One of my favorite cooking vessels in the kitchen is my Bamboo Steamer. It is a healthier way to cook and I use it most often in the spring and summer when vegetables are at their freshest and the taste buds want more lighter fare.  This past weekend, I used it for a delicate little Dim Sum recipe that I like to make…Steamed Shrimp Dumplings with Ponzu Dipping Sauce.
Dim Sum is a broad Asian cuisine term used to describe small bite-sized portions of food served on small plates and dumplings are most commonly thought of when thinking of Dim Sum.  I have several different dumpling recipes but this one served with a zesty Ponzu sauce is on the healthier side and pairs perfectly with a nice glass of Chardonnay at the end of a beautiful spring day.


Steamed Dumplings with Ponzu Sauce
For the Filling:
  • 1/2 pd of raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pureed garlic (or finely minced)
  • 1/4 finely chopped bean sprouts (you could also substitute water chestnuts for these)
  • 1 chopped scallion
  • 12-16 wonton wrappers
  • Bok Choy, Cabbage or Swiss Chard Leaves
  • olive oil

For the Ponzu Dipping Sauce (If you have a huge sauce lover, double the recipe!)

  • 3 Tbsp of Ponzu Sauce
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped scallion
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix first 9 ingredients together.image

Pulse lightly in a food processor to chop shrimp and blend the ingredients.

Make one dumpling at a time placing a little of the filling in the middle and folding up like a little purse.  Moisten the ends with water to keep them sealed.

Prepare your steamer by placing in a wok or a deep pan that is filled with enough water to almost touch the bottom of the steamer.  Place your choice of leaves in the bottom of the steamer and brush lightly with olive oil.  (This will help keep the dumplings from sticking.)


Place dumplings on the leaves, making sure they aren’t touching and place lid on steamer.  You can have 2 levels that will steam perfectly. Bring water to a boil then steam for about 10 minutes.


Make the ponzu sauce by whisking together all the ingredients.  I like to make this a couple of hours ahead so the flavors will meld.


Gently place them on a small plate and serve with Ponzu Sauce.


 Bottom Line:  These delectable little morsels of yumminess are delicious and so easy to make.  I usually double the recipe because they freeze so well. Just follow the instructions all the way through and place on a cookie sheet “unsteamed”.  Freeze for a couple of hours and then remove from freezer and place in a freezer safe plastic dish with cover.  When you are ready to eat, just remove the amount of dumplings you want to steam and prepare the rest of the recipe.  They go perfectly with any stir fry dish!  I can’t wait to share other dumpling recipes and other recipes I use my steamer for in the future.  Until then…I am Chef Frankie, always in the kitchen, having fun, and cooking with Wild Abandonment!
Maybe it’s a girl thing but whenever I am out with friends for lunch and there is a roasted or grilled vegetable sandwich on the menu, I’m in!  Unfortunately, the man of the house has to have meat with his meals so usually this is something I just get to enjoy in restaurants.  That is until I found my partner in crime, Jenny Greer.  I have been her part-time nanny and personal chef for 4 years now and I recently discovered that she has the same obsession with these delectable sandwiches as I do!
Whenever her husband, Ryan, goes out of town…we both know what is on the menu..our favorite sandwich!  Loaded with seasonal vegetables and herbs along with savory goat cheese, it is an explosion of flavor and it’s not just for the restaurant anymore.  This is a great recipe for any kitchen!
Roasted Veggies Sandwiches with Herbed Goat Cheese
(Makes 4-6 Sandwiches)
  • Nonstick vegetable spray
  • 1 eggplant, sliced in rounds
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in rounds
  • 2 bell peppers (I use orange and yellow) seeded, quartered, then halved
  • 6 oz sliced portabella mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup soft fresh goat cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 4 – 6 Ciabatta Rolls (or whatever roll you prefer)





 Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray large baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Arrange zucchini, bell pepper, mushrooms, and eggplant on prepared baking sheets.



Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast 15 minutes.
Turn vegetables over. Roast until tender and brown in spots, about 10 -15 minutes longer
Whisk 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons thyme, vinegar, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in large bowl to blend. Add roasted vegetables and toss to coat.


Mix cheese, 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons thyme, and lemon juice in medium bowl.


Place all bread slices on work surface.
Spread each with cheese mixture.


Top 4 bread slices with roasted vegetables, then spinach leaves, then sprouts.


Cover with remaining bread slices, cheese side down. Cut each sandwich in half.
imageServe immediately OR wrap in foil and heat in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes so cheese in nice and gooey


 Bottom Line: I love this sandwich…hubby not so much so next time I will throw some bacon or maybe even some prosciutto on his!  I actually made this recipe this morning on WBIR/Mornings with Fox 43 and it was a hit!  Here is a link to the show:
Until next time, I am Chef Frankie….Always in the kitchen, having fun, and cooking with Wild Abandonment!

Jeff and I have recently been talking about doing a little downsizing.  My idea of downsizing may be different than most…I want to downsize my square footage but UPSIZE my kitchen and that is where BlueStar Cooking has come in to help me in planning my Dream Kitchen!  It might look Ok a little like this….


I visualize a smaller home on at least 10 acres with not only an indoor kitchen but an outdoor one as well with a fireplace.  I know, that probably sounds like more upkeep, but when you love to get creative with food like Jeff and I both do, it makes perfect sense.

This range from BlueStar’s new Platinum Series would be a perfect addition to my indoor dream kitchen…(I might even consider adding one of these into my existing kitchen…Wow!)


It even comes in 750 colors!  Oh, the visions of delight that are going through my head in just the idea of picking the exact color combination!

Imagine all the tasty bites I could create on that baby!


If it is good enough for Michael Symon, it is good enough for me!  Check out his kitchen in this video….

What I love about BlueStar is the ability to go on to their site and customize their products right down to the knobs!  It was a lot of fun playing around on this page, to say the least.  Try it for yourself!

I hope my dream kitchen does become reality someday!  If you could build your dream kitchen, what is on your wish list?  I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

For more information on BlueStar, visit


Sometimes, I think back to my time when I was just starting out and had my very first kitchen…in an apartment of course, and not gourmet by any means!  There weren’t as many wonderful kitchen tools and gadgets to choose from like there are today so I started thinking about what kitchen items I couldn’t live without and would suggest for someone trying to build their own “kitchen essentials” list.

So here are my 5 Kitchen Essentials…..I wonder if some of them are yours, too?

5.  The Spiralizer


Now, this is a fairly new addition in my kitchen but one I now use often!  It is perfect to create beautiful works of art on the plate by using everyday vegetables such as zucchini, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, and much more!  It is compact, inexpensive and it has no limitations to make a variety of light recipes such as my Thai Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles…yummy!

Thai Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles

4. A Flat Whisk

Sure, regular whisks do the job but there is something about my favorite silicone coated flat whisk that always makes my gravy and sauces come out just a little smoother.  It also gets into those corners of the pan where the good stuff tends to gather (which always makes those sauces just a little bit better).  Try it next time you are making a roux for your gumbo!


3.  Le Creuset Dutch Oven

If you have been following my blog, you often see this big red pan in the pictures.  It is my Le Creuset Dutch Oven and it is my favorite of all my Le Creuset cookwear (I love the whole line!).  Of course, it is lovely to look at while on the stove (and comes in a variety of colors) but its interior enamel helps distribute the heat evenly when cooking and makes browning, simmering, and cleaning a snap!  It also goes straight from stove top to oven up to 500 degrees (not sure I have ever cooked anything at that temperature!).  I use it for braising short ribs, baking a pot roast, and making soups and stews like this recipe:


2. Wusthoff Tomato Knife

You may not have ever heard of a tomato knife and neither had I until a couple of years ago.  My favorite vegetable is the tomato and my husband, Jeff, and I have long argued over whether or not use use a serrated knife to cut a tomato.  I said yes…he said no.  He was proven wrong one Christmas when I opened one of my gifts from him and it was a tomato knife….with a serrated edge, of course!  Yes, I use this knife to slice tomatoes but as you may know, I process my own Italian Sauce every summer and this knife has a little tip that help pierce the tomato after blanching to help remove the skin before chopping.  It’s also great to slice bread, meats, and cheese….and, since it’s so small it’s portable.  Can you say PICNIC!

My Italian Sauce ready to process


1. Lodge Cast Iron Skillet


I saved the best for last!  I use my cast iron skillet for everything from searing meat to making an incredible southern cornbread.  I probably have 10 different shapes and sizes…I love it that much!  My very first Cast Iron Skillet was given to me by “Grandmother” when I got married back in 1985.  She was my husband’s grandmother but she became  mine, too, and has always been an inspiration to me in the kitchen!

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon so here is one of my favorite recipes using the cast iron skillet:


That is my list of the “Kitchen Essentials”….what are some of yours and would you add anything on my list to your kitchen?  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Coming tomorrow….My Dream Kitchen compliments of BlueStar Cooking!

For more information on BlueStar Cooking visit

Chicken Noodle Soup….there is a reason there is a series of books called Chicken Soup for the Soul because that is what this soup is all about…reaching into your soul and providing comfort.  It is known for curing colds and providing warmth and often many have a memory behind their favorite chicken soup.  My recipe goes back to a 1995 issue of Southern Living Magazine and the most amazing picture of a tureen of chicken noodle soup that made my mouth water.  Since my mother has given me the annual Southern Living Cookbook every year since I was still married, I do still have the picture that caught my eye!

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup by Southern Living (1995)

Over the years, I have made this recipe many times and tweaked it along the way, so I thought I would share my updated version with you.  It will come out perfect every time and go a long way in warming a lot of winter souls this season!



  • 1 3.5 to 4 lb. chicken cut up with bone and skin or 2 very large chicken breasts (if you are in a hurry)
  • 2 stalks celery, quartered
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 turnip, peeled and quartered
  • 2 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 5 cups water
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 6 oz. small egg noodles, parboiled
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon on onion powder


  • Combine first 11 ingredients in a large Dutch oven, and bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; cook 45  minutes or until chicken is tender.image
  • Remove chicken from broth, reserving broth; set chicken aside to cool slightly. Shred chickenimage
  • Pour broth through a wire-mesh strainer into a large bowl; discard cooked vegetables. Remove and discard fat from broth; return broth to Dutch oven.  Simmer for at least an hour to truly bring out the flavors.image
  • Parboil noodles (don’t fully cook) until they still have a bite to them…this keeps them from absorbing too much of the broth.
  • Saute onion and celery in olive oil until vegetables are tender. (I found this step adds so much more flavor than just dumping the raw vegetables in as the recipe states.)image
  • Add sauted celery and onion along with sliced carrot to chicken broth; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes.image
  • Stir in chopped chicken, noodles, and remaining seasonings.image
  • Simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes (or until noodles are cooked through) image
  • This version makes about 12 good size bowls of soup

I don’t exactly have the photograpy staff that Southern Living does but this is one good looking bowl of soup!

Chef Frankie’s Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Bottom Line:  My version does take a little longer but great things take time and you will love the smell of this soup simmering all day in your kitchen.  If you like your soup more brothy, feel free to add equal parts of water and chicken broth and it will maintain its superb flavor!  I can’t wait for this to become one of your family’s favorite recipes!  I am Chef Frankie…always in the kitchen, having fun, and cooking with wild abandonment!




One of my favorite food nationalities is Mexican cuisine but traditionally it is landmine of calories and fat!  Fortunately, one of my favorite chicken enchilada recipes is a pleasant change from  the norm.  Packed with fresh flavors and ingredients, my Veggies Stuffed Chicken Enchiladas fit the bill when it comes to healthy and tasty!



1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced squash, chopped
1/2 Cup chopped onions
2 Cups shredded cooked chicken
1 package low sodium taco seasoning mix (mild)
1 tsp cumin
2 10 oz cans rotel
8 large or 16 small whole wheat
2 cups low fat Mexican blend cheese, shredded
1 15 oz can prepared enchilada sauce
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray the bottom of a heatproof dish with cooking spray.
Pour just enough enchilada sauce in the dish to lightly coat the bottom (about 1/4 cup).image
In a large pan or wok, sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil until soft.
Add in the zucchini and squash; cook on medium heat for ten minutes, stirring frequently.image
To complete the enchilada filling, add the chicken, taco seasoning mix, cumin, green chilies, and diced tomatoes. Let simmer at least 5 minutes (I prefer to let it simmer for about an hour to improve the flavor)image
Now fill the tortillas. Use three tablespoons of filling per tortilla.image
Top the filling mixture with some shredded cheese and roll up the tortilla.image
Place the enchilada fold side down in the prepared dish.
Pour some of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas over the top of the enchiladas and top with Remaining cheese.image
Bake in the oven for fifteen minutes and serve immediately. Makes 8 large enchiladas.

You can make 2 smaller pans with 4 enchiladas each and freeze one for another day. Just tightly wrap the extra dish (do not cook) and freeze for future use. Take the dish straight from the freezer, replace the freezer wrap with foil, bake it in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes covered and an additional ten minutes uncovered.

Per serving: 1 large tortilla 266 calories

Bottom Line: I love this recipe and the filling can be used as to fill in lettuce ups for an even healthier version! Give it a try in your kitchen!

On Monday, January 18th, I will be back on Mornings with Fox 43 at 8:20 am making one of my favorite dishes…Veggie Stuffed Chicken Enchiladas!  This dish is not only delicious but only has 266 calories per serving!  Catch the show and then visit the blog Monday afternoon to get all this delicious recipe and tips!  See you then!


Yesterday, I made my favorite soup recipe but substituted venison that my husband provided for us after a recent hunting trip. It was much leaner and when he took it to work, no one knew it was deer! No matter what kind of protein you use, this recipe is a winner on these chilly winter days!


Everyone has their favorite soup recipe but with snowstorm Pax bearing down on us, I thought now would be a great time to share mine!  Soup is one of the first things I learned how to make when I was young…probably because you can literally do anything with it and it is so versatile.  Plus, a newbie cook always feels like they are doing something special when they are browning up onions and ground beef! (Love that smell!)

I eat this soup year round…as a matter of fact, if my husband is out of town, it is a must on my menu (except that I substitute one of his least favorite ingredients…ground turkey).  Gourmet?…not this soup!  Tasty?…very much so!  I use lots of shortcuts so I can whip this up quickly and I definitely change it up from time to time so feel free to experiment with your favorite veggies…

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As we complete one week into the New Year, many of us are focusing on eating healthier and making better food choices.  A great way to incorporate more vegetables in your diet is by using one of my favorite gadgets in the kitchen…the Spiralizer!  It takes ordinary vegetables and turn them in to delicious artsy curls and makes them more versatile so you can use them in so many different ways.  They are great to use on all kinds of vegetables like squash, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers (I can’t wait to share my Tuna/Cucumber Salad with you!), and many more!

Today’s recipe is Thai Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles.  It is a super easy  weeknight meal that is not only healthy and incorporates lots of wonderful vegetables but is so yummy!  It will become a family favorite instantly!  I like to take this basic recipe and substitute different veggies like peppers and mushrooms and even use a different protein like chicken.  It is so easy to make it your own!

Thai Shrimp with Zucchinni N


  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
 (sometimes I use the prepared squeeze kind found in your spice section in the grocery)
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 12 oz. package bean sprouts
3 small bunches of baby bok choy
  • 1 jalapeno pepper chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into noodles
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and cornstarch. Set the mixture aside.
  2. Place a large sauté pan or wok over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and and heat it for 1 minute. Add in the jalapeno and saute until tender (about 5 minutes)  Add in the ginger and garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from pan and set aside.image
  3. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook, stirring as needed, until the shrimp are cooked throughout and pink on all sides, about 3 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and then transfer them to a bowl, leaving any liquid in the pan.image
  4. Increase the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then add the sprouts, bok choy, and the zucchini noodles and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes until the vegetables are crisp but tender. Add the jalapeno/ginger mixture back in and cook an additional minute.  image
  5. Add the prepared sauce and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Return the shrimp to the pan, stirring to combine, and cook, tossing to coat, for 1 minute.
  6. Transfer the stir-fry to serving plates, garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.image

Bottom Line:  This recipe is versatile, easy, and delicious and easily incorporates your favorite veggies.  I like to serve it with some steamed shrimp dumplings on the side.  If you don’t have a spiralizer, you could also use a mandolin or vegetable peeler.  I got mine at Williams Sonoma and use it all the time so I will be sharing more recipes with you soon. I hope you try this recipe and share some of your veggie and protein substitutions with me!  I am Chef Frankie…always in the kitchen, having fun and cooking with wild abandonment!

You can find a great spiralizer here by following this link:^15536510254-sku^5965843@ADL10BMC-adType^PLA-device^c-adid^5879058197

Surgared Cranberries & Sparkling Cranberry Cups…A Holiday Visual on a Plate!

The holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year…the chill is in the air, the Christmas trees are going up, and the lights are twinkling….and of course, there is the food!  My latest holiday food obsession is Sugared Cranberries.  Not only are they so easy to make, but they are delicious and absolutely beautiful on the plate!

Sugared Cranberries

These little beauties have a wow factor on their own but can even make ordinary little cupcakes stand out even more by placing a few on top.  I even like to throw a few in our champagne for some added flavor in sparkle!  The recipe is actually so easy that the hardest part to it is to actually remembering to let the soak in the simple syrup mixture (I call this Sugar Water) overnight.

Sugared Cranberries


  • 12 oz package fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 – 1/2 2 cups of SUPERFINE Sugar (depending on how sugary you want them)

Wash and lace the cranberries in a medium bowl and set aside.

Make a simple syrup by bringing the water and 2 cups sugar just to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Let the syrup cool for a few minutes and then pour it over the cranberries. If the syrup is too hot the cranberries will burst. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 6 hours).  Drain for 30 minutes.

Place the cranberries on a baking sheet toss them with the Superfine Sugar until they are well coated. Allow to dry for a couple of hours.  These can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.



A beautiful bowl of Sugared Cranberries ready to pop in your mouth!

These tiny bursts of sweet and tangy delight will be a hit with your whole family and if you can keep from eating them all, they are delicious in my next recipe…Sparking Cranberry Cups!


Sparking Cranberry Cups


  • Sugared Cranberries
  • Mini Phyllo Shells
  •  Brie Cheese Slices
  • Cranberry Jelly
  • Fresh Mint for Garnish


Preheat oven to 350.

Place about 1 teaspoon of Brie in each of the Phyllo shells.  Bake for 5 minutes or just until the cheese melts and fills the bottom of shell.  Allow to cool slightly.


Place a small spoonful of the cranberry jelly on top of the Brie.


Arrange 3 sparkling cranberries on top with a mint leaf to garnish.

Sparkling Cranberry Cups

Serve immediately.  A simple impressive appetizer that will wow everyone at your next holiday event!

Bottom Line:  These two recipes are too easy and delicious to pass up and it will seem like you put hours of effort into making them.  I won’t tell if you won’t!  I am Chef Frankie…always in the kitchen, having fun and  cooking with wild abandonment!

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