Spicy Pork with quinoa, mushrooms and kale

I am not lying when I say that this is the quickest meal that I’ve cooked, from scratch of course.  Yes, I am going on the record to say that heating something in the microwave does NOT qualify for cooking.  Shocking I know!  Regardless of expediency, this is also one of the tastiest meals I’ve thrown together, especially in 20 minutes.

So this is how this thing goes down:

  1. Stop at Target Express on the way home from almost debilitating workout at GFit (thanks Jules).  Ignore people looking at you walking funny. It was the workout people!!
  2. Grab mild italian sausage (not in the case), pre-cut baby portabello mushrooms, pre-cooked garlic quinoa (I did say this was a quick meal), and red onion.
  3. Get home before you start to stink and really gross people out.  Shower immediately.
  4. Put a pan on high heat with a tablespoon or two of coconut oil and brown the sausage.
  5. While the sausage browns, dice the onion.  After the sausage has nice brown color, toss in the red onion and mushrooms and stir often.
  6. Go to fridge. Get jar of sambal matah procured from Trader Joe’s a while back that’s been hanging out in the fridge waiting for a use.  What’s sambal matah you ask?  An Indonesian “salsa” that is amazing mix of peppers, lemongrass, garlic, and shallots. All the work is done for you already for a great flavoring!  Toss a tablespoon or two…or three in according to your taste.  Stir and let those delicious flavors soak into the pork and mushrooms.
  7. Add pre-cooked organic garlic quinoa.  This is shelf-stable pre-cooked quinoa.  It’s got a fair amount of sodium in it SO DON’T ADD ANYMORE SALT!  Between the heat of the sambal matah and the salt in both that and the quinoa, you are good to go.   A total cheat, but I did say this was a quick meal.
  8. And a handful to two of tuscan kale from the garden on top and stir to warm through.
  9. Eat a bowl full.  And then walk away from the kitchen to write the post to ensure you don’t eat the entire thing.
    A one dish delicious dish!

    A one dish delicious dish!

    Let's hope I can stick to one bowl of this goodness.  My mouth is tingling with delicious flavor sensations!

    Let’s hope I can stick to one bowl of this goodness. My mouth is tingling with delicious flavor sensations!

I’m definitely keeping this one in the repertoire.  It’s a great combination of something that could be Italian and something that could be Indonesian.  It was quick, full of healthy flavor, has great colors, and best of all I don’t feel guilty for eating it…if I can resist eating the rest of it before I get the leftovers in the

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Comfort food congee

Ok this gets written before I pass out completely from jet lag. I just got back from a trip to Amsterdam and Copenhagen with my sister and brother in law…and the jet lag is hitting HARD! But I had to extend the vacation goodness feeling and recreate this dish I had in Copenhagen.

We were in Copenhagen and went for lunch to Torvehallerne, an epic set of food halls, for the second day in a row. First day was smørrebrød, which usually consists of a piece of buttered rye bread, a dense, dark brown bread and various toppings. SO GOOD!

 But on day two, I wanted to try Grød, the elevated Danish porridge place I heard so much about.  My choice of porridge is congee, a rice porridge. ABSOLUTE comfort food for me!

 As I waited for my congee, I started a conversation with a woman, who was local to Copenhagen. We had a great exchange about what we did and why were visiting. Such a cool random thing to happen! She was so very nice as well.

As we were walking away, I noticed that Grød had their cookbook up and open to the recipe of the dish I had just had: congee with chicken, spring onions, coriander, peanuts, soy, and sesame oil. Snap goes the camera, and the recipe came home with me. We didn’t get far walking though; there was a cute pastry place on the next corner. Guilty as charged!

 After a long first day back at work, comfort food was calling me. I’ve made congee before but really liked this recipe. And I had some small batch soy sauce from my friend Julie Darling. Thanks Julie!!  In no time I was enjoying the taste of the congee I had in Denmark. Mmmm …. Now it’s time for bed. Zzzz

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Slow cooker chicken chili

Full disclosure: this will be a short post and mostly me raving about how great this recipe from Smitten Kitchen is.  In addition, if I didn’t take advantage of a short post,  I ran the risk of losing momentum and not keeping up the New Year habit of posting.  So quick post here I come…

Woke up at 0550.  I do not like waking up at this time for work. AT. ALL.  10 minutes later after I figured out what day it was, why my eyes were open, and where I was, I got out of bed and remembered I promised myself I would throw this dish in crock pot before leaving for work.  0605 – hot water and apple cider vinegar beverage in hand –  better get moving.

Truly this recipe is easy as it says.  Throw everything in the crock pot and run.  Well, in my case, shower for work and get going.  Why is it when the Today show comes on and I’m not out the door that means I’m late for work?!  It’s just. TOO. EARLY.

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Truth be told, there is some dicing required.  Had I realized or fully thought it through, I would’ve diced the onion and garlic the night before.  Oh well…who doesn’t like a onion induced tear filled morning at 0620?!?!  FYI – my eyes do NOT react well to onions.  I think it’s because they are light colored and more susceptible for some reason and I’m supposed to chew gum or put a chopstick in my mouth or stand on one foot or something to reduce the pain, but it was was too early and never really works anyway.

Toasty whole grain baked tortilla chips, baked with coconut oil!

Toasty whole grain baked tortilla chips, baked with coconut oil!

So onion and tears aside, all the ingredients went in.  I decided to add a few tablespoons of tumeric, because that stuff is good for you and it’s a new year right?!  I also had frozen pork bone broth in the freezer that I used for the liquid, a perfect use for this.  In all the ingredients when, 0630  – I have to shower because now I will be late.  Crazy talk…0630 and I’m late.  Isn’t the rest of the civilized world still in the fetal position asleep at that time?!  Yeah, I thought so. Wah wah.

The minimal results were all worth it.  The recipe calls for this to be cooked for 8-10 hours.  I got home after a work out at 1845, so it was a little more than 10 hours…but all was well and my house hadn’t burned down.  It just smelled delicous and all chili-like!   After cutting up some whole grain tortillas, spraying them with coconut oil spray and baking them for 10 minutes, and serving the delicious chili on a bed of arugula (it was too dark to go out to the garden and forage for tuscan kale even though I know it’s out there somewhere), it was dinner time. And all that minimal effort…totally worth it.  Thanks again Smitten Kitchen!!

Dinner is served! Add greens, onions, sour cream, or other toping of your choice

Dinner is served! Add greens, onions, sour cream, or other toping of your choice

Recipe taken from Smitten Kitchen – http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2016/01/chicken-chili/


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Bonkers bread & butter panettone pudding tart

Jamie Oliver couldn’t have have picked a better adjective for this recipe…it is so good that indeed it is BONKERS, just as Jamie describes.    I have had this recipe tumbling

Mise en place, ready to go! I wish I was always this organized when I cooked or baked.

Mise en place, ready to go! I wish I was always this organized when I cooked or baked.

around in my head for a while, waiting for the perfect moment to make it only for it not to happen.  First off, it requires a panettone –  a sweet bread loaf from Italy, usually only available around the Christmas and New Year.  Secondly, you don’t just make and eat this thing on a Tuesday night.  I mean, it’s a LOT of pudding for just a regular ol’ Tuesday night.  Just saying.

Crushing the demerara sugar up for the crust in the handy mortar and pestle.

Crushing the demerara sugar up for the crust in the handy mortar and pestle.

As the new year approached, a dear friend of mine invited me to join her and two other friends to cook a meal together on New Year’s Eve.  I’m not a huge fan of the whole “It’s New Year’s Eve so let’s go party and spend lots of money and deal with drunk people and crowd and get yelled at for using my fingers to get the snack mix even though there wasn’t anything else in the bowl to get them with (seriously it happened…ranks up there with the worst NYE party ever)” thang so I jumped at her invitation and the opportunity to have a quite evening close to my house with good people and great food.  No…strike that, GREAT people and food!   Added bonus: I was warned the festivities might not go until midnight. SCORE! I like an early NYE celebration.

Tart tin crusted! I will make sure next time to not get any under the edge and bottom piece to avoid leakage.

Tart tin crusted! I will make sure next time to not get any under the edge and bottom piece to avoid leakage.

My contribution to the evening was to be the dessert.  It didn’t take long for Jamie’s BONKERS Bread and Butter Pudding tart to come to the forefront of my thoughts.  That was the dessert it was going to be.  Delicious, decadent, impressive, unique….and did I say delicious??  Or so I assumed it would be.  As I stated before, I’ve never had the chace to make it.  Either way, it would give me the chance to say “BONKERS Bread and Butter Pudding Tart” a lot like Jamie, even if I did it poorly.

Cutting the crust of the panettone

Cutting the crust of the panettone


The crust pressed into the tart tin

Melting the milk, cream, and butter for the custard base. Mmmm...dairy!!

Melting the milk, cream, and butter for the custard base. Mmmm…dairy!!

Let me digress a little about Jamie Oliver.  I thoroughly enjoy Jamie Oliver.  I enjoy his recipes, his style, his quirky way of talking (Have you ever heard him say, “Preheat the oven to full whack”?), his quest to bring healthier eating to schools in America, and his shows where he grows and hunts and cooks everything in and on his most awesome estate.

Whisking the eggs (backyard of course) with the sugar for two minutes. Should have thought about using the mixer for this...

Whisking the eggs (backyard of course) with the sugar for two minutes. Should have thought about using the mixer for this…

Most of what I do in my kitchen, yard, and garden is because I am just trying to emulate Jamie.  Raised garden beds?  Jamie.  Chickens?  Jamie. Making pasta by hand?  Jamie.   Running stream with shady tree to cook a leg of something delicious by with an antique rotisserie machine over a wood fire?  …. Ok I don’t have that, but if I did it would be because I saw Jamie do that on tv and he looked really really really happy doing it.


Whisking the egg and sugar with the custard base. Make sure let the milk base cool and add it slowly so the eggs don’t scramble!

Adding a third of the custard mix to the "crust"

Adding a third of the custard mix to the “crust”

Back to the dessert – this recipe is bang on simple (ok, ok…I just tried to talk like Jamie again)!  My only suggestion is to ensure there is a tight seal between the bottom of the tart pan and the rim.  When I greased mine and then dusted the crushed sugar around, some of the sugar got under the bottom of the tart bottom.  When I poured the custard mix, some of it escaped through the panettone “crust” and ooozed out the bottom.  To fix this, I’d sugar dust the tart edge and the bottom separately, then wipe the horizontal bottom lip of the fluted tart edge to make sure the bottom insert sits securely on it to form a good seal.

The pudding was a hit and was a dessert that was easy to make and worth doing, should you ever find yourself in the possession of a panettone and you don’t want to eat it straight up.  So GO BONKERS AND HAVE A HAPPY 2016!

Everything assembled and ready to be put into the oven.

Everything assembled and ready to be put into the oven.

Done and yum!

Done and yum!

(Recipe from:  http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chocolate-recipes/bonkers-bread-butter-panettone-pudding-tart/#AmXZJQsieWAlF5CT.99)



  • 125 g unsalted butter , plus extra for greasing
  • 4 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 750 g plain panettone
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 300 ml whole milk
  • 5 large free-range eggs
  • 100 g golden caster sugar
  • 60 g quality dark chocolate (70%)
  • 60 g bitter orange marmalade

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Lightly grease a 28cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Bash 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar in a pestle and mortar until fine, then mix with the remaining demerara so you have a range of textures. Tip into the tart tin and shake around to coat. Tap gently, then tip any excess back into the mortar for later. Slice the edges off the panettone in strips and use them to line the base and sides of the tart tin, pressing down hard to compact and create a pastry-like shell.

Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds, then put both the seeds and pod into a pan on a medium heat along with the cream, milk and butter, and simmer for 5 minutes or until the butter has melted. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs and golden caster sugar for 2 minutes, or until smooth. Whisking constantly, add the hot cream mixture to the bowl until combined, then discard the vanilla pod.

Now it’s time to build this crazy comfort pudding. Pour one-third of the custard into the base of the tart and leave to soak in for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, tear up all the remaining panettone into rough chunks, soak them in the bowl of creamy custard for a minute or two (the more it sucks up, the better!), then layer up in the shell you’ve created, snapping up and adding little chunks of chocolate and dollops of marmalade between the layers – there’s no need to be neat about it, you want a range of heights, saturation and textures. Pour over any leftover custard, leaving it to soak in if necessary, then sprinkle with the remaining demerara sugar. Bake for around 25 minutes, or until set. Allow the pudding to rest for 10 minutes, then serve with cream, custard or ice cream, if you like – it’s delicious cold, too, if you’ve got any leftovers!

Read more at http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chocolate-recipes/bonkers-bread-butter-panettone-pudding-tart/#AmXZJQsieWAlF5CT.99


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Mad for Macarons!

If you haven’t noticed, I am a bit mad for macarons.  A bit obsessed one might say.  The delicate almond, egg white, and sugar cookies area  perfect nexus of my passion for cooking,

Tracing out circle guidelines on the parchment paper.  And yes, that is my Hello Kitty! mechanical pencil

Tracing out circle guidelines on the parchment paper. And yes, that is my Hello Kitty! mechanical pencil

making pretty looking things, and a engineering problem solving.   It really is a dangerous combination, but when the outcome is a macaron that looks picture perfect and tastes just as good, it’s all worth it.  Add to it that I’m usually making them for someone else, it makes it even more worth it.  And there’s no way I could eat an entire batch by myself!  Ok…well I could try but let’s be honest  – that would not end well.

First off – yes macarons are deceivingly hard to make for looking so simple with so few ingredients.  There are a LOT of factors: temperature of the oven, humidity, age of the egg whites, how much to fold in the powdered sugar and almond flour…  Let none of that stop you.  It’s all worth it.  Secondly – these are NOT macaroons.  Notice the subtle spelling difference one ‘o’ can make.  Add one and you are talking about coconut, condensed milk, egg white thing.  Take away that ‘0’

These 4 simple ingredients make up the macaron cookies - amazing!

These 4 simple ingredients make up the macaron cookies – amazing!

and you are transported to Paris, to the most beautiful Parisian bakery, picking out the most exquisitely colored and wonderfully flavored delicate pastery/cookie combination that I’m talking about.  Don’t get the two twisted. They are worlds apart.  Worlds, I tell you…

How do you get these little beauties to come out?  Use this recipe, watch LOTS of YouTube videos. And don’t give up. Never give up!  Keep trying, batch after failed batch, until magic happens and then every failed attempt will be worth it.  Doing it on a Sunday afternoon with a

Sifted powdered sugar and almond flour.  There are still some lumps to remove...otherwise the cookie will be bumpy. Sad face if that happens. :-(

Sifted powdered sugar and almond flour. There are still some lumps to remove…otherwise the cookie will be bumpy. Sad face if that happens. :-(

Sunday afternoon with a bottle of champagne on ice doesn’t hurt either. Just saying.

I searched for a recipe that had everything measured out by weights and finally found a good one.  Apparently it comes from Sur la Table.Thanks Sur! I also combined several techniques and steps from other recipes that I tried.  So does that make it my own recipe now?   In any case, back to the weights.  It is SO worth getting a little kitchen scale for this.  Oh, and all the other baking you’ll be doing after this.  After all, you’ve mastered the macaron – nothing can be as challenging, can it?!  Then you’ll need the kitchen scale for portion control to help on the diet you’ll need to go on after all the baked goods you’ve been making…and eating.

Serves: About 20 assembled macarons
  • For the macarons:
  • 3.2 oz egg whites, room temperature and preferably aged up to 3 days*
  • 2.8 oz granulated sugar
  • 5.6 oz confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3.2 oz almond meal, sifted
  • Gel food coloring of your choice
Beat those egg whites and add the sugar slowly!  (I add a touch of cream of tartar and use extra fine bakers sugar)

Beat those egg whites and add the sugar slowly! (I add a touch of cream of tartar and use extra fine bakers sugar)


  1. To make the macarons:
  2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites until they begin to foam, about 1 minute. Slowly add the granulated sugar to the egg whites while the mixer is set on medium speed. Continue to whip the egg whites until stiff peaks have formed. The egg whites should be thick and glossy (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down without the whites falling out).
  3. Put the almond meal and powdered sugar in a food processor with the blade attachment.  Pulse until thoroughly combined.  Sift and through out remaining coarse pieces.  Add the almond meal and confectioners’ sugar mix, sifting again and throwing out large pieces, and food coloring to the whipped egg whites. Using a spatula, fold the mixture into the egg whites until it
    Start folding in the sugar and almond flour.  This is the most crucial stage...look for a lava-like texture.

    Start folding in the sugar and almond flour. This is the most crucial stage…look for a lava-like texture.

    has the consistency of molten lava. To test, scoop up a spoonful of batter with a spatula and drop it back into the mix; it should flatten and disappear into the batter in about 15 seconds or so. If it doesn’t, continue folding the mixture. It should take about 50-60 strokes for the batter to reach the right consistency. (Sorry…totally forgot to take a picture at this step as I was getting a little anxious an frenetic to get the batter in the bag and piped out.)

  4. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with large round tip, and pipe small rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper with a template underneath. Top tip: put the bag in a large glass, vase, or something similar, and fold the edges down over the side.  Way less messy…  Another top tip: I trace 3/4″ circles on the parchment paper and then turn it upside down.  When piping, I put the tip right in the middle stop right before I fill the circle, pulling quickly up right after I release pressure.  The little peak should be small as possible and should disappear in the next step.

    Piped out and drying until a skin forms and doesn't stick when you touch with your finger.

    Piped out and drying until a skin forms and doesn’t stick when you touch with your finger.

  5. Gently tap the bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air, then let the macarons dry for 30 minutes until a skin is formed on the surface.
  6. Place the macarons in a 300F oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes until the shells harden. Rotate the tray half way through.
  7. Let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheets.
  8. Make your filling:  (could be caramel, chocolate ganache, lemon curd, raspberry jam, flavored buttercream….the possibilities are endless!!)
  9. To assemble, match the macaron shells in pairs. Pipe a small round of lemon curd (about half a teaspoon) on the flat side of a macaron shell and sandwich together with a matching macaron shell. Repeat with the remaining macarons.
* The assembled macarons can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.*Don’t age egg whites on the counter for three days, no matter what you read.  That’s totally dangerous!  Leave them in the fridge, covered and then bring them up to room temperature before using.

Cooling cookies!!

Cooling cookies!!


Lemon Curd filling!

Lemon Curd filling!

Eat your heard out Ladurée, you fancy and $$ Parisian bakery! Ok yours are good, but I don't live there...

Eat your heard out Ladurée, you fancy and $$ Parisian bakery! Ok yours are good, but I don’t live there…  Lemon meringue, chocolate ganache, and raspberry fillings, from bottom to top.


Look - you can even make them into a hat and wear them to serve at an Easter Bonnet Party!!!

Look – you can even make them into a hat and wear them to serve at an Easter Bonnet Party!!!

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Creamy Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto

I reached for the tri-color quinoa this afternoon and had no idea what was about to happen.  Truly I didn’t.  I thought I was going to make some quinoa, toss in some canned (line, sustainably, wild caught and all that of course) tuna but that is not what happened at all.  I was committed to using what is in my pantry, as I have a snowboarding trip coming up on Wednesday morning and I didn’t not want to do any grocery shopping unless I had to.   Nothing beats simple nutrition than tuna and quinoa tossed with some kind of a veggie (and maybe some sriracha) for a quick and nutritious lazy meal.  Well, at least for me, but there are endless variations on it to suit every taste, including adding peanut butter for a nutty version, mayo and grainy mustard for a pseudo-French take. It just makes itself practically!!

As I said, that did not happen at all this afternoon and I blame it all on the can of pumpkin that sat so innocently next to the tuna.  Both are pantry staples in my house, but that poor can of pumpkin had been neglected since the cold of fall, or cold weather of any type for that matter, passed us by.  Come to think of it, did we we even really even have any cold weather?!  I usually press it into service to liven up otherwise bland oatmeal, with Aarti Sequeira’s delicious pumpkin oatmeal recipe, but it is cold weather hearty fare, and we have not have much of that to speak of.  Well, there was New Year’s Eve and subsequent morning, but we shall not speak of that…  Anway, the problems of living in sunny San Diego, right?

So with the tri-color quinoa in one hand, my eyes paused on the canned pumpkin and I thought, “Is it possible?  Could I combine these two?  No….wait, yes!”  and an idea was born.  PUMPKIN QUINOA RISOTTO!!  Now to be clear, I am sure I am not the first one to think of this, but man…that moment of inspiration felt so exceptional I basked in it.  For about  a minute.  Until I realized my simple lunch wasn’t going to be so simple anymore and I panicked a little.  Could I do it? Did I want to make a mess?  I have taxes to do and I’m supposed to be cleaning things up for a trip on Wednesday.  Inspiration one out and the “to do” list was pushed aside.  And am I glad I brushed the momentary pause/fear/self-doubt off and started cooking.

A risotto is simple right?  Sauted onions or shallots in butter, toss in rice, wine, and slowly add warm chicken broth a cup or so at a time stirring until a creamy yet still loose consistency appears, through in some cheese and done!  Too bad I didn’t have any shallots or onions though.  I thought I was dead in my track, until I remember I had a garden full of green onions.  BIG GREEN GARDEN FRESH SCALLIONS!  This would do – onwards Kitchen Cooker!!

Cook until this consistency - the "risotto" should come back together like a quick lava.

Cook until this consistency – the “risotto” should come back together like a quick lava.

The ensuing recipe happened and all came together well, I hardly thought of taking pictures for the blog.  In the process though, I knew I wasn’t going to be satisfied with just the risotto.  I thought about putting some smoked canned sardines on top, but I thought…eeeyyyyyeee dunno…that’s pushing it.  Maybe if they were fresh, but canned ones have a certain strong quality, that while delicious would override what I was going on in the pumpkin quinoa risotto thing.  I do have lots of tuscan kale in my garden though and since I had the superfood thing going (pumpkin and quinoa are in on that right?!) I decided on tossing kale into the party as well.  Sautéed in olive oil, with some chicken broth, sherry vinegar, and smoked paprika of course.  I mean..duh.  I left the stalks in, to give that extra crunch texture the cream quinoa lacked, along with the smokiness from the paprika.  Just be sure to cook it a little longer if you include the stalks, otherwise they are tough and a little bitter.

Oh, and whilst I had a bottle of white wine open for the “risotto” I might as well pour a glass to enjoy with my lunch.  It sure beats uploading tax documents and folding laundry (my previous plan…gross). What. A. Lovely. Monday. Holiday.  Cheers!!!

Lunch is served - meatless, pantry friendly, and delicious!!

Lunch is served – meatless, pantry friendly, and delicious!!

Creamy Pumpkin Quinoa “Risotto”


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3-4 green onions (scallions) finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed well and drained
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine – ok, maybe a cup.  So sue me. Then drink some. 🙂
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and allow it to melt. When the foaming subsides, add the green onions. Cook, stirring often, for about 5-7 minutes. Once softened, add the quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, allowing any of the excess water to evaporate.
  2. When the quinoa drys out, add the white wine and stir well. Allow the wine to cook down and almost evaporate.
  3. Add 2 cups of the vegetable stock and lower heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir every so often.
  4. Add another cup of vegetable stock, stir a few times, and let cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Once that liquid has been absorbed, add the remaining 1 cup stock plus the pumpkin puree. Stir again and let cook, uncovered, until all of the liquid is absorbed. Add more stock if needed. The quinoa should be cooked through completely.
  6. Stir in the cheese in. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
  7. Top with diced kale that has been sauteed in olive oil, chicken stock, a splash of sherry vinegar, and a dash of smoked paprika. Drizzle with olive oil!



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Moules Frite are easier than you think!

Mussels – they seem scary.  They really do!  How do you know if they are good or bad?  How does one clean them?  What does a restaurant do to prepare them?  And do they even taste good?!  They fall into the “home cook unknown zone” that even otherwise seemingly cute old ladies will walk up to you while you are ordering all 7 pounds of them, DEMAND to know what they are, and then follow up with a prune face and proclamation that she would NEVER put anything like that in her mouth. Although, once when she was on a boat cruise in San Diego bay on a ship that some famous actor owned, a deck hand popped an oyster into her unwilling mouth and it was disgusting and she wouldn’t swallow it.  Seriously…I can’t make these stories up. I wanted to ask her to retell it so I could video tape her but she walked off mid-sentence.

Your moule frite await you.

Your moule frite await you.

I love LOVE ordering moules frites (mussels and fries) when I’m out.  I will admit it is because they seem exotic, but also because I wanted to eat enough so I could figure out how to duplicate this feast at home.    I’ve bought mussels for paella before, but never as the main course.  This would be a first, but it would be a dream come true.  I set off and did my research (thanks Internet!) and it seemed super easy.

A little P'tit Basque before dinner anyone?

A little P’tit Basque before dinner anyone?

Catalina Offshore Products has the BEST of the best in town so it was the logical choice to source the mussels from.  My friend and I BARELY made it there after at 13 mile hike that…ahem…took a little longer than I expected.  (13 miles take 4-5 hours…nah…)  7 pounds of black Mexican farmed mussels, almost all perfectly cleaned and debearded, and just a few that didn’t make it alive to cooking time.

The recipe?  Easy.  Chop up a whole bunch of shallots, saute them in a large pot with some olive oil.  When translucent, add a whole bunch of garlic and some chopped up spanish iberican ham left over from a previous party, and saute some more.  Add a bottle of dry white wine for 7 lbs of mussels.   While that is going, get a friend to wash the mussels off, make sure they are all alive (closed or when tapped, they close), and de-bearded.  Thanks Friend!  Soak them in some cold water for 20 min to get rid of any dirt or sand.   When the mussels are ready to cook, toss them in the boiling wine, close the lid and steam for no longer than 5 min. Stirring occasionally.  Pour the mussels and broth into large bowls, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve immediately with bread or french fries.  Just remember, don’t eat the ones that haven’t opened!

A mound of mussels, mejillones, moules...a lot of MMMmmmmm!!!!

A mound of mussels, mejillones, moules…a lot of MMMmmmmm!!!!

Now for those french fries – precut frozen ones work well.  Deep fry em or bake em…your preference!  If you fry them though, get that oil up to temperature early on so they fries are ready when the mussels are.  And crispy.  Just saying.

Now, tuck into that bowl of mussels, dunk your bread in the sauce, and sip on your beer or wine.  Enjoy!!


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I <3 Lorraine and her Prawn linguine with chorizo & cabernet tomato sauce!

Thank you Lorraine Pascale.  Thank you for your beautiful self and your beautiful tv program with your beautiful food porn, done with music that is actually enjoyable and modern.  Thank you, because you have renewed my desire to cook delicious food and blog about it.  It has been a long, long, long time since I have done such an activity.  And how I missed it.  Not that I have missed eating delicious food.  I will NEVER give that up!

Cooking up chorizo, fennel seeds, garlic, rosemary, and chili

Cooking up chorizo, fennel seeds, garlic, rosemary, and chili

I was going to cook this for the first time for some friends, but I just keep craving it so much I could not wait.    So rationalization ensuing – I had to “test” this recipe out to make sure it was perfection for my guests.   And if it wasn’t perfection this time, it was pretty darn close.  I couldn’t stop eating.  Well … eventually I did, but only because I wanted leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Mine...all mine!

Mine…all mine!

So enough with the talk.  On to the food porn!  Oh … and a recipe.  God bless you beautiful Lorraine Pascale.

Ok, I only had a bowl.  With maybe a few fork full after. Yum!

Ok, I only had a bowl. With maybe a few fork full after. Yum!

Recipe: Prawn linguine with chorizo & cabernet tomato sauce



Time from start to finish: 25 minutes


  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, slightly crushed
  • 150g (5oz) spicy chorizo ring
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chilli
  • olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 glass of cabernet sauvignon, about 150ml (5 fl oz) or other red wine or a good fish or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste (or tomato purée if you don’t like it too hot)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 300g (11oz) linguine pasta
  • 225g (8oz) sustainably caught peeled prawns (preferably raw but cooked will work too)
  • 2 tsp caster sugar (optional)
  • small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, to serve
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Put a large sauté pan on a medium heat (with no oil in for the moment). Bash up the fennel seeds using a pestle and mortar (or in a mug with the end of a rolling pin) until lightly crushed and tip them into the pan. Cook for a minute or two, tossing them from time to time, until they start to release their lovely smell.
  2. Meanwhile, slit the chorizo down the side, peel and discard the casing and cut the sausage into chunks. Pull your fingers down the length of the rosemary to release the leaves and then finely chop them. Peel and finely chop the garlic and deseed and finely chop the chilli. Add everything to the now sweet-smelling fennel with a little drizzle of oil and cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring.
  3. Next add the tomatoes, wine (or stock), harissa paste (or tomato purée) and oregano. Then whack up the heat and leave it to bubble away for about 15 minutes so the sauce can become nice and thick and full of flavour. Give it a stir every so often to prevent it sticking.
  4. As this cooks, put the kettle on to boil and then cook the linguine in a large pan according to the packet instructions.
  5. Add the prawns to the sauce for the last 4–5 minutes of cooking time. If using already cooked prawns, they will take a little less time as you are simply warming them through.
  6. Meanwhile, drain the cooked pasta well and return it to the pan, adding a good drizzle of oil and some salt and pepper, then pop the lid on to keep warm.
  7. The prawns should now be cooked in the sauce. They should be pink and white on the outside and white inside. Taste the sauce, adding some salt and pepper if you think it needs it and a little sugar if it tastes too sharp. If you add sugar, stir it in well and then leave to cook for another minute.
  8. Finally, tip the sauce into the pasta, stir well, then divide among four plates, scatter with the ripped-up parsley and serve.

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Cake makes everything better!

Nothing fixes whatever ails one like a nice slice of homemade cake with rich, creamy, and sweet frosting. In my case it was a pulled back muscle and a epically frustrating day at work. They are but distant memories after a generous slice of this cake. So I say Marie Antoinette had it right when she most infamously said, “Let them have cake!”

Yes … let us have cake and let it be Chocolate bourbon porter cake with brown sugar bourbon porter buttercream frosting. Sugar, cake, and booze all wrapped up in one. Let us have several slices of cake!!!

This recipe was taken from: http://thebeeroness.com/2011/12/08/chocolate-stout-cake-with-porter-ganache/ and modified.


For the Cake:
3 cup flour
1 tbs baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks (16 tbs) unsalted butter
2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup (2 3.5 oz bars) 72% dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cup Chocolate Stout
1 cup of brewed coffee, cooled

For The Filling (Buttercream):
1 cup beer
1 cup of brown sugar
24 tbs of butter softened
1 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar


Preheat the oven to 350.
Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and the cocoa powder in a bowl and whisk until well combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add the butter and sugar and beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg, scraping the bottom of the bowl between additions.
In a microwave safe bowl, add the 72% chocolate. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove and stir. Repeat until the chocolate is melted.
Add the melted chocolate to the sugar/egg mixture and blend well. While the mixer is on a medium-low setting, add the stout and then the coffee, continue to combine until well mixed, then add the flour mixture a little at a time until well combined.
Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Bake for between 25 and 35 minutes (for cupcakes about 18 minutes) or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Place the beer in a microwave safe bowl, heat on high until very hot, add the brown sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter (must be softened to room temperature or it will not work), salt and powdered sugar, beat until combined. Add the brown sugar mixture and mix slowly until mostly combined, then turn the mixer on high and then whip until the frosting is fluffy and well combined.
Place the first layer of your cake on a a cake plate. Top with your brown sugar butter cream. Add the second cake layer. Top with frosting and spread all over with a offset spatula.


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Roast Chicken Salad with Butternut Squash and Farro

I’m setting myself up right for healthy eating this week.  I already have a refrigerator full of delicious items from Chef Grifka at calitable.com for that extra helping hand at eating healthy.  Ok, I have a little bit less than a refrigerator full – the breakfast quinoa and spinach and garbanzo soup were DELISH!  Check her site out and order some food this week.  Or next!

Shaving the butternut squash

Shaving the butternut squash

I wanted to keep the healthy trend going. Chef Grifka has an all vegetarian menu I believe, with some items gluten free and vegan.  I’ve also been doing “No Booze January” this month, in addition to starting training for doing a part of El Camino de Santiago this May.  Today I did a 13.5 mile hike in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, followed by a surprise Power Yoga class.   Let’s not forget all the hard work I did at Boot Camp last month before the holiday onslaught.   It’s all healthy healthy healthy today, and that includes the chocolate Muscle Milk, blueberry, peanut butter smoothie I made when I got home from the hike and yoga.  Mmmmm….I could use one for dessert right now.  But that is not what this post is about!

Shredded rotisserie chicken

Shredded rotisserie chicken

This post is about a recipe I tore out of a Men’s Health Magazine of all places!!   The January issue had a section dedicated to eating raw foods to help jump start a healthy new year.  Their recipe for Roast Chicken Salad with Butternut squash and Farro looked pretty darn tasty, so I tore it out and vowed to make it.  Tonight was the night, with the healthy planets aligning and all.

The article asserted that peeled and thinly shaved veggies like butternut squash and turnips didn’t need to be cooked because they would be sweet and tender and perfect for a protein-rich winter salad.  It sounded like something right up my ally.  I love those veggies and haven’t ever had them raw.  The trick was just to shave them thin enough, which turned out to be easy enough to do with the peeler I have.

Getting the grapes and parsnips ready

Getting the grapes and parsnips ready

I can’t find a link to the article on-line so I will just reproduce the recipe for you below.   The only modifications I made were doubling the recipe to make sure I have leftovers going into the week.  I also used fresh squeezed OJ from Cara Cara oranges.  Man  – I love Cara Cara oranges!!





Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash and Farro

  • 1 cup farro
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgen olive oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups roughly torn rotisserie chicken (skin and bones removed)
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and shaved
  • 3 cups peeled and thinly shaved butternut squash
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 3 oz soft goat cheese crumbled

1) Place the farro in 3 cups of water (or chicken broth for more flavor) in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain and cool.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, OJ, cumin, ginger, salt, and pepper

3) Add the farro, torn chicken, parsnips, squash, grapes to the bowl; toss everything to coat with the dressing.  Top with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.

The finished salad!

The finished salad!

The article indicates that this could be served on a bed of baby kale for even more super nutrition.  I have some and might try it next serving, but it was super delicious as it was.  The shaved veggies were indeed sweet and tender, and worked great  with the sweet, spicy, dressing of OJ infused with ginger and smoky cumin.   I’m really happy with this recipe and even a bit surprised – no offense Men’s Health but you’ve had a LOT of misses when it comes to recipes.

You could even serve this with baby kale, but it's great just like this!

You could even serve this with baby kale, but it’s great just like this!

I’m going to enjoy this all week on and off.  The article says that with every bite I should be getting carotenoids, that will reduce cancer and heart disease, combined with protein from the chicken and fiber-rich parsnips and farro.  I’m just going to say I’m getting a fork full of a darn good dish!

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