Weekend Fun

Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins

June 4, 2013

Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins 2Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins

Sour cream, fresh blueberries and a sprinkle of Demerara sugar on top, before baking, make these blueberry muffins delectable.  You may just end up having two with your morning coffee.


1/2 Cup Butter

3 Room Temperature Eggs

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

1 1/2 Cups Unbleached Flour

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 Cup Sugar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Pint Fresh Blueberries

5 Tablespoons Demerara Sugar (Optional)

Preheat your oven to 350º F. Allow the butter, eggs and sour cream to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile line two baking tins with muffin paper.  I like to use parchment muffin paper liners which are a bit larger than normal muffin paper liners.  If you use the larger ones then you will get larger muffins and will have fewer muffins.  Up to you.  In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt.  Set aside.  In a large size bowl beat the butter for 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.  Gradually add the flour mixture and the sour cream to the butter mixture.  Beat on low until all ingredients are combined.  Stir in the blueberries. Pour into the paper liners and sprinkle the tops with the Demerara sugar. Place into the oven.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.  Make sure to check at 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.  Remove from the muffin tins and serve.  Makes 10 to 12.



Italian Chocolate Cake

June 1, 2013

Italian Chocolate CakeItalian Chocolate Cake

The ricotta cheese really adds to this chocolate cake.  Plus the chocolate frosting has ricotta too!  Delicious!


2 Cups Sugar

1 3/4 Cups Unbleached Flour

3/4 Cup Cocoa

1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

3 Eggs

1 Cup Ricotta Cheese

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Boiling Water

Preheat your oven to 350º F.  Prepare a bundt pan (grease & flour) or use two 9 inch round cake pans.  In a large size bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt.  Add the eggs, ricotta, olive oil and vanilla.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Stir in the boiling water.  Don’t worry that the batter may look a bit thin.  Pour into the cake pan(s) and place into the oven.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Remember that all ovens heat differently so check at 30 minutes. If you are using a bundt pan then baking may take a bit longer.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove the cake from the pan(s) and cool completely before frosting.  Frost with Ricotta Chocolate Frosting.  Serves 10.

Ricotta Chocolate Frosting

1/2 Cup Softened Butter

2/3 Cup Cocoa

3 Cups Powdered Sugar

1/3 Cup Ricotta Cheese

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Soften the butter by leaving out on the counter for 30 minutes.  In a large size bowl add the butter.  Stir in the cocoa.  Add the powdered sugar, ricotta and vanilla.  Beat until creamy.  Makes about 2 cups.


Fiddlehead Ferns & New Potatoes

May 31, 2013

FiddleheadsFiddlehead Ferns & New Potatoes

Fiddlehead Ferns are the first tender shoots of the ostrich fern.  They usually come into season during April and May.  The ferns must be picked while their tops are still tightly furled and their season is very short.  Fiddleheads usually have a papery brown skin that protects their green coils.  Rub the brown skin away before rinsing them well.  Choose bright green and firm fiddleheads that shouldn’t be much larger than a quarter.  Trim the stems and then steam or boil them for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain them and serve warm or at room temperature.  Toss with melted butter and lemon. You could also serve them chilled dressed in a light vinaigrette.  Serving fiddleheads will win you big points for creativity.  They taste somewhat like a cross between string beans and asparagus.  They certainly will give a nice accent to a warm salad. You could serve this warm salad with poached salmon or over a bed of tender young greens for a beautiful springtime starter.


1 Pound Tiny New Potatoes

2 Cups Fiddlehead Ferns

1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard

12 Large Cornichon Pickles

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

1/2 Cup Chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

1 Chopped Hard-Boiled Egg

Scrub and slice the new potatoes in half.  Rinse the fiddleheads well and trim the stems.  In a large pot pour in 2 cups of water.  Set a large steamer basket inside the pot and fill with the potatoes and fiddlehead ferns.  Bring the water to a boil.  Reduce the heat and cover with a lid.  Steam for about 10 minutes.  You will want the potatoes to be fork tender and the ferns to be bright green and crisp tender.  Remove potatoes and fiddlehead from the steamer and place them in a large serving bowl.  Set aside.  In a blender or food processor combine the vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and mustard.  Add about 6 of the cornichons and blend to form a chunky puree.  Add the kosher salt and pepper and give a pulse.  Pour the vinegar mixture over the potatoes and fiddleheads.  Add the chopped parsley and give a good toss.  Thinly slice the remaining cornichons.  Add the chopped hard-boiled egg and the sliced cornichons to the top of the salad.  Serve either warm or at room temperature.  Serves 4

Orzo Salad

May 28, 2013

Whole Wheat OrzoOrzo Salad

Try this whole wheat pasta and spinach salad tossed with sun-dried tomatoes and garbanzo beans.  It’s satisfying enough to have as a light main course and, of course, perfect for serving alongside your grilled entrées.


1/2 Pound Whole Wheat Orzo

1/4 Pound Baby Spinach (About 4 Packed Cups)

4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

24 Pieces Sundried Tomatoes in Olive Oil (Chopped Plus 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil  From The Jar)

15 Ounces Cooked Garbanzo Beans (Rinsed & Drained)

Cook the orzo in a large size pot of salted boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes until al dente.   Drain and rinse in cold water and then drain again.  In a large bowl toss the orzo with the spinach, lemon juice, sundried tomatoes, olive oil and garbanzo beans.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or serve room temperature.  Serves 4

Grilled Sausage & Pepper Salad

May 27, 2013

SausagesGrilled Sausage & Pepper Salad

Forget the bun and have grilled Italian sausage, feta cheese and sweet, roasted peppers in a green salad that is ideal for summer weekend eating.  Serve with crusty bread.


4 Italian Sausages

1/2 White Onion Cut Into Thick Rings

1 Head Chopped Romaine Lettuce

4 Ounces Crumbled Feta Cheese

3 Whole Fire Roasted Red Peppers (Drained & Chopped)

Preheat your grill (or grill pan) to a medium high heat.  Grill the sausages and onions for 15 to 20 minutes.  You will want the sausages to be cooked through.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  When the sausages are cool enough to handle, slice them thickly on the bias and cut the onion into chunks.  In a large size serving bowl toss the romaine lettuce, feta cheese and red peppers.  Spoon the romaine mixture onto plates and top with the sausages and onions.  Serve with your favorite vinaigrette dressing or serve plain.  Serves 4

Delicious Grilled Steak

May 26, 2013

Marinated SteakDelicious Grilled Steak

Memorial Day is almost here.  Time to get your grill on!


1/2 Cup of Your Favorite Steak Sauce

1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

4 Cloves Minced Garlic

1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

2 Medium Size Rib Eye Steaks

In a medium size bowl mix together the steak sauce, balsamic dressing, garlic and oregano.  Place the steaks into a ziplock bag. Pour 3/4 cup of the mixture into the ziplock bag and all over the steaks.  Set aside 1/4 cup of the mixture.  Seal up the ziplock bag and place into the fridge for about an hour.  Preheat your grill to medium high.  Remove the steaks from the fridge and drain the marinade.  Throw away the marinade.  Place the steaks onto the hot grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium doneness. Less cooking time for rarer; more cooking time for well done.  Remove from the grill and place onto a serving platter.  Drizzle the steaks with the reserved 1/4 cup marinade mixture.  Serves 4


Lamb Chops & Beans With Chile Butter

May 24, 2013

Lamb ChopsLamb Chops & Beans With Chile Butter

All I can say is YUM!


8 Lamb Loin Chops (1 Inch Thick)

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

15 Ounces Cannellini Beans (Cooked, Rinsed & Drained)

1 Stalk Chopped Celery

2 Chopped Green Onions

Chile Butter

1 Tablespoon Lime Juice

Trim the fat off of the lamb chops.  Sprinkle the chops with the kosher salt and pepper.  For a charcoal grill, grill the chops on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals until desired doneness.  Turn once halfway through grilling.  Allow 12 to 14 minutes for medium rare and 15 to 17 minutes for medium.  For a gas grill, preheat the grill.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Place the chops on a grill rack over the heat.  Cover and grill as directed.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine the beans, celery, green onion and 2 tablespoons of the Chile Butter.  Cook over a medium heat until heated through.  Stir occasionally.  Stir in the lime juice.  To serve, top each lamb chop with a slice of Chile Butter and serve with the bean mixture.  Serves 4


Chile Butter

1/2 Cup Softened Butter

1/4 Cup Snipped Fresh Cilantro

2 Fresh Jalapeno Chile Peppers (Seeded & Finely Chopped)

1 Teaspoon Chili Powder

1 Clove Minced Garlic

In a small size bowl stir together all of the ingredients.  Place on waxed paper and form into a log.  Wrap well and chill for 1 hour or overnight.  Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 1 month.

Asparagus With Toasted Almonds

May 23, 2013

Asparagus 3Asparagus With Toasted Almonds

Barbeque season is officially here although I fire up the barbeque all year round.  While you’re thinking about all of those delicious main dishes that you’re going to make this weekend don’t forget the sides.  Here is a great side dish that even makes a nice light lunch.


1 Large Bunch Asparagus

1/2 Cup Toasted & Sliced Almonds

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Zest of 1 Lemon

1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Dill

1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

1/4 Cup Grated Pecorino Cheese

In a medium size sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over a low heat.  Stir in the almonds and cook for a couple of minutes.  You will want them to turn color, but not too dark or burnt.  Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to dry.  Snap off the woody bottoms of the asparagus.  Wash and dry the asparagus.  Cut the asparagus spears into thirds or leave whole.  Place the asparagus in a medium size bowl and coat with the rest of the olive oil.  Place the asparagus in a large size sauté pan over a medium high heat.  Cook for 4 to 6 minutes until the asparagus in a bit charred, but still firm.  Place the cooked asparagus back into the bowl and add the salt, toasted almonds, dill, parsley and lemon zest.  Combine well.  Finish off with grated pecorino cheese.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  Serves 4

Spinach & Strawberry Salad

May 22, 2013

Spinach & Strawberry SaladSpinach & Strawberry Salad

Don’t be afraid to mix fruit and greens.  This salad is absolutely refreshing and will go nicely with all of those wonderful things you’ll be cooking over the weekend.  This salad is also good to take along on a picnic because the spinach holds up rather well.


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1/4 Raspberry Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Honey

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

8 Cups Loosely Packed Flat-Leafed Spinach (About 2 Large Bunches)

2 Pints Rinsed, Hulled & Sliced Strawberries

1/3 Cup Thinly Slices Scallions (White & Green Parts)

1/2 Cup Walnuts (Optional)

Wash and dry the spinach.  You want to make sure that there is no grit left in the spinach.  In a medium size bowl whisk the vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper.  In a large size serving bowl gently toss the spinach, strawberries, scallions and dressing.  Serve immediately.  Serves 6

Make-It-Yours Burgers

May 21, 2013

HamburgerMake-It-Yours Burgers

Create all kinds of burgers, from the straightforward to the exotic and grill until your heart’s content.  If you don’t have a grill I’ve included oven instructions below.

Basic Ingredients (Serves 4)


Liquid (Optional)


1/3 to 1/2 Cup Stuffing (Optional)


Spread And/Or Toppers (Optional)


Meat (Choose One or Combine)

1 1/2 Pounds Ground Beef

1 1/2 Pounds Ground Pork

1 1/2 Pounds Ground Lamb

1 1/2 Pounds Ground Veal

1 Pound Ground Beef Plus 8 Ounces Ground Italian Sausage

1 1/2 Pounds Ground Salmon

1 1/2 Pounds Ground Turkey (Use a Liquid; Brush Turkey Burgers

Lightly With Vegetable Oil Before Grilling; Cook Turkey Burgers to 165º F)

1 1/2 Pounds Ground Chicken (Cook Same As Turkey)


Liquid (Choose One or Combine)

2 Tablespoons Apricot Preserves (Chop Large Pieces)

2 Tablespoons Barbecue Sauce

2 Tablespoons Chutney (Chop Large Pieces)

1 Lightly Beaten Egg

1 Lightly Beaten Egg White

2 Tablespoons Milk

2 Tablespoons Steak Sauce


Seasoning (Choose One or Combine)

1/2 Teaspoon Dried Basil

1 Teaspoon Chili Powder

2 Cloves Minced Garlic

2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Onion

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

1 Teaspoon Steak Seasoning

2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce


Stuffing (Choose One or Combine)

Cooked Crisp Crumbled Bacon

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Crumbled Blue Cheese

Shredded Provolone

Shredded Mozzarella

Shredded Smoked Cheddar

Shredded Cheddar

Shredded Monterey Jack

Cooked Sliced Fresh Mushrooms

Chopped Roasted Red Sweet Peppers


Bread (Choose One)

4 Split Kaiser Rolls

4 Split Onion Rolls

4 White Hamburger Buns

4 Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

2 White or Whole Wheat Pita Bread Rounds – Halved

4 Split Brioche Buns

4 Split Port Muffins

4 Split English Muffins


Spread (Choose One or Combine)



Yellow Mustard

Dijon Mustard

Basil Pesto

Barbecue Sauce

The Possibilities Are Endless!



Cheese Slices

Tomato Slices

Onion Slices

Caramelized Onions

Pickle Slices

Cooked Bacon

Roasted Peppers

Fresh Basil Leaves

Spinach Leaves

Lettuce Leaves


The Possibilities Are Endless!


Combine meat, liquid and seasoning in a large size bowl.  Mix well.  Shape the meat mixture into four 3/4 inch patties.  To stuff them, divide the mixture into eight portions and shape them into 1/4 inch thick patties.  Place the stuffing on the centers of the four patties.  Top with the remaining patties.  Pinch the edges to seal.

For a charcoal grill, grill the stuffed or unstuffed patties on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 14 to 18 minutes or until done (160º F to 165º F).  Turn only once halfway through grilling.  If you’re using a gas grill then preheat your grill.  Reduce the heat to medium and place the patties on the grill rack over the heat.  Cover and grill as directed.

Serve the burgers on bread with spread and toppers.  Makes 4 burgers.

If you don’t have a grill or would rather use your oven then broil your burgers.  Preheat your broiler and place the patties on the unheated rack of a broiler pan.  Broil for 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 12 to 14 minutes or until done (160º F to 165ºF).  Turn only once.

Latest Recipes

Roasted Cod Tacos

Roasted Cod Tacos

Black Eyed Pea Salad

Black Eyed Pea Salad

Eggnog Lattes

Eggnog Lattes

Christmas Wreath Pavlova

Christmas Wreath Pavlova

Spicy Mussels

Spicy Mussels