Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lebna - a Smooth and Creamy Yogurt Cheese

Lebna - a Smooth and Creamy Yogurt Cheese

If you like cream cheese, but want a healthier low fat alternative, Lebna is for you. Lebna is very versatile, it can be eaten on toast with jam, or served as a dip drizzled with olive oil. The active yogurt cultures are good for your digestive tract and Lebna is a good for your bones because it is a good source of calcium. Lebna can be used in place of cream cheese or sour cream and to make all sorts of cream based dip.


  • 1 large tub of low fat or non-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 yd of cheesecloth


  1. The cheesecloth will be fold into fourths, unfold into halves.
  2. Center the cheesecloth in the middle of a large mixing bowl.
  3. Pour the entire container of the yogurt into the cheesecloth.
  4. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and tie it up with a rubber band.
  5. The bundle will need to be hung overnight or for about 12 hours in order for the water to be drained out. I hang my over my laundry sink with the mixing bowl under the bundle to catch the liquid draining out of the yogurt.
  6. Remove the cheesecloth from the yogurt cheese and place the cheese in a container. It will have the consistency of cream cheese.
  7. The cheese is ready to serve or use.

Although you can find cheesecloth at the grocery, if you decide to make lebna on a regular basis, it is much cheaper to buy the cheesecloth by the yard. You can find it at Joann's Fabrics. I like buy about 5 yds at the time. The cheesecloth is also useful for tying the bouquet garnis, or herb seasonings to use in stews and soups.

You can also smoke the Lebna. Just leave it in the cheese cloth after preparation and hang it in your smoker for 30 minutes. It is better to use a cool smoke, using water as a heat shield in the smoker.

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Copyright © 2007, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rustica Shrimp-Gorgonzola Pizza

This pizza is a great change of pace and takes almost no time to make. It is lighter on the dough than most pizza and has a crisp flavor that stands up to beer or wine. Serve this with a fresh spinach salad for a complete satisfying meal. In this summer time I will make this for you outdoors in the Stone Pony, my outdoor stone oven.


  • 1/2 lb. Ball of Pizza Dough, make your own if you like, I bought mine from a local pizza shop.
  • 8-10 Large Uncooked Frozen Shrimp
  • 1 Large Tomato, diced
  • 1 Tbs. Dry Oregano
  • 2 Slices of Cooked Bacon, or 3 Slices of Prosciutto
  • 10 Green Olives, Sliced.
  • 10 Dry Cured Moroccan or French Black Olives, Sliced
  • 4-6 Oz. Gorgonzola Cheese, Shredded
  • 1/2 oz grated Romano Cheese.
  • Black pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  1. Make sure the dough is thawed, leave out to rise. Make sure you cover it so it does not dry out.
  2. Lay down a layer of cornmeal on your bread board.
  3. Roll out the dough over the cornmeal. This will keep it from sticking and will give it a rustic flavor.
  4. Brush the dough with olive oil. Leave in a warm place to rise further. At our house we put it on top of the drier. However, this often causes our cats to do horrible things to the dough, so be careful.
  5. Wash the frozen shrimp in cool water. If it is already thawed, wash it anyways.
  6. Place shrimp in a small mixing bowl, add 1 tsp Oregano, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil. Mix, cover, and set aside at room temperature. Make sure that it is completely thawed before you put it on the pizza. I like to make sure it is room temperature because it cooks better.
  7. Place the diced tomatoes in a small colander. Salt, pepper, and add the rest of the Oregano. Mix.
  8. Let the tomatoes drain into a bowl while you do the rest of the work. Draining the tomatoes now helps keep your pizza crispy.
  9. Spread the cheese on the dough and top with the tomatoes. Set aside about 1 handful of cheese.
  10. Add the olives and bacon (or proscuito)
  11. Cut the shrimps in half and distribute evenly over the pizza. Hint: Leave the very center of the pizza with less ingredients, this will prevent the pizza from being soggy.
  12. Sprinkle the remaining handful of gorganzola over the top.
  13. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 400o F. (205o C.)oven.
  14. Sprinkle the Romano cheese over the top.
  15. Curl up in front of the TV and watch a Celtics game and eat this pizza with an ice cold beer.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, All Rights Reserved


These meatballs are scrumptious with the benefit of being very low fat and healthy. The rich flavor is a combination of grilled portabellos, carrots, celery and onions that I added to the ground turkey. I grind my own turkey breast using my beloved Kitchen Aid Mixer and the handy food grinder attachment, so if you can that is what I would recommend. This recipe will easily yield enough meatballs for 2 meals. Or, you can save 1/2 of the mixture to make a Salisbury steak dish. If you de-bone and grind your own turkey, it costs less than hamburger with a fraction of the fat content.

If you like these meatballs, you might also like our Italian Style Turkey Ball Recipe



For the meatballs

  • 1lb of ground turkey breast
  • 1-2 portabello mushrooms
  • 1 medium size carrot
  • 2 stalk of celery, including leaves
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup of flat leave parsley
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder NOT SALT
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder NOT SALT
  • 2tsp of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup of flavored bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of finely ground cornmeal

For the sauce (double quantities if you are making the entire batch which is about 55-60 or so meatballs)

  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • 1 cup of turkey stock
  • 6 oz of thinly sliced crimini or white mushrooms
  • 1 tsp of minced parsley
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly minced garlic
  • olive oil


  1. Wipe any dirt off the portabello mushrooms and trim the stem. Set the stems aside for later.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over the entire portabellos, top and bottom.
  3. Season them with onion and garlic powder.
  4. Salt and pepper and set aside to marinade for about 15 minutes.
  5. (OPTIONAL)For the bread crumbs, I made my own by brushing stale bread with olive oil and minced garlic. Pop them in the oven at 400F until they are crispy. Once they are done and cool, use a food processor and process the bread into finely ground breadcrumbs. Remove from the food processor and put in a large mixing bowl. No need to clean the food processor for the next steps.
  6. Or, you can use the Italian flavored bread crumbs. Put them in a large mixing bowl.
  7. Clean, peel and coarsely chop the carrot. Put it in the food processor.
  8. Clean and coarsley chop the celery. Add it to the food processor.
  9. Wash the parsley and add it to the food processor.
  10. Coarsely chop the yellow onion and add it to the food processor.
  11. Add the stems from the portabellos.
  12. Now, process the ingredients in the food processor until they are finely chopped.
  13. Place the entire mixture into a fine sieve and let the juice drain out for a few minutes. Be sure to place a bowl under the sieve to catch the juices which will be added to the sauce later.
  14. If you are using a grill, bring the temperature to medium high and set the portabello with the gills down. Leave it grilling on that side just until you start to see some juice escaping. Turn the mushrooms so the cap side is now cooking. The order of grilling is crucial because you want the juice to be trapped inside the cap of the mushroom. Continue grilling for a few more minutes. Remove and let them cool slightly. Don't want to grill, use a nonstick heavy bottom frying pan and coat the bottom with olive oil. Heat it on medium high and when the oil begins to shimmer, set the portabellos with gills down and proceed as in the grilling version. Cut them into strips and put them in the food processor. Grind them down until it is like a coarse puree.
  15. Save any juices that may have escaped from the mushrooms and add to the bowl with the other collected juices.
  16. To the bread crumbs, add the carrot, celery, onion mixture and incorporated into the bread crumbs. This is important because any excess liquid will be absorbed by the crumbs and will make the meatballs tender and juicy.
  17. Next add the turkey and thoroughly mix in.
  18. Add the salt, garlic and onion powder. Mix them in.
  19. Add the grilled portabello puree and mix thoroughly.
  20. Put the cornmeal in a shallow dish.
  21. To form the meatballs, I like to use a small metal ice cream scoop which has about 1 inch diameter. If you like big meatballs, then use a larger scoop or just form into bigger balls. Scoop the mixture with the scoop and roll it to form a nice ball.
  22. Roll the ball in the cornmeal and set aside on a dish. If you are making the entire quantity, it will yield about 55-60 meatballs. Otherwise, form about 30 balls and save the rest of mixture for the Salisbury dish.
  23. Add all collected juices to the stock and set aside.
  24. Using a large deep skillet, coat the bottom with a generous amount of olive oil. Heat on medium, until the oil is hot and carefully add the meatballs one at a time.
  25. Brown the meatballs on all sides. It should take a couple of minutes per turn. For larger meatballs, it will take a little longer to brown. Once in a while, pick the entire pot and swirl the meatballs around to ensure that they are not sticking to the bottom of the pot and are browning evenly.
  26. Gently push some of the meatballs aside and add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until just wilted. Add the minced parsley and garlic. You will have to move the garlic around so that it doesn't burn.
  27. Turn the heat down to low and add the wine. Pick up the pan and swirl the contents around. The wine will have cooked down almost immediately. You should have a dense slurry of a sauce.
  28. Add the mixed stock to the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes. The sauce will be a thick and rich consistancy at this point. The thickening agent is the cornmeal that was used to coat the meatballs.
  29. Serve with rice or another favorite side.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Light and Fresh Spinach Salad

Light and Fresh Spinach Salad

This tangy salad makes a great offset for fish and meat dishes. It is a welcome change from lettuce salads and is rich in iron and other nutrients. If you want to make a meal out of it, just add some fresh bread and make a larger quantity of salad, or combine it with Lizabetti's hearty chicken soup or mushroom beef barley soup for a healthy and satisfying meal.



  • 3 cups of fresh spinach or baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup of crumbled gorganzola cheese
  • 1 tbsp of toasted pine nuts
  • 1-2 pieces of crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 thinly slices of red onion
  • 6 cherry tomatoes (optional)


  • the juice of one lime or lemon (will probably measure to less than a 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp of dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c of first press olive oil
  • salt and pepper



  1. In a small mixing bowl, squeeze all the juice out of the lime.
  2. Add the mustard and wisk it into the lime juice.
  3. Slowly drizzle the olive oil whiling wisking it into the lime juice
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Trim spinach if necessary.
  2. Soak and wash spinach, making sure that all the dirt has been thoroughly removed. The best method is to soak the spinach in cold water for a few minutes. Repeat this at least twice.
  3. Spin the spinach dry. Plate the spinach in individual plates or in a large salad bowl.
  4. If the pine nuts are raw, roast them in a toaster oven at 350F until golden brown . You know they are ready when you can smell the fragrance of the pine nuts or about 5 minutes. No toaster oven, use a small fry pan on medium/high and brown the pine nuts. It should take just a few minutes and you need to keep the pine nuts moving constantly or they will burn and taste awful.
  5. Add pine nuts to the salad.
  6. Add the bacon and cheese.
  7. Salt and pepper.
  8. Just prior to serving, drizzle the dressing over the entire salad and toss. Will serve 2-3 people.
  9. Serve before or after the main course.

Variations to the salad

The spinach salad as described above is tasty and a healthy change to your typical salad. You can also change it up and add other ingredients. A tasty addition is grilled portabello mushroom. To prepare the portabello, clean it of any visible dirt and trim the stem down. Drizzle it with olive oil. Slather it with about 1 tbsp of minced garlic. Salt and pepper it to taste. Set it aside to marinade for about 30 minutes. Grill it at medium heat or 375F for about 5 minutes on each side. Slice it into about 6 pieces and added to your salad.

You can also thinly sliced cremini mushrooms. You don't need many, about 2 mushroom per person.

This salad is also great prepared with the mesclyn mix greens.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Fool Medamis - Egyptian Style Fava Beans

This nutritious vegetarian dish is the most common meal eaten in Egypt on a daily basis. Most Egyptians eat fava beans as the main course for at least one meal per day. The versatility of the bean makes it good for breakfast with eggs, or spicy for supper.

The beans have a delicious full body taste and leaves you completely satisfied. Fava beans are very high in protein and make an excellent meat substitute, while being one of the most flavorful foods known to man, or woman.

In Egypt it is common to purchase ready made fava bean sandwiches at small traditional restaurants. Yes, fava beans are the original fast food. The same corner stands sell felafel sandwiches, which are also a nutritious vegetarian meal.

Fava beans are commonly eaten with bread. Some people like to scoop them up with small pieces of Syrian bread, while others prefer to eat them in a sandwich. I prefer the sandwich version because it allows me to combine all the tastes of the vegetables and sauces in one package.

I like to serve the fava beans as pictured below with a nice assortment of fresh vegetables and a Tahina Bakdoonisiya , which is a sesame parsley dipping sauce. I published the recipe for the Tahina separately. You can also serve it with hommus for a more substantial alternative.

Medamis is the past tense of the process that the beans are cooked with. They are slow cooked over very low heat. However, you will not need to do this since the great thing about fava beans is that the canned variety is very good. At a later date I will show you how to make them from dry beans, but this recipe assumes that you use canned beans. The canned beans are convenient, economical, and taste very good.

Serves : 4 People along with the side dishes and bread.

  • 1 16 ounce can of fava beans. I find both Cedar and Sahadi brands to have authentic flavor and good quality.
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley and/or cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian or Ethiopian Paprica
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 Large Lime
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Side Dishes:
  • 1 ripe tomato, slices
  • 1 Armenian cucumber
  • 6 oz of fresh arugula
  • 6-10 radishes
  • Tahina Bakdoonisiya Dipping Sauce
  • 4 loaves of Syrian bread or fresh baked French bread
  • Feta Cheese (optional)

  1. Finely chop the parsley and slice the green onion
  2. Place the beans in a saucepan, add the paprika and 3/4 of the garlic.
  3. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.
  4. Use a colander to drain the beans.
  5. Place the beans in a mixing bowl. Add the scallions, parsley, cumin coriander and the rest of the garlic. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Add the juice of one large fresh lime.
    • Hint : press the lime down on the counter with your hand and roll back and forth. this will make it easier to squeeze and gets more juice.
  7. Add the olive oil. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Serve in an attractive dish with the vegetables, Tahina dip and bread.

Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Tahina Bakdoonisiya - Egyptian Sesame-Parsley Dipping Sauce.

This dip is based on Tahini, a Middle Eastern seasame seed sauce. You may have tasted tahini in Hommus or Baba Ghanouj, which are dips. Bakdoonisiya can also be considered a dip, but it is more of a condiment. You can buy tahini in most grocery stores now, and it is available in any Middle Eastern market.

Bakdoonisiya is commonly eaten with fava beans, falafel, shawirma, and shish kebab. The nutty, tangy flavor is one of my favorite tastes and I can eat it simply as a bread dip. You can also dip vegetables in it, serve it with meats, or use it as a salad dressing. It is also nice to have it as an hors devours with fresh vegetables and bread.

  • 2 tablespoons tahini Middle Eastern sesame seed sauce.
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 large, juicy lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3-4 tablespoon water
  • 1 drizzle extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian or Ethiopian paprika

  • Scallions
  • Ripe Red Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Cucumbers
  • Syrian Bread

  1. Place the tahini in a bowl, mix in 1 teaspoon of water, squeeze in some of the lime. Stir thoroughly.
  2. Repeat this process until you have a smooth liquid with the consistency of a milk shake. You should use up all the lime and most of the water.
  3. Mix in the parsley and salt.
  4. Sprinkle paprika over the top and drizzle with olive oil.

Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 22, 2008


This recipe was courtesy of one my son's high school teacher. It was part of a listening exercise, good thing the child was listening that day. Mr. Green, my son's teacher is a firm believer that the world is always a little better with fudge. Enjoy this quick and easy recipe. Thank you Mr. Green.


  • 16 oz of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1tbsp of butter
  • 1tsp of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of nuts or mini marshmallows (optional)


  1. Pour condensed milk into a medium size pan and heat on medium heat until hot. Stir constantly.
  2. Once hot, turn off heat do not remove from burner. Add butter and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add a 1/4 of chocolate chips at at time while stir constantly. If you add all the chips at once, it will cool the mixture too much and make it harder to melt the chips. Continue stirring until all the chips have melted. The mixture will look like brownie mix.
  4. Stir nuts or other goodies, if you are using them.
  5. Line a square baking pan such as 8x8 or 9x9. Be sure to line the pan with parchment paper that has at least 3 inches extra on 2 sides. The extra paper will make removing fudge from the pan a lot easier. If you don't have parchment paper, wax paper will also work.
  6. Cool for at least 2 hours. I like to cool the fudge at room temperature, it makes it easier to cut.
  7. When ready to serve, pull the fudge out of pan using the edges of the parchment paper.
  8. Cut into squares using a sharp knife.
  9. Store in an air tight container, may be refrigerated. When serving, let the fudge come to room temperature.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mediterranian Dry Rub

Mediterranean Dry Rub

Dry rubs are a great way to pre-treat meats prior to grilling, frying, or baking. Made from a combination of spices, this mixture captures the essence of Mediterranean flavor. The taste will remind you of foods from Egypt, Lebanon, or Greece.

I usually prep steaks or lamb chops one day prior to grilling. This works great with pork ribs as well.

I used this spice mixture to flavor the meat in my Stuffed Grape Leaves and to prep the lamb in my Spring Grilled Feast. You can make a jar of this in advance and store it indefinitely. Then you can use it to give a Mediterranean taste to any dish.

  • 1/2 Cup Dry Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons Hungarian Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon ground coriander
  1. Force the oregano through a strainer with a spoon to grind it extra fine. This will release the flavor and aroma.
  2. Mix all the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Use on meats, in soups, or to make yogurt dip.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chewy, Gooey Carmelitas

This dessert combines chocolate, carmel and oatmeal for a great tasting snack. It is also a great source of fiber. My kids prefer this chewy treat over brownies or cookies.



  • 2 c of flour
  • 2 c of quick oats
  • 1 1/2 c of firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/4 c of butter (2 1/2 sticks)


  • 1 container of butterstoch-caramel topping
  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • 1 c of chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c of coarsely chopped nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease 13 x 9 pan.
  3. Mix all crust ingredients. Use a fork or hand pastry blender until the crust is crumbly.
  4. Press 1/2 or about 3 c into the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 10 min.
  5. Open the caramel jar and carefully incorporate the flour a tablespoon at a time.
  6. Remove baked crust from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts evenly.
  7. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the chips and nuts.
  8. Sprinkle the rest of the crust mixture on top. Press the top gently.
  9. Bake about 18-22 minutes until it is golden brown.
  10. Cool and then refrigerate for about 1-2 hours.
  11. Using a spatula, run it along the edges of the pan to unstick the carmelita.
  12. Using wax paper remove from the pan and turn over onto a cutting board and cut with a very sharp knife.
  13. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Smooth and Satisfying Lentil Soup

This is a completely vegetarian dish with no eggs or dairy products, yet it has a hearty and satisfying taste and texture. The secret is the lentils themselves which are an excellent source of protein and have a rich flavor.

When I was little my grandmother would make this dish for my grandfather and I in the winter time. We had it with toasted bread and a squeeze of lime to bring out the flavor. It was a complete supper and left us sleepy and satisfied.

This dish is also a great way to use up your not so new vegetables. I use the day old tomatoes, slightly wilted celery, yesterday's cut-up onion, etc. The quantities of ingredients don't need to be exact, so use what you have. I give the quantities that work for me.

I used a crock pot to cook my soup, but you can certainly cook it on low heat on top of the stove.

This recipe makes enough to serve 4 people as a meal, or 6-8 people as a starter dish.

  • 1 Cup Red Lentils
  • 1-2 Large tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes, or a combination. Diced.

  • 1 stalk of celery, sliced. Use the leaves too, they add flavor.

  • 1 carrot peeled and sliced.
  • 1-2 onions, chopped. I used a mixture of red and white onions because I had some left over from another meal.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely sliced.
  • a handful of fresh parsley, and/or cilantro. I love both, but some people prefer one over the other.
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt.
  • 3 cups of water.
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns. Use less or omit if you don't want it spicy.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin.
  • 1 pinch ground coriander.

  1. Rinse the lentils and place in a crock pot.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix.
  3. Add the spices and the water, stir thoroughly.
  4. Cover the crock pot and set on medium or high heat . If you are using a stove, use low heat (electric setting 3).
  5. I like to cover the crock pot with a glass bowl over the cover to increase the insulation. This will make it cook slightly hotter.

  6. Cook for about 5-6 hours, or until all the vegetables are tender.
  7. Puree with a hand blender, or pour into a blender and puree.
  8. If using a hand blender, you may get tomato skins caught in your blender. This is not a problem, but you may want to clean them off periodically as it will make blending faster. I usually just dump the peels back into the soup and chop them up.
  9. After you are done blending, stir and taste the soup for final spice adjustments.
  10. Keep the soup on low heat for another 5 minutes to rest.
  11. Serve with toasted garlic bread, limes, and throw a pinch of chopped parsley on each serving for extra panache.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Quick and Easy Chicken Cordon Blue

This is a quick and fast dish that you can have done in about an hour. This dish gives a feeling of gourmet dining without too much trouble. It is also easy to make this dish for a large number of people because you can simply add 1 breast for each two people. Make side dishes of red rice and broccoli florets and you have a complete meal. The amount pictured here feeds 4 hungry people with left-overs. River likes to slice the left-over chicken and take sandwiches to work.
  • 2-3 boneless and skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 slices of thinly sliced smoked or Virginia ham per chicken breast
  • sharp Swiss cheese
  • tooth picks

  1. Place each chicken breast between plastic wrap and using a meat pounder, pound the chicken until thin, about 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Salt and pepper and season the chicken with the garlic and paprika.
  3. Drizzle enough olive oil to give the chicken a nice sheen. Set aside to marinade for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F.
  5. Take one of the chicken and lay it flat on a plate.

  6. Cover the chicken with either shredded Swiss cheese or cheese that has been thinly sliced with a cheese slicer.
  7. Next, cover the cheese with the ham. It may take 1-2 slices of the ham.
  8. Cover with another thin layer of the cheese.
  9. Careful take one of the edges and start to roll the layers. You can use your fingers or a fork to help the process along.
  10. Once you have a roll, carefully place 1-2 toothpicks through all the layers so that the chicken will stay rolled. It doesn't have to be a tight or perfect roll.
  11. Brush the bottom of the oven proof dish with a little olive oil and place the rolls in it.

  12. Bake for about 20 minutes. The chicken will look opaque and you should see some clear juices flowing.
  13. Remove from the oven and add a layer of cheese to the top.
  14. Return to the oven and set the oven for broil. Don't put the container too close to the heating element because the cheese will splatter some. Broil for about 3 minutes or until the cheese is a golden brown.
  15. Turn the oven off and set the chicken on a platter to rest for about 10 minutes. This will help all the flavors to get mingled together.
  16. Serve with rice and veggies.
Copyright © 2007, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quick Country Omelet

Quick Country Omelet
This is a favorite of my kids. It is a quick and easy fare to make and can be served any time of the day. The onion is a very important ingredient. It adds a lot of flavor to the omelet. Serve it with a slice of country bread and fruit. Big kids love it too.
INGREDIENTS ( serves 2)
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 medium size Yukon gold potato
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 c of canola oil

  1. Scramble the eggs and set aside.
  2. Wash the potato and coarsely chop it into small bite size pieces.
  3. Coarsely chop the onion.
  4. Heat the oil in a medium size skillet over medium/high heat. When the oil is hot, careful add the potato.
  5. Cook the potato until all the sides are a golden brown. Stir frequently to ensure the potato doesn't burn.
  6. Add the chopped onion and cook until the edges start to brown. The onion will be very fragrant.
  7. Pour off the excess oil. Turn the heat down to medium/low.
  8. Carefully fold the scrambled eggs, making sure they cover the potatoes and onions.
  9. Once the eggs set, turn the omelet over and finish cooking
Copyright © 2007, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Last Minute Sweetheart Cake

So its the night before Valentine's Day and you need to come up with a scrumptious dessert. Don't panic, you can make this cake from start to finish in less than 2 hours. It really only takes about 45 minutes of work, but we have to take into account the time for the cake to cool enough so that it can be decorated.

  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix or any flavor you enjoy
  • 1 large container of white fluff frosting
  • 1 container of chocolate frosting
  • red gel food tint
  • a few fresh strawberries cut in half
  • white chocolate block (optional)


  1. Line the bottom of two 9 inch pans with parchment paper. This will ensure that the cakes will slip out of the pans easily.
  2. Mix and bake cakes according to package instructions. Cool and remove the cakes from the pan.
  3. Peel the parchment paper and place one of the cakes on a platter.
  4. Stir the chocolate frosting and frost the top of the first cake. Don't frost all the way to the edge of the cake. Leave about a 1/2 gap.
  5. Taking a vegetable peeler or cheese slicer, peel enough off the white chocolate to sprinkle over the chocolate frosting.
  6. Place the second cake on top of the first, making sure the edges are fairly even.
  7. Stir the white fluff frosting and take about 1/2 of the container and tint it with red gel to a bright pink color. You can use the red food coloring, if you don't have the food gel. Be careful when adding the coloring, start with a little and add a bit more until you get a tone you like.
  8. Frost the sides with the bright pink frosting. Make sure you don't frost over to the top. Using a spatula, create pretty swirls with the flat part of the spatula.
  9. Frost the top with the white frosting.
  10. With the left over pink and white frosting, combine them to create a soft pink color.
  11. If you have a piping tip, use it to decorate the edge of the cake and add a few decorations to the bottom of the cake. This will soften the look of the cake and make it really eye appealing.
  12. If you don't have a tip, just cut a small hole in a zip-lock bag and put the soft pink frosting in it. Zip it and squeeze the frosting toward the hole. Pipe the frosting out and decorate the cake.
  13. Add the strawberry halves to the center of the cake. Enjoy. Seems like a lot of steps, but it really is very easy and the finished work is scrumptious.

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Chocolate Delights for Your Heart Throb

These quick and easy desserts are OK anytime. Enjoy them with your significant other, or just chow them yourself.

Chocolate covered delights


  • 1lb of chocolate block or chunks
  • hazelnuts or macadamia nuts finely chopped
  • fruits and pretzels


  1. If needed wash your fruit and pat them dry.
  2. Use a double boiler if you have one. Or, fill a medium size pan with water and place a glass bowl over the water. The bowl has to be large enough not to sink into the water.
  3. On low heat, gently melt the chocolate chunks. It is important to stir frequently.
  4. Remove from the heat and gently roll your goodies in the melted chocolate.
  5. Sprinkle with nuts and place on a wax paper covered cookie sheet to set. You can put them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate.
  6. Plate your goodies and enjoy.

Very, very chocolatey krispies delights

This is the chocolate lovers version of this popular treat.


  • 1 bag of mini marshmallows (this works best)
  • 6 c of cocoa krispies
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • 4-6 oz of melted chocolate block or chunks


  1. Using a nonstick large pot, melt the butter on low/medium heat.
  2. Add the mini marshmallows and stir until completed melted.
  3. Add the melted chocolate and incorporate into the melted marshmallows.
  4. Turn the heat off and add the cocoa krispies. Coat the krispies evenly with the melted mix.
  5. Cover the bottom of a 13X9 pan with parchment paper, leaving about 2 extra inches on both short sides.
  6. Using another piece of parchment paper, press the mixture into the pan.
  7. Drizzle any leftover melted chocolate on the top and leave it to cool for about 1 hour
  8. With the excess parchment, lift the krispies out of the pan and using a sharp knife cut into serving portions.
  9. For a more festive look, use medium size cookie cutters and cut shapes out of the krispies.
  10. Keep in an air tight container. Will keep for about 3 days.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Honey Stung Chicken Breast Satay

This is a sweetheart of a dish sure to be loved by kids. First, its on a stick. Second, it is lightly sweetened with honey. Moms will love it because it is grilled, so its low fat and healthy. So kids eat up. Adults like it too and you can always change up the marinade to suit a more adult palate.

This is a great quick and easy dish or appetizer to enjoy with your Valentine. Short cooking time and great taste make for a memorable evening.

  • 3-4 boneless and skinless chicken breast or you can use chicken tender, about a 1lb.
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 2 tsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • wooden sticks, that have been soaked in water for at least 15 minutes


  1. Remove any visible fat and rinse the chicken breast.
  2. With a sharp knife, cut the chicken breast into thin, about 1/2 inch long strips. Each breast should give you about 5 strip
  3. Place the paprika, garlic, honey, salt and pepper in a container which can be covered and mix together.
  4. Add the chicken strips and coat them thoroughly with the mixture.
  5. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken until it is all coated.
  6. Let the chicken marinade for at least 30 minutes. The longer it marinades, the tastier it will be. It can be left overnight.
  7. At this point you can make an extra batch to freeze so you can have a quick and fast meal anytime. Freezing the portions flat will ensure that the defrosting process is quick. You could probably have it ready to put on the grill in less than 2 hours.
  8. Using an electric grill, set the cooking temperature to about 350F. When the grill is hot, coat the surface with olive oil. You can use a silicone brush to spread the olive oil evenly over the surface.
  9. Skewer each chicken strip on to the wooden stick. Make sure that the strips are fairly flat which will make grilling a much easier task.
  10. Place each skewered chicken on to the hot grill and cook each side about 5-7 minutes. You will know its time to flip it when you see that the edges are beginning to lose its translucent look.
  11. Serve with red rice and veggies. Makes it a healthy, quick complete meal.
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Friday, February 8, 2008

Boeuf au Champignon (Beef with Mushrooms)

Pronounced Shamp-Pin-Neon. This satisfying dish helps take the bite out of a winter night. It is also great re-heated as or taken in a thermos for a hot work day lunch.


  • 1.5 lbs of lean beef cubed
  • 12 oz of mushrooms (cremini or white)
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 2.5 cups of red wine
  • 1.5 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp of dried oregano
  • black pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 6 oz of skim milk
  • 1 tbsp of flour
  • 1 cup of low fat sour cream (optional)


  1. Pat dry the beef.
  2. Coat bottom of a saute pan with oil olive and heat on medium.
  3. Add beef when oil is hot, just shimmery. Brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side.
  4. Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add a little more oil and saute mushrooms until lightly brown, about 6 minutes.
  6. Add the onion and saute until wilted.
  7. Stir in browned beef with any juices that have formed.
  8. Add garlic, paprika and salt. Cook until garlic is fragrant.
  9. Add the wine and turn up the heat until the wine begins to simmer hard.
  10. Continue to stir the contents periodically and let it all gently simmer for about 5 minutes.
  11. Turn the heat down and simmer gently until the meat is tender, 2 hours or so. Cooking time will depend on beef used.
  12. While the beef is simmering, using a 1 cup mason jar, pour milk and add flour. Cover and shake vigorously until the flour has incorporated into the milk.
  13. Turn the heat up and slowly pour the liquid into the pan. Continuing stirring until the liquid has fully incorporated into the dish.
  14. Continue to cook at the higher temperature for about 5 minutes. Do not let the contents boil, a light simmer.
  15. When the sauce has thickened, the sour cream can be incorporated which will added richness to the sauce.
  16. Taste and add more salt if need. Added freshly ground pepper to taste.
Can be served over wide noodles or with rice and green salad.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Year of the Rat

Enjoy our suggested Chinese New Year Dishes all grouped on one page.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008



Its cold, windy and nothing warms you like a hot bowl of soup. I use the different types of mushrooms because they all have different and rich flavors that make the soup really tasty. If you don't have all these mushrooms on hand, then just use what you have. The dried shittake mushrooms will add a lot of flavor to the soup, so if you can don't do without. You can substitute onions for leeks. While, I use beef in the soup, this is one soup that can be made totally vegetarian and still be very hearty and tasty. I would increase the amount of portabello mushrooms since they have rich meaty taste that can fool the most discerning of meat taste buds. Use a vegetable stock instead of beef.


  • 8oz of lean beef
  • 10 medium size dried shittake mushrooms.
  • 3 cups of sliced portabello, crimini and white mushrooms
  • 1 cup of thinly sliced celery including the tops
  • 1 cup of thinly sliced leeks
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp of minced parsley
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 6 cups of beef stock
  • 3/4 cup of barley
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 1 pat of butter (optional)


  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in the stock until they are soft which should be about 30 minutes or so.Squeeze the stock out of the mushrooms and slice the mushrooms thinly.
  2. Cut the beef into small bite size and pat dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper the meat.Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and heat until oil begins to shimmer
  3. Place beef in the pot and sear all sides, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
  4. Coat the bottom of pot with olive oil and add pat of butter. When the oil start to shimmer and butter is melted, add mushrooms except for the shittake and saute until wilted.
  5. Add the leeks and garlic and saute until they are fragrant and wilted.
  6. Add the shittake mushrooms and saute for a few minutes.
  7. Add parsley and salt, continue to cook for a few minutes.
  8. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the beef stock and simmer until beef is tender, about 1 hour.
  10. Add the barley and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

Serve with sandwich, salad or thick slice of rustic bread. When you re-heat the soup, you may need to add additional stock as the barley will continue to soak up some of the liquid in the soup.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Superbowl Game Day Brunch : Pastrami Hash

This earthy dish will help you fortify for the big game. Let's face it, you don't want to just start eating at game time. You need to take it one meal at a time leading up to kick-off. Nothing helps you prep your stomach for the extravaganza ahead like a nice pastrami hash.

  • 1 Large Egg
  • 4 Oz Lean Shaved Pastrami
  • 1 Medium Potato
  • 4 Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 of a red onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs Olive oil
  • 1 pat of butter
  • 2 Oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded.

  1. Wash and dry the potato. No need to peel it.
  2. Shred the potato with a cheese grater, place in a colander and sprinkle with sea salt. Let stand for about 15 minutes to lose its water.
  3. Pre-heat a fry pan over medium high heat, add a thin layer of olive oil. Let the oil get hot.
  4. Blot the potatoes with a paper towel and add to the hot oil.
  5. Stir the potatoes thoroughly as they cook. Fry to a golden brown. Remove from the fire and set aside.
  6. Fry the chopped onion to a golden brown.
  7. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are moist, set aside with the potatoes.
  8. Chop the pastrami and add to the hot fry pan, cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
  9. Throw the potatoes, onions and mushrooms in with the pastrami. Mix thoroughly.
  10. Add half the cheese and mix in.
  11. Place the mixture on a plate and cover with a pot lid.
  12. Fry the egg in the butter sunny side up.
  13. Coarse Grid fresh black pepper over the egg while it is cooking. Top it with the rest of the cheese.
  14. Remove the egg from the pan with a spatula and lay over the hash mixture.
  15. Serve with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. You need some anti-oxidants with this meal.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Superbowl Munchies : Quick and Easy Piggies in a Blanket

Let's gat back to basics. Piggies are the ultimate party food and you just can't stop eating them. I have not seen them much in parties this century, but back in the 1960's these snacks were king.

I use Italian bread crumbs instead of flour when I roll our the dough. This add extra zing to the taste and complements the taste of the wieners nicely. You can also use smoked sausage links.

The great thing about piggies is that you can eat them hot, luke warm, or room temperature. They also go great in your lunch box if you should have any leftovers. At least once a month I make these for my son to take to school for lunch.

  • 1 lb ball of pizza dough, available in any grocery store
  • 1/2 cup of Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 package of mini weaners or mini smoked sausage links for more flavor

  1. Spread bread crumbs on your bread board to kee the dough from sticking
  2. Punch the dough down with your fingers, then roll it out with a rolling pin. Continue rolling until the dough is no more than 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Cut the dough into long inch wide strips.
  4. Roll each wiener in 1 layer of dough. Moisten the dough with a few drops of water along the seam to seal.
  5. Place rolled piggies on an oiled cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 350o for 30 minutes.
  7. Serve with Dijon Mustard for dipping.

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