Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

Kentucky Derby Menu Ideas Party

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and it’s time to prepare your party provisions!  Share these on Saturday in a small backyard soiree or savor them television side with the hubby.

We all know and love the term, “Spring is in the air,” but imagine, too, the divine way it smells, beckoning us to our backyards with the promise of barbeque with the fixin’s….And with Kentucky Derby right around the corner, we can really pull out the Southern stops for a safe and delicious outdoor gathering.

Whether you’re setting an elegant table or wearing a Kentucky Derby hat as you graze an outdoor buffet, consider these your go-to Kentucky Derby party plans:

Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…
Mint Julep Recipe Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@gustavocastilho?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Gustavo de Camargo</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/mint-julep?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

The Kentucky Derby doesn’t have to be a marathon if you play host this weekend. A simple charcuterie board elevated with Southern-style taste and ingredients will come to the rescue! This board’s arranged with deviled eggs, spiced crackers, pimento spread, pickled okra, millionaire’s bacon, my special cilantro shrimp recipe, and an assortment of turkey and ham roll-ups. Serve with Kentucky Derby’s infamous Mint Juleps and you’ll have yourself a party:

The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock, 1930

4 sprigs fresh mint

½ tbls powdered sugar

1 glass bourbon, rye, or Canadian whisky

 

Use a long tumbler and crush mint leaves and dissolved sugar lightly together. Add spirits and fill glass with cracked ice. Stir gently until glass is frosted. Decorate on top with 3 sprigs of mint.

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Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

From family to family, here in the South, there is debate about how to make a traditional hand pie. But one thing is for sure: This recipe makes for a delicious peach pie!  This recipe yields a pie that looks like a puffy, jelly doughnut and is over-the-top delicious. Top with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon and serve with vanilla ice cream for a delicious Southern treat.

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Collard Greens With Slow Roasted Pork Belly

This Southern recipe was made from my Farmer’s Market opening day bounty and pulls together a few of my favorite farmer’s market finds: Tender collard greens, paired with rich pork belly. This dish is perfect if you’ve just had a stash of your greens in your drawer that you’ve been looking to work into a dish or perhaps bought a bushel too much from your local farmer’s market trip. This dish makes for a lovely first course or a wonderful side dish.

 

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Chilled Strawberry Soup for Hot Days

My chilled soup adds farm-fresh sweet strawberries for a cool and refreshing treat.This recipe features both ways of making a gazpacho – you have the option to seed the tomatoes or you don’t. Either way, you’ll still have a great batch of gazpacho!

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Fried Pickles and Comeback Sauce: Your How to Guide

Like pickles? You’ll love this recipe, and you’ll be delighted to discover that there are so many ways to create a delicious batter for your fried pickles. I personally like the combination of seasoned flour and buttermilk for a tangy topping. You can fry them whole or sliced, fried in vegetable or peanut oil – Whatever floats your boat! The comeback sauce featured in this recipe is definitely to die for.

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My Recipe for Hushpuppies is Too Good for Your Dog!

I’ve always considered that my recipe for hush puppies is TOO GOOD…Try it and you be the judge. This recipe is my own version of that South Carolina fisherman’s special recipe. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to follow it precisely to get a tasty result. If you’re looking for a recipe that you can get creative with, this is it! Pick and choose your add-ins and sauces.

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Delicious Ideas for World Health Day 2021

Delicious Ideas for World Health Day 2021

It’s World Health Day, and I’m highlighting five recipes that can kickstart your goal of adding more veggies to your meal plans and staying on the healthy-ish side of the table.

 

The theme for this year’s World Health Day is “Building a fairer, healthier world”. The theme is fitting, considering the year we’ve had surrounding our own health and the health of our families and communities.

The “Pandemic 15” is real!

Maybe you’ve pledged to improve your health, now that the world is slowly opening up. You can start by putting one fork in front of the next. It’s easy!

The key is not to feel discouraged, but to start small and
build towards healthier habits!

So, to give you a boost for this year’s World Health Day, I have compiled put together a little listy of my favorite fresh and healthy-ish recipes that are tasty enough that even a picky hubby wouldn’t turn down a plate.

If you’re looking to start your healthy eating journey, start small by adding more veggies with these meals:

Salads are a great start to your healthy journey! Aside from being easy to prepare, this Mediterranean Tuna Salad won’t make you feel guilty about eating something tasty. It’s tuna salad on steroids… and just what you are looking for when that mid-afternoon craving hits!

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Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

I originally made this recipe because we had so many leftover potatoes. My solution? Turn them as a hash side dish for your main course meal instead! Who says you can’t include carbs in your healthy-ish meal plan. Certainly not me!

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This Vietnamese Eggplant Stew is something I’m really proud of. The eggplant comes out as delicious, velvety, and rich. I learned the technique to make this dish in a cooking class when I visited Hoi An, Vietnam. Totally deserving of my listy since it is WORLD Health Day!​

 

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Just because you are trying to eat veggie-forward meals, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite dishes, like roasted chicken with stuffing. Yumm.

This dressing with veggies recipe that I made has squash, mushrooms, and more! Cinnamon, thyme, and chicken broth combine to make this one of the most delish side dishes you can find. I stuff it into roasted chicken, thick pork chops, or even more veggie-forward into zucchini boats. It’s all good!

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Carrots, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and squash are the stars of this veggie salad. It’s so filling, it doubles as a side dish or main dish meal. Top everything with my very favorite vinaigrette and you have a veggie-forward meal to share with family and friends. 

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Lookalike Sweet Pea Soup

Lookalike Sweet Pea Soup

Hubby and I share a great deal of similarities, but this most recent experience was WAY TOO MUCH! Savor this spring soup with your significant other, in health or toothache!  Click to skip to the recipe

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

They say that if you’ve lived with someone for a very long time you start looking like each other. Hubby and I have lived together for a very….exceptionally long time and although we have many similarities, we don’t look too much like each other.

Or do we? 

We both have blue eyes.

On any given day, after various salon appointments, we both have blonde hair. 

Our tummies aren’t as flat as they once were and getting up and down out of our respective easy chairs, we both have a little hitch in our giddy-up (as my Dad would say). 

Sometimes we come out of the closet and we’re wearing the same colors.

Sometimes we miss the same golf shot.

Sometimes we order the exact same meal. Sometimes we finish each other’s sentences.

And then…there is the whole name thing……

But our recent bonding experience has carried things too far…way too far! 

Hubby made a dentist appointment recently. He reported back that he had a tooth that required repair and a bigger appointment the following week.

By the next day, I had a sore tooth and went to the same dentist.

After a quick x-ray, she emerged with uncomfortable-looking body language and promptly sent me off to an endodontist to discuss a root canal.

That guy was great, but he said no can do and pushed me along to a really nice oral surgeon who scheduled me for a tooth extraction and dental implant the next week.

YIKES!

I reported back to hubby and he laughed and laughed.

He, the owner of a tooth that simply needed repair and me whose tooth was at dental death’s doorstep. I filled my prescription for Valium and prepared for the worst. 

Hubby’s appointment day came, the day before mine, and off he went.

Forty-five minutes later, he texted that he was on his way to my same oral surgeon for an emergency tooth removal.  The dentist had misjudged the decay on his tooth. Go figure. 

Bottom line is that we each lost a tooth in the exact same place in our mouths, twenty-four hours apart.

Now, even our smiles are a bit more similar. 

Which gets me to the recipe this week. Pea soup!!

Yes, in order to ease the swelling, the surgeon recommended that I buy bags of frozen peas. Which I did: Bags and bags and bags of frozen peas.

After the swelling was gone, the peas remained. Note too, that only soft, smooth things were on the Morgan menu for a week or two.

So, our frozen peas did double duty as relief and substance.

Some things don’t change though. Even as similar as we are, I couldn’t convince hubby to eat pea soup.

He hates peas… which worked out just fine for me!

Have a great week and don’t forget to schedule your dentist appointment soon!

Sweet Pea Soup

Yield: 1 Quart

Time: 30 minutes ‘til it’s ready

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas, thawed

2 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, about 2 cups

½ cup dry sherry

Juice from ½ lemon, about 2 tablespoons

2 to 3 dill sprigs

3 to 4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ cup heavy cream

Sour cream for garnish

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

Heat the butter over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and spinach.

Pour in the sherry and cook until most of the liquid disappears, about 4 minutes more. Add the lemon juice and dill sprigs.

Pour in 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer the soup for about 20 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender to liquefy the ingredients to create a smooth, velvety soup. Return the soup to the pot. If the soup is too thick, you can add some more broth.

Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream. At this point, you can chill the soup or heat the soup to warm it up.

It’s great served warm or cold! Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of dill.

Spring Dinner Party Menu Featuring Fresh Dinner Salads

Spring Dinner Party Menu Featuring Fresh Dinner Salads

The secret to entertaining and still having a good time?

 

PLANNING!

Steal my very best springtime entertaining ideas that will guarantee you have just as much fun as your guests with these main course salad ideas!

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

While March isn’t quite marching away from winter, I feel Spring in the air.

Easter is right around the corner and with vaccinations occurring rapidly, families and friends may start gathering to celebrate a new season.

I have a theory about entertaining. I like to keep my eye on the prize of enjoying my party as much as my guests do. I must admit that I usually accomplish this goal!

The secret to making it all happen is to plan, plan, plan. If you spend the time preparing before-hand, when it comes to party time, everything will be ready!  

Putting these two ideas together, I have a party plan to share with you for your right-around-the-corner Spring get-together. My book, “At Home Entertaining”  (If you don’t find it on your shelf, you can still find it on Amazon), contains a plan for a Sunset Picnic Supper.

This party plan was one that our catering company created when we were asked to design a party to go with a groundbreaking ceremony on the lot that would eventually house a four-story office building. The lot was vacant, so we erected a tent and set each place at multiple tables with individual picnic baskets that held the guest’s china, linen napkins, glassware, and even a stem vase with a single fresh flower.

The meal was presented family-style with servers offering platters of main course salads. We prepared all of the pieces of each salad in advance and keep them refrigerated, assembled the dishes on-site, right before serving.

The party was a hit and I’ve served these main dish salads again and again over the years.

I used that party plan to create one for this year. It includes these dishes:

Grilled Flank Steak With Roasted Onions, Sliced Tomatoes, Blue Cheese and Poblano Pepper Vinaigrette

Here’s how: The day before I’ll pound the flank steaks with the rough side of a meat mallet and place them in marinade overnight. I’ll roast the poblano peppers and add them and a handful of spinach leaves to my favorite vinaigrette recipe to create a deeply colored, subtly spiced sauce. This I’ll chill in the fridge.

I’ll roast small (palm-size) white onions, cut into quarters, in the oven until they are golden and syrupy, and store these in the fridge as well.

On the day of the party, I’ll grill the steaks to just medium-rare. I’ll wrap them in foil and refrigerate until about an hour before the party. Removing the steaks, vinaigrette, and onions from the fridge, about an hour before gives me the time I need to bring everything to room temperature. (I like the way food tastes at room temperature instead of chilled from the fridge.) 

To assemble the salad, I cut ripe, beefsteak tomatoes into slices and lay them around the outside of a large platter. Then I’ll top these with chunks of blue cheese. I’ll lay the onions inside the ring of tomatoes. 

Then I’ll slice the steaks into thin strips and pile them high into the center of the dish. I’ll drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the top of the salad and serve the rest on the side. And

I’ll do all of this before the first guest arrives! The salad will be good-to-go for several hours.

Poached Chicken In Tuna Sauce

This is a dish based loosely on a dish called Vitello Tonnato (veal with tuna-caper sauce) and is perfect for this party because it is made the day ahead. Whole chicken breasts are poached in wine and broth with veggies and herbs.

Then these are sliced and layered onto a platter and covered in a rich sauce made with tuna, anchovies, capers, lemon juice, and mayo.

I’ll refrigerate the dish overnight which allows the slices of chicken to absorb all the flavors of the sauce. All I have to do is remove the platter from the fridge and garnish with lemon slices, capers, and fresh parsley.

I’ll add a ring of baby artichokes around the edge of the platter…. just because I can!

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

Roasted Salmon In the Grass With Cucumber Mint Sauce

This is the secret to perfectly roasted salmon….Shhhhhhh… don’t tell!

….It’s brown sugar.

Yup, I spice my salmon with brown sugar. I mix the sugar with everything else in my spice drawer and then rub it all over the salmon. Twenty minutes of roasting in a hot oven and you have the most delish salmon that you can easily serve at room temperature.

I’ll lay the salmon over barely sauteed spinach (the grass) and drizzle it with a sauce made from fresh cucumbers, sour cream, and fresh mint. Oh boy!

I’ll round out the menu with Farmer’s Market Orzo Salad from “Canvas and Cuisine” and Herbed Onion Biscuits.

Dessert will be my spring-time favorite
Sunshine Cake from Sunday Best Dishes”

Even I want to be invited to this Spring dinner. How about you?

Secret Squash In The Kitchen…Filming!

Secret Squash In The Kitchen…Filming!

New ways lead to new ideas!  I’m excited to share my Honey Roasted Spaghetti Squash recipe and NEW news about what I have cookin’ up in my kitchen…  Click to skip to the recipe

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

Want to know a secret? Here it is.

I’ve been filming for a new video series featuring me…. talking to you…. about FOOD!

We’ve just started, and I’m not sure where it’s going but in these videos, I show you how to cook one thing in several different ways.

This idea grew out of the many, many conversations that I’ve had with friends and readers who are saying that they are sooooo bored with the food that they are cooking.

And, let’s face it, we’ve been cooking at home a lot this past year.

One of the segments I shot featured spaghetti squash. In order to show you how to prepare the squash and the dishes, I surrounded myself with a whole bunch of these football-size veggies. Six in all!

After the video was in the can (I don’t think it ever goes into a can anymore, I think it shoots up into the clouds, but who knows?) I was left with a few of these babies that I hoisted onto a platter for future use.

These squash are durable and last a really long time.

Later that evening, I found myself at a local restaurant with a few of my gal pals. I started perusing the menu and low and behold, listed right there under “Lighter Fare” was a roasted spaghetti squash dish.

I told my friends about the day’s earlier video and we decided to share an order or two to try it out. It was delish!

There was a discussion and I found out that most of the gals loved the dish and many of them would make it at home, but there was a learning curve that required some climbing before anyone would tackle the squash. 

I developed a recipe that copies the restaurant’s dish and distributed my remaining squash to the gals who decided to give it a try. It’s pretty darn good.

I’ll keep you posted on the videos. Meanwhile, if you are looking for new ideas for the same ole’ things that you cook every day, don’t hesitate to send me a request.

I might invite you to come over and video with me! 😉

Honey Roasted Spaghetti Squash
With Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Serves: 4

Time: 60 minutes ‘til it’s ready

Ingredients

For Squash:

2 medium spaghetti squash

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper


For Dish:

2 tablespoons roasted garlic butter (see Tip 1)

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, and diced

¼ pound fresh spinach leaves, about 1 cup

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

3 to 4 basil leaves, rolled into a cigar shape tube and thinly sliced

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and pulp. Place onto a baking sheet, cut-side facing up. Drizzle the flesh of the squash with honey, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Flip the squash and bake cut-side down until soft, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Melt roasted garlic butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the spinach leaves and cook until they are wilted, just a minute or two. 

Use a fork to pull strands from the cooked squash that resemble thin angel hair pasta. Add to the pan and toss with the sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. Season with additional salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with pine nuts, thin strips of basil, and shaved Parmesan cheese.

Tip 1:

The rich flavors of roasted garlic and butter add to the deliciousness of this sauce. Here’s my recipe:


Roasted Garlic Compound Butter:

4 large heads of garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground oregano

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons butter, softened


Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut about ¼ of the top off the bulbs and discard. Place the bulbs onto a sheet of aluminum foil, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with oregano, salt, and pepper. Close the foil loosely around the bulbs leaving a hole at the top. Place into the oven and bake until the cloves are golden, soft, and climbing out of their papery skins. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Place the butter into a small bowl. Squeeze the cloves into the bowl with the butter. Use a fork to mash everything together. Spread the garlic butter onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to roll the garlic butter into a cylinder twisting the ends to make a tight roll. Place the butter into the fridge to firm up.

Slice the butter into rounds and place on grilled meats, fish, or veggies.

Tip 2:

Toast pine nuts by placing them into a skillet over medium heat. You can move the skillet around to roll the nuts on the bottom of the pan. Watch closely, as the nuts will toast quickly. Once they are fragrant (and you will love that aroma), they’re done! Remove the nuts from the skillet right away.

Tip 3:

When you stack basil leaves and then roll them into a cylinder and then thinly slice them, it’s called chiffonade. Just wanted you to know!

I Did It My Way! Veal Sinatra Inspired By Locanda Rustica

I Did It My Way! Veal Sinatra Inspired By Locanda Rustica

Tonight’s dish is inspired by a local Tequesta/Jupiter hangout where everyone knows your name and the Chicken Sinatra SINGS!  Make veal in marsala wine sauce, MY WAY! Click to skip to the recipe

pumpin swordfish chowder

Everyone has a favorite neighborhood restaurant. And every favorite neighborhood restaurant has a specialty dish.

We have one such restaurant in our neighborhood. The name is Locanda Rustica and it holds court among other small eateries in a strip center on the main drag in Jupiter, FL.

This is the kind of place that sees repeat customers on repeat days. If it’s Wednesday, and the Coleman’s don’t appear at their established time, there will be an inquiry from the owner as to where they were, when they show up the next week.

Patrons are known by their first name, and their drink order is served before it’s ordered. Guest of these patrons are introduced to staff as if they were meeting their family. Before the bread is served, the specialties are announced.

It’s at this moment that you realize you just hit the jackpot of weeknight dining!

This week’s specialty dish was Chicken Sinatra and let me tell you, Frank would be Flying to the Moon over this one.

He would toss Three Coins in the Fountain to get seconds.

He would have High Hopes to know that It Was A Very Good Life that included Chicken Sinatra.

There are no Strangers in the Night when it comes to this dish and you don’t have to be in New York, New York to eat it. 

Spinach, prosciutto, and cheese are sandwiched between two thin chicken cutlets. Then they are battered and sauteed. Two people at our table ordered this special, and I took a bite out of each! I was still left wanting.

You could say that I Got Chicken Sinatra Under My Skin. That’s why two nights later, I found myself creating a dish using it as my inspiration.

I had veal instead of chicken, salami instead of prosciutto, and fresh sage leaves instead of spinach. I added my mother-in-law’s Masala wine sauce. It was delish! I did it MY WAY!

The next time you are in your favorite eatery, I hope you get inspired by a weeknight special dish. After all, That’s Life!!

Veal Sinatra
In Marsala Wine Sauce

Serves: 2

Time:  30 minutes ’til it’s ready

Ingredients

4 thin slices veal cutlet, about 3 to 4 ounces

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

4 thin slices of Swiss cheese

Two thin slices of salami, cut in half

 6 to 8 sage leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1 cup all-purpose flour

For sauce:

1 large shallot, peeled and finely diced

1-pint white mushrooms, sliced

1 cup Marsala wine

1 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons butter

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

Place the veal slices between two pieces of parchment paper. Use a meat mallet to pound the veal to about ¼-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Layer 2 slices of veal with cheese, followed by salami and sage. Top with the remaining veal slices forming two veal sandwiches!

Place the flour into a shallow bowl. Whisk the egg with the water. Dredge one veal sandwich into the four, coating both sides. Gently shake of excess flour and then dip into the egg, again coating both sides. Shake off the excess egg and dredge once more into the flour. Place the coated veal onto a plate and repeat with the second sandwich. 

Heat 2 tablespoons of both olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is bubbling add the veal. Cook until golden brown on one side, about2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn and cook until golden on the other side, another few minutes. Transfer to a platter. 

Add the shallot and mushrooms to the skillet. Cook until the shallot pieces are soft, and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Food Creation 101 With Cheese and Cracker Chicken Recipe

Food Creation 101 With Cheese and Cracker Chicken Recipe

My recipe inspirations borrow from my favorite shows, restaurants, and magazines…and also what makes me HUNGRY. And this is how my Cheese and Crackers Chicken was born! Click to skip to the recipe

pumpin swordfish chowder

People always ask me where I get my recipes. I tell the truth, that I love to copy food from magazines, restaurants, and tv shows. And I do.

But the real truth is that those inspirations are often, just that; an idea for a dish that makes me hungry.

For example, I’ll see a lovely magazine picture of a wine-rich beef stew, and my tummy grumbles. Or Molly Yeh will make a skillet of perfectly cheesy nachos, and I want to grab one through the tv screen.

Or I see a waiter go past my table with a dish and I’ll stop him to ask, “What’s that?”, knowing just the passing aroma and food presentation is enough to make me curious.

My food is based on inspiration but also on what makes me hungry.

It’s also based on what I have on hand. I might be hankerin’ for chicken, but if I’m lacking my favorite pieces (chicken thighs) then that plain old breast will do.

I can not stand to waste food, so those last bits of carrot or lonely sweet potato will find themselves on the dinner plate that night too.

So, when people ask me where I get my recipes, the answer is that I get hungry, I see a dish that might satisfy that hunger, and then I see what I have in the fridge that will make it happen.

This is how my recipe for Cheese and Cracker Chicken was born.

It started with my devotion to cheese and crackers. This is my go-to food when the tummy rumbles and that fasting headache emerges. Just a little bite of cheese takes the edge off. This works…for a while.

What happens next is that cheese begins to sneak its way into my dish. I love cheese on my scrambled eggs. Cheese in my salad. Cheese and crackers for my snack. Then inspiration hits.

Why not cheese and crackers in my chicken dinner?

I had the remnants of a box of everything seasoned Ritz crackers and the bottom half of a plastic container of grated Parm. Defrosted chicken breasts and some odds and ends veggies created a great meal.

I sliced the chicken breasts in half and generously coated each with cracker crumbs so that each bite contained that crackery goodness.

Then I made a simple white sauce laced with just enough Parmesan cheese to consider it cheese sauce.

Cheese and Crackers chicken was born with the perfect side dish of curry roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower. That ladies and gentlemen, is how I create my food.

Enjoy!

Cheese and Crackers Chicken

Serves: 4

Time:  30 minutes ’til it’s ready

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 sleeve buttery round crackers

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh thyme

Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe

Place the chicken breasts onto your work surface. Place your hand on top of one breast. Use your very sharp knife to cut each in half horizontally. Repeat create 4 pieces. Brush each piece on both sides with mustard and season with salt and pepper.

Smash the crackers into small pieces. Use a meat mallet, rolling pin or the bottom of a sauté pan to gently crush the crackers in the sleeve. Then you can simply pour the crumbs into a shallow dish. There will be about 2 cups of crumbs.

Dredge the chicken breasts in the cracker crumbs generously coating both sides of the chicken. Transfer the coated breast to a platter.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is bubbling, place the chicken into the pan. (You can do this in batches if your pan will not accommodate all 4 breasts.) Cook until golden on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook on the second side until golden making sure that the chicken is cooked through, about another 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a clean platter.

Sprinkle the flour over the juices remaining in the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Whisk the flour in the pan to form a bubbly paste, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve the Parmesan cheese sauce over the cracker-crumbed chicken. Garnish with fresh thyme.

Here, Fishy, Fishy: Pumpkin Swordfish Chowder

Here, Fishy, Fishy: Pumpkin Swordfish Chowder

Here, fishy, fishy, I have a new recipe for you!  Try this recipe to repurpose leftover fish for a hearty and satisfying chowder, brimming with all of your favorite vegetables. Because I had pumpkin swordfish, I “peppered” the chowder with like-colored ingredients, but remember, it’s your fish chowder. Click to skip to the recipe

pumpin swordfish chowder

I had friends over for a fussy dinner the other night. 

I did my version of surf and turf by grilling both a butterflied leg of lamb and delicious pumpkin swordfish steaks. Don’t fret, recipes will follow!

I ended up with a bunch of leftovers. You know how I am. I cannot stand to waste food.

The wheels started runnin’ and I thought about leftover recipes for the swordfish.

Swordfish cakes came to mind as did my Bubba Gump’s list of other fish dishes like swordfish gumbo, swordfish fried-rice, swordfish salad, swordfish burgers, swordfish spread…well, you get the picture.

In the end, fish chowder won out and I created a recipe that worked out just fine.

Because I had pumpkin swordfish, I “peppered” the chowder with like-colored ingredients using sweet potatoes and carrots to flavor the broth. But remember, it’s your fish chowder. 

You can use whatever fish you have leftover and your favorite chowder veggies.

It’s really all about the fishy, creamy rich broth that makes this soooo good. Serve with a wedge of cheesy garlic bread and a green salad and invite those friends back to join in the FUN!

Pumpkin Swordfish Chowder

Serves: 6

Time:  30 minutes ’til it’s ready

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

½ red onion, finely diced

6 ribs celery, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 medium white potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons flour

½ cup white wine

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

1 pound cooked swordfish steak, chopped into ½-inch pieces

Chopped, fresh parsley

Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe

Melt the butter in a deep soup pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Stir and cook until the veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes. Cook for 3 minutes more. Season the veggies with salt, pepper, and thyme. Sprinkle the flour over the top. Pour in the wine. Stir until the liquid thickens and begins to reduce, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and cream. Stir in the swordfish. Reduce the heat to simmer the chowder over low heat. Continue to cook until the potatoes soften, and the broth is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. For thicker broth add more cream. For thinner broth, add more chicken stock.

Tip 1:

Pumpkin swordfish has a delicate, orange-colored flesh made possible because the fish eat a whole bunch of pink shrimp and krill. I created this soup after I over-prepared swordfish for a special dinner I had with friends. I grilled the fish and finished it with a bit of butter. The leftovers were just too delish to lose, thus the soup. I added carrots and sweet potato to go with the orangish color of the fish. But you can use this recipe as a guideline. Any fish will do and plain ole’ swordfish works just fine. Add more regular spuds if you don’t have sweet potatoes and flavor this rich chowder with any of your favorite spices. It’s all good!


     

Just A Little (Italian) Cookie

Just A Little (Italian) Cookie

Those that have tip-toed out of their bubble have plenty of tales to tell, and this one is about a little (Italian) cookie. Click to skip to the recipe

Best Italian Cookie Recipe

Those of us that have tip-toed out of our bubble to enjoy a restaurant meal have plenty of tales to tell.

Mine is about a lovely restaurant in Tequesta called EVO. Chef Erik Pettersen has a stellar reputation that reaches beyond our quiet community. He specializes in authentic Italian fare just like his mother Nancy envisioned. The restaurant has won awards noting the transition from her local farm-to-table dinner fare to the “EVOlution” of Chef Erik’s fine dining.

Let’s just say it’s a real treat.

Like many restaurants, EVO has adapted to the current situation by spacing indoor tables and adapting outdoor space to accommodate as many safely-distanced tables as possible. The dinner we shared with two other (bubble) friends was simply delish!

But what impressed me most came after the main meal. 

Here’s the deal: When I finally get to a lovely restaurant, I ABSOLUTELY chow down on everything put in front of me.

The olives, the shavings of Parmesan cheese; the fresh, warm bread dipped into a saucer of olive oil with EVO written in balsamic vinegar. Yes, written in balsamic vinegar!

And then, not yet full, and still excited to be OUT, I order. I order a copious amount of food and swallow each bite with a fair amount of delicious wine.

By the time I finish the last bite from the plate, I feel pretty darn good. Dessert menus are offered, and we all decline (Gluttony is for closets, not outdoor dining tables, after all).

Then, the waitress brings out two small plates of Italian cookies. These teeny, little buttery bites are just sitting there…on the table…in front of me. Well, who can resist? Certainly, not me!

In an attempt to tamper down my desire for restaurant dining, I decided to bake these cookies at home, hoping that if I had them at my fingertips, then I wouldn’t feel the need to make dining reservations.

Well, that didn’t work. I have a reservation at EVO tomorrow night. 😉

But these home-baked cookies are fun to make, fun to dip in chocolate, and fun to dust with sprinkles. Just a great little bite!

Italian Butter Cookies

Serves: Makes about three dozen 2-inch cookies

Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, 2 sticks

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles

Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Use an electric mixer to beat the butter until it is fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar. Mix in the sugar on low speed working up to medium speed. Stir in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Stop the machine and then add the flour, stirring it in a little bit at a time.

Spoon about a third of the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the batter onto the baking sheet in about 2-inch lengths about 2-inches apart. Continue until all the cookies are on the baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are just beginning to turn golden on the edges, about 8 minutes. Cool the cookies on a rack.

Place the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl. Melt the chocolate using 30 second intervals until soft and smooth. Dip the ends of the cookies into the chocolate and dust with your favorite sprinkles.

Tip 1:

For true Italian butter cookies, you can use the star tip to pipe. But for fun, you can use other tips to create your favorite shapes. If you’re in a hurry, use an ice cream scoop to mound cookies onto the baking sheet and flatten to form circles.

My Oh My Oh Myer Lemon Cake

My Oh My Oh Myer Lemon Cake

When life gives you lemons, make THIS cake and give it your fresh take, layer after layer.  Click to skip to the recipe

Meyer Lemon Layer Cake

Back in the day, when you wanted to get your hands on Meyer lemons, you had to know a guy who knew a guy.

Luckily, today, Meyer lemons show up in the produce department in your local grocery store with regularity.

A Meyer lemon is sweeter than it’s sourpuss counterpart and not quite as sweet as its orange blossomy friend. It’s perfect to use in layer cakes, both in the batter and the buttercream frosting. 

I accent this yummy cake with a scoop of orange sherbet because, well cake just has to have ice cream on the side. And, I add some strawberries not only for color, but I sprinkle each one with a bit of cracked pepper for just a little hint of heat to tame down all that sweet.

This cake screams for your invention. Use any citrus, lemon, orange, or lime and layer it up by using three small pans to bake the cake making it three layers tall. It all works!

Remember when life gives you lemons….Reach for the Meyer’s Rum. Is that how that saying goes??

Meyer Lemon Layer Cake
With Orange Sherbet and Peppered Strawberries

Serves: A Crowd

Time:  20 minutes plus baking and frosting and altogether about 1 ½ hours

Ingredients

For cake:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1.2 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, room temperature

1 ¾ cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

Zest from 3 Meyer lemons, about 2 tablespoons

Juice from 2 Meyer lemons, about ⅓ cup


For frosting:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks room temperature

5 cups confectioners’ sugar

Juice from 1 Meyer lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

Orange Sherbet

Strawberries, halved, cut side dipped in coarse black pepper

 

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 425°. Season the eggplants with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place into a colander for 30 minutes to exude excess moisture. Stir together ½ cup olive oil, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Brush both sides of the eggplant with the seasoned olive oil. Place onto a baking sheet and roast until the slices are tender and golden, about 30 minutes. The slices can overlap. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.

Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet.  Cook the onion and carrots until soft and golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the lamb to the pan.  Cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  

Stir in the wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and cinnamon stick.  Simmer the ragù for 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove the cinnamon stick.

Heat the butter in a deep pot over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Cook until golden and bubbling, about 2 to 4 minutes.  Pour in the milk.  Cook, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.  Season with ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Assemble the casserole by placing a layer of eggplant slices in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Top with half of lamb ragù.  Add another layer of eggplant and another layer of lamb.  Finish with a layer of eggplant.  Top the casserole with béchamel sauce.  Bake until the casserole is bubbly, and the top is golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Allow the casserole to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh mint.