Monthly Archives: December 2013

Winter Caprese Salad

Winter Capresse Salad

I am a tomato fanatic.  I stalk the farms in the summer just waiting for the first round of local fresh tomatoes and once they arrive, I eat them every day, sometimes at every meal.  There is nothing so wonderful as a warm tomato with a little salt on it……..heaven.  Once September ends and the only tomatoes I can get are at the grocery store, it’s a little depressing.  Even if they are ripe and red they don’t taste anywhere near like the summer tomatoes.

This salad has you roast the tomatoes slowly and the roasting process makes those ho hum store bought winter tomatoes taste….wait for it………Good!  They may not rank with the summer ones, but they are close.  This is a great starter or side dish for a comforting winter meal. Continue reading Winter Caprese Salad

Chicken Stew with Tomatoes & White Beans

chicken stew Yesterday I was feeling the effects of 5 days in a row of eating rich food that I don’t normally eat and really wanted to make something healthy and comforting for dinner.  We had friends coming over too and it was just going to be casual, so something make ahead was needed to.  I turned to this delicous Chicken Stew with Tomatoes and White beans.  It is comforting and served with a salad makes a light meal.  You could make it even lighter by skipping the bacon, but the bacon has only 30 calories a slice cooked, so I think it is worth it.  :) Continue reading Chicken Stew with Tomatoes & White Beans

Chile Rellenos

Chile RellenosI love Chile Rellenos but I must say the deep fried meat stuffed ones you get at most Mexican restaurants is just too much.  Too rich and heavy.  I created this one with cheese instead of meat and I bake it with panko instead of frying it.  The sauce is a little spicy and smooth and the end result is a great appetizer or light dinner if you added a salad on the side.  The sauce freezes great, so feel free to make a double batch, put it in a labeled zip lock bag and freeze for another time.  The sauce would be great on grilled chicken or fish too :) Continue reading Chile Rellenos

Balsamic Vinaigrette


Balsamic Vinaigrette
Recipe type: Salad Dressing
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • ¾ Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • ½ Cup Cider Vinegar
  • ¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tsp Honey
  • 1 Tsp Chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped shallot
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. In a mason jar, add the mustard, vinegars, honey, garlic & shallots and shake well.
  2. Add the olive oil, season with salt & pepper, shake well until dressing is all mixed.
  3. Can be stored in the refrigerator up to one month.

Posole (Mexican Pork Stew)

Posole 2

Have I told you how much I adore soups and stews?  Well, I do.  There is something so warm and welcoming about a hearty bowl of homemade soup.  Homemade soup is healthy and inexpensive to make.  Whenever I make a batch, I always double it and freeze the leftovers in individual containers to have on hand for a healthy delicious lunch.  If you are going to double this recipe, make sure you make it in 2 different pots.  I really found making this that if you double in a large pot, the flavors are never as intense as when you make a single batch in one pot.

If you like spice, add more chiles!  I will usually add 3 or so and then an hour into the cooking add a little more if it’s not too spicy. Continue reading Posole (Mexican Pork Stew)

Butternut Squash Risotto with Roasted Chicken

Butternut Squash Risotto I love Risotto and I love Roasted Butternut Squash, so of course I love Butternut Squash Risotto!  I have seen recipes where they just add the roasted butternut chunks to the risotto, but that doesn’t give you the great butternut flavor in every bite, so I decided to puree the butternut.  Perfect!  You need to be a little patient making risotto.  You can cheat a little and throw a couple ladles in at a time to give you a few minutes between stirring but this is a dish you need to be standing by on.  Get your family  to help stir!  Continue reading Butternut Squash Risotto with Roasted Chicken

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Spicy, gooey, cheesy, yummy.  There is nothing like a good hot dip and a big bowl of chips.  I made these lighter by using the light cream cheese!  LOL, ok so this is not a recipe you make on January 2nd, when you are wanting to eat lean mean and clean.  This a football party, comfort food loving snack.  Just go for a run before and you won’t feel so bad! Continue reading Buffalo Chicken Dip

Make Ahead Christmas Menu

christmas tree

For me, Christmas is about creating traditions that the whole family looks forward to and enjoys.  You know you have done a good job when your children get older and know exactly what we are going to eat, what movies we are going to watch, exactly what we are going to do, because that is our family tradition.  Kaileen is on her own now in her own apartment, but she has been talking about Christmas Eve (watching Christmas Vacation and eating appetizers and snacks all night in the great room) and Christmas Day (starting with Cinnamon rolls and a breakfast bake casserole, then onto the main event) since August :).


I have made this same menu with a tweak here and there for about 10 years.  For a long time, I made a standing rib roast which is delicious and amazing, but last year I switched to a Beef Tenderloin (I am doing that again this year).  The sauce stays the same, but the cut of beef may change.  What I love about this menu is that it is very special occasion but it can ALL be made ahead.  So, on Christmas Day I can enjoy my family, relax, even have time to go for a run because the food is all ready to go!  Score!


To start, I make a roast beef.  The cut is up to you.  Just make sure you dry age it in your refrigerator for one or two days before and bring it to room temperature before you roast it.  If you do these two things, you will have an amazing Roast.  Now, you can serve the roast however you want, but I have to have the Roast Beef with Red Wine Reduction Sauce.


For the best potato side ever, I make Twice Baked potatoes.  I like these for a few reasons:  (1) They have bacon, carmelized onions and cheese.  Do I have to say more?  (2) They can be made ahead and (3) you really can’t over cook them.  One thing I have learned over the years is that no matter when you think your Roast will be done, you are wrong.  There always seems to be a bit of a window.  This way you put the potatoes in the oven with the foil on and they can just stay warm for a long time, so you will have your side ready when your roast decides it is ready.

Twice Baked Potato

For the Veg, I make Spinach Bacon Salad.  The fresh taste of the spinach salad goes well with the rich Beef and potatoes and you can make it all ahead of time!

spinach salad egg

For Dessert, Chocolate Pots De Creme.  I will usually also put out a tray of cookies and sweets that I have made.  The Chocolate Pots De Creme are definitely Christmas worthy, easy to make and can be made ahead of time.  Starting to see the theme here?

Chocolate pot de creme