Daily Archives: May 24, 2014

Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes

I love making bite size portions of food, especially dessert. It’s a great way to indulge in dessert without the guilt. Try making these little chocolate cheesecakes, they are rich and moist, drizzled with a little swirl of chocolate and then covered with a dusting of cocoa powder “snow”, they look as delicious as they taste. These are easy to whip up and look like a lot more effort then they take to prepare. Indulge in these tasty little bites today.

From by the bay wishing you sweet mini food memories!
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Mini Chocolate  Cheesecakes

Makes 24 pieces

9 ounces chocolate wafer cookies
½ cup melted unsalted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons sour cream

4 tablespoons chocolate syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate


Preheat oven to 375 degree F.  To make crust use food processor to finely grind the wafers, then add the melted butter and process until moist. Take out and divide between  two 12 cup mini muffin tins. Press the mixture down and push up along the sides using your fingertips. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To make the filling : Use  the food processor to combine the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Make sure to scrape down the mixture with a spatula from the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and continue to beat. Next add the sour cream, vanilla and chocolate syrup until all is well blended and smooth.

Pour the cheese mixture into a cup and pour into the cups – filling each almost to the top.  Place the muffin tins onto a baking sheet and place in the oven in the center rack. Bake for 15 minutes until set. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least  3 hours. To top, place chocolate into microwave for 30 seconds. Mix and place into microwave another 30 seconds. Remove and stir until all the chocolate is melted. Using a spoon, dip into the chocolate and shake over the cheesecakes , creating thin lines of chocolate, place back into the refrigerator to harden another 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator and gently lift each cup out of the tins using a knife or small spatula and serve immediately of place covered back into the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Spicy Chocolate Truffles

What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate? It’s a example of a perfect union. For this Valentine’s Day I wanted to experiment with making my own truffles. There are a lot of truffle recipes around so I wanted to make mine a little unique in taste. I opened my spice rack and experimented with mixing cocoa powder with a variety of different spices and landed on my favorite pairing which I’m sharing with you here today.  

From by the bay wishing you the sweetest Valentine’s Day and food memories!
blog choc truffle
Spicy Chocolate Truffles
Makes approximately 32 pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
zest of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon chili powder or chinese five spice or cinnamon – optional
On medium heat place in a sauce pan the cream, rind, cinnamon, honey and butter. Melt the butter and bring to a simmer. Strain the mixture and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let stand a minute and then whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth, with no air bubbles. Cover with cling wrap directly on top of the chocolate. Let set on the counter for at least 4 hours. Shape using a teaspoon the chocolate into small balls. Place on a baking sheet and put into the freezer for 15 minutes. Sift cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of the spice of your choice onto a plate. Roll the chocolate truffle in the cocoa powder until completely covered. Set on a plate and serve.

Green Spring Vegetable Salad

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Today Febuary 3rd  is National Wear Red Day.  “Go Red for Women” is in celebration of women bonding together to create awareness and fight heart disease. It’s a good time for each of us to reflect on how we might change our lives in order to lead happier, healthier lives. It doesn’t always have to be big changes, we can make several small changes to our lifsestyle that can result in being healthier. For example, I have decided to walk to work twice a week.  It may not seem like a lot but in my case that is 5.2 miles per week, 270 miles a year and 27000 calories a year.  Another small change you can make is increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. I do this and limit the amount of fats in my diet and focus on eating lean protein. I suggest cooking with olive oil which is a monosaturated fat which is the healthiest one to incorporate into your diet – besides the fact that it tastes better. So in honor of day I am sharing a few of my favorite heart healthy dishes!  Think about how you might lead a healthier life today!

From by the bay wishing you healthy food memories!

Green Spring Vegetable Salad
Serves 4
4 cups assorted blanched green vegetables ( fava beans, asparagus, scallions, peas)
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fine grey salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh mint chopped


Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix well, Serve at room temperature.

To blanch vegetables:

Fava beans – to pan of simmering water add shelled fava beans. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove and place into cold water. Drain beans and remove bean from waxy casing. Use for salad.
Fresh Spring Peas – to pan of simmering water add shelled peas. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove and place into cold water. Drain and use for salad.
Asparagus – snap off woody ends of asparagus. Cut into 2 inch pieces and to pan of simmering water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove and place into cold water. Drain and use for salad.
Scallions- cut off ends with roots and tops using just the white and light green part of the scallion. Cut this into 2 inch pieces. Add to pan of simmering water and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove and place into cold water. Drain and use for salad.

Tip: to make this process easier I use a strainer to remove the vegetables from the simmering water leaving the heat under the pan and keep reusing the hot water.

Creamy Cilantro Avocado Soup

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Creamy Cilantro Avocado Soup

Serves 6

4 Avocados

4 tablespoons scallions, chopped

4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon jalapeno, seeded and chopped

4 cups chicken broth

½ cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Cilantro to garnish


Halve avocado, remove pit and scoop out the flesh into a food processor using a spoon. Pulse until the avocado is chopped. Next add the scallions, cilantro, jalapeno, lime zest , lime juice and salt . Pulse again. Slowly, add the chicken broth, heavy cream and olive oil pulsing to combine. Remove from processor and place in bowl. Refrigerate the soup for at least two hours. Serve in glasses, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Orange Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I love to walk into my pantry and come out with an idea for cooking based on the ingredients sitting on my shelves. Some of my favorite ingredients are never out of stock – along with my staples, so it wasn’t too hard to walk into that pantry one afternoon and come out with the ingredients to make this twist on the chocolate chip cookie. I love dark chocolate so grabbed a bar off the shelf to cut up into small shards of richness. The dried cranberries will add a little sweet with a slightly tart flavor. I still have a few oranges left from the holidays and love mixing chocolate with orange rind. These were a big hit – you’ll love them! Try them this weekend.

From  by the bay wishing you the darkest chocolate chip cookies!

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Orange Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 Dozen cookies

1 cup all purpose flour, plus two tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat over to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl add the butter, sugars and vanilla. Use an electric mixer and beat ingredients until light and fluffy. Add the egg , orange rind and juice and beat in well. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture slowly and mix at a low speed. Next add the chopped chocolate and dried cranberries and combine. Drop in rounded teaspoons of dough onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, until slightly brown on bottom. Remove and cool on wire racks. Store in air tight containers.

Basic Guacamole

Wondering what to make for your Super Bowl Sunday crowd??  I’ve pulled together some of my favorite recipes for entertaining a crowd – start with guacomole, salsa and jalapeno hummus all served with corn chips. Next serve up some great Memphis style ribs baked in the oven along with this great cilantro coleslaw.  Finally, your winning touchdown will be these butterscotch cranberry and oatmeal cookies. Have fun!

From by the bay keeping score with some of the best food memories!
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Basic Guacamole
Serves 6

3 Haas avocados, ripe
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt

In a medium bowl add the lime juice and sea salt , let the salt dissolve. Cut and remove flesh from avocado and place into bowl with lime juice /salt along with scallions and mash with fork. Add ingredients listed below depending on the version you are making and mix well. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Make it Classic:
To the base recipe add 1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, chopped.

Make it Red:
To the base recipe add 1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, chopped and 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomato

Make it Greek:
Make the base recipe but replace the cilantro with chopped mint and add 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese.

Make it Blue:
Make the base recipe but instead of cilantro add 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese.


Winning Salsa

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Winning Salsa

Serves 6

1 28 ounce can whole fire roasted tomatoes ( if you can’t find fire roasted use canned whole plum tomatoes)

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper , seeded and chopped

1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

Place all the ingredients into food processor and process until pureed. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.


Lemon Cilantro Coleslaw

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Lemon Cilantro Coleslaw

Serves 6-8


1 head cabbage finely shredded

1 carrot finely shredded
 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fine sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup fresh cilantro and Italian parsley , finely chopped

2 large scallions finely chopped


In a large bowl place all ingredients and mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours. This can be served cold or at room temperature.

Easy Almond Croissants

Being in the fashion industry over all these years, I had the privilege to spent time in the greatest cities in the world – and the center of that fashion world is Paris. It is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary cities and of course for anyone who loves food- it’s perfection. I would love to wake up early in the morning and stroll the quiet streets and meander to one of the many exquisite patisseries – filled with all kinds of confections. One of my favorite breakfast treats would be a croissant along with my cafe au lait. So on a cold blustery morning here by the bay when I reminisce about the streets in Paris and the warm patisseries, I decided to create a little bit of Paris by the bay by making a quick and easy almond croissant. All it takes is a package of puff pastry, some frangipane – which is an easy to prepare smooth almond cream that fills the croissant with more richness and texture and few blanched almond slices. You can transform any ordinary morning into  a dreamy romantic one. The aroma alone will intoxicate you! 

From by the bay wishing you the most romantic food memories!
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Easy Almond Croissants
Makes 16 

1 package 17.3 ounces ready rolled butter puff pastry
1 recipe frangipane ( recipe follows)
1 egg
1 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons blanched sliced almonds 
confectioner’s sugar to top

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. You will have 2 sheets of puff pastry, take the first sheet and roll out. Divide into 4 squares. Cut each square on the diagonal and to make 8 triangle pieces.
Spread on teaspoon of the frangipane on each triangle. Then starting from the widest end of the triangle roll to the point of the triangle. You will have a long croissant , seal the dough and shape into a crescent and place on a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. In a small bowl add the egg and water and whisk. Brush each croissant with the egg wash and top with a few almond slices. Repeat with second sheet of puff pastry. Place croissants into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve. 


1/2 cup ground almond meal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons unsalted softened butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoons flour 

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

Roasted Poblano Cream Macaroni and Cheese

One of my “by the bay” family traditions is the birthday dinner night. I like to come up with a food theme and decor that suits the birthday “girl” or “boy” and run with it!  My dining room has been everything from a German beer hall to the top of the Eiffel Tower. For my sister Diane’s birthday last year, I decided to create a Mexican Cantina. Most of the menu was authentic Mexican dishes, but one of Diane’s favorite dishes is Macaroni and Cheese. I went online to see how people have tackled this dish in the past but I was put off by the taco inspiration for most of the recipes.  I was about to figure out another dish when I remembered having roasted poblano crema in a Mexican restaurant. I proceeded to create a roasted poblano cream by considering the bechamel sauce as the crema and infusing it with roasted poblano peppers as the base for the macaroni and cheese. The results were great and the cantina and party were a big success ending with an impromptu musical serenade, it doesn’t get better than that!

From by the bay wishing you tasty mac and cheese food memories!


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Roasted Poblano Cream Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 8

1 pound penne

2 poblano peppers

5 cups whole milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup flour

1 tablespoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ cup scallions, finely chopped 

5 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

½ cup grated parmesan cheese for topping

Cilantro leaves to garnish


Fill a large sauce pan with water and bring to a boil to be used to cook pasta. Preheat broiler , place whole poblano peppers on baking sheet about 4 inches below a hot broiler . Roast turning several times the pepper until they are softened and start to blacken in spots, approximately 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes in a covered bowl. Take a towel and wipe off the skin from the peppers. Remove the stem and seeds. Place peppers into food processor along with the milk and puree. Place milk and pepper mixture into a medium sauce pan and heat until it is about to boil. While the milk is heating, in another sauce pan , heat the butter until melted. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Cook the mixture for about  2-3 minutes until it becomes a golden color. Slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture whisking continuously. Bring to a boil and then cook for another 10 minutes continuing to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken. When the sauce is ready it should stick to the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt and nutmeg. Add the grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses to the sauce and stir until the cheese has melted. Place cheese sauce aside. Add penne  to the boiling water  and cook al dente according to package directions and strain through colander. Rinse with cool water. Add the cooked penne to the cheese sauce along with the scallions and mix well. Turn the pasta into a 3 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 45 minutes until the sauce starts  to bubble. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes and serve. Garnish with cilantro leaves.