Posts in Main Dishes

homemade pizza on a weeknight

Homemade Pizza Night!

March 22nd, 2017 Posted by Bread, Food, Main Dishes No Comment yet

2017 is well on it’s way… how is it the end of March already?! I have landed on my word for the year, and I’m dreaming up all kinds of ways to apply it in my life. My word is G R O W. That’s yours? 

Grow and dough kinda go hand-in-hand. It’s an easy connection, especially when yeast is involved. Watching dough expand in the bowl is fun! Well, I don’t usually sit there and watch it, it’s more like I check up on it occasionally. But just like a little plant in the garden or my young niece, I get excited over growth. I also get excited over pizza. 


the best oven fried chicken - pickle jar studios

3 Tips for Better Oven Fried Chicken

December 19th, 2016 Posted by Food, Main Dishes, Meat No Comment yet

My mom used to make oven fried chicken a lot. I remember coming home on Sundays from church, and we were likely to have one of three dishes: Pot roast, meatloaf, or oven fried chicken. Mashed potatoes on the side, no matter what. When I was little, my parents didn’t cook many dishes that were outside of those classic American staples, but they cooked each one of them well. I loved my Mom’s oven fried chicken, but I tried to make it recently and I felt like it could use a few modern improvements (no offense, Mom, I love you!) 


Pork Shoulder Bone In

Garlic and Sage Roasted Bone-In Pork Shoulder

December 14th, 2015 Posted by Main Dishes, Meat No Comment yet

We’ve been enjoying that pig over and over again. This time we tucked into one of the roasts! Funny thing is, Joel grabbed this out of the freezer and I totally thought it was a different roast…. a boneless Pork Loin roast. When I looked at the package again to check if it was thawed, I felt something funny… a bone!  After planning a completely different meal all morning, I realized the mistake and saw the label on the package. Good thing I noticed that this is a bone-in pork shoulder roast, or we would have been eating dinner at 9pm. This roast is far easier then the menu I was imagining, as long as you start it about 4 hours before you plan to eat it!


Collard Rolls with Tikka Masala Sauce

July 15th, 2015 Posted by Main Dishes, Vegetables No Comment yet


collard wraps

I long to be that super healthy, brown-rice eating, ancient grains making girl that always has kale in her fridge. In reality, I’m over here eating the occasional doughnut, dreaming about blueberry scones (true story) and googling onion rings. I absolutely love to eat healthy and I’m always looking for ways to combine healthy and delicious. I’m just saying that I’m not opposed to pie, but I will also eat seconds of that beet salad. I also have a strange obsession with squash and lentils, so there you have it, this recipe has a bunch of my favorite healthy things in it! Doughnuts, you shall win another day.

These collard green wraps are the perfect “cabbage roll” for the healthy world. I had just made cabbage rolls (this was a few months ago, when the weather was rainy) and I was also craving Indian food, specifically Evergreen buffet in Corvallis. So then I started thinking… what would happen if I made sort of an Indian-style cabbage roll?  They are infused with Indian spices throughout and topped with a Tikka Masala sauce. The Tikka Masala sauce has just a splash of cream, so you don’t go too overboard with the healthy-ness. 

This recipe does take a little planning ahead and “pre-cooking” but you will end up with leftover rice, lentils, squash and sauce to feed you all week (and beyond, if you freeze the leftover lentils like I do). So just keep that in mind and maybe plan ahead. Like on Monday you could cook rice and roast squash, then on Tuesday make the lentils and the sauce and then Wednesday you could assemble everything and make the rolls. Since you’ll have more then enough of everything, your Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday meals could include some of what you’re cooking ahead anyways. Make sense? Or if you like to weekend-batch cook, cook up everything in one day and store or freeze the leftover bits of components for the collard rolls to use throughout the week. This is my favorite way to cook, because weeknight meals come together so much faster and easier when I’ve already got some things pre-cooked. 

So here we go! I’ll show you how to make this in one shot, but keep in mind that you can break this into steps or just start with the pre-cooked amounts of the ingredients in the “assembly” part of the recipe. 

Make the rice and set aside. Leave the lid on the pot or the rice cooker, so that the rice doesn’t dry out as it cools. 

Roast the squash. You want pieces that will be thin enough to roll into the wrap. My preference was thin but wide, shingle shaped pieces. The squash gets cumin seeds and hot madras curry powder sprinkled on it. 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-2

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-4

While the squash is roasting, cook the lentils. I used sprouted green lentils and mixed in some things to flavor them while they were still warm. I learned this trick from the most amazing lentil salad recipe ever. Add a little diced red onion, some golden raisins, more spices and some red wine vinegar.

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-3

Start the sauce and then keep it warm or on low until you are ready to serve. If you are making it ahead of time you can make the sauce and keep it in the fridge and then re-heat gently on the stove top before serving. 

Making the sauce is easy. Cook up some onions, ginger and garlic with tomato paste and add some spices and more tomatoes.

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Simmer, puree and then add in some cream. 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-15

Isn’t food a beautiful thing? 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-16

The collard leaves need to be softened. We just boil a pot of water and add them in, cook for one minute and then let cool until you can handle them.

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-7

Okay, now it’s just an assembly line. Set a leaf on a work surface and with a short, sharp knife, cut out the thick stem on the bottom. With the bottom of the leave closest to you, add a small pile of rice (no more then 1/4 up per roll) and top that with a smaller pile of lentils (about 1/8 cup) and then a shingle of squash. 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-8

Start rolling. 

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And set seam side down in a square baking dish. 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-11Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. 

When you are ready to serve, top with warmed Tikka Masala sauce and dig in! 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-12

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-17

Collard Wraps with Tikka Masala Sauce

2 cups cooked Calrose rice (cooked in a rice cooker)

2 cups cooked lentils, recipe follows (sprouted green or green lentils)

2 cups roasted Indian spiced butternut squash (recipe follows)

8-10 collard green leaves

1 batch Tikka Masala Sauce (recipe follows) 

Roasted butternut squash:

Half of 1 small to medium butternut squash

Olive oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1-2 teaspoons hot madras curry powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut squash in half and remove the seeds. Take one half of the squash and use for another use. Slice the other half of the squash into 1/4 inch slices.

Oil a baking sheet (or two, if you are roasting the whole squash, but you will only need one pan of squash for this recipe) and set aside. You don’t want to oil the squash itself, the oil will seal in the moisture and the squash will be get slimy. Arrange the squash with plenty of room on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the cumin seeds and the curry powder over the squash and roast for 20 minutes.



4 cups sprouted green lentils 

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Cook about 4 cups lentils according to package directions. 

Mix the onion, raisins, vinegar and spices into the lentils and set aside 2 cups for another use or freeze in portions. These lentils are excellent in a lentil salad, as is the extra squash you will probably have from this recipe.


For the Tikka Masala Sauce:

Ghee  for cooking

1 onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1” peeled fresh ginger, chopped

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 – 28 oz can tomatoes

6 cardamom pods crushed

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder (garam masala or hot madras curry)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

2 cups heavy cream

Salt and Pepper

Add the ghee to a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sautee for a 5-10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cardamom and chili and cook until the tomato paste has darkened, about 5 minutes. Add the spices and simmer until the sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes. Blend sauce with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and puree. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

To softened the collard leaves:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove each leaf and rinse. When the water is at a rolling boil, place 5 or 6 leaves in the pot for 1 minute. Remove to a strainer and let cool, and then add the rest of the leaves. Set them aside until you are ready to fill and roll them.

To assemble:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Set an 8×8 pan aside and place the collard greens, lentils, rice and squash nearby.

Lay a leaf down on a counter or cutting board. Cut away the thick part of the stem. Take 1/4 cup rice, gently shape into a small cylinder and put on the lower third of the collard leaf. Add 1/8-1/4 cup lentils to the top of the rice. Top with a piece of squash. Roll up starting with the end that is piled high with rice, lentils and squash (see photos). Tuck in the ends so the filling doesn’t fall out. Place each collard roll in the pan, seam side down. Repeat with the next 7-9 wraps, whatever will fit snuggly in the pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. To serve, put 1 or 2 rolls on each plate, and spoon the sauce over the rolls.

Thanks for hanging in there! That is a long one! But I promise that if you break it up, it’s a tasty and fun recipe for meat eater and vegetarians alike, and you can freeze leftovers or eat them throughout the week. 

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Grilled Chicken and Pickled Cherries

July 2nd, 2015 Posted by Grilling, Main Dishes, Meat No Comment yet

grilled + brined chicken with pickled cherries

Sometimes what I want to eat and what I feel like cooking are disparate feelings.

I want to eat doughnuts. I do not feel like standing over frying oil right now. I want to eat roasted chicken and have the convenience of cooked chicken in my fridge to turn into pizza toppings, sandwiches and all kinds of snacks. I do not feel like turning on my oven, not in this heat! In fact, could we just remove the oven from my house and put it in my backyard? Now there’s a place I could cook. It’s already 90 degrees and I don’t have to worry if something gets spilled (which it always does.) Which leads me to grilling.

Hey, here’s an idea. Grill a whole chicken. Could this be done? Won’t the breast end up dry and the thighs be pink? I can’t control a grill… especially not a charcoal grill. Agggh but chicken itself is so delectable on the grill. Maybe I could spatchcock it. If you don’t know what spatchcocking is, I ask you, where were last Thanksgiving? Because everyone and their Grandma was doing it. It’s also called butterflying, if you are too shy to say spatchcock. But I’m not. So what is it? Basically you are removing the backbone from the chicken. It will help the chicken to cook more evenly and faster because it makes the chicken lie in one flat layer. Now the other issue. The breast. How do we make sure it is tender and the dark meat cooked all the way through? I’m borrowing another T-Day secret… brining. 

Brining adds flavor and moisture, as the salt reacts with the muscle proteins to actually dissolve the muscle filaments. So when brining is involved it is usually to keep the entire piece of meat moist, especially when dealing with whole birds that have both light and dark meat parts. The only thing to watch out for is the gravy. Many times a roasted bird that has been brined will result in gravy that is too salty. We’ve made gravy with brined, home rotisserie chickens before, but I usually do not need to add even the tiniest amount of salt. And of course, it depends on how much salt you add to the brine. (See this really interesting article on the science of brining:

This bird went on the grill, so there’s no gravy to worry about, since it’s summer and I’m not about to turn that oven on (you don’t see it in my backyard, do you?)

Here’s how I made this chicken dinner: 

Brine and prep the chicken. You only need to leave it in the brine for 2-3 hours, first removing the backbone and flattening the breastbone allows this chicken to cook evenly and a little faster then if it were still in a round shape. This is also called (giggle) spatchcocking. My Thanksgiving will never be the same. 

For the brine: 
Mix together salt, water and sugar, then crush some rosemary, garlic cloves and peppercorns. I crushed mine in a plastic bag (beating it with a rolling pin. Frustrations=gone.)

grilled and brined chicken
barbecued brined chicken

To butterfly the chicken: 
Take it out of the wrapper, set it on a secured cutting board (with a wet towel or piece of grippy shelf liner so your board doesn’t slip around) and be sure to remove the packet of gizzards and neckbone that come with it. This packet of joyfulness should be inside the cavity of the bird. Save it! It’s great for making chicken stock. Store in your freezer, along with other leftover chicken bones, for fall. Fall is the best time to make stock/bone broth. 

Place the chicken breast side down on the board, and the tail of the chicken pointed towards you.

grilled brined chicken

Feel with your hands where the backbone is… straight down the center of the bird. (See how the wings are furthest away from me? And the breast is on the board? That’s what we want!) You are going to cut up each side of the backbone, leaving it in tact. You are not going to try to cut through the backbone. Make sense? Here’s a little diagram: 

chicken butterfly Cut up one side: 

barbequed brined chicken-9Cut up the other side: 

barbequed brined chicken-11

Set your backbone aside (add it to the bag for stock) and open up the chicken and lay it open side down, flattening it out as much as you can. Place your hand on the largest part of the breasts, in the center, and push down to break the breast bone. This will flatten the chicken even more and help the cooking time and even-ness:

grilled + brined chicken

This is as flat as it’s gonna get!

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Put the chicken in the brine, making sure it’s completely covered. If the chicken wants to float, weigh it down with a small plate. Cover the brine and put in the fridge for 2-3 hours. 

barbequed brined chicken-15When the chicken is almost done in the brine, start to prep the grill. I’m really not (yet) a skilled charcoal grill master. This was the first time I grilled without Joel home, and I’m impressed that nothing caught fire and I didn’t burn myself. Before this I’ve grilled a total of 4 times, under very high supervision. But I just really wanted to make this chicken, so as they say, I just figured it out. And texted Joel. A lot. But one thing I did google before I started this. I read that by putting the hot coals one side of the grill, you will give yourself a hot area and cooler area. Then, when you place the chicken on the grill, face the legs/thighs toward the hotter area, leaving the breast to cook on the cooler area (trust me, it’s still plenty hot!). This is just one more step to ensuring moist and tender white meat and dark meat that is cooked all the way through.

Chimney starter on charcole grill
The grill we use is just a little weber with a chimney starter and 100% natural hardwood briquettes. Before you light anything on fire, open the vents on the bottom and remove the grate. You’ll put the grate back after you heat the coals. Put paper in the bottom of the chimney starter (under the little grate inside of the starter), put any used coals that are still in your barbecue on top of that (these will help the new coals light) then top with new coals until its about flush with the top of the chimney. It will smoke a lot when you first light the paper, but then the smoke will die down and the coals will start going. When the coals on the top are looking white-ish, they are hot. Carefully pour them mostly onto one side, into the grill belly (I totally just made up that term. No idea if it’s real or not.)

While the grill is heating, remove the chicken from the brine and rinse it. Pat it dry with paper towels and put it in a dish or on a baking sheet. Allow it to sit out for 15 min or so and make sure the skin is really dry. Season the chicken and brush with oil. I added the zest of a lemon, mostly on a whim. It was a good whim.

grilled + brined chicken

Place the chicken on the grill, skin side down, legs facing the hot coals. Grill for 20 minutes, then flip, and grill another 20 minutes, covered with the lid vents open halfway. Flipping is easier if you have two pairs of tongs, but the chicken meat stays together pretty well.

grilled + brined chicken

You may need one final sear on the first side (the skin side) right before serving. This will be maybe 5-7 more minutes if you place it right over the hottest part.

grilled + brined chicken
Remove the chicken to a platter, garnish with sprigs of rosemary, lemon slices and serve with pickled cherries.

grilled + brined chicken with pickled cherries
This chicken served two adults the day it was made, then went on to become chicken salad sandwiches, and then just a giant salad with sliced chicken, tomatoes, and corn on romaine.Having cooked chicken around is always a great excuse to make a sandwich or a salad – especially in the summer when it’s too hot to cook.

The pickled cherries were sooo good with this. Alternate between bites of chicken and cherry… it’s really a great way to savor the summer.

Brined and Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken
Recipe Type: Chicken, Main Dish
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
  • For the brine:
  • 1/2 cup salt (iodized sea salt)
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1-4(ish) pound chicken, organic if possible, lightly rinsed and giblets/neck bones removed from the inside of the cavity.
  • Pepper, fresh ground
  • Zest of one organic lemon
  • Grill and Charcoal briquettes, paper, lighter
  • Pickled Cherries, for serving, optional
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Lemon wedges
  1. Make the brine by mixing the water, salt, and sugar in a large pot. A stainless steel soup pot is what I commonly use. Place the garlic, rosemary and pepper corns in a zip lock bag and crush with a rolling pin (with a few good wacks!) then add it to the water mixture. Set aside while you handle the chicken.
  2. Remove the backbone from the bird by setting the breast side down of the chicken on a cutting board (a cutting board that has either a damp/wet towel under it to secure it from slipping, or a grippy piece of shelf liner). Make sure the breasts are away from you and the opening of the chicken is closest to you. Cut off the excess skin that is around the tail of the chicken. With kitchen shears, begin cutting along one side of the backbone all the way up towards the “shoulder blades” (the area in between each wing). Now you have cut the chicken open. You want to cut the same way up the other side of the backbone to fully remove it. Save the backbone for chicken stock (put it in a plastic bag in your freezer).
  3. Turn the bird over and flatten it out as best as you can. You need to break the breastbone now, and it’s easier then you think. Place the palm of your hand on the upper middle area of the breast and give it a firm downward push. It usually takes me one or two good shoves against the cutting board, and then the bird looks pretty flattened.
  4. Put it in the brine. If it wants to float, like mine did, place a small, heavy plate on the top of it to weigh it down. It needs to be totally submerged in the brine. Cover the pot and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours, but no more then 4.
  5. When the bird is almost done brining, you can pre-heat and prep your grill. Remove the grill grate, set aside. Open any bottom vents, open the lid vent halfway. Put paper in the bottom of the chimney starter; put any used coals that are still in your barbeque on top of that (these will help the new coals light-yes I’m talking about reaching in the cold grill with your bare hands and getting them dirty. Grilling with charcoal is a dirty business.) Top the old coals with new coals until it is about flush with the top of the chimney. Light the paper in the bottom. It will smoke a lot when you first light the paper, but then the smoke will die down and the coals will start going. This will heat up while you finish prepping the chicken.
  6. Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the brine down the kitchen sink. Lightly rinse it and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken on a tray or platter, skin side up and make sure that the skin is as dry as possible. Season with ground pepper and the lemon zest, then brush olive oil all over the skin.
  7. The bird is prepped, go check on your coals.
  8. When the coals on the top are looking white-ish, they are hot. Carefully pour them mostly onto one side (not in the center) of the grill belly.
  9. Place the grill grate back on the grill. Place the chicken on the grill, skin side down, with legs pointing into the hot side, where the coals are, and breast pointed away to the cooler side (where there are no coals.) Cover with the lid and cook 20 minutes.
  10. After 20 minutes, flip, making sure the legs are still facing the hot side, and cook 20 more minutes, covered. You may need one final sear on the first side (the skin side) right before serving. This will be maybe 5-7 more minutes if you place it right over the hottest part.
  11. Remove to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Make sure it is cooked, but poking the tip of a knife in the dark meat. If the juices run clear, and the meat is opaque, it’s cooked. You can also insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast or thigh, being careful not to touch the bone. It’s done at 160 degrees F. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs, lemon wedges and pickled cherries and cut in to pieces to serve.



Crispy Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

April 21st, 2015 Posted by Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Meat 1 comment

gf fried chicken

This fried chicken has been a craving since I saw it in a recent cook book purchase, Party Like a Culinista. These ladies are full of fun tips and recipes for throwing major parties, small parties, or just cooking up some delicious food! 

Take this fried chicken, for example. It’s crispy, juicy, you can make it ahead, and it’s gluten free! HELLLO! Genius. 

Brown rice flour does wonders here, as does a buttermilk soak (I’m currently obsessed with buttermilk) and a spice mix they call in their book “The Colonel.” HA. 

I love the fry/bake method. I want to try this with bone-in chicken wings and a spicy asian style sauce next time! 

Here’s how you do it. You want to start the chicken a day ahead or at least let it marinate for 4 hours (you could easily throw this together before work in the morning and come home to some chicken dinner!) 

Make the spice mixture: combine garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne…basically this is your secret spice blend and you’ll use half your cabinet, but it’s awesome.

fried chicken spice mix

You use the mixture in the marinade for the chicken, the flour coating AND the gravy. I loved this idea, it really made the spices stand out! Below: buttermilk and spices get mixed together, spices and brown rice flour get mixed together. 

gf fried chicken-3

Put the buttermilk in a ziptop bag and pour the buttermilk mixture over it. 

buttermilk fried chicken

Let this sit at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to cook, get your station ready! Preheat the oven and heat the oil to 350. Then take the chicken out of the buttermilk and toss it, a piece at a time, with the flour mixture. Delicious, delicious fried chicken. 

gf fried chicken

This goes (on the rack) into the oven and is baked for 10 minutes. The result is delicious, crispy, flavorful chicken. It’s chicken breast! It’s gluten-free! It’s make-ahead! It’s completely perfect for summer or your next picnic. 

gf fried chicken breast

We had this with roasted fingerling potatoes and gravy (recipe below). I also made a romaine salad with cucumber, avocado, blue cheese, sunflower seeds and a homemade kefir ranch dressing! A salad like that goes perfect with this comfort food chicken.

gf fried chicken

Crispy Gluten Free Fried Chicken
Recipe Type: Dinner, Main Dish
Serves: 4 servings
  • Gluten Free Crispy Fried Chicken
  • The chicken:
  • Spice mix:
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • For the chicken:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half (or thighs, left whole, or a mix of both)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • For the gravy:
  • 6 tablespoons ap flour (or brown rice flour, if you want to do this gluten free)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons reserved spice mix
  1. Mix up the spices. In a small bowl measure and mix up the spice blend. Measure out the rice flour and place in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the spice mix to the rice flour and whisk together or stir with a fork. Set aside.
  2. Marinate the chicken: In a ziptop bag set inside of a glass bowl, set the chicken in the bottom of the plastic bag. In a small measuring cup, add the buttermilk and 1/2 the remaining spice mix and blend together. Save the remaining spice mix for the gravy. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the plastic bag with the chicken. Seal the bag and gently massage it so that the chicken is coated with the spicy buttermilk. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  3. To cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Find a rack and a baking sheet that will fit the rack inside of it. Fill a cast iron skillet or large pot with at least 1” of the vegetable oil and use a candy thermometer to heat to 350 degrees over medium heat.
  4. When the oil is right around 350, you are ready to fry the chicken! Take the marinated chicken out of the fridge, and dump the flour and spice mixture on a large plate or small tray. You want it big enough to fit a few pieces of chicken at a time. Take one piece of chicken out of the buttermilk mixture, pausing over the bag to let the excess buttermilk drip off the chicken. You can gently shake the chicken to help it drain. Place the chicken into the flour mixture and toss to coat it with flour, then gently shake to remove excess flour. I found it helpful to coat three pieces of chicken at a time, then add them to the oil at once. Carefully drop each piece into the hot oil, standing back from the oil a bit as you drop them in. Fry until crispy on the bottom side, about 4-5 minutes, then check the bottom by flipping them over with long handled metal tongs. If they look golden brown, flip them, and fry on the other side 3-4 minutes. When they are crispy and lightly brown on all sides, remove the pieces from the oil and place on the rack that is set over a baking sheet. This allows the excess grease to drip away from the chicken, and they won’t get soggy. Repeat with the remaining chicken, frying it all up and putting it on the rack.
  5. When all the chicken has been fried, bake in the oven for 10 minutes. If you want to make this ahead, keep warm in the oven at 300 degrees until ready to serve, but not for too long!
  6. The gravy is simple. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes, until it is smooth and blended. Add in the garlic and let it cook for 1 minute.
  7. Slowly stir in the chicken stock until smooth. Add the reserved spice mix, about 2 teaspoons (you might have extra spice mix to save for another time). Cook on medium, whisking occasionally until the gravy thickens up. If you used brown rice flour, you can blend with an immersion blender after 10 minutes to make sure it is smooth.
  8. To serve, pour the gravy over the fried chicken.


Oil cloth fabric, from The Whole 9 Yards Fabric Store, Portland, OR 

Enamel tray, comes in a set of 3, Blick

Gravy pitcher, vintage, Eden Roc China Co.

Cast iron pan, Lodge, Amazon

Candy Thermometer, Bed Bath & Beyond

DIY Corned Beef: the ultimate guide

March 13th, 2015 Posted by Holiday Traditions, Main Dishes, Meat, St. Patrick's Day No Comment yet

I’m not Irish, but I love the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day. Ireland looks so beautiful and rugged. At least according to Waking Ned Divine and P.S I love you. The green hills, the smoky and cozy pubs. And just what IS IT about those accents? I don’t know…. 


Coffee and Cocoa Beef Roast

February 13th, 2015 Posted by Main Dishes, Meat No Comment yet

haitian coffee

This is going to be a showstopper! If you were looking for the perfect Valentine’s Dinner, look no further (unless you’re a vegetarian…) 

This complex combination of Haitian coffee, natural cocoa and spices rubbed all over a beer cross rib roast (which is much more affordable then a beef tenderloin, but still delicious) is great for a fancy dinner, but also makes plenty for sandwiches and leftovers all week. 

Also, it’s super simple. No hot oil, no smoky kitchen, just mix up the rub and slather it on the beef and call it a day. Your dinner is done, my friend. 

beef cocoa rubbed in cast iron

The rub has a special coffee that my friend Aslan gave me. She’s currently starting a business that will import coffee, jewelry and other amazing handmade goods. Check out the kickstarter page and consider getting your special someone a Valentine’s gift that gives back! Empower Haiti Together kickstarter page

Haitian Coffee

Back to the rub. You probably have everything to make this! I used Haitian coffee, but any good quality coffee will do. I totally want to try this on other meats…. I actually think some sort of rubbed bacon situation would be amazing! Brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, oh yea baby. 

coffee cocoa rub

To “sear” the beef, you’ll want to cook it at 450 degrees for 15 minutes first, then lower the oven to 350 degrees to finish it to your desired doneness. I love medium rare, so that’s what I went for here. I cooked my 3.13lb roast for 60 minutes more after lowering the oven to 350. We like ours medium rare, but here’s a cooking chart for more times and temperatures: beef cooking chart. 

sliced beef roast

What to serve with this? Potatoes and salad, or a simple roast of potatoes and vegetables together. Keep it simple, open some wine, and you can’t go wrong. 

Coffee and Cocoa Beef Roast
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 servings
  • ⅓ cup fresh ground coffee
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • For the beef:
  • 1 beef cross rib roast, about 3 pounds
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  1. Mix the rub ingredients together and store in an airtight container like a mason jar. You can use this on other meats too! This can be done a month ahead of time.
  2. For the beef, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil on the beef roast and put a little in the bottom of a cast iron skillet or heavy roasting pan.
  3. Rub the spice mixture all over the roast, using about 3 tablespoons to 1/4 of a cup.
  4. Place the roast in the pan, then put the pan in the oven. Roast at 450 for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 and cook an additional 50-60 minutes or until you reach your desired doneness. Check the temperature with an instant read thermometer. I went until mine was at about 130, for medium rare. See beef cooking chart for more temperatures.
  5. Let it rest for at least 15 mintues. The temperature will continue to rise about 5 degrees, so keep that in mind. Thinly slice against the grain and serve with salt and pepper to taste.



Hoppin’ John

December 30th, 2014 Posted by Holiday Traditions, Lunch, Main Dishes, Soups No Comment yet

The New Year is full of symbols of prosperity. Jade plants, collard greens, oranges, and black eyed peas—these are all supposed signs of prosperity and wealth. I like foods that symbolize things. It makes me wonder how the food got such a reputation, why it is considered lucky, and that maybe, just maybe, it will work? It’s fun to start the year off with a good omen. Wether the folklore is true or not, it’s not a bad way to start out eating something delicious! 

Black eyed peas, collard greens, and smoked ham are natural friends in this recipe. The jalapeño and red chili flakes give this a really nice mild to medium heat level.

hoppin' john new years day

There is additional cooked ham added to this, you could almost just use the smoked ham hocks if you didn’t have extra ham laying around. When the hocks are done cooking with the soup (at the very end) remove them to a cutting board and let them cool a bit. Then use a knife to cut off the fat and roughly chop up the meat. It is so tender. 

Cooking beans is a lesson in planning ahead, but if you didn’t remember to soak your beans over night, you can try the quick soak method. I just filled a pot with 8 cups of water and two pounds of washed and picked over beans. Then you bring it to a boil and let it boil for 2 minutes. After that, you turn the water off and move the beans off of the heat while they soak for one hour. Drain them again and they are ready to use in this recipe—you will cook them longer with the soup. 

hoppin' john new years day

After they quick soak, add in the ham hock and some epazote if you have it.

hoppin' john new years day

Epazote is traditionally used in Mexican cooking, but it really adds a nice flavor to a pot of beans, so I thought, why not? I’m glad I chanced it. 

epazote in hoppin' john

This dried Epazote has a mild sweet flavor, which is a nice undertone to the ham and the veggies and rice in this soup. I recommend an Oregon Pinot Gris with this. Happy New Year’s! Cheers to 2015! 

hoppin' john new years day


This recipe was slightly adapted from Saveur



Hoppin’ John
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8-10 servings
  • 1 lb. dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 smocked ham hocks
  • 1 tablespoon dried Epazote (optional)
  • Olive oil for the pan
  • ½ cup finely chopped cooked ham
  • ¼ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb. collard greens, ribs removed, leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 5 cups cooked long-grain white rice for serving
  • green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  1. Soak your beans over night or do the quick soak method. For quick soak: Add the rinsed and picked over beans to a large pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Let stand one hour, then drain.
  2. Bring soaked peas, ham hocks, and 8 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, skimming foam occasionally, until peas are tender, about 30-35 minutes. Drain peas, reserving 2 cup cooking liquid along with ham hocks; set aside.
  3. Add some olive oil to a 12-qt. pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped ham, red chili flakes, garlic, jalapeños, carrot, onion, celery, and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add reserved ham hocks, and cooking liquid, along with collards and 10 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until collards are tender, about one hour. When the collards and the beans are tender, remove the smoked ham hocks to a cutting board and let them cool slightly. Extract the meat, slicing through the ham hock and cutting off and around the fat chunks. Add all the meat back into the pot and discard the ham fat. Add the cooked and reserved beans back into the pot.
  4. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Spoon rice into bowls and ladle soup over rice and add sliced green onions.
Slightly adapted from Saveur.



Bourbon Peach Ginger BBQ Sauce with Rosemary

July 29th, 2014 Posted by Main Dishes No Comment yet

peach bourbon bbq sauce

Everyone likes their sauce differently. I just know what I know about barbecue: I like my meat sauces (all those involving pork) a bit less sweet, mostly sassy, and dark. I want lots of flavor, a hint of spice and reduced to something thick and lasting on your tongue. 

The two secrets to this sauce are less then obvious, like all good secrets.

  1. Use a shallow, heavy bottomed pan. For this, I used my standard 10 inch cast iron pan.  Cast iron is really a great medium to work in. You almost can’t burn in it (just don’t get too cocky), but it allows the sauce to reduce much faster. In this type of pan, you’ll achieve flavor that would take all day in a sauce pan that takes about 2 hours in a sauce pan.
  2. Taste everything as you go. This is pretty much the secret to life. 

 secrets to the bbq sauce3-01

Bourbon Peach Ginger BBQ Sauce with Rosemary

Homemade barbecue sauce is truly the mark of a great sandwich or burger. It elevates everything, and all you taste is the richness of the meat perfectly complimented by a deep, rich sauce. This sauce is not too tangy or sweet, and full of flavor. You might want to just keep eating it out of the pan, so I recommend making extra and storing any leftovers in the fridge. This will keep for about two weeks. If you don’t want to bother with fishing out the ginger slices afterwards, you can peel the ginger, chop it fine and leave it in the sauce. If you do this, it might grow spicier the longer you keep the sauce on hand.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 white onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced into large rounds with the skin on

1/2 cup of your favorite bourbon or whiskey (I used Bulleit Rye)

2/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup light brown or dark bown sugar (or a little of each)

1/4 cup peach preserves or jam

1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)

3/4 cup ketchup (I prefer Annie’s organic ketchup, but any will do)

3 tablespoons dijon mustard

2 teaspoons hot sauce (Frank’s or Tabasco)

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to taste (I ended up adding quite a bit of fresh ground pepper, but then again, I always do)



In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the oil and let it heat up for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, sliced ginger and sauté for 4-6 minutes, until it begins to get translucent.

Add the bourbon, vinegar, brown sugar, peach preserves and molasses. Stir and let them “melt” a little and come together. Then add the ketchup, mustard and hot sauce. Let it come to a simmer and add the Worcestershire sauce and paprika.

Simmer for 30 minutes, over low or medium low heat. Taste and adjust. Is it too sweet? Add more cider vinegar. Is it too acidic? More brown sugar. Can’t taste enough bourbon? Add more of that too. Go ahead and add salt and pepper to taste at this point.

It’s important to taste the sauce as it continues to simmer so that you can see how it is progressing. As liquids reduce and combine, new complex flavors are developed.

After adjusting flavors, simmer another 30 minutes and taste again. Keep adjusting slightly until you have a sauce that tastes good to you.

This sauce will simmer for a total time of about 1-2 hours, and will become very dark and thick. After the sauce is nice and thick, you can fish out the ginger pieces and sprinkle with the fresh rosemary and stir it in.

It’s excellent with pulled pork or grilled chicken.

peach bourbon sauce


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