Cocktails · Recipes

Heather’s Basil Martini

Heather made her fabulous basil martinis at Silvia’s birthday party last night. Her basil martini is a beautiful thing, bright and refreshing, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Heather’s Basil Martini


  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of agave nectar or count to 12 fast while pouring
  • 3 shots of Grey Goose vodka
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lime

Muddle the basil leaves with a morter and pestal.

Add ice, basil, vodka, agave, and lime juice to a martini shaker.

Shake it like it’s hot.

Pour into 2 chilled martini glasses. Happy birthday Lefty!

Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Side Dish · Vegetarian

Braised Artichoke Bottoms

You’ve got to really love someone a lot to make these artichokes for them.  To say they are for special occasions ONLY is an understatement.

Here are a couple of suggestions before you dive into this recipe:

1/  Make sure you’ve had a full night’s rest prior to making these artichokes.

2/  Limit your alcohol consumption the day before.

3/  Do not attempt to make these on a hot day while wearing sweat pants.  (It is okay to make on a hot day, but dress appropriately, for the love of God!)

Braised artichoke bottoms

  • 6 artichokes
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade

Trim artichokes, remove stems and choke, leaving the artichoke bottom only.  Rub with lemon as you go.

Mash garlic and salt together, rub some of the paste onto the top of the artichoke bottoms and place upside down in a 12″ saute pan.  Add water, olive oil, the rest of the garlic paste, and  lemon half.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove artichoke bottoms from the pan, sprinkle with basil.  Bring the braising liquid to a boil, and reduce to 1/4 cup, whisking to emulsify.  Drizzle over artichoke bottoms.  Serve at room temperature.

Paige loves artichoke leaves.

Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Recipes

Carrot Cake

I’ve been making this cake for at least 20 years. Everyone says baking is an exact science. I disagree, at least when it comes to this recipe.  The measurements don’t need to be that precise.

It’s Peter’s birthday!  You’re almost as old as me:)

Carrot Cake

  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup corn oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican vanilla
  • 1 pound carrots, cooked, purée
  • 1-8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 ounces shredded coconut

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1-8 ounce block of cream cheese
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients. Add oil, eggs and vanilla, mix to combine. Add carrot purée, pineapple and coconut.
Place in 2-10″ round cake pans lined with parchment. Do not Butter and flour the pan. You actually want the cake to cling to the sides of the pan to ensure straight sides to the cake. I like to use baking strips . The top of the cake stays flat, and the sides do not overcook. Bake for 35 minutes. I tap the cake in the oven, if it jiggles, it needs to continue baking. Cool on a wire rack, then wrap the pan in foil until ready to frost. That usually means the next day for me.

To make the cream cheese frosting:
Cream butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle until smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar.
Frost the cake, refrigerate overnight.

Dessert · Healthy · Recipes

Spiced Red Wine-Poached Pears

This was a nice and light way to finish our dinner.  I served them with a little dollop of whipped cream.  Maybe I’ll try serving this with a wedge of blue cheese next time, or maybe along side a yogurt  and vanilla bean panna cotta.

Spiced Red Wine-Poached Pears

  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 (1 by 3-inch) strip orange zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 4 firm, ripe pears

In a 4 quart saucepan, combine wine, sugar, orange juice and zest, cinnamon stick and cloves.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  While simmering, peel pears, leaving stem end intact.  Gently place pears in poaching liquid, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, turning often to ensure even color, until pears are cooked but still firm.  Uncover and cool with pears upright in pan.  Once cool, cover and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.  Remove pears from liquid and allow to come to room temperature.  Meanwhile, reduce liquid by half over medium-high flame for 15 minutes, until liquid is thicker and slightly syrupy.  Drizzle each pear with syrup and serve.

Sunshine got his new camera today!  Where’s Waldo…?

Healthy · Main Dish · Pasta · Recipes · Salad

Red cabbage for a buck

Veronica and I went to the farmer’s market Saturday morning.  We haven’t been in a while, so we really loaded up.

It’s kind of unbelievable how much stuff can fit in my little smart car.  Well, and on top too.

VJ bought a couple of zucchini from one of the farmers at the market and paid 2 bucks.  That is a ridiculous price to pay, it’s too much!  I bought a full head of red cabbage for a buck and knew just what to do with it.

I LOVE this pasta dish.  It’s awesome with a refreshing salad of arugula, radicchio, radishes and thinly shaved zucchini.  I love how the crunchy raw vegetables in the salad contrast the slow cooked cabbage in the pasta dish.

Linguini with red cabbage

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces French feta
  • 1 pound linguine

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet.  Add onions, cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Add cabbage, cover and cook until cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook linguine in boiling salted water until al dente.

Toss cabbage with pasta, season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to serving bowls, top with feta and serve.

Arugula, radicchio, zucchini and radish salad



zucchini, thin slice

radishes, thin slice

parmigiano-reggiano, shavings

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Season salt and pepper to taste

Slice the radishes, shave the zucchini and chop the radicchio.

Combine olive oil and lemon juice.  Season with season salt and pepper.

Combine arugula and radicchio, toss with some of the olive oil and lemon juice.  Add to the serving dish

Toss the vegetables with the dressing.  Place on top of the arugula and radicchio.  Garnish with parmigiano-reggiano shavings.

Main Dish · Recipes

Pork Tenderloin with Arugula, Prosciutto and Tomatoes

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have won Top Chef with this dish, but it was still tasty.

I had a lot of tomatoes that I needed to use up from the garden.   I also couldn’t decide on the fingerling potatoes or cauliflower, so I made both.  I love the cauliflower roasted, and the potatoes are awesomely rustic mashed with a fork.  The combination worked, with minimal effort.

Pork Tenderloin with Arugula, Prosciutto and Tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pork tenderloin, cut into 1″ medallions
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 7 ounces of wild baby arugula
  • 1 pound tomatoes
  • Fingerling Potatoes
  • Cauliflower florets
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Parmesan to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with a light dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.  Bake, cover for 30 minutes.  Uncover and back for an additional 30 minutes.

Toss fingerling potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, and mash with the back of a fork.   Sprinkle with parmesan and drizzle with olive oil.

Cut pork into medallions.

Chop tomatoes and mince garlic.

In a large skillet, heat oil.  Add garlic and prosciutto and cook over moderate heat, until garlic is lightly browned.  Remove from pan.

Saute medallions over medium-high heat until well browned on each side.  Remove from pan, and tent with foil to keep warm

Add vinegar to the pan and scrape up browned bits.  Add tomatoes, prosciutto and garlic to the pan.

Add arugula, and toss until wilted.

Transfer arugula mixture to a platter, top with pork and serve.

Nice wine.   The Sum.  Yummm.  We got this lovely gem at Amazing Grapes, Silvia and Greg’s wine store in Rancho Santa Margarita.  You’ve gotta check it out.  They have an amazing selection of wines, get it?  Just go.

Oh look!  It’s Turley again!  She’s a ate my favorite shoes, good thing she is so cute.

Main Dish · Recipes

Frito Pie is shockingly delicious

I digress.

Apparently I play both sides of the culinary field.

Melissa, my dear Texas y’all friend, introduced us to Frito Pie last night.  Sunshine wrapped production on a big project for Panasonic, so we decided to celebrate.  I made the crazy caprese salad with the balsamic “caviar”, and busted out a fabulous bottle of wine.  Then we moved on to the southern delicacy known as Frito Pie, and Shiner Bock beer.  I’m not a beer girl, but it sure hit the spot.

It was a fabulous pairing…like Sonny and Cher.  Well,  back in the day anyway.

Sonny, is that you?  Nah, it’s my Dad!!!!  Nice shirt Pops!  I would have to say you’re looking pretty groovy.

Melissa’s Frito Pie

  • 1 bag of Fritos
  • 3 cans of Hormel Chili
  • 1 bag of pre-shredded cheese
  • 1 8 ounce container of sour cream (full fat, this is no time to count calories)
  • 1 small container of crumbled blue cheese (the california twist)
  • 1/2 diced onion (optional for Melissa, but mandatory for me)

Open the cans of Hormel Chili and dump into a medium saucepan.

Melissa has done this before…

Stir until warmed through.

Place a generous amount of Fritos into individual serving bowls.

Top each bowl of Fritos with warm chili.

Add a dollop of sour cream.

Add the cheese!

Voila!  This Frito Pie really is shockingly delicious.

Try it.  I swear, you will love it.  Cheers.

Oops.  Gotta get to the gym.