Cook With Me's Blog

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2015 What a great year!

2015 was another blessed year for Hats Off To Dining Catering, Inc. So many events during the year, big and small, were so special to me.

Another good shot of the Ross's at the stove 020815

Newlyweds like the Ross’s who wanted to cook better took Hats Off To Dining Catering Cooking Class.  One of my very best clients, Henderson Taylor, arranged a Valentine’s Day dinner for a group of 20 of his close friends.

And I taught my first “Kids Cooking Class”. They were awesome and we had so much fun. I also had a chance to let Kiyah help me with this one, which was a real plus.

HOTD Kids Cooking Class Photo

Thanks to Young Smiles Pediatric Dentistry and Spa for sponsoring the class.


In 2015, I also did my first Bachelorette Party for one of Alison Barney’s best friends! It was so much fun!

Me with Morgan Alison Michelle and April 030615

Alison's group at the table 030615

I had one of the best cooking class ever with Kristee, Darlene. I got to teach Seafood Gumbo. We had a ball.

Four Ladies at the dinner table


I had one of the best cooking class ever with Kristee, Darlene. I got to teach Seafood Gumbo. We had a ball. They invited me back for a dinner for four.



They invited me back for a dinner for four.

Kristee and Darlene with Boyfriends




My lovely wife, Ella, signed me up for a craft event to sell my Crab Cakes. I had my doubts but I appreciated her support so I participated. We sold out of a hundred Crab Cakes in the first two hours and had orders for more that weekend. The director of the community center where the craft fair was held invited me back to provide Soul Food for Dr. Martin Luther Kings Jr. Day on 01/18/2016. And it looks like we will be doing other activities there too. It pays to listen to your wife.

Crab Cakes Plated

Anne Hoel has been a customer for about 6 years now. She took advantage of my Crab Cake offer during this holiday season for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her husband even bought some for one of his clients. Thanks Anne for your continue support.

Anne and Mark Hoel Photo


I was privileged and honor to cater a wedding reception for one of my Network Of Greater Brandon group members. I loved when I get to do something new. They order a Raw Oysters Bar so I got to shuck Oysters for the first time. It was a fun experience! Thanks Laura and Randy and Laura’s parents Jim and Jean!

Laura and Randy Photo







January 1, 2016 Posted by | Events | Leave a comment

There was some great cooking at the Harrison Cooking Class tonight. 03/22/15

The Harrison’s are such a nice family. Harrison Class Kissing 032215We had a great class which there daughter purchased for them. After much discussion with Ilene, we decided on them learning my Fork Tender Beef Roast.

Ilene and me Harrison Class 032215

As many of my close friends know I don’t share this recipe; let alone teach someone how to cook it. But I did for the Harrison’s. I’m glad because they really enjoyed it.

 Me and The Harrison's Plating Dinner 032215

There daughter joined them and learned how to make the Pan Seared Salmon, another favorite. She was just as nice as her parents and did a great job cooking the Salmon.  You know she must be nice because i just don’t let anyone wear my Chef coat.

Michelle cooking her stir fry with me Harrison Class 032215

Salmon and Stir Fry Harrison Class 032215

And for dessert we had Banana Foster.

Banana Foster over Vanilla Ice Cream!

Banana Foster over Vanilla Ice Cream!

We had to change one of the ingredients and man did it turn out wonderful. I’m making it this way from now on. If you want to know the change and why it’s better, you’ll have to take my class.


Here are few highlights:


Harrison Class knife skills 032215Me Demostrating how to cut the roast Harrison 032215Louis cooking Mushroom Fries Harrison Class 032215Louis, Michelle and me Plating Harrison Class 032215


Thanks Lou and Ilene!





The Harrison's and me - Cooking Class 032215

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Cooking Class, Events, Healthy, Let's Talk About Food | Leave a comment

The Ross Cooking Class on February 8, 2015 Was Fun!

What I really enjoyed about teaching my dishes is when both husband and wife really enjoy food. The Ross’s were that couple. I also like showing how a client can overcome what they think they dislike to enjoy the over all meal.

Ross's at Stove 020815

In the case of the Ross’s it was Samantha not liking onions and the dish they wanted to learn to cook was Jambalaya. Well as many of my friends and family know, I use onions in many of my recipes, including Jambalaya.

Ross Class Samantha at Stove 020815

I probed and found that her dislike was more texture and the fact that it was difficult for her to cut them because the fumes burned her eyes. She was okay with the flavor. My solution was to sauté onions ahead of time and pureed. By pureeing the onions we eliminated what she didn’t like and she learned how to make a delicious Jambalaya.

Shot of Jambalaya 020815

For those of you interested in this class, it is a longer class and has quite a few ingredients so it is more expensive but well worth it.


Here are a few views of their class.

Another good shot of the Ross's at the stove 020815The Ross's at the counter cutting 020815


There is a lot of chopping preparing this dish.  But it’s well worth it.

Ross's at counter with Samantha smiling 020815

They also enjoyed dessert.

Ross Cooking Class Dessert 020815

Their Review

March 8, 2015 Posted by | Cooking Class, Events, Let's Talk About Food, Meat Recipes, Review, Seafood Recipes | Leave a comment

What a busy week last week!

As I mentioned previously, I’m cooking Salmon daily to a client who wants to eat better.  Well, that’s still continuing.


In addition,   I had a Cooking Class this past Wednesday that was a birthday present to the boyfriend.  Thank Joy And Rob!






Joy and Rob learned how to cook my Herb Crusted Rib-Eye Steak w/Asparagus and Baked New Potatoes w/Sauteed Onions.  For dessert they learned how to make my Strawberry Shortcake done my way.


I also participated as a food vendor for the New Life Tabernacle Ladies Ministry Women Conference on Friday and Saturday!  I served my popular breakfast sandwiches and My Awards Winning Pulled Pork and Italian Sausage.



August 20, 2014 Posted by | Cooking Class, Events, Let's Talk About Food, Let's Talk Lunch, Meat Recipes | | Leave a comment

A big thanks to Ms. Darlene and Tonja for retaining HOTD for Birthday Party w/150 guests



The reviews are in and everyone love the menu of Fork Tender Beef Roast w/Roasted New Potatoes with Sauteed Onion, and Baked Chicken Over Egg Noodles.


Kiana, Darlene Green, Me, and Tonja at client's 60th Birthday Party

Kiana, Darlene Green, Me, and Tonja at client’s 60th Birthday Party

Thank you Tonja and Darlene.

April 6, 2014 Posted by | Events | Leave a comment

I Had A Great Time At The 2nd Annual Nosh Festival on March 30th, 2014

We served delicious Corn Beef and Pastrami Sandwiches to well over a hundred people last Sunday.  I must say I really enjoyed Nosh Fest 2014.  The attendees, the organizers and the other vendors were all so nice.  I had an opportunity to try one of the vendor’s Matzo Ball Soup and Stuffed Cabbage Roll.  it was great.

This is one event that I look forward to next year.

Sorry, I was too busy to take photos.  We were serving pretty much non-stop.

April 5, 2014 Posted by | Events, Let's Talk About Food | Leave a comment

Come Visit Me At The Nosh Festival 2014 On March 30, 2014

Join me tomorrow, March 30th, 2014 for some delicious Corn Beef and Pastrami Sandwiches at The 2nd Annual Nosh Festival.


“Nosh Fest Brandon”  706 Bryan Road  Brandon, FL 33511

“Nosh Fest Brandon” 706 Bryan Road
Brandon, FL 33511


Photo of Corn Beef


It’s a great event that raises awareness and funds for the local community.

The first NoshFest Brandon event was a huge success, with over 600 attendees donating over 1,500 pounds of food for local area food banks, while enjoying a cultural celebration of Jewish cuisine, history, holidays and traditions.

Join us on Sunday, March 30, 2014 as we make NoshFest Brandon a fun filled annual event, expanding to include even more tasty food, creative crafts, music, entertainment, and all the traditional favorites such as kugel, latkes, corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, rugelach and of course, chicken soup…!

For more information call

Food donations will benefit the following organizations:
Admission is free with the donation of a non perishable food item. All donations will go to local area food banks, including ECHO of Brandon, Tampa Jewish Family Services & the Congregation Beth Shalom Food Pantry.

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Events, Let's Talk About Food, Meat Recipes | Leave a comment

Haynes’ Birthday Party Was Fun!

Last night Kiana and I cooked a fun group at the Haynes’ Birthday Party.  The menu was a fun one, Chicken and Beef Shish Kabobs, Buffalo Wings and one of my favorites BBQ Fried Chicken Wings and since it was a New Orleans theme we  prepared Chicken Ettouffee.

Mr. and Mrs. Haynes with Kiana and me.

Mr. and Mrs. Haynes with Kiana and me.

Chicken Ettouffee


Chicken Etouffee

1 (4-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Kosher Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

8 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup flour

1 cup finely diced yellow onion

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bottle dark lager or amber beer

1 quart cold chicken stock

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/4 cup hot sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

2 Green Onions cut in small pieces

1/4 cup chopped parsley


Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Season the chicken pieces with kosher salt, Fresh Black Pepper and cayenne pepper.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and sear chicken pieces on both sides until golden brown. Remove seared chicken pieces to a foiled lined cookie sheet with at least a two-inch lip and place it in oven for about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let it cool.

In Dutch oven add butter to pan and when melted, add flour, and stir to combine well. Continue to cook roux, stirring constantly, until chocolate brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Immediately add onion, celery, bell pepper, and bay leaves and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, then add the beer and stir well to loosen any brown bits from pan bottom. Add the stock, brown sugar, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine well. Bring to a boil, return chicken pieces to the pot, and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until chicken is very tender.

Remove chicken pieces to a platter and when cool enough to handle, remove chicken meat from the bones. Return chicken meat to Etouffee and continue to cook another 30 minutes, until sauce is thickened and flavorful and chicken is beginning to fall apart. Add chopped parsley, green onion and stir well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, and serve immediately over rice or other starch of choice.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Events, Let's Talk About Food | | Leave a comment

2014 HOTD Giving Back – Fundraiser at Stanley Steamer – Thank you!

I wanted to thank everyone for coming out to support the our efforts of helping our client pay for medical bills.  A special thank you to Stanley Steamer for allowing us at their site to sell breakfast sandwiches.  I also would like to thank my network group members from The Network Group of Greater Brandon for coming out and supporting the effort.

Thank you Stanley Steamer

Thank you members of The Network Group Of Brandon

February 15, 2014 Posted by | Events, Let's Talk About Food | | Leave a comment

2014 HOTD Giving Back February – Fundraiser at Stanley Steamer

Today was the 1st day of HOTD Fundraiser at Stanley Steamer.  You can stop by tomorrow to get a great breakfast and help our client with her medical bills. Here are few photos:

Fundraiser Photo 1 Stanley Steamer 021114 Fundraiser Photo Stanley Stemer Umberto 021114 Fundraiser Stanley Steamer General with Me 021114 Fundraiser Stanley Steamer Me talking to customers 021114 Fundraiser Stanley Steamer Me working 021114


Fundraiser Stanley Steamer Member of the Network Group of Greater Brandon 021114SausageBreakfastSandwich012014




February 12, 2014 Posted by | Breakfast, Events | , | Leave a comment