We hosted our first online cooking class in December. For the first time the Virtual Dinner Party  was able to bake together as a group in real time through the magic of Zoom.  I have to confess, there was a steep learning curve for me. The internet time lag and impersonal nature of zooming was a bit weird, but attendees cheerily persevered through my missteps. They took it in stride that I forgot to mention what mixer attachment to use when making a meringue, and they totally had my back when I left them unattended to search my cupboards for ingredients I had forgotten to set out. But even with the glitches, I am extremely thankful for the experience.  Zooming is no substitute for face to face gathering, but in these very unusual times, it was miraculous to be able spend time with our community of chefs and diners for just one night.  For me the best part was the spirited text volley between participants that occurred after the class. I am smiling still at how our group continued to inspire and share their creativity with one another.

For the class we prepared a Holiday Meringue Cake with Chocolate and Rosemary.  Sheree Giesenhaggen and Christy Lueders turned out stunning creations while John Reed provided very insightful and spot on baking recommendations.  His thoughtful contribution solved the uneven baking conundrum for the group.  In order to ring in the New Year with style, Katy Petersen and Colette Szczensy held off on assembling their cakes until the 31st.  I am certain champagne was the perfect accompaniment to complement their handiwork. And, always delightful Kristin and John Hunt were there too, cheering the group on with their humor and good spirits. It truly was a party!

Please know how grateful I am for the opportunity to continue to cook with you. The activity and your participation continue to boost my spirits. I know that no amount of cooking will fill the void of missing actual contact with our community, but I do hope that this activity and these recipes will help build a bridge to connect us in some way.

All good things to you and yours in 2021 – Victoria

If you were unable to make it to the class, I encourage you to try the recipe.



6 ea                                      egg whites

1 ¼ C                                    granulated sugar, divided

1 T                                         cornstarch

splash                                  white wine vinegar

2 T                                         rosemary leaves

1 ea                                      orange zest

2 T                                         confectioners’ sugar

2 C                                         heavy whipping cream

¼ C                                        sour cream

1 ea                                      high quality bittersweet chocolate bar (such as Lindt)

                                                Fresh rosemary, for garnish


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Prepare rosemary orange sugar:  Combine ¼ granulated sugar, rosemary leaves, and orange zest in food processor.  Process vigorously until rosemary and orange are finely chopped and combined well with sugar.  Set aside.

Prepare baking sheets: On a sheet of parchment paper, draw three 8” circles.  I use a salad plate as a guide and trace around it with a pencil.  Place parchment on a baking sheet and set aside.

Prepare cake:  Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites on medium low speed until foamy (about 1 minute).  Increase speed to medium high and slowly add the remaining 1 C sugar.  Continue whipping until eggs become soft and fluffy.  Gently sift cornstarch over meringue and mix gently.   Fold in vinegar and 3T of rosemary orange sugar.

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Here’s what you need to know to get started…..

RSVP to join the class by messaging me through Nextdoor or emailing me at by December 26h.

Once you are registered, purchase the ingredients, gather your equipment, and get ready to bake!

On Sunday, December 27th, you’ll receive an email with the complete recipe instructions and a link to join the class online on Monday the 28th.

At 4 PM MT on Monday, December 28th, join Victoria and all your VDP friends on Zoom to celebrate the season by making a Holiday Meringue Cake with Orange, Chocolate and Rosemary.

Everyone is invited but only a limited number of spaces are available, and they’re expected to fill up quickly. Reserve your spot today!

Ingredient shopping  list:

  • 6 ea     egg whites
  • 1 ¼ C   granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 T       cornstarch
  • splash white wine vinegar
  • 2 T       rosemary leaves, **creeping rosemary found in your yard will work here as long as it has not been sprayed with chemicals.
  • 1 ea     orange zest
  • 2 T       confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 C       heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ C      sour cream
  • 1 ea     high quality bittersweet chocolate bar (such as Lindt, Callebaut or Scharffen Berger)
  • Fresh rosemary, for garnish

Equipment list:

  • Ho ho ho attitude
  • Oven
  • Food processor or sharp chef knife and cutting board
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Pencil
  • Spatula
  • Citrus zester (optional)
  • Serrated knife (helpful but not required)

Day of Event Pre-Class Directions

  • Gather all ingredients and equipment needed.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees.
  • Grab your eggnog and sign on to the Zoom link provided. Sign in starts at 3:45PM. Class starts at 4PM.

Hope you can join us!

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 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1” cubes

 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, plus more for rolling cookies

  Pinch salt

  2 t pure vanilla extract

  2 ¼ C all-purpose flour

  2 t cinnamon

  1 T ginger

  1 t cloves

  2 T molasses

  1 ¼ C toasted pecans, chopped

*TIPS – measure nut after chopping and cool completely after toasting before proceeding with the recipe. Any other nuts may be substituted for the pecans.


 Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse the toasted pecans in the work bowl of your food processor using short quick bursts.  *it is important to pulse the nuts rather than pureeing them – you don’t want to end up with nut butter.  Some chefs like to add a bit of sugar to the nuts to help facilitate easy movement in the food processor. Set aside.

Place powdered sugar, flour and spices in food processor.  Add cold butter pieces and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Add cooled, chopped pecans and molasses. Pulse again until blended. Continue to pulse until dough comes together and can be shaped into balls.

While cookies are baking, place 1-1 ½ cups of additional powdered sugar in a shallow mixing bowl and set aside.

Portion dough into 1 ½” pieces and roll into balls.  Place 2” apart on prepared sheet pans and bake 14-18 minutes until cookies are slightly browned and firm to the touch.

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12 oz.     bag spinach (or mixture of spinach and heartier greens)

 2 T          unsalted butter                   

2 t           cumin seeds (or 1 t ground)

2 t           whole coriander (or 1 t ground)

3 t           cardamom pods (or ½ t ground)

½” pc.    cinnamon bark (or ½ t ground)

2 t         curry powder

1 ea.       onion, minced

3 ea.       garlic cloves, minced

½ “          ginger, grated

½ ea.       jalapeno, minced fine (or to taste)

1 ea.       basket grape tomatoes, halved

1 ea.       sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½” cubes

¼ C          cashews, coarsely chopped

1 C          divided, chicken or vegetable stock (or more if needed)

½ C          buttermilk (or sub ½ C milk mixed with 2 T sour cream)

¼ C          cilantro, chopped

Basmati rice and naan for serving


Prepare Spices:  Place all spices in a dry skillet over medium heat and gently shake the pan to ensure even cooking.  Once the spices start to release their aroma pop and (if you’re toasting whole spices,) quickly remove from the heat and empty the spices onto a dinner plate to cool. If you are using whole spices, grind spices to a fine powder with mortar and pestle or spice/coffee grinder. Set aside

Prepare spinach:  Rinse spinach and shake dry.  Place in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic film.  Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until spinach is wilted.  Remove from microwave and carefully poke a hole in plastic film to allow steam to escape.  When cool, drain well in colander and coarsely chop. Set aside.

Prepare sauce:  Melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add cooled spices and cook, stirring constantly, 45 seconds or until fragrant.  Add onion, and cook until onion is well browned. You want to cook the onions until they turn a deep golden brown and become extremely fragrant (this is key to curry’s intense flavor.) – It should take about 10 minutes on medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and jalapeno and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Stir in chopped tomatoes and chopped sweet potatoes with ½ C stock or water. Cook until potatoes are cooked through 7-9 minutes. You may need to add a bit of stock or water if tomatoes do not put out sufficient liquid.

Transfer half of onion/tomato mixture and half of reserved spinach to blender or food processor and process briefly. Add remaining ½ C stock and cashews and puree until smooth. You may need to add more stock or water to get a smooth puree. Return pureed mixture to skillet.

Finish sauce:  Return skillet to medium high heat and add remaining chopped spinach and buttermilk to sauce.  Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until heated through and very flavorful. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve over basmati rice with naan if desired.

Serves 2 generously

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4 oz.  wide rice noodles


 2 T ketchup         

3 T brown sugar

2 T soy sauce

2 t Worcestershire sauce

2 T rice wine vinegar

1 ½ T oyster sauce

2 t Asian red chili sauce, optional or to taste


2 boneless skinless chicken breast (or thigh), sliced thin

2 T oil

½ shallot minced

2 cloves garlic, mined

1 t ginger, minced

2 eggs, lightly beaten with 2 t water

1 C bean sprouts

1 large bunch scallions, sliced on the diagonal in 1 ½” lengths

½ C peanuts, chopped


2 ea. limes

Additional chopped peanuts and cilantro sprigs


Prepare sauce: Combine all ingredients for sauce and mix well.  Set aside.

 Prep rice noodles: Boil about 8 C of water in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and add rice noodles.  Soak for 5 minutes until pliable. Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside. *Do not let soaked noodles sit around for longer than 15 minutes or so.

In a large skillet or wok heat 2 T of oil.  Add shallot and garlic and cook for 30 seconds, taking care not to let garlic brown.  Add chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes.   Push chicken and aromatics to one side of pan and add eggs. Allow to set before stirring. You are after pieces of cooked egg instead of chicken coated with egg. Combine cooked egg with chicken. 

Add drained and rinsed noodles, bean sprouts, peanuts and scallion to pan. Add sauce and toss gently for 1-2 minutes or until sauce is absorbed by noodles.

Serve immediately garnished with lime, cilantro and more chopped peanuts.

2 generous servings.

*Recipe notes:

Prep all ingredients before starting the stir frying process.  Things move pretty quickly once you get started!

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2 T olive oil

¼ # spicy smoked sausage, chopped (Linguica, dry smoked Chorizo or Andouille)

*bacon, pancetta or ham may be substituted

¼ C yellow onion, chopped fine

1 t garlic, minced

¼ C red bell pepper, chopped

¼ C green bell pepper, chopped

½ t cayenne pepper

2 C fresh or frozen white sweet corn, thawed

1 C frozen shelled edamame, thawed

½ C grape tomatoes, halved

½ bunch scallions, minced

2 T Italian parsley, minced

Squeeze of lemon juice, Salt and pepper


Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.  Sauté chopped sausage until crispy and browned.  Add onions and cook until softened, add garlic, cayenne and corn and edamame.  Sauté until flavors are combined and fragrant.  Add tomatoes, parsley and scallions. Adjust salt and pepper and add lemon juice.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 2-4 with leftovers

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1 ea.                        small sized butternut squash, scrubbed, peeled & seeded

1 T                           melted butter

2 T                           whole milk or cream

½ C                          whole wheat panko bread crumbs

¼ C                          grated parmesan cheese

1 clove                    garlic

1 T                           fresh thyme, minced

1 t                            fresh rosemary, minced

Pinch                       nutmeg

2 T                           VERY cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

                                Generous salt and freshly ground black pepper

Special equipment;   2    12” chopsticks


Prepare bread crumb topping:  combine whole wheat bread crumbs, minced herbs, garlic cloves nutmeg, parmesan, and butter cubes in the bowl of a food processor.  Process crumbs in quick pulses to a cornmeal-like consistency.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Prepare butternut squash:  Peel the squash using a vegetable peeler. Cut the squash in half vertically, scoop out the seeds, place face down in a zip lock style freezer bag., Add 3 T water and seal bag leaving 1” of zip lock unsealed. Microwave on high until squash is only slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Let steam in bag for an additional 1 minute. *Take care when removing the bag from the microwave.  Hot water and steam may escape and could potentially burn you.

Remove squash from bag and place cut side up until cool enough to handle.

Place squash half, cut-side down, on cutting board. Place chopsticks parallel to the squash on either side.  This will prevent your knife from cutting all the way through the squash.  Thinly slice crosswise in 1/8” slices taking care not to cut all the way through.  After slicing, place the squash halves cut side down on a parchment lined sheet pan. *Video prep

Combine melted butter and milk and drizzle over squash taking care to get some of the liquid down between the slices. Liberally salt and pepper squash before stuffing the with the prepared crumb mixture. Make sure to get the crumb mixture between the layers.  Press remaining crumbs on top.  Place prepared squash in oven and bake until fork tender, about 15-18 minutes.  Watch that the topping is not browning too much. If it is, tent lightly with aluminum foil to finish the baking.

Serves 2 generously or 4 as a side dish

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2 slices    thick cut bacon, cut into ¼” pieces

1 C           red cabbage, cut into ½” pieces

3T             sherry vinegar                                            

2 C            sweet potato, washed, peeled and cut into ¼” cubes (about 1 large or 2 small)

½ C          onion, sliced thin                  

¼ C          low sodium chicken stock

¼ C          Feta cheese, crumbled       

2 T            Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

                  Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add bacon and cook until crisp.  Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Set aside.

Pour off all but 1 T bacon fat from skillet and reserve. 

Sauté red cabbage over medium heat until slightly wilted but still crisp.  Add 2 T vinegar, salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vinegar has reduced slightly.  Transfer cabbage to another plate.  Set aside.

In same skillet, add the reserved bacon fat and heat over medium heat.  Add sweet potatoes and onions and sauté until golden and lightly browned.  Add ¼ C stock and remaining vinegar.  Cook until sweet potatoes are cooked through, about 5 minutes. 

Off the heat add cooked bacon and crumbled Feta.

Place in serving bowl and top with red cabbage and chopped parsley.

Serves 2 with leftovers

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1 ½ #  spaghetti squash, microwaved

4 oz. chicken sausage

2 T olive oil, divided

½ onion, diced small

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ C white wine or chicken stock

2 T fresh basil, minced

3 T Parmesan cheese, shredded


Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, place face down in a zip lock style freezer bag., Add 3 T water and seal bag leaving 1” of zip lock unsealed. Microwave on high until squash is slightly softened, about 7 minutes. Let steam in bag for 1 -2 additional minutes. *Take care when removing the bag from the microwave.  Hot water and steam may escape and could potentially burn you.

Remove squash from bag and place cut side up until cool enough to handle.

When cool, gently scrape the flesh using a dinner fork to produce the delicate strands.  Toss with 1T olive oil and 2 T parmesan cheese.

While squash is cooking, cook sausage in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

Return pan to heat and sauté onion in 1 T olive oil until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned. Add cherry tomatoes, white wine (or stock) and cook until tomatoes soften and begin to burst. Lightly crush tomatoes using the back of a spoon or potato masher.  Add salt and pepper to taste and finish with minced basil.

Top spaghetti squash with sausage marinara, additional Parmesan and basil.

Serves 2

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1              medium lemon or lime, juiced

2T           hoisin sauce

¼ C         scallion, minced

¼ C         low-sodium soy sauce

¼ C         rice vinegar

1 T          garlic, minced

1 T          ginger, grated

¼ t          black pepper


½ C          dry sherry

¼ C         molasses

2 t           salt

2 T          no-salt-added Cajun seasoning

1 T          tomato paste

½ t          dried thyme

¼ C         cider vinegar


1 T          vegetable oil

1 C          sliced onion

¼ C         fresh gingerroot, minced

2 T          garlic, minced

1 t           serrano chile pepper, sliced

¼ C         cilantro, minced

1 T          curry powder

1 T          garam masala

1 C          Greek yogurt (6 oz.)


2 T          fresh rosemary, minced

2 T          fresh parsley, minced

2 T          garlic, minced

1 T          olive oil

Grated zest of 2 lemons

1 T          Dijon mustard

2 t           salt

1 t           coarse ground black pepper


Place all marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until well combined. Pour marinade into a large nonreactive bowl. Add chicken; cover and marinate in the refrigerator 30-60 minutes. Turn meat halfway through marinating time.  Remove chicken from marinade & pat dry; discard marinade.

Heat grill pan or skillet until hot.  If you are using an outdoor grill, make sure grill grates are clean by scraping with clean grill brush and set up a hot side and a cool side on your grill surface. If you are cooking indoors and using an indoor grill pan or skillet, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Place chicken breast on hot part of grill and cook until chicken develops a nice sear, 2-3 minutes.  Flip chicken and cook until second side about 2 minutes.  Move chicken to cool side of grill with thicker part of the breast facing the hot side. Cover grill and continue to cook 5-7 minutes.  If you are using an indoor grill pan, transfer chicken to a preheated oven instead of moving to cool side of grill.  Finish in oven for 5-7 minutes.  Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest, tented with foil, 5 minutes.  Carve breast into ½” slices and serve.

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