A Way of Life-Chaat

You guys, our libraries are OPEN. I must say the book pick-up process has been pretty user friendly for the past year but I was so excited when I pulled up and saw the “we are open!” sign.

There was quite the wait list for Maneet Chauhan’s lastest cookbook Chaat, so when I finally got it, I couldn’t wait to dig in. After choosing a few recipes to try, then came the hunt for the ingredients. Not wanting to go to all of the stores looking for a few key ingredients, I improvised.

But first. Gouda turned 3 years old on July 4th. Part sweetheart part asshole, she didn’t even say thank meow.

Back to Chaat. I didn’t even know what chaat was, I just knew that there were different varieties out there, such as Paneer chaat and Aloo chaat. I found that the word describes a way of Indian life, more than just street food snacks. After more reading I learned that there are many regional variations of chaat but all of them have one thing in common. Each recipe of chaat has a combo of five essential components; the base, the sauce, the crunch, the vegetables and the umami. After that, the creative mashup is up to you.

We chose to make the Tabakh Maaz (twice-cooked caramelized ribs) and the Gajar ka Halwa (carrot pudding with pistachios and saffron). And obviously I would also make the cilantro-mint chutney because that is always a must at every Indian meal.

Back to the ingredient hunting. You guys, we have international markets on every corner but I could not find Paneer and I could not find lamb ribs. Turns out that paneer is easy enough to make and pork ribs would be a quick pinch substitute that would end in an abundance of food moaning.

I took an entire afternoon to make this meal, dipping into the sun every so often.

First up, make the cheese. Paneer, a farmer’s cheese made with milk, lemon and salt. That’s it, that’s the recipe.

Next was the carrot pudding, although the final product tasted amazing, the end result did not turn out how the cookbook promised. And no, it was not user error. Somehow grated carrot boiled in saffron, cardamom and milk was supposed to turn into a velvety pudding consistency. This did not happen and I even let it simmer for a lot longer than suggested. This picture is what I had after the recommended 30 minutes.

Nothing like pudding. I even used the emersion blender at the end but still no avail. This recipe just didn’t work, although it sure did taste good.

The cilantro-mint chutney came together in under five minutes, however I didn’t seed all five of the serrano’s because I like to live on the edge of pain.

Then we have the ribs. You guys, these are ridiculous. Once I got over the fact that I wasn’t making lamb, sigh, I went in open minded. These ribs are simmered in water with the addition of milk with a handful of spices; cardamom’s, cinnamon, tumeric, fennel seeds and of course garlic. Once they were “fall off the bone” tender. I let them rest until I admitted to myself that the carrot pudding was not going to in fact be “pudding”.

I heated a cast iron pan, added some ghee, and lightly sprinkled some cane sugar over the ribs (not in the recipe) and fried them until perfectly caramelized.

And then……

So now I have a new way of cooking ribs. I can’t wait to make this for friends and family, it’s that good. Next time I would like to make pork and lamb side by side. And the chutney, just smother it on the ribs or eat it by the spoonful.

This is a cookbook that I could definitely cook my way through, so many good looking recipes, even if the carrot pudding recipe was a lie. Ha!

Pan Seared Halibut with a Yogurt, Blood Orange + Saffron Sauce

This recipe came together over a day.  I ended up having all the ingredients on hand, and it worked out very nicely.




1/2  cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper
Hefty pinch of Cayenne pepper
1/2 shallot, peeled and minced
1/2- 1 tsp. saffron threads
Juice of 1/2 blood orange, or to taste

2  halibut fillets
1 Tbs butter + 1 Tbs olive oil

In a small bowl,  with a fork whisk yogurt together with salt, Cayenne and shallot. Rub saffron between your fingers to crush it, then stir it into the yogurt mixture. Let sit for about 20 minutes . Before cooking the fish, add the blood orange juice, taste, and adjust seasoning.

Season halibut with salt and more Cayenne, (if you don’t like spicy, replace with white pepper or cracked ground pepper). Place butter and olive oil in large nonstick skillet and turn heat to medium high. When the butter melts, add fish, sear for about 4 minutes then turn. Continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes until done.

Serve fish warm or room temperature, with the yogurt sauce on top. Add extra Saffron or Cayenne , if you wish.

I served this over wild rice and riced cauliflower along some farm fresh roasted carrots.

Roasted Chicken with Herbed Goat Cheese

When I roast a chicken it tends to be in the oven anywhere from 75 minutes to 85 minutes, depending on size. Then factoring in rest time, it’s not the quickest meal…but it’s the best way to cook chicken.

When I came across this goat cheese roasted chicken recipe, at first I thought “how come I didn’t think of this?” and then quickly noted to make it this week.

Kaili gets out of school at 3:45 and once we walk home it’s after 4:00. Knowing I didn’t want to spend much time prepping the dish, I went ahead and bought herbed goat cheese. I put a head of garlic and some lemon in the cavity of the chicken and shoved as much goat cheese as I could under the skin. A drizzle of olive oil and a shower of salt, I had it in the oven before I left to pick her up. Normally this wouldn’t work if the husband wasn’t home, hello…not trying to burn the house down. But since he was, it worked out great.

Averi was eating it as I cut it up, I had to slap her little hands away. Kaili gobbled it up but demanded more salt and after dinner we didn’t have much left over.

Such an easy and delicious meal!


Recipe adapted from: How Sweet It Is

Chicken Pot Pie

I decided Easter was a perfect day for me to try my hand at making a pot pie. I told Shane that it will be our Easter tradition. Something the girls can complain about years down the road, having to eat moms chicken pot pie…again. I think that sounds like a great tradition.

I decided they would be indivual per Shane’s request and that I would not make the pie crust from scratch, at least this time because duh. I decided on this Ina Gartens recipe but I did a double crust. The filling was so good it could be eaten on its own so I knew adding pastry was going to make this dish extra ordinary…and it was. 

I only made a few pies so I had quite a bit of filling left and now it’s in the freezer for the next time I want to make one. The store bought pie crust was pretty good, it was no homemade but the easy factor was worth it!



Culinary Bucket List { Asparagus Risotto }

I almost fell off the culinary bucket list wagon. Luckily I got my shit together 3 days before June, phew.

I have not been in any mood or have had the energy or the desire for that matter to do any cooking. It’s been all Lean Cuisine and take out dreams baby.

After a sleepless night I got the hankering, scratch that, that is a horrible word. I got a craving yearning a want for a roast chicken, the roast chicken made me think of risotto and I have no idea why.  I have only made risotto a handful of times and it’s been the easy way, you know throw ingredients into a dutch oven, stir and slide it into the oven.

The classical way wants you to stir, stir and wait and stir like you are an executive chef in a fancy restaurant, risotto rubbing it’s fanciness all in your face. But since this is a bucket list I thought I would suck it up and try the fancy risotto.

I remembered a recipe my mom sent me years ago, it’s just been sitting on my computer waiting to be used. I followed it exactly plus 2 more cups of chicken broth, and it turned out goooood. Gordon Ramsey would SO not yell at me for this risotto. It kept me on my feet longer than I should have been, contraction, stir, contraction, sit down, stir. But it was well worth it!

So if you feel up to making risotto the fancy way give this recipe a try, if you don’t have the patience, try Ina’s.

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1 pound fresh asparagus
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons whipping cream
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnish: chopped tomato

1. Remove tough ends of asparagus. Reserve tips for later use in recipe. Finely chop the stalks and leave the tips in one inch pieces.

2. Bring broth to boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce to a simmer.

3. In a larger saucepan, melt butter; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is transparent. But not brown. Add rice and stir rapidly to coat with butter, Add asparagus stalks and wine, allow wine to evaporate.

4. Add ½ to 1 cup broth, so that the rice is barely covered with liquid. Stir frequently to allow broth to be absorbed. Don’t let rice go completely dry. Repeat, adding broth in ½ cup measurements, until 1 cup remains to be added.

5. Add asparagus tips and finish adding broth ½ cup at a time. When all is absorbed, remove pan form heat. Immediately stir in cream and Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired, garnish with chopped tomato.

Serves 4 to 5

Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp with Homemade Chili Sauce {CBL April}

When this recipe came across my Feedly the other week I sent the link to a few people and said “look at this bowl of heavenly goodness”. Then  I drooled on my keyboard as I bookmarked the recipe to make for my culinary bucket list this month.

I must admit this was almost too effortless for me to use as my recipe of the month…almost. Also it  was pretty  easy on the pocketbook as I already had every ingredient besides the shrimp.

Homemade sweet chili sauce is ridiculously good. I can’t believe I have been buying the stuff all these years. Sure a bottle in the pantry is good to have on hand. Perfect those nights when you just need a small amount for your Thai noodle dish or to dip an egg roll in but if you are really going use it, please make it. I made mine a tad spicier and added a touch more garlic. I was super impressed when it was done and I wished I had an egg roll to dunk in it but my fingers worked just fine.



This entire dish takes only minutes to prepare so in no time you get to sink your teeth in to these sweet, spicy and luscious shrimp.

It tasted just as I had imagined, amazing.

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Halibut with Caper Butter and Kale {Culinary Bucket List-March)

I don’t know when I decided that I liked capers but it must have happened somewhere in my 20s. Now, I like them in all the food. I had them for the first time in a chicken salad sandwich with grapes, brilliant idea.

I struggled with what to make this month. Not that I can’t come up with a delicious recipe I haven’t tried, that is not a problem. I wanted one  that wouldn’t have me  in the kitchen all day or packing on the LBs. I figured I should throw in some healthier recipes every few months as I’m not getting any skinnier here in the next 5 months…know what I’m saying?

Since it’s now summer in San Diego I decided on a fish dish, a sweet and salty fish dish. I came across this recipe when I googled “halibut recipes”, wow she is so clever. I followed the recipe more for the ingredients and used my own sense of time. I find that when cooking fish it’s best to trust your own knowledge rather than some stranger on the internet.

This dish was really good and it will now go on rotation.


Halibut with Caper Butter and Kale

2 Halibut steaks

Olive oil

1 Tbs. Butter

2 onions, sliced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 Tbs. sherry vinegar

1 head kale, chopped

2 Tbs. Capers

Season the halibut with a little salt and cook in a hot oiled pan. Cook quickly until golden brown on each side, but do not cook it all the way through. Add a little more oil if necessary.

Once the fish is cooked on each side, turn off the heat and add butter. While it finishes cooking in the residual heat of the pan, baste the fish every now and again with the melted butter.

Put the onions and garlic in an oiled pan over a medium heat. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until golden and caramelized. Pour in the sherry vinegar and cook for 30 seconds.

Stir the kale into the onions, add a splash of water to help it steam and cook until wilted, adding a little more water if necessary.

Add the capers to the buttery juices in the pan of fish.

To serve, plate the kale and onions and top with the halibut steak. Spoon over the caper and parsley butter sauce and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Good Food Channel

Molten Lava Cakes {Culinary Bucket List #2 February}

The infamous molten chocolate lava cake, foodie trend and a recipe that is now on every restaurants menu. Supposedly these miniature cakes were invented when Michelin star and James Beard award winner chef Jean Georges accidentally undercooked  a batch of mini  chocolate cakes back in the 80’s. We thank you chef Georges.

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Making these was a no brainer. Shane loves them + Valentine’s day = dessert. Although we stuffed ourselves with king crab legs, there is always room for chocolate right? Actually that is not true. As good as these were I couldn’t eat much of mine, between the baby and crustacean legs I didn’t have room left. Don’t worry, we got a gym sesh in that morning.

Luckily the recipe makes four of these babies. I kept the batter in the fridge for the next day. Winning!

I never realized how easy the recipe for these were and I had all the ingredients at home, you probably do too. The only mistake I made, was using flour to dust the ramekins with instead of cocoa powder. Sorry Martha Stewart.

I used this recipe from Food and Wine and didn’t change a thing.

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Grilled Fish Tacos {Culinary Bucket List February}

I know my way around a fish taco, chances are if they are on the menu I will order them. Unless it’s made with tuna, that is not the right fish for a taco people. So why haven’t I made them before? I don’t know, maybe because Shane isn’t a fan and it always seemed like a lot of work for myself. That was closed minded. These were easy and so good.

The other night we wanted to have fish for dinner. We all know we shouldn’t be eating farm raised fish, so finding a good fresh piece of wild caught fish for a price that doesn’t resemble a price tag at Tiffany’s isn’t the easiest, cha-ching. We came across some wild sole at Costco which worked out perfect. I could make sole piccata one night and have leftovers for the tacos. Damn I’m brilliant.

fish taco

I marinated the fish in a little of this and a little of that. Olive oil, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, diced jalapeño, salt and pepper. While that was hanging out I made the white sauce. This is where I took a small short cut. I had some some habanero salsa left over so I mixed that with sour cream, lime juice and salt to taste. That’s it.
I threw the fish on the grill and warmed the tortillas. Once the fish was done I smeared some white sauce on a tortilla, topped with fish, then with cabbage, drizzled with lime and Tapatio of course. Then I shoveled it in my face. Delicious.

*Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay Cooking Light.

A Week In Photos

Kaili had school pictures last week. She went representing the Super Bowl champs.


I made these honey bananas and they are ridiculous. I had to make them again the next day and the next.


Kaili spent some time working on Valentines day crafts.


I also got around to pulling out some heart color matching I had made years ago.


I took Kaili down to Mission Beach since it was supposed to be “beach” weather.


But in a matter of minutes the fog rolled in and it was freezing. Might has well have been in Sochi.


Kaili wanted to wear her cupcake dress to school. She was given this as a gift for her 1st birthday, fits her just fine….sigh.


I made fish tacos for the very first time. Hello culinary bucket list. They were delicious and I can’t believe I have waited so long. Recipe to come.


Good Morning.