Cooking is fun. Eating is funner. I cook, photograph and write these recipes.
Everything I post on this blog I make from scratch using fresh wholesome ingredients.. I've been cooking since I was a little kid.

My recipes are based on trial and error, along with studying cookbooks, family recipes, blogs and cooking shows.

Some of the veggies and herbs I use are grown in my garden. Yay sustainability!
I'm working on making my yard into an edible landscape. It's really fun to go out in the garden and pick your veggies for dinner!
I'm helping as many people as I can to plant edible gardens in their yards too. It's hard work but it's really fun!



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    I’m re-blogging this post I made for the Master Chef at Home Mystery Box challenge. This was so delicious, I love the challenge of cooking with new ingredients! Thanks Master Chef!


    Smoked Bacon Wrapped Salmon on Herbed Rice with Black Bean Relish and Creamy Basil Dressing

    Submitted to MasterChef by delishytown

    The ingredients in the MasterChef at Home Mystery Box this week were: Salmon filets, bacon, black beans, balsamic vinegar, rice, fresh basil, fresh mint, and Plain Greek yogurt. I knew that the salmon had to be the star of the show, but I definitely wanted to use the bacon. I decided to break out the electric smoker for this dish, & wrap the Salmon in bacon. I finished it under the broiler to crisp up the bacon. It was soooo good! Every bite was heavenly and smoky and fresh. This was one of the best dishes I’ve ever made.

    Here’s how I made this delicious Smoked Salmon:

    Rinse 1 cup of rice a few times until the water runs clear. Add to a pot with 4 cups water and a pinch of salt. Simmer until al dente, drain and add back to the pot. Add 1 tsp chopped basil, 1/2 tsp chopped mint, sprinkle of celery salt, a grind of black pepper and a pinch of dried dill. Toss together with a fork, then cover and set aside to steam.

    Drain and rinse black beans. Add to a bowl with 1 small chopped Persian cucumber, 2 tblsp balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp fresh chopped basil and 1/2 tsp chopped mint, and season with celery salt and pepper.

    Turn the smoker to about 180 to 200 degrees. Soak apple and mesquite chips in water. Remove any bones from the salmon. Rinse and pat dry. Drizzle the salmon with some of the balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with a little brown sugar, season with salt and pepper. Smash and chop 1 large garlic clove, (reserve 1/4 tsp of this garlic for the dressing) spread the rest of the garlic on the fish. Slice a lemon very thin, you need about 4 thin slices of lemon depending on the size of the filets. Place basil leaves on the fish, top with the lemon slices, wrap with the bacon. Crisp up the remaining bacon for garnish. Place the fish in a shallow foil pan and into the smoker. Smoke the fish about 25 - 35 minutes. When it comes out, it should be most of the way cooked. Turn the broiler to high, sprinkle a little more balsamic vinegar and a pinch of brown sugar on top. Broil a few minutes until the sugar bubbles and the bacon crisps up.

    While your Salmon is in the smoker, make the creamy basil dressing. In a small bowl add 10 - 15 basil leaves, 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, celery salt and pepper, 1/4 tsp smashed & minced garlic, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tblsp balsamic vinegar, and a tiny pinch of brown sugar. Blend with a stick blender.

    Serve the Smoked Salmon on a bed of Herbed Rice with the Creamy Basil dressing and a side of Black Bean and Cucumber Relish with Crispy Bacon Crumbles. Yum!

    White Chocolate Strawberry Buttercream Cake

    I made cake. Does anybody want some cake? This came out amazingly delicious, and it was quick and easy because it’s doctored up cake mix with melted butter and white chocolate chips added to both the cake batter, and the buttercream frosting. Buy extra strawberries for the garnish, and white chocolate chips when you buy the cake mix. You’ll also need butter, powdered sugar and eggs.  

    The first thing I did was make the layer of strawberry jam for the middle. You can use store bought jam to make this even faster, but I had a lot of berries I wanted to use up. In a saucepan, combine 1 to 2 cups cut up strawberries, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp fruit pectin, (optional, but I had it, and it does help it to jell up.) Simmer for about 20 minutes then put it in the fridge to cool.

    For the cake layers: I used a small box of vanilla cake mix from Trader Joe’s. Pre heat oven to 350. Let 2 sticks of butter come to room temp.

    Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips with 1/2 cup butter in the microwave for 20 seconds. (Add another few seconds if it didn’t melt all the way, but don’t over cook it.) Mix it around with a fork and let cool for a few minutes. Now add the cake mix, 2 eggs, and 1 cup cold milk. Mix just until smooth. Pour into prepared cake pans. I cut a circle of parchment on the bottom of each pan, and buttered the edges for easy removal.

    Bake the cakes for about 20 minutes (or more if you use a different brand of cake mix with a bigger box, the TJ’s box isn’t that big, so these cooked fast) until it springs back when you touch it and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool. 

    For the White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips in the microwave for 20 seconds, let cool. Add 1/2 cup room temperature butter. Beat with a mixer until creamy. Add 2-3 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tblsp cold milk. Beat until super creamy and amazing. Lick the beaters, share one with your husband.

    To assemble, chop up a bunch of strawberries. I used the reddest ones on the outside, cut in half. Put one cake on a serving plate, add frosting, top with the fresh strawberry jam and chopped berries. Add the second cake. Frost the whole thing and decorate with strawberries and leftover white chocolate chips. Yum!

    Brown Sugar Bacon BLT with Avocado

    This is my favorite summertime sandwich. The heirloom tomatoes growing in our garden are sweet, tangy and so good! The recipe is easy, the difference with this is brown sugar bacon, which cooks in the oven and is much easier than standing over a splattering pan. It’s also completely delicious. I buy the nitrate free stuff, to pretend like it’s healthy.

    To make brown sugar bacon: Line a cookie sheet with foil, add the bacon to the cookie sheet with the fat side touching the pan, and the meatier side overlapping on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Turn the oven to 400. Add the pan to the un-preheated oven, this way it renders slowly. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, turn it around if it needs it, to cook evenly. Drain on paper towels with the sugar side up, or you get tiny bits of paper towel on your sweet bacon. I found this out by noshing on tiny bits of sugar coated, bacony paper towel one time. Please don’t tell anyone.

    Layer all the ingredients on toasted sourdough with mayo, avocado, heirloom tomato, lettuce, celery salt and pepper. Yum!

    Enjoy your Sunday Tumblrs!

    Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock and Roll High School

    I usually post pictures of my garden, or food pictures and recipes that I’m working on. Today I’m going to tell a story from my past. I’ll try to tell this as best as I can remember it. I sometimes wish I had cameras in my eyeballs to record my life so I could play it back and see all the details, because there are a lot of details.

     I saw the Ramones at a place called Old Chicago, an indoor amusement park on the far southwest side of Chicago in 1979.  I was 16. I went with my friends, The Perez-pelaez girls; Anna 17 1/2, Rosie 16, and their little sister Alicia 13. Alicia had cerebral palsy and drove an electric wheelchair called an Amigo. Their father was a doctor and their whole family was brilliant and funny. Dr. & Mrs. P. let Anna drive the family van to take us to the concert. We were usually happy just to be out, but on this night, with a car, no parents, and going to see the Rock & Roll, it was already so much fun. The tickets were general seating but the Andy Frain ushered us right to the front row. I think he even nudged a few people aside. We were excited for V.I.P. treatment, none of us expected it at a punk rock show.

    The show was amazing good old head banging punk rock the way god intended. It was enormously loud, everybody was jumping up and down and Pogo-ing like crazy. The version of the Ramones we saw didn’t include Tommy, who passed away last week. The band we saw included Joey, Johnnie, Dee Dee and Marky, who’d joined as drummer the previous year, if I’m not mistaken. The show sounded exactly like the records my sister Kris introduced me to and I loved it. My Sis is friends with a woman named Mary Alice, who was dating Joey Ramone at the time. They played all of my favorite songs, and after 4 or 5 encores, the Ramones jumped down from the stage and walked right in front of us. One of them said “hi” to Alicia as they walked past. They went out through a side stage door. Alicia was smiling from ear to ear and said that she couldn’t believe he just said hi to her. The show was over, but we’d had so much fun that we didn’t want to leave. We weren’t going anywhere.

    A few seconds later an Andy Frain came up to us and said because of the crowd, it would be easier to get outside if we went through the stage door, the same door we just watched the Ramones walk through. He said to go out the door, turn right, and follow the exit signs. We were all like, ok! We passed a security guard, went through the stage door, and ended up in this huge, empty concrete hallway. The ceilings were really high because this was an indoor amusement park, with roller coasters and everything. We were in the back hallways of this place, a massive concrete and steel structure. Nobody was around and we didn’t have anywhere we had to be, so we started exploring. We went left instead of right. We were singing and jumping around and turning cartwheels. The echo was amazing. I remember joking that ‘we refused to leave this building until we meet the Ramones.’ So, almost right on cue, up walks Marky Ramone with his girlfriend. He went over to Alicia and thanked her sincerely for coming out to the show. He was so kind. She was beaming. We all thanked him for a great show, and told him how much fun it was and how great it was to meet him. Then he says, “Do you want to meet the rest of the guys?” We were like, let’s think for a minute, of course we do! He walked us down the hall, and into the green room where the rest of the Ramones were hanging out and blowing off steam after their show. When we came in, they looked surprised, but then they were great, and were all over Alicia. They all thanked her for taking the time and trouble to come out to their show. She said, “I can’t believe you’re thanking me!” They were so nice that it was crazy. They were joking around and having fun. I think only one of them was drinking beer. They asked us how old we were, and when we told them, they looked at each other and then decided, sorry, you can’t have any beer or we’ll get in trouble. One of them said they’d be in big enough trouble if anybody found out young girls were in their green room. Their punk rock girlfriends / Groupie Girls were not happy at all. They gave us a zillion dirty looks, probably because we were not shy a bit, and ready to jump right in on the conversation. At one point Dee Dee Ramone gently lifted Alicia out of her amigo cart and carefully placed her on the couch and rode her electric wheelchair all over the green room. She was so excited and just laughing and laughing. It was hilarious, he was such a clown and so nice. We left pretty soon after that because I think the sisters promised to get Alicia home at a decent hour or something. It was one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had in my life.

    The moral of the story is always go left when they tell you to go right, so you can hang out in the Green Room with the Ramones. 


    Leek Seed Head
Radicchio Flowers, forming seeds Purple Ruffle Kale Rainbow Chard Celery Seed and Fennel Seed Pink Lady Apples Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

    Edible Landscape Update, July 9, 2014

    I took these pictures this morning in my front and back yards. It’s the time of year when winter vegetables set seed. The Leeks are flowering in the front garden. Their flower heads look like fireworks exploding. The Radicchio is setting beautiful blue flowers, their flower stalks are spindly and other wordily and so pretty! I love this plant in every stage of development. Celery seed is starting to dry on the plant, and fennel seed too. Both of these plants I grow primarily to use the seeds as spices. I love making celery salt, it’s one of my favorite flavors. And fennel seed is a delicious flavoring in home made sausage, even veggie sausage.

    We’ve got green tomatoes on all of our plants; Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Isis Candy, and Patio among others. I love summertime mostly because of tomatoes. We’ve been harvesting Sun Gold since last week. I gently pinch the center of the tomato flowers to get the plants to set more fruit. It works!

    I planted Haricot Vert and Yellow wax beans at my friend’s house, who’s on vacation. We’ve been harvesting beans whenever we go there to water. She has patty pan squash, and Moon and Stars watermelon and Butternut squash trailing across her back yard garden. 

    Our Tuscan Kale has been mulched with a layer of straw and is going strong in the summer heat. We also have Purple Ruffle Kale and Green Curly Kale. 

    The Cripps Pink, aka “Pink Lady” apple tree has 2-4 little green apples on each branch. The grapes are setting fruit, and the passionflower vine is covered with passions fruits. I have no idea what to do with these, it’s my first time growing them. The blueberries are done, but the blackberries are starting to set flowers again. Our strawberries are doing great. I keep harvesting them in order for the plant to keep going. I look forward to this every day. 

    There are three varieties of Eggplant in our garden; Rosa Bianca, Casper and Little Fingers, which is a very creepy name for a vegetable. All are doing well. They love the sunshine and heat.

     Purple Basil, Thai Basil, and Genovese Basil are growing strong. We made pesto from the Genovese the other night, it was delicious. 

    Tarragon has gone wild, it’s huge! I’ll clip a few stems off and hang them to dry because there’s no way I’m going to use it all this summer.  

    Today I’m planting out squash I started from seed, and more tomatoes in a new bed I made where a dying tree had to be cut down a few weeks ago. I’m sad to see the tree go, it was really big and shady, but happy to have more garden space.

    Happy Gardening everyone!

    Hi Everybody! Please watch Drunk History tonight. My husband Mike is on the show! So proud of my man, he’s so funny and awesome. That’s him in the background of this shot. Thanks Tim Baltz for the photo!

    Jalapeño Souvlaki with Roasted Corn & Garbanzo Black Rice Pilaf

    This was the delicious plate I made from the most recent box of Mystery ingredients sent to me by Master Chef and Plated. I love getting secret ingredients in the mail! They didn’t post it on their tumblr, so I’m going to post it here. This was spicy, smokey and amazingly delicious. It was even delicious as leftovers, cold. Yum!

     The Mystery box contained green Garbanzo beans in their husks, skinless chicken breast on the bone, a can of pumpkin puree, fresh jalapeños, cocktail onions, grape tomatoes, black olives, chicken broth, baby corn on the cob and a souvenir lunch sack. All of the ingredients made perfect sense together except for the pumpkin, so I decided to ditch it. I knew exactly what I wanted, garlicky, lemony souvlaki, and pumpkin doesn’t go with that flavor profile. Not to me anyway. 

    Everything was drizzled prior to grilling with a lemony dressing consisting of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, ground coriander, dill, lots of crushed garlic and salt and pepper. Make sure to reserve some of the marinade to use as a dressing once everything is all cooked.
    This is easy, just cut everything up, marinate, thread the skewers and grill everything including the baby corn and garbanzos, which I did on a vegetable grill pan. The garbanzos on the grill are delicious.

    I made two separate skewers, 1) chicken with jalapeño & onion, and 2) tomato, onion & jalapeño, because by the time the chicken cooks, the tomatoes will be falling apart into the grill. Put the meat skewers on the grill first because they take longer to cook. 

    I made rice pilaf with black rice cooked in chicken stock, grilled garbanzo beans and baby corn. When I grill tomatoes I have to have rice with them, it’s mandatory. Rice and grilled tomatoes are amazing together.

    Enjoy your long holiday weekend everybody. Let me know if you try this, it’s really good! 

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