My Grandma’s 90th Birthday!

I know I’ve been away for awhile, but a girl’s gotta do a little soul searching and focusing sometimes. Well, I’m back and just in time to bring you a few pictures from my grandma’s 90th birthday party! I am so proud of her, she is in such great shape and has an amazing quality of life, turning 90 was truly a celebration. We put on the RITZ! There were all her favorites: grilled steak, cucumber salad, corn on the cob… and I attempted her all time favorite, 5-Day Coconut Cake. It turned out so-so if we are being honest and as always we are! So, I’m going to attempt it again before I post the recipe. This must be a very old school classic because I was hardpressed to find a recipe for it, even online. The trick is that it sits in the fridge for 5-Days soaking up the coconutty frosting. It’s supposed to be moist and rich. Mine was a little dense and rich which I suspect came from the gluten-free quinoa flour. Next time I will make it with regular flour.ImageMy beautiful and inspirational grandma!

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Savory Mint Almond Pesto

I don’t know about you but I’m a sucker for pesto. On second thought, I DO know about you and I haven’t met a single soul that doesn’t love pesto. It’s just that awesome potent sauce that works on pasta or crostini as a dip for crusty bread or a spread on a sandwich. This recipe came out of necessity. I was blessed with an abundance of mint and after one too many mojitos and as many sprigs I could put on ice cream, I still had a whole bag filled with mint. I happened to also have about a cup of basil…not quite enough for basil pesto. So I stuck the basil, equal parts mint, almonds, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic, sea salt and olive oil blended it in the Cuisinart. The next think I knew toast was slathered, a bowl of fettuccine was sauced and there was a savory pot leftover for another one or two snacks and a meal. PESTO! Next time I’ll slap a bow on that jar and give as a hostess gift.

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Le Quinoa Coco

I gave this quinoa a fancy name  just for irony because it is actually not fancy at all, it is extremely simple. I’ve found that quinoa can go one of  two ways – either someone cooks it like rice and it ends up a bland, earthy side dish you never try again or you kinda overdo it, add a whole lot of fun stuff and then you end up missing the taste, texture and flavor of this magical gluten-free grain. I love this recipe because it’s in the middle. The quinoa gets to shine but you can use it as a simple side dish or an easy lunch that makes fantastic leftovers.

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Quick Coleslaw

Coleslaw. The thing that stumps many is the dressing. The one I’ll share is simple, with only four ingredients. If the dressing has eluded you in the past you will now be able to bask in the sheer beauty of coleslaw and it’s deliciousness, healthfulness, people pleasing staying power. How liberating to make a huge batch that will hold up well in the refrigerator for at least a few days. It’s a hearty dose of veggies to have for a snack, it’s perfect for working girl lunch, prepare the night before if you know you’ll be low on time the next day… and, this easy peasy dressing lends itself to incorporating “leftovers” in your slaw – that loose carrot, that half a cabbage, that apple going uneaten, that hunk of blue cheese, that ominous leek hanging around during the early spring season when they are so abundant!

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Veggie Faux Meatloaf

Meatloaf is an amazing thing. Known as a working class delight in incorporates a cacophony of leftovers into one tasty dish. The concoction I created for my vegetarian boyfriend, now husband, sought to accomplish this same goal. When I created this recipe it was a time when I was constantly working toward winning his love via his tummy. Turns out I didn’t have to try so hard. But, I came up with lots of great recipes along the way – some of my most inventive, creative, and crowd pleasing. The Veggie Faux Meatloaf is great to serve to the whole family and will soothe the longing soul of new vegetarians craving their mother’s meatloaf. Alas, I no longer partake because it is far from gluten-free but it’s comfort food at its finest to feed the family.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A day for family…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I know for most of you it’s a day for drinking. Well, not gonna lie, me too! Buuuuutttt, it’s also a great opportunity to make some authentic eats for the family. It’s not everyday that it even crosses my mind to make corn beef and cabbage. We had a great day with our slab of beef and a special vegetarian version of cabbage. We also shared some fun desserts. Here’s some pics from our family fun day!

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Hamachi Tartare

This happened by accident. I got the inspiration to make a tuna tartare from another blog I follow. I had never made it before. It was for a dinner party. The only problem, I had no idea where to get sushi grade fish. Luckily, my friend coming over said she did. Hurray! Except, when she gets to the store all they have is salmon and hamachi. I’m pretty picky about my raw fish. I’m not a huge fan of raw salmon, so I hoped that hamachi would work. Turns out, it was absolutely lovely. You know how tuna tartare turns into more of a dip, kinda sticky. Well, hamachi was drier more like a chunky salad or salsa. Paired with thick cut crinkly potato chips and it was a huge hit.

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Baby Shitakes Mama

I swear to Goddess that shitake mushrooms must be aphrodisiacs. I just crrraaaaveee the crispy, buttery, nutty, earthy goodness you can only get from some sauteed shrooms. This is definitely a recipe I riff on often with all different kinds of shrooms – crimini, trumpet, chanterelle…but my favorite is baby shitake, the large ones sliced work fine too, but there is something special about the hunt for perfect heirloom baby shitakes. They hold a more potent flavor and tenderness in addition to being slice free. These sexy little babies are sure to please a vegetarian husband or a carnivorous gluten-freer like me.

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Dinner Table Tagine Chicken

The first time I had Tagine Chicken was about 5 or 6 years ago. I went to a dinner party in my home town, a friend of mine who had been living and studying in France invited some of her closest friends over for apero and dinner with her French boyfriend. He cooked. Needless to say there was a lot of fabulous wine, cheese, and conversation but the show stopped was this rich, tender, fragrant tagine. I was floored. It seemed so gourmet, difficult to make, exotic…I asked how to make it and the chef simply said, “It’s so easy, you take, this blech burg beek ffree…” Okay, I couldn’t quite remember, I had had A LOT of wine by that time. I never forgot the smell and taste of this dish and often thought about hunting down a recipe and trying it myself. Fast forward years later and I had a bunch of chicken thighs on hand, a hankering for curry, and some calvestrano olives that weren’t getting any younger. I looked up a bunch of recipes and pieced together this one using things already in my cupboard. I call this recipe Dinner Table Tagine Chicken because it is easy, delicious, can serve the whole family and could be used at a dinner party. It’s the kind of recipe that tastes like it took more work and ingenuity than it did. That’s always fun, right?

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Dungeness Crab Chowder

Whoa my goodness! Such a yummy pot of goodness to be making on a cool night. I absolutely adore Dungeness Crab and when the season hits the San Francisco Bay, I get giddy with joy and often maw down on multiple whole crab over many days during the holidays. I went a little overboard (Tehe) this year because recent holidays have been spent on the East Coast. I bought, ate, and served so much crab that I actually had an assemblage of pieces left over from my last meal of crab. I was crabbed out, but I could let this succulent goodness go to waste! So, I plucked the morsels from their shells, rinsed them and gingerly packaged them in a freezer bag with hopes of a crab soup later on. Last night was the night! The result was a creamy yet light chowder with a base of coconut milk rather than cream and lots of good vegetables. 

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