January 5, 2013


Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture of herbs, sesame seeds, sumac and salt.  It is a spice blend that dates back to the 13th century.  Za’atar is used many ways, but most frequently used as a table condiment.  Dip warm flatbread into some olive oil and then dip into the Za’atar.  Trust me it’s delicious.  Za’atar also makes a great dry rub for both meats and vegetables.  Sumac is a bit difficult to find.  Go to a specialty spice store like, Kalustyans, or order online from Amazon.


1/4 Cup Sumac

2 Tablespoons Thyme

2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Seeds

2 Tablespoons Marjoram

2 Tablespoons Oregano

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

In a dry sauté pan, toast the sesame seeds on a high heat for two minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  In a small size bowl combine the sumac, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano and kosher salt.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week.  Makes approximately 1/2 cup.

Bourbon Blizzard

December 31, 2012

Bourbon Blizzard

Let’s be honest, New Year’s Eve is the drinking holiday for many party goers around the world. Whiskey isn’t just a man’s drink anymore and with the comeback of traditional cocktails you just may want to try your hand at the Bourbon Blizzard.  Remember to drink responsibly. 


3 Ounces Bourbon

1 Ounce Cranberry Juice

2/3 Ounce Lemon Juice

1 Ounce Simple Syrup

Lemon Twist


Place ice into a cocktail shaker.  Pour the bourbon, cranberry juice, lemon juice and simple syrup into the shaker.  Secure the lid and shake well.  Strain the liquid into a cocktail or martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.  Makes 1 Bourbon Blizzard.

Pineapple Guacamole

December 29, 2012

Pineapple Guacamole

If you’re having a New Year’s Eve party or needing to bring a dish to a party here is a great dip to bring.  It’s easy to make and the pineapple dresses up a basic guacamole.  It’s best to use fresh pineapple for this dip.


3 Diced Avocados

1 Cup Diced Pineapple

1/2 Cup Diced Onion

1/4 Cup Fresh Lime Juice

1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro

2 Minced Jalapeno Peppers

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

Chop and dice all of the ingredients that need chopping and dicing.  Set aside.  In a large size bowl mash the avocados with a potato masher.  You will want the avocados to be somewhat chunky.  Add the salt, pepper, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, onions and pineapple.  Stir until just combined.  Serve immediately.  Serves 10

Grilled Bruschetta

December 12, 2012

Grilled Bruschetta

Holiday entertaining is fun, but can be a lot of work.  My Grilled Bruschetta is easy to make and looks beautiful arranged on an appetizer plate.  They make a nice little lunch as well. 


12 Thick Slices Crusty Italian Bread

6 Large Halved Garlic Cloves

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

2 Chopped Tomatoes

1/2 Cup Chopped Basil

12 Teaspoon Kosher Salt


Preheat your oven to broil.  Place the bread pieces on a grill pan and place in the oven for 2 minutes per side.  Remove from the oven and rub each side with the garlic.  Drizzle the olive oil over each piece of bread.  Place the chopped tomatoes on top of each piece of bread and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Place back under the broiler for 45 seconds.  Remove from the oven and arrange on a serving platter.  Garnish with chopped basil and serve.  Makes 12


Christmas Punch

December 6, 2012

Christmas Punch

Everyone needs a good Christmas Punch to serve to guests.


8 Cups Cranberry Juice

2 Cups Orange Juice

3 Cups Ginger Ale

Ice Cubes

In a pitcher combine the cranberry and orange juices.  Just before serving stir in the ginger ale.  Serve over ice.  Feel free to add orange slices if you like.  Serves 12


Hearty Vegetable Soup

December 3, 2012

Hearty Vegetable Soup

With so much heavy holiday food this time of year it’s good to take a nice little soup break.  Here is a Hearty Vegetable Soup that goes well with a nice loaf of crusty bread.


4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

3 Diced Carrots

1 Large Diced Onion

5 Cloves Minced Garlic

2 Cups Cubed Butternut Squash

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

4 Cups Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth

15  Ounces Diced Tomatoes

1/4 Teaspoon Ground Thyme

2 Cups Chopped Kale

15 Ounces  Cooked Chickpeas

In a large soup pot add the olive oil and turn the heat to medium high.  Add the carrots, garlic, onions and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the butternut squash cubes, kosher salt, pepper and sauté for 2 more minutes.  Add the vegetable broth or chicken broth and stir.  Add the diced tomatoes and ground thyme.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir in the chopped kale and cooked chickpeas.  Cook for another 30 minutes.  Transfer to bowls and serve with crusty bread.  Serves 4

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

November 30, 2012

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

I had a ton of vegetables in my fridge that were close to expiring so I decided to make Shepherd's Pie vegetarian style! To make this a vegan dish swap out the butter for a non-dairy butter.


3 Diced Parsnips

1 Chopped Onion

2 Cups Mixed Vegetables (Chopped Carrots, Corn & Peas)

2 Pounds Potatoes

1 Stick Salted Butter

1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth

1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

Peel and quarter potatoes.  Boil in water until tender.  While the potatoes are cooking, melt 1/2 stick of butter in a large frying pan.  Sauté the onions in butter until tender over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time.  Put the parsnips and carrots in with the onions.  Add corn or peas at the end of the cooking of the onions.  Add salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.  Add half a cup of the vegetable broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add more vegetable broth as necessary to keep moist.  Mash potatoes in a bowl with remainder of the butter.  Season with the salt and pepper.  Place the vegetables and onions in baking dish.  Distribute mashed potatoes on top.  Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely.  Cook in a preheated 400° F oven about 30 minutes or until bubbling and brown.  Broil for last new minutes if necessary to brown.  Serves 4

Mushroom Gravy

November 22, 2012

Mushroom Gravy

Not everyone is a meat eater.  Here is a delicious vegan gravy recipe that is wonderful over whole grains or mashed potatoes.  Feel free to swap out the whole wheat flour for spelt flour.


3 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth – Divided

1 Cup Chopped White Onion

5 Chopped Garlic Cloves

8 Ounces Trimmed & Chopped Wild Mushrooms

2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Thyme

1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Fresh Rosemary

1/4 Cup Red Wine

2 Tablespoons Tamari

2 Tablespoons Whole Wheat Flour

1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

In a large skillet over a medium high heat bring 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth to a simmer.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms, rosemary and thyme.  Cook for 3 minutes.  You will want the mushrooms to become tender.  Add the red wine and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir constantly.  Stir in the remaining vegetable broth and cook for 7 minutes over a medium heat.  In a small size bowl whisk together the tamari and flour to create a thick paste.  Add the mixture to the skillet 1 teaspoon at a time.  Whisk constantly to make sure the paste is completely dissolved.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Stir constantly.  Add the kosher salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat and serve.  Makes 3 1/2 cups


Victoria’s Solutions For Special Diets

November 22, 2012

Victoria's Solutions For Special Diets

EVERYONE deserves a special holiday so it is important to be prepared for friends and family who may have dietary preferences or restrictions. We all know that food allergies are no joke. Here are some tips for special diets.

When you shop read the labels for dairy free, gluten free, etc.

When making mashed potatoes or creamy soups for dairy free guests or vegan make sure to replace milk or cream with unsweetened almond milk, ricemilk or soymilk. 

When baking and sautéing replace butter with olive oil, non-hydrogenated butter spread or margarine or coconut oil. 

When making gravy choose gluten free cornstarch or arrowroot instead of flour.  For vegan guests use vegetable broth, sautéed onions and mushrooms. 

When making stuffing use gluten free cornbread or sandwich bread.  For vegetarian guests swamp vegetable broth for chicken broth. 

When making salads and desserts use toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds instead of nuts. 

When making desserts and dips use tofu instead of milk, cream cheese or sour cream. 

When serving dinner make sure to label each prepared dish for special diets or which ones contain ingredients that should be avoided. 

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