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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Cooking Show--Tomato Recipes

I feel like I beat this subject to death...but am I the only one who wants to skip right through winter and into summer?

I'm not even going to pretend that winter tomatoes can compare to summer tomatoes...but cooking with ingredients that remind me of summer is one way to beat the winter blues.  Bring on the tomato recipes!

So simple, yet so good!  The assorted tiny tomatoes are very sweet and flavorful, drizzled with a creamy buttermilk dressing...I can close my eyes and almost feel like summer is here.  Almost.

A couple of tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes in the dressing provide a big punch of flavor!

Creamy Tuscan Shrimp with Pasta

Another recipe where a handful of sun-dried tomatoes add a wallop of flavor!

My friend, Trish, was cooking with me and we discussed adding a few mushrooms in...we ultimately decided against this, but next time I make this recipe I'm planning on adding some 'shrooms!

 Oatmeal Sheetcake with Caramel/Coconut Frosting

Okay, this recipe certainly departs from our tomato theme, but Dan the Awesome Cameraman is a fan of all things sweet. We haven't filmed a dessert since November and I want to keep him happy!

This dense cake is oozing with cinnamon flavor, and the caramel topping (perfectly browned by placing the frosted cake under the broiler for a minute) adds a crunchy texture.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Recipes for the New Year

Happy New Year!

The idea for our latest cooking show was sparked during a recent trip to the supermarket.  Another shopper noticed the spaghetti squash in my cart and started asking questions:

"Is that a spaghetti squash? What are you going to make? How do you cook it?"

It only took me a few minutes to answer her questions.  It was her final comment that caused the rusty gears in my head to start turning: "It sounds easy enough.  I guess I just need to branch out and try new things."

Hmmm, I thought to myself, the next cooking show could revolve around that theme.  We all get stuck in a rut now and then.

Maybe you've never cooked spaghetti squash before, or maybe you're looking for a twist to your usual prep methods --like baking slices of eggplant parm individually, instead of frying and layering them casserole-style. My friend, Joanie, joined me for this show.  At the end of the night she declared, "I think I may have found my new go-to recipe for eggplant parm!"

It seemed fitting that we should pop open a bottle of bubbly to toast 2018! We added a handful of fresh raspberries and a few spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream to create Bubbly Raspberry Cocktails. Mmmmm.

Click here for the printable recipe.

We jumped right into preparing our first dish.  We made our sauce while the spaghetti squash was roasting, and then shredded the squash and served it right in the shells.

{{Are you laughing at these pictures?  I forgot to take pictures after we finished cooking! We were already digging in and filling our plates when I suddenly remembered that I needed to snap a few photos for this blog. Instead of asking everyone to freeze what they were doing so that I could grab my DSLR camera to try and take photos, I made do with my iPhone. On my best day, I take horrendous photos. THESE photos, however...yikes.  Please accept my apologies!}}

There is so much going on here.   Sautéed chicken cutlets, bow tie pasta, wild mushrooms.  The mushroom/wine sauce is heavenly...and crumbling crispy pancetta on top sends over the top!

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Skip the frying and layering.  This recipe for eggplant parm is quick compared to the traditional method, and this platter was the one that was empty at the end of our cooking session!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Cooking Show: Holiday Treats!

We filmed an episode of the cooking show last week.  'Tis the season, so I tried to feature recipes that are special enough for the holidays, but I didn't want them to scream, "CHRISTMAS!!" 

You can confidently prepare these recipes for a special occasion, yet they are easy enough to make that you may want to add them to your usual rotation!

 Cranberry-Pistachio Cake Bars

Fresh cranberries and whole pistachios add festive pops of red and green. There is no leavening agent in these bars (whipping the eggs provides the volume), and the combination of the dense texture, tart cranberries and crunchy sugar on top is a winning combination!

Click here for the printable recipe.

So simple to make: equal parts chocolate liqueur, salted caramel Baileys®, light cream and milk. 

You can prepare one or two in a cocktail shaker or make 'em by the pitcher like we did!  Dip the rims of the glasses into caramel syrup and toffee bits, add a swirl of chocolate syrup on the bottom of the glass. Don't forget the whipped cream on top!

I was sort of debating whether or not to use the toffee bits on the rims...the toffee has a tendency to slowly slide down the side of the glass.  Each and every one of us licked our glasses clean, however!

I may have used a spoon to fish out the bits that sank into the syrup in the bottom of the glass.

 Snow-Capped Molasses Cookies

This is one of those recipes where the results are so much more spectacular than the effort you put in!  

The batter doesn't require any chill time--just mix, scoop and bake. They are crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and sweet with a hint of spice.  Dip them into white chocolate after they've cooled.  Cookie perfection!

Click here for the printable recipe.

 Gingerbread Dutch Baby Pancake

Incredibly easy and quick.  You will have the ingredients mixed and ready to go while your oven is still heating up.

 Festive Fruit Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Such a fabulous contradiction of flavors!  Sweet, sour, minty and a tiny drizzle of the vinaigrette really puts it over the top.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cooking Show: Oatmeal is NOT Boring!!

We recently filmed a cooking show with an oatmeal theme.  Good old-fashioned oats!

It seems like refrigerated oats have been an overnight sensation (see what I did there? tee-hee) for the past few years.

I simply can not reconcile cold, chalky refrigerated oats with the warm, creamy oats that I love. Don't even try to convert me. You may have managed to convince yourself that your overnight refrigerated oats are creamy, but if I truly want something cold and creamy I will reach for yogurt, thank you very much.

I've tried to embrace overnight refrigerated oats but I had to finally jump off of that bandwagon because one person's creamy is another person's chalky (hint: that other person is ME).  

Overnight oats in a slow-cooker, however?  Yes, please!!

Chop a couple of apples (no peeling necessary!), toss them into your slow cooker, measure in the remaining ingredients (no further prep work required) and stir.  Set your slow cooker to LOW and when you wake up your breakfast will be warm and waiting for you!  Give it another quick stir then add some nuts, raisins and a swirl of maple syrup.

Same minimal prep as the Apple/Cinnamon oats, but rather than chopping apples you need the special skill of opening up a can of pumpkin puree. Measure all of the ingredients into the slow cooker, stir, and let it cook while you sleep.

All that is required of you when you wake up is to stir it again...

...and add a few toppings.  Chopped nuts and raisins add nice texture!  Stir in a bit of brown sugar for sweetness, or add a swirl of maple syrup.

If you prefer your oats in the form of a muffin instead, we've got you covered!

If you're like me, you probably don't have time in the morning to bake a batch of muffins for breakfast.  I bake these muffins whenever my schedule allows and freeze them!  Pull them out of your freezer as needed, defrost them in your microwave (it only takes less than a minute), and now you have another quick (and warm!) breakfast item to add to your repertoire.

Packed with protein (thanks to peanut butter), these muffins get their sweetness from bananas and honey and are free of processed sugars. They can be gluten-free as well if you use gluten-free oats!

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

These are my favorite muffins!  Oats, applesauce, much yumminess in one muffin.  Click here for the printable recipe.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Our Latest Cooking Show: Soup's On!!

My summer cooking involves a lot of grilling!  I'll do anything to avoid spending time in the kitchen when it's hot outside.

However, now that the temperature is dropping, I've been making up for lost time by cooking all of the things I've been avoiding during the warmer weather.

Here's a dinner photo from earlier this month.  I was so excited when the temperature dipped and I was finally able to spend time in the kitchen without worrying about how hot and steamy it would get.  Three soups at once, I may have gone a little overboard...

But all that soup-making was the inspiration for our recent cooking show!

My friend, Lisa, cooked alongside me.  We started with a cocktail.  Why settle for an apple martini when you can add caramel vodka and turn it into a Caramel Apple-Tini?

This soup would be right at the top of my list of comfort foods.

Loaded with shredded veggies & chicken, a touch of cream and an assortment of herbs, I suggest making a double batch so that you have lots of leftovers.  This is one of those soups that is even better the next day!  Sitting in your fridge overnight gives the herbs (and fennel seed!) time to infuse even more flavor.

Roasting the tomatoes really deepens their flavor.  There's really not a lot of work involved with this recipe! After halving and roasting the tomatoes along with onions & garlic, you throw everything into your blender and then simmer it with herbs.

These Ham and Cheese Puff Pinwheels were a big hit.

The contrast between the flaky puff pastry, the crispy ham and melting cheese make them a perfect accompaniment for tomato soup!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pumpkin Spice Cooking Show

I can't say that I enjoy the pumpkin spice EVERYTHING assault that occurs as September rolls around. I grudgingly have to admit, however, that I do look forward to cooking pumpkin recipes--and to the yummy smell of pumpkin/cinnamon wafting through my house!

We filmed a cooking show last week which featured pumpkin spice recipes. 

My friend, Lisa, cooked with me.  We both agreed that this pumpkin craziness is a 21st century creation.  

My only childhood memory of pumpkin food is pumpkin pie...displayed on the dessert table at Thanksgiving, 40-50 family members digging into blueberry or apple or pecan or lemon meringue or chocolate pie.  Tradition called for pumpkin pie, however. Year after year, my aunt would dutifully bake pumpkin pie (and mincemeat.  What the heck is mincemeat?  I digress...) and there it would sit, forlorn and unloved while all of the tastier pies were snarfed down.  The memory of untouched pumpkin pies remains seared in my memory!

Lisa and I cooked up a bunch of pumpkin recipes...NONE of which remained untouched!

We started with Pumpkin Waffles.  Topped with warm maple syrup, whipped cream, raisins...I may have served these for dinner on a recent chilly night...they're not only for breakfast!

These are so good.  

Make extra and freeze them.  So easy to pop into your microwave to defrost and heat!  Trust me on this.  Cold, dark, dreary mornings are fast approaching and you'll be grateful to have a stash of these muffins in your freezer to quickly warm up and nibble on while you sip your morning brew.

Click here for the printable recipe.

We've featured this drink on a previous cooking show, but it bears repeating!  Garnish with a cinnamon stick and marshmallows.  Don't forget the marshmallows!  They get all soft and squishy and yummy in the bottom of the glass.  

Click here for the printable recipe.

Lisa and I had fun layering bits of cookies, brownies, graham crackers...but when all is said and done, it is the mousse that is the star of this recipe.

You may just want to serve 'em up straight!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cooking with Kids! Taco Boats, Muffin Tin Pizzas, Apple Faux-nuts, and Mason Jar Lid Blueberry Pies

Our most recent cooking show featured kid-friendly recipes.  Recipes that were fun to prepare, and fun to eat!

I was joined by Emily and Lily, two 10-year-olds who happily assembled our recipes with very little assistance.

We started with Taco Boats.  We layered cooked rice and seasoned chicken into tortilla "boats," then popped them into the oven for a few minutes to heat them up.   After removing them from the oven we topped them with chopped avocado, tomatoes and a sprinkling of cilantro.

Hmm...I wrote "we" but it would have been more truthful to say "Emily and Lily."  I stood and watched while they did all of the assembling! 

The only prep that I did was to cook the rice in advance and prep the chicken (which means I removed and chopped up the meat from a cooked rotisserie chicken).  So easy!

Next up were Muffin Tin Mini Pizzas.  

I used a cookie cutter to cut mini "crusts" from flour tortillas, then placed them into a muffin tin.  

I then took a step back and watched as Lily and Emily took over and filled them up with their favorite toppings!

Football season is finally here, and these mini-pizzas are a great appetizer to serve when you're watching the game.  Go Patriots!

Yes, we baked these pies inside mason jar lids!  Emily and Lily cut the mini-crusts from ready-made pie crusts. 

I'm glad I remembered to snap a few photos because after they cooled down they were the first thing to disappear!

I sliced a few apples into rings, and then Lily and Emily took over and frosted and decorated the "donuts." This was my favorite recipe of the night...I managed to snag one that had berry cream cheese topped with blueberries and coconut chips.  A winning combo!

It also gave us the chance to use marshmallows, which are always a hit when cooking with kids!