Signed Cookbook – Black Friday and BEYOND…

THIS is happening NOW! I will personally SIGN a COOKBOOK to you. Purchase through my website – – between NOW and Friday, December 12 and I’m all yours! Makes a great holiday gift for the food lovers in your life. (PS. I’m looking at YOU!) Just enter in the recipient’s name in the “Special Instructions to the Seller” on the “Review Your Information” page and I will personally sign it to whomever you choose. Great Food Starts Fresh is a Washington Post “Top Cookbook”. Makes a great holiday gift. 135 recipes for all types of foodies: beginner to experienced, vegan and vegetarian to gluten free and paleo and more!

cookbook special

Double Chocolate Orange Zest Cake with Ganache Frosting

Who doesn’t love chocolate cake?! The key to this beauty is a good quality chocolate. That’s why I prefer  to use TCHO (pronounced CHO). I just love the quality, flavor and the way it melts, bakes, slathers… you get the idea. It’s made right in Oakland, California and you can order online or find it at your local Whole Foods. It may be more expensive than a Hershey’s bar, but you don’t get any funky ingredients (it’s organic) and, in the end, aren’t you worth the extra deliciousness? I say YES!


Double Choc Orange Cake1 Double Choc Orange Cake3 Double Choc Orange Cake2


Double Chocolate Orange Zest Cake with Ganache Frosting


Yield: 2 9-inch cakes


1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces, plus more for preparing the cake pans

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar

7-ounces good quality chocolate, 50- to 60% cocoa solids, chopped finely

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest

¾ cup sour cream


Prepare 2 9-inch round cake pans by buttering the bottom and sides of the pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper (cut to size of bottom of pan). Press the parchment to the bottom of the pans so it sticks. Next, butter the parchment paper. Finally, dust the inside of the pans evenly with all-purpose flour, knocking out and discarding any excess flour.

Set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the 1½ sticks of butter pieces and sugars to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Set mixer on medium and cream butter and sugar for 10 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through to ensure thorough mixing.

While the butter and sugar are mixing, prepare the chocolate and dry ingredients.

First, place the chopped chocolate in a medium glass or metal bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until just barely a simmer is achieved. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate (in the bowl) and let sit for 2 minutes. Stir slowly with a rubber spatula or spoon until fully incorporated (yum). Set aside.

Prepare the dry ingredients by adding the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and the 2 cups of all-purpose flour to a medium bowl. Whisk together until fully incorporated.

Head back to the stand mixer. Once the 10 minutes are up, scrape the sides down again. Turn mixer back to medium and add eggs, one at a time, until they are incorporated.

Increase speed to medium-high and let mix for 1 minute until a light and creamy texture is achieved.

Stop mixer and pour in the melted chocolate, Grand Marnier and the orange zest. Mix on medium speed until fully combined. Turn mixer on low.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the mix and mix until just barely incorporated. Next, add half of the sour cream. Mix until just barely incorporated. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until just barely incorporated. Add the rest of the sour cream and mix again until just barely incorporated. Finally, add the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Turn off the mixer and give a good stir with a rubber spatula scraping the bottom of the bowl of the stand mixer to make sure all the ingredients are well combined.

Divide the batter in half into the prepared cake pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula.

Place in oven and bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick or knife comes out clean when poked in the middle of the cake.

Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a parchment-lined cookie rack. Once inverted, remove the bottom layer of parchment paper.

Let cool completely before applying ganache frosting.




Ganache Frosting (makes enough to frost 2 cakes)

6-ounces good quality chocolate beckels, 50- to 60% cocoa solids, chopped finely

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons butter, diced small


Place the chopped chocolate in a medium glass or metal bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until just barely a simmer is achieved. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate (in the bowl) and let sit for 2 minutes. Stir slowly with a rubber spatula or spoon until incorporated. Add butter and stir until fully combined. Using an offset spatula frost tops and sides of the cakes.






Grilled Chicken Thighs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

What’s perfect with homemade barbecue sauce? How about some grilled chicken? Yup, it’s definitely summer now!

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce


Grilled Chicken Thighs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Yield: 3 to 5 servings


2 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

One batch of homemade barbecue sauce*


Pat the chicken thighs dry and season with salt and pepper. Let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place half of the barbecue sauce in a small bowl. Refrigerate the other half for enjoying later!

Heat the grill to a medium-high flame. Once hot, clean the grill, then, using tongs, lightly dip a cloth in olive oil and wipe to coat the grill rack.

Using tongs, add the chicken thighs to the grill. Do not reposition the chicken once on the grill. Set a timer and cook the chicken for 2 minutes. Flip the thighs and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.

Flip again and brush with homemade barbecue sauce. Then set your timer for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, flip again and brush with sauce. Set your timer and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Depending on the thickness of your chicken thighs and the heat of your grill (including hot and cold spots on your grill), you will continue the process of flipping, brushing and cooking for 2 minutes anywhere between 16 and 22 minutes.

How do you know when the thighs are done? Place a digital thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. You are looking for an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, go grab one online or at your local kitchen store. (This thermometer is my favorite – by ThermoWorks.) If you find yourself without a digital thermometer, you can also test doneness by cutting into the thighs; the juices should run clear.

Remove the chicken and place on a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.


*If there is any leftover barbecue sauce in the small bowl that you have been brushing the chicken, be sure to discard to avoid any cross contamination. You can use your reserve batch if you want some extra for serving.


Week of recipes in review: asparagus, chocolate, cherries and strawberries

Just in case you missed last week’s recipes and/or are trying to plan your weekend menu and shopping list, don’t forget about these goodies which I posted on my blog last week.


Recipes in Review June 16 Week

Strawberry Kale Salad (top left)

Vanilla Cherry Clafoutis (top right)

Angel Hair Pasta with Asparagus, Lemon and Ricotta (bottom right)