I’m not sure we have talked about it over the years as much as we should have, but Simran and I have been writing an every other week recipe column for the San Jose Mercury News since 2013!! We write our recipes under the theme of “Fast & Furious” cooking and by now we’re well past 100 recipes and closing in on 200. It’s been a dream of a project and one, when I think of it, that takes us back to where it all began.
When Simran and I first met (Simran’s daughter was only 4 and I had only one kid, and he was just 2!!) we immediately connected over our shared love of cooking but also in the observation we both had that many of our friends didn’t cook much at all. I completely empathize with how onerous the task of cooking can be in the midst of busy lives (especially if you don’t enjoy cooking in the first place) — but the idea of the homecooked meal going extinct is a pretty terrible notion… not to mention the impact on future generations as I think most of us learn to cook by being around cooking as we grow up. So as our friendship took flight, we just decided to see what we could do about making cooking more do-able, tasty and fun — for us, our friends and anyone else out there. Here we are ten years later having taught hundreds of people of all ages to cook and an archive of nearly as many recipes.
I find myself turning to our ever-growing library of quick (and “quick-ish”), healthy (and “healthy-ish) recipes for inspiration these days….so I thought I might make a more regular thing of sharing the recipes we develop for our column, as well as going back into the archives to highlight some of our favorites.
Spicy Chicken Wraps with Cool Minty Yogurt Dipping Sauce
This week my family made this recipe from way back in 2016….a super quick and easy spicy chicken wrap with a minty yogurt dipping sauce. Yum! Starting with rotisserie chicken, this is more of a “just assemble” dinner and works for days when full-on cooking isn’t in the cards. The wrap uses lavash bread which you can find at Trader Joe’s and likely most supermarkets with a simple filling of:
- shredded rotisserie chicken
- chili paste or hot sauce
- veggies of your choice
Warm the lavash to make it more pliable, wrap tightly with fillings and toast the wraps in a pan on the stove if you like. Serve with an herbed yogurt as a dipping sauce. For my dipping sauce I mixed chopped mint and cilantro into plain yogurt and added a pinch of salt to taste and a few grinds of freshly ground pepper. You could also do this as a stuffed pita.
If you’re interested, you can find the full recipe details on the San Jose Mercury News website (unfortunately there’s a subscription fee to access the content, but it’s pretty inexpensive at 99 cents for 3 months and you get the full library of our recipes as well as their other recipe contributors).
This recipe was recently published in our “rotisserie chicken magic” series for the San Jose Mercury News’ “Fast and Furious Weeknight Cooking” column. It’s light and fresh and perfect for a summery lunch or supper! Get the recipe here:
Avocados! Love ’em in avocado toast, guacamole, grilled (!)….. but I recently discovered the magic of marinating them which is especially great for salads or sandwiches. I’m learning, the more I cook, about the importance of seasoning each element of a dish — especially for things like tacos, salads and sandwiches. The result is so much more than the sum of its parts…. and avocados while dreamy and creamy, definitely need a boost in the seasoning department.
This avocado marinade/salad dressing is a good quickie because it requires no mincing of shallots or garlic, simply a vigorous shake in a jar (a nice mini cooking project for kids). I love the nutty, toasted sesame flavor of the tahini in this but you could certainly substitute your favorite creamy nut butter. I’m a big fan of the tahini they have in the bulk section at Rainbow Grocery in SF (sometimes jars of tahini can be off in flavor if they’ve been sitting too long). There’s also a DIY tahini how-to over at the Kitchen, if you want to give making it from scratch a try.
Get the recipe for Soy-Tahini Chicken Salad with Marinated Avocados
More avocado & tahini yumminess:
This recipe is the most recent from our “rotisserie chicken magic” series for the San Jose Mercury News’ “Fast and Furious Weeknight Cooking” column. It’s perfect for summer! Get the recipe here:
Here’s a light and flavorful noodle salad that is enthusiastically endorsed by my two young noodle slurpers: chewy udon noodles, crunchy gai lan (or your favorite green veg), and shredded rotisserie chicken all tossed in a tasty soy-mustard-sesame dressing, with just a kick of chili ;).
Slurper 1 (9 years old): “I loved this dish because it has all different flavors and when they come together they taste great. (I like to add fish sauce to this dish.)”
Slurper 2 (6 years old): “I would put this on a kids’ menu at a restaurant.”
Simran and I are both big fans of the one-bowl supper. They’re so great for repurposing leftovers and work well for packed lunches the next day too (leftovers of leftovers, the gift that keeps on giving!). In this version we’ve layered rice (but you could use any leftover cooked grain) with a tasty chorizo-bean saute, and a super quick, semi-homemade avocado salsa. Add shredded carrots, chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes or whatever else you have on hand and your “what’s for dinner?” problem is solved.
Our recipe for “Quick dinner: Fantastic seafood chowder” (San Jose Mercury News)
This seafood chowder is really pretty quick to make and definitely feels like a little bit of luxury for weeknight dinner. Love that you can use any mix of seafood that you choose (fish, shrimp, clams whatever!). In thinking about this recipe our main goal was to avoid the clump factor that you can sometimes get with some of the traditional chowder recipes that call for a flour-based roux mixture to thicken them. So, this recipe leaves out the roux altogether and results in a chowder that lands on the more brothy side of things (which I personally don’t mind). It’s brothy but it does feel substantial if you keep the pieces fish and potatoes chunky and you’re generous with the amount of seafood that you add. But if you happen to be a chowder fan (like my dad for one) who prefers a texture with a bit more body, you can try this quick trick: just mash some of the potatoes into the soup once they’re tender.
I absolutely love this with a hunk of good, sourdough bread and a tossed salad — glass of white wine or a beer wouldn’t hurt either 😉 ! Click here for our recipe in the San Jose Mercury News’ “Fast & Furious Weeknight Cooking” column.
Yeah, Chicken Parm!
Nonni Laura in the Kitchen
In my last blog post, I introduced you to the one and only Nonni Laura who showed you (via this video) how to make a humongous pot of minestrone, Italian grandma-style. Yum yum!
I wanted to share another of our very favorite Nonni recipes: this time ooey, gooey chicken parmesan, a true Italian-American classic…. and a meal near the top of my kids’ all time “most requested” list. It’s pretty hard not to love that magical combination of rich tomato sauce, melty cheese, herbed breadcrumbs and juicy chicken.
This particular version of chicken parmesan is mostly Nonni’s recipe, but with a few added tweaks and shortcuts by me to make it a bit more doable for busy weeknights. [The recipe recently appeared in the “Fast and Furious Weeknight Cooking” column for the San Jose Mercury News.]
Hope you’ll give it a try…BTW the leftovers make killer sandwiches!
Get the recipe for Nonni’s Quick Chicken Parm.
Nonni hugs are the best!
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This super easy recipe is one that our kids can make by themselves in the kitchen. And easy in this case, doesn’t mean lacking in taste at all. It’s the perfect combination of French technique (“en papillote) and Asian ingredients. It’s kind of an origami project for the kids to wrap up the fish in foil or parchment. The drama of opening the packets table-side always impresses everyone. You can omit the chile paste if you want to, to make the dish more palatable to little taste buds. Happy weekend!
Check out the recipe on San Jose’s Mercury’s Quick Dinner Weeknight Cooking section……
These brothy, flavorful chimichurri beans are so versatile — a tasty base for soups and stews; a hearty sidedish; or, of course, a filling for tacos, quesadillas, tortas and yes… nachos! Simran developed this recipe after enjoying a similar dish when she was in Belize and it’s our latest article for our “Fast & Furious Weeknight Cooking” series for the San Jose Mercury News. Read the article and get the recipe right here. Continue reading
Here’s a genius trick I can take absolutely no credit for — make a big batch of caramelized onions and freeze them to use in all sorts of yummy things like this simple, yet amazing pasta dish. Continue reading
Every year, Stacie and I, in teams with our summer campers lead a fried rice cook-off and every year, I “somehow” seem to lose. I always blame the judges and their “lame” palates and tastebuds, but maybe, just maybe Stacie is better at making fried rice. 🙂