• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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    I've been getting a lot of requests and suggestions for the apartment kitchen. I LOVE these suggestions, keep them coming!

    If you have anything you'd like me to consider (recipes to develop, shortcuts for recipes, great ingredients, or even blog formatting), shoot me an email and let me know!


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Mushroom 101

Ever been curious about how to clean, store, and cook with different types of mushrooms?  Then head on over to Betty Confidential for my latest article – Mushroom 101: How to Choose and Use Mushrooms!


Then get cooking!


Barbeque Chicken Tacos

Even after another BBQ week at work, I still hadn’t gotten my fill. I decided to spend the morning making my own barbeque sauce, that I later used to dress some shredded chicken to make some tacos. Let me tell you, this more than cured my craving – it was awesome! Sweet, spicy, and just plain good. Not to mention, very healthy! I used a few crumbles of blue cheese on top of the tacos, which was delicious, but could easily be left out (these tacos have TONS of flavor). To make this recipe even faster (and to not unnecessarily heat up the oven or the grill on a hot weekend) buy a rotisserie chicken at the store to shred. Also, in a pinch, you could use your favorite bottled BBQ sauce for a similar effect, though there’s really no reason to not make your own. The ingredient list looks long, but it all goes into one pot together – it’s easy and so SO good.

Try this recipe with my homemade tortillas. And if you’re wanting to make your own chicken to shred, just roast some chicken breasts (skin side up) in a 350 degree oven (generously seasoned with salt and pepper) in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.

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Coconut Cream Pie Cake

I love an excuse to bake, but I rarely do it unless it’s for other people. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and the few tastes I get of batters and icings and such along the way is more than enough. But if I bake something, it tends to get eaten one way or another, which the other reason why I don’t bake without an occasion (Matt and I will polish up a plate of cookies just to get them off the kitchen counter). My friend Maggie’s birthday was the perfect excuse to make something I knew she’d love: a big coconut cake.

I called this cake “Coconut Cream Pie Cake” because it has the light layers of coconut cake filled with a creamy coconut custard and then topped with a fluffy white frosting. All together, this can seem daunting – to an apartment cooker or otherwise – because it has three separate components. But each recipe is very simple, and most can be made ahead. It’s a simple coconut cake. The custard filling is easier to make than pastry cream. And the frosting is a variation on the stand-by seven minute frosting (plus the coconut all around the outside makes icing the cake a breeze). If you take this cake one step at a time, you’ll be more than impressed with the results.

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Stuffed Peppers

Comfort food can be healthy…which is something I was reminded of when Matt and I made stuffed peppers with tomato sauce this week. We didn’t get home until 8:00 pm from a meeting, and we needed something to cheer us up and fill us up. I topped the quick and delicious chicken and brown rice filling (precooking the filling saves time) with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese for a crispy crust out of the oven – and then finished it with a tasty fresh tomato sauce. After what had been an extremely long, hard day, we went to bed happy and, of course, full.

Quick Dinner Idea: Breakfast for Dinner

There are a lot of breakfast lovers in this world…but I’m not one of them. I used to love diners that would serve lunch foods all day long, and my favorite thing about flying was that airport food was rarely restricted by “normal” meal times. I am, however, an egg lover. In Spain, I tasted the glory of a fried egg on a burger, and since then, I’ve pretty much liked a fried egg on just about anything. And because of that, I became a big fan of breakfast. The best thing about breakfast, is it’s quick, savory, and usually cheap. So here’s an idea for you to try out the next time you have breakfast for dinner: creamy grits (add your favorite cheese if you like), caramelized onion, and a fried egg. If you want, add bacon, sausage, or any other veggies. It’s fast and oh-so good.

Vegetarian Ramen

I think I was about 14 when I first saw Tampopo, a Japanese “noodle Western” about a “cowboy” (truck driver) who helps a woman turn around her formerly unsuccessful noodle shop. The truly remarkable thing about this movie is it actually says a lot about the importance of food in Japanese culture. I became fascinated, as well as endlessly amused by it. Still today, I remember the scene where the old man teaches an eager young student the correct way to eat a bowl of ramen. I don’t follow his instruction, but I do love ramen, and today was the kind of rainy day that was just perfect for it.

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Chicken Salad with Pecans, Grapes, and Tarragon

I’ve never been a mayonnaise lover. This prevented me from ever making the basic mayonnaise-based salads that should be great for the apartment kitchen. But the Apple Pie Bakery at the CIA has a very tasty chicken salad that I fell in love with. It has moist, tender chicken, crisp, sweet grapes, toasted pecans, and fresh tarragon. It’s just good – so I made my own version (and a great way to use any leftover chicken I have around). Try it on multi-grain or whole wheat toast.