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Saturday, 24 January 2015

One on One: Julie C. Myers (Nearly Nicks)

I'm so excited to have Julie C. Myers featured in One on One. She is the world's top Stevie Nicks tribute artist and is currently getting ready to release her first solo album of rock-infused country music. She has traveled the globe thrilling audiences with her power house voice and performances as "Nearly Nicks". I am definitely looking forward to the new album. Also, I can't forget to mention that the recipe Julie shares with us is absolutely delicious!!!! 

Chef D: Can you share with the readers a little bit about yourself.

Julie: I am originally from Memphis, Tn.  I grew up there and have been an entertainer most of my life. I bounced back and forth from LA to Vegas for many years and have performed all over North America. I was a dancer/backup singer for many years before concentrating my efforts on a Tribute to Stevie Nicks which is where I started concentrating more on being a vocalist. I am now happy to announce I have a CD of my own.

Chef D: Have you always wanted to be a singer? Who inspired you to be the person you are today?  

Julie: I guess you could say that. With coaching from my mom (a classmate of Elvis'), I won my first talent show singing on stage at age six... where I had my 10th grade brother accompany me on guitar.  More than just wanting to be a singer, I knew I wanted to be a multi-talented entertainer.  No one thing was gonna define me. I was inspired to dance by everything from Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire, and Ginger Rogers, to Mikhail Baryshnikov, Martha Graham, and Gregory Hines.   I was inspired to sing by many other performers such as Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Rait, and Don Henley and a great many I can't think to list.  I am inspired to live well by many I have known to have overcome adversity and persevered through loss, illness and tragedy. They are all my heroes!

Chef D: Is there a side to you that the public never sees? Do you sometimes feel there are two different Julie C Myers?
Julie: Oh God I hope so!!! LOL!!! Not really but I feel that that as a performer I am multi-faceted and my life on stage and as a performer is way different from my private life.  It's just naturally a little polar opposite.  People see me as super animated, excited, and high energy on stage... where I am actually a fairly mild tempered work-a-day house mouse on days off.  I love to snuggle up with a book... or sit by the fire place and watch a little television when I get the chance....but even there, I enjoy programs like American Idol and The Voice etc.   Most days are spent tending to social media, rehearsing a little, and, if inspiration hits, working at songwriting.   I try to take in a movie every once in a while as well. 

Chef D: What's the magic formula for success?  

Julie: There is no such thing. It’s is all about hard work, perseverance and who you cross paths with.  Making the most of every opportunity is paramount.  

Chef D: How hard do you push yourself when it comes to your career?  

Julie: I used to push myself quite hard and put huge demands on myself!   I still work hard these days but with a more laid back approach; I sort of have the "enjoy the ride while you're on it" sort of mentality if you will.  I love where my life is going these days and I'm gonna take it all in and be grateful for each day.  

Chef D: When are you completely satisfied with your work?

Julie: I don’t think any artist is ever really TOTALLY satisfied with their work. That's just natural.  One month after I recorded my album in Nashville I was already listening with different ears.  "Why did I sing that like that" or "why didn’t I sing this like this instead"?   It will drive you crazy if you let it and that is why artists stay hungry I think. It’s what drives them!

Chef D: When you are not working what do you do for fun?

Julie: I love to go hear live music (and sometimes dance), and I love to go out to eat...especially ethnic foods.  Because I like to do THAT so much, I also like to go work out.  I enjoy weightlifting and strength training.  I find the added muscle helps burn calories so I don't have to watch my waistline so much.  :)  

Chef D: What do you do to relax?  

Julie: I love to sit in my Hot Tub, hang out with my man and cat, watch a movie and have either Hot Tea or a glass of wine.

Chef D: What do you enjoy more, a night out on the town or staying in with that special someone?  

Julie: Oh wow.. that really depends... on several things... on my mood, what is going on out on the town... how long to the day it is I that has to be the entertainer... and how much energy I have.

Chef D: Is there a city, country and venue that you have never performed in but hope to one day soon?

Julie: For me it's countries...  The UK. Italy, France, Spain, Greece, and Australia for a start....and maybe a few South American countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and Chile as well.  

Chef D: Is there someone that you have never worked with but would love to get the chance to do so?

Julie: Yes. So many! Every one that has ever inspire me from The Beatles, Janis Joplin Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, The Eagles, Steve Perry, Linda Ronstadt, and Sheryl Crowe.  I would LOVE to meet Dolly Parton some day! Also, I had a dream not too long ago that I recorded a duet with Justin Timberlake! How cool would THAT be??
Chef D: Tell us about your upcoming album and when does it release?

Julie: The CD entitled “Rock On…Fearless Journey” releases on Feb. 24th and I am VERY excited! This is my first recording as myself, really. It kind of tells MY story in relationships, so to speak. All the wrong guys I dated... all the time I wasted on 'Mr. Wrong'... or on 'Mr. Right Now'.  Grieving the loss of someone you love so deeply, you think it’s never gonna stop hurting... partying too much to try and cover up those hurting feelings... and the triumph of finally finding true love... and having a healthy relationship and CELEBRATING! This CD is about persevering, living strong, and "Rocking On!"

Chef D: When at home what is your all time favorite dish to make, can you please share the recipe with the readers.  

Julie: I love Indian and Thai food… as well as Mexican.  Those are my three favorite ethnic groups when it comes to food.  I have a wonderful man that does MOST of the cooking... but I do have a lot of recipes I like... and I WILL help him with it.  Here's one of my favorites.  It's an ethnic dish, as most of them are.   Hope you like it too..!

 I call it 'Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup'.



1 -14 oz can of Roasted Corn... (if you can't buy it roasted... do it yourself in a skillet... with a drained can of Green Giant Niblets and a little oil until little dark spots appear on the corn here and there.  You can smell when it's getting roasted!)

1/4 pound of bacon diced into tiny pieces
4 Chicken Breasts deboned and diced into small bite sized pieces
9 Cloves Garlic minced
3 Large Spanish Onion chopped fine
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Green Sweet Peppers diced small
3 Large cans diced Rotel Tomatoes or similar
1 -15 oz Can Black Beans rinsed and drained
1 - 5 oz Can Pickled Jalapeno Peppers
3 Qts prepared Chicken Broth
1/2  - 6.55 Fl oz Can La Costena Brand Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce ... Diced finely
3 Tbsp Chili powder
3 Tsp Dried Oregano
1 cup of chopped fresh Cilantro packed
1 cup crushed Tortilla Chips
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes... or to taste
Salt and Black Pepper to taste.


Sliced Avocado
Lightly broken Tortilla Chips
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Chopped Green Onion.

Saute Bacon adding onion fairly early in the process and caramelize.  Add Chicken and Garlic and continue stir frying until cooked... adding the Chipotle peppers in Adobo Sauce and Diced Green Peppers as well. When the peppers are getting soft transfer to a large soup pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes or so. 

This ends up being a fairly thick so you can add water as you see fit.  I like to put it into a few mason jars while it's hot so they'll seal up... and, if I store them in the refrigerator, they'll last quite a while.    I take them out to reheat and treat them like a concentrate, adding about another half the amount of water. 


Thanks again to Julie for taking part in One on One

Follow Julie on Twitter
Check out her Facebook
Nearly Nicks' Official Website

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Here's a fun and simple recipe for a delicious soft & chewy cookie that I have made at home numerous times and doesn't last very long in the cookie jar. These cookies are perfect for the winter season, but are great anytime of the year. You can always jazz up the recipe by adding some cinnamon in the icing sugar or also roll them in colored sprinkles. Enjoy!! 


Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Makes: 50 cookies

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioners’ sugar


1 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (though you can do this with a wooden spoon, too) beat together the cocoa powder, white sugar, and vegetable oil until it comes together into a shiny, gritty, black dough of sorts.

2 Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds each. Add the vanilla and beat in thoroughly.

3 In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder if using. Mix into the chocolate mixture on low speed until just combined. Do not overbeat. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill the dough for four hours or overnight.

4 Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the confectioner's sugar in a wide bowl. Using a rounded teaspoon get clumps of the chilled dough and roll them into 1-inch (2.5 cm) sized balls using your hands. Roll the balls in the confectioner's sugar and place on the cookie sheets (you should be able to get 12-16 on each sheet). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool a minute or two on the sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Festive Wheat Berry Salad

Christmas is just two days away and I thought I'd share with you my favourite holiday salad in case some of  you were in need of a last minute appetizer idea. I hope you all have a very safe and merry Christmas!!

Festive Wheat Berry Salad

Serves: 4 to 6

1 cup wheat berries, rinsed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small butternut squash, halved, seeded, peeled and cut into 12-inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 green onions, dark and light green parts, chopped

In a pot, combine 3 1/2 cups water, the wheat berries and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450ºF (220ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the parsnips, squash, red onion and garlic on the prepared sheet. Drizzle with the 1/4 cup oil and the vinegar and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast, stirring once, until the vegetables are caramelized and fork-tender, about 25 minutes. Peel the roasted garlic, break into small pieces and return to the sheet.

Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl with the wheat berries and stir to combine. Add the parsley, cranberries and green onions and mix well. Drizzle with additional oil if the mixture needs more moisture. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Friday, 19 December 2014

One on One: Tanya Steel

I'm so thrilled to be sharing this One on One with the hugely successful, award-winning food writer Tanya Steel. She was previously editor-in-chief of the most award-winning food site, was inducted into the Digital Hall of Fame in 2010, and is a publishing industry veteran having served as an editor for many years at Bon Appetit and Food & Wine magazines. She has also been a  regular on many national television shows such as Hell's Kitchen (My absolute favorite reality show!), Masterchef, Iron Chef, and many others. Needless to say, it's such an honor to have Tanya on my blog.


Chef D: How did your career and life in the world of food start. Who was your inspiration and can you tell us a little about yourself?
Tanya: My mom was (and has always been) not a great cook--sorry, mom! So when we moved to New York City in the early 70s from London, I turned on the channel and watched Julia Child's The French Chef pretty religiously, and so learned how to cook and feel confident in the kitchen from Julia. I grew up in the city, and thought I would be a biographer (at age 20 I was a failed model and a failed biographer) but ended up in publishing as I needed to make a salary and got my first job at Mademoiselle magazine. I left to open my own business, Makeover By Mail, an idea ahead of its time--this was pre-internet. I ran that slowly into the ground and started to look for something else to do. I realized the intersection of food and travel was a passion, so answered an ad in the New York Times for an assistant editor at Food & Wine and got the job. Guess who I met there? Julia Child! What a thrill. I continued on my path, working for a travel magazine called Diversion, then went to Bon Appetit for 10 years, and then got the role of Editor-in-Chief/Editorial Director of Epicurious, Gourmet Live and I ran Epi for 8 years and had the great fortune of working with many brilliant people, all of whom helped us win two James Beard awards, 3 ASMES, over a dozen Webbys, a New York Emmy and more. We were blessed to create a brand that people loved and felt a part of. I left to start my own businesses to follow the other passion in my life, getting people to cook and eat healthy and feel good about themselves, especially kids.

Chef D: Are you working on some upcoming projects that you can share with the readers? 
Tanya: I have many irons in the fire--book proposals and TV show concepts being shopped, working on the 2015 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge with the First Lady, trying to do similar initiatives in the UK and Canada. working with the Julia Child Foundation, and a myriad other things.
Chef D: Can you tell us a little more about "Cooking Up Big Dreams", "Tanya Wenman Steel LLC", and one that I think is just amazing, "Healthy Lunch-Time Challenge & Kids State Dinner". I think working with kids is brilliant and the winning prize is a dream come true.  

Tanya: I formed two companies, one to create culinary media and the other to act as a consultant for media and have not yet had to look for projects, but rather they have come to me. I would call that beginner's luck. The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge  & Kids' State Dinner is a national healthy recipe contest for kids 8 to 12 in the US.  They have to send in a recipe that adheres to the national MyPlate standards, is creative, affordable, healthy, and delicious. And it needs to have some sort of back story to it. The stories are sometimes heartbreaking--a parent has developed Type 2 diabetes, or cancer, and so the family has changed their diet as a result of it. I came up with the concept with a former colleague, pitched it to the White House and in 2012, we had our first one. It was better, bigger, and more mind-blowingly moving than anything I had imagined. It's grown every year and I feel so honored and blessed to be able to bring 54 kids from around the US to the White House to meet the First Lady and the President, and to help facilitate what is undoubtedly a life-changing event. It certainly was for me. Standing at the podium in the East Room and delivering a speech with Mrs Obama standing next to me is a surreal and beautiful moment each year and I can't believe how lucky I am to be able to be in this position. I am exceedingly grateful. And the  winning kids have gone on to open nonprofits around hunger and health, have appeared on Masterchef Junior and Top Chef Junior, and to be leaders in their own towns and schools.

Chef D: Being such a hugely successful award winning business lady with your company's, your book's your television appearances, how do you manage to have free time for yourself? 
Tanya: I have twin 16-year-old sons, and a husband who teaches high school history, so I've not had free time in about 17 years. I know one day I will have a little more time but I am a Type A person and can't really allow myself time to do something that isn't productive, even though I know relaxing and doing little is actually productive in itself. 
Chef D: Do you do work with any charities that you would like to talk about? 
Tanya: I believe that the best gift you can give yourself is to give your time, energy and if you have it, money, to others. I am on Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters board, have worked a lot with Feeding America, am on the Smithsonian's Kitchen Cabinet board, an advisor to 1,000 Days, and the Food Bank for New York City's Culinary Council. I have recently started to help promote UNICEF's incredible Kid Power initiative, in which kids are given fit bands and a tablet with an app, so they can track their activity. Those that go over 10,000 steps a day accrue points that turn into $$ from corporate sponsors that buy nutrition packs to feed malnourished kids around the world. So kids are getting more active, learning to be philanthropists, and literally saving lives. It's a win-win.
Chef D: Is there something in your line of career that you haven't done but want to do in the near future. 
Tanya: Professional ski jumper. Umm....just kidding. That sounds terrifying.  I just want to continue to grow the projects I have, travel the world, helping people to feel empowered and inspired to fulfill their own potential and feel great about themselves so they can pay if forward. 

Chef D: Can you share with us something that people may not know about Tanya Steel that you can share with us. 
Tanya: I can cook anything but I can't really style food to make it look great. I am all thumbs.
Chef D: And finally my favorite question of all.. When at home with friends and family, what is the one dish that is a favorite. Can you share the recipe with us. 
Tanya: Yowsa. That's a hard question as I always like to try new things. I cook healthy 90% of the time, even on holidays. I tend to make a few things every Sunday so I can quickly pull them out of the fridge the following nights and ratatouille is one of them. It gets better with sitting in the fridge for a day, is super healthy, and very filling. This recipe is from one of my two cookbooks, Real Food for Healthy Kids (Morrow, 2008).

Harvest Ratatouille
This vegetable stew, a Provencal classic, is slow-cooked, so it melts in your mouth. See Cooks Notes for ideas on how to make it a main course. 
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Makes 9 cups; 8 to 10 side-dish servings

2 medium eggplant (10 to 12 ounces each), quartered and cut into 1/2-inch dice (not necessary to peel)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 (28 ounce) can Italian peeled tomatoes
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 small zucchini (about 1 1/4 pounds), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick crosswise
1 large yellow bell pepper: trimmed and seeded; thinly sliced and cut in half
1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and minced 
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place the eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with the salt and toss to coat; let stand in the sink for 15 minutes. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry well with a kitchen towel. 
  2. Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes in a sieve set over a bowl, reserving the juice. Halve and seed the tomatoes, scraping the seeds into the sieve. Coarsely dice the tomato flesh and then add to the bowl with the juice and reserve. 
  3. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a non-stick 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add the zucchini and cook, stirring often until golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer to 4 to 6-quart pot. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and the eggplant to the skillet and cook, stirring, until soft and golden, about 4 minutes. Add to the zucchini in the pot.
  4. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic and cook, stirring, over medium heat until softened, about 6 minutes. Add to the pot. Add the tomato and juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover with a lid, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cooks’ Note:
You can serve the ratatouille over whole-wheat pasta, rice, polenta, and, if desired, top the ratatouille with mozzarella or Swiss cheese and microwave until heated through.

Per cup:
135 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated), 14g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 3g protein

Click here to donate to UNICEF:

Click here to donate to Share Our Strength:

 A big thank you to Tanya for participating in One on One!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Broccoli, Jalapeño & Sharp Cheddar Soup

I had made this soup at work last week and loved it so much that I had to make it at home. It's a delicious soup with a punch of jalapeño heat at the end. It is definitely a great soup to have on a cold day. With the winter season here this is the go-to soup. 

Broccoli, Jalapeño & Sharp Cheddar Soup  

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4-5 jalapeno peppers, diced
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth (+ more as desired)
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Sharp Cheddar cheese for serving
Cooking Directions
    1. Heat a large pot to medium heat. add butter and melt.
    2. Add onion and jalapeno peppers. Cook about 4 minutes to soften.
    3. Add butter and stir to form a roux. Cook about 2 minutes to brown.
    4. Add milk and heavy cream. Stir to mix well.
    5. Add chicken broth and broccoli. Bring to a light boil, then reduce heat to low.
    6. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes, or until everything is nice and tender.
    7. Stir in cheese and allow to melt.
    8. You can season with salt and pepper and serve it like, this, nice and chunky, or opt to blend it. I use a stick blender with mine and get it nice and creamy, then season.
    9. Serve topped with grated sharp sharp cheddar cheese 

    Sunday, 2 November 2014

    Dark Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Cake

    I made this cake on my day off, and there maybe only one piece left of the whole cake. The kids have gobbled it all up. That's how good it is. Enough said, get in that kitchen and make one for your family. Do it!!! 

    Dark Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Cake

    1¾ cups all purpose flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    ½ tsp salt
    ¼ tsp pumpkin spice
    ½ cup  unsalted butter, softened
    1¼ cups sugar
    3 eggs
    1 cup canned pumpkin puree
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/3 cup milk
    1 cup dark chocolate chunks 

    8 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature 
    8 Tbl spoons of unsalted butter, room temperature 
    2 cups of icing sugar sifted
    2 tsp pumpkin spice
    1 tsp vanilla extract


    Heat the oven to 350F. Coat the inside of a 9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour.
    Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl.
    Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
    With the mixer on medium low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Stir in the milk.
    Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, ½ cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the dark chocolate chunks.
    Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack and then turn it right side up on a rack to cool completely.
    Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for up to 1 week.

    Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting:
    In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the pumpkin spice and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined.

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