Red, White and Blueberry

More Memorial Day, Fourth of July (or any Sunday morning) fare ... fresh blueberry muffins.  They are quick and easy and really moist and delicious.  The secrets are sour cream, nutmeg and cinammon.  From start to finish, less than an hour. Here's the recipe:

  Preheat oven to 400ª. Bake at 350ª.

·           1 stick butter, melted
·           ¾ c. sugar plus additional for sprinkling muffins
·           2 large eggs
·           1 ½  tsp. vanilla
·           1 cup sour cream
·           2 cups flour
·           ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
·           ½ tsp baking powder
·           ½ tsp baking soda
·           Ground cinnamon for sprinkling muffins
·            2 cups fresh blueberries

 Mix wet ingredients
·          Cream butter and sugar with hand mixer
·          Beat in eggs, one at a time
·          Beat in vanilla and sour cream

  Mix dry ingredients
·           Sift flour
·           Stir in ground nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt

·            Stir wet into dry ingredients
·            Fold in blueberries

  Spoon into 12 muffin cups, sprinkle tops with mixture of cinnamon and granulated sugar.

  Reduce heat in oven to 350. Bake @ 350 degrees for 25 minutes, until golden brown, or until
  toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.

·           Add 1 ½ cups grated apples instead of blueberries
·           Add chopped pecans to topping
·           Fold in 1 ½ cups mashed bananas and ½ cup walnuts to batter
·           Use raspberries instead of blueberries


Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers

Not for the faint of heart or appetite, our blue cheese stuffed burgers, topped with caramelized red onion and sautéed cremini mushrooms, are a hearty dinner for Dads on their special day, and anyone else who loves burgers!  The magic of this meal is the complexity of flavors created by use of spices and herbs. It's easy! Here's how we did it:


1 lb ground beef
1/3 c seasoned breadcrumbs
4 T crumbled blue cheese
Salt & pepper
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 red onion, sliced very thinly
Butter and extra virgin olive oil for sautéeing
Pinch granulated sugar for caramelizing
Whole wheat hamburger rolls (optional)
Vine ripened or heirloom red tomato (optional)
Dry white wine for deglazing
Pinch each of oregano and thyme for seasoning
Onion and garlic salt for seasoning

1. Mix breadcrumbs into beef. Divide into four sections.
2. Add 1 T of blue cheese into center of each patty, fold over and seal.

3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano. Set aside.

4. Heat sauté pan with 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil. Thinly slice red onion, and add to hot sauté pan. Sauté until limp, then deglaze with white wine. When wine has evaporated, lower heat, and allow to sauté gently until brown and caramelized.

5. In another sauté pan, heat 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil. Add chopped creminis, and sauté until until soft (about 7 minutes). DO NOT ADD SALT OR PEPPER until cooking is complete. It will rob the mushrooms of their natural flavor. When mushrooms are done, sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Set aside.

6. In third sauté pan, heat 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil and add burgers to hot pan. Sprinkle with more salt, oregano, onion salt and garlic salt. AlsSear 6 mins on one side, flip and another 5-6 minutes on the other side.

7. Serve on toasted whole wheat buns. Note: Adding tomato slices on bottom of bun will absorb juices of burger and "cook" the tomato. Absolutely delicious!

Serve with a green salad and watch them disappear!


Here's an authentic, spicy dish you can make in less than an hour!  We love it served with rice and a high-quality mango chutney. Garnish with a spritz of lemon and chopped cilantro. A sure winner, weeknight or weekend!

2 tbsp oil
2 c onion, chopped finely
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1/4 to 1/3 c heavy cream

Spice mixture
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp celery seed
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped


1. Sauté onion in oil until translucent

2. Add tomatoes, chicken, spice mixture and sauté for 15 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.

3. Add cream, reduce heat to low, and sauté until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Serve over rice, with a high-quality mango chutney.  

Garnish with a spritz of lemon and chopped cilantro. 

Enjoy with a sparkling Reisling or Kingfisher beer!

Springtime Lamb Stew

"Marie avait un petit mouton..."

When my husband was a child, his NYC teacher asked the students to recite something in front of the class. His mom, a French American, helped him to memorize the French version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Translated, "Marie avait un petit mouton." 

We remember this cute little nursery rhyme fondly while making a delicious French lamb stew. This dish is from his mom's recipe book.

Nothing says French like an authentic French stew, especially on a cold springtime day, and this one adds a twist that keeps all of the flavor locked into the stew. Here we took license with the original French country recipe, by adding the peas as a side rather than incorporating into the stew, and by creating a buttery mash of pommes de terre au persil (parslied potatoes) as an accompaniment. This version retains all of the hearty meat and mushroom taste, and puts us in mind of Provençal forests, while adding perfect accents with potatoes, parsley and peas.

This recipe will take a few hours to prepare, so give yourself ample time some morning or afternoon and enjoy the process, as you lovingly craft a dinner with complex flavor for cherished family and/or friends that they can't get just anywhere. As with most soups or stews, for some reason this one tastes better after it has been cooled and reheated, or the next day.

It's a wonderful dinner to serve, feels very elegant and makes you appear an accomplished cook, especially when accompanied by a fine beaujolais and crusty baguette.

2-3 lbs. lamb steaks (round bone), cut into 1-2" pieces
1/2 to 1 c. hearty red wine (use only wine that you would drink at table!)
3 tbsp. flour
2 medium onions, chopped coarsely (about 1 cup)
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in butter
1 lb. carrots, cut into 2" pieces
1 lb. frozen peas
4 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into thirds 
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped coarsely
4 - 6 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. freshly chopped thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Sauté the mushrooms in 1-2 tbsp. butter and olive oil until deeply browned and set aside.

2. In a large dutch oven, add 1-2 tbsp. butter and sauté the lamb in stages so as not to cool down the pot, until richly browned and leaving a fond or tiny bits on the bottom of the pot.
These are the crusty, caramelized bits you want to render from the meat; they are called the fond.
They will add flavor and character to your stew.

3. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the juice of the meat, sauté the onion and garlic until wilted and soft, about five minutes, stirring frequently. 

This is how your onions will look after you've added the wine and the slurry.
4. While the onion is cooking, make a
slurry of 2-3 tbsp. flour and very hot water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the flour completely. Add to the cooked onions and stir until well incorporated.

5. Add back the meat, add in the carrots, mushrooms, bay leaf, thyme and stir well to incorporate.
6. Add more wine, about 1/3 cup. 
7. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stir to incorporate, lower heat and simmer on low heat, stirring every 10 - 15 minutes or so, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot.
8. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, boil the potatoes in salted water.
9. When the potatoes are cooked (about 10 minutes, or when a fork slides through easily), drain and mash in same saucepan, using a fork or a potato masher. Add 2 tbsp. butter and freshly chopped parsley, mix and set aside.
10. Prepare the peas according to package directions, and when cooked, add butter, salt and pepper to taste.
11. After a few hours, check the stew and adjust flavorings to taste.
12. Serve with peas and potatoes, crusty bread and a hearty beaujolais.  Bon appetit!

Chicken Soup for a Winter that Won't End

"Snow is cold, rain is wet, chills my soul right to the marrow ..." Carole King

If you're suffering the slings and arrows of an outrageous spring, with snow and wind and weather that resembles January rather than April, here's a way to warm it up inside. Put on a pot of chicken soup! It is a perfect dinner, rich and delicious lunch, pairs perfectly with crusty bread, white wine and pasta/noodles. It's easy (easier than it looks!) and can serve six or more. Just put it into the pot and let it simmer! Top with grated parmagianno reggiano or your favorite oyster crackers.

Total cooking time – about 3-4 hours including prep


1 whole air-cooled or air chilled chicken (about 3 lbs)

1 large onion, quartered

3 stalks celery, cut in half lengthwise and then into 3” pieces

1 lb. carrots, cut into 3” pieces (or get the small ones in bag)

1-1/2 cups College Inn chicken broth

3-4 chicken bouillon cubes

6 cups water (be sure the water is warm or hot before you add it to the pot – I use cold water out of the tap, put the bouillon cubes with the water in a measuring cup, and microwave it for a minute or two, then add to the pot)

Salt and pepper (I use French Sel de Mer and freshly ground pepper)

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. high quality organic olive oil

Bouquet garni – 6 cloves garlic, 10 sprigs fresh parsley, 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme), 1 tsp. herbes de provence – wrapped up tightly in cheesecloth


1. Into a large stock pot, heat butter and olive oil.

2. Salt and pepper chicken, and place whole chicken upside down in butter/olive oil,

3. Sear until browned. Turn chicken and sear on the other side.

4. Add onion, celery, carrots, broth, water, bouillon cubes, bouquet garni. Be sure the liquid covers the chicken almost completely.

5. Simmer on medium for about three hours. Watch the pot, maybe put a lid askew on it so that all the steam does not escape.

6. As it is simmering, you might want to add a little dried thyme to the top of the chicken and/or more salt and pepper.

If you use the air cooled chicken, there is (magically!) no scum to skim!! The best chicken ever!

7. When the soup is done, remove the chicken from the pot and debone it. Throw away the bones and put the chicken back into the pot. 

Serve piping hot with bread, buttered noodles, salad or just by itself. 


The Perfect Springtime Dessert

If you've eaten at Joe's Stone Crab in Miami, you'll know about their famous Key Lime Pie, just the best there is. They've generously shared their recipe online, and we are big fans ... making it frequently. It's a hit with young and old.

Here's the recipe. Thank you, Joe's!


Graham cracker crust

1 cup plus 2-1/2 T graham cracker crumbs
5 T unsalted melted butter
1/3 c sugar


3 egg yolks
Zest of one lime (1-1/2 t)
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
Juice of 3'1/2 to 4 limes (2/3 cup) freshly squeezed


1 c heavy whipping cream, chilled
3 T confectioners sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Butter a 9" pie plate
3. Break up graham crackers, place in processor and process to crumbs.
4. Add melted butter and sugar and pulse until combined.
5. Press mixture into bottom and up the sides of the pie plate, forming a neat border around the edges.
6. Bake until crust is set, approx. 8 mins.
7. Set aside on a wire rack; leave oven on.

1. In an electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at high speed until very fluffy, about 5 mins.
2. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3-4 mins longer.
3. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing until just combined.
4. Pour mixture into crust and back for 10-15 mins., or until filling has just set.
5. Cool on wire rack, then refrigerate.
6. Freeze for 15-20 mins before serving.

1. Whip the cream and confectioners sugar until nearly stiff.
2. Pipe or spread onto pie.
3. Serve in wedges, with slice of key lime if desired.

Note: This recipe was originally published by, © 2017 Scripps Network.

Whole and Hearty Asparagus Pizza

This delicious whole wheat pizza is a wonderful addition to your spring menu, and works equally well as an hors d'oeuvre or entrée.  It's also a savory, healthy alternative to store-bought pizzas that are loaded with preservatives, sodium and additives. Make it a wonderful, heart-healthy vegetarian pizza by eliminating the bacon; you will still retain depth and complexity of flavor. It gets its name from using whole wheat pizza dough, and its hearty list of ingredients: mushrooms, onions, two cheeses and roasted fresh asparagus spears.  4-6 servings, or more for hors d'oeuvre.
  • 1/2 lb fresh asparagus
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large sweet onion
  • 4 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms
  • Whole wheat or white pizza dough
  • Olive oil
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and cut into small pieces (optional)
  • 6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tbsp grated or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Spread fresh asparagus on baking sheet with sides. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Mix well, using hands. Spread out in single layer. Bake 10 minutes.

3. While asparagus is roasting, slice sweet onion thinly and saute in 1 tbsp of butter until caramelized, about 10 minutes, then set aside.

4. Slice mushrooms; saute in 1 tbsp of the butter until they give up their liquid and are browned, about 10 minutes; set aside. 
5. Prepare the pizza dough by rolling out on a floured surface, transfer to pizza baking sheet brushed lightly with a little olive oil, and brush dough lightly with more olive oil.

6. Cut cooled asparagus into 1-2 inch pieces. Layer ingredients onto dough in this order: caramelized onions, bacon pieces, mushrooms, asparagus (in a pinwheel arrangement, if desired), mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, until dough is crusty and browned on edges, and cheese has melted.

Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Goes really well with a crisp Pinto Grigio or Reisling!