family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Alton Brown’s Chicken Parm

If you follow me on I/G, you may have noticed that I’ve started playing “What am I making for dinner” as my I/G story from time to time.

This recipe was shared on there, and yes there were a LOT more pictures on my I/G story, but I took a few to share on here too.

Richard and I are HUGE Alton Brown fans. We have seen him live twice, watch him on YouTube and his tv shows. I also follow him in I/G and Facebook, oh and have one of his cookbooks that I use all the time. When he announced that he was re-launching Good Eats, we knew we’d be watching and making more of his recipes.

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The first episode was Chicken Parm. Who doesn’t love a GOOD chicken parm? Don’t get me wrong there are some really bad or just ok chicken parms out there, but I love a good chicken parm. So we decided this would be a good one to try… so we did!

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  • 2  boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded to 1/8-inch thick
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 120 grams (1 cup) plain breadcrumbs
  • 20 grams salt and vinegar potato chips, not kettle cooked or thick cut
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 70 grams (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour (I needed more)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup red sauce, divided, recipe follows
  • 2 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 ounces Italian fontina, shredded
  • 2 ounces of Parmesan, shredded
  1. Cut the flattened chicken into 6-8 pieces per breast.
  2. Salt and place on a rack on top of a cookie sheet
  3. Cover and refrigerate 30 min
  4. This is when I made the red sauce, see below for steps and heated the oven to broil
  5. Combine the breadcrumbs, potato chips, oregano, parsley and garlic powder in a gallon zip-top bag and crush into a course meal.
  6. set up a breading station (flour, egg, crumbs from step 5).
  7. Dry off chicken then put through the breading process. place on another rack over a cookie sheet to collect any excess coating
  8. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams, add half the breaded chicken to the pan, but don’t overcrowd. Cook, undisturbed, until crisp and golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the clean rack, wipe out the pan and repeat with the remaining butter, oil and chicken
  9. Spread 3/4 cup of the red sauce into the bottom of a a 9-by-13-inch broiler-safe baking dish and broil about 2 minutes.
  10. Remove the dish from the oven and arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer. Dot the chicken with the remaining red sauce,  Scatter the cheeses over the sauce.
  11. put back under the broiler until the cheese begins to brown
  12. enjoy!

Red Sauce

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  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 anchovy filets
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Two 28-ounce cans peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • One 2-inch Parmesan rind
  1. grate garlic on micoplane to form a paste
  2. mix with 1/4 cup EVOO and salt
  3. cook in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until it begins to brown
  4. add the anchovies and break down with a wooden spatula
  5. add strained tomatoes and break up with wooden spatula
  6. submerge the Parmesan rind
  7. reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 1 hour or until the sauce looks “dry”
  8. discard the rind and use the rest for the chicken parm


This was sooooooo good. We really enjoyed this chicken parm. I used 3 breasts since that was what was in the pack we purchased. Since it didn’t all fit into the pan we had some that did not have sauce on it. This was a really good breaded chicken patty.

So here is what I’d do different… I enjoyed the sauce that was in the bottom of the pan that had been broiled, but I didn’t like having the chicken on top of it as it started to get soggy. So next time I will put one pan in the oven with just sauce, and another one with the chicken and cheese and make my own chicken parms tableside!


food · reviews · through my camera lens

Pub Cookies

Richard and some of his co-workers were having a craft beer exchange at work on Thursday. I decided that was the perfect reason to bake! I wasn’t sure what I wanted to bake. I started by searching through my pile of recipes we cut out the of the food network magazines. There I found a brownie recipe that used beer in it. I didn’t have everything to make this specific recipe, but I thought it was a good jumping off point to search for a new recipe.

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I sent Richard 3 different ideas (two different types of cookies and a different brownie recipe). He decided on Pub Cookies. So… that’s what I made!

Pub Cookies

  • 12 ounces stout beer
  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour (this will make them chewy)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 bag dark chocolate chips (I didn’t measure these I just dumped the bag)
  • 1 cup pretzel twists, broken into pieces
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  1. Put the beer in a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook down the beer until you have about 1 Tbsp of beer “extract” (watch the pan, I got distracted and my beer boiled over… oops!)
  2. Cream butter and sugars
  3. Add egg and yolk
  4. Add vanilla and beer extracts
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together flours, cornstarch, baking soda and salt
  6. Add dry to wet ingredients until just combined
  7. Stir in chips and pretzels
  8. Dish cookies onto a cookie sheet and put into the fridge for at least 3 hours
  9. Heat oven to 350
  10. Bake 12-20 min (start checking around 12 min, my batches both took about 14 min)
  11. enjoy!
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These cookies do NOT taste like beer. Yes this is a strong beer and it was concentrated by cooking out the water, but it still didn’t taste like beer in a chocolate chip cookie. There is slight bitter taste that brings out those notes in the chocolate chips. The cookies are very chewy and have a great chocolate chip cookie flavor. The hit of pretzel adds an additional salty feature. (The original recipe calls for honey roasted peanuts. I would add peanuts, but not honey roasted)

book · reviews

Carnegie’s Maid– book review

Carnegie's Maid: A Novel by [Benedict, Marie]So on Monday, the boys and I went to the library. I went in with a list of three books I wanted to look for while I was there. But, I didn’t leave with any of them! I found one and it didn’t appeal once it was in my hand, the other two I didn’t find.

But, what I did find in the “Lucky Day” collection was Carnegie’s Maid, by Marie Benedict. Now that we live in Pittsburgh, this book held even more interest to me. So I checked it out and began reading it when we arrived home Monday afternoon.

Clara Kelly has grown up on her parents’ tenant farm in Ireland. Her father raised all three of his daughters to be educated, a rare thing for females at this time. In 1863, Clara’s family sent her to America in hopes she is able to find a job which will then send home funds to her family in Ireland. When she arrived in America, 42 days later, she needed to figure out what her next steps would be… She had distant relatives in Pittsburgh, but didn’t know how she would get to them. When she heard someone calling for “Clara Kelly” she saw it as a sign of change. Knowing that she was not the Clara Kelly they were searching for, she still got into the carriage that would take her to a new world.

Clara Kelly became the Lady’s maid for Mrs. Carnegie. This roll required skills she did not possess and working with a mistress who was dominating over her family. Clara determined to make herself invaluable to her employer takes on the identity of the other Clara Kelly. While working for Mrs. Carnegie, Clara become acquainted learns about the family’s history from Andrew Carnegie.

Can Clara keep up her new identity? What will happen as Clara and Mr Carnegie (the older) aka Andrew Carnegie get to know each other? Can a poor girl from Ireland stand on her own with the elite of America?

Read and learn about how Clara may have played a role of the change in Andrew Carnegie from a ruthless industrialist to one of the world’s first true philanthropists.

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Maple BBQ Sloppy Joes

Image may contain: food and indoorWhen I was looking for items to put on our weekly menu, I decided to search through Rachael Ray’s sloppy joe recipes, she has quite a few. I came across her Sloppy Maple-BBQ Turkey Joes recipe and decided it would be a good one to try. So… I did!

First I made hoagie rolls. This is a recipe that I’ve used before, and that we enjoy. There is something great about the smell of fresh baked bread in the house. I don’t make it often enough, but I do love it when I do bake bread.


Maple BBQ Sloppy Joes

  • EVOO
  • 1 pound ground turkey Image may contain: food
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1  red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1  onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • About 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • About 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • About 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • About 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  1. put EVOO on a large skillet
  2. add ground turkey with S&P
  3. Once turkey browns, add peppers, onions and garlic– cook about 5 min
  4. in a small bowl whisk together tomato sauce, maple syrup, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and mustard.
  5. Add to the meat and veggies, mix in and let simmer for 5-10 min

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We really enjoyed this recipe. I had mine just on the plate, but tried a bite of Richard’s sandwich. Blake and Colby both enjoyed it too, but found it very filling. There was a good balance of sweet and tang in this recipe. I added more vinegar than RR suggested, I had originally found the recipe VERY sweet.

Richard suggested adding hot sauce to the mix next time which would be a sweet heat item. Also, the original recipe calls for poultry seasoning, which I purchased to use and then totally forgot to add to the recipe… oops!

I know that we will make this recipe again!


book · reviews

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe– book review

I haven’t done a book review in a while. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been reading or haven’t been reading good books, it just means I haven’t taken the time to stop and do a book review. I also have been reading a few books that are part of book series. I don’t like to review a book in the middle of a series.

Last Friday, we went to Costco. For some reason I stopped while walking past the books. I think I was looking to see if the new JD Robb book was there, it wasn’t so I just ordered it on Amazon! But, I did see a book that caught my attention, The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe. I took a picture of the front cover and had planned to look and see if I could get it Kindle Unlimited.

The boys do not have any kind of camp this week, so we decided to take a trip to the library on Monday. I pulled up the picture on my phone and searched for the book on the computer… they had it! So, I picked it up. I was in the middle of another book, but decided to take a break and read this instead. I started it late Monday afternoon and finished it this morning. I would have finished it sooner if life didn’t get in the way of me reading.  Why must I be responsible?

Ellen Bradford’s life was lining up perfectly. She was a real estate attorney, engaged to Hayden Croft who has ambitions to become a politician. When her grandmother passes away, Ellen is drawn to fulfilling her grandmother’s last wish, delivering a letter to a boy she loved as a child.

Ellen, against the wishes of both Hayden and her mother, drops everything and travels from Manhattan to Beacon, Maine. Ellen expects this to be a day or two trip, but after almost drowning shortly after arriving…. everything else takes a weird and wild twist and turns. Ellen learns more about her Grandmother’s past and a bit about herself as well.


I did enjoy this easy summer read book. It was rather predictable, but that’s this type of book. Girl goes away, girl meets guy, girl falls in love, but shouldn’t, girl gets the new guy in the end…. shocked? Nope I don’t think so. But, its more than that. It about stopping and slowing down in life. It’s about seeing that there is more to life than linear lines and exceptions. That even when you know someone there is a whole other part of their lives that you may know nothing about.

I encourage you to check out this book. If you do, let me know what you think.


food · life · reviews · through my camera lens

Baking challenge

So, if you follow my blog, you know that I enjoy baking… just a little! Typically I send in the items I bake with Richard. This way, I get to enjoy baking, but my waist line doesn’t have to worry about me eating everything.

Image may contain: indoorRichard mentioned to me that he has a co-worker who has a gluten allergy. He often feels bad that he brings things in, but can’t offer the treats to this co-worker. So he asked if I could make something gluten free. This is more challenging than you’d think. Yes, I could go buy a gluten free mix, but that’s not the point. I also didn’t want to have to buy a variety of different flours and hope that the end product tastes good for those who can and cannot have gluten.

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Soooo I started looking into it. I found a recipe that I’ve made before and realized it is gluten free! So I baked Alton Brown’s Chewy Peanut butter cookies. I was getting ready to type up a post with the recipe and realized… hey I already did that!

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This time I made smaller cookies, which made a lot more, and these were not super dry this time. It is a very strange mouth feel to me. The cookie pretty much dissolves in your mouth, so you almost don’t need to chew them. They have a decent pb flavor. I think I would increase the salt a bit and if they were rolled in sugar before baking that might help too, it isn’t needed, but it would not hurt them!

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I have another cookie recipe pinned for flourless chocolate cookies. I’ll make them soon and let you know how they turn out!

food · reviews · through my camera lens

taco sweet potato enchilada stir fry?

I was looking for something new to make with ground turkey. I came across a recipe for ground turkey enchilada stir fry. While I was interested in the concept, I knew there were too many flavors in the original recipe that would not fly in our house (with me never mind the rest of my family). This did not stop me from making this… it motivated me to tweak this recipe and make it my own! I showed the steps to this on my IG  (@teacherturnedmommy) story the night I that I made it. Also if you follow my teacher turned mommy page on facebook you saw these pictures as a teaser.

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Taco Sweet Potato Enchilada Stir Fry (it needs a better name)

  • 1lb ground turkey (or ground meat of your choice)
  • 1 Tbsp  cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp chipolte powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • S&P
  • 2 large sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 tomato diced (not needed, but I one that needed to be used up)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 can black beans (drained)
  • 10 oz can of enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  1. brown the ground meat in a large skillet
  2. season the browned meat with cumin, chili powder, chipolte powder, coriander, salt and pepper. Let cook for a bit then remove to covered dish
  3. put sweet potato into the skillet and let cook
  4. When sweet potato starts to soften, add in garlic and onion season with S&P
  5. when the onion is translucent, add: tomato, black beans, salsa and enchilada sauce
  6. add ground meat back to mixture and stir to combine.
  7. heat through
  8. serve with rice, on soft taco shells, on a salad or however you want to eat this tasty mix. (I added fresh shredded cheddar cheese to mine as well)

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The boys found this a bit spicier than they like taco meats. Granted they both picked out the meat only. Blake finally put his into a wrap with cheese and enjoyed it (yes veggies and all) I did enjoy the addition of the sweet potato as it added a different texture as well as a bit of earthy sweetness. Having the sweet potato, beans and other veggies made it very filling and you didn’t need as large of a portion as I usually feel you need when eating just taco meat. I think I will continue to play with this concept and see where it takes us.


food · reviews · through my camera lens

Slow Cooker Cherry-Chipotle Pulled Pork

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In our never ending search for new recipes/ going through all the recipes we pulled out of the Food Network Magazine, I found a recipe for Slow-cooker pulled turkey with cherry-chipotle barbecue sauce. I decided that I wanted to make this recipe, but wanted to do it with pork instead of turkey.


Cherry-Chipotle Pulled Pork

  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp corriander
  • “boston butt”/pork butt— I think the one I had was just under 3lb
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 jar of cherry jelly
  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar (plus 1 Tbsp for later)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp spicy mustard (that’s what I had)
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • chipotle and adobo I used the reminder of a can I had in the freezer, so it was probably 1/2 a can or more
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic grated
  1. Season the pork with the paprika, chili powder, cumin, corriander, S&P. Place in the bottom of your “slow cooker”
  2. in a small bowl, combine: ketchup, jelly, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, mustard, chipolte and soy sauce
  3. Pour 3/4 cup of this sauce onto the pork… I put about 1/2 the container
  4. cover and cook for 4-5 hours until it is tender enough to shred
  5. in a sauce pan, cook onion and garlic until tender
  6. add the remaining sauce to the pan
  7. To this mixture add 1/2 cup of water and let the mixture simmer
  8. When it begins to thicken, I added an additional scoop of cherry jelly and the 1 Tbsp of vinegar
  9. strain the sauce
  10. When the pork is tender, shred with two forks and put it back into the cooker to let it finish cooking and get the sauce, juices into the meat.
  11. Serve on rolls with the sauce

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Ok let me first say that this sauce did not have either a chipotle or cherry flavor. The pork was cooked perfectly and was the perfect pulled pork consistency. The bbq sauce tasted really good and we actually used it later in the week on the ribs that we made.

The rolls we ate this on were the same ones Colby made for the 4th (we had this meal on the 5th). They were SUPER dense as they were now a day old. This recipe would have been really good on either a soft burger roll or even a sub roll.

While I am not sure I would go out of my way to purchase cherry jelly again to make this recipe (I have about a 1/3 of a jar left), I would make another bbq sauce like this one.

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Colby’s dinner: Beef Sliders with Chipotle Special Sauce

As I’ve mentioned before, I am having the boys help with dinners once a week this summer. You can see Blake’s recipe here.

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On the Fourth of July, Colby made his meal: Beef Sliders with Chipotle Special Sauce and Bobby Flay’s Parker House Rolls.

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We made the rolls first. Like with most baking, we followed the recipe pretty much to the letter. I did make the dough in the breadmaker instead of by hand and we made them into burger size rolls instead of dinner rolls.

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We made seasoned the meat early, I made the “special sauce” and then later Richard helped Colby finish the burgers.

Burgers with Chipotle Special Sauce

  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • 1 tsp dried garlic
  • 1 tsp dried onion
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Mix the seasoning with the ground beef. Create 4 patties. Grill

Lori’s Special Sauce:

  • 6 Tbsp mayo
  • 3 Tbsp ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp chipotle in adobo
  • 3 Tbsp sweet relish
  • S & P
  • dried garlic
  • dried onion

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The burgers were good. We really needed more than a pound of meat, they were rather tiny burgers. I found them to be VERY salty and would have cut the salt wayyyy back. The burgers were very juicy and cooked to the perfect done-ness. The sauce was a work in progress. There wasn’t as much of a kick as I expected with the amount of chipotle in adobo I used. I kept trying it and putting more in, but it never got that kick we wanted. The rolls tasted good, but they were not the right roll for this application. Parker House rolls are dinner rolls and it was strange to have them as a burger roll. They were a bit dense and this could also be because they were larger than they are intended to be made.

Colby did a good job with this meal. He helped with every step including the grilling. I didn’t get a photo of this step.



book · reviews

A Fire Sparkling– book review

I love Amazon First Reads, this is an opportunity to get a new e-book, from their 5/6 offered, each month for free on your kindle. I have read quite I few I’ve enjoyed… and this month I chose the book A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean. Let me tell you… I could not put this book down!

A Fire Sparkling by [MacLean, Julianne]Gillian just discovered that the man she was living with cheated on her at his 50th birthday party…. how did she find out? She caught him in the act. Yep. So she packed a bag and went home. Well, not quite home, but to her grandmother’s house. Her father now lived there too.

Gillian phoned her father before she arrived to let him know she was coming. At this point he said he was about to call her too…. this worried Gillian since her father never called. They didn’t have a close relationship.

Gillian learns that her dad discovered photos of her grandmother, Vivian. These photos were dated during WWII. But, what worried her father the most was his mother was photographed with a Nazi officer.

Gillian and her dad question Vivian. Then the stories begin to get good… the truth begins to come out and with every question that gets answered, a new one comes about. Vivian tells her story of her life in London during the war. It is a story of love, sadness and eventually hope.

What will Vivian tell Gillian to help clarify the story behind the photographs? How does one keep such deep secrets for so many decades of life? Can this new knowledge help fix the family bonds under the roof of a Connecticut farmhouse?

Ok, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I love a good historical fiction. You know I especially like the ones set in WWII. This story is one of those page turners that has you wondering what will be relieved next. There were so many times when I said… oh I didn’t see that coming. To me, it felt like a good combination of a romance/mystery/historical fiction. There is no smut and the romance is all in a very matter of fact statements, but it is that deep love between two people who are meant for each other. The mystery is more of the.. what’s going to happen next? What clue is there to tell me what twist and turn this story will take next. Well the historical fiction part is obvious.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. Now I’m off to figure out what my next long book will be. I’m reading a mystery series and will pick up the next book in that series to read until I find another long read.