"Because life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks"
~ Marilyn Wann

When I was a little kid, I was a bit gullible (ok, maybe A LOT gullible) and my dad liked to mess with me. One of his all time favorite stories to tell is about how I used to love SPAM until he told me SPAM was made from little creatures that looked like tiny prairie dogs. He told me this whole tale about how I was eating these helpless little creatures (which in my head I pictured to look like a cross between a cute helpless baby seal and a teeny bunny). After which I cried and cried and wouldn't touch the stuff for a good long while...that is until my mom found out and set the record straight. Then I went back to eating the delicious fried pressed "meat," but things were never quite the same.

Anyhow, there was a period in my twenties where I was vacationing in Hawaii pretty regularly and I found the perfect hangover dish - slices of SPAM and a fried egg over a mound of steamed rice with a hefty douse of soy sauce. (FYI- this salty concoction also hits the spot during PMS week.) This dish is horrendous for your health (it's high in protein, but also high in sodium and saturated fat) but so dang delicious. It's super popular in Hawaii, you can find it pretty much anywhere. Mr. S. had never had this dish before so during a recent movie night when neither of us felt like cooking, I suggested to Mr.S. that we pick up some SPAM at Raley's. Curiosity got the better of him and he agreed. As I was throwing together the ingredients, I could see his brow furrowing and a look of uncertainty wash over his face. Somehow I convinced him to take that first salty bite and after that it was an ear to ear smile. Now he can't wait to make it again.

Hangover Bowl


2 slices SPAM

1 egg

1 cup steamed rice

soy sauce


- Fry 2 slices of SPAM.

- Fry egg.

- Place steamed rice in bowl, place fried SPAM slices on top, then add fried egg. Top with soy sauce, to taste.

The fall TV season maybe starting but it seems like most Sundays afternoons and Monday nights around here have been taken over by kickoffs, the sounds of helmets crashing and player stats. Mr.S. and the kidlets are in sports heaven. But even rabid fans need to eat and if you're looking for something easy to fix up try these classic sweet and sour meatballs. All you need are 3 ingredients and a crockpot. The combo sounds odd (and maybe even a bit gross), I know...but it's delicious when it all melds together--really.

Sweet 'n Sour Meatballs


2 lb. bag frozen meatballs (plain), I like to let mine thaw in the fridge overnight

1 12oz. jar Heinz chili sauce (usually found in the ketchup aisle)

1 18oz. jar grape jelly


- Combine chili sauce & grape jelly in crock pot and mix until blended well.

- Add in meatballs. Stir so all meatballs are coated well.

- Cover and set crockpot to low. Cook for 2 to 4 hours. Stir occasionally.

- Place crockpot on dining room table and go watch DVR'd new episodes of the "Modern Family" and "The Good Wife" in the other room and hope that the football game doesn't go into OT. ;)

You know you've done well when your dinner guest is so enthusiastic about your side dish that he has gone back for seconds and thirds and it looks like he might go as far as to bathe in the sauce.

Rémoulade (adapted from Drick's Rambling Cafe's White Rémoulade Dressing)


1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons dry white wine

2 tablespoons capers, chopped

1 garlic clove, finely minced

2 teaspoon green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

- Mix ingredients in a bowl throughly.

- Cover and refrigerate for several hours to meld the flavors together.

- Serve with grilled asparagus.

This Saturday, Mr.S. and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary. Since the kidlets were spending the day playing with their cousins, we thought it would be fun to go on a guided tour of the historical Preston School of Industry (locally known as Preston Castle) in Ione. Lloyd, our tour guide, was very informative and explained how the land where the Preston Castle stands was purchased from the Ione Coal & Iron Company and how the building of the Preston School of Industry began.  The facility focused on rehabilitating, rather than simply imprisoning, juvenile offenders and only closed when the new facility was constructed next door. During our visit we were able to tour the first two floors and the basement of the old facility, which included the kitchen where the housekeeper, Anna Corbin, was supposedly bludgeoned to death there in the 1950's. The building, especially the interior is in extreme disrepair and decay, but the Romanesque Revival architecture is fascinating. Hopefully the Preston Castle Foundation will be able to preserve the historic site.

Afterwards, we had a quiet lunch in the town of Ione and chatted about the tour we went on. Then Mr S. had some beautiful flowers delivered to me for our anniversary and we closed out our evening with a romantic dinner at Ambience. It was probably one of the most fun anniversary dates I've gone on.  A little bit of history, suspense and romance...a perfect mix.


I spent Friday cooking like a madwoman; after all, we were having the Pope over for dinner...okay, not THE Pope. But rather, Mr. S.'s buddy who's surname is Pope, but it does sound pretty neat to say that we're dining with the Pope, doesn't it? His holiness or not, I wanted to cook up something special for Mr. Pope, the Mrs. and their three kidlets. The menu I decided to go with was :

  • Bourbon Bacon Jam & Fried Quail Eggs on Crostini
  • Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Tartlets
  • Sweet & Sour Meatballs 
Main Course
  • Ribeyes & Filet Mignon from Taylor's Market (for the adults)
  • Grilled Cheeseburgers (for the kidlets)
  • Roasted New Red Potatoes w/ Herbes de Provence
  • Asparagus w/ Remoulade
  • Cherry Pie Filling Chocolate Cake

The big hit with the guests turned out to be the bourbon bacon jam and fried quail eggs on crostini (although the meatballs were a close second).  The bacon jam is pretty easy to make and if you store it in an air tight container in the fridge it can keep for up to a week. I chose to use Buffalo Trace's delicious! I was first introduced to it by a bartender in Portland while on a roadtrip with a friend. I thought the oaky undertones and trace notes of vanilla would complement the rest of the spices in the bacon jam well. You only use a little bit in the recipe so you'll have plenty left over to serve your guests with the dessert should you choose to do so. ;)

Bourbon Bacon Jam (recipe by Evil Shenanigans)


1 pound thick-cup applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1″ pieces (use the best quality bacon you can get)

1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4″ thick slices

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch fresh grated nutmeg

Pinch ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon dry chipotle powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup good quality bourbon

1/4 cup maple syrup (does not have to be the best quality, any grade B maple syrup will be fine)

1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used sriracha)


- In a large skillet over medium high heat cook the bacon pieces until the begin to crisp at the edges but are still soft in the center, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. Set aside to drain. Pour all but one tablespoon of the bacon drippings from the pan.

- Lower the heat to medium-low and add the onion and brown sugar. Cook until the onions are well caramelized, about twenty minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook an additional five minutes.

- Add the liquid ingredients and the bacon to the pan. Increase the heat to medium heat bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about two hours. Check the mixture every 30 minutes. If the mixture becomes too dry add a few tablespoons of water. You want the final mixture to be moist and very sticky.

- Let the mixture cool slightly them put it into the bowl of a food processor, or blender, and pulse about 20 times, or until it reaches your preferred consistency.
I was roaming through the back of Otos' on Thursday afternoon and came across these rice bowls adorned with a cute piggy matter-of-factly saying, "I am hungry." Smart piggy. Who hasn't been there before?

These bowls are seriously adorbs and super light on the wallet.


If you're ever having a get together and want to serve a cocktail that's 1) easy to put together 2) looks sophisticated 3) tastes delicious --- then go with the hibiscus margarita. I made up a batch to take with me to a friend's last night and the jewel-tones of the hibiscus syrup were absolutely gorgeous! Had I more time I think I would have picked up some cute flowers to garnish the drinks.

Hibiscus Margaritas

1 cup dried hibiscus flowers (you can buy these at the Sac Co-op)

4 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 cup tequila (I used Jose Cuervo Silver)


- Place blossoms, sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a strong boil. Reduce heat and simmer, 10-15 minutes.

- Strain well and discard blossoms. Take hibiscus syrup, place in fridge and chill. Once chilled then add 1 cup of tequila.

- When ready to serve, pour drink over ice.

I wish I had more to write about but to be honest, I haven't been doing much cooking lately. Mr. S. and I ate out last week at Formoli's (the new location is fab and you must try their grilled sweetbreads---I think their sweetbreads are now my fav in town), we went to a super fun bacon and beer class put on by Community Tap and Table and attended a baptism (no, they didn't let me dunk the baby...) which was followed by a luncheon with all kinds of tasty dishes including some delicious homemade carnitas and a huge dessert table. It wasn't even until Monday that I peeked into my own fridge and that was only because Kidlet #1 had a really rough weekend and I wanted to do something nice for him so I thought I'd bake him some sort of treat. Usually I'm harping at the kidlets to eat healthy but I thought I'd cut the little guy a break this go round. I had picked up some beautiful fresh peaches at the farmers' market during my last visit so I decided to go with a crisp or a crumble. At first I thought I'd go with making a crisp but after I took quick assessment of my cupboard goods, I decided to go with a crumble. I'm glad I made something, the dessert seemed to cheer him up. That--and the fact that I agreed to participate in his fantasy football league. Goodness...not sure what I got myself into but I sure hope he realizes that I know diddly about football. Dan Marino still quarterbacks for the Dolphins, right? ;)

Peach Crumble (adapted from Orangette's Plum Crumble & The Kitchn's Peach Crumble)



5-6 medium sized yellow peaches, peeled and cut into slices

1.5 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

dash of freshly-ground nutmeg


Scant ¾ cup granulated sugar (about 4 to 4 ½ ounces)

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. kosher salt

1 egg, beaten well

7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted


- Position a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F.

- In a medium bowl, whisk together the seasoning for the peaches: the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the peaches, and gently stir to coat. Arrange the peaches in an ungreased 9”-by-13” dish.

- In another medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the topping: the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend well. Add the egg. Using your hands, mix thoroughly, squeezing and tossing and pinching handfuls of the mixture, to produce moist little particles. Sprinkle evenly over the peaches.

- Spoon the butter evenly over the topping, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the peaches yield easily when pricked with toothpick. Cool.

- Serve crumble warm or at room temperature, with crème fraîche, thick yogurt, or unsweetened whipped cream.

- Yield: about 6 servings
Thursday night was all about the "Big O" for me...yep, olive oil (um...hello...this is a food blog, people!). The nice folks at Star Fine Foods graciously invited several of Sacramento's top food bloggers to partake in a delicious six-course Greek meal featuring their new Star California Extra Virgin Olive Oil at the Greek Village Inn. The new Star olive oil is a blend of first cold-pressed Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki olives grown in the Central Valley. The first five courses of the evening were also paired with delicious wines from Sean Minor Wines and the last course with a serving of yummy ouzo. Somehow I made it through all six courses and was still able to waddle out of there. The food was great, the olive oil (or as the Greek poet, Homer, called it "liquid gold") was tasty, the dinner guests engaging and the service super friendly. In fact, the Greek Village Inn made such a positive impression on me that when I got home I mentioned to Mr. S. that I would love to take him there on a non-event night, I think he would love it (the guy totally digs Greek food). I myself would really like to check out what kind of magic, chef Matthew Martinez cooks up on a regular night. In the meantime here's the rundown on tonight's special Star-centric menu:

- Grilled Artichoke, rubbed with Star Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, served with Star Capers and Lemon Thyme Remoulade

The remoulade (similar to a thick aioli) was absolutely delicious. While I was eating it I was trying to figure out how I could replicate it at home so I could whip up a batch to eat with some grilled asparagus.

The 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that was served with the dish, was full-bodied and had a nice fruity taste that paired well with it.

- Spicy Imported Dodonis Greek Feta dip with Star Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil served with grilled Pita Bread

Mr. S. would have gone bananas over this dish! The feta dip had a spicy kick that just jumped your tongue right off the bat but then settled down into a nice simmer within seconds. It exuded some heat but nothing crazy. Coupled with the warm, doughy pita was one of my favorite dishes.

Phtinithe  Nobilis, Restina was being described I was intrigued but I think ended up being my least favorite of the wines served during the course of the evening. It had a sharp, acidic taste and in a way reminded me of what I imagine diluted Pine Sol would taste like. One sip was enough for me.

- Imported Kefalograviera Cheese Saganaki sauteed in Star California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, flambeed table side

This dish made me wish I had remembered to pack my camera (rather than just my cellphone). Our lovely servers flambeed the cheese in a flash, Vegas-style, taking care not to singe anyone's eyebrows. The aroma was heavenly! Luckily I had packed several Lactaid pills so I got to try a piece. I liked the chewy texture and the saltiness of the cheese but most of all I think I really liked saying, "Saganaki!!" (Try it, it's fun!) If I could have followed it with a fist pump it would have been even better, but I just met these nice people and was trying to make a sane impression...maybe next time....

I skipped the wine pairing on this course.

- Traditional Horiatiki Salata with Heirloom Tomatoes and Imported Dodonis Feta Cheese, Kalamata Olives tossed with Star California Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Aesthetically this dish was gorgeous, lots of color and it was the perfect palate cleanser. Most of the guests were pretty jazzed about the fresh heirloom tomatoes drizzled in olive oil; unfortunately, I'm not much of a tomato girl so I only took a bite or two of kalamata olive, cucumber and feta. What I did taste, tasted great. I'm sure if I loved tomatoes, I would have been all over this.

The Central Coast Chardonnay that was paired with this course was was soft and slightly oaky, a good choice to couple with a palate cleanser course.

- New Zealand Roasted Lamb Shank basted with Star California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Roasted Lemon Potatoes

Wow! When the server set my plate in front in front of me I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped a bit, the lamb shank was quite a daunting sight...especially since I had just eaten four other courses! I kept looking for Fred Flinstone to pop out and yell, "Yabba-Dabba-Doo!" In all honesty, I thought both the lamb and potatoes were good but a little on the dry side. Being that it was an event showcasing olive oil, I would have liked to have seen both roasted items be a bit more moist.

The last wine, Sean Minor's 2008 Napa Valley Merlot, was hands down my favorite. It paired well with the lamb and had the best flavor of the evening's wines. The merlot was smooth, had nice berry undertones and was a bit jammy (which I love) without being overly heavy.

- Grilled Fresh Fruit, marinated in Star California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Brandy, served in a Meringue Cup

A nice, light dessert to round out the meal....and about all I could fit in my waistband at this point.

Oh, and that ouzo sure packed a wallop! Thank goodness we were all hanging out for awhile, socializing and sobering up...between the wine and ouzo I had a slight buzz (I'm sure I was quite the chatterbox to my poor seatmates).


On one of our recent date nights, Mr. S. and I attended the California Musical Theatre's production of Miss Saigon. One of my all time favorite musicals, Schönberg and Boublil's Miss Saigon does a phenomenal job of intertwining the threads of romance, heartbreak and the ravages of war to bring about a piece that would make even the most iron-hearted come to tears at the end. Mr. S. had never seen the musical before and ended up enjoying it a lot; however, I was the one who ended up sniffling at the end (despite having seen it before and knowing how it concludes). Anyhow, this Sunday I was at the farmers' market and saw that the strawberry season was coming to a close, I decided to hustle up and buy some to make one last hurrah of jam. When I got home I was listening to my iPod and as I hulled the berries, one of the lilting tunes from Miss Saigon came on and I was inspired to do an Asian flavored jam. I looked and looked but I couldn't find a Vietnamese Strawberry Jam recipe; however, I did remember a Strawberry Jam with Thai Herbs recipe that my friend Katy and I had discussed awhile back from a book called Canning For a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. A quick look turned up the recipe but I noticed that Krissoff's recipe didn't include pectin so I called my local jam-go-to-girl, Jenn, with a few questions...her answer was to combine the original recipe's ingredients with my favorite standard strawberry jam recipe and I'd be all set.

The jam that was yielded turned out absolutely delish and I've dubbed it the-"Miss Saigon Jam." ;) It's currently Mr. S's favorite flavor out of all the jam flavors I've made this season. It definitely has that strawberry sweetness but combined with a refreshing, light undertone that you don't find in a lot of berry jams. It's a keeper!

Miss Saigon Jam  (recipes adapted from Strawberry Jam with Thai Herbs from Canning For a New Generation by Liana Krissoff  & Strawberry Quick Jam from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)


3 3/4 cups crushed hulled strawberries

4 tbsp lemon juice

7 cups granulated sugar

1 pouch (3ox/85 mL) liquid pectin

2 tbsp minced cilantro

1 tbsp minced mint

1 tbsp minced Thai basil


- Prepare canner, jars & lids.

- In a large, deep, stainless steel pan, combine the berries, herbs, sugar and lemon and bring to a rolling boil, while stirring constantly so that it doesn’t burn. When the boil cannot be stirred down, add the pectin and boil hard, stirring constantly for one minute. (Check jam consistency at this point. Add more pectin/ cook more if needed.) Remove from the heat and skim off the foam.

- Ladle the hot jam into the hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars and place the hot seals on top. Screw the band on fingertip-tight.

- Place jars in canner, ensuring that they are covered with water. Bring to a boil and process 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. After 5 minutes remove jars and let cool.