Saturday, March 6, 2021

St. Patrick's Day Leprechaun Cupcakes

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

ITALIAN Cheese & Meat JUMBO SHELLS with Pesto

ITALIAN Cheese & Meat 

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 
This recipe will fill 2 dozen jumbo shells
(with a dozen empty shells leftover) in a
 9" X 13" Casserole
(I use a large round Le Creuset pan)

Homemade Marinara Sauce
    (or best authentic store-bought option: "Classico Tomato & Basil")
28 oz. can of Cento San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Cup finely chopped Onion (approx. 1/2 of Yellow or White onion)
1/8 Cup (2 packed Tablespoons) of fresh minced Garlic
1/4 Cup loosely filled chopped fresh Basil (Chiffonade then chop.)
1 teaspoon of dried Oregano
1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black Pepper

Heat 2 T of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion; stir one minute (until translucent). Do not let brown.
Add garlic; stir 30' to 1" (Do not let brown.)
If they brown start over; it will ruin the sauce.
Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt & pepper.
Stir and break apart tomatoes with the end of a flat-edged wooden spoon (or regular spoon). The tomatoes will break down on their own a lot, as well.
Turn burner to low, cover the saucepan and simmer for approximately 20" until it is reduced slightly, but the tomato chunks are still visible. In other words, don't make a crushed tomato sauce, nor let it become too reduced and thickened.
Once it is done, remove it from the burner.

    (or best authentic refrigerated brand: "Buitoni #1 Best Selling Refrigerated Pesto")

2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves (washed, patted dry well) packed
2 Large Garlic Cloves (Then TASTE.) You may want to add another clove.
2 Tablespoons of Pine Nuts (optional)
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Cup of finely grated Fresh Parmesan Cheese (Use a Microplane.)

I honestly add all ingredients at once into the food processor and pulse until completely blended.
Traditionalists pulse basil, garlic, and pine nuts first, then add oil & Parmesan.

Ground Beef Mixture:

One Pound Lean 85/15 or 80/20 Ground Beef
1/2 Cup finely chopped Onion (the other half that you used for the sauce)
1/8 Cup (2 packed Tablespoons Fresh Minced Garlic) ~ same as sauce
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon black Pepper
1 teaspoon dried Oregano

Heat 2 T Olive Oil in a saucepan over medium-high.
Add 1/2 Cup of finely chopped Onion.
Stir one minute or less, until translucent.
Add 1/8 Cup finely minced Garlic
Crumble in the ground beef.
Wash hands.
Chop the meat apart with a flat-edged wooden spoon, flip and stir until no longer pink, but not browned too much. This is going to cook for 40" in the oven.
Add 1 teaspoon of dried Oregano (and the salt & pepper)
Stir well.
Remove from heat.

Fresh Cheese Mixture:

32 oz. Ricotta cheese
1 Cup Fresh Mozzarella cheese
1/2 Cup Fresh Real Parmesan cheese
1 to 2 Tablespoons of fresh finely chopped parsley 
1 egg

Shred Mozzarella cheese & finely grate the Parmesan cheese.
It is easiest to do this if they are cold.
Add to the Ricotta cheese (in a large bowl).
Add 1 Tablespoon of the fresh parsley.
Blend REALLY well.
If it needs more flavor, add a pinch at a time of parsley or salt (sparingly) making sure that you incorporate it all completely before each taste (& use clean spoons each time, of course).
Keep in mind that you are going to add the very seasoned beef AND it will be topped with pesto after it is cooked.
Then scramble the egg, and stir in very well.
Now fold in the cooled meat.
Make sure it is all evenly blended.

Parboil Jumbo Pasta Shells:
1 (12 oz.) box of uncooked Jumbo Pasta Shells

Fill a Stockpot half full of cold water. Bring to a boil, then add 2 Tablespoons of Sea Salt. Reduce the temperature to Medium, and carefully glide the shells into the water with the help of a slotted spoon.
Stir gently & occasionally for several minutes.
Fill a baking sheet with cold water (next to the stovetop).
When the shells are soft, but not enough that they could tear, remove the pot from the burner, and scoop them out (a few at a time) with the slotted spoon, into the baking sheet of cold water.
Remove them from the water and onto paper towels or flour sack towels separating them.


Pour 1//3 of the Marinara sauce in your casserole.
Using a kitchen tablespoon, scoop a quenelle of the meat and cheese mixture into each shell.
(See in the video how to easily scoop a quenelle or rochet against the side of the bowl by turning the spoon.)
Position the shells on an angle next to one another.
Spoon 1/3 of the sauce onto the corners of the shells.
(The last third of sauce will be reheated and used when plating.)


Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 40"
or until the sauce is bubbly & the cheese is melty.


I place 3 shells on each plate, drizzle the pesto on them, top the 3 with a line of marinara sauce, and a leaf cluster of basil.

I highly recommend that you add some extra pesto,  cheese, and sauce on the side. (You can see my "Italian flag" example in the photo.) When you drag each bite of thee shells through any of these, it really is a flavor game changer.



Tuesday, May 5, 2020

STRAWBERRY & RUBY GRAPEFRUIT MARGARITA (with strawberry/lemon sphere meltdown)


              Strawberry & Pink Grapefruit Margaritas (Strawberry/Lemon Sphere Meltdown)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

CRANBERRY SAUCE with orange (3 ingredients & EASY)

Cranberry Sauce with Orange

It's delicious!!!
EASY to make in10"

I make this so many more times than just for the holidays.
It's vibrant fruit flavor pairs well with: 
Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, & Green Beans

Deli Ham or Turkey on King's Hawaiian rolls or Brioche 

makes 6 servings

12 ounces of Cranberries 
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Orange Juice
Optional: 1T Orange Zest (for additional fresh flavor when cooked or nice color if zested over top just before serving.)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat,
stir sugar and orange juice together until dissolved. (about 30' - 1")

Stir in the cranberries, & cook until the cranberries begin to pop open & macerate. (about 10"). 
Do not cook until jelled, the sauce will thicken as it cools.

Remove from the heat and place in your serving bowl to serve warm.

Or allow them to cool, then refrigerate (even 2 or 3 days ahead in an airtight container).  

Monday, September 30, 2019



Laurie Vermillion 

6 oz. Yoplait Dreamsicle Yogurt
2 Cups of Mixed Berries (or remaining strained berries from my *Poached Pears in Berry Juice)
2 Cups Dole Pineapple Juice ("not from concentrate" can)
1 Cup of ice

Blend until ice is completely slushy.

Top with Lime Whipped Cream & Lime Zest 
(from *Poached Pears in Berry Juice YouTube video

1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream (very cold)
1/2 Cup sifted Confectioners Sugar
1 Tablespoon of fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1 teaspoon of Lime Zest

Refrigerate Mixing Bowl & Blender attachment.
Blend the above ingredients together on Medium-High for 3 to 5" or until the whipped cream forms a firm peak, but do not overbeat.

*Click above for the quick YouTube video
with the link to the Berry Poached Pears
at the end of the video.

Click here for the:
 Poached Pears in Mixed Berry Juice, 
Fresh Lime Whipped Cream, 
Berry Coulis with Orange Liqueur and Lime 
on a bed of Toasted Almond Slices and Graham Cracker Crumbs.

Video shows Instant Pot or Stovetop poaching. 

 Poached Pears in Berry Juice / Laurie Vermillion YouTube

Sunday, September 22, 2019

BERRY POACHED PEARS, Lime Whipped Cream, Coulis, Toasted Almonds & Graham

Poached Pears in Berry Juice                                           Laurie Vermillion

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: The misinterpreted ending & why Brad Pitt deserves Best Actor

by Laurie Vermillion

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood opened in theatres this weekend with a star-studded cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al Pachino, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Kurt Russel, Damian Lewis, Margo Robbie, Zöe Bell, and more, but it is Brad Pitt's character and performance that is brilliant. His character, thought to be "behind the scenes" or taking the back seat, weaves the movie together and ultimately becomes the hero.

Brad Pitt plays "the stuntman" for Leonardo Di Caprio's character and adds an especially charming and comical element, especially important as the movie intensifies. Director Quentin Tarantino cast these two perfectly, not only because their characters' relationship can be referred to as "inseparable," but Tarantino captures angles where the two actually look the same.

After viewing the movie, some left analyzing Quentin Tarantino's intentions. Others questioned the movie's ending. Does it have a happy ending or an implicit tragic ending?

It is without a doubt Tarantino's dream of the perfect movie. It has everything he grew up loving, the "Spaghetti Westerns" (like the original movie Django in 1966), and it encompasses every detail of Hollywood in the 60s. He had the director's cut on this movie, and it's 2 hours and 75 minutes long. He literally couldn't even leave out five minutes of detail. Every scene is like Tarantino winking at the camera. DiCaprio is working his charisma again, there's plenty of Bruce Lee martial arts as in Kill Bill, and some Pulp Fiction dancing, all with the ultimate Quentin Tarantino shocking crescendo of blood and violence. So Tarantino fans will love it, and anyone who lived in 1969, will have awesome flashbacks as the details in the movie are impeccable!

The movie first appears to be about a Western movie star (Rick Dalton) played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his fall from fame. His faithful friend and stuntman (Cliff Booth) played by Brad Pitt is always by his side and "along for the ride." Therefore, his success is in the hands of Rick Dalton (those hands that no "movie star can afford to damage," as the tongue in cheek beginning explains).
As it unfolds, the viewer is to understand that every actor's success and fame is in the hands of someone else, most assuredly the directors and the public. We see the need for recognition and acceptance in not only Rick Dalton's eyes, but even actress Sharon Tate's (whose status Dalton had only wished he could achieve). Even though she had been in the famous movie "Valley of The Dolls," she experiences a complete lack of recognition at the box office when she happens upon one of her old movies with co-star Dean Martin. However, when she sees the audience's reaction (acceptance), she feels the validation once again that she deeply needs.

Tarantino entwines the fictional Rick Dalton & Cliff Booth with the story of Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders. The movie is not "about the Charles Manson Murders," but since they have been referred to as "the end of the 60s," it is only fitting that Tarantino would write (or rewrite) this dramatic violence for the ending of his Hollywood movie.

He depicts this glorious Hollywood era in the extraordinary detail as only he can, his Spaghetti Western star receives the ultimate recognition and the "new hero" triumphs against evil.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Instant Pot Pot Roast

Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker 

Pot Roast

Instant Pot Pot Roast       Laurie

 Tender Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots & Gravy


Serves 6: (Depending on how much each person eats.)
It's about 6 Cups shredded

With 4 people, I have enough left for one of these two recipes.
Beef & Vegetable Soup
Beef & Noodles
See the links on this Pot Roast YouTube video (shown below) or enter the titles in my search bar (above on the left).

Level: Simple


3 pound Chuck Pot Roast Boneless (See below for comparison.)

32 oz. box of Beef Broth (salted)

2 Large Carrots (Cut into 2" chunks so that they cook properly)

2 medium Russet Potatoes (Peeled and cut into fourths horizontally or 4 smaller ones cut into thirds. You will cut these and the carrots after cooking.

1/2 large white or yellow Onion (thin 1/2 slices)

1/8 C. Minced Garlic (3-4, depending on the size)

1 t. dried Rosemary (or 1 sprig of fresh, preferably minced)

1 t. dried Thyme (or 3 sprigs, leaves minced)

2T Olive oil (Vegetable oil is fine.)

1 t. sea Salt

1/2 t. Black Pepper

2 T Corn Starch (for the gravy)

    YouTube video


1.) Turn pressure cooker on to "SEAR." (on a Brevelle pressure cooker, press the "start" button & turn to the right.) 
For "Instant Pot," press "Sauté"

2.) Coat the roast with olive oil & season both sides with minced garlic, salt  & pepper.

3.) Add 2T Olive Oil to the pot when the cooker is hot. Brown Meat (top, bottom & sides) for approximately 5" each (until nicely brown, not too brown).

4.) Switch pressure cooker to "Pressure Cook" & "Meat" or (on Brevelle, push STOP button, Press START button, turn to the left until the arrow is on "Pressure Cooker.")
For "Instant Pot," press "Meat/Stew."

5.) Add the Sliced Onion.

6.) Add the Beef Broth.

7.) Add 1t. of dried Rosemary or 1sprig of fresh rosemary. It is best to mince the leaves and sprinkle evenly.

8.) Add 1t. of dried Thyme or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme. It is best to mince the leaves and sprinkle evenly.

9.) Place Potatoe & Carrot pieces in a strainer on the beef.
For "Instant Pot," place on top of the metal rack insert.

10.) Adjust the auto time: Turn "TIME" dial to 60 minutes.

11.) Lock the lid & Press "START"
The pressure cooker will preheat then cook for 60 minutes.

12.) When it is done, release all steam, carefully open lid protecting hands and face, remove the potatoes and carrots to a covered dish to keep warm while you make the gravy.

13.) Remove the meat to a clean cutting board. (Cover with foil.)
(Never cross-contaminate by using a board that had raw meat.)

14.) Strain the pot of juices through a sieve into a glass 4 cup measuring cup.

15.) Pour 1 Cup into a bowl and whisk with 2T of Cornstarch.

16.) Pour the juices back into the pressure cooker & thicken on the "sauté" setting OR into a saucepan over Medium-High heat on the stove & bring to a boil. Then slow boil & whisk until thickened.

17.) Cut or shred the pot roast.

18.) Cut the carrots & the potatoes into smaller pieces.

Add microwaved peas if you would like.
Serve with the gravy on top.

*Chuck Roast: (from the shoulder of the cow) is tender & flavorful (Pressure Cook 40" minimum.)

*Bottom Round Roasttoughest, leanest so "healthier," less flavorful, so use more gravy. (Pressure Cook 60" minimum.)

I always cook any cut 10" extra to get it more tender.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup with Chicken 

Everyone who ever tries this goes crazy! 
'What a way to make a chicken & vegetables meal fabulous!!!

Level: Easy
Servings: 4


5 T regular salted Butter (divided 1 T & 4 T)

1/2 Cup of finely minced white onion or yellow onion (which is usually less than half of an onion).

2 T All Purpose Flour

1 Cup of Whole Milk & 1 Cup of Cream (or 2 Cups of "Half & Half")

2 Cups Chicken Broth (regular salted)

2 & 1/2 Cups of FRESH Broccoli small-cut florets (Cut so that the top of the florets are 1/2" to 3/4" wide and the stems 1" long.) See video.

1 & 1/2 Cups of Matchstick Carrots (approximately 2 to 3 carrots, depending on the size, julienned 1/8" X 1/8" X 1")
See the video for how to julienne uniform matchsticks or allumettes.

8 oz. (which is 2 & 1/2 Cups) Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese
(It is important to fold this in last, after the vegetables are cooked and soup is removed from the heat, to keep it from getting grainy in texture. It will be very smooth.)

1/8 t freshly ground pepper (or 1/4 t regular black pepper) 

If making with CHICKEN added,

2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

One Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast 1" X 2" pieces.* You'll chop smaller after cooking.

Salt & Pepper

*My video shows how to filet a chicken breast much cleaner/smoother than you will find in most grocery store packages where the bottoms can be shredded and uneven. Cutting the pieces uniformly will make them cook evenly, and the result will be very juicy. Once rested for 2-3", you may cut them or pull them apart into 1/2" bite-size pieces, so that they are uniform with the carrots and broccoli, and EVERY bite is PERFECT.

This is AMAZING soup!!!

It is so much easier to make than it appears below.
 I just include every detail that someone might want to know. 

See the video.


1.)  Melt 1 T of butter in a large stock pot (soup pot) over medium heat. 

2.) Add the 1/2 Cup of finely minced onion, and stir just until translucent/softened. They will cook more as the soup cooks.

3.) Slide the onions to one side of the pot. To the other side, add 4 T of butter and melt, add the flour a little at a time, whisking to keep it smooth and continue to cook for one minute (to get the flour taste cooked out).

4.) Slowly & gradually whisk in the Half & Half until completely smooth.

5.) Stir in the chicken broth.

6.) When the liquid begins to simmer (hot enough to have tiny bubbles), add the carrots & broccoli.

(They will be "fork-tender" when the chicken is ready, but do not overcook.)

...While the soup is cooking.

7.) Heat 1 T of Olive Oil in a Sautépan over Medium-High heat. & Cook Chicken pieces. 

The juices will quickly add more moisture because you will be cooking with the lid on. You do not want to add too much oil or it will pop and spatter. Chicken is supposed to stick to the pan and be left for a minute to "seal" the flesh. It will naturally release and be easily moved.

For extremely juicy, perfectly cooked chicken, cook the chicken pieces as specified below. Do not allow them to brown.
Carefully place each piece flat in a medium-high heated and oiled pan. Always test a piece of chicken in the pan. If the oil splatters, wait until the pan is slightly cooler. If the chicken does nothing, wait until the oil/pan is slightly hotter. The chicken pieces should calmly sizzle and stick lightly to the pan (whether it is a full piece of chicken or small pieces). Do not move the piece(s) until they "release" easily. Then lightly cook the same way on the other sides. Once the outside is no longer pink, cover the saucepan, and cook (flipping a few times) until the internal temperature of each is 163 degrees Fahrenheit. (The temperature will quickly rise to 165 degrees F while resting on cutting board for a couple of minutes.

8.) Quickly chop into smaller pieces approximately 1/2" (keeping them hot and so as not rise in temperature).

9.) If the carrots and broccoli are fork-tender, remove the stock pot from the heat, stir for approximately 10 seconds to cool, and fold in the cheese. 

10.) Fold in the chopped chicken pieces.

11.) Add pepper if you would like to perk up the flavor.
Additional salt should not be necessary (due to the cheese, chicken stock, and salted butter), but if you taste it and desire even more flavor, add a pinch and it will make a difference.
If your soup becomes too thick, stir in milk (not broth).

You will be addicted to this soup!

Thursday, February 28, 2019


using an Electric Roaster Oven

Preheat electric Roaster Oven for 15" to 350 degrees F.

Roasted Chicken or Turkey Rub (Makes Natural Gravy, too)

Buttery Herb Rub:
for 7-8 pound Turkey, Turkey Breast or Whole Chicken
(Double for a 14-pound turkey)

In a bowl, mix together:

1 T vegetable oil

3 T softened, room temperature butter

1 t. kosher salt or sea salt (1/2 t. if you only have regular table salt)

1/2 t. black pepper

1t. dry thyme

1 t. dry rosemary

1/2 t. dry sage

1/4 t. garlic powder

When completely combined, rub on and under the skin of the chicken or turkey. You may also rub any excess on the inside of the cavity. Roast with the legs up. For a turkey, tuck the wings under.

(See Video for Rinsing, Removing Giblets, & Food Safety Reminder.) Do not rinse OR rinse low and slow, so that splattering does not spread Salmonella & cross-contaminate. Sanitize area after. Sanitizer must sit on surfaces for 

Roast for approximately 15 minutes per pound, but check before the estimated time is complete.

Test before the expected finished time.
With an electric roaster, you do not baste. The juices and steam stays inside, self-basting the bird.

It is okay to put a bird with a pre-packaged pop-up button into the roaster, but you should still test all parts with a meat thermometer.

*ALWAYS TEST in various spots, making sure that every part of the bird has reached 165 degrees F (74 degrees Celcius for chicken / 180 degrees for turkey).  Some parts will be at a higher temperature.

The bird will continue to cook as it rests covered with aluminum foil, so do not exceed.

REST covered with aluminum foil for 10" to 15" to allow all juices inside to redistribute throughout. This makes the difference between juicy or dry meat.
I use a piece of aluminum foil underneath to catch additional juices and easily pour them for the gravy. (See video.) 

*When testing the temperature, insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, and make sure that you do not touch the bone, as this will give you an incorrect read. The thickest part of the thigh is usually the last part to reach 165 F. Other parts of the bird, like the breast, may reach 180 degrees F. at the same time.
If using a leave-in meat thermometer like a glass top Taylor, insert the thermometer into the upper, thigh (near the part where it connects to the breast), making sure that it is in at a slight angle to be inserted deeply into the thickest part but not touch the bone, and leave it in while cooking. If using an instant-read thermometer, insert the same way, but only while testing after the chicken has cooked for at least 40".  Instant-read thermometers are not left in.
As long as every part of a chicken at least 165F, the USDA says that it is safe to eat, even though it may have a pink tint inside. This is confusing to some people.

(Many chefs are now removing the chicken at lower temps, and allowing the thickest part of the thigh to reach 165 degrees as it rests covered with aluminum foil, preventing the meat to be dry.)

While the Turkey or chicken rests, you can make the Simple, Natural Gravy
(which is so delicious that I roast chicken quite often JUST to have this gravy).

NATURAL GRAVY: Simple & Magnificent

so smooth

Makes 4 cups of gravy!

After you have removed the bird from the roaster, add 1/4 Cup of water to the roaster.
Stir all of the drippings (everything in there) together.
Pour, or using a baster transfer, all of the juices and drippings into a 4 Cup glass measuring cup with a spout.
See video for both pouring and baster-removal methods.

Add unsalted (store-bought) Chicken Broth to measure 4 full Cups of liquid.
You can use Vegetable Broth for turkey.

In a medium-size saucepan, over medium heat, make a Roux:
Melt 3T regular salted Butter.
Gradually add 1T of Flour, stirring constantly while sprinkling in the flour.
Stir for 1 minute. This not only thickens the Roux but cooks-off the flour taste.

SLOWLY add about 1/2 C. of the broth, whisking quickly until smooth, then slowly add the rest of the 4 cups of broth while whisking until smooth.

Stir or slowly whisk often until it thickens to a very fluid consistency, but not as thick as you would think that gravy should be. The hot gravy will thicken as it cools to a "still very warm" temperature.
(Thick gravy is a thing of the past, and au jus is more desirable, so "error on the thinner side.")

If the gravy is too intensely seasoned, add water and continue cooking until thickened again.
If it is not flavorful enough, add a touch of salt, but it should definitely be SEASONED PERFECTLY if you seasoned the bird as above.

Natural Gravy should be thin enough to pour very easily through a strainer.
Remember, it will thicken as it cools.

Pour through a strainer into your serving dish. Keep covered until ready to serve!


YouTube video:

Saturday, February 23, 2019


30" meal
'No pans or trays to clean;
only 1 bowl and cutting board.

If you think that you don't like seafood or salmon,
think again.
This dinner with AMAZE & make you feel fantastic!


Salmon filet with Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic & Lemon (crushed red peppers optional)*

Sliced Zucchini with Julienne Red Bell Peppers 

Crisped Roasted Broccoli Florets with Crushed Red Pepper

baked salmon in aluminum foil with herbs, garlic, lemon & seasoning

*(shown with Parchment Paper, Aluminum Foil, Skin-on, and Skinless options)

3 Baking Sheets
Aluminum Foil or Parchment Paper

Fresh 1" Salmon Filet(s)
Olive Oil
Garlic: (approx. 1 clove per filet)
Lemon(s) (approx. 3 small slices per filet or 2 large slices)
Fresh Rosemary
Fresh Thyme

Fresh Broccoli (5 - 7 florets per person)
1 Zucchini (per 3 - 4 people)
1 Red Bell Pepper (per 2-3 people)

Red Chili Flakes
Kosher Salt/Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220  degrees C)
Make sure that oven has reached temp. before baking.

For the Vegetable Sides:

Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Wash zucchini and red bell pepper and dry firmly with paper towels (to remove the wax that grocery stores apply).

Cut Zucchini into 1/4" slices at a diagonal (skin-on)
Julienne the Red Bell Pepper
Toss zucchini slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper (by hand in a medium-size mixing bowl).
Place zucchini slices (without touching each other) on one side of the first baking sheet.

Place the red bell pepper strips on the other side of the same baking sheet.
You will want to eat them together, but not bake them on top of one another (for proper baking textures of each and more vivid flavors). 

Cut Broccoli into large bite-size pieces. Sliced in half with flat cut bottoms browns the best.
(See video.) Rinse, & pat dry well with paper towels.
In the same bowl, coat broccoli florets with olive oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, and spread out evenly on the second baking sheet (flat cuts down).

Bake on individual oven racks for approximately 20" until the broccoli florets are brown and crispy in most areas. The zucchini slices and red bell pepper stips should be soft (al dente to soft, but not mushy).

For the Salmon:

Gently rinse salmon filets under a slow stream of water, so as not to splash bacteria, and to rinse the silver skin particles off of the skinless side or other particles. (Some chefs say not to rinse, but I side with those who say to do it this way for the above reasons.)
Wash hands well, each time you handle the fish.

On your work surface, place a large piece of aluminum foil (which seals best) or parchment paper (See video.) for each salmon filet.

Place each individually (skin side down)** on each piece of foil.

Top each with salt, freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of red chili flakes, 1 clove of minced garlic, 3 small lemon slices or 2 large slices, a squeeze of lemon (approx. 1/4t), 1 sprig of rosemary & 3 sprigs of thyme.

Seal with aluminum foil or parchment paper. (See video for how & comparison when done.)

Bake one inch salmon filets for approximately 12 minutes.
Carefully (because very hot steam comes out) unwrap one filet and check for doneness.
They should have become pink, opaque, 145 degrees F in the center, and be flakey but not dry.

Serve salmon and the side vegetables together on the same plate.
See the plating in the video.
You can add a lemon on each plate, however, your guest may automatically squeeze the lemon on their salmon before tasting, and the salmon is PERFECT and BEST as is!

**Most information that you will read states that you should not remove the skin or the salmon will be dry, due to the fatty layer that the skin provides.
However, I will show you in my video, not only HOW to filet and remove the skin flawlessly but also that the piece of salmon baked this way comes out just as juicy and perfectly cooked as the other 2 skin-on filets.

If you do leave the skin on, serve it skin side down (with the lemon slices and herbs still on the top.) They are not to be eaten, however, they will keep the moisture in until removed by you or your guest, and without them, both sides of the salmon will look unpleasant.  Flake the salmon from the skin with each bite.

*My video shows you the side by side comparison of:
~ aluminum foil wrapped, skinless
~ parchment wrapped, skin-on
~ aluminum foil wrapped, skin-on


Saturday, January 12, 2019


made with BISQUICK

"Perfect Every time, a Made-Monthly Recipe"

Chicken & Dumplings made with Bisquick

Makes 4 - 5 servings

~ Cooked CHICKEN* 
(There are two different ways that I cook my chicken. You may choose whichever option you prefer, or purchase a pre-cooked chicken at the grocery store.)
(Wash hands well and sanitize surfaces after raw chicken.)

YouTube Video:
(shows how easy it is)  Chicken & Dumplings made with Bisquick

* Option 1:
Cook whole chicken in an electric roaster oven.
(shown in video)

1.) Preheat Electric Roaster Oven for 15"- 20" to 350 degrees F.

2.) For the Rub, mix together in a bowl:
      3T room temperature or softened Butter
      1T Vegetable Oil
      1 t. Kosher Salt or Sea Salt (1/2 t. if using table salt)
      1/4 t. dried Sage
      1 t. dried Rosemary (Crush between your hands to open up the flavor.)
      1 t. dried Thyme
      1/2 t. Garlic Powder (Trust me; you don't need fresh.)
      1/2 t. Black Pepper

3. Rinse the chicken (being careful not to splatter bacteria ) & remove the giblets (liver, gizzards, heart) & sometimes the neck that are loose inside. They should fall out as you rinse water through the center from neck to bottom. If not, reach in and slide them out. They may even be in a paper or plastic bag, inside.

4. Pat the chicken dry.

5. Rub the above mixture over and under the chicken skin.

6. Place the chicken into the roaster on the rack. The rack has handles that allow you to pull the chicken out of the roaster. 

7. Cook for 10" per each pound to reach 165 degrees.
(5 pounds = 50")
(Six pounds would be an hour.)
My chicken in the video is 5.37 pounds and (should have taken 53 minutes, but it was done in 40", so check 10" early.

8.) Insert the thermometer in various spots of the breast and legs, making sure not to touch any bones (or the temperature will not be accurate). Remove the chicken when no part is under 165 degrees Farenheight.

9.) Let the chicken rest on aluminum foil for 10 minutes on a cutting board. 

10.) Pour the juices from the foil and the roaster into a measuring cup.

11. Add boxed or canned chicken broth to make 4 Cups, & you will use an additional 4 cup (32oz.) box or can. 

If you are not roasting your own chicken, you will need 2 (32oz.) boxes of Chicken Broth.

To make the Chicken & Dumplings 

~ 2 Cups of shredded chicken
~ 4T Butter (or 3T and 1T vegetable oil)
~ 1/2 c. diced Onion (approximately 1/2 medium onion)
~ 3 Carrots (peeled and cut in 1/4" slices) or 1 1/2 C.
~ 3 ribs of Celery (cut in half lengthwise & then into 1/2" pieces.) 1/2 C.
~ 2 boxes of Chicken Broth (i.e.., 64 oz. or equivalent with real juices) 
~ 1/2 t. dry Thyme
~ 1/4t. dry Sage
~ 1t. salt
~ 1 cup "Half & Half" (or 1/2 c. Milk & 1/2 c. Cream)
~ 1 cup Frozen Petite Peas (thawed)
~ 1T dried Parsley (for on top of the dumplings, not mixed in)

1.) Melt 4T Butter in a large stockpot over Medium-Low heat.

2.) Sauté Onion, Carrots, and Celery, just until onion is tender and translucent. Nothing should brown. Technically, this is not sautéing. You are cooking a mirepoix (but in a 1:3:1 ratio, carrot dominant, instead of the standard 2:1:1 ratio).

3.) When Onion is tender and translucent, add the 64oz of chicken broth/juices.

4.) Stir in the Thyme and Sage,

5.) Bring to a boil over Medium-High heat.

6.) Add the shredded chicken, and bring heat to a low boil.

7.) Add thawed Petite Peas, and bring to a slow boil again.

8.) Stir in the "Half & Half" and reduce to medium-low

9.) Add the Bisquick Dumplings (measurements below):

For 8 to 9 Dumplings:
(They will be a better consistency if you make the batter a little bit ahead of time, for example, while the chicken is cooking.

2 & 1/4 cups of Bisquick
~ 2/3 cup Milk

Stir gently with a fork. Do not overwork or they will not be fluffy; they will be heavy and gummy.

Drop loose balls of the prepared dumpling batter into the pot. (They should be slightly smaller than golfballs; they will expand. Do not overwork the dough. They will float on the top & become irregular in shape.)

10.) Sprinkle with dried parsley.

11.) Turn heat to low.

12.) Cook dumplings for 15" covered.

13.) Uncover and cook for approximately 10" to 15" more.
The dumpling consistency should be like fresh cake inside, not gummy.

- Ladle the soup into bowls, and top each bowl with 3 dumplings.


Delicious, Warm & Wonderful ~ 
a Family Favorite

*Option 2 for cooking chicken:
Brown raw chicken pieces in a large skillet until 165 degrees F.
You can also just brown them in the bottom of the stockpot that you are going to use.

~ 3 chicken thighs 
2 boneless chicken breasts 
Whole 2-pound chicken, cut into parts (See "How to Breakdown a Chicken" below.) 
 ~ Sea Salt
~ Freshly Ground Black Pepper
approximately 2 cups of Flour

1.) Rinse Chicken pieces & Pat Dry

2.) In a large bowl, sprinkle Salt & Pepper on Chicken pieces and Dredge (coat) in Flour.

3.) In a stock pot, melt 4T of Butter over Medium heat.

4.) Brown the Chicken on each side for 2", then cover & cook until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F.

5.) Remove to a cutting board (or large plate) and COVER (so that it "rests," continues to "cook" & locks in the juices).

6.) In the same pot, add 4 T of Butter & sauté 1/2 C. diced Onion, 3 Carrots sliced in 1/4 " slices & 1/2 C. chopped Celery just until the onion is soft (making sure that nothing browns).

7.) Add 64 oz (2 boxes) of Chicken Broth & stir.

8.) Add 1/2 t. dried Sage & 1/2 t. dried Thyme & 1 t. kosher salt. Stir.

9.) Cover & keep over medium heat.

10.) Shred Chicken with 2 forks.

11.) Add 4 Cups Shredded Chicken to the pot. (1 Chicken)

12.) Simmer, covered, until the carrots are al denté (almost tender).

13.) Add 1 C. thawed Petite Peas & Stir.

14.)  Stir in 1 C. "Half & Half," and bring to a simmer.

TASTE to see if you would like to add more salt.

15.) Mix:
2 & 1/4 cups of Bisquick &
~ 2/3 cup Milk 
gently, with a fork.

16.) Drop loose balls of dumpling mix into the pot. (They should be slightly smaller than golfball size. Do not overwork the dough. They will float to the top & become irregular in shape.)

17.)  Sprinkle with approx. 1T dried parsley.

18.)  Turn heat to Low.

19.) Cook dumplings for 15" 

- The dumpling consistency should be like fresh cake inside, not gummy.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, and top each bowl with 2 dumplings.


Monday, January 7, 2019

Easy CHILI with
Perfect Spice Blend

Low-Fat! with No-Fat Greek Yogurt (instead of sour cream).
It makes it sweet & creamy!!!

CHILI  Spice Blend & Recipe

YouTube Video for 

Chili, "Parsley & Pepper Butter Pats," and "Cheddar Tuiles"

(Beginner Level)

Simple Ingredients:

~ 1 pound Ground Beef (93% Fat-Free)
~ 1 Medium Onion (1 Cup ~ finely chopped)
~ 3 Large Cloves of Garlic (1/8 C minced)

~ 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
~ 8 oz. can Tomato Sauce 
~ 16 oz. can Kidney Beans (I use Bush's Chili Beans with SPICY CHILI SAUCE.)
~ 15 oz. can Pinto Beans
~ 1T "Hickey Bottom Grillin' Rub"*

Easy to Cook:
Everything is cooked in a Large Stock Pot (chili pot, spaghetti pot with lid, soup pot).

1.) Over Medium Heat, brown ground beef with chopped onion and minced garlic.
2.) Add all of the rest of the ingredients (included all of the juices in the cans).
3.) Stir & reduce heat to LOW
4.) COVER and simmer for at least 15" but preferably an hour.
5.) Stir Occasionally

Top with a "shredded Mexican-blend cheese," freshly shredded Colby or Cheddar cheese, and/or make the Cheese Tuiles shown in my photo. See how to make & form on my YouTube video.

Try Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream!
(I'm not even someone who normally eats non-fat, low-calorie food, nor eats Greek yogurt, but when I was out of sour cream, I tried this because a family member had one in the refrigerator. Now I MUCH PREFER this flavor combo! It makes chili slightly sweeter (balancing the heat) and so creamy!!! 

See my video for how to make the parsley and red pepper butter pats & serve on warm cornbread! 

*(You can use this Grillin' Rub on Steaks, Chicken, Pork, Ribs, Vegetables & more. See recipes on their website for spices and BBQ sauces:
This is my recipe.
The spice replaces traditional "chili spice packets," because it contains non-GMO:
Kosher salt, black pepper, Tamarind powder (healthy, sweet), cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, coriander, cayenne pepper, a habanero powder blend (& hickory smoke powder, which I don't detect when I make this chili).

Hickey Bottom BBQ is a woman-owned, American Original Barbeque Company named
after the owner's hometown of Hickey Bottom, PA.

All of their Barbeque sauces have
NO high-fructose corn syrup
NO artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
are Gluten-Free & MSG-free
Exceptional Flavors for Grilling, Dipping, Topping Meatloaf & so much more! 

You can follow Hickey Bottom BBQ on Facebook & Instagram.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Friday, August 3, 2018

Molecular Gastronomy
Cold Oil Spherification Method

This is the EASIEST method to make juice-filled beads or boba. There are no chemicals used; the only ingredients are:
JUICE (or any liquid)
"Knox" Powdered Gelatin 
(found in your grocery store next to Jello)

You'll drop the mixture into cold vegetable oil, which forms the spheres, but you will rinse it off.

My favorite droppers to use are shown on the right. I got them at Amazon, and they are only $9.99 for 3 glass droppers!

Balsamic Vinegar "Caviar" on Bruschetta

Pineapple Boba

Strawberry Spheres 
for drinks or desserts