Easy Tangy Citrus Chicken

Lemon Chicken

I love lemon. I love how it makes you pucker. I love how it makes everything smell fresh. I love that lemon can be used to counter a dish that tastes too sweet, or too rich, or just flat.

But the hubs hates lemon. He has this weird lemon radar, that goes off at even the slightest detection of tang.

“Baby, whats in this?”

“Nothing weird, just try it.”

“There’s lemon in here, isn’t there…”


I was craving Greek chicken, marinated in lemon juice and olive oil, baked in the oven alongside wedges of potatoes. But alas, I didn’t want to cook a different dish for my lemon-phobic love. So I came up with this simple citrus chicken. The oven was hot enough to crisp the skin, while leaving the meat nice and juicy. It was tasty served over rice, with the pan juices from the chicken and orange slices spooned over-top. Just add a simple green salad to round out the meal, perhaps with a honey-lemon vinaigrette? *sigh* Or not.


Easy Tangy Citrus Chicken


1 cup of orange juice

2 tbls olive oil

2 tbls honey

1 tsp dried rosemary

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried oregano

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

For chicken

Cooking spray

4 chicken thighs or 2 chicken breast, skin-on & bone-in

1 medium orange, sliced

1. Combine marinade ingredients into a gallon zip-top bag. Wisk to combine.

2. Add chicken to marinade and place bag into a bowl to catch drips. Marinate in fridge for at least an hour or up to overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Apply cooking spray to a lipped sheet pan. Arrange chicken and orange slices on sheet pan. Discard marinade.

4. Cook chicken until skin is crispy and meat is cooked to 165 degrees, about 30 minutes.

Lemon Chicken


Filipino chicken soup (tinola manok)

Chicken tinola

I meant to post this recipe last week, but life got in the way. I’m not complaining though. It was all the good things in life. Birthdays, fall photos, spending time with the hubs and little one. I had this intention of setting up a schedule for the blog, of updating it on specific days so that I would not get lazy and let things slide. But last week the leaves were changing and the weather was perfect; there was not a day where I wanted to sit down and write. I wanted to get out and live. And so I did.

My mom is a great cook, as is my dad. This is one of my favorite recipes of theirs, warm and comforting, it reminds me of home. Normally it is made with green papaya and hot pepper leaves, but chayote and baby spinach are appropriate substitutes. The carrot is an unusual addition, but I thought it gave the dish a little needed color.

I may be 14 hours and a border away, but this dish takes me home.

Chicken tinola

Filipino Chicken Soup (tinola manok)

2 pounds chicken pieces (I used thighs)
1 thumb size ginger root, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium chayote or green papaya, cut into wedges
12 ounce bag of organic baby spinach
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce (Patis)
3 cups of low sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp canola oil
Salt and pepper

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add chicken, ginger and garlic and cook until chicken is slightly browned.

2. Add stock and Patis and bring to a boil. Lower heat to barely a simmer and poach until chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Skip any scum and fat if necessary.

3. Add chayote and carrot and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

4. Turn off stove and add spinach, stirring until it is wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Savory Guinness Stew Hand Pies with Flaky Cheddar Crust

Guinness Pie

There’s something magical that happens to stout when you cook with it. Its chocolate undertones become more pronounced, as if the heat has broken down the beer’s molecules into its essential components, love and chocolate. What is that you say? Stout is made from water, and perhaps roasted barley, hops and yeast? Maybe literally, but figuratively, when that long-simmered stout reaches my tongue, my taste buds scream chocolate. Oh, and I love you.

Thats why, when presented with several pounds of chuck roast and little time to put things together, that stout came to mind. The little one had been taking up most of my attention this week, with her little nose running, and her little feet scampering into who-knows-what. So, not having any time to even brown the meat, I cubed it and chucked it into a crock pot with onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. And of course two (that’s right) bottles of Guinness. After a day at work, we came home to the heavenly smell of simmering beef.

While browning the meat may have made the stew that much better; I’m thinking the second bottle of beer almost made up for the lack of fond (you know, the brown bits left from browning meat). Also, all of that chocolately stout disguised any paleness of the beef as a result of my laziness.

The first night, we ate the stew with a simple crisp green salad and delicious popovers. The second night was on its own, although I had planned to serve it over a bowl of white rice. On the third night, the stew was wrapped up by a  flaky cheddar crust and eaten as a hand pie. Yes, this recipe makes a lot of stew. And yes, the third iteration was my favorite. Serve the stew naked or as a pie; brown the beef, or choose not to. Either way, make sure you use two bottles of stout, and make sure you listen as your taste buds proclaim their love.

Guinness Pie

Check out that flaky crust!

Guinness Pie

Savory Guinness Beef Stew

2-3 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1 inch cubes
5-6 large organic carrots, cut into large cubes
8 ounces white button or crimini mushrooms, sliced in half
4 stems organic celery, cut into large cubes
1 large onion, cubed
2 tbls. tomato paste
1 tbls. brown sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 cup fresh flat leaved parsley, chopped
1 tbls. salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth
2 bottles Guinness or similar stout
4 tbls. butter
4 tbls flour
1 egg, lightly beaten.

1. Set crockpot to low, add meat, followed by vegetables, tomato paste, she and herbs.
2. Mix in liquids and gently stir to combine all.
3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Adjust seasoning if required.
4. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir on flour and mix for five minutes.
5. Whisk in a couple of ladle culls of the stew broth into flour and butter. Once it has the flour mix has dissolved, add the rest of the broth and bring to a boil to thicken.
6. Add the thickened broth back to crockpot and serve in bowls.

Hand Pies
Prepared stew
Flaky cheddar crust
1. Cool stew and roll out dough.
2. Cut dough into 5 inch diameter circles.
3. Place 1-2 tbls filling in the center or the circles.
4. Fold over dough and seal with a fork. Brush tops with egg, and create vent holes.
5. Place pies on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
6. Bake for 25-30 mins, or until golden brown.

Asian pork al pastor

Pork tacos

Asian pork al pastor, that’s a bit of a contradiction, isn’t it? There are cooks who cringe at the bastardization of traditional recipes. How dare I use soy sauce as a substitute for achiote, as there are absolutely no similarities between the two. This is know, but I needed something for color and flavor, and when I added some minced ginger, garlic and sesame oil and the Asian pork al pastor was born. Do not judge, until you try it.

Grilling is definitely the best method to cook the pork. After marinating in pineapple overnight, the meat is made so tender from the fruit’s enzymes that it is almost falling apart. So you certainly need some kind of grid to place on the grill grates if you decide that this is the way to go. The other option is to cook the meat in a pan in the stove top, but you won’t achieve the same smokey results. Also, if you fire up the grill, you may as well grill your tortillas as well. The combination of the sweet, tender pork, smokey tortillas and the spicy pineapple salsa is a classic one, with a bit of an Asian twit. Because that’s how I roll.

Ignore the weird shadows cast by the window blinds...

Ignore the weird shadows cast by the window blinds…

Loosely adapted from Steven Raichlen’s Tacos al Pastor


1 cup sliced pineapple in juice

1/2 medium onion

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp minced ginger

1 tbls minced garlic

1 tbls sesame oil

1 whole jalapeno


2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of fat, cut into 1/4 inch slices

corn or flour tortillas

pineapple salsa


1. Add all marinade ingredients into a blender. Puree until smooth. Combine marinade and sliced pork into a large ziploc bag, mix, seal and place into a large bowl. Allow to marinate in fridge for at least 4 hours and up to one day.

2. Preheat grill to medium high heat.

3. Drain pork from marinade and grill on a grill grid or basket over medium high heat until center of meat is no longer pink.

4. Once pork is cooked, wrap in foil to keep warm.

5. Grill tortillas until warm and blistered in some spots. Serve pork on tortillas with pineapple salsa.

Classic spaghetti and meatballs

Classic spaghetti and meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs. Quintessentially comforting, a warm hug of pasta strands, sweet and tangy tomato sauce, and satisfyingly meaty balls. It also conjures up a notable SNL sketch with Alec Baldwin and two NPR radio hosts, but I digress. Spaghetti and meatballs may be a simple thing, but it often can go wrong in so many ways. Unrecognizable meat, canned sauce, and mushy pasta a la Chef Boyardee comes to mind, but even an attempt at homemade meatballs may bring about tough meat if mixed with too heavy of a hand or with the wrong proportions of meat. My 5th grade international fair saw my first attempt at the dish, and since then I have been trying replicate it. Seriously, it was that good my friends. Sadly, I did not write down the recipe, nor do I remember where I got it from. All I do remember was that the mix involved fresh bread crumbs, ground pork and beef and grated cheese.

What follows is the culmination of twenty odd years of experimenting with different ratios of pork and beef, fresh breadcrumbs versus dried, Parmesan or Romano. It is a very loose adaptation of Epicurious’ popular Spaghetti with Sicilian meatballs

The magic ratio here is 2 parts ground chuck to one part ground pork. More pork and the meatballs aren’t beefy enough, too much beef and they lose that yielding tenderness. Soaking the breadcrumbs in milk also adds to the succulent texture of the meatballs. While finishing their cooking in the simple sauce causes them to release their juices to create a lovely, unctuous tomatoey gravy. Top it all with a sprinkling of nutty parm, and you end up with a delicious dish. Good times, good times.


Yields 8 servings

Tomato Sauce
3 cans (28 oz) organic crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
2 tsp (or more) red pepper flakes
1 tbls dried oregano
1 tbls sugar

Grated Parmesan, for serving.

1 lb ground pork
2 lbs ground beef chuck
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup organic Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
3 slices bread, torn into large crumbs
1/2 organic milk
3 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Meatball preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position racks evenly in the oven.
2. Combine meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly, but lightly with hands moistened with water.
3. Using hands, shape out 2 inch meatballs, scooping out the meat and gently rolling it into a ball using the palm of your hand. Take care not to compress the meat too much as this results in a dense meatball.
4. Continue to roll out balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. You should have about 24 meatballs in total on 2 cookie sheets.
5. Bake meatballs for 30 mins. Do not worry if meatballs are not cooked all the way through, they will finish cooking in the sauce.

Sauce preparation
1. Sauté onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat, until translucent.
2. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.
3. Let sauce simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally until meatballs are done.
4. Once meatballs are done, add to the simmering sauce, removing any solid fat that may have adhered to the meatballs.
5. Simmer sauce and meatballs over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pasta preparation
1. While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
2. After adding meatballs to sauce, add pasta to the boiling water.
3. Cook pasta according to directions, or until al dente.
4. Drain pasta and assemble dish, serving 2-3 meatballs per person. Top with grated parmesan.

There will be plenty of leftover meatballs, which are great as leftovers, or assembled on a nice crusty roll with mozzarella as a sandwich. Leftovers meatballs in sauce also freeze well, and can be defrosted in the microwave.