I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight!

Sometimes even I, the avid chef and foodie, like to partake in creations that others make. Shocking I know but after working at my primary job at Wash U for 10-12 hours a day, I don’t always have that gusto and drive to stand in the kitchen for an hour or so making dinner for myself and for Kyle.  In the past few years St. Louis has become quite a little foodie mecha.  Food trucks, pop up dining events, we’ve developed quite a little food scene here.  And one thing that St. Louis sports a lot of are fried chicken restaurants.  We have fast food chains, mom and pop eateries, long standing chicken establishments and then we have the little hole in the wall all we serve are 5 dishes and they are all chicken type places.

I’ve always been of the mindset that if you are going to have a small single item driven menu then that item needs to be outstanding and on point.  I’d be ignorant to think that every plate might be the same but the food itself needs to be there or you’ll never really get anywhere.  Last night, Kyle inadvertently forgot to take the steaks I had planned on making for dinner out of the fridge to come to room temp.  Not wanting to eat at 8:00 at night we opted to have an impromptu date night close to home.  We picked Old Standard Fried Chicken located at 1621 Tower Grove Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110.

Located at the northern end of Tower Grove Park, Old Standard Fried Chicken roosts in what appears to be a converted garage.  A quaint patio area is fenced by planters which normally houses the four varieties of mint that the bar uses for its mixed drinks; however on our visit the mint appeared to have dried up in the insanely hot weather.   Walking in you immediately smell cedar and oak as the restaurant/bar itself is nothing but wood.  Exposed rafters line the concrete block walls and the old weathered floor gives that sort of refined industrial look to the space.  The light fixtures were few and spaced far between due to the copious amounts of windows that allow an exorbitant amount of natural light filter in and reflect off the white walls.  We were immediately greeted by our server and escorted to our table near the door.  The menu is pretty limited but when you have a name like Old Standard Fried Chicken I’d anticipate the menu being geared towards fried chicken and it was. With such “old standard” items like fried pickles, fried shrimps, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes the menu held promise that our choices, while limited, would be delicious.

Instead of defaulting to bottled soda or a crafted beer, Kyle and I chose to indulge with one of the housemade sodas.  A double cream and a strawberry cream.  At $3.75 a pop we were hoping for something more then a slim 8 oz glass half filled with ice (probably only roughly 4 oz of actual drink) with a dollop of whipped cream on top.  But for what it was which was a housemade soda it was delicious.  The “snack” we chose the fried horseradish pickles which were made in house and our main meal we each picked the chicken deal which contained two pieces of chicken of our choosing, 1 trimming and a biscuit.  Kyle chose the mac and cheese  and I opted for the meaty greens.  As we waited we enjoyed the atmosphere of the space.  It wasn’t loud or crowded and it was pleasant.  The wait staff was observant of when we needed our water refreshed and after about a 10 minute wait our pickles arrived.  I wish I could say that these were phenomenal; however the breading used simply tasted like unseasoned flour and did no justice to the sweet pickle slices hidden them.  The saving grace that added flavor to the snack was the spicy ranch dipping sauce and the sweet with a hint of heat pickle.  image000005

Our meal showed up around 10 minutes after our snack did.  At first glance I was excited at the prospect of having a good ole fashion fried chicken dinner. Our server provided us with little side cups of butter and orange marmalade for our biscuit and a little side cup of hot sauce.  One thing missing from the table was salt and pepper which was located next to the bar on a little side cart which housed their glasses.

First off the meaty greens.  Collard greens smothered in smoked bacon which hey you can’t go wrong with bacon, but me not really being a huge pork fan I just ate around them.  First thing right off the bat the dish was lacking in seasoning.  Again there was a void where salt and an acid should be.  The greens were still slightly crispy but given the fact that they weren’t seasoned did not make up for that.  Kyle’s mac and cheese looked rather ooey and gooey but when I tried it I found our common theme.  The dishes simply lacked any sort of flavoring.   Sad really given the fact that this meal cost us $10.95 per person.  Would the chicken be any better?  I soon received that answer.  No it wasn’t.  I never really knew that it was hard to mess up fried chicken; however by eliminating any sort of brine or season it tasted dry and the rather harsh flour taste from the breading did not leave me much hope for redemption in this dish or this restaurant.  I know I’m picky but when you have to drown a piece of chicken in hot sauce to partake any sort of flavor something is seriously wrong.

Johnny Down Bourbon Neat

The only saving grace besides the amazing whiskey and bourbon selection was the dessert.  Originally I had ordered the turtle pudding but was told it was out of stock, our server suggested the banana pudding, which per reviews of the restaurant was raved as a must have.  It was wonderfully thick and you could actually taste the bananas and it did not give an artificial chemical taste.  It was legitimate banana pudding which after much coercing Kyle tried along with his Johnny Down bourbon.


Sadly, our experience at Old Standard Fried Chicken was not good.  After speaking to our server she advised us that the “chef” in the kitchen had only been there for about 3 weeks or so, but given that rather off reviews have been given about the food for a few months it more then likely is an ongoing trend.  Don’t get me wrong, I strongly recommend this place if you are a bourbon/whiskey fan and also want a good pudding, but if you are looking for old fashioned fried chicken you’d had more lucky in the drive through line at KFC a mile down the road.  Old Standard Fried Chicken?  More like No Standard Fried Chicken.  Sorry guys but the chicken is gonna be put down..and not in a good way  /sadpanda



The kind of rolls you wanna see in the summer

Well, I personally want to thank everyone out there who this winter wished for summer weather.  God has answered your prayers and parked Satan’s backside right here over the Gateway city.  It has been insanely hot.  So hot in fact that the idea of eating anything remotely warm is enough to make me toss down my towel, walk away from the kitchen and refuse to cook.  I loathe being in the kitchen during the summer.  It’s just not right to stand over a pot of boiling water when it’s almost hot enough to fry an egg on the asphalt.  So how I battle the heat is I eat things that require minimum cooking time or if at all possible no cooking time.  I fear for Kyle’s meat eating ways as he is in for a sore surprise when he realizes that any possibility of a roast chicken or lasagna dish will not happen until fall in my house.

With that being said there are plenty of quick dishes that you can prepare and prepare ahead of time that will allow you to enjoy your dark cool living room or if you are truly one of those summer masochists that feel the urge to go outside these are a light yet filling snack or meal that will satisfy you on your journeys into hell and back.  Fresh spring/summer rolls.

Wait.  Isn’t a spring roll fried?  Yes it is but these are the non fried variety commonly called fresh spring rolls or fresh summer rolls.  What’s the difference?  It’s not fried….oh wait you meant between the spring and summer.  A spring roll can be either fresh or fried and can be found in many different varieties in many different countries (egg rolls, lumpia).  A summer roll is a specific Vietnamese wrapped in fresh rice paper.  Spring rolls also often contain meat where as the summer roll is primarily vegetarian but can be served with shrimp and even sometimes pork.  Spring rolls are also made with a wheat flour skin made with egg in the base and summer rolls made with a translucent rice flour skin.  Either way both are good eats and I enjoy them frequently either by themselves or as an accompany to another dish.

You are only going to be limited with this recipe if you don’t care for fresh vegetables.  That isn’t an issue in my home so the fillings are only limited by what we might have in the crisper drawers.  But for the sake of this entry I’ll just post the standard typical fillings as well as a fun dipping sauce made out with peanut butter.  The majority of all the ingredients if not all of them in fact can be found at your local international grocery store.

Ingredients: Rolls

  • Rice Paper Skins (Circle/Square)-1 per roll
  • Rice Vermicelli Noodles (2 oz)-Can be omitted ****
  • 1/2 cup julienne carrots
  •  1/2 cup julienne cucumbers (seedless variety)
  • mixed greens or romaine lettuce leaves torn in half
  • cilantro
  • basil (i prefer Thai basil but regular basil will work in a pinch)
  • 6 poached shrimp cut in half (3 halves per roll depending on size) (leave the shell on but de-vein prior to poaching)

Ingredients: Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon/lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water



In a medium sized stock pot heat water to boiling and drop in your shrimp, shell on.  You can choose to season the water with some salt, peppercorns and bay leaf if you feel like it. Turn off the heat and place a lid on and let poach for 5 minute or until they turn pink.  Remove from the water and let chill in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and set to the side.  Refill the same stock pot and bring your water to a boil for your noodles.  Once at a boil, submerge your noodles, turn off the heat and lid the pot and let it sit for 3-7 minutes (vague i know but hey i don’t make the noodles).  We are just wanting the noodles to become soft.  Remove from the hot water and since in cold water for 30 seconds and let sit to the side to drain.  I normally will separate out my noodles into little bundles and let them sit on a paper towel while I finish my prep.

On a clean cutting board place down a piece of parchment paper or if you have it a silicone pad.  This will help the rice paper skin to not adhere to your work surface, potentially causing it to rip when filling.  In a large saute pan fill with warm water, not hot.  The reason we dont want hot water is we dont want to cause the sheet of rice paper to buckle and curl.  Just warm.  Submerge your rice paper and move around for 20 seconds until soft and pliable,  once the rice paper starts to soften time is against you as it will keep on absorbing any moisture left on the skin.  Gently dab with a paper towel and start filling with your choice stuffings. Be careful not to over stuff as it can potentially cause it to break and you will have to start all over.


So sadly with these photos I overstuffed my summer roll because I was being impatient but it’s just for a point of reference.  You don’t have to follow this method for putting your items on in any sense of the word.  In fact they recommend you stack it side to side instead of on top of each other but meh to each his/her/their own.

So lay a small bundle of rice noodles down spreading out evenly (love how mine is even?!).  Next you’ll place next, on it your other vegetables (lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, peppers.  I recommend if doing avocado put your avocado slices UNDER your noodles.  Lay your shrimp or protein of choice at the top.  If using shrimp make sure the pink side is face down on the rice paper so it can show through for the finished product .   I prefer having a green background against the pink of the shrimp as its more visually appealing and as everyone knows, we eat visually before we actually eat.

image000001 When you’ve got you’re desired fillings on the skin you have a few different methods of folding this bad boy shut.  You can either choose to fold in the side’s first and then roll it up ala burrito style.  You can start to roll from the bottom and then fold in the sides.  It’s whatever is easy for you and best suits you.  You do however want to make sure you roll it tight enough to keep the contents together. I do a three roll roll image000003.  Once over the noodles, once over the veggies and the last one to seal it up and show off the protein (again if using one.  It’s totally optional).  If making more then one be sure to cover with a damp towel to avoid the skin from drying out and breaking.



These are commonly considered appetizers but with the hot weather hellbent on destroying my desire to cook a warm dish these have been a fantastic meal replacement.  Give me two with some peanut sauce on the side and I am a happy camper!.  By all means swap out and put zucchini in, some jicama.  Not feeling veggies make this with fruit!  Just nothing to liquidy or you’re gonna get a soggy mess.  Don’t want noodles?  Keep em out.  Nothing is set in stone with this recipe which makes it a versatile meal.  Slice in half, plate it up and enjoy with a nice glass of iced tea or a cold iced Vietnamese coffee 🙂




***if not wanting to use rice vermicelli noodles you can always substitute them for cellophane noodles instead.  Or even omit them entirely.





I’m gonna gnocchi you out

I seem to be on a veritable roll this week with keeping this blog updated.  Go me for being either productive or not productive enough.  Das macht nichts (go on..you know you wanna look it up.  It means neither this/that doesn’t matter..My papa says it TONS!!!).  Whilst registering for the upcoming wedding I had made a mental reminder to ask for a gnocchi board because its insanely tedious to roll those little buggers out and then get the ridges with the back of a fork. And it reminded me that crap it’s Wednesday.  My normal dining partner had other plans and I had nothing to make for dinner.  Thank the Gods that the little corner store by my house has probably the most random things for sale.  Gustine’s Market.  If you’re a St. Louis resident that lives in South City I recommend you stop in and get a sample of wine and a Serendipity drumstick from the freezer section.  It’s amazing.  Plus the people are rather friendly so that’s a perk.

I never normally know ahead of time what I want for dinner when it’s just me cooking for myself. I’m perfectly content with cutting open an avocado and eating that for dinner; however my husband Kyle gets rather miffed if he realizes that I didn’t eat something that had some form of protein.  So when I got home I made a quick detour to Gustine’s Market and wandered the small tiny store and stumbled across the frozen gnocchi.  Now normally I make my own but with it being already 6 pm and me having not really the motivation to make homemade pasta I opted to go with one at least made locally.  Maria & Son’s.  I’m not ashamed.  Hey I’m pretty sure Gordan Ramsey at one point in his career has opted for something made by someone else in the name of saving time.  Don’t you shame me!

So off I go home with my tiny bag of perfectly rolled, frozen potato dumplings when I catch a whiff of what the neighbors were cooking.  I love my neighborhood.  It’s so…aromatic.  Coconut, cumin, curry powder.  Mmmmm Thai food and as we all know I am a sucker for a good Thai dish. And if you didn’t know, you know now.  Curry, gnocchi, I knew damn well I had sugar snap peas in my garden as well as some mushrooms and a ton of fresh basil.  The only question was, did I have all the ingredients to make my own curry slurry.  More then likely yes but did I want to take the time to make one from scratch?  Eeeeeeh Wednesday night, worked 12 hours at my primary job the answer to that was a no so this was a quick no fuss no muss idea.  And the results were awesome.

image000001Now I’ll never be one of this individuals that just use a pre made mix as is.  I always feel that it can be more of a “homemade” dish if you doctor it up some and while I was going to use a pre made curry paste the aromatics would be all me.  Now when a recipe calls for say 2 cloves of garlic minced I take that as a “suggestion” and always double it.  Never be stingy on the garlic as it is your friend.  So to my pre made paste I added my own aromatics.  Sweated the paste off with some onion till fragrant and then added the curry paste (red) and toasting it off.  I find toasting the paste adds an additional depth of flavor.  Kind of like when you toast tomato paste.  It helps deepen and concentrate the flavors, plus as I’ve gotten older I find I need bolder flavors in order to really appreciate my food.  More spice to counter balance the fact my taste buds over the course of the years have committed ritual seppuku to the God of Time.  Toss in some coconut milk and whatever vegetables you want and let them bubble away on low till your pasta/rice/chicken/whatever else you’re pairing it is with is cooked.  If you are going to use root vegetables I recommend parboiling them first or you will be waiting for a while for them to get soft and nothing says “this is….tasty o.0” like biting into a hard chunk of potato..Mmmmmm starchy..yeah no.  Sadly though albeit normal for me, by the time dinner was done cooking I wasn’t hungry but hey at least I have lunch for tomorrow (now today cause I’m a Time Lord and I can bend space



Now for the meat…or rather meatless portion of the post.  The actual recipe.  I kind of made it up as I went along but here’s the gist of it.  You will need the following for a serving for two individuals.

  • 5 cloves garlic crushed and rough chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon grass
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thai chili powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed coriender
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 white/yellow onion sliced thin and diced\
  • 2 tablespoons pre made curry paste (I use Mai Ploy-Massaman Curry Paste)
  • 12 oz coconut milk (milk not cream..dont make the same mistake I’ve made…before)
  • vegetable add ins:  I used baby bellas and peas 
  • pasta/gnocchi/whatever you are doing this with
  • chopped fresh basil

Take all ingredients and place into a mortar and pestle and pound away whilst thinking about that person who spurned you back when you were younger.  Or the fact that you’re favorite sportsball team isn’t doing well this season.  Goooo Sportsball!.  If you do not have a mortar and pestle whirl it away in a food processor/magic bullet/ninja/etc. Place in a small dish and put it to the side to allow it to rest.

In a medium sauce pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and saute onions.  We want to achieve a little bit of the Maillard reaction (browning) to allow the inherent sweetness of the vegetable to show up.  This also allows the enzymes and amino acids found in the onion to change at the molecular level as to help stave off any potential threat of turning the garlic in the aromatics a blue green.  This occurs because of a chemical reaction between the enzymes/amino acids and the acidity in the garlic when the two items meet and mingle.  FOR SCIENCE!!!!.  Once you’ve achieved the desired level of browning add your aromatics and let them mingle until they become fragrant.  This should take only about 1 minute.  Any longer and you run the risk of burning your garlic and that can provide a rather acrid note to the dish.



This is listed as a spicy curry paste so if your tastes are more mellow and calm you can by all means use the green curry paste or yellow.  This is all based off your personal preference.  I like spicy food but I am not biased in any sense of the word.  Add in your curry paste and allow it to toast.  How do you know if it’s toasting?  It will take on a deeper darker hue of red.  This only takes about a minute and a half max and you want to watch it to ensure it doesn’t burn.  Switch your spatula for a whisk and incorporate your coconut milk into your paste.  Add your mushrooms and let simmer on a medium low while you prepare your pasta/rice.  If it becomes to thin by all means thin with a little vegetable stock or even some white wine, water, a little more coconut milk or some half and half.  Add your peas at the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Nothing worse then mushy peas.  Top with fresh chopped basil and serve in warmed bowls

There ya go.  Total time depending on what you’re having with it no more then an hour if doing chicken or less then 25 if doing pasta with shrimp.  I opted to keep this a vegetarian dish but did have poached shrimp on the side for my protein.  Not to shabby for a Wednesday and goes to show that premade doesn’t always have to be boring as long as you add your own little twist to it.






ba ba ba ba ba Ramen

Like most college kids…hey..I work at a University…it still applies, we find ourselves living off of what seems to be an endless supply of ramen noodles; however have you ever looked at the back of that little celophane package of instant noodle soup?  If you haven’t then don’t because you will be mortified at what it shows you.  But when it comes to convenience it’s a staple to many of us both here in the states as well as across the globe be it college student, single parent, lazy gamer who doesn’t know how to cook.  Plus at times it can be pretty tasty.  But why not try it a little healthier.  Cut out all the sodium and save your heart and kidneys from having to do some unnecessary work.  How?  By doing it this way.

You can opt to use a pack of instant ramen noodles and just throw away the flavorings or you can go purchase some ramen noodles at a local distributor or asian market.  This recipe calls for the package we all have in our pantries, cupboards or possibly in the trunk of our cars.  It also features one of my most favorite fermented things to eat.  Can you guess what it is?  😀

You will need the following ingredients/tools

  • 3 cups of H2O
  • 1/2 cups of funky kimchi (you can use whatever brand you like at whatever level of heat)
  • 1/4 cup of bean sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon white rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (i like to toast mine before adding it. personal preference and will not take away from your experience)
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (if you don’t have smoked paprika try toasting it in a dry pan to bring out the flavor but be careful as it can burn quickly)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 crushed black peppercorns (if you have Szechuan use those)
  • 2 packages of organic ramen noodles.   Or if using instant 1 package sans seasoning packages


  • 1 green onion chopped on the bias (green portion only)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped kimchi

Now comes the easy part.  Like no joke its seriously simple.  Add all the ingredients to a medium sized sauce pan.  No seriously this is one of those kinds of dishes.  Toss the lot in.  Bring to a boil and cover and continue to boil for 8-10 minutes for organic noodles and about 4-5 for the instant noodles (this allows the kimchi to soften a bit).  Divide into bowls and top with the chopped green onions and kimchi and eat.


easy peasy lemon squeezy 🙂

I never cared for Stroganoff. She said that like a Romanov


Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while.  Work and life have both been insanely crazy and busy with wedding planning and all that other fun stuff that goes with the new four letter word “Adulting” *twitches*.  But I have been cooking and I’ve been deciding on what to blog about.

It’s no hidden secret that I find great comfort in the kitchen.  It’s my sanctuary.  My “man cave”.  It’s where I can go and vent frustrations of the day by pounding out some dough or violently whipping of egg whites.  It’s therapy for me.  I’ve always had this dream of opening up a bakery that has an afternoon program geared towards teens who have a difficult home life where they can come and vent their frustrations through the creation of food.  I hope some day to make that dream a reality.

Why is cooking so therapeutic for me?  I wish I had the answer.  Maybe it’s because I have so many positive memories associated with cooking.  Standing in the kitchen on the holidays with a glass of wine watching my aunts and uncles shoot the shit while trimming green beans, filling pie crusts.  I associate the kitchen with a moment of happiness.  Huh…guess I did have the answer after all ;)…One of my most favorite people to be in the kitchen with is probably a tie between my father and my grandmother.  Probably only natural considering they are mother and son.  My father has taught me so many fine things such as how to make potato soup, foccacia, how to grill, how to tie my shoes (not really cooking related but important nonetheless).  My grandmother however taught me that the preparation of a meal is meant to be done with love for those eating it.  They will be able to taste your feelings in your food and your food reflects you at your core.  And that is very true.  When I’m in a funk it totally shows in my cooking.  I burn things, it tastes bland or over seasoned.  It’s a hot fucking mess I tell you what.  But when I’m happy and in that zone where everything is just right everything is awesome.  Everything is cool cause you’re part of the team!!! Another thing my grandmother taught me was how to make stroganoff.  Just saying that word makes me think of her and how her kitchen would smell when she would make it.  The onions, mushrooms,  the bits of skirt steak or if she couldn’t afford it, ground beef.  And the sour cream…..Good God those were some amazing combinations of smells.  She taught me how to make her version of stroganoff when I was 10 and it’s the recipe I’ve used for near 30 years and it will be the one I teach Ari my niephew (not a typo) and my children (if I ever have any).  But until then I’ll share it with you all 🙂


For this recipe you will need the following ingredients.  I will also list appropriate substitutions should you have difficulty finding certain items or if they are outside your dinner budget. This can also be easily made into a vegetarian option by subbing out and omitting certain items.

  • 1 1/2 lbs skirt steak  sliced 1/2 inch thick (you can use ground beef if you can’t find skirt steak) ****
  • 2 medium yellow onions sliced thin ( I recommend using a mandolin if you have one)
  • 4 cloves garlic finely minced into a paste (or you can use garlic paste in a tube)
  • 12 oz sliced portobello mushrooms (I recommend using baby bellas)****
  • 1 1/2 c. beef stock****
  • 1/4 c. butter or margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. AP flour
  • 1 1/2 c sour cream (you can substitute this with Greek yogurt for a healthier option)

**** For a vegetarian option omit the beef and substitute for 1 1/2 pounds of portobello mushroom caps.  Use the large variety for a more “meaty” mouth feel.  Also substitute the beef stock for vegetable stock****

Now to put it all together.

  •  Take a large skillet and cook your mushrooms, onions, garlic and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender.  Once done remove from the pan and reserve in a bowl to be added at the end of the cooking process. If opting for a vegetarian version of this dish skip the browning stage of the meat in step 2 and continue with the instructions.
  • While your vegetables are sauteing take your skirt steak and slice across the grain into 1 1/2 inch strips.  Place the beef strips (or ground beef) into the skillet and brown on all sides.  Take note to not over crowd the pan as the meat will then stew instead of brown.  We want to achieve the Maillard effect**  Once brown on all sides stir in 1 cup of broth and the Worcestershire sauce.  Bring contents to a boil and then reduce to allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes.  If using ground beef drain out extra fat before adding the broth and omit the 30-45 minute braising step. While you braise your skirt steak, take remaining broth and stir in 1/4 c. AP flour to make a slurry.  This is your thickening agent to make the creamy velvet sauce that we all know and love.
  • Stir in your broth flour mixture back into the beef mixture.  Add your mushroom and onions back to the pan and heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Once at a boil stirring constantly for 1 minute.  This will activate the flour and the fat in the pan and help thicken the sauce.  Stir in your sour cream and heat till hot (do not allow to boil!!!!).
  • Serve over egg noodles with a chunk of crusty bread to sop up all the goodness at the end.

Helpful tips

Partially freeze your beef prior to slicing as this will actually make it easier.  Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes or so.

Always use a sharp knife.  This will help make the process easier as well as help avoid any accidents.  I’ve cut myself many a time due to a dull blade slipping and cutting my hand.  Sharp knives save lives………no seriously…okay they end lives too but in this instance I don’t want to end up with 9 fingers.

If you dont feel like pasta try subbing out pasta and turning it into a pizza using the mushroom beef gravy as your sauce and top with a little mozzarella baking in an oven at 450 until bubbly.  I recommend using a more bready crust like Boboli to avoid any sogginess.