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.


  • 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.  :)


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!


Measure & 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,



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! 

Italian Wedding Soup

How perfect is Italian Wedding Soup on Valentines?  It says it all; comfort, home, warmth, love, Italian-ness... best of all, its easy.  My little boy Valentines like it too!

Here's what you'll need for the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 5 links Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 white onion, grated or minced
  • 2/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • fresh parsley, small handful, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

Gently combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Create 1 inch balls and set aside until ready to brown. 

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.   Brown meatballs on all sides 8-10 minutes total, set aside.   Brown in batches.

For the soup:

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 32 oz box of chicken stock
  • White wine, a splash
  • 1 cup of small cut pasta.  We used Stelline
  • baby spinach or escarole, a small bunch, washed and roughly chopped

Heat the olive oil pn medium-high heat in the (unwashed) Dutch oven, (the brown bits from the meatballs adds delicious flavor).  Add the chopped onion, carrots and celery, season with salt & pepper,  and cook for about 5-8 minutes.  Add wine and cook for a 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, meatballs and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, add the greens and cover for 1 minute until wilted.   Salt & pepper until you love it. 

Cook the pasta in a separate pot according to package instructions and add desired amount of cooked pasta to each serving of soup.  OR Stir in the pasta and cook for 8 minutes, until pasta is cooked.  

*When heating left-over soup, the pasta gets too soft and I cringe. To avoid this, I cook the pasta separate.   If you don't mind, or you don't care for left-overs, feel free to just cook the pasta to the soup pot.

be sure to put your heart in it!

be sure to put your heart in it!

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Garnish each bowl with extra grated parmesan and enjoy.

A glass of wine and a kiss makes it a perfect meal!

What special dinner will you make for your Valentine?

xo and pinch,



No-Pasta Butternut Squash Lasagna


There is no pasta in this lasagna. Is that against all rules of lasagna?  Probably.

I'm not really a resolution person, but after the holidays,  I like to detox a bit and get back to healthier food with vegetables taking center stage.  This is a perfect prep-ahead dinner for a weeknight.   It freezes and re-heats nicely and makes a great meal with a salad.   I purposely kept this on the light side, but adding browned crumbled chicken sausage or lean beef to the layers would make this dish sing!  

Once again, those carb-perfect lasagna noodles are sitting, waiting, patiently on the pantry shelf.  We will reunite soon, I promise, but until then... the butternuts.

Heres what you'll need:

  • 1 large butternut squash, sliced with a vegetable peeler or mandoline into ribbons.
  • 2 cups simple marinara sauce (see recipe below)
  • 1 cup low fat ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • nutmeg, a pinch
  • 1/2 cup shredded low fat mozzarella
  • dried oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese

For a quick and simple marinara:

  • 1  28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • red pepper flakes, a pinch
  • fresh basil, 4-5 leaves ripped (optional)
  • salt & pepper

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add butter, olive oil, garlic and pinch of red pepper flake.  Heat until garlic is tender (but not brown), add tomatoes and oregano.  Season with salt & pepper.   Let simmer approximately 30 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add basil in the last 5 minutes.


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare your ricotta cheese:

Combine ricotta with egg, parsley, salt & pepper, parmesan cheese.  Set aside.

Assemble your lasagna :

In medium baking dish, ladle marinara and spread on the bottom of the dish.  lay and even layer of squash noodles, layer ricotta, layer sauce, repeat until the dish is full. Top with sauce, ricotta, mozzarella.  Sprinkle with extra oregano if you wish.



Cover with foil, place on a sheet tray to avoid spills in your oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbling.   Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.   Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.



xo & a pinch


Turkey Bolognese over "Zoodles"


Poor pasta!  Once a star staple on our weekly dinner menu is now sitting quietly on the pantry shelf.  Our efforts to eat more vegetables have lead us to allowing zucchini, of all things,  to be the star.  I mean really, who truly loves zucchini?  Lets be honest, it has virtually no flavor.  Its pretty much the tofu of vegetables.; desperately needing flavorful company or breading and a deep fry bath!

That being said, the lack of significant flavor and its shape is what makes zucchini the perfect faux pasta!  Slice it with a vegetable peeler and you get perfect ribbons resembling pappardelle.


Here's what you'll need for Turkey Mushroom Bolognese:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 6-8  mushrooms, chopped  (we used baby bellas)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1.    Swirl olive oil into a dutch oven or large sauce pan and cook onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms and carrot over medium heat.  Let the vegetables soften and the onion become translucent, about 8-10 minutes. 

2.  Remove the cooked vegetables with a slotted spoon and reserve in a bowl.   Add more olive oil to the pot and add the ground turkey.  Season with salt and pepper and brown the meat, break apart the meat as it cooks, about 5-8 minutes.

3.   Once the turkey is browned and crumbled,  return the cooked vegetables to the pot.   Stir in the crushed tomatoes and season again with salt, pepper.  Add oregano and red pepper flakes.  Cook on medium-low heat allowing to gently simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.


For the "Zoodles":

  • 3-4 medium zucchini
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Using a potato peeler, simply peel zucchini into thin ribbons.  Once you have all of your zucchini ribbons, toss into a saute pan with olive oil salt & pepper.  Saute for about 3 minutes until slightly softened.

To serve, pour sauce over zucchini ribbons.  Top with grated cheese or here, we topped with a bit of fresh ricotta.

We'll see you soon Pasta!  Until then, zoodles!

xo & a pinch



Ala Vodka

Yes, it's Ziti 

Yes, it's Ziti 

Who doesn't love ala vodka!? Tomatoes & cream?! Hello.. Yum...

Here's my take on this one. You probably should use penne or something that soaks up that fabulous sauce or like me, accidentally grab ziti and make it a new trend!

This one was in honor of my mother in law, "McMom." She requested Vodka sauce, of course! I can make pretty much any other Italian sauce being Italian and all but, I'd never made it before.
What could be so hard, really? It seemed like the only difference between it and any other marinara type red sauce is vodka & cream. 

The good news!? I made it!

Kelly and I agreed, it's really quite something & it was totally blog worthy!

Here's what you need:

  • one medium onion, chopped finely (I always use spanish onions, no idea why)
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed not chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, yup, butter!
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil,
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes,
  • 1 cup of vodka (doesn't have to be good vodka)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Basil leaves (fresh, optional)
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 baby can of tomato paste
  • 1 lb of ziti (lol)
  • Grated parmesan to taste

Start this sauce much like a risotto. Take a heavy medium sauce pan or if you want to use mid sized le Crusette pot that's ok, too.

Butter and oil into a medium high heated pan, add the onion. Stir until they start to get clear in color and then, add the garlic & red pepper flakes (totally optional), one pinch of salt, three turns of pepper in your grinder (or say, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper)

Another 1-2 minutes or so, then add the vodka. Let it burn off roughly 3-4 minutes. Add both tomato sauces, lower heat to medium & cover for about 10 minutes, take cover off, another 5 minutes or so.

Add the cream but, be sure the sauce isn't boiling (it shouldn't be anyway but, just in case that wasn't clear, definitely don't want it to boil) Stir, taste, yum. You can serve within about 5 minutes of the creamy yumminess going in, how about that!?

Keep a 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining just in case you need it pending the thickness of the sauce.

After draining the pasta, put it back into the big empty pasta pot you used to boil the water. Pour the vodka sauce on it, stir and stir in the parmesan to taste. That's it! Just put it into a serving bowl top with a little basil garnish.

  • Personally, I didn't add the cream until I was close to serving time. I started the sauce before I  started the pasta. No idea why but, I think it's because I'm used to making other sauces which cook for hours and hours and they longer they cook the better they are but, this one is different. That said, that's not how this sauce rolls, it's quick. You could absolutely start your sauce at the same time you start boiling the water, no problem.

Enjoy!  xoxo Measure


Basil Harvest: Walnut Basil Spaghetti

Sometimes food has sentimental value.  For me, some recipes are steeped in comforting memories of my childhood home, fresh vegetables from the garden, mom in the kitchen or dad at the grill.  I'm lucky.

This pasta does something like that for my husband. Coming from a large family, he cherishes memories of big dinners and holiday gatherings.  Each year on Christmas eve, his grandmother served spaghetti with walnuts to accompany her seafood dinner, which was the biggest and most important holiday dinner in the Read family.  This tradition remains strong today. On Christmas eve, my mother-in-law recreates the dinner from years past, including walnut spaghetti.  We're lucky.

I don't wish to dilute a special tradition. So, as delicious as it is, I only make this pasta once per year when the basil is abundant and needing an edible purpose.  I also changed the recipe a bit for the same reason.

Heres what you'll need:

  • 1 1/2 cup of shelled walnuts, chopped
  • 2-3 anchovy fillets or 1-2 tbsp. of anchovy paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • salt and pepper

Here's what you'll do:

Spread the chopped walnuts on a baking sheet in an even layer and bake at 350 degrees until golden and fragrant, 8-10 minutes.

Bring a large pasta pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti 8-10 minutes until al dente and drain, reserving at least 1 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat swirl about 2 tbsps. of olive oil in the pan, add garlic and anchovy fillets. Heat through allowing the anchovy to melt and the garlic to lightly cook. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat and reserve.

Combine cooked pasta, walnuts and garlic together in the pasta pot.  Add most of the basil leaves, keeping some aside for garnish,  and some pasta water to obtain a lightly saucy consistency.   Transfer to a serving bowl and season with salt, pepper, grated parmesan, a few torn basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.   Enjoy this as a meat-free dinner or as a side dish with chicken, fish, beef or pork.

What recipes do you reserve for special traditions?

xo & a pinch,



Basil Harvest: Pistachio Pesto with Gemelli

Many moons ago, NYC was my home.  During those wonderful years, I did a lot of restaurant (bar) hopping.  No seriously, I was lucky enough to sample amazing bites from some of the best restaurants in the city.

NYC is... I cant even finish that sentence.   There are no words to explain how fantastic, fast, exciting and abundant that place is!

Now that I live in the suburbs as a New Jersey Housewife (kidding), I get really excited about returning to my old stomping ground to try out the new places.   Our most recent trip to the city brought us to Locanda Verde in TriBeCa.  Without turning this into a restaurant review, I'll just say.... AMAZING!   We were lucky enough to get a beautiful table in the courtyard on a luscious, breezy summer night.  It was like a dream with white pillar candles everywhere, ivy covered brick walls, cozy seating, friendly and knowledgable wait staff.

It was a large group, so we basically ordered everything and the taste-fest began.  The crab jalepeno crostinti, the lamb meatball sliders, steak tartara and the fresh sheep's milk ricotta were the starters. Each so delicious that our loud laughing, drinking table suddenly became silent, except for the random but frequent "mmmmm",  "did you try...?" and "oh my God."

Next the pastas... We had the pappardelle with lamb bolognese, lumache with duck sausage and the pistastio pesto over gemelli.  All were so delicious, so wonderful, warm and tasty and it continues....

The entrees.  I thoroughly enjoyed the prosciutto wrapped trout with corn ragu. It was savory and moist.  My husband had "the best lamb chop in his life."  I could go on, but I wont.  Lets just say, the night was such an amazing experience, that I just had to bring something home with me.

Here it is.  A lovely memory remembered in my own modest kitchen.



The ingredients are easy and accessible.  The preparation is even easier with a food processor.


Here's what you'll need to serve 4:

  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios.  We used roasted and salted pistachios.  If you use raw pistachios, roast in the oven on a baking sheet until browned and fragrant.
  • 1 packed cup of fresh basil leaves
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. shredded parmesean cheese
  • 1 tbsp. shredded romano cheese
  • 1 Lemon, rind and juice
  • red pepper flakes (a pinch)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb gemelli pasta

Here's what you'll do:

1.  In a large pot, cook gemelli in boiling salted water according to package instructions. About 8-10 minutes.  Drain and reserve a cup of pasta water.

2.  In a food processor, place basil, garlic, pistachios, salt, pepper, pinch of red pepper flake, lemon rind and juice and process until smooth.  Fold in shredded cheese.

3.   Toss pasta with pesto, adding small amounts of pasta water while stirring until you achieve saucy consistency.  Usually about 1/4 cup of water is sufficient.

This recipe is enough for one pound of pasta.  If you want extra pesto, just double the batch and store in your refrigerator in an air tight container for up to a week.  Freeze in a ice cube tray, transfer cubes to an airtight food storage bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

This is the consistency that you're looking for:



Do you cook any restaurant inspired recipes from delicious food memory? 

xo & a pinch