Weeknight Skillets: Chicken & Escarole

Chicken Thighs over escarole, pam's bad photo

Chicken Thighs over escarole, pam's bad photo

When Kelly and I started our clean eating weight loss program back in December of 2014 I had no idea I had 20 lbs to lose. I was sure I could lose 10 absolutely but, not 20. Well, when 20 came off I realized maybe I did have 20 to lose.  

A few keys if you're looking to lose weight when & if you're born in 1967 (yes, I'm old.)  You simply can't eat more than 1200 calories a day and as my doctor says, "fruit is not your friend." 

Anyway, looking for new inspiration for recipes Kelly found Cooking Light Magazine so, we both asked for subscriptions for Christmas. Now, when Bon Appetit comes Cooking Light comes, too! It's a double celebration. 

Chicken Skillet Dishes were on the cover so, we both dove in head first! I made this one for us and changed it up a bit. As, always...

It's simple, and it's fast.  Its perfect for a weeknight. 

The M&P version:

  • 10 Chicken thighs (I can give up a lot of things but, the flavor in a boneless chicken thigh rules over the flavor of a boneless breast, all day long..) 
  • 2 bunches of escarole, clean and sliced into strips 
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 1/2 tsp herbs de provence 
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper 
  • 4 cloves of garlic 
  • 3 tablespoons oil 
  • 1/2 ounce pecorino cheese (shaved with a peeler) You can use Parmesan if you don't have Pecorino. My grandfather used to say, "Pecorino is a little more sharper.." Yes, his first language was Italian :) hence the wrong use of sharp! 
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Best way to start, grab a pot of water to boil with about a tablespoon of your salt. When boiling, pop in your cleaned, sliced escarole for one minute then drain and let sit while you start your chicken.

Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel.   Then dust with the herbs de provence.  Over medium high heat,  add olive oil to a large skillet.  When the oil is good and hot, put the chicken in your pan.

Let the chicken cook until you see some liquid on the top of the thigh, the bottom should be nice and brown (3-5 minutes) flip them, let them sit in the pan another 2-3 minutes then place skillet into a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Take them out.  (Usea pot holder on the handle from this moment on! )

Take the chicken out of the pan, and reserve.   At this point, the pan has some FABULOUS yummy juices in it and a bit of oil so, now is the perfect time to toss in your garlic & red pepper flakes. Let those sit a few minutes but, pull out the garlic when it starts to get a little brown. Now, toss in those beautiful red onions.. yum.... let them drink up the juice and let them brown a bit. When browned, throw in the boiled, drained escarole.

What we're doing here is simply warming everything up before we serve it. When the escarole gets hot, feel free to put the chicken back on top of the bed if you're serving in the hot skillet. If you're serving on a platter like I did, put everything from the pan onto the dish and top with the chicken and the peeled pecorino cheese. 

Totally blog worthy and totally delicious!

Enjoy! xo Measure

The professional picture, and recipe

The professional picture, and recipe

The Classics: Escarole Pie

I love escarole.  Mostly, the way my friend Delia (aka "Nonna" to my boys) prepares it.  She "massages" the leaves with lemon, salt & pepper.   She says to do the massaging (with clean hands,  of course) in the kitchen so that your guests don't see you up to your elbows in their dinner!  For some reason, her method makes the most refreshing, delicious simple salad.

Onto this recipe, which is more suitable for this non-Spring Spring that we're having.  Here the escarole becomes hearty, sweet and savory in a warm flaky pie.  Its our take on a classic Italian side dish that's perfect for any gathering, but especially brunch.  Don't be afraid of the anchovies, they melt into wonderful nutty-ness, plus they are a must-have ingredient in this pie.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 3 heads escarole
  • Olive oil 2 tbsp.
  • 3-4 anchovies
  • 3-4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Nutmeg, a pinch
  • 2 eggs(one egg is for egg wash)
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • Pie crust, prepared or pizza dough
  • Salt & pepper

Here's what you'll do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In skillet over medium high heat, heat oil & anchovies, red pepper flakes and garlic.  Once anchovies are melted, add chopped escarole, salt,  pepper & nutmeg.  Once escarole is wilted, let cool.

2.  In the meantime, in a large bowl, combine cheeses, egg, olives & raisins.  Season with salt & pepper.

3.  Combine escarole with cheese mixture and pour into pie crust. Top with second crust, crimp and brush with egg wash.  Bake 35-40 minutes until golden.


xo & a pinch,



Easy Fish Chowder

So, its March and its snowing here on the Jersey Shore.   I'm not mad, but come on!    I hate to be one of those weather-talkers, but spring has been peeking its little head out here and there and ... what a tease!

Anyway, I love this dinner on days like this because it too, is kind of a tease.  A good briny clam will always bring the summer into your kitchen, while the tomato-y broth is cozy and warm.  

  • 4 cod fillets, about 1 lb in total
  • 8-10 clams, scrubbed
  • Canned tomatoes, 28 oz
  • Chicken broth, about 1 cup
  • White wine, about 1 cup
  • garlic, 4-5 cloves, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6-8 small potatoes
  • Old Bay seasoning, 1 tbsp
  • Hot sauce, 2-3 shakes
  • olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • salt & pepper
  • Crusty bread or garlic bread for dipping (optional, but not really optional)

1.  In a large pot over medium high heat, swirl olive oil.  Add potatoes, carrots, celery and onion.  Season with salt & pepper.  Cook for 8-10 minutes.

2.   Add garlic, Old Bay and hot sauce and cook another 3-5 minutes.  Add wine, cook for another 3 minutes.

3.  Add tomatoes, broth and heat to boiling then reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5-8 minutes.  Add salt & pepper to season.  Taste!

4.  Add cod fillets to the pot and cook 4-5 minutes until opaque.   Add clams to the pot and cover.  Let cook 5-8 minutes until clams are open. 

5. Stir pot, removing any clams that did not open. 

6.  Add chopped parsley and serve.  

** don't forget the crusty bread.

Stay cozy!

xo & a pinch


Pepperoni Red Pepper Penne

Pepperoni Red Pepper Penne.  Say it three times fast!

My boys love pepperoni and red peppers are one of their few "permissible" vegetables.  This recipe wasn't created, rather born from necessity.  Weeknight, after work, tired, hungry kids-  Done!  

They ask for it all the time.  Even on easy Sundays.

  • 1 lb penne
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, sliced into half moons
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • grated parmesan, for topping
  • basil, for garnish
pepper pepperoni pasta middle.JPG

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2. Boil pasta in salted water, to al dente (7-8 minutes)

3.  Meantime, over medium-high heat, swirl olive oil.   Saute red pepper strips until tender.  Add pepperoni slices and heat through for about 5-8 minutes.

4.  Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water.   Return pasta to the pot.  Add pepper -pepperoni mixture including all juices and that yummy orange oil!  Season with salt & pepper.  Add about half of the pasta water to create sauciness. Add half of the shredded cheese.  Combine all ingredients.  Taste and adjust salt & pepper as you wish.  Top with remaining shredded cheese. 

5.  Pour pasta into the skillet and heat in the oven for 5-8 minutes.  Change the oven over to broil to crisp the top a bit. 

6.  Top with torn basil, grated parmesan and serve.

7. Watch your children pull the basil off and try to feed it to the dog, but then enjoy!

xo & a pinch,



The Classics: Fried Chicken Cutlets (with a little zest)

Now I'm not about to suggest that fried chicken cutlets are the key to a healthy marriage, but they certainly help to keep husbands happy.  Well mine, at least.  Pete loves breaded, fried anything, but chicken cutlets are his favorite.  He loves them and they make him happy.  I think they bring back childhood memories or something. The love is real and true.

Me on the other hand, I try my very best to eat light and healthy.  Really, I do!   Being over 40 and carrying around a post-baby/no-time-to-work-out body will do that to a girl. But diet-bending a bit for love is worth extra calories, painful splatter, greasy paper towels and pan and entire kitchen...

I have to admit, pan fried chicken cutlets are truly delicious.  To these,  I add fresh parsley and lemon zest to the bread crumb mixture to take them to a zippy new level.   At the end, when they are resting, I add a lemon spritz and parsley garnish. They taste so fresh & light, it makes you completely forget that you're eating something that's been dredged in breading and FRIED IN OIL!!!!   

Make a big batch because you'll use them later in the week when your husband is mad about your AMEX bill, or use them for sandwiches, salads, etc.  They're magically zesty & delicious.

What you'll need:

  • 6 chicken cutlets, pounded out under clear wrap or in a large plastic food bag
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked with a splash of water
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice for seasoning
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

What you'll do:

Add oil to large, stainless skillet and heat on medium-high.  Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, add eggs and splash of water, salt and pepper, whisk.  In a second shallow bowl or rimmed plate, add bread crumbs, cheese, 1/2 of the parsley and lemon zest.

Salt and pepper your chicken cutlets, then dredge each cutlet in the egg and then into the bread crumbs and place in the hot skillet.

Don't crowd your pan, it will reduce the heat. Rather, brown the chicken in batches.  Once browned on each side, set on a plate with sheets of paper towel to absorb the excess oil.    Once all of the chicken is browned, place on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Then, sprinkle with remaining chopped parsley and lemon.

How do you make your chicken cutlets?  Do they inspire your other half to do dishes?

xo & a pinch,





Half Homemade Completely Delicious Crumbcake

crumb cake top.JPG

I'm not a roses and diamonds kind of valentine (but.. ok, if you must).  I like a quiet, simple, cozy valentine celebration.  I think having the most romantic holiday in the dead of winter was predestined by Cupid and meant to be spent supremely cozy.  To me, cozy means breakfast in bed.   And yes, breakfast can be cake- what do you think a muffin is?!   Also, its valentine's day. Time to splurge & be sweet!

This one is half-homemade and so easy, even your kitchen-phobic husband can do it!  (share blog post now)

** Cheers and gratitude to my sister, Denise. This is another great one from her recipe archives.  She used to bring this to family gatherings and the adults would share it with coffee.  So sweet! 

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • confectioners' sugar, for sprinkling

Here's what you'll do:

1.  Bake cake mix according to package directions in a 10x14 pan.   (You can get an aluminum pan from the grocery store).  Bake 25 minutes.

2. Prepare the crumbs:  In a large bowl combine butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg with your hands.  Pinch ingredients together until you get a pebbly- like texture.

3. Top cake with crumb mixture and return to the oven for 15 minutes.

4.  Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Don't forget to brew a pot of coffee!

Have a sweet day

xo & a pinch



Baked Potato Soup

Ok, so its cauliflower.  You know I love skinny-food trickery and cauliflower is my best partner in crime.  I promise, when you're eating this, you'll think its potato soup.  Its creamy, hearty and when its topped with the usual baked potato bits, you'll find yourself high-fiving "I can eat this whole thing?!"  Yes.  Its cauliflower.  Ok, there's one potato in there.

Here's what you'll need:

  • potatoes, 2 small or 1 large, roughly chopped
  • cauliflower, 1 large head, chopped
  • vegetable or chicken broth, 1 cup, but you may use less
  • salt & pepper
  • cheddar, shredded for topping
  • bacon, cooked & chopped for topping
  • chives or scallions, chopped for topping
  • sour cream, dollop for topping, if you wish

1.  In a large pot over high heat, add the cauliflower & potato. Cover with water and add about a tsp of salt.  Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender.  Drain in a colander and return to the pot. 

2.  If you are using a blender or food processor, let the cauliflower cool completely.  Then, in batches, blend mixture until smooth.   If using an immersion blender, blend until smooth or your desired consistency.  Return the pureed cauliflower to the large pot.

3.  Over medium heat, stir while adding broth until you get your desired consistency.   Season with salt & pepper.

4.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with bacon, cheese & scallions.

 What's your favorite cauliflower recipe?

xo & a pinch,

Quickie Weeknight Shrimp

Quickie shrimp for two

Quickie shrimp for two

There's something so very satisfying about a delicious meal that can be made in less than 15 minutes. Yup!  15 minutes. It turns out there there are 30 minute meals and then there's this super speedy, yummy, good for you week night shrimp dish!  

(That was probably too many adjectives..) 

Here's what you need:

  • One bag (approx. 20) peeled and deveined, shrimp, defrosted
  • 1 cup of sun dried tomato, cut into strips
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed (or minced)
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 cup of olives (I used green but, you can also use pitted Kalamata) 
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 10 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss in garlic, artichoke hearts and sundried tomato and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add olives and thyme, stir for another 2 minutes and then, add the wine.  Let simmer and turn your oven on tobroil.

Toss the shrimp into the pan,  cook for about 2 minutes then turn it over for another 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. 

Transfer the pan to the oven and broil for 2 minutes.  Keep an eye on it!  

Serve over pasta or zoodles (spiralized zucchini).   We zoodle! . 

PS I don't add grated cheese to anything with seafood but, if you really really like grated parmesan I suppose you can add it. 

Enjoy, xo Measure! 

Mushroom Pizza Bites

Like most humans that walk that earth and eat, I LOVE pizza.  I love all pizza.  I love pizza with mushrooms, pepperoni, peppers, sausage, arugula, pineapple, meatball, lobster- anything.   I love a white pie, a dessert pie, a clam pie.   You get the picture.   Unfortunately, pizza = carbs.  

So, when those pizza cravings come (daily), I love these little bites.  They're easy, versatile, pizza-y and carb-free.  I know, sauce and cheese on a mushroom, does not a pizza make. But with your favorite toppings, these may hold you over until the delivery guy arrives.  

Heres what you'll need for this "non-recipe" recipe:

  • 8-10 mushrooms, cleaned, stems discarded
  • olive oil, 1 tbsp
  • garlic salt, about 1/4 tsp
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • basil, torn for garnish
  • red pepper flakes  
  • dried oregano  

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.  On a sheet pan, covered with parchment paper (or not) place mushrooms in pile.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt and toss.  Arrange on the pan, mushroom ribs facing up. Bake in the oven for 5-8 minutes.

3.  Remove from the oven and carefully pat mushrooms dry with a paper towel.  Add a teaspoon of sauce to each mushroom and top with cheese.  Bake again for another 5-8 minutes.  Turn the oven on broil for the last 3 minutes to brown the cheese.

4. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Top with red pepper flakes, dried oregano and torn basil, if you'd like.  

Cravings satiated! 

xo & a pinch,


Coq a vin M&P style..

Ingredient shot

Yes, that's a football. It's play off season for this insane NFL fan! 

I love this time of year! The freezing cold air, the snow if we're lucky, the fireplace roaring, football for my beloved Pats.... & cozy meals.

Kelly and I decided we needed to learn how to make a few classics so, first on the list is Coq a Vin! I went to my go-to girls to get some inspiration (Ina & Anne) but for classics that always includes Julia..

Here's what I learned. 

1. It's a labor of love if you dredge it in flour before you cook it. If you don't have 2 1/2 hours or need a faster version, don't dredge it. 2. If you dredge it, dredge it as it goes into the pan. 3. If it's not thick enough for your liking, you can thicken it pretty easily or you can use less chicken broth. Oh, and 4. It's delicious for a Sunday Supper!

Here's what you'll need: 

  • Chicken thighs and drumsticks (8 thighs, 4 drumsticks) 
  • One bottle of red wine (3-4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup of Brandy
  • 3 cups of chicken broth 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • One spanish onion, chopped up small 
  • One small container of porcini mushrooms, quartered
  • One bag of frozen baby onions
  • One bunch of fresh thyme
  • 3 long stalks of celery, chopped up small 
  • 4 oz of pancetta 
  • 8 oz of (very thick) bacon
  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil x 2 
  • 1/2 cup of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of flour 
  • salt & pepper 

Start with your large dutch oven and coat the pan with the first 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat medium high, to high. Put your cup of flour into a flat pan for dredging. One piece of chicken at a time dredge it into the flour and pop into the hot dutch oven for frying. It should make a lot of noise when you put the chicken in. You want the chicken to be brown on all sides. 

Definitely don't overcrowd your pan, just enough to fit and work in batches. As you complete a batch sit the chicken on a paper towel to drain the oil off. Once all the chicken is done, go to your ingredients pictured below. 

Ingredients allc hopped up! 

Ingredients allc hopped up! 

Before you add the bacon go ahead and add the next 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bacon with the pancetta and cook it until it's crispy (medium high) add the celery and onions plus salt & pepper and lower the heat. You'll want these to cook until translucent. Add the garlic and let that simmer for about 2 minutes.Now, add the mushrooms, salt & pepper. After they cook down a bit add the brandy to glaze the pan and let the juice absorb. Next add your tomato paste, stir until it thickens a bit. Give it about 3-5 minutes and add your wine. 

Add your chicken back in, add the onions and  the chicken broth. Stir it and add a bunch of thyme. Place into a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes. When you take it out take a look and see what you think. If there's a lot of liquid pop it back on the stove and turn up the heat, let it boil off a bit to thicken. 

I added a little flour & butter (2 tablespoons of each blended in a saucepan)  

Voila! Now, if you want to do the straight up chicken without flour, it will cut a little bit on the time and calories. 

I served it with a cauliflower mash. Of course, I always sneak one potato no matter how healthy we are, in honor of my McSweeney & McGee's Irish heritage. 

Topped with some scallion 

Topped with some scallion 

Enjoy, xo Measure 

Cauliflower Cream of Mushroom Soup

Its no secret, I love cauliflower.   To me, cauliflower is the most magical vegetable in my kitchen.  Its versatility is endless and adding lots of cauliflower to your diet does wonders to your waistline.  Sometimes when I'm eating mashed cauliflower, I find myself trying to resist eating the entire plate.  I forget what I'm eating and think its potatoes!  No offense, potatoes, I love you too.   We go way back, but ... muffin top.

So, I introduce my newest cauliflobsession*- cream of mushroom soup.   Like I said in my post on our Cauliflower Broccoli Cheddar soup** (also fantastic), I would never eat the true versions of these soups; made with cream, flour and butter to get the "cream of ---" consistency.   To me, soups shouldn't be laden with fat and carbs.  Soup should not be a guilty pleasure.   It should be healthy, satisfying and cozy-inducing.  This soup is all of the good things and its so delicious and creamy, you'll forget what you're eating!

  • I small onion, chopped
  • garlic, 2-3 cloves, chopped
  • olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • cauliflower, 1 large head, chopped
  • beef or vegetable broth, 32 oz.
  • 8-10 mushrooms, chopped
  • Worchestershire, a small splash
  • thyme, fresh (a few sprigs, plus more for garnish)
  • salt & pepper

1.    In a large pot over high heat, add the cauliflower. Cover with water and add about a tsp of salt & pepper.  Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the cauliflower is fork tender.  Drain in a colander and return to the pot. 

2.  If you are using a blender or food processor, let the cauliflower cool completely.  Then, in batches, blend mixture until smooth.   If using an immersion blender, blend until smooth or your desired consistency.   Return the pureed cauliflower to the large pot.

2.  Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium high heat, swirl olive oil.  Add garlic, mushrooms & onion.  Cook for 10-12 minutes until softened.  Add thyme and splash of Worchestershire.   Season with salt & pepper.

3.  Put the pot of pureed cauliflower over medium heat.   Stir in broth until you achieve your desired consistency and let heat through.  Once you have the consistency that you like, stir in the cooked mushrooms & onions. (remove the thyme stems beforehand)  Taste for proper seasoning, adding salt & pepper as needed.  Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.

So good.

xo & a pinch,


*they say that people who create their own words are geniuses, just saying.

**for the Cauliflower Broccoli Cheddar soup recipe, search out site.  It'll pop right up!

The Mezcalita

Hold on to your sombrero!

My husband, Paul (a.k.a "McSweeney") has already been dubbed the ultimate margarita maker here in Measure & Pinch land (a.k.a "The Shore"), but hasn't stopped him from upping his game.     

So, Mezcal... There was a cool article in the New York Times back in 2009 about it making a comeback.   It seems to be taking its sweet & smoky time coming back, but we're still convinced it's the next big thing!   Mezcal is very special because it's still made in Oaxacan Villages, which may also explain the slow come back... travel time. 

mezcal rita bottle.JPG

For 2 lovely, smoky, spicy drinks:

  • 1 oz Reposado Tequila
  • 1 oz Silver Patron Tequila
  • 1 oz Mezcal
  • 1.5 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/4 oz agave nectar
  • 1-2 slices of fresh jalapeno and lime for garnish

Enjoy, responsibly - xo Measure (a.k.a Mrs. McSweeney)

Guest Home Chef: Denise

Kelly's big sister, Denise is big supporter and contributor to Measure & Pinch.  Today, we get to hear from her directly as she takes the reins on our webpage all the way from sunny Florida! 


In Florida, there are always lemons in abundance.  These beauties are from a neighbors tree.  Rather then letting them fall to the ground and go to waste, she brings them to me!  This recipe takes 30 days, so if you are looking to have it today, it's not going to happen!  Trust me, I am not a patient women but this is worth the wait.

This recipe makes a double batch. If you wish, you can easily cut in half.

What you will need:

  • 2 1.75 liter bottles of mid range to cheap vodka (don't use the good stuff, no need)
  • 15-20 lemons (if they are small, use 20)
  • simple syrup (2 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar that has been boiled and cooled)

What you will do:

1.  Peel all the lemons.  Be sure to leave as much as the pith as you can (white part of peel).  The more pith, the more bitter it will be.

2.  Put all the peels in a container large enough to hold the vodka with the peels.  The container you use should not be transparent, and it must have a lid.

lemons in water.JPG

3. Pour vodka over lemon peels, seal up the container and place in a cool dark space.

4. Wait 30 days... patiently...

5.  Finally, after 30 days, strain and then add simple syrup.

lemons draining.JPG

6. Put in pretty bottles and either store in fridge or freezer (I love the freezer - it will freeze but it will be a terrific temperature!

lemon, limoncello bottles.JPG

Pucker up!

xo & a squeeze,

At Measure & Pinch, we believe that we are all stars in our own kitchens!  We celebrate our Guest Home Chefs by taking a page out of James Lipton's book and do a little "Inside the Actor's Studio"- inspired interview.  We leave out the question about the favorite curse word though.  We try to keep it clean! 

Here is Denise's interview:

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD?  potato chips and onion dip


WHAT TURNS YOU ON?  I love to sit outside with a beautiful glass of wine.  This is my happy place.

WHAT TURNS YOU OFF?  A dirty house/bathroom and especially a dirty port-a-potty!

 WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO COOK?  I don't like to cook every day meals.  I like to cook big meals and have family over.  I also cook one day month but freeze a lot of it so when I come home from work, nothing to cook- just heat up & eat!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DRINK?  a fresh squeezed margarita. 

WHAT PROFESSION OTHER THAN YOUR OWN WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO?  I would love to be a "Orange County Housewife"  they are always eating and drinking on the show.



We are looking forward to hearing from Denise again soon!

The Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies

For me, Christmas is the season of wistful nostalgia.  This time of year I find myself starting most sentences with "When I was a kid..." or "Back in the day..."   I dont know- jingle bells and holiday cheer turn me into a depression-era grandmother for some reason!   

I know I'm lucky to have warm memories of Christmas past, but I cant help missing it and wishing for it now.   My wonderfully food-centric mother made Christmas (and the days leading up to it) sweet, cinnamon-y, spicy and delicious.  I miss that.  I've been trying to follow in her kitchen footsteps for some time now, but I always fall short on baking.  

"When I was a kid..." each year my mother, with the help of my big sister Denise, would bake ALL the treats.  Spritz cookies, chocolate chips, honey balls, "Greek" cookies, thumb prints, sugar cookies and these, peanut butter cookies were baked in our kitchen.  I call these the "The Easiest" because they are the only cookie that I could master.  The cookie that I, as a kid, could bake, unsupervised.   The same is true today.  I made these all by myself!  - thanks to Denise.

Last week, I asked her for mom's cookie recipes and she sent me lots of pics that look like this:

A page out of my sister's very old steno pad with our family recipes.

A page out of my sister's very old steno pad with our family recipes.

Naturally, Denise was the smart one who wrote down mom's creations.   I just ate them with a tall glass of milk.   

Depression-era grandma alert:  When my sister sent me this, I cried.  Look at the stained pages and Denise's cute swirly handwriting!  I remember looking at this page and baking these cookies in my mom's kitchen.   (Its this kind of thing that keeps me writing this blog.)

So, there in that swirly handwriting is the recipe for The Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies ever.   The only thing I'd add is use softened butter and in my opinion, crunchy peanut butter takes these cookies to a new level of greatness (and nostalgia).

Merry Christmas!

xo & a pinch,

peanut butter cookies middle.jpg

Holiday Re-Post: Candy Cane Merry Martini

Happy Friday!  Every Christmas season we pull out our red bows, twinkly lights, gold garland (!) and our favorite holiday recipes!  This is one of them.  We are remembering Christmas past and looking forward to a magical season this year!  Cheers!

  • 1 1/4  oz vanilla vodka
  • 1 1/4 oz white crème de cacao
  • 3/4 oz peppermint schnapps

Shake with ice until freezing cold, pour and enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

Measure & Pinch

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Slow Cooker Turkey and Pearl Barley Soup


Coming home to a slow-cooker dinner makes me so excited and happy, that it completely washes away my workday exhaustion.   Opening the door to warm, delicious aromas reminds me of coming home to family dinner when I was a kid.  Thank you Slow Cooker!!

This soup is a great way to use up turkey left-overs for a weeknight dinner.  Its thick and savory, almost like a stew.  The pearl barley makes it creamy, luxurious and satisfying.  

Here's what you'll need:

  • carrots, 3-4 chopped
  • celery, 2-3 stalks, chopped
  • onion, large, chopped
  • turkey, 3 cups, cooked and chopped (or chicken)
  • chicken broth, low -sodium 48 oz. carton
  • barley, 1 cup uncooked
  • sage leaves, 1 tbsp. chopped, plus more for garnish
  • salt & pepper

Here's what you'll do:

Add chopped vegetables to the slow cooker pot.


Add the turkey and barley, season.


Chicken broth and water until all is covered with liquid.


Add your chopped sage, cover and set on low heat for 8 hours.

To serve, stir, ladle into bowls.  Top with a bit of fresh sage and enjoy.

xo & a pinch



Bacon-Wrapped Dates

The crowd-pleaser award goes to....  the Bacon-Wrapped Date!

This is hands-down the easiest, best, 2 ingredient, sweet & spicy, warm, fall-like little bite that everyone loves.  Well, everyone that enjoys bacon wrapped around a sweet, chewy little morsel of heaven.

Here's what you'll need for a dozen:

  • 12 pitted dates.   (if they aren't pitted, just slice open and remove pit)
  • 6 slices of bacon, each slice cut in half.

Here's what you do:

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.

2.  Wrap each date with a 1/2 slice of bacon.   Place on foil-lined pan with the seam of the bacon on the bottom.

3.  Bake in the oven on 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until bacon is crisp.

 4. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. The sweet chewy date will be delicious, but scorching hot!

Serve warm or at room temperature. 

You can also prepare these ahead and keep covered with foil until you are ready to bake.

These are a scrumptious bite with pre-dinner cocktails or bubbles!

Cheers!  Happy Holidays!


Measure & Pinch

Cornmeal & Parmesan Crusted Baked Squash

The crunchy cornmeal topping with warm, fragrant rosemary and parmesan combined with a zip of lemon is perfect here.  Its kind of pretty too! 

  • 2-3 zucchini, sliced into coins
  • 2-3 yellow squash, sliced into coins
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary, small bunch chopped, about 1 tbsp
  • 1 lemon, zest & juice
  • salt & pepper
  • red pepper flakes, a pinch (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables.  Cut the squash into thin coins.  On the cutting board, coat with 1 tbsp olive oil, season with salt & pepper, red pepper flakes.

Arrange in a baking dish... neatly or not- your choice!

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cornmeal, parmesan, chopped rosemary, zest and juice of the lemon, salt & pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil.  Combine with a fork until mixture is a sandy consistency.

Place the cornmeal topping on the arranged squash.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and the squash is tender.


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Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a spritz of lemon.


Beet & Blueberry Salad

I'm one of those people that reads "Click Here for 10 Foods You Must Eat to Live to be 105!" and clicks.  I just have to do it.  I've heard these things referred to as "chick bait."  Whatever, call me caught hook, line & sinker, but who doesn't want to live to be 105?  

So, in the spirit of post-Halloween detox, I read (on the internet, of course) about the best foods for natural detox.  Or, was it the top 5 cancer fighting foods?  Whatever it was, when I went to go back and read the article again, I couldn't find it, naturally.   So, I've been walking around with these magically healthy foods bouncing around my head.  Today, I decided to get them out of my head and onto a plate.  I remember that beets, blueberries, lemons and pomegranate are super foods that fight disease and make you feel and look your best.  I decided to throw them all together into this gorgeous salad because lets face it, I'd love to naturally detox, ward off cancer and live to 105!  Who doesn't?

Here's what you'll need:

  • 3-4 medium sized beets, stems trimmed and scrubbed.
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • Feta cheese crumbles, 1/4 cup
  • Parsley leaves, 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 Pomegranate, seeds
  • salt   

Here's what you'll do:

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees while you scrub and prepare your beets.   Place scrubbed, whole beets in a foil packet and on a baking sheet.  Roast in the oven until fork tender, about 60 minutes.   Let cool.   Scrub skins off.  They should come off easily with a paper towel.

2.  Cut beets into cubes.   Combine cubed beats with blueberries, parsley, lemon and salt.   Tumble the feta over the salad.  Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Enjoy Super Health!

xo & a pinch,

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