In the middle of a huge kitchen renovation, to bring my kitchen into the 21st century, I suddenly drop my trowel in exhaustion only to realize that I had to cook my menu for the Gutsies!!  Love that name. Luckily for me, I had  marinaded my lamb early Sunday morning, so that by dinner time it would be ready to go. So even though my body was screaming order in, I took out my lamb, my cooking utensils and started cooking.

The easiest thing to make and something I’ve never tried was Tabbouleh. It has many spellings on that word but they all mean the same thing. Tabbouleh is a salad made of bulgur, finely chopped parsley and mint, tomato and seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice.  I will admit, I LOVE olive oil. I put olive oil on everything, yes even my hair and may I say my hair looks great.. ok, ok..I digress.  Back to the Tabbouleh.  I’ve never tasted tabbouleh before so I was not sure what I was getting myself into, but you know what, I like it, I like it very much. It has a sorta refreshing taste to it. The mint and the lemon juice give it a nice kick. 

The next menu item the Gutsies had to cook was Lamb Tagine with couscous. First of all, lamb is pricey around these parts. But I bought a small pack of already cubed lamb (so that was half the battle done for me) and followed the recipe word for word. I don’t own a tagine, which is a type of pot used in making tagine in Morocco, Tunisia and other North African countries. So I used my  go to pan. It never lets me down.

In the picture above, I’m browning the lamb with onions, cumin, pepper, salt and thyme.  After the browning process, the lamb with the orange juice/flour mixture is baked in an oven for 1 hour after which you then add the apricots.  My husband and I love it, thought it was sweet and not so sweet but not sour. The lamb was tender not chewy. The couscous was a no-brainer. I used Near East boxed brand.  My daughters ate macaroni and cheese because in their own words, they would not eat “Mary’s Little Lamb”. 

Now on to next week’s menu which depending on the state of my kitchen, may or may not get cooked. Then Thanksgiving is also around the corner. I think Monica should give us a pass!!



I recently joined a wonderful online cooking group known as the Gutsy Cooks Club started by Monica from Sweet Bites Blog.  The  challenge is to cook all the recipes from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible by Victoria Blashford-Snell with over 1000 recipes from all over the world. Seriously, if you don’t own this book, you should. It has wonderful pictures, easy to make recipes and it is full of information and techniques to help make you a better cook.  Together with a select group of people, we’ll be cooking together selected menus for each designated month and sharing opinion and tips. 

This week’s menu was the Spanish Vegetable Tortilla. Very healthy, full of peas, broccoli, potatoes and eggs. The recipe was easy enough to follow. The only changes I made to the recipe is that instead of inverting the tortilla onto plate and sliding it back into the skillet to cook the other side, I popped the entire skillet into the over at 350 degrees for 25 mins. covered with foil. The tortilla came out perfectly cooked and my family loved it. Even my picky daughters thought it was very tasty.

The second part of the challenge was Cod in Tomato sauce. I could not find cod so I substituted halibut instead.  We love eating fish in our home so this was another no-brainer. The fish came out flaky and perfectly cooked. This was my first time eating halibut. The fish had a very clean taste and dense and firm texture, sorta like chicken.   Next week’s recipe will be lamb tangine with couscous and tabbouleh.. Can’t wait!!!


The market where I live always has great chicken deals going on.  Recently they had a 50% sale on chicken and my husband bought over 20 packs of chicken.  I know, I know where am I going to store all that chicken? In my 48 inch sub-zero fridge. It just fits!!  I love beef too but too pricey and outta my budget for now.

(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

// Ingredients

  • 8 pieces Chicken  Thighs
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 Ounces) Whole Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons (Heaping) Tomato Paste
  • Fresh Herbs: Basil, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • 16 ounces, weight Pasta (I Used Penne)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese, For Serving
  • ½ cups White Wine (or Red Wine)

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper chicken legs.

Heat ovenproof skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter. When oil/butter is hot, add chicken legs to the pan. Using tongs, brown on all sides, about 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.

Pour in wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any bits. Cook for 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes with their juice and add tomato paste. Add salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. Bring sauce to a boil, then turn off heat. Add plenty of fresh herbs, 8 cloves of peeled (but whole) garlic, and the chicken legs. Put lid on pot and cook in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove pot from oven and allow it to sit on the counter with the lid on while you boil the pasta.

Cook the pasta to al dente, Drain and add to a large serving bowl.

Remove lid and check sauce. If it’s overly thin, remove the chicken from the pot and boil the sauce on the stovetop for 5 to 10 minutes. Check seasonings and adjust as needed.

To serve, pour sauce over cooked pasta, then arrange chicken pieces over the top. Sprinkle generously with fresh Parmesan and serve with crusty French bread.

This is fried chicken in a sticky, sweet sauce over a bed white rice.  I think I only make this twice a year, but I enjoy it immensely every single time.  This is a Jackie version of a popular take-out meal a la Asian Cuisine and it is a family favorite. And yes, it is fried BUT you control the salt and no added preservatives.

adapted from Annie’s Eats


For the marinade and sauce:

¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth

¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1½ tsp. finely grated orange zest

6 tbsp. white vinegar

¼ cup soy sauce

½ cup brown sugar (dark or light)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated

1½ lbs. boneless chicken wings (you can also use thighs), cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. cold water

8 thin strips orange peel (optional)

For the coating and frying:

3 large egg whites

1 cup cornstarch

½ tsp. baking soda

3 cups canola oil


To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well.  Measure out ¾ cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag.  Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well.  Refrigerate and let marinate 30-60 minutes, but no longer.  Place the saucepan with the remaining mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add the mixture to the saucepan with the sauce.  Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and stir in the strips of orange peel, if using.

To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate and whisk until frothy.  In a second pie plate combine the cornstarch, baking soda whisk to blend.  Drain the chicken of the marinade in a colander or large strainer; pat dry with paper towels.  Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat.  Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a 11- or 12-inch round Dutch oven or wok until the oil reaches 350˚ F. Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Return the oil to 350˚ F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with the cooked chicken pieces.  Serve over white rice and serve a veggie. We chose green beans!