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.


It Was Divine!

Forks & Corks….the scene of a fabulous 80’s Halloween Five Course wine tasting dinner on Wednesday evening. Guests arrived in the finest 80’s costumes.  Even “Ronald Reagan” made an appearance, shaking hands as he worked the room!  If you haven’t experienced the culinary magic of Chef Austin ‘hoss’ Blaise then make a reservation and enjoy a real treat…no tricks involved.  I’m featuring some photos from the evening as well as the food.  So let’s begin!

Halloween vignettes filled the main part of the restaurant….fog machines and all to provide a ghostly feeling for this very special evening!

Tables beautifully set waited for the evening’s guests to arrive.

We began the evening with a delicious “Ghostly Gnocchi”.  The dish featured handmade pumpkin gnocchi with a generous dollop of mascarpone, pancetta lardons, toasted pistachio nuts and fresh sage.  Each bite was filled with the distinct flavors of Fall, a perfect combination of textures and, of course my favorite, pistachio nuts!  Served with a crisp Landmark Chardonnay the festivities began.

Next up, “Spooky Salmon”.  Olive oil poached salmon with crispy rock shrimp, squid pasta pearls, charred garlic and tomato confit with fresh basil butter….foodie heaven!  Not only beautiful to look at, the dish was a hit!

A “Demonic Duck” dish followed, but I would think of a more heavenly name!  The flavors of this amazing entree did not disappoint.  Molasses cured duck breast served atop sweet potato pave with blackberry compote and chipotle gastrique.  This dish was probably my favorite of the evening, but it would be hard to say.

This amazing Chateauneuf du Pape helped bring the flavors alive, enhancing the molasses flavor of the duck breast….c’est magnefique!

This divine beef dish named “Scared Sh**tless Shortribs” completed the entrees for the evening.  Braised in Guiness Stout, the shortrib was placed atop a serving of roasted butternut squash polenta with bacon-red onion marmalade and wilted spinach.

Yes, I did manage to save room for dessert!  “Boo Brownies” provided the perfect ending to this lovely five course treat.  The white chocolate brownie, served with a scoop of dulce de leche gelatto made my heart sing!  I definitely had a clean plate after this delectable course.

I highly recommend this delightful dining destination.  With it’s lovely ambience and friendly, knowledgeable staff, it’s a winner .  Located at 141 TerraBella Blvd. in Covington, this could very well become one of your favorite spots for date night or any occasion.  Owner, Osman Rodas, our host for this wonderful evening, also owns Pardos American Bistro, soon to open in its new location and Pepe’s Mexican Kitchen in downtown Covington.   We hope to have news for you soon as we begin scheduling podcasts and video taping in December.  These restaurants will certainly be on our list of the best places to eat on the North Shore.

For reservations, please call:  985-273-3663

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.

Cheesecake With A Twist

I’m in Autumn cooking mode these days.  I dreamed this recipe up years back and am making it again for a catering event I have tonight.  It’s a savory cheesecake, nothing sweet about it.  But it is so incredibly delicious!  This recipe is in my newly published cookbook, “Seasoning…Saucing…Savoring”, available on Amazon HERE!:  https://www.amazon.com/Seasoning-Saucing-Savoring-Food-Good-ebook/dp/B07D3D8XDH/ref=sr_1_1?s=furniture&ie=UTF8&qid=1539285620&sr=8-1&keywords=SEASONING…SAUCING…SAVORING+BY+MELISSA+LEE


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 tsp. Sangre de Cristo Mexican Seasoning ( available at https://sdcspice.com/)

1 tsp. Sangre de Cristo Garlic Powder

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3/4 stick butter, melted

Mix all ingredients.  Grease a ten inch spring form pan with vegetable oil of cooking spray.  Pat the crust mixture into the bottom.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove fhe pan and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

For the filling:

3 pounds cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks

2 whole eggs, slightly beaten

1/1/2 cups chopped, roasted New Mexico chilies (I found a bag of frozen, fire roasted peppers at Trader Joe’s that I’m using this time…yum!)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 tablespooon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

1/2 teaspoon Sangre de Cristo Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon Sangre de Cristo Mexican Seasoning

In a mixing bowl, place the cream cheese and eggs, mix until smooth with an electric mixer.  Saute onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil until the onion is transparent.  Add the peppers and heat through.  Fold the pepper mixture and shredded cheese into the cream cheese, adding salt to taste.

Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared crust and place in a the spring form pan on a cookie sheet, adding 2 cups of water onto the tray to create a water bath.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/4 hours or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

This cheesecake can be made a day ahead of time and placed in the freezer for 2 hours to set completely.  Remove the cake from the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight.  Warm in a 350 degree oven for about a half hour or until heated through.



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.

Kung POW Chicken

Related image

I first tasted Kung Pao chicken while living in New York City.  I loved the spicy flavors and the crunch of peanuts…..layers of deliciousness exploding on the taste buds.  I found a recipe and have made it for years but it keeps evolving.  This latest version that I came up with a couple of weeks ago is definitely the best yet!  You can adjust the heat by using less red pepper flakes or omitting them entirely.  My secret for making Asian cooking easier is to do the chopping, placing everything in small bowls beside the wok so each step of the recipe can be handled quickly and easily.  Stir frying, at a high heat, requires being prepared.  Please let me know if you try this recipe!  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Kung Pao Chicken

2 whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split and cut into half inch cubes

1  large egg white

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Place the cubed chicken breast into a medium sized bowl.  Add the egg white and cornstarch or arrowroot powder and stir to coat the chicken well.  Allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.  This process is called “velveting” the chicken.

1/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup raw peanuts

4 scallions diced, including green ends

1 red or orange bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced

To Stir Fry:

In a large wok, heat the coconut oil until melted.  Add the chicken, tossing in the oil.  As it begins to brown add the peanuts, scallions, bell pepper, garlic and ginger root.  Toss in the hot oil until the veggies are just tender…you want a bit of crunch.  Add the sauce and cook until heated through and sauce has thickened.  Serve over jasmine rice and enjoy an ice cold Tsing Tao beer!


1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine or sherry

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon monk fruit or coconut sweetener

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon red or green pepper jelly

Mix all ingredients, except the jelly, and pour over the chicken mixture as instructed above.  When the sauce is thickening add the pepper jelly and stir well until the jelly has melted into the sauce.

NOTE:  There are many brands of pepper jelly on the market.  The one I used was actually made by a friend using my sister-in-law’s recipe…lucky me!  I’ll see if I can get permission to share it with you!

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.

In Praise of Sweet Potatoes!


I’m sharing a recipe today that is always a huge hit AND it’s gluten free!  This recipe is for a quiche with a shredded sweet potato crust instead of the traditional crust made with flour.  I served this delicious dish at a brunch I catered months back.   It went so quickly I didn’t get a chance to photograph it so I am sharing a photo I found on Pinterest that is as close as I can come to what I created.  I have a “return to blogging” goal that is all about remembering ALWAYS to take photographs.  The recipe is all mine and I think you’ll love it!


sweet potato crusted quiche with goat cheese and leeks {gluten-free}


Quiche with Shredded Sweet Potato Crust

Preheat oven to 425

1 large sweet potato, peeled and shredded

1 egg beaten

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients and pat them into a glass pie dish or spring form pan that has been lightly greased.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees.

For the filling:

2 cups shredded Swiss Cheese

4 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups half ‘n’ half

1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Place the shredded cheese in the prepared crust.  Beat the eggs then add the half ‘n’ half and seasoning.  Place the pan on a baking dish to prevent spilling.  Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until a knife, inserted in the middle of the quiche, comes out clean.

I know you probably wonder what the rest of the menu was so I’ll share that as well!  Creme Brulee French Toast, Creole Mustard Ham and Hashbrowns with the Cajun Trinity.  Bloody Mary’s and Mimosa’s were flowing and it was a wonderful time.   Enjoy!














An Early Fall Repast

This is one of my favorite warm weather menus.  I think you’ll enjoy it!  Pair this with a good, crisp white wine and you have a delicious meal!  Have a safe weekend and enjoy!

Pan Seared Salmon with  Miso/Ginger Glaze

Sauteed Cucumbers and Fennel with Grape Tomatoes

Jasmine Rice with toasted Sesame Seeds and Fresh Chives

Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Ginger, Toasted Almonds and Caramel Sauce

YUM!!! Honey Garlic Salmon - 1 teaspoon garlic, minced ½ teaspoon ginger, minced 4 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons soy sauce Mix & marinate salmon 15-30 minutes Pan sear Salmon to carmelize then Bake @ 350 for 15-20 minutes:

Pan Seared Salmon with Miso/Ginger Glaze

This recipe serves 4.  It can easily be increase to serve 8 by doubling the ingredients.

4 – 6 ounce wild salmon filets

1 tablespoon good olive oil

1/2 cup miso ( available at Island Natural Foods or any Asian Market in your area)

1/4 cup Mirin (Japanese rice wine) or Dry Sherry

1 tablespoon shredded, fresh, peeled ginger root

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon good olive oil

French or Celtic grey salt and white pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a heavy, heat resistant pan (I used a cast iron skillet), heat the oil until it is sizzling.  Lightly salt and pepper both sides of each filet.  Place the filets, skin side down in the hot pan and sear for about 3 -5 minutes.  In a medium bowl, mix the miso, Mirin, ginger root and soy sauce.  Spoon this mixture over the top of each filet and put the pan in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.  The salmon continues to cook even after you remove it from the oven and it is best if left a bit rare in the middle.  Serve with Jasmine rice (see recipe below) and a crisp, sauteed vegetable mixture (recipe below).

Ginger-Sesame Rice | Cuisine at home eRecipes I think it would be best with Jasmine rice :-):

Jasmine Rice with toasted Sesame Seeds and Fresh Chives

1 cup Jasmine Rice

2 cups water

1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon butter

sea salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives

Bring the water to a boil and add the rice.  Cook 20 minutes, or until tender.  Remove the rice to a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients.  For serving I always like to use a large, professional ice cream scoop to put a nice mound of rice on each plate before placing the salmon next to it.  Additional chives, uncut, can be used for garnish.

* 1 tablespoon butter * 2 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into half moons * Pinch of nutmeg * Handful of herbs like tarragon, chives, chervil, thyme, or parsley * Salt and pepper ~ add butter melt over medium heat add cucumber for about 5 min till crispy then seasoning:

Sauteed Cucumbers and Fennel with Grape Tomatoes

You read that right….sauteed cucumbers.  They are simply delicious and a perfect accompaniment to this meal.  I love to add shaved fennel to this dish and lovely grape tomatoes.  A bit of fresh dill and all you’ll say is yum! Note:  if you are not a fennel lover, that ingredient may be omitted.

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced (cut the cucumber in half lengthwise to take the seeds out leaving crescent shapes to saute.)

1 fennel bulb, top removed and the bulb thinly shaved, with a mandoline, preferably.

1 pint grape tomatoes, washed and patted dry

1 tablespoons good olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan.  Add the cucumbers and fennel, tossing to heat through yet, still crisp, approximately 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and toss over the heat briefly.  Remove the pan from the heat and season with the salt, pepper and dill.  Serve with the salmon and jasmine rice for a delicious combination of tastes and textures.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Ginger, Toasted Almonds and Caramel Sauce

I have to confess that I am a Ben & Jerry’s addict.  I control this addiction by not buying it too often, but for special occasions, I indulge myself and my guests in the fabulous flavors of their line.  For this dessert I choose their plain vanilla although I am a closet “Late Night Snack” and “Chubby Hubby” junkie.

Two pints will provide two nice scoops for four.  Place the two scoops in a bowl or serving piece of your choice.  Top with crumbled, candied ginger, a teaspoon or so per serving, sliced, toasted almonds and drizzle with caramel sauce.  There is a caramel sauce that I can almost faint over:  King’s Cupboard’s Three Chili Caramel Sauce.  Beware!  It does pack a bit of a “heated zing”, but I love the flavor sensation it creates when topping this recipe.