Friday, December 26, 2014

New Year's Black Eyed Pea & Greens Soup

Black Eyed Peas are THE good fortune ingredient for a happy, healthy, and abundant New Year. Here is a delicious hearty soup recipe which allows you to use your leftover holiday ham (which is optional of course) as well as have a prosperous, happy New Year! 


4 cloves garlic, diced 

One large onion, chopped

3 glugs of extra virgin olive oil or canola oil 

1-2 large bunches of collard greens, rinsed and chopped 

1-2 carrots, diced

1 jalapeño, minced

5 small Yukon Gold Potatoes, diced 

2 stalks of celery 

1 lb dried black eyed peas, rinsed

1/2 pound of leftover Ham, cubed (I used Wilshire Farms Black Forest) 

5 cups chicken broth

5 cups water or vegetable broth

10 cups water 

1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes 

2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

salt & pepper to taste 


Heat oil in a 12 qt pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, chiles, carrot, potatoes, jalapeño, ham and celery. Cook, stirring for about 20 minutes. 

Add black eyed peas, broth, salt and pepper, water, and collard greens. Bring to a rolling boil for about 45 minutes. 

Reduce heat to a medium-low and simmer for another 45 minutes, give or take. Stir in vinegar, serve piping hot with a swirl of olive oil on top. Enjoy! 

Mmmm here's to a healthy and happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Poached egg & Crumpets Breakfast

A Lantern Lit Christmas Eve...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Creamy, Dreamy Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese

This is my husbands favorite Mac and Cheese because it remains nice and moist (and rich!)


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Coarse salt & Pepper
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3/4 pound small shell pasta or elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups coarsely grated sharp yellow cheddar (3/4 pound)
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Directions:
  • In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium; add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden, has a slightly nutty aroma, and is the texture of cooked oatmeal, about 5 minutes. 
  • Whisking constantly, pour in 2 cups milk; add 2 more cups milk, mustard powder, and cayenne (if using) and whisk until smooth. Cook mixture, stirring constantly along bottom of pan, until boiling, 6 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and doesn't look grainy. 
  • Meanwhile in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, drain and return to the pot. Remove from heat and let cool a minute, then quickly stir in cheese and Worcestershire Sauce. Pour cheese over the pasta, and stir until it's coated. Enjoy! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Charcuterie & Cheese Platter

Nothing like a little holiday cheer at the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago. The aged Gouda paired with the shallot chutney was my favorite. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Easy weeknight Tortellini in Broth

This is the cozy best winter meal for when you don't feel like cooking. It will take you a total of about 25 minutes to make and it's completely nurturing and satisfying. 

All you need are:

One bag of frozen cheese tortellini

2 tablespoons Olive Oil 

One bunch of chopped flat leaf parsley 

One carrot, diced 

1/2 onion, diced 

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 cups Beef Broth 

Shredded Parmesan 

Crushed Red Chili Pepper Flakes (optional) 


Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add olive oil, carrot and onion. Sauté until soft, about 4-5 minutes. 

Add the garlic and crushed red pepper if using and sauté for 2 more minutes. 

Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. Cover and bring the heat to a medium-low, let simmer for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile place the frozen tortellini in a pot of boiling water for one minute, drain and put aside.

Stir the parsley in the broth to taste, and add salt & pepper to taste. 

Place the tortellini into bowls and ladle the broth mixture on top. 

Garnish each bowl with a large pinch of Parmesan cheese and serve right away. Buon Appetito! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Healthier Shepherd's Pie

My little secret? Mash or blend a head of steamed cauliflower and a cup of Greek yogurt into the mashed potatoes. The topping turns out creamy and delectable, and your family will never know there are healthy veggies and nutrients in their mashed potatoes. 

One head of Cauliflower
2-3 Large baking potatoes 
1 cup of fat free Greek Yogurt 
One pound of organic grass-fed 90% lean ground beef 
1-2 medium carrots, diced
1 Onion, chopped 
1/2 Stick of butter  
3-4 tablespoons of Worstershire Sauce (eyeball it)
1 bag of frozen peas 
A few pinches of fresh Thyme 
Salt & Pepper 
Optional: a half cup of sharp cheddar, grated 

Pre heat oven to 375. 
Steam/par boil the cauliflower & potatoes until they are soft to pierce with a fork, about 20 minutes. Mash together with yogurt, butter, and salt & pepper to taste.

Meanwhile in a saucepan cook the ground beef until it's no longer pink. Add the onions, carrots, fresh Thyme and Worstershire sauce and let simmer, stirring occasionally until it makes a nice gravy. Turn off the heat, add the frozen peas and stir. Pour this mix into the bottom of a casserole and then layer the potato mash on top, adding grated cheese on top of that if using. Pop it into the oven for about 15 minutes and then switch it onto the Broil setting for about 15 minutes to get the top nice and crispy brown. Dig in! 

Homemade Banana Bread

The smell of banana bread baking in the oven always makes me feel happy to be home. My dad gave me this recipe and it turned out great. It's a very straightforward recipe, using only one bowl, just one egg, and most importantly it came out nice and moist. 

Baking time: one hour

3 large bananas, well mashed 
1 egg
1 stick of butter, room temperature or melted
1 cup of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of nuts, optional (but dad says not really! :))

Directions: Pre- heat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl until nice and smooth. Pour into a well greased loaf pan. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

We stayed at the lovely Chateau Domaine De La Tortiniere

City walks

Who doesn't love a Parisian Cafe

A holiday corner in St. Germain

The beauty of Toulouse, France

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Me strolling around St. Germain, Paris, France

Cognac & Espresso

Candy market in Paris

Lunch on the streets of Paris

My office abroad

The magic of Loire, France

Chicken & Ricotta Meatballs in Broth with Baby Spinach & Lemon

Mix Ricotta, one egg, and 1 pound ground chicken with a handful of shredded Parmesan & a few pinches of salt in a medium sized bowl.

Place 1 and a half quarts of Chicken Broth into a large pot with lemon zest from one lemon, a spoonful of lemon juice and fresh thyme to taste. I added a little diced garlic (2 cloves) & one red chili pepper, but that's optional. Spoon balls (scoops the size of a large serving spoon) of the chicken mixture into the broth and cook for about 12 minutes. Add baby spinach & lemon juice to taste before serving. Enjoy xx

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The incredible Christmas Market in Paris.

Fresh Oysters right in the middle of the outdoor market, shucked and paired with Champagne right there! Dreamy. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chinon Les Barnabes

Such a yummy wine, made right here in the Loire region of France. Simply gorgeous when paired with our meal of steak and mushroom risotto. Heaven. 

Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto

Not a masterpiece photo, but my goodness...this risotto was melt in your mouth creamy goodness. Paired with a beautiful bottle of Chinon wine made right here in the Loire area. Divine. 

Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions Creme...

Selection of aperitifs (Cognacs) by the fireplace.

Michelin Star Restaurant, Loire Valley, France,

Pan Fried Skirt Steak with a balsamic reduction sauce and the most perfectly done roast potatoes. Accompanied with a Chinon Rouge wine from the area....heaven.