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.



Is it still summer time? Then we must still be grilling. And if we’re still grilling then I’m writing about the best red wine to pair with grilled meats. Zinfandel! When I say Zinfandel I’m always talking about the red varietal.

Predator is the first “Zin” review since I’ve started writing for you. I’m sure there will be more. Zinfandel is the most versatile red wine I have experienced. There are a few different styles based on the region the grapes are grown along with the wine maker’s preferences.

Predator is from the Lodi Appellation of California and is harvested from “old vines”. If you look closely at the label you will see that the Lady Bug is the Predator, implying the organic approach to controlling pests used by this winery.

Predator is characterized by bacon, vanilla, smoky barbeque and spice on the nose. When it hits your pallet there is a jammy and robust dark cherry flavor that mingles with the characteristic spiciness that often accompanies Zinfandel.

Good Zinfandels can get very pricey, but this one can be purchased for $14-16. Grill a burger, steak, lamb chops or marinated chicken and pop open a bottle of this full bodied red wine.



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!



table dressing: pink

August 10th, 2012 | Posted by admin in TABLE DRESSING - (0 Comments)

Another beautiful table courtesy of Material Possessions in Winnetka & Chicago, IL.  Pretty in pink with crisp white plates and crystal and silver accents… just like a great summer outfit with the perfect jewelry.  Have fun with your table!



fresh cut flowers

August 10th, 2012 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Indoor - (0 Comments)

I’m all about pink today on the table.  Fresh cut flowers from the garden on a pretty cloth makes a bright happy summer table.  Roses and a variety of hydrangeas fill this vase and keep me smiling.



It’s always a parent’s joy when your children like at least some of what their parents like.  So I want to give props to my son for sending this refreshing white blend from California to me for Father’s Day this year.  Since then, we’ve shared several bottles with friends and family through the summer months and it’s been a big hit.

Chenin Blanc (79%) is a white wine varietal from the Loire valley of France.  Its high level of acidity means it is very versatile and its neutral palate allows it to take on the flavors of the soil it is grown in.  The bright fruit character shines through in this Napa Valley grown grape.

Viognier (21%) is also a grape of French origin and in this case comes from the Lodi region of northern California.  Viognier is typically characterized by a floral and spicy nature.

You won’t have to think hard when you drink this wine, just simply enjoy it by itself or with light appetizers, fish, or a grilled chicken salad.  It’s widely available between $11-13 and was awarded 90 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.



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!



Yes, I am Armenian and this is my favorite bread.  We grew up eating this instead of sliced wonder bread for our sandwiches.  I did get strange looks at the lunch tables back in the day but it was so good I didn’t care.  My Grandmother would start making bread at 5am.  When she stayed at my house we would have to be up early to get the dough ready.  I had a gas oven so the bread was put on the bottom of the oven and we cooked all day.  The pantry would be bulging with stakes of bread layered high wrapped in soft towels that looked like cheesecloth.  It was delicious!

I have to admit I have not made bread since my grandmother died.  I no longer have a gas oven just a gas stove.  But I purchase it from “Valley Bakery” in Fresno, California.  It is very close to my grandmother’s recipe but nothing is better than fresh.  We always soften the bread before eating it.  I sprinkle it under the tap with water and then place it a towel to keep it fresh.  You can still have a bit of crunch but also you can roll cheese or meat into the bread.  This is a staple in my pantry; I order it by the case.  Sunset Foods carries it in white and whole wheat.  Enjoy!



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!



I have made many corn bread recipes and although I love corn bread I have never liked the way the bread falls apart.  This recipe has amazing taste and perfect consistency.  It is sweet and spicy, warm and buttery.  It makes a perfect side dish to anything… if you can keep your family from eating it all before dinner.  I have made this in mini muffin tins and regular muffin tins, but if you can find the pans that shape your bread into mini corn loaves it makes a great presentation. Again this recipe comes from Mitchell Rosenthal’s Cooking my way Back Home.  There are so many more recipes to try from this wonderful cookbook.


• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ⅔ cup sugar
• ½ cup cornmeal
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 ¼ cups whole milk
• 2 large eggs
• ⅓ cup canola oil
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 3 jalapeño chiles, seeded and finely diced
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, mixed with 2 tablespoons honey



• Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease 12 standard muffin cups with butter or line the cups with paper liners.

• In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

• In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, eggs, oil, and butter until well blended.

• Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well to combine.

• Finally, add the chiles and mix again until well combined.

• Distribute the batter evenly among the 12 prepared muffin cups.

• Bake for about 20 minutes, or until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a corn bread comes out dry.

• When done, immediately brush the tops of the hot breads with the butter-honey mixture and then let rest in the pan on a wire rack for a few minutes.

Serve hot.