Cooking Class for College Students

College Cooking Class August 2014

College Cooking Class August 2014

I hope your college student has made his or her way home for the holidays!  Mine has!  Will they be able to join me after the New Year for a cooking class?  On Thursday, January 8, 6:30-8:30pm, I am teaching a class just for college students.  We’ll be making three deliciously easy main dishes:  Oven-baked Italian Sliders, Creamy Stroganoff, and Hearty Chili.  These recipes are flexible as they can be made with whichever protein is on sale that week:  ground beef, turkey or chicken.  What can be more practical for college students on a budget?  Also, I promise not to forget dessert: (ooey-gooey) Chocolate Lava Cake.  This is a great opportunity to learn a few tips and techniques, and to get recipes to bring back to the college apartment to amaze the roommates!  This class is taught at Marcel’s in downtown Glen Ellyn.  It makes a great Christmas gift!  Follow this link for more information and to register.  HO, HO, HO!


Going Nuts! Spicy Citrus Party Cashews

Spicy Citrus Party Cashews

It’s about this time every December that I begin making some gifts in my kitchen.  This year, I’m going nuts.  Literally!  These Spicy Citrus Party Cashews were originally inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe a few years back.  This year, I’m packing them up to share and sharing this recipe with you, too!  Enjoy!

Spicy Citrus Party Cashews (makes 12, ¼ cup servings)Homemade gifts

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 egg white

3 cups raw (unsalted) cashews

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place cashews In a medium bowl, set aside. In a small bowl, combine salt and lime zest, pressing mixture firmly with the back of a spoon to incorporate. Add brown sugar and red pepper. Sprinkle over cashews. Wisk egg white in a small bowl until frothy. Add to cashews and toss to coat.

Spread cashew mixture in a single layer onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden, 30 minutes, stirring mixture at halfway point. (They will be sticky when first out of the oven but will harden when cool). Cool completely before serving.  Store in a covered container.

Recipes for Thanksgiving


Ideas for your holiday table! Happy Thanksgiving!

Originally posted on myplate2yours:

Cousin Kerry’s Veggie & Cheese Appetizer Turkey

It’s only the beginning of the week, but in 4 short days, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving.  I just love the tastes of this season:  root vegetables, savory seasonings, and roasted goodness!  As I was finalizing my Thanksgiving menu today, I thought you might be doing the same.  So, here’s a list of some easy, great-tasting recipes from Myplate2yours:


Roasted Chickpeas

Spinach Dip

Antipasto Skewers

Greek Style Hummus


Roasted Vegetables with Eggplant

Sweet & Savory Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Balsamic Cauliflower with Parmesan

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms and Bacon


Festive Moroccan Couscous

Barley Fiesta Salad

Quinoa with Cherries and Pine Nuts

And, if you want to make Cousin Kerry’s ADORABLE Veggie & Cheese Appetizer Turkey, you’ll need:

1 Russet potato

1 small melon

1 head brocolli, cleaned and cut into small florets

1 head cauliflower, cleaned and cut into florets

1 red and 1 orange bell pepper, cut into…

View original 145 more words

Cooking for a Crowd

Chicken Cacciatore

Fifteen people were coming for dinner in 2 short hours. I hadn’t finished grocery shopping and hadn’t ever cooked in the kitchen I was using. My husband and I were in Buenos Aires, renting a 1-bedroom apartment while visiting our oldest daughter who is studying abroad for the semester. She plays for her Argentine school’s soccer team and had invited her teammates for dinner. We planned a dinner menu to reflect tastes from home: Antipasto, Tossed Green Salad, Chicken Cacciatore with Spaghetti, and for dessert, Lemon Cake with Fresh Berries.

The grocery store had 2 levels.  This was the way up to the produce and meat departments

The grocery store had 2 levels. This was the way up to the produce and meat departments

We were in the grocery store at a peak time and there was a line in every department to weigh and bag most of our shopping list including: chicken and deli meats, olives, cheese, and produce.  Luckily, my daughter, her friend, my husband and I divided the list and made it out of the store in under an hour.

Back in the kitchen, I knew I had the skillets and saucepans I needed for this double batch of cacciatore. What I didn’t realize was that the stovetop wasn’t large enough to fit mTossed Saladore than one large pan at a time. So, while my sous chefs prepped the antipasto and the salad (and googled ‘how to light the stove’), I quickly prepped and simmered one batch of cacciatore and began to warm the oven. As soon as I could, I transferred the skillet’s contents onto a baking sheet and placed it in the oven. When my second batch of cacciatore was finished, I did the same to make room on the stovetop for the large saucepan to cook the pasta. The timing was surprisingly perfect because as the 15 friends arrived for dinner, they enjoyed the antipasto and a televised fútbol match (their favorite team was playing). When the game ended, dinner was ready!

Our guests

Our guests!

Here are my 5 tips for “Cooking for a Crowd’…just in time for the holiday cooking you will be doing for your own crowd! Enjoy!

  •  Begin with a menu.   Preferably, build the menu from dishes you are already comfortable making. It can be stressful to cook for a crowd, so adding a new recipe for the first time is a risk you may not want to take.
  • Create a shopping list. Remember to include beverages and condiments, and things like lemons & limes for garnishing and creamer for coffee.
  • Write a schedule. Look at your recipes and sort out what can be made days ahead and stored (in fridge or freezer). Next, for the day of the event, plan the time you need in the kitchen.
  • Solicit help. Is there anyone that can help you prep and cook? Your family members or friends? Or, can you modify your menu to incorporate some pre-prepped items like already washed and prepped produce (e.g., salad mix, shredded carrots, diced butternut squash)IMG_2118
  • Take a deep breath and enjoy! There is such joy to be found when friends and family gather to share a meal together. May you be blessed!

Homemade Whole Grain Crackers

Homemade crackers

It is sometimes hard to find tasty, pre-packaged, whole grain crackers. That’s why I am excited to share this recipe with you!  It is amazingly easy (trust me!) and there are so many variations to try:  cheese, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds.  These will be a perfect addition to any favorite dips or spreads you may be bringing to parties this season.  Be ready to impress your friends!

I have also provided a gluten-free version of this recipe (see parenthesis) that my friend Suzanne shared.  Please share any variations that you create of this recipe, too! Enjoy!

Thanks, Suzanne!  These crackers look delish!

Thanks, Suzanne! These crackers look delish!

Homemade Whole Grain Crackers (makes 6 dozen, 1-inch crackers)

1 cup all purpose flour (Gluten-free baking flour)

1 cup whole wheat flour (almond meal)

1/4 cup ground flaxseed (chia seeds)

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup warm water

1/3 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon for baking sheets

Coarsely ground sea salt

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flours, flaxseed and salt in a large bowl. Add the warm water, and olive oil to bowl, and stir until all the flour is absorbed (less than a minute).

Divide dough in half, form dough into an oblong shape. Spread dough halves onto 2 baking sheets prepared with oil. First, smooth and shape dough with oiled fingers. Then, with an oiled rolling pin, roll dough to even thickness (about 1/8 inch). Rough edges are perfectly fine! Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1-inch squares. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden. The crackers will continue to harden after they cool. Remove from pan with a metal spatula and allow to cool completely before serving.  Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer.  If crackers become soft, they can be baked again, 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees.  Enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Avocado Egg Pita

Avocado Egg Pita

Easy and yummy!  It’s a great recipe to make when you find a ripe avocado to enjoy.  I served this for breakfast in a class last week…every plate was left clean!  It works well for lunch, too.

Avocado-Egg Pita (serves 2)

2 pocketless Greek pita, preferably whole grain

2 egg

1 large ripe avocado

1 lemon

Salt & pepper

2 teaspoons EVOO

2 tablespoons feta cheese

Brush pitas with oil. Toast on both sides in a hot skillet until beginning to crisp. Mash avocado and spread equally on each pita, drizzle with fresh lemon juice. Fry eggs in skillet, cook ‘easy over’ and season with salt and pepper. Place cooked egg on top of each pita and sprinkle with feta. Enjoy!

Jack O Lantern Quesadillas with Midnight Salsa

Jack O Lantern Quesadilla

Maddie’s quesadilla at ‘Kid’s Halloween Class’ October 25, 2014

Another fun recipe for Halloween that is sure to put a smile on your kids’ faces.  All you need are whole grain tortillas, beans and shredded cheddar; they bake in the oven for just 10 minutes.  You can serve them with your favorite salsa but I provided a recipe for ‘Midnight Salsa’ for you to try. Enjoy!

Jack O’ Lantern Quesadillas (makes 4)

8 small whole grain soft tortillas

1 cup canned refried beans (fat-free)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a tortilla on a cutting board. With the sharp tip of a paring knife, carve triangle shapes for eyes and a crescent shape for the mouth. Repeat with 3 more tortillas. Place the other four tortillas on a baking sheet, spread each with a 1/4 cup of beans. Sprinkle each with a 1/4 cup of cheese. Next, top each with the carved tortilla and place in oven for 10 minutes (until cheese is bubbly and browning begins). Serve with Midnight Salsa*.

*Midnight Salsa (makes 2 cups)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup corn kernels

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped red onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Place all ingredients into a small bowl. Toss well and chill for 20 minutes.

Candy Corn Fruit & Yogurt Cups

Candy Corn Fruit Cups

Just in time for Halloween!  It’s a snack that is both fun and healthy, unique amongst all the sweets & candy of the season.  It mimics candy corn when assembled:  yellow-orange-white as pineapple-oranges-yogurt.  These are easy to make and individually packed for a party or to simply ‘grab & go’.  Enjoy!

Candy Corn Fruit & Yogurt Cups (serves 12)

3 cups low fat vanilla yogurt

2 cans pineapples chunks (in juice), drained

2 cans mandarin oranges, drained

12 plastic, clear, 6-ounce cups

Candy corn, for garnish

Using a spoon, equally distribute pineapple in bottom of each cup.  Repeat process with orange slices.  Top with a 1/4 cup dollop of yogurt.  Garnish with a piece of candy corn.  Now they are ready to share with your favorite goblins!


Meatless Monday: Tuscan Quinoa Casserole



What I love about this dish is the hefty load of veggies that are nicely and flavorfully incorporated into this casserole.  Serve it as a main dish or a side.  It works well in both roles!

Tuscan Bean and Vegetable Quinoa Casserole (serves 6)

1-1/2 cups quinoa, dry

2 tablespoons olive oilTuscan Quinoa Casserole

2 cloves garlic, minced

15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1 zucchini, diced

2 bell peppers, 1 red/1 yellow, diced

1 large carrot, diced (or 1 cup baby carrots, sliced)

1/2 cup diced red onion (1/2 large)

juice from 1/2 lemon

3/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook quinoa as directed per package, undercook by 5 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté garlic and vegetables (zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, red onion) in olive oil until vegetables are tender. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, sautéed vegetables, lemon juice, and parsley. Stir in milk and cheese. Add red pepper flakes, to taste. Transfer to a prepared 9×13 baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes uncovered. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Myplate2yours!

birthday cake

It’s been 3 years today since I wrote my first blog post and I want to celebrate with YOU!  Please send me a photo of a Myplate2yours recipe you’ve made and in return, I’ll send you something!  You will receive an unpublished recipe collection that I used in a recent class.  It was a class for college students and new cooks.  The collection contains 10 recipes from 15 main ingredients.  It’ll be a great resource for any kitchen as the recipes are budget friendly and easy to make.  Please send me your photos on twitter @myplate2urs, or Facebook at Myplate2yours, or in a comment on this blog post.  What will your photo be…a smoothie? a slow cooker meal? soup or stir fry?   I sure look forward to your photos and will honor this celebration until December 31, 2014.

Thank you for celebrating with me!