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I am always on a lookout for easy dinners. Recently, I have discovered a new dish… One Pan Creamy Tuna Pasta.

I have been subscribed to the Martha Stewart Living magazine for a super long time. Over the years, the magazine has evolved; however, recipes have always been spotlighted throughout. In recent editions, towards the back of the magazine you can find four recipes that are printed on a perforated page, which can be torn into four small recipe cards. I have discovered a bunch of good finds over the years. The pasta dish is one of them and is definitely a keeper!

The recipe is simple… shallots, pasta, broth, water, a couple of veggies, tuna, lemon zest and juice, and cheese. What I really like about it is that you make the entire dish in one pot! Super easy cleanup! You simply add the shallots, broth, water, pasta, and salt and pepper and boil until the pasta is tender. Next you add your veggie. Once the veggie is tender, you remove the pot from the stove and add the tuna, cheese, and the lemon zest and juice. That’s it!

The first time that I made the dish, it came out very dry and I had to keep adding water to it while cooking the pasta. I later realized that the recipe required 8 oz of pasta and I used 16 oz. It made perfect sense why my version was so dry. Since I like to make enough to have leftovers, I adjusted the amount of water. I usually add enough to cover the pasta, which I think that it is somewhere between 4.5 or 5 cups of water, depending on the pasta.

Speaking of the pasta, I used gemelli and penne and both worked. One thing that I would like to mention is that my version has never had a sauce. If you look at the recipe photo, it includes the clear sauce on the plate. Not sure how that is realized. I just made the dish using penne and this is the first time that I have actually had some sauce, but definitely not enough to add it to the plate. Not sure if the gemelli absorbs more liquid during cooking or not, but when I used it, I never had a sauce.

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The recipe requires asparagus and arugula. The first time that I made the dish, I did not have either, so I used peas and spinach since I did have both. I have also used peas and kale. All worked! I am sure that you can also use green beans or any other veggie such as corn and broccoli. As far as the greens go, I am sure that swiss chard or any other greens would work as well.

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Another adjustment that I have made is the required cup of shallots. I tend not to like a lot of onion in my dishes, so I have cut it to 2 small shallots and it was plenty. Same goes for the cheese… the recipe requires a 1/2 a cup of Paremsan. I used about 2 tablespoons of Romano cheese and that also seemed plenty. But if you are a big onion fan, use the full amount. Same goes for the cheese.

One last thing that I would like to mention is the salt. I use the Better Than Bouillon (which really is better than any bouillon) for the broth and it is a bit salty, so I never add salt to my dishes until the very end. Most of the time it is plenty salty.

I hope that you will enjoy the dish as much as we do! It is one of Julia’s favorites!

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I cannot roast a chicken for the life of me. It is super true! I have tried it numerous times over the years with no success. It always ends up way too dry. I have a fear of it being under cooked, so I tend to roast it way longer than needed.

A while back I got food poisoning from uncooked chicken. It was the worst experience! It was so painful that I could not move. If I made just a slight move, I would get the worst stomach pains. I spent the entire day motionless in the fetal position. I do not wish that pain even on my worst enemies, if I had any. So now you understand.

I have tried several recipes, with no success… even a Martha Stewart recipe! I have been successful with roasting chicken pieces, mostly chicken thighs. I guess that you cannot really overcook chicken thighs since they tend to be more fatty.

As I was walking thorough the grocery store a few weeks ago, I was eyeing this whole chicken. “It would be so nice to roast an entire chicken in order to have leftovers for the week.”, I thought. I also thought about just buying a premade rotisserie chicken but I decided that roasting my own would be so much better. So I took it. Since I have no clue about how to break down a chicken and do not really care to attempt it, I asked the butcher at the grocery store to cut it down for me.

As soon as I got home, I contacted my brother (who is a chef). “I have this entire chicken. How long will it take? An hour at 425 degrees?”, I asked. His answer changed my life… ok, maybe not my life, but definitely shed all my fears about roasting a chicken. :) It really did!

Before divulging all the secrets, I have a disclaimer, which is that I own a convection oven, so my roasting time may differ from your oven. Ok, so here it goes…

First, do not roast a chicken whole. Roasting a broken down chicken allows each piece to cook independently, especially the breasts, which take the longest. Also, never add lemon juice or any acid during the cooking process.

Second, submerge your chicken pieces in a brine. I have been using about 6 cups of water and 1/2 cup of salt. You can certainly use more or less depending on the size of the chicken. I let it sit in the brine for no less than 15 minutes. If you let it sit longer, go easy on the seasoning during roasting.

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Third, after adding some olive oil and some salt and pepper, roast the chicken in a preheated 425 degree oven until the pieces reach about 150 to 155 degrees. For me, that is anywhere between 20 to 25 minutes. The thighs reach the temperature faster than the breasts. I have to let the breasts roast about 5 minutes or so longer than the rest of the pieces. If your oven runs hotter, check it earlier. The trick is to reach that temperature, so check often if needed.

Fourth, once the pieces reach the 150 to 155 degrees, remove them from the oven and let them sit for 10 minutes. Do not be tempted to do anything with them at this point. Just let them sit.

Fifth, once the 10 minutes are up, put the chicken back into the oven and continue roasting it until it reaches the recommended 165 degrees. For me this is anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes. Again, the trick is to reach the 165 degree temperature, so check often if needed.

Sixth, once roasted, remove the chicken from your pan and squeeze some lemon juice over it. This will give the chicken that great lemony flavor, which I love.

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This is the best roasted chicken that I have ever made and tasted. I really mean it! I made it 3 times so far and every time it has come out fantastic. The meat is super juicy and delicious! It was so good in fact, that each time I made it, we almost ate the entire thing. :)

Next time you are craving roasted chicken, give this a try… you will not be disappointed.

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I have been going to the market every Saturday morning. I love taking Julia with me and scoping out veggies and fruits together. Although, I think that I have more fun than she does. :) She does like to pick out the fruits… raspberries and blueberries to be exact. They are her favorites.

As you may already know, it is eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash season. Since I love to buy things that are in season, I have been buying them every week. I love roasting them with some shallots, olive oil, and whatever herb or other veggie that I have in the fridge. Julia loves them also. The first time I made them, she inhaled them. She does not seem to mind eating them regularly either. I have been serving them over salad, in pasta, or just as a side dish.

I have kind of gotten bored of just eating them as is, so I decided to seek a new dish. My sister mentioned this dish that included eggplant and mango… the recipe is called “Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango” and can be found in the cookbook called Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. My sister also informed me that Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks included a rendition of the recipe in her blog. After reading the recipe, I was sold. It sounded really delicious and thought that Julia could probably eat it as well, the veggies at least. I read both versions of the recipe and I decided to follow Heidi Swanson’s version… I really do not have any specific reason of why I did that. They are very similar, so I am sure that either version would yield super results.

The recipe was indeed delicious! And Julia loved it too! She loved the veggies, of course. She also liked the noodles. She did not eat too many noodles, but she liked them. I was unsure if she would really eat it after reading the recipe more closely since it required garlic and crushed red pepper. It was definitely a little spicy. But she did not seem to mind it. I am so proud of her!! She never ceases to amaze me… she loves everything that I cook for her. I am so lucky!

I do want to mention that I did make a few adjustments to the recipe. I decided that instead of pan frying the eggplant, I would just roast it, since it is easier, for me at least. I also added some zucchini and yellow squash, which I also roasted along with the eggplant. I did not use tofu or red onion. Since I roasted the veggies with some shallots, I decided that it was enough onion. Plus I really dislike raw onion. The mango that I used was super ripe, which I think that added some liquid to the dish. I kind of liked it that way. The recipe requires removing as much liquid as possible when draining the noodles. I did not mind it a little liquidy… I do not like dry pasta. I also only used 1 garlic clove, since I do not like a lot of garlic and thought that Julia might not like it either. One thing that I did not like about the dish is the difficulty of incorporating all of the ingredients. I found it hard to mix everything together. I find it to be the same with any stringy noodle though, so I should not have been too surprised. Ha!

The recipe is definitely a keeper! I apologize for the lack of a photo. You can just check it out in the cookbook or on 101cookbooks… both photos are beautiful. Plus my photo would probably not have given it justice anyway. :)

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Sometimes when I find a new place that I fall in love with, I do not want to share the news in fear that it will become super popular and will be difficult to go there. This was the case with The Village Bakery in Pittsford. I have been thinking about dedicating a post to it for a while now, but I could not do it. But it is so good, that I had to share. Plus it has become popular, so I already lost that battle.

As I was driving home through the village last fall, I noticed some construction behind the Starbucks. I kept an eye on it and one day the sign went up… it said “Bakery”. I got excited. I could not wait to check it out. As soon as I walked in, I knew that I was going to spend a lot of time in there. It reminded me of Le Pain Quotidien in DC. The communal table, the fresh breads, the sandwiches, and the pastries… perfect! So the Saturday following my first drop in visit, Joel and I went there for breakfast. I remember ordering the breakfast sandwich that included a poached egg, arugula, pesto, and goat cheese. It was delicious!

We continued to go there for breakfast several more times. Then one day we went there for lunch and I ordered the tuna melt minus the cheese. Oh my! It was the best tuna sandwich that I have ever eaten. I am not kidding! We practically go there almost every weekend and that is what I order each time. I just cannot get myself to order anything else. The bread is perfectly toasted but still super soft and fresh and the tuna salad is just so tasty. I am not sure what they put in it, aside from the obvious ingredients such as tuna and dill. But it’s just amazing!

Ok, maybe I have ordered other sandwiches here and there. The B.A.L.T and the Turkey sandwiches are very good. Joel has ordered the Croque Madame several times and that is pretty good too. The only sandwich that I did not really care for was the Chicken Salad. I really wanted to like it, but I found it too dry. It needed a tomato or something. The actual salad is pretty tasty but as a whole, it is just ok. Same goes for the Egg Salad… it was good. It was tasty and not drenched in mayo, which is a plus in my book. If you like egg salad, I would definitely give it a try.

Each time we go there for lunch, I also have to order 2 cake bites. These are the most delicious and moist cake bites ever! What a brilliant idea… make a cake and roll it in a bite sized ball. My favorite is the vanilla followed by the chocolate peanut butter. The perfect ending to a perfect lunch!

The breads are really nice too. One of my favorites is the VB Table Bread. It’s a really nice everyday bread. It’s not super crusty and the inside is soft. My kind of a bread. I have also tried their brioche and it is good, but does not compare to the brioche at Le Pain Quotidien. That is still the best brioche that I have tasted since having it in France.

I am looking forward to the summer since they have a very nice patio that is decorated with beautiful potted flowers. I spent some time there last summer once Julia was born and I was on maternity leave. It was the perfect location to kill some time while Julia was napping in her stroller. In fact, she has practically grown up there. The place is great for her too. She loves it there. I guess it helps that we have taken her there since she was in my belly. :)

Julia at the Bakery

Julia in the big girl high chair at the Bakery.

Now please try not to go there too much or if you do and is crowded, please save us a seat.

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Cooking has been a bit difficult lately, especially on a weeknight. I usually get home from work around 5:00, which means that I only have a few hours to play with Julia since her bedtime is 7:30. It also means that I do not want to spend very much time in the kitchen cooking. So I have been searching for quick recipes… I have found a few good ones.

Soup is a good weeknight meal. It usually makes a bunch, which means that you can have it a couple of times during the week. I have been loving this Leek Soup with Dill Oil, which I found on the 101 Cookbooks site. I have altered it a bit… I do not use any butter, I use an extra potato, I leave it chunky, and I do not add any of the items that she suggests (although they would probably be good to add). I have made it numerous times and it’s definitely a keeper. I usually serve it with a pressed sandwich, leftover pizza, or just a few slices of bread.

Gnocchi is one of my favorite foods. It’s comfort food for me, so it is another dish that I make all the time. I love it with pesto, prosciutto, spinach, goat cheese, and either pumpkin seeds or walnuts. I have also made it with a roasted tomato sauce. To roast the tomatoes, you simply slice a pint of tomatoes and add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some of your favorite herbs (I use parsley and oregano), and some capers. The capers are key, so do not omit them. The sauce is delicious, especially on gnocchi! :)

Another recipe that is one of my cooking staples is the Matchstick Pasta recipe, which I also found on the 101 Cookbooks site. This is by far the easiest dish to make! During one of my shopping outings I could not find any pomegranate seeds. I was so upset since I was really craving the dish. I decided to try dried cranberries as a substitute… it worked great!

Pizza is another staple… I find myself making it every week. I usually use Bobolis for the crust, which makes it easy. My favorite toppings are pesto, prosciutto, spinach, and goat cheese. A while ago I found this really delicious pepperoni by Applegate Farms, so I decided to try a peperoni pizza. I used tomato sauce, mozzarella, green peppers, mushrooms, peperoni, and a few thinly sliced onion pieces. It was so good! It is now part of my pizza cycle.

In my recent issue of the Whole Living magazine, I discovered a nice quick dish. You simply sautée some garlic with a few sprinkles of pepper flakes, then you add some chopped kale, and sautée it until wilted and cooked through. Lastly, you add some peas and cook them for a bit. Once done, you serve it with some cooked rice and topped with an over-easy egg. It’s so quick and delicious!

Another dish that I would like to mention is the Peanut Sesame Noodles, which I found on the Smitten Kitchen site. I made this dish recently and I was surprised how easy it was to make. I wondered why I do not make it more often. I did modify it a bit. I do not make the sauce in a food processor. I simply whisk it and it works just as well. I do not use tofu… I have topped it with cooked chicken (usually the rotisserie chicken from Wegmans) and shrimp.

If I am really pressed for time, sandwiches with sweet potato fries are my to go dish. I usually keep a bag of sweet potato fries in the freezer… I love the Alexia sweet potato fries. I also keep veggie burgers and fake chicken patties by Quorn. Chicken patties on a bun are a favorite. :)

I hope that a few of these dishes will become some of your favorite weeknight meals!

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The time has come… Julia is old enough to eat solid foods! It is amazing to me that she is at this stage already. It has come so fast. I was prepared… my friend Marc gave us the Baby Gourmet (Les Petits Plats Français) cookbook and as a birthday present, Joel’s mom gave me the 201 Organic Baby Purées cookbook. Both books are great! Both contain lots of recipes for first as well as upcoming feeding stages. The 201 Organic Baby Purées book even contains a menu to use as ideas for what you can feed your baby. I was excited to start cooking for her.

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Julia’s first solid food… rice cereal.

As a first feeding, we gave her rice cereal. I was amazed! She knew exactly what do to with the spoon… she opened her mouth wide and took the spoon just like an adult. Crazy! She was very enthusiastic about it and she loved the cereal more and more everyday.

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Oatmeal cereal approved but not as enthusiastic as the rice cereal.

Then last weekend, we started feeding her oatmeal cereal. She was not sure how she felt about it at first. She was not as enthusiastic as she was when we fed her the rice cereal. After a few days though, she has grown to love it.

Since we were done with the cereal options, I decided to move on to vegetables. So last weekend I prepared her newest dish… sweet potatoes! I was so excited to feed it to her.

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Puréeing the sweet potatoes.

Uh… what is that orange stuff?

Julia, on the other hand, was not as excited as I was. Her reaction was priceless!

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Bah! I don’t know about this orange stuff!

The funniest part about it was that she was willing to eat it and was excited, but at the same time she was not sure how she felt about it.

I survived sweet potatoes! :)

We fed her the sweet potatoes for a few days and she liked them more and more everyday. Next up are avocados and carrots. (!!) I look forward to her reactions to the tastes and textures as we cycle through the many varieties of vegetables and fruits.

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Julia and I cooked together on Friday night. Jill and Todd (my sister- and brother-in law) were arriving around dinner time. Joel went to pick them up from the airport, so Julia and I were home alone. And we needed something for dinner.

We decided to make the Peanut Sesame Noodles recipe. The dish is pretty simple. You make the peanut sauce, which you pour over some noodles and veggies. For the sauce, you simply add all the ingredients and whisk them in the bowl. I don’t bother to use a food processor or blender to make it as the recipe indicates. The sauce is smooth enough by just whisking it. I did use peppers and cucumbers for the veggies, but I would think that you can add whatever veggies you like and it would be just as tasty. I also usually serve it with sauteed shrimp instead of tofu, which the recipe requires. Again, I would think that you can serve it with meat, fish, seafood, or whatever else you like.

When I first started cooking, I placed Julia in her Moses basket but that did not last long. So I decided to place her in the Baby Bjorn. That worked great! I walked her through the recipe, telling her each step. As I was whisking the sauce and chopping the veggies, the whisking and chopping motion swayed her back and forth calming her even more. I guess I never paid much attention to how much movement whisking and chopping causes. The most challenging part was draining the noodles. I did not want to risk hot water splashing on her legs. I used a large wire spatula to remove the noodles from the water and it worked fine.

The dinner was a success! I look forward to cooking many more dinners with her!

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