Archive for the ‘Food & Recipes’ Category


Just a small, simple, sweet treat — for the 4th of July — with only 3 items from Trader Joes.   Start with the Chantilly Cream Vanilla Bean mini sheet cake … and decorate with your favorite red and blue fruit.   Strawberries and blueberries in the picture above.  It’s best to use the same size strawberries so when you slice them, they are uniform for making the stripes.


Happy 4th of July!


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I had a delicious arugula salad last week at Julienne’s.  Julienne’s is one of my favorite restaurants in the Pasadena area.  They have great sandwiches, salads, soups — and they have a darling store where they sell baked goods, take away food, and cute kitchen & gift items.  It’s a great restaurant for breakfast or lunch when you’re visiting the Huntington Library or Norton Simon Museum.

Back to my salad … it had a wonderful light salad dressing they called quince vinaigrette.  I knew quince was a fruit, but didn’t know much more.  Quince ends up being a Spanish fruit that resembles a sour pear.  It’s usually made into a paste which ends up tasting a bit like berry meets apple.  It is often served as a companion to cheese.  You can find Quince Paste in grocery stores that sell artisan cheeses.  Our Whole Foods sells Quince Paste.

So a few days ago, I decided to recreate the salad.  I picked up fresh arugula at our farmer’s market and added shaved Manchego cheese, Marcona Almonds and a homemade quince vinaigrette.  My husband and I LOVED it!

Here’s the recipe:


1/4 cup Quince Paste

2 T. Red Wine Vinegar

2 T. Olive Oil

1 t. Lemon Juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Fresh bunch of Arugula (or 15 oz. bag of organic arugula)

1/2 cup shaved Manchego Cheese

1/2 to 3/4 cup Marcona Almonds, rough chopped


1. Combine the quince paste, vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice in a small measuring cup.   Use a small whisk to break up the quince paste.  (If you’re using refrigerated paste, you may need to mix in a small blender.)   Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Toss arugula with salad dressing — go light at first.  Top salad with shaved cheese and almonds.


This salad is great with added protein — grilled chicken, grilled salmon.

I love the Marcona Almonds from Sprouts — they have very little oil, but are nicely seasoned.

As I mentioned above, I found quince paste at Whole Foods.

You can refrigerate any remaining dressing.



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DSC01006I’ve been on a roasted broccoli kick lately.  It started this spring when I bought a tray of broccoli rabe from Trader Joe’s.  Then I found a recipe with balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes … a great combination with broccoli!

I’ve modified the recipe from Country Living, as I like to cook creating the fewest dirty dishes possible.  My husband loves me for it, as he usually has “clean up” duty.

Spicy Balsamic Broccoli Rabe

4 Servings


1  1/2 lbs Broccoli Rabe (2 trays from Trader Joe’s)

3 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced

2 Tbs Olive Oil

1 tsp Kosher Salt

1/2  tsp ground Pepper

1  tsp Red Pepper Flakes

1  1/2 – 2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar


1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Trim the ends from the broccoli rabe.  Thinly slice the garlic cloves.

2.  Place broccoli on large, rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Use tongs to toss the broccoli on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle sliced garlic evenly on broccoli.  (You may use a medium bowl and toss all ingredients to evenly coat.)

DSC010033.  Roast the broccoli until crisp-tender and leaves are slightly charred (approximately 8 to 10 minutes).  I’ve used regular broccoli when I can’t find rabe.  Then I roast for 10 to 14 minutes.

4.  Remove baking sheet from oven.  Sprinkle red pepper flakes and drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving.



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Frozen Lemon Dessert

If you’re looking for a light lemony dessert for those hot days of summer, this is perfect!  It’s lowfat, easy to make and you can even make it ahead of time.

It combines light, airy lemon flavors with crispy coconut.   I usually make it a day ahead of serving.

Frosty Lemon Cooler

Serves 9


1 cup crushed Coconut Cookies  (I use Trader Joe’s Coconut

Cookies.  Trader Joe's Coconut CookiesI’ve also used Mother’s brand)

2 Tbs. Butter, melted

2 Egg yolks

1 tsp. grated Lemon Peel

1/3 cup Lemon Juice

2/3 cup Sugar

Dash of Salt

2 Egg Whites

2/3 cup Nonfat Dry Milk Powder

2/3 cup water


1.   Crush coconut cookies and combine with melted butter.  (I use 18 of TJ’s Coconut cookies, which results in a bit more than 1 cup.  I put the cookies in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.)  Reserve 1/4 cup of the crumbs and spread the remainder in a 9×9 pan.


2.  Stir together egg yolks, lemon peel and juice.  Add sugar and salt, mixing well.

3.  In a large bowl, combine egg whites, milk powder and water.  Beat on high speed with an electric mixer to stiff peaks (about 5 minutes).

4.  Add egg yolk mixture to egg whites and beat low just until blended.  I often fold in the lemon egg yolks to mix well.

5.  Pour over crumbs in pan.  Top with remaining crumbs.  Cover with foil or plastic wrap and freeze.


6.  When serving, dip the bottom of pan in warm water for 10 seconds.  (I usually use a rimmed cookie sheet and fill it with hot water.)  This makes it much easier to cut the dessert.  Cut into 9 squares.


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This is one of my favorite appetizers!  The combination of mild brie with the sweetness of the papaya or mango makes a winning combination.  You can make the Papaya/Mango mixture ahead of time and even have the tortillas layered with Brie slices, so you’re ready to bake when guests arrive.

Brie and Papaya (or Mango) Quesadillas


1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 Papaya, peeled seeded and diced ** (or Mango)

1 Jalapeno Chili Pepper, seeded & minced

1/2 bunch of Cilantro, stemmed and minced

Juice of 2 Limes

4 large Flour Tortillas (or whole wheat)

10 oz. Brie Cheese, rind removed & thinly sliced

2 Tbs. Butter

2 Tbs. Olive Oil


1.  Soak the sliced onions in a small bowl of water for 20 minutes.  Drain well and pat dry.  In a medium bowl, combine the onion, papaya (and/or mango), chili and cilantro.  Add the lime juice and gently stir.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet.  Place slices of the Brie on one half of each tortilla.  Evenly divide the papaya mixture over the Brie slices.  Fold each tortilla in half.

3.  Melt the butter in a small ramekin in the microwave.  Add the olive oil.  Brush the top of each quesadilla with the butter mixture.  Bake for 5 to 7 minutes.  Turn the quesadilla over and brush the other side with the butter mixture.  Bake 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are lightly browned.

4.  Cut each quesadilla into 3 pieces and serve warm.


  • ** I often substitute Mango for Papaya … or even combine Mango & Papaya for this recipe.  I like the sweetness of mango with the onion and Brie.
  • If I’m making just one or two quesadillas, I will cook them in a skillet instead of baking them in the oven.  I omit the butter and olive oil and just make them nice and crunchy on the outside.

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When life gives you zucchini … make Zucchini Bread!

My husband (our resident gardener) has quite the fruit & vegetable garden going this summer.  We’re getting at least six zucchini a week (from two plants) and it’s not even July.

We’ve been grilling and stir frying zucchini.  Over the weekend, I decided to try out a new zucchini bread recipe.  It’s originally from Cooks Illustrated — with just a few tweaks.  I used low-fat Greek Yogurt, which I always have on hand.  And, I added dried cranberries and toasted pecans.  It was quite delicious!

It’s best to use small zucchini when making zucchini bread.  They have smaller and drier seeds than large, which is preferred in bread.

Zucchini Bread

2 small zucchini (1 pound)

2 cups Flour

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp. Ground Allspice

1/2 tsp. Salt

1  1/2 cups Sugar

6 Tbs. unsalted Butter, melted and cooled

2 large Eggs

1/4 cup Plain Yogurt (I used low-fat Greek Yogurt)

1 Tbs. Lemon Juice

Optional:  1/2 cup Pecans or Walnuts, toasted & coarsely chopped

Optional:  1/2 cup Golden Raisins or Dried Cranberries


1.  Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

2.  Shred the zucchini using large holes of box grater.  Squeeze shredded zucchini between several layers of paper towels to absorb excess moisture.

3.  Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt together in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk sugar, melted butter, eggs, yogurt and lemon juice together until smooth.  Gently fold shredded zucchini and yogurt mixture into flour mixture with rubber spatula until just combined.  (Don’t overmix).  Gently fold in nuts and raisins or cranberries.

4.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out with few crumbs attached, about 55 minutes, rotating loaf pan halfway through baking.

5.  Let loaf cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.

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One of my favorite restaurants in the Pasadena area is Julienne’s.  Julienne’s is actually in San Marino on Mission Street.  It’s an adorable restaurant with a gourmet market & gift shop attached.  If I’m there at lunch, I usually order the Chicken Taragon Salad Sandwich.  It’s truly the BEST chicken salad sandwich ever!  And, it’s served on a yummy rosemary currant bread.

I had a craving for the salad a few weeks ago and ending up finding a recipe that had been posted in the LA Times years ago.  It’s been a hit with my family!

Julienne’s Chicken Taragon Salad

Makes 4 – 6 sandwiches

4 – 5 stalks Celery, finely chopped

3 – 5 Green Onions, finely chopped

1 bunch fresh Tarragon leaves, chopped

1/2 cup Mayonaise

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. White Pepper

4 Chicken breast halves, poached and chopped

Herb Bread (preferably rosemary), sliced and toasted

1.  Combine celery, green onions, tarragon, mayonnaise, salt and white pepper.  Mix well.  Pour over chicken and toss to coat chicken well.

2.  Spread chicken salad mixture on lightly toasted bread.


  • I have used Rosemary Bread (from Costco) as well as a Raisin Bread for the sandwiches.  Both are delicious.
  • Raisins, chopped toasted almonds or walnuts are also nice additions to the salad.

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