Challenge the Chef Recipe

Rustic Italian Comfort Food by Chef Martinez of Cibreo Italian Kitchen

Roasted andouille, white bean salad, butternut purée, spiked cranberry maple syrup 1 lb saucisson andouille 2 cups butternut 2 cups water 1 can white chili beans 1/2 cup shaved celery 1/4 cup celery

leaves 2 tsp cinnamon 2 tsp ancho chile powder 1/2 cup maple syrup 1/2 cup dried cranberry.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees:  Roast andouille in oven for ten minutes or until heated through….or to desired char level.

For the purée: In a small saucepan, bring butternut squash and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce to low and simmer for 16-18 minutes or until squash is soft. Strain, reserving cooking liquid. Add squash, cinnamon, 1/2 cup cooking liquid, 1 /2 tsp. salt to vitamix or blender. Purée until smooth adding more liquid if necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

For the white bean salad: Open 1 can of white chili beans and drain with a colander reserving liquid. Allow beans to dry slightly. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When pan is hot (but not smoking), add 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil and white chili beans. Toss well and season with salt and pepper. Continue to heat beans through over medium heat. Add shaved celery and toss well. Finish with 3 TBSP bean liquid.

For spiked cranberry maple syrup: In a small saucepan, simmer maple, cranberry, and ancho over low heat for ten minutes. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper. Roast andouille in oven for ten minutes or until heated through….or to desired char level.

To plate: Spoon the butternut squash purée onto the plate. Arrange white bean and celery salad next to purée. Garnish salad with celery leaves. Slice andouille and lay next to salad. Drizzle spiked cranberry maple syrup around and over sausage.  Enjoy!

The Great Breakfast Debate: Waffles versus Pancakes

Food Talks Blog | Sponsored by The Women's JournalI am a waffle girl all the way. Shoe WafflesI would buy these shoes if I could find them.  Waffles are a world-wide taste sensation so much so they warrant two days on the calendar to celebrate their versatility.  

International Waffle Day began in Sweden as Vaffeldagen on March 25th. This holiday coincides with the Feast of the Annunciation.  This day was also considered the start of Spring in Sweden and Europe.  It became a tradition for Swedish families to celebrate the two events by making waffles on this day.   National Waffle Day celebrates the patent of the waffle iron by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York on August 24th.   The Waffle kitchen tool originated in the 1300’s in Greece.  Greeks cooked flat cakes between two metal pans.  At the time they topped it with cheeses and herbs.  Syrup wasn’t around in the 1300’s.

I recently bought the waffle plates for the Cusinart Griddler. I’m having fun using my waffler to make panini’s, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, and hash browns-tater tots but most of all waffles. The possibilities are endless; fried chicken on waffles smothered in gravy or hot sauce or stacked and drenched in syrup, butter and blueberry compote. Waffles can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or dessert.  Below is one of my favorite waffle recipes.  Prep time is a little longer due to beating the egg whites but well worth the effort.

Waffle Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

4 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. of salt

2 tsp. of sugar

1 stick of butter melted

2 eggs brought to room temperature

1 ¾ cups of milk room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

Directions: Pre-heat waffle iron.  In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients.  Separate the eggs adding the yolks to the dry ingredient mixture.  Place the egg whites in a small mixing bowl.  Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside.  Add the milk and butter to the dry ingredient mixture and blend.  Fold the egg whites into the mixture until blended.  Spoon waffle mixture onto a hot waffle iron.  Enjoy!

Let me know your preference pancakes or waffles.


How do you know you’re Irish?

Food Talks Blog | Sponsored by The Women's Journal

How do you know you’re Irish?

. . .During your youth much of your food was boiled in like potatoes

. . .Your mother’s maiden name was Marshall

. . .Her grandfather’s name was Meyers

. . .By age five you could repeat the history of the Irish Potato Famine

And your first grandchild was born on St. Patrick’s Day and she will be fourteen on Tuesday. 

Many of dishes prepared by my grandmother featured potatoes; Shepard’s Pie, Colcannon, Boxty and Donegal Pie all made with mashed potatoes.

The dish that has stood the test of time and tradition in our family is the Donegal Pie.  At Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other family celebration my Donegal Pie is on the must have list.


Donegal Pie I use to make Donegal Pie (center picture) from scratch; pie dough made with lard, homemade mashed potatoes and diced fried bacon.  Nothing low cal about my Nana’s Donegal Pie.

 Ingredients: two pie crusts, 24 oz. of mashed potatoes, 3-4 hard-boiled eggs, 3/4 lb. of bacon, one stick of butter.

Instructions:  Now with all the conveniences of store bought pie crusts, mashed potatoes and cooked ready to use bacon the making of a Donegal Pie is easy! Truly, it’s so easy.  Line a 9” pie pan with  pie crust, a layer of mashed potatoes.(your favorite store bought mashed potatoes or leftover work just fine), 3-4 grated hard-boiled eggs, a layer of diced cooked bacon(so you can’t see the egg or potatoes.  Melt a stick of butter and pour over the ingredients.  Top with a second pie crust and crimp the edges.  Four or five fork pricks on top.  

Use a cream or egg wash if you feel so inclined. Bake at around 350 degrees until golden brown for around 45 minutes. I know you will want to cut into the pie immediately but it needs to rest for 5-8 minutes.  

Potato history: Potatoes are one the world’s most popular foods. Agriculturists in 17th century Europe found potatoes were easier to grow and sustain than many other crops and, when coupled with their nutritional value, potatoes gained popularity, particularly among the working class in Ireland.

Potatoes may be indelibly linked to Irish culture because of the widespread potato famine in the 19th Century that forced many people to emigrate from Ireland. But there is more to the modest potato than many people may know.

Potatoes are an important addition to any diet, as they are a starchy root food that contains plenty of carbohydrates, which makes them closer to grains than other vegetables. Potatoes were first cultivated by the Incas in Peru around 8,000 B.C. The word “potato” comes from the Spanish patata. When Spanish conquistadors traveled to Peru, they discovered potatoes and brought them back to Europe.

Potatoes did not reach North America until 1621, when the governor of Bermuda included potatoes in a care package sent to Governor Wyatt of Virginia in Jamestown. By the 1700s, permanent potato patches had been established.

Miscellaneous facts about potatoes: While there are thousands of varieties of potatoes, most of them are not commercially produced. Potatoes have been served hot, cold, sliced, pickled, and even as a dessert. Benjamin Franklin once attended a banquet where the food was nothing but potatoes served in 20 different ways.

Potato chips and French fries are favorite snack foods. Thomas Jefferson is credited for introducing Americans to French fries. The popularity of fries has skyrocketed, and millions are consumed each and every year.

Some believe that potatoes are an aphrodisiac, while others feel they have medicinal properties, including curing warts. The Incas used to place slices of potatoes on broken bones to promote healing. Some people believe you can ease a sore throat and alleviate aches and pains with potatoes.

Potatoes have been enjoyed for thousands of years and provide a wealth of nutrition. While potatoes may be most associated with the Irish, these beloved starchy plants are truly a worldwide favorite whether mashed, fried, or baked.

Making room for my grandsons??

Caught with my hand in the cookie jar!

Some grandmas have limousines

and the biggest homes you have seen,

but my grandma is best by far, for she

has got a cookie jar!                              

I have always wanted to be a grandmother. I dreamed about it, I fantasized about it, I felt it.  But when I dreamed, it was in pink in visions of tea parties and Tinkerbell.  For nearly four years, my life had been consumed with Cinderella, Dora the Explorer, Princess stories, American Girl dolls, ballet and play kitchens.  Girl Things! Sugar & spice and everything nice.

I love my grandsons but I had been at a loss as to how I would relate to them.  I don’t like sports, dirt and trucks.  And I especially don’t like football.  For months I had let the question of ‘What would we have in common?’ interfere with getting to know my grandsons.  Fortunately, for me my grandsons have forgiven me for my lapse of judgment.  How do I know?  Because we have become enchanted with one another. The question still exists but I have time to find the answers.   Their papa has told me the way to a man’s heart or a little boy’s is a cookie jar.  Preferably with chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.


1 1/2 cups of packed brown sugar

1 cup of butter softened

1 tsp. of vanilla

1 egg

2 cups of quick cooking oats

1 tsp. of baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup of chopped nuts

Directions: heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, stir brown sugar and butter until blended.  Stir in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy.  Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Use a ice cream scoop and drop by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Is Chicken Soup the Ultimate Cold Medicine?

Chicken & Rice Soup

Chicken & Rice Soup

Is chicken soup the ultimate cold medicine?

Since the beginning of winter not a day has gone by without hearing someone has a cold including my loved ones.  Sneezing, sniffles and coughing are the norm this winter.  I have searched for the perfect cold remedy and  I believe it is chicken soup at least that is what I remember my Nana saying.

There are many treatments for the common cold. Perhaps no solution is more utilized than a hot bowl of chicken soup. People have chased away chills and sniffles with rich broth and savory vegetables for centuries. But is chicken soup really the miracle medicine upon which so many rely?  Chicken soup has long been touted for its ability to treat a cold. As far back as the 12th century, Jewish philosopher and physician Maimonides recommended it for colds. Although it would seem that chicken soupbeing good for colds is simply an old wives’ tale, there is really something substantial to the claims.

Any hot liquid or beverage can soothe throats that are sore from coughing or a postnasal drip from colds. Liquids in any form can help prevent dehydration and slow down runny noses, which exacerbate congestion and sinus pain. In 1978, researchers published a study in the journal Chest stated that sipping chicken soup or even just hot water could help clear clogged nasal passages.

Another benefit to chicken soup is its nutritional value. Most recipes for chicken soup include many different vegetables — from carrots to celery to leeks to even leafy greens, like spinach. The inclusion of the vegetables helps increase the nutritional value of the soup, particularly the antioxidants in the meal. Antioxidants, such as vitamins and minerals in produce, can help improve the immune system response of the body. According to WebMD, adding fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet will improve your health. Some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables — especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. Therefore, be sure to add these colors to your cold-fighting soup.

Additional studies have shown that chicken soup is a great cold reliever. In 2000, researchers at the University of Nebraska exposed neutrophils, white blood cells that fight infections, but also may cause inflammation, to diluted chicken broth. These cells slowed their movement, which would help reduce some symptoms of colds. Although a family recipe was used for the study, other soups were tested, and most store-purchased chicken soups worked the same way.

The majority of the symptoms from colds are caused not by the cold virus itself, but by the body’s response and fight against the invading virus. Many of these effects, like clogged noses and headaches, are some sort of inflammation. Therefore any food that can reduce inflammation may have cold-fighting benefits as well.

Although chicken soup may not eliminate all cold symptoms, it has enough beneficial properties to alleviate many complaints from colds. My Nana was right, after all: Chicken soup is good for the cold, not just the soul.

Easy Chicken and Rice Soup from Two Peas & Their


  1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  1 medium onion, chopped

  2 garlic cloves, minced

  2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices

  2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

  4 fresh thyme sprigs

  1 bay leaf

  2 quarts chicken stock or broth (we use low sodium)

  1 cup of water

  1 cup long grain white rice

  1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts

  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

directions: Place a soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken broth and water- bring the liquid to a boil. Add in the rice and chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low until the rice is tender-about 30 minutes. Serve hot.



Low Country Boil

Low Country Boil

Low Country Boil

If you have ever been to the coastal region of Georgia or South Carolina known as Low Country you have probably tried ‘Frogmore Stew.’  The ingredients vary but often include shrimp, smoked sausage, corn, red potatoes and crab legs. I first tasted a ‘Low Country Boil’ (aka Frogmore Stew) in a small town named Fair Play in South Carolina.  A successful high school football coach built the T60 Grille on the shores of Lake Hartwell.  The T60 Grill so named due its buoy number on the lake was accessible by land or water.  The Coach created a special seasoning blend of twenty quality ingredients and all flavors associated with the ‘Low Country.’   The restaurant soon became known as Coach’s and his Low Country Boil brought people from all over this coastal region to the shores of Lake Hartwell.

Coach’s seasoning can be purchased at  Unfortunately, Coach’s restaurant on the shores of Lake Hartwell is now closed.

The Low Country Boil has become a family favorite for all summer celebrations or when you just want a taste of the low country.  The only change I have made to the Boil is make sure we have a loaf of french bread on the table to soak up the broth. My oldest granddaughter now a resident of Florida compares all crab and shrimp dishes to my mine asking “Will it taste like Nana’s?”   It will if you follow the directions below.


  • 6oz of Coach’s seasoning to six quarts of water
  • 2 small red potatoes per person
  • 2 lbs. of smoked sausage cut into 2 in. pieces
  • 4 ears of corn broke in two
  • 2 lbs. of shrimp unpeeled(deveined though)
  • 4 lbs. of crab legs
  • 4 oz of butter
  • half of a lemon

Directions: Fill a large pot with enough water to cover all of the ingredients.  Add the seasoning and bring to a boil.  Add the butter and squeeze the lemon into the water and throw in the lemon.  When the water boils add the potatoes and cook till just short of tender about 15 minutes.  Add the corn and sausage and boil another 8 minutes.  Add the crab legs and boil about five minutes.  Add the crab legs and boil until the shrimp turn pink.  Drain keeping just enough of the broth to dip your bread into.  If you want to eat the Boil just as you would in the South;  line your table with a layer of newspapers and cover it with brown craft paper, have plenty of paper towels to wipe your fingers and a bowl for the shells.  Serves six.




Chicago Meets Cleveland in Michigan

The staff of The Cleveland and The Medina County Women’s Journal recently
enjoyed a few days out of the office at a beautiful Michigan bed and breakfast,
called the Chicago Pike Inn We had our meetings in the comfortable parlor;  wonderful fresh coffee in the mornings  and homemade meals with good wine as well as good conversation out on the front porch!–but this trip was more than just Journal gals hanging out.
We had the opportunity to meet with the amazing staff of the popular Chicago publication, The Suburban Woman.   We shared stories, ideas and brainstormed ways to improve our magazines and our awareness in the community.  We’ll keep you posted about the positive additions we’ll be making at the magazine, including some fabulous and fun networking E-Series events we’ll be planning in the future. But, for now, back to the food!
Nancy Krajny owns the B&B, which dates back to 1903. And let me tell you… Nancy
Can  Cook.  Lucky for us (and you) she shared her recipes. Here’s a little taste of what we tasted while we were
Chicken Pecan Pasta Salad



1/2 c mayo
1/4 c raspberry vinaigrette
4 skinless chicken breasts
8 oz pasta of choice
1 c cantaloupe balls or choice of fruit
green onions, celery, salt, pepper to taste
1/2 c chopped pecans
Cook the chicken breasts for about 45 minutes and cook the pasta of your
choice according to the directions.  Be sure not to overcook.  Rinse
the pasta in cold water when it’s complete.  Add the diced chicken
breasts, fruit, green onions, celery, salt, pepper and pecans. Mix the mayo and
raspberry vinaigrette, then add it to the pasta mixture. Toss and refrigerate
for two hours before serving.
French Toast Strata
1 loaf French bread
1 8-oz pkg cram cheese, cubed
8 eggs
2 1/2 c milk
6 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 c maple syrup
Cut French bread into cubes. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. To assemble,
in the prepared baking dish, place half of the bread cubes. Top with cream
cheese cubes and then with remaining bread cubes. In a blender container or
mixing bowl with a rotary beater, mix together eggs, milk, melted butter and
maple syrup until well combined. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread
cubes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours. Uncover and bake
in 325 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center appears set and the
edges are lightly golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8
Chicken Diane
2 onions
1 pkg mushrooms
8 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp chives
2 Tbsp parsley
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c brandy
2 Tbsp Dijon
Slightly pound the chicken breast with a mallet. Mix together the salt,
pepper, paprika, chives and parsley, and sprinkle it over the chicken. Heat one
tablespoon of oil and butter in a large skillet, and cook the chicken over high
heat. Transfer to a warm platter. Saute the onion and mushrooms in that same
pan, add the remaining ingredients and cook until hot. Pour over chicken and
Aloha Bread



1/3 c butter, softened
2/3 c sugar
2 eggs
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp lemon juice
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c mashed bananas
1/2 c crushed pineapple with juice
1 c toasted coconut
1 c chopped macadamia nuts
Cream the butter and sugar, and beat in eggs one at a time. Add milk and
lemon juice. Sift the flour with baking powder, soda and salt, then add to the
creamed mixture with bananas and pineapple. Fold in coconut and nuts. Pour into
2 small loaf pans or 1 large pan.