Friday, October 21, 2016

Fig & Granola Baked Apples

Somehow summer has slipped quietly away and fall is fully in the air.  And while some might think fall is the season of pumpkin everything, for me it's all about apples! Whether you pick some up at your local Farmer's Market or pick them right off the tree in the orchard, there is nothing quite like sweet, juicy fall apples.  Whenever we would go apple picking, it was so much fun picking them from the trees, we would inevitably come home with more apples than we knew what to do with. Once we got tired of just eating them, there would be pies, tarts, crisps and more!  This super easy recipe for baked apples, that are filled with wholesome nuts and granola and tied together with the fabulous flavor of fig spread, makes a great dessert or an even better breakfast.

You'll want to use baking apples for this recipe.  The best baking apples offer a balance of sweet and tart flavors as well as flesh that doesn't break down in the oven. These are some of the best varieties I've found: Jonagold, Braeburn, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, and my personal favorites Honeycrisp and Winesap.  If apple picking you'll be limited to what's available at the Orchard. You can always ask them which varieties they recommend for baking. 

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time:  50 minutes
4 servings
4 large baking apples 
1/2 cup granola with pomegranate or cranberries, coarsely crushed 
1/4 cup chopped pecans 
1/2 cup Dalmatia Fig Spread with Orange or Dalmatia Fig Spread - Original, divided 
3/4 cup apple cider or water 
4 teaspoons butter, divided 

Preheat oven to 350°. Core apples, being careful not to cut through to the bottom. Peel top 1/3 of apples. Arrange apples, peeled-side up, in medium baking dish; set aside.
Combine granola and pecans in small bowl; stir in 1/3 cup Fig Spread. Melt remaining Fig Spread and brush on peeled parts of apples. Evenly spoon mixture into apples, mounding on top. Top each apple with 1 teaspoon butter. Pour cider around apples. Bake 50 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve, if desired, with heavy cream or ice cream.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini and Gouda Stacks

Eggplant, you either love it or hate it.  I'm definitely a lover!  If you are too, you're gonna want to make this.  If you're not a lover, no worries, you can skip the eggplant and use zucchini only. And if you've never tried don't know what you're missing.  August is the best time for fresh local eggplant, so now's the time.  There are so many varieties of eggplant available now. Shapes, colors and flavors vary but any type will work in this recipe.

This light and easy recipe takes advantage of the end of the summer bounty of fresh veggies you can get right now at your Farmers' Market.  August is peak season not only for eggplant, but for zucchini and fresh Jersey tomatoes.  And for those of you lucky enough to have access to Jersey tomatoes, you know there is nothing else like them!

These cheesy stacks are ready to eat in under 30 minutes.  I eat this as a main dish,  but it also makes a great first course or side dish.  Leftover stacks are great as sandwich.  Heat them up, place on a crusty roll drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic or spread with some pesto.  

Recipe developed for Beemster

Prep time: 
Cook time: 

Serving size: 4

3 tablespoons olive oil 
2 large cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 small eggplant (about 12 oz.) sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices 
1 large zucchini (about 12 oz.) sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices 
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced 
1 cup finely shredded Beemster Paradiso Gouda (about 4 oz.) 

Combine olive oil, garlic and salt. Toss with eggplant and zucchini. Arrange eggplant and zucchini on grill and cook 4 minutes turning once, or until tender-crisp. Sprinkle Beemster evenly over vegetables and grill 1 minute or until Beemster is just melted.

To make stacks, arrange 4 eggplant slices on foil tray. On each eggplant slice arrange tomato and a few zucchini slices. Repeat layer once then top with eggplant slice. Place tray on grill and cook 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve with additional shredded Beemster and garnish with basil.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tequila Lime Mahi-Mahi with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

It's National Tequila Day and it's hot as you-know-what out there, so break out the tequila and fire up the grill.  Sure you can make a great margarita with your tequila, but did you know you can cook with it too?! Yup, tequila makes everything better.  So grab that bottle, put some in the marinade, put some in the salsa and oh yeah, don't forget to put a whole lot in the margaritas!

Grilling the pineapple enhances the flavor of this fresh fruit salsa making it the perfect accompaniment to slightly spicy grilled mahi-mahi.

photography by Paul Gelsobello Studio
food stylist: Catherine Paukner
prop stylist: Heather Bean
recipe developed for Baker's Joy

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Marinate Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes
4 servings

3 Tbsp. lime juice, divided
2 Tbsp. tequila, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
1 lb. mahi-mahi fillets (or other firm white fish fillet)
1 can Griller’s Joy Grilling Non-Stick Cooking Spray (High Temperature Formula)
1/2 pineapple, cored, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch thick wedges
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded, and chopped
1 avocado, diced
3 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)

Combine 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon tequila, garlic and chipotle chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Pour marinade over fish and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes

Spray grill grates with Griller's Joy spray and preheat grill to medium.  Grill pineapple 6 to 8 minutes until tender and slightly charred.  Remove pineapple, chop and combine with remaining ingredients.

Grill mahi-mahi fillets 8 minutes, turning once, until fish flakes.  Serve salsa over fish.

Serving suggestion:  Serve with warmed flour or corn tortillas for a delicious fish taco.


Cooks Tip:   The heat from jalapeno comes from it's seeds, so remove them for a more mild dish.  If you like it extra spicy, you can leave some or all of the seeds in the jalapeno.  Remember to always be careful when handling jalapeno's.  Wear gloves or wash hands very thoroughly after handling and be careful to not rub your face or eyes.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Fig & Bourbon Ice Cream Topping

When it's too hot outside to cook, ice cream for dinner sounds like a perfect plan.   But not plain old ice cream of course. It needs this luscious and easy Fig and Bourbon Topping.  Only three ingredients and you can make it in minutes in the microwave.  There's no need to even turn on the stove.  Top your sundae off with a little fresh fruit, some granola, maybe a few nuts or whatever else you're feeling and you've pretty much got all of your basic food groups covered, or maybe not, but it's ok!  

If you're wondering what to do with all that leftover bourbon...mix it with some with lemonade or ginger beer for a cool cocktail.    I'll be experimenting with some simple summer cocktails with mine, so stay tuned!
Recipe developed for Dalmatia

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Yield: 3/4 cup

1 (6-ounce) jar Dalmatia Fig Spread with Orange or Dalmatia Fig Spread - Original 
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 


Spoon Fig Spread into microwave-safe bowl and microwave on High for 30 seconds. Stir in bourbon and microwave on High 1 minute, stirring once halfway through cooking.  Add butter and stir until completely melted.

Serve over vanilla ice cream and top with crushed granola or chopped nuts.

Garnish if desired with fresh mint and a few orange slices.


Oh and this spread isn't only for ice cream.  Spoon over yogurt, fruit, cakes and more!  It's so easy and delicious I'm sure you'll find plenty of great uses for it.

If you have any leftover, this topping will keep for several weeks.  Just keep it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.  Putting it back into the Dalmatia jar works well since the jars are just so pretty.  

This also makes a lovely gift for the holidays or when visiting friends for summer barbecues.  Pour the mixture into a ball jar and tie a pretty ribbon around the outside and you are good to go.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Kale, Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

It's that time of year when gorgeous produce starts showing up at Farmer's Markets everywhere.  I don't know about you, but I just can't resist pulling over at a market or roadside farmstand.  One of my favorite Farmers Market finds are fresh beets.  This salad highlights fresh cooked beets. While you can cook them however you like, I prefer to roast them.  Roasting beets brings out their rich, earthy flavor - and they taste nothing like the stuff that comes out of a can!  

Serve them over kale topped with fruits, nuts.  Skip the bottled dressing and whip up this delicious 3-ingredient honey balsamic dressing and you have a super healthy nutrient-rich salad.  Creamy goat cheese adds just the right amount of indulgence too!

recipe developed for Celebrity
Prep time: 
Serving size: 4

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
3 tablespoons orange juice 
2 tablespoons honey 
8 cups baby kale or spring mix 
1 cup drained mandarin orange slices 
1 cup sliced cooked beets 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired 
1 (4.5-ounce) package Celebrity Lite Goat Cheese, crumbled 

Combine vinegar, orange juice and honey; season with salt and pepper if desired. Set aside.

Arrange kale in salad bowl or serving platter.

Top with remaining ingredients and serve with dressing.



Whenever I cook fresh beets, I always roast them.  It really brings out the flavor of the beets.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove leaves and root and wash beets thoroughly.  Arrange beets on roasting pan.  Leave small beets whole, cut large beets in half.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes.  I like my beets to have a bite to them. If you prefer to have them softer, leave in the oven a little longer.

Let beets cool, and peel with a sharp paring knife.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Toasting Nuts:

Toasting nuts really brings out their flavor, so I always like to toast mine even when using on salads. 

Oven Method:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts in an even layer on a baking sheet. Coat with oil.  Roast for 5 to 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Remove from baking sheet (nuts will continue to toast on the hot baking sheet)  and cool.

Skillet Method:
Heat nuts or seeds in a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until they're golden brown and they give off a rich, toasty fragrance. Stir frequently for even toasting. Remove immediately from skillet (nuts will continue to toast on the hot skillet) and cool.

I typically use the skillet method, because inevitably, when toasting nuts in the oven, I walk away for a few minutes and when I come back they are overdone.  Always give a lot of attention when toasting nuts as it's very easy to overdo it and then they'll be ruined.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Berry Cherry Chocolate Empanadas

Tis the season...for fabulous, fresh summer berries! While I never get tired of eating them right from the fridge or muddling them into my cocktails, sometimes you just want a little something more. Here's a fun dessert recipe that's perfect for summer nights. Cherry-infused chocolate goat cheese (pick up an extra package or two because you're going to want to eat this all by itself!) and fresh berries are an unexpected filling in these easy-to-make empanadas.
Recipe developed for Celebrity
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serving size: 4

4 large empanada discos
1 cup assorted berries
1 (4.5-ounce) package Celebrity Chocolate Cherry Goat Cheese, sliced into 8 rounds
Oil for frying

Arrange ¼ cup berries in center of each empanada disco. Top with 2 Goat Cheese rounds.
Moisten edges with water and fold over to form a half moon. With fork, press edges tightly to seal.

Heat 1 inch of oil in deep skillet. Add empanadas in 2 batches and fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.  Serve warm.


If you can't find the chocolate cherry goat cheese, you can use plain goat cheese or any flavored goat cheese with a sweet flavor profile. And of course, almost any fruit will work well in this recipe. Peaches, plums, thinly sliced pears or apples are great choices.  In a pinch you can also use a fruit spread instead of fresh fruit.

If you don't want to deal with frying because it's too messy or you want to cut back on fat and calories, these empanadas are delicious when baked instead of fried.

Baked Empanadas: Preheat over to 425°F. Arrange empanadas on lightly greased baking sheet. Brush with lightly beaten egg. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

If making for a crowd or a dinner party, try making them mini!

Mini Empanadas: Use 6 small empanada discos; cut Goat Cheese into 6 rounds, divide fruit evenly among discos and seal and cook as above.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Beemster Smoked Gouda BBQ Chicken Pizza

If you're craving the barbecue flavors of summertime, but can't wait for Mother Nature to give us some sunshine, whip up this Smoked Gouda and BBQ Chicken Pizza.   Smoky Gouda and sweet barbecue give this pizza summer flavor straight from the oven. When the weather finally warms up, it's even better on the grill - because, of course, everything is better on the grill!  Quick and easy for a weeknight dinner or for a delicious bite with an ice cold beer after a hot summer beach day.
Recipe developed for Beemster

Prep time: 
Cook time: 

Serving size: 6

1 12-inch prebaked pizza crust 
3/4 cup barbecue sauce, divided 
2 cups cut-up cooked chicken 
1-1/2 cups shredded Beemster Smoked Gouda
2 green onions, chopped and divided 
chopped fresh cilantro (optional) 

Spread ¼ cup barbecue sauce over pizza crust. Toss chicken with remaining barbecue sauce and arrange evenly over pizza crust.

Sprinkle with half of the green onions and top with shredded Beemster.

Grill Method: Place pizza on preheated grill and cook on low 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and chopped fresh cilantro.

Oven Method:
Preheat oven to 425°F and bake 12 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with remaining green onions and chopped fresh cilantro.

This Pizza tastes great whether you grill it or bake it in the oven.  I usually let the weather decide how I'll be preparing it!

I used a Boboli Pizza Crust for this recipe, but there are a variety of brands out there now and they come in all shapes and sizes.  Any crust, flatbread or even pita or naan will work.  You will just need to adapt the amount of sauce and toppings to fit your crust.  It's fun to use a pita or naan and make individual pizzas.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Beemster Baked Eggs

Nothing says love like a little breakfast in bed, especially if accompanied by a Bloody Mary, or two! Show your mom some love tomorrow with these deliciously easy baked eggs.    With only five ingredients and a fifteen minute prep time, these baked eggs are so foolproof, even a young child can help put this one together.  Trust me, you'll make mom's day if you start her off with this fabulous breadfast!

Recipe developed for Beemster

Prep time: 
Cook time: 

Serving size: 6

6 brioche buns 
2 tablespoons butter, melted 
3/4 cup shredded Beemster Mild Gouda
6 slices ham (about 1-ounce each) 
  6 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut a 3 to 4-inch wide hole in the tops of the rolls and hollow out. Brush the insides of rolls with melted butter and add 1 tablespoon Beemster Gouda to each roll. Cut each ham slice in half and use both halves to line each roll. Carefully crack an egg into each roll.

Arrange rolls on baking sheet and cover them loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes or until the eggs are set. Sprinkle each roll with 1 tablespoon Beemster Gouda. Bake for 3 minutes or until Beemster is melted and the eggs are desired doneness.


Brioche is a pastry of French origin.  I chose a Brioche bun for this recipe since it's high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb.  These buns are widely available in supermarkets.  Check the bakery section for them.  If you can't find them, any small bun will work just as well.

Baked, fried or poached eggs are all the rage these days.  And while this is a great breakfast in bed recipe, no need to limit yourself.  This is great for breakfast, brunch or even a light dinner.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Double Chocolate Chipotle Cookies

When we think of Cinco de Mayo recipes we typically think, margaritas, fish tacos, salsa, guacamole...I think you see where I'm going with this.   Dessert isn't typically even on the radar for this holiday. But I think a little sugar and spice will make everything nice...
Smoky chipotle chili powder gives these decadent double chocolate cookies a little sweet heat, but not too much, just the right amount.   A super sweet ending for Cinco de Mayo.  And I think they are a perfect accompaniment to that margarita!
Recipe developed for Baker's Joy
Photography by Paul Gelsobello Studio
Food stylist: Catherine Paulkner
Prop stylist: Heather Bean

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Makes: 52 cookies

1 can Baker's Joy non-stick spray with flour
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups chocolate chips (use a combination: semi-sweet, chunks, milk, and dark)

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with Baker's Joy spray.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, chipotle chili powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder; set aside.  Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Gradually add flour mixture and beat just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes until edges are set.  Leave cookies on cookie sheet 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove cookies and cool on wire rack.


The secret to perfect cookies (and most baked goods) is in not overworking the dough.  So once the wet and dry ingredients are combined, that's it - stop mixing.  You're ready to make the cookies!

When cookies are done, let them rest for a minute or 2 on the baking sheet.  If you try to remove them too quickly, they'll be soft and may break when you're transferring them to the cooling rack.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Beemster Steak Tacos

Whether you're looking for a Taco Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo, quick weeknight dinner, or something for company, this recipes fits the bill.  Fast and easy but doesn't sacrifice on flavor.  This quick simple marinade doesn't need much time when you use it with skirt steak.  When skirt steak is cooked right, it's tender so the marinade here is purely for flavor, not to tenderize.  If you're in a hurry, skip the marinate time and just brush frequently with the marinade while grilling.
Recipe developed for Beemster
Prep time: 
Cook time: 

Serving size: 6

3 tablespoons lime juice 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 tablespoon cumin 
2 cloves garlic 
1-1/2 pounds skirt steak 
8 taco size flour or corn tortillas 
1 cup shredded Beemster Aged Gouda

Combine lime juice, oil, cumin and garlic and brush all over steak. Marinate 30 minutes.

Grill or broil steak to desired doneness.

Slice steak and serve in tortillas. Top with Beemster and pickled onion, avocado, shredded cabbage or your favorite taco toppings.


I used skirt steak in this recipe, well - because it's delicious and it's my son's absolute favorite.  (If it were up to him, he'd skip all things that make this a taco and just eat the meat, but at $14 a pound we need to set some limits!)

If you're not familiar with skirt steak, it's a thin, long cut of beef from the diaphragm muscles of the cow. It doesn't look like your typical steak.
The flavor is intensely  beefy, it's very rich and juicy.   It doesn't need much to make it delicious but it does take marinades well.

Cook quickly over high heat.  It's the perfect grilling steak.  For the most tender and flavorful result cook to only to rare (or medium rare if you must) And always remember to cut against the grain when serving.

Skirt steak is a bit pricey, if you like you can use flank or sirloin instead, but it won't be quite as good.

Popcorn Chicken Tacos

This recipe couldn't be any easier.  Literally 5 ingredients and 20 minutes of prep and dinner is on the table. That leaves you with plenty of time to enjoy a margarita (or 2 or 3) this Cinco de Mayo.

Once Cinco de Mayo is over, I'm sure you're family is going to want these over and over again.  And it really is the perfect super-quick weeknight dinner.  Easy enough for practically anyone in the family to make.  The Fajita Skillet Sauce soaks into the coating of the popcorn chicken giving it the most delicious flavor.   Not feeling the chicken? It works just as well with popcorn shrimp!

Recipe developed for Ortega
Prep time: 
Serving size: 4

1 (26-ounce) package popcorn chicken, heated according to package directions 
1 pouch ORTEGA Fajita Skillet Sauce, divided 
8 ORTEGA Fiesta Flats, heated according to package directions 
4 cups shredded cabbage or cole slaw 
4 green onions, chopped 

Toss the chicken with ORTEGA Fajita Skillet Sauce until evenly coated.

Arrange cabbage in warmed ORTEGA Fiesta Flats. Top with chicken and green onions.

If desired, serve with your favorite taco toppings, like chopped tomato, crumbled queso fresco, sliced avocado and sour cream or Mexican crema.


Ortega® Fiesta Flats™ Taco Shells are a fun alternative to traditional taco shells.
Their flat bottom and raised edges make them more stable so they're perfect for piling on tons of toppings.  And face it, tacos are all about the toppings!


If  you'd prefer to not make this with a frozen chicken product, it works with fresh chicken to.  You can use leftover chicken and shredded or cut-up, or in a pinch, pick up a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket.  Toss about 3 cups of shredded or cut-up chicken with the Fajita Skillet sauce and heat in skillet or microwave just until hot.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cinco De Mayo Taco Bar

Margaritas and guacamole are must-haves at your Cinco de Mayo party.  But what else to serve?  A taco bar is a great choice, but skip the ordinary ground beef variety.   With this selection of taco recipes you'll have it covered - from vegetarian to carnivore, slow-cooked to super-quick.    Most everything can be made ahead for a stress-free fest.  You'll want to make your guac the same day, because fresh is always best when it comes to guac!
Classic Guacamole and Margaritas
Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy Beef Tacos
Fish Tacos with Spicy Jalapeno Slaw
Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos
Blackened Shrimp Tacos
Popcorn Chicken Tacos
Beemster Steak Tacos

Setting up a Taco Bar theme party is an easy way to let you be a guest at your own party.  Once everything is set up, there's not a whole lot  that will need your attention other than replenishing items if needed.

Here's how to get started:
Set out plates and warm flour and corn tortillas and taco shells at the beginning of the taco bar.

Next place your fillings.  These need to be kept warm, so using covered dishes or slow cookers is helpful. It's good to have a variety of meat, chicken, seafood and vegetarian options.

Follow the fillings with salsas and toppings. The more, the better, because we know tacos are all about the toppings.   This doesn't have to be overly complicated, there are plenty of great convenience products out there to use.  Jarred salsas, shredded cheese, shredded cabbage, sliced olives, diced chilies, the list is pretty endless.   But you absolutely must make your own guacamole!  There's nothing like fresh guac and frankly, it's just not that hard to make yourself.  And it's worth the effort!

At the end of the table, place the rice and beans. Don't forget appropriate serving utensils for each item and you will probably need plenty of napkins.

You also may want to make a pitcher or two of margaritas so you won't have to play bartender all night.  Have some lime wedges and a plate of Kosher salt on hand for rimming the glasses.