Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nutty Irishman

One of my all time favorite cocktails is a White Russian. The iced drink is perfect to break the heat of a warm summer day. It also has a creamy, comforting quality that warms up a cold winter night. Whether you are sitting beach-side or fireside, in the heat of the day or the cold of the night, a white Russian is a classic drink for all occasions.
I completely agree with the phrase, "if it's not broke don't fix it". In fact, I love traditions. I love the classics. New, contemporary ideas and creations are successful, in my mind, because they use the classic as an inspiration to develop something fresh and modern.
The classic cocktail, White Russian (made with Kahlúa, vodka and cream or milk)was my inspiration for the Nutty Irishman.


  • 2 jiggers vodka
  • 2 jiggers Nocello® walnut liqueur
  • 1 jigger dark crème de cacao
  • 2 jiggers Baileys Irish cream
  • 1 cup cold milk or cream
  • ice, cubed
  • cocktail shaker
  • 2 old fashioned glasses
  • jigger
Place a handful of ice into a cocktail shaker. Fill each old fashioned glass with ice. Add all liquor ingredients to the shaker, secure lid and shake for 30 seconds. Pour half of the shaken liquor mixture into each old fashioned glass. Top off each glass with cold milk or cream. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Peaches, Apricots or Nectarines? O My!

I recently found myself in a grocery store standing in the produce aisle completely confused. Before my eyes was a huge mound of fruit. The fruit was labeled with a price, but no indication of its name. It looked like a miniature peach. I picked up the fruit, smelled it, and even asked my grocery shopping partner, "Is this an apricot or a nectarine?" With both of us second guessing our answers regarding the identity of this mystery fruit, we picked out two of them, put them in a bag and brought them home.

I think that all of us know what a peach looks like, but when it comes to the difference between apricots and nectarines it becomes, well, hairy.

To reveal the answer without being too technical, peaches and apricots have a skin that is "fuzzy" while nectarines have a skin that is smooth. My mystery fruit turned out to be an apricot. When an apricot is sliced in half a pit, or seed is revealed that is also very similar to a peach.

Once you've halved this nectarine a delicious snack or dessert is waiting for you! I encourage you to eat the fruit by itself or combine it with something light and sweet that will compliment its tart flavor. I suggest vanilla flavored yogurt or ice cream.
***Pictured above is a peach and two apricots. Pictured below is a bowl of vanilla yogurt and diced apricots.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Blueberry Soy Tuna Steak

One perk of living by the ocean is the availability and abundance of fresh seafood. Going to the fish market can be a very exciting and enjoyable experience. It can also be a bit overwhelming. Yellowfin, or ahi tuna is one of our favorite choices because it tastes amazing seared (our favorite way to eat fish). However, it is also good for us. Yellowfin is low in saturated fat and sodium and is a very good source of protein, thiamin, selenium, and vitamin B6. If you have never picked a tuna steak from the market or grocery, here are some great tips. Tuna is a quick and easy meal for two that can and should become a staple in your diet. With this dish however, as in many meals, the secret is in the sauce!


  • .25 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons blueberry syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • dash freshly ground pepper
  • dash garlic salt
  • 1lb fresh ahi tuna, cut into 2 8oz steaks
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • medium skillet or fry pan
  • tongs
  • extra small bowl
  • extra small whisk

Preheat skillet over medium heat. While the skillet heats, place soy sauce, syrup, cinnamon, salt, pepper and garlic salt into an extra small bowl. Whisk until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Set this bowl of sauce aside.

Place the oil in heated skillet and coat the entire bottom of the pan. Add both tuna steaks to the skillet and drizzle with half of the sauce. Allow the steaks to cook for 4 minutes, flip, and drizzle the remaining sauce over the tuna. After 4 more minutes, remove tuna steaks from skillet and serve.

***We prefer our tuna steaks rare to medium rare. To obtain this temperature, cook steaks for 4 minutes on each side. To obtain the perfect temperature for your taste-buds, keep a close eye on the steaks as they cook. This is why we suggest making the sauce before you place the tuna into the skillet.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

Bananas are a favorite fruit in our house, and we are not alone! Over 96% of American households purchase bananas at least once each month. I actually prefer to eat a green banana because I like the firm texture and tart taste. Unfortunately because we live in a region with very high humidity, our bananas ripen very quickly. As a banana ripens the starch in the fruit turns to sugar. Therefore, the riper the banana the sweeter it will taste. My favorite solution to utilizing these sweet, mushy bananas is to make bread. However, tonight I thought I would try something new--to make cookies. I hope that you enjoy them as much as we did!

YIELDS 2.5 dozen

  • .5 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • .5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • .5 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • .5 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • small bowl
  • medium bowl
  • measuring cups
  • electric mixer
  • medium spoon
  • 2 baking sheets
  • spatula
  • wax paper
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl mash the banana with a spoon. Add the baking soda to the bowl and stir to combine the two ingredients. Set aside. In a medium size bowl mix the butter, sugar and egg on a low speed until creamed. Add the banana mixture into the butter mixture and stir rapidly for one minute. Add flour, cinnamon and nutmeg to the bowl and mix on a medium speed until the dry ingredients and wet ingredients create a batter. Fold in chocolate chips. Using the spoon, drop small mounds of batter onto onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Place baking sheet into the oven for 8-10 minutes until the edges turn a golden brown. Let cookies cool on wax paper.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Perfect Tuna Salad

Tuna salad is a snack that my mom used to frequently make for me while I was growing up. Her version included eggs, pickles and mayonnaise. Mine is a little more complex in ingredients but just as quick and easy to make. The great thing about tuna salad is that it is the perfect meal or snack for two!


  • 1 6oz. can tuna, drained
  • 3 eggs, boiled and peeled
  • 1 cup mayonnaise or miracle whip
  • .5 celery stalk, chopped very fine
  • 3 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard
  • .5 tablespoon salt
  • .5 tablespoon dill
  • .5 tablespoon garlic powder
  • dash ground black pepper
  • dash celery seed
  • dash paprika


  • large spoon
  • large bowl
  • measuring cups
  • cutting board
  • santoku or chef's knife
  • plastic wrap

Add tuna, mayonnaise, eggs and mustard to bowl. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Then add chopped celery, apricots and cranberries. Again, stir until mixed. Add dry ingredients and stir one final time. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Remove from refrigerator and serve on a pita, wrapped in a tortilla or placed on crackers. I like mine served on a piece of toasted bread. The juxtaposed temperatures and textures of the warm, crisp bread and the cold, creamy salad are perfect!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nutty Chicken Alfredo with Farfalle

Farfalle pronounced far-FALL-lay is one of those words that just rolls off your tongue. It is fun to say, fun to eat, and as you will learn, it is very fun to cook. Farfalle is commonly known as “bow tie pasta” because of its shape, but literally it translates to "butterfly" in Italian. It is often used in pasta dishes that use a cream sauce, in pasta salads or in dishes such as casseroles, since the pasta bakes and holds its shape well.


  • 3 cups farfalle
  • 8 cups water
  • .5 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • .25 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 nectarine, coarsely chopped
  • 1.5 cups alfredo sauce
  • 2 jiggers Nocello® walnut liqueur (or other nutty liqueur of choice)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • extra virgin olive oil (for the skillet)
  • dash of salt
  • dash of freshly ground pepper


  • saute or chef pan
  • medium skillet or fry pan
  • stockpot
  • colander
  • cooking spoon (wood, nylon or other heat resistant material
  • tongs
  • cutting board
  • santoku or chef's knife

Place water in stockpot and over high heat bring to a boil. Once there is a rolling boil place farfalle into the water and cook until al dente.*** Strain and return to pot.

Add chicken stock and chicken breasts to the saute pan and cook over medium heat. Turn chicken every 2 or 3 minutes to cook thoroughly. Preheat skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion, pepper and nectarine. Cook for 3 minutes and reduce to a low heat. Add alfredo sauce, liqueur and peanut butter stirring constantly until all of the ingredients mix together to form a sauce.

Remove chicken from pan and place on cutting board. Cut into half inch pieces. Place sauce and chicken into pot with pasta. Stir all three components together over a medium heat. Continue to stir together for 3-5 minutes. Serve warm.

***Pasta is referred to as al dente when there is a slight resistance against your teeth. If it's brittle it needs more time. If it's mushy, you've cooked it too long.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Scrambled Egg and Sausage Loaf



  • .5 pound sausage
  • .25 red onion, finely chopped
  • .5 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheese--your choice
  • 2 cans buttermilk biscuits (10/can)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • non-stick cooking spray


  • medium skillet or fry pan
  • small skillet or fry pan
  • bundt pan
  • cooking spoon (wood, nylon or other heat resistant material)

Preheat oven to 450 F. Lightly brown the sausage in medium sized skillet. Add chopped onions and bell pepper to the sausage and simmer together until onion and bell pepper are tender, stirring occasionally. In a separate small skillet combine eggs and cream and continuously stir until eggs scramble.
Spray bundt pan with a non-stick cooking spray (I prefer one with a butter flavor). Line the pan with a layer of biscuits. Biscuits will need to be pulled and stretched and then seams will need to be pressed together to make one continuous "blanket" of dough. Then add a layer of the sausage mixture. Next add a thin layer of eggs. Finally, layer with cheese and then another layer of biscuits. Repeat this process one more time so that the top layer is biscuits. Spread the butter over the top layer. Place pan in the oven and cook until the biscuits are dark golden brown. Allow to cool. Remove from pan; slice and serve.

***This will serve breakfast or brunch for 2 people, twice. For this reason I like to call it a weekender. A weekender is a breakfast or brunch item that can be eaten on Saturday and Sunday morning.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Turkey-Parm Baked Asparagus

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that children are conditioned to detest along with spinach, lima beans, radishes and beets (just to name a few). However, I am convinced that a palate of any age can--and should enjoy the taste of asparagus.
The origin of asparagus cannot be definitively tracked to any one specific area, but it is known to be native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas. It was enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In fact, "As quick as cooking asparagus" was an old Roman saying meaning something accomplished rapidly.
  • 15-20 asparagus spears (small bundle)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • thin-sliced deli smoked turkey
  • parmigiano reggiano or grated parmesan cheese
  • coarse ground sea salt
  • fresh cracked pepper


  • paper towel or napkin
  • casserole dish

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Wash asparagus spears with warm water and pat dry with a paper towel. Snap off the ends of the asparagus at the bottom of each spear where it breaks off naturally. Wrap every other spear with a piece of the sliced deli turkey. Place in a single or double layer in a casserole dish. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes (until the cheese and the tips of the asparagus begin to darken in color.

The great thing about this side dish is that there are no set measurement guidelines on the garnishes (olive oil, balsamic, turkey, salt, pepper, and cheese). All of these ingredients should be added in an amount that works with your taste preference. Want even more fantastic news?: Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in folic acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C. Asparagus has no fat, contains no cholesterol and is low in sodium!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pere con Ricotta

Pere con ricotta--simple translation from Italian is pears with ricotta. Ricotta cheese is widely used in Italian cooking in everything from appetizers to desserts. It is a very soft, low-fat cheese that is actually a by-product of cheese making because it is made from the whey that has been separated from the curd in the process of actually making cheese. It is in fact technically a dairy product rather than an actual cheese because of this fact. Ricotta translates as recooked and was originally made in Rome when it was discovered that the whey could be reheated, then strained, thereby getting it’s name. To learn more about ricotta click here.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ginger spice or 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • .5 tablespoon lemon juice or zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 firm pears peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
  • .75 cup ricotta
  • dash of cinnamon
  • handful of fresh berries--your choice


  • medium saucepan or skillet
  • slotted cooking spoon (wood, nylon or other heat resistant material)

In a medium saucepan or skillet bring the water, ginger, sugar and lemon to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pears and when the mixture returns to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain the simmer. Stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon. Continue to cook the pears until they are very soft to the touch of a utensil. (This may take up to 15 minutes, but your patience will be rewarded.) Remove the pan from the heat and using a slotted spoon divide the pears between two dessert cups or ice cream dishes.

Return the pan to the stove and add the ricotta and cinnamon to the warm syrup mixture. Stir until very smooth. Top the pears with the warm cheese mixture, then place a few berries over each serving. ***I suggest using cold berries. The sensation caused by the difference in temperature between the berries and the other component of the dessert adds an element of surprise to this dish.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Double Pork Chop

I'm usually not a fan of pork, but I went out on a limb with this double pork dish and fell in love with its savory flavors.


  • 2 thin-cut, boneless pork loin chops
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper (for seasoning)
  • extra-virgin olive oil (for the skillet)
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • .5 pound Italian bulk sausage
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • .25 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 6 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sage


  • large skillet or fry pan
  • casserole dish
  • aluminum foil
  • cooking spoon (wood, nylon or other heat resistant material)
  • cutting board
  • santoku or chef's knife

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. While you wait for both to heat up, season the chops with salt and pepper. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the skillet, then add the chops to sear and caramelize the meat on each side (2min/side). Transfer the chops to a casserole dish and add .5 cup of chicken stock to the dish to help the meat remain moist while it continues to cook in the oven. Loosely cover the dish with foil and place in the oven.

Return the skillet to your stove and add a small amount of olive oil again. Add the sausage and crumble it with your wooden spoon as it browns. Add the celery and onion and cook for 2 minutes, then add the bell pepper and apricots and cook for another 2 minutes. (At this point the aroma should be fabulous.) Add the parsley, sage and .5 cup of remaining chicken stock. Reduce the heat and cook for 5 or 6 minutes longer until the apricots are tender and plump, stirring occasionally.

To serve, remove the chops from the oven. Place them on individual plates. Scoop a nice helping of the sausage and vegetable mixture from the skillet onto the top of each chop. Bonn Appetite!