PB&J Super Smoothie

I have recently become obsessed with making my own smoothies.  I know, I know.  I’m kinda jumping on the “jucing”bandwagon a little late, but guess what.  Smoothies are delicious, FACT.  And, they’re a great way to get all your servings of fruits and vegetables in one meal.  You can make them in bulk, freeze them, and then drink them as needed.  It’s a pretty great thing, and this recipe is both tasty, filling and full of protein.  I would even recommend it as a great treat for kids, because of the name and the general yumminess.

You can put whatever you want in smoothies, it’s totally your call, but some smoothies are better than others.  This recipe has been tested and it has been confirmed as delicious.  So, feel free to try your own recipe, or this one.  I really have no way of knowing.


2 cups mixed berries (I used blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)

1 banana

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

2 cups baby spinach

1/3 cup non fat greek yogurt

1/3 cup non fat milk

1 cup ice

Throw it all in a blender and blend it up!

See, there’s the blender.

One thing I’ve found that works, if you like the effect of crunchy iciness, is to blend all the ingredients except the ice together and refrigerate them.  Then later, blend that with ice when you’re ready to drink it.

So peanutty buttery.

This smoothie is filling and full of vitamins.  And this recipe makes 2 giant servings.  Perfect for breakfast.  Or like, whenever!  Buen provecho!

Simply Sensational Fresh Pesto

I am becoming totally obsessed with gardening.  It’s a really fun hobby and produces fresh, organic produce for you to eat.  What more could you want?  And herbs are one of the easiest things to grow.  Basil is especially easy.  It’s happy just sitting in a sunny window and being watered every couple of days.  We bought this basil plant from the farmer’s market and kept it inside because snails totally dig on basil.  It’s like donuts for snails.  They go nuts.  (Get it…donuts make you go nuts.)  Anywho, even inside and out of the direct sun our basil plant quickly outgrew it’s little spot and my mom was asking me to please get rid of some of it.  So, I thought, what is a great dish that uses tons of basil?  Well, pesto, of course!

This recipe only needs 5 ingredients.  Here they are:

Pine nuts

Extra virgin olive oil

Fresh basil leaves

Parmesano Reggiano cheese

Coarse salt

Now, I didn’t add any measurements because you can kind of adjust them based on how you like your pesto.  You can also thrown in a garlic clove if you want some garlicky stuff.  Start with about a quarter cup of olive oil and about the same amount of pine nuts.  Then throw in a good handful of basil leaves.  I used a bunch, because I like my pesto really green and basily.


Crumble up a few slices of cheese in there too before you blend.  Don’t add the salt right away, because the cheese is pretty salty and you might find that the salt in the cheese is all you need.  I used a hand blender because I like it a little chunkier, but you can use a regular blender or food processor if you want a smoother product.  Feel free to blend and taste, adding a bit more of what you think the mixture needs.  To thicken it, add more pine nuts.  To thin it, more olive oil.  For more flavor, add more cheese, basil and/or salt.  If you want to go totally wild you can toast your pine nuts by heating them with just a smidge of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat for a couple minutes, stirring frequently and making sure they don’t burn.

That’s it!  This pesto is great as a dip, a spread, or the old fashioned way: right on pasta.  You can make as much as you want at once and freeze it, but it’s so quick and simple I’d recommend preparing it fresh.  Buen provecho!  I’ll leave you with a sexy little shot of some cheese.

Is it hot in here?

Grilled Summer Veggies with Forbidden Rice

Everyone knows summer is awesome.  Seriously.  Ask anyone.  Especially kids.  And it doesn’t hurt to live in the Napa Valley where the weather is stupidly perfect.  Today it was 72 and sunny with a slight breeze, which is fairytale weather.

So one of the best things about the good weather and the summerness of it all is the grill.  I can’t even tell you how much I love barbecues.  It’s one of my top 10 favorite things, along with puppies, drinking free wine and David Sedaris novels.  But, since I’ve been trying to eat less meat these days (you know, to singlehandedly save the world) I have to find other things to grill.  Luckily, grilled veggies are amazing and delicious, so, crisis averted.

Grilling veggies is easy.  All you need are veggies, a grill and an easy marinade.  I also made some forbidden rice to go along with them, which I didn’t take a photo of.  It’s this cool, totally black rice that has a really great texture and flavor.  I suggest you go buy a bag of it and then prepare it according to the directions on the bad.  It’s that easy.

So, the kinds of veggies you used are up to you.  I used:

Portabello mushrooms

Yellow squash



Red onion

Sweet peppers

Pasilla peppers

Aaaand that’s it.

But really, feel free to use any of your favorite veggies!  Like carrots, or brussel sprouts, or broccoli.  Anything really works.  The important thing is the marinade, which is also simple.  You’ll need:

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

5 cloves of garlic (minced)

2 lemons (juiced)

1 tsp kosher salt

Ground pepper

Okay, so basically you want to combine these ingredients and let them sit together for at least an hour before you used them on the vegetables.

After chopping up your veggies and letting the marinade stew a little bit, pour the whole marinade over the veggies and toss like a salad.  Let the veggies sit in the marinade for about 15 minutes.

Also, be sure to drink some wine.

Now, prepare your grill…however you do that.  All grills are different.

We have this nifty basket thing to put the veggies in so they don’t sit directly on the grill.  I highly recommend it, because you can cook a larger amount at a time and you don’t have to turn everything over individually.

Depending on how hot the grill is you can leave the vegetables on anywhere from 10-30 minutes.  If your veggies seem to be taking to long, try closing the lid of the bbq for a couple minutes to seal in the heat, but not for too long because you don’t want too much smoke all up in the veggies.  Make sure to constantly check and stir them.  If you’ve got a really hot grill, they can easily burn.

Like I said, serve these with some forbidden rice and you won’t be sorry, but they’re also just great as a side dish for any bbq.  Or even just on their own as a snack.  Enjoy!

Bacon and Blue Cheese Potato Salad

I think we can all agree that one of the best things about summer is the BBQ’s.  There is something completely magical about a warm summer evening, a grill, and friends and family enjoying good food and drinks.  It’s probably one of my favorite things in the entire world.  Like, right up there with puppies and books by David Sedaris.

In that same vein, one of the best BBQ accompaniments is the potato salad.  Now, a potato salad is one of those things that can go so right or so wrong.  A bad potato salad is so sad. So bland.  So greasy.  No flavor.  You know you’ve had that potato salad before.  And then a good potato salad is just so damn good.  Creamy, flavorful, cool and spicy.  The perfect partner to a juicy burger or hot dog.  And does anyone else like their hot dogs totally burnt? I freaking love that.

I like to think of myself as a potato salad connoisseur, traveling the globe, sampling various potato salads and bestowing upon them my expert opinion.  No one really wants my opinion, but I give it regardless.  So, the other night, I made it my mission to make my ideal potato salad.  Obviously, bacon would be a factor.  But what else?  Then it hit me.

Blue cheese.

And with that, we’ll begin the recipe.

4 lbs red potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonaise

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

8 oz crumbled blue cheese

1 tbsp mustard seeds

2 tsp salt

2 tsp fresh black pepper

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

8 strips of bacon, cooked to a crisp

It goes great with steak.

So, first, you want to boil the potatoes.  Put all the potatoes in a big pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Then let them sit at a boil for about 6 minutes.  When they’re done, strain the water and let them cool.

While the potatoes are boiling you can fry up your bacon.  If you’re not well versed in frying bacon, the key is to fry it on a low heat.  It takes a while to get the bacon to really crisp up, but a high temperature puts you at risk for burning the bacon.  When the bacon is cooked, transfer it to a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.  Once the bacon is nice and crispy, chopped it up as finely as you can manage and set aside.

Now you’re ready to make the dressing.  It’s pretty simple, just mix the sour cream, mayo, vinegar, blue cheese, mustard seeds, salt, pepper and green onion altogether in a bowl.

When the potatoes have cooled off all the way, mix in the dressing and bacon so that all the potatoes are coated and mushed in.  You are going to love this delicious, creamy salad!  And if you need to make it a day ahead, go for it!  I actually think it’s better when all the mix has been sitting together and melding for a day.

Buen provecho, and happy barbecuing!

Gluten Free Coconut Mojito Bars

When I was in Chile, there was a restaurant a few blocks from my house that had amazing mojitos, and one of their signature drinks was the “cojito,” which is made with coconut rum.  It is absolutely freaking delicious.  I have never had a more refreshing drink, ever.

So, obviously, it’s time to turn a refreshing drink into a buttery, delicious dessert.  I really like to make lemon bars, so with a few tweaks, the can turn from lemon bars into these cojito bars.  Get ready!

For the crust you will need:

2 cups coconut flour (this is like my new favorite thing in the whole world.)

3/4 cup white sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1 egg white

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine crust ingredients in a mixing bowl and then press into a 9×13 ungreased baking pan.  Really press it in.  Then, bake the crust for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

While the crust is baking, you can work on the filling.

You will need:

4 limes, juiced

2 tbsp of mint, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh lime zest

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups of white sugar

1/4 cup of coconut flour

Shredded coconut, for topping

Juice the limes into a small bowl and then crush the mint into the juice.  Strain the juice from the mint.  You can add some of the fresh mint leaves to the mix, too, depending on how minty you want it to be.  Mix the juice, mint, zest, eggs, flour and sugar in a bowl.  When the crust is done baking, leave the oven on.  Pour the mix over the crust.  Sprinkle the coconut liberally on top and pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture is set.

It looks a little funky, because of the mint.  If you want to make it more mojito-looking, you can blend the mint to a finer state and add some green food coloring to the filling.  Either way, it tastes great.  Enjoy your yummy, summer treat!

Homemade Sweet Pickles

I love homemade things.  Well, I guess every time you cook something it’s homemade, so that makes sense, but I love things that you usually buy but that you can easily make homemade.  It makes them seem so much more special, and they make great gifts.  Also, I’m bored a lot, and cooking eases the boredome.

My mom is a big fan of sweet pickles and I really like them too, especially now that the weather is warming up.  They’re a yummy, cool, crisp snack.  I found this really easy recipe on Allrecipes.com.  It’s easy.  It’s like, so easy.  If you don’t feel like clicking the link, here’s the recipe.

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/8 cup salt (I actually used about half this and found it to be the right amount)

1 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

2 pounds cucumbers

2 sweet onions

In a small saucepan at medium-high heat, combine cider vinegar, salt, sugar, tumeric and mustard seed. Bring to a boil and let cook for 5 more minutes.
Meanwhile, slice cucumbers and onion. Loosely pack the vegetables in a 1-quart canning jar or other similarly sized container. Pour hot liquid over the vegetables in the container. Refrigerate for 24 hours and enjoy! Keep refrigerated.
I did a couple jars with spears, like this.  And then I did a jar of sandwich slices.  Those actually were even better because they absorb more of the flavor and you can put them on sammiches!
Highly recommend these tasty treats.  They are the perfect summer snack.  Buen provecho!


Peanut Butter Vegetable Soup

Waaait, what did she say?  Did she say peanut butter soup?

Yeah.  Yeah she said peanut butter soup.  She said it.

She is me.

Peanut butter soup.

So, I’m actually not the biggest fan of soups.  I tend to think they’re not very filling and not very interesting.  But, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine made vegetable stew and just as I thought she was done, she dumped a few giant spoonfuls of peanut butter into it.


Peanut butter does a couple things: it adds fullness and it adds flavor.  Adding peanut butter to your vegetable soup automatically thickens it and makes it richer and more fulfilling.  It also adds a little salt and a little fat, which is never a bad thing when cooking.

So without further ado, here is the recipe:

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

6 cups vegetable broth

2 tomatoes, diced

1 bunch collard greens, cut or torn into strips or small pieces

1/3 tsp cumin

dash cayenne pepper (optional)

1/3 tsp salt

1 cup peanut butter

2 tbsp lemon or lime juice

Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until onions start to turn clear and soft. Add the ginger and heat for about one more minute.

Add broth, tomatoes, collards, cumin, cayenne and salt and allow to cook for about 15 minutes.

Carefully add the peanut putter, and stir well to combine. Allow to cook until the peanut butter is melted and incorporated. Leave the soup on medium heat with the cover on for another ten minutes or so until all that peanut butter gets melty and delicious.

Drizzle with lime or lemon juice just before serving.

You’re done!  Hearty, delicious soup.  10 Weigh Watchers points per serving with 6 servings in this recipe.  Buen provecho!

Soba Noodles and Spinach Sautee

Seriously, I sincerely suggest someone sample these sensational savory soba noodles and spinach sautee.  Alliteration!

Soba noodles are really good and as far as past go, they’re good for you.  See, soba noodles are make with buckwheat, instead of just regular white flour, which makes them healthy carbs.  They are kind of testy, though, and need to be cooked with care.  First, I’ll explain the soba noodle cooking process, then the rest of the recipe.

First, boil a large pot of water.  Like, as large as you have.  And pretty full of water.  Once the water has reached a rolling boil, then sprinkle 8 oz. of soba noodles into the water and reduce heat so the water is at about a simmer.  From there, they only need 7 or 8 minutes in the water.  If the pot starts to boil over, add a cup of cold water to it.  After 7 or 8 minutes, drain the noodles and then rinse them thoroughly with cold water.  Set aside.

Now for the sauce and spinach!


2tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1 shallot, finely chopped (I’ve used some red onion when I forgot to buy the shallot, which is always.)

Combine the ingredients and let it sit, refrigerated.


6 cups baby spinach

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp EVOO

Pour the olive oil and sesame oil into a large sauce pan at medium heat.  Add garlic and sautee until fragrant.  Add spinach and cover for 5 to 6 minutes, depending on how wilted you want the spinach to be.

Finally, stir the spinach and sauce into the noodles, and you’re done!

Disclaimer:  the noodles in the picture aren’t soba noodles.  Soba noodles are kind of grey-ish.  So, if you have grey-ish noodles, you’re on the right track.  I made mine with regular noodles this time because that’s the kind of noodles that were purchased.  Less healthy but still yummy.

With the soba noodles this dish makes 4 servings at 7 Weight Watchers points each.


Chicken Salad Salad

Nope, it’s not a typo in the title.  It’s a chicken salad salad.  As in, chicken salad in salad!  Salad salad..salad…I’m losing my train of thought.  Moving on.

I love chicken salad, but it’s not exactly a meal in itself.  You can make a sandwich out of it, but that’s adding a bunch of starchy bread to an otherwise fairly healthy dish.  You can use it as a side dish but, again, that’s adding calories to something that doesn’t really need it.  So, the other day, I made chicken salad and I said to myself “Self,” I said “let’s figure out how to make this a meal.  Also, remember to buy cookies for the potluck.”

What I came up with was really easy.  I just dumped my chicken salad on a bed of greens and voila!  Chicken salad salad.  (Salad.)

Here’s the recipe:

2 chicken breasts poached in stock, then cubed (it’s essential that you poach the chicken in something other than water to add flavor since poaching the chicken cooks it without adding any fat.  An average sized chicken breast needs to be poached for about 20 minutes.)

2 cups celery, chopped really tiny

1 cup red onion, chopped really tiny

1/2 cup mayo

1 lemon juiced

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mixed greens (they can be any kind you like!  This particular salad rests on butter lettuce.)

You poach the chicken first.  You can even do this a day ahead of time so the chicken is nice and cool when you add the other ingredients.  Combine all ingredients and stir thoroughly.  This dish is one that gets better after a day or so, when the stuff can all marinate together and get yummy.  Don’t add the mixed greens until you’re read to serve, just leave them separate, otherwise they’ll wilt.  It’s a really fresh, tasty lunch.  This recipe makes 4 hefty servings at 6 Weight Watchers points per serving.  Enjoy!

Simple Summery Side Salad

So, as we all know, it’s March.  But, apparently, California’s weather gods haven’t gotten the memo.  It’s been sunny and warm every day, recently, so I’ve been finding myself craving summery things.  Things like popsicles, swimming, doing nothing and yummy light salads.  This salad is a double whammy, because it’s a variation on one that my childhood best friend’s mom used to cook for us all the time.  It’s really simple and really yummy.


1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, thinly sliced (we’re talking as thin as you can get.)

8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp EVOO

Salt and pepper to taste

Basically, you combine all the ingredients aaaaand that’s it.  I like to make this salad a day ahead of time, or at least a couple hours, because the onion soaks in the balsamic and it softens and sweetens it.  It is a really nice, crispy addition to a summertime meal, like a barbecue or…I mean does anyone eat anything but barbecue in the summer?  Maybe a sandwich.  Also you can eat this during the other seasons.  It makes 4 servings and each serving is 5 Weight Watchers points.  Enjoy!