Pie, to Fill the Void {Buttermilk Crack Pie}

Well, friends, once again I’ve left this space feeling lonely and neglected.  No excuses, other than work and children and life.  Where once this was my escape, now it sits forlorn, waiting.

I suppose everything has its season, and maybe the season for this blog has past.  I don’t know.  I think I’ll keep it around for days like this, when inspiration hits, and I have something worth sharing.

This recipe for Momofuku Milk Bar’s Crack Pie(r) has been floating around the interwebz for a few years now.  I have to say I didn’t really pay it any mind until Bon Appetit featured it a couple of months ago. And then, a few days ago, they went and ran a piece on Desperation Pies making a comeback.

And so, that’s where the idea for this crazy marriage between buttermilk chess pie and crack pie was born.  It’s a little bit salty, a little bit tangy, and a lot sweet – just the way I like it.  The only thing I can find wrong with this recipe is the fact that you have to wait overnight to dig into the finished product (I, of course, couldn’t wait and tried cutting it while it was still warm.  It was a delicious ugly mess).

It was so good, it brought me back to this space so that I could share it with you.



Servings: 10 to 12

Oat Cookie Crust

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 4tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Begin by making the oat cookie crust.  Preheat oven to 350F and line a 13x9x2 inch metal pan with parchment paper sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Place 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons white sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Cream on high for 2 minutes.  Add egg and beat until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Add oats, flour, powder, soda and salt and mix to combine.  Pat dough into prepared pan, spreading evenly, and back at 350F for 17-18 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

crumbsCrumble cookie as finely as you can, and work the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter into the crumbs so that when you squeeze them together they form a ball.  Press cookie crust into a deep-dish pie pan. Prepare filling.


For the filling, combine sugars, buttermilk powder and salt.  In another bowl, combine the sour cream, milk, melted  butter, egg yolks and vanilla.  Pour over sugar mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.  Pour filling into prepared pie shell and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, then reduce oven to 325F and bake for 20 minutes more (or until filling is mostly set).  If the edges start to get too brown, shield with foil.


Remove pie from oven – the center may be a little loose still (it will continue to set up).  Allow to cool to room temperature.

crackpiesugarDust with powdered sugar.  Place, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 24 hours to rest. crackpieeatEnjoy!

St. Patricks Day – Corned Beef

This post was one I originally did for Foodwhirl back in 2010, but it’s still a yearly tradition for us, so I thought I’d share it here.


Corned Beef and Cabbage (or how I got lucky)

Get your minds out of the gutter.

The very first meal I ever cooked for my husband when we first started dating was corned beef and cabbage. I figure it must have been lucky, because he eventually married me – right?

I wanted to impress him, so I didn’t just go out and buy one of those pink, sodium and nitrate/nitrite infused bits of brisket with the seasoning packet inside (although I have been known to use this method on occasion). No, I actually corned the sucker myself, over a period of about a week.

Now it’s become a bit of a tradition for us – every year I cook corned beef and cabbage with potatoes for St. Patty’s day. This year, I’m sharing that tradition with all of you. This is quite a process, so bear with me. I promise the end result is totally worth it.

Oh!  And be sure to stay tuned for Part 2 – wherein I drain the brine from the meat and add the cabbage!  It’s exciting stuff, and you won’t want to miss it.  I might even cook some potatoes…. And you certainly won’t want to miss Part 3 – corned beef hash.  This is the meal that just keeps on giving!

First, for the beef – it is admittedly difficult this time of year to find a brisket that is not already trimmed, brined and packaged. With a little effort, though, you can do it. You need about 3-4 pounds of meat for this recipe. I was able to find an 8-lb brisket for about $2/lb, so I bought the whole thing. I cut it in half and froze the second portion to be used at a later date for barbecue or something (there’s really no such thing as too much meat in my house).

About a week out, prepare the brine. This version was derived from a Sara Moulton recipe, back in her Cooking Live days.


* 4 quarts water
* 1 1/2 pounds kosher salt
* 1 pound dark brown sugar
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 10 juniper berries
* 10 crushed peppercorns
* 1 tablespoon baking soda
* 4 gallons boiling water
* 1 egg, in shell
* Salt, if needed
* Cold water to cover meat
* 1 (5 pound) beef brisket
* 5 cloves garlic

Bring first 8 ingredients to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Leave the brine to cool. Clean a plastic bucket and its lid with a solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 gallon boiling water. Rinse well and leave to drain dry.

To test the saltiness of the brine put egg, in shell in the cooled brine. If it doesn’t float, add enough salt until it does.

To draw off any excess blood and to help the brine penetrate, pierce the beef all over with a skewer and place meat in cold water for about 45 minutes. Remove the meat from water and place in crock or bucket. Pour the cooled brine over the brisket. Add garlic to the brine. Place a plate on top of the brisket to submerge. Place a lid or plastic wrap over container. Store in a refrigerator or dry place, at a temperature below 60 degrees. Salting time depends on the thickness of the meat. Allow 3 to 10 days for salting time for brisket.

This will sit in my fridge all week.  I’ll check it periodically, turning the meat to make sure that all sides get equal time in the brine.

Waiter, There is Too Much Pepper on My Paprikash {Chicken Paprikash}

This scene from When Harry Met Sally always makes me smile. It also gets stuck in my head at the weirdest moments, and the word paprikash goes round and round in my brain until something else equally as annoying gets lodged in there.

The thing about that movie that strikes me today, in particular, is Sally’s need for control in her life.  She likes everything to be “just so.”  It’s what makes scenes like the one above (and the infamous diner scene) so noteworthy.  Sally steps out of her buttoned-up facade for a moment and does something so unexpected, so out of character, that we’re pleasantly surprised.

Life is like that – we go along blissfully thinking we are in control of our day (or our destiny). Then, something comes along to remind us that really, no, we are, indeed, not in control.  As much as we plan, schedule and organize, inevitably we discover that we don’t live in a vacuum or a bubble and forces beyond our control can throw our carefully laid plans into chaos.

I’m learning to roll with it.  Like Sally Albright, I often find myself outside my neatly planned comfort zone.  Sometimes it’s because I push myself, but most of the time it’s because someone else has pushed me there (either deliberately, or by accident).  It’s nerve-wracking.  But, it can also be a catalyst for growth.

The fact that I haven’t posted a recipe here since February is testament to my inability to control everything.  Happily, this recipe for Chicken Paprikash lends itself to a chaotic lifestyle.  It uses ingredients you probably have in your kitchen and pantry, and it can either be done on the stovetop and in the oven on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or in the crockpot on a busy weekday.  And the result is something deeply satisfying.  And not too peppery.  Because no-one wants too much pepper on their paprikash.

chicken paprikash

Chicken Paprikash | prep time: 3 minutes | cook time: 2 hours (for stovetop/oven version; 4-6 hours if cooking in crockpot on low). | yields: 6 servings


  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, seasoned with salt and black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 lb. egg noodles, prepared according to package instructions

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F
  2. Heat olive oil in an oven-safe saute pan on the stove top
  3. Place seasoned chicken thighs in a single layer in the saute pan, browning on both sides.  You may have to work in batches in order to avoid over-crowding the pan.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Place sliced onions in the saute pan and reduce heat slightly.  Cook onions until softened and translucent in color, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add garlic and paprika and stir through.
  6. Add chicken broth and whisk to pick up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add chicken back to the pan along with the bay leaf
  8. Cover pan and place in preheated oven.  Allow to braise for one and half hours.
  9. Prepare egg noodles according to package directions
  10. Remove the saute pan from the oven and place back on the stove top
  11. Remove chicken from pan and set aside
  12. Turn on burner under saute pan and allow to come to a boil.  Boil until sauce thickens and reduces by half.
  13. Remove sauce from heat and add 1 cup sour cream, whisking to combine.
  14. Add chicken back to pan.
  15. Serve chicken with sauce over prepared egg noodles.
  16. Enjoy!

To prepare in crock pot – follow cooking instructions up to step 6, then put all ingredients, including chicken and bay leaf, into crock pot and set for 4-6 hours.  Then pick back up with steps 11-16.

A New Day

image (14)


This space must feel awfully lonely and neglected.  It’s been nine months since I was last here.  Nine very busy months.  And no – not because I was gestating life, although it does bear some resemblance to such a life-altering time span when you think about it.

No.  For the last year (or more) I’ve been falling and stumbling and careening into what I can now say is the thing I’ve been meant to do my whole life.  And it’s only taken me 40 years to figure it out.

A few years ago (almost three, now, actually) I took a part-time job with a local charter school.  20 hours a week as an administrative assistant – making copies, answering phones, running errands, backing up the receptionist, et cetera.  I was somewhat over-qualified for the job, but that was okay because I didn’t really want anything too challenging.  I needed something to do a few hours a week, and this happened to be three miles from my house, so it seemed like a perfect fit.

At the time I didn’t realize how life-changing that little part-time job would be.

If you’re at all familiar with the charter school movement, then you probably know that making them successful and sustainable can be a daunting task.  When I started, this little school had 400 students (and was in its 7th year of operation). By my second year, and the school’s 8th, we had 700 students.  To almost double in size in one year is challenging.  It was clear that my part-time position was no longer going to suffice, so I went full-time last year.

At the same time, my husband and I decided that we would enroll our oldest in the school.  Its unique blend of academic instruction and character education appealed to us, and the convenience of having the kids where I worked was equally appealing.

I didn’t really understand it at the time, but something changes when your kid’s education is on the line.  You go from being merely an employee of an institution to being fully invested in its success.  It’s scary.  And exciting.  And exhausting.

What’s crazy is I always knew I wanted to work in education, but I also knew that I didn’t have what it took to be a classroom teacher.  It takes a special breed to work directly with kids all day every day, and I’m just not cut out for it.  More power to those that do – I’m grateful for them every day.

No, my calling is much more behind the scenes – building support for the school in the community.  Charter schools are a controversial, hot button topic, and there are people out there that wish they would just go away.  And I’m sure there are some that should, whether because those schools are financially unsound, poorly governed, or poorly conceived.  This school, though, is none of those things.  And I’m proud to be a part of it.

In fact, I’ve never felt so called to something in my life – outside of motherhood.  There are paths we take in life that, at the time, seem completely random, but for some reason we’re compelled to take them anyway.  I never thought, when I responded to a Craigslist ad for a part-time admin assistant (yes, I actually responded to a job posting on Craigslist), that I would be starting down a life altering, career changing rabbit hole.

This  new school year has been exhausting.  I’m managing people for the first time in five years, which comes with its own set of challenges (especially when you’re an introvert and just the thought of human interaction sometimes is more than you can handle).  The good news is, they’re all good at what they do, and I respect each one of them for the strengths they bring to their roles.  I’m also becoming much more involved on the institutional advancement side of things – fundraising, capacity building, community engagement, etc. Each day brings with it new learning opportunities, new successes (and sometimes new failures).

There are days when I’m just not sure that I can keep going – like there’s just too much to do and I don’t know where to begin.

In my old life I might have quietly turned away and moved on.

But the promise of what this school can be, what it can do for my own children as well as the hundreds of others that come through the doors every day, keeps me coming back.  And that makes it all worthwhile.

Each new day is a promise of something great.  I’m just where I need to be.  Life is good.  

I Like Big Buns and I Can Not Lie {Whole Wheat Flax Sandwich Buns}

hamburger fries
Oh, my god, Becky. Look at that bun. It is so big!

For some reason, the title of this post has been stuck in my head for far too long.  In fact, I think I said it to a friend a month or so ago (you know, in my best Sir Mix-A-Lot impression) and she looked at me pityingly and said “you know it’s actually ‘I like big butts‘, right?”  And, yes, I do know that.  But for some reason every time I think of hamburger buns (my anaconda don’t want none), this song goes running through my head. 

I’m weird.

But, I’m also persistent, and that’s why I’m bringing these big buns to you today.  Because I’ve been working on them on and off for more than 2 years, and I think I’ve finally gotten them right.

inside bun

I’ve been trying for a soft, tender whole-wheat hamburger bun since I started grinding wheat and baking bread.  It’s been a challenge – they’re either too dry, too tough, too dense, too something.  These, though, are nice and light, with enough structure to stand up to a nice “thick and juicy” burger or a sloppy barbecue sandwich.

This recipe starts in the bread machine, and finishes on a baking sheet in the oven.

pile o' buns

Whole Wheat Flax Sandwich Buns

yields: 12 3.25 oz. buns


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 1/2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 3/4 Tablespoons Sucanat (or sugar)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/3 cups freshly ground hard white wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup ground golden flax seed meal
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast


  1. Place ingredients in the pan of your bread machine in the order listed.
  2. Turn on the dough cycle
  3. Once the dough has been mixed, kneaded and been through two rises, remove the pan from the bread machine and divide the dough into 12 equal portions.  It might be a little sticky – that’s okay.  Simply coat your hands with a little olive oil to make handling easier.
  4. Roll each portion into a ball and place on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or sprayed with cooking spray.  Flatten them slightly when you place them on the sheet.
  5. Spray the tops with cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap
  6. Place in a warm area to rise for another hour
  7. Once they’ve risen, preheat your oven to 375F
  8. Brush tops of buns with an egg wash (one whole egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water) and sprinkle with sesame seeds, rolled oats, poppy seeds or the topping of your choice (optional).
  9. Bake at 375F for 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool before slicing.
  11. Enjoy!

Baby got back.

Wherein I am Not Mary Poppins. Or Martha Stewart. {Fish Chowder}

On any given day in our house you’re likely to find piles of laundry, kitchen counters with food dried on them, cat and dog hair gathered in the corners of the common rooms and dirty dishes piled in the sink.  It’s not pretty, but it’s our life.  Two growing boys, two working parents, and a multitude of furry pets does not always an idyllic household make. I’d like to tell you that I have a cleaning scheduled that I adhere to, and that my children are conscientious about picking up after themselves and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper regularly (rather than tossing their dirty socks haphazardly in the air, allowing them to land wherever they may).  I’d like to appear to have it all together, but that would be a lie.

The truth is, sometimes I’m a mess.  I stress out when I know people are coming over, worried that they’re going to judge me and my disorganized house.  I long to be Mary Poppins – to just snap my fingers and have everything go back to its rightful place.  My mother used to joke that, as her only child, I was “practically perfect in every way.”  Sadly, that description does not come with a magic carpet bag full of delightful tricks and the ability to sing your cares (and your cluttered play-rooms) away.  fish chowder1

I’ve come to realize, in my almost 40 years, that we all have our strengths.  While some of us are excellent housekeepers; others of us are decidedly not. I, clearly, fall into the latter category. However, I am not completely devoid of domestic talents.  I may not have the ability to decorate impeccably or organize seamlessly; but, by God, I can cook.  fish chowder4

This fish chowder has found its way into regular rotation at our dinner table.  It’s super simple to put together, and the flavor is incredible.  It’s adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe.  I may not have all of Martha’s talents (or, rather, those of her staff), but I can certainly recognize a good recipe when I see one.

fish chowder2

Fish Chowder

Prep time: 10 Minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Yields: 6 servings


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups stock (chicken, vegetable or fish)
  • 1 1/2 pounds of russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 wild-caught flounder fillets (or other flaky white fish)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk (you can also omit the cream and use 1 cup of milk instead)
  • salt and pepper to taste

fish chowder3

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan
  2. Add celery, onion and garlic.  Saute until softened
  3. Add the flour and stir to coat with the butter.  Cook until it starts to smell nutty (do not let it get too brown)
  4. Add the stock and stir to combine.  Allow to come to a boil.
  5. Add the bay leaf and the potatoes and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
  6. Add the fish and simmer until it’s cooked through and begins to flake apart when stirred
  7. Add the cream/milk and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Enjoy!

Almost a Year Later….{Pretzel Bread Bowls}

I had no idea last February that I would be taking nearly a year off from this place.  It wasn’t planned, it just sort of happened.  Life got busy, and at the same time I lost the compulsion to document every meal I cooked or ate.  Every so often I’d come over here with the intention to write something, but I didn’t really have the focus or the drive to actually do it.

Meanwhile, I started working full time at a job that I have grown to truly enjoy.  I do a lot of writing there, and am allowed to be creative and somewhat autonomous, and I think that has filled the space that used to be filled by my efforts here.  Maybe.

I want to keep coming here, though, and sharing with those of you who still check in from time to time.  It may not always be recipes or food, but I’ll do my best to make it meaningful.  I’ve got lots of fun projects on the horizon in my life: I’m leading the team that’s planning a learning garden at the school I work for, I got a Vitamix for Christmas that I’m having a blast learning to use, I’m heading to Ireland with the family in April, and I’m still trying new things in the kitchen from time to time in an effort to expand and enrich my children’s food vocabulary.  So thanks for sticking around and for being patient as I try to figure out how to balance everything that’s going on.

vitamix1So, the Vitamix.  I’d been wanting one for a while, and finally bit the bullet and bought a Certified Reconditioned model.  I’ve only had it for a couple of days, but so far I LOVE IT.  Tonight I made the Harvest Cheddar Soup from the Vitamix website.  It’s crazy – the blender actually cooks the soup.  I didn’t really believe it myself until I tried it.  It’s like magic – ingredients go in cold or room temperature and come out steaming hot.  Right now I’m just trying recipes that are from the cookbook that came with it, or that are on their website.  Knowing me, though, I’m sure I’ll be making stuff up in no time.  No worries – I’ll do my best to share that stuff here.

breadbowlreadyIn the meantime, here’s something fun that I made to go along with that Harvest Cheddar soup – Whole Grain Pretzel Bread Bowls.  I used the Beer Pizza Dough recipe from my breadmaker’s cookbook as a jumping off point.

Whole Grain Pretzel Bread Bowls

yield: 6 bowls

  • 12 oz. beer
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • Egg white (for glazing)
  • Course salt

This recipe starts in the bread machine, but is baked in the oven.  If you don’t have a bread machine, you can use an electric mixer or knead by hand.


  1. Place beer, butter, sugar and  salt in the bottom of the bread machine’s loaf pan
  2. Add the flour on top.
  3. Create a small well in the center of the flour.  Add the yeast to the well
  4. Set the machine to the “dough” setting and let it do its thing (mine takes about 2 hours for kneading and two rises)
  5. When it’s done with the second rise, turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
  6. Divide the dough into six equal portions and roll them into balls
  7. Place them on a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner or greased foil
  8. Allow them to rise while you preheat the oven to 375F
  9. Brush the tops of the rolls with egg white and sprinkle them with course salt
  10. Just before baking, slash the tops of the rolls in a cross pattern using a sharp knife
  11. Bake at 375F for 25 minutes, or until tops are very brown and they sound hollow when you tap them.

breadbowlcutOnce they’ve cooled most of the way, cut the tops off using a serrated knife.  Set the top aside (it’s good for dipping in soup later).

breadbowlspoonScoop the insides out with a spoon.  I put all the bread that scraped out into a zip-top bag and put it in the freezer to use later for bread crumbs.

breadbowlreadyEt, voila! 6 individual bread bowls just waiting to be filled with Harvest Cheddar-y goodness.

breadbowlwithsoupThese would also be good as little bowls for dips, filled with chilli, cheese fondue, or just about anything else that you might like to dip bread in.  They were a big hit with my family, and are a fun way to make soup a little more interesting (you get to eat the bowl at the end!).


Ode to the Humble Sprout {Brussels Sprout Pizza}

If you had asked me two years ago how I felt about Brussels Sprouts, I probably would have made some horrid face and said something along the lines of: “they’re too bitter,” or “ugh – gross, tiny cabbages are funny looking and should be outlawed” or maybe even “DIS-gusting. Blech.”  Which is mature.


Had you told me two years ago that Brussels Sprouts would be my favorite dish at an upscale Steak House, or that I’d be preparing them weekly for my family, I most likely would have laughed at you.  Maniacally.

But, ‘lo and behold, you would have been right.  Have I mentioned that I hate it when you’re right?  Except in this case, where I’m delighted, because now I have a whole new vegetable added to my repertoire.  And what a versatile vegetable it is.


You can roast it at high heat, drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. I could eat these little babies like candy.  Sometimes I’m not sure if they’ll even make it to the dinner table, since I just stand over the skillet and eat them one by one by one.  So good.


If they survive that, then I sometime serve them over pasta carbonara (in place of the kale).  They’re also good as a base in this garlic ginger chicken recipe.


Or maybe raw, in a shave salad with pomegranate arils and  pecorino romano cheese.  I made this at Thanksgiving, and it was a big hit.  It was a variation on this recipe from Food 52.

sprout pizza

Last night, though, I decided to try them on pizza, and I may have just died and gone to heaven.  Seriously, y’all – THIS is my new favorite way to consume Brussels sprouts.  And I do realized that I’m sometimes prone to hyperbole – but not in this case.  This right here is good stuff.

The sprouts get good and caramelized, which gives them a sweet, nutty flavor.  They sit on a base of heavy cream and mozzarella cheese, and are complimented by salty bacon and mild red onion.  The whole thing is topped off by sharp, tangy Pecorino Romano cheese, which just rounds out the whole experience.  I ate three pieces, and could have probably finished off the entire pizza, but I guess that might have been excessive (plus, my husband probably wouldn’t have appreciated it very much).

sprout pizza2

Pizza with Brussesl Sprouts, Bacon and Pecorino Romano

prep time: 10 minutes

bake time: 15 minutes

yields: 8 slices


  • Pizza dough for one pizza (use your favorite homemade or store-bought fresh dough)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/3 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 ounce pecorino romano cheese, finely shredded
  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 425F
  2. Roll out your pizza dough to a 12-inch diameter circle.  I’ve recently purchased a Zojirushi breadmaker, and have been using their pizza dough recipe (subbing freshly ground wheat flour for the bread flour the owner’s manual calls for). I can’t say enough good things about this machine, but will save the details for a dedicated post.
  3. Drizzle the raw dough with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and par-bake on a baking sheet in your preheated oven for about 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place on a pizza peel.
  4. Sprinkle the hot par-baked crust with the mozzarella cheese and evenly drizzle with the heavy cream
  5. Spread the sliced Brussels sprouts, bacon and onion evenly over the crust
  6. Sprinkle the romano cheese over the top of the pizza
  7. Using the pizza peel, transfer the pizza back to the preheated oven, placing it directly on the oven rack
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the sprouts have begun to caramelize (they will get brown and crispy on the eges).
  9. Enjoy!


After All This Time, All I Have To Offer Is Casserole

It was never my intention to take a leave of absence from this space, but it seems that it happened anyway.  Oops.

If I’m being perfectly honest, it was kind of nice.  Not being tied to a camera or a computer for a little while.  I might try it more often.

Not that I don’t enjoy coming here and sharing with you – certainly I do.  I just might be doing it a little more sporadically right now (not that I was all that regular about it before).  When I make something that I think you’ll particularly appreciate, then I’ll share it with you.  That’s what this space is really for, after all.

It’s still January for a few more days.  I didn’t really make any earth-shattering resolutions at the start of this New Year.  I’ve found that I’m not very good at keeping them.  What I did decide with some certainty is that I really need to simplify.  Complicated is just…well…too complicated.  So, simple it shall be.

I’ve kind of gotten into a routine with my cooking.  Another reason posting hasn’t happened much lately – not much new to share.   Once a week or so, I make this chicken (or some variation thereon), and we eat about half of it for dinner that same day.  Then I cut the rest of the meat off the carcass and tuck it away for use another day and make this lovely dark chicken stock out of the bones.casserole2

Then, a day or so later, I make chicken and rice casserole with that leftover meat.  I know what you’re thinking – casserole is so passé (does anyone even say passé anymore, or is that passé)?  Just hear me out, though.

casserole4 (2)

See – I have a very picky toddler in my house.  He’s three, and he’s demanding.  And also sometimes unpleasant.  And unlike his older, more amenable brother, he doesn’t care much about pleasing anyone but himself.  So if he doesn’t like something?  He makes life pretty miserable for the rest of us.  Thus, rather than making two different dinners every night, I’m trying to come up with things that we can all enjoy (and that don’t involve opening a box of noodles that may also contain a packet of orange cheese-flavored powder – not that I haven’t done that a time or two in desperation).  This seems like a good enough compromise.casserole1

It’s loosely based on this casserole from the archives of Paula Deen.  I say loosely because hers involves opening a bunch of cans (canned chicken, canned soup, canned beans, canned water chestnuts, parboiled rice, etc).  My version takes sauteed onions and celery and homemade chicken stock and just the tiniest hint of heavy cream and mixes it all together with hearty brown rice and skillet roasted chicken (and maybe a smidge of extra-sharp cheddar) for a flavorful, tummy pleasing meal.  Paired with a salad for the grown-ups and some unsweetened applesauce for the kids, it’s an easy weeknight fix (and disagreeable-toddler-approved).


Chicken and Rice Casserole

prep time: 10 minutes

cook time: 45 minutes

serves: 6-8


  • 2 Tablespoons oil (I used coconut, but you could use olive oil or butter – whatever you have)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cubed (optional – this was decidedly not a toddler-approved addition, but I enjoyed it)
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 6-8 oz. of cooked chicken, diced (I used one breast and one thigh off a pre-roasted chicken)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (this was about 2 1/4 oz. by weight)
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked according to package directions (yields approximately 6 cups cooked)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. In a large oven-proof enameled cast iron pan over medium-high heat, saute your onions and celery in oil until they begin to become translucent (if you don’t have a pan like this, you can do everything in a regular skillet and then transfer it to a casserole dish to bake in the oven).
  3. Add the mushrooms and let them get good and brown.  Taste for seasoning – add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and stir it around.  Let it cook for a few minutes so that it loses the raw flour taste.  You’re making a roux.
  5. Pour the chicken stock in the pan and stir to combine, making sure you dissolve any lumps of flour that might be remaining.  Let it come to a boil – it should thicken.
  6. Add the heavy cream and stir to combine.  Turn off the burner.
  7. Add the chicken and the rice.  Carefully stir to combine.
  8. Add the cheese and stir through.
  9. Cover and bake in a 350F oven for 45 minutes.  Remove the lid during the last 15 minutes to let the top get good and brown.
  10. Enjoy!



Can You Hear Me Now? {Garlic Ginger Chicken with Brussels Sprouts}

Remember the Telephone Game from when we were kids?  The one where a bunch of people sit in a circle, and one person starts by whispering a message into the ear of their neighbor, and that person turns and whispers (what is supposed to be) the same message into their neighbor’s ear, and so on and so forth until the message comes back around to the first person?  And, inevitably, the message has become something completely different from what it started out as?chicken1

Well, this is that game, only in food blog form.  Like a bunch of us are standing in a globe-spanning circle connected by the interwebs, and we’re passing a roast chicken recipe from blog to blog, waiting to see how it changes and evolves as each person puts their own spin on it.

Which is, if you really think about it, what makes food writing/blogging so interesting and, dare I say it, controversial.  There are countless arguments back and forth over what constitutes an “original” recipe, what constitutes plagiarism in recipes, and what can and cannot be copyrighted when it comes to recipes.

Diane Jacob, in a March 17, 2010 post on her Will Write for Food blog, writes that “it’s not … legal to copy a recipe verbatim and give credit, unless you have permission from the publisher, let alone change a few things but not enough and not give credit.”  And yet, time and again, you see people copying recipes out of cookbooks and publishing them on their blogs (with or without credit), blind to the fact that they are breaking any rules, let alone being deviant enough to actually break a law.  Intellectual property is a complicated and mysterious thing.  I’ve even done it myself, before I knew what the rules actually were.chicken3

Even more complicated is what constitutes “adapting” a recipe.  The generally accepted standard is that if you change three things in a recipe, then you can call it yours.  This has proven to be a gray area for some folks, though.  I think it’s always a good idea to credit the original source, just to be on the safe side.  David Lebovitz gives some great tips on recipe attribution in a 2009 post on the Food Blog Alliance site.

All of that being said, it’s rare that I follow a recipe word for word.  One of my favorite things about cooking is that I can be creative – not constrained by exact measurements and specific ingredients.  I see recipes more as guidelines than as hard and fast rules.  We all know that rules are made to be broken anyway, right?chicken2

The originator of this roast chicken telephone message was Sheri Castle, a potential food blogger who received a recipe to adapt from Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart (with their permission, I’m assuming).  Sheri created a blog just for this recipe, admitting that she’s “not a blogger,”  just “blog-curious.”  Her plan was to attend the 3rd Annual FoodBlogSouth conference in Birmingham in January to learn more about the craft.  She, like myself and at least 13 other participants, signed up for this recipe telephone game, the results of which will be used in a session at the conference conducted by Cynthia Graubart.  Sheri’s interpretation of the original recipe  can be found here.  I guess in this instance, the goal of the game is to change the message as much as possible, rather than the other way around.  Below is my version of Sheri’s version – 2 degrees of Roast Chicken, so to speak.  chicken5

Roasted Garlic Ginger Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

Oven-roasted chicken is the perfect canvas for being creative in the kitchen.  There are so many roasting techniques, flavor combinations and accompanying vegetables, the possibilities are nearly endless.  For many years I feared the roast chicken, having never found a technique that suited my last-minute lifestyle.  In my effort to get dinner on the table for my family on a busy weeknight, I would sometimes end up with underdone birds.  More often than not, though, I’d pull them from the oven dry and flavorless.

Recently I discovered the cast-iron cooking method, and my life has never been the same.  There’s just something about preheating that cast-iron skillet – getting it good and smoking hot – that really enhances the flavor of the bird and speeds the cooking process along.

This time around, I decided to add some Asian flavors to the mix.  Garlic and ginger combine with scallions, oranges and soy sauce to create a sweet-salty flavor combination.  The marinated chicken nests atop a bed of Brussels sprouts, infusing the tiny cabbages with it’s savory juices.  The chicken comes out with golden crispy skin, and the sprouts are tender and caramelized, bursting with deep umami flavor.

Prep time: 1-24 hours

Cook time: 45 minutes – 1 hour

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 3-4 lb. roasting chicken
  • 1/4 cup neutral cooking oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • zest from 2 oranges
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 5 scallions, green parts only, chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 Tablespoon neutral cooking oil (again, I used grapeseed)chicken6

Begin by patting the chicken dry with paper towels and removing any extra parts (like the neck, heart and gizzards) that might be in the cavity.  Place the chicken in a zip-top bag.  Combine the 1/4 cup oil, soy sauce, orange juice, zest, ginger, garlic, scallions and black pepper and pour into the bag, evenly coating the chicken.  Zip the bag closed, squeezing out as much air as possible as you go.  Massage the chicken a bit, making an effort to get the marinade all over the bird.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, but up to 24 hours (the longer the better, really).

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook the chicken, place a large iron skillet on the lowest rack in your oven and preheat the oven to 425F.  Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator.  Toss the halved Brussels sprouts with 1 Tablespoon of oil.  Once the oven has preheated, and the skillet is hot, remove the skillet from the oven and place it on a heat-proof surface.  Pour the Brussels sprouts into the hot pan and spread them evenly across the bottom.  Remove the chicken from the bag, scraping the excess marinade off as you do.  Place the chicken, breast side up, atop the sprouts and return the pan to the oven.  Roast for 45 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165F.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.  Serve with accompanying Brussels sprouts on a bed of steamed rice.  Drizzle with any excess pan juices.  Enjoy!