Cookbook Collection | Thursday Trials - Sweet & Sour Chicken with Pineapple

Sweet & Sour Chicken with Pineapple and Red Onion

Back in 2014, about ten days after getting my tonsils removed, Kevin proposed to me during Chinese food at home. It was the first time I could actually swallow anything, and he proposed via a fortune cookie BEFORE we ate. Who even opens fortune cookies before eating? I had to call everyone to tell them the big news, and never got the chance to enjoy dinner. Even still, Chinese food has always been quite romantic to us after that.

When I saw this particular recipe, it reminded me of our engagement, but also included our favorite fruit. Except, this recipe is a healthier take on Chinese style sweet and sour chicken. It has less fat, and less salt (because there is actually no salt called for in the recipe). I served this meal over white rice. Not having the biggest sweet tooth, I am going to admit that this recipe just wasn't for me. It was very sweet, but missing the "sour" in my opinion - or even some heat! My husband enjoyed it, because it was "healthy and fresh tasting." We chose to add broccoli, zucchini and red peppers, as the recipe only calls for snow peas ad of course, my husband isn't a fan of peas.
If you like sweet & sugary dishes, I think you will enjoy this one. It makes enough for 2-4 servings. Book info below:

America's Test Kitchen
Page 119
Sweet & Sour Chicken with Pineapple and Red Onion (no link available)


Cookbook Collection | Thursday Trials - Seared Pork Chops

Seared Pork Chops with Peas, Scallions and Pancetta

Welcome to week 2 of my new series! Every Thursday night, I will be choosing random recipes from the overwhelming collection of cookbooks I have. It goes without saying that Thursday is my new favorite day of the week (after Friday, of course)!

On Tuesday night, my husband and I visited the hospital to meet our new niece, Jenna. Eight pounds and twenty inches of beauty! Once we arrived back home, we hit the cookbooks to find a recipe for tonight. We have similar tastes when it comes to food, but not when it comes to salmon. He won't eat it whatsoever, sigh... (don't worry, I will still be making salmon eventually).

I opened my newest cookbook (above) and started with the contents page, which was extremely well organized. We decided on a meat entrée this week, which led us to a pork chop dish.

Melissa Clark
Page 81
Seared Pork Chops with Peas, Scallions and Pancetta (link directs to Melissa Clark Recipes)

I replaced the sweet peas with asparagus tips, at hubby's request. If I had to make this recipe over, I would use a different skillet, as the enameled cast iron skillet didn't brown the pancetta or chops as much as I hoped. The flavor of the chicken broth (with the leftover grease from the chops and pancetta) was so delicious - sweet and delicate! We really loved the scallions cooked this way, as both of us never cooked with them in a bulky chop. The pancetta gave the meal a perfect amount of saltiness. Both Kevin and I enjoyed this dish, but my chops and pancetta definitely needed a better sear! We recommend this one and will be making it again!

Truffled Mac and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

It's not always easy to come up with creative recipe ideas that have never been seen before. I mean, I dreamt about deep fried cheese stuffed meatballs, only to find out on google when I awoke that they've been done before! Who would've thought..

So the latest idea to pop in this food loving brain of mine, was mac and cheese stuffed mushrooms. Not just your ordinary mac and cheese, white truffled mac and cheese. If you know me, you know I love truffle oil.. I visit the local olive oil shops to make sure I am always stocked. I really love my grandma's mac and cheese recipe so that was my platform to this recipe. Creamy mac and cheese is wonderful, but to stuff in mushrooms? You need a bit of stability. To reach the correct consistency, a few adjustments were made to the milk measurements and type of pasta used, as well as cutting the entire recipe in half (which still leaves extra). An important note is to let the stuffed mushrooms sit for a bit after they finish baking.

For the Mac:
1/2 box elbow noodles
1/2 stick salted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz gruyere cheese (shredded from a block)
4 oz white cheddar cheese (shredded from a block)
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 tbs white truffle oil
Seasoned panko breadcrumbs (just enough to sprinkle on the tops)

For the Mushrooms:
16-20 whole mushrooms, stems removed and gills carefully cleaned out with a spoon
Wired rack to put over baking sheet (so any water from the mushrooms is released onto a pan under the rack)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to box. Set cooked pasta aside.

2. In a large pot on medium heat, melt the butter then add the flour and stir until blended. This will create a rue which is a tan, creamy paste.

3. Slowly add milk, about a 1/2 cup at a time, and stir continuously. Add 1 cup heavy cream and continue stirring until mixture is thickened.

4. Lower heat, add ground mustard, paprika, salt & pepper and truffle oil into milk mixture and stir until blended for 1-2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cheese, mixing until melted into a thick sauce.

5. Add cooked noodles to sauce mixture and stir until the noodles are coated.

6. On a backing sheet, covered with wired rack, place the emptied mushrooms onto the rack. Salt mushrooms (before filling). Fill mushrooms with an unleveled, heaping amount of mac and cheese, then top with breadcrumbs.

7. You can place any extra mac and cheese into an appropriate sized casserole dish (I used one 8"x 8"). Bake mushrooms (& extra mac) at 350 degrees, for 20 minutes.

*There are so many options that come with this recipe. You can add bacon, crab, lobster, extra mushroom stems (chopped) into your mac and cheese! Endless possibilities!


Cookbook Collection | Thursday Trials - Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola

Welcome to the first Thursday Trial of my cookbook collection. The amount of cookbooks I have is overwhelming, to the point I haven't even touched some of them. When I got pregnant with my daughter, Kora, I told myself that in all that free time during maternity leave, I would be reading my cookbooks for some inspiration of new recipes. But who was I kidding? Free time on maternity leave? Nope! The days blew by so quickly, I barely had time to shower...

So I find myself here, still with a goal of getting through some of these books. I have recently switched from full time to part time at my job, which leaves me with Thursday's off. Having this one day off a week, leaves me with time to run to the store with baby Kora, grab some items that I need, and have a few hours to whip up something so delicious for my darling husband. The same husband who won't change a poop diaper unless he really has to, and still leaves his electric toothbrush on the counter which leaves a frosty ring for me to clean every single day. But we love Kevin, he is such a great dad, and such a great friend and husband to me. I can only thank him so much, and what a great way to do it by sharing my love for cooking, and allowing him to be my official taste tester.

At the end of the posts, we will rate the meal by how tasty it was, how nice (or not nice) it looks, and if we would ever make it again. I will include the author, book title, page number, name of the meal, and any other important info that they share with us. Remember, these are not my recipes, we are just sharing out trials of them with you from these wonderful books!

Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola

What better way to start off this new Kiss My Apron series, then with my favorite home chef:

Ina Garten
Barefoot Contessa
Page 158-159
Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola

Ina mentions how this recipe is from Nick & Toni's restaurant in East Hampton, which I have been to! I love the fact that many local places Ina discusses, are well known to me. Long Island is a pretty small place to live, and we are blessed to have so many farms with fresh produce. I still hope to run into Mrs. Garten one day!

Review: The sauce was a perfect texture, and the flavor was spot on! We all loved it, and would certainly make it again. Next time, I would love to add pancetta, shrimp, chicken or peas! And where was the bread, you may be thinking... I forgot it at the store! Dang..

Thanks Ina, for a wonderful recipe!


Cookware Gifts | Personal Creations

While searching for Mother's Day gifts, I came across a website that had personalized cookware. I was more excited to buy stuff for myself, rather than my mom and mother in law! Being that I will be celebrating my 30th next weekend (!!!!), I did buy myself a couple things. I am so happy with how everything turned out; a pie dish for my sister in law Liz, a pot for my mom Nancy, a baking sheet and personalized cover for my mother in law Debbie (not pictured), and a casserole dish with chili bowls for myself! I highly recommend Personal Creations for their cookware gifts!
*This post is not a paid advertisement for Personal Creations, just a personal opinion*


Blackened Chicken Pasta Salad

Recently, I went to a "mom meetup" from a group I am apart of. Five of us new moms and our babies met up at a house and we did a meet & greet. The host, Christina, made a delicious pasta salad that I could not stop eating! So here is my version tonight, topped with blackened chicken. Thanks for the recipe idea, Christina!

Servings: 4-6
Cook time: 30 minutes


For the chicken - 
1.5 lb chicken cutlets or tenderloins
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp adobo
Salt, pepper to taste
1/2 stick butter, melted

For the pasta-
1 12 oz box of pasta (tri-color rotini)
2 tbs olive oil
2 medium zucchinis, sliced then halved
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbs butter
Fresh mozzarella (~4 oz), either in balls or chopped up into bite size pieces
Scallions, chopped
1/2 cup italian dressing
Grated Parmesan cheese


1. In a small bowl, mix seasonings for chicken rub. Coat chicken in butter, then dredge in the rub. Cook chicken on BBQ, medium high heat, for a total of 8-10 minutes - flipping halfway - until cooked through. Cut into bite size pieces (to later add to pasta).

2. Boil pasta per box directions. Strain and transfer into large serving dish.

3. Heat oil in medium sauté pan on medium heat. Cook shallots and zucchini for about 5 minutes, until tender. Add butter, and a pinch of salt. Add zucchinis and shallots to the pasta.

4. Add mozzarella, cooked chicken and Italian dressing, stirring until all pasta is coated. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and scallions on top. Serve warm to cool.

Boneless Short Ribs

Short ribs, the way to my husband's heart. Any restaurant that lists short ribs on the menu, Kevin is ordering them. I knew I had to perfect a recipe of my own so that I could treat him every now and again. I think one of the most important things about this recipe is the quality of meat you purchase. We have such a wonderful butcher near by called Cow Palace and their prices and quality are top notch. I like serving the short ribs over risotto, couscous, or mashed potatoes. One of our favorite restaurants (Frisky Oyster, Greenport NY), serves their boneless short ribs with an Asian sauce and pecans! It is divine.

Servings: 4
Cook time: 2 1/2 to 3 hours

2 tbs olive oil
2 lbs boneless short ribs
1 large white onion, cut into large slices
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped in quarters
5 garlic cloves, whole
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
6-7 sprigs of thyme, tied
Salt & pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Cut meat into desired servings
Season meat generously with salt & pepper

2. Heat (an oven proof) large dutch oven on medium/high heat with olive oil. Sear meat until browned on all sides (~6-7 minutes total)

3. Remove meat and set aside. Add onion, carrots and garlic, cooking for about 3-4 minutes. Add meat back in, with red wine and bring to boil.

4. Lower to medium heat, adding thyme and beef stock. Bring liquid to a boil, then transfer pot to heated oven, letting cook for ~2 hours, until tender.

5. Remove meat from pot, and serve whole or shredded over risotto, couscous or mashed potatoes.

**Optional: Remove meat from pot, and use a hand mixer to transform onions, carrots, garlic and liquid into a gravy. (see last picture - I added cashews into the gravy after blended)


Kiss My Apron: On the Menu

The weeks are flying by with this new child of mine! She is 10 weeks old and sleeping 7 hours at night. I am back to work part time which leaves me time to really plan dinners and cook for hubby again. Plus with no more nausea and sickness from pregnancy, I have been eating like crazy! Kevin is babysitting Kora for the first time by himself today because I had a meeting and our babysitter was sick..Wishing him lots of luck today!

The upcoming menu helps us plan out what we need to buy for the week, and allows us to focus on meals that use the same ingredients so they don't go to waste. This has been a true time and money saver. What day would you choose to eat over?

Friday: Date night! We are having our first dinner date tonight while grandma nanny babysits.
Saturday: Braised boneless short ribs with mushroom truffle risotto (Recipe from Uncle/Chef John)
Sunday: Happy Easter! I am making Brown Eyed Baker's Sweet Potato Gratin and my husband is making his famous Guacamole.
Monday: Hoisin Chicken Stir fry over white rice
Tuesday: Spicy Beef Tacos with tostones
Wednesday: One Pan Chicken, Zucchini, Potatoes by the Recipe Critic (this one has to be cook at a higher temperature than said, otherwise it doesn't cook thru! other than that, it is an awesome dish)
Thusrday: Crock pot Root beer pulled pork with bacon mac and cheese
Friday: Cheese Raviolis with a Spring Garden salad & Fried Goat cheese


Kiss My Apron's Homemade Chili

My go to chili recipe! Usually served over white rice, or it goes great by itself (with fritos too - yum)!

Serves: 6-10
Cook time: 1 hour


2 tbs olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1/8 cup jarred jalapeños, chopped
2 tbs jalapeño juice
1/4 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 tbs ground cumin
1/2 tbs chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can white beans
1 15 oz can pink beans
1/2 cup beef broth
Toppings: Cheese, Sour cream, Jalapeños, Fritos, Bacon, Scallions - the possibilities are endless!


1. In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat oil on medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add beef and cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes.

2. Add jalapeños, jalapeño juice, carrots, and seasonings. Stir until throughly mixed.

3. Add crushed tomatoes, beans and broth. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Lower heat and simmer chili for about 50 minutes, until thickened.

4. Serve hot by itself or over white rice, and finish with your choice of toppings!

Hoisin Chicken Cashew Stir fry

This is a staple meal for my family. It is easy to make in large amounts in case you are having some company, and uses most ingredients that people keep at home. There is something about chicken and cashews together! Leave some feedback and let us know if you like it!

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serve over white rice


2 lbs chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
2 egg whites
2 tbs corn starch
1 tbs sherry vinegar
2 tbs stir fry oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 cup small broccoli florets
1/2 cup carrots, sliced thin
4 oz sliced mushrooms
4 oz sliced water chestnuts
1/2 cup cashews
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt, pepper to taste
(*note: to make this recipe quicker, they sell bags of mixed veggies that can be used in place of fresh)


1. In a medium size bowl, mix egg whites, corn starch, and sherry together. Place chicken in bowl, and mix until chicken is fully coated.

2. In a large wok, heat 1 tbs oil on medium-high heat. Add peppers, garlic, onion, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and water chest nuts. Cook about 5-7 minutes. Remove veggies from wok, and set aside.

3. In same wok, heat 1 tbs oil on medium-high heat. Brown chicken, about 2-3 minutes on each side, until almost cooked through. Add cooked vegetables, and cashews to the wok (with the chicken). Mix together.

4. Add hoisin sauce, soy, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir well. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Serve over white rice.


Newborn Photos - Cooking theme

As a food blogger, this is one theme I had to go with! I can't believe baby Kora was tiny enough to fit in my mixing bowl. Today she is one month old, but these pictures were taken at just 9 days old! Already time is going too fast!