Baked Caramel Flan

Another wonderful summer has come and gone without Mom in our lives.  It’s hard to believe next month will be six years since her death.  She’d be amazed that her grand daughter (my daughter) — the little 6-year old girl she last saw coloring get well pictures on the floor of her hospital room–is now taller than me, has finished losing her teeth and wearing braces, and is entering 7th grade.

Her grandson is no longer the stumbling 3-year old boy but rather a very caring, creative, intelligent 9-year old.  As the years slip by, we’re desperately trying to hold onto the memories she left us but, it’s hard.

Thankfully, she’s very much alive in our kitchen.

This past holiday weekend, part of the family got together to relax and spend some quality time.  We’ve all settled in different states so the limited time we have together is highly cherished.  There was no question that the first meal we’d share together had to be mom’s Garlic Chicken— hands down everyone’s favorite and certainly one of her most memorable dishes.  For the last meal of the weekend, we decided to replicate a version of her Flan recipe.

As children, Mom’s flan was a show-stopper.   After many of her dinner parties — for which she personally cooked all of the dishes–she’d present her flan.  She’d turn off the lights to the room and walk in carrying the gorgeous flan lit on fire.  The blue hue of the flame (induced by the rum that she’d douse all over the top of the dish) created a magical aura that would stop conversation and instill a moment of peaceful silence.  The flan itself was amazing (if you like the custard-like consistency of the dessert).

As we were recreating the flan, I thought once again of the cycle of life.  Mom’s oldest grandson (now 14 1/2) was spearheading the process with her youngest grandson (now 9).  As they took joy in caramelizing the sugar and beating the eggs, I couldn’t help but imagine Mom going through those same exercises in her kitchen in Baltimore.

alexxjacobMom’s oldest and youngest grandchildren recreating her celebrated dish

caramelized sugarCaramelized sugar

flan jacobPouring egg/cream mixture atop caramelized sugar

baked flanfinal flans baked to perfection

We then watched my father lovingly pour the celebratory layer of rum atop the completed dish. We turned off the lights and stood mesmerized at the shimmering blue flame — Mom’s spirit.

flan flameour flan aflame

I’m not sure our flan tasted nearly as good as Mom’s but then again, does anything ever taste as good as the memories?

Enjoy this simple, rich and creamy recipe for Caramel Flan.  It pairs well with any dish and when served cold, it’s very refreshing.



Grilled Tilapia with Dijon

Grilled Tilapia

We’re desperately holding on to summer even though so many kids have already started school. We’ve got one week left so that means we’ve been firing up the grill every single day.

I realized that while we have been grilling a ton this summer, it’s mostly been meats— flank steak, burgers, chicken— the basics (for me). Remember, three summers ago I was petrified of the grill and never used it but, now I’m I’ve been donned grill master of the household.

Doing some research I realized the last time I cooked with tilapia was when my daughter was 9.  I made some tasty Broiled Tilapia in our small apartment oven.  She’s now 12 1/2!  YIKES.  I was ready to try a new dish since I had successfully convinced my kids (over 3 years ag0) that not all fish tastes fishy.

Grilling a fish is so easy, because as I always say to my kids, with a light and flaky fillet, the fish will taste like whatever you put ON it.

For the fillet I was hovering between sole, tilapia or flounder. We do LOVE swordfish and tuna but, they’re steaks and we were looking for fillets.  I picked tilapia because the fillets looked great in the market and, they’re SUPER cheap too.

For a quick and easy dish, you can always just spread your fillets in some olive oil, white wine, lemon juice and salt, and pepper to taste. Grilling takes mere minutes on high heat.

Last night I decided to make some Dijon Tilapia Fillets. We all love Dijon mustard so I figured there was a 50% chance we’d all love the dish that’s the conduit for the mustard. Then I just got creative and I added in some bread crumbs (to enhance the texture and give it a little crunch) and they were delicious.

Try it for yourself and don’t forget to get adventurous with your fish dishes too!



Beef, Kale and Vegetable Stew


I asked Serena, author of celebrated soup blog Seriously Soupy, to share a soup recipe that can help bridge the gap between the end of summer and the kick off to the new school year.  Because, who isn’t searching for easy, time-saving recipes when the afternoon schedules are frenetic.

We love Serena’s Beef, Kale and Vegetable soup and there’s nothing better than serving a hearty soup that functions as a complete meal too.  We hope you enjoy!

Here’s what Serena has to say:

While I love the light summer soups, there is something so comforting of the meal-in-a-bowl option that makes for a wonderful dinner option. Personally, I love rich vegetable soups so I added peas, carrots, potatoes and crunchy kale as well as a base of tomatoes and onions. I also added in some lean beef and rice, which can be easily modified to another type of meat or no meat for vegetarians. Enjoy!


About Serena the author of the celebrated  blog called Seriously Soupy: Serena started Seriously Soupy as a creative outlet for herself after her first daughter was born, which combined her passion for cooking with an interest in learning more about soups and soup making.  Since it started, she has given soup tours and taught soup classes and has a catalog of over 100 soups on the site!  You can join Serena on her Soupy journey at and twice a month you can find her here, at My Judy the Foodie, sharing her wisdom and helping demystify the world of soup.



Whole Foods Freezer Tips & Tricks

wholefoods 365 logo

With the school year upon us, time, patience and creativity will ultimately become our adversaries in the kitchen.  Wouldn’t we love to serve our families fresh, delicious homemade meals every night? Often we’ll find ourselves short on time and ideas.

Don’t fret.  You can make the freezer your secret weapon this back-to-school season.

If you live near a Whole Foods Market, (if you don’t you can still use these idea starters for your meals) you’re in luck.  I’m not sure a week goes by without a visit to the market.With a visit to Whole Foods Market, where I’ve discovered my freezer’s potential by planning healthy, flavorful meals in advance and I love the 365 Everyday Value® products.  You can fill your freezer (and pantry) without emptying your pocketbook. With value prices every day of the year, it’s just become easier for you to stock on on some of the best products without sacrificing your wallet!

Here are some suggestions:

You can start the day off right by getting your fruits and veggies first thing in the morning.  Prepare a great breakfast with the 365 Everyday Value® line of organic frozen fruits and veggies— all free of artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. Create an easy morning smoothie, or simply defrost some frozen fruit and toss in your yogurt or oatmeal.

Lunch and Dinner
When it comes to lunch and dinner planning, high-quality meals can be arranged simply and quickly with the proper preparation.
Whole Foods Market leads the industry in seafood sustainability, and the freezer section is no exception. The retailer’s expanding selection of frozen items conveniently offers shoppers high-quality seafood with exceptional value:
·      Whole Catch® Fillets are available in Sockeye Salmon, Mahi Mahi, Turbot and Monkfish. The fillets are all wild caught, vacuum-packed and flash frozen, so home cooks can make as much as they need and save the rest for another meal. Try this Easy Teriyaki Salmon Rice Bowl for dinner in a flash.
·      Whole Catch® Crunchy & Peppery Popcorn Shrimp is great finger food to make seafood fun for the whole family.
·      365 Everyday Value® Lightly Breaded Calamari is great on its own with cocktail sauce, or use it to make this Crispy Calamari Lettuce Wraps for lunch or a light dinner.

Another easy go-to freezer staple is Whole Foods Market’s frozen meat, which is not only a great value, but is also in convenient freezer-ready vacuum packs to avoid spoilage. Plus, all meat sold in Whole Foods Market’s meat case has been raised on a vegetarian diet without antibiotics or added hormones. Some specific frozen options include:
·      Nature’s Rancher Ready-to-Cook Chicken Burgers are a great weeknight meal option. Serve with seasonal vegetables or add 365 Everyday Value® Organic Frozen Sweet Yellow Corn atop your burger.
·      Nature’s Rancher Hot Dogs are a favorite for the whole family. If you want to spice it up for the adults, use with this Homemade Fennel Mustard recipe.
·      365 Everyday Value® Meatless Burgers are the perfect option for the vegan or vegetarian at your dinner table. A good source of fiber and protein, these vegan burgers have no cholesterol or saturated fat—making them a healthy meal option for the whole family.
·      Nature’s Rancher USDA Certified Black Angus Beef Burgers are a great option for family meals or even a quick tailgate because they’re pre-grilled to perfection and frozen to lock in flavor. Just heat and eat!

And last, but certainly not least, are the grains and vegetables! 365 Everyday Value® frozen organic vegetables are frozen at the peak of freshness and are a fraction of the cost. You cook veggies with 365 Everyday Value® Organic Brown Rice for a quick and nutritious dinner.

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated by Whole Foods Market to write this post.  I am a HUGE fan of Whole Foods and their 365 brands of products and simply wanted to share my experiences.



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