Thursday, July 31, 2014

Zucchini Bread.

... "My friend, Jim, the master at-home baker, has made some awesome breads and pastries in the last couple of months. I have been privileged to have some of his bread. My neighbor, Pat Morelli's mother -- her friend gave me a giant zucchini from her bountiful garden. I took this as an inspiration to make ...

Zucchini Bread: Zucchini. Sugar. AP Flour. Baking Soda. Baking Powder. Salt. While Milk Yogurt. Egg. Lemon Juice. Unsalted Butter. Pecans.

Baking isn't my specialty, but James keeps telling me to make more baked goods. He reassured me that everything I make from appetizers, side dishes, and entrées are all delicious. Maybe, I should make cookies, cakes, and possibly pastries more often to not only satisfy my daily craving for something sweet, but to diversify my recipe knowledge." /contemplates the thought over a tall cold glass of milk and a warm piece of freshly baked zucchini bread ...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chicken with Couscous and Spinach.

... "James and I wanted something lighter for dinner tonight and I really didn't want to mess up nor heat up the kitchen on a hot day like today. We also wanted to incorporate more green leafy vegetables and stay away from rice. I went to the new Seedays food court restaurant (organic health food) at my local mall for inspiration. Their food didn't make me happy and I was wishing for the former falafel stand was there. Then, it hit me ...

Chicken with Couscous and Spinach: AP Flour. Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts. S & P. Olive Oil. Israeli Couscous. Shallot. Garlic. Lemon Zest. Lemon Juice. Red Pepper Flakes. LS Chicken Broth. Baby Spinach. Feta Cheese.

In the end - it only took minimal mise en place and minimal cooking equipment. This dish is a step up from my regular fried chicken and (fried) rice that I usually have as comfort food. It only took 30 minutes to make and kept me gave me a food coma." /sleepy and ready to dream for my next meal

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tandoori Chicken. Yogurt Sauce. Basmati Rice Pilaf. Onion Relish. Cilantro-Mint Chutney. Indian Flatbread (Naan).

... "After my first Twitter live chat yesterday, I was inspired by one of the questions pertaining to the spices that are in my pantry. I have an abundance of Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and obviously Filipino spices. James was in the mood for Indian cuisine so ...

Tandoori Chicken: Vegetable Oil. Garlic. Ginger. Garam Marsala. Cumin. Chili Powder. Whole-Milk Yogurt. Lime Juice. Salt. Bone-In Split Chicken Breast.

Yogurt Sauce: Whole-Milk Yogurt. Cilantro. Mint. Garlic. S & P.

Basmati Rice Pilaf: Vegetable Oil. Cinnamon Stick. Green Cardamom Pods. Onion. Basmati Rice. Water. Salt.

Onion Relish: Vidalia Onion. Sweet Paprika. Lime Juice. Sugar. Salt. Cayenne Pepper.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney: Cilantro. Mint. Whole-Milk Yogurt. Onion. Lime Juice. Sugar. Cumin. Salt.

Indian Flatbread (Naan): Water. Whole-Milk Yogurt. Vegetable Oil. Egg Yolk. AP Flour. Sugar. Rapid-Rise Yeast. Salt. Unsalted Butter.

... I couldn't believe that I got this all on the table. The flavors were amazing. The sweet and heat made my mouth and James' mouth were do a Bollywood dance and saying "Yaha bahuta svādiṣṭa thā" (It was delicious)! James also said, 'This is better than any other Indian food I've had.' I was taken back, but I smiled and bowed at him saying 'namaste.'" /feels like Annapurna, the Goddess of Food and Nourishment

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with a Pomegranate and Balsamic Sauce. Roasted Brussels Sprouts. Crispy Smashed Potatoes.

... "There are days where I just need something simple and healthy for dinner. Also, I was inspired by the Brussels sprouts discussion from last week. I present for tonight's dinner: 

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with a Pomegranate and Balsamic Sauce - Chicken Breasts. S & P. Vegetable Oil. Shallot. AP Flour. LS Chicken Broth. Pomegranate Juice. Thyme. Butter. Balsamic Vinegar.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts -- Brussels Sprouts. Olive Oil. Water. S & P.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes: Red Bliss Potatoes. EVOO. Thyme. Kosher Salt. Pepper. 

I'm back on my healthy and simple kick ... James loved it. I'm sorry that you guys were not here to have some." /snickers

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Roast Chicken with Lima Bean Ragoût.

... "It's cold outside and I wanted to make something fall like and which didn't take a lot of time to make. James wanted chicken breasts for dinner and I was watching an episode of Julia Child ...

Roast Chicken with Lima Bean Ragoût: Bone-In Skin-On Chicken Breasts. S & P. Vegetable Oil. Onion. Cremini Mushrooms. Garlic. Sauvignon Blanc. LS Chicken Broth. Baby Lima Beans. Oil Cured Olives.

The weather here in Chicago is never consistent, but dishes I put on the table for friends and family always produce consistent smiles and happy tummies. Nothing's better than an empty plate coming back to the kitchen and getting a warm kiss and a bear hug from James asking for more." /serves up a hearty second helping with a smile

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cola-Glazed Pork Chops with Bok Choy and Sticky Rice.

... "I wanted to make something Chinese after watching 'Snack-Off' with Eddie Huang on MTV. I didn't have much in my kitchen, but I dished out ...

Cola-Glazed Pork Chops with Bok Choy and Sticky Rice: Sushi rice. Baby Bok Choy. Vegetable Oil. Bone-In Pork Rib Chops. Cola. Hoisin Sauce. Water. S & P.

After watching two episodes, I clearly can make better food than those six contestants with ingredients that are already in my pantry. Remember, one doesn't need much to make a fulfilling meal. One just needs creativity and inspiration ... and I always put that on my plates." /needs oolong tea and a fortune cookie to finish off this meal

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rustic Chicken and Brie Tart. Foolproof Pie Dough.

... "A couple of my friends asked me to make more baked goods, i.e., pastries and pies. I was walking through the supermarket was salivating for a bacon maple donut that was at the coffee counter and James was starving and wanted dinner ASAP. Then, it hit me - I should make a savory tart! I grabbed some ready-to-go ingredients to make ...

Rustic Chicken and Brie Tart: Spinach. Brie. Walnuts. Rotisserie Chicken. LS Chicken Broth. S & P.

Foolproof Pie Dough: U-AP Flour. Sugar. Salt. Butter. Vegetable Shortening. Vodka. Ice Water.

I have to say that I'm getting more and more confident in my baking skills - but, while I was devouring this tart - I still wanted that bacon maple donut ... maybe donuts as my next challenge?" /does a "donut" Homer Simpson impression

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Braised Chicken with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon & Sautéed Summer Squash.

... "Trying to feed a family is quite hard while on a budget. Trying to not make a mess in the kitchen is quite hard a small kitchen. With those two thoughts in mind, I used only nine ingredients to make the following:

Braised Chicken with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon: Bacon. Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs. Onions. Cremini Mushrooms. LS Chicken Broth. S & P. Parsley.

Sautéed Summer Squash: EVOO. Onion. Summer Squash. Garlic. S & P. Parsley.

To feed six people, including my best friend's family (Joshua, Suzanne, and their daughter), James, and a neighbor (Amy), wasn't really hard to do. Nothing makes me happier to see friends and family come together around the dinner table. The smiles of satisfaction, the clanking of silverware on plates, the dialogue about their day in the real world, and the onset of food coma -- these things not only make me happy, but I feel great and I achieved greatness." /takes a bite and savors the flavor

Monday, July 7, 2014

Peach Crisp with Lemon Vanilla Whipped Cream.

... "After the long Independence Day weekend I really didn't want to cook. My best friend's wife, Suzanne, graciously gave me several ripe peaches from Tree Ripe Citrus Co(mpany). I don't make many desserts, but I was drawn to making ...

Peach Crisp with Lemon Vanilla Whipped Cream: AP Flour. Light Brown Sugar. Granulated Sugar. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Salt. Unsalted Butter. Pecans. Peaches. Lemon Zest. Lemon juice. Vanilla. Heavy Cream.

On a hot day like today - this dessert is served warm or even room temperature; however, a hearty helping cooled me right now and left a smile on my face and left me patriotic." /singing "Peaches" by President of the United States of America and remembering my fallen friends in the military

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Salmon with Asparagus and Herb Dressing & Roasted Cauliflower.

... "I haven't cooked fish lately. My friend, John, told me that salmon looks like 'tongue.' I chuckled at his comment; however, I took that to heart and decided to make ...

Salmon with Asparagus and Herb Dressing: Salmon. S & P. EVOO. Unsalted Butter. Asparagus. Lemon Juice. Shallot. Parsley. Dijon Mustard.

Roasted Cauliflower: Cauliflower. EVOO. S & P.

A simple delicious and also healthy dinner done in less than 60 minutes. I should eat fish more often. As Brillat-Savarin said, 'In the hands of an able cook, fish can become an inexhaustible source of perpetual delight.' Well said, Brillat-Savarin. Well said." /eating dinner on back porch and watching the world go by ...

Friday, July 4, 2014


THE PANTRY PANDA -  ... "Since I've been a child, I have been surrounded by food. It's no wonder since I come from a long line of 'foodies' in my family. In the last couple of years, I have been cooking meals at home for family and friends as well as seeking out great food in my area. This blog captures my passion on a plate and the plates I've eaten. Feel free to reach out to me for specific recipes or even share places to check out!" /thanks you for visiting my website ...

                                                                  - Jon

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