Pumpkin Mousse

It’s lighter than traditional pumpkin pie, so there is always room for it; it’s great for those of you that are lactose intolerant or gluten free; and most importantly, it only takes a few minutes to make.  Yes.  A part of your Thanksgiving preparations that can be made in less than five minutes.


You can see the recipe at my new blog here:  Craveable with Chef Jess


Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Bacon Cider Vinaigrette

During the holidays, a lot focus is put into dishes with a lot of cream, butter, and sugar.  Don’t get me wrong; I do love all of the above, but sometimes we need a little bit of acidity to cleanse our palates. Eating a salad before drinking a cup of enjoying that little bit of gravy helps us to keep our diets a little more balanced.  More vegetables on the table is always a good thing.  This Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Bacon Cider Vinaigrette can help. – See more at my new blog, Craveable.



Lemon Chili Pasta

lemonspaghettiI first posted this recipe a few years ago and decided to re-post it because it has such a special place in my stomach heart.  I love the ease of preparing it.  It can be done in 10 minutes, start to finish, including the time to cook the pasta. It’s so delicious that several friends will stop over just because they heard I was making it or some even go so far as to demand that I make it for them when they are in town!  This Lemon Chili Pasta, based off of a recipe from Fabio Viviani, is so fast and easy, it will quickly become a go-to dish in the kitchen and the main reason that you will want to always stock lemons and parsley in your fridge.  (If it’s not the reason, it’s sure an easy way to use them up before they go bad!)  You can make it any night of the week and it would pair well with any fish, chicken, or pork.  Top it off with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve with a fresh salad and/or a crisp glass of wine and you have the makings of a fabulous night in!

If you can’t take the heat, or are trying to make it a little more kid friendly add the chili flakes at the end.

Lemon Spaghetti with Chilies, Garlic and parsley

Serves 4


  • 1 lb Spaghetti
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, minced or grated
  • 2 Lemons, Zested or grated
  • 1 tsp of Red Chili flakes
  • 1 cup pasta water (reserved from cooking pasta)
  • 1/2 cup of parlsey


Cook the pasta according to package directions in well salted water until al dente and reserve 1 cup of pasta water when straining.

In large pan over medium heat,  cook the garlic, lemon, chili flakes, salt, and pepper in the oil and butter until the garlic starts to foam.  Whisk in the water, slowly and it will start to form a creamy looking sauce.  Add the pasta and parsley and toss until well coated.  Enjoy!

Gluten Free Parmesan Cauliflower Pizza Crust

DSC_0089 (2)Cauliflower pizza crust is another great idea.  I wish I could say it was my own, but there are many, many other bloggers that have shared their recipes before me.  Most of them leave me feeling like I was missing something because those crusts weren’t quite taking care of my pizza cravings.  While it was nice to still have the taste of the pizza, most of the time, they were meant to be eaten with a fork and were more like a layered cauliflower casserole instead of a pick-up-in-your-hands, chew-on-the-crust kind of a pizza.

In my Parmesan Cauliflower Pizza Crust, I accomplished everything I wanted to.  I made a pizza crust that, instead of tasting like steamed cauliflower, came out with a rich and nutty parmesan flavor, had a bit of a bite, and remained gluten-free.  The first goal was to remove as much moisture from the cauliflower as I could so it wouldn’t steam itself in baking process.  I read a few recipes that called for cooking the cauliflower in the microwave.  Since I knew that wouldn’t remove a lot of moisture on it’s own, I started the cauliflower cooking process in a sauté pan. I cooked it over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes and then finished it in the microwave for another 3 minutes.  Then, I chilled it for 30 minutes in my freezer. (Actually, out on my sub-zero deck at the time this recipe was made!  Ha!)  After the mixture was chilled, I removed the remaining moisture by squeezing it in my hands with paper towels.  It can take quite a few minutes and several paper towels, but trust me, the results are worth it.  After the cauliflower is mostly dry, I added 1 egg, skim mozzarella cheese, and finely grated parmesan to help fill in any open crevices.  Then I firmly pressed it into a well-greased 10 inch oven safe sauté pan.  Once again, I used paper towel to press the crust into the pan to remove any excess moisture then baked it at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes (or until it was a deep golden brown).  After that, I flipped the crust out of the pan onto a baking sheet, which made the well-sealed bottom my new top!  Afterwards, I added a few of my favorite toppings like sauce, cheese, mushrooms, spinach, cheese, a few pepperoni to keep in the pizza mood, and cheese.  Oh yeah….and cheese! (Ok..there is not really that much in the recipe, but it is just soooo good!)  After a quick 10 more minutes in the oven, you have a delicious, pick-up-with-your-hands, not-missing-a-thing piece of pizza!

Parmesan Cauliflower Pizza Crust

  •  1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
  • 2 cloves of garlic, fresh minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup shredded skim mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese


Add cauliflower to your food processor and pulse until a rice-like texture is reached.  In a 10 inch saute pan, add olive oil, riced cauliflower, garlic, and Italian seasoning.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until all of the cauliflower is nearly translucent.  Remove mixture from the pan and place in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave for 3 minutes.  Remove and place in freezer to chill for 30 minutes or until completely cooled.  Remove the bowl from the freezer and squeeze out the remaining moisture using several paper towels.  Add in the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly combined.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 10 inch oven safe saute pan.  Add the cauliflower mixture and press firmly with fingertips and paper towels to create a well packed crust.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust appears to be a deep golden brown color.  Remove from the oven and flip onto a cookie sheet.  Top with desired pizza toppings and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and toppings are cooked through.

Caprese Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

Balsamic Chicken SandwichWhen I am dining out, there is no doubt that my attention immediately goes to anything on a menu with the word “caprese” in it.  There is something about the flavor combination of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil that makes me feel like I could eat it morning, noon, and night. Naturally, I often try to work those flavors into my dinners at home.

Recently, I decided to make Grilled Chicken Caprese Sandwiches.  They are a combination of the classic tomato salad and an ultimate grilled cheese.  Let me tell you, they turned out to be everything my tastebuds had hoped for!

To make the tasty sandwiches, the process actually begins the day before by marinating the chicken in balsamic vinaigrette overnight.  Don’t worry, I didn’t do much.  Some nights I have enough to worry about getting one dinner on the table, let alone planning ahead for the next day!  I just placed the raw chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag with 2 cups of store bought light balsamic vinaigrette, sealed it up, gave it a quick shake, and placed it on the bottom shelf of my fridge.  (Never place thawing meats on the top shelf in case they drip.)  The next day, the flavorful chicken hit the grill, and the tangy balsamic marinade caramelized on the outside of the juicy chicken breasts.  The chicken wasn’t the only part of this sandwich that made an appearance outside!  The French bread also got a toasty crust by rubbing it with chili oil and grilling it cut side down for 3-4 minutes.  Because the charcoal flavor was now in the bread and the chicken, it made the sandwich even more mouth watering.

Once the grilling was done, the work moved back inside.  I placed the chicken breast on the bottom slice of the french bread that had been cut in half lengthwise and topped  with fresh, sliced, juicy tomatoes and a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese.  Then they went onto a baking sheet under the broiler of the oven until the cheese started to melt and turn golden brown.  Then the bottom halves of the sandwiches were topped with fresh chopped basil and balsamic glaze.


Caprese Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

  • 4 – 4 to 6 ounce chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
  • 2 cups light balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 – 12 to 16 inch loaf of french bread, halved lengthwise.
  • ¼ cup chili oil – or plain olive oil with crushed pepper flakes added
  • 4 slices fresh tomato
  • 8 small slices fresh mozzarella cheese (about ¼ inch thick)
  • ¼ cup balsamic glaze
  • ½ cup fresh chopped basil



Day before:  Place the chicken breast and balsamic vinaigrette dressing in a resealable plastic bag.  Seal and shake gently to coat.  Place bag on bottom shelf of refrigerator overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours.

Day of:  Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Remove the chicken breast from the marinade and place on the grill.  Cook for 4-5 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through and the internal temperature is 165 degrees.  Remove from the grill and cover with foil.  Set aside.  Discard any leftover marinade.

Brush the bread with chili oil.  place on the grill, cut side down for about 4 minutes or until marked from the grill and toasted to a golden brown.  Turn off grill.

Preheat oven broiler to high.  Cut the bread into 3 to 4 inch sections.  Place 1 chicken breast on each bottom half of the bread.  Top each breast with 1 tomato slice and 2 pieces of mozzarella cheese.  Place under the broiler for 5 minutes or until cheese is , melted, a light shade of golden brown, and bubbly.  Remove from the oven.  Drizzle each sandwich 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze.  (add more if you like!)  Top with fresh chopped basil and top half of the bun.  Enjoy!

On Balsamic Glaze:

A balsamic glaze can be picked up at the store if you are looking to save a few minutes of your day, or if you use it a lot, like I do, it might be worth it to make your own.  To make your own balsamic glaze, you will need 2 cups of a high quality, well-aged balsamic vinegar.  In a small pan over medium heat, cook until it reduces by two-thirds.  You should have about ? cup of liquid.  The length of time for the vinegar to reduce down will vary as will the amount of the finished product.

The key to knowing when you have reached the “glaze” stage is paying close attention to the bubbles as they boil.  When they start to look “thick”, dip a teaspoon in and place a small amount of the reduction onto a plate.  As the mixture hits the plate, it should cool enough for you to see if the thickness is more sauce-like or still the consistency of vinegar.  At this stage, you should also be careful to avoid over reducing it, as that can sometimes cause your glaze to have a slightly burnt taste, and you certainly don’t want that!  Once you have found your perfect consistency, remove it from the heat, and store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week.  If you are looking for something to bring that party host who has everything or can be tricky to buy for, try packaging your delicious glaze in a mason jar with a cute label or bow!  Who doesn’t love tasty homemade gifts?


Balsamic Glaze

2 cups balsamic vinegar, high quality, aged


In a small pan over medium heat, bring vinegar to a boil.  Reduce heat slightly so that vinegar is simmering.  Let simmer until reduced by half and start watching closer.  When amount it almost ? cup and bubbles begin to look “thick”, test with a spoon and a slightly chilled plate to see if it is the same consistency as a thin gravy.  Remove from the heat and place in a sealable container, preferably glass.  Keeps for 1 week.

Hawaiian Banana Pancakes

Banana Macadamia Nut PancakesThis morning we were celebrating finally not having a “plan” for the weekend.  No sporting events or traveling, just kids being kids, and my house is finally going to get cleaned.  Well….maybe.  Since we don’t have a plan, and I haven’t started doing it yet, I might just call doing the dishes good enough!  The kids are outside playing, the dog and cat are basking in the sun, and I am sitting at my kitchen table quietly enjoying a cup of coffee in silence.  Our nothing to do weekend started out with a breakfast dish inspired by a show my oldest stepson and I were watching: Mystery Diners.  We were watching an episode before bed last night that featured a Hawaiian restaurant that served pancakes topped with bananas and macadamia nuts.  He asked me if I thought that I could make it, so I said, sure.  So this morning I had a special surprise!  Hawaiian Banana Pancakes.

To make the pancakes, we just used our favorite pancake mix, and the rest is all in the delicious, rum caramel banana topping!  The topping is made the same way as bananas foster – a little bit of flambe action to start the day!  If you really want to impress the kids, or yourself, while your rum is flaming, sprinkle a little extra cinnamon over the top.  It will create a “sparkle” that everyone will love to see!  Top your pancakes with a spoonful of caramel rum banana sauce over your pancakes and sprinkle them with chopped macadamia nuts and shredded coconut.  Since these are on the sweet side, be sure to serve some crispy bacon or savory breakfast sausage on the side and enjoy the morning!

Hawaiian Banana Pancakes (per serving)

2 prepared pancakes

1/4 cup caramel rum banana sauce (extra syrup if desired)

1.5 tablespoons shredded coconut

2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts

Caramel Rum Banana Sauce

  • 3 whole bananas, ripened with a few brown specks
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, 1 stick
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup dark rum


Peel and slice each banana into 10-12 slices.  Set aside.

Place the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is bubbly and slightly thickened.  Add the bananas and keep them in a single layer.  Cook for 1 minute while gently spooning the syrup over top of the bananas.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the rum.  Let sit for 15 seconds so that it warms the alcohol.  Tilt the pan slightly to bring all of the rum to one side.  Using a lit, long handled match or grill lighter, lower the flame to the rum and gently set the pan down until the flames burn off, about 1 minute.  Arrange bananas over bowls of vanilla ice cream.  Spoon the warm, caramel-like sauce over the top and enjoy!

Beer and Bacon Mussels

beer and bacon musselsThis just might be my new favorite way to eat mussels.  Sure, I love all sorts of them from the traditional shallot and white wine based sauces to the more indulgent coconut curry, but there is just something so perfect about this dish that has me excited to get home from work tonight and get the kids to bed so that I can make a pot of these for a “date night” meal on the couch!  To make these mussels really quick and easy to do on a moments notice I used frozen, pre-cleaned ones that can be found in your grocers frozen seafood section.  I will admit, the first time that I had ordered mussels from the meat counter and found out that they didn’t come in, I was more than a little disappointed  I had my heart set on them, but living in North Dakota, it’s not always a guarantee to   get them in.  They convinced me to try frozen ones and I did.  I had promised several people mussels that night and figured it was worth a shot.  They turned out delicious and all I had to do was make the broth, open the bag of mussels, pour them in the pot, and close the lid for 5-7 minutes or until the tasty little crustaceans have opened their shells.  Serve them with a nice crusty loaf of bread for mopping up all of the delicious broth and you have a lovely, 10 minute meal!


Beer and Bacon Mussels

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup finely diced yellow onion (about 1/8 inch)
  • 3 cloves garlic, fresh, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flake
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled (can use pre-made packaged kind as long as it is real bacon)
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 – 12 ounce light colored beer (you can use your favorite, this is just what I personally tested and know tastes great!)
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onion tops
  • 1/4 cup chopped parley
  • 1-2 pounds mussels, fresh or frozen,cleaned


In heavy bottom sauce pan, melt butter over medium low heat.  Add onion, garlic,chili flake, salt and pepper.  Stirring occasionally, cook until onions are soft and translucent.  Turn heat to high and add bacon crumbles and whole grain mustard.  Stir and heat until bacon is fragrant. Add beer and bring to a boil. Let boil for 2-3 minutes.  Add mussels, give a quick stir, reduce the heat to medium/low and cover with lid.  Let mussels steam for 5-7 minutes or until they are all open. Remove from the heat and stir in the green onion and parsley.  Serve in pot or large bowl with sliced of crusty bread and enjoy!






German Pancakes

IMG_20150322_090218It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and what better way to spend it than with special breakfast.  My husband was off to watch his oldest son play hockey bright and early this morning and I had every intention of getting out of bed and making something amazing.  But……my youngest son woke up and wanted some snuggles, so did the dog, and the cat….plus….the dark roast coffee and “Peter Rabbit” cartoons were just too good to pass up.  Because I was now short on time for my breakfast, I remembered an oldie but goodie recipe for German Pancakes.  This quick and easy breakfast is whipped together in minutes and bakes in the oven in less than 15 minutes.  Top it with your favorite fresh fruit or fruit pie filling and, of course, powdered sugar and you have an impressive, light and delicious breakfast ready in no time!

German Pancakes

  • 3/4 cup flour, sifted or stirred with a  whisk to break up the lumps
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2/3 cup milk – the higher the fat the better (of course…haha)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon iodized salt


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whip the eggs until they are a pale, yellow mixture.  Whisk in butter, milk, sugar, and salt.  Whisk in the flour just until combined. Do not over mix.  Preheat an 11 inch oven safe skillet on the stove.  Spray with pan spray and pour batter into the pan.  Bake in the oven for 12-18 minutes or just until the edges are golden and the middle has puffed slightly.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with your favorite fruit.


Beef and Guinness Pot Pie

beef pot pieBeef & Guinness Pot Pie, might just be a little “pot o’ gold”.  There is something that is so comforting about a fresh pot pie right out of the oven.  In this particular recipe, the deliciously dark undertones of the Guinness, give the sauce a smooth, rich taste and makes it perfect for dipping the flaky, buttery pie crust.  Tender vegetables and melt in your mouth beef bring all of the comforts of a “made by mom” pot roast dinner within one amazing little dish.  The low and slow cooking process used for the filling allows for the flavor of the Guinness to make its way into every tender little vegetable and piece of beef and allows for the sweetness of the carrots and molasses to reduce any bitterness from the brew.  These pot pies can be baked right away, or if you are a planner for busy weeknights, they can be made ahead and frozen for future use.   Just add 20 minutes onto the bake time and tent foil over the top of the pie crust for the first 30 minutes of baking.  It’s so easy, and much more appealing to come home to at the end of a busy work day than any pre-made frozen microwaveable meal!

Beef & Guinness Pot Pie

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1.5 lb beet stew meat
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms, I used crimini
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, dried
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard, or country style
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1-12 ounce can of Guinness
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (plus one tbsp water to make a slurry when ready)
  • 2 pre-made, ready to roll pie crust dough sheets
  • egg wash (1 egg, 2 tbsp water whisked together)


Place meat, flour, and first amounts of kosher salt and pepper in a resealable plastic bag.  Shake until all evenly coated.

In large, heavy bottom sauce pan, heat the first amount of olive oil until shimmering over high heat.  Add meat and brown on all sides.  Don’t over crowd the pan, cook in batches if necessary.  Do not cook the meat through all the way, just until golden brown.  Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.  Add second amount of olive oil, garlic, and vegetables.  Stir and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent and vegetables are tender.  Add caraway seed, rosemary and the second amount of salt and pepper.  Add the mustard and molasses and stir until well coated.  Add the Guinness to the pan and be sure to scrape all of the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.  Add the cornstarch slurry and stir until mixture begins to thicken.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While mixture is simmering, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Roll dough sheets until 1/8 inch thick and lightly trace the outline of your ramekins or baking containers.  Cut the dough, leaving enough for a 1 inch overhang on the edges.  Scoop 1 cup of beef mixture into ramekins.  Top each one with pie crust and cut a slits to vent.  Using a pastry brush (or a paper towel when in a pinch), brush each pie crust with egg wash.  Place the ramekins on a baking sheet to catch any spills.  Bake 45 minutes or until crust is light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Serves 4.

Panko Parmesan Green Beans

Panko Green BeansI do love green bean casserole, but I always feel a little guilty after eating it.  Now please understand that I am not claiming my version to be “light,” but it’s at least a little lighter and brighter in flavor and not swimming in sodium-filled condensed soup.  (The holiday hams will have enough of that.)  A bonus to this recipe is that the ingredients can all be mixed inside the casserole dish, and you can save time by baking it at the same time as the ham.  Panko Parmesan Green Beans are made by tossing fresh beans with olive oil, fresh minced garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Then they are sprinkled with Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs and shredded parmesan cheese then baked for 30 minutes.  They were also a big hit with the boys.  I described them as green beans sprinkled with cheesy garlic bread…that was all it took!  They quickly disappeared.  I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with that description, which is sure to even convince picky adults to try it!

Panko Parmesan Green Beans

  • 4 cups (estimated) of fresh cut green beans
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh garlic paste.  (found in the fresh herb section of the grocery store in a tube) or 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced fine
  • 1/2 cup Italian Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese


In a 9×9 casserole dish, combine the beans, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Toss until coated evenly.  Sprinkle the mixtures with panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  Toss to coat the beans again and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.