Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Its that time of year again, and there is so much to do - decorating, shopping and cooking and baking - one of my all time favorite holiday cookie recipes is a very simple one, i call Spumoni Cookies - these gorgeous cookies are wonderful because you can make them ahead and store them in the refrigerator and slice and bake them as needed throughout the holiday season. There very pretty on a cookie tray and make fabulous gifts.

In the picture above I show a platter with some candy cane sugar cookies, some acorn cookies (sugar cookies shaped like acorns and then dipped into melted chocolate and coated with chopped walnuts) and in the center my spumoni cookies.

Spumoni Cookies

  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pistachio, almonds)
  • 2 Tbs chopped candied red cherries
  • 1 oz pure chocolate (unsweetened) melted

Cream together butter, sugar, egg, salt and vanilla. Add flour. Divide dough into 3 parts
into one part add cherries, into another part add chocolate and more flour if needed, into the
last part add nuts and green food coloring if desired.
Line a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with either parchment paper or aluminum foil down the bottom and up the ends of the pan. Layer the dough in evenly, first the cherry dough, then the chocolate and then the nut dough. Fold the parchment or foil over the dough and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to 6 weeks. When ready to make carefully remove the
layered dough from the pan, and remove foil or paper. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices then slice in halves or quarters and bake on an ungreased cookie tray at 35 F for 10 mins or until the bottoms are browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Girl

Fall is coming, so slowly it approaches
I teach my girl, each leaf she says worth catching
Gold, yellow, red and brown
All slowly scattered to the ground
And then –
Before you know it boughs are bare, no leaves are left, there’s none
To spare –
White fluffy stuff cascades around and makes my daughters smiles know no bounds…
Her tongue sticks out, to catch a flake
And happiness flows from her to me, there’s no mistake!

So pure, such joy such innocence,
She knows she’s there –
And how can I cease discontent
O cannot want, or cry or try
Because my love is larger than,
Stronger than – see, it blows away the very rhyme
I lose it all, lost in all time –

My love, my child, filled with grace –
I shudder so, should you take my place
You are beyond all compare,
I cannot love love you more – and I am there,
But should I cease to be for thee, know only that
I love you more.

Go and go and work and do, Godspeed and bless you so,
You are the best and truly more,
I Love you, through and through –
Keep your head up high, remember to breathe, you are the very best
God Bless you Jess my baby girl, my dream
The best the very,very best…

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Millet Salad

So many wonderful whole grains out there, I've decided to experiment with some...last night I made a super easy and really yummy millet salad...i served it with some pan seared duck breast, peach chutney and broccoli....

Millet Salad

  • 1 cup millet
  • 1 Tbs olive oil (optional)
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced into half moons then cut in half again
  • 1/2 English cucumber cut into small dice
  • 2 Tbs chopped black olives
  • 3 Tbs chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1.5 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt black pepper

heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add olive oil if using, rinse and drain millet
add to skillet and toast stirring frequently for 7 mins or until a deep golden brown
add water and bring to a low boil, cover and lower heat cook for 20 mins undisturbed.
Combine olive oil, vinegar and salt in a bowl, whisk well. Add veggies, black pepper and millet - toss to combine - let stand at room temp at least 10 mins before serving

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shrimp Noodle Bowl

This was a lot of fun, my daughter and I made dashi from scratch - what is dashi? Its a Japanese fish stock and it serves as a base for a wonderful noodle bowl, featuring shrimp and tofu...the kombu is dried kelp, and its responsible for one of the five tastes the human tongue experiences, umami (or savoriness) the other four are: bitterness, sourness, sweetness and saltiness...


  • 8 cups cold water
  • 2x4" pieces of kombu (dried kelp) wiped with a dry cloth
  • 1 cup bonito flakes (dried fish flakes)
  • 1" piece peeled and sliced ginger
  • 1 oz mixed dried mushrooms

Udon with shrimp

  • Dashi
  • 3/4 lb raw shrimp
  • 1/2 cup diced firm tofu
  • 2 green onions, sliced into 2" pieces and then sliced thinly lenthwise

put kombu in a soup pot, cover with water and bring to a simmer
(do NOT boil) let simmer for 20 mins, discard kombu, add bonito and ginger (off heat)
let sit for 10 mins. Drain stock, discard solids. Return stock to pot add dried mushrooms and let
sit for 20 mins, drain stock and reserve mushrooms, coarsly chop. Return stock to pot and heat, add shrimp and tofu cook for a few mins until shrimp turns pink, add chopped mushrooms, season with salt and white pepper.

Cook Udon noodles according to package directions (in boiling water for 3 mins if using fresh udon) Place 1 cup of noodels in each serving bowl, ladle some dashi and shrimp atop and garnish with green onions

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wonton Soup...

haven't posted in ages, so sorry - got sick, went back to work, etc...had a lovely wonton soup last night which my 7 year old actually really helped with (she is a natural at folding the wontons, and this works out great because I hate that part!)-a few nights prior I made a wonderful shrimp toast appetizer to go with a quick pork and pineapple stir fry...both of these Asian inspired dishes can be found on my youtube channel,

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tomato Aspic

Sorry I haven't posted in so long ... been busy with work, child, pets, etc - transitioning from being a stay at home mom to a working mom has been more challenging than I had thought it would be -

still, I cook - you can always check out my youtube channel - did a wonderful English style beef roast with Yorkshire pudding recently - see roastbeef also did a fun, classic french onion soup

But tonight, I made a super easy crab salad and served it up with a retro aspic veggie salad -
aspics are so easy - and this crab salad of mine is ridiculously simple...
8 oz of cooked crab meat - back fin, lump isn't necessary
3 Tbs light or whole mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tsp chopped capers
salt and pepper to taste

thats it - maybe a squeeze or two of lemon, mix everything to combine and your done...

goes great on a roll, on a bed of lettuce or filling a tomato aspic ring etc

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bunny lunch...

Wanted to make a quick lunch my child would eat, so i used some home made bread for ears, some turkey bologna some olives for eyes, a dab of pesto for a nose, carrots for mouth and whiskers - oh and some lettuce to feed the bunny!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Needed dinner - fast - needed a good tasting, nutritious dinner - made own of my daughters favorites, cheese quesadillas, but I added some veggies (sauteed some red and green bell pepper and an onion in a little olive oil. and some chicken (poached it in some broth, shredded it and added a little bit of Mexican seasoning) added some chopped black olives some chopped tomato and of course the shredded cheese - used colby this time- almost instant dinner...
served it with some blue corn chips and some store bought salsa and some sour cream

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pasta with a meat sauce and a garden salad

Pasta, meat sauce and a salad made up dinner tonight, easy and good. sauteed a half a finly chopped onion and 2 cloves minced garlic in a little olive oil - browned about 1/2 lb of ground beef added some canned mushroom pieces, because I didn't have any fresh then added a couple of cans of canned petite diced tomatoes, and let it simmer for about 1/2 hour, then added a ton of fresh orageno and flat leaf parsely from my garden. Made some pasta, served it family style from one big bowl with some fresh ground parm, quick garden salad using my own cucumbers, some grape tomatoes, black olives, carrots and hearts of romaine. Everybody loved this meal...

Simple Pleasures: a toasted cheese sandwich

Its starting get cold already, I made myself a simple cheese sandwich, with Colby cheese and a few tomato slices - with a tomato from my garden a little black pepper - i used rye bread. The secet to avoid getting the cheese soggy from the tomato is to first broil the sanwhich and when its almost done then you put the tomato on

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Whole Red Snapper

Grilled with a Mediterranean flair... this was a real hit. Took one whole, cleaned red snapper and brushed it with a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil fresh chopped oregano and salt and pepper - made a couple of slits in the meaty part of the fish and rubbed the marinade in. Let this sit for about 10 mins, then grill over medium heat, covered for about 15 mins or until fish is done. Serve it on a platter covered with chopped onion and flat leaf parsley, sprinkle crumbled feta, deiced tomato and olives atop -

The school year is almost here, and once I go back to teach and my daighter goes back to school I should actually have more time to post ...Happy Cooking everyone!

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I have people staying with us, which means lots of extra work - no matter how much you love 'em. I feel like my house has turned into a B&B/restaurant ... and oh the dishes!! Lets see, first night I made a spinach lasagna, caprese salad and my homemade italian bread morning, waffles and a really nice fruit salad, then we had an outdoor bbq at our local park, then I did a quick quiche with some more fruit - last night I made my home made pizza and some homemade peach ice cream -

The quiche was easy, I had planned on a frittata but I didn't have any potatoes and at 6 am its hard to find them - so I went to my local drugstore and got some half&half -now for any quiche if you stick to 4-5 eggs to about 1.5 cups of cream/half and half it should set up nicely. I used what I had, some swiss cheese, some ham, a red pepper and a red onion that i diced and sauted in a little olive oil and thats about it - i used a frozen piecrust, mixed everything together and poured it in the pie crust - placed it on a baking sheet to avoid a mess and baked at 400 for 15 mins, then 350 for about 30 mins. Make sure to let it rest at leat 10 mins after taking it out of the oven

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Sorry not to be posting more - busy winding up the summer getting ready for back-to-school...
my husbands birthday was this past weekend, and he prefers pie over cake so I made a wonderful Strawberry Rhubarb pie, which is so easy and really good!
Ingredients: 1 lb Rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, tough strings removed (and always throw away the tops (leaves) if your stalks have them - they are poisonous!) 1/2 lb strawberry's tops removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 1 cup superfine sugar 1/4 cup minute tapioca pinch of salt crust for two crust deep dish 9" pie

Mix rhubarb and strawberries with sugar, tapioca and salt - let sit 15 mins. You can add some grated lemon or orange rind if you'd like - i don't Preheat oven to 400 F place pie crust in pie plate, place on a baking sheet to catch spillover pour filling in crust, dot with butter either put a top crust on, and vent it or make a lattice top bake for 20 mins, lower heat to 350 and bake for an additional 30-45 mins, checking to see if edges brown too fast (cover edges with foil) and when crust is nicely browned and filling is bubbling out of vents pie is done Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack - pie is best at room temp because then it is all nicely thickened - pie is also excellent warm, but more soupy serve with ice cream, whipped cream or just plain!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hot Summer Nights - Antipasta and more

Its been so hot - sorry I haven't posted, been trying to keep cool! Last night I made a wonderful antipasto dinner, I bought some really wonderful prosciutto di parma, bread sticks, cappacola, salami - bought some marinated artichoke hearts, already had some roasted peppers, some home made pesto - made a quick three bean salad, had some marinated olives added a loaf of crusty bread - easy and delicious, oh of course I couldn;t completely resist cooking so I grilled some baby eggplants, just slice them lengthwise into 1/4" thick slices, salt them and let them sit in a strainer for an hour, rinse pat dry then brush with some herb infused olive oil, I used oregano then grill turning frequently for about 10 mins total...for desert I made a really intense basil lime sorbet - which was very refreshing!! the other night I made some grilled lamb and a nice greek inspired salad, find these on my youtube channel

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Steak, chili and more ...

Its been awhile, sorry - things are crazy round here...had a wonderful dinner on Sunday, because I didn't cook it!! My husband made me one of my favorite meals Steak Frites, and he added a lovely asparagus dish he infused with our Texas Tarragon from our herb garden...then the following night I made a really refreshing jicama slaw, some lobster stuffed poblano peppers and a nice orange and garlic flounder can find these on my youtube channel

Last night I made a quick turkey chili with fixins', and some corn muffins
tonight I am planning on a watermelon sorbet for desert and leftovers for dinner...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dinner with our kitten, Timmy

Tonight we are going to dine with Timmy, our new baby kitten - since he is waiting to be introduced to all the other pets while he adjusts to his new home this means we need a portable feast to eat with him in my daughters bedroom - not sure how yet or what but I will think of something!

Ok - let her have a TV dinner, its once in a blue moon - set up a "table" in her room, set it and put out some healthy appetizers and wa-la - dinner with a cat!


Had a great dinner last night, which would be wonderful for a dinner party also. I made an assortment of different Spanish style dishes, bought some wonderful Spanish cheeses, some marinated mixed olives - and served it up on tiny plates - I made a pizza dough and used it to make some small tart shells which I filled with a bacon, mushroom and onion mixture thickened with a little cream and flour. I also used the dough to make a small loaf of bread - I made some open faced sandwiches with the bread, some dill mayo and a slice of potato and a piece of smoked salmon,
what else? Oh, shrimp in tons of garlic and some red pepper - sardines with tomato on little buns, cubes of boiled potato drizzled with a garlic sauce - and a fabulous veggie medley of cucumber, green pepper, tomato and onion - the Spanish dish calls for marrow - which is a type of squash that I can't get where I live so I substituted zucchini

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stuffed shells, spinach salad and chocolate ice cream

Crazy day yesterday, so much going on. For dinner I made a super fast and super good spinach salad, some stuffed shells and some decadent chocolate ice cream ... the secret to great chocolate ice cream is to use a really high quality bittersweet chocolate...all of these recipes can be found on my youtube channel

Friday, July 31, 2009

Calzones and more

Hello - My Sister and brother-in-law are coming today! Early this morning I made a basic pizza dough recipe, and after the first rise placed it in a plastic bag in the fridge. Then I made my Italian bread - next I made some hummus and cut up some red, green, yellow and orange peppers to serve with it. Then I made some calzone filling and cooked up some sausages as well...
made some dark chocolate mouse and am now taking a break - soon I will make a salad...
ended up making two kinds of salsas with some chips as a starter - calzones were amazing!
Saturday, I made belguim waffles and a great fruit salad for breakfast - then I can't remember lunch, oh yeah - we went and got an amazing little kitten and had fast food due to traffic and starvation - came home, went to the park for a cook-out, burgers and dogs, homemade coleslaw with my new food processor, watermelon etc
Sunday my husband made these incredible omlets, I made a fabulous pumpkin bread and more fruit salad - my sister and husband left. Easy dinner tonight, faijitas (steak and chicken) leftover salsa and chips - tired now...
Tomorrow I am making stuffed shells, a new salad I came up with but haven't yet tried and homemade chocolate ice cream!!
Oh, in honour of the kitten here is what my daughter did to my veggie platter

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Skewer Picnic - so much fun...

Tonight after a long day, we went ahead and had a great a great picnic - all different types of skewers! I did caprese skewers, with Mozzarella
and basil and tomatoes; tortellini skewers with sun dried tomatoes and tropical fruit ones with mango, watermelon and kiwi - what fun!!

Jess played in the water and icy had fun too...

weekend recap

Sorry - so much going on its hard to blog - had friends for dinner on Saturday, wnet to the park on sunday and was disgusted with the bread so I made my own, check it out dinner Saturday was Beef Bourguignon with mashed potatoes and brocolli rade and panna catto i also dis some hummus and a veggie platter to start - why am i italics??
Anyway heres a picture of the main dish

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hot Dogs!!

Did you know that July is National Hot dog month?? I did not, but my daughter found out - so in honor of this, I made healthy pigs in a blanket for lunch today. I used organic, hormone free, nitrate/nitrite free all beef hot dogs and the dough I use for pizzas and calzones - so easy and she was so happy! I served them with some watermelon to complete the summer theme and some juicy bing cherries...enjoy!

Rice Triangles

These lovely little appetizers make a great start to any meal. They aren't all that difficult, but they are so attractive. They are quite popular in Japan and are called Oginiri. Basically you just cook some sushi rice and then while it is still warm shape it into triangles, i chose to encase some cucumber batons in a few of the triangles and then wrap those with a strip of nori. Then I mixed some poached and flaked salmon in with the rest of the rice, shaped and coated with black sesame seeds and some with white seeds. I served them with soy sauce and they were a big hit!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dinner tonight - a picnic in the park!

Planning a picnic for tonight - made some yummy dinners over the past few days, yesterday went to a neighbors party and brought a platter of my savory Palmiers, a puff pastry swirl filled with mushrooms and bacon - really good. Recently made a wonderful chicken salad for dinner and another night did a pizza pocket calzone dish - will add a link to these soon...
off to the market to get some french bread, roast beef, provolone, really hoping to find a tomato that tastes like a tomato...some red onion, mayo, spicy mustard
and maybe some chips?
Had the picnic, it was great. I brought along a wedge of brie, a small cast iron skillet and a head of garlic wrapped in foil - we had roasted garlic and warm brie for appetizers - the day was beautiful - see the clouds in the water?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So very tired...

and alone

Floating Islands

Made the floating islands my daughter loved so much in Paris - lots of work, classic french cooking but oh! so very good - and a wonderful company dessert because you can do so much of it ahead. These are called Ile flottante in French, basically islands made of meringues float atop a classic creme anglaise (a vanilla custard like sauce)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Burgers and more in the park

Gorgeous day - went to a local state park and had a cook out. Carefully planned and took everything we needed, made a German potato salad, coleslaw - got some watermelon, marshmallows, oh and pre shaped organic ground beef patties, buns and fixings - it was great!

Pasta and meat sauce

Still exhausted from my trip - made a quick meat sauce with some pasta and a caprese salad with my gorgeous basil - sadly, the vegetable garden doesn't look so good - too much rain, too cold, not enough sun. The herbs look fabulous though - added some fresh oregano to my sauce, garnished with some fresh Italian parsley - oh and cats on the counter this morning...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Grilled cheese and a French salad

I am home!! Last night after all the wonderful food we had abroad, my daughter wanted
something comforting and familiar - so I went ahead and made her grilled cheese with
broiled tomatoes - I, however, wanted to try and replicate a delightful salad I had in Paris. Here's the picture of the one I made, and below it the picture of the one from France - what a wonderful vacation

Home again, after 8 days abroad

OK - So i really do miss Paris. I will share what I ate, and it was all beyond amazing. but right now I am exhausted. Tonight for dinner my wonderful mother-in-law made her version of Syrian chicken. I made panna cotta with two different fruit coulis...and a video for the blackberry one here are some pix and the video for the panna cotta and blackberry coulis

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vacation - day 1, here in London

What glorious weather - espresso machine in my room is amazing - went for a run, everyone else still sleeping - right near the river with a lovely view.
Can't wait to go exploring and will tell you about my food experiences here - off to Paris tomorrow, and no insult to the UK but that is where I am most looking forward to the food!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Menus –

I am going on vacation!! Hope to get tons of ideas for new recipes along the way – thought I would leave you with some menu ideas to look at while I am away

I cook pretty much every night, and while I do love to entertain mostly I cook just for my family … I write down what I make and I got this crazy idea to record it here – so here are over 2 months of everyday menus that I really made over the few months – sprinkled among these are a few entertaining and party menus, ideas for formal sit downs as well as buffets – all of these are doable, some need more time and effort than others – well here goes: (Recipes which are available on video
my youtube channel
are marked with a *** )

Lets begin with some fancy:

The other night I wanted something special for friends, so I made a million homemade raviolis, sausages (hot and sweet Italian, first poached then grilled) a lovely salad, homemade garlic bread and a new york style cheesecake *** – I started with some high quality store bought crackers, a few cheeses and green grapes. Oh – strawberries with sugar and grand marnier with the cheesecake, coffee of course

A semi-formal sit down dinner:

The other weekend we had 2 couples over (plus us) so 6 people – I wanted to try something a little more formal but not too stuffy I made:

• A veggie platter with a simple sour cream/cream cheese/herb dip – included pepper rings in many colors (red, green, orange and yellow), carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks, broccoli florets and cauliflower florets
• A platter of my bacon, mushroom palmiers ***
• Tortilla chips and salsa ***
• Mixtures of sangria ***
• Arugula bacon cheddar and apple salad ***
• Crispy chicken simply breaded and sautéed in butter ***
• Veal Saltimbocca ***
• Soft Polenta ***
• Parmesan crusted baby zucchini
• Decadent chocolate brownies *** with fresh strawberries macerated in triple sec and confectioners sugar and crème fraiche

Prior to that I had a simple backyard get together with 1 other couple and just did:

• Chips and salsa ***
• Chicken and steak fajitas, with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, green onions and cheese ***
• Savory black beans (canned black beans, with sautéed diced green bell pepper, onion and a little vinegar) ***
• Mexican rice ***
• Red sangria ***
• Decadent chocolate brownies ***

For my Moms Birthday I made:

• Vadas ***
• Aloo Goobi ***
• Chicken curry tikka masala
• Royal rice ***
• Naan
• Italian cheesecake ***

For large gatherings I like to make:

• Veggie platter
• Mozzarella /tomato and basil caprese salad
• Crispy sausages
• Meatballs ***
• Timpano
• Lasagnas: spinach, mushroom and meat (***)
• Canolies

A real celebration dinner I do sometimes:
• English style crown roast of beef
• Yorkshire pudding
• Creamed spinach (***)
• Roasted potatoes (roasted in goose fat or beef fat) (***)
• Crème brulee (***)

For fun and just for a playdate with some children for my daughter and other moms

• Mini gourgres (***)
• Brushetta with assorted toppings like pesto and tapenade (***)
• Fresh fruit: green grapes, blueberries, strawberries
• Chocolate chip cookies
• Biscotti (***)

Other ideas for more simple family dinners include the following dinners I have recently made:

For days when you have time to cook:

• Lasagna al forno (***)
• salad
• Garlic bread
• Three bean salad (***)
• Chocolate pudding (***)

• Fried chicken (***)
• Coleslaw
• Hush puppies
• Green beans

• Stuffed grape leaves (***)
• Hummus (***)
• Pita crisps (***)
• Mashed potatoes
• Baked acorn squash

• Turkey burgers (mini) (***)
• Homemade buns (mini) (***)
• Warm German potato salad with bacon
• Green beans

Well, I need to pack - can't wait to start my vacation - if I can post while in Europe I will...happy cooking everyone

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dinner with friends - lasagna etc

Had a wonderful dinner party last night, it was so easy because I had already made a lovely spinach and cheese lasagna and it was in the freezer - made a quick caprese salad to go with it, and some crispy sausages, both hot and sweet. Had cannolis for desert. For appetizers I put together a cheese ball and served it with some grapes and crackers and also offered to kinds of salsa, hot and mild with some blue corn chips and some line-yellow corn chips. Added a big pitcher of easy to make sangria and we had a great time with what seemed like minimal effort on my part