Need a kidlet-friendly treat that you can throw together while your little ghouls and goblins are working on their jack-o'-lanterns? Here's one that you can't go wrong with- Peanut Butter Rice Krispie treats. It's easy to make and you can keep one eye on the kidlets and pumpkin guts while you stir the ingredients. No oven time required!

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Bars


3 T unsalted butter

4 cups mini-marshmallows

1/2 cup + 2 T smooth peanut butter

6 cups of Rice Krispies cereal


1. Take a 13x9x2 glass pan and lightly spray it with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a big pan, melt your butter. Do it on a low heat so that the butter doesn't brown or burn.

3. Once the butter's melted, add your marshmallows. Keep moving them around until they melt down into a nice marshmallow fluff.

4. Turn off your heat. Add in the peanut butter and combine well.

5. Add in your Rice Krispies a cup at a time, while stirring.

6. Once the cereal is coated, transfer it to the glass pan. Using your fingers or the back of a spatula, press it down so it's even.

7. Let it cool down. Then cut it into squares and serve.


2500 Watt Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95825. (916) 482-2175.
Since 1959.

"Drink for the Thirsty, Food For The Hungry," is what the colorful stained glass that hangs over the middle of Sam's dining room proclaims...and fill us up with food and drink it did. Last night Mr.S. and I decided to hit up a movie for date night. I'd been interested in seeing "Argo," for awhile, so we headed over to Century to check it out. I'm not sure if it was because it was mid-week or because a zombie apocalypse was impending but the movie theatre was practically deserted. Our movie theatre maybe had eight people in there tops. The film which dealt with the rescue of six US diplomats from Tehran, back in '79 during the Iran hostage crisis was quite intense and riveting. I would definitely recommend it. After our movie, we were starving so we tried to head over to a local eatery by Mr.S.'s home for a bite to eat and unfortunately, it was closed. It was only 9 o'clock! Ok, this is one of my major pet peeves with Sac. I love my city but why does every blasted place close early in this town? Gah! Anyhow, as Mr.S. and I were trying to decide on a Plan B, somehow we started talking about Sam's Hof Brau. Seriously, I have no idea how it came up. Eventually the conversation steered to, "Hey, let's see if it's still open!" I was curious, especially as I hadn't set foot in the place in 15+ years.

We walked in and a cloud of warmness enveloped us. There's a homey vibe imparted there with it's out-of-date chandeliers, dark crimson walls and old-timey red leather booths. The place feels comfortable from the get go. Mr.S. told me the place is usually packed to the gills when it's dinner time but it was relatively quiet when we got there. We got in line and I just had to stare for a second at the incredible array of meats being showcased at the carving station. Mr.S. ordered a pastrami Reuben and since I was a bit chilly, I opted for the French dip thinking the hot au jus might warm me up a bit. The gentleman behind the counter got to work immediately cutting us some thick slabs of juicy meat. (There was some finesse to his style and I was pretty impressed that he never once touched the meat with his fingers.) Moments later, I was presented with a nice fatly stacked French dip and I also opted for a side of German red cabbage. Mr. S. was served up a freshly toasted Reuben stuffed with sauerkraut and a side of Thousand Island. We dropped our weary butts in the closest booth and got to work eating. For the first few minutes, it was like a mini-food orgy...all you heard were a lot of, "Mmmm's" and other various happy eating noises. The roast beef on my sandwich was well cooked and paired perfectly with the au jus soaked sourdough bread. It was a mini moment of bliss. My side order of German red cabbage was also a winner, it had a nice balance of sweetness and tanginess and wasn't mushy in the least. The highlight though, was Mr.S.'s pastrami Reuben. Good god! He gave me a bite and I had a moment where I seriously contemplating just shoving it in my purse and running out the door. I didn't want to give it back! The meat was nice and salty, with the middle moist and the outside cooked just a tad more- just the way I like my pastrami. Slathered with the thick Thousand Island dressing, it made my tastebuds do a little carnivorous happy dance. Although I really liked my French dip, I definitely had sandwich envy.

By the time I finished my last bite of dinner, my jeans felt a tad tighter and my body felt a ton happier. Embarrassingly, I had to restrain myself from patting my belly in satisfaction. It was a fun date night...a bit unconventional in our movie and restaurant choices but definitely fun. Now with the colder weather here to stay awhile, I definitely foresee myself going back to Sam's for some old school charm, friendly service and a pastrami Reuben of my own! Maybe I'll see you there?

October is party month: birthday parties, Oktoberfest parties and lots and LOTS of Halloween parties. Parties require party food. My favorites are cute-bite sized treats that your guest can pick up with one hand so they don't have to put down their tasty drink. No one likes to put their drink down at a party! A really simple finger food to make (and is vegetarian-friendly) are mini quiches. They look fancy and like you have mad cooking skills but in reality it's just you, pre-made pie dough and a biscuit cutter. 10 minutes tops to assemble! 
What's your favorite easy-to-assemble party dish?

[On an unrelated side note, a friend recently gave me a heads up that my blog's comment box has not been working correctly. Sorry about the inconvenience. The issue's been repaired, so feel free to comment away folks!]   ;)

Mini Cheesy Spinach Quiches
makes 48 tiny quiches


1 pkg. pre-made pie crust (I like Trader Joe's brand, it comes with 2 pie crusts)

1 (10 oz.) box of frozen, chopped spinach

2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (you can find this where the shredded cheese is at your store)

1 (16 oz.) container cottage cheese

1 bunch of green onion, white parts only sliced

4 eggs, lightly beaten

salt and freshly grounded pepper


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Defrost frozen spinach. Then place spinach in a colander and press out remaining water.

3. Using a small biscuit cutter or lip of a shot glass, stamp out your dough.

4. Press each dough round into the hole of your pre-greased mini-muffin tin. (I usually give the tin a light squirt with some cooking spray.)

5. In a bowl, combine spinach, shredded cheese, cottage cheese, green onion, eggs, salt and pepper together. Mix well.

6. Using a spoon, fill each pie crust about 3/4 full.

7. Place tin in oven and bake 20-22 minutes, until edges are a light golden brown. Insert a toothpick in the middle of a quiche, if it comes out clean the quiche are done.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pop the quiches out of the tin with a paring knife.

Note: You can make these quiches to suit your taste by subbing in red peppers, bacon, mushrooms, Gruyere...whatever you like. They're very versatile.


Can you believe just Friday, I was running my air conditioning because the cottage was a tad too warm and here it is just a few days later- Monday and I had to turn on the heater to get rid of the morning chill? I'm quite pleased though. Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I love how the air takes on a crisp smell, the leaves turn a rainbow of colors and you get to wear all kinds of cute scarves and boots. On top of it all, the cooler temps open up a whole other world of cooking- cold weather food! Steaming bowls of soup, savory stews and pipin' hot loaves of bread all make their way out of my kitchen. Food that warms your soul (and your tummy)!

Today's rainy day inspired me to make another batch of mini cornbread muffins. I tinkered with an old Martha Stewart recipe and made some for a party recently and they turned out great but I made the mistake of making them ahead of time so by the time guests arrived, settled in and decided to nosh, the muffins had cooled down substantially. It was a bit of a bummer but it also gave me the idea to pair these bite-sized treats with a dish that stays hot. Since it was grey and wet out today I thought it'd be a good opportunity to pull the ol' slow cooker out and make a batch of Southwest Chili. The mini cornbread muffins tasted amazing dipped in the chili sauce and made a great vessel for sopping up the last few bites. I think I may be making these muffins often this season (maybe with a some diced jalapenos thrown in?). You know what? I bet they'd be great with some Crockpot Chorizo and Lentils! What do you think would be a good match?

Mini Cornbread Muffins

makes 3 dozen


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup canola oil


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Lightly grease your mini-muffin tins. I used Pam spray. (Don't skip this step or your mini muffins will stick to the tin.)

3. In a large bowl, mix together your flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together your sour cream, egg and oil.

5. Stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until combined.

6. Fill each muffin tin about three-quarters full.

7. Pop in the oven and bake for about 10-11 minutes. Muffins are done cooking when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

8. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Turn out muffins from tin.

9. Serve with softened butter and your favorite dish.


Several years ago, I dated a guy that had gone to cooking school. He constantly raved about how great of a cook he was especially when it came to Southern cooking. He went on and on (and on...) about how his red beans and rice was soooooo wonderful that I finally had to ask to taste it. Ugh, it tasted a lot like a cross between refried beans from a can and what I imagine Alpo to taste like. I ended up dumping it down the garbage disposal and just went on with life thinking I wasn't a fan of red beans and rice. That is until I had it at Taylor's Kitchen one night...I LOVED their red beans and rice and couldn't get enough of it! Since then I've had red beans and rice on numerous occasions- sometimes where it's been fantastic, sometimes when it's been mediocre but never as bad as that batch my date made for me. The lesson I learned from the "Red Beans Fiasco of 2008" is to always give food another chance before condemning it. It could be that you came across a bad batch, a bad recipe or just a bad cook. So in the spirit of my "Give It Another Chance" mantra I decided to give bean salad another whirl as well. I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant. My experiences with bean salad were mostly of the supermarket deli variety- a strong vinegar smell, overcooked mushy beans and lack of anything resembling flavor. Yuck! So imagine my surprise when I prepared a batch of this Mexican Bean Salad from for a party and I really liked it. It's colorful, flavorful and it works great as a salad or as a dip. I made a few adjustments in the ingredients' list to cater to my personal taste preferences but it was still simple to make. I liked how the corn kernels gave it some crunch, the hot sauce and chili powder added a bit of a spicy kick and the lemon juice offered up some fresh zing to balance the dish out. This salad can be thrown together pretty quickly after work, making it a great choice to bring to a potluck. You can make it even easier to put together by doing all your chopping the night before.

Mexican Bean Salad


* Stick with using frozen corn which stays crisp when it thaws,  the canned stuff is a bit on the mushy side.

Every year, Mr.S. and I usually throw a big summer BBQ. This summer, however, somehow time got away before we could get one planned. So since the weather was still warm and my birthday was coming up, we decided to host a birthday fiesta. We obtained 20 lbs. of delicious carnitas from La Esperanza and served it up with rice, beans, various dips and fun finger foods. It was a food extravaganza! My friend Cate made an amazing orange-chocolate cake (that was to die for) and we toasted with sangria, hibiscus margaritas and beer. I'm pretty sure everyone had a grand time- kidlets were running amuck, old friends were catching up and new friends were getting to know each other. I couldn't think of a better way to bring in the next year of my life.

Amongst the multitude of tasty eats covering the tables was some Texas Love Dip.  Love Dip...I'm sure most of you are scratching your heads right about now, but if you've ever been to Texas' Central Market, you know exactly what dip I'm taking about. Central Market's Love Dip is unforgettable...and addicting. It's a creamy-tomato concoction with a spicy afterkick that'll make you swoon and become a lifetime convert after just one taste. Give it a go, I think you'll LOVE it   ;)

Texas Love Dip


12 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup chunky fresh tomato salsa (I buy mine premade-a simple salsa of chopped tomatoes, white onions, cilantro and jalapenos at La Superior Market on Franklin)

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

dash of white pepper


1. Place the cream cheese, salsa, garlic, salt, tarragon and white pepper in food proccesor.

2. Process until it's mixed well and creamy.

3. Add in lemon juice, give the processor another whiz or two.

4. Transfer to a serving bowl. Place in fridge and allow flavors to meld for at least an hour.  Serve with tortilla chips, bread bites or your favorite veggies.

5. Tip: If you have a little leftover the next day, it works great as a sandwich spread also.


I remember once Mr.S. commenting that he loved that my friends were such amazing cooks...and you know what? So do I! I'm a lucky girl indeed. Last night, I had the pleasure of dining at my friend Lacy's new house. When I got there, I found out she had picked up some whole branzinos at Sunh Fish and was going to cook them in a salt crust. I was totally excited since I'd been dying to try this method for quite awhile. The technique turned out to be quite simple. The salt crust essentially steamed the fish and the fish came out amazingly moist (and not overly salty at all). I think I may have to do this one for Mr.S. soon!

Pesce al Sale


1 (3 lb. box) coarse Kosher salt
5-6 large egg whites
3 (1 lb.) fresh whole branzinos, scaled & gutted (leave the head and tail intact)
3 fresh lemons, 2 thinly sliced and 1 cut in wedges
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. In a large mixing bowl, incorporate salt and egg whites together. What you want to end up with is a sand-like consistency.


3. Rub the exterior of the fish down with olive oil.

4. Stuff the cavity of the fish with lemon slices, herbs and garlic (optional).

5. On a large baking sheet, evenly spread out a thick layer of the salt paste. You want it to be around 1/2 inch in thickness.

6. Place the fish on top of the salt bed. Then cover it with the remaining salt mixture, making a salt shell. You want all of the fish covered. Firmly press the salt mixture into the flesh.


7. Roast for 20-25 minutes. (Until thermometer reads 135 degrees.) The crust will turn golden brown and hard.


8. Remove baking sheet with fish from oven. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.

9. Tap the salt crust with the back of a heavy spoon. The mound should crack and come apart. Lift the larger pieces of salt crust off and brush away smaller pieces. Gently using a knife or small spatula, peel off the skin of the fish. Lift the exposed fillet off the fish and transfer it to a serving plate. Then lift the tail and pull upward, lifting off the bones from the bottom fillet. Extract the bottom fillet from the skin and place on plate.

10. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.


9402 Main Street, Plymouth, CA 95669. (209) 245-3463

A few months ago, a friend posted on her Facebook an inspirational quote that said, "One day someone will walk into your life and make you see why it never worked with anyone else."


I copied and saved the post because it really resonated with me. Mr.S. and I have both been in marriages where it just flat didn't work out (for very different reasons) but luckily the choices we made afterwards led us to each other. He's such an amazing man and I feel so lucky we met. He's a great boyfriend and my best friend. He tells me often that I'm beautiful and that he loves me, he always holds my hand whenever we're together and his eyes light up whenever he sees me...these may sound like small things but look around at many of the couples around you. Most aren't happy. They're together because of a multitude of reasons/excuses. The reasons I hear most often for staying together are because they have kids or they don't want to be alone...not because they actually want to be with their partner. It's sad. So when I see couple friends who are truly happy and in love, it warms my heart.

Speaking of being happy and in love, recently we celebrated our three year anniversary! (I know, where does the time go?) Our anniversary was on a Monday and we had his kidlets so we decided to postpone our celebration. He did send me these amazing flowers though (I love how romantic he is).

Our first free day to celebrate was this past Saturday, so we booked a table at Taste in the tiny outpost town of Plymouth. We were both quite excited about dining there because we had heard a lot of great things about the restaurant from friends and family who'd been there. Reservations were simple enough through Open Table. We weren't sure how long it would take us to get there though...our guess-timate turned out to be a wee bit off and we rolled up to the quaint little building a half an hour early. No worries though, the friendly hostess accommodated us immediately. Now before, I launch into the food, I just want to comment about the fantastic service we received at Taste. Even Mr.S. who doesn't usually say much about service, mentioned to me on the drive home that the service was wonderful-- a warm and knowledgeable staff who were attentive but not overly attentive (it was the perfect balance) and the courses were paced well.

Once we were settled into our seats and had time to peruse the menu, I ordered a glass of the St. Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone blanc. It was fresh-tasting with fruity undertones, well rounded and not overly acidic. I think it would appeal to most wine drinkers. (Taste's wine menu has a nice variety of selection and is reasonably priced.) Mr.S. really wanted to try the mushroom cigars so we ordered that as our starter. Without us asking, the kitchen split the order for us. The "cigars" were actually like little mushroom eggs rolls made with delicate phyllo dough. We each received one cigar cut in half. The earthy-tasting medley of shiitake, oyster and crimini mushrooms mixed with goat cheese was scrumptious. I just wished they had given us more.

For dinner, Mr.S. opted for the duck breast with red quinoa, black plum, fig pine nut relish and mache. He really enjoyed the duck, commenting that it was flavorful and tender. I had a bite and have to agree that the breast was cooked perfectly (kudos!). I went the seafood route and ordered the night's special- fresh sturgeon with a dijon/whole grain mustard/lemon vinaigrette over tiny roasted potatoes and caper greens. The sauce was so heavenly that I scooped up the leftovers with my potatoes. We were both still a bit hungry after dinner so we each ordered a dessert and coffee. I ordered their house specialty - "The Chocolate Rose." Can I say OMG? So decadent...creamy dark chocolate mousse topped with rose petal gelato and candied rose petals. Totally girly and almost too cute to eat! Mr.S. loves cheesecake so he got the vanilla citrus cheesecake with nectarine sorbet. There wasn't a speck of cheesecake left so I'll assume he gives it the thumbs up.

I enjoyed our dining experience at was the perfect spot to have a romantic anniversary dinner. The prices are a bit steep so I think we'll have to keep it on our restaurants for special occasions list but we'd definitely go back. (Maybe next time we should do some wine tasting beforehand?) The food and service are superb. I think the only improvement I'd suggest is that the portions need to be adjusted to be reflective of the price (or vice versa). The serving sizes were on the smaller side compared to the other fine dining establishments in Sacramento we usually go to.

1815 19th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. (916) 822-5668.

Bows and Arrows is a shop of many faces. It's a cute vintage boutique, a charming cafe, and a lively venue for local musicians and artists all under one roof. Recently, my friend Lacy and I met up there for a late afternoon bite to eat. I'd been meaning to check the place out for quite awhile, as it's only a stone's throw from my cottage; unfortunately, the idea would always cross my mind on Mondays- when the business was closed. Gah! Anyhow, I finally made it there and it didn't disappoint.

The cafe area is in the back of the shop and offers unique sandwiches, soups, drinks and artisan popsicles. I was absolutely starving, so I ordered the cola-braised pork sandwich which came with a choice of a cup of soup or small salad. Their vegan sweet potato soup sounded enticing so I opted for the soup as my side. I contemplated for a moment about getting a Mexican Coke or some Cheerwine (yum!); but in the end, I went with a glass of white sangria and joined Lacy out in their garden. The garden/patio was super cute- outfitted with various succulents, greenery, misters and an eclectic blend of patio furniture. It was a comfortable and tranquil environment to kick back in and catch up on our girl talk.

After a few minutes of chatting, the staff brought out our orders and I have to say, both the sandwich and the soup were delicious and hit the spot! The fresh avocado-tomato salsa complemented the juicy shredded pork perfectly. Their vegan sweet potato soup was also a winner- it had just a hint of sweetness to it, making it almost dessert-like. Also, I loved how it had a smooth creamy texture, even though it wasn't cream-based. While the food was delightful, my mason jar of white sangria was just tasted more like a spritzer as it had no fruit slices mixed in. (Next time, I think I'll go with one of their beers on tap.) On a side note: I was quite enamored with their adorable, mismatched servingware but I was surprised to see that the bowl my soup came in had several chips along the rim. Though the chips may look cute and give the dish a weather-worn look, I would be worried about customers cutting themselves accidentally. The lunch turned out to be quite filling and I wished I had saved enough room to try one of their famous Fat Face popsicles. The flavors sounded intriguing (kaffir lime-avocado? hibiscus-mint? Thai tea- sweet potato?) and they looked delicious. Definitely next time!


I'm so glad Bows is in my neighborhood. It does put out a strong hipster vibe which can be a turn off for some people but if you can get past that, it's a fun place to relax and eat. I think I may also have to find time to check out their Happy Hour or Sunday brunch, both sounded intriguing. Challah French Toast? Yes, please!