Friday, January 15, 2010

Fridays, Feasting With Friends- Featuring Bonnie Stenger

“One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.”
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'

Welcome to the very first segment of Fridays, Feasting with Friends.  Each and every Friday I will feature a different friend or family member, chat with them a bit in a little interview and then feature one of their favorite recipes that they wanted to share with us.  I thought that this would be a fun way to learn some new things about each other and in turn gain some great new recipes!

Bonnie Stenger
She is always the perfect hostess!

Even if I could have hand-picked my very own sister, I couldn't have done a better job then what I was already blessed with.  Bonnie is not only my sister but also my best friend, the one who makes me laugh the hardest, the one I can count on to lift me up- her glass is always half full, and I have to add, one darn good cook!!

What is your favorite thing to cook?
Pasta dishes. I like to try different sauces & pastas. I try and be creative because you really can add pasta with anything ie: elbow macaroni with chili, pad thai, fresh tomatoes, herbs with angel hair pasta, linguini & clam sauce...the list is endless.

How about your least favorite thing to cook?
Baking and the reason being is that I am more afraid of it than anything. I am learning and have come a long way. It's because you have to be precise when baking and that is what I have to get better at. I make great cinnamon rolls though!

What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
Goodness, this question is hard...I'm a foodie and love so many different things at different restaurants that I wish I could take the best thing from each of them and make one GREAT restaurant but that would be impossible. So if I had to pick one it would probably be Dashin. I "love" sushi and it's the one thing I won't make at home because it's such a special treat to eat such artwork. I would rather have it made by the professionals. My husband, Neil took me there when we were first dating and I had never eaten sushi in my life- let alone ever saw what it looked like, but that was 15 1/2 yrs. ago. Dashin used to be in Westlake off Center Ridge Rd. (wish it was still there) but has since moved to Great Northern area. It's consistantly good and holds a special place in my heart as well.

There are not many places I am dying to try right now, maybe Michael Symon's 2 new restaurants The B Spot and Bar Symon.

You are hosting a dinner party, what are your top 5 Dinner Party Songs?
Hmm, this one has me thinking....Depends on the dinner party, the season, if it's outside or in, who's invited etc... I like to put some Bob Marley on in the background. If it's an outside bbq, I made a mix cd with fun island party songs that is always a good one to fall back on. It has all the good sing-a-long on it.

What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
Okay, hands down it would have to be lobster! Split in half, grilled with a garlic butter sauce poured over top, roasted potato, asparagus, a great garlic bread & my mom's chocolate mousse. I had this meal, minus the chocolate mousse, in Negril Jamaica at a roadside restaurant called Cloggies sitting outside on the beach under a thatched roof. I don't think it could have gotten better than that.

What are you currently reading?
A couple of things...The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd & Making Your Children Mind, Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Lehman. Going to be picking up the book, Water for Elephants.

What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
I am lucky enough to have a mom who loves kitchen gadgets. Sooo because of that, she gets ones she likes for us as well as for herself. I can't name just one so here are a few of my favs: my gravey maker, my wine opener, egg separator, apple corer, pizza dough roller and not sure this is considered one but my dual egg maker (which makes hard, soft & poached eggs with ease!)

Do you have a signature go-to dish?
Chili or Brushetta Pasta (only in summer with garden tomatoes).

What is your favorite thing about Cleveland?
Being able to say I live within 15 miles of one of the Great Lakes (Lake Erie) & having the West Side Market so close. Not many other cities have a market like that.

Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood?
My mom's Thankgiving turkey dinner. NOBODY makes dressing (stuffing) like my mom's and every other dish that is involved with that dad's red cabbage, grandma's cranberry chutney, the turkey and the gravy just to name a few.

Top 3 Movies of all time?
Sorry, I only have 2: The Godfather I & II - best movies of all time.

Where do you do your grocery shopping?
This will probably disappoint a lot of folks but to be honest, my everyday grocery shopping is done at Super Walmart or Marc's. I would love to say I go to Trader Joe's, Heinen's or The West Side Market but I just don't. You can't beat the prices at Super Walmart or Marc's. That's not saying I don't frequent the other stores because I do, I just can't say I do most of my shopping there.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Chips & dip. Best chip ever is Doritos my dad's chip dip recipe that I will never reveal but anyone who tastes it, can't get enough of it!

Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
To become better at baking. Would love to learn how to make Babchi Bread (grandma's famous sweet bread) on my own without my mom's assistance.

Roasted Tomato Dressing
Container of cherry or grape tomatoes
Small red onion
Olive oil
Dijon Mustard
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400

Empty and entire container of tomatoes on a baking pan.  Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast in the oven until they start to split, about 15 min.  While roasting, mince a small red onion & put in large bowl. Take roasted tomatoes and juice from the pan and put in bowl with the onions.  Mash the tomatoes with potato masher or fork. With a wisk, stir in olive oil, about half cup.  Then stir in dijon mustard about 1/4 cup. Drizzle in about 2 tbsps of balsamic vinegar.  Stir until well blended, add salt & pepper to taste.

Play around with it and add more or less of whatever you wish. I have even roasted a whole head of garlic along side the tomatoes and mashed that up with good. You could add some herbs of your choice as well.  Put this on your favorite salad as the dressing, low fat for sure! I also like to use it as a sauce for pasta or a topping on some crusty bread like bruschetta for an appetizer. This is one of my "go to" recipes that can be used so many different ways.

Thank you so much Bonnie for being my first guest on Fridays, Feasting with Friends! I always can count on you to be an excellent guinea pig, letting me test out new ideas, recipes and always my #1 fan.  Love you Bon!!  And I can attest to the absolute wonderfulness of this Roasted Tomato Dressing.  It is actually addictive it is so good.  Makes you want to eat more salads, just so you can use the dressing!  Which in my book is always an awesome thing!  Please be sure to come back next Friday, January 22nd, to read all about my amazing mom, Judy Trapp for segment two of Fridays, Feasting with Friends!


  1. loving the blog! and think these interviews are a wonderful idea! looking forward to making this dressing too!

  2. Wow Bonnie! Great answers! Amie Interviewed me for a later, Interview...I am also a huge SUSHI lover. I miss Cleveland Sushi too. forgot to put that in mine as well. lol

    Tera Pepper



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