Breakfast · Recipes · Travel

Breakfast in Cabo

We had a grand time in Cabo celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary!

Sorry for the delay in posts, we were too busy doing nothing.  Almost nothing.  We did go to breakfast every morning, and then lounge poolside, a little water aerobics, lunch poolside, a cadillac margarita or two (or three), and then to dinner, with a few spa treatments sprinkled in.

Sunshine ordered the banana french toast the first morning of our vacation at Siempre, the restaurant at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Holistic Retreat and Spa.  It was actually two slices of banana bread with a layer of bananas in between.  This is how we will try to recreate it at home:

Banana French Toast

  • Banana bread, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • Cream cheese
  • Bananas, sliced into thin rounds
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum, I like Meyers
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, it’s gotta be mexican for me
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Maple syrup

Spread 2 slices of banana bread with a thin layer of cream cheese.  Sandwich banana slices between the cream cheese side of two slices of banana bread.  Mix eggs, milk, rum, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg together.  Add banana bread sandwiches to the egg mixture, turning to coat.  Remove excess egg mixture.

Preheat a large skillet over low heat, and add 1 tablespoon of butter at a time.  Once butter has melted, add the banana french toast to the skillet and cook 2 minutes per side.

Remove from pan and garnish with additional banana slices, drizzle with maple syrup.

I ordered the chilaquiles almost every morning, when in Rome, right?

We shared this fruit platter, the papaya was my favorite, with a squeeze of lime.

Lounging poolside.

Water aerobics class!  Working up an appetite…

Cadillac margarita please!  Charge it to once treinta cinco por favor.

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica es muy bonito.

Muy bonito!

A view from our room.

The fantasy suite.

Main Dish · Pasta · Recipes · Vegetarian

a new house, a homecoming, and stuffed shells

Toy and Sondi got the keys to their new house while Toy was out of town for work last week .  We had to wait for her to come home before we could celebrate.

And then there is the tradition of the going away dinner and the welcome home dinner for whoever happens to be  traveling, in this case it was Toy.  Sondi made blue cheese stuffed burgers for Toy’s going away dinner.  I volunteered to make the stuffed shells for her welcome home dinner.

You could make your own marinara sauce, and mozarella, and ricotta if you really wanted to for this dish.  I’ll do that next time.  Maybe.

Stuffed Shells with Marinara Sauce

  • 1-28 ounce jar of marinara (Rao’s is my favorite)
  • 1 box jumbo shells
  • 2 pounds whole milk ricotta
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 egg yolks
  • salt and pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup grated whole milk mozzarella

Add the pasta to a stock pot of salted boiling water and cook for 6 minutes.

Combine the ricotta, parmigiano reggiano, nutmeg, and egg yolks.  Fold in the basil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add 1/3 of the jar of marinara to a 12X9″ baking dish.  Fill the shells with the ricotta mixture.  Top with remaining marinara, mozzarella and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Toy and Sondi’s new house.

Woohooo!!!  The champagne was mighty fine…

Main Dish · Pasta · Recipes

Make your own lasagna

Our really good friends, Danielle and Paul, came for dinner on Saturday.  We love the make your own pizza parties, and have done build your own polenta parties.  We wanted to make pasta, and thought it would be fun to assemble your own lasagna.  We made the  tomato bruschetta, and used that as a sauce, along with the  vegetable bolognese, both from previous posts. We had sausage, a ricotta and spinach mixture, chopped hard boil egg, parmesan, mozzarella, and broccolini to fill our pasta.

Danielle and Paul brought an amazing antipasto from Monte Carlo Deli to start off the evening.

They also brought a fabulous Brunello di Moltacino… incredible bottle of wine.

Sunshine made the pasta using the recipe from our cooking class in Italy.

Check out chef Helene Stoquelet from Ristorante La Bottega del 30, and our instructor at Scuola di Cucina.  That’s a very long sheet of pasta!

Fresh Pasta dough

  • 1 pound 00 flour
  • 5 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Make a well in the center of the flour.  Add eggs, salt and oil.  With a fork, begin mixing liquids with the flour.  Then knead together with your hands, until well blended and dough is smooth and slightly moist to the touch, about 10 minutes.  Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.  Roll out the dough and cut into desired shape.  Add to salted boiling water for about 5 minutes, depending on how thick you’ve rolled out the dough.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  So a video must be worth a whole lot more.

Paul and Danielle’s lasagna, ready to bake.

I had a really good time.

OMG.  How do I sign up for a self cleaning kitchen?

Main Dish · Pasta · Recipes · Vegetarian

Vegetable Bolognese

I love porcini mushrooms, and they are the star of this vegetable bolognese.  I bought my dried porcinis in San Francisco at the Ferry Building.  I used the last of them for this dish.  Now I’ll have to go back for more.  The recipe from  Giada De Laurentiis is awesome.  I added a lot more porcini than was called for.  I didn’t have tomato paste, so I replaced it with pureed sundried tomatoes.  I also added more wine.  Here is the recipe with the original quantities.

Vegetable Bolognese

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 ounces mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

Rehydrate mushrooms in hot water until softened.

Place vegetables in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Add mushrooms and pulse to combine.

Heat olive oil in a large pan.  Saute vegetables along with thyme and oregano for 6 minutes.

Add tomato paste and wine, and continue to cook for 1o minutes.  Add mascarpone cheese and serve over pasta.

Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Vegetarian

Bruschetta al Pomodoro

Stephanie and Peter are off to Italy.  Luck outs.  They should be in Sienna by now.

We were in Sienna a few years ago for Danielle and Paul’s wedding.  What a glorious time we had.  The wedding was beyond amazing, set right in the heart of the wine country.

We stayed in an “apartment”.  It was the most amazing apartment, with a cypress lined driveway.

We had dinner at La Bottega del 30, and loved it so much we wanted to go back again the next day.  We couldn’t because they were closed for their cooking school.  Of course we took the class, and this bruschetta was one of the dishes we made.

Sunshine was the super star of the class.  He’s using a mezzaluna knife to chop the nettles used for our pasta.

Bruschetta al Pomodoro

  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 slices country-style bread
  • salt and pepper

Cut an “X” at the bottom of each tomato.  Drop into boiling water for a few seconds, until the skin starts to pull away from the tomato.  Remove tomatoes from water and peel.  Remove seeds and dice.

Place tomatoes in a bowl, along with garlic, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Grill bread and serve topped with tomato mixture.

Grape vines outside of our apartment.

What a beautiful sunset.

This was taken at the Duomo in Sienna.

My handsome photographer.

Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Recipes

Salted Caramel Cheesecake

These little cheesecakes are so easy to make.  I especially love the fact that they are so small, which makes them almost guilt free.  Well…they are small….

I found this recipe at Food & Wine, I’ve made a few adjustments according to my oven and stove top, but the ingredients remain the same.   Here it goes..

Salted Caramel Cheesecake


  • 1/2 pound cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  • 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup plus tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 heavy cream
  • Fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth.  Beat in one egg at a time, adding the next egg only after the previous egg has been fully incorporated.  Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to remove any ingredients that are stuck to bowl.  Pour the batter into six 5-ounce ramekins.

Set the ramekins in a pan, adding enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat and leave cheesecakes in the oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and set ramekins on a rack, cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the caramel: In a medium saucepan, cook corn syrup and sugar over moderate heat, undisturbed, until a deep amber caramel begins to form, about 6-7 minutes.  Keep an eye on your caramel, it can burn quickly.  Remove from heat, and whisk in the butter.  Once the butter is incorporated, add cream slowly, whisking vigorously.

Transfer to a pitcher, add a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

Pour caramel over cheesecake, swirl to coat.

Refrigerate cheesecakes for 3 hours or up to 2 days.

Sunshine is a jungle gym.