Warm Apple Crisp

Warm Apple Crisp

Tomorrow March begins!!!!!  But here in the snow-covered Midwest, Spring seems like a very distant reality.  The temperatures still average below freezing and there is snow in today’s forecast.  I find this to be the perfect time to share a warm, sweet dessert that will help put a smile on your face and those who eat this with you!  Enjoy!

Warm Apple Crisp (serves 6)

4 medium, tart apples (about 4 cups) peeled, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup yellow raisins

Juice of half lemon (1 tablespoon)

4 tablespoons whole wheat flour (or gluten free flour)

1/3 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Set aside. In a bowl, combine apples, sugar, raisins, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon flour. Mix to combine. Spread evenly on pie plate.

Combine 3 tablespoons flour, oats, nuts, oil, brown sugar, and spices. Mix well. Sprinkle this topping evenly over apples. Bake in center of oven until golden and bubbly, 30-40 minutes. Serve in individual dessert dishes and top with your favorite ice cream.



Thank you to my friend Sandy for my new mug!

A submarino is hot chocolate made the Argentine way.  My oldest daughter taught us how to make these…simple and fun!

I have more recipes from Argentina that I’ll share in an upcoming class at Marcel’s on February 24th, 6:30-8p.  At Dinner in Buenos Aires, I’m making Empanadas, Carbonada (a yummy beef stew), and Homemade Flan.  These are the dishes I learned to make during my trip to Buenos Aires this past November. Click HERE for more information and to register.  I hope you can join me!!

But today, let’s celebrate President’s Day with delicious hot chocolate!

Submarinos (makes 2 servings)

16 ounces milk

1 ounce dark chocolate, split

2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

Heat milk in a small saucepan or microwave to warm.  Divide among two mugs.  Melt 1/2 ounce chocolate bar in each.  Stir in 1 teaspoon sugar, if desired.  Enjoy!

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken & Dumplings

It’s going to be another cold week in Chicago, but I have a recipe to keep you warm!  Simmering Chicken and Dumplings will warm your kitchen and your tummys with comforting aromas and flavors.

This is a recipe I’ve been making for my family for many years.  It’s especially tasty on cold winter nights when it helps us forget we were counting down the days ’til spring!

(Ssssh!  Only 39 remain…but who’s counting?!).

Simmering Chicken & Dumplings (serves 6)


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 small onion, diced

2 ribs celery, sliced thin

5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin

3 cups plus 1/2 cup water

1 bay leaf

3 chicken bouillon cubes

1 teaspoons salt

Black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup flour


1-1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried

2/3 cup skim milk

1 large egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the chicken, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or large covered saucepan. Add the chicken and brown them on each side for 2 minutes. Stir in onion, celery and carrots. Sauté briefly, then add 3 cups of water, bay leaf, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the chicken, covered for 30 minutes. Whisk together the flour and the remaining ½ cup of water in a medium bowl until smooth.   Add the mixture to the simmering saucepan. Cover and continue to simmer.

For the dumplings, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and parsley in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry mixture and add the milk, egg and oil. Stir briskly to make a batter. For each dumpling, spoon a rounded tablespoon of batter into the simmering broth. Cover and simmer (no peeking!) for another 10-15 minutes, without stirring. Ladle into soup bowls and serve hot. Enjoy!

Milk Truth


Have you been confused lately about the facts and the health benefits of milk? You are not alone. Science has been misconstrued by the media and special interest groups.  As a result, many people are confused and may be turning away from one of the most nutrient-rich, affordable and available sources of high-quality protein and 8 other nutrients, many of which are lacking in American diets.

‘Milk Truth’ means using the support of science to uncover the facts.  The information below is from an information campaign to share the truth about milk.  It is science-based and links are provided for all the references.  I welcome questions and comments on this topic.  Please share!

Milk Truth:


Milk isn’t just for kids – although it’s especially important for growing kids who need the nourishment that milk provides. Milk is an affordable, convenient and easily accessible source of essential nutrients for all family members. Milk is America’s top food source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium – three nutrients that are most often lacking in our diet. Milk is also a good source of high-quality protein (casein and whey). Each 8-ounce glass of milk contains 8 grams of protein – compared to a large egg, which has 6 grams of protein.


No matter what you choose – fat free, low fat, organic – dairy milk provides 9 essential nutrients. Fat-free milk contains just 80 calories per cup, and all the nutrients are still intact. Rest assured, the milk is not diluted. If you prefer whole, full-fat milk, it’s actually 3.25% milkfat by weight – which is not as much as many people think. Since milk is highly regulated, you can feel good about its safety. Every batch is carefully tested for antibiotics, and any milk testing positive for antibiotics is discarded before it reaches the dairy case. So you can feel confident your milk is safe and wholesome.


Skeptics may claim that milk isn’t necessary, but a large body of scientific research suggests otherwise. Studies repeatedly show the benefits of drinking two to three glasses of milk a day. Milk helps build and maintain bone strength, and has been found to boost muscle growth and support healthy weight. An extensive body of research suggests far-reaching health benefits of milk – ranging from “reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and with lower blood pressure in adults,” according to ChooseMyPlate.gov. Milk and milk products are valuable foods that nourish people around the world and play a valuable role in global public health.


It’s hard to get nutrients you need without milk in your diet. Studies with adults and kids have shown just how tough that is, and how missing those nutrients can have a negative health impact. The truth is, not all non-dairy milks have the same nutrients as real milk, so it’s important to know what you are getting in each glass. For instance, dairy milk has 8 times the protein of almond and rice milks – which contain a long list of ingredients, including added sugar, syrups, salt, thickeners and stabilizers. Real milk’s ingredient list is short and simple, with only ingredients you know.


Milk is one of the original local, farm-to-table foods. It’s a product from farm families that care about their cows. In fact, 97% of dairy farms are still family-owned and operated – passed down from generation to generation. Little handling is done from farm to fridge – primarily just pasteurization, a simple heat-treated process that ensures the milk you buy at the store is safe to drink, but does not reduce the nutrients inside. Milk is a whole, naturally nutrient-rich food.

Ginger Pork, Eggplant and Bok Choy Stir Fry

Ginger Pork, Eggplant, Bok Choy

It was early in my trip to the grocery store that I knew what I would be making for dinner.  In produce, the baby eggplants looked great as did the baby bok choy.  In meats, pork tenderloin was on sale.  What a perfect trio for a very tasty stir fry!

My family enjoys stir fry meals, as do I.  They are quick to make and so healthy!  The timing for this meal is this:  start making the rice (it takes about 40 minutes to steam), then begin marinating the meat and prep the vegetables.  When the rice has about 15 minutes remaining, start heating a wok or a large skillet.  Here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

Ginger Pork, Eggplant & Bok Choy Stir Fry (serves 4)

1 pound pork tenderloin

1/4 cup rice wine

1/4 cup light soy sauce

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (or chili garlic sauce)

2 teaspoons minced ginger, divided

2 or 3 baby eggplants (1 pound), cut into 1/2 inch moons

1 medium sweet onion, quartered and sliced

4 bunches baby bok choy, separate leaves from white stem. Cut stem into ½ inch pieces, cut leaves same

1/2 cup shredded carrots

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Cut the pork into ¼-inch slices and place in a medium bowl. Mix marinade: wine, soy sauce, hot sauce, and 1 teaspoon ginger. Pour over pork. Marinade for at least 20 minutes.

When ready to cook, heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Stir fry eggplant, onions, bok choy stalks, and carrots for 5-7 minutes until vegetables are tender-crisp. Remove vegetables from wok with a slotted spoon. Discard any liquid that collected in wok.

Reheat wok. Add 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and remaining ginger. Stir fry for 20 seconds until fragrant. Remove pork from marinade in bowl using a slotted spoon and add to wok. Stir fry until pork is golden, 3-5 minutes. Return the vegetables to the wok, and add the bok choy leaves. Stir fry until the leaves begin to wilt. Serve immediately over brown rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.



New Year Cooking Classes!


Happy New Year!!! With the start of 2015, I’m excited to share this new class line up. These are conducted at Marcel’s Culinary Experience in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.   I am starting another series of “Breakfast Now, Dinner Tonight!”.  It’s a class that’s perfect for busy moms.  First, I serve you breakfast at 9:30am which you’ll enjoy while I demonstrate your evening meal.  Not only will you be provided with the recipes for the class, but you’ll also be supplied with a ‘dinner starter kit’ to use as the foundation for your evening meal.  The class will wrap up by 11am with plenty of time to get any half-day kids from school and you’ll already have the makings of a healthy dinner in hand!  What a great way to start the year!

In the calendar below, you’ll also find midday demo classes in January (Savvy Slow Cooking & What to Cook on a Snowy Day), February (recipes from a recent trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina) and March (co-teaching with my mentor, my mom).  And don’t forget the college kids class in January!

I hope to cook with you soon!


8-Cooking for College Students: Oven Baked Italian Sliders, Creamy Stroganoff, Hearty Chili, Chocolate Lava Cakes. Hands on, 6:30-8:30p. $60  Register here!

14-Savvy Slow Cooking: Chinese Five-Spice Pork with Carrot-Rice Bowl, Jalapeño & Portobello Braised Beef, Mediterranean Chicken & Potatoes. Demo, 12:30-2pm. $35  Register here!

22-Breakfast Now, Dinner Tonight: Fluffy Whole Grain Griddle Cakes with Fresh Berries / Cheddar Chicken & Potato Packets. Demo, 9:30-11am. $45  Register here!

29-What to Cook on a Snowy Day: Simmering Chicken & Dumplings, Baby Spinach Salad with Orange Vinaigrette, Warm Apple CrispDemo, 12:30-2p. $35 Register here!


19-Breakfast Now, Dinner TonightApple-Oatmeal Muffins with Carmelized Grapefruit / Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta with Chicken Sausage. Demo, 9:30-11am. $45  Register here!

24-Dinner in Buenos Aires: Empanadas de Marta, Carbonada del Noreste (beef stew with potatoes and pumpkin), Flan Casera. Demo. 12:30-2pm, Marcel’s, Glen Ellyn. $45  Register here!


4-Lunch in Nonnie’s Italian Kitchen: Zesty Ciopinno with Crusty Italian Bread, Romaine Salad with Shaved Parmesan, Crispy Sweet Pizzelles. Demo, 12:30-2pm. $35  Register here!

19-Breakfast Now, Dinner Tonight: Carmelized Onion and Arugula Frittata with Goat Cheese / Savory Chicken, Vegetable and Navy Bean Stew. Demo, 9:30-11am. $45  Register here!

Banana Chip ‘Ice Cream’


This is a nice dessert option after a season of holiday sweets.  It does not require added sugar for it’s natural sweetness.  All you need are a few ripe bananas and a food processor.  Even your kids can have fun making this ‘ice cream’ as they turn their favorite fruit into a delicious frozen treat.  YUM!

Banana Chip ‘Ice Cream’ (serves 2)

2 small (or one large) ripe banana, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

Chopped nuts and chocolate syrup, if desired

Freeze sliced bananas for at least 2 hours in an airtight container. Chop chocolate chips with knife on cutting board (or in small food processor), set aside.

Blend frozen bananas in a small food processor. Scrape down food processor as banana goes from crumbled to gooey and again to smooth consistency (like ‘soft-serve’). Add chocolate and blend briefly to combine.  Eat immediately garnished with chopped nuts and/or chocolate syrup.  Enjoy!

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.