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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: 2014 Q1

Would You Like Sparkling or Still?

Marc J. Sievers

If you are like me then you have a lot of glassware—I have sets from casual to formal, glass and crystal, and short to tall.  I have it covered.  I think of glassware almost like jewelry for my tabletop:  many options, wonderfully interchangeable, and a great way to add style to the “basics” (think linens, flatware, place settings, etc.), or to make the formal more comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the classic water goblet, but I find that lately I am setting my table using a not-so-traditional glass for water.  From thin and elegant stem-less wine and champagne flutes, to rustic juice glasses, chunky stemware, and modern clean-lined highball glassware, the options are endless!

What I love even more is mixing up my water glasses each time I entertain.  It helps to keep my tablescape looking new and fresh to returning guests.  It also allows me to utilize what I already own, in different ways, thus being kind to my household budget (I know, I said the “B” word).  And if you will excuse me, I have a crystal goblet of water waiting for me!

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Plan B: Soup in Minutes

Marc J. Sievers

Well, it happened.  A few nights ago I was getting ready for a little dinner soirée and on my menu was a delicious homemade soup.  The table was set, the wine was open (which I was taste-testing, of course), the main course was in the oven, and the dessert was ready and waiting. In fact, all I had to do was purée my fresh creation.  Amazingly, I somehow tripped over my own two feet and the entire pot spilled all over my kitchen floor!  My heart dropped, my face froze, and all I could do was grab my wine glass, take a healthy swig (or 2!), and begin the daunting process of cleaning up what seemed like 10 gallons of soup.

After many kitchen towels, more swigs of wine, and a few inappropriate words later, my floor was clean.  But I still needed a soup course!  I opened my pantry and found Trader Joe’s Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup.  I then went to my refrigerator and found a package of fresh Trader Joe’s Cheese Tortellini.  My mind instantly filled with delicious memories of my favorite Italian restaurant in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, Antonio’s!  They used to offer a fabulous cheese tortellini soup with a base of fragrant vegetable broth and lots of fresh Parmesan cheese and parsley.

My variation of Creamy Tortellini Soup was a HIT!  It was made in minutes, using ready-made components, with the help of some heavy cream, black pepper, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  The tender tortellini float amidst a velvety and luxurious soup, making this a perfect soup to serve to company or indulge in on a chilly winter night after a long day.  Lesson of the day: Keep your pantry and refrigerator well-stocked with mix-and-match essentials. You never know when the need for Plan B will be just a soup-spill away!


Creamy Tortellini Soup

Ingredients (serves 2 generously, serves 4 accompanied with a salad or main dish)

  • Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup – 32 ounces (Trader Joe’s brand recommended)

  • Cheese Tortellini – 10 ounces, fresh (Trader Joe’s brand recommended)

  • Heavy Cream – 1 cup

  • Black Pepper - ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Parmigiano-Reggiano – ¼ cup, freshly grated

Directions

  1. Start by cooking the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

  2. In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat add the soup, heavy cream, and black pepper. Heat until completely warmed throughout.

  3. Ladle the hot soup into a serving bowl or individual serving bowls. Evenly distribute cooked tortellini and top with freshly grated cheese.

  4. Serve immediately.

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Bistro Salad

Marc J. Sievers

This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday.  Though it is a holiday in my head, it is still a regular workday for most of us.  But, it also promises to be a great start to a romantic weekend.  With that in mind, I want to keep the kitchen time down to a minimum on Friday so that I can kick off my “Valentine’s Weekend” doing what I love most—spending time with my Valentine.

What to do when you want to have a romantic night in sipping Champagne and gazing into your beau’s eyes, but still make a fabulously-delicious dish?  Using a few classics from the traditional Valentine’s Day pantry I created my delicious Bistro Salad, and it assembles faster than Cupid’s arrow can find its mark.

My Bistro Salad combines sweet honey, tangy goat cheese, strawberries, and chocolate making it the perfect romantic (and quick!) dinner on the Day of Love.  It takes just minutes to assemble and will pair perfectly with a bold Cabernet or crisp glass of bubbly.  Most importantly, it will give you the latitude to enjoy a rich and decadent dessert without robbing you of your sense of romance!  Whether you are spending this day with friends or your special someone, I hope the day brings love, hugs, and champagne.  Eat well, laugh often, and above all share the love, for Cupid’s sake!


Bistro Salad

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Greens – 5 ounces, rinsed and well-dried

  • Goat Cheese – 3 ounces, crumbled

  • Strawberries – 1 cup, hulled and quartered

  • Sliced Almonds – ¼ c cup

  • Pistachios – ¼ cup

  • Honey – 3 tablespoons

  • White Balsamic Vinegar – 3 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Dark Chocolate – 3 tablespoons, 72%, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Directions

  1. Place the greens in a serving vessel of your choice.

  2. Evenly distribute the strawberries, nuts, and goat cheese over the greens.

  3. Drizzle the honey and balsamic vinegar over top. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chocolate.

  4. Serve immediately.

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A Soul-Warming Dish: Sweet Potato Curry

Marc J. Sievers

Winter is one of my favorite seasons because the food can be so comforting, earthy, and filling!  Now that we are well beyond the (typically) over-indulgent holidays we have the opportunity to explore more flavors and ingredients beyond the staple dishes and recipes often repetitively (or traditionally) served in November and December.

To “spice up” your palate and repertoire there is nothing quite like a big bowl of my fragrant Sweet Potato Curry to warm you up while watching the snow fall.  It’s also a dish with a refreshing depth of flavor that not only comes from the spices but also the roasted sweet potatoes and fire-roasted canned tomatoes.

Roasting vegetables is my favorite way to cook them as the caramelization brings out their natural sweetness and imparts (and retains) the most flavor.  While the fire-roasted tomatoes have a kick (they are usually made with green chilies), you can always use crushed tomatoes for a milder flavor.

This recipe was inspired by classic Indian cuisine but uses ingredients familiar to the American palate and that are readily available at any local grocery store.  Get ready for a heart and soul-warming dinner; it is just 30 minutes away!  Eat well, laugh often, and share the love!


Sweet Potato Curry

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Sweet Potatoes – 2 large, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Olive Oil – 4 tablespoons, divided

  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon, divided

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked, divided

  • Red Onion – 1 small, ½-inch diced

  • Red Pepper – ½-inch diced

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, finely minced

  • Peas – 1 cup, frozen

  • Half and Half – ½ cup

  • Fire Roasted Tomatoes – (2) 15 ounce cans

  • Yellow Curry Powder – 2 ½ teaspoons

  • Turmeric – ½ teaspoon

  • Cumin – ½ teaspoon

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Parsley – ½ cup, Italian flat leaf, freshly chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Place the sweet potatoes onto a sheet pan and toss with 2 tablespoons of oil olive, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing once half way through the cooking time.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large sautée pan set over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, red onions, and red peppers. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the onions and peppers are tender.

  4. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes longer, being careful not to burn the garlic.

  5. Next, add the tomatoes, peas, half and half, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, honey, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper.

  6. Allow to come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes uncovered.

  7. Transfer to a large serving bowl and add the roasted sweet potatoes. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Tip: This dish pairs well with Basmati rice.  For a healthy alternative serve it with a fresh green salad and cucumbers.

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