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Sunday, August 31, 2014


Rachel Ray has coined a short term for "Extra Virgin Olive Oil": "EVOO".  Well, I have coined a term for a little something I made up (though it may already be thought of, I don't know), it is "Basil and Garlic infused Olive Oil", or "BAGOO".

My poor Basil plant needs a little love.

Do you ever feel like your go-to weeknight spaghetti is a little boring on the tastebuds?  Maybe you're a really good person (GP as I call it) and you don't feel that way.  Well, I'm not a GP and I always want to yawn or go into a comatose state when we sit down to yet another spaghetti meal.  I have a real celebratory streak in me.  So I feel that meals should be a party in your mouth.  Or if not a Monday night party, then at least something to bring a hint of a smile to you and your beloved family members.

Hence I have created (once again, I may not have originally created this…Giada or Bobby or Ina may have already and I just don't know about it) the Basil and Garlic Olive Oil.  
This is all you need:
(you guessed it) basil, garlic and olive oil  

Instructions are simple.  Whatever pasta dish you're doing (spaghetti, pasta salad, or even macaroni)…just boil the pasta as directed on the box and strain.  You will then return the pot to medium heat and add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil (more if you're making a large portion).  You will then add minced garlic (amount depends on how much you like garlic).  Once the garlic is aromatic, you will add in the chopped basil leaves (amount depends on how much you like basil).  I like strong flavors (hence the party in the mouth), so you do the math. :)  Let that simmer for maybe 1 minute and then throw the pasta back to the pot.  Stir it around so that the oil covers the noodles and then remove from heat.  Now you can add the tomato meat sauce (spaghetti) or cheeses (macaroni), or pasta salad ingredients.  

This little trick serves to liven up whatever pasta dish you are preparing.

I have to admit, there is one celebrity I think of when cooking with Basil and Garlic.  Early in my dating days with my husband, we often cooked complicated recipes together instead of going out to restaurants.  Our soundtrack to these nights was often a trumpet player named Chris Botti.  Several years ago, we went to a concert of his at the Riley Center in Meridian, MS.  We got to meet him afterwards.
Chris Botti

I particularly like Basil, so that is why I do "Bagoo".  You may prefer another herb.  You might want to  make Cagoo (cilantro), or maybe Pagoo (parsley).  Whatever you decide, good luck with your flavor-infused dish.


Friday, August 22, 2014

A New Orleans Affair

Our dear Erica is taking a short leave of absence from our blog for the small reason that she has recently GOTTEN MARRIED!  She is no longer Erica Enger.  She is now Mrs. Erica Cross!

The wedding was of course, ridiculously sweet and beautiful.  It took place in the wonderful city of New Orleans, LA. (you may recall this is the place where we met Nate Ruess, ahem, the lead singer of FUN.)… insert pic again:  

If I were to describe the wedding weekend through a list of words/phrases, this would be my compilation:
Commander's Palace
Giant Marti Gras beads
Praline Cheesecake
Chicory Coffee (thick enough you could almost chew it)
A certain family photo pose
Rhyming/poetic expression
Nice weather uncharacteristic of New Orleans summers
Old and new friendships
Gorgeous flowers
Navy Blue
Rosary beads
Umbrellas and Handkerchiefs
My own flower girl and ring bearer
Lousiana Spice-the best band ever!
Seafood Pasta, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, and mini Muffalettas
Shuttle bus
Last minute seamstress job
Lots of love, hugs and kisses

The recipe I will give in honor of Mrs. Cross's wedding weekend is a favorite of our's from a hole-in-the-wall bars-on-the-windows deli at the very end of Royal Street.  This little hidden gem is called Verti Marte and they happen to serve up the absolute best everything-on-it po'boys in the city.  I actually called this place and asked the unfortunate soul who answered, to describe to me exactly how they make it.

                 So here it is, in an approximation of how I was told, in New Orleans accent, I give you:

The All that Jazz Po'boy
courtesy of Verti Marte

Baby, first you're gonna slice some mushrooms, alright?
Then you're gonna throw them into a pan to sautee on medium heat along with some shrimp.
Once that is done, you put it on a plate and throw in the ham and the turkey.
Then, Darlin, you're gonna put a slice of swiss and a slice of cheddar on the meat to melt.
Once it's melted, turn the heat off.
Slather Wow sauce on both sides of the open, toasted French bread.
You got it Baby?
Me: Yes sir.
Alright then, you're gonna first put the shrimp/mushroom mixture on the bread.
Then throw on the ham, turkey, and cheeses mixture and you got your sandwich.
Me: So how do you make the Wow sauce?
Baby, I can't tell you that, alright?  But I can tell you to get some tartar sauce and add a lot of seasonings, whatever you want to it.  

That is one delicious sandwich!

My version of Wow sauce was tartar sauce with Garlic Salt, Pepper, and Cajun Seasoning.  Just taste it as you're making it to get it right.

And now for a little Blog Beautification:

Cheers to the happy couple!  We raise our glasses and sandwiches to you, Dr. and Mrs. Britt Cross!

Sunday, April 6, 2014


We like Greek food!  When feeding children…and adults too, it's always easy to have a bar-style dish.  That way, people can serve themselves and make their plate look and taste however they want.

Here is a fish gyro from our Gyro Bar:

Fish Gyro Bar

Greek-seasoned, pan-fried Tilapia…Seasoning: Curry powder, Cumin, Sea salt and pepper, and  lemon juice
lettuce and tomato
Tzatziki Sauce…Greek yogurt blended with 2 cloves garlic, half a cucumber, fresh mint and lemon juice
Roasted beets and pine nuts

We have realized that we use beets a lot in our dishes.  Speaking of "beets", er "beats"…Erica's latest celebrity encounter was with one Evander Holyfield in New Orleans.  See below:

Our second meal was also a fish inspired greek dish. For this dish we used salmon seasoned with salt, pepper, dill, and topped with a square of butter.  As a side, we chopped zucchini (because it looks like cucumber and we didn't have cucumber) and baby carrots.  This was all covered in foil (which makes for an easy cleanup) and baked in the oven at 350 degrees for around 20-25 minutes.  Make sure the fish is cooked thoroughly.

So what about fish skin? Usually I eat whatever comes off on my fork and leave any skin that sticks to the plate behind.  But I have often wondered about the skin.  Is it healthy? Is it even edible?  I did a little research on fish skin and it turns out that almost all fish skin's are edible and packed with  lots of nutrients.  For example salmon skin has lots of omega 3 fatty acids which is absorbed into the skin from the fatty layer of the fish just below the skin.  However, if the fish was living in polluted waters prior to it's greek debut, the skin may be harboring chemical pollutants that can be harmful in large quantities.  Just FYI.

Because hummus is a must have side/appetizer in any greek meal, we decided to make some.

Hummus: 1 can chick peas (drain most of juice, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, garlic salt, and pepper to taste, and a large spoonful of tahini paste). Blend until smooth.

Top fish with Tzatziki sauce and devour!  Yum!!

Friday, March 14, 2014


All Lauren can say about this recipe is: "Oh My Tuna Greatness!"

This tuna appetizer is comprised of the following amalgamations:
(from bottom to top)
Princess Slaw
Seared, rare tuna
Cilantro Wasabi Sauce
Garnishes: Sesame seeds and Cilantro


Princess Slaw
(titled because of the royal purple cabbage)

1 head of purple cabbage-chopped
1 bag of regular cole slaw mix
sunflower seeds-as many as you want
Garlicky Vinaigrette….
….3/4 cup olive oil, 3 cloves garlic-minced, tablespoon red or white wine vinegar, teaspoon onion powder, juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper to taste…whisk all ingredients together and pour over the slaw mixture…let sit for a while in fridge.

Seared Tuna

About a 1 lb. tuna steak (make sure it's super fresh!)
Splash vegetable oil into a sautee pan and get it really hot on the stove (medium-high heat)
Squeeze lemon juice onto the steak and add sea salt, pepper and ginger powder
Throw that tuna baby into the pan and sear for a few minutes on each side…until there is a nice browned color on the outside, but plenty of pink left on the inside.
Remove from pan and slice thinly.

Cilantro Wasabi Sauce
(recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart)

1/2 cup light Mayo
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
2 to 3 teaspoons wasabi paste
1 tablespoon ginger powder
salt and pepper to taste
-In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. If it turns out too thick, add water until you reach desired consistency.


On a large platter of your choice, create a bed of slaw.  Next, arrange tuna slices in an eye-pleasing way.  Drizzle with cilantro wasabi sauce…the more the better!  Garnish with sesame seeds and more chopped cilantro.  Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Today we are focusing on breakfast…potato- and chicken-related (as in eggs) dishes.

A quick Biology lesson:
Since having pet hens (female chickens), Lauren gets asked a lot about the absence of a rooster (male chicken).  The question: How do your chickens lay eggs without a rooster?
Well the answer is…Hens can lay eggs while being virgins.  You need a rooster if you want procreation of chickens.  You don't need a rooster if you just want unfertilized eggs to eat.  Very organic!

Lauren's method of trying to catch chickens and Erica has found fresh eggs in the laying box!


We decided to flex our veggie-innovative skills with different kinds of hash….and we're not talking about a cannabis product.  We specialize in the kind of hash you eat at breakfast or brunch….not the kind you smoke.  Sorry to disappoint.

Lauren's "Southwest Style Sweet Potato Hash"- for 2

1 shredded sweet potato (we used a cheese grater)
1/2 onion diced
1 chopped red bell pepper
1/2 can of black beans drained
juice from 1/2 lime
pinch cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs (compliments of Cindy Crawford)
cheddar cheese 
Start by cooking the shredded sweet potato in a skillet with olive or vegetable oil until soft. Add the onion and pepper and continue cooking. I used a cast iron skillet and covered it while the onions and peppers were cooking,  about 5-10 minutes.  Then remove lid and add black beans and seasoning (cumin, salt, pepper, lime juice) to taste. Continue cooking until it starts to get a little crispy, or you just think it's done.  Fry 2 eggs, serve the hash onto 2 plates, top with shredded cheese, then the eggs, a little more cheese, a little more lime juice and cilantro to garnish.  It is great served with Lauren's southwest Tzatziki sauce (recipe below) and corn chips.
Southwest-style Tzaziki Sauce
1 cup Greek Yogurt
Handful chopped Cilantro
juice of one lime
2 cloves minced garlic
Garlic salt to taste
*Note: The reason she calls it Tzaziki sauce is because the usual Greek version (that comes on your gyro) is made from Greek yogurt, an herb or two, lemon juice, and garlic.  Lauren just mixed it up to make it fit the Southwest theme.  You could formulate your own based on whatever theme dish you're doing.  It makes a great dipping sauce!

Erica's Fajita Hashbrowns

1 bag of pre-cooked frozen hashbrowns (or if you are as ambitious as lauren and prefer to do it from scratch, feel free to peel and shred a potato)
Chopped mushrooms
1/2 onion
1 bell pepper (I used parts of red and orange bell peppers)
Any other veggies you have in your fridge (I used the rest of lauren's cilantro and a jalapeƱo)
Combine in a skillet with olive oil and cook until browned with salt and pepper
And of course…top with cheese!

Apple Dessert Hash

1 peeled and shredded (with a cheese grater) apple
sprinkling of cinnamon, however much you want
fresh squeezed orange juice (literally squeeze the orange over it)
1/2 tablespoon butter
dollop of Greek Yogurt
a few Craisins
Melt butter in the skillet over med-high heat.  Add apple/cinnamon/orange juice mixture and cook until browned.  Transfer to a plate and top with dollop of yogurt, more cinnamon, Craisins and a drizzle of honey.
This one is Kid-approved!

Chickens at the door!
These girls want some hash!
The black and white one is Duchess.  She is a Plymouth or Barred Rock breed.
The white one is Cindy Crawford.  She is a Leghorn.
The difference between these two is that Duchess is very quiet and humble while laying and Cindy Crawford squawks and screams like a diva.  Everyone knows real royalty is much classier than super models anyway.

Celebrity Encounter of the Day
Lauren with Kathryn Stockett, the Jackson-native author of the best-selling novel-turned-movie The Help.  We're sure this southern girl knows something about  free-range chickens and breakfast hash!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Behold! The Jerusalem Artichoke!

    The Jerusalem artichoke is also called sunroot, sun choke, earth apple, or topinambour.  It is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America.  -Definition from Wikipedia

Lauren recently tried a new restaurant in town called The Manship.  This is where she discovered this heavenly tuber.  This is her account:
"I was sitting with my husband at this nice new restaurant, completely unaware that I was about to taste a life changing root vegetable.  The foods were a la carte, so we ordered duck confit, seared scallops, potatoes au gratin, and then, wanting to try something different, opted for something called "Jerusalem Artichokes".  

The root looks like a cross between a potato and ginger root. The texture is somewhere between potato and regular artichoke.  The chef had cooked it to tenderness perfection with flavors that I couldn't quite figure out (for duplicating at home).  So I began to grill the waiter.  I asked him how they cook it and wasn't satisfied with his short answer.  He tried to walk away but I was saying something like this: How do you cook it? What do you season it with? Garlic? Sea salt? What man? Please please? (maybe a slight exaggeration-but you get the idea)  Lucas had to stop me.  Once freed, our poor waiter scurried off to other tables and Lucas laughingly said: "Lauren, he's just the waiter, not the cook.  I mean, he just picks up our plates once they're ready."  I totally neglected the scallops and everything else.  I was obsessed and continued to rave about them the whole time I was eating them.  
Crazy Vegetable Lady!
During our meal, it had begun to rain outside.  But undeterred, I asked Lucas to stop by Whole Foods so I could bring home my own delectable tubers to cook.  There I was, a vegetable-obsessed woman, splashing through puddles in her suede heels to get into the market.  Unfortunately, they didn't have them. So I got wet for nothing.  However, Fresh Market did have them and I couldn't wait for Erica and I to cook our own version of the Jerusalem Artichoke!"

So without further ado, here it is, Lauren's approximation of the Jerusalem artichokes at The Manship:

Manship Chokes
Steam chokes in a microwave-safe bowl with a splash of water and covered with cling wrap for 5 minutes-or until completely tender.
Toss steamed chokes in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 pinches sea salt, and any spices you like…I used Tuscan seasoning blend (rosemary and sun-dried tomato) and oregano.
Throw those root-babies in a hot pan on the stove and sautee until the garlic is browned and fragrant and you just can't wait any longer to devour them.

We tested it on some men and got a "not bad" and a "this would be good with ribs".  So, I think the recipe was successful!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mamma Mia! Pizza Pizza!

WARNING:  After reading this post, you may experience recurrent and very annoying bouts of singing lines from Dancing Queen in your head for days….'you can dance, you can jive'...yada yada yada!

Tonight we are making pizzas while, you guessed it, listening to Abba music.  I don't know for sure, but feather boas may be involved.

Pizza dough recipe below (courtesy of Martha Stewart):
Note-depending on the theme of the pizza, we like to choose a spice to knead into the dough (Ex: Lauren's pizza has somewhat California-inspired flavors…so we kneaded cumin into the dough for that pizza).  Also, we cook out dough for about 10 minutes before adding the toppings…just so it can set and be a firm foundation for your creativity.  We baked all pizzas at 400 degrees, until the cheese was bubbly.

Erica's Pizza

Mediterranean Mamma Mia
Tomato pizza sauce-however much you want
Shredded mozzarella cheese-however much you want
Handful of baby spinach
Sliced mushrooms
Sliced mini sweet peppers or regular bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow)
Diced fresh tomato
1 pack feta cheese
Sprinkle crushed red pepper on the top and baked
After baking, drizzle with honey
-This pizza has a beautiful sweet and spicy flavor

Lauren's Pizza

Lean Green Dancing Queen
Avocado pizza sauce: 2 avocados, 2-3 cloves of garlic, juice from 1 line, handful of spinach, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Throw all of these ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Start by spreading the avocado pizza sauce on the slightly cooked dough.
Cover with tomato slices
Chopped red onion
Cheese of choice (we used cheddar and mozzarella)
Bake until the cheese is melted and garnish with chopped cilantro

Meet our friend, Anne Cross.
She is a very talented lady and a lover of the Beatles.  Among her talents are the following: teaching English and literature, planning and leading international trips, acting in and directing plays, being the mom of two very successful adult children (one of them being Erica's boyfriend), and introducing Lauren to the broadway play, "Mamma Mia!" in London…and then singing the songs in the hotel elevator!
Anne was Homecoming Queen.  Some people still call her Queen Anne.  

Here is our Queen Anne Pizza:

Dough, of course
Pizza sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Pineapple slices
Red onions
Cilantro to garnish

We had as much fun making these pizzas and dancing to Abba, as we did eating them.
We hope you enjoyed reading about our pizza night and feel inspired to create some of your own.  Thanks for reading and tell your friends about 2 Cooking Chicks.  Until next time, "see that girl, watch that scene, dig it the dancing queen"!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Smoothie Lingo

So Dan Aykroyd has been in town filming a movie about James Brown, called "Get on Up".  You'd think with filming, he wouldn't have time for anything else…but he just wouldn't quit stalking Erica!  I mean, here he is photo bombing Erica's picture:

A scene being filmed in Lauren's neighborhood!

But enough about Dan Aykroyd and our many celebrity sightings.  Today we have decided to extend our healthy recipe blog to include fruit and vegetable smoothies.  Just like slaw recipes, smoothie options are endless and a great way to get all kinds of nutrients (especially when you are on the go).  Over the last few days we have blended together several combinations of fruits and veggies.  Some have been a huge success, and some, not so much. i.e. KALE (a touchy subject on this blog) does not blend well. 

Smoothie Vocabulary
Kefir-originally a European smoothie, it is a probiotic yogurt drink that is good for digestive health, a good source of calcium and protein, and comes in several yummy flavors (strawberry, peach, pomegranate, and blueberry to name a few).  "The word Kefir is thought to have been derived from the Turkish word, "Keif" for "good feeling"."-the side of the Kefir bottle
Assorted frozen fruit-this is like fruit that is frozen and in a bag in your local grocery store freezer.  Frozen cherries are our favorite!
Spinach (not just for Popeye)-you've had it drilled into you a million times how healthy leafy greens are to consume.  If its a chore for you to add that into your diet, why not blend it into a smoothie so you don't even taste it?  It really does make a difference in how you feel after taking in a huge amount of nutrients.  Unless of course, you're on Coumadin…then use caution with spinach consumption (advice from our doctor men).
Good Belly- This is a non-dairy probiotic vegan juice drink. Enough said. Also can be found at your local grocery store.
Banana/Avocado-the element of the smoothie that creates a creamy texture and adds a rich flavor.  Also, avocados are known for protein content and bananas help with Charlie Horses (those agonizing muscle complaints you sometimes get at 2:00 in the morning-especially pregnant girls!).
Red Cabbage-there was once a Reader's Digest article about 'eating by color'.  Ever since reading that article, Lauren has had a sort of phobia of the "beige" diet.  Foods that have color (the deeper the better) have antioxidants that fight cancer and do loads of other health-beneficial tasks.  This cabbage is significant for it's vibrant color.  Throwing it into a smoothie is just another way to strive for cancer prevention…more vainly-wrinkle and ugliness prevention, etc.
Flaxseed-some substance that apparently is high in Omega-3 fatty acids.  People who want to reduce their risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes will consume this small anticlimactic-looking seed.  

Lauren's smoothie:

The Nate Ruess
1 cup Kefir (we used strawberry flavored)
1 cup of frozen blueberries
1 cup finely chopped red cabbage
1 tablespoon of Flaxseed
(makes about 2 servings)


Erica's smoothie:

The Ghostbuster
Fill the blender with spinach (this may look like a lot but it will blend down)
1/2 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of frozen mango or pineapple 
1 cup of Kefir
Splash of orange juice

For the busy mom, smoothies are a great way to introduce fruits and vegetables into your children's diet.  
Disclaimer: Smoothies are not an easy cleanup and difficult to get off of the ceiling and or walls if your child decides to spit it out in a helicopter fashion.

 Beet Smoothie face paint??

Recently, Dan Aykroyd joined the Jackson Police Department.

Thanks to that, we can blend our smoothies in peace, without fear of harassment from the many Jackson vagrants out there.  Thanks, Dan Aykroyd.  We will name a smoothie after you.

If you are a veggie and fruit smoothie skeptic, that's okay.  Lives can be lived in worse ways.  Let us just tell you though, that when you get in the habit of sneaking in all these extra nutrients and antioxidants to your diet, you will notice increased levels of: energy, confidence, sense of wellbeing and an overall healthier feeling.  Trust us, you really don't even taste the veggies once the delicious Kefir and frozen fruit flavors are added in!  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Butternut Who?

Is it possible to be inspired by…kale?  Honestly, I have a love/hate, mostly hate relationship with kale.  I know it will benefit me to consume it, but something about it just…I don't know.  But inspired and empowered I was by the phenomenon of the Kale Pesto Pasta sauce.  I believed I was Vegetable-Pasta-Sauce Superwoman.  So I took it a step further….
There was a lonely butternut squash hanging out on my kitchen counter for a few weeks that needed to be used and needed friends, such as sage, walnuts, parmesan cheese and dried cranberries.  I knew all these flavors were great together from previous recipes.  But what canvas on which to paint these flavors, you may ask?  How about whole wheat Penne?

Butternut Squash Pasta
1 butternut squash (peeled, chopped, steamed in the microwave until soft-in a large bowl with a spash of water and covered with clear wrap)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
-Put all these in the blender and blend until smooth.
1 package whole wheat penne pasta-boiled by package instructions
-Once pasta is boiled toss in the butternut squash mixture.  Serve topped with as much as you want of the following:
Parmesan cheese
Toasted chopped walnuts
Chopped sage
Dried cranberries

This recipe makes quite a lot, so I would recommend storing it in a large tupperware and waiting until right before serving to add the beautiful toppings.