at the county fair: mexican grilled corn

At the Fair: Mexican Grilled Corn

While grilled corn is delicious with just some butter and sea salt, try this Mexican version, called elote, grilled corn that is smothered in crema Mexicana or mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder seasoning, and freshly-squeezed lime.  This is a popular snack sold by street vendors in Mexico.  Some ingredients are Mexican staples but are widely available in grocery stores and Hispanic markets here in the US. 

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corn cakes with strawberry and tomato salsa

Corn Cakes wth Strawberry-Tomato Salsa

Thanks to the abundant sunshine, fertile soil, and cool coastal breezes, farmers up and down the state of California are able to grow a huge variety of crops, many of which are shipped all over the country. We are fortunate to live here in Southern California, where we have access to many of these locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Many of them, such as those featured in today’s recipe, are at their peak of flavor during the late spring to early summer.

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vietnamese spring rolls

Vietnamese Spring RollsVietnamese Spring Rolls are essentially are bundles of salad wrapped in rice paper. They are very versatile and may be made with whatever fresh ingredients you have on hand. It takes a little bit of time to prepare all the ingredients and a little practice to wrap, but the resulting spring rolls are certainly worth the time and effort. Make these for your family or serve them at your next party and they are guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.

…traditionally filled with shrimp and pork, noodles, and an assortment of vegetables and herbs.  They are eaten dipped in either a spicy peanut sauce or nuoc cham, which is made with fish sauce, garlic, and chilis, or both. What I love about them is that they are fresh, healthy, and a lot of fun to make (and eat!).

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lime-cilantro pasta salad

Lime-Cilantro Pasta Salad

As a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed that I am particularly fond of sugar and butter, which, unfortunately, is not good for me nor my waistline. That’s why I am excited to find recipes as healthy and tasty as this pasta salad.  With luscious mangoes, creamy avocados, sweet tomatoes and bell peppers, I’ve found a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet.

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chinese salt and pepper squid


Most Chinese restaurants often have “salt and pepper” items on the menu.  Pork chops, shrimp, cubes of tofu, chicken wings, or squid are usually battered and deep-fried and served with a mound of chilli peppers and green onions.  I made my version with squid, using both the body and the tentacles (my favorite part!).  I didn’t want a thick batter so I found this recipe which coated the squid with a dry mixture of cornstarch and flour. Since I don’t like super spicy foods, I used the milder jalapeño peppers instead of Serrano or Thai chillies.  I’m not sure how authentically Chinese this dish is, but as the fragrant aroma of the garlic, jalapeños, and green onions filled my kitchen, I knew this dish was going to be good. Continue reading

football food: cowboy caviar


Chips and dip make great football food.  They are easy to prepare and serve, easy to eat with one hand (so you don’t have to put your beer down), and best of all, they are very tasty.  I had never heard of Cowboy Caviar until my sister-in-law, Liz, shared this recipe with me.  According to Saveur Magazine, legendary Texas cook Helen Corbitt invented this black-eyed pea salad in the 1940s. Cowboy Caviar is  tasty alternative to the standard salsa or guacamole with its blend of black-eyed peas, corn, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro. It is best made a day ahead to let all the flavors of the dressing and salad meld together.  I think all your guests will love this vegan and gluten-free dip. Continue reading

my edible garden

As you can probably guess, I’m obsessed with gardening at the moment.  I’ve been enjoying my flower garden for the last month so now I turned my attention to my edible garden.   I like the convenience of growing and cooking with fresh herbs.  They grow with little care and attention.  However, I’ve neglected them for the last year and I needed a herb garden makeover.  The rosemary, oregano, and lemon thyme were repotted to plastic containers and moved to the corner alongside my beloved meyer lemon tree.  The pineapple sage was saved from the chopping block and repotted since I couldn’t part with the sweet scent of its leaves.  Plus during the summer, it has lots of little red flowers.   I added a small cilantro plant and some chives.  This year, I am also trying my hand at growing jalapeño peppers and two varieties of tomatoes – Sweet 100s and Yellow Pears.  If everything goes well, I should be able to start harvesting tomatoes in late July through the fall.
Could this be the beginning of my own locavore movement?  At least, I have the makings of some fresh organic salsa with the jalapeños, cilantro, and tomatoes.

Meyer Lemon

I’ve had this meyer lemon tree for about 5 years.  The first couple of years, it produced about 10-15 lemons total.  Once I started to apply some citrus food, it was happy and started to produce more and more fruit.  I’ve harvested about 75 lemons from each of the past few growing seasons.  I juice the lemons and store them in one-cup increments in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  It’s never been easier to make lemon curd and lemon bars.

Jalapeño Peppers

I planted a six-pack flat of jalapeño peppers I bought at Lowe’s for $1.98.  I wasn’t sure how this endeavor would turn out as the tall, gangly seedlings were barely able to stand on its own.  Now, four weeks later, I can see some buds forming.  I hope it develops into actual edible peppers.

Tomato

It looks a little silly to put a big huge cage over two little itty bitty tomato plants, but hopefully they’ll just shoot up and bear little clusters of edible fruit in a couple of months.  It’s so exciting to grow my own tomatoes instead of buying mealy tasteless ones from the grocery store.  I read online that growing basil next to tomatoes makes it taste better, although it was unclear if the article was referring to the tomatoes or the basil.  I think I need to make another trip to Lowe’s for basil.

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