Art of Local Food Dinner Feb. 28 in Duluth Lets Local Talent Shine

The Duluth Community Garden along with the Arrowhead Professional Chef’s Association will be holding a special local foods dinner on Feb. 28 at the Depot. Favorite area chefs will combine talents to feature ingredients that are obtainable within a 150 mile radius of the Twin Ports Area. This is a joint fundraiser for both groups.


The Art of Local Food~Thursday, Feb. 28th, 6:00pm
Enjoy an evening of fun and great food while supporting the Duluth Community Garden Program and the Arrowhead Chefs Association. You will be treated to a 5 course gourmet dinner created by local chefs featuring products from local farmers. There will be a cash bar featuring local and organic wine, beer and spirits. Bid on silent auction items featuring visual, culinary and gardening arts.

The Duluth Community Garden Program provides land, knowledge and opportunity around growing healthy local food, especially focussed on Duluth’s schools and low income neighborhoods.

The Arrowhead Chefs Association serves the regional community by coordinating events to raise funds for area food shelves, educational development for our members, a scholarship program, and numerous other causes.

Tickets are available at this link:

The Duluth Depot Great Hall (View)
506 West Michigan Street
Duluth, MN 55802

Posted in Local Food Producers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Art of Local Food Dinner Feb. 28 in Duluth Lets Local Talent Shine

Valentine’s Day Treat- Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Looking for a unusual treat for your sweetheart on Valentines Day? This silky smooth mousse made from ripe avocados will fit the bill for a unique taste for your love.

It’s raw diet friendly, vegan and vegetarian diet acceptable. The recipe below serves about 10 but you can easily cut it down for two or bring some to the office the next day. It can be made a day ahead and your date will never guess what’s in it.



Make sure your avocados are ripe, but not over ripe.


Use a good quality cocoa powder, it does make a difference- Ghirardelli Natural Unsweetened cocoa is a good choice and available at Target.



Puree until smooth, really smooth…

Add the flavorings and you are good to go!


Chocolate Avocado Mousse

This recipe can be made with any amounts of avocado, just keep adding cocoa and sweetener until it tastes like you want it to…

To Print the Recipe Click Here

Serves 10

Can be made a day or two ahead.

5 Avocados, peeled and diced

1 cup of good quality cocoa powder

Agave Syrup to taste (about a half of cup) or Honey of you prefer

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of one orange

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pint of Raspberries for Garnish (optional)

In a food processor puree avocados, cocoa powder and sweetness of choice. Add vanilla extract, orange and salt.

Place in container in Fridge until ready to serve. Scoop into pretty glasses and garnish with raspberries. Then play the guessing game with your guests of “Guess what the dessert is made of” Unless you give them hints, they will NEVER guess. Trust me.



Posted in chocolate, Desserts, Gluten Free Adaptable, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Valentine’s Day Treat- Chocolate Avocado Mousse

For The Big Game: Sriracha Sesame Cream Cheese Spread

This recipe is a twist on the tired cream cheese spread that adorns most tables during the super bowl. Simple, spicy and delicious, you can’t go wrong with this one. I recently saw it at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, the Kikkoman folks were there with this recipe and it stood out above the hundreds of cheese selections presented. Sriracha is a hot chili sauce that adds zip to just about anything you want. This recipe is also a good way to use up those toasted sesame seeds in the spice cabinet.

Here’s how to do it:

I used a 3 ounce piece of block style cream cheese, you could use the whole block, just double the marinade portion for a crowd.


I threw in a few black sesame seeds I had in the spice cabinet, the recipe will work just fine with toasted white sesame seeds.

I marinated my cheese block overnight and turned it a few times.



All dressed up and ready for the game!

To print the recipe only, click here

Sriracha Sesame Cream Cheese

Adapted from KIKKOMAN


3 ounces cream cheese block style

2 Tablespoons Gluten Free Soy Sauce

2 Tablespoons Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Assorted Crackers or Crudites

In a quart sized plastic bag, place cream cheese in the bag and add the soy sauce and Sriracha sauce. Marinate at least 3 hours, overnight is better. Turn the bag to coat the cheese on all sides. Roll in sesame seeds, place on serving dish and serve with crackers or fresh veggies. Sit back and wait for the complements to roll in..

Posted in Appetizers | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on For The Big Game: Sriracha Sesame Cream Cheese Spread

Pumpkin Squash Lentil Stew Warms the Heart

There is nothing more tasty than the creamy goodness of pumpkin. With the convenience of canned pumpkin anytime of the year, this soup is easy to make in the crock pot or on the fly at home. The added lentils make it a bit more hearty and adds some protein.

I top it with nuts, sunflower seeds or yoghurt, depending on the pantry inventory


Pumpkin Lentil Soup

This recipe freezes great.

Serves 8-10


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling

2-4 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash depending on how much you want

1 cup green or red lentils, rinsed

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated, or 1 teaspoon ground

1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

salt and pepper to taste

chopped nuts or seeds for garnish



In a large dutch oven, saute onion in olive oil until soft, about 3 minutes. Add squash, cook for about 10 minutes until it begins to soften, adding stock as needed. Add pumpkin, lentils, spices and rest of stock. Let simmer one hour until lentils soften. If you added a lot of squash and the mixture seems thick, thin out with water or stock. Add salt and pepper and adjust seasonings to your taste buds.

You can cook this dish in a crock pot, just toss all ingredients in and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add the nuts at the end for garnish in each bowl.


Posted in Gluten Free Adaptable, Soups, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian Entrees | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pumpkin Squash Lentil Stew Warms the Heart

Pacific Rim Grilled Steak

I love to grill in the Winter. It makes me feel like I am defying mother nature. Every Fall we move the gargantuan gas grill up four steps so it can be closer to the patio door. At least once a week, we are out there grilling like we lived in sunny Florida. Grilling gives meat such a smokey, charred flavor that you can’t get inside.

Flank Steak is a easy steak to grill. The key is to let it rest before serving at least 10 minutes.

I always have a really sharp slicing knife on hand and cut it at an angle, slicing it thin as possible.

This steak has a simple marinade that I mixed a few hours before it went on the grill.

I marinated it in a plastic bag, it just sits in the fridge until I am ready to grill.


It’s important to let the steak rest for 10 minutes…


Slice with a sharp knife as thin as you can get it..

Pacific Rim Grilled Steak

To print, click here


1 Flank steak (about 2 pounds)

Marinade Mix

2 Tablespoons garlic

2 Tablespoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground coffee

2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons honey ginger vinegar (from the Rustic Olive oil and vinegar store)


Place all marinade ingredients in a gallon plastic bag. Place the steak in the bag and massage the meat, getting all of it covered with the marinade. Place in the fridge until 1 hour before cooking.

To cook, heat grill to medium, and grill until desired doneness. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Serves 5-6




Posted in Meat Entrees, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Local Treasure- Cake Occasions Bakery Moves to Central Entrance Location in Duluth

A couple of years ago, I judged a cake contest sponsored by a local magazine. I was impressed with the winners, and I am happy to report, they moved on to open a retail bakery in Duluth. They focus on special occasions but make delicious cup cakes and cake slices for drop in customers. Recently they moved to a new location on Central Entrance right in the middle of the action. I stopped by the other day and bought my favorite red velvet cupcake which I ate before I even got out of the parking lot. Owner Amber Griffith is at the range baking up fresh cupcakes daily. She also offers baking parties for kids and adults.


So stop in and see Amber and tell her I sent you… 

Check out the website, you will be impressed with the flavor selection and I think they are one of the few bakeries in the area that does custom carved cakes.




Owner Amber Griffith serving customers at her new shop



Posted in Bakery, Desserts, Local Food Producers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Local Treasure- Cake Occasions Bakery Moves to Central Entrance Location in Duluth

The Avid Baker Challenge 2013- Panettone Muffins

I have joined the on line monthly baking challenge to bake something every month with a group of other bloggers and we post on line pics of the results. What fun it has been to look forward to the recipes. Most are ones I have never baked before so it’s an adventure-All the recipes will come from the King Arthur Flour website. If you would like to take the Avid Baker’s Challenge of 2013 click here.

First up-Panettone Muffins- Skill Level- Easy

I loved eating Panettone Bread during the holidays and have always used Kathy Resberg’s recipe from the Italian Village for Panettone Bread Pudding so I was game for an easier version of this delectable holiday bread. The recipe did not disappoint.

Papaya and MangoDried Papaya and Mango

Chopped Dried fruit

Chop into small pieces and soak with liquid

AgaveroI used some Orange Flavored Tequila- Agavero- YUM for my liquid

I also had some home made butter on hand, so I used that too

Just cream the eggs, sugar, butter and oil until smooth

Until it looks like this..

Then mix the eggs in until combined

The batter should be smooth and creamy looking- you alternately add the flour mix and milk to get it to look like this, then add in the dried fruit by hand

 Panetonne Muffins

From the King Arthur Flour Website


  • 1 1/2 cups diced dried fruit*
  • 1/4 cup Agavero Orange Liquor
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  •  1/4 teaspoon orange flower water , to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 generous tablespoons coarse white sparkling sugar, for topping
  • *Our Favorite Fruit Blend — diced apricots, raisins, pineapple cubes, chopped dates, and sweetened cranberries — is a good choice here and is sold on the web site, but I just used dried papaya and mango.

1. Mix the dried fruit and liquid of your choice in a bowl. Cover the bowl, and let the fruit sit overnight. Or speed up the process by heating fruit and liquid in the microwave till very hot, then cooling to lukewarm/room temperature, about 1 hour.

2) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin. Or line with 12 paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.

3) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugar until smooth.

4) Add the eggs, beating to combine.

5) Stir in the Fiori and vanilla.

6) Whisk together the Cake Enhancer, baking powder, salt, and flour. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.

7) Stir in the fruit, with any remaining liquid.

8) Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups quite full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins generously with the coarse sugar.

9) Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they’re a sunny gold color on top, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.

10) Remove them from the oven, and let them cool for a couple of minutes, or until you can handle them. Transfer them to a rack to cool.

Yield: 12 muffins.

Bakers’ Notes of Changes that I made from the Original Recipe

Changes to the formula-

I changed the King Arthur fruit to just dried pineapple and mango and it worked just fine. I also microwaved the fruit for 2 minutes in the Agavero and put it in the fridge to chill quicker.

I did not have Fiori Di Sicilia and don’t live in a town that carries it, so I substituted Orange Flower Water from France. It gave it a delicate orange flavor.

I also omitted the Cake Enhancer with no visible effects. I will probably freeze these so no need to worry about a long shelf life.

I used bread flour because it’s what I had, it worked fine.



I filled the muffin cups full and they rose perfectly. I sprinkled with Swedish Pearl Sugar. The crumb was light and airy and the fruit was a nice addition. They were astonishingly delicious.



Posted in Bakery, Breakfast, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Roast Venison for a Mid-Holiday Break

Sometimes there is so much rich food around during the holidays, one longs for just simple, well prepared food. This roast of venison wrapped in foil fit the bill for a easy and delectable winter night meal. It can also be prepared in the crock pot if needed.

Not even a pan to wash! Now that’s my kind of dinner.

I ran into my friend Deb at Cub Foods and she and I were discussing venison preparation. She recommended marinating the roast in brandy for 24 hours prior to cooking. She said it acts as a tenderizer. I am all for doing the job ahead and easy and will give this a try soon.

Just wrap everything in foil and seal it up tight…


I have seen this technique with everything from Dr. Pepper to chili sauce poured over the meat prior to cooking.

Roast Venison in Foil

To print recipe, click here

Easy clean up and mellow flavors make this dish a winner.


1 Boneless venison roast

2 tablespoons fresh chopped garlic

1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary

2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

4 fresh carrots, peeled and chunked

1 cup celery, chopped

2 white or yellow onions, quartered

1/4 cup red wine

1 large piece heavy duty aluminum foil


Preheat oven to 325F

Trim venison of any fat and place in the middle of the foil. Place foil and venison in a shallow baking pan. Rub garlic on meat spreading evenly.

Sprinkle spices and rosemary on meat, rubbing in with your hands. Place carrots, celery and onions in pan. Drizzle red wine over meat before sealing up.

Fold up foil and seal tightly in a  neat packet.

Bake at 325 for 4 hours. Meat should be tender and vegetables cooked.


Posted in Local Food Producers, Meat Entrees, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Holidays!

I wanted to wish all my readers who stop by and visit my blog a very happy holiday season!

It has been a  great couple of years of posting recipes and stories and I look forward to many more. I appreciate each and every person that takes the time to visit.

Look for some new and exciting recipes in the new year, plus reporting on a couple of culinary trips to great food areas.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Happy Holidays!

Great Balls of Fire! Three Pepper Meatballs Warm a Cold Winter’s Night

As a long time caterer I have made more than my share of  meatballs over the years, but I still enjoy coming up with new twists on this perennial culinary star of the holiday table. Easy on the pocketbook and party friendly fare, meatballs have stood the test of time on the party circuit. These dark days of winter have me craving hot and spicy food to remind me of warmer climes. So here I have brought a little bit of Louisiana spice into the mix. I also give you a great tip I learned years ago from the pros on how to make meatballs fast.  You hold the meat in your hand and use a small scoop. I have a picture below to illustrate this simple time saving technique.

We always had at least two people making them so we could race to see who could scoop faster. Believe me when you are faced with making a thousand or so at one sitting, you learn to be creative and efficient at the same time.

3 Pepper Meatballs with a quick cream Rosemary sauce served with smashed potatoes

This post is a master mix recipe. A few ideas that you can do with them are:

Mediterranean- when they come out of the oven roll them in fresh rosemary, mint and oregano, chopped. Serve with a cucumber yoghurt sauce and fresh pita triangles.

Swedish- make a quick cream sauce, add a touch of ground nutmeg and pinch of ground cardamon to the sauce. Serve with Smashed potatoes and cranberries

Italian- Drop into a quick tomato sauce laced with pesto. Top with grated Parmigiana cheese.

BBQ- always a hit at a party.

Northwoods Style- I don’t know the exact proportions but you mix chili sauce and grape jelly and heat for a sweet and sour sauce. They are delicious!

Here’s a basic recipe for 3 Pepper Meatballs- now you can tone down the spices if you want them less spicy, but I say go for it, you only live once and these are delectable. I found the spice mellowed out the next day and was pretty mild. But, don’t listen to me, I am a Cajun who has been to Thailand. If you really want to heat things up, chop some fresh jalapenos for garnish just before serving…

3 Pepper Meatballs

Here’s what you need to make them- I used local beef because I had it on hand

Mix the dry ingredients, eggs and spices

Chop a medium onion small as you want

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil

Toss the cooked onions and garlic in meatball mix after cooling a bit and mix well

This is what it looks like after mixing. I like to use gloves to mix

I use the onion pan and test a little of the meat mixture to make sure I have the flavor correct

Here’s my secret tip- See how I have clump of meat in my hand and I use a scoop to scrape it off my hand- this motion packs it in the scoop-

Then I just fling the balls on a parchment lined sheet pan

Then I go back and round them out (this is where a second person is handy, one can scoop and the other can roll at the same time)

When they are done, the juices will run and they will turn brown

Here is the printable- to print click here

3 Pepper Meatballs

Yields 40 1 1/2 ounce meatballs


1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 1/2 pounds ground pork

2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 teaspoons Telecherry ground black pepper or course ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon savory

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (Italian bread crumbs will work too)

2 large eggs

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

A few generous shakes of Tabasco to taste

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped


In a large mixing bowl, mix both meats, seasonings, bread crumbs, eggs, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. Set aside.

In a small saute pan, heat the pan and add 2 teaspoons of olive oil. (Always remember hot pan, oil, cold pan, butter)

Saute the chopped onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.

When soft, pull off the heat and cool for a few minutes.

Add to meatball mix. Mix well, I use gloves to keep my hands clean and dry.

Scoop or form the balls and place on a parchment or foil lined cookie tray.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until browned and juices are starting to run out of the meat.

Let cool and place in freezer containers, label and freeze to enjoy later.

Posted in Appetizers, Meat Entrees, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Great Balls of Fire! Three Pepper Meatballs Warm a Cold Winter’s Night