Putting Al Roker to the Test

Since the last time I’ve written, so many things have happened in my life and throughout the world. Isn’t that always the case? Life is never stagnate. That can be a good thing and it can be a scary thing … Continue reading


Need a Recipe? Who Needs a Recipe?

Every week I compile recipes and ideas so that I have a guide, a dinner road map, if you will. Also, I try to create dinners that can turn into lunch for me throughout the week.   Last week I got a little sidelined.  We had a friend in town, which is always a great thing, and then I got sick, which is always a horrible thing.  I take getting sick to a new level.  When I get sick, I am down and out for the count.  Here is what I made last week before I got sick.  My recipe makes about 4 servings, and I love this because it’s so easy to throw a couple in the microwave during the week for a quick-lunch or dinner.   The original recipe is from Food and Wine, http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/stuffed-peppers-with-thai-curry-rice-and-mushrooms.  I made some changes based on my likes.  In the original recipe, it directs one to steam the peppers.  In recipes like this, I prefer my peppers to not be soft.  If you prefer softer peppers, see the original recipe.

Stuffed Peppers with Thai Curry Farro and Mushrooms

6 large red bell peppers, halved with cores and stems removed

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

2 medium shallots, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup farro

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (NOT red curry sauce)

1 tablespoon of sambak olek (if you like more or less heat, adjust accordingly)

1 pound mushrooms, chopped (any kind you like works in this recipe)

4 cups spinach

1/4 cup basil, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2.  Cook farro according to the directions on the bag, but replace the liquid with unsweetened coconut milk and chicken stock.  Once farro is cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
  3.  In a stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the shallots and garlic, and continue stirring until they soften, and do not let them become too browned.  Add ginger, red curry paste, and sambak olek, and stir for about a minute just for the flavors to blend.  Add the chopped mushrooms and stir a few times until the mushrooms soften, approximately 5 minutes.  Once the mushrooms have softened, add the spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted.  This will happen quickly, so keep an eye on it.
  4. Remove the mushroom-spinach mixture from the heat and add the farro, basil, salt and pepper.  Stir until combined, and fill each red pepper half with the mixture.
  5. Place peppers in a baking dish that is lined with parchment (I love using parchment whenever I can.  It ensures there is no sticking, and makes cleaning even easier.).  Cover with foil or place a cover over the dish, and bake in the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes.

The recipes for this week in the Kopp household include:

  • Crazy Monday night!!! We never eat out on a Monday!  Franz had the night off, so we decided to finally go to Steak Night at Small Bar (http://smallbarsd.com/).  This was so exciting!  It starts at 5pm on Mondays.  You get a 3/4 pound rib eye steak, potatoes roasted in duck fat, a side salad with blue cheese dressing, and a pint of beer for $15!!!  It was so tasty and so inexpensive!  I highly recommend it!  Once they sell out, they are out!




Steak 2

  • Roasted Cauliflower with Cranberries (http://www.bhg.com/recipe/roasted-cauliflower-with-cranberries/): I always have leftover fresh cranberries in my freezer from the Holidays.  I LOVE this recipe!! This could easily be served with a pork tenderloin, sautéed chicken breasts, or even thrown in a bowl of whole wheat pasta for a vegetarian option.
  • Cream of Parsnip Soup (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/cream-parsnip-soup  *** See my notes!): I have been making this recipe since 2007.  Whenever I eat parsnips, I immediately think about my husband’s grandfather.  We would eat parsnips from his garden way back when Franz and I were dating.  It was the first time I had ever tried one, and I have been hooked ever since.  He was a very wise man.  ***In this recipe, I remove the butter and just use olive oil or grapeseed oil.  I cut back on the amount of onion, and I use only about half of a large onion.  The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups parsnip.  That’s hard to eye-ball, so I always go with about a pound of parsnips (I usually go a little over considering the stems and peels are discarded.).  Lastly, I remove the half-and-half from the recipe.  It is not needed.  If you want it, you could even do less than the recommended amount.
  • I have a big container or spinach that I need to use, so one night will be sautéed chicken breasts with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and sweet onions.

I hope you give these recipes a try, and if you live around the San Diego area, try out Steak Night at Small Bar! Have a great week, and enjoy the Holiday weekend!

Take Care and Happy Eating!




Melissa’s Produce San Diego Food Bloggers Challenge!

Recently, I received an email from Barbara from Barbara Cooks (http://www.barbaracooks.com/) asking if the bloggers of San Diego might be interested in receiving a box of items from Melissa’s Produce (http://www.melissas.com/).  The “Challenge” was to take what was delivered to you and create a delicious recipe.  First, I love getting things shipped to me.  I feel like it’s Christmas!  Second, no surprise, I love food.  Third, I love playing around with food to create something new.  Fourth, I love knowing that a bunch of people out there have the same ingredients and will come up with very different recipes.

I’ve heard of Melissa’s Produce, but I didn’t know much about the company, which the owners, Joe and Sharon Hernandez, named after their daughter.  It’s basically an online grocery store for very unique items.  There’s everything from organic fruit baskets to organic blue agave syrup to Pinot Noir and Chestnut basket.  Can’t find Armenian cucumbers at your grocery store or Farmers’ Market?  Just go to Melissa’s Produce.  There are a ton of recipes online created by their five Corporate Chefs.  Say you bought quinoa at your grocery store and you don’t know how to cook it, or maybe you’ve cooked it a million times and you need a fresh idea for dinner.  Just type in “quinoa” on the website’s recipe search engine, and several recipes are at your fingertips.  Maybe Muscato Cashew Quinoa will strike your fancy.  My only question, are you hiring, Melissa’s Produce???

I must admit that this service is pricey.  Here’s what I received: Fava Beans (shelled, steamed, and ready to eat, 8.8 ounces), Baby Beets (peeled, steamed, and ready to eat, 8 ounces), Brussel Sprouts (10 ounces), Leeks (cleaned and sliced, 6 ounces), Red Quinoa (6 ounces), Dried Chanterelle (.5 ounces), Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes (1.5 pounds), and Ojai Pixie Tangerines (1 pound).  I received smaller quantities than if I were to have ordered the items myself.  I estimate the total amount for the portions I received to be around $40.  For certain items, overnight shipping is required, so you can add almost $20 for the FedEx delivery.  Everything I received was in perfect condition and tasted great.

Melissa Leeks

Melissa Brussel

Melissa Chanterelle


Roasting Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes

Roasting Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes

My mom was visiting from Cleveland, Ohio when the shipment arrived.  She was excited to see what was in the box and what I’d make with it.  A few days after I received the box, I just started sautéing things.  My Mom asked what my plan was, and I honestly wasn’t certain.  It just kind of came together.  We were talking, and I’d roast Brussels Spouts.  We’d talk more, and I chopped Fava Beans.  We’d talk some more, and I sautéed leeks and cook quinoa.  Next thing I knew, I created  Quinoa Stuffed Chicken with a Spicy Soy Orange Glaze and, as I call it, Mish Mosh Potato Salad.

My finished product! This was one tasty potato salad!

My finished product! This was one tasty potato salad!

For the potato salad, I halved the Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes and put them, sliced side down, onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  I covered the sheet with foil and put them into the oven at around 400 degrees.  Once the potatoes were soft, I removed the foil, flipped those bad Dutch Babies over and continued cooking them in the oven until they were nicely browned.  I roasted the Brussel Sprouts in the oven at around 400 degrees, as well, until they were browned and softened slightly.  Once I removed them from the oven, I did a rough chop on those lovely mini cabbages.  I placed the potatoes and Brussel Sprouts in a large bowl and added the Red Beets which I roughly chopped, as well.  I took walnut oil and balsamic vinegar, whisked it until it emulsified, and added it to the potato salad.  I usually do a ratio of one part vinegar to two parts oil, but I must admit I don’t really measure.  I added a little salt and pepper, too, and that was it!

The final product for the main course!

The final product for the main course!

Like I mentioned earlier, this was a “do whatever I felt like” kind of cooking day.  I love sautéing leeks and garlic, so that’s where I started.  First, I sautéed the leeks in olive oil over medium to medium high heat until the softened and were golden, probably around 6 minutes.  I added a few garlic cloves I had chopped and continued cooking for about a minute.  I added about 2 ounces of white wine (mainly because I felt like a glass of wine while I was cooking), and I raised the heat and cooked for a few minutes.  Right about then, the house smelled amazing.  I had cooked the quinoa in chicken stock earlier, so I added the leek mixture to the quinoa.  Earlier, I had also reconstituted the Chanterelles. I simply boil water, add the mushrooms, turn off the heat, leave the lid on, and let them sit for 30 minutes or until they have softened.  I rinse the mushrooms very well after.  I chopped the Chanterelles and the Fava Beans, and I added them to the quinoa mixture.  I added some ground pepper and salt, to taste.  The amount of quinoa filling was enough for 8-10 chicken breasts.  I didn’t realize just how much it would make, but I love leftovers!

I pounded the chicken and put as much filling as I could in each breast, approximately 1/2 a cup of filling for each.  I folded the chicken breast so that the filling remained inside, and I tied the chicken with kitchen twine.  I put the stuffed chicken into a baking dish coated with olive oil, covered, into the oven (around 375 degrees) for about an hour, or until it reached 165 degrees internally.

While the chicken cooked, I threw together a few items I had on hand for a sauce.  In a bowl, I whisked together orange juice (about 1/2 cup), soy sauce (about 4 tablespoons), agave (4 Tablespoons), white vinegar (2 healthy Tablespoons), and a couple of Tablespoons of chile paste.  If you like it really spicy or not very, this amount can be catered to your taste.  After whisking to combine, I placed the mixture into a pan and brought it to a boil while continuing to whisk.  Once it reached a boil, I reduced the temperature and I let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  It will reduce slightly and thicken.  I added the chicken breasts to the pan and continued cooking at a medium heat while basting the chicken with the sauce.  At this point, the chicken is cooked, I just wanted to really infuse the chicken with the flavors of the sauce.  I got the idea of doing an orange juice based sauce because of the tangerines in the shipment.  I decided to simply eat the tangerines as a dessert.  It was a perfect meal, if I do say so myself!

I can’t wait to read what other local bloggers created!  What a fun idea!  A huge “Thank You” goes out to Barbara and Melissa’s Produce!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Here is the link to see all of the Bloggers who participated: An InLinkz Link-up


Honey Do!!!

Hello! It’s been too long since I posted. The Summer was a busy one, and now I’m a little overwhelmed with everything I want to share with you guys. I couldn’t resist telling you about an item I just bought today at Whole Foods in Hillcrest.  A man was handing out spoons with a dab of honey on them, so I couldn’t resist. His flyer claims that this is “The World’s Best Tasting Honey”. Again, how could I turn a taste down? I just wish my in-laws were here because they love honey. When they visit, we usually stop at Julian to pick up a few jars and a pie, of course. My Whole Foods plan was to buy Sencha Tea, and I came out with tea, a container of olives (couldn’t resist that either) and an amazing honey.

White Gold is from northern Canada (www.whitegoldhoney.com) . It is unheated and untreated. It is thick, creamy and has a perfect touch of sweetness. You can use it like any regular honey, but considering how thick and delicious this is, I think I would prefer it on a scone or with some delicious cheese (preferably from Venissimo! http://www.venissimo.com/). It is about $13 for 1 pound 7 ounces.

Whenever I go grocery shopping, I have my list and coupons in hand. I rarely, if ever, deviate from my list. This shopping excursion made me realize I should slow down and take a look at some other products. I love how Whole Foods really searches for those smaller companies who are just so passionate about whatever it is they are creating and selling.

I can’t wait to share some more awesome food spots I checked out over the Summer!  Any let me know about any food spots or products you discovered over the Summer!



Take Care and Happy Eating!


Fabulous Friday Again!

I hope everyone had a great week!  I had a sweet surprise this week.  My husband was craving sweets all week (I’m rubbing off on him!).  Tuesday night he proclaimed that we were going to Jack in the Box for milkshakes.  It was around 8pm, and we were basically in our pajamas.  Life is so good!!  If you haven’t had a Jack in the Box milkshake, I feel very sorry for you.  They are so thick that you have to remove the straw and lick it because the goodness of the shake just won’t flow through the straw.  We always get chocolate.  “Jack” tops the shake with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry.  And it’s super cheap!  And you can take it home and sit on the sofa with your family in your pjs will attempting to slurp the cup o’ ice cream and milk down while watching another episode of Law & Order!

Popular Jack antenna ball (Christmas version)

Merry Christmas from Jack!

In keeping with my new Friday “tradition”, I want to tell you about my favorite thing (other than a milkshake) this week: Pomegranate Molasses.  It can be a little tricky to find in the grocery store, but ask around and you’ll find it.  If you have a Middle Eastern market near you, that’s a great place to look.  I bought mine in San Diego at Specialty Produce (http://www.specialtyproduce.com/).

I need another bottle!

I need another bottle!

I love this product because you can use it on so many things.  It has a very tart and tangy flavor, and it is thick (hence “molasses”) so it is a great saucy topper.  You can drizzle it over sweet or savory dishes.  You can take any grain, for example wheat berry, and some dark greens, like mustard greens or arugula, and drizzle the molasses over it.  Or you can go sweet.  The first time I used Pomegranate Molasses was about 8 years ago when I came across a recipe from Big City Cooking: Recipes for a Fast-Paced World by Matthew Kenney and Joan Schwartz.  It is the most simple recipe, but you have to use the highest quality of ingredients.  Hold onto this recipe until the peak of strawberry season.  I promise people will rave!  And, again, it couldn’t be easier!  Don’t wait for strawberry season to buy it! Go out, find a bottle, and start using it.  The next grain salad you make for dinner, pour a little over each serving.  It will be a great addition to your pantry!

Strawberries with Pomegranate Molasses and Fresh Ricotta by Matthew Kenney Serves 4

1 quart ripe strawberries, stemmed and halved

2 tablespoons sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Kosher salt

(My addition: couple pinches of cinnamon.  I love cinnamon and it’s so healthy, so I always try to add it to recipes.)

1 cup whole ricotta cheese (***Remember, do not use the commercial stuff.  Go to a cheese purveyor and get the good stuff!!)

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, or substitute balsamic syrup (***But don’t!  And I believe the amount is to taste.  You may want a lot more!)

12 mint leaves

In a large bowl, toss the strawberries with sugar.  Whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon and a pinch of salt into the ricotta.  Divide the strawberries among 4 bowls, top with the ricotta mixture, drizzle with pomegranate molasses, and garnish with mint leaves.

Have you used this product before?  If so, tell me how!

Take Care and Happy Eating!