Wednesday, June 22, 2011


This is a great summer salad. You serve it at room temperature so it works well for a pot luck. You can grill the veggies on the barbecue or in the oven. The barbecue would definitely give it a more robust flavor. This time I roasted them in the oven.

After roasting or grilling the veggies, you add it to cooked orzo, add the dressing  and let it cool. Then add the scallions, pine nuts, feta and fresh basil.

I planned on serving this salad as our main course...and only course...but Ron had a different idea, and he said it was great.

Orzo Salad with Roasted Vegetables 

1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound orzo or rice-shaped pasta

For the dressing:

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:

4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts), toasted
3/4 pound good feta, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled)
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.
Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

Recipe from Ina Garten

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It was Father's day and Dad wanted lamb shanks. I had planned to serve fish. In fact I planned the menu weeks ago and even shopped for most of the ingredients.

I was watching T.V. and there were some father's talking about what THEY wanted for their father's day dinner. It dawned on me that I should ask Dad what he wanted. It was Friday evening, two days before father's day. I was sure I knew what he would say to me. "Honey, anything you cook will be wonderful". Nope, wrong, he asked for lamb shanks. LAMB SHANKS?!?!  It's hard to find lamb shanks on a Friday night. Finally after calling four stores I found some. They were huge, but fun to make.

First I browned them in olive oil.

Then I added the veggies, cooked them, and deglazed the pan with red wine. Poured everything on top of the shanks, adding whole tomatoes, stock, carrots, and some fresh herbs.

Put it in the oven for about 3 hours. I served it with roasted broccoli and a caprese salad. They were really good.

Thanks Dad for the great idea!


4 meaty lamb shanks
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup dry red wine
½ pound dried Great Northern Beans, soaked overnight
1 can whole plum tomatoes (28oz.) with juice
2 cups rich chicken stock
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
8 oz. Baby carrots or 4 medium carrots, chopped

Sprinkle lamb shanks liberally with salt and pepper, and brown carefully on all sides in a little bit of olive oil (this usually takes about 10 minutes or so). Remove the shanks temporarily and drain the fat, then add to the  pan 1 chopped onion, 5 cloves of chopped garlic, three stalks of chopped celery and sauté just until tender. Deglaze with 1 cup of dry red wine.  Now in the covered pan you will be using, place ½ pound dried Great Northern Beans (either soaked overnight or quick soaked), top with the shanks, pour over sautéed veggies and wine, add 1 can whole plum tomatoes and their juices and 2 cups rich chicken stock along with 2 bay leaves, 3 generous springs of fresh rosemary and 8 oz. or so of peeled baby carrots or 4 regular carrots, chopped.  Taste the liquid and adjust for salt and pepper.  Cover and bake at 350~ for 2 hours or more, until the beans are very tender.  To serve, place one shank on each plate and surround with the beans and some of their liquid.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Serves 4

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times Cook Book and Sharon made it as part of our cooking from chapters of this book.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The raspberries at the Farmer's Market were beautiful this week. I brought a basket home and then started thinking about what to do with them. A nice salad came to mind so I tried out this recipe using rotisserie chicken from the store, toasted almonds, goat cheese, mixed greens, raspberries and a apricot preserve vinaigrette. The combination of flavors were really good and this came together in a flash. A perfect, light, summer salad.


Mixed salad greens
Cooked chicken breast (I used a cooked rotisserie chicken from Gelsons)
Toasted sliced almonds
Goat Cheese

Mix together and dress with Apricot Vinaigrette

                                                              APRICOT VINAIGRETTE

Combine 1 TBSP. apricot preserves, 1-1/2 TBSP. red wine vinegar, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Whisk in 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive.

Recipe from Cooking Light


Sunday, June 12, 2011


Grilled Tri-Tip. I can hear your what?....ho hum... no big deal...well, who would have thought of giving it a bath in Sriracha Sauce?  Ron of course.

I walked into the kitchen and our tri-tip had a red coating on it. I was expecting a dry rub. It looked like ketchup. Oh no! I asked him what the heck that was on our tri-tip. When he told me that he coated it with sriracha sauce and some garlic salt, I went into my happy dance. Brilliant!

If anyone out there does not know what sriracha is, let me educate you. It looks like this.

It's made right here in California. I read a story about a man named David Tran. He came to the U.S. from Vietnam in the 80's. He couldn't find a chili sauce that he liked, so he decided to make his own. He then started selling it out of the back of his van in Los Angeles. As his following grew, he moved into a processing facility in Rosemead, a Los Angeles suburb. He now sells more than 10 million bottles of it a year.

If you like spicy you will love this sauce. You can put it in almost anything, from eggs, to sauces, and even (gasp!) Bloody Mary's.

This was one great Tri-Tip.

Thanks Ron!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Somewhere out in cyber land I read that it was National Grape Week. I'm not sure if it is true or not, but I'll run with it.

I'll use grapes as an inspiration for the pork tenderloin chillin' in the fridge.

Roasted grapes are like savory candy. Pair them with Pork and a Balsamic glaze and you will have a wonderful dinner.


4 (7oz.) pieces of pork tenderloin
2 TBSP. extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)
4 cups red seedless grapes, stems removed
4 TBSP. unsalted butter, cold, divided
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP. honey

Pre-heat oven to 500~. Brush tenderloins with some of the extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof saute pan, heat remaining olive oil and sear pork on all sides until browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Return pan to high heat and add 1 TBSP. butter. When hot add the grapes. Toss to coat and brown slightly. Return pork to pan with the grapes and roast in oven approximately 10 minutes (for medium).

Remove pork and grapes from pan and lightly cover with foil to keep warm. Leave juices in pan.

Return pan to burner on high and add chicken stock, vinegar and honey. Cook over high heat until reduced to approximately 1 cup. Cut remaining 3 TBSP. into several pieces and whisk into sauce one at a time to thicken. Adjust seasoning. Add grapes to sauce.

To serve, slice pork into medallions and arrange on plates. Spoon grapes and glaze on top.

Recipe adapted from Chef Marny Conforti.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


There are a lot of versions of Greek Country Salads (also known as Horiatiki Salata) but the main ingredients you will always find are lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onions, olives and feta. You can play around with the other ingredients. Substitute dill with oregano. Black olives for Kalamata olives. White vinegar for red.

I served this with the Greek-Style Halibut (recipe under seafood). There is dill and feta in the halibut dish and I was wondering if it might be over kill but it worked out well. We loved the two together.

                                                    GREEK COUNTRY SALAD

2 cups torn romaine leaves
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, cut into wedges
1/2 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
12 pitted black olives, sliced
1 TBSP. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. capers, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh dill
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

In medium salad bowl, combine lettuce, onion, tomato, cucumber, green pepper and olives.

In a small bowl, combine oil, capers, vinegar, lemon juice and dill, mixing well. Toss with salad ingredients and top with feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


This is a great way to prepare fish. The combination of mint, dill, feta and lemon are the perfect topping for a firm, yet moist piece of Alaskan Halibut.

The prep and cook time is under 30 minutes so it's one of those throw together dinners when you are short on time.

You make the herb and cheese mixture then spread it on the fish and top with some  lemon slices.

Broil in the oven for 15 minutes and serve.

I served it with a Greek Country salad and garlic bread.

                                                                    GREEK-STYLE HALIBUT

Serves 4

4 (6oz) pieces of Alaskan Halibut or Mahimahi
3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup crumbled feta
3 TBSP. chopped mint
2 TBSP. chopped dill
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
8 very thin lemon slices

Preheat broiler.

Line a broiler or sheet pan with foil or parchment paper and lightly oil it. Put fish (skin side down if it has skin on it) on pan and season it with salt and pepper.

In small bowl combine mayonnaise, feta, herbs, and lemon juice. Spread over top of fish. Put 2 lemon slices (slightly overlapping) on center of each fillet. Drizzle lemon slices with 2 tsp. olive oil.

Broil fish 8" from heat until just cooked through, 12-16 minutes. If the topping starts to brown, cover loosely with foil.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet.

Monday, June 6, 2011


My niece Brittany and I are training for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk for the cure. We will walk 60 miles in 3 days, raising money for breast cancer research. After we walk, we cook a meal together. She is vegan, I am not, but that doesn't stop me from finding interesting and healthy recipes for us to try together.

I came across a recipe for Vegan Meatballs. It had great reviews so we gave it a try. These were really good. I can't wait to make them again. They freeze well too.

First you make the meatless balls

Then you bake them in the oven for 30 minutes. We served them over whole wheat spaghetti with a pasta sauce.

There were two skeptical carnivores eating with us so we made a meat sauce and served them a plate of 1/2 and 1/2.

The skeptivores :) liked the meatless balls too.

                                                           VEGAN MEATBALLS

1/2 cup cooked Lentils (I bought them already cooked from Trader Joe's)
1 cup cooked Brown Rice (I bought the cooked, frozen, from Trader Joe's)
1/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP. Wheat Germ
2 TBSP. Soy Sauce
2 TBSP. Olive Oil
2 tsp. Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo, finely minced
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Onion Powder
2 tsp. Molasses
2 tsp. Dry Mustard

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Pre-heat oven to 300~. Measure out 2 TBSP. of mixture for each meatball and roll into a ball with your hands. Spray a cooking sheet with a non-stick cooking oil. Place meatballs on tray and cook in oven for 15 minutes. Roll them over and cook 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and let stand for about 10 minutes so they will firm up.

Serve over pasta with a pasta sauce.

Makes about 12-15 meatless balls.

Recipe slightly adapted from

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Tarragon is one of my favorite herbs. I was so excited a few weeks ago when my tarragon plant started growing in leaps and bounds. I thought it was an annual and I was about ready to replace it when it started growing runners. I googled it and it is a perennial. Woo hoo! I guess it just needed some TLC.

I had some organic chicken breasts from Trader Joe's. I'm a convert. I don't like Foster Farms any more. I don't like those frozen breasts from Costco that I always have in my freezer. I only like the organic from Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Lazy Acres and the Farmers Markets. What a difference in taste.

My friend Dennis told me one day that chicken doesn't taste like chicken anymore. I looked at him with disbelief. Isn't chicken, chicken? The only difference I thought was the cook. Cook it right or cook it wrong.

Fast forward a few weeks later, I was at Whole Foods. They had a tasting of Mary's Free Range, organic chicken. Wow! I had my first taste of REAL chicken. It makes a big difference. No more big breasts pumped with who knows what. I've gone organic.
                                 PAN-SEARED CHICKEN WITH TARRAGON BUTTER SAUCE

Serves 4

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (1 large)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 pounds boneless, skinless (organic) chicken breasts, pounded very thin
3/4 tsp. salt
3/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 TBSP. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
1 TBSP. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp. lemon juice

Cook shallot in 1 TBSP. butter in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add wine and boil until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle all over with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Saute chicken in batches , turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, about 2 minutes each. Transfer to a platter and keep warm, loosely covered with foil.

Return shallot mixture to moderately low heat and add remaining 3 TBSP. butter, one cube at a time, whisking until incorporated. Remove from heat and whisk in tarragon, parsley, lemon juice, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I have two favorite recipes for cleaning out the fridge. Quiche, tacos, and burritos. Okay, so there are three, but a taco is a burrito only in different clothing.

These tacos were great. I had leftover lentils, brown rice, grilled corn, and chipotle peppers  from my vegan night with Brittany.

Rita sent home some leftover tri-tip from her birthday party and in the take home bag were some chili beans that Teena made.

Mixed it together and heated it up.

One of our new lime trees is producing the most amazing limes I have ever had.

Claudia gave me an avocado and we had some cheese that was pleading to be used.

My cilantro bolted after a few weeks so I only had a few leaves (perfect) oh... the tomatoes were bursting at the seams so I used them too.

I had some corn tortillas from Trader Joe's.  Warmed them over the gas grill flame. Filled them with the leftover greatness and served. Oh yum...

That's it...empty fridge and happy hubby.

Try Trader Joe's yellow corn tortillas. They are awesome.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


It wouldn't be Memorial Day weekend without I Madonnari at the Mission. I think this year was the best year ever.

All the art work is done with chalk. This year the artists had to fight the hot sun and the roaring wind. I don't know how they did it.

If you have never been I highly recommend it. The crowds are fierce. We like to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds. It started on Saturday and ended on Monday. We went over early (6:00 AM) on Wednesday and it still looked great. It is supposed to rain on Saturday so hurry over and check it out. Amazing!

In case you can't make it, we took some photos today.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


A day to remember those who sacrificed their lives for our country and those who made it out alive. All heroes.

Ron and I are lucky to have his father, my father, and my step father, our heroes, and all very much alive. We spent some time in the morning remembering what this holiday is really about. We thank them.

Later in the day we decided to play scrabble and BBQ some ribs.

Ron made a cocktail with melon liqueur, fresh mint, rum and some soda water. It was delightful and a perfect way to start the scrabble competition.

I love it when the stars line up.

Give thanks to those who keep us safe.