July 12, 2021: Pasta Night: Penne alla Vodka
Jul 18th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website my sister Alex and I started more than five years ago to talk about cooking, food, and helping hungry people.  To read more about the charities we support, our adventures on Chopped Junior and the website, scroll down to About Kids Cook Dinner. To see what we’re cooking right now, just stay here.

Tonight I wanted to make Penne Alla Vodka, one of my favorite kinds of pasta.  This recipe is based on Colu Henry’s Pasta Alla Vodka available at I really like this recipe because it has pancetta in it.  You can leave it out if you want to, but I really like the taste.

The ingredients for the sauce are straightforward.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta (optional)
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced or 1 teaspoon pre-chopped, bottled garlic
  • One 28 ounce can of crushed or chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving


For the pasta, you need one pound of penne pasta.  (Alex wanted to try a new low calorie, high protein pasta so I made a pot of that, as well as a pot of regular penne, so we could have a taste test.)


The first step is to saute the pancetta in the olive oil  until crispy brown and start a pot of water boiling (or if you are taste testing two kinds of pasta…obviously start two pots of water boiling.)


2. The second step is to add your chopped onions and garlic to the saucepan with the pancetta and cook until the onions are translucent, about five minutes.  Turn off the heat if using a gas stove, add the vodka, and then turn heat back on to low and cook till the liquid is reduced by half,


Stir in the tomatoes and swish about half a can of water in the tomato can to pick up the remaining tomatoes. Add no more than half of that liquid and simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Meanwhile, add your penne to the boiling water if you haven’t already.  Note, if you are using chopped tomatoes instead of crushed ones, your sauce will be a little chunky. Either break it up with your spatula or, if you really want a smooth sauce, puree the chopped tomatoes in a blender before adding.


Add the cream, stir, and cook for about a minute (and keep track of your pasta!)


Once the pasta is done, drain and return to the pot to keep warm.  Here are photos of the two types of pasta; they look almost identical but the “light” pasta is actually lighter in color.


Regular Pasta above


Light, Enhanced Protein Pasta above

When the vodka sauce is ready, set up your serving station and let your guests choose their penne and chow down.

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I tried both types of penne and, while they were very similar, I preferred the regular pasta.



Wednesday, June 16, 2021: Turkey Sloppy Joes
Jun 22nd, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website my sister and I started five years ago to talk about kids cooking, healthy food, and the issue of hungry people. COVID has only made food scarcity a bigger problem so please consider donating to a hunger-relief charity or even a local food bank.  Scroll down to the About Us  page to learn more about the hunger-relief charities we support.

Tonight I am making Turkey Sloppy Joes because I want to make sure I practice making some of my favorite family meals (since I’m going to college in the fall).  This is a very straightforward, 4-step recipe, especially if you can find pre-chopped onions and carrots:

Here’s what you need:

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And here’s the recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Sloppy Joe recipe)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 carrots, coarsely chopped or grated
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove minced.
  • 3 tablespoons tomato pasta
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 15 ounce cans crushed  tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional, but good if you have it)
  • 4 hamburger buns (brioche = best)

Step 1: chop your carrots and onions (even if you brought them already chopped, they probably need to be chopped more finely.

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Step 2: heat the oil at medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and carrots and cook until soft, then add the garlic (if you add it too early, it may get too brown.) Salt and pepper.


Step 3: add the tomato paste and cook for one minute, then add the turkey, breaking it up with a spatula, until no longer pink (about 4-5 minutes).

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Step 4: finally add the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, and Worcestshire sauce. Cook for 12-14 minutes, stirring once in a while until thickened.


Serve over your brioche buns.  (Note Koko’s photo-bomb)


May 10, 2021: Crème Brûlée
May 11th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a site my sister Alex and I (Max),  started in 2015 to talk about healthy food, kids’ cooking, and how to help hungry people. To learn more about why we started the site and what hunger-relief charities we support, please scroll down a bit to the “About Kids Cook Dinner…Chopped Junior” page and consider donating to a hunger-relief charity.  We recommend Feeding America, Action Against Hunger, or if you’re local in NYC, City Harvest.  (Click the name of the charity to donate.) COVID has made hunger even worse both in the United States and worldwide,  so please if you are able to, think about donating to support hungry families.

Although I have been focusing on cooking meals that don’t require many ingredients (since I am heading to college soon), today I really craved Crème Brûlée.  I also wanted to use the butane torch that has been sitting in our cupboard since the last time Alex and I made this dessert. (That was five years ago, for Valentine’s Day, 2016.  I can’t believe my mom let a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old use a butane torch!) Anyway, this recipe is courtesy of Mark Bittman and The New York Times and is simple and delicious.  If you don’t have the butane torch, you can use the oven broiler, but the torch is more fun.

Here are the ingredients you need:

  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 5 Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar (plus more for caramelization
  • 1/8 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla


You will also need some enamel ramekins.  The recipe calls for four 6-ounce ramekins, but I used six 4-ounce ramekins since that’s what we had.


The first step is to preheat the oven to 325 degrees, heat water in a teapot, and find a shallow rectangular pan to eventually place the ramekins in.

Then heat the cream and salt on low just until hot.


Meanwhile, separate the 5 egg yolks and beat them with the 1/2 cup sugar until light.

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Stir one cup of the hot cream into the sugar-egg mix, beat, and then pour the sugar egg mix in the remaining cream and beat.

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Carefully pour the combined mix in the ramekins and place in the rectangular pan.


Move the pan as close to the oven (to minimize how far you have to carry it).  Add the boiling water to the pan with the ramekins, about halfway up the sides of the dishes.


Bake for 30-40 minutes till centers barely set.  Remove the ramekins from the baking pan and let cool for several hours.  You could also prepare this a day ahead and keep well covered in the fridge.


When ready to serve, sprinkle each custard with a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer.  Carefully read the instructions of your butane torch if you are using one!  (If you don’t have a torch, broil in the oven for 3-5 minutes but keep a close watch on them.)


Then fire away! (This was the best part of the recipe)

Our torch was really powerful.  I realized I needed to move it around a bit more: otherwise, some areas would get a little too brown.

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Decorate with fresh berries if you have them (they can also hide brown spots).



April 21, 2021: Sheet Pan Chicken with Paprika and Tomatoes
Apr 25th, 2021 by Max Koster

Hi Welcome to, a site my sister Alex and I (Max),  started in 2015 to talk about healthy food, kids’ cooking, and how to help hungry people. To learn more about why we started the site and what hunger-relief charities we support, please scroll down a bit to the “About Kids Cook Dinner…Chopped Junior” page and consider donating to a hunger-relief charity.  Feeding America, a charity we support, projects that 42 million people (1 in 8), including 13 million children (1 in 6) will experience food insecurity in 2021 due to the economic impact of COVID-19, so every dollar donated helps… and that’s just in the United States.  It’s even worse worldwide so please if you are able to, think about donating to support hungry families.

I am heading to college soon, so Alex will be taking over the website, but I’m focused on learning (and remembering) simple meals to cook.  So tonight I interpreted another “sheet pan dinner” from The New York Times, “Sheet-Pan Chicken with Jammy Tomatoes and Pancetta” by Melissa Clark.   I always change things up, but maybe I made too many changes because this wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.


The ingredients are as follows:

  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a bit more for drizzling)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil for serving.

First, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Salt and pepper the chicken on a plate.


Smash all the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and finely mince the largest one.  Combine the minced garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, oregano, and cumin in a medium bowl.


Pour over the chicken, mix till chicken coated, and then put the chicken on a sheet pan.


In the bowl that you mixed the garlic, lemon juice, paprika, etc. (and which is now empty) add the tomatoes and the remaining 9 smashed cloves of garlic. Salt and pepper them, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and add to the sheet pan.


Sprinkle the pancetta on top of the tomatoes/garlic.

Put the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes: then toss the tomatoes/garlic/ pancetta, and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown.


To plate, transfer the chicken first to the plates. Then stir the tomatoes/pancetta/ garlic (add salt and pepper if necessary) on the sheet pan and spoon it over the chicken. Top with shredded basil.  I also cooked some pasta to go with it.

max paprika chicken,final

OK: I have to be honest: I didn’t love this dish, and maybe it’s my fault because I added a bit more paprika than Melissa Clark recommended (I would cut it to 1/2 teaspoon), but it was definitely edible and you have to try new stuff.  But next time I’m just cooking steak and potatoes!

Saturday, April 10, 2021: Crispy Gnocchi with Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil
Apr 11th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website I (Max) started with my sister Alex 5 years ago to talk about kids’ cooking, healthy eating, and the challenge of hunger worldwide.  To learn more about why we started the site and what hunger-relief charities we support, please scroll down a bit to the “About Us” page and consider donating to a hunger-relief charity.  Feeding America, a charity we support, projects that 42 million people (1 in 8), including 13 million children (1 in 6) will experience food insecurity in 2021 due to the economic impact of COVID-19, so every dollar donated helps.

As I prepare for college next year,  I plan on handing over complete control of this site to Alex.  However, in the meantime, I am focusing on cooking simple one-sheet or one-pan dishes, with minimal ingredients, since I know next year I won’t have the luxury of my parents’ well-equipped kitchen when I get hungry for home-cooked meals.  Because of this, a recipe in this weekend’s New York Times from Ali Slagle appealed to me.  Tonight’s dinner is largely based on her recipe for Crispy Gnocchi With Burst Tomatoes and Mozzarella.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 1 Tablespoon, plus more as needed, of olive oil
  • 1 12-18 ounce package of either shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Teaspoon storebought minced garlic  (OK to use fresh minced garlic but use 2 cloves)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-pint grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup thinly sliced basil leaves (optional)
  • 6 Ounces of fresh mozzarella cut in 1/4 inch thick rounds


The first step is to heat the broiler with a rack 6-8 inches below the heat source. Then, in a 12-inch oven-safe saucepan (i.e. stainless steel) heat the olive oil.  Make sure the oil coats the whole surface of the pan and add the gnocchi and spread evenly.  Cover and cook for 4 minutes.


Meanwhile thinly slice the basil.


Once the gnocchi are golden brown and crispy on one side, remove from the saucepan and add the butter to the pan.


Once the butter is melted and slightly brown, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons water.  Salt and pepper the mix.


Let the tomatoes cook for 5 minutes and when they start to soften, push down on them to make them burst.

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Add back the gnocchi, sprinkle with most of the basil (reserve a bit for garnish), and lay the mozzarella slices on top.

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Then the pan goes into the oven and broils for 1-2 minutes (until the mozzarella is melted and starting to brown). Keep an eye on the dish, as you don’t want the mozzarella to completely brown. Sprinkle your reserved basil on top and, as my mom always tells me, remember the handle of the pan is HOT.


And we are ready to eat! Delicious and truly a one-pot pasta dish: you don’t even have to boil water for the gnocchi.

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Sunday, March 14, 2021: Apple Pi Pie (because its Pi Day)
Mar 14th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website I (Max) started with my sister Alex to talk about food, kids cooking it, and world hunger.  To learn more about our website and the hunger-relief charities we support, scroll down to About To learn what we are cooking today, stay right here.

Today, because it’s Pi Day (March 14, or 3.14), we celebrated by making, of course, Apple Pi Pie.  (Pi, as most of you know, is the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle which is always approximately 3.14).  March 14 is also Albert Einstein’s birthday so that’s another reason to celebrate.  We don’t always celebrate Pi Day, but here are a couple of previous attempts:

Apple Pi Pie 2014

Apple Pi Pie 2014

Apple Pi Pie 2018

Apple Pi Pie 2018

For the apple pie, you need

  • 2 sheets of store-bought pastry*
  • 5 large apples
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons butter


*recipe for homemade piecrust is below if you want to make it from scratch.  Honestly, it’s better made from scratch.  Store-bought is more convenient but doesn’t taste as good. (Trader Joe’s is easy to use but tastes and looks a bit more like bread dough than pie crust.  Pillsbury is more pastry-like.)

To make Pi Pie, it helps if you have a Pi cookie cutter as well.  We have made it cutting out Pi shapes by hand, but that’s pretty difficult (see 2014’s attempt). Also, I recommend Gala apples: if you use more tart apples such as Granny Smith, you will need to increase the amount of sugar.

The first step is to thaw the pastry if it’s frozen.  Either leave in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for 45 minutes or so.


Once it’s thawed, roll each sheet out into a circle, keeping it between the wax paper if possible, and place it in the fridge to rest


Peel the apples, quarter, and slice thinly.



Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and stir into the apples.

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Then remove one of the pastry rounds from the fridge and place over a 9-inch pie pan.


Trim extra pastry from around the sides and fill with the apples.  Dot with cut up pieces of butter.


The next step is to prepare the top of the pie. Remove the other pastry round from the fridge and use your Pi cookie cutter to cut out a couple Pi shapes (or if no cookie cutter, cut by hand)

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Let the top rest in the fridge again and then place gently on top of the filling.  I also decorated the pie with the Pi shapes I had cut out.

Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 15 minutes and then turn down the heat and cook for another 30 minutes (checking every so often to make sure not to brown).

Happy Pi Day!


Ingredients for Pie Crust (if you want to make from scratch)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5-6 Tablespoons ice cold water

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Add the butter pieces and combine using a pastry cutter or 2 butter knives.  When the butter is in pea-sized pieces, add 5 tablespoons of butter and form into two balls.  Add additional water sparingly if needed.  Let two balls of pastry rest in the fridge for 15 minutes and then roll out into rounds and follow the directions above for making the pie.

Sunday, March 7, 2021: Slow Cooker Turkey Chili and Buttermilk Biscuits
Mar 7th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website my sister Alex and I started 5 years ago to post about learning to cook healthy food and the issue of world hunger.  With COVID-19 the issue of hunger has gotten even worse, so please consider donating to a hunger-relief charity such as Action Against Hunger (AAH): DONATE HERE.  To learn more about why we started the website and AAH, scroll down a few posts.  To see what we are cooking today…stay right here.

Turkey Chili

Today I decided to make turkey chili in the slow cooker. It’s really easy and only takes about 15 minutes of prep time.  (The recipe is loosely based on Laura KKH’s recipe on


Here are the ingredients you need:

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 (15 ounces) can of chopped tomatoes, juice included
  • 1 (15 ounces) can of red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounces) can of white kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounces) can of black beans, drained
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika*
  • 1/2 Teaspoon red chili flakes*
  • 1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder*
  • 1/2 Teaspoon ground cumin*
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*If you don’t have all these spices, just use 1 Tablespoon of chili powder instead, and if you want it spicier, double the chili flakes. The amount of red chili flakes here (1/2 teaspoon) will give you a little heat but not too much.

The first step is to heat the oil and cook the ground turkey until evenly brown.  I like to use a stainless steel pan because then I can use a metal spatula to break up any chunks.

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Meanwhile add the beans, tomatoes, and onions to the slow cooker pot. I bought pre-chopped onions which really made this easy.

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Using a slotted spoon, add the turkey to the slow cooker (to prevent too much of the cooking oil in there)

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Add your spices.


Let cook! 4-5 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

About 1/2 hour before serving, add the frozen corn.

Serve with rice and whatever toppings you like: we usually have it with sour cream, cheddar cheese, avocado or guacomole.


Buttermilk Biscuits

Hi, this is Alex.  Today I decided to make buttermilk biscuits because we had leftover buttermilk (I made red velvet cupcakes two days ago, which called for buttermilk, and we had a lot leftover.) There are a lot of good recipes online but I used one I found on Other than buttermilk, all the ingredients are typical baking ingredients.


Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Teaspoons sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 Cup cold buttermilk, plus more to brush tops of biscuits

The first step is to preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Then chop the cold butter into small cubes and put the cubes in the fridge to keep cool while you do the next step.


The next step is to whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt) and line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper).


Then add the butter cubes and cut them into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter.  If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can use 2 blunt knives working against each other.


Once the butter is mixed into small pea-sized pieces, add the cold buttermilk and gently work it until the dough comes together. I started with a spoon but ultimately had to use my hands. Form a ball, trying to incorporate all the crumbs.


Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Gently roll it into a rectangle and then fold it in thirds.  Turn it, flatten it into a rectangle and fold in thirds again. Repeat this one more time.


Then pat or roll it into a 1/2 inch rectangle.  Cut 2.5-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet.  When you are cutting, try not to twist just go straight down.  Combine any scrap pieces to make additional rounds but try to cut as many out the first time as possible as the more you work the dough, the less it may rise.  These will be a little free form but will taste great. You should get about 10 to 12 biscuits.

Brush the top with a little buttermilk and bake for 15 minutes.


Serve with butter, jam, or honey (or even with chili!).  For dessert: red velvet cupcakes which started this whole buttermilk episode.



Monday, February 23, 2020: Chicken Tikka Masala and Baked Feta & Veggies
Feb 26th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website my sister Alex and I (Max) founded several years ago to talk about good food, kids’ cooking, and the fact that so many people are still hungry!  To learn more about why we started the site, and the charities we support, scroll down a couple of posts to About Kids Cook Dinner.  To see what we are cooking tonight…stay right here.

Tonight I had grand plans to make Chicken Tikka Masala in the Insta-pot, accompanied by baked feta cheese with baby broccoli, tomatoes, and lemon.  However, given that it was a school night, and the Tikka Masala recipe looked like it actually was going to take a long time, I decided to try Trader Joe’s Tikka Masala “simmer’ sauce and focus on the sheet-pan baked feta.  This recipe is based on a recipe that was recently published in The New York Times (Yasmin Fahr).  The photo of it looked so delicious and really healthy, so I had to try it.  There is a bit of prep work but it’s otherwise pretty easy.

Baked Feta


Ingredients for the Baked Feta + Veggies are as follows:

  • 1 bunch of baby broccoli, thick stalks split lengthwise
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion, quartered into 2-inch wedges
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 (6 to 8 ounce) blocks of feta cut into 3/4 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup basil (optional)

The first step is to preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prep the vegetables.  The original recipe called for halving the grape tomatoes, but that’s not necessary.  They cook just fine if they are whole.

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Then on a sheet pan, spread the baby broccoli, tomatoes, onion, and lemons and toss with the olive oil,  cumin, (red pepper flakes if using), and salt and pepper.   Put the feta slices in with the vegetables.


Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring about halfway through, and then cook another 10 minutes until the broccoli is lightly charred and the tomatoes are starting to burst.


Top with the basil if using.


This can be served with orzo, farro, or rice: I chose rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala


Ingredients for the Tikka Masala are 2-3 pounds of chicken cut up into bite-size pieces and two jars of Tikka Masala sauce (obviously you can half the recipe if you don’t want leftovers, but we always want leftovers.)

This is pretty easy: really the only thing I had to do was cut up the chicken into bite-size pieces.


Then I combined the Tikka Masala simmer sauce with 2 cups of water, added the cut-up chicken, and simmered for 30 minutes.


I served the chicken with rice along with the roasted feta and vegetables.




Sunday February 7, 2021: Super Bowl Sunday!
Feb 8th, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to, a website that I (Max) started with my sister Alex five years ago to talk about food, encourage kids to cook, and raise awareness of world hunger.  To learn more about the history of the website, our adventures on Chopped Junior, and the charities we support, scroll down a few posts.  To see what we’re cooking tonight….stay right here.

Tonight we are celebrating Super Bowl Sunday.  We usually have a bunch of people over but obviously that’s not going to happen today thanks to COVID.  Nonetheless, we are making some excellent food and face-timing with some of the people with whom we usually celebrate.  I’m in charge of nachos, Alex is making brownies and mom will probably make something healthy (salad) that no one will eat.

I decided to make chicken nachos, and after looking at a few recipes online, decided to make the chicken in our Instapot.  If you don’t have an Instapot, you can make it in a slow cooker (but adjust the time), or you can buy an already cooked rotisserie chicken and use that.


For the chicken you will need:

  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups mild salsa
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
  • salt and pepper.

The first step is to squeeze the limes and add the juice to the Instapot.

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Then salt and pepper the chicken all over and add to the pot.

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Finally, pour the 2 cups of salsa into the pot, stir, and cook for 7 minutes at high pressure.  Standing back from the Instapot, quick release the pressure and check to see if the chicken is done by slicing into it.  If it is still pink, return to Instapot and cook for another 2 minutes on high pressure.  (I needed to cook mine for 2 more minutes)

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Once the chicken is fully cooked, shred it using two forks and return to the pot so it picks up the salsa flavor and stays moist.

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If you are using a rotisserie chicken, shred the chicken and mix with 1 to 1-1/2 cups salsa. You won’t need the limes.  I made the chicken in the morning and then waited till right before the game to put the nachos together:


To actually make the nachos, you will need:

  • One 15-ounce can of black beans
  • 12 ounces of cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1-1/2 pounds chicken (preferably the salsa cooked Instapot chicken, but rotisserie chicken mixed with salsa will also work)
  • One  jalapeno pepper
  • One 16-ounce bag of tortilla chips
  • 4 scallions (optional)
  • Sour cream, guacamole or avocados for serving

The first step here is to preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

Then prep the ingredients: drain and rinse the beans, grate the cheese if not already shredded, half the tomatoes and thinly slice the scallions and jalapeno.

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Build the nachos, arranging about half of the 16-ounce bag of chips on the baking sheet in an even layer.  Top with half of the salsa chicken and a handful of the cheese.  Put the remaining chips on top, followed by the rest of the chicken and cheese. Sprinkle with black beans.

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Bake the nachos in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted and the chips on the edge are starting to brown (about 8 minutes).  Just before serving garnish as you like…with additional beans, tomatoes, jalapeno, scallions and serve with sour cream and avocados or guacamole.

Here’s the before and after photos:



Hi, this is Alex.  I was in charge of brownies.  This recipe is amazing and very simple.  It’s originally from my grandmother Jean, who passed it to my mom, who tweaked it a bit and has passed it along to my brother and me.

Here are the ingredients you need:

  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup flour* (see note below)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

*if you want very fudgy brownies, only use 1/3 cup flour.  If you want brownies with a little more structure, use 1/2 cup flour.


The first step is to preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8 x 8 square pan. Then melt the butter and the bittersweet chocolate on very low heat, watching all the time (put the butter in the pan under the chocolate). You do not want this to burn.  Let cool till warm but not hot.


Beat the eggs together and then whisk in the sugar.  Once the chocolate-butter mix is cool enough, add to the eggs (if it is not cool enough, it will scramble the eggs, which is not what you want)

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Then mix in the vanilla and flour and pour into the greased pan.


Into the oven for 20 minutes.


Then once out of the oven, immediately sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips.  (Or, if like in our family, people have strong and divergent feelings about whether brownies should be frosted, only put chocolate chips on half the pan of brownies.)


The heat from the warm brownies will melt the chocolate chips and you can spread easily, making a wonderful chocolate frosting for the brownies.

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Voila!  Note, it’s usually a good idea to keep these covered in the fridge…otherwise, they are very very sticky.





Saturday, January 30, 2021: Slow Cooked Korean Beef
Feb 2nd, 2021 by Max Koster

Welcome to  I (Max) started this site with my sister Alex five years ago to talk about our cooking efforts and to raise awareness of world hunger.  We won $35,000 in a website contest and donated over half to Action Against Hunger, a hunger-relief charity.  (Our parents told us we had to save the rest of the money for college.)  To learn more about the history of the site, and the charities we support, scroll down a few posts.  To see what we’re cooking today, just keep reading.

Today was another cold January day and dad had bought 3 pounds of chuck roast, which is pretty inexpensive and has a lot of connective tissue in it.  It needs to cook a long time to dissolve that tissue so it’s traditionally used for pot roast (beef cooked with carrots and potatoes).  I didn’t want to do a traditional pot roast so I found a couple of recipes for Korean Pot Roast/Slow Cooked Korean Beef to try.  This recipe uses a slow cooker for this but you could probably also cook it in a large saucepan over low heat (or in the oven in a Dutch oven).  Note this recipe is inspired by Chungah’s recipe for slow cooker Korean been found here.


Ingredients were as follows:

  • 3 pounds of boneless chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated or minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds (optional)

The first step was to prep everything: cut the beef, mince the garlic, grate the ginger and measure everything.  The meat was tough to cut up: will definitely need to cook for a while in the slow cooker.


The next step was to whisk together the beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar onion powder, and pepper.


Then put the cut-up chuck roast in the slow cooker and pour the beef broth-soy sauce mixture over the top and give a good stir.

KoreanBeefinslow cooker   KoreanBeefTimer

Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, stirring from time to time.  When the time is up, and meat is very tender, turn off the cooker and let it cool. (The meat will have reduced in size dramatically)


Refrigerate overnight, if possible, so fat hardens (there will be a lot of it).  This is what it looked like in the morning. All the white stuff is fat.


Remove the fat (it’s about 1/4 inch thick and solid, so easy to do with a big spoon) and reheat.


I  served it over rice, sprinkle with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.  Delicious!




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