Broccoli Crunch Salad

19 Mar

Broccoli Crunch Salad

When it comes to power foods, Broccoli is one at the top of the list. Especially raw broccoli. It is high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and is known to have anti-cancer benefits. And if broccoli were to ever have a fan club, my Mom would be the president. I’m not sure a day has gone by in the past ten years that she hasn’t had broccoli in one of her meals. One of her go-to lunches is this raw broccoli salad creation.   It’s easy to make, super healthy, and loaded with incredible flavor. The crunchiness of this salad is enhanced even more with sliced almonds, which are packed with vitamin E and also rich in dietary fiber. And then to step it up even more, she throws in avocados, which contain several B vitamins, vitamin K, C, E and potassium. They have also been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. So basically, next time you want an uber-healthy, easy lunch that you don’t have to sip out of a straw, give this salad a try!



Organic Broccoli

When at the grocery store or market, pick out fresh, bright green broccoli. You want to ensure it keeps its crunch. Chop up the broccoli into bite-size pieces.

Chopped Broccoli

Cut a ripe avocado into bite-size pieces, and add to the broccoli. Mix in the sliced almonds, shredded Parmesan cheese, and the dressing. Season with salt & pepper to taste. You can also add protein, such as grilled chicken or smoked salmon. Garbanzo beans are also a delicious addition!

Paul newman

Green Bean Casserole with Balsamic Onions & Goat Cheese

17 Nov


I personally have never been a fan of Classic Green Bean Casserole. I know for some people it’s just a staple and you can’t live without it. For the rest of us, there’s a healthier, fresher option now. Taking the traditional ingredients of green beans, mushrooms, onions, and a crunchy top, I’ve made a new go-to for our family’s Thanksgiving. Fresh green beans, Portobello mushrooms, balsamic caramelized onions, crispy almonds and creamy goat cheese. We’ve been serving it for years now.  And other bonuses about this dish are it can be made in advance,  it travels well, and it’s just as good at room/warm temperature as it is hot. Boom! Thanksgiving for today’s on-the-go family.


  • Fresh Green Beans
  • Baby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Large Yellow Onions, sliced in slivers
  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Goat Cheese, crumbled

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and melt the butter with a couple drizzles of olive oil. Add the slivers of onion and cook until slightly caramelized. Reduce the heat to low and add the minced garlic and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms get slightly soft – remember you’ll be baking it again later so you don’t want them to get too soft. Add a splash of the balsamic vinegar over the mushrooms for the last 30 seconds of cooking. Set aside to cool.IMG_8765

Boil a pot of water for the green beans. While the water is getting ready to boil, fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water.  Once the water starts to boil, add the green beans and cook for just a couple minutes. When the beans start to turn to a brighter green, quickly drain and throw the beans into the ice water. This keeps the beans from continuing to cook.  Remove from the ice water and set aside.IMG_8766

All of these steps can be done a couple hours in advance, and stored in air tight containers in the refrigerator.

Before serving, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the onion & mushroom mixture with the green beans. Spread them out evenly on a baking sheet. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake the vegetables for ten minutes. Remove and place in the serving dish. Top the dish with slices of almonds and crumbled goat cheese. The vegetables can be served hot or  warm/room temperature.

Thanksgiving Stuffing Bites

11 Nov

IMG_8794Every November, I like to throw a Friends Thanksgiving. I’ve done everything from a full blown Thanksgiving, sit-down dinner, to cocktails out on the town to just have a gathering of friends. When I decided to tackle a Thanksgiving Cocktail Party, I was presented with a new challenge. I wanted to serve traditional Thanksgiving food, but it had to be finger-food friendly. Turkey was easy – sliced turkey breast with homemade cranberry sauce on mini butter rolls. Mashed potatoes could be served in small appetizer cups. But the stuffing was throwing me a curve ball. How could I keep the traditional flavors of a hearty stuffing, while adding a new, exciting edge to this Thanksgiving classic? And then it hit me. Let’s stuff the stuffing into the bread! Using my family’s stuffing recipe, I modified it by omitting the twelve grain bread. And instead, I used Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry flaky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth dough as cups to hold the the savory sausage stuffing. There you have it folks – the Thanksgiving Stuffing Bite. You’re welcome.


  • 1 Package Jimmy Dean Sausage
  • 1 Small Vidalia Onion, diced
  • 4 Stalks Celery, diced
  • 1.5 tbls Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Turkey Broth
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pepperidge Frozen Puff Pastry Cups

Over medium heat, sauté  the diced onions and celery with the butter and a bit of olive oil, enough to coat the pan. Carefully turn the onions and celery, ensuring not to let them caramelize. Cook until the onions become translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the sausage, turkey broth, garlic and thyme leaves. Cook the meat until fully cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. This can be done a day in advance, and reheated on the stove top over low heat before serving. The flavors will develop better if given time to sit. IMG_8707When ready to serve, reheat the stuffing until the sausage mixture is hot. In the meantime, preheat the oven to the instructions on the frozen Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Cups. Bake according to the instructions. Once baked, fill each pastry dough cup with the sausage mixture. Serve hot. Happy Thanksgiving!

Michigan Summer Sundae

21 Aug

MI Blue Sundae

One of my favorite places in the whole world is Charlevoix, MI.  Having grown up there every summer, it is my happy spot. Memories of being surrounded by family & friends as we walked to the beach or the tennis courts often flood my head when I hear “summer” or “up north”. Afternoons would be spent on the water, cruising over to Oyster Bay to swim in the protected waters. The biggest concern of the day was “when is dinner?”. With long days (in July, the sun sets close to 10pm), there was no real rush. But you always knew you were in for a delicious meal, playing with the fabulous flavors Michigan provides during the summer months. Summer time in Northern Michigan is hard to beat. And so is this Michigan Summer Sundae.

Michigan Summer Sundae


Bake the Blueberry Muffin Bread as instructed.

Slice the Blueberry Muffin Bread and place into individual sundae bowls. Scoop the vanilla ice cream onto the bread, and top with fresh berries. A true summer treat!

photo 1photo 5Bread in a bowlbread with ice bream

Images of a Northern Michigan Summer

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Blueberry Muffin French Toast

18 Aug

 french toast plated

Blueberry Muffin French Toast

So, I’ve been wanting to make this for a really long time. I had this inspiration one night when I couldn’t sleep. Being a big fan of French Toast, I was contemplating how to make it even better. And then it hit me. I love a really good Blueberry Muffin. So why not bake the muffins in a bread pan, slice it up, dunk it, and throw it on a griddle? And that’s exactly what I did. This is by no means a healthy start to your day, but it’s for sure a happy one!


  • 6 Thick Cut slices of Blueberry Muffin Bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 Cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • Salt to taste
  • All Natural Maple Syrup


Bake the Blueberry Muffin Bread as instructed. Once cool, slice into one-inch think slices.
Whisk the eggs, milk, spices and vanilla extract in a large shallow bowl.
Dunk the bread into the bowl. Evenly coat both sides of each slice of bread in the egg mix.
Heat a lightly oiled/buttered griddle or skillet over medium-high flame.
Cook the bread until golden brown on each side, around a couple minutes each side. You may need to add more butter between slices.
Serve hot with All Natural Maple Syrup.
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michigan syrupeggsfrench toast soakingfrench toast in panfrench toast with juice

Blueberry Muffin Bread

15 Aug

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 Blueberry Muffin Bread

Hold onto summer with this absolutely delicious Blueberry Muffin Bread. Pick out the biggest, juiciest blueberries of the season and load up the batter. It’s easy to make…. trust me, I’m not a baker (I rarely use measuring devices when I cook). But this bread will now be a regular in my home. My parents have noted that while it’s obviously good to eat just plain on it’s own (I made this at our family cottage and let’s just say it didn’t last long), their new favorite is to toast a slice for breakfast…. the blueberries get hot, the edges crispy, and the butter just oozes out of the bread…yuummm. You can also use this bread to make Blueberry Muffin French Toast or a Michigan Summer Sundae.


  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter
  • 1/3 cup Skim Milk
  • 1 Whole  Egg
  • 1 Egg White
  • 3/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2/3 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 cups Fresh Blueberries (12 oz)

For topping

  • 3 tablespoons cold Unsalted Butter, cut into bits
  • 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Granulated Sugar


Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Generously butter bread pan, or spray with Pam Baking Spray.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, then remove from heat. Whisk in milk, then whisk in eggs and vanilla extract until combined well.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then add milk mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in blueberries gently but thoroughly.

Pour batter into the buttered bread loaf pan.

Make topping: Rub together all topping ingredients in a bowl with your fingertips until crumbly, then sprinkle evenly over batter in the bread pan.

Bake until golden and crisp, about 45-50 minutes. Insert a wooden pick  into the center of the bread – when it comes out clean, it’s done. Let it cool a bit before removing it carefully from the pan. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, snack and dessert!

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Summer Fish Bake in Parchment

8 Aug
Today’s post comes from a good friend of mine, Erin. Erin has been a DIVA for years, and let me tell you … she’s a pro. I remember the first time she hosted at her home, and wow did she take it up a notch. Not only did she have a beautiful, themed set-up, (and delicious food!) you could tell she loved entertaining her guest. And she did it with such ease and grace. Everything was in place, each detailed well thought through. I love being a guest in her home! Always welcoming & kind, Erin has the biggest heart… her love for her family & friends is very evident. It’s this love that translates into her cooking and hosting. A true DIVA. And now, Erin’s story & recipe!
“My family visits Marco Island, Florida several times a year. We learned a version of this recipe from a fish market on the island. It’s the perfect meal for dinner parties. In fact we even had it for one of the DIVAS bachelorette party a few years back! The reasons it’s so great is that you can prepare it earlier in the day, then pop it in the oven once your guest arrive. Since there are veggies and beans in the dish, there is no reason for any other sides. It’s simple, quick and delicious! You can make it in one large parchment paper sheet and serve from there or get individual bags and cut up the fish. You can serve the parchment bags right on the individuals dish for the perfect presentation. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!”

Summer Fish Bake in Parchment 


  • Parchment paper, large sheet or individual bags
  • A Meaty fish like tilapia, halibut or sea bass
  • 1 Can of Northern Italian beans
  • 1 Yellow Squash, julienned
  • 1 zucchini, julienned
  • 1 Red Pepper, julienned
  • 1 Shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 container Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Kalamata Olives, sliced
  • 1 Bag Fresh Spinach
  • Good Olive Oil
  • Fish seasoning or just bit of salt and pepper

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Pre heat the oven to 400. Chop all the vegetables. Please note this can all be done in advance earlier in the day.

photo 2Layer parchment paper followed by northern Italian beans, spinach, veggies, fish, seasoning, feta cheese and olives. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Wrap parchment up tight. Cook for about 20 mins depending on fish size.

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Serve immediately either in parchment or out. Enjoy!


The Princess Glass

27 Jul

Because Every DIVA Should Have a Princess Glass

This is Granny. As her first grandchild, and first “girl”… she had all brothers and all sons, we have developed a special bond over the years.  She is a very special lady, and our relationship means the world to me. This particular story takes place a couple years ago when Granny was downsizing in her home.

I was helping her go through her kitchen, deciding which items she would like to take with her. Given the fact that Granny used to be able to host a dinner party for 100 people, and didn’t need to rent a single serving item, she had a lot of items to sort through. So with that said, it was quite a process. When it came to the wine glasses, she had some options. I was drooling over several of them…. beautiful crystal, art deco, slender & elegant, back-porch cool… but she reached for the plain-jane, dishwasher safe glasses. She stated that she was done entertaining, so why should she use a fancy glass when drinking by herself?

This is where I reminded her what she’s taught me over the years.

And let me begin with, this moral goes beyond just drinking wine.Nobody should undervalue their time alone, or not treat themselves to something because they’re not with a group.

I continue to tell her that in my home, where I live alone, I have what I refer to as my Princess Glass.

My Princess Glass was an impulse, splurge purchase. It’s a Kate Spade Lenox glass; and I only own one of them. I drink out of my Princess Glass when I’m drinking on my own at home…. because why should I down-play my evening when I’m not entertaining? And why should Granny? I instructed her to pick out her favorite, fancy wine glass so she too could have a Princess Glass at her new home.

Her response? “But Kristin, I’m a Queen.”

So while I still drink out of my Princess Glass, Granny now drinks out of her Queen Glass…As she should.


27 Jul

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When splurging on a flavorful meal, it’s important not to neglect your beverage. While wine is always a good go-to, some dishes just require a different twist….like a twisted cucumber garnish in a sake cocktail. And well, why not add vodka? This Saketini is a fantastic match with Asian meals, such as  the Asian Sobo Noodles or Shrimp & Veggie “Fried” Brown Rice.



  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 2.5 oz Dry Sake
  • Shaved Cucumber Garnish

Mix the Vodka and Dry Sake in a martini shaker. Serve in a chilled martini glass with a shaved cucumber garnish!


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Asian Sobo Noodles

27 Jul


My brother and his wife recently renovated their home, and not only do they have an absolutely beautiful kitchen, but the master chef skills to match. They are quite the team in the kitchen, and when they get creating, you’re in for a delicious treat. Their dishes are always big flavor. And they even create cocktails to match! I was fortunate enough to be invited over for dinner the other night when they created this Asian Sobo Noodle dish, Seared Ahi Tuna on the grill, and Saketinis. Let’s just say I’m already looking forward to my next invitation!



  • 1 Box Sobo Noodles
  • 1 package Edamame
  • 5 Large Carrots, shaved into ribbons
  • 1 bunch Green Onions, grilled
  • 1 cup Peanuts
  • 4 tsp Sesame Seeds
  • 3 tbls Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbls Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Chili Oil

Boil a pot of water, and cook the noodles according to the directions on the box. Heat up the grill in preparation to char the green onions. Brush the green onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the bunch of green onions onto the grill, turning often. Keep an eye on them to ensure they get a char, but don’t burn. Once cool enough to handle, chop into 1/2 inch length strips.

In a large bowl, add the edamame, shaved carrots, & grilled green onions. In a separate bowl, mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, olive oil and chili oil. Please note these are estimates on measurements – please adjust to your liking and spice tolerance! Add the soho noodles to the vegetables, drizzle the sauce over the noodles, and mix well. Add the sesame seeds & peanuts and mix. This dish can be served hot or cold. Serve with Seared Ahi Tuna and a Saketini!



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