Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Pasta and a Famous Julia Child Flip

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Pasta Recipe
Similar to the celebrated Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, this is a meal that, for my money, didn’t kick it right out of the starting gate, but turned up the flavor factor over the next 24 hours.

I’m wary of crock pot recipes with chicken, and you should be too, because the bird tends to dry out before the cook time is done.  People are always stopping me on the street and saying, “But Gary, how do I keep my crock pot chicken from drying out?”  Actually, they more often say things like, “You’re too old to wear a t-shirt that tight.” or “Hey you psycho, put my baby down!”

But asking me how to prevent chicken from drying out is definitely in the top five.

There are a couple changes I’d make to this recipe the next time out.  Give them a shot and let me know how it goes in the comments.

1.) Don’t shred the chicken at the end.  Keep the breasts whole or, at most, slice them in half.

2.) Spill about 1/4 cup of oil over the chicken when you first put it into the crock.  This is the trick that helped me out when I made Lemon Garlic Chicken.  I used thigh bones and the meat was plenty juicy when I served it up.

3.) Thicken the sauce a bit so it adheres better to the chicken and the pasta.  I thought this mixture was too watery.  There are a lot of great ways to do this.  You can add in an equal mixture of corn starch and water.  Start by combining a teaspoon of each, and check it over the next half hour, adding more if needed. Another way to go is to add in a cup of Italian breadcrumbs.  Or if you’re really itching to sew this sucker up in record time, you can just drop in a cup of jarred pasta sauce.  As Julia Child reminds us in the video at 2:55 below, “Whoooo is going to see!?”

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Pasta Recipe

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Pasta Recipe
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Pasta from Damn Delicious

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 pound penne
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Place chicken into a 6-qt slow cooker.

In a large bowl, combine crushed tomatoes, onion, basil, oregano, parsley and red pepper flakes, if using. Stir into the slow cooker and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours.

Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred, using two forks.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.

Stir pasta and chicken into the slow cooker; top with cheeses.

Cover and cook on low heat for an additional 10-20 minutes, or until the cheeses have melted.

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

Making Martha’s Cakes – Marble Pound Cake (Cake #3)

Marble Pound Cake RecipeMarble Pound Cake Following the book, the next cake up would be Martha’s Blood Orange and Olive Oil Pound Cake.  It’s not the most winning title ever, in fact it’s right up there with clunkers like Ocean’s Twelve, Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever, A Doll’s House Part 2, and V.I. Warshawski.  Remember V.I Warshawski?  Oh, it was so bad.  But I saw it in the theatre, on opening day, no less.  That’s what a Kathleen Turner fan I was.  17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes?  Ee-gahds!

Kathleen Turner V.I. Warshawski

But before you start performing a celebrated “Mime-a-Gag” at the thought of eating something called “Blood Orange Olive Oil Pound Cake,” take a look at the picture in the book first.  It includes chocolate ganache which I think really should have made its way into the name.  Chocolate Ganache makes everything sound better.  Try saying it right after  you say, “V.I. Warshawski !” and you’ll find yourself suddenly searching for it on Netflix.  It’s not there (17 percent, remember?).

Blood Orange olive Oil Cake

Regardless how you feel about the name, I can’t make it, because blood oranges are not in season right now.  I can’t find them anywhere.  I thought we’d moved past the era of having to wait for a particular season for particular produce.  Isn’t that why we have Monsanto?  I thought they were able to grow produce year round on the spine of a living pig, but that’s not happening.  Agrochemical companies are really starting to let people down.

I went with the marble pound cake recipe instead.  It’s an easier recipe the the blood orange one, and you get to swirl.  I love to swirl.

I love to swirl.  I love to bake cakes.  I get to the theatre early for bad Kathleen Turner movies.  Is it any wonder my parents felt no need to have more children after me?

Making Martha’s Cakes: Lemon Pound Cake (Cake #2)

Martha Stewart's Lemon Pound Cake RecipeThere are over 150 recipes in the Martha Stewart Cake book. I’m on recipe number two.
Martha Stewart's Lemon Pound Cake Recipe
After the recipe for “Basic Pound Cake” comes FIFTEEN MORE VERSIONS OF LOAF CAKE: There’s Chocolate-Ginger Marble, Clementine Vanilla Bean, Pumpkin Sage, and Cornmeal Buttermilk, to name a few. And that only gets me to page 49… of 311 pages of cake recipes.

And I’ve obligated myself to make each and every one of them.

And most of these loaf recipes produce 2 cakes.

My boyfriend, everyone at my office, and all the neighbors up and down my block are going to be fat and happy by December.

Or maybe fat and angry?


Oh well, who cares.  It’s not like they’ll be able to hurt me.  I’ll be able to outrun them all.

Martha Stewart's Lemon Pound Cake Recipe
You might think turning a “basic loaf cake” into a “lemon loaf cake” wouldn’t require anything more than tossing some fresh lemon zest into the batter.  That’s where Martha would slap you in the face, call you a rube and go back to watching her favorite movie, Bowfinger (I have it on good authority).

Sure, yeah… we’ll include zest in the batter.  But we’re not gonna stop there.  We’re also gonna make lemon icing for the tops of the cakes, candied lemons to top that lemon icing, and when we get the cakes out of the oven WE’RE GONNA POKE HOLES ACROSS THE TOPS AND POUR LEMON SUGAR SYRUP STRAIGHT INTO THEM!!

This is what I did with my Memorial Day.  I’ll always remember.  I’ll never forget.


Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken

Recipe for Slow Cooker Garlic Lemon ChickenMG will tell you that this lemon chicken falls right off the bone and melts in your mouth.  If you were in a slow cooker for eight hours surrounded by potatoes, carrots, garlic cloves and slices of lemon, the same thing would happen to you and you’d never have to go to the gym again.

Grown up crock potMy new Cuisinart slow cooker is getting a real workout.  After 8 years with the Barbie Dream House Crock Pot, I decided it was time to step it up a bit.  After all, I’m not a lonely single guy cooking for one anymore.  I’ve got a partner who counts on me to keep his belly full.  And there’s no skimping on the ingredients or flavor or portion sizes.  He’s from Georgia.
Recipe for Slow Cooker Garlic Lemon ChickenBefore inclusion of the bone-in chicken thighs.

Recipe for Slow Cooker Garlic Lemon ChickenWith thighs nestled gently into the bottom of the crock pot.  I didn’t include the word “nestled” to be all kitchen showy.  That’s exactly what the recipe says to do – nestle the chicken thighs.  So, as I slowly rocked each thigh into place, I asked it if it wanted to hold its wubby, and then gently serenaded it with twenty minutes of “Hush Thee My Rowan.”


Slow Cooker Creamy Turkey Stroganoff

Turkey Stroganoff Recipe

I’d like to start this post with some bonus information:  Stroganoff does not photograph well.

It’s a most excellent stroganoff.  But it’s not pretty.  All grays and murky yellows, with flecks of greenish brown mushrooms.  When one of my paintings starts to go wrong, it looks like turkey stroganoff.

Turkey Stroganoff Recipe

Look, I even tried the “delicately investigating with a kitchen spoon” shot for you people.  It didn’t do much.

Still, I will fight for this turkey stroganoff recipe because we ate it for the next three days.  And as good as it was straight out of the crock pot, it aged fabulously between Sunday and Tuesday.  And those egg noodles… well they just skip down the back of your tongue and jump right into your tummy, warm and wobbly.

The recipe below is from Creme de la Crumb.  And it looks like one of those sites that tries to resemble a home chef blog but is far too slick looking to be believed.  No typos, no coding errors, no margin mishaps.  The color balance and contrast in every photo is just a little too perfect.  I link to it below and you can see for yourself.  I don’t know… I think it might be the Russians.

Get the recipe HERE!

Making Martha’s Cakes: How to Save a Cake

In all fairness, I strayed far, far, far from Martha’s recipe this week. I was overly-stimulated by the whimsy of the contestants on The Great British Baking Show and thought I’d be able to freestyle it. I’m sure if I’d laid out my baking plans to Judge Mary Berry beforehand, she would have given her most delicate frown and delivered a sweetly-packaged warning… something along the lines of, “It sounds delightful and troubling all at once.” or “I can’t say I’ve ever heard of that, but perhaps it’ll be scrummy!” or maybe just a plain old, “That sounds different. Good luck.” while quickly skirting herself away and hiding her mortification.

This was supposed to be a raspberry almond chocolate pound cake, but all the filling sank to the bottom. In the before photo, the cake is upside down so I could surveil the crime scene in more detail.

It certainly was scrummy. Michael and I devoured half of it while watching The Queen on Netflix. But I still am not permitted to put this in the win column, so back to the drawing board I go.

Stay tuned.

Making Martha’s Cakes: Martha Stewart’s Pound Cake (Cake #1)

Pound Cake Recipe from
I was able to master Martha Stewart recipes before I understood the “Pulse” function on my food processor. I was still afraid of slow cookers when I was pulling perfect cookies out of the oven because of her. Martha deserves all her success. Her recipes are easy to follow, they never fail, and they make everyone happy.

I met Martha when she was a guest player on Hollywood Game Night, a show I helped produce. I was going to bring her muffins I made from one of her recipes, in a basket, bedded with a gingham cloth napkin. But I didn’t do it because I decided I would have felt guttted if she wasn’t visibly impressed. I learned my lesson when I met Carson Kressley from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I wore my best form-fitting, striped shirt with metal-docked pearly-snap buttons. I was hoping he’d get wide eyed and compliment me, but all he said was, “Where’s Kleenex? I think I’m getting a cold.”

I’m sure anyone who invites Martha to their home frantically cleans it before hand. But she doesn’t really go into your bathroom and judge you. Before she ever walks in to someone else’s bathroom, before she’s ever halfway down the hallway, Martha Stewart is already thinking to herself, “My bathroom is better.” And she’s right. Martha has the best bathroom. If I was at Martha Stewart’s house, I bet I would think her bathroom was so nice, instead of using it, I’d excuse myself and sprint to the gas station.

Martha Stewart can make a poncho work. She can do anything. I once saw Martha Stewart convince Rosie O’Donnell to sample low-calorie dip. Rosie said it was “delectable,” and that was absolutely the wrong word choice, but Martha just smiled, like there’s no reason in the world it should have ever annoyed her.