Wednesday, December 31, 2008

There's a beef wellington in the works...

Hello all! The holidays have kept me quite busy. Can anyone else identify?

This evening we are hosting friends for dinner, and I will do my best to impress with a kick-ass beef wellington. This is a dish i have often strayed from because it is known for being tough to get right. A particular story always comes to mind involving a chef that once came to my parents house to prepare his special beef wellington. As the story goes, chef took hours and hours and hours to make his specialty. To pass the time, he glugged down several bottles of wine and made a complete fool of himself. To this day, I am not sure if Chef Wino even actually finished preparing the meal.

At any rate, I'll provide a full recipe, and pictures tomorrow ( providing it doesn't take so long to make that I drink myself into oblivion...)

Happy New Years everyone! Be safe, and let's shove 2008 right on out the door.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mango and Hearts of Palm Salad

This salad was something I tried last night as I prepared a celebratory dinner for my husband who has recently found a new job. In times like these this is GREAT news! This salad kicked off our meal with a crisp and delightful flavor that was actually much more than I expected. You never know with a new recipe, and that's the beauty of it, right?


1 14oz can Hearts of Palm
1 Mango
1/4 of a chopped red onion
the juice of one lime
2 teaspoons bold and spicy mustard
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cups of baby spinach
Kosher Salt

Start by preparing the dressing. Whisk the lime juice, and mustard together, and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil while still mixing. Set this aside.

Next, peel the skin off of your mango, and use a pairing knife to remove all of the flesh from the fruit's pit and cut it into bite size pieces. Then, open the can of hearts of palm and drain well. Cut each piece into 4 smaller bite size pieces. Mix mango chunks, hearts of palm, and onion with 3 tablespoons of dressing, and set aside while you prepare the spinach.

Start by placing about one cup of washed spinach onto each serving plate. Next, season with a bit of fresh cracked pepper, and kosher salt. Finally, divide your mango and hearts of palm mixture evenly over the 4 plates. Drizzle lightly with any remaining dressing, and serve immediately.

This is soooo good!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Peppermint Hot Chocolate


2 and 1/2 cups vanilla soy milk
2 and 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 candy canes
2 tablespoons of sugar
pinch of salt
whipped cream or Cool Whip

Makes two generous portions!

Tis the season! Tonight as John and I decorated our tree, we enjoyed a delicious glass of hot chocolate. Normally I would use milk, but as i am getting over a cold, I wanted to stay away from the dairy products. Feel free to use milk if you like, but the soy is delicious as well.

Start by heating the soy milk over medium low heat until just warm. Next add in the sugar, cocoa powder, salt and whisk well. Break one candy cane in half, and toss it into the warm liquid. Allow the hot chocolate to warm through a bit more, and serve once the candy cane is completely dissolved. If you see any lumps of chocolate, just whisk the mixture a bit more, and you should be lump free. Next, take a plastic bag and stick the second candy cane inside. Use a rolling pin, or even an aluminum can to crush the candy into bits. Finally, pour the hot chocolate into mugs, and top with whipped cream, and your crushed candy canes. Mmmm- Mmmm. You gotta love Christmas!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bolognese-Inspired Red Sauce

Hello my dears! I have been sick for the past few days, and also started a part-time gig as a barista at my local Starbucks. So, to keep your mouths watering this week, I present to you my wonderfully and culinarily talented husband. Here in his own words is a fantastic and rustic pasta dish. I hope you the meanwhile, I will be resting. Take it away babe...

Ok...So, I was going for a classic Bolognese when I started, but I realized I had no tomato paste. I subbed in a large can of regular tomato sauce and used whatever else I had on hand. I also experimented with cooking the pasta about halfway in salty water and finishing it in the sauce itself. The result was delicious, and pretty similar to a Bolognese, so I thought I'd contribute it to my wife's blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


1 medium onion, peeled
1 green bell pepper, seeded
3 medium carrots, skinned
3 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup kosher salt (use most in pasta water)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 26 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup half and half
1 pound Italian sausage
1 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
3 or 4 bay leaves
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 pound penne rigate pasta
1/3 cup parmesan, shredded

Roughly chop the onion, pepper, carrots and celery, and add these to the food processor along with the garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.

Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add the sausage (if you are using links, remove the skin) and using a wooden spoon or spatula, break it into small pieces. Once it is cooked most of the way through, add the chopped aromatic vegetables from the food processor, a pinch of the salt and all of the black and red pepper. Saute until soft. Then add all of the tomato sauce, half and half, red wine and chicken stock and bring up to medium heat. Add the Italian seasoning and bay leaves and simmer for about an hour, stirring frequently.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the rest of the salt and pasta, and then cook until VERY al dente, about 5 or 6 minutes depending on the brand. Bring the sauce up to a slow boil, drain the pasta (but don't rinse it!) and then add it to the sauce. Cook it the rest of the way - about 3 or 4 minutes - in the sauce, stirring constantly. It should absorb a lot of the liquid and a lot of the flavor of the sauce as it finishes cooking. I found cooking it this way accomplishes two things: it adds flavor to the pasta and thickness to the sauce so that it should stick very well to the pasta - like that Bolognese I wanted when I started cooking. Serve on plates, or a large platter if going for a family-style presentation, and garnish with the parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brining - Trust me, you'll love it!

A few years ago, I learned of a basic cooking technique designed to help keep meat moist. Brining. Whether it's a simple solution of salt and water, or a more flavorful concoction with herbs and apple cider or beer, everybody's holiday turkey can benefit from a dip in the 'ol saltwater swimming pool. And no, don't go throwing your turkey in the ocean, though in a pinch I bet it would do!

How does it work? To brine a piece of meat, you basically soak your raw meat in a solution of salt and other liquids for a time before cooking. In the case of a turkey, you would want to allow 6-8 hours depending on the size of your bird. Something as small as a shrimp would only need to brine for about 30 minutes. This isn't an exact science here, so don't even worry about messing it up. Though I can tell you that while your bird is soaking, some pretty scientific principles are at work...and in your favor (flavor?). Basically, the salty solution is actually altering the structure of the cells in the meat, thus opening them up to the flavors of the brine and tenderizing each and every bite! Why oh why did I skip this step for so many years?!!

Here are some recipes that you just might want to give a try this Thanksgiving. If nothing else, fill a large pot or a cooler with water, and throw in a cup of kosher salt for each gallon of liquid. Stir things up a bit and drop in your turkey for awhile. You won't be disappointed.

Watch here as Chef Bobby Flay walks you through the brining process.

Click here for a brine with a bit of a citrus twist, or try this sweet and spicy brine from Alton Brown.

Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Balsamic Peppers with Feta Cheese

This appetizer came to me when I challenged myself to have a small dinner party without going to the grocery store. With a bit of creativity, the night was perfect! This was a great anti-pasto style starter for the evening. Serve with your favorite glass of wine, and you are set!


1 jar of roasted red peppers (about one cup sliced)
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

4 slices of white bread
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Serves 4

Simply drain the peppers, and them slice them into thick pieces. In a bowl, combine the peppers with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Arrange the peppers on a serving tray and surround with the feta cheese crumbles.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the crusts off of your white bread, and then cut each slice in half down the middle. Feel free to keep the crusts on if you like, I was simply trying to hide the fact that I had used regular ol' wonder bread. I think it worked! Now brush each piece with olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Arrange the slices on a cookie sheet, and heat for 8-10 minutes or until slightly brown. Serve with the peppers and cheese for a wonderful and quick appetizer.

If you really wanted to make something special, garnish the dish with capers and fresh basil.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shaved Zucchini Salad

I first got the idea for this salad at a friend's Tuscan themed dinner party. A beautiful evening of good food, good wine, and even better company is always so inspiring! If you are in need of a simple, yet beautiful salad, or if you are just plain tired of ice-burg lettuce, I invite you to step out for a real culinary treat.


2 large zucchinis
2 tablespoons of good olive oil
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/4 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese

Start by shaving the zucchini into long strips using either a mandolin, or a vegetable peeler. You will only be able to use about half of the zucchini because once you get to the seeded interior of the vegetable, you will not want to use the strips. Save the leftover interior of the zucchini and use it in a stir-fry, or ratatouille later in the week. Set the strips aside.

In a small frying pan over medium heat, lightly toast the chopped mac nuts to enhance their flavor. This will take 4 to 5 minutes. Watch the nuts carefully, because they burn quit easily. Pine nuts are also a very delicious option if you don't like mac nuts.

To assemble the salad, simply toss the zucchini strips with the olive oil, and season to taste. I like to use my hands! Plate the salad into individual serving dishes, and top with the Parmesan cheese, and macadamia nuts.

Note: For best results, use the highest quality olive oil and Parmesan cheese that you can get your hands on. Since this ingredients are used sparingly, you want to make sure they stand out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sticky Popcorn Treats

Do you still have a veritable stockpile of Halloween goodies lying around? Here is a recipe that I adapted from a Halloween treat created by Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network's Italian goddess. Though this recipe doesn't seem Italian at all, I did find it perfect for Halloween, and even better for after Halloween. So whether you just like the idea of candy and popcorn TOGETHER, or you way overbought for this year's Trick or Treaters, here is a fun way to use up all of your extra candy. My recipe calls for specific types of candy, but substitute anything that you have lying around. This will work just fine with just about any nut or chocolate based candy.


cooking spray
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 10oz bag mini marshmallows
1 king size snickers bar cut into tiny pieces
1/3 cup chopped salted almonds,
3/4 cup Reeses pieces

Spray the inside of a large mixing bowl with vegetable cooking spray, and lightly spray a baking sheet. Set aside.
In a 3 quart or larger, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil and popcorn over medium-high heat. Cover the pan and shake gently. Cook until all the kernels have popped, about 3 minutes. Place the popcorn in the prepared bowl.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over low heat. Add the vanilla extract and marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallows have melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Pour the melted marshmallow mixture over the popcorn. Using a spatula, sprayed with cooking spray, stir until the popcorn is coated. Spread the mixture over the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts and assorted candy. Using a spatula, gently press the toppings into the popcorn. Allow the mixture to dry for 1 hour.
Divide into 2-inch pieces and store airtight in a plastic container.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Deviled Eggs

Everyone has a family recipe that it would be just sinful to "doctor up." This one, for deviled eggs, was introduced to me by my husband's family, and these babies are always a simple party favorite. I guess sometimes it's better to not mess with something that's simple AND delicious, right? Here goes...


12 eggs
1/2 cup of mayo
2 teaspoons of white vinegar
2 teaspoons of yellow mustard
2/3 teaspoon of salt
pepper to taste

Hard boil the eggs by placing them in a pot of cool water -just enough to cover the eggs. Bring the water up to a boil and then pop a top on the pot (try saying that 10 times over) and remove from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cool the eggs under cold running water and gently peel them

Next, scoop out the yolks and set the whites aside for filling. Add all of the remaining ingredients accept the paprika to the yolks and mix well. For a super creamy consistency use a hand mixer to get out any of the lumps.

To fill the little egg white "cups," we load all of the yolk mixture into a zip lock bag with the corner cut off. Gently squeeze the mixture out of the bag's corner to fill the eggs. Garnish with a bit of paprika sprinkled on top, and you are finished. For an elegant presentation, serve with fresh asparagus spears.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pomegranate Martini

Here is a slightly tart Fall treat that will be the star of any event. I served these at a recent charity cocktail party where we raised money in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


1.5 ounces of vodka
2 ounces of pomegranate juice
1 ounce of simple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
3 or 4 ice cubes

Rim a martini glass with sugar by taking a wedge of either lime or lemon and rubbing it around the edges of the glass. Next dip the glass into an appropriately sized bowl of sugar, and set aside.

Mix all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Strain into your martini glass, and garnish with a lime wedge. If you are unsure of how to make a simple syrup, see this recipe.

If you are serving these at a cocktail party, it is best to make up a big batch of these and store them in a decorative pitcher. This way your guests will have easy access to these delicious libations. Each guest can simply use the shaker to prepare their own cocktail. You could even rim a bunch of glasses ahead of time. Cheers everyone!

Taste the cocktail for appropriate sweetness before serving as not all pomegranate juices are created equal. If it's not sweet enough, add a little more simple syrup. If it seems too sweet, try adding some extra citrus juice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spinach Lasagna

Oooy! As is so often the case in this household, I, as the cook am watching what we eat. I'm also trying to work out, but that's another story. It is sad what happens to the body when such important physical maintenance tasks go neglected for a bit. After a long summer full of both gregarious and sorrowful occasions (all with plenty of food and drink), I am trying my best to get back into my own health. To complicate matters, my family like many of you out there has been forced to really REALLY cut back on our spending. Over the next few months you will see me attempt to cook only healthful meals that are easy on the budget. You will see me fall of the wagon from time to time, but just know that my heart will be in the right place.

Here is a recipe that makes you feel like you are being bad, but your not. I swear! This rendition of a Spinach and Ham Lasagna takes a little bit of time to make, but if you have a little time to lolly-gag around in the kitchen, its worth it.


6 dried lasagna noodles

10 ounces of frozen spinach

2 cups of fat free milk

1/4 cup onion

1 tsp olive oil

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 cups diced cooked ham

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

Start by cooking the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the package. Once cooked, rinse the noodles with water and set aside.

Next, cook frozen spinach according to the package directions, and then drain off all of the 'juice.' This can be done with a thin kitchen towel or a cheese cloth. Simply dump the thawed spinach into the towel, and squeeze out the juice. The towel will act as a sieve allowing the spinach and the juice to separate without making too much of a mess.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute onion for about 2 minutes in the olive oil. Next, add in the milk and cornstarch cooking for 4 or 5 minutes until a thick sauce forms. Spread 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto the bottom of a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Stir ham and Italian seasoning into the remaining sauce, and season generously with pepper, and very lightly with salt. Most of the sauces salt flavoring will come from the ham.

Arrange three lasagna noodles in the pan and cover the noodles with 1/3 of the sauce. Layer spinach on top, and then cover with another third of the sauce. Spread cottage cheese, and half of the mozzarella on top as well. Lay the remaining noodles across the dish, and top with the last third of the sauce, and the rest of the mozzarella cheese and all of the parmasean.

Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until heated through and slightly browned at the edges and on top. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Note: A very tasty full fat version of this recipe could be made using regular cottage cheese, and whole milk.

I adapted this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens "Big Book of Healthy Family Dinners."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

White Wine and Herb Seafood Pasta

I just watched one of my favorite cooking shows, Jamie at Home. The show, featuring the world’s coolest most laid back chef, Jamie Oliver, is always so breathtakingly inspiring. Today he did an amazing mixed seafood grill featuring shrimp, fresh fish, scallops, and squid. If any food could actually give you an orgasm, this dish would be a strong contender. In honor of the beautiful seafood I saw Jamie prepare, I’d like to share one of my favorite ways to indulge in the bounty of the ocean.

White Wine and Herb Seafood Pasta.


15 basil leaves coarsely chopped

5 springs of oregano chopped

2 sprigs of rosemary chopped

¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley

5 cloves of garlic

1 pound of your favorite pasta

4 tablespoons of butter

4 tablespoons of olive oil

10 oz white wine (nothing too sweet)

1 pound of medium size shrimp

1/2 pound of scallops



½ cup parmesan cheese

Bread crumb topping:

3 slices of bread

2 cloves of garlic – cut in half

2 tablespoon of olive oil



To start, peel and de-vein shrimp and then set aside. Next , cut scallops in half so that they are very close in size to the shrimp, and set aside. Some scallops my not need to be cut.

Boil salted water, and cook pasta according to the directions on the box. To time this dish, drop the pasta into the water right as you begin making the seafood/ sauce.

In a large pot on medium – high heat, combine butter and olive oil, and garlic. Saute for about 2 minutes, or until garlic begins to soften. Add in the seafood and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add in wine and chopped herbs, and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, allowing for the alcohol to evaporate from the wine. Season the pot with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Pour seafood mixture over your cooked pasta and toss well. Top with parmesan cheese, and bread crumb topping ( see below).

I hope you love this as much as we do. I can’t believe I haven’t shared this recipe until now!

Bread Crumb Topping:

Process bread slices in a food processor until a very course crumb is achieved. This happens really fast!

In a frying pan, heat oil, and garlic over low heat for about ten minutes. All you are doing here is getting the garlic to infuse into the oil. After 10 minutes, discard the garlic and heat oil over medium heat. Add in your bread crumbs, and stir often as the oil begins to toast the crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the breadcrumbs until they are a deep brown color. For the best flavor and texture, you must bravely walk the line between this deep brown color, and almost burnt. Scary, but you can do it…just don’t walk away from the stove!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shopping For the Winter

I went to the Farmers Market this weekend in Forest Hill Park. As I flitted about the market buying a little of this, and a lot of that, I had big things on my mind. Why not buy much more food than I actually need, and save some for the winter? Farmers do this all the time...They grow what they need for the whole year, not just for the growing season. It's fabulous really. Why eat frozen vegetables bought from the grocer when you can have frozen veggies from one of your local purveyors? That means less mileage on your food, and over all less energy spent trying to feed your family. Sure cans are easier, but just think of all the people 100 years ago who would have died to have such a colorful array of vegetables right at their fingertips. A couple hours of work, and they are yours for the rest of the year. As I know nothing about canning, I will be trying to freeze some things this week. Check out this website for more info on how to process your fresh foods.
Here are two of my favorite veggie recipes:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pad Thai

Oh blog, please don't think I abandoned you. I simply went on vacation. I intended to update you, I really did. It's just that I was in a beach house with 9 really fun people, and they all kept distracting me. I am back now, I promise!

To kick things off this week, here is a really delicious Pad Thai recipe that utilizes ingredients you can find in just about any grocery store. It's easy, keeps well for leftovers, and can feed a crowd. Get ready for something spicy adapted from "The All New Complete Cooking Lite Cookbook."


1 cup chili sauce

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

2 teaspoons chopped serrano chile

1 box (14 ounces) wide rice noodles

2 tablespoons of canola oil

1 8 oz package of extra firm tofu cubes

2 cups of rotisserie chicken

3 eggs

5 cloves of coarsely chopped garlic

3 cups of bean sprouts

1 and 1/4 cups diagonally cut green onions

3/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts

12 lime wedges

Serves 6

Combine chili sauce, brown sugar, water, fish sauce, ginger and serrano chile to form a thin sauce. Set aside.

Cook noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain well and set aside.

Next heat one tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high (Seriously, you'll need a really big pan before this is all said and done.) Cook tofu cubes in the oil for about 7 or 8 minutes stirring occasionally. You want them to turn a golden brown color, and develop a crispy texture. Remove from the pan.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil into the pan and saute garlic for about 1 minute. Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk them (just like scrambled eggs). Add to the non-stick skillet and cook with the garlic until you have scrambles. Stir in chile sauce mixture, cooked noodles, tofu, chicken, bean sprouts, green onions, and half of the cilantro. Cook for 3 minutes or until all of the noodles are warmed through and the bean sprouts begin to wilt.

Serve garnished with peanuts, the remaining cilantro, and lime wedges.

I enjoyed this recipe because it gives you that sassy Thai food flavor, without sending you running in all directions for obscure ingredients. Give it a try one night this week, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Guilt Free Cupcakes

I'm going to the beach on Saturday. That means me in a bathing suit.... So, in order to stave off the little bit of guilt that I almost always feel after eating something sweet (and hopefully slim down my middle), I have found a wonderful and healthful trick to lighten up a boxed cake mix. This isn't exactly a recipe, but more a calorie saving hint that I just had to share.

Here is the deal. Simply make the cake mix according to the directions on the package, only omit the oil. Instead peel, and then grate the flesh of one apple into the mix. You'll need about a half cup of grated apple. Now how healthy and wonderful is that?!

Anytime you remove the fat from something, there is a concern that the end product may be dry. To combat this unpleasant side effect of being health conscious, simply shave off a few minutes from the cooking time to ensure that the finished cakes are nice and moist.

Now if I could only figure out how to make a creamy low fat frosting. Any ideas....anyone? Oh well, these I decorated with chocolate icing and natural peanut butter sweetened with honey. They were the perfect guilt free treat for this health conscious foodie. If you have a healthful baking tip to share, don't hesitate. I am all ears...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kicked Up Banana Smoothie

A Breakfast for Champions....or Monkeys

I love a smoothie, but not that crappy sugary kind that gives you a headache 15 minutes after drinking. I get suckered into those from time to time by an unfounded craving or two. All of that fake fruit, and high fructose corn syrup can wreak havoc on my system, how 'bout yours? Here is something that I discovered just a few weeks ago after hearing my friend Meghan talk about making a similar concoction. This is my rendition of a slurp-able breakfast that has almost all of your nutritional bases covered.


1/2 cup of skim milk

1 banana

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 and 1/2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons of raw oatmeal

1 tablespoon of peanut butter

8-10 ice cubes

Put all of the ingredients except for the ice into a blender and whaz it up. Whaz...i really wanted to use that particular word for some reason! Then add in the ice cubes, and blend until smooth. This is so simple you can even do it at 7am. I must preface these simple instructions with the fact that I have a wonderful blender. Thanks, mom! Gotta love all of the cool kitchen stuff you get when you get married. If your blender leaves a bit to be desired, just go slow and add the ice cubes one at a time through the hole in the lid. Eventually your smoothie will come together into a tasty, filling, and nutritional treat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Weekend Feast

Sometimes you've just got to destroy the kitchen, and go for it. Let's face it, every good meal comes with a good deal of dishes to do later. I am convinced that's why they invented cabernet. After a few glasses, a mountain of dishes seems like no big deal. So if your anything like me, and you enjoy creating an amazing feast at home, get ready and dive into this great menu, perfect for a Friday night in.

The Game Plan:

Appetizer: Tomato and Cucumber Bruschetta

Main Course: Rosemary Seared Steak

Sides: Asparagus with Roasted Garlic Mayo

Sweet Potato Wedges

Dessert: Chocolate Haupia Pie

If you'd like to pair wine with this meal, I'd recommend starting with something light and slightly acidic such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a Beaujolais for your appetizer course. Once you get to the main meal, try something a bit heavier such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, or Zinfindel.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fettuccine with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Ok, wow, I haven't posted in awhile. Sometimes life just gets BUSY!!! We just spent the last 3 days cleaning the hell out of our house. It is going on the market tomorrow, so we can move down the street a bit to a much newer house that we designed ourselves. Yay! And that, my dear readers, meant there has been no time at all for cooking. So here is one I've had in the wings for a few weeks. A delicious and creamy fettuccine with roasted red pepper sauce. I know, how good does this sound?

1 pound of fettuccine
2 cups sliced roasted red peppers (about 2 small jars)
1/2 cup cream
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil

Boil your pasta according to the directions on the box. Cook al dente (or until soft with a slight bite), and heavily salt the water. While the pasta is boiling, you can whip up your sauce. In a food processor, combine all remaining ingredients accept for the basil. Pulse until very smooth. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan over medium heat, and cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. You basically just need to cook the sauce long enough to heat it through, and allow the more pungent garlic flavors to mellow a bit. It should reduce slightly in volume. Towards the end of cooking, throw in one ladle of pasta water. The starch from the water will help to thicken the sauce and allow it to better stick to the pasta.

Pour sauce over your cooked and drained noodles, and garnish with roughly chopped basil. This recipe would also be delicious with shrimp, or even chicken.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush is a creamy, light dip made from roasted eggplants. Flavored much like hummus, this zingy little dip will give your next party a fun Mediterranean flair.

2 large eggplants
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 clove of garlic (minced)
6 slices of pickled jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup tahini paste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Start by heating your oven to 425 degrees. Once the oven is up to temperature, place both eggplants (whole) on a baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until VERY soft. The skin may actually look a little burned, but this is perfectly normal. Allow the eggplant to cool for about 30 minutes before handling. Once cool, remove the skin from the eggplant and discard. You will use the gooey insides as a base for your dip. Trust me, this will get a little bit slippery and messy, but it's all going to be good eats in the end. Place the eggplant into a food processor along with all of the other ingredients. Process until very smooth stopping every 10 seconds or so to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Season well with a good amount of salt and black pepper, and serve with chips. I chose to use little mini pretzel chips, and they tasted great. Baba Ganoush is traditionally served with pita chips, but hey no one says you have to be authentic every time. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shrimp and Pasta Salad

It's finally raining outside, and we here in Richmond have been very very thirsty. And even though we need this rain so badly, I can't help but feel a bit dreary. To shake a bit of the gloom away, I'd like to feature one of the delicious summery recipes sent to me by PJ Pink the author of River City Food and Wine.

Shrimp and Pasta Salad

This recipe comes together in three easy parts. I will list the ingredients by each separate step, and then explain how it all comes together.


Step one -Salad Dressing:

Juice of one lemon

3 tablespoons of rinsed capers

1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard

A pinch of dried crushed red pepper (or more to your taste)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 grated romano cheese

Mix all of these ingredients except for the romano cheese together and set aside for a moment. The cheese will be used later as a tasty garnish.

Step 2 -Pasta and Shrimp:

1/2 pound of pasta ( she likes bowties)

1 pound of large steamed/ peeled shrimp

Boil the pasta according to the directions on the box. Do not overcook! Once done, run the noodles under cool water to chill, and then drain well. For the shrimp, you can either steam 'em yourself, or buy some nice precooked cocktail shrimp and remove the tails. Can you tell which way I am leaning on this one? Add both the pasta and the shrimp to your dressing and combine.

Step 3 - Veggies

2 sliced zucchini

1 diced shallot

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Saute your shallot in olive oil until slightly soft ( about 1 minute). Next add in zucchini and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes or until the zucchini is soft. Set aside to cool, and then add into the rest of the salad. Check the whole sald for proper seasoning, and adjust if needed with more salt and pepper.

Let the entire dish chill for at least an hour and top with grated Romano cheese before serving.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Double Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberries, blueberries everywhere. I recently went to our local berry farm, and picked my way through their gorgeous rows of tall blueberry bushes. Inspired by the mounds of frosty looking fruit piled in my kitchen, I decided to indulge in these double blueberry pancakes. These baby blues are perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast or, with a little planning you can easily give yourself a lovely Monday morning treat.

Your favorite pancake batter - prepared ( I used Hodgson Mill's buckwheat mix)
Blueberry syrup (recipe to follow)
Powdered Sugar

Start by heating a non-stick skillet over medium heat with one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Rub the oil around the skillet with a paper towel, or a basting brush to distribute it around the pan. Once the skillet is nice and hot, pour a quarter cup size of batter into the pan, and quickly drop a small hand full of blueberries across the top of the batter. Distribute the berries evenly so that you can get one in every bite! Wait just a minute or two for the batter to bubble up then flip each pancake. Leave in the pan for another 1-2 minutes or until cooked through. For more on creating the perfect pancake, watch this short video by Kathy Maister at
Top pancakes with a couple of pats of butter, blueberry syrup, and a few shakes of powdered sugar.

Adjust this recipe accordingly based on how many hungry mouths you have to feed!
Blueberry Syrup:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups blueberries

This is easy, are you ready? Pour all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Heat in the microwave for 4- 5 minutes or until thick. This topping can be saved for up to a week. Mine never even lasted that long.

** For an easy weekday morning breakfast, prepare pancake batter ahead of time - it will keep for several days in the fridge, right alongside your syrup.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tomato and Cucumber Bruschetta

Tomatoes and cucumbers play well together. This little recipe came on one of those nights when i was trying to use what I had in the house. My mother used to call it living out of the pantry, and I think learning to improvise and create delicious foods from what you have on hand in an invaluable skill. This delicious concoction has easily earned itself a spot in my list of summer go to appetizers. I originally made this one evening when my Aunt came over for dinner. I was looking for something tasty for us to munch on as we casually prepared our dinner, and sipped our chardonnay. All of the measurements in this recipe are strictly estimates. If you are a little shy on any of the ingredients, go ahead and go for it. You won't be disappointed.

1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped cucumber
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1 small clove of garlic (grated)
3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Serves 5 as an hors d'oeuvres

Here it is, nice and simple. Basically just throw everything into a bowl and mix it up. I know, i wish i could give you more guidance here, but it really isn't needed. This recipe is super simple, so just go with it. Typically I dislike recipes with a ton of ingredients, but it really won't take you long once you collect everything from around the kitchen. I had this done (all of the chopping and everything) in well under 10 minutes. Serve with crackers, crostini, or even tortilla chips. This is best made right before being served.

Tip: If your tomatoes seem really watery, just discard the seeds. Skins are fine though, and even encouraged!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cheesy Zucchini Frittata


6 eggs

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup Cheddar cheese

1 medium zucchini



2 tablespoons of Butter or Margarine

1/2 cup sour cream

Chopped fresh herbs for garnish

Serves 4

A frittata is like an omelet, only much easier. I have to sheepishly admit that I have always had trouble flipping my omelets, and often wound up with some sort of fancy scrambled egg dish (for lack of a better description). So boy, was I thrilled to discover the ease and sophistication of a frittata. All you need is a non stick/ oven safe frying pan, and a few eggs. What you put in your frittata after that can range from leftover steak to vegetables from your garden, to even leftover pasta. Today I'm using zucchini and light Cheddar cheese for a healthy twist. Read on to learn more.

Start by cracking your eggs into a bowl, and whisking them together with 1/4 cup of water. For a rich treat, try using whole milk, or even cream instead! Next, season your eggs generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper. To prep your vegetable, take the zucchini and slice it into paper thin pieces. I like to use my multi-purpose grater. It has a side that works like a mandolin and does a great job of slicing, though a knife will work just as well.

Next, heat a burner on medium heat and melt your butter in the pan. Swirl it around and make sure that all of the edges in the pan are well covered. This will keep your eggs from sticking to the pan. Toss in the zucchini and saute for about two minutes, or until they begin to tenderize. Then add in your eggs, and turn your heat down to low. Let the eggs sit without touching them for about 20 seconds, and then lightly run a spoon around the pan stirring lightly, almost as if you were making scrambled eggs. Don't mix too much, all you want to do is help lift some of the eggs off of the bottom, giving the rest of the liquid a chance to begin to cook.

Once most of the liquid is cooked, sprinkle over the grated cheese, and move your pan to the broiler for about 2 minutes. Make sure your pan is on the top rack of the oven, and then watch carefully! You are looking for your cheese to melt, and begin to lightly brown on top. Never leave the delicate eggs under the broiler for long, or they will become tough.

Once out of the oven, gently take a butter knife, or a heat resistant spatula, and run around the rim of the pan. This will loosen your edges, and make sure that the frittata will slide right out of the pan. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh herbs.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Calling All Cooks- Summer Recipe Contest

Alright... dust off those old family cookbooks, and let's have some fun. I am looking for your favorite summertime eats. What do you just crave in the summer? What goes best with your summer ale, or Chardonnay.

Email your entries to me by August 20th at, and I'll compile a list of favorites just in time for all of your labor day celebrations. I'll try a few out and feature the recipes on my blog at the end of the month.

Ready....Set......Cook away internets, cook away.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Rosemary Seared Steak

In the mood for a steak that will knock your socks off? This is seriously so fast and easy, that you'd hardly even believe it. Add this to your repertoire of great dishes to entertain with. These steaks are meant to cook quickly, and can be seasoned ahead of time.

1 and 1/2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbs butter
1 tbs vegetable oil
12- 14 oz New York Strip Steak (serves 2 people)

Start by mixing up the salt, pepper, and rosemary in a small dish.
Next, score the meat on both side as shown below in a criss-cross pattern. No need to cut deeply into the meat, but just run a sharp knife along the surface to create little ridges and crevices that will hold onto your delicious rosemary rub.
Next rub the meat with your rosemary mixture and let rest for a few minutes. Heat a skillet on medium high with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Just as the oil begins to smoke, slip your steak into the pan and let cook on one side for about 3 minutes or until very dark brown. This can feel a bit like walking on a tightrope, because what you are trying to do is get the meat as close to dark brown as possible, without actually burning it. In other words, watch carefully. Once the desired color is achieved on one side, flip your steak and cook for another 3 minutes on the second side. Depending on the thickness of your steak this will result in meat cooked somewhere between rare and medium. If you like a more well done steak, cook your steak over a medium flame for slightly longer on each side. For a more rare steak, crank up the heat to high and cook for only 2 minutes per side. Whatever your poison, this one is guaranteed to be a winner. Once out of the pan, let the meat rest for 5 minutes so the juices can redistribute. Top with small pats of butter, and serve with potatoes and a salad for a great meal any night of the week.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Kettle Corn

It's summertime! To escape the heat, try curling up on the couch in the AC and catching a movie. And as with any worthwhile event, there has to be snacks! Here is a yummy compliment to any flick no matter who you are. Mmmmmm...Kettle Corn.


½ cup popcorn kernels

5 tablespoons vegetable oil

2/3 cup sugar

2 tbs water

¾ tsp salt

Serves 5

Kettle corn is a such a delicious treat, that its hard to believe how easy it is to make. Yes, it takes about 4 times as long as popping corn in the microwave, but really, it's worth it. Don't most good foods take a little bit of extra time? So, if you want to treat your friends and family to a gourmet movie night that is easy on the wallet, and pleasurable to the on. This recipe is yours for the taking.

To start add three tablespoons of oil to a large cooking pot, and let heat on medium for about 3 minutes, or until hot. I used an 8 quart pot, which may have been slightly too big, but its better to error on the side of caution. You don't want your popcorn exploding out of the pot do you? Add in the popcorn, and gently shake around the pan so that the kernels are covered in oil, and are in a single layer on the bottom of the pot.

Cover quickly with a lid, and once the kernels begin to pop, shake the pan around every few seconds to keep them from burning. This reminds me of jiffy pop. What a fun memory! Once the popping slows, remove from the heat and dump the popcorn into a bowl. This should only take a minute or two. Next , in a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and the remaining two tablespoons of oil. Be sure to not ad water directly to hot oil. You will get burned! Whisk this mixture over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until all of the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture is thick and bubbly.

Add in ¼ tsp of the salt, and stir well. You will use the remaining salt to sprinkle over the popcorn later. If you have any lumps in your coating, you can always pour the mixture through a strainer. Now pour the sauce over the popcorn, and quickly mix well with a large spoon.

Next, prepare a baking sheet by covering it in tin foil, and greasing it with a teaspoon of oil. Spread the popcorn out across the baking sheet, and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Put the baking sheet into a 250 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until the popcorn is no longer sticky.

Your done! Pair with your favorite movie, and enjoy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stir Fry the Garden

Help, I'm drowning... and in the best way possible! It's summer time in the Arthur household, and that means that we are just swimming in delicious home grown veggies and herbs from the garden. While I admit, our bounty can be intimidating at times (anyone have a recipe that calls for 6 cucumbers?), mostly the beautiful food inspires random moments of creativity. Here, I will share with you one of my latest creations, a delicious little stir fry full of beautiful summer squashes, served up with a twist of aromatic Thai basil. This is more of a method than a recipe... if you have other veggies in the garden that are screaming to be eaten up, give them a try as well!

2 large zucchinis
3 large green onions
1 crook neck squash
5 cloves of garlic
1 small handful green beans
1 small bell pepper
20-30 leaves Thai basil (regular basil can be substituted, but the flavor will be very different)
You could also use broccoli, cauliflower, white red or yellow onions - be creative. I would skip using tomato or cucumber for this recipe though.
2 tablespoons of vegetable or peanut oil

1/2 cup water, chicken, or vegetable stock

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar (don't pack it tightly when you measure)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce

serve with 2 cups of cooked rice

Serves 4

Coarsely chop all of your garlic and then, cut all other veggies into bite size pieces. Next get your sauce ready by mixing all ingredients together until well combined and the sugar is dissolved. Set this aside. Now heat your oil in a large nonstick frying pan, or a wok over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the garlic, green onions, and bell pepper. Stir fry for about 1 minute stirring frequently. Next add in all of the other veggies and lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook everything for about 3 minutes more on high heat. Once the veggies are almost cooked through, pour your sauce over the mixture and add in the basil. Leave on the heat for another 2 minutes stirring often. Serve over jasmine or brown rice for a delicious and healthy treat! Beef, chicken, or even tofu would be a wonderful addition to this dish as well.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Creamy Tomato and Shrimp Risotto

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups arborio rice (Risotto Rice)
4 oz tomato paste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
5 cups quality chicken stock (homemade is best)
1/2 cup white wine
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
3-4 fresh basil leaves, whole
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Serves 4-5

This beauty of a recipe came with a little bit of inspiration from our garden. We had several cherry tomatoes that needed to be eaten, and a prolific amount of beautiful basil just calling out to be picked. My husband John was the main creator of this dish, and I am proud to admit that he is giving me a run for my money. In his own words, here is a simple summer dish that will leave your mouth watering long after your stomach gets full.

Make sure to prep all ingredients before beginning, as risotto has a tendency to stick if not stirred. In a large saucepan, heat the chicken stock over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter with the olive oil, again using medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the diced onion. Season with half of the salt and pepper and allow to cook until the onion starts to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Make sure the rest of the ingredients are handy as the risotto will need to be stirred continuously from this point on in the recipe. It's a labor of love!

Stir in the uncooked arborio rice and season with the rest of the salt and pepper. Stir the onion/rice mixture continuously while cooking, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, half the basil chiffonade, and all of the garlic powder. Immediately begin adding the chicken stock, about 2/3 cup at a time with a ladle. As the rice soaks up each installment of chicken stock, add another 2/3 cup. Be sure to continue stirring the rice, and scrape any sticky bits off the bottom of the pan as each ladle of stock is added. Continue to do this until the rice is no longer crunchy when bitten into. Bear in mind that it may not be necessary to use all of the chicken stock. At this point, add the white wine and stir until absorbed, about 1-2 more minutes. Add the remaining basil chiffonade, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, and shrimp. Continue stirring until shrimp turns pink and is cooked through, this will only take a minute or two, so be careful not to over cook the shrimp. Remove the pot from heat, plate the rice, and garnish with the whole basil leaves and a few grates of fresh Parmesan. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bacon Wrapped Scallops


1 lb of scallops

9 pieces of bacon

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

toothpicks (one per scallop)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Serves 5

This easy recipe is a treat for anyone who loves seafood. It can be made in as little as 20 minutes and is great as a passed hors d'oeuvre.

When buying scallops, you will find that they have already been stripped from their shells ( in most cases). Look for scallops that have a creamy color and firm texture, with very little aroma and almost no liquid in the packaging. You may need to remove what is known as the beard, or the connective tissue that at one point held the scallop to its shell.

To get started with this recipe, lightly cook half of the bacon in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook each piece of bacon for about 2 minutes on each side, or until just barely crisp. Be careful not to completely cook the bacon, as it will have plenty of time to finish crisping in the oven. Remove from the pan and let drain and cool on a bed of paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the bacon. This works well with both regular and turkey bacon.
Once cool, place the bacon on a cutting board and slice each piece evenly in half. Then wrap one piece around each scallop, and secure with a toothpick.

Grease a baking sheet with olive oil, and bake in a 425 degree oven until scallops are opaque and the bacon is crisp. This should take 12-14 minutes.

Remove from the baking sheet and place on a serving dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and one tablespoon lemon juice. Serve with extra lemon as a garnish, and enjoy!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chocolate Haupia Pie

I’m telling you, I can feel my waistline growing as I write this post…

After I graduated college, I got the chance to move out to Oahu’s North Shore. Among the swaying palm trees, crystal blue waters, and killer wave sets, I discovered a little something sweet. May I present to you the Chocolate Haupia Pie, a delicious concoction of chocolate and coconut pudding poured brilliantly into a flaky pie crust and topped with whipped cream. Hard to go wrong, isn’t it? A little place called Ted's Bakery made this dessert famous, so if you're ever visiting the North Shore don't miss this delicious destination.

Now I must admit, this is not my recipe, but it’s damn good. I wish I knew who to attribute this fine culinary creation to, so if your out there, and this recipe looks a little too familiar, reveal yourself. I would personally like to kiss you.


1 (9 inch) pie crust

1 cup of milk

1 (13.5 ounce) can of coconut milk

1 cup white sugar

1 cup water

½ cup cornstarch

7/8 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Whipped Cream

1 ½ cups heavy cream

¼ cup white sugar

½ tsp vanilla

Bake your pie shell according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or your own pie crust recipe. Set it aside to cool while you work on the pie filling.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, coconut milk, and 1 cup of sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a slow simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water and the corn starch, and add slowly (while stirring) to the coconut mixture on the stove. Continue stirring mixture over low heat and cook about 3 minutes, or until you have reached a thick pudding like consistency.

Next microwave chocolate chips until melted. This process should take about a minute and should be done slowly so your chocolate doesn’t burn. Divide the coconut pudding evenly into two bowls. Add the chocolate chips to one bowl and mix well. Then spread the chocolate mixture into the pie crust making sure to leave room to layer coconut pudding on top. You will probably have a little bit of leftover filling, and this can be stored in the fridge for later. Refrigerate pie for 2 hours, or until very cold and firm.

Serve with fresh whipped cream, and garnish with toasted coconut. You might even want to consider doubling this recipe because this pie is not going to last long!

To make whipped cream, combine heavy cream, vanilla extract and the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form using a whisk or a handheld mixer. If your running short of time, grab a can of whipped cream and go for it! Even a homemade gal has to take a break every once in while.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Asparagus with Roasted Garlic Mayo


1 pound of fresh asparagus

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1/3 cup of mayonnaise

1 clove of garlic - grated

1/2 teaspoon of salt - course

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 lemon garnish

Asparagus, which is high in folic acid, potassium, fiber and vitamin B6, has only 4 calories per spear! With all that going for this delicious vegetable, it's no wonder asparagus has landed itself on menus everywhere. Start by rinsing off a pound of asparagus in a colander.

After a thorough washing, pat the spears dry with paper towels to get off any excess moisture. Now, break one stalk where it is naturally the weakest. This will separate the tender top part of the asparagus from its tough and fibrous stem. You will end up discarding about one third of the stalk.

You can now use the new shorter "broken" asparagus as a guide to cut the rest of the bunch.

Spread the spears evenly on a baking sheet. For easy clean up, you can cover the sheet with a layer of tin foil before baking.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the asparagus. Top with a few turns of freshly cracked pepper, and one half teaspoon of coarse salt.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

While the asparagus are roasting, take a moment to make this simple and delicious dipping sauce. Just two ingredients are needed to make this sauce - garlic and mayonnaise. (The lemon is for garnishing the roasted asparagus.)

Start by peeling and grating one small clove of garlic.

Then add the garlic to 1/3 cup of your favorite mayonnaise. I used low calorie mayo and didn’t miss a thing!

Stir until well blended and transfer to a decorative serving dish.

After 10 minutes in the oven, check the asparagus to see if it’s done. Look for slightly browned and caramelized stems, and a fresh bright-green color. Don’t overcook the spears, or they will become an unattractive, dull shade of pea-green.

Next, transfer the asparagus to a serving platter and sprinkle with about a tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Garnish the sauce with a bit of lemon zest (optional). Serve as an easy and healthy appetizer or finger-friendly side dish.