Angel Hair Pasta With Roasted Grape Tomatoes…..

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Ever buy beautiful grape tomatoes with great plans for an amazing salad and you come across them a week later when they are no longer at the peak of their beauty?  (At this point they are looking slightly wrinkled) This is the perfect plan for them!  It takes a little time to roast the tomatoes, but the rest of the dish is a snap.  You can  add whatever veggies you like.  I generally go through the refrigerator and forage for any little bits of vegetables that might be leftover from the week.  Would be delicious with asparagus, spinach, petite peas, shrimp, leftover chicken.  Your choice.  Let’s begin.

You will need garlic.  Lots of garlic.

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You’ll begin by going through the tomatoes, discarding any that are spoiled.  You should have about one cup total.  Give them a rinse.   Bathe them in the following:

4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon of dried or fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2 pinches kosher salt
1 pinch black pepper

Mix all ingredients to coat.  Place in a small foil or parchment lined baking dish to keep the goodies close together.  Roast in 225′ oven for one hour.

At this point you can save them in the refrigerator for a couple of days, serve over chicken, fish or rice.  Or you can make an amazing pasta dish!

Simple Summer Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes

12 ounces cooked angel hair pasta or whatever pasta you prefer
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup reserved pasta water
tablespoons olive oil
Grated parmesan cheese

1)  Boil the pasta according to package instructions and reserve one cup of the pasta water.  Under cook the pasta by 2 minutes.  Drain.
2)  Warm a saute pan large enough to accommodate the cooked pasta and liquids over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and the chopped onion.  Cook about 7 minutes, stirring often.
3)  Add the roasted tomato mixture and all juices and herbs/garlic to the pan.  At this point you could add any other veggies or ingredient to the pan.  Add the wine and about half of the pasta water.  Simmer for a couple of minutes.
4)  Add the under cooked pasta to the pan.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  The pasta will absorb the flavor from the tomato juices & wine.  If it appears that most of the liquid has been absorbed, you can add a little more pasta water.  You’ll want some moisture in the pan.
5)  Top with grated cheese and chopped parsley.  You could also add fresh basil.



Old Fashioned Potato Salad…..

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Good morning!  I am missing sharing recipes with you!  No time like the present.  I’m going to get right to it.

Recently I’ve tasted many commercial potato salads, hoping that I’d satisfy my taste for a delicious potato salad only to be disappointed. The potatoes have a weird texture and I can’t quite figure out what the dressing is made of.  Big surprise, right?  This inspired me to make my Mom’s Old Fashioned Potato salad.

If you’re like me, you just want a small spoonful of this type of salad.  No one wants to load up on fat laden mayonnaisey salad.  I have transformed the dressing into something very delicious and guilt free.  I very much prefer a combination of real mayonnaise, non fat greek yogurt, yellow mustard and a dollop of sour cream.  I think it’s always a good idea to add more crunchy fresh vegetables.

The beauty of  this salad is that you can add whatever ingredients you love.  Why not minced jalapeno or diced roasted red peppers, or blue cheese and crisp bacon?  Make it your own go to potato salad recipe.

My Mom’s had plenty of celery, onions and radishes. The perfect contrast to the cooked red potatoes with skins and the boiled eggs.  I just love that she added radishes, I think it’s brilliant!   I’ve added parsley too.  So good!

Garnishing is key as well.  Love sliced eggs, minced chives, radishes and a sprinkle of paprika.  Beautiful!

Mom’s Old Fashioned Potato Salad

2 lbs. small red potatoes, quartered, boiled in salted water and cooled completely
6 hard boiled eggs, cooled & chopped, reserve one to slice for the top of the salad
Click here for the recipe for perfectly boiled eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup sliced radishes, reserving a couple for garnish
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
1/2 cup fresh chopped chives, reserve a tablespoon for garnish
Paprika to sprinkle over the top of the finished salad

For the dressing:

1 cup non fat greek yogurt
1/2 cup Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1)  Put all potato salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

2)  Whisk all salad dressing ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl until well blended.  Taste.  Add additional seasonings here if you wish.  It may need a little more salt and pepper.

3)  Pour dressing over salad ingredients and gently fold until completely combined.

4)  Pour into a large serving bowl.  Top with boiled egg, sliced radishes, minced chives and a sprinkle of paprika.  Refrigerate.  Serve cold.  Refrigerate leftovers.  Serves 8-10.

Enjoy, Happy July 4th!!


Luscious Red Velvet Cake…..

orng chx slm patDSCN3016_2696Red velvet cakes seem to be all the rage these days.  I am particularly fond of one bowl recipes.  This one is very, very simple and really moist and delicious.  Most recipes have only a teaspoon or two of cocoa.  I like to taste more chocolate so I’ve made adjustments to my recipe.

Being that this cake is so moist, I highly recommend lining the pans with parchment paper.  It is awful to have a beautifully baked cake that won’t come out of the pan!!

Red Velvet Cake

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring+ water to equal 2 ounces (or 1 teaspoon gel food coloring)
2 heaping tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa
1 cup buttermilk (or mix 1 teaspoon vinegar + milk to equal 1 cup)

1)  Preheat the oven to 350′.  It is always a good idea to line the bottom with parchment paper.  With a pencil trace around the outside of the pan and cut it out.  Place in the bottom of the pan and coat well with cooking spray.
2)  In a large mixing bowl using  an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until well blended.
3)  Sift the flour, soda and salt together in a small mixing bowl, set aside.
4)  In a 1 cup liquid measuring cup, add 1 teaspoon red food coloring and enough water to equal 2 ounces.  Add 1 teaspoon vinegar and the cocoa.  Whisk to thoroughly blend.  Add to the beaten egg mixture and mix well.
5)  Add the flour and the buttermilk alternately to the egg mixture.  Beat until all ingredients are incorporated.  Do not over beat.  Pour into prepared pans.  Bake for 32-35 minutes.  (check at 32)  The top should be firm to the touch and toothpick should come out clean.
6)  Cool completely before icing.

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 cake.  Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

So delicious and simple to make.  Enjoy!


Turkey & Beef Enchilada Casserole On Next Week’s Menu….

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Turkey & Beef Enchilada Casserole is one of my family’s favorites!  For this week’s menu I’m doing half beef and half turkey, just to mix it up.  Click here for the recipe.

I’m implementing a few ideas from the new meatless cookbook I bought a couple of weeks ago. In lieu of a soup I am doing a vegetable curry. Very light mind you, rich in flavor. Enjoy over simple steamed brown rice for a killer vegetarian dinner! If you’d like rice with it, let me know.

I haven’t offered pork tenderloin in a while. The side dish and salad will be amazing with the simply seasoned pork.
Here’s the plan:

Grilled pork tenderloin, seasoned with fresh herbs
Apple, leek and butternut squash gratin
Green salad with warm goat cheese rounds, cider vinaigrette
Buttermilk oven fried chicken strips-kid AND adult fav!
Corn cakes-delicious little cornmeal patties made with fresh corn
Homemade coleslaw, light yogurt and celery seed dressing
Turkey/beef enchilada casserole-delicious seasoned beef and turkey layered with whole wheat tortillas and Mexican cheese.
Cactus salad with grape tomatoes, grape tomatoes, crumbled Mexican cheese with fresh lime cilantro dressing.
Vegetable curry-. Caramelized bok choy, peppers & shitake mushrooms w/ fresh basil in a mild red coconut curry. So good! (light coconut milk)
Mixed bean salad with fresh herbs
Cantaloupe & blueberries
Old fashioned date walnut bars

Because of you I get to do what I love. I cannot thank you enough!


Menu for 6/4 & 6/5….

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Grilled Salmon with Fresh Dill Sauce

I just purchased an amazing meatless cookbook and after owning just one day, perused the whole thing! It’s from the kitchens of Martha Stewart, YUM!  Initially I considered not offering soups for the summer.  I’ve decided  to offer some amazing soups that can be served chilled or slightly warm.  Vegetables at this time of year are so spectacular! I simply cannot pass up these tasty opportunities!
Salads, salads and more salads and fresh fruit. We’re going to have a very healthy summer!
Here’s the plan for next week:
Whole wheat fusilli pasta with caramelized onions, baby sweet peas, wine and toasted panko crumbs and parmesan cheese
Old fashioned wedge salad with crispy prosciutto (or not), grape tomatoes, fresh grated carrots, red onion and seedless cucumber.
Mildly seasoned and grilled chicken breasts (8 ounce portion/person)
Tomato, avocado, and grilled corn salad w/buttermilk shallot dressing
Garlic french bread
Grilled salmon with fresh yogurt dill sauce (7-8 ounce portion/person)
New potatoes with olive oil and lots of fresh parsley
sautéed spinach with fresh garlic
Roasted red pepper soup with quinoa salsa
Shaved parsnip salad with kale and dates
Cut fresh pineapple, kiwi and strawberries
Lemon squares
Many, many thanks for letting me serve you and your families!!

Lovely High Tea, Amazing Shrimp Salad!

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I had the pleasure of preparing delicate tea sandwiches and pastry for a high tea recently.  This is Georgia in her beautiful dining room.  Her table was absolutely gorgeous as you can see.  All of her guests wore hats.  So fun!

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I’ve never been to high tea. I will either host one soon or go to the Drake in Chicago for high tea.  How fun!

Here were my offerings….

1)  Chipotle shrimp salad sandwiches on white bread.
2)  Traditional English cucumber and boursin cheese sandwiches on whole wheat bread.
3)  Egg salad on mini whole wheat buns.
4)  Chicken salad with toasted walnuts and craisins on mini whole wheat buns.

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I realized after the fact that all of the pictures I took were of the dessert & sweet bread offerings.  Although I didn’t get pic’s of my sandwich offerings, I was happy that I thought to bring my camera!  Pictured above are my mini cheesecakes with chocolate gnache and fresh strawberries.

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Here you see my cream scones and blueberry streusel bread.  (made with blueberries I picked in Michigan last summer!) I also made a strawberry butter to serve with the delicate scones.

I was wracking by brain trying to think of something different to do with the shrimp salad as all of these salads are mayonnaise based and tend to have the same taste.  As always, I cut the mayo with plain greek yogurt.  Love the light less “mayonnaisey” taste.  I decided to make a chipotle shrimp salad.  I did not use much of the chipotle.  It was amazing!

Shrimp Salad with Chipotle

1 lb. shrimp, cooked and completely cooled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 medium shallot, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup non fat greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon pureed chipotle (small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed in food processor
2 pinches salt
1 pinch pepper

1)  Prepare the shrimp.  Bring enough water to cover the shrimp to a boil, lower heat to medium and add the peeled and deveined shrimp.  Cover with lid and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Take a peek.  If they’re pink, they’re done.  Do not over cook as they will become rubbery.  Drain and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.  Chop finely and keep refrigerated.
2)  In a  medium size mixing bowl add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to blend completely.  Taste.  If you’d like a bit more heat, add more chipotle.  Add the finely chopped shrimp.  Mix gently until all is combined.
3)  To assemble tea sandwiches, spread a very small amount of mayonnaise over the bread slices.  With a spoon, add enough salad to go almost to the crusts.  You’d want about 1/4″ of salad on the sandwich.  With a serrated knife, carefully remove the crusts.  Then cut on the diagonal into halves, then again, very carefully into quarters.  You need a very delicate touch to do this.  Refrigerate.
4)  Also incredibly delicious on a soft roll with lettuce or arugula or on a bed of mixed greens.  Makes about 2 1/2 cups of shrimp salad.



The Lion King Cake…..

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I made this cake for my favorite four year old, Maddie.  This was so fun!

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The base is a basic chiffon cake.  It’s a lovely one bowl recipe, the only difference is after you mix all ingredients you fold in beaten egg whites.    The result is a light and airy cake that is not too sweet.  My right hand gal Nancy baked the cake and made a delicious real butter cream frosting.   I also needed a small rectangular cake for the base of my large rock formation.   I am no ready, I have the perfect canvas for a Lion King cake.

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First I mixed a basic butter cookie recipe and kneaded some cocoa into enough dough to form the large and small rocks.  I baked them and set them aside.

I cut the rectangular cake on the diagonal and put the two identical pieces together.  I added cocoa to some of the butter cream and I iced the wedge or base for the rocks.  With a toothpick I traced into the icing where I’d put the water.  I iced the top of the cake brown.  I added blue food coloring to some of the butter cream to form water and iced in the water.  I sprinkled graham cracker crumbs around the brown base to make it look like sand.    I placed cookie rocks around the cake with some grasses coming out of them.  I bought the grasses at Michael’s for .59 each.

Now I’ve got to start thinking about what I’ll be making for Ryan’s next cake!

I feel good about making a delicious birthday cake with real ingredients.

Have a wonderful week!


Oven Roasted Vegetable Salad With Roasted Garlic Dressing…..

orng chx slm patDSCN3042_2722I served this salad at my appetizer party a few weeks ago.  A bright vegetable salad was needed in the mix.  Forget about serving an ordinary salad, this one will be a hit!

I roasted garlic last week in olive oil and saved the oil.  This is really easy to do.  Peel a head of garlic and put the cloves into a small sauce pan.  Cover the garlic with olive oil and place over the lowest possible heat on your range.  Watch it closely.  Once the garlic is golden brown, it’s done.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic.  I used the garlic in other salad dressings and I saved the oil.  You must refrigerate both the roasted garlic and the oil.  You can also buy garlic infused olive oil.

I used vegetables that required different roasting times in the oven.  Don’t let this detour you!  They can be roasted a day ahead if necessary.

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing

1 head of broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
1 large bunch of asparagus
1 pint grape tomatoes, washed and halved (unroasted)
1 cup mozzarella pearls, drained

2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons roasted garlic olive oil
1 tablespoon honey

1)  Preheat the oven to 375′.

2)  Place the broccoli in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon garlic olive oil over the broccoli.  Add a couple of pinches of salt and one pinch of pepper.  Toss to coat.  Place on a non stick foil lined cookie sheet.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, carefully give them a turn in the oven after 10 minutes.  Place into a large bowl.

3)  Prepare the cauliflower the same as the broccoli.  Roast for 30-35 minutes or until nicely browned.  Add to the bowl with the broccoli.

4)   Trim the ends of the asparagus.  Coat with the garlic olive oil.  Lightly season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven.  Cool and slice into 1″ pieces on a diagonal.  Add to the bowl with the other vegetables.

5)  Once the vegetables are cool, add the halved grape tomatoes and pearl fresh mozzarella.

6)  Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the salad.  Toss gently to coat.  Serve immediately.  Serves 8-10 people.

*If you’re making this salad a day ahead, don’t dress it until right before serving.  Serve with crusty french bread.



Appetizer Party/Ham & Gruyere In Puff Pastry……

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Here’s the menu from last night’s appetizer party.  I like to print out what I’m serving.  I think it’s nice for guests to know what they have to look forward to.  It can also keep you on task with what you’re serving.

orng chx slm patDSCN3048_2728I saw Ina Garten prepare this appetizer recipe on Food Network.   So simple that I didn’t need her exact recipe.  I think she used a thinly sliced deli ham in hers.  I choose to use spiral cut smoked ham because I had some on hand.  Either one works very well.

The beauty of this appetizer is that you can make it ahead and simply warm it in the oven for 12-15 minutes before serving. It is equally delicious at room temperature.  You could also bake it before guests arrive, time it so you take it out a few minutes before they’re due to arrive.  That way your house will smell amazing when your guests arrive and you’ll be ready to serve after everyone gets their cocktail.  It’s a perfect plan!

Ham & Gruyere in Puff Pastry

2 puff pastry sheets, thawed
8 ounces gruyere swiss cheese, shredded or 12 slices
1/3-1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/2 lb. smoked ham, sliced thin (deli ham or off the bone)
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

1)  Preheat the oven to 375′.  Defrost the puff pastry according to package directions.

2)  Dust the counter top with flour and place the puff pastry sheet over it.  Lightly flour your rolling pin and gently roll out the dough into a 12 x 18″ rectangle (approximately).  Place the dough on a large parchment lined cookie sheet.

3)  Spread an even layer of dijon mustard over the dough leaving a 1/2″ border.  Layer the ham evenly over the pastry.  Top evenly with the shredded or sliced gruyere cheese.

4)  Roll out the second piece of  dough the same size as the first one.  Brush the outer edge of the base puff pastry with the egg wash.  Top with the rolled out puff pastry and press the edges together with your fingers.  Using a fork, press around the entire outer edge of the dough.  Poke 6 holes in the top of the puff pastry to release air while baking.  Brush the entire pastry with egg wash.

5)  Place in the preheated oven.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  The crust should be beautifully golden brown.  Allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes minutes before serving.



It’s A Food Day…..

Hello everyone-

I’m at my computer with my Ry-guy doing homework next to me enjoying his goldfish with chopsticks.  So cute.   He’s really good at it!  He’s a true foodie in training.  I couldn’t be happier.

I have been cold all day.  I just put the biggest pot in the house on the stove with three turkey breast carcasses from my freezer, celery, onion and carrot.  Soups on!  Fortunately my vegetable drawer had soup essentials.  Since cooking in my awesome commercial kitchen I know more of what I have on hand there than at home.  Last night I had to scrounge around for a fresh garlic clove!

I was out most of the day gathering delicious ingredients for the appetizers I’ll be preparing for 3 parties over the weekend.    I’m using three of my favorite cheeses, boursin, gruyere, and blue cheese.  Here’s what I’ll be making:

1)  Bacon wrapped dates

2)  Bacon wrapped shrimp with chipotle dipping sauce

3)  Smoked ham & gruyere with dijon mustard in puff pastry (Ina Garten)

4)  Zucchini puffs with blue cheese

5)  Bread sticks wrapped with prosciutto, boursin and baby arugula.

Dessert?  Of course!  Mini key lime tarts.  If I have time, I think I’ll make tiramisu.  It’s out of the March 2013 Cooking Light Magazine.  Might have to go a little heavier on the Kahlua than they recommend:-)

I’m ready for the weekend!

Have a great evening~