Tag Archives: Siracha

Roasted Garlic Bean Dip

Roasted Garlic Bean Dip

This roasted garlic bean dip has a luscious creamy texture and makes for a scrumptious dip that can be served with crostini’s, pita’s or tortilla chips on the side. For such complex flavors it’s amazing how easy it is to make. Topping the roasted garlic bean dip with a salsa and some sautéed or grilled shrimp, swordfishchicken, pulled beef , or one of my favorites, rack of lamb, just brings it to a whole other level of taste and presentation! 

This bean dip gets much of it’s concentrated flavor from the caramelized roasted garlic. The lovely creaminess comes from the cannellini beans. To complete this circle of flavor here I add in chicken broth and pinot grigio and let it simmer intensifying and infusing all these flavors together.

Substituting your typical starch like potatoes, pasta or rice in your dinner for my high protein roasted garlic bean dip makes for an extremely healthy choice. This purée is not only rocking with flavor but it’s also filling so you won’t be craving the starch that you just switched out. I came up with this recipe because I love creating sauces and I wanted something with that creamy texture feel yet really nutritional as well.

Drizzling a specialty extra virgin olive oil with hints of pepper and fruit over the final roasted garlic bean purée not only makes for a gourmet presentation but accentuate’s the dip perfectly. You may start to get a craving for dessert after eating my roasted garlic bean dip and want venture off to something in the sweet’s department like chocolate pecan pie, chocolate crackle cookies, chocolate eclairs, BEST chocolate cake ever or keeping the healthy theme and try the amazing chocolate avocado mousse!








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  • 1 can cannellini beans (butter beans are great too)
  • 4 large roasted garlic cloves or 6 medium size
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine (pinot grigio…what ever you favorite wine is just not a sweet one)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a dash of Siracha for a kick
  • 10 lg shrimp sauteed in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tbsp butter for 2 minutes each side, deglaze with 2 tbsp pinot grigio when shrimp are cooked thru, simmer for 1 minute – for wine to evaporate


  1. Rinse cannellini beans and place in a medium sauce pan with 4 roasted garlic cloves, broth and wine on medium/high heat.
  2. Bring to a simmer, turn down heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes more.
  3. Add the beans to a blender and purée.
  4. You may need to stop, stir and purée again because it is a thick mixture in a blender
  5. Add 2 Tbsp of water, milk or half and half
  6. Stir with spatula to loosen up bean purée, then purée for 5 seconds more
  7. It’s as simple as that
  8. Pour out bean puree on a platter or bowl and top with salsa, sauteed shrimp, grilled chicken, beef or lamb…YUM 🙂

Salsa Ingredients & Directions:

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cucumber
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 heaping tbsp finely chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped avocado
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar (seasoned)
  • s & p to taste
  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and season with salt & pepper – set aside


Best Hummus Ever

Best Hummus Ever!

My Best Hummus Ever recipe is going to become a go to dish for you when you see how gosh darn easy it is to make it yourself! Chic peas, tahini paste, garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt in a food processor, purée until smooth and violà you have an amazing dip. Wait, there is one caveat to this best hummus ever recipe. My secret to a silky, smooth homemade hummus is removing the skins from the chic peas. This is actually a very easy task that will take you about five to ten minutes and it makes all the difference in the texture and taste for your hummus. It’s still quicker than taking that trip to the market for the already prepared hummus.

Hummus is such a versatile kind of dip where you can change it up in so many ways to get a new flavor. You can add a teaspoon of cumin to give it a bright, floral and lemony flavor. You could add in smoked paprika, hot sauce, or even throw in some roasted red peppers when you go to purée the chic peas for a beautiful reddish roasted pepper hummus. The options really are endless so don’t be afraid to have some fun here.

Biting the bullet and buying the jar of Tahini paste is totally worth it because it will last a long, long time and you will get many, many hummus dishes from this! For all you local followers I buy my jar of Tahini paste at FoodWorks Natural Market in Guilford, CT.

If you like this best hummus ever recipe you may want to try my Michigan Sauce, yogurt chicken kabobs and tzatziki beef bourguignon where you make an amazing Indian spiced tomato-cream dish on the 2nd day or Sea bass with green goddess sauce. Then you can end the meal with the cake that won’t last or an apple sauce-caramel sundae!


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  • 1 can chic peas – garbanzo beans drained, rinsed and with skins removed (I used Goya)
  • 3 tbsp – In the show I said 1/4 cup but I actually think 3 tbsp is better (a little milder)… Tahini has a strong flavor.
  • Food Works in Guilford has Tahini Paste (note: this is a good investment because it will last a long, long time and you will get many, many hummus dishes from it 🙂
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ex-large garlic clove put thru press for a fine mash
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt – will add 1/4 tsp at a time
  • 1-3 tbsp water
  • a few dashes of Siracha or your favorite hot sauce (you can find Siracha near the Tabasco in the store)


  • Drain, wash and remove the skins from the chic peas by gently squeezing the peas between your fingers to loosen and remove the outer skin
  • Put the chic peas, tahini paste, a garlic clove put thru garlic press, olive oil and fresh lemon juice in the food processor and run for 1 minute
  • Stop and scrap down the sides of the processor
  • Add 1/4 tsp of sea salt, 1 tbsp of water and purée 1 minute
  • Stop and taste, you will probably need to add 1 tsp sea salt more and 1 tbsp water getting it to thin it out a bit (adding the water aerates the dip lightening it up)
  • Run the processor for 1 more minute
  • Check to make sure hummus is the thickness you want – you may want 1 tbsp more of water
  • Turn out hummus into a bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil
  • And, OR Sprinkle with paprika, OR top with 2 tbsp chopped kalamata olives or cucumber salad in the center of the hummus
  • Serve with blue chips, pita or naan
  • CUCUMBER SALAD: 1/4 cup finely chopped European cucumber, 2 tbsp finely chopped cherry tomatoes, 1 tbsp finely chopped kalamata olive and red onion, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of s & p – combine all ingredients in a sm bowl

My MasterChef Sauces

My MasterChef Sauces

masterchefpicThe creation of these MasterChef sauces. a spicy, sweet and sour mango and a ginger-peanut sesame sauce, all began while surfing the net a few weeks ago, I accidentally ran into the MasterChef homepage advertising “Casting calls are coming soon to a city near you”.  My kids, Reilly and Bella were there at the time and enthusiastically shouted, “you should do it”! I think what sealed the deal was reading the “Come and meet the MasterChef casting team for your chance to be on the show!” The excitement started to seep in and I began to seriously consider going to the New York City MasterChef open call. If anything, I knew it would be a step in the right direction and a great learning experience let alone the adrenaline of it all!

After sending in their required online pre-registration form and printing out the nine page hard copy form to be submitted at the casting call I thought it would be a good idea to look over the FAQ page. The FAQ’s certainly had a list of what to do and what not to do. The “to do’s” started off like this:  First, bring one prepared dish to serve to their food judges. Second,  we would be given 3 minutes to plate our dish at their casting call location and for some reason I had initially thought I had 5 minutes to plate so that was a bit of an eye opener! Third, there wouldn’t be a kitchen to cook or warm our dish up so we were to come prepared! Fourth, we are to supply our own dishes, utensils, etc.

The “do not do’s went like this:  no air mattresses, no alcoholic beverages, no animals (unless health related), no candles, no cans or bottles (except water bottles), no chairs that do not fold (i.e. lawn chairs, chaise lounges, molded plastic chairs), no digital or still cameras, no fireworks, no hair dryers, no illegal drugs, no tents, no video, cameras or camcorders of any kind, no weapons of any kind, no children under the age of 13 years are allowed at the audition venues. There you have it!

Well OK,  I had a little organizing to do and a plate to figure out for my MasterChef casting call debut! I really wanted to wow them! The part about the “NO kitchen” and “come prepared” got me to thinking that a cold dish of some sort might be a wise way to go! An appetizer is probably the most logical then, right? Yes that’s it, it came to me.  I would make my “Fresh Shrimp and Chive Rolls” with the new MasterChef sauces that I have created which I can decorate the plate with. A julienne of daikon radish, carrots and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds with micro herbs for some pizzaz would add in the finishing touches. I also thought I needed to add in some height so I came up with baked egg roll shells that I form in a cup cake pan. I got this idea from my “Bloody Mary shrimp and Mango-Curry Shrimp in Wonton cups at Nancy’s Show” except I decided to use egg rolls shells instead of won-ton because they are a little bit lighter.

Now that I knew what I was going to make I thought I would practice my plate decorating with my MasterChef Sauces by shooting it in this weeks show so I could share this fun experience with all of you! It was definitely a lot of work to do this and go to the casting call but I did it! It was an awesome experience being there and the “MasterChef team” was pretty dynamite. They had everything down to a science and moved around with ease offering up a very warm welcome to all the competitors. I am super glad that I took Reilly and Bella’s advice on going for this.

I kicked you know what with my dish and the plating. I went there and did exactly what I set out to do with my presentation with 8 or so seconds left before they yelled “TIMES UP”! That part I have to say was such a RUSH because it reminded me of chopped!!! I was then the first to be called back in with 8 others for that first plate presentation part from our first group of 30 plating competitors.  I might be over thinking all of this a little, but I was so tired from preparing the food and shooting the show I feel as though I forgot to prep myself on what exactly to say about “me” when they pulled us 8 into interview. Although, I had them laughing a bit. I got the feeling what was more important to them was the person who said the right things in that second interviewing, more character not food ability. Gods only knows I do have lots of that so if it doesn’t work out this time I NOW know what they want next time around! I still have to wait until the end of October to see if I hear from them (they are still traveling to other states). I had an incredible time and will keep you all posted. Thank you all for your support, it means a lot! Hope you enjoy “My MasterChef Sauces” Show! 



































Ingredients for Ginger-Peanut Sesame Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp smooth peanut butter (Teddy’s All Natural)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp wasabi powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2-1 tsp Siracha (can find this next to Tabasco products)
  • 1 whole lime
  • 1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 3 tbsp pineapple juice – Use 1 1/2 tsp of this 
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp half and half

Directions for Ginger-Peanut Sesame Sauce:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl (EXCEPT corn starch mixture) and whisk
  2. Squeeze only 1/2 of the lime in at this point
  3. Add to medium pan over medium/high bring to a low simmer – whisking constantly this will be about 2-3 minutes
  4. When this begins to thicken turn down to med/low and add in 1 1/2 tsp of corn starch mixture and keep whisking- this will be about 3-4 minutes
  5. Remove from stove and cool
  6. When cooled add in 2 tbsp half and half and a squeeze of the other half of the lime and whisk briefly til smooth
  7. Add to ramekins for a dipping sauce or put into squeeze bottle to decorate plate with

Ingredients for Spicy, Sweet and Sour Mango Sauce:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup mango
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp Siracha
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 3 tbsp water
  • 1 lemon

Directions for Spicy, Sweet and Sour Mango Sauce:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl except the corn starch mixture
  2. Whisk til combined – use juice from 1/2 lemon here
  3. Add to a medium size pan over med/high heat and bring to a low simmer to melt sugar – 3 minutes
  4. Add in corn starch and keep whisking at a low simmer til the mixture is transparent again and thickened – 5 more minutes
  5. Mash Mango pieces into sauce with a fork
  6. Remove from heat and press thru a sieve into a bowl and let cool completely (can add a little squeeze of the other half of the lemon if too thick)
  7. Pour into ramekins for dipping or put in a squeeze bottle to draw on plates …have fun decorating!

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

BLUEI can’t think of anything more annoying then being out at a restaurant where they serve up a beautiful mescaline salad or heirloom tomatoes with blue cheese dressing from a bottle! My homemade gourmet blue cheese dressing recipe is gosh darn easy to make and all done in the food processor!

I have been making this homemade blue cheese dressing for over 20 years and it’s one of my favorite recipes. I love all blues whether they are pungent, and or creamy from Stilton, to Maytag, Danish, and Gorgonzola, and to die for sweet and creamy Cambozola. Last but not least is my Italian Gorgonzola Dolce which I make an incredible pasta sauce with (that’s not really “last” …the list of great blues goes on and on). Not to stray from the homemade blue cheese dressing recipe but you really ought to check out my gourmet Gorganzola Dolce Cream Sauce & Fresh Thyme that I serve on pasta or gnocchi featured on May 15, 2014 which you can make in 5 minutes blind folded!

The Chart House Restaurant makes one of my favorite blue cheese dressings and that’s where my recipe was hatched from. Of course, I changed up amounts, procedures and ingredients adding in several others until I got the taste I wanted and this is how I have been making it for over 20 years. My homemade blue cheese dressing is slightly chunky, on the creamier side where you sprinkle extra crumbled blue to the top of your salad at the end. The consistency is really a matter of personal preference. You can actually make it as smooth or chunky as you want by “pulsing” only when blending the ingredients in the food processor. You can also pulse til smooth in the food processor, then throw in a handful of crumbled blue and finish with a gentle mix using a spatula… it’s your prerogative to change it up how you see fit. I offer up the great list of ingredients and now you can be creative on texture!

buffdipI always make this dressing when I make my chicken wings or when I buy blue for my Buffalo Chicken Dip that’s always the first appetizer gone at my parties! Serving the blue cheese dressing up with the chicken wings and all of my favorite veggies on the side you can’t go wrong. Another great dinner idea would be layering grilled beef or chicken fillets, a couple of thickly sliced heirloom tomatoes, a drizzle of my homemade blue cheese dressing and a sprinkle of crumbled blue with crispy chunks of bacon on top of that … hot diggety! When you see how easy and crazy good this blue cheese dressing is you will never be happy with bottle again!

icemohitoYou may want to add in some other yummy appetizers like Homemade Salsa, or Spanakopita with Metaxa Mojito’s, and for an entré try Homemade Potato-Ricotta Gnocchi, easier than you think to make! You certainly shouldn’t forget dessert of Honey-Dripping Baklava or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie! 🙂



















  • 2/3 cup (1/2 cup if you like a milder flavor) of Danish, Maytag, Stilton or what ever your favorite crumbling blue may be
  • PLUS 1/3 cup blue cheese extra for sprinkling on top of dressing when you plate the salads
  • NOTE: Should have beautiful blue veining in the blue cheese and Maytag and Stilton are not as crumbly as Danish so you will probably have to cut up with a knife instead of breaking it up with your hands
  • 1 cup Helman’s Mayonaise (I ONLY use Helman’s)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp “seasoned” rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Siracha (Asian hot sauce you can find at local Stop & Shop with all “hot Sauces”)
  • 1/2 tsp Colemans Dry Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 1 Recipe Buffalo Chicken Dip


  1. Put all above ingredients into food processor EXCEPT 1/3 CUP OF BLUE and pulse slowly for 15 seconds until you get the desired smoothness…You may want to take off the top and get a better peak (you are saving that extra 1/3 cup of blue cheese to crumble on top when plating)
  2. You can also pulse til smooth, pour the dressing into a large bowl, toss in a handful of crumbled blue (that 1/3 cup) and mix in gently with a spatula and voilà!
  3. Dress salad or vegetables and sprinkle with extra crumbled blue on top… Enjoy!

After all this cheesiness  you may want to try my Perfectly Chocolate” Hershey Cakes, my chocolate crackle cookies, or chocolate pecan pie! YUM!







Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Caesar salads are probably my favorite of all time. So many wonderful flavors and textures in this combination from crunchy and garlicky with the Italian garlic croutons, to a sharpness from the shaved Reggiano Parmesano sprinkled on the top of the romaine and a creaminess with the grated Parmesan in the actual dressing itself. Then there is a tang from the lemon and Dijon, and an extra savory flavor in the undertones that you just can’t put your finger on but tastes delicious from the anchovie paste and Worcestershire sauce!

Wow, you will really like the simplicity of this recipe and you can make the croutons a day or more ahead of time and make the dressing the morning of your lunch or dinner. It makes for such a nice presentation if you can use a large shallow dish like the one in the photos.  When I have friends over for dinner I often serve the Caesar salad in that large shallow bowl and then add slices of grilled or sautéed chicken breasts, or grilled salmon pieces going all around the outer edges and everyone loves it. Have fun with this and enjoy!

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  • 1 large/2 medium cloves of garlic put thru garlic press
  • 1 egg yolk farm fresh or organic brown eggs ONLY – EGG YOLK OPTIONAL
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon – Grey Poupon or Maille
  • 1 Tsp anchovie paste
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fine blk pepper
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar “seasoned” (this comes original or seasoned …I prefer seasoned)
  • between 1/3 – 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 2 good dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I use Siracha in this recipe)


  1. In a medium bowl add garlic thru press, anchovie paste, salt, pepper and Dijon
  2. Mash these items together with  the back of a spoon to combine and form a paste in a wooden bowl
  3. Transfer paste to a large glass bowl
  4. Add in 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, dash of Siracha and rice wine vinegar/ lemon juice mixture
  5. Separate egg yolk from white and add to glass bowl and whisk immediately
  6. Then very slowly whisk in olive oil so it emulsifies JUST DRIZZLE IN DROPS AT A TIME or IT WILL NOT EMULSIFY and you will have to start over
  7. Lastly, whisk in 1/3 grated Reggiano Parmesan
  8. Put the dressing into a canning jar for ease and pop it into the frig til you are ready to use
  9. Be sure to take out 30 minutes before you use the dressing so it can come to room temperature
  10. Will be good for a few days in the frig

Directions for Caesar Salad:

  1. Cut ends off of romaine hearts then cut them in half length wise
  2. Wash and spin leaves
  3. Lay the leaves down on paper towels to catch any additional moisture
  4. Put 3 or 4 pieces at a time layered on top of one another and slice into 1/2″ strips
  5. Here you can put the cut romaine pieces into large freezer Ziploc baggies and into the frig til you are ready to assemble the Caesar salad OR
  6. Put into a large shallow bowl, add dressing, and toss
  7. Top with shredded Parmesan and Italian garlic croutons and mangia!