Monday, October 5, 2015

Spiced Apple Butter


Apple, curry, coriander, cloves, maple syrup, cane sugar, apple cider vinegar

Autumn has arrived and with it ... apples.

I wasn't a big fan of apple butter until I started experimenting with my own combination of spices.
My recipe is not too sweet and has just the right amount of spice - not heat - to make it savory-sweet.
The texture is smooth, silky and the color -  a deep umber - whispers of the cooler temperatures of autumn. 

Depending on your love of curry you can add more or less, but don't skip it, I promise it will not overwhelm the flavors.  It simply adds that extra "little something" that enriches the overall taste.

I love to brush it on meats like chicken, pork chops, turkey and even salmon right before grilling.

And yes, I also love it on a lightly toasted english muffin with a big cup of dark roast coffee.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 2-3 pounds gala or preferred apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

  1. Place all the ingredients in a slow cooker
  2. In a hurry? Set to high for 4 hours
  3. Taking it slow? Set to low for 6-8 hours
  4. Buzz through it with an immersion blender or in a food processor till smooth
This makes about 48 ounces (a quart and a half). No need to process for canning just put it in the fridge once it has cooled. Good for about 2 months but I doubt it will last that long!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Honey Chipotle Meatballs - Three Ways


Meatballs, Honey, Chipotle, Recipe, BBQ, Broilers, Skillet

I'm calling this recipe Honey Chipotle Meatballs - Three Ways because I'm showing you how you can make this recipe using three different cooking methods.

Why three methods?
1) Sometimes you might want to grill
2) Sometimes you might want to grill but it's raining or it's snowing or it's just to darn hot (especially if it is summer and you are in Florida) so you can't grill but you can use your broiler and kind of get the same effect
3) Sometimes you don't want to grill or broil but you crave the taste! So I am providing a stove top method.

None of the methods is any better than the other, it is quite subjective as to what you do or don't want to do ...  or rather what method you want to use to cook the meal.

Now, I will say the sauce is damn good on just about anything you want to put it on.  It has enough heat and sweet that even folks who usually don't tolerate heat will enjoy it.

The meatball recipe on its own is delicious and produces a tender, moist meatball.  The cream and grated onion add that extra moisture the meatball needs to keep it from becoming a golf ball. No one wants to eat a golf ball, at least not anyone I know does.

The bacon imparts a deep, rich smokiness and my secret ingredient not only provides warm color, it also adds depth to the overall flavor. The meatballs are comprised of beef, pork and chorizo (sausage) - yes, that is a lot of flavor going on and it works beautifully.

Give it a try all three ways and let me know which is your favorite.

Honey Chipotle Sauce
1/2 cup honey
1 - 2 tablespoons chipotle chilies in  adobo (or to taste)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (unsweetened) - warning this is the secret ingredient
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, process until smooth.  You can make this a few days ahead.

For the Meatballs
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup white bread cubed
4-6 slices applewood smoked bacon
1 cup grated onion
1 heaping tablespoon garlic
1/2 - 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo, finely chopped (remove seeds)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (unsweetened) - warning this is the secret ingredient
1 teaspoon of oregano - preferably the Mexican variety
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup of beer (drink the rest!)
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 pound ground chorizo (I use Spanish chorizo but you can substitute with Mexican or regular sausage)
1/4 cup cilantro
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Soak the bread in the cream in a large bowl
  2. Cook bacon in a large skillet, Once crispy move to a rack with paper towel underneath to drain. Once cooled crumble and set aside.
  3. Leave about 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat in skillet, cook onions, garlic, cocoa, oregano, cumin and chiptole over medium heat until onion is softened.  Add the beer to deglaze the pan, stirring until all liquid has evaporated.
  4. Stir  onion and spice mixture into bread and cream mixture, allow to cool to handle
  5. Add beef, pork and chorizo, cilantro, bacon, egg, salt and pepper to the bowl. 
  6. Mix all the ingredient by hand, Do not overwork the mixture.
You can prepare the meatballs a day ahead and keep in fridge to ready to cook in one of the three ways that follow below.

Now to Cook it Three Different Ways:

If you are using the first and second method -  first do this. Using a tablespoon to measure, roll  meatballs in the palm of your hand and thread  3-4 on to wooden* or metal skewers.

First Method:

Brush meatballs with Honey Chipotle Sauce and broil about 4 inches from heat until browned and well cooked about 8-10 minutes.
Grill, Grill topper, shop, utensils for grill,
You can find a grill topper like the
one above at Bed Bath & Beyond
Second Method:

You can grill them over medium heat on your gas or charcoal grill - just take care to not move them or they will fall apart. You can use one a rectangular grill topper  (like the one in the picture)
to keep them from falling through the grates. Don't forget to brush with the sauce as you grill.

Third Method:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • Honey Chipotle Sauce
Using a tablespoon to measure, roll  meatballs in the palm of your hand, set each one on a sheet of wax paper until all the meat is used up.  Heat a skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add meatballs and brown meatballs.  Lower heat to keep from over browning, if needed. Deglaze the pan by adding in the wine, stir to scrape up the brown bits from pan then add in the honey Chipotle Sauce, Stir well, let it come up to a low boil and lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes.
Serve with  my Sweet and Savory Roasted and Grilled Corn on the Cob, hot corn tortillas, Nicaraguan Cabbage Slaw (or Ensalada de Repollo Nica) and beer! Cheers!

* If you are using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes prior to use to keep them from burning on the grill.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon is now on Yummly


Hi Folks!

I wanted to let you know that The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon is now on Yummly. You can use the YUM button to save your recipes to your personal recipe box. You can go to The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon's Yummly page to easily find and YUM our recipes.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Cheesy Mashed Veggie Bake


Do you tend to end up with random pieces of veggies in the bin? I know I do and my Cheesy Mashed Veggie Bake is how I use them up.

It's effortless and it makes for a yummy side dish that can be paired with just about anything. Certainly beats the ho-hum of the usual potato or rice sides. 

This is a great way to get the family to look at the cauliflower in a new light.  What I personally like about using cauliflower is how light and airy it makes the veggie bake. I love the creaminess the egg and cream mixtures provides and the nuttiness of the Parmesan.

Serve with meat, poultry, pork, seafood, soup ... okay serve it with just about anything.  Even on its own with a light salad its fantastic!  My favorite is with meatloaf with a ladle of gravy over the top.

It's a big hit with the Hub, who went in for seconds and thirds the last time I made this recipe.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
  • 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, rough chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, rough chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower, rough chopped
  • 2 large carrots, rough chopped
  • 1 large sweet onion (vidalia is best), rough chopped
  • Cold water or Chicken stock (enough to cover veggies)
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 egg whites + 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup cream or half & half (yes, you can use fat free half&half)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • More Parmesan to sprinkle over top - as much or as little as you'd like
  1. Place the first five ingredients in a pot with deep sides, cover with cold water or stock, add  2 teaspoons of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. 
  2. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until a a knife goes through the potatoes with ease.
  3. Strain well in colander, return veggies to the hot pan, turn off heat and allow excess water to evaporate from veggies in pan. Using a masher begin mashing to preferred consistency. (I like texture in my mash so I do not over mash).
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. Add the remaining six ingredients to a bowl. Adjust seasonings as needed. Mix well to incorporate.
  6. Slowly add and stir the egg mixture to the mashed vegetables taking care to not scramble the eggs.
  7. Spoon into a lightly greased 11"x 7" baking dish.
  8. Top with additional Parmesan, if desired.
  9. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until top is golden.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Saffron & Cognac Shrimp Bisque

Shrimp, Soup, Bisque, Saffron, Cognac Creamy

My family knows by now that when they travel abroad the only thing I want is a spice, their choice, from where ever they went.

My daughter Eryka went on a European cruise several years ago and she brought me a beautiful assortment of spices from Tunis. A truffle and olive oil from Italy. Saffron from Spain. To say I was is heaven is an understatement.

Recently, my brother Eddie, who I affectionately call Mr. Ed, traveled to Spain.  Of course, he knew exactly what I wanted ... saffron. And that is what he got me. Thank you Mr. Ed!

Those beautiful, fiery, orange-red threads inspired this recipe.  The intensely flavored stock is made from the shells of the shrimp. The bisque gets its rich velvety texture from cream. And the warm deep flavor of the cognac adds that extra depth of flavor to the bisque. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
  • 1 lb. of shrimp, peeled and deveined.  Set peel and tails aside. Discard veins.
  • 1 quart seafood stock
  • 2 shallots, cut in half, leave skin on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5-6 shallots finely diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • Shrimp
  • 1/4 cognac
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • Salt and pepper, taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Italian flat leaf parsley, palm full, chopped
  1. To a 5 quart stock pot add shrimp peel, tails, shallots and the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes. 
  2. Strain thru a fine colander and discard shallots, peel and tails. Set aside stock.
  3. Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add diced shallots, cook 10 - 12 minutes, stir often. Do not brown, you just want them very soft. 
  4. Add garlic and 1 minute, stirring during cooking time
  5. Add cayenne and shrimp, cook for 3 minutes. Stir often
  6. Pour in cognac and sherry, stir to incorporate and cook 3-4 minutes over medium-low heat
  7. Remove shrimp and shallots from pan. Rough chop the shrimp, reserve about 1/3 cup of the chopped shrimp.
  8. Using the same pot, add butter allow to melt over medium low heat then add flour, stir 2 minutes. 
  9. Stir in cream, half and half nutmeg and saffron. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly till  almost thickened.
  10. Add shallots, shrimp and stock, stir through and cook until thickened.  
  11. Using either an immersion blender stick or a regular blender, blend through until smooth and creamy.

To serve ladle each bowl with soup,  and then equally divide the reserved 1/3 cup shrimp and spoon over top of each bowl, sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with warm bread of choice, a light salad and your favorite wine. Cheers!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Lemon-Garlic Bucatini and Panchetta

Pasta PArmesan lemon garlic panchetta Bucatini

Pasta ... who doesn't love it?

You know what my favorite pasta is? Bucatini!
If you've never had it, it looks like spaghetti, except it's thicker and has a hole running right through it from end to end.

And you know what that means right? Sauce gets in there, so there's sauce a inside and out. Now tell me that doesn't sound divinely delicious.

Now add panchetta (Italian "bacon" - unsmoked pork belly), garlic, cream, lemon and cheese. Lots of yummy, salty, nutty Parmesan cheese. Oh goodness, I want to get into the kitchen and make this again, it's so good!

So easy to make and the entire meal comes together in under 30 minutes. Thirty minutes to the tang of lemon, the nuttiness of Parm and the slurp of the bucatini.

If you want to jazz it up a little, add a pound of shrimp when you get to step 4. Shrimp and panchetta really play nicely together. I think you'll like it.

Round the meal out with a salad, garlic bread and your favorite wine and you are set.

Leftovers, yeah, even better the next day.  Add a splash of cream when you heat it up to loosen it up, and sprinkle with Parm. Lunch anyone?

Serves 2 - 4

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8oz panchetta - diced
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (or more to taste)
  • zest of one lemon, thinly sliced (set aside a few strands
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg -  beaten
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh, grated Parmesan cheese (no canned cheese - please) reserve 1/2 cup for sprinkling over each serving
  • 1 pound cooked bucatini
  • Palm full of Italian parsley, chopped 
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and panchetta.
  2. Saute panchetta until crispy, stirring often
  3. Lower heat to medium-low
  4. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil followed by the garlic and lemon zest - stirring continuously to avoid burning. Cook 2-3 minutes.
  5. Stir in cream and egg, stirring continuously cook till almost bubbling
  6. Briskly stir in wine to incorporate into cream mixture
  7. Add 1 cup of Parmesan, the bucatini and parsley, stir well to distribute throughout.
  8. Top with chopped parsley, stir well.
Serve into deep bowl, top each with additional Parmesan and enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Maple-Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake


Cake Pineapple Upside Down Rum Maples Dessert

I'm not big on sweets but this kicked up version of a classic is one of my favorites to make and eat.

The Hub, well, he does have a sweet tooth and whenever he sees a pineapple ripening in the kitchen - he knows what is coming. He even does his own version of a happy dance.

What's kicked up in my version of this classic is the addition of maple and rum in both the topping and the batter. I'm not adding these ingredients for the sole purpose of making the recipe different - but to enhance and add layers of flavors.  And they do!

Don't be put off by the steps, this cake comes together fast. Not only is it a crowd pleaser it looks quite impressive.  I have taken this to many dinners and BBQs and I have yet to see anyone turn down a piece. Even folks who aren't into sweets chow down on this without reserve.

I leave you with a bit of friendly advise ... make two -  if you are taking one to a party.  Your family may not be talking to you if you don't!

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch rings
  • Marachino cherries
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Heat a heavy bottomed or cast iron skillet* over medium heat, adding butter to melt. 
  2. Add the brown sugar and allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly. 
  3. Add maple syrup, rum and vanilla, stir to incorporate simmer an additional 30 seconds.
  4. If you are using a cast iron skillet you can cook the whole cake in it. Pour 
  5. butter-sugar mixture into a 13"x 9" baking dish that has been generously greased.
  6. Then arrange 8 pineapple rings along the bottom of the dish, 4 on each side and place a cherry in the center of each ring.
Preheat oven at 350 degrees F


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons dark rum - Divided into 2  and 4 tablespoons
  • 2/3 cup pineapple juice, no sugar added
  1. Sift the first three ingredients together.
  2. Cream butter with and electric mixer until its light and fluffy, medium speed
  3. Slowly incorporate sugar
  4. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to incorporate each egg fully before adding the next egg
  5. Beat in vanilla and rum
  6. Lower mixer speed and add 1/2 of the flour until blended and add the juice
  7. Then add the remaining half of the flour until blended.  Do not over beat.  The batter may look lumpy or look like it is curdled.
  8. Carefully spoon batter over topping,  Take care to spread batter out evenly. 
  9. Bake until golden and toothpick or other tester comes out clean - about 45 minutes. If tester does not come out clean continue baking in 5 minute intervals until it does come out clean. Take care to not over bake.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining 4 tablespoons of rum over cake - immediately after taking out of oven.
  11. Cool on wire rack, Flip over once cooled.

*If you are using a cast iron skillet you can cook the whole cake in it. Arrange the pineapple rings along the bottom and use half rings along the sides of the skillet. Continue recipe as above.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Wednesdays with Eryka

One of My Favorite Then and Now Pictures with Eryka

Some of you great folks out there have written asking where is Wednesdays with Eryka. First thank you for letting us know how much you miss her Wednesday posts. We are genuinely touched!

Eryka is going back to school for her RN degree and that is going to require a lot of her time. With a full time job as an LPN and clinical work,(for her RN) twice a week till late at night, it's going to be rough.  And school is always a priority.

We hope you understand and who knows maybe she'll stop by and surprise us with one of her quick and easy recipes. Thank you Eryka (my sugarplum) for encouraging and supporting me and the blog. Wishing my daughter the best of everything as she embarks on a new path to further her career.  Dad and I are so very proud of you.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Portobello Mushrooms

Paste Penne Chicken Sausage Portobello Mushrooms Italian Food
Portabella vs. Portobello, apparently either is correct
but you won't care once your serve up a bowl of my
Pasta with Chicken Sausage & Portobello Mushrooms

One of my favorite Sunday dinners is pasta and this particular pasta recipe is a family favorite! And it's a low fuss meal that comes together in about 15 minutes and then it's left to simmer to develop it's rich flavor.

What I love about it is that it is lighter in calories then a traditional pasta and sausage dinner because I use lean Italian-style chicken sausage. If you splurge on a good brand you won't miss the pork variety. 

The addition of the portobello mushrooms adds that extra meatiness and lots of depth of flavor.

Typically, I like to serve this with some kind of slow cooked greens, such as kale or swiss chard and wine, red or white.  I tend to drink whatever I am in the mood for and just chuck that whole this type of wine goes with that type of protein.  If you like it ... I say drink it!

Serves 4
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions  sliced
  • 2 red and yellow bell or 8 mini-bell peppers, sliced
  • 3 caps of portobello mushrooms, thick sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon oregano, dried
  • 1 tablespoon basil, dried
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of red chili pepper flakes
  • 4 mild Italian-style chicken sausages, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound cooked penne pasta (or pasta of choice)
  1. Heat a heavy bottomed, skillet with tall sides over medium heat, add the first 3 ingredients, saute 3 minutes.
  2. Next, add the mushrooms, garlic, oregano, basil and red chili pepper. Saute 3 minutes.
  3. Add sausage and saute 5-7 minutes, stir often.
  4. Pour in wine to deglaze the pan and allow to simmer until the wine is reduced by half.
  5. Add tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Simmer 30-45 minutes over low heat. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  7. Add cooked pasta and stir well to incorporate.
  8. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serve with garlic bread and a light salad and of course wine, lots of wine!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Baked Custard-y Zucchini and Squash

Baked Zucchini Yellow Squash, Cheese Eggs Custard

Like most individuals I hate waste, especially when it comes to food.  It pains me to throw out food because it has gone bad because I just didn't have time to get to it.

I had two zucchinis and two yellow squash in the veggie bin and I knew that once the work week hit, they were not getting used.  Their end was getting closer.

While I made my Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Portobello Mushrooms (recipe coming next Monday), I figured why not just go ahead and make something with the squashes. I was chopping veggies up anyway, what difference did it make if I chopped a few more.

So I sliced and diced away and this is what resulted from a very quick impromptu, on the spot, made it up as I went, vegetable side dish. I wanted cheesy and I wanted something a little creamy and custardy. That's a lot of "eee"s or is that "y's"!

Did I mention it turned out delicious? No?

Well, it did and the Hub, you remember him - the ever present food barometer, he had thirds and took the rest for lunch the next day.

Serves 4 - 6
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 yellow squash, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2/3 cup of heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (like egg beaters)
  • 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese PLUS 1/2 cup reserved and set aside
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
  1. Preheat oven at 375 degreesF
  2. Spray a 11" x 7" baking dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Place zucchini and squash in dish
  4. In a medium sized bowl add cream, whites, 3/4 cup of Parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir until well incorporated and pour over vegetables in baking dish
  5. Sprinkle the reserved Parmesan over top and bake for 40 minutes
  6. Top with provolone cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and just slightly browned.  

Serve with an arugula salad dressed with my  Roasted Garlic Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette , warm, toasted baguette and a crisp white wine.  Perfect for a simple lunch or light dinner.

Recipe Notes:
Want to cut the fat and not use heavy cream? Use fat free half & half, it works just fine.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Maple Bourbon Garlic Roast Chicken


Maple Bourbon Garlic Chicken Recipe Delicious

Maple, bourbon and garlic, three simple ingredients that play together so very nicely!

This recipe is easy to make, it just takes a little patience during the brine and marinade process but I promise that the results are nothing short of divine.

The Hub, who never remembers the name of any recipe, will ask for it by name.  It think it's the bourbon that he remembers most.

But it has become a special Sunday dinner, although I've made it during the week too.

This recipe recommends that you brine your chicken, you can skip this part, but frankly if I have a chance to brine I do. Why? Because it makes for a very moist chicken throughout, including the breast. For time efficieny, brine the night before and marinate the next day until it's time to roast.
If you want to brine check out my post on how to brine here.

With this recipe you get crispy skin and juicy, flavorful chicken and to me that's the perfect roast chicken right there.

  • 1 - 4-5 pound whole chicken (remove the neck and giblets from the chicken's cavity)
  • Brine 10-12 hours or overnight.  Here's a link to my post on all things brine.
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Maple Bourbon Garlic Roast Chicken Recipe Food

Clean up your chicken by removing any excess skin and fat.

  1. Brine chicken overnight or at least 10 hours.
  2. While the chicken is in the brine solution, mix all the ingredients in a bowl, except for the salt and pepper, cover and place in fridge. This will give the marinade time to develop it's full flavor potential.
  3. After brining, remove chicken from solution, rinse well and pat very dry.
  4. Place chicken in a large zip bag and pour all the ingredients from the bowl into the zip bag. Zip it closed, roll chicken around in the bag so the marinade is well distributed and place in fridge (place in a deep bowl, just in case).  Allow to marinate 2 - 8 hours, the longer the better.
  5. Take chicken out of fridge and allow to come to room temperature  - about 30-60 minutes
  6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  7. Remove chicken from zip bag, do not discard marinade.
  8. Pat chicken dry and lightly rub olive oil all over.
  9. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken, then all over the outside
  10. Place chicken in a deep fry pan or cast iron skillet
  11. Put in the oven and roast for 12-15 minutes
  12. In the meantime, bring the marinade to a boil and allow to boil for 3 minutes
  13. After the initial roast at 425, lower oven temperature to 375 degrees F and brush the chicken all over with the marinade
  14. Roast for 50-70 minutes. Be sure to brush chicken with marinade a half hour into the roast time and then again 15 minutes before it is done.  The chicken is done when the internal temperature, taken from the thigh, reads 165 degrees F.
  15. Now this is really important, remove chicken from pan onto a carving board and allow it to rest 15-20 minutes before carving.

Serving suggestions:  The questions here is what can't you serve  with this delicious chicken?

Recipe Notes:
Allowing the chicken to rest lets the internal juices that have have been driven to the center of the meat to relax and "redistribute" throughout the meat. That's the simple explanation of why you should let pretty much any roasted/grilled/pan fried meats rest. However if you want to know more there is a wealth of  whys and hows on the web if you want to learn more about the science behind the resting period.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tripping All the Way to Tuscan-Inspired White Bean, Kale and Chicken Soup

Tuscan-Inspired White Bean, Kale & Chicken Soup
I bought a huge, and I mean huge, bag of Kale on Monday and was determined to make something warm and satisfying by the way of soup. I had also just watched a travel show about Tuscany and the flavors, herbs and scents of that region and I wanted them in my food. It was inspiring, I was inspired and I got cooking. The ingredients you need to incorporate those flavors aren't all that hard to get, they are simple, clean, fresh and you probably have most or all of them on hand. This is not a heavy soup, it is hearty in flavor, but it will not weigh you down. The Hub had seconds, he is my eternal "meter"! When he has seconds I know I hit a home run! So come along with me and let's get tripping to Tuscany.

Serves 6 as a meal and 8 as a starter.

1 pound chicken* thighs, diced into bite size pieces, about 1", sprinkled with salt and pepper and a teaspoon of Tuscan seasoning mix (recipe follows at the end)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, quartered and diced
2 celery stalks, halved and diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons Tuscan seasoning mix (recipe follows at the end)
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped
A palm full of fresh thyme, stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sunny Saffron Mango Jam

I started making jams at the beginning of this year and have found it both relaxing and rewarding. I find that I enjoy the preparation, the canning process and then knowing I have a particular jam, that I made, on hand. And not just one jar but at least 4-5 of them ... I like to make small batches. It's great for gift giving, I know few people who would say no to homemade jam. This past weekend, I visited my cousin/godmother, Lourdes, who lives in Naples, and has a bunch of fruit trees, herbs and pineapple plants in her backyard. The Hub being the fruit fanatic that he is immediately hit the backyard when she said help yourself to some mangoes. And boy, did he get a bunch of mangoes! Once we were back home and I realized how many mangoes there actually were, I told him I was taking some to make some jam. He very happily surrendered them over and now we have 5 scrumptious half pints of saffron infused mango jam! This is an easy recipe, that I think anyone new to canning and preserving would enjoy making.

Makes 4 -5 half pints

4 1/2 cups mangoes, diced, peel removed, seed discarded. (about 4-5 mangoes)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter - to reduce foaming
A nice pinch of saffron threads, to enhance the flavor and color
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 - 3 tablespoons of natural fruit pectin. Depending on how you like your jam, is how much or less you add.

Friday, April 24, 2015

BBQ Achiote Drumsticks

It was in the high 60's last night in South Florida and for us it was the perfect weather for a BBQ with friends. It was cool, very little to no humidity and best of all no mosquitos! The stars of last night's BBQ were chicken drumsticks, that had been brined and then marinaded in achiote paste. Sides tonight are no fuss, deli bought potato salad and cole slaw. Firing up the grill got the evenings festivities going. 

BBQ Achiote Drumsticks
Serves 4-6

18-20 drumsticks
Brine solution
2-3 tablespoons Achiote paste. Click here for home-made Achiote recipe.
1/2 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Runnin' on Red ... Healthy Juice or Nefarious Cocktail?


Since our trip last year to San Francisco I've been missing the morning juice we'd have on our way out the door to the day's adventure. My sister-in-law, Maria Lydia, who lives in SF, introduced us to the world of juicing and we were hooked. Well, maybe I was more hooked than everyone else, and by everyone else I mean the Hub.
It's taken me some time to finally breakdown and buy a juicer**. Why? Because I didn't want to spend a whole lot of money on another kitchen gadget that I wasn't quite so sure I'd really stick with. The Hub summed it up for me, you'll juice furiously for a month and then adios and logic told me ... he's probably right.
What I wasn't counting on was how good it would be for running. You see I run, I am not a marathon runner, heck I haven't even been able to run my first 5K (mostly because of accidents and a few other mishaps I've encountered every time I try to participate in one) but I can run a 5K. I run because I like to eat and you can't be a foodie with a food blog and not expect to grow in the wrong way ... horizontally. So I run, but some days after a full day of work, I just need that little extra boost of energy to help me run my best. Instead of reaching for a very unhealthy energy shot, I drink up 8 oz of this little elixir and I run, boy do I run. Thus the name Runnin' on Red.
But the nefarious side to juicing, oh yes it can be delightfully nefarious, is that some of these juices make really awesome cocktails ... yup ... cocktails. And Runnin' on Red makes a perfect cocktail.  Here's the recipe for the juice and the cocktail.

Makes 4 cups

For the Juice:
2 medium to large beets, peeled, cut in quarters
1/2 pineapple, peeled, cut in quarters

Place two quarters of the beets and pineapple into the juicer and run through juicer for about 45 second.
Juice in this manner until all the beets and pineapple have been used.
Pour into a 1 quart mason jar. Keep refrigerated.

Drink 20-30 minutes before exercising or whenever you need a little natural burst of healthy liquid powered energy.

Makes 4 servings

For the Cocktail:
12 oz Runnin on Red juice
2 lemons, 1 juiced and 1 sliced into rings with a slit
4 ounces vodka**
Crushed ice
Ice cubes
4 ounces soda water

In a martini shaker add the first three ingredients with ice.
Shake for a good 30 seconds
Fill tall slim highball glass with ice cubes
Strain juice into glass (about 3 ounces +/-)
Float in about 1 ounce of soda water and give it one stir
Place lemon ring on the glass

Drink up!

**Recipe Notes:
Some of my favorite vodkas are Grey Goose, Kettle One, Tito's, Effen.
Check back soon for my review on my very affordable juicer.

Orange, Ginger-Soy Grilled Chicken


Summer is definitely here in South Florida.  Long hot days turn into long equally hot nights and the last thing you want to do is crank up the stove, which will further crank up your utility bill, because now you are cranking down the A/C's thermostat to cool your home.

Besides, what's easier than firing up the grill and throwing together a big salad, add some bread, like my Grilled Tomato & Garlic Bread a la Catalana and dinner is a done deal.

This is probably one of my favorite grilled chicken recipes.  There is some time to invest in the way of allowing for brine time and then marinade time but other than that this is easy peasy. Prepare it over the weekend and grill on Monday for a quick and easy dinner.

Flavor wise you can't beat how the chicken takes on the deep citrus flavor of the orange zest and juice, the zippy tang of the ginger and pungent spice of the garlic. The soy gives it just the right amount of sodium.

Serves 4

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, butterflied or eight skinless, boneless thighs

Brine solution
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups of water, divided 1/2 cup boiling water and 1 1/2 cups ice cold water

To a half cup of boiling water add the salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved. Once dissolved add the salt sugar solution to 1 1/2 cup of ice cold water. Add chicken. Refrigerate and brine for 8 - 24 hours*.

Want to learn more about how and what to brine? Check out my post To Brine or Not to Brine? That Shouldn't Even Be a Question.

1 orange, zest grated and juiced
1  teaspoon finely minced garlic
1" nub of fresh ginger root, grated
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Store in gallon size zip bag in fridge. Make the same day you brine the chicken.  This allows for the flavors of the ingredients to marry well together.

Remove chicken from brine, rinse well and dry with paper towel. Place inside marinade zip bag.  If time permits, marinate overnight, otherwise allow for 1 hour of marination.

Heat grill over high flame.  You will know it's ready when you hold your hand ABOVE the hot grates for no more than 3-4 secs.  Place chicken on hot grates.
Depending on the thickness, grill 5-7 minutes per side. Half way through cooking time of each side, give the chicken a quarter turn to get some nice hatch grill marks.

Place on platter and cover with foil.  Allow to rest 5 minutes. Dig in and ENJOY!

Serve with my Grilled Tomato & Garlic Bread a la Catalana, and  my favorite tangy Nicaraguan Cabbage Slaw and your favorite beverage.  For us, it was an ice cold Stella Artois.

*Recipe Notes:
Adjust brine and marinade time to your schedule. If you only have 8 hours till dinner, split the time equally between the brine and marination process.

Kielbasa with White Beans and Tarragon


Lately, I have been experimenting with kielbasa in my cooking and I have to say it is delicious! Like sausage, it is easy to cook with, and is versatile in that you can pair with just about anything: rice, pasta, beans, pita, wraps, vegetables and more. You can saute it, grill it, broil it! It cooks up quickly and doesn't dry out. In this recipe I sauted the kielbasa. It is ok for it to char a bit; it'll taste just as good with a little extra crunch. You can easily switch the kielbasa with any sausage you like if you want to change it up or if you do not like kielbasa. This recipe cooks up in 30 minutes or less, which of course  makes it a wonderful weeknight meal! My boyfriend had seconds...that is how delicious my Kielbasa with White Beans and Taragon was!

1lb Kielbasa, sliced in discs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1 15 oz can white beans, rinsed (like great northerns or cannellini)
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 tablespoon tarragon

1. In a saute pan, heat oil on medium heat and cook the kielbasa. Cook on each side until browned or to taste turning over to brown both sides, about 10 minutes. Set kielbasa aside on a plate.

2. In the same saute pan (you may need to add more oil), add the onion, carrots, salt and pepper (to taste) and cook, stirring constantly, until soft, about 8 minutes.

3. Add the wine and beans, simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the kielbasa and tarragon. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Turkey Kielbasa Alfredo with Broccoli

Turkey Kielbasa Broccoli One Pan Recipe

It's Wednesdays with Eryka and ladies and gentlemen, I present to you another recipe for kielbasa! I think Kielbasa is my new obsession. It is so versatile and I keep finding new ways to use it. This week I am using it in pasta, one of my other obsessions/favorites. Kielbasa pairs great with pasta, more so with a white sauce, like Alfredo. I made a homemade Alfredo sauce. It is simple to make, not too fancy and an excellent weeknight meal. If you scanned the recipe already and saw one of the ingredient is lemon juice, your eyes are deceiving you. My Alfredo sauce takes lemon juice. It adds that spark of flavor to the sauce. As usual, I cook the kielbasa in the pan and I then make the sauce in the same pan to pick up the flavors from the cooked meat. This alters the color of the sauce making it less white, but oh so  tasty as well as rustic looking! The broccoli adds a pop of fun green plus a dash of nutrition. Pair with your favorite pasta and enjoy!

Wednesdays with Eryka
1lb turkey kielbasa, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box linguine or pasta of choice
2 broccoli heads, chopped

1. In a pan on medium heat, heat the olive oil then add the kielbasa and onion. Cook together until kielbasa is browned and onion is soft. Add in the white wine and simmer until evaporated. Remove from pan.

2. Add the butter and let it melt. Stir in with a whisk the flour. Stir together until a light brown color and all lumps from flower are gone. Stir in slowly, with the whisk, the chicken stock, the milk and cream. Stir until all combined with no lumps.

3. While sauce is cooking add in the lemon juice, salt and pepper, nutmeg and mozzarella. Stir all together. Add the kielbasa/onion mixture back into the sauce. Simmer while pasta cooks.

4. In a large pot, cook your pasta of choice. In the last 2-3 minutes of cooking add in the broccoli. You may have to adjust the cooking time because adding in the broccoli will change the temperature thus altering cooking time. Drain when pasta is al dente. Put pasta back into the same pot and add the sauce with kielabasa. Serve and top with parmesan cheese!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Roasted Garlic Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette


garlic roasted lemon dijon dressing marinade vinaigrette chicken shrimp

I've gotten into making my own dressing/vinaigrette more often of late.

Mostly because if I can't pronounce the ingredients in a vinaigrette or dressing I'm not buying it.
And frankly, there is something really cool about making your own.
It tastes better, it's fresh, I know what's in it and most of all it's delicious.

The roasted garlic adds a nice depth to the flavor and doesn't overpower the freshness the lemon and zest add, nor the nice zip the Dijon imparts. 

I especially love it over simple salad of arugula, tomato and cucumber.  It plays well with the peppery bite of the arugula.  

And if using it as a vinaigrette weren't enough, it makes a great marinade for chicken, turkey, pork and seafood, especially brushed over just grilled shrimp.

Trying making your own, it truly does make a difference.

Serves 2
arugula tomato cucumber lemon garlic dijon salad dressing marinade
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 -2 fat cloves of roasted garlic*, peel removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt or kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  1. Place the first 6 ingredients in a deep bowl
  2. Whisk vigorously until all ingredients are well incorporated
  3. Slowly drizzle in the walnut oil as you whisk, followed by the olive oil to thicken and emulsify the vinaigrette

Recipe Notes: If you don't have Himalayan pink salt or walnut oil no need to go out and buy any. You can use extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt. Then why do I bother using those ingredients?  Personally, I think they elevate the over-all taste of the vinaigrette. I'm having an intense romance at the moment with Himalayan pink salt. By the way, you can get both these items at a decent price at Trader Joe's. 
You can use a small food processor or an immersion blender to emulsify the oils into the other ingredients if you prefer not to hand whisk.  But I will say it's a good workout!  

*Roasted garlic is easy to make. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Cut the garlic in half, no need to peel. Place garlic on a sheet of aluminum, make sure the sheet is big enough to wrap the garlic. Bring up the sides of sheet around the halved head. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt. Wrap shut. Place on a baking sheet. Roasted for 30-45 minutes or until the garlic has turned into a soft paste.
Once cooled you can squeeze out the paste as use as wanted. I usually will roast 3 - 4  garlic heads and use it in recipes, breads, soup and more. It keeps for about month in the fridge.  Keep in a glass container, tightly sealed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ground Turkey Hash n' Fried Eggs

Ground Turkey, Eggs potatoes Cumin Coriander paprika turmeric

I bring you another great and satisfying weeknight meal. In this recipe I use ground turkey to make it lighter and healthier, but you can most definitely substitute the turkey with beef.
This is a great meal to experiment with using new or different spices, especially if you're planning on cleaning out your  spice pantry.

It's a great way to change the taste of the meal, while keeping it easy and fast to make.

Growing up my grandmother made a dish called Picadillo, which we have posted on the site in the past, that is a ground beef hash. This recipe reminds me of her. Although her recipe is completely different in seasonings and the beef is saucier, she would always accompany that hash with a fried egg.

I don't know what it is about the fried egg that adds a different touch to the meal; I think it adds a little fun too! You can leave the turkey mixture ready the night before so that when you get home from work all you need to do is saute everything up, eat and enjoy! It is ready in less than 20 minutes. I hope you enjoy this quick weeknight meal!

Serves 2 - 4
Today on Wednesdays with ErykaGround Turkey Hash n' Fried Eggs

1lb ground turkey
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4-5 fingerling potatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
salt and pepper
fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 eggs

  1. In a bowl, mix the ground turkey, bell pepper, potatoes, paprika, tumeric, ground coriander, salt and pepper and parsley.
  2. In a nonstick pan, heat oil to about medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it is soft and fragrant. Add in the turkey mixture and spread around the pan; do not touch once it is spread out. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
  3.  After 5 minutes, the underside should be crispy. Flip/stir to crisp the other side. Check to make sure turkey has been cooked through. Make two holes in the turkey to reveal the bottom of the pan to prepare to fry the eggs.
  4. Crack eggs into the two holes created. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes to cook the egg. 
  5. When the egg looks set in the middle it is ready to eat. Use a spatula to serve the turkey hash with the egg onto each plate. Enjoy!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Curry-Garam Masala Baked Chicken Tenderloins


Curry Garam Masala Chicken Tenderloins greek yogurt

Requirements for loving a recipe...

I love recipes with a short list of ingredients.

I love recipes that require little effort but deliver big flavor.

I love recipes where the effort is made by the appliance and not by me.

I love a recipe that cooks up fast

In this case my recipe for Curry-Garam Masala Baked Chicken Tenderloins covers all four of these requirements...

Only seven ingredients.

The only effort here is stirring everything together but boy are the flavors spot on, warm, rich - but not heavy, and oh so yummy.

The oven does all the work, all you do is slide in a baking sheet.

15 minutes and you are done.

What's not love about this recipe?

Serves 2- 4
  • 2 tablespoons non fat greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Zest and juice of one blood orange (or regular orange )
  • 1/4 teaspoon pilpelchum or cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloin, cut into thin strips

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl stir to incorporate
  2. Allowed to marinate in the refrigerator 2 to 8 hours - better overnight
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  4. Place chicken on a oiled foil lined rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.
  5. Bake 10 minutes, drain off any excess liquids . 
  6. Turn pieces over,  return to oven and cook another five minutes or till lightly golden.
Serve with yogurt and torn pieces of pita or toss into a salad or basmati rice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hearty Four-Bean & Kielbasa Soup

Beans, soup, chili, kielbasa hearty comfort food

In South Florida, there is no such thing as "winter," just occasional, beautiful, coldish days. The lowest it has been so far is probably 49 degree, which believe it or not, is freezing for us Floridians. We break out our boots, scarfs, turtlenecks, and large sweaters, it is the funniest thing. My boyfriend is from New York, so obviously this weather is a joke to him. He goes out in shorts and I just freak out, but I digress and the point of me bringing up the weather is that in the event of these random cold days I make yummy, comforting warm soups, thus this recipe. This I made when I got home from work on Thursday evening with no plan of what to make. I'm trying to consume less red meat, so I knew chili was out of the question but I did have turkey kielbasa sitting in the fridge begging to be used. I put flavors together in my head with the kielbasa, the beans and the spices and the result is this yummy soup! You can almost clear out your pantry with this recipe. Use what beans you may like as well as regular kielbasa instead of turkey. The next day it was just as delicious if not more since the spices had even more time to mingle. I hope you enjoy my impromptu soup and hope it'll help warm up your chilly nights!

Eryka on Wednesday with Eryka
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 16oz turkey kielbasa, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15.5oz can black beans
1 15.5oz can red kidney beans
1 15oz can pork and beans
1 8.3oz can baked beans
1 14.5oz can diced tomato
1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large stew pot, heat oil on medium. Add the onions, peppers and onions. Cook until fragrant and soft. Add the kielbasa; cook together for about 5 minutes.

2. In the same pan, add all the canned products with their juices (important: do NOT drain). Stir to combine. Follow with the tomato paste and all the spices.

3. Stir and bring everything to a boil then lower to a simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Taste to check to seasonings. If ready, serve in bowls, top with your favorite cheese and enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chicken, Orzo & White Bean Soup


Chicken, Soup, White Bean, Orzo, Spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion diced
1 bell pepper diced
 8 ounces of cremoni mushrooms sliced in thick slices
4 skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into chunks
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped 
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 tablespoon of fresh basil, finally minced
1 cup white wine
28 ounce can of San Marzano whole tomatoes (tear apart with your hand as you add to pan)
2 bay leaves
4 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of cannellini beans (previously soaked) or 1 can, drained and rinsed.
1/2 teaspoon of dried orange peel
Parmesan rind (optional)
1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup uncooked orzo
3-4 handfuls spinach
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

  • Heat a dutch oven or deep pan over medium heat. Add oil followed by onions and peppers. Saute 5 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms, cook 3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken, allow to lightly brown, then add the garlic. Stir to incorporate.
  • Sprinkle the rosemary, oregano and basil over top and stir well to incorporate. Saute 2 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with wine, scrape brown bits from bottom of pan.
  • Add the tomatoes,  bay leaves,chicken stock, beans and orange peel. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a simmer. (At this point you can transfer everything to the slow cooker and set on high for 2 -3 hours or low for 6-8 hours.)
  • Cook until the beans are softened about 45 - 60 minutes
  • 30 minutes before serving, bring to a low boil add, salt, pepper, orzo and spinach, stir, lower heat to simmer.
  • (For the slow cooker, raise heat to high and stir in, salt, pepper, orzo and spinach - cook 30 minutes or till orzo is al dente).

To Serve: Grate parmesan over each serving and with your favorite bread.

Recipe notes:  You can use dried herbs in place of fresh just be sure to adjust  quantities as dried herbs are much more potent.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Easy 3-Course Valentine's Dinner

I am not fond of going out to dinner on Valentine's Day. The restaurants are crowded, the service is lacking and the food generally atrocious. I'd rather make a delicious dinner at home that I know we will enjoy more. Today I am sharing a 3-course dinner that is high on the flavor barometer and low on the fuss, a beautifully light pea soup, a parchment baked fish and yummy nutella and banana pastry bundles. If you do some of the prep work ahead of time (like chopping or slicing the veggies etc), it will all come together in about 30 minutes. The soup you can make ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for a day or two. You can even make it at the beginning of week and freeze it till you are ready to serve it, just defrost it and gently warm through. 
I hope you and your loved one have a beautiful Valentine's celebration!

First Course

Spring Pea Soup

Serves 2
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 tablespoon light butter
3 - 4 shallots, small dice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic gloves, crushed
5-6 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup milk (use your preference, whole, 2%, skim etc)
1/2 cup half and half

In a medium stainless steel pot heat the oil and butter over medium heat and add shallots, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, saute for 3 minutes. Next add garlic gloves, basil and parsley, cook for another 2 minutes and add stock and the peas. Cover and cook over medium low heat for 5-7 minutes.

Using either a blender or immersion stick blender, process until smooth. Stir in milk and half & half, heat through but do not boil. Add remaining salt or season to taste.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream.

Second Course

Lemon & Paprika Infused Parchment Roasted Grouper

1/8 cup of olive oil
1/2  teaspoon of minced garlic
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika (sweet or hot your choice)
3 shallots*, sliced into rings
2 fish fillets* - use your favorite firm whitefish -  I used grouper

Place the first 5 ingredients into a medium bowl. Whisk together until ingredients are incorporated. Add the sliced shallots rings. Let sit for 15 minutes or a few hours (you can even prep this part the night before).

Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees F

Cut two sheets of parchment* enough to create an envelope around the fish. Pat fish dry. Salt and pepper both sides to taste and place in the bottom half of the sheet. Place shallots ring atop each fish fillets and spoon marinade over each fillet. Like you would for an empanada or hand-pie make a pouch with the parchment to enclose the fish.  Place pouches on a lipped baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or 15 minutes per inch of thickness if you are using a thicker cut of fish.

Third Course

Banana and Nutella Pastry Bundles

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
1 banana, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces, 9 pieces total
9 teaspoons of Nutella
1 egg, beaten

1. Thaw the puff pastry until you can easy handle it. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Lightly flour your work surface and place your puff pastry down to cut it into 9 squares (remember do not worry about being perfect, it's ok!).

3. In each square, place a teaspoon of nutella topped by the banana slice. Brush the egg along each edge. Take each opposite corner and press tightly together. Repeat to all pastry pieces.

4. Place the pastries on a baking sheet and brush all over with the egg for the extra golden color when baking. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden in color.

5. Place on a cooling rack when done for about 5 minutes