simple

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As I’ve mentioned, Giada DeLaurentiis is one of my favorite chefs and TV personalities. Giada was trained at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and while there she picked up on the Parisian philosophy surrounding food, which is essentially quality over quantity. A great Parisian meal could entail several hunks of exceptional artisan cheese, some crusty, thick slices of French bread, and a glass of wine. It’s a simple but fulfilling meal.

Last night I took a cue from this philosophy and made a clean, Parisian-inspired meal of my own. It’s all about incorporating a myriad of rich flavors without being overindulgent. Although a departure from my traditional comfort food go-to, spaghetti, it’s a dish that is satisfying in it’s own right and is just as fun to eat as it is to prepare. Bon appetit!

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[red pepper flakes and curry powder are the stars of this show]

There’s nothing better than a quiet night in after a long, exhausting, cold winter day. Yesterday was one of those days where I was too tired to fix dinner so I resorted to a no-muss no-fuss meal, and last night my din du jour happened to be popcorn. Yes, I ate popcorn for dinner … sorry Mom, I know that’s disappointing. However, I doctored up my popcorn [per usual] with some unexpected ingredients that kicked this typically ho-hum snack into a full-flavored force to be reckoned with.

In the words of Rachel Zoe, I die for curry. I even have a sweet little spice pot from Anthropologie that’s sole purpose is to house curry. I’ve been using curry as the secret spice in my popcorn for awhile now and this is one secret I don’t mind sharing.

[wearing Forever 21 nail polish in silver as seen here. how festive am i?]

Throw some curry powder and red pepper flakes [about one teaspoon each, as you see fit] onto your next batch of microwave popcorn [oh the shame] and I’m telling you, you’ll never look back. It’s spicy, it’s flavorful, it’s easy – what’s not to love?

[do you like my miniature tree in the background? more to come on that jazz]


[curry popcorn + national lampoon's christmas vacation, done and done.]

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[doughnut muffins]

These cute bite-sized treats are just doughnuts stealthily disguised as muffins. By nature, muffins are healthy, therefore by definition these are healthy doughnuts, a rarity I know. These are baked, unlike their deep-friend amigos, and I do use whole-wheat flour + skim milk so they’re relatively innocent.

Doughnut Muffins

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour [if you only have white all-purpose, use that]
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk [I used skim, use whatever you have on hand]

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line mini muffin tray with paper liners or grease tray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream oil and 1 cup sugar; beat in egg. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Stir flour into egg mixture alternately with milk. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. While muffins bake, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Remove muffins from pan and let cool for 5 minutes. While muffins are still warm, roll muffins in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  4. [I was having trouble getting the cinnamon sugar mixture to stick to the muffins so I added this step] Make a simple syrup with equal parts cinnamon, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil and dip muffin tops in simple syrup. Re-dip in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Share and make instant friends.

*adapted from recipe at allrecipes.com

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It was a cold, windy, rainy night here in Chicago – the perfect weather to watch some Real Housewives, catch up on magazines, and bake a batch of no-fuss brownies. Good thing I always keep a box of brownie mix in the pantry for times like this. One box of Jiffy fudge brownie mix, a handful of marshmallows, some mini milk-chocolate chips, and a dash of Reese’s pieces [mini for baking] later I had a plate of my kitchen-sink brownies. And, now my entire apartment smells like velvety chocolate, one of the upsides of living in a small space.

Kitchen-Sink Brownies

  • 1 box Jiffy fudge brownie mix [makes enough brownies for 2-3 people]
  • per box instructions: 1 egg + 1 tbsp water + 2 tbsp oil
  • handful of mini marshmallows, plus reserve handful to sprinkle on top towards the end
  • handful of Reese’s pieces [the mini kind you find in the baking aisle]
  • handful of mini milk-chocolate chips*

*as the name of the brownie implies, add whatever sweet ingredients you have. no need for a trip to the grocery store on a night like this.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Pour into greased mini loaf pan [Jiffy says to use a 9"x 5" loaf pan but mine was even smaller and it turned out fine]. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Sprinkle mini-marshmallows on top and broil for 3-4 minutes until marshmallows are nicely toasted. Let cool completely. Here’s a tip I learned – if you dip a knife in cool water it makes it so much easier to cut.

[All that's missing? A glass of milk. On my nails: Revlon Minted layered with Essie Overnight.]


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Some days you need a little bit of comfort food and today was one of those days. I found this simple and yummy recipe for the classic staple egg salad. This sandwich will forever remind me of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Each Tuesday, Mitch would faithfully bring Morrie his favorite sandwich, egg salad of course. Morrie would immediately dig in and speak with mouthfuls of the stuff while bits of it spewed from his lips. He made no effort to contain his energetic zeal. I love this small showcase of Morrie’s passionate attitude. He squeezed the life out of everything he did and enjoyed it to the fullest, whether it was eating a sandwich or teaching sociology to a classroom full of college kids. If you’re looking for a good book that will warm your heart, give Tuesdays with Morrie a whirl.

Morrie’s Egg Salad

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt [or use mayonnaise if you prefer the flavor]
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Palmful of chopped chives
  • Handful of spinach
  • 2 piece of whole grain bread, toasted

Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so – long enough to stop the cooking. Crack and peel each egg, place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, a couple generous pinches of salt and pepper, now mash with a fork. Stir in the chives. Place a scoop of egg salad on bed of spinach on toast and there you have it!

[recipe adapted from 101 cookbooks]


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If you’re looking for the easiest roasted chicken recipe around, look no further. I consider myself pretty adventurous in the kitchen. I’ll whip up cakes from scratch and slice ‘n dice with the best of ‘em, but for some reason the idea of roasting a chicken has always scared me [I'm aware of how pathetic this sounds].

if this cute little number doesn't get you into the kitchen, nothing will

I  was doing some casual grocery shopping at Jewel [a Chicago-area chain, also known as da Jewels] when I spotted some medium-sized drumsticks out of the corner of my eye. Normally I wouldn’t have looked twice but these beauties were FOUR DOLLARS for the package, 10 drumsticks per package, in other words less than a dollar per meal! Victory dance [speaking of bargains, the apron above is a steal for $32 from Anthropologie].

So each ‘stick was about the size of a fist and two would be enough for me, four for the bf, who f.y.i. has the metabolism of a 16-year-old . He could probably eat all 10 drumsticks deep-fried in blubber and still not gain an ounce. Some guys have all the luck. Anyways, that was my deal of the day and I had to scoop them up.

I was oddly excited about my new bounty. I’d never cooked drumsticks before and there’s just something about them that seems so rustic and filling, yet undeniably simple.

Behold, the most delicious [and easy] drumstick recipe.

[photo via we heart it]

Mediterranean Chicken Drumsticks

  • 4 medium-sized drumsticks
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil [this is for the rub only - doesn't include oil for searing chicken or drizzling on top of chicken. Normally I don't pay attention to oil measurements in recipes but I followed this exactly because you want the right balance of flavor for the rub]
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt [ditto]
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper [if you don't have a 1/8 tsp measurement, just fill half of 1/4 tsp with black pepper]
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper [if you don't have white pepper just use black pepper, so it'd be 1/4 tsp black pepper total]
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning mix [if you have none on hand, use oregano]

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over chicken. Drizzle some olive oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Wait until oil is nice and hot and sear chicken on all sides in pan. In a shallow baking dish [I used a pie tin], grate peel from lemon, squeeze out juice from 1/2 lemon, and add garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir until mixed.

The recipe I was borrowing from said to take the skin off the chicken but I left it on for added flavor. Coat chicken in mixture and arrange, bone-side up, in pan. Cover dish and bake for 30 minutes. Turn and baste chicken and drizzle a bit more olive oil and squeeze more lemon juice on top. Lower oven to 400 degrees, bake uncovered for 10 more minutes, then broil for 5 minutes.

[adapted from recipe found at allrecipes]

I served it with mashed potatoes and spicy corn [added cayenne pepper, salt + pepper to corn]. This one was a winner!

To full bellies and wallets,


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