don’t see how anyone can argue.

4. Toss the croutons very lightly into some of the dressing, then add them to the salad. You can chiffonade some basil over the top, or top with some simple grated cheese.

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Et voila! This made three servings for us: two very hearty helpings for dinner (ahem) and enough to have the rest as a tasty side for lunch the next morning.

Enjoy it!

Spring Vegetable Soup

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Is everyone else obsessed with Love & Lemons or is it just me? We cook from this beautiful blog at least twice each week and we’re in love. Heads up Jeanine and Jack – we’re falling hard over here.

I used to think that vegan, gluten-free, seasonal cooking was mostly for people with food allergies, people who pretend to have food allergies, bandwagon eaters, and worst of all – picky eaters. There’s nothing I disdain more than a picky eater, unless, of course, the thing you won’t eat is bananas. Then you’re just spot on, because bananas are disgusting.

But, as it turns out, non. The more I eat from the Love & Lemons archives, the better I feel. And the fact that it’s usually vegan or gluten-free or seasonal is probably why. And while I will never hate on bread and its assorted compatriots – especially since I made no fewer than eight loaves of this bread during our Christmas break – we’ve been eating a whole lot lighter lately and we love it.

But what I mostly really love about what Jeanine and Jack post is that it’s a great jumping off point for other things. Other dishes, other ingredients, other flavors. We don’t always have some of the rare or Asian-inspired ingredients on hand, but a quick swapperoo and a modification or two and nobody is the wiser.

Enter last night’s soup. A delicious green confection, chock full of seasonal veggies and interesting flavors. The sweetness and bright zing of the leeks mellows out when the peas and mushrooms are added, and a splash of balsamic is just enough to give it some punch.

I tried to make it correctly – that is, according to the recipe – but my love for experimenting is well documented. Something just wasn’t quite right, so we did a little adapting and tasting along the way, and ended up with this.


And lo, it was good. Sometimes, when food is simple and you feel good eating it, that’s all that needs to be said.

Though – one more thing to say – this soup gets better the longer it sits, so consider making it a day ahead and stashing it in the fridge or just freezing it!


(adapted from Love & Lemons)


. 2 T olive oil

. 2 medium-sized leeks, light green & white parts, coarsley chopped

. 1/2 cup cooked peas, fresh or frozen (either is fine)

. 1/4 cup crimini mushrooms

. 1 shallot, coarsley chopped

. 2 garlic cloves, coarsley chopped

. splash of white wine

. one can of chickpeas

. 1.5 cups vegetable broth

. pinches of salt and pepper

. 1/2 cup half and half

. handful of italian parsley, some stems are ok

. 7 large basil leaves

. splash of honey or agave

. juice of half a lemon (to taste)

. splash of balsamic vinegar

. 1/2 cup water if needed

Yogurt sauce:

. 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

. splash of honey

. splash of olive oil

. squeeze of lemon

. pinch of salt


1. In a large stock pot, heat the EVOO, add a splash of white wine and the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms reduce down and are soft. They should be giving off that nice, earthy mushroom smell, like stinky feet. Appetizing, no? Once they’re done, remove them from the pot and set them aside.

2. Heat a bit more oil, then add leeks, shallots, peas,  garlic and a few pinches of salt. Saute until translucent, about five minutes. Add a splash of white wine and let it cook down for 30 seconds to a minute. Add rinsed and drained chickpeas and vegetable broth. Let the whole thing simmer for ten minutes or so, until the chickpeas are tender. Add another few pinches of salt. I love Maldon sea salt and keep a small cellar of it stove-side.

3. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp or just above. Then, pour the whole thing into a blender and add the cream, lemon juice, herbs, honey and mushrooms. I tried my immersion blender on this mixture and it just didn’t get it pureed enough, so into the blender it went.

At this point, you will likely need to adjust something. We fiddled with it for quite awhile before settling on a bit more cracked pepper and a splash of balsamic. My go-to fix is always a squeeze of lemon or a splash of balsamic and it rarely fails me.

4. Put it back into the pan to get it piping hot, then swirl in a dollop of yogurt sauce and serve. We ate ours with warm pecorino garlic bread from the Irish bakery around the corner, but you could also just sip it out of a mug and congratulate yourself on saying no to bread, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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Best Ever Pad Thai (that is not pad Thai but something else vaguely Asian)

Pad Thai and I have a special relationship. I love it, and yet, I cannot make it. I crave it constantly, and yet, the best pad Thai ever comes from Citrus Club. Never from my kitchen. We’ve tried, my little kitchen and I. My poor book club has suffered through my mediocre pad Thai efforts, as has my boyfriend. Finally, I gave up. And then I found this recipe, on Twin Tables, and my desire to attempt was reignited, not so much because I really wanted to get good at pad Thai (underachiever alert!) but because I was hungry and that peanut sauce sounded dang delicious.

My only problem – other than a history of bad pad Thai making – was that I lacked some crucial ingredients. Namely, peanut butter. And siracha. And sesame oil. So, like, several key ingredients. Yet, I attempted it anyway, because this is what hunger coupled with a lack of appropriate apprehension will do for you: make you so emboldened in the kitchen that you will throw things together in your food processor and blithely believe that it will all work out.

In this case, it actually did.

Instead of peanut butter, I used almond butter, which gave the sauce a sweeter, smoother taste. Not everyone would cotton to this substitution, but I loved it, and will only make peanut sauce with almond butter now. Also, I will always still refer to it as “peanut sauce” though it is clearly not. Mystifying.

My other key substitution was to use red chile powder in place of siracha. I love the kick of chile powder, which sneaks up on you, versus siracha which you can smell from a mile away and infuses everything it touches. It’s like the difference between being jumped in an alley late at night versus walking into a fight Sharks and Jets style, where you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Personally, I prefer the element of surprise that chile powder brings to the back alley. Also, I didn’t have any siracha.

So, with all of these things in mind, you are thusly thinking that this recipe will be for pad Thai, since that’s what it says up top. Nay, friends. This recipe is for something else. Something akin to noodles and peanut sauce, and yet, it’s not peanut sauce (see above). It’s definitely not pad Thai (again, sorry) but it is most definitely delicious. You should make it. It’s a bit of an effort, but not without reward. That reward being, of course, that you get to shove this whole mess into your mouth as quickly as your little heart desires.



Not-Peanut Sauce

. 1/2 cup of almond butter

. 1/2 cup of soy sauce

. 4 cloves of garlic, chopped

. 1/4 cup of honey

. 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar

. 1 tablespoon of red chile powder

. 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger

. 1 lime, juiced

Noodles and Protein

. 1-2 chicken breasts OR 1 cup of peeled shrimp, or any protein you’d like

. 1 packet of wide rice noodles (I used Annie Chun’s)

. 1/2 cup carrots, cut in matchsticks

. 1/4 cup scallions

. 1/2 cup roasted peanuts and a small bunch of cilantro, for garnish


1. Cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions.

2. While noodles are cooking, grate ginger, chop carrots, and measure out sauce ingredients. Put all the sauce ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth. It will froth slightly, and that’s good.

3. In a well-oiled skillet, cook your protein to your desired level of doneness. I lightly pan seared chicken with a bit of salt and pepp.

4. Once your protein has finished, add cooked noodles, carrots, scallions and then pour as much sauce as you’d like over the top, reserving 1/4 cup for serving. As soon as the noodles and carrots start to glaze and get that nice crunch on the outside, you’re done!

4. Pour remaining sauce over noodle bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro and peanuts over the top. If you don’t have cilantro (because guess who didn’t? That’s right) fresh basil also tastes great.

Campsite Pasta

Our camping trip this weekend was wonderful: great friends, a beautiful lake, a nice bottle of wine, and sleeping under the stars. The only thing that makes camping even better than all that, in my opinion, is amazing food!

My friend Giovanni is from a small town near Bologna, and in true Italian fashion, he decided his contribution to our fireside feast would be pasta with homemade basil pesto. While his recipe didn’t differ too much from the standard – basil, parmesan, salt, EVOO, and walnuts – he says the trick to pesto is all what happens after you cook:

“Even though you remove the pasta from heat, it still continues to cook. If you put fresh pesto straight on the hot pasta, it will burn the parmesan and won’t taste quite right.”

He transferred the pasta from bowl to pot about 10 times to cool it down before spreading on the pesto. And sure enough – delizioso! And much more sophisticated than hot dogs.

Thanks, Giovanni!


Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Do you ever sometimes crave those delicious – and really bad! – foods from when you were little? Zebra cakes, corn dogs, Oreo blizzards from DQ? Is it just me? Should I not have admitted that sometimes a can of Orange Crush hits the spot better than anything else?

In that vein, while we’re still on all things lemony, yellowy and good, I thought this week was the perfect time to make mac and cheese for grown-ups, also known as lemon ricotta pasta. First found on The Kitchn a few years ago, I’ve modified this recipe just a bit to include more pepper, more basil and more lemon. While Kraft Easy Mac may recall happy memories, the bland taste of its fake cheese can recoil the stomach. This bright and seasonal dish is a punched up mac and cheese for grown-ups. Lemony, yellowy, and, if I do say so myself, really, really good.


. One small tub of cottage cheese

. One small tub of ricotta cheese

. One lemon

. Small shaped pasta (I like shells or oriechette best)

. 1/4 cup of basil leaves, to taste

. Freshly grated parm

. A few glugs of EVOO

. Lots of salt and pepper


1. Boil the water for the pasta, and when it’s rolling, add noodles.

2. Put one cup of ricotta, one cup of cottage cheese, the EVOO, and the zest and juice of the entire lemon into a food processor or blender and zoom zoom! The original recipe calls for all ricotta, but I like the smoothness cottage cheese adds to this dish. Plus, ricotta can feel a bit heavy (hello too much lasagna!) and for me, summer is all about keeping it light!

3. Place the heavenly blend from the food processor into a metal bowl and heat it over the pasta water as it cooks. Should this not loosen the cheese mixture enough (as dictated by the original recipe) you can give it a quick zap. While it would be ideal for everything to turn out perfectly, sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s okay to utilize your friend the microwave to get this cheese to the perfect, melty consistency.

4. Once the pasta is done, mix the cheese blend in, and top with the parm, salt, pepper, and basil. When I serve this dish warm, as intended, I chiffonade my basil into long thin strips. The next day, it makes an excellent cold pasta salad, and I throw in whole basil leaves instead, plus tomato, mushroom, and anything else fresh that catches my eye.