What’s For Din Din

Aug 11

Cuban Chicken Pizza

FYI – This post is long overdue but here we go:

So after experiencing a lackluster cooking class at Lenore Nolan Ryan’s Cooking School , my girlfriends and I started our own little cooking club.

I was the hosting the first one and I decided to use an easy recipe that I’ve used before. I’ve learned many times never to make a recipe for guests that you’ve never made before. :) It never turns out good. (However, there are exceptions) The theme of the night was latin night and I chose to demonstrate Cuban Chicken Pizza. I actually got this recipe from my sister back when we were both living in New York. She found it in Cooking Light Magazine and has since been a recipe I use  quite often.

Move over Taco Night, Cuban Chicken Pizza is here. (Ok I lied, Taco Night will never go away, but you should still enjoy this recipe!)

Cuban Chicken Pizza Close

Cuban Chicken Pizza

  • 4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (11-ounce) can no salt-added whole-kernel corn, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (Cumin Powder will work as well)
  • 2 cups diced roasted chicken breast
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Place flour tortillas on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from the oven; stack and press down to flatten. Set aside.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add corn to pan, and cook 1 minute or until lightly charred. Add cumin seeds; cook 5 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chicken, black beans, and garlic; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice.
  • Place tortillas on baking sheet. Spoon 3/4 cup bean mixture onto each tortilla; top each with 3 tablespoons of cheese. Bake at 350° for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts. Sprinkle each pizza with 1 teaspoon cilantro.

Cooking Light

(I realized when hosting a dinner party, it is very hard to manage taking stellar pictures and still serve warm food. )

Cuban Chicken Pizza Cheese


Cuban Chicken Pizza Cheese

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Jun 11

Cooking School: Pepper Roasted Chicken

I recently had a girls night at Lenore’s Cooking School.  I had no idea what to expect as the only other cooking class I took was at Publix and that was demonstration only.

My typical self was running 5- 10 minutes late and arrived to Lenore speaking to the guests of the class.

Cooking Class Intro

The class was titled Fast Food Fresh! Sassy Weekday Meals.

On the menu: Honey Garlic Lamb Kebabs, Spicy Salmon with Corn and Tomatoes and Pepper Roasted Chicken

Now my first impression was that we were going to be able to make all of the things on menu. I was quite wrong.

There was six stations – 2 stations for each meal on the menu.

The girls and I quickly went for the Pepper Roasted Chicken.

Pepper Roasted Chicken


2 teaspoons black pepper

5 5oz chickenbreasts

5 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 cups baby potatoes, sliced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

A bag of baby spinach leaves

Honey Mustard Dressing

2 Tablespoons mustard & Chopped Tarragon

3 Tablespoons of Minced red onions

2 Tablespoons honey

2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

Combine the mustard, onions, honey and vinegar in a bowl and stir to combine.  Drizzle in the olive oil. Set Aside.

Directions for Chicken

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the carrots and potatoes in some olive oil, tarragon, salt and pepper.

Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the pepper over the chicken and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet with the carrot and potato.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through

Toss the fresh spinach and warm potatoes and carrots. Place on a plate top with chicken and spoon over the dressing to serve.


The only thing I can actually say I learned was how to “properly” dice an onion. If you saw the way I tried to dice an onion, you would just laugh.  Don’t go the easy route by using a food processor, you don’t want it to be a watery consistency.

When cutting an onion… “the root is the core“.  So remember to leave the root on the onion and to slice towards to the root but still leaving the root.

Diced Onion

I would say that this honey mustard was actually quite good, but it took some time to get to the right taste buds that we were looking for.  Lenore’s assistant told us not to measure the oil, and quite frankly I did not feel comfortable “not measuring”. Luckily when you cook, you adapt!  So we added more mustard and more vinegar till we got to the taste we were going for.

Honey Mustard Ingredients

I’ve never made honey mustard this way.  I usually take the easy route and combine Honey and Spicy Mustard. It works just as well :)

Honey Mustard

Potatoes and Carrots Poured on Chicken

Potatoes Carrots and Chicken

The girls and I with our dish

Girls and Our Dish Pepper Roasted Chicken

This is so easy to make and I plan to make it again.

Pepper Roasted Chicken Plated

Overview:  Now the food was delicious, but to be honest I didn’t feel like we learned anything and we certainly did not learn how to cook the other two items on the menu. It felt like we used their kitchen and just followed the recipe on the menu.

I really loved how bubbly Lenore was at first.  Then every time I went to ask her a question or make a comment she would walk away. She reminds me of Rachael Ray. I hate Rachel Ray.

We later find out at the end of the class, that they charged $5  for every glass of wine we had.

My friends and I have another Living Social Coupon to go to Lenore’s Cooking School, but otherwise I don’t think I would go back there.  Unless she changes the way she sets up her classes.

The girls and I decided after the class that we are gonna do a monthly cook and learn at our places. Looking forward to the first one!

For those that have been to hands on cooking classes, how are they structured?  Do you learn more at demonstration?

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Apr 11

From NYC to the Poconos – Roasted and Herb Crusted Lamb Loin

While I’m planning my next successful dish to follow up my chocolate covered matzo (which got #1 on foodbuzz and I was overjoyed with excitement, thank you everyone who buzzed me to the top!), I wanted to introduce you to my friend Holly who hopefully will be a regular guest blogger. I previously mentioned Holly in my Food in Paris post. She spent 3 months in Paris  last summer and I was lucky enough to be able to visit her while she was there. Check out her blog on her Paris Adventures. It will make anyone jealous!


After spending the past summer in France, I didn’t come back with a keen sense of the language or a new desire to become an artist.  What I did pick up in the land of haute cuisine was a renewed appetite for good food and a desire to brush up on my culinary skills.  It was this new found interest that propelled me to scour New York City in search of outlets for my passion.

Luckily enough for me, New York is also in the midst of its own foodie love affair and it was easier than ever for me to find inexpensive and creative cooking classes, join other like minded faux chefs in renegade cooking clubs and indulge in my new hobby by baking and cooking for friends and the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen.

One of the first cooking classes I signed up for this year was at a place called Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center in Brooklyn.  The center hosts hands-on cooking classes, lectures and events for both adults and children on various topics and cuisines.  They also promote healthy and sustainable living (they compost scraps from classes!) and a sense of community.  Ger-Nis is located in south Brooklyn, near the Gowanus Canal, and is also available for rental and usage for events, video taping and recipe testings.  Check them out if you are in the New York area.

I recruited a friend and we decided to try a dinner class so that we could learn to prepare a full meal we could then replicate for friends while away for a weekend in the Poconos.  The lamb roast dinner that we made during our class was delicious!  I recommend the recipe to anyone who enjoys a good roast, as it was fairly easy to prepare and can fool your guests into thinking you are a much better cook than you may or may not already be!

While away with friends in the Poconos we prepared the roast and it was a HUGE success!  Eight people devoured an 8 lb lamb in less than an hour.  There is nothing better than good friends, good food and some good wine.  But don’t take my word, try it for yourself!


Grating and zesting in preparation for our big meal

The Veggies
8 pounds 2 ounces and a beautiful shade of pink!
Lamb in Pan
The girls handled the meat this trip and boy was it good!
Lamb Being Cut
PBR- Wine, Guinness, Miller Light, how’d this get in there?
PBR - Pabst Blue Ribbon
Chocolate Stout cake was a huge crowd pleaser- even at breakfast the next morning!
Chocolate Stout Cake
Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center
Roast Lamb Dinner
Teacher: Orianne Cosentino

(courtesy of Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center)
Serves 6


3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
¼ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 (4 pounds) boneless lamb leg roast, tied


Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, garlic, herbs, cumin and salt. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan, over high heat, add canola oil. Add lamb and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and smear the top of roast with mustard and herb mixture.

Put lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and cook for (20 minutes per pound) 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 130°F for medium-rare or 140°F for medium. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes.

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Mar 11

Chicken Piccata

It’s about time for another post from me… well sorta. This one comes straight from my mom, well at least the recipe and pictures do.

Ever since I started this blog I’ve been trying to get my friends and family to guest post. It’s either they don’t know what to write or they forget to take pictures.  At this point, I’ll take what I can get from them and figure it out from there.

On another note, I like to say I inspired my friend to start a food blog, an Indian food blog.  I’m not sure if she would give me the credit for inspiring her but I like to think so.  She hasn’t official launched it and won’t tell me the name of it, but once she does, I will be sharing it on here.

Now on to the recipe shared by my mom…

Chicken Piccata

Serves 4
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

The Chicken Piccata Recipe comes from my favorite cook book.  It’s called Calico Pantry.  It is made up of  recipes  contributed to the charity United Cerebral Palsy  association of Nassau County, New York.  I’ve had this cookbook for 36 years.  The recipes are great and always come out perfect!! Even if you can’t cook you can’t go wrong  making any of these dishes.

From  the loud New Yorker : )

(BTW – ever since I wrote about finding a cookbook and referred to her as a loud NewYorker, she won’t let it go and now refers to herself as the loud New Yorker)


Ingredients Chicken Piccata

2 tbsp. Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 1/2 lb. Chicken cutlet
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


1 tbsp. Butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup wine


Combine flour,salt, and pepper to coat chicken.  In hot butter, saute chicken until well browned.  Add wine,lemon, and parsley and simmer,covered, for ten minutes.  Remove chicken to serving platter and keep warm.   Discard lemon or keep for use as garnish.

Chicken Piccata


Slowly heat butter in same skillet (pan).  Beat egg yolk with wine.  Slowly  add

To butter in skillet, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat stirring until sauce is thickened and hot.  Pour over chicken and  serve.

Chicken Piccata Sauce
Chicken Piccata Close up
Chicken Piccata close upChicken Piccata on Plate

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Jan 11

Chicken Fricassee

In my previous post, I mentioned I started making the mozzarella, tomato and basil appetizer after attending a potluck dinner with friends.  Potlucks are great because you get to taste things that you never had before and get the recipe. Now this recipe, I started making after having potluck at the office.  I actually had to beg my coworker Jessica for this recipe.  It took her a while, like a few months, to give it to me.  I think she was just being lazy, but I finally got it.  I’ve made this dish so many times now, but I can still never make it the way she did.  I think she just didn’t give me the right directions.  However, the way I make it still tastes great, hence why I continue to make this dish all the time.

Another reason why I make this dish is because of these guys below. Let me introduce you to them, Miss Tomato, Mr Pepper and Mr Onion. These veggies are like my staples. I constantly use these 3 guys when cooking.  I know I need to expand and try new things but with these veggies you can always find something to cook even on a rainy day.

tomato onion pepper

Boneless Skinless Thin Chicken Breast
Sazon with Coriander and Annatto ( Goya sells pre-packaged packets)
Chicken Bouillon
Peppers – red, green, yellow
Extra Virgina Olive Oil
White Vineger
Can of Dice Tomatoes or Fresh Tomatoes
Sugar (optional)
Hot Sauce (optional)
white cooking wine


Cut Onion and Peppers into small pieces.  Take about 2 cloves of garlic and mince finely.

chopped onion pepper tomato


Prepare a pot of water for boiling.  Add salt, pepper, a little bit of olive oil and a cap of vinegar.  Once boiling, add chicken and reduce heat and cover.

While chicken is boiling:

In a saucepan, add enough Olive Oil to coat the bottom on the pan evenly.  Turn on to high and add minced garlic and chopped onions and peppers.  Allow to simmer for a minute, then reduce heat.  You will then add the dice tomatoes, coriander and annatto, chicken bouillon.  You will add salt, pepper and hot sauce to your own taste.

veggies in pan

Taste dish once all ingredients are added and then add sugar based on acidity

Once everything is in the saucepan – bring to a boil, uncovered for a minutes while stirring.  When I make this dish, there was never enough liquid to boil. I just keep it on simmer.

Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is done.  If you see the sauce has reduced too much, add some of the water from the pot where the chicken is boiling in. (I use cooking wine as I noticed the first few times of making this, the water diluted the flavor of the dish)

When chicken is done, remove the chicken and place on cutting board and begin to shred the chicken.  You can either use your hands or a fork and knife.  Once all chicken is shredded, add to saucepan.

shredded chicken and veggies

Once chicken is added, bring to a boil for a couple of minutes, reduce heat and cover for about 5 minutes then remove from heat.  (Again, I keep it on simmer because if I kept it on boil, the dish would dry out).

Bon Appetite

chicken friscassee

chicken fricassee


Usually potlucks you would hope to  get the correct recipe to follow, but if not you just have to adapt to your taste, experiment with flavors and hopefully it will turn out delicious.

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Jan 11

Simple Meals: Twice Cooked Angel Hair Pasta with Tomatoes

Since bringing in the New Year, I actually have avoided cooking a real meal/ taking on a new recipe.  Call it lazy, procrastination, whatever you want. I know I’m not the only one. You know who you are! :)

Tonight I decided to make an easy meal that I’ve made many times.  I don’t exactly have a name for it so I called it Twice Cooked Angel Hair Pasta with Tomatoes.   This may not be the healthiest meal, but trust me once you make it once you’ll definitely be making it again.

angel hair with tomatoes

Angel Hair Pasta
Tomatoes – Diced
Garlic Salt
Adobo Seasoning
Protein of Choice- I use Shrimp or  Chopped Chicken Strips
Olive Oil


Do your normal routine of cooking pasta in a pot of boiling water. Drain water in a strainer.  Now heat up a large frying pan with olive oil on medium low heat.  Once pan has been heated, put in the cooked pasta in the pan. Make sure the pasta has been coated with olive oil, you may need to add more olive oil to make sure the pasta does not get dried out.  Add Garlic Salt, Adobo Seasoning and Pepper to taste. After a few minutes of the pasta cooking in the pan, add the fresh cut diced tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes have softened.  Lastly, add your cooked protein into pan and your dish is now complete.

For your protein, lightly season it with salt and pepper and cook in a pan

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Dec 10

Breaking the tradition – Christmas for Jews

A typical Christmas for Jews is Chinese food and the movies. Not by choice but because they are the only places that are open on Christmas.  This year my sister had her husband’s family in town and decided to have a get together. It was quite a smorgasbord of food. I was just happy not to be eating Chinese food.


Clam Dip – made specially by me.  (Recipe to follow)
Candied Salami
Platter of cheeses
Warm Onion Cheese Dip


Baked Ziti
Baked Chicken Wings
Greek Shish Kabobs

Now that I have started this blog, I’m obsessed with taking pictures of food. I took about 250 pictures yesterday and I think 150 were just of food alone. I had to take the perfect picture to post. Continue reading →

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Dec 10

Recipe Exchange #1:Chicken and Brown Rice de Provonce

I previously mentioned in an earlier post about the Recipe Exchange, I sadly only received 1 recipe. I was in shock. People are no fun these days. I’m tempted to reply to everyone and yell at them over email for not participating.  I digress.

Anyways, even though I only received 1 recipe, I  said I was going to make whatever recipes came my way and here it is:

Chicken and Brown Rice de Provonce ingredients

4 Chicken Breasts or other parts

1 Can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 Cup Brown Rice

3-4 Stalks of Celery

1 Large Onion

¾ Cup of Water or Chicken Broth

¼ Cup White Wine

1 Tablespoon Herbs de Provonce

1-2 Tablespoons Butter

Salt and Pepper to Taste

In pan on stove cook the chopped celery and onion in butter until beginning to soften.  Add wine to deglaze pan and mix in soup.  Then add vegetable mixture to the baking dish with the broth and brown rice.  Arrange the raw chicken on top of the rice bake in a 375 oven with a cover for 30 min to an hour, remove cover for last 10-15 minutes of cooking.  Cook until chicken cook and rice tender.  If rice is dry add more broth or water during cooking.

Notes: Herbs de Provonce was not easy to find, they do not sell it at the regular grocery store, I had to go to Fresh Market to pick up a jar

This was the first time making the dish for me and I did not have a picture to go by.  I realized as I was making the dish, it did not specify what to do with the Herbs de Provonce. I mixed the tablespoon of spice in the soup mixture.  As I was cooking it, I was hoping that the chicken would absorb the flavor from the rice mixture. No such luck, the chicken looked very bland.  Around 30 minutes in, I decided to add Herbs de Provonce on top of the chicken.

Judgement Time: I was not fan of this dish, at least not the chicken. The Herbs de Provonce is very potent, you can taste the lavender which I think you need an acquired taste for.  I would season the chicken with salt and pepper  prior to baking it next time.  However, I will say that the rice mixture was delicious. :)


chicken dish

chicken rice

Update: See Michelle’s comment as she is the one who provided the recipe and she explained what she did differently.

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Dec 10

Spanish Garlic Shrimp Gambas al Ajillo

So a couple of months ago, I went to Publix Apron’s Cooking School with my friend Kim.  This was actually my first experience going to a cooking class and was excited to find out that it was hands on, to only later find out that it was demonstration.  We made the most of the demonstration class, it was only $45 dollars plus we get to eat everything they make and enjoy wine while we have chefs cook for us.

They demonstrated the following:

Spanish Garlic Shrimp Gambas al Ajillo
Pinchos Mixtos with Saffron Alioli
Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Medallions (Solomillo De Cerda)
Vanilla Flan

Now while I was at this cooking class, I did not have a blog or a camera on me.  This won’t happen again.  However, I did try to make one of the dishes at home.

The Spanish Garlic Shrimp Gambas al Ajillo


1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 ounces of dry sherry
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon for juice
1 Baguette


In a saute pan or heavy frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for about one minute or until they begin to brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic! Raise the heat to high and add the shrimp, lemon juice, sherry or cognac and paprika. Stir well, then saute, stirring briskly until the shrimp turn pink curl – about 3 minutes

Remove from heat and transfer shrimp with oil and sauce to a warm plate or serve right from the pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with Parsley. Serve with fresh crusty bread.


Now these pictures below are actually my 3rd attempt at making them.  I was so excited from the class that I actually tried to make this meal with items that I had in the house the next day.  Let’s just say that did not go over well.  The 3rd attempt I actually follow the recipe exactly, it came out a bit too spicy.  It had to be the red pepper flakes.  Either there was too much or the level of how spicy these flakes were … were over-powering. However, it was actually “edible” and and could handle the spiciness.

Please note these pictures were taken with my blackberry, I plan on starting to use my Nikon D60 moving forward, except when I’m at restaurants.


Spice in Pan

Frozen Shrimp In Pan

Shrimp in broth

Final Dish

Next Stop – Lenore Nolan Ryan’s Cooking School
I was able to buy a session through living social for half off. $22 not a bad deal! I’ll be sure to report about my class when I go.

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Nov 10

Tilapia With Lemon Butter Sauce

Occasionally, I like to try to cook something new to eat for dinner instead of cooking the same old boring meal, unless its Taco Night. Taco Night never gets old. Now when I’m lazy which happens a lot after a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is spend time trying to master a dish I’ve never made before. However, today I was walking through Publix, and they happen to making a dish. I was actually in shock because the Publix that I buy my groceries from never has anyone at the Simple Meals Station cooking anything. So I sampled the dish, Tilapia With Lemon Butter Sauce and Angel Hair Fresca. (Sidenote: Tilapia happens to be my favorite fish right now, so I will be talking about Tilapia in future posts.) My taste buds liked it and the fact that the recipe was easy won me over.  I also happen to have a few of the ingredients at home already. Publix sells prepackaged frozen Tilapia, this is always good to have around the house when you don’t feel like getting groceries. I do this with frozen shrimp as well.  Most fish are frozen and then thawed out anyways, so it doesn’t make a difference unless you fish for you dinner that day. Good luck with that one, well unless you’re a fisherman of course. Publix definitely has quite a collection of recipes to browse through although it helps that they let you sample it there and decide if you like it before you actually cook it.

Tilapia With Lemon Butter Sauce    


2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 lemon
1 1/2 lb tilapia fillets (thawed)
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
4 teaspoons flour, divided
Large zip-top bag
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup white wine

  • Chop parsley; cut lemon in half. Set both aside.
  • Check fish for bones (wash hands).


  1. Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Place seasoned salt and 3 teaspoons flour in zip-top bag; shake to mix. Add fish to zip-top bag; seal tightly and shake to coat.

2. Place 1 tablespoon butter in pan, then add fish; cook 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon butter to center of pan. Turn fillets, using spatula, and distribute butter under each fillet. Cook 3 more minutes or until fish is golden and flakes easily. Transfer fish to serving plates.

grilled tilapia

Add wine, and remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon flour to pan; squeeze juice of lemon into pan. Heat and stir 1–2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in parsley and serve butter sauce over fish.

Angel Hair Fresca

8 oz angel hair pasta
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sun-dried tomato pesto


  1. Fill large saucepan half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil on high for pasta.
  2. Stir pasta into boiling water; boil 1 minute. Stir in broccoli; boil and stir 4 minutes or until tender.
  3. Drain pasta mixture. Add butter to saucepan, using residual heat to melt butter. Stir in tomato pesto and pasta mixture; toss to mix and serve.

tilapia simple recipes

I dedicate this post to Publix Apron’s Simple Meals — thanks for din tonight! Muy delicioso!

Tilapia on Foodista

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