Jan 162012

This easy dessert had them licking the bowl during cooking club. I do mean the bowl not just the spoon  😆 . It is one of the quickest and easiest desserts you will ever make. It is a classy dessert that the beginner cook could easily serve. It is the perfect dessert to impress at a dinner party. You don’t have to tell anyone that it was a quick and easy recipe.


8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh Strawberries (use as many or a few as you would like)

Mascarpone is just a sweetened Italian cream cheese. It’s a little denser of a product, and it has a silkier, smoother finish. Just like you would whip cream, you’re going to use a stand-up mixer. Add Mascarpone cheese and turn mixer on the lowest setting. Add half a cup of powdered sugar and one tablespoon of vanilla extract . Stop the mixer and with the spatula to scrape down the sides and make sure everything gets smooth and incorporated. And that’s it, mascarpone already is a pretty dense product so you really don’t have to give it much whipping. Mix for a few seconds more and then spoon out just a little dollop right in the middle of the bowl and I use some fresh strawberries right over the top and I just drizzle a little bit of honey. You can taste every strawberry. Feel free to substitute other berries.

Jan 162012

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 15 min

Level: Easy

Serves: 6 servings


36 slices (1/2-inch thick) baguette bread, about 1 loaf
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces Gorgonzola, sliced
3 tablespoons honey


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the sliced baguette on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Arrange the cheese on the toasts and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Drizzle the toasts with honey. Place on a serving platter and serve immediately.

Jan 032012

Pasta and Chicken are always a favorite at my house, and this dish is no exception. The fresh tastes of the tomatoes and basil come through. Using a store bought chicken broth makes this recipe ideal for the beginner cook; however, for an even better flavor, you might try making your own broth by simmering a whole chicken.

CQ- Chicken Penne Al-fresco

4 Garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
3 cups uncooked mezze penne pasta
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine such as Chardonnay
1/2 tsp each salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, divided
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup packed)
2 cups diced grilled chicken breasts
Additional grated fresh Parmesan cheese and coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

Spray baker with olive oil spritzer. Slice or press garlic into baker  Add tomatoes. Cover; microwave on HIGH 4-5 minutes or until tomatoes begin to burst, stirring after 2 minutes. Crush tomatoes. Add pasta, broth, wine, salt and black pepper.
Return baker to microwave; cover and microwave on HIGH 16-18 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring after 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop basil. Reserve 2 tbsp for garnish. Grate cheese.
Carefully remove baker from microwave and remove lid, lifting away from you. Add remaining basil, cheese and chicken to baker ; mix well. Garnish with reserved 2 tbsp basil, additional Parmesan cheese and black pepper, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutrients per serving: Light (about 1 cup): Calories 240, Total Fat 2.5 g, Saturated Fat .5 g, Cholesterol 25 mg, Carbohydrate 35 g, Protein 17 g, Sodium 450 mg, Fiber 2 g

Cook’s Tips: An additional 3/4 cup chicken broth can be substituted for the wine, if desired.

Any tube-shaped pasta requiring 9-11 minutes cook time, such as penne or rigatoni, can be substituted for the mezze penne pasta.

To grill chicken in a Grill Pan, season 2 chicken breasts, about 6 oz each, with salt and black pepper. Heat Grill Pan over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Spray pan with oil. Cook chicken 4-6 minutes or until grill marks appear. Turn chicken over; cook 4-6 minutes or until center of chicken is no longer pink and Digital Pocket Thermometer registers 170°F.

Another favorite chicken recipe of mine is Chicken Bourguignon with White Wine

Jan 032012

Most of us have found some sort of Italian cuisine that has become a favorite for our families and ourselves. Unfortunately, far too many of us discount the possibility of bringing Italian cooking into our very own American kitchens for fear that many of the recipes are far too difficult. Learning to cook Italian food just might make your home the favorite drop in dining spot for friends and family all over.

Believe it or not, most great Italian recipes have an easier version that can be made with very similar effects when it comes to flavor and aroma. Also, despite the commercials of old, all Italian cooking does not require an entire day of simmering in order to achieve great flavor. You do not have to let your friends and family in on that little secret though.. You do not have to let anyone in on your best-kept secrets when it comes to preparing these often simple dishes.

The biggest challenge that most Americans face when it comes to Italian cooking is basically learning a new set of essential ingredients. The cheese, meats, or grains that are used in their creation most often identify or define Italian cuisine. It’s the combination of these primary ingredients that create some of the most distinctive flavors on earth. Learn about these ingredients. Identify the flavors and study the combinations of flavors and you should be able to not only follow many great Italian recipes but also to invent a few of your very own Italian inspired recipes.

The greatest thing when it comes to cooking Italian food is that most of these dishes are rather difficult to destroy. This of course does not indicate that it cannot be done, only that it isn’t as simple as with some of the more delicate cuisines around the world. Italian food is durable and flavorful but for the most part not too terribly delicate when it comes to flavor. You can go a little heavy with some spice or cheese without completely ruining the dish in most instances. If you are anything like me, this is a regular occurrence when cooking and one of the reasons I enjoy cooking Italian food so much. Fresh ingredients is the key to an authentic Italian meal. Fresh herbs like basil can be purchased in most chain grocery stores. You don’t have to grow it yourself or even stop by a farmer’s market. Fresh basil, fresh garlic and some good quality extra virgin olive oil and you are well on your way to success.

Another thing you should keep in mind when cooking Italian food is that nothing seems to bring out the flavor of Italian food better than a good bottle of wine to match. Perhaps this is the reason that it is difficult to ruin an Italian meal, no matter how bad it is, the good wine paired with it, will erase all ill will and tastes in very short order. You will want to spend a little time researching and studying the science (though some will argue that this is truly an art form) that goes along with pairing a good bottle of wine with the right flavor combination when it comes to Italian cooking. Once you’ve mastered this, there is nothing to prevent you from being the diva of all things Italian when it comes to food preparation.

The most important thing for you to remember when cooking Italian food is not to take the cooking too seriously. Good Italians know that the enjoyment of the meal is far more important than the process of preparing the meal. Make your meal an event with plenty of time for pleasant conversation and enjoyment of your company in between courses. You should also never rush a good Italian meal or you will find that all your efforts cooking Italian will be for naught as the true pleasure of Italian cuisine has been lost somewhere in translation. For now check out this extremely easy “Grilled Chicken Penne al Fresco” that is posted on my site – more will come later.