Tuesday, May 31, 2011


There was a lot going on in Santa Barbara this weekend. One thing that caught our eye was the truck stop.

It was a gathering of our local food trucks, the latest rage in S.B.

The first truck to come to Santa Barbara was the Burger Bus.

They really have great burgers. Everything is sourced locally and you can tell. Organic beef and fresh ciabatta rolls. There was a long line at the bus so we moved on.

I heard about one of the newest trucks to hit town, O' Street. They serve French-Vietnamese and French-Mex food. I was in the mood for a Banh Mi sandwich so we headed over there.

After waiting in line for a while we got up to the window only to learn that they had run out of bread. They said they would have more in about 15 minutes. There must have been more people than they had expected because the truck event ran from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and it was only 2:00 when we were there.

We were getting hungry so we placed our order for a Banh Mi and some Pommes Frites and then headed over to Green and Tasty to see what we could find.

This truck promotes healthy food. We ordered a Tapada. We weren't sure what a tapado was and the nice lady who took our money had no idea either. When it came out it looked like a mini taco, a little greasy and filled with potato and cheese. Not very healthy. I googled it and I still don't know what it was that we ate.  While we were eating this mini whatever we spotted bread man!

So we hightailed it back to O' Street.

We were really hungry by then (we walked from home to the event) so we grabbed our food and then I remembered I wanted to take a picture. Oh well....

The Pommes Frites were really good. They had a nice seasoning on it. We loved dipping them in the wasabi mayo, not so much in the curry-ketchup. The Banh Mi filled us up but it was not authentic. It tasted rushed and thrown together. I went to their web-site and there is a picture of what a Banh Mi should look like. Way different than the one we ordered. I think they just ran out of food early and winged it.

I used to make Banh Mi with a Vietnamese woman who worked for me a few years ago. She taught me the authentic version so I know good Banh Mi.

We had a long walk home so we checked out a couple of other trucks. Lickety Splits was super cute and the kids were loving it.

and then we saw a wine bar.....but we were walking.

As we were leaving we saw the latest entry into the truck cuisine...Road Dogs. They really didn't have a truck and not really a sign so I didn't take a picture but as we were heading out behind their set-up I did notice something interesting.

They had live music too. It was a great afternoon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Being the Aunt to one niece who is attending Stanford with plans to become an Oncologist and another niece at UCSB getting her Masters degree and who is really into healthy eating, exercising, and eats a vegan diet, I can't help but listen to them talk about nutritious food. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) comes up quite often. Quinoa is the most nutritious of all the grains. Two important minerals found in quinoa are manganese and copper, these two work together as an antioxidant and help fight free radicals, which can cause the body to develop cancer and disease.

Enter...the BLUEBERRY...one of the highest antioxidant fruits......and the PECAN...a rich source of energy and an excellent source of antioxidants.

So, it was not by oxidant :) that I tried this recipe.

This is delicious, easy and quick to make, and so healthy. Give it a try, I think you will be amazed at how great this "super food" porridge tastes.

                                   QUINOA PORRIDGE WITH BLUEBERRIES AND PECANS

1 Cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 dashes cinnamon
2 TBSP. maple syrup
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 TBSP. pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Bring the quinoa, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 15-20 minutes.

Mix in the blueberries, remove from heat and top with the pecans. 

*optional.....add some whipped cream like Ron did!

Makes two servings.

Friday, May 27, 2011


The Farmers Market is overflowing with peas and beans.  These delicious French green beans are at their peak right now.

Try this recipe only if you promise not to over cook the beans. They need to be bright and slightly crunchy.

You steam them for 8-10 minutes and then plunge them into ice water to stop them from cooking and help to retain the bright color. I have found that as soon as they start to have an aroma of beans,  pull them off the stove and into the water. Test one first, but they should have a crunch.

Only three more weeks left of Spring so make this ASAP!! This is a great salad.

                                  GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH TOASTED PECANS

6 Servings

1/3 cup pecan halves
1 1/2 pounds thin green beans (French)
2 TBSP. extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBSP. cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3 ounces thinly sliced dry-cured ham, such as prosciutto, or serrano, cut into 1 inch ribbons

Pre-heat oven to 350~. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, or until fragrant and browned. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice water. Place the beans in a steamer basket and steam until tender but still bright green, about 10 minutes. Plunge the beans into the ice water. Drain and pat dry.

In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil with the vinegar, season with salt and pepper and toss in the beans, parsley and ham.

Sprinkle pecans on top and serve.

Recipe from http://www.chocolateandzucchini.com/


Monday, May 23, 2011


 Steak bites, potato skins, calamari and sliders. Those are some of my favorite bar food snacks. We were planning on going out for a drink and appetizer last week but we had a steak in the fridge that needed to be consumed so I thought....how about steak bites at home?

The trick to making these really tasty, is to, of course....cook them in butter. It wouldn't be bar food if they were healthy, right?

Start with about 1 pound of meat. I used New York but Sirloin, Rib Eye or Fillet would be good too. Cut away any fat or gristle.

Cut the meat into 1 inch squares. Salt and pepper the meat.

 TURN ON THE VENT!!! This is going to get smoky.

Heat a skillet until it is really hot (I like to use cast iron for this). Put 2 TBSP. of butter into the pan and let it sizzle and get brown. Don't burn the butter but let it get really brown. Put the meat cubes in the hot butter and don't move them for 1 minute. Now flip them over for 30 seconds more. Remove from pan and pour any dripping that may be left in the pan on top.

Serve with any kind of sauce you like for dipping. I put some chipotle pepper sauce in some mayonnaise and mixed it together. The other sauce was just a steak sauce from the bottle. You can also use your favorite barbecue sauce.

These are really good.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I dedicate this to my vegan niece Brittany.  Love you!  xxoo   

Make sure you have the sound on!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Claudia and Erik sent me this picture of a fantastic paella they made. I can attest to that statement. She brought me a sample.

No recipe but they told me they used mussels, squid, prawns, yellow tail and scallops. How great does that sound?

Chorizo, peas and bell peppers....woo hoo!

Thanks for sending the picture and the awesome taste!

Friday, May 20, 2011


I've said it before and I'll say it again. Scottish salmon is unbelievably fantastic. It's the Kobe beef of the salmon family. It is marbled with fat (the good kind) and if not over cooked it will melt in your mouth.

Ron brought home a pound of really fresh Scottish Salmon from the fish market at the harbor. I love that place!

 I lightly coated both sides with olive oil and some salt and pepper. Sliced some lemons on top of the salmon and a sprinkle of fresh dill.

Baked it at 375~ for 15-20 minutes. It's that quick and that easy. When it had been in the oven for about 15 minutes I peeked into the thickest part. It was flaky and tender but looked like it need a few minutes longer in the oven. STOP! Pull it out of the oven now! It will cook those last few minutes outside the oven and it will be perfect.

I served it with some fresh fava beans and a salad.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Fava beans are my favorite vegetable. I'm not sure if it's because they are a fleeting seasonal treat, only available a few months each spring or because shucking them takes so much time that it is almost a Zen-like experience. Maybe it's because they are high in fiber and iron and low in sodium and fat. It could be the buttery texture and lovely nutty taste. I actually think it's all of the above.

If you have never had favas give them a try. Allow plenty of time, in fact gather some friends and have a fava shucking party or do it yourself and you will understand the Zen factor. Preparing the favas to cook is very time consuming but well worth the effort.

This is how they look fresh.

You peel these open and pull out the beans inside. Here is a peek inside.

When you have shelled all the beans and have a pile of green gold......

You go to the next step, put them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. This softens the outer waxy coating so you can easily slip it off.

When the skins start to look a little white quickly put them in ice water to stop the cooking process and keep the vibrant green color. Just put them in there for a few minutes, then drain and dry.

Now you gently open one end of the skin and you can peel or pop the bean out. They will look like this.

At this point you can eat them as is or warm them in some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and serve.

As I mentioned earlier, this really is worth the effort.

As I was taking pictures for this post I noticed something very odd.........the color of the water after I blanched these very GREEN beans.

I was bright red! If anyone knows how this happened please comment below.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I once had a friend who was a wine collector. I loved the way he would prepare his meals. Instead of finding a wine to go with the meal, he would bring out a very special bottle of wine and then begin planning a meal to compliment the wine. I thought that was so cool.

Lately, I have been planning my meals and then heading out to the market to buy the ingredients. So traditional.....so boring.

Last week I had an opportunity to go to the Saturday morning Farmers Market. The BIG one! So, I decided to go with a clean slate. No plans for my meal. Let the market guide me.

On the first row I spotted these and I knew where I was going.

Chinese long green beans. They looked beautiful. It's been a while since I have cooked them and I love the texture and taste of these beans. Very different from green beans. Next to the longbeans were some Japanese eggplants, and my menu came together. Szechuan Spicy Eggplant with Szechuan Green Beans and some white rice.

The eggplant recipe had ground pork in it. I was hoping to recreate one of our favorite entrees from a Thai restaurant in town. I can't post this recipe yet. I need to tweak it. It was good but too salty. I know what to do so I think I'll try it again in a few week. The beans were delish. You can substitute green beans or runner beans, but why? It's well worth seeking out the long beans.

                                                    SZECHUAN GREEN BEANS

1 pound Chinese longbeans (also called yard long beans)
1 TBSP. garlic, chopped
1 TBSP. ginger, chopped
2 scallions, sliced (white part only)
1/2 tsp. Sriracha (or 1/2 tsp. chili paste)
1 TBSP. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
Pepper to taste
2 TBSP. peanut or vegetable oil for stir frying

Wash the longbeans, drain thoroughly, and trim the tops and bottoms. Cut the longbeans on the diagonal into 2" long pieces.

Chop the garlic, ginger, and white part of the scallions.

Heat 1 TBSP. oil in pan or wok, over medium heat. Add the longbeans and stir-fry until the start to shrivel or "pucker" and turn brown (5-7 minutes). Remove the beans and drain on paper towels.

Heat 1 TBSP. oil in the pan or wok over high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the chili paste and stir-fry for a few more seconds until aromatic. Add the beans and the remaining ingredients. Mix together and serve.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


My niece Brittany is such an inspiration to me. She is vegan and has such a healthy diet. Mostly vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. We are training to walk 60 miles in three days to raise money for breast cancer research. Last night we had a good walk and then we made dinner together.

I found this great sounding recipe so we gave it a shot. We loved it. It's easy to make and very heart healthy. I made a quesadilla for Ron in case he wasn't satisfied with our vegan meal. He loved having the quesadilla but said that the quinoa had such a rich, nutty taste that he would have been happy with a totally vegan meal.

This Mexican style quinoa dish is so versatile. It would be great in tacos or burritos. Spice it up as much as you want.

One thing about the vegan lifestyle.....wine is OK! So we started with a glass of Sangria. We toasted to a healthy life style.

Brittany brought a delicious sangria mix from Williams Sonoma. One of the best mixes I have ever had. We added a nice Kunin red wine and some lime and orange slices.

                                                 QUINOA, CORN AND BLACK BEANS

1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 TBSP. lime juice (extra for the final taste test)
1 cup frozen corn (I used Trader Joe's frozen grilled corn)
2 (15oz) cans of black beans, drained and rinsed (Whole foods 365 brand does not have salt added)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 can chopped chilies or 1 fresh jalapeno, chopped
1 ripe avocado, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the quinoa in a strainer.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion starts to soften.

Add the quinoa and vegetable broth to the pan. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. If using fresh jalapenos add them now. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in lime juice, frozen corn and canned chilies if using them. Simmer for 5 minutes or until corn is warm.

Add black beans and cilantro. Serve hot or cold, garnished with chopped avocado. Serve with salsa if desired.


Thanks B for keeping me healthy. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011


When time is short and you want something tasty give these a try. Keep a package of Trader Joe's jalapeno or habanero sausages in the fridge. Check the sell by date, you can usually keep these for a month or more. Give them a quick grill to heat them and spread some goat cheese on top.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Ron and I spotted some wonderful golden beets at the Farmer's Market. He made this beautiful salad last night. First he cut off the greens. Don't throw them away! We always use the greens. They are really good. Just wash them and then tear the leafs off of the ribs. Saute in olive oil and garlic until wilted.  Add some salt and pepper and serve. Buy the beets with the freshest looking greens you can find. Not only will they be delish but it assures you that the beets are fresh.

Then he lightly scrubbed the beets, roasted the beets in foil at 375~ for about 1 hour, until tender. Be careful not to cut into the beet before roasting or it will bleed all over.  Let them cool a little and then peel the skins off (use a paper towel to do this, it keeps your hands from staining) and slice them. We served them on a bed of spicy arugula with some goat cheese, grape tomatoes, and chopped candied walnuts from Trader Joe's.

We dressed it with a 25 year old balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil. It would be good with any kind of vinaigrette. I really like it with Pascucci's dressing.

I could eat this salad on a weekly basis.

It is perfect served with a grilled steak.

Thanks Ron!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I made this gazpacho for Mother's Day. It's the perfect Spring/Summer treat. Tomatoes are just starting to show up at the Farmers market and this soup really showcases what Summer is all about.

I  garnished it with chopped Spanish olives and chopped capers and served it in martini glasses.

Ron took a few pictures of the preparation.


4 red, ripe tomatoes, peeled & seeded -- (4 to 5)
1 cup soft French bread crumbs
1/2 medium onion -- chopped
2 celery ribs -- chopped
1 red bell pepper -- chopped
1/2 English cucumber, peeled & seeded*
1 clove garlic -- chopped
2 T. extra virgin Spanish olive oil -- (2 to 4)
sea salt -- to taste
freshly ground black pepper -- to taste
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
Chopped Spanish olives & capers -- garnish

Put all ingredients in the blender except the olives and capers. Blend for at least 30 seconds or until well processed. If it seems too thick, add a little cold water to thin it or put 2 - 3 ice cubes in. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Serve in a martini or margarita glass with chopped olives and capers or in chilled soup bowls (clear glass bowls show off the color).

Serves 6

*NOTE: English cucumbers are usually wrapped in plastic. They have a milder flavor that regular ones.

Monday, May 9, 2011


My guest contributors today are Dennis and Toni. Dennis has been telling me about how they cook cauliflower. It sounded so good but when he sent me these pictures I went Wow! This really  looks great.

First they fry the cauliflower in butter.

They fry it until it is tender and brown.

Dust with white pepper.  Top with cheese of choice and broil until cheese melts.

Thanks Dennis and Toni!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Happy Mother's Day to all! 

We had a wonderful lunch at Lynn's house.

Here is the beautiful table that Lynn and Brittany set.

For a starter we had Andalusian gazpacho and  bread studded with roasted garlic. The main course was salmon. On the side we had asparagus with arugula sauce, and Caesar salad. Lynn made the salmon and it was to die for. Brittany made the Caesar salad and put a vegan dressing on it from Lazy Acres. It was a great salad and the dressing was delish. I made the gazpacho (I'll post the recipe next) it was really yummy and then I made the asparagus with arugula sauce. That recipe it already posted under vegetables.

For dessert Lynn and Brittany dipped Strawberries in chocolate. OMG, they were awesome.

Here is Ron's plate.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


This is my favorite tofu salad. I can't get enough of this salad. It is so easy to make and the tofu seems to just drink the dressing, so that  every bite is an explosion of flavors.

                                                                 SPICY TOFU SALAD

1 pound firm tofu, drained
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced into thin match sticks
2 TBSP. chopped peanuts


1-2 small Thai chilies, finely chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
1 TBSP. brown sugar
1 TBSP. fish sauce
1 stem lemon grass, thinly sliced

Combine chilies, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, and lemon grass in a jar. Shake well. Set aside.

Cut tofu into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes. Cut onion into thin slices. Cut carrot into thin strips.

Combine tofu, onion, carrot and dressing in bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours.

Serve salad sprinkled with chopped peanuts.

Serves 6

Friday, May 6, 2011


Oh my, this is not just your average burger. This is Ron's, pretty cool, but then check mine out.

When Ron suggested burgers for dinner I thought, well, ok, but let's kick it up a notch. I asked him to bring home some sort of bun that would be out of the ordinary. Woo Hoo......he scored a 10.

Jalapeno-cheese bagels. Right out of the oven. Fresh, soft on the inside and chewy on the outside. Spicy and cheesy.

I don't usually have mine with a bun so this was my over the top burger.

You can see the gooey blue cheese oozing out from the center of the burger. I topped it with avocado and arugula pesto. It was so good. And just in case there wasn't enough blue cheese in my burger I had a wedge topped with Blue Cheese Dressing.

 It was pretty decadent but then....I didn't have a bun :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011


 Cinco de Mayo...any excuse for a party! This was all last minute but it hit the spot. Guacamole and chips.

 Margarita made with margarita mix, melon liqueur, and of course TEQUILA!!!!!!!

I think the party has just begun.


Larb may not be the most photogenic meal but what it lacks in color contrast it makes up for in taste. Larb is one of our favorite meals. You find it on the menu in Thai restaurants. Sometimes it is spelled Laap, Larp, or Laab. It is from North East Thailand. We call it Larbalicious. It is so good that it has been named the National dish  of Laos. Now, that being said, my version is much better than any I have had in a Thai restaurant.

You have to use Thai Basil in this. Some recipes say you can use Italian Basil as a substitute. Wrong, wrong, wrong. There is no substitute.

 Thai Basil is finally in season. When I spotted it at the Indo China Market I knew what I was making for dinner. My Larbilicious Larb.

 I found these cashews at Trader Joe's and thought they would be nice for a snack before dinner. They are spicy and really yummy. 

Then I gathered the fresh herbs. Thai Basil, Cilantro, and Fresh mint.

In a few months I'll have all of these growing in my garden. These hot summer days scream for spicy, tangy, Asian salads. You will see more Asian recipes as summer comes rolling in.

Once you gather all the ingredients for this dish the cooking is really quite easy. Poach ground chicken or pork in chicken broth, add shallots and Asian ingredients and then add toasted rice. The toasted rice binds it all together.






 To make toasted rice, just brown rice in dry frying pan and then put it in a spice grinder or food processor until it is almost a powder.

There are many brands of Fish Sauce. This is the brand that I like the best.

Just fill the lettuce leaf with the Larb, wrap it up and enjoy. I served this with a Tofu Salad.