Monday, December 29, 2014

Champagne Cocktail for New Years

Champagne Cocktail for New Years

Serving a Champagne Cocktail for New Years adds just the right touch to the last of the holiday parties. 

I wouldn’t consider making a cocktail out of a Veuve Clicquot or Moet-Chandon Champagne. Rather something with a lesser price point like Carousel Brut Blanc de Blancs or even a Prosecco. Be sure, though, to use one that is dryer. Sweet champagne is not your friend.

I learned a long time ago that champagne isn’t just for popping the cork at the strike of midnight - one night out of the year. If you dare, it’s really for that light refreshing drink to serve with appetizers; or even for a quick  sip of something light on a Sunday afternoon. 

Here’s your recipe.


3 parts champagne

1 part flavored simple syrup

1 star anise - for garnish


In your favorite champagne glass pour the champagne add the simple syrup. Garnish with spice and serve immediately.

For the Simple Syrup 

1C water

1C granulated sugar

1 Tbls of spice seeds or 1-2 Anise stars

Combine sugar, water and spice in a small saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off heat and let steep for 15 minutes or until cooled.  Separate spice from syrup with a sieve. Discard spice. Place syrup into a container that can be tightly sealed and refrigerate.  Refrigerate for up to one month.  Freeze for up to 3 months. 

Yields 1 cup.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Rustic Berry Pie = Last minute Holiday Dessert

By beth in Desserts
A Rustic Berry Pie = Last minute Holiday Dessert

This Rustic Berry Pie using strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and/or blackberries will be your Holiday go-to - henceforth. 

Yes, I’m getting this out to you a tad late. However, for the person on the go with little time to spare (you know who you are-LOL!), this recipe will take no time; a quick trip to the market for some beautiful berries and your favorite refrigerated pie dough. Add a little sugar and spice and your dessert will certainly be the sweetest holiday ending ever!

Here’s your recipe.


1 roll of refrigerated pie dough

1 C of fresh strawberries, clean, stemmed, halved

1 C of fresh blueberries

1 C of fresh blackberries or raspberries

2 tsps of freshly grated ginger

2 tbsp of turbinado sugar + 2 tsps

1 large egg, whisked


Pre-heat oven to 425°

Prepare a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.

Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap/roll and place on top of parchment paper; centering it in the middle.

Place back into fridge.

To make filling:

In a large bowl, gently toss all berries with sugar and ginger. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Take pie dough out of the refrigerator.

Pour berry mixture into the center of the pie dough leaving a 2-inch border around the outside edge.

Fold pastry edges over the fruit.

Brush the top outside layer of the pie dough with egg wash.

Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and the pastry is golden.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Yields 4-6 servings. 


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Cranberry Sauce = A No-Cook Holiday Add-On

Cranberry Sauce = A No-Cook Holiday Add-On

A no-cook holiday cranberry sauce? Who knew!?!? Well it seems the very smart women in my family did. This recipe has been handed down by my mother-in-law.

It is a recipe to make a few days ahead. And takes about 5 minutes from start to finish. 

With just a few ingredients, it’s simple, fresh & bursting with flavor! And it’s not just for Thanksgiving. Enjoy.

Here’s your recipe.


1 bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed & gently patted dry

1 small to medium size, seedless orange, cut into 6 pieces, skin on

1Tbsp of sugar + more if necessary


Place cranberries and orange pieces into a food processor.

Begin processing until all ingredients come together to form a puree;relish type consistency.

Taste. If the mixture is too bitter add sugar a little at a time (processing in-between & scraping down sides of processor) until the sweet level is perfect for you. This may take more than a tablespoon. The sweeter the orange the less sugar you will need or at all.

Use a spatula to remove cranberry sauce from processor. Place into a container you can seal tightly. It will last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Yields up to 10 small servings.


*A piece of fresh peeled ginger or a pinch of spice can be added for a festive flavor.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Marsala Mascarpone Tartlets = Holiday Dessert

By beth in Desserts
Marsala Mascarpone Tartlets = Holiday Dessert

Marsala Mascarpone Tartlets are the answer to serving a light and simple dessert over the holidays. 

All you need to do is stock your pantry with a few essential ingredients, use a minimal amount of elbow grease and you’re ready.

Next thing you know you’ll be the sweet envy of your holiday guests! 

Here’s your recipe.


1 tub of mascarpone cheese

1 Tbls of Marsala

1 package of miniature tart shells

Fruit to garnish.


Lay 12 tart shells side by side on your countertop. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the mascarpone and marsala and mix to incorporate. 

Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of mascarpone mixture into each tart shell.

Garnish with your favorite fruit.

Yeilds up to 12 miniature tartlet shells.


Minature tartlet shells can be found at your local market or speciality markets like World Market.




Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower - A Holiday Side

By beth in Sides
Roasted Cauliflower - A Holiday Side

Roasted cauliflower just makes everything better! But don’t take my word for it. Check out this simple recipe with only 4 ingredients.

It’s one of my favorites and a go-to for any everyday meal; not too mention for your holiday dining. It’s the perfect side dish!

Here’s your recipe.


4C of cauliflower florets, w/ 1-2” stem

1⁄4-1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

3tsp of kosher salt

1 1/2tsp of freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven 350°

Rinse, clean and gently dry the cauliflower.

In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with a 1⁄4 C of olive oil. If broccoli seems dry drizzle a little more until florets are moist.

Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the florets. Mix thoroughly.

Evenly distribute cauliflower florets on a baking sheet.

Pop into oven, middle shelf center.

Roast florets for 30 to 45 minutes or until vegetables are soft and caramelized. Take out of oven and cool. Arrange florets on a plate and serve.

Cauliflower can be stored refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Yields 4 side servings. 


Friday, November 21, 2014

Green Beans & Proscuitto Thanksgiving Side

By beth in Sides
Green Beans & Proscuitto Thanksgiving Side

This recipe is a Thanksgiving twist on green bean casserrole; Grean Beans & Proscuitto. My sister, Emily, introduced it to our family as a healthy alternative.

I was asked to re-publish it for your holiday table. It’s quick using simple techniques. 

And, as we say in our family, “It’s a keeper!” 

Here’s your recipe.




2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

4 very thin slices of proscuitto, julienne

1 of each: red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, sliced, seeded & julienne 

2 lbs. fresh green beans, blanched

1 - 2 Tbs pure maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 C pecans, rough chop & toasted




Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil and proscuitto and sauté until soft but not crisp. Remove from pan and place on paper towel to drain. Add peppers and sauté until just barely soft.

Add the beans and proscuitto to the peppers and sauté until heated through, season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle maple syrup to taste. Toss all ingredients together.

Place on serving plate and garnish with toasted pecans. Serve.


Yields up to 8 side servings.



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Slow Cooker Roast with Fall Root Vegetables #TBT

By beth in Main
Slow Cooker Roast with Fall Root Vegetables #TBT

Let’s all say it together, slow cooker roast with Fall root vegetables. It’s a mouthful and almost as toothy as it is fully cooked! 

When I was first married I recieved, what was then called a crock pot; 2 of them to be on point. I knew what they were. My mom, Carol, used her “red-brick” coverd one for soups, chili and such. I understood their value of convenience and one pot cooking.

For me, though, if I used one it meant I had officially become domesticed. My vision was one of a 20-something gal wearing a waist-tie apron, watching the clock for her husband’s arrive home, final dinner table touches, hearing the car come up the drive, quick lipstick application, big smile and then saying as the door opens, “Honey, you’re home.” 

I was a career oriented and on the move with no time for cooking. The crock pots quickly found a new home at the local Good Will.

Fast forward several years… I’m a bit wiser and more thoughtful towards the irony of a young woman’s silly perception! 

The truth is, and in today’s language, a slow cooker is the BOMB! 

Here’s your recipe.


3⁄4 lb of lean chuck roast

2 Tbls of olive oil

3 tsp of kosher salt

2 tsp of fresh ground pepper

14.5 ounce can of dices roasted tomatoes

4 sprigs of flat leaf parsley

2 sprigs of marjoram

4 sprigs of thyme

1 large bay leaf

6-8 baby carrots 

6-8 baby potatoes

1 small onion, peeled quartered


Sprinkle salt and pepper over all sides of chuck roast. Set aside.

Place a medium skillet over high heat. Pour olive oil into pan. As the oil heats up coat the inside of the pan. Once oil is heated through and almost smoking, gently place salted chuck roast in the pan. Cook each side (searing) until slightly caramelized. Put roast into the slow cooker. Add all other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Get messy!

Cover slower cooker with top. Turn heat on high and walk away. At 1 1⁄2 hours check and mix. Repeat once more. Cook for up to 4 hours or until roast falls apart to touch.

Serve immediately.

Yields 3 4-ounce roast servings with vegetables. 


Not all slow cookers cook alike. Take care in the timing and be watchful.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Lemon Rosemary Pan-Grilled Chicken

By beth in Main
Lemon Rosemary Pan-Grilled Chicken

Rosemary and lemon are the perfect flavor combination for seasoning a chicken for a Fall grill – indoors.

This is one of my go-to recipes for an everyday meal. It’s super flavorful and quick using simple techniques.

Here’s the recipe.


1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 -4 inch stems of rosemary

2 medium lemons, sliced into ½” pieces

2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper


Place chicken in a gallon size freezer bag. Set aside

Take the rosemary needles off the stem and roughly chop.

Place in the bag with chicken.

Squeeze lemon slices over the chicken and then toss into the bag.

Pour olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken, rosemary and lemon.

Push all the air out and seal the bag tightly.

Gently shake the bag, rubbing on the ingredients to distribute evenly.

Set on a plate or in a bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours to overnight.

Ready to Grill

Take chicken out of refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

Heat grill pan over high heat until pan is extremely hot.

Place each chicken breast top side down in grill pan.

Grill as high heat for 2 minutes.

Turn heat down to medium and grill for 1 minute.

Turn heat back up to high and immediately turn chicken over.

Grill at high heat for 2 minutes.

Turn heat down to medium and grill for 1 minute.

Finally, turn heat down to low and place a piece of aluminum foil over top of pan.

Cook for 3 more minutes.

Take off heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice Chicken against the grain into thin slices.

Serve immediately.

Yields 4 – 4 ounce servings

Note: Cooking time may vary depending on thickness of each chicken breast.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pearls in Your Mouth: Mediterranean Couscous Salad

By beth in Sides
Pearls in Your Mouth: Mediterranean Couscous Salad

My Mediterranean Couscous Salad is a crowd pleaser!

When I first stared making it, with Israeli or pearl couscous, years ago it was very hard to find in the mainstream market. Now all you have to do is meander to the pasta and rice aisle and you’ll find it.

You cook it just like pasta.  

Add a few fresh herbs and veggies along with some briny olives and tart vinaigrette, you’ll have yourself a super side dish.

Here’s the recipe.


2 C pearl couscous (another name is Israeli Couscous)

¼ C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ C chopped fresh mint leaves

¼ C chopped fresh basil leaves

½ C Calamata olives, pitted & sliced lengthwise

¼ C red bell pepper, minced

½ C green onion, thinly sliced

Zest of one medium lemon 


Bring one quart of water to a boil in a 3-quart, heavy saucepan.

Stir in couscous and simmer, uncovered, up to 10 minutes or until couscous is al dente (cooks just like pasta).

Drain couscous and transfer to medium bowl.

Pour ½ of vinaigrette (see recipe below) over warm couscous and stir to incorporate. Add parsley, mint, basil, bell pepper, olives, green onion and zest. Mix thoroughly.

Taste for flavor and texture.

Add more vinaigrette if too dry.

Add more salt and pepper for seasoning if necessary.


Yields 6-8 side servings.

*Refrigerator storage for up to one week in a tightly sealed container.


1/4C fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ C extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into a container and tightly seal.

Shake vigorously until all ingredients emulsify (combine).


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dinner for 2 = Sherry Glazed Beef Tenderloin Bites w/ Garlic & Parsley

By beth in Main
Dinner for 2 = Sherry Glazed Beef Tenderloin Bites w/ Garlic & Parsley

If you have a craving for a sumptuous piece of beef but are on a budget my Sherry Glazed Beef Tenderloin Bites with Garlic and Parsley recipe is just the ticket.

With just a pound of beef tenderloin, a few aromatics and some quick technique you’ll have an elegant dinner for two; in no time at all.

Here’s the recipe.


2 tsp of kosher salt

1 tsp of freshly ground pepper

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. beef tenderloin, 1in cubes

8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1⁄4 C Sherry

1⁄4 C rough chopped Italian parsley


Generously season beef with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a heavy bottom sauté pan, heat oil on high heat until almost smoking. Place beef into pan and sear. (Approximately 45 seconds).
Add garlic. Once you can lift pieces of beef up off the bottom of the pan easily, turn each piece over and sear other side. Cook meat until done to your preference.

Take pan off heat and pour in sherry. Shake pan gently.

Place back on heat (medium high) to deglaze pan. Reduce sherry by 1⁄4. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Transfer meat and sauce to a serving platter. Serve immediately.

Yields 2 main servings.



Monday, October 20, 2014

Everyday Garden Salad w/ Classic Vinaigrette

By beth in Salads
Everyday Garden Salad w/ Classic Vinaigrette

There is nothing like a super fresh green lettuce salad to accompany a hearty Fall meal. Add a vinaigrette with a mild acidic bite and you have a perfect foil that cuts through richness of stews, roasts and braised dishes.

Keep it simple and you’ll be set for every weekday meal.

Here’s the recipe.


4 C of mixed green lettuce, gently torn into bite size pieces.


1/4 C of red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp of kosher salt

1/8 tsp of fresh ground black pepper

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil


Fill a medium size bowl with lettuce. Set aside.

In a Mason jar or small plastic container, pour red wine vinegar.

Add kosher salt.

Seal tightly and shake vigorously (which will dissolve the salt).

Once dissolved, open and add ground black pepper and olive oil.

Again, seal tightly and shake vigorously until vinegar and oil have come together.

Pour 2 Tbsp of vinaigrette over lettuce.

Mix gently so that vinaigrette surrounds each piece of lettuce.

Add more vinaigrette if necessary.

Place on serving platter and serve immediately.

Yields 2 medium side salads.

*Sealed tightly the vinaigrette will hold for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Curried Yellow Squash Sauté

By beth in Sides
Curried Yellow Squash Sauté

Yellow squash is of the summer season. In fact, it is also known by its season, summer squash. So why would I offer you a summer ingredient as we embark on Fall?

First, it is available in the market. Second, I’m going to kick it up by adding a warming spice, yellow curry powder.

Yellow curry powder is made of some of the world’s most extraordinary spices and aromatics including but not excluding, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, garlic salt, bay leaf, lemongrass, cayenne, pepper, ginger, mace and cinnamon.

Yellow squash dusted with a bit of yellow curry powder is, quite frankly, a pair made in heaven.

A pairing that provides a bit warmth for cool Fall days.

Try it for yourself. Here’s the recipe.


1 lb fresh yellow squash

1 tsp yellow curry powder

¾ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp fresh ground pepper

3 tsp extra virgin olive oil


Cut stem and bottom off each squash.

Peel squash.

Slice squash into ¼” to ½” medallions and set aside.

In a medium bowl mix curry powder, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Place sliced squash into bowl with curry mixture.

Stir gently so that curry mixture coats both side of each piece of squash.

Heat a large skillet over high heat.

Add the squash and sauté for up to 1 minute.

Shake pan to move squash around.

Reduce heat to medium and sauté for up to 3 minutes or until squash is tender.

(Watch squash while cooking and gently stir as necessary.)

Take off heat, place on a platter and serve immediately.

Yields 4-6 side servings.

*Can be eaten at room temperature



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Fall Side Dish Foil = Asian Slaw w/ Sesame Seeds

By beth in Sides
A Fall Side Dish Foil = Asian Slaw w/ Sesame Seeds

Fall has arrived in Austin, TX. As such, I’m starting to think about rich, warming braised and roasted meats and all the yummy sides to go along with them. Hence, this is a recipe for Asian Slaw with Sesame Seeds.

This side is what we call a foil; a contrast in flavors, which in turn enhances its’ mate. In basic form it is just a cabbage salad. With the addition of cilantro, Asian seasoned rice vinegar and sesame seeds, however, it adds that fresh and tart bite giving it distinction.

Here’s the recipe.


3C of package slaw mix

1/4C rough chopped cilantro

1/2C red bell pepper, julienned

1/4C green onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp white/hulled sesame seeds

1 tsp black sesame seeds


1/4C seasoned rice vinegar

1/2C extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp of fresh ground pepper


In a medium bowl place slaw, cilantro, bell pepper and onion.

Mix gently and set aside.

In a Mason jar place all vinaigrette ingredients and cover tightly with lid.

Shake vigorously to incorporate all liquids together.

Pour half of vinaigrette on slaw and mix, coating all ingredients.

Add more if necessary and to taste.

Cover bowl tightly and place in refrigerator for up to 1 hour to overnight.


With a slotted spoon, spoon slaw from bowl to a decorative platter and serve.

Yields 6 side servings.

*May be stored in refrigerator for up to one week.



Thursday, October 09, 2014

Fall = Oranges & Chocolate

By beth in Desserts
Fall = Oranges & Chocolate

My friends from Salazon Chocolate Co. asked me to write a recipe for them. When I said YES (notice the caps) they sent me some chocolate.

I said yes because I really love chocolate and I’m a sucker for a new brand. So, while walking through Whole Foods Market their bars caught my eye.

It’s marketed to the outdoors person such as a hiker or backpacker; someone who needs a little extra energy after a long journey. There are several to choose from like72% Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt & Organic Cayenne and the one I’m using for this recipe:

Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt & Organic Turbinado Cane Sugar. 

This recipe is one that I’ve been using for years. One which came out of my love for Spain and tapas. It combines traditional Spanish flavors and makes for a light snack or dessert after a Fall meal.

Here’s the recipe:


1 large orange, seedless

1 Tbls of cinnamon

1 bar, Salazon Chocolate (Dark Chocolate w/Sea Salt &Organic Turbinado Cane Sugar) 


Slice orange in half between stem & bottom.

Slice each half. You now have 4 quarters.

Slice each quarter into ¼- ½” slices.

Arrange orange slices on a platter.

Sprinkle cinnamon down the center of each orange slice.

Break off pieces of the chocolate bar.

Serve immediately.


Yields up to 4 servings; 2 oranges slices per person & several pieces of chocolate.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Champagne at Harrods in London

By beth in Travel
Champagne at Harrods in London

There’s nothing quite like experiencing Harrods in London with a bubbling pink glass of champagne.

And I only just found out about it this visit.  

Today was all about going to some of my favorite shopping spots in London.  Luckily my husband, Mike, was game. We first meandered off toward Portabella Road for a quick look at Books for Cooks and a big round of walking and negotiating our way our the tube (London’s metro sytem).  With a great morning under our belt we made our way to the famous Harrods.  

Harrods takes up one full block of London real estate and has seven floors of pure shopping bliss.While some of my more fashion forward friends might make a day (or even a week) out of exploring, we had only a few hours. So, we hit the floors that offered what we wanted; shoes, men/ladies fashion and food.  

This is my third visit to Harrods and my first to taste champagne. While you can enjoy a respite in the food courts (and I suggest you do) for a bit of quite and calm make your way to the third floor.

Nestled between Lingerie and Designer Classics sits The Champgane Bar and Restaurant. And believe me, it IS the perfect sit-down break for weary world travelers.  

We had a glass of the Harrods Own Label pink champagne.  It was fabulous and just the right amount of bubbles to make a girl happy!  

Cheers from Harrods.


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