IMG_6234One of the many fun things about working for ACH Food Companies was being able to “play” in the research & development kitchen.  I just love “inventorizing” recipes for different occasions.  I created this recipe just for my boss at the time, Fulya Eren, and used it not only as a dip but also as a pizza sauce.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can also use a blender.

1 15 ounce can garbanzo or cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
½ lemon, freshly squeezed, or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 7 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. lemon pepper
½ tsp. ground cumin
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


Place all ingredients in bowl of a food processor, blend until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. Serve with crackers, chips or with fresh vegetables.


One of my favorite appetizers is  Caprese Salad Skewers.  These delightful little gems are so easy to make and so yummy to eat.

1 large container of Marinated Cilegine Salad, or Cilegine Mozzarella
1 large container of Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Glaze (can be purchased in grocery store)

Skewer with one mozzarella ball and one cherry tomato. Repeat with remaining cheese and tomatoes. Place skewers on a serving platter, drizzle with balsamic glaze, chopped fresh basil, salt & pepper.

Bon Appetito!


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus & Caprese Skewers

New Haven pizza is characterized by local water, rigorously selected ingredients, judicious combination of those ingredients, and a disciplined assembly and baking method. New Haven pizza, often spelled Apizza, pronounced “ah-beetz” or just commonly referred to as a “pie”, is thin crust pizza baked very quickly (approx 10 minutes) in high temperature brick ovens that…

via Just exactly what is New Haven-style Pizza??? — Gail’s Pizza Parties

Just exactly what is New Haven-style Pizza??? — Gail’s Pizza Parties

“Eat More Chicken”… who doesn’t these days????  This recipe is not only quick and easy to make but moist and delicious.  Prepare some rice (Near East Rice Pilaf is our favorite), a salad or veggie and you have a healthy meal in under 60 minutes.

First you will want to “pound your chicken” out, to about ½” thickness.  There are several ways to do this, some people like to use a plastic zip lock bag, my preferred method is to place the chicken on a cutting board, put a piece of parchment paper (or plastic wrap) over the chicken and then use a meat mallet to pound the chicken.  Don’t have a meat mallet?  No problem, the back of a small sauce pan works just as good.

Then you will need three bowls, dry (flour), wet (egg mixture), and dry (breadcrumb cheese mixture).  This is known as 3-piece breading.img_5819

After you have breaded the chicken, place on a plate and refrigerator 30 minutes.img_5822

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Add butter to a baking pan, place in preheated oven until butter is melted.img_5825

Remove pan from oven and add the prepared chicken breasts.

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Bake according the recipe directions turning the chicken half way through the cooking time.img_5827

Place chicken on a clean cutting board, let rest 5 minutes covered, slice thinly and serve.  If you would like a little sauce on this, while the chicken is resting, scrap the pan drippings into a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat.   Add ¼ cup white wine or chicken stock and bring to a boil, spoon over sliced chicken.  img_5828

Oven Baked Cheddar Chicken
Prep time: 15 minutes
Rest time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 20-25 minutes
Serves 3-4

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon garlic pepper
1 egg
1 tablespoon Franks Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce, optional
1 tablespoon milk
¼ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup sharp shredded Cheddar cheese
Pound chicken breasts to a ½” thickness (

In a bowl, mix flour, garlic salt, and garlic pepper. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, hot sauce (optional), and milk. In a third bowl, mix the bread crumbs, pankos, and cheddar cheese. Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture, dip in the egg mixture, then press into the breadcrumb mixture. Place prepared chicken on a large plate. Continue with remaining breasts. Cover chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerator 30 minutes (this prevents coating from falling off).

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a baking dish with ¼ cup butter. Place dish in the preheated oven until butter is melted. Remove from oven and add prepared chicken breasts into the dish. Bake 15 minutes, remove from oven and flip chicken pieces over. Place back into the oven and bake until chicken temperature reaches 160°F, about another 15-20 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Buon Appetito!

Easy Baked Cheddar Chicken

Did I ever say “I love my job”?  Heck yes!  Honestly, it’s the best job anyone who loves to cook could ever have…..Part of my job (along with my team) is formulating baking mixes for the home cook.  Our latest project to hit the grocery shelves is Fleishmann’s® Simply Homemade® Muffin & Bread Mixes:
img_5044These amazingly yummy mixes arrived at your favorite grocery store in July.  If you haven’t tried them yet, by all means, add the mixes to your grocery shopping list (especially the Double Chocolate).

In addition to creating mixes my job also entails creating recipes to go along with the newly “inventorized” mixes.  Okay, so this might really be my favorite part, I get to use my imagination and “think outside the box” (ha,ha) when it comes to inventing recipes.

I usually investigate what the “cooking/baking” trend is before I work on this part so that my recipes will be aligned with what’s cookin!  The hottest thing right now in cakes are “crepe cakes”.  These are so extremely yummy and not as filling and sweet as cakes are.  Also, best made a day in advance, but not necessary.

Below is my recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Crepe cake, I added a little blueberry sauce for color and another flavor profile.  The basic crepe cake and filling recipe can be used for any of the muffin & bread mixes, pictures below:

If you have never made crepes before, you really need to try this, it is very easy (heck, even my non-cooking boss has made these).  The only drawback is time, takes about 30 minutes to actually make the crepes.  For the Triple Chocolate Crepe Cake, I used white chocolate pudding & pie filling, for banana, banana flavored pudding & pie filling, you can change these up and make up your own recipe, how about Double Chocolate Crepe Cake with pistachio pudding & pie filling????  You are only limited by your own imagination!

Lemon Poppy Seed Blueberry Crepe Cake

Yields: 20-24 8 or 9-inch crepes, enough for one cake
Prep time: 10 minutes
Rest time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

1 package Fleishmann’s® Simply Homemade® Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin & Bread Mix
1 ½ cup milk
4 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1-2 tablespoons butter, for cooking crepes

Lemon Cream Filling:
1 3.4 ounce Instant Lemon Pudding & Pie Filling
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Blueberry Sauce:
2/3 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
In a blender or bowl of a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for crepes and pulse for 10-20 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.
Lightly butter an 8 or 9-inch skillet over medium heat. Using a one-ounce ladle (or 2 tablespoons) pour batter into prepared pan, rotating pan until batter covers bottom. When the crepe has browned slightly on the bottom, carefully work a rubber spatula underneath it and flip. Cook the second side briefly, just to set the batter. Place cooked crepe on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining batter.

Combine pudding mix, heavy cream and milk into a large bowl, using a hand mixer whip until creamy. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.

In a small pan combine all blueberry sauce ingredients and heat over medium heat until slightly thick. Remove from heat until needed.

To make the topping, place the sugar into the mixing bowl and add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

To assemble the cake, layer 2 crepes with 2-3 tablespoons of filling, spreading across surface of crepe to within 1 inch of edge. Drizzle blueberry sauce over cream. Repeat until all crepes have been used. Top with piped whipped cream, fresh blueberries and lemon peel (if desired).



Lemon Poppy Seed/Blueberry Crepe Cake

It’s that time of the year again, time to attack all that great basil and tomatoes from your vegetable garden (or your favorite vegetable stand).  Below are two of my favorites.  The 1st is what I call “Pesto Butter”.  This little bundle of deliciousness goes with so many great dishes, sauces, breads, etc.  You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to this butter…..the other is my oven roasted tomato sauce.  My friend Amy always provides me a nice sample of tomatoes from her very large garden.  Usually I have already “canned” my tomatoes, so I have found that the oven roasting is perfect, delicious and ohhhh so easy!

Pesto Butter:

1-2 cups fresh basil removed from stems
3-4 cloves garlic
2-3 stick of butter (no margarine ever!), softened

Place your basil in a salad spinner, run under cold water and spin to dry.IMG_5501  In the bowl of a food process add 3-4 (more or less if desired) cloves garlic.  IMG_5502

Process until garlic is chopped.    IMG_5503Add basil leaves and continue to process until basil is chopped.  Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, add softened butter (2 sticks) and continue to process until smooth.  IMG_5504If the color is too green, add another stick of butter and repeat.  IMG_5506Using a small scoop, scoop pesto butter onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (easy clean up).  IMG_5508

Place pan of pesto butter into the freezer.  Come back an hour later (or more), remove frozen butter and place into a zip lock bag.  Return butter to your freezer and use as desired…..will freeze for 12 months.

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

5-8 lbs fresh tomatoes, quartered, cored and seeded
2-3 teaspoons salt
1-2 teaspoons black pepper
¼-½ teaspoons chipotle peppers (optional)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh herbs, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil (or 1 teaspoon of each dried)
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced

Preheat oven to 225°F.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, toss gently to coat.  Place tomatoes in a 9×13″ baking dish.  Roast 2 hours or until tomatoes are slightly browned and soft.

Ingredients in Oven RoastedIngredients in Oven Roasted

Cool tomato sauce, place in a zip lock bag and freeze for future use.  Use for spaghetti, over fish, pizza, bruschetta…..YUM!!!!

Buon Appetito!!!!!

Pesto Butter, Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

Here are some of my favorite summertime side dishes, sure to please all of your family and friends!  Enjoy!!!

IMG_5277Asian Slaw

1 (12 ounce) package coleslaw mix (preferably an Asian blend)
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Ground Ginger
½-1 teaspoon wasabi powder
¼ teaspoon Spice Islands® Garlic Powder
¼ cup Mazola® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Spice Islands® Sesame Seeds, lightly toasted*

Empty slaw mixture into a medium size mixing bowl and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl combine honey, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, wasabi powder and garlic power. Whisk until well blended. Slowly pour in oil, whisking continuously to emulsify dressing. Add sesame seeds and pour over greens. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight, if possible.

*To toast sesame seeds, place in a dry non-stick skillet over medium heat and toss until lightly golden.


Southern Style Barbecue Beans for a Crowd

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 1 ½ hours
Serves: 10-15 people

1 teaspoon Mazola® Corn Oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 fresh jalapenos, minced
2/3 cup Weber® Sweet “N Spicy BBQ Sauce
½ cup ketchup
½ cup water
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Minced Garlic
½ teaspoon Spice Islands® Cayenne Pepper
1 tablespoon Weber® Smokey Mesquite Seasoning
1 lb. cooked, shredded pulled pork
2 (28-ounce) cans baked beans
2 (15-ounce cannellini beans, drained
2 (15 ounce) black beans, drained
1 (10-ounce) can Ro-Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilles, drained
½ lb. thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a medium size skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and jalapenos, cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (except bacon), and toss until well blended. Transfer mixture to a 13 x 9” baking pan. Top mixture with a single layer of bacon pieces over the top. Bake 1 ½ hours, or until beans are bubbling and bacon is rendered (if desired, place under broiler for a minute or two for extra crispy bacon). Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve.  Freezes well!


Roasted Corn & Tomato Salad (recipe coming soon)


Bon Appetito!

Summertime Picnic Side Dishes