Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Slap that Base

January 28, 2016

I’ve never had a practical vegetable soup base recipe in my arsenal of recipes. Not sure why. According to Marisa at Food in Jars, “Now before you start praising me and calling me a genius, I must tell you, the idea behind this soup base is not the work of my personal brilliance. I’ve seen it in many places over the years.”

Disclosure: this recipe is adapted from Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks, who in turn adapted it from Pam Corbin in The River Cottage Preserves Handbook.

Having both parsley and cilantro appeals to me more than having to chose favorites.

Bon Appetit!


  • 3-4 large carrots (a pound or a little more)
  • 4 celery stalks (include leaves if they look good)
  • 8 ounces sea salt
  • 1 large leek (remove the tough green tops)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 large bundle cilantro or parsley (include the stems)
  • 4 ounces dried tomatoes (I use my homemade ones, but store bought sun-dried tomatoes work well too)
  • 5-6 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns


  1. Fit a food processor with an S-shaped chopping blade.
  2. Chop all the vegetables into relatively small chunks (if you have a smallish food processor, you might want to divide the veg into two batches so as not to overtax your processor).
  3. Start with the carrots (densest vegetables first!). Put them into food processor container and pulse until they’re broken down into small bits.
  4. Add the celery and process.
  5. Now add about one-quarter of the salt and process.
  6. Add leeks and onions and process.
  7. Add another quarter of the salt and process.
  8. Add cilantro or parsley and process.
  9. More salt, and process. You may also need to scrape the sides of the processor bowl down at this point.
  10. Finally, add the tomatoes, garlic cloves, and black peppercorns and process.
  11. Then add the rest of the salt and process until it is fully integrated.
  12. The finished base should be relatively uniform in consistency and color.
  13. Pack into jars and refrigerate for up to four months. For longer storage, freeze for up to a year.


To reconstitute the soup base, use approximately 1 teaspoon per cup of water.

Yield: 7-8 cups

Homemade Vegetable Soup Base


Quart Crockpot Chicken Mole

May 9, 2013
Quart Crockpot Chicken Mole serves 2
1 bottle IBC Root Beer

2 Chicken Breasts (boneless, skinless)

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

dried parsley*

2-3 Tbs Cholula Chili Lime Hot Sauce

Use Quart-sized Crockpot

Add root beer

Stir in tomato paste

Sprinkle parsley* to taste (or cilantro option)

Stir in hot sauce

Stir well

place chicken breasts in pot, submerge under sauce as much as possible.

High setting for 10-11 hours

Serve with choice of side dish, e.g., rice, quinoa, pasta, warm corn tortillas, chilled avocado tomato salad, roasted corn salad.

Frozen or semi-frozen chicken breasts will fall apart less in cooking. I throw this together before going to work and enjoy a savory meal when I come home.

Holiday Recipes (6): Eight Layer Casserole and Greek Noodle Casserole @foodinjars

December 3, 2012

The rainy weather in Los Angeles this weekend prompted me to drive more cautiously and to think about casseroles – well, not in that order, but you understand. Truly, there is nothing more comforting after a long day of trying to create holiday cheer in the office (event planning and gift wrapping) than to arrive home and find a hot soothing casserole and a glass of wine waiting for you. Here are two recipes to boost the comfort in your comfort food this December. I am reminded of my childhood favorite we called “Ussi Souffle” – a cheese and egg casserole inspired by a Danish neighbor. I might post that recipe at a later time.


Eight Layer Casserole

eightlayer casserole

Makes 8 servings in 2-quart square baking dish

30 minutes prep, bake 55 minutes, 10 minutes to stand before serving



3 cups dried medium noodles (6 oz)

1 pound ground beef

2 8 oz cans tomato sauce

1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 8 oz sour cream

1 8 oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup milk

1/3 cup chopped onion (1 small)

1 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, cooked and well drained

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz)



Grease a 2-quart casserole or a 2-quart square baking dish; set aside. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook beef until brown. Drain off fat. Stir tomato sauce, basil, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper into skillet. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl beat together the sour cream and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in milk and onion. In prepared casserole or baking dish, layer half of the noodles (about 2 cups), half of the meat mixture (about 1 1/2 cups), half of the cream cheese mixture (about 1 cup), and all of the spinach. Top with the remaining meat mixture and noodles. Cover and chill remaining cream cheese mixture until needed.

Cover casserole or baking dish with lightly greased foil. Bake in 350 degree F oven about 45 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; spread with remaining cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings


Alternate: Prepare as directed through Step 3. Cover with lightly greased foil and chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; spread with remaining cream-cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before baking.

*                  *

Greek Noodle Casserole (Pastitsio)


Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis (tips from Marisa McClellan @foodinjars)

Prep Time: 20 min

Inactive Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 1 hr

6 to 8 servings in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish



Butter, for greasing the baking dish

Kosher salt

12 oz egg noodles

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, chopped or smashed

1 pound ground lamb

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

One 26-oz jar tomato-basil sauce (3 1/4 cups)

1 1/2 packed cups fresh mint leaves, chopped



1 cup milk, at room temperature

1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

3 cups grated Parmesan (about 6 oz)

1 cup plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, optional



Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the noodles until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the lamb, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, 1 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and mint. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

For the sauce: Simmer the milk and cream over medium heat in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Reduce the heat to low. Add the cheese and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the yogurt.

Add the meat sauce to the pasta and toss well until the noodles are coated. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Spoon the cheese sauce evenly on top and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped mint if using, and serve.


Before you get cooking, here are a few things you should know:

— Ground lamb can often be quite greasy. If your meat seems to be swimming in oil after you’ve browned it, pour the fat off into a small dish before proceeding to the next step in the recipe.

— When you cook the pasta, make sure to stop just shy of al dente. Because this dish gets baked, this prevents the noodles from dissolving into mush during their time in the oven.

— This dish calls for a ton of mint. If your mint plants have died back for the season or you can’t afford the grocery store prices, use baby spinach instead. Simply chop it fine and stir it in. It won’t be quite as authentic, but you’ll still get your greens.

— I like to serve this casserole with a giant green salad to balance out its richness. Should you want to keep all the components of the meal warm, however, a pan of softened kale with garlic is also nice.


Holiday Recipes (3) Hot Mulled Cider

November 30, 2012

Hot Mulled Cider Recipe


  • 1/2 gallon of fresh, unfiltered apple cider
  • 1 orange
  • 15 cloves
  • 4 3-inch sticks of cinnamon
  • 15 allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 7 pods of cardamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Pour apple cider into a 3-quart saucepan, cover, turn the heat on medium-high. While cider is heating up, take a vegetable peeler and peel away a couple thick strips of peel from the orange. Press about half of the cloves into the peeled part of the orange. (You can also just quarter the orange and add the slices and cloves separately. I just like seeing the orange bob up and down.) Place orange, orange peel strips, the remaining cloves, and the rest of the ingredients into the sauce pan with the cider. Keep covered and heat the mulled cider mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes on low heat.

2 Use a fine mesh sieve to strain the hot mulled cider away from the orange, cloves, and other spices. If you want, you can add a touch of bourbon, brandy, or rum to spike it up a bit. Serve hot. Add a cinnamon stick to each cup if desired.

Makes 8 cups.

Vaariations: add fresh ginger, try allspice, substitute 1/2 cup maple syrup for brown sugar,

Holiday Recipes (2) Spicy Pumpkin Pie Cookies

November 29, 2012

Spicy Pumpkin Pie Cookies Thanks to Syd for her innovation and post.


  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can pumpkin puree (NOT PUMPKIN PIE MIX)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 ½ cup AP flour
  • 1 tb baking powder
  • 1 tb vanilla
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tb ground cinnamon
  • Graham cracker crumbs (about 2-3 cups)
  • Pecan halves
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tb melted butter
  • 2 tb orange juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  1. Set oven to 350°
  2. Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar on med/high heat until light and fluffy.
  3. Scrape down bowl and turn mixer back on, then add pumpkin puree slowly, allowing mix to come together between each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. Scrape the bowl, then add dry ingredients.
  6. Mix slowly until well combined. Do not over mix.
  7. Place baking parchment on cookie sheet. Take a small dollop of dough, about the size of a pencil eraser, and place under opposite corners of the parchment to secure it while baking.
  8. Scoop balls of dough and drop into graham cracker crumbs one ball at a time, being sure to completely cover each cookie.
  9. Press half a pecan (or walnut) into each cookie, spaced 1-1/2″ to 2″ apart.
  10. Place racks in oven and back for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on cooling racks.
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tb melted butter
2 tb orange juice
1 tsp maple syrup
Mix and pour into a plastic ziplock bag, cut a small hole into the corner to drizzle icing on cooled cookies.

Holiday Recipes (1) Caprese Latkes

November 28, 2012

Caprese Latkes

  • Prep Time : 15 min
  • Cook Time : 25 min
  • Ready Time : 40 min

Servings: 10


  • 2 large baking potatoes (about 3 pounds), peeled and shredded
  • 1 large onion, shredded
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup matzah meal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Canola oil for frying
  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 (7-ounce) balls fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
  • 2 medium red tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper


In a large bowl, stir together potatoes, onions, eggs, matzah meal, and salt.  Line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towels.  Heat enough oil to reach a depth of about 1/4-inch in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Form potato mixture into 3-inch round latke, and fry in batches until browned and crisp, about 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to prepared pan.  Continue making latkes with remaining mixture.  Meanwhile, combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to simmer, and cook until reduced and thickened,
about 10 to 12 minutes. To assemble, place each latke on an appetizer plate. Top with one slice mozzarella, one slice tomato, and a leaf or small sprig of basil. Garnish with a drizzle of reduced balsamic, some olive oil, and pepper to taste.


Thanksgiving 2012

November 15, 2012

Don’t let the deadlines, headlines or stress mess with your gratitude. We all have a lot to be thankful for. Here’s some Thanksgiving recipes and treats to inspire you! Please feel free to repost and share…just let me know what time dinner is served and I’ll be there!

Try a New Orleans Thanksgiving. Last year Chef Guy DuPlantier III of Crazy Creole made ours magical with an All-American Creole Thanksgiving meal – gumbo, jambalaya, bread pudding, ettouffe. Ain’t nothing but goodness!


Thinking about your Thanksgiving meal? Let the L.A. Food Bloggers group help you! We have tons of great ideas and recipes!


Bitten Word offers that it’s time to start planning your menu in earnest.


@UCLA_Alumni Celebrating #UCLAAlumniDay with Bruin-tini!

March 11, 2012

UCLA Alumni Day is coming soon – May 5, 2012.

Live Better, Work Better, Get Inspired! There will be Power Panel speakers (yay Evan Kleiman ’76, M.B.A. ’80), performance by L’Enfant Terrible (double yay!), info fair, campus tours, planetarium shows, and opening session with Chancellor Gene Block and leading global business mind, Marshall Goldsmith Ph.D. ’77.

If you’ve never seen L’Enfant Terrible, you are in for a treat! “Critically acclaimed theater troupe L’Enfant Terrible turns Shakespeare’s gory drama into rip-roaring fare for children of all ages and those young at heart with Titus the Clownicus.” Really silly and family-friendly Shakespeare.
One of my favorite fellow alums, actor and marketing professional, Madeleine Drake, recently shared a mixture for raising a unique UCLA toast – the Bruin-tini. Cheers!


Simple Syrup*
1 cup ultrafine pure cane sugar
1 cup water
Combine in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved, cool.

2 ounces vodka (store vodka in freezer, serve chilled)
1 teaspoon simple syrup*
3/4 ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Ice cubes
Superfine blue sugar for dipping rim of martini glass
Twisted peel of lemon
Yellow gummy bears

Prepare simple sugar and juice lemons. Shake vodka, simple syrup and ice in martini shaker. Moisten rim of glass with lemon juice and coat by dipping into a saucer of blue sugar. Add ice cube(s) to taste, pour drink into glass.

Slice gummy bear from bottom to belly carefully and place straddling rim of glass. Go Bruins!


Going Gluten-free with Cauliflower and Pesto Pizza

February 2, 2012

No wheat, no pizza, right? The Cauliflower and Pesto Pizza recipe is the result of a little research, a little creativity, and a little hunger in a gluten-free life. Bon appétit!

Cauliflower and Pesto Pizza
1/2 head cauliflower (or 1 1/2 cups grated)

20 oz grated tempeh* (1/5 package from Trader Joe’s)

2 tbs minced garlic
1 large egg
1 cup shredded cheese (mild like mozzarella is good)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 dash dried mint (optional)
1 tsp dried parsley


1/2 cup pesto sauce (or pizza sauce)
1/2 cup shredded cheese
toppings (suggested: crumbled bacon, pepperoni, pineapple, olives or olive tapanade, bell pepper, crumbled blue cheese)


Grate the cauliflower into small crumbles. Grate the tempeh into small crumbles. Add garlic.

Place a large bowl and microwave for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not add other ingredients until cooled.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Add very light coating of olive oil to pizza baking stone (Pampered Chef pizza stone)

Whip egg, add spices in small bowl.

Add egg mix and cheese to cauliflower crust ingredients. Stir. Blend with spatula, flattening ingredients together by pressing.

Transfer dough to pizza stone. Create flat “dough” crust on stone using spatula to flatten from center outward.

Bake for 15 minutes (or until golden). Remove the crust from the oven and turn oven up to broil.

Spread pesto/sauce on top of baked crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge.

Sprinkle ½ cup cheese on top. Add the desired toppings. Sprinkle a little cheese on top of toppings.

Broil pizza 3 to 4 minutes, or until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Cool 5 minutes before slicing into 8 slices. Serves 2.

A recent front page article in Bottom Line magazine highlights the health dangers of wheat (“Put Down That Slice of Bread!” Feb 1, 2012).;cs=D

“People who crave wheat are actually experiencing an addiction. When the gluten in wheat is digested, it releases … endorphins.” This sets off cravings and decreases the sense of being full. Additionally, you or someone you know may be living with a gluten allergy known as Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects approximately one in 133 people in the United States.

Whether you are allergic, sensitive or just savvy, wheat can be a big daily problem. Wheat seems unavoidable as an ingredient in items such as breads, cakes, breakfast cereals, pasta, crackers, tortillas, puddings, beer, soy sauce and even condiments, such as ketchup. Substitutes (such as rice flour) are so dense and bland that it seems counterintuitive to use them to “lighten” up your meals.

My gluten-free adventure started at the end of December. The holidays ushered in the typical over-indulgence in baked goods and chocolates, followed by an increased feeling of being sluggish. Someone suggested FAA, a free online system of eating that addressed the need to eliminate the blood sugar-spikers of wheat and sugar. Although Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, and all the other weight loss programs might be helpful and effective for some, they have huge marketing and advertising budgets that need to be covered by membership fees and overpriced products. Instead I turned to the book Sugar Busters (Ballentine), and started weeding out wheat, sugar, corn, potatoes, etc. from my life. Eliminating wheat and sugar from the foods I choose has been challenging but very productive! Being more creative in the kitchen has produced several new recipes as well.

I love the Cauliflower pizza! It is so easy and quick to make and the resulting meal (with salad or veggies) is satisfying and healthy! I do use pesto sauce from Costco, but making pesto adds a new level of invention. Enjoy!
* Tempeh is the high protein and high calcium result when soybeans are cooked and fermented. This all plant non-meat, non-wheat alternative has a slightly nutty flavor and offers a grainy texture like ground beef, completely unlike tofu. If you are seeking isoflavones, tempeh offers that benefit, too. Trader Joe’s sells an Organic 3 Grain Tempeh.

@bittenword Adding color and taste to a January resolution with salad

January 9, 2012

Living up to new year’s resolutions (such as losing weight without catching the flu to do it!) can challenge many of us. If you are not already a fan and following The Bitten Word, make it a 2012 resolution now. Zach and Clay blog from Washington, DC, inspired by food magazines. The writing is accessible, the recipes tasty, and the blog offers recipes, photos and tips you need to continue the exploration in cuisine.

Click link below to see the most recent Bittenword post featuring a January salad that will tempt you. If staying on track with sensible eating is your goal, do try it. If eating unconventional food pairings tempts you, do try it. Although I am steering away from wheat, all glutens, and especially the forbidden toasted breadcrumbs, I will sprinkle my salad with toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds instead with a dash of black sesame seeds for color.

Enjoy! Thank you Bittenword!

Radicchio and Cauliflower Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs

1 medium head radicchio (about 1/2 lb.)
1-1/2 cups coarse, fresh breadcrumbs (from a country-style French or Italian loaf)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 small cauliflower (about 1-1/4 lb.), cored and cut into 1-inch florets
1 medium clove garlic
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar; more as needed
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 large egg yolk
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Remove any damaged outer leaves from the radicchio, quarter it, remove the core, and cut each quarter crosswise into 1-inch widths.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Put the breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and toss lightly with 2 Tbs. of olive oil to coat evenly. Spread in a thin, even layer and season lightly with salt. Bake, stirring every few minutes, until crisp and light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool on the pan.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the cauliflower in the boiling water until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, spread on a baking sheet, and set aside at room temperature.

Put the garlic in a mortar, add a pinch of salt, and pound to a paste with a pestle. Or mince and then mash to a paste with the side of a chef’s knife. Combine the garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk in the egg yolk, and then slowly whisk in the remaining olive oil until emulsified. Taste with a piece of cauliflower and season with more vinegar or salt if necessary.

Put the cauliflower in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Gently toss with just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Add the radicchio and parsley, season with salt and pepper, and toss again with just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Taste and add more salt or vinaigrette if necessary. Gently transfer the salad to a platter or individual serving plates; it’s best if it’s arranged somewhat flat. Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette on the salad (you may not need it all), scatter the breadcrumbs on top, and serve.