Do you view cooking as a chore?

Or do you see it as a relax time, that takes your mind off daily troubles?

I don’t know why but I was always capable of relaxing in the kitchen. Unless I was stressing about preparing a party for 35 + with approaching arrival time and me not nearly ready🙂 No matter how stressful my day is, when I come to the kitchen, and start fantasizing about what I can make for dinner, the stress of the day goes a way. Sometimes pouring myself a glass of wine while cooking makes it even more enjoyable.  I enjoy the control over what I eat and what I put in my food, don’t you?

Girl cooking

You see, when I first moved  to America from Czech Republic 14 years ago, I was surprised how different certain foods tasted, compare to what I was used to. I couldn’t find a mustard that I like – everything was either too sweet or too sour to my taste. The same goes for pickles. The butter, way too salty! (until I discovered the unsalted kind). And the yogurt, my ultimate favorite, soooo overly sweet, I started making my own.

Not to mention the bread that never goes bad (that freaked me out). So I slowly went back to basics – I bake my own rye bread without preservatives, I make my own mustard, and I found a brand of pickles I like.

But it’s funny, when faced with another culture and tastes, how different may everything seem. I remember how American tourists, visiting Prague, went to eat to McDonald’s (although they wouldn’t eat it at home) just because it felt safe, familiar. Despite the fact that you can pick a fabulous restaurants in Prague and eat really well anywhere. Fear of the unknown?

Going back to my cooking habits – after all, the return to simple, old style cooking proved to be the best way to go. Yes, I use real eggs,  good old olive oil and butter instead of margarine. Interestingly, that’s where all the latest diet trends go! After all, the good, solid meal from whole ingredients has the ability to make us happy, and to heal both the body and the soul. That’s why I love what I do.

I’m not sure where you’re reading this, but I’m assuming it may be somewhere cold in January. Living in Florida these past few years made me easily forget that people are actually cleaning up the snow in some parts of the country!

As everybody I know is trying to eat healthier after the lavish holidays, or they came up with the New Year’s resolution to finally loose that belly fat (again), I’d like to share with you one of my favorite, super simple recipes. Adventurous enough to experiment with new flavors? Then you must try this delicious, low calorie, easy to make recipe for Curried Eggplant with Chickpeas and Spinach.  Perhaps not your typical “comfort food for a dark winter night”. But you never know, until you try it!

Will you share with me how you enjoyed it, if you decide to make it?

Honey Orange BBQ Chicken

A while ago, I was searching for recipes with some sweetness to it (since that’s what one of my clients enjoys). I found this recipe on Food Network website, courtesy of Patrick and Gina Neely.

The ingredients sounded promising, I tried it, loved it and so do my clients. It’s  in my repertoire ever since. There are never enough of good chicken recipes, right?

Honey Orange BBQ Chicken

Here is what do you need:

For Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sriracha
  • 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 chicken cut into 10 pieces – or chicken cutlets (how many you need)

For Glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) organic butter’
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (I am not a big fan of sweet, so I put little less)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce (I use Annie’s Naturals Organic BBQ Sweet & Spicy Sauce from Whole Foods)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

Mix the orange juice, olive oil, hot sauce, mustard and orange zest together in a large bowl. Pour into gallon zip lock and add the chicken (washed and patted dry with paper towels). Close and shake well so everything is covered with marinade.

If you GRILL: Prepare the grill to medium direct heat. Let the chicken come to room temperature before grilling.

If you cook it on top of the STOVE: If making chicken cutlets, I made them on top of the stove, in cast iron skillet.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Grill on each side for 5 minutes, then turn the heat to medium-low and cover the lid of the grill. Continue cooking the chicken until it’s cooked through, about 25 minutes more.

STOVE: The same goes here. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. I have then cooked the cutlets on high heat for about 2 minutes on each side, then placed the skillet in an oven, preheated to 350ËšF, for about 10 minutes.

GRILL: While the chicken is grilling, melt the butter in a small saucepan o the grill. Whisk in the honey, orange juice, BBQ sauce, zest, mustard and allspice. Reserve a bigger half of the glaze in a small bowl for serving.

STOVE: You can do the same on top of the stove, melt the butter, then take off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Reserve a bigger half of the glaze in a small bowl for serving. You don’t need that much for glazing, and when you dip it in the glaze afterwards on the plate – hm hm hmmmm.

GRILL: Brush the chicken pieces with glaze, then flip the chicken, glaze side down, and cook for 2 minutes. Brush second side of the chicken with glaze and flip again. Continue cooking for 3 more minutes. Remove the chicken from the grill to a platter and serve with reserved glaze.

STOVE: Take the pan out of the oven, brush the chicken cutlets with glaze and put back for about a minute. Then take out again, flip glaze side down, brush the other side and finish cooking for about 2 more minutes.

Instead of opening and closing oven, you can  also take the pan out of the oven, return it to the stove, and do the glazin’  and flippin’ on top of the stove. Don’t forget that the pan is super hot – better use oven mitts! You can add little more glaze into the pan as the chicken will get this beautiful brown caramelized color!

I have served it here with quinoa pilaf, but you can make roasted wedged potatoes, just grilled vegetables, rice, couscous – whatever you desire! Hope you enjoy this dish!

Honey Orange BBQ Chicken

I paired this dish with super dry, Austrian Grűner Veltliner from Weingut-Groiss and it worked great for me. Good Grűner Veltliner such as this one (my house wine, it comes in 1L bottle) is probably the most versatile wine you can find. It pairs with almost anything! And, one other important thing, if you don’t plan to finish the whole bottle – Grűner Veltliner practically doesn’t change its quality if you close it back and put it in the fridge. Even few days doesn’t make a difference. You can’t say that about most of the wines – 2 days usually are the most you can keep them. And some start falling apart even after 24 hours.

If you prefer red wine, I can imagine it may work but I would stick with lighter body wine, such as Pinot Noir or Sangiovese. Something young, fresh and fruity. Cheers!



Simple Indian dish, all roasted in oven

Although I am not a vegetarian, I occasionally enjoy meatless dinner options without even thinking twice. And having this demand from my clients, I am constantly searching for more and more options and various cuisines to make my menus more interesting. Flipping through old Food & Wine magazines, I found this recipe, created by Grace Parisi. It had all the ingredients I like. Here is my slightly adapted version of

Curried Eggplant with Chickpeas and Spinach

Curried eggplant


  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
  • 1 dried, crumbled chili if you like to add heat
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch pieces (I did not peel the eggplant)
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and washed in colander
  • 1/4 cup finely julienned fresh ginger
  • Freshly ground pepper and Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 5-oz bag baby spinach
  • Warm naan and Greek yogurt, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. On a work surface, mash the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. In a large bowl, mix the paste with the curry powder and vegetable oil. Cut eggplant into similar size cubes, mix with onion, chickpeas and ginger, season with salt and pepper. Toss well together with the dressing so every piece is coated with seasoning and oil.

Spread the vegetables in an even layer and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the eggplant and onion are tender. Take out of the oven, stir in the spinach (mix so it’s covered with roasted vegetables) and roast just until wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve with warm naan and yogurt.

Curried eggplant, chickpeas and spinach

Seasoned yogurt:

  • 3 full tablespoons of Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove of garlic, mashed
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly cut mint and parsley

Mix together and enjoy with curried eggplant dish.

Curried eggplant

Healthy cookies? Hell Yes!!!

As a Personal chef, I’m always on the hunt for the newest, best recipes supporting the latest trends and diets. I cook for clients who follow certain diets and in order to make sure they stay on track, it’s my job to make their meals colorful enough. And, if you have sweet cravings, there must be something out there to satisfy your needs while staying within the dietary guidelines, right?? Right! I found this recipe on “Livin Paleo”  – I found many more treasures there, so I am sure to be coming for more later. Reading the recipe for these cookies, I loved the ingredients and immediately tried it at home.

Who said dieting has to be boring, “chewing cardboard” or “choking on salads”? If you follow the latest trends as your lifestyle change (which, honestly, any diet should be, unless you want to enjoy the famous yo-yo effect when you go off it), you can bet that soon there is enough passionate volunteers sharing exciting recipes to make it more interesting and flavorful.

The result was truly delicious, soft and flavorful cookie I can have with my coffee guilt-free. I am a big fan of cinnamon not just for its taste, but also its enormous health benefits, so I wasn’t shy with cinnamon use inside and out. Hope you enjoy it too!

Paleo Cinnamon Cookies

Paleo Cinnamon Cookies

Paleo Cinnamon Cookies

  • 1/4 cup of raw honey
  • 1/4 cup of organic coconut oil, melted
  • 1 whole organic egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (I used Vanilla extract with Stevia from Whole Foods)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of almond flour/meal
  • 1 tsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon and 3 more for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • sprinkle of salt

Yield: about 14 small/medium size cookies

Preheat oven to 350ËšF and put a jar of coconut oil and honey (if yours crystallized) on the (turned off) stove so it can naturally melt as the oven preheats. Mix almond flour with coconut flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda and add pinch of salt to combine.

In the cup, beat one egg with fork and add to the dry mix. Add vanilla extract (or real beans’ seeds if preferred), honey, melted coconut oil and mix well to combine. The result batter should look like this:

Healthy Cinnamon Cookies

The batter for Paleo Cinnamon Cookies


Form small balls in the palm of your hands (I used the smallest, 1/8 cup measurement spoon to make sure I have similar sized cookies), and roll in cinnamon you sprinkled on a plate. You may need more than 3 tablespoons of cinnamon powder, depends how generous you’re with dusting.


Cinnamon powder

Lay cookies on the baking sheet – flattening the balls into similar cookie shapes. I flattened the cookies already in the cinnamon “bath” so they get more cinnamon on them.


Bake for 10 minutes. After they’re done, they will feel soft to the touch. Do not move them until they cool off. Let them sit on the counter on the baking sheet for moment. By the time they cool off, cookies develop a thin, soft skin. Don’t expect a crunchy, hard cookie though. This is a soft, moist  goodness, full of flavors.

I just love them – and they’re full of healthy protein!!! Enjoy!

My super-food salad

It was one of those days when you feel like something light, refreshing, delicious …. and good for you. Easy task, right? Since I live in Florida, I feel like eating like that almost all the time. Easier said than done. But this time, I just looked around what was in my fridge, in the pantry, and whipped out this super delicious salad – I hope you would enjoy as well. I called it:

Super-food Salad

Super-food Salad

My Super-food Salad

For the salad:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 green pepper
  • 6 Campari tomatoes
  • ½ cucumber
  • Small piece of ginger root – minced
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Feta crumbles

For dressing:

  • Organic olive or coconut oil
  • Lime juice from 2 limes
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Salt and freshly grated pepper

Avocado – on top (optional)


Cook one cup of quinoa in 2 cups of chicken stock (per instructions), fluff with fork when cooked and let cool in large salad bowl.

Clean and chop green peppers, scallions, cucumber (skin on or off, whatever you prefer), clean and chop ginger root and tomatoes – everything to very small pieces.   Set aside until the quinoa is cooled off.

In dry frying pan roast black sesame seeds and chia seeds to release their flavor. Let sit and cool.

When quinoa cooled down to room temperature, add all the chopped vegetables , seeds and season the salad with salt and pepper. Sprinkle lime juice all over and add good quality organic olive or coconut oil.

Wash and chop both herbs (you can add parsley as well as chives, your own phantasy is your guide).

Add whole package of crumbled feta cheese and mix the salad so everything is evenly distributed.

I have served a bowl of the salad with half of avocado, sprinkled with lime juice and we just loved it! It is delicious on its own or as a side dish for your grilled chicken or some other delicious protein🙂

Serve at the room temperature. I always make more – it keeps well in the fridge for another day or two. Always bring back to room temperature, mix and eventually add more lime juice.

Enjoy with a glass (or two) of crisp, refreshing citrusey (is that a word?) Gruner Veltliner, like one of my all time favorites, Weingut-Groiss

The healthiest dessert ever?

This old time family favorite is not only possibly the healthiest dessert ever, but it could also compete for a title of the simplest, yummiest desserts out there. I am not even kidding.

The healthiest dessert ever

The healthiest dessert ever

I came from family of 4 kids and my family didn’t have enough money for all the necessities. The way to cut on food cost was to grow some “food” ourselves. So we always had some vegetables and fruits planted in our back yard and as kids we were excited to help with the farming. The only bad thing about having fruit trees like cherry, plum or apple trees – or bushes of currant, or rows of strawberries and raspberries –  was the fact that they all ripe at the same time. So you go from zero to suddenly baskets of fruits that were perishable. Our mom had to quickly figure out what to do with it before it rotten and all that work is wasted. So our summer breaks were full of canning fruit, making jams, and preparing for winter. There was still plenty of fruit we can eat fresh while picking it, and plenty of desserts to enjoy.

Strawberry Snow  was one of the quickest, inexpensive, easiest to make, good for you but also some of the most delicious of fruit desserts.

To feed family of 5, all you need is:

  • 1lb of ripe strawberries
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1-2 tablespoon of sugar (or agave or Stevia, if you want it super healthy)

Within 10 minutes you have heavenly light strawberry dessert that’s healthy protein loaded, no flour, no fat and no baking involved.

So what is it and how it’s done?

Wash strawberries, remove their stems and cut into small pieces (or pulse few times in the food processor). Don’t mush them all the way to watery substance, you will likely enjoy some pieces of fruit in your Strawberry Snow. Add sugar (to the taste) or sweetener substitute. I like to use agave nectar and leave it sweet and savory, not overly sweet. That’s everyone personal preference. Set aside.

Separate egg whites from yolks – very carefully, because if you only get a little piece of yolk into your whites, you ruin it and the “snow peaks” are not going to be firm enough. Keep yolks for your scrambled eggs in the morning (in the fridge) and beat egg whites with hand mixer on high speed until firm stiff peaks are formed – when you turn the mixer up side, the egg whites should be firm enough to stand. Make sure there is no liquid left on the bottom of your bowl.

Slowly, spoon by spoon, fold the strawberry mixture into the whipped egg whites. The foam will start to take on the strawberry color and it will be nice a fluffy. Spread into martini glasses and serve immediately. You can decorate each glass with mint if desired.

Strawberry snow

Strawberry snow

The only downside of this dessert is that you can’t keep it for later. Within 20-30 minutes of standing in room temperature or in fridge, the egg whites starts to loose its foam and will liquify again. But between two of us – this dessert is so yummy and so light, even the biggest dieter in your family will have second right away. I don’t think you will run into that problem anyway!

Are you in the mood for more?

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Have a picky eater at home?

Let’s talk about the V word here for a while. How do we get kids to eat their vegetables? Vegetables

I was raised very strict. We were four kids and my oldest sister was babysitting the rest of us. Yes, she still rubs it in my face any opportunity she gets. When I was born, my parents were DIY building their house (when they weren’t at work), so nobody had time to cater to us, kids. Nobody did my homework with me (I was just EXPECTED to bring good grates from school and stay out of trouble), nobody played with us. “Oh, you are bored? I will find you something to do!” (I hope you can hear my mom’s sarcastic voice?). We came from school and were expected to help around the house. The same applied for eating habits.

No, my mother never asked me what I wanted for dinner. She didn’t have time nor patience to cater to anybody. Now I sound like someone from the last century (which literally, I am, LOL). In my childhood, we were given a dinner. We were not allowed to complain about it. I could cry, hate something, but I had to eat it anyway. I remember how my father filled a soup plate full of spinach that I despised, and I couldn’t leave the table until that plate was empty. It was growing in my throat, I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep it in, but I did, out of fear, because I must. He was sitting there with me. Too traumatic perhaps? Well, I survived and turned all right. I think. Years later my father admitted that he hated spinach himself (If I only knew it then).

Picky eater

Picky eater

We had to eat our food, give thanks for the food provided, or go sleep hungry. The money was tide and we always heard parents talking about it, when it came to food. “What would hungry kids in Africa give for a meal like that?!” was my mom’s favorite phrase. It installed a guilt in me for not eating the food I was given. Was it an ideal approach? When I look back at it now, I find absolutely nothing wrong with it. It though me to appreciate someone’s work, the value of the food and installed some respect in me. Also, it made me understand that although we didn’t have much, we were still “rich” in comparison with some poor countries.

I know. Times changed. Is it better that we now have too much stuff, too many choices, way too many convenient solutions? So much that parents feel obligated to cater to their children’s every needs instead of teaching them good eating habits? Yes, sometimes it’s a hassle. But it’s a parent’s job to decide what’s good for kid’s diet, not the kid’s. Yes, we the adults know what’s good for them from our lifetime experience. How could your three years old possibly know? Oh yeah, I can hear some moms screaming at the computer right now – “That’s easy for you to say!”.

baby eating melon

But honestly – kids are picky because we let them. Don’t kill the messenger! Mistakes were made somewhere down the line. Parenting is hard job, and to install good eating habits in kids is super hard. One has to be inspiring, consistent and never give up.

PizzaRemember? When they were really, really little, they ate carrots, and sweet potato, and apple sauce. They ate what we gave them. So what changed? Are we too easy to give up when the kid doesn’t want something? How did pizza, hotdog, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, ketchup or macaroni and cheese became “kid’s food”? Who introduced it to them? I think that behind every picky eater is someone who just reached for the easiest solution. And then we are surprised that kids insist on whatever it is they are familiar with?

Are we too quick to offer an alternative so our precious little one doesn’t “struggle” or get “traumatized”? Or are we creating a much bigger problem for the future?! Today’s moms, feeling guilty that they had to work and don’t get so much time to spend with their kids, are not willing to use those few hours together fighting over the food. So we give them what they want.

It’s unfortunate. Families that make time to have a family dinner, no exceptions, insisting on having kids around the table every evening, eating the same that everybody else does, even have kids participating in food prep, install the best family values and eating habits in their offspring. Yes, I know families whose kids eat everything. Or at least, they have to try everything. They can’t just say: “I don’t like it”, and get something else. Because that’s what’s creating the problem. If I ever said to my mom: “I don’t like it,” first I think I will get a slap in the face (which I am not advocating here), and second she would definitely tell me: “Ok, go sleep. Guess what you’re having for breakfast!?”

Tough love, maybe, but in my mind it’s called discipline. Did I hate it when I was a child? You bet I did. But my mother was my mom, not my friend. I can appreciate it today though, when I see young moms struggling to get their kids to eat ANYTHING.

I know, when it gets to that point, it’s hard to deal with it or change it.

My friend recently asked me to come up with some ideas of a meal his daughter would eat – something that would give her a serving of vegetables. In other words, if she spotted anything green or red (like carrot) in her food, she will fish out every little tiny piece of it or refuse to eat it all together. She ate no vegetables whatsoever. Hm, although I am quite opinionated there (who would ever guess?), I am also the one who likes to find solution to any problem. Maybe now is the time to fool the kid a little. To sneak it in the food without them knowing. Yes, I have done cauliflower “mashed potatoes” that nobody would guess, even some veggie fritters that kids actually liked. But that wasn’t enough to improve diet of this poor little girl.

So I did some research and came across this website called This lady came up with some creative ideas – and it seemed easy enough to implement to basically any food. To put it in test, I created my sneaky “loaded” lasagna. I started the sauce the usual way – onion, garlic, celery and carrots, tiny bit of red pepper flakes. Next came great San Marzano tomatoes and basil. Marinara sauce

In the meantime I steamed 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup each of cauliflower, broccoli and frozen peas. When the sauce was bubbling, I blended the soft vegetables with little bit of the cooking water in my food processor until smooth green mush developed.

Steamed vegetables Then, the green stuff went into my delicious tomato sauce. OK, the color and taste changed a little, so I used tomato paste to adjust the color and to improve the tomato flavor. I added some pressed garlic and more basil. You know what? The sauce was delicious!

veggies goes into marinara

I then composed the lasagna the usual way. I heard my friend’s girl was licking her fingers. Little did she know what was in it. I hope she doesn’t read my blog! OK, if that’s what it takes to feed them food that is good for them, sometimes we must trick them and sneak stuff in. We adults know better what they need.

I am glad it worked. I sure will come up with more creative ideas  where the similar sneaking technique can be used. Do you have this kind of trouble with your kids? And what do you do about it? Please join  our discussion and share your ideas and comments!!