Category Archives: simple

Everyday Roasted Veggies

There isn’t an easier way to make vegetables!

Since there are only two of us at home to feed, I don’t often use an entire bunch of asparagus or celery, or even an entire broccoli, so I often find myself with just a little of this and a little of that.  Since I’m very fond of simply roasting vegetables, I’ll cut them up into even pieces and toss them with some seasonings and olive oil.  Here’s today’s veggie:
½  lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3-inch spheres

1 medium yellow squash, washed and cut into 3-inch strips

1 medium red pepper, seeded, and cut into 3-inch strips

5 cloves garlic, minced  (we really go whole hog on the garlic, use less if you’re going to be among non-garlic eaters.)

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (or canola oil, or any oil you prefer)

salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp minced lemon rind

lemon juice (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine vegetables and garlic in a small roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat evenly.

Sprinkle on salt. pepper and lemon rind.

Sprinkle on lemon rind.

Drizzle olive oil over it all and stir to coat.

Roast in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes (or less depending on the thickness of your vegetables), until lightly browned and tender.

Drizzle with lemon juice before serving.

Serves 3.

Chicken Monte Cristo Sandwich

This image was created by the user Hinchu aka ...

After a day of cleaning and decluttering, I wanted to make something simple for dinner.  Pulling out some boneless chicken breasts I first thought maybe I’d do chicken and waffles.  And then my eyes landed on the white bread and I thought…not waffles…french toast!  Thus was born my chicken Monte Cristo.

1 lb boneless chicken breasts, sliced thin

8 slices potato bread (or any kind you prefer)

4 slices swiss cheese

3 large eggs, whisked

2 TBS butter

3 TBS flour

canola oil

1/4 cup water

Melt the butter in a skillet on medium high heat.

Dust chicken with the flour and then add to the skillet, and let brown on each side.  Remove from pan.

Dip bread into eggs and doing just a few slices at a time, brown in the same pan with just a bit of oil added.  When all the bread is fried, it’s time to assemble it.

Place the chicken on four of the the bread slices, and top with the swiss cheese [omitting the top slice of bread].  Without crowding the pan, and moving quickly, place the open-faced sandwiches on the hot pan, add a bit of water and quickly cover the pan.  This will melt the cheese quickly.  Repeat with remaining sandwiches.  When you remove them from the pan, quickly place the top slice of french toast on each sandwich, pressing lightly.  The gooey deliciousness of the cheese will adhere the bread to the sandwich.

Delicious on it’s own, but feel free to serve with maple syrup or even strawberry preserves like the original Monte Cristo.

Recipe Testing: Roasted Brussel Sprouts

We love brussel sprouts in our family (really!) and often roast them with olive oil and garlic.  The brussel sprouts from Steamy Kitchen have a secret ingredient.  But shhh…I can’t tell.

So easy to make!

Oh so good…Chicken Liver Pate

We’re invited to a dinner party tonight.  I just made this Chicken Liver Mousse from the Cooking Channel’s special Chuckmas show with Chef Chuck Hughes.  While there are quite a few steps and separate preparations to make this dish (although not as many as it takes to make a Beef Wellington old style), it’s not very difficult…and oh so delicious served with crackers or rye bread.  (Call ahead to your supermarket or butcher to see if they have chicken livers in stock, I didn’t and wound up driving to three stores until I found one that had them in!)

Chicken Liver Pate

Recipe courtesy Chuck Hughes

Total Time:  2 hr 45 min
Yield:  4 cups (1 l)
  • 4 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml olive oil, plus more if needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds/675 g chicken livers, trimmed
  • 2 small carrots, cooked
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Bread, toast or crackers, for serving

In a skillet over medium heat, saute the onions in half of the olive oil until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove half of the onions from the skillet and set aside. Add the remaining olive oil and continue cooking over high heat until the onions are crispy and golden brown; add more olive oil if necessary. Drain on paper towels, season with salt and pepper and set aside for garnish.

In a small pot of salted simmering water, poach the chicken livers for 5 minutes on low heat. Drain on paper towels.

In a food processor, puree the livers with the carrots, 2 hard-boiled eggs and the caramelized onions until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add nutmeg. Push through a fine mesh sieve if desired.

Pack the mousse into a serving dish and smooth the top. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Garnish with the crispy onions and grate the remaining 2 hard-boiled eggs right before serving. Serve with bread, toasts or crackers.

© 2011 Cooking Channel, LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Chicken Breasts in Mustard Sauce

Shallot bulbs

Image via Wikipedia

There are times when I go all out for dinner.  Spending hours chopping in order to make complicated recipes with multiple steps.  There’s something quite satisfying about that.  But there are times when I want to make something yummy, but without all the fuss and muss of the culinarily complex.

I don’t recall where I first had chicken in mustard sauce, but I know it was love at first bite.  Over the years I’ve served this to my family and to guests, in the early years making it with heavy cream and lately with the lighter sour cream.  Either way the taste is delicious and best of all, it’s quick and easy to make!

Chicken Breasts with Dijon Mustard Sauce

* 1 tablespoon butter or butter substitute

* 1 tablespoon olive oil

* 2 large shallots, sliced

* 6 boneless chicken breast cutlets

* 1 cup light sour cream

* 1/3 cup 2 % milk

* 3-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

* 3 or 4 scallions, chopped, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup


In heavy skillet over medium high heat, melt butter with olive oil until it begins to sizzle; add shallots and cook until softened, stirring.

Add chicken and cook, turning once, for about 15 minutes or until chicken is browned and fork tender. Remove chicken and shallots from skillet; set aside.

In the same skillet add sour cream, milk, and Dijon mustard. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth and heated through. Serve sauce over chicken; sprinkle with scallions.  Serve with rice or wheat pilaf and a green veggie.

Serves 6.

Coca Cola Brisket

This week marks the start of the Jewish New Year — Rosh Hashanah, and with it another year of making food for festive family meals, a task I always look forward to with great relish (but not so much the cleaning part…oh how I wish the house cleaned itself.)  I always make enough food for double the amount of people I invite, but the leftovers make the rest of the week a breeze at dinner.

My daughter’s favorite holiday dish is Coca Cola Brisket, not at all what our ancestors made in the old country, but Google it and you’ll find dozens of versions since this is a very popular dish. It’s sweet and savory.  Many of the dishes for the Jewish New Year are sweet, as part of the tradition to eat sweet food in hopes of a sweet New Year.  Often, a sweet carrot dish called Tsimmes is prepared, but we’ll be skipping that dish this year.  Apples dipped in honey, Challah (a sweet egg bread with or without raisins) dipped in honey, honey cakes and fruits new for the season.  Growing up, we often had pomegranate seeds.

For every holiday or dinner party, I make a mix of traditional favorites and new recipes.  Along with the brisket, we’ll also be having Hungarian Chicken Paprikash (not at all traditional) with dumplings (called Nockerl), and a potato kugel.  For starters we’ll have chicken soup with matzo balls, creamed mushroom stuffed phyllo shells, artichoke tarts, and a sweet salad with mandarin oranges and candied almonds.  I’m going to try to duplicate Boston Market’s sauteed apples as well.  (I said I always make enough food for an army and I meant it!)

This is a dish that tastes just as good reheated, so make plenty of leftovers.

Here’s my version.  Serves 6-8

Preheat over to 350 F.

4-5 lb. brisket
1 packet dried onion soup mix
1 can jellied cranberry sauce , sliced
1-1/2 cups ketchup
half liter coca cola
12 oz cut up carrots (or baby carrots)
2 lbs. small red potatoes (cut into chunks if using larger potatoes.)

Place brisket fat side up in a roasting pan.  Sprinkle with onion soup mix.

Cover with sliced cranberry sauce, and pour first the ketchup over it, and then the cola.  Cola should reach halfway up the pan, add more if needed.

Cover with lid or two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil and roast for two hours.

Remove from oven, and add carrots and potatoes.  Turn up oven temperature to 400 F.  Return to oven for another 90 minutes.

Check to see if meat is tender, if not, roast another hour.

Remove from oven and slice brisket. Cover with sauce.  I generally put vegetables in a separate container.

Store in refrigerator overnight so you can skim off the fat.

Today I made cheese…

Today I made cheese for the very first time.

The urge to make cheese came out of a conversation with my mom.  She was remembering the farmer’s cheese she used to buy, small bricks wrapped in paper.  It rang a bell, but I know I’ve not seen it in recent years, so I turned to the web to find out how to make it. Sure enough, there were dozens of recipes for farmers cheese using just two ingredients: Whole milk (not ultrapasteurized) and distilled vinegar.

It can’t be simpler:

1/2 gallon whole milk

1/4 cup distilled vinegar

Line a sieve with fine cheesecloth (some recipes say to wet the cheesecloth first…I did) and place over a large bowl.

Bring the whole milk to a slow boil (just bubbling around the edges) and then add the vinegar, stirring.  It will begin to curdle immediately. Continue stirring for 2 minutes and remove from heat.

Pour into the cheesecloth.  (I jiggled it a bit to speed up the process of the whey dripping into the bowl)

Some recipes said to refrigerate immediately, while other say let sit an hour.  I compromised and let it sit for a half hour.  The resulting farmer’s cheese was perfect.

And then there was all that whey liquid in the bowl.  I knew there had to be a use for it, so back to the internet I went and found a recipe for making Norwegian cheese.  Essentially you slowly simmer the whey (to which I added 1/4 heavy cream) until it’s reduced down, caramel in color, and the texture of fudge.  This took about two and a half hours, with me stirring about every 30 minutes.  When it reaches that stage, it said to whisk, but I stirred briskly with a wooden spoon and the resulting cheese with gorgeous, caramel color with a sweet and salty taste.  I scraped it into an oil lined plastic tub as it immediately began to harden.

I can’t wait to spread it on crackers!

Marcella Hazan’s simple tomato sauce

I’ve been meaning to give Marcella Hazan’s simple tomato sauce for eons now (how long is an eon actually?)  I know I should use fresh tomatoes, especially since I live in New Jersey, but I just have Trader Joe’s brown tomatoes here, and I’m planning on using those in a Caprese salad.  Not to mention I have several cans of San Marzano tomatoes sitting here, just waiting to be used.

Here it is, from Marcella Hazan’s  Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (my second favorite cookbook, my first being The Silver Spoon by Phaidon Press.)


2 cups canned imported Italian tomatoes, cup up (include juice) I use San Marzano; or if you’re feeling the need to not cut corners, 2 pounds of fresh ripe tomatoes, skinned **

5 TBS butter

1 medium onion, peeled and halved

Salt (to taste)

Now cook:

  1. Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato.
  2. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing with pasta. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano cheese for the table.

Serve over your favorite pasta.

**  (You can either blanch them by plunging into boiling water for 45 seconds…cool before skinning—or you can put them in the freezer until hard, thaw and then skin.)