Blogs > Cooking from Scratch

Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Pear-fect" Pear Crumble

Fall is here and pears are prime for picking. There are several varieties of pears to enjoy, whether eating out-of-hand, or sauteed and served with a succulent pork tenderloin, or a comforting crumble with a scoop of ice cream.

This recipe combines what I like to call "flavor friends", making for a perfectly spiced dessert that you'll even be tempted to eat in the morning, or any other time of day! The pears used in this recipe are Bartlett pears. Choose a nice, ripe pear, but not over-ripe, as an over-ripe pear will fall apart while the crisp is baking.

Pear & Ginger Crumble


1/2 c. oat flour or whole wheat flour

1 1/3 c. old fashioned rolled oats

1 c. brown sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 c. chopped pecans

½ c. pumpkin seeds

½ c. canola oil


Combine all ingredients together with a fork until uniformly moistened


3# ripe pears, peeled. Cored, and cut into ¼ “ slices

1 Tb. fresh lemon juice

1 Tb. grated ginger (fresh)

Splash maple syrup

½ Tb. all purpose flour


Toss all ingredients together, season to taste

Coat a baking dish with cooking spray, add the pear mixture, then sprinkle with the topping. Bake until golden brown and pears are fork-tender, about 40 minutes.Serve with Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Need a Quick Dinner Solution Tonight? Hail Caesar!

Caesar salad is one of my favorite entrees to enjoy for dinner. I particularly like the bold flavors of a homemade dressing, the crunchiness of the croutons, and the crisp leaves of Romaine. Finished off with a grilled chicken breast, steak or shrimp, it's another great meal option when you're on the run or don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

The key to the perfect Caesar salad is the dressing. I've provided my standard recipe here, but feel free to add the garlic, anchovies, and lemon to suit your tastes. It is easiest to make the dressing in a food processor, so you don't have to whisk the mixture constantly. If you do not have a food processor, you can make the dressing, by hand, in a mixing bowl with a whisk. Be sure to add the oil LAST, and add it very carefully, so the mixture does not break.


Caesar Dressing

*add garlic and parmesan cheese to taste!

3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

11/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a large food processor, combine all ingredients EXCEPT:Oil

Pulse this mixture until it is thoroughly combined and anchovies are not visible. Slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture is homogeneous. Adjust seasonings to taste. Toss with romaine lettuce, croutons, and additional parmesan cheese. Top with chicken, steak, or shrimp for a complete entree.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grilled Pizza in Under 30 Minutes

Even though there's a chill in the air, there's still time to do dinner on the grill. Weeknight meals can be tricky, so pizza is often on the menu. Instead of "hot & now", you can make your own in about 30 minutes, depending on which toppings you choose.

Grilled pizza can be as simple as 'margarita' style, or a little more complex with spinach, chicken and bacon. The easiest way to get your pizza recipe going is to use a pre-made pizza dough (I prefer Tiseo's, a frozen dough, made in Michigan).

There are still plenty of incredible tomatoes to make your pizza exceptional. Whether you prefer roma, beefsteak, grape or heirloom, vine-ripened tomatoes are at the peak of freshness. Drizzled with a high-quality olive oil, and some fresh mozzarella, you'll have a colorful and satisfying dinner tonight.

If 'margarita' style isn't your taste, use your imagination to create the pizza you crave. A rotisserie chicken, your favorite barbecue sauce, and Monterrey Jack cheese is your custom BBQ chicken creation. Using some bacon, spinach (perhaps sauteed in the bacon fat), and Pepper Jack cheese is a delicious twist on spinach artichoke dip.

Once you've determined which types of toppings you want to use, it's time to get to work. Thawing the dough is the most important step, unless you're using refrigerated dough, of course. Clean, oil, and preheat your grill.

If you plan ahead, you can thaw the dough in the fridge, or zap it in the microwave in short bursts in case you're in a big hurry. Once the dough is thawed, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, as thin or as thick as you would like. Brush both sides of the crust with canola oil or pure olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, OR, use my favorite seasoning, Matt's Mix (a chef-inspired, all-purpose seasoning, found at Joe's Produce Gourmet Market).

Once the dough is rolled out, brushed with oil and seasoned, it's time to grill. Place the crust onto the hot grates and mark on each side, being careful not to burn it. If your crust is rolled thick, you will need to finish the pizza by baking it in the oven for a while to ensure it is cooked all the way through. If you've rolled the crust out to be thin, a quick minute or two on each side of the crust should do the trick.

Once the crust is nicely marked and crisp, you're ready to assemble your pizza. Finish the pizza by adding the toppings to the crust, and, finish in the oven (about 400 degrees) to melt the cheese.


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rotisserie to the Rescue

Summer vacation has drawn to a close and we're all back into the swing of things, resuming our routines and picking up where we left off before the lazy days of summer took us out of the kitchen and into the great outdoors. The busy schedule of back to school, back to work, back to reality, doesn't mean you can't enjoy a really great dinner tonight, in less than one hour.

I love the versatility of a rotisserie chicken. When in the mood for home cooking, and in need of a quick dinner option, the rotisserie chicken is my go-to meal solution. Delicious when paired with smashed red skins, and a vegetable, but it's also satisfying when pulled off the bone and used for tacos, quesadillas, bbq sandwiches, or a cobb salad.

One rotisserie bird will be enought to serve a family of 4 or great for those looking to serve just a couple, because the leftovers can be creatively used next day. The other thing I love about the rotisserie chicken is that the carcass can be used to fortify stock or chicken broth to make sauces, soups and gravies.

I hope this post will inspire you to pass on carry-out and stir up some creativity in your kitchen tonight - even on the busiest of evenings.