It’s a staple in most homes for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. Throw any kind of sauce, roasted veggies, or even just a pat of butter and some parm and you’ve got a meal. It’s always on hand, easy to make and everyone loves a hearty plate of pasta. But, do you know how to properly cook pasta?
- Large Pot – Large enough for the pasta to move around freely in.
- Boiling water – Add a lid to the pot to make the water boil faster.
- Salt – Only add salt to the water once it is boiling. If salt is added prior to boiling it will leave marks on the bottom of a stainless steel pan. Use enough salt so the water tastes like the sea. This is the only chance to bring the flavor into the pasta. Most of the salt will be drained out with the water.
- Pasta – Add it to the salted boiling water. Submerge it right away and the move the pasta around so there are no clumps of pasta sticking together. Stir pasta every few minutes.
- Cooking water – Reserve about a 1/4 of a cup of cooking water to add to whatever sauce you are using with your pasta.
- Al Dente – Which means “to the tooth”. Cook your pasta 2 minutes less than it say on the package instructions. Then taste the pasta, it should have a little hardness to it (it is not soft). The pasta will continue to cook in the sauce.
- Drain – DO NOT rinse your pasta! Rinsing the pasta will remove the starch on the pasta which when mixed with the sauce will create that silkiness you get with restaurant made pasta.
- Sauce – Immediately add enough sauce to coat your pasta and add the remaining cooking water. This will prevent the pasta from sticking together.
- This is how you properly cook pasta!
These are some of my favorite pasta meals:
Until Next Time…
Have you ever had a Swig Cookie or one of their delicious (not your average soda) Soda’s?
Chances are if you live or traveled through Utah or are close to Gilbert, Arizona you have! If not, you’re definitely missing out because they are the best sugar cookie, ever!
Swig got its start in 2010 in St. George, Utah when Nicole Tanner and her husband decided to open a drive-by drink shop. Since that very first shop they have opened 16 more Swig drive-by’s (wish they would open one in Southern California).
You may be saying to yourself at this point, so what, it’s just cookies and drinks.
Their cookies are incredible! And even though it’s been a hot second since I’ve had one. I still can’t stop thinking about that delicious soft buttery sweet, but not too sweet, pink frosted topped sugar cookie. The very first time I went to Swig I got a dozen cookies and finish them by the time I drove to the California border from St. George! Not a crumb was left and there was only 3 of us in the car.
We each also got one of their signature soda’s for the drive home. The drinks are all quite unique and have a combination of ingredients that I never imagined would be put together in one beverage. Kinda strange, but weirdly delicious!
These are the 3 drinks we ordered, but you must check out their menu to see all the crazy drink combinations.
The Heartbreaker – Dr. Pepper + Blackberry + Coconut + Half & Half
Riptide – Sprite + Cranberry + Raspberry Puree + Fresh Lime
Life’s A Peach – Dr. Pepper + Peach + Vanilla + Half & Half
My favorite was the Riptide.
SO… If you can get to Utah, run, don’t walk to your nearest Swig. You’ll be glad you did!
To check out their locations and the other goodies they have on their menu:
**I was not sponsored nor do I have any affiliation to Swig or their employees. I just love their cookies and drinks!
Until Next Time
Fall is here! Daylight hours are getting shorter and the evening air is crisper. The sunsets, the incredible sunsets this time of year! Get those chunky cable knit sweaters out of hiding because Fall is upon us! Brittle brown leaves falling from the trees that crunch when stepped on. These are just of few of my favorite things.
I find myself grabbing a hot cup of coffee and sitting by the fire reading my cookbooks like they are novels. Do you ever do that? I get my brightly colored post it’s out and mark all the fall recipes that I intend to make for my family. I probably actually make about 50%.
So, if you are looking for your own fall recipes to cook for family and friends, look no further. Here is a list of a few of my favorites and some I’m looking forward to making.
Spicy Posole With Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins ~ Pinch Of Yum
Easy Pumpkin Crumb Muffins ~ The Cafe Sucre Farine
Lentil Soup ~ Its all About The Yummy
Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza ~ Martha Stewart
Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding ~ Its All About the Yummy
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Chili ~ Slow Cooker Gourmet
Cream Cheese Filled Pumpkin bread ~ Dear Crissy
Sheet pan Gnocchi with Butternut Squash & Crispy Kale ~ Whitney Bond
Apple Cinnamon Streusel Cake ~ Its All About The Yummy
Until Next Time…
Pork Chops and Apple Sauce, not quite, but I do love saying that alla “Peter Brady”
There is something to be said about the delicious combination of pork and apples. Especially when using thick cut boneless pork chops, apples, Gouda cheese, and bacon. Yes, I said bacon!
I like this meal because it’s fancy enough to serve to guests, yet easy enough for a week night meal.
- 4 pork boneless chops (thick enough to cut a pocket through the side of each chop)
- 1 small onion, chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 thin slices of Gouda cheese
- 3 slices of bacon
- 1 apple peeled, cored, and chopped into small dice (any firm apple will do)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme + a few sprigs to garnish
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Prepare pork chops by cutting a pocket into the side of each chop.
- Season each pork chop with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Chop bacon in to small square pieces and fry in a oven proof skillet until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside in a medium size bowl. Add Thyme into the bacon.
- Remove all but 1 tablespoon of grease from the skillet.
- In the bacon skillet, add onion and chopped apples pieces and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute or two.
- Once apple mixture is cooked add it to the bowl of bacon and stir to combine.
- Place a slice of cheese into each pork chop.
- Spoon a couple of spoonfuls of the apple bacon mixture into each pork chop.
- Place filled pork chops into the skillet and place in the pre-heated oven for 35 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 150 degrees.
- Garnish with remaining sprigs of Thyme.
My favorite way to reheat this meal is to cut up the pork chops and stuffing into bite size pieces. Place a skillet on the stove over high heat. Once the skillet is hot add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add the cut up pork chops. Let the pork chops sit and caramelize before you move them about the pan to heat up. The stuffing gets crispy and it is a delight! I almost like it as much as I do the original meal.
Does your family enjoy stuffed pork chops?
Until Next Time…
If you read my post last Tuesday then you know I am totally obsessed with the Jenn’s Chicken Sandwich I got at Wahlburgers. It was so delicious, the very next day I had it at the restaurant I decided to recreated it at home.
And if I do say so myself, it came out pretty darn good!
The hardest part of making Jenn’s chicken sandwich is the honey-garlic mayo. Do you want to know why it’s so hard? You have to wait 45 minutes for the garlic to roast in the oven!!! That’s it!
The good news? Once it’s made you can use it on all sorts of things, besides having it on the sandwich it was really delicious to dip your fries into! YUM!
TIP: Do you want to know a secret about making delicious oven baked frozen fries? Put about a teaspoon of olive oil down on the baking sheet and toss the fries so they are all coated. When you bake them they will get that crispy exterior and soft interior.
Here is my recipe for the caramelized onions you will need for the chicken sandwich. Cook them at the same time you are making the Honey-Garlic Mayo.
- 2 uncooked chicken breasts
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Caramelized onions
- 2.8 oz can French fried onions
- ½ cup baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
- 2 heads of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 4 potato hamburger buns
- Place chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound until they are ¼ inch thick. Cut each chicken breast in half to fit on a bun.
- Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in an oven safe skillet. Cook chicken for 3 minutes over medium heat, turning once. Place skillet in the oven for an additional 6 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (or it is no longer pink inside).
- **FOR THE HONEY GARLIC MAYO
- Slice the top of the garlic so the cloves are exposed. Place garlic on a piece of foil. Drizzle garlic with the honey. Wrap garlic tightly in the foil and place in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Let cool until safe to handle.
- In a medium bowl squeeze all of the cooked garlic, then add the mayo, and honey. Stir to combine breaking up the large garlic pieces. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- **TO ASSEMBLE
- Spread a good amount of the honey garlic mayonnaise on both interior sides of the bun.
- On the bottom bun add spinach leaves topped with 1 of the chicken cutlets, caramelized onions, and crispy french onions.
- Put the top on and enjoy!
What is your favorite menu item you recreate at home?
Until Next Time…
I was driving down Sunset Blvd. with some friends on a sunny afternoon looking for a restaurant to go grab an early lunch. There is definitely not a lack of restaurants or types of cuisine along that strip in West Hollywood, but nothing we passed sounded good. Until I came upon the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Sunset Plaza Drive.
That was it we had found our lunch spot!
We arrived just as they were opening so we had the restaurant to ourselves for a few minutes. It’s really cute inside. It felt very comfortable to be there.
I thought it was adorable that they have Paul, Donnie and Mark’s favorite burgers/sandwich on the wall.
The bar area is cozy and the bright green chairs let you know exactly where the bar is located!
What we ordered:
- The Our Burger
- The Melt (on a bun)
- Jenn’s Chicken Sandwich
- Yukon Gold Fries (our only disappointment they just don’t give enough for the price)
- Vanilla Milkshake (they even make boozy milkshakes)
** Love the sauces:
The signature wall sauce was great to dip our fries in. The mustard sauce on the The Melt was delicious and my favorite the honey-garlic mayo (and I don’t even like mayo)
Everything was something I would order again. Especially the house made pickles.
I ordered Jenn’s chicken sandwich upon the encouragement of our waiter, Joe. I was choosing between Jenn’s and the Thanksgiving Day Sandwich. Both sounded yummy, but when our waiter Joe said take the chicken, I did! It was DELICIOUS! So happy I listened. It is a seared chicken breast topped with both caramelized onions and crispy fried onions. Then, they add their housemade honey-garlic mayo (YUM) and greens! I’m craving it right now just thinking about it!
** It was so delicious I re-created it the very next day at home. Check back here on Thursday for my recipe.
8615 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, California 90069
*parking is free, which is pretty cool for a L.A. area restaurant.
Until Next Time…
It’s avacado season here in Southern California!
And I’m taking advantage of it and making it my mission to eat as many avocados as I can.
I’ve decided to combine my favorite snack, hummus with my favorite fruit (more specifically a berry), avocado! It is truly a match made in heaven. The creaminess of the 2 blended together make the perfect good for you snack.
Avocados are very interesting. Did you know they have more potassuim in them than a banana? They are also one of the few high protein fruits. And last but not least, you can swap avocados for butter in your baked goods recipes.
Back to the avocado hummus…It also makes the perfect party dip. Serve it with veggies or my personal favorite warm pita chips.
No need to buy pre-cut, overly salted pita chips.
They are so easy to make, here’s how:
- Pita bread, sliced into 8 wedges
- Brush wedges front and back with oilve oil
- Place wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet
- Sprinkle with salt, as much or as little as you want
- Place into a preheated 400 degree oven until golden brown about 12 – 15 minutes
Easy peasy you’ve got warm pita chips!
Now for the star of the season….
- 15 oz can chick peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed, well drained and all skins removed
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil + more to garnish
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- Water - if needed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium size ripe avocados, cored and peeled
- In a food processor combine chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and avocados. Process until completely smooth.
- If needed, add 2 teaspoons of water at a time to make the mixture the consistency you like.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, add more lemon, salt, or pepper if needed
- Add a drizzle of olive oil and cilantro to garnish.
- *Serve with pita chips, vegetables, or crackers
What is your favorite go to healthy snack?
Until Next Time…
Nothings says I love you like a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries!
They’re decadent, luscious, and they are the perfect sweet treat. I love everything about them. Biting through the delicious chocolate to get to that delightful sweet strawberry inside. They make an excellent gift for anyone who loves chocolate and nothing is better than a homemade gift to show someone you care.
I recently took a cooking class to learn how to properly dip strawberries.
Here is what they taught me…
If you follow these very simple steps it is a cinch to make chocolate dipped strawberries look like you bought them from an expensive chocolatier.
- Wash your strawberries in the morning on the day you are going to dip your strawberries. Make sure they are completely dry. This makes a huge difference with how the chocolate adheres.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Melt chocolate chips (or candy coating) in the microwave or over a double boiler, following package instructions.
- Pour the melted chocolate into a container that is deeper than it is wide.
- Grab one strawberry by the stem and dip it into the chocolate. Do not completely cover to strawberry with chocolate up to the stem. It looks professional when about 1/4 inch of the strawberry is showing. Place the strawberry onto the parchment paper and let dry on the counter.
For the drizzle
*This can be the same color chocolate or for a contrast use the opposite color.
- Using a sandwich bag place a small amount (it dries fast in the bag and you will waste the chocolate if you use a large amount) of the melted chocolate into the bag.
- Cut a small amount off of the tip of the sandwich bag.
- Drizzle the chocolate in any design you like over the hardened chocolate dipped strawberry.
Crushed cookie pieces
Mini chocolate chips
Crushed candy bars
How to store your chocolate dipped strawberries:
Chocolate dipped strawberries should be gifted and/or eaten the day they are made. Although you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a day they will not have the same luster and freshness and may have condensation. Line the container with a paper towel to help wick away any of the moisture from the strawberries.
These are the chocolate dipped strawberries I made at home.
Have you ever made chocolate dipped strawberries?
Until next Time…
Something that people don’t really know about me is that I don’t like mayonnaise! I actually detest it! But surprisingly enough, I LOVE it in this confetti macaroni salad!
My dislike of mayonnaise was so bad as a child that my mom would recreate recipes for me if the recipe needed mayo just to make sure that I would eat. Like macaroni salad, she would make me a separate dish of pasta salad. I’m so grateful to my Mom, because I know most of my friends growing up had to just eat what their parents gave them. If they didn’t like it, they didn’t eat.
As I’ve gotten older, my detest for mayonnaise is just a dislike, I still don’t like it as a spread.
A few years back I was making this confetti macaroni salad for a summer BBQ and I decided to use half mayo and half plain yogurt in this recipe and it was delicious, so from that point on it has become my go-to confetti macaroni salad.
- 16oz ditalini pasta
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt (for pasta water)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 stalkes celery, finely diced
- 1 small red onion, finely diced
- 1 orange bell pepper, seeds and veins removed. Finely diced
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, small chunks
- Cook pasta according to the package directions. As soon as the water starts to boil prior to adding the pasta add salt. Once pasta is cooked drained and set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, mustard, sugar, and salt. Set aside.
- Once pasta is completely drained and completely cooled pour pasta into a large bowl. Slowly pour the dressing mixture over pasta to help separate the pasta. Add as much of the dressing as you see fit.
- Now add in the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
- Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
As you can see I don’t like to over dress my macaroni salad.
This confetti macaroni salad would taste delicious with these Lemon Honey Chicken Drumsticks for the perfect summer meal.