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Welcome to Simmer ‘n Stir!

Simmer ‘n Stir

“There is no love more sincere than the love of food”.  ~George Bernard Shaw

When I think about cooking, I immediately think about my family. Whether it’s an image of my whole family sitting around my Grandmas dining room table, or coming home to the sweetly perfumed scent of brownies baking away in the oven, food has always been able to bring my family and friends together, which in my opinion, is what life is all about!

I have also found that food has the ability to transcend time, whisking you right back to a special moment, and evoking the same warm, cozy feelings you felt way back when. Maybe it was cinnamon and sugar toast in the mornings before school, or a backyard BBQ on the 4th of July. A few memories in my cooking treasure chest include watching my Papa make his hearty beef, veggie and dumpling soup when brisk autumn turned into a cold winter, or watching my Uncle Mark create his silky gravy to go on top of the mountain of food we like to call Thanksgiving dinner.

Cooking is not just my passion, it is my love, it is my survival. It is also what I turn to after a rough day, or when I want to show someone that I care. If you have every lived in or visited an Italian household, or have an Italian Grandmother, you know it is wise to visit with an empty stomach because hungry or not, you WILL be eating. Home-made spaghetti and meatballs anyone?

I think it is important to note that I am not a professional chef in any way, nor have I spent any time in culinary school… (On the bucket list though!) I am simply a girl who is crazy in love with mixing, mashing, stirring, slicing, dicing, chopping, AND… watching others delight in her latest creation! I often get asked this question: ‘What type of food you specialize in, or like to make the most?’, and that is a really tough question to answer! The honest truth is there is no one genre of food, because what I cook is constantly changing with my mood, and lemme tell ya, I can be one moody girl when I want to be! I’m always trying out new ‘taste creations’, altering an old recipe and getting inspiration from people every day. But if I had to answer that question, it would be that I specialize in happy food. (Juvenile sounding I know, but bare with me)…What I’m referring to here is food that makes a person dance around the kitchen or sing a little tune over a simmering pot of soup. Cooking should be fun and light-hearted, only staying true to a recipe when it involves precise measurements, like in baking . Happy food is quite honestly, the only kind of food I want to cook and serve to those I love.

I’ve created this blog to provide my gracious readers with recipes that are delish, simple to make and incorporate some sort of nutritional value, while documenting a few interesting culinary adventures around the city, seeing that I live in the very food friendly city of San Francisco! There will be a new post twice a week, each Tuesday and Thursday, and everyone reading this should hold me to it!

I hope you come to find honest to goodness recipes from the heart that you decide to make your own, because most of the recipes I will share are deeply rooted in some special memory or moment in my own life. I think you will notice that they are not only easy to make, but versatile too, always calling for a dash of imagination and a sprinkle of love. Thank you for taking the time to explore Simmer ‘n Stir, now let’s get cooking!

 * No-Grill BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches, Topped with Crispy Shallots *

Serves: 4

 WHY I LIKE THIS RECIPE:

 In college I didn’t have a grill, but every once and again would get a terrible craving for BBQ. Not only did I need to get creative with how to cook a BBQ recipe sans grill, but I also wanted it to be a some-what healthy meal. Well boiling chicken is about as healthy as you can get! If you want an uber healthy lunch or dinner to serve, sub the crispy shallots for caramelized onions, they are just as yummy… and serve it open-faced with only the bottom part of the bun!

What you will need:

1-2 lbs of chicken breast

4 whole wheat buns (any shape you like!)

½ cup of your favorite BBQ sauce ( I ❤ Sweet Baby Rays!)

2 large shallots *

½ of flour

1TB  of olive oil

1 cup peanut oil

Cracked black pepper

Salt

* Shallots look like a mini, reddish/brown onion, and are a cross between an actual onion and garlic… Find them by the onions!

1. Fill a large pot half-way with water, and bring to a boil.

2. Add the whole chicken breasts to the pot of boiling water and cook for 15 minutes.

3. Laying the shallot on the cutting board, thinly slice them from top to bottom (or hamburger style, not hot dog), like your making mini onion rings.

4. Place the shallots in the flour, fully coating each one and set aside.

5. After the chicken is done cooking, remove from boiling water and place on a cutting board. With two forks pulling opposite directions, begin to shred the chicken.

6. In a medium saute pan, add the olive oil getting the pan warm for a minute or so.

7. Add the shredded chicken to the pan and let it brown for just a minute, adding the salt and pepper to taste.

8. Pour your favorite bbq sauce over the chicken and combine. Place the fire on the lowest setting while you work on the shallots.

9. In a small pot, add the 1 cup oil and bring it to roughly 350-375 degrees. There are a couple of ways of doing this without using a thermometer, but you should use caution with all of them!

– Stand back and flick a couple drops of water into the oil and if it sizzles immediately then it is ready.

– Place a popcorn kernel in the oil and when it pops the oil is between 350-365 degrees.

JUST BE CAREFUL!

10. Slowly add the floured shallots and crisp them for about 3 minutes, watching closely to make sure they don’t burn. Next remove them from the oil placing them on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

11. Toast your buns if you want, and pile ¼ of the bbq chicken on the lower bun, and ¼ of the crispy shallots on top…Serve with a side of baked sweet potato fries AND THERE YOU HAVE IT!

Enjoy this no grill BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwich!

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