This weekend I took Kidlet #2 to see Big Hero 6. Have you seen it yet? It's such a cute movie with some great themes running through it- coping with grief, being a "nerd" is cool and how to take the high road instead of exacting revenge - just to name a few. I also liked how the main character (Hiro) lived in a non-traditional family, as that's quite common these days. (He and his brother, Tadashi, are raised by their aunt.) I think the movie appeals to both kids and adults alike. I enjoyed it a lot and the Kidlet loved-loved-loved the movie and we discussed it at length on the way home.

Speaking of non-traditional. This weekend I also cooked this bad-ass hybrid cheesecake dish. It was so simple to make, I'm almost embarrassed to post it. But if you need an easy-to-prepare dessert for a party, I highly recommend making this sopapilla cheesecake.

If you've never heard of a sopapilla before- it's a deep-fried, puffed/pillowy pastry served with cinnamon and honey (or syrup) that originated in New Mexico.  This recipe combines a slacker-version of that with some creamy cheesecakey goodness.  It tastes insanely amazing warm but it's just as delicious when you refrigerate the leftovers- cold, they turn into a cheesecake bar. Just be warned- this recipe is not for the sugar-conscious and for god's sake don't make it with artificial sweeteners. 

I tweaked a few tiny little things to suit my tastes. (The original recipe can be found here: Allrecipes )

Sopapilla Cheesecake


3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 (8 ounce) cans Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls dough
6 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup cup sliced almonds


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Spray cooking spray on a 9x13 inch glass baking dish.

3. Unroll the sheets of crescent roll dough from the cans. Roll each can's contents into a 9x13 sheet.  Press one sheet along the bottom of the pan. 

3. Using your mixer, beat the creamed cheese, 1 1/2 cups of white sugar, and vanilla extract together until smooth.

4. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the dough.  Spread so it's evenly distributed. Lay the 2nd sheet of dough on top.

5. Drizzle the melted butter over the top of teh cake.

6.  Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and the cinnamon together. Sprinkle over the top of the dessert.  Then sprinkle the almonds on top. Then use a frosting spatula or knife and lightly mixed the almonds and sugar/cinnamon mixture together.

7. Bake for 45 minutes. The crescent roll will puff up and turn a golden brown.

8.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Slice and serve.


Is everyone ready for Thanksgiving? I'm definitely not.  Growing up as an only child in a family that wasn't super gung-ho over celebrating holidays; I've felt a bit overwhelmed during the holiday season ever since I started dating Mr.S.  He has a big family that's really nice, but the holidays always feel a bit chaotic to me when I'm there. There's a lot of people in his house during Thanksgiving and Xmas, a lot of noise and kids running amuck.  Up until this year, I could skip events and just duck home to the cottage if I needed a breather but now that I live with Mr.S I'm not quite sure how I'm going to handle it all.  I think the panic of the holidays must have already started to show a little on my face because Mr. S suggested we get out of town for a night. So the day after Thanksgiving we're going to duck out and decompress. I'm looking forward to it. ☺

How do you all deal with the holiday frenzy? Got any tried and true tips?

In the meantime, if you get tired of turkey and ham, give this delicious mushroom lasagna recipe by the folks at Sunset Magazine a shot.  My friend Michelle made it for book club and it was so insanely good that I had to ask her for the recipe. I just made it again this weekend. Mr.S and I had half and I brought half to a friend that just had a baby. It has a wonderful earthy taste balanced by a béchamel sauce that's not overwhelming. Also it can be prepared ahead of time which makes it a holiday time-saving gem!

Mushroom and Fresh Herb Lasagna


12 no-boil lasagna noodles (1/2 lb.)
1 qt. milk  (I used 2%)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, divided
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 medium leeks, sliced into thin rings
1 1/2 pounds portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. coarsely shredded Asiago cheese


1. Soften noodles in a pan of very hot water while you prep the other ingredients.
2. Make béchamel (white sauce): Bring milk to a simmer in a saucepan and remove from heat. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened, 2 minutes. Whisk milk into flour mixture all at once and whisk until smooth. Add 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and the nutmeg. Sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon; if it isn't, cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in garlic, 2 tbsp. parsley, and 1/2 tbsp. thyme. Keep covered.
3. Preheat oven to 375°. Heat a deep, wide pot over medium-high heat 2 minutes. Swirl in 1 tbsp. oil and add leeks. Cook until tender but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Scoop leeks into a bowl and set aside.
4. Swirl 2 tbsp. oil into pot. Add mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat, covered, until mushrooms are tender and beginning to release juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until edges start to brown. Stir in leeks and remaining 1/2 tbsp. thyme. Remove from heat.
5. Mix Parmesan with Asiago.
6. Assemble lasagna: Oil a 9- by 13-in. baking dish. Spread a few spoonfuls of béchamel over bottom. Arrange 3 noodles crosswise in dish, then spoon on about 1/2 cup béchamel, followed by a third of the mushrooms and 1/3 cup cheeses. Repeat layers twice more. Top with a final layer of noodles and béchamel, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
7. Bake lasagna until browned and bubbling, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp. parsley and let sit at least 15 minutes before slicing.
* Make ahead: Through step 6, 1 day, chilled, or up to 3 months, frozen. Let chilled lasagna sit at room temperature 1 hour before baking. Frozen lasagna can either be thawed in the refrigerator overnight and then baked, or baked straight from the freezer for 1 3/4 hours (cover for first hour).
* Dried shiitakes will work in this recipe too. Just rinse them in cold water several times, then place them in a bowl with boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain the water off, slice off the stems and use in recipe.
Hey there! Yep, I'm still alive. I've just been submerged in life. Living with Mr.S and the kidlets has been keeping me crazy busy. Kidlets? Should I even be calling them that anymore? One's a tween and the other a teen...and with age has come the teen angst, the normal stinky teen boy smells (Sweet Baby Jesus, why do their rooms consistently smell like a combo of dirty socks, sweat and ass?) and hormones, hormones, hormones. Rampant hormones and mood swings around every corner. Please someone, tell me it gets better at some point?! Plus, Pepper has decided to go around peeing upstairs (maybe because it already smells like socks, sweat and ass?) so we've had to put a doggie belly band on him. It seems to be working but I'm constantly velcroing and unvelcroing the sucker for him so he can go out. I'm like a doggie valet. I'll have to take a pic of him wearing the belly band, it's really cute (we bought him one that has bowties on it) but man, does Peppy hate it! Talk about a really disgruntled poodle.

Anyhow, I did come up for air and do some cooking this weekend. About a month or two ago, my friend Julie posted on Facebook that she was eating a funeral sandwich. My interest was piqued, I had to ask, "What's a funeral sandwich?" Turns out it's a type of slider made with Kings Hawaiian rolls, filled with thinly sliced lunchmeat and cheese, and then glazed with a sauce.  You shove them in the fridge to marinate and then pop them in the oven. I'm not 100% sure but I think they're some kind of spin-off of the Southern funeral biscuit.

I decided to make some this week and Mr. S and Kidlet #1 LOVED them, in fact Kidlet #1 has been begging me to make them again. He even offered to wash my car if I made them for him. I could get used to this. ☺

So if you need a dish for football Sunday, to take to bunco or just something to nosh on- give these a whirl. They're super easy to make (and you can even make them the night before). Traditionally they're made with ham and Swiss but I prefer turkey and provolone, so use whatever combo you like. They all taste good with the glaze.

Funeral Sandwiches


12 Kings Hawaiian rolls
12 slices of turkey lunchmeat (thinly sliced)
12 slices of provolone cheese
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon onion powder


1. In a Pyrex measuring cup, melt your butter. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, brown sugar and onion powder. Whisk together.

2. Coat your 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray.  Split the whole package of rolls in half and place the bottoms in the pan.

3. Use a pastry brush and baste each roll bottom with the sauce.

4. Fold a piece of lunch meat and cheese onto each roll bottom.

5. Place the roll top on.

6. Brush each roll top with sauce. Then drizzle the remaining portion of the sauce over the top of the rolls.

7. Cover tightly with Saran Wrap. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 3-4 hours but overnight is even better.

8. Preheat over for 350 degrees F.

9. If you want to get fancy you can sprinkle the rolls with poppy seeds or toasted sesame seeds.

9. Bake uncovered for 12-15 minutes.

10. Remove from oven. Eat right away.  (FYI: These do not reheat well so eat 'em up!)


Can you believe October is already almost over? It's been a busy, busy month here at the casa. For one thing, I turned 40! Yep, the big 4-0. Gah!  To celebrate Mr. S. whisked me off for a fun, romantic getaway in SF the weekend before. We had a terrific time. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt, poked around Japantown, hit up the CA Academy of Sciences and even saw the Blue Angels zoom by. We also stocked up on a few bags of our favorite coffee from Philz.  Mmm!

View from our hotel room
Claude, the albino alligator at the CA Academy of Sciences

Philz, It's the Best!

On my actual birthday day, I woke up to this awesome scene in the dining room: a dozen balloons in my car. 

Then for dinner, Mr.S. planned a lovely night out at Mulvaney's with our friends, Michelle and Pete, for me. Followed by the most luscious, delicious salted caramel cake from Freeport Bakery. If you haven't tried this cake, get yourself to Freeport Bakery right now! It'll make your toes curl, it's soooo amazing. Seriously, it's like cake heroin. Sweet, sweet cake heroin. Ummmm yeah, so let's just say there were no leftovers from this cake in our house. ☺

On a healthier note, I've been making this baked hummus dish a lot on Sundays.  Mr.S and the kidlets have been immersed in watching the 9 billion football games that are on TV. So while they're watching that, Pepper and I are usually watching, "The League," on Netflix in the other room.  (If you haven't seen this show, check it out. It's absolutely hilarious...and this comes from somebody who equates watching football to going to the gyno. Neither are fun.)

 Regardless of what we're doing, we all seem to love snacking on this dish.

Sunday Funday Baked Hummus (adapted from Iowa Girl Eats 5 Layer Baked Hummus recipe)


10 oz. Sabra Roasted Garlic Hummus
3 Jennie-O Hot Italian Turkey Sausages (removed from casing)
2 medium leeks, white & green parts only (cut the leeks in half lengthwise, then slice thinly)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt & fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon McCormick's onion powder
1 large clove of garlic, minced
6 oz. Trader Joe's Feta with Mediterranean Herbs


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Stir up the hummus so the roasted garlic bits get incorporated into the hummus. Spread the hummus mixture evenly into the bottom of a 10x7 baking dish.

3. In a large pan, brown your turkey sausage.

4. Add in your sliced leeks and garlic. Season with salt, fresh ground pepper and onion powder. Sauté until softened.

5. Take sausage-leek mixture and layer it over the hummus.

6. Sprinkle with feta.

7. Place in oven for 20 minutes.

8. Serve hot with chips or warm pita bread.
109 E Street, Davis, California 95616.  (530) 753-3196

It’s finally open!

Six months ago, my friend Kerry gave me the heads up that the design company she works for, Benning Design, had been hired to work on a soon-to-be-opened yakitori place in Davis. The owners, a Japanese couple, anticipated opening Yakitori Yuchan by fall. Since then I’ve been eagerly (and patiently) waiting to eat some yakitori without having to drive to the Bay Area. Last night, I finally got my wish. My friend and I popped in during their soft opening and had a very pleasant dinner. The interior is quite pretty- a beautiful artsy bamboo lighting fixture takes center stage, there’s lots of color splashed throughout the restaurant (I love the bold, sunset orange-red that highlights the walls), and the sake bar is pretty badass looking with its upside down, hanging dispensers.

When you sit down the server gives you a menu and a small list. The list is for marking what kind of skewers you’d like to order. Each order comes with 2 skewers. Yakitori Yuchan offers several different kinds of chicken, pork and veggie skewers. On some of them you can choose to have it with shio (salt) or with tare (a basting sauce made from mirin, soy sauce, sake and sugar).  

If you're unfamiliar with yakitori, here's a textbook definition:

ya·ki·to·ri:  /yäkiˈtôrē/, noun

“Yakitori, grilled chicken, is commonly a Japanese type of skewered chicken cooked over a special kind of charcoal. The term "yakitori" can also refer to skewered food in general. Kushiyaki, is a formal term that encompasses both poultry and non-poultry items, skewered and grilled.”

Here’s a few that we tried:
Eringi  (grilled King Trumpet mushrooms with a garlic sauce – the mushroom has a nice “meaty” texture to it when grilled)

Negima (grilled chicken with spring onion)

Chicken Liver (one of my favorite skewers to order- I love the dense meat and slightly iron-like taste)

Grilled chicken drizzled with a wasabi cream sauce ( the sauce had a nice horseradish bite to it but was not overwhelming)

Pork wrapped around a quail egg (perfectly cooked, chewy pork wrapped around a tiny, hard-boiled quail egg)

We also got several appetizers to share:

Nasu dengaku  (miso glazed eggplant)

Takoyaki ( creamy octopus “balls” sprinkled with bonito and drizzled with sauce)

Garlic Brussels (grilled Brussels sprouts with a delicious miso sauce, sprinkled with bits of fried garlic and pepper threads)

And a yaki onigiri  (fried riceball)

All of the skewers were delicious. I also loved both the nasu dengaku and the Brussels sprouts dish, I could have eaten another serving of each. The fried bits of garlic and teensy sliced pepper threads made the savory dish absolutely addicting. Next time I’d also like to try the fried pumpkin with curry sauce and the squid app. One thing about the service that I really liked was that the dishes are brought out in waves as they are ready, in true izakaya fashion. This gives you an opportunity to relax, chat and knock back a drink in between dishes. (They have a nice choice of sakes to make your way through.)

If you get a chance, I highly suggested checking out Yakitori Yuchan. Yakitori is the perfect food to nibble on while socializing. It’s also great if you’re doing a no or low carb diet as most of the skewers are meatcentric. 

Note: Yakitori Yuchan currently opens for dinner at 6pm and is closed on Mondays.


Ever have those periods in your life where everything speeds by like someone pushed the fast forward button? One minute you’re kickin’ back, a Lady of Leisure, and the next minute, MONTHS have flown by and you’re like, “What the heck? What just happened? How did I get here? Why am I so exhausted?”  That’s what this year has been feeling like to me. Working full time really wears me out. Being a stepmom for a teen 100% of the time and a preteen 90% of the time is a lot of work and very tiring. There's dinners to be made, girl woes to solve and helping with homework...endless homework.  Not to mention moving households pooped me out big time. (I’m STILL unpacking.)  Don’t get me wrong, all of it has been rewarding but I swear I could sleep for weeks. Especially with the rainy weather we’re having today. Crawling out of my cozy bed this morning was excruciating.  Anyhow, tired as I am, I am looking forward to some cooler, crisper autumn weather.  No, not because of the Pumpkin Spice lattes hawked by Starbucks (I hate the stuff, it’s vile) but because it’ll be soup weather soon. There’s something relaxing and luxurious about cooking soup. I can’t wait!  In the meantime, on weeknights when I’m depleted of any and all energy, I've been making super easy recipes and I do mean SUPER EASY. Like this one that I clipped from the Bee recently for mushrooms.  (It originally was featured on It’s about as simple as you can get.  (I did add in some freshly ground pepper and a dash of Worcestershire sauce to suit my taste.)

Quickie Mushrooms (perfect topping for steak or roasted pork tenderloin)


½ stick unsalted butter
¼ cup sherry
½ envelope of Lipton onion soup mix
½ lb. sliced cremini mushrooms
Dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Sprinkle of freshly ground pepper (optional)


1. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.

2. Stir in sherry.

3. Add in soup mix, then mushrooms.

4. Add Worcestershire sauce and black pepper (both optional).  Sauté to desired texture.

1309 Florin Road, Suite F. Sacramento, CA 95831. (916) 421-4259.

Is there anything better than holding a piping hot bao on a cold day? It’s like a mini-hand heater and a tasty, toasty treat all wrapped up into one. I recently introduced the kidlets to bao. When I brought a box home for Sunday breakfast, the little scallywags gave me the stinkeye. “What is this blob of dough you’re handing me?” I’m sure their suspicious little minds were thinking, “Is it full of something disgusting? Anchovies? Natto? Liver?”  When I described it as being a Chinese Hot Pocket (work with me here, they’re kids) and stuffed full of BBQ pork, they let down their guard and took one. Kidlet #2, Mr. Picky Picky, even liked it!

If you’re unfamiliar with bao, they are steamed or baked buns stuffed with a variety of yummy fillings like – cha siu pork, Chinese sausage (lap cheong), coconut custard, egg and mung bean, black sesame paste or pickled, spicy veggies.  The steamed bao are a pillowy white and a bit chewy. The baked ones are breadier, with a shiny glaze.

Baked Bao

For the past year or so, my favorite place to buy bao in Sacramento is at a little hole in the wall shoppe called ABC Bakery in the Pocket/Greenhaven (although Lam Kwong Market downtown is a close second).  ABC Bakery is located off Florin Road in the “Old” Bel Air shopping center. (If you’re looking directly at Bel-Air, it’s along the right side, around the corner of the building.)  It’s a very small store and there’s almost always a line. Items  run out quick- so get there early if you want the best availability. On a recent Sunday, I got there around 9am and bought some of their baked cha siu pork bao, curry chicken bao and a few hot dog bao (slices of hot dog and green onions mixed in with the dough). I'll be honest, I do normally like a little more meat in my bao than what ABC does but I like the fact that everything there is freshly made.  On my last visit, I also picked up some shrimp dumplings which were quite delicious. The egg tarts here (I wish I knew their recipe for their wonderful flaky crust) and (seasonal) moon cakes have also been really good during past visits.

Shrimp Dumplings

Some people I know have bitched about the customer service at ABC citing that’s it’s very abrasive but everyone I've encountered there has always been polite. They aren't usually Chatty Kathys but then again they’re trying to keep the line moving. Here’s a tip, look at the menu and know what you want before you get to the front of the line. That'll keep you from catching flack from the staff as well as the patrons behind you. ☺

There's some new stuff popping up around town that I thought I'd share:

The Public House Theater will be opening up September 26th at 5440 14th Ave. You can watch movies while enjoying a glass of wine or local brew. They also plan to offer a small menu of nibbles, sandwiches and paninis.

For more info:

A small Spartan pop-up called Good Eats has quietly opened up inside Vic's Market in SLP. They're serving up some tasty Southern eats (ribs, fried chicken, tri-tip, fried Cajun snapper, red beans and rice etc). The feedback I've heard so far has been very positive, especially about the fried chicken and the mac and cheese. Heads up though- my understanding is they close early- 8pm. So get over there early!

5820 S Land Park Drive.  (916) 949-1850

Bacon and Butter, Billy Zoellin's breakfast joint, is scheduled to open at its new Tahoe Park digs September 27.

5913 Broadway

Looking for something fun and educational to take the kidlets to this weekend? Check out this fantastic event put on by the Food Literacy Center:


As part of Food Literacy Month in September, local residents can attend the free Food Literacy Fair from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Sept. 14 at Southside Park across from California’s largest certified farmers market. The fair, hosted by Food Literacy Center and Assemblymember Roger Dickinson in partnership with Southside Park Neighborhood Association, will include live music from The Hoots, live cooking demonstrations featuring local kids and chefs, crafts, kids games, free food samples, veggie costumes, face painting, a photo booth, awards and the announcement of the Veggie of the Year.

Dennis Sydnor Jr.from Ten22 & Kurt Spataro from Paragary Restaurant Group will be cooking with food literacy kids.

Learn about fresh veggies.

There will be Pygmy goats from the Farm Bureau...

and other friendly farm friends.

There will also be food trucks from Mama Kim and Slightly Skewed.

Photos courtesy of the Food Literacy Center, Mama Kim Eats, Slightly Skewed and Madeloni Photography.


2620 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95864. (916) 977-3997

Sometimes I feel like Mr.S and the kidlets are Satan's little minions. Like this weekend for example, they "forced" me to go try this new dessert place, The Parlor, that took the place of our beloved Yogurt Monkey. They had gone earlier in the week, had been raving non-stop about it and were eager to revisit. So at 930pm on Friday night, we trek over to The Parlor on Fair Oaks Boulevard. There's a line out the door, a big huge line of teenagers. *Sigh* We stood in line for 20 minutes (listening to the latest high school gossip of who likes who, who's wearing what and the clicking of hundred cell phones taking selfies) and it moved fairly quickly. Once inside, a hyper-happy gentleman with a 1,000-watt smile greeted us and asked our order. For our "ice cream puffs" we had a choice of a regular donut, a glazed donut or an apple fritter. I chose the apple fritter- go big or go home, right? Next it was time to choose the all important ice cream...being lactarded, I should have gone with the mango sorbet but I couldn't help but be drawn to the coffee ice cream with Nutella swirled in (aka the "Midnight in Paris"). Mr. Smiley, sliced my fritter open and slapped a big scoop of ice cream on it and handed my order to his lovely assistant. She scurried off to the back room where...they did something?! I dunno, it was off limits to the public but a few minutes later she handed me my ice cream pressed inside a warm fritter. It was a bit Frankenstein-like as far as desserts go, but it was also flippin' delicious! Since then, I've heard that they started doing ice cream macaron sandwiches as well and plan to do ice creme brulee. Mmmm.....

Summer's winding down but the amount of food events are kickin' up, here's just a few:

August 28, 7pm
Kupro's Eat, Drink & Be Merry: This is the first in a series of family style dinners with Chef Marty Hutton and 10 "cullinights" (chefs, writers, growers, farmers, etc.). Tickets are $40 per person and are available in house.  (Tip" If you join the event via FB and get your tickets early...pre-sales are two-for-one.) (916) 440-0401
August 29
The 51st Annual Greek Festival featuring authentic cuisine and vibrant entertainment, Labor Day Weekend at the Sacramento Convention Center. The event kicks off Friday, August 29th at 11am and admission is FREE until 3pm. Doors close at 11pm. Saturday hours are 12pm to 11pm and Sunday 12pm to 9pm. Admission is $5.00 and children under 12 are free. (916) 443-2033
September 11, 5pm
GATHER is a social experiment based around the idea that a neighborhood that eats together, stays together and strengthens the community. This unique food event that will take place monthly on second Thursday evenings in Oak Park. The night will include communal tables for outdoor dining, a craft beer area, artisanal food vendors, designers, food demos, interactive art, live music and a modular kids park. Free admittance.

September 14, 9am-1pm
Assembly member Roger Dickinson is hosting a free Food Literacy Fair in partnership with the nonprofit Food Literacy Center and the Southside Park Neighborhood Association. 
For more info:  916-324-4676

September 14, 4pm
Foodstock: Head to Raley Field for the music festival and a pig roast benefiting Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and Soil Born Farms. While enjoying succulent pork down on the field, guests can cool off with craft brews and jam out to the sounds of MindX and Wonder Bread 5. Tickets

September 18, 7pm
Sacramento Burger Battle: Fifteen Sacramento area restaurants will cook up their best burgers in an epic charity cook-off and tasting event. $55 general, $75 VIP early entry. Tickets

Read more here:

September 20, 12:30pm
The 20th California Brewers Festival will be held at Discovery Park. You'll be able to taste over 120 micro brews handcrafted by more than 65+ brewers from all over the country, including some foreign participants. In addition, delicious food from numerous food truck vendors will be available for you to purchase. General Admission - $45, VIP - $75, Designated Driver (for anyone not drinking alcohol including minors) - $5.

September 25, 530pm
River City Food Bank is hosting an evening of food trucks, beer and wine, and live music. Entrance ticket includes: a tour of River City Food Bank, 1 beverage ticket, 1 drawing ticket for a chance to win a trip on the Sac Brew Bike for you and fourteen friends. Tickets $20. (916) 446-2627

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

September 27
Farm to Fork Festival: Attendees will find food, wine and beer from regional eateries and purveyors, as well as live music, cooking demonstrations, a kids’ zone, interactive booths from local grocers, farms and ranches and more. Location: Capitol Mall. Free.

October 10 & 11, Friday – 6 pm to Midnite / Saturday – 3 pm to Midnite
47th Annual Sacramento Turn Verein Oktoberfest. Admission at Door: $20 Adults / $5 Children (12 & Under). (916) 442-7360
November 7, 6pm
The Firefighters Burn Institute is hosting their “1st Alarm Chili Cook-Off” charity fundraiser. This charity event will allow guests to taste and vote for their favorite chili recipe, while enjoying beer and wine tasting, dessert, a silent auction, raffle and live music with dancing. All proceeds will benefit the Firefighters Burn Institute. $25 advance, $15 children ages 12 and younger, $30 at the door

Read more here:
(916) 442-6802 or (916) 739-8525

Man, this has been the year of changes! New job in May. A brand-spankin' new car this month--I get to pick it up this weekend. Woo-hoo, I'm sooooo excited! And now a new home next month. Yep, you heard right...I'm moving! Out of my beloved little cottage in the Grid but not too far away...just in with Mr.S., the kidlets (or should I be calling them teenlets these days?) and Pepper. I guess after 5 years, it's about time we shack up, right? What's funny is the reaction I get when I tell people- half of my friends already thought I lived with Mr.S because I'm there so much and the other half are like, "About time!"

Anyhow, I was over there the other day visiting Mr. S and discussing how in the heck we're going to fit my stuff in his closet (that boy has a LOT of shoes!) when I noticed that my baby Roma tomatoes were finally ready to be picked. Look at how gorgeous they are! They're almost too pretty to eat...almost.

To celebrate these red beauties, I decided to transform my garden bounty into a savory tomato bread pudding. Yum! I threw in a bowlful of ripe baby Romas and sprinkled in a few leftover yellow cherry tomatoes for spots of contrasting color. To give the bread pudding some zing I also used a spicy jalapeno-cheddar focaccia from Raley's (but you can use whatever kind of bread you like). Pretty much any type of hearty, thick bread will work in this recipe.  No wimpy bread, please!

Savory Tomato Bread Pudding (based on a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis)



Butter, for greasing the baking dish
8 ounces Jalapeno-Cheddar focaccia, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves of fresh garlic
12 ounces (about a cup and a half) small, flavorful tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 (packed) cup fresh, chopped basil leaves
5 oz. Parmesan-Reggiano


6 large eggs, room temp
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Put oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 375 F.

2. Butter a 9x13x2 glass casserole dish. Spread the bread cubes evenly in the dish. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat up your oil over med-high heat. Add in your onion, cook until slightly translucent. Add in garlic, cook until fragrant. Add in your tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Let it cook for about 2-3 minutes. Tomatoes will soften. Turn off the heat and add in the chopped basil. Stir. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread crumbs.

4. Sprinkle with the Parmesan-Reggiano. Combine well.

5. In a bowl, whisk together your eggs, milk, salt and pepper together. Get the custard really smooth then pour it over the bread mixture. Let it sit for 15 minutes, tossing it frequently. You really want the bread to get saturated with the custard.

6. Place in the oven and cook for about 25-30 mutes. Stick a knife in the center and when it comes out clean, you can take the dish out.

7. Let the bread pudding cool for 5-10 minutes then slice and serve.

This weekend, I ended up doing an insane amount of cooking. I was throwing Mr.S a poker party and doing all the food for that, as well as attending a Japanese sweets get together at my buddy, Misa's. I wanted to make a Japanese cotton cheesecake for Misa's party but didn't have time to try out recipes before Saturday. My cotton cheesecake was an epic fail. It didn't rise at all, it was flat as a pancake and hard as a hockey puck. There was no way I was bringing it to the party. Luckily there was enough treats (and then some) to go around. Misa made some delicious anmitsu. Anmitsu is a Japanese dessert consisting of small cubes of agar agar jelly (kanten), sweet azuki bean paste (anko), soft mochi (gyūhi), a variety of fruits, ice cream, and sometimes boiled peas. It’s usually served with a black sugar syrup called "kuromitsu" that you pour over the jelly. It's very refreshing and not overly sweet. Miki made my favorite childhood dessert, Japanese strawberry shortcake. It's a moist and airy, layered sponge cake with a fresh strawberry and whipped cream filling, plus whipped cream frosting. I'm not big on sweets but I love this cake!

For Mr. S' poker party, I made:

Korean Ground Beef tacos with fixin's
Frijoles Borrachos
Cilantro-Lime Rice
Sweet and Sour Mini-Meatballs
Corn-Jalapeno Casserole
Apricot Torte

Mr. S insisted also on having a giant, industrial-size, bubbling vat of Que Bueno. Gross! 

Anyhow, the Frijoles Borrachos (Drunken Beans) I made came out perfect. Beer, bacon and beans- how can you go wrong? I used a recipe from a blog called Gimme Some Oven but made it in a Crockpot instead. You can find the original recipe here : Gimme Some Oven's Drunken Beans

Frijoles Borrachos


  • 4 pieces (uncooked) thick bacon, diced
  • 1 small white onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno, (stemmed, seeded and diced )
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle Negra Modelo beer
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  •  Queso Fresco as a topping (optional)

  • Instructions

    1. Fry up your bacon pieces in a small pan. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside.

    2. Using the leftover bacon grease, sauté your onion and jalapeno until the onion becomes translucent. Add in your garlic and sauté until it becomes fragrant.

    3. Dump everything you just cooked into your Crockpot. Add back in the bacon. Pour in your beer and add in your spices. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes then on  low for 2-3 hours.

    4. Before serving, toss in 1 tablespoon of lime juice and a handful of chopped cilantro and you're good to go.

    Lately I've been fiddling around with simple, weeknight recipes. I recently ran across dukkah in the spice aisle and figured I'd give it a try. Dukkah (pronounced DOO-kah)  is an Egyptian blend of ground toasted nuts, seeds and spices. It's quite healthy and nutritious. Dukkah can be sprinkled on meat or veggies but most people enjoy it by combining it with some olive oil and dunking some warm pita or crusty bread in it. It's easy to make at home but you can easily find it at a lot of ethnic or specialty stores these days too. I tried store bought dukkah and it was okay. I've since then made it at home and like it better. The dukkah I make consists of :

    sesame seeds
    coriander seeds
    cumin seeds
    dried lemon zest
    fennel seeds
    coarse sea salt
    dried peppercorns

    My measurements change each time. But I usually chop the nuts then toast them in a dry skillet. I set the nuts aside to cool then toast my spices.

    In my mini food processor, I give the spices a few whirls. Then I add the nuts and do a coarse grind. I move the mixture to a bowl and then mix in my toasted sesame seeds.

    Recently, I made some dukka-crusted scallops. I dredged some beautiful diver scallops from Sunh Fish through dukkah then sautéed them in some clarified butter in a cast iron skillet. Super easy and Mr.S. really liked them! We ate the dukkah-crusted scallops with some carrots seasoned with a touch of Herbes de Provence and a small salad. It was the perfect summertime dinner- nice and light.
    16248 Main Street, Guerneville, CA 95446. (707) 869-0780

    During my recent work trip, many of the locals were kind enough to offer restaurant recommendations. One place I kept hearing about repeatedly was Boon Eat + Drink. It was pricier than what my work per diem allowed but one of my coworkers and I decided to go check it out anyway. Yes, I know...I have champagne taste on a beer budget. ☺

    We found this Guerneville hotspot easily enough. It was located in a small row of eateries on Main Street, just a couple doors down from an interesting looking cabaret/wine bar. It was quite small and bistroesque in nature. The whole restaurant consisted of about 10 tables (mostly deuces) along with two tables squeezed outside. We lucked out that there was a 2-top open when we arrived and the hostess was able to seat us immediately. Inside, there wasn't a lot of room to move about and it was a bit loud, but they make the chaos work somehow. I have to say, I loved the whimsical dog-catching-a-Frisbee wallpaper that decorated one wall. So cute! (I wanted to take a photo of it for you but the lighting was pretty dim in the restaurant. Sorry!)

    Boon's menu was brief (a smattering of salads, small plates, and entrées) but ranged from dishes like grass-fed burgers with crispy truffle fries (and homemade ketchup and aioli), a decadent sounding mac-and-cheese, to a sublime-sounding polenta lasagna with mixed seasonal veggies and a spicy marinara. My coworker went with the mac and cheese with wild mushrooms topped with truffled bread crumbs; which she said was sinfully rich and oh so creamy. I opted to start with the grilled calamari salad with arugula, citrus segments, shaved fennel, castelvetrano olives and a lemon vinaigrette. The helping of squid was generous and the salad was delicious. The orange segments in my calamari salad really brightened the dish and it was nice to see calamari prepared in such a simple manner. The flavor and texture of the squid was able to shine through (I'm so over deep fried batter smothering my calamari). For my entrée, I went with the seared halibut with grape salsa over spicy black lentils and greens. The fish was cooked perfectly. The lentils, on the other hand, could have been cooked just a tad longer; nevertheless, the spicy kick of the lentils contrasted perfectly with the sweetness of the grapes - and I ate all of them.

    Table service at Boon could be summed as mediocre. Our waiter was zooming around in high gear but it would have been nice had he checked back on us after we got our food to make sure everything was going smoothly. We had to flag him down whenever we needed something and it was a bit like trying to lasso Speedy Gonzalez.

    Overall, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Boon Eat+Drink to friends if they're in the area. I love that they use seasonal produce to enhance their dishes. Everything I tasted during my visit was seasoned well and alive with flavor. (Don't worry about the calories, you can hike them off the next day at nearby Armstrong Redwoods State Preserve.) Next time, I'd love to take the time to sample some of the Russian River wines and beers on their list. My only recommendation to Boon Eat + Drink would be to invest in some air conditioning. Gah! It was incredibly warm inside the restaurant even with the doors open. I could see sweat glistening on surrounding patrons foreheads as well. No bueno.
    10439 California 1, Jenner, CA 95450. (707) 865-2251

    So last week, I went on my first work trip with my new job. We got to spend 5 days in the lovely Russian River area. The scenery in that part of California was beautiful (billowy fog, clear blue water and loads and loads of trees, flowers and greenery), not to mention it was about 20 degrees cooler than Sacramento. My coworkers and I stayed at this little hotel in Guerneville (called Fern Grove) made up of little rustic cottages.

    My cottage had a separate living room as well as a kitchenette with a microwave and a fridge. Nothing fancy but cute nonetheless. The bathroom did have this additional, weird red overhead light though. When turned on, it gave the bathroom this weird opium den feel and made me want to belt out the Police's "Roxanne." (Later, I found out this was a heat light.)

    The second day of our trip, my coworkers and I met up with the superintendent for Mendocino-Russian River State Parks District at Café Aquatica for an early morning meeting. Café Aquatica is located in the small, picturesque town of Jenner and looks like a charming beach shack set along the side of the road.

    The coffee shop itself is quite tiny, but there's ample seating outside and with a spectacular view like this who wouldn't want to sit outside?

    The two gals working the shop the day we visited were sweet as pie. When one of my coworkers panicked because they only took cash, they graciously told her that she could pay them back next time she was in the area. (Don't worry, she got covered.) Café Aquatica's coffee, I have to say, is just as good as their view. They get their beans from a small fair-trade farm in Nicaragua and micro roast them on site. There was none of that burnt or acidy taste that a lot of places seem to have. Each cup is done as a pour over, made to order. They also offer a mouthwatering menu of fresh soups, salads, sandwiches and baked treats. Try one of their breakfast sandwiches! (My coworker said it was delicious. Her poached eggs with lox on toasted, homemade focaccia looked amazing and I instantly regretted not ordering one to go.) Also, according to the barista, they only use certified organic and non-GMO products- so that's a big plus. ☺

    If you're in the area and aren't in a rush, I highly recommend stopping by Café Aquatica for a cuppa joe. Take it out onto the raised deck, plop yourself into an Adirondack chair and grab a moment of peace and tranquility before starting your day. It's such a great place to collect your thoughts, inhale some crisp, coastal air and refuel your soul.

    (PS dog lovers- Fido is welcome here, so bring him to enjoy the view as well.)


    3193 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95818.  (916) 475-1223.

    Mr. S. and I have a ritual that's been going for awhile now. Every other week after his haircut, we meet up at Vic's and get two coffees to-go, we then either walk around the Land Park neighborhood commenting on yards (we're always trying to get landscaping ideas for his yard) or head over to the WPA Rock Garden to chat and catch each other up on our days. It's a simple date but a nice one, a little downtime during the hectic week.

    Up until recently we would always meet at the Temple Coffee on S Street, but our visits there have been tapering off. Sure, we still go there if we're getting some morning joe to-go but we rarely stay there and hang out anymore. The patio is always too full, the coffee shop is bursting with people camping out with their laptops for HOURS on end and the newer staff members just aren't as friendly. The coffee is still quite delicious though. Vic's, on the other hand, is peaceful, has plenty of seating and the staff always seems glad to see a customer. Best of all, they serve the Temple coffee that I love. By the way, I can attest that their barista, George, makes a mean iced Americano (my current fav summertime drink). In addition to standard coffee drinks, they also serve Italian sodas, loose teas and scrumptious blended drinks with homemade whipped cream.

    If you're looking for some nibbles, this community coffee shop also offers a limited menu of breakfast burritos, salads, sandwiches and Old Soul Co. pastries. And of course- you can always pop into their wonderful, old-fashioned ice cream parlor next door afterwards to satiate your sweet tooth. Vic's is a terrific addition to the neighborhood. There's something for everyone. My only wish is that they would invest in some tables for outside. There's plastic patio chairs lined up in a row out there currently, but it's not a comfortable atmosphere for hanging out in and I love to chat while drinking my coffee. Inside though, they do have chairs, tables, booths, comfy couches...and the ever-essential Wi-Fi.