Coconut Maadamia Girl Scout Samaos Cheesecake

Coconut Macadamia Girl Scout Samoas Cheesecake

Candied Macadamia Toppng

Girl Scout Samoas

The other day I was sitting with a friend during her own food photo shoot for a international critically acclaimed newspaper, and she  reminisced about the first food she tasted of mine over a decade ago. It was cheesecake which she loved. It got me to thinking I haven’t made one in a while. While I love to bake , I’m not a frantic baker as Certain Someone and I prefer the savory side . But every now and then I knock a dessert out of the park he loves, like my trifles or puddings. It’s no wonder he enjoyed this creation too. If you have some boxes of Girl Scout Samoas, obligatorily  procured a few month ago from co-workers, some macadamias in the freezer, and cream cheese and eggs, this recipe is for you. Rather than use cream or sour cream in this cake  I decided to add coconut to the theme by using Cream of Coconut, which is thicker and sweeter than coconut milk. Continue reading “Coconut Macadamia Girl Scout Samoas Cheesecake”

Luxardo Cherry Trifle with Botlle

Luxardo Cherry Trifle

Luxardo Cherry Trifle

According the Oxford Dictionary a Trifle is British noun meaning.

a cold dessert of sponge cake and fruit covered with layers of custard, jelly, and cream.

I love trifles as they are a great way to use odd pieces of  this and that and compose into a comforting dessert enjoyed by all. You can make a large one or series of smaller individual ones for your guest in glasses when entertaining. I have served trifles when catering and they are always well received. I’m not going to provide an exact recipe , but show you how I assembled this through pictures and words. Add your own embellishments. I used Luxardo products as my flavor basis and theme. I love the richness, sweetness, aroma and flavor of the luxurious maraschino cherry  liqueur. A jar of the cherries is really a worthwhile splurge to amp up your cocktails, deserts, or mocktails. My new thing as the weather gets warmer is to add a cherry and some of the syrup to my lemonade.  This trifle uses both the liquer and about half the jar of cherries. You can use more if you wish.


The Components of The Trifle are:

Close up of Cherry Trifle

Crème Anglais ( a thin custard) ( Here is a good recipe you will need to double.)  Save half of your crème to fold into the  Whipped Cream.

I actually used 7 yolks, and 3/4 cup of sugar that I grinded old dried vanilla beans in ( I never throw anything away and this was left from homemade extract). You can infuse a split vanilla bean in the milk/cream as it heats. I wanted a yolkier custard. Be sure not to overcook as it will curdle and scramble quick. If it does, you may save it by running it through a blender. It should coat a spoon but it wont be very thick. Also another pro tip is to strain your custard  through a fine mesh sieve when complete, before cooling.

Heavy Cream whipped ( I always use 40 percent heavy whipping cream)

( About 3-4 cups whipped until stiff. Add some  of Luxardo Cherries syrup and a few teaspoons of sugar to sweeten. You will be adding sweetened  cooled cream anglais  to this as well, so be careful with the sugar.

Frozen Cake ( yellow cake, pound cake, chocolate cake , etc.) I always have some plain cake in the freezer left over from a project. You want a denser cake to absorb the liqueur.

Luxardo Liqueur

Luxardo Cherries

Cocoa Powder

Step One:

Make a Bottom layer of Frozen Cake cut into cubes. Drizzle Luxardo Liquor over the cake to soak.  Don’t over drench.

Soak the Cake with Luxardo Liquer

Step Two:

Pour Crème Anglais over the soaked cake

Pour Creme Anglais on top of  Luxardo soaked cake




Step Three:

Add some Luxardo Cherries sporadically around the edge.

Add Luxardo Cherries

Step Four:

Cover first layer with Whipped Cream mixed with half of the Cream Anglais. Add some of the Luxardo cherry syrup to the mix and fold gently. Be sure your bowl is cold  when whipping.

WhIpped Cream mixed with Creme Anglais for Luxardo Cherry Triffle

Step Five:

Repeat all the steps until bowl is filled. Sprinkle top with a dusting of Cocoa Powder.

Chill and allow to set for several hours before serving , so the flavors meld.







Cornmeal cakes

Huevos Old El Paso with Traditional Refried Beans

The people at Old El Paso asked me to create a few recipes with their Traditional Refried Beans. I love refried beans and typically use them in a loaded nacho  type of dish. When given this assignment, all sorts of other ideas came to mind for me. I decided to do and elegant brunch dish working with a microwave egg poacher gadget. Using Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans , I created a Latin inspired creative take of the classic Eggs Benedict. Rather than an English muffin, Hollandaise, etc, I’m  using a crunchy meal corn cake, topped with Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans, poached eggs, sauteed peppers, Pico de Gallo and salsa. Your breakfast or brunch guest will be wowed with the presentation.

This is recipe that you can make many variations on. Here are my tips:

  • This would make a great Sunday Brunch Dish in which some components ( pico de gallo, sautéed peppers, can be made ahead to cut time.

  • The cornmeal cakes and eggs should be made closer to serving time.

  • Feel free to build upon topping with sour cream, more shredded cheese, chorizo, etc.

  • Use a microwave egg poacher dish, for quick, perfectly formed poached eggs.

Huevos Old El Paso with Traditional Refried Beans
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
A brunch dish of cornmeal cakes, Old El Paso Refried Beans, Poached eggs, sautéed peppers, pico de gallo and salsa.
  • Corn Meal Cakes
  • 1½ cups corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • ¼ jalapeño pepper diced fine
  • ½ cup grated cheddar or Colby Jack Cheese
  • ½ cup vegetable oil for frying
  • Pico De Gallo
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • sautéed Peppers
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste.
  • 1 16 oz can Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans
  • 2 avocados
  • 6 poached or sunny side up fried eggs
  • 1 16 oz jar Old El Paso Thick and Chunky Salsa
  • *Pats of Butter for spreading on corn meal cakes optional
  1. Seed and slice peppers into strips.
  2. In a small skillet, heat oil and on medium high heat saute peppers until softened.
  3. Toss peppers with salt, pepper, and minced parsley.
  4. Set Aside until plating.
  5. In a small sauce pan. Heat milk and butter, until butter is melted.
  6. Set aside.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together corn meal, baking powder, egg, salt, jalapenos, cheese, and milk and butter mixture, until mixture holds shape.
  8. Turn out onto a clean surface and roll to about ½ inch in width.
  9. Take a round cookie cutter and cut out6 cakes.
  10. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet to medium high.
  11. Drop corn cakes carefully into skillet and fry for 2- 3 minutes on each side until golden.
  12. Drain on paper towel and keep warm in a warming oven at 200º
  13. In a small bowl, add quartered grape tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, onion, and salt. Toss to mix and set aside for plating.
  14. Heat the Old El Paso Refried Beans according to package instructions.
  15. Fry or poach your eggs to order.
  16. Peel and slice the avocado. Add some lime juice to prevent browning.
  17. On a plate, put a dollop of refried beans, add hot corn meal cake. Spread some butter on corn cake.
  18. Add a smear of Old El Paso Traditional Refried beans on top of buttered corn meal cake.
  19. Add the egg.
  20. Add A few assorted pepper slices ( green and red).
  21. Top with Pico de Gallo and Sliced Avocados and garnish plate with some.
  22. Serve with Old El Paso Thick and Chunky Salsa.


This is an endorsement of product from Old El Paso/ General Mills , in which I developed a few  original recipes for compensation.


Leberknödel (Liver Dumplings) with Chicken and Forest Mushroom Soup

In Chicago right now, you can feel the crispness in the air as fall arrives. It teases with some sharp rays of sun, but it’s undeniable Autumn is here.With the turn of season, energy may lag, and colds are common. Soups are craved more to cure what ails us. One of favorite soups in the world is a Leberknödel (liver dumpling )soup. I first had Leberknödel soup in Vienna, Austria and always order it at any German type of restaurant we go to. I love the comfort of a rich dumpling swimming in a crystal clear  flavorful soup. There really is nothing more perfect. While many people don’t like liver, I have never met anyone who doesn’t love Leberknödel , when given a try. To make the flavor milder, soak the liver in milk before prep, and it may be more agreeable to you. Regardless liver ( chicken , pork, or beef) is chock full or nutrition and iron, not to mention inexpensive. Because the liver is ground, is the reason I think many people love this soup as opposed to a big chunk of liver . Texture, as well as presentation is paramount in food.

Dumplings can be tricky, so patience is required. There are many techniques for them and the German people ,especially the Bavarians, have quite a repertoire of them. Traditionally Leberknödelsuppe is served in a clear beef consomme. Or the dumpling can be served on the side with sauerkraut. Certain Someone likes to take leftover potato dumplings, slice  and fry them, which would be amazing with these Leberknödel  as well. I researched several variations for  Leberknödel , and added my own twist. The mixture is very loose, and rather than fortify them with more bread crumbs , I used the more durable semolina to add texture along with the egg, ground liver,fried onions,  and soaked bread rolls. I keep a bag of chicken carcass and odd and ends in the freezer which I decided to use for my soup base along with root vegetables. A rich broth was formed. I added my favorite dried Polish Mushrooms to the soup with the  soaking water. All to simmer some more, strain, degrease, and then clarify with a raft of egg whites and shells ( another method is to use the egg whites shells, lean ground meat , mirepoix, and tomatoes) to remove any impurities and render a beautiful  crystal clear broth. The color is deepened because of the woodsy forest mushrooms.

Leberknödel (Liver Dumplings) with Chicken and Forest Mushroom Soup
Recipe type: soup
Liver dumpling soup
  • Assorted chicken pieces of your choice ( or leftover carcass, and other parts of chicken )
  • 1 red onion
  • a few stalks of celery
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • Approx 12 cups of water
  • 3-4 egg whites and shell
  • salt and pepper
  • Dumplings
  • 1 2oz pack of dried Polish Forest mushrooms
  • 4-5 stale kaiser rolls or other type of old bread
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 red onion minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • 1 egg beaten
  • grate of fresh nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 piece of raw liver (3/4 to ½ lb)( and milk for soaking optional)
  • 1 cup or more of semolina as needed depending on moisture of dumpling mixture.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. To make the soup /consomme...
  2. Roast the chicken and root vegetables at 375 F until golden.Use a pan that can transfer to the range for additional cooking.
  3. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water and let sit covered while chicken is roasting.
  4. Add water , salt and pepper,mushrooms and soaking liquid,and continue to simmer for approximate 2 hours. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Strain off solids and reserve to cool. You may pour in the refrigerator to allow the grease to congeal and later skim off.
  6. Add the strained broth to a stock pan.
  7. Mix in egg whites and shells. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. The egg whites and shells form a raft that will form at the top and capture all the impurities and solids that were not strained out .Do not disturb or stir the raft , but continue to simmer for about 30 minutes more.
  8. Carefully strain the soup, raft and shells into a fine sieve lined double with cheesecloth. You should have a very clear broth. Set aside.
  9. To make the dumplings...
  10. Soak liver in milk if desired for at least 30 minutes if desired to make taste milder.
  11. Soak the torn apart bread rolls in the milk.
  12. In a separate bowl grind the raw beef liver in grinder, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Remove any connective tissue.
  13. Wring out any excess milk from the soaked bread .
  14. Add the ground liver, beaten egg, baking powder, grate of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  15. At this point determine of the mixture needs more bulk and gradually add semolina to form a consistency that can loosely hold its shape in a ball once formed with with or oiled hands. You don't want the mixture too dry, but wet enough to hold its shape.
  16. Carefully shape dumpling , no larger than a walnut as they will expand in the water.
  17. Drop the dumpling carefully into salted boiling water. You may want to test one to see if they hold its shape while cooking.
  18. Add to clear hot soup and serve.
Makes approximately 25-28 dumplings. Soup quantity varies according to how much broth you yield from ingredients used.