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....

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup in a Snap

It seems like everyone has a touch of the sniffles this week, feeling somewhat under the weather. With a hectic schedule, who has time to be sick? And, worse, when busy, it's a rare person who wants to prepare a home-cooked meal when feeling run down.

This weekend, I found myself in just this same situation. With work demands, as well as a brief trip out of town, topped off with a touch of a cold, I knew that a batch of chicken noodle soup was in order, but wanted to make it quickly.

There's a secret to making the perfect batch of chicken noodle soup in a snap - a rotisserie chicken. Here's the recipe - enjoy!

Chicken Noodle in a Snap

1 rotisserie chicken
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large Spanish onions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small heart of celery, chopped
3/4 cup white wine (I tend to use what's open in the fridge)
2 quarts chicken broth
1 small bunch of fresh sage, stems removed and leaves minced
2 - 3 cups of egg noodles
Matt's Mix or Salt & Pepper to taste
Remove the skin from the rotisserie chicken, and discard the skin. Shred the chicken off the bones and set the bones in a large stock pot, and cover with the broth. Simmer the broth and bones while you prep all of your other vegetables (about 15 - 20 minutes).
**TIP - if you routinely buy a rotisserie chicken, save the carcass in a ziplock bag and keep it in the freezer, for additional flavor boosters as needed.
Using a strainer, pour the chicken broth into another bowl and set aside. Discard the bones. Using that same stock pot, add a small amount of canola oil or pure olive oil (cover the bottom of the pot) and start to saute the onions, stirring occasionally so they do not burn.

When the onions are nicely caramelized, take the white wine and pour it into the stock pot, scraping up the caramelized bits off the bottom of the pot, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the carrots and celery. Add the stock. Simmer until the carrots are tender.

Add the egg noodles and continue to simmer until the noodles are tender. Add the minced sage and season with Matt's Mix or salt & pepper to taste. Serve.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Raspberry Pecan Squares

This week, our recipe was a quick and easy fruit bar - perfect for weekend snacking or an impromptu dessert when paired with vanilla bean ice cream.

Raspberry Pecan Squares

3 3/4 c. All Purpose Flour
1.5 c. sugar
1.5 c. butter
1 each egg
1 each yolk
1.5 c. chopped pecans

1 jar all natural raspberry preserves
1 jar all natural peach preserves
powdered sugar for dusting

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, egg, pecans and sugar (use the paddle attachment). Cut in the butter and scrape the bowl as necessary. Mix until crumbly.

Reserve ¾ c. of the crumb mixture to use as the topping.

Press the remaining crumbs into the bottom of a greased 8X8 pan. Spread the jams over the top. Sprinkle with the crumbs. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Cool and cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Risotto to the Rescue

I like to entertain on the weekends, enjoying the company of family and friends in my home, but, like everyone else, often, I'm pressed for time. I want to serve a home-cooked meal, but don't want to spend a lot of time getting it from the kitchen to the table. For winter and spring months, one of my "go-to" dishes is risotto.

Easy to prepare and versatile, risotto is a perfect entree or side dish offering. Paired with chicken, fish, or seafood, it's a satisfying meal. Need a vegetarian option? No problem! Risotto can be served with asparagus, fresh peas, mushrooms and several other vegetables to round out the dish.

Don't forget to finish the risotto with a grating of cheese like Parmesan or Asiago. If you prefer a creamier texture, you can stir in some Mascarpone or Boursin. Enjoy!

Lemon Risotto

6 cup. chicken stock

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large shallots, chopped

2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice

1/4 cup dry white wine

2cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 teaspoons grated lemon peel


Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining butter. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, and lemon peel.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Menu

Happy Valentine's Day! Here are the recipes for the rest of the menu we've suggested for your special meal. Enjoy!

Italian Vinaigrette

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

4 garlic cloves

3 teaspoonsDijonmustard

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

2 tablespoons fresh basil

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Combine the vinegar, garlic, mustard, and oregano in the bowl of a food processor . Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream while the processor is running, until all the oil is incorporated. Season and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use or up to 1 week.

For the salad, wash and dry green leaf and red leaf lettuces. Tear into bite sized pieces. Garnish the salad with slices of thinly sliced red onion, roasted fennel (recipe follows), and halved grape tomatoes.

Roasted Fennel

2 large fennel bulbs
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan shavings


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the stems of the fennel and slice the bulb in half lengthwise. With the cut side down, slice the bulb vertically into 1/2-inch-thick slices, using a mandolin, cutting right through the core. Spread the fennel slices on a baking sheet, coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss with your hands.

Roast the fennel slices for about 1 hour, turning them once after 30 minutes, until the edges are crisp and brown. Remove from the oven and cover with Parmesan shavings. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.

Lemon Chicken with Garlic F

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

4 chicken cutlets, about 1/4-inch thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 tablespoons dry white wine

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, soaked in water 20 minutes, then drained, rinsed, and drained again

As needed grilled artichokes (available at the Olive Bar at Joe's Produce)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 box fettuccine pasta

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 Tb. butter, melted


Dredge chicken: Spread flour in a shallow dish; add 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and whisk to combine. Place chicken in seasoned flour, turning to coat thoroughly, then tap off excess.

Saute chicken: Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until butter starts to sizzle. Cook the chicken in batches, if necessary, to avoid crowding the pan (the cutlets should fit snugly in a single layer) until golden and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes for each side. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the cutlet. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Pour out any excess fat from the pan.

Meanwhile, melt some butter in a small sauce pan. Add the minced garlic and lightly "toast" it to bring out the aroma. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water to al dente. Drain and toss with the melted butter and garlic.

Deglaze pan and make sauce: Return pan to medium heat and add wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 30 seconds. (If the liquid is reducing too quickly -- before all the browned bits have been incorporated -- take the pan off the heat.) Remove pan from heat. Add lemon juice, capers, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter and swirl until melted and combined, then add parsley and season with salt as desired.

Serve: Immediately pour the sauce over the chicken, and serve with fettuccine that has been tossed with melted butter and toasted garlic.

Chef’s Candy

1 ¼ lb. semisweet chocolate, chopped fine

3 cups heavy cream

2 oz. butter

8 each egg yolks, at room temp.

1 ½ oz dark rum (use Meyers)

1 cup toasted hazelnuts


Line a loaf or pate/terrine mold with saran wrap. If you do not have a pate mold, simply use a loaf cake pan. Set aside.

Bring the cream, butter and rum to a boil. Pour over the chocolate and stir to combine. Carefully add in the egg yolks.

Fold in the nuts and pour into the mold. Freeze until set.

When set, unmold and slice.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Grilled Halloumi with Garlic & Lemon

For the first recipe on our Valentine's Day menu, I've selected a simple appetizer that everyone raves about! This recipe serves four, but, you might want to double-up since no one can resist taking seconds!

Grilled Halloumi with Lemon & Garlic

2 lemons
2 lbs. pound Halloumi cheese
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
½ cup tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill


Marinate the halloumi in the garlic, oil, dill, lemon, and sugar.

Heat an indoor grill (George Foreman, etc.) or panini machine and spray it with cooking spray (just enough to keep it from sticking). Add the cheese and grill until it’s golden brown.Serve with crusty bread or simply by itself.

Drizzle the remaining marinade over the top.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Dinner Menu

Valentine's Day gets a lot of undeserved "bad press" from guys (and maybe some gals) who like to say that it's just a "Hallmark" holiday. Many protest the celebration in anger, insisting that they don't need a special day to tell their special someone that they love them. People who find themselves single around Valentine's day might wish the holiday would just disappear, wrongly considering it a holiday for lovers only. While these reasons may resonate with some, it's safe to say that Valentine's Day is here to stay, and no amount of protesting or bad press is going to wipe it off the calendars.

Every year, my family gets together for dinner on Valentine's Day. It's a special time together, celebrating our love for one another and it's inclusive of everyone. Single and married siblings gather around the table. Grandma (if she's in town), is there too, and we're so grateful to have her with us.

This year, you may have already started planning your Valentine's dinner date with your sweetie, but why not have an impromptu celebration with family and friends to celebrate how these relationships enhance your life? In the next few blog posts, we'll post a recipe that you can serve as a course for your special celebration. Don't worry - there's not a lot of work to do - the recipes are straightforward and simple to prepare.

Here's what you can expect to see on the menu:

"Grilled" Haloumi with Lemon and Dill
Simple Green Salad with Roasted Fennel and Herb Vinaigrette
Lemon Chicken with Garlic & Herb Fetuccini
Chef's Candy (the original recipe from Cafe Bon Homme, Plymouth)

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