Monday, December 31, 2012

Prolonging the Holidays

Try as I might to make Christmas last longer with baking and re-watering of my already-crispy-dry-Christmas tree, the Holidays are coming to an end. It's time to look towards a new year--sure to be full of new adventures, new beginnings, and new recipes!

But before that happens. . . I'd like to reminisce just a bit more. :-)


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Minestrone Soup fit for a Queen!

... and her King can have some too :)  

It's winter here finally and everyone is either battling the cold or a cold as in my case. And what better weapon to wield in such a battle than flavorful, hot, homemade soup! 

Last night, the counters were covered with fresh vegetables, cans of beans, spices galore, a large cutting board, an ancient food processor, and a huge soup pot. The kitchen was soon filled with mouth-watering scents and a minestrone soup was in the works. 

This recipe was based on the Olive Garden minestrone soup, with a few personal adjustments of my own. I grilled some "Italian spiced" chicken and shredded it for the soup once it was done. The grilled flavor and juices from the chicken worked in so well to the soup.

If you're feeling cold, hungry, or in need of something delicious, make this soup!


3 chicken breasts, grilled and shredded 
2 Tbps olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 whole yellow onion, diced
4 big cloves garlic, minced

2 cups of Tomato sauce 
3 cups beef or chicken broth (I used beef)
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, un-drained

Small handful of fresh Basil, chopped
1 tsp dried Oregano
3-4 sprigs of fresh Rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp Marjoram 
1 Tbsp Cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste 

1 15 oz. can of Kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz. can of White beans, drained

1 1/2 cups of uncooked pasta  (I used ditalini pasta) 


0.  Heat up the grill and begin grilling your chicken breasts. I seasoned my chicken breasts with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, Cayenne pepper, oregano and balsamic vinegar. 

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the ditalini pasta until al-dente. (They will cook some more in the soup.) Drain and rinse with cool water and set aside. 

2. Heat the oil in the bottom of the soup pot. Using a food processor, dice up the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Throw in the chopped veggies into the pot to begin cooking on medium (about 3 minutes). 

3. Add the tomato sauce, broth, and diced tomatoes. Stir together. You may need to turn up the heat just a bit. 

4. Add in all of the spices and herbs to the mix and stir again. I also added about a tablespoon of cayenne pepper because I like a bit of spice. 

5 Dump in all of the beans and bring soup to a simmer. Cock the lid just a bit and cook on medium low. 

6. When the chicken is done, shred all three breasts with a fork and add to the soup. Continue simmering for another 10-15 minutes or so.

7. Right before serving, add in the cooked pasta. 

8. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and toasted bread on the side.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CRACK!! I mean..Roasted Chickpeas!!

I bet you can't eat just one! 

This recipe was adapted from *  THIS  * recipe by Anja. My sister and I made up our best recollection of the recipe and threw these bad boys in the oven. When they came out, we literally had to pry them from our fingers and put them away in a container to keep from eating the whole batch!


1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed and patted dry

1 Tbsp of olive oil

Your choice of spices! We went with an Italian flair:  (See Anja's recipe for another variation)
- Garlic powder
- LOTS of Red chili flakes (cayenne powder is better, but we didn't have any *sob*)
- Italian seasoning
- Fresh rosemary
- Salt
- Pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
2. Dump the rinsed chickpeas in a bowel and drizzle with olive oil. 
3. Sprinkle in all of the spices and toss the chickpeas to coat well. 
4. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes or until crunchy. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Amazingly EASY Spaghetti Sauce

I love my quaint little backyard. I've tried to eat on the patio more regularly now that it's much cooler outside, however that also means it's a lot darker. Fortunately, I recruited a strapping, young and creative man to help me rig up some patio lights so we could actually see what delicious food we were eating. 

To break in my newly lit patio, I made a delicious spaghetti sauce and served it over some zoodles (zucchinis cut into noodles)! It made for a perfect, fall evening. This sauce is so tasty and so easy to make. 

Jarred spaghetti sauce??? Bahahaha how silly. 


1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 chili peppers (or red chili flakes for heat!)

2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary (or 1 Tbsp minced)
1 Tbsp parsley
1/2 Tbsp oregano
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

A handful of fresh basil, chopped

28 oz can of diced tomatoes
15 oz can of tomato sauce
15 oz can of diced tomatoes
8 oz can of tomato paste

1/2 red (or green) bell pepper, diced

Bella mushrooms, chopped once in half


1. Sautee the onions and garlic (and chili peppers) in a very large frying pan or sauce pot. (I have a bomb sauce pan that I use for everything.) Add in the *dry* spices and mix all together over medium heat. I am pretty "willy-nilly" with my spices. DON'T BE AFRAID OF THEM! Add in the spices then taste your sauce after a while. Add more if you think it's necessary.

**Side note** 
A cook should always always taste their food as they are cooking! And NEVER be afraid of adding spices. Spices make a dish. 

(And now we return to your regularly scheduled blog entry)

2. Add in the cans of tomatoes and bell peppers. Keep stirring until the onions are well mixed into the sauce. Drop in a bay leaf.

3. Add in the basil and mushrooms. Then, put the lid on the pan/pot and let the sauce come to a simmer.

4. At this point you can let the sauce cook for a while over medium low heat to let all the flavors mingle. I added in my diced chicken to let that soak up some of the yummy tomato sauce flavor. I'd say I let my sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every now and then and making sure it didn't come to a crazy out-of-control boil!

5. I served the sauce over zoodles! but regular wheat noodles would be just as good.

Ready to dig in! :) 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Roll With It - Truck Bed Style

Friday afternoon, Ted and I decided to pack up his truck and go up to Mt. Lemmon to camp. And even though we go there in the pitch black, we couldn't have had a more wonderful time. Sometimes it's fun to be spontaneous. And this was definitely a moment when I appreciated spontaneity to its fullest.  

We rolled into our (RV Only ...whoops) camping spot in Molino Basin just as the twilight faded to night. We quickly unpacked, blew up the (totally awesome and worth it) truck bed air mattress, broke out the zero-G chairs and lounged under the stars a bit before we started cooking dinner. 

I guess I couldn't take a picture of the top of our heads. It's so weird... I had such a good hair-do too... 

We had pre-made some chicken burgers and home made guacamole before getting on the road, which made grilling up dinner quick and easy. And since we had no quick access to a camping stove, we just brought the whole grill with us! It worked like a charm. Cooked the veggies, beans and burgers like nothing! 

I forgot plates. Improvisation is sometimes needed when you're camping.

And what camping event would be complete without some S'mores! (with dark chocolate, of course)


After sleeping under 6 blankets and 3 layers of clothing all night under a (basically) full moon, we woke up to the beautiful Basin rolling out in front of us. 

In no time we had water boiling for coffee, bacon in the skillet and pancakes fluffing on the grill pan. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Solo Dining Fears be Damned!

Friday, after my training was over, I drove down to the beach and plopped down in a spot without too much seaweed and dug my toes into the sand. It was surprisingly cool by the beach and the wind never stopped blowing. After my "nap",  I woke up  and realized I knew how sand dunes were formed: the side of my leg facing away from the wind had built up quite an impressive amount of sand carried by the wind. Good thing I had my eyes closed and backpack zipped up! 

I brushed myself off, emptied my pockets of sand and headed back to my car. I decided to eat dinner at True Food Kitchen for dinner and treat myself to a delicious, pricey dinner. 

The decor was nothing less than trendy and modern. It was definitely a Fox Restaurant.  I felt like I should have arrived in stillettos, tight pants and a billowy sparkly top from Express. Oh yeah, and I should have gathered all my ladies. Considering I had none of the above and only a purse from Target (thank you Rebecca) and the third book of the Hunger Games, I happily sat on the patio off to the side. 

Once my primary reading material was taken from me (menu and some spiel about Andy Weil's anti-inflammatory food pyramid), I turned quickly to my book. 

Whenever I see someone eating alone at a restaurant (and it's not a fast food place), I wonder why they would choose to dine solo. What do they think about? What do they look at? Do they eve's drop on people's conversations? Do they try to look interested in the silverware or their reflection in the window? Did they remember to bring a book or piece of paper to write on? Or do they feel connected by fiddling with their cell phone? 

I was afraid of solo dining this past week on travel. I'm not one to worry about what other people think of me so much. Instead, it was the fact that I couldn't enjoy the food I was eating without sharing the experience with someone else. And... where do I look in between bites??  But there I was, soaking up the California sun, sitting alone and enjoying a delicious piece of salmon on a bed of quinoa and beets. 

While the experience made me a bit uncomfortable, I'm glad I chose to treat myself to a delicious dinner even though it meant eating alone. I think it's good to do something every day that makes you a bit uneasy. I don't mean go do something dangerous... Instead choose something today that you wouldn't normally do but you always think about how you wished you had done it once the moment's passed. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Most Delicious Thing You'll Eat This Month

Z O O D L E S ! ! 

This recipe was introduced to me by my dearest Regina Fitz! She directed me to The Tasty Alternative blog. I have made this recipe over and over and I've decided it's one of the most delicious things I've eaten in a long time.

If you've been lacking on your vegetable intake recently, this dish will surely rock your taste buds and need for those veggies.


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Sun dried tomatoes, chopped  (I used about 3/4 of a jar of Italian-herbed sun dried tomatoes) 
2 jars of artichoke hearts in water, chopped
1 package of Bella mushrooms, chopped in half
Handful of Basil, chopped
Handful of spinach
Salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp Italian Herbs
A couple shakes of Oregano and Parsley 
Red Chili Flakes

1 pound of grilled chicken breasts, sliced into bite sizes

4 zucchinis, SPIRALIZED! 

* This recipe makes a lot! It'll easily feed 4 and then some leftovers. It reheats great, too. 


1. Heat the oil in a very large skillet and throw in the minced garlic. Saute for a few minutes and get those garlic aromas going! 

2. Add in the diced onion and saute for another minute or so. 

3. Turn up the heat to lowish-medium-high. (Is that confusing?? Let's say about 5 o'clock on the dial.) And add the chopped sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms. 

4. Sprinkle in all the herbs: Italian herbs, Oregano, and Parsley. Add in the salt and pepper for taste. 

(5. I shook in quite a bit of red chili flakes... I like things spicy!)

6. The contents will be starting to release their juices and things will smell glorious. Add in the chicken (and juices from coming off the grill if you've freshly grilled it!). 

7. Toss in the freshly cut basil and spinach. 

8. While everything is cooking in the pan, get out your spiralizer! and spiralize 4 zucchini's into zoodles!! (I used the smallest hole option on my spiralizer. This makes the most realistic-like noodles.) 

9. Turn the heat up just a bit more and toss in all of the zoodles. Give it a good mixing, making sure all the juices and good stuff get spread all over the zoodles. 

10. Place a lid on the pan and let the whole thing cook for about 5-8 minutes before serving. The zoodles will soften up a bit. 

11. Eat and be amazed this is made from 100% vegetables! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Work Trip Beach Trip

Working out in Santa Ana, CA for the week and decided to take an sunset run along the beach. . . 

It sure would be nice to get to the beach in 15 minutes every day.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mind-blowing Fried "Rice"

My sister sat down at the dinner table after putting a large helping of the "rice" on her plate. As she took a bite she said, "What is this?? It looks delicious!"

"Oooo!" Was what came out of her mouth next. I had her guess what she was eating and after multiple tries, she still couldn't guess. When I told her it was cauliflower she was amazed at my fantastic cooking and ingenious idea!! (haha no, I can't give myself all the props. I did get the idea from glancing through some food blogs focused on low-carb options.)

This recipe can be adjusted for any flavoring you like. If you just like the "rice" idea, maybe add just a bit of garlic, salt and pepper and call it good. If you like more of a Thai flavor, put in some lime juice, ginger, and garlic. The cauliflower + egg is a great starting point... then tune it to your style of meal you're paring it with.

In this case I pan cooked some Basa fish in lime juice, chili powder, Siracha, and cumin and ate it with broiled tomatoes and onions, fresh and delicious guacamole, and baked kidney beans. Yum!


Head of cauliflower
1 egg

4 Tbsp Olive Oil

1/4 of a red onion, diced
3-4 stalks of green onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 a green pepper (or red)
1-2 Tbsp of Siracha sauce
1-2 hot chili peppers for heat
Handful of cilantro, chopped

A couple pinches of salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 Tbsp chili powder

1 big lime, juiced


1. Wash and remove the stalks from the cauliflower. Cut each little head into quarters and throw into a food processor. (You may have to do this in a couple batches.) Pulse the food processor about 10 times to get the cauliflower to little "grain-like" sizes.

2. Put all of the chopped cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 1 minute. This will keep the cauliflower from turning mushy during cooking.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on medium heat.

4. Toss in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. (About 1-2 minutes)

5. Add half of the red onion and half of the green pepper to the pan and heat up slightly. (1-2 minutes). Turn up the heat slightly to medium-high (about 4:00 o'clock on the dial).

6. Break the egg into the bowl of cauliflower and stir until the egg is well incorporated.

7. When the pan is nice and hot, dump in the cauliflower and spread out in the pan and stir in the garlic, onion, and bell pepper.

8. Add the lime juice, Siracha sauce, cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper and stir in well. The mixture will seem pretty wet at this point, but the egg will cook as it heats up in the pan and the cauliflower "grains" will separate.

9. Keep the heat up and keep stirring! This is going to "fry" the cauliflower and keep it from sticking and burning on the pan. If you want some browning on your cauliflower (which adds to the deliciousness!), let the mixture sit in the pan for a minute or two without stirring, then scrape up the nicely browned bits from the bottom and stir into the rest of the mixture.

10. Eventually add the rest of the onion, peppers, and chili peppers and turn the heat down to medium heat.

11. Right before serving, turn the heat down to medium low and toss in the cilantro and green onions.

12. Be amazed this is not any sort of carb-bomb rice, but a vegetable!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Grilled T's and Red Cabbage Slaw

I was able to get home a bit earlier than I usually do from work one day last week. I dawdled a bit in my kitchen and peered into my refrigerator, hoping something would stand out as a good side dish. I was feeling inventive and wanted to try some new sides to go along with the beautiful Bone-In Steaks I knew would be cooking on the grill within the hour. I managed to easily pull together the following two sides. And oh, they were tasty!

Grilled Tomatoes

1. On a large plate, rub on some olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. I used:

- Garlic powder
- Pepper
- Touch of salt
- Oregano
- Dash of cayanne pepper

2. Cut the tomatoes into large, 1/2 inch slices and place on the seasoned plate.

3. Give the top side of the tomatoes the same treatment as the plate.

4. Splash on a bit of red wine vinegar and let the tomatoes sit for a few minutes.

5. Grill until tender and grill marks are present :)

* * * 

And now, I must make a shout out to my culinary inspiration,  Regina Rea. I have whippped up so many of her recipes in my kitchen and have never been disappointed. This (what I call) Red Cabbage Slaw (because of the ingredients I had on hand) is phenomenal and shockingly healthy compared to your typical mayonnaise-dripping "slaws".     *shutter*      This slaw is light, tangy, crunchy and makes the perfect side or salad topper.

(Addapted from Regina's Knock Out Tangy Slaw Recipe!)

Red Cabbage Slaw


1/2 a head of Red Cabbage, chopped up small
1/2 of a small white or red onion, diced small
1/2 of a ripe avocado, diced
Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 clove of garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice (this flavor comes through very well, so taste as you go so its not too tangy for you)

Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted pecans


1. Mix up the dressing in a big bowl by combining the 1//4 cup of greek yogurt, lime juice, olive oil and minced garlic. Stir together until well mixed.

2. In the same bowl, dump in the chopped cabbage, onions, and basil.

3. Stir together until cabbage is well coated.

4. Fold in the toasted pecans and top salad with diced avocado. It's the avocado that gives the salad its "creaminess", so add more avocado if you want!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Smoky Kitchen, Left vs. Right, and TARMLS

Spur of the moment dinner with a good friend lead to talks of politics, house hunting, and a delicious, flavor-packed dinner. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Veggie Salads!

I've been watching a lot of Master Chef recently (Gordon Ramsey you tell 'em what's up!) and spending way too much time on foodgawker. Recipes are constantly floating in my head. Cooking and creating new and tasty dishes for myself and those that come into my kitchen is perhaps my top hobby. (Can you call it a hobby?) 

I usually have some basic protein on the plate (grilled chicken or grilled salmon), but it looks so lonely all by itself. Right?! A fresh vegetable salad makes a wonderful partner for any main dish. I like to make my salads as colorful as possible and always bursting with tons of flavor! 

My most recent favorite vegetable sides are a Garbanzo Bean and Basil Tomato salad and a Marinated Veggie Medley salad adapted from lemons & lavender.

Garbanzo Bean and Basil Tomato Salad 


1 can of garbanzo beans, drained
2-3 fresh tomatoes, diced
A handful of basil, chopped
1/4 red onion, diced 

for the dressing

1 tsp garlic powder  (or 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar 

Marinated Veggie Medley Salad


1 large zucchini, sliced thinly
1 big carrot, sliced thinly
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, orange or green)
A handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
A few long chives, chopped
2-3 cloves are garlic, minced   (or more if you're not kissing anyone anytime soon) ;)  
1/3 of a red onion, chopped

for the dressing

4 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp mustard  
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp pepper and salt

1. Chop up all of the veggies and dump them in a bowl that has a lid.
2. Put the dressing ingredients in a small jar, close the jar, shake it all up real good! 
3. Pour the dressing over the veggies and close the lid. 
4. Shake the bowl to coat the veggies. Shake it out shake it out!
5. Let it marinate in the fridge for a couple hours before serving. Or heck, just eat it right away! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

100 Degrees and Holding

Celebrating summertime with fresh salad, perfectly grilled chicken, and sweet red wine. 

And an outdoor light canopy in the front patio... 

 For when the sun goes down... 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Quarter Century Awesomeness

You only get to be a quarter of the way to 100 years old once. And I'd say I certainly lived it to the fullest. My friends and family made sure it was nothing less than special for me. Looking back on the whirlwind month, June couldn't have been more filled with celebrations and unexpected amazing surprises I will never forget... 

A cedar plank salmon birthday dinner 

Celebrate celebration celebrations

And a surprise stay-cation celebration that blew my socks off. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer Things

The sunlight breaking through the olive tree outside my bedroom window makes the 5am mornings so pleasant. Thank you early summer sunrise. 

The hundred-degree temperatures can be endured by sipping on some cold red raspberry green tea on the back porch....

And no summer kitchen is complete without the fresh veggies that can, with their powers combined, make some delicious minestrone soup! 

Lastly, it wouldn't be the summer without a picnic dinner with some good friends listening to an outdoor concert in the park. 

Happy Summer :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Is it March or May?

The perfect recipe for Sunday Afternoon Reading:

 - 86 degree weather (believe it)
 - A cool breeze
 - An iced coffee
 - Comfy couch

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summertime Marinade

My parents recently bought us a spiffy infrared grill. I think grilling is my new favorite thing because of this grill. I've tried to appreciate charcoal grills (and certainly love their flavor), but getting those darn charcoals to light and heat up can be so frustrating (especially when hungry). Now, I have to resist grilling for every meal. But last night, I couldn't help myself... 

I marinated some chicken breasts and kabob'd some veggies for the grill.  The marinade was so simple and so very delicious!

Chicken and Veggie Marinade: 

Lime juice
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Garlic powder

While the grill was doing it's thang I couldn't help but snap some shots of the plants in my yard. They seemed to be enjoying the summer afternoon as much as I was. 

Once the veggies and chicken were done grilling and soaking up all of the tasty flavors, I served it up with some spring salad mix, dressed with the remainder marinade from the veggies (not the chicken! because that would be a health hazard!), and the most amazing quinoa salad I have ever had.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Master Rebecca!

... one degree at a time... 

My lovely sister didn't know she was going to a photo-shoot.... 

I thought I was graduating today! Not modeling! 

But such a pretty woman must get her picture taken. 

...over and over again :) 

I'm so proud of my sister! 

Ahhh.... the radiant glow of the Arizona sun. 

No wait.. that's just Rebecca's beauty. 

I try to be artistic from time to time... 

The man with the real camera equipment. 
And the heart of my sister... aww. 

The photographer at his work. 

I now pronounce you... Master Rebecca! 

The Miller family photo :)


I love you Rebecca!