Roasted Garlic and Sweet Onion Jam

Savory jams are great as an appetizer, and adding a thick, rich layer of your favorite cream cheese turns an ordinary piece of toasted bread into a delectable bite.

I first made this jam for Thanksgiving, but everyone enjoyed it so much, I made it again to give as gifts to my friends at Christmas.  The sweet components of the roasted garlic, onions and brown sugar perfectly balance the acid from the vinegar and the heat in the chili flakes.

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Smoked Lobster Shot

Fresh lobster meat can get a little pricey. However, there are times when you just need to throw that budget out the window and allow yourself the indulgence (and the decadent feeling of naughtiness) that comes with eating it!

Imagine the look of surprise on your Christmas or New Year’s party guests faces this year when they see these luxuriant hors d-oeuvre/cocktails!  They’re the perfect combination of sweet, tender lobster, followed by the smooth, spicy, smoky sauce.   And any left-over sauce makes a fantastic bloody Mary!

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Steamed Flounder in Parchment with Vodka Martini Relish

To answer the obvious question, yes, I like to play with my food.  I especially enjoy putting my own twist on recipes like turning a dirty vodka martini into a vodka martini relish.  It has the wonderfully boozy, briny, olive flavors you expect, along with some added sweetness from the red onion and piquillo peppers.

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Curried Lentils with Roasted Beets, Chickpeas, and Fresh Spinach

The side dishes that show up on the holiday table have started to look the same every year. I’m all for tradition and love a large helping of creamy mashed potatoes, however, how many green bean casseroles do you need to eat before you decide it’s time to broaden your options?

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Vegetarian Meatballs with Fresh Herbed Tomato Sauce

It seems strange to call these meatballs, meatballs considering there isn’t any meat in them, however every other word I tried to come up with to describe them just didn’t sound right.  So we’re going with meatballs!  Whatever you want to call them, they were fantastic!  The creamy lentils were the perfect binder to hold the ingredients together, and the earthy, deep roasted flavor from the vegetables, paired with the bright acidity from the pesto and herbed spicy tomato sauce were a match made in vegetarian heaven.

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Pepper Shrimp with Pad Thai Salad

Shrimp is one of my favorite seafood proteins. It has a sweet, unique flavor, a gorgeous color when cooked, and is the most versatile seafood ingredient available.

For this recipe, I kept the flavors on the shrimp simple with a touch of salt, and garlic powder, plus a bit more black pepper to pull in the spicy flavors from the pad thai dressing. So what you taste is a perfect ratio of sweet, spicy, crunchy and salty.

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Tuscan Grilled Halibut with Arugula on Toasted Ciabatta

Sandwiches are insanely versatile and are a great option for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  For me, a sandwich is first and foremost about the bread, especially ciabatta.  It has a wonderfully soft chewy center and crunchy outer crust that can hold up to anything you serve it with.  The next qualifier would be the ingredients to put in between the bread, and they have to have lots of flavor and texture.  Let’s be honest and admit deli lunchmeat just doesn’t do it.

This hearty sandwich is an ideal choice for your next winery picnic.  Pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy the delicious flavors of the fresh, delicate, grilled fish, the deep richness of the sun-dried tomatoes, the briny capers, and the bright hits from the fresh basil, parsley, and arugula.

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Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry in Spicy Peanut Sauce over Glass Noodles

I love this recipe – in fact, I’ve made it three times since I first created it because my husband, daughter and I all decided it was our new favorite. The aromas from the spicy peanut sauce and the vibrant colors from the vegetables immediately tell your taste-buds to get ready for that first flavorful bite!

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Ginger Glazed Pork Ribs with Apples, Cabbage & Noodles

I consider myself very fortunate to have had a Hungarian grandfather and a German grandmother. Not because their genes contributed to my curvaceous European figure, but because of the wonderful recipes their families brought with them to this country.

And even though the sticky, sweet, falling apart tender pork ribs were a big success the night I made this meal, it was the apples, cabbage, and noodles that really hit home. The very first bite took me back in time to weekend family dinners, raucous conversation, and rich, flavorful food.

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