spicy clementine beef stir-fry

Spicy Clementine Beef Stir Fry

While citrus are available year round, many varieties are at their peak of flavor in winter.  Among them is one of my favorites, clementine oranges. These little “cuties”, at their best right now, are super sweet, juicy, naturally seedless, and easy to peel.  Clementines are delicious on their own or in desserts, but I think they are even more sensational in savory dishes. Their sugary, tart flavor compliments the salty and spicy notes of this delicious stir-fry.

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bo luc lac, vietnamese shaking beef

Bo Luc Lac or Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Fish sauce, a staple ingredient in many Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia, is made from fermented fish and sea salt. While it may not sound or smell appetizing, fish sauce adds a complex  flavor to food. It is added to dishes during the cooking process or used straight or as a base for dipping sauce. Continue reading

pasta salad

 

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, Lucia, who is the consummate hostess.  She has an incredible knack for making everyone feel at home.  Her house in Palm Springs, complete with basketball court and swimming pool, is the perfect hangout for family and friends.  While we all know it’s hard work, she somehow makes entertaining seem effortless.  She disappears into the kitchen for a moment only to reappear with a casual, yet very tasty poolside spread that has something for everyone. Continue reading

baked sausage and spinach shells

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll notice that I like to cook dishes that are simple, easy to prepare, and readily adaptable to someone else’s tastes or needs.  Well, this recipe is all of that, and best of all, it’s absolutely delicious!  These baked sausage and spinach shells were exactly the type of food I wanted to serve my family and friends on Christmas Eve – finger foods that were filling and hearty. I was right because they were a big hit at my buffet table!  The shells held the filling together so my guests were able to pick them up with their fingers and eat them without making a mess.  I received compliments all night long.  Continue reading

football food: spinach and artichoke dip

Over the last couple of posts, I’ve shared some yummy snacks that are perfect for your football party or tailgate.  The last one I want to share with you is this warm and creamy  Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  This is easy to prep ahead of time, then bake in the oven about 30 minutes before you and your guests are ready to eat. I usually serve this with tortilla or pita chips.  I added the breadcrumb topping to give it a little crunch and more garlic flavor.  The garlic is not overpowering in this recipe since it is roasted for a mellower and nutty taste, but decrease amount if you are garlic-averse. Continue reading

prosciutto, mascarpone, and spinach pizza with balsamic glaze


On a trip to San Francisco a couple of years back, we had dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Postrio, located in the Prescott Hotel in Union Square.  We sat at the bar and ordered two of Puck’s wood-fired pizzas – the Smoked Salmon with dill and crème frâiche and the Prosciutto & Figs with balsamic, mascarpone cheese, and  truffle oil. The Smoked Salmon quickly became his signature pizza when he opened the original Spago’s in 1982.  It was a huge hit with the Hollywood crowd who couldn’t get enough of the smoked salmon topped with caviar.  Although Postrio’s version omitted the pricey roe, it was still a great pizza.  However, what stole the show was the other pizza we ordered, the Prosciutto and Figs.  This is still one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.  I mean, who wouldn’t love this?!  Just imagine it – chewy pizza dough with a base of mascarpone cheese covered with a generous amount of prosciutto and arugula drizzled with a balsamic glaze and truffle oil. Right after inhaling that pizza, while still sitting there at the bar, I wrote all the ingredients so we could try replicate it as best we can when we got home. Continue reading

my urban vegetable garden


Chris & I devoted most of the last week of August working on our new garden.  Chris tilled and leveled the soil and removed some tree roots left by two huge trees in preparation for the placement of four new raised beds he built.  I had it fairly easy; I was in charge of  selecting, buying and planting all the vegetables and flowers.  I included flowers around the vegetables to add splashes of color amidst all of the green foliage.  I also transplanted all the herbs that were scattered around in different pots to a single raised herb bed.  Now most of my herbs – French tarragon, Greek oregano, Italian parsley, rosemary, sage, lemon thyme, and garlic chives are together.  I also have basil but I read that it is the perfect companion to tomatoes so I planted them together in a separate pot.  The basil is supposed to keep insects away and even enhance the flavor of the tomatoes.

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