Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mushroom and Feta Stuffed Chicken

Last week, a discussion was had in my home regarding the lack of vegetarian dinners had by us. I suggested we do a mushroom-based dish, which is a big concession for me because I don’t particularly care for mushrooms, but I thought it might be a nice change. Somehow, after vast discussion, we decided on mushroom-stuffed chicken. Yes, I realize that’s not vegetarian. No, I’m not sorry. Why? Because it was delicious. And it was insanely cheap. We bought one portabella mushroom ($1), a small hunk of feta ($1), thinly sliced chicken cutlets ($3), one potato ($.50). We already had the olives and the asparagus.

Chicken brushed with olive tapenade, filled with feta cheese and mushrooms.

First, I sautéed the mushrooms with garlic, ginger and olive oil. Then after brushing the chicken with the olives and throwing a hunk of feta down, I scooped in as much of the garlic-ginger-mushroom mixture as I could.

Wrap them up carefully, pin with toothpick, roll in breadcrumbs and douse with butter!

I’m sure this would taste fine non-breadcrumbed and buttered, but I’ll never know for sure cause it’s too delicious like this 🙂

It goes into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, giving me just enough time to get the side dish together!

Potato and Asparagus Hash

We were originally going to have just grilled asparagus, but having once enjoyed a potato and asparagus hash at a restaurant, I thought, “I bet I can do that! It’s just cutting up everything into small pieces.” And I was right. I threw in the potatoes first, let them brown, then threw the garlic in, let it crisp a little, then only did the asparagus for the last five minutes so it stayed nice and crunchy.

I put food on top of other food because it makes me feel fancy.

This was a very pretty dinner we had that was packed, and I mean PACKED, with flavor. It was crispy and gooey and crunchy and yummy. AND it cost less than $3 per serving. I dare say… POP POP.


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Baby Bo’s Cantina & American Reunion

Last weekend, I wanted to take my man out on a dinner and a movie date. We decided to eat dinner ahead of time and then meet a couple of friends for the movie, which in this case was American Reunion. Say what you will about the dick and fart humor of the American Pie series; any culmination installment, a la Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, is enjoyable to those who have seen all the originals.

This movie brought that glorious feeling of closure to the lives of those we watched at inappropriately young ages. It was also an opportunity to see so many once-proud actors clearly in need of work, which brought me great amusement. Did I laugh out loud? Yes. Would I “recommend” it? Maybe. Was it “good”? Meh… let’s not get carried away.

Beforehand, we went to Baby Bo’s Cantina in Murray Hill, which was a cozy, festive little joint with a few tables and a bar. We sat at the bar.

Chips and Guacamole

We began our meal with fresh guacamole and salsa, typical but tasty.

We also ordered two frozen margaritas with salt, just like my mama taught me.

Chicken enchiladas with chipotle sauce.

I had been craving chicken enchiladas for quite some time, a thirst I am always hesitant to quench outside the Southwest. But on this day, I was feeling adventurous, so I went for it. I asked for the spicier of the two sauces, which I was told would be the chipotle. Honestly it wasn’t spicy at all, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Chicken Chimichangas

My date has recently developed an affinity for chimichangas, which were described on this menu as “deep fried burritos.” He loves them and he said these were particularly delicious.

Both dishes were served with dirty rice and refried pinto beans. The rice was meh, but rice is almost always meh for me. The beans, however, were the star of the meal. Not sure how they were prepared, but I am sure they all ended up in my belly. Yu-HUM.


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Spring Time = Healthy Eating

So it’s springtime and for many people, some residing in my home with me, it’s a time for eating healthier and yes.. gym going. This post will not deal with the gym going, whether it’s a 6am or not, but instead with my newest task: healthy food that doesn’t taste like it’s healthy. Challenge accepted.

When all your meal consists of is veggies, chicken and pasta and everything has to be lightly grilled, creativity must take over. First you need a variety of vegetables, pick different colors.

1 red pepper, 1 zucchini squash, 1/2 purple onion, 3 cloves of garlic

This is whole wheat pasta. Rice noodles are also really good with this dish.







First I grilled the more sturdy vegetables in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes while the pasta water boiled. Then once the pasta goes in, scoot the veggies to the side and add the chicken to the skillet.

I marinated this chicken in sriracha cause we're a spicy household.

Then I added broccoli and a chili pepper, soy sauce and a spicy thai peanut sauce.







If you prefer to use two pans, do that, but eventually you’ll need to throw everything together into one. Once the chicken is finished, throw in the broccoli and the chili peppers. I wait until the end to add these because broccoli is a delicate veggie that will be trashed if you put it in at the beginning and I like the chilies to retain their spice, which overcooking can prevent. Then I toss it with some soy sauce, low sodium (much to my chagrin), and this yummy spicy thai peanut sauce, but all that’s up to you!

This dish is easily made vegetarian, just leave out the chicken!

Here’s the finished product. To be honest, I prefer it with the rice noodles, but whole wheat isn’t bad and it’s definitely healthier if that’s your game. This is an easy, extremely versatile recipe that is healthy and packs a big punch of flavor. What sort of stir fry do you enjoy?

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Shiner Bock in New Jersey?

So first a little fun fact about Bloomfield, NJ (or Montclair or Glen Ridge, unless you’re from Jersey, all these seem the same to you): these townships have a limited number of liquor licenses and a growing number of restaurants, ergo many of these establishments are BYOB. So with that said, there I was minding my own business during our pre-dinner liquor store stop-by when I saw something very out of the ordinary for New Jersey:

The proof this is NJ is in their ridiculously high legal tobacco age. That noise would never fly in Texas.

YES! That’s a bottle of Shiner Bock, brewed and bottled in Shiner, Tx. and one of my favorite beers. — I’d love to comment on the FourLoko in the picture… but I was taught if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, so we’ll move on…

If you’re from Texas, you’ll understand the miracle of being able to find such a gem in any northeastern city, let alone a suburb! So you can imagine my extreme jubilance when the kind shop owner directed me to the cooler:


Shut up! By now I am walking around the store like I’ve just entered Narnia and there are many mystical things this place can teach me. I am both thrilled for Shiner and for myself and for Bloomfield, you’re luckier than you know, I hope you take advantage of it!

Right then, I vowed to the owner that I would write this blog on his shop, Gallaghers Wine and Cheese Shop, and encourage everyone in the area to choose his establishment over your many other pre-dinner stop by options, which I am doing now: shop here. The selection is excellent and the service is impeccable. You won’t be disappointed.

I’m only one person with one URL address, but I’ll jump at the chance to use it to promote your business if you’re kind or, in this case, support something I love. POP POP.

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An Urban Garden Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in a cozy apartment on a quiet street in Astoria, there lived a woman. She watched all summer long as the older man living next door to her tended to what appeared to be quite the garden. Without exception, he would leave his house early and tend to his plants. He would garden all morning long and then, in the afternoon, he would sit in the sun surveying his day’s work.

She then watched in the fall as he harvested what she learned were tomatoes from his backyard garden. As she longed for a backyard of her own, she wondered if the man would ever know how enchanted she was by his dedication to those plants.

The whole winter long, she stared out her window waiting for the man to return and by the time he did, she had resolved not to wait for a backyard, but to begin her garden inside.

These are my wittle tomato plants!

Inspired by the man next door, she bought three little tomato plants and an herb garden to start her on her journey.

Chives, oregano, cilantro, parsley, menorah

This spring, she watches the man faithfully tending to his plants as she smothers hers with love. She wonders how he’ll ever know the impact he had on her.

She knows.

As the joy of watching something grow washes over her, she knows, and she is grateful.


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A Passover Seder

This was a very busy weekend for anyone who celebrates either Passover or Easter and an especially busy weekend for people who celebrate both! In my case, we celebrated two Seders and an Easter dinner, all of which were very special. The first of these, a Seder for the first night of Passover, was at the home of my mother and father-in-law-without-nuptiuals, who knowing my love of cooking, were gracious enough to let me help them cook! Mazel Tov to me!

First the veggie stock: onions, carrots, parsnips, water. Let simmer.

Then drop in the matzah balls and let them expand in the liquid.







First we made the matzah ball soup. I got the honor of mixing the matzah balls, which we made whole wheat and I also tended to the stock, which was completely veggie.

Salmon marinated in a balsamic reduction with lemons and herbs.

I got tricked into cutting up the beets... purple hands all night.







The salmon was the only non-veggie item at this seder and it was tender and delicious. These beets were also used to paint the horseradish red. A little tip, by the way, about dealing with fresh horseradish: open a window, open a door, get some goggles and warn the household, cause that stuff is NO JOKE.

Roasted vegetables, salmon, pesto lasagna, homemade horseradish, Mmmm...

This is the cutest seder plate all filled in. So lovely!







The pesto lasagna used matzah as pasta, had mushrooms and was insanely delicious. My favorite part of any meal in this home: the spinach salad with homemade tahini-lemon dressing… Mmmmm…

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend and whatever traditions you observe! L’Chaim!


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Ginger-Infused Black Bean Soup

I was eager to make a soup last weekend both because I hadn’t done it before and also because I wanted to have soup around for the week. Since we had all the necessary elements for quesadillas in the house, I decided a spicy black bean soup would be a nice accompaniment.

I began by sautéing 3 jalapeños with garlic and onions.

Then I added one can of black beans and some ginger.

Don’t care much for ginger? Leave it out! We had some leftover from another dish and I didn’t want to waste it so I threw it in. It adds a different flavor and additional spice, but it’s definitely not necessary.

Next I added 3 cups of vegetable broth, but you can use whatever kind you like.

Then I let it simmer covered for an hour and half, then uncovered for one hour.







You can let it simmer covered for the full 2 1/2-3 hours if you prefer a thiner soup. We wanted a thick, hearty black bean soup so we let it reduce down uncovered, but that’s up to you!

Get butter down in a hot skillet, then add cheese and chicken (or veggies).

Let it brown to your preferred level of crunch, then cut into quarters.







This was a completely ‘leftover’ quesadilla. We had leftover buffalo chicken from a dish earlier in the week and leftover cheese from the Enchilada Casserole. It made for a spicy and delicious quesadilla!

Brush the chips with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and into a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until crisp.

We didn’t have any tortilla chips left but we did have a few leftover corn tortillas, so we continued with the frugal theme of this supper and made our own! Super easy.

Served here with a tasty IPA and guacamole of course! (Click for recipe)

The soup turned out spicy and gingery. My housemate dubbed it “ginger-infused black bean soup,” which I was able to enjoy all week long! Mission accomplished.

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