Cooking Class for College Students

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As summer begins to wind down and your college students return to campus, give them the skills they need to be top chefs in their own kitchen. I have prepared three easy, budget friendly, healthy meals any college student will enjoy!  Please join me, Wednesday, August 3rd from 6:30- 8:30pm at Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn for my “Cooking for College Students” class. This class is designed with the busy college student in mind. Whether buying groceries, learning to use a knife, or even hosting the very first dinner party, this class will go through the entire cooking process. What’s super cool is that each student who signs up will receive a free Kai Luna 8” Chef Knife to bring back to their own kitchens at school. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity! Here is what’s on the menu: Cheesy Beef and Bean Enchiladas, Lemon Chicken and Potato Pockets, Black Bean Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries and, for dessert, Chocolate Almond Banana Boat. Sign up at Marcel’s College Cooking Class before it sells out!

Please note:  this class is back by popular demand with fresh ideas and recipes so that any returning students will receive new information and taste new dishes! Also, you don’t have to be a college student to attend!  Everyone welcome!

Exciting news!

yogurt parfait

One of the featured photos on my new website coming soon!

Dear Friends and Followers,

I have not posted on my blog since the beginning of this month, but I have been cooking and writing all of June.  It’s because I am getting ready to launch a website in the next two months.  You are really going to love it!!  In the last 5 years of blogging, I’ve written almost 200 recipes, and posted over 50 nutrition and health tips on MyPlate2yours. The website will make it super easy to find what you are looking for!   So, please keep on cooking, use the search button on this blog if you need help, and get ready for a really cool new site coming soon!

Flan Casero (Homemade Flan)

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Flan is one of my all-time favorite desserts.  I first learned to make flan when visiting my daughter who was studying in Argentina.  The original recipe calls for whole milk but I have made it successfully and deliciously with low fat milk.  Either way, you’ll get 1/2 cup of milk in each serving!

It’s easier than you’d think to make this dessert.  And it serves 8… so have a dinner party or save the extras in the fridge just for you!

Flan Casero (Homemade Flan) serves 8

Caramel:

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Set out 8 ramekins. In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, mix sugar and water, stir only to combine. Cover and cook for 8 minutes, until the caramel is amber in color. Remove from heat. Work quickly to pour about 1 tablespoon into each ramekin.

Custard:

4 cups whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs plus 2 yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat milk with the sugar over medium heat until mixture starts to steam and bubble around the edges and sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes (do not let it boil).

Using a whisk, beat the eggs and yolks. Add the vanilla. Slowly ladle milk into the eggs, whisking to combine (this is ‘tempering’ the eggs). Add another 2 ladles to eggs and whisk. Slowly pour remaining milk into eggs while whisking to combine. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Divide strained custard evenly among ramekins. Set ramekins in a baking dish and add enough boiling water to cover halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until custard is just set, about 45 minutes.

Remove ramekins from the water and cool on a baking rack. Place in refrigerator to chill (about 6 hours or up to 3 days). To serve, use a paring knife to cut around the outside of the ramekin and then invert the mold over each serving plate. Enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry Brie Bites

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Need an appetizer for a party?  Or a refreshing dessert after dinner?  This recipe serves both needs!  Fresh strawberries washed and hulled deliver color and sweetness when paired with creamy brie and fresh basil leaves.  Balsamic glaze provides a sweet yet savory finish for a fabulous combination!

Strawberry Brie Bites with Balsamic Glaze (makes 20-24 pieces)

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled

Fresh basil, one leaf per strawberry (about 20-24)

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 pound Brie cheese, cut 1/4-inch slices into 1-inch squares (20-24 pieces)

Toothpicks or small bamboo skewers

Pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and gently simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the glaze is thick and coats a spoon (consistency of chocolate syrup). Set aside and allow to cool in pan.

Prepare a serving dish with a light coat of oil or cooking spray. Start stacking ingredients with a piece of brie as the base. Add basil (leaf should curve up to catch the glaze).  Next, add the strawberry (hulled side down). Spear stack with toothpick and drizzle with glaze. Arrange on the prepared serving dish. Enjoy!

Note: Any unused balsamic glaze can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for several weeks. 

Spinach Artichoke Quinoa Egg Bake

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Try the traditional pairing of spinach and artichokes with the ancient grain quinoa baked together with eggs and cheese.  The result?  Deliciousness!!

This is a great brunch recipe.  To prep this ahead of time, simply follow the recipe through until the step”Preheat the oven”.  The contents of the 9 x 13 pan can be covered and placed in the refrigerator.  When ready to cook, remove the dish from the refrigerator, uncover and finish the recipe.  Enjoy!

Spinach, Artichoke, Quinoa Egg Bake (serves 8-10)

1-1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups milk

4 eggs

1-14 ounce can artichokes, drained and chopped and drained again

10 ounce package of spinach

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 teaspoon each:  salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium pot, heat 3 cups water until boiling. Add quinoa, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes until water absorbed and quinoa unravels. Prepare 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour cooked quinoa into baking dish.

Preheat large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add artichoke and spinach. Add contents of skillet to quinoa in baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and eggs. Mix in Parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella. Pour into baking dish and gently mix into contents. Sprinkle casserole with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Bake for 30 minutes and serve hot.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup with Chips, fresh lime and spoon on Rustic Wood Ba

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

I first posted a recipe with the same name five years ago.  This new version boasts bigger flavor with a few additional ingredients and new sauté procedure.  Slow cooking is perfect for this busy spring season. Simply start this in the morning to cook on low for 7-8 hours or at lunchtime, to cook on high for 5-6 hours.  If your slow cooker does not have a sauté function, simply prepare the first part of this recipe in  a skillet on the stove top and transfer to the slow cooker when ready.

If you are not familiar with Chihuahua cheese, please try it.  It is wonderfully creamy and is often used in quesadillas, too.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup (serves 6)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoon chili powder

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

1 onion, cut into eighths

1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

1-1/2 cups corn from cob (or 1 can sweet corn)

1 can fire roasted (15 ounce) canned tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon oregano

2 corn tortillas, torn into 1-inch pieces

1 can (15 ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed

Salt to taste

Garnishes: non fat plain Greek yogurt (or light sour cream), shredded Chihuahua cheese, sliced avocado, fresh lime.

Heat oil in slow cooker set at 400 degrees on ‘Sauté’. Add pepper, onions, garlic and corn, sauté for a few minutes. Add chili powder and stir to coat vegetables and heat until chili powder is fragrant. Place chicken on top of veggie. Add tomatoes, broth, oregano and tortillas. Adjust slow cooker setting to low,  cover and cook for 7-8 hours. (Or set on high for 5-6 hours). At the end of cooking, remove chicken breast to a plate. Add black beans to the slow cooker to heat while shredding the chicken with two forks. Add shredded chicken back to pan. Serve soup in bowls topped with garnishes. Enjoy!

 

CELEBRATING EARTH DAY

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It is Earth Day.  I want to celebrate by getting the word out about about an important issue:  food waste.  Did you know that about 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is never eaten?  UGH! That uneaten food is a drain on the earth. The resources used to produce this uneaten food includes 31% cropland, 25% of total fresh water consumption and 2% total energy.  Think of all the waste in planting, growing, transporting, storing, preparing, and serving this uneaten food.  To make bad things worse, this uneaten food accounts for a significant use of landfills (about 18 percent of all municipal solid waste [MSW] is uneaten food- the second largest category of MSW).  UGH!

These facts are sobering, but let’s use them as motivation for action!  There are many things we can all do.  Discarded food in homes and foodservice accounts for 60 percent of food loss and is mostly avoidable.  I’m pledging to make a commitment to reduce my own personal food waste… here’s how:

  • Being mindful of quantity while shopping for and ordering food
  • Paying attention to ‘use by’ and expiration dates on food
  • Taking restaurant leftovers home
  • Freezing food before it spoils
  • Being creative with leftovers (look for future Myplate2yours recipes!)

Please share what YOU do to reduce food waste, we can all learn from each other! By challenging ourselves to personally reduce food waste, we may spur others around us to do the same.  Now that would be great for this planet we share!  Happy Earth Day 2016!

The facts in this article are from “Smart Choices for a Healthy Planet”, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, Future of Food Initiative, 2015.

 

 

5-Spice Glazed Chicken and Rice Bowl

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Sometimes I want a meal that boasts big flavor.  This one does!  If you have ever cooked with Chinese Five Spice (typically a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns), you know it is a culinary treat.  I learned that a few years ago with one of my slow cooker recipes, Chinese Five Spice Pork.  This will be a great recipe to reference if you like the flavor of 5-Spice Glazed Chicken and Rice Bowl.  The ingredient list may look long in this new recipe, but I’ve bolded the ones that get repeated in both the marinade and the glaze.  It’s really very manageable… I made it again for dinner this past weekend!  Enjoy!

5-Spice Glazed Chicken and Rice Bowl (serves 4)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (at least 4 pieces)

Marinade ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon mirin*

1 teaspoon GF soy sauce

1-1/2 teaspoons sugar

Glaze ingredients:

1/4 cup mirin*

1/2 cup GF soy sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup chicken stock

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

 

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup shredded scallions

1 cup frozen, shelled edamame, thawed

Sesame seeds, for garnish

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix the marinade ingredients. Place chicken in a ziplock bag and coat with the marinade. Place in fridge to marinade for 15 minutes, up to one hour.

To make the glaze, combine the first four ingredients in a small saucepan. Gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Mix cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water. Add to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer. Add the rice vinegar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon 5-spice and cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally.

In a 10 inch skillet with medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pan fry the chicken, 5 minutes on both sides. Baste chicken with sauce before turning and again on other side. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

To assemble bowls, spoon rice into the bottom of each serving bowl and drizzle sauce on top. Stripe with shredded carrots, green onion and edamame. Slice chicken and place on top and drizzle with more sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.  YUMMY!!!

*Mirin is a Japanese rice wine that provides a mildly sweet acidity to a recipe. It’s used in many Asian-inspired dishes. Mirin is easy to find in the Asian food section of conventional grocery stores.  But if you need a substitute, you can use dry sherry, dry white wine, and rice vinegar by adding 1/2 teaspoon sugar for every tablespoon needed.

Pork Medallions with Mushrooms

IMG_3189Today’s recipe is simple enough for any weeknight dinner but it’s presentation and wine glaze is fancy enough for a dinner party.  And, I’ve paired this deliciousness with Parsnip Mash.

Parsnips are root vegetables resembling cream colored carrots.  They are available year round but their growing season is fall to spring.  When cooked and ‘mashed’, they develop a creamy, sweet flavor and deliver a good source of fiber, vitamin C and some B-vitamins.  Savor the flavor of eating right!  Enjoy!

Pork Medallions with Mushrooms and Madeira Glaze (serves 6)

1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

1 pound white mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup Madeira wine (dry port, sherry or Marsala wines can be substituted)

1 cup chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Parsley, for garnish

Cut tenderloin into generous1 inch medallions. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauce pan over high heat. Sear meat until browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and repeat browning on other side. Transfer pork to a plate.

Add remaining oil to pan and heat. Add shallots and sauté until golden while scraping any browned bits from pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until most of liquid evaporates. Sprinkle with flour and add the Madeira. Once the wine has reduced by half, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add pork and any accumulated juices to the pan. Cook in simmering sauce for 5-8 minutes, flipping once, until internal temperature is 145 degrees. Serve medallions on top of parsnip mash* and garnish with parsley.

*Parsnip Mash

3 pounds* parsnips, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces

Salt and ground white pepper

2 teaspoons butter or Earth Balance

2 tablespoons milk (more, if needed, for desired consistency)

Place parsnips in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to a gentle boil until parsnips are easily pierced with a fork, about 8-10 minutes. Drain well.

Put parsnips in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add butter and milk.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

*If purchasing young parsnips, only 2 pounds needed since they have tender cores and do not need to be cored.

Spring Calendar Update

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Happy Spring!!  I am excited to share this new class schedule with you. These are all taught at Marcel’s Culinary Experience in downtown Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  I hope you can cook with me soon!

April 

13-(12:30-2pm) Midday at Marcel’s- Celebrating Maple Syrup Season: Bruschetta with Ricotta and Maple Roasted Rhubarb, Maple Glazed Pork Medallions with Apples, Chewy Maple Nut Cookies. Demo/$35 Register HERE

21-(9:30-11am) Morning at Marcel’s- Breakfast for DinnerSpinach & Artichoke Egg Casserole, Zucchini and Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cilantro Cream, Baked Banana with Dark Chocolate and Almonds. Demo/$35  Register HERE

May 

11-(12:30-2pm) Midday at Marcel’s- To Market Spring Has Sprung : Sugar Snap Peas Salad with Tarragon and Pea Shoots, Seared Scallops with Parsley and Scallion Pesto, Sweet Strawberry Brie Bites with Balsamic Glaze. Demo/$35  Register HERE

19-(9:30-11am) Morning at Marcel’s- Cooking Smart (1 protein, 2 meals): Edamame, Carrots and Honey Chicken Rice Bowls and Key West Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Mango and Jicama; Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Crisps. Demo/$35  Register HERE  

June                                                         

1-(12:30-2pm) Midday at Marcel’s- Prep for Summer – Lean & Luscious: Roasted Asparagus with Chive Yogurt Ranch Dressing, Chicken and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, Light Lime Cheesecakes. Demo/$35  Register HERE

7-(6:30-9pm) Road Trip: Nashville: Southern Sweet Fruit Tea; Warm Tomato, Corn and Jalapeño Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette; Skillet Roasted Hot Chicken with Red Potatoes and Fennel; Peaches and Dumplings with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Hand’s On/$80 Register HERE