chicken teriyaki

We don’t have a heck of a lot of fast food in Seattle. Most folks around here snub their noses at McDonald’s, Burger King and Arby’s (all for good reason, although I admit I occasionally indulge in the King’s chicken sangwich from time to time when I’m traveling). If we do have a signature “fast food” though, it’s surely teriyaki. Teriyaki joints in the Big Rainy are almost as frequent as coffee shops. I’ve yet to find one that’s spectacular, but most are passable and can provide you with a quick, somewhat healthy lunch. It’s cheap, filling, and satisfying.

But as is the case with most takeout, you can make it better at home. In fact, you can make great chicken teriyaki, and it’s easier than you think.

Start with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You’ll get the best flavor from the organic, free-range variety. Since this is a very simple dish, the quality of chicken you buy really matters. Grab your favorite teriyaki sauce (I like Yoshida’s Original Gourmet Sauce—stay far away from Kikkoman), and a few cloves of garlic.

Mince the garlic. I like my handy dandy garlic twist. All you do is stick the naked cloves in…

…give it a twirl and your garlic is perfectly minced. Plus, no smelly garlic hands.

Stir the garlic in with the teriyaki sauce.

Rinse and pat dry your chicken thighs, then place them in a large Ziploc bag. Pour in the teriyaki marinade. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 24.

When you’re ready to eat, grill the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat. I always use thighs when I’m going to grill chicken—the higher fat content means they won’t dry out like breasts do.

Slice. Serve. Savor.

It’s your favorite takeout, but at home. With much more flavor. And probably cheaper. No need to visit that Teriyaki joint at the strip mall again.


Chicken Teriyaki  printable yaki

The key to this simple dish is quality chicken and good teriyaki sauce. Buy organic, free-range chicken if you can. Serves 3-4 as a main course. 

Prep Time: 5 minutes       Marinating Time: at least 6 hours     Cook Time: 8 minutes

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 c teriyaki sauce
1. Rinse the chicken thighs. Pat dry and place in a large Ziploc bag.
2. Mince the garlic. Stir into the teriyaki sauce. Pour sauce over chicken, seal, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 24 hours.
3. Preheat grill to medium. Grill chicken thighs for 3-4 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in the center. Serve with rice and vegetables.



tamale pie with bbq pulled pork

A few weeks B.C. (Before Charlie), my dear sister-in-law stocked our freezer. She handed over a tote bag full of homemade frozen meals as her baby gift to us. Among the foil-wrapped containers there was one labeled “Tamale Pie.” Curious, I stashed it in the freezer and waited for the busy day on which we would need to use it.

Weeks later, exhausted from being up with a baby all night and chasing a toddler around all day, I popped it in the oven for dinner. The smells of Mexican spices and sweet corn began wafting from the oven. Eating it was even better—spicy ground beef, peppers and onions were all topped off with a layer of light, crunchy cornbread. If this was tamale pie, I thought, I wanted more of it.

I set out to make a sort of “ultimate” version with pulled pork slathered in a spicy barbecue sauce. Barbecue and cornbread were made for each other. I’m a fan of Stubb’s, but homemade or another brand work just as well (and if you make your own barbecue sauce, send me a bottle? Please?).

Marinate a pork shoulder roast in the barbecue sauce, then cook in the Crock Pot. Shred the meat.

Next, you’ll need fire-roasted tomatoes, cornbread mix, peppers (orange, yellow, and poblano), a sweet onion, chili powder, cumin, and kosher salt. Oh, and one handsy toddler lurking in the background.

Uh oh.

And she’s got it.

Saute the onion and poblano pepper in a bit of oil until tender.

Add the bell peppers and spices, saute a bit more…

…and finish with the tomatoes. Check the spices and make sure everything is to your liking.

Assemble the cornbread (my favorite $0.53 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix requires milk and eggs, but yours may be different).

To the cornbread batter, add corn (frozen or canned is fine) and sharp cheddar cheese (or your favorite variety—pepperjack would be great as well).

Stir together the pork with the pepper/onion mixture and spread into the bottom of two 9″ pie plates or one 9×13″ rectangular baking pan.

Top with the cornbread mixture…

…and bake until golden.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream. A frosty margarita on the side is also mandatory.

This has become one of my new, go-to comfort meals. There is something soothing about these classic flavors, and since the recipe makes a large batch you can enjoy this meal for several dinners or stash half in your freezer for a hectic day. Kisses to my sis-in-law Becky for introducing me to this crazy wonderful dish (and for stocking our freezer!). Make this for yourself or for some lucky parents-to-be soon.


Tamale Pie with BBQ Pulled Pork Click here for printable version

If you’re using another brand of cornbread mix, omit the eggs and milk and follow the directions on the package. Makes 1 rectangular 9×13″ pie or 2 round 9″ pies.

Inactive Prep Time: 12-24 hours for marinating pork, 7-8 hours for cooking pork.

Active Prep Time: 25 minutes.

Bake Time: 25-30 minutes.

  • 3 lb pork shoulder roast
  • 1 c barbecue sauce, divided
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c milk
  • 2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 c corn kernels (frozen or canned is fine)
  • sour cream for serving

1. Rinse pork roast and pat dry. Place in a large Ziploc bag and cover with 1/2c of the barbecue sauce. Refrigerate 12-24 hours.

2. Transfer pork roast with marinade into bowl of slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours. Remove pork, shred, and stir in remaining 1/2 c barbecue sauce. Set aside.

3. Dice sweet onion. Seed and dice poblano pepper and bell peppers.

4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and poblano pepper and saute 3-4 minutes, until onion begins to become translucent. Add bell peppers, salt, chili powder and cumin. Saute 5 minutes more. Add fire roasted tomatoes and continue to saute 5 minutes more or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in shredded pork. Check seasoning.

5. Preheat oven to 400F. Combine corn muffin mix, eggs, milk, cheese and corn in a large bowl and mix to combine. Grease one 9×13″ baking dish or two 9″ pie plates. Spread the pork mixture into the bottom of the pan and spread the cornbread mixture evenly on top*. Bake for 25-30 minutes (may take slightly longer in large rectangular pan) until cornbread is cooked through and slightly golden on top. Serve topped with sour cream.

*NOTE: Can be covered and frozen unbaked. Bake from frozen at 400F for 45 min-1 hr or until cornbread is done.


ragu bolognese

Ages ago, a publisher sent me this fantastic book in hopes that I’d do a review or a giveaway. I had every intention of trying a few recipes, snapping some photos, and then putting it up for grabs to you lovely readers. But you see, I kind of can’t let go of it. It’s pretty much become my pasta bible.

Why am I so attached to it? Well, first of all: it’s pretty. Instead of glossy shots of steaming noodles and pots of sauces, there are graphic color blocks in the shapes of different pastas.

Some of them are downright framable.

But the second and most important reason I love this book is that it tells you how to make nearly every type of pasta and every type of sauce known to man (or at least to Italians). You can follow an entire recipe (homemade noodles from scratch, along with its recommended paired sauce), or take it one piece at a time (I’ve been experimenting with sauces and *gulp* buying dry noodles at the store).

I’ll try my hand at homemade gnocchi and tagliatelle one of these days. But for now, I’ll continue making this ragù bolognese like a broken record. It’s that good.

It starts with three meats: pork, beef, and pancetta (I’ve been substituting unsmoked bacon and it works just fine).

Next: onion, diced tomatoes, milk, olive oil, butter, white wine, celery, carrots, garlic and chicken stock (not pictured).

A word of warning about this sauce: it’s not a quick, throw-together at the last minute type of meal. Make it when you’ve got some time to attend to it. The results will be well worth it. Plus, it makes a very large batch and you can freeze half for later.

Begin by dicing the celery, carrots, onion, garlic and pancetta (or bacon).

Saute with the butter and olive oil for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables become tender.

Add the meat in a few batches, taking the time to break up any chunks with your spatula. I use ground meat (unless there is an extremely short line at the butcher counter, in which case I will purchase minced) and it helps if you break up the pieces as small as possible.

Fry for 15-20 minutes, until some crispy browned bits appear.

Deglaze with the wine, then add the milk, chicken stock, tomatoes and salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 4 hours.

While cooking, the sauce is going to look something like this. Do not be afraid. It’s more of an oil-based sauce (I know, I know—when you think ragu you think thick and tomato-ey, but this is a traditional version), and it’s not the prettiest to look at, but boy does it make up for it in taste.

When the 4 hours is up, adjust the seasoning one last time. Cook your favorite noodles (the recipe calls for tagliatelle but I had fettuccine on hand. I’m probably breaking some sacred Italian rule of sauce pairing but hey, I’m a rebel) and saute with a little bit of the sauce and a tiny bit of pasta water.

This may be the perfect Sunday supper. A warm, crusty bread, a green salad, and a steaming bowl of bolognese with parmesan on top? Heaven.

Enjoy. And if you’re looking to expand your pasta repertoire, I can’t recommend this book enough. And it’s not because I got it for free—everything I have made from it has been genuinely fantastic. And that’s why I can’t bear part with it.


Below is the original recipe, and here are my substitutions:

  • ground meat, not minced
  • beef, not veal
  • unsmoked bacon in place of pancetta
  • no chicken livers (duh)
  • fettuccine instead of tagliatelle (I have also used pappardelle and rigatoni; both of which work well)
  • I find that it serves more like 10 than 8. I like to freeze half of the sauce and we get two dinners out of the other half (this is Lucy’s favorite pasta, by the way).


Tagliatelle al Ragù Bolognese from The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand & Jacob Kenedy

This sauce is a million miles from the “Bol” that we Brits like to serve with pasta, which is about as close to the real McCoy as our chile con carne is to a true version. It is orange, not red; it is more oil-than water-based; it is delicate, creamy, aromatic and subtle. This is one of many recipes where the cooking technique is as important to the finished dish as the ingredients–buy best-quality pancetta and Parmesan, spend as much money as you can afford on the eggs and flour for your pasta (or the packaged tagliatelle), and the few pennies remaining on the other ingredients. There are words to describe how good this is, but they shouldn’t appear in print…

Serves 8

  • 1 3/4 pounds dried, or 2 1/4 pounds fresh, tagliatelle
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan, to serve

Ragù Bolognese

  • 1 lb minced pork
  • 1 lb minced veal (or beef)
  • 3 1/2 oz chicken livers (optional)
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 7 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 oz pancetta (not smoked), cut in strips
  • 1 1/3 c white wine
  • 2 1/4 c milk
  • 14 oz canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 c beef or chicken stock (optional; otherwise an additional 1 c milk)

It is worth having the butcher mince the meats coarsely (1/3 inch thick) for the improved texture. Peel and dice the carrot, dice the celery, chop the onion, and slice the garlic.

Take a very wide frying pan (12″) and melt the butter in the oil over a medium heat. Add the vegetables and pancetta along with a good pinch of salt, and saute for 10-15 minutes until softened. Increase the heat to high and add the meat in 4-5 additions, allowing time for any water to evaporate, stirring and breaking up any lumps with a spoon. After the last addition, wait until the pan starts to sputter slightly, then decrease the heat to medium and fry, stirring occasionally, until the meat has browned with a fair portion of crispy bits—about 15-20 minutes. Deglaze with the wine, then transfer to a saucepan along with the milk, tomatoes and stock as well as a good grinding of pepper and more salt to taste. Cook at a very low simmer, uncovered, for about 4 hours until the sauce is thick, more oil-than water-based (add a little stock or water if it dries too much or too quickly). When ready, the liquid will be as thick as heavy cream and, stirred up, the whole should be somewhat porridgy. Adjust the seasoning one last time.

The addition of bay and/or dried red pepper flakes along with the meat is heretical, if not displeasing.

Heat the ragù in a frying pan with a little pasta water. Drain the boiled pasta when marginally undercooked, then add to the sauce to finish cooking for about 20 seconds, with some butter. Serve with grated Parmesan on top.


creamy portobella pot roast

I’m here to settle a big debate. Here’s the sitch:

When you’re describing those big, fat delicious mushrooms known as portobello/as, do you say “portobello” or “portobella”?

This has bothered me for years. It’s kept me up many a sleepless night, tossing and turning and wondering which dang vowel to use. Happily, my friends over at the Mushroom Council (Yep. You heard me. Mushroom. Council.) have decided to put an end to the whole messy controversy and go with the feminine portobella.

Whew. Thank goodness for Mushroom Councils. Without them, who would settle volcanic debates that threaten to rip our nation in two? Our liberty, nay–our way of life is at stake here, people.

There goes my invitation to their annual conference.

At any rate, you’ve gotta pop by the market soon and pick up the goods for this loverly creamy portobella pot roast. It’s rich. It’s heart-warming. It will cook itself while you are at work.


Steal a 3-4 pound boneless pot roast from your butcher while he’s not looking. C’mon. Variety is the spice of life, folks. Being a law abiding citizen is totally overrated.

Rinse and pat dry. And I mean dry. Julia Child will come and smack you over the head with a Le Creuset if you don’t. Or Meryl Streep. Either way, both are big women and Le Creuset is some heavy friggin cookware. You wouldn’t survive.

Season with salt and pepper.

Next, scrub down 10-12 yukon gold potatoes. Or reds. Or fingerlings. Whatever makes your hanky go panky.

Grab four portobella mushrooms. Wipe ’em down with a damp paper towel and see how much soil comes off. You’re glad you cleaned ’em down, eh?

You can be lazy and rinse them, but only if you want to experience the wrath of a Le Creuset to your noggin.

You need one yellow onion. Or as I like to call them: yellah.

Also grab about a cup and a half of baby carrots…

…some gahhhlic…

…and one can of cream of mushroom soup. But don’t tell anyone about the Campbell’s. My reputation would be ruined.

But we all know that’s a lie.

To make up for the use of a canned soup, grab a bottle of really good red wine. I know, I know. I’m a conundrum. You’ll need about one cup.

Alright, it doesn’t have to be good red wine–I was opening this bottle for a special occasion anyway, so I figured a cup could be sacrificed for the sake of pot roast. A $10 bottle would work just fine. But seriously, folks: don’t cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink.

Now, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. We need to brown the meat, my darlings.

Brown quickly on all sides, using tongs to turn, and remove from heat.

Layer some of the potatoes and carrots in the bottom of your slow cooker insert. If you have a small Crock or prefer super-soft potatoes, you will want to chop the potatoes beforehand. I like my taters whole, and I have a big dang Crock, so I just tossed ’em in. Lay the roast on top.

If I can help it, I don’t like to lay a roast directly on the bottom of the Crock. The edges can tend to get overcooked if they’re touching the pan.

Now then. Peel your onion and hack it in half.

Give it a rough chop. You don’t want your pieces too small.

Chop off the stems of your portobellas…

…and slice those bee-youtiful mushrooms into half inch pieces.

Peel the amount of garlic you’d like to add. I’m crazy. I add a metric ton of garlic to everything I cook. You do what feels right–anywhere in the range of 4-8 cloves is pretty reasonable for this dish.

Mince those suckers up.

Throw the rest of the carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and garlic on top of the roast.

Now we need to make the sauce. Roast can’t cook without liquid, people. Crack that can of cream of mushroom and stir in one cup of wine.

I know, I know. It looks kind of like a lavender mess. But I promise the results will be delicious.

Add a little bit of salt and pepper and get ready to cook this sucker.

Add a bay leaf to the mix and give the whole thing as good of a stir as you can manage. Once it cooks down a little bit you can give it a more proper stir.

Cover and cook on low for at least 8 hours.

See? No more purple distaster here. What’s left are tender potatoes, scrumptious portobellas, meat that falls apart at the touch of a fork and some fragrant broth to tie it all together.

This hearty wintry dish goes great with a big hunk of crusty bread.

This is totally decadent.

Mmmm. Warms my cold February tummy. And the Mushroom Council would be so proud.

Make this for a delicious, warming weekend meal.



Creamy Portobella Pot Roast

Serves 6-8

  • 3-4 pound boneless pot roast, rinsed, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 portobella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 10-12 small potatoes (yukon gold, baby red, or fingerling), chopped if desired
  • 1 1/2 cups baby carrots
  • 4-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium-high heat in frying pan. Quickly brown meat on all sides and remove from heat. Create a small layer of potatoes and carrots on the bottom of slow cooker insert. Lay roast on top. Add the rest of the potatoes and carrots on top of the roast, as well as the garlic, mushrooms and onion. Mix together the cream of mushroom soup and the wine in a separate bowl; add to slow cooker. Add bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Serve immediately.