• Roasted Pumpkin Soup

    Photographer: Greg Dupree, Food Stylist: Kat Steele  Prop Styist: Claire Spollen
    Photographer: Greg Dupree, Food Stylist: Kat Steele Prop Styist: Claire Spollen

    Pumpkins, carrots, onions–this is as close as you’ll get to serving fall in a bowl. Roasting the pumpkin gives it a deep caramelized flavor that’s delicious.

    Serves 6 (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups soup, about 1 tbsp. sour cream mixture)
    Total time: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes
    1 (3-lb.) sugar pumpkin, butternut squash, or kabocha squash
    4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
    1 1/2 cups chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
    1/2 cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
    6 garlic cloves, crushed
    4 thyme sprigs, plus more for topping
    1 sage sprig
    1 oregano sprig
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    6 cups chicken broth
    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    4 tablespoons sour cream
    3 tablespoons whole milk
    Pomegranate seeds for topping (optional)
    Pumpkin seeds for topping (optional)
    1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut pumpkin into quarters; discard seeds. Place on a baking sheet, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Bake in preheated oven until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool until easy to handle. Remove skin, and discard. Set aside 1 1/2 cups (about 15 ounces) cooked pumpkin; reserve remaining pumpkin for another use.
    2. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, sage, and oregano; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. (Do not brown.) Add salt and turmeric; cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and 1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove and discard herb sprigs.
    3. Place half of pumpkin mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender, and place a clean towel over opening in lid. Process until mixture is very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining pumpkin mixture. Stir in the apple cider vinegar.
    4. Whisk together sour cream and milk in a small bowl. Divide soup evenly among 6 shallow bowls; drizzle with sour cream mixture, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds, if desired.
    Southern Living/OCTOBER 2016



  • Flowers for Dinner?

    Flowers are such gifts of nature. Any time of year in California you can find something in bloom. Even in our severe drought, nature finds a way of adding some beauty and color to the world. I love flowers in my yard, as well as cut flowers in my home. They brighten my mood and always seem to calm me and make me happy.  What I’d never quite embraced was the idea of flowers in my food.

    A couple of days ago, I have a wonderful lunch at a friend’s home and she had made a salad with a variety of home grown flowers on top.  Edible FlowersShe is an incredible gardener and beautiful cook, so I readily enjoyed both the beauty of the salad and flavors of these flowers.

    I did some reading about edible flowers and here are a few things I learned and suggestions. First, be very careful if you have asthma or other allergies. Also, proceed with caution with purchased flowers due to the use of pesticides and herbicides. And they should be used sparingly, too much of a pretty blossom can cause digestive problems.

    Here’s a few ideas to use the petals of the flowers in your meals.

    For salads or desserts…..

    Nasturtiums–a peppery taste, similar to watercress
    Johnny-Jump-Ups (miniature pansies)—a mild wintergreen taste
    Gardenias—a light, sweet flavor
    Carnations—a spicy, clove-like flavor
    Marigolds–spicy to bitter flavor
    Scented geraniums–flavors vary from lemon to mint
    Roses–sweet, aromatic flavor (remove the bitter white portion of the petal)
    Lavender and violets are sweet and pretty additions to ice cream and cakes

    Do a little research, maybe starting at your local farmers market.
    I’m eager to learn more, so please feel free to share your comments about other uses of flowers in foods you’ve tried and enjoyed.



  • Cool Summer Tips: Mint–Beyond the Mojito

    Mint is wonderfully refreshing in the summertime and grows so easily.  All gardeners know that mint is the easiest and one of the most versatile herbs to grow. Be sure to confine those roots (preferably in a pot) or they will invade the garden which I learned years ago—one of my first gardening mistakes that continues to remind me.  So, I decided to find more uses of mint beyond my occasional mojito cocktail!

    Mint tea is refreshing and easy to make.  Boil water, pour over clean, whole mint leaves and steep for a few minutes. Strain leaves and serve, sweetening as desired. This tea can be served hot, or poured over ice for a delightful summer treat.  A sprig of mint is a lovely garnish in iced tea or sparkling water, as well as in salads.

    Mint has a myriad of healing properties and can help with allergy and common cold symptoms, as well as indigestion.



  • Cool Summer Tip: Fruit in the Freezer

    Cut up and freeze seasonal fruit such as watermelon, pineapple, lemons or whole grapes on a cookie sheet. After individually frozen, store in a plastic freezer bag. Simply enjoy by placing in a glass of sparkling water or simply bite into the frozen sweet goodness of summer.

  • Cool Summer Tip: Quench Your Thirst

    Although a cold beer or a chilled white wine spritzer may sound wonderful on a hot day, you should avoid alcohol because it dehydrates the body. Instead try an Old Fashioned Icy Cold Homemade Lemonade. Here is a favorite recipe: (Makes 1 gallon, so its great for a summer party. Adjust proportions for a smaller batch.)

    6 lemons
    1 cup white sugar
    6 cups cold water

    1. Juice the lemons to make 1 cup of juice. HINT: FIRMLY roll the lemons between your hand and counter top before cutting in half and juicing.
    2. In a gallon pitcher combine 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and 6 cups cold water. Stir. Adjust water to taste. Chill and serve over ice.

  • Champagne and Fruit Sangria


    A refreshing, delightful Summer afternoon treat. Here’s a beautiful combination of fresh fruit (experiment with what’s in season), white wine and your favorite sparkling white wine. Soak the fruit in the white wine and chill for 3-24 hours if you think about it ahead of time. Combine with champagne just before serving, garnish with mint, and serve in a pretty glass.

    1 Orange, thinly sliced and halved
    1 Lemon or 1 Lime, thinly sliced
    1 C. Blueberries
    1 C. Raspberries
    10 Large Strawberries
    1/2 C. Orange Juice, if desired
    1 Bottle White Wine of your choice…sweet or dry
    1 Bottle Sparkling Wine/Champagne/Prosecco
    Garnish with fresh mint

    *Substitute 2 Ripe Peaches and/or 2 Green Apples, sliced.

  • Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

    Fall is here, and with it, pumpkin spice… everything. So why not muffins? These easy treats are quick to make, freeze beautifully for later, and are great to have on hand for a last-minute hostess gift or a surprise guest.

    • 3 cups (576g) sugar
    • 1 cup oil (you can substitute melted butter)
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 – 16 oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
    • 3 cups (360g) flour
    • 1 tsp cloves
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder


    1. Pre-heat oven to 350° (325° for dark or non-stick pans)
    2. Grease muffin tins or line with muffin cups
    3. Mix the sugar and oil until well blended.
    4. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing after each one.
    5. Mix in pumpkin.
    6. Sift together flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder. (If you do not have a sifter, combine in a bowl and stir with a fork to distribute spices)
    7. Add flour mixture and mix slowly just until combined.
    8. Fill muffin cups 1/2 to 2/3 full
    9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the largest muffin comes out clean.
    10. Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.
    11. Enjoy!

    This recipe can also be used to make two quick-bread loaves. Follow the same recipe, but instead of the muffin tins, split the batter into two 9″x4″ loaf pans, and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

    Let us know what you think!

  • Quinoa-Kale Salad with Fresh Apricots

    We love this delicious and hearty salad found in Runner’s World Magazine. It’s quick to make, good for you and tastes great! Visit their site for details on specific health benefits.


    • 1 cup quinoa
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons course-grain Dijon mustard
    • 1/3 cup plain low-fat kefir
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • Pinch salt
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 cups finely chopped, washed kale
    • 1 can (15 to 16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 1/2 cups pitted and diced fresh apricots (about 4 medium) or 1 cup dried apricots, diced
    • 1/4 red onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro


    • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa and toast until fragrant and slightly darker in color, about 2 minutes.
    • Add the water, cover, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked, about 20 minutes. Cool quinoa to lukewarm.
    • Make the dressing by whisking the garlic, cumin, mustard, kefir, pepper, and salt. Slowly whisk in the oil.
    • Place remaining ingredients—kale, kidney beans, apricots, onion, and cilantro—in a large bowl.
    • Add quinoa and the dressing.
    • Toss to coat and serve.

    Makes 4 servings.


  • Big Mike’s BBQ Sauce

    BBQIf you’re looking for a great BBQ sauce to go with Cherryll’s Dry Rubbed BBQ Ribs, here it is.

    *This recipe was from the San Jose Mercury’s cooking section in 2013. Not sure who Big Mike is, but he created an awesome sauce. 


    • 1-3/4 C. Strong coffee, already brewed
    • 2 C Ketchup
    • ¼ C Molasses
    • ¼ C Honey Mustard
    • ¼ C. Brown Sugar
    • 2 T. Worcestershire Sauce
    • 1 T. Cider Vinegar
    • ½ tsp Hot Sauce
    • Splash lemon juice

    In a saucepan, combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.  Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

    (Note:  I brush the sauce on the ribs just at the end of the BBQ stage because it tends to flare up and burn due to the sugar.)

  • Greek Quinoa Salad

    Quinoa SaladAround this time several years ago, I was packing for my trip to Greece. I loved the food, ambiance and feel of the country, and especially their relaxed, fun approach to eating. As many of you already know, I cruise recipe blogs, websites, and magazines and enjoy exploring new ventures in cooking and eating. Here’s a wonderful new recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Stranded Foodie, for these warm, summer days. Definitely brings back fond memories of the Greek isles. Enjoy!

    Greek Quinoa Salad
    Stranded Foodie
    (Serves 4 to 6)

    Ingredients for dressing:

    • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    Ingredients for salad:

    • 1 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed well
    • 1 1/2 cups red or yellow grape tomatoes (halved)
    • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
    • 4 green onions (green and pale green part; thinly sliced)
    • 1/2 cucumber, cut into small dice
    • 1/2 cup Italian (flat leaf) parsley, minced
    • 1/3 cup cannellini beans, rinsed
    • Crumbled feta cheese (for sprinkling on top)
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


    Whisk together the lemon juice, cumin, garlic and some salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the salad to allow the flavors to meld.
    Rinse the quinoa in a strainer until the water runs clear. Combine the quinoa, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.
    Transfer the quinoa to a bowl, fluff with a fork and let sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Add the tomatoes, olives, green onions, cucumbers, parsley and beans. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and season with salt (if needed) and freshly ground pepper to taste.

    You may not need additional salt because the feta cheese adds a nice salty taste to the salad. Squeeze more lemon juice over salad if you like it lemony. Mmmm!

    Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours before serving. The longer it sits the better the flavor. Just before serving, transfer to a bowls or platter and sprinkle feta on top and garnish with parsley.