recipe / simple wonton soup

since i had jay i am all about making the easiest dinners possible. trader joe's has been key in keeping things simple. i have come up with lots of delicious and easy recipes using their ingredients. last week i had a strange craving for wonton soup. after some pinterest searching, i found a few recipes and combined the things that i thought would be good. this dinner was super easy and took about 15 minutes (most of which was just cooking vegetables).


simple wonton soup:

-1 package trader joe's frozen chicken gyoza (or whichever gyoza or wontons you prefer).

-1 container of trader joe's celery, carrots and onions (it all comes pre-chopped especially for making soups!) (i think it's a cup of each if you're crazy and want to cut everything yourself)

-handful of sugar snap peas (i cut the ends off mine and cut them in half)

-8 cups chicken broth (trader joe's has little gooey packets of broth mix that you just add to water)

-3 tablespoons soy sauce

-2 teaspoons sesame oil (this stuff is expensive so if you don't already have it you might just want to skip it!)

-2 teaspoons minced/crushed garlic

-1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha


first: make the broth by combining the chicken broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and sriracha

second: once you have everything combined, add in the celery, onions and carrots. simmer until cooked- it took 10-15 minutes for mine. add in the sugar snap peas when the veggies are almost all the way cooked. i made the mistake of adding mine too early so they got mushy. i like them to keep their snap.

third: once everything else is done add the frozen gyoza and simmer for 2 more minutes. take the soup off heat.

fourth: devour.

recipe review / part 1

as i've mentioned before- i've been cooking a lot lately. which mean i've been trying lots of new recipes, most of which have been found on other blogs. some are absolutely to die for, some i wouldn't make again. all i didn't follow to the t- i generally make twists or leave things out/ add things. in an attempt to help you choose which recipes to try, and which ones to not i'm going to review these recipes and let you know how they turned out. i'm going to be totally honest- and hope i don't offend any of the originators of these recipes. i am not the best cook in the world so some of my failures are probably completely my fault.

1. spicy pork tacos with peach salsa (from dinner: a love story)


we make tacos at least once a week. generally they are chicken fajita tacos- always delicious. these pork tacos were a nice break from our regular recipe. they were simply amazing. pork tenderloin is definitely one of my favorite meats so i may be a bit biased. i bought a pre-seasoned pork tenderloin from trader joe's (i think it was peppercorn garlic and was about $7 for one). i didn't have all of the seasonings for the dry rub included in the recipe, but i thought the marinated one was delish- i would definitely get it again (unlike most pre-marinated meats i've tried). i added fresh corn and avocado to the peach salsa. make these as soon as you can.

2. super easy no-boil mac and cheese (from alexandra cooks)


this was my first time making mac and cheese. earlier last week jarman told me he wanted me to try and cook without carbs for dinner. of course, the next day i had a major craving for mac and cheese (ultimate wife fail). i made this for lunch, and then we ate it for dinner too. it was pretty delicious. it was definitely the best fresh- i had leftover a couple of days later and wasn't feeling it as much. i used fontina rather than fresh mozzarella because that's what i had in the fridge. also, even though this say super easy in the title- it still takes quite a bit of time. a little more than this pregnant girl was looking to spend in the kitchen for an easy lunch.

3. broiled tarragon breasts (from alexandra cooks)


this is my new favorite way to cook chicken. it is super quick, super moist, and totally delicious. the only reason it got a nine out of 10 is because it uses an ingredient that i'm not totally proud of and would normally scorn. also, i don't have fresh tarragon so i just added dried and think it tastes just fine. i have already made this twice, and will be making it tons more in the future.

4. bulgolgi with cucumber apple pickle (aka korean tacos) (from alexandra cooks)


these tacos were to die for. i actually only used the cucumber-apple pickle from this recipe, but it inspired our new favorite steak tacos. we marinated a rib-eye in my parents' famous bulgolgi marinade, added the cucumber apple pickle and some sriracha on top of corn tortillas. seriously- make these asap. 

5. cream of tomato basil soup (from chasing delicious)


this was my first time making tomato soup. i think my first problem was that i expected it to turn out like nordstrom's tomato soup (which is my absolute weakness). this recipe used fresh heirloom tomatoes which you pureed before you add them. it had too much broth and not enough cream. i think it needed to be re-blended after everything had cooked together- the texture was less than appetizing. i just wanted it to be overall creamier. so add much less broth and more cream. (i even tried adding a little cream cheese and parmesan to thicken it up a bit). the flavor was actually fine. it just needs quite a few tweaks.

giveaway / dinner: the playbook

so i talked a little bit about this cookbook in this post, and am so excited to be able to give one away to one of you awesome readers! dinner: the playbook teaches you how to master the art of the family meal, which we all know is not easy. jenny rosenstrach gives a play by play guide on how to create a consistent family dinner, and get out of the rut of eating out too much or not knowing what to cook. she challenges you to cook every day for 30 days (minus one weekend night out as a reward), a feat that i would have never accepted as achievable, but jarman and i are nearly halfway through it. there are tons of delicious and simple recipes included- i'm slowly working my way through them! my favorite so far has been chicken and artichokes in creamy mustard sauce. it was to die for, and took less than 20 minutes in one single pan. piece of cake.

so you totally want to win one of these cookbooks right? just leave a comment below telling me your favorite weekday dish to make (be sure to include your email), and you could be the lucky winner! you have until friday sept 5th!

entertaining / easy tablesetting for a crowd


though we love creating elaborate tablesettings (see here, here and here), often we don't eat at perfectly set tables like that. also, we usually have way more people than our dining room table can handle- we have lots of family and friends with big families. most of the time our tables look something like this when we have guests over. we use our big kitchen table that seats twelve, and keep our normal centerpiece on the table which is low enough to talk over, and small enough to fit the food on the table (we are all about family style).


for this table we used our ikea runners (we got our on sale for $1.99 each). we have 8 of them so we put two across four times. down the center we have a chevron table cloth that was made for my cousin's wedding. we used basic white square plates and my favorite little grey plates. instead of doing cloth napkins we used paper ones (also from ikea!). we brought in my world market dining room chairs and combined them with my mom's wood chairs.


since we are already sharing easy tablesetting, why not share one of the easiest and most delicious appetizers that we frequently serve.


cheater bruschetta:

this appetizer is super easy to throw together last second before your guests come over- plus it has almost all of my favorite foods. all you do is toast some bread (we usually use the rosemary bread from costco). spread some pesto on top, then placed sliced fresh mozzarella (which we also get from costco) and tomatoes. top with freshly shredded parmesean, salt and pepper. then let guests pour balsamic vinegar over their individual servings- if your pour it for everyone they get a little soggy. eat up!


recipe / chicken bellagio


have you ever ordered the chicken bellagio from cheesecake factory? i promise you it is the best thing on the menu. we get it every single time we go, and never feel bad about it because it is just that delicious. sure, we could branch out and try new things. but why would we when we have found the perfect dish? my mom started making a knock-off of the cheesecake factory recipe, and i'm pretty sure it's just as good. please make it for your husband for dinner.

chicken bellagio:

for the chicken:

2 chicken breasts pounded into 1/2 in. thickness (or chicken tenders)

1/2 c. flour with salt and pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 c. panko breadcrumbs (or regular breadcrumbs with seasoning)

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. butter

4 slices prosciutto (room temp)

5 oz. arugula dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper

for the pasta:

8 oz. thin spaghetti

3 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. flour

2 c. heavy cream

1 c. parmesan cheese

1/2 c. pesto (we get ours from costco)

take your chicken and dredge it in flour, then egg wash, and finally the breadcrumbs, patting the breadcrumbs to make a nice coating. saute in a pan with butter and olive oil  for about 10 to 15 minutes until cooked thoroughly (you can add seasoned salt, garlic salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you would like). keep the chicken warm in a dish in the oven on low.

cook the pasta till al dente and while that is cooking make the pesto cream sauce. melt the butter in a pan and add the flour to make a roux. whisk while adding the cream and let it thicken for a few minutes. add the parmesan, and when it is melted add the pesto.  toss the cooked pasta in the sauce.

to assemble:

mound the pasta on the plate with sauce. place a piece of chicken on top of the pasta, and prosciutto on top of the chicken. add a handful of the tossed arugula (see above) on top of the dish. sprinkle fresh parmesan over everything.