Monday, January 31, 2011


When Ron cooks I know it will be really good. He never uses a recipe, that is why I gave him his own category. Here are some pictures of some great dinners he cooked.

This was uh.....well, I guess I'll call it Crockpot Surprise. We pulled two packages of meat out of the freezer and one was marked Pork Tri Tip and the other looked the same but no label on it. Ron made some kind of sauce, threw it in the crock pot and this is how it came out. It was really good whatever it was! He served it with broccoli, German Spaetzle, and a salad.
Ron is the master of this chicken dish. Whenever we have leftover chicken he makes a dinner with rice, chicken, and a creamy-lemony-caper sauce. I love this.

Ron also made this delish dish of scallops, mushrooms, and other things over pasta. Another great meal.
Thanks Ron for all the great meals!

Friday, January 28, 2011


Feeling crabby? Make crab cakes. This is a great dish to serve when the weather is warm and you feel like a salad but need a little umph in your greens.

Fresh crab meat would be the best but I found a pretty good canned crab at Trader Joes. Be sure to pick through it for shell shards. I found a few.
The cakes will feel  watery, but after spending some time in the refrigerator they will firm up.


Adapted from Bon Appetit

Make 10 first course servings

3/4 cup Panko crumbs
1 pound fresh crabmeat, drained well, picked over
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 TBSP. fresh chives
1 TBSP. Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP. dijon mustard
¼ tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 large egg, beaten to blend
¼ cup vegetable oil
12 cups mixed baby greens
Lemon Vinaigrette (see recipe)
Additional chopped fresh chives

Line baking sheet with waxed paper. Place 1/2 cup breadcrumbs in shallow dish.
Mix crabmeat, mayonnaise, 3 TBSP. chives, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, hot pepper sauce and remaining 1/4 cup breadcrumbs in medium bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in egg. Using 2 TBSP. for each, form crab mixture into twenty 1 1/2 inch diameter cakes. Coat crab cakes with breadcrumbs in dish, pressing breadcrumbs to adhere. Transfer crab cakes to prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over med. heat. Working in batches, add crab cakes to skillet and cook until golden brown and heated through, about 2 minutes.

                                                      LEMON VINAIGRETTE

1/2 cup olive oil
3 TBSP. fresh lemon juice
1 TBSP. minced shallot
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. sugar

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made one day ahead. Chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Makes about 1/4 cup

I served this as the main course and made my patties about 3" in diameter. There were about 6 leftover and they were really good the next day.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Mother Nature thinks it's summer. It was 80 degrees yesterday. I started craving one of my favorite summer time drinks. Lemonade. I was sitting in the sun reading the New York Times new cookbook when I came across a recipe for Kaffir Lime Lemonade. I looked around the yard and I had everything I needed just a few steps away.

Kaffir Lime is one of my all time favorite flavors. You grow this tree for the leaves. It is one of the major flavors you taste in Thai food. We planted a tree last year. I used to have to drive out to Indo China Market just to buy these leaves.

The tree looks like this
The leaves look like this
I made a simple syrup of sugar, water and the lime leaves
After it cooled I added fresh lemon juice, club soda, and ice.
And...uh....look at the first picture. The sun was setting so I made it a big girl drink with a splash of vodka.

                                                       KAFFIR LIME LEMONADE

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
10 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
2 cups chilled club soda or seltzer
Vodka (optional)

Combine the water, sugar, and the lime leaves in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until cold.

Fill each tumbler with ice and top with 1/4 cup of the lime syrup, 1 TBSP. lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of club soda. Add a splash of vodka if you like and stir.

Makes 8  drinks.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Give this soup a try. You won't believe how easy it is and how good it is. Only 4 basic ingredients. Broccoli, water, salt, and pepper. Trust me on this one.
The green color is not photo shopped. It really is that green. Cooking the broccoli quickly with the lid on the pan is the reason it stays so green. Hmmmm...this would be a good dish for St. Patricks Day.

This is a recipe from Gordon Ramsay. Rather than post the recipe just watch it on You Tube.

I used croutons instead of walnuts. Walnuts seemed a bit strange. Start with a small amount of water and add more until the soup is thinned to the consistency you like. Next time I make this I'm going to top it with gorgonzola and bacon. I love his tip about putting the knife in the hot water to make a nice clean slice on the goat cheese.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Anyone notice how HOT it is? It feels like summer. It feels like salad time!

This is one of my favorite Asian Chicken Salads. If you use my super quick tips you can have this on the table in no time.
Pay no attention to the Vietnamese Stuffed Squid with Asian Dipping sauce that are looking lustfully at my salad. They took forever to make and as far as I'm concerned they can squididdle right back into that ocean they came from.


For the vinaigrette:

2 TBSP. rice vinegar
1 TBSP. soy sauce
1 TBSP. peanut oil
2 tsp. finely grated or minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1 medium clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients, seasoning to taste with the salt and pepper.

For the salad:

One cooked rotisserie chicken (or you can cook fresh chicken breasts)
½ cup cashew pieces (about 3oz.)
1 ½ cup peanut oil
8 wonton wrappers, cut into 1/8” strips (see my quick tips)
10 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves, washed and dried (about 10oz.)
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Toast the cashews in a 375~ oven until golden and fragrant, seven to nine minutes. Let cool.

Fry the wonton strips in the peanut oil until light golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Season with a light sprinkle of salt.

In a large bowl, toss the vinaigrette with the spinach, bite size pieces of the rotisserie chicken, and the scallions. Season to taste with salt. Divide the salad among four or six plates, garnish with fried wontons and cashews. Serve immediately.


You can cook your own chicken breasts but I buy the cooked rotisserie chicken from the store.

 Some salad bars have cooked chicken pieces and that is even easier.

 I go to Lazy Acres and buy the already cooked wontons from the salad bar. Buy a lot and put them in the freezer. They freeze really well and you will always have them at your finger tips.

I also go to Lazy Acres and get the already cleaned spinach from the salad bar.

Use my quick tips and this wonderful salad can be on the table in less than 20 minutes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


It's TAX time. That time of year when I don't see much of my husband. Last week we realized that we both had all day Monday off. We thought about going out of town and then we came up with the idea to be tourists in Santa Barbara. Where do tourist go??? What do tourists do???  Ron went down to the visitors center and came home with maps, coupons for tourists, and a lot of tourist suggestions. WOW! We can go wine tasting for free, get free coffee, free calamari, discounts and more! What fun we were going to have...BUT WAIT...I'm not a tourist. I'm about as local as you can get. What if someone recognizes me using tourist coupons. OH NO!  SO...I decided to go undercover.

First, the disguise.

That ought to work.  We started our staycation with Happy Hour Sunday night. Where do the tourists go?? How about the FisHouse on Cabrillo Blvd. On Sundays they have a happy hour from 11:30AM till closing so off we went. We had the Ahi Tacos and the Fillet Mignon Skewers. Both delish. Then we headed over to the Fish Enterprise. Their Happy Hour started at 7:00 on Sunday until closing. We arrived at 5 minutes before 7:00 and had no problem finding a nice table. We had a bowl of steamed clams and a basket of bread. A great way to spend the evening as we looked forward to Monday.

Monday morning, in disguise and ready to hit the trail......
First stop Sambos. We had a coupon for free coffee and we hadn't been there in years...maybe not since high school.

A great breakfast and nobody recognized me.
We had a coupon for two for one entrance to the Botanic Gardens. Another place we hadn't been to in years so we headed off.

We walked up to the Kiosk and ..... OH NO! I knew her...what would she think when I gave her my tourist coupon. Maybe she won't recognize me in my disguise. I said hello and handed her the coupon. She said "Hi Lexi and welcome! You don't need that coupon I'll let you both in for free today". She was either being extremely nice or felt sorry for me in my disguise, using tourist coupons. Oh well. It was a beautiful day and we had a very nice hike.
After the hike we headed out for a free wine tasting.
 This place was really fun and filled with tourists. They have live music on the weekends and holidays and it was a nice touch. I found a Zin that I really liked. They also give tourists 10% off wine purchases :) :) :)
After the wine tasting we decided we should have some food. We had a tourist coupon for a free order of calamari at Arch Rock Fish. This place opened last year but we hadn't been there before. We LOVED this place. The bar has a great feel. I think they have the best Happy Hour food and drinks in town. Their Happy Hour is Monday-Friday 3-7 and Sunday 12-5. We were there before 5:00 and we had the place to ourselves. The waiter said that  after 5 it starts to get really busy. First we had the calamari. It was perfectly cooked, tender, and served with a great dipping sauce. Next we tried the Grilled Fish Taco. Only one small taco, but a nice piece of grilled fish and only three dollars. Then we tried the Home Made Guacamole and Chips. This was the best guacamole I have had in town. They quickly fried the chips when we ordered them so they were piping hot and crispy. To top off a perfect meal of small plates we ordered the Stilton and Truffle Honey Grilled Cheese. OMG these were so good.

They have at least twelve different appetizers on the Happy Hour menu.We can't wait to go back. Cocktails and wine are 3.00 during Happy Hour and beers start at 2.75. The service was superb. This may become my new favorite place.

We headed home HAPPY  (of course) and delighted that we had such a blast in our own home town. Every place we visited today was only a couple of miles from our home.

Only 3 months until TAX season is over :) I can't wait.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Trust me on this one. This is REALLY good. I mean REALLY good. Ron ate half the bowl last night. He looked like Popeye...remember him? Ron also thought my picture of the salad looked like a Christmas tree, funny Popeye :)

It only has six ingredients, really quick to make, you make it ahead of time, and it is really healthy.

Start with curly Kale. I think you can buy it all cleaned and chopped at Trader Joes but I bought mine at Tri County Produce.

Chop it up.
Toss with the dressing and chill it for 4 hours or overnight. Ron liked the taste after about six hours and I liked it the next day. Go figure.........either way, this is a great dish. Serve it with Teriaki Chicken and a side of rice.

                                                               SESAME KALE SALAD

2 cups of chopped kale leaves (remove the tough stems and ribs)
2 large roasted piquillo peppers or roasted red bell peppers, cut into thin bite-sized strips ( I used 1 jar Trader Joes Roasted Red Peppers)
3 TBSP. toasted sesame seeds (buy the jars with them already toasted)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 TBSP. toasted sesame oil
2 TBSP. soy sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce and vinegar until completely emulsified. Set aside at room temperature.

In a larger mixing bowl, place kale and pepper strips. Drizzle in dressing and mix the greens and dressing thoroughly. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and mix until evenly distributed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Chill for 4 hours to overnight.

Yeah...I know Popeye ate spinach, but greens are greens.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I can't resist these luscious sea creatures. I know, they are a little creepy with those eyeballs looking back at you, but just don't think about it.

These shrimp are not really shrimp. They are actually prawns. And these guys are juicier and sweeter than any other shrimp or prawn. Once they are plucked from their briny home in the Santa Barbara Channel they need to be cooked as soon as possible. They  deteriorate rather quickly. I bought these right off the boat for about 5.00 a pound.

All I did was pour a bottle of beer in a pan, added a little water, put them in the steamer basket and steamed them until they were opaque. I only steamed them for about 3 or 4 minutes. Don't over cook them. I served them au natural (think peel and eat) and had a small bowl of melted butter on the side. They really don't need the butter. They are buttah! I personally  like them plain with a squeeze of lemon.

If the eyeballs turn you off, you can pull the heads off and just cook the tails....but I think they are kinda cute!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Let me share some of my FAVORITE foodie gifts I received for Christmas this year.

First, the cutest gift EVER!!!!!!

My nieces, Ashley and Brittany inherited some of Aunt Lexi's genes. The obsession with food and cooking and the obsession with....



It is a cake server with heels! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS. It was the perfect gift. It is so cute I'm not sure if I will use it or frame it.

Thought it might enjoy a view.

Thanks A & B.

Another great gift was The Herb Saver. You put the herbs in the top and fill the bottom with water. You can save your fresh herbs for weeks. It must be great, it made Oprahs Best of List.

Thanks RH.

Then there was the cork screw trivet. You add your corks to the screws and you have a cool trivet.

Thanks SW.

My last favorite gift was a Thermopen. I have wanted one of these for years. It is the BEST thermometer you can buy. I have three instant read thermometers and because I don't trust any of them, I stick all three in the roast and take an average.

NO  MORE................the thermopen is easy, accurate and just the coolest ever. You can use it for candy, barbecue, temperature of the room you are standing in or meats. I think it is the most accurate on the market. Most Chefs use this tool. If you want to buy your last thermometer ever then order this. It will make you a better cook.

 Thanks SC

So, these are my favorite foodie gifts of Christmas 2010.  Thanks to the gifters and Happy 2011.

Monday, January 3, 2011


For Christmas I gave some of my family members a Sushi Class. We had the class at my sisters home. Fukiko was our instructor. She is a sushi chef and a Sake Sommelier. We made California Rolls, Spicy Tuna Rolls, and Grilled Vegetable Hand Rolls. It was great fun.

First we made the rice in the rice cooker. Then we added the Sushi vinegar to the rice and put it in a Sushioke (wood bowl). We sliced the rice with a paddle to separate the grains without smashing them. After using a Japanese fan to cool the rice we were ready to ROLL.

First we made California rolls and then Spicy Ahi Rolls.

Fukiko then taught us how to make Grilled Vegetable Hand Rolls.

You can tell by the next photos that we are all experts!



We had Yorkshire Pudding to go with the Prime Rib on Christmas Day. I used the recipe that Cooks Illustrated published and then adapted by

Ashley and Brittany made them for the first time and WOW, they did a great job.

                                              YORKSHIRE PUDDING

Do this recipe by hand, you want a light touch as you're mixing the flour.

3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
3/4 tsp. table salt (or 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt)
1 1/2 cups UNBLEACHED flour (7 1/2 oz), sifted
3 TBSP. beef fat (from your Prime Rib Roast)

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and salt. Sift in the flour in three stages, each time whisking until flour disappears before adding in more flour. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.

When the Prime Rib is finished, spoon out 3 TBSP. of beef fat. Turn oven to 450~.

Stir 1 TBSP. of the beef fat into the batter.
In a muffin pan, fill each cup with 1/2 tsp. of the remaining beef fat. When oven has reached temperature, place muffin pan with fat into oven for 3 minutes until smoking hot.

Carefully take out the pan and pour batter into each cup, filling to 2/3 full. Immediately return to oven and bake for 20 minutes. Do NOT open oven door during baking, or the Yorkshire Puddings will collapse. Reduce heat to 350~ and bake and additional 10 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from oven, pierce each Yorkshire Pudding with toothpick to allow steam to escape and prevent them from collapsing.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I cooked a 10 pound Prime Rib for our Christmas dinner.  It came out perfect. Not quite sure how that happened. We had planned to eat at 4:00 but things got a little delayed and we sat down to dinner at 5:00. I took the meat out at 3:30 and tented it with foil and it was still perfect at 5:00. Medium on the outside and rare in the middle. I cooked it low and slow and 250~ and 17 minutes per pound. I took it out of the oven when the thermometer read 110~.

If you make this, take the time to make the Red Wine Sauce to go with it. It is really good.

Making the Red Wine Jus

Ron's plate.

                The recipe came from Cooks Illustrated and was adapted by

Prime Rib Roast with Red Wine Jus
Servings: 10-12 Prep Time: 2 hours to let roast come to room temperature, but only 30 minutes of hands-on. Cook Time: 2-3 hours, depending on size of roast
Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated.
Important points:
1) Get bone-in rib roast, preferable first-cut, ribs 9-12 for most flavor. Choice grade of beef (i.e. not the pricey Prime grade) is what you'll ask for.
2) Take note of how many pounds the roast is prior to cooking (bones and roast) to determine cooking time
3) Use a meat thermometer
1 bone-on beef rib roast (about 7-8 pounds)
1 1/2 pounds oxtail bones
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 onions, quartered
3 carrots, cut into thirds
3 stalks celery, cut into thirds
1 whole head garlic, halved
2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 cup red wine
1 3/4 cups beef broth
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1. Take roast from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400F, place rack on lowest position. Rub oxtails with tomato paste, place in roasting pan. Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic, toss with just 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil. Roast for 20 minutes.
2. In the meantime, cut the bone from the rib roast (try to carve as close to the bone as possible). Rub roast with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Heat large frying pan on high heat. When smoking hot, place rib roast, fat side down in pan and sear each side 5 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool for a few minutes. Place the roast right back onto the bones. Use kitchen twine or strips of cheesecloth to tie roast back onto the bones.
3. When the oxtails and vegetables are done, remove pan from oven.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 250F.
5. Push the oxtail bones and vegetables to the sides, place roast, bone side down in roasting pan. Return pan to oven. Roast for 17-20 minutes PER POUND or until temperature of the middle of the roast is 130F (medium-rare to medium). Transfer roast to cutting board, carefully untie the bones from roast. Cover loosely with tin foil. Rest for 20 minutes.
6. While roast is resting, make the red wine jus. Keep the oxtails and vegetables in the roasting pan but pour out all but 1 teaspoon of the fat (reserve for Yorkshire Pudding if desired). Place the bones that you've untied from roast in roasting pan 2 burners set on high heat.
7. Pour in the red wine and cook until wine is reduced by half. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the bits. Add the beef broth, chicken broth, thyme. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add any juices accumulated from the rib roast on the cutting board. Turn off heat.
8. Remove the oxtails and the bones. Strain the jus with mesh strainer, pressing down with wooden spoon to extract out all the juice from the vegetables. Carve the roast, serve with the jus.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Oh...this was good. My friend Christine gave me the recipe (which really is a little of this and a little of that type of recipe) and it was so easy and so good.

I used Scottish Salmon. My new favorite salmon. There is so much goodness in this fish (aka fat) that it just melts in your mouth.

It is really great for a large gathering too. You can cook it early in the day or even the day before and then serve it at room temperature. I cooked it early Christmas morning, put it in the refrigerator and took it out about 1 hour before dinner. This is what I did.

Started with a 4.75 lb. Scottish Salmon. Then I took some foil, coated it with olive oil and put the salmon on top of it. I sprinkled the salmon with Lea & Perrins white wine Worcestershire sauce, white wine, soy sauce, lemon juice, lemon pepper, and fresh thyme. Wrapped the salmon in the foil and poked holes in the top of the foil. I put a rack on  a tray and cooked it at 350~ for 40 minutes.

Served it with a sauce of mayonnaise, lemon juice, and chopped dill. It was really good.