Hotbox Hipster

a pittsburgh hippie chick's unbridled love for all things food related


Land and Sea

salmon- done right, done easy.

salmon. it’s thick, it’s pink, and it’s bursting with flavor. and don’t even get me started on it’s nutritional benefits. ok, get me started.  did you know that a  measly 4 oz serving of wild salmon provides a full day’s requirement of vitamin D? not many foods can make that claim. that same piece of fish contains oodles of omega 3 fatty acids (lowers cholesterol),  B12, niacin, and selenium (makes your hair shiny), and is an excellent source of B6 and magnesium. it’s thick like a steak, and it’s a fish that even ‘non fish lovers’ can love.  it helps strengthen the heart muscle, and it’s known for helping your brain work better and improving  your memory. why, i ask then, would you not want to eat this bad boy at bare minimum- once per week??   in my house, we’re trying in earnest to subscribe to this thought process.  three out of four of us heart salmon more than a back alley hooker loves crack.  we purchase a  one pound piece (sometimes wild, sometimes farm raised) and rub it down with olive oil and salt and pepper. move your oven rack to the top position to utilize your broiler properly. set broiler to high, and let preheat a few mins. line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. and place metal cooling rack on top. position your salmon in the middle, and cook for 8 minutes or so. remove pan from oven, and carefully with a firm spatula… free up salmon from cooking rack and flip over quickly like a pancake. cook other side under broiler for four minutes. (note: this was a thick piece of salmon, and these time frames yielded a well done fish. if you like it a little more rare, please tweak accordingly.)  remove to cutting board and let rest a few minutes. serve however you see fit. i like it over a bed of orzo, or sometimes with a gorgeous salad plate.  however you plate it up, this power  house’s health benefits are too fabulous to ignore! it’s the perfect addition to your healthy lifestyle.

drizzle the salmon with olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.
what it looks like after 8 mins under the broiler at 495 degrees. ready for flipping now.
serve it a little something like this... and watch them smile and giggle like a school girl.

spag balls 101

i’m sharing my recipe for a tray of delicious, mouth watering meatballs… this recipe was adapted from ‘the ultimate meatballs’ by my lust man Tyler Florence.

everybody in the sauce!


you’ll need:

  •  1 large onion (red or sweet onion)

  • flat leaf parsley (fresh)

  • seven cloves of garlic

  • sandwich bread (six to eight slices)

  • milk

  • parmesan cheese

  •  one egg

  •  1 lb (or over) of ground pork and 1 lb(or over) of ground round or sirloin

  • salt/pepper

  • two 28oz cans of De Fratelli all purpose italian sauce

  • olive oil for cooking.

get out a med sized bowl and place your white bread in it- (cut the crust off) pour milk overtop to saturate a bit (maybe 3/4 cup or so.) set aside. in the largest frying pan you’ve got (non stick)- add a few tablespoons of olive oil. chop up the onion into very small diced pieces. set aside. mince your garlic and set aside as well.  take a big rip of your fresh parsley, (very large handful) chop up and set aside. hit the pan with some heat. md/high should do. once the oil is warmed, add your onion and parsley -saute til soft, about five to ten minutes, adding garlic around last two minutes.  turn off heat/set pan aside to cool. in a large bowl, add your ground meats. mix a lil to combine. squeeze out the excess milk from your bread (will be like a handful of mush) and add squeezed bread to meat.  spread it around over top to seperate a bit.  add the egg/ 1/2cup of parmesan cheese/ 1.5 t salt/1 t pepper (generous) and the onion mixture. dig in and combine. Using same skillet you sauteed onions in, add more olive oil (generous- coat the bottom well), don’t turn on heat yet. you gotta roll the balls. get a big piece of wax paper, or just your clean counter will do. roll them out, bigger than golfball size/ but smaller than a tennis ball. heat your pan/oil, and add enough balls to have room to turn them and play with them a bit.  you will likely do this in two, maybe three batches. in the meantime, get out a big lasagna pan, biggest you’ve got- and add your cans of sauce to it. brown your balls on both sides, (careful not to burn- it makes them taste awful) and add them to the sauce bath as they’re done. best way to turn a ball is with one of your dinner forks or bigger soup spoons. get it under there gently and flip it. Bake all the balls in the sauce bath in a 350 degree oven for 90 minutes. not covered. when they’re nearly done, take and top them with slices of mozzarella cheese or provolone slices. (i like the prov better) enjoy with lasagna/ or spaghetti/ or whatever you like. they are killer the next day sliced in half and on a sandwich. you will love these balls. you’ll long for them. don’t say i didn’t warn you. spags.



chicken piccata… meant for two

no leftovers
Bright beautiful flavors take the sting out of an icy winter day

Chicken Piccata. every bite is like a summer breeze. it’s prominent flavors are lemon and capers (which are like eensy tiny mellow baby olives)-  both so very bright and fun one can’t help smile while noshing on this dish. This recipe makes enough for two hungry people, adjust accordingly. i caught myself thinking about licking the plate… no joke.


take four thinly sliced chicken breasts and generously salt and pepper them. Place about a 1/3 cup of flour on a shallow plate and place next to your stove. Prep your shallots and garlic. Thinly slice two shallots and four cloves of garlic. set aside.  grate a little lemon peel, and slice lemon in half, setting aside. Add two T of butter and a T of olive oil to a large non stick skillet. Heat over md high heat. dredge the chicken in the flour, and shake excess- adding to the skillet. cook over md-high heat for a few mins per side. remove to a clean plate. to the already hot skillet, add the shallots. saute over medium for two mins. add the garlic. saute for a minute, and add 3/4 cup of your favorite white wine. (i used pinot grigio) scrape up the brown bits and let bubble for a minute while stirring. Proceed to add 3/4 cup of chicken broth, and a tsp of corn starch dissolved in a splash of water.  Stir with a whisk until smooth over md heat. (maybe a minute or so)  cut the heat, and add a heaping T of capers, the juice from your lemon, another pat of butter and about two T of chopped fresh parsley. I like to serve this over a half a box of cooked thin spaghetti. (i find angel hair a bit too light, and spaghetti too heavy) Arrange your chicken over your cooked pasta, and drizzle the lovely sauce all over the top. if you’ve grated any of your lemon zest, sprinkle this over the top as a grand finale.  try to serve this as soon as you can after cooking.

the aftermath.




thank me later

comfort food
perfectly moist and flavorful every time!!

it’s meatloaf.  mister loaf.  the mac daddy of all the comfort foods. the guy who even manages to steal the show sandwiched between a couple of delicious bread slices on day two.  maybe you loved your mom’s meatloaf… maybe you hated it.  mine happens to be an adapted version of my mom’s already near perfect recipe. like everything i make, it has evolved over the years.  play around with it, yank it around and make it your own.  tonight my husband made it and he added a 1/4 cup of yellow mustard to the mix. it’s something i never would have considered doing, but hot dog was it delish!! he served it up with some Betty Crocker augratin potatoes and peas, and it made our thursday pretty solid.  hats off to meatloaf lovers across the board.


lightly combine a pound of pork and a pound of 92-ish% lean ground beef in a big bowl.  (tonight i used two pounds of lean ground beef and a little more than a pound of ground pork… it was a grand loaf!!)

pour a little milk over top to moisten. (maybe a 1/3 cup) -give a few minutes to soak in while you’re prepping other ingredients.

add generous squirt of Heinz ketchup. (maybe 1/4 cup if had to guess)

six or so generous shakes of worcheshire sauce

little puddle of steak sauce if you have it (maybe a Tablespoon??)  if don’t have, no sweat.

1 egg

1/2 tsp of black pepper

1 tsp of salt

heaping teaspoon of dried parsley

few generous shakes of garlic powder

1 heaping tsp of dried thyme if you have it (if not, no worries). actually… get some thyme. everyone should have some.  use it on all sorts of meats and roasts and in soups and stews and spaghetti sauce.  i go through it like crazy.

dried bread crumbs

Add all of these ingredients to the meat bowl. Add bread crumbs by feel, start with maybe a 1/4 cup- which may be enough actually,  and mix by hand to desired consistency and then shape like a loaf.  You’re kind of going back and forth between two hands over the bowl with the whole thing, patting it into shape. Place it in a round glass pyrex dish with a lid.  This helps lock in the moisture.  Add 1/4 cup of water around loaf.  i like to sprinkle the top with salt and pepper.  Tonight i did a drizzle of Carolina BBQ sauce over top and rubbed it in with my hands before popping it into oven.  it soaked into the meat and gave it a delicious salty tang!!  some folks like to do this with ketchup on the top.  you do you!  fine with neither to be honest.  Cover and bake for one hour and 20 mins at 350 degrees…. or you could do 325 for two hours.  Time it out to best suit what you have going on.  Drain some fat/ juices out of the dish a couple of times during cooking. At end, take the lid off and let it rest 20 mins in the bowl you cooked it in, and then remove it to  a cutting board or serving platter.  Slice and enjoy!  YAY MEATLOAF!!

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