Monday, March 30, 2015

On Making the "Perfect" Hard Boiled Egg

My husband is very willing to help out where and when needed, but for the most part, I take care of the cooking.  There are a few exceptions, however.  Among them: grilling and breakfast.  When it comes to breakfast, John reigns in our kitchen...his pancakes and waffles are awesome.  Anything to do with eggs are his specialty.  Omelets, fried eggs, and egg sandwiches...I look forward to any of the above most Saturdays and Sundays.  But, perhaps his claim to fame these days is perfecting the hard boiled egg.

Have you ever experienced the somewhat gross green or grey coloring around the yolk of your hard boiled eggs?  Though unappetizing in appearance, the green yolk is actually harmless - and completely avoidable.  The reason that occurs is actually very simple:  the eggs are overcooked.  My husband, being a chemist, would take that explanation a bit further - in the white of the egg is hydrogen sulfide, which reacts with the iron in the yolk, resulting in the greenish iron sulfide when cooked for too long.  So, how to cook them perfectly?  John shares his advice and technique:

  1. Begin with cool water and refrigerated large eggs.  Cover the eggs with the cool water in a pot or deep pan so that there is about a 1/2 inch of water above the eggs and place over high heat.
  2. Keep an eye on the water.  As soon as it comes to a full, rolling boil, remove the pan from the heat and cover it with a lid.  Set a timer for 8 minutes.
  3. While the eggs are sitting in the hot water, they are still cooking, which is important.  Equally important is forcing that cooking process to stop when you want it to.  For this reason, prepare an ice bath in a second pot using cold water and a few of cups of ice.
  4. Once the timer goes off, remove one egg from the pot and roll it around gently in the ice bath until cool to touch (at least 30 seconds).  Crack this egg open to check the yolk - if it is still a bit under cooked, leave the other eggs in the hot water for another 30 seconds to a minute (or more if it seems as though the egg is far under cooked, but remember that they have already been sitting in the water during the time you were checking the test egg). If it is ready, place the remaining eggs in the ice bath to cool.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pita Pizzas

As we try to eat healthier, we've tried to eliminate going out to eat as often.  I recently read an article by Mark Bitman in TIME (October 2014) magazine where he was encouraging people to cook at home. He mentions that cooking at home is likely to have 200 calories fewer than the food you eat at a restaurant.

We love our Friday pizza!  It has been fun to cash-in the kids' Book-It reward but anything can get out of control. As a family, going our every week is costly in more ways that one.  These pita pizzas were amazing!  I even added some spicy chicken leftovers.


  • 100 % whole grain pitas
  • 1 T Olive oil
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Pizza sauce (I use organic, natural sauce)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Assorted veggies

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  2. Brush olive oil onto pita bread.
  3.  Top with sauce, spread.
  4. Add cheeses and your favorite veggies.
  5. Bake until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Slow Cooker Apricot Salsa Chicken

As I try to feed my family a more healthy diet, I need to consider time. Most of my life centers around time needed to do things. That said, Irving Naxon's invention of the crock-pot is one of my most prized possessions given the time it can save me.

Many of the recipes I find I skim over because I know I don't have the time to dedicate to the food prep.  Sometimes this leads me to looking on the "Kids Can Cook Clean" section of one of my favorite food blogs The Gracious Pantry. Not so I can have my kids prepare the meal, but because I know if a child can do it, I can too (and probably faster).

My husband raved about this meal each time I have made it; I serve it over quinoa or couscous.   The other great thing about this recipe is most homes stock these items. When I am running short of time or have no idea what to make, I throw this is the crock pot-5 minutes flat.


  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup apricot spread
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  1. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  2. Top with chicken stock, salsa, apricot spread, and corn.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  4. Shred chicken with forks.

TIME: 5 minutes prep, 4-6 hours in slow cooker
SOURCE: adapted from The Gracious Pantry

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pasta e Fagioli (Olive Garden copycat)

For a person who has really never been that fond of soups, I have recently become obsessed.  Perhaps it is the bitter cold winter that we have been having, or perhaps I just realized that soups really aren't that hard to make (and they are very hard to mess up) and the homemade stuff is just SO GOOD!  Plus, you have total control over what goes in - how thick or thin you want it, how much salt you want, the veggies, the broth, the seasonings... I honestly don't know that I will ever buy a can of soup again.  This particular soup is supposed to be a copycat version of the Pasta e Fagioli at Olive Garden.  Personally, I cannot attest to how much it tastes like the restaurant version, as I have never had it there.  (Though, I would hazard a guess that this is better.)  But, I can say that my husband raved about it hours after dinner the first time I made it.  

  • 1 cup ditalini pasta 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
  • 1 pound ground mild or spicy Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced 
  • 2 stalks celery, diced 
  • 3-4 cups chicken or beef broth (I use chicken stock)
  • 1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce 
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 (15-ounce) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed 
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well and set aside. 
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add Italian sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, crumbling the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat and set aside. 
  3. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Stir in garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Whisk in 3 cups of broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, reserved Italian sausage and 1 cup water; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 25-30 minutes. 
  5. Stir in pasta and beans as well as an additional cup of broth (if a thinner soup is desired) and heat for an additional 5 minutes or until heated through.

Difficulty: medium to easy - just some chopping involved; nothing too hard
Time: about 45 minutes to 1 hour, not all of which is active time
Source:  Adapted from Cooking Classy