A Special Holiday Buffet

I thought it would be fun to share some appetizers that are traditional in New Orleans.  These dishes would be a great addition to your holiday parties.  They are simple, tasty and perfect for the next round of festivities.  The roast tenderloin and baby new potatoes are personal favorites that will go with the Creole dishes perfectly!  Don’t forget your favorite cocktails, wine and a big bottle of  bubbly!

Pickled Shrimp*

Spicy Pecans*

Baby New Potatoes with Creme Fraiche, Caviar and Fresh Chives

Roast Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce

Chilled Crab Legs with Ravigote Sauce*

pickled shrimp

Pickled Shrimp*

Deliciously piquant, these shrimp make the perfect hostess gift when presented in a mason jar, a great appetizer of try tossing them in a crisp green salad.

1 medium red onion, in small dice

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced ( included green ends)

1 cup chopped fresh parsley (flat leaf)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup Creole mustard or other coarse mustard

2 tablespoons sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3/4 cup cane, malt or cider vinegar

1 1/4 cups extra virgin-olive oil

2 bay leaves

3 pounds medium to large shrimp, boiled (peeled, deveined, tails on)

Combine the red onion, green onion, parlsey, crushed red pepper, garlic, mustard, and sugar in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper.  Add the vinegar, and whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream until the marinade emulsifies.  Add the bay leaves and adjust the salt and pepper.  Add shrimp and stir.  Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.  This will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

spicy pecans

Spicy Pecans*

These are great to keep on hand throughout the holidays!  I KNOW you can’t eat just one!

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)

1/4 cup honey

 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/2 pound pecan halved

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the honey, salt, and cayenne pepper, bring the mixture to a boil, and cook for 1 minute, stirring.  Remove from the heat, and add the pecans to the honey mixture.  Stir to mix well.  Spread the coasted pecans on a sheet pan, and bake in the pre heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, possibly more often toward the end.  Serve when cooled, first separating any pecans that stick together.  Store in an airtight container.

caviar potato6_thumb[16]

Baby New Potatoes with Creme Fraiche, Caviar and Fresh Chives

2 pounds small new potatoes, halved and steamed until just tender

1 cup sour cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 small jar caviar

1 bunch chives, finely chopped

Coarse sea salt

Take the cooked potatoes and scoop the middle out with a small melon baller.  Mix the heavy cream and sour cream to make creme fraiche.  Place a spoon full of this mixture into each cavity of the potato halves.  Place 1/4 teaspoon of caviar (your choice of quality and type) on the creme fraiche and sprinkle with chopped chives.  Sprinkle the finished, stuffed potato halves with coarse sea salt and serve on a platter.


Roast Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce

1 3-4 pound beef tenderloin

6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

Coarse Sea Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons good olive

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Cut small slits along the length of the tenderloin and insert half of a garlic clove.  Rub the entire tenderloin with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Place the tenderloin in a long metal baking pan and sear on all sides until browned.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and roast the tenderloin for about 45 minutes, for medium rare, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reaches your desired doneness.  Slice 1/2 inch thick slices and place on a serving platter.

Horseradish Sauce:

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons good horseradis

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Mix all ingredients and serve in a small crystal bowl on the meat platter.


Chilled Crab Legs with Ravigote Sauce*

This is one of my all times favorites.  Commander’s Palace is famous for their Ravigote Sauce.  Chef Jaime shares this and the other recipes I’ve included in this post that have an asterisk (*) by them.  This is simple and so delicious!

5 pounds snow crab legs

Crab boil seasoning (I use Zatarain’s)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the crab boil seasoning and then the crab legs.  Boil, covered for about 15 minutes.  Remove the legs and chill until ready to serve.

Ravigote Sauce

1 cup Creole Mayonnaise (recipe below)

1/2 cup Creole mustard or coarse-ground German mustard

1 tablespoons capers, drained and coarsely chopped

1 medium egg, hard-cooked and diced small

1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 green onions, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, capers, egg, and horseradish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Fold in the green onions.  Cover and refrigerate.  It will keep for a few weeks.

Creole Mayonnaise

1 medium egg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 medium white onion, diced

2 1/4 cups vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt to taste

Place the egg, lemon juice, and onion into the bowl of a food processor and puree.  With the motor running, slowly add half the oil.  Then add the hot sauce, pepper, and salt.  Stop the motor, scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and, with the motor running again, slowly add the remaining oil.  Taste and adjust salt.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator for a week.

Autumn Appetite!

The weather is still up and down with warm days and somewhat cooler evenings.  Summer food doesn’t appeal any longer!  I’m sharing a menu that I think of as transitional, it’s easy and so delicious.  Whether you are entertaining or serving a Sunday dinner to your family, I think this fits the bill!  Enjoy and bon apetit!

Endive Spears with Herb Goat Cheese

 Chicken with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Capers over Quinoa Spaghetti

Fresh Asparagus with Lemon Butter

Plum Torte

White Bordeaux


Endive Spears with Herb Goat Cheese

2 heads of endive, washed and separated into spears

1 small log goat cheese

2 tablespoons chopped, flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives

1 teaspoon minced, fresh garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the endive spears, wash them and separate the spears, then place them on a plate.  Let the goat cheese come to room temperature.  Mash with a fork, adding the fresh herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.  Place one teaspoon on the end of each endive spear.  Arrange on a serving plate, that’s it!  Quick, delicious and not too fattening either!

chicken with pasta and veggies

Chicken with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Capers over Quinoa Spaghetti

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

1 box cherry tomatoes

1 cup pitted olives (I get an assortment from the bin at Harris Teeter where you can choose from different varieties)

2 tablespoons capers, drained

2 cloves garlic minced

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped, flat leaf parsley

Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry.  Place the olive oil in a large skillet, bring to medium heat.  Brown the chicken breasts well on both sides, remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a plate.  Add the white wine over high heat to deglaze the drippings from the chicken, let reduce by about 1/4.   Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about ten minutes.  Return the chicken to the skillet, spooning the sauce over it and cook for another 20 minutes on low heat.  Serve over pasta with asparagus on the side.

Fresh Asparagus with Lemon Butter

1 bunch fresh asparagus, wash well and snap an inch or so off of the bottom of each spear

1/4 chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about two lemons and zest from one lemon

Steam the cleaned asparagus in the chicken broth for about seven minutes, until “just tender”, add the butter, lemon juice and zest, tossing well.  Serve on the side with the chicken and pasta.

plum torte

Plum Torte

(Thanks to www.forgoodnesstaste.com for the lovely photo and recipe)

1/2 c butter

1/2 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp. plus 1/2 tsp. almond or lemon extract)

1 c flour 1 tsp. baking powder (aluminum free)

1/4 tsp. salt

Topping: 1/2 c. sugar + 1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375º.  Butter an 8×8 pan.  Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla (and almond or lemon extract).  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Add it in all at once and just mix until combined.  Don’t overmix or your batter will be tough!  (Mixing builds gluten which you want in bread, but not in pastry!)  Spread in the bottom of your buttered pan.

Place the plum halves into the batter by laying them on top, skin sides down, and pressing gently to “set them” in the batter.  Then spread the topping over the top of it all.  It will look like way too much cinnamon sugar, but it isn’t!  Trust me!

Bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes until the plums have begun to give off their juice and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Finally Friday!

As we all enjoy cooler days I thought about this meal, one of my favorites!   Whether you are entertaining guests, family or having a quiet dinner for two, this is a delicious combination of courses, flavors and textures.   Come with me to foodie land and enjoy!  Here’s the menu:

Scotch Mists with a Lemon Twist

Gougere (little cheese/pastry appetizers)

Chopped French Salad with Apples, Walnuts and White Wine Vinaigrette

Pork Chops, Pan Seared with Port Wine Sauce and Served On A Bed Of Wilted Fennel and Shallots

Creme Brulee

Pinot Noir


Any cocktail will do, but somehow, a good single malt scotch poured over crushed ice with a twist of lemon just seems perfect with the Gougere appetizer.  A good Amantillado Sherry would be delicious as well.


For the Gougere*:

1 1/4 cup water
10 Tbl butter
1 tsp salt
1 c all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
1 c shredded Gruyère cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbl fresh thyme, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the water and salt.  Let it come to a rolling boil and  immediately add flour, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon.  Keep mixing until the flour absorbs all the liquid and pulls away from the sides of the pan.  You want to cook the mixture  for about 3 minutes to dry out the dough.
Put the flour mixture in to the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment.  On medium-low speed, mix for about 30 seconds to cool it a little.  Add eggs one at a time, making sure that it’s fully incorporated before adding the next.  Once the dough is all combined, it should be slightly thick, shiny and pasty, add the cheese, black pepper and thyme.
Pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet in your desired size. (Note: I have made these by simply dropping a small spoonful onto the parchment paper and it works well.)  If you want them as appetizers, pipe 1″ rounds.  For breakfast size gougères pipe the rounds about 2 1/2″.   Sprinkle grated Gruyère on top.Bake until they are puffy and nicely browned, about 25 minutes for the small ones and 35 minutes for the large ones.
*Thanks to the wonderful blog “Treats” for this delicious recipe!
french green salad
Chopped French Green Salad with Apples, Walnuts and White Wine Vinaigrette
2 heads Endive
1 head Raddichio
1 head butter lettuce
1 head frisee
2 honey crisp apples
1 cup toasted walnuts
Wash the greens and spin them dry in a salad spinner.  Loosely chop the lettuces and raddichio.  Slice the endive or, if you prefer, break the spears apart and toss whole in the salad.  Wash and core the apples.  Slice them about 1/8″ thick.  Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about five minutes, just long enough to let the oil and flavors release.  Toss the greens together and place on four chilled salad plates.  Arrange the apples on the top and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts.
White Wine Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
6 tablespoons good quality olive oil
a Big pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
Whisk the vinegar, salt and dry mustard together in a small bowl.  Continue to whisk as you add the olive oil in a steady stream.  Blend in the pepper and pour a bit over each salad.
pork loin with shallots cropped
Pork Chops with Port Wine Sauce, Served On A Bed Of Wilted Fennel and Shallots
4 bone in pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
1 cup port wine
1 bulb fennel
3 shallots
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Slice the top off of the fennel bulb and thinly slice the bulb.  Peel and slice the shallots.
fennel & shallots cropped
Place the olive oil in a heavy saute pan and heat for 3 minutes.  Add the fennel and shallots with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.  Saute for five minutes.  Remove from the heat and place the mixture in a bowl, covered with foil to keep warm.  Salt and pepper the pork chops.  Return the saute pan to the heat on medium high.  Place the pork chops in the pan and sear for five minutes, turn and repeat on the other side.  Remove the chops from the pan.  Carefully pour the port into the pan over high heat and allow to boil for one minute.  Turn the heat down and return the pork chops to the pan.  Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and let simmer very slowly for 20 minutes.  Just before serving, add the butter to the pan to incorporate into the sauce.  If needed you can had 1/2 cup chicken broth to the sauce.   To serve, place the fennel mixture on the plate and top with a pork chop.  Spoon the sauce over all and grind a generous amount of black pepper over all.  Note:  I serve this with tiny yellow potatoes that have been roasted at 425 degrees for one hour, toss them in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt before roasting.
creme brulee

Creme Brulee*

My all time favorite dessert, hands down.
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half (light cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300F. Arrange 6 custard cups in a large pan with sides at least 1 1/2 inches deep.

Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until they turn frothy and bright yellow. Slowly whisk 1/3 cup sugar, the creams, and vanilla extract into the beaten eggs. Beat the mixture for 90 seconds.

Pour the eggs and cream through a medium-mesh sieve into a large (4 cup) liquid measuring cup. Divide the mixture between 6 custard cups and fill the large pan with hot water half-way up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the custard in the hot-water bath for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the custard is set, but still moves a bit in the center when jiggled. Cool the custard in the water bath for 20 minutes, and then refrigerate them until they are chilled.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar over top of the custards and caramelize the sugar with a small, handheld kitchen torch. Serve immediately.

This classic crème brulee recipe makes 6 servings.

*Thanks to About.com:  French Food for this yummy recipe.

Simply Delicious!

As the weather cools off a bit I’ve got the “cooking bug” again!  I’m sharing one of my favorite menus with you for a light weekend dinner or lunch…or anytime you feel in the mood for comfort food!  I have been making this version of French Onion Soup for years and it is always a big hit!  It’s easy to make and so delicious, paired with a light salad, crusty bread and a full bodied Grenache wine.  I hope you’ll try it!

French Onion Soup

Salad of Mixed Greens with a Light Vinaigrette

Crusty French Bread

Berry Crisp


french onion soup

French Onion Soup

2 tbsp. butter
2 large yellow onion finely minced

1 large purple onion finely minced

4 shallots finely minced

2 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and cubed

8 cups beef or chicken broth (I have made this with vegetable broth as well…yum!)

¼ cup Madeira wine

1 bay leaf

1 tsp.  Sage Leaves, ground

Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste

8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

1 French baguette, sliced and toasted
Heat butter, add onions, shallots, apples and cook over
medium low heat until caramelized, about ½ hour. Stir in
broth, Madeira wine, bay leaf and sage. Simmer for 20
minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Fill French onion soup
crocks or other deep soup bowls with soup. Top with two
baguette slices, shredded cheese and bacon. Place under
the broiler or use a small kitchen torch to melt the cheese
until bubbly.

mixed green salad

Salad of Mixed Greens with a Light Vinaigrette

1 head red leaf lettuce

1 head butter lettuce

1 head radicchio

1 head endive

Tear the greens and toss with vinaigrette and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

Sea salt & Pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Whisk ingredients together in a bowl then toss with the salad greens.

berry crumble

Berry Crisp

1/2 cup fresh blackberries

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1 cup sliced, fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together and place in a pie pan.  Top with Crumb Topping

Crumb Topping:

6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped almonds

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mix together and spoon over the berry mixture.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour, or until browned and bubbly.

A Touch Of Spice!

I’m sharing one of my favorite weekend menus with you today.  This is perfect to serve while watching college football or for a casual Sunday dinner.  Just a bit spicy but oh so yummy!  I think you’ll love it!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Guacamole with Blue Tortilla Chips

Mexican Chocolate Pie

Cold Cerveza

tortilla soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

So simple and delicious!

2 cups shredded roast chicken (perfect for leftover
rotisserie chicken)
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno peeled, seeded and chopped (Don’t forget to
wash your hands well after handling these!)
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 can mild Rotel tomatoes or other canned tomatoes with
mild peppers
2 tsps. Sangre de Cristo Mexican Seasoning
Sangre de Cristo Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1 can hominy or posole, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. Chiptole or Tabasco sauce
10 corn tortillas cut in strips
1 bunch scallions finely chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
In a small stock pot place the olive oil, onion, garlic and
jalapeno and sauté until the onion is transparent. Add the
chicken broth, tomatoes, shredded chicken and the
Mexican Seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer
for 20 minutes. Add the posole and black beans with the
Tabasco sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Just before
serving, add the tortilla strips, otherwise they will
disintegrate. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and
garnish with chopped scallions and the cheeses. Serves 6.


Guacamole with Blue Tortilla Chips

3 ripe avocadoes

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of one lime

1 teaspoon olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste

Mash the avocado and add remaining ingredients.  Sprinkle with chopped, fresh cilantro and serve with your favorite blue tortilla chips.

mexican choc pie

Mexican Chocolate Pie

1 9 inch pie shell (I use a deep dish crust that I make from scratch, but store bought will do)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
3 1 ounce squares semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup coffee flavored liqueur, (I use Khalua)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water in a measuring cup ; let soften about five minutes.  Separate eggs, placing two whites (refrigerate remaining whites) in small bowl of electric mixer, and place the yolks in the top of a double boiler.  Let egg whites warm to room temperature.  Beat egg yolks slightly with wooden spoon.  Stir in gelatin mixture, chocolate and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Cook over hot, not boiling, water, stirring until chocolate is melted and gelatin is dissolved – about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in coffee flavored liqueur.  Turn chocolate mixture into a medium bowl, place in large bowl of ice water.  Stir occasionally until cool and consistency of unbeaten egg white – about 15 minutes.  Toast almonds:  In skillet, melt butter.  Add almonds; stir over medium heat just until golden brown.  Cool.  In a chilled bowl, whip cream until stiff;  refrigerate.  Meanwhile, with electric beater, beat egg whites just until soft peaks form when beater is slowly raised.  Gradually beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating until stiff peaks form when beater is raised.  With rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the egg whites and 1 cup whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. (Save the remaining whipped cream to garnish the finished pie.)  Turn the mixture into the shell, spreading evenly.  Refrigerate until the pis is firm – 3 hours or overnight.  Before serving chop almonds, spoon whipped cream around the edge of the pie and sprinkle with almonds.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Makes 12 servings.

Spice It Up!

It’s finally Friday and I’m featuring a favorite recipe for a casual weekend dinner.  I first made Picadillo when I found the recipe in, of all places, a Suzanne Somers diet cookbook.  It is so delicious.  I’ve served it to family and guests over the years and never had a negative response!  I’d love to know if you try it!  Pair this with a good Cabernet, some warm tortillas and perhaps a crisp green salad for a delicious meal!


Image result for picadillo


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, fionely chopped

1 large bell pepper, finely chopped

1 large can chopped tomatoes with puree

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound pork

3/4 cup good balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons capers, drained


Sour cream, chopped cilantro (fresh), shredded iceberg lettuce, a wedge of lime, shredded Montery Jack cheese, chopped scallions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and peppers.  Cook until they are brown and tender, 10 to 15 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, garlic, cumin, and coriander.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the meat.  Brown the meat, using a wooden spoon to break it into tiny pieces.

Add the balsamic vinegar and capers.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Serve in bowls with garnish of your choice.  Enjoy!

Pure Deliciousness!

For me, being a “foodie” means that I have an overwhelming amount of cookbooks and printed recipes from various on-line sites. One of my notebooks is full of recipes from so many years ago I’m not going to say but it’s around 40! I’m on a cleaning out mission as Spring arrives.  I’m sorting through, deleting, and categorizing ….making life simpler!  This recipe/menu is definitely one of our favorites and one I’m keeping!  I’m substituting Louisiana shrimp for the crab meat that is called for.  This is simple, delicious and something you can proudly serve guests!

Bronzed Red Snapper with Wild Shrimp Sauce

Sauteed String Beans with Grape Tomatoes and Almonds

Grilled Pineapple with Mascarpone and Nutella

Sauvignon Blanc


Bronzed Red Snapper with Wild Shrimp Sauce

For 2

1 Red Snapper, fileted and bones removed

1 tablespoon Zatarain’s Cajun Spice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 pound fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 teaspoon Zatarain’s Cajun Spice

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 clove garlic finely minced

a splash of heavy cream

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives

Sprinkle the fish with the cajun spice blend.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet until the oil is just smoking.  Quickly “bronze” the fish, about 3 minutes on each side.  Remove the fish from the pan and deglaze with the white wine.  Simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the shrimp, lemon juice and garlic.  Simmer until the shrimp are cooked through, about five minutes.  Add the heavy cream.  Place a fish filet on each plate and top with the shrimp sauce.  Sprinkle with fresh chives and serve.

Sauteed String Beans with Grape Tomatoes and Almonds

1/2 pound fresh string beans, ends snapped

1 handful grape tomatoes

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1 tablespoon butter

Melt the butter in a saute pan.  Add the string beans and cook over medium heat until just tender, about five minutes.  Add the tomatoes and almonds and continue to cook over low heat until the almonds have browned.  Season with pink salt and a bit of freshly ground pepper.

grilled pineapple with mascarpone and nutella lg.

Grilled Pineapple with Mascarpone and Nutella

1 whole pineapple, peeled and cored, cut into 1/2 inch slices

coconut oil spray

1 small container mascarpone cheese

1 tablespoon honey

1 jar nutella

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

Heat the grill to medium heat, spray the pineapple with coconut oil spray and grill for a couple of minutes on each side.  Mix the mascarpone with the honey and heat the nutella a bit so it will be “runny” (I do this by boiling water in a saucepan and placing the jar of nutella in the hot water for about five minutes.  Toast the hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven for about five minutes.  To assemble, place to pineapple slices on each plate.  Put a dollop of the mascarpone mixture on top and drizzle with nutella.  Sprinkle the hazelnuts on top and garnish with a fresh mint leaf if you’d like.  SO DELICIOUS!!!

Finally Friday!


It’s time to make a menu for Christmas Eve or day!  This is a wonderful selection of yummy dishes sure to please!  I hope you enjoy and have a safe and very merry celebration!

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Prunes and Shallots in a White Balsamic Reduction

Potato and Turnip Gratin

Fresh Organic Green Salad with Honey Crisp Apple and Toasted Pecans

Assorted Christmas Cookies

Bordeaux, your choice

roast pork loin resized


Roast Pork Tenderloin with Prunes and Shallots in a White Balsamic Reduction

Serves 6

1 boneless pork tenderloin

French gray sea salt and cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Sangre de Cristo Spice Company Herbes de Provence

1 cup pitted prunes

6 shallots peeled and halved, lengthwise

1/4 cup White Balsamic Vinegar with Fig Infusion (I use Alessi)

1/2 cup chicken broth

Rinse and pat the tenderloin dry.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a deep oven proof pan, preferably with a lid, heat the olive oil, sprinkle the tenderloin with salt and pepper.  Seer all sides of the meat in the heated oil.  Add the herbs, prunes, shallots vinegar and broth.  Let simmer for a couple of minutes then cover and place in the preheated oven for 1 hour.  I like to open the oven every fifteen minutes and spoon some of the juice over the meat, then replace the cover and continue cooking.  Insert a meat thermometer to insure you have a reading of 145 degrees.  Remove the meat from the oven and let it stand for about ten minutes before slicing and serving with the sauce spooned over or served on the side.

potato & turnip gratin resized


Potato and Turnip Gratin

Serves 6

This recipe is so delicious!  I used an old Bon Apetit recipe to begin then wandered off, as I always do, finding my own path with it.

2 large russet potatoes, washed

4 large turnips, peeled

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon herbes de provence

1 bayleaf

gray salt and pepper to taste

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

a dash of cayenne pepper and one of raw sugar


1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese

1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese

In a sauce pan, heat the cream, broth and remaining ingredients.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and let cook at very low heat for about 1/2 hour.  The mixture will have reduced a bit.  Pour this through a seive, into a large mixing bowl.

Slice the potatoes and turnips with a mandoline so that they are very thin.  If you are using a knife, be sure it is VERY sharp and make the slices as “paper” thin as possible.  Place the slices into the mixing bowl with the sauce then spoon out into an oblong, glass baking dish.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for one hour, with the pork, at 350 degrees.  After the hour is up, remove the foil.  Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the top and bake uncovered for another 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden.  NOTE:  You may want to begin baking this dish a half hour before the pork tenderloin.

organic greens resized

Fresh Organic Green Salad with Honey Crisp Apple and Toasted Pecans

My neighbors have the most awesome garden.  I got a very welcome phone call asking if I’d be interested in some greens they had just picked from their garden.  YES….was my reply.  I tossed the greens, after washing them and spinning them dry, with on organic Honey Crisp apple and about a cup of slice, toasted pecans.  A simple vinaigrette completed the job.  Here’s my tried and true vinaigrette recipe:

1/4 cup good olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

gray salt and pepper to task

Whisk together and pour over the salad….then toss.

christmas cookies2


Assorted Christmas Cookies

Whatever your favorites are, offer them up for dessert and make it easy on yourself!  A bit of the bubbly or a nice, strong espresso…..or both!  These are some of my favorites.

Finally Friday!

It’s Finally Friday and I’m back with a great recipe that is quick to make and oh so delicious!  When a family is moving it is easy to grab something from a fast food establishment or food market than to cook.  Add to that the fact that just after we moved here I underwent a full left knee replacement and that explains why I have not been posting about food very much.  I was concerned about gaining weight while off my feet but the opposite has happened.  I’m feeling better and more fit than I have in a very long time.  So I’m back in the kitchen, getting creative and coming up with recipes I think you’ll love!  Today’s recipe works as an easy weekend meal that even guests will love!  Pair it with a cold Corona and you’ve got it going!

black bean enchiladas 1


Black Bean Enchiladas

Makes 10 enchiladas

1 package of white corn tortillas

1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed

1 fresh, red bell pepper chopped

1 sweet onion finely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon good quality chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

2 cans “Hatches” Green Chili enchilada sauce

3 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Heat the enchilada sauce in a pot until just simmering.  Heat the olive oil in a medium size skillet over medium heat and add the onion, cooking until it is just transparent.  Add the chopped bell pepper, rinsed black beans and garlic and heat through.  Grease an oblong pyrex or other pan and pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce into the bottom and spread to cover.  Take one tortilla and dip it into the remaining sauce to soften it.  Place it in the baking dish and spoon the black bean mixture  down the middle and sprinkle with a bit of cheese.  Gently fold one side of the tortilla over the other and place seam side down in the baking dish.  Repeat this method until you have made 10 enchiladas.  Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over the top.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and back for ten more minutes, the cheese will be melted and the sauce should be bubbly around the sides.

black bean enchiladas 2

Guacamole Salsa

2 large, ripe avocados

1 bunch of scallions finely chopped, including the green ends

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro washed and chopped

juice of one fresh lime

salt and pepper to taste


Shredded Iceberg Lettuce

Sour cream


black bean enchiladas 3

To serve the enchiladas:

Place two enchiladas on each plate.  Top with shredded lettuce then guacamole salsa and sour cream.  Serve with tortilla chips if desired and don’t forget that icy cold beer!  Enjoy!

Finally Friday!


We’re going Italian today!  It’s hard to beat great Italian food.  I’m one of those make it from scratch, never use sauce out of a jar, well, almost never, kind of cooks.  This is one of my favorite “comfort” meals.  We all need one now and then!

Ice Cold Peroni Beer

Pan Fried Ravioli with Sicilian Dipping Sauce

Pork Chops Marsala

Broccoli Rapini

Angel Hair Pasta

Fresh Plum Tart




When I eat Japanese food I like to drink Kirin, Chinese calls for TsingTao, soooooo, Italian has to have Peroni!  I’m not a big beer drinker, but there are certain foods that just cry out for the crisp, cold flavor of beer.  Peroni is the perfect accompaniment to today’s appetizer!

fried ravioli


Pan Fried Ravioli with Sicilian Dipping Sauce

These are super easy to make and they always get applause.  Be sure to drain the ravioli well on paper toweling before serving.

1 package wonton wrappers

1 cup low fat ricotta cheese

1/4 chopped, fresh basil

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic, finely minced

Mix the cheeses and herbs together.  Take one wrapper, top with a spoonful of cheese mixture and then with another wrapper.  Moisten the edges and crimp with a pastry wheel if you desire.  Heat 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a small saute pan and add “ravioli”, one at a time, until golden brown on both sides.  Sprinkle the finished ravioli’s with parmesan cheese and garnish with a fresh basil sprig.

Sicilian Dipping Sauce

1 cup finely chopped, plum tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix all ingredients and let stand at room temperature for up to one hour.  Serve in a bowl on a platter surrounded with the ravioli.

Chef Chuck's Italian Pan Fried Pork Chops03

Photo by Chef Chuck

Pork Chops Marsala

4 bone in pork chops

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 shallot, finely chopped

1/4 cup marsala wine

1/4 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons capers

1/4 cup fresh sage leaves

1 tablespoon raw sugar

sea salt and pepper to taste

Salt and pepper the chops.  Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the chops and brown on both sides, about three minutes each.  Remove the chops and add the marsala to the pan, then the garlic and shallot.  Place the chops back in the pan and add the chicken broth.  Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour.  Remove the cover and sprinkle the chops with the raw sugar, spooning the sauce over them and allowing to simmer on very low heat for another five minutes.  Add the capers and sage leaves to the sauce.  Serve with the pasta, spooning plenty of sauce over both.


Broccoli Rapini

Some say this is an acquired, but I find myself craving it almost anytime.  Broccoli Rapini has a slightly bitter taste.  You’ll want to find it in peak season, usually the end of winter to beginning of spring.  Wash it well and chop the leaves and part of the stem.  Saute the greens in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes on low heat.  Add two cloves of garlic, thinly sliced, and saute for two more minutes.  Season with sea salt and serve.  Note:  This is delicious as a light lunch served with Sicilian Salsa and good crusty bread…..and a Peroni, of course!

Fresh Plum Tart

I always give credit where credit is due.  Ina Garten always manages to provide some of my best recipes.  AND, you can order the book if you want!  Delicious!

Photo: James Merrell

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds firm, ripe Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin-side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.