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This is my friend, Annie.

I’m the one holding the wine glass, of course.

Now, Annie is about as dear a friend as a friend can be.

But truth be told, she has one MAJOR character flaw.

It is almost enough to keep me from being friends with her. Luckily, I am full of grace.

So, I can overlook this serious issue.

I decided today was the day to confront Annie with this issue.

And what better place than to out her than here on my public blog.

You see, Annie doesn’t like Ina Garten.

I know.

I know.

I heard your gasps from where I’m sitting.

It seems impossible, but somehow it is true.

One of my goals in life is to change her mind.

I hope to be a successful missionary for Ina.

To win over Annie and the rest of the world to the light.

Today, I attempt to do just that by sharing the best chicken dish ever.

I’m not kidding when I tell you that I could eat this just about every day, and I don’t think I would tire of it.

It is SO. GOOD.

Surprisingly, I was introduced to Ina more than a decade ago by this guy:

That is my husband.

He is pretty cute, huh?

Hands off.

He’s taken.

Well, he bought me my first Ina cookbook for Christmas one year. And my life was forever changed.

And clearly, I liked it.

I recently treated myself to her newest publication:

And in that book, you’ll find this recipe for Chicken with Shallots:

And then you will make it.

And you’ll never look at boring old chicken the same ever again.

I swear.

Do yourself a favor and click on that link above.

I made this recipe for two people. Ina suggests chicken breasts with the skin still on. I didn’t have that in my fridge so I used boneless skinless breasts. You can use what ya got.

Start by preheating your oven to 425.

I don’t like a super thick chicken breast.

Call me crazy, but it tastes a little too chicken-y.

Yes, I’m aware how insane that sounds.

So, I use a meat tenderizer to flatten out my chicken. If you don’t have a meat tenderizer, you can use a heavy pan to smash your chicken down a bit.

Remember to coat your chicken in a little flour before pounding the dickens out of it- that way the chicken doesn’t get completely torn up.

Give the chicken a little sprinkle of salt and pepper.

And put some oil in an OVEN SAFE pan, and heat the pan over medium-high heat.

Once the pan and the oil are heated up a bit, place your chicken boobies (haha, see what I did there?) into the pan.

After about 3 minutes, give the breasts a flip.

And pop the whole pan into your preheated oven.

Please note that the pan is pretty screaming hot. You can see some of the oil spitting about above the pan.

Now it is time for the most amazing sauce ever.

I have adapted the recipe a bit for two peeps.

Get a sauce pan out and stick it over a burner on medium heat.

Add in 1/2 cup of dry white wine. I used a Sauvignon Blanc (that we then drank alongside this chicken).

Chop up a large shallot and drop that into your wine.

You want about 1/4 cup of the chopped shallot.

Then squeeze in the juice of one lemon.

Then, spend the next 5 minutes pulling the seeds out of your sauce.

Dang, that was a seedy lemon.

Let that mixture gently boil until it is reduced by about half.

Wine, lemon and onion smell absolutely divine cooking together. Seriously, drool inducing.

If you get sidetracked and your sauce reduces too much, simply add in a bit more wine or some water. Easy peasy.

Now for the healthy portion of this recipe.

Get out your heavy cream.

And stir in about 2 Tablespoons.

Then, make this dish even more healthy by plopping in 2 Tablespoons of butter.

Stir it up, and then turn down the heat under the sauce to low.

That chicken ought to be done about now. It should be in the oven for 12-15 minutes.

If you pounded your chicken, it will be closer to a 12 minute cook time.

If you have a big old fat breast, it will be closer to a 15 minute cook time.

Pop that chicken on your plate, and drizzle your shallot/wine/lemon sauce over the top.

Serve it up alongside some cous cous and sauteed greens.

DIVINE.

And if that doesn’t convince you Annie.

Then, you are a clown.

Have a great weekend friends!

XO,
Leah

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OK, peeps.

Hang with me here.

I’m about to blow your mind with this pizza.

Even if you are a non-adventurous meat-eatin’ man (I’m talkin’ to you Uncle Doug), I  guarantee you will like this pizza.

And if you don’t, then I’ll tell you that you’re crazy.

I drool over the gorgeous food pictures on FoodGawker nearly every day.

You’ll never see my food on there because I have no clue what I’m doing with a camera. Food and flavor are my focus. Not so much the pics.

But the FoodGawker food is absolutely irresistible, and I seriously want to try a handful of recipes every dang day.

So yesterday, I saw a picture of this pizza and I knew I had to try it.

It was fate because I had all of the ingredients on hand.

This recipe is courtesy of Chris over at The Café Sucré Farine.

It made my eyes pop wide open when I took the first bite.

Drool worthy.

So, this is a pizza that is topped with bacon, chicken, cheese, a balsamic/strawberry glaze, fresh strawberries and cilantro.

Sounds crazy, I know.

But. You. Will. Not. Regret. Making. This.

It has been a while since we have talked about my love affair with bacon. Do not fear.

My love has not waned.

I still love it more than ever.

However, I did try a new brand of Applewood Smoked Bacon from Whole Foods. This bacon is made from non-industrial farmed pigs. So, before these pigs gave their life for us (I know it’s morbid, but c’mon- it’s meat) they lived a happy life on a farm with room to roam. Then, they were killed humanely.

Again, I know that not everyone cares about the things I care about. And that is fine by me.

I’m just sharing my choices and experience.

So, don’t get all high on the hog (ha- get it? hog? bacon? har!) and whateverish with me.

Back to cooking.

Fry your bacon.

Then, drain off some of that fat on paper towels.

Then, eat approximately 4 pieces to make sure the flavor it acceptable.

Yes, it takes at least 4 slices before you can know for sure.

Now, lets make our glaze.

Get out some balsamic vinegar.

And add a quarter cup to a small sauce pan.

Boil that vinegar, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vinegar has reduced by half.

Reducing the vinegar causes some of the liquid to evaporate, and the liquid left in the pan gets a little thicker and syrupy. Yum.

Bust out some strawberry jam or preserves.

Or jelly.

I’m sure jelly would work fine.

Plop a 1/2 c. of the strawberry goodness into your balsamic reduction.

And now, a surprise ingredient.

Some Sriracha!

A little spicy spiciness.

If you don’t have Sriracha, I’m sure any hot sauce would suffice.

Add 1 teaspoon of the hotness to your sauce.

Stir it up until it is all combined.

Set that sauce aside until you need it again.

Now, lets cook some chicken.

If you are a good multi-tasker in the kitchen, you can cook the above sauce and your chicken at the same time.

To cook normal sized chicken breasts, place your pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the breasts fairly generously with salt and pepper.

Cook on each side for approximately 4 minutes.

So, back to my new commitment to responsible eating. If you have a Whole Foods near you, they have a mega pack of chicken breasts that are organic/free range/cold washed. If you buy the bulk package, the price is not that much more than the conventional chicken at other grocery stores.

Ok, lets get our pizza dough ready.

Preheat your oven to 450.

I made my own dough from the recipe on the back of the new Fleischmann’s Pizza Dough yeast packet.

Kroger used to carry these super thin pizza crusts, but they didn’t have them. Boo Kroger!

Trader Joes also carries an uncooked pizza dough for $1.29 that I really like. However, I wasn’t going to run out for one measly pizza dough.

So, I love this next idea. Again, I’m totally stealing this from Chris’s recipe.

She recommends using parchment paper to roll out your pizza dough.

Put down a little cornmeal.

And roll out your pizza dough.

The parchment makes the transfer to the pizza stone so dang easy. I can’t believe I have never done this before.

It made the whole process easier and cleaner.

Yay for parchment paper!

I like to season the dough a bit and cook it a bit before piling on the toppings.

I spread a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Place it on your pizza pan or stone and cook the crust for 4-5 minutes.

While that dough is par-cooking, chop either one large or 2 small chicken breasts.

Chop up 6 slices of bacon.

Chop up 1/4 of a large yellow onion.

Top your chicken with a tablespoon or 2 of the balsamic strawberry glaze.

And use your hands to mix the sauce into the chicken.

Pop a piece into your mouth.

Savor the goodness.

Practice restraint by not downing the chicken before it ever makes it onto the pizza.

Pull your dough out of the oven.

Spread the remaining glaze around the crust.

Spread a cup of shredded Italian cheese across the pizza.

I normally don’t like or use the pre-shredded stuff but I was aiming for ease!

Pile on your chicken, bacon, and onions.

Finish it off with another cup of the shredded cheese. Throw that bad boy into the oven until the cheese is all ooey-gooey-melty.

About 7-8 minutes.

It comes out looking like this.

I could have eaten it just like this.

It smelled so heavenly.

But I wanted the full delightful experience.

So, I sliced up some strawberries and threw them on top. DO NOT skip this step. I promise. It is so so freaking good.

Then, I chopped some green onion and tossed that on top.

The actual recipe calls for cilantro (not green onion), and I was quite sad to discover that I had no cilantro. It would have been perfection.

But the green onion was a perfectly delicious substitute.

I served the pizza with Ina Garten’s Lemon Fusilli with Arugula. So good!

For Ina’s recipe, I used half of the amount of cream and lemon and pasta. And I used double the amount of vegetables.

I’m not big on a super pasta-y pasta salad. Does that make any sense whatsoever?

Anyhow, it was a perfect meal on a perfect Ohio evening enjoyed on the patio.

We ate while Henry soaked in the fresh air in his bouncy seat.

The two ding dongs ran around arguing over the same stick.

A pretty perfect meal, and a pretty perfect evening.

Life is good,

Leah

P.S. Want to see the coolest, most darling gift I received yesterday? My friend, Jess, oozes creativity. And she made this for Henry’s room. I died. It is perfection, and it will be so perfect for his nursery. Thanks Jess!

Sorry, it is an iPhone pic- I’ll share a better pic when it makes it onto the wall.

I am a girl that loves a sandwich.

I am a girl that loves a spicy dish.

I am a girl that tries to eat somewhat healthy.

I am a girl that gets weak in the knees for buffalo sauce.

And I am a girl that stole this marvelous (and somewhat healthy)  recipe for the best Buffalo Chicken Burgers I’ve ever had.

My friend and former boss, Tracy, posted this recipe on Facebook a while back. I promptly made it because she promised that these burgers would be a healthy alternative to the terrible fried goodness of a chicken wing (or a boneless tender, that I prefer).

These burgers seriously deliver. They are so dang good. They are moist and delicious and flavorful and spicy and savory and the list goes on and on.

Now, first I must confess. I didn’t have any ground chicken.

So I used ground turkey instead. I lurrrrrve flexible recipes. You too, non?

This recipe makes 5 burgers.

I started with a 1.2 lb package of ground turkey and a large bowl.

Dump that turkey into the bowl.

Get out some grill seasoning. You’ll need 1 Tablespoon.

I happened to have a Chipotle Rub, and it was spectacular. However, any grill seasoning will do.

Now, Tracy recommends low fat blue cheese to keep the calorie count down in her burgers. If you are watching the waistline, I would encourage you to do the same.

If however, you are wanting a more delicious burger- go for the regular old blue cheese crumbles.

I have a personal aversion to low-fat cheese. It generally tastes bad, and it often strikes me as having a weird consistency.

I also hate low-fat salad dressing, but that is neither here nor there. Just thought you might want to know.

Anywho, add in 1/4 c. of blue cheese crumbles.

And 1/4 c. of Frank’s Red Hot. Or you could use Frank’s Buffalo Sauce.

Seriously, both my husband and I really love Frank’s Red Hot. We should buy stock in the stuff.

I think it makes just about any savory dish better. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But the stuff does make me quite happy.

Now, grab some Panko breadcrumbs. Do not attempt to substitute regular breadcrumbs in this recipe. You need the extra crunch provided by Panko.

These guys are found in the baking aisle of your grocery store right near the bread crumbs.

Add 3/4 c. of  the Panko to your bowl.

Chop up 1/3 c. of celery and toss it into the bowl.

And now add 1/4 of green onion.

If you don’t have green onions, use some chives like I did.

Bing bong for chives in the garden.

They have saved several dishes for me this summer when I need just a bit of green.

Gently mix all of the above together.

You want to mix the ingredients until they are combined. But don’t over mix the meat because it will get tough.

Five perfect burgers.

Set those burgers aside, and lets make a little blue cheese sauce to top our burgers with when they are cooked.

You’ll need two simple ingredients for the sauce.

First, 1/2 cup of low fat sour cream. Low-fat sour cream is one low-fat option that I can manage to eat. It doesn’t taste all that different from the full fat version to me.

Add 1/4 c. of those blue cheese crumbles to the sour cream and mix it up.

OK!

Let’s cook our burgers.

Before we do, I think we should follow Tracy’s suggestion to coat the outside in Panko to increase the crunchiness factor.

Those Panko breadcrumbs really do give the burgers that same crispy sensation that a fried tender or wing has.

Put a non-stick skillet over a medium flame to preheat.

I wanted to grill these burgers, but we only have a charcoal grill (I personally could never go gas- I love the charcoal flavor).

The downside of charcoal; however, is that if you are making a late dinner grilling sometimes is not an option.

Because, you know, it takes for-e-ver to heat up.

Enough about my woes.

Put a little olive oil in the pan.

And put your burgers into the pan.

After about 4-5 minutes, give them a flip.

Let them cook on the second side for another 4-5 minutes.

If you want to kick up the heat factor, baste those burgers with a little more red hot sauce.

Pull those burgers off of the pan, and start building your sandwich.

I put our burgers on a whole wheat crusty piece of bread.

And then I topped them with the blue cheese sauce, some tomato, and some sliced cucumbers.

Served up with a simple cucumber salad (can you tell that we were out of lettuce?) and a little fruit salad.

It will knock your socks off.

Want to see what my worthless sous chefs were up to?

Well, this one was at least in the kitchen… but she was just hoping for scraps:

Lola couldn’t bother to come inside. She was either sunbathing or keeping guard of the tomato plant:

And finally… this guy.

So far, Henry has been a real disappointment in the kitchen. He doesn’t help me out at all. Good thing he makes up for it with his extreme cuteness:

My guy’s hair makes my life.

Happy Tuesday!

XO,
Leah

French food is not something that I know much about.

Let’s see… my French culinary repertoire includes:

1. French Onion Soup

2. French Fries

3. Brie all melty and gooey and spread on a cracker

4. Chicken Cordon Bleu

And I’m not sure how French any of those dishes really are.

I have never been to France, but I did take four years of French.

My French speaking skills are now limited to asking, “May I go to the bathroom, please?”

Yes, folks. Four years of French, and that is what I have to show for it. Pathetic, non? (Oh wait, “non” is French. I guess I have TWO phrases to show for my French education).

My biggest French accomplishment was finishing the novel Les Miserables… in French. I wouldn’t say that I “read” the book, as much as I sat with the book and my French/English dictionary and translated it.

Growing up, Chicken Cordon Bleu was a regular meal in our household. I did not know that it was French, nor did I care. For, it was delicious… and that is all that really matters.

Chicken Cordon Bleu is the PERFECT make ahead meal, and it is the perfect meal to gift someone with. Who doesn’t like white meat chicken stuffed with cheese and salty ham? I mean, c’mon!

So, last weekend I whipped up a quick batch of Chicken Cordon Bleu. This is most certainly not my recipe, but I also can’t give credit to anyone for this recipe. It is just a good old classic.

You don’t need much to make this dish… just the following:

-Chicken breasts

-Gruyere cheese (if you want classic french), but swiss works too and is cheaper

-Ham

-Eggs, all whisked up

-1 c. of breadcrumbs (I like panko) mixed with 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper and 1/2 t. thyme

Let’s commence shall we?

Oui?

Oui.

Flour your counter or a cutting board, and give your chicken breasts a good coating of flour.

Now, pound your chicken meat.

Use lots of flour so that you don’t tear the flesh, and keep on pounding until the breast is nice and thin.

This is a great recipe to make when you need to work out some aggression. Seriously, pounding all of that chicken is very therapeutic.

Once all of the chicken is pounded, set it aside and lets get out our ham and cheese, and the cheese grater.

Grate your cheese, and pile it onto your cutting board.

Get out one slice of ham for each chicken breast.

And put about 1/4 c. (for 6-8 breasts) of your favorite mustard in a bowl.

I do declare that it is time to build our Cordon Bleus!

Lay out a flattened chicken breast.

And give it a good slather of that mustard.

I used a bourbon honey mustard. Um, yum.

Then, gently… ever so gently, top the chicken and mustard with a single slice of ham.

Now top that off with a generous handful of the cheese.

This dish is actually difficult for me to pull off in some ways. Because I end up with these raw-chicken hands. And then I’m touching grated cheese. And it is all that I can do to restrain myself from shoving some of that contaminated cheese into my mouth.

But I cry out for restraint, and somehow restraint finds me.

Ah-men.

Roll ‘er up.

And stick it on a plate. If some of the cheese come out of the bottom, don’t worry about it. It happens.

Keep going until you have all of your chicken rolled.

Time to coat those bad boys.

Crack two eggs into a bowl.

And give them a whisk.

In a separate bowl, combine your breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and thyme.

And mix that together.

Delicately take one chicken breast and lay it on the plate.

Whisper phrases like “bonjour” and “c’est tout” and “au bon pain” to it.

And slather on some of that whisked egg.

The whisked egg sticks to the flour. And the bread crumb mixture will stick to your egg.

Like magic.

Coat the entire roll with your breadcrumb topping.

And repeat until you are done.

Folks, it is as easy as that.

At this point, if you are planning on consuming the chicken immediately,  you can pop these guys into the oven for 30 min. at 350.

If you are storing these for another day, simply wrap each breast tightly in some plastic wrap.

Then store these guys in  your freezer for up to 3 months.

When you are ready to eat them, pop the breasts into your fridge for 24 hours to defrost the chicken.

Then simply toss them onto a sheet pan and into the oven. 350 for 30 minutes.

French perfection.

Want to know who wants some french perfection?

This girl.

She knows a good thing when she smells it.

Au revoir mes amies,

Leah

Boring.

Bland.

Yawn.

Bleck.

This is how I feel about chicken from time to time.

I know you all must feel the same way.

You open up your fridge or freezer, and have a package of uncooked chicken and a tear forms in your eye because chicken is so dang boring.

I’m always looking for new and better ways to prepare chicken to break out of my loathing disdain for the bland meat.

I usually only purchase chicken breasts or chicken tenders because 1) it is a healthier, leaner cut of meat and 2) there are not weird veins and tendons and skin and grossness that cause me to throw up in my mouth as I’m preparing dinner.

And today, I shall share with you an old standby favorite chicken recipe.

This chicken.

Is good.

And I promise that even your KIDS will like it.

And your spouse.

And your mom and dad.

And everyone everywhere.

I’m not even exaggerating… not even a little.

Today, we make some panko crusted chicken tenders with a dipping sauce.

I hear kids like anything dip-able. True?

So, here is what you’ll need:

One small plate with 2 cups of white flour on it.

2 eggs all whisked up on a separate plate.

Then a third plate piled high with a cup and a half of panko breadcrumbs.

Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese breadcrumbs, and they can be found in the Asian foods section of your grocery store. They are much crunchier than regular old boring breadcrumbs. I highly recommend you invest in the Panko.

Add 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan to the panko.

Then add 1/2 t. of crushed red pepper flake, 1/2 t. of garlic powder (or a chopped up clove of garlic), 1/4 t. of thyme, 1/4 t. rosemary.

And mix it all up.

Now, let’s set up our chicken station.

Chicken.

Then, flour, egg, and panko mixture all lined all up in a row.

Give your chicken a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Now, take your first chicken tender and give it a dip in the flour pool.

Coat the entire tender.

The flour sticks nicely to the raw chicken tender.

Now, dip that floured chicken into your whisked eggs.

The eggs stick to the flour.

Now take the flour and egg dipped chicken, and coat it in the panko mixture.

The panko mixture sticks to the egg.

Repeat until all of your chicken is coated to perfection.

Now, get yourself a non-stick pan.

Put it on a burner over medium-high heat.

Give the bottom of the pan a good coating of olive oil.

Put your chicken tenders in the pan in a single layer.

Let them cook for 4 minutes.

Give those bad boys a flip, and let them cook on the other side for 4 minutes.

Pull the chicken off the skillet, and place it on a pan that is going to be stuffed in the oven.

350 for 5 minutes.

This will result in crispy, crunchy, perfectly cooked chicken.

They key to chicken tasting good is cooking it thoroughly without cooking the moisture out of it.

Now, prepare your dipping sauce. I took some honey mustard and combined it with some hot sauce. Classy.

Honey would be delish.

Or BBQ sauce.

Or Plain honey mustard.

Or buffalo sauce.

Or whatever else floats your boat!

Serve the chicken up on a plate with a big green salad and some sauteed carrots (I’ll be sharing that recipe with ya next week).

Chicken that is easy and delicious.

Oh, and did I mention… that after you have cooked up the chicken, you could easily pop it into air-tight containers and store them in the freezer for an easy and healthy weeknight dinner ? Or make extra to top a big salad for lunch during the week? The possibilities are endless, of course.

Have a great weekend!

XO,

Leah

Hi peeps!

It is Friday.

And tomorrow is Bradley’s birthday.

And those two facts make me quite happy.

I’ve been on the road a bit this week. Thus, I have been a very bad blogger.

But, I’m baaaaaaaaack!

And today, I’m talking barbecue. And calzones.

Yep.

You heard me right.

Lets get started, shall we?

Preheat your oven to 375.

Get some chicken.

Two large chicken breasts make two large calzones.

Get out a non-stick pan, and put some oil into the pan over medium-high heat.

Do you have chipotle chile powder?

It is chile powder made from smoked chiles.

If you don’t have the chipotle chile powder, don’t fret!

You can use plain ole chili powder.

I won’t judge you.

Much.

Give your chicken breasts a healthy coating of chili powder, a sprinkle of salt, and a dusting of pepper.

Now drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil onto the chicken breasts, and give your oil and spices a good rub.

Pop those bad boys face-down into your heated pan.

Warning: You may experience some coughing or a runny nose from the heat hitting the chili powder.

Sorry bout that.

If the weather is nice, I would recommend doing the cooking portion on the grill. However, I made these on a rainy day.

While the first side is cooking (for about 5 min), give the other side the chili, salt, and pepper treatment.

After the first side has cooked for about 5 minutes, give the breasts a flip.

Now, cover them with foil. This helps the chicken cook through a little faster.

Leave it alone to cook for 5 minutes.

Meat cooks best when you don’t mess with it.

Don’t press on it.

Don’t move it around.

Don’t poke it.

Just leave it be.

Take an onion and remove the peel.

Cut the onion in half, and then slice it into half moons.

Take your chicken breasts out of the pan.

Give it a quick wipe down, then add some fresh oil (still over med-high heat).

Throw your onions into the pan.

I did not take a pic.

I’m a failure.

Push the onions around a bit, and allow them to brown up.

Now to our chicken. When you pull it out of the pan, let it sit on your cutting board for a few minutes before messing with it.

Cutting into the chicken too early will let all of the juices drip out.

And we want the juice IN the chicken.

Slice it.

Grab your favorite BBQ sauce.

I chose Montgomery Inn BBQ Sauce- a Cincinnati favorite.

Give your chicken a drizzle while it is still pretty darn hot.

Then, massage the sauce into the meat.

Chop it up even more finely.

Little bite-sized morsels.

Yum.

Onions should be about done now.

I put a little sprinkle of salt and pepper on the onions.

Because I’m naughty.

Pile up all of your desired calzone fillings.

I have sauteed onions, my bbq chicken, some cooked up bacon, shredded pepper jack cheese, and some chopped cilantro.

Now take out some pizza dough.

I had some homemade dough, but there are lots of great options in the grocery store,

Trader Joes makes a great fresh pizza dough for $.99. That is my store brand favorite.

I cut my dough in half.

Then rolled out the first calzone.

I try to get the dough into a an oval shape.

Pile up some chicken on one half of the calzone.

Top the chicken with some onions.

How about some bacon?

Yes, please!

Oooh-eee.. chopped cilantro is next.

Now, some crazy people don’t like cilantro. If that is you, I’m sorry.

I guess if you don’t like cilantro, you could use some green onion or chives instead.

Lots of cheese, please!

Now, use a little olive oil as your glue to secure the two sides of the calzone together.

Use a fork to seal it up.

And then trim any extra dough off of the edge.

Give the top of the calzone several pokes with a fork to allow steam to escape while they are baking.

Put your calzones on the a non-stick pan.

Give them a brush of olive oil, and give it a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Pop it into the oven for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, the calzones come out browned and beautiful.

And smelling good.

A half of a calzone was the perfect serving size.

The perfect pairing? A big green salad.

Not too shabby, right?

Have a great weekend pals.

XO,

Leah

OK, People.

I am about to change your life.

I am going to be like Bob and Jillian to the folks on Biggest Loser.

I am going to be like Jack LeLane to the juicing world.

I am going to be like Mark Zuckerberg to the world of social networking.

I am going to introduce you to Cilantro Chutney.

I have no clue how I only discovered this delightful delectable deliciousness over the past weekend.

I am angered at the unjustness of the world that Cilantro Chutney has been withheld from me until now.

And I am forever grateful to my dear Dr. Sister for introducing me to it.

Are you ready for it?

OK, here we go.

The chutney recipe actually comes from my sisters boyfriend’s momma. And for the rest of my life, I shall owe her a huge debt of gratitude.

To make the chutney, combine the following in a food processor:

1 1/2 c. chopped cilantro
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 onion, chopped
1/8 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 c. grated unsweetened coconut- you must find the unsweetened kind, it is in the baking aisle usually near the chocolate chips
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 T. water

And, there you have it.

Thank you, and goodnight.

I kid, I kid.

I’ll tell you how I have been enjoying this yummy, spicy, sweet, savory treat.

Idea #1:

Get a container of this:

Dump it into a bowl with a couple of huge tablespoons of the chutney.

Stir it up.

Pretty!

Store it in the same container it came in- yay for recycling.

Slather some of that on toasted goodness.

Or on a turkey sandwich.

Or on a Triscuit.

Yep, that is Gooooooooooood.

Slap a label on it so you can find it easily time and time again.

I promise you…

This will not last long in your fridge.

Idea #2

An easy chip dip

Get a container of this stuff:

Toss a little (1/2 c.) in a bowl and top with a heaping tablespoon of the chutney.

Mix it up.

Then, take a corn chip and dip it!

Or, use my husbands favorite chip to dip… the BBQ chip!

This combo is especially tasty because the spiciness of the BBQ chip pairs perfectly with the bright cilantro and sweeter coconut flavor of the chutney.

Of you can use the old standby for dipping… the pretzel!

Idea #3:

Use it to make a yummer yummer in my tummer dinner.

Fry some bacon (6 pieces for dinner for 2 plus a portion for leftovers).

Hello, Lover.

Drain that pan of the bacon fat.

Slice half of an onion. I used red, but you can use whatever you’ve got!

Drop that in your hot pan to caramelize and cook.

Put some chicken breasts or chicken tenders on a plate.

I had left chicken defrosting in the fridge all day, and it was not close at all to being 100% defrosted when I was ready to use it.

So, I cheat the defrosting process along by chopping the chicken into bite sized chunks.

Within minutes, the chicken is thawed.

Perfect!

Sprinkle on some seasoned salt and lemon pepper (there is lemon juice in the chutney, and the lemon pepper chicken pairs great with that!).

Mix it up.

Rub the seasonings in.

Toss that chicken into the same pan that had cooked your bacon, then onions.

Make sure you have washed your hands thoroughly after handling all of that raw chicken.

Cook that chicken through.

If you use the pre-sliced chunks o’ chicken, they will cook pretty quickly. 3-5 minutes, and they are done.

Right before pulling the chicken off of the heat, I added in a few dashes of worcestershire and hot sauce.

Lets wrap it up.

Grap a wrap or tortilla (or bread or bun or whatever you have on hand).

Put down a sprinkle of cheese and then top that with your hot chicken.

Grab your sour cream/chutney sauce.

I actually added another tablespoon of the chutney to make the flavors even more pronounced.

Slather some of that on your sandwich.

Top with some of your caramelized onions.

And some crumbled bacon.

I happened to have a perfectly ripe avocado, so I threw it on too!

Wrap it up!

I served it with green beans from a can.

CONFESSION: green beans from a can are my secret vegetable pleasure… although, I’m pretty sure there isn’t a whole lot of nutritional value left in them when they turn that canned shade of green.

And I also made a simple spinach salad with fried goat cheese rounds on top… that recipe is coming tomorrow!

I am telling you.

I know cilantro is not for everyone. However, if you are like me and love the stuff… you cannot live one more day without cilantro chutney in your life.

For if you do, you will certainly look back with regret on all of the time lost living without the chutney.

I’m not even exaggerating.

Really.

I’m not.

Believe me?

Good.

Happy Hump Day Peeps,

Leah

It seems impossible that my ears are burning from the cold air whipping around as I walked our ding-dongs tonight.

Just a week ago, I was soaking up the sun and drinking mai-tais in Hawaii.

I’ve mentioned that while we were there, we had some incredible meals.

And none of them rocked my world more than my Uncle Steve’s red snapper.

Yowza.

I learned that this fish dish of his was what he made for my Aunt Lynda on their very first date. No wonder she came back for date #2!

Since leaving Hawaii, I have been dreaming about that dish. So, I decided to make it tonight to momentarily transport us back to the warm ocean breeze (you know, away from the cold fall blustery gusts of Ohio).

Now, I faced a couple of problems right off the bat.

1. I live in Ohio.

2. You cannot get the Hawaiian Red Snapper  (one of the only Red Snapper varieties to not be overfished and on the “do not eat” list) in Ohio.

3. If you could get the whole darn thing, Brad and I could not eat an entire fish.

4. Who would eat the eyeballs and brain without Steve here?

So, I set out to make a more mainland friendly version. All of the ingredients I used are easily found in Ohio, and I have both a chicken and a seafood version. So, if fish isn’t for you… stick around for the chicken.

Hang tight.

And hang loose.

I’ll walk ya through Uncle Steve’s recipe, and at the end I’ll give you our mainland version.

Dear Fish,

Thank you for giving your life for us. It meant a lot. Truly.

You were delicious.

XO,

Leah

Those are fish guts.

Know who likes fish guts?

This little guy.

So, this big guy shared the guts with the little guy.

Steve took the whole gutless fish and placed it on a Ti leaf, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and then wrapped another Ti leaf around it. He wrapped the whole bundle in foil, and he put it on the grill.

It both grilled AND steamed it.

Magical.

Here he is all cooked up.

Squeeze a little lemon on our buddy, Mr. Fish.

And a bit of soy sauce.

Now.

Oh now.

Now is the part that changed me.

On this plate is chopped garlic, ginger, and macadamia nuts.

Yes, please.

In this pan is oil. When it gets to the perfect temperature, the oil will bubble a bit around the chopsticks.

When it bubbles, toss in your plate of wonder.

Well, don’t toss.

That’s hot oil you are dealing with. And it could splatter. And that would hurt.

As soon as it hits the oil, oh Sweet Mary Patricia.

It is the smell of the islands.

When it gets a little golden, you are golden.

And you should pull it off of the heat.

Take that whole sizzling pan and pour it over Mr. Fish.
It crackles and adds those flavors to the entire dish.

Sprinkle it generously with chinese parsley (aka cilantro) and green onion.

Did I mention that Mr. Fish had to lose his tail?

Know why?

Because the house we rented had a small grill, and poor Mr. Fish couldn’t quite fit.

Look at that spread!

Pretty fantabulous.

In Hawaii, we had this with pad thai, white rice, seared ahi tuna, and a delicious green salad.

The after dinner show was pretty entertaining too.

Uncle Steve partook in the fish eyeball.

I cannot overstate how nasty this eyeball looked. The lens of the eyeball looked like a small white eyeball.

Sick.

But Steve is an island boy, through and through.

So, he slurped up the ball of eye.

Now, this is my cousin.

He is my uncle’s mini-me.

And he wanted the other eyeball.

At the very least, he wanted to be like his dad.

By the looks of his face, I’m not so sure he actually wanted the eyeball.

And believe me, he was even more unsure he wanted the eyeball once it was in his mouth.

Ha.

Did I mention that I’m from a family of good eaters?

Now, trust me when I say that even if you are not a seafood person you have to try a version of this dish.

It is so delicious, and on a cool fall day it will take you away to the islands.

I roasted some chicken tenders that were coated with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

350 for about 15-20 min (depends on the thickness).

I also wanted to try this dish with tilapia- a pretty easy-to-find fish in Ohio.

I used the frozen version from Kroger.

Get out a piece of parchment paper, and give it a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Place your defrosted fish down and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

Cover with another sheet of parchment paper.

We’re making a little pocket to steam the fish in while its in the oven.

This method keeps the fish super moist.

Have I ever mentioned that I rather loathe the word  moist?

Start at one corner and fold it like this:

Move over a couple of inches, and fold it again:

Keep going and folding!

Until it looks like this.

It doesn’t have to be perfectly sealed, but you want a pretty good pocket for some solid steam action.

Put it on a piece of foil or on a pan so that if juices start to flow, they don’t flow directly to the bottom of your oven.

Pop that into the oven with the chicken for the last 10 minutes of the chicken cooking.

Again, this will vary based on the filet’s thickness.

If you have paper thin tilapia filets, you could need as little as 5-6 minutes.

Take a peek, and if they are white all the way through- they are done!

Now, I fried up the garlic, ginger, and macadamia nut mixture.

I’m going to insist on mac nuts. Normally, I would say to be flexible and use what you have.

But the mac nuts take it over the top.

They really do!

Put your meat on a pan, and drizzle the most flavorful goodness over it.

Please note, I forgot to add a squeeze of lemon juice and about 1/4 cup of soy sauce.

You should not forget this step.

But rest assured, if you do, it will still be deeeee-lish!

Top with cilantro and green onion, and pop it on a plate!

I served it up with a roasted butternut squash casserole with blue cheese in it (recipe is coming soon). So stinking good.

I’m convinced that the garlic/ginger/mac nut along with the cilantro/green onion topping would be delicious on just about anything.

I’m thinking that I might need to try it on shrimp and scallops next.

Yes, I think so.

Know what would be perfect with this?

A pina colada.

Or a mai tai.

Or a glass of crisp white wine.

Have a great weekend!

If you are feeling inspired, transport yourself to the islands with this dish.

XO,

Leah

… errr, something like that.

Brad asked me to help out and do a quick video for a series going on at the Vineyard.

I reluctantly agreed.

This kind of thing makes me nervous and twitchy.

But, here it is in all of its glory.

My voice sounds weird.

And here is the recipe. I have shared it before!

Lots of love,

Leah

I’m baaaaaaaack!

Back home, sleeping in my own bed, happy to see the main man, and back to work and the routine.

My sister getaway was fun, refreshing, and just about perfect.

I love the time that I get to spend with my family. But sister time is something special. It filled me up to be able to sit and talk and laugh and just be totally us together.

I could easily get sentimental now, but I won’t.

Because you don’t want to hear it.

Right?

I didn’t think so.

So, what do you want to talk about today?

Food?

Ok!

I’m in.

Speaking of food, we ate some good stuff on vacation. Why are King Crab legs the best food ever invented?

I consider the crab legs dipped in clarified butter a guilt free food. Why? Because you get a workout while you are eating. I’m pretty sure you burn off the clarified butter calories as you crack your crab.

Yes.

You do.

Anyhow, I digress.

The last recipe I shared was a chicken recipe, and I happen to have another one for you today. I’m stretching myself to try and make chicken a fun and interesting ingredient once again.

One of my summer favorites is the Caprese Salad. Is it simple and delicious.

So, this recipe uses the base of the Caprese Salad and adds in the chicken.

Heres what you’ll need- chicken and some melty cheese (obviously mozzarella is the classic choice- I didn’t have any, so I used havarti and it was delicious) and then the following:

Everything pictured above will go into the caprese salad inspired portion of our meal: Three medium tomatoes, a white onion, some hot peppers (if you like it hot), a bunch of basil, a bunch of chives, olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper.

Lets make our caprese inspired salad.

I don’t groove on raw onion. If you do, feel free to skip this step. I just think it makes the whole dish better if you do things my way.

Well, life in general is happier if you follow my direction.

At least it is happier for me.

Chop your onion, put some oil in the pan over medium heat, and add your onion. Let it soften.

While that cooks, chop your tomato, peppers, basil, and chives.

Throw them in a bowl.

Side note: I squeezed some of the seeds out of the tomatoes. I don’t like a soggy topper to my chicken. If you are into sog, go ahead and keep the seeds in.

Your call, my friends.

Add in a little salt and pepper.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that I believe in Coarse Kosher salt. It is better than all other salts. Except for maybe coarse sea salt.

Invest in some.

It is cheap and it makes a difference.

You will thank me forever.

Or maybe you won’t.

Either way, upgrade from iodized salt. Please. It is the only request I will ever make.

That, and to use organic eggs only.

But that is a subject for a different day and time.

Add in a tablespoon or so of balsamic (this recipe really should be done to taste):

And a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (again, about a tablespoon):

Take your onions off of the stove.

Allow them to cool a bit.

Throw them into the tomato mixture:

Mmm. I could eat that with a spoon.

In fact, I did eat some of that with a spoon.

And then I mixed it with the same spoon.

Sinner.

Set that aside, and lets work on our chicken.

I’m using chicken tenders.

As I’ve mentioned before, I favor the tender over the breast.

Why does it feel like an innuendo every time I write the words tender and breast?

Because I am as mature as a twelve year old, I think.

You thought it too.

Don’t lie.

Sprinkle them with some seasoned salt, some freshly ground coarse black pepper, and a little bit of italian seasoning:

Put a little extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side.

Now, for the best part.

The cheesy part.

The cheesy part is always the best part.

Unless there is a bacon part.

Bacon trumps cheese.

I think.

Nestle two of your tenders together, and place a slice of cheese over the top. Let it get melty.

Once the cheese is sufficiently melty, transfer the chicken and cheese to a plate.

Top with a generous helping of your tomato mixture.

Serve it up with some Brussels sprouts and pasta and a little fruit salad.

Wowza.

Chicken.

Chicken that doesn’t taste like chicken.

My favorite kind.

It tastes like summer- tomatoes, basil, and cheese.

Have I mentioned I love summer?

I do.

I do.

I do.

Happy Eating,

Leah

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