Monday, April 18, 2022

Classes with the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, CA and Wheat Foods Council

So...I finally got to go to the CIA. Tim O'Conner, the President of Wheat Foods Council
invited me to attend this remarkable event in Napa last week! It was by and far one of the most amazing experiences yet! There were about 50 chefs there from all over the country that they considered the "most influential in wheat foods." To be honest, I was humbled beyond words to be invited, but also thrilled! The facility was gorgeous, and the instructors were world-class. 

In this elite invitation-only event, I was asked to attend the workshop at the CIA COPIA campus with Chefs Victor Gielisse and Chef Lisa Brefere, Consulting Partners of The Culinary Institute of America, Consulting Group. We explored the opportunity of differentiating in a competitive foodservice and hospitality market, driven by the challenges for Chefs in creating and implementing high-performing culinary teams. First, I explored the options that Chefs face and must understand in their business to determine what adds value. Then, learned at what stage to initiate another point of menu differentiation to stay ahead of the competition. New and natural value creation for organizations and teams were also highlighted.

Key outcomes from this two-day hands-on culinary session included:

  • Understanding and improving upon culinary repertoires by exploring creative uses of wheat foods within the global flavor palette
  • Analyzing the importance of plant-based approaches to create delicious culinary dishes with cultural appeal
  • Explore the principles of menu concepts and the impact on food and ingredient use
  • Continue to approach a diversity of menu strategies by leveraging globally inspired culinary strategies.
  • Lead with menu strategies around flavor development

I look forward to continuing my work with Wheat Foods Council and building on this friendship. I've learned so much from my relationships with wheat farmers across the country and seeing the change that is taking place in the world of food because of the hard work that state wheat councils are doing together nationally under the direction of the Wheat Foods Council is impressive.  

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Monday, March 28, 2022

The Missionary Cookbook Chapter 3: 9 Easy Egg Recipes for Beginners


For those who have been following the joyful journey of this family, you know that my youngest son Luke (pictured above on the far right) is now a missionary and away from home. I know I'm not the first mom who's had a child leave home and want to be sure they eat healthy easy meals. 

Missionaries for our church are not paid to serve, for those who don't know. They actually go on a volunteer basis and pay their own way. Their food allowance is meager. So, I decided to send my son a monthly recipe book with several new easy meals and recipes to try out.

Not every missionary has a chef for a mom. Luke told me he has several with him who have no idea where to begin. So here's where to begin. This stuff. The basics. I hope this helps you and your loved ones as much as I hope it helps him. This is the 3rd chapter, so please feel free to go back and check out the earlier ones. We'll sometimes have a theme. Sometimes not. This just worked out with Easter.        

April means Eggs! Easter there are always eggs on sale and these are a good source of protein. They're easy to cook and usually something that can be made pretty quickly. So this month we've got 10 recipes for easy eggs that these guys and gals can do. 

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs


6 to 12 large eggs, straight from the fridge


 Add the eggs to a saucepan and cover with water:

Fill a saucepan about a quarter of the way with cold water. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Add more water so that the eggs are covered by at least an inch or two of water.

The more eggs that are crowding the pan the more water you should have over the eggs. 6 eggs should be covered by at least an inch, 7 to 12 eggs, 2 inches.

Bring to a rolling boil: Leave the pan uncovered. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a rolling boil.

Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit: Depending on how cooked you like your hard-boiled eggs, the eggs should be done perfectly after sitting for 10-12 minutes. That said, depending on your altitude, the shape of the pan, the size of the eggs, and the ratio of water to eggs, it can take a few minutes more. Or if you like your eggs not fully hard-cooked, it can take a few minutes less. When you find a time that works for you, given your preferences, the types of eggs you buy, your pots, stove, and cooking environment, stick with it. I also find that it is very hard to overcook eggs using this method. I can let the eggs sit, covered, for up to 15-18 minutes without the eggs getting overcooked.


Adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the water may help keep egg whites from running out if an egg does crack while cooking. Also, some people find adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the water helps prevent cracking as well as makes the eggs easier to peel. If desired, add either or both of these ingredients as the water begins to boil.

If you live at a high altitude, let the eggs sit in the hot water longer or lower the heat and maintain a low simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.

Mom’s Baked Southwestern Chorizo Scotch Eggs

4 large eggs, hard-cooked and peeled

4 oz. good quality turkey sausage

4 oz. chorizo or soy-Rizo meat replacement

Home-made dry breadcrumbs or a good quality crumb such as Panko

Vegetable oil for brushing onto eggs.


Heat oven to 350°F.

Place the sausage meats in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Divide the sausage meat into 4 equal portions.

 Form each meat portion into a flat cake large enough to fit around the egg. 

Work the sausage meat around the egg as evenly as possible whilst working hard to keep the egg shape and making sure there are no cracks. 

Place the meat-coated eggs in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

 Roll the sausage-coated eggs into the crumbs and press lightly to ensure a good coating.

Mist generously with a spritz of vegetable oil, or coat lightly with oil using a pastry brush. Place on a cookie tray and pop into the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown all over.

Buffalo Chicken Eggs-n-Bacon Salad

4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 cup diced cooked chicken

¼ cup cooked diced bacon crumbles

½ cup low-fat mayonnaise

2 Tbsp celery, chopped

¼ cup blue cheese crumbles, optional

hot wing sauce (to taste)



·        In a medium bowl, combine all salad ingredients.

·       Serve on fresh buns or salad greens drizzled with more wing sauce.

Cupcake Quiche Cups

8-10 oz cooked turkey or ham, well-seasoned

8 slices of bacon, sliced into 3 pieces (total of 24 small pieces)

6 eggs, beat well

1/4 bell pepper, chopped fine (optional)

1 cup chopped fresh spinach (optional)

12 1-inch squares of Havarti or Swiss Cheese


·       Spray the inside of 12 muffins well with a non-stick coating (or line with a cupcake liner). 

·       Put pieces of bacon, spinach, and a few chunks of turkey or ham in each muffin cup.  Fill cup 2 Tbsp. scrambled egg. Put a nice little cheese on top of each cup. Bake 425°F for 13-15 minutes. Serve warm. Any leftovers need to go in the fridge. 

Variations of Flavors: Change the seasoning using your favorite variety of fajita seasoning for a Southwest quiche, French herbs de Provence for a more classic flavor, cooked potato or cooked rice can replace the bell pepper if desired. Play with these! 

Easy Ham and Egg Casserole

6 eggs, beaten

½ cup milk

1 cup ham or turkey ham, chopped

1 cup cheese, shredded

1 cup chopped tomato or cooked potato

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp.  ground pepper

2 Tbsp.  butter, melted

1/2 cup Bisquick or pancake mix


·       Mix everything together and put in a well-greased 9x13 cake pan.

·       Bake at 350° degrees for 40 minutes or until the knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

·       Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

2-Ingredient Fried Rice Patties (AKA Rice Patties)

These rice patties taste a lot like fried rice but hold their shape and are a great way to use up leftover rice. The rice must be cold and best if it is the next day. We love them made with rice-a-roni too. Yes, very fancy-schmancy. Yes, you can use brown rice or pretty much any cooked grain. Barley is amazing. My mom uses cold cooked cracked wheat. Yea, those are good too.

You will need:
2 cups cooked cooled rice (leftover in the fridge)
2-3 large egg


Mix the rice and egg.

In a large skillet with a heavy bottom, cook over medium heat. Make sure you use a non-stick pan or one you have oiled well.

Scoop them into little patties, about ½ cup of rice at a time. 

Cook 3-4 minutes on one side and then carefully slide a spatula under the patties and turn over gently. Cook 3-4 more minutes. We also like them with a slice of cheese.

 Top with butter while hot and season well with salt and pepper. They are delicious with soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or anything Asian. Hello daddy. There you go. Simple, comforting, and easy. What a wonderful world.

Mom's Gourmet French Toast

4 thick slices of day-old brioche or Texas Toast

2 eggs

1/3 cup whole milk, (80 ml)

1 tsp vanilla extract, (5 ml)

A pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon

2 tbsp unsalted butter, (28 grams) for the pan

powdered sugar, to garnish

maple syrup, to drizzle on top


·       To a medium, shallow bowl, add the eggs, milk, vanilla and spice, and granulated sugar. Whisk to combine and break up the eggs completely. 

·       In a medium pan over medium heat, melt 1/2 a tablespoon of butter, moving the pan from side to side to evenly distribute the melted butter.

·       Use a fork to dip a slice of brioche or bread into the liquid batter, dipping both sides of the brioche. Place the brioche into the prepared pan, cooking each side for approximately 1 minute, or until it's golden brown and crisp. Repeat this step for the remaining brioche slices, melting a 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the pan before frying each piece of bread.

·       Drizzle maple syrup all over, then dust with powdered sugar.

Easy Scrambled Cheese Eggs


4 eggs

½ cup cheddar cheese, grated (or Monterey Jack)

1 tsp butter

Salt and pepper to taste


 Put a frying pan on medium-low heat and put in the butter or oil.  

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat quickly with a fork.

Grate the cheese and have it ready.

 Tip the beaten eggs into the frying pan. Layer the cheese on top. The eggs will start to solidify almost straight away – as soon as they do use a spatula and ‘pull’ the eggs in from the side to the middle. Repeat the pulling in several times.

  It doesn’t take long, the idea behind this is you’ll have soft, lightly cooked fresh eggs. It’s hard to undercook an egg really, but very easy to overcook. 2 – 3 minutes of cooking time is all you’ll need. When the egg has no ‘watery’ bits left, you’re done! Add some salt and pepper to taste. Done! Quickly remove from heat and transfer to plate – preferably on top of some lovely, hot, buttered toast.

 Cheese Strata

This is a totally delicious, simple, make-ahead heaven of a dish that anyone could do in minutes and could not mess up!   It's bread cubes combined with an egg and milk batter topped with cheese or having the cheese folded into the bread mixture. It's then good for keeping in the fridge and baking at dinner time or baking ahead and reheating individual servings in the microwave or oven.  Usually, we omit the bacon and Jalapeno if we’re trying to save money since the bacon is just getting expensive, but that’s totally up to you!


 5-6 cups of bread cubes
6 oz brie, sliced (or any cheese of your choice)
 3 eggs
 2 cups milk or cream
 1/4 lb. bacon, diced (optional)
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced (optional)
Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
butter for coating the baking dish


  •  Butter the inside of an 8X8X4 inch baking dish and fill with bread cubes topping with brie slices. Crack fresh black pepper over the mixture and fold them together. 
  •  Combine the milk and eggs. Add salt and pepper to them. Whisk well. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and brie mixture. Allow to sit awhile. Now for the bacon and jalapeno. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat 3-4 minutes. Add the bacon. Cook until almost crispy then add the jalapenos.  Cook 2-3 minutes more.
  • Distribute the bacon mixture over the bread-brie mixture, leaving most of the bacon on top...meaning seriously don't mix them up. Do you know why? Because when you bake it, the bacon will stay crispy.
  • At this point, you can either put the unbaked strata in the fridge and chill for up to 1 week or bake for dinner/breakfast right now.  We usually opt for baking it right away. 350 degrees 20-25 minutes until bubbly and delicious. 
  • You'll have this thick rich layer of cheese strata topped with a crispy bacon jalapeno layer that will seriously rock the universe. Most of the time we drizzle it with maple syrup or a simple apricot jam for a savory-sweet yin-yang magical experience. 


There you go! Happy Egg cooking!

Always My Very Best,

Your Friend Chef Tess

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Missionary Cookbook Chapter 2--6 Easy Mom-Approved Meals with 6 ingredients or Less

The Missionary Cookbook. Chapter 2

For those who have been following the joyful journey of this family, you know that my youngest son Luke is now a missionary and away from home. I know I'm not the first mom who's had a child leave home and want to be sure they eat healthy easy meals. Missionaries for our church are not paid to serve those who don't know. They actually go on a volunteer basis and pay their own way. Their food allowance is meager. So, I decided to send my son a monthly recipe book with several new easy meals and recipes to try out. Not every missionary has a chef for a mom. Luke told me he has several with him who have no idea where to begin. So here's where to begin. This stuff. The basics. I hope this helps you as much as I hope it helps him.

Month Two.

Luke sent me a picture of his apartment kitchen. I think it is pretty nice compared to many! Plus two blenders. Seriously. What? Smoothies? Milkshakes? German pancakes.

He's really proud of the fact that he learned how to make German pancakes too. He sent me the recipe, so now I guess I need to know some new recipes! Hey mom. Make these! 

Last month, for those who missed it, we started with All Purpose flour recipes, which can be found here. To ensure Luke always has access to these recipes, I decided to share these recipes here on the blog. Plus, I figure this is also an excellent place for other moms and missionaries, college students, new parents, beginning cooks, and, well, anyone, to access the basics. 

This month, it's 6 Easy Meals with 6 Ingredients or Less. Included in his envelope with these recipes, I sent a Chili Powder, All-Purpose Seasoning, and Taco Seasoning packet. 

Mom's Easy Meal Recipes

2-Ingredient Ravioli Eggs

2 cups spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce with your favorite seasoning in it
6-8 eggs
Italian seasoning (optional)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)


·    In a heavy 10-inch skillet with a lid, pour tomato sauce.

·    Turn on heat to medium and slowly crack the eggs into the sauce as you would for poached eggs.

Sprinkle the top with Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese. Cover and reduce heat to low for 10-12 minutes until cooked through... yolks cooked silly.  

 Serve warm with bread for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For a spicier version see My Shakshuka

Camping at Home Foil "Hobo" Dinner's A La Mom

2 Russet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 cup frozen or fresh carrot
½ c chopped onion
1Tbsp. All-purpose or steak seasoning
4 hamburger or Turkey patties

2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 sheets of heavy-duty foil (use the heavy stuff if you don't want a mess) about one foot long each.


·       In a large bowl, combine the carrots, onions, potatoes, and seasoning.

·       Place one cup of vegetable mixture onto a lightly oiled sheet of foil. 

·       Place the hamburger on top of the vegetable mixture and wrap tightly.

·       Roll the ends and sides very well. Repeat until you have used all your hamburger and vegetable mixture. You can use veggie burgers if you choose instead of meat. Top the beef with a few tablespoons of gravy if you want. 

Baking directions: Place a 400-degree oven on a sheet pan for 20-25 minutes until the hamburger is cooked through.

Mom's Home-Style Chili

½ lb. hamburger or ground turkey (about 2 patties of frozen meat)
½ cup chopped onion
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans
2 Tbsp. chili powder or Fajita Seasoning


·       Cook the beef and the onion on the stove in a quart-sized pot.

·       Add the seasoning and remaining ingredients. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

·       Serve with shredded cheese or biscuits if desired.


Mom's Super Easy Cheesy Taco Rice Casserole

3 cups cooked rice*
2 cup tomatillo salsa or red salsa
1 packet taco seasoning of your choice (or homemade),
1 cup shredded cheese


·       Mix the taco seasoning with salsa. Mix the salsa mixture into the rice. Place in a 9X13 casserole dish. You can add any cooked beef or chicken if you want. 

·       Cover with cheese.

·       You can cover and store up to 5 days in the fridge or bake and eat right away.

·       Bake 20-25 minutes uncovered at 350°F or 10-12 minutes in the microwave on high until heated through.

*Basic Rice on the stovetop

1 cup white rice
2 cups water
salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp)


·Combine water and salt in a 1 and a half quart (6 cups) capacity heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil.
· Add the rice, cover the pot, and turn the burner to the lowest setting.
· Cook covered without stirring for 20 minutes. Fluff.

Mom's Home Style Simple Chicken Noodle Soup (just the noodles and the chicken)

1 cup cooked chicken (about one breast or thigh chopped and cooked)
1 1/2 cup broken dry linguine or fettuccine noodles (I go by weight 3.5 oz)
1 Tbsp Chicken Bullion (or 4 cubes)
2 tsp garlic granules or powder
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp turmeric (for color and flavor)
¼ cup flour (optional)


·       Combine all the ingredients in a pot. Add 6 cups water. 

·       Bring to a boil, stir and simmer 12-15 minutes until noodles are tender. Serve hot. 

*You may add frozen vegetables like peas, carrots, onions, and so on. Put them in when the noodles are cooked and warm through. This will make sure the noodles cook correctly.

Mom's Roasted Corn, Potato, and Chicken Green Chile Skillet Meal

3 cups frozen corn (fresh corn pictured)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped roasted mild green chiles (one small can)
1 cup chopped peeled potatoes (cut in small cubes)
2 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless chopped
Fajita seasoning (to taste and optional)
1 can (15 oz) stewed Mexican Style tomatoes like Ro-tel


Sauté the onions, chicken, and corn in 1Tbsp. hot oil for 5-6 minutes until well cooked and slightly caramelized. Add all remaining ingredients.

Sauté 10-15 minutes more until potatoes are cooked through


There you go! Make some healthy meals away from home.

Love you!

Always My Very Best,

Chef Tess