Foodie turned blogger. How'd that happen?

Salad Ideas for Summer! Salad 6

This hot weather is just begging for a chilled salad!

Today was hot! Wait, who am I kidding? It’s been hot for weeks!

I absolutely am missing the Autumn and Winter weather… the cute sweaters …. and the amazing food! But, for now while Southern California is masquerading as Florida (yep, we’ve got the humidity too! ack!), I’ll stick to warm weather meals.

Even though I talk about salads on here quite a bit, I’m doing it again for 3 reasons: Continue reading

Healthy Makeover: Potato Salad

Sockmonkeys Kitchen:

This summer time heat has made me crave my favorite Potato Salad! (PS: it’s healthy!) I’d *really* appreciate it if you’d share this link with your friends, Thanks! =0)

Originally posted on sockmonkeyskitchen:

This potato salad is so creamy and delicious, you won't miss the mayo!

This potato salad is so creamy and delicious, you’ll forget it’s healthy!

Summertime can be sooooo confusing.  Your favorite magazines show photos of all of the warm-weather favorites, like Potato Salad, Fried Chicken, and Root Beer Floats… yet you also want to fit into that swimsuit or those cute new shorts. CATHY Plus, you have been trying to eat much better lately.  It seems to be a dilemma that’s been hitting a lot of people lately.

potato headPotato Salad, it’s time for your makeover.

When Tracieinvited me to her 3rd Annual 4th of July Beach Party, I knew I wanted to bring something tasty to go with the Tri Tips that were going to be grilled. I thought to myself, “what better than Steak and Potatoes”? yum! So I went about changing my favorite Potato Salad recipe into one that would not only taste good, but would fit into the “healthy” category too.

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Making Pickles at Williams-Sonoma

Look what we learned how to make!

Look what we learned how to make!

Every time I walk by a Williams-Sonoma store, I am pulled in by a  force that is stronger than any top-of-the-line vacuum on the market. Ever since I can remember, the store has had such a refined feel to it, and the staff is always so welcoming and willing to help. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked in to browse and been greeted with a snack or beverage. It’s kind of like going to a dear friend’s home. A friend who can cook. Really well. ;-)

Last weekend, Kenny, Cody, and I attended one of their free classes. Yes, folks, they will teach you some pretty amazing techniques and ideas… without charging you a thing. Oh – and you get to taste the creations at the end! Win-win! I’d always wanted to go to one of these, and when I saw this class was called “From the Garden”, and that they’d be some type of canning, I was in. You know I love to pickle beets (here’s my blog about that), but canning/pickling itself is one of those things I just don’t do enough of. So, I figured it I went, I’d get the motivation I needed. It worked. I’m dying to start up again after the wedding.

Meet Chef Gina, the local chef-teacher at Williams-Sonoma in Victoria Gardens (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

Meet Chef Gina, the local chef-teacher at Williams-Sonoma in Victoria Gardens (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

We walked in, and were immediately greeting by Chef Gina, whose caffeinated effervescence was contagious. If you’re ever able to attend one of her classes, I cannot tell you how much you’ll enjoy her super-fun, sweet style. “Welcome in, folks! We’re going to be making pickles today!” After introducing herself and her assistant, she was off and running. She talked about the importance of sterilizing jars when canning, and showed us this new item (or at least new to me!) made by the Ball company that can sterilize your jars in only 12 minutes. What?! I’ve done it either in the dishwasher, which takes a ton of time, as well as water…or by boiling it in big pots for what seems like forever. Great tip! This contraption also will help can your pickles, jams, tomatoes… whatever you’re canning…. without a worry. Now don’t get me wrong… this class wasn’t on the wonders of a product they were selling, it’s just that I am a major gadget girl and this one was extraordinary.  I’ll give you a link at the bottom of the blog so you can take a look at this beauty. Continue reading

Mom’s Rhubarb Custard Pie

Sockmonkeys Kitchen:

Since I’m crazy busy with the wedding plans, I thought I’d bring back a DELICIOUS treat from last summer as my 100th post. My Mom’s Rhubarb Pie is an outstanding dessert that I know you will absolutely love! Take a read, and try it out. Please make sure to say hi to my Mom in the comments, since she reads them too!

Originally posted on sockmonkeyskitchen:

thanks Mom

My mom has many cooking/baking talents, but her Rhubarb Custard Pie is one recipe that really gets a lot of requests. So, of course I was very excited when she asked if I’d like to use it for a blog :) What’s even better…all of the photos of pie that you’ll see are hers too.
I’ve heard that when my nephew would come visit her from college, it was the one thing he’d request. Every time.

Freshly picked rhubarb

Freshly picked rhubarb

When I was at her house for Mothers Day, we were talking about  rhubarb, and she told me that she always gets *interesting* comments from Grocery Clerks when she buys this pretty veggie at the market. Here are a few:

  •   “Sooooo, is this red celery?”
  •  “How do you eat this?”
  •  “What is this, anyway?”
  •  “Do you know…you’re the only one who ever buys this?”

Really?Maybe it’s because I’ve seen my mom make her pie so…

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Shortcuts for Summer: Part 1

summer shortcuts

It’s Summer time!
Now that the heat has overtaken us, my guess is you’re not wanting to spend a ton of time in the kitchen, right? There are pools to swim in, beaches to walk on, boats to sail on, and weddings to plan. Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t apply to you, but it does to me – I’m getting married next month! Because of that, I’ve taken some shortcuts here and there, since I don’t have a lot of free time these days.

So, for those of you who just need more hours in the day, because you don’t have a magical clock that will indeed stop time (where can I buy one of those?!), I give you my Summer Shortcuts. I’m calling it “Part 1″ because I’m pretty sure there will be a part 2. :)

The first shortcut came about when my parents came to stay for a couple of days recently to help around Kenny’s house. It was pretty warm, so I didn’t want to turn the oven on. I grabbed a few ingredients at the store and started throwing them together. It was super quick, super easy, and one you could do in no time. Hooray to that!
So, here’s your first shortcut of the day…. Cucumber Pico. You’ll notice the tomatoes are all halved. Don’t worry… there’s an fast way to do this! Remember the little trick I told you about in last week’s blog for cutting grapes? Well it works equally as well on tomatoes!

Cucumber Pico

Cucumber Pico

Cucumber Pico (paleo)

1 carton organic sugar plum tomatoes, halved Continue reading

Healthy Chicken Salad

healthy chicken saladOne of my biggest and most common cravings is a bowl full of fruit and veggies, all mixed up together. It’s a great start to a lot of meals, and when you throw in a protein or two, you’ve got a great lunch or dinner.  As is often the case, one afternoon I’d just gotten off of work, it was a hot day, and I was hungry. I stopped by the local market, picked up a few things that sounded like they could be friends, and ended up with this concoction. It was really good, I must say!

I love cutting things up – it’s actually quite therapeutic I think… plus it gives me time to think about the next step when I’m making up a recipe. It was on this particular day that I realized that if you let all the grapes roll into the little “moat” that’s around the wooden cutting board… you can slice about 10 of them at the same time. How ingenious is that?! I’m sure some people have done it like that for years… but it was new to me, and it happened quite by accident. Those kinds of kitchen accidents are way better than those requiring stitches or antacids… ;-)

It’s a simple dish, and one that really doesn’t require specific amounts. Just use what you want… and if you like an ingredient, add more!
Note: This is much healthier than most Chicken Salads, since it doesn’t include mayononaise, which is often made with a ton of vegetable oil (an ingredient you will never see in my recipes!). It also is adding the health benefits of plain yogurt :)
Continue reading

Simple Manicotti plus an Amazing Shortcut


Simple Manicotti

I’m going to teach you a shortcut that will *really* make your Manicotti dinner easy! But first, a little about noodles:

I have always loved noodles of any kind. I was the kid who was thrilled with just getting the noodles in the can of Campbell’s soup, and hoping my sister got all of those  icky chewy square chicken pieces. I used to love when Mom would make plain noodles and then put butter on them.  And I  loved cheese-filled noodles, especially the cheese filling that was in raviolis that I’d order when we went out for Italian food at Petrini’s (which has been in Santa Barbara since 1958!)… or Marianne’s Italian Villa. Of course, I had no idea what that cheese was, only that it was “special”.  AND… I knew that this same special cheese was in
manicotti, which Mom didn’t make often enough, in my opinion. Looking back, I remember it only showing up on nights we’d have company… hmmm… maybe it *was* special. Or maybe it’s because it was a pain in the neck to stuff all of those droopy noodles. Yep, that was probably it.
Well, problem solved. This recipe makes it easier to stuff them, and the amazing shortcut will go even further than that. BUT…. you have to wait. The shortcut it at the bottom.

Simple Manicotti  

Meat Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. ground Angus Beef (organic/grass fed)
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 jars of your favorite Marinara Sauce (yes, jars. Get one without soybean oil though)
(we are making it simple, remember?)
Continue reading

Celebrating in Santa Barbara

 Drinks with the girls

A couple of weekends ago, I shared a beautiful day in Santa Barbara, with my equally beautiful besties. We were there to celebrate my recent engagement.
Yep, I’m getting married! Donna drove in from wine country, Tracie came up from trendy LA, and I picked up Lisa up near historic Pasadena on our way up to our old stomping grounds. 
;-) Santa Barbara is known as The American Riveria®, and it really does live up to its name. We were surrounded by Mediterranean homes, fine shopping, and even finer dining. You know, it’s really sad because as a kid, I had absolutely no idea how pretty the city really was.  But now as a “pseudo-tourist” I can really appreciate all that Santa Barbara has to offer. 

Santa Barbara; photo courtesy

Santa Barbara; photo courtesy


We started the morning by meeting up at the local Panera. Oh how I love the Hazelnut coffee there! We chatted away for a while, and then crossed the parking lot for a lap around La Cumbre Plaza, which was one of our hangouts when we were growing up.
We breezed around from store to store,
gazing at the beautiful surroundings, and wandered through all the welcoming stores, such as Williams Sonoma,  and my favorite, Pottery Barn (*sigh*).  Our time shopping was filled with lots of laughter, a few giggles, and many references to 80s music ;-)

Then we hopped in the car and drove down State Street to our dining destination. The week before I had checked out Yelp to find the perfect place for lunch. I don’t know about you, but I think I use Yelp more than anything else as far as restaurant recommendations. They’re always spot on! Anyhow, my yelping certainly paid off. We found ourselves at Opal Restaurant and Bar, which is a beautiful little restaurant over near the Arlington Theater. As we were walking in the door, Tracie spotted her friend Adam, who she hadn’t laid eyes on for at least 25 years. That’s one of the things about Santa Barbara: no matter how long you’ve been away, you will always bump into someone you know.

Chicken over Spinach

Tracie and I had the chicken. OH YUM!

Our lunch was remarkable. Lisa had the Arborio Risotto (with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms, Fresh Asparagus and Artichokes), and Tracie and I both had the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Stuffed with Prosciutto and Smoked Mozzarella on a bed of baby spinach.
Continue reading

Chicken with Summerberry Salsa

Sweet meets Spicy!

Sweet meets Spicy!

Has this ever happened to you?

A couple days ago, I walked through the open doors of my local grocery store in hopes of finding the perfect ingredients for dinner. The only problem was that I had no idea what I was hungry for, and no idea what I felt like cooking.
My first stop is always the organic produce section, and often times I’ll find my inspiration there. Let’s see… zucchini…nope. Leeks…noooo. Carrots… nah.  Eggplant…no, no, no! Gah. I look around, see the market workers, and I’m thinking to myself, “Who are these people, and where have they put my inspiration?” Then I see it… if there was a choir, they would have started singing (although that would really be weird to have a choir in the middle of a grocery store, but hey, this is my daydream). BLUEBERRIES! Oh how I  love blueberries! I could eat them every day and never get tired of them. The odd thing is, I don’t remember ever eating fresh blueberries until I was an adult. And those tiny round sugary things in a can that come inside the muffin mix don’t count.
I grabbed a box, and saw my plump, organic lovlies were on sale for $1.99. So I got four. Yes!

Right next to them were some gorgeous garnet red strawberries. Summer is definitely here! I tried to figure out what exactly I would do with berries for dinner, and then I looked one shelf down: jalapeños! Of course. And no, I don’t put jalapeños in everything I make, contrary to what some of my friends have accused me of… I’m just on a slightly spicy kick right now. ;-)

I breezed through the aisles, grabbing a few more key ingredients, headed to Kenny’s house, and started mixing up these beauties. I must say, the color combo was so pretty – I definitely think this would be a good 4th of July lunch! Later on as Kenny and I took our first few bites, we realized this was definitely a recipe to write down. So, here’s my blueberry inspired entree – hope you’ll try it soon!

This Summerberry Salsa will go beautifully over anything from chicken, to buttered sourdough toast... OR, as my friend Casie said: blend it with tequila for a delicious mixed drink!

This Summerberry Salsa will go beautifully over anything from chicken, to buttered sourdough toast… OR, as my friend Casie said: blend it with tequila for a delicious mixed drink!

Chicken with Summerberry Salsa

1 box of strawberries, hulled and diced
2 small boxes of blueberries Continue reading

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