September 20, 2015
by tastybelly

In which I am rather dumb

I am the crazy lady that keeps chicken carcasses in her freezer to be turned into stock. Opening my freezer kind of looks like something out of a poultry episode of Dexter.

I love making stock, it both lets me get all the use possible out of a chicken and is waaaayyy cheaper then buying boxes stock to cook with. In the past when I have made stock its an all day process where my stove runs, the whole house smells like chicken, and my cat goes bananas all day.


Yesterday I realized I needed stock for something I planned to make this week and decided to try to using my crock pot, and then I realized I was a little dumb for waiting that long to make stock that way.

I tossed in a chicken carcass, some chopped onion, covered the whole thing in water and let it cook while I went about my day. While I did laundry, took the tiny human to the park, and generally got my Saturday on I had fresh stock building flavor. After that batch finished I decided it was so easy so I did another one overnight. Now I’m set for stock for a few weeks and have space in the freezer again for ice cream!



September 13, 2015
by tastybelly

Plum Crazy!

Cooking for yourself is fun, cooking for others is more fun, cooking for the tiny human you made is kind of the best.


Babies are fun to feed because you can just puree most of what you want to eat and feed it to them. When you first starting feeding your little one solids take it easy on the spices but as they get older you can add them back in and layer flavors and textures.

They also make excellent receptacles for fruit you bought before you went on vacation about and then totally forgot about in your crisper drawer for two weeks! If your kiddo likes applesauce as much as mine does it a great vehicle to introduce other flavors (see that bags of plums you left in the fridge for two weeks).


After taking the pits out (with my fingers), I tossed the squishy plumness into a pot with 1/2c of water, a teaspoon of each cinnamon and ginger, and let it bubble merrily away.  I ended up adding a tablespoon of sugar as they cooked to counter-act some sourness.  I let it cook on a super low flame (as low as my gas stove would go without the flame going out) for a little over an hour till it was the consistency of a thin jam.  You could cook it more or less depending on your preference or how much time you have to let it cook, there is no wrong answer!


The beauty of this recipe is that I can just as easily stir it into her applesauce as my chia seed pudding (I love that calling something that is healthy pudding makes it so much more appetizing) and it takes almost no time to make.


February 5, 2014
by tastybelly

Brunch that does not require pants

Sunday’s are my favorite day, which I may haven mentioning that before, mostly because I think brunch might be the most civilized meal ever invented.  While going out to restaurants with delicious options, bottomless beverages, and goof friends is delightful, sometimes staying home is just as fun.  Plus you can eat in your flannel pants and share food with polite kittens who demand a chair at the table!

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My favorite is a good eggs Benedict and after a lifetime of buying my hollandaise sauce I decided to try making my own.  And ho-ly crap is it easy.  I used Julia Child’s recipe and with the exception of not melting the butter early enough, and sadly overcooking one of my eggs, I was done making brunch in about 20 minutes.  I do highly recommend using the pinch of cayenne that Tori recommends in the recipe for an extra little kick to your Sunday.  I had always thought that hollandaise was meant to be a thick and incredibly rich sauce, however this version is light, airy, and very lemony, the perfect way to offset toasted bread topped with a poached egg.


February 2, 2014
by tastybelly


After three month of having a job where I worked weekends, and evenings (and everything in between), I am free!!  My new job, which we can chat about later, gives me back my nights and weekends and let’s me spend time with my favorite people.

To celebrate my first Sunday of freedom in quite a while the hubs and I met some friends at the new restaurant in Union Market, Bidwell, which was super fun as it was their first brunch service and watching the staff figure out how to get it all right was adorable.  Plus they have unlimited mimosas, which makes everything more amusing!


After that we clearly had to wander the market and collect all the necessary items to make dinner.  A few weeks before I had gotten Food and Wine’s steakhouse roundup, bless them for knowing we need soothing red meat and savory sides to survive all of this polar vortex nonsense.  In the magazine there was a recipe for butter braised rib eye steaks (yes, steak braised in butter!), and I knew I wanted to make them but needed to get really nice rib eyes to do that with.  Luckily the lovely folks at Harvey’s Market were there to help me out.  While their meat is not cheap, it is sustainable, antibiotic free, and so flavorful and delicious that you almost don’t need to do anything to it at all.

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To go with the steaks I made maple braised carrots, also from F&W, using bourbon maple syrup from the gorgeous ladies at Salt & Sundry, I know I have written about the fun that Amanda and her team bring to Union Market, but what I also love is that I can go in to drool over the gorgeous furniture that I hope to get some day when I am a grown up, and still walk out with a wee bottle of syrup that will make my dinner delicious and me happy!

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What was great about this meal is that it was warm and incredibly satisfying but the whole thing took maybe 20 minutes, or one glass of wine in Jessica time, and let me get back to enjoying my Sunday!


What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekend?

January 27, 2014
by tastybelly

How to eat Philly

There are many different reasons to travel.  Sometimes you go for a great museum, or to see a show, and sometimes you go to to hang out with friends and eat and drink ALL THE THINGS.  My trip to Philadelphia was exactly that.

The trip started with a delightful train ride confirming that the train is officially the most civilized way to travel.  You can have a hot meal at the station, walk onto your train, and a few hours later walk off in a brand new city.  Plus train stations are just beautiful cathedrals to travel.


After arriving we hit up free happy hour at the hotel, and were pleasantly surprised when the bartender was able to make us the official girls weekend drink, dirty shirleys.  While they may be pink they are mostly vodka.  They also lead you to making friends with lovely couples who clearly snuck into the hotel for free drinks, but really who can blame them.

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The rain kept us from going too far from the hotel for dinner but we did manage to find an inviting little spot, Mace’s Crossing, where they wisely put us in a private room upstairs, with our own fireplace and easy access to the chef for questions and to a fabulous waitress who kept our glasses full.  I had some of the best fish and chips I have had in a long time, with a crisp and flavorful batter and gorgeous flaky fish inside.

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For brunch we went to what may be my favorite brunch place ever, Sabrina’s.  Despite the extra 45 minute wait as some folks would not give up their table despite the long line waiting, it was about as delightful as brunch can be.  Since it was a BYOB place we brought our own champagne and vodka and the world’s greatest waitress Courtney kept us well stocked with orange and spicy tomato juice.  The food was equally outstanding, spicy huevos rancheros, to a sweet, stuffed french toast, to a breakfast sandwich on crack.  Like the previous night we made friends with the table next to us and they joined us for the rest of the meal.

cups                                                                              brunch requires a LOT of cups                  

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Courtney aka the world’s greatest waitress

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After a short break in consumption we found ourselves at Monk’s for mussels, frites and a quick beer.  I consider myself to be a mussels purist, preferring a simple broth of white wine, lemons, and garlic to cook my shellfish in.  Monk’s used a base of beer and fish broth which I did not particularly enjoy.  However the frites and aioli they were served with were a thing of beauty.  Perfectly crispy shoestring fries, not oily, not too hot, and the aoili was flavorful and light.

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On our way to the train station we popped into Continental for a quick retro cocktail and a photo shoot on couch thingys shaped like gummy candies.


After all of the eating and drinking I barely made it onto the train before sleeping the whole way home.

January 12, 2014
by tastybelly

Get your veggie on, part deux

In my continuing veggie cook-off I turned to Joe Yonan’s super sweet vegetable (but not vegetarian) cookbook to see what deliciousness I could find.  Then I stumbled across his recipe for a warm curried broccoli salad, and thus began my love affair with broccoli cooked under the broiler.  When you use the broiler your broccoli get gorgeous color and flavor, but still keeps its crunch which is sometimes hard to do when roasting.  Just like when you roast broccoli you do have to serve it fast in order to keep it warm, but with this recipe the cooked Israeli couscous and other veggies keep the dish warm.


I served the salad over a grilled portabello cap which I marinated in red wine.  The nice thing about the mushroom cap is that you can start marinating it while you chop your veggies and prep everything, and then throw them on the grill pan as you start cooking the couscous and it is all ready at the same time .  The other delicious part about using the mushroom caps is that they bring a level of substance to the meal, that does not replace meat, but still gives you a warm and filling meal.


January 6, 2014
by tastybelly

Get your veggie on

While the holidays were absolutely delightful, they were pretty meat heavy, which when combined with single digit weather makes it rather difficult to get out of my warm bed with the brand new sparkly sheets and 12 pounds of fuzzy kitten. DSC_0048

you want to cuddle with me, right???

To perk myself up I continued my soup making, but this time had the time, and frozen chicken stock, to make a homemade one.  The beauty of a veggie soup is that you can throw in whatever you have, and as long as you season it well it will be absolutely delicious.  The other great thing about soup is that you can add pantry items that having been hanging around and make them super delicious. DSC_0030 I started by chopping up an onion, and all the leftover zucchini, orange peppers, carrots, and celery from New Year’s Eve.  I seasoned the veggies with a little salt and a bunch if pepper, I wanted to keep as much of the flavors of veggies as I could and just pump them up a little.  Then while the veggies were sautéing in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot I thawed four cups of chicken stock.  To that I added a 14oz can of tomatoes and 14oz of leftover white wine.  While that boiled I partially cooked (6 minutes or so) a package of dried tortellini (no idea where they came from but in the pantry they were).  Once they were ready I added them, and a can of garbanzo beans and lunch was ready. DSC_0035 The best part was having leftover to take to work for the next two days.  While having to go to work when its freezing is slightly soul destroying knowing I would have a warm and delicious lunch somehow made it all doable.

January 2, 2014
by tastybelly

One more time for the cheap seats

Happy 2014 friends!

While I don’t usually make specific resolutions, this year I do  want to make a broad one and then each day I will figure out what my resolution means in the context of the day and its events.  This year I am going to do more of things that make me happy and stop feeling bad about not doing things that make me unhappy.

Today’s interpretation of my resolution was to cook more.  I have been so busy lately that I have not been cooking because I didn’t have time to do it exactly the way I envisioned it in my head.  Which was kinda dumb.  Cooking makes me happy, the simple act of chopping and sauteing has a soothing effect on me.  Making a meal that is delicious and tastes the way I want that I can then share with the hubs, or with friends is kind of the best part of my day.

Today I wanted soup, but was starving and didn’t have the time to make it from the stock up.  So I took a box of Trader Joe’s Creamy Tomato soup and made it my own.  I started with three cloves of garlic and 3 tablespoons of crushed red pepper which I sautéed in olive oil, then after adding the soup to the pot I poured in about half a glass of white wine and brought the whole thing to a boil.  The wine and garlic gave the box soup a rich flavor which made it taste like it took me hours when it took about 20 minutes.

By using box soup as my base I had time to make an amazing lunch, do three loads of laundry, run errands, AND take a time.  I think I am winning 2014 so far!


December 16, 2013
by tastybelly


Apparently there are 15 days left in 2013.  15.  Days.  Ho-ly crap.


2013 was a bit of a total and complete shit show so I have high hopes that 2014 will get its act together and stop screwing with me and all of my people.  Part of the 2013 shit show includes a lack of time to see friends and hang out, so to rectify that we are throwing a party.  In order to pull it off and not serve warm soda and crackers I have to come up with a simple menu that can either be done before hand or can be set up super quick between getting home from work and everyone arriving.

A few recipes for the party I am swiping from my mom.  The first is the greatest hot artichoke dip ever, you can either serve it with bread or carrot and celery sticks, sweetness of the veggies pairs really well with the spice from the green chilies in the dip.

Another super simple recipe I am going to make/have the hubs make while I change into something sparkly, is roasted shrimp.  All you have to do is toss the shrimp in a bowl with olive oil and Old Bay seasoning, till they are totally covered.  Then roasted them at 400 degrees for 8ish minutes and serve with cocktail sauce.  BTW, cocktail sauce can be made to taste with ketchup and horseradish, you’re welcome.

To round out the menu I am going to get some fresh and delicious guacamole from the nice folks at Trader Joe’s and probably make some espresso brownies.

Beverage wise I am going to make a prosecco punch and then put out lots of mixers so people can help clean out the liquor cabinet!  The punch I invented at Thanksgiving, you mix 1 part unsweetened cranberry juice with the zest and juice of one orange and a handful of pomegranate seeds with 2 parts prosecco.

Also, just a heads up, you can order party supplies from Amazon and they will deliver them right to you!

Hopefully this party will help usher out an annoying year and in a better one, and in the mean time we can drink and wear some fake mustaches!!


November 18, 2013
by tastybelly

I’m back baby dolls!

Well, I am sort of back.  Sorry for the absence, but adjusting to a new schedule that is so radically different from my previous schedule has been totally exhausting.  Combined with the crazy weather and an on-again off-again cold I have been going to work, coming home to cuddle with my blonde boys, and then sleeping and doing it all again.  Which is kind of good and kind of makes me feel like a bum, so its time to unbum my life.

Part of the work craziness is that I have been working much later hours, getting home after ten and at that hour you don’t want to cook but rather want food to be ready NOW.  While the hubs is excellent at whipping up something delicious I still love to cook so my crockpot has become my new best friend.

Stews are always a good idea because you can use whatever protein you want and seasonal vegetables, a bit of stock/wine and spices and you have deliciousness ready to go.  Stew can be served over pasta, or mashed potatoes, or even on their own in a bowl.  To be honest, and I know this won’t shock you, I make it up as I go along, if you need some recipes to follow or cannibalize try these;

beef stew

moroccan veggie stew

veggie chili with sweet potatoes (i love me some sweet potatoes)

Shredded meat is also a delicious way to go, since you can do so many different things with it to make one crock pot full and have it last you a few meals.  I made Martha’s slow cooker buffalo chicken, which was delicious but rather light on the buffaloness.  For dinner we ate it as lettuce wraps with more buffalo sauce and blue cheese on top, for lunch the next day it was dressed up as tacos with corn tortillas from the freezer and some grated cheese.  The rest was turned into a quick chili with the addition of frozen corn, black beans (again from the freezer), and another sprinkle of cheese.

Forgive me for the lack of pictures this post, I will work on adding more pictures next week, baby steps back to fully functional adulthood!