Blueberries: Full of Fiber, Vitamin C & Antioxidant Rich!


Berries are a haven of antioxidants and nutrition and specifically, blueberries happen to be one of the most antioxidant rich foods in the world. They also contain manganese, are fiber rich, and 1 cup provides 25% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. So go ahead and load up on blueberries as they are very good for you!


I am not a big dessert eater so when I do make a dessert, it usually contains fruit. That way I can feel like I am getting something healthy in the mix and not just eating empty calories. I usually turn to one of my tried and true chefs or blogsites for recommendations and this time was no different. I found a great recipe for Blueberry Crumb Bars that I adapted from


The recipe was easy to follow and simple to make and they turned out scrumptious. My husband, who is very careful about his calorie and sweet intake, absolutely loved them. I found him nibbling away at the pan little by little and almost demolishing the whole thing before I could barely get a taste! That is a true testament to their enticing goodness.



Yield 20-24 bars


  • For the Crumb:
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
    1 egg
  • For the Blueberry Filling:
    4 cups fresh blueberries
    ½ cup granulated sugar
    4 teaspoons cornstarch
    Juice of one lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
  2. Make the Crumb: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder and salt. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter, and then the egg (the dough will be crumbly). Press half of dough into the prepared pan.
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently fold in the blueberries to coat evenly with the sugar mixture. Spread the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust, drizzling any excess juice in the bowl over the filling. Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the blueberry layer.
  4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is light golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature or in the refrigerator.


  • Can be served warm or room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Desserts)

Spring Pea Pesto adorns this delicious Pasta Dish


Amazingly bright green is the color of this delectable Spring Pea Pesto. It is blended with a mixture of English peas, walnuts, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, garlic and extra virgin olive oil to compose a light, fresh tasting pesto. I incorporated the pesto with bowtie pasta, pieces of pan fried chicken breast and fresh mint to create my Bowtie Pasta with Pan-fried Chicken Breast and Spring Pea Pesto recipe.


To ensure the chicken retains its juicy, succulent flavor, I make sure to sear the boneless, skinless breasts nicely and only cook until “just done”. Then I let the chicken rest before cutting it into bite sized pieces being sure to slice them on a diagonal for a softer texture. I keep the drained juices and add them to the pasta mixture for extra flavor.


The mint adds a fresh dimension to the dish and brightens the flavor. I always save a cup of pasta water and add as needed for the right consistency. This ensures a creamy consistency to the dish and keeps it moist. A little drizzle of olive oil and a garnish of mint and the dish is ready to serve!



Serves 6


  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peas, blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds and shocked in cold water
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus 1 teaspoon for garnish)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts , (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 8 ounces bowtie pasta
  • 1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped plus more leaves for garnish


1. For the pesto, combine the peas, Parmesan, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, 2 tablespoons water and salt in a food processor. Blend until the ingredients are combined and form a thick sauce.
2. Season the chicken breasts with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the chicken on each side until cooked through, approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side. (Slightly undercook as they will continue to cook when removed from pan) Rest the chicken covered loosely with foil for at least 5 minutes, then cut on the diagonal into bite sized pieces.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Save 1 cup of pasta water to add as needed. Toss together the pasta, pesto, chopped mint, chicken and any needed pasta water to moisten. Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with mint leaves and serve immediately.

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Main Entrees)

12 Minute Stracciatella Soup for Breakfast


I have been a bit under the weather lately and have been craving soup constantly. Not only is it physically soothing and easy to digest, it seems to add an emotional factor to the equation. I love soups of every kind and find that they are an item that you can rarely go wrong with. You can spend hours simmering, blending, removing and adding ingredients for a final outcome OR you can make a delicious and comforting soup in 12 minutes!


Stracciatella means “little shred” and Stracciatella Soup is a Roman style egg-drop soup. In addition to eggs, I made it with carrots, peas and spinach as I am always looking for fun new ways to utilize my fresh Talley Farms produce, so this recipe suited me perfectly. I decided that it would be a perfect breakfast soup along with one of my Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins. And was it ever!


I made my soup with store bought chicken broth which made the recipe even simpler. I recently read a survey that rated different brands of broth and surprisingly the top two winners were Swanson and Trader Joe’s low sodium broth. I had expected that some of the more expensive organic brands would top the list, but it seems that in terms of flavor, they ended up lacking. As the saying goes, you can’t always judge a book by it’s cover…



Serves 4


  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 medium thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup English peas or frozen peas
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper


  1. In a saucepan, bring 4 cups broth to a boil. Add the carrots and peas and cook over medium heat until tender, 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
  2. In a bowl, beat eggs with 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese and slowly drizzle into the soup cooking over medium heat, stirring, until ribbons form, 1 minute.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately garnished with parsley and additional grated Parmesan cheese.

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Soups)


Service Beyond Compare at Cotogna, San Francisco!


For my very special birthday this year, my family took me to Cotogna in San Francisco. Ok, well I chose the restaurant as I always like to do my research ahead and make my selections carefully. I was opting for something that was not too over the top and yet would satisfy my foodie tastes. Cotogna hit the mark for sure, but the pleasant surprise was the incredible service and attention we received that really made our night!


We had to wait a bit as it is a small restaurant and our table was still filled with guests from the prior seating. However, the staff went out of their way to ensure our comfort and were more than gracious about it. It gave us an opportunity to enjoy the ambiance and watch the radiant fire in their unique wood burning oven. That was a treat in itself.


My oldest son always selects our wine as he is both a Level One Sommelier and a Certified Specialist of Wine. His expertise has never let us down on selecting something both delicious & original giving us an opportunity to expand our repertoire of fine wines. In this instance, the restaurant did not have their own Sommelier and their list was complete with wines originating in Italy which made our choices more difficult. Our server came to the rescue with an abundance of knowledge and offered a tantalizing discussion resulting in a collaboration between the two of them and some great wine for us!

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We ordered a variety of plates to share; my favorite way to dine paving the way for a spectacular dining experience. For starters we began with their:

  •  Grilled Artichoke Salad
  • Fava Bean Sformato
  • Trofie with Mussels & Pesto.

They were all very unique and quite delicious. The winner of these was the Fava Bean Sformato. Fava beans, being a favorite of mine that I often plant for my winter garden. I understand the care and time it takes to unleash those little jewels from their outer layers which elevates them to a caviar-esque level. The sformato itself (a soft, molded custard) was rich and delicate and utterly succulent. Paired with the fava beans, it was devine!


Another bottle of outstanding wine…

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For our next course we selected three more items to share:  

  • Wolfe Ranch Quail, Farro, Turnips & Rhubarb Mostarda,
  • Strozzapreti Cacio e Pepe
  • Hanger Steak with Anchovy-Mustard Butter.

Impossible to select a winner from these three as they were all very different and wonderful in their own way. Top quality ingredients cooked to perfection and well balanced as a group. Food fit for a king!


We were quite full at this point, but being my birthday celebration, we had to indulge in at least one dessert to share. We decided on their Rhubarb Clafoutis & Sicilian Pistachio Gelato. Oops, we forgot to take a photo of this before devouring it almost completely, but you can see we enjoyed it!

Berry Delicious!


Berries are a wonderful addition to many dishes. They enhance most any dessert. Are a stylish addition to a salad. Make wonderful sauces for both sweet and savory dishes. And put them in a muffin – well that’s just like soup & sandwich or peanut butter & jelly for me! Berry delicious!!


This is a nutritious, quick & easy muffin recipe that you can make with any berry or combination of them. It is my new go-to recipe to have on hand for an “on the go” breakfast or snack.



Yield:  12 muffins


  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries


  1. In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Combine the egg, yogurt or sour cream and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in blueberries.
  2. Coat muffin cups with cooking spray or use paper liners; fill three-fourths full with batter. Bake at 400° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Breakfast)

What Do I Do With All These Veggies?


Have you ever found yourself with a stash of unused veggies in your fridge and wondered what to do with such an assortment? Well, I certainly have. Since I cook mostly for two on a daily basis, I find that there are portions of this and that left in my veggie drawer that I just don’t want to waste. So, what do I do with all those veggies?


White Bean and Kale Minestrone

I have several go-to options. The first is to make soup. It is a simple thing to do with most anything you have in your fridge and pantry. I also love to add beans or some other protein as well as a fun garnish or topping for the soup to make it more interesting. If I have made enough, I will freeze it in 4 cup containers so that we have it handy whenever we get a soup craving. Especially if I’m feeling under the weather, the first thing I want is a cup of steaming hot soup! What is better than homemade soup easily popped out of the freezer and warmed up and on the table in minutes?


Citrus Scented Israeli Couscous with Caramelized Fennel

Another option I like to make is a mixture of grains and/or legumes and veggies. You can do that with quite an assortment of vegetables pairing it with a selection from a long list of grains such as quinoa, couscous, lentils, farro, rice, etc. Depending on what veggies you have, you can style the dish Mediterranean by adding in some kalamata olives and feta cheese or Italian by adding some prosciutto, parsley and toasted pine nuts. If you want to make it Southwestern, you can add in some black beans, avocado and pepitas or Asian by adding in some water chestnuts, soy sauce and toasted almonds. If I’m adding cheese or nuts, I often serve the dish at room temperature. With a little chopping, sautéing and mixing, you have a meal in a matter of minutes. I finish the dish with many combinations such as olive oil, citrus juices, vinegars, soy or other sauces. The choices are endless and open to your own creativity! 


Vegetable-Farfalle Cheese Bake

If I want something heated and creamy or more fortifying, I make a veggie  pasta bake. It is simple done in steps. Saute your vegetables, cook some pasta al dente, make a sauce and mix them all together. Pour into a casserole, top with a bread crumb mixture and/or cheese and bake. This can also be done as a veggie pasta dish without baking or making a sauce by just drizzling the mixture with some olive oil and seasonings. You can add fresh citrus juice, soup stock or other enhancements to flavor your pasta dish. I always save some of my pasta cooking water to add moisture to the dish as well. Then top with fresh herbs and grated cheese.

I keep some of these items in my pantry at all times so I can just pull from what I have on hand and throw a meal together at a moments notice. Use your imagination. You can combine all types of vegetables that you wouldn’t have thought to put together and they will taste wonderful! It’s fun to see what new concoctions you can make with fresh vegetables by just adding a little of this or that to create your own masterpiece! 

(Check my recipe index or Talley Farms link for recipes of the photos on this post)


The Food & Ambiance might actually surpass their Wine!


There’s a new wine bar in San Luis Obispo in the historic Creamery district called Foremost Wine Co. Their goal is to make great wine accessible to the masses. We brought some friends to join us and check them out last week. We all loved the place from top to bottom! 


It is an extremely welcoming and warm environment, with rich wood and iron adornments. The main room is very well designed with a touch of greenery on one side displayed on a vertical garden wall and a large half circle bar on the other side – an inviting space to enjoy wine and a bite with newfound friends. If you’re looking for more of a bar atmosphere, you can sit in the adjacent room where there is a long bar and small tables.

What brought me here was the mention of their chef, Julie Simon, who was previously the chef in Paso Robles at Thomas Hill Organics. I have always been fond of her unique dishes and farm fresh ingredients so I was excited to see what she had developed for Foremost. I was not disappointed! The menu is made up of mostly small plate items with a few family style main entrees. In my opinion, this is the best way to eat allowing you the opportunity to taste several items and keep the portion size in line with your appetite.


The menu came with a clear sheet overlay offering suggested wine pairings. What a great idea!

Our first items were:  

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Polish Style Meatballs-stepladder pork, roasted beet purée, Coriander pesto, kefir, toasted almond

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Juniper Cured Arctic Char-créme fraiche, blueberries, gin, radish, dill

IMG_6957Dungeness Crab Cakes-crème frâiche, black garlic, strawberries, pea tendrils, coriander, lime, ginger

Next, we moved on to:


Market Salad-butter leaf lettuce, market vegetables, lemon poppy seed vinaigrette


Parisian Gnocchi-fine herbs, green vegetables, parmesan, chanterelles


Black Kale + Avocado Salad-walnut vinaigrette, valdeon, poached egg

And finally:

Miso Glazed Black Cod-tat soi, furikake, dashi, sesame


 Salinas River Ranch Pork Platter-daily preparation, market vegetable


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These were the three desserts that we shared, a caramel budino, bread pudding (it was my birthday…) and layered lemon curd cup. As you can tell by my meager description, dessert is generally not my favorite item, but these were all yummy.

We can’t wait to return and try out other wine and menu items. I’m guessing this will be my new fav spot in SLO and I feel it calling me back already! I would be hard pressed to tell you my favorite items of the night as everything was amazing! I believe that the savory food did surpass their desserts in my opinion, however that is standard for my taste preference anyway so take it with a grain of salt!


A Gluten Free Sauce for Veggies, Sandwiches and More!


I had a few Sugar Snap Peas left in my fridge and wanted to try something different with them. My Fine Cooking magazine had a recipe for Snap Peas with Turkish Tarator Sauce so I tried it. What a find this was! The sauce was so delicious, I then served it with steamed artichokes. Another home run! It would be amazing as a spread for sandwiches or a topping for grilled fish or chicken. A wonderful dipping sauce for fried shrimp. There are many uses for this sauce and it is quick, easy and healthy too!


I grilled my snap peas which gave them a nice smokey flavor. Then topped them with the Tarator Sauce garnished with some chopped toasted almonds. Delish!




  • 1/2 cup blanched whole almonds, plus 2 Tablespoons toasted and chopped for garnish 
  • 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. In a blender, puree the almonds, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and 1/2 cup water until completely smooth and thick, at least 3 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  • I used raw almonds as I didn’t have blanched on hand and it turned out delicious.
  • I added more lemon juice to taste
  • The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Sauces)

My Favorite Ways to Dress a Salad


There is an endless number of ways to create salads with unlimited ingredients in every variety. You can make a specific salad with items that you select that will balance each other or a salad with any odd vegetables you may have in your crisper drawer. No matter what your preference or style of salad is, in my opinion; the dressing makes all the difference!


I stopped purchasing bottled dressing a while back when I found that it was so easy to make my own and the difference in taste was mind boggling! My salad dressings can be as simple as a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of vinegar and a little salt and pepper or as complex as a pre-mixed dressing with a multitude of ingredients. The best part is that none of them are difficult to make and they all taste markedly better than bottled dressing!

Here are 5 of my favorites for you to try:


The secret to a great vinegar & oil dressed salad is to use quality products. If I am making a simple green salad with minimal ingredients as a small side dish, I prefer to use the drizzle method of dressing my salad. 

I begin with crisp clean greens that have been torn or cut in to bite size pieces. I drizzle enough quality extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat the leaves. A sprinkle of kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper is added to the lettuce and mixed together either by hand or with a couple of spoons. Then I sprinkle a little vinegar and toss to mix, tasting and adding as needed. The oil should only be enough to coat the leaves, which will then adhere them to the vinegar. The vinegar has to be enough to brighten the flavor but not create too tart a taste. For this type of salad, my favorite vinegars to use are flavored ones such as peach balsamic, fig or blood orange. Any flavored vinegar works great and you can vary it depending on what you are serving it with. Always taste the salad by trying a dressed lettuce leaf. That will tell you if it is the right proportion of ingredients and if it is enough, but not too much which may wilt your salad. You don’t want your salad swimming in dressing!


The ratio of vinegar to oil is what is important in a vinaigrette. I like to use the 3-1 ratio. 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. You can always add more vinegar to taste if needed. I also like to use a bit of dijon mustard and some chopped  garlic or shallots and fresh herbs. You can vary this depending on what you are serving with it, so you may want to use fresh tarragon, basil, oregano, parsley or cilantro if that compliments your meal. Here is one vinaigrette recipe I use often and vary slightly as needed:

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, minced fine
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk first four salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil until emulsified, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note:  You may substitute other vinegars such as balsamic, champagne, sherry, rice or use lemon juice or a combination of them based on preference and what you are serving with your salad.

When using a vinaigrette, always toss your salad. If you spoon the dressing on, you will not get an evenly dressed salad and it will taste quite different from one that is tossed and coated with just the right amount of dressing. Believe me, if you are making your own dressing that coordinates with your salad fixings, no one will need to select their own dressing from an assortment of store bought bottles!


I often add citrus to my salads and this citrus vinaigrette is a wonderful accompaniment. You can mix in other citrus juices as well, but keep a balance of sweet and tart for the best flavor. It marries quite well with toasted nuts, avocados, feta or goat cheese, roasted fish, roasted beets, and so many other ingredients!

  • 1 cup blended oil (3/4 cup grape seed, canola or vegetable oil with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil ) 
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 Tablespoons capers, rinsed & drained and chopped
  • 4 anchovies, chopped (I use white anchovies/Boquerones)
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Whisk the salad ingredients together in a bowl or shake together in a tightly covered glass jar.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.

Note:  If I add other juices or liquids, it will vary the 3-1 ratio of vinegar to oil as in this recipe that includes orange juice. 


I love blue cheese dressing! I eat it as a dip with fresh vegetable crudites, as a dip for celery and hot wings and as a salad dressing. It is great served on a wedge of iceberg or romaine lettuce topped with chopped tomatoes, green onions and chopped bacon.

  • ¼ cup crumbled Maytag or other type blue cheese
  • ¾ cups mayonnaise
  • ¾ cups sour cream or yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Pulse the first 7 ingredients in a food processor and then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: Sometimes I substitute vinegar for the lemon juice. I always use Best Foods mayonnaise! If using yogurt, you will need to add some sweetener such as honey, agave or sugar. Just a teaspoon or so should do it depending on the tartness of your yogurt.


My favorite salad is a Caesar salad. It’s not always a standard Caesar in my house. Sometimes I make it with grilled romaine, or with white Cheddar instead of Parmesan, or with pine nuts and sundried tomatoes, or with fried polenta croutons. But, whatever version I make, it always has this dressing from my good friend Shelly!

  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 egg, coddled (cooked in shell in boiling water for 45 seconds)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 4 anchovies, rinsed and patted dry and chopped (I use white anchovies)
  • ½ c freshly grated parmesan

Mix the first 6 ingredients together in a blender. Add just enough parmesan to make the correct thickness and consistency. 


Use these recipes as outlines for your salad dressings and add your own creativity to them. Feel free to experiment with alternatives such as other herbs, seasonings, citrus, vinegars, etc. If you’re cooking a Mediterranean meal, add some cumin & coriander, if you’re cooking French, maybe some fresh tarragon. Check to see what is in your garden, pantry or fridge and alter the dressings accordingly. Have fun with it and let me know what creative dressings you have discovered!


The Right Tools Make all the Difference!


Have you ever come across a kitchen gadget or utensil that you absolutely love and wish you had known about sooner? I find that the right tools in the kitchen make my job so much quicker and easier. So I decided it might be a good idea to share those items with you!


For instance, I recently purchased a Beater Blade for my KitchenAid mixer that doubles as a spatula so it virtually eliminates the need for scraping down the sides of the bowl! What an ingenious product and it works great!


These four utensils are everyday necessities for me. A quick squeeze allows me to get lemon juice directly into my measuring cup from this useful lemon juicer. (You can also use it for limes) For basting, I love my silicone basting brushes. They get the job done easily without losing fibers in my food and clean up is a snap. For cutting herbs, trimming vegetables, cutting pasta and a zillion other things I use these incredible Joyce Chen kitchen shears. I have had them for years and they still cut like they are brand new. For whisking sauces in smaller portions I love my little sauce whisk. It ensures that you reach every corner of your bowl or pot. (I have a larger one too!)

So, I have set up an aStore on my blog that you can link to and see these and other items I use everyday in my kitchen. I also have a category for some of my favorite cookbooks and personal care items. You can link directly to any of the items for a detailed description or to purchase, if you so desire. I plan to add items often, so be sure to check back regularly to see what new great new finds I have added!

You will find the link in the right column on my Welcome page. Take a peek and let me know if you have some other favorite items that you like to use in your kitchen. I’d love to hear about your fav’s too!