Top Ten Favorite Holiday Dishes for Easy Entertaining- Part One

During the holidays, most of my days are filled with making cookies by the thousands. By the time the weekend comes, I want to entertain and have my friends over, but I am pretty tired at the end of most weeks. That’s why I plan ahead to make having people over a breeze.

First of all I keep the meals really simple. Think Roast Chicken, wild rice and homegrown carrots from the root cellar.

Appetizers are easy spreads and breads that I have squirreled away from my trips to the gourmet stores.

Dessert is sometimes a production if I have energy or It’s fresh fruit and ice cream if I don’t.

Here are a few do ahead dishes that work great for easy dinner parties. Sometimes I let my guests bring things, but most often I tell them to just bring themselves and a nice bottle of wine.


Simple roast Chicken is always a welcome comfort of winter-

Martin’s Roast Chicken- By far the most popular post on my blog. It’s a winner for sure, and I love how it makes the house smell like chicken and garlic…

Lately, I have been roasting some local birds, it takes a little longer because the average is about 7 pounds, but the results are worth the wait.

Martin’s Roast Chicken, Photo by Dave Ballard

 Martin’s Famous Roast Chicken (click on title for link to post)


Keeping guests busy in the kitchen-

Risotto is a great dish for entertaining. Although it’s not a do-ahead, all the ingredients can be prepped ahead of time and assembled at the last minute. The main advantage of serving this dish is that gives that person that comes over that always wants to help in the kitchen.

With Risotto, you have to stand over it for about 20 minutes, adding stock. But you can have a glass of bubbly in your hand while you are doing it..

Wild Mushrooms are the best!

Wild Mushroom Risotto


Apres Ski Bowl of Green-

Vail Green Chile Pork Stew is fast becoming a favorite in our house. Great for a casual meal around a fire or a pot on the stove for drop in guests, it holds like a champ. I know it’s chilly outside to be entertaining, but bonfires are great reasons to have people over. You can eat it standing up with a chunk of cornbread on the side of the bowl. It’s great for after ski parties too. At our cabin in the woods, we have a lot of winter company and I make a big pot of Green Chile and serve it right by the fire for a late afternoon lunch.

Cook it until the potatoes are tender..


Vail Green Chile Pork Stew


It’s the Minnesota State Dish for a reason-

Hotdish- one word. Casserole for the non Minnesotans. Talk about a great do-ahead meal that warms the heart! I serve mine with a Louisiana Influence-  crawfish tail meat. It can be purchased at of all places Walmart. I serve with with home made crusty bread and a big green salad.  It works great for a crowd of say 10-15 people, just make a couple of them.

Crawfish, ready for the pot


 Crawfish Hotdish


Martini Chicken is perfect for a Mediterranean Dinner Party

This recipe can be totally done the day before and reheated. It’s the ultimate easy entree.

Great for pot luck dinners, as it can be reheated in the microwave. I make it with Chicken thighs. Meaty and full of flavor, they hold well while waiting for guests.

Martini Chicken


Martini Chicken


Stay tuned next week for more easy dishes for entertaining…

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Holiday Baking Marathon- Recipe for Cajun Cocoons

Florentine Cookies ready to eat…

It’s cookie baking season around the kitchen. Every year I embark on a cookie baking journey and sell them to local restaurants and caterers. I was taught by a local retired baker how to make these delicious spritz cookies.  I also throw in some Florentine lace wafers and cocoons AKA Mexican wedding cakes.  Down south my mama used to call them cocoons because they looked like a little cocoon. Here is the recipe, easy and delicious, it’s sure to please. They freeze great too..


Cajun Cocoons

A Louisiana favorite at Christmas. This recipe was from my mother’s cookie

Recipe collection.



 1 Cup unsalted butter- 2 sticks, softened


4  Tablespoons granulated sugar


3  Cups sifted flour All Purpose


2  Teaspoons of vanilla or almond extract


1.5 Cups pecans, chopped fine

Powdered sugar for rolling and dusting


1.  Cream butter and sugar together, blend in flour, extract and nuts slowly.

2.  Mix until a dough consistency.

3.  Roll into 2 inch cocoon like forms and bake at 325F for 15-20 minutes.

4.  Cool and roll in powdered sugar.





Ready for action!


Cajun Cocoons a must for the holidays

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Culinary Adventure: Crawfish Time in the Deep South…

Yep, It’s that time of the year again, time for me to make the pilgrimage to the deep south to do culinary research… Tough duty I know, but this is the best time of the year to eat crawfish and the best place to find them is in Louisiana. The local restaurant menus are brimming with mudbugs dishes, all fresh and delectable. Crawfish pies, Crawfish enchiladas, crawfish curry and crawfish tacos just to name a few of the dishes that pop up this time of the year.. Here are a few pictures from my last trip..

Crawfish Boulettes are a local favorite, tastes like huspuppies with crawfishCrawfish Boulettes- a local favorite that tastes like hushpuppies with crawfish tailmeat


Plate of boiled crawfish


Boiled crawfish are always served with mushrooms, corn and potatoes


My brother’s private crawfish pond in Louisiana, where I go crawfishing…


Many crawfish ponds alternate rice crops in the off season


Loading the boats


One of my brother’s custom crawfish boats. Perfect for the job!


The catch tray automatically sorts the crawfish, so the little ones go back


Here is our catch after about an hour


Like many shellfish, they need to be purged of the mud…



This is where they will meet their demise…



We often sit on the long porch waiting for the water to boil..


It’s time to feast- add a box of saltines, butter, and cocktail sauce for a long, delectable repast


When you are planning amounts for a crawfish boil, plan on 10 lbs of live per person…

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Invisible Chef Saves the Day- Mama Siena’s Tex Mex Chicken Hotdish and other Delights

This is a guest post from my good friend and author Ginnie Bivona who lives in Texas. She had been my editor and great inspiration for many years.. Down in Texas they call them casseroles, but we know of course the real name for this type of dish is Hotdish!  Enjoy


Lucky you. You just drew the black bean and now you’ve got to cook dinner for the entire family for somebody’s birthday or anniversary or whatever other reason… doesn’t matter. You are it.

It all started many thousands of years ago when Og and Ogette’s kids all grew up and moved into their own caves. Ogette got a little pensive, being alone and all, so Og had this great idea…”Let’s invite all the kids over for Mastodon Stew. That’ll be fun!”

And thus the tradition of the family gathering was written in stone, and has been so ever since. Now the plates are on your table.

Now listen to your chef…I am speaking from years of experience here…you don’t want to even think of planning a meal that requires even one second of last minute preparation. That’s why casseroles were invented in the first place. About all you want to do once the guests are due to arrive (even if you know your sister will be late…she always is) is to pour the dressing on the salad already prepared and sitting coolly in the fridge.

I just recently discovered this yummy casserole, and have already served it several times. Versions of it have been around forever. It’s delicious, easy to prepare, and can easily be made ready the night before. If you make it ahead, store it in a big bowl, and pat it out in the serving pan when it’s time to pop it in the oven.

Serve with a wild field greens salad tossed with pecan halves, green grapes halves and dressed with Marie’s No Fat Raspberry Salad Dressing. (No, they do not know I am saying that…I just happen to really like it!) Add fat slices of crusty hot bread and you are done!



Mama’s Tex-Mex Chicken Casserole


Casserole Ingredients:

4 cups Pepperidge Farm country style bread dressing (cubes, not crumbs)

2 cups diced cooked chicken

(cook chicken tenders or breasts in canned lo-fat chicken stock)

1 can (4.5 oz) diced mild green chilies, well drained

¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro

¾ cup diced red pepper

½ cup diced green onion

1 can Green Giant extra sweet corn, well drained



1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon Mama Siena’s Seasoned Salt (see recipe below)



1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese


Mix casserole ingredients in a large bowl. It’s easiest if you use your hands. What the heck, if Julia Child can do it, so can you. Mix sauce ingredients and blend well into casserole mixture. Spread in a large casserole, cover with foil and bake in a 350° oven until bubbly in the middle…remove from the oven and top with the cheese, bake a few more minutes until the cheese is nicely melted. Serves 8 generously. Leftovers freeze well.

If you want your casserole to taste like my casserole do not go messing around with changing the ingredients. You hear me?


Mama Siena’s Seasoned Salt


1 – 8 oz. jar of Cavenders All Purpose Greek Seasoning

4 tablespoons chili powder

2 heaping teaspoons ground cumin

1 ½ teaspoons ground oregano

4 teaspoons garlic powder

4 teaspoons paprika

Cayenne to taste

Mix all ingredients in a ziplock baggie. There…yer done. Put it in your biggest salt shaker, because you are going to use it on everything in sight. Potatoes, every way, scrambled eggs, veggies, meats, everything you would use salt on, use Mama Siena’s instead. Well, maybe not Ice Cream. But everything else.

Before you get started though, let me start with my favorite lecture. Always use fresh spices…I know, I know….you hate to waste the old stuff that has been on your shelf for years…but in cooking the old adage of “waste not” has new meaning. It’s waste not, taste not. You just cannot get good flavor out of old and flavorless spices. So go ahead, pitch ‘em and start fresh. You’ll be glad you did.


Here’s another great recipe for Mama Siena’s Seasoned Salt


Mama’s Deee-licious Party Pecans


1 pound (4 cups) pecan halves

6 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup packed brown sugar

4 teaspoons Mama Siena’s Seasoned Salt


Toss the pecans with the melted butter, mix the seasoned salt with the brown sugar (smashing out all the lumps) and toss the buttered pecans until well coated. Pre-heat the oven to 350° and spread the pecans out on a foil covered cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the sugar is bubbly and melted. Watch carefully, these can burn in a second. When they are done turn out on wax paper to cool and get crispy.

Whoo…these are soooo good! You are supposed to store ‘em in an airtight container, but I have never had them last long enough to do that. Put them in that salad you are going to serve, or just in a small dish and watch them disappear.


What good is a family party without a great dessert. And what dessert is better than good old Lemon Bars? I’ll tell you what…Three Fruit Bars! Even your persnickety old Aunt that never likes anything will like these! Make plenty…they will go fast!


Three Fruit Bars



1 ½ cups flour

½ cup confectioners sugar

¾ cup (1 & ½ sticks) butter


Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9X13 buttered pan with foil and butter the foil. In a medium bowl combine flour and sugar, and cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle mixture into pan and spread evenly. Pat firmly into pan to form a crust. Bake 20 to 22 minutes until lightly browned.


Three Fruit Topping:

1 orange

1 lemon

1 lime

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt


Squeeze two tablespoons of juice from each fruit, and grate 1/ teaspoon peel from each. In a large bowl beat eggs with an electric mixer until thick and lemon colored. About 2 minutes. Blend in remaining ingredients on low speed. Pour the mixture over the hot baked crust and bake until the filling is set, or pale golden around the edges. Sprinkle confectioners sugar lightly over filling while still warm. To serve place on a lace paper doily covered plate and top each piece with a small strawberry cut in three or four slices up to the stem and fanned out. This makes about 3 dozen squares.

You’ll blow their sox off. Trust me.

Want more great recipes?

Order Ginnie’s book online-

Got your copy of the hilarious Dirty Dining, A Cookbook & More for Lovers yet? Well, you need to! Great recipes & torrid romance, it’s Fifty Shades of Grey in your very own kitchen. Just don’t mention it to your mother. Unless you think she’d like a copy too.  E-book and in print: Amazon:

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Annual Al Dumancus Memorial Brunch at the DECC this Sunday

It’s that time of the year again- Time for the Annual Al Dumancus Memorial Brunch. It’s one of the few events that involves many of the local chefs from the community. We come together to raise money for local scholarships and the local food banks.

All the food is donated or purchased at cost and the brunch is one of the best in Duluth. The DECC always does a stunning job of decorating and there is live music from a jazz trio to lift your spirits..

Sunday March 24th, 2013

10:30 to 1:00 at DECC (Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center)

Tickets available at the door

or online at:

Brown Paper Tickets



Chef Paul Madsen treats us to his ice carvings




Of course Prairie Kitchen Scones are available..


Local Beets and Local fish


Always a delectable carved entree available


Now here’s something you don’t see everyday- A vegetable torta


Ebelskivers and Omelets made to order


Brunch would not be complete without a chocolate fountain!


Great place to satisfy your sweet tooth..

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Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner Makeover

Local Registered Dietitian and Certified Culinary Professional Paula Tsufis gave me this recipe for Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner made a little lighter. It’s a perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with friends.

Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner a Makeover Menu

Glazed Corned Beef with Cabbage and Carrots

Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce

Buttery Leek Mashed Potatoes

Dinner Rolls or Irish Soda Bread

Irish Beer

Store-Bought Shamrock Cookies or Mint Brownies

Irish Coffee

The Makeover

The flavor of a boiled corned beef dinner is fabulous, however sometimes the overall appearance is not.  Boiling then briefly baking the corned beef with a simple glaze so that is nicely browned and not overcooking the cabbage and other vegetables make this meal look and taste much more appealing.  Your family and guests will love the buttery leek mashed potatoes.  A sour cream horseradish sauce on the side adds a tangy and cool contrast to the boiled dinner.  Serve with some Irish Beer and finish off with Irish Coffee and some St Patty’s Day theme sweets.

Irish Food History

Glazed Corned Beef with Cabbage and Carrots

Yield: Serves 8-10

To print recipe click here

4-5 pounds corned brisket of beef
20 peppercorns and 2 bay leaves OR spice packet that comes with the corned beef

2 Garlic cloves, peeled (optional) and/or onion cut in wedges

Cold water to cover

8 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large head of dark green cabbage, cut into wedges
Chopped flat leaf parsley
Melted butter

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Place the corned beef in a kettle, add the peppercorns and cold water, cover, bring to a boil and simmer at least 3 hours or until the meat is tender, skimming occasionally.  The corned beef brisket may be also be cooked fat side up in a slow cooker with the same seasonings and 1 ½  cups water for 5-6 hours on High setting or 10-12 hours on Low setting or until fork tender.  Remove meat, glaze and bake.

Strain the cooking liquid so that spices and any scum are removed.  Add carrots. Cook 15-20 minutes or until carrots are tender, but not overcooked. Add cabbage wedges during the last 10 or 15 minutes and cook just until tender.  Place the baked and glazed meat on a platter and surround with the vegetables. Blend parsley with melted butter and spoon over vegetables.  Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Serve with Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce.

Corned Beef Glaze

3 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce

1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Mix the brown sugar, soy sauce, dry mustard and ground ginger together and spread over the cooked brisket.  Bake until the topping has set and turned golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Let the brisket stand for 15 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain.

Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce

¾ c regular or light sour cream

2 tablespoons prepared white horseradish (or more!)

Salt and pepper

Buttery Leek Mashed Potatoes

We’re all familiar with garlic mashed potatoes.  For a twist on that winning combination of potatoes with vegetables in the onion family, use leeks which are milder and sweeter and provide a yummy rich flavor.


2 pounds potatoes (6 medium), preferably russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2 leeks, white and part of the light green part only, sliced and washed free of grit

3 Tablespoons salted butter

½-1 cup half and half or low fat milk or buttermilk

Salt and black pepper

Saute leeks in butter and set aside.  Cook potatoes until tender and mash with sauteed leeks, cream or milk and salt and black pepper. Keep warm until serving.

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Avid Baker’s Challenge- Cherry Chocolate Pecan Bread

I am part of an on-line baking challenge and every month we all pick the same recipe to feature on our food blogs. This is a terrific experience to see how everyone perceives the same recipes. I have learned so many tips and tricks about baking in the short time I have been involved with it.

This month’s recipe was from the King Arthur website. A great baking resource if you have not seen it. At first I was not sure how the bread would taste, but it came out better than I expected. It reminded me of those expensive artisan breads you pay big money for at the coop.

Here’s how I did it-

I measure everything in my handy-dandy rubbermaid container. It’s part of their new line and it works perfect for one loaf of artisan bread

I have gotten quite attached to my danish dough mixer. It makes quick work of mixing


Here’s what the dough looks like when mixed and ready for the ferment


I used a 3 quart Oval pot, you can use just about anything that’s covered and sturdy

Some of the fruit did get a bit charred, but it was just on the outside, the inside was fine


Gotta love that no-knead formula, it works like a charm..


YUM I want to try it next with blue cheese, cranberries and nuts…


Recipe from King Arthur’s website- here is the link

 No Knead Chocolate-Cherry Pecan Bread

Place the following in a medium-to-large bowl:

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) rye flour, any type; pumpernickel is probably the most commonly available
1/2 cup (2 ounces) King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour or White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cool water

OK, first obstacle: you have neither rye nor whole wheat flour. Can you make this bread using 100% all-purpose flour?

We recommend using both, but yes, you can use 1 cup all-purpose in place of the rye and whole wheat. Or you can use 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, if you have it, in place of the rye.

How will the bread change? The flavor will be a bit less nuanced, it’ll look lighter in color, and you’ll be missing out on a bit of welcome fiber. But, like most recipes, it’s OK to amend to your own taste and circumstances.

Stir everything together to make a very soft dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; a clear shower cap is a handy choice here.

Let the dough rest at room temperature overnight, or for at least 12 hours; it’ll expand.

See the difference between the two middle photos above? That’s the kind of rise I’m talking about. Not crazy, overflow-the-bowl type rising, but slow and steady – which is what develops this bread’s great flavor.

Now, add the following:

3/4 cup chopped dried cherries or cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups diced pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

How do you toast pecans? Easiest way is simply to spread them in a single layer in a pan, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 6 to 8 minutes or so, until they’re starting to brown and smell “toasty.”

Knead the fruit, nuts, chips, and yeast into the soft dough. As you do this, try to keep the “add-ins” inside the dough; any nut, chip, or cherry poking through the top once you shape the loaf is likely to burn as the bread bakes.

Next: choose your pan. I’m going to use a 9? round cake pan here, as it’s a pan most people have. But if you have a stoneware bread crock or enameled-steel lidded Dutch oven (or a heavy, 4- to 4 1/2-quart oven-safe pot with lid), you can certainly use that. You might also try using a covered cloche.

Your goal here is to use a pan that can be covered – either with its own lid, or by another pan. The cover will trap steam as the bread bakes, giving the loaf its signature shiny, chewy crust.


One pan you don’t want to choose: a dark cast-iron skillet.

Well, why not? This loaf looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

On top, it sure does. But turn it over, and the loaf’s bottom crust is 1/4? of pure black char.

Take a lesson from one who’s baked this bread in cast iron: don’t go there.


Form the dough into a slightly flattened ball, and place it in the pan of your choice. Leave some room around the edge of the dough (photo, bottom left), as it’ll expand sideways as it rises.

Cover the dough (again, that reusable shower cap comes in handy), and let the dough rise until it’s noticeably expanded. If you’ve used a 9? cake pan, it’ll be close to hitting the edges of the pan.

This second rise could take only a couple of hours, or upwards of 5 hours or so, depending on the warmth of your kitchen, the weather, and the many other variables that affect yeast dough.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450°F. If you’re using a round cake pan, find a large oven-proof bowl, deep cast iron skillet, or something else that can serve as a cover for the bread. Keep in mind that it’ll rise a bit, so make sure your cover is tall enough.


Cover the bread; my 10? x 3?-deep cast iron skillet proved a suitable cover.

Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Remove the cover, and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread is golden brown.


The loaf’s interior should register 200°F to 205°F on an instant-read thermometer. If it’s not fully baked, return it to the oven – tenting it with foil or returning the cover, if necessary, to prevent over-browning.

When the bread is done, transfer it to a rack to cool.

Tempting as it may be, DO NOT slice into the bread until it’s completely cool! Doing so will make the sliced side of the loaf gummy.

OK, is it cool?

Slice away! See that nice open structure (read: lots of irregular holes)? Looks just like your favorite artisan loaf, doesn’t it?

And the flavor… the long, overnight rise, plus a long, slow rise once the loaf is shaped, gives the yeast a chance to produce organic acids and alcohol, both of which enhance the naturally nutty (though usually subtle) flavor of flour.




Changes I made in the recipe-

I only used 2 ounces of pecans

I used chopped dried cranberries instead of cherries because I live in the land of cranberries.

Is it a keeper? YES!!

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Prairie Kitchen Teaching Cooking Class Series in Twin Ports

 I will be teaching a series of Spring cooking classes at Johnson Mertz Appliance in Duluth starting March 18. Check out my new schedule below.

It’s a great night out for anybody who loves to eat..Lots of samples too!

Register on line at

Savoring the Season-


Early Spring season is one my favorite times of the year. The gardens are starting to think about waking up, we are thinking about flowers and we wait for the snow that laid a blanket of white cover across our region to say goodbye. It reminds us that it’s time to hunt and gather for the spring menus and get that grill out!


My classes reflect the emerging Spring entertaining season. This time I will focus on taking the hard out of healthy by introducing new recipes that reflect our changing eating habits. I will include favorite recipes made over with clean ingredients that are naturally delicious.


The popular Cajun class will be back with a new twist on timeless recipes from my travels, which will be sure to get you motivated to cook and embrace all things Cajun, but with less fat and calories.  Back from a recent trip out west, I have a file bursting with new ideas and stories for upcoming classes. A culinary trip to tropical Australia is on the horizon in late fall, so I will be sharing my recipes and dishes I have learned along the way so look for those on my recipe blog


I welcome the opportunity to share the spirit of the Spring holiday season with friends, family and students. I advocate in my classes to my students to relax when they think about entertaining and not to worry about being formal. Just have people over! Don’t stress about the dust bunnies, no one will care, they will be happy to have the time to relax and catch up on your life.


If you are looking for new ideas for Easter or Passover, be sure to sign up for our popular side dish class complete with ideas on how to lighten the holiday meal. With our global basket style classes, you will learn to embrace the savory cuisines of other lands and add them to your repertoire of recipes. I have added a new Dinner Rush class because with our busy lifestyles, quick cooking has become an emerging trend in stress free entertaining. You will also not want to miss our annual appetizer/dessert class, “Small bites, big flavors” which will feature practical  recipes that work well for parties not only at the holiday time, but all year long.

Whatever your tastes, you will find something fun and “edutaining” on our schedule.



How to register

All classes are first come, first serve basis. Registration can be made on line at or by mail. If you choose to register by phone and pay by check, you will be given a registration number, which should be written in the memo area of your check. Checks must be received within 5 days or your reservation will be canceled. Please mail checks to:

Prairie Kitchen Specialty Foods

23 West Central Entrance # 172

Duluth, MN 55811

For info call 218-269-7979

Cancellation Policy

All class reservations are non-refundable much like purchasing a ticket for a sporting or cultural event. If you find you are unable to attend, send a friend in your place.


Classes with insufficient enrollment will be canceled 7 days prior to the date. If we cancel because of a snowstorm, we will call you as soon as the decision is made and in both cases a full refund will be given.


What to expect from classes-

Classes are demonstration style and last aprox. 2 hours.

A “nosh” or sample of a related dish to the class will be served upon arrival.

All classes include food samples and recipe packet

Portion sizes vary between classes ranging between generous samples to ½ meal size portions.

Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. Temperatures change in the cooking studio, so you may want to bring a sweater or light jacket.

Please mark your calendars, as we do not send out written reminders.












Spring 2013 Class Schedule

Healthy Eating -Comfort Foods Make Over

Monday, March 18, 2013

6:00-8:00 p.m.

Demonstration Class $35.00


Tonight we will take classic recipes and give them new life with updated ingredients. Arlene will teach you an easy approach to planning meals ahead and cooking like a professional with the basics of shopping for natural foods. Her tips and advice on shopping will make you want to embrace comfort foods that satisfy the picky eaters.


Cauliflower Salsa with Homemade Crackers

Skinny Vegetable Soup

Martin’s Famous Roast Chicken- cook once eat 2 times

Turkey Shepard’s Pie


New Twists on Side Dishes for Spring Holiday Entertaining

Monday March 25

6:00-8:00 p.m.

Demonstration Class 35.00


There are certain side dishes that would cause a family mutiny if they were left off the menu like Grandma’s Jello salad or green bean casserole. However, if you are looking for a few good recipes to complement your  menu and spice up your big cooking day, join Arlene in this informative session that will have your family and friends talking. She will start with her signature All Seasons Salad that will win over the picky eaters. Everyone will love their vegetables with Moroccan roasted vegetables and a lightened version of the iconic Green Bean

Casserole.  Arlene will share her secrets to cooking and seasoning hams and show you how to make a quick fruit chutney to match the robust meats of the season. We will give a nod to Creole tradition with a Savory Bread Pudding . And because all of these items go great with Ham, we will serve it along side the dishes.


All Seasons Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

Moroccan Roasted Vegetables

Lighter Green Bean Casserole

Quick Seasonal Fruit Chutney

Mushroom and Spinach Savory Bread Pudding



Small Bites, Big Flavors

Appetizers and Desserts

Monday April 15

6:00-8:00 p.m.

Demonstration Class $35.00


Have your own Spring hootenanny  to shake off the late winter blues with this fun menu. Arlene will share some caterer’s secrets to hosting the perfect appetizer/dessert party. You will start the party off with a creamy Guacamole that never saw an Avocado, then move on to new techniques of roasting vegetables as appetizers. You will then learn the basic technique of substituting pumpkin in desserts and mastering the art of a vegan chocolate mousse that will make you swoon. Arlene’s recipes and tips for entertaining will guide you through the party planning process stress free and ready to party.


Sweet Potato Hummus

Chef’s Whim of assorted healthy Appetizers

Kale Chips and Roasted Carrot Fries

Asparagus Guacamole

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Brownie Points


Healthy Cajun Cooking- Making it Easy

Monday, April 29

6:00-8:00 p.m.

Demonstration Class $35.00


Get ready for a night in the big easy. Learn classic Acadian Recipes at the hands of an authentic Cajun ex-pat who just returned from a culinary tour of Louisiana. Recipes that have been passed down from her mama on to you will be featured in tonight’s class, along with some new ones. Learn the secret of a great Jambalaya, and master new dishes that will amaze your family and friends with less calories and fat than the original versions, but still has flavor!


Lean and Luscious Gumbo

Jambalaya with whole grains

Chef’s surprise menu- more to come after returning from Louisiana


Rush Hour Dinner- Week Night Cooking on the Fly

Monday May 13, 2013

6:00-8:00 p.m.

Demonstration Class $35.00


With the days getting longer we are all trying to get more done. Soccer team practice, after school activities and other duties don’t leave much time for preparing healthy meals on the run. Arlene will show you easy techniques and tips for weeknight cooking in a hurry and also cover some strategies for do-ahead prep on the weekend for the oncoming busy times during the week.


Chicago Chop Salad

Tortellini Primavera

Green Pizza

Quick Martini Chicken






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Veggie Open Faced Omelet Fits The Bill For a Healthy Breakfast

It’s hard to get vegetables in at breakfast. This recipe takes a little time, but well worth the effort. You can make it with egg whites to cut down the calories, but it’s delicious either way. We make this at our lake house on the weekends for a crowd, but you could easily cut it down to eggs for 2 if needed. Just use whatever vegetables on hand.. It’s a great way to clean out the fridge..

I like a mix of red and green peppers for color, but you can use any veggies that fit your taste


Just mix all the veggies together and toss them in a hot pan to sear and cook

They should look something like this when your are done cooking the vegetables

Pour in the egg whites and stir around, they will stick a little and get brown crusty bits, but don’t worry

Place the veggies back on the eggs

Add the Cheese on top and put the lid back on the pan

sprinkle the cheese on the eggs

Slice a wedge like a piece of pie, serve immediately

Veggie Open Faced Omelet

To print click here


2 Tablespoons olive oil divided or non stick cooking spray

1/2 red pepper, diced small

4-5 mushrooms, diced small

1/2 green pepper, diced small

3/4 cup celery, chopped small

1 green zucchini, diced small

2 cups egg whites

Salt and pepper

1/4 to 1/2 cup water for eggs

1/2 cup shredded low fat cheese


In a large non stick frying pan, over medium heat warm pan and add olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Saute all vegetables until soft, about 10 minutes. They will be translucent in color. Remove veggies and place on a plate on the side.

In the same pan, spray with cooking spray or olive oil and pour in egg whites. Add salt and pepper. Stir around until egg whites start to cook. When they start to set up, place the cooked vegetables in a thin layer on top of eggs and reduce heat to low. If they start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add the water and place a lid on the pan. Cook until eggs are firm. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the eggs and put the lid back on for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese.

Serves 6


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Cook Once, Eat 2 times- Stuffed Peppers with Lamb and Artichokes

I recently bought half a lamb and have been experimenting with all the ways of preparing  lamb. I slow cooked the roast and picked the meat off the bones. I then chilled it to remove the solid fat that floats to the top of the dish. I now have lamb meat to make numerous dishes for the freezer. One of my favorites lately has been stuffed peppers. My mama used to stuff peppers with dirty rice when I was a kid and I have always remembered that subtle taste of the cooked peppers and how sweet they were.

This recipe used what I had around- cooked rice, canned artichoke hearts, cheese, and a few other things-


Here is some cooked wild rice blend I had in the fridge, I mixed it with the cooked pulled lamb

I used green peppers, but any kind will do, just make sure they are fresh

I used artichoke heart quarters, give them a rough chop before adding

Add the shredded cheese

Give everything a good mix, it will be loose, but that’s ok

stuff the peppers, pack it in…

Top with shredded cheese- I used skim mozzarella

We spaced out and ate half the beauty shot, but this is the other half ready for the freezer


Lamb Stuffed Peppers

To print the recipe, click here

Makes 6 pepper halves

You can substitute ground turkey, beef or any other meat or meal alternative. Just cook it before you mix the stuffing.


3 large green peppers, cut in half and white insides removed

1 pound cooked lamb roast, cooked, pulled from bone and chopped

1 cup cooked wild rice blend

1  14 ounce can artichoke hearts, chopped

1 cup skim mozzarella cheese, divided

Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare green peppers and set aside. Mix cooked meat, rice, artichoke hearts and half the cheese in a large bowl until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff mix into all 6 peppers, place peppers in a 2 quart casserole dish.

Top peppers with remaining cheese. Pour 1/2 cup of water in bottom of casserole dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour until cooked and cheese is melted.

Take foil off and bake a few more minutes to brown the cheese.

These freeze great!

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