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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tip Of The Day: Buy The Good Bread!

Spend the extra "dough" on that loaf of Artisan bread! If you spend the extra $1.00 on the best bread you can spend less on all the other ingredients your going to top it with!

Quote from: Michael Chiarello, Napa Style

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wine Pick Of The Day! Sangiovese Di Majo Norante Italy

Wine Pick Of The Day:

Sangiovese, 2006, Di Majo Norante, Italy, Dry Red Wine of Molise Terra Degli Osci, indicazione geografica tipica: Our dinner guests brought this nice bottle of Italian red wine for dinner. It was served with lasagna. We found two different opinions about the taste.

First the wine is a 2006, half of the table thought it should have been let to sit a couple more years.

Second, we found that is was a nice dry red with tons of tannins. It was pleasant. But very different from the Meritage we were drinking.

Price point: (?)

Kendall-Jackson, Meritage, California 2005, Vintner's Reserve:

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from several counties including Napa.

Very nice I like! Smooth, oaky, cocoa black cherry hint, label states coffee and pomegranate. I could get the coffee but the pomegranate I didn't. Our dinner fav!

Price Point: $17.95 - got on sale at Kroger for about $12.00.

Warm Brie Appetizer

This Warm Brie Appetizer is so wonderful and only takes a couple minutes to prepare!

  • Baby Brie
  • Honey
  • Dried Fruit

I made this last night with dried cinnamon apples. It was delicious and my guests loved it!

Take your dried fruit (any kind) and chop into small pieces.

Slice Brie into 1/2 inch wedge slices arrange in a circle overlapping the edges a bit, like a hand of cards, in a oven proof dish you would take to the table.

Sprinkle the chop fruit on top of the cheese and then drizzle the honey all over the top about 3 tablespoons or so.

Place in a warm oven just long enough to see the cheese start to soften.....done!

I popped this in after my lasagna was cooked when I turned off the oven, it only took about five minutes...so do not walk away. It warmed the cheese, honey and fruit, I served with crackers. You could also use a baguette sliced :)

If you have extremely hard dried fruit you can soften it by soaking it in some Brandy for a half an hour or so...this also makes the fruit and cheese taste even better!!!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tip Of The Day: Brewing Green Tea

Brewing Tea may sound easy, but a lot of people don't know the correct way.

Green tea has been found to have antioxidants helpful in ridding your body of toxins. However, you do need to add exercise for this to work. Exercise helps get the toxins moving out of your system. You can take all the antioxidants you want but unless you move it won't do a thing.

I drink Green Tea (Japanese)

Green Tea
The' vert
Te' Verde

Insert tea bag into cup or tea pot, pour 80 'C (176 'F) hot water, steep 30 seconds, shake the tea bag and remove. Empty remaining Matcha from outer envelope to surface of tea.

Introduzca la bolsa de te' en una taza y vierta aqua caliente a 80'C. Espere 30 segundos, antes de sacar la bolsa de te'. Bacie el Matcha restante sobre la superficie del te'.

Mettre le sachet de the' dans la tasse, verser de l'eau chaude a a' 80'C (176'F). Laisser infuser pendant 30 secondes, secouer le sachet et le retirer. Saupoudrer la surface du the' du Matcha reste' dans I'enveloppe exte'rieure.

Pesto Shrimp

Pesto Shrimp is a great easy recipe that can be cooked on the grill outdoors or inside.


  • 1 lb Large Shrimp, cleaned
  • 1/3 - 1/2 Cup Pesto (Karen's or store bought)
  • Grilling Skewers, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
  • Salt and Pepper

Karen's Basil Pesto recipe: http://karenbcookingmadeeasy.blogspot.com/2009/03/cooking-with-herbs-basil-pesto.html

In a large bowl add shrimp and pesto, mix to coat well, cover and refrigerate for four hours or even the day before.

Skewer shrimp, lightly season with salt and pepper, grill on oiled grill or grill pan for about 2 minutes per side do not over cook.

Serve with rice, or an additional side to your favorite steak!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wine Pick Of The Day! Deltetto Laughe Italy

We finally made it out to dinner last night! Yay! We wandered out to Fiddleheads in Royal Oak, MI. http://www.fiddleheadsroyaloak.com/

We had some great wine too! The Chef, Tim Voss gave a recommendation on the red and then brought over the white for us to try, he knew we would like it and we did! Here are the two of the three we decided to share:

Deltetto 2006, Laughe Italy - Nebbiolo Red: Between a Cab and a Merlot, very smooth nice, not over whelming at first, light refreshing taste. Price point $14.00 1/2 bottle carry out, $28.00 dine in.

Deltetto 2006, Laughe Italy - Arneis White: I liked this best. It smells very, very fruity almost to fruity to drink, but I was very surprised that it wasn't and was shockingly dry but fresh! I like! Price point $14.00 1/2 bottle carry out, $28.00 dine in.

My guess you could find these at your local wine store at a very reasonable price.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Karen's Easy Chocolate Coffee Ganache Cup Cakes

Sometimes Mom's need a little treat too! Karen's Easy Chocolate Coffee Ganache Cup Cakes are not really for the kids.

The next time you have to host a Parent Coffee for school, host a party or meeting, here is the recipe to make it extra special.

Ganache (Ga - nash) is a frosting made with Chocolate and Heavy Cream

  • One Box Chocolate Cake Mix (Eggs & Oil)
  • 16 oz. Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • Instant Coffee Powder or Espresso Coffee Powder

Heat oven per instructions on Cake Mix.

Prepare muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the Chocolate Cake Mix per instructions on box.

To the Cake Mix add 1 teaspoon Instant Coffee Powder. Fill cups 3/4 full and bake.

For the Ganache:

Using a double boiler or a glass bowl on top of a sauce pan.

If you are using the bowl method fill the sauce pan 1/2 way full with hot water, bring to a simmer, place bowl over sauce pan to use as your double boiler. This prevents the chocolate from burning and melts nicely.

Melt your Chocolate Chips with the Heavy Cream and 1/2 teaspoon Coffee Powder stirring consistantly until melted and smooth.

Hold the cupcake in your hands, dip and swirl into the Chocolate, set on rack to let the Ganache set.

Serve with coffee or tea.


Pesto Hamburger Made Easy!

Need some ideas for a tasty Hamburger? Here is a easy, quick tasty Hamburger recipe that can be made in a snap! And the kids love it!


  • 1lb Ground Hamburger (80/20 = 80% meat, 20% fat)
  • 4 Tablespoons Basil Pesto - Karen's Easy Pesto Link
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Karen's Easy Basil Pesto Recipe: http://karenbcookingmadeeasy.blogspot.com/2009/03/cooking-with-herbs-basil-pesto.html

If you can't make the pesto, store bought is fine too! When I have ran out of our homemade supply we LOVE Kirkland Signature CIBO Naturals Pesto found at Costco (22 oz. Jar) It has 100% all natural ingredients.

Place Ground Beef into mixing bowl, add Pesto, season wit salt and pepper. HAND mix well. Prepare patties and grill.

Top with your favorite cheese or try Mozzarella, Lettuce and Tomato!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Tip Of The Day: Kitchen Graters

An essential tool you need in your kitchen arsenal is the

Kitchen Grater

I recommend a Micro plane Type Grater. They are razor sharp, with a Stainless Steel blade.

I keep two on hand:

The Zester Grater is for grating Parmesan, Lemon/Lime Zest, Coconut, Cinnamon, Nutmeg etc..

The Medium Ribbon Grater is for Chocolate, Mozzarella, Ginger etc... this one can grate in both directions.

They are easy clean and come with a plastic guard to protect the blades when not used.

You should also have the old stand by "the box grater" for large amounts of grating.

The price point on the Micro plane Graters I purchased were around $13.00 over three years ago and they are still like brand new. I use them all the time.

Ranch Baked Chicken Made Easy!

Ranch Baked Chicken is a easy recipe that adds a new flavor to your everyday baked chicken. It takes under 30 minutes to make!

You can use any kind of chicken for this recipe. I like to use the thigh, it's a nice break from the breast. It is also good for you when it's skinless. If you choose the breast I recommend pounding it to tenderize it first.

  • Six boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
  • Italian Bread Crumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

The day before:

Add chicken thighs and 3/4 Cup Buttermilk Ranch Dressing in a plastic zip lock bag or a covered dish. Toss to coat evenly. Place in the refrigerator over night.

To cook:

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Pour about 1 1/2 Cups of Italian bread crumbs into dish. Coat chicken well.

Saute chicken until browned. Don't over crowd the pan. Remove chicken to paper towel.

Bake chicken on baking sheet in oven at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes until done.


Fondue Made Easy!

Fondue is basically wine and cheese melted together to dip bread and vegetables in.
Fondue is actually a real easy recipe to make. If your cooking for a date night and need something to impress this is the one to make! It is also great for an Hourdouve for a party!

Guys, this is sooo easy even if you don't know how to cook! If you can cook bacon you can make this easy Fondue dish.

You will need a Fondue Pot. They are very inexpensive and can be found at any kitchen store, department store or you can borrow one. A Fondue pot is basically a dish over a candle or heat source to keep the cheese warm. They come with long forks to enable you to dip into the pot with out burning yourself. If you have a warming plate that will work too!


  • Pancetta or Bacon, chopped, about 1/2 pound
  • 2 Cups of white wine - a nice wine you would drink of course
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Fontina Cheese - Shredded
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Gruyere Cheese - Shredded
  • 3 teaspoons Cup Corn Starch
  • 1 Tablespoon dried chives - or fresh
  • Wire Whisk
  • Bread (Baguette, French, Fococcia) cut into 1 - 1 1/2 " squares

You will need some or all of the following (be creative):

  • Broccoli Florets - Blanched for 2 minutes
  • Apple Wedges - Tossed with Lemon juice to prevent browning
  • Cooked Chicken Chunks
  • Cooked Ham Chunks
  • Sausage or Salami
  • Asparagus Spears - cleaned w/ends removed
  • Cauliflower - Blanched for 2 minutes

Blanching: Bring water to a boil, add vegetables in for just about two minutes, remove and put in an cold water ice bath to stop the cooking. This just takes the rawness out but leaves it tasting fresh and still has a crunch.

Prepare all your dipping ingredients first and put on your serving tray. The trick to these items are that you cut them into large enough squares so that they do not break apart when you dip them into the Fondue.

In a sauce pan brown the Pancetta or Bacon until nice and browned. Do not overcrowd the pan you don't want to saute the Bacon you want to brown it. You may have to do it in two batches.

Remove Pancetta or Bacon from saucepan. Leave drippings in pan.

Add 2 Cups of your white wine to pan and bring to a boil. Stir to remove all the yummy bits from the bottom.

Add your Fontina, Gruyere cheese and cornstarch into a bowl and mix together. The cornstarch removes any moisture that would ruin your cheese sauce.

When the wine begins to boil lower heat to medium low and add the cheese one handful at a time while whisking. You will see it become a creamy silky sauce.

Add 1/2 of the Pancetta or Bacon and stir.

Pour into Fondue Pot.

Top with the remainder of the Pancetta or Bacon and the chives! Serve.

If your Fondue is too thick you can thin by adding more wine - Do Not Add Water!

If it's too thin add more cheese and cornstarch.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cooking The Perfect Steak

How To Cook The Perfect Steak

Here is the easiest way to cook the perfect steak every time! Whether it be in the kitchen or on the grill.
  • Heavy Grill Pan or Outdoor Grill
  • Salt
  • Freshly Ground Pepper

This recipe if for an average steak 1 1/4" thick. Total cooking time 9 minutes.

Bring the Steak to room temperature. Season "heavily" with salt and fresh ground pepper. I mean add a lot so it's practically falling off the meat. It gives it so much more flavor. That's why it tastes so good at a restaurant, they season more than the average person.

Heat the grill pan or grill to a medium high heat.

I hit the grill pan with some olive oil just before I put the steak on to prevent sticking.

Rule of thumb: hot pan, cold oil.

Place your meat on the grill pan on a slight angle. Let sit for about two minutes. After two minutes move slightly to make the cris cross grill mark. If the meat is sticking do not move until it releases. DO NOT TURN THE STEAK OVER!

Continue to cook another 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Turn over Steak and do the same.

If you don't care about the cris crossed grill marks just leave your Steak alone! Do not flip it over until it's time about 4 to 4 1/2 minutes per side total.... leave it sit.

A 1 1/4" thick steak only take 8 - 9 minutes total cooking time for Medium Rare (125 degrees). So 4 to 4 1/2 minutes per side only!

Remove Steak from pan, cover and let rest for five to ten minutes. This lets the juices return to the center of the meat. Also, once removed from the heat the meats temperature rises 5 degrees and continues to cook. So remove your steak a little sooner depending on how done you like it.


If you want to check your temperature stick the temperature gage into the side of the steak not in the top. This will give you an accurate reading in the middle.

Wine Recommendation: Red wine works well with red meats.


Tip Of The Day: Three Must Have Knives In Your Kitchen!

If you have or are going to purchase knives for your kitchen here are the three you MUST have:

Paring Knife: This very small but very sharp knife is used for many, many things. You can peel potato's, slice very small items, core out tomatoes and other vegetables.

Serrated Knife: The serrated knife is used for slicing bread, rolls, baguettes. Chopping chocolate and believe it or not slicing tomatoes! I always use a serrated knife to slice tomatoes, it doesn't slip! Try it.

Chef's Knife: The Chef knife is used for all your chopping. Vegetables, herbs, cleaning melon, can double as a meat slicer if you keep it sharp!

So if you are heading out, get the basics... good basics. You can always add unless you can find a great deal on an entire set. Learn to use your knives and your culinary skills will improve!

Reminder: When chopping always curl your fingers under while holding the food, the knife blade will hit your knuckle and protect you from cutting your fingers!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pasta Mezzogiorno: Spicy Sausage & Kayle Penne Pasta

Pasta Mezzogiorno: Penne pasta with spicy Italian sausage and Kayle. This one dish meal is so quick to prepare and is literally done by time the pasta is cooked.
We go to our favorite kid friendly Italian Ristorante "Salvatore Scallopini". The server recommended this dish for me and had them make it the healthy way with whole wheat pasta. I questioned the "Kayle" ingredient. I have used cases and cases of Kayle in my restaurant to decorate catering trays and as a garnish. Both the purple and the green.

I have to admit I never tried it, never ate it not once, never had the desire to, I thought it would just taste bad! Yuck!

Well the server proved me wrong. He said "trust me". And I did! And I loved it! So I have been making my version of the dish ever since. At least once a week for my family and it's my favorite new dish to share with friends at get togethers. Now Kayle is a staple in our produce drawer.

  • Karen's Red Pepper Olive Oil
  • 1 3.25 oz Penne Pasta (1/2 whole wheat & 1/2 regular)
  • 1 bunch Kayle (green or purple is fine to)
  • 3 Garlic cloves
  • 1 Shallot or one small onion or 4 green onions (what ever you have)
  • 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh Basil
  • 1 lb fresh ground Italian Sausage (mild or hot)
  • 1/2 Cup banana peppers (mild or hot)
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper

Prepare your ingredients:

Wash and strip the Kayle from the stem. Hold the fat end of the Kayle with one hand, with the other hand grab the leaves and pull up away from the fat part of the stem until it breaks off. You should only have the hard fat part of the stem in your hand.

Medium chop the Kayle. Fine chop the garlic or use your garlic press. Fine chop your onion. Medium chop the basil.

Make sure everything is ready on your cutting board.

Start your pasta per instructions on the box. Remember to salt your water. Cover the pot to get the water boiling quicker.

Use a 5.5 Quart/5.2 L Deep Saute pan. cover the bottom with your Red Pepper Olive Oil or regular olive oil if you don't have the Pepper Oil.

Karen's Red Pepper Olive Oil recipe: http://karenbcookingmadeeasy.blogspot.com/2009/03/crushed-red-pepper-flavored-olive-oil.html

Brown the Italian sausage in the oil. Add Salt and Pepper to season the meat. If you like it hot add/or are using plain olive oil add some Red Pepper Flakes a little bit at a time.

When the sausage is browned add the shallot and pine nuts saute until tender, the pine nuts should be slightly toasted.

Add seafood option here (see below).

Add the garlic and banana peppers saute only for a minute or two.

Add the Kayle stir to coat and cook for about five minutes stirring occasionally, Kayle should still have a slight crunch but tender.

With a pasta strainer add the pasta directly from the pasta water toss all together. Season with Salt and Pepper, and 1/4 Cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (more if you like...I do!)

Transfer to large pasta bowl. Sprinkle fresh chopped basil over the top, drizzle some more Red Pepper Olive Oil over the top and fresh grated Parmesan cheese!

Seafood option: You can add shrimp or scallops to this dish also. Add the cleaned, butterflied shrimp to pan (with oil and meat) and cook until they just turn pink, turn over and cook just until they turn pink. The shrimp will continue to cook while adding the remaining ingredients to do not over cook.

Lightly saute the scallops do not over cook.

Once you have made this dish the first time, the second time is a breeze! You just have to get your ingredients ready.

If you are cooking for just two, cut the recipe in half. Or make the entire recipe...It's even better the second day! This recipe will feed 6 to 8 with a nice side salad and bread.

Goes well with both White and Red Wine. I like a Chardonnay or a Meritage.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cooking With Herbs: Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto is used in many recipes such as pasta, hourdouves, dips. Here is a made easy recipe!

  • 2 Cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 Cups toasted pine nuts
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 Cup (about) Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a food processor or blender (remember you can use this also) add the basil, pine nuts, salt, pepper pulse until finely chopped. Add the olive oil while the blender is still running, add enough slowly until it becomes smooth and thick. Add the cheese. More salt and pepper to taste if needed.

This can be made with out cheese as well.

Makes 1 cup.

Cover and refrigerate - shelf life 2 to 3 days. You can double or triple the recipe if you would like. The Pesto can also be easily frozen so you have it all the time. Just divide into individual servings place small freezer bags roll up and store in freezer.

Toss fresh basil with your favorite hot pasta top with cheese and serve. Quick, easy and delicious meal.


Cooking With Herbs: Basil


Used as a main ingredient for many Mediterranean dishes, the fresh leaf has a sweet, clove like spice taste and is wonderful on fresh tomatoes with a little salad oil, and in hot tomato dishes.

Basil adds spice to rice salads and complements zucchini, beans and mushrooms. It has a big enough flavor to stand next to garlic and together they make the classic pesto sauce.

See Pesto recipe here: http://karenbcookingmadeeasy.blogspot.com/2009/03/cooking-with-herbs-basil-pesto.html

Basil's pungency increases with cooking. The fresh leaves keep their flavor if preserved in oil or vinegar

There are several varieties: " Ocimum basilicum" Basil. "Purpurascens" or Dark opal basil. "Citriodorum" Lemon basil. And "Minimum" Bush, or Greek, basil.


  • Culinary: Pound with oil or tear with fingers rather than chop. Add at the last minute to cooked dishes. Sprinkle over salads and sliced tomatoes.
  • Household: Place pots on window sills to deter flies.
  • Cosmetic: Flowering top and leaf added to bath water for an invigorating bath.
  • Medicinal: Steep a few leaves in wine for several hours as a tonic. Infuse as a tea to aid digestion. Basil is also used in aromatherapy. Put a drop of essential oil on a sleeve and inhale helps relieve fatigue.

Cooking With Herbs: Using and storing herbs

Remember when using herbs:

I tend to use a lot of fresh herbs in my recipes. I do have dry on hand all the time for when ever I do not have the fresh.

As a guide: 1 teaspoon of dried herbs is equivalent to 1 tablespoon fresh

Always store fresh-cut herbs in a plastic bag in the bottom of the refrigerator. Do not set them in a jar of water in the sun or they will wilt before your eyes. Store dry herbs in dark airtight jars.

You can preserve the herbs flavors in oils and vinegars for use in dressings. I will get you some recipes. Add them to butters, and use them to flavor jellies.

Herbs In The Kitchen

Herbs are described to be the soul of cooking. They can make a routine meal into a tangy, spicy, refreshing dish with a ton of flavors.

Many herbs help make foods easily digestible. Angelica anise, balm, basil, caraway, coriander, dill, fennel, mint, rosemary and sage have long been eaten for this digestive quality.

In Medieval times meat was wrapped in tansy to deter flies and to give the flesh a spicy flavor. Minty penny royal was added to kegs of fresh water on long sea voyages to help keep it sweet.

A salad for King Henry VIII included over 50 leaves, buds, flowers and roots.

Thomas Tusser's sixteenth-century garden plan for farmers wives was to plant no less than 70 salad and pot herbs.

After the Industrial Revolution and the move from the countryside into towns, herbs became less important in the kitchen. Now, with a renewed interest in the culinary arts, herbs are enjoying a comeback!

Most fruit and vegetable farms grow their crops to meet the demands of the supermarket shelf life rather than the taste, so herbs and spices must be added to make the taste come to life again. Herbs bring to life any dish, snack or drink. They can also supply extra nutrition to everyday meals, they contain a small but rich balance of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Which is important for your body. Eyes, brain, digestive tract, heart, and more can all benefit from cooking with herbs.

I will post a new herb on a new page so that you may learn about it and how to use it.

Wine Pick Of The Day! Australia Yellow Tail

Yellow Tail Chardonnay - 2007 - South Eastern Australia:

This is a wonderful Chardonnay for the ticket buy far! For a everyday wine, it's affordable and very good. 1.5L (a bottle and half) has a peachy vanilla and coconut aroma with a rich creamy toasted finish silky and smooth and very easy to drink!

Great for parties or a everyday wine when you don't want to spend the extra money.

Price Point: We pick it up at Costco for about $10.00 for 1.5L. You can't miss it, there is a orange Kangaroo on the label. Apparently the Kangaroo's co-exist in the vineyards..humm..:)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Crushed Red Pepper Flavored Olive Oil

Pimiento Rojo Triturado Oil

Make this easy Crushed Red Pepper Flavored Olive Oil and keep it handy you will use it all the time!

This is a must have in your pantry!

I stumbled across this recipe and I am soooo glad I did! We love this! I use this all the time when I'm sauteing pork or chicken. I top pasta with it. I think it's addicting :)

  • 4 Cups Olive Oil (get the jug from Costco)
  • 4 Tablespoons Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Heat the Olive Oil in a saucepan on the stove top on low heat for about five minutes. Just until warm. Add the Crushed Red Pepper Flakes. Stir. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature. Do not get your oil too hot, you don't want to fry the flakes and ruin the oil. When cooled pour into Mason jar or a air tight glass container.

You will see the Oil turn a red color after it cools. Your oil can be used at this point but I recommend to let is sit for a few days. As the days pass you will see the color darken. It's ready!

You can make this in smaller batches add one Tablespoon for every cup of Olive Oil.

Saute meat with the Pepper Oil, and finish in the oven. It gives it a nice flavor with out being too hot. You can use the oil alone or stir it up and use the flakes for a hotter touch. Top your pasta with the sliced meat and herbs then drizzle some Crushed Red Pepper Oil over the top!

It's like Doritos you keep eating until you have eaten the entire bag!

I have made this recipe bottled it up and attached a recipe card for gifts.


Wine Pick of The Day! Grgich Hills Napa Valley

Nothing goes better with cooking than wine! Here are some wines we have recently tried:

Familia Cara - 2003 Chianti Riserva - Italy:

We like Chianti with Italian food. This Chianti was a bit too much grape for us. It actually made me pucker. Price point was under $15.00.

True Earth - 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot/Petite Sirah Mendocino California:

Made with Organically Grown Grapes. This was a winner for me! Very nice. Will buy again. Price point was under $15.00.

Grgich Hills - 2001 Napa Valley Merlot:

We purchased this one right from the vineyard in 05'. So it's had time to sit. Yum! Thinner than a cab but had the legs. Had that great oak barrel taste but not the heaviness. Recommend for that special Italian dinner! Price point was under $50.00 in 05'.

Easy Marinara Alfredo Pink Pasta Sauce

In a hurry? Try this oh so quick Marinara Alfredo Pink Pasta Sauce!

  • One Jar Favorite Marinara Sauce
  • One Jar Favorite Alfredo Sauce
  • Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese or the green can :)
  • Fresh Italian Parsley
  • Fresh Basil
  • Dash of Nutmeg
  • Salt & Pepper

This recipe is basically done by the time your pasta is finished cooking! So start the bread now!

Start your favorite pasta.

In a sauce pan add the Marinara and the Alfredo sauce. Heat until simmer. Add a dash of Nutmeg, Salt and Pepper. Add your chopped fresh herbs to the sauce right before you drain your pasta. Drain pasta into large pasta bowl, top with sauce, fresh ground Parmesan cheese a little of the fresh parsley!

Don't forget to get the bread out of the oven! Your dinner is done!


Tip Of The Day: Tender Chicken Breast

Tired of having tough, dry boneless skinless Chicken Breast?

Easy fix! Pound the breast before cooking!

Place Chicken Breast in a plastic bag or on cutting board cover with plastic wrap. With a mallet, rolling pin or hammer. Pound pushing outward as you go until desired thickness.

For a scallopini (very thin) butterfly the breast first.

Pounding the breast tenderizes the meat and it cooks quicker and gets less dry (unless you over cook it!)

If you used the bag method at this point you can add your marinade and/or spices. If you are using a marinade with citrus, remember after about twenty minutes or so the citrus actually starts to cook the chicken.

An average pounded boneless breast takes about 4 minutes per side. Remove from heat, cover and let it rest for ten minutes before serving so all the juices return to the center of the meat.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tip Of The Day: Quick Pot Roast Marinade!

Quick Pot Roast Marinade! Make that ordinary pot roast taste oh so much better!

This is a great recipe to make for a Sunday dinner with plenty of left overs for lunches for the week. This is also great for your crock pot if you are gone all day long (prepare to recipe, pan sear before adding to crock pot).

You will need your Little Oscar food processor, or your big one if you have one. If not you can use a blender! Yes, it does the same thing and I bet you even have a pulse or chop button on it! If you don't have a blender use a chopping knife, make sure you have sharpened it.

I just picked up a buy one get one free Pot Roast at the supermarket. I doubled this recipe and used one for this weekend, placed the other roast with marinade on it, wrapped, put in a zip lock freezer bag and froze to use another day! Remove from freezer, defrost and your ready to go!


  • One 4" sprig of fresh Rosemary
  • One handful fresh Parsley
  • Four Garlic Cloves
  • Two Shallots or one small Yellow Onion
  • One teaspoon Sage or a few sprigs of Fresh Sage
  • One Tablespoon Dry Mustard
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper - at least 8 turns (about one Tablespoon)
  • Olive Oil (about 4 Tablespoons)

Do not add salt at this point, just add your salt right before you put the Pot Roast in the oven.

Cut onions into quarters and Garlic into halves. Chop your herbs in to pieces to fit into the processor. Add dry herbs and Pepper. Pulse the processor until you get a nice chop. Drizzle in your Olive Oil through the top while pulsing. Done.

If you are using the hand chop method. Chop all herbs, onions small. Chop garlic small or use your garlic press.

Do not just turn on the processor and let it go... you will have mush.

Place in a large zip lock bag or dish, rub the marinade into the meat on both sides. Cover and refrigerate six hours or even do this the day before. Remove the Pot Roast a half an hour before you plan on cooking. Bring to room temperature.

Scrap Marinade from Roast and save. Pan sear on both sides, place in roasting pan, add reserved Marinade spread all over the top of the Roast. Roast Covered in oven until fork tender (2-1/2 to 4lbs roast for 2 to 3 hours, 325').

A great side dish to serve with your Pot Roast is my Lemon Roasted Potato Wedges.

Click link below for recipe:



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder for a brisk day or evening! This soup can be made a day ahead just do not add the clams until you are ready to eat it.


(medium chop all vegetables)

  • 2 Cups Onion
  • 2 Cups Celery
  • 2 Cups Carrots
  • 4 Cups Potato's
  • 1 to Quart Fresh Clam Juice (you can use canned if fresh is unavailable)
  • 1 pint (or more if you prefer) Fresh Large Shucked Clams Cut up
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Pepper
  • Butter
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Oyster Crackers

Saute the onions with 1/2 stick butter in a large stock pot or soup pot until almost tender (this can be done while you are chopping the rest of your vegetables).

Add Celery, Carrots, Potato's, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes or until almost tender.

Add Clam Juice, cook for another 10 minutes until vegetable are nice and tender.

While the soup is cooking make your Roux. Melt 1/2 stick butter in pan, when melted and hot add one cup of flour all at once. Whisk and cook for three minutes. This cooks out the raw flour taste.

Add to the Roux a cup of soup broth, whisk (this prevents lumps in your soup). Add Roux mixture to your soup and stir to thicken.

Hint: If you find your soup is too thick you can add a little at a time more liquid, water, chicken broth or more clam broth if you have it.

Add your clams right before you are ready to eat so they do not over cook and get tough. Add clams, cook long enough to heat the clams through.

Serve topped with Parsley and Oyster Crackers.


Tip Of The Day: Roux Made Easy!

Roux is used as a thickener. Basically two ingredients Flour and Butter or Oil.

If you are making soup and need to thicken the broth that has one to one and a half quarts of liquid. Take 8 tablespoons butter melt in saute or fry pan. Add one cup flour all at once. Whisk and cook for three minutes. This removes the raw taste of the flour.

Add a cup or so of hot broth and whisk (this prevents lumps). Add roux into your soup, stir to thicken.

If you need to thicken some sauce for meat or gravy: Use the drippings from the fry pan, add butter or oil if needed, add 1/4 cup flour, whisk and cook for 3 minutes (if making a larger amount of gravy use the recipe above). Add one can of broth whisk together and simmer for a couple minutes to reduce if needed. Season as you go with salt and pepper. Top with parsley.

If you have added too much flour you can thin it out by adding more broth a little at a time until desired thickness.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Raspberry & Chocolate Turnovers Made Easy!

Raspberry & Chocolate Turnovers:


  • 1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed to room temperature.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup raspberry jam
  • 3 1/2 oz good quality milk chocolate, finely chopped, or use chocolate chips.

Pre heat oven to 425 - place rack just below middle section of oven (not at the bottom).

You will need two large baking sheets lines with parchment paper.

On lightly floured surface roll out one of the pastry sheets to a 12 x 12 inch square with a rolling pin.

Cut into 16 squares.

Whisk one egg and set aside (add a pinch of salt).

Place 1/2 teaspoon jam and 1 teaspoon chopped chocolate into the center of each square.

Brush the edges of the pastry with some of the egg.

Fold each square in half to make a triangle pocket. Pinch edges together to seal.

Brush pocket/turnover with egg. Place first tray in fridge to chill while you finish the second.

Switch the trays and bake off the chilled one for 20 minutes turning tray 1/2 way through cooking time (10 minutes).

Cool on sheets, serve warm.

This easy recipe can be made up ahead of time. Just keep them in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

Prep time 20 mins. Total time about 45 mins.

Makes 32 or (16 small turnovers per pastry sheet).


Tip Of The Day: Need Quick Dessert? Grilled Pineapple In A Snap!

Need a quick dessert?

Grilled Pineapple is made easy!

You need sliced pineapple. Either fresh or from the can (in it's own juice) both work just fine. Fresh pineapple can yield thicker slices if you prefer. The canned version is fine also you would just use a couple rings per serving.

Heat Grill, Grill Pan, or Skillet. Spray Grill or Grill Pan with oil. Add two tablespoons butter if using a skillet. When butter foams up add your pineapple.

Grill or saute pineapple until lightly browned with nice grill marks. Turn.

Remove to serving plate, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Drizzle with chocolate syrup or favorite sauce. Serve immediately.

Pineapple has a ton of natural sugar and when grilled this is released and makes it taste even sweeter when it caramelizes.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Tip Of The Day: Buying and Storing Tomato's

Try to buy your Tomato's with the stem on.

Buying Tomato's with the stem on, greenhouse grown, vine-ripened and herbicide free with give you a better tasting longer lasting Tomato!

Also, never put your Tomato's in the refrigerator! This ruins the just picked off the vine taste and believe it or not, they will not last as long as sitting on the counter at room temperature.

One of my favorites is the Campari Tomato. Smaller in size and just enough for a single serving sliced for a sandwich. No waste!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How Do You Hold Your Wine Glass?

The proper way to hold your wine glass is:

If you are drinking white wine hold the glass by the stem. This prevents your warm hand from warming your cold white wine.

If you are drinking red wine hold the glass just above the stem. Red wine is served warmer than white.


Tip Of The Day: Keep Your Knives Sharp!

Keeping your kitchen knives sharp makes your life much easier. Your local kitchen store carries little hand held knife sharpeners. Most have a handle with a guard to protect your fingers. Your electric can opener may have a knife sharpener built in also.

You should sharpen all your knives once a month. It makes slicing, dicing and chopping much easier.

You are more likely to cut yourself using a dull knife than a sharp one!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tip Of The Day: Better Tasting Can Frostings

To get a better tasting supermarket can frosting add a little flavoring!

For can frosting or whipped cream just add a hint of Real Vanilla Extract or Almond Extract, mix in. Your cakes, cupcakes and desserts will taste like you have made homemade frosting! And it tastes better too!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is a great quick dip for that last minute guest or party.


  • 3 to 4 Slices of Roasted Red Peppers (found at the supermarket)
  • 1/2 Cup Good Feta Cheese
  • 1 Can Chick Pea's
  • One Large Garlic Clove (peeled and cut in 1/2)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Chopped Parsley

In your food processor add Chick Pea's, Feta Cheese, 3 to 4 slices of roasted red pepper, garlic, salt and pepper.

Pulse while adding Olive Oil. Pour into serving bowl and garnish with parsley.

Serve with pita bread slices or crackers.

If you need more dip, this recipe is easily doubled and can be stored in a food safe container in the fridge. You can also make this the day before.



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