Open-Faced Swiss Burger with Flower Salad

Colorful Open-Faced Swiss Burger with Flower Salad and Blistered Tomatoes

Open-Faced Swiss Burger with Flower Salad and Blistered Tomatoes

The idea started out simply to serve my grilled burgers with less carbs and more greens…and yellows, reds, oranges, pinks, and purples. And while there is nothing particularly extraordinary about a hamburger with lettuce and tomato, who wouldn’t be delighted with this vibrant presentation?

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Eat Flowers, Be Happy (Edible Flower Salad)

Edible Flower Salad with Wild Strawberries and Grape Tomatoes

Edible Flower Salad
Wild Strawberries, Grape Tomatoes, Chrysanthemum Greens
Texas Tarragon, Borage, Marigold, Lemon Thyme, Chive Blossoms

In honor of the first days of summer and the unveiling of a new category to my website menu, I present this EDIBLE FLOWER salad. A trip to one of our best local Farmers Markets, plus a stop at my favorite Korean supermarket, and a bit of foraging in my own garden resulted in a one-of-a-kind salad that just screams summer. Every ingredient has a purpose in the flavor/texture/color profile.

Wild strawberries and sweet little grape tomatoes have a particularly delightful affinity for each other. Their red color contrasts with the exotic greens. Radish brings peppery flavors while roasted sunflower seeds add salty flavors – eliminating the need for additional salt and pepper. Kimjaban, crunchy roasted seaweed takes the place of croutons while adding sweet and salty notes.

Dressing is not tossed with the salad mix, so the flower petals look fresh-picked and the seaweed retains its crisp texture. The dressing consists of three distinct high-quality oils – fruity olive oil, toasted sesame oil, and fiery chili oil that are balanced by aged balsamic vinegar. Using chopsticks, diners can coat the salad ingredients with the oils and vinegar. And they just may want to reserve a bit of the syrupy balsamic vinegar to pair with that last wild strawberry for a grand finale.

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Summer Squash Lasagna with Fried Basil #glutenfree

Summer Squash Lasagna with Fried Basil #glutenfree

Summer Squash Lasagna with Fried Basil
Made with Gluten-Free Green Lentil Lasagna Noodles
Crookneck Squash, Zucchini
Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan

Marinara Sauce, Italian Sausage, Basil

My friends at Explore Cuisine make an extraordinary noodle for lasagna recipes. It is produced in Italy of green lentil flour (50%), green pea flour, and brown rice flour. These no-boil noodles soak up sauce to two-and-a-half times their size to a perfect al dente texture. They are full of plant-based pea protein, a lovely olive-green color, organic and gluten-free. They are also higher in fiber and lower in carbs than traditional lasagna noodles.

I bake these unique noodles with roasted summer squash for a delightful seasonal dish, then top the lasagna with fried basil for snazzy garnish with an herbal crunch.

Summer Squash Lasagna with Fried Basil Recipe

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An Ode To The Fish Taco

An Ode To The Fish Taco - Panko Crusted Halibut, Cabbage, Fennel, Carrot Slaw, Fresh herbs, Baja White Sauce, Tortilla Strips

An Ode To The Fish Taco

Panko Crusted Fresh Halibut
Cabbage-Fennel-Carrot-Radish-Pepitas Slaw
Key Lime Serrano Cumin Vinaigrette

Pickled Red Onion, Fresh Herbs, Baja White Sauce
Mexican Lime, Tortilla Strips

Dear Fish Taco – you are irresistible. Your flavors conjure up spicy memories of our saucy adventures in Ensenada. Fresh-caught fried fish, crisp shredded cabbage, salsa, white sauce and a squeeze of lime on a corn tortilla. A fish taco and a margarita are una pareja celestial. Baja California is the birthplace of the fish taco and home to Hussong’s Cantina, where they claim to have invented the margarita in 1941.

Fast forward a several decades since your “invention” where I reimagine your essence. This is perfectly crusted local halibut topped with a cabbage slaw studded with organic rainbow carrots, peppery radish matchsticks, fennel slivers, and pumpkin seeds.  A zippy Mexican lime vinaigrette with sliced serranos, cumin, and fresh thyme dresses the slaw. Corn tortillas are sliced thin and fried for the topping. And it wouldn’t be a Baja taco without your salsa blanca – so here, tangy Mexican crema combined with mayonnaise and minced garlic provides a creamy balance to the crispy golden-brown fillets.

Fish Taco – you have aged gracefully. You are fabuloso! But we will still always crave your youthful side. See you in Baja!

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Grilled Chicken Cutlets, Pickled Sweet Cherry Pepper Sauce

Grilled Chicken Cutlets, Pickled Sweet Cherry Pepper Sauce

Grilled Chicken Cutlets
Pickled Sweet Cherry Pepper Sauce

Grilled chicken breasts can be pretty boring, right? But here, a vivacious sweet cherry pepper sauce adds bright tangy flavor and a pop of color to simple chicken cutlets. Serve the smoky juicy chicken over mixed greens, and the sauce doubles as a dressing.

In fact, this sauce has so much personality that the chicken needs no marinade. Just coat the cutlets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then toss them on a hot grill. An efficient cook could have this fabulous low-carb dish prepped and plated in less than 15 minutes. Here’s to summer grilling season!

Pickled Sweet Cherry Pepper Sauce Recipe

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Southwest-Style Shakshuka with Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

Southwest-Style Shakshuka (Eggs Cooked in Spiced Tomato Sauce) Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

Southwest-Style Shakshuka (Eggs Cooked in Spiced Tomato Sauce) Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

Shakshuka, the breakfast/lunch dish that originated in Tunisia that’s wildly popular in Israel, is a perfect brunch item. It is easy to prepare in a single pan but takes a bit more time than weekday fried eggs and toast. The skillet doubles as the serving dish, and makes a terrific presentation on the buffet.

This now-global egg and tomato skillet dish has many incarnations – made with a myriad of ingredients such as sausage, feta, bell peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and a variety of herbs and spices depending on geography and the seasons.

Epazote in garden

Inspired by my garden overflowing with epazote, I decided to make shakshuka with a Southwestern influence. Epazote is often paired with beans for its natural carminative properties. The saw-toothed epazote leaves give the shakshuka a unique aroma and flavor. I have fallen in love with this herb and its intriguing bouquet which is strangely reminiscent of, if you can believe it, kerosene. Here, spicy tomato sauce is simmered with pinto beans and epazote, then topped with eggs. Once cooked, the whole thing is garnished with avocado slices, cilantro and scallions.

Smoky charred corn tortillas and sour cream

It can be served on its own or with smoky charred corn tortillas and sour cream.

Southwest-Style Shakshuka (Eggs Cooked in Spiced Tomato Sauce) Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

For the Memorial Day holiday, try this vegetarian shakshuka for brunch, and save the meat for a big barbecue later in the day.

Memorial Day

My Memorial Day

Every year at the end of May, it is our duty to honor those who have laid down their lives to defend our freedom and ensure our liberty. Simultaneously we celebrate Memorial Day weekend as the official start of the summer grilling season. So in addition to serving awesome grilled foods and refreshing drinks, we proudly display the American flag and observe a minute of silence at 3:00 PM to honor and remember those who have died in service to our nation. We turn on the television to watch the President lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and we listen with respect as a lone bugler plays the languid 24-note melancholy bugle call known as Taps.

“The solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”
Abraham Lincoln

“A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
John F. Kennedy

“Memorial Day is a day of ceremonies and speeches. Throughout America today, we honor the dead of our wars. We recall their valor and their sacrifices. We remember they gave their lives so that others might live.”
Ronald Reagan

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Earthy Intoxicating Flatbread Pizza – Mushroom, Walnut, Black Truffle Sauce

Earthy Flatbread Pizza - Mushroom, Walnut, Black Truffle Sauce

Earthy Intoxicating Flatbread Pizza
Mushroom, Walnut, Black Truffle Sauce
Mozzarella, Parmesan, Chives

“Our black truffle sauce is made of Black truffles (tuber aestivum), harvested in the beautiful Piemont region in Italy. Only best quality black truffles are hand selected by experts before confectioning in jars to be tasted all year long. To create this amazing sauce, we are using artisan methods as well as high quality raw materials.”

Black Truffle Sauce from my friends at Gourmet Attitude is made with mushroom, olive oil, truffle, carrot, onion, salt, aromatic herbs and spices, garlic, and walnuts. The addition of Black Truffle Sauce to a humble mushroom flatbread transforms it into an intoxicating slice of heaven.

The flatbread is heated just long enough for the cheeses to melt and the edges to get a little crispy allowing the Black Truffle Sauce to release its heady aromas and intensify the robust earthy flavors.

Black Truffle

Earthy Flatbread Pizza Recipe

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Refreshing Rice Noodle Salad, Ginger Lime Dressing

Refreshing Rice Noodle Salad, Lime Ginger Dressing

Refreshing Rice Noodle Salad

Thai Brown Rice Vermicelli, Butter Lettuce
Carrot, Cucumber, Red Bell Pepper, Serrano Chile, Fresh Herbs, Peanuts
Ginger Lime Dressing

Warmer weather is on its way and this salad is the perfect antidote for those sweltering days to come. It’s light, cool, fresh, refreshing, and zingy. The rice noodles come from my friends at Explore Cuisine – made in Thailand, organic, whole grain, gluten-free. Crisp strips of colorful vegetables, a fiery chile, and lots of rough chopped basil, cilantro, and mint are combined with roasted peanuts and a lively ginger lime dressing. This rice noodle salad is lightweight yet satisfying and it’s a wholesome recipe to help beat that heat.

Refreshing Rice Noodle Salad Recipe

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Super Tasty Green Soup with Spinach, Zucchini, Potato

Green Soup - Spinach, Zucchini, Potato with Pine Nuts, Crema, Chili Oil

Green Velvet Soup
Spinach, Zucchini, Potato with Herbs & Spices
Toasted Pine Nuts, Crema, Chili Oil Garnish

It’s a soup with a luxurious deep green color and velvety texture. Spinach, zucchini, and potatoes are the base for this satisfying and healthful potage. A zippy garnish makes it anything but boring.

Fresh cilantro and toasted dried spices give this green soup a wonderful depth of flavor. Dried cumin seed, coriander seed, and fennel seed are added at the beginning of the cooking process to unlock their intense flavors. Fresh cilantro is added at the end of the process to preserve its essence and verdant aromas.

Where the chili oil adds a fiery touch, the Mexican crema add a cool richness. Unlike a “cream” soup, there is less than a tablespoon of cream per serving. Pine nuts add texture and that toasty note, which is mirrored in the toasted spices.

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Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

I wish there were a national contest for the most outstanding Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. I’m certain that the parents of students at Rolling Hills Country Day School would come in first place. Every. Year.

Going way beyond creative, in the past 5 years these parents have turned an ordinary auditorium into mysterious colorful Morocco, a charming Farmers Market, an all-star Ballpark, a clever Eco-Friendly environment, and a delightful Asian restaurant …

And now – into a National Park!

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service turns 100! The Centennial will celebrate the achievements of the past 100 years and kick off a second century of stewardship for America’s national parks and for communities across the nation.

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

Camp Rolling Hills Country Day

“Please join us for a woodsy afternoon luncheon at RHCDS National Park in honor of our Teachers & Staff and the 100th year celebration of U.S. National Parks.

So grab your hiking boots and camping gear as we adventure and explore the beauty of the great outdoors.

We’ll gather around the campfire for stories and s’mores.”

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

Wearing our nifty new Outdoor Adventure T-Shirts, we arrive at the “national park” to find a fabulous Glamping-Style Buffet, and upon further exploration we find that our campsite features S’mores Around a “Live” Campfire, a General Store where we can take our cool new backpacks to fill with all the supplies we’ll need on our adventures.

These include a picnic blanket, canteen, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, lip balm – all embossed with the Camp RHCDS logo. Also included  – a neat little Pelican LED flashlight. Thanks to the generous parents, we’re equipped and ready to enjoy the great outdoors now and all summer long.

To ward off hunger along the trails, we are supplied a red bandana which contains a s’mores kit. Plus, we visit the Happy Trails booth to customize trail mix for the hike, choosing from a wide assortment of dried fruits and nuts and seeds. And finally we visit the Bear Country Bakery booth for bear claw brownies, muffins, and cookies plus hot coffee for energy. We definitely won’t go hungry on this trip.

Come, take a hike with us and check it out!

Maybe we’ll even spot a bear???

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