Author Archives: thecookingstudioonline

Strawberry Birthday Triffle

Strawberry Triffle

This Triffle was made for my hubsters birthday.  He wanted Strawberry Birthday cake, I told him this was my version of Strawberry Birthday Cake.  Below I have given you some quick tips to make this dessert easy peasy!

1 pound cake (store bakery brand or frozen pound cake-sliced into ½” slices.
1-3 oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding-(I use Jello brand, use your favorite brand and you can use virtually any flavor to make this “pastry cream”)
1 pint of whipping cream
1/3 cup of half & half
2 pints of fresh strawberries or combination of your favorite berries
¾ cups sugar or to taste.

You’ll need a clear glass bowl to assemble the Triffle in.
For Pastry Cream:
In a deep bowl, dump the package of 3 oz. vanilla instant pudding, add the pint of whipping cream and the 1/3 cup of half & half.
Whip on high until thick and stiff peaks form.
Refrigerate until you need it to assemble the triffle.

In a medium sauce pan with a lid on low heat put 1 pint of cleaned & hulled fresh strawberries. Add the ¾ cups of sugar. Put the lid on the pan and let the berries become mushy about 10 minutes. With a hand held blender, pull the berries off the heat and use the hand held blender to puree them. Then push them through a fine sieve with the back of a large spoon, this will get all the seeds out and make the strawberry puree silky and delicious. Put the puree back on the heat without the lid on for another few minutes until thick. Keep an eye on the puree because it may stick.

At this point you are ready to assemble; in a triffle bowl or medium glass bowl start to layer the different components. Begin with the slices of pound cake, then spread a layer of pastry cream, a layer of fresh sliced strawberries, a drizzle of strawberry puree, then the pound cake, alternating ingredients in that order ending with a layer of pastry cream, fresh strawberries and the strawberry puree.

Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Serve with sweetened whip cream if desired.


Pan-fried Banana Bread with Peanut Butter and Stawberry Puree

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Home made Banana Bread is the best, it’s moist delicious with the taste of bananas throughout.  I use pecans in mine because I like them better than walnuts.

This morning for breakfast, the hubster and I had a delicious treat, pan-fried Banana Bread with peanut butter & strawberry puree.  I strain my strawberry puree through a sieve to get all the seeds out and it makes it velvety and divine!

The strawberry puree is a pint of fresh or frozen strawberries, since I am the Queen of frozen, mine were fresh frozen. I put them in a pan over low-heat with 1/2 cup of sugar (or to taste), and a pinch of sea salt.  Those get cooked over low heat until the strawberries are mushy, and the sugar is dissolved.  Turn heat to medium high and watching them very carefully, bring them to a gentle boil for about 2 minutes.  Remove them from the heat and with a hand held blender, blend them until smooth.  Have a fine sieve (not a colander)over a bowl ready.  Pour the now pureed strawberries into the sieve (over the bowl) and with the back of a spoon or spatula for the strawberries through the sieve.  When all that is left is the seeds (you may have some solids too) scrape the bottom of the sieve and place the strawberry puree back into the saucepan.  Over medium head stirring frequently, cook at a slow simmer until the consistency of a thick sauce.

Pull off the heat, pour into a bowl and let cook for 10 minutes on the counter and then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Some uses for the Strawberry Puree:

Over ice cream, cheesecake, in Strawberry Triffle and as a sauce for french toast, pan fried banana bread, waffles or pancakes!

Pan-Fried Banana Bread

Take slices of banana bread and place in a non-stick skillet with melted butter or olive oil. Mine look small in the picture because I made mini loaves.

Cook over medium high heat until browned on the first side, flip and cook till browned on the other side.  Place on small plates- spread your favorite peanut butter on it (some peanut butter may cause the bread to tear, so be gentle if using peanut butter that has been ground fresh.) Drizzle your strawberry puree over the peanut butter and serve.

Note: Slices of bacon would be delish on this bread!

This could easily be made into french toast by dipping your banana bread in a mixture of cream & beaten eggs, cook as directed above.

Using Avocado’s in different ways


I am an avocado fan, so much so that I spent $300.00 (much to my hubster’s dismay) to buy two patio avocado trees from Cali (they died the first winter in South Carolina, who knew?)

I buy Haas avocados whenever they go on sale. Haas are the only avocados I buy because quite honestly they are the best.

I was planning on making ground chicken and turkey meatballs for dinner and to freeze some today.  My one complaint about ground chicken or ground turkey breast is the dry factor.  The meatballs tend to be dry, it makes them far from appetizing.  Well, this morning while thinking through my options to make them more moist (add cream, add tomato paste, add grated zucchini, add mushroom duxelle-all favorite tricks of mine  to make more juicy tender meatballs), I thought, why not run some avocado through the food process and add it to the ground chicken & turkey mixture to give it some fat & moisture. So I did!  I think the result was fabulous.

Here’s another trick-freeze your avocados, yep that’s right, freeze em.  Cut them in half, take out the pit, spritz them with lemon juice and vacuum pack the avocado halves.  Once thawed you can proceed with your recipe AND that is the end of wasting avocados because you just weren’t in the mood for guac one night.

Also, avocados are great in muffins replacing bananas or applesauce.  Chocolate ones are my favorite.

For the ground chicken and turkey breast meatballs, I used on avocado (previously frozen), 2 eggs, 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs and 2 lbs of a combination of ground turkey breast and ground chicken breast.  Add 10-oz of chopped spinach, season to taste and away ya go!

Visit for some delicious recipes!

Easy Pork Scallopini

Easy Pork Scaloppini

1 pound  thin boneless pork chops or thinly pounded Pork Tenderloin ( I prefer Pork Tenderloin) salted & peppered to taste.
1/4 cup  flour
2 tbls olive oil

8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2/3 cup  chicken broth
2  tablespoons  garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup  whipping cream
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard or to taste

Dredge pork chops in flour. Preheat the skillet over high heat, then add olive (remember hot pan cold oil will keep things from sticking), reduce heat to medium high, fry pork for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Be sure to keep an eye that it doesn’t get burned.

Remove pork from the skillet, put on a plate, and repeat with the remaining pork until you have cooked them all.  ( You might need to add more oil during the cooking process).  Remove the last pieces of pork from the skillet. Then  add the sliced mushrooms to the hot skillet and cook until lightly browned.

Lower the heat under the skillet to low; add, broth, Dijon mustard, garlic, lemon juice, and whipping cream. Add the pork back into the skillet and cook for another 3 minutes.

Serve immediately. Can be held in the oven at 200 degrees until ready to serve. The sauce will separate a little, so remove pork and stir again before serving.
Adapted from the Saucy Gourmet

Serving suggestion:

Garlic Orzo with fresh Tomatoes and Spinach.

Orzo cooked according to the package for 4 people.

3 Roma tomatoes diced

10 oz fresh baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped

¼ cup grated parmigiana

¼ cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped

2-3 tbl minced garlic

Reserve some pasta water

Salt & pepper to taste.

Cook Orzo according to the directions on the package for 4 servings. Reserve some of the pasta water.

After draining orzo, & reserving some of the pasta water-put orzo back into the pan

Coarsely chop the baby spinach & the basil leaves add to the orzo.

Dice 3 Roma tomatoes and add to the orzo.

Add the minced garlic and parmigiana cheese, give everything a good stir to combine. At this point taste and salt & pepper to taste.

Also, if the mixture looks dry, add a little reserved pasta water to give it creamy texture, but not too wet.

Sweet & Spicy Shrimp Tacos

Recipe adapted from Land O Lakes


1/3 cup sugar

3 tbls firmly packed brown sugar

2 tbls all-purpose flour (AP Flour)

2 Tbls bread crumbs (panko would work well here)

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp coarse ground black pepper

½ tsp ground red pepper flakes

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp ground ginger


¼ cup butter- melted

16 oz fresh shelled & deveined shrimp U 25 (medium) (that means there are approximately 25 shrimp in a pound) 16 oz of uncooked frozen medium shrimp-thawed.


½ cup sour cream

1 Tbl lime juice

2 tsp fresh cilantro-chopped

½ tsp chili powder

16 (6”) corn tortillas-warmed

2 cups coleslaw mix

NOTE: can use diced cooked chicken breast to replace shrimp.


Heat oven to 500⁰. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside.

Combine all the spice mixture ingredients in a small bowl. Dip the shrimp in melted butter then into the spice mix. Place spiced shrimp onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake the spiced shrimp for 5-6 minutes or until shrimp are pink and coating is bubbly.

In another bowl combine all the sauce ingredients.

To assemble tacos, stack the warmed tortillas onto individual serving plates. Top with 1/8 baked shrimp and ¼ cup coleslaw mix. Drizzle with sauce. Have chopped chives, diced tomatoes and extra sauce to drizzle on tacos.

Cooking Klatche for Busy Moms & Wives!

Shrimp a la Fredo  I will be starting a Cooking Klatch with neighbors who are busy Moms & Wives.  They are interested in quick, easy and nutritious meals that are “home-cooked” but easy and quick.  Piece of cake! I am so excited to get started.  The recipes, tricks & tips and hopefully some videos (squee!) will be posted here for anyone to access.

We’re going to start with wine…er, I mean a list of healthy pantry items to have on hand all the time to enable you to “cook-on-the-fly,” if you need to.

Example: friend calls and says she needs a quick dinner idea.  My first question is:

What do you have on hand for

1. protein

2. starch

3. fresh or frozen veggies?

Once we get those nailed down we can move on to getting the meal put together.

Let’s go with a real-life scenario-

Protein: she had frozen pre-cooked shrimp on hand she wanted to use.

Starch: she had whole wheat pasta (perfect!)

Pantry: Veggie and Chicken broth/stock, a jar of Pesto.

Fridge: Laughing Cow cheese wedges, fresh peppers, 1/2 medium red onion, fresh mushrooms, and fresh pre-washed bagged spinach.

Freezer: broccoli florets.

Question: Do you want a creamy sauce or a tomato based sauce ? (She decided she would like a creamy sauce.)

Finished product: Shrimp ala Fredo with whole wheat pasta.


Put your water for pasta on to boil FIRST!

We then moved on to making our mise en place with our veggies by cutting the red, green & yellow peppers into thin strips and cleaned and sliced the fresh mushrooms.  We diced the red onion.

Sauce: We put our diced onions and mushrooms in a skillet to saute with some olive oil.  Approximately 5 minutes, once the onions were translucent we added the broth, about 3 cups.  We added the Laughing Cow wedges (about 6), this we had to work on with a whisk because the Laughing Cow wedges will not break down or “melt”  easily and 1/4 prepared pesto (or to taste)  dried Italian seasonings (to taste) salt & pepper (again to taste).

We made a slurry of water & cornstarch (about a tsp of cornstarch to a Tbl of water/broth).  We added the slurry to the sauce stirring constantly and reduced the heat to a very low simmer for about 2 minutes.

The water for the pasta was boiling, so we put the pasta in, boiled for about 8 minutes, added the peppers and frozen broccoli to that boiled for another minute or so, just to thaw the broccoli and make the peppers crunchy tender.

We drained all of that and ran the pre-cooked shrimp under cool water to thaw. Added the shrimp to the sauce.

Plating/Serving: she decided she wanted to serve the entree individually, so we put a hand full of fresh spinach on the plate a serving size of the pasta veggie mixture and sauced it with the Shrimp ala Fredo Sauce. Voila, dinner in less than 30 minutes!

Her family loved the dish, she was happy they were happy which in turn made me happy!


Chef Kelly


The Mavens Monthly Cooking Club

The Mavens Monthly Cooking Club

Fresh spices make food nicest~

We are scheduling our second official Mavens Monthly Cooking Club.

Last month we made home made pierogies and home made pasta dough.

Everything turned out num-nums! 🙂

What the menu is shaping up to be is a round the world culinary “bite”. The menu so far (subject to change with input from the other Mavens) is:

Beef Fajitas (this will either be a fresh/refrigerator dish or crock pot)

Chicken Stir-Fry (fresh/refrigerator dish)

Marinated or rubbed Salmon Filet

Cannelloni’s-Ricotta, spinach & ground chicken or turkey)- we make our own pasta dough for this and our noodles.

Mary’s Famous Pot Pies-this is a bottom crusted pot pie with panko crumbs on top-that approach cuts down on calories we also add chicken with lots of veggies. Drizzle some butter or olive oil on top and voila!

Sheppard’s Pie-Vegetables, ground beef and a mushroom gravy topped with fresh mashed potatoes.

Chicken Poppers

Daubes of Beef Roast

Pork Tenderloin Paprikash

Pork Scallopini

Cheesy Chicken Bundles

Chicken Parmesan

Apricot Glazed Chicken

Baked Broccoli Medley

Hash Brown Casserole

Roasted Cauliflower

California Quiche

We will also be making assorted blanched veggies and sides.

Recipes and shopping lists will be available and sent out via email.

Please feel free to post pictures.  We hope to share our photos here from cook day.

For those of you who are interested in forming a club, please feel free to email me.  We are in the Charleston Area, however, I am available for consultation on how to set up your club and will help with menu planning, shopping tips, and shopping lists.

I have had many inquiries into this process and I am always happy to share the positives of the practice with people. Here are just a few:

Home made food, with ingredients that you have chosen yourself. You know exactly what is in what you are feeding your family.

Time savings-We all have had a lessening of quality of life because we are all just so doggone busy. This is a way to make better use of your limited time resource.

Dinner with the family as often as possible with as little preparation time as possible. We have crock pot dinners, ready made to heat and serve dinners, all the convenience of carry-out with none of the negatives.

Money savings-we use organic meats and still save money by making our meals in bulk and with the help of friends and neighbors.

Social time with friends. We make meal preparation easy and fun!

Please contact me for more information.

The Chef.


Freezer Meal Cooking

I had the BEST time today, we cooked for a month for my son and his wife. It really works! More next month as we hone our system. we made five sauces, including Cheese, Alfredo, Mushroom and Marsala. Several kinds of meatballs and quinoa among other things.

One tip: we used leftover pancakes from breakfast for meatballs in place of breadcrumbs. It worked beautifully!

The Chef

Buche de Noel

My version o Bucher de Noel with Nut Meringue Mushrooms & Caramel mascarpone Cream filing

My version of Buche de Noel with Nut Meringue Mushrooms & Caramel mascarpone Cream filing

This is my version of Buche de Noel.  I had thought I would use a Swiss Buttercream filing, however, I wanted something simpler for the filling. The Caramel Mascarpone Cream filing, fit the bill… here is how I did it.

Caramel Mascarpone Cream filling

16 oz. Mascarpone cheese -see notes below.

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 tap. vanilla

1/2 cup Dulce de Leche-canned

In a saucepan, add the cream and sugar over medium low heat and whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool to room temperature. When it’s cooled add the dulce de leche, whisk until completely incorporated and smooth.  In a medium bowl add the 16 oz. of Mascarpone cheese. Mix until completely incorporated. Refrigerate until cake is baked and cooled.

Ganache Glace

6 oz of the finest chocolate you can afford-chopped to chocolate chip size pieces(see notes below)

3/4 cup whipping cream

In a microwave safe dish, put the chopped chocolate, and whipping cream, process on power level 3 for about 3 minutes, remove after 2 minutes and start to stir, stir until the chocolate is melted, you may need to put back into the microwave for the last 30 seconds to 1 minute. Make sure you pay close attention to this process because the chocolate CAN and WILL scorch and be ruined if you don’t pay exquisite attention to it. Treat it gently and you will be rewarded with perfect ganache! Set the ganache aside.

Chocolate Sponge Cake

Have all the ingredients measured and assembled before you start- mise en place.

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup AP flour (AP= all-purpose)

1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder (see note below) plus some extra for sprinkling on the towel for rolling the cake.

5 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla

5 egg whites

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. Cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease jelly-roll pan & line it with parchment. Spray the parchment with cooking spray and lightly sift cocoa powder. Set aside.

Sift the cornstarch, AP flour and cocoa together onto a large piece of parchment.

Put the egg yolks into a medium size bowl with the vanilla and half of the sugar.  with a hand mixer beat on high speed until ribbons form when you lift the beaters our of the bowl.  Set aside.

Clean the beaters with very hot water and soap, dry them very well. Any impurities or grease will keep your egg whites from beating up to a stiff peak stage.

In a clean bowl place your egg whites, salt & cream of tartar, and with the hand mixer  and clean beaters begin to whip the egg whites. When the egg whites are foamy, begin adding the remaining sugar a little at a time until it is fully incorporated.  Whip the egg whites until glossy & form stiff peaks… do not over beat.

Add a spoonful of whipped egg whites into the whipped egg yolks to lighten them add the rest of the whipped egg whites and gently fold them together so as not to deflate the egg whites. Fold whipped egg whites and yolks together just until no streaks of egg whites are showing.

Sift the flour, cornstarch and cocoa powder over the whipped egg white/egg yolk mixture. Continue gently folding just until no egg white or flour streaks are visible.

Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, dust a clean kitchen towel  generously with unsweetened cocoa powder.  When the cake is done, remove from the oven and immediately turn the cake out onto the prepared towel. Peel the parchment off and roll the cake and towel together starting from the long side. Let it cool completely rolled in the towel.

When it is completely cooled unroll the cake and spread the caramel Mascarpone cheese cream evenly.  Re-roll the cake carefully and place on a serving platter.

Spread ganache over the rolled cake. I re-glazed my cake several times refrigerating it in between. Decorate with meringue mushrooms if desired. You can also decorate with chopped nuts. Refrigerate until serving time.

Adapted from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham



For chocolate I bought Ghirardelli chocolate chips at Costco. I would also suggest getting the Mascarpone cheese there too, its much cheaper.

Sponge cake:

To roll filled cake leave it on the towel when filling and use the towel to assist in rolling the cake after its filled.

Cocoa powder I used Ghirardelli cocoa powder which I bought at World Market.

I would also suggest going to for hard to find ingredients.

This would be delish with peanut butter buttercream. I suggest using a trusted site for a Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe and adding  about 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter to that at the end and mix until well blended. I like the texture of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I think it would create a superb filling!

Another idea is a cooked Mock Whipping Cream recipe as a filling:


1 c. milk
6 tbsp. flour
1 c. confectioners sugar or super fine granulated sugar
1 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Whisk milk & flour first in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Cool completely and set aside.Mix sugar, butter, and vanilla together with electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour mixture a spoon at a time and beat until smooth and fluffy.


Almost perfect Cinnamon Rolls has me sayin OMG-in-SC


I had to take a little “bunny-trail” trip this afternoon after work.  I am a notorious sucker for bakeries…any kind of bakery, the more ethnic the better I like it…but that is another post for another day.

Well, on my bunny-trail-trip this afternoon I had to go to pick up a prescription at “Old Town” Mount Pleasant SC.  I had never been there before, in fact, didn’t even know a place called “old town” existed in Mt Pleasant, SC.

It was adorable, quaint with narrow streets, funky parking though and the narrow streets are such that only one vehicle at a time can get through and the parking is not parallel, but horizontal, facing the opposite way from where I was coming. So I made my own parking place, swept out of my car and walked with confidence and purpose down the street to my appointed destination; hoping against hope that I didn’t have a “quaint” parking ticket waiting for me when I returned.  I wish I had had a little more time to explore this short but intriguing street. It looked like it had been plucked out of a 40’s era picture show, in fact I was sure I was gonna see Sheriff Andy and Opie walking down the street with their fishin poles!

However, one had to look past the modern cars parked vertically on the street…well by now you’re reading this going, um…where do the cinnamon rolls come in…please be patient whilst I “set the stage” for their illustrious appearance!

So I walked into this pharmacy named Pitt Pharmacy, and I was literally transformed back in time to an old soda fountain lunch counter, with old wooden floor, old fashion shelves, the whole works and it was fabulous!  I walked up to the counter, the owner/pharmacists must have seen my impatience playing across my face and my body language SCREAMED I’M IN S HURRY…side bar: This is in retrospect, but I wish I had just gone with the moment, lived that minute in time to its fullest…end side bar…

The Pharmacist came out from the counter and brought me my cream concoction & patiently and kindly with a smile explained what it was, how to use it and said, “you have a wonderful evening.” I paid for my purchase and hurried out the doo afraid of what I would find when I returned to my wonky-parked car…however, a BAKERY had caught my eye on the way to the pharmacy, and so  I stopped…it was again, old fashion looking with very high counters and a case full of yummies…I chose the cinnamon rolls…two of them piled high with creamy dreamy frosting.  The person who waited on me at “The Village Bakery” was pleasant and very helpful. I told him that the rolls looked so good that they might not make it to breakfast the next morning.

When I got home, I took them out of their box and placed them on a plate to take a picture of them, see above.  I took a taste of the frosting, it tastes like cream cheese French butter cream…it is divine w/o being too sweet.

The cost for two huge cinnamon rolls at The Village Bakery? $4.42. I have paid that much for one at other bakeries. Please if you are in the neighborhood stop in at the Village Bakery