4th of July Party, Safely: A Socially-Distanced BBQ Get-Together Plan

4th of July Party, Safely: A Socially-Distanced BBQ Get-Together Plan

Host a social distancing get-together this July 4th with tips to stay safe and recipes to make it delicious!

Click to skip to the recipes

With so many large-scale activities canceled for the 4th of July holiday, small gatherings with appropriate social distancing are the sign of the times.

This year, my family barbecue is trimmed down to immediate family with only a few (very close) family friends. I will miss the annual get-together of friends and neighbors. Mostly, I will miss seeing the kids that grow from children to tweens to teens to young adults each year.

But, with my “glass is always half-full” vision, I appreciate the opportunity to spend more time with loved ones and less time preparing for a big bash. After all, those glow-in-the-dark bracelets will last ‘til next year!

We are who we are, and we Americans will celebrate! Trying to plan for my slimmed-down annual party, I started by putting my caterer’s hat on.


Back in the day, when my pals and I were planning a Memorable Occasion’s (the name of my old catering company) party we would lay out the menu and then come up with some clever way to serve it. We were always short of staff, so serve-yourself food was a great solution when feeding a crowd.

This strategy works perfectly when you are planning an appropriate socially distanced backyard Fourth of July barbecue. Allowing your guests to choose their own items from individual containers is smarter in today’s climate.


Here are some pointers for a safe and social distancing get-together:

 

  1. Fresh air is best for this year’s celebration. If it’s possible sit outside. Sit on your back porch, in your back yard, even in your driveway.  If you are rained out, or don’t have enough space, open the windows to let the fresh air in. 
  2. It’s still okay to ask your guests to bring a dish. No one says you, the host, must do it all. But we’re going to ask either that the dish is brought in individual portions, or that you dish it up in the kitchen before serving. This is not the time for a buffet supper. 
  3. Serve right from the grill. For example, let guests bring their bun to you when grilling dogs and burgers! Condiment packs are key here for mustard and ketchup, but you can also be safe by providing several bowls of condiments and allowing each guest to use his or her own spoon for scooping diced onions and peppers.
  4. As much as you can, serve everything individually. Use whatever you have around the house as containers. My plan this year is to serve scoops of potato salad in metal cups, shrimp on skewers, and stuffed mushrooms on porcelain tasting spoons. A homemade milkshake served in a mason jar, dripping with chocolate and nuts, or doused in sprinkles is the best of the best when you’re talking personal desserts. Get creative with what you have, but also take a look at all the clever paper goods that are available to hold sides and desserts. 
  5. Don’t forget to get the kids involved. Kids can pass around trays of individual appys and help prepare those decorative shakes. The more people involved, in the safest way… the better!

There are lots of ways to celebrate what is a most important American holiday, but there’s only one way to make it perfect. And that is by sharing it with your friends and family who you love and who love you back! 

Happy Fourth, everyone.

And here are a couple of my favorite recipes for you to try.

Spicy Potato Salad

Ingredients

Potato salad is a picnic and cold supper staple. When spiced up with a little hot sauce, it becomes a devilish addition to most everyday meals. Feel free to make this day a day in advance to allow the spicy flavors to marry with the potatoes.

5 pounds small red creamer potatoes, cut into ¼-inch pieces

1 bunch (6 to 8) green onions, chopped (about ½ cup)

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon paprika

4 to 6 drops hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Servings:   6 – 8

Time:  30 minutes, plus chilling

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Drain and place into a bowl.

Add the onions to the bowl. Stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard paprika and hot sauce.  Pour this mixture over the potatoes. Toss the potatoes with the dressing.

Season with salt and pepper and if you like with additional hot pepper sauce.

Chill the salad for 1 hour or overnight.  Sprinkle the salad with fresh cilantro.

Beer Basted Baby Back Ribs with Jack Daniels Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients

This is a foolproof way to prepare moist, tender, and never over-cooked ribs. By steaming the ribs in a slow oven, the meat cooks in advance of grilling; therefore, the time spent grilling is significantly reduced.

For ribs:

6 pounds baby back ribs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garlic powder

1 (12-ounce) can beer

For sauce:

1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup cider vinegar

½ cup dark molasses

¼ cup canola oil

¼ cup Jack Daniels whiskey

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 or more drops hot pepper sauce

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Servings:   4 – 6 

Time:  Several hours in the oven and about 20 minutes on the grill

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season the ribs with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Place them onto a rack in the bottom of a large roasting pan.  Pour the beer into the pan.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil.  Place the pan into the oven.  Cook until the ribs are quite tender, but not falling off the bone, about 2 to 3 hours.

For the sauce, bring the tomatoes, vinegar, molasses, canola oil, whiskey, mustard, chili powder, cinnamon, and as much hot pepper sauce as you like, to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the ribs to an outdoor grill over medium-high heat.  Cook, turning often until well browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Baste the ribs with sauce during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Transfer the ribs to a board and slice into individual servings.

Invite guests to bring their plates to you and serve with a drizzle of extra sauce on the side.

Shoots and Sprouts and Other Market Finds

Shoots and Sprouts and Other Market Finds

There’s nothin’ that says “South In Your Mouth” like tomato pie and this one says it all! Also, learn how to make a melting, fragrant, nutty pesto that is delicious as a condiment on summer sweet corn, pasta, and atop your avocado toast!  Click to skip to the recipe

 

In the age of “New Normal”, strolling the early Saturday morning Farmer’s Market takes on new character.

Gone is the plucking of a purplish tomato, brought to the nose for a quick sniff. The mask gets in the way!

The lines at the veggie stands are a little longer, now that we queue up six feet apart.

Displays of fresh baked goods are abandoned and replaced by take home bake-it-yourself wrapped containers.

It can all be a tad disheartening.

Except that if you spend a slower amount of time strolling, you may just see something you’ve missed during your past visits.

And that, my friends, happened to me this past weekend. I discovered Sunshine Cove Farm.

Sunshine Cove Farm is a small-scale farm with a big mission. They are working to build local resilience in the mountain community by finding ways to grow A LOT of nutritious food with a limited footprint.

They specialize in produce that packs BIG nutritional value into a little space. Their harvest includes microgreens, shoots, edible flowers, and specialty vegetables.

I was drawn to the stand because of their unique marketing. Gourmet packets held mixes with names like Pico de Gallo and Immunity Mix.

Well, I just couldn’t resist.

I bought a couple of packages and slipped them into my basket with my other goodies and headed home.

Since my Pico de Gallo Mix included cilantro, onion, and lime basil, I decided to incorporate these shoots and sprouts into my garlic scape pesto.

It was YUM!

Pesto is great on veggies or pasta, but I slathered some on a rack of lamb the other evening and it was beyond delish.

When company came a-calling for a little Sunday night potluck, I topped my utterly Southern Tomato Pie with some of the shoots and sprouts from the Market Mix and the edible flowers were the perfect garnish.

If you can’t make it to the market, you can order from Sunshine Cover Farms online. It’s worth the effort! (So, is the pie!!)

Enjoy!!

Tomato Pie

Tomato Pie

Ingredients

There’s nothin’ that says “South In Your Mouth” like tomato pie and this one says it all!

1 pre-baked pie shell (see note)

4 large tomatoes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces Mozzarella cheese, grated, about 1 cup

4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated, about 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon black pepper

4 to 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Assorted microgreens for garnish

Servings:

Time:

6 to 8

40-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°. Slice the tomatoes and place them into a colander. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let them sit for 10 minutes.

Mix together the cheeses and mayonnaise in a bowl. Fold in the green onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the bacon over the bottom of the pie crust. Layer the tomatoes on top of the bacon. Sprinkle the tomatoes with basil and green onions. Spoon the cheese topping over everything.

Bake the pie until the topping begins to turn golden and is melty and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and cool. Spread the microgreens over the top of the pie. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make-Ahead Tip:

Get a head start on this delicious dish by using a refrigerated pie crust. To prebake the crust, preheat your oven to 400°. 

Place the pie dough into a pie pan and crinkle the edges. Pierce the bottom of the dough with the tines of a fork. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the pie shell. Fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake until the edges begin to turn golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pie shell from the oven. Remove the parchment paper and the weights.

Bake until the bottom of the shell is just golden, about 5 to 8 minutes more. Remove the shell from the oven and reduce the heat to 350° to continue the recipe.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients

In the early summer market, you can find long, green, circles of thin stalks that are garlic scapes. These are the flower bud of garlic plants. They are cut off the plant so that the bulb grows fatter and fatter. These strands of garlicky goodness can be used in the same way as garlic cloves with no peeling of course! I use them to make pesto and then I spread that pesto on everything. Melting, fragrant, nutty pesto is delicious as a condiment on summer sweet corn, pasta, and atop your avocado toast!

Yield:

Time:

About 2 Cups

20-Minute Cuisine

2 bunches garlic scapes (about 20 shoots)

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, about 4 cups

Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons

4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about 1 cup

1 cup toasted pine nuts

1 package Pico de Gallo shoots and microgreens  (substitute with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro)

1 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the garlic scapes into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to finely chop.

Add the basil, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. Pulse to combine. Add the microgreens and pulse one more time. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil. The result will be a smooth paste. Stop the machine and season with salt and pepper. Pulse one more time.

Transfer to a mason jar with lie, or resealable container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week or store in ice cube trays in the freezer for up to 6 months.

One Potato, Two Potatoes, Three Potatoes…More!

One Potato, Two Potatoes, Three Potatoes…More!

The other day, I was rummaging around in my fridge and discovered a treasure trove of leftover potatoes! Multitask those spuds with two different recipes sure to hit the spot. Click to skip to the recipe

I love potatoes. 

I think this devotion stems from early breakfasts shared with my Dad. 

To quell my then rebellious teenage persona, Dad would spend quality time with me on the weekends.

He traveled for his business during the week but was always home on the weekends. Saturday morning was our time.

We woke early (thus my lifelong habit) and drove to his office where he would catch up on paperwork and I would help him run job cost numbers.

First things first, we stopped for breakfast on the way. Many times, it was just to gather a box of donuts to share with the others in the office. 

But SOMETIMES we would splurge and stop at the local Denny’s restaurant. 

We would sit, sip really good coffee and Dad would order either a Denny’s Grand Slam or Denny’s Skillet breakfast. The grand slam loaded pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, and fried potatoes onto one large plate. The skillet was just that, a cast-iron skillet loaded with potato and meat hash and topped with a couple of eggs – your way. 

It’s been almost 20 years since my Dad went to heaven and my fondest memories still include the joy on his face as he tore into that meal.

The other day, when I was rummaging around in my fridge, I was delighted to find a treasure trove of leftover potatoes! I had leftover twice-baked from last Sunday’s potluck supper and a baked potato because hubby and I decided to split one instead of consuming a whole.

And, I even had a mound of left-over smashed parmesan potatoes from Monday night’s meatloaf dinner. Eureka!

It’s one of the good cook’s miracles that leftover potatoes will last a long time in the fridge, giving you an opportunity for a second dish with just a little effort. 

So, with a nod to my Dad, and a love of leftovers, I have two dishes for you this week.

The first is a breakfast skillet made from the baked potato and enhanced with beef, bacon, peppers and onions and topped with a glazed egg.

This is a hearty breakfast that is super served after an early morning hike or when combining breakfast and lunch into one leisurely brunch meal.

The second dish was FUN. I used the inside of the twice-baked potato with the mound of mashed and made a potato croquette that was perfectly (and simply) fried crisp on the outside with a soft, almost gooey center.

Yumm oh yumm!

 

Breakfast Skillet With Glazed Eggs

Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

Ingredients

A perfect use for leftover potatoes, feel free to add absolutely anything into your hash.

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 sliced bacon, diced

4 ounces beef (I used tenderloin, but you can substitute with ham, corned beef, or chicken, it’s your choice), about 1 cup

1 large baked potato, cooked and cut into ½-inch cubes, about 1 cup

1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes, about 1 cup

1 white onion, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes, about 1 cup

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated, about ½ cup

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

For eggs:

1 tablespoon butter

4 large eggs

Servings:

Time:

2

30-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Drizzle the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and beef. Cook until the bacon begins to crisp. Remove the bacon and beef from the skillet. Add the potato, pepper, and onions to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook until the onions and peppers are soft, and the potato begins to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the bacon and beef back onto the skillet and toss. Scatter the cheese on top of the hash. Cover the skillet and cook to melt the cheese. Toss the fresh dill over the top.

Place the butter into a separate skillet (with lid) over medium heat. When the butter is melted, crack the eggs into the pan. Fill an empty eggshell half with water and pour this into the pan. The water will bubble up. Cover the pan with a lid. Lower the heat to medium-low. Coo the eggs until the yolks are just set, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Scoop out the hash onto a plate. Top the hash with eggs. Garnish with dill sprigs.

Mashed Potato Croquettes

Ingredients

Starting out with seasoned left-over mashed potatoes makes this an easy recipe to prepare. However, if you like to start from scratch, just bake a couple of potatoes and scoop out the flesh. You can season with salt and pepper and even add some sour cream or cheddar cheese. It’s all good!

4 cups left over mashed potatoes

1 large egg yolk, plus 1 whole egg

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons milk

2 to 3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs

Canola (or vegetable) oil for frying

Yield:

Time:

1 Dozen 3-inch croquettes

30-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the mashed potatoes into a bowl. Stir in the egg yolk (reserve the white part), and green onions. Place the bowl into the fridge for a couple of minutes while you assemble the breading station.

Place the whole egg and the egg white into a shallow bowl. Beat with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water until combined. Place the seasoned breadcrumbs into another shallow bowl. 

Remove the potatoes from the fridge. Use an ice cream scoop to form round potato balls that you dip into the egg wash and then the breadcrumbs. Transfer each ball to a parchment lined sheet pan or platter. When all the croquettes are formed, place them back into the fridge for 15 minutes. 

Heat oil in a fryer or deep pot to 375°. Fry the croquettes in the oil a couple at a time until deeply golden. Transfer to a paper-towel lined platter. When all of the croquettes are fried garnish with a touch of sea salt and fresh herbs.

Make Ahead Tip:

You can make these ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring them to room temperature before you fry.

My Best Cinco de Mayo Recipes 🌮

My Best Cinco de Mayo Recipes 🌮

Cinco de Mayo may come but once a year, but Taco Tuesday is forever! Discover new twists on old favorites from my recipe archive.

Steak Tacos/Carnitas

 

 

Mexican-American dishes are a welcome addition to your kitchen’s menu any day of the year.  Savor these Cinco de Mayo specials today and as new Taco Tuesday favorites!

Easy Mexican Street Corn, Skillet Style

No fresh corn? No problem. The recipe produces results that are super savory with the right amount of tang, even with frozen or canned kernels!

Steak Tacos With Tomatillo-Ancho Chili Sauce and Avocado Cream

Chili seasoned meat drizzled with spicy red and creamy green sauce, garnished with fresh herbs make this street food taco an elevated Cinco de Mayo treat

Steak Tacos/Carnitas

Pico De Gallo The Green Goddess Way

This green goddess chunky pico de gallo sauce is absolute perfection on a pork-filled burrito, or in a bowl of rice and beans – or simply weighing down a tortilla chip.

Grilled Guacamole

Serve on nachos, as a condiment on fish or chicken, or…how about frying a tortilla in oil for just a couple of secs. 

Guacamole Dip

Dipping My Toe in the New Normal

Dipping My Toe in the New Normal

Comfort food is just what we need, whether we are in self-isolation, quarantine, or shelter-in-place. My Tomato Soup recipe hits the spot and offers a savory solution to navigating “the new normal”.  Click to skip to the recipe!

 

Tomato Soup in Bowl with Crackers

 

We’re about to start the process of opening our county after eight weeks of social distancing. In a way, we’ve grown accustomed to staying at home.

Shelter-in-place has been weird. But what is even weirder is how quickly we’ve become used to it.

Waking up alone or with your kids or with your significant other and your kids and your significant other and maybe your mother…. and having nowhere to go. No plans on the horizon. No reason to get spiffed-up. No goals, no pat on the back for a job well done. It’s been lonely, challenging, and life-changing.

And now, just like that we’re supposed to go back to a new norm.

When I canvas my friends, I hear apprehension. While we’re home and quarantined, we’re safe from the silent enemy. But now, venturing out, facemasks in place, we fight a new challenge: how to exist in a society where the virus hides around every corner.
It is a crazy, insecure feeling; one that we must overcome in order to go on.

Personally, I am going to rely on my comforts as I dip my toe in the new norm. My hand sanitizer is stashed in my glove box. I’ve ordered designer face masks (of course I did….). I wash my hands constantly and stay six feet away from people that I encounter. I even follow the arrows in the grocery store!

But when it comes time to enter the phase that allows us to gather in small groups, my plan is to gather. I plan to gather just a few friends for a glass of wine to start and then maybe a shared snack or lunch and then maybe a social-distance approved supper outdoors with a couple of pals.

Yes, there is some apprehension, but it is time!

Perhaps it’s time to make your plan. There’s a lot to think about, whether you’re going back to work or considering shopping at the corner boutique.

Is it time to get your nails done, or does anxiety put the plan off for another week? Is it time to invite your baby best bud for a playdate? Is it time to let him go to his friend’s house? No matter how or when you plan to embrace the new norm, it’s time to make a plan.
What I always do when I face the road ahead is to take some time to think and strategize.

And while I fashion a plan, I like to surround myself with comfort food.

It kinda makes things less scary. The whole activity of cooking that food relaxes me. So, while you’re mulling over your plan for your new norm, why not take a tip from my playbook and whip up a pot of comforting soup. Tomato Basil Bisque is my go-to soup because it pushes all the comfort buttons. It is creamy, flavorful, tummy-filling and the perfect bowl to sneak in a fistful of crumbled crackers. Just the dish needed before you walk out the door for the first time.

Swallow your anxiety, take your time and step forward….Safely!

God Bless!

Tomato Soup
With Jalapeno, and a Hint of Fennel

Serves:

Time:

4-6 

40-Minute Cuisine

Ingredients

Adding just a bit of jalapeno adds a little heat to tomato soup. But the addition of fennel takes this soup to a spiced-up, licoricey lip-smackin’ treat!

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, diced into small cubes

1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ cup dry sherry

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

4 ounces tomato paste, about ½ cup

1 quart homemade chicken stock, or prepared low sodium broth 

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ large fennel bulb, optional

½ cup half and half

¼ cup sour cream

Pour olive oil into the bottom of your soup pot over medium-high heat.  Place the onions and pepper into the pot and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Pour in the sherry and simmer until most of the liquid disappears, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken broth.  Season with salt, pepper, and sugar.  Place the fennel bulb into the soup.  Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid and simmer the soup for 20 minutes allowing the flavors to blend.

Remove the pot from the heat.  Remove and discard the fennel bulb.  Stir in the half and half and sour cream.

Serve the soup with crushed crackers, another dollop of sour cream, and the tops from the fennel.

The Lighter Side

The Lighter Side

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it (or most truthfully read it) a hundred times over the last few days: “I’ve run out of ideas of things to cook”! Yes, we’re in the seventh (or is it eighth) week of staying at home, and most of our cooking repertoires have gone south. I get it. How many ways can you make chicken?

Well, if you are like me, it also might be time for a little lightening up of the old menu. I’m not sure when I made the switch from eating nothing white (bread, potatoes, rice) to how many ways can I make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch? When did those Thanksgiving side dishes make it to my dinner table every night? Have I really come up with a dozen different varieties of breakfast sandwiches? Since when did 4 o’clock become wine and cheese time?

In order to scale (not that one – I have avoided that measurement) back, I’ve played around with a couple of yummy, but less heavy meals to make. I think you might enjoy a couple of these:

Mama’s Chef Salad. This is a perfect way to use up all the veggies and meats you have in the fridge.

Fill a HUGE salad bowl with lettuces, sliced carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. Top these with ham and turkey, any cheese you like, and even a hard boiled egg or two. Now, here’s the great part…

Stick that bowl in your fridge and tomorrow, when you reach for the sandwich bread, luncheon meat and chips, reach instead for a BIG BOWL of salad.

You can use any dressing. Mine is a simple combo of 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons), 1 teaspoon of Dijon-style mustard, the juice of 1 lemon  (about 2 tablespoons), ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar, any chopped fresh herb you have and ½ cup olive oil. Whisk together the first five ingredients and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Store the dressing in an airtight container, and it’s ready to pour on your salad when you’re ready to eat!

Eggplant Rollatini. You’ll love learning to roll this way during the quarantine!

Heat your oven to 375°. Cut the stem from the top of an eggplant. Cut ¼-inch slices from the top to the bottom (long slices not circles). Drizzle some olive oil into a sheet pan.

Lay the eggplant slices into the pan, and turn to coat the with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Bake the eggplant until the slices are pliable, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool to room temperature. Sauté some spinach leaves with chopped onion in a skillet until the spinach wilts down. For one eggplant you need about 4 to 5 handfuls of spinach, which is about half of a large bag. When the spinach has wilted, place it in a colander to drain the excess liquid.

Place an 8-ounce container of ricotta cheese in a bowl. Transfer the spinach mixture to a chopping board and use a knife to chop, chop, chop. Transfer the chopped spinach to the bowl. Add about ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Use a spoon to mix the filling together.

Place a ladle full or two of marinara sauce (the jar kind will do just fine) in the bottom of a baking dish. Slather the filling onto the eggplant slices and then roll them up! Place the rolled eggplant into the dish. Cover the rollatini with more marinara sauce and more cheese. Bake at 375° until the cheese melts, and the rollatini are warmed through, about 20 minutes.

Artichokes in a White Wine Sauce. Email me if you need more instructions on this one. It can get a little thorny!

Trim 2 whole artichokes by cutting off the top third, peeling the stem and snipping the thorny part from the leaves.

Place the artichokes into a pan with water and bring to a boil. You needn’t cover the chokes with water, just about halfway up will do fine. Add 1 lemon, sliced in half. Cover the pan with a lid and boil the artichokes for 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and make sure you still have plenty of boiling water in the pan. Continue cooking until a fork is easily inserted into the bottom of the artichoke, about 20 minutes more depending on the size of your artichoke.

Remove the artichokes from the water and cool slightly. Cut each one in half from top to stem. Remove the thorny choke from the center of the artichoke. Cut the halves in half again.

Place 4 tablespoons butter into a skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 shallot, finely diced. When the butter is melted pour in ½ cup white wine. When the wine reduces by half, pour in ½ cup chicken stock.

Add in the juice of 1 lemon and season with salt and pepper. Place the artichokes in the pan and bathe them in the sauce.

Happy Social Distancing!!