Sunday, December 27, 2015


I love soups in the winter!  That incomparable smell of everything cooking, the aromas in every part of the house, the steam on the windows from the combination of warmth inside hitting the cold glass,  and my stomach growling big time anxious to have a bowl full of vitamins. Shhh, don't tell the kids--they're allergic to vitamins!
Soup brings me back to a simpler time when all I had to do was worry about  my schoolwork. It brings me back to my mother's kitchen on Monday's that told me, 'this is home' the minute I came bustling through that door. And now, I give you my mama's recipe for a bowlful of cheer!

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup green beans, chopped
2 whole zucchini, chopped
1 cup sugar snap peas
salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh parsley, rough chop
2 cans tomatoes, chopped with juice
2 white potatoes, cubed
2 teaspoons mustard
1/2 parmesan cheese

64 ounces vegetable stock--not broth--stock.

In a large soup pot, add the oil and the first five vegetables and slightly sautĂ©. Add the tomatoes, the potatoes and the stock. Bring it to a boil, then lower until it's simmering. Just before serving, add the parmesan cheese and mustard stirring to combine. Cook for approximately 1 hour.

Serve with salad and biscuits 10-12 servings.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


4 chicken breasts, trimmed of all sinew and fat
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter


To flatten the chicken breasts to one half-inch thick, I place a kitchen mallet inside a plastic bag and hammer away.

Make sure to remove the sinew and fat from chicken breasts. Mix the granulated garlic, breadcrumbs, and the grated cheese together in a large baggie and after shaking, set aside. Dip the chicken in the egg wash first, then place inside plastic bag and shake making sure to coat all sides of the chicken.

Using a skillet, melt butter and add the olive oil into the pan. Using medium heat, fry each piece of chicken until golden, keeping it warm until serving.


2 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brandy
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt to taste


 Melt the butter, add the brown sugar and cinnamon and allow it to bubble. Unless you know how to flambĂ© remove the pan from the burner before you add the brandy. Blend with a wire whisk.

Add the 1/2 cup water mixed with the cornstarch and whisk until thickened. Add the lemon juice and whisk again. Once you're satisfied with the taste, add 1 cup sliced peaches!
 Plate the chicken onto a plate, spoon peaches down the middle and spoon sauce over top.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Here's a recipe sure to please Chinese food lovers! Again, it's easy, fast and delicious!

Add 1 cup rice to boiling water, or use a rice cooker. Give the rice a head start so it's cooked and ready to go when your beef dish is ready.

1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
1/3 cup corn starch
2 tbls oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups broccoli flowerettes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tbls cornstarch

As mentioned before, mise en place (pronounced me sen plas) which means prep the ingredients by measuring and cutting everything beforehand. The cooking of this dish is so fast, you'll want to make sure you don't have to stop in between to prep something. Besides, it's quick and easy!

To give you a sense of value of mise en place, here's an example of how my day played out after I'd started my personal chef service.

After I'd graduated from culinary school, I did all the legwork to start my personal chef service. When a local newspaper reporter got wind of my service, he called and interviewed me. To my surprise, my phone was ringing off the hook and by the end of that day, I was immediately booked solid and cooking for twenty-one families per month, some on a weekly basis, others monthly. The service included me preparing a menu based on their meal preferences which would lead to me preparing five different meals for the client.

The day of service, I'd leave my home and head to the supermarket by 8:00AM, then go straight to their home and begin prepping the ingredients by 9:15AM for every single meal. Sometimes it seemed like I'd never get done prepping, but I was always ready to start cooking by 12:00 Noon. In addition to the meals, I was baking cornbread or biscuits, salads and a dessert.

The meals were cooked in their homes because I didn't have a commercial kitchen. Once cooked, the food was divided into serving containers, double wrapped with a label for reheating, and stored in their refrigerator or freezer. After cleaning up the mess I'd made in the kitchen, I'd set the table, then head for home. By prepping ahead of time, I was done for the day and ready to leave for home by 2PM. That my friends, is the value of mise en place!

So what are we waiting for? Let's get busy!

This is the ginger paste I use. You can find this tube in the refrigerated section of your supermarket with the other herbs in the vegetable aisle.

Slice the beef thinly on an angle. Slice mushrooms and break broccoli into small flowerettes. Using a large plastic bag, add the cornstarch and the sliced beef, shake to coat. Using a well-seasoned wok, add the oil and turn the flame up to high to heat the wok.
 Add the garlic, ginger and dusted beef slices to the hot oil and fry, turning frequently until slightly brown.

Remove the beef and place in a bowl until ready for use at the end. Add the vegetables to the hot wok, and pour all but 1/4 cup of the stock, soy sauce and brown sugar mixture. Continue to turn frequently. The soy and stock help to steam the vegetables. Remember, you want the veggies crisp tender.
 Before adding the remaining soy mixture, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to it and stir until completely dissolved. Add to the vegetables and continue turning until thickened, then add the beef back in, turning to combine until everything is covered evenly with the sauce.
And ta da! You have Chinese Beef, Mushrooms and Broccoli served over rice.


 I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did! I trialed this recipe last week for the first time to make sure it was good enough to share with you. Well, we did, so here's the recipe. Okay, so now it's your turn!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Best and Easiest Fettuccine Alfredo

After having a dinner party on Saturday night, the last thing I wanted to do for Sunday night's dinner was make something that required work. Scrounging around in the refrigerator, I came up with this recipe. I swear, this dish was so incredible, you'll make it often.

I didn't have fettuccine in the house, so I used linguini instead. Use what you have in the house and refrigerator.

CHEF'S TIP: Want to cook like a pro? Measure out all your ingredients first before you even start to cook. The French call this mise en place which means you get all your tools ready and the ingredients measured out. If you do this step with every recipe, you'll be amazed at the speed with which you'll produce some wonderful recipes. Having to stop to measure out ingredients in between makes for a long drawn out process which can also ruin what you're cooking because of the lapse in time.


3 tbls sweet butter
2 tbls all purpose flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground
2 cups heavy cream, half and half or fat free cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and Pepper to taste

8 ounces linguini, cooked al dente

Using medium-low heat, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan on the stove. Once melted, add the flour and whisk until completely smooth allowing it to bubble just until it's a golden color to cook the flour.

 Turn off the heat and pour in the cream and whisk until completely combined and smooth. Add the nutmeg and whisk until blended. Turn the heat back on and add the two cheeses, again whisking until melted and combined. Taste the sauce before adding the salt and pepper. Remove from the burner. Test to see if sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Dip the spoon into the sauce, then using your finger, draw a path through the center of the spoon. If the 'path' remains, the sauce is perfect.

Rinse the linguini in hot water, drain well and add to the saucepan, swirling around until every strand of pasta is covered. Top with a sprinkle of parsley and parmesan cheese and serve.

This recipe makes 2 or 3 servings depending on portion size.

Most recipes call for 1 1/2 cups of cheese to thicken the sauce, but since I'm calorie conscious, I use less cheese and add the flour to thicken it.

Bon Appetit!