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Culinary Conversations and Randomness

Who's Picking Up Dinner Tonight?

March 19, 2018

The traditional role of housewife has been turned upside down in the last 15 years!  More families have two working parents, single parents or stay at home dads!!  Instead of family style dinners prepared at home, fast food, carry out, meal prep services and prepackaged foods are becoming the norm.  Try this easy and delicious recipe the next time you have a taste for home cooking.  Eating together as a family gives you time to communicate and catch up.  Preparing a meal with your kids or your partner can be therapeutic as well.  Take advantage of any opportunity to recreate the old school traditions of dinner time.  (**There is also rum in this recipe.  You're only using 2 ounces so drink the rest while you're waiting for the chicken to get done.  IJS.)


Caribbean Roasted Chicken

1 ½ tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 ounces rum

1 tbsp brown sugar

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

¼ ground clove

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp dried thyme leaves

1 tbsp salt

1 whole chicken

¼ cup olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, rum and brown sugar; set aside. Mix together the cayenne pepper, clove, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, salt and thyme leaves. Brush the chicken with olive oil, then coat with the spice mixture.

3. Place in a roasting pan and bake about 50 minutes, until the juices run clear or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches about 180 degrees F. Baste the chicken with the sauce every 20 minutes while it’s cooking. Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

**If you use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs for this recipe, simply combine all of the listed ingredients and coat each piece of chicken. Place in an olive oil or cooking spray coated pan and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees, or until juices run clear. Allow the chicken to rest 10 minutes before serving.



"What Can I Bring"?

March 22, 2018

In today's society, "bringing a dish" to a family function or party usually translates into chips and salsa.  Why not be the bell of your next ball by whipping up this fast and easy pasta salad.  The best thing about this dish is that it can be served warm or cold and has less than 10 ingredients!!


Southwestern Pasta Salad

2 rotisserie chicken breasts, skinned and chopped

4 cups cooked pasta

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup diced red onion

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can whole kernel corn, drained

1 cup light alfredo sauce

(Classico makes a great one)

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cook pasta per the instructions on the package, drain and set aside. Combine all of the ingredients except the cheese with pasta! Top with shredded parmesan cheese and serve warm or cold! Enjoy!!!






My Kid Won't Eat!

March 25, 2018

One of my favorite things about being a personal chef is preparing meals for my clients children.  All parents know that meal time can be frustrating and tricky.  Here is a great recipe and excerpt from my cookbook "My Kid Won't Eat" for you and your kids to prepare together.  Allowing children to partake in the selection of ingredients and the preparation of the meal will often motivate them to try new foods!!!  Lets bring the family back to the table...together!!  **My Kid Wont Eat will be available for sale on Amazon in Fall, 2018.


Kickin' Kabobs

10 “child friendly” skewers (soaked in water for 15 minutes)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1” cubes

1 16 oz. can pineapple chunks

1 pkg. cherry tomatoes

1 green pepper chopped in medium chunks

1 med. red onion chopped in medium chunks

Olive oil or cooking spray

½ cup ranch dressing (if desired)

Remove skewers from water and drain on a paper towel. In a heated skillet, drizzle a little olive oil to coat the bottom and cook the chicken breast for about 2 minutes on each side. *The chicken should not be cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken from the pan and drain on paper towels. Alternate between vegetables, chicken and pineapple to assemble the skewers. Coat a cookie sheet with olive oil or cooking spray and lay the skewers side by side. Drizzle olive oil or spray a little more cooking spray over the kabobs. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 25 minutes or until chicken and vegetables are done. Serve with ranch dressing.



What exactly is a “child friendly” skewer you may ask? In my house, it’s a popsicle stick that replaces the real skewer before it is served to a child.  However, I’m sure in our modern times there are skewers with rounded edges or something to prevent your kids from re-enacting Lord of the Rings at the dinner table. If you can’t find any, I say just pull the contents off of the skewer before serving.

Sweet Tarts For My Sweetheart!!

March 28, 2018

I love sweets!!!!  In my tumultuous single life I make sure that whomever I date loves sweets as well.  Serious deal breaker for me.  My current boyfriend likes tequila so of course key lime desserts came to mind today.  Lime and tequila go hand in hand but I'll take mine in a tasty tart because I'm not really a drinker.  Feel free to leave the liquor out and make them safe for the church picnic.  The recipe isn't super hard but remember folks....this is baking and not cooking.  One false move in a baking recipe can change the texture, taste and outcome of your dessert!  Good luck and happy baking!!!


Sweet Patron Key Lime Tarts

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

6 tbsp. butter, melted

5 tbsp. granulated sugar, divided

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup key lime juice

3 large egg yolks

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp lie zest (from 2 limes) divided

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4  cup tequila

key lime slices


Directions:


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place 12 jumbo size (3 1/2 inch) aluminum foil baking cups in a regular size muffin plan and coat with cooking spray.  Stir together graham cracker crumbs, coconut, melted butter and 4 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl until combined; firmly press onto bottom and upsides of each baking cup (about 3 rounded tablespoons of mixture per cup).  Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.  Keep oven set at 350 degrees.


Whisk together sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, egg yolks, tequila, salt and 1 tablespoon of the lime zest in a bowl until combined.  Pour mixture evenly into prepared crusts (about 1/4 cup per crust).  Bake until pies are just set, 12 to 14 minutes.  Cool completely about 1 hour.  Refrigerate 2 hours, and then remove aluminum foil baking cups before serving.


Beat heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium high speed until foamy.  Gradually add vanilla extract and remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Beat until medium peaks form.  Fold in remaining 1/2 teaspoon lime zest. Top each mini pie with a dollop of whipped cream, and garnish with a key lime slice!!



Can't Cook?  Bring The Drinks!!

March 29, 2018

Being a chef can be bittersweet when it comes to parties!!  None of my friends every want to contribute dishes because they feel that I will judge them.  I totally will!!!  If you find yourself empty handed, this simple Lemon Ginger Tea Punch will be a unique and delicious addition to any party!!


Lemon Ginger Tea Punch

5 lemon ginger tea bags

2 (750 ml) bottles Pinot Grigio

2 cups white grape juice

1 1/4 cup Limoncello

1 lemon - halved and thinly sliced

1 cup raspberries 


Directions:

Bring 2 1/4 cups cold water to a boil in a small sauce pan over high heat.  Add the tea bags and let steep for 10 minutes.  Remove the bags and discard.


Pour wine into a large container or pitcher.  Add tea, grape juice and Limoncello.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.


Prior to serving , add lemon slices and berries.  Serve over ice. Garnish with extra lemons and raspberries.



Eating For That Summer Body!!

April 15, 2018

Living in Cleveland, Ohio means unpredictable weather and the longest wait in history for summer to arrive.  The way I see it, we have about 3-5 more snow days and then summer will just "arrive"....totally skipping spring.  It's time to focus on that summer body folks.  Working out, eating right, cleansing and all of that.  Here is a quick and delicious Salmon Salad with Fresh Strawberries to get us all jump started!!!  **there is some type of Ecoli scare with romaine lettuce.  Make sure your lettuce is fresh, organic and Ecoli free.  You can use any lettuce you like except iceberg.  There's never a reason to eat iceberg lettuce.  You're welcome.


Pan Seared Salmon Salad w/Fresh Strawberries

3 oz boneless, skinless salmon

1/2 cup rinsed, sliced strawberries

Red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup feta cheese

Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Olive Oil

Sea salt

Pepper

Crushed Red Pepper

1 minced garlic clove

1 head/package of lettuce, washed and chopped 


Directions:


 In a medium skillet, warm 2 tbsp. of olive oil.  Add minced garlic, continuously stirring until the garlic browns.  Remove garlic and discard.  Season salmon on both sides with salt and pepper to your liking.  Cook salmon for approximately 7 minutes on each side, until it is completely done and has no translucent flesh.  Once salmon is done, remove from skillet and set aside to cool.  


In a medium bowl, combine lettuce, cheese, strawberries, feta, crushed red pepper (to taste), red onion and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Toss until ingredients are well mixed and coated with dressing.  


Place salad mixture on a plate and top with salmon.  Bon appetite!


**salmon may also be prepared in the oven or on the grill


Summer Detox Water

April 15, 2018

**BONUS BLOG**


Ok guys, you have the summer salad recipe below so let's add some delicious detox waters as well since we are getting our summer bodies ready!!!  I'm just going to list some fruit/veggie combos and what their purposes are when combined.  Feel free to mix and match to create your own detox water recipes!!


Lemon, lime & orange:  This combo flushes toxins, aids in digesting and boosts your immune system.


Grapefruit & apple:  Aids in weight loss, lowers cholesterol, helps with digestion and boosts immune system.  Apples have also been linked to fighting cancers.


Cucumber:  Boosts immunity, promotes energy, eases anxiety and stress.


Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries:  These berries fight flab and prevent disease.  The antioxidants reduce inflammation, fight certain cancers and also flush toxins.


Mint:  Mint calms and soothes.  It is known to ease stomach aches and aids in digesting.  Mint has also been used to fight depression, nausea and headaches.


Cinnamon:  Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar, relieves arthritis pain, strengthens metabolism and improves brain function.


Ginger:  The best anti-inflammatory and soothes the intestinal tract, alleviating digesting issues.


HELPFUL HINTS:


*use alkaline or hydrogen infused water

*after 2-3 refills, replace fruit with fresh cuts

*slightly twist mint before adding it to water to release oils and flavor

*chill water overnight but don't leave fruit in your container for more than 24 hours before switching it out

*make large batches and divide into mason jars for easy access

*remove lemons after 8 hours because they get bitter


HAPPY HYDRATING!!!!



Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

April 16, 2018

Sauce:

Ma Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce (found in the international aisle of the grocery store)


1 lb chicken breast, diced

1 8oz can drained, sliced water chestnuts

1/4 cup red pepper, chopped

1/4 cup kale, rinsed

1/4 cup Chinese mushrooms, rinsed and chopped

salt

pepper

scallions

1 head butter lettuce or living lettuce (if you can find it)

Olive oil


In a medium skillet, add olive oil, chicken, salt and pepper.  Cook chicken until completely done and juices are clear when you cut into it.  Add kale, red pepper and water chestnuts and cook until tender.  Add mushrooms.  Remove chicken mixture from skillet and place in a bowl to cool down.


Rinse and separate lettuce leaves.  Dry each with a paper towel and set aside.


Place 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture in each lettuce leave and place side by side on a plate (as pictured).  Drizzle lettuce wraps with Ma Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce and garnish with chopped scallions!!


**I served my lettuce wraps with pieces of warm naan.  Again, found at most grocery stores.  You can also serve with jasmine rice.

10 Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods

July 2, 2018

I know first hand about the battle of inflammation.  From last years meniscus surgery to being on my feet 16 plus hours per day, I keep up with any natural remedies to fight this pesky condition.  Here are the top 10 favorites for me!!!


CHERRIES:

Both sweet and tart varieties lower C-reactive protein, one of the key indicators used to test for inflammation.


SALMON:  

Omega 3 fats DHA and EPA play a key roll in suppressing inflammation and boosting production of anti-inflammatory compounds.


BROCCOLI:

The phytochemicals in broccoli fight inflammatory compounds associated with cancer development.


SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS:

Lowers inflammatory markers and improves immune system function.


EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL:

Contains anti-inflammatory suppressing compound, oleocanthal, plus small amounts of Omega 3s.


AVOCADO:

Two fold benefits of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.


TUMERIC:

Curcumin is the powerful compound in tumeric that eases symptoms in almost all inflammation related conditions.


TOMATOES:

Full of lycopene, tomatoes suppress and reduce inflammation.


SPINACH:

Spinach offers a mix of antioxidants that boost the immune system and suppress inflammation.


STRAWBERRIES:

Loded with anthocyanins and antioxidants called ellagitannins, they sweep up harmful free radicals that promote inflammation.




Sweet Potato Pie

December 5, 2018

If you know me personally (or any other chef for that matter) you know that we think no one makes anything better than we do!!  In my case, it's true!!  LOL   Now you too can be a star in the pie baking division if you follow my instructions to the letter.  First things first...GET A FOOD PROCESSOR!!!  Not a blender, not a Vitamix but a food processor.  Target sells a great Black and Decker option that is about $40.00


The Only Sweet Potato Pie Recipe You'll Ever Need

1 package Marie Callendar Deep Dish Pie Shells (I don't always feel like making crust and hers is delicious)  Two come in a pack!

3 large sweet potatoes

1 can condensed milk (you will only use 1/2 of this)

1/2 stick softened butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tbsp. nutmeg

2 tbsp. vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 heaping tbsp. all purpose flour


Bake potatoes on 350 degrees for 1 hour or until completely tender.  Pierce with a knife or skewer to check.  Once done, remove potatoes and let them cool for 15 minutes.


Once potatoes cool down, peel them and chop them small enough to go into your food processor, leaving space for the other ingredients.


Add all ingredients to your food processor.  Be sure to only use 1/2 can of condensed milk to start.  Turn the food processor to "on", not "pulse" and let it run for at least 40 seconds.  Stir mixture and scrape the sides to make sure that there are no lumps or unmixed ingredients.  If the mixture appears too thick, add more condense milk until it thins and mix for an additional 20 seconds.


Once mixture is done, pour even amounts into the 2 pie shells and bake for 1 hour on 350 degrees.  Pies should be firm but not hard when you take them out of the oven  Do not overcook them.  Enjoy with whipped cream or just eat it as is!!!


Send me feedback and pictures at [email protected] and I will post the on my social media accounts!!