January 2007

I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner last night, which is very unlike me because I usually plan my week’s menus on Sunday prior to the week. So I took a look in the fridge and saw that I had an unopened package of prosciutto just waiting to be eaten. I also had some mozzarella cheese leftover from the chicken parm I made last week (see below). Hmm what to do? This is what I came up with…

Chicken Roll-Ups with Prosciutto and Cheese – Serves two

Pound 2 chicken breasts until 1/4 inch thick. Place a piece of prosciutto on top of the chicken and put a slice of mozzarella cheese on top. (I normally would have used fontina or a less melty cheese, but it was all I had)

Roll up the chicken and secure it in two places with a wooden toothpick.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Preheat a skillet to medium-high heat and add 1 tb. extra virgin olive oil.

Coat the roll ups in flour and place in the heated skillet. Brown the chicken on all sides, roughly 2-3 minutes per side.

Remove the roll-ups from the skillet and place in the oven for 10 minutes.

While the chicken is in the oven, add 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic to the skillet that had the chicken in it. Saute for 30 seconds, then add 1/2 c. white wine to the pan, 1 tbs. lemon juice and 1 tbs. butter. Bring the mixture to a boil so the wine evaporates and flavor concentrates, about four minutes.

Place the cooked chicken roll-ups back into the pan with the sauce and sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over it. Enjoy!



I know I sent a chicken parm recipe to my e-mail list about two months ago, but I wanted to post it so that others could enjoy it as well. I made this recipe last night with leftover homemade tomato sauce that I defrosted yesterday. Instead of making pasta as a side dish, I cooked spaghetti squash and it was just wonderful.

Spaghetti squash is rediculously easy to make. Cut the squash in half lengthways and scoop the seeds out. Place one half of the squash (cut side up) in the microwave for 15 minutes, scoop out the flesh with your fork, and serve with tomato sauce! I also added some parm cheese and freshly chopped parsley.

If you’re interested in being added to my weekly e-mail list, feel free to e-mail me at hillmanshelpings@gmail.com.

Chicken Parmesan – Serves 2

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking dish (doesn’t matter if it is aluminum or glass) with foil. This will help with clean-up after you eat.

Preheat a large sauté pan at medium-high heat with 1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil.

Coat two boneless, skinless chicken breasts with lightly beaten egg. Then dip the breasts into seasoned breadcrumbs (you can buy any brand at the grocery store).

Add the coated chicken to the heated sauté pan. You don’t want to move the chicken once you lay it in the pan because the coating will come off. Sauté until browned on one side – probably 3 minutes. Don’t worry about cooking the chicken all the way through – the baking will facilitate that.

Flip the chicken over and brown on the other side. Once browned, remove the chicken from the pan and place in your foil-lined baking dish. Coat each chicken breast with a generous amount of tomato sauce. Bake for 25-30 minutes, based on the thickness of the breast.

Note: Because the chicken is covered in sauce, it will stay moist throughout the baking process.

At the last 3 minutes of baking, add a few slices (or a handful of grated) mozzarella cheese to the tops of the chicken. Make sure the cheese is melted before you take it out of the oven.

Bon appetit!

Lauren’s Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce

Open two 28 oz. cans of whole-peeled tomatoes. Pour the cans into a large bowl. With your hands, break up the tomatoes into smaller chunks. (You may want to wear an apron during this part – the tomato juice tends to splatter)

Preheat a large stockpot with 1-2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil. Add 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 small chopped onion and 5 shakes of Italian seasoning (or dried thyme & oregano). Sauté this mixture until the onions are slightly translucent. If the garlic starts to brown, add more olive oil.

Add the tomato mixture, ½ cup white wine, two bay leaves, 1 tbs. sugar and 1 tbs. grated parmesan cheese to the pot.

Bring this mixture to a simmer and turn the heat to low. Simmer until the sauce evaporates some and is a bit thickened – 25-30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Eat!

Note: This recipe makes a very chunky tomato sauce. If you like a uniform sauce, use cans of pureed tomato instead of the whole-peeled tomatoes.

Sometimes when I make dinner I like to follow a theme. I know it sounds corny, but I enjoy it! When my boyfriend and I were in Paris last April, we went to a bistro near the Moulin Rouge that had the most amazing mussels. That dinner was the inspiration for my French-themed meal about a week ago; steamed mussels with shallots, white wine and butter, and french onion soup. It was the perfect remedy to the cold winter.

Today I’m providing the same mussel recipe, but instead of the french onion soup (which took a while, and was more difficult than it should have been) I’m giving you a Provencal chicken recipe that will hit the spot. I guarantee that you will love this meal. You can get mussels at any grocery store. They should only cost around $3 per pound – cheap right?

I’ve also upgraded my blog and have been trying to update more so check it out when you get a chance.


Lauren Hillman

Steamed Mussels with Shallots, White Wine and Butter
Serves 2

Put 1 pound of mussels in a colander and wash in cold water. Clean them with a soft brush and pull off their “beards” with a knife. Debearding is basically removing the coarse threads that are outside the shells. The byssal threads (or beard) connects the mussel to rocks or pilings in the sea.

Heat 1 tbs. butter in a large stock pot and add ½ cup of minced (finely chopped) shallots and 3 chopped garlic cloves. Add 1 cup sweet white wine (such as a Riesling) and bring to a simmer.

Add the cleaned (and debearded) mussels to the pot and cover. Let the mussels cook for about 7 minutes or until the shells have opened completely. Discard any unopened shells. Sprinkle the mussels with ½ c. chopped fresh parsley.

Serve with some crusty bread to sop up the yummy liquid.

Bon Appetit!

Provencal Chicken
Serves 2

Heat a skillet with 2 tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle 2 pieces of skinless, boneless chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken, roughly 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove the chicken and keep warm.

Add 1 clove of chopped garlic to the pan and cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly. add 1 cup. chicken broth and 1.5 tsp. Herbes de Provence (found in the spice aisle of your grocery store) and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the bits of chicken.

Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the broth has reduced to roughly 1/2 cup. Turn the heat off. Add 1 tsp. butter and 1 tsp. lemon juice. Stir until the butter melts. Serve the sauce over the chicken.

So my good friend Lauren and I share recipes a lot, and last week she sent along this recipe from Cooking Light that I just HAD to try. Overall it was super easy, fun and delicious. We added a pinch of cayenne pepper to the mixture before putting it into the ramekins just to give it a little kick.


Shrimp Potpies with Oyster Cracker Topping

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons brandy
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound cooked shrimp, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
Cooking spray
1 cup oyster crackers, coarsely crushed

Preheat oven to 400°.
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add brandy; cook 30 seconds. Stir in half-and-half, tomato paste, and clam juice; bring to a boil. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Add cornstarch mixture, parsley, salt, pepper, and shrimp to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Divide the shrimp mixture evenly among 4 (10-ounce) ramekins coated with cooking spray. Top each serving with 1/4 cup cracker crumbs. Arrange ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.


Today’s menu consists of something that I almost never cook with – pork! I have nothing against pork chops, tenderloin, etc. but growing up my mom never cooked it and I just never learned how, although it seems easy. I do love a few slices of bacon with my weekend breakfast. Actually, many people will be surprised to know that bacon is one of my favorite foods – give me bacon and hot dogs any day and I’ll be a happy girl!

I’m really excited that my friend Beej provided the recipes for today. Beej was my first friend who was into cooking and he was (and still is) an inspiration to me. He’s very creative and really puts heart (ok thought too, and good ingredients) into everything he cooks.


Lauren Hillman

Bone-In Pork Chops with Jack Daniels Barbecue Sauce and Smashed Sweet Potatoes
Serves Two


2 – Bone-In Pork Chops about 14oz each. Ask your butcher to “french” the bone. “Frenching” means to expose a piece of the bone and trim away any skin, meat and fat – basically for presentation.
3 – Sweet Potatoes or Yams
Barbecue Sauce (Use your favorite, I like the honey and cider from Williams-Sonoma)
1/4 cup Jack Daniels
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
Maple Syrup (DON’T use Pancake Syrup, make sure its actually real maple syrup from a tree)
2 tbs. butter, divided (meaning you don’t use them in the same step)
1/2 cup pecan pieces
Salt (I use large grain sea salt or Grey salt) and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Make sure to remove your pork chops from the refrigerator about an hour before cooking to allow for even cooking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and prick the sweet potatoes a few times so they don’t explode in the oven. Bake the sweet potatoes at 375 for about 40 minutes or until a knife comes out smoothly. Allow them to cool then slice in half and with a spoon scrape out the insides and reserve. Keep the oven on.

While the potatoes are baking, make your barbeque sauce. In a small saucepan add 1.5 cups of barbecue sauce, 1/4 cup Jack Daniels, 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1tbs butter and stir. Let mixture simmer for 5 minutes, and then remove from heat, but keep warm by covering it with a lid.

Preheat your grill pan to medium-high. Don’t worry! If you don’t have a grill pan you can use a skillet and your pork chops will turn out just fine. While the grill is preheating, rub extra virgin olive oil on both sides of the pork chops and season aggressively with salt and pepper. Grill (or sauté) each chop about 3-5 minutes per side while basting both sides with your barbecue sauce. Basting is just a fancy word for brushing the sauce on the meat (pork, in this case) while its cooking. It also flavors the meat and keeps it moist. Transfer the chops to oven for about 10 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 145 degrees or the chops still have a slight give to them. Remember not to overcook your pork or it will become tough and dry.

While the pork is cooking, in a small saucepan, melt 1 tbs. of butter. Add the sweet potato meat and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the brown sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup, pecans and a pinch of salt. Stir to incorporate.

To plate, spoon the remaining barbecue sauce into the center of the plate to form a 5″ circle. Add a heaping spoonful of sweet potatoes, and then place the pork chop on top at an angle.

Bon appetit!


I’m excited for today’s menu. The first recipe, Sesame Seared Tuna, is a no-brainer but looks very fancy. The second recipe, Oriental Pasta Salad, can be made as a side dish, but can also be used for an outdoor picnic, a main dish (just add some chilled shrimp or chicken) or whatever else you want it to be.

I have a new favorite food – soba noodles! I made a recipe from Cooking Light earlier in the week and couldn’t believe I’d been neglecting these delicious (and might I add healthy) noodles all this time! I document my education about soba noodles here.

I have so many friends that love to cook so I’ve decided to periodically ask them to be a ‘guest chef’ on Hillman’s Helpings. Next week, my good friend (who is also a personal chef and Baltimore-area caterer) Beej Flamholz will be lending his hand to Hillman’s Helpings. He’s really great – you don’t want to miss it!


Lauren Hillman

Sesame Seared Tuna
Serves 2

I has been my experience that tuna is one of the easiest fish to cook. Be sure to buy it from a reputable store (i.e. your local fish market and/or gourmet foods store) and you should be good to go.

Good tuna (yellowfin or bluefin) is usually around $20/pound but for this recipe you’ll only need 1/2 pound. Try and buy your tuna the same day you plan on making it, so it will be as fresh as possible.
Cut your tuna into two equal sized pieces. Place it in a marinade of your favorite teriyaki sauce (I use Yoshida’s sauce, which can be found in most grocery stores). Marinate the tuna for at least 30 minutes.

Put a combination of black and white sesame seeds on a plate (or paper towel), enough to cover both sides of both pieces of tuna, roughly 1/3 cup.

Heat 1 tb. vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the tuna from the marinade and press the sesame seeds on both sides so that they completely cover the tuna.

When the vegetable oil is hot, carefully place both pieces of tuna into the skillet. Don’t be alarmed if some of the sesame seeds pop out of the skillet – they are just reacting to the hot oil.

Keep a close eye on the tuna – you probably want to cook it for 2-3 minutes per side, depending on how you like it cooked. For the “seared” effect, make sure to flip the tuna after 2 minutes to leave the middle of the fish raw and the outside cooked.

Bon Appetit!

Oriental Pasta Salad
Serves an Army!

This recipe comes from my mom. I believe she found it in a Bon Appetit cookbook a long long time ago. She’s been making it for years for parties, bar-b- ques, etc… and it is always a hit. Feel free to substitute soba noodles (my new favorite!) or whole wheat spaghetti if you’d like.

Cook one package of angel hair pasta according to the directions. In the last three minutes of cooking, add 4 heads of broccoli florets. Drain the pasta and the broccoli and run cold water over it to stop it from cooking any further.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. Combine the following ingredients in a bowl and whisk until incorporated.

1/2 + 3 tbs. soy sauce
3/4 c. rice vinegar
1/2 c. corn oil
1/4 c. sesame oil
1/2 tbs. ginger powder
2 tbs. sugar
1/2 tsb. salt
2 tbs. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic
1/4 tsp. tabasco sauce

Combine the dressing with the pasta and broccoli and mix in 3 chopped scallions. Serve!


Last night I made a recipe from Cooking Light that called for soba noodles. I’d never cooked with these before, but let me tell you, I’m kicking myself in the you know what because of it…

The recipe was a soba noodle salad with seared tuna. The soba noodles were dressed with a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut oil, salt, pepper, sugar, rice vinegar and crushed red pepper flakes – and then diced/julienne carrots, peppers, cucumbers and scallions were added.

It was one of the tastiest dishes I made in a long time. So, today I set out to learn about these soba noodles I am growing so fond of. Here is what I learned…

According to Wikipedia…
Soba (蕎麦, Soba?) is the Japanese word for buckwheat. However, it is more commonly used to refer to thin Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. It is served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup.

Because noodles made out of pure buckwheat can easily fall apart when boiled, the buckwheat flour is usually mixed with binders, often wheat flour. Under the Japan Agricultural Standards regulations, the noodles have to contain at least 30% buckwheat in order to be called soba but noodles with a high buckwheat content are seen as more desirable. The raw noodles are made by making a dough out of buckwheat flour and binder, spreading it out flat before slicing noodle strands off it using a special knife. The quality of noodles is highly dependant on the skill of the maker especially for soba noodle with high buckwheat content. The raw noodles are boiled before being served hot or cold.

Also, according to Cooking Light, soba noodles are the ‘new’ whole-wheat pasta! One cup of cooked noodles is only 113 calories, 24 g. carbohydrates and less than 1 gram of fat. Can you get any better than that??

So, take my advice, pick up some soba noodles (at your local Asian market, or Whole Foods) and eat them TODAY!

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