February 28, 2010

Velvet Painting

This super easy pie is packed with a powerful flavor punch. Each bite taste like a smooth and creamy chocolate bar. The flavors are mix and matchable try substituting mint, orange or coconut extract instead of vanilla. Let your creativity and preferences be your guide. To add style to your slice match your garnish with the extract stirred into your ingredients. Fresh mint leaves, orange zest or coconut shavings atop a tall layer of cream will give your guests a hint of what they are about to enjoy.

Chocolate Velvet Pie

1 (8-inch) prepared chocolate crumb crust
1 (11.5-ounce) package Nestle Chocolate Morsels
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

Sweetened whipped cream topping
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Melt the morsels according to package directions. Microwave morsels in a medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high power for 1 minute; stir. The morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10 to 15-second intervals, stirring just until melted. Cool to room temperature. Beat melted chocolate, cream cheese and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until light in color. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until firm. Top with sweetened whipped cream.

In a separate bowl, beat whipping cream slowly adding the powered sugar until soft peaks form. Spread the sweet whipped cream on top of pie and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Conversation Starter:
Have you ever thrown a pie at somebody? Ever seen it on TV? Google some classic pie throwing scenes from old shows/movies. Discuss how you would feel if someone hit you in the face with a pie and why.

By Jane Jarrell

February 27, 2010

February 27: Nutella Cookies

Oh how I love Nutella! I developed this recipe because of my sheer infatuation with it.

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour mixed with 3/4 tsp. baking soda

Melt butter and cream cheese in microwave for thirty seconds on high until nearly melted. Add nutella, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Beat in flour and soda. Drop cookies onto ungreased baking sheet and cook at 375 for 10 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.

Conversation starter: What is your favorite board game?

February 26, 2010

Friend Fridays: Penelope Carlevato's Cotswald Tea Sandwiches

I love to host tea parties for girls of all ages.  I have developed some interesting tea sandwiches and love to share my recipes.  Who doesn't love to be invited to a tea party?  Even men and little boys.  I have taken groups of ladies on Tea Tours to England and that's where the Cotswolds are! Here is one of my tea sandwich recipes that gets raves from everyone.

The Cotswold Tea Sandwich

1 cup of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tab finely chopped green onion
4 strips of well-cooked bacon, drained well and crumbled
1 tsp worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least one hour.  Spread softened butter onto whole wheat sandwich bread slices and then make sandwiches with the above ingredients. Cut off crusts and then cut into quarters.  (Makes 16 quarter sandwiches *8 slices of bread.)  *Tip for making great sandwiches....use an electric knife to trim crusts.

Conversation Starter: Where in the world are the Cotswolds?


February 25, 2010

February 25: Mexi-Taco Mix

Using ground chicken or turkey keeps this healthy. Adding beans extends the mix. Use leftovers for taco salads.

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow or red onion, chopped finely
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tomato, chopped
1 pound ground turkey or ground chicken
1 can kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup salsa
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. - 2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. 2 tsp. cumin
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (available at any supermarket, usually near the parsley.)

Saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add tomatoes and turkey. Cook on medium heat until meat is done. Drain any fat out of the pan into a tin can. Add remaining ingredients, adjusting the seasonings to fit your family's taste. ( You can also use 2-3 Tbs. of taco seasoning in place of the above seasonings.) Serve with salsa, guacamole, lettuce, cheese, and homemade tortillas.

Conversation starter: What is your favorite Mexican food?

February 24, 2010

February 24: Mary's Pancakes

Ricotta gives these more oomph. I still shape mine into bears and kitties.

1 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cups milk
4 Tbs. ricotta cheese
3 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix first five ingredients. Add milk, cheese, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. Dollop 1/4 cup of batter into skillet on medium heat and roll it around. Flip gently! Enjoy. Serves 3-4.

Conversation starter: If you could move anywhere you wanted to in the world where would it be and why.

February 23, 2010

February 23: Cheese Vegetable Soup

Our family friend Diane gave us this recipe. I've altered it a bit. It's one of the easiest recipes I've made, but very, very good.

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tbs. butter
2 c. frozen loose pack corn
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
3/4 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup water
2 10 3/4 ounce can cream of potato soup
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In soup pot, cook onion in butter until translucent. Add vegetables and water. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for ten minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook and stir over medium heat until cheese melts and is heated through. Serves 4-6

Conversation starter: Name two or three of your favorite vegetables and two or three that you can't stand.

February 22, 2010

February 22 THE MONDAY MENU Bruschetta

When I cater a party one of my favorite hors d' oeuvres to make is bruschetta. Bruschetta (pronounced bru-sketta) is a simple Italian dish that dates back to the 15th century, and can be made in a variety of ways.

The dish begins with drizzling or brushing olive oil onto thin narrow strips of bread (preferably ciabatta) and toasting them. Once toasted the bread is then rubbed with fresh garlic and topped with just about anything. My favorite bruschetta toppings are those with a Mediterranean flavor to include feta cheese, olives, and fresh tomatoes.

Truly you are only limited by your imagination as to what type of bruschetta you can make. Today I offer you one of my favorite bruschetta recipes, and of course on the internet there are literally hundreds of others. My challenge to you is to decide for yourself the flavors you like, and share them with your friends at your next party.

Conversation starter: If you were to attend a party where there would be celebrities present, who would you like to bump into, and what would you say to that person?

Mediterranean Bruschetta

Bread preparation:

1 pound ciabatta bread loaf sliced on a bias into 1/2 inch wide slices.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove fresh garlic

Preheat grill pan on stove top over medium-high heat, or preheat charcoal or gas grill to medium. Brush olive oil onto sliced bread and grill on both sides. Remove from heat and lightly rub with peeled garlic clove.

Topping Preparation:

2 large tomatoes seeded and diced
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh mint leaves
1 - 15 ounce container of whole milk Ricotta cheese
Juice from 1 medium lemon
Kosher salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, carefully and thoroughly mix ingredients together.

To serve add a spoonful of topping to each piece of bread to make a beautiful ornate hors d' oeuvres platter, or place the grilled ciabatta bread in a basket and the topping in a serving dish and let guests spoon on their own topping. Yield is 12-15 pieces.

Suggested variations:

Combine 2 large diced tomatoes, 2 cups finely chopped raw spinach, 1/4 cup sliced black olives, 1/4 cup Feta cheese and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Or substitute tomatoes with 2 fresh red peppers, grilled, seeded and peeled, cut into thin, narrow strips. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

February 21, 2010

Petite Pot Pies

Comfort food makes a perfect presentation in a small package. It is a savvy way to use leftover chicken and vegetables. The pretty pastry hides any hint of of wilted second time around food. Individual servings are simple and reheatable when to-go lunches are in order.

Petite Pot Pies

1 (8-ounce) bag frozen mixed vegetables
2 refrigerated piecrusts (such as Pillsbury)
1 (10 ¾-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk
2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375° F. Defrost the vegetables in a microwave for about 3 minutes. Cut 2 piecrusts into quarters, to yield 8 equal pieces. Coat the inside of 4 small aluminum-foil pans (4 ½ inches in diameter, 1 ¼ inches deep) or 4 ramekins with vegetable cooking spray. Line the bottom of each with a quarter of crust, molding it with your fingers to fit. Place to dough covered pans into the oven for 6 minutes. Remove and cool. In a large bowl, stir together the soup and milk; add the remaining ingredients. Spoon about 2/3 cup of the mixture into each pan or ramekin. Top each with a piecrust quarter. Pinch the edges together and cut vents in the top. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Conversation Starter:
What is your favorite comfort food and why?

By Jane Jarrell

February 20, 2010

February 20: Cheddar Biscuits

Another great addition is 1/4 cup chopped chives and/or crumbled bacon. 

2 cups all purpose flour, or bread flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried dill
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 cup loosely packed grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk with 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar added ( makes mock buttermilk)

In a medium bowl, stir together first seven ingredients. Cut the butter into the flour mixture
until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add cheddar cheese and distribute evenly into the mixture. Add "buttermilk" to mixture and stir until a ball forms. Knead dough on a floured surface, only kneading ten times (or it will get tough.) With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough to a one inch thickness. Cut circles into the dough with a circular cookie cutter, until all dough is used. Place biscuits nearly touching on a buttered baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until brown. Makes 12-15 biscuits.

Conversation starter: What's the best gift you've ever received?

February 19, 2010

Friend Fridays: Kathy Howard, Easy Chicken Chili

Recipe: Easy Chicken Chili (Recipe below)

Name:  Kathy Howard

Website:  www.kathyhoward.org   

Easy Chicken Chili
1 ½ to 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon oil
1 large can (28 oz)  diced tomatoes
3 cans (14 oz cans) white beans
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies
1 tablespoon chili powder

In a large pot or dutch oven, saute’ onion and chicken in hot oil until onions are tender and the chicken loses its pinkness. Stir in chili powder, cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, beans, chilies, and ½ cup water. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Serve with chips or tortillas.

Conversation starter: What was the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do? What made it hard? How did it turn out?

February 18, 2010

February 18: Roasted Potatoes with herbs

8-10 small red potatoes, boiled for fifteen minutes
3 Tbs. melted butter
3 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp. each: garlic powder, salt, pepper
1 Tbs. each: parsley and basil

Cook potatoes until just tender.  (A fork can easily be plunged into it.)  Cube potatoes into 1 /2 inch cubes. In large bowl, Combine last ingredients and toss with potatoes.  Completely wrap potato mixture in a single layer in heavy duty greased tin foil.  Place over medium hot coals for ten minutes.  Turn.  Cook ten more minutes.  You can also roast them this way in your oven.  Serves 4.

Conversation starter: Describe one of the most fun days you've ever had.

February 17, 2010

February 17: Steamed Broccoli in Oyster Sauce


1 medium head of broccoli, cut up into bite-sized chunks
metal steamer basket
1/4 cup beef broth
2 Tbs. oyster sauce
sesame seeds

Place cut up broccoli into metal steamer basket.  Into pot below add oyster sauce and broth.  Cover whole
pot with lid and steam for 3-5 minutes on high heat, until broccoli is tender but not overdone.  Toss with reduced both and sesame seeds.

**You can buy oyster sauce at any supermarket in the oriental section.  It is not fishy tasting.  Be daring and try it.

Conversation starter: What's your favorite thing to do on the weekend with your family members?

February 16, 2010

February 16: French Onion Soup

3 Tbs. butter
3 large yellow onions, sliced into rings... or try different varieties like Walla Walla Sweet and red onions
1 bunch green onions chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
3 Tbs sugar
6 cups beef stock (or use chicken stock for a lighter taste.)
1/3 cup red wine
4 pieces thick French bread that have been toasted and hardened in the over.
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

Saute the onions, green onions, and garlic in the butter over medium heat for ten minutes.  Add the sugar and caramelize the onion mixture.  (Cook it, stirring constantly for about 5-8 minutes until the onions begin to brown  Don't burn them!) Add the stock and simmer on low heat for 45-60 minutes. 

 Place hardened bread slices on a cookie sheet and top each with 1/2 cup of the Swiss cheese is melted and slightly browned.  Pour soup into four bowls.  With tongs, place the cheese bread, cheese side up, onto the soup.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4

Conversation starter: Is there someone in your life today that you had an immediate connection with and why? 

February 15, 2010

February 15 THE MONDAY MENU Tenderfoot Chili

The heat went out in my house last weekend, an emergency situation for which I was not prepared to handle. And yes, it got cold - real cold by Southern standards. We did manage to borrow a kerosene heater from a friend, but it only warmed up the front of the house and not the back where all of our bedrooms are.

Thankfully, the only thing we lost was the heat, so we were still able to cook while we waited for the repairman to come. Need I tell you that when your house is that cold nothing warms a body from the inside out like a fresh hot bowl of Tenderfoot Chili.

In other news, we will be holding a telethon at my house next weekend to raise money to pay for the repair bill.

Conversation starter: Share with you kids and grandkids how life was different when you were growing up. Explain how you did things as a kid without the modern conveniences we have today.


2 pounds pork loin trimmed of fat and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
3 cloves pressed or minced garlic
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/2 Teaspoon ground sage
1 Teaspoon thyme
1 Teaspoon onion powder
1 Teaspoon smoked paprika
1 Teaspoon cumin
1 Tablespoon Chile Powder
1 Tablespoon flour -for thickening
1 medium whole jalapeno
2 -14 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
2 -14 oz cans black beans.

Preheat olive oil in a large cast iron pot(preferred). Add pork loin, salt, and pepper and cook over high heat for three minutes stirring often. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and paprika and cook for another eight to ten minutes until meat is thoroughly browned, again stirring often. Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes and remaining herbs and whole jalapeno. Bring everything to a simmer then reduce heat to low and cover. Continue simmering for thirty minutes stirring occasionally. After thirty minutes add beans including the liquid and let simmer an additional fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point taste to see if any additional salt is need. If so, season to taste.

To thicken, remove jalapeno then sift flour into chili and stir. Simmer on low another ten minutes. Serve with corn chips, cheese cilantro, diced onions, or a dollop of sour cream. Chili is best when refrigerated overnight and reheated the next day.

Personal Chef Tim Wade is the owner of Culinaria, a personalized, food-oriented educational program designed to help novice and intermediate cooks become more knowledgeable and more proficient in the kitchen.

February 14, 2010

Sunday Samplings

Store bought Goes Glam
By Jane Jarrell

Need some simple secrets for styling with store-bought items? The taste is sensational, but the time spent in preparation is minimal. The keys to success with this fast and fancy dessert are doable: create your own chocolate cake topper ideas and add it to a cake someone else made. Come up with your own designer name for your culinary treat, and always serve on an interesting cake plate or platter.

Here’s how:

Order a three layer cake from your favorite bakery. Have the cake iced in your favorite color, just the icing, and no borders or flowered top. Plain Jane is the order of the day here. Purchase a couple of packages of chocolate morsels for making hearts. YOU add the “wow factor” with your own creative style.

Chocolate hearts

White morsels - Microwave 2 cups (16 oz) morsels in small, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high (70% power) for 1 minute; stir. Then microwave at additional 10 to 20 second intervals if needed, stirring until smooth.

Semi-sweet morsels - Microwave 2 cups (16 oz) morsels in a small microwave-safe bowl on high (100% power) for 1 minute; stir. Then microwave at additional 10 to 20 second intervals if needed, stirring until smooth.

Place a sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet. Pour the melted chocolate on the wax paper. Using the back of a tablespoon smooth the melted chocolate to a ¼ inch thickness. Place in the refrigerator until the chocolate is almost firm. When the chocolate is firm cut out heart shapes with various sizes of heart cookie cutters. (If the chocolate has set to long warm the cookie cutters by placing the cut side into warm water; wipe off the water and cut.)

Place your chocolate heart shapes on a clean sheet of wax paper. Decorate the perimeter of the hearts with thick white icing. When the icing is dry gently press the pointed ends of the hearts into the store-bought cake.

February 13, 2010

February 13: Cool as a Cucumber Salad

2 medium sized cucumbers
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt, black pepper freshly
ground to taste preference
2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
2 TBS dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried dill.

Peel and slice cucumbers into 1/4 inch half moons.  Combine next five ingredients and toss with cucumbers.  Serve immediately.  Serves four.

Conversation starter:  What country would you most like to travel to and why?

February 12, 2010

Friend Fridays: Rebekah Jackson and Two Cheese Risotto

Two Cheese Risotto

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6)
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup dry sherry + 2 TBS(NOT cooking sherry)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 TBS butter + 1 TBS for use at end if desired
~4-6 cups chicken stock
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (best to get this fresh and grate when needed)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced


**VERY IMPORTANT** Due to needing to have both hands ready for stirring, it's important to have all ingredients measured and prepared prior to starting the cooking process.

1. Place chicken stock in small saucepan and place over low heat, keeping warm.

2. In a large frying pan, melt 2 Tbs butter, add chopped onions and cook until tender. Add arborio rice, continuing to cook until rice is toasted. Carefully add sherry to pan, as it will splatter. Stir rice until dissolved.

3. When sherry is completely dissolved, using a ladle, pour 1 ladle of chicken stock that was left warming into the pan, continuing to stir until dissolved.

4. Continue adding liquid one ladle at a time until completely dissolved before adding next scoop, and until rice is al dente (You can taste and tell when it is done, but you can also know based on there only being small white spot in middle of rice, rest of rice should be clear. When rice is al dente, make your last liquid added last 2 TBS dry sherry for added flavor.

5. Remove pan from heat and stir in remaining 2 TBS butter if desired (yes, you want to because it makes it ridiculously creamy). Then add cheeses and tomatoes and stir.

6. Place risotto on serving dish and top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

The Cooking Vent

Conversation Starter: What's your favorite comfort food? When is your favorite time to eat it?

February 11, 2010

February 11: Mary's Spaghetti Sauce

1 onion, chopped  
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 cloves, garlic, pressed
1 pound Italian sausage
1 six ounce can tomato paste
2 TBS each basil, oregano, and Italian parsley
1 fourteen ounce can tomato sauce
1 fourteen ounce can chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in olive oil until caramelized.  Add garlic and sausage and cook until done.  Add meat
ingredients to crockpot.  Pour in tomato paste, sauce and chopped tomatoes.  Add seasonings and
wine.  Add parmesan and adjust seasonings.  Cook on low in crockpot all day.  

Conversation starter:  Describe the best birthday you've ever had.

February 10, 2010

February 10: Frosted Pumpkin Walnut Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter, sugars, pumpkin, and vanilla.  Sift together dry ingredients and fold them into butter mixture.  Drop cookies by tablespoonful onto cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 for 12- 14 minutes.  Cool.
Frosting: Melt 2 TBS butter over low heat.  Add 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 Tbs. cream, and 1 tsp.
vanilla.  Stir to melt through.  Frost cooled cookies.  Makes about three dozen.

Conversation starter:  Describe your favorite elementary teacher.

February 09, 2010

February 9: Tortilla Roll Ups

Tortilla Roll ups

1  8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup salsa, drained
salt and pepper to taste
6-8 12 inch flour tortillas

Buzz the first three ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly
over each tortilla, about an 1/8th inch thickness.  Roll them securely.  Cut rolls into one inch rounds and
serve that day.

Conversation Starter: Describe your favorite pet.

February 08, 2010

February 8 THE MONDAY MENU Tex-Mex Chicken with Apple Lime Slaw

Like so many of you, I wake up each day knowing that at some point I will have to answer that inevitable question: "What's for dinner?" Last Friday when that question was asked I decided it was time to have a little fun.

I challenged my daughter to help me create a unique chicken recipe using only the ingredients we could find in the refrigerator and pantry. We started with chicken as it is so versatile. With a little imagination, and just four or five basic ingredients found in most homes, chicken can easily go from Asian, to Italian, to Mexican. Because our family loves spicy food we decided to go with Tex-Mex.

Next, we raided the crisper for ingredients to make a topping for the chicken. Our search uncovered apples, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, and limes. I looked at my daughter and smiled. Her face scrunched into a confused question mark, which was then replaced with mild horror as I grabbed the apples and a bottle of soy sauce.

Conversation Starter: The scariest thing I ever made in the kitchen was__________.


2lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Except for the chicken, mix everything a large bowl until well blended. Add chicken and coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.

After two hours preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Also preheat a large oven-proof skillet along with two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Just as the pan begins to smoke add marinated chicken and cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes until both sides have caramelized. Place the skillet in the oven and cook an additional 15 minutes or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Remove chicken from oven and let rest for five minutes before serving.

Apple Lime Slaw


1 large (or 2 medium) Granny Smith apple
2 medium jalapeno peppers (depending on taste)
1 medium tomato
1/2 cup cilantro chopped fine
2 teaspoons clover honey
the juice from 1 large lime
pinch of salt

Dice apple, jalapenos, and tomato into small pieces (approximately 1/4 inch) and place in a small mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for half an hour before serving with chicken.

February 07, 2010

Feburary 7th Sunday Samplings by Jane Jarrell

This recipe is a super simple Souper Bowl favorite. Dump it all into your favorite soup pot and let those spices do what they do best; permiate the premises with anticipation of a great meal. Remember your WOW factor is in that fast yet fancy condiment bar. Set out your biggest bowls, a strudy ladel and a buffet of fabulous toppers for the chili. Mix and match the flavors to create your own fabulous concoction.
Black and White Chili
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 red pepper, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup Masa flour
Saute onion in hot oil in your soup pot over medium-high heat until tender. Add tomatoes and next four ingredients; stir well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in beans and pepper. Cover and cook over medium low heat 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. About 15 minutes prior to serving scoop out 1/2 cup of the broth, add Masa flour, stir to thoroughly combine. Add back to soup pot and stir to thicken.
chopped green onions
sour cream
grated cheese
Tortilla chips
Chopped cilantro
Conversation Starter:
Food memories are one of my favorite things in life. With just one bite you can experience a nostalgic feeling while entertaining your taste buds. Think just a minute and download some of your favorite memories? Can you recall what food matched that experience? What was the food? How did it become a favorite memory. Try making a food diary of your family favorites as your family grows so will your memories.

February 06, 2010

February 6: Let them eat berry coffeecake!

Berry Coffeecake

This coffeecake can be made the night before. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, let it warm to room temperature, thirty minutes, before popping it into the oven.
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
2/3 cup white sugar
½ cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbs. Baking powder
1 cup frozen, loose-pack berries
1/3 cup softened butter
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup oatmeal
½ cup walnuts or pecans
½ cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 375. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk, sugar, butter and vanilla until smooth. Add baking powder to the flour and stir through before adding both to the wet ingredients. Break apart berries and stir through. (If you stir too much, the berries will color the dough blue.) Spray an 11x13 baking pan with cooking spray. Spread coffeecake batter into pan. 

In food processor, process butter, flour, oatmeal, nuts and sugar until just combined, using the pulse button. Top the coffeecake with the crumbled mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

You may replace the berries with an equal amount of chocolate chips for a sweeter variation.

Conversation Starter: Remember a time you went berry picking. Did you eat more than you kept?

February 05, 2010

February 5th: Friend Friday

Sorry. We're having some technical difficulties here. Stay tuned for next week's Friend Friday. Sorry about the glitch.

February 04, 2010

February 4: Basmati fried rice

A very simple dish to create if you have leftover rice from the night before.

Basmati Fried Rice

3 cups cooked basmati rice (leftover from the night before, cold)
2 tsp. Sesame oil
1 Tbs. Canola oil
1 ½ cup fresh spinach, chopped (triple washed from the grocery store)
2 Tbs. Oyster sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oils in a wok or non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add rice and spinach and stir fry until rice begins to brown, and emits a nutty smell. Add oyster sauce and salt and pepper and heat through. Serves 4-6.

Conversation starter: What are you "family rules"? Should they be altered? Amended?

February 03, 2010

February 3: Salmon cakes!

Okay, that's a bass, but you get the idea. This is a very inexpensive dinner, and yummy too.

Salmon Cakes with Sweet Hot Sauce

2 eight ounce cans salmon
2 eggs
2/3 cup packaged bread crumbs
dash Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. ketchup
4 green onions, chopped
3 Tbs. Dried parsley

2 tsp. Sesame oil
1 Tbs. Canola oil

1 Tbs. Cornstarch
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbs. Soy sauce
2 Tbs. Ketchup
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup chicken broth
1 tsp. Hot sauce

2 Tbs. Chopped fresh cilantro

Combine first eight ingredients and shape into 5-6 patties. Set aside. In saucepan, combine the cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, broth and hot sauce over medium heat until cornstarch is combined and the sauce has thickened and has a sheen to it. Remove from heat and add cilantro. Heat skillet to medium high, adding oils. Sauté salmon patties until brown on each side, about 4 minutes per side. Serve with Sweet Hot Sauce. Serves 5-6.

Conversation starter: If you could go fishing anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?

February 02, 2010

February 2: Broc Salad

This is a terrific crowd pleasing salad. It disappears at pot lucks!

Broccoli Salad

I large head of broccoli, cut up into very small pieces
1/2 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup white raisins (or use 1 cup halved red grapes, or 1/2 cup craisins)
1/3 cup mayonaise
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. sugar

Toast the pine nuts by putting them in a nonstick pan and heating over medium until they
turn brown (be sure to keep stirring them otherwise they will burn). Toss with broccoli.
Add raisins. In another bowl, combine mayo, vinegar and sugar. Whisk until blended.
Pour over salad. Makes 5-6 servings.

Conversation starter: Describe your dream apartment. Where would it be? What kind of amenities would it have?

February 01, 2010

February 1 The Monday Menu - The Amazing Ketchup

The first time I saw a chef use ketchup I was shocked. Then I read the recipe and realized that it called for tomato paste, vinegar, and sugar - in other words, ketchup.

Americans consume around 66 pounds of ketchup per capita each year. From fried potatoes to fried chicken, eggs and toast, to steak and fish, we put ketchup on just about everything . Truly, as a topping its uses are endless, and so are its uses as a main ingredient.

While ketchup as an ingredient may not seem very gourmet, the simplicity of its flavor allows it to play a wide number of culinary roles. Today I offer you four recipes that feature this amazing staple of the American diet.

Conversation starter: When I was a kid I put ketchup on...

Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

2 medium lemons juiced
2 cups ketchup
2 Tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons ground chipotle chili pepper
1 teaspoon cumin

Thoroughly mix all ingredients over medium heat until mixture starts to bubble. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Sauce is best when refrigerated overnight.
Use this sauce as marinade for flank steak and other cuts of beef, as well as pork and chicken.

For a more traditional tasting barbecue sauce:

1 medium lemon juiced
2 cups ketchup
2 Tablespoons Molasses
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper.

Thoroughly mix all ingredients over medium heat until mixture starts to bubble. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Sauce is best when refrigerated overnight.

Wasabi Cocktail Sauce

1 cup ketchup
1-2 teaspoons Wasabi paste (depending on taste)
1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground mustard

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for up to half an hour. Serve with shrimp and other seafood.

Super bowl full of wings

4 pounds chicken wings
1 cup hot sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 cup vegetable oil

Combine hot sauce, lemon juice, chili and garlic powder, and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Mix well and cover wings. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for 24 hours.

Heat oil in a deep fryer or deep sided pot to 350 degree F.

Remove wings from marinade and drain excess liquid. Add wings to hot oil in batches being careful not let it splatter you. Cook until crispy (about ten minutes).

Wing Sauce

1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup hot sauce
1/4 cup honey

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Thoroughly coat wings in sauce and serve.

Tim Wade is a Personal Chef and owner of Culinaria. For more information about Chef Tim or Culinaria please visit their website.