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


She’s an Easy Lover! Slow-Cooker Recipe For All!

This has been an odd weather week in San Diego. And, yes, “odd weather week” is a very rare description for this part of the country. I still find it amusing when the weather forecasters tell us to buckle up for a major warm up. Usually that means we will go from 70 degrees to 73. What is truly pathetic is that I feel it, and I get annoyed with the “heat spell.” So whether you are in San Diego braving 73 degrees and some humidity blowing in from Cabo or you are in Cleveland, Ohio feeling a true summer warm up, you may want to avoid standing over or near your oven or stove. That is when the most easily loved appliance comes into play. I always thought of slow cooker meals being more for the winter season, but I’m loving it on these hot warmer days. Another huge benefit, the ability to walk away! So even if you are home, no need to tend to the pot! This truly is an easy lover. I’m pretty sure Phil was referring to a slow cooker.

I have two recipes that I really loved making (and eating) this week. The first might not sound so “Summery” especially due to the pumpkin addition, but I love Fall, and I already miss it. Yes, we get Fall in San Diego. It goes from 70 to 68. Leaves fall to the ground! Stop judging me! The first recipe caught my eye in the San Diego Union Tribune which was adapted from Michele Corbett’s site, http://www.cookingonthefrontburners.com. I made a few changes, but if you would like to see the original recipe, please check out Michele’s website. The second recipe is from Martha Stewart’s site, but I’ve made a couple of changes to the original recipe. For the original recipe, check out: http://www.marthastewart.com/341733/slow-cooker-greek-stuffed-peppers.

Meaty (or Not) Pumpkin Chili

16 oz ground sirloin (or ground turkey, or ground chicken, or tempeh, or tofu – You get the idea.)

1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil, if needed

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 chopped yellow, red, or orange pepper

3 cloves minced garlic

2 cups crushed tomatoes

4 ounces can diced green chilies

1 cup pumpkin pie filling (not puree)

1 cup chicken broth

2 Tablespoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

Toppings – sour cream or Greek yogurt

  1. Brown the ground sirloin in a Dutch oven (or similar pot). Drain most of the fat. Add the onion, celery, pepper and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. You can add a bit of grapeseed oil if the ingredients start to stick to the bottom of the pot. *If you opt to go the vegetarian route, simply add the tempeh or tofu after the vegetables have sautéed, and continue sautéing until heated throughout.
  2. Add tomatoes and chilies and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add pumpkin, broth, seasonings, and beans. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with sour cream or yogurt.
Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers

Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers

Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers

5 large bell peppers

1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)

1/2 cup quinoa (*You can really use any type of grain. Just don’t pre-cook the grain. Add it to the mix uncooked.)

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 garlic clove, minced

1-2 teaspoon dried oregano

Spoonful of Sambal Oelek (*This really is to taste. I like food with a kick, so I put in a good amount. You can skip it all together if you prefer your meals on the mild side.)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (*Make sure to go easy on the salt since feta is salty.)

Chicken stock or water, about 1/2 cup (*This is added to the bottom of the slow cooker to ensure the peppers do not stick. You just need enough liquid to coat the bottom, then the peppers are placed in the liquid upright.)

Lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Slice a very thin layer from the base of each bell pepper so they sit flat. Slice off tops just below stem. Discard stems; chop tops, and place in a medium bowl. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers.
  2. Add beans, feta, quinoa, scallions, garlic, oregano, and sambal oelek to bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Stuff peppers with bean mixture; place upright in slow cooker. I opted to add a 1/2 a cup of chicken stock to the bottom of the slow cooker just to ensure the peppers wouldn’t stick. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours.
  3. Serve with lemon wedges.

On another note, I purchased Organic Edamame Spaghetti at Costco last week. The only ingredients are water and edamame. I had to give it a try. The box has two recipes listed, both of which are very high in fat content. I opted to simply cook the spaghetti and serve it with a mushroom tomato sauce topped with Parmesan. I’m glad I tried it, but I will not buy it again. The flavor was not remarkable, but what really got me was the texture. It was spongy. I am left with a lot of the stuff, so I will use it, but I will stick to eating edamame the old-fashioned way – from the pod!

Edamame pasta

I hope everyone has a great week, and you can rest assured I will be fixated on the Cleveland Cavaliers capturing the NBA Finals trophy! Go Cavs! #allin

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away!

Well, the breaking news story in San Diego is the rain, and with good reason! We need it. And when it comes, it brings some problems like flooding and car accidents. Ah, the drawbacks of living here. I’m taking a cue from my French Bulldog, Monsieur, and I decided to stay in and write. Actually, if I was taking his cue I would sleep all day on the sofa. He is living the dream. Also, he partied pretty hard last night at Thorn Street Brewery (http://thornstreetbrew.com/). He, like his parents, is a Cleveland Cavalier fan.

Cavs Sir

This week I noticed a delicious sounding recipe in the UT San Diego Food Section (May 13) that I will make, mostly likely on Sunday. I think Marrakesh Carrots from Joy the Baker would be a perfect side dish! http://joythebaker.com/2015/05/marrakesh-carrots/ If you haven’t stopped by her blog, you should.

Spelt and Lamb Meatballs 4 to 6 servings

4 scallions

1/4 cup parsley

1/4 cup dill sprigs, more for garnish

2 fat or 3 smaller garlic cloves, grated

2 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, or to taste

1 red chili or jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

3 cups cooked spelt or other whole grain berries

1/2 pound lamb

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for frying (*I would use another kind of oil for frying – one that can take high heat like grapeseed oil or regular olive oil, for example.)

Lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Slice scallions, keeping the light green and white parts separate from the dark green. Put scallion whites and light green slices into a food processor along with parsley, dill, garlic, salt, chili, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, and paprika; process until everything is well minced. Add the spelt and process until the spelt breaks down into a rough, chunky paste.
  2. Transfer spelt mixture into a bowl and add lamb and olive oil. Knead mixture with your hands until well mixed. It should hold together nicely. Form into 1 1/4-inch balls and either cook immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to one day.
  3. When ready to cook, heat a skillet, then add just enough oil to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add just enough meatballs to fit one layer with space between each piece; they should not touch, or they won’t brown as nicely. Fry meatballs until well browned on all sides, then remove to a plate. Add more oil to the pan and fry another batch or two, as needed. (Alternatively, to broil meatballs, lay them out in a single layer, not touching, on a rimmed baking sheet or two. Drizzle with oil and broil until browned, about 4 to 10 minutes, checking often and shaking the pan occasionally to help them brown all over. *This is how I plan on making mine.)
  4. Serve with lemon wedges and the reserved scallion greens and dill sprigs.

On another note, it’s my Mom’s birthday today! It is always a major bummer, to say the least, being so far from family. Some time ago, she took a bunch of old school slides and had them burned onto a disk so we could look through them. There are some amazing images. There are photos of the family, before I was even a thought in my parents’ minds, sitting around a television watching The Beatles’ first televised appearance and my mom meeting Lucille Ball outside of her house in Beverly Hills. Just for the outfits alone, these photos are priceless! So in your honor, Mom, here’s one of my favorites. Seriously, you should have been in an Alfred Hitchcock movie!

Mom on a BoatTake Care and Happy Eating! And Happy Birthday, Mom!


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!





Are You A Food-Centered Family?

We are well into 2015, and I finally got a chance to mentally take in the gifts I received over Christmas. So much is going on in my family, and in everyone’s family, over the month of December: traveling from one coast to another, traveling from one house to another, eating at, possibly, every new spot in Cleveland, Ohio, buying and giving gifts, sending and getting Holiday cards, carting Monsieur all over the country (kind of), dealing with a stolen wallet (fortunately that doesn’t happen every December), and the million other things that make up the busiest time of the year. It seems that with so many things going on, it’s easy to miss out on the things going on around us.

One of the gifts I received was Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2013 from my mother-in-law. I love these annual cookbooks. I get to pull out the old magazines I’ve been saving and transfer any notes of mine from the magazines to the cookbook, and then send the magazines off to a good home. It makes me feel so organized.

The note from the editor, Scott Mowbray, caught my eye from the October 2012 publication. “Sign of a food-centered family: During one meal, they talk about what the next meal will be.”  Hmmm.  This idea was brought up while he was interviewing Chef Ming Tsai.  Chef Ming explains how important food was to his family, and his Dad would always take photos of the food they shared.  Ahead of his time, right?  Mowbray notes that we, hopefully, eat about 82,000 meal throughout our lives, and we should remember them.  I would add to that point that we should respect them as well because meals are more than a plate of food in front of us.  Think about a family meal – it indicates we are healthy enough to enjoy a meal, we have money in order to purchase what is in front of us, and we have loved ones surrounding us.  Now being food-centered can turn a little crazy quickly, and we’ve all been there, too.  For example, I’m sitting with my family at a restaurant for lunch and we start talking about what we will eat for dinner, or I’m out to dinner with friends and I start discussing lunch options for the following day with my husband.  There is a fine line between enjoying a moment and taking it in and rushing through a moment in order to get to the next moment.  I hope I take the time with each eating event, and I will be more mindful that I do so in the future.  But this does not mean I will stop thinking or discussing the next meal!  Again, it’s that fine balance between appreciating and anticipating.  I think it can be done in a healthy way.

But this editorial note got me thinking: Is everyone like me, Chef Ming, and the Cooking Light editor?  Does everyone think about the next meal while they are still seated at a table?  Is this common?  Of course I love cooking and eating, so every meal is usually an adventure for me.  Why wouldn’t I look forward to the next one?  And if you are reading this, you probably feel the same way about food.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

And in the spirit of thinking about the next meal, I’m listing the meals I made, and will make, this week for dinner.  I’ve added the links so that you can easily access the recipe if you so desire.

Nutty Vegetable Sauté (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/recipes/nutty-vegetable-saute/)  This was made over the weekend, but the leftovers have carried into this week’s lunch and dinner menus.  I love when that happens!

Spicy Lentil-Walnut Burgers (http://www.marthastewart.com/318248/spicy-lentil-walnut-burgers) served with Roasted Carrots.  I was attempting to make a healthy “Burgers and Fries” meal for the viewing of The Ohio State v. Oregon football game.  I served it with Chunky Olive Hummus from Trader Joe’s (YUM!) and Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Flat Bread.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars (http://www.marthastewart.com/1065205/peanut-butter-and-jelly-bars) These were made as a half-time treat during the football game.  This was followed by one Stone Enjoy By IPA (http://enjoyby.stonebrewing.com/) to celebrate the victorious OSU!


O-H . . .

O-H . . .

Wild Mushroom Farro Risotto (Farrotto) (http://www.moreuncorked.com/!S0wXzFfbyV6LkYgba2nHpA!/Wild-Mushroom-Farro-Risotto-Farrotto) I omit the butter from this recipe and add more olive oil.  I may add more than 2 ounces of goat cheese.  Two ounces? HA!

Salad There is no recipe for this one.  I usually make a salad most nights of the week.  Occasionally the salad is the main course with a bunch of stuff in it, or I will make a simple one, like an arugula and red pepper salad.  I grew up eating a salad with dinner most nights of the week, so I like the tradition – and it’s tasty!

Falafel-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce and Tomato Relish (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/falafel-stuffed-eggplant)

Again, let me know your thoughts regarding the “Food-Centered Family”!  I’d love to hear from you!

Take Care and Happy Eating!



Don’t Try This At Home!

OK, so my title is a little misleading. Let me start at the beginning. Melissa’s (http://www.melissas.com/) offered another challenge to the San Diego Food Bloggers. The timing was a little tough due to the craziness of the Holidays, and Melissa’s pushed our creativity to the next level. We had to use all of the ingredients and create two recipes: one savory and one sweet. I was on board. I can’t thank Melissa’s enough for giving us the opportunity once again. I received my complimentary box of goodies containing a one pound bag of Mandarin oranges, two Korean pears, bag of Baby Dutch Potatoes, steamed chestnuts, steamed baby potatoes, steamed beets, peeled and steamed baby potatoes, seedless grapes, and a cookbook all about Baby Dutch Potatoes.


I gave myself a few days to figure out the direction I wanted to go with all of the items. I browsed the cookbook I received. I had some ideas, and then my wallet was stolen. Aargh. I am still talking with different companies and the police, so my creativity took a little hit. I felt like grabbing a burrito at La Posta (http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-posta-de-acapulcos-san-diego-2) and a growler from Societe Brewing Company (http://societebrewing.com/) instead of cooking and writing.

I started with dessert. I needed something sweet! I decided to make a Korean Pear and Grape Pie. I had eaten a Korean Pear before, but I had no idea how it would bake. This is where the “Don’t Try This At Home” comes into play. The pie tasted really good, but it looked like a wet mess. So sad. Korean Pears are unbelievably juicy. Maybe that was where I went wrong. Maybe I needed to add more flour to the fruit mix, or maybe I should have sautéed the pears to extract some of the liquid? Let me know your thoughts! The produce was delicious, and the pie was really tasty, it just should have held together better.  I wish I had more time to try this again, but time was short.  I’m making sure to put “Time” on my wish list to Santa!

Korean Pear and Grape Pie

For The Crust:

  • 2  2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup Canola Oil (You can substitute Vegetable Oil)
  • 6 Tablespoons cold milk

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large Korean Pears, about 2 pounds total, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound seedless red grapes, halved
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, diced
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the crust, sift together flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Combine oil and milk, but no need to mix, into a small bowl. Pour oil and milk into the flour mixture. Stir just until the dough comes together. DO NOT over mix!! Divide dough in half, and shape into 2 round balls. Roll dough between two sheets of wax paper to form 12 inch rounds. Transfer one disk to a 9.5 inch glass pie pan, removing and discarding the wax paper.
  2. Create the filling by mixing together the 1 1/4 cups sugar, flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add sliced pears and grapes, and toss until evenly coated.
  3. Fill bottom crust with fruit mixture and place diced butter on top. Cover with the remaining pastry round, discarding the wax paper.   Crimp edges to form a seal. Create a vent on top either by scoring the pie or by creating a design. I opted for a Christmas Tree vent. Brush with milk and sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar. Bake for 1 hour and allow to cool for at least an additional hour. If the pie crust begins to darken too quickly, cover the edges with foil.
Pie Shot

I opted for a contemporary Christmas tree vent.



Pie Cut

It was even more watery. I had to drain it a bit.

Once I made my sweet tooth happy, I, shockingly, was in a way better mood to cook! With the remaining ingredients I created an entrée and a side dish that is so easy to make any night of the week. I usually am not a fan of chestnuts, but I LOVE them in this recipe. And I love beets, but they can kind of be a pain if you buy them fresh. I felt like I was cheating by having the beets peeled and steamed for me! No grabbing surgical gloves to avoid the red stained hands! Awesome!

Seared Five-Spice Chicken with Chestnuts, Beets, and Spinach Roasting on the Open Fire (Well, not really, but I was listening to Christmas music while cooking, so it just sounds right.)

  • 3 skin-less chicken breasts (You can easily increase this number.  My Trader Joe’s chicken pack had 3 in it, and I didn’t feel like getting more.)
  • Five-Spice powder, 1 teaspoon
  • Dash of cayenne powder (I like a kick.  If you don’t, don’t use it, or substitute paprika.)
  • Dash of ground black pepper
  • Peanut oil, total amount approximately 2 Tablespoon (You can easily swap this out for canola oil or olive oil or any oil that can take high heat.  Do NOT use extra virgin olive oil.)
  • Fresh orange juice, 4 Tablespoons
  • Soy sauce, 2 teaspoons
  • Rice vinegar, 1 Tablespoon
  • Fresh spinach, 4 ounces (or a couple of large handfuls if you don’t have a scale)
  • Mandarin oranges, 2 diced
  1. Sprinkle Five-Spice, cayenne, and black pepper on chicken breasts.  Add about a tablespoon of peanut oil to a skillet and heat to medium-high.  Once the pan is nice and hot, add chicken breasts.  Once one side is seared, flip and sear the other side.  Once seared, reduce the heat to about medium to medium-low.  Cover the skillet with a piece of foil.  I prefer foil over a lid because it allows steam to escape and the chicken breast maintains the sear.  Continue cooking until the chicken is at least 165 degrees, approximately 20 minutes.  I always cook mine a little longer just because I like chicken that way.  And if you properly seared it, it will remain juicy (unless you let it cook for an hour;).
  2. Once chicken is fully cooked, remove from pan and keep warm.  In the same skillet, add another tablespoon of peanut oil, orange juice,  soy sauce, rice vinegar.  Add chopped chestnuts and chopped beets. Stir all ingredients together, loosening the chicken bits on the bottom of the skillet.  Increase temperature to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Once a boil is reached, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Add spinach and gently toss until the spinach is wilted.
  3. Place a nice amount of the chestnut mixture on a plate and top with a chicken breast.  Serve with a side of Baby Mash Potatoes, and call it a night!


Ginger Baby Mash Potatoes (No red-heads were harmed in the making of this recipe.)

I love these Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes.  The roast so nicely!  I received the same potatoes from Melissa’s during the last challenge, and I couldn’t resist preparing them the same way, but I had to mix it up a little!

  • Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes, 1 1/2 pounds
  • Olive oil, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • Melissa’s Peeled and Steamed Baby Potatoes, 17.6 ounces, rinsed
  • Greek non-fat yogurt, 6 tablespoons
  • Milk, 6 tablespoons
  • Fresh ground ginger, 2 teaspoons (You can add more if you prefer a stronger ginger flavor.)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Rinse and dry the baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes. I halved the potatoes lengthwise, and place in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over them (about a Tablespoon or so), and sprinkled them with fresh ground pepper and some salt. This really is about what you like. As I mentioned in the previous post, I like a lot of pepper and not too much salt, so I would suggest eyeballing it. Just remember you can always add more after they have roasted, but you can’t take any away! Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them with foil, place in a 425 degree pre-heated oven, and wait until they have softened. Ovens can vary, so check them after about 20 minutes. Once they are soft, remove the foil cover and place them back into the oven. Roast until they are the golden color you prefer. Make sure to flip and move the potatoes around once while they are browning. This step will take about 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven.  Once they are browned to your liking, set them aside to cool.
  2. Place peeled and steamed baby potatoes in a large mixing bowl.  With a potato masher, roughly mash the potatoes, and add the yogurt, milk, ginger, salt and pepper.  Once the Baby Dutch potatoes have cooled, break them down cutting them into smaller pieces.  Add small pieces to the potato mash mix.  With the potato masher, continue mashing the ingredients together.  I left mine a little rustic (Or in non-fancy words, chunky.)
  3. Simply reheat the potatoes in a microwave until heated through.

Ginger Potato Mash

This was another fun challenge, and I can’t thank Melissa’s enough for the ingredients provided.  Even though I received free stuff, all opinions are all mine!  I can’t wait to see what other Food Bloggers created with these items!  And I look forward to using the cookbook, but that might have to wait until after Christmas!

In case I can’t write again before the Holidays, I hope everyone has a fun, safe, and memorable eating experiences!  Looking forward to writing many more posts in 2015!

And check out what other Bloggers created:

Take Care and Happy Eating!






Another Melissa’s Food Challenge!

Once again,  Melissa’s Produce (http://www.melissas.com/) put San Diego Food Bloggers’ to another mystery box challenge.  From my FedEx delivered box of goodies, and I had to choose at least 3-4 items from Melissa’s and incorporate 1-2 other ingredients, dealer’s choice (or in this case, cook’s choice).  I could have gone in a few different directions, however, I was leaving for a trip to NYC a few days after receiving the package, so I knew I would need to make something freezer-friendly.


Boxed GoodsDry GoodsProduce

Click here to see what other San Diego Food Bloggers’ created: An InLinkz Link-up

Burgers and Fries (. . . For the Health Conscious and Flavor Seeker)

  • Olive Oil, 4 Tablespoons (You can use Canola or Grapeseed Oil, if you prefer.)
  • Panko or breadcrumbs, 1 1/3 cup
  • Pine Nuts, 1 cup
  • Walnuts, 1 cup
  • Shallots, 2, diced
  • Cumin, 2 Tablespoons
  • Coriander, 2 Tablespoons
  • Pepper Flakes, 2 teaspoons (or more, if you like a little more heat)
  • Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Ground Black Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Dried Cranberries, 1 cup
  • Blackeyed Peas, 11 ounces
  • Garbanzo Beans, 9 ounces
  • Eggs, 4, lightly whisked
  1. Combine Olive Oil through Ground Black Pepper in a food processor until fully combined.
  2. Add Blackeyed Peas, Garbanzo Beans, and dried Cranberries to Nut and Panko mix.  (The amount of beans will equal about 3 cups.  You can substitute any brand of canned Blackeyed Peas or Garbanzo Beans.)  With the pulse setting, combine all of the ingredients until the desired consistency.  If you prefer some full beans in your burgers, go for it – just stop when it looks combined.  I made mine relatively smooth.
  3. Place mixture in a large bowl and add 4 eggs.  If you prefer to use only half of the yolks for a “healthier” version, go for it!  Make sure to lightly whisk the eggs before you add the burger mix.  It’s just easier that way.  Mix all of the ingredients together until they are fully combined.
  4. With your hands, form mixture into the shape of 10 burger patties.
  5. Add about a Tablespoon of olive oil skillet, and heat to medium-high.  Once the oil is hot, add the burgers to the pan.  Once they have browned, it will take about 5 minutes, flip and continue browning on the other side.  Once they are browned, turn the heat to medium-low heat and cover pan with a lid or piece of foil, and continue cooking until they are fully cooked.  This will take about 15 minutes.  Another option, after browning, you can transfer the burger patties to a pre-heated oven (375 degree) for about 15 minutes.  The benefit is that you don’t have to keep an eye on them so closely (so they don’t burn), and you can do many more at one time.  (I had to freeze about half of what I made.  Just make sure to cook them first, then freeze.  Then you have lunch at your fingertips!)

The Finished Product

I kept thinking of that commercial tag line “It’s In There!”




Making the accompanying fries, couldn’t be easier. Melissa’s sent my a 3 pound bag of baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes, and my husband and I finished them in 2 days. Nobody ever said we can’t eat. I simply rinsed and dried the potatoes. I left the smaller spuds whole, and I halved or quartered the larger ones. I placed them in a mixing bowl, drizzled olive oil over them (about a Tablespoon), and sprinkled them with fresh ground pepper and some salt. This really is about what you like. I like a lot of pepper and not too much salt, so I would suggest eyeballing it. Just remember you can always add more after they have roasted, but you can’t take any away! I place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them with foil, place in a 425 degree pre-heated oven, and wait until they have softened. Ovens can vary, so check them after about 20 minutes. Once they are soft, remove the foil cover and place them back into the oven. Roast until they are the golden color you prefer. Make sure to flip and move the potatoes around once while they are browning. This step will take about 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.

I could eat these all day, every day!

I could eat these all day, every day!

Now, I can’t eat burgers and fries without ketchup, so I created a “Beanup”. All the hip restaurants opt out of the good old-fashioned stuff, so I am following suit!


  • Fava Beans, 8.8 ounces
  • White Kidney Beans, 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • Shallot, one small, finely chopped
  • Tahini, 2 Tablespoons
  • Garlic cloves, 2, finely chopped
  • Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Lemon Juice, 1 Tablespoon (or more if you like it tangy)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and combine until very smooth.  That’s it!


Sooo Good!

Sooo Good!

I received the items from Melissa’s, but no other compensation was given and all opinions are of my own.  Thanks must be given to Melissa’s Produce! This was so much fun, and I appreciated a free box of delicious food items deliver to my door just so I could play around with it! Tonight I am using the Butternut Squash in an Arugula and Feta Salad for dinner. I can’t wait. Look for my post next week about my annual trip to The Big Apple. Funny, I never did have an apple while I was there!

Take Care and Happy Eating!


Two For The Price of One

My last post discussed FINALLY going to places that have been on “the list”. You know, that list of restaurants you make that you intend to visit in the near future? The one that keeps growing? The one where Juniper and Ivy was added to it before it even opened in March, but have yet to go? (Side note, I do have reservations there in a couple of weeks – FINALLY! I briefly digress.) That list that continues to grow, but you find yourself, once again, at Pizza Port in OB ordering another delicious pie and a pint? Please tell me you do so that you make me feel better.

I try very hard not to be that way with the dinners I make at home, but there is a particular comfort in making a dish that you know what you need, the steps you need to take, and that it will turn out to be a delicious meal while you watch Brian Williams deliver the news in yet another stunning tie. We love Brian Williams in my house.   I won’t say who loves him the most. So back to the dinner recipes!   With the heat San Diego has been experiencing, it has been hard to think of new and refreshing meals. Grilling or sautéing chicken (because I don’t want to leave the air-conditioned comfort of my house) and serving it over a salad is getting SO played.

I fell in love with this recipe that was emailed to me by Food and Wine. The recipe online is not complete for some reason, so the one below has my changes and additions. If you would like to see the original recipe, go to http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/tomato-and-peach-salad-with-crisp-tofu. It is so refreshing, and you can easily play around with the ingredient list if there’s something you want to add or delete. I would really hesitate from deleting any items. I ended up not using all of the dressing that I had made, so dinner for the following night was already on my mind.

First Night: Tomato and Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu

  • 2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2  tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons canola oil or grape seed oil
  • 24 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained well and cubed
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 peaches, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  1. Put the serranos in a small heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil with the vinegar, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the brine over the serranos and let stand for 15 minutes, until cooled to room temperature. If you are not a huge fan of heat, you can easily omit this ingredient.  However, the sweetness from the peaches and the peppery quality of the arugula tastes awesome with the candied Serrano. Another option, you could finely chopped the chiles and add them to the dressing in order to spread the “heat wealth”.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, mustard and 6 tablespoons of the oil. (Here is where you could add the chopped serrano, if you so desire.)
  3. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of oil until shimmering. Add the tofu, season with salt, and cook over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.  (*Add only enough tofu to the pan so that it can properly brown.  Add more oil if needed between batches.)
  4. Once the tofu has cooled, place the tofu in a large mixing bowl.  Add the tomatoes, peaches, arugula, and basil.  If you didn’t add the serranos to the dressing, add those in at this time.  I added about half of the chiles.  I like things spicy, but I want to taste my food as well! I also added some of the serrano brine.  The amount of the Ginger Soy Dressing you can add really depends on you.  I used about 2 Tablespoons. Gently mix all of the ingredients together.  (*The amount of tofu I sautéed may be more than you will need.  However, if you have leftovers, add it to a salad the next day for lunch:)




A week earlier I noticed, and clipped, a recipe in the local paper. I used that recipe as a springboard for the salad I made last night using the leftover dressing from the Tomato and Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/sep/09/get-fresh-cool-ideas-cucumbers/).

Second Night: Megan’s Quick Chilled Shrimp, Cucumber and Soba Noodle Salad

  • 6 ounces soba noodles
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp (bought uncooked shrimp from Trader Joe’s and sautéed)
  • 1½ cups sliced cucumbers
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup (or more) mint
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • sliced serranos left over from the previous evening’s dinner
  • Left over dressing from previous evening’s dinner. I used about 2 Tablespoons of dressing, but you can add as much or as little as you like.  My husband and I eat large portions, so the recipes above were enough for the 2 of us. If you are cooking for 1, I would still make these portions and then you have lunch for the next day or two.


  1. Cook soba noodles as directed on the package. If you are like me and buy your shrimp frozen and raw, cook shrimp, let them cool and add to a large salad bowl. If you buy them precooked, just go ahead and add them to the bowl as is. Add cooked and cooled noodles to the bowl. Add cucumbers, carrots, mint, cilantro, scallions, serranos (if you like a little heat), and as much dressing as you like. Mix all ingredients together.


On a final note, even though it feels like a nice Summer day in the Sahara Desert, Fall is quickly approaching.  Ever since I became a coffee drinker, I haven’t been able to enjoy what used to be a favorite beverage of mine, Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks.  It just tastes too sweet and fake.  I had a free beverage coming my way, so I decided to try an Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte (Venti because it was free, of course.) but opted out of the 6 shots of flavor (Can you imagine???), and I requested just one flavor shot.  Also, I requested non fat milk and an extra shot of espresso.   Perfection.  The only problem is that it was probably a $6 drink, so I will have to wait for another freebie before I order another one!



It’s like a thesis on the side of my beverage!

Enjoy the last few days of Summer!  Take Care and Happy Eating!



Melissa’s Produce Challenge – The Sequel!

The San Diego Food Bloggers are at it again!  Several of us were sent another box of goodies from Melissa’s Produce http://www.melissas.com/ .  Not sure what I’m talking about?  Check out my blog from March 19th, Melissa’s Produce San Diego Food Bloggers Challenge, to read all about this company.

This time I received a box containing several nectarines, 1 Korean Melon, 8 Rhubarb Stalks, a bunch of Fava Beans, Peaches, a Coconut and an opener, and a jar of Hatch Salsa. There was a delay in receiving the shipment due to the local fires and crazy weather, so the timing wasn’t the best for me. And it was about 100 degrees on the Coast. Enough of my moaning. We don’t get to complain often in San Diego, so just humor me. I loved the challenge placed before me!  Really, I did!

Two more items I decided to use at another time. Melon was eaten just simply sliced.  I hadn't had one before, so I wanted to try it on its own.  I still need to open the salsa.  I love Hatch peppers!!

Two more items I decided to use at another time. Melon was eaten just simply sliced. I hadn’t had one before, so I wanted to try it on its own. I still need to open the salsa. I love Hatch peppers!!

Melissa's Produce

Very cool to receive both of these ingredients, but I opted to save those for another cooking adventure!

Very cool to receive both of these, but I opted to save those for another cooking adventure!

Fava Farro Salad

I will post this recipe soon!

I knew when I saw the Rhubarb, that was a must. Rhubarb is one of my most favorite things in the world. I made a rhubarb cocktail last year.  I really need to do that again!!  But back to this challenge!  I decided to create a flat bread and top it with rhubarb, nectarines, peaches, and goat cheese. I had never tried a Korean Melon, and I was limited on time, so I opted to set that aside. I wanted something to serve alongside of the flatbread, so I made a Farro Salad with Fava Beans and Tomatoes.

First step: remove the fava beans from the outer shell.

First step: remove the fava beans from the outer shell.

Second step: peel away the second "shell".  I read that some say this is not necessary.  I tried a fava with and without that second layer.  I found the second layer to be a bit bitter, so I removed it.  It does take time.

Second step: peel away the second “shell”. I read that some say this is not necessary. I tried a fava with and without that second layer. I found the second layer to be a bit bitter, so I removed it. It does take time.

Since I had some goat cheese on hand, I crumbled some more goat cheese into the salad. Why not? If I could get away with goat cheese in my coffee, I would.  This flatbread turned out to be so good that my husband and I ate the whole thing in one night.  Don’t judge us!  You try to stop halfway!!



Thyme to make the dough!  I can't get enough of that pun. Sorry.

Thyme to make the dough! I can’t get enough of that pun. Sorry.

Thyme To Eat Your Fruit Flatbread!

1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)

1 package active yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2.5 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Several sprigs of fresh thyme (extra to sprinkle on top)

3 Tablespoon olive oil

6 fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed and chopped

2 nectarines, chopped

3 peaches, chopped

4 oz goat cheese (You can really add however much you like. I could easily add way more.)

Cornmeal for dusting

1) In a small bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes or until foamy.

2)In a large bowl combine 2 cups of flour and salt. Add yeast mixture, thyme, and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir until combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead in additional flour until dough becomes smooth and elastic.

3) Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover; let rise 30 minutes or until double in size.

4) Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Set aside. Punch down dough. Roll and shape until the dough is the size of the entire baking sheet. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Gently press the rhubarb, nectarines, and peaches into shaped dough. Top with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with extra thyme. With a pastry brush, brush remaining olive oil over the flatbread.

5) Bake 18 minutes or until flatbread is the desired color and the fruit is tender. I turned the broiler on for an additional few minutes to get it a little crisper. Remember to never leave the room and keep an eye on it because broilers can work fast!!

Make sure to check out this link and read what the other Food Bloggers created!  And huge THANK YOU goes out to Melissa’s Produce!  Once again, you sent a wonderful box of tasty treats!!  Thanks again! Take Care and Happy Eating!  An InLinkz Link-up


One Heck Of A Meal

If you are free, try to checkout this awesome fundraising bake sale! Cupcakes can reduce body temps! It's a fact;)

If you are free, try to check out this awesome fundraising bake sale! Cupcakes can reduce body temps! It’s a fact:)


How often do you cook dinner? I usually cook dinner 5 nights a week. That’s a lot of meals. As much as enjoy trying new recipes and making some up, I have those dishes that I always revisit throughout the year. As a kid, my mom’s favorite go-to meals were meatloaf, perch, spaghetti with jarred Ragu, and liver and onions. There was always a half-gallon of milk on the table, and it always had this orange plastic holder with a handle. Why? I’m not sure. Where did my Mom even get that thing? And where did it go?

My go-to meals are salmon (either seared or in cake form), big salads with a ton of stuff in it, good old pasta with a tomato sauce (and I admit, often it is Barilla), and some kind of grain salad, like wheat berry or Farro, with roasted veggies and chicken. But because I cook a lot of meals, I don’t want to get too repetitive, so I look everywhere for new ideas.

I made a meal the other night from an article in the San Diego Union Tribune (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Apr/08/Armenian-cookbook-vegan-eggplant-casserole/), and Franz claimed it is one of his favorites. It is so simple to make, it smells awesome, and it is delicious. This will be added to my “go-to” meals without a doubt. The creator of the recipe, Dikranouhi Kirazian, is a local San Diegan who just published Armenian Vegan: A Pure Vegan Cookbook with 200+Recipes Using No Animal Products. I might have come up with a sexier title, but if this recipe is a good example of the rest of her work, I will have to buy this one!

Eggplant Casserole (Any notes in parenthesis, highlighted and in italics are my notes or additions.)

Serves 2 to 4

2 large eggplants

Olive oil (for brushing eggplant)

Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste (or any herbs you prefer that can withstand being broiled)

For the sauce

2 medium onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped  (I added more because I love garlic.)

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 cups sliced mushrooms (I added more because I love mushrooms.)

2 bay leaves

1⁄2 teaspoon oregano

1⁄2 teaspoon dried basil

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

8-ounce can tomato sauce (I had a 15 oz jar of tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s, so I added the whole thing. I like it a little saucy!)

Wash eggplant and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick round slices. Place slices on a large tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder ( I had some Santa Maria seasoning that I wanted to use, so I sprinkled that on them.). Turn slices over and repeat on other side. Put under a broiler preheated to between 350 and 400 degrees (I put my oven to 425 degrees to achieve the necessary browning), and broil both sides until a light golden brown. When done, remove from oven and set aside.(I opted to slice each round in half after broiling. I figured it would be a little easier to eat.)

Prepare the sauce while eggplant is cooking: Chop onions and garlic and sauté for several minutes in small amount of olive oil; then add the rest of the olive oil, mushrooms and all other spices. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, and stir frequently. Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then turn off heat.

Prepare for baking: Pour several spoons of sauce on the bottom of an 11-by-7-inch or 9-by-9-inch casserole dish. Layer the bottom of casserole dish with eggplant slices. Spoon some of the sauce on this layer; then add new layers, spooning sauce over each. Be sure to keep some sauce to pour over top layer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake casserole dish for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, as a main dish with rice or any pasta, and with a crunchy baguette. Can also be served cold as an appetizer. (I served this with Barilla’s Linguine.)

Sorry there are no photos.  I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t realize how much I would love it, and the leftovers didn’t look very pretty.  However, if you go to the UT link noted in the beginning, there is a beautiful photo!

I couldn’t leave you without one image.  I found my childhood milk holder!

This is it!!!!

This is it!!!!

Take Care and Happy Eating!