Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower, Shallots Prosciutto and Grapes

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The secret ingredient is always love.

Sheet pan dinners are all the rage but they have been around for generations of home cooks feeding their families.  Anything can be combined on a sheet pan for a one-pan dinner as long as most ingredients will cook in about the same time.  Chopping ingredients in similar sizes is important for even cooking and providing some fats for nice roasting is key to success.   I have been frustrated to see fussy sheet pan recipes popping up that require ingredients to be cooked on 2 pans at different temperatures or time settings.  Sort of defies the whole purpose in my eyes! Continue reading

Mediterranean Eggplant Dip

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Growing up in a French home, I don’t recall ever eating eggplant.  The first time I had eggplant was in college where I discovered ratatouille, a French classic, yes, but new to me.  I fell in love and learned to make it since I craved it often.  Then I was swept off my feet by my sister’s Italian inlaws’ stuffed eggplants.  My favorite countries to travel to? Greece, Italy and Turkey, where, you guessed it, eggplant figures prominently in their cuisine.

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Winter Grain Salad with Citrus, Dates, Cranberries and Cabbage

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“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”  Percy Bysshe Shelley

Grain salads are hearty and can be made with whatever you have on hand.  They are great to bring to potluck as they hold up well.  This one used a fabulous wheat berry grain from France but you could substitute Israeli couscous, quinoa or your favorite grain.  It is more a “how I made it” kind of post than a true recipe.

The grain is toasted before cooking it to bring out nuttier flavor, give it a nice toothsome bite and enhance its color.   I paired savory and sweet elements for balance and brought in plenty of crunch with shredded cabbage, celery, and pecans.  Feel free to substitute freely.  The citrus notes make the salad sing!  I can’t say enough about all the flavors you can develop by using flavored oils and vinegars.  The Meyer Lemon balsamic I paired with garlic olive oil from Cardenas’ in Philadelphia’s Italian market are incredible and appearing in all my winter salads right now.  Visit one of the popular olive oil tasting shops that are popping up all over right now and discover some new favorites to bring into your kitchen.  The nutritional value of this salad is off the charts yet it delivers an exciting explosion of flavors and textures to brighten a drab winter day.  You can easily add cooked chicken to the salad if desired.

(I’m trying to use my new iPhone for photographs instead of my iPad today.  Not sure this is an improvement!)

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Chicken with Cherries in a Red Wine Pan Sauce

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“Love doesn’t make the world go round.  Love makes the ride worthwhile.” Franklin P. Jones

February is often associated with cherry dishes in America yet cherries are not in season.  Why is that?  Well February is also when we celebrate Presidents Day and it is rumored that America’s first president, George Washington, cut down his parents’ cherry tree.  This story is nothing but a fable perpetuated by Parson Weem, a family friend and author, who thought the story would be a good moral tale to inspire the country’s young to tell the truth:  “I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet.” is the myth that has been oft repeated about George Washington.  American painter, Grant Wood immortalized Parson Weem’s Fable in his 1939 work of art of the same name.  The parson is in front of the curtain framing the unfolding moral tale.

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The myth of President Washington loving cherries endures and cherry recipes appear every February.  When Tasting Table published this chicken recipe from Iowa Girl Eats recently, I was smitten.   Continue reading

6 Enticing Desserts for Your Valentine

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Piglet:  “How do you spell love?”

Pooh:  “You don’t spell it, you feel it.”

Are you staying in for Valentines’ Day and  looking for a special dessert to impress your beloved?  Look no further!  I have compiled half a dozen recipes from my archives that are made for individual servings.  From decadent chocolate mousses to individual citrus cakes and a luscious Kir Royal Panna cotta or a champagne granita, these desserts are all tempting yet simple to make in advance and will appeal to all tastes.  Happy Valentines’ Day!

Decadent Gingered Dark Chocolate Mousse

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Balsamic Berry Chocolate Mousse

Champagne Raspberry Panna Cotta

Triple Lime Yogurt Mini Bundt Cakes

 Luscious Mini Lemon Mascarpone Cakes

Champagne Pink Grapefruit Granita

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Winter Squash Carbonara with Crispy Pancetta and Sage

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This carbonara is named for its rich and creamy sauce which is made from puréed squash without a drop of cream or a single egg yolk.  So you can indulge in comforting carbonara even if you’re still sticking to your resolutions to eat healthier foods! The sauce gets its silky texture from the squash which is cooked down with onion, garlic and a bit of olive oil in some chicken broth then puréed until smooth.  The pasta is tossed in the gorgeous golden sauce then crowned with pecorino, crispy pancetta and sage.  A bit of shaved pecorino and some toasted pine nuts(optional) are tossed on top just before serving.   I found this dish required more fresh ground pepper than usual to contrast with the sweetness of the squash. Comfort food with less guilt!

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A Valentine Craft: Making a Button Brooch

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When my middle son Stéphane was in elementary school, he made me a heart-shaped brooch which was adorned with buttons.  For years every single time I wore that brooch, people stopped me and commented on how pretty it was.  That brooch was one of my most cherished possessions.  Then I lost it.  Heartbreaking.  What’s a mom to do?  Well try to recreate it of course! Continue reading