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


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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.

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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