Swallowtail Butterfly

Just this morning look who came to visit… wish I would have taken a better shot of this beautiful swallowtail butterfly. Looks like something was munching on a wing ūüôā You can see the straw-like tongue trying to slurp up the nectar of the flowers. I really think it recently left its chrysalis as it just seemed like it was just learning to fly and was a little slow. I got quite close to it before it flew off in search of more “meals”.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #185

One of my swallowtail caterpillars made it full cycle… from an egg, to a caterpillar, pupa then full grown as a butterfly.

They just love parsley and dill too…

Grilled Lamb Kebobs with Roasted Garlic and Sumac Tzatziki

Whole Foods had some beautiful, boned legs of lamb recently and I thought about the different recipes I might make.¬† I don’t make a big roast any more as there are not enough people to eat it. I thought about a curry recipe I wanted to try, maybe an Irish stew and since it’s still grilling season kebobs sounded good. I trimmed quite a bit of the fat off!

Also, I wanted to make this flavorful tzatziki recipe to go along with the lamb. Just wait until you try it!


Credit for the lamb kebobs goes to chowhound who posted Zaytinya Restaurant in Washington, D.C. recipe. The tzatziki recipe comes from Food and Wine courtesy of Eli and Max Sussman. I have adapted each slightly.

I have not been happy with any tzatziki recipe I have tried but once I saw this version I knew it would be delicious. Roasted garlic and sumac – two different ingredients that were going to kick this tzatziki up a notch!

I like to grill veggies at the same time so I chose zucchini and red onions.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #184.

Anyways, here goes:

Grilled Lamb Kebobs

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt (I used Greek as that is what I had)
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 lb. leg of lamb meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • I grilled some zucchini and red onion chunks as well (optional)
  • Naan bread with garlic is delicious (optional)

Combine the first eight ingredients  and mix well. Add the lamb pieces and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before grilling, about 30 minutes or so. Brush the veggies with olive oil.

I always dab off some of the marinade with paper towels. I like to thread the lamb and veggies on separate skewers. Grill for about 10-15 minutes, turning once, or until desired doneness.

Brush the Naan with oil and grill until lightly browned; cut into pieces.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Roasted Garlic and Sumac Tzatziki

  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 English cucumber (you know the one without the seeds)
  • kosher salt
  • 3 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill, minced
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. sumac (has a tangy lemon flavor but less tart than lemon juice)
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 425¬įF.¬† Cut off the top of a head of garlic and place on a piece of foil. Drizzle with a little olive oil and¬† wrap it up. Roast for about 45 minutes; cool. Squeeze out the cloves and mash until smooth.

Peel the cucumber and grate it on the smallest hole of your grater. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Place the cucumber in a bowl and add 1 tsp. kosher salt; let stand for 10 minutes and remove the liquid again. Add the mashed, roasted garlic to the cucumber. Stir in the remaining olive oil and the rest of the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Swallowtail Caterpillar Enjoying My Parsley


My swallowtail caterpillar before becoming a beautiful butterfly. They just love parsley as there were two on this plant. I took this shot on July 23, 2017! Even though I only have a container garden this year I still can enjoy the beauty of nature. Downsizing from an acre to containers was hard but not quite so bad once I saw these little guys. Yes, they are always welcome in any garden I might have.

Linking to Fiesta Friday and Angie’s beautiful swallowtail butterfly. I just had to share this picture with everyone!

How exciting – I just saw a “baby” caterpillar, only an 1-inch long. The other two big ones are gone, probably 2-inches or more, and happy to be flying around all of the beautiful flowers in the area. Actually, the larva (caterpillar) is the second stage, the third stage is the pupa where they form themselves into a chrysalis and then they become butterflies!!! Note the color differences. This picture below was taken Aug. 4, 2017! Oops – actually it was the lighting!

The picture below was taken Aug. 8, 2017 – this one is eating more and getting fatter. Soon will be heading into the pupa stage (if a bird doesn’t get him first).

Can you tell I am enjoying taking pictures of my caterpillars. This was taken on Aug. 9, 2017.

Chorizo-Potato Tacos

I made sopes awhile ago and froze the leftover chorizo-potato mixture to use later in tacos. I am finally getting around to making these tacos and here they are.  Feel free to add any condiments of your choice. This is really, really good and a favorite base for tacos. If you enjoy spicy Mexican food you will love this.

Chorizo-Potato Tacos

  • Potato-Chorizo Mixture (see recipe below)
  • your favorite salsa (I used Frontera – Rick Bayless) Red Tomato Salsa Mexican with mild green chilies (very good)
  • corn tortillas (6-8″) heated
  • refried beans (optional)
  • green onions, chopped
  • lettuce, shredded
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • cheese, shredded
  • pickled jalapeno slices
  • lime wedges for serving

Chorizo-Potato Mixture:

  • 2 cups Red Bliss potatoes (unpeeled) cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 lb. fresh chorizo
  • 1-1/2 cups onion, finely chopped

Cover the potatoes with water in a saucepan and add 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, or until tender; drain.

Add the chorizo to a large cast iron skillet and cook over medium-high heat, while breaking up the chorizo until the fat begins to render, about 1 minute. Add the onions and continue cooking for another 12 minutes. Add drained potatoes and smash them down and toss until filling is brown, about 10 minutes.

Heat a non-stick skillet and brush lightly with oil.  Cook the corn tortillas on both sides, just a few minutes, until heated through.

Assemble the tacos with your choice of toppings.

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

Linking to Fiesta Friday.


Raspberry Shrub Vinaigrette Over Butterhead Lettuce and Edible Flowers

Last week I mentioned my trip to Philadelphia for a family reunion and having dinner at The City Tavern. Everyone (19 of us) had a great time as we had over 4 hours to catch up with each other and what better way than over food.  Even though the dishes were as accurate as could be to the originals they  did not reflect 18th century tables.  Healthier alternatives were used such as less sugar, salt and fat due to the  increased  health awareness of modern times Рit was all good though!

I’ve posted the Basil Shrimp appetizer (this was part of the First Plate – colonial Americans were not familiar with the word “appetizers”). Now I am going to give you another First Plate; a green salad made with a vinaigrette from a Raspberry Shrub and adorned with edible flowers.

First of all the only “shrub” I have known are what you use as foundation plants around your home or as accent plants. In this case shrubs are a means of preserving fruit before it spoils. You know those fresh berries that are no longer good to pop in your mouth or make a dessert – they can even be a little mushy. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, a shrub syrup was one method of preserving fruit long past its picking.

So when I saw a recipe for a vinaigrette in the cookbook I just bought I decided to make it using my own homemade raspberry shrub syrup. When fruit is on sale I always buy way too much so this was a perfect way for me to use raspberries especially!

Today raspberry vinegar is often used as a salad condiment but in colonial times it was used as a beverage. In addition to all of the wine that was consumed that night at the City Tavern we were served a Raspberry Shrub beverage (non-alcoholic).  This was very popular in Colonial America and mixed with cold water  it was a very refreshing drink. The syrup is basically fruit juice, sugar and some type of acid (vinegar). They can also be made adding alcohol such as brandy or rum.

One simple recipe is to fill your glass with ice, add 3 tbsp. or more raspberry shrub and top with 6-8 oz. of club soda or sparkling water.

In the future I plan to do a post on just shrubs as there are differences from the vinegar based shrubs and more modern day shrubs. Whether they were made out of desire or necessity they have been an important part since Roman times. The more I read about shrubs (yes, I bought a cookbook on just shrubs) and raspberry vinegar the more my interest is tweaked.

NOTE: I did post  Shrubs and Drinking Vinegars Рcheck it out for a great recipe and lots of information.

Back in 2010 Amanda Hesser, one of the founders of Food 52, was a reporter for the New York Times. She wrote an article about raspberry vinegar which appeared in her Recipe Redux column and provided a recipe dating back to 1900. Apparently, Amanda loved it and throughout the summer added it to sparkling water and prosecco. This is the recipe I am working on now and will post later. The information I come across when I start investigating is so interesting.

I will often pick up a cookbook as a souvenir from my travels and this time it was a cookbook of recipes from this famous tavern. After visiting the Liberty Bell – the symbol of freedom, we headed over to the Independence Hall Visitor Center. Lots of mementos to choose from but as usual I went straight for the books and found this cookbook on early American cuisine. By the way I was so surprised with the size of the Liberty Bell – I always imagined it to be bigger.

Each recipe in the City Tavern cookbook includes a little history about the ingredients and their significance in colonial times. That’s why I love my cookbooks as you do not get this kind of information through the internet or Pinterest.

For this salad Thomas Jefferson was mentioned as he loved his salads. This is evidenced by the many vegetables he grew in his 1,000 foot long veggie garden at Monticello located in Charlottesville, Virginia. He also imported olive oil from France to dress his salads so you can imagine how important salads were in his diet.


By the way, Gene and I toured this beautiful mountaintop home of one of our Founding Fathers some¬† years ago. There have¬† been many improvements and restorations done since we were there.¬† I highly recommend you as a gardener/ home cook/chef or just because you like to learn about this country in its early days to find time to tour Monticello, Jefferson’s home.

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson grew cornflowers (or bachelor’s buttons) and nasturtiums for just the purpose of putting them on his salads? He had a love for gardening and really enjoyed the peppery, watercress-like taste of nasturtiums.¬† By 1824 his nasturtium bed increased to 1,800 square feet. I thought I liked nasturtiums but good ole Thomas beat me by a long shot.

Every part of nasturtiums were used in salads; leaves were harvested for the greens, flowers picked for salads and did you know the seeds are what is called “the poor man’s capers”.¬†

Cornflowers have a beautiful blue/purple color to them and add some great contrast in a salad. Both of these flowers are annuals and can be easily grown in the home garden. They do well in containers too! You can use the whole flower or just pick off the petals.

Having recently moved from a house on an acre to a condo (they call it downsizing) I lost all of my beautiful gardens filled with edible flowers. So, my selection for “edibles” was limited but I did have nasturtiums and two of my herbs; basil and thyme, were starting to bloom from my container garden on my deck.

There is a huge selection of edible flowers that you can grow and enjoy with your food – just be sure not to spray or use the ones grown in a nursery! They add such a burst of color and flavor too!

Raspberry Shrub Vinaigrette Over Butterhead Lettuce

First you need to make the Raspberry Shrub Syrup – Cold Process:

  • 2 (6 oz.) clamshells of raspberries (plastic containers with snap on lids)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

Combine the two ingredients and refrigerate for 2-5 days or longer. Use a fine mesh sieve and strain out all raspberry solids and discard. I smoosh down the mixture with the back of a spoon to get every last drop out and also allow it to drain for about an hour.

  • 2 cups white vinegar, cider vinegar or red wine vinegar¬† (use either apple or red wine cider as the white was too plain)

Add the raspberry mixture to 2 cups vinegar and stir well. Store in a container in the refrigerator.

You could use the cooked process to save time but from what I have read you lose some of the fruit flavor and the bright color of the berries

Raspberry Shrub Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup raspberry shrub (make your own or you can buy it already made)
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups olive oil
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Whisk together the shrub, balsamic vinegar, sugar and mustard. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking continuously. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.


  • butterhead (Boston or Bibb) lettuce or any greens of your choice
  • edible flowers (see comment about nasturtiums) for garnish

Tear up the lettuce and dress  the greens lightly; garnish with edible flowers of your choice; personally I like the vivid colors of nasturtiums and I am sure the blue cornflowers added some more contrast to this salad.

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

Linking to Fiesta Friday.

Thyme flower on the left and basil flower on the right – I added these to my salad, along with some calendula petals and of course bright nasturtiums. Now if only I had some blue edible flowers this salad would have been even more stunning!


Philadelphia’s City Tavern’s Basil Shrimp

Have you been to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the United States of America? Should you have plans for a visit (or maybe you live near by) be sure to dine at The City Tavern located just a few blocks from the Delaware River.

The tavern lays claim to  be the birthplace of Colonial haute cuisine where you can eat the food our Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington enjoyed. Colonial wait staff round out the atmosphere along with authentic furniture, dishes and historical pictures throughout.

These famous men spent numerous nights discussing the future of our great nation in this tavern as it was the social, political and economic center of late 18th century Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and signed in this colonial city.¬† It was also the nation’s capital for 10 years while Washington, D.C. was being built.

Here is a short timeline: 1) December, 1773 the City Tavern opens for business; 2) the first Fourth of July was held here in 1777;¬† March, 1834 the tavern’s roof catches fire and is heavily damaged; 1854 the surviving structure is razed; 1975 the tavern is rebuilt and is an historically accurate replication of the original; 1994 Chef Walter Staib wins congressional approval as operator of the tavern featuring 18th century style gourmet cuisine. His restaurant earned a Five Star Diamond Award with his hearty dishes of American cuisine and authentic beverages and desserts of 18th century Philadelphia.

This recent visit to Philadelphia was for a family reunion. Harlans (almost 300) from across the country attended this 4 day affair. My immediate family included 19 members and one night we had the pleasure of eating at this historical establishment in one of the private dining rooms on the second floor.  Thank you Aunt Annette and Uncle John! Food brought us together and we all left with some wonderful memories Рour group was the last to leave that night!

Shrimp was in abundance in the New World and could be found in the many rivers and the nearby Atlantic Ocean. The Delaware River, which is a major river on the Atlantic coast, is just a couple of blocks away from the Tavern. Grilling over an open fire was the frequent method of cooking back then. I love to grill shrimp, especially these jumbo beauties. They make a great appetizer or served as a light dinner with fresh fruit or a green salad.

A funny story about me and one of my sisters concerning our first taste of oysters, which were possibly the greatest staple of the 18th century diet.  She has always been allergic to seafood and I do not like slimy oysters. We were unaware one of the appetizers besides this wonderful shrimp was Cornmeal Fried Oysters.

At first we thought it was probably chicken and we both tried it, not thinking we were eating something neither of us liked. Later in the evening we found out the truth. My sister did not get sick and I only ate one as it certainly was not as delicious as the shrimp and it did taste kind of funny. In conclusion – maybe my sister is no longer allergic to seafood and anything that is breaded and deep fried is going to be good!

Linking to Fiesta Friday.


Philadelphia's City Tavern's Basil Shrimp, Adapted

Instead of deep frying the shrimps I grilled them;  I also used prosciutto instead of bacon and I used green basil instead of purple basil.

  • 16 jumbo shrimp (thawed if frozen) peeled and deveined (I also like to remove the tails)
  • 16 fresh green basil leaves plus more to garnish (be generous)
  • 16 slices prosciutto, trimmed
  • 16 flavorless toothpicks
  • 12 oz. of your favorite homemade or bottled barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s original)
  • 4 tsp. horseradish (or to taste – I love this ingredient)
  • 2 dashes or more of your favorite hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
  • lemon wedges to garnish

Heat your grill to high, then turn down to medium-high and cook for about 8 minutes, turning once. The prosciutto crisps up nicely and the shrimp are perfectly cooked.

Combine the barbecue sauce, horseradish and hot sauce in a small saucepan. Add the shrimp and toss gently to coat each one. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the shrimps are heated through. Pull out the charred toothpicks and place a decorative toothpick in each shrimp.

Serve on a platter and garnish with lemon wedges and basil leaves.

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

Fried Pickle Chips

Fried pickles! Be prepared for a special treat. If you are going to fry something try these fried pickles with a beer batter (the best – Tasting Table versus Hooter’s) – your guests will be hanging out in your kitchen and gobbling them up just as fast as you can fry them. Thank you Bernell Austin who popularized these fried dills back in 1963 to draw in more customers to his Duchess Drive-In, in Atkins, Arkansas.

As I was making Chili Cheese Dogs with all the works for some family recently I decided that fried pickle chips with a few dipping sauces would be a good side. Heck, they could even put them in their hot dogs! So, along with pulled pork sandwiches, Fritos and Tiramisu cupcakes we had a very nice lunch thanks to these yummy pickle chips.

As often is the case I poured over different recipes trying to decide which ones sounded the best. After saying “no” to recipes from Chefs Emeril and Guy and others,¬† I came up with two: Hooters because of the spices and buttermilk and one from the Tasting Table because of the beer batter which was unanimously the best.

Many versions are available as to the liquid used: milk, buttermilk, beer – even adding some pickle juice; the dry ingredients such as flour, cornmeal or breadcrumbs; then there are the spices. Personally, I knew I wanted these pickles to have a little bite to them. I used Mrs. Klein’s crinkle cut sliced dills¬† but they are hard to find. Some recipes even use spears; just use any sliced dill chips you can find – Heinz is a good substitute.

The dipping sauces can be your favorites, either homemade or bottled, or use my recipes below – Cajun is really good.

My family’s recommendation: Make the Tasting Table Fried Pickle Chips and the Cajun and Ranch Dipping Sauces.

Fried Pickle Chips


  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 dashes Tabasco or any hot sauce
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or Black n’ Bleusy a favorite Cajun/blue cheese seasoning
  • neutral oil for frying such as grape, vegetable or canola
  • dill pickle chips – I used Mrs. Klein; Heinz would be a good substitute

Drain the pickle chips in a colander and then dry them very well between paper towels. I probably changed the paper towels 3 or 4 times.

Preheat a few inches of oil in a heavy skillet to 375¬įF.¬† Place a rack over a paper towel lined tray for the chips to drain after frying.

Combine the buttermilk, egg and hot sauce. Add dried pickles to mixture to coat completely.

Whisk together the flour, paprika, garlic powder and cayenne/Cajun blue cheese seasoning in a separate bowl. Now dip the pickle chips in this mixture to coat; shake off any excess. Drop up to 10 pickle chips at a time into the oil depending on the size of your skillet. You do not want the temperature to drop and you also want to maintain a 350¬į to 375¬įF temperature. Don’t let the oil get too hot or they will burn! Fry the pickles until golden brown, around¬† 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined tray.

These were very good too with a light, spicy batter that covered the pickle chips. A comment was made that you could taste more of the pickle.

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

Linking to Fiesta Friday.

The picture below shows the two pickle chips I made. The chip in the upper left is from the Tasting Table and the other three are from the Hooter’s recipe. Once my guests started to eat them they all agreed the beer batter version was the best and I quit using Hooter’s batter! The four of us just about finished a 32 oz. jar of pickle chips, they were that good!

Fried Pickle Chips


  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • pinch of cayenne or I used Black n’ Bleusy, a Cajun and blue cheese seasoning
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 cups lager beer (I used Miller Lite)
  • neutral oil for frying such as grape, vegetable or canola
  • dill pickle chips (I used Mrs. Klein – Heinz would be good too)

Drain the pickle chips in a colander. Then dry between paper towels – I probably changed the towels 3-4 times.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, coriander and cayenne. Mix in the egg then the beer to form a smooth batter.

Heat a few inches of oil in a heavy skillet to 375¬įF. Place a rack over a paper towel lined tray for the chips to drain after frying.

Work in batches, up to 10 at a time and dip the pickle chips into the batter; slowly drop into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown 3-5 minutes. Season with kosher salt if desired. Serve with any of the following dipping sauces or a sauce of your choice. The Cajun and Ranch were the favorites!

These pickle chips puffed up real nice from the beer batter and were the best out of the two, at least with this part of the family.

Dipping Sauces:

Cajun:¬†Combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tbsp. prepared horseradish, 2 tsp. ketchup and 1/4 tsp. Black n’Bleusy Cajun seasoning or use cayenne. This was the groups’ favorite sauce!!!

Ranch: 1 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 3-5 tbsp. sour cream (maybe more to get the right thickness), minced fresh parsley and chives, 3 tsp. white wine vinegar, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1-2 tsp. sugar (maybe more Рadd to taste). My homemade ranch was a close second to the Cajun sauce!

Blue Cheese:  1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup crumbled Maytag blue cheese, 2 tbsp. milk, minced chives, 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth; add more sour cream for thickness. This sauce placed third!

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com




Tiramisu Cupcakes With Amaretto Mascarpone Frosting

“Tiramisu” just rings of something good to eat and these cupcakes sure do demonstrate that. I have been promising a sister, who happens to love this dessert, that I would make tiramisu for her birthday – some day! Well, that day finally came.¬† After pouring over all of the recipes I have collected I decided on a cupcake version of this classic Italian treat.

King Arthur Flour came to my rescue once again and provided the recipe for this special dessert. A vanilla cupcake with lots of butter and eggs, a coffee liqueur soak, and then best of all a light Amaretto mascarpone frosting. How good does that sound?

Tiramisu Cupcakes With Amaretto Mascarpone Frosting


  • 1-3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2-3/4 cups flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350¬įF. Beat together the sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until each one is incorporated; add the vanilla.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the dry ingredients to the egg mixture with the milk until combined.

Spoon the batter into greased, cupcake liners placed in a muffin pan. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or when the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the wells and finish cooling.


  • 3 tbsp. Amaretto
  • 2 tbsp. espresso powder
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 3/4 cup hot water

Heat the water in a small saucepan and whisk in the first three ingredients.¬† Use a large two-tinned fork or a fat cookie pop stick/lollipop stick (this works the best as a fork tends to stick) to poke holes. I used a small fork and the soak did not penetrate enough, so they were a tad dry. Brush a small amount over each cupcake and allow it to soak in. From the comments made on KAF’s website it is best to use all of the soak which will require about 4 passes to all 24 cupcakes.


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tsp. Instant ClearJel; acts like cornstarch as a thickener (you can find this at King Arthur Flour)
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup Amaretto liqueur (use the good stuff – Disaronno)
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese

Beat the whipping cream until medium peaks form. I sifted the confectioners’ sugar and Instant Clear Jel together and slowly added this to the whipped cream along with the 1/2 cup Amaretto liqueur.

Gently whisk in the Mascarpone until the frosting is thick and creamy. Don’t overmix or the frosting will get grainy.

Pipe the frosting over the cupcakes, then dust with cocoa. Chill until ready to serve.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

Linking to Fiesta Friday.


Happy Birthday Sis!

Grilled Chicken with Traverse City Cherry Barbecue Sauce

It is cherry season in Michigan which is one of our best fruit crops that we all look forward to every year. The season is short and this year I planned ahead and I  froze a bunch of pitted sweet cherries to use for pies and such at a later time.

Place the pitted cherries on wax paper lined baking sheets and freeze until frozen. Package in freezer bags.

I love to grill many different things such as veggies, beef, fish, pork and chicken. Did you know there is a difference between grilling and barbecuing? I’ve always used the terms interchangeably not really thinking about a difference.

Barbecuing is cooking meat such as ribs, pork shoulder or brisket long and slow resulting in tender juicy meat. For these type of meats to be tender they need to cook at a very low temperature. The cooking time is often 2 hours or up to 20 hours which allows the smoke and heat produced from the burning of wood or coal to penetrate the meat which tends to be tougher because of the fat and connective tissue in them.

Grilling¬†is a hot and fast technique used when cooking hamburgers, fish, boneless chicken breasts or even vegetables. It’s usually the direct method and the cooking time is usually an hour or less. This is my preferred way to cook outdoors now.¬† There was a time when we had a smoker and we enjoyed barbecuing a big piece of meat, usually for a crowd.

Now that you know the difference, let’s get onto the recipe.

Grilled Chicken with Traverse City Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Grilled Chicken:

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded thin
  • olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp. garlic, finely minced per 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Combine the above ingredients and marinate for 30-60 minutes, turning once. Remove, dab the chicken with scott towels and brush on cherry barbecue sauce. Heat your grill to high, reduce the heat and cook chicken on medium high for 5-10 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the chicken. The internal temperature should reach 165¬įF.

Serve with the following Cherry Barbecue Sauce or use your favorite recipe.

Traverse City Barbecue Sauce by Mario Batali:

This is an excellent sauce, not too sweet or spicy and¬† very simple. I did not change any ingredients…

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (use dark if you want more of a molasses taste)
  • 1 cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted

Cook the onion in a medium saucepan until they soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook another minute. Add the tomatoes, orange juice, ketchup, brown sugar and cherries and cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Once the mixture has cooled, transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze.

Mario particularly likes his sauce with pork but we enjoyed it with chicken as well. Did you know he has a lakefront summer home in Traverse City?

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

A cherry pitter is a must when pitting a bunch of cherries. The one below is by Oxo Good Grips and has a splatter shield which is really a nice feature. You know how messy fresh cherries can be! Another tidbit; wear gloves if you do not like stained fingers! Also, occasionally a pit will get stuck, just poke it out with a knife. Be sure the nuts have come out and you can easily tell by squeezing the cherries.

You can use a sharp knife but this gadget makes a clean hole in each cherry. With a knife it’s very easy to destroy the cherries as you cut each nut out or cut your finger(s).

Linking to Fiesta Friday.

Ingredients for the sauce, and the sauce is cooking…

After blending in my food processor…

Marinating in a simple olive oil/garlic mixture and grilling…

Perfectly cooked and tasty chicken along with Grilled Parmesan Potatoes.

Ina’s Fruit Salad with Limoncello

Fruit in some form is frequently a part of every meal I serve, especially when entertaining. I might just have a bowl of fresh fruit such as apples, grapes or oranges; serve fruit as a salad over greens or have something a little fancier such as these summer berries topped with a yogurt seasoned with lemon curd and limoncello. A very light dessert and a perfect finish to any meal…

Ina's Fruit Salad with Limoncello, Adapted

  • 7 oz. Greek yogurt (I used Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt}
  • 1/3 cup lemon curd (you can make your own or buy it)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup raspberries (do not marinate as they tend to fall apart; add right before you top the berries with yogurt)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Limoncello liqueur
  • 1 banana, sliced (oops! I forgot to add)
  • mint sprigs for garnish

Combine the first 4 ingredients and set aside. Toss the strawberries, blueberries, sugar and limoncello and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Gently add the banana slices and raspberries.

Serve the fruit on small plates or bowls with a dollop of lemon yogurt on top. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

Recipe by CookingWithAuntJuju.com

Sharing this simple but elegant dessert with Fiesta Friday.