Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010!

Wow- it's the end of another year already, and I find myself shaking my head, wondering where the last 12 months have gone.  It seems like just yesterday I was going bonkers in the kitchen, cooking for 40 people for the New Years party we threw last year.  I'll go ahead and say it with you- time flies when you're getting old!

I know there are lots of "Best Of" lists out there, so I figure why not bore you with yet another one?!  Hey, like I said, I'm getting old so I like to sit back and reminisce about the year gone by while I cry in my whiskey about how quickly time is slipping away from me....well, maybe that's not exactly how it goes (I don't drink whiskey) but here's a look back at my favorite dishes and restaurants of 2010.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rabbit Terrine

Ok, how many of you read the title and thought of Bugs Bunny?  Perhaps you had memories of a cute, fuzzy childhood pet...possibly named Hoppy or Money Da Bunny (ok, maybe you didn't but it'd be a cool name, ok?) to whom you'd feed carrots and cuddle with after school.  Maybe the word "rabbit" instantly takes you to the scene in Fatal Attraction when the little girl is running to her bunny cage to greet her beloved pet just as her mother walks into the kitchen to a mysterious pot of boiling something and they scream in unison as one discovers the rabbit missing and well, you know where it ended up.  Don't worry, this post isn't about any of those things, so if you hate Bugs Bunny or that scene in the movie, you're safe.  If you feel weird about eating rabbit, well...don't say I didn't warn ya!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Holiday Baking and a Confession

Christmas is right around the corner, and although I don't go bananas over every holiday tradition, I do love holiday baking.  One of the my favorite things about cooking is being able to feed the ones you care about, so distributing Christmas cookies is a great way to cover a LOT of people at once.

I made my first batch of goodies the other day, and although none were traditional Christmas cookies, I figure if you put them in a holiday container, they're automatically transformed into Christmas cookies!  Magic!  I knew I wanted to bake three different varieties but didn't want to end up cursing the pastry gods hours later with flour in my hair and butter under my fingernails (hm, not a great visual!) so I decided to do something I'd never done before.  Ok, here it goes: I bought pre-made pie dough (insert loud dramatic organ chord here)!!!!!!!  I have nothing against pre-made anything but have always tried  making everything from scratch.  Maybe Sandra Lee scared me off with some of her crazy "Semi-Homeade" ideas (Campbell's Cream of Mushroom can't be the basis of 60% of your recipes, ok?), but I felt a small tinge of guilt as I purchased two packages of Pillsbury pie crust.  I've crossed over to the dark side.  The Sandra Lee side.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving: Turkey Sandwich

Has everyone woken up from them turkey/food coma yet?  I definitely have, and was happy to realize that today is the day after Thanksgiving which can only mean one thing: TURKEY SANDWICHES!  As much as we all enjoy the bird, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, salad, corn and pie, I think you'll agree that one of the best, if not THE best thing about Thanksgiving is the leftovers.  

I love eating the cold turkey right out of the tupperware my parents sent me home with, but my absolute favorite thing in the world to make with leftover Thanksgiving turkey is sandwiches.  There are different variations of the turkey sandwich but I normally chop up the turkey and make it into a turkey salad, with diced onions, celery, pickle relish, kewpie mayo, dijon mustard and lots of black pepper.  Another tradition is to pile some stuffing and turkey between two slices of bread and douse it with gravy, although I guess that's quite a decadent sandwich!  I'll be making both of those very soon, but today I made a sandwich I'd never made before, based on a sandwich I'd had at a restaurant recently that blew my socks off.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Recipe: Healthy Lasagna (made with tofu!)

In my last post, I wrote about tweaking recipes in order to make them lighter and/or healthier. In the comments section, fellow Los Angeles food blogger Diana mentioned she often does the same thing, and was recently thinking about trying out tofu as a substitution for ricotta cheese in lasagna (adding that it might be a "crazy" idea!). Not so crazy, Diana (and PS, great minds think alike).  I’ve used tofu as a substitute for ricotta for about two years now, and I’m not sure what prompted me to try it, but I find it works pretty well in place of cheese and other creamy elements in a dish. I happened to make lasagna last night, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to finally post about it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Recipe: Healthy Chicken Parmigiana

 I’m always looking for ways to tweak recipes of my favorite dishes so they're a little bit healthier by reducing the fat or upping the fiber. Don’t get the wrong idea- I’m not going to present some dried-out hockey puck and try and sell you on the merits of how healthy it is. Healthy food has to taste good in order for one to want to eat it, and I do believe that it has to at least resemble the original dish.  I mean, I might like kale chips topped with some chopped tomatoes and garlic but don't even try and tell me they're called 'nachos,' ok?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

5 Year Blog Anniversary!

Today marks five years since I first started Tuna Toast.  Wow.  Where did the time go?!  Back in 2005, I stumbled upon a NY-based food blog called The Amateur Gourmet, written by a then new-to-the-kitchen guy named Adam who is now quite big in the food media world and is no longer an amateur but quite an accomplished cook!  His honest and often hilarious stories of his foray into cooking really inspired me to start my own food blog, so on November 11, 2005, Tuna Toast (named after a dish made from a thick slice of bread topped with tuna salad and cheese, then broiled until toasty that is a staple at many cafés throughout Japan) was born.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Pig's Head Bolognese


I’ve written about my addiction to cookbooks before, and I’m not lying- if I spy a beautiful, hard-covered cookbook filled with glossy photos of beautiful food, it’s virtually impossible to turn away without buying it.  Ditto if I see one online, especially if it’s won a James Beard Award or is highly recommended by a chef or food personality I admire.  So you can imagine how quickly I grabbed Il Viaggio Di Vetri: A Culinary Journey as it sat alone on the top shelf of the cookbooks section at Borders.  After all, it was written by Marc Vetri of Philadelphia's Vetri Ristorante, which Mario Batali called, “possibly one of the best Italian restaurants on the East Coast.”  Suzanne Goin once said “I do pretty much whatever Marc [Vetri] tells me to do.”  Yup, count me in.

I’ve never been fortunate enough to dine at one of Marc Vetri’s restaurants, but had heard he makes some of the best pasta in the United States.  After inviting my parents over for a family dinner, I started flipping through the pages, looking to see which fresh pasta I would try and recreate from Vetri’s many recipes.  However, one recipe in particular caught J’s eye, Pig’s Head Bolognese, and although it was one of the few pasta dishes in the book that called for dry, semolina pasta, I couldn’t deny the power of the pig and chose it being my journey into cooking a la Vetri.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

SugarFISH, Downtown Los Angeles

As readers of this blog probably know by now, I love sushi. Being half-Japanese, it’s something I grew up eating, whether it was of the roll your own variety that my parents served for dinner when I was a kid, boxed sushi in an eikben (a boxed bento sold at train stations in Japan) or at one of the two or three regular sushi joints J and I frequent around Los Angeles. J is particularly fond of it and 90% of the time I ask him where he wants to go out to eat, he says, “sushi.”

Monday, November 01, 2010

Artisan Cheese Gallery, Studio City

Don’t you find it difficult to answer when people ask you what your ONE favorite food in the world is?  I mean, there are so many delicious options that I’m not sure one can truly name just ONE thing that is their absolute favorite.  It depends on my mood, where I am, even the weather- I love a bowl of rich, deeply-flavored boeuf bourguignon, but it’d be the last thing I’d want to eat in August when stuff like ceviche is more what I’m craving.  Unless you’re an extremely picky eater and are happy eating the same thing every day (how one can live like that is beyond me!), I doubt you could narrow your food love to just one. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brunch at Bouchon Bistro, Beverly Hills


Thomas Keller. The man is the God of chefs. Not godfather; I mean he is literally some higher non-human power whose touch makes food turn into something other-worldly. He is known throughout the universe for his perfect attention to detail and is revered by chefs, food journalists, food bloggers and probably even some carrots or cows hoping to make it into one of his famous creations one day. Like I said, the man is GOD. Chefs want to be him, food wants to be cooked by him.

Although I’ve never been to his flagship restaurant, The French Laundry, I have had the extreme pleasure of meeting Mr. Keller after spying him at Church & State one night. My sudden burst of liquid confidence was brought on by several (we don’t need to discuss exact numbers now, do we?) glasses of rosé and I didn’t think twice about grabbing my sister and practically chasing the poor man down the street. I latched onto him, told him I loved him and made him pose for several photos. Do I even need to tell you how profound my “morning after” shame was the next day? I mean, who cares if you wake up in bed next to a stranger, grab your things and sneak out? It hardly compares to making a drunken fool out of yourself in front of ThomasFreakingKeller. Talk about shame spiral.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Artisanal LA

Over the weekend, I got a chance to check out Artisanal LA, a 2-day showcase of local bakers, chocolatiers, chefs and other food artisans held at the Cooper Building in Downtown L.A. It was nice to go to a food event that was extremely inexpensive ($10 tickets, if purchased in advance) where you actually get to speak at length with the people behind the yummy food, all of which were being sampled. Uh, sign me up!

The airy, well-lit loft space was well organized, and my parents and I decided to tackle the event from one end to the next. We immediately were drawn to these beautiful baguettes from Homeboy Industries (me + bread = happy) and almost gave into the smell of tacos coming from their flattop but we resisted since we had to save room for all of the other goodies being dished out. I was glad to see Homeboy Industries represented, and got a chance to congratulate them on the upcoming restaurant in LAX that will in the near future. The person I spoke with said that although they are happy about having an income source for the struggling company, the location (in an international airport) prohibits ex-felons from working there…which kind of defeats the purpose of having a Homeboy Industries restaurant, since the mission of the company is to help ex-convicts to get back into the work force. It’s unfortunate, and I hope the company will be able to open up additional businesses that can actually employ they people that they are helping.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Quick And Easy: Shrimp Soft Tacos

Over the weekend, I attended Artisanal LA, a gathering of local food artisans showcase their handmade items. I sampled a LOT of yummy food, met some incredible people and took many photos, so I'll be posting more about the event later. In the meantime, I got a chance to use one of the things I purchased while I was there and I wanted to share it with you.

Chef Zarate (of Mo Chica fame) was selling one item- a Peruvian salsa called anticucho. The minute my parents and I tasted a bit of the fiery marinade we all decided to bring a bottle home. At the moment I wasn't sure what dish I'd use it for, but when I got a sudden craving for shrimp tacos the next day, I thought of the anticucho and got cooking.

Since I used a bottled marinade, I don't really have a recipe for you, but if you don't use something pre-made you could always dust your shrimp with a mix of chili pepper, a touch of cayenne, cumin, ground coriander and garlic, then sear them off. I tossed my raw shrimp with the
anticucho, salt and pepper and let them sit for about 30 minutes before cooking them quickly in a hot pan.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Recipes: Meatballs Marinara + Garlicky Kale Bruschetta


Lately, I’ve become the kind of person who’d rather eat a little bit of many things, rather than a lot of one thing. At restaurants, I usually prefer to order two or three appetizers than feast over a big entrée, and I’ve never met a tapas bar I didn’t like. I also find that appetizers tend to be more interesting than main dishes, but that’s just my opinion. How else am I going to get my tuna tartare and caramelized onion pizza and asparagus with a poached egg in one sitting? Food rules be damned, I love to mix and match mini foods into the perfect meal.

At home, it’s a little harder to eat this way, since it requires preparing several different dishes. However, with a little extra thought and planning, it’s totally possible, and I made one such meal the other night.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Weekday Lunch: Tender Greens, Hollywood


I first tried Tender Greens a couple of years ago when it first opened in Culver City and fell in love with the concept of fresh salads and proteins prepared right in front of your eyes. I was happy when one opened up near my office, and yesterday my friend Dmitri and I decided to go for lunch.

The place was packed at 12:45pm, and it's easy to see why- Tender Greens is a mecca of healthy, delicious options that are all reasonably priced. I opted for something I get often- The Happy Vegan- not because I'm vegan, but because it's damned good and I'm a whore for hummus...a Hummus Whore, if you will. For around $10 you get a gigantic green salad dressed with a sherry vinagrette, a scoop of edamame hummus, another of tabbouleh, yet another of red quinoa and yet another (I know, wow right?) of a particularly delcious farro salad with toasted hazelnuts and dried cranberries. It's always way too much for me to finish but I love the different flavors and textures this dish offers. Too bad I didn't lift up the green salad veil to reveal all of the elements on my plate...but you get the idea. Actually, here is a better photo from another blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Recipes: Butternut Squash Soup and Turkey Stuffed Mushrooms

After over a month of letting this here blog lie dormant, I’m back (again!) and hoping to update more frequently. The redesign isn’t really much to write home about, but I wanted a brighter, lighter look for Tuna Toast and this is what I came up with! So I hope you’ll come back around and check it out from time to time.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Spinach Gnudi


It was J’s birthday this past weekend, and although he was on tour in Japan on the actual day, I wanted to make something special for dinner the day he came home so we could celebrate. I went out and bought two beautiful filet mignon and decided to make some gnocchi as a side dish instead of serving plain ol’ potatoes. When I spied a recipe for spinach gundi (pronounced nu-dee) in a new cookbook I'd just purchased, I decided to ditch the potato version altogether and make these ricotta-based dumplings instead.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sticky Toffee Pudding (and some other stuff)

Sticky. Toffee. Pudding. Each word is so appetizing, don’t you think? When you put them together, “sticky toffee pudding” is, in my opinion, quite possibly the most mouth-watering phrase on any dessert menu…and I’m not really a dessert girl. “Sticky toffee pudding” always conjures up sweet, caramelized, ooey-gooey, warm, luscious, moist, decadent, buttery rich goodness and it’s a wonder I’d never had it before I made it the other night for some friends. Strange, isn’t it? Especially since I’d consider myself to be a “brown” dessert type- anything with brown sugar, caramel, toffee, whiskey sauces or maple syrup always grabs me before anything of a chocolate variety. I guess I just don’t see it on menus often and usually find myself staring at some divine version on TV shows like The Best Thing I Ever Ate or Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Go figure.

Well, I’ve popped my sticky toffee pudding cherry, folks- for both eating and making it! A friend of J’s brought over a bag of honey dates, and although that friend meant to take them home to New Jersey, he left them in our fridge, unfortunately for him, but lucky for ME! You see, dates are the key ingredient in sticky toffee pudding, and eyeing the bag of big, fat, plump dates and having a dinner party scheduled were all the reasons I needed to get baking.

After searching under “sticky toffee” on Tastespotting (thereby getting sucked into all the photos of deliciousness for way longer than I had planned!) and promptly settled on this recipe since it was easy and didn’t include “extras” like crystallized ginger or chocolate. I wanted my first sticky toffee pudding experience to be a pure one- no bells and whistles, please! I baked the puddings in individual ramekins and drizzled the sauce (to which I did add a splash of cognac….hey, booze makes everything better, ok?) onto the still warm cakes and tucked them away until dessert time.

Before we could dig into the sweets, we had to have dinner first. I think it came out well, but there were a couple of things I was unhappy about….

Seared scallops with fava beans, fresh corn, brown butter and white wine sauce:

Once again I found myself shucking a bunch of fava beans and asking the veggie gods WHY it’s such a process to get these tiny little green gems onto a plate. I almost always get enticed by fava beans if I see them at the farmer’s market and this time was no different, but after shucking, blanching, cooling and unpeeling them I made a mental note to not do this again for awhile, and since they are no longer in season, I won't be! The corn was sweet and crisp, and the scallops were HUGE and incredibly sweet, but I was bummed that I just didn’t give them enough time and heat to get a really nice crust going. However, they tasted good and were tender so I guess that’s what matters.

Pasta with shrimp, zucchini and seafood marinara:

I was super pleased with this sauce- I basically took the gorgeous shrimp out of their shells, then fried the shells in a bit of olive oil slow and low, then added a ton of sweet garlic before straining the oil and adding it to crushed San Marzano tomatoes. It needed only a touch of salt and pepper to round it out. After caramelizing some chopped zucchini and searing the shrimp in more olive oil I just added the sauce to the shrimp, then the cooked pasta to the sauce. Unfortunately I overcooked the pasta a few seconds too long, and although it did retain a bit of a bite, I prefer my pasta super AL DENTE. Again, not a “fail” by any means, but in the future I’ll make sure to time my scallop searing/deglazing/plating and pasta cooking/dressing/plating better.

As always, a salad completed our meal (oh, and a baguette, of course!). I don't know about you, but no supper is complete for us without a salad. We eat one every single night, whether we eat in or out. I guess it's for health, but it's mainly because I feel a deep, black hole on my menu if a salad isn't included.

But back to our sticky toffee pudding, which basically erased any memories of overcooked pasta or under-seared scallops (and any health benefits of a green salad)! It was as rich, moist and sweet as I’d imagined and the hint of cognac in the warm sauce combined magically with the melting vanilla bean ice cream to create one, amazing party for our taste buds. You really live up to your name, Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Where have you had the best sticky toffee pudding?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lazy Friday Night Supper

Who says you have to cook to have a great meal at home? Sometimes you just need some really fresh produce, cheese, crackers and wine to create the perfect supper for a hot summer night...and let me tell you, last week in Los Angeles was HOT. I didn't even want to boil a pot of water, much less turn on a single appliance.

Here's what we had:

Smoked trout with dill which we purchased, plus a horseradish dressing whipped up using nonfat Greek yogurt, horseradish, a bit of light mayo, lemon zest and cracked black pepper.

Sliced baby roma tomatoes and Greek cucumbers, both from the Eagle Rock farmer's market, plus a nub of Saint-André triple cream brie, one Laughing Cow Babybel and one Laughing Cow wedge- all of which I dug out of our cheese drawer.

A basket of various crackers and bread we had left in the pantry- some La Brea Bakery multigrain, seasoned Ry-krisp and some random olive oil flatbread crackers plus a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette:

Put together, it all looked something like this on my plate:

Not bad for a dinner on the fly, and it definitely beat sweating it out in the kitchen. I guess it's one of those situation where each individual element might not look like much on its own, but together, makes a pretty great meal.

What's your favorite lazy supper?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Broiled Branzino, Steamed Artichokes and Panzanella Salad

Oh boy. Again with a post revolving around something beautiful purchased at McCall’s Meat & Fish Company. You must think I’m getting bribed with free slabs of Argentinean beef or some jumbo lump crab in exchange for multiple posts about this artisan butcher/seafood shop in Los Feliz, but I promise you, my love for their stuff is the only reason why I can’t seem to stop talking about them. Besides, if you met owners/butchers/fish mongers Karen Yoo and Nathan McCall, you’d know they’re honest, hardworking people whose main desire is to have their customers experience truly fresh and delicious food. Not only do they have the best stuff, but they’re always available for cooking advice or menu ideas, and best of all, they are two of the friendliest people around…which is saying a lot for a couple who work about 280 hours a week. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration but the truth is pretty close.

J and I decided that we’re going to try and buy our weekly supply of protein from local shops instead of the grocery store; ditto with our produce from farmer’s markets instead of a neon-lit supermarket. Food just tastes better when it hasn’t been forced to grow quickly or plumped up with chemicals, and we want everything we put into our mouths to taste great! Plus supporting local businesses and farmers is putting our money where it really counts.

Since we were buying for the entire week, I came home from McCall’s with a whole chicken, a tub of fresh non-GMO all natural handmade tofu (which I can’t WAIT to spoon into!), a pack of herbed smoked trout and two whole branzino. I felt like I hit the lottery as I carried my goodies home.

Initially, I was going to save the branzino for tonight (Monday) but they looked so damned pretty that I couldn’t resist cooking them up for Sunday dinner. Inspiration hit and before long, I had an exact menu in my head and it came together very quickly. Here’s what we had:

Steamed artichokes- I bought these gorgeous specimens at the Eagle Rock farmer’s market but then J pointed out that I’d probably end up heating up our already warm house (our poor, vintage floor-unit A/C can’t really compete with 95 degree heat) and since artichokes take awhile to steam, I almost decided to scrap the idea. Then I remembered my handy dandy Japanese rice cooker which also steams! Woot! I trimmed the tops, cut out the chokes, cut them in half (in order to make them fit into the rice cooker) and let them steam, insulated, for an hour. Easy!

The branzino was pretty much perfect as is, so I seasoned the outside and inside with salt and pepper, stuffed the cavity with lemon slices and flat-leaf parsley and drizzled a bit of olive oil on top before broiling for five minutes on each side (thanks Karen, for the perfect cooking time!). The skin got nice and crisp, and the flesh was flaky, tender, moist and utterly delicious. I made some salsa verde out of lemon juice, parsley, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper to drizzle on top but the fish didn’t really need it. I think J and I ate every available piece of flesh from each fish.

J and I’d eaten at Barbrix in Silverlake last week, and my favorite thing was a panzanella salad made with beautiful heirloom tomatoes. I did my best to recreate it with the heirlooms, cucumbers and arugula I’d bought (again, farmer’s market) and toasted up cubes of La Brea Bakery multigrain bread, then tossed it all with a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The soft, juicy tomatoes combined with cool, crunchy cucumbers and slightly chewy, crisp bread soaked in the dressing is a lethal texture/flavor combo.

Every time we eat like this, I just remember that quality ingredients require little or no manipulation and shine on their own, which is the perfect way to cook (or not cook!) during these hot summer months. Food just tastes better when it's fresh!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Meat 'n Potatoes!

This dinner is from a couple of months ago, and I’ve been eager to share it with you, so here it is!

Our friends Henry and Jenn came over for dinner, and I know Henry loves his meat and potatoes and Jenn loves pretty much all food (like me!) so I decided to pick up some beef from McCall’s (yes, I realize I’m beginning to sound like their spokesperson but their meat/seafood is THE BEST!). I saw some Flintsones-sized bone-in rib eyes so I snatched those up, then went to the Farmer’s Market for some Yukon Gold potatoes and other veggies.

First of all, check out these babies. I mean, c'mon:

Here’s what we had:

The Girl + The Fig dried fig compote, goat cheese from the Cheese Store of Silverlake and some pepper water table crackers. The cheese was pretty dry and chalky, which was a tad disappointing.

Mixed green salad with heirloom tomatoes and fresh corn:

White on Rice Couple's Todd's amazing, incredible, life-altering Potatoes Au Gratin. I'm not overexaggreating. He and Diane were nice enough to invite my sister and me over for dinner a few months ago and they served this to us and let me tell you- it's CRACK! It only has six ingredients, but Todd's signature "break the crust" method keeps the potatoes tender and creamy while the top gets golden brown. We ate a pretty nice chunk out of it but still had some leftover; I'd take a spoon and eat it cold right out of the tupperware every day for the next four days. Not even kidding. It's THAT good. Who needs chocolate or other such silliness if you have this?! Check out his step-by-step instructions on the method here so you can make it this weekend. Heck, make it today. NOW.

Here are those two, fat rib eye steaks, seared to get a nice brown crust and cooked to medium rare. They were delicious and the four of us polished it all off, easily. I think personally, I prefer a cut where there aren't as many ribbons of fat- I know I know- it's the best part but I guess I'm more of a filet mignon, skirt or flank steak girl myself. It was indulgent and delicious regardless. I only wish I would have plated the dramatic steaks in a more, er, dramatic fashion. Should've used my giant cutting board, but we were all so hungry I think we just wanted to eat!

Plum and almond tart. My plum tree literally exploded with plums this summer so I had plums coming out of, front yard. This was one of the last things I made; I think I'm good on plums for awhile now! We served it with caramel gelato.

A wonderful time was had by all and once again, McCall's didn't let me down with the high quality meat they sold me for this dinner. Another thing that's great about McCall's is the husband-wife team of Nathan McCall and Karen Yoo are happy to answer any questions you have about their product, recommend ways to cook or order something in advance if you have a special request. "Enthusiastic" wouldn't begin to describe how both come across about their business- you can see the commitment to quality, customer service and a joy and love for food/cooking in their faces. They rock!

Here's what our dinner table looked like just before we sat down to eat. I'll spare you the "after" photo!

More to come.....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Still eating.....

...but obviously not blogging as much. A good friend reminded me today of why I love to blog so I'll get back on it- I have some things saved up that I've wanted to share with you (hint: Flinstones-sized rib eyes!) and I will do my best to keep on blogging about one of my greatest passions- FOOD!

The photo above is one I took quickly after throwing together a plate of "healthier" homemade nachos. Nachos is something I rarely eat but crave often. I'm not a fan of fast food nachos, but good, bar-food or fine dining nachos are awesome. I had some chips, so I topped them with shredded chicken, black beans, diced avocado, red onion, tomatoes, salsa & non-fat Greek yogurt (the best substitution for sour cream in ANY recipe, seriously!) and warmed it all up for just a minute before finishing it off with some fresh cilantro and green onions. It definitely hit the spot.

This photo of some dumplings I ate for lunch today at Susan Feniger's STREET came out oddly pink, but I think it was the tint of the reddish umbrella that shaded our table from the sun. This "Dumpling Sampler" consisted of Verenyk (Ukrainian dumplings filled with spinach and salty cheese served with sour cream and lemon marmalade), shrimp stuffed shiitake mushrooms and Mandoo vegetable dumplings which were my favorite, filled with Asian vegetables, sweet potato noodles and roasted honey yam and served with sesame dipping sauce. YUM!

More to come....