When “C” does not stand for what to “Cook”?

So I haven’t updated this blog in a long time. I love the idea of keeping in touch with anyone in the entire world and building a great place to go for easy recipes, but my life is very different from the average bloggers. I’m up a little after 5 AM, I have a 3 hour commute each weekday to Beverly Hills and I’m trying and often failing to fit time in to exercise, play music, write and also just plain have fun with my family and friends. And as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have the time to set-up, take and post the amazing photos that so many other food bloggers do although I certainly envy their talents and the time they must have available. I sound like I’m complaining , but far from it. You see, time matters to me. Now, more than ever.
Because, another reason I haven’t posted here lately, is that my husband went in for a regular eye exam, only to be told that he had eye cancer. Yes, the man who painted my toenails by candlelight, who has a large albeit sometimes hidden heart of gold and is the reason my boys open even car doors for women has something that has never affected anyone in his family. The fear was paralyzing at first – but then, we marched through it like soldiers probably have to do when they go to war  – suddenly seeing the cracks in our fragile lives – staying as strong and as hopeful as humanly possible because after all, we are just that – only human. 
Long story short, like an unwilling yet lucky Russian Roulette player, we may have dodged the bullet because after months of treatment and tests including a genetic test, the type of cancer he has in his eye has less than a 5% chance of spreading. If the genetic test had came back otherwise, that 95% chance would have meant not if, but when the cancer would have spread to his liver, brain or other organs and if that occurred, per the medical websites (that turn all of us into medical researchers who think we can self-diagnose), there (would have been) “no known treatment”. Three words I’m so relieved we most likely will never need to deal with.  
So, now, how do we feel? Picture the Russian Roulette scene in Deer Hunter – only this time Christopher Walken doesn’t take the gun up to his head one last time towards a tragic end  – but instead, he smiles, suddenly remembers how lucky he is to have Robert DeNiro’s character as a close, lifelong friend, and they both walk out from the dark dungeon into the bright, bustling streets to live life as they had planned all along – playfully, gratefully and joyfully to feel the sun’s rays on their faces, the damp cool sand between their toes, embracing the smell of cheap perfume and pine trees and the sound of their children’s laughter when they tease and joke and the funny whimpers of their furry little dog when it’s time to go for a walk, etc….etc….etc….Then, decades later, they both die a natural death together in their sleep. Yes, that is how we feel! That, and hungry at least three times a day. So, what’s for dinner? Other than the Cheese Platter Mammoth Mountainamazing array of dishes delivered from friends during the ordeal? Maybe just some good wine, cheese, God’s unprocessed fruits, olives and nuts – with good friends and family. Because right now, at least today, I am so happy we are all simply alive and don’t feel like cooking.    

Pralines Recipe : Authentic and Easy

Pralines - can you eat just one?

Pralines – can you eat just one?

There is a restaurant in Santa Monica that we like to eat at called El Cholo. They offer Pralines at the end of the meal. Then, I found this delicious, easy Southern Praline’s recipe in an old cookbook that my husband’s parents purchased in the 1950’s while on a trip of the Southwest here in the good old USA. I made them to bring as a dessert to a dinner party recently and while I knew they were good, everyone flipped out. Good thing this recipe is so easy.



Pralines - 4 Ingredients.

Pralines – 4 Ingredients.

  • 1 1/2 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup milk or cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Cup Pecans


Pralines Recipe - YumHeat the sugar and milk in a saucepan. Stir it often until it starts to thicken.


Add pecans and butter. Then, drop onto wax paper. Done!

Add pecans and butter. Then, drop onto wax paper. Done!

Add the pecans and the butter. Cool off the flame and drop by spoonfuls on a buttered surface or wax paper. Done! Salty, sweet, nutty crunch – just yum.


I think I may make these in batches to give out this holiday. 

Homemade Limoncello

I love making gifts for people. And, food gifts are especially nice because they think of you and how much time and love you put into their gift while enjoying it. One of the items I love to make is homemade Limoncello. Living in California, it’s easy to grow lemons. The tree I planted only a few years ago is now blessing me with lemons on a regular basis. While we’ve contemplated moving to other places, I’m not sure I could live anywhere that I couldn’t have a lemon tree. Luckily for everyone, lemons are always available in every market. Be sure to use only organic lemons since the skin is what is used for this recipe.


I tried making a batch with herbs and a batch with Vanilla bean and they were not as good as the original, simple Italian recipe. You can double this recipe easily if making several bottles. 


One of the benefits of living in California is being able to grow your own Lemons.

One of the benefits of living in California is being able to grow your own Lemons.

  • 12 Lemons (Organic) 
  • One 750 ml Bottle Vodka or Everclear*
  • 4 Cups Sugar (or less if you prefer)
  • 4 Cups Filtered Water


After rinsing and drying your organic lemons, use a potato peeler (my favorite is Cutco brand) to peel off all of the top yellow layer of the lemon skin (you do not want to get much of the white “pith” as it is a little bitter). 


Put the lemon peels into a sealable glass gallon container that has been sanitized in your dishwasher or if you don’t have a dishwasher, boil the container and it’s lid in pot full of water for at least 15 seconds. 


Add the alcohol. If you are using Everclear, *add an additional 2 to 3 cups of filtered water to dilute it a bit since Everclear is 190 proof. 


Let your lemon and alcohol sit for anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months before adding the simple syrup and bottling.

Let your lemon and alcohol sit for anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months before adding the sugared  syrup and bottling.

Put into a dark place and let sit for a couple of weeks to a couple of months. The longer you let it sit, the better it will taste.


When ready to bottle, make your simple syrup by heating filtered water in a pot on a medium flame, add your sugar and stir until it’s melted in and then immediately remove from the heat and let cool completely. 

Meme enjoyed the Limoncello I made for her recently. This makes me happy!

Meme enjoyed the Limoncello I made for her recently. Yay!

Add the cooled simple syrup to your lemon and alcohol mixture and stir. Strain into bottles and enjoy! Throughout the year, I like save my clear Tequila and Vodka bottles to reuse for Christmas gifting. 

 easy limoncello recipe great food gift 





Pork Chops with Cocoa Spice Rub

When I managed restaurants, most of the kitchen staff were from Oaxaca, a beautiful part of Mexico where indigenous colors and culture abound. Sometimes they would make their own (off menu) food on the line to eat and share. One of my favorites was a meat rub Chucho would mix from dried spices and ingredients and sprinkle over cut meat that he’d fry in a pan and serve with corn tortillas. While the Oaxacan mix is usually paprika,  cinnamon, (unsweetened) cocoa powder, cumin, salt, oregano, black pepper and cayenne, below is another variation. But you can have fun experimenting with any mix you like, and, it’s as easy as mixing the ingredients in a bowl and storing in your cupboard! This spice mix also makes a great gift bottled and tied with a simple ribbon. This rub also can be used on steak, fish or shrimp.

Spice Rubs make any dinner easy.

Spice Rubs make any dinner easy.

  • 2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1 Tablespoon Powdered Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon any Chili Powder (my favorite is Ancho Chili).
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar (this allows the meat to carmelize)
  • 1 teaspoon each Salt and Black Pepper


Rub on both side Pork Chops (or a Pork Tenderloin would also work).


Fry in Pan in oil or BBQ for 3-4 minutes per side (depending on thickness. 1 minute longer per side if really thick, 1 minute less if thin). I prefer to Pan Fry so the spices stay on the meat and do not fall through into the grill grates. 

Dinner Pork Easy Mexican Spice Rub Cumin Garlic Oaxacan Oaxaca Gluten Free