Jen’s Strawberry Spinach Salad with Raspberry Poppyseed Vinaigrette and Grilled Orange Rosemary Chicken

Summer’s on its way! I saw a recipe for a strawberry spinach salad in a Penzey’s catalog years ago. I loved it. It’s the most friendly salad ever. I’ve played with it to make the dressing a little lighter, added grilled orange chicken, and changed the pistachios to candied pecans. It’s perfect with Pellegrino with lime if the kids have talked you into playing outside after dinner, or with a lovely Pinot Grigio if you’re planning to relax.

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Cookbook Review: Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World by Sam Kass

I was just listening to the end of Marcus Samuelsson’s Yes, Chef, when he mentioned that Sam Kass introduced him to the Obamas, and that’s how Marcus got to cook dinner for them, when this book, Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World, came across my desk. I was very excited to thumb through it and see what a president gets to eat, and I wasn’t disappointed at all. Beautiful book. I was surprised by the simplicity of the dishes. Kass’ style is simple preparations of nourishing food, with easy, perfect techniques that develop a lot of flavor. It’s good for you, feel good food, and it’s yummy. It’s all family pleasers. The kids have enjoyed the dishes as much as my husband and I.

Who’s this book for? I’d recommend it to anyone that wants nice healthy, nourishing food without cutting anything out. The recipes are on the easy end of the spectrum, and my kids love them, so I think it’s a good fit for anything from someone’s first apartment to the experienced cook. Continue reading “Cookbook Review: Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World by Sam Kass”

Ziggy Marley’s Beet Quencher recipe, a cookbook review of Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook, and Guerrero family game night. Nice.

61qoOfJ67fLI’ve always been more of a smoothie fan, and my juicer never got much love. Smoothies leave you feeling nice and full. Then I found Ziggy Marley’s cookbook, Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook: Delicious Meals Made With Whole, Organic Ingredients from the Marley Kitchen, and everything was delicious and super nutritious, so I decided to give his juices a try. I loved them! They’re filled with interesting flavor. Fantastic. When you want a nice vitamin punch, there’s nothing like juice. They leave me feeling extra alive. It’s not a juice book. There are only 9 juice recipes in it, but they’re special.

A huge thanks to Akashic Books for letting me share the recipe for a Beet Quencher with you. I’ll get back to my review of the book and a hilarious family game night idea after the recipe….

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Continue reading “Ziggy Marley’s Beet Quencher recipe, a cookbook review of Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook, and Guerrero family game night. Nice.”

Jen’s Air-Fried Bacon-Wrapped Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers

My kids’ school has a night called mini-school when they walk the parents through the kids’ schedules, the teachers talk about the curriculum, and contact info is exchanged. It goes for a few hours right when dinner would be. That’s our excuse night to grab Little Caesars for the kids and go out for a beer and hors d’oeuvres dinner after the meeting. Nice. On the last one, we popped over to a little place down the street called the Drunken Donkey. They have a great beer selection, every sports broadcast you’d wanna see, games, and beer-based munchies. Perfect. We ordered Bacon Thingies, poppers stuffed with chicken and cheese, and wrapped in bacon over shredded iceberg lettuce with a ranch drizzle. They were fantastic.

The Final Four’s coming up. I thought this would be the perfect excuse to bust out the air fryer and try to make some bacon thingies. It worked beautifully, so I thought I’d share. My youngest doesn’t like jalapeños too much, so I stuff a few mini bell peppers for her, and she adored those. I’m rocking an extra large Philips with a shelf, so I can fit 16. You can set the peppers in yours ahead of time to see how many you can fit.

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Jen’s Fruity Ice Cream-y Jell-o.

Jell-o. It’s not a guilty pleasure. I love the stuff. About 20 years ago, I found out you could use softened ice cream in place of half the water, just like you would whipped topping. Oh baby! That’s some delicious stuff! Still not convinced you should try this retro gold?! Okay, let this play out in Justin Timberlake’s voice in your head, “I’m bringin’ jell-o back. Yeah.” Yeah, I know. I’ll see you in jell-o town!

I love making the jell-o right in little parfait cups, but you can use a big bowl if you’d like. Glass is so much more fun so that you can see the layers from the side. Here are a few of my fruity faves…

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Jen’s Barbecue Smoked Brisket and Chile Lime Corn

We moved to Texas about 10 years ago, and fell in love with some of its iconic foods: queso, kolaches, migas, sweet tea, and smoked brisket. Oh baby, that’s good brisket! I read all the books. No, that’s not an exaggeration. I like to tackle things nerd-on. And I practiced, just making one little modification each time til I got my perfect brisket.

Give it a try! If you love it, come find me again! 😀


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Ugly Delicious – David Chang and Peter Meehan’s new show.

Lucky Peach ChickenI adored Lucky Peach magazine. Four pages of the most influential voices in food today devoting their full attention to an analysis of all the different frozen chicken nuggets on the market followed by truly serious foodie recipes. Nothing was off limits and nothing was sacred. It was passionate and it was hilarious. I was smitten. I still had two years left on my subscription when they killed it, and I was heartbroken. They moved everyone’s remaining subscription over to another food magazine. I won’t mention the name of the other magazine. It’s a great food magazine, and I’m not disparaging anyone, but magazines aren’t interchangeable.

The rumor was that it was over personality clashes. David Chang and Peter Meehan had differing opinions on the direction the publication should be headed in.

So, last week my husband yelled from the treadmill, “Jen! Turn on CNBC! David Chang’s coming on!” I dropped my cleaver and ran for the remote. Chang and Meehan had a new series coming on Netflix, Ugly Delicious. Huh. Total BS on the why the magazine folded, huh?! Later that day, I saw it run by my Facebook feed. That’s it. We’re getting Netflix!


Continue reading “Ugly Delicious – David Chang and Peter Meehan’s new show.”

Jen’s Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and lemon. Because American Girl café.

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The dolly store. My kids are way past that now, but I remember when we used to trek in to American Girl. They would pour over all the historical doll displays, oohing and aahing at all of those darling little accessories. They loved the books, too, and got a decent idea about American history from the nerdier volumes. The New York store (we used to live there) used to have a theater in it where you could watch plays. They were wonderful. I tried to steer them clear of the hairstyling area. I used to cut their hair myself, and couldn’t fathom forking over for a doll to get her style on. Then we’d go to the café. Have you been? They have little doll seats that clip on to the table so that the dolls and kids can eat together. The dolls even get served tiny cups of cocoa when the kids do. Holy adorbs! I wasn’t into the food, but didn’t really care. Then once, I ordered a parmesan crusted tilapia and it was delicious! So, I pulled together a similar dinner at home so we could have dolly night. They’re hopping off electronics or the treadmill, instead of hitching dollies to the table, when I make it now.

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Jen’s Pina Colada Coconut Pancakes. Healthy, Deeeeelicious, and Vegetarian.

Oh brunch! How I love you! A few years ago, we spent a few days in Denver on the way to Yellowstone. What a cool city! If you go, the art museum there is absolutely amazing. Definitely in my top 5 art museums ever. There’s a breakfast place there called Snooze. http://snoozeeatery.com/ You have to wait to get in, but it’s oh so worth it! Mmmm. Sweet potato buttermilk pancakes topped with homemade caramel, candied pecans and ginger butter. Buttermilk pancakes with caramelized pineapple chunks, housemade vanilla crème anglaise and cinnamon butter. I LOVE those pineapple upside down pancakes!

I started playing with that idea in my kitchen trying to bring a little vacation home. I added dollops of crushed pineapple and a sprinkle of sugar to each pancake before flipping it, and it caramelized so nicely. Delish. Then it hit me! Coconut flour is healthier than regular flour and it’s banging the same tropical vibe. And coconut milk makes everything more decadent even though it’s good for you. Oh baby! The wheels were spinnin’! Coconut flour and almond flour pancakes love to stick to the pan, so you need to make them smaller. And that would make adding a little dollup and sprinkle to each fussy. Hmmm. In Maricel Presilla’s Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, she makes the most cravable caramelized pineapple, avocado, and red onion salad. (She has a killer restaurant in Hoboken, New Jersey, right through the Lincoln Tunnel from Manhattan, called Cucharamama, and you must go if you’re ever near there. She’s a culinary genius and food history nerd extraordinaire!) The pineapple is caramelized under the broiler, just getting turned once. Perfect technique for this!

They’re healthier this way, but they’re yummier, too! It tastes like an island vacation. It’s a little plate of sunshine. Delicious, delicious sunshine.

It’s a weekend, so let’s set the kitchen mood! Put on a Marley’s Legend or turn your XM to 42 for the reggae channel. Prefer a little Cuban music? Albita’s No Se Parece A Nada wonderful. Or a little Jazz or Blues is always brunch appropriate. Or crank Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All (Remastered). You do you. Open the windows. But brunch is really at its yummiest on the porch. Truth.

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Cookbook Review: Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul by Jenné Claiborne

9780451498892Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul by Jenné Claiborne is a neat book. It ranges from the foodie to healthy end of the vegan cookbook spectrum. She’s a very strong flavorist. There’s not a boring or apologetically seasoned bite to be had in this book. There are some ingredients that will likely require a little extra effort to find, but most of it readily available. The recipes are easy, and her instructions are clear.

My thoughts and pics on some of the dishes I tried….


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