Happy March!

It has been quite a while since I last posted on The Kitchen Blackboard. January and February were spent skiing, visiting friends, traveling, and enjoying delicious food. I don’t really like cold weather but I try to make the most of it. It’s also great having two dogs who inspire me to go on walks even on the coldest days. Although I do have my limits, NO WALKS under 22 degrees Fahrenheit. I  have a 90+-year-old neighbor lady that walks her dog everyday regardless of weather. She puts me to shame some times.  I now find myself 14 days 20 hours and 35 minutes from the March Equinox and only 7 days from Daylight Savings. I feel reinvigorated with the promise of Spring.

Today is my husband’s birthday. However, we started celebrating over the weekend. On Saturday I had great success with a new recipe that I tried from Epicurious: Strozzapreti with Oxtail Ragu and Horseradish crumbs. A mouth-watering pasta dish perfect for the winter. I made the birthday cake on Saturday as well. Since neither of our children were home for this birthday I was able to make something other than a “chocolate” cake. So this year I made a yummy triple-layer coconut cake with a cream cheese frosting. Today we are enjoying Asian inspired Chicken Sates that will be served with a spicy peanut sauce. The chicken has been marinating in a mix of coconut milk, broth, ginger, garlic, shallot, soy sauce, lime zest, fish sauce, and brown sugar. The peanut sauce was made with peanut butter, broth, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, red curry paste, shallot, brown sugar, and lime juice. I plan to make a dish of spinach with chick peas that will be seasoned with cumin, sweet paprika, onion, garlic, and red wine vinegar. We will accompany the meal with coconut rice. And since coconut appears to be a recurring theme for this birthday I plan to whip up some Coconut Martinis!

Today I share a Japanese saying, Ichigo Ichie, “One Opportunity, One Encounter”. Its better translation may be “Treasure every encounter, for it will never recur.” It is a reminder to me to be mindful of the present and to appreciate this given moment because this moment will not happen again. I beg my Japanese friends to forgive my rudimentary attempt to write Japanese characters.



Pizza Night

My husband and I started making pizzas in business school (1000 years ago). Over time, my husband has taken over the pizza making in our family. He has experimented with many dough recipes. He has perfected the cooking process by using a 1/2 inch thick slab of steel in a 550 Fahrenheit degree  oven. He switches oven setting continually between broiling and baking.  I help buy the ingredients and sometimes help with the preparation but today I was busy fighting with bad Christmas light extensions. Not my favorite part of the process.

  • pepperoni
  • red pepper, black olive & bacon
  • shiitake mushroom, bechamel sauce, caramelized onion, & bacon
  • flank steak, bechamel, & bacon
  • Italian sausage & caramelized onion
  • prosciutto, fig jam, & arugula


Happy Thanksgiving Day

Let the games begin…

After a delicious breakfast of maple walnut scones we started preparations for Thanksgiving 2017. I share with you today’s Kitchen Blackboard with our Thanksgiving menu. We like to change our menu slightly every year. My husband continues to use a dry brine on the turkey which we decided was more flavorful. This year he is making the turkey in a spatchcocked way, which is in essence removing the backbone and butterflying it allowing for more even cooking throughout. The side dishes include some of our annual staples: mashed sweet potatoes with a topping of brown sugar and pecans and roasted parmesan carrots. We are experimenting with a new cheesy stuffing with wild mushrooms. Also new on the menu this year is a mix of roasted vegetables that include cauliflower, green beans, and mushrooms. My husband has rolled out home-made pasta to make his mother’s traditional German buttered noodles. He is also making home-made croissants which he started preparing yesterday. This year we are breaking with all tradition when it comes to dessert. No pies on our menu. We are having a pumpkin cheesecake with pecan praline sauce. In addition we will enjoy the Petrucelli Family chocolate dip cookies.

We just took a break to enjoy a light lunch of Chinese chicken dumplings, shu mai, and roast beef canapés. And now it’s time to get back to work.

We wish and you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Bon Appetit!

The Weekend Before Thanksgiving

It was a very busy weekend getting ready for the Thanksgiving break ahead. We spent a lot of time menu planning not just for the holiday but for the weekday meals leading up to it, and for meals afterwards. But most importantly we had to think about this weekend’s meals first. Last night we enjoyed a wonderful pork tenderloin stuffed with mushroom duxelles, bacon, and parsley. We accompanied the pork with roasted asparagus and spiralized sweet potato frites.

We use the app Evernote to create the menu and grocery list. We also use Evernote to lay out our schedule beginning on Monday detailing preparation and cooking leading up to Thanksgiving day. For us the planning and preparation is as much fun as the eating. With the menu laid out for the week I started my “hunting and gathering”, a.k.a. grocery shopping.

We thought we would keep things simple tonight and decided to make home-made Sloppy Joes that we will serve on brioche rolls.


My parents arrive on Monday. For Monday night’s dinner we will revisit the Saturday night stuffed pork tenderloin. We will accompany it with roasted butternut squash with spinach and cranberries. My daughter arrives from college on Tuesday. She put in a request for Mexican Tortilla soup. For the soup I will use a previously made duck broth, mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot), garlic, cumin, oregano, chopped tomatoes, chick peas, shredded chicken, rice, lemon juice, and lime juice. The piece-de-resistance is the addition on top of cubed avocado, cheddar cheese, and fried tortilla shell strips. My son arrives from college on Wednesday. Since we start with Thanksgiving preparations on Wednesday I wanted to make a simple recipe for dinner that night. I am making a delicious slow-cooker Bolognese sauce that we will serve with Rigatoni pasta. This weekend’s quote is by American hurdler Joel Brown.

I was also very busy this weekend assembling my Winter Village. Yes my friends, I start decorating for Christmas and listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Tis the Season!!  See my village here. https://thelabyrinthguide.wordpress.com/2016/11/09/what-the-dr-prescribed/


Happy November

Happy November my friends. It has been a very busy autumn. I never thought being an empty nester would keep me so active.  I have done a lot of traveling by myself and with my husband. Today, I finally updated The Kitchen Blackboard to welcome the month of November. Yesterday we enjoyed a delicious flank steak that was marinaded in cilantro, jalapeño, and lime juice. We accompanied the steak with amazing potatoes that were roasted in duck fat. I don’t think we will ever want potatoes roasted any other way. We also enjoyed roasted acorn squash. Tonight, we are enjoying a Korean-style chicken made with Korean fermented chili paste, sesame seed oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sugar. We will accompany the chicken with rice and roasted cauliflower.

We are finalizing the Thanksgiving menu as well as other meals for the holiday weekend. I am also gearing up to assemble my winter village. You can see my village here: https://thelabyrinthguide.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/a-winter-village/

Today I share a quote by Buddha that reminds us to live in the present moment.

The Continued Birthday Celebration

My official birthday was last Saturday, September 30th. I happened to be away last weekend in San Diego and Del Mar, California on numerous reunions. I had the chance to reconnect with my lovely childhood friend that I have known for close to a half of a century. Pretty amazing. I also spent time with four wonderful women from my business school class. They started my weeklong birthday celebration which continued until yesterday with the family celebration. My son and his girlfriend were home from college and also joined us. My husband made duck for the first time ever and it was outstanding. In the morning he had a bit of a challenge finding duck in our local stores but thankfully was able to get his hands on one. He later did research and we agreed that the next time we will order the duck/duck breasts from the D’Artagnan website. He made duck two ways, sous-vide/pan-fried and confit. He seasoned the two breasts and then vacuum-sealed them. The duck breasts were then placed in a sous-vide bath and cooked to 125 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve medium rare meat. Normally they recommend cooking duck breasts to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, however our duck breasts were thin and we did not want to overcook them. After the sous-vide bath, my husband pan-fried the breasts, skin face down to achieve crispness. He generously salted the legs and thighs and set them aside. In the meantime he rendered duck fat from remaining pieces. It was this duck fat that he then used to cook the legs and thighs in a low oven temperature for about 3 hours to achieve the confit style. My husband also made a delicious cherry sauce for the duck. The duck was mouth-watering. We accompanied the duck with parmesan mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. And the pièce de résistance was my favorite birthday cake in the world, a double layer chocolate cake with a dark chocolate fudge frosting. 

Today is my turn to experiment with a new recipe. A couple of months ago we bought Korean fermented chili paste, Gochujang. I was finally able to use it in a marinade for Korean Bulgogi-style skirt steaks. Bulgogi translates to “fire meat”. The marinade I prepared has Gochujang, garlic, ginger, onion, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, cilantro, sugar, black pepper, and vegetable oil. I marinaded the skirt steaks overnight. The meat will be grilled. We will accompany the steaks with stir-fried snow peas, white rice, and cucumber slices. We will also serve some of the marinade which I set aside for a sauce.

It was my husband who updated The Kitchen Blackboard yesterday. I thought that was very special. Today I share a quote by Adlai E. Stevenson. It reminds me to not focus so much on the age I am turning, but on how I am living this life and making the most of it.

Birthdays are for celebrating!


To learn more about confit: http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/01/ask-the-food-lab-what-the-heck-is-confit.html

D’Artagnan: http://www.dartagnan.com/home?gclid=CjwKCAjwmefOBRBJEiwAf7DstOvEvLKWlXIVUW2zom3Y2lSI3FWT1ybjyZONk9jsQrYMDTU2_YKuRxoCI18QAvD_BwE




Triple Lab September Sunday

Today was a fun day. We invited our  neighbors over who have a 1-year-old yellow lab. With our chocolate and black lab and their yellow lab we completed the collection of awesome labs splashing around the pool.

For dinner I am making a very familiar dish to our family, arroz con pollo. I usually just wing it using some of my mom’s basic recipe. However, today I decided to follow a recipe by The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. It is a one pot chicken and rice meal. Chicken thighs were marinated in oregano, white vinegar, and salt during the day. The chicken thighs were then cooked partially. Green peppers and onions were sautéed with crushed  red pepper. Chicken broth, water, and tomato sauce were added to the chicken and vegetables. Then the rice, olives, and capers were added and the whole pot went into the oven. When everything is cooked we will remove the skin and bones from the chicken. The pieces of chicken will then go in a sauce of roasted peppers, olive oil, vinegar, and cilantro. The chicken will be placed back on top of the cooked rice. We will accompany the arroz con pollo with green beans with lemon juice and slices of avocado.

Buen Provecho!