Wedding Celebration Menu…..

Good morning!

I have the privilege of planning and preparing a menu for a wedding celebration next weekend.  Upon the ceremony conclusion, there will be light appetizers, dessert and of course, champagne.  There will also be an afternoon celebration as well.  Here’s what I’ll be doing for immediately following the ceremony:

*Large shrimp shooters-mini shot glasses filled with homemade cocktail sauce to about 1/3 full.  A large shrimp will be placed into the cup, then sprinkled with finely chopped fresh parsley.

*Prosciutto bread sticks with boursin cheese and arugula.

*Skewered grape tomato, basil and fresh marinated mozzarella balls.

*Deviled eggs.

*Individual cheesecakes with fresh raspberry sauce

*German chocolate cupcakes

The afternoon celebration will be casual with more delicious food offerings.  Here’s what I’m doing:

*Warm individually wrapped ham off the bone sandwiches with swiss cheese and dijonnaise.

*Bacon wrapped large shrimp with chipotle dipping sauce.

*Warm potato salad with bacon, blue cheese a sweet apple cider dressing.

*Gruyere swiss scalloped potatoes.

*Green salad with toasted walnuts, pears, blue cheese.  Homemade dijon dressing.

*Carrot and bulgur salad with toasted pine nuts and feta.

The grand finale?  I will be making a moist spice cake with cream cheese frosting.  I will simply decorate it with fresh flowers.

I will be up to my eyeballs in amazing ingredients next weekend!

Have a great day:-)


How To Reheat Cooked Food…..

Good morning-

Busy, busy.  Between weekly clients and an engagement party last Saturday night, not much time to think about anything but cooking!

I thought this an important topic to talk about as I deliver cooked foods to my clients and I am always reinforcing how to  reheat safely.

Cooked foods should be enjoyed or frozen within 7 days of preparation.  For this reason, it’s best to label and date everything you have leftover.  When enjoying foods that have already been cooked, there are two simple rules.

1)  Enjoy within 7 days of preparation.  The only exception here would be fish.  Use within one to two days.

2)  Heat to the proper internal temperature of 165′.  This goes for any leftover foods.

I’m sure you’ve experienced hot or cold spots in foods you’ve heated in the microwave.   For this reason food should be heated thoroughly and then allowed to stand for 2 minutes before serving to evenly distribute heat.  To take it a step further, internal temperature should reach at least 165′ and should be checked in several spots.

It’s easy to warm cold foods in the oven and it doesn’t compromise the quality of the food as much as microwaving.  When reheating meats, it’s best to reheat them covered with moisture in the pan.  Lower temperatures work best too, between 300′-325′.  Warm covered for about 20 minutes per pound.

When rewarming for children and elderly adults, it’s critical to get the foods to the right temperature.  Reason being that their immune systems may not be fully developed or compromised, so best to be totally safe.  Simply heat the foods until piping hot and allow them to cool a bit before serving.

I hope you all had a nice holiday weekend and I’ll post again soon!

Thank you~


Carrot and Bulgur Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts & Feta….

I’ve come up with a new salad and it’s my new fav!  I love this because the bulk of the salad is shredded carrot and other interesting tastes and textures.  You have the crunch of the carrots, richness of the pine nuts, sweetness from the raisins, a little heat from green onions, bulk and healthy fiber from the bulgur and the parsley adds the perfect earthy flavor.  Your taste buds will dance!

I love grain salads to enjoy during the week for a quick and healthy lunch, no thought required!  You must try this one, it’s totally delicious!

Carrot and Bulgur Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts & Feta

2 cups cooked bulgur, cooled completely-Add 2 cups water and 1 cup of bulgur to a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil, lower heat and cover for 12-15 minutes
1/4 cup dark raisins
4 cups shredded carrots-you can find these in most any produce department already shredded
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (place pine nuts in a skillet over low heat, shake the pan to turn them every couple of minutes.  Watch closely so they don’t burn, toast until lightly browned, cool)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1)  Cook the bulgur until all water is absorbed.  Dump into a large mixing bowl, add the raisins.  Stir occasionally until cooled to room temperature.  (raisins are added here to soften up a bit from moisture from the cooked wheat)
2)  Add the carrots through the feta and mix well to combine.
3)  Drizzle the olive oil over the salad, stir to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste.  Add additional salt and pepper here if needed.
4)  Add the vinegar and mix well to blend.  Store in the refrigerator up to one week.



Random Menu Ideas…..

Good morning-

Well, I’m about to make my last deliveries for this week and yesterday began thinking about what to offer for next week’s menu.  This happens every week.  A conversation or something I see in the paper or on TV will inspire my menu for the following week.

Ideas that came to mind were breaded thick cut boneless pork loin chops with fresh sage stuffing.  Romaine salad with mixed greens, pears, blue cheese and toasted walnuts, cider vinaigrette…..

Roasted chicken, with skin and bone, maybe homemade pesto under the skin and some kind of potato…..or~chicken pot pie…

Dessert offering?  Maybe Pecan Squares.  OMG, they’re ridiculous!  Another equally delicious option~Fresh Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, (recipe below)

I’m thinking of putting my soup pot back on the stove even though we’re not into fall yet.  Mostly because I’m missing soup.

I’ve got to come up with a plan for an October wedding as well.  Love it!

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 ounce softened cream cheese
4 ounces softened butter (one stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
milk as needed

1)  With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy.  Add the vanilla and the powdered sugar.  Mix on the lowest speed of the mixer and add milk 1 teaspoon at a time to get a smooth spreading consistency.
2)  Ice the cake generously with the frosting.  Refrigerate until ready to serve and refrigerate leftovers (if any!)

Rustic Desserts for Skrine Chops, Forest Park, Illinois…..

I had the privilege of touring the renovated Skrine Chops in Forest Park yesterday.  The restaurant suffered an unfortunate fire September of 2011 and they’re gearing up to re-open very soon.

I have never seen such rustic beauty in my life.  In addition to owner Steve Skrine’s amazing grilled meats and famous blue cheese potato salad, he is a very talented woodworker.  He collects wood from old barns and crafts them into unbelievable decor for his restaurant.  You MUST SEE!  I will keep you posted as to when he will officially be open for business.

I will be working with Steve and his lovely wife Mary Rita to come up with an amazing dessert menu.  Knowing that the over all theme is a more rustic feel, here are a few things I came up with.

Steve loves pecans, so I thought a free form pecan tart with whole wheat crust might be nice.  I think it best served warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Does this look like a bar cookie or what??  Oatmeal cookie dough loaded with crunchy & salty pretzels with pecans and chocolate chips.

I’m really not the “food fad” type, but salted caramel anything is delicious!  No nuts in this one, just caramel chunks and sea salt on the top.  YUM!

Lastly, another oatmeal chunky cookie loaded with pecans and caramel pieces.  Pecans and caramel have always been a favorite of mine.

Other desserts not pictured include my signature chocolate chip cookie and key lime tart.  As always, my desserts are made with 100% real ingredients.  No funky preservatives or trans fats (shortening).

I will be providing “tastes” to all customers when they’re ready to open.

So exciting!

Have a great day~



This Week’s Menu And Cooking Plan….

Good morning-

Gearing up for work this week only I will be working alone this morning.  My son Chris is on a service project trip for the week in Clarksville, MS, and Nancy, my side-kick has a doctor appointment.

I’m used to working alone, I’ll be fine.  It’s all about being organized and a succession of tasks to optimize productivity.  I love thinking through this process.  Today is a huge prep day as tomorrow I deliver.  Loads of cooking will take place tomorrow morning.

To be green, I really try to do all oven roasting and baking in the same time block.  This will also cut down on the intense heat in the kitchen.

The other very important thing I have to think about is optimal freshness for my clients.  I always make fish the day it’s delivered and any baking is done the day of delivery as well.

Here’s my menu plan for this week:

Chicken Tetrazzini
Caesar salad with homemade ciabatta croutons

Crunchy panko fish fillets with mild seasoning,  homemade low-fat tartar sauce
Roasted red potatoes with garlic
Shredded slaw with tangy mustard seed dressing

Spicy orange beef with broccoli
Brown rice


Roasted cauliflower and broccoli
Mixed bean salad with fresh herbs from my garden

Banana walnut chocolate chip muffins

Time to get around!

Have a good day-


This Week’s Offerings…..

Hello Everyone-

I thought I would share this week’s menu with you..  I’m ordering much of my food from a wonderful distributor by the name of Get Fresh.  So nice to have beautiful and amazingly fresh produce, dairy and chicken delivered to your door!  I have access to many items I can only find at the farmer’s market like patty pan squash, frisee, wild baby arugula and many varieties of fresh mushrooms just to name a few.

That being said I went for the one pound box of fresh basil, a case of sweet grape tomatoes, and a 1 kilo package (about 2.20 lbs.) of goat cheese….I’m in heaven!  I also ordered fresh parsley, and a case of zucchini.  YUM!

Here’s the menu:

Fresh roasted grape tomatoes, basil and goat cheese tart
Mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Mediterranean chicken breasts with olives, tomatoes and white wine
Brown rice pilaf
Sautéed zucchini with garlic with feta

Turkey burritos, (great recipe for “cook once, eat twice!) seasoned ground turkey with refried beans, light tomato rice and cheese
Garden salad with cilantro and avocado dressing

Egg salad made with greek non fat yogurt and light mayo, crunchy celery, parsley and a little onion. So good!
Crunchy vegetable medley, garbanzo beans, kale, dill, cucumber, zucchini with light vinaigrette

Raspberry bars

Have a wonderful day!


My Commercial Kitchen!

Good morning!

I’ve been very busy getting everything in order in my new kitchen.   Initially I thought everything would be so much easier.  It has taken a little getting used to.  Interestingly, I have two people helping me, which I thought would make everything a breeze.  When you’re used to doing EVERYTHING yourself, it can be a bit tricky.  After a few weeks of cooking under my belt, I’m feeling more and more efficient.  Yesterday we rocked out three entrees for 30+ people  in about 5 hours.  Awesome!

This was our very first day in the kitchen.  We were cooking/prepping for a graduation party.  My son Chris helps me with a lot of vegetable prep, he’s very good!  Must introduce the 20 quart Hobart mixer to Chris’s left….HEAVEN!  I can mix multiple batches of cookies with ease.  To his far right there is this amazing dishwasher.   Then to the far left in the very background there is a double convection oven.  So in the time it would take me to bake let’s say 6 pies at my house, I can bake 32 pies.

This is Nancy.  She’s a trained chef and she helps me with absolutely everything!  She is a delightful person and work companion.  I feel so blessed to have her with me.  We met at Ryan’s elementary school and had many chats about food/recipes while I was dropping or picking Ryan up from school.  Nancy was there to pick up her niece Maya and nephew Ralphie. In case you’re wondering, she’s assembling and individually wrapping about 200 ham/swiss/Dijon & mayonnaise sandwiches.

Here I am.  Finally. My dream of working out of a commercial kitchen has come to fruition.  Thinking hurry up and take the picture, I’ve got lots to do but have no idea where to start!!  I’ve got some twirling to do!

I am hugely interested in growing my baking business.  I have already met with a local restaurant and we’re working on a dessert menu.  SO FUN!

So you see, blogging has taken a back seat for a bit.  I want to share much of what I’m doing in the kitchen and will definitely get to that as soon as I’m able.

Have a blessed day!