Summer Fruit Dessert

Summer Fruit Dessert

There is such sweetness this time of year!  Ripe fruit and lots of it!!  Here is a great way to enjoy some of this season’s bounty.  Even if you don’t have kiwi or bananas, try strawberries, pitted cherries, cantaloupe, sliced peaches, plums…so many fruits to dip!  Have fun and enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Covered Fruit with Chopped Hazelnuts (makes 16 pieces)

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

8 slices fresh kiwi

8 chunks fresh banana

1/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts (or almonds, peanuts, pecans)

Slice fruit and place on parchment lined pan. Put in freezer for 15 minutes to firm the fruit. Melt chocolate in double boiler or in microwave. Dip fruit into melted chocolate, sprinkle with nuts and place on parchment-lined pan. Refrigerate about 30 minutes, until chocolate and nuts are set and fruit remains chilled.

Meatless Monday: Vegetable Pancakes with Cilantro Cream


Vegetable Pancakes

This week, with the introduction of Summer Vegetable Pancakes,  I am formally introducing ‘Meatless Monday’ to my blog.  I will regularly post meatless main dishes on select Mondays to help encourage all of us to eat at least one meatless meal each week.

Meatless MondaysGoing meatless once a week can protect our health.  It may reduce our risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Meatless meals can also help our environment by reducing our carbon footprint and saving precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.  For both of these reasons and for great taste, check out Meatless Mondays and look to Myplate2yours for delicious meatless recipes!

Vegetable Pancakes with Cilantro Cream (serves 3)

1 medium zucchini, grated (about 2 cups)

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 sweet onion, fine dice (1/2 cup)

1/2 small yellow bell pepper (1/4 cup)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large eggs

1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

For Cilantro Cream, mix to combine yogurt, garlic salt, cumin and cilantro in a small bowl.  Cover and chill until ready to use.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sauté zucchini, carrots, onion, and bell pepper until tender, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to beat eggs.  Add breadcrumbs and celery seed, combine well.  Add vegetable mixture, stir to combine.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet.  Measure 1/4 cup batter for each of 6 pancake (cooking 3 at a time). Press down to make 1/4 inch thick pancake.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until pancake sets and golden when flipped.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes on other side.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Serve pancakes with a dollop of Cilantro Cream.  Enjoy!

The recipe was inspired by Fine Cooking’s Fresh & Quick 2013

Summer Salads

Summer Salads!

This fun salad was enjoyed this week at ‘Summertime Fun‘ Kid’s Culinary Camp at Marcel’s.  

Are you looking for a new & easy salad recipe for a summer BBQ or backyard party?  Myplate2yours to the rescue! Here are some of my summer favorites:

Arugula Salad with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese (GF*)

Festive Barley Salad

Edamame Salad with Corn and Quinoa (GF)

Lentil Artichoke Salad (GF)

Caribbean Chicken Salad

Please let me know if you do make one of these.  I’d love to hear how these nutritious and delicious recipes are being shared!  Enjoy!!

*designates gluten-free 



Dreamsicle Smoothie


School’s out!  My kids are so happy!!  I remember that excitement when I was a kid.  Summer meant lots of time playing outside and listening for the bell of the ice cream truck coming through the neighborhood.  Do you remember Dreamsicles?  The orange sherbet coating on vanilla ice cream bar?  Well, try this healthy smoothie recipe and please let me know if I’ve named it appropriately!



Dreamsicle Smoothie (makes 12 ounces)

1 cup vanilla low- or non-fat yogurt

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup diced peaches

1/2 cup ice cubes

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

Blend on high for 1 minute until smooth.  Enjoy!

Potato au Gratin with Sun Dried Tomato

Potatoes au Gratin

There were two pounds of leftover cooked potatoes in my fridge.  Every few months, I set aside a day to develop new recipes and yesterday’s work on a potato salad left me with extra.  What to do with 2 pounds of leftover cooked potatoes in June?  Think ‘dairy’ and use fat-free milk and cheese to make potato au gratin!

June is dairy month.  Most of us only get 2 of the 3 servings of dairy that are recommended daily.  Unfortunately, this causes us to miss out on milk’s powerful nutrient package of calcium and eight other essential nutrients which nourishes our body and promotes bone health.  Check out ‘30 days of dairy‘, a tip sheet developed by the National Dairy Council with great ideas for adding that extra serving in your family’s diet.  You can also try some Myplate2yours dairy favorites like Chocolate Monkey Smoothies, Barley & Apple Breakfast Bake, and Cheddar Chicken and Potato Packets.  Here’s the new favorite- Potato au Gratin with Sun Dried Tomato- adapted from Cooking Light 2000.  Happy Dairy Month!

Potato au Gratin with Sun Dried Tomato (serves 6)

2 pounds cooked* red or Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into slices

2 ounces sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chop coarsely

1 tablespoon Earth Balance spread or butter

1 medium onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon each- salt and pepper

3 tablespoons flour (easy to make gluten free, just use brown rice flour instead)

2 cups skim milk

1-1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.  Layer potatoes on bottom of dish.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Add onion and cook until tender (about 3 minutes).  Add sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over pan and while stirring continuously, cook for one minute. Slowly add milk and stir or whisk until blended and mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and add cheese, stir to combine melted cheese.  Pour sauce over potatoes.  Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until golden.  Enjoy!

*To cook potatoes, place in pot with boiling water and cook until tender 20-30 minutes.






Arugula Walnut Pesto

Did you bring some fresh arugula home from a farmers’s market this past weekend?  It is easy to find this peppery green this time of year.  We all know it’s important to keep leafy greens in our diets, but if you’re getting tired of kale and spinach, it might be time to try arugula!    One of my favorite ways to enjoy arugula is Arugula Salad with Roasted Beets.  And recently, my family and I have found Arugula Walnut Pesto. YUM! It has a depth of flavor that works well with pasta.  I hope you find arugula something to enjoy this season!

Arugula-Walnut Pesto  (adapted from Fresh Cooking 2012)

4 ounces arugula (5 cups, lightly packed)

1/2 cup graded Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3-1/2 cup EVOO

In a food processor, pulse arugula briefly until volume is significantly reduced.  Add cheese, lemon juice, garlic and salt.  Blend with arugula. Process until finely ground, about 1 minute. Drizzle oil while processing to incorporate and continue until the mixture is smooth. Season to taste.  Enjoy!

Summer Culinary Camps

summer camp

There are just a few weeks of school remaining. And many college students are home already. This year is certainly flying by!

As the summer calendar begins to take shape, consider a culinary camp for your kids, both big and small. For the younger ones, ages 6-8, I am teaching two camps at Marcels in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. (for big kids, scroll down to the August 7th date!).  The first little kid camp is a 3-day camp, June 25-27, Summer Time Fun, you can sign up for all three or a single day. In August, the 18-19th, I have a two day camp, Farm to Plate. The descriptions and a link to register are below.

June 25-27th, 2:00-3:30pm, Summer Time Fun, Hands on, ages 6-8

Summertime: the sun, the fun, the heat, and the treats! What’s better than a picnic in the park, a day at the zoo, or lunch at the beach? These three days of camp zero in on the best adventures summer has to offer and the food that’s as much fun to make as it is to eat!  $100 for 3 days or $35 per day.  Register here!

Day 1- Picnic in the Park: Mini Turkey Burgers (a.k.a. Sliders) with all the Fixin’s, Picnic Potato Salad, Bite-Size Cherry Cheesecakes

Day 2- A Trip to the Zoo: Crocodile Smoothies with Green Apples, Banana Nut Monkey ‘Crepes’, Party Penguin Snacks

Day 3- A Day at the Beach: Walking Tacos with Fresh Toppings, Afternoon Trail Mix, Raspberry Coolers

August 18-19, Noon-1:30pm, Farm to Plate, Hands on, Ages 6-8

We are exploring where our food comes from, how it makes the journey from the farm to our plate, and make delicious farm fresh treats. Our menus will feature summer’s best peaches, corn, tomatoes, milk, and zucchini. On the menu: Day One: Chocolate Banana Smoothie, Mini Zucchini Bread, Cheese & Grape Skewers Day Two: Minty Peach & Melon Ball Salad, Corn & Bean Cheese Quesadillas with Summer Tomato Salsa, Fruity Yogurt Dippin’ Dots.  $65  Register here!

On August 7th for the big kids (college age), I am teaching a special class to help with the transition from home to cooking on their own. Here is the description and link to register:

Cooking for College Students, Hands on, 6:30-8:30pm

This class is the beginner’s guide no college student should leave home without! Learn to make amazing, budget friendly healthy meals that trump dorm food any night of the week. Whether you are buying groceries, learning to use a knife or even hosting your very first dinner party, this class will walk you through the entire cooking process, one step at a time. Make college cooking life easier and more affordable while learning tips and techniques that you will be able to use for the rest of your life! Participants will get instruction on how to make 10 main dishes with 15 primary ingredients. Four of these dishes will actually be made in the class; the recipe packets will include all 10. On the menu: Bean & Rice Burrito Bowl, Chicken Chipotle Pasta, Easy Egg Tacos, Cheddar Chicken and Potato Packets.  $50  Register here!

There are also classes for moms & dads too!  All of my summer classes are updated here.  I do hope I can cook with you and your kids (big and little) this summer!


Chicken Kebabs in Lettuce Cups


Thank you to my cousin Carol who snapped this photo before tasting the recipe at Marcel's for my April Breakfast Now, Dinner Tonight class!

Thank you to my cousin Carol who snapped this photo before tasting the recipe at Marcel’s April Breakfast Now, Dinner Tonight class!

In the past few days, I have received several requests for this recipe.  Here it is!  Chicken Kebabs in Lettuce Cups with Tomato-Red Onion Salad is full of fresh flavors with an easy prep.  What can be better?

Chicken Kebabs in Lettuce Cups with Tomato-Red Onion Salad (serves 4)

1-1/4 pound ground chicken

1/2 medium red onion; half fine diced and half sliced thin

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup crumbled feta

½ cup fresh mint leaves; half chopped and half whole leaves / larger ones torn

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

8 Bibb lettuce leafs

Eight bamboo skewers

Soak skewers in water for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, diced onion, chopped mint, feta, garlic, salt and pepper. Divide mixture in half and into 4 portions per half. Form each portion around skewer and place onto baking sheet. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare tomato-red onion salad by combining tomatoes, onions, mint, olive oil, vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Serve kebabs in bibb lettuce leaves topped with the salad. Serve with whole grain couscous or a gluten-free grain, if desired. Enjoy!

Adapted from Everyday Foods 2013

Lemon Panna Cotta from Nonnie’s Italian Kitchen

Nonnie's Kitchen

Today I taught a class at Marcel’s with my mom.  It was really a special day!  Lunch in Nonnie’s Italian Kitchen ended with this delicious dessert.  The great thing about this dessert is how easy it is to make.  Your family or dinner guests will never know!

Light Lemon Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce (serves 8)

Panna Cotta:

1-1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin

Panna Cotta1 cup 2% milk

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

3 cups low-fat buttermilk

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Prepare 8 ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 2% milk, let stand 10 minutes. Cook milk and gelatin over medium-low heat until gelatin dissolves (3-5 minutes). Increase heat to medium and add sugar, stirring with a whisk until it dissolves (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat. Add buttermilk and zest, stirring well. Divide mixture evenly among prepared custard cups. Cover and chill 5 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, place dessert plate on top of each ramekin. Invert panna cotta onto plates. Serve with sauce. Enjoy!


1/2 cup apple juice

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)

2 cups blueberries

2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

In a small saucepan, combine apple juice, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the blueberries and reduce heat to simmer. Cook about 5 minutes until blueberries soften and begin to open. Add cornstarch mixture if thicker consistency is desired. Cool sauce to room temperature.

This recipe was adapted from one in Italian Cooking Light 2006

Dining Out with Food Allergies

Dining out is meant to be enjoyable, but for families with food allergies, it can be very stressful.  I know this too well!  First, you must choose the right restaurant, then ask the server to communicate the allergy information to the kitchen, and finally, you must trust the kitchen staff to safely prepare the food, allergen-free.  The good news is that dining out with food allergies has gotten a little easier thanks to the people at FARE- Food Allergy Research & Education.  They just launched SafeFARE, a national public awareness campaign to help make dining out safer for individuals with food allergies.  Check out the new website with helpful resources like a list of questions to use when calling a restaurant ahead of time and a chef card to present to the restaurant when you arrive.  Those are just two of the resources available from SafeFARE to help make eating out enjoyable for ALL!

They are also establishing a restaurant database and will provide online training for participating restaurants.  Help spread the word!  Encourage your favorite restaurant to sign up for an allergen training course and be listed in the SafeFARE database.