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Monday, December 30, 2013

Blackeyed Peas = Happy New Year!

Traditions are an important part of holiday meals, and one Southern mainstay may be worth including in your own celebration.  On New Year's day (or thereabouts) it's the eating of the beans, more specifically blackeyed peas, that is a must-eat if you would like good fortune to shower you with coinage.

For an appetizer you could try a blackeyed pea salsa, and/or for a side dish you might want to go classic with Hoppin' John.  I went to my got-to-try-this-recipe-someday file and found a "burger" recipe, staring blackeyed peas, from the Chubby Vegetarian.  It almost looks to easy to be good, but don't let that fool you like it almost fooled me.  It's better than good.

Now I love my store-bought veggie burgers a lot, but I really enjoy (successfully) making recipes from scratch too.  You can see from the photo, these babies look like the real deal.  Note that whether you use Melissa's Steamed, Shelled, Ready-to-Eat BEP's like I did, or Melissa's Blackeyed Peas in a tub, or dried blackeyed peas, or canned blackeyed peas, the key is to mash them until they're the consistency of refried beans.  When combined with the oats this will result in the right texture for binding and cooking.

One recipe makes 4 quarter pounders, or you can divvy it up for more portion controlled patties, or even smaller for sliders.  Whichever way you go, select a suitably delicious bun and your favorite condiments - I went with a little Dijon, bbq sauce, mixed greens, red onion, Roma tomato, and Vegenaise (it makes everything even more delicious).  This way to a good burger, and good fortune:

Good Fortune Blackeyed Pea Burgers (a la
1 pkg. Melissa's Ready-to-Eat BEPs or 1 1/2 cups cooked BEPs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (the 3-5 minute kind)
2 Tbsp. shallots, minced
3/4 cup portobello mushrooms, cooked and diced (optional)
1 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. beet juice
2 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil for the pan
garnishes of your choice

In a medium sized bowl mash the peas until they're the consistency of refried beans.  Add in the dry oats and combine.  Add the shallots, mushrooms (optional), vegetable oil, beet juice, lite soy sauce, and liquid smoke, and stir together until you get a firm consistency.  Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.

With damp hands form the mixture into the size patties you desire.  Set them aside for at least 15 minutes prior to cooking.

Add a tablespoon of oil to a saute pan on medium-high heat.  When the oil begins to sizzle, add a "burger" to the pan and cook 3-4 minutes per side.  Repeat.  Then garnish like a fool and enjoy!

Get your New Year's party started with this amazing flashmob performance by The Black Eyed Peas:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spumoni Shortbread Cookies

FBLA 2013 Cookie Exchange Recipes

Non-Cookie Items

If Santa has a list that he checks twice to see if you've been a naughty or nice food blogger then he probably won't be stopping at my casa this year.  The nice bloggers actually post on a regular basis, while the naughty bloggers wait until the local food blogger group (FBLA) that is nice enough to let them be a member has an amazing annual cookie exchange (check) with related recipe round-up that everyone participates in (un-check).

So I'll try and remedy this by providing my recipe, and I use the term loosely, for the really cool looking and tasty Spumoni Shortbread cookies that I brought to the party:

1.  Make shortbread cookie dough or cheat like me and buy a package of Betty Crocker shortbread cookie mix.  Just add butter, or Earth Balance sticks like I did to make the cookies vegan.

2.  Divide the dough in 3 parts and flavor/color each one like so:
     A.  Maraschino cherries, juice, and red coloring (add almond extract if you have it - I didn't).
     B.  Pistachio nuts, green coloring, and the aforementioned almond extract.
     C.  Unprocessed cocoa powder and espresso syrup (or the like).

3.  Place one part at a time on a sheet of parchment paper and form into a narrow rectangle about 1/2" thick. Stack the other 2 parts on top.  Wrap and refrigerate several hours - over night is easiest.

4.  Unwrap dough, cut into 1/4" slices, place on a parchment lined baking sheet an inch or so apart, and bake according to package directions.

5.  Remove from oven, let cool on racks, and then spread melted dark chocolate (Valrohna that your friend Judy gave you if you're lucky, or another good quality chocolate) on the chocolate section and let the chocolate set about 30 minutes.

These cookies are nice to look at and nice to eat.  Santa, should I leave a few out for you?

Real, delicious recipes from the nice FBLA bloggers:

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I Just Love A Good Mystery

Who doesn't?  Although this month's Mystery Book Club selection, Patricia Cornwell's "The Front" was panned by everyone but me.  So for a recommendation of a book that everyone gave the thumbs up to, pick up a copy of "The Analyst" by John Katzenbach.  It's a psychological thriller reeking with suspense.   Other recent reads of mine include "The Last Suppers" by Diane Mott Davidson (a culinary/cozy genre mystery with recipes), and "The Private Patient" by P.D. James, who never disappoints (still reading this one).  What have you read lately?

Joy to the World

There's a new 99 Cents Only Store in El Segundo.  The grand opening was last week and 9 lucky campers (they qeued up outside the store for 3 days) went home with brand new 39" flat screen tv's for only 9 dollars.  While I didn't attempt to win one, I
was still super excited to shop at this brand spankin' new outlet of one of my favorite retailers.  Can I just say 1 pound containers of Earthbound Farms herb/spring mix for 99 cents!

What are your favorite retailers?

Snack at Create Karma Planning Meeting

Dog lovers, get yourselves to Culver City this weekend for Create Karma 2013.  It's the annual fundraiser for Karma Rescue to help raise much needed money to save dogs from the pound.  It's going to be amazing - Southern California's best vegetarian and vegan eats, cocktails/mocktails, drag queen bingo, and plenty of shopping opportunities from the silent auction and BowWOWser boutique.  Come for the Dogs - Sit/Stay for the food!

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month

I'm a couple of days late for World Vegetarian Day but that's not a problem because Vegetarian Awareness is being celebrated all month long.  And in my world, every day is vegetarian awareness day, and everyday is "Meatless Monday".  So in honor of all of that, here's a recipe that is easy, healthy, delicious, and even has an international flair.  The recipe features Belgian Style Leeks and Sweet Red Kapia Peppers from Melissa's, and two kinds of French mustard provided by Maille.

Tofu Provencale'
Tofu Provencale'

3 Tbsp. grapeseed or olive oil
1 package fresh tofu, extra firm, patted dry and sliced into 1/4" thick squares
1 1/2 Melissa's Belgian Style Leeks, carefully cleaned and sliced into rings
3 Melissa's Sweet Red Kapia Peppers. sliced into rings
Dutch yellow potatoes, sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 Tbsp. Maille Dijon Originale
2 Tbsp. Maille Honey Dijon 
juice of 2 large lemons
2 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon
2 Tbsp. capers (optional)

Spread the oil over the bottom of a baking pan.
Place the leeks and peppers in the pan.  Top with the potatoes, tomatoes, and tofu.
Whisk together the lemon juice, mustards, and 2 tablespoons of white wine, until completely blended, then pour the mixture over the other ingredients.  
Generously season with salt and pepper, then top with the tarragon and capers. 
Place the pan in the oven at 325 degrees and bake for 20 minutes.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup of wine, stir the mixture, and continue baking another 15-20 minutes until the potatoes and leeks are tender.  Remove from the oven and serve.  More white wine anyone?

Monday, September 23, 2013

GIFTS/GARDENS/GARDEIN - I Live in a 3G World and It's Enough for Me


To create is to cause to come into being something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes; to evolve from a person's own thought or imagination, as a work of art, an invention, etc.;  to cause to happen, bring about, arrange, as by intention or design; to do something creative or constructive.

Handmade Thank You Card

Being creative to me also means being productive, and even a little bit of productive artistic expression can wipe away some pesky cobwebs and offer a positive break from negativity.  Here's a little card I made to say thanks to Cousin Lee for the beautiful brooch necklace she sent for my recent b-day.  

What's Better Than Lunch 
in a Garden?

That would be lunch at Gardein, their Los Angeles Test Kitchen that is.  Since Gardein products are so delicious no need to mention the V word.  For anyone looking to eat healthier options of some of your favorite foods, or to celebrate Meatless Monday, or to make sure everyone (your V friends and family) gets something tasty and filling to eat, go immediately to your favorite supermarket, find Gardein in the freezer section, take the packages home, and surprise yourself with the deliciousness.  Thanks Gardein for the invite and great food!

                   Charity + Creativity = WIN, WIN

This past weekend I had the pleasure of creating the food for a special  "thank you" event attended by a group of Karma Rescue donors.  Held in the garden of a lovely home in Rustic Canyon, the opportunity to serve great vegetarian and vegan food, and having it really well received, added more good karma into the universe.  Here are pictures of some of the food, along with the blackboard menus (plywood, primer, blackboard paint, dog biscuits):


Two favorite vegan recipes are my Two-Nut Salad and my Lentil and Mushroom Pate', and I'm pleased to say that people were pretty amazed that there was no fish in the salad and no meat in the pate'.  The pate was served garnished with diced red onion and pickles, with multi-grain baguette slices.  It is also delicious as a sandwich spread, on pumpernickel or rye bread spread with Dijon mustard.  Here's the recipe:

Lentil and Mushroom Pate'

Lentil and Mushroom Pate'
1 pkg. Melissa's Steamed Lentils
2 shallots, diced
1 pkg. Melissa's Dried Porcini Mushrooms, rehydrated
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance
vegetable or grapeseed oil for sauteing
diced red onion and dill pickle for garnish

Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in hot water to cover for about 15 minutes.  

Saute the shallots in a pan for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat.  

Reserving the mushroom liquid, add the rehydrated mushrooms to the shallots and stir to combine.  Continue cooking 2 minutes.

Place the lentils into a food processor, then add the sauteed shallots and mushrooms.
Add the Earth Balance and pulse until smooth.  Add a bit of mushroom liquid if necessary to reach the right consistence.  Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer mixture to a serving bowl, or mound on a platter, garnish with diced red onion and pickles, and surround with baguette slices and/or crackers. 

I hope you found some inspiration in what I've been up to lately.  Let me know, ok? 

Monday, September 16, 2013

This and That

Up until now my posts have been primarily food oriented, in spite of the "Adventures" in the title. This will now change, because although I believe my recipes are good, there's so much more to share.  From today going forward I will offer a few interesting places, people, events, and food (of course) from the last week or so, and hopefully you'll get some ideas to inspire your own comings and goings.


Terranea Resort - Palos Verdes, CA

Situated on bluffs above the Pacific 
Ocean in Palos Verdes, CA, this 5-diamond resort is a bit of heaven on earth.  

Compliments of Terranea

Catalina's Kitchen at Terranea Resort
Last week my mother and I enjoyed a most delightful birthday lunch on the patio of Catalina's Kitchen, one of the resorts many dining options.  The view, garden, setting, service, food, and weather were perfect, and a visit to Terranea is highly recommended.  

Gifts from the Garden

My friend Wendy is never too far from a garden or her kitchen, whipping up homemade breads, jams, and ice creams, often using fresh picked herbs and fruits.  As a b-day gift she cleverly took something from the kitchen and something from the garden to create this beautiful, unique planter.

And while we're in the garden, here's one of the small mosaic planters I recently made.  Broken tiles/china, glass beads, paint, and a terracotta pot -

Goodness Grapeness

When life hands you lots of sweet, juicy, seasonal Muscato Grapes (from Melissa's), you can whip up a tart or pie, or Parfait du Jour,  or my new favorite morning, noon, and bedtime snack - frozen grapes. 

Like little orbs of grape sorbet, a cupful will last a while and give you lots of grape goodness to enjoy. To freeze grapes, put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and place grapes on the sheet in a single layer.  Place in the freezer until the grapes are solid and then transfer the grapes to a freezer bag.  What's really cool is that each color (green, red, black) freezes differently, and each has it's own flavor and sweetness.

Another Contest I Didn't Win But Enjoyed Anyway

When my friend Valentina of Cooking on the Weekends
had her recent Share the Love Cooking Giveaway, one of her recipes that I prepared was the Meyer Lemon, Black Quinoa, Plum and Avocado Salad.  I swapped out the black quinoa with wheatberries, but otherwise it was as-is, incredibly delicious, and a big hit with my arts & crafts gal pals.

Until next time.....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hatch Chiles X 2

 Hatch Chile and Nectarine Quesadillas

I used to be a chile pepper chicken, meaning that I thought my delicate palate couldn't handle the heat.  Now I know that chiles are a bit about their heat but a lot more about different nuances of flavor, and that each chile variety offers its own of both.  So rather than getting out of the kitchen because I can't stand the heat, I now keep my mind and mouth open to using chiles more often.

If you like chiles with a range of heat levels, and you like to eat seasonally, have I got a chile for you.
Available in mild, medium, hot, and someone call the fire department extra hot, Hatch is a newer variety,grown in Hatch, New Mexico, just west of the Rio Grande River.  This small village of about 2,000 swells to thousands more for the Hatch Chile Festival held every Labor Day weekend.

Fresh Hatch Chiles

Similar to the Anaheim, but with thicker skin that makes them perfect for roasting, the Hatch chile has a season is only about 6 weeks long.  Hatch aficionados know that you must acquire as many Hatch chiles as you can, pre-roasted or roast them at home, then pack them into your freezer and hopefully they'll last throughout the fall, winter, spring, until August rolls around again.

While a trip to New Mexico would probably be a lot of fun, you don't have to travel all the way to Hatch to enjoy the 400 year old tradition of roasting and eating Hatch chiles.  Thanks to Melissa's, there are roastings at supermarkets throughout the U.S. -
Roasting in Westchester, CA 

Hatch Chiles Roasting on Stove Top

For our recent FBLA food blogger potluck, which had a "grilling" theme, I made Hatch Chile and Nectarine Quesadillas.  The Hatch chiles were roasted ahead of time on my stove top, then seeded and diced.  I brought them to the event with the remaining ingredients and then we grilled the quesadillas outdoors over coals.

Hatch Chile and Nectarine Quesadillas

Hatch Chile and Nectarine Quesadillas
6 multi-grain or whole wheat/corn flour tortillas
3 Hatch chiles, roasted, seeded, diced
3 large nectarines, thinly sliced (leave skin on)
1 cup queso fresco or mild feta, crumbled *
1 cup queso Oaxaca, torn into strips, or any melting cheese you like *
3/4 cup diced green onions
3 Tbsp. mango chutney or apricot preserves
grapeseed oil for brushing outside of tortillas
(*I used only shredded soy cheddar & jack cheeses and everyone gave thumbs up)

Place 3 of the tortillas on your prep surface.  Spread a tablespoon full of chutney or preserves over the top of each.  Sprinkle some of the cheese over the tortillas, then add the roasted chile strips and sliced nectarines. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese, then the green onion, and then top each with another tortilla.  Brush the outside of the tortilla with grapeseed oil before placing on a hot grill.  Cook about 8 minutes per side or until cheese is melted and tortilla is slightly crisp.  Remove from the grill and when cool enough to handle cut into wedges and serve with your favorite salsa.

Roasted Hatch Chile Zucchini Bread from Cooking on the Weekends

Left-Shredded Zucchini
Right-Roasted Hatch Chiles
For my "Hatch Chiles X2" I selected something from my friend Valentina's blog Cooking on the Weekends as part of her first annual Share The Love Cooking Giveaway.  Valentina has taken a classic summer staple and given it a spicy spin - Roasted Hatch Chile Zucchini Bread.  I made it almost exactly as written except I had to substitute golden brown sugar for the white because that's what I had on hand. Delicious - thanks Valentina!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Watermelon Month (July is National)

Nothing says summer like cold, juicy watermelon, especially during the month of July - National Watermelon Month.  Lucky for me I had a beautiful, heavy for it's weight specimen sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be carved down to a couple of cold, juicy recipes for the celebration.  (Whew, I do hate missing any of the fresh produce holidays, don't you?)

Did you know watermelon is native to North Africa?  So am I!  Well, via my mother who was born/raised in Morocco and was whisked away to Chicago by a handsome American sailor, aka my father.

Another interesting fact is that watermelon is the lycopene (anti-oxidant) leader of the fresh produce world, with lots of vitamin A, B6, C, plus bonus potassium.  Since watermelon is 92% water and we can't survive without water, and we're supposed to drink lots of water, why not get some of that water in you with the sweet flavor only watermelon can bring?

Here's a tidbit that brings us to today's recipes:  The very 1st cookbook published in the U.S., in 1796 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.  Since I've always wanted to try making these, partly because I hate to waste anything, I found out the way to make modern, quick, refrigerator pickled watermelon rinds and I'm happy to share the recipe below.  

Not to forget that cold, juicy watermelon flesh, one of my favorite summer refreshers is to put chunks of fresh melon, some grated ginger, and a few fresh mint leaves in a blender and pulse to liquefy.  Pour this into a pretty glass about 3/4 full, then add some sparkling water and a fresh mint garnish.  A votre sante!      

Pickled Watermelon Rind
watermelon rind, peeled and cut into cubes
(6 cups total)
4 cups water
3 Tbsp. sea salt
splash of rose water (optional)

1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2 star anise
2 one-inch pieces of cinnamon stick

(Leave a bit of the flesh when peeling the watermelon rind)         

Place the peeled and cubed rind in a bowl and add the 4 cups of water. Pour in a splash of rose water plus the salt and stir.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Drain and rinse well.

In a stockpot combine the rinsed rind with the sugar, vinegar, water, star anise and cinnamon and bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove from the heat and cool completely.  Pour into jar(s), seal, and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving.  I'm planning on serving these with little chunks of fresh, white cheese and olives this weekend.

What will you do with your pickled watermelon rinds?

More great watermelon info here:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fresh Figsicles

Fresh figs are one of summer's most fabulous fruit gifts, and when they come to you as a gift from the California Fig Advisory Board, they're even more fabulous.

Calimyrna's from DeBenedetto Orchards on the right

Now is the time for the plump, beautifully light chartreuse colored Calimyrna variety. Try ever so hard to refrain from eating every last one of them immediately out of hand.  With just 3 of these sweet, succulent fruits you can create this cool, refreshing, easy recipe that will make you scream for ice cream - Figsicles, that is.

FIGSICLES (makes 4)
1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup natural sugar (think I'll try honey next time)
6 oz. Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. orange blossom water
3 calimyrna figs

Before you get started on the main recipe, take 1 fig, cut it into little chunks, place on a tray with parchment paper, and freeze (about 1 hour).

Put the milk and sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and whisk in the yogurt, orange blossom water, and the insides of the 2 remaining figs.  Put this mixture in the fridge for about an hour to chill.

Take your sicle molds (mine has 4) and drop a chunk of frozen fig in the bottom of each.  Pour in some of the creamy mixture.  Drop in more chunks.  Pour in more mixture.  Seal the molds and freeze completely.

For the inspiration recipe, way better pictures, and way cooler looking figsicles visit

For more info on fresh figs visit

Friday, July 12, 2013

Celebration Crepes

From Memorial Day through the Fourth of July and up to Labor Day, summer in America has everything colored in red, white and blue.  Smack dab in the middle of our own patriotic partying is Bastille Day, a national holiday in France and celebrated by Francophiles all over the world.  Taking place this year on Sunday, July 14, Bastille Day commemorates the storming of Bastille prison and the end of the monarchy in 1789, and La Fete Nationale has been a red, white, and blue party once a year ever since.

For Bastille Day or any tricolor celebration, here's a recipe that combines
crepes (Melissa's) and creme fraiche from France, fresh fruit from California,
and American homegrown strawberry and blueberry pie fillings from
Lucky Leaf for a creamy, fruity, tasty, and fancy holiday dessert.  Bon Appetite!

1 package Melissa's crepes
1- 8 oz. container of whipped cream cheese
1- 7.5 oz. container of creme fraiche
1-2 Tbsp. honey (to taste)
1 orange for zest and garnish
1 can Lucky Leaf premium blueberry pie filling
1 can Lucky Leaf premium strawberry pie filling
fresh strawberries and blueberries for garnish
confectioner's sugar for garnish

For the filling, combine the whipped cream cheese, creme fraiche, honey, and 1 tablespoon of orange zest in a bowl and whip to combine.  Taste and add more honey and orange zest to taste.

Assembly line style, lay out the crepes and divide the filling down the center of each one.  Take a little of the blueberry filling and spread down one side, and take some of the strawberry filling and spread it down the other side.

Roll up each crepe, and then get as fancy or as simple as you like.  I took a clean, food only paint brush and used the pie filling to paint red and blue lines on the top.  Then I sprinkled the white confectioner's sugar over the crepes and garnished each one with a slice of orange, a strawberry, and a couple of blueberries.  Oooo, la la!!

(For more recipes from Lucky Leaf join the twitter conversation at #luckyleafluckyme)


Friday, March 15, 2013

All Mixed Up Greens

The folks at Organic Girl asked me if they could send over some of their products and I said "yes, please".  They are sponsoring a show on Lifetime TV called "All Mixed Up" and I think it's great that kale, spinach, and other healthy greens are getting the spotlight.

So I did my own version of all-mixed-up by taking some of OG's kale, spinach, and arugula and mixing them all up in a blender with olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese,and walnuts to make a gorgeous green pesto, bright in color and fresh flavor.  There are so many uses for this tasty dip/sauce/spread - toss with hot pasta or your favorite cooked grains; just say no to mayo and spread on sandwiches for fantastic flavor and color; pesto pizza anyone?

My first recipe is to take homemade or store bought ravioli (mine are homemade with Melissa's Won Ton Wrappers), quick fry them in oil - 2 minutes or so in each side, then serve them on a platter with the 3 Greens Pesto as a fun starter.  (Recipe below.)

The second recipe I created using the 3 Greens Pesto is a pizza using frozen bread dough.  Thaw the dough, spread out with your fingers until flattened, let sit 10 minutes, brush with olive oil, bake at 375 degrees about 12 minutes, and remove from the oven.  Now for the delicious part - spread the dough with the 3 Greens Pesto, place sliced fresh mozzarella over the pesto, sprinkle rehydrated slivers of sun dried tomatoes over the top, garnish with fresh basil and smoked sea salt.  Bake about 15 minutes.

Maybe you can include 3 Greens Pesto in your St. Patrick's Day celebration?

3 Greens Pesto
2 cups kale
2 cups spinach
2 cups arugula
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cups walnuts
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Process all the ingredients in a blender.  Add additional oil and/or water if necessary to reach a creamy consistency.