Applelicious Cupcakes

Applelicious Cupcakes

Channeling June Cleaver

Channeling June Cleaver

Friday, December 18, 2015

Cheesy Pancetta Croissant Breakfast Casserole

Christmas morning is a time to spend with family not cooking in the kitchen which is why I love make ahead breakfast casseroles that you can just pop in the oven. My Pancetta casserole is a spicy addition to the breakfast table. If you prefer a more traditional casserole substitute ground pork sausage or bacon for the pancetta. Either way is delicious!

    8 oz. Pancetta
   1 1/4 cups (5 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese
    1 teaspoon table salt
    6 green onions, sliced
    1 (13.22-oz.) package mini croissants (about 24), torn

    Vegetable cooking spray
    3 cups milk
    1 cup heavy cream
    5 large eggs, lightly beaten
    2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Mozzarella cheese


1. Cook Pancetta 4 minutes in a skillet over medium-high heat, drain on paper towels. Cut into bit size pieces. Toss together Pancetta, Parmesan, and next 3 ingredients; arrange in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

2. Whisk together milk and next 2 ingredients; pour over sausage mixture. Cover and chill 8 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 350°. Uncover casserole, and sprinkle with Mozzarella. Bake 45 minutes or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Olive Tapenade Brie in Puff Pastry

The holiday season is here with all the wonderful family dinners and entertaining. I love to make brie a little more fancy by baking in puff pastry. Purchased puff pastry is so easy to use with wonderful professional result that anyone even a beginning cook can wow their guests. I like to make different spreads for my baked brie, sometimes sweet and sometimes savory. If you love olives this is your baked brie. You can either make your own olive tapenade, you can find the recipe below or save time by purchasing store made tapenade. Decorate with slice olives creating a delicious tasting, easy, appetizer.  

1/2 package of frozen puff pastry (one sheet)
1  egg
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup fig spread
1/4 cup homemade tapenade or purchased
1 (8 ounce) Brie Round
sliced olives

Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature for 20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix egg and water. Unfold pastry sheet on lightly floured surface.  Roll into 12" square. Cut pastry to make a 10 inch circle. Spread olive tapenade spread to within 1 inch of pastry edge.  Place cheese round on top. Brush edges with egg mixture.  Fold two opposite sides over cheese. Trim remaining two sides to 2" from edge of cheese.  Fold these two side on the Brie. Press edges to seal. Place seam side down on baking sheet.  Decorate top with rolled out reaming pastry.  I used a mini leaf cookie cutter for a fall them. Brush with egg mixture. Bake 20 minutes or until golden.  Let stand 1 hour. Serve with crackers.

Olive Tapenade
cup pitted kalamata olives (you can use any vary of olives)
1 clove chopped garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon herbs de provence

In mini food processor, combine olives garlic and process until olives are from a spread. Add oil, capers and herbs de Provence. Process until blended.  

Chipotle Turkey Chili

After Thanksgiving I use the leftover turkey to make a big batch of this hot Chili freezing in individual containers to enjoy during the busy holiday season. After a long day of baking and preparing for Christmas I can sit back, relax, serving this delicious Chili for dinner. If you don't want it really hot substitute 1 chopped jalapeno pepper for the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, just as good but with out the kick!

Chipotle Turkey Chili
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 onion, diced
    1/4 cup whiskey
    One 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
    One 14-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    Two 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
    Two cups chicken broth
    1 red pepper, diced
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (use less if desired)
    3 cups cut up cooked turkey
    1/4 cup masa harina
    5 limes, 1 juiced, 4 cut into wedges
    sharp Cheddar, grated
    sour cream
    1/2 bunch fresh cilantro


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for a few minutes until the onions soften.  Add 1 1/2 cup chicken broth, reserving the rest, then cook for a couple of minutes to reduce. Add the black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salt and chipotles and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot and cook for 1 hour. Add cooked turkey.

Combine the masa harina with the rest of the chicken broth and stir to make a paste. Add this into the chili, along with the lime juice. Stir and cook until thick, 10 more minutes.

Serve with the grated cheese, sour cream, diced tomatoes, cilantro and lime wedges for squeezing.



Friday, November 27, 2015

Shrimp with Feta

Quick and easy tasting delicious recipes are always welcome during this busy holiday season. I serve this shrimp dish over Arborio rice or orzo which is a rice shaped pasta. The choice is yours. Either way the dish is so good and so easy, a quick easy homemade meal.

Shrimp with Feta Cheese
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 shallot
pinch of crushed red peppers
1 teaspoon mint
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 can(14.5 oz) Hunt's Petite diced tomatoes
1/2 lb. uncooked shrimp cleaned and deveined
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped calamata olives
1/4 cup feta cheese
Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add garlic and shallot cooking on low for 10 minutes until onions are translucent, do not brown. Add red pepper, mint, oregano, salt and diced tomatoes simmering for 20 minute. Add shrimp, cooking for five minutes or until the shrimp is no longer pink. Stir in lemon juice and olives. Top with feta cheese. Serve over rice or orzo. Makes 4 servings.
Just add a nice tossed salad and fresh bread for a wonderfully easy and delicious meal!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Pumpkin Cranberry Tea Bread with White Chocolate

Loaf breads or Tea bread whatever you call these delectable sweet breads are simply delicious and easy to make. Prefect for a beginning baker or to make when you are short of time. You can also make and freeze to eat later. Smaller loafs are perfect little treats to give as gift during the holidays wrapped up in cellophane tied with a festive ribbon. I love pumpkin bread anytime of the year but especially around Thanksgiving. For me baking isn't only about the taste but about the heavenly cooking aromas filling my home with sweet scents.


    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    3 cups granulated sugar
    1 can (15 ounces) LIBBY'S 100% Pure Pumpkin
    4 large eggs
    1 cup vegetable oil
    1/2 cup orange juice
    1 cup sweetened dried, fresh or frozen cranberries
    1 cup GHIRARDELLI white chocolate chips

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.

COMBINE flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil and juice in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and white chocolate chips. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.

BAKE for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe makes two loaves.

PREPARE as above. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes.

PREPARE as above. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.

Candied Apple Fudge Bundt Cake

Bundt cakes have gotten a bad name over the years, remember ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’, where the wishy-washy mother-in-law brings a bundt cake to the over the top engagement party and the bride’s Greek families reaction. Bundt cakes can be elevated to a show stopping dessert so easily. I have a repertoire of deliciously eye popping bundt cakes that are a great addition to any dinner or party. 

                             Candied Apple Fudge Bundt Cake

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup finely chopped pecans
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and finely chopped Gala apples (about 1 1/2 lb.)

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar


1 bag of caramels
1 tablespoon water

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pecan halves


1. Prepare Filling: Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended and smooth. Add egg, flour, and vanilla; beat just until blended.

2. Prepare Batter: Preheat oven to 350º. Bake pecans in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Stir together 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 3 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in apples and pecans.

3. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture into a greased and floured 14-cup Bundt pan. Spoon Cream Cheese Filling over apple mixture, leaving a 1-inch border around edges of pan. Swirl filling through apple mixture using a paring knife. Spoon remaining apple mixture over Cream Cheese Filling.

4. Bake at 350º for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours).

5. Prepare Praline Frosting: Bring 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 3 Tbsp. milk to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth; stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Pour immediately over cooled cake.

6. Combine caramels with water in microwave proof bowl. Microwave on high for 2  1/2 to 3 minutes. Stir for one minute and drizzle over cake.

7. Prepare White Chocolate Glaze: Melt chocolate and cream in double boiler. Let cool slightly. Whisk in powdered sugar. Drizzle glaze over cake.
Top with pecan halves.7. Prepare White Chocolate Glaze: Melt chocolate and cream in double boiler. Let cool slightly. Whisk in powdered sugar. Drizzle glaze over cake. Top with pecan halves.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Winter is Coming Vegetable Stew

                                                Winter is Coming Vegetable Stew

Like The Seven Kingdoms of Westerly, winter is coming to New England. To ward off the frigid snowy weather I love to create tasty, healthy, soups and stews that are filling but low in fat, salt and calories but not short on flavor.  My vegetable stew fits that description perfectly. Totally healthy, vegan, flavorful with just the right kick from hot sauce.  I make a big batch and free for future dinners when snow drifts are blanketing our homes.

2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic crushed
1 large shallot chopped
8 oz baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 can(14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes, Hunt’s no salt added
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 cup chopped baby carrots
1 cup farro, rinsed
1 can (15 oz) Cannellini Beans, rinsed
Griller Crumbles, Morning Star
2 tablespoon Franks Hot sauce

In large stock pot heat olive, add garlic and shallot cooking for 5 minutes until translucent. Don’t brown.  Add mushrooms cooking another 5 minutes.  Combine tomatoes, vegetable broth and chili power adding to vegetables mixture. Add carrots, farro, cover, simmer for 15 minutes. Finish stew by adding beans, Griller Crumbles and Franks Hot Sauce. Simmer for 10 more minutes.  


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sole Meuniere

The sole taste amazing with the combination of lemon, butter and capers. Sole is a mild tasting fish that absorbs the flavors in this dish staying firm. I add capers for extra flavor. Quick and easy especially for cooks that have shied away from making fish. And for non fish eaters, sole is not fishy, even they will enjoy eating Sole Meuniere!
                                                  Sole Meuniere


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 fresh sole fillets, 3 to 4 ounces each
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Have a baking dish ready

Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large shallow plate or use a plastic bag. Pat the sole fillets dry with paper towels and sprinkle one side with salt.

Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Dredge 4 sole fillets in the seasoned flour on both sides and place them in the hot butter. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes. Turn carefully with a metal spatula and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. While the second side cooks, add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, 1/2 of capers and 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the pan. Carefully put the fish filets on the ovenproof plates and pour the sauce over them. Keep the cooked fillets warm in the oven while you repeat the process with the remaining 4 fillets. When they're done, add the cooked fillets to the baking dish in the oven. Sprinkle with the parsley, salt, and pepper and serve immediately.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Farro Stuffed Eggplant

I just love the end of the summer produce with all the unbelievable varieties. Eggplant is one of my favorite veggie with all the wonderfully different types in not only farmer's markets but at local grocery stores. I found these great round eggplants that just shouted stuff me. You can stuff eggplant so many different ways. With these round beauties I went for a simple stuffing using eggplant, scallions, garlic, basil, red pepper, cherry tomatoes and farro. Farro, an Italian grain gives a nutty like favor to the stuffing. I serve these eggplants as an main dish with salad and fresh baked bread.

Farro Stuffed Eggplant

2 round eggplants
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch scallions, sliced, white part only
2 cloves garlic, chopped
red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 large red pepper, shopped in to small pieces
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup farro, cooked according to directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside. Slice tops of eggplant and discard. Cut out the pulp of the eggplant. Using a spoon scoop out remaining pulp making a bowl out of the eggplant. Chop eggplant pulp into cubes then place the pulp in a colander; sprinkle with salt. Also sprinkle salt inside eggplant bowl, both set for 30 minutes. Rinse eggplant pulp and bowls with water patting dry with paper towels. Heat olive oil in medium sauteing pan add scallions cooking on medium for a few minutes then add garlic. Cook just until you can smell the garlic, add red pepper flakes and basil. Continue to cook for a minute then add red peppers and tomatoes. Cook for five minutes stirring to keep the veggies cooking evenly. Then add farro stir to combine. Remove from heat cooling for 15 minutes. Stuff eggplant with farro filling. Place in prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes.


Garlicky White Bean Dip with Pita Chips

 Calling all garlic lovers this is the bean dip for you! I love this easy dip with it's zesty garlic taste. Add capers and basil what could be more delicious. You can serve with homemade pita chips or fresh veggies. Keep the ingredients on hand for a fresh dip for an evening with friends.

                                             Garlicky White Bean Dip with Pita Chips

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoon capers
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
6 pitas
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the beans, garlic, capers, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and basil in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl. Chill until serving then right before serving drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on top.

Cut each pita in half and then into 8 wedges. Arrange the pita wedges on a large baking sheet. Pour the remaining oil over the pitas. Toss and spread out the wedges evenly. Sprinkle with the oregano, salt, and pepper. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color.

Serve the pita toasts warm or at room temperature alongside the bean puree.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Peach Schnapps Pie with Streusel Topping

August is peach season with fresh picked peaches in all the markets. Peach pie is one of my favorites pies(I know I say that about every pie!). Sometimes you have to do something different, go a little rouge, shack it up! That's what I did with this Peach Pie, I added Peach Schnapps to the filling, added a struesel topping all in a phyllo pie crust. I just let my creative cooking ideas flow for this show stopping pie!

Streusel topping:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoon Peach Schnapps
3 3/4 to 4 pounds peaches, peeled with vegetable peeler, halved, pitted, cut into 1-inch wedges

Phyllo Pie Crust:
10 14x9-inch sheets fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger

Streusel topping:
Stir flour, oats, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture holds together in moist clumps. Mix in pecans. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.

Stir sugar and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in Peach Schnapps, then peaches; toss. Let stand at least 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.


Lightly butter 10-inch-diameter tart pan. Place rimmed baking sheet in oven to heat. Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in small bowl. 
Set rack at lowest position in oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lay 1 phyllo sheet on clean work surface and brush lightly with butter (keep remaining phyllo sheets covered with plastic wrap and damp towel to prevent drying). Sprinkle 1scant teaspoonful cinnamon mixture over phyllo. Repeat 4 times with phyllo, butter, and cinnamon mixture. Arrange stacked phyllo in tart pan, gently pressing and allowing long sides to hang over edge of pan. Repeat layering process with 5 remaining phyllo sheets. Arrange stacked phyllo crosswise atop first sheets so that overhanging corners point in opposite directions. Roll overhang in to form edge of crust. 
Spoon filling into crust. Scatter topping over, breaking up large clumps.

Bake pie 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 350°F; bake until juices bubble thickly and topping is golden, covering edges with foil if browning too quickly, about 30 hour. Cool on rack at least 1 1/2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Farm Fresh Tomato Eggplant Bake with Mozzarella

We New Englanders live for the summer months when all the area CSAs and farm markets products are local, fresh and available. Perfect for a vegetable lover and cook. Here is my problem, I get carried away by the bountiful beauty at my local Farmer's Market going overboard with my purchases. I just can't help myself, I'm like a kid in a candy shop! What to do when I return home with my bags bursting with all kinds of produce; Cook up all the veggie casseroles that just pop up in my brain. This week I was loving the large local tomatoes along with the deep purple eggplant. I picked up locally grown onions and fresh local mozzarella to finish creating my Tomato Eggplant Bake with Mozzarella. I just added olive oil with my home grown herbs for a flavor bursting veggie dish, quick, easy and delicious.

Farm Fresh Tomato Eggplant Bake with Mozzarella

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 large eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced, salted*
1 large vadalia onion, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a large 13"by10" baking pan. Layer eggplant on baking pan. Drizzle with herb olive oil, then top with onion, drizzle herb oil, followed by 1/2 of the slice mozzarella. Continue to layer with tomato, remaining oil then the last of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with finely chopped basil. Bake for 45 minutes until cheese is melted and starting to brown. I then like to broil for a few minutes just so the cheese is bubbly. 

*To salt eggplant, peel and cut thinly. Place it in a colander, sprinkle generously with salt (don't worry, you'll be rinsing most of it off before you cook it) and let it sit for about an hour. Before using, thoroughly rinse the eggplant and pat it dry.


Baked Zucchini and Summer Squash Casserole with Polenta and Mozzarella

Summertime is my favorite time to go to local Farmer’s Markets savoring all the beautiful fresh picked produced. I love to shop like a Parisian filling my market basket with produce, cheese, bread and even fresh fish. I love to create delicious meals with all my purchases. I love this Zucchini and squash casserole that I added polenta and mozzarella making this the main course not a side dish. I served it with fresh bread and a salad made of spicy greens, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers all that I just picked up at the Farmer’s Market.

                        Baked Zucchini and Summer Squash Casserole with Polenta and Mozzarella


Polenta, Instant, I used Bellino
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 pounds summer squash (about 6 medium), sliced into thin rounds
2 pounds zucchini (about 6 medium), sliced into thin rounds
1/2 cup sliced fresh mozzarella
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 large eggs
1/2  cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 1/2 tablespoon butter.

Cook Polenta according to directions. Remove from heat add butter and Parmesan cheese. Pour Polenta into prepared baking dish.

Heat the olive oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt, and black pepper and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and zucchini and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Stir in the thyme and remove from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the half of vegetables to the prepared baking dish, reserving the cooking liquid.  Top vegetables with sliced mozzarella then remaining vegetables.

Combine the eggs and cream in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Gradually whisk the reserved cooking liquid into the egg mixture. When all the cooking liquid is incorporated, pour the mixture over the vegetables in the baking dish. Using a spoon, gently shift the vegetables around so the egg mixture is evenly distributed. Bake until the mixture sets, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan, return to the oven. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tuscan Tuna Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

Summertime is salad time at our house. I love to use the fresh bounty from local farmers markets to create wonderfully fresh and delicious salads. What could be better on a hot evening than cool crisp greens covered with heirloom tomatoes then topped with Tuscan Tuna Salad. Just add fresh Italian bread, wine and fresh peaches for dessert. Now that says summertime!

Tuscan Tuna Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 (6-ounce) cans tuna in olive oil, drained  I use Genova
2 ribs celery chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped, white only
1/4 cup chopped sweet grape tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1/2 head lettuce, or field greens
2 large heirloom tomatoes, one red, one yellow, sliced

Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, basil and thyme in small bowl. In a medium bowl lightly chunk tuna then add celery, scallions, grape tomatoes, olives and capers. Toss with most of the salad dressing. Reserve 2 tablespoons. 
Line a plate with lettuce. Top with heirloom tomatoes, then drizzle with reserved salad dressing. Place Tuna Salad on top.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Pan Seared Mediterranean Swordfish

Swordfish is a mild white fish that is easily prepared, delicious when seasoned with all different flavors. I like to try different styles of preparing swordfish but one of my favorite is to just pan sear with great spices, lemon, capers, olives and tomatoes reminding me of dinning over looking the blue Mediterranean sea!

Pan Seared Mediterranean Swordfish


two 1-inch-thick swordfish steaks, each about 6 ounces
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
4 thin lemon slices


Pat swordfish dry and season with salt and pepper. In a heavy skillet heat butter and oil over moderately high heat until foam subsides and sauté garlic with crushed red pepper, stirring, 1 minute. Push shallots to side of skillet. Add swordfish and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn fish over and add lemon juice, capers, and water. Top with olives, tomatoes and lemon slices. Simmer mixture 3 minutes, or until fish is just cooked through.  Serves two.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Beautiful Old Fashioned English Roses perfect addition to your garden.

As an avid passionate gardener roses have always found a place in my garden and my heart. Roses have the reputation of being divas, demanding many hours dead heading, protecting against invading pest and leaf mold. Although I love show stopping long stem roses my favorite rose variety for my garden is old fashion English Roses purchased from David Austin Roses. Old English Roses are not princesses like their high maintenance sisters instead they are quite beauties that remind me of paintings of flowers by the old masters or a charming cottage in the English countryside surrounded and covered with rioting blooms of roses. Maybe that is why I love these little jewels not only are they low maintenance but once established in the garden their proliferation of flowers is magnificent. Old fashion roses still have a delicate scent that permeates my garden especially early in the morning when the dew is lightly glistening on their delicate petals. A morning stroll with a cup a tea is instance aroma therapy, a favorite heavenly moment before I start a busy day.

Old fashion roses like all good things don’t last long. Magnificently  booming for a short time, energy spent quickly, then fading soon after their peak of blooming. Don’t fret if you plant the continuously blooming variety they will produce an abundance of flowers all season long that you can cut bring indoors for massing in beautiful vases to enjoy inside.

The history of roses is part of the history of human civilization. It is believed that roses were grown in all the early civilizations of temperate climates from at least 5000 years ago. They were grown in ancient Babylon. Paintings of roses have been discovered in Egyptian pyramid tombs from the 14th century BC. Records exist of roses being grown in Chinese gardens and Greek gardens from at least 500 BC. All these years later and roses popularity has not waned talking center stage in most modern day gardens.

Old Garden Rose is defined as any rose belonging to a class which existed before the introduction of the first Modern Rose, La France, in 1867. Other names for this group include heritage and historic roses. In general, Old Garden Roses of European or Mediterranean origin are once-blooming woody shrubs, with notably fragrant, double-flowered blooms primarily in shades of white, pink and crimson-red. The shrubs' foliage tends to be highly disease-resistant, and they generally bloom only from canes (stems) which formed in previous years. The introduction of China and Tea roses from East Asia around 1800 led to new classes of Old Garden Roses which bloom on new growth, often repeatedly from spring to fall.

Although not officially recognized as a separate class of roses by any established rose authority, English (aka David Austin) roses are often set aside as such by consumers and retailers alike. Development started in the 1960s by David Austin of Shropshire, England, who wanted to rekindle interest in Old Garden Roses by hybridizing them with modern hybrid teas and floribundas. The idea was to create a new group of roses that featured blooms with old-fashioned shapes and fragrances, evocative of classic galicia, alba and "damask" roses, but with modern repeat-blooming characteristics and the larger modern color range as well. actively developed, with new varieties released regularly.

If you are a rose lover as I am I highly recommend a trip to the Huntington Library in San Marino Ca to see the Rose Garden over 3,000 rose plant with 1,300 different varieties. Save time for a reservation at the Rose Garden Tea Room. Reservations required.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" William Shakespeare

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Seafood Pasta for Two

Seafood Pasta for two

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 shallot chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 bottle clam juice
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, I like Penzy’s Tuscan Sunset
pinch saffron
pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed hot red peppers
1/2 pound clams
1 pound mussels
1/4 sea scallops
1/2 pound spaghetti

Heat oil in pan adding garlic and shallots cooking until translucent just releasing the flavors. Add tomatoes, clam juice, Italian seasonings, saffron, salt, black pepper and red pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add clams, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add mussels continuing to simmer for another 10 minutes until clams and mussels are open. Add scallops combining with sauce, simmer for 3 minutes. While the seafood is simmering cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain pasta and put in a large bowl. Add seafood lightly toss. Serve with Parmesan cheese.


Mediterranean Potato Salad

Mediterranean Potato Salad

Summertime means salad, lots and all different combinations of tastes and textures to spice up your pallet. I love making old favorites with a twist to change it up. Lately my in my potato salad I'm using those beautifully colored gourmet potatoes that are popping up in your local market or you can find an even more variety at farmer's market. These little jewels so colorfully flavored need just a little dressing, I don't like to cover up their beauty with a heavy mayonnaise dressing so I do a light olive oil with a Mediterranean flare, feta cheese, olives and so much more!

1 cup Israel couscous, cooked according to package instructions
1 28 oz bag gourmet confetti potatoes
1 bunch scallions, chopped, whites part only
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup feta cheese
2 teaspoon pesto, freshly prepared or from market
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basal or 1 teaspoon Penzy's Tuscan Sunset
1/4 teaspoon seal salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook couscous according to package instructions then place in large bowl. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, add cold water to cover by about an inch and season lightly with sea salt,. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 5-8 minutes. Don't over cook. Drain and cool. Cut potatoes in half then gently toss with couscous. Add scallions, olives and feta cheese. In a small bowl combine pesto, oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Toss again to evenly mix dressing. Season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summertime Soft Shell Crabs

 Soft Shell Crabs

Soft Shell Crab season is short but sweet. The first time I ordered soft shell crabs I was hooked on this seasonal delight so I started making my own crabs which are so easy. You can change up the seasonings for a different flavor. In this recipe I used the traditional Old Bay seasoning but I've used Chinese Five spices or Herbs de Provence. Have fun with cooking by putting your own signature on your creations!. When you buy the crabs just ask the store to clean them for you. 

4 soft-shell crabs, cleaned and patted dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
Few chive blades, chopped


Combine four and Old Bay. Season crabs with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour mixture, shaking off excess. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil and saute the crabs until soft, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the crabs and set aside. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add the capers and white wine. Cook until wine has reduced to about 1/2. Swirl in the butter and the chopped chives. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer crabs to a plate, spoon sauce over the crabs and garnish with chopped chives.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lucious Lemon Curd Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting



Lucious Lemon Curd Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting


  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 jar Lemon Curd, I like Stonewall Kitchen
  • Lemon Butter Cream Frosting
  • Garnish: Candied Lemon Slices


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add oil, egg yolks, and orange juice. Beat at medium-high speed 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth. Stir in zest.
2. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into flour mixture. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
3. Bake at 350° for 17 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
4. Place one cake layer on cake dish; spread with half of lemon curd one inch from cake edge. Top with second cake layer spreading remaining lemon curd one inch from cake edge. You don't want to spread to the end of the cake edge so filling won't spill out from cake as you put cake layer on top. Place third layer on top.
5. Spread Lemon Buttercream Frosting on top and sides of cake.
6. Garnish with Candied Lemon Slices.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • 3/4 cup butter, nearly at room temperature, I use Cabot Butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract 
 In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter with lemon zest on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy (it should be nearly white. If using a paddle attachment that doesn't constantly scrape bowl while mixing, then stop mixer occasionally throughout entire mixing process and scrape down bottom and sides of bowl). Mix in 1 cup powdered sugar, then blend in lemon juice, cream, vanilla extract and lemon extract. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, then whip mixture until very fluffy, about 4 - 5 minutes longer.

Candied Lemon Slices:

2 small lemons
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup water


Cut lemons into 1/8-inch-thick rounds; discard seeds. Stir together sugar, lemon juice, and water in a large skillet over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon slices, and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, 14 to 16 minutes or until slightly translucent and rinds are softened. Remove from heat. Place slices in a single layer in a wax paper-lined jelly-roll pan, using tongs. Cool completely (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 2 hours.  Can be made up to two day ahead.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

One adorable Kate Spade dress three different looks!

Clothes are my passion, my love! I just had to share my favorite dress of this spring/summer season, a fabulously versatile Kate Spade leopard dot tie back dress that I just fell in love with. I get euphoric just thinking about wearing this dress, it’s just perfect for me. The moment I saw this dress on line I got that special rush when I see something that I know I had to have, it had my name all over it. I booked it to my nearest Kate Spade store to see if the dress had made an appearance in their newly arrived  collection. As soon as I entered the store my eyes went right to the dress. Much to my despair only two sizes were left, two and six. I tried on the six which was too big, unusual since I find Kate Spade dresses are cut small. No size four in the store so I gave the two a try and to my surprise a perfect fit. I was delighted that not only did the dress fit, it was just outstanding on me. Quickly I whipped out my credit card securing this beauty for me.

You are probably asking yourself what is so special about the dress that I was so mad for it. First it looked great on me. You have to know your body type and style buying only what looks right for you. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way with many fashion faux pas wasting money on an wonderful outfit that look awful on me. Second I knew that I could do so much with this dress creating different looks taking the dress from work to evening or even to a casual day event. I went home to work some magic creating three perfect ensembles that I just love!

First I knew the dress is just the right base for a sophisticated work or conference outfit with style and polish. I cinched the wast with a thick black patten leather belt, topped it with a short swing style jacket by Milly that I found at Cusp,

L.K. Bennett nude pumps,
added a single Mikimoto strand pearl necklace,

David Yurman pearl drop earnings,

thin silver bracelets and carried the geranium color Kate Spade Cedar Street Jensen handbag.

Drop dead perfect first impression professional work outfit.

Want a fun easy to wear dress for a night out with friends, this dress works so well from office to cocktails. Take off the jacket and belt, change to strappy black sandals. I wore my  Stuart Weitzman Nudistsong High Heel Patent.
Add a bold necklace, my favorite J Crew pearls,
small fun bag. I like Kate Spade's Splash Out Wicker Clam Shell
and you are ready for a night out.

Off to a day function that is a step up from casual but not quite dressy this dress magically dresses down by wearing a classic J. Crew jeans jacket,
chunky Tory Burke cork sandals,
large funky hoop earrings and carrying Kate Spade Belle Place Straw Summer  handbag

for a totally different third look.

One versatile dress you can change into three wonderfully put together outfits! And if you are a shopper like me you have all the accessories needed to complete each ensemble already in your closet or you can splurge on a few that I mentioned. What could be more easy and fun!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Outrageous Triple Chocolate Salted Caramel Nut Cake

 Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. If you love chocolate this cake is for you. My inspiration for this outrageous chocolate cake was chocolate salted caramel candy. I have to admit  I seemed to get a little carried away. Warring this cake is very rich eat accordingly! Truly a show stopping cake worth a few calories.
  •  CAKE
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce  
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoon cream
    3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


1. Prepare Cake: Preheat oven to 325°. Whisk together flour and next 3 ingredients. Beat 1 1/2 cups butter in a medium bowl at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yolk disappears. Combine 1 1/4 cups buttermilk and next 2 ingredients. Add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed after each addition. Fold bittersweet chips into batter. Pour 1/2 batter into a well-greased (with shortening) and floured 12-cup Bundt pan. Place 1/4 cup semisweet chips on batter. Spoon caramel sauce over chips. Top with remaining semisweet chips. Gently pour remaining batter in pan.  Sharply tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles.
2. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on rack.
3. Prepare Chocolate Glaze: Combine semisweet chocolate morsels, 3 Tbsp. butter, and 1 Tbsp. corn syrup in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50% power) 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until morsels begin to melt, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Stir in 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
4. Prepare White Chocolate Glaze: Melt chocolate and cream in double boiler. Let cool slightly. Whisk in powdered sugar. Drizzle glaze over cake.
5. Pour caramel sauce over cake, sprinkle with sea salt then nuts.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Live to 100 Chick Pea Salad

In the book The Blue Zones by Dan Beuttner, Blue Zones are the longest living cultures in the world, one common dietary staple in all the areas is beans, all different kinds of beans. I love to use any kind of bean in my recipes, from soups, chillies, pastas and especially salads. Chickpeas( garbanzo beans) are one of my favorite to use in my recipes like this Live to 100 Chickpea Salad.  I've added some crunch and sweetness to this salad with pecans and dried cranberries. Nuts also play an important role in Blue Zone cultures!
You can like I do use this salad as a base for a more hearty dinner salad combining a protein such as tuna, chicken, tofu just to name a few. If you want to keep the salad vegan you can add more crunchy veggies such as red peppers, carrots, fennel and so many more different colors and textures. Experimenting you can find so many different uses for this basic salad while adding years on your life!

Live to 100 Chickpea Salad
3(15 1/2-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 bunch green onions, sliced, just white bulbs
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped kale
micro greens

Put chickpeas in mixing bowl. In a small bowl combine lemon juice, olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and garlic.
Add onions, pecans and cranberries, and kale to chickpeas.  Toss lemon juice mixture with chickpeas mixture.  Chill for four hours or more to allow flavors to combine. Top with micro greens before serving.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chicken Sausage White Bean Kale Soup with Mushrooms

We are really having a tough winter here in New England with the temperature at minus fifteen this morning when I went out to yoga.  What could be warm me up better than a hot bowl of soup. I love all the ingredients in the Sausage Soup I made today which taste so good and filling on a cold winter day. Healthy and tasty my favorite combination!

Chicken Sausage White Bean Kale Soup with Mushrooms

5-6 chicken sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped leeks, white part only
1/2 cup celery, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 cups Kale, chopped leaves no stems
62 ounces(cartons) chicken broth, either homemade or bought.  I use low sodium, low fat chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried french thyme

Cook sausage in large frying pan on medium heat turning frequently for 15- 20 minutes. Sausage should be browned. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
Heat olive in large stock pot. Add garlic, leeks and celery cooking on low for 10 minutes, don't brown. Add mushrooms and cook for additional 10 minutes. Add kale cook just until wilted.
Add chicken broth, pepper, salt and thyme. Slice sausage into 1 inch slices then add to soup.
Simmer stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Serve hot plain or sprinkle with freshly graded Parmesan cheese.


Lemon Curd Cream Cheese Pound Cake


Lemon Curd Cream Cheese Pound Cake


1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 cups sugar
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour 

1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 jar Lemon Curd


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese, beating until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
2. Gradually add flour to butter mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Stir in lemon and vanilla extracts. Pour one-third of batter into a greased and floured 10-inch (14-cup) tube pan (about 2 2/3 cups batter). Dollop 8 rounded teaspoonfuls lemon curd over batter, and swirl with wooden skewer. Repeat procedure once, and top with remaining third of batter.
3. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Lemon Glaze:

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Stir together powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and enough milk for desired glazing consistency in small bowl. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Candied Lemon Slices:

2 small lemons
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup water


Cut lemons into 1/8-inch-thick rounds; discard seeds. Stir together sugar, lemon juice, and water in a large skillet over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon slices, and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, 14 to 16 minutes or until slightly translucent and rinds are softened. Remove from heat. Place slices in a single layer in a wax paper-lined jelly-roll pan, using tongs. Cool completely (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 2 hours.  Can be made up to two day ahead.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Simply adorable and easy Spring Place Cards

I enjoy setting a holiday table including making decorator Place Cards. These spring themed place cards are perfect for Easter or any other spring dinner party. This Easter I had an egg them so I wanted to make place cards to match. So easy to make!

Supplies Needed:
12 colored place cards, I used mint green from Paper Source, my go to paper store.
12 mini nest from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store
dried moss from any craft store
12 mini robin eggs from Pottery Barn
hot glue gun

1. Print name on place cards. Paper Source has a templates on line for all your printing needs. I used brown to print on the mint green.

2. Attach a just a few strands of the moss on robin's nest with glue. Put a little more glue on top of moss and attach robin egg. Press and hold for a few seconds to secure.

3. Cut to slits on the top of the place card, the slits should be an inch in from each side. Fold slits down to create a ledge for the robins nest.

4. Cover ledge with glue securing the nest to the top of the place card.

Your done! Simple easy beautiful place cards!