Category Archives: Recipes

Happy Father’s Day!

Here’s wishing the happiest of Father’s Days to all the great dads out there, especially to my fantastic husband! If you want to cook up a delicious dinner for your favorite Dad (we’re talking Grilled Rack of Lamb, Grilled Potato Skewers & Grilled Pineapple), check out my mouthwatering, dad-pleasing Father’s Day grilling menu.



Filed under Blue Plate Special, Recipes

How to Make Mayonnaise

I realize mayo isn’t the most popular condiment these days with all the calorie-counting and weight-watching going around, but the technique involved in whisking two naturally incompatible ingredients into sublime submission  is worth sharing – even it it’s just to prep you for a How to Make Hollandaise Sauce post down the road.

What is mayonnaise -the real stuff, not the heavily processed, thick, white gel of sorts we keep in our fridges? Simply put, mayo is a mix of egg yolks, a few flavoring ingredients and olive oil, whisked together until the ingredients are suspended together (think vinaigrette –

The processed version has added preservatives and whatnot, but is much more stable than homemade. It’s not nearly as flavorful, but the additives help extend its shelf life far longer than the 5 or 6 days in the fridge homemade mayo is safe to eat.

Why make homemade? Well, like most things homemade, it tastes better. You have complete control over what ingredients are used and you can flavor it to your exact specifications. (Add a pinch of cayenne for a bit of heat, more or less lemon juice or vinegar to taste.) And you’ll look like a true rock-star-chef when you tell friends you made the mayo yourself.

If possible, let your ingredients warm to room temperature before starting. This will make it easier for them to emulsify. It’s important that you add the oil sparingly to start, literally a few drops at a time, until the mixture begins to thicken. At that point you can incorporate it more quickly, though a slow, steady stream works best. The amount of oil you use will depend on the size of your yolks and how thick you want your mayo to be. Stop when you’ve reached the consistency you like.

Next time you want to test your chops, try whisking up this recipe for Mayonnaise.

  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pepper to taste

Place egg yolks in medium bowl. Whisk vigorously until yolks are light and frothy. Whisk in salt, pepper and mustard. Combine the vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl, whisking half into the yolk mixture. Gradually whisk the olive oil into the yolks, a drop at a time, until mixture starts to thicken. Add the remaining oil in a slow steady stream. Whisk in remaining vinegar-lemon juice mixture. Season to taste.  

Makes about two cups.


Filed under How to..., Recipes

How to Make a Great Cookie for Santa

Holiday How To — Day 23 — Each day leading up to Christmas I’ll post a bit of holiday know-how that will help make your season a little easier.

Molasses. Spice. White chocolate. A delicious trifecta that combine to create a cookie that’ll make Santa’s mouth water. Slightly crisp on the outside with a soft, chewy center, more than a hint of spice and a finishing drizzle of melted white chocolate (the real stuff, not the bagged white morsels), these are not to be confused with a traditional molasses cookie.

Be sure to make some for Santa and yourself!

Molasses Spice Cookies

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon clove
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, for rolling
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, melted for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda and spices in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add molasses and the egg and mix until well incorporated. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the molasses mixture and mix until well incorporated and a thick dough is formed.  

Roll dough into 1½ -inch balls and roll in 2 tablespoons sugar. Place two inches apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. 

Once cookies are completely cooled, drizzle cookies with melted white chocolate. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until white chocolate is set.

Note: For chewier cookies, remove cookies from baking sheet as soon as they come out of the oven. You can transfer the cookies easily to a cooling rack by sliding the entire sheet of parchment lining the pan onto the rack. For crunchier cookies allow cookies to cool on baking sheets.

 Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

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Filed under Holiday How To, Recipes, Uncategorized

How to Make a Perfect Cold Winter’s Night Meal

Holiday How To — Day 18 — Each day leading up to Christmas I’ll post a bit of holiday know-how that will help make your season a little easier.

We have a few more days before winter technically begins, but when the weather outside is frightful nothing is more comforting than a piping hot bowl of chili. In this recipe, Chicken and Apple Sausage stands in for traditional ground meat. A quick sauté, simmer and a finishing splash of lime juice and you can have a bowl full of chili ready in no time.

Chicken & Apple Sausage Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

12 oz Aidell’s Chicken & Apple Sausage, cut in half lengthwise then sliced ¼-inch thick

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup apple juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a medium saucepot over medium high heat. Add onion, red bell pepper and garlic, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and cook until vegetables are soft, 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add sausage and cook until warm, about a minute. Stir in tomatoes, beans, chicken stock and apple juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste and serve.

Optional Garnish: Sour cream & diced avocado.

Makes about 10 cups.

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Filed under Holiday How To, Recipes

How to Bake a Cupcake to Impress

Holiday How To — Day 14 — Each day leading up to Christmas I’ll post a bit of holiday know-how that will help make your season a little easier.

Cupcakes are all the rage these days and creating a miniature version of a favorite cake is a great way to bring the trend to your table. This recipe gives you the same great flavor you’ll remember and these perfectly portioned treats will be a gift to your taste buds.

You’ll want to skip the cupcake liners for this one. The brown sugar-butter-pineapple mixture that you’ll line your cupcake tin with will create a deliciously sticky mess that will stick to the liners. The beauty of these little cakes is the golden brown, caramelized pineapple pieces that are revealed when they’re inverted.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

For Topping:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

½ cup brown sugar

1 20-oz can crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks, drained with juice reserved

 For Cupcakes:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup reserved pineapple juice

For Topping:

With a pastry brush, brush butter evenly on the bottom and sides of a 12-cup muffin tin. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter and top with drained pineapple.

For Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and pineapple juice alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until just combined. 

Divide batter evenly among muffin tin, covering the fruit. Bake 15 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes. Place a wire cooling rack on top of the muffin tin and invert the cupcakes onto the rack. Cool cupcakes completely. 

Makes 12 cupcakes.


Filed under Holiday How To, Recipes, Uncategorized

How to…Make a Vinaigrette

Balsamic VinaigretteMaking a vinaigrette is more technique than recipe. Once you know the basics, you’re free to mix up the ingredients (no pun intended) to suit your tastes and salad. Think of a vinaigrette as a sauce. It should enhance, not dominate, the flavors in your salad.

A basic vinaigrette consists of two key ingredients – fat and acid. The fat is typically some type of oil – olive oils, nut oils, even vegetable oils. (Vinaigrettes shouldn’t be confused with salad dressings, which rely on items like mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk for their thick and creamy texture.)

Acids include any type of vinegar, as well as acidic fruit juices like orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit. Oil (fat) and vinegar (acid) don’t play well together naturally, so they’re whisked together temporarily or emulsified just before they’re used.

The traditional ratio of fat to acid in a vinaigrette is 3 to 1, meaning 3 parts oil to 1 part acid. This ratio should be used only as a guide, not law. The ratio can and will vary based on the types of oil and vinegars you’re using and the other ingredients in your salad.

The ultimate goal is to create a vinaigrette with the perfect balance of flavors so your palate’s not assaulted by a mixture that’s too acidic or too oily. Keep in mind that you’ll likely want to use less of oils with stronger flavors, like extra virgin olive oil and most nut oils like hazelnut or walnut oil. Experiment and taste until you find the ratio and balance that’s right for you.

Other ingredients, like herbs, spices, mustard, honey, sugar or minced garlic or shallots, can be added to give your vinaigrette an extra burst of flavor. Those should be incorporated before whisking in your oil.

Once assembled, don’t be tempted to taste your vinaigrette on its own. You should always taste your vinaigrette or salad dressing in combination with the foods you’ll be serving it with. Pinch a piece of lettuce, grab a bite of tomato and dip it into your vinaigrette to give your taste buds a preview of what’s to come.

Vinaigrettes can be made ahead, but be sure to re-whisk just before serving as the oil and vinegar will separate. Even though you can prepare your vinaigrette ahead of time, don’t add it to your salad until just before you’re ready to serve or your crisp salad greens, veggies and even your meat or seafood will wind up a soggy mess. I’ve found that homemade vinaigrettes pack a bigger flavor punch than their store-bought counterparts so you’ll likely use loads less if you make it yourself.

To make a vinaigrette, combine your acid along with any other ingredients you’re adding for flavor in a bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually add the fat in a slow steady stream until your vinaigrette comes together, which means you should see no separation of oil and vinegar in your bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper . The longer your vinaigrette ingredients sit, the stronger their flavors will be so try whisking up your vinaigrette an hour or so before you’ll be ready to use it for a nicely flavored mix. Don’t forget to rewhisk just before serving.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Whisk vinegar and mustard together in a small bowl.

2. Gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Rewhisk just before using.

Makes about ¼ cup.

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Quick & Delish Side Dish

Green Beans with Caramelized Red OnionsI’m always on the lookout for a side dish that’s, just as the title implies, quick and delicious, and if there’s something I can do to a vegetable to make it the least bit appealing to the five-year-old palate, all the better. This recipe for Green Beans with Caramelized Red Onions fits the bill. The beans are first blanched in heavily salted boiling water, then added to a sauté pan with the red onions. Quick. Delish. Done.

Green Beans with Caramelized Red Onions

2 pounds green beans, trimmed

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Carefully drop green beans into a 3-quart pot of heavily salted boiling water. Cook beans until crisp-tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain, pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

 2. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once butter is melted, add red onion slices and cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown, about 8-10 minutes.

 3. Add green beans to pan, stirring until coated and heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

 Serves 6-8.


Filed under Recipes