One truly incredible burger

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With a recipe headline like that, it was just DARING me to make it and then hate it.

But guess what? It was really good! Actually, kind of truly incredible. Honestly!

It’s a buffalo chicken burger, to be specific, which doesn’t sound as appetizing as “one truly incredible burger.” The patty is a mix of ground chicken, sautéed onion, cayenne and hot sauce. It took only 3 minutes per side in a skillet. The key, though, is in the toppings: a buffalo mayo and a blue cheese-celery-red onion slaw.

This one is a keeper.

I found the recipe in the latest issue of, um, er, Redbook. Yes, it’s been a long road since Teen, ym, Seventeen and Sassy, then on to Mademoiselle, Glamour and Marie Claire… Then there was that short stint with Shape, Self and Allure. InStyle and Lucky, it took a long time to quit you, and I’m not saying we’re through. But, I’ve graduated to… Redbook. Lauren Conrad is on the cover so it can’t be all bad.

Click here for Carla Hall’s recipe (she’s also on ABC’s The Chew, a show I’ve never seen a second of).


Gwyneth’s mac & cheese and our dinner conversation


Another moderately expensive dinner disaster: Gwyneth Paltrow’s homemade mac & cheese. Click here for the recipe, though I don’t recommend it unless you like oily, tasteless macaroni and cheese.

Barrak handled dinner duties tonight and he made what I had planned because I was caught up in work. He followed Gwynnie’s recipe to the letter. Upon tasting it, he had this to say: “This literally tastes like I am eating plain pasta. It tastes like nothing.”

I did take note of our dinner conversation tonight. Enjoy.

Greta, age 7: Daddy was afraid someone broke into our house.

Barrak: I left the garage door open when we ran to Fleet Feet.

Me: Well, I’m sure no one did. Belle would have eaten them. And our TV is still here.

Greta: What do you mean our TV is still here?

Me: Robbers steal stuff like TVs, computers, stereos.

Greta: What’s a stereo?

Me: How we used to listen to music.

Me: Magnus, did Mrs. T start in your classroom today?

Greta: That’s who I had for a substitute teacher!

Magnus [almost 5, totally exasperated]: Greta, you already told me that.

Greta: She has glasses. And she wore an owl scarf and we had donuts.

Greta: Daddy, are these hot dogs Hebrew National or Nathan’s?

Barrak: Nathan’s.

Greta: Hm. They taste like Hebrew National.

Fried flounder

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Yeah, last night’s dinner was kind of a disaster.

I made Gwyneth Paltrow’s fried flounder. The breading came off in the skillet big-time. I should have used Panko for the bread crumbs but instead, I used homemade Wonder bread crumbs made in the food processor. I think that was the problem.

I thought it still tasted OK. But Barrak resorted to his usual tortilla and cheese in the microwave, and the kids asked for chicken “Fun Nuggets.” Sigh.

One highlight: the homemade tartar sauce, made with mayo, lemon juice, capers, dill pickle relish, chopped basil and chopped chives.

Click here for the recipe that’s so simple, yet so easy to mess up.

Comfort Food: Black bean lasagna


{the beauty shot from the cookbook}

Here’s the last comfort food dish I made last week, and this one got scarfed up by THREE out of four in this family! That’s a home-run, people.

This is a meatless, Mexican-inspired lasagna that I was able to throw together one morning while waiting for our caregiver to arrive during one of last week’s treacherous winter commutes.

It’s made with lasagna pasta sheets (I used no-boil), ricotta, a ton of cheddar and mozzarella, 2 cans of black beans and a basic red sauce. It could probably be livened up even more but turned out surprisingly good.

Kind of a surprising one from Trisha Yearwood too. She says in her cookbook, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen, that as a single gal she used to microwave squares of it after coming home from a long workday. Here’s the recipe.

P.S. She also has a black bean lasagna recipe out in the ether that calls for tofu. This isn’t it.


{how it looked when I made it}

Comfort Food: Chicken pie


{the beauty shot from the cookbook}

This comfort food dish couldn’t be easier. Unfortunately I was the only one in my family who liked it so I’ll probably just make it for my parents.

It’s kind of like chicken pot pie without the vegetables, or a creamy chicken and biscuits. Surprisingly flavorful for how few ingredients it calls for. You just make a stew out of chicken stock, a can of cream of chicken soup (the building block of so many comfort food dishes), and shredded chicken and pour that in a casserole dish. A simple batter made with buttermilk, melted butter and self-rising flour gets poured right over top, and the whole thing bakes in the oven for about 40 or so minutes. Pretty nifty! The biscuit-like topper puffs up in the oven. So good.

Click here for the recipe, again from Trisha Yearwood’s cookbook, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen.


{how it looked when I made it… the topper got a little too done but it still tasted great}


Comfort Food: Chicken broccoli casserole


{the beauty shot from the cookbook}

Last week, I was in a comfort food frame of mind. The kids have been sick with belly bugs that have caused chronic horking, both my parents are bedridden and recovering from surgeries, and it’s the dead of winter. On top of all that, this goddamn Girl Scout cookie-selling has been a royal pain in the arse.

Comfort food is inexpensive, fast and portable (easy to pack up a portion and run it over to mom’s). The downside is, sometimes it’s too basic, too uninteresting. The three dishes I made last week all came from Trisha Yearwood’s cookbook Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen. A surprisingly good, very basic cookbook. There were some keepers and some duds.

I’ll post them in a series of three…

The first was this Chicken Broccoli Casserole. I thought for sure the kids would like this. It has all the things they like: rice, broccoli and chicken. But do you know what I can do with that logic? Yes, you guessed it: I can throw it right in the trash along with the untouched food on their plates.

The Verdict: Eh. I thought the dish was OK — not creamy enough for me. I probably won’t make it again. It’s TOO basic for grown-ups, and if the kids aren’t going to eat it either, what’s the point?

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to check it out.

P.S. According to the cookbook, Trisha’s husband Garth Brooks likes to eat it for breakfast.

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{how it looked when I made it}