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Basil Vinaigrette

August 19, 2016



Basil. The taste of summer. This dressing, otherwise known as “Maureen’s Dressing,” is all you need for your seasonal salads, a drizzle for your burrata, a side for your grilled meats or…your shoe!! It really doesn’t matter what your put this on….it’s heaven in a jar.

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 -5 fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced thin
plus additional for salad

Salt and pepper

Throw the chopped garlic into a food processor and pulse until very
Add honey, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and Dijon.
While processor is running, drizzle in olive oil.
Add basil and pulse until nicely blended. Season with salt and pepper.

I like a simple salad of arugula, shaved parmesan, shreds of basil leaves and toasted pine nuts.

Adapted from: Maureen


California Roll Salad

August 13, 2016



If you enjoy a good Maki roll, you will love this salad! The original recipe calls for imitation crab. Have you ever read what’s in imitation crab???? YIKES!!! I chose shrimp. The dressing ties all your favorite flavors together. This recipe is very forgiving…I added more ginger, almonds and shrimp for a heartier, tastier meal.

California Roll Salad
Serves 2-3 as main course

½ head of Napa or Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced ( about 3 cups)
2 small heads of Romaine, thinly sliced ( about 3 cups)
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2-3 Persian cucumbers, seeded and sliced into half-moons
¾ cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 pound of shrimp, cut in chunks OR 1 package (8 oz) imitation crab, cut in half horizontally and shredded
1 medium avocado, pitted and diced

Optional ingredients: 1 carrot grated, 3 tablespoons chopped pickled ginger, garnish with 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.

¼ cup mayonnaise
scant ¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce

Mix the first seven ingredients in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the mayo, vinegar, sesame oil, and tablespoon and soy sauce until well combined. Add a bit more soy if you want it saltier. If you’d like it to be creamier, add a bit more mayo and/or sesame oil.

Pour the dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly to combine.
Adapted from: Bonaattempt




Basil Watermelon Cooler

July 29, 2016



Here’s a refreshing cocktail for the season full of picnics and watermelon. It’s the perfect cooler for sitting on the front porch swing. If only I had one. A kick from the ginger, herbal notes from basil and sweetness from watermelon make for the perfect summery libation. Cheers!

Basil Watermelon Cooler 

Makes 2

3  large basil leaves
1  slice peeled ginger
1  chunk watermelon
.5 oz simple syrup
2 oz Vodka
.5 oz fresh lime juice
Ginger ale

1 Watermelon slice and basil leaf

In a shaker, muddle the basil, ginger, watermelon and simple syrup.

Add the vodka and lime juice, and fill with ice.

Shake well and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.

Top with ginger ale and garnish with a watermelon slice and basil leaf.






Pasta With Roasted Tomatoes And Walnut Pesto

July 22, 2016


A seasonal pesto is perfect for a quick weeknight meal or casual entertaining. In this recipe the walnuts add an earthy flavor to a dish that is rich with sweet, smokey roasted tomatoes. Charred corn and basil add an additional taste of summer.  Arugula greens with shaved parmesan, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic round out the perfect summer meal.

Pasta With Roasted Tomatoes And Walnut Pesto
Servings 4
⅔ cup walnuts
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons plus ⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
6 oil-packed anchovies, coarsely chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces spaghetti
½ cup (packed) basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.
Heat broiler. Toss tomatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Broil, tossing once, until tomatoes are blistered and have released some of their liquid, 5–7 minutes. Let cool.
Pulse anchovies, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and ½ oz. Parmesan in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and half of tomatoes, then, with motor running, stream in ⅓ cup oil; process just until combined. Season with salt. Transfer pesto to a large bowl and stir in black pepper.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.
Transfer pasta to bowl with pesto and add a splash of pasta cooking liquid. Toss, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Add basil and remaining tomatoes.
Divide among bowls, top with more Parmesan, black pepper and drizzle with oil.
Pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Adapted from: Bon Appétit and A Life From Scratch





Cherry Clafoutis

July 15, 2016


Clafoutis, (kläfo͞oˈtē) is a French dessert made of fruit, typically cherries, baked in a sweet batter. This tart is simple to prepare. Just arrange the cherries in a buttered dish and cover with a thick flan-like batter. Dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar and serve lukewarm. You may want to serve it with cream. You will love the almond cherry combo!! Take advantage of the season…here’s another beauty, Rustic Cherry Tart.

Cherry Clafoutis

2 cups of fresh sweet cherries, pitted

2 tablespoons of blanched slivered almonds

3 eggs

3/4 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of milk (2% or whole milk)

3/4 teaspoon of almond extract (can sub 2 teaspoons of Amaretto)

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 9X9 or 10X7 baking dish. Scatter the cherries and slivered almonds over the bottom of the dish.

Whisk the eggs and sugars together until smooth. Whisk in te salt and flour until smooth.
Add the milk, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the baking dish over the cherries and slivered almonds.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Check about halfway through the baking and if the top is getting well browned tent it loosely with aluminum foil.
When you pull it put of the oven it will *wiggle a bit which is normal. Place on a wire rack to cool. The clafoutis will have puffed up quite a bit and will deflate while cooling. When cool dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar. Serve.

*Note: the texture of clafoutis is like a sturdy custard, it will feel a bit rubbery and thats what is’s suppose to be like.

Adapted from: David Lebovitz








Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Parmesan Chicken (No Cream)

July 9, 2016


Another easy chicken recipe for a quick weeknight meal! This one-skillet meal is packed with mouth watering Italian flavors…boasting garlic, sundried tomatoes, Parmesan and basil. What I love about this creamy, rich sauce is that there is NO cream. I chose whole milk but next time I will go lighter. The cornstarch mixture will also thicken up a lighter version. Take a break from the grill this week and fill your home with outrageous aromas. Serve over pasta or couscous.

Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Parmesan Chicken
Serves: 4

2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally to make 4 fillets
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Cracked pepper
2 tablespoons reserved sun dried tomato oil (or olive oil)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
7oz jarred sun dried tomato strips in oil, drained (reserve 2 tablespoons of oil for cooking)  (I will use a few less ounces next time)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1½ cups milk (reduced fat, skim or full fat milk)
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
⅓ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh shredded basil, to serve

In a shallow bowl, combine the flour and parmesan cheese. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; dredge in the flour mixture; shake off excess and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Fry the chicken in batches until golden on each side, cooked through and no longer pink (about 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken). Transfer onto a warm plate.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet; sauté the garlic until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms; fry until the mushrooms are just soft.
Reduce heat to low-medium heat, add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
Add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the center of the pan, and continue to simmer while quickly stirring the mixture through until the sauce thickens.
Add in the parmesan cheese; allow sauce to simmer for a further minute until cheese melts trough the sauce. Add the chicken back into the pan; sprinkle with the fresh basil and a title extra pepper (optional), and serve over pasta, coucous or steamed veggies.

Adapted from: Cafe Delites




Four Bean Casserole

July 3, 2016


I never make baked beans. Never. Until now. I have been served this dish twice in the last month. So delicious and memorable it had to be documented. Crisp up some bacon and simply add onion, garlic, mustard and vinegar and cook for 20 minutes. Add 4 different types of beans to the onion mixture, done. It’s that simple. Enjoy this side with any of your summer picnic faire. Thanks Wendy and Kathleen for the inspiration.

Four Bean Casserole

Serves: a bunch

8 slices bacon, crisp and crumbled

1/2 cup cider vinegar

4 large onions, thinly sliced (lots of onions…use less if desired)

2 cans butter beans, drained

1/2 to 1 cup brown sugar

1 can (16 0z) green lima beans, drained

1 tsp dried mustard

1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, drained

1/2 tsp garlic

1 jar (12 oz) baked beans with molasses

1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fry the bacon in a large sauce pan until crisp. Set aside and drain on a paper towel.
Add onion, sugar, mustard, garlic, salt and vinegar in skillet with bacon grease. Simmer 20 minutes.
Add the above onion mixture to the beans in a casserole dish .
Bake covered 30 minutes and uncovered 30 minutes.

Adapted from: Wendy, retrieved from Kathleen!!





Roasted Corn Caesar Salad

July 1, 2016


Roasted corn Caesar salad with Parmesan and Greek yogurt dressing is a perfect side to your grilled meats this summer. This dressing (no egg) is special and will be your go-to for all your Caesars. Grilled corn sweetens and adds a smokey flavor to this traditional salad for a seasonal stunner.

Roasted Corn Caesar Salad

Serves 2 (large)

2 ears sweet corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup whole wheat bread cubes
2 tablespoons brown butter
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 ounce parmesan cheese, shaved
3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese

4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
4 anchovies, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush corn with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until kernels are soft and golden. If you’d like them more charred, you can broil them for 1 to 2 minutes. (Or par boil for a couple of minutes and grill til charred to your liking).  While the corn is roasting, you can also add the bread cubes to a baking sheet and bake them for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden. As soon as removing the croutons from the oven, drizzle them with the brown butter. Cut the corn from the cob.

To make the dressing, add the garlic, yogurt, parmesan, mustard, vinegar, anchovies, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a food processor and blend until pureed. With the processor still on, stream in the olive oil until a creamy dressing forms.

Add the lettuce and corn to a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with the dressing, then add the croutons and remaining cheese. Serve!

Slightly adapted from: Food Network








Grilled Potato Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese and Red Onion

June 21, 2016


Get your sides on! Turn your ordinary potato salad into extraordinary by grilling the baby reds. Then add sweet, smokey red onions, blue cheese and top it off with crispy bacon. My new favorite potato salad is perfectly paired with grilled meats.

Grilled Potato Salad with Bacon Blue Cheese and Red Onion

Serves 12

1 pound sliced meaty bacon
3 red onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 pounds small new potatoes (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), scrubbed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 pound blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Maytag Blue, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the bacon slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until they are brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon slices to paper towel—lined plates to drain. Crumble into 1/2-inch pieces.
Light a grill. In a large bowl, toss the red onion slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the onions over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred and tender, about 5 minutes. Cut the grilled onions into 1/2-inch pieces.
In a large pot of salted cold water, bring the potatoes to a boil. Simmer until they are beginning to get tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and cut them in half. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the potatoes over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are tender and browned, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the blue cheese. Add the bacon, onions and potatoes and toss to coat. Transfer the salad to a clean bowl and serve.

Adapted from: FoodandWine




Limoncello Fruit Salad

June 4, 2016



Summer entertaining calls for you to have quite a few side dishes in your repertoire. A fruit salad will brighten any picnic table. This adult version adds Limoncello to the berry mixture. The yogurt topping incorporates lemon curd, vanilla and honey that turns this seasonal staple into an elegant dessert.

Limencello Fruit Salad

Serves 6

7 ounces Greek yogurt (use Fage Total)
1/3 cup good bottled lemon curd
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sliced strawberries (1 pint)
1 cup raspberries (1/2 pint)
1 cup blueberries (1/2 pint)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons limoncello liqueur
1 banana, sliced
Fresh mint springs for garnish OR thinly sliced basil leaves

For the lemon yogurt topping, whisk together the yogurt, lemon curd, honey, and vanilla and set aside at room temperature.
For the fruit salad, carefully toss together the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sugar, and limoncello. Allow them to stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes to let the berries macerate with the sugar and liqueur. Gently fold the banana into the mixture.
Serve bowls of fruit with a dollop of lemon yogurt on top. Top each with a sprig of fresh mint or basil.

Adapted from: Food Network








Spring Poke Bowl

May 20, 2016



The Poke (POH-keh) bowl is on many 2016 watch lists. It’s a  dish I’ve been enjoying for a few years. Hawaiian Poke simply means “chunk.” It originated when fishermen began using the leftover cutoffs from their catch to create a snack which quickly became a staple in the Hawaiian diet. Traditionally, the Poke bowl would consist of a mixture of raw fish, Hawaiian salt, seaweed and chopped nuts. Today this healthy salad features layers of white or brown rice, seaweed, onion and raw fish (ahi-tuna, ahi-salmon, or octopus) marinated in various combinations of Asian sauces and seasonings. Be your own architect when building yours. Think of your favorite sushi roll….then deconstruct it. I rounded out my bowl with avocado, carrots, edamame, cucumbers and ginger.

Spring Poke Bowl

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups short-grain brown rice or white rice
1 1/2 pounds sushi-grade ahi tuna
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Chili paste, optional
2 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
3 carrots, grated
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced, optional
2 large, ripe avocados

Edamame, handful

English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Sesame seeds

Cook the rice according to instructions.

Cut the ahi tuna into 1-inch cubes. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger, grated garlic, vinegar, and chili paste, to taste. Add the ahi and green onions and stir gently to combine. This can be done up to 1 hour in advance. Keep chilled.

Just before serving, dice the avocado into small cubes.

Arrange your poke bowl with scoop of rice, add tuna, avocado, grated carrot, cucumbers edamame and sliced radish. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Serve with cilantro, ginger and more soy sauce on the side.

Adapted slightly from: Sprouted Kitchen







Crispy Salt and Pepper Shrimp

May 14, 2016



This recipe has been around a long time and I’m finally on the bandwagon. Right in my cooking wheelhouse, it requires just a few ingredients and is ready in 20 minutes. The traditional Cantonese dish uses the whole shrimp in the shell then gets deep-fried. Eating the whole shell is typical…well, not here. I’m using peeled, deveined shrimp that’s sparsely coated with cornstarch and quickly sautéed for a healthier version. Fresh black pepper, white pepper, salt, garlic, jalapeño and green onion add the spice. The result….a salty, slightly spicy and crunchy dish you will add to your go-to list.

Crispy Salt and Pepper Shrimp 

Serves 2

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, diced, seeds removed if desired
1-2 stalks green onion, sliced
Grain of choice, to serve
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. In bowl, toss the shrimp, cornstarch (helps the shrimp crisp up), white & black pepper and salt together. Heat up a bit of oil in a heavy bottomed skilled over medium heat. Add the garlic, 1/2 of the jalapeños and 1/2 of the green onions. Cook, stirring, until crisp and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the coated shrimp and cook, until pink and firm, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and toss with the remaining jalapeños and green onions. Serve with your of choice of grain. I like brown rice.

Adapted from: I am a Food Blog




Creamy Piquillo Pepper and Chickpea Soup with Chicken

May 7, 2016



Five ingredients and about 10 minutes. Done. The secret to this delicious soup is the piquillo peppers. Sweet. Smoky.

Incredibly versatile, piquillo peppers come exclusively from Northern Spain.  Their long, triangular shape resembles a birds beak. (Piquillo means beak in Spanish.)  Adding hummus to the soup creates a creamy velvety texture.  Serve with a side salad or cheese quesadillas. Leftovers??  Randy surprised me in the morning with a  fried egg on top of this bowl of YUM!

Creamy Piquillo Pepper and Chickpea Soup with Chicken

Serves 4

1 cup drained piquillo peppers (8 ounces), (1/4 cup cut into thin strips, for garnish) …..a good substitute are jarred roasted red peppers

3/4 cup hummus (7 ounces)

2 cups chicken

1/2 cup cooked white rice, homemade or store-bought (I used brown rice)

1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken


Freshly ground pepper

Garnish: avocado, cilantro sprigs, olive oil, hot sauce

In a blender or a food processor, combine the whole piquillos with the hummus and stock and puree until smooth. Transfer the soup to a medium saucepan. Add the rice and chicken, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the sliced piquillos, avocado, sprig of cilantro, olive oil and hot sauce.

Adapted from: Food and Wine









Chicken Verde Enchiladas

May 4, 2016



Here’s a festive way to celebrate Cinco De Mayo or Tuesday. This recipe pulls together in no time! The first eight ingredients are combined then simmered together for approximately four minutes. The remaining ingredients are then added to the pan. Fill and roll the tortillas, top with shredded cheese, broil to melt…..that’s it!  Easy. Healthy. DELICIOUS.

Chicken Verde Enchiladas

Makes 8

3/4 cup pre-chopped onion (I’m an onion lover….but these are not cooked…careful not to add more)
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
1/2 cup salsa verde, store-bought
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro stems
2 tablespoons sliced jalapeño pepper
5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 ounces shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup chopped tomato
3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 ripe peeled avocado, coarsely mashed
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shaved
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

Place oven rack in lower third of oven, and preheat broiler to high.

Combine first 8 ingredients in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Stir in chicken; cook 1 minute or until heated. Remove from heat. Stir in tomato, sour cream, and avocado.

Stack tortillas; wrap stack in damp paper towels, and microwave at HIGH for 45 seconds. Spoon 1 cup chicken mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up. Arrange tortillas, seam sides down, in baking dish. Top with cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves, dollop of sour cream and chopped tomatoes.

Adapted from: My Recipes






Kale And Hummus Salad

April 30, 2016


IMG_3807This is not your typical kale salad….it’s special. That Dressing!! Have you ever made a dressing with tahini? First time for me too. Tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds, adds flavor, texture (similar to peanut butter) and offers many health benefits, including macronutrients and a variety of vitamins and minerals. This hummus-like dressing hugs those sturdy kale leaves and holds up for an unlikely leftover salad. This recipe incorporates chickpeas that ALSO offer a range of health benefits that boost digestion, help to keep blood sugar levels stable, increase protection against disease and much more. This entree is easy, fast and delicious…perfect for a your weeknight dinner, workday lunch or picnic.

Kale And Hummus Salad

Serves 2-4

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 large lemon
5 cups shredded Tuscan kale (Lacinato), remove the stem and thinly slice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
One 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken breast (or more)
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Slivered almonds or pine nuts, optional (But not really!!)
Za’atar to finish, optional

Salt and pepper, to taste

*Pita bread, olive oil and sea salt

Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and cook just until fragrant, 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, whisk together the tahini and lemon juice. Gradually whisk in the garlic oil. Add the kale, salt and chickpeas and gently toss together, bringing the dressing up from the bottom to coat everything evenly. Add the chicken and cranberries, and toss. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with za’atar if desired. Serve.

*I like to serve this salad with baked pita bread wedges. Slice the pita into wedges and brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake oil golden in a 350 degree oven. (about 10-15 minutes)

Adapted from: Food Network














Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus On Pasta with a Poached Egg and Lemon Butter

April 23, 2016


IMG_3754I’m turning my last post, asparagus wraps, into an entree. The season’s signature vegetable is not only delicious, it has incredible health benefits. Low in calories, fresh asparagus spears are a good source of anti-oxidants and vitamins, A, B- complex, C, K and E.

This recipe, adapted from Canal House, uses pancetta wrapped asparagus grilled until crisp to absorb that smokey flavor.  The spears are placed over pasta sheets and drizzled with lemon butter sauce. Add Parmagiano-reggiano, pine nuts and a poached egg….ohhh and when the lemon and yolk combine….you have a rich, creamy sauce. (Think Pasta Carbonara!) I’m thinking about this recipe for Mother’s Day. Other menu ideas……Eggs In Purgatory, Avocado ToastsHuevos Rancheros, Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with blueberry Compote and Caprese Eggs Benedict.

Asparagus on Pasta with a Poached Egg and Lemon Butter

Serves 2

4-6 tablespoons butter (I used 4 or a bit less)

Juice of ½ lemon and zest of 1/2 of the lemon

About 10 spears of asparagus, peeled and trimmed

10 slices of very thin pancetta

2 eggs

4 sheets of pasta, each about 4 inches long ( I used flat lasagna sheets)

1 small hunk parmigiano-reggiano

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Maldon sea salt, optional

Salt and pepper

Wrap asparagus tight with one slice of pancetta. Spray a grill pan with oil or lightly coat with vegetable oil. On a med-high heat crisp up the asparagus. (about 4 minutes) Place on paper towels to drain.

**Have your two pots of boiling water ready to go at the same time. (Boil when you start grilling the asparagus).

Over medium-high heat cook pasta (about 2-3 minutes). Using a slotted spatula or a long-handled strainer, divide the pasta between 2 warm plates, letting most of the water drip off before putting it on the plate.

Poach your eggs…crack the eggs into 2 small cups. Give the simmering water a good circular stir, then tip 1 egg at a time into the center of the swirling water. Simmer the eggs over medium-low heat until the whites are a bit firm and the yolks remain soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer the eggs to the dishcloth to drain.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and swirl in enough of the lemon juice and zest to suit your taste. Keep warm over low heat.

To plate, start with a bit of the butter lemon sauce, add two sheets of pasta, more sauce, layer the asparagus,  sprinkle pine nuts, parmesan (using a vegetable peeler shave slices), salt and pepper. To finish, carefully place eggs on top.

Note: You can wrap the asparagus with pancetta a day ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Adapted from: Canal House











Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus with Citronette

April 16, 2016


It’s a wrap! You’ve seen it before… sliced pancetta tightly wrapped around beautiful spears of asparagus. But have you made them? Have you made them with a tangy Citronette? NOT to be missed. This is just one way to serve the star of spring veggies. Make sure you have the deli slice the pancetta very thin so it will wrap well and crisp up. Delicious as a first course or the perfect side to salmon, roasted chicken,  burrata cheese or…that incredible egg. My next post will turn these wraps into an entree.

Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus with Citronette

Serves: 6

2 pounds medium asparagus
1/2 pound very thinly sliced pancetta
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme

Chopped, toasted walnuts, for garnish, optional

Tightly wrap each asparagus spear in a slice of pancetta and refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, stir the orange zest and juice with the mustard and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus over moderate heat, turning often, until they are just tender and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with the thyme and serve (serve immediately before the pancetta stays crisp).

Adapted from: The Bitten Word












Creamy Lemon Chicken Piccata

April 7, 2016


Piccata means “sliced, sautéed and served in a sauce containing lemon, butter and spices.”  It’s just that simple.  A quick sauté of chicken breasts followed by an easy, luscious sauce (you will want to drink!) consisting of garlic, capers, chicken broth, lemon and Parmesan that will remind you that spring has sprung. A 30 minute one pot meal that you will want to add to your weekly repertoire…..but elegant enough for a dinner party.

Creamy Lemon Chicken Piccata

Serves 4

2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally to make 4
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 teaspoon salt
Cracked pepper
Light spray of cooking oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons butter (or oil)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1¼ cup chicken broth
½ cup milk (full fat, or 2% or use reduced fat cream or heavy cream)
⅓ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice — juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons capers, plus 2 tablespoons extra to garnish
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Lightly spray your skillet with cooking oil spray and heat over medium-high heat. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour and parmesan cheese. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; dredge in the flour mixture; shake off excess and set aside.
Heat the 3 tablespoon of oil and 2 teaspoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until butter has melted and pan is hot. Fry the chicken until golden on each side and cooked through and no longer pink, 3-4 minutes per side (chicken should register 165 degrees in center). Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm.
Add garlic to the pan ( you may need to add a little oil to the pan) saute just until slightly golden. Pour in 1 1/4 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil, while scrapping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Allow broth to simmer until reduced by half, about 4 – 5 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together 1 Tbsp of water with cornstarch, then pour mixture into the broth in the skillet. Allow to simmer until thickened slightly then reduce heat to low and stir in butter and pour in milk or cream. Bring the sauce to a boil; season with salt and pepper to your taste; add in the parmesan cheese and capers and allow sauce to simmer for about 2 minutes until just a bit thicker.
Add lemon juice, allow to simmer for a minute or so to combine.
Serve over steamed asparagus or angel hair pasta drizzled with that sauce. To garnish top with extra capers, lemon slices and parsley.

Adapted from: Cafe Delites









Eggs in Purgatory

April 2, 2016


Eggs in Purgatory. There are plenty of theories behind the name of this dish. Growing up Catholic, I still get a little anxious just hearing the word Purgatory. Hangin’ out in limbo is not a place I ever want to be. I choose to think of these eggs poached in a fiery red sauce as……Heavenly.  There are many variations on this classic dish. The Middle East calls it Shakshouka, seasoned with chili peppers and onions, often spiced with cumin. Mexicans have their huevos rancheros. My radar continually goes to the Classic Italian version, a flavorful, briny take seasoned with capers, olives, oregano and Parmesan. You can certainly create your own sauce or use your leftover sauce from yesterday’s pasta. Serve as brunch, linner or dinner with a simple green salad and crusty bread.

Eggs In Purgatory

Serves 1 to 3

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to finish
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons pitted black olives
1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed
1 anchovy filet, minced, or more to taste (adds incredible flavor, melts down for a briny flavor)
1 teaspoon dried oregano or double that of fresh
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 (14-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes
Salt, to taste
1 to 4 large eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, plus extra to finish
Bread for toasting, I like a rustic Italian.

(*Great way to use leftover mariana sauce. To taste add additional ingredients from the above list).

Chop garlic, 1/4 cup parsley, olives, capers, anchovies, oregano and pepper and until they are finely chopped. Heat a medium size skillet over medium heat. Once hot, pour olive oil. When warm add parsley mixture to pan and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes (carefully they will splatter) and combine. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Make a small indentation in the sauce for each egg you’re using, and crack them in. Sprinkle the eggs with parmesan, salt and pepper and cover the pan partially with a lid. I used foil because my cast iron pan has no lid. Let the eggs cook for 5 minutes (see Note) or until the whites are set and the yolks loose. You can also finish them off in 350 oven for approx. 10 minutes). Toast (under the broiler) the bread and brush with olive oil and coarse salt.

To finish drizzle with a little extra olive oil, cheese and parsley. Serve with toasted bread.

Note: The eggs will continue to cook when you remove them from the heat.  I recommend taking them off the stove with the whites almost set.

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen




Halibut en Papillote with Spring Vegetables

March 26, 2016



The cooking method known as En Papillote (pah-pee-YOHT) is a French cooking technique in which food is baked inside paper, typically parchment paper. The fish cooks quickly because it steams in its own flavorful juices. The papillote will puff up and the steam keeps the fish and vegetables moist. In this preparation fish is baked on a bed of seasonal vegetables. Add olive oil, lemon, crisp white wine and a dollop of butter, along with fresh herbs to produce an aromatic and light sauce. With the produce departments bursting with spring veggies there are many combinations you can explore. I liked the idea of thin slices of fennel, ramps (or scallions), asparagus, rainbow carrots and peas. The possibilities are endless. Halibut works well in this recipe, but any firm white fish will work such as cod, sole, sea bass or grouper. Serve the pappillote intact for a festive presentation. Happy Spring.

Halibut en Papillote with Spring Vegetables

Serves 4
4   4-6 ounce skinless halibut fillet

12 ramps (or scallions)

A handful of seasonal vegetables, julienned. (asparagus, purple or green/ carrots, rainbow. fennel, a few peas.)

1 lemon, cut in slices

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter (optional)


Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup of dry white wine

Fresh thyme, a few sprigs

Crusty bread, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Tear out 4 (14 x 12 inch) pieces of parchment paper. Fold in half, making a crease down the middle. Using kitchen shears, cut the parchment into a heart shape.
Simple technique. Arrange vegetables on parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and wine. Place fish on top. Season with salt, pepper and herbs. Wrap. Place on baking sheet. Bake 13-15 minutes until slightly puffed. Serve. Snip the packets open with a scissors. Prepare for an aromatic facial! Serve with crusty bread.

Note: Keep your veggies cut to similar sizes for even cooking.







Potato Pave

March 19, 2016


IMG_3335Pave, the French word for “paving stones,” is a term chef Thomas Keller uses to describe the preparation of these “scalloped-like” potatoes. Keller takes basic ingredients and uses this technique to create a flavorful and stunning dish. If you like the art of cooking (like me)… you will find this process to be fun and the result worth the effort!

Potato Pave

Serves 6
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds russet potatoes (three 1-pound potatoes if possible)
5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon softened and 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Canola oil
2 thyme springs
2 garlic cloves, lighted crushed, skin left on
Minced chives

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the cream into a large bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Peel the potatoes. Cut a thin lengthwise slice off one side of a potato so it will rest flat on the mandoline. Lay a Japanese mandoline or other vegetable slicer over the bowl of cream and slice the potato lengthwise into very thin (about 1/16 in) slices, letting them drop into the cream. (If you can’t lay your mandoline across the bowl, slice the potatoes, adding the slices to the cream as you go.) Stop from time to time to toss the slices in the cream to keep them coated and prevent them from oxidizing. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

Brush a 10-by 6 1/2 by 3 inch-high pan with half the softened butter. (Don’t use a shallower pan–you need the depth this size pan gives the pavé.) Line with parchment paper, leaving a 5-inch overhang on the two long sides. These extensions will be used to cover the potatoes as they cook and later serve as handles when unmolding. Brush the parchment with the remaining softened butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Trim the potato slices to form a solid even layer in the bottom of the pan and lay them in the direction that works best to fill the pan. Repeat to form a second layer. Dot with a few cubes of butter and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Continue layering the potatoes, adding butter and seasonings after each two layers. Fold over the sides of the parchment paper to cover the potatoes. Cover tightly with a piece of aluminum foil (to allow the potatoes to steam as they bake).

Bake the potatoes for 1 hour and 50 minutes, or until completely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Remove from the oven and let them cool for 15 minutes. Put a weight on top of the potatoes (see Note), cool to room temperature, wrap well, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 2 days.

To serve, run a palette knife around the two longer sides of the pavé to release it from the pan, or invert onto a cutting surface. Trim all sides of the pavé. Cut the pavé into 12 equal pieces and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Heat some canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes cut-side-down, add the thyme and the garlic, and cook, basting with the liquid in the pan, until browned on the first side, then turn carefully and brown the opposite side.

Arrange the potatoes on a serving platter, browned side up. Put a small piece of butter on each piece to melt, and sprinkle with chives or a sprig of thyme.

Note: The easiest way to weight the pavé is to cut a piece of cardboard just smaller than the top of the pan, so that it will cover the top of the pavé without resting on the sides of the pan. Wrap a cardboard in aluminum foil, set it on top of the pavé, and place a few cans or other weights on the cardboard for an even weight distribution.

Note: To serve a larger crowd, I have doubled the recipe and layered the potatoes in a casserole pan. Made earlier in the day, including browning. Then re-heated in the oven before serving.







Feta Tapenade Tarte Soleil

March 5, 2016


Tarte Soleil or sun pie. This impressive appetizer is much easier to prepare than it looks. It’s  made with store-bought puffed pastry that is defrosted overnight. In a food processor the tapenade is quickly made with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, garlic, oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper. With some creative twists and a feta dip, you have a stunning, savory Mediterranean dish.

Feta Tapenade Tarte Soleil

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil or reserved oil from tomatoes, plus more if needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes to taste

2 packages puffed pastry  (thaw in fridge overnight)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon sesame to sprinkle (optional)

6 ounces feta, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Coarse or kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Make the filling: Blend ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped and spreadable. Mixture will be thick. You can thin it with more olive oil if needed.  Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble the tart: Roll first package puffed pastry flat on a large piece of parchment paper or reusable baking mat into a 12-inch circle; use a 12-inch round plate or bowl to mark the size for a clean cut. Repeat with second dough, setting one aside in the fridge until needed.

Place pastry on a parchment. Spread with filling to all but 1-inch from edge. Dab edges with water and place second round on top. Set a small glass upside down in the middle. Being careful not to cut through parchment paper or baking mat, cut away from glass (not through center) in quarters, or at the 3-, 6-, 9- and 12 o’clock marks. Cut through each quarter again, making 8 strips, and again, making 16 strips, and one last time so that you have 32 “rays” of pastry emanating from the center. If at any point in the cutting the pastry too soft and getting difficult to cut, place the tray in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it back up.

Remove glass. Place finger near center of each ray and gently twist each strand a few times. Beat egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water; brush it over pastry and sprinkle with seeds, if desired.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown all over.

Meanwhile, make whipped feta dip: Blend all filling ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Place in bowl for dipping.

Remove tart from oven, let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a serving platter. Tear off rays of sun, dip in whipped feta.

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen









Chicken Pot Pie Pizza

February 27, 2016



Who can resist a bowl of savory chicken pot pie, topped with a buttery, flakey crust? Who can resist pizza? When the two become one magic happens. I rolled out some store bought dough, made a quick béchamel, topped with diced veggies, shredded chicken and diced baby potatoes. I baked til it was crispy. Then I had my sous chef (aka Randy) give it a taste. His response was “this is chicken pot pie pizza!!.” It is honestly crazy that this simple concoction combines two family favorites into one.

Chicken Pot Pie Pizza

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon of butter

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/3 cup shredded cooked chicken

1/4 small onion, diced

Couple of baby potatoes, boiled and diced

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 ball no-knead pizza dough or store bought pizza dough

Salt and pepper, to taste

Arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

If you have any cooked chicken and potatoes on hand, perfect. Shredd the chicken and cube the potatoes. OR boil a couple of potatoes and cook a small chicken breast (then cube or shredd).

In a small pan, heat up the butter over medium heat. When melted, sprinkle on the flour and stir until the flour is completely incorporated. Pour in the chicken stock in a thin stream while whisking. Whisk occasionally, on medium heat, until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Lightly oil a baking sheet. Roll out the  dough to your desired shape.  Spread the slightly cool béchamel evenly on the dough. Top with shredded mozzarella, cooked chicken, diced onions, boiled and cubed potatoes, diced carrots, and diced celery. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven to bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is puffy, crisp and slightly blistered.

Adapted from: i am a food blog  (A Favorite!)






Lentil Soup With Sweet Potatoes And Spinach

February 18, 2016



Lentils are small but mighty, often referred to as “the poor man’s meat.” A member of the legume family, they are an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering fiber (16 grams per cup). They are also beneficial in managing blood-sugar disorders. Lentils provide  excellent amounts of seven important minerals, our B-vitamins and protein (18 grams per cup). All with virtually no fat.

This soup is nutty and earthy in flavor and packed with yummy veggies. We incorporate this powerhouse meal about every 10 days in our house during the chilly months. It pulls together quickly with most of these ingredients on hand and also freezes well. Double up.



1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced      (I add about 6 or more, love, love!)
1 celery stalk, diced       (I add a few)
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups brown lentils
4 (15 ounce) cans chicken broth (or veggie)
2 cups water
2 cans (15 ounce) diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups chopped fresh spinach

****Alternative flavor profile: Eliminate thyme and rosemary . Instead add 2 teaspoons curry and 2 teaspoons cumin. Taste to adjust.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until onion is tender and garlic is light brown in color. Add carrot, celery, and sweet potatoes. Cook until vegetables soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Stir in the lentils, vegetable broth, and water. Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Cook on medium-low heat for about 35-40 minutes or until lentils are cooked.

Add the fresh spinach and stir. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove bay leaves and serve warm.





Avocado Toasts

February 13, 2016


I was at a recent brunch and tried an entrée I usually overlook. Avocado Toast. Sure I like avocados, but this idea just seemed too simple or potentially bland. Wrong.  A trendy Chicago restaurant, Bar Sienna, boasts it’s their number one brunch order. Sold. A simple concept recipe with endless possibilities. The basic idea is to grab a ripe avocado, a piece of multi-grain toast and make it your own. I mashed up the avocado and spiced it up with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. I then layered tomato, a few slices of radish and topped with a poached egg sprinkled with paprika. (A drizzle of balsamic glaze would be nice). I set the toast on a bed of greens drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. This is a great idea for a crowd. Speaking of crowds…as I watched order after order come out of the kitchen, I was curious how they keep making all those poached eggs. I have heard of poaching eggs days before use but was a bit skeptical that this technique would really work. Well, once again…wrong. I made the eggs the day before and reheated them in simmering water until they were warm. Genius. I now have visions of Mother’s Day brunch making Eggs Benedict for 12. I love this idea.



Herbed Shrimp Capellini with Spicy Breadcrumbs

February 9, 2016


If you’re planning a romantic evening at home this Valentine’s Day perhaps I can help. This entree is not only delicious and easy, it will certainly set the tone for this special night in. Breadcrumbs are combined with fresh herbs, lemon juice and butter, then baked for 10 minutes. You then marinate the shrimp with a similar flavor profile as the breadcrumbs then cook the pasta and combine. Pair with a side salad, finish off with chocolate and of coarse, enjoy with sparkling wine or champagne. More suggestions for the evening include…Caramelized Seared Scallops, Salmon with leeks and Beurre Blanc Sauce, Cioppino, Lobster Risotto, Beet and Cheese Napoleons, Blood Orange and Fennel Salad, SS Kale Salad, Chocolate Lava Cake, Creme Brûlée and Salted Butter Caramel Chocolate Mousse.

Bread Crumbs
1/4 pound Italian bread, torn
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt

20 jumbo shrimp (2 pounds), shelled and deveined
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced basil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced oregano
1/2 teaspoon minced thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Kosher salt
3/4 pound capellini or angel hair pasta
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Herbed Shrimp Capellini

Serves 6

Bread Crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the bread with the parsley, oregano, garlic and crushed red pepper until coarse crumbs form. Add the melted butter and lemon juice and pulse until evenly moistened. Season with salt and pepper, then spread the bread crumbs in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden and crisp; let cool.

Preheat the broiler and bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the shallot, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the shrimp in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet (not on parchment paper, as photographed). Broil 6 inches from the heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned and just cooked through; flip the shrimp halfway through broiling.

Meanwhile, cook the capellini in the boiling water until al dente. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Arrange the shrimp over the pasta and sprinkle some of the spicy bread crumbs on top. Serve right away, passing additional bread crumbs and olive oil at the table.

Adapted from: Andrew Zimmern
















Super Bowl Potato Skins

February 5, 2016


Super Bowl Sunday will not be your healthiest day of the year, so just go with it. And you may not be a fan of the big game, so turn your focus to the other competition in the room…the food. These crispy boats are filled with sharp cheddar, Monterey jack and bacon. Top with sour cream and chopped scallions to finish strong. It’s one day….give the people what they want.

Potato Skins

Makes 16 wedges

4 large baking potatoes
Vegetable oil
6 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp and diced
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups grated monterey jack or other mild melting cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream and chopped scallions, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash the potatoes and thoroughly dry them. Rub the potatoes with vegetable oil and place on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Flip them over halfway through baking to even out the cooking.

Leave the oven on, and set aside potatoes until they are cool enough to handle. Carefully cut each potato into quarters, lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out all but 1/2-inch of potato from each wedge. Place potato skins on sheet, spacing about 1-inch apart. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return them to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, to crisp them up.

Meanwhile, combine the shredded cheeses, bacon bits and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl.

Remove the skins from the oven and top each one with a mound of the cheese mixture. Return to the oven and bake until the the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

Serve hot from the oven topped with sour cream and green onions.

Adapted from: Lottie and Doof








Beef And Bacon Meatloaf… And THE Meatloaf Sandwich

January 30, 2016



IMG_3453Meatloaf. A staple on every Mother’s menu because it was an affordable meal that could feed the family for a few days. Here’s a tasty update on this little piece of Americana. Warning: this is NOT your Mother’s meatloaf. The seasoned stock keeps this meatloaf moist and full of flavor and the tasty topping adds a nice combination of sweet and spice. And the bacon, well, adds bacon!! The leftovers, if there are any, make for a delicious sandwich. Pile on the cheese, ketchup, and caramelized onions and you have a grilled cheese meatloaf sandwich that will rival any diner.

Following the meatloaf recipe…..the sandwich!

Beef and Bacon Meatloaf

Serves: 8
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, grated on large holes of a box grater
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
¾ cup ketchup
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs
⅔ cup fine breadcrumbs
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground beef chuck (15% fat)
6 thin strips bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Heat oil over medium in a small skillet. Add onion and cook oil soft, about 4 minutes. Then add garlic, cook for an additional 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, bring ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, and cayenne to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Transfer 2 tablespoons ketchup mixture to a blender; add broth and parsley and blend until smooth. Set remaining ketchup mixture aside.
Add broth mixture, eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper to onion and garlic; mix to combine. Add beef and mix well with your hands to combine. Transfer meatloaf mixture to prepared pan and form into a long log (about 12″x5″). Spread reserved ketchup mixture over top and drape bacon over loaf, tucking underneath. ( I would trim the bacon just at the bottom of the loaf and slightly tuck. My experience was the bacon does not crisp underneath and just adds fat.) Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 165° and bacon is crisp, 70–80 minutes. (If the meat is done and the bacon needs additional crisping…set under the broiler for a few minutes till desired crispiness.) Let rest 10 minutes before slicing. (The loaf needs to set up for perfect slices.)

Adapted from: Bon Appetit






Meatloaf Sandwich

Make it your own. Or as shown…..

Sourdough slathered on the outsides with butter.

Add White cheddar, meatloaf, mayo (optional), sharp cheddar, caramelized onions. Grill til all melty!! I cooked the sandwich on a grill pan TENTED with foil to help the cheese melt.

***you could save some of the ketchup from the top of the loaf to add on the sandwich.



Daube de Boeuf with Belgian Ale

January 23, 2016


In Andrew Zimmern’s words, “this is a warm hug from the inside out.” Daube de Boeuf, a classic Provencal stew, is the ultimate comfort food. This variation from Zimmern uses Belgian ale instead of the traditional red wine version. Like most braised dishes this dish is best the day after. Our experience with this bowl of hug was certainly delicious the day it was made, but outstanding the following day. Serve with crusty French bread.

Daube de Boeuf with Belgian Ale

Serves 6

3 pounds trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (Have your butcher cut and trim beef)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
One 12-ounce bottle Duvel or other Belgian golden ale
4 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
3 thyme sprigs, 3 parsley sprigs and 1 bay leaf, tied in cheesecloth
10 new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice (or lots more)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine the beef and flour and shake well. Remove the beef from the bag, shaking off the excess flour.

In a large cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add one-third of the beef and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 5 minutes; reduce the heat if the meat browns too quickly. Transfer the meat to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil and beef.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the casserole. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the beer and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the beef back to the casserole along with the stock and herb bundle. Bring the stew to a boil, cover and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.

Gently stir the potatoes and carrots into the stew, cover and bake for about 25 minutes longer, until the vegetables are tender. Discard the herb bundle. Stir in the Dijon and vinegar, season the stew with salt and pepper and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: 3 days

*the next day stew, I added quinoa as it was rewarming to thicken  up some of that sauce. Delicious.

***My lucky, lucky niece works for Andrew Zimmern, tests recipes and photographs his work. Thanks Madeleine for this inspiration.

Adapted from: Andrew Zimmern




Roasted Chicken with Tomato, Basil and Ciabatta

January 16, 2016


When Courtney raves and receives raves about a comfort food recipe, I listen! This recipe is simply about the layering of ingredients that LOVE hanging out together. In a large roasting pan, start with chunks of a ciabatta loaf. Then add tomatoes, olives, a whole garlic bulb, fresh basil, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Finish with placing a cut up roaster on top and bake for an hour or so.  Something magical happens when all these yummy flavors melt together and THAT base of ciabatta soaks up all those juices, and well… words!

Roasted Chicken with Tomato and Basil and Ciabatta

Serves: The Whole Family!

1 ciabatta loaf
2 big handfuls of cherry tomatoes
1 big handful of the best olives you can afford
1 big garlic bulb
Fresh basil
One whole cut up fryer chicken (I have the butcher cut the fryer)
Good olive oil
Salt & pepper
Red chili flakes
8 slices of pancetta

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper the chicken. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and brown the skin side of chicken til crispy. (Just a few minutes…you don’t want to cook the chicken). You can omit this step and broil the chicken in the last step of the recipe.
In a large roasting pan, tear up a ciabatta loaf and layer the bottom. Along with it goes two big handfuls of cherry tomatoes, one big handful of good quality olives and one big garlic bulb broken into cloves, skin still on.
Tear up some fresh basil and sprinkle throughout.
Pour a generous amount of good olive oil, salt & pepper, and a sprinkle of red chili flakes. Toss with your hands and then reposition chicken or on top.
Roast for 30 minutes. Remove and reposition chicken and roast another 30. Take out and place 8 slices of pancetta on top of the chicken skin and roast 15 minutes more. (For all you pancetta experts, the photo shows prosciutto on top. That’s what I had on hand. You NEED to use pancetta for a smokey finish).
At this point your chicken will be cooked through. This is where you can turn the broiler on if you have not already browned the chicken. This will crisp up the chicken and pancetta.
Before serving, add a few fresh basil leaves for color.
Adapted from: A Life From Scratch