Caramelized Bean Dip

What’s great about bean dip is that it tastes good, easy make and guilt free! A few months back, I attended a wonderful superfoods cooking class at Ninety Acres Culinary Center in Peapack, NJ where we prepared some delicious dishes, one of which is this Caramelized Bean Dip!

Click on quick recipe to enlarge and print

Begin by adding 3 tablespoons of olive oil into pan on medium heat.  Add the onions and stir around on medium to low heat.

When you plan to make this dip last minute, you may have to use canned beans, but just a side note, I always recommend buying your beans dried and soaking them yourself overnight. If you need to buy the beans canned, buy organic.  Drain and rise the beans thoroughly.

Add the beans to the food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add the caramelized onions until a pureed mixture forms.

Make sure you have the appropriate amount of spices/herbs prepared for the dip (refer to recipe print out). Too much flavor to the below ingredients will kill the taste.

Add olive oil…

Herbs and spices…

Then check to dip for consistency. If its too dry, add a teaspoon of olive oil and a bit more lemon juice.  

You can get creative and serve this dip in a bell pepper just by cutting off the top of the pepper and scooping out the seeds inside.

Or place it neatly in a bowl..

Either way, your guests will thank you for this guilt free tasty dip! Enjoy 🙂


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Irish Lamb Stew

If you ask me,  food served on St. Patrick’s Day (corn beef and cabbage) isn’t exactly my cup of tea and I think most people would agree with me. I’m not a hater to the Irish as I am 25%, but binge drinking on stale beer and putting shamrock stickers on my face isn’t my idea of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I’d rather enjoy a home cooked Irish Lamb Stew that is super easy to prepare. 

Click on quick recipe below to enlarge and print

Peel and chop up 1 pound of baking potatoes

  1. Clean and slice 1 leek
  2.  Dice 1 large onion
  3. Peel and slice 1 carrot
  4. Chop 3 medium plum tomatoes
  5. Combine all ingredients into slow cooker

Cut grass-fed organic lamb into cubes and sprinkle with flour

Make sure the lamb cubes are all roughly the same shape

Add lamb to crock pot and sprinkle in seasoning (salt, pepper, rosemary)

Add 2 cups of beef broth or stock

About 15 minutes before your stew is fully cooked in slow cooker, begin preparing your couscous.  I used Near East brand because it’s super easy and tastes great. Follow directions on box on how to prepare.


Voila! Pair with a nice crusty piece of bread and you got yourself a wonderful Irish Lamb Stew! 


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Black Bean Chili Polenta Cups

When you are hosting a winter party, it’s always important to have food for your guests they can easily bite into and can be eaten in one hand because chances are, they have a cocktail in the other. I give you.. Black Bean Chili Polenta Cups! This recipe I found in a fun little small bites cookbook called, Party Bites. 

Order a copy off Amazon today and you’ll have the best hors d’oeuvres to serve your friends!

Click on quick recipe below to enlarge and print. 

You can always make polenta from scratch, but if you plan to make most of your hors d’oeuvres from scratch, safe yourself the extra hour and go out and buy yourself some good quality pre-made polenta. It generally comes in a plastic tube located usually in the deli/produce section of your grocery store.  Scoop a mini teaspoon of polenta into each cup of a mini cupcake tray.  Shape polenta around the bottom and sides of each cup cake holder.  Place in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes.
Soak 1 pound of dried black beans over night. Rise, drain and  bring to a boil with 2 cups of water  (add more if needed)and then simmer for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Next, chop up 4 shallots, 3 garlic cloves and 2 red chiles. 

Or you can throw these 3 ingredients into a food processor to get a fine chop (easier). 

Add the 3 ingredients to a heated pan with 4 tablespoons of olive oil

Next, add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste

Then take the coriander seeds, cumin and sea salt and add to food processor

Then add the heated ingredients from the pan back into the food processor

Blend  for 30 seconds until all ingredients are combined

Add chopped cilantro and brown sugar to cooked beans.. approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes after placing them in pot of water.

Place the mixed ingredients into pot of beans after they are completely cooked..

Take your toasty and crispy polenta cups out of the oven 🙂

Scoop the flavorful chili into each polenta cup, top off with a small dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Your party guests will be talking about this great hors d’oeuvre all winter long! You can even host a classy Super Bowl party with this special hit 🙂

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Chicken Sausage & Turnip Soup

When you own a slow cooker, there is really no excuse for someone to say they don’t have “time” to make a warm wholesome meal. There is really nothing better than coming home from a long day of work and have a nice smell of a slow cooker full of nutritious and flavorful food there to greet you. What’s even better is that it’s safe to leave on when you are away from home (up to 8 hours). Trust me folks, spend the $35.00 and get yourself a nice sized Crockpot for you to enjoy your next warm meal! 

I give you Chicken Sausage & Turnip Soup! Don’t be fooled by the “soup” because this is a full and hearty meal that will surely fill you up by itself for dinner.

Click on quick recipe below to enlarge and print

The only “time consuming” part to this recipe is the prep work and you can chop up all your ingredients a day in advance and in the morning before you leave for work, throw them all in the slow cooker and BOOM, in 8 hours you’ve got yourself a perfect dinner! Turn on the Crockpot and set the timer for 6-8 hours.

My first time making chicken sausage was for this recipe. Applegate Farms makes a great organic chicken sausage with great spices. It comes already cooked and packaged too! Check out their website for some great products-Applegate Farms!

In this case of adding heat, you are tossing them into the slow cooker

Add the chopped carrots

And the chopped onion

Then the cauliflower and turnips 🙂

Next, take a 14 oz can of diced organic tomatoes and pour the whole can in the slow cooker

Next, take the rinsed and drained kidney beans and toss them in as well

Looks good so far, right?

Add the vegetable stock ( 2 cups)

Last, add the spinach or lettuce leaves (8 leaves chopped) to the … wait for it.. into the slow cooker! 

Place the lid on the pot and step away for 5 hours. Some people are hesitant to leave their home when their slow cooker is on, so if you are purchasing one, check the label to ensure it guarantees no monitoring is needed.

After the 5 hours are up. Add your spices (thyme, oregano, salt and pepper). 

Wait approximately, 1-2 more hours, serve and enjoy!

I added a light sprinkle of parmigiana cheese on top. This soup is hearty and warm. A perfect meal on a cold winter night 🙂


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Maple Roasted Duck with Herb Farro Salad

Duck never used to be something I was likely to order or make until I was in culinary school where we prepared Duck Confit rendered in duck fat. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I came across a Maple Roasted Duck Breast recipe at Whole Foods and decided to give it a whirl. It was super easy and delicious!

Click on quick recipe below to enlarge and print.


First, bring pot of water to boil and cook 2 cups of farro for 10 minutes, drain and set aside. Then, combine farro with olive oil, scallions, spinach, shredded carrots, toasted pine nuts, chive, arugula,  chopped shallots and lemon juice. (See recipe on amount).  


Next, saute chopped mushrooms until tender and add to the farro salad. 

For the duck, preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine cinnamon, coriander, fennel seeds, nutmeg, and pepper in a small bowl. Using the tip of a sharp knife, score duck skin in a crosshatch pattern, then rub cinnamon mixture into skin of each duck breast. Season all over with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Cook duck over low to medium heat, without turning, until most of the fat is rendered and the skin is golden brown. Add maple syrup, maple sugar and butter. Stir to melt the butter and combine the syrup and sugar. Baste duck breasts well, then carefully flip them so that they are all skin-side up.

Transfer to oven and roast until medium rare, 8 to 10 minutes. Baste with pan juices, then transfer duck to a rack and set aside to let rest for 10 minutes.

You can drizzle with pan juices, if you like. I did and it tasted great 🙂  


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Harvest Vegetable Lasagna

A good friend gave me this amazing cookbook, which I’m a huge fan of! Chef Keith Snow created The Harvest Eating Cookbook that covers foods that are fresh and in season. He stresses the importance on how harvest eating is a lifestyle, rather than a diet. Amen Keith! Pick up a copy of The Harvest Eating at your next visit to Barnes and Noble!

Today, I”m making their Harvest Eating Lasagana! Check out my steps to this delicious recipe from The Harvest Eating Cookbook

As I’ve mentioned before, the Fall has some of the best seasonal ingredients. What’s more amazing is packing all these seasonal foods in one delicious dish! I give you, Keith Snow’s Harvest Eating Lasagna!

First, if you did not buy your cheese already shredded, I’d advise doing this as the start of your prep work. 3 cups of shredded Gruyere cheese and 2 cups of Pepper Jack cheese.

Next, you are going to make the bechamel sauce for the lasagna and then set aside. Bring 1/2 cup of flour, 1 stick of organic butter to  pot on low heat and stir for 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of organic whole milk and whisk.

Stick 2 bay leaves in 1/2 organic white onion and add to mixture. 

Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper to your liking, bring to a simmer and cook until sauce is thick enough to coast the back of spoon. Like this!

Next,  wash and steam 8 -10 kale leaves  (roughly chopped) for 10 minutes until softened.

Then, cut 2 whole sweet potatoes julienne style (looks like carrot sticks).

See what I mean?

Next, chop up  3 leeks (regardless of the amount you see in the picture below.. sorry for the confusion!) Then wash the leeks by submerging them in warm water, pour out water and repeat the process 3 times. 

Bring leeks and potatoes to saute pan with  2 tablespoons of pure olive oil on medium heat. Add 2 garlic cloves and saute for 3-5 minutes.

Next, cook lasagna as directed on box. Then, assemble the lasagna in layers in 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Start with lasagna and cover the bottom of the dish. 

Add some sauce on the bottom of each layer.

Then spread a portion of steamed kale on each layer

Then the sauteed potatoes and leeks

Finish topping each layer with the mixed cheeses

Layer until the baking dish is full to the top and finish with a little cheese top off. Like such!

Bake for 35-40 minutes

Cut the lasagna into individual portion sizes

Look at the beautiful layers of vegetables!

Depending on much you enjoy condiments, you can add some additional bechamel sauce on top. If you would rather stay a bit healthier, you can always hold off on the extra sauce 🙂

Enjoy this delicious Harvest Eating Lasagna and a big thanks to Chef Keith Snow for introducing this wonderful recipe to us all!

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Praline Pumpkin Cupcakes

What’s better than Fall featured desserts? When the pre-made mix is DELICIOUS! Trader Joes does a wonderful job strategically placing impulse buys throughout the store when you are waiting on their line. Next time you’re in, pick up a box of their Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix. I didn’t make bread or muffins, I made cupcakes and they were great! 

All you need for this recipe is the following:


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Below is a pic of my special friend, Jeffrey. We had Fall Harvest Fever this day after making the cupcakes and decided to also pick out our pumpkin. Jeffrey is my part time food photographer and also manages kitchen clean up crew. He’s a key role in my biz!

OK, back to baking! Combine all three ingredients and mix well! 

Line cupcake sheet with 12 cupcake holders and place mixture in each. You make 12 cupcakes out of 1 box of Trader Joe’s mix. 

Bake in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 45-50 minutes so they look like this…

Now, I decided to also “infuse” my cupcakes as well as ice them. It’s just a bonus surprise to give when your friends/family/critics bite into this piece of loveliness.  It’s so easy too. Just make some extra icing, buy a cheap piping bag with nozzle and insert into cupcake.  Using a mixer, combine the ingredients noted above for the icing. 

Ice the top of the cupcakes and then for the pralines:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheet with foil. Stir sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar melts and mixture comes to boil; boil 1 minute without stirring. Mix in pecans. Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet. Bake until sugar syrup bubbles vigorously, about 8 minutes. Cool praline completely. Break into pieces. Thanks to Epicurious for the easy praline recipe!

And you are finished! Perfect for the Fall season! 

Enjoy 🙂 

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