The other day I was cooking with the Vanderbilts… okay, not THE Vanderbilts, but A Vanderbilt. It was Jessie of Vanderbilt Wife and believe me, her blog is as rich with delicious recipes as the Vanderbilts are with, you know……!! Which of course made it difficult to chose just ONE!! So, I didn’t…!!

Jessie says,

    “I started Vanderbilt Wife in 2006 as a way to make myself write more regularly. That is still my primary goal. I also want to support other women who feel more than a little imperfect, like myself.

Her first entries are little snippets of her life: Why I hate Bowling”; “Making Memories’:I don’t think being an introvert is a bad thing.” I loved reading each and every one of those.

But as time went by she started adding recipes. Thank you, Jessie!!!

It wasn’t easy picking the recipes – it never is- but I ended up with:


    Crunchy Panko Chicken Fingers



    Parmesan and Herb Chicken Fingers

Both used different methods to make but I decided to use the same method on both “finger groups” and try the different flavors. I used the milk and egg dip for both which gave me a nice solid coat for the chicken pieces. Then I used the differnt herb/spice mixes. Both were sooo good.

Crunchy Panko Chicken

    1 lb. chicken tenders
    1 egg, beaten
    1/2 c. milk
    3/4 c. flour
    1 c. panko bread crumbs
    1 tsp. paprika
    1/2 tsp. cumin
    salt and pepper

Set up bowls, pie plates, or fancy-smancy Pampered Chef coating trays that I kind of wish I had. In the first, place flour. In the second, milk egg and milk. In the third, combine panko, paprika, and cumin.

Season tenders with salt and pepper. Dip in flour, then egg wash, then coat well with panko. Place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and coating is slightly brown.

For the Parmesan Herb Fingers:

    1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
    3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    1 T Italian seasoning
    2 tsp. dried parsley
    1 1/2 T minced garlic
    3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
    generous sprinkling of salt and pepper

    Mix all together with a fork.

Follow the recipe for the Crunchy Fingers.

They were both good and made great wraps:


When it turned cold, finally, I wanted something warm and comforting. What better than SOUP!


In this case, Farmer’s Market Soup or what Jessie referred to as “A Take on Ribollita” which is “simply a “next-day” kind of soup, made with leftovers.” While Jessie put beans and fennel in hers I left them out and added in some shredded cabbage. It was the perfect way to warm up on a cold day. And, better, it was nice and light after all the rich holiday food.

    3 T olive oil
    2 onions, chopped
    2 carrots, sliced
    4 garlic cloves, crushed
    2 celery stalks, finely sliced (I always add some of the inner celery leaves for flavor)
    1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped (this post from Orangette has a good tutorial for cutting fennel)
    2 large zucchini, cut into thin half-moon slices
    14 oz crushed tomatoes
    10 basil leaves, chiffonaded
    4 cups vegetable stock
    14 oz can cannellini or Great White Northern beans
    salt and pepper
    grated Parmesan cheese and Texas toast — optional

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, garlic, celery, and fennel. Saute slowly for 10 minutes. Add zucchini and saute an additional two minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, basil, stock, beans and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, simmer 25-30 min. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Serve with Texas toast and Parmesan cheese sprinkled lightly over the top of the bowls.

Super simple, super delicous, super adaptable.

For more of Jessie’s recipes visit her website.

Jessie was my January Assignment for Secret Recipe Club. Visit below for all the other members.