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Fish Tacos:-)

So I am spending some time in Florida. The beach is just perfect and the heat is great! Lucky for me my parents have nice friends who catch fish and then send it my way! Our friends caught a bunch of trout and were nice enough to give it to me and my sister. So we thought the best thing to do, since we are staying out at the beach, would be to make a bunch of fish tacos. So that’s just what we did. It was a feast and very very delicious!

Thanks to the Howze’s for the delicious fish!!

Fish Tacos:

4 Trout fillets

Sour cream or Creme Fraiche

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce


Red onions

Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

Flour Tortillas

Black Beans


Emerils Essence or any kind of spicy rub that you like

Olive Oil

Red and Green Cabbage


White vinegar

Celery seed


Make criss crosses in the fish fillets. Rub spice on fish and drizzle with olive oil. Light a grill on high and get very hot. Put fish on the grill and turn down to medium heat. Grill on both sides about 2 minutes per side.

If you have time slice red onions and marinate for a couple of hours in red wine vinegar and sugar. If not just use the red onions without pickling them.

Mix sour cream with 1 chopped chipotle pepper and some of the Adobo sauce. Squeeze a lime into mixture.

Make black beans. I like to add a lot of garlic, onions and red wine vinegar to my black beans,

Make Cole Slaw. Mix cabbages with a little mayo, celery seed, sugar and white vinegar. Don’t put in too much mayo.

To assemble tacos put a little sour cream mixture on a flour tortilla and then add fish, pickled onions, black beans and coleslaw.

Serve with Corona:-)

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Wyatt’s Dinner

Like any parent I am concerned that my child eat healthy well balanced meals. However, I have a 3 1/2 year old with definite opinions about what to eat and what might possibly KILL him if he even takes the tiniest bite. Sigh. Dinner time can be somewhat challenging day in and day out.

One thing that usually works in our house though is risotto. I always have a big glass jar of risotto in the pantry. It is an easy go to and generally a crowd pleaser for both kids and adults. It is so easy to make and so variable that we eat a lot of risotto around here. It can easily be vegetarian, a savory side, a main or even dessert.

Tonight I made Wyatt plain risotto and I had some leftover meatballs that I cooked in chicken broth with about 1 TBS tomato paste and I threw some carrots in there and voila! Dinner.

Usually when I am making risotto for Wyatt I just use broth (chicken, beef, vegetable or whatever you have on hand), onions, butter, olive oil, a little salt and that’s it. Then i cook veggies and or meat and serve it on the side. He doesn’t like his food to “touch” the other food. The veggies usually consist of carrots and peas and meatballs is always a popular side.

Tonight his dinner took me all of 20 minutes and when he was eating he actually said “mom, you made me a good dinner tonight.” I kid you not. This from a kid who would happily consume an ice cream sunday followed by S’mores for every meal!


P.S. The next day you can make risotto balls-just form the risotto into balls and stuff with 1 small square mozzarella cheese and some ham and fry in olive oil. Or flatten balls and makes pancakes.

Risotto for kids:

2 cups dry risotto

About 6 cups liquid (broth or water)

1 sweet onion, diced

Salt and Pepper

Fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano

1TBS butter

Heat broth to boiling and then turn down to simmer. In another deep pot add olive oil and heat up (about 2 tbs) then add diced onions and saute until translucent. Add risotto and stir until olive oil is absorbed. (At this point if I am making for adults I will add 1 cup of dry white wine)

Add 1-2 ladles full of liquid and stir. When liquid is absorbed add more liquid. Continue to do this for about 20 minutes until rice is plump and tender. Add 1-2 tsps of salt and about 1 cup grated fresh parm. Add 1 Tbs butter and turn off heat and cover. Let sit about 5 mins and then serve.

This is really kid friendly risotto. If your kids are more ambitious add veggies directly to the risotto. There is really no end to the variations you can try.

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Alex’s Garden

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Wyatt and I spent the 4th of July in Nashville ,TN. at my sister Kate and brother-in-law Alex’s house. It was super fun.

My mom was there and we also got to spend time with old friends and their kids. The kids, Wyatt, Nora, Reese and Nash all had a pretty good time. We caught Fire Fly’s, fought battles on real civil war battle fields, saw fireworks and ate like there was no tomorrow. We made homemade ice-cream, had blueberry pie and peach cobbler and braised short ribs among other things. But the best thing was, most of the food we cooked was either grown in the backyard in Alex’s garden or brought over from Georgia from the Vinson family farm.

It was so great to just walk out in the backyard, fight a civil war battle (with Darth Vader of course) with Wyatt, and then pick the elements of dinner.

I really have to give Alex credit here. He has done an amazing job on the garden. I guess it helps being the 5th generation of a Georgia farming family even if he is a lawyer (haha!) and not a farmer.

Anyway, the last night I was there we made eggplant parmesan with the beautiful white eggplants he grew right in the backyard. You might think that’s a little heavy for summer, but it was just the opposite. Light, fresh and delicious!

Eggplant Parm for Summer:

For 3 people

3-4 small to medium eggplants

Kosher salt

Fresh Basil

Buffalo  mozzarella

Regular mozzarella

Parmagiano Regiano


Olive Oil

Homemade summer tomato sauce (recipe below)

Slice the eggplants into 1/4 inch rounds

Place sliced eggplants on paper towels, sprinkle with kosher salt, cover with paper towels on cover with something heavy like a cast iron skillet. Let sit for 20-25 minutes.

Put about 2 cups flour in a bowl. Season with S&P

Dredge eggplant slices in flour.

Drop into 1/4inch hot olive oil. Fry about 2 mins per side in batches. Change olive oil 1 time when halfway done. Make sure to clean out dark flour from pan and start fresh. Finish frying. Lay fried eggplants on paper towels when done.

On a cookie sheet layout eggplants and top with tomato sauce (not a lot) regular mozzarella, grated fresh parm, torn basil and then top with another slice of eggplant. Stack 3-4 high. Finish with the Buffalo mozzarella, sauce, parm and basil.

Bake at 350 for about 30 mins.

Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Summer tomato Sauce

1 28oz can tomatoes or fresh stewed tomatoes from the garden

3-4 sliced garlic cloves

3-4 fresh basil leaves


Olive oil

Saute garlic cloves in olive oil until just turning brown

Add basil leaves and saute 1 minute

Add tomatoes and S&P to taste. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let cook for 1 hour. Or turn off heat and leave all day.

Summertime Randoms

Yesterday I wrote about how I love the abundance of fruits and veggies that summertime brings. I do love it but it can also be a problem if you go a little too crazy (like me) and buy too much stuff. I cannot stand to let these summertime treats go to waste but as everyone knows you have to eat your perishables in a couple of days or bye bye fruit.

What I have been doing when I have left over fruits or veggies is a couple of different things. 1st I like to drink water. Lately I have been making all manner of fruit and veggie waters and I put it in a big water jug and leave it out on my counter and just refill my glass whenever I walk by. Yesterday I made peach/cherry water. Today it is watermelon water. You can throw your extra cucumbers or cherry tomatoes in. Or make lemon basil water. There are endless possibilities. It also looks nice and tempts you to drink more water.

The second thing I have been doing is making all kinds of pestos and tapenades. These are great to have on hand because they freeze well and then you have an instant go to for soups and sauces. You can put them in your scrambled eggs or on a sandwich or whatever. Again, endless possibilities and it really enhances your everyday food.

I recently had a bunch or Arugula micro greens leftover so I made arugula pesto and added a dollop to some veggie soup and it was delicious.

Here is the soup recipe:

6 or 8 cups chicken broth or whatever you have (homemade is preferable)

1 sweet onion-diced

Cannellini Beans

Canned whole tomatoes

Summer peas

1 clove garlic-smashed

1 parmesan cheese rind

1 handful orzo

Salt & pepper

2 Carrots-diced


Bring your broth to a boil. Add onion, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, cheese rind & salt and pepper. In a separate pot cook the orzo. When the orzo is done add the beans to the soup. Spoon orzo into individual bowls and top with the soup. Swirl a little pesto into the soup bowls and serve.

1 other tip that my good friend Margaret recently shared with me is to freeze your leftover wine and then you can use it to cook with and it won’t go to waste. I love this tip and have found it to be really useful!

Sum Sum Summertime!

I LOVE summer! I really think it should be summer all the time. That would make me very happy. For me, summer means cook-outs by the pool with family and friends, camping out at the beach all day long and surfing and playing in the water and going home all salty and tired after a great day of fun.

I also love the abundance of wonderful veggies and produce that summer brings. Living in Northern Cali I am so lucky to have local farms that produce wonderful organic fruits and veggies and I really do take advantage of it.

Today I am having a little pool party and my friends are bringing some wonderful fresh Halibut over to throw on the grill. My sister and I are making sides and dessert.

As I was wandering through our new Whole Foods in Mill Valley yesterday the very first thing that caught my eye was a table filled with wonderful summer squashes. It was beautiful and I had to buy some. I decided I would make squash casserole.

Anyone who has ever spent anytime in the south will be familiar with squash casserole. It is a staple on many southern tables throughout the summer and I love it! My favorite squash casserole is made by our family friend Shirley Ann Turner. I have asked Shirley Ann for her recipe and she has given it to me but mine honestly never tastes as good as hers. Shirley Ann also makes great pickles but that is another blog.

I have been forced to adapt my own recipe and it is pretty good but there is always room to play. I change this in little ways all the time as it is a very versatile dish.

Here is what I did today:

1 large Spring onion sliced & sauteed  in about 1 TBS bacon fat (yum bacon!)

3lbs summer squash sliced and boiled in salty water for about 5 mins

2 TBS Mayo

2TBs Sour Cream

1TBS salt

1tsp pepper (white pepper is good here)

2 tsp sugar

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

2 eggs beaten

Mix all ingredients and put in a buttered casserole dish

Top with 1 sleeve crushed butter crackers and a couple pats of butter

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 mins. Serve and enjoy!

Rachel Ray Saves the Day!

Due to some recent unpleasantness in my personal life I haven’t been cooking much lately. In fact, this week-end is the first time I’ve cooked in a month! Crazy, I know.

This morning I happened to be cleaning my room and I had the TV on but wasn’t really paying too much attention. FoodNetwork was on. I was fiddling around and only half listening. Anyway Rachel Ray came on. I am not a big fan of Rachel. Rachel the chef that is, Rachel the gazillion dollar mogul of a food empire is another story. Her I am a fan of. I think she is really smart and probably a lovely person, but usually her recipes just don’t speak to me. Someone must be listening though because just look at her amazing success. Occasionally she hits one out of the park though. Today was a homerun day.

I heard her chattering on about a meatless meal and blah blah blah…my ears perked up and I started to pay attention to what she was doing. Today she was making a vegetarian dinner.  Stuffed Zuchinni and something she was calling BLT spaghetti  for butter lettuce, leek and tomato. It all looked delicious. I decided then and there that my mom and I would be having that exact meal for dinner tonight, and boy was it a good choice.

Rachel’s recipes are posted here on the FN website:

BLT Spaghetti

Stuffed Zucchini

I basically followed her recipes. I used a lot more garlic than she did and I used Farro pasta but that is about all I changed.

The meal was so wonderful and so easy to prepare that I will definitely be making it again.

So Thank-you Rachel Ray, the dinner was just perfect.