Category Archives: Main Dish

Photo Teaser: Jiauzi (Chinese Dumplings)


Cooking with my mom in Portland today. She taught me how to make “jiauzi” or Chinese style gyoza. Yum!

The dough was made by hand. And the filling is a combination of shrimp, sole, green onion and chives.

Recipe to come.


Heart Healthy Salad for Dinner

See—Little Baker does healthy too ūüôā

Fast and good for your heart.


Two Heart Healthy Salads (recipe by me)

printable recipe

Serves 1.

Broccoli-Tuna Salad

2 tbsp dijon mustard

splash balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1- 6 oz can tuna, drained

1/2 cup frozen broccoli florets, defrosted (or fresh)

small handful raisins

salt and pepper to taste

Tomato-Jarlsberg Salad

1/2 medium tomato, sliced (4 slices)

4 small slices Jarlsberg cheese

splash balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


For Broccoli-Tuna Salad

  1. In a small bowl, mix together mustard, onion, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  2. Stir in tuna, followed by broccoli and raisins. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Adjust flavor to taste by adding more mustard, vinegar, salt, etc. Serve along side tomato-cheese salad.

For Tomato-Jarlsberg Salad

  1. Spiral out tomato and cheese in alternating layers on a plate. Splash balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

This is the post-ricotta tart and oatmeal cookie dinner I promised to post about: a somewhat strange recipe for chicken and milk from Jamie Oliver. Even Jamie says it’s “slightly odd”. Basically, it’s chicken roasted in a braising liquid of milk, lemon, spices and a whole stick of butter. Naturally, the combination of lemon and milk causes the milk curds to separate from the whey, which means a not-so-pretty sauce, but interesting flavors for sure.

My photos look a little plain, right? Well, that’s because the curds and whey looked so unappetizing that I couldn’t bare to include them as part of the photo.

The original recipe serves four, but obviously I made it just for one. Along with it I had a sliced tomato salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. A little unconventional (to me anyway), but tasty.


Chicken in Milk (from Jamie Oliver)

printable recipe

Serves 4

1 whole chicken (3 lb/1.5 kg)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 oz (115 g) or 1 stick butter

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 good handful fresh sage, leaves picked

2 lemons, zested

6 garlic cloves, skin left on

1 pint (565 ml) milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C, and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. Season it generously all over with salt and pepper, and fry it in the butter, turning the chicken to get an even color all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the butter left in the pot. This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan, which will give you a lovely caramel flavor later on.
  2. Put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and cook in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours. Baste with the cooking juice when you remember. The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce, which is absolutely fantastic.
  3. To serve, pull the meat off the bones and divide it on to your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato.

Shakshouka (Egg in Tomato Sauce)

Quick din-din for one: Shakshouka.¬†Wikipedia says it’s Tunesian. Thinking about it now, though, maybe it’s more Tex-Mex? It’s almost like a low-carb Huevos Rancheros. I don’t know; I was hungry and threw together whatever was in the fridge. And this delicious, little dish was the result.


Shakshouka – Tex Mex Style (Eggs in Tomato Sauce)

Recipe inspired by The Three Cheeses

printable recipe

Serves 1.


small splash olive oil

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped

1 leaf mustard greens

1/2 cup diced stewed tomatoes

1 egg

1/4 cup canned beans (I used pinto)

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp ground cumin

pinch of red chile flakes

salt and pepper to taste

grated cheese to top, optional (I used Jarlsberg, but any kind would work)

plain yogurt to top, optional


  1. In a pre-heated (medium-high) small pan or saucepan, sauté onion, garlic and mustard greens in olive oil until slightly golden. Then add in tomatoes, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir and allow to simmer over low heat until liquid reduce somewhat, ca. 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in beans and crack an egg over the top. Cover and reduce heat further to lowest setting. Cook ca. 5 minutes. At about the half way point, sprinkle optional cheese over the top. Then cover, turn off the heat and allow to finish cooking and the cheese has completely melted. Be careful not to overcook the egg–the yolk should be sticky, golden and still a little runny. (If you like it cooked all the way through, cook it longer.)
  3. Top with plain yogurt and eat!


Chicken Baked in Tomato-Spinach Sauce

For someone who loves food so much, it seems odd to eat as much yogurt and cereal as I do. The fact of the matter is that cooking for one is booooring. Of course this bothers me. For one, it’s not exactly healthy. In a recent discussion with my friend Natalie regarding my carb and sugar diet of late, she told me, “I’m surprised you don’t look more like Jabba the Hut”. Me too. Second, it’s lame; it’s not like I don’t have the time, money or skill. And third, and most obvious, I am the Little Baker SF! and have a responsibility to blah, leafy greens, blah, organic, blah…you know what I mean.

Chicken baked in a tomato-spinach sauce. There, my redemption dish. Easy, yummy and organic. It’s not so quick–1 hour cooking time–but breast takes a long time to soften up. Using thighs would probably speed up the process.


Tomato-Spinach Baked Chicken (recipe by Theresa)

printable recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves 1


1 chicken breast (mine was with bone and skin—moister and more flavor this way)

1 cup canned stewed tomatoes, crushed

1 handful spinach leaves

1 clove garlic, bruised but still whole

1 tbsp onion, roughly chopped or thinly sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1/2 tsp dried basil or oregano (or combination of both)

pinch of sugar

pinch of red pepper flakes, optional


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Rinse and pat chicken dry. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together tomato, spices and onion. Then mix in the spinach.
  3. Place chicken in an ovenproof dish. (I used a glass pie plate.) Pour the tomato sauce over the chicken, making sure to coat completely. Drizzle olive oil over chicken. And season with a little more salt and pepper if you like.
  4. Cover dish with foil and bake for 50 minutes. At the midway point, remove foil and finish baking.
  5. Remove from oven, replace foil and let sit for 10 minutes before eating.

Mushroom and Roasted Eggplant Moussaka

This moussaka was my veggie main for Thanksgiving. I made it for my mom (who’s actually pescatarian) and my friend S. who joined us for dinner. She brought along her amazingly talented chef husband and also her little sweet pea, baby V. (We all took turns staring at and holding him. He in turn entertained himself by staring at the kitchen light and spitting up on me.) Anyway, moussaka is perhaps a bit unconventional for the holidays, but we are an unconventional family. Besides, who cares about tradition—this is awesome.

Recipes involving both cooking and baking are often labeled “laborious” and “time-consuming”. I don’t think so; actually, I think those kinds of dishes are total time-savers, especially on days when you know the oven is going to be occupied most of the time by a big, fat turkey. (I had to negotiate with my dad for oven time. He takes his turkey verrrry seriously.) They also have more complex flavors because of the multi-stage prep and cooking time. I roasted the eggplant the night before, made both red and white sauces and assembled the gratin in the morning, and then didn’t think about it again until the turkey came out hours later, at which point I shoved it in the oven and baked it for an hour. See, not complicated; just requires a little organization!

Time-consuming or not, it was delicious. CookThink says the mushrooms “are so rich and meaty” that you won’t miss the meat, and it’s true! I’m sure my mom and S. didn’t miss anything; and I don’t think the rest of us did either. The superstar of the mushroom sauce, though, was really the spice combination of cinnamon, allspice and oregano. Aromatic and bold, they are what truly make the sauce. As for the eggplant, I saw a few versions, in which it is breaded and pan-fried, like in eggplant parmigiana, but I liked them roasted. Maybe I’ll try it that way next time when there’s less competition, i.e. no turkey. One more thing to note is that unlike with lasagna, the bechamel sauce goes on top of the layered veggies. It’s flavor—nutty from the nutmeg and salty from the parmesan—is just as important as the vegetables in bringing the dish together.

This was fun! Too bad I forgot to take photos…guess I was too busy eating. ūüėõ


Mushroom and Roasted Eggplant Moussaka (recipe adapted from Janet is Hungry and  CookThink)

printable recipe

Serves 6-8


Mushroom Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/4″ thick slices

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 lb button mushrooms, sliced

2 large tomatoes

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, or more if necessary

1/2 tsp ground allspice, or more if necessary

1/2 tsp oregano, or more if necessary

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 tbsp tomato paste

salt and pepper to taste

Bechamel Sauce

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup flour

2 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%, but any will do, even skim)

1/2-3/4 cup grated parmesan

salt and pepper to taste


3/4 cup bread crumbs (I made my own with 2 slices of my half-white bread)


Mushroom Sauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease 2 baking sheets with the olive oil, and arrange the eggplant slices on top in a single layer. Douse and season each side with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake, turning once, 20 minutes. (I did 20 minutes on each side; I wanted them really roasted. And then I wrapped them in foil to continue steaming until cooled.)
  2. Plunge tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then refresh in cold water. Peel and chop roughly.
  3. Heat some olive oil over medium-high heat and add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are soft, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, cinnamon, allspice, tomato paste, parsley, wine, salt and pepper to the mushroom mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then cover and simmer or 15-30 minutes, or until it tastes right.

Bechamel Sauce

  1. While the red sauce is simmering, prepare the bechamel. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and slowly stir in milk. Return to heat and whisk until sauce thickens. Stir in nutmeg and Parmesan. Again, remove from heat and set aside.


  1. Spoon alternating layers into a greased 9″x13″ baking dish. Start with a layer of eggplant, then half the mushroom mixture. Then another layer of eggplant, and the second half of the mushroom mixture. Finish with a layer of eggplant.
  2. Spread sauce over last layer of eggplant and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 F covered with an aluminum foil tent for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until golden. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Tex-Mex Shredded Pork Lasagna

I don’t really know what to call this. Except delicious. I saw a picture for a Seven Layer Tortilla Dip on Let’s Dish and was totally smitten at first sight. I didn’t follow the recipe, but it became my inspiration when putting together my version.

Think of this dish like a deconstructed “super burrito”. Everything you love about those fatty monster wraps is in there: tortillas, refried beans, rice, spicy and tender shredded pork, and of course, lots and lots of cheese. My favorite part? The pork. It stewed and softened for three long hours, and then practically fell apart on it’s own as I shredded it. (Is it weird to get so much satisfaction from shredded meat? Seriously, it’s the best.) Another cool thing about this dish is the use of the braising liquid as kind of an enchilada sauce to pour over the finished dish. The juice, having stewed and developed for three hours, is craaazy—full of the flavor of the pork and all those aromatic herbs. It also saves you the effort of having to make another sauce.

A little time consuming to prepare, but seriously worth it!


Tex-Mex Shredded Pork Lasagna (inspired by Let’s Dish)

Serves 6-8


Shredded Pork

1 1/2 lbs stewing pork, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks

olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 medium onion, choppped

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1-2 tbsp tomato paste

water, enough to just cover pork

1 bay leaf


2 cups cooked rice (I used a combination of white and red)

1/2 can stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt


6 tortillas (I used whole wheat)

1 can refried beans (I used refried black)

1 cup shredded cheese (in my case, Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack)

1/2 can black olives, sliced

reserved stewing liquid


Shredded Pork

  1. Season pork with a little salt and pepper. In a medium pot, sear sides of meat in a little olive oil over high heat, about 1-2 minutes. (I did mine in batches, in order to maintain a high temperature in the pan.) Remove from pot and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, saute the garlic, onion, cumin, cayenne and oregano in a little more olive oil over medium heat. Once just golden, stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute.
  3. Put pork back into pot, add enough water to just cover the meat, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, stir in salt, pepper and bay leaf. Cover and let stew until meat shreds easily with a fork, 2-3 hours. Test for seasoning; add more salt and/or spices to your liking. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Once cooled, remove the meat from the pan, reserving the stewing liquid for later. Use two forks or your fingers to shred the pork.


  1. In a small saucepan, bring stewed tomatoes and water to small boil; reduce heat to low. Stir in rice, cumin, oregano, and salt. Check for seasoning and add additional salt or spices if necessary. Cook until warm. Remove from heat.


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line the bottom of a large gratin dish with two tortillas. (My tortillas overlapped a bit; I also cut them to fit better in the form) Next, spread one third of the refried beans over the tortillas, followed by a third of the rice, shredded pork, sliced olives and grated cheese. Repeat this process for the second and third layers. When assembling the final and top layer, wait to sprinkle on the cheese.  Pour the reserved stewing liquid over the gratin, shifting around the dish to ensure the juice reaches the bottom. Now you can add the last layer of cheese.
  3. Cover dish with foil tent. Bake for 40 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of baking, remove the foil and allow the cheese to melt further and become golden.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese for Natalie

We met in Switzerland as pimply-faced exchange students; but then went out separate ways for university and work. Then last year—11 years later—we were reunited in San Francisco. She took me in as I nursed a broken heart and attempted to start a new life. And now is no different—she’s still taking care of me (and everyone else who needs her help).

Natalie travels during the week for work, which leaves her pretty exhausted when she gets home. So to show my appreciation for all she does and will do for me, I made her this little weekend dinner treat! Hope she likes it!

P.S. She loved it! Happy me ‚̧

Natalie’s Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese (recipe inspired by Ina Garten’s recipe courtesy of My Plate, My World)

Serves 4.

1/2 butternut squash, seeded, peeled and cut into 1 inch thick slices

olive oil

salt and pepper

8 oz. medium-sized pasta shells (I used whole wheat)

1 1/2 reduced-fat milk

2 tbsp unsalted butter (Oops—forgot to put this in, but actually didn’t notice any difference)

2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 cup grated cheese (I used sharp white cheddar, but I think you could use any kind you want)

pinch ground nutmeg

1/2 medium onion

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 chicken sausages, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces

2 large handfuls spinach, washed and dried

3/4 cup breadcrumbs (I was lazy and just ripped up two slices of whole wheat bread)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Toss and coat prepared squash in a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in an oven dish until tender, 30-45 min. Remove and allow to cool. Once cooled, mash or food process until pureed. Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package direction in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a pan, brown sausage. Then, add in the garlic and onion and sauté over medium heat until just golden. Stir in spinach and allow to wilt down. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  4. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, continuing to do so for about 1 min. Slowly whisk in half the milk, completely incorporating liquid and flour. Whisk in the remaining milk, then reduce heat to low and continue whisking until sauce has thickened.
  5. Stir in pumpkin puree, followed by the grated cheese. Season sauce with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Remove from heat.
  6. Finally, stir in cooked pasta shells and sauteed sausage until combined with sauce.
  7. Pour mixture into your casserole dish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and breadcrumbs are golden.

Sausage, Peppers and Onions with Creamy Polenta

What a meal this turned out to be! Sweet sausage and peppers with creamy polenta…delicious. I should seriously make polenta more often—I love the feel of the smooth, tender grains in my mouth. It’s also way more interesting than plain old pasta.

Apart from a few minor tweaks, I stayed true to the original recipes (found here and here).


Sausage, Peppers and Onions with Creamy Polenta

(recipes adapted from Giada de Laurentiis via Week of Menus and The Kitchn)



extra virgin olive oil

1 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage

2 red bell peppers, sliced (I used green)

2 yellow onions, sliced

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I used 1 big handful, incl. stems)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbsp tomato paste (I omitted this)

1 cup Marsala wine (I used white)

1 15oz can diced tomatoes

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

1/2 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn kernels, optional


4 cups water (I used 2 cups 1% milk / 2 cups water)

1 cup polenta

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (I omitted this)

salt and pepper to taste


For the Sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on both sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain.
  2. Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the peppers, onions, salt, and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, basil stems, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the Marsala (or white) wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cut the sausages into 4 to 6 pieces each, about 1-inch cubes. Add the sausage back to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. (I let mine stew for over an hour on very low heat.) Add the corn, if using, and chopped basil leaves, stir and allow to warm through.

For the Polenta:

  1. While the sauce is stewing, begin making the polenta. You’ll need about 45 minutes. First, bring the water to a boil in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Once boiled, add the salt and, whisking continuously, slowly pour the polenta into the water in a thin stream. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring nearly constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, the grains soften, and the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 40 to 45 minutes. (The idea of stirring for 45 minutes annoys me, so I actually just turned off the heat when the mixture thickened, covered the pot and let the polenta steam until tender.)
  3. Stir in the butter and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, if using, and season with pepper. Cover to keep warm.
  4. Plate and serve with the sausage and peppers.


Arroz con Pollo (Peruvian-style Chicken and Rice) and Herby Roasted Potatoes

There seem to be endless versions of this well-known dish. So no surprise, Per√ļ has it’s own version which gets its principle flavor and color from cilantro.¬†Normally this is served with an onion-aji amarillo-lime salsa, but I was too lazy and also didn’t think the fresh onions would go over well with the students. (I don’t think it would have mattered; they scraped the pot clean—I guess they liked it!)

This turned out so great! I love learning new dishes to cook when I am abroad and am always really excited to try it out at home. However, often my version never tastes quite the same. The source of the ingredients is different and sometimes, as was the case this time, you have to substitute less common ingredients with ones you have around the house. The aji amarillo chiles are really important for an authentic flavor, so I was worried about how my version would turn out. Luckily, though, it came out great. Actually, I think it was the lime that saved it. So, definitely don’t forget the lime!


Arroz con Pollo

Serves 4.


Arroz con Pollo:

1 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces (I only had chicken breast on hand, but dark meat is tastier, i.e. more tender)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped finely

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into small cubes

olive oil

1 bunch cilantro, stalks trimmed

5 aji amarillo, deseeded, deveined and roughly chopped (Use a spoon to clean the chiles—they’re hot! This time, I didn’t have any, so used mild yellow chiles, plus ca. 1 tsp cayenne)

1/2 bottle of beer, preferably dark

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups rice, well-rinsed

3-4 cups water, divided (my guesstimate)

1/2 cup frozen or canned peas (In Per√ļ they use fresh)

1/2 cup fresh hominy corn (I didn’t have this, so left it out. You could put regular yellow or white in, however.)

juice of 1 lime

Herby Roasted Potatoes:

5 medium to large size baking potatoes (I used russets), scrubbed but not peeled and diced into large pieces

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp dried oregano

3-4 tbsp olive oil (or more—it should be generous enough to completely coat the potatoes)


For the chicken and rice:

  1. Pat the chicken dry; season with salt and pepper. Then in a large stockpot, brown the pieces in a little olive oil, in batches if necessary. (If you overcrowd the pot, the chicken won’t brown properly.) Remove and set aside. Also empty pot of excess grease.
  2. In your blender, liquidize the cilantro and aji (or in my case, mild yellow peppers), adding 1 cup of water to help in the process. Set aside.
  3. In the same pot used to fry the chicken, fry the onion, garlic and carrots until just golden. Pour in the cilantro-aji liquid and the beer. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to half. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting
  4. Put the chicken back into the pot, cover and simmer until cooked. Remove and set aside. (I deviated from the traditional method here in that I added a little more water to the pot and allowed the meat to braise for 2 hours. As I only had chicken breast, I wanted to tenderize the meat a bit more.)
  5. Add the rinsed rice, the remaining 2-3 cups and salt to the water to the pot and increase the heat, bringing the liquid to a boil. The liquid should taste salty. (I also added the cayenne at this point.) Once boiling, reduce the heat once again to the lowest setting and cover. Allow to cook for ca. 20 minutes or until almost cooked. (I did this differently as well by keeping the chicken in the pot and allowing it to cook with the rice.)
  6. Once the rice is just cooked, stir in the peas and corn. Replace the cover for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are warmed through.
  7. Just before serving, season for salt and pepper and then optionally, squeeze into the pot the juice of 1 lime. Or you can just serve lime wedges with the meal, which is how is normally done.

For the herby roasted potatoes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. On a foil-lined baking sheet, bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
  3. Remove and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.