Chicken Piccata Meatballs

First of all, I love chicken. I know, I know. A lot of people think chicken is boring, and that can be true. But fried or roasted, smothered or skewered, I really love chicken. And if a classic roasted chicken with lemon is good enough for Ina and Jeffrey, who are we to judge? Seriously. Adding the refreshing, acidic punch of lemon to my beloved chicken dinner? I swoon. No really, I’m actually in danger of swooning just thinking about it right now.

I don’t even know where my love of lemon chicken originated. I mean, as I’m sitting here writing this, I pause, wracking my brain, and I cannot think of when was the first time I had any type of lemon chicken. It certainly didn’t come from the Korean side of my family. And if my grandma Olga Mae did anything with lemons, it was probably in the form of a dessert (helloooo lemon pound cake). I can only guess it must have been at some Italian-American Banquet Hall function in New Jersey, when I first met my husband’s family. Silver rows of massive chafing dishes filled to the brim with steaming stacks of Chicken Française (Fran-cay-see in New Jersey speak) or Chicken Piccata. Can you picture it? The velvet-lined walls, for whatever reason? Classic Jersey Italian stuff. Wherever it was that my tastebuds first met lemon chicken, it quickly became a love everlasting. Swoon with me. Ahh. Over the years I have played around with various lemon chicken recipes, and I make a pretty great Chicken Piccata, but lately I’ve been seeing people turning a lot of things that aren’t meatballs into meatballs and I thought “Why not?” So, let’s make some lemon chicken meatballs! (Read more…)

Seared Salmon in Lemon Dill Cream Sauce

I don’t recall eating a lot of fish in my childhood.  I know I had fried catfish when I visited Grandma Olga Mae in Mississippi.  I remember my brother and I lying that we caught some rainbow trout in Yellowstone (we paid a guy five bucks for his) and our mom cooking it.  I also recall my mom catching a bucket full of sun perch in Canyon Lake, Texas when I was a kid, but I think I was too traumatized by her killing them by hitting their heads on a rock to remember  if I ate any.  So yeah, other than whatever fish they use in the Fish and Chips at Long John Silvers, I really don’t remember a lot of fish in my life.

And then I moved to Oregon and ate salmon.  Oh my, The Salmon.  My gateway fish.  The fish that opened the the flood gates for fish to enter my life.  And still my absolute favorite fish to cook and eat.  This recipe is kind of an homage to the Parmesan Baked Salmon  my oldest daughter loved from The Mesquitery in Hood River, Oregon.  It’s lightened up with lemon juice and fresh herbs, but I think she’ll like it.  I think you will too! (Read more…)

Mediterranean Grilled Shrimp

America.  We love our shrimp.  I read a statistic once that said the average American eats over 4 pounds of shrimp per year.  Per person.  Amateurs 🙄.  But I get it, shrimp has a lot of things going for it.  It’s a relatively inexpensive seafood that has a kind of luxury reputation.  It’s also high in iodine and protein, and has a ton of those fancy omega-3 fatty acids everyone is talking about, so it’s a bit of a nutritional show off!  From a culinary standpoint, shrimp has a great sweet flavor, is available year round and is easy to prepare.  It can be served hot or cold, poached, baked, fried, grilled… the choices are endless.  As Cady Heron said in Mean Girls, “The limit does not exist.” (Read more…)

Individual Tomato Tarts

I thought I hated tomatoes (I’m not crazy about red sauces either, except my mom’s spaghetti sauce and my own marinara 😋).  I’m not alone.  In fact, I hear variations of “I hate tomatoes” from a lot of people.  I think the actual problem is most people haven’t eaten fresh tomatoes.  The ones we get from the Mega Market don’t count.  Those are unripened tomatoes, shipped from who knows where, that are then force ripened using SCIENCE 👩🏻‍🔬🧪!   But I live in New Jersey!  Don’t laugh.  It’s called The Garden State for a reason and we are famous for our… wait for it… TOMATOES 🍅  At first I was skeptical.  I was as afraid of eating tomatoes someone had grown as I was to eat fish caught in the Hudson River.  But the difference between Mega Market tomatoes and home grown or farm fresh tomatoes is unbelievable.  Game changer.  And I use them with amazing results in these Individual Tomato Tarts.  But I’m still not eating Hudson River fish (Read more…)

Mexican Caesar Salad

Mexican Caesar Salad 2

When my kids were little and we were living in San Diego, one of our favorite places to eat was El Torito.  I know, I know, we’re in San Diego, home to the best Mexican food in the world, why would we go to a chain restaurant?  This Mexican Caesar Salad (and their sweet corn cakes, but I’m still breaking the code on those)!  Even my then 3 year old daughter could finish off almost an entire bowl of this fantastic salad by herself!  Well, when we moved to New Jersey, El Torito was no longer an option, so I had to break it down for myself.  What results is, if memory serves, an incredible rendition of the best salad I ever ate!  (Read more…)

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Ranch Dressing is a classic.  There is even an actual Hidden Valley Ranch, where it was originally developed.  I’ve tried ranch dressing over the years.  It was fine, though kind of plastic tasting to me.  But Ranch Dressing was never something my Korean mom kept in the house.  As a matter of fact, I can’t remember my mom having very many American style condiments in our refrigerator.  We had soy sauce, and gochujang, and things soaking in solutions of soy sauce and gochujang.  I even remember fried Spam sandwiches on white bread with mayo that must have been stored somewhere.  But Ranch?  Nope.  So I never developed that All-American love of ranch dressing.  And neither did my kids.  Because I raised them like my mom raised me.  So, if I was going to serve Ranch Dressing, it wasn’t going to come out of, and taste like, a plastic bottle.  I was going to make it myself.  (Read more…)

Skirt Steak with Italian Chimichurri and Tomato Salad

Where do my recipe ideas come from?  Sometimes I’m inspired by reading cookbooks and magazines, or watching food shows on Netflix or Food Network.  Sometimes I wake up having dreamt something delicious.  And sometimes inspiration strikes when one of my daughters comes for a visit and bombards me with all the foods she wants to eat! We had just eaten a fantastic tomato salad with fresh ricotta on semolina toast and had some leftovers.  The next day, I asked my daughter what she wanted to have with the leftover toast and tomatoes, and she suggested steak with chimichurri and I thought “maybe I can make it Italian!” I looked on the Interwebs, but couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I created my own!

Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinian condiment made with parsley, vinegar, and garlic. It is usually served with beef, and is a staple on most family dinner tables in South America.  I wanted something with that fresh brightness, but with Italian flavors to compliment a tender grilled steak and the vibrant tomatoes.  Utilizing Italian herbs, and Calabrian chilis, this is a new take on a classic (Read More…)

Italian Pot Roast with Polenta

Italian Pot Roast with Polenta

One of the first meals I remember The Boy’s mother cooking for me was Braciole.  And yes, I capitalized the word Braciole on purpose.  He speaks of the dish with an almost religious reverance, so it seems fitting.   It’s essentially thin slices of beef, rolled around herbs and cheese,  tied up with string or skewered with a toothpick,  quickly seared, and then slowly simmered in “gravy” (Jersey Italian for red sauce).  My now Mother-In-Law hasn’t made that dish in years, but even so, I don’t think I’ll ever try to make it for The Boy.  A girl just doesn’t put her food up for comparison with the one dish he most remembers his mother making.  But this Italian pot roast is as close as I’ll ever come to the Legend of the Braciole. (Read more…)

Pulled Chicken Tacos with Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Pulled chicken tacos with corn and black bean salsa on white pine table
It doesn’t matter what your life looks like, getting healthy, delicious meals on the table in the midst of everything else you have going on, can be challenging. With me working early mornings at The Pastry Shop and The Boy leaving for work at The Hospital around two o’clock in the afternoon, I try to get our meal on the table a little after one o’clock. Sometimes I’m a little sleep stupid when I come home from work, so prepping this slow cooker chicken the night before and having it ready to go when I leave the house, oh so early in the morning, means we can eat together as a family and carry on with our day (nap) (Read more…)