Archive for August, 2011

August 21, 2011

Wine Stained Arms

Here I stand with wine stained arms. Happy, content, and overwhelmed by how much I have learned in the past five years. It hit me today: I’m doing it. I’m following through with a dream. Classes start soon, I’m going to work with someone this Fall who makes wine so well – I could squeal. I’m squealing. I’m standing here squealing so loud maybe you can hear me. Can you hear me? I bet you can.

I don’t talk a whole lot about wine here, and I really should.

Walking in the grocery store with my mom, I would stare down those shiny bottles. Light would reflect off of those labels. I loved it. I still do today. I often walk through the small bottle shop where I work, touching and feeling each and every bottle. I feel connected, like I belong. The soil, the earth, the fruit, everything makes my soul want for more.

It’s weird when something clicks. Wine came full force at me when I took a job as a hostess at a wine, cheese, and beer cafe. I knew nothing, zip, zilch, zero. All I knew was that I wanted to be there. It took a long time to learn. In fact, there were many failed tests and low scores before I got it. It finally made sense. I feel the same way in the kitchen now.

I talk about wine in the classes I teach, at tastings, and to people who just want a bottle for dinner. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It makes people happy.

Today I poured wine for many people. Lots, I mean a ton. In fact, I’m standing here with wine stains up and down my arms, and I like it.



August 16, 2011

Quinoa stuffed poblanos, Camping Food!

Hello all!

I hope you all had the chance to look at Jennies blog. It still brings me to tears when I think of her loss. Her love for her husband seemed so beautiful, and I know it will live on. I know that my heart has changed because of her loss. I just really do want to hug, and love the ones close to me a little more. I want my friends, family, and especially P to know how special they truly are.

Before all of the above, P and I had a lovely mini vacation on Mt. Hood. We camped for a few days, and had an amazing time. The sun changed my spirit. It hasn’t hit 90 this whole summer in Portland. I’ve been wearing sweaters in the evening, and craving lazy summer days. We were able to experience every bit of laziness on a beautiful lake. It was gorgeous. We swam, we laughed, we met goofy campers, and learned a little history too. We also ate. We actually ate quite well. I didn’t get to photograph the recipe I’m posting, but I will say it was quite great! I highly suggest taking this with you next time you camp. It’s simple, delicious, and fire roasted. You can’t get better that!

I know blog posts are dumb without photos. Really dumb! We were a little tipsy, and didn’t have the brain cells to take photos!!

Quinoa Stuffed Poblanos

This is just a guideline! Add what you like, and of course, make as much as you need! Adapt, adapt, adapt!


  • 2-4 Poblano peppers depending on size
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cooked quinoa depending on how many peppers you are stuffing
  • 1/4 cup cooked black beans
  • 1-2 chipotle’s in adobo sauce
  • 1 chopped heirloom tomato
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 2 gloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp Pepitas
  • 1 small zucchini chopped
  • 1 ear corn chopped off the cob
  • Wash, and chop off top of poblano pepper. Remove seeds, reserve top.
  • Cook quinoa, and stir in cooked black beans. Saute onions, garlic, chipotles in adobo sauce with cooked quinoa, and black beans.
  • Add chopped tomato, zucchini, and corn to quinoa mixture. Cook until done! Don’t over cook. We aren’t looking for mushy veggies.
  • Sprinkle pan with pepitas, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stuff raw poblano peppers until half full. Add some feta, and stuff with quinoa mixture until full. Top with stem.
  • Wrap in foil. Continue until you have stuffed 4 peppers.
  • Cook on fire for 15-20 minutes, or until blistered and oozing.
  • You may have extra mixture, it’s great in scrambled eggs, on top of greens, or as lunch when you return from camping. I bet it would be awesome on top of baked potatoes, and covered in salsa!
Here are some photos of Padron peppers cooked on top of our camp fired, drenched in avocado oil, and sprinkled with sea salt. I have to say they were the best! We also made corn on the cob, drizzled with olive oil, and esplette! We also had caesar salads. I made fresh basil pesto, and packed fresh ravioli for our second night. This worked extremely well. What types of food do you cook while camping? Do you like cooking while camping? I do! It gives me something to do other than read.
xoxo, and great big hugs!
ps- if you are looking for great boxed wine- I highly suggest “from the tank”. It’s a great CDR, and it’s biodynamic as well.
August 15, 2011

Bliss, thoughts on love, a simple dinner, and a tribute to Jennie and her loss.

I just had one of the best weekends of my summer. P and I spent Friday-Sunday morning camping on Mt. Hood. We enjoyed meals, too much wine, and lots of laughs together. I missed him so much when I went to work this morning, my heart ached a bit. I honestly couldn’t wait to hug him before dinner. I couldn’t wait to talk about our days, our camping memories, and to plan our next adventure together. I am in a state of utter bliss today. I feel so lucky, loved, and blessed to be able to do what I want to do with my life, and discover the world with someone I love so much.

I was catching up on blogs that I follow, and have missed a whole lot in the blogging world over the last week. This place has such a special place in my heart, and I feel so connected to those I follow. We may not know one another in person, but I get to see into the lives of so many people from all over the globe. I’ve followed bloggers through first babies, marriages, and crazy happy online dating stories.

After showering away smoky campfire memories, I opened my Google Reader. The weekend bliss changed. My heart dropped, the back of my throat ached, and tears fell when I read that one of my favorite bloggers lost her husband recently. My heart goes out to her and her family. She makes incredible food and tells beautiful stories in each post. I’ve always admired her, and today I honor her strength.

I’m going to keep this simple. This is a very personal place for me. I wanted to post my camping meals tonight, but I think I’m going to hold off. I wanted a simple night with my friends, and P. I wanted to eat fresh tomatoes and mozzarella on toasted bread. I wanted to love my friends, and P. I wanted to make sure they know I love them. I didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. I  wanted simplicity. You never know if you have tomorrow. Take some time to savor every moment you have with those you love.

This simple blissful dinner and post is in honor of Jennie, her family, and late husband Mike. I hope she knows people who don’t even know her truly love her, and have connected with her  through her writing, hope, and  strength.

Summer Caprese on grilled bread


  • 2 large slices of baquette, coated in olive oil, grilled until slightly charred with grill marks
  • 8 slices of your favorite variety of tomato
  • 6 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 12 fresh basil sprigs, chopped
  • sea salt, pepper
  • Good quality balsamic vinegar, and good quality Extra Virgen Olive oil
  • Grill bread
  • Slice cheese and tomatoes
  • Stack tomatoes, cheese, and mozzarella (bake in oven for a few minutes if desired, or if cheese isn’t melting from grilled bread)
  • Top with chopped basil
  • Drizzle with balsamic, and oil
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Enjoy with loved ones, a bottle of wine, and happy hearts!!
I also made padron peppers, a steak for P, and a simple arugula salad with raspberries.

xoxo with all of my heart


August 9, 2011

Halloumi and Roasted Veggies with a Dilly Vinaigerette

Hello All! Halloumi cheese is one of our summer favorites. It’s a little hard to find, but worth seeking out. It reminds me of mozzarella, in a feta brine. Two of my favorite cheeses in one. Plus it doesn’t melt when fried, or grilled. I know it’s not seasonal, but it’s just so great grilled in the warm evenings of the summer. It’s chewy, and smokey when grilled with some charred marks. We had a grill issue this evening, and ended up cooking the cheese in a fry pan on the stove. It was fantastic and lightly browned ,so yes this is a timeless cheese!

I roasted zucchini, spring onions, bell peppers, and red potatoes with olive oil, garlic, salt, and parsley. Fried up the cheese in a hot dry pan, toasted some pinenuts, and made a shallot, dill vinaigerette to top it all off. It was quite delicious, and fresh all at the same time. I think it would be even more amazing, grilled, and stacked! You would definitely impress your friends with the execution of this dish at your next bbq or dinner party.

I’m thinking we will grill some panini sandwiches with the other half of our halloumi. Please try this, trust me it’s a gorgeous meal.

Halloumi and Roasted Vegetables with a Dilly Vinaigerette 

(this is just an idea, use as much as you need! I split one of each vegetable for 2 of us!)


  • Halloumi cut 1/4 inch squares
  • 1 Zucchini cut into 4 large strips
  • 1 of each Red and green bell peppers sliced in strips
  • 1 Potato sliced thinly in rounds
  • 1 small Spring onion quartered
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp olive oil for dressing
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • Chopped fresh parsley, or other herb of choice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • a hanful of toasted pinenuts
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 handful of  colorful cherry tomatoes for garnish
  • Place sliced potatoes on grill, or in oven, and cook until crispy, and done.
  • Grill, or roast sliced veggies until done, but crispy and fresh tasting.
  • Cook halloumi on grill until charred, or in fry pan until brown.
  • Place shallot, rice vinegar, parsley, dill, salt, olive oil, and little bit of water in a blender. Blend until smooth. This is your dressing!
  • Stack veggies, and haloumi as desired, garnish with cherry tomatoes.
  • Dress with dressing, and toasted pinenuts!
  • Enjoy, and be preparee for ooooh’s and ahhhhh’s!



August 7, 2011

Super Summer Panzanella

Well, hello there lovelies! It’s been a gorgeous week in Portland! It’s also August, which means tomato season in Oregon. Finally, finally, finally! As much as I love oven roasted tomatoes, I long for fresh, juicy, sun ripened tomatoes that melt in your mouth fresh from the garden. I love to bite into them like apples.

I was super happy and suprised to find four huge, gorgeous purple heirloom tomatoes in my Organics to You delivery box this week. They were gorgeous in that ugly way you would talk about a bull dog. Cute, but ugly, get it?

The second I saw them, I knew I had to revisit the panzanella salad (I did one back in April with oven roasted tomatoes). This is the perfect time of year to eat vegetables raw. They taste like they should, and they should really be the highlight of every dish.

Without hesitation, I chopped raw zucchini, squash, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, onion, basil, and bell pepper while I had some stale bread toasting. I also grabbed fresh mozarella, while snacking on it at the same time. One for the salad bowl, one for me! I opened a can of artichoke hearts, added a cup and half of chickpeas, and whisked up a mustardy balsamic dressing! Simple, fresh, easy! It tasted exactly like Summer. It was a wholesome, filling, and delicious meal. Perfect for a night when it’s too warm to cook. It’s a bit of an improv meal. I would have added juicy caper berries or olives, but P can’t stand either of them.

I’m not going to include a recipe, you know what do! Chop, toast, dress, place everything on top of your crispy bread, and enjoy!

Have a happy weekend! What are you doing this weekend? Let me know in the comments! I’m working – boo. I may cook up something extra special for you though. Stay tuned!



August 4, 2011

Kale and Cabbage Tostadas

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but we love Kale salads around here?! He he! Of course you did! This will be my 5th kale salad post!!! This one is completely different though! It’s covered in a cilantro, serrano pepper, and lime dressing, kissed with avocado slices, savory black beans, spicy red onion slivers, and crunchy raw corn. It’s the perfect summer meal!!!

P and I have been eating this tostada recipe for a couple years now. Jewels and Jill Elmore are responsible for idea behind this recipe. In fact, along with Heidi Swanson, these ladies have been my healthy cooking inspiration for quite some time now. I give them full credit for this recipe, but it’s certainly up for adaptation, and I change it each time I make it. I’ve read their book from cover to cover, and always play with their fresh, colorful recipes.

This is a great recipe for using up scraps, or when you get your CSA box and don’t have room for everything in your fridge. It’s an extremely healthy salad, that’s hearty, and fresh all at the same time. The traditional recipe calls for shrimp, I use tofu that has been “dry fried” to keep this recipe lower in calories, and because I am vegetarian. I won’t say that I never eat fish, but it’s not something I really want to explore with this blog.

I like the fact that you can eat this over a couple of days, everything stays quite fresh, and makes perfect leftovers for lunches, or quick dinners when your to busy, or it’s too hot to cook. P and I ate the leftovers at a park picnic today! They were perfect. I could see this dish being a great camping meal too.

Kale and Cabbage Tostadas 

Adapted from The Family Chef by: Jewels and Jill Elmore

Serves 12 if using all ingredients (I make the whole salad, but only 4 corn tortillas for 2)


  • 4 corn tortillas
  • Olive oil for brushing

For the salad:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans , drained and rinsed (I used black beans that had been prepped and frozen by me)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 ears corn (roasted, sautéed, or raw), kernels only
  • 2 bunches cavolo nero , washed and dried, middle stem torn out, and shredded
  • 1/2 head (small) red cabbage , shredded  (I used green)
  • 5 plum tomatoes , seeded and diced (I skipped this, and used freshly made salsa)
  • 2 avocados , peeled and diced (I sliced thin half moons, and used only 1/2 an avocado for 4 whole tostadas)
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1 bunch cilantro , coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese , crumbled (I used grated ricotta salata)
For the dressing:
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 3 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
  • 1 medium shallot , finely chopped (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar (I skipped this)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro (I used the whole bunch)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup canola oil (I used olive)
  • 3 serrano chile peppers (use as many as you like depending on heat preference)
  • 3 Tbsp. water
For the tofu:
  • 1 package organic tofu, preferably locally sourced and made (you can prep the shrimp if using the same way)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 serrano chili , minced (optional)
For the tostada shells:
  • Brush desired amount of corn tortillas with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt
  • Bake on 350 for 10-15 mins, or until crispy
  • Cool and set aside
For the salad:
  • Mix black beans and corn with cumin, salt, pepper, and ancho chili powder together in a very large bowl
  • Add chopped kale, chopped cilantro, chopped onion, and chopped cabbage to corn and bean mixture
  • This is where I stop! I don’t add avocado, or tomatoes until I’m ready to serve. This ensures a nice crispy salad for leftovers.
 For the dressing:
  • Simple! Combine everything into the bowl of a food processor, blend, and set aside
For the tofu:
  • Toss all ingredients in a bowl with olive oil, add tofu
  • Fry in a non stick pan until cooked, without adding more oil
Putting it all together:
  • Take tortillas and place on plates
  • Take the amount of dressed salad you are serving, and add sliced avocado, and tomatoes as desired.
  • Place on top of tostadas.
  • Grate cheese as desired.
  • Refrigerate leftover salad, tofu, cheese, and dressing for easy access to leftovers!
  • Serve and Enjoy!
August 2, 2011

Watermelon Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Happy August! The sun is finally shining! It’s nice out, so nice I’ve got sunglasses, a sun dress, and fresh painted toe nails, and pretty sandals on!

I’ve got a ton of stuff to do today, including a 3pm yoga class. I wanted to post my light and delicious lunch before I got back to pickling the last of the snap peas, and some zucchini which I will post later today!

I had some arugula, cilantro, and ricotta salata left in the fridge. I walked to Whole Foods to grab some cream for my coffee, and came home with heirloom tomatoes, and some watermelon too.

When I lived on the East Coast I rarely cooked. I worked for a restaurant so most of my friends were free for lunch. We had a ton of lunches at really nice places. I remember any chance a restaurant would have a watermelon salad on special I would order it, devour it, and scrape my plate for leftover juices. Yum!

Today I was feeling a little nostalgic, and decided to make my own version of an old favorite. It was light, bright, and perfect. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Watermelon Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette 

For one salad, and dressing for a week!


  • 1/4 cup chopped watermelon
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1 small green heirloom tomato, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tbsp chopped red onion (I sliced the onion into half moons)
  • 2 Tbsp crumbled ricotta salata
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar, or white wine
  • 1 tbsp grape-seed oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 shallot
  • Place Chopped watermelon on plate.
  • Place clean arugula in a bowl.
  • Top with chopped onion, tomato, sunflower seeds, and  crumbled ricotta salata.
  • Place clean cilantro, juice of lime, shallot, salt,  vinegar, and oil in bowl of food processor, and pulse until desired consistency.
  • Toss dressing, and salad together.
  • Place on top of arugula, and enjoy!
August 1, 2011

Cajun Green Bean “Fries” with a Cucumber and Dill Yogurt Dip

I’ve been working with food all day. Cleaning dishes, pickling snap peas (yum! perfect with egg salad), and making room for the huge box of organic veggies just delivered!

I’ve also had a craving for french fries all day. Strange huh? I have a fridge full of healthy, fresh, vegetables, and  all I want are greasy, heart clogging bites of starch? What’s wrong with me? Did I hit my head at the gym?

Two pounds of green beans came with my mystery box today. I love fresh green beans, and they are totally in season right now. I saw purple and white beans at the market last week! The colors were striking, and fresh salads danced in my mind. I never know what to do with green beans. I remember plucking the ends at my grandma’s house, and boiling them, then drenching them in butter before eating them when I was a kid.

I totally grew up in a boiled vegetable house. I can’t stand boiled veggies these days, and I don’t slather them in butter like I did as a child.

While researching green bean recipes, I couldn’t find anything truly exciting. I all of sudden had a flashback to my days in Philadelphia. I used to frequent a bar called Grace Tavern. They had blackened green beans on their menu. My philly friends would order them instead of fries. They were delicious, and spicy, and served with a spicy sauce on the side.

I decided to re-create them, and share the recipe with you. These are a perfect side dish to veggie burgers, sandwiches, and very bbq friendly. Your friends won’t even realize they are super healthy, because they are just so tasty and crisp.

One more thing: Do you have any delicious green bean recipes? Please let me know!

Cajun Green Bean Fries and a Dilly Yogurt Cucumber Dip

Ingredients for Cajun Green Beans:

  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 3 Tbsp. plus ¾ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1½ tsp. dried mustard
  • ½ lb. fresh green beans
  • Coconut oil for cooking
  • Mix all dried herbs in a bowl. (this will make enough for 4-5 1/2 pound servings).
  •  Wash and trim beans, remove ends.
  • Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes, or until bright green.
  • Immerse in ice cold water.
  • Heat coconut oil in fry pan, and toss in green beans, stir, and add 1/4 of seasoning.
  • Stir until well coated.

Ingredients for yogurt dip:

  • 3 Tbsp plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cucumber chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh dill
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Mix all ingredients together, and serve with green bean fries!
The cooling yogurt sauce is perfect with the spicy fries! Enjoy! You may want to eat these with a fork unless you like licking your fingers!