Salsa di pomodoro

Adapted from Lidia’s Italy and her alla marinara

Ingredients:

  • 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomato
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1/2 celery stick, chopped fine
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • salt and red pepper flakes (peperoncino) to taste
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (about 3 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden (about 10 minutes).
  3. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves. Rinse the tomato cans with 2 cups of water and add that as well. Bring everything to a boil. Add the basil.
  4. Season lightly with salt and crushed red pepper. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaves. Taste, and season with more salt and red pepper to taste. Serve!

We were renting an AirBnB and I wanted something delicious but easy peasy and super tasty. For some protein, we picked up the Spicy Jalapeño Chicken Sausage. I recommend coating the pasta in the sauce, rather than just topping with it. Don’t be afraid to garnish with parmesan cheese and more fresh basil as the mood strikes! The photo shows a leftover overloaded potato skin which reheated well in the oven.

~Jessica

Chinese savory pancake

Adapted from The Woks of Life and Roti ‘n Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, julienned
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 small green pepper, julienned
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 scallions or Chinese garlic chives, chopped (if you have)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 cup flour, depending on egg size
  • a dash of corn starch
  • soy sauce (1 tbsp oyster sauce, if you have)
  • salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper, to your liking
  • 1/2 tsp. five spice powder (if you have)
  • vegetable oil and a little butter

Directions:

  1. Wash the carrot and bell pepper, dry. You can use a grater, if julienning carrots is hard.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the grated vegetables with ¾ teaspoon of salt. Let sit for 15 minutes, and you’ll see visible veg juice at the bottom of the bowl, which we will keep.
  3. Now mix in the eggs, chopped scallions (if you have), ground white pepper, sesame oil, sugar (optional), and about all-purpose flour. (I tried oat flour for gluten free, in the photos).
  4. If you feel like you need more flour (this could depend on the size of the eggs, for example), add it 1 tablespoon at a time. The final batter should look similar to breakfast pancake batter.
  5. Use medium-low heat, add the vegetable oil and a little butter. If you have, sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and cook each side until lightly golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.
  6. Repeat.
  7. Serve with a simple soy dipping sauce, chili oil, etc.

It smells very good! And it’s all vegetables. Jessica tried it with some sour cream, like a potato latke! Would love to try to zucchini version of this (instead of just carrot and onion).

~Kailing

Mom’s baked chicken

Adapted from somewhere…

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken drumsticks, skin-on
  • garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • a twig of fresh thyme (if dried thyme, about 1/2 teaspoon)

Directions:

  1. Put 10″ cast iron pan into oven @ 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt in a small bowl. Taste.
  3. Cover 6 chicken drumsticks with this spice mix.
  4. Take cast iron pan out of oven (leave oven on!) and put hot cast iron pan on the stovetop.
  5. Melt the 1/4 stick of butter (no need to light the stove because the pan is still extremely hot).
  6. Put a twig of fresh thyme (I use dried thyme, about 1/2 teaspoon that’s enough to cover the pan).
  7. Add the chicken into pan, coat the chicken with this butter-thyme sauce.
  8. Put the pan back into the hot oven, bake it for 15 minutes (no need to cover them), take the pan out and flip the chickens, then back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
  9. Take it out of oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes or so.
  10. Plate the chicken, then pour the pan sauce over and serve.

You won’t believe how juicy it is, and very tasty. I used smoked paprika because that is all I have. It’s really good, people who tried my chicken later on asked me for the recipe.  Good luck!

~Kailing

Chicken stew

Adapted from Recipe Tin Eats

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 kg / 3 lbs bone in, skin on chicken thighs and drumsticks (6 to 8 pieces)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 onions, halved and cut into wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 large carrots, cut thick end into 1.5cm / 3/5″ pieces, thin end 2.5cm/1″
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 2cm / 4/5″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) white wine (or water)
  • 3 tbsp (35g) flour
  • 3 cups (750 ml) chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 sprigs thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme (or other herb)
  • 2 bay leaves (dried or fresh)
  • 600 g / 1.2 lbs baby potatoes, halved (quarter large ones)
  • Warm crusty bread (homemade garlic bread!!)
  • OPTIONAL: Fresh thyme or parsley (chopped)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat. Brown chicken on both sides until light golden, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Remove from pot. (Do in 2 batches if pot not big enough).
  3. If there’s too much oil in the pot, discard some. Add onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes until onion is translucent.
  4. Add carrots and celery, cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add wine. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve the brown bits into the liquid. Cook for 1 minute until liquid is mostly gone.
  6. Sprinkle flour across surface, stir.
  7. Add broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to dissolve tomato paste.
  8. Place chicken on top, keeping the skin above the liquid level as much as you can.
  9. Bring to simmer then cover. Bake for 45 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven, remove lid. Add potatoes, pushing them into the liquid and rearranging chicken so they sit on top (for lovely crispy skin).
  11. Return to oven without the lid for a further 40 minutes until the chicken skin is deep golden and super crispy, the potatoes are soft and the sauce is thickened.
  12. Taste sauce and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Serve with warm crusty bread on the side to dunk in the sauce – or go all the way with Garlic Bread! Optional: garnish with extra fresh thyme leaves or parsley.

Ingredients for Garlic Bread:

  • 1 French stick / baguette , ~ 60cm / 2ft long (I use half a loaf of Whole Foods peasant bread)
  • 125 g / 1 US stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp fresh garlic , minced (~3 – 4 cloves, pack the teaspoon)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp finely chopped parsley (optional)

Directions for Garlic Bread:

  1. Preheat oven. I left it at the same temperature as the chicken stew.
  2. Cut the French stick in half. Then cut the bread almost all the way through into 2cm / 4/5″ thick slices.
  3. Mix together the butter, garlic, salt and parsley. Taste to see if it’s salty / garlicky enough for your taste.
  4. Smear garlic butter over cut side of bread.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is crispy (check through foil).

I wanted a Dutch oven for a long time, and my sister Jennifer recommended the affordable Lodge cast iron 6 quart. She also recommended this chef’s blog! This came out super tasty — and every reheated leftover tasted better and better. HIGHLY recommend. Perfect for cold winter’s days to heat up your whole apartment.

~ Jessie

Homemade ramen

Adapted from Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (peanut oil works too)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (missing!)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (also had homegrown oyster mushrooms)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine
  • 3 (5.6-ounce) packages refrigerated Yaki-Soba, seasoning sauce packets discarded*
  • 2 bok choy
  • 8 slices Narutomaki, optional*
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions

Directions:

  1. Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Cover eggs with a tight-fitting lid and remove from heat; set aside for 8-10 minutes. Drain well and let cool before peeling and halving. (I might revise and post a different soft boiled egg direction because ours came out hard boiled!)
  2. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and scallions whites, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Whisk in chicken broth, mushrooms, soy sauce (and seasonings) and 3 cups water.
  4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until mushrooms have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in Yaki-Soba until loosened and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. (I used different noodles, which got sticky! Flavor still amazing though.)
  5. Stir in bok choy, Narutomaki (wish I had, got Vietnamese hot pot pork balls instead), carrot and scallions until the greens begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately, garnished with eggs.

This was perfect for a cold winter’s meal. I wanted to use these fresh Chinese noodles I had, but they might have been not the most suitable. I will use real yakisoba noodles next time — Sun Noodles’ Shoyu and Miso flavors are good! Other classic ramen toppings I really love: Chāshū (sliced barbecued or braised pork), Seasoned Soy soft-boiled egg (“Ajitsuke Tamago“), Bean sprouts, Menma (lactate-fermented bamboo shoots), Kakuni (braised pork cubes or squares), Kikurage (wood ear mushroom), Nori (dried seaweed), Kamaboko (formed fish paste, only the pink and white spiral is called narutomaki), Corn, Butter, and Wakame (a different type of seaweed). Wiki I also grew my own oyster mushrooms — a gift from a friend for my classroom (pre-pandemic).

Next time for the eggs, I will 1) leave the eggs in the fridge until the water is boiling and 2) Prepare an ice water bath and 3) marinate them in soy sauce-sugar-mirin-sake for 2 days.

~Jessie

Pan roasted chicken and vegetables

Adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen and Taste of Home

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 medium yellow potatoes, unpeeled and sliced into 3/4″ to 1″ thick pieces
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into 1/2″ thick rounds
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into 3/4″ thick rounds
  • 2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1.5 Tbsp garlic salt, or to taste
  • Freshly grated black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tbsp. Canola or olive oil
  • 4 skin-on chicken thighs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, onion, oil, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat.
  2. In a small bowl, mix paprika and the remaining salt, rosemary and pepper. Sprinkle chicken with paprika mixture; arrange over potatoes and carrots. Transfer to a Dutch oven or baking pan coated with olive oil, roast uncovered at 450˚F for 10 minutes. The chicken will roast until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 170°-175° and vegetables are just tender (about 35-40 minutes total).
  3. Combine the zucchini, bell peppers, and 1/2 the garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove roasting pans from the oven and quickly place the rest of the vegetables evenly over the top. Return to the oven and roast an additional 20-25 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender and easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Remove chicken to a serving platter; keep warm. Roast until vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes longer. Stir vegetables to combine; serve with chicken.

I had the vegetables I wanted for my classic vegetable soup dish, but no pot or Dutch oven big enough to hand blend it. So I thought to try out the glass Pyrex baking pan I just acquired and bake some this cold weekend for dinner. The vegetables (especially the potatoes) took a decent extra time to cook through, but the Staub Enameled Cast Iron Fry Pan cooked considerably more than the Pyrex Glass Baking Dish. THIS TASTES SO GOOD.. I never got tired of reheating leftovers. In fact, it tasted better each time.

~Jessica

Sopa de fideo

Recipe courtesy of my co-worker, Ms. Carchichabla and the blog Isabel Eats

Ingredients:

  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • small onion, chopped
  • 1 packet Goya Sazón Seasoning with Azafrán
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 6 cups chicken/vegetable broth
  • rosemary, thyme
  • vegetables (e.g. celery, carrots, cauliflower, potato, bell pepper)
  • 8 oz. fideo pasta
  • olive oil
  • black beans, cooked (we used canned)
  • garnish: lime and cilantro, Mexican Queso Fresco and diced avocado. (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cut up two plum tomatoes, 2 garlic cloves, little bit of onion and sautée until soup-like. We also added diced jalapeño pepper (I recommend removing the seeds as much as possible), but you can also add red pepper flakes.
  2. Add a packet of Goya Sazón con Azafrán.
  3. Add 3 – 4 cups of water (or broth) to boil.
  4. Then, put in the veggies — we used celery, carrots, potato, and turnip.
  5. To make the fideo, which is the (bow tie) pasta, you’re going to toast it in a pan in olive oil. Don’t toast it too much or it will burn, just toast it till gets to a tannish-yellow color.
  6. After putting the fideo in the soup along with the veggies, add the beans. (The beans should already have been cooked before!) Add some salt, rosemary, a pinch of thyme.
  7. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes or whenever you feel it’s ready. Taste. Add some salt if necessary. Garnish with cilantro, etc.

It’s a perfect meal for the fall/winter weather. Additional soup ingredients can include vegetables such as bell pepper, onion and garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken, chili peppers, vegetable oil, salt and pepper. I quite liked my second attempt too, with canned tomatoes!

~Jessica

Shrimp fried rice

Adapted from Just One Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 6 shrimps (100 g or 3.7 oz; shelled and deveined)
  • 1 leaf iceberg lettuce (30 g or 1 oz)
  • 1 green onion/scallion
  • 2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (canola, etc)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil (roasted)
  • 1 tsp sake (subbed with Shaoxing wine)
  • ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (use half for table salt)
  • 2 cups cooked Japanese short-grain rice (preferably day-old cold rice)
  • ⅛ tsp white pepper powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Cut shrimp into ½ inch (1.3 cm) pieces.
  2. Cut iceberg lettuce and scallion into small pieces.
  3. Gently whisk the egg in a small bowl.
  4. Heat wok until surface almost smoking, add the oil and spread it around till it coats the surface evenly. Add the egg and cook over high heat. The egg will not stick to the pan as long as you put enough oil. Quickly mix it with a spatula and when it’s 80% cooked, take it out and put on a plate.
  5. In the same wok, add shrimp and then sake and salt. Cook until shrimp change color outside. The inside doesn’t have to be cooked through at this time. Take shrimp out onto the plate.
  6. Add sesame oil and cook scallion, stir until nicely coated with oil.
  7. Add the rice and break up the chunks of rice. Toss the wok and mix well together.
  8. When rice is coated with oil, put the egg and shrimp back in the wok again and toss all together. Add lettuce, white pepper, freshly ground black pepper, and soy sauce. Toss the wok frequently and mix it all together. Serve immediately.

But just in case anyone forgets, limit your seafood intake (if you’re concerned about mercury, by all means), because of this: Will the ocean ever run out of fish? I’m a huge fan of TedEd videos, especially in education. Feel free to sub with chicken, or tofu instead, just make sure to marinate the chicken well ahead of time (salt and pepper, minimum), or fry the tofu. Consumer decision has huge influence on overfishing practices. I used 1/4 lb. of “sustainably farmed” shrimp (although Thai — carbon footprint) from Whole Foods, used 2 eggs instead of just one, and subbed the sake with Shaoxing rice wine. Probably could have used 2-3 lettuce leaves for more veg.

~Jessica

Blueberry Buckle – Part 2 of the Bottomless Blueberries Trilogy

Preceded by: Lemon Blueberry Biscuits 

Our second deep dive into baking with blueberries came in the form of a blueberry buckle! I had never heard of a buckle before, but per the Farmer’s Almanac:

Buckle: A buckle consists of fruit and cake baked together, with a streusel topping. As it bakes the fruit and streusel topping makes the cake “buckle.” It very much resembles a coffee cake.

Farmer’s Almanac

I was enlightened! And this seemed like a great way to use up more blueberries as well. The end result was a moist, fruity cake with tons of blueberry flavor! My streusel could have used a bit more finessing…. but that is a story for another day!

Blueberry Buckle

adapted from Spend With Pennies

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries

Topping

  • ¼ cup butter + 1 tablespoon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 x 8 pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream sugar, butter, egg & lemon zest until fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to sugar mixture, alternating with milk mixing just until combined.
  4. Toss blueberries with 1 tablespoon flour. Fold into batter and spread in prepared pan.
  5. Combine all topping ingredients in a small bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter and bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

The cake came out deliciously moist and fluffy and full of flavor! It was a hit with the kids. The only hiccup that I ran into was that for the streusel topping, I actually ran out of white sugar! So I ended up using just brown sugar and I think that it didn’t work out that well, ha! It came out looking more like sand rather than nice crumbly topping. But live and learn and bake a buckle for another day!

Lemon Blueberry Biscuits – Part 1 of the Bottomless Blueberries Trilogy

It all started with 11 lbs of blueberries.

Husband: “Look, it says if you pick more than 10 lbs then the price goes down!”

Me: “But its only 5 cents less per pound….”

Husband: “What a great deal!”

And thus, we were awash in a sea of bountiful blueberries, with the hefty savings of 55 cents. But it wasn’t a horrible hardship, since blueberries are sweet, full of antioxidants, and are great to snack on in their perfectly natural berry form and are also delicious in baked goods! So really… a win-win all around!

Adorable kitten picture as a bonus. Such a sweet little black kitty!

To deal with the influx of berries, let the baking commence! The first recipe I tried was this Lemon Blueberry Biscuits recipe – it was a big hit! Tender, flaky, and bursting with fresh flavor. Also, simple enough that my 3.5 year old was able to assist, always a plus!

Lemon Blueberry Biscuits

adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • For glaze:
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, whisk the first 5 ingredients. In another bowl, whisk yogurt, egg, melted butter and lemon zest until blended. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in blueberries.
  2. Drop by 1/3 cupfuls 1 in. apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 15-18 minutes or until light brown.
  3. In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients; stir until smooth. Drizzle over warm biscuits.

The original recipe called for lemon yogurt, which I did not have so I substituted Greek vanilla yogurt. Even without the lemon yogurt, the biscuits still had a fresh lemon flavor from the lemon zest and also the lemon glaze, but I imagine that the citrusy flavor would be even more pronounced if you used lemon yogurt! Blueberries and lemons pair wonderfully together with their sweet and tart flavors.

Hope you enjoy this delicious summery treat that captures some delicious flavors of the season!

Hot off the rack!