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


Italian Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup

My husband is a huge fan of hot Italian sausage so he loved this flavorful soup.  If you do not care for hot (or pork) sausage, you could use a mild Italian turkey or chicken sausage and it would be delicious. The green touch of kale makes it earthy and healthy!


1 pound Italian Sausage or turkey sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped medium onion
2 large carrots, cut into rounds
2 celery stalks, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves cut into bite size pieces
2 (15.5 ounce) white beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up sausage as it browns, approximately 6 minutes. Use slotted spoon to remove sausage to plate lined with paper towels.

Return pot to medium-high and add onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until onions and garlic are softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth, water, Italian season and sausage and bring to boil. Reduce to sinmmer and cook over medium until carrots and celery are tender, about 6 minutes. Add kale and beans and cook until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes.

Seat with salt and pepper and serve with a drizzle of oil and Parmesan cheese.


Minestrone Soup with Farro

Although the rainy deluge in California seems to have paused, the weather has become cold for those of us who are spoiled by relatively slight changes in temperature. Soup is the perfect antidote for these chilly days! Minestrone usually includes small pasta, but this delicious soup calls for farro instead, which provides healthy fiber in addition to all the tasty vegetables. 

Minestrone Soup with Farro

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 zucchini, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 15 ounce can cannellini beans

8.8 ounces quick cook farro (Trader Joe's carries the perfect size bag)

1 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth 

parmesan cheese and chopped basil for garnish

Heat oil in dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion for 5 minutes until a little soft. Add celery and carrots and saute for 3 more minutes then add garlic for one more minute. Add farro, beans tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer. Cook for  15 minutes until farro is tender, then add zucchini and simmer for 5 more minutes until the zucchini is soft but not mushy.

Serve with parmesan and fresh basil. Enjoy!

Recipe inspiration here


Smashed Balsamic Parmesan Mushrooms

We served these mushrooms as an appetizer along with crudite and Dip with a Zip before our Thanksgiving feast and they were a hit! They are relatively easy to make, have a unique taste and are a one bite tasty nugget! You'll be amazed how quickly they go.


1 pound large mushrooms (12-14)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven: preheat to 450°F.

Wipe mushrooms clean and trim stems flush with caps. Score a 1/4-inch X across the cap of each mushroom. Mix oil, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper in large bowl; toss mushrooms in bowl until the oil is absorbed. Arrange the mushrooms, stem-side down, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast on the lower rack until browned and very soft, 18 to 20 minutes.
When the mushrooms are done roasting, remove them from the oven and turn the broiler to high. Turn the mushrooms stem-side up on the pan and use the bottom of a mason jar or sturdy glass to flatten each mushroom. Drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle with Parmesan. Broil on the upper rack until the mushrooms are crisped on the edges and the cheese has melted,1-3 minutes. Check on them-the cheese can burn quickly!

Recipe inspiration here


Swiss Chard, Mushroom and Herb Galette

The fall weather in California has been spectacular with lots of sunny days and cool nights. We had friends over for cocktails on our deck recently to take advantage of our beautiful dry days. A hearty galette, cheese and meat board and some crudite made the perfect appetizers. Our friends brought all the fixin's for Old Fashioned Cocktails and we had a grand time together!

1 prepared pie dough
1 cup ricotta
4 ounces cremini mushrooms thinly sliced
1 garlic clove
1 bunch swiss chard, center stem removed and chopped into bite size pieces
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup herbs, such as parsley, chives, dill
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season ricotta with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Ass mushrooms; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic for about 30 seconds, add chard tossing until wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper.

Place pie dough on baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Spread 3/4 of ricotta over dough, leaving 1 1/2 inch border. Top with chard, then mushrooms. Dollop remaining ricotta over vegetables. Bring edges of dough over filling to create border and brush with egg. 

Toss herbs with lemon juice and remaining 1 T oil and top galette.

Recipe inspiration here


Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup

 My favorite season is upon us... soup season!  While this soup is one of my daughters' favorites, unfortunately they are not here to enjoy it. I love a flavorful soup that comes together quickly and doesn't require chopping and sautéing. And it makes your kitchen smell heavenly!  


8 cups chicken broth
1 pound sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 can bamboo shoots (8 ounces), drained (optional, but gives a great crunch)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 soy sauce
2 teaspoons ground ginger 
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs, whisked
8 ounces firm tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

Set aside 1/4 cup of chicken broth for later.

Add the remaining chicken broth, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and chili garlic sauce to large stock pot. Heat over medium-high heat until soup reaches a simmer.

While soup is heating, whisk together 1/4 cup chicken broth and cornstarch in bowl until smooth. Once soup has reached a simmer, stir in cornstarch mixture and stir for 1 minute until soup has thickened.

Continue stirring soup in circular motion, then drizzle in the eggs in a thin stream to creat egg ribbons. Stir in the tofu, half the green onions and sesame oil. Add more vinegar to make soup more "sour" and/or more chili paste to make soup more "hot".

Garnish with green onions and enjoy!

* Recipe inspiration here


Greek Chicken Skewer Appetizers

We love having friends over to enjoy dinner together at the table on our deck, but sometimes it is fun to have "heavy" appetizers and call it simple meal! These mini chicken skewers provide flavorful protein bites that are delicious pared with Mini Potato Appetizers and Stuffed Mushrooms (click links for recipes). 


1/2 green bell pepper, cut into small pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into small pieces
4 chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

Marinade for chicken:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

  • Combine all ingredients in gallon ziplock bag.  Add chicken pieces and marinate for at least 2 hours to overnight.
  • Soak short bamboo skewers in water. 
  • Drain chicken from the marinade. Thread a piece of green bell pepper, then chicken, then yellow and red pepper. Grill over medium grill for 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through.
  • Enjoy!

The skewers ready to be grilled


Meal for a Friend in Need

When my babies were newly born many years ago, I remember how much prepared dinners brought to us by friends meant to my husband and me in our first days of absolute wonder and minimal sleep. Our sweet neighbors just had a darling baby boy and I wanted to bring them the gift of a ready-to-eat meal while they enjoyed their first few days of new parenthood awe before their own parents arrived to assist. This Greek inspired menu was perfect and easy to package with disposable foil containers. 
My girlfriends joined me at my house shortly after I dropped off the dinner for my lovely neighbors and since I made a big batch, my friends and I were able to enjoy the rest of this delicious meal together on my deck!

Greek Souvlaki Skewers

¼ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into bite-sized pieces

Prepare kabobs: Combine olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, and salt in a large resealable bag. Add chicken, coat with the marinade, squeeze out excess air and seal the bag; marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Soak wooden skewers in a bowl of cold water for about 15 minutes. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate.
Remove chicken from marinade and thread onto the soaked skewers. Discard unused marinade.
Cook the skewers on the preheated grill, turning frequently until browned on all sides and chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side. Serve with tzatziki sauce.

Greek-Style Lemon Potatoes With Garlic and Oregano

3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch cubes

1/3 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1½ teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ cup chicken stock

2 lemons freshly squeezed juice

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place the potatoes in a single layer in a 9 x 13 " baking dish and pour the oil over them. Add the garlic, dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste and toss well to coat with the oil.

Bake the potatoes for 15 minutes. Add the stock, toss and bake for 10 minutes more. Add the lemon juice, toss and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the potatoes are cooked through. If you like, preheat the broiler and broil the potatoes for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

recipe adapted from Epicurious


1 hothouse cucumber

1 red pepper, large diced

1 yellow pepper, large diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halve

½ pound feta, diced

½ cup kalamata olives

For Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ cup good olive oil

Place cucumber, peppers and tomatoes in a large bowl. For the vinaigrette, whisk together garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Still whisking, add olive oil slowly to emulsify. Pour vinaigrette over vegetables. Add feta and olives and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve room temp.

recipe from Ina Garten

Chocolate Chip Cake Cookie Bars

1 box yellow cake mix

1/3 cup melted butter

2 large eggs, whisked

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13" pan. Combine cake mix, butter, eggs and vanilla in large bowl. Add chocolate chips and mix until combined.

Scoop dough into pan, press down even with a piece of parchment paper. Dough is a bit stiff.

Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool in pan 15 minutes then slice into squares.

The note of instructions I included with the dinner~

Dinner for New Parents Cindy and Rob 

Congrats on the arrival of baby Alex!

August 9, 2022



  • NAAN (heat at 400 degrees for 2-3 minutes until warm)




Enjoy chicken souvlaki skewers with tzatziki sauce, and greek salad with cut pieces of warmed naan and potatoes on the side.

You can also serve the chicken souvlaki skewers wrapped, like a sandwich. Spread some tzatziki sauce on the warmed naan and top with the chicken souvlaki, greek salad and potatoes and wrap. Enjoy!

I'm so thankful for dear girlfriends!