Chicken Florentine Lasagna with a pan roasted garlic sauce

Photo Apr 08, 5 55 27 PMThis one is a definite keeper… I was trying to figure out how to use a bunch of chicken and fresh spinach I had in the fridge… from that

Chicken Florentine Lasagna with a pan roasted Garlic Sauce

The key to a dish like this is the sauce.  My family doesn’t like a super heavy sauce and most of the white sauces on the market are pretty much flavorless and they compensate with a ton of fat and salt.  This white sauce isn’t exactly “light” but it isn’t heavy either and it features the great nutty flavor of roasted garlic.

Pan Roasted Garlic Sauce:

Photo Apr 08, 2 47 24 PM
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 6 large garlic cloves peeled and halved
Photo Apr 08, 2 58 20 PM Roast the onions and garlic halves in a cast iron pan on medium heat without any oil until they get nice and seared.  Garlic taste different depending on how it is prepared and cooked.  This method will bring out the awesome nutty garlic flavor.  If you don’t have a cast iron pan – get one (or toast them in a toaster oven)Once they are nice an seared, turn off heat and let cool slightly so that you can remove the garlic and mince it up then return the garlic to the pan with the onions
Photo Apr 08, 3 46 22 PM Now add:

  • a stick of butter (cut up)
  • several glugs of olive oil.
  • a generous pinch or two of salt
  • one crushed up piece of bacon


cook all of this over low heat for a few minutes for the flavors to marry.

Photo Apr 08, 4 18 49 PMPhoto Apr 08, 4 24 11 PM add:

  • 1/2 cup flour

mix and heat, stirring constantly.  It is important to cook the raw, grainy raw-flour taste out.  This just takes a couple of minutes but keep stirring. add:

  • 1/2 gallon warmed milk


Whisk and keep whisking until it is all well mixed and thickens to a nice consistency for sauce, like a red sauce would be for a lasagna.

Photo Apr 08, 4 25 37 PM Photo Apr 08, 4 28 01 PM Turn off heat add:

  • 1/2 cup nice sharp cheese – Romano or some hard italian dry tasty cheese
  • a tablespoon or so of finely cut or dried basil

Once you have made the white sauce let it set while you build your lasagna but with Chicken Florentine Ingredients.

    Photo Apr 08, 4 41 00 PM
    Photo Apr 08, 4 54 35 PM
 Now layer your Chicken Florentine Lasagna.Coat the bottom of the lasagna pan with your garlic sauce

Lay your lasagna noodles

Add enough sauce to cover the lasagna

Add generous portions of chopped or shredded chicken, crushed bacon and lots and lots of raw spinach (it cooks way down) and Romano or other hard cheese. Mozzarella is kind of bland.  You can definately use it but your hard grated cheeses are much more flavorful.

Photo Apr 08, 4 52 37 PM Photo Apr 08, 4 42 24 PM  now repeat the process.  lots of everything is just enough…
Photo Apr 08, 4 58 36 PM Photo Apr 08, 5 38 03 PM  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until bubbly all around the edgesLet stand for 15 minutes







Thai Green Curry over Ginger Jasmine Rice

This is an adaptation of a recipe I got at the Thai Cooking Class I recently took.  I learned it their way, then fiddled around to make it my way.  This is a pretty mild recipe.  I usually like things hotter but this has a lot of nice flavors and you can easily “heat things up” if you so choose.


Thai Chicken Curry over Ginger Jasmine Rice This recipe uses three things: a nice coconut milk curry sauce, julienned chicken and vegetables, and rice.

I made the sauce first and julienned the chicken and vegetables while the sauce was cooking.  Then about 20 minutes before dinner I put on the rice.



Thai Green and Red Curry Sauce:

Heat some coconut oil and some peanut oil over low heat.  Add:

2 T diced fresh ginger (about a 1″ piece skinned and diced)

2 T diced garlic (a couple of big cloves)

2 T green curry paste

2 T red curry paste

1/4 t  (1 t spicer version) cayenne powder

1 t (or 2t if you want to spice it up a bit) teaspoons ginger powder

2 T Galangal ( a sweet ginger)

1T curry powder

a pinch of salt

heat ginger and garlic over medium low heat and give them time to soften and become fragrant.  Then stir in all the ingredients.  It doesn’t really look mixed well.  No worries.  Heat every thing up – do not boil – just let things get nice and hot.

Then add 1 can of coconut milk

Photo Feb 19, 5 31 25 PMKeep heat medium low and mix well.  I use my immersion blender at this point to get everything pureed and whipped up a bit.  NO worries if you don’t have one, but I LOVE mine.  Makes it extra creamy.

Chicken and Veggies:

YOu can use any veggies and protein combo you want or keep it vegetarian.  I like mine best with red peppers, green beans and chicken.

Julienne the chicken and veggies.  Beans I cut into 1″-1 1/2″ pices.

Cook the chicken in a skillet or cast iron anything.  a little peanut oil, a little coconut oil and throw in the chicken strips, cook nicely then add the cut veggies and cook for 4 minutes or so.

Add sauce, mix well, let simmer for 20 minutes.


Make your jasmine rice with a little or a lot of giner and cayenne.


Serve with fresh lime.  YUMMY…








General Tso’s Chicken

general-tso-chicken-recipe-photoI love this meal.  It has always been my favorite meal when we order Chinese or eat out.  The chicken coating is so different it can even be easily made gluten free.  I have tweaked this recipe several times and I think that I have a version worth repeating.

There are four elements to making home made General Tso’s Chicken. In order that they be ready at the same time I prep the broccoli and the rice so all I have to do is cook the rice and steam the broccoli with 30 minutes before serving time. Once I steamed the broccoli over the cooking rice to save energy.  I ended us with green rice. Now I cook them separately.



1. The Sauce

2. The Chicken Bites

3. The Broccoli

4. The Rice

Here is my recipe.  Let me know how you tweak it.


Step 1. Start by mixing the following ingredients in a sauce pan without the burner being on:

3/4 cup Hoisin Sauce

1/3 cup white vinegar

5 T soy sauce

3/4 cup water

3 T corn starch

( I place the water and corn starch in a small ball jar and premix it but I have been told you don’t have to)

Whisk everything together nicely.

Step 2. Remove about 1/4 cup  of the sauce and place it in a big zip lock baggie.  To this mixture add:

1.5 Lbs Chicken Meat cut into 2 inch or bite size pieces.  They should all be about the same size so they cook at the same rate.  I have started with chicken breasts or butcher cut chicken strips and they all work about the same so I just get the best chicken I can find.  The important thing is to get it into bite size pieces.

Place the chicken pieces in the baggie with the sauce and get all the chicken coated.  Squeeze the air out of the bag and roll it up, zip it up and place it in the fridge for an hour to marinate.

Step 3. While the chicken is marinating, add to the sauce:

5-7 T honey (they use Corn Syrup in store sauces) most recipes use sugar, I love it with honey

1/4 cup Apricot or Peach Jam – I love making jam so I use whatever I have open

4-6 garlic cloves, minced

3 T diced fresh ginger

3 t Ginger Powder

2 t granulated garlic

2 t Red Pepper Flakes

2 T Toasted Seasame Oil

3 t Chinese Chili Oil

Whisk all of these things in individually and simmer over low heat stirring (whisking) often.  It will thicken nicely in 10 – 20 minutes.  I keep mine going for 30-60 minutes sometimes – just over the lowest of heat.

Step 4. Prep your hot vegetable oil for frying your chicken bites.  While it is getting hot, get your chicken ready.

Step 5. Remove the chicken from the bag and let the excess marinade drain off.  You will now need two small bowls and a plate to prep your chicken bites.

BOWL 1: Egg Whites to bath the chicken pieces in.  I use the egg white of three eggs.

BOWL 2:     1 1/2 Cups Cornstarch and 1/4 cup flour (unless you are making gluten free) and 1 t baking soda

Dip each chicken piece into the egg wash then into the cornstarch then place it on the plate.  Once you have all the pieces coated then

Step 6. Fry them in the hot oil in small batches for 5 minutes or so until they are fully cooked.

Step 7. Add the cooked pieces into the sauce.

Step 8. Place the cooked rice on a platter, surround the rice with the broccoli and then place the chicken over the rice and garnish with scallions.









Super Bowl Super Fried Chicken Wings with a Mild and Super Hot Sauce

Because as a Steelers fan it was very hard for me to get excited about a Super Bowl featuring the archrival Baltimore Ravens, I was focused on food for the Super Bowl party rather than the participants in the game.  Steelers will be there next year.  (ah… the faith of a fan!)

Super Bowl Super Fried Chicken Wings – Mild (whimpy) and Really Hot!

wings to serveBiruk and I were watching a cooking show a few days before the Super Bowl and saw a great chicken wing brine that we decided to use as the foundation of our Super Bowl Super Wings.  Lisa bought “super wings”  instead of the standard type chicken wings so… they were Super Wings for the Super Bowl. And I fgureg for the Super Bowl, they really should be fried not baked, so…


Heat up 6 or 7 cups water so that it will absorb as much salt as possible.  At least two or three cups of salt should dissolve into your brine base.  Remove from heat and stir in yummy flavor: a couple glugs of worcheshire sauce, a glug or two of Frank’s Hot Sauce, a teaspoon of pepper, a tablespoon of ground cayenne, a couple pinches of each granualted onion and granulated garlic.  Stir well to fully incorporate spices into brine.

Add ice to brine to cool.  Several cups worth of ice should do it.  You don’t want to cook the chicken in the brine so it needs to be cooled to rpoom temperature.

Once the brine is room temperature, stir again incorporating as much settled flavorings as possible, add wings and mix.  Cover and set in fridge or outside for at least 12 hours.  Objects in brine will not freeze because of the salt content in the brine mix.

brine-2 brining chicken wingsbrine



for Mild or Whimpy:

Melt one stick butter in pan, then add and mix well:

  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Granulate Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (for mild, for my hot sauce I use 3 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (for the hot sauce I use 3 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Jar or Frank’s Hot Sauce (it is easy to make but the family likes Frank’s)

For the Really Hot and Super Delicious wing sauce:

Melt one stick butter in pan, then add and mix well:

  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Granulate Garlic Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Cayenne Pepper – you can get 90K IHU where good spices are sold. Basic Foods for me!
  • 3 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Jar or Frank’s Hot Sauce (it is easy to make but the family likes Frank’s)

Bring mixture(s) to a boil, then reduce heat.  Keep on low heat, stirring often for about 30 minutes.  I make mine the night before and let the flavors marry overnight.  If you do this make to keep it in the fridge over night and you will have to heat it a little before coating the wings.

Mild Chicken Wing SauceSuper Hot chicken wing sauce

Chicken Wings:

Normally I would have baked them, but for the Super Bowl I decided to give frying a try. Dump brine water from chicken and rinse well.  DON’T FORGET TO RINSE OFF BRINE!!!

frying chickenHeat a deep pan full of nice fryer oil – not olive oil.  Heat up hot.  In small batches (4 of the jumbo wings or 6 -8 normal wings) fry wings for about 10-12 minutes until the look nicely golden brown.  Drain and let cool for about 2 minutes.





chicken-wings-shaking-with sauce-photoPlace slightly cooled wings in a large platic container with a laddle full of wing sauce. Shake.  Place in serving dish in a 250 degree oven until serving or traveling.





wings to serveWe were the road team this year so we brought our wings to our friends house for a really great party.  The party was great.  I love football, I mean I really love football, but I didn’t want the Ravens to win because, well because they are the Ravens.  I also didn’t want the 49ers to win because then the 49ers would have the same record number of Super Bowl wins as my Steelers.  So I was rooting for great food, great friends, and the very remote possibility that neither team would win this years Super Bowl.



Buffalo Chicken Pizza

buffalo chicken servedThe kids had a crazy schedule this evening – Tuesday’s is the hard night – and Lisa still isn’t feeling great.  Thursday I am have a “dental proceedure” done and probably won’t feel like cooking and Sunday is the Super Bowl and we are bringing my favorite Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip.


So, I bought 4 big chicken breasts, enough to make dinner and prep for the next few days:

  • Tonights Buffalo Chicken Pizza
  • Prep the Buffalo Chicken WIng Sauce and Chicken for the Super Bowl
  • and using the water I boiled all the chicken in I used as a base for Thursday’s Chicken Soup – maybe as adventerous as I will feel.

I love Buffalo Chicken Wing Sauce but I am not a fan of Chicken Wings.  A little carnivorous for me.  I went about 20 years without eating any meat on the bone.  So Buffalo Chicken Pizza is one of my favorites.  All the great Buffalo Chicken WIng flavor without the bones!!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Step 1. Boil Chicken and Prep the Buffalo Chicken Sauce

While the Chicken is boiling I make Buffalo Chicken Wing Sauce:

Melt one stick butter in pan

add and mix well:buffalo chicken wing sauce

  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Granulate Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (for mild, for my hot sauce I use 3 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (for the hot sauce I use 3 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Jar or Frank’s Hot Sauce (it is easy to make but the family likes Frank’s)

Cook the Buffalo Chicken Sauce while the Chicken finishes cooking.  Low heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir/Whisk often.

chicken - cutStep 2. While the flavors marry in the buffalo chicken sauce, remove the chicken (when cooked to proper temp) and let cool for 5 minutes or so.  Then dice the chicken into nice small pieces.



preppeing chicken wing dipStep 3. Once your chicken is diced, turn the heat off under the Buffalo Chicken Sauce and Mix the two together.  I do this in a large ball jar.



Step 4. Pizza dough is easy to make but I usually use the fresh dough from Price Chopper.  It is awesome. I pre-cook the pizza dough at 425 until golden.  This keeps the dough from being soggy.

pizza dough pizza dough cooked

buffalo chicken - wing sauce and chicken mixStep 5. Cover the precooked dough with the Buffalo Chicken Wing Sauce and Chicken Mixture.




buffalo-chicken-parm-cheeseStep 6. Layer with some fresh grated Parmesan, Cheddar, and Mozzerela Cheese.




buffalo chickenStep 7. Bake for 10-15 Minutes at 450 until the cheese is nicely melted.




buffalo chicken servedStep 8. Let set a couple of minutes and then Serve! Enjoy. Cook On!






Cream of Spinach, Red Peppers, and Garlic Soup

cream-of-spinach-red-peppers-and-garlic-soup-plated-photoCream of Spinach, Red Peppers, and Garlic Soup

This is a variation of the Cream of Broccoli Soup I made on New Year’s Day. Lisa isn’t feeling well and stayed home sick.  I thought about making Chicken Soup but I was afraid it was too close to last night’s French Onion Soup.   So, to help my Lee Lee B feel better I thought about a Garlic Soup.  Lots and lots of fresh garlic will help anyone feel better.  I looked around and garlic soup, while I am sure it would taste FAB, didn’t look very nice in any of the pictures/recipes I found online.  They all ended up looking like a grey soup.  Not very appealing to the eyes, despite what the mouth might say.

The cold day had quickly turned snowy, so off to the market I went with a recipe in hand.  Not a recipe I loved, but something just the same.  I walked into Price Chopper to see a big beautiful display of red peppers on sale and thought they might be just the thing to cheer up a soup that otherwise looked as dreary as the weather outside.  As soon as I was bagging a beautiful red pepper my mind raced to spinch.  Spinach, fresh red peppers and garlic.  Now that would be both tasty and yummy for the eyes… so the deal was set.

Getting it started:

1. Just like with the Cream of Broccoli, and most of my “cream soups” we start off with nice little chicken stock rue: (for pictures of these steps click here)

  • 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt or Kosher Sea Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

I simmer these ingredients for 10 minutes or so on really low heat to let the onions get translucent and the flavors marry.

To complete the rue, add:

1/4 cup flour and stir until clumpy and well mixed

then add:

4 cups salt-free, NO-MSG, or low-sodium chicken stock (or veggie stock to make vegetarian version)

Boil this mixture and bring back down to a simmer. Stir fairly often and let it thicken some. It might not thicken like a traditional flour and milk rue but you will notice it will get thicker in 10 minutes or so.


  • Peel 3 full bulbs of garlic – don’t be afraid, just do it…. (what, you chicken??)
  • Cut each clove in half and lightly toast in the toaster over or oven at 400 degrees until they just turn golden brown.

Dice and Saute: (cook low and star-veggies-photoslow)

  •  a glug or two of olive oil in a pan on low heat
  • a pinch of good salt
  • 1 bag of spinach – (thaw if using frozen or lightly steam and remove water from fresh)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 stock of celery, small with lots of leaves
  • The garlic – roasted above – and now cooled and chopped.veggies-saute-photo

 To this mixture add:

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspon spanish hot paprika

Pafter-immersion-blending-photouree! Happy to be using immersion blender I got for Christmas!! If you don’t have one then use a food processor to puree the veggies – not to mush, just nice and small.




  • 1.5 cups Greek Yogurtfinished-soup-photo
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino/ramano/parmesan cheese or other strong hard cheese.
  • 2 Tablespoons White Wine Cooking Sherry (or white wine you have around)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar

Mix well.  Once I add milk products I try not to boil it but get it close and keep stirring.

simmer for about 60 minutes, stirring often. Many recipies call for very little simmer time. I like to let things like soup and chili simmer several times for a while to really let the flavors marry together. Many times soups and chilis tasted better the second day so I decided to try letting things simmer longer and in most cases it now tastes as good on the first serving!

orzo-photoAdd about 15 minutes before serving:

  • 2 cups Cooked Orzo


I served this will french bread roasted with garlic and parmesan cheese.

Cut a bagette and top with drizzeled butter, oregano, basic, parmesan cheese, and more cut roasted garlic.  Bake until golden and serve hot!



Cook On!

Doro Wat – Ethiopian Chicken Stew

doro-wat-nearly-done-photoOur son is adopted from Ethiopia and we are going to an Ethiopian Dinner Party tonight so I thought I would make a nice big pot of Doro Wat (sometimes spelled doro wet, doro we’t)

When we were in Ethiopia, our son was most anxious to share this meal with us and it is delicious.  For these reasons, Doro Wat is one of my favorite meals.

Most of the work for Doro Wat – Ethiopian Chicken Stew – is prep work.  Once all the ingredients are together, like any stew, it needs to well, um… stew.

CHICKEN STOCK: I start by making a nice chicken stock.  For this party size Doro Wat I need about 8 cups of chicken stock.  I had a leftover chicken carcass I had saved from one night this week that Lisa brought home a grilled chicken for dinner.  I placed what was left of the chicken in the pan with about 10 cups of water.  I add a couple spoonfuls of tomato sauce to help with the color, a chopped carrot, some celery if I have it, some chopped onion and some spice (garlic, onion, celery seed, celery leaf, pepper, salt, etc) and bring it to a boil and then turn it down and let it simmer for several hours. Strain everything out but the liquid.  That liquid is the best chicken stock you can get.

chicken-stock2-photo chicken-stock3-photo chicken-stock-photo

Spice Butter: Spiced butter is a staple in Ethiopian Cooking.  True spiced butter is made with clarified butter (Ghee) because it doesn’t need refrigeration.  Since that isn’t an issue for most of us, save the $10 as use regular butter.  In a small pot, heat over low heat for about 20-30 minutes until flavors seem well integrated mix:

  • 4 sticks butter, melted
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3″ piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 T basil
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

Keep this on VERY low heat so the butter doesn’t brown or burn. Once the butter has really taken on the spice flavor, I use an immersion blender to reduce the size of the onions and really mixes the flavors together nicely.


Boiled Eggs: We like to have one boiled egg per serving, so hard boil and egg for each person.

hard-boiled-eggs-photo hard-boiled-eggs2-photo




Chicken: The Chicken cooks right in the stew.  Normally Doro Wat uses a full chicken cut into 6-10 pieces.

Now to make the Doro Wat…

Once you have everything prepped the final assembly goes like this:

Put the SPICED BUTTER in a deep soup pan or crock


  • 1 1/2 Red Onion, Diced
  • 1 White Onion, Diced
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom, freshly ground
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, course ground
  • 3 teaspoons carlic powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, fresh, minced
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 5 cloves or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 1/2 Tablespoons Ethiopian Berbere spice (note on making this at end)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, fresh, ground
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • juice from 1 lime

Mix all the spices up with the onions and spiced butter.  Mix well on low heat.  Allow to simmer on low heat for 15-25 minutes until the onions are soft and have taken on the flavor and color of spices.

doro-wat-photoAdd: 8 cups chicken broth and turn up heat until it is just about to boil, return to low heat




doro-wat-4-photoAdd: Chicken – uncooked, raw chicken – add all your chicken pieces and turn up the heat to medium low – allow to simmer for 25 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked



Add: Hard Boiled Eggs (shells removed of course)

Allow stew to simmer on very low heat for a couple of hours if possible.  This stew does not get thick like many “sauces.”  It is a very liquidy, soupy consistency to soak the injera it is served on, along with lentils, or potatos.

injera1Serve on plates with injera- the Ethiopian “bread” which is much more like a crepe than bread.




We have Ethiopian Berbere Spice from Ethiopia.  If you want you can order it online or you can make it very easily which I may start to do since we get such nice spices at Basic Foods.  Here is a recipe:



Panko – Parmesan Chicken with Orange Marmalade Glaze


panko-parmesan chicken with orange marmalade sauceTonight’s dinner fun is a panko-parmesan chicken with orange marmalade glaze with sides of Roasted Garlic Broccoli and Rice. – wish I had wild rice but I didn’t think of it earlier.



parm-panko-chicken-before-cooking-photoCHICKEN: I got some nice chicken breasts and I will dredge them first in a mixture of Dijon mustard, thyme, cayenne, and salt.  Once nicely covered in this I will dredge them in a mixture of panko bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese (1 cup of each).  Then I will lightly spray the coated chicken breasts and bake them at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.

orange-marmelade-glaze-photoGLAZE: For the glaze I am using a homemade orange marmalade I canned a few months back with some finely diced red cherry peppers (deseeded so my family members who don’t want a lot of heat can have food to eat too.)

I will cover the nearly fully baked Chicken with the glaze and put back in the over for about 5 minutes.

garlic-roasting-in-the-toaster-oven-photoRoasted Garlic Broccoli: Roast a bunch of garlic cloves in the toaster oven until they smell nutty and before they burn.  Steam the broccoli until it is just about the way you like it, throw some butter in the pan with the chopped roasted garlic and saute for just a couple of minutes.

Rice: A simple white rice cooked with just a little butter and maybe some dried orange rind.

garlic-boccoli-photoA shot of the finished Broccoli with Roasted Garlic and Butter