Measure & Pinch Guest Home Chef, Jessica!

As many of you know, we love home cooks and love to learn what you are all doing in your kitchens.  We recently had the great opportunity to "meet" Jessica through Instagram and Facebook.  She follows Measure & Pinch and we follow her!  She is a mom of sweet little ones who loves to post shots her favorite homemade meals and her beautiful family.  Just look at those little ones- so precious!!   Home cooks like Jessica are our inspiration; the very reason we started Measure & Pinch.  We were so thrilled when Jessica agreed to be on of our featured Guest Home Chefs and share her recipe for Buffalo Chicken Lasagna!   What a great idea, right?  Two outrageously delicious family favorites in one dinner.  Its brilliant. 

Jessica family.PNG

Jessica calls herself an "eyeballer" when it comes to cooking, so she warned that her recipe may need our tweeking.   We tried it as is, and loved it... and our boys from the husbands, to the teenager, to the little ones, loved this dinner.

Jessica adds that she's a "sauce" person.  So, she uses lots for this recipe.  Also, her family doesn't like blue cheese very much, so she skipped it but thinks that adding crumbled blue cheese to the ricotta mixture would be awesome for those who are blue cheese fans.  We agree.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs shredded chicken
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 2 bottles (24oz) buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar Mild Buffalo Sauce)
  • 1/2 cup water (reserved)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Ranch dressing, plus extra for topping
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend


For the chicken, simmer 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, in just enough water to cover chicken approximately 15-20 minutes (until no longer pink).  Set the chicken aside to cool.  Then shred using two forks.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the water.

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add carrots, onion, and celery.  Sautée until tender.  Add minced garlic.  Cook about 2 more minutes.  Then add diced tomatoes, buffalo sauce, chicken, and reserved water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1/2 hour.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package.  Drain.

In a small bowl, mix ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, 1 cup of mozzarella, and ranch.
 

Jessica Lasagna 2.JPG

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish.  Pour about 1 cup of sauce into pan and spread to coat the bottom.  Lay 4 lasagna noodles, slightly overlapping.  Spread more sauce over noodles.  Spoon about half the ricotta mixture over the sauce and spread.  Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella and 2/3 cup Italian cheese.  Layer 4 more noodles.  Add a layer of sauce.  Spoon the other half of the ricotta mixture over sauce and spread.  Sprinkle another cup of mozzarella and another 2/3 cup of shredded Italian cheese.  Layer last 4 lasagna noodles on top.  Pour remaining sauce over noodles and spread. 

Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 20-25 minutes.  During the last 10 minutes of baking, add remaining shredded cheese to melt on top.  Pull lasagna out of the oven.  Top with enough ranch dressing to cover the top.  Let cool 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Spicy and Delicious!  - Thank you Jessica!

As with all of our Guest Home Chefs, we take a page out of James Lipton's book and do a little interview ala "Inside the Actor Studio",  because afterall, we are all STARS in our own kitchen!


What is your favorite food?  I have to pick a favorite?  Hard to narrow down...  I love soup. I could eat soup everyday.  Creamy soups are my favorite.

What is your least favorite food?  "Fishy" tasting fish.  

What turns you on? GOOD FOOD.....and warm, breezy beach nights.

What turns you off?  Swearing.

What inspires you to cook?  I love to prepare good food for others.  I thrive on honest feedback.  Food makes me happy, and I love when my food makes others happy.

What is your favorite drink?  Trilogy Kombucha

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  It would be cool to own my own cafe someday.

 What profession would you not like to do?  Politician.

If Heaven exists, what do you wish to hear God say to you when you arrive at the pearly gates?  Welcome home.  :)

THANK YOU JESSICA!!!!

Truly a girl we'd love to hang out with.  If only we lived closer!  In the meantime, see you on the Internet! 

... and we will be making this dish over and over again!

                                

                                

 Thanks Jessica!

xo

Measure & Pinch

 

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! 

DENISE'S LIMONCELLO

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.

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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,
Denise

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 IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE FOOD?  Liver

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.

IF HEAVEN EXISTS, WHAT DO YOU WISH TO HEAR GOD SAY TO YOU WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT THE PEARLY GATES?  We've been waiting for you, here's your Mom and Dad.

THANK YOU DENISE!  

We are looking forward to hearing from Denise again soon!

Measure & Pinch Guest Home Chef : Samantha!

Samantha's Cherry Tart 

The beginnings of something delicious!

The beginnings of something delicious!

Samantha is a dear friend of Measure & Pinch and whenever she visits the M&P headquarters, its a party!   Sam is a young, hard-working lawyer from NYC who loves wine, music and hosting dinner parties in her apartment.  Sam is a fan of the finer things like luxurious bed sheets and fancy cocktails, but she owns a meat slicer and loves cured meats.  She's just wonderful.

During her last visit, Sam made us a Cherry Tart.  A sweet treat to top off our festive end-of summer lobster dinner.  It was a great night and we're so happy to have this great recipe to share with you.

Beautiful.... 

Beautiful.... 

Cherry Tart  ala Martha Stewart (the master of "good things")

Here's what you'll need:

  • 6 graham crackers (each 2 1/2 by 5 inches)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 oz. bar cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound fresh sweet cherries, such as Bing, pitted and halved
  • 1 tablespoon seedless raspberry jam
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Here's what you'll do:

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers and 2 tablespoons sugar until finely ground. Add butter, and process until combined. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using your cute little fingers (see Sam's below) firmly press mixture into bottom and up the sides of pan. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely.

2.   Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheesevanilla, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add cream, and beat until soft peaks form; spread mixture in cooled crust. Scatter cherries on top with the help of the nearest toddler (see below).

3.  In a small saucepan, combine jam and 1 teaspoon water; heat over low until liquefied, about 2 minutes. Using a pastry brush, dab cherries with the glaze. Refrigerate tart at least 30 minutes or, covered, up to 1 day.

Sam firmly pressing

Sam firmly pressing

With her, cooking is fun, sweet and pretty.

With her, cooking is fun, sweet and pretty.

The boys love Miss Sam, so helpers are easy to find.

'lil help  (placing one cherry at a time)

'lil help  (placing one cherry at a time)

Sweet & creamy with a buttery graham cracker crust.   Perfection!

Sweet & creamy with a buttery graham cracker crust.   Perfection!

Thank you Samantha & Josh for this delicious dessert (and the gifted tart pan)!   We look forward to our next kitchen adventure with you!

Sweet Dreams!

Sweet Dreams!

We interview our Guest Home Chefs using a modified version of James Lipton's questions from The Actor's Studio because after all, you are a Star in your own kitchen!

M&P:    What is your favorite food?

Sam:    Cheese and bagels.  Cured Italian meats... whats on the table right now.

M&P:    What is your least favorite food?

Sam:     American lamb.   It has a strong after taste and smell.

M&P:     What turns you on?

Sam:     An amazing sample sale.  Yves DeLorme sheets.  Being comfortable.  "Being me;    ultimate happiness."

M&P:    What turns you off?

Sam:    (She turns to Josh, and asks, what turns me off?)   Self deprecation and narcissism.

M&P:    But those are opposite..?

Sam:     I don't like extremes.   Balance is most important to me.

M&P:    What or who inspires you to cook?

Sam:     My grandfather.  He was born in Iraq. He can make anything, Italian, Greek food, Kielbasi, steak tartar.   He married a Polish woman.  He and his wife would go to the Waldorf Astoria and recreate their dinner.   He made the most delicious steak tartar.   I inherited his meat slicer.

M&P:     What is your favorite drink?

Sam:     20th Century.   On our third date, Josh took me to the Flatiron Lounge.  I had the 20th Century.  Its a gin drink with lemon and a chocolate finish.   Its amazing.   It will be featured at my 30th birthday party.

M&P:    What profession would you like to attempt?

Sam:     Pilot

M&P:     What profession would you wish not to attempt?

Sam:     Sewage plant treatment worker.

M&P:     If Heaven exists, what do you wish to hear God say to you when you arrive to the pearly gates:

Sam:     "You did good."

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 We love you Miss Samantha!  Thank you!!!

xoxo

Measure & Pinch

M&P's FIRST Guest Home Chef: JOSEPH

The Guest Home Chef series is Measure & Pinch's way to feature everyday cooks in their own kitchens doing wonderful things.  To begin our series, we are happy to announce our FIRST GUEST HOME CHEF...JOSEPH!

Joseph Migliore IV comes from a long line of true Italian cooks, so its no mystery that he's featuring home-made mozzarella.  This kid can make cheese!  In addition to being a sweet nephew to Kelly, Joseph has a great palate for wines and off- the-beaten-path delicacies.  He loves to host dinner parties, try new and different foods and drink beer.  Joseph has many fantastic recipes in his arsenal.  We are so happy that he is sharing with us!

Together, Joseph and his partner in cheese-making, Shayla Trotter show us how to make fresh mozzarella right in your own kitchen.

 

Shayla, Joseph and their delicious creation!

Shayla, Joseph and their delicious creation!

What you will need:

  • 1 gallon of Milk (any type, as long as it is not ultra-pasturized)
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Citric Acid (you can buy online or at specialty food stores)
  • 1/4 tablet or 1/4 tsp of Rennet  (you can buy this online or at specialty food stores)
  • salt to taste
  • a standard kitchen/meat thermometer

 

Your simple ingredients... bread for later.

Your simple ingredients... bread for later.

Heres what you'll do:

1.  Dissolve citric acid in 1 cup of cool water.  Mix citric acid-water mixture with milk in a large pot, stir vigorously.  Heat the milk mixture on medium heat until to reaches 90 degrees.

2.  Stir rennet tablet in 1/4 cup of cold water, once dissolved add it to the pot of hot milk.  Stir in with an up and down motion for approximately 30 seconds.

3.  Leave the pot undisturbed for 30-45 seconds with cover on.

4.  Check the curd, it should look like custard with a clear separation between the curd and whey.  If curd is too soft let set for a few more minutes.

5.  Cut curd with a knife while still in pot.

6.  Place pot back on the stove and heat to 105 degrees while slowing moving the curds around with spoon.

7.  Take pot off the burner again and slowly stir for 2-5 minutes.

8.  Pour off the floating whey.

9.  Ladle your curds into a large microwaveable bowl.  Place bowl in microwave on high heat for 1 minute.

10.  Remove and drain off the whey and add salt to taste, fold the curd.

11.  Microwave on high heat for another 30 seconds, drain again and stretch the curd.  Pull and stretch curd like taffy until it is smooth and shiny.  If curd is not hot enough, put in microwave for another 45 seconds.

12. Once curd is the consistency you like, form into a ball and place in a bowl.

13. Drizzle with olive oil, herbs and serve.    Mangia!

                                                 Taffy-like curds

                                                 Taffy-like curds

                   Gorgeous fresh, warm mozzarella cheese.  Who wouldn't love this?

                   Gorgeous fresh, warm mozzarella cheese.  Who wouldn't love this?

As part of our Guest Home Chef series, we interview our chefs with questions inspired by James Lipton from "The Actors Studio", because they are, afterall, Stars in their own kitchen!

M&P:   What is your favorite food?

Joseph :  I like to try a different variety of foods; Mexican, Italian, French and American.  I have tried alligator, oxtail, rabbit, frog legs.  I missed out on kangaroo today...

 

M&P:    What is your least favorite food?

Joseph:  German food.

 

M&P:  Keeping it clean, what turns you on? 

Joseph:  Anything that is well made - an esthetically pleasing cocktail or dish

 

M&P:  What turns you off?

Joseph:  Anything messy, dirty or unclean.

 

M&P:  What inspires you to cook? 

Joseph:  I like to try new things, so my own curiosity.

 

M&P:  What is your favorite drink? 

Joseph:  Beer

 

M&P:  What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  

Joseph:  Sommelier

 

M&P:  What profession would you not like to do? 

Joseph: Behavior Therapist.

 

M&P:  If Heaven exists, what do you wish to hear God say to you when you arrive at the pearly gates? 

Joseph:  "Do you want an IPA or a sour beer?"

 

Measure & Pinch thanks Joseph and Shayla for sharing this wonderful recipe and Joseph for being our First Guest Home Chef!  We are truly grateful for your support and contribution to our goal towards Celebrating the Chef in Every Kitchen!

Thank you both!!

xo

Measure & Pinch

 

                    Keep up the deliciousness, Shayla and Joseph!     ...THANK YOU!! ... 

                    Keep up the deliciousness, Shayla and Joseph!     ...THANK YOU!! ...