January meals, “First Generation” cookbook, and a Spicy Gochujang Chicken Stew

Cheers to a brand new year! 2023 is shaping up to be the year of the declutter for me and first on the list was cleaning out our hall closet and turning it into a backup pantry to house mixing bowls, flour canisters, and small appliances/kitchen tools. It’s no Pioneer Woman pantry, but it’s pretty good.

*This post contains affiliate links to some of my favorite cookbooks and kitchen tools. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

My favorite item in my new hall pantry is that bamboo steamer, which I got on Amazon. Joey and I have been using it to cook our way through Frankie Gaw’s beautiful cookbook, “First Generation“. This book was the January inspiration I didn’t know I needed. I’ve learned many new things and have a long way to go before mastering any of them. But what else am I doing with my time this month — taxes? Exercising? No! I’m learning to make dumplings and bao buns.

“First Generation” Cookbook Show and Tell

Classic Pork Dumplings: This was the first dish we made from “First Generation” and while we had visions of becoming expert dumpling-shapers after one pass through Frankie Gaw’s artful step-by-step photo instructions, our dumplings came out looking a little rough. Who cares! They still tasted delicious. The filling was ground pork, scallions, ginger, sesame oil — all the usual suspects and totally satisfying.

Noodles with Minced Pork Sauce: In “First Generation”, these noodles are actually handmade. But, we made this on a weeknight and I took the suggestion in the book to use store-bought noodles in a pinch. I can’t really pluck the right words out of my head to describe the flavors in this sauce. It’s one of those things that was more than the sum of its parts: dried mushrooms, pork, scallions, garlic, ginger, shallots, sake (although, I used mirin), sweet bean sauce (me again, without a full stock of Asian ingredients — I used hoisin), and an almond-soy glaze which is another recipe in the book. I was blown away by the savoriness and depth of the result and did not want to stop eating this dish. I wish I was always eating it, all the time.

Popcorn chicken and smoked short rib steamed buns: This was our New Year’s Eve feast and it was every bit as indulgent as it looks. Joey smoked some short ribs and braised them in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and other delicious components I, unfortunately, can’t recall and they were so tasty tucked into the puffy, seared-on-the-side bao buns. Being NYE and all, the night required a second bao bun filling, for which I turned to the Fried Chicken Gua Bao in “First Generation”, except I cut it into popcorn-sized pieces. We topped these buns with all kinds of pickled things, fresh herbs, radishes, many sauces, and a broccoli slaw. Absolute heaven.

Roasted Carrot and Pork Bao: If you compare the photo of this dish in “First Generation” to my photo, you would not recognize it as the same recipe. Frankie Gaw did a “braided fold” on these bao in the book and his, of course, looked like a work of art. Not only could we not master this fold and ended up totally abandoning it, but I’m also unclear on how he got his to hold their shape. The bao dough is a yeasted dough and just kept puffing up, unpleating all of our pleats. Not sure how to avoid that but for now, am just super appreciative of the puffy buns and the roasty, sweet/earthy-tasting filling. Loved these!

Joey and I will keep working on becoming master dumpling-shapers. Meanwhile, below are some other good eats we’ve been enjoying lately.

Other Fun Endeavors

Smoked Ricotta Tortelli with Red Onions: Yes, in addition to learning to shape dumplings and decluttering my house into a state of euphoria in 2023, I also want to become an expert pasta-maker. So far, my tortelli have been very blob-y but I have high hopes I’ll improve with practice. Fortunately, just like the dumplings, what these tortelli looked like did not matter! The creamy, smoked ricotta filling and buttery, caramelized red onion sauce were what really counted. So good! This recipe is from the book,  “Via Carota” by Jody Williams and Rita Sodi.

Bacon and egg bing! We have Molly Yeh to thank for this. It’s her recipe for Ji dan Bing except we use bacon or pulled pork instead of pork belly. It’s a fascinating way to make a hearty, crave-able breakfast — you start by making giant, thin pancakes and while they cook on the first side, you crack an egg on top, spread it around, sprinkle it with some salty meat and scallions, flip it once, then shimmy it out of the pan and top it with spicy sambal oelek. Then you roll it up and eat it with a bright, spicy, ginger-chili vinegar. Making this sesame oil-flavored dough from scratch and rolling out the pancakes while sipping on a frosty can of diet coke is my new favorite 10am-on-a-Saturday activity. Joey actually does all the cooking of these bing. His egg-spreading and pancake-flipping skills are unmatched.

Smoked Chicken: I got Joey a Recteq pellet smoker for his birthday and man oh man — this thing is so simple and easy to use, I predict we’ll be smoking all the things all the time. Nothing will be safe from me and my grill tongs. Onions, sweet potatoes, pecans — all going on the Recteq. This chicken came out wonderfully juicy with just the right amount of smoke and as I type this, the carcass is simmering for homemade stock to use in Pinch of Yum’s white chicken chili.

Converting a Stew from Multi-Pot to Stovetop

Now, on to a recipe based on the Spicy Gochujang Chicken Stew in Melissa Clark’s book, “Dinner in One“. In the book, this is a pressure cooker recipe. I converted it to a stovetop recipe by adding four cups of vegetable stock rather than the 1/2 cup of water called for in the book, changed the method a bit, and of course made sure to simmer it long enough that the chicken and potatoes were fully cooked — 30 minutes in this case. I also altered the quantities of some ingredients to let the flavor of the spices, sauces, and seasonings shine more. (My personal preference is always MORE spice, salt, umami, etc, etc.)

This is my go-to way of converting a soup or stew from a multi-pot to stovetop: increase the liquid (usually to 4 cups total) and add the ingredients to the pot in a somewhat logical order, adding salt/seasoning along the way (oil/butter > aromatics > protein > liquid > starchy or sturdy vegetables > soft greens or anything that just needs enough time to wilt > whatever seasoning adjustments are needed). Depending on what I’m cooking, sometimes I add the protein before the aromatics, either because I want a reeeaal good sear on the protein, or because I want to saute the onions, carrots, etc. in the fat from the protein. TBH, it’s pretty darn hard to mess up a soup or stew so I don’t beat myself up if I choose the wrong order — it always turns out okay.

This Spicy Gochujang Chicken Stew was very, very satisfying for a cold winter night. Especially with a scallion pancake on the side! The pancake pictured below was one I had stashed in the freezer and the recipe was from, once again, “First Generation”. The freeze-ability of the scallion pancake was its first selling point, only to be outdone by the flavor, then outdone again by the crispy-ness achieved during cooking. Love, love, love.


Spicy Gochujang Chicken Stew

chicken stew in white bowls

This recipe is based on the pressure cooker Spicy Gochujang Chicken Stew in Melissa Clark’s book, “Dinner in One“. It’s been converted to stovetop and has had the sweet/spicy/umami-ness dialed up a bit. 

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


  • 4 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 TBS gochujang
  • 1 TBS brown sugar
  • big pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 pound), cut into 1″ pieces
  • kosher salt
  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into 1/4“-thick rounds
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1” piece of ginger, grated
  • 4 C vegetable stock
  • 1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 small head of green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 3 big handfuls)
  • 23 tsp of Better than Bouillon (I used the chicken flavor), if needed
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish


  1. Whisk together 3 TBS of the soy sauce, the gochujang, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Season the chopped chicken thighs with salt, add them to the bowl and toss to coat. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the canola oil in a  large dutch oven over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and carrot to the pot, season with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally until soft — about 7 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the chicken and all the liquid from the marinade. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes to allow the chicken to begin to cook on the outside and the liquid to reduce slightly/begin to concentrate all those flavors.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring for one minute.
  5. Add the potatoes, a big pinch of salt, and the vegetable stock and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Increase the heat to high to bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. (Test the potatoes’ doneness by stabbing a piece with a paring knife and lifting it out of the liquid — it should slide back off the knife immediately.)
  6. Add the sliced cabbage and cook for 5 more minutes, until wilted. 
  7. Taste and season with the remaining TBS of soy sauce and 2-3 tsp of Better than Bouillon if needed.
  8. Serve, garnished with sliced scallions and cilantro.


*The cooking times and nutritional info noted in this recipe are approximate.

Keywords: chicken stew recipe, convert from pressure cooker to stovetop, convert from instant pot to stovetop, easy chicken thigh recipe

Winter Vegetable Salad, the best way to cook beets, and a November 2022 menu recap

The past month of my life has been unofficially sponsored by the book “Listen to Your Vegetables” by Sarah Grueneberg and Kate Hedding. I ordered it to read during our vacation in Ocracoke after seeing it and its recipe for carrot lasagna mentioned in an article and WOW it is a fantastic cookbook.

I’ve learned a lot from the methods and ideas and have tackled vegetables I typically don’t cook with (hi, artichokes and beets) because these recipes make me feel like I fully understand how to do a good job with them. Also, the recipes make the vegetable the star but they don’t skimp on my favorite supporting ingredients like cheese, nuts, spice, sauce, etc. Practically the entire index has gone on my list of “food to make” in the notes app on my phone — I can’t put this book down. (P.S. There is also a homemade pasta chapter that is giving me visions of becoming a chic, oversized-oxford-shirt-with-the-sleeves-rolled-up-wearing, self-possessed, very charming, pasta queen.) What a book!

My favorite vegetable lesson learned so far has been how to roast beets to perfection and make them taste the way beet lovers have always claimed they do — sweet and delicious. To my palette (and Joey’s), they’ve always tasted like dirt and not much else. Not anymore! Srah Grueneberg has explained, via this book, that peeling the beets, cutting them into chunks, seasoning them with olive oil and salt, and roasting them in a foil packet before giving them a soak in a vinegar/honey mixture is the path to tasty beet kingdom. Now, I’m doing this all the time and putting those beets on crostini with ricotta on the reg and adding them to a super nourishing Winter Vegetable Salad (recipe below!).

But first…

a November 2022 recap

Here are some of the greatest hits from our dinners last month, just for funsies (and for my own nostalgia record):

Mushroom, brussels sprouts, ricotta pizza with artichoke and celery salad: This pizza is a repeat b/c I liked it so much the first time I made it… yet still haven’t written the recipe down to share here. Shame on me. The artichoke and celery salad came from the above-mentioned book, “Listen to Your Vegetables”. It was the first time I ever successfully prepared an artichoke so it deserves a spot here (and it tasted wonderful!):

Swiss Chard Rolls: Another hit from the Sarah Grueneberg book! I should have gotten a pic of the inside but it’s rice and quinoa (the recipe said farro but I used what I had) and lots of punchy, briny things: olives, sundried tomatoes, pepperoncini, feta, herbs, and the chopped-up swiss chard stems leftover from using the lovely chard leaves to wrap all this goodness in. I loved it so much I had to mess with it and add spicy ground beef and some sweet little golden raisins. I predict this will be on repeat — it’s G.O.A.T. material, for sure.

Thanksgiving charcuterie board: No explanation needed, just YUM! Ok, some explanation: this board included the Rosemary-Sizzled Salami, Dates, and Pecans, some za’atar-seasoned saltines I cannot find the link for, and the Marinated Mozzarella and Peppadew Peppers from the November issue of Bon Appetit. The salami and saltines were a hit and a half, the mozz and peppers were good but I prefer a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that uses the same peppers, but they’re stuffed with prosciutto-wrapped fontina, and marinated. Yup!

charcuterie board on a deck

Turkey pozole with mashed potato-beet green fritters and smoked almond romesco sauce: Thanksgiving leftovers at their finest. Well, not really — I live and die for a turkey sandwich. But this was good! And I love a fritter. The pozole recipe came from the book “From Scratch” by Michael Ruhlman — a very good book to learn core recipes that generate leftovers, and ways to use those leftovers. And the smoked almond romesco sauce is my recipe!

fritters and bowls of soup on a countertop

Vermouth-Roasted Pear and Taleggio Crostini: An excellent appetizer from (again) the above-mentioned Listen to Your Vegetables book. I actually mistook sherry for vermouth and this still came out fantastic. It’s hard to beat stinky cheese and caramelized pears on toasty bread. This pic could use a pop of green or something, but oh well:

crostini on a black plate

Tunisian-Style Chickpea and Turnip Curry: That is not the title of this gem of a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, but it’s what I call it. I sometimes add coconut milk if I’m feeling creamy, but it’s basically lots of veggies cooked down in the liquid from the chickpeas + tomato paste and warm spices. Suuuper comforting, despite how this poor-quality photo may look:

curry in a dutch oven with a wooden spoon

Alrighty! On to this gorgeous, wintery salad with the MOST perfect roasted beets!


Winter Vegetable Salad

purple winter vegetable salad in a bowl

This salad blends crunchy cabbage, perfectly-roasted beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, chickpeas, and red onions and is doused in a bright, citrusy dressing. Add rice or quinoa if you like or add in other veggies, proteins, cheese, etc. — it all works!

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hours
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian




  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBS fresh orange juice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 2 TBS honey mustard
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C olive oil

for the salad

  • 3 medium beets, peeled and quartered
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1” pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced in 1/2″ thick wedges
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 a head of red cabbage, thinly sliced or shaved on a mandoline
  • 1 granny smith apple, cut into 1/2” cubes
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 TBS white wine vinegar
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1/2 C roasted nuts (almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, or walnuts would all work)
  • 1/2 C chopped, fresh herbs (a mix of parsley, cilantro, dill, and mint is great)

optional add-ins

  • shredded chicken
  • smoked sausage (roast it on the same pan as the veggies for a nice sear — use a little less olive oil if you do this)
  • bacon (chop it and roast it on the same pan as the veggies — use a little less olive oil if you do this)
  • rice or quinoa
  • cheese (parmesan, manchego, cheddar, and feta are all great)
  • dried fruit (cherries, golden raisins, or cranberries are all yummy)


make the dressing

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a large measuring cup or bowl, or add all ingredients to a jar with a lid and shake.

Prepare and roast the beets (the very best way)

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Set a wire rack inside a baking sheet, then lay two pieces of foil on the counter. Place the quartered beets on one sheet of foil, drizzle with 2 TBS of olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 tsp of kosher salt, then toss to coat. Place the second sheet of foil over top and crimp the edges together to form a packet around the beets. Place the packet on the wire rack-lined baking sheet and place it in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
  3. Add the white wine vinegar, honey, and 1 TBS of olive oil to a large, resealable bag and press it around with your fingers to combine. Set this aside for when the beets come out of the oven.
  4. Before removing the beets from the oven, test their doneness by sticking a pairing knife through the foil, into one of the beets — it should slide in and out with little resistance. 1 hour has always been exactly right for me, but if your beets are still tough, let them go a little longer, checking every 10 minutes or so. Remove the beets from the oven and let them cool in their packet for 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer the beets and their liquid to the bag with the vinegar/honey mixture, seal, toss to coat, and let sit for 15 minutes. The warm beets will absorb much of the liquid and take on a delicious, smooth, sweet flavor.
  6. Transfer the beets from the bag to a cutting board and cut into 1/2″ cubes.

roast the remaining vegetables (while your beets are roasting)

  1. Toss the chickpeas, cubed sweet potatoes, and sliced carrots and onions with 2 to 4 TBS of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and spread out on a second baking sheet. Place that in the oven and roast alongside your beets, tossing the veggies with a spatula every 15 minutes, until they’re nicely browned and caramelized — about 35 minutes total. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

assemble the salad

  1. In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, roasted beets and other veggies, the apple, any additional add-ins you may be using, and most of the nuts and herbs. Drizzle with dressing (no need to use all of it, I had about 1/4C leftover), toss, and top with remaining nuts and herbs. Enjoy!




*This salad keeps well in the fridge for 4-5 days.

*The cooking times and nutritional info noted in this recipe are approximate.

Keywords: best way to cook beets, how to roast beets, winter salad recipe, make-ahead salad recipe

October and Ocracoke Vacation 2022 Food

Welcome back (to me, finally getting back to posting after a few week’s hiatus)! Here are the highlights of October food in our house, the wonderful food we made on vacation in Ocracoke, and notes on the cookbooks the recipes came from.

*This post contains affiliate links to some of my favorite cookbooks. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

Beets and Greens Phyllo Pie from Melissa Clark’s book,  “Dinner In One”. We took the suggestion in the recipe notes and swapped roasted butternut squash for the beets, and I only had feta on hand (not the washed-rind cheese Melissa suggests), but this was still delicious and 10 out of 10 would make again — and will follow the recipe next time b/c it seems a funky cheese would only make this crispy, hearty, veggie pie even better.

crispy Phyllo Pie on a cutting board

Grilled picanha steak w/ romesco sauce, fried plantains, coconut rice and beans. This was my birthday dinner and the recipe is… basically in the title. Simple and delicious, and note to self to include more plantains and coconut rice in my life. What really made this meal sing for me was the smoked almond romesco sauce, which I do have a recipe for and it’s included at the end of the post.

Brazilian steak, rice, and beans on two plates

A bloomer loaf and a rye, ale, and oat bread from “Paul Hollywood’s Bread”. Anyone else glued to the current season (and every past episode, ever) of The Great British Baking Show? I can’t get enough of it, mostly because of Noel Fielding. But a couple years ago, the show also inspired me to buy Paul Hollywood’s bread cookbook and learn to make bread, from scratch, by hand– not a stand mixed or a bread machine in sight. IDK what it is but something about making a loaf of bread with my hands makes me feel like I’m in total control of my life and am awesome. I love this book b/c it explains the why behind the how which, it turns out, is pretty important with bread-making.

Pizza with caramelized onions, homemade buttermilk ricotta, roasted mushrooms, and shaved brussles sprouts. Agh, my heart is aching that I don’t have a piece of this pizza right now. It checked every oniony, creamy, earthy, crispy greens box for me. And I MADE the ricotta! What! That recipe came from  “To the Last Bite” by Alexis deBoschnek and was easier than I thought. I want to be the person who always uses leftover buttermilk to make ricotta. Then puts it on a pizza with mountains of brussles sprouts and mushrooms.

And now on to the real fun… our Ocracoke vacation!! Here’s some of what we ate:

Scacciata from my one true cookbook love: “Italian American” by Angie Rito and Scott Tachinelli. My best description of this dish is a layered pizza? It has about 3 pounds of swiss chard and spinach cooked down with lots of garlic and wine, and loads of mozzarella. You make the dough, spread the filling, fold and repeat until it’s small, bake it, slice it, and all your friends say, “Wow“.

Oysters! My husband and friends foraged for and caught these oysters and were dining on them with lemon juice and hot sauce within about 30 minutes of pulling them out of the water. I mean… rockstars.

Smoked pork butt, ribs, and wings! It’s not an N.C. vacay without them.

Caramelized Onion and Short Rib Ragu with Pasta and crostini with smoked ricotta. Mmmmkay, the onion and short rib ragu is maybe one of my top 10 favorite things on earth and it is from, once again, “Italian American” by Angie Rito and Scott Tachinelli. I don’t think I need to explain why a ragu with that name tastes so good. We had it for dinner then again for lunch while dinner was on the smoker and I decided to become a badass for 15 minutes and smoke some leftover ricotta (with advice from “Via Carota” by Jody Williams and Rita Sodi). NBD.

Brief interlude for some 1718 Brewing food. The fried cheese cuuuuuurds:

Steamed buns and coconut curry pork meatballs. Yessss! These buns are on repeat from earlier this month, I will love them forever. And the coconut curry pork meatballs are a staple in this house from How Sweet Eats. The meatballs are so easy and the sauce is creamy and rich with a great punchiness from lime juice — fabulous.

Baked eggrolls for lunch. Molly Yeh strikes again — this recipe came from her book  “Home Is Where the Eggs Are” except instead of beef and store-bought coleslaw, I used leftover pulled pork and the Crunchy Asian Slaw from that same Molly Yeh book. I’m pretty sure you could fill these eggrolls with any combo of meat and cabbage-y thing and be successful. And yes, the eggroll wrappers and flour tortillas, but are still completely satifying.

baked eggrolls on a pan

Clean-out-the-fridge fried rice. This last-night-of-vacay dinner consisted of rice, pulled pork, minced up smoked chicken wing skin and meat, minced smoked rib meat, diced leftover roasted cauliflower, potatoes, and brussles sprouts, leftover coleslaw, and some croutons made from leftover brioche buns. Essentially, a masterpiece of leftovers.

fried rice in a pan

I’m terribly sad vacay is over. But, a good smoked almond romesco sauce recipe can help me move on.


Smoked Almond Romesco Sauce

Brazilian steak, rice, and beans on two plates

A smoky, tangy sauce to serve with steak, grilled tuna, or as a spread on sandwiches.

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x


  • 8 oz jarred roasted red peppers
  • 3/4 C salted, smoked almonds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp smoked hot paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 2 TBS sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey + more to taste
  • 2 TBS olive oil


  1. Combine the first nine ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine.
  2. With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary — sometimes, depending on how sweet the roasted red peppers are, I like to add an additional squeeze of honey.

Keywords: quick romesco sauce, easy romesco sauce, almond romesco sauce, smoked almond recipe

Early October 2022 Menus

What a couple of weeks it’s been! But also, why can’t it be fall all the time? Fall food = the best food.

*This post contains affiliate links to some of my favorite cookbooks. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

dinners written out on a white board

Early October 2022 menus

What we made lately, with notes:

Saturday, 10/1/22: Crispy eggplant spaghetti and kale salad. Confession: I stole a Japanese eggplant from our neighbor’s garden and used it in place of the zucchini in this Pinch of Yum Spaghetti with Crispy Zucchini recipe. This recipe taught me a valuable lesson: we should be coating more things in egg, panko, and parmesan. The eggplant became like a savory, cheesy eggplant brittle and was delish on top of chewy noodles.

Sunday, 10/2/22: Chicken Noodle Soup with Sherry and Cream. My most favorite recipe I’ve ever written. A couple of our friends make this recipe on the reg and another requests it when he visits, and that makes me smile.

two bowls of chicken noodle soup with Ritz crackers

Monday, 10/3/22: Fall veggie fried rice w/ dijon maple dressing. This is the third time I’ve made this for the folks at the inn I cook for, they love it, and I STILL have not posted the recipe here on the blog. Bright purple cabbage, roasted veggies, seared smoked sausage, rice — maybe the beauty can just speak for itself for now:

rice and vegetables in a skillet with a wooden sppon

Tuesday, 10/4/22: Steak and slaw bao buns. I have no words. These were the Molly Yeh buns I made last week and had leftovers of in my freezer. Some form of supernatural intelligence entered my brain and said, “Microwave the buns, then SEAR THEM IN STEAK JUICES to crisp the bottoms.” That, combined with Molly Yeh’s recipe for Crispy Asian Slaw from her new book “Home Is Where the Eggs Are”, and my go-to quick-pickled cucumbers, was the best decision I’ve made in all of 2022.

steamed bao buns lined up on a cutting board

Wednesday, 10/5/22: Chicken and butternut squash mafe curry. This is now on repeat in our house — a twist on a Food & Wine recipe for lamb and sweet potato curry that checks all the coconut milk and peanut butter boxes.

Thursday, 10/6/22: Pizza Thursday!

Friday, 10/7/22: Chicken, bacon, and slaw grilled cheese. On this day, I had to speak on a zoom meeting for work, in front of perhaps 150+ people? I was so nervous and therefore have almost no memory of these sandwiches — I was too busy being relieved the meeting went well.

On to week two of this post!

dinners written out on a white board

What we made last week, with notes:

Saturday, 10/8/22: Leftovers! I don’t want to admit it was leftover pizza, because then we ended up making pizza on Friday as well and I am now just a carbohydrate. In our defense, we had to get a new dishwasher this day and we started installing it around 6pm, so there was no time or space for dinner.

Sunday, 10/9/22: Saag paneer. Not only did the mounds and mounds of spinach in this recipe help make up for all the pizza, but it was shockingly delicious. I already like pretty much any saag paneer but this one topped them all and made me feel impressed with me! The recipe came from Melissa Clark’s new book,  “Dinner In One”. Perfectly heavy on the cumin seeds, garam masala, and shallots, plus a little buttermilk and heavy cream and just yes. Yes, yes, yes. I used  The Big Moo baked cheese instead of paneer. One time Joey and I made our own paneer… this was better.

saag paneer and nan on a plate

Monday, 10/10/22: Peanut Chicken. This peanutty, veggie-loaded recipe is my ride or die. I will love her forever.

Tuesday, 10/11/22: Tamale pie and salad. I always love the idea of tamale pie then am only mildly interested once it’s on my plate. This was a very easy recipe, also from Melissa Clark’s book,  “Dinner In One”, and is super filling and easy to add kale, more beans, or other stuff to, which we did. And, the cornbread topping has a blanket of crispy cheddar cheese on top — who’s not here for that? But, I feel like I need to be more physically active in order to truly appreciate tamale pie’s heartiness.

Wednesday, 10/12/22: No cooking! Joey was out, it was just me, and I ate a bagel.

Thursday, 10/13/22: Pasta Amatriciana. If you want to feel like a total boss in the kitchen, get some pork shoulder, tomatoes, pecorino, lemon juice, and this recipe from  “Italian American: Red Sauce Classics and New Essentials: A Cookbook” by Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli. I made this for the girls I play spades with and it was a real moment. The slow-cooked cubes of pork gave the sauce a depth of flavor I’m not sure I’ve accomplished in my kitchen before and I felt like an Italian-cooking queen.

Pasta Amatriciana in a bowl with a wedge of lemon and grated pecorino

Friday, 10/14/22: Pizza and salad. As many other posts on this blog will tell you, I’ve been hunting for a new pizza dough recipe. Sadly, I have nothing to report after this one b/c we used fresh store-bought dough. The search continues.

That’s all!

Late/End of September 2022 Menus

Another twofer this week because things have been super busy around here. We dogsat Bear’s bestie, Dubbie, for a few days. 102-yr-old legend, Mamaw, passed away peacefully. And Joey and I celebrated our 6th anniversary. Life, y’all!

*This post contains affiliate links to some of my favorite cookbooks. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

Here we go:

dinners written out on a white board

late September 2022 menu

What we made last week, with notes:

Saturday, 9/17/22: Jalapeno poppers for a friend’s block party! We attended an annual fall block party at a friend’s house this night and I brought baked, bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers from Dinner at the Zoo’s recipe. They were great but the real thing worth mentioning here is the friend hosting the party had a chef friend smoke a half pig and a bunch of chickens for everyone. The aroma! Good god.

Sunday, 9/18/22: Grilled pork and cider-braised cabbage and apples. This recipe was from Anna Stockwell’s cookbook “For the Table” and used a thin cut of pork shoulder I ordered from Porter Road — it was basically a pork steak. And, we braised big hunks of cabbage and halved apples in apple cider in a cast iron skillet right on the grill. Fall, y’all! Also a pickled shallot salsa verde. And to go with, the author recommends a whiskey/apple cider/lemon juice cocktail, which we def did, except with bourbon. Liquor makes me cranky these days but a little wine fixed that.

Monday, 9/19/22: Chickpea and tomato curry with rice and toasted almonds. A slow cooker dinner! I loved this, and am happy I resisted the urge to add ground turkey — I feel like it would have muddled the flavor and this recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli’s book, “Cook With Me”  was perfect as is. And toasted slivered almonds on top? Yes. My bowl was half-eaten before I remembered to snap a pic:

bowl of chickpea and tomato curry on counter top

Tuesday, 9/20/22: Gyro bowls. This one surprised me! It is gyro meat that tastes like the real deal, made from ground beef. On a weeknight. In a loaf pan. Kinda like a pate of some sort? IDK, IDC — it worked and I thoroughly enjoyed it in a bowl of fresh, crisp veggies with lots of feta and yogurt sauce. Find the recipe here on The Modern Proper. (The recipe calls for ground beef and ground lamb, I only had beef so cut the recipe in half and it was still enough for me and Joey + leftovers.) Please enjoy this too-dark lap shot:

Gyro bowls with bread and a glass of wine

Wednesday, 9/21/22: Leftover pork, cabbage, and apples in Mandarin pancakes. Molly Yeh made me make dim sum and I’m very happy about it. I saw her toasting these Mandarin pancakes in a dry skillet and peeling them apart to make paper-thin wraps for a Peking chicken filling and thought: I gotta do this. Except with leftover grilled pork, cabbage, and chopped-up apples from Sunday sauteed in gochujang, hoisin, and sambal oelek. Come on! It was amazing.

Thursday, 9/22/22: Leftovers! Enough cooking already.

Friday, 9/23/22: French onion soup. Never enough cooking! I’ve made FO Soup approximately 85 zillion times in my life, decided to try this NYT Cooking recipe from Sara Bonisteel this week, and it was by far the simplest and most tasty of the bunch. Way to go. Adding the flour (use Wondraflour if you suck at dissolving lumps like me) and letting it boil for 10 minutes was the trick — it got perfectly thick and the flavors were spot on. Also, no toasting the bread! Just broiling it with the gruyere on top gave it plenty of texture around the edges while the middle stayed soft and melty in the soup. A+

For baking last week I revisited an old fave: my Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies. This time, I actually let the dough rest in the fridge overnight and I think it did make the texture better.

Now on to this week:

end of September 2022 menu

dinners written out on a white board

What we made this week, with notes:

Saturday, 9/24/22: Frozen pizza and salad! No explanation needed.

Sunday, 9/25/22: Root vegetable pot pie and salad. It’s not fall until you pot pie something. Joey was not sold on this at first (hello, no meat), but we both fully enjoyed it and ate almost all the leftovers, which is saying something given it’s a double-crust pot pie loaded with hearty veg. This recipe came from the cookbook “To the Last Bite” by Alexis deBoschnek and I highly recommend. The mixture of veggies is customizable; I used turnips, yukon golds, carrots, and sweet potato and really need to remember this one when I have one or two of a few veggies lying around — it’s is an ideal way to use them up. Note to self: always remember the flaky salt on top of the crust. Heaven. Also, someone teach me to crimp a crust. Please.

pot pie in a glass dish on the stovetop

Monday, 9/26/22: White Chicken Chili. I’m just going to say, the method and the bacon are where it’s at with this. So easy, super smoky, and you don’t even have to add salt b/c the other ingredients are so dang flavorful on their own. This recipe is on repeat in this house. Thanks, Pinch of Yum!

Tuesday, 9/27/22: leftovers!

Wednesday, 9/28/22: Take-out Thai food from Pok’s Art!

Thursday, 9/29/22: Anniversary celebration dinner at Urban Kitchen❤️

Friday, 9/30/22: Skirt steak steamed buns and Maangchi wings. Stop everything and look at these wings right now:

fried chicken wings piled on a plate

Now, go to Maangchi’s YouTube, watch, and learn. These wings are the reason I need this blog — there needs to be a record of things that are so deliciously crispy, your eyeballs could break from looking at them. I can’t continue talking about these or else I’ll cry. Just know: potato starch is king, and a wing sauce with heat, sweet, salt, and tang is queen. Moving on… Molly Yeh made me make dim sum AGAIN! As our anniversary celebration #2 (neither of which were on our actual anniversay🙃), we made Molly Yeh’s steamed bun recipe and subbed in skirt steak for flank steak and they were so fun and turned out perfectly. For us, the curry powder drowned out the rest of the flavors, but otherwise 10/10. Bonus: the leftover buns are in our freezer!

ingredients for skirt steak steamed buns on a pan

Good times all around. See ya next time.

Mid-September Menu + Spicy Coconut Noodles

Another tasty week in the books. Let’s discuss! (Also, someone got new markers!! Me.)

dinners written out on a white board

*This post contains affiliate links to some of my favorite cookbooks. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

mid-September dinners

What we made last week, with notes:

Saturday, 9/10/22: Pizza and salad! I mentioned last week I’m on a quest for a new pizza dough and, to that end, I tried the NYT Cooking highly-rated pizza dough recipe this week. It was good — my personal favorite for homemade dough so far. What I’m really looking for in homemade dough is for it to emerge from the oven with big, pillowy bubbles. This one had the beginning of one bubble. So, ya know… it’s something. I’m still searching and Joey still prefers store-bought Publix dough.

pepperoni pizza on a cutting board

Sunday 9/11/22: Spicy Coconut Noodles. I started out with Melissa Clark’s recipe for Gingery Coconut Noodles with Shrimp and Greens from her new cookbook “Dinner In One”, and ended up with the Spicy Coconut Noodles recipe shared below, which uses chicken breasts, a hot little gochujang/sambal olek marinade, a bunch of chopped green beans, and subs in pasta for rice noodles. We looooved this and I have to think it’s due to that mound of spaghetti being cooked in a spicy coconut milk bath. Fab!

Monday 9/12/22: Kimchi Fried Rice. A hit! And this recipe also came from that same Melissa Clark book. I made this for the crew at my friend’s inn and my only regret was not being able to include the fluffy scrambled egg that Joey and I got to enjoy with it (scrambled eggs + make-ahead meals for large groups just don’t mix in my mind).

Tuesday 9/13/22: Pizza again! Nope, we did not follow the plan. But, Joey and I did do something this day that’s been 10 years in the making: we took our boat over to our local Indian spot, Masala Bay, for lunch and ate all the things. Ah-mazing.

dishes of Indian food laid out on a table

Wednesday 8/13/22: leftover Indian food!

Thursday 8/14/22: Dinner at mom and dad’s. My mom made paella with shrimp, scallops, mussels, and chorizo and WHY do I not ever make paella?? It was so good.

Friday 8/15/22: Trader Joe’s Cacio e Pepe Ravioli with Cajun Alfredo Sauce. We’d planned on eating leftovers but had this instead and it tasted like canned spaghettios, which to me, is a good thing.

This week’s baking efforts: Brown Butter Brown Sugar Cookies. I make these preeeetttty often — they’re the just-right combo of nutty brown butter and molassas-y brown sugar and the texture is perfectly crinkly-soft. The recipe is from  America’s Test Kitchen’s “New Essentials Cookbook”, although I think they’re just called Brown Sugar Cookies in there. Why they don’t call out the brown-butteriness in the title, I’ll never know.

cookies on a cooling rack

Now on to this week’s recipe. It’s a goody❤️


Mid-September Menu + Spicy Coconut Noodles

noodles with lots of herbs and spinach in a skillet with tongs

This recipe is a twist on the Gingery Coconut Noodles from Melissa Clark’s cookbook “Dinner In One”, using spaghetti noodles, chicken breasts, a spicy marinade, and green beans.

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin pieces, about 1” long
  • 1/3 C gochujang sauce
  • 2 TBS sambal olek
  • 3 TBS coconut oil
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced (keep the white and green parts separated)
  • 2 jalapenos, thinly sliced (divided)
  • 1/2 lb green beans, chopped into 1/3“-long pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated on a microplane
  • 1” of fresh ginger, grated on a microplane
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 1/4 lb spaghetti
  • 2 TBS fish sauce
  • 1 5 oz container of spinach, roughly chopped
  • juice of 23 limes
  • 1 C chopped fresh herbs (I used cilantro, basil, and mint)
  • chopped peanuts, for garnish


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the sliced chicken breast, gochujang sauce, and sambal olek, toss to coat, and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
  2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the coconut oil, then add the marinated chicken breast. Cook, stirring once or twice until the chicken is seared on the outside – about 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Do not wipe out the pan.
  3. Melt the remaining TBS of coconut oil in the same skillet, then add the scallion whites, half the jalapeno, and the green beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and the beans turn bright green – 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute.
  4. Increase heat to high and dd the coconut and chicken stock to the pan, stirring to combine. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the spaghetti. Cook, stirring occasionally until pasta is al dente – about 9 minutes. Add more stock if the mixture gets too dry.
  5. Stir in the fish sauce, the reserved cooked chicken, and the spinach, and cook until the spinach is just wilted. Taste and season with as much of the lime juice as you like, and/or add more fish sauce or a pinch of salt if it needs it.
  6. Sprinkle remaining sliced jalapenos, chopped herbs, and peanuts over top and serve.


*The cooking times and nutritional info noted in this recipe are approximate.

Keywords: easy chicken breast recipe, coconut milk noodles, spicy noodle recipe

Early September Menus

This week’s post is a twofer with no real recipe b/c I’m a bit behind schedule — a bit behind all of life, actually but that’s ok. I couldn’t just skip a post because there’s been so much good food the past two weeks and I need a record of it!

*This post contains affiliate links to some of my favorite cookbooks. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

last days of August, first days of September dinners

What we made last week, with notes:

dinners written out on a white board

Saturday 8/27/22: Kimchi and bacon grilled cheese with fries. What else do you need on a Saturday night? This was Pinch of Yum‘s recipe, except I added spinach to the bacon/kimchi mixture. We eat this sandwich on the reg — it’s pretty much perfect.

Sunday 8/28/22: Pasta e fagioli with garlic bread. Ok, this I ate all week long with many, many Ritz crackers and it was so satisfying. The recipe came from a book I’ve mentioned before, my all-time fave: “Italian American: Red Sauce Classics and New Essentials: A Cookbook” by Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli. If you have a mouth and like to cook even a little bit, buy this book. Just LOOK at the tiny pasta and the greens and the broth and the Parm:

Pasta e Fagioli in bowls with bread on the side

Monday 8/29/22: Chicken and squash mafe curry. I thoroughly regret not snapping a picture of this because it was a real highlight of the week. I used a lamb and sweet potato curry recipe from the latest Food & Wine magazine — the recipe is not on their website for me to link to here but it has both peanut butter and coconut milk (like, wow), and a super flavorful spice blend. I swapped in chicken thighs and butternut squash for the lamb and sweet potatoes and I gotta make this again and write it all down, it’s a definite keeper.

Tuesday 8/30/22: Tacos. TACO TUESDAY mmkay

Wednesday 8/31/22: Merguez meatballs with roasted squash and salad. This recipe kinda sorta came from a book called “For The Table” by Anna Stockwell except I used merguez sausages I got at the state farmer’s market instead of ground lamb and turned the whole thing into a flatbread/wrap situation with lots of pickled onions and cucumber and feta and a pistachio gremolata. I thanked myself for those bright ideas.

Merguez Meatballs and Roasted SquashMerguez Meatballs and Roasted Squash

Thursday 9/1/22: Summer squash and onion lasagna and salad. I must must must come back to this one someday and write out the whole recipe. I basically combined the caramelized squash and onions from Vivian Howard’s book Deep Run Roots with the lasagna verde from Italian American, which includes an incredible, bright green pistachio pesto and a creamy bechamel. I mean, come on.

Summer Squash and Onion Lasagna on two plates

Friday 9/2/22: Collard green pizza and salad. I had half a big bag of collard greens left after Sunday’s pasta e fagioli and they sure did end up sauteed and on my pizza Friday night. New thing: I’m on a quest for the best pizza dough recipe. I’m over my go-to pizza dough at the moment, although I haven’t found one I like better yet. This one did not quite do it for me, but even bad pizza is good pizza:

Pizza on parchment paper with marinara sauce

And that’s the end of that week! On to this week, where I took far fewer pictures:

Early September dinners

dinners written out on a white board

What we made this week, with notes:

Saturday 9/3/22: Rigatoni with sausage, basil, and mustard cream sauce and salad. I get big end-of-summer-almost-fall vibes from this meal. It’s a crossover dinner! The recipe is from Food & Wine, and the whole thing only takes up the space of one paragraph. Read: it’s easy.

Sunday 9/4/22: Moroccan roast with chickpeas and couscous with lemony broccolini. 10 out of 10 would make again, just for the smell. It’s pot roast but with harissa, cumin, and cinnamon and my house smelled like heaven for at least 4 hours. This recipe was perfect and came from Colu Henry’s book, “Colu Cooks“. The picture doesn’t do it justice but it makes me happy to remember this meal.

Moroccan Roast with Chickpeas and Couscous with Broccolini

Monday 9/5/22: Grilled wings; grilled moo cheese, pork tenderloin and broccoli rabe subs, roasted potatoes, and brownies. It was Labor Day! And we had friends over and had a ball. Is it a good idea to make hot, time-consuming sandwiches for a crowd? No, but these pork and broccoli rabe subs are really, really good. They’re from America’s Test Kitchen’s “New Essentials Cookbook“.

Tuesday 9/6/22: leftovers!

Wednesday 9/7/22: leftovers again! Joey wasn’t home so I didn’t cook.

Thursday 9/8/22: Lentil soup in bread bowls. If you ever need a self-esteem boost, make these bread bowls from Molly Yeh. If you follow the recipe exactly, you will end up with restaurant-quality bread bowls and feel like a total superstar. I sort of regret not making the lentil soup she serves in them but I had to try the recipe from “To the Last Bite” by Alexis deBoschnek. Alexis warns it will seem weird that the bacon in the soup is not crisped, it just simmers/cooks along with everything else in the stock, then you thinly slice it at the end and add it back to the soup and the pieces end up as velvety little flavor bombs. I agree it did taste wonderful and yes, it was weird.

Lentil Soup in Bread Bowls on a countertop

And with that, we’re done! Looking forward to more great food and trying out some new stuff next week.

End of August Menu + Macadamia Rum Bars

Sending silent thanks to the universe that it’s almost September and we’re quickly approaching the absolute best time of year on the OBX. Finally! But, while it’s still August, let’s recap this week’s dinners:

dinners written out on a white board

*This post contains affiliate links to some of my favorite cookbooks. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

end of august dinners

What we made this week, with notes:

Saturday 8/20/22: Brothy fregola, broccoli rabe, and prosciutto with grilled cheese. Hot soup in August is totally fine by me and this one was fun. At first, my taste buds were like, “NO!” because the broth became pretty bitter, thanks to the broccoli rabe. But… I also could not stop eating it. I think the salty prosciutto, the parmesan, the tiny pasta, and the rich broth just made it all alright. I would not have liked it as much without the bitterness. It all works. This recipe came from Colu Henry’s book, “Colu Cooks“, from which everything I’ve cooked so far has been fab. Here’s a pic of this meal, which has me frustratedly sighing at how much better the picture would be had I put a couple of spoons in the dang bowls. Oh well.

bowls of soup and a plate of grilled cheese sandwiches

Sunday 8/21/22: Frozen pizza and salad!

Monday 8/22/22: Giant Dinner Salad. A Serving Tonight staple. This time I made it with kale, brown rice, roasted carrots and chickpeas, smoked almonds, golden raisins, feta, and chicken. So goooood.

Tuesday 8/23/22: Scallion feta dip; corn, zucchini, and shrimp salad; steak and tuna with romesco sauce; roasted potatoes; and pistachio cake. Our good friends Tara and Jamie (of the lovely blog and YouTube channel Savory Saver) were in town and came for dinner! I barely remember how good the food was because it was so nice to see them and catch up (and there was more than one bottle of wine involved), but I know it was indeed good. My favorite part was the romesco sauce, which I need to document with a full recipe at a later date, but is roasted red pepps, smoked almonds, sherry vinegar, honey, and olive oil all blended in a food processor. Can literally eat it by the spoonful, all by itself. We had it with a seared sirloin steak (was very nervous about this cut being tough but Tara has a sixth sense for when to flip a piece of meat and she nailed it).

Wednesday 8/24/22: Trader Joe’s sweet corn, burrata, and basil ravioli with fresh tomato butter sauce and salad. The menu board said miso harissa noodles for this night but it wasn’t in the cards. This ravioli was in our freezer and felt much easier. The sauce was pretty much this Fresh Tomato Butter Sauce recipe, which I should make more often than I do.

Thursday 8/25/22: Grilled wings and salad. Should we talk about why we eat wings so often? Sure. It’s because we messed up our CrowdCow order twice in a row and now have enough wings to feed a football stadium. It’s fine, we’re fine. For this, we once again used the Buffalo Wild Wings thai curry sauce. It’s addictive!

Friday 8/26/22: Steak al limon with roasted potatoes and creamed kale. Big steakhouse vibes over here! This steak was interesting — the marinade/sauce was lemon juice, sugar, chiles, and fish sauce and I’m glad we tried it but not sure I’d make it again. The creamed kale on the other hand… holy cow. I used the Greatest Creamed Greens recipe from Alison Roman’s book “Nothing Fancy“. I want more RIGHT NOW.

plates of steak, potatoes, and greens with a glass of red wine

I mean… I’m pretty proud of this week of food. High fives. For the recipe this time around, I’m sharing the baked good that’s been most successful with the guests at the inn I bake for each week: Macadamia Rum Bars. It’s a version of my mother-in-law’s recipe and I believe she got it from a cookbook, sorry I don’t know which one. But these bars are foolproof and so sweet and gooey and crunchy, and just a little boozy. Love!


Macadamia Rum Bars

macadamia rum bars stacked on a plate

A sweet cookie crust topped with a lightly boozy, gooey coconut and macadamia nut filling.

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 16 squares 1x
  • Category: dessert, snack



Cookie crust:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 C flour
  • pinch of kosher salt


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 C light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 C flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 C macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBS rum


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 cake pan and line it with parchment (leave some parchment hanging over the edges for easy removal).
  2. Make the crust: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and flour and mix until thoroughly blended. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the cake pan (no need to wash out the bowl, you can reuse it for the filling). Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until beginning to brown.
  3. Make the filling: In the same bowl you used for the crust, combine all of the filling ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended. Spread this mixture evenly over the baked crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the filling is firm and golden brown on top.


*The cooking times and nutritional info noted in this recipe are approximate.

A stand mixer is not necessary — you can make this recipe stirring by hand or using a hand mixer.

In the photo, I cut these into smaller-than-usual squares because I was making them for a group that requests bite-sized servings.

Keywords: macadamia recipe, macadamia rum cookie bars, coconut recipe

Late August Menu + Crispy Pecorino Romano Chicken Sandwiches

Shall we talk about what we’re eating? Here’s what went on at our house this week:

dinners written out on a white board

Usually we deviate from the white board slightly but, this week, I’m glad to say it all went pretty much as planned. Let’s discuss the juicy details, and keep scrolling for how I finally perfected the Crispy Pecorino Romano Chicken Sandwich pictured at the top, which has been haunting my dreams.

*This post contains affiliate links to some of my favorite cookbooks. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

late august dinners

What we made this week, with notes:

Saturday 8/13/22: Fig, caramelized onion, and bacon pizza. Come on. Do I need to say this? It was obviously amazing. The recipe came from NYT Cooking except I used fresh figs we grilled last week and added shredded fontina and goat cheese to the blue cheese called for in the recipe. More is more when we’re talking cheese.

Caramelized Onion, Fig, and Bacon Pizza on a cutting board

Sunday 8/14/22: Beef phyllo pie with salad. Wowzers… this was even better than expected and I expected a lot — it is super-seasoned meat wrapped in flaky pastry, after all. I’d originally planned to add some sauteed zucchini and bell peppers but then thought, “Calm down here, just try it the way the recipe was written.” Very glad I did — this phyllo pie needs nothing but the beef, the feta, the fresh herbs on top, and maybe a little lemony yogurt sauce on the side. The recipe came from the cookbook “To the Last Bite” by Alexis deBoschnek . Except, her recipe used lamb. Lolz, I guess I didn’t follow the recipe 100% but whatever — it was still amazing and will be making it again!

Monday 8/15/22: Chicken mole with cilantro-lime beans and rice. A repeat recipe in our house from America’s Test Kitchen’s book, “Dinner Illustrated: 175 Meals Ready in 1 Hour or Less”. It sounds wrong, but this mole sauce can be made in like… 10 minutes. And it’s reeeeeaaalllly good. This time, I used the leftover chile-peanut salsa from last week’s skirt steak tacos in the mole and it worked great!

Tuesday 8/16/22: Crispy Pecorino Romano Chicken Sandwiches! Recipe below! Proud to say, on what ended up being the third try, I finally nailed the right combo of ingredients (following last Sunday’s fried chicken cutlet disappointment). The elements that righted all my past sandwich wrongs: a toasted brioche bun (not a kaiser roll!), my standby Crispy Pecorino Romano Chicken recipe (crackly and crispy, not greasy like previous attempts), and homemade quick pickles for a much-needed tangy crunch. Hallelujah.

Wednesday 8/17/22: –leftovers–

Thursday 8/18/22: Smoked ribs with cola BBQ sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, and salad. Fun times and a good bottle of shiraz were had on Thursday. This cola BBQ sauce is where it’s at. The recipe came from Toni Tipton-Martin’s cookbook ,”Jubilee” and is the sauce she pairs with the orange-glazed wings shared last week. Loved! I mean… look at these freaking ribs:

glazed ribs on aluminum foil

Friday 8/19/22: Pasta with white vodka sauce, garlic bread, and salad. Heck yeah! A deceptively simple recipe that tastes like the best alfredo sauce you’ve ever had but better, from my all-time favorite book, “Italian American: Red Sauce Classics and New Essentials: A Cookbook” by Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli. I bought this book b/c Bon Appetit wrote about its mussels stuffed with pepperoni rice recipe and I thought, “These people get me.” I’m quickly cooking my way through the whole thing and am very glad I tried this buttery, creamy, onion-and-shallot-laced pasta. It’s fab. No photo b/c we ate it too fast.

What a tasty week! Now please enjoy this crispy chicken sammy:


Crispy Pecorino Romano Chicken Sandwiches

crispy chicken sandwiches on parchment paper

Thinly sliced chicken coated in a mixture of grated pecorino romano cheese and breadcrumbs and pan-fried, topped with shredded cabbage, parmesan, and quick pickles, sandwiched between toasted brioche with a generous layer of lemony mayo!

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, lunch


  • 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning the mayo
  • 1/2 C white vinegar
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 C mayo
  • 1/4 C greek yogurt
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • Crispy Pecorino Romano Chicken
  • shaved Parmesan
  • shredded napa or savoy cabbage
  • 4 brioche burger buns, toasted


  1. Make the quick pickles: in a large bowl, toss thinly sliced cucumber in a teaspoon of salt and let sit for an hour in the fridge with a heavy bowl on top to help press the liquid out. Drain off the liquid, stir together the vinegar and sugar until the sugar has dissolved (or mostly dissolved) then toss the cucumber slices in the vinegar mixture, season with pepper, and refrigerate until ready to eat.
  2. Make the lemon mayo: stir together the mayo, yogurt, and lemon juice. Season with salt, to taste.
  3. Assemble the sandwiches in this order: toasted brioche bun, lemon mayo, 1 piece of Crispy Pecorino Romano Chicken (slice in half and stack it to make it fit), shaved Parmesan, quick pickles, shredded cabbage, more lemon mayo on the top half of the toasted brioche bun.


*The cooking times and nutritional info noted in this recipe are approximate.

Keywords: crispy chicken sandwich, pecorino romano chicken, chicken breast recipe

Mid-August Menu + Orange-Glazed Grilled Wings

Back again with another week’s worth of dinners and a recipe! Here was the original plan for the week:

dinners written out on a white board

We didn’t totally stick to this plan but came pretty close. Pizza delivery made an appearance and one meal was swapped out because our grocery store didn’t have what I needed, plus I found FIGS at the farmer’s market. Fig life forever.

*This post contains affiliate links to some of my favorite cookbooks. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

Mid-August dinners

What we made this week, with notes:

Saturday 8/6/22: Grilled fig and cheese skewers w/ hot Italian sausage. Man, this was a good one. We were meant to have grilled halloumi and veg skewers but my local search for halloumi only turned up something called The Big Moo baked cheese, which I now never want to be without. It can be grilled or cooked in a skillet and tastes just like a grilled cheese sandwich, except no bread. We threw the above-mentioned figs on skewers with the cheese, some red onion, and tossed it all on the grill alongside sausage. *Chef’s kiss* and so good for summer. Check it out:

figs, cheese and onions on skewers

Sunday 8/7/22: Fried chicken cutlet sandwiches with fries. This was… ok. I was following a recipe for the breaded and fried chicken cutlets and, IMO, it ended up too greasy-tasting. We can do better! Stay tuned for round two of this meal next week.

Monday 8/8/22: We ordered pizza! I did also make the coconut curry meatballs mentioned in the photo above but that was for the folks I cook for at our local inn. I used this coconut curry pork meatball recipe from How Sweet Eats, used turkey instead of pork, subbed ground almonds for the breadcrumbs, (one of the gals at the inn doesn’t like to eat pork and is gluten-intolerant) and added sweet potato and spinach. For me, this recipe is as good as takeout. Winner! I just didn’t make enough for Joey and me to eat, plus we had friends over for haircuts… it was a busy night, so pizza was the solution.

Tuesday 8/9/22: leftoveeeeers

Wednesday 8/10/22: Skirt steak tacos with chile-peanut salsa. This recipe came from Alison Roman’s cookbook ,”Nothing Fancy”. The salsa, which is just toasted dried chiles, peanuts, and oil, came out a little bitter (I think b/c I overtoasted the chiles). However, we added lime juice and honey and it ended up tasting good enough that I’m going to reuse it in a mole sauce this week. Fab!

Thursday 8/11/22: Curried turkey and vegetable quinoa. Here, I was messing with a simple recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli’s book, “Cook With Me” by adding zucchini, red onion, and tomatoes to a ground turkey quinoa pilaf seasoned with curry powder. I topped it with the spicy chakri mix from Trader Joe’s, which turned an otherwise soft, semi-textureless meal into a crunchy adventure. Loved, and will be making it again with even more tweaks.

Friday 8/12/22: Orange-glazed grilled wings, roasted broccoli, and fries. Wing recipe below! What a way to end the week.


Orange-Glazed Grilled Wings

orange-glazed chicken wings on a sheet pan

Grilling chicken wings on indirect heat for 15-20 minutes, then tossing them in a sweet and salty orange glaze and throwing them back on the grill for a couple minutes prevents the glaze from burning and gives you perfectly sticky, glazed, grilled wings. The glaze recipe came from Toni Tipton-Martin’s book ,”Jubilee”. (In the book, she shares a method for oven-baking the wings if you prefer not to grill them, and pairs them with a delicious barbecue sauce.)

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 20 wings 1x
  • Category: dinner, lunch, appetizer
  • Method: grilling


  • 20 chicken wings
  • canola oil for coating the wings
  • 3 TBS orange marmalade
  • 1 TBS light brown sugar
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp of kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the wings
  • 1 tsp black pepper, plus more for seasoning the wings
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 TBS toasted sesame seeds


  1. Preheat a grill, setting one side to medium heat and one side to medium-high.
  2. Pat the wings dry with paper towels and either brush them with canola oil or use a canola oil spray to coat them on all sides. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Place the wings on the side of the grill set to medium heat and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is just starting to show grill marks and the wings are cooked through.
  5. Transfer the wings to the bowl with the orange glaze and toss to coat. Place them back on the grill, this time on the side set to medium-high, and cook for a few minutes longer, turning occasionally, until the glaze is showing grill marks. Be careful not to take your eyes off the wings during this step, as the sugar in the glaze can easily burn.
  6. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.


The cooking time and nutritional info noted in this recipe are approximate.

Keywords: grilled wings, grilled chicken wings, grilled glazed wings, orange-glazed chicken wings