What's Cooking - 2014

December’s Choice

Cucina Chicken & Tortollini

Cucina is Italian for kitchen. This is an easy meal using items you already have in your kitchen, hence the name. Serve with a crisp fresh salad and tortellini or fettuccine pasta smothered in marinara. Add fresh Italian bread and a bottle of crisp white wine and you will create a beautiful evening.

Cucina Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp. salt
½ – ¾ cup flour
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. chicken stock
2 tsp. dried thyme
4 tsp. grated Parmesan
4 tbsp. red pasta sauce
2 tbsp. dried oregano

Dissolve salt in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken comfortably. Add chicken. Cover with more water. Marinate in the refrigerator 4-8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F

Drain chicken, and then pat dry. Pour flour into a paper or plastic bag. Grind in pepper. Shake to combine ingredients. Add 1 breast, gently shake to coat. Continue until all breasts are coated.

Melt butter into olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Shake excess four from chicken and carefully add the breasts to the hot oil. Fry chicken to a light golden brown on both sides.

Arrange the browned chicken on a baking sheet lined with buttered parchment paper or sprayed with Pam.

Dribble chicken stock over each breast. Sprinkle with thyme and parmesan cheese. Top with 1 tbsp. pasta sauce on each breast. Freely shake oregano across the chicken.

Bake 10 minutes and serve.

Fall is in the air and it’s time to plan heartier meals. So I invited my longtime friend and multi-genre author Emma Lane to share her latest culinary creation. The stove is all yours, Emma.

October’s Choice

This recipe is only a guideline for making a delicious lunch or main dish during harvest time when fresh vegetables are available. The list of vegetables is easily amendable to whatever your harvest brings. (Not beets!) Be sure to add nurturing bread like corn bread or crackers for a more substantial meal. (Okay, I used corn chex mix, but that was an emergency) A green salad is always a welcome addition.

Fresh Vegetable Soup

1 diced onion (not mild and NOT garlic.)
½ diced green pepper (sweet)
2 chopped celery stalks (all sand removed)
1 fat carrot peeled and chopped
Corn kernels (1-2 ears fresh)
1 can diced tomato or 1 lg. chopped fresh
1½ cups fresh green beans chopped (strings removed)
1 can Campbell’s Chicken and Rice soup or 1 cup soup stock, beef or chicken
½ pound hamburger (I use ground chuck) or left over 1 cup chopped meat or chicken
1 med. potato chopped into small cubes (or 2 small)
1 beef or chicken bouillon cube (or 2 if stronger broth is desired.)
Sprig fresh thyme or pinch or two dried
Sprig of oregano or pinch of dried
Small sprig of basil or pinch of dried
Sprig of parsley (flat not curly)

Optional Veggies: okra, green peas, yellow squash, small can chick peas
Optional herbs/spices: pinch of chili pepper, tiny clove of garlic, sprig of cilantro

Tip: if you use fresh herbs tie together with kitchen string to make removal easier.

Sauté meat and set aside.

Wash and chop vegetables.

Fill large pot halfway with water (more or less as needed, but NOT at the last minute as it weakens the broth). Add onions and celery. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add carrots, corn, tomatoes, potato, soup stock or Campbell’s, bouillon cube, sprigs of herbs (remove before serving). Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add meat. Simmer for 10 more minutes.

Veggies will be somewhat crisp. Cook longer if desired. As it sits the flavor will increase. But cool and refrigerate if it’s going to be longer than a few hours before serving.

Here’s a brief intro to one of my Regency books to check out while the soup is simmering.

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate. Will the strong-willed couple reconcile their differences and unmask a traitor in time to find their own happily ever after partnership?

To read an excerpt from any of Emma Lane’s books please click a vendor’s name
Musa PublishingAmazon

Regency Romance author Emma Lane lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

August’s Choice

Here is a wonderful summer dinner for two. This chicken salad recipe originated with my longtime friend Ann. Over the years I’ve added and deleted ingredients to suit our changing tastes. I hope you enjoy the meal as much as Studs and I do.

• Chicken Salad
• Chilled Asparagus Spears
• Red Grape Clusters
• Croissants
• Crisp White Wine

Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

1 cooked boneless chicken breast (preferably boiled) cooled and torn into bite-size pieces
1 avocado, peeled and sliced into eighths
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
¼ cup celery, chopped fine
Red onion, sliced thin, quantity to taste
Lemon pepper to taste
¼ tsp. dried basil
¼ cup slivered almonds, optional
Mayonnaise to your preferred consistency

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Gently stir well.

Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Chilled Asparagus Spears

8 fresh asparagus spears per person
Chicken stock
Splash white wine
Tap water

Lay the asparagus onto a cutting board. Be sure all the tops are even. Cut off an inch or two from the bottom of the stalks.

Insert a steamer into a medium-size saucepan. Add enough stock to come half way to the steaming holes at the bottom, then splash in the wine. Top off with water so the liquid is just below the holes.

Place asparagus in steamer, cover, and bring liquid to a full boil. Shut off heat and allow the pan to sit for 3-4 minutes.

While the asparagus steam prepare an ice bath. Use a bowl large enough to hold the asparagus without crowding. Set the bowl in your sink and fill with cold water and ice cubes.

When the steam time has passed immediately remove the asparagus from the pot and plunge them in the ice bath for 1 minute. Remove asparagus to paper towels and dry well. Place the spears on a plate, cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Red Grape Clusters

Rinse the grapes under cool water. Using sharp scissors, clip the stems into small clusters. Place them in a colander with a plate beneath and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Arranging the Plates

Divide the chicken salad in half. Spoon onto one side of each dinner plate, but don’t spread thin. A little mound is attractive. Lay the asparagus spears across the center of the plate parallel to the chicken. Place grape clusters next to asparagus. Serve the croissants on bread plates. Be sure to toast each other often with the wine.:)

Studs and I have served this meal many times to family and friends. They’re always surprised to learn the meal is actually Italian. This is also a perfect meal to dine al fresco on a summer evening.

June’s Choice

• Mustard Chicken
• Curly Pasta
• Parmesan Cheese
• Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
• Fresh Italian Bread
• Dry White Wine – Soave Bolla

Mustard Chicken

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
8 tbsp. butter, melted
¼ cup Dijon mustard
4 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
2 rounded tbsp. brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp. paprika
3 tbsp. poppy seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Lay chicken into an ovenproof dish.

Combine all ingredients, except poppy seeds and pasta, in a small bowl. Coat the chicken evenly with half the mixture. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove dish from the oven and carefully turn over the chicken. Cost the chicken with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle on the poppy seeds. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes.

Serves 4


1 lb. campanelle pasta, shells, or other curly pasta

Cook per package directions. Be sure to cook al dente.

Arrange the Dish

Ladle drained pasta into a serving dish. Add some of the juice from the cooked chicken and stir. Lay the chicken across the pasta. Pour the remaining sauce over the top.

Add a bowl of freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the table for your guests to sprinkle on the chicken and pasta.

Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Red leaf lettuce
Romaine lettuce
Head lettuce
Tomato chunks

Use two leaves of each type lettuce and half a tomato per person. Combine in a bowl. Cover with a damp paper and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Creamy Garlic Dressing

1 ½ cups mayonnaise – it must be real mayo, not Miracle Whip
Scant ½ cup vegetable oil
Scant ¼ cup white vinegar
3 tbsp. chopped onion
¾ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
4 big gloves garlic pressed

Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Mix on high until smooth.

Keeps two week in refrigerator. Store on bottom shelf.

To serve either toss with your salad or arrange the salad on individual chilled plates and ladle a dollop on top.


This month we have another fast and easy dinner. Add tossed salad with the dressing from last month’s menu and crisp white wine like a Riesling for a wonderful meal your family will want time and again.

May’s Choice

•Seared Tilapia
•Baked Potatoes
•Tossed Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
•Semi-Dry White Wine – Riesling

Baked Potatoes

1 Idaho potato per person
olive oil
sour cream
fresh chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Rinse potatoes in cool water then wipe dry. Stab each potato in 6 or 7 different locations to allow steam to escape and stop the vegetable from exploding.

Coat the potatoes with a small amount of oil. Set them on a cookie sheet you’ve covered with aluminum foil.

Roast in the oven for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick may be easily inserted in the potato.

Serve with butter, sour cream, chives, and pepper.

Seared Tilapia

¼ cup flour
3 tilapia filets or any mild white fish
4 tbsp. butter
1 lime, ends trimmed and sliced into thin circles
1 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained

Pour flour into a paper or plastic bag. Add one filet and gently shake the bag to coat fish. Shake to remove excess flour and set filet on a plate. Do the same with the next fillet skillet.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium – large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lime to skillet. Cook until lime is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Push limes to the side.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the fish. Fry until the tilapia flakes easily, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Add the remaining butter and capers. Remove skillet from the heat and tilt the pan to swirl the butter until it melts.

Transfer the fish and limes to individual plates. Spoon the caper and butter sauce over the top.

This is an easy dish that won’t break the bank. It’s also the perfect meal for any day of the week. Leftovers don’t freeze well. But the dish stays fresh for two days in the refrigerator and nukes beautifully.

April’s Choice

• Chicken Thighs with an Italian Flair
• Curly Pasta
• Tossed Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
• Dry White Wine – Pinot Grigio

Chicken Thighs with an Italian Flair

Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless 1 or 2 per person
Prosciutto 1 thin slice for each thigh
Olive oil
Medium-sized can tomato sauce
¼ – 1 cup dry white wine, the amount depends on how many thighs you cook.
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Handful fresh basil or 1 tbsp. dried

Gently pound the thighs to a slightly thinner size between two pieces of waxed paper. Sprinkle lightly with marjoram.

Lay prosciutto onto thighs and gently pound.

Pour flour into a paper bag. Place one thigh at a time inside bag and shake gently. Remove thigh to a plate while you flour the remaining thighs.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium- high heat until it shimmers. Carefully add the thighs chicken side down. Fry until nicely browned. Turn the meat to finish frying. Regulate the heat so the chicken browns and not burn.

Pour the tomato sauce over the chicken. Add the wine, basil, and gently stir. Sprinkle a good amount of cheese across the top. Heat through.

To Serve:
Place chicken on a plate along with your favorite curly pasta. Ladle the pan juices over the pasta. Be sure to have a bowl of grated cheese on the table!

Curly Pasta

Either fresh or boxed pasta cooked according to package directions

Tossed Salad

Red leaf lettuce
Romaine lettuce
Head lettuce
Tomato chunks
Cucumber chunks

Plan two leaves of each type lettuce and half a tomato per person. Combine in a bowl. Cover with a damp paper and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Creamy Garlic Dressing

1½ cups mayonnaise – it must be real mayo, not Miracle Whip
½ cup vegetable oil
Scant ¼ cup white vinegar
3 tbsp. chopped onion
¾ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
4 big gloves garlic pressed

Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Mix on high until smooth.

The dressing keeps for up two weeks in the refrigerator. Store on bottom shelf.

To serve either toss with your salad or arrange the salad on individual chilled plates and ladle a dollop on top.

Here’s an easy and tasty dinner that brings the flavor of Germany into your kitchen.

February’s Choice

• Pork Schnitzel
• Boiled Potatoes
• Roasted Asparagus
• Dry White Wine – Riesling

Pork Schnitzel

2 boneless pork loin chops
½ cup all-purpose flour
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large egg
¼ cup milk
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme or ¼ tsp. dried
Lemon wedges – optional

Place each chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Use a mallet or the side of a meat tenderizer to gently pound them until they are an even ¼ inch thick.

Combine flour and pepper in a shallow dish, plate, or paper bag. Whisk egg and milk in another dish. Pour Panko into a third dish.

Dredge the chops in flour, then egg mixture, and finally Panko. Press the breadcrumbs onto the pork so there is an even coating.

Lay the breaded pork on a plate lined with parchment or waxed paper. Set in the refrigerator uncovered for a half hour. This dries the coating and allows it to adhere during cooking.

Add oil and butter to a 10” skillet over medium-high heat.

If using fresh thyme, add the sprigs and fry for 1 minute to infuse the oil. Remove thyme and discard.

If you use dried thyme, sprinkle it on the pork before adding to the pan.

Lay the meat into the pan and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Adjust heat as needed so as not to burn the coating.

Set the cooked meat on a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.

Garnish with lemon slices too serve.

Boiled Potatoes

Small red potatoes- plan 2 or 3 per person
Bay leaf
Canned or fresh chicken stock

Pour about 2 inches of chicken stock into a pot. Wash potatoes under cool water. Peel one strip from around the middle set in the pot. Pour in enough water to cover potatoes by one inch. Add bay leaf.

Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a slow boil and cook until fork tender about 20 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and drain well. Add butter and mix with a wooden spoon to coat the potatoes.

Keep warm in the pot until you’re ready to serve.

Roasted Asparagus

Asparagus – plan 7 per person
Olive oil
Garlic powder to taste, but use sparingly
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Break off the tough bottoms as far down as the stalks snap easily. Rinse and lay on paper towels to dry.

Place the spears on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Gently toss them.

Roast in upper third of your oven for 4 minutes. Gently toss them again. Bake for 4 minutes. Keep a close eye on the asparagus so it does not get too brown.

To all you faithful grillers who trudge in the snow to cook the perfect meat, I present my Canadian buddy Sharon Ledwith and her amazing recipe with the sauce we can’t get enough of. The kitchen and patio are all yours, Sharon.

January’s Choice

What can I say, ribs – a favorite of Grill Warriors everywhere.

Ribs conjure up images of cook-offs and eat-to-the-death contests at festivals and fairs. Here’s a sweet and spicy rib recipe that will make your neighbors jealous, and your friends and family get down on their knees to beg you to make every time they visit. The secret is in the sauce, and most people can’t get enough of it! It takes fifteen minutes to prep, with a cook time of two hours and is ready in three hours, fifteen minutes. In the end, you’ll have enough ribs to serve eight, but will most likely kick yourself (or be kicked) for not preparing extra!

Backwoods Barbecue Ribs

4 pounds pork spareribs (we use back ribs)
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup Heinz® Ketchup
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup rum (we use amber or dark)
½ cup Heinz® Chili Sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 dash ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).

Cut spareribs into serving size portions, wrap in double thickness of foil, and bake for 1½ hours. Unwrap, and drain drippings. Place ribs in a large roasting pan.

In a bowl mix together brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rum, chili sauce, garlic, mustard, and pepper. Coat ribs with sauce and marinate at room temperature for one hour, OR refrigerate overnight.

Preheat grill for medium temperature. Position grate four inches above heat source.

Brush grill grate with oil. Place ribs on grill, and cook for thirty minutes, basting with marinade.

WARNING—if eating outside, anything with wings (fairies included) will end up sticking to your hands, fingers, or face, so make sure you have plenty of napkins or wipes on hand.



There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

To read an excerpt from Legend of the Timekeepers please click HERE.


If you haven’t already read Sharon Ledwith’s novel, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, here’s the blurb…

When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they’re given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn’t a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers–legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial–Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don’t, then history itself may be turned upside down.

To read an excerpt of The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, please click HERE.

Check out The Last Timekeepers series Facebook Page.

Buy Links

Musa Publishing | Amazon Link | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

When Sharon Ledwith is not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.