My dream kitchen…and where I disappeared to for the last 6 months

kitchen 2

Well, it’s been a minute since I have blogged on here!  It’s been a whirlwind few months to say the least!  I have been occupied in the last few months, relocating with J, our cat, and the newest member of our family, Emi, across the country to warm and sunny San Diego.  Between the new pup, packing up our lives, driving 3000 miles, a new job, house hunting and remodeling, I’ve been spent!

Things are coming together nicely here, we are settling into the routine and not only will I be blogging again, we are back to cooking nightly.

Rewind 3 months ago, we closed on an amazing house with a teeny tiny kitchen.  Thankfully others in the neighborhood already did some homework and redesign and we had many many options and ways to fix our dilema.  Enter our trusty contractor Jim, who patiently took my vision and made it a reality!  To say that I love the kitchen is an understatement – I was able to open up the space and create a both fun and functional kitchen.

The kitchen is almost 100% done – I still need to decide on backsplash tile and install that, and finish up the coffee corner, but it has become an awesome part of our new home, and makes cooking even more enjoyable.

kitchen3

Food on,
– shirley

turkey chili

IMG_0049

Hopefully everyone had a relaxing and delicious Thanksgiving!  Now that it’s officially December and the chilly nights are in full swing, chili has made its way back into the weekly dinner rotation.

Our family can thank Shirley for the introduction of chili.  Since then, it has become a favorite meal in the family.  We all love it for many reasons.  It’s easy to make, it tastes delicious, and it makes a huge quantity.  One pound of meat will get you a long way.  This means it gives me plenty of leftovers, which I have used as a pasta sauce, for chili dogs, or even in a chili omelet.  Feel free to try out the recipe with ground meat, but I’ve never had issues with using ground turkey.  It fact, I prefer it!  The sauce keeps it moist, and the spices keep it flavorful.  You really can’t go wrong.  Topped with some freshly grated mozzarella or a dollop of sour cream, it’s the perfect Sunday Night Football meal.

IMG_0046
Turkey Chili
(Serves 6)

½ large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound lean (93%) ground turkey
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground Ancho Chili pepper
Hot sauce, to taste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 large potato, cut into small cubes
1 can red kidney beans
1 can chickpeas

In a large pot at medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the garlic begins to brown.  Add the turkey, and stir it well with the onion and garlic.  Add the garlic powder, black pepper, salt, and Ancho Chili pepper.  Add as little or as much hot sauce as you prefer.

Once all the turkey is cooked, add the tomatoes, potatoes, kidney beans, and chickpeas.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Once boiling, cover the pot, lower the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer for 30-60 minutes.  The more time, the richer the flavors.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkling of cheddar or mozzarella cheese.

- food on,
Sharon

IMG_0048

baked eggplant fries

IMG_0131

After a brief hiatus, I am back with a wonderful and easy recipe for you.  Eggplant fries.

I know what you’re thinking, because I thought the same thing.  French fries are crispy and delicious and cannot be replaced.  But that could not be further from the truth!  These eggplant fries are flavorful, crispy, and delicious.  And the best part?  100% baked.  Yup.  These are a great alternative to french fries.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, eggplant parmigiana is in our regular dinner rotation.  But there’s weeks when we stare at the eggplant in the fridge and we’re just not feeling a big filling meal.  Since there’s no fancy ingredients required, we can easily switch up the plan and have these fries instead for a light meal.  Served as a snack while you watch a football game, or as a side with dinner, this is a recipe you will not regret saving!

IMG_0128

Eggplant Fries
(Serves 3-4 as a side)

1 eggplant, cut into 3-4″ long matchsticks
1 1/4 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 F.  In a single layer, lay the eggplant sticks on a baking sheet that is lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and let stand for 10-15 minutes.  Pat the sticks dry with the paper towels.  This will help make the eggplant crisp up more when baking.

In a shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, salt, and garlic power.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs.

Working a few sticks at a time, dip them into the egg, then to the breadcrumb mixture, and onto the baking sheet.  Be sure that the egg, and then the breadcrumbs, coat the sticks thoroughly.  Once all the eggplant sticks are in a single layer on the baking sheet, bake for 25 minutes, flipping each one halfway through.  Feel free to brush the sticks with a bit of oil prior to baking to make them extra crispy.

- food on,
Sharon

IMG_0130

coffee chicken

IMG_0201
As a child, when your mom tells you that she’s going to make coffee chicken for dinner, your initial reaction is, “Ew, Mom.”  And for most adults, coffee is coffee.  You don’t really mix it into savory foods very often.  But as I grew up, I came to realize that this is an absolutely unique and delicious dish.  This recipe has been in our family for many generations, and continues to get passed down.  Most people are reluctant, until they smell the chicken cooking in the coffee mixture.  The chicken cooks in a mixture made up of freshly roasted coffee, ketchup, soy sauce, and more.  The result is a juicy and flavorful piece of chicken.  One bowl, one mixture, one hour.  Couldn’t get easier than that.  Serve it with rice pilaf and broccoli, and you’ve got yourself a meal that will not disappoint!

Coffee Chicken
(Serves 6)

1 whole chicken, cut to small to medium pieces
¾ cup brewed coffee
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the chicken.  Mix well.

Spread the chicken pieces onto the bottom of a large pot.  Pour the sauce over the chicken.  Bring to a boil.  Leaving the pot uncovered, reduce the heat to low and let cook for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and tender, and the sauce has reduced to a semi-viscous sauce.  Be sure to stir occasionally.

- food on,
Sharon

IMG_0205

roasted garlic cauliflower

IMG_0553
I think the wintry temperatures have officially hit south jersey.  The nights have been filled with hot showers, cuddling, blankets, reading, hot tea, and lana del rey playing throughout the house.  The short days don’t do much to help my motivation.  As a result, we’ve been relying on quick, simple, and filling dishes to get us through these first few weeks.  When 50 degrees feels like the coldest thing ever.  I know that sounds ridiculous.  Sharon from 3 months from now is currently laughing out loud at present Sharon.

I made this side dish last week on one of those cold nights.  It’s a easy and healthy dish.  Cauliflower has very high amounts of both vitamin c and vitamin k, and garlic is rich in antioxidants, so your taste buds AND body will be happy.  Win-Win.

So cuddle up with your loved ones on these chilly nights, and eat these cauliflower nuggets like you’re an extra on those hidden valley commercials.

IMG_0391
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower
(Serves 3-4)

1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into small florets
1/3 cup olive oil
4 heads of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Ensure that all the florets are evenly coated.

On a sheet pan, spread the florets evenly through the pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, flip the florets, and bake for 15 minutes more.  Serve warm.

- food on,
Sharon

IMG_0557

biscoff chocolate chunk cookie cups

IMG_0613
I’ve heard about biscoff spread for a long time now.  I’d always loved biscoff cookies (you know, those gingersnap-type cookies that they serve on Delta flights), but I never saw the need to purchase the spread.  Then, last week, I got a coupon for a jar of biscoff spread. I guess after drooling over so many biscoff recipes on the internet, it was just the kick in the butt that I needed to get a jar and try something out.

As soon as I got home, I couldn’t wait to open the jar and give it a taste.  Wow.  Pure deliciousness.  It’s like they took those delicious cookies, pureed them up, and somehow made it into a peanut-buttery-like creamy texture.  If I didn’t know I had to use the spread for this recipe, I may have just eaten the whole jar with a spoon.

Whether it’s for this recipe, another recipe you’ve seen on other blogs, or just to try it out with a spoon and your mouth [no judgement], I highly suggest you pick up a jar of your own to try.  Because I’m not sharing.

Biscoff Chocolate Chunk Cookie Cups
(Makes about 12 cupcake cookie cups)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup creamy biscoff spread
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bittersweet baking chocolate, broken into small chunks
vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a cupcake pan with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, vanilla extract, and biscoff spread.

In another bowl,  mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a few batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Fill each cupcake liner about 1/2 – 3/4 full with the batter.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookie cups are cooked on the edges but a little soft still on the inside.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

- bake on,
Sharon

IMG_0615

baked & breaded tilapia

IMG_0582
I can’t say enough great things about this meal.  This is the quickest filling dish that I have ever cooked.  K and I walked in the apartment this evening, and from the time it took to take these filets out of the shopping bag and onto our plates, just 10 minutes had passed.  And that was with a side of roasted asparagus.  Can you imagine?!

Another great thing about this meal is that it is very versatile.  I tend to favor tilapia because I like the taste and I think the portion size is ideal.  However, I’ve made this [successfully] with scrod and cod as well.  I use Italian-style bread crumbs with the fish, because, well, it’s an easy fix for when I’m lazy.  But I do think it’s the perfect seasoning for this gentle fish.  However, you can definitely use unseasoned bread crumbs and season the fish with salt and pepper however you wish.

Season with bread crumbs.  Add butter.  Pop into the oven for 7 MINUTES.  Dinner is served!

Baked & Breaded Tilapia
(Serves 2-3)

4-5 filets of tilapia, about 1 pound
about 1 cup italian-style bread crumbs
1/4 cup salted butter, diced into small pieces

Preheat oven to 360 F.  Line a baking dish with aluminum foil.

Arrange the filets flat on the baking dish, side by side.  Add a thin layer of bread crumbs evenly on top of all the filets.  Then add the small pieces of butter over the bread crumbs, evenly spacing the butter throughout each filet.

Bake in the oven for 7 minutes and serve immediately.

- food on,
Sharon

IMG_0590