Thursday, July 7, 2022

Easiest Chicken and Broccoli Lasagna


This post is inspired by a photo posted on one of my longtime friend's feed, one that he had stumbled upon himself.  I happened to be scrolling, the dish caught my eye and I knew preparing it for my family, was in our near future.  It looked delicious.  There was a recipe posted, but I found it to be lacking and vague in some areas.  I decided to write my own.  The dish came out wonderfully and the teens approved, which helped it make the cut of recipes I can enjoy sharing with you. 
Dishes like this one are good for saving money, without compromising on quality and flavors.  With inflation at a 40 year high, making the most of simple ingredients can really save the day.  I hope your crew enjoys this take on Chicken and Broccoli Lasagna as much as my brood and I did!

12 oz. Oven ready Lasagna Noodles
4 c. fresh, (trimmed and cut in half) or frozen broccoli florets, thawed, rinsed (if fresh, steamed over boiling salted water for 5 minutes, covered, then shocked in cold water and drained)
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chilled and cut into small cubes or pieces and brined*
4 Tbs. Parmesan, Garlic and Basil Seasoned butter, plus 4 tbs. Butter, Salted or Unsalted ( I used Great Value brand from Walmart)
2/3 c. green onion, thinly sliced, white and green parts
1/3 c. Vidalia onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 pinch nutmeg, optional
2 sprigs dried thyme or 1 tsp. of ground version
1 tsp. onion powder
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, rough chopped
1 c. low sodium chicken stock
1 c. 2 % milk
2/3 c. heavy cream
2 Tbs. AP flour
2/3 c. Ricotta Cheese
4 c. Italian blend shredded cheese or to taste
Olive Oil for drizzling
SPST ( Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

Preheat oven to 375*. 
In a large medium to large pan over medium high heat, melt butters and add a turn of the pan of olive oil.
Add onions cook, stirring often, until fragrant and translucent, about 6 minutes.
Add chicken, garlic, thyme sprigs and SPST.
Cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium.
Sprinkle in flour and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove stalks of thyme.
Add chicken stock and bring up to a boil to thicken the stock and begin the base for the sauce, all in one pan.  
Over medium heat, stir in milk, blend well, then add cream and nutmeg.
Simmer for several minutes to marry the flavors, about 5 minutes.
Add parsley, pepper flakes and onion powder, stir.
Stir in Ricotta and fold in broccoli and 1 c. Italian cheese blend.
Turn off heat source.
In a large casserole or baking dish 11x13 or close to it, drizzle with olive oil and coat bottom and sides or cooking spray.
Start with about 1 1/2 cup of filling, spread across bottom of dish to anchor the first set of lasagna noodles.
Sprinkle with a scant amount of cheese and overlap noodles across filling, using 5 to 6.
Add more scant cheese and add about 1/3 of remaining filling.
Spread accordingly and sprinkle light cheese.
Add 5 to 6 more lasagna noodles, overlapping as needed.
Repeat layering again, then ending with filling on top with no noodle covering.
Add remaining cheese and drizzle with olive oil.
Cover tightly with foil and bake until lasagna noodles are tender, about 45 minutes.
Remove covering and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until golden. 
Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving, now is a good time to throw the store bought garlic bread in the oven!
Makes 10 to 12 servings+
Serve Shaved or grated Parmesan Cheese on the side, (truffle oil is good too)

*I like to brine my chicken before using in recipes, but that is at your personal discretion, it certainly enhances the moisture levels and flavor, plus tenderizes in a wonderful way.
To brine, simply add the cubed chicken to a bowl, fill with enough salt water 3 Tbs. to cover by 2x and let stand for about 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, drain and rinse several times under cold running water, drain, pat dry and it's ready to go.  Don't worry, the chicken won't soak up a lot of saltiness, most is washed and drained away. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Mizumi: Japanese Bistro, Mm Mm Mmm

Tonkatsu Ramen  Bowl, Mizumi

Address:1125 Main St,
Lynchburg, VA 24504

This place is AHmazing.  We can't wait to go back.  Words cannot truly describe the experience, you really have to see for yourself.  We attended the premiere
 of Jurassic Park: Dominion at Regal Cinemas in River Ridge Mall, which was most delightful,  followed by our 'Cherry on Top' dinner at this fabulous bistro, with a wealth of unique and sapid dishes.

Hibachi Steak and Vegetables, Mizumi

Chicken Karaage Curry, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

Gyoza Dumplings, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

Pork Belly Buns, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

Amber Mango Milk Teas, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

Chicken Karaage Curry, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

 Gyoza Dumplings, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

 The staff is cordial and inviting. Shoutout to some great service and proficient kitchen staff.

Experience the bright, rich, fresh and charmingly complex flavor profiles of Mizumi Japanese Bistro, you will certainly be blown away and endrenched with WOW! 

Casserole Cassanova: Easy Cheesy Turkey and Stuffing Bake

Cheesy Turkey and Stuffing Bake

I appreciate finding ways to save a buck or two and this recipe is one that can deliver.  I came up with this on a basic night, where I didn't have a plan and let the available ingredients lead.  I ran across some ground turkey in the supemarket's frozen section for only $2 per l lb. roll.  With some other on hand ingredients, this dish became a quick hit and scored two thumbs up from my crew. 
Prep is easy and the reward of satisfied tummies puts my mind at ease and leaves more money for all the other skyrocketing prices.  Everyone, no matter what walk of life, likes to save money and this recipe fits the bill.  Check out your local grocers' frozen meats department sometime, you may be surprised what deals lie in wait.  
I recently gifted myself with another induction tool, equipped with a steamer and even a partial pressure cooker mode, serving the purposes including Wok, steamer, deep fry, light pressure, boil, decoction, hotpot, stir fry, the whole nine yards, it's put out by a company called Tiborang and comes in some pretty cool colors!  It has become a star in my kitchen already.  In case you were wondering, Decoction is the process of extracting essence, flavor and nutrients from herbs and such, usually by means of boiling and has been around for thousands of years in Chinese Culture.  You can check out the official website by scanning the QR code below, Love is definitely in the air with this welcome addition to your kitchen accessories lineup!

The following recipe is along the Southern Comforts line and I actually used this awesome pan for baking as well.  I would highly recommend covering the handle with foil to prevent any overt heat damage to its gorgeous paint job, by way of blistering or discoloration.  Additionally, the handle can be easily removed to eliminate that issue completely, especially if you use dual methods of cooking in one meal.


2 lb. ground turkey breakfast sausage
1 medium onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
3 oz. sliced pepperoni, julienned
3 c. herb stuffing
1 14 oz. can sliced carrots, drained
1 tsp. Mushroom Soy Sauce or to taste
1 pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
1/4 c. fresh parsley, rough chopped
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
2 c. shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend
Olive Oil for drizzling
SPST ( Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

Preheat oven to 375*F.
Starting with the pepperoni, render and brown over medium high heat, about 5 minutes.
Add the onion and garlic and cook until onions are transluecent and softened, about 7 minutes.
Add the turkey sausage and brown, about 8 minutes.
Once the turkey is browned and cooked through, drain of excess oil.
Once back in the pan, add chicken broth and bring up to a boil for several minutes.
Add mushroom soy and red pepper flakes and stir.
Add half of the herb stuffing and bring back up to a boil. 
Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
Fold in carrots and parsley and stir until evenly distributed.
The mixture will appear almost soupy, but this is fine, the stuffing will absorb the remaining moisture during baking.
Remove from heat and sprinkle the top of turkey mixture with the remaining stuffing cubes and then the cheese blend.
Bake in oven covered for about 20 to 25 minutes, give or take, until cheese is melted.
Remove top or covering from cooking vessel.
Turn on broiler to high and brown top for a fabulous finish.  
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes about 10 servings.


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Humble Pies

 Ever wonder how Mickey D's get their apple pies so crispity and bumpy on the outside? I think I can help you with that.  The extra texture on the outside is created by dipping the turnover or pie in water before frying.  Of course, make sure there is no excess and maybe even use a spray bottle, so you won't super saturate the crust and/or cause a dangerous interaction between the oil and water.  Make no mistake, Oil and Water do not mix, especially when it comes to flash/deep frying. 
NEVER try to put out a grease fire with water, EVER.  Use a dry substance like baking soda or salt for flare ups involving oils , to starve the flame of a necessary element, Oxygen.  Under these circumstances, the minimal amount of moisture on the outside of the pie will have an immediate reaction with oil, but will dissipate as quickly as it ensues.  Safety first and you too can get the textured crunch to your turnovers and hand pies, your tasters will want to know your secret, but It's okay if you save it for yourself.  You're Welcome! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Sandwich Purses

Sandwich Purse with Italian Meats made with  a Tomato Basil Wrap

Making a "Sandwich Purse" can be as easy as one, two, three using giant sized tortilla wraps,especially the  Tomato Basil version, your favorite sandwich fillings, cheeses and an 8 inch, nonstick pan.  I came up with these delectable and satisfying gems, feeling the need to make sure I utilized my wraps while they were still super fresh.  I found these at our new Chef's Store, which recently opened in Lynchburg, a good 25 minute drive from our home.  I'd been super excited about its opening and this was my first visit.
  I was like a kid in a candy store, with all the variety, the massive vegetable cooler and the equally massive meats cooler, tremendous array of fresh frozen food items, plus thousands of square footage of just about any and everything a chef, restaurant, homecook, snack shop, foodie or gourmand could appreciate.  I loved it!! I walked away with two new sheet pans, Champagne vinegar, a  5 pound bag of Cavatappi Pasta, 5 pounds of Pepper Jack Cheese cubes,  English cucumbers, plus, flour tortillas for burritos, grapes and Pita Bread! Mind you, this was just in the 15 minutes before closing time, which is 6 p.m.  The prices were within my very reasonable range and the ingredients are interchangable, so it was quite a deal at around 40 bucks.  
Sandwich Purses can be made with breakfast, lunch and dinner items and the technique is the same for whichever theme you desire, cooking necessary ingredients before adding is the main key.  
The top featured photo contains deli sliced Italian meats and two cheeses, with a sprinkle of Candied Cranberries and Pecans, the ones used in salads, for added tartness and tanginess with a subtle, sweet, nutty crunch and fresh chunks of tomato.  
Large Tomato Basil Wraps
Your favorite ingredients, if raw, cooked
Your favorite cheeses, 2 kinds is ideal, one type shredded
Butter, Margarine, EVOO or Nonstick Spray
Fresh Veggies, cut small, placed on paper towels if too juicy
8 inch Nonstick Skillet
Place the skillet on heat source at medium.  Add a small portion about 1/2 tsp or Butter, Olive etc. Melt.
Fit Wrap into the pan and press into the shape of pan.
After about 1 minute or two, start with a slice of cheese, halved and placed on opposite sides.
Layer, starting with the proteins, loosely positioned.
Add desired veggies.
 Add remaining cheese slice, halved and place opposite first slices
With a rubber spatula, start pressing wrap down and towards the center of the pan.
Hold down folded down portion and with another tool, flip the Purse over, so that the folded seams are now on the bottom. 
Press down for several seconds, then allow Purse to brown for about 1 1/2 2 minutes.
Carefully remove from pan and onto cutting surface to halve or leave whole.  
Let stand for about 2 minutes before handling.
Purse will be hot.  
Make as many as needed and enjoy.

Sandwich Purse with Italian Meats, halved

Truff® Hot Sauce is a great addition for dipping your Sandwich Purses!

Bottom view of Sandwich Purse


Saturday, June 11, 2022

Boujee Blondies

I'm always on the prowl for culinary vices filled with wonderment and intrigue.  I love delicious things, especially when I am not up for the work of creating it myself.  I appreciate and shamelessly promote nutriment made and/or hand crafted by others, every chance I get.  I relish in sharing intel, when I am forturnate enough to experience flavors worth talking about.  With that being said, I was doing some reading of emails one day and saw a reference to a place called the Blondery.  I was immediately enthralled and followed the links to a real treasure,  a "limited release virtual bakery" with the most toothsome and scrumptious blondies, which if you are uncertain, are a cross between a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie!  Yum and Yum.  
The creator of this Boujee Bliss is a woman by  the name of Auzerais Bellamy, an African American woman with the Midas Touch when it comes to flavor profiles.  She uses only the finest ingredients in her baking, with no additives or preservatives, a mensch when it comes to Pastries, professionally trained and acclaimed by the Bouchon Bakery, too many accolades to mention.  She has been perfecting her signature flavors for over ten years and just shines with her inception of Pecan and Salted Caramel Blondies, which are absolutely AHMAZING!! 
The Blondery website is always bustling, there's a waiting list and even has a timer displayed to mark the countdown to the magic making, which is on Sundays. Certain items are usually always sold out, but she does have a certain combination that is always available.   I ordered the 'always available' sample package, featuring four of the many seasonal flavors.  There are a total of 8 flavors offered, as well as individual "cake in a jar" and whole cakes!  
The Blondies are sent to your desired destination, protected by a bevy of protective items, including bubble wrap, an ice pack, shrink wrap and some packing paper.  Snug as a bug in a rug, your items arrive fresh and gorgeous.  I was so enthralled with the delivery, which I happened to catch the UPS guy, right as I was leaving my driveway.  I had engagements, but as I drove away and towards my destination, I could not stop thinking about what I would find in the much anticipated package, riding shotgun with me, beckoning me to see if what I ordered was worth the wait.  
Surprise! The Blondery box is elegant.
Looks like a present, oh wait, it is!

My curiosity got the best of me after maybe 8 miles and luckily I was afforded the opportunity to unwrap my present to self, a luxurious and decadent Pandora's Box of Sexiness, beautifully packaged, sleek, elegant and dignified.  I felt special.  I felt "Bad and Boujee". I felt empowered and honored as well.  I would be tasting a creation of an acclaimed Pastry Chef, from Brooklyn, down here in my little ole' town in Virginia.  I felt the Pride in knowing that she is brown, like me, following her dream, as I am pursuing my own, reassured that I too can potentially rise to such heights in my profession, the world is my 'Blondie.'  I'd love to meet her, alas I digress.  I sneaked a peek and quickly put the pristine little gift box back in its packaging.  I would wait until my girls finished with school and practice, so we could experience them together, for the first time.  They met and exceeded my expectations, so much so, that I am sharing this with you. 
You can check out Auzerais Bellamy's captivating and motivating story on the Blondery website ( and also on the Blondery Meta page, or simply scan the QR code below to visit the website!  While you're at it, grab a piece of the future, something you can taste and become a part of this unforgettable culinary revolution! 

The Blondery "Birthday Cake Box"

Blondery offers 8 seasonal flavors!

Beautiful and ample packaging for aestetic and shipping


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Oregon Berry, Right in your Own Backyard: Berry Useful

I did some research on some of the plants and bushes around our property out of curiosity and also for awareness of surrounding and indigenous plants.  This particular bush caught my attention for several reasons. 

I have identified a Mahonia aquifolium (Holly Leaved Barberry), aka Oregon Grape shrub in the yard, prized by the Natives for hundreds of years for its Medicinal properties. 

Pacific Northwestern Natives used the roots of the Berberis Mahonia for treatment of various ailments including but not limited to hemorrhages, tuberculosis, stomach issues and arthritis! It's quite a wonder to realize something so versatile and useful can literally be found right outside your door.

Its been a 'decorative bush' bordering the sidewalk for decades it seems.   When my sister called it a Holly Bush, I needed to educate myself on the subject, to support my opinion that it was NOT a Holly. Before reading into it, the best I had was the fact that the berries were not red, nor would they turn red at any point, but I did agree that the leaves were like that of  a Holly. She has the same name only spelled differently, so I really needed to have my facts straight, because all this time, she thought she and the shrub were one in the same.   

When I was satisfied with my identification steps, I tried one of those berries and even got her to try one.  It wasn't as bad as I'd read, though we both had to visit the bathroom very shortly after consumption.  Otherwise, all went well.  The gastro episode falls in line with its properties, as far as being a detox and a bevy of other attributes.  I plan to harvest some of the bark and also make a tincture! The birds have had a splendid time, so the pickings for the berries are slim.  I'm glad I am now equipped with more knowledge for the next time around. 

One of the most striking properties involves the color of the interior wood of the branches. It is a brilliant yellow color.

Just under the bark of a Mahonia Aquifolium, a brilliant yellow is present

Yellow interior of the branches of Mahonia Aquifolium or Oregon Berry Bush