Author Archives: Natlie J. Forte

Home & Family June


Natalie paid a visit to the new Home & Family set today and told Christina and Mark all about her experience on America’s Best Bites airing on Cooking Channel. She also shared two of her latest recipes inspired by the dishes featured on ABB. Check out here “Dates in a Blanket” & “Tropical Rainbow Salad” recipes on her blog, The Food Magician.

cozy quinoa H&F


Natalie was welcomed back to the kitchen of the Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family. This time Natalie made her “Cozy Quinoa” which is perfect for those chilly Autumn nights. She also talked about the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15.” She discussed which fruits and veggies you should definitely buy organic and which ones you can possibly skip if you’re trying to save a little mula. For more about the “Dirty Dozen” & the “Clean 15” go to the Environmental Working Group’s website.


Lettuce Wraps

I fell in love with lettuce wraps back in college when my friend Ashley and I would stop at The Cheesecake Factory in Baltimore a couple times a year when we were driving back home from school. We’d always start with the lettuce wraps, then go on to order and finish two HUGE entrees and then wash it down with cheesecake. Needless to say, my stomach grew during that time and so did my pant size.

As I got older, I was introduce to the PF Changs version of lettuce wraps/cups with the diced chicken. I stayed true to my heart and only really liked the Cheesecake Factory version with the chicken STRIPS. No dice for me.

Those lettuce wraps always stood out in my mind and for years I’ve been meaning to make them at home. But for some reason, I never made it happen until the other night. I’d been craving them all summer and knew I had to do something about it!

I went to the store and bought my favorite veggies to put inside the wraps. Then I found sustainably grown, hormone-free chicken and red butter lettuce to use as my wraps.

Since I’m usually not thinking ahead to find a recipe first and THEN go to the store to make sure I have everything, I just use what I already have in the kitchen and hope for the best. The only thing I really needed help with was the peanut sauce. I think The Cheesecake Factory had 3 dipping sauces, but I was satisfied with just making one.

Here’s what you’ll need: (Feel free to make this your own)

  • red bell pepper (sliced into strips)
  • red onion (or green)
  • jicama (peeled & sliced into strips)
  • carrots (julienned)
  • chicken breast (or tempeh, tofu, or just veggies)
  • butter lettuce, iceberg- anything with a large leaf that’s sturdy
  • cilantro- lightly chopped

First, I marinated the chicken for 1-2 hours in the fridge with low sodium soy sauce, olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh grated ginger, sesame oil and a few cloves of minced garlic. That’s all I had in the house and I just “winged it.” I planned on just baking or sauteing the chicken, but my wonderful husband offered to grill it. Even better!



Then I came across the most delicious, EASY peanut sauce recipe from Food Network’s website that hands down, made the meal. I, of course, didn’t have all the ingredients but I made do and was not disappointed. Here’s the actual recipe:

Peanut Sauce

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter                                           
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons red chili paste, such as sambal
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, for garnish

Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, red chili paste, brown sugar, and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Puree to combine. While the motor is running, drizzle in the hot water to thin out the sauce, you may not need all of it. Pour the sauce into a nice serving bowl and garnish with the chopped peanuts. Serve with chicken satay. (Tyler FLorence, food network)

I didn’t have chili paste, so I just CAREFULLY threw in some red chili flakes ( I didn’t want to repeat the “Hottest Dinner Party Ever” nightmare) and I used regular brown sugar because I didn’t have dark. I barely used the hot water and that was plenty…so go slow when you’re adding that.

Finally, my dreams from over 10 years ago finally came true. I made my favorite kind of lettuce wraps and I couldn’t get enough. I had them again for lunch the following 2 days! I have no idea why it took me so long to make this healthy, simple, tasty dish but I know it will be a staple in my kitchen roledex. Thank you Food Network for the peanut sauce recipe!






Hell-O….Jell-O Shots!

I love tequila. I love grapefruit.  And now I love Michelle at the JSTK Blog for introducing me to the Paloma Jelly Shot! I hadn’t had a jello shot since college and didn’t realize how many gourmet jello shot recipes are out there. These were a hit at my recent birthday party and I think they’ll be a hit with you….assuming you like tequila that is 😉 I also made vodka blueberry shots, but I used a kurant vodka and they were not my fav. They looked gorgeous, but didn’t taste great. But here’s what DID taste great:
Difficulty:  Easy
Recommended Pan:  1-pound loaf pan (approximately 8” x 4”/20 x 10 cm) or flexible silicon molds
1 1/3 cup grapefruit soda (we used Izzy’s sparkling juice)
2 tablespoons frozen limeade concentrate (thawed)
2 envelopes Knox gelatin
2/3 cup agave tequila
Fresh grapefruit segments for garnish, if desired
Pour soda and limeade concentrate into a small saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Allow the gelatin to soak for a minute or two. Heat over very low heat until gelatin is dissolved, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Mixture may be foamy initially, but this will disapate. Remove from heat.  Stir in the tequila. Pour mixture into loaf pan or molds. Place in refrigerator to set (several hours or overnight).
To serve, cut into desired shapes (or unmold).  Garnish each jelly shot with a small grapefruit segment, if desired.

Makes 18 to 24 jelly shots.

I used a shallow round cake pan and then used a cookie cutter to cut out shapes of hearts & stars. Make it your own & have fun!!

For more recipes including some cool 4th of July treats, go to Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.


SCAN Conference

Natalie speaks at SCAN-NATOA conference in Long Beach, CA

Natalie had the honor of speaking at the NATOA conference on June 21, 2012 in Long Beach, CA. NATOA stands for National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisor’s who’s mission is to support and serve the communications interests of local governments. Natalie spoke to hosts and producers about her experience on-camera and as a producer.


summertime steel

Island Oats

As many of you know, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and eggs are my favorite food. But what you may not know is that usually I have 2 breakfasts a day. I start off with oatmeal and then for my second breakfast I have eggs. In the fall and winter months, I have my Holiday’s in your Mouth oatmeal recipe, and in the summertime I’ve discovered a new oatmeal concoction that I can’t get enough of.

All you need is:

Serves 1- double for 2 people

  • 1/4 Cup steel cut oats
  • 1 Cup water
  • handful of fresh organic raspberries
  • 1 TBP all-natural, unsalted peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1/2 ripe banana, chopped or sliced
  • about 5 dashes of cinnamon
  • shaved raw coconut
  • chia seeds

Bring water to a boil & add in oats. Turn burner down to medium or medium-high.  I now prefer steel cut oats which is less processed, but you can substitute whichever kind of oats you like. As the oats are cooking, stir in cinnamon. Since I like a lot of cinnamon, I usually put in about 5 dashes. Once the oatmeal starts to thicken a little, stir in banana. The more ripe the banana the sweeter it is. For this recipe, I prefer a very ripe banana if you have it. Keep stirring so the banana becomes almost gooey. Stir in peanut or almond butter and mix well. Once the oatmeal is at the consistency you prefer, stir in fresh raspberries until they become warm. Spoon oatmeal into your favorite bowl and sprinkle coconut and chia seeds on top. It’s delicious and the coconut makes me feel like I’m in the tropics or on an island far away from home.

Now you have a summertime oatmeal recipe with all the nutrition you need to start your day off right.

You have:

  • fiber from the oats
  • protein from the nut butter
  • potassium from the banana
  •  anti-oxidants from the raspberries
  •  endless health benefits from the chia seeds (it’s a superfood)
  •  and more fiber and minerals from the raw coconut.

If this isn’t a good way to start your day, I don’t know what is!