Quick Dinners: Udon Salad with Shredded Chicken & Gai Lan

This easy dinner idea combines rotisserie chicken, fresh veggies and udon
noodles. (Photo: A Little 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.”

Continue reading

Comfort Food Cravings: Nonni’s Quick Chicken Parm

Chicken Parm

Yeah, Chicken Parm!

Cooking withnonni

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.

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Nonni hugs are the best!

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Peruvian-Chinese Grilled Chicken


Pollo a la Brasa_Peruvian Grilled Chicken_A Little Yumminess.jpg

Peruvian Grilled Chicken Marinade_A Little Yumminess.jpg

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We discovered this absolutely great marinade for grilled chicken recently and I wanted to share because it’s a good one for all those summer BBQs coming around the corner, and really for any time of the year if you turn to your broiler instead. The marinade combines some familiar flavors in a really tasty way: soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, paprika and cumin. It’s actually a pretty interesting cultural and culinary story when you think of it…. the fusion food legacy that came directly out of a Southern Chinese immigration to Peru (mainly Lima) in the early 20th century. I’ve heard from homesick friends from India about their beloved Indian-Chinese food, but Peruvian-Chinese food is a new one for me and a topic I can’t wait to continue to explore. Continue reading

Piling on the Kudos for Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Braised with Milk and Lemon

Milk Braised Chicken

It’s impossible to resist this recipe. There’s an article over at Kitchn titled the “Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk is Probably The Best Chicken Recipe of All Time“; a good friend (aka the Hungry Dog) — a person I trust 200% in all matters food-related — swears by it; and it has even shown up in my email box at least once with a note from Simran saying, “please make this and invite me over!”. So I finally cooked up some of this irresistible chicken, or rather threw it together one night when I found myself staring blankly into the refrigerator wishing it was someone else’s turn to make dinner. The verdict: this is as tasty as advertised, especially given the extra liberties I took (no sage, forgot the cinnamon stick, chicken pieces instead of whole…). What can I say? This is just one more reason to love Jamie Oliver. Continue reading

Easy Weekend Cooking: Paul Bertolli’s Poached Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar and Bread Crumb Sauce

poached chicken with Balsamic Sauce

Balsamic Vinegar and Bread Crumb Sauce

The cooking site Food 52 has this great section called “Genius Recipes” which is all about killer cooking tips and essential recipes from classic cookbooks that everyone should try. The Genius Recipes column never fails to provide me with just the bit of inspiration I need when I find myself deep in a cooking rut. Way back when, I suggested Paul Bertolli’s recipe for super minimalist and totally silky cauliflower soup (vegan by the way) from his book “Cooking By Hand” which they featured in their column along with a really great write up. If you are a cauliflower hater (and I know a few) this might just be the recipe to begin changing your mind.

Another absolutely genius recipe from this amazing book that I come back to time and again is his recipe for “Boiled Chicken with Vinegar Sauce” which appears in the chapter devoted entirely to balsamic vinegar (no wonder I love this book!). The name of the dish really doesn’t do it justice. A more compelling description might be “a super comforting, moist chicken with a wonderful toasty, tangy gravy”. You make it by simply poaching a whole chicken, then using a few ladles of the flavorful poaching broth to create a sauce along with toasted sourdough bread crumbs and “young” balsamic vinegar (no need for the super expensive aged stuff, since you want a bit of tang and acidity). It’s just the kind of meal my family is in the mood for on a chilly fall evening after a busy afternoon riding bikes and running around outside. Continue reading

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Moroccan Dinner_A Little Yumminess

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Preserved Lemons by A Little Yumminess

This is one of those recipes that upon eating it, I wanted to jump right in and make it again for dinner the next night and the next night after that. It’s really just a simple, braised chicken dish, but the combination of spices and flavors makes it really, really special: ginger, saffron, cumin, preserved lemon, green olive. If you ask me, preserved lemons are one of those magical ingredients that add a complex depth when you want a bit of saltiness and tang and having some on hand is a great ace in the hole anytime you’re faced with a drab dish that needs a little “something extra”.  Having tried my hand at preserving lemons with Simran, I can report back that they are really easy to make. If you can sprinkle salt and squeeze a lemon, you too can be an artisan preserved lemon maker — although you will also need a bit of patience because they take 3-4 weeks to pickle.

Another thing that was cool about this recipe was the technique of using grated onion in the braising liquid, a totally new one for me. Grating the onions allows them to melt beautifully into the sauce, giving the sauce some body without chunkiness. Not only is this lovely on the palette, it’s a bonus for kids who don’t “things” floating around in their sauce :). My little guy loved, loved, loved this dish and took particular delight in stealing all the green olives, so I will be sure to add more next time!

Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives

adapted from The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert

  • 1 -2 pounds of bone-in chicken pieces
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 Tablespoons saffron water (pinch of saffron soaked in 2 tablespoons of hot water for 5-10 minutes)
  • 1 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/2  preserved lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley (or a combination of both)

Spice Mixture:

  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Make the spice mixture and rub under and over the skin of the chicken. Marinate overnight in a covered container.
  2. Add chicken to a large pot or skillet and top with grated onion, turmeric, saffron water, and 1/2 cup water.
  3. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes, turning chicken occasionally in the sauce.
  4. Add water if needed, and continue to cook uncovered for an additional 20 minutes over medium heat until the chicken is tender and beginning to fall off the bone.
  5. Remove chicken to a broiler safe baking dish and set aside. Then add the preserved lemon and olives to the sauce.  Taste and correct the seasoning as needed and keep sauce warm on the stove.
  6. Heat the broiler and broil chicken skin side up until browned (5-10 minutes).
  7. Arrange chicken on a platter and pour sauce over. Garnish with parsley/cilantro.

You might also like: Bar Jules Lamb with Preserved Lemons

Yummy Spoonfuls for Baby

For little eaters with tiny tummies, each and every bite counts from the standpoint of nutrition. We’re encouraging our littlest one to eat what we eat — from Indian curry, to Chinese steamed fish, to tangy tomatillo salsa. He hasn’t reached the inevitable picky eater phase yet so mealtime is a lot of fun. And I’m finding it’s a two way street — the care we’re taking to make sure he gets a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and lots of healthful whole grains is spilling over onto our family table.

He recently had the chance to try some of the products from Yummy Spoonfuls which you can find in the freezer section at Whole Foods. These are definitely the next best thing to homemade, and maybe even better since they contain tried and true favorites like peas, carrots and pears as well as more adventurous ingredients like adzuki beans, parsnips, millet and quinoa. We love that they are organic, contain no fillers and are made in three different textures (creamy, mushy, chunky) to match a baby’s developmental stages. Having a stash of these is a lifesaver when life gets busy — so great for grab and go meals as well as a quick “mix-in” to baby-ize whatever’s on our table. Good stuff!


I’m excited to share two delish recipes that any baby is sure to love from Agatha, mom, healthy eating advocate and founder of Yummy Spoonfuls. She’s also shared some great tips for making smart nutritional choices. Buon Appetito!

Scrumptious Potatoes & Leeks

Creamy Yummy (Stage 1). Good source of fiber, folate, manganese, vitamin A, C, K.

  • 2 cups organic potato (peeled and cut into small cubes)
  • 1 cup water or home made unsalted vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoon organic extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 organic leek (open and washed well, use white stalk only) chopped.
  • ½ cup organic frozen peas (check label to make sure there is no salt added and also that it is made in the USA)

Add olive oil to pan, add leeks and sauté for about 5 minutes while stirring. Add potato and water (or stock) and cover. Cook for about 9 minutes, add the frozen peas and continue cooking  for about 6 more minutes or until they are all soft. Puree to the right consistency for your baby.  For a creamy texture, use a food mill and for a mushy texture use a food processor.
Delectable Quinoa & Chicken

Mushy Yummy (Stage 2). Good source of protein from both the chicken & quinoa, beta-carotene, iron and folate. This is a great meal especially if your baby needs a very high protein diet.

  • ½ cup organic quinoa
  • 1 cup water or homemade unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoon organic extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
  • ¼ cup organic leaks (open, washed, chopped, use white stalk only)
  • ¼ cup organic carrot (peeled, washed, diced)
  • ¼ cup organic parsnip (peeled, washed, diced)
  • 2oz organic boneless chicken breast  (washed, diced)

Add olive oil to pan, add leeks, chicken and sauté for about 5 minutes while stirring. Add carrot, parsnip and stir for one minute. Add water (or stock) and cover. Bring to a boil , add quinoa and cook for about 15  minutes (or until quinoa is nice and fluffy  – like rice – and there is no extra water in the pan). Cool food in a shallow pan in a cooler/freezer and puree to the right consistency for your baby.

A note on our recipes:

Make sure the food you feed your baby doesn’t have any added flour.  Flour is mostly used to thicken the food to help mask all of the water added. Do not feed babies ‘empty nothing.’ Make every bite count. Whenever you want to feed something to your baby ask yourself, “what nutritional role is that little bite going to play?” Remember that every bite your baby takes is a nutritional opportunity for you to nourish your baby with the very best.

-Make sure your baby’s diet is sufficient with good calories, protein, calcium, veggies, fruits, whole grains and other complex carbohydrates

-Feed babies food that satisfies more than one nutritional requirement i.e. wholegrain will satisfy the need for complex carbohydrates and iron

-Do not feed babies ‘empty nothing’, make every bite count.

– If you cannot make your own food, please make sure you look at the label closely and identify every ingredient and its role.

You might also like these yummy, baby-approved recipes: Spiced-Up Orange Baby Foods, Baby’s First Ratatouille, Fruit and Juice Wigglers, Make Your Own Instant Oatmeal, Becky’s Carrot-Zucchini Muffins, Raw Apple Muffins

Chicken with Roasted Meyer Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic (alla Michael Chiarello)

Gratuitous Blood Orange Picture

Tis the season for wonderful citrus. My whole family has been, as my friend Shani would put it, on a serious Clementine bender. We just can’t seem to get enough of those sweet little orange bundles of yum. I’ve been falling deeper and deeper into my obsession for pink grapefuit, and just yesterday I snagged a hoard of gorgeous, jewel-like blood oranges at my favorite produce store. Then there are the bags (bags!) of meyer lemons that my mom has been bringing by from her prolific front yard harvest (along with the occasional lemon meringue pie — keep ’em coming, mom!). I think my whole family is in heaven right now.

The sight of a pile of juicy meyer lemons in my refrigerator jogged my memory about a recipe that I haven’t made since my husband and I were dating. “Chicken with Roasted Lemon & Rosemary Sauce” from Michael Chiarello’s Tra Vigne Cookbook: Seasons in the California Wine Country. I can vividly recall the night we cooked this in his minimally equipped, bachelor kitchen by the light of a fluorescent bulb. I believe we also made our own pasta that night, and drank copious amounts of wine — we were probably listening to Green Day. Isn’t it amazing how a certain recipe or taste can bring you right back to such a specific time and place? Roasted meyer lemons = hubby’s bachelor apartment; steamed fish and wintermelon soup = my childhood kitchen table, Hungarian goulash = my first collage apartment.

So with fond memories of our breezy single days, we uncorked some wine and enjoyed this easy, delicious dish all over again — this time around our family table. I’m not quite sure why we waited so long to reprise this one, but I’m glad we did.

Chicken with Roasted Meyer Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic

(adapted from “The Tra Vigne Cookbook: Seasons in the California Wine Country“, by Michael Chiarello)

  • 2 Bone-In, Skin-On Split Chicken Breasts
  • 3 Meyer Lemons (or substitute regular lemons as in the original recipe), cut in half, drizzled in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and broiled for 5-7 minutes until tops are very lightly charred
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Sprig of Fresh Rosemary, Leaves Finely Minced
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • Several Sprigs of Parsley, Leaves Finely Minced
  • ** 10-12 Small New Potatoes, Steamed Until Tender and Sliced in Half ** (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put the broth in a pan on a back burner to let it reduce while you start cooking everything else.
  2. Season chicken with salt an pepper. Heat an oven-safe skillet on the stove and add 1 Tbl of olive oil. Sear chicken in the hot skillet until golden brown on all sides. [At this point, the original recipe calls for you to remove the chicken, crisp the steamed potatoes in the pan, then return the chicken skin side up back to the pan on top of the potatoes].
  3. Baste the chicken with a little of the pan juices and turn the pieces are skin side up. Then move the skillet into the oven until chicken is cooked through. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken should reach 165 degrees. Remove chicken to a platter and cover it loosely with foil to keep it warm while you finish the sauce. (Keep a pot holder over the skillet handle so you don’t accidentally grab it while it is still hot. I speak from experience here!)
  4. Pour off most of the fat from the pan then add the garlic and minced rosemary and saute until the garlic is lightly golden, about 2-3 minutes. Be sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and if they or the garlic start to get too dark, quickly add some broth and stir.
  5. Squeeze the roasted, cooled lemons into the pan through a fine mesh sieve. Add 3/4 cup of the warm, reduced broth (you should have some left over) and let the sauce simmer for several minutes to let it thicken to a saucy consistency. If you remember, add in the juices that have collected on the platter with the chicken as well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You can add additional chicken broth to balance the flavor if needed (or a little hot water).
  6. When the sauce is to your liking, drizzle it over the chicken and sprinkle with minced parsley.

You might also like these citrus-y posts: Pink Grapefruit Granita; Sweet Lemon Thyme Crisps; Bar Jules Lamb with Preserved Lemons; Pickling Project: Preserved Lemons; Keeping Lemons Fresh and Other Tasty Tidbits

Ian Knauer’s Sticky Balsamic-Glazed Drumettes

There are some recipes that really get you salivating, like this beauty I found in the “Genius Recipes” section of the website Food 52 which comes courtesy of former Gourmet magazine Food Editor, Ian Knauer. Rosemary, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar reduced to a sweet-tangy, syrupy glaze is something I might be halfway tempted to drink all on its own if I thought I could get away with it, but chicken drumettes (or pork ribs as the original recipe calls for) are probably a more civilized vehicle. I don’t see why you couldn’t try using this glaze on vegetables, say a portobello mushroom or a thick slab of zucchini. I could see that being very tasty indeed. Needless to say I was a hero to my family for making this. Husband, preschooler and baby… they all loved it as much as I did.

Click here to check out the original recipe and browse some of Food 52’s other “Genius Recipes” (Brown Butter Tart Crust, Waffles of Insane Greatness or Le Bernadin’s Crispy Skinned Fish, anyone?) But before you click on over there, here are my notes for making this dish weeknight dinner-friendly. You could also use the same marinade-then-roast-then-broil technique and change the flavor profile (think chili, lime and honey), with inspiration from Simran’s “Icky Sticky Chicken Wings” recipe.

Sticky Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumettes (based on a recipe for ribs from Ian Knauer)

In the morning, the day before: Marinate your drumettes.

  • The marinade is pantry-friendly: equal parts minced rosemary, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar (Tablespoon of each ought to do it) and enough water to loosen things up a little. Salt and pepper, dash of cayenne if you like. I know Simran would spice this up with some dried chiles.
  • Toss the drumettes well in the marinade, place in a baking dish, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Night before: Roast the drumettes and make the glaze.

  • Ian Knauer uses a hot oven to roast the ribs (425 degrees). I roasted my drumettes at 425 for about 30-35 minutes, then removed them to a plate to cool.
  • Deglaze the roasting pan with more balsamic, water and brown sugar (I used 2 parts vinegar, 2 parts water and 1 part sugar, for about 1 1/4 cups of liquid). Make sure to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the baking dish. I then transferred the glaze to a sauce pan to reduce and placed the cooled drumettes back into the roasting pan, covered them with foil and returned them to the refrigerator.
  • Reducing the glaze until it’s the consistency of maple syrup is  critical and it does take a while (maybe 20-25 minutes). It’s got to be thick enough to coat and stick to the chicken. Let the glaze bubble away, stirring occasionally until it has thickened. Pour it into a bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate it.

Dinner time: You can get this deliciousness on the table in hurry with minimum of fuss.

  • Preheat your broiler, liberally brush the glaze on the chicken and broil for 5-8 minutes turning a few times and brushing on more glaze until the chicken is heated through and the glaze is caramelized.

Easy One Pot Meal: Chicken with Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a tough vegetable to like.  I wasn’t a huge fan myself until I discovered simple roasted cauliflower, as in the recipe below, or cauliflower and potatoes roasted with some spices (cumin, coriander & chilli powder).  I have Ria “more interested” in cauliflower since I told her that it is a flower that you can eat.  She’s is not fully convinced but I keep trying to talk it up.  For now, I mash the cauliflower below with some rice and yogurt and serve the chicken cut up in bite size pieces on top and she’ll gobble it up after school when she is starving.  It’s pretty amazing how finickiness goes down the hungrier they are!  I am not into “hiding” vegetables but sometimes a parent has to do what a parent has to do!

I am also looking forward to trying Cauliflower Cheese by Food-4-Tots – it looks delicious and I think mixed with some macaroni it could be a kiddie hit.

Chicken with Cauliflower (adapted from Everyday Food)


I modified the recipe slightly by sprinkling some cumin powder and a pinch of chllli flakes on the cauliflower before adding it to the pan.  Also, if you like “crunchier” cauliflower don’t salt it till the cooking it done.  The salt draws out the water and makes the cauliflower mushy.  Which if you are mashing it for the kids is not a terrible thing.

Serves 4

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1 pound), cut into large florets
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Season chicken with coarse salt and ground pepper. Cook chicken, skin side down, until skin is browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
  2. Place cauliflower around chicken, turning to coat in pan juices; season with salt and pepper. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until chicken is cooked through and cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in parsley, vinegar, and capers (if using).