"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekly Menu Dec. 15th - Dec. 21st

Seared Shrimp served on a bed of Manchego Cheese Grits
Baby Greens Salad with a Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette

"Make your own Pizza Night"
Chopped Salad with a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette

Lamb Ragu with Charred Onions and Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Shallots

Pan-seared Salmon with Herb Butter and Green Lentils
Asparagus with Sweet Red Peppers

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Shredded Radicchio and Kale Slaw, Sesame Vinaigrette

Chinese Vegetable Stir-Fry
Brown Rice with Green Onions

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Braised Wild Mushrooms and Red Wine Demi
Fingerling Potatoes with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Rosemary
Wedge Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Weekly Menu, Dec. 8th - Dec. 14th

Dinner at the Fosters'; Jamie's Birthday celebration! (She's 29, again)

Braised Lamb Shank Ragu
Manchego Cheese Grits
Roasted Root Vegetables

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas
Chopped Salad with Cumin-lime Vinaigrette

Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Mushroom Bolognese
Romaine Salad with a Creamy Garlic Dressing

Elizabeth's Holiday Performance, Dinner out

Seared Salmon on a Bed of Greens with Bacon and Red Onions
Kiawah Island Dressing

Steak and Martini Night

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Apple Blossom Cake

This is one of those wonderful recipes that takes me back to my childhood.  It's a fabulous cake my Grandmother used to make when we would visit.  It would make  their whole house smell of cinnamon, apples, and warm sugar.  She'd serve it still warm with vanilla ice cream, mmmm.  The last time I had this was 30 years ago, and just recently my Uncle found the recipe and passed it to me.  Thanks Uncle Bob, and thanks Grandma!

Softened butter for greasing the pan
3 C. Flour plus extra for dusting the pan
1 1/2 C. vegetable oil
2 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp.cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 C. peeled, cored Granny Smith apples, thickly sliced
1 C. chopped walnuts
1 C. raisins
Optional: vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9" bundt or tube pan.  Beat oil and sugar together with a mixer.  After about 5 minutes, add eggs and beat until mixture is creamy.

Sift together 3 cups of flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Stir into batter.  Add vanilla extract, apples, walnuts, and raisins.  Stir until combined.  Transfer the mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan before turning out.  Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream if desired.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Vegetable, Pork, and Bean Chili

Olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced 1"
1 large onion, diced 1"
1 leek, cleaned well and white part sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 green pepper, diced 1"
1# ground pork
1# mixed dried beans, picked over and soaked overnight
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 can diced mild green chiles
2 Tbsp. each chili powder, paprika, and cumin
1 Tbsp. each coriander, oregano,  & black pepper
3 zucchini squash, diced 1"
2 yellow squash, diced 1"
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
1 qt. chicken stock
3Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Optional- cayenne pepper, to taste 
Garnish- thinly sliced green onion, crumbed queso fresco (or shredded cheddar)

In a large stock pot heat 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering.  Add eggplant, sprinkle with a little salt and cook, stirring often for 15 minutes until eggplant is very soft.  Add onions, leeks, green pepper, and carrots and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic, stir and cook for an minute.
Add pork and all spices; with a wooden spoon stir as the meat browns, about 5-7 minutes.  Add tomato paste, stir, lower heat and cook for another 5-7 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and green chiles.  Add stock, stir and bring to a boil.  Immediately, reduce heat and cover.  Cook until beans are tender, about 45-50 minutes.  While stirring, slowly add flour to thicken chili, continue to cook for 10 minutes.  Add parsley, stir and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Spoon chili into bowls and top with sliced green onion and cheese, serve and Enjoy!

* this is much better if made a day or two in advance to let the favors marry.

Pear, Prosciutto & Ricotta Crostini

What a fantastic combination, very Italian and easy to make.  During the summer when I can get ahold of ripe peaches, I substitute for the pears.

Good extra-virgin olive oil
12 slices ciabatta bread
1 ripe Anjou pear, thinly sliced
12 oz. ricotta cheese
6 slices of prosciutto, torn into pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Honey for drizzling

Drizzle each slice of ciabatta with olive oil and grill to golden brown.  Spoon about 1 oz. of ricotta onto each slice of toast.  Sprinkle with pepper and drape a few slices over the ricotta on each.  Drizzle each with honey and top with 2 slices of pear.  Serve and Enjoy!

Lavash Pizzas with Arugula and Eggplant

 I've got to give credit to Kara Brooks of Still River  Cafe in Eastford, CT for this one.  It's great for a cocktail party of light dinner.

1 1/2# eggplant, peeled, cut into 1/2" cubes (about 3 cups)
1 tsp. sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided plus more for brushing
Freshly ground black pepper
4 8" squares soft whole wheat lavash
1 C. Small cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 C. chopped green onions
1/2 C. Coarsely grated mozzarella
1/4 C. Finely grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
8 C. Arugula
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Toss eggplant with 1 tsp. salt in a mixing bowl.  Let sit between double layers of paper towels for 10 minutes.  Pat dry.  Return to bowl; toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, spread on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast in hot oven until soft and browned, about 15 minutes.

Brush oil on lavash; arrange on 2 more rimmed baking sheets.  Top with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, green onions, cheeses, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.  Toss arugula, 1 Tbsp. oil, and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mound salad over pizzas.  Cut into serving pieces.  Enjoy!

Peas, Mint & Parmesan Crostini

This cocktail  party favorite is tremendous; it's delicious and easy to prepare.  This works with edamame or fresh favas if you prefer.

12 slices French baguette
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced in half
1 C. Frozen peas, thawed
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Garnish: shaved Parmesan cheese, torn mint leaves, and balsamic vinegar

Using half of the oil, drizzle each slice of baguette.  Grill bread and as you remove the slices from the heat rub with the cut side of the garlic clove.  Reserve.

Combine in a large bowl the peas and 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Mash with the back of a fork.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread about 1 Tbsp. of mixture on each toast.  Garnish with shaved Parmesan, torn mint leaf, and a few drops of balsamic vinegar.  Serve and Enjoy!

Smoked Trout, Sour Cream, & Pickled Onion Crostini

This crostini is dynamite and works just as well with any smoked fish.  Easy to put together for that impromptu party and a crowd pleaser.

1/4 C. thinly sliced red onions
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 C. hot water
12 slices pumpernickel
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C. sour cream or creme fraiche
12 oz. smoked trout

Garnish: Dill sprigs

In a bowl combine onions, vinegar, sugar, salt, and hot water.  Let onions pickle for 30 minutes.  

Drizzle bread with oil and grill to golden brown.  Remove and cut each slice into quarters, reserve.  In a separate bowl, combine zest, cracked pepper, and sour cream.  Spoon cream mixture onto toasts.  Top each with about 1 oz. of fish and a few slices of the drained pickled onions.  Garnish with dill and Enjoy!

Crab, Chile & Mint Crostini

The Holidays are right around the corner and this time of year is prime time entertainment season.  With cocktail parties, Holiday parties and people just popping by, a couple of go to crostinis are a must to have in the arsenal.  This one is fantastic and couldn't be easier to put together.

12 slices sourdough bread
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8oz. jumbo lump crabmeat
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. finely chopped mint
1 stemmed, seeded jalapeño, minced
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Garnish- chiffonade (very thinly sliced) fresh mint leaves

Drizzle bread with oil and toast over hot grill.  cut each slice into quarters and reserve.

In a bowl gentle combine crabmeat, mayo, lime juice, mint, and jalapeño.  Be careful not to break up the crabmeat too much.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon about 1 Tbsp. of crab mixture onto each toast and garnish with chiffonade of mint.  Serve and Enjoy!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Standing Rack of Pork in a Goat Cheese and Dijon Crust

So, one of my golf buddies told me for his birthday he was preparing a standing rack of pork.  He wanted to know if I had any recipes or techniques to share.  It got me thinking and I remembered a preparation I did while working in California.  The below recipe was done using a rack of lamb and is scrumptious.  I figure what's good for the lamb, is good for the pig!

1 rack of pork
olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. parsley, minced
1tsp. fresh thyme, minced
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
8oz. Mild goat cheese at room temperature (use a French cheese, not middle eastern varieties as they are too strong in flavor)
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  

In a small bowl combine the mustard, shallot, garlic, thyme, and parsley.  In another large bowl put the breadcrumbs.  

Season the pork with salt and pepper, over a very hot grill (or skillet) sear all sides brown.  Remove from heat and spread mustard mixture over pork, not the bones.  On the meat side of the rack spread the goat cheese.  Holding the rack by the bones dip into the bread crumbs and gently press crumbs onto all sides of the pork.  Wrap bones with aluminum foil (prevents burning), then place rack on a greased (Pam works best) sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and place into hot oven.  Cook until pork is 155 degrees internal (20-25 minutes per pound).  Remove and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.  Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Dec. 1st - Dec. 7th

Dinner out at Bistro 222 in Dearborn, MI

Standing Rack of Pork in a Goat Cheese and Dijon Crust
Green Beans with Pearl Onions and Wild Mushrooms
Oven Roast Potatoes with Thyme and Sea Salt

Fish Tacos with Fresh Pico de Gallo
Mexican Rice and Beans

Turkey Meatloaf
Brown Rice with Vegetables
Steamed Broccoli

Vegetable, Pork, and Bean Chili

Smorgasbord Night

Kona Ribeye Steaks
Sautéed Onions with Balsamic Glaze
Sweet Potato Frites with Aioli Mayo
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekly Menu: Nov. 17th - Nov. 23rd

Going to a performance at the DSO ( Detroit Symphony Orchestra) & dinner out after 

Slow Roasted Pork Loin with an Apple Cider Glaze
Baby Bliss Potatoes with Thyme and Sea Salt
Roasted Fennel, Carrots, and Onions
Green Beans with Wild Mushrooms

Shredded Chicken with Spanish Rice
Baby Leaf Lettuce Salad tossed in a Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette

Italian Sausage and Peppers, Pasta
Chopped Romaine Salad, Parmesan Dressing

Dinner out, downtown Detroit


Leftover Night

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu

Nine days to the big day!  My favorite Holiday meal, Thanksgiving!!  The last couple of years we have very graciously been guests of dear friends and their family.  This proved to be a welcome change from the years of journeying back east to Connecticut, where we shared the Holiday with Jeanne's family.  As terrific as those visits were, the twenty-five (sometimes more) for Thanksgiving dinner, four days of running around and a 1,500 mile round trip proved to be less than relaxing.  

This year I'm hosting dinner at our house for a very manageable six.   After much thought, I've decided to go pretty traditional.  A soup starter, served in an antique tea service, and all the hits. And, since I couldn't decide on which pie to serve for dessert, I'll be doing all of my favorites.  Heck, it's only once a year, so why not go for it.  In the immortal words of Dolly Parton, "Go big or go home!"

Roasted Corn Purée with Fried Leeks
Herb Roasted Turkey with Wild Mushroom Gravy
Cranberry Sauce
Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes
Country Bread Stuffing with Sausage, Currants, and Pecans
Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Salt Pork
English Peas with Pearl Onions, Vermouth Cream
Carrots Scented with Curry and Brown Sugar
Assortment of Holiday Pies (oh yeah, with lots of ice cream, of course)
(Pumpkin, Apple, and Pecan)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beef Bourguignon

This is a classic dish; the French stew of beef and red wine.  I like to make it a day or two ahead of time so the flavors can deepen.  Just keep it chilled in the refrigerator.  It has become a house favorite and great for a cold weather dinner.  I especially like to make this when entertaining.  Because, it can be made ahead of time and just reheated.  This makes for a stress free party for the chef.

Olive oil
1/2 # smoked bacon, small diced
2 1/2# beef chuck, cut into 1" cubes
1# carrots, cut into 1" pieces
2 yellow onions, medium diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C. Cognac
1 bottle good Pinot Noir
1 C. Beef broth
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Bay leaf
4 Tbsp. softened butter
3 Tbsp. All-purpose flour
1# pearl onions, I use frozen ones, no hassle peeling
1# fresh mushrooms
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Sprinkle beef with generous amounts of salt and pepper, reserve on the side.

In a large Dutch oven heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat.  Add bacon and cook until golden brown.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate.  To the hot bacon fat add, in small batches, the beef and sear on all sides until brown.  Remove and reserve on a plate, repeat step until all the beef is seared.

To the pot add the onions and carrots.  Stir frequently and cook until onions are nicely browned, about 10-15 minutes.  Add garlic, stir and cook another minute or two.  Add tomato paste, stir well, lower heat and cook for another 3-4 minutes.   Increase heat and carefully add cognac to the vegetables (vapors can ignite as liquor evaporates) and reduce by half.  Add the wine and broth, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, add thyme sprigs, bay leaf, the bacon and beef back into the pot.  Cover pot and place in oven.  Cook until beef is fork tender, about 2 - 2 1/2 hours.  Remove pot from oven.

To the stew, add the pearl onions and mix well.  In a bowl combine 2 Tbsp butter with the flour and using the back of a fork mix well.  Whisk the butter-flour mixture (classically called beurre manie and used as a thickening agent) into the stew.  In a sauté pan heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and cook the mushrooms until nicely browned.  Add the mushrooms to the pot with the parsley.  Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve with some crusty French bread or sourdough boule.  Mashed potatoes goes equally as well.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kiawah Island Dressing

OK, you got me.  Yes, I am stealing the name of this dressing from the popular salad dressing at J. Alexander's.  This dressing is just a Thousand Island dressing with, I think, a cooler name.  It sounded good so, here is how I'd make it.

1 small clove garlic, minced
1 C. prepared mayonnaise
1/3 C. bottled chili sauce
3 Tbsp. ketchup
2 Tbsp. minced onions
3 tsp. sweet pickle relish
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 large egg, hard cooked and chopped fine
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

First, make a paste with the garlic glove.  Do this by sprinkling some kosher salt over the clove on a cutting board.  With the side of your chef's knife crush it until a paste forms.  In a medium bowl whisk the garlic and the rest of the ingredients together, correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  You can adjust the consistency with a small amount of cold water, if you like your dressing a little thinner.  Dressing will hold 3-4 days covered in the refrigerator.

Weekly Menu: Nov. 10th - Nov. 16th

Bourbon Glazed Grilled Pork Chops
Caramelized Onions and Apples

Beef Bourguignon
Mashed Potatoes
Chopped Romaine Salad tossed in a Balsamic-Honey Vinaigrette

Seared Salmon with Chimichurri Butter
Chopped Salad with Kiawah Island Dressing

Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chiles
Mexican Rice and Beans

White Bean and Turkey Chili
Jalapeño Corn Bread

"Clean out the Frig Night"

Dinner out with Friends

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weekly Menu: Nov. 3rd - Nov.9th

White Fish with Capers, Green Olives & Tomatoes
Mashed Plantains
Salsa Fresco

Pot Roast with Roasted Root Vegetables
Sauteed Kale with Smoked Bacon
Carrots with Sweet Onions and Curry

Vegetable Lasagna
Chopped Romaine Salad with a Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette, Parmesan Cheese

Election Night Party in Ferndale

Chicken Enchiladas
Mexican Rice and Black Beans
Chopped Salad with a Honey-Lime Vinaigrette

Roast Beef with a Mushroom Gravy
Oven Roasted Potatoes with Thyme and Sea Salt


Fisherman's Stew
Baby Greens Salad tossed with Walnuts, Cherries and a Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Caramelized Onion and Tomato Jam

This recipe will make about 4 cups.  I'm using it to top turkey burgers, but this will go great with all fowl, fish, and meat.  It's especially good with a roasted pork tenderloin.  Spread on a slice of french bread and top with some goat cheese, add a great glass of wine and viol, instant cocktail party!  In the refrigerator, it'll keep for about a week.

2 Vidalia onions, sliced thinly
good olive oil
2 1/2 # ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1 C. dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp. fresh minced garlic
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

In a heavy medium sauce pan, heat 3-4 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat until rippling.  Add onions and cook until they become caramel brown, stirring often.  This will take about 20-25 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil, stir often.   Reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally.  Cook until mixture thickens and becomes the consistency of jam, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Cool mixture completely in a water bath.  In the refrigerator this will keep for about a week.  Serve and Enjoy!

Easy Mexican Chicken Soup

So, my 13 yr. old  daughter recently came to me and declared that she's decided she will be cooking one of our weekend meals.  I come to find that her motivation for this is that one of her recent heart throbs, a British boy band member (that's another story), loves to eat.  So, in her words, "she needs to learn so, when they get married she'll be able to take care of him."  What's a father to do?  Just roll with it.  

I have to say, she found this terrific recipe from Ina Garten, who just happens to be one of my absolute favorites.  She did an amazing job putting it together with very little of my help.   I am so very proud of her, no matter what the motivation.  

It will feed 8 people easily.  We used a precooked chicken from the local deli to speed things up, rather than cooking one from scratch.  We also added a can of white hominy to the mix and served the soup with a side of tortilla chips, fresh guacamole, and spicy black beans.  The end result was fantastic.  This recipe is a keeper and great for a cold day, excellent comfort food.

Whole Roasted Chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
Good olive oil
1 large white onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 can white hominy, drained
2 1/2 Qts. Chicken stock
1 jalapeño pepper, diced with seeds
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1/4 C. cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add a good measure of olive oil, about 3 Tbsp.  Heat until ripples form.  Add onions, celery, and carrots.  Cook, stirring frequently until onions turn golden brown.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add shredded chicken, tomatoes, chicken stock, hominy, jalapeño, cumin, and coriander.  Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes, stir occasionally.  Add cilantro and correct seasonings with salt and pepper.  Dish hot soup into bowls and serve with tortilla chips.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekly Menu Oct. 27th - Nov. 2nd

Saturday- "Elizabeth's in the Kitchen Night"
Mexican Chicken Soup
Fresh Guacamole
Spicy Black Beans
Warm Corn Tortillas

Roast Beef with a Dijon and Horseradish Crust
Sautéed Spinach
Roasted Carrots with Ginger and Curry
Yukon Gold Potatoes with Sea Salt and Rosemary

Garlic Shrimp Sauté with Spaghetti Squash
Mixed Salad with Mixed Herb Vinaigrette

Chicken and White Bean Stew

Wednesday- "Halloween Night"
Terrifying Turkey Burgers Dripping with Caramelized Onion and Tomato Jam
Slashed Romaine Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
Hacked "Old Bay" Sweet Potato Fries

Smorgasbord Night, clean out the Frig!

Dinner out with Friends

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thai-style Curry Stir Fry

Recently we had some leftover steak and chicken, so I whipped up this Thai inspired dish and served it over basmati rice.  You could easily substitute fish, seafood, tofu, vegetables, whatever was in your frig.

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 # shredded cooked chicken
1/2 # sliced cooked steak
2 cloves garlic, minced
2" inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 lime, cut in half
1 small can coconut milk
1/2 C. shredded fresh thai basil (regular basil can be substituted)
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, washed and sliced thin
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1 C. fresh green beans, trimmed
2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
1 tsp. red chili flakes (add more or less to taste)
1 Tbsp. red curry paste
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Add oil and heat until smoking; add onions, celery and peppers.  Stir fry until onions start to soften, about 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and ginger, stir and cook another minute.  Add green beans, stir.  Squeeze both halves of lime into mixture.  Add chili flakes, fish sauce, curry paste, soy sauce, basil and coconut milk.  Cook for 10 minutes until mixture has thickened and beans are tender.  Add chicken and beef, toss well to coat.  Correct seasonings with salt and pepper.  Serve over basmati rice and enjoy!

Caramel, Sea Salt Brownies

1 # unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.
Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over bake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.  Serve and Enjoy!

Bacon Cheeseburger Stew

2 oz. vegetable oil
8 oz. bacon
1 1/2# ground beef
1 large onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 C. chopped tomatoes
6 red potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
1 large carrot, washed and peeled
2 ribs of celery, washed and peeled
2 C. beef stock
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Place the beef in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Form into small meatballs and reserve on the side.

Place a large pot over medium high heat, add oil and heat until shimmering.  Add bacon and cook until golden brown, 7-8 minutes.  Remove browned bacon, chop and reserve warm.   To the pot add the meatballs and brown on all sides.  Remove and reserve warm on a plate.  To the pot add onions, carrots, and celery, cook until onions soften, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add tomato paste, stir mixture well and cook paste for 6-8minutes.  Add chopped tomatoes, stock, worcestershire, mustard, meatballs, and potatoes.  Stir and cook for 30 minutes.  Correct seasoning with salt and black pepper.

5 minutes before stew is ready pre-heat broiler.  Once stew is done, spoon portions into shallow bowls, sprinkle bacon and cheese on top of each.  Place bowls under the broiler to melt cheese.  Serve and enjoy!

Weekly Menu Oct. 21st - Oct. 26th

Mahi-Mahi Tacos with Honey-Lime Slaw
Spicy Black Beans

Chicken and White Bean Cassoulet

Bacon Cheesburger Stew
Chopped Salad with Sweet Onion Vinaigrette

Fisherman's Stew
Spaghetti Squash with Olive Oil, Parmesan, and Black Pepper

Curried Red Lentils with Vegetables
Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Dinner Out with Friends

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mexican Bean and Vegetable Lasagna

24 soft corn tortillas
1 medium yellow onion
1 medium green bell pepper, small dice
1 bunch green onion, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, fine chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, fine chopped
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 small can chopped green chiles
1(15oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1(15oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1(15oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 summer squash, shredded (flesh only, discard seeds in the center)
2 zucchini squash, shredded (flesh only, discard seeds in the center)
1 C. frozen corn, defrosted
1/2 C. sour cream
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1 large can enchilada red sauce
1 C. plus shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses (50-50)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, green chiles and sour cream, reserve on the side.

In another bowl combine summer squash and zucchini with the corn.  Reserve.

In a medium sauce pan sauté onions until soft, about 3-4 minutes add bell peppers and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic, cook for a minute or two.  Add cumin and oregano cook another minute.  Add enchilada sauce and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat immediately and add beans, green onions, and cilantro.  Stir well and remove for heat.  Reserve.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-strick spray.  Lay down a layer of tortillas overlapping the edges to form a base in the dish.  Spoon a third of the green chile cream onto the tortillas and spread to form an even layer.  Sprinkle a third of the cheese over the cream layer.  Sprinkle a third of the vegetable mixture over the cheese.  Ladle a third of the bean mixture over the vegetable layer.  Lay down another layer of tortillas and repeat layering until the dish is full and all ingredients have been used.  Using the extra cheese, top the "lasagna".

Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet and place into the hot oven.  Cook for 40-50 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and golden brown on top.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting serving.  Serve with a chopped salad and Enjoy!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weekly Menu Sept. 30th - Oct. 5th

Shredded Chicken Tacos
Spicy Black Beans
Pico De Gallo

Garlic Shrimp with White Beans
Chopped Romaine Salad with Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette

Spinach with Chickpeas and Olive Oil Fried Eggs

Chicken in Garlic-Almond Sauce
Green Beans with Red Onion

Chicken Meatballs with Basil,Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Parmesan
Pasta with Marinara

Dinner out

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Garlic Shrimp and White Beans

6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced & divided
2 dried chiles de arbol
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 C. Chopped tomatoes
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 (15oz.) cans white beans, rinsed, drained
1 C. Chicken broth
1# medium sized shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley
Garnish: Grilled bread

Preheat broiler.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large, heavy oven-proof skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 garlic clove, chiles, and bay leaf.  Cook, stirring constantly, just until fragrant, about 1 minute (do not let garlic burn).  Add tomato and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring and smashing tomato with the back of a wooden spoon, until tomatoes are completely broken down, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste and cook stirring constantly until paste is a deep red and caramelized, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in beans and broth.  Bring to a brisk simmer and cook until juices are slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.  Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Combine remaining 2 garlic cloves, 2 Tbsp. oil, shrimp, and paprika in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.  Scatter shrimp over the bean mixture in the skillet in an even layer.

Place skillet under the broiler and cook shrimp until they are golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Remove and drizzle the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil over shrimp and beans.  Garnish with parsley and serve with grilled bread.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekly Menu Sept 22nd - Sept. 28th

Dinner at Slow's, Detroit.  (For my money the best barbecue in Michigan and would  compete with  great BBQ anywhere!)

Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions and Cabernet Jus
Roasted Potatoes with Sea Salt and Herbs
Green Beans

Chinese Vegetable Stri-Fry with Schzewan Shrimp
Rice Noodles


Tilapia Tacos with Citrus Slaw, Mashed Avocados and Fresh Pico de Gallo
Spicy Black Beans
Yellow Rice with Cilantro

"Break Fast", Yom Kippur, at Friends house

Pasta Bolognese
Chopped Romaine Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing


Oven Roasted Chicken with Pan Gravy
Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Sage and Parmesan

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chicken Meatloaf

I made this very simple meatloaf yesterday and it's fantastic, absolutely a keeper.  Leftovers are great for sandwiches.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1# ground chicken
1# ground turkey
1 medium onion, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1 large rib celery, fine diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, fine diced
1Tbsp. Fresh thyme
1 egg, beaten
1/2 C. fine breadcrumbs
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add oil and get hot.  Add all vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes.  Add garlic and thyme cook another 30 seconds, mix and then remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl combine chicken and turkey (I use latex gloves for this task).  Once cooled, add all contents of skillet to the meat mixture.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly, add egg and breadcrumbs, mix well.

I make a small disk of the mixture and pop it into the microwave for around 20 seconds, heat until fully cooked, and taste it prior to forming my loaf.  If seasonings need adjusting, I can do it now.  After cooking it's more difficult to correct.

Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick oil.  Pour chicken mixture onto baking sheet and form into a loaf making sure it is of consistent thickness all the way through.  Place loaf into hot oven and cook for 40-45 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into it reads 160 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  Slice, serve and enjoy!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Slow Roasted Pork Loin with an apple cider glaze

4# pork loin, trimmed and tied
1Tbsp. Fennel seeds
1 Tsp. whole black peppercorns
1Tbsp. Kosher salt
1/4 C. + 2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
1/4 C. Apple cider vinegar
1/4 C. Apple cider or juice
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil plus extra

With a mortar and pestle crush the fennel and peppercorns (can use the bottom of a heavy skillet).    Transfer spices to a small bowl.  Add salt and 2 Tbsp. brown sugar.  Rub mixture all over the pork loin.  Place in a glass baking dish, cover and chill for at least 1hour.

Combine the rest of the brown sugar, butter, cider and vinegar in a small pan.  Place over med-high heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat and stir until mixture become a thick syrup.  Remove glaze  from heat and reserve warm.

Meanwhile, prepare charcoal grill and light the hardwood.  Get wood coals hot and position to one side of the grill box.  Place grill rack over hot coals.  Drizzle loin with olive oil and place on the grill to the opposite side of the hot coals.  Cover and roast at 225 degrees F for 3 1/2 hours.  Open grill cover and pour apple cider glaze over the loin, cover and continue to cook another 30 minutes or until an inserted meat thermometer reads 155 degrees F. (1/12 hours per pound).

Remove loin and reserve warm for 15 minutes to rest.  Slice loin and present on a warm platter, serve and enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weekly Menu Aug. 25th - 31st

Grilled Chicken with Mediterranean Spices
Tabbouleh with Quinoa

Turkey Burgers with Grilled Maui Onions, Mushrooms, and Avocado
Garden Salad with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette

Pasta with Meat Sauce and Grilled Eggplant

Curried Red Lentil and Vegetable Stew
Basmati Rice

Mole Chicken Enchiladas
Spicy Black Beans
Chopped Salad with Roasted Corn and Lime Vinaigrette

Seared Salmon with Herb Butter, Shaved Fennel Slaw
Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Thyme
Sautéed Spinach with Shallots

Dinner out with Friends

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Creole-Spiced Shrimp

This is always a crowd pleaser and fun to eat.  Easy to make and can be made in the oven or on the grill.  I like to serve this with southern-styled dirty rice and collard greens.

2# unpeeled shrimp (you can substitute peeled and deveined if desired)
1 small onion
1 lemon, thinly sliced
8 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
2 tsp. hot chili paste
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 C. Unsealed butter, cut into tablespoons

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Using a small kitchen scissors, cut shrimp along the curved backs.  Remove vein, keeping she'll intact.  Toss shrimp and next 9 ingredients in a large bowl.

Place four 16x12" sheets of heavy-duty foil on a work surface.  Divide the shrimp mixture among the sheets.  Fold all foil edges towards the center to accommodate the liquid; do not crimp.  Add 2 Tbsp. butter and 1/4 cup water to each.  Crimp tightly to seal.

Arrange packets on a rimmed baking sheet.  Place in oven and cook until shrimp are just opaque in the center, about 30 minutes.  Carefully cut open packets and serve with rice.  Enjoy!!

Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese and Figs

This is a fantastic play on a classic combination of savory and sweet.  I love to make these for a cocktail party or the starter for dinner.  These are just great anytime.

12 thin slices pancetta
12 arugula leaves
12 tsp. soft fresh goat cheese
Fig jam or preserves
6 fresh figs, halved
Chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place pancetta in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until crisp, 12-15 minutes.  Cool 15 minutes.  Transfer to platter.  Top each slice with one arugula leaf, 1 tsp. goat cheese, 1/4 tsp jam and top with one fig slice.  Sprinkle with thyme and freshly ground black pepper.  Serve and Enjoy!

Kale and Bean Bruschetta

1 1/2 C. dried cannellini beans
1 C. chopped onion
3 garlic gloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. salt
4 C. coarse chopped stemmed kale
6 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Dried crushed red pepper

1 garlic clove, cut in half
(12) 1/2 inch thick slices baguette, toasted
Parmesan cheese shavings

Place beans in a pot with enough cold water to cover by 3 inches.  Bring to a boil.  Continue to boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.  Drain beans, return to pot.  Add 8 cups of water, onion the 3 cloves of peeled garlic, bay leaf, and sage.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat; cover and simmer until beans are tender, 1-1 1/2 hours.  Stir in salt, add kale and cook for 4 minutes.

Drain beans and kale, place in large bowl. (the liquid can be chilled and reserved for soup) Now, add oil, lemon juice, and red pepper to taste.  Toss and correct seasoning with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Take each slice of toasted baguette and rub the cut side with the garlic clove that was sliced in half.  Top with bean mixture and cheese shavings.  Serve and Enjoy!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fish Fillets with Tomatoes, Squash, and Basil

2 C. very thinly sliced assorted summer squash, zucchini, and pattypan
1/4 C. thinly sliced shallots
1/4 C. thinly sliced fresh basil, plus 1/4 C. basil leaves
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 Tbsp. dry white wine
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
(4) 6 oz. skinless white flaky fish fillets (Atlantic Cod or halibut)
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Place four 4 x12" sheets of parchment paper (if grilling use tin foil), on work surface.  Divide squash among parchment sheets, arranging on one side of sheet in thin layers.  Sprinkle shallots and sliced basil over, dividing equally.  Scatter tomato halves evenly amongst packets.  Drizzle each packet with 1 Tbsp. wine and 1/2 Tbsp. oil.  Season each with salt and pepper.  Place a fish fillet atop each portion.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle 1/2 Tbsp. oil over each.

Fold parchment over mixture and crimp edges to form a sealed packet.  (can be done 4 hrs. ahead and chilled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place packets in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until fish is just cooked, about 10 minutes.  Carefully cut open packets (steam will escape).  Garnish with basil leaves, serve and Enjoy!

Wasabi Salmon with Bok Choy, Green Cabbage, and Shiitakes

1/4 C. Mayonnaise
1 tsp. wasabi paste
1 (1") piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
(4)  6oz. skinless salmon fillets
1# baby Bok Choy, halved
2 C. Finely shredded green cabbage
4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced if large
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place a a large rimmed baking sheet into hot oven and heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix mayonnaise and wasabi in a small mixing bowl.  Stir in half of ginger and garlic; set aside.  Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper.  Place Bok Choy, cabbage, and mushrooms in large mixing bowl, drizzle with oil and remaining garlic and ginger.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.

Scatter vegetables across one side of the hot baking sheet.  Arrange salmon on the other side.  Place into oven and roast, stirring occasionally until fish is cooked through; 10-12 minutes for medium rare.  Divide vegetables among plates, top with salmon and serve with wasabi mayo along the side.  Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Aug. 18th- Aug. 24th

Grilled Grass Fed Beef Ribeye Steaks
Pomme Frites with Rosemary and Sea Salt
Green Beans with Roasted Shallots

Dinner out in Northville

Wasabi Salmon with Bok Choy, Green Cabbage, and Shiitakes
Steamed Brown Rice with Green Onions

Brown Rice Pasta with Eggplant Ragu and Roasted Vegetables

Fish Fillets with Tomatoes, Squash, and Basil

Smorgasbord Night

My Birthday! Dinner at Joe Muer's Seafood

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Grilled Eggplant with Crushed Tomatoes and Capers

1/4 C. olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp.
2 Eggplant
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 sweet onion, peeled and sliced thinly
2 (15oz) can of crushed tomatoes
3 Tbsp. capers
4 Tbsp. fresh basil, sliced thinly (chiffonade)
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped fine
2 Tbsp. Italian flat parsley, chopped fine
2 roasted red peppers, sliced
1 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C. Grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the stems off the eggplants and cut into 1" slices (skin on).  Lay on a sheet of paper towel and sprinkle a generous amount of salt on each slice.  Let stand for 15-20 minutes to draw out the liquid in the eggplant.  Using another sheet of paper towel brush salt and water off each slice.  This step with greatly reduce the bitterness in the eggplant. Place cleaned eggplant slices into a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle eggplant with 1/4 C. olive oil and add garlic, basil and oregano; coat well.

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Sear eggplant on each side to a golden brown and reserve, once done, in a 9x13" baking dish.  To the hot skillet add remainder of the oil and heat until shimmering.  Cook onions to golden brown 5-6 minutes while stirring.  Add roasted peppers, red pepper flakes, capers, and crushed tomatoes.  Stir and add parsley.  Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Cook until hot 2-3 minutes.  Pour mixture on top of the eggplant.  

Sprinkle cheeses on top of eggplant and place baking dish in the oven for 45-55 minutes, until eggplant is soft and cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

Remove from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes.  Serve over pasta and Enjoy!

Creole Seafood Stew

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1# Seafood Blend (I like Trader Joe's mix of shrimp, calamari, and scallops)
1# Langostine tails (Trader Joe's)
1# cooked Andouille sausage (you can substitute any type of sausage you prefer, this can also be omitted)
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 medium sweet onion, small dice
3 celery ribs, small dice
1 green bell pepper, small dice
1/2C. White wine
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1C. Clam juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp. each of dried oregano, basil, paprika, and thyme
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

In a large heavy bottomed pot heat oil over medium high heat.  Once oil is shimmering; add onions, celery, and bell peppers.  Cook until they start to soften, about 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic, cook another minute.  Add tomato paste, stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes.  Add wine and clam juice, reduce by a third.  Add diced tomatoes with juice and bay leaf.  Heat to just under a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and add seafood blend and spices.  Cook until shrimps are just done, about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add sausage and langostine tails, stir and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Continue to cook slowly for 8-10 minutes.  Serve over rice and enjoy! 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weekly Menu Aug. 11th- Aug. 17th

"Patio Party with the Neighbors"
Chili Rubbed-Marinated Skirt Steak Fajitas
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad
Red Cabbage Slaw
Shredded Romaine Salad with Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette
Strawberry Tarts with Ginger-Nut Crust

Creole Seafood Stew over Rice
Southern Greens

Grilled Eggplant with Crushed Tomatoes and Capers
Roasted Potatoes with Oregano

Brown Rice Pasta with Italian Sausage
Garden Fresh Salad tossed in a Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Grilled Pork Loin with a Rum Barbecue Glaze, Caramelized Peaches
Green Beans with Shallots

Red Curry- Marinated Chicken
Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables

Chef's night off- Dinner out with Friends

Chili Rubbed-Mainated Skirt Steak Fajitas

2# beef skirt steak (Flank Steak)
2 Tbsp. Ancho Chili powder
1Tbsp. Garlic powder
1Tbsp. Cumin
1 Tbsp. Oregano
Fresh lime juice from 3 limes, about 5 Tbsp.
1 bottle dark beer
1/4 C. Honey
3 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 C. + 2 Tbsp. Canola oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Marinating the beef  can be done a day ahead of time, minimum 3 hours prior to grilling.

Wash and pat dry beef.  In a small mixing bowl combine chile powder, garlic powder, cumin, and oregano.  Coat the side of beef facing you with 1 Tbsp. oil.  Rub 1/2 of spice mix onto beef.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Turn beef and repeat.  Reserve.

In another mixing bowl combine lime juice, beer, worchestershire, honey, green onions and the rest of the oil.  Whisk together.  Place beef in a large ziplock bag or in a 9x13" baking pan and pour marinade over.  Seal bag or tightly cover pan with Saran wrap.  Chill, turning half way through marinating time.

Preheat grill to high.  Brush grill with oil.  Remove beef from marinade and discard liquid.  Lay steak on grill and cook for 10 minutes, turning once for medium-rare.  Transfer cooked steak to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.  Thinly slice steak across the grain.  Lay slices on large platter.  Serve with warm tortillas, guacamole, your favorite salsa, fresh cilantro leaves, etc.  Enjoy!!

Friday, July 13, 2012


Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite side dishes.  Its a snap to put together and always a crowd pleaser.  It's essential that the avocados and tomatoes are ripe.

2 Hass Avocados
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
juice from 1 lime
1/4 medium white onion, chopped finely
fresh cilantro, chopped fine (to taste)
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
optional - jalapeño pepper, minced, to taste

Remove pit from the avocados and spoon flesh into a medium mixing bowl.  Discard pit and skin.  Add lime juice to avacado.  With a fork slightly mash the avocado to desired consistency. (I prefer my guac. a little chunky)  

To the avocado add tomato, garlic, onions, and cilantro.  Drizzle in oil and season with salt and pepper.  Mix, serve, and enjoy!!  (Can be made 2-3 hours ahead of time, covered and chilled).

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Buffalo Grilled Shrimp with Blue Cheese Dip

I love this riff on a classic.  If you love hot wings, this is the bomb!  

Appetizer for 6

Blue Cheese Dip:
1/2 C.sour cream
1/4 C. finely chopped green onions
2 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsley
1/2 C. crumbled blue cheese
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 C. milk

18 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 C. Frank's RedHot sauce
1/2 bunch celery, cut into 4" sticks

Make dip; Stir together ingredients and then adjust seasoning with salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste.  Reserve covered in the refrigerator.

Make Shrimp; preheat grill to high heat.  In a large bowl, stir together butter and hot sauce.  Reserve.

In another large bowl toss the shrimp with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Oil grill rack, then grill shrimp turning once, until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Add cooked shrimp to the buffalo sauce and toss to coat.  Serve srimp with dip and celery, Enjoy!

Potato Salad with Pancetta, Rosemary, and Lemon

8 oz. of pancetta, sliced about 1/4 inch slices
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
1 garlic clove, minced
2/3 C. olive oil
3# Yukon gold potatoes
3 large celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp.  fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange pancetta slices on rimmed baking sheet, spacing so they don't touch each other.  Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and cool.  Coarsely chop pancetta and reserve.

While pancetta is baking, place the potatoes in a large pot.  Add enough water to cover by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium.  Simmer with lid ajar until tender, about 20-25 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.  Drain and let stand for about 20 minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, rosemary, lemon peel, and garlic in a small bowl.  Gradually add olive oil, while whisking.  Correct seasoning with salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste. Reserve.

Once potatoes are cool, cut them into 1/4 inch thick slices (remove skin if desired, I like to keep them on).  Place in a large bowl, add celery.  Drizzle dressing over and gentle toss to coat.  Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste.  Cover and chill until cold, at least 2 hours.  Sprinkle pancetta and chopped parsley over the top, serve and Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grilled Avocado Salad with Green Goddess Dressing


1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted and peeled
1 Tbsp. chopped basil and parsley
2 tsp. chopped tarragon
1 -2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 C. olive oil

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 lemons, divided
1/4 C. olive oil
2 Hass avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
salt and pepper
2 hearts of romaine, halved lengthwise
4 tomatoes, sliced into eight wedges
1/4 C. grated fresh parmesan cheese

To make dressing; In a food processor fitted with metal blade, combine all ingredients except the oil and salt and pepper.  Process until very smooth, scraping down the bowl.  With the motor running, add olive oil.  Add some cold water to make dressing pourable, about 3/4 cup.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To make the salad;  In a small bowl, toss onion with the juice of 1 lemon and 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Set aside.

Preheat grill to medium heat.  In a medium bowl, toss avocado halves with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, juice of 1 lemon , salt and pepper.   Grill cut side down until marks appear, about 1 minute.  Remove from grill and set aside.

Brush cut side of romaine with 1 Tbsp. oil and grill cut side down until lettuce is slightly wilted and marks appear, 1-2 minutes.

Arrange the grilled avocados, grilled romaine, tomatoes, and marinated onions on a platter.  Drizzle on some of the dressing, add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Serve, passing extra dressing at the table.  Enjoy!

Smoked Applewood Bacon, Lettuce and Cherry Tomato Salad with Aioli Dressing

serves 6:

6 slices applewood smoked bacon
12 C. torn romaine lettuce
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and/or pear tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and lay bacon out without the strips touching.  Place tray in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until bacon is crisp.  Remove and transfer to paper towels.  Allow to cool and then crumble coarsely.  Reserve.  Set aside 1 Tbsp. of bacon drippings and discard the rest.

Place lettuce and tomatoes in a large serving bowl.  Heat drippings in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, then mayonnaise, vinegar, and lemon juice.  Whisk until blended, only 30-40 seconds.  Season dressing with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Pour over lettuce and tomato, toss to coat.  Sprinkle bacon over, serve immediately.  Enjoy!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spicy Watermelon Salsa

2 Hungarian peppers, roasted on the grill, peeled, and chopped with seeds (can substitute with Jalapenos)
1/4 white onion, small dice
1/2 green pepper, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ripe tomatoes, diced
3/4 C. diced watermelon
1 lime, juiced
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped fine
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. Olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

In a large bowl mix all ingredients and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve and Enjoy!

Weekly Menu July 1st - July 7th

Dinner Out- The Townhouse, Birmingham

Pulled Pork Tacos
Spicy Watermelon Salsa

Grilled Chicken Summer Salad

Wednesday- Happy 4th of July
Smoked Beef Brisket
Homemade Slaw
Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Spears

Vegetarian Burgers
Chopped Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Friday- Dinner with Friends on the Patio for Steak and Martini Night
Buffalo Shrimp with Blue Cheese Dip and Celery
Grilled Aged Ribeye Steaks
Wild Mushroom and Shallot saute
Mashed Yukon Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chive
Smoked Applewood Bacon, Lettuce, and Cherry Tomato Salad with Aioli dressing

Dinner Out, ???????

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Serves 6:

2 Pork tenderloins, trimmed of silver skin

1 Tbsp. Honey
1/4 C. cider vinegar
1/4 C. Orange juice
1 Tbsp. Onion powder
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp. Dry mustard
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. dried Thyme
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

In a gallon ziplock plastic bag, combine all of the marinade ingredients.  Add pork tenderloin and seal.  Place bag in a walled pan and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, can easily be left overnight.

Remove from bag and grill over hot coals or gas grill until internal temperature of 150 degrees F.  Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.  Slice on the bias and serve with Roasted Corn, Jicama, and Peach Salad (recipe follows).  Enjoy!

Roasted Corn, Jicama, and Peach Salad

2 Tbsp. minced Red Onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 C. Roasted Corn (Trader Joe's has a really nice product in the frozen food aisle)
2 Peaches, diced
1/2 C. Jicama, medium dice
1/2 C. Arugula, chopped
1/4 C. cider vinegar
1/2 lemon juiced
1/2 C. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Honey
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine the first five (5) ingredients.  In a separate small bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients.  Toss the salad with vinaigrette, correct seasoning with s & p.  Serve and Enjoy!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Weekly Menu May 12th - May 18th

Mahi-Mahi Tacos with Fresh Salsa
Citrus Slaw
Black Beans

NY Strip Steaks with a Shallot-Cabernet Butter
Baked Potatoes

Quinoa and Black Bean "Burgers"
Chopped Salad

Pan Seared Tilapia served in a Tomato-Fennel Broth
Brown Rice with Ginger and Green Onions

Chicken Cacciatore with Pasta and Summer Vegetables

"Smorgasbord Night"

Dinner out

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mexican Chopped Salad

1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1 (15oz) can pinto beans, washed and drained
1 large tomato, diced
3/4 C. Jicama, peeled and diced
1/2 C. corn
1/2 C. radish, washed and sliced thin
1 Avocado, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 C. queso blanco

Juice of 1 lime
1/3 C. olive oil
1Tbsp. Honey
1/4 C. cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic
1/3 jalapeño, diced
salt and pepper, to taste

Make dressing by putting all ingredients in a blender and mixing until smooth.  Adjust acidity with red wine vinegar if needed.

In a large bowl mix all salad ingredients together and dress the salad with dressing 5-10 minutes prior to service, mix well.  Serve and enjoy!

Mole Chicken Enchiladas

I found this recipe in the Detroit Free Press and it's a keeper.  Terrific flavor, a super easy version of this classic Mexican sauce.  

1 small yellow onion, quartered
1 clove garlic
1 C. peanut butter
1 C. water
1/2 C. chicken broth
1/2 C. chopped tomatoes
1 slice soft sandwich bread
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
1 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
1 tsp. Ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
Meat from a 2# rotisserie chicken, pulled
8 corn tortillas
1/2 C. crumbled queso blanco cheese
1/2 C. Salsa
2 green onion, sliced thin
cilantro sprigs
1 jalapeño, sliced

Preheat Broiler.

In a blender, combine the first 13 ingredients and blend until smooth.  Transfer mixture to a large sauté pan and simmer over medium heat, stirring often, cook for about 8-10 minutes.  Correct seasoning with salt and pepper, then add chicken meat to sauce and stir well.  Return to a simmer and cook just until chicken is warmed through.
Wrap the corn tortillas in a damp paper bowl, then microwave for 45 seconds or until tender.  One at a time, spoon some of the mole chicken filling down the center of each tortilla.  Roll, then place in a glass baking dish seam side down.  Repeat until all the tortilla are in the dish.  Spoon the salsa over the top and sprinkle the cheese, jalapeño, and green onion on top.  Place dish under the broiler for 3-4 minutes until cheese starts to melt.

Remove and sprinkle the cilantro on top of dish, serve and enjoy!

Vanilla Bean Flan

1 C. white sugar
3 eggs
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
2 Vanilla beans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, combine the condensed milk, the evaporated milk, and vanilla beans.  Steep beans for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and place in an ice bath to cool milk.  Remove beans and with a small knife cut each bean lengthwise.  Using the blade carefully scrape the inside of each piece to remove the vanilla, add to the milk and discard the outer husk of the bean.  Reserve the cool milk mixture.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt the sugar until liquefied and golden brown.   Very carefully pour syrup into a 9 inch round baking dish turn the dish to evenly coat the bottom and sides.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Beat in cool milk mixture and then pour egg and milk mixture into the baking dish.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Place into oven and bake for 1 hour.  Remove and let cool completely.

Once completely cooled it is ready to be served.  Carefully invert baking dish onto a serving plate with edges.  Flan should release easily onto dish.  Serve by itself or with the Champurrado sauce below and Enjoy!

Champurrado sauce

For the sauce to go with my Flan I am riffing on this very popular Mexican drink.  Champurrado is a chocolate-based drink with corn flour added to thicken it.  This "Mexican Hot Chocolate" is usually served during "Dia de los Muertos" (the day of the dead) and "Las Posadas" during the Christmas season.  The consistency of the sauce is quite a bit thicker than the drink, so it will work with my dessert.   To make the drink use 3 cups of water instead of the 1 cup below and 2 cups of milk, omitting the heavy cream.

1 C. Water
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 Anise star
1/4 C. Masa Harina (corn flour)
1 C. Heavy whipping cream
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
3 oz. good quality Unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 tsp. Vanilla

In a large sauce pan boil the water with the cinnamon sticks and anise star.  Remove from heat and cover, let steep for 10 minutes.  Remove cinnamon and anise, discard.  Return the liquid to low heat and slowly stir in the masa harina, whisking until combined.  Add cream, chocolate, vanilla, and brown sugar.   Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil, stir often.  Reduce, about 10 minutes, until thickens and chocolate and sugar has fully dissolved.  When done the sauce should be able to coat the back of a spoon.  Reserve warm and serve over flan.  Enjoy!

Weekly Menu May 5th - May 11th

Saturday- "Cinco de Mayo"
Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce
Mexican Chopped Salad with Avocado, Corn, and Jicama
Vanilla Bean Flan, Champurrado sauce

Seared Salmon on Baby Greens, Red Onion, and Quinoa Salad
Creamy Lemon Dressing

Pasta Bolognese with Fresh Shaved Parmesan
Chi-Chi Bean Salad with Arugula and Roma Tomatoes

Chilled Shrimp with Artichokes, Grape Tomatoes, and Baby Greens tossed in a Citrus Vinaigrette

Shepherd's Pie

Turkey Burgers with Avocado and Sprouts, Aioli Mayonnaise
Sweet Potato Spears

Friday- Jeanne's Birthday!
Dinner at the legendary, Joe Muer Seafood in Detroit

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekly Menu April 28th - May 4th

Smorgasbord Night - "Clean out the Frig. Night"

Fish Tacos with a Creamy Citrus Slaw
Garden Fresh Salsa
Yellow Rice and Beans

Veggie Burger Salad
Sweet Potato Spears tossed in a Bacon Vinaigrette

Red Curry Lentil Stew
Basmati Rice

Roasted Vegetable Ragu with Multi-grain Pasta

Turkey Meatloaf with Wild Mushroom Gravy
English Peas with Pearl Onions, Vermouth Cream

Family Dinner Out

Thursday, April 26, 2012

French Yogurt Cake

Ok, I found this awesome, lemony version of a pound cake recipe from Andrew Knowlton and it's to die for.  I coupled it with fresh homemade strawberry jam to make an excellent light, spring-time dessert.  Enjoy!!

1 1/2 C. All-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1 C. Sugar
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
3/4 C. Whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 C. Vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
vegetable spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat a standard loaf pan with vegetable sray.  Dust with flour; tap out excess.  In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl rub the sugar and lemon zest together using your fingers until the sugar is moist.  Add to this the yogurt, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.  whisk to blend.  Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and fold just to combine.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top.  Place pan in oven and bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and a teater inserted into the center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.  remove from oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Invert cake onto rack and let cool completely.  This can be made 3-4 days in advance and stored airtight at room temperature.  Serve and Enjoy!

Business Dinner Menu

Fork and Knife Caesar Salad
Dry-Aged Ribeye Steaks with a Five Onion Confit
Wild Mushroom Mac-n-Cheese
Oven Roasted Asparagus
French Yogurt Cake with Homemade Strawberry Jam

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Weekly Menu: April 21st-27th

Seared Tuna with Lemon Aioli Sauce
Red Quinoa Pilaf
Spring Greens Salad with a Zinfandel Vinaigrette

Pork Carnitas with a Tomatillo Salsa
Red Beans and Rice

Orange-Ginger Tofu with Fried Rice
Cucumber Salad with Miso Dressing

Oven Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Root Vegetables

Pasta Florentine with Grape Tomatoes
Garden Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Thursday- (Business Dinner at home)
Fork and Knife Caesar Salad
Dry-Aged Ribeye Steaks with a Five Onion Confit
Wild Mushroom Mac-n-Cheese
Oven Roasted Asparagus
Individual Apple Crisps with Black Walnut Ice Cream

Dinner Out

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Weekly Menu: Apr. 14th - Apr. 20th

Dinner out with Elizabeth- "Barrio" in Birmingham

Chicken Hash with Sweet Peppers and Onions
Butter Lettuce with a Buttermilk Green Goddess Dressing

Shrimp Pad Thai
Green Beans with Garlic and Chiles

Asparagus Frittata with Serrano Ham
Arugula Salad with a Garlic, Oregano, and Lemon Vinaigrette

Seared Salmon with Warm Bacon-Mushroom Vinaigrette
Green Onion Mashed Potatoes

Spagetti and Meatballs
Romaine Salad with a Creamy Roasted Garlic Dressing

"Smorgasbord Night" - Fancy name for left-overs

Warm Bacon-Mushroom Vinaigrette

4 oz. bacon
2 C. sliced mushrooms
3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/4 C. + 3 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Cut bacon into 1/2" wide strips.  Cook bacon with the 3 Tbsp. water in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Stir often, until bacon starts to crisp.  Add mushrooms, cook, tossing occasionally until tender, 5-6 minutes.  Add vinegar and rest of the water; simmer until reduced by half, about 1 minute.  Stir in oil and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in parsley.  Can be made a day ahead and then rewarm before serving.

Garlic, Oregano, and Lemon Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic
2 anchovies, drained
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 seeded lemon, chopped with peel
1/4C. fresh oregano leaves
1/4 C. extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Place garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes in a mini processor and finely chop.  Add lemon (with peel) and oregano, pulse a few times to coarsely chop.  Add oil and process until smooth.  Season with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice if needed.
Can be made 2 days ahead of time and chilled.

Buttermilk Green Godess Dressing

This is an easy great tasting dressing.  It's terrific with a crudite, poached shrimp, or over butter lettuce.

1/2 C. mayonnaise
1/3 C. buttermilk
1/4 C. chopped fresh chives
1/4 C. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
1 chopped garlic clove

Put all of the ingredients in a processor and puree until smooth.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Can be made 2 hours ahead and chilled.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Caramel Apple Crisp

Without  a doubt, this is my favorite dessert.  Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and it's perfection!  Easy to make and always a crowd favorite.

1 C. Flour
6 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1/2 C. almonds

2/3 C. sugar
1/4C. unsweetened apple juice
3 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Pinch of salt
4# Gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1" thick slices
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, rack in middle.  Butter 2 quart baking dish.

For the topping:

Pulse togehter, flour, sugar, butter, salt, and extracts in a food processor until some large clumps form.

Set aside 1/4C. for filling and transfer remaining topping to a bowl.  Stir in almonds.

For the filling:

Cook sugar in a dry 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt.
Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until sugar is melted into a deep-golden caramel.

Remove from the heat and carefully add apple juice, butter, and salt (caramel will harden and stem vigorously).  Cook over low heat, stirring until caramel is dissolved.

Put apples in a large bowl and toss with reserved topping mixture and caramel, then spread in baking dish.

Scatter clumps of topping over apples, squeezing small handfuls of topping into clumps when necessary.

Bake until apples are tender and top is golden and crisp, about an hour.  Cool to warm or room temperature.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and Enjoy!

Weekly Menu- April 7th - April 13th

Saturday- Dinner with Friends
Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Kona Rib Eye Steaks
Green Onion Mashed Potatoes
Baby Asparagus with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette
Arugula Salad with Creamy Honey-Dijon Dressing,
Chopped Egg and Parmesan
Crème Brulee with Butter Crisp Wafers

Sunday- Easter Dinner/ Masters Celebration
Crab Salad with Mint and Chile Crostini
Roasted Rack of Lamb with a Cabernet Shallot Demi
Daulphinoise Potatoes
Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots
Warm Apple Crisp with Cinnamon Ice Cream

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Baby Greens Salad, Shallot vinaigrette

White Bean and Turkey Cassoulet
Baby Green Beans with Roasted Garlic

Chopped Salad with Ribeye Steak, Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

"Clean out the Frig Night"

Dinner out