Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Caesar Chicken over Angel Hair

In my other life, I teach school. It was almost a month ago that I received the call that we were not coming in for the next two weeks. Later the shelter in place order was extended to the beginning of May. I do not foresee returning to school until August, if then. Everything has changed, including the way we shop and cook. Usually, I stop by the grocery store daily to get fresh ingredients for dinner. We have only been shopping twice since the lockdown. So, fresh ingredients to cook whatever I feel like eating isn’t a possibility right now. My husband and I are both lucky enough to work from home, so our economics haven’t changed. In fact, we are saving money because we don’t visit restaurants and aren’t driving our cars. We know that isn’t true for everyone. We feel blessed.

With that in mind, I am creating recipes to help people deal with being in lockdown and having less money. Italian American Shrimp and Pasta and my sheet pan recipes are easy to make with ingredients you probably have. I also give you many easy ways to substitute more expensive ingredients, like shrimp, for less expensive ingredients, like chicken. This blog has a Facebook page where you can find many quick, no measure recipes for making really tasty meals just using canned goods. Use the hashtag #b2e_lockdown.

Caesar Chicken over Angel Hair is another good recipe made from inexpensive ingredients that have a long shelf life. You can substitute pork or shrimp for the chicken. Instead of lemon juice, you could use ½ teaspoon vinegar. You can also toss in cooked broccoli or frozen peas at the end and just warm through. I used Litehouse Caesar dressing because I already had some in the fridge. You can use any creamy Caesar dressing. It does not need to be refrigerated but can be shelf stable. You can skip the parsley. Finally, if you want to skip the bacon, that is a little harder. You can add ½ tablespoon of smoked paprika, but do you have that in your spice rack? If not when times are better, get some. It is magic. You can skip the bacon, but it won’t be the same. And obviously, you can use any long, thin pasta-thin spaghetti or spaghetti. Substitutions may change the cooking time.
Caesar Chicken over Angel Hair

Servings: 4-6
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; Cooking:  30 minutes; Dinner in less than an hour
Hardware:  measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knife, a large pot, a colander, a heat resistant measuring cup, a deep, heavy skillet, tongs, a wooden spoon, a paper towel covered plate, a large serving dish


  • 4 ounces of angel hair
  • A bit of butter
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1-pound of chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder)
  • ½ cup of chicken broth
  • 2 cups of creamy Caesar dressing
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of dried parsley (if you are using fresh you can use 2-3)

  1. Read this recipe through before you begin. Mince the garlic. Set aside. Premeasure everything and set aside.
  2. Cook the bacon until it is very crispy. Place it on the paper towel covered plate. Do not clean the skillet.
  3. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and generously salt and pepper them. Sauté the chicken pieces in the bacon fat over medium high until they are browned on both sides and done through. This will take about 7 minutes per side. Place the pieces onto the plate with the bacon. Set aside. Remove most of the fat from the skillet, but again, do not clean it.
  4. Boil the angel hair in the large pot according to package directions. This only takes about 4 minutes. DO NOT overcook it. Drain it and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with a tiny bit of butter to keep it from sticking and become a big goo.
  5. Heat the skillet over medium high and add the garlic. Sauté it for a minute or two until it is fragrant. Pour in the broth and deglaze the skillet, scraping up the little brown bits left from the meat. Stir in the Caesar dressing and bring the mixture to a low simmer. Add the Parmesan, lemon juice, and parsley and stir until combined. Use the pasta water to thin the sauce if it is too thick. Add about ¼ cup at a time and stir. I used about ½ cup of water, but that is up to you. Crumble the bacon into the sauce and then add the chicken. Taste and adjust the salt. Add as much black pepper as you think your family will tolerate.
  6. Place the pasta in the large dish and pour the sauce over it. GENTLY fold the pasta until everything is covered in sauce. If you stir too much the pasta will get sticky. Serve right away.  

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Italian American Shrimp and Pasta

Italian American Shrimp and Pasta

We are in at the end of the third week of being locked down. When it became obvious that going to the grocery store was a bad idea, my husband I went to work. We cleaned out our freezer and pantry and made a list of all the food, spices and cooking products we had. Then we figured out the amount staples we went through in a week (bread, milk, eggs, flour, sugar.) I studied the list of food we already had and began to research ‘recipes with 5 ingredients or less.’ I also scrutinized soup companies’ websites for easy recipes. Then I thought about which meals my family actually enjoys. No sense making food no one will eat. Then I came up with a list of recipes that could be made from frozen and canned food. I tried to make recipes that could be reused if there were leftovers (sloppy joes become chili, leftover pork and rice become stir fry.) Then we made a list. We are hoping to make it for at least two and possibly three weeks without going to the store again.

My first real lock down meal was shredded beef tacos. I put a chuck steak in the Instant Pot with a can of Ro-tel, taco seasoning and beef broth. I reserved the leftover liquid. We made tacos with the beef. I took the leftover beef and liquid and combined them with a big can of black beans. I served that over rice. There was enough for lunch the next day, too. Right before that I made Sheet Pan Cajun Chicken and  Sheet Pan Beef and Broccoli. Both of these recipes can be made from ingredients you probably already have.

Someone asked me what I would recommend stocking up on. I would know first whet my family was willing to eat. Then I would build plans around that. Oil based salad dressings can act as sauces and marinades, so I bought quite a few of them. Frozen vegetables and canned veggies are always good to have. Go to the ethnic section of the grocery store and buy sauces (chili sauce, garlic sauce, sweet and sour sauce, sofrito etc.) Don’t be afraid to buy packets of flavorings. These are usually found with the gravy, Buy that, too. Sauces, flavorings and gravy can make meals less boring. Meatballs served in sweet and sour sauce are very different from meatballs served in a tomato sauce or even a cream sauce. Also think of meat as a flavoring rather than the main event. The chuck roast I wrote about earlier made 3 meals for 3 people, because I shredded it and used it in tacos. If we had eaten it as a roast, it would have only been one meal.

Finally, don’t buy more than you will need or use. We need to realize that other people need food, too.

I made this dish before we ever went to the store. I found a box of frozen creamed spinach, a pound of frozen shrimp and a bottle of salad dressing when we were organizing. This was really good. It was also delicious served cold the next day.

This meal is good lock down food because it is quick, tasty and easy to make with products that will keep. You can also substitute chicken or pork in this dish. You could even eat it without meat. Frozen broccoli or peas in a cheese or butter sauce would also be delicious substitutes for the spinach.

Any small tube-shaped pasta like macaroni, penne, rigatoni or ziti would work in this recipe. I used cavatappi, which is the Italian word for corkscrew. Shaped pasta like farfalle (bowtie), fusilli, or small shells could be substituted. You could even forego the meat and used a filled pasta like tortellini or ravioli.

Servings: 4-6
Time:  Active time: 5 minutes; Cook: 15 minutes; Dinner in 20 minutes
Hardware:  measuring cups, a deep non-stick skillet, a bowl, tongs


  • 1 lb. 21/25 count shrimp-cleaned with tails removed
  • 1-10-ounce package creamed spinach
  • 1 cup oil based Italian salad dressing
  • ½ cup milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray (oil, butter)
  • 8 ounces of prepared pasta (tube or shaped-see above)

  1. Cook the spinach and pasta according to the package directions.
  2. While they are cooking, heat the skillet on medium-high. Use whatever (oil, butter, cooking spray) to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the clean shrimp and salt and pepper it. Cook the shrimp on each side for about 3 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through. Remove the shrimp to the bowl with the tongs. 
  3. Add the salad dressing, spinach and milk to the same pan. Mix until the sauce comes to a low boil. Reduce the heat and return the shrimp. Adjust the salt.
  4. Serve immediately over the drained pasta.