Friday, December 30, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Bruschetta

This delightful holiday appetizer combines three things I absolutely LOVE.

1. Goat cheese.
2. Pomegranate seeds.
3. Bruschetta.

I made this appetizer for a friend's holiday party and these things went like hot cakes! It is the perfect combination of salty and sweet, crunchy and smooth. They are also super easy to make!

(I made a double batch because of the amount of people at the party)


1 loaf of skinny-french bread roll
Goat cheese
Apricot preserves
Pomegranate seeds


1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut the french bread into 3/4 inch slices.
3. Brush the tops of the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder.
4. Bake the bread in the oven for about 5 minutes. You don't need to make them rock hard--just get a crunchy layer on top.
5. Heat up some goat cheese in the microwave until it has a nice, smooth, spreadable consistency. (Be careful not to overheat the goat cheese because it becomes inedible!)
6. Spread a small spoonful of the jelly on each piece of bread.
7. Next, spread on the goat cheese. (I liked a good amount on there)
8. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
9. Serve still warm. (But I promise they're still delicious not warm, too)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Rain Transforms Us

It's going on 48 hours of non stop rain in the desert.
It's amazing what a constant drizzle can do to the mind.
I think rain makes us smarter.

Rain makes us dig a little deeper.

These rainy days I've reflected on love.

Sometimes I stop by Le Love to read something real for a change. (There are only so many facebook status updates one can take.) No matter what my heart is feeling that day, this blog has words I can relate to. It's truly amazing how many people are feeling the same thing at the exact moment, whether it be heartbreak, loneliness, hopefulness, hopelessness, or blinded by true love. I love this blog because of the raw emotion and true beauty in the joy and the sadness. This post in particular stood out to me tonight for that reason.

Reading the words written by people all over and collected by Le Love makes me feel somehow connected and and gives me comfort when its needed. It's incredible what love can do to us. Sometimes it's important to stop and think about what role it's played in our lives and recognize how it's changed us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kick Butt Salmon Burgers

As I was sitting at my desk today at work, I probably should have been thinking about coefficients of friction and how to improve my MATLAB code, but instead, I was thinking about salmon burgers. I immediately wanted to get home to try out a new recipe I had just formulated in my mind.

And let me tell you--it turned out amazingly. I will never buy store-pre-made-in-a-box-salmon-burgers again!


Two 7.5 oz cans of canned Salmon
3 Tbsp of oat bran
1 egg
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1/4 tsp of garlic powder (or a clove or two of garlic, minced)
1/4 tsp of pepper
1 Tbsp of salsa pureed (optional)
1/4 cup of finely chopped onions
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 pablano pepper, minced (bell pepper works too if you don't want the spiciness)
4 or 5 basil leaves* chopped

*I was hesitant about the basil, but oh man, it worked perfectly and added a wonderful flavor! 


* Makes 6 medium sized patties*

1. Drain the cans of salmon and rinse off some of the saltiness and oil (if you want) with water swirled in the can holding the cut lid on. 
2. Dump the salmon into a mixing bowl, pick out any bones you may find, and mash down the salmon to break it up. 
3. Add the oatbran, oil, pepper, garlic, salsa, egg, onion, pablano pepper, cheese, and basil and stir all together until it's mixed well. 
4. Get your skillet warmed up to medium heat with some olive oil.
5. Form patties with your hands as big or small as you'd like and set in frying pan. 
6. Once a quick sear is made, turn down the heat to medium low and cook until nice and browned on each side. Maybe 6 or 7 minutes on each side. It really doesn't matter how long you cook them since the salmon is cooked. Just get them warmed through the middle so the egg cooks a bit and the cheese starts to melt. 
7. Enjoy! 

The patties were a bit crumbly, but easily reform-able. These would also be great on top of a salad or with some rice!

I had to resist seconds. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holy Blackberry Pie Amazingness

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I'm thankful for all of the wonderful and inspiring people in my life....and blackberry pie. In preparation for a big Thanksgiving feast with my friends, I searched for the perfect blackberry pie recipe. And I think I found it. Made from fresh blackberries hand picked and delivered from Washington, this pie was my very first homemade pie accomplishment!


6 cups blackberries (thawed from frozen or fresh)
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp butter
2 pie shells  (I got mine from Trader Joe's--they come frozen, two in a box)


1. Combine 5 1/2 cups of the blackberries, salt and sugar in a skillet over medium heat. I left out 1/2 cup of the berries to put in at the very end to add some delicious texture to the filling.
2. Mash the berries with a fork or whisk and bring to a simmer.
3. Mix syrup and cornstarch in a glass as best you can. I had to add some of the liquid from the simmering blackberries to get the cornstarch to dissolve all the way.
4. Pour in the cornstarch and syrup to the blackberries and stir.
5. Sprinkle in the flour and stir all together.
6. Continue to simmer the mixture for a couple more minutes then fold in the rest of the whole berries.
7. Take the filling off the heat and let it sit while you roll out (or make) your pie crust.
8. Lay in the bottom of the pie shell in your baking dish.

9. Pour in the filling and then dot the top of the filling with pieces of butter.
10. Cover the filling with a second pie layer. I attempted a lattice but I rolled the dough too thin so it became impossible to do a lattice. I just laid the dough over the top in a faux-lattice pattern :)

Whatever you do to the top layer, make sure you have some sort of "vent" for the filling to breathe and bubble during baking.

12. Brush on a mixture of egg yoke and a tablespoon of water on the top of the pie to give it a nice browning effect when it's done baking.
11. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and then turn down the heat to 350 degrees to continue baking for 35-40 minutes.
12. Once out, let the pie sit for at least 2 hours before eating it to let the filling set and allow yourself some time to admire your masterpiece :)

I was so happy this pie was not overly sweet and had the amazing blackberry filling of the perfect consistency.

Happy baking and eating on this Thanksgiving day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Raisin Bran Muffins

This is my all time favorite muffin at the moment. This recipe comes from my good friend Dylan who got this recipe from his grandmother--so you know it's tried and true! Nothing like waking up in the morning looking forward to a hot cup of coffee and a warm bran muffin....

* This recipe makes about 12 muffins. I always double it because you can never have too many bran muffins! (They freeze really well too!)


1 cup raisins
1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cup bran
1/4 cup oil***
1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup molasses
1 egg

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

*** I use olive oil, but you can use veggie oil if you don't like the olive oil taste... I honestly can't tell the difference


1. Combine raisins and water in a large mixing bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Then, let it sit for 5 minutes.
2. Add bran, milk, and oil to the bowl and give it a quick stir. Let this mixture sit for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the egg and molasses to the bowl and mix well.
4. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. Then, dump this well-mixed mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients.
5. Stir all together. The batter should be fluffy once everything is mixed together. (I sometimes add a few chocolate chips to the batter just to make things exciting.... Dark chocolate is healthy!) :)
6. Drop into a greased muffin pan. I don't like to bother with the paper and they always come out very easily from the pan.
7. Bake at 400 F for about 15 minutes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Celebrating the Dead

In Tucson, the All Souls Procession is truly spectacular in every way. 

The amount of culture is remarkable and the way people celebrate the passing of loved ones sends powerful messages to those who come to this stunning event. I went to see the costumes and the amazing props that were carefully and thoughtfully designed by people in the community. However, in the end, I got so much more than just a great view.

At the ceremony, I was given a chance to write a note of remembrance for someone who has passed. I wrote a letter to Lucy, my sweet collie dog that passed over two years ago. Her death has truly been the most significant loss I have experienced in my life so far, and she was on my heart and mind. Even though she is "just a dog", her death was no less heartbreaking and her absence no less painful. Being able to write her a letter was a very spiritual moment for me.

All of the letters of love, sadness, longing, heartbreak, and hope go into a huge urn. At the ceremony, the urn is set ablaze and all of the words catch fire and the ashes rain down.

Death is ominous, scary, and mysterious. But in death comes beauty and that beauty was seen in this evening. This was not a day to grieve, but a day to celebrate and remember those we love.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bringing in Fall - Bean Soup Style

Today is in the 60's, last night it rained, and now a colder breeze is blowing in the windows. I hope it is safe to say that fall is here. The other night I whipped up a large pot of delicious tomato bean soup and at it with a side of freshly baked cornbread from scratch.


1 28 oz can of tomatoes
3 cups water
1 tsp chili powder
1 can each of kidney beans, black beans, & garbanzo beans
1 can of corn  (I threw in about a cup of frozen corn)
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp garlic  (I never really measure this--I just chopped up a couple cloves)
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1//2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
A few leaves of fresh basil, chopped (or cilantro)


1. In a large pot, start the onions and carrots cooking for just a few minutes with a bit of olive oil.
2. Throw in the rest of the ingredients.
3. Stir together, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium to medium low and let the soup simmer for 20-30 minutes.
4. Enjoy with your favorite cornbread!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday morning hearty pancakes

Ahhhh....Saturday morning. 

Open the windows. Let the cool, desert air in. 

Turn on a pot of coffee.... 

Fresh blackberries
Fresh blueberries
Dark chocolate chips

If you want more to your pancakes than the simple "out-of-the-box" flavor, try these! They're filling and full of the good stuff :)

Makes about 15 or so medium sized pancakes


1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup oat bran
1/3 (heaping) cup oats

1/4 toasted pecans

1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp olive oil

Any fruit you want to thrown in


0. If you don't have buttermilk (like me), use the following to make your own!
        -  1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
        -  1 cup of milk

        0.a Stir both the vinegar and milk together
        0.b Let it sit for about 5 minutes to let it turn to "buttermilk"

1. In a big bowl combine all of the dry ingredients with a fork.
2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and break in the egg. Give the egg a little stir.
3. Pour in the buttermilk and add the vanilla and oil.
4. Stir all together and then let the batter sit for 5 minutes.
5. Spoon batter out onto a hot, oiled griddle.
6. Add the fruit or chocolate before flipping.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wake up legs, wake up lungs!

At 11am this morning I put on my spandex and hopped on my bike. I knew this beautiful day could not be spent inside. I turned on the new OneRepublic CD and started to ride. The road was smooth and the cool breeze hit me like a refreshing wave. As I listened to the music I focused on the road, the muscles in my legs telling me they were working, and how magnificent the fall air felt flowing around me.

I pushed it down Swan and made a right onto the River Path.

After that, the miles flew by. Steady strokes...pull and push. Breathe.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Wonderful October

The most beautiful month in Arizona has come. Finally. The 100 degree days are over and the 90's never felt so good. Today, October kicked off with a drop in temperature, a breeze that smelled of rain, and small monsoon.

I love fall in the desert.
The evenings are cooler and the mornings are crisp.
It's a time for afternoon picnics and patio dinners.
Pumpkins and decorative gourds start popping up in grocery stores and on kitchen tables.
The ocotillo leaves turn a beautiful yellow-orange before dropping to the dirt below.
The sun hangs lower in the sky and casts its "fall glow" on Tucson.

You can just feel the desert give a sigh of relief.

I decided to celebrate the first day of October by baking molasses-cranberry muffins. Usually I bake this as a bread, but recently I've been on a muffin-kick, and I think everything just tastes better and is more fun to eat in muffin form.

*Baker be warned. These are pretty freakin healthy muffins. I try to use as little sugar, butter and oil as possible when I bake (cue *gasps* from real cooks and bakers everywhere). But that just means I get to eat more of what I cook because it's healthier ;)

This recipe makes 2 dozen muffins. Let's hope I can restrict myself to one muffin a day.


1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat bran
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 (heaping) cup oats

1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

4 eggs
4 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt (Greek yogurt is the best!)
1/2 cup olive oil  (I have used apple sauce in the past and it is definitely dryer this way, but still tastes great)
1/3 cup molasses

1 bag dried cranberries
Pecans/walnuts to sprinkle on top


1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
2. Mix all of the wet ingredients together in a big bowl.
3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir together.
4. Dump in the bag of cranberries (and eat a few) and mix in.
5. Spoon out the batter into the oiled muffin pans.
6. Cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Enlightened Buddah

The neurotic pastimes of the ego--fear, attachment, blame, complaint, expectation, judgment, preference, attachment to outcomes, the need to fix things, control, attraction, aversion, and preference--create intrusion. 

-- David Richo, 2002

Life is made up of inconsistencies. Things are always changing... the weather, your underwear, luxuries, tastes, people, feelings, and even the bigger things like a house and a job. Sometimes when things change quickly, you are left wondering what happened. why did this happen, and where did all the time go?  

Mindfulness is difficult. 

Stay in the moment. Be in the moment. If you don't have the moment, then what do you have? 

Face your experience fearlessly. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Let's do some math

1 pizza stone  +  bottles of red wine  + "that's what she said" jokes   +  9 amazing people  


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Trail of ruby red and diamond white

for james

They love to tell you
Stay inside the lines
But something's better
On the other side

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sweetest Things

Delicious homemade fish tacos....check
Good company...check
Creative dessert idea to wow my dinner guest .... check

After my first attempt at making fish tacos one night (new and improved recipe to come), the need for an amazing dessert to round out the evening presented itself. This combination came about when I realized I had leftover buttermilk pancakes, vanilla ice cream, fruit, and chocolate. Such ingredients should not be kept apart from each other.

We've all heard of breakfast for dinner. Now why not breakfast for dessert?

one large buttermilk pancake, toasted
two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream
melted dark chocolate chips

The best part was when the hot melted chocolate on top hardened into a hard crust and crunched as I broke through it with a spoon.

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Beginnings

if no one spoke a word
and we were all alone
how flat we all would be
a steady, somber tone. 

if no one felt the need
to cherish the little things
then we'd  never know what's special
and miss the inbetweens. 

It's the moments of the day, the people of our lives, and the obstacles in our way the help us build on who we are. 

I'm a perpetual student of learning of embracing it all.

This blog is a window into me--featuring my passions for photography, food, my home, and the people I love. 

enjoy and more to come