Category Archives: Cooking

New Twist On A Classic

Chicken Salad.  Its about as classic as burgers and hot dogs.  Wherever there’s a cookout or leftovers, you’re likely to find chicken salad.

To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of this traditional dish.  Cold chicken with grapes and celery?  No thanks.  It often tastes bland to me and given the choice between creamy calories in a savory entree or a sweet dessert, I’ll always err on the side of sweetness!  But I digress..

Recently, I had a surplus of roasted chicken in my fridge that needed a makeover.  An old recipe from my catering days in Annapolis popped into mind and I just had to give it a go.  Moroccan Chicken Salad.  Chicken.  Honey.  Almonds.  Cardamom!  YUM!  Seriously folks, you’ve got to try this stuff!  In light of today’s holiday and the likelihood of us all having leftover chicken in our fridge at some point, I just have to share this delicious goodness with you.

Combine mayo and honey in a bowl until you have a smooth, sweet mixture (roughly 2 parts mayo, 1 part honey).  The honey helps balance the mayo’s tang.  Add salt, pepper and (most importantly) Cardamom to taste.  TRUST ME!  You do not want to miss the cardamom step.  Its the magic touch that brings this all together.  Toss diced cold chicken, dried apricots, and chopped almonds in the mixture until its is fully incorporated.  I prefer the taste of pine nuts in the salad but almonds are much more budget friendly. 🙂  Serve on a toasted croissant or fresh bread.  Its sweet, savory, creamy and crunchy.  Delicious!

So whip out that leftover chicken and discover the wonders a little cardamom and honey can do to an old classic.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Road Trip

It’s finally here!  A weekend I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time.  For the next three days, my mom, sister and I are having a culinary weekend together!  My amazing hottie of a husband is watching Eliana for the whole weekend so that I can spend the next three days off of mom duty with my girls.  Mornings in Georgetown and historic Washington, D.C., an afternoon in my hometown – Annapolis, MD, exploring the eastern market in our nation’s capital, a full evening at a Julia Child cooking class in Pentagon City.  The fun has just begun!  I truly am blessed to spend these next three days with my mom and sister, laughing throughout each day and enjoying delectable food together.  What a blast!

Happy weekend, everyone!  Be sure to check back next week for the delicious details of our foodie weekend.  I’ll enjoy some Georgetown Cupcakes on your behalf. 🙂

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Filed under Annapolis, Cooking, D.C., Family, Food, Patience

Carrot Cupcakes

Ever since my first visit to Georgetown Cupcake in January, I have been craving gourmet cupcakes: moist, decadent and down-right soul-satisfying!  Much to my mouth’s chagrin and my waistline’s delight, D.C. is a five-hour drive away, reducing me to merely dream about their yummy goodness.  So until my next venture to our nation’s capital, I have been in search of recipes that can placate my palate.  *sigh*

Last week, my Mom came across the most amazing recipe in Country Living that has done just the trick!  Carrot Cupcakes.  To say these tasty morsels are delicious would be a stark understatement.  I’ve enjoyed many a fine carrot cake in my life, but none have ever come close to comparing with the flavor and texture of this recipe: carrot cupcake with golden raisins and chopped nuts (we used pecans instead of walnuts…simply out of preference) covered by a dollop of carrot-infused cream cheese frosting and finished with strips of candied carrot on top.  Oh. My. WORD!  The only phrase that comes close to capturing this decadent morsel is “Dangerously Delicious!”

So the next time you’re in the mood for a satisfying treat, skip the local bakery and whip up a batch of these carrot cupcakes for yourself.  It will certainly be worth it!

(click on the recipe for the full size to print)


Filed under Cooking, D.C., Food, Recipes

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows

The weather seems perplexed lately, caught between winter’s chill and the warmth of spring.  With the wavering temperatures, what is one to do for food cravings?  Do you choose comfort foods that taste like a warm blanket on a frigid day or reach for spring’s fresh flavors?

Answer: toasted coconut marshmallows!  Creamy and indulgently satisfying while light and airy with a hint of tropical goodness.  My how I enjoy this recipe!  Thanks to Ina Garten, these delectable goodies are easy to make and completely worth your while.    I’ve also used her basic recipe to make cinnamon marshmallows before, grinding red hots into a powder and substituting them for sugar.  Any time I’ve made this recipe with kids, they have always been fascinated how such a small amount of liquid whips up into a massive, fluffy cloud.

So go whip up your own batch of Ina’s Toasted Coconut Marshmallows today!  Perhaps they will help make sense of this weather madness. 🙂

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Meringue Addiction

Confession: I have an addiction.  Meringues!  These light, fluffy, gooey, delectable treats always leave me craving another bite.  The fact that they are primarily egg whites and contain no flour often has me rationalizing just one…or twenty…more.  I now limit myself to making a batch only for the purpose of taking them to someone because let’s be honest – they will all be gone by morning.  It’s for the baby…really!

In honor of this deliciousness, here’s a recipe for chocolate chip meringues for your enjoyment.  You can use any size chip but I prefer mini morsels or Andes mint chips.  (The original recipe bakes the meringues at 300°F but I’ve found 310° works better for our oven.)  Eliana loves to watch the clear egg whites whip up in a frenzy into thick, glossy goodness.

So grab your bakers’ hat, your favorite apron, your sweet tooth and bake away!

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.  Grease baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
  2. Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, vinegar and vanilla while whipping to stiff peaks. Mixture should be glossy.  Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are dry.  Yeilds 4 dozen cookies.

Here’s wishing you all a delightfully delicious weekend!


Filed under Cooking, Fun, Recipes

Pineapple Pie

This weekend found me in a baking mood.  (Be aware – I do not proclaim to be the most proficient baker at all!  I’d much rather cook than bake, but preggo hormones had me craving something sweet.)  Part of my morning routine is to visit The Pioneer Woman’s website and see if any of her kitchen concoctions spark my curiosity.  Well Friday was no exception.  The delectable image of pineapple pie covered in a meringue topping caught my eye and as the weekend went on, I could not get it out of my mind.

By Saturday night, I had a baking itch that I simply could not scratch.  So with the necessary ingredients assembled, I grabbed my favorite apron and got to work.  20 minutes later, this lovely pie emerged from the oven:

Creamy pineapple filling topped with fluffy meringue.  Mmm.  My first attempt at pie – a success!  Simple and scrumptious.  There’s a very strong chance I’ll be baking this one again.

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Mac & Cheese Soup

If you’ve spent any time with me, one thing you’re quick to learn is I’ve a deep love for food.  Looooove it!  From cooking to eating, watching shows to reading articles, I’m a foodie at heart.  Whenever my mom, sister & I get together, most of our time revolves around either cooking or devouring delicious cuisine.  For my birthday this year, my sweet mom gave me an awesome gift: a year’s subscription to Food Network Magazine.  What a fabulous publication!  Each month is chock-full of delicious recipes, creative kitchen ideas & fascinating food facts.  Now the first week of every month finds me giddy and eagerly checking the mail for its arrival.  One of my favorite features is the photo recipe index at the front of each issue.  It shows pictures of all the recipes featured that month.  After all, you eat with your eyes first.  Brilliant!

January’s issue does not disappoint!  I tried my first January recipe last night: mac & cheese soup.  The name intrigued from the get-go.  Our family devours mac & cheese, but the butter and excessive flour always leaves me feeling guilty afterwards and hesitant to make it again.  But each time, the call to cheesy goodness prevails.  As I read the words, “cut the calories in half”, I knew I had to give this recipe a try.

Oh my word.  This soup is SCRUMPTIOUS!  It completely satisfies in the cheesy department with full-bodied flavor coming from the aromatics and chicken broth.  Did I mention there’s a full serving of carrots & celery in every pot?  My hesitant husband (“it won’t taste like watered-down mac & cheese, will it?”) devoured three bowls!  The soup itself has no – I repeat NO – salt in it.  This soup is comforting, filling, jam-packed with flavor and whips up in only 20 minutes!  We Leinos will certainly be enjoying this recipe again and again.

So for all the cheese lovers out there, you’ve got to try this!

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Chef In The Making

One of my favorite memories as a child was cooking in the kitchen with my Mom.  Whether cookies or crepes, pasta or peanut butter sandwiches, Mom always allowed me to work beside her.  Yes, those recipes always ended up far messier than if she had done it herself and I’m sure took three times as long.  But she took advantage of every possible teaching moment.  I have her to thank for my love of cooking and adventurous palate today.


To my delight, Eliana loves to hang in the kitchen anytime I’m cooking.  So following the wonderful example from my Mom, she has become my little kitchen helper.  It’s hilarious to see her in my apron.  Her favorite things to do are practice whisking in a bowl and help pour ingredients into the mixing bowl.  She’s adorable!  During breakfast, she gets all giddy to watch us scramble eggs…and of course, eat them.  We made sugar cookies on Christmas Day.  Eliana did a great job pounding the mess out of her dough and cutting out shapes.  I’m so curious to see what type of palate she’ll develop as she grows up.  She certainly is the cutest chef in the making.


Filed under Cooking, Eliana, Family, Fun, Patience