Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Getting Ready for Grilling

Greetings! I have been so busy with baby but promise to post more frequently. In anticipation for warmer weather (its coming, right??), I have been making double or triple batches of my favorite marinade. I portion out the marinade in zippered freezer storage bags. Then I add the meat of our choice to the bags in serving sizes we like. So in a bag I may have two chicken breasts and 1/2 cup of marinade. The bag then goes into the freezer. When we are ready to grill, we remove a bag. The meat will marinate as it defrosts (remember to use safe defrost techniques).

Right now in the freezer, we have jerk chicken breasts, jerk pork tenderloin and lime chicken with black bean sauce in the freezer. Next will be doing Thai marinated chicken.

This is one of my favorite time savings tips. Especially when I'm already making a marinade. It only takes a few extra minutes to make a larger batch and portion if out.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

2010 Predictions

What will 2010 bring for hot new trendy foods? According to an article in MediaPost, the following will be hot next year:


Sweet Potatoes



Rose water

Latin herbs and spices, like cilantro

Cardamom is a great spice that I use often when making rice. These fibrous pods are cracked open and added to soups, stews and other dishes. Make sure to remove the pods when finished cooking as they are inedible.

Rose water has long been a favorite of mine. I love to drizzle it over desserts, like chocolate cake or vanilla ice cream. You can find it at most middle eastern markets.

I was not familiar with capuaçu [pronounced coo-poo-ah-sue]. After a bit of research, I found it is the next big super fruit (think açai berry and mangosteen of the past). This tropical fruit grows wild in Brazil and is related to cacao (the bean that we get chocolate from). The capuaçu has a chocolaty taste similar to its cousin and is sweeter than the açai berry. Locally in Brazil, it is used in desserts. Drinks, jams and jellies are also made from the pulp. It is full of antioxidants and phytonutrients.
I look forward to seeing what new unique ways all of these ingredients will be use.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

In Her Shoes

Today I was honored and privileged to be a guest on In Her Shoes. This radio program airs Sundays at 1pm on 1240 AM.
Shelley Mielock and Tiffany Dowling host the show, “getting straight to the point on platforms that matter to women.” They asked me to give some tips for entertaining during the holidays. I have never had the opportunity to appear on a radio or television program so it was an exciting new event for me.

Just a few of the tips from the show:
When you are entertaining and short on time, think about using premade deli or restaurant items and serving in your own bowl or platter. Garnish with fresh herbs or edible flowers (available with herbs in several markets).

Another fun option is to make fruit skewers with a few of your favorite in-season fruits and serve with one of the following dips:

Cream Cheese Dip
8 ounces plain cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar or 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine until smooth. Serve at room temperature.

Maple Dip
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamonPinch of ground cloves

Combine thoroughly and serve warmed.

Orange-Ginger Dip
1/2 cup of orange juice, if using fresh orange zest first
1 Tablespoon of lime juice, if using fresh lime zest first
8 ounces plain Greek yogurt (like because strained, if using regular, allow to strain through cheese cloth or coffee filter)
1/2 - 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger, to taste

Combine the orange juice, lime juice and zest from both fruit (if using) in a small skillet and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 Tablespoons. Allow to cool.

Add reduce juice and ginger to yogurt. Serve at room temperature.

To listen to the program in its entirety, go to In Her Shoes and listen to the November 8 broadcast. The show airs live from the studio next to Grand Traverse Chocolate and Coffee Company in the Stadium District.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Goddess Retreat

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a half day fall goddess retreat with massage therapist, Shannon Branstner. Shannon had originally approached me in the spring, asking if I would help with a cooking demonstration for her long time dream. Over the months it evolved to co-hosting with her. The goal of the retreat was to allow women a chance to take off their many hats (moms, wives, daughter, sister and work/professional) and relax, rejuvenate and learn. Shannon's dream was to help women ease into the hibernation season of fall and winter.

Having never attended a retreat, I wasn't sure what to expect. But in doing some research and talking with others, I realized what a gift a retreat can be to us women. We couldn't have asked for a better day. The sun was shining and our hearts were light. We started the day learning about each other. Even though I knew several of the women, I learned new things about them.

Shannon then led the group in an introduction of Ayurvedic Medicine. We answered some questions to learn our dominant doshsa. We learned about the different doshas: vata, pitta and kapha; how they influence our bodies; and how our choices influence our bodies.

During the discussion we snacked on some fresh Michigan cheese (of course I have to talk about the food!). We had Reny Picot's Camembert Fermier (from Benton Harbor) and Grassfield's Organic Raw Milk Gouda. This was served with organic grapes and organic red and bosc pears. We accompanied these with Almond and Pecan Blue Diamond Nut Thin Crackers.

Bonnie Schnautz, Wellness Coach from B-Renewed, lead us in a discussion of essential oils. These oils were used to make the salt scrubs and bath salts. She discussed lavender, lemon, lemongrass, peppermint, eucalyptus, orange (my favorite), grapefruit and rosewood.

She gave us the benefits and several uses for each of these. It is amazing how much these natural ingredients can do for our health.

By learning about each oil, its benefits and how fabulous it smells, it gave all the participants a better idea on how to make their bath salt or salt scrub.

From here some decided to ride the zip line while others began making their scrubs. We had four daring riders on the zip line.

After riding the zip line and making their scrubs everyone went to the kitchen to make dinner.

The menu: Salad with Green Goddess Dressing, Lentil and Winter Vegetable Soup with Parmesan Crostini and Spiced Raisin and Apple Crisp.

We broke into small teams and made each piece of the dinner. The green goddess dressing was a blend of Greek yogurt, garlic, fresh herbs, baby spinach and lemon juice.

The Lentil Soup consisted of sautéed leeks and garlic, with diced tomatoes, sweet potatoes, kale, lentils and fresh herbs.

The soup was topped with Parmesan crostinis which consisted of a French baguette sliced, brushed with oil and sprinkled with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Dessert was a blend of fresh apples, raisins and spices topped with a traditional crisp topping of butter, sugar and flour.

After dinner, we tasted three Riesling wines: a dry from Germany, a semi-dry from Michigan and a sweet from Michigan.

The evening ended with reading some additional meditations and discussing what we were thankful for.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Celebrate Sun Dried Tomatoes

October is Celebrate Sun Dried Tomato month. These little gems have a sweet and sometimes tart concentrated tomato flavor. They are easy to make at home and great to have around to add flavor to salads, sauces or cheese plates.

When drying tomatoes, it is best to use Roma tomatoes but any variety works. Romas tend to be meatier having more flesh with less seeds and juice. Cherry tomatoes are also a great choice as their already sweet flavor concentrates nicely.

Whatever type of tomato you use, make sure you wash it well before you start and discard any with blemishes. Slice them in half lengthwise and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Two optional choices are to sprinkle with a bit of sugar to enhance their sweetness or sprinkle them with dried herbs if you would like a flavored dried tomato. Just remember whatever you add to the tomatoes will be concentrated as it dries, so use a light hand. Place the seasoned sliced tomatoes, cut side up, on a clean drying screen. If your screen does not come with a top screen, you can cover the screen with cheese cloth to keep the bugs away from your treasures. Make sure the cheese cloth or top screen do not touch the tomatoes.

Place your screen in the sun. Depending on the size of your tomatoes and the temperature it can take several days to two weeks to dry your tomatoes. Make sure to bring inside evenings to keep the morning dew from negating any of your hard work.

Tomatoes can also be dried in the oven. I'm not very patient so oven drying is my preferred method. Prepare the tomatoes the same way as you would to dry in the sun, however place on a baking sheet instead of a screen. Make sure to place cut side up and leave a bit of room between each tomato. Place in a preheated 250F oven for 2 to 6 hours (depending on their thickness). Adding some parchment paper to the baking sheet (or a Silpat pad) will help with clean-up.

Whichever your drying method, you want the tomatoes to be dry with the edges shriveled . The tomato will shrink to about three-quarters to half of its size.

The tomatoes can be stored in an airtight container for a few days in the refrigerator or a few weeks in the freezer. They can also be covered with oil (flavored or not) and stored in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Your dried tomatoes can be used:

In a Mediterranean style salad with greens, artichokes, cucumbers, feta and red onion, drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Tossed with pasta and olive oil (or the oil the tomatoes were stored in), fresh garlic, salt, pepper and chopped fresh basil, oregano or marjoram.

Or made into pesto by combining in the food processor with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, a splash of balsamic vinegar. Drizzle in some olive oil, toss with pasta and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese.

The pesto can also be spread on lightly toasted bagette slices for a delicious bruschetta. Mix a bit of goat cheese as well for a real sublime treat.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

September is National Honey Month

Honey can come from several species of bees, but the honey bee is best known to produce honey. In its lifetime, a single honey bee will produce only about one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey. It takes about 550 bees to visit 2 million flowers to produce one pound of honey.

These hard working insects have been around for 30 million years with evidence of humans collecting their honey for at least 10,000 years. Archeologists have found cave paintings depicting women collecting honey and honeycomb from hives. Honey has also long been referenced in religion and is evident in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.

Bees use the nectar they collect from flowers to produce honey. They collect the nectar by sucking the nectar from flowers with their straw-like tongues and storing it in one of their two stomachs. They have a regular stomach to digest food and a second stomach to store nectar. They can carry double their body weight with stored nectar. The collected nectar is taken to the hive where worker bees mix the honey with enzymes to break down the complex sugars making it easier to use later and more bacteria resistant. The nectar is then spread throughout the honeycomb, where the water is evaporated from the nectar turning it into gooey honey. This honey is used as a food source during the cold months for the bees. In one year, an average honeybee colony will eat between 120 and 200 pounds of the honey they produce. Beekeepers encourage overproduction of honey by the bees so to not endanger the hive.

Honey produced by honeybees must be 100% pure with no additional additives. Honey produced by other types of bees does not follow this same strict guideline. Honey is usually classified by the flowers in which the nectar is collected. Honey classifications include: Blended meaning coming from more than one type of plant; Polyfloral or wild flower honey comes from varies types of flowers; Monofloral comes primarily from one type of flower. Raw honey is completely unprocessed. Pasteurized honey has been processed to prevent crystallization over time.

If your honey develops crystals, the honey is still good. Gently warm it in the microwave or in a pan of warm water until the crystals dissolve.

Besides used as a sweetener, honey has also been used to embalm bodies, as a form of currency and as a gift to Gods. It has also been used for medicinal purposes like as a sore throat remedy. It is also used topically for its antibacterial and antiseptic qualities. By consuming locally produced honey, it may help combat seasonal allergies.

Honey can be added to coffee or tea to sweeten instead of using sugar. It can be drizzled over fresh fruit or added to your favorite vinaigrette in salads. To makes a great additional to barbeque sauce and helps caramelize the outside of the meat when cooking. It can be mixed with butter and spread over warm biscuits or toast.

Infants under one year of age should not eat honey because of the risk of botulism from their underdeveloped digestive systems.

For additional information, visit these sites:



Monday, August 24, 2009

Five-Star Dinner

This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary. We treated ourselves to a night out at The 1913 Room at the Amway Grand Hotel. This five star rated restaurant boasts "classic cuisine with a French influence."

It was an amazing dinner and I wanted to share it with my faithful readers.

The dinner started with an amuse bouche of Chilled Heirloom Tomato Soup with Fresh Herbs, Smoked Whitefish with Freeze-Dried Corn and a Herb Terrine with Basil Oil.

Our hors d'oeuvre was the special: Duck Prosciutto with a Cantaloupe Chutney; Foie Gras with Crostini and Marinated Cherry; and Chicken and Duck Galantine with Blueberry Gastrique.

We both chose the same salad: Heirloom Tomatoes and Wild Arugula with English Cucumber DancingGoat Creamery Local Chèvre and Maui Onion Vinaigrette.

This was followed by an Earl Grey Sorbet intermezzo.

For dinner, I had the special: Crusted Lake Trout with Roasted Heirloom Tomato-Relish and Steamed Spinach with a Heirloom Tomato-Chardonnay Sauce.

My husband chose lamb, his favorite: Roasted Rack of Colorado Lamb, Sweet Potato Pavé, Broccolini and Foie Gras Emulsion

For dessert (I can't believe we had room), I went chocolate and my husband went creamy: Milky Way Chocolate Tower with Baci Mousse, a Trio of Sauces and Amarula Liqueur; and Tres Léches – a White Cake soaked with three types of Cream served with Mango and Pineapple, Cajeta Caramel and a Caramelized White Chocolate Passion Sauce.