The Beauty of Carmel-Not Car-A-mel

Carmel, CA. Home to amazing restaurants, stunning wines, fabulous beaches, world famous golf courses, and a city studded with classic history.


If you are looking for amazing food, check out the restaurant at the Cypress Inn in Carmel, CA. They have an amazing selection of food, but nothing seemed as interesting as the Chicken Piccata.  This is typically chicken that has been pounded thin, sauteed until crispy and golden brown, and finished with a lemon sauce containing lemon, wine, and capers. We had this at the Cypress Inn and it was finished with some wild rice, green beans, carrots, and pickled capers

This was very well done and super tasty. The chicken was moist and crispy, the lemon sauce had a little bit of acidity with a smooth finish, and capers that provided some bitter and spicy notes. I have made this before and plan on making it for you guys very soon!


Looking for amazing wine? There are a ton of vineyards and tasting rooms in Carmel, but Figge Wines has to be one of the best. They had some amazing Pinot Grigios and Pinot Noirs, and the staff was amazing and friendly.

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar:

This was one of my favorite places in Carmel and it offered two of my favorite things, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Okay, I must admit, I was so excited that I forgot to take pictures. The reason I forgot was because I was so busy staring at about 15 different types of olive oil and 20 types of balsamic vinegar. I am not kidding, this was an incredible stop! All different kinds of oils and vinegars, with all the products aged and imported from Italy. I could have spent the entire day just tasting the available inventory — oh, and it didn’t hurt they had a wine bar as well if you wanted to do that as well. Just as we were leaving there was a large group of people coming in to taste. This was a really cool place and well worth a visit.

The View:

Alright, this is the what makes Carmel so amazing in my opinion. The beaches are stunning and the color of the ocean rivals that of Hawaii, in my opinion. Truthfully,  I think this picture pretty well says it all.

Go to Carmel. I had an amazing time and you will too! I promise!

Look for more on my recent travels and food adventures coming soon!

Triumphant Return

Hello! I am back from my amazing trip full of so much food and adventure! I can’t wait to share some of the things I have made, tasted, and eaten. It is going to be epic! Here are some of the things that I will be covering in some of my upcoming blog posts. We will be talking about paella, spanish tortillas, the craziest beef burger that will blow your mind and was homemade! Believe me, we aren’t done there. There are more food adventures to follow!

Stay tuned! The writing barrage has just begun!

Hello Fom The Road!

Greetings from the Bay Area!! It has been an awesome trip so far! I can’t begin to tell you about the food that I’ve eaten and made over the last few days! It has been quite the variety. Here is a quick update on some of the things I have eaten. Trust me there is plenty more to come.

I had some perfect Chicken Piccatta from an amazing hotel and restaurant in Carmel, CA. Piccatta is a lightly sauteed chicken with a lemon sauce that has capers and wine as the base of the sauce. Seriously, if you can find this, make it now! It is so good!!

Homemade Spanish Tortilla which is a lot like a quiche, but the application is much simpler. You can flavor it with anything! It is so quick to make. You can use it for any meal and it can be on the table in 20 minutes.

Some lamb and beef gyros from a local Mediterranean hotspot with taztizki( a yogurt sauce with cucumber and lemon) and home made pestos that are to die for! So good! I’m hungry just thinking about it!

This is just beginning of the list of some of the great food on this trip. I look forward to sharing mor with you as the trip continues.

Oh, in case you are wondering where the photos are….well, turns out that I am being thwarted by technology. Sad, right? The technology I am using is only allowing me to limp along, but I won’t be able to correct it until I return to homebase. I know, sad, but think about all the photos that will be waiting to make their blog debut.

Stay tuned! This adventure continues!!

Pasta Possibilities

I’ve been working diligently to write an awesome pasta post for the last few days. However, between getting ready for my trip and my excitement, I haven’t been able to complete that post. The struggles of being a home cook and a blogger, huh?

Instead, here is the shortish version of some of the pastas I have been making. Ready? Let’s go!

First up is the classic fettuccine.

For me, fettuccine is always my first choice. I love fettuccine! It holds up to most sauces, has a great texture, and is the easiest to make, in my opinion.

Bath time for our faithful fettuccine.

Pasta Perfection.

I just dressed this with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, butter, and a little fresh parmesan cheese. Although it seems simple, it is a perfect balance of flavors.

Looking for a different twist? I did two variations on basil fettuccine. This first application I actually rolled the whole basil leaves into the dough. I did use my hand crank pasta roller to achieve this look. Notice the fettuccine has a green hue and you can see the specks of basil throughout.

Pretty cool, right?

After a couple of minutes in a pasta hot springs, you end up with this cooked pasta featured below.

Below is a completed dish using this basil pasta with a mushroom lemon cream sauce I created on the fly. It was so darn good! I will be sure to share the recipe for this sauce very soon as I am still making sure the measurements are sound.

Finally, I made basil fettuccine where the basil has been pureed, the liquid has been incorporated into the pasta dough, and turns the dough green.

Here is a look at the dough.

You can see the dough is green through and through in the photo above. It doesn’t really impact the flavor, but it has more to do with how the dough looks. You might notice the very subtle flavor of basil, but it won’t be overpowering in any way.

Okay, are you green with envy for this basil fettuccine? As you can see, it really looks spectacular and is darn tasty to boot.

I chose to toss the pasta in some olive oil, salt, pepper, butter, and fresh parmesan cheese. I think for any fresh pasta having a simple sauce allows you to make sure your noodles are cooked and taste good. Otherwise, you run the risk of making a great tomato or cream based sauce to go with your noodles, but the pasta aren’t right and you may have to scrap your sauce. Just keep this in mind as you settle in with making pasta.

Note: This method does have some drawbacks. This was actually my second attempt at making the pasta look like this. The first try…..well, lets just say the color of the dough wasn’t appealing at all. Remember how I talked about the color of one of my test batches of my roasted red pepper sauce that didn’t work out?  Yeah, the color was something like that…….okay, moving on! Since I am still testing this recipe, I am not going to put it up on the blog just yet.  I am hopeful this recipe will be ready to debut soon. Keep in mind, you can make pasta out of beets, sweet potato, spinach, carrot, and so much more! Yes, you can make it all from home!! 

Well, I’m off to pack from my trip! Stay tuned for updates from the road!


Ready for a Road Trip

I’m pretty excited as I prepare for a week long trip into California and to parts of the Southwest that will feature amazing food, great drinks, and some stellar company. Who will be accompanying me on this adventure? Well, as it is Father’s Day weekend coming up, it would seem fitting that I take this trip with my dad. I suppose you could call this a boys trip if you will. Throughout my life, we have taken a few trips and have had many adventures along the way. I am looking forward to adding a list of new adventures and stories to the mix.

Since I won’t be stationary as much, it will be likely that my postings could be sporadic. However, I think the food will be stunning and I’m excited to share them with you as I can. I plan to resume normal blogging activity after I return which will be about 2 weeks from today’s date. Remember, the blog will have activity, so keep checking back to see what new content has arrived.


Beat The Summer Heat

For those of you who don’t know, I don’t do well in the heat. Once that heat infiltrates my body, my brain turns into a mushy puddle. So, when it comes to cooking in the heat, I like to follow a couple of simple rules.

First, find dishes that are best served cold. Need an example for what that might be? Okay, how about roasted corn and avocado salsa, just add the avocado right before you serve it.

Next, you could break out some of the watermelon salad, just keep the watermelon, cucumber, and bell pepper in the fridge until you are ready to put the dish together. The best part about this dish is that these ingredients contain a lot of water, so not only do these items provide much needed hydration, but the high-water content allows them to stay really, really cold.

Second, the barbecue can save your bacon, er..I mean chicken…I mean, well you get the idea. Seriously, the barbecue is a great way to apply heat without sharing it with the rest of your house. Plus, grilling is fun and an adult beverage is generally included in any outdoor cooking activity. So, any proteins or vegetables that can be cooked on the the ole’ cue, the better.

Lastly, if you have to do any cooking inside, try to pick short-cooking applications to minimize the heat, or cook at the last minute if you can.

Alright, shall we look at a dish that fits this criteria?  Let’s go!

Dishes that are best served cold…hmm, well I have some cut up watermelon, bell peppers, and a little feta. No, this isn’t deja vu, but since it was so hot outside we decided to enjoy the watermelon salad again. That’s right, it is that good!

Need a refresher on this dish? Here is the link to complete this salad

When it comes to the barbecue, do what ever works for you. You could do steak, chicken, pork, fish, or you could even grill some portobello mushrooms if that is more your style. For me, a little rib eye steak fits the bill nicely.

If you need to review making the perfect steak, follow this link

Finally, we need something that will cook quickly but won’t add a ton of heat to the house. Okay, here is what I went with to make this summer meal the perfect trio.

Thats right, we are going with a little pasta. Oh, did I mention these noodles are made from scratch? Yes, this is simple fettuccine style pasta. I know, why would I suggest making pasta as a quick cooking option? The truth is that homemade fettuccine rolled out on a pasta machine only takes 2-3 minutes to cook in boiling water. You read that correctly, it only takes 2-3 minutes and it is ready to serve. Now if you hand-rolled the pasta it might be a bit thicker and will probably take 5-6 minutes, but that is still less time than it would take to cook dried pasta. Make sure to taste the noodles to ensure if they are completely cooked to your liking.

For the record, I am covering pasta making in various blog posts a little bit at a time. I promise, you too, can make pasta at home. After 2-3 (or 5-6 minutes), drain the pasta, add butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and combine until noodles are coated. Right as you go to serve this grate a little fresh Parmesan cheese on top to give the noodles some extra richness. If you do that, you might end up with a something that looks like this.

These are perfect, quick cooking, and are a delightfully blank canvas that you can flavor any way you like and cook yourself into the culinary-history books.

How might this plate come together? Well, I will let this photo answer that question for you.

This is a perfect way to beat the summer heat. The only thing missing is a nice glass of wine or a cold beer. So, before it gets any hotter, stop what you are doing and go beat that summer heat! You won’t be disappointed!


Butter and Wine Samba for Salmon

The incomparable Julia Child once said, “With enough butter, anything is good.”  Without question, she is right and butter can make anything better.

I had been hearing a lot about a legendary butter sauce for the last few years, but as with so many sauces it has a number of pitfalls. Truth is, the sauce called Beurre Blanc, is nothing more than butter and wine emulsified together into a thick, rich, tangy (incredibly delicious!) sauce. What can you do with this sauce? More importantly — what can’t you do with this sauce? Seriously, you can drizzle it over broccoli, chicken, pork, salmon, or nearly any fish known to man-kind. Heck you could spread it on your toast and wash it down with your morning cup of java. Alright, that might be a little far fetched, but this really goes to show that you can do nearly anything with this sauce.

Oh, did I say salmon? Yes! You can apply a tablespoon or two of Beurre Blanc and you will be set to go. This sauce has plenty of depth and richness, especially on a richly-flavored fish such as salmon — that you won’t need more sauce, I promise.

Alright, ready to do this? Yeah, me too!

Okay, a quick side note, this is an amazing sauce, but this is probably more of a special occasion sauce. Beurre Blanc is an incredible sauce, however, it is very rich. I am a firm believer in moderation, and this is a great example of a not-your-everyday sauce.

Basic Beurre Blanc

Note: This recipe has been divided in half and is just enough for two with a little bit to spare. Here is the link for the original recipe

    • 1-2 teaspoons fresh garlic, chopped
    • 1-2 teaspoons of red onion, chopped
    • 1 tablespoons white wine (anything that you would normally drink)
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • About 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold and cut up in small cubes
    • 1 pinch salt and pepper


  1. Place the first 4 ingredients into a sauce pan and simmer over medium-low heat until liquid is reduced by half. Also, the onions and garlic should be soft in texture and very mild in flavor.
  2. Slowly start to add the pieces of cold butter (one cube at a time), making sure you are constantly whisking after you add a piece of butter, in order to maintain a smooth consistency.
  3. Add salt and pepper and stir until combined. Sauce should be creamy and smooth. Serve immediately.

If you notice your sauce is forming any solids, don’t worry, just strain the sauce until you  get a smooth sauce.

Seriously that is it! Remember, you will want to serve this right away while it is hot, because it doesn’t play nice when it starts to cool.

So, I do have photos to share. However, there are only two as the sauce requires constant attention, I don’t have enough arms to stir, add butter, and take the photo at the same time. Alright, here we go!

Here is one way to handle this salmon. On a foil plate with olive oil, salt, pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, paprika, and a little brown sugar. Place on the barbecue over medium-heat for about 15 minutes. Remove the salmon from heat, cover with foil, and let it rest for 5 minutes or so. Like beef or chicken, the salmon will continue to cook as it rests, so allowing it to rest will make sure it doesn’t overcook.

Oh, yeah, roasted cauliflower too. On a foil plate, toss the cauliflower in olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a little paprika. Just make sure you mix these around every few minutes so they don’t get super dark and overcook. You should be able to easily pierce the florets with a fork when the cauliflower is cooked through.

I wanted to give you a look at the sauce so you can get an idea of the consistency and color.

This is what you are looking for with your Beurre Blanc, it is heavenly with that rich, tangy, and thickened mouth feel.

Congratulations! You have leveled up to Salmon Beurre Blanc Master!!

If nothing else, this sauce is worth having once in my opinion. I had to share this sauce because I was so excited with the complex flavor profile. Having this sauce once may be all you want or need, but if you need to make a splash at a dinner party you cant go wrong with this sauce! The proof is in…well, the sauce.


Shakin’ Up Your Summer Salad
Salads are a great summer side because they are easy, versatile, and full of different flavors. For a long time, I thought of salads in a few simple categories such as greens, coleslaw or fruit salad. Why do we yearn for these salads? Well, such salads or sides often hold up well in during travel — from home to an event, stay cold for extended periods of time, provide a great way to bring in some new flavors and textures, and by golly — they can be lots of fun!

Personally, on hot day there’s nothing I love more than diving into a cold, refreshing fruit salad to help keep the body heat from rising. Additionally, the crunch of the coleslaw and the richness and tang of the right dressing can really provide a great contrast for all your classic summer treats.

Imagine my surprise when a year ago or so, my in-house copy-editor asked if I had ever tried a watermelon salad with bell peppers and feta cheese. Immediately my mind began to calculate the odds of this being a successful side dish before I even managed to say “no.” We quickly realized that executing this salad was the only course of action.

Now, in fairness, the recipe had a lot of great ideas and flavor combinations, but it was important to make sure the salad was truly ours at the end of the day. So, with some changes, a little bit of adventurousness, and some basic ingredients, we are going to put this salad into your arsenal of unexpected but delightful summer dishes. Plus, this is so light and refreshing, you hardly know you are eating a salad at all.

This recipe has been adapted from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen who adapted the original from Bon Appetit. For the original recipe, click the on this link 
Ready to take your summer salad to a whole new level? Let’s do this!

Watermelon Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Bon Appetit

Note: You might find you want a little more watermelon or less bell pepper, so adjust according to your preferences.

1 cup diced seeded watermelon
1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1/2 large cucumber cut into 1/3-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves, rough chop
1-2 tablespoons of basil, rough chop
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 oz (1/2 cup) of feta cheese, broken off into chunks, which can be added on the side for service.
4-6 tablespoons of dressing of your choice

Toss first 9 ingredients in a large bowl.

So, here is everyone in the pool together. The colors on this salad are amazing!!

Stir to combine. Check seasoning and adjust if needed. Add cheese and dressing and toss until coated.

Here is your finished product! This salad is so simple, but such an unexpected treat. Once you add the feta cheese, give the salad a gentle mix so you don’t break the feta chunks up too much.

If you are curious about what your dressing options are, well, it could be anything. My preference is a simple vinaigrette for this salad. Big surprise, huh? My go-to vinaigrette is balsamic, of course. The balsamic provides much needed tartness and helps cut through the salty, richness of the feta cheese. Because this salad is so vibrant I don’t want to use my normal dressing because it would overshadow these great ingredients with a heavy dressing. Instead, just mix about 6 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar(or vinegar of your choice), a pinch of salt and pepper, and whisk until combined and emulsified. That is all you need to dress this salad. Start with a few spoonfuls of dressing, mix and taste, and add more if needed. As I said, you really want all those ingredients to shine, so a little less dressing is okay for this application.

Honestly, this salad speaks for itself and is a great option for quick salad anytime of the year. This is dish best served cold! Seriously, on hot days like today, you can’t beat this salad. As usual, this is so customizable and you could certainly add a myriad of other seasonings, fruits or vegetables that fit your flavor profile. For me, this salad hits all the notes, and for that reason it doesn’t need to be fussed with too much. In fact, I have simplified the recipe quiet a bit myself because of how nice the flavors come together. This salad is sweet, crunchy, refreshing, salty, a little bit tart, and a welcome change to all of your usual summer salad suspects.


Tis Strawberry Season And That Means Jam!

We are at the height of strawberry season here in the ole’ Pacific Northwest. So it is no surprise that in practically every direction you can find fresh, local strawberries that are perfectly ripe and can be used for a variety of applications. But, let me just say that the strawberry jam I made a week ago has been such a big hit in my house that I’ve been tasked to make more. So, I decided to turn these amazing berries into some awesome jam.

As the strawberries were perfectly ripe I was able to use less sugar than I previously used, and I really wanted to make sure that the berry flavor was front and center. I also ended up using about half the amount of lemon juice as well. The jam was still amazing and delicious even with these adjustments! Just follow the usual steps in the strawberry jam recipe, just click the  link here to review the recipe — but if you have very ripe strawberries you may wish to reduce the sugar and use about half as much lemon. Remember, flavor balance is key, so adjust as needed.

I thought I would share a couple of pictures so you could see the beauty of these incredible berries. Ready? Lets do this!

This looks like a familiar sight doesn’t it? This shot was berry important. Yeah, I know I had to use that line. Seriously, these strawberries deserve their shot in the limelight, so here they are. I did peel off a few bits of lemon peel as well.  Isn’t the color on these strawberries amazing?? I will say nothing makes me happier than when I get to cook with really spectacular ingredients.

Mash the berries a little bit, and reduce until thickened. This is what you want to see.

This is truly berry bliss. The color of this jam is so vibrant and it really stands out. If you can find local strawberries, go get some, and make some jam! I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

I did spend some more time working on my recent pasta palooza, but in the midst of this little heat wave we are having, I learned that pasta dough doesn’t do well at very warm temperatures. Who knew? 🙂

Anyway, stay tuned for that and some much more!


Pasta Palooza Update

Alright, I wanted to give you all an update on my pasta palooza adventure. I think it should start with the fact that I bought a 25 pound bag of flour. Yes, yes I did. If you need some, just let me know and I can ship some to you. Okay, just kidding. I digress, I bought this giant bag for a couple of reasons, a small bag of flour goes so fast when you are making 2-3 balls of pasta dough at a time. Plus, flour gets used for everything like making the dough, finishing the dough, cleaning your hands after making the dough, and of course, wearing some of that flour too. Perhaps I’m too deep into this pasta quest? Oh well, on with the show!

So, what have I been working on? Well, I have been working on getting the dough to the proper consistency so it can be cut into pasta shapes or used for ravioli. Yes, for the last two days I have been making and testing dough. I am making good progress, but I have just a few things left to work out.

Oh, I decided to take this to another level since I was so inspired by the pasta class, so I acquired a hand crank pasta roller. Let me say, it is an awesome piece of kitchen equipment and worth having if you want to make fresh pasta. The down side is that the first one I purchased had a pasta cutter that didn’t want to work. Heck, it wouldn’t cut a sheet of wax paper. If it can cut paper, it won’t cut anything, certainly not pasta dough. The pasta machine has 3 functions, it will roll the pasta out to various levels of thicknesses, you can can cut angel hair pasta(super slim spaghetti), and it will cut fettuccine. So, I am waiting to receive my replacement and then I can share more about it. But, it is important to know that if you don’t have one of these machines, don’t worry, you can still roll the dough and cut it into noodle shapes just as easily.

Am I spending a lot of time on this? Yes, I am. However, there are a number of elements that have to work in concert together in order to have the perfect pasta. I don’t plan on giving up on this, because I am super excited to share with you what I have learned. That is the point, right? I am sharing my passion and I want all of you to be able to make your own homemade pasta. Also, learning new skills can take time and that is part of the fun of being in the kitchen.

Stay tuned and keep checking back as I will be posting more on this pasta venture soon!