Monthly Archives

March 2010

Kid Friendly Sweets

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Cake never lasts long in my house.  Especially flourless chocolate cake.  This light and fluffy cake is rich in dark chocolate and can be topped with whipped cream, ice cream or a simple raspberry sauce.  Although, my youngest daughter loves to smother her flourless chocolate cake with chocolate sauce.

And I do have the loveliest of chocolate sauce recipes.  A Mexican chocolate sauce.  It’s divine!  Just click on the words “Mexican chocolate” and it’ll take you right to the recipe.  A little sweet, a little spicy.  A perfect topping for a perfect cake.

Happy Baking!

Flourless Chocolate Cake


10 oz dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids)

½ cup unsalted butter

½ cup granulated sugar

6 eggs: 2 whole eggs, 4 separated eggs

1 teaspoon coffee extract (or add 1 teaspoon cinnamon)

Large 9 inch fluted pan or spring form pan

For the topping:

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon coffee extract

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Cocoa powder for dusting

Fresh raspberries for garnish (optional)


Whip together heavy cream, coffee extract and sugar until cream is nicely firm


Preheat the oven to 350F.  Liberally grease the cake pan with either butter, Crisco or coconut butter.

In a saucepan melt the chocolate pieces over a double boiler or low heat and then add the butter.  Whisk gently to incorporate the butter.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with the ½ cup of sugar.  Once light and fluffy, slowly add in the melted chocolate and butter, a little at a time so you don’t cook the eggs.

In a second bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites and a tablespoon of sugar until the egg whites nicely hold their shape.  Add about ½ cup of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and incorporate into the batter.  Then slowly fold in the remaining egg whites being careful not to over mix.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the cake is nice and firm in the center.

Once the cake is done, cool slightly and then with a knife roll around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan.  Carefully remove the cake from the pan onto a cake platter.   The cake will fall a bit in the center and looks very rustic which is absolutely ok.

Prepare the whipped cream topping and then pour on top of cake.  Dust with cocoa powder and serve with fresh raspberries, strawberries, or sliced papaya.

Chicken Halibut Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Mango Cilantro Avocado Salsa over Grilled Halibut

Tropical salsas can take a fish dinner from good to great! I adore tropical fruits and especially like them paired with fresh fish of the season. 

This mango salsa recipe is simple, fresh and makes dinner a breeze.  Just top your fresh grilled, or even pan seared or baked fish, or chicken with this mango salsa and serve with an herbed rice, grilled sweet potatoes or grilled plantains and you have a fabulous and fast dinner. 

This delicious salsa can even be served as an appetizier with blue corn chips!  In fact, I usually prepare enough salsa to top our fish or chicken and then serve a little extra with chips for snacking before dinner is ready.   You can prepare this recipe up to one day in advance, however, do not combine the avocado until you are ready to serve.  Happy Cooking!

Mango Cilantro Salsa

Serves 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: No cooking required

2 large mangos peeled and diced

1-2 large avocados diced

½ C purple/red onion diced

¼ C (or a good handful) packed chopped cilantro

1 Serrano or jalapeño pepper seeded and diced (optional) or a pinch of chipotle powder

1 Lime zested and juiced

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Fresh cracked black pepper

Gently toss mangos, onion, pepper, cilantro, lime zest and lime juice.  Next add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and gently toss again.  Last, add the avocado and gently toss into the salsa.  Serve with blue corn chips as an appetizer or over grilled fresh Halibut or grilled Chicken for a main course.  Add a few yummy sides to make a great summer meal.


Grilling Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Mixed Herb Italian Salsa Verde Over Seared Sea Scallops

Every year when my herb garden is overflowing with fresh herbs I start making a multitude of different toppings and sauces for my weeknight menu’s.  I also dry my herbs for use in soups and stews or to marinate feta cheese.  I’ll get that feta cheese recipe posted soon! 

One of the sauces I love to prepare is an Italian Salsa Verde.   This is a versatile sauce that can be used over fish, chicken, beef and even pork.  And even better, it’s a great dipping sauce for a veggie crudite platter or for skewered grilled meats and veggies.  I love it when I can get mulitple uses out of one sauce! Whoo Hoo!

Italian salsa verde is similar to a South American chimichurri sauce and a pesto, but just a little different.  Just like a chimichurri sauce or a pesto, Italian salsa verde recipes vary from region to region or from family to family.  Many recipes of Italian salsa verde are simply prepared with only Italian parsley, which is delicious.  However, I like to include additional herbs such as basil, rosemary and sometimes oregano. 

Remember, this is a versatile recipe that can prepared to your personal tastes.  Feel free to alter and substitute the herbs to create your perfect Italian salsa verde! 

Happy Cooking!

Mixed Herb Italian Salsa Verde

Serves 4


1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed and chopped

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

6 anchovies

Pinch of red pepper

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Place all the herbs, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, anchovies, vinegar, and pinch of red pepper in a food processor.  Pulse to combine. 

Add the olive oil and pulse until the salsa verde is completely combined.  This salsa doesn’t need to be smooth like a pesto or chimichurri, but a little more salsa like.  Last, add the pine nuts and just give it a quick pulse to combine but not puree.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle over seared sea scallops, grilled, pan seared or roasted fish and meats.  Or use as a Bruschetta for Crostini or a dipping sauce for a crudités platter.

To Sear Sea Scallops:  If using olive oil do not let it smoke, heat over medium heat only.  If you’d like the oil hot for a good sear, use a high heat refined oil such as a sunflower or safflower oil. Spectrum brand Organic oils is an excellent choice.

Heat on medium high a large skillet or wok with a high heat oil.    Season the scallops with salt and pepper.  When the oil just begins to smoke a little, add the scallops to the skillet. Turn the heat down to medium and let the scallops sear for about 2- minutes on each side, depending on thickness, forming a nice golden brown crust.  The scallop will turn easily when it’s done. 

Transfer scallops to plates or a platter and then top with the Italian Salsa Verde.  Serve immediately.

Grilling Halibut Sauces, Salsas and More

Grilled Halibut with a Mediterranean Sun Dried Tomato Relish

Halibut Season is here and I’m on the halibut band wagon!  Actually, I feel more like a walking halibut commercial.  It’s a happy day around these parts when halibut season opens each year.  Beautiful white and flaky, but delicate and sweet tasting fish from our Pacific Northwest waters.  Not only deliciously divine, halibut is a healthy dinner option and simple to prepare. 

Halibut is delicious pan seared, grilled, even oven roasted (so long as it has a topping).  And Fishmonger Jim, from our local Gemini Fish Market, shared with me another great method of preparing this beautiful fish.  Jim poaches his halibut in a little white wine, shallots and herbs.  I’ll get Jim to give me his recipe and post it soon.  

Meanwhile… here’s another great recipe for fresh halibut.  Tangy, sweet sun dried tomato, combined with fresh chopped oregano, lemon zest, green olives, capers and a little splash of lemon.  A great way to top your grilled, pan seared, or oven roasted halibut.  For something different, try adding just a splash of balsamic vinaigrette to your relish.  This relish can also be finely chopped into a fabulous bruschetta to serve over crostini.   

Serve with an herbed brown rice cous cous and roasted fresh spring asparagus (also in this blog under “sides”).   Simple, delicious and healthy.  Happy Cooking!

Serves 4


1 ½ – 2lbs fresh halibut

1 cup sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, julienned

½ cup green olives, sliced

2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

1 clove garlic, minced

½ cup chopped artichoke hearts, not marinated (optional)

Pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl add the sun dried tomatoes, green olives, capers, chopped fresh herbs, lemon zest, garlic, sugar, and lemon juice.  Toss together and then taste for salt and pepper.  Set aside. 

To Grill the halibut, brush olive oil on the halibut and season with salt and pepper.  Heat the grill to 400F.  Grill the halibut for several minutes on each side, depending on thickness.  Halibut steaks are the best cuts for grilling.  If you have a halibut fillet, try pan searing or oven roasting. 

To oven roast the halibut, preheat the oven to 375F.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the halibut and season with a little salt and pepper.  Place in a baking dish and roast until the fish is flaky to the touch.  This will be about 8-10 minutes depending on thickness. 

To pan sear the halibut, heat a large skillet on medium high heat with a high heat oil such as safflower or sunflower oil.  Season the halibut with salt and pepper and when the oil is hot add it to the pan.  Turn the heat down to medium and let the halibut sear for several minutes.  Typically the fish will turn easily when it’s ready. If it won’t budge, let it sit a little longer.  Sear on each side for several minutes, and if the fish is thick, pop it in a preheated 375F oven to finish cooking.

When the fish is ready, transfer individual pieces to plates and then mound several tablespoons of relish on top.  Garnish with additional chopped fresh Italian parsley or oregano.  Serve immediately.

Compliment this dish with a side of herbed brown rice cous cous and roasted spring asparagus.

Halibut Sassy Side dishes Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Italian Parsley Vinaigrette with Mandarin Oranges over Halibut and Mixed Greens

I love a simply prepared halibut.  Just a nice pan seared filet with a little something drizzled over the top.  Add some fresh spring greens tossed in my fave Italian parsley vinaigrette and my lovely fish meal just became beautifully delicious.  

The robust flavor of the Italian parsley compliments the sweetness of the delicate mandarin oranges.   And as a bite of this halibut with fresh dressed greens and plump sweet mandarins, all sitting prettily on my fork makes its way to my mouth… I’m thinking, this is a mouthful that makes me smile (and makes me want to lick my plate).

Serves 4

The salad with vinaigrette makes a lovely side dish for any fish meal. 


1 ¼ lb Halibut Cheeks

Flour for dusting

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup Mandarin oranges

Fresh Spring Greens


½ cup olive oil

¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together.  Will hold in the frig for several days.


Salt and pepper halibut cheeks and then lightly dust in flour, shaking off excess. 

Heat a heavy skillet on medium heat and add a tablespoon or two olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.  When the oil/butter is nice and hot, but not smoking, add the halibut to the pan.  Let the halibut sear for about 3 minutes on each side, or until a nice golden crust has formed. 

Transfer halibut to a platter. 

To serve:  Plate the halibut, drizzle a little vinaigrette over the halibut and then sprinkle with mandarin oranges.  For a beautiful plate: Toss the greens in the vinaigrette and then put a nice mound of greens on a plate.  Top with the halibut and Mandarins, then drizzle with the vinaigrette.  Delicious and Beautiful!

For a Salad: Dress fresh spring greens with the vinaigrette, add fresh chopped green onions, mandarins and candied chopped pecans.  A complimentary side to most any meal!  Or add diced chicken to the salad for a delicous brunch or lunch.

Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Fresh Spring Greens, Mandarin Oranges and a Citrus Vinaigrette

Sea scallops seem to be one of the “scariest” shellfish to prepare.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve ruined perfectly good scallops.  The key is to be patient.  Scallops really are simple to prepare and can make a fast, delicious dinner if you follow a few important steps. 

Make sure you have a good quality heavy bottom skillet that distributes heat evenly.   A cast iron skillet is perfect, but if you don’t have one, just a good heavy bottom skillet will do.  Coat the bottom of the skillet with a bit of butter and olive oil.  Heat the skillet on medium, and when the butter/oil is hot, but not smoking, you’re good to go.  Add the scallops and let them sit and sear.  Most people get a little nervous and try moving the scallops before they are ready.  So be patient and when the scallop develops a nice brown crust on the bottom, it’s time to flip. 

There are a multitude of sauces you can use to top scallops.  My favorite is simply a citrus vinaigrette which will compliment the scallops and the fresh greens.  If you’d like something spicier, the spicy orange vinaigrette in the pan seared dover sole blog would be delicious as well.   Happy Cooking!

Serves 4


1 ½ lbs fresh dry packed sea scallops

Olive oil

Kosher salt (Kosher sea salt is excellent on scallops, just use more sparingly)

Fresh cracked black pepper

4-6 cups fresh spring greens (mix of Arugula and baby Spinach is nice too)

1 cup mandarin orange segments

1 lemon zested and juiced

1 lime zested and juiced

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

¾ cup olive oil

Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste


Vinaigrette: Vinaigrettes are typically 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (or acid).  Combine lime and lemon juice to make ¼ cup.  Then add the vinegar, honey, Dijon and zest.  Whisk together until blended.  As you whisk, drizzle in the ¾ cup olive oil.  Whisk until all ingredients are well blended together.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet on medium and add a few tablespoons of olive oil.  If the scallops are moist, dry them with a paper towel and then sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper. 

When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, add the scallops to the skillet, about 1 inch apart.  Let the scallops sit and sear in the pan for a minute or two.  The scallops will begin to develop a nice golden brown crust and when the scallop is ready to be turned it will easily lift up off the bottom of the pan. 

Sear both sides of the scallops (a few minutes on each side depending on thickness) and then place on a warm plate.  Toss the vinaigrette with the fresh greens and mandarins, and mound the greens on 4 plates.  Next, place a few scallops on each mound of greens and then drizzle with additional citrus vinaigrette. 

This is delicious all by itself, but if you’d like to add another side, herbed wild rice, brown rice, cous cous or risotto compliment scallops beautifully.  Or try a side of fresh fruit drizzled with a little lime juice, and honey, and tossed with chopped fresh mint.

Kid Friendly Sweets

Graham Cracker Pudding Cake

Chocolate Graham Cracker Pudding Cake

On occasion, I love to post something for all the little Chef’s in our lives.  And this recipe is sure to make your little Chef giggle with happiness.

Actually it makes me giggle with happiness.  I think I ate half the dessert, “quality testing” as I like to call it.

I’ve seen this recipe, and many like it making a huge comeback.  I suppose the saying “what’s old is new” is true in this case.  I remember this recipe from my childhood, and after digging through my high school Home Economics recipe box, I found my graham cracker pudding cake recipe.  Thankfully I passed the cooking section of the class, sewing however completely eluded me.  My final project looked like a tent… it was supposed to be a dress.

I’m not sure where this yummy little dessert originated, but I remember several of our family friends preparing it for church socials, or pot luck dinners.  Wherever and whenever it was served, you’d better be the first in line, otherwise you’d most likely end up looking at an empty dessert dish.

This is such a  great recipe for cooking with children, or something fun for your teen to whip up for friends.  Suzie Q whipped this up with her gluten free graham crackers and it’s fabulous.   And this time I exercised great control and only had one slice instead of half the pan.

Serves 8-10


1  1/2 Boxes Graham Crackers

2 large boxes instant pudding (any flavor or mix two flavors such as Butterscotch and Chocolate), prepare as directed for pie filling not pudding

Milk (whole milk or 2%)

Whipped Topping

9×13 glass dish


Layer graham crackers along the bottom of a baking dish, breaking the crackers to fit if needed.  Pour a layer of pudding over the graham crackers, about 1/2 to 1 inch thick.  Then layer graham crackers on top of the pudding and continue the process.  Graham crackers, pudding, graham crackers, pudding and so on.  When you get to the last layer cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight so the pudding becomes nice and firm for slicing.

To serve, add a layer of whipped topping on top and sprinkle with crumbled graham crackers or vanilla cookies.

OPTIONS:  Mix up the pudding flavors with combinations of two puddings.  Butterscotch/Chocolate, Vanilla/Chocolate, Pistachio/Vanilla or whatever strikes your fancy!

Grilling Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Pan Seared Dover Sole over Fresh Greens with a Spicy Orange Vinaigrette

I went to my local (and favorite) fish market yesterday, Gemini Fish Market in Issaquah, WA, and found a large selection of beautiful white fish.  But the Dover Sole caught my eye ; it was the most beautiful shade of glistening white with just a hint of pink.   It arrived the day before and was beckoning me to make a purchase.  So out the door I went with 1 1/2 pounds Dover Sole and of course a few scallops to sear as an appetizer. 

Dover Sole is a delicate white flaky fish that has a mild and sweet flavor.  It’s a smaller fish with smaller fillets that are excellent for a quick pan sear or baking in the oven.  Dover Sole is a fantastic basic fish that can be paired with a variety of sauces.  How about a simple brown butter, lemon and caper sauce, or a simple white wine and lemon sauce that can be found in my pan seared halibut over wilted spinach blog.  However you prepare Dover Sole, it’ll be delicious as well as healthy. 

This Spicy Orange Vinaigrette is fabulous over any white fish, whether it’s fresh grilled halibut, true cod, rockfish, snapper, or Dover sole.  If you don’t like fish, try this vinaigrette over pan seared chicken cutlets or grilled chicken breasts.  A sweet yet spicy vinaigrette that will satisfy your gourmet taste buds, but isn’t difficult to prepare.

I love to serve my pan seared fish over a salad of mixed greens that have been tossed in the vinaigrette.  Place a few pieces of fish on top of the greens and drizzle with a little additional vinaigrette.  Delicious!  

Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life!


1/4 C orange juice concentrate

2 tablespoons white vinegar

½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon honey

½ C olive oil

½ bunch fresh mint leaves

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 1/2 – 2 lbs Dover Sole, Halibut or any mild white fish

OPTION:  Or serve over grilled or pan seared chicken breasts 

In a blender or food processor, add the orange juice, vinegar, chipotle chili powder, kosher salt, honey, and mint leaves.  Pulse a few times to combine then while the blender or processor is on slowly add the olive oil until completely blended, salt and pepper to taste.  Optional:  for a little more citrus flavor add a bit of orange zest to the vinaigrette.  If you feel the vinaigrette is too thick, just thin it out with a few tablespoons of water until you’ve reached the desired consistency.  Feel free to adjust seasoning, adding more or less mint, or more or less chipotle powder. 

Toss spring greens with some of the vinaigrette and place greens in the middle of a plate.  Top with pan seared or grilled fish and drizzle the fish with additional vinaigrette.  Serve with Wild Rice or grilled/roasted sweet potatoes and plantains.