Monday, August 31, 2009

Life's A Beach!

Last week, Cancer Wellness at Piedmont hosted their annual "Life's a Beach! Party". What fun to see flip flops and beach wear on the folks that were dancing and rocking out. A fabulous band, "Just Friends" made waves with the music of Motown, Jimmy Buffett and Marvin Gaye among others. Fantastic Food by the "Spice Girls" including my walking friend Beci, made the evening perfect. Check out the moves by some of the participants.

The seashells in the picture below, are amazingly gorgeous chocolates by Sugar Marsh Cottage, an Atlanta chocolatier who makes yummy chocolate beautiful. Nestled in a beach of raw sugar they were just too good to resist!

Favorite recipe of the night was the amazing Gazpacho, (barely beating out the Caesar Salad Stuffed Eggs). The Spice Girls were nice enough to share the recipe, so I am passing it on to you, too!

Chilly Chile Pepper Gazpacho
(Adapted from a Better Homes and Gardens Recipe)

6 large tomatoes, cored, halved and seeded
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into pieces (English cucumber, do not need to peel)
1 medium yellow sweet pepper, seeded and cut up
4 medium jalapeno or Serrano peppers, seeded and cut up
(used 2 of each; take caution handling the seeds)

2 (11.5 oz.) cans of vegetable juice (spicy or regular)
2 T. lemon juice (may use lime)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sugar (or squirt of agave)
1 avocado, peeled and cut into small chunks (see note)
1 lb shrimp, cooked and seasoned with Old Bay and lemon
chopped chives, for garnish
English cucumber cut into sticks, for stirs

-Heat oven to 425 degrees.
-Place tomatoes, cut side up, onions and garlic, on rimmed parchment paper lined baking sheet.
-Roast about 30 minutes, or until slightly charred.
-Peel off tomato skins.
-Place tomatoes in a food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer to large bowl.
-Place onion, garlic, cucumber, sweet pepper, and chile peppers in food processor. (Note: you can add avocado at the end to process slightly or just add in small chunks after processing.)
-Pulse until desired consistency.
-Add processed vegetables, juice, olive oil, sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. black pepper to tomatoes. Adjust taste.
-Stir to combine. Cover; chill at least 4 hrs or up to 24 hrs.

Spoon into bowls and serve with one large shrimp and English cucumber stick. Sprinkle with chives.

Makes 8 servings

Chile Pepper Heat Guide:
Hot = 4 medium jalapeno chile peppers
Hotter= 4 medium serrano chiles peppers
Hottest= 2 medium habanero chile peppers

Buen Provecho!

It's Been a Pink Week!

For those of you that see me often without a chefs coat on - you'll know that I love the color pink. And this week I had so much fun being "in the pink", with lots and lots of beautiful women. The week contained the Pink Carpet Gala, a fun evening celebrating breast cancer survivors who are graduates of Pink. Pink at Piedmont is a comprehensive wellness program for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The elegant evening, expertly planned by Barbara and Julie, was full of good (mostly pink!) food, amazing makeovers by Saks cosmetologists and great giveaways. A couple of the recipes are listed below for you, so you can create your own "Pink Gala".

Saturday found me at Lenox Square, demoing last week's Friday Four recipe for the Atlanta Health and Wellness Expo sponsored by It's a Journey Inc. and celebrating the walkers of the 2 Day Walk. It's a Journey is an amazing home grown organization started by Atlantan and breast cancer survivor, Randi Passoff, that raises and awards money to Atlanta organizations. In 2009, the 2-Day has awarded a record $1 million to local breast cancer organizations providing diagnosis, education, support and research to thousands of Atlanta area women affected by the disease.

Hollywood Quinoa with Pomegranate

2 Cups Quinoa, Rinsed

1 Can Chickpeas, Drained and Rinsed
1 Cup Pomegranate Seeds, (or 1 Cup Dried Cranberries)
4 Green Onions, Thinly Sliced
1 Fennel Bulb, Thinly Sliced
1 Cup Toasted Walnut Pieces

1 TB Pomegranate Molasses, (or Honey or Agave Syrup)
1 Tsp Whole Grain Mustard
¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar, (or Sherry Vinegar)
1/3 Cup Walnut Oil (or Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to Taste

1 ½ Cups Crumbled Feta Cheese

2 Heads Romaine Lettuce, coarsely sliced
1 Bag Baby Spinach

Step One
Place the 2 cups Quinoa and 4 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed, (until it is translucent but still has a bit of crunch), about 7-10 minutes. Drain well, and spread out on a baking sheet to dry.

Step Two
While the quinoa is drying, combine the pomegranate syrup, mustard, vinegar and walnut oil in a jar and shake well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Step Three
Combine the quinoa with the chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, onions, fennel and walnuts in a large serving bowl. Toss the salad with the dressing, beginning with half of the dressing and then toss, adding dressing as needed.

Step Four
To plate the salads, toss the romaine and baby spinach together. Place some of the lettuce and spinach mixture on the plate and top with the Quinoa Salad. Sprinkle with Feta Cheese.

Stars in Your Eyes White Chocolate Cupcakes with Pink Chocolate Frosting

2 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
 (or use 1 cup of white whole flour and 1 ¼ cups of All Purpose Flour)
2 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

1/4 Tsp Salt

1 1/2 Sticks (6 oz) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 1/2 Cups Sugar

4 Large Eggs

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 1/4 cups Milk (or use skim, 1 or 2%)
8 oz White Chocolate, Melted and Cooled

1 Recipe *White Chocolate Buttercream

Step One
Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 12-hole muffin pans with liners.

Step Two
Sift the flour with baking powder and salt.

Step Three
In a large bowl or standing mixer, cream the butter at low speed. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy.

Step Four
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the vanilla. At low speed, beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with milk. Beat in melted chocolate at low speed until incorporated.

Step Five
Divide the batter between the prepared liners and smooth the surfaces. Bake the cupcakes in center of oven for 25 - 30 minutes, or until cupcakes are golden and springy and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. When cool, spread the frosting over the top of the cupcakes and enjoy!

*White Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 LB Unsalted Butter, Softened
12 oz White Chocolate, Melted and Cooled
1 Cup Confectioners' Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla
2-3 drops Red Food Coloring

In a large bowl or standing mixer beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Beat in the melted white chocolate. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat at low speed, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add the red food coloring and beat until color is evenly distributed throughout the frosting.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Delicious Home Made Pita Chips for Dipping!

Easy, Flavor Filled Chips You Can Make Yourself:

6 Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
½ Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Curry Powder (or Garam Masala)
1 Tsp Turmeric
1 Tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
½ Tsp Garlic Powder
½ Tsp Smoked Paprika
½ Tsp Cayenne Pepper

Step One
Preheat oven to 400F. Cut each pita in half horizontally, then into 8 triangles.

Step Two
In large bowl toss the remaining ingredients together with the pita chips - Make sure all chips are well coated. Bake in oven until crisp (approximately 10 minutes). Turn pita chips at the 4 - 5 minute mark. *Watch carefully as they tend to burn

Try using your favorite spices in these chips - think about jerk chips with allspice and jerk seasoning. Or cajun chips with a little blackened seasoning...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Go To Gluten Free Cooking

Cooks Warehouse Decatur was the venue for a fun Gluten Free Cooking Class. I first became aware of Gluten Free Eating when I worked on the morning show "Everyday with Marcus and Lisa". Marcus had Celiac Disease, and so I always tried to provide something in my cooking demo that allowed him to eat and enjoy. If you don't know about gluten intolerance, (or celiac disease), these are folks that have an extreme sensitivity to the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. So, some of items that we take for granted like flour, or bread pose special challenges to this group. Now, I have several other friends that are watching their gluten intake, so I decided to offer a class, and share some delicious recipes, great for gluten free cooking - and everyone else. The chocolate cake you see me slicing in the photo, (and in the glamour close-up) was Angela's birthday cake. No flour - just lots of dark chocolate, toasted pecans and expresso. I am passing a couple of recipes here that are absolutely delightful, easy and perfect if you are eating gluten free - or not. 

My Smart Sister gave me the first version of this yummy RICE-CORN BREAD
2 Cups Stone-Ground Yellow or White Cornmeal
1 Tsp Baking Soda
2 ½ Tsp Baking Powder
1 TB Unsalted Butter, softened
1 TB Sugar
A Dash EACH of Cinnamon and Nutmeg (Optional)
1 Cup of Cooked Brown Rice, (slightly mashed at room temperature)
3 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
2 Cups Light Buttermilk
Step One
Preheat the oven to 400F. Combine the cornmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder and whisk together with a fork.
Step Two
In another bowl, combine the butter, sugar and slightly mashed rice. Thoroughly stir in eggs and buttermilk, then add the cornmeal mixture and stir until just blended.
Step Three
Spoon the batter into a non-stick spray coated loaf pan and bake in the middle of a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick.
Step Four
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then cut into slices.

Make sure you add the nutmeg and cinnamon and then serve the cornbread with:
Curry Carrot Spread
2 Carrots, Sliced in Rounds, Tossed with 1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 - 4 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
1 Clove Garlic, Minced or Grated
½ Tsp Curry Powder
¼ Tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika
¼ Tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 Cup Canned Cannellini Beans, Drained and Well Rinsed
Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
Chopped Fresh Herbs for garnish if desired
Step One
Preheat the oven to 425F. Place the sliced carrots on a foil lined baking sheet, sprayed with non-stick spray, and cook for about 15-20 minutes until tender and beginning to brown.
Step Two
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, curry and cumin and cook until onion is tender (about 4-5 minutes.) Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Step Three
Place the carrots and the onion mixture in a food processor, and then add beans. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

And to make it dinner:
Crunchy Romaine and Parmesan Salad
2 Heads of Romaine, Sliced into 1 inch pieces
1/4 Red Onion, Sliced Very Thinly
1 Clove Garlic
3 TB Balsamic Vinegar
3 TB Freshly Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
¼ Tsp Dried Oregano
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
Parmesan (or Romano) Curls for Garnish
Step One
Fill a bowl with ice cubes and sprinkle about 1 tsp salt in it – add water and sliced red onions. Leave the onions in the ice water until you are ready to toss the salad. Cut the Romaine, spin to dry. Set aside.
Step Two
In a blender or small food processor blend together the garlic, the vinegar, the Parmesan, (or Romano) and the oregano until the dressing is combined well, Add the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove the red onions from the ice water, pat dry, add and toss with the romaine and the dressing. Garnish with Parmesan (or Romano)curls.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

White County WOW!

How great is it when you can name your organization: WOW? That’s the group I visited this week, the Winegrowers of White County. Many of you may not know where White County Georgia is located. Up north of Atlanta where hills and mountains and greenery abound – that’s where you will find it. I had the pleasure of tasting the wines of White County along with a delicious wine tasting menu at Bernie’s, the restaurant for the Nacoochee Valley Guest House. Glenn and Ward, (the current and future presidents) of WOW met me for the tasting and to share their passion for local artisanal wines. The reason this group was formed is that White County was “dry” until last November. Now that you can order a glass of wine with your dinner - that’s a reason to celebrate. And a reason to promote and support White County Agri-Tourism. They are planning a big wine tasting in February as a kick-off, and I was the beneficiary of an opening discussion about the tasting. I love my job!

You may be surprised that I am enthusiastic about Georgia wines. Yes, Virginia – Georgia wines can be good. Did you know that our Red North Georgia Clay soil is very similar to the “Terra Rossa” in the famous Piedmont wine region of Italy? And, that the elevation of our “terroir” is also significant in that we are high enough to eliminate many disease problems, and also just high enough to enjoy a good climate for growing. Our “terroir” (or special conditions of the geography), can support many kinds of wine grapes beautifully.

I enjoyed each of the 5 wines we tasted on Tuesday. Yes, I know that they are not widely distributed outside the state of Georgia, but for my local readers – here’s my notes, so you can compare yours with mine!

Habersham, American Riesling, 12.5%
Color: Pale Gold
Aroma: Pear, Petrol. Citrus
Taste: Citrus, Nice Acidity, Medium Mouth feel
Finish: Short to Medium

Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc 2006 12.8%
Color: Pale Yellow
Aroma: Lemon Citrus, Stone Fruits, Melon
Taste: Soft Grapefruit, Citrus, Stone Fruits, Green Apple
Finish: Short to Medium

Blackstock Sangiovese Rose 12.2%
Color: Light Salmon
Aroma: Cherries, Citrus
Taste: Citrus, Light Red Fruits
Finish: Short to Medium

Blackstock Merlot 2005 13.2%
Color: Light Cherry
Aroma: Dark Berries, Smoke
Taste: Dark Cherries, Oak, Light Mouth Feel
Finish: Light to Medium

Creekstone Cabernet Sauvignon
Color: Dark Garnet – Purple
Aroma: Dark Fruits, Spices and Herbs, Mint
Taste: Dark Fruits, Smokey, Spicy
Finish: Medium to Long

And here’s a recipe to celebrate White County Wines and the Weekend – perfect for that Blackstock Sangiovese Rose – or any lovely light Rose for that matter…

Ginger Mint Shrimp

2 LB Large Shrimp

¼ Cup Vegetable Oil
3 TB Lemon Juice
1 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
6 Cloves Garlic Chopped
1 ½ “ Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Coarsely Chopped
1 Jalapeño, Ribs and Seeds Discarded
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
½ Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Bamboo Skewers soaked for at least 30 minutes.

Fresh Lemon Wedges
Chopped Mint

Fresh Banana Leaves

Step One
Place bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to soak.

Step Two
Shell the Shrimp, leaving the tails. Slit the back of the shrimp and remove the digestive tracks.

Step Three
In a food processor place the oil, and the remaining marinade ingredients. Puree to a smooth paste. Place the shrimp in a zippy bag, add the marinade and marinate in the frig for an hour (up to 3 hours.)

Step Four
Thread on skewers.

Step Five
Cook on a hot grill, grill pan or under the broiler – turning once and brush with the oil. Garnish with the lemon wedges and chopped mint.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Walking on the Dark Side

This is what the parking lot at the entrance to the Chattahoochee walking/jogging trail looked like on Friday morning. It's dark AND early. But we didn't mind as my friend Beci  and I chatted, shared and laughed for a 6 mile power walk. I love getting up early and exercising with friends. When it's over, I feel so good, and I know the whole wonderful day lies waiting ahead. Indeed, I felt smug as I left the park at 8:30 that morning - as I pulled out of the parking lot I was assaulted with early morning traffic. Yes, I thought, I already have walked 6 miles this morning - how about you? 
(So much for my exercising early philosophy.) The reason I am writing this blog is the next picture. Both Beci and I have been trying to come up with a good recipe for power bars, so that we don't have to eat the sugar and preservative laden choices out there. She brought me a couple of bars to try from her recipe-in-progress. So far, Beci wins hands down. The "crumb"  shot is of the tiny piece I managed to get my husband to stop eating so I could take a picture. Oh well. Just know that they are good. So, here is Beci's recipe, inspired by a Whole Foods recipe. (And it's Gluten Free!)
Cranberry Orange Chocolate Power Bars
Natural Spray Oil for a 8" square pan
3 Cups Rolled Oats (Can use Gluten Free)
1/3 Cup Smooth Almond Butter
1 Cup Dried Cranberries (or dried cherries)
1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
Zest of an Orange
1/3 Cup Honey
1 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp Salt
3 Egg Whites
2 TB Finely Ground Flaxseed
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray your pan with oil; set aside. Mix together oats, almond butter, cranberries, chocolate chips, orange juice, zest, honey, nutmeg, salt and egg whites in a bowl. Press firmly into the pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges about 35 minutes, sprinkle flaxseed over the top, let cool completely, cut into bars and serve. Makes approx 16 -20 bars.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lawyers Who Cook!

Cooks Warehouse at Midtown hosted The Iron Chef: CUMIN battle that took place on Friday night. What a fun bunch from a local law firm. Great team work, cooking and super food styling. Great use of banana leaves for presentation. Gives all the plates a real boost. Take a look at these pix. The food looks good – and it tasted delicious. And the winner is: Team #2!!! That's the picture with the banana leaf on the diagonal. Dishes were judged by taste, presentation, originality and teamwork. It was a close battle, but the winners pulled it out in the taste category. Congratulations to all the participants - and especially Team #2!

Plan Your Escape

The women of Pink Heals had another party on Thursday night - to plan fun vacations and learn how to document their trip with pictures. What a beautiful group! “Maintain a Sense of Humor, Develop Outside Interests, and Learn to Let Go”, were some of the gems of encouragement from Dr. Richard Blue, who kicked off the rainy evening on an upbeat note. Lots of laughter, peach Bellinis, travel inspired hors d’ oeuvres and an interesting presentation on photography from Kim at Jet Set Life made the evening enjoyable! Find out about the next Pink Heals event at
If you are a fan of pineapple, salsa and chips - Here's a recipe that you will love:
 Southwest Sizzler - Grilled Pineapple and Chili Salsa with Crunchy Corn Chips
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped (Minced) Red Onion
½ to ¾ of a Whole, Cored Fresh Pineapple, cut in ½” rings
1 TB Minced Seeded Jalapeño
1 TB Chopped Cilantro
1 TB Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp Honey
½ Tsp Smoked Sweet or Hot Paprika
Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
Step One
Place the Finely Chopped Red Onion in a bowl of ice water and set aside for at least 15 minutes. (Easiest to do this in a colander or fine metal strainer.) The ice water removes the "sting" from the onion. If you have sweet onions - no need for this step!
Step Two
Pat the pineapple rings dry with paper towels, and grill on a hot, (non-stick sprayed), grill pan until desired grill marks appear. Remove from the grill and cut in ½” pieces. (You can do this on the grill outside if you prefer.)
Step Three
Drain and pat the red onion dry with a paper towel. Mix the jalapeno, cilantro, cider vinegar, honey and paprika together, and then add the red onion and pineapple. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Tortilla or Corn Chips.