Monday, July 30, 2012

Simply Red Clam Chowder

Lydia with some of our nation's servicemen at a vendor event

Eric's Red Clam Chowder

  • 2 pounds fresh clams, littleneck or steamers work best
  • 1 large bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 large head of garlic, peeled and diced into cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomato puree
  1. In a large stockpot containing 6 to 8 cups boiling water, place the clams in a colander for easy removal.  Cover the pot tightly and decrease the heat to medium to prevent boilovers.  Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until all clams pop open in their shells.  ***If a clam does not open after cooking, it is not safe to eat and should be discarded immediately.***
  2. Remove the colander using pot holders and set in a sink to rest and cool.  Add the garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and tomato puree to the stock in the pot.  Cover and simmer the mixture, stirring frequently until it returns to a rolling boil.
  3. Meanwhile, shuck the clams and rinse them under cool water to remove any grit.  Add the clams back to the broth and cook another 15 minutes on medium heat in covered pot.
Serve hot with garlic bread, salad and a cold glass of beer for a fulfilling meal with up to 10 friends and family members.

The Military and Civilian Worlds Meet at the CrossRoads of Culinary Delights~~Lydia Dittrich
 There is something powerful about memories associated with a meal.  A single taste of the same dish years later will transport the diner to that moment in time when they first experienced it.  For me, one of these dishes is red clam chowder.

The summer of my 19th year on this spin around I met an incredible man.  We had an amazing connection in our all too brief affair, and while I will honor the memories of the man and our time together by not getting too descriptive, this is one story I am pleased and proud to share with you all.

Eric was an enlisted man from Oregon who was stationed at our local Army post, Fort Drum.  We met through mutual friends, and clicked immediately on all kinds of levels.  I had never dated a soldier before, but Eric was special.  His zeal for life lived to the fullest and a funny story was infectious, and we spent many evenings discovering the best restaurants in Watertown and the north country.

Eric and I had made plans to go out for dinner at the local vintage joint, The Crystal, on Public Square in Watertown.  We got there, and as we waited for a table at the 1920’s walk up bar, he sipped a cold MGD and we began looking over the menu.    Because he was from the West Coast, the clam chowder caught his eye.  Most people know clam chowder as the thick and creamy soup laden with potatoes, carrots and onions you can stand your spoon in on a cold winter afternoon.  This rendition is often called New England clam chowder or White chowder.  The Crystal served a Manhattan, or Red, chowder.  The clam stock was added to tomatoes, parsley and lots of garlic for a light twist on the classic soup as meal.

He had never heard of this before, and after I explained how the recipe went, he ordered it “just to say that he had tried it”.  Five bowls of the soup later, he was addicted.  Our summer love affair dwindled as such things do, but we kept in touch off and on over the years.  He had found a recipe online and made the soup all over the world.  It traveled with him to Lousiana where he shared it with the Cajun platoonmate for his mammy’s Jambalaya recipe.  It made its way through Georgia and airborne training.  It got introduced to his platoon of recruits awaiting shipment into the Gulf theater from Germany.  When he returned from the war and moved back to Oregon, it warmed him on many a cool misty Portland evening.

Last year, my first love and very dear friend passed away, leaving behind a grieving widow and family.  So this recipe needs to keep traveling, in memory of a wonderful person who changed the lives of so many.  And I will always treasure the memory of that simple dinner in the Crystal, watching a hungry man savor this timeless and simple dish.  A la prochaine, mon amie!  This one is for you Red!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Simply Cotton Candy Cupcakes

My good friend and fellow juggling mother Nichole shared this deliciously simple and fun dessert with me and it sounded too good not to pass on to you!  Enjoy!

Simply Cotton Candy Cupcakes

You Will Need:

1 box of white cake mix plus the eggs and oil it calls for
Red and blue food coloring
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter
2 Tbs. cold milk
1 pound confectioner's sugar


  1. Prepare the cake mix as directed and tint it lilac with the red and blue food coloring.
  2. Pour the batter into cupcake molds and bake as directed.
  3. While cakes are baking, combine 1 stick of butter and 1 pound confectioner's sugar.
  4. Beat briskly for 3 to 5 minutes, adding the cold milk gradually until frosting consistency is reached.
  5. Tint the frosting light blue with the remaining dye.
  6. In small saucepan on LOW heat, cook the sugar with NO liquid until you notice a warmed caramel smell.  Crystals should still be intact but appear darker.
  7. After the cupcakes are cooled and frosted, liberally sprinkle the carmelized sugar over the tops.
Serves 12 people

Simply Brunch

With the bounty of the season’s gardeners available at farmer’s markets across the nation, it seems a shame to let this opportunity go by!  Here is a simple and delicious brunch on the fly for those nights when a good friend and big bottle of wine made a stay-over necessary.  These 2 crowd-pleasers go well with orange juice, coffee or tea, or aspirin.
The Ingredients:
  • 1 quart fresh blueberries
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 pound mushrooms
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • baking powder
  • flour
  • sugar
  • canola oil
  • vanilla extract (or flavored vodka will do in a pinch—avoid cotton candy!)
  • cold water
  • 1 jar salsa, heat index to taste
  • 1 pound grated cheddar cheese

Blueberry Muffins in 10 Minutes*:

  1. In large mixing bowl, combine 3 eggs with 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 cup canola oil.  Whisk until yolks are evenly mixed.
  2. In Deep Covered Baker, pour out the rinsed blueberries.  Set aside.
  3. Add in flour, sugar and baking powder to batter. Blend until evenly mixed, then gradually add in 4 Tablespoons cold water.  Batter should be thick but pourable.
  4. Pour the batter over top the berries, and place the lid on your baker.
  5. Microwave on HIGH for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on size of your machine. * If you don’t have a microwave, these bake in a conventional oven at 400 degrees with lid on for 30 minutes.
  6. Serve warm from the baker.  Delicious!
To order your Deep Covered Baker, visit

 If you have been following my personal blog, So Honey What's For Dinner, then you know why I started selling Pampered Chef cookware.  1) I wanted to be home with my kids. 2) I love to cook. 3) Getting to write off my grocery bill as a tax deduction is pretty awesome!

I had tried other cooking and kitchenware products, and after many years of searching, I kept coming back to a few favorites.  I had been in our new house for about 3 months when I was putting things away and noticed that all of my absolute cannot cook without them items were made by The Pampered Chef!  So it seemed that fate intervened when one of the first people to welcome us to our house was a PC consultant.  It really didn't take much talking for Christine to convince me I could do this too, and so now I not only get to make delicious recipes and share them with you everyday, I am making money doing it!  Jason and I go way back, so he will tell you when I am passionate about something, I really go for it.  If you are interested in learning more about becoming a consultant on my team, drop me a line at


Vegetable Egg Strata in 15 mins   

  1. Slice the zucchini and mushrooms into pieces. 
  2. Heat 1 Tablespoon canola oil in large skillet, and once the oil is warmed, add the vegetables. ( About 3 mins)
  3. In large mixing bowl, whisk 9 eggs vigorously.
  4. Pour the egg batter over the veggies and cover with lid.  Cook on medium heat until the egg has puffed and solidified with no wetness on the surface. ( 10 minutes )
  5. Add the grated cheese and cover the pan for another 3 to 5 minutes with heat off.
  6. Serve hot topped with salsa.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Simply Limoncello


What is better on a hot summer day than a nice, refreshing limoncello? This recipe can be made with either lemons or oranges (orangecello.) The Italian tradition is to use lemons since they are so abundant. You can even make this low carb by substituting Splenda for sugar*.

Here is what you will need :

15 - Lemons
2 - 1500ml bottles of vodka
4 - Cups granulated sugar
5 - Cups water
1 - Large jar

  • Pour one of the bottles of vodka into the jar, set aside the other bottle for later.
  • Grate the zest of 15 lemons into the jar. *Note - Use ONLY the zest (yellow part) NOT the pith (white part)
  • Cover the jar tightly and let sit at room temperature for 30-40 days (the longer it sits the more delightful the lemon flavor.) There is no need to shake or stir the jar.
  • After 30-40 days combine the sugar and water in a pan and boil for about 7 minutes until it becomes a thick sauce (simple syrup).
  • Allow to cool.
  • Add the simple syrup to the jar.
  • Add the second bottle of vodka.
  • Let the jar sit for another 30-40 days and then strain the zest out, bottle the limoncello, and freeze.
* To substitute Splenda simple syrup, pour five cups boiling water into five cups of Spenda; dissolve; allow to cool; pour through a coffee filter to remove any sediment; add to the jar at the appropriate time.

Simply Together in the Kitchen

The Heart of the House : The Kitchen

There is no better place to gather than the kitchen, This week while we traveled to Atlanta; Darrick and I found ourselves in our friends Kathy and Ed's Kitchen, anyone who comes through the front door doesn't get much farther. The kitchen is a place to gather, eat, talk and laugh. So we all got together Ed, Kathy, Darrick, Christine and myself, our goal was to make ice cream. Getting together in the kitchen brought back fond memories in all of our lives from our moms cooking to getting together with loved ones. Traditions and memories are food for the soul, as time goes on, we move away,  children get older, loved ones pass on. Let me challenge our readers to resurrect old traditions or start new ones.

Share your traditions and memories with us !

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Simply Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream

Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream - From the Kitchen of the Georgia Peach

From my Southern belle Christine, there is no better way to cool down on a muggy Atlanta summer evening than with ice cream and bourbon.

Here is what you will need:

1 1/2 Cups (4 oz) pecan pieces
3 Oz bourbon (Woodford Reserve, please)
3 Cups half & half
1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
Soak the pecans in the bourbon and set aside.

Blend the remaining ingredients together until the sugars have dissolved. 

Pour the liquid into your ice cream freezer and prepare according to the manufacturer's instructions.  About five minutes before the process completes, using a slotted spoon, add the soaked pecans (not the residual bourbon.)

Bear in mind, the addition of liquor changes the freezing point of the ice cream. Depending on the robustness of your machine, the finished product may be the consistecy of soft-serve ice cream.

If any is left over, pack into an airtight container and freeze for up to three days.

Simply Freezing Strawberries

Simply the Best way to Freeze Strawberries

We all love fresh fruit and berries when they are in season, but if you have a craving, what are you to do? Well my friend Kathleen came up with a great idea to capture the essence while they are at their sweetest.  First, clean the berries,cut the strawberries up, and add sugar and a little orange juice, The orange juice helps keep the color.

They are ready to use in anything from Strawberry Shortcake, Daiquiri's, Smoothies and Home made ice cream.

Try an interesting variation by adding a splash of bourbon or brandy for "drunken strawberries".



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Simply Stew for Your Crew!

Lydia, Rembrandt and Domenique at the cottage
Venison Stew for a Crew:
  1. Place 2 pounds frozen venison stew meat in large stock pot and cover with 8 cups water.
  2. Add in 4 cups white potatoes and 2 cups sweet potatoes.
  3. Spice the stew with 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tsp salt, 3 tablespoons fresh ground pepper and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar.
  4. Simmer the covered pot for 4-5 hours on low heat until the meat is tender, pinkened but done to 165 degrees with thermometer.
  5. Serve over a bed of brown rice with steak sauce as condiment, though it really doesn’t need it.
If you live in an area that doesn't run to venison, try using beef or buffalo meat to substitute.  

Simply Fireman's Chicken BBQ

Barbequed Fireman’s Chicken:
Lydia's youngest, Domenique Eve (3 yrs)

  • 1 whole chicken
  • Cold Water
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Smoky Applewood Rub or other smoked spice
  1. Using poultry shears, halve your chicken and rinse under cool water.
  2. In large stock pot, place both halves and cover with cold water.  Bring to rolling boil and then simmer at medium heat for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Drain stock, reserving the broth for later in freezer safe bag once cooled to room temp.
  4. In second freezer bag, place chicken halves and pour in 1 cup red wine vinegar.
  5. Season with 3 Tablespoons Pampered Chef Smoky Applewood Rub.
  6. Seal the bag and shake to coat.
  7. Refrigerate the meat for 1 1/2 hours prior to grilling.
  8. BBQ the meat on medium direct heat for 20 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Simply Dips (for fruit or veggies)

Greek Yogurt Crowd Pleasers for Fruit and Veg:
Lydia with her mother in law and husband
  1. In a mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup cream cheese with 1/2 cup Greek plain yogurt.
    1. For veggie dip, add 1 Tablespoon Pampered Chef Greek Rub.
    2. For fruit dip, add 2 Tablespoons brown sugar.
  2. Blend well into a creamy dip with no lumps.
  3. Serve chilled with fresh cut veggies or fruit pieces.

Simply Peach Trifle

Simply Drunken Peach Trifle:
 Ingredients you will need, as well as a LARGE bowl for serving
  • 14 ripe peaches
  • 2 store bought pound cakes
  • 1 quart whipping cream
  • Agave nectar
  • Mount Gay Barbados Rum (darker is best, but light will do as well)
  1. Prepare a quart of whipping cream in stand mixer with 1/4 cup of dark agave nectar for sweetener. Set aside.
  2. Dice up 2 pound cakes from the bakery section into cubes.  Set aside.
  3. Halve and pit 14 large ripe peaches.  Leave skin on.
  4. In large skillet, add 1 cup Mount Gay barbados rum.  Heat to simmer.
  5. Place peach halves skin up in the rum.  Cover and simmer for 10 mins.  Remove peach halves and repeat until all are cooked.
  6. Dice the cooked peaches.  Set aside, reserving the cooking liquid from the skillet.
  7. In a large bowl, layer cubes of pound cake.  Top with a generous layer of whipped cream, and then a layer of peaches.  Repeat the steps, finishing with a layer of peaches atop the cream.
  8. Pour the reserved cooled liquid down the side of the bowl so the cake will absorb it.
  9. Refrigerate for 1 hour prior to serving.  Serve chilled with tea or coffee.
 The last couple of weeks have been an insane blend of lots of family and company, mountains of food, and a great time by all!  This trifle goes together so quickly and is a definite crowd pleaser!  The simmering boils off all the alcohol so the dessert is approved for all ages, and everyone will definitely want seconds or thirds!  Here is hoping your summer has been as abundant!~~Lydia D. 

Follow Lydia's culinary pursuits at and her fashion exploits at!  You can also find her on Twitter @cvillemainevent & @freelanceevent1 and on Facebook at &     Happy cooking!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Simply Banana Bread

Simply Banana Bread

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar (I modify to use less and substitute some stevia or agave nectar)
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas
4 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour

In large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Add bananas, eggs and vanilla.  Combine baking soda and flour separately and add to banana mixture; stirring just enough to moisten the flour.  Pour batter into 2 greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pans (or can use 4-6 smaller pans).  Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes or until bread tests done (toothpick comes out relatively clean).  Don't over bake.  Run knife around edge and turn out immediately.  Cool on wire rack. 

Note:  You can add nuts, but I prefer without and then don't have to worry about allergies. 

I love baking.  It is warm and comforting.  I love the sweet smell that fills the whole house.  It makes me think of visiting my grandma's house, in Kansas, as a child.  Grandma made candies, homemade rolls and boiled custard.  I lean toward cakes, cookies and quick breads; always looking for the simple and easy, but yummy recipes. 

This banana bread is super easy and always a hit.  It's great for welcoming new neighbors or make in small loaves to give as gifts.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Simply Three Meat Lasagna

Three Meat Lasagna

Our take on Lasagna,  and it's so good that even Garfield the cat would go nuts for it, In fact, all I could think about while making this was watching Garfield as a small child, and wondering what was his fascination with lasagna.  I think I found out with this recipe!

What your will need

1 lb ground beef
1 lb boneless chicken
1 lb pork
56 oz diced tomato's
48 oz spaghetti sauce
2 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp parsley
2 Tbsp thyme
2 Tbsp basil
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 Tbsp minced garlic
15 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz 3 cheese blend
1 egg
8 oz Parmesan cheese
 Step 1 -   put the pork and chicken in a pan, put an equal mixture of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce,cover and cook for 2 hrs at 375 wait until the pork and chicken are cooked to continue to the next step.

Step 2 - brown the ground beef in a pan with an equal mixture of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, set aside on low until sauce is ready.

 Step 3 - Create the sauce by combining, the spaghetti sauce, diced tomato's, oregano, parsley, thyme,garlic, basil, and the onion.

Step 4 -  Combine the ricotta cheese and the egg.

Step 5 - Shred the Chicken and Pork and add to the sauce, stir until mixed thoroughly then add the ground beef to the mixture.

Step 6 - Place a layer of sauce then the first layer of lasagna noodles, after that place a layer of sauce, then ricotta, cover the ricotta with shredded cheese ( we used three cheese blend) sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and then cover with a layer of lasagna noodles. repeat the layering process.

Step 7 - Place the dish in the oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour and 15 min.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Simply Paying It Forward 
Our Family at the local water park
How we are doing unto others this summer in my house

This summer, the heat is on in more house than one!  Can you imagine how it feels for the non-profits in your neighborhood that don't have the luxury of a regular paycheck?

I wanted to instill in my children the tradition of helping out a neighbor in need, and I want to take a moment and thank my son Anthony for reminding me what is really important in life~~simply pay it forward, and it will come back to you.

If you know my family, you know that we always have a pack of dogs at our house.  Right now, we have Scotch, Lily and Rose plus 9 of Lily's puppies.  Yeah, we had that oops moment.  And caring for them has been a privilege and a challenge.  Humane societies do this every single day, all year round.  Relying heavily on volunteers and donations, there is never enough money or enough help to be given. Our small shelter, the Lewis County HS, is no exception.

Perhaps you also recall that we have 4 beautiful children.  With the closure of our little school, our village has been in a tailspin the last few months.  The only playground in the village limits is on the school campus, and its future is uncertain with the building being left unattended.  Children need to play, every day all year long, and do it safely.

Last week, my 12 year old son came to me and said "Mom, you should do some fundraisers for these folks."  And I thought about it, and smiled.  "You're right" I said.  So we reached out and the offered help was grabbed with both hands by both organizations.  Both times I heard "Thank you so much for thinking of us!" And any doubts I had about doing this were instantly erased.

It just goes to show that you never know what little SIMPLE gesture you make can help make a big impact.  So, go on.  Buy that single mother in the checkout ahead of you a chocolate bar~~you might just unfrazzle her day.

Lydia Dittrich, COO The Main Event 
Follow us on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter!  Then come back tomorrow for more simply amazing food and family stories :-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Simply Summer Salad

Pasta Salad with Style AND Substance

First of all, let me say this is NOT your mother’s pasta salad.  You will not find Italian dressing or mayonnaise or canned tuna anywhere near this! 

Why?  Because pasta salad should not sit in your belly like a lead balloon after you eat it.  It should be satisfying, cool and have a nicely rounded flavor profile.

The base of our salad is Greek plain yogurt, to which I add fresh veggies, salsa and the pasta and chicken.  The whole thing assembles inside of 10 minutes and is a perfect use for that leftover BBQ from the fourth!  Enjoy!

Too Wong Foo’s Pasta Salad (source: Lydia Dittrich)
  • 1 pound radiatore pasta
  • 2 pre-cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  1. Boil the water for your pasta in a large stock pot.
  2. While waiting for the water to come to temperature, dice the chicken and vegetables.  Add them to the salsa and yogurt; mix well.
  3. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions.
  4. Drain into a colander and immediately rinse the pasta with cold water.
  5. Fold the pasta into the veggies and chicken, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Serve in bowls garnished with freshly grated cheese or basil leaves.  Makes (12) 1 cup servings.

Simply Spinach Quiche

Spinach Quiche

What better way to start off the day with a filling and yummy quiche!

What you will need

4 pieces of bacon cooked
6 eggs, beaten
1/3 finely chopped onion
1 tsp pepper
1/2 red pepper
1/2 cup spinach (drained and cooked)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix evenly, pour in an buttered oven safe dish and cook at 325 for 15 - 20 minutes

Add some shredded cheese and sour cream on top server with toast and you have a simple and hearty breakfast!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Simply Brownies IN 8 MINUTES!

YES you read that right!  Happy Independence Day from your Hot Oven!

Today being the fourth of July, I figured that every working woman needed a last minute dessert for that company picnic in your future.  One of my favorite product lines in the Pampered Chef stable is their stoneware.  The unglazed baking surfaces quickly and evenly cook a variety of entrees and desserts, all without turning on your oven!  And what better sales pitch can you say than that in July’s heat?

The company’s recipe uses the Deep Covered Baker (a host favorite), but for my family, I used the Round Covered Baker ($49) and got the same delicious results! To order your stoneware, visit my website  today!  Every purchase comes with a FREE cookbook!
Quick Fudgy Brownies (source:

  • 1/2   cup (125 mL) pecan halves 
  • 3/4   cup (175 mL) butter (1½ sticks)
  •  4   oz (125 g) unsweetened chocolate for baking 
  • 3/4   cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour 
  •  1 1/2   tsp (7 mL) baking powder 
  • 1/4   tsp (1 mL) salt 
  • 1 1/2   cups (375 mL) sugar
  •  3  eggs 
  • 1   tsp (5 mL) Double-Strength Vanilla
  • 2  bars (2 oz/60 g each) chocolate-covered caramel-peanut candy (¾ cup/175 mL coarsely chopped)  
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional)
    Did You Know? Chocolate Melts at 98.6 degrees
  1. Place pecans into Deep Covered Baker. Microwave on HIGH 2-3 minutes or until fragrant, stirring every 30 seconds. Set pecans aside in (1-cup/250-mL) Prep Bowl. Cut butter and chocolate into pieces using Santoku Knife; place into Small Batter Bowl.
  2.   Microwave on HIGH 1-2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into Stainless (2-qt./2-L) Mixing Bowl using (7-in./18-cm) Strainer.
  3. Combine sugar, eggs and vanilla in Classic Batter Bowl. Whisk using Stainless Whisk.
  4. Slowly add chocolate mixture to egg mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Fold in flour mixture until incorporated using Small Mix ‘N Scraper®.
  5. Pour batter into baker.
Once it's cooked, serve in the dish for a great presentation

Microwave on HIGH 5-7 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and edges are firm. Meanwhile, coarsely chop pecans using Food Chopper. Cut candy bars into 1/4-in. (6-mm) pieces. Top brownies with pecans and candy pieces. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream, if desired.
Yield: 9 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 500, Total Fat 31 g, Saturated Fat 16 g, Cholesterol 115 mg, Carbohydrate 54 g, Protein 7 g, Sodium 310 mg, Fiber 3 g
Cook’s Tips: Any candy bar can be substituted for the chocolate-covered caramel-peanut candy bars, if desired.

For best results, use a microwave oven with a built-in turntable.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Simply Curry Chicken

Curry Chicken

photo from Food

Curry is widely known on chicken, but islanders curry everything!  From yams and potatoes to goat meat or oxtail, the only thing that doesn’t curry well is dairy products.  For our recipe we will be using Chicken Thighs and sweet potato.

For starters, let’s make a simple curry powder.  Forget the prefabbed bottle you have had rusting on your spice rack since you bought it on a whim.  Go to the store and buy the following five spices in bulk (you will be thanking me later!):
  • Turmeric (ground)
  • Cardamom (ground)
  • Coriander (whole)
  • Allspice (ground)
  • Cumin (ground)
These are your core curry spices for a true Caribbean sabor.  The proportions are EASY!  Add 1 Tablespoon of each spice to about 1/2 cup of heated canola oil in a deep pot.  Let the spices cook down until they turn a lovely bright GREEN color, not the yellow you are used to from the old stuff.

To jazz up your curry, add in some scotch bonnets for heat, or for a milder more kid friendly version, add in a pinch of crushed red pepper. Now you’ve got your spice ready, let’s play with the main course!

Rembrandt’s Curry Chicken from Paradise Point
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs with bone in
  • Curry as prepared above
  • 2 and 3/4 cups water
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  1. Start the curry as directed above.
  2. When the oil is sizzling, add in your chicken and potatoes.  Make sure that the thighs are placed bone-up for maximum browning of the meat.
  3. Cover the chicken and potatoes with water and place lid tightly on the pot.
  4. Simmer over medium heat for about 1 hour, until the chicken is moist and cooked completely and the potatoes are softened.
  5. Serve over a bed of white rice and save the stock for dipping bowls to get all that great Caribbean flavor.
Makes 8 servings

**Cook’s Tip:  Don’t throw out your stock!  Leave the leftover sweet potatoes in the pot, and toss in some carrots, celery, and any leftover rice for a savory soup!  Freezes well up to 6 months or is excellent canned.

My husband Rembrandt grew up in the West Indies.  Born in St. Thomas to parents of German and Californian descent, he learned to appreciate not only the traditional foods of his family, but the great local cuisine of the Caribbean.  Scotch bonnet pepper pots, homemade ginger beer, and red beans with rice and fungee were all staples of his early diet.

Fortunately for him, he married me, and I love to cook.  So learning some of his comfort foods was a pleasure for me, and curry is West Indian for love on a plate.  Spice is embedded into the culture of the islands, whether you like it mild or so fiery it blows your mind.  You can’t escape it, and why would you want to when there are so many great flavors to wake up the sleeping palate?

Simply Dill Pickles

Simply Dill Pickles !

Who doesn't love pickles?  Recently, Darrick and I were given some freshly grown cucumbers from a co-worker. Not wanting them to go bad, we decided to make pickles, I can remember my grandmother canning pickles and I enjoyed eating anything she made. I think I could taste the love.

What you will need:
This recipe makes 4 quart jars

4 large cucumbers
2 cups water
1 cups white vinegar
2 tbsp. canning salt
1/4 tsp. of dill seed per quart jar
1/4 tsp. of minced garlic per quart jar

Step 1 - Get your jars and lids boiling to sterilize

Step 2  - Prepare your brine by combining the canning salts, water and vinegar.

Step 3 - Cut up your cucumbers, cut them in spears and slices.

Step 4 - Add the dill and garlic seasonings to the bottom of each jar, add cucumbers and fill with brine to about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the lid

Step 5 - Place the jars back in the water bath for 10 min, then remove the jars to cool and ensure the seal is made by depressing the lid.

Simply Cananda Day!

Happy Belated Canada Day, From Tennessee

Well last night Darrick and I had friends over to celebrate Canada day. Darrick's friend Sheree brought her Canadian husband Mike and his mom Carmel. Carmel just got back from Montreal and she brought us back some great foods to make our Canada Day celebration truly special, real cheese curd and St Hubert poutine mix.  We started the night out with some Oui ce Bon! wine from NY, with some appetizer including a nice sharp Canadian cheddar cheese. We were listening to a radio station out of Quebec City. Dinner was a simple Poutine with ground beef, easy to make just cover french fries with cheese curd and ground beef and then smother with hot gravy, yum!. then for desert we had Nanaimo bars with tea. It was great sharing stories of going to Upper Canada Village as a kid, seeing the Rideau Canal. Family traditions warm the heart and soul, just having dinner with some friends brought up so many wonderful memories. In fact since Carmel's family is originally from Croatia we are now going to have a Croatia day with food and music. I encourage you to get back to your family roots

Monday, July 2, 2012

Simply Nanamoi Bars

Nanamoi Bars - Happy Canada Day !

Well if you haven't figured it out yet you now know that my family's roots go deep in Canada, infact one of my great uncles was the mayer of Napanee Ontario. July 1st as Canadians know it is Canada Day, its very similar to the 4th of July in the USA. But hey you dont need to be Canadian to enjoy this desert eh !

What you will need

Bottom Layer:                                Second Layer :                             Topping :
1/2 cup butter                                   1/2 cup Butter                                 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup sugar                                    2 Cup confectioners suger               2 tbsp butter
5 tbsp cocoa                                    2 tbps vanilla pudding powder
1 egg                                                1 tbps of milk
2 cups graham crackers
1 cup coconut flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts                                                                                                                

  Step 1 - Mix butter, sugar and cocoa. Melt in double boiler. Add beaten egg and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat. Add graham cracker crumbs, coconut, vanilla, and walnuts. Press firmly into an 8 by 8-inch pan. Place in refrigerator while mixing the next layer.

Step 2- Second layer: add the melted butter, confectioners' sugar, and pudding powder. Add small amount of milk. Beat until light and creamy. Spread on top of bottom layer. Place this in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

Step 3 - Topping: Melt chocolate and butter together in a bowl set over hot water. Mix well and spread on top. Chill in refrigerator.

Simply Red Velvet Cake

Lydia's Red Velvet Cake

True Red Velvet cake should be a work of art, chocolate art.  So many of the recipes nowadays call for minimal chocolate and lots of red dye.  Not to mention the pain this causes your kidneys, it doesn’t taste like much.  So here is a simple and delicious recipe that uses naturally sourced ingredients (no Red #40 here—try using beet juice instead).  Enjoy!

Waldorf Astorian Red Velvet Cake & Frosting
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ounces of beet juice*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 6 Tablespoons dark (70% or better) cocoa powder

To Make the Cake:
  1. Mix the baking soda and vinegar in a small cup.  Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar, gradually adding the eggs until blended.
  3. Make a paste of the cocoa powder and 1 oz. beet juice.  Add to the butter mixture, and then add the other 1 oz of juice.
  4. Alternating ingredients, blend in the buttermilk, salt and flour.
  5. Add the vanilla extract.  Stir the baking soda/vinegar mix well and add to the creamed mixture.  Be careful not to overbeat.
  6. Pour the batter into 2 greased and paper lined 9 inch layer pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 -40 mins.
  7. Cool thoroughly and then split the layers in half crosswise to create 4 thin layers.  Assemble and Frost the cooled cake. Best served at room temperature or stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day.
To Make the Frosting:
  • 5 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup white granulted sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Measure milk into a tightly sealed jar, and add flour.  Shake well.
  2. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat to create a thick paste, stirring constantly.
  3. Set aside to cool until cold.  Process can be sped up by placing in fridge.
  4. Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla; add the flour paste.
  5. Beat until the consistency resembles whipped cream; use to assemble the cake by alternating layers of cake and frosting, then coating the top and sides.
Red Velvet cake got its start in the kitchens of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in NYC around 1940, or so the story goes.  Rumor has it that a curious socialite requested the recipe, and when she was initially denied access without paying $100 for the privilege, she threw the mother of all tantrums to get it.  Once it was in her devious little hands, she shared it with the world, and the Southern staple of weddings for years to come was taken across the Mason Dixon again.

*Beet juice can be bought at many natural health food stores or you can make your own.  Buy one large beet ( weighing 8 to 10 oz.) from the produce section of your supermarket and remove the greens.  Wash the beet well, and poke a few holes into the root to speed the cooking process.  Immerse the beet in water at a rolling boil for 15 mins or until the water turns a nice purplish pink color.  Remove the beet and use the juice left behind.

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