Tasty Appetizer

Carrot Dip

At our summer home in Tahoe, we seem to have a lot of last minute visitors. Which means I am often scrambling to put together a quick appetizer for the cocktail hour.

One item I always seem to have on hand is carrots. I buy them at the farmers’ market in Truckee and they are simply delicious raw. But, in this recipe we are steaming them and adding some key spices: cumin and Aleppo pepper. Of course, if you do not have Aleppo pepper on hand, red chili flakes make an easy substitute.

You will need to steam the carrots and then process them in a food processor or blender. Also, a spice grinder or old coffee grinder is useful for grinding the cumin and caraway seeds. It’s easy and delicious and incredibly nutritious.

•1.5 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
•1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
•3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground
•1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
•3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
•Kosher salt to taste
•Pita chips, chopped veggies etc.

Take peeled and sliced carrots and place them in a steamer tray in a large pot and add just enough water. Bring water to a gentle boil and steam carrots for 10-15 minutes. Once the carrots are soft, remove steamer from pot. Place carrots, spices, lemon juice and a good pinch of salt in the food processor. Process well and then pour in olive oil while the machine is running. You may have to remove the lid and push the carrots around and process again to achieve a smooth but still somewhat chunky consistency. Taste and add salt or more lemon juice if necessary.

Serve with homemade pita chips, crackers or raw vegetables – red bell pepper, cucumber or celery. Get your cocktail and you are ready!

Gazpacho All Summer Long


Hope you are all having a wonderful summer. We are enjoying some lazy days in Truckee, California where the local produce is incredibly fresh and delicious.

Last summer we were fortunate to spend a little time in Spain. One of our favorite dishes to taste at each little eating spot was gazpacho. There are several ways to make it – even some with watermelon. But, today I will stick to the basics and share with you a classic gazpacho that is super refreshing.

A few tips – use a blender. The soup will be much smoother and luscious. Make the garnishes – this is key. They add so much to the flavor and texture of the soup. Trust me you will miss them if they are not there.


  • 2 pieces of good quality bread, crusts remove, divided
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated on a Microplane
  • 2.5 pounds organic tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 organic English cucumber, divided
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil, divided

To prepare garnishes: Take 1 piece of bread and cut up into small cubes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a sauté pan. When the oil is moderately hot, add bread and cook until golden and crispy, about 5-7 minutes and set aside. Also, use about 1/3 of cucumber for garnish. Peel this piece of cucumber and remove seeds if necessary. Finely chop and set aside.

To prepare the soup: Take 1 piece of bread and add 2 tablespoons water. Let it absorb the water and then squeeze out the water. Place 1/2 the amount of bread, tomatoes, garlic, cucumber, salt, sugar, vinegar in a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into a large bowl and repeat with the remaining ingredients. THAT’S IT! Serve soup and garnish with chopped bell peppers, cucumbers and bread croutons.

Hope you enjoy this recipe and your summer. See you in the kitchen soon!

Souping the new Juicing



At the start of the new year I was feeling a bit heavy. Since I am not a big juicer, I decided to do a cleanse but with food. I made a huge pot of this soup (2 times the recipe) on Monday and ate it everyday for lunch. Within a week I felt much lighter and realized you really do not need to juice to cleanse. Of course I did cut out caffeine and sugar, but eating soup filled me up and I did not feel as if I were depriving myself of food. Whether you are trying to cleanse or not, this is a delicious soup and very nourishing.

Zucchini and Fennel Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel, diced
4-6 zucchini trimmed and diced
1 large onion, diced
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
2-3 cups water
2 tablespoons of cream or butter (optional)

  1. In a small stock pot, heat olive oil. Add diced fennel, onion and fennel seeds with a pinch of salt. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add zucchini and cook another 5 minutes. Add water and bring to a strong simmer. Cover and reduce heat and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. To puree soup, remove any extra broth with a ladle and reserve. Use an immersion blender to puree vegetables. Add back the set aside liquid to reach the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Add cream or butter if using.

Serves 2


College Bound Cooking: Great Kids, Great Cooking

Caesar SaladCaesar Salad

This was a very fun class where everyone got really hands-on. This dish is easy for all cooks and my teenagers just love it!

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Homemade Croutons

  • 1.5 cups of Italian bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 chicken breasts with skin and on the bone
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ clove garlic, grated on a Microplane
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk (use fresh eggs or omit)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 small heads of romaine lettuce, washed and torn or cut into large piece
  1. To prepare croutons, place bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven until just golden. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. To prepare chicken, preheat oven to 425. Line rimmed backing sheet with foil. Salt and pepper chicken breasts and rub with olive oil. Place on baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes, or until digital thermometer registers 150 degrees. Let meat rest at least 15 minutes before removing skin and bones. Shred into bite size pieces.
  3. To prepare dressing, place garlic, mustard, anchovy paste, lemon juice and egg yolk in a large bowl. Whisk well. Add ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon freshly grounded black pepper. Drizzle and whisk in about ½ cup of olive oil. Add in parmigiano-reggiano and set aside.
  4. Add romaine lettuce and croutons to the dressing. Mix well. Serve plates and top with chicken. Serve with more parmigianno-reggiano and freshly ground pepper. Serves 4


Just a few of my favorite things


These tools are just a few of my favorite things in the kitchen. They are great as a stocking stuffer or as a hostess gift to great cooks or even those cooks who might need a little help in the kitchen. I promise you they will thank you for a gift that they can actually use!  Sometimes I even travel with them.  The only item that stays behind is the wood cutting board. But if I could take it with me, trust me, I would.

Chicken Soup NOW!

Tortilla Soup Well, the flu season has arrived to our house. Everyone is dropping like flies and I have made chicken soup 3 times this week alone. While I love making chicken soup with homemade broth, at times like these you have got to move fast. So, this week I mastered the art of making 2 kinds of chicken soup in 30 minutes. I don’t even buy chicken soup in a can. I can’t bear it. But, I do buy organic low-sodium chicken broth. I have it in the house at all times. With it, I can make a variety of things, but it is essential to making a decent bowl of soup when you are in a pinch. I personally like Trader Joe’s Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth, but use what you like. Here are two recipes you can use to nourish your family and friends back to health!

Traditional Chicken Soup

2 leeks, halved horizontally, and sliced
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound, chicken breast sliced up into small bite size pieces
2 quarts low sodium organic chicken broth
2 carrots, peeled, halved and sliced
1 cup of organic basmati rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Himalayan Sea Salt for finishing

In a small pot, heat up 2 cups of water. Once boiling add rice, 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. When the water returns to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover pot. Let rice cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, in a medium to large size pot, place 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sliced leeks. Reduce the heat to low and cover pot. Cook for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add carrots and cook for another 5 minutes.

While the rice, leeks and carrots are cooking, you can sauté the chicken. Season chicken with Kosher salt. In a non-stick pan heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chicken pieces and sauté until just cooked. You may have to do this in two batches. Set aside.

Now, let’s put it all together. Add broth to the leeks. Bring broth to a boil and add chicken pieces. Season with Himalayan Sea Salt which contains lots of minerals.
In a bowl, place a heaping spoonful of rice and ladle in chicken soup. I keep the rice and chicken soup separate so that the rice does not over cook in the broth. Of course, you can add more veggies – strips of kale, cabbage or spinach.

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Great soup for colds!)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound, chicken breast sliced up into small bite size pieces
2 quarts low sodium organic chicken broth
1 bag frozen organic corn
12 ounces tomatillo salsa (fresh store bought or homemade)
12 ounces tomato salsa (fresh store bought or homemade)
6 ounces tortilla chips
Kosher salt
Himalayan Sea Salt for finishing
Avocado, small bites (optional)

This is very simple. In a medium to large pot, heat up broth and add corn. Once the corn has cooked for 5-7 minutes, add the salsas.

Meanwhile, season chicken with Kosher salt. In a non-stick pan heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chicken pieces and sauté until just cooked. You may have to do this in two batches. Add chicken to broth and season with salt if necessary. Ladle soups into bowls and add tortilla chips and avocado. Now  that is quick.

Make the oven do the work!

Getting dinner on the table is tough for everyone. For those of you who get to work from home full-time or even part-time, you have a great opportunity to get a jump start on dinner. And, I do not mean standing at the stove and cooking. I mean put your oven on dinner duty while you simultaneously get your own work done.

Every time I sit down at my computer, I know I will be there for at least an hour. During that hour, I put my oven to work. I roast everything. From sugar plum tomatoes to eggplant to asparagus to potatoes. There’s not a vegetable that has not been roasted on a sheet pan in this house.

Tonight we are having a homemade Caesar salad with grilled flat iron steak and roasted thyme tomatoes and mushrooms. By making my vegetables while I am writing this blog, all I have to do when I get home at 6:00 pm is grill the steak on my cast iron griddle and make the dressing — a total of 15 minutes from start to finish.

To roast, I usually set the oven at 400 degrees. I place chopped up vegetables on  sheet pan (I use sheet pans everyday and they are the fastest way to cook anything in the oven) and drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. I often season the vegetables with thyme, rosemary or oregano. The vegetables will take approximately 20-30 minutes depending on the vegetable. I set the timer at 10-15 minute intervals in order to keep an eye on the veggies. So, do yourself a favor — make that oven work — it’s just sitting there waiting for you to turn it on!


Eating Light after a Hard Day’s Night

How many times have you woken up on a Monday and said, I need to eat light today. But, that does not mean we should not eat. Which is sometimes what we do because we are under the impression that making healthy, light meals takes time. Well, here is my cheat. A couple of times a week I make this lunch for myself. It takes 5 minutes to prepare. Even though it is a light meal, its fills me up and I feel nourished. And, when I am really crazed and don’t have enough time to prepare dinner, I serve it to my family with brown rice noodles. Trust me, once you try my short cut Pho, you will be hooked.

Healthy Serving for One Person

2 cups low sodium organic chicken broth (I use Trader Joe’s)
3 ounces, chicken breast chopped up into small bite size pieces
1 small garlic clove, grated on a microplane
2 green onions, sliced thinly
2 cups chopped kale, cabbage and/or thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (or Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Salad Mix)
Himalayan sea salt to taste (contains lots of minerals)
Siracha sauce and torn mint leaves

To make, bring chicken broth to a boil. When it is boiling, drop is green onions, chicken and reduce broth to a simmer. Add in garlic and 2 cups veggies. Add salt to taste. The chicken cooks in 2 minutes.

Place in a bowl and add Siracha sauce and torn mint leaves. Lunch is served.