Due to some surgery, I found myself with some extra downtime pre-Thanksgiving this year. Naturally, I binged on cooking shows, Thanksgiving specials in particular. I garnered some great ideas to try for next Thanksgiving since I couldn’t cook this year.

However, with some help from my sister, I was able to try out Ted Allen’s Cointreau Cranberry Relish and it was amazing! I always make fresh cranberry sauce, but is has always been very standard (i.e. basic) and often I’m the only one who has any. That is now forever changed with this cranberry relish, which has amazing depth of favor and fantastic texture. It has a perfect balance of sweet, tart and spice from the cinnamon. Even my sister, who always passes on the cranberry sauce, had this adorning her Thanksgiving plate and every subsequent plate the rest of the weekend.

This is really so good you’ll want to make it all fall and winter! I want it in the fridge all the time - great with turkey (of course), roast chicken, pork chops and in sandwiches. I am even tempted to heat it up and use it as an ice cream topping! As I write this I realize little jars full of this tasty relish would make fantastic hostess gifts this holiday season. Awesome.


Cointreau Cranberry Relish

Adapted from Ted Allen’s version, as seen on The Kitchen, and recipe on The Food Network.


12 oz organic Cranberries

1 finely diced Granny Smith Apple

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of Cointreau

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (generous 1/4 teaspoon)

Grated zest from one lemon and orange


Combine one 12-ounce bag cranberries, 1 diced Granny Smith apple, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup Cointreau, 1/2 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the berries start to pop and continue cooking about 20 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the grated zest of 1 each lemon and orange. Taste. If you feel it should be a little sweeter (I decreased the original amount of sugar) add a little more, if it needs a little more cinnamon, add now; cook for a few more minutes. Set aside to keep at room temperature if using shortly for a meal or chill to keep for longer. It is even delicious straight out of the fridge.



  • Always buy organic if you can, especially important when using the skin of items, like the lemon and oranges you zest for this recipe.

  • The original recipe calls for a peeled and diced apple. We left the skin on the apple, why not? It’s less work and the skin is where most of the nutrition is. But worth mentioning, is that the skin will not breakdown so if you don’t want that texture in your relish, then peel the apple before dicing it.

  • Ours seemed a little too sweet when we followed the original recipe, so we added a little more cinnamon and cooked it a little longer. After it was chilled it was no longer too sweet but I reduced the sugar in this version to tame the sweetness a bit more.

  • I specified finely diced as the original recipe didn’t specify. Without direction from the recipe, we thought a dice similar in size to the cranberries made the most sense. However, in hind sight, a smaller dice would have been better as the cranberries break up much more easily than the apples so in the end the apple pieces stood out.



I have been reducing my soy intake and so switched up my roast chicken recipe by swapping soy sauce out entirely in favor of more garlic salt. My family has been loving this new version even more.


Simple Whole Roast Chicken


3 - 4 lb chicken (preferably pasture raised)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
garlic salt


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Let chicken sit out to come to room temp, pat dry, about 1 - 1.5 hours.

Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove. Set aside. 

Coat the chicken with a light sprinkling of garlic salt. Then place the chicken in its baking vessel. Then brush melted butter over the entire chicken. Once done, sprinkle some more garlic salt everywhere.

Pop it into the oven and bake for about 45 mins to - 75 mins. Take the chicken out and test for doneness at 45 mins. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh and any juices run clear (the legs of the chicken should wiggle easily from the sockets too.)

Once cooked, place the chicken on a cutting board and let sit for about 15 - 20 minutes before carving. It is up to you if you want to tent it with foil when it comes out. It will keep it warmer but it will also cause the crispy skin to loose some crispness. I don't bother to cover anymore. The chicken still stays pretty warm. 


The Next Day

Save the carcass and any left over chicken meat to make chicken soup the next day. Simple start with equal parts water and chicken stock (Brodo's chicken bone broth is divine!), let it come to a boil, add the chicken bones and any left over meat. Add a few large pieces of carrots and celery. After it all comes to a boil, let is simmer for about 3 hours. Remove the soft carrots and celery. Any meat left on the chicken bones should come off easily. Take it all off and then discard the bones. You'll be left with nutrient rich chicken soup and tender chicken meat. I usually leave some in the fridge for my next lunch or dinner and freeze the rest. When I'm ready to eat the soup, I bring it to a boil again on the stove adding some more water and then some vegetables. Even just some chopped cabbage is nice! For my daughter I add in just some diced carrots. Add a little salt for the vegetables and let it simmer until the vegetables are as soft as you want them and serve. Good as is, extra good with a nice piece of bread with butter.  



Part of our Easter Brunch spread

Part of our Easter Brunch spread

Quiche is such a versatile dish to have in your repertoire . They are great for an easy weeknight dinner with a little side salad or as part of weekend brunch gathering spread. I love to serve them at larger gatherings because they are great room temperature, and it is so helpful if you don't have to worry about keeping something warm. It is also easy to make meat filled or vegetarian versions. You can even keep it gluten free by using a gluten free pie shell. 

This is a basic recipe that where you fill in the blanks with your favorite fillings. For large gatherings, we usually make two so we have one with bacon and a veggie only version. 

Flexible Quiche


Ready for the egg mixture to be poured in. When cooking 2, it makes it easier to move in and out of the oven if you place them on a baking sheet.

Ready for the egg mixture to be poured in. When cooking 2, it makes it easier to move in and out of the oven if you place them on a baking sheet.

3/4 cup cooked filling (not including eggs or cheese) - whatever you want to put in in, e.g. asparagus/onion/thyme, bacon/broccoli/onion, mushroom/onion or shallots

5 - 6 eggs

1 cup shredded gruyere

¾ cup half and half

Pie shell (feel free to use frozen store bought, it make everything so easy!)

Salt to taste


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Prepare your 3/4 cup of filling
Cook your filling so you end up with about 3/4 cup worth of filling. If you use asparagus or broccoli parboil them for a just a few minutes to soften just a little. If you are using bacon, slice the bacon into strips and then pan fry until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan onto a plate or bowl lined with a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Then sauté the rest of your filling adding a little salt to taste (if using onions, get that started before your other vegetables) until everything is cooked. Set aside.

Prepare the eggs and cheese
Whisk eggs and half & half together with a little salt.
Grate cheese.

Assemble and bake
Spread most of the cheese on the bottom of the pie shell (which you can use from frozen), layer filling, then pour the egg mixture on top. Sprinkle remaining cheese on the top.  

Bake in the middle of your oven for 30 - 35 minutes until it looks firm and done. Test by poking something in the middle. Let sit for at least 15 mins before serving to finish setting.


Photo Credit:  Betty FONG

Photo Credit: Betty FONG

This is super simple yet the rewards ample. You simply baste the ham as it warms and crisps up in the over with a basic glaze, which will has the added benefit of scenting the air with deliciousness enticing everyone as soon as they walk in the door. It presents well on a cutting board and it yummy warm or cold. For my family it has always accompanied our Easter meal, and sometime other holiday gatherings like Thanksgiving or Christmas. It is also the perfect anchor for any large weekend brunch. 

Roast Ham

Smoked Ham

Buy the best ham you can buy, preferably local and pasture raised. It might be more expensive but it really matters as far as nutrition, flavor, texture and of course for sustainability and animal welfare. 

Glaze (courtesy of my aunt Michelle)

1 cup honey

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

(though I will admit, the last time we made it we left out the ginger and mustard and it was still awesome)


Take your ham out of the fridge for 2 hours before you plan to put it in the oven. It will cook better and more evenly at room temperature. 

Preheat your oven to 280°F. Place your ham on the bottom of a roasting rack. I put the ham right in the rack when I pull it out of the fridge to warm up so it's ready to go later. 

Measure out all of the glaze ingredients into small sauce pan and warm gently to combine into a very thick syrup. 

Baste the entire ham with the glaze using a basting brush or baster. The glaze should be thick so it sticks to the ham versus running off. But it if is too thick to even work with, you can thin by working in a little warm water. 

Cook the glazed ham for about 12 minutes per pound, glazing every 20 - 30 minutes. If toward the end of the cook time it isn't getting crispy on the outside you can increase the temperature a bit to create a nice crispy exterior. 

Let stand until it is cool enough to touch. Then slice on a cutting board and serve. Unless you are portioning out individual plates, I recommend slicing only a portion of the ham to start and then slicing a bunch more as needed. Take a look at the photos to see what I mean. It helps the meat not dry out too much before it is eaten and it looks great. You can leave it on the cutting board if you have a nice one, or transfer to a plate. 

Photo Credit: Kasia Bloom of  PROJEKT BLOOM

Photo Credit: Kasia Bloom of PROJEKT BLOOM

It is great with mashed or roasted potatoes and Roasted Carrots with Parsley Mint Yogurt Sauce. For a brunch buffet, like the Easter one we had over the weekend, I like to put out a couple types of mustard and some fresh mini rolls so our guests can make little ham sandwiches if they wish. It's a nice option to add a starch yet nothing that needs much effort or to be kept warm, like mashed or  roasted potatoes.  


A fantastic go-to side dish. It is also great on tacos, especially fish tacos. The recipe makes a ton so it is especially great for a big group. As an extra bonus, the dressing itself makes a great sauce to add freshness and tang to many things, it even works as a salsa for tortilla chips.


Slightly adapted from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook



  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 3 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 cup buttermilk plus 1/2 cup mayonnaise


  • 1/2 small head green cabbage
  • 1/2 small head purple cabbage
  • 1 small jicama
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1/2 cups minced chives


Combine the ingredients up to coriander in a bowl or food processor.  Whisk or blend while slowly drizzling in the oil.  If using buttermilk and mayonnaise, simply whisk together all of the ingredients to blend well.  Adjust seasonings and set aside.

Core the cabbages and finely shred them.  If using jicama, peel it, cut it in half and slice into thin, even rounds.  Julienne slides into long, thin matchsticks,   Peel carrots and slice thin, diagonal coins.  Julienne each coin into long matchsticks.  Seed peppers and slice into fine strips.  Slice thin slivers of onion.  Roughly chop the stemmed cilantro.

Toss all of the vegetables in a large bowl and mix in the dressing.  Let the slaw sit at least 30 minutes, then toss again before serving. 


Easter 2018 - Buffet Brunch for a large crowd

Easter 2018 - Buffet Brunch for a large crowd

Carrots cut smaller and roasted off earlier in the morning, waiting until it is time to assemble the dish just before brunch time

Carrots cut smaller and roasted off earlier in the morning, waiting until it is time to assemble the dish just before brunch time

Here's an easy way to elevate your carrot dish. Simply roasted carrots dressed up with some fresh parsley, mint, lemon yogurt sauce and feta - an excellent side dish or vegetarian dish (I would add some toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds if a vegetarian main). An extra bonus is that the carrots can be room temperature which eases the "having everything ready (and hot) at the same time" part of cooking a meal - It would be excellent as a BBQ side to add some light freshness in contrast to grilled meats. Another reason I love this recipe is that it is so easy to scale up for a larger group - just get whatever amount of carrots you think would be good for your group and scale the rest up accordingly. If you need to, split the carrots across 2 baking sheets so they are not too crowded. The sauce is even delicious on raw carrots! 

April 4 2018 - We just served this dish over the weekend at the the Easter egg hunt and brunch we hosted for our neighbors up at our place in the Catskills and were so please with how it turned out! This time I cut the large carrots into smaller long pieces (see photo) so that there were a better serving size for the larger group and I liked it even more than keeping the carrots their full length. It will be my go to method from now on. I would now recommend this dish even more whole heartedly (if that was possible) for a delightful side dish to any meal. You can make the sauce hours ahead of time, you can prep the carrots the day before, it can be served with the carrots at room temperature so they can be roasted off earlier in the day and left on the counter until you are ready to assemble. So it is a really tasty dish that is a breeze to pull together and you don't have to worry about keeping it warm. Oh, and it presents beautifully. What more can you want from a recipe? 

Prepped Carrots, leaving whole

Prepped Carrots, leaving whole

Easter 2016 - sit down meal for 6 people

Easter 2016 - sit down meal for 6 people

Roasted Carrots with Parsley Mint Yogurt Sauce

Martha Stewart Living recipe published in the April 2016 issue with my added notes and photos.


1 1/2 pounds thin carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise if thick
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, plus optional whole leaves for serving
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint, plus optional whole small leaves/chopped larger leaves for serving
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt

Shopping notes:  You should buy carrots with their tops still on, they will be sweeter. Look for pretty bunches for a pretty end result! Also, most of the nutrition in carrots is closest to the outer edges. If you by baby carrots, you loose a lot of that.



Preheat oven to 450°F. 

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss carrots with olive oil to coat and season with salt. Roast carrots, until tender and beginning to brown slightly, about 20 - 25 minutes. Flip carrots once in the middle of roasting. Let cool.


Process 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/3 cup chopped  parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped mint, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a fine paste in a food processor. Add yogurt and puree. The sauce will be luscious in texture and the color will exclaim spring and summer. 


Spread some of the yogurt sauce on the a platter, place carrots on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with feta if desired, but the dish is really great even without it. If you wish, drizzle with a little more olive oil (I don't think this is necessary). If you saved any small fresh parsley and/or mint leaves, sprinkle them on top. Put some of the yogurt sauce in a small condiment bowl with a little spoon so your guests can add more sauce to their carrots right on their plate. Serve!  


There is something so satisfying about a freshly roasted chicken. My husband improved upon it for me by sharing that his grandmother used to make roast chicken for him as a child and she would serve it with rice and gravy. I made gravy one day with our roast and have never skipped making gravy again. The addition of gravy and rice make this the ultimate comfort food. 

Now you too can make this easily at home for your family and friends. Thanks to my father-in-law who's recipe this is based on. 

Simple Roast Chicken


3 - 4 lb chicken (preferably pasture raised)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
soy sauce (leave this out if you are avoiding soy, I do now)
garlic salt


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Let chicken sit out to come to room temp, pat dry, about 1 - 1.5 hours. Also, leave the butter out to come to room temperature. 

Douse with soy sauce, let it sit for 2 minutes and then sprinkle garlic salt over the entire chicken. Let sit for another 15 minutes or so to dry a bit. Then rub butter onto chicken, take your time with this, the butter will not want to adhere to the chicken at first. Continue to try to work it in and it will start to stick. 

Put in a baking dish and bake for 1 - 1.5 hours. Take the chicken out and test for doneness. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh and any juices run clear (the legs of the chicken should wiggle easily from the sockets too.)

Cover loosely with foil and let sit for 15 minutes before cutting.

Chicken in the oven

Chicken in the oven

What it will look like when done

What it will look like when done

What to serve with this dish?

Best served with white rice and gravy. Other nice choices would be roasted potatoes or Yorkshire pudding also with gravy. Of course, you should also have a side of any vegetable to you like. 

Gravy recipe to come soon! 


Our daughter is allergic to eggs so use an easy egg-free pancake recipe in our home. The recipe (find it here) is straightforward and results in delicious pancakes. However, it is no nutrition powerhouse, so I have been experimenting to add more nutrition into the recipe. First up was replacing a portion of all purpose flour with almond flour/meal. The results were even more delicious than the original recipe! Enjoy! 



2/3 cup All Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Almond Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 cup Milk
1.5 Tablespoons Vegetable/Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup mini-chocolate chips (Optional. A must as far as my daughter is concerned. Quantity is really up to you!)



Sift flour and baking soda and powder and salt in a bowl. Some of the almond flour/meal will likely be left in the sifter, just dump what remains into the bowl. Add sugar and whisk just to blend. If you do not have a sifter, just whisk these together.

Add vanilla, oil and milk. Whisk together. An optional addition: stir as many mini-chocolate chips you you'd like.

Heat a pan on medium-low heat. Add a little butter to the pan and spread it around. This will prevent sticking and add flavor.  This recipe works best with smaller pancakes (3"-3.5" in diameter). A ~1.5 tablespoon ice-cream scoop portions the perfect amount (see note below on scoops). Scoop batter onto the pan. Cook on one side until it starts to bubble slightly on the edges. Check the bottom, if dark enough then flip and finish cooking on remaining side until desired color is reached. Slightly darker pancakes tend to taste a little better. Add a little more butter between batches. Keep a close eye on your heat if subsequent pancakes are darkening too quickly (i.e. before any bubbling begins), lower the heat. 

Serve fresh! We love them with a little maple syrup and blueberries or strawberries. My daughter eats them plain, with fruit on the side. 

Feel free to play with these. Some chopped strawberry would also be delicious stirred into the batter. 

A note on ice cream scoops

It is worth investing in a couple high quality stainless steel ice-cream scoops with a scraper in the bowl to help the filling come out with ease. They have so many uses in the kitchen! They are so handy for scooping out perfect amounts of cookie dough, cupcake batter,  pancake portions and even meatballs. You should get a few different sizes to cover all these uses. 

We recommend Piazza scoops. They are really top-notch. They look and function as they did when we first got them years ago. They feel great in your hand and work really well. A bit pricey but worth the investment since you'll use them over and over again for years to come. 

We used the #40 scoop for these pancakes. For reference the scoop is 1 1/2" in width and it holds about 1.5 tablespoons of liquid. You can purchase if from Amazon: Piazza 1/40 Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop. But one slightly larger or smaller will work as well.




Inspired by the to die for curries at G’raj Mahal we enjoyed on a trip to Austin, TX and the amazing pasture chicken we used to get from Surfside Chickens when we lived in California, we decided to try our hand at making an Indian dish a few years ago and it is now a staple. We landed on Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Korma from his Food Revolution cookbook. The recipe is straightforward and easy to shop for. It does use a curry paste, but still has plenty of freshness. 

There is a wonderful depth of flavor (surprising considering it doesn’t even cook for that long!), great texture and flavor contrast from the mix of soft onions, tender chicken meat and buttery chickpeas. And while we love Indian food, it can often seem a bit oily and heavy. This dish is not. It is comforting yet not heavy or greasy. We serve it over a pile of brown basmati rice. Yum.

If you are not familiar with Indian curries, this is a wonderful one to start with. It is mild (I’m a wimp when it comes to hot spices) with only a hint of heat yet has great flavor.

I have never had chickpeas in Korma before but I like it. They took on a wonderful flavor and buttery smooth texture and it is a wonderful way to help stretch out the chicken since they add to the heartiness of the dish.

We actually halved the recipe since it was just the 2 of us and it worked out perfectly with the portion of chicken breast we were able to get from that week’s Surfside Chicken. I divided up the rest of the chicken too, so we had vacuum sealed packs of 2 chicken thighs, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks and the body in the freezer waiting to be turned into another meal.

This is a great dish to make for company since you can make it before your guests arrive, leave it on the stove and simply warm back up before serving. In fact, the first time we made it, my husband finished cooking it by 5pm, we left it on to simmer for a little longer and then turned off the flame, and left it covered on the stove. We warmed it back up at 7pm when we were ready for dinner. I bet the curry flavors developed even further with the extra time. Our brown basmati rice was also just waiting for us to be ready sitting piping hot in our rice cooker.


From Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook with notes from our experience.

Serves 4-6


1 3/4 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, preferably free-range or organic

2 medium onions

optional: 1 fresh green chile (we left it out since I’m a wimp)

a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger

a small bunch of cilantro (an easy herb to grow in your yard!)

1 15oz can of garbanzo bean (chickpeas)

peanut or vegetable oil (We used olive oil. Using Ghee would probably be delicious as well)

1/2 cup korma or mild curry paste, such as Patak’s

1 14oz can of coconut milk

a small handful of sliced almonds, plus extra for serving

2 heaping tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut

2 cups natural yogurt

1 lemon


To prepare your curry

Cut the chicken into approximately 1-inch pieces or thin slices. I find slices will result in more tender and flavorful chicken.

Peel and finely slice the onions.

Halve, seed and finely chop the chile if using it.

Peel and finely chop the ginger. If you don’t like eating ginger, be sure to chop it finely so that it melts away in the dish or cut slightly large pieces/slices so you get the flavor but you can easily opt to not eat the ginger pieces themselves.

Pick the cilantro leaves and finely chop the stalks. (love that both stalks and leaves are used!)

Drain the garbanzo beans.

To make your curry

Put a large casserole-type pan on high heat and add a couple lugs of oil. Once hot, add the onions, chile, ginger, and cilantro stalks with the butter. Keep stirring it enough so it doesn’t catch and burn but turns evenly golden. Cook for around 10 minutes. Add the curry paste, coconut milk, half the sliced almonds, the drained garbanzo beans, unsweetened shredded coconut and chicken breasts. Half fill the empty coconut milk can with water, pour it into the pan and stir again. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on.

Check the curry regularly to make sure it’s not drying out, and add extra water if necessary. When the chicken is tender and cooked, taste and season with salt and pepper – please season carefully. I did add a fair amount of salt, you’ll want to taste, add some salt if needed, stir and let cook for a few minutes, then taste again to see if it still needs more or not. Better to add little by little than overdoing it.

To serve your curry

Jamie includes various recipes for making rice as options to serve with this dish. Good old plain basmati rice works well. In fact, we used brown basmati rice and thought it was perfect.

Jamie also suggests: Add a few spoonfuls of natural yogurt dolloped on top and sprinkling over the rest of the sliced almonds. Finish by scattering over the cilantro leaves and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over. 

We served individual plates, since it was just 2 of us. I put a heafty scoop of rice on my plate (really a pasta bowl), hollowed out the middle and filled it with a few serving spoons full of korma. Very pretty. We skipped the yogurt, even though we had gotten a small container of Greek yogurt for the dish. We found the dish rich enough that we didn’t feel it needed the yoghurt. We did sprinkle on the cilantro leaves (we chopped them a little first) which made the dish look extra pretty and added nice fresh flavor. We completely forgot about the lemon wedges since we were hungry and excited to eat! It was still amazing, so if you don’t happen to have lemons, don’t sweat it.