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Author: Mike

Pasta Salad

1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 cucumber, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower
1 (16 oz.) package rotini pasta
1/2 cup pepperoni (optional)

Cook noodles according to package and set aside. Mix oil, vinegar, sugar, and seasonings together. Combine pasta and veggies in a bowl and pour dressing mixture in, stir. Store in a non-metallic container overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the excess dressing before serving.

Chimichurri Sauce

3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 4 hours, bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 1 cup.

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon Garlic Butter and Pine Nuts

1 lb broccoli florets
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 to 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the broccoli with the oil and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the florets in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast, turning once, for 12 minutes, or until just tender.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and heat, stirring, for about 1 minute. Let cool slightly and stir in the lemon juice. Place the broccoli in a serving bowl, pour the lemon butter over it and toss to coat. Scatter the toasted pine nuts over the top.

Peanut Butter Fudge

1 cup butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioner sugar

Heat peanut butter and butter in double boiler until thoroughly mixed and heated through. Add vanilla and confectioner sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Pour into a buttered 8×8 or 9×9 pan lined with waxed paper. Place a second piece of waxed paper on the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Note: Alternately, you can microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes before adding the sugar and vanilla.

Earl Grey Tea Truffles

16 oz dark chocolate, chopped
14 oz cream
2 bags Earl Grey tea
1 Tbsp butter
cocoa powder, sifted
coconut flakes, toasted
walnuts, toasted and crushed
almonds, toasted and crushed

Bring cream to a boil and remove from heat. Add the tea bags and allow to steep for several minutes. Remove the tea bags.

Bring the cream to a boil again and pour over chocolate and butter in a separate bowl. Whisk until smooth (be careful not to incorporate air). Set aside to cool.

Use a spoon or melon baller to make small uneven balls of chocolate. Roll the truffles in the desired toppings or dip into pure melted chocolate. Chill.

Barbecue Ribs

3 lbs. baby-back ribs (2 slabs)

Dry rub:
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp paprika
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Braising liquid:
1 cup white wine
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp of barbecue sauce
2 cloves of garlic

Rinse the ribs and pat dry. Remove the thin white/silver membrane on the back side of the ribs. Thoroughly cover the ribs with the dry rub. Seal each slab in a pocket of heavy-duty aluminum foil, place in a roasting pan, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Open up one end of each foil package and pour half of the braising liquid into each one. Reseal each package and tilt the roasting pan to evenly distribute liquid throughout the foil packets. Place in a 250° oven and cook for 2.5 hours.

Remove the ribs from their foil packaging. Brush both sides with reduced braising liquid or barbecue sauce (recommend Sticky Fingers “Memphis Original” brand). Place under a broiler, meat side up, for 5-10 minutes until desired carmelization.

Classic Tomato Sauce

1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 stalk of celery, finely minced in processor
1 carrot, finely minced in processor
64 oz crushed tomatoes (Italian plum tomatoes, preferred)
4-6 leaves of fresh basil, chiffonade
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp dry thyme
1 Tbsp dry oregano
4 Tbsp butter, for adjusting

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all vegetables are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour until thick.  Add basil during the last 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter 1 Tbsp at a time to soften it. Put the sauce into a food processor and blend until desired smoothness. Can freeze up to 6 months.

Chocolate Mousse

4.5 oz. or 1/4 lb dark chocolate
pinch salt
1 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp powdered sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 Tbsp liquer (Amaretto, Bailey’s, Kahlua, vanilla extract, etc)

Melt chocolate chunks with salt, butter, cream, and powdered sugar in a double boiler over simmering water. When completely melted, remove from heat and beat in egg yolks with mixer until smooth. Add the liquer and mix again.

In a separate bowl (must be absolutely clean), add cream of tartar and beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Stir in one spoonful of egg whites to the chocolate mixture to temper. Fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour mousse into serving dishes and let set in the fridge for 4 to 5 hours.

This recipe serves four, or two if you love chocolate.

Whipped Cream:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or liquer

Sauteed Asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 2-in. pieces
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice

Add olive oil and butter to a saute pan over medium heat. Place the garlic, asparagus, shallots, and red pepper flakes in the pan. Saute for 5-7 minutes, cooked through but still firm. Sesaon with salt and pepper.

Turn off the heat. Add lemon zest and squirt of lemon juice to the aspargus and toss. Check seasoning and serve immediately.

Mongolian Beef

1 lb beef (Tri-Tip Sirloin, Eye of round or Flank Steak works best)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp sesame seed oil
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of ginger
1 broccoli crown, cut into small florets
2 Tbsp water
6 green onions, chopped

Thinly slice the beef against the grain. Combine in a bowl with 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp cornstarch, and garlic and let sit 10-15 minutes.

Combine 1/2 cup of water, 1 Tbsp sesame seed oil, 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 1/2 tsp cornstarch, ginger and red pepper ans set aside or let warm over very low heat.  Stir occasionally to keep cornstarch from clumping.

Heat a large, heavy skillet or wok on high. Add 1 Tbsp of peanut oil to the pan then the beef.  Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes until beef is evenly browned.  Remove beef from the pan, wipe clean with a paper towel, and return it to the burner.

Add 1 Tbsp of peanut oil to the pan then add the broccoli florets.  Stir continuously for 1-2 minutes when the broccoli begins to brown.  Add the 2 Tbsp of water and cover for 1-2 minutes until cooked through.  Add the green onions and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add the cooked beef to the pan with broccoli and green onions then pour in the sauce mixture.  Stir-fry on high until sauce thickens.  Serve over brown rice.