Mushroom Bites Appetizer

Are you ready to start entertaining outside in your backyard? These Mushroom Bites are the perfect appetizer to serve before your barbecue dinner with friends and family!

Mushroom Bites


    8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
    1 large shallot, finely diced
    1 garlic clove, minced
    2 tablespoons butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
    3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
    1 package puff pastry
    1 egg, beaten
    salt and pepper 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange baking racks in top and lower parts of your oven.
  • In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the shallots and salt until beginning to brown. Remove the shallots to bowl and set them aside.
  • In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium-low and sauté the mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and black pepper and sauté for 1 additional minute. Place in the bowl with the onions. Stir in the cheese.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry into an even 10.5-inch square. With a 2-inch round cookie, cut the pastry into rounds (alternatively, you can slice the puff pastry into squares to limit waste). 
  • Transfer the cut puff pastry to a prepared baking sheet, then brush lightly with the beaten egg. Prick each round with a fork to allow air to escape, then top each round 1 tablespoon of the mushroom and shallot filling. 
  • Bake for 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crisp, rotating the pans 180 degrees and switching the positions of the baking sheets on the upper and lower racks halfway through. Let bites cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with Gazpacho for a perfect hearty appetizer this spring!
  • Mushroom bites alongside gazpacho for a hearty appetizer


One Skillet Roasted Chicken with Peaches and Pesto Rice

Oh my gosh, this one skillet wonder is the bomb! I am not a huge fan of fruit combined with savory (ie. strawberry in salad), so I was a little wary of this one. But the flavor combos totally work! Thanks to Caroline Chambers, this recipe is worth a try. You and your family will love it!

One-skillet Roasted Chicken with Peaches and Pesto Rice
  • Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs 

  • Kosher salt and pepper

  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 1 1/2 cups white rice

  • 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

  • 1/4 cup pesto (store-bought!)

  • Juice of 1 large lemon (2-3 tablespoons)

  • 2 peaches, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced basil

  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta 

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Warm an ovenproof skillet or saucepan over medium heat. I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.

Season 2 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Place the chicken thighs skin-side down in the skillet. After 3 or 4 minutes, when chicken grease starts to pool up in the skillet, add 2 thinly sliced shallots and 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves around the chicken. Season with a pinch of salt. Use tongs to scooch them around to start sautéing them while the chicken cooks.

When the chicken skin is golden, flip it over and scooch it all to the outside rim of the skillet. If your skillet is totally full of chicken, remove one or two to make room to pour the rice in.

To the empty part of the skillet, pour in 1 1/2 cups white rice2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock1/4 cup pesto, and the juice of 1 lemon. Use your tongs to evenly distribute the rice and liquid around the chicken. If you removed a chicken thigh, add it back to the skillet, smooshing it down into the rice and liquid.

Raise the stove heat to high to bring the stock to a boil, then turn off the heat. Place the peach slices over the rice, trying not to put them on top of the chicken so that the chicken skin can get nice and crispy.

Place the skillet on the center rack of the oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes. Check your chicken and rice at the 25 minute mark. The chicken should be at least 160°F internally, and the rice should be tender (it might look hard on the surface where it was exposed to direct heat, so dig your spoon down in there to check!).

Garnish with 1/3 cup thinly sliced basil and 1/3 cup feta, and dig in!! Serve  chicken over pesto rice with lots of peaches, basil, and feta on top.



Chili Relleno Casserole

When I was growing up, one of my favorite meals my mom made was Chili Relleno Casserole with Flank Steak and green breans. This recipe is a delicious twist on her recipe using fresh poblano peppers instead of canned green chilies. It is easy to pull together (after the chilis are blackened) and is a great side for brunch or dinner!

Chili Rellenos


6-8 large poblano peppers

2 cups freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

1 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese, divided

5 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

sour cream and salsa for serving


  • Preheat the oven's broiler and set the rack at about 6 inches from the heat source. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place peppers on the baking sheet and roast for about 10-15 minutes, using tongs to turn them occasionally, roasting until the skins are blackened and charred.
  • Transfer the roasted peppers to a plastic bag for about 10 minutes, allowing them to steam as they cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, cut off the stems, open them up and remove the seeds.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 3-quart baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • Lay half of the roasted chiles in the baking dish in a single layer. Sprinkle 1 cup of the jack cheese and 1/2 cup of the cheddar on top. Repeat layers once.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined and no lumps of flour remain. Pour mixture evenly over the cheese and chiles.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes until puffed up in the center and eggs are set and golden around the edges.
  • Let stand and cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a little salsa,. Enjoy!


Really Green Soup

This really green soup made from the viral tik tok swamp soup recipe is not only delicious but the vibrant green goodness is very healthy! Enjoy!

Really Green Soup

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 heaping cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup cooked and pulled chicken (I used rotisserie)
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 whole stalks scallions 
  • 1 jalapeño, stems and seeds removed (I didn't want it too spicy)
  • 1 cup parsley, packed plus more for garnish
  • 4 cups baby spinach, packed
  • Salt to taste
  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil and add in the spinach and garlic. Cook the spinach until wilted and shrunken in size and garlic is softened. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the spinach and garlic out of the broth and into your blender. Set aside to cool.
  2. Add the rice into the broth, bring back to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let the rice simmer in the broth until liquid has thickened and rice begins to break apart, about 10-15 minutes
  3. Add ginger, scallion, jalapeño and parsley into the blender with the spinach. Add about 1/4 cup of water and 1 tsp salt. Blend until smooth, about 60 seconds. If the blender gets stuck, add more water. If your blender is too small, you can do this in batches or use a food processor. DO NOT PUT HOT SOUP IN YOUR BLENDER, IT WILL EXPLODE.
  4. When broth is thickened, add chicken and green mixture from blender.  Mix to combine, and taste for salt. Adjust as needed.


Nana's Easter Bread

We are looking forward to carrying on our Easter Traditions of making Easter Bread and Cherry Cheese Bread for Easter this weekend. You can see in the picture of my husband and our kids below that we have been creating this yummy bread for our family for a long time. Our daughters will be making bread in their homes in La Jolla and Brooklyn and made me realize that while I have spoken about our traditions here on this blog, I have not recorded the recipe for Nana's Easter Bread. So here it is! Happy Spring to everyone~


For the Dough
  • 4-5 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 package active dry yeast

  • ½ cup granulated sugar

  • ¾ cup whole milk, warmed

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup butter, plus 2 tablespoons melted for top of bread before baking

  • 3 eggs, room temperature

  • ¼ teaspoon grated orange peel

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • ¼ cup whole milk

  •  Sprinkles


  • Mix 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast in bowl of electric mixer. 

  • Combine milk and butter in a saucepan until butter is melted and liquids are warm. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat together at medium speed for 2 minutes. 

  • Add 3 eggs, orange rind, nutmeg plus another 1 cup of flour to make a thick batter. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Change to dough hook and stir in enough additional flour to make soft dough that is no longer sticky. 

  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turn in the bowl so the top is greased and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  • Punch down dough and divide into two equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 24” rope. Twist two ropes together and loosely form into a ring on a greased baking sheet. Brush with melted butter.


Ratatouille with Fresh Farmer's Market Vegetables

Even though ratatouille seems like a fall dish, all the fresh ingredients included in this recipe can be found in farmer's markets now. I revisited this method of making ratatouille that I made last summer and it's just as amazing the second time around!

Clink this link to find recipe: Ratatouille


Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta a la Ina

Need a delicious appetizer for your next gathering with friends using fresh tomatoes and basil? Try this awesome Ina recipe!

 Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta

  • 6 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • 2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, ½-inch-diced
  • 3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
  • 20 to 25 (½-inch-thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.  

For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you’re serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and - teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.

To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.



Cherry Cheese Bread

Our family has a tradition of enjoying delicious Cherry Cheese and Easter Bread every Easter. My husband, Jeff, grew up relishing these wonderful treats that his mom, Marie, made every year. He has carried on the tradition by carefully making the dough and baking them like his mom did. And this year, our daughter who lives in Brooklyn, will be carrying on the tradition and sharing it with her boyfriend's family on the East coast!

Cherry Cheese Bread without Sprinkles

Bread Ingredients
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk (meaning hot, just before boiling)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted butter (or margarine)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 4 1/2 – 5 cups flour
Filling Ingredients
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 21-oz can of cherry pie filling
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
Frosting Ingredients
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons of milk
  • Sprinkles or nuts for on top, if desired

  • Combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl.  Stir minimally but enough to help dissolve the yeast. 
  • Scald the milk in a saucepan or in the microwave (really hot but just before boiling) and then add in the butter until it’s completely melted.
  • Pour into bowl and then add sugar and salt.  Mix to combine and let the mixture cool a bit.  
  • Then add 2 slightly beaten eggs, yeast mixture, and 2 cups of flour, mixing slowly as you add each one.  If using a heavy duty mixer, mix for 3 minutes with a paddle.  (If you’re mixing by hand or using a hand mixer, mix really well until very well blended.) 
  • Switch to a dough hook, add 2 more cups of flour, a little at a time and beat your dough another 5-7 minutes.  (If kneading by hand, knead until really well combined……could take up to 10 minutes.)  If the dough is not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add another 1/2 cup of flour (or if  you’re kneading by hand and it just keeps sticking to your hands). 
  • Grease the inside of a large bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a small towel and let rise in warm spot for 1.5 hours, or until double in size.
  • Punch down the dough with your hands and then divide into 2 even balls.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  
  • While resting, blend the cream cheese and powdered sugar for filling until smooth. Add orange peel to cherry filling.
  • Roll dough into two rectangles 15"x6" and spread 1/2 of the cheese filling into a 3 inch strip down the center of the dough, then top with 1/2 of cherry pie filling.  
  • Make 2 inch cuts 1/2 inch apart on long sides. Criss cross strips over filling.  
  • Use 2 spatulas to carefully lift the bread onto the back side of greased or parchment covered large cookie sheet. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. 
  • Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, covering with foil for the last few minutes if it starts to get too brown.
  • Combine frosting ingredients and mix until smooth. Drizzle on top of breads and finish with sprinkles (if using). Let frosting set for at least 30 minutes before covering with plastic wrap or it will stick.

    Cherry Cheese Bread with Sprinkles