Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Homemade French Onion Soup

Fall is here! It's my most favorite season and it's getting chilly - it's Soup weather!!!!

I've made some delicious French Onion Soup and I'd like to share it with you. 

First, you will need some ovenproof crocks. 

Slice about 1 1/2 - 2 lbs of yellow onions. 


In an extra large pan, on medium high heat, pour in about 1/8 Cup of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil. When the oil is rippling, add the sliced onions and stir. 

While those are cooking, pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Next, diagonally slice a French Baguette - about 1 inch slices and place on a cooking sheet. (I prefer stoneware - food cooks faster and more evenly) bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until toasted.

While the onions are cooking and the bread is toasting, prepare your broth. In a large pan, add 2 boxes of organic-free range broth of your choice (chicken or beef). I added 2 chicken broths and used 4 beef bouillon cubes to add salt and beef flavor. 

(I ended up needing to transfer my broth to a larger pot)
Once the broth comes to a boil, add about a cup of red wine and a cup of white wine. 

Stir the onions only a few times. You want them to get nice and brown - after they start to appear clear, add about 1 Tbs of sea salt and 1 tsp of sugar - helps to brown the onions. Patience is key on this step.

When the onions are just about finished (about 20-35 min) they will really start to brown on the pan - add about 1/2 Cup to the onions and stir. Cook another 10 min or so. 

While you're waiting on everything to finish - shred about 2-3 Cups of Gruyere. You can also use Mozzarella balls in addition to the Gruyere. 

In the meantime, pull out your toasted baguette pieces and set aside.

Once my onions were finished and beautifully browned, (smells soooo good!) Add the onions to the broth and bring to a boil - then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.  
Prepare the crocks by adding 2 pieces of toasted baguette to each. Turn on the broiler to High in your oven.
Next, using a ladle, add the onion soup 
to the crocks and fill to the top.

Place the crocks on a sturdy baking sheet and add a lot of the Gruyere and mozzarella to the top of the soup. 

And place under the broiler for about 5-8 minutes, or whenever the cheese starts to bubble & brown.

Carefully, pull out the soup and allow to sit for a couple of minutes.

Once you can't stand it anymore, ENJOY!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stay tuned....

On August 3, 2010, I began a lifestyle change. NO MEAT. I've cut out all meat (except for fish) and I'm loving it! I don't crave meat. I still think it smells good when cooking, but I'm not tempted. The only thing is, I'm afraid of how it will be cooking for people if I can't taste what I'm serving them. I think it'll be alright because I never taste my food while I'm cooking, anyway. I know...weird. But, people enjoy my cooking, so why mess w/ something if it's going good, right?

On to another lifestyle change...One week ago, August 19th, I started managing my weight by using the points system through Weight Watchers. No, I'm not going to meetings, I was given direction from a co-worker who lost 33lbs in 20 weeks. She's been my inspiration and motivation. Yesterday was my first weigh in and I'VE LOST 4 POUNDS!!!! I'm so excited! This program is not restrictive and it is teaching me and my daughter how to eat correctly and healthily. She's my little support. I have a big support, too. After calling my step mom to tell her the good news, she called me back and told me she's getting me weight watchers online. I'm so blessed to have such great people in my life.

So...I'm going to be focusing on incorporating my new lifestyle into my cooking for others.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer Dinner - It's a Family Collaboration

Can you guess what I'm going to make?

My 9-yr old daughter made homemade lemonade with fresh mint leaves using her new hand juicer - It was so perfect. Very refreshing.

My son grilled up some jalapeno chicken sausage & I made some baked mac n cheese w/ Romano, Parmesan, mozzarella & 4 cheese mix. For a cool refreshing side, I borrowed a recipe from one of my best friends' mom and put my own twist on it with something from my other best friend - I made diced tomatoes on the vine, cold mozzarella cheese and drizzled olive oil & Rozendal Red Wine Vinegar and seasoned it with sea salt.

It all turned out very nice. The topper...sitting on our deck with a beautiful breeze and 80 degree weather.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fresh Summer meal

Homemade French Bread Pizza - Turkey pepperoni, artichoke hearts, mushrooms & grape tomatoes with mozzarella. 

Okay, I  know turning the oven on during 90° weather is not ideal for summer cooking, but I am lucky enough to have central air, so I wasn't affected. 

BUT...this was VERY summery and very refreshing...

Summer Salad (Romaine, Cucumber, Grape tomato, avocado, shredded carrots, shredded cheese, fresh mint) tossed with homemade Red Wine Vinegar dressing. Garnished with Ranier Cherries & fresh mint.

Unfortunately, by the time I thought about taking a picture this salad, my daughter had picked all the avocado out of the salad. 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Enjoying my family and beginning of summer

My beauty signing "I love you" to her mommy.

Jumpin' right in!
My son helping build a deck...I was so sore after that. Luckily, the next day, I enjoyed some refreshing Mojitos for Memorial Day on the finished deck with some wonderful friends and family.

1/4 of my friends' new deck. They were able to fit 3 separate table and chair sets and a baby pool on this ginormous deck. It turned out so beautiful.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May's Cooking Demo

My confidence is soaring!!! I mean...I've always loved cooking for my friends and family, and I've never had anyone not like my cooking...but every time I go to do a cooking class, demonstration, or party, I feel like everyone will think I'm a complete fraud.

But, then I pull out all my artillery and set it out on the table or counter, and just pretend I'm at home in my kitchen. One of my favorite things is to have people sitting around my kitchen while I cook for them. Thankfully, tonight, I had some wonderful people show up for my cooking demonstration. They had great questions and were very kind and patient.

Tonight, to start my guests off, I tore up some crusty bread and served it with a small dipping bowl of olive oil, balsamic vinegar & cracked pepper. I prefer tearing my bread when serving it, as opposed to cutting it with a bread knife and making it look perfect. I feel it's more appealing when torn. While they were enjoying the bread that was crusty on the outside and moist on the inside, I grilled out in a beautiful Spring evening that was threatening rain, and actually threw down a few sprinkles. I made plank salmon rubbed with brown sugar, cracked pepper and garlic on half of it and the other half, basted with my new jalapeno infused honey. Under 350° heat, it turned out perfect and juicy! I had some open space on the cedar plank and put some asparagus with sea salt. Next to the plank, I grilled my portobello with sea salt and let it all smoke for about 5 minutes. Then, I drizzled Balsamic Vinegar on the mushrooms and cooked for another 2 minutes. After about 15 minutes total, everything was ready.

I ended the evening with a sweet treat. Mango, strawberry & kiwi cocktails garnished with fresh mango & kiwi. I love to see everyone enjoy good conversation with their friends and people they've just met, good food & drink and beautiful weather. 

The only thing I wasn't able to do was take pictures. SOooo...I'll be doing it again on Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Guests on my journey

I've met some really great people along my journey of getting to my own cooking show. Just treated myself to a new haircut & highlights last weekend. Thanks Karen at the Bee Hive in Philly. I definitely recommend her...if you check her out, tell her Mandy sent you. Went to the Collingswood Farmer's Market this weekend and met a nice woman at the honey stand. I discovered a very tasty honey with a kick...Habanero Honey. It's infused with habanero, hot cherry & jalapeno peppers. Very good. I'm going to try it as a baste for salmon, or tilapia. I also met a couple of nice brothers...Mac & Mac from a company called Duker. I got some delicious spicy pickled green tomatoes. Yum!

Tonight I had the pleasure of teaching a hands-on cooking class with a group of wonderful people. They were all so friendly! I just hope all my clients can be so great.

The theme of the night was Mexican. I provided instruction for turkey enchilada casserole, guacamole, pico de gallo and cinnamon & sugar crisps.  My little sous chef was the photographer. Thank you again Alyssa & friends!!! I had a great time.

We had a vegetarian in the house. She cubed these veggies perfectly!


Totally in my element.                                            

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dreams, Wishes & Goals

So, I made a photo album on my Facebook profile that is strictly for goals and dreams. I haven't taken a look at it for a while...until today, when I posted some new items for my wish list. I saw a couple of pictures that were on there that have already happened, or has started to happen. Is it the work of mind powers? The Secret? (awesome theory, by the way..."The Secret.") I'm thinking YES. But, right now...I'm thinking...England, England,'s going to happen! Here's my wish list album. It's small for now...but, I don't need much. Life is good. :)

Afternoon Tea

Hosting my first Afternoon Tea Party this Sunday (that isn't a birthday party for my daughter) Pictures to come.
I have so much planning I still need to do. This is the part where I go 100mph and throw out my ideas and book parties and classes and THEN  I plan the details. ha! It makes my life exciting and everything always falls in place wonderfully. (By the way...have you ever written down your dreams, wishes and goals?)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Table With a View

Went to a town wide yard sale yesterday and got this window. Found the legs at an old hardware store in Camden and fixed it up. If it weren't for the painting part, it would have taken me only about 5 minutes to make.

It was a nice breezy day out, so I did all my painting outside. It only took about 15 minutes. I'm hooked! I'm going to make this a part-time hobby. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Champagne Wishes & Tea Time Dreams

 One of my dreams is to have a cottage in a rural area in England that I can turn into a tea parlour. Possibly even a Bed & Breakfast. Ever since a good friend of mine took me to High Tea at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, AZ, I've been slightly obsessed with having my own gig like that. I'm constantly collecting single tea cups and saucers, tea pots, serving dishes, etc. Today, I had an opportunity that gave me a swift kick in the butt. I'm going to go for it! I will fulfill my dream. I won't make it to my cottage in England for several years, but I will be working on a short term goal. They say if you write down your goals, they will happen. I will start now!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day in Atlantic City 2010

Takin' a break from work to take my youngest to the shore.

My most favorite pictures of her are when she isn't aware I'm taking a picture.

The water was soooo freezing....but the sun felt good.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Have you ever had a fear of trying something new, or going after what you want in life? I have those fears all the time. It's not like the things I want to try is something dangerous, like skydiving (even though that IS something I'd like to do some day)'s things that will better my life and make me successful. I mean, hard is it to get off your butt and go for it??? IT'S SUPER HARD! However, I've learned to just push myself. How, you say? Well, talking to yourself helps. But, to avoid having full on conversations with yourself...keep it short and sweet...and don't let anyone see your lips moving.

Personally, my secret is act first, then ask "what the hell did I just do?" later. Most of my decisions are spur of the moment. Even though they are based off of ideas that I've been toying with for years, I still go 0-100 in a split second. Usually, my decisions lead me to exactly where I want to be. Once I get there, I just have to be sure I knock down any walls that try to stand in my way and don't allow any negativity to get me down. I surround myself with positive people and don't allow the negative to pop my safety bubble.

My latest decision is a website for my cooking business I've been playing with for a while. Two very nice women who own their own business, counseled me and convinced me to start a website. So, what did I do? I got home and bought my domain so nobody else could get it. I least I'll have the domain until I'm ready to do something with this. hour and a half later, I had the finished product. So, I thought...I got a tiny bit obsessed over it and couldn't stop tweaking it. it's finally done. I think.

So, for now, I've got a couple of clients and one of them is a monthly gig. Let's see if this website boosts my business. In the meantime, I feel pretty darn awesome.

So, please feel free to stop by and see what you think.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Today really does feel like the first day of the rest of my life. I feel so productive! Stay tuned for what's about to happen next.