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BBQ Pulled Chicken

This is one of my favorite recipes, because all you have to do is throw everything in a crock pot. The possibilities for this recipe are endless, as you can mix and match vegetables and different spices in innumerable combinations. Feel free to experiment with your favorite flavors!

What You’ll Need (serves 2-4 people)

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken
  • 1 cup Coca-Cola, root beer, or other soda (You will strain this out in the end, but cooking the chicken in soda makes it super tender)
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped (I’ve used white onion and sweet onion before and both are delicious)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic powder
  • Pinch of hickory smoked sea salt or salt and pepper
  • 1/2 bottle (20 ounce) of BBQ sauce (I like Weber or Wegman’s brand, because they don’t have corn syrup in them)

Optional Other Ingredients

  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 pineapple, chopped
  • 1-2 tomatoes on the vine, diced (many recipes call for ketchup, but I prefer diced tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Let’s Get Started!

Put all ingredients (except BBQ sauce) in crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours

Put all ingredients (except BBQ sauce) in crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours

1. Wash chicken and put in crock pot
2. Chop onion and/or any other vegetables you’re using and add them to the crock pot
3. Add garlic and sea salt and/or your other spices
4. Add soda until the chicken is just barely covered with liquid
5. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours

Shred chicken, add BBQ sauce and mix

Shred chicken, add BBQ sauce and mix

6. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, move chicken and vegetables from crock pot into a large bowl; you can dump the leftover liquid
7. Using two forks, shred chicken
8. Add BBQ sauce to your liking and serve on a bun with a side of chips

Serve on a bun with a side of chips

Serve on a bun with a side of chips

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Tempeh Sloppy Joes

Tempeh Sloppy Joes

What You’ll Need (serves 2-4 people)

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 lb tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp crushed tomato
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp worcester sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns

Let’s Get Started!

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes or until soft. Add tempeh and saute for 6 minutes or until it begins to brown.
  2. Combine crushed tomato, balsamic vinegar, worcester sauce, brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add tomato mixture to tempeh and stir.
  3. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
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Baking: Better Bagels

As you may recall, about a year ago, I started learning how to make bagels.  I searched high and low for a good bagel recipe and I have finally created one that is fantastic!  Practice makes perfect and I had a lot of practice.  In a single day this summer, I made 40 bagels!  After all that practice, I have created this recipe, adapted from a recipe from AllRecipes.  I made it much better!

Erin's Homemade New York Style Bagels

Erin’s Homemade New York Style Bagels

What You’ll Need (makes 7-9 bagels)

  • 1 1/4 cup warm water (I microwave for about 20-30 seconds)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups bread flour
  • 4 quarts water
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup honey or barley malt syrup
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • OPTIONAL TOPPINGS: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced onion, garlic powder, kosher salt

Let’s Get Started!

If you have a stand mixer, I highly recommend using it to knead the dough.

  1. Combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and let sit until yeast begins to bubble (about 5 minutes)
  2. Add oil and 3 cups of bread flour and knead until the mixture becomes doughy.
  3. Add the remaining flour 1/2 a cup at a time until the dough loses its stickiness.  You should be able to poke the dough with your finger without the dough sticking to you and without it looking flaky.  If it is too sticky, add 1/2 a cup of dough at a time until it becomes firmer.  If it is too flaky, add a bit more oil.
  4. Move the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl.  Use just enough oil to coat the outside of the dough to keep it from sticking to the bowl; too much oil will make the dough too wet.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm enclosed area (like your microwave or stove, but do not turn your stove on while the bowl is in there).  Let dough rise for at least 1 hour.
  5. Punch down the dough, place it on a cutting board, and use a knife to divide the dough into 7-9 equal pieces (depending on the size bagels you want).  Roll each into a ball and then punch a hole in the middle with your thumb.  Let the bagels rest for 20-30 minutes, until they have risen to the size you want (if they are a little small, don’t worry – they will puff up when you boil them).
  6. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Beat 1 egg in a small bowl and put aside for egg wash.
  8. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot.  Add honey or barley malt syrup if you want a chewier texture.  I usually use honey.
  9. Boil the bagels 2-3 at a time (depending on the size of your pot) about 1 minute on each side.  Remove bagels from the pot with a slotted spoon and place them on the baking sheet.
  10. Once the bagels have cooled (about 2-3 minutes), brush the beaten egg over the tops of the bagels with a pastry brush and add your toppings.
  11. Bake in the oven until the bagels begin to brown, about 15-20 minutes.  In some cases, I bake them for 25 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them.
  12. I usually freeze them so they will last longer.  If you are going to freeze them, let them cool after you take them out of the oven and then slice them.  Put them in a plastic bag and freeze.  Toast them when you want to eat them.


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Restaurant Review: Post Office Pies

Post Office Pies

209 41st St S, Avondale, Birmingham, AL 35222

Marc and I went here for dinner at 7:45 on a Saturday night and it was packed, which was absolutely fantastic.  We ordered and wound up having to sit at the bar, because no tables were available, which is a good sign for popularity, but annoying as a customer.  As a Chicagoan, I know a good pizza when I taste one and this place does not have it.  Birmingham is not known for its pizza, but there are decent pizza places here, so if you’re in the mood for pizza, go to Trattoria or Slice.  Post Office Pies’s too-soft crust and runny sauce makes for a disappointing, mushy pizza.  The atmosphere and beer (from Avondale Brewery next door) are the really redeeming qualities of this place.  Hopefully they can improve the pizza and make it worth returning.

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Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Between dietary restrictions, food allergies, and the upcoming Passover season, cooking for friends and family can be a challenge.  Luckily, Quinoa Stuffed Peppers are the answer to all your cooking quandaries!

Kosher? Check!  It’s even kosher for Passover!

Gluten-free?  Check!

Vegan/Parve?  Check!

Delicious?  Double Check!


What You’ll Need (serves 2 people)

  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 2 peppers, tops removed and seeded.  I used red peppers, but you can use any color.
  • 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1/3 cup spinach
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese (note: the recipe won’t be vegan anymore and, while I don’t usually turn down the option to add cheese, this recipe really doesn’t need it)

Let’s Get Started!

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add quinoa.  Stir quinoa in olive oil for 2-3 minutes to toast it.  Add water and bring to boil.  Reduce to simmer, cover pot, let cook for 10-15 minutes until water has been absorbed.
  3. Place peppers cut-side down on baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes or until skin starts to brown
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Cook onions and herbs & spices for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in tomato, cucumber, and spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.  Stir in quinoa until heated through.
  5. Spoon quinoa and vegetables into peppers
  6. OPTIONAL: Top with cheese
  7. Return peppers to oven for 5 minutes

You don’t need to save the pepper tops, but if you do, you can serve it with the tops as a garnish.



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Shabbat Shalom

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh baked challah on Shabbat.


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Restaurant Review: Gianmarco’s

Gianmarco’s Restaurant

721 Broadway St, Homewood, AL 35209

As soon as I walked in, I knew this place would be great.  It smelled fantastic.  The food was delicious and our waiter was attentive and knowledgeable.  They have a fantastic wine selection.  I highly recommend the tomato and fresh mozzarella appetizer.  The eggplant parmesan and cheese ravioli were great vegetarian options.  If you can’t decide on a side, go with the mac and cheese.


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