Monday, November 14, 2011

Meatless Monday- Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

I originally saved this recipe on the FOOD52 website. I then took my very sweet time trying it, which the only mistake made here was in my procrastination. After googling this recipe I found it was written about everywhere. So as I kept telling myself I would get around to making this sauce, it seems everyone else was more on the ball. This is sure to become a fast favorite. Quite a hearty meatless recipe.
When I was growing up, my mom would always ask us, (me, my brother and sister) what meal we wanted prepared for our birthday dinner. My brother and I were quick to choose spaghetti. My mother's sauce was so thick, you could eat it with a spoon. Since our birthdays' are just a month apart, it may have been part conspiracy on our part, since we knew we would technically be getting her delicious spaghetti sauce twice within a month's time. I remember the care and technique she put into perfecting her sauce. When I first made Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce, it took me right back to my childhood days. It was like that scene from the movie ' Ratatouille', when the critic tastes the Ratatouille and his mind goes right back to his childhood and the version his mother made for him. Needless to say, if you can achieve that moment in anyone, your recipe is a guaranteed winner!
Really, let's not procrastinate another moment....

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

1 28 0z. can of whole peeled tomatoes- preferably organic ( I have also used crushed)
1 medium onion- peeled, cut in half
5 T. unsalted butter
Add salt according to your preference

Combine all ingredients in a stock pot. Let simmer for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. May simmer longer. I found that the longer it simmers the thicker the sauce becomes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Candy Cap Bread Pudding

In Ireland, bread pudding is a common Christmas treat for breakfast. Makes sense to combine day old bread and a few other ingredients capturing a perfect harmony of spice and custard. My grandma had a recipe for Irish bread pudding that is amazing. She was proud of her heritage and I would say this recipe was a perfect representation.
I modified the original recipe to include candy cap mushrooms. This mushroom smells of pure maple syrup and is a great addition to any dessert, breads, waffles, pancakes ,custards and ice cream. These mushrooms are small, delicate, red brown mushrooms that become more intense when dried and add a maply rich flavor. They bake in perfectly disguised for those that would never trust such a feat from a mushroom. My Candy Cap Mushrooms were a sample courtesy by Marx Foods.
Start a tradition during the holidays this year with Candy Cap Bread Pudding. Your house will smell scrumptious and you won’t feel the stress of a demanding recipe. This rich, sweet bread pudding can be prepared ahead and baked on Christmas morning after Santa has arrived, or as a delicious treat to serve guests stopping in during the holidays.

Candy Cap Bread Pudding:
1 loaf of French bread – ripped into bite size pieces, preferably day old
¼ cup dried candy cap mushrooms (
3 cups cream
¾ whole milk
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
5 organic eggs
½ cup light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup golden raisins

1.Take a 2 quart pan and bring cream to a scald. Take pan off heat. Infuse Candy Cap mushrooms for 1 hour.
2.Butter 9x13-inch baking dish. Tear up the bread and place it in the dish. Whisk the eggs with the milk, cream/mushroom mixture, sugar, vanilla, butter, salt and spices, in medium bowl to blend; pour over bread. Sprinkle the raisins over the mix, and working with your hands, fold them in to incorporate them evenly through the bread. Press down on bread to make sure it gets moistened completely. Cover with foil and chill overnight.
3.Place foil-covered dish in cold oven. Set oven at 350°F and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until pudding is puffed and golden, about 30-35 minutes longer. Spoon pudding onto plates. Could serve with a sprinkle of chopped, toasted nuts, or with a slathering of butter and warm maple syrup.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Not my mother's pears

There is no doubt that my mother cultivated my love for food. When I was growing up, cooking from scratch in our home was just the way meals were prepared. My mother abhorred the idea of fast food, spaghetti Os, and instant mashed potatoes.
However, other than summertime when fruit was over flowing in our house, we regrettably did partake in canned pears. Yuk! I have no idea what canned fruit serves as a purpose.
Thankfully fall is the time of year when fresh pears are here. I love the simplicity and deliciousness of this recipe. It combines just a few superior ingredients for an amazing end result.
So if you grew up as I did, this is your lesson for taking advantage of fruit. While pears are amazing to just pick up and eat, there is a whole world out there of what to do with fresh fruit. Enjoy, and never pick up a can of fruit again!

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 Bosc pears, halved lengthwise and cored
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 pound fresh goat cheese
1/3 cup honey
Freshly ground black pepper

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.Put butter in a 9x13 baking dish and melt in oven for 2 minutes.
3.Arrange pears cut side down, single layered. Roast for 30 minutes.
4.Pour vinegar over pears and roast for 7 minutes more.
5.Transfer pears to serving dish, cut side up. Spoon juices over pears from baking dish. Arrange cheese on and around pears.
6.Drizzle pears and cheese with honey. Grind fresh black pepper over the top of pears and cheese.
7.Note: I used crumbled goat cheese. If using pieces of goat cheese, arrange over the pears. You may cut 8 pieces prior to assembly

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday dinner... sandwich??

This Sunday dinner was inspired by The Sandwich King. I typically never think sandwiches qualify as dinner. Maybe lunch. This worked by marinating an economical cut of meat. Whisk up the marinade with quailty ingredients like farmers market honey, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce, it's off to a good start. I marinaded this beef for about 3 hours. Do more if you are more keen to thinking ahead than I was today. The turn out was tender slices of beef on a grilled ciabatta. Sunday dinner sandwich that you won't be able to turn down.

1/8 cup honey
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1/8 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
sea salt
black pepper

1 1/2 pounds boneless beef tip - may use any cut that you favor. I bought this because it was on sale.The beef I bought was already sliced thin.
4 Ciabatta rolls
8 ounces of feta cheese

Combine all ingredients for marinade and pour over beef in a deep bowl. Refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight.
Remove beef from bowl and pour out marinade.
Place steak on the hot grill. If you are using a gas grill, cover the grill. Grill for 4-6 minutes on each side.
Remove from grill and transfer to a platter. Thinly slice beef.
Take ciabatta rolls and slice in half.
Layer beef slices on ciabatta roll and top with feta cheese.
Broil for 4 to 5 minutes.
You may add condiments of your choice to the sandwich.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blown away!

Over the past year, not too many things have blown me backward. The past year has been a journey to find a new path, or perhaps start anew on an old route. I have followed my biggest interest, food, by starting a blog. Of course, finding food52 has been nothing short of inspiring. Many home cooks giving advice, support and dreams. The challenges given by food52 have stretched my own culinary efforts. But I never thought I stood out in any way.
Following your heart is easy to do when your heart loves something so, as I do food. Job interviews that turn into no's, uncertainty about what tomorrow brings, can turn around so quickly with a bit of good fortune.
To my amazement, food 52 featured me yesterday. I will take this as a bit of good fortune!

Thanks for making my day food52!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Healthy Beginnings

I can't believe my last post was in June! Whew, the summer has flown on by, and I am already anticipating the crazy rush of life when fall arrives. Fall conjures many images in my mind, like apples, hay rides and well... breakfast. What can I feed my children that is healthy, fast and something they will actually eat?
I have the perfect recipe, thanks to the blueberry picking that has taken place. Pancakes, yes pancakes it is. Fresh picked blueberries, a lemon and a few other ingredients and there is never a need to buy powdered pancake mix again.

The lemon adds a depth to the pancakes that partners perfectly with blueberries. In the end, one bite and you have a pancake that is anything but ordinary. So, get the griddle out and maybe keep it out for dinner too!

This recipe was adapted from Bobby Flay.

Pancake batter:
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 large eggs, seperated
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons lemon zest, I perfer to use organic lemons
1 tablespoon vanilla
pinch cream of tartar
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup ricotta
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 stick butter, cut into pats


Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, oil, buttermilk, lemon zest and vanilla extract.

Now, pour liquid ingredients into the dry. Mix together until flour is just incorporated.
In a small bowl, use a hand mixer to mix egg whites and cream of tartar together. Beat until soft peaks form.
Gently fold this egg white mixture into pancake batter. Mix until just incorporated.
Set aside for about 10 minutes, then fold in blueberries.
Mix ricotta with milk. Set aside.


Heat griddle and place a pat of butter on surface until melted.
Scoop 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook until bubbles appear on the top surface and the bottom is golden brown, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Flip over and cook until the bottom is lightly golden brown, about 45 seconds. You may keep warm in an oven, or serve to starving guests (family members) right away. This is every man for himself method! Serve a dollop of ricotta and pure maple syrup over pancakes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A food network challenge...

One of my very favorite shows on television is, 'The Next Food Network Star.' I was highly motivated to get my children in bed, so I could sink into culinary bliss and watch the magic unfold. I am never disappointed with the knowledge, expertise and pure genius these contestants bring forth. To make an elegant dish comprised of sardines, chocolate and strawberries leaves me dumb founded. Wow, I think, what a brilliant combination!
Last night, as the Season 7 opened, I was once again blown away. First challenge, a sophisticated breakfast that reveals something about yourself. Revelation on a plate, hmmm? Some contestants were cooking shrimp, some chicken and of course many eggs. I started thinking what I would prepare and what it says about me. My quiche came to mind, the one I just made a few days ago. Maybe that is why it popped into my head so quickly. This quiche is simple, elegant and could impress a food network judge. Besides, a quiche can easily play the part of sophisticated breakfast, or lunch, or dinner. For the record, I would be saying a prayer that Bobby Flay pronounced my quiche the best ever.
Simply, beat 6 eggs in a bowl and add 1/2 cup of 1% milk, mix:

Pour into a frozen pie shell( If serving to Bobby Flay make homemade. If serving to a family on a hectic weekday evening, organic whole wheat is fantastic.)

Next, tear spinach into small pieces, slice tomato, slice jalapenos and place around in the egg mixture. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese and sharp cheddar over quiche.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Time may vary slightly depending on your oven.

Note: I used 1% milk in my quiche, traditionally it is made with whole milk or half&half. If serving to a crowd you may substitute, but for a healthier version, prepare as directed above.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Memorial Day to Remember

Happy Memorial Day!
I am sure many of you are in full grilling mode at this moment. Unless, like myself you were fortunate to be invited somewhere. Then the only dilemma is what appetizer you should bring. There are so many from which to chose. But I dare say, this one is a winner. Tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil on a stick. If you are in a appetizer rut, like I was, this has all the appeal. Quick, fresh, delicious. The added perk is that summer decided to join us today, and when summer is here to stay, cranking up the oven is just so... not needed in this case.

So, as I enjoyed the spectacular feast prepared by my mother, I surprised her with old photos I dug out. Her wedding day photos from 50 years ago on May 27Th. This marks quite an accomplishment, considering the times we are living in. For me my parents anniversary and memorial holiday coinciding is the way it has always been. Some things in life are great when they stay the way they have always been. Just not your appetizer!

The flavors of the tomato, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil taste like fresh picked summer.
10.5 ounce package of grape tomatoes, wash and pat dry
Fresh basil, rip leaves into bite size pieces
Fresh mozzarella, you can cut into bite size pieces or buy pearl
Balsamic vinaigrette
Tooth picks or small skewers

Alternate on skewer, tomato, basil and cheese. When finished with assembly of the skewers, drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. Ready to serve.

Note: I used more than half of the 10 ounce package of tomatoes for 6 adults. The great thing about this recipe is you can keep making until you have enough for a big crowd, or make for a smaller group. Serve as a snack, appetizer or on the go lunch.
If you would like to substitute the fresh mozzarella for low fat, this is great for those who want a lower calorie option.

Basil is a good source of vitamin A, which helps to prevent free radical damage to our cells. Vitamin A also prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream, thus preventing cholesterol from building up in blood vessels.
Basil also contains magnesium. This essential mineral helps the heart and blood vessels to relax, improving blood flow. Other nutrients found in basil include iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pyramids to plates...

I was very excited to see this article. After all, when I think of pyramids, I think ancient. Plates are a positive symbol. The picture above is my grandma Charlotte's china plate. I say Congratulations to Michelle Obama for a job well done!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Morels and Morals?

Whew, we are still here. The world didn't end. If it had, I bet this recipe would have been on the 'Welcome Home' feast. I am talking about morels. They are tasty little devils... I mean mushrooms.

Morel season has just hit Traverse City. Many comb the woods looking for this treasure. My daughter found these morels growing near her favorite tree in our yard. ( Yes, at 4 she knows how to spot a morel!) With spring being a bit late this year, now is the time to take full advantage of hunting for morels. The taste of morels is not like any other mushroom, so if you are not a mushroom lover, this may be the one for you to try!

Morels have a more refined taste, not like the earth or dirt. Recipes with morels, in my opinion, should be simple enough so the truly amazing taste of the morel is not over powered by the other ingredients. This recipe is inspired by my love of pasta with mushrooms. They compliment one another. Of course, I must say, sauteing morels with real butter, and a pinch of sea salt is still one of my all time favorite ways to eat this gift from nature.

Morel Fettuccine

Serves 4 to 6


1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/8 cup chopped scallions

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoons sherry ( may use Cognac)

1 1/2 pounds fresh morels, rinsed, drained and patted dry

1 pound fresh fettuccine ( may use boxed)

1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

salt and pepper to taste


Boil a pot of water. When water is boiling add fettuccine. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

*Use 1 quart of water for every 4 ounces of pasta you plan to cook.

In a saute pan, melt butter and add scallions. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add whipping cream and sherry. Stir and reduce heat. Add morels and let simmer , covered for 15 minutes.

When pasta is ready, drain and set pot aside. Add the Parmesan cheese to the morel mixture and stir well until melted completely. Spoon over pasta and serve.

This recipe is quick and easy, which is terrific after a day hunting in the forest.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A gathering of friends...

It was my daughter's birthday recently and she was excited to have a party this year. It was the first ever for her. She told me the friends she wanted to invite and as an extra special touch, my two best friends were coming to the party as well. What was so amazing was that our three daughters would be playing together. We are seeking to nurture this next generation of little women and the importance of female friendships in their lives.

To honor the presence of my friends coming for the weekend, I stressed over the perfect meal to serve. I wanted it to be delicious of course, but also something reflecting their 'meal' style. I thought of things my mother fixed for her company. Okay, that was the 70s and 80s. Not so sure they were going to like Chicken Divan. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. I looked through at least 20 cookbooks. I wanted the perfect recipe, but what? It eluded me for days. Until finally.....

I came across this recipe in 'The Family Chef', by Jewels and Julie Elmore. These women are young and hip and reading their cookbook makes me feel like I am getting a fabulous secret recipe from a friend. They look like the kind of girls you could hang out with. They even cooked for Jennifer Aniston. Impressive! So it only made sense to find my recipe here.

This was a hit. My friend Samantha is still talking about how good these were. To me there is nothing that says I love you more that making a meal for someone that really touches who they are.

Lettuce Chicken Wraps:

The Filling:

2 Tablespoons Peanut Oil
3 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
3/4 Cup Chopped Shitake Mushrooms, can substitute if you desire
3 Large Carrots, grated
3 Shallots, finely chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Minced Ginger
2Pounds Chicken Breast, Cut up bite size
1 Teaspoon ground pepper
2 small cans of water chestnuts, drained and diced

The Sauce:

1 Cup Soy Sauce
5 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
5 Tablespoons Orange Juice
5 Tablespoons Water
4 Tablespoons Cornstarch
2 Teaspoons Chili Flakes
4 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce

The Lettuce Cups:

1 Head of Iceberg Lettuce, washed and leaves separated for individual cups


1. For the sauce, mix all ingredients together and stir with a whisk. You may shake in a jar. Set aside.
2. In a large non stick skillet, add the oils. Over medium heat, add the mushrooms, carrots, shallots, ginger and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
3. Add the chicken and cook, stirring constantly.
4.When chicken is almost cooked, and pepper and the sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
5. With chicken cooking, prepare the lettuce cups on plates.
6. Remove pan from heat, and add water chestnuts to the chicken mixture.
7. Spoon chicken mixture into lettuce cups and serve.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chocolate Toasts

When I came upon this recipe it never crossed my mind it would become an instant favorite. Since I am always on the lookout to try a new recipe, I don't have alot of 'go to' recipes. In fact, this may be the first one. With good reason, chocolate.

Armed with some dark chocolate and Pink Hawaiian Sea Salt ( new ingredient for me), I adapted a recipe from Amanda Hesser's book, 'Cooking for Mr Latte'. The recipe called for fleur de sel to finish over the chocolate. This is an expensive salt because it is hand harvested. The Hawaiian pink salt that I used is sea salt and alaea, which is baked Hawaiian red clay. This gives the salt a beautiful pink hue.

The salt actually brings out the flavor in chocolate, so when making these, add the salt to one; taste, and continue with the other toasts. The flavor should not be salty, just enlivened. As an added twist, I sprinkle cayenne pepper over each toast. This is optional, it just adds a bit of a kick with the richness of the chocolate, rounded out with the salt. Um mm, good! Serve these adorable little toasts as an appetizer or as a delicate dessert. As an appetizer, just put out with other choices, and I bet you will see this one fly off the table.
1 loaf of french bread - slice thinly
1 bar of dark chocolate ( I used 1 Ghirardelli dark chocolate bar- break in pieces)
Hawaiian Pink Salt or Sea Salt ( for the speciality salt)
Cayenne pepper- a dash per toast
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice one loaf of french bread on the thin side. Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Use one small, bite sized piece of chocolate per slice of bread ( I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate- any fine dark chocolate will do.) Bake until chocolate is soft but still holding its shape. Move to a serving platter. Sprinkle each slice of bread with extra virgin olive oil , Hawaiian pink salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. Serve

Monday, January 10, 2011

Kickin' Curry Monday

This time of year in Michigan the sun likes to play , behind the clouds mostly. So when I saw patches of sun this morning, I immediately felt energized. As I sit and type at my computer an evanescent patch of sunlight warms my wood floor. But as fickle as it is, dimness has already set in.

Since the warming rays of the sun are still months away, one ingredient in the kitchen will always do the trick. A fragrant, soothing coconut curry. The great thing about curry is you are the one in control. When the weather is cold outside, you may wish for a more substantial curry. When the days are warm weather rolls in, a light broth type curry is out of this world.

I love the warming spices of this recipe that include some heat from the jalapenos, and a smooth finish with the coconut milk. This recipe which was adapted from Bon Appetit will delight all the senses.

1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 stalks lemongrass
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup shallots, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped ( may use more for added kick)
1 1/2 T. curry powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/8 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups canned coconut milk
2 1/2 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
lime wedges for garnish

1. Cook green beans until crisp in a large pot of boiling water. About 5 minutes. Drain.

2. Cut about 2 inches from bottom of each lemongrass stalk, discard tops. Chop up bottom pieces.

3. Place lemongrass pieces, and next 7 ingredients in food processor. Blend until consistency of paste.

4.Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add curry paste and coconut milk, stir together and reduce heat to a simmer.

5. Add shrimp. Cook until shrimp are opaque about 6 to 8 minutes. Add green beans and let simmer another 3 to 5 minutes, so green beans can heat through.

6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Serve over steamed rice. Garnish with lime wedges.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

The New Year is here and I generally ease into it, but this year I rang it in! Our family had a great time with my husband's cousin's family. We had a wonderful dinner, played a ton of games and had a great time yelling " Happy New Year." Everyone except my 3 year old daughter who held on until 11:15.

Growing up our family tradition on New Year's Day was to eat black eyed peas for good luck. (My mom grew up in the South.) This is one of those traditions, or superstitions that I feel anxious about every year. If I don't make these, could all hell break loose? What are the rules for children? Could I really be tempting their very fate by not serving these peas? Last year I did tempt fate and I didn't serve them. It was the first time ever. For the most part 2010 was good to me. However for some very special people close to me, it was a difficult year. I wish for 2011 to be bright, beautiful and very fulfilling for everyone I love this year.

The end of 2010 was a set up for a interesting and unpredictable 2011. I became certified as a Lifestyle Educator and have plans this coming week to start with my first office. I wonder what I will be writing about this time next year? Do you ever wonder the same thing? I would love to hear your goals for the New Year.

Aside from waiting to see where a new career may lead me, I would also love to read through all the books waiting in line to be the next before I purchase another, train for the Bay Shore Marathon ( 10k for me), and cook with more unusual ingredients. Most importantly, I want to live in the moment of everyday over the next 364 days of 2011. I want this to be the year that great things happen or not, and I enjoy everyday taking things as the come. Because that must be the way it was meant to unfold.

Today's recipe has a pinch of good luck, healthy ingredients and it tastes great! This recipe was adapted from Rock Harper. His appearance on the Today Show inspired me to take his great recipe and make some adaptions.

Good Luck Turkey Tacos

1 pound ground turkey
2 cloves garlic
3 T. olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped coarsely
2 jalapeno peppers, 1 chopped coarsely (use the other for garnish- optional)
1 12oz bag of frozen corn, use fresh if you have available
1 16oz can of black eyed peas, may also use frozen

Slice garlic very thin and heat in olive oil until slightly golden brown. Add the ground turkey and cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add the next 3 ingredients and turn heat down to medium low. Cover and let cook until corn is hot about 7 minutes. Then add black eyed peas and let heat through.

Serve with warm corn tortillas. May also serve with brown rice for a stir fry meal.

**( If using frozen add when adding frozen corn. If using fresh corn, add corn and peas at same time so they can heat through.)

Enjoy, and have the best New Year ever!! You will be off to a great start with this recipe! XO-A