recipe: lemon risotto with asparagus

October 17th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (1 Comments)

I have actually never made risotto before.  I was apprehensive given the fact it is a difficult dish to prepare correctly, meaning the consistency… keeping it creamy but not over cooked is hard.

I used a large skillet that provided a broad base so the rice cooked evenly.  I stirred the rice constantly adding the broth as the liquid reduced and this too was a key to getting the rice cooked perfectly.  I suggest using a thinner asparagus as it works better in this dish.  You can also add some crispy pancetta to make this a meal in itself.  I really enjoyed the lemon flavor with the rice and asparagus.  I love the flavor of leeks but shallots or onions also can be substituted.  Make the dish first, then play with flavor and substitutes veggies your next time cooking.  Enjoy!



• 3 (14 ½ oz) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• ½ cup finely chopped leeks
• 1 ½ cups uncooked Arborio rice
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 3 cups steamed (still crisp) asparagus, cut diagonally into1 inch pieces
• ½ cup (2 oz) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves



• Bring broth to a simmer in a large saucepan (do not boil).  Keep warm over low heat.

• Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

• Add rice and rind; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in wine, and cook 3 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

• Add 3 ½ cups broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes).  Stir in asparagus.  Add remaining broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 10 minutes).

• Remove from heat; stir in cheese and juice.  Sprinkle with thyme.




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recipe: tomato soup

October 15th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Soup - (0 Comments)

When I think of tomato soup it brings back memories of a can of Campbell’s with a processed grilled cheese sandwich, a comfort food from my past.  I didn’t know soup could get better than Campbells!  I’m telling you this soup is a must try.  It is smooth, comforting, and delicious; a creamy tomato base with a hint of saffron and a bit of body added by the orzo.  Make an adult grilled cheese with Gruyere or an aged cheddar and a thick crusty bread to accompany it.  My family and clients keep asking me to make this soup.  Some grilled cheese croutons thrown in also make it special.



• 3 tablespoons of “good” olive oil
• 3 cups of yellow onions, chopped (approx. 2 large onions)
• 1 tablespoon of minced garlic (approx. 3 cloves)
• 4 cups of chicken stock, preferably homemade
• 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (Use San Marzano, it makes a difference!)
• 1 large pinch of saffron threads
• Kosher salt & Pepper to taste
• ½ cup of Orzo
• ½ cup of heavy cream


• Heat oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat add onions and sauté for 15 minutes over med low heat till golden brown.

• Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

• Now stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

• Bring soup to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

• While waiting, boil the Orzo in a medium saucepan, use salt in your water.  Once water is boiling add orzo and cook for 7 minutes, the Orzo will finish cooking in the soup.  Drain and add to the soup.

• Now add the cream 7 let soup simmer for about 10 more minutes, continue to stir.

• Serve with grilled cheese croutons…use Gruyere cheese or cheddar!


Enjoy!  This is a recipe by Ina Garten… weekend cooking!


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recipe: stir-fry

October 11th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

When I am trying to clean out the vegetable bin and I need a fast tasty meal that everyone loves, my go to recipe is stir-fry.  I can use almost any meat I have in the fridge, chicken, beef, or pork.  I can also stretch my volume if I am low on meat and heavy on veggies.  You always need garlic and some type of onion, white, green, red, or shallots.  I used San Marzano tomatoes I picked up at the market, fresh red & green peppers from the garden, and poblanos.  I also added some fresh basil from my garden.

For the sauce I marinated my chicken in a small amount of sesame oil and soy sauce.  I always keep hoisin sauce and Trader Joe’s General Tsao’s stir-fry sauce.  This sauce is sweet tangy and has a small amount of heat.  There is no need to order out when you keep this sauce in your house.  I serve this over brown or white rice for an easy, quick, great tasting meal.



• 3-4 whole chicken breasts or 6-8 halves
• ½ large onion (cut in small wedges)
• 2-3 variety of green peppers, sweet & hot depending on your taste palate
• 1 large red pepper
• 3 cloves of garlic
• 2 tomatoes sliced or cubed
• 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
• ¼ cup of General Tsao’s sauce
• Stir Fry oil
• Sesame oil
• 1/3 cup fresh herbs




• Slice your chicken or meat of choice into strips and marinate for a ½ hour.  While you are waiting for your meat to marinate cut up your veggies.

• Use a large stir fry pan and add a couple of tablespoons of stir fry oil.  When it is hot add your meat and cook.

• When the meat is cooked almost through add your veggies and toss with the hoisin sauce and General Tsao’s sauce.

• Stir-fry until veggies are cooked but still crisp, toss in your fresh herbs and serve.





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recipe: freeform blueberry pie

October 10th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

I love a dessert that is easy to make and tastes like it wasn’t.  I am also a big fan of blueberries no matter what time of year.  This recipe could be changed and you could use apples.  I’d add cinnamon.  I always like to make a fresh bowl of whipped cream; it makes the dessert even more special.  You can keep the discs of dough in your fridge pre-made and ready to go.  Easy, simple, and tastes great… a perfect recipe for me.



• 1/2 cup of butter softened
• 1 egg
• ¼ cup of heavy cream
• 1-¼ cups of all-purpose flour
• 4 cups of fresh blueberries
• 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoons fine dry breadcrumbs
• 1 tsp of lemon zest
• ¼ cup flour
• ¼ cup sugar
• 4 tablespoons of butter


• Beat butter in an electric mixer for 30 seconds, add egg and beat until combined, then beat in cream at low speed.  Add flour until well combined.

• Remove dough and make a flattened disc.  Wrap in parchment and chill for at least an hour.

• When ready, either divide dough into four parts for individual pies or roll out into one pie.  Roll out onto a lightly floured surface.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.



• Combine blueberries, sugar, zest, and breadcrumbs.  Toss to combine.

• Mound the blueberries onto the center of the pastry dough.  Carefully fold the pastry border up and over the blueberries, pleating the dough when necessary.



• Mix butter, flour, and sugar into fine crumbs and sprinkle over the pies or pie.

• Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly over entire surface.

• Transfer pie to a plate and cool before serving.  Serve with fresh whipped cream.





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I am not a fan of sweet potatoes so I shy away from recipes with this vegetable… but this soup is beyond delicious.  It is a recipe from “Stonewall Kitchens” and I find all their recipes are proven winners.  I made it with fresh corn and peppers from the farmer’s market.  The aroma and flavor of the saffron cream finishes this soup to perfection.  It is a must try for the cold nights ahead, let me know if you enjoy it.  It can be served as a first course, for lunch, and don’t forget to include a crusty bread, homemade cheddar biscuit or oyster crackers.


• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch squares
• 1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into ½-inch squares
• 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch squares (about 2 cups)
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 4 cups low-sodium canned chicken or vegetable broth
• 6 large ears fresh corn, or 3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
• 1 cup heavy cream
• About 1 teaspoon crumbled saffron
• 3 scallions (white and green parts), finely chopped



• In a large pot, heat the oil over low heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

• Add half of the red pepper and all of the yellow pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

• Add the sweet potato, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

• Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Raise the heat to high, stir in the broth, and bring to a boil.

• Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 12 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.

• Meanwhile, if using fresh corn, shuck it and remove the silks. Using a sharp knife remove the kernels from the cob by standing each cob on one end of the cutting board and working the knife straight down the cob; you should have about 3 cups of kernels.  Mix in the kernels; set aside.

• In a small saucepan, heat the cream and saffron over low heat for about 5 minutes, until just simmering.

• Add the saffron cream to the chowder and stir in the corn.  Heat over low heat for 5 minutes.

• Taste for seasoning.  Serve piping hot, topped with the scallions, and the remaining red pepper.

 PANTRY STAPLES: Trader Joe’s Soup & Oyster Crackers (Click to Read)


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recipe: nan’s gazpacho

September 19th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Appetizers | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This past weekend was an adventure in food and activity.  I spent the weekend with six couples that are all in better shape than me, but I kept up!  We could ski, paddle board, kayak, swim, water ski, bike, sail, hike… and read.  We all shared our cooking skills each assigned a night to make a meal.  This was my very favorite appetizer served by my friend Nancy.  At 5:30 every evening we met at the dock for appetizers, drinks, and eagle watching cruising the lake. What a treat this was, served with a variety of beers.  Enjoy!



• 1 32oz bottle of low sodium V8 juice
• 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
• 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
• 6 green onions, finely chopped
• 1 green pepper, finely chopped
• 1 yellow or orange pepper, finely chopped
• 2 English cucumbers or 4 small pickle cucumbers, finely chopped
• ½ cup of shredded/chopped carrots
• ½ cup of ketchup
• 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
• 2 large 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes with juice
• Tabasco to taste
• Salt & pepper to taste
• Optional – 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro or parsley



• Mix all of the ingredients in an extra large bowl.

• Let sit overnight in fridge.

• Serve in individual “ball jars” with cooked shrimp and sour cream.  Serves 12



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recipe: stuffed zucchini boats

August 24th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Appetizers | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

It’s zucchini time, the end of the season and our gardens are filled with the season’s labors. I love zucchini grilled with a small amount of olive oil or sautéed with garlic, olive oil, and a dash of balsamic, but my boys love it baked and stuffed.  This is a very simple recipe to enjoy this end of the summer vegetable.


• 3-4 zucchinis
• ¾ cup plain breadcrumbs
• ⅓ cup grated Parmesan
• 2 tablespoons of butter
• 2 tablespoons of fresh finely chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, or basil)
• Kosher salt & pepper



• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• Peel zucchini and cut into four pieces.  Then carve out the center of each piece.

• Melt butter in a small saucepan and add breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, and a dash of salt & pepper.

• Stuff zucchini with the bread filling.

• Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until zucchini is cooked and filling is crispy.



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recipe: tomato & cucumber salad

August 13th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Salads - (0 Comments)

I enjoy summer cooking for one simple reason… it is simple!  There is always something fresh in my vegetable bin after picking tomatoes from my small garden, fresh herbs and peppers, or all the other fresh veggies I cannot resist at the market.

I usually don’t cook off of a recipe, that’s why I haven’t included a great many dinners I have whipped up at the last minute for a mid-week meal in this blog.  I really don’t measure.  This simple but great tasting salad/side is an example of cooking from the vegetable bin, on the fly!  I was out of lettuce but needed to make a veggie salad… what to do?

I know I wanted to use the rest of the ripe sweet tomatoes and the mild Japanese pickle cucumbers.

I cut them both up in cubes and decided I wanted to finish off the Greek feta in the fridge.  Then I roasted a few pine nuts because I love them.  I thought about adding fresh herbs but somehow the crisp mild cucumbers and sweet juicy tomatoes with the added crunch of the nuts and wonderful feta was all I needed.  I then added 2 cloves of chopped garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Of course I add a dash of kosher salt & ground pepper.

This accompanied a grilled steak, twice baked potato, and fresh fruit.  So simple and easy with no need to go grocery shopping for the lettuce.  This is how I cook, and most times when I’m using what’s in the pantry and fridge I discover my favorite combinations.  Enjoy!



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recipe: baked chicken thighs

August 8th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

Chicken thighs are great baked or barbecued.  I like them skinless and boneless… marinated with mustard, maple syrup, and fresh herbs, or lathered in barbecue sauce and grilled to perfection!  They are so moist and tasty that you don’t need the skin or bones for the extra flavor.  You can also cut them up and put them on skewers with veggies or summer stone fruit.  I keep these in my freezer for a quick, perfect meal anytime.



• ½ cup of Dijon mustard
• ½ cup of pure maple syrup
• ¼ cup of fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, or rosemary
• Dash of salt & pepper



• Mix the above ingredients and marinate.

• Bake at 375 degrees for an hour or until thighs are completely cooked through. You can put them under broiler for a few minutes to make them extra crispy.

Try using this versatile meat.  Write in and give me your recipe for great tasting chicken thighs!



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recipe: summer peach crostata

August 6th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

It is the season for Red Haven Peaches and this recipe highlights their sweet and luscious taste.  The crust recipe is a butter crust I have used for years, it is also the same recipe that Ina Garten has in her Summer Fruit Crostata.  A butter crust can’t be beat in a fruit dessert, and I am a fan of all fruit desserts.  You can make this recipe with blueberries, nectarines, plums, or apples.  As the season changes so can the fruit.



PASTRY CRUST INGREDIENTS (makes 2 crostatas):
• 2 cups all purpose flour
• ¼ cup of superfine sugar
• Dash of kosher salt
• 2 sticks of cold butter, diced
• 6 tablespoons of ice water


• 6-7 large red haven peaches, peeled and sliced
• 1 tablespoon of flour
• 1 tablespoon of sugar
• ½ tablespoon of cinnamon
• ¼ tsp of orange zest
• 2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice


• ¼ cup flour
• ¼ cup of sugar
• 4 tablespoons of cold butter



• Combine dry ingredients.

• Add butter till mixture resembles pea like crumbles.

• Add water. Do not over mix.

• Divide dough into two disks, flatten and wrap in parchment.

• Store in fridge for at least an hour.  You can freeze for use later on.


• Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

• Mix fruit filling ingredients for filling.

• Combine topping ingredients into a crumbled mixture.

• Roll out dough onto a well floured surface about 11 inches in diameter.

• Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.

• Place fruit mixture onto dough leaving a 1-½ inch edge.

• After filling the dough bring edges up and crimp around fruit mixture.

• Sprinkle the topping over the crostada.

• Place in the preheated oven.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until edges of dough are golden and crumble top is bubbly.

• Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.  Enjoy!



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