Quick & Delicious Dominican Chicken Sauté — Episode 23

From the first time our babysitter Rafaela cooked us this one-pot Dominican chicken, I was obsessed. Per usual we had a few chicken breasts in the freezer and she offered to whip up some dinner using those and a handful of vegetables we had in the fridge. There was a mortar and pestle involved. Fifteen minutes later emerged chicken so flavorful and delicious I begged her to teach me, and she kindly obliged. The recipe is simple enough, but I’ve found it takes some love to perfect. One trick is to use a bit more vinegar (I skipped this ingredient in the video). I think that helps keep the chicken juicy and gives it a lot of character. Also, don’t skimp on the vegetable oil. That’s critical to creating the delicious sauce or “sofrito” around the chicken.

Dominican Chicken Sauté


Dominican chicken is a quick and delicious weeknight meal.

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into 3 inch pieces
  • juice of one lemon
  • splash of malt vinegar (optional)
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1/3 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large carrot sliced super thin with box grater
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon oregano, divided
  • Sazon seasoning; salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped

Place garlic, dash of salt and pepper and half of oregano into a mortar; crush with pestle until blended. Add lemon juice and 2 tablespoons oil and crush some more. Pour over chicken pieces and set aside to marinate about 20 minutes.

Heat 2+ tablespoons vegetable oil in large skillet or (ideally) French oven. Place chicken pieces into pot and cook on one side about 5 minutes until lightly brown, then flip with tongs and cook on the other side (trying to flip only once to cook). When chicken is a couple minutes from being done, add in all the veggies—red pepper, onion, carrot. Add a little more oil if needed and cook everything together, stirring occasionally. Season generously with Sazon, oregano, salt and pepper. When veggies are browned, remove from heat. Add cilantro (it will wilt). Serve over fluffy white rice.

Delicious Pancakes from Scratch — Episode 22

First a little disclaimer: I promise I’m not trying to sabotage your healthy-eating New Year’s resolutions. You could be thinking more “detoxifying juice cleanse” than “delicious, scrumptious pancakes” right now. I get it. I’m sticking more closely to a few of my own rules and eating these egg white pancakes right now, too. But when you’re ready to indulge again —next week, next month, whatever— this is the only pancake recipe you’ll ever need. Why not just use the boxed pancake mix, you ask? Because making them from scratch is about the same amount of work, but is so, so much more satisfying and delicious. I’ve found that the most important tip is to let the batter sit a bit before starting to cook. This delay gives the batter time to rise and thicken for extra fluffy pancakes.

Delicious Pancakes from Scratch (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Pancakes from scratch: fluffy, delicious, and shockingly easy.

Pancakes from scratch: fluffy, delicious, and shockingly easy.

  • 1 cup bread flour* (spooned and leveled)
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter (or oil), and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened. Let batter sit about 25 minutes to thicken. Heat butter in a heavy skillet or crepe pan. For each pancake spoon 2-3 tablespoons batter into pan. Cook until surface of pancake has bubbles and some have burst. Resist the urge to flip them too early! Ideally, you want to flip only once. Then flip and complete cooking until golden brown. Top with butter, heated syrup, and fresh fruit for pure amazingness.

*Note, bread flour is also known as “high gluten” flour. So while it makes the pancakes super fluffy, it can sometimes upset sensitive bellies. Substitute all-purpose flour instead.

My New Web Series! Watcha Cookin’—Jamaican Inspired Food

I’m thrilled to be hosting a new web cooking series called Watcha Cookin’. This series explores Caribbean-inspired cuisine, and the first episode is all about Jamaica—near and dear to my heart as a proud Jew-maican lady. I’m excited to be a part of the show for many reasons, including the fact that we get out of the “studio” (a.k.a. my kitchen) for some segments in the field, which is great fun and experience. Plus, I’m getting to experiment and develop all kinds of new Caribbean inspired recipes. I’m getting a lot of pointers from our Dominican babysitter Rafaela (who also taught me this) and her nephew Will, who are both amazing cooks. 

Check out this episode and let me know what you think!

How to Make a Melty Falafel Pita Pocket (with Trader Joe’s Cheat!)—Episode 13

I love falafel, but it’s not the kind of thing I can make from scratch on an average day. Okay, I’m probably not making this from scratch ever. There’s little incentive to when you can make a tasty falafel pita pocket starting from Trader Joe’s pre-made falafel, which I think are delicious and very authentic tasting. But you do need to doctor the dish up for full effect. For the uninitiated, falafel is a vegetarian Middle Eastern dish that’s like chickpea chicken nugget of sorts, minus the meat. The chickpeas, spices, and sometimes fava beans are mashed and formed into a little patty and deep-fried. It’s considered a fast food/street food, but if you throw in a good amount of veggies it makes a healthy lunch and is great for on-the-go.

Melty Falafel Pita Pocket

With fresh veggies and warmed in the oven, falafel is a great weekend lunch.

With fresh veggies and warmed in the oven, falafel is a great weekend lunch.

Whole wheat pita pocket, cut in half

Pre-made falafel, such as Trader Joe’s

Chopped Lettuce

Chopped cucumber

Chopped tomato


Feta Cheese

Cooking spray

Heat oven to 375.

Cook falafel according to package instructions. Set aside. Spread 3-4 heaping tablespoons of hummus in pita pocket half. Add 3 falafels, halved. Top with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and about a tablespoon feta cheese. Spray pita pocket with cooking spray and heat in oven until hummus is warmed and melty, about five minutes. Enjoy!

My top: Michael Stars Double V-Neck tee

Photo: Kofi Oliver

How to Make Smitten Kitchen’s Cinnamon Raisin Bagels — Deb’s Test Kitchen!

Like any good Jewish girl, I love a great bagel—and none of that scooped-out nonsense for this pregnant lady. Here in Atlanta, it’s hard to come by real, New York style bagels so I’m experimenting a little with how to make bagels. In this video, I’m making bagels for the very first time, trying out a Cinnamon Raisin bagel recipe by the wonderful blog Smitten Kitchen. The recipe is pretty involved; it takes two days at minimum. That’s why the video only picks up on Day Two. The preparation and kneading of the dough was lengthy and very stop and start, and please forgive me, it was kind of hard to create a condensed version with my work-in-progress editing skills.

The first day involved making the “sponge” and dough. You’ll definitely want to start this process early in the day. My sponge took 4 hours to rise properly, instead of the two or so she mentions in the recipe. I originally started the sponge one evening at 8 pm, and yeah, had to scrap that batch and begin again the next day. After adding the rest of the ingredients and kneading (I was sweating during this part), you roll the dough into individual balls and poke a hole in each before popping in the fridge to let the bagels “retard”  or rise slowly overnight.

Overall the process was very rewarding and worth it. Next time, I’ll definitely boil the bagels for a shorter time—30 seconds max—because after cooling they were a bit too dense and chewy. Also, it was very difficult to make a perfectly round and smooth bagel. Most of mine came out misshapen and a bit mangled looking, which gives them character, but I’ll be investigating how the bagel shops make theirs so even. I look forward to trying them again!

Smitten Kitchen’s Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

A bit misshapen, but homemade cinnamon raisin bagels are amazing!

A bit misshapen, but homemade cinnamon raisin bagels are amazing!

Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Makes 12 super large, 16 large or 24 mini bagels


1 teaspoon instant yeast

4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour

2 1/2 cups water, room temperature


1 teaspoon instant yeast

3 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar

2 cups loosely packed raisins, rinsed with warm water to remove surface sugar, acid, and natural wild yeast

To Finish

1 tablespoon baking soda

Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting

View the complete recipe here on Smitten Kitchen.

Lemon Rosemary and Jamaican Jerk Roasted Chicken – Episode 1

On many Sunday nights at our house, we like to prepare roasted chicken because it’s tasty and comforting—and also provides great leftovers for countless meals during the week.

But we don’t do a whole chicken for a few reasons—one, we’re more of a breast-meat family and too much of the bird would go to waste and two, doing individual split bone-in breasts gives you more variety in terms of flavor options. When you’re roasting, they can all go into the oven (or on the grill) at the same time, so it’s pretty efficient to cook multiple flavors at once. Portion wise, we’ll each eat about half our breast at dinner and save the rest for leftovers. For a family of four, you’ll probably want to make 6-8 individual, large breasts (about 4-5 pounds).

Here are the recipes for the two different varieties you see in Episode 1, Lemon Rosemary and Jamaican Jerk.

Lemon Rosemary and Jamaican Jerk Roasted ChickenLemon Rosemary Chicken

For each, individual split bone-in breast you will need:

3 ¼-inch wide strips of lemon peel

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 sprigs fresh Rosemary

Kosher Salt & Pepper

1 ½ teaspoons Olive Oil (eyeball it)

The key to getting the juicy, flavorful meat is putting all the yummy seasonings underneath the skin. So, first things first, gently loosen the skin from the breast by inserting your fingers and gently pushing between the skin and meat. (As you see in the show, yeah, dealing with the raw chicken is not my favorite activity, and I usually let my husband Kevin take the lead on this duty!)

Next, arrange the garlic, lemon peel and rosemary on the meat, underneath the skin. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and rub in 1 teaspoon of the olive oil – again, all of this happens underneath the skin. Rub remaining olive oil on top of skin. Place breasts in a Ziploc bag to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

To roast:  Usually we like to roast the chicken on the grill, using a convection or “indirect” method. But, you can also roast them in the regular oven, of course!

Preheat to 450 degrees. Arrange chicken breasts in a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, until the skin is sizzling golden brown, then reduce temp to 400 and roast until the meat is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Note: if your kitchen gets too smoky, lower your temperature a bit, and lengthen cook time accordingly.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

1 bone-in split chicken breast

¼ cup store-bought Jamaican Jerk marinade

For each, individual bone-in breast, you’ll need about ¼ cup of a store-bought jerk marinade. We like The Shizzle Sauce, Voodoo Hot variety (it’s super spicy!).

Place the chicken breast in a Ziploc or plastic bag. Add marinade and squish it all around, making sure to rub the marinade underneath the loosened skin, onto the meat directly. Place meat in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Quick tip: if you have the time, let the marinated meat stand at room temperature before roasting for 15-20 min; ice-cold chicken doesn’t brown quite as nicely.

Roast chicken at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 400 and bake until the meat is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add a little extra jerk sauce on top before serving. Delish! Note: You can also do this same method with all kinds of store-bought marinades. We often roast a third flavor of Teriyaki Chicken. Our favorite marinades are by Soy Vay or Trader Joe’s Trader Ming’s Soyaki. These can both be a bit sweet so I’ll add a splash of plain soy sauce to the mix to make it more savory.

I like to serve the chicken with rice and roasted or steamed vegetables on the first day. Then, as you see in the show, we reinvent shredded or sliced chicken for a number of other recipes including:

  1. Shredded Rosemary Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
  2. Easy Biryani with Green Beans and Hard Boiled Eggs
  3. Shigley Spicy Chicken Tacos


Photo by Lauren Hunter