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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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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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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Holiday (or Anytime) Hangover Cure

Obviously, the main reason I love the Holidays is all the wine, signature drinks and food I get to make and consume unabashedly. The general merriment is no doubt most people’s favorite part of the holidays – a dreaded part  are the intense hangovers and belly bloat.  Well, after years of searching and trying all kinds of “cures” from Advil and water at night to Bloody Marys and a raw egg in the morning, I have found a natural cure that helps me be productive the next day (instead of doing it all over again, ahem, mimosas.) So, I thought I’d share it with you my quick fix so you can pick up these supplies along with your turkey and celery.

Supplies:

  • Hangover Formula from Source Naturals which you can find at Whole Foods in the supplements section (although not a week before Burning Man in any store in the Bay Area) or online.
  • A box of Emergen C Super Orange (any flavor will do but I like this one the best) also at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s and in many drugstores
  • Distilled Water

For best results, take two of the Hangover Formula pills at night after drinking before you go to bed with one 8 oz + glass of Distilled Water. This nutures your little cells and the distilled water decreases bloating plus you won’t get that blood sugar drop that has you up at 4am. Understandable you may forget, because, well…you’ve been drinking. That’s okay just jump to step two. In the morning,  take a full glass of Distilled Water mixed with one (or two) Emergen-Cs and one or two Hangover pills.  Ahh…what a difference it will make! 

Warm Brussels, Bacon & Egg Salad

Many an awe inspiring dish comes together perfectly at a restaurant because of seasonality – “Brussels sprouts! What am I going to do with all these dang sprouts!?” Well, Bungalow 44 in downtown Mill Valley created a drool worthy warm fall salad with them. I attempted to recreate it adding heaps of Brussels sprouts leaves, boiled egg, bacon, shallots and a perfect toss of mustard and balsamic sauteed up. It is fantastically meaty but somehow maintains a sense of being healthy and nutrient rich. Like many restaurant dishes, sometimes this salad can be heavy on the grease so my version cuts the grease and salt a bit and the result is a more robust Brussels flavor. This dish can also be made without the bacon for vegetarians, and you still get to enjoy the Brussels in a savory, deep balsamic mustard sauce. It becomes crave worthy by any Brussels fan. The bacon version has recently made it on the table at a dinner party I hosted and one where I was a guest (evidence after the jump.)

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White Bean + Green Apple Soup

Fall soup, anytime soup, hearty soup, lunch soup, soup, soup! That is what I was craving this week. After a summer without it and a September without, we finally had some rainy days (rain is generally welcomed in California because we can be prone to drought) that warranted a nice pot of awesome soup. I like to multi-task my soups knowing they will be served for a dinner main course and multiple lunches or snacks. This soup was an experiment that went wonderfully well, the pièce de résistance ended up being small chunks of green apple thrown in after the soup was essentially done. It was almost like a garnish but I stirred them in and let them sit stewing in the hot soup, flame off, for a few minutes before serving.

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Kale Bombshell Salad + Gluten Free Croutons

My Kale Bombshell is really a kale salad tossed in an authentic Caesar dressing…”My” is used loosely because although I would like to say I’ve modified it significantly to make it my own, I haven’t really. This is a recipe that caught my eye as I was scrolling cable TV one rainy afternoon stuck in a hotel in North Carolina. It’s seems like Rachel Ray is always on when I visit the Eastern side of the U.S. Although I don’t dislike Rachel, I wouldn’t have stopped at her show but, randomly, one of my lady vamp obsessions, Christina Hendricks (from Mad Men and for some of you geeks, Firefly) was being interviewed. Not only that, but she then began to talk about her love of cooking, hosting dinner parties and mixology, then…she began to cook! What?! YES!

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