Bagels a la Heather

Sometimes I get recipe ideas from the weirdest places. In this case that place was, “Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me.”

Chelsea Handler is hilarious and apparently the world’s greatest liar. Her coworkers and friends – who wrote this book together about the times she’s full-blown made up the most ridiculous stories ever, which they believed 100% – seem like they love her despite this. And “Lies  That Chelsea Handler Told Me” is just another in the series of Chelsea Handler books that made me laugh out loud. 

In a small paragraph written by Chelsea’s coworker and panelist Heather McDonald about her breakfast, though, I read:  “You slice the bagel, scoop out all the carb-infested middle, then toast what’s left, and pile on light cream cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and a hint of fresh lemon juice. You get all the crunch and flavor with half the calories!” This, of course, spoke straight to my heart. 

My parents had this gorgeous dinner party last night, and Brendan and I slept over afterwards, and for breakfast this morning I came down to the bagels and coffees for us from my dad. My parents had everything for these Heather McDonald bagels in their fridge, so there you go. I wasn’t feeling great so I made these, got a glass of fresh-pressed OJ and went upstairs to have breakfast in bed, which was exactly what I needed. When’s the last time you had breakfast in bed? Make this and Treat Yo’ Self.

– Bagel
– 1 tbsp. capers, chopped
– 2 tbsp. cucumbers, chopped
– 2 tbsp. tomatoes, chopped
– thin layer of cream cheese
– squeeze of lemon

1. Scoop out the “carb-infested middle” of the bagel. Toast.


2. Add a thin layer of cream cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes and capers. Top with a squeeze of lemon and enjoy.

Zucchini Lasagna with Ground Turkey

AKA, “a compromise.”  It’s no secret how much I love pasta, but sometimes you’ve gotta find a middle ground. This replaces noodles with baked parmesan-dusted zucchini strips (which honestly, I would eat as a snack on their own, because they were fantastic), adds protein with some ground turkey, reheats amazingly well and will keep for a few days, too. It’s a perfect make-ahead meal which you can then just throw into the oven and have it ready in 30-40 minutes flat. AND i used a mandoline for the first time and didn’t slice off one or more of my fingers, so you know, win/win.

– 4 zucchini, mandolined into approx. 1/4 inch flat strips
– 1 lb. ground turkey
– 1 small vidalia onion
– 3 tbsp. EVOO
– 2 cups pasta sauce
– 12 oz. shredded mozzarella
– 2 cups italian breadcrumbs
– 1 cup freshly grated parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Wash the zucchini, then slice it into 1/4 inch flat strips (uniform size). Lay all the zucchini on paper towels, then sprinkle with kosher salt. Let sit for about 15 minutes, then flip and sprinkle the other side with kosher salt, let that sit for 15 minutes too. This will drain out a ton of water and you won’t end up with soggy zucchini lasagna. 

3. Rinse the salt off the zucchini and dry really well. Coat with a tiny bit of olive oil. 

4. Combine about 1/3 c. parmesan and the bread crumbs.  Coat each slice of zucchini with the breadcrumb mixture, then place in one layer on (a couple of) baking sheets which you’ve sprayed with baking spray. 

5. Bake zucchini for about 30 minutes, flipping once, until golden and fairly crispy.

6. While zucchini is cooking, dice the onion. Cook in 1 tbsp. EVOO until onion is translucent in a large pan over medium heat. Remove onion and set aside, then cook the turkey in the same pan until browned and cooked through. Remove and combine with the onion.

7. In a lasagna pan, dot a bit of sauce to make a thin bottom layer. Place one layer of  zucchini on top of the sauce like you would place noodles, then add a layer of the turkey/onion. Sprinkle mozzarella & parm over the top of this. 

8. Repeat this sequence: sauce, zucchini, turkey/onion, mozz/parm, until you’ve reached the end of the zucchini. Add a little more sauce and the rest of the mozz/parm.

9. Bake, covered, for about 15 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 15 or so, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted and golden. 

10. Let stand for 10 minutes, then cut and serve, preferably on a table with the gorgeous 2-for-$5 bunches of flowers you got at the farmer’s market.

The Best Dressing Ever? Ever.

I tend to get a little obsessed with certain things. I can remember being younger and taping a song I loved off the radio (most likely, something by En Vogue, Richard Marx, or PM Dawn…yeah, yeah. It was the ’90s.) and playing it over and over until I’d start to get sick of it, then not be able to listen to it at all, then putting it away for a couple months, and then digging it out, listening to it and thinking “Why in the world did I ever stop listening to this??”, and repeating the cycle. Also – for those of you who remember trying to perfectly tape a song off the radio, props to you as it took serious skillz to capture the beginning and end of the song at just the right times before the DJ came back on and ruined it. This mp3 generation has no idea how much fun they’re missing out on.

Anyway, I did the same thing with books (David Sedaris and Chuck Klosterman? Check.). Same thing with Netflix – I realize that I should probably have more shame in admitting I binge-watched all 4 seasons of Breaking Bad in a week and a half just to catch up to the second half of season 5 and be able to watch the final episode in real time. But…I don’t. That show was awesome.

And, of course, food. I went through a meatball phase, a black olive phase, an artichoke phase, and I’m pretty sure I’ll always be in an avocado and feta phase.

But this dressing. This. Dressing.  It’s incredible. I want to put it on everything. I want to eat it with a spoon straight out of the jar. It’s creamy without being fattening, unbelievably flavorful, actually healthy, has the perfect texture, is a little tangy and packs a bit of heat, too. It’s fantastic. It’s a game-changer. If this is a phase, it’s one I never want to end.

THE BEST DRESSING EVER (adapted almost exactly from the gorgeous “It’s All Good”)
– 1/4 c. lime juice (2-3 limes – use a citrus reamer to get the most juice as possible)
– 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
– 1 tsp. honey
– 5 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
– 1/2 smaller jalapeno, seeded and diced
– 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
– 6 oz. plain Greek yogurt
– 1/3 C. EVOO

1. Prep everything. Don’t skip the jalapeno – I hate spicy things but this amount of heat is perfect, perfect, perfect. Just make sure you wash your hands really well after cutting it!

2. Combine everything in a food processor (in order of ingredients listed) or a blender until well combined.

3. Store in a mason jar – this will keep for a week, or 2 days if you love it as much as we do.  Meet my latest obsession.  <3

Lightened-up Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Bake


Last Saturday was such a tease – almost 60 degrees and sunny – perfect for Scranton’s Parade Day (the second largest parade in the country!). The Irish in this area apparently have some serious pull, because right after Parade Day, the cold came again – snow flurries, winds whipping, etc.  Perfect for some end-of-winter comfort food. This cheesy chicken & broccoli bake was an incredibly rich-tasting meal for how little actually went into it.  I know a lot of these recipes can use a ton of butter, heavy cream, or even a block of Velveeta, but here, butter is used sparingly, and making a little “roux” to start really thickens the sauce on its own. 2% milk and some organic chicken broth combine to make the cheese sauce really deep and flavorful. Also, this takes about fifteen minutes tops to throw together, so you can have a fresh, hot meal on the table in less than an hour. We had this over a little orzo, but pasta would also work, or even quinoa.  

– 1 lb. chicken, diced into bite-sized pieces
– 12 oz. broccoli florets, steamed until bright green (or frozen, and totally unthawed)

– 2 cups grated cheddar, or cheese of choice
– 4 tbsp. butter
– 3 tsbp. flour
– 1 cup 2% milk
– 1 cup chicken broth
– 2 pinches nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp kosher salt
– couple of grinds black pepper
– 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1. Pre-heat oven to 350.

2. Rub a little olive oil around the base of a casserole dish.

3. Add broccoli & chopped chicken to the casserole dish, mix to combine.
4. Get your “roux” started.  A roux is a thickener for recipes, and also acts as a base for creating a deeper sort of flavor from whatever you’re adding to it. To start, melt 3 tbsp. butter over medium heat.  Then, whisk in 3 tbsp. flour, and continue to whisk while the mixture changes consistency, color, and smell.  It should start to become a golden color, almost a light brown, and smell kind of nutty.

5. At this point, whisk in the milk and chicken broth – Pacific makes a fantastic organic chicken broth in a convenient 4-pack of 1-cup boxes – and raise heat just to a boil, continuing to mix.  
6. Reduce heat to a low bubble, and whisk constantly – approx. 2 minutes.  The mixture will start to feel (and look) thicker.  When it reaches this point, remove from the heat and whisk in nutmeg, salt, & pepper.  

7. Whisk in the cheese.  For this recipe, I used 2 Laughing Cow Babybel  cheddar cheeses, and 3 of their Bonbel mini cheeses.  It’s up to you whatever cheese you’d like to use, though!
8. Pour cheese mixture over the chicken and broccoli mix in the casserole dish, stir well to combine and coat.

9. In a saucepan, melt the remaining tbsp. of butter.  When melted, add the cup of panko breadcrumbs, and stir to cover the breadcrumbs with the butter.
10. Evenly top the broccoli/chicken/cheddar mix with the breadcrumbs.   

11. Bake at 350 for approx. 30 – 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  (Optional) Ten minutes before this is done, top with a little more grated cheese, and let melt on top of the casserole.
12. Let cool a bit, serve over orzo/pasta/quinoa, and enjoy.