Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bruschetta Style Chicken with Garlic-Basil Orzo

This is a  light meal, full of flavor and very satisfying. 

Roasted Chicken
4  6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
Granulated garlic
Rubbed sage
Sea salt & Pepper

Arrange chicken on roasting pan.  Brush with oil and season with herbs.  Roast in oven for 30 minutes at 350F.  Check to be sure chicken is cooked through.  If additional time is needed, reduce heat to 300 and bake another 15 minutes.

Bruschetta Sauce
2 14-oz cans petitie diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon olive or canola oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil coarse chopped.
2 cloves garlic, chopped or 2 teaspoon chopped wet garlic (available in cooler section of grocery store)
Sea salt & Pepper, to taste

Put oil and onions in a medium saucepan and saute onions until tender.  Add the remaining ingredients to saucepan and simmer on low heat for half hour, stirring occasionally. 

1 cup orzo
1 1/2 cup water
1 chicken bouillion cube
granulated garlic
fresh chopped basil

In a suate pan, over low heat. lightly toast the orzo.  Stir occasionally to evenly toast.  Turn heat to medium high and add water and bouillion cube.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occationally.  Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and basil and simmer 3 more minutes.  Cover and remove from heat until ready to serve.

Portion out orzo on plate.  Slice breast of chicken and arrange on top of orzo.  Top with Bruschetta Sauce and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Make Everyday Look Spectacular

Sometimes we get so tied up with our everyday responsibilities, we forget to take the time to create a nice looking, as well as, appetizing meal. It is very easy to just throw the food to the wolves and let them devour it, instead of pleasing the eye also. Simple touches will do the trick.  Some chopped herbs over the top, or a fresh sprig tucked on the side of the plate.

Today I had a salad for my lunch. And as I was chopping and placing the items on the plate, I automatically began arranging them in an appealing way. This is a habit picked up from my many years in the professional kitchen. Remember, you taste the food first with the eyes. Anyway, back to my salad. It was just a plain garden salad, but I wanted it to be pretty before I tore into it. Sort of foreplay for the taste buds. He! He!

I did manage to snap a picture before diving into it.  I love a diversity of flavors in a salad and just a hint of dressing. I don't have any dressing on it at this point, as all I had in the house today was ranch. Having that globed on the top would have taken away from the raw beauty of the vegetables.

There really is some lettuce under all that.  I got carried away because just about everything in the refrigerator that could go on it, really looked good.  I was going to type as I ate, but it was so good, I didn't want to put my fork down. 

Occasionally, try to give your food some pizazz and just take a little extra time with placement.  And don't let it get to you if your family teases you.  If it makes you smile, that's all that matters.  So, keep cooking and keep smiling!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stretching Your Dollar-Ramen Noodle Style

In today's economy, you have to make every dollar you have go as far as you can. Especially if you are a college student or on your own for the first time. One thing that college students seem to live on these days is Ramen noodles. They come in a variety of flavors already, but after awhile, I think they would become tedious and boring.

Being a chef, I always try to think of ideas to improve on and revitalize an old dish. I looked over some ideas and come up with some yummy ideas that could turn a boring Ramen noodle meal into an interesting experience. Here are a couple to try this week.

Beef 'n Broccoli

Beef flavored Ramen noodles
1/2 cup cubed or strips of cooked beef
1 cup cut frozen broccoli
1 stem spring onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Soy sauce to taste

Cook noodles as directed, except leave the seasoning packet out. Drain most of the water from the noodles. Add the beef, broccoli, season packet, garlic, and pepper. Stir together. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle chopped spring onion on top. Season with soy sauce to taste.

Taco Ramen

Beef flavored Ramen noodles
1/2 pound cooked ground beef
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1 small Roma tomato, chopped
1 stem spring onion, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheese
Taco sauce
Sour cream

Cook noodles as directed, except leave the seasoning packet out. Drain most of the water form the noodles. Add the seasoning packet, cooked drained ground beef, and chili powder. Transfer to a bowl and top with chopped tomato and spring onion, shredded cheese, taco sauce and sour cream. Add a few tortilla chips for some crunch, if desired.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


A roux is a simple combination of two ingredients that makes your life so much easier in the kitchen when thickening soups, sauces and gravies; just to name a few. To make a roux is very easy, like I said, it is only two ingredients.

Take unsalted butter and melt down on low heat. Drain off the clarified butter on the top and discard the milk fats that have collected on the bottom. In a heavy sauce pan, on medium heat, add the clarified butter and equal amounts of plain flour. Heat the mixture until it begins to put off a slightly nutty aroma. Remove from heat and store in a container until needed. You can store it in a cool dark area, or if you have made a large amount, store in the refrigerator.

The importance of using plain flour is not evident when you make the initial product. However, depending on what you are adding it to can be very important. You do not want to use self rising flour because it already has baking powder and salt added. The baking powder is the major reason you do not want to use self rising flour for roux, as it could cause a rapid boil over when added to a product and ruin what you are cooking and potentially burn you.

When using roux, just add small pieces, about the size of a pad of butter, until you get the desired thickness. Have your product on medium high heat and stir in with a whisk. Remember, the sauce will thicken more as it cools.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This is a classic French dish simplified. Good food does not necessarily mean complicated food.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
8 slices Swiss cheese
8 slices deli ham
8 spears fresh asparagus (optional)
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
¼ cup melted butter
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Pound out the chicken breasts until equal thickness through out, using a meat mallet. Lay breasts with inside facing up. (Determining the inside and outside of the breast is easy. The outside is smooth, and the inside you can see the muscle tissue.) Layer Swiss cheese, deli ham, and asparagus across short part of the meat. Grasping one end of breast, tightly roll it up and secure with a toothpick. Lay seam side down in a baking dish sprayed with pan release.

Season with salt and pepper. Mix breadcrumbs and butter together and evenly sprinkle on top of breasts. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes and breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Serve over wild rice with a White Basil Sauce.

White Basil Sauce

In a saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, sea salt and pepper to taste. Bring up to medium heat and stir to keep from burning. Once hot, add 1 pint heavy whipping cream. Bring back up to heat, until you get a gentle rolling boil. Allow to reduce slightly and thicken with a pinch of roux. Roux (pronounced roué) is melted clarified butter heated with a little plain flour and made into a paste. Remember, sauce will thicken more once it cools some. If it is too thick, just add a little more cream or milk.

Serve over Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Passion For A Sandwich

One thing I love is a good sandwich. Not just any lunch meat sandwich, but a combination of delicious ingredients that tantalize the mouth and make the tummy happy. Gently toasted and full of good stuff. The toasting makes the sandwich. Use whatever you have to; George Foreman type grill, an electric griddle, or your faithful cast iron skillet. I like to slightly warm most of the ingredients so when I bite in, it’s hot all the way through and satisfying to the senses.

Just about anything that can be combined on a plate, can be placed between two slices of bread. Remember that turkey sandwich at Thanksgiving? Sliced turkey, a little stuffing, cranberry sauce, and replace the mayo with some mashed potatoes, all toasted and served with a side of gravy for dipping. YUMMY!!!! Or turkey and warm apples with sautéed onions and craisins. These are the types of combinations I love to create. My boyfriend even loves a Spaghetti sandwich. Go figure.

So here are a few of my favorites I want to share. May you enjoy them as much as I do.

Cuban Press

Roast pork loin, thin sliced
Deli ham, sliced
Swiss cheese, sliced
Dill pickles, sandwich sliced
Spicy mustard
French bread, diagonally cut
A little melted butter

Take you French bread and cut on an extreme diagonal. Cover each slice with some spicy mustard on the inside and brush lightly with the melted butter on the outside. Layer the pork loin, ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles between the bread. Place it in your grill and close the lid so the sandwich is “pressed”. If you are using a griddle or cast iron pan, place weight on top of the sandwich to get the “pressed” effect.


Corned beef, thinly sliced (thin slicing is the key to the flavor of the sandwich)
Swiss cheese, sliced
Thousand Island dressing
Rye bread (I use the rye, pumpernickel combination)
A little melted butter

Because of the “messy” potential of this sandwich, I lightly toast the bread first using a regular toaster. It gives some stability to the structure so it doesn’t fall apart in your hands.

Butter both slices of bread on one side. On the other side of one of the slices, spread some Thousand Island dressing. Layer on the corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. I warm up the sauerkraut first so it is hot all the way in the middle without burning the bread. Grill on both sides until golden brown.

Classic Caprese Sandwich

Choice of tomato, medium sliced (there are some beautiful heirloom tomatoes available)
Buffalo Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Basil pesto
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Sourdough or French bread
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add tomatoes and capers and heat just until the tomatoes begin to break down. About 2 minutes. Take off heat. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar.

Brush oil on each side of bread. On opposite side spread some basil pesto. Arrange mozzarella and tomato/caper mixture on bread, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toast sandwiches on both sides.


Check back later for more delicious combinations. Until then, YUMMY YUMMY for your tummy!

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Hearty Meal For Those Cold Days

Bolognese Sauce is an excellent sauce for days when the wind is blowing and the cold is biting through your coat. Bolognese Sauce got its name because it is cooked in the traditional style of Bologna Italy, meaning it depends heavily on meats and cheeses. Production of cured pork products is an important part of the local food economy of Bologna Italy, such as, prosciutto, salami, and mortadella (which is similar to our bologna here in the US). It is a slow cooked meat sauce with vegetables and just a hint of tomatoes. Some recipes call for cream or milk to be added, but that is dependent on the taste of the individual. I prefer not to add the milk product, but the recipe below will show both ways.

Bolognese Sauce freezes well, so save yourself some time and double or triple the batch and freeze the rest for quick dinners on those slow days. You will want to serve your Bolognese Sauce over a hearty pasta like fettuccine or a ravioli, something that will be able to support the heavy sauce.

Bolognese Sauce

1/2 cup chopped pancetta
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 lb ground beef
2/3 cup finely shredded carrot
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 cup (give or take) red wine - any kind will do, pick one you like
1 can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup beef stock

1 pound pasta of choice
Grated Parmesan cheese for the top

1 cup milk, half 'n half or heavy cream, whatever is your preference
Note: You do not have to use the milk product if you do not want to. Traditional Bolognese Sauce does not call for it, but it is a nice addition.

In 3-qt saucepan, heat oil and butter on medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat has been rendered. In a separate pan, slowly cook the ground beef and salt and pepper to taste, until no longer pink. Drain any fat from the ground beef and add to the saucepan with the pancetta and the pancetta drippings. Add the chopped garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and onions and saute for 4 minutes. Add the red wine slowly, and using a wooden spoon, get to the bottom of the pan and scrape all the little bits of flavor back into the sauce. Add the can of chopped tomatoes and the tomato paste. Add some of the beef stock. You do not want it to be too soupy.

Simmer on low for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The longer and lower you simmer the sauce, the better it is. As it simmers, if it gets too thick, add a little beef stock. Note: If you make a double batch to freeze some, you want to freeze after this step. Thaw when ready and add the milk product if you are going to, when you reheat it.

If you are going to use any milk product in the recipe, add it now. Add a little at a time so you do not make the sauce too wet. Bring back up to heat and serve over pasta. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.