killing time between meals

where talking about what's for dinner while you're at lunch is totally acceptable

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White Chicken Chili

white chicken chili

A friend at the office shared this insanely simple soup with me, and I haven’t stopped making it since. With only 5 ingredients and 20 minutes of cooking time, it’s a go-to meal at my house. You will not believe how the salsa verde provides layers and layers of flavor. I don’t even add salt! Great for groups, a fast supper, or to make ahead and take for lunch.

White Chicken Chili
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Serves 6

6 cups chicken stock (Homemade if you have it. If not, use 1½ boxes of this.)
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded (I buy a rotisserie chicken for this.)
2 (15 oz) cans Great Northern white beans, rinsed and drained
1 huge (24 oz.) jar salsa verde (I use Herdez.)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Nonnegotiable toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, chopped green onions, diced avocado
Negotiable toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, a fresh squeeze of lime

  • Heat chicken stock in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Add shredded chicken, beans, salsa verde, and cumin. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15-30 minutes.
  • Just before serving, add copious amounts of chopped cilantro, green onions, and avocado.



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Chicken Cherry Quinoa Salad

My new goal in life is lunch. Well, taking my lunch to work, more specifically. There are a few roadblocks to this situation. 1. I get bored. 2. It needs protein. 3. It’s also great if Nate will eat it. 4. It can’t be complicated. The past few weeks I’ve been making something easy on Sunday night that I can take throughout the week. And it’s working!

Inspired by a menu item at FirstWatch, this salad has become a lunchtime staple. It’s great served warm, cold, or room temperature too.


Chicken Cherry Quinoa Salad
Serves 4

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken stock or water
2 zucchini, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper
½ cup dried cherries
1 rotisserie chicken, breasts removed and cut into large pieces
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup sliced almonds
2 oz. herbed goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing (or more to taste)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a rice cooker (or device of your choice), cook the quinoa in the chicken stock (or water).
  • Toss the diced zucchini with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven until golden brown.
  • When quinoa is cooked, pour into a large bowl and allow to cool a few minutes.
  • Meanwhile, remove breasts from rotisserie chicken and cut into large bite-sized pieces.
  • Add cooked zucchini, dried cherries, chicken, parsley, and almonds to quinoa. Stir to combine.
  • Gently stir in goat cheese.
  • Add dressing and stir to coat. Taste for seasoning. Add more dressing if desired.


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Fall Overnight Oats

Sometimes I have trouble with breakfast. Between hitting snooze, corralling dogs, gathering gym clothes, and the rest of the morning routine, I can’t always find time for the most important meal of the day. And sadly, that usually ends in a dry, chewy protein bar. But since discovering overnight oats, my mornings are much happier! This protein-packed, make-ahead breakfast is so easy and filling. There are lots of different ways you can dress up overnight oats, but this is my favorite so far.


Fall Overnight Oats
Adapted from Dashing Dish
Serves 3

¾ cup almond milk
½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1 carrot, grated
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 cup oats (quick or old fashioned)
1 tablespoon chia seeds

  • In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Divide between three 1-cup bowls or mason jars.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight. The oats will soften and absorb the liquid.
  • Enjoy as is, add toppings such as nuts, or heat and serve warm.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Aza

la and aza

My favorite 5-year-old neighbor came over to make cookies last night. And, bonus, she wanted to make my favorite kind—oatmeal chocolate chip without nuts! I’d never made these before, but this simple recipe turned out just right. The cookies were thick and chewy in the middle but golden and crisp on the edges. Yum.

cookie close up

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 2½ dozen cookies

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
  • Using a mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and then the vanilla.
  • Stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon or a spatula, then stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
  • Using 2 tablespoons per cookie, roll the dough into balls and evenly space them on the cookie sheet. Bake until the cookie edges are just golden brown, but the middles are still pale, about 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

We had a blast! After the cookies came out of the oven, we ate them while we watched Brave. And we already have a plan for our next baking night—brownies.


Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup + Stock


A few weeks ago, I went to Cincinnati with my people to hang out and run a 5k.


The run wasn’t so bad, but come Saturday evening I was sick. So sick, in fact, that I could not eat dinner. Which was a travesty, really, because I had to watch my friends enjoy massive, juicy burgers and hot dogs at Cincy hotspot Senate while I sipped ginger ale. Yes, major bummer.

For the next several days, the only thing that sounded edible was homemade chicken noodle soup. So I made some. This recipe is easy enough for a sick person to manage on her own. And it is everything you could ever want when you are under the weather.


Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 6

2 quarts homemade chicken stock or low sodium stock in a box (not broth)
3 to 4 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cups wide egg noodles
1 rotisserie chicken
¼ cup flat leaf parsley
Salt & pepper

  • Bring chicken stock to a simmer. Add carrots and celery and return to a simmer. Add egg noodles. Simmer 10 minutes or until noodles are cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, pick all the meat off your rotisserie chicken and chop the parsley. Seal the chicken bones in an air-tight bag, and place in the freezer.
  • Add chicken and parsley to soup and warm through. Serve with Premium saltine crackers and ginger ale on ice.


Now, let’s make stock! It’s so easy. I buy a rotisserie chicken about once a week, so I save the bones and make stock one night while I’m vegging out at home. I usually have all the other ingredients on hand, and if I don’t, I just use what I have. No big whoop.

Homemade Chicken Stock
Makes 3-4 quarts

2 rotisserie chicken carcasses
2 onions, quartered
3 carrots, cut in thirds
3 stalks celery, cut in thirds
1 head garlic, halved lengthwise
1 bunch of parsley
1 tablespoon dried thyme (or fresh if you have it)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

  • Throw everything into a large stockpot. Fill pot with water (4 to 6 quarts). Simmer 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Do not boil.
  • Strain and discard the solids. I used a two-part straining system. First, using a large class measuring cup with a spout, pour the stuff through a colander. Press solids with a wooden spoon, squeezing out all the stock. This gets rid of most of the solids. I then carefully pour that through a fine mesh strainer into quart containers. Think this process through for yourself before you begin. This is nothing sadder than watching the liquid gold you have cooked for four hours spill on the counter.
  • Pour into 1 quart containers and place in the fridge overnight. The next day, skim the layer of fat from the top of each container. Use or freeze right away.




Beef Stew & Shepherd’s Pie

bowl o stew

St. Paddy’s Day may be a few days behind us, but there’s still a windy chill in the air. While today is the first day of spring, you can still say an official farewell to winter with some hearty beef stew and/or shepherd’s pie. If you know any men wearing flannel shirts and sporting thick beards, I advise you to invite them over. They will love you and eat up all the hearty food on your table.

Beef Stew
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds beef stew meat
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can or bottle of beer
4 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon paprika
1½ teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 new potatoes, quartered
4 carrots, unpeeled & sliced into chunks
¼ cup minced parsley
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in Dutch oven over meduim-high heat. Brown the beef on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove meat from the pot and set aside.
  • Place chopped onion in pot and stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Stir in beer, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, paprika, sugar, salt, and pepper. Return beef to pot, cover and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours.
  • Add potatoes and carrots. Cover and cook another 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Serve in deep bowls. Sprinkle with minced parsley.
pot o stew
Now, that was good. But shepherd’s pie is even better.
Shepherd’s Pie
Leftover beef stew
2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tablespoons butter (or more or less to taste)
½ cup milk or half-and-half (to taste and consistency preference)
Salt & pepper to taste
Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Peel and cut the potatoes into same-sized pieces, and add them to the water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes in a large colander; return them to the pot they cooked in, and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape.
  • Turn off the stove and add butter, milk, salt, and pepper. Mash to desired consistency and taste for seasoning.
  • Place leftover stew in a pan.
  • Lather a thick layer of mashed potatoes on top. Smooth with a spatula. Like so:

spread 2

  • Cover potatoes with grated cheese.
with cheese

  • Bake until the cheese is warm and brown.

hot cheese

shep close

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Symphony Brownies


Next week Kenny Loggins is playing three nights of shows at the Nashville Symphony. My sweetie and I will be soaking up the sounds of “I’m Alright” and “Danny’s Song” from the balcony. In honor of this special occasion, I give you the Symphony Brownie—a recipe from my friend Julie who is the queen of desserts. The basic brownie recipe is just right on its own, but the addition of Symphony candy bars really takes it over the top (say, past the back row of the balcony). Make these brownies before a road trip, after a baby is born, or when you need to say, “Thanks!” or “I’m sorry.”

Symphony Brownies
11 tablespoons butter
1¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoons salt
3 extra large (4.25 oz) Symphony bars with almonds & toffee
  • Preheat the oven to 325. Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan.
  • In heavy sauce pan, combine butter, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.

melt my butter

  • Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups of the chocolate chips until melted. Cool a bit, then add vanilla. I used the really good vanilla I got in Mexico.

mexican vanilla

  • In large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, then gradually add the chocolate mix, stirring with a wooden spoon until entirely mixed.
  • In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the remaining chocolate chips.


  • Finally, stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix well.

  • Spread half the brownie batter into the pan. Place the Symphony Bars side-by-side across the batter, and spread the other half of the batter on top.



  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until cooked through. Do not over bake!

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Fancy Beans & Greens

beans greens cook

Do you like beans and greens? Before you say bah-humbug, whip up a pot. Humble beans and lowly greens create the loveliest dish that can be enjoyed on its own, with a spicy sausage, or as a hearty side dish to accompany nearly any meat main. Last week I went a step further and put a fried egg on top. Some might say that adding a fried egg is a fleeting food fad, but I say it makes beans & greens swanky. The runny yolk adds a rich, creamy, golden layer of flavor.

Beans & Greens
Serves 2 to 3

Olive oil
1 bunch organic kale, destemmed and chopped
Salt & pepper
Fresh ground nutmeg (optional)
Red chili flakes (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup chicken stock
1 can white beans (great northern, cannellini), rinsed & drained

  • Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add kale, turning often until wilted. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, chili flakes, and garlic.
  • Deglaze the pan by adding some chicken stock. Pour in white beans. Add more chicken stock as desired. Simmer until warmed through.
  • Enjoy as is, with chicken sausage, or get fancy.

Get Fancy
Salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese

  • While beans & greens simmer, fry some eggs to over easy or over medium—whatever you prefer as long as the yolk is still runny. Sprinkle with salt & pepper as they cook.
    over medium
  • Serve on top of a pile of beans & greens with a side of toast. Or, if you happen to have thick, crusty bread, lying around, pile everything on top. Sprinkle with a generous amount of fresh grated Parmesan.

with egg

runny yolk

perfect bite


End of Summer Pork Tenderloin & Black-Eyed Pea Salad


I really believe that. Don’t you? So are cows and chickens. Buy this adorable letter press by Starshaped Press here.

Anyway, this fabulous and wildly easy supper has been my summer go-to meal. The entire thing takes less than 45 minutes, and you only dirty two dishes. That’s my kind of simple. Plus, you can double, triple, or quadruple the recipes without breaking a sweat. Like the time I made one for me, one for a friend who just had a baby, and one for my neighbor as a thank-you.

Since it’s all so simple, don’t skimp on the meat. That pig is the star of the show. I buy mine at Turnip Truck in the Gulch. They recently started carrying American Homestead Natural Pork. The tenderloin runs $12.99 a pound. If I don’t share I can get three or four meals out of one tenderloin. And it’s Hampshire pork. That’s like buying an heirloom tomato versus a grocery store tomato.


Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Adapted from Everyday Food


1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pork tenderloin (around a pound)
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

spice rub

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 can (15 ounces) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), finely diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper

salad fixins

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, make the spice rub. Combine paprika, thyme, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and set aside.
  • Place pork on a rimmed baking sheet and rub with oil. Sprinkle all over with spice mixture, patting in gently. Roast until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of meat registers 150 degrees (about 20 to 25 minutes). Let cool.


  • While the pork cooks, make the black-eyed pea salad. In the bottom of a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and oil. Add all vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, toss to combine, and taste for seasoning. If you like, place in refrigerator until pork is done.
  • Thinly slice pork and serve with an extra-large helping of black-eyed pea salad.

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A Few of My Favorite (Kitchen) Things

1. A new recipe. Confession #1: I easily get into cooking ruts. But last Saturday I unearthed an Everyday Food cookbook I hadn’t used in a while and decided to branch out. So I made this. (Scroll down for Lime-Marinated Flank Steak recipe.) sliced

2. This juicer. For only $20 you can have fresh squeezed citrus juice in seconds. Generally I am against buying appliances that are only good for one thing, but I am never sorry that I have this citrus juicer when I am making drinks or marinades. (Watch for sales. I swear I saw this thing at Kroger for $12.)

3. Microplanes. I have two. One for smaller zesting (lemon zest, garlic, ginger) and one for larger grating (hard cheeses, chocolate shavings). If you put one of these on your wedding registry, I WILL buy it for you. Heck, I might buy it for you anyway out of that tiny piece of goodness left in my heart.

4. Culinary treats from abroad. I purchased a cute jar of red pepper flakes while in Sorrento (which I didn’t know is known for their chili peppers) at Aromi di Sorrento, a spice shop off the beaten path. This is a fun thing to look for while traveling. I’ve picked up vanilla in Mexico, maple syrup in Canada, bacon in Knoxville … you get the picture. And speaking of picture, look at the difference!

red pepper

Kroger brand (left), the real Sorrento deal (right)

5. Le Creuset. This little roaster has become my favorite size around the kitchen. Clocking in at 8×11 3/4 inches and holding 2 1/2 quarts, it’s the perfect vessel for half a casserole recipe, a Thanksgiving side dish, or holding my marinating meat in case of any drips.
6. New skills. Confession #2: I don’t know how to grill. The fire scares me. Plus it’s already hot outside when you grill, so I know I’m gonna sweat, what with the blazing sun and the flames that you are reaching your hands into. Nevertheless, I feel this is a skill that it is beyond time I learn. So my brave neighbor Nate has agreed to teach me. And the first lesson didn’t go too badly, even if I did squeal like a small child when putting the meat on the hot, hot flames.

What are your kitchen essentials? I’m sure this post is just the first installment of many.

Lime-Marinated Flank Steak
Adapted from Everyday Foods
Serves 4

Juice of 4 limes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 scallions (about 1/3 cup), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
Vegetable oil, for grates
Coarse salt and ground black pepper

  • In a resealable plastic bag, combine lime juice, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, garlic, and red-pepper flakes. Add steak, and seal bag; marinate in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, for at least 1 hour.
  • Heat grill to high; lightly oil grates. Remove steak from marinade, letting excess drip off (discard marinade). Season with salt and black pepper. Place on grill and  cover.
  • Cook, turning once, for 6 to 8 minutes (for medium-rare). Let rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly.
  • Serve with sides or on top of a salad.