Can I cook yet?

We’ve finally pulled the trigger on our kitchen remodel! After so many years of dreaming, months of planning and hours of pinning ideas – the remodel is ON!


Tile countertop, painted cabinets with misaligned doors, exposed hinges, ancient ceramic cook top, no hood, no counter space, jammed drawers, tiny sink, and the worst of it all…disgusting and fugly linoleum floors. This old shoebox kitchen had it all!

FryKitchenRemodel IMG_9103

Demolition was the easiest and most rewarding part. When you love cooking and do it everyday in a kitchen you have very little love for, seeing it being hammered down piece by piece is orgasmic highly enjoyable!


This kitchen was the worst part of the Fry shack and even with all the family memories we’ve made in it I was so satisfied to see it just like this…totally naked!



I’m thankful for my awesome grill and great SoCal weather which it was perfect for the first 3 weeks of the remodel. We barbecued a lot and ate in the patio. Now that the weather has cooled down, the crockpot and toaster oven have been lifesavers!

We were hoping for our kitchen to be at least useable by Thanksgiving but it looks like we’ll have to barbecue the Turkey. Keeping our fingers crossed to be able to bake cookies for Santa in our new kitchen.

Put an apron on!

I love to cook but hate to clean up. I know a lot of people identify with this statement. And I’m not only talking about the amount of clean-up I do just to prepare the meal. I’m referring to all the cleaning involved with cooking, including the clean-up waiting for me as soon as everyone has left their seats and disappeared from sight.

Cooking is messy, and splashy, sticky, and gross at times. It takes a fair amount of space, tools, planning, patience and cleaning. But then there is the flip side. Chaos precedes creation. Somehow in all the mess making I create something good. Something tasty enough to make my kids go hmmmm and that makes up for all the clean-up I did or still have to do.

Yesterday’s Chaos

The creation

Hot weather calls for cold noodles

Oriental Cold Noodles for

It’s searing hot and it has been that way for a while. The kids are perpetually cranky, the dog doesn’t know what to do with himself and even my tropical self can take this weather anymore.

Cold noodles are just perfect for lunch or dinner when the last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stove. They’re easy to cook, delicious eaten straight out of the fridge and the perfect leftover to pack in the kid’s lunchboxes.

For these recipe I used the veggies I had available (spinach, celery, tomatoes and green onions) but anything goes. The noodles were regular Barilla angel hair but it can be done with any type of noodles oriental or not.

Start by chopping the veggies and mixing it in a large bowl.

Cold Oriental Noodles for

Prepare the dressing while the noodles are cooking.

Cold Oriental Noodles for

Rinse the cooked noodles with water until cold. Mix noodles, veggies and dressing. Refrigerate for at least one hour allowing the noodles suck in all the flavors. Eat it straight out of the fridge. Repeat!

Cold Oriental Noodles
Cuisine: Fake Asian
  • For the noodles:
  • 4 cups chopped fresh raw vegetables: spinach, celery,snow peas, bell peppers, scallions
  • 16 ounces Chinese egg noodles or long pasta like linguine or angel hair
  • For the dressing:
  • 1 small garlic clove (minced or crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup (or 1 tbsp sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • Sriracha or Tabasco sauce to taste (optional)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Prepare the vegetables: wash, trim, peel as necessary and cut into sizes and shapes of your choice. Mix in a large bowl.
  2. Cook the noodles in the boiling water until tender but not mushy. When they’re done, drain and rinse with cold water. Reserve.
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  4. Toss the cold noodles and veggies; top with sauce and stir to coat.
  5. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
This dressing goes wonderfully with chopped salads too!


Slow roasted tomato relish and whipped lemon truffle ricotta crostini

Roasted Tomato Relish and whipped truffle ricotta crostini

This idea is all about the whipped ricotta. It really doesn’t matter what the topping is, because this creamy and tangy base can handle anything. I just happened to have a fresh batch of Roasted Tomato Relish and it was a dealicious topping to this easy to make appetizer. Other toppings that may work well with the whipped ricotta are: roasted pears with basil, fresh figs and walnuts, prosciutto and arugula or even smashed green peas and bacon.

This “whipped ricotta recipe” is hardly a recipe and just requires a few steps for a fluffy. I used truffle salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and  pepper with the ricotta.

Roasted Tomato Relish and whipped truffle ricotta crostini

I placed the ricotta cheese, lemon juice an truffle salt in the food processor and whipped until smooth – about 1 minute. I manually mixed the lemon zest to the whipped ricotta and started to assembled the crostini. For the crostini I used pre-sliced ciabatta bread, brushed with some olive oil and baked for 15 minutes at 380F.

Topped with the roasted tomato relish, balsamic glaze and baby basil leaves and flowers from our garden bed.

Whipped lemon truffle ricotta
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • ¼ truffle salt
  • ¼ lemon juice
  • dash of lemon zest
  1. See post for details.


Roasted Curried Cauliflower Steaks

Roasted Curried Cauliflower Steaks

Although there’s no better way to eat cauliflower than deep-fried or swimming in a creamy cheese sauce, this roasted cauliflower recipe is pretty satisfying and ‘dealicious’ (yup, this unpopular veggie is usually affordable and I’m totally surprised that it didn’t make the Gwyneth’s SNAP challenge list.)

This recipe is more of a ‘way to prepare’ than an exact recipe. If you like heat, I recommend using a hot curry powder like Madras. Try it with a splash of lime juice. The citrus highlights all the flavors and adds the perfect zing!

Start by preheating the oven at 400F. Wash the cauliflower and remove some or all of the leaves. Slice the cauliflower into 1/2 inch thick slices. And yes, you’re seeing right, I didn’t core the cauliflower and you don’t have to do it either. The core holds the florets together and tastes as good as the rest of the cauliflower to me.

Cauliflower Steaks

In a small bowl, mix the curry powder, turmeric, cardamom and salt.

Cauliflower Steaks

Place the cauliflower steaks on a non-stick baking sheet (or a baking sheet lined with foil.) Coat the steaks with refined coconut oil (it can be substituted with olive oil or any oil of your choice) on both sides. Sprinkle the spice mix on both sides.

Cauliflower Steaks

Roast it 15-20 minutes each side. I broiled each side an additional 2 minutes just to give the florets a bit of a sexy tan. This step is totally optional.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower Steaks
  • 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon mild curry powder
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Wash the cauliflower and shake it dry.
  2. Cut the cauliflower in long slices, about ½ inch thick.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the spices.
  4. Spread steaks in a single layer in a large non stick baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with foil.
  5. Coat the cauliflower steaks with the coconut oil on both sides and sprinkle the spice mix generously also on both sides.
  6. Bake until cauliflower 20 to 30 minutes. Stir after 15 minutes, flipping the slices over.
Served with a splash of lime.



Citrus Chipotle Chicken Salad Sandwich

You're going to want to try this chicken salad

This is no ordinary, boring, mayo loaded chicken salad sandwich. I love all the different flavors and textures in this chicken salad.  Best of all, it’s actually half of the guilty! Use greek yogurt in addition to mayo and you get an extra creamy and tangy flavor without the extra calories. Then, add a trio of spices– cumin, chipotle powder and plenty of fresh chopped cilantro – along with sweet onions and lime juice for a sweet, spicy and tangy flavor. Piled high on top of a croissant with some radish slices, or just mounded on top of of greens, this chicken salad is anything but boring.

Start by roasting or boiling the chicken breasts. I used leftover chicken I roasted in the slow cocker.

Chop the sweet onion and place it in a large bowl that gives you enough room to mix all ingredients thoroughly.

Chop the cilantro really really fine and place it in the bowl.

Get your hand all over the chicken breasts and start shredding it. To the bowl it goes. Add the Greek yogurt and mayo.

Finish by adding the cumin, paprika, chipotle, salt and lime juice.

Mix it well and give it a try. Adjust the flavors to taste by adding more yogurt. mayo or spices. It’s always a good idea to start with less and add more as you go. You can ditch the mayo all together and go full yogurt for even less guilt.

Citrus Chipotle Chicken Salad Sandwich
  • 2 shredded chicken breasts (roasted or boiled chicken bone in preferable)
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup of greek yogurt
  • ½ sweet onion chopped
  • ½ bunch cilantro (chopped)
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chipotle powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • some lime zests (no more than ¼ tsp)
  • Juice of one lime (approximately 2 tbsp)
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Serve the salad on croissants, or on your favorite kind of bread. For a fun fix, try rolling it in a tortilla.




Quick Arroz con Mariscos with lime-pickled onions

Arroz con Mariscos
It just means rice with seafood and a whole lotta of cilantro and cumin!
Arroz con Mariscos is a popular dish of rice and seafood in Peru and also Portugal. This quick version is perfect with shrimp and/or scallops. The convenient thing about seafood is that it’s quick and simple to prepare and the juices that are released add a lot of flavor to the dish. Our local Sprouts has a ‘dealicious’ sale on both this week. Add frozen or fresh veggies to this recipe. This time I added extra cilantro (one large bunch) and some chopped spinach. The greener the better, right?!
Quick Arroz con Mariscos with lime-pickled onions
  • 3 to 4 cups of cooked/steamed white rice (long grain)
  • 1 ½ to 2 lb of seafood (I used defrost shrimp and scallops)
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 medium red/purple onion (1/2 chopped and ½ cut in thin slices)
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 small lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp of oregano
  • ½ cup of chicken stock or chicken broth (save another ½ cup in case rice looks dry after all ingredients are mixed)
  • ½ cup of peas (frozen it’s fine)
  • ½ cup of diced carrots
  • ½ red, yellow or green bell pepper diced
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • “To taste” ingredients
  • salt (about 1 tbsp but it depends on how salty the chicken broth you are using is)
  • cayenne pepper (1 tsp)
  1. Before starting on the “Arroz con Mariscos” marinade the thin onion slices in the lime juice and set aside.
  2. On a big pan sauté diced onions on the OOil. Add bell pepper+peas+carrots or any other veggies you like (green beans, corn, etc.) Saute for a couple of minutes and add the chicken stock, lemon juice and spices (including chopped cilantro). Add the seafood and cook it for 5 minutes (Note: if you’re using frozen seafood use less chicken broth. If seafood is still frozen cooked for 8 minutes or so).
  3. Taste the broth before adding the rice. It should be on the salty side. Add more salt/pepper/cumin or anything your taste buds tell you. Add the cooked rice. Make sure you gently smash the rice clusters so it will absorb the broth evenly. Add more chicken broth if the rice looks dry. The rice should look pretty moist.
  4. Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving allowing the rice to absorb all the juices.
  5. Serve with the marinade onions on the side.
You can add any vegetable to this recipe (green beans, lima beans and even chopped kale will taste good). I added chopped spinach on this batch. Also there’s no rule for the amount of cilantro you can use here. If you are a cilantro lover this is the time to abuse it!

Raw Almond Butter Bites

Raw Almond Butter Bites

I love no bake treats because…well…I don’t like baking. This is another quick treat that doesn’t require baking and it’s a super healthy bite for those mid-day sweet cravings. Healthy enough for a snack and delicious enough for dessert. It goes really good with a cup of coffee. These bites are also the perfect boost for a pre-workout or a great pos-workout snack due to the natural sugars from the maple syrup, plus carbs from the oats and a dose of healthy fats from the almond butter and coconut oil. 

These recipe can also be made with raw almond butter or any kind of all natural nut butter. The oilier the butter the better. You can add more milk or more ground oats depending on how thick or thin the mixture turns out. Contrary to baking, it’ll be hard to screw this recipe up!

If you make them, please be sure to pop back and leave a comment with your thoughts!

Raw Almond Butter Bites
  • 1½ cup oats, ground slightly (measure before grinding)
  • ½ cup roasted almond butter
  • 3 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  1. Mix everything but the ground oats until smooth.
  2. Stir in the ground oats until a thick batter forms.
  3. Make small balls with the mixture (or any shape you like)
  4. Place in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least one hour until the bites are somewhat hard to the touch.


Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

I’m excited to share this idea here. It’s pretty simple to make and so delicious.  I’m a big fan of chickpeas but they do need a lot of love to really get their flavors going. Mash them up with some cumin, lemon and a touch of heat and you have a delicious salad to tuck into pita bread, roll on a tortilla or kale leaf, serve as a dip or as a base for a tartine.

This is how I made this batch, but you can add or hold ingredients to taste.

Use one can of chickpeas, drain and mash it slightly to keep a bit of a crunch.

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

In a separate bowl mix well until creamy:

  • 1 tbsp pure tahini
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice 1/2 lemon (aprox. 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp of Huy-Fong Chili Garlic Sauce (it can be replaced with Sriracha or fresh chopped garlic and chili flakes)

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

Mix the sauce with the mashed chickpeas.

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

I spread half of the salad evenly on top of a slightly toasted bread. Added some thin sliced cucumbers, watermelon radishes, chopped parsley, toasted almonds and lunch was ready.

I was so hungry…Taking the pictures was pure torture.

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

I ate the other half of the salad as a dip for the extra cucumber slices and I finger licked the bowl.

What I learned from Martha Stewart

Stuffed Chicken Breast Rolls

When I first saw Martha Stewart on TV many years ago after I just moved here from Brazil, I  thought it was something seriously wrong with her. The slow talking, slow moving, the half smiles, the irritating hair in the eye, the missing sense of humor. What exactly is she? A baker?Designer? Not a chef, not a decorator…Wedding planner? I learned later that boring Martha was is an American icon and everyone loved loves to hate her.

I’m not exactly a fan but she has my respect. After all she has survived fame, prison, divorce, building an empire twice, and she has taught me how to pound a chicken breast properly.

Now, since I couldn’t find a video of Mrs. Stewart herself pounding the chicken breast here are the non-illustrated directions:

  1. Take a full chicken breast and place it on your cutting board.
  2. Take a piece of plastic wrap 2X bigger than the breast itself and put it over the chicken breast.
  3. With a meat mallet start pounding the chicken. Start from the center and work your way out. Use short and even strokes.

I use this method frequently to make chicken piccata, chicken scaloppini and chicken rolls. Stuffed chicken breast rolls is a quick ‘make ahead’ recipe. I usually stuff it with sauteed spinach, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and basil, ham and provolone, and even stuffing. First you need to pound the chicken breast like you were Martha and then:

  1. Season the thin fillets with salt/pepper/garlic powder.
  2. Place a mound of stuffing on each breast.
  3. Wrap and roll the fillets over the stuffing.
  4. Secure breasts with toothpicks.
  5. Place rolls, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 380F for at least 40 minutes (depending on the size of the rolls)

Wrap the rolls in bacon or prosciutto for extra flavor. If we could only do the same to Martha Stewart!!!!