Prosciutto, Parmesan & Pine Nut Stuffing

My mom, like so many mothers, is a wonderful cook and always willing to share a recipe with me. Sometimes we’ll talk about a party menu like two giddy teenage girls rehashing a homecoming dance. “Do you know what were a huge hit? The stuffed mushrooms! They were so easy to make that I was embarrassed to take the complement”. So, it’s no surprise this came from my mom as she has years of experience and an ocean of food loving friends that like to share their ideas, tips, and recipes with one another. She isn’t sure of the exact origin but thinks it came from a Minneapolis newspaper…”I think I got it from Janet Miller, she got it out of a newspaper.” Continue reading “Prosciutto, Parmesan & Pine Nut Stuffing”

Simple Crispy Cookies


I’m a simple person and I enjoy simple things, especially simple recipes. It occurred to me that some of the best food has the fewest ingredients. Fresh whipped cream sweetened every so slightly with a bit of sugar. A summer garden tomato sliced thick with a dash of salt. A piece of fresh-baked bread with a pat of butter.

 This recipe is as simple as simple can be, and very delicious. I made these cookies several times over the holidays and have been finding excuses to make them ever since. Even if you don’t like to bake give these a try.
I found the original recipe on Food 52 and modified slightly making them even easier. White chocolate is incredibly sensitive to heat therefore proceed with caution when melting to avoid scorching the chocolate. By using a white chocolate chip  rather than plain white chocolate, the cookies setup faster and they don’t get “gooey” at room temperature. Not having to chop the chocolate is a bonus too. Don’t skimp on the brand of white chocolate chips, use the best you can find to insure great flavor.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
2 bags (22 oz.)  Ghirardelli White Chocolate chips (or other quality brand)
1 1/2 cup salted, roasted party peanuts
3 1/4 cup Rice Crispy cereal
  • Using a double boiler gently melt the white chocolate chips
  • Remove from the heat and fold in the peanuts
  • Mix in the cereal until combined
  • Using a tablespoon drop the cookies on a lined baking sheet
  • Refrigerate or freeze until set
  • store on the counter in an airtight container
Double Boiler
Double Boiler
Melted White Chocolate
Melted White Chocolate

Vegetarian Chili

Veggetarian Chili
Vegetarian Chili

I am trying to redeem myself after all of my unhealthy posts (ah-hem…monster cookies, peanut butter mousse, carrot cake) Clearly I have a wicked sweet tooth, but in my defense much of what I make are gifts for others.

This recipe is nothing new or inventive, however, it was easy to make as I had everything in my pantry/fridge. It is a healthful option to traditional Chili and surprisingly satisfying. I was also able to bring the left-overs to work for lunch the next day.

This should serve about 2 – 4 people

Mise en place
1 – 2 cans of black beans (or pinto or kidney, whatever you have), drained & rinsed
2 cans of diced tomato, do not drain
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T.+ chili powder
1 t.+  cumin
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
3/4 can frozen corn (fill your empty bean can with the corn)
1/2 can water (fill your empty tomato can with water)
Olive oil – enough to coat the pan
S/P to taste
Sour cream and shredded cheese to garnish – optional

  • In a large sauce pan saute the onion in oil until soft, about 4 min.
  • add the garlic and saute for 1 minute
  • add the chili powder, cumin, red pepper and saute another minute
  • Add the beans, tomato, water and corn. Season with s/p to taste
  • Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  • Garnish with some lite sour cream and 2% milk shredded cheddar.


Carrot Cake & the 6″ round

Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting

I consider the 6″ round cake the golden section of baking…(work with me here). It is the perfect size, feeds a large group, easy to make, and visually appealing. I studied Architecture and can’t help but make comparisons between baking and design/construction.

Baby Shower Carrot Cake

The most important ingredient of any get-together is the people. I think this cake did a nice job of capturing the spirit of a sophisticated group of ladies who gathered together on a cold Saturday to celebrate the arrival of a delicate new baby girl.

Baby Shower Carrot Cake - cut

Carrot Cake
pre-heat the oven to 350 F, and prepare pans
5 eggs
8 oz (1 c.)canola oil
17 oz. sugar (by weight)
3/4 t. salt
11-1/4 oz bread flour (by weight)
1-3/4 T. cinnamon
1/2 t. all spice
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1 lbs. peeled & grated carrots (or zucchini)

  • Whip the eggs until light
  • slowly add the sugar
  • Gradually add the oil
  • Sift (or dump in a bowl and whisk) the dry ingredients together in a bowl
  • Grate the carrots (if you have a Cuisinart this is your best bet)
  • Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and then add the carrots.
  • Bake in one 10″ round pan or 2 – 6″ rounds (you’ll have extra, simply bake the rest in a loaf pan and freeze for your next brunch).

Cream Cheese Frosting
12 oz., softened cream cheese (1-1/2 blocks at room temp.)
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temp (1 stick)
1 t. vanilla or 1/2 of a vanilla bean
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt 

  • Cream the cream cheese and butter
  • Add powdered sugar and whip
  • Add extract and whip until fluffy.

No more store-bought bread

It sounds impossible, completely impractical and quite frankly, too difficult. After giving this recipe the same criticism, I gave it a shot…and then fell completely in love. Even if you have never made a yeast bread please try this and share your results. I’d love to hear what you think!

A close friend of my parents, John Fitzpatrick, introduced to me this Cooks Illustrated recipe. John is a passionate bread maker and I trust his recipes, I know you will too.


Mise en place
3 Cups all-purpose or bread flour (15 oz. by weight)
1/4 t. yeast
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
3/4 c. + 2 T. (7 fl. oz.)room temp water
1/4 c. + 2 T. beer (fl. 3 oz.) room temp.
1 T. vinegar

Whisk together the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the water, beer and vinegar. Fold together the mixture scraping the dry flour from the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temp for 8 – 18 hours

Lay a large sheet of parchment in a 10 in. skillet pan and spray the paper with cooking spray. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead 15 times. Shape the dough into a ball by cupping your hands at the top of the ball and pulling it toward you, repeat 3 – 5 times to shape the ball. Spray the dough lightly with cooking spray. Cover loosely with the plastic wrap and let it rise at room temp for 2 hours or until the dough does not spring back when poked with a finger.

About 30 minutes before baking, adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, place a large dutch oven with the lid on the rack, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. When the bread is done rising lightly flour the top, then using a sharp nife score the top with a 6 inch long slit about 1/2 inch deep. Remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Lift the parchment and dough into the pot, let the excess parchment hang over the edge. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Reduce the temp to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake 20 – 30 minutes longer or until the bread is a deep brown color. Remove the bread from the pot and let cool at room temp for 2 hours.

Black Bean + Chorizo Soup

I made a batch of this soup last weekend and froze half of it to have on hand for a quick lunch/dinner at a later time. This is a slightly modified version of a recipe I found years ago in Gourmet magazine. It is a hearty, satisfying and filling soup that goes great with corn bread, salad, grilled tortillas or a grilled cheese. I prefer to use organic black beans as the sodium content is much lower than regular canned beans.

Black Bean + Chorizo Soup
Black Bean + Chorizo Soup

Mise en place
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
8 oz. link of Chorizo sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 t. cumin
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
32 oz. carton plus 1 can of low sodium chicken broth
5 cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed.

Accompaniments: chopped cilantro and sour cream

  • In a large dutch oven, heat a drizzle of olive oil and saute the chorizo until cooked through.
  • Remove the chorizo from the pan and set aside.
  • Add another drizzle of olive oil and saute the onion, pepper, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes and s/p (to taste), until the veggies are softened – about 10 min. 
  • Next add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the beans and broth and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the s/p as needed.
  • Using a potato masher or hand blender, mash the beans to release some of the starch making a creamy texture. I prefer a rustic texture and therefore do not mix too much.
  • Stir occasionally and continue to simmer uncovered, until the soup thickens and flavor develops – about another 30 minutes.
  • Serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro.