Monthly Archives: December 2009

A good way to re-use some of the rich and heavy leftovers from all the holiday dinners without ending up feeling extra stuffed is just to take a smallish portion of the decadent food and throw it into a somewhat light lunch. Your little portion will satisfy any craving and provide maximum flavor and taste. Just add extra volume with fresh veggies and you’ve got the ultimate lunch.

A tiny handful of buttery green beans tossed in with a giant helping of fresh romaine, carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers. All topped with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing.

Or for the mexican food lover (like Chris), mix about a third cup portion of pulled shredded pork with light slaw and hot sauce and roll it up in a palm-sized corn tortilla. Voila! This should make your tastebuds and your waistline pretty happy.


Chris’ mom made delicious apple pancakes on Christmas morning for the family. It tasted like a very light bread pudding that wasn’t too sweet. Warmed up and drizzled with some maple syrup, it was divine especially when served with a steaming cup of tea. Below is the recipe, courtesy of Chris’ wonderful mama!! Thanks, Connie!

Couple tablespoons of butter (maybe three or four)
6 gala apples
½ cup of milk
2 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla
6 eggs
1 t. nutmeg
½ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
1 cup flour
Brown sugar
1)Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2)Butter in a 9X12 pan
3):Peel  apples-Slice, quarter, and quarter again
4)Put  apples into 9X 12 pan with butter melted until bubbly.
5)Blend the following  in a blender:
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. nutmeg
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. cinnamon
  • 1 cup of flour (add last)
6)Pour above blended mixture on top of apples
7)Spread brown sugar all over the mixture.
8)Bake 425 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or longer.

apple pancakes

The “weekend” for me consisted of everything from Wednesday (day before Christmas Eve) on to Sunday, so I’m just going to jump right in. Less talk, more pictures! Here we go…

Wednesday Night. Holiday party at our house potluck style. Our friends brought over culinary contributions that had all of us half passed out on the couch afterwards from major full-dom. OK maybe that was just me.

Tim and Sarah’s dip

Dip with tomato, olives, shredded cheese

Meghann and Kevin’s sausage balls (holy cow, I had like five of these!!) Meghann promised me the recipe but I can tell you it had breakfast sausage and Bisquick in there.

Sausage balls

With ranch and ketchup of course!

Ranch and ketchup

Meghann’s out-of-this-world potato au gratin with mushrooms. Hands down, the best I have ever had. The secret, she says, is using multiple types of mushrooms from cremini to brown button to shiitake. Another recipe I want from her.

potato au gratin with different mushrooms

And her savory puddings, pre-bake.

savory pudding

And Meghann’s green beans!

green beans

Tommy and Nicole’s mac ‘n cheese, pre-bake, with goat cheese and caramelized onions on top. Tommy also whipped up an elegant platter of endive salad appetizers but I didn’t get a pic 😦

mac 'n cheese with goat cheese and caramelized onions

Last but definitely not least, Chris’ slow-roast pulled pork, waiting to be thrown into a taco.

shredded pork and cheese

My plate. Round 1.

Oh, and what was my contribution? Surprise, surprise I did not cook. Instead, I picked up a box of Klondike bars from the market. Ha.

Thursday Night. Christmas Eve. It was me, my mom, Chris and his family and we decided to do Thai takeout instead of cooking. How’s that for holiday convenience?

Shrimp and veggie curry. Can’t remember exact name. Sorry.

Thai spring rolls

A beef and veggie dish

Thai papaya salad

Mango and sticky rice for dessert. Mmmm my favorite.

Friday. Christmas Day. Practically a 4-hour meal. East-meets-West style since my mama contributed her chinese black bean chicken dish and bok choy.

Chris’ mom made a light yet super tasty salad with pomegranate seeds, walnuts and cheese.

salad with pomegranate seeds, walnuts, blue cheese

My mom’s Chinese black bean chicken with onions

Chinese black bean chicken with onions

And her healthy and hearty bok choy.

Healthy and hearty bok choy

The prime rib. There were also green beans and mashed potatoes but I didn’t get pictures of those. Oh well.

prime rib

Onto the desserts!! Chris’ younger brother, Elijah, made cannoli with a filling of ricotta cheese, sugar, and chocolate chips. Pre-made cannoli shells were found at Bristol Farms.


More dessert. Apple pie and homemade gingerbread and cookies. Ahhhh my stomach hurts just by looking at these again.

Hope y’all had an equally fabulous holiday. Ciao for now.

One of my goals is to start making my own bread from scratch. There’s nothing like a slice of warm, crusty artisan bread, slathered with fresh butter that has been sprinkled lightly with a little bit of fleur de sel. The ingredients to making your own bread is simple: flour, water, yeast, and salt. It’s the time that will get you. Kind of like risotto. Super simple to make, it just requires patience. And one of my 2010 New Year resolutions is to have more patience in the kitchen. After all, what’s that saying? The longer you wait, the sweeter the return? Or something like that. Check out this video from Mark Bittman from The New York Times, who shares a recipe on how to make no-knead bread. All you’ll need are the necessary ingredients and a dutch oven to bake the bread in.

If any of you caught the most recent season of Top Chef Las Vegas, I’m sure you will agree with me that Ashley Merriman got voted off WAY TOO EARLY! I remember yelling at the television when Padma winced and said, “Ashley… please pack your knives and go.” WTF! I personally thought Ashley was one of the most talented chefs in the group, and I was bitter to see her get kicked off the show. Anyway, enough with my sour attitude and on to something very cool. Ashley has agreed to do a little Q&A for P&B and I’m more than freaking out because I’m a huge fan of hers. Thanks, Ashley!!!!

Hi Ashley. Being a chef (especially one who appeared on Top Chef) seems like such a high-pressure job at times. Can you tell our readers a little bit about the pros and cons of being in the restaurant business? The pros: every day is an opportunity to get better, be creative and cook great food. The cons: terrible hours, bad pay, and no real life outside of work to speak of.

What are some of your personal favorite restaurants to dine at (they could be anywhere) and what dishes do you typically order at those restaurants? In NYC: Franny’s, Casa Mono, Lombardi’s. In Seattle: Cafe Juanita, Tamarind Tree, Tilth, Sitka and Spruce. Elsewhere: Le Pigeon (Portland), AOC (LA).

What’s a typical day’s worth of food for you (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) – I don’t really eat a typical breakfast or lunch – my preference is something hot and spicy like a bowl of Pho or two tacos with lots and lots of hot sauce. For dinner I usually have family meal at the restaurant but often will go out after and try and have a little snack of something light – having a salad and two meatballs at Terroir in NYC is once of my favorite things to do.

What are three kitchen essentials a home cook should never be without? A very sharp knife, a saute pan and a good cutting board.

What’s your favorite recipe that can always impress guests at a dinner party? – I don’t really have “go to” recipes that I use at dinner parties. I think each guest is different and every occasion is different – so I try and cook what is right for the moment and the party. That being said, making your own pasta shows a lot of care and thought.

Outside the kitchen, do you pursue any hobbies? – One of my biggest pursuits is finding the best food in any given city.

If you could cook for anyone in the world (anyone famous, dead or alive) who would it be? And if you could have anyone cook for you, who would that be? – If I could cook for anyone it would probably be the Rolling Stones. And I’d have my chef, Alex Guarnaschellli cook for me.

The end.

It reads like ‘Salami Joe,’ but I (JC) am going for a play on the Sloppy Joe’s that were never really served in my household despite the hamburger helper spot that always seemed to be playing on the RCA.

After a fun weekend with friends and football, I woke Monday without a craving other than my morning coffee. By the time noon rolled around, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer to repurpose last night’s dishes into my first meal of the day.  If you could picture the US in the image below, my home of California is covered in Mel’s Pancetta Mac & Cheese, the Pacific NW buried in wild rice, and the combination of Luke’s slaw and yesterday’s stew span from Colorado through the fly over states all the way to the Atlantic. Paired excellently with even leftover Ginger Ale (so I keep a can in the fridge when I don’t finish it–don’t judge), last night started coming back to me with the cheese and slaw foundation.

Pancetta mac and cheese, Williamson Slaw, braised chuck, wild rice

Monday lunch leftovers

Roast and Slaw Tacos

MNF Tacos

There you have it, my first post. In case you can’t tell, this was done by Chris, JC, whatever you want to call me. Check in for the next which will be coming quicker than this took, and check back for tomorrow’s ‘MEET.’

I know (wince!) I didn’t bake something from scratch because I was too tired and lazy. I’m not ashamed to say I went shopping at Whole Foods this weekend with the intention of picking up a box of cookie mix. I never ever do this but a holiday party on Friday night had me feeling much too exhausted (i.e., hungover) to pull out all the baking items from the pantry. Apparently, this 27-year-old just can’t party like she used to. And now…back to the cookies.

I had never heard of Dr. Oetker but decided to give the chocolate chip cookies a shot. Not bad for a 4pm afternoon pick-me-up.

I promise next week to bake from scratch.