Cooking Class – Jessi and friends

Last September Jessi and Jamil invited us to teach a cooking class. It was the second class we taught and the first one that wasn’t family. Jessi and I went to middle school together, and thanks to Facebook, reconnected a couple of years ago.

It must have gone well…they invited us back! Two other couples joined us (one arrived just as we were finishing cooking, but they had a good excuse!). This group can already cook but they’re looking for new ideas and things to implement in their routine meals.

This time, they had a brand new kitchen. Isn’t it beautiful?

Andy came along and doesn’t do much of the cooking but he takes pictures which I love. This time though, he was also the grill guy. What a sport.

On the menu was Caprese with Balsamic Glaze, Polenta Bites with Garlic Aioli, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Risotto, and Roasted Cherry Brownies.

Click on the pictures below for a slideshow.

After we finished cooking, we sat around the table, ate, and chatted for long time. We all had fun. What a great crew!

Thanks again Jessi, Jamil, Katie, Mark, Grace and Nathan. Can’t wait for the next time!


Mozzarella and Tomatoes – Post #1 – Caprese Salad

We’re kinda lucky. My parents had an overabundance of tomatoes from their garden and we had friends offer us fresh basil anytime! We ate of these perfect summer treats for a few days. I never, ever tire of Caprese Salad, but I don’t mind changing it up a bit either. I’ve got three recipes on three separate posts for you.

1. Caprese Salad – garden fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil leaves, olive oil, and a sweet balsamic dressing
2. Arugula Caprese Salad with Maple Bacon – Arugula, tomato, mozzarella, basil, maple bacon, and a sweet balsamic dressing
3. Chicken Caprese Grilled Sandwiches –  fresh bread, pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil leaves, grilled to yumminess
First up, my twist on the traditional Caprese Salad. I love a sweeter balsamic vinegar. For this recipe, I combine balsamic vinegar with brown sugar into almost a syrup. It adds a richness to the traditional salad.




10 beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes slices

10 mozzarella slices, about 1/4″ thick

10 basil leaves

1/2 C balsamic vinegar

1/2 C brown sugar

extra virgin olive oil, to taste

salt and pepper to taste


1. Combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in small pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 min or until it coats the back of a spoon. Place in bowl, cover, and let cool in refrigerator for 3o min.

2. Layer a slice of tomatoes, mozzarella then basil. Repeat with remaining slices.

3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle oil and balsamic reduction.


Depending on your quality of balsamic vinegar and the sweetness you desire, 1/2 C of brown sugar may be too sweet. The “better” your vinegar, the sweeter it is. Adjust the sugar accordingly.