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rainbow summer salad

This salad is so beautiful, full of color and healthy goodness. The glistening arils from pomegranates, the red chewy dried cranberry, the creamy richness of avocado, the crunch and spicy bite of the pepitas – oh my!

Salad with Crasins, Avocado, Candied Spiced Pepitas and Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

I use the one-pound box of greens from Costco, their “half and half” mix, half baby spinach and half colorful spring mix.

costoc greens

Any lettuce or combination of greens you prefer work just fine. Be sure to use a full pound though, this is a “big” salad! Once the dressing is added to the greens, the salad won’t keep for long, so be sure to wait until the last minute to put it all together.

I use my Candied Spiced Pepitas. These Candied Almonds would be wonderful too.

Quick Tip: This vinaigrette uses sesame seeds. Store sesame seeds in the refrigerator. Those little things go rancid in a hurry if they are stored at room temperature.

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September 3, 2013   4 Comments

Herb Crêpes Eggs Benedict Florentine

crepe eggs benedict florentine

I admit it, this recipe looks VERY intimidating. It is long. There are many components. It looks complicated. But I PROMISE it is not hard to do. In fact, it is a wonderful special occasion entertaining dish. For a crowd, no less!

How is that possible, you ask?

It is because none of the components are difficult and all but one can be done 1 or 2 days in advance. So in reality, it comes together quickly and seamlessly at the end.

Even the final, last minute component, the Hollandaise sauce, is foolproof. I know, you may be ready to quit reading right now… Hollandaise Sauce – Absolutely Not!

But really it is foolproof! No stove is involved! All you need is a blender. You’re still skeptical? This sauce comes from Chef Tyler Florence. It works perfectly and is easy as can be, I may never make traditional Hollandaise sauce again!

too small

As I was beginning to make the crêpes in my usual crêpe-pan, I decided that they were too small, so I switched to a larger skillet. This was a personal choice, if you don’t have a medium size skillet (about 10-inches across the top) a smaller regular crêpe-pan is fine. Above you can see the two pans I’m talking about, and below the difference in the crêpe sizes.

difference

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April 3, 2013   1 Comment

the skinny Greek

I had planned to tell you about my weekend but I haven’t had time to get the photos put together. Instead, how about another recipe for our new “skinny” category today?

skinny greek

Skinny Greek Salad

Roasted Grape Tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Pam non-stick cooking spray
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Oil-Free Greek Dressing
Juice from roasting tomatoes (from above)
Zest from 1 small lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Chicken
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Salad
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons thinly sliced and chopped red onion
1 head Romaine lettuce; torn into bite-size pieces, washed and spun dry

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March 18, 2013   No Comments

salting beef

salt

When I have the time, I like to salt my beef and let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. If I have even more time (and remember – that’s really the hard part – remembering!) I prefer to salt it overnight.

You may have heard or been taught to not salt beef until just before cooking. That can be true too.  I know, it’s so contradictory and confusing. Instead of trying to explain it myself, I am going to direct you to THIS ARTICLE, which explains the science of it perfectly, and also tells you what NOT to do when salting beef.

This is good information, don’t be lazy, be sure to check it out!

herbs

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March 16, 2013   No Comments

a savory cheesecake

This is the perfect appetizer to make for your family or take to a party this holiday season. It comes together easily. It can and should be made ahead of time. It’s pretty and makes an impressive presentation. Plus, it feeds a crowd!

Herbed Cheesecake

Crust
3/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Filling
16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
11 ounce log goat cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil) drained and finely chopped
1  1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Garnish
Fresh dill sprigs
4 cherry tomatoes, halved and, if desired, roasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch spring form pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with a piece of parchment or foil and spray the top of the paper as well. Triple wrap the spring form with heavy-duty foil, coming up the sides and nearly to the top.

Crust: Place the pecans and bread crumbs in the bowl of a food processor and blend until pecans are finely chopped, add the melted butter and turn on machine until the mixture begins to come together.

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December 11, 2012   4 Comments

spa vinaigrette

As celebration for another great year at Les Gourmettes Cooking School, Barb treated me and Kim to a spa day. It was scheduled for early June, but I got food poisoning the night before and could not go with them. Barb, sweetly scheduled another date for after my summer classes at Les Petites Gourmettes, and she and I had a great time a week ago at the Willow Springs Spa at the Scottsdale Princess. After our treatments, we enjoyed a delicious lunch. We each ordered the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad. It was your basic Cobb, with the exception of the the herb vinaigrette… which was outstanding.  I asked the waiter if the chef might be willing to share the recipe. I gave him my email, and sure enough, within an hour of arriving home, it popped into my inbox.

I cut the recipe he sent in half. You may want to cut in half again, it still makes over 3 cups, and although that is a lot, it is delicious on more than just salads. I drizzled it on hot fresh corn on the cob and as the dressing for a tomato-mozzarella salad. Both were fabulous.

You can wing it with the herb quantities if you don’t have a scale or just don’t feel like weighing everything, nothing has to be exact. Look at the photo I posted of all the herbs and it will give you a good idea of the amounts needed of each. I can tell you that 1.25-ounces of chives is two of those little herb boxes you get in the produce section. You can take it from there.

Thank you, Barb, for a relaxing and luxurious day – what a generous gift and treat! xoxo

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July 30, 2012   5 Comments

almond spread

I purchased one too many package of fresh pizza dough from Trader Joe’s last week for classes. I also had a few extra onions on hand and I always have plenty of herbs in the garden. Pretty much a no-brainer as to what to make with that dough, but I really didn’t want to use cheese or make a sauce.  Then I remembered a foccacia I’d had in California that had an savory almond paste as the “sauce” – almonds, herbs, and caramelized onions… YES!

This did not turn out to be the prettiest focaccia I’ve ever seen or made, but my husband, son, and dad will attest to the fact that is darn tasty! One way to add a bit more color would be to sprinkle on the herbs after it comes out of the oven instead of before it goes in … so, yeah … do that!

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June 12, 2012   3 Comments

abbondanza

My cup runneth over… my three tomato plants are producing between one and two dozen tomatoes each and every day.  It’s hard to keep up!

We are eating tomatoes at just about every meal, every day; under a poached egg on an English muffin for breakfast, on sandwiches for lunch, and mixed into something or another for dinner.  This pasta dish was especially popular with my guys.

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May 25, 2012   No Comments

vinegar + panko = succulent pork chops

Several techniques help keep these pork chops tender and juicy. First, pounding the chops thin helps the acid (vinegar) penetrate the meat right to the center. The vinegar not only acts as a tenderizer but also adds a delectable level of flavor. Next, by dredging in flour, egg, and panko – the juices are sealed in and a crispy delicious crust puts these chops over the top. Lastly, by using a instant-read meat thermometer, you are sure to not overcook.

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May 23, 2012   No Comments

luxurious spa waters

grape and citrus spa water

Image

After our luxurious and relaxing day at the Willow Spring Spa at the Scottsdale Princess Resort on Friday, the very first thing I wanted to do when I got back home was to make a huge pitcher of spa water. You know what I’m talking about – the glorious fruit and herb infused waters they always have available to you at a luxury spa.

My absolute favorite flavor is one that I call “Summer’s Splendor”.  To make it -  find as huge a pitcher or dispenser as will fit in your refrigerator. Throw in several handfuls of fresh basil leaves, peel and then thinly slice one English cucumber and add it to the basil. Then take 1 or 2 lemons, wash really well, thinly slice, and add to the mix. Fill the picture with cold water and refrigerate.

I like to make this just before I go to bed and then enjoy it for the next day or two. Be sure to give it a good 12 to 18 hours to macerate and let the flavors blend.

Below you’ll find another 12 flavor blends to give you a nice baker’s dozen.

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May 6, 2012   1 Comment