De Ma Cuisine



October 2014



Vegetarian Soft Tacos

Written by , Posted in Beans, Cheese, Dinner, Fruit, Kid-Friendly, Legumes, Lunch, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Vegetables, Vegetarian


Even though I’m tired of the heat we’re still experiencing, I’m hanging on as long as I can to the summer veggies. Specifically summer squash.

I’m fine that the apples are here. I’m glad that we’ve got grapes. But, I don’t want the cute little squash to go bye bye.


So I’m using them as often as I can. Savoring each squashy bite.


I feel like squash kinda goes with everything. I like to add it to eggs, wrap it with pie crust, and slice it thin for pizza.

Oh my squash it’s good.

See what I did there?



Squash, shallots, radishes, and a chile pepper are added to some hot oil.

This isn’t going to take long.


Next come the beans and seasonings.

I love beans in tacos and enchiladas. Meat is great too, but we eat a lot of vegetarian meals, just because we do, so often things like beans, quinoa, and eggs are our forms of protein. That being said, this would taste great with some ground beef. The main reason I didn’t use any: I didn’t have any.

I used pinto beans. They’re my favorite for tacos and enchiladas. But, kidney, black, or garbonzos would also work. They will change the taste of the dish a bit, but no big deal.


Almost before the lettuce is washed, tomatoes are chopped, and cheese is grated, the bean and veggie mixture is done. This is a seriously quick meal.


Everything gets piled onto half of the tortilla (whole grain for me, white for Tim), then the unadorned half gets folded over.

You could totally fry up some tortillas and make hard shell tacos. Corn tortillas work great for this. But, for a super quick meal, I like ‘em soft.


I usually bring the salsa and yogurt with me so I can add more while I eat. I like my tacos messy.

Happy Eating!

Vegetarian Soft Tacos

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 9 minutes

Total Time: 14 minutes

Vegetarian Soft Tacos


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 radish (or carrot, or both), grated
  • 1 small summer squash, grated (or bell pepper, chopped, or both)
  • 1 hot chile pepper, ribs and seeds removed (unless you'd like more spice), diced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/4 C corn
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 t paprika
  • to taste salt
  • to taste pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/2 C pinto beans
  • 2 tortillas
  • cheese, grated
  • lettuce, shredded
  • tomato, chopped
  • Greek yogurt
  • salsa


  1. Heat a skillet and add oil. When oil is hot, add radish through shallot. Cook over medium-low heat for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add garlic through beans. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  3. Divide the bean mixture between the tortillas and place on half of each one. Top it with cheese through salsa. Fold the un-topped half of the tortilla over the toppings.
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October 2014



End of the Week Pasta

Written by , Posted in Dairy-Free, Dinner, Eggs, Fruit, Herbs, Lunch, Main Dishes, Pasta, Quick and Easy, Vegetables, Vegetarian


It’s nearing the end of the week. And the cupboards are a little bare, the pantry is kinda empty, the produce drawers are filled with distant memories (and a few stray veggies).

Sound familiar?

Maybe this only happens at our house.

In any case, I’ve learned to be clever with those final few ingredients before the crisper drawers are re-stocked. Usually, this involves some sort of pasta. Fresh pasta, dried pasta, leftover pasta… just pasta. (Of course you could also use wild rice, quinoa, lentils, or potatoes. They’d all be fabulous!)

The additions change every time though.

Sometimes it’s tuna and peas. It could be artichokes, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Today, it was zucchini, bell pepper, and tomatoes.


It starts with some oil. For this particular recipe it was olive oil. Butter is also great with pasta. Coconut oil could also work, but make sure you’re ok with a hint of coconut if you go that route.


Then, you know the drill… some of the veggies are added to the hot oil. They cook for a few minutes with some salt and pepper.



Then things like kale and garlic are added. Kale wilts, garlic smells amazing.

You could use other greens, like chard, mizuna, mustard greens, spinach, or collard greens.

You could add tons more garlic, or use none at all.

I prefer the tons route.


Pasta is cooked and added. I had some leftovers that I’d frozen, then defrosted in the fridge overnight. Worked just fine. If you’re cooking fresh, reserve a bit of the starchy cooking water to add to the veggies. Helps the sauce to stick to the pasta, but isn’t essential.


Serve yourself a huge bowlful. Green goodness all around!


While the pasta hangs out for a minute, fry an egg in the veggie pan. One egg per person. Unless you want two.

Salt the eggs when they’re hot.


Then slide them onto the pasta. The yolk, if it’s still a bit runny, will add to the sauce.

End of the week fridge situation isn’t so bad after all.

Happy Eating!

End of the Week Pasta
Recipe type: Main, Pasta, Vegetarian, Vegetables, Quick and Easy
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • pasta, cooked
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C zucchini/summer squash, chopped (or carrots or radishes, grated)
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped (or broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, celery, or peas)
  • to taste salt
  • to taste pepper
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C kale (chard, spinach, or mizuna would also be great), chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1-2 to 1 C pasta water (optional)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 egg/person
  • to taste salt
  • handful fresh herbs (basil, parsley), chopped, for topping
  1. Cook pasta, reserving ½ to 1 C pasta water.
  2. Heat skillet. Add olive oil. Add zucchini, bell pepper, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add garlic, kale, and tomatoes. Cook for about 3 minutes more, stirring often.
  4. Add pasta water, if using. Remove from heat, stir in pasta. Pour pasta in a bowl and keep warm.
  5. Add remaining olive oil to skillet. Add egg and cook to desired doneness. Sprinkle with salt.
  6. Divide pasta between bowls. Top each bowl with an egg. Top egg and pasta with fresh herbs.




October 2014



Eight Years

Written by , Posted in Thoughts


Once upon a time, there was a Canadian girl, and an American boy. They met at a wedding (her cousin, his friend) and shortly thereafter fell in love. A year and a half later, it was a week before their wedding. Family and friends had come from all over the world to celebrate…


Can you tell by my expression how nervous but mostly excited I am? I couldn’t wait to marry Tim. Also, my dad is the cutest. And, those flowers were so heavy! I didn’t think about that when I asked for such a big bouquet of roses. I still have them. They’re dried and a bunch have fallen off, but it’s still my wedding bouquet. (Photo credit Shinn Photography.)


My good friend Kelly flew in from Texas to officiate the ceremony. Before he started speaking, he pulled out his cell phone to take a photo of us. (Photo credit Shinn Photography.)



I love this photo. It’s one of my favorites from the day. (Photo credit Shinn Photography.)



We celebrated our first anniversary back at the central coast (where we’d spent part of our honeymoon). We’re going back again this year. It’s one of my favorite places.


Same thing the second year. We’re not necessarily beach people, but this little town has a special place in our hearts. I grew up coming here with my family, so it’s extra special to get to come back with my husband.

Year three has a photo, but the resolution is so bad that you wouldn’t be able to see our faces. Sad.

Our fourth anniversary was celebrated quietly, with a little country getaway. A week after that, Tim got a new job in L.A., so we couldn’t make it back to the coast.


This wasn’t technically on our anniversary, but it’s as close as we’ve got (it was Thanksgiving, so about 5 weeks later). That year was our first full year in L.A. and I cooked us a nice dinner, but didn’t go out anywhere to celebrate. (Photo credit Shannon Oberg.)


For our sixth, we went to The Melting Pot. Oh boy was that yummy. And, we didn’t have to cook or do the dishes!


And then, my favorite of all the anniversaries… Paris. Last year. The best trip ever. I wish I could transport us back there again, to our little flat, with fresh baguettes and pain au chocolate every day… I’ve been thinking about Paris a lot lately. I’m missing it more than I miss most things.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year.




This picture brings tears to my eyes just about every time I see it. I love the way he’s looking at me. It makes me feel so loved.


This was taken over the summer at our family reunion. But, it’s close enough.

Eight years. They’ve gone by in the blink of an eye… yet it feels like a lot has happened. It’s been wonderful, amazing, difficult, a lot of work, the best thing ever. You don’t have to be married to be blessed. You don’t have to be wealthy or wise or beautiful. But, since I am married, I feel that I’ve been richly blessed to be married to Tim. And there’s seriously no one person that I like better, no human that I’d rather be around, nobody that I’d rather spend my days with than him.



October 2014



How to Create the Perfect Pasta Dish

Written by , Posted in How To, Menu Planning, Pasta, Storage/Prep


Joy to the… pasta.

I’m practicing Christmas songs for a concert in December. Mostly I have a really high screechy “eeee”  sound in my head. Along with a medley of the other seven or eight songs that we’re going to be singing.

So far the dog has yet to look at me with that alert, head tilted, ears perked up look… So far.

And then there was pasta. What I meant to tell you about, but Christmas is bouncing around my brain instead. Also banana bread. Because that’s what I’m eating.

Are you still there?

For the three of you still reading, what I really want to talk about is what I want for Christmas pasta and how to successfully make a great pasta dish.

You’re thinking that it doesn’t take much. Right? Ok, maybe it doesn’t take much to make a pasta dish. But, let’s talk about making it a fabulous dish. Also, Erh mah gawsh! I just finished my last bite of banana bread that was topped with some salted butter and I’m having a hard time not just shoving the entire loaf into my face.

I digress.

You can start with any category and build from there. Maybe you’ve got some ground beef and tomatoes that you want to use. From there, you can add some other veggies, figure out the sauce, and choose the best noodles. You might have some jars of Tomato Sauce in the freezer and need to make space for something else. Then you’ll figure out maybe some chicken, zucchini, parmesan, and wide, flat noodles to go with it. Or, you might just be craving pasta. Any kind of pasta. Elbow macaroni sounds good, and you could add heaps of cheese to a bechamel.

I usually start with what’s going in to the pasta. The veggies and if there’s meat, that too. Then I figure out the sauce, the noodles, and then the toppings. I use The Flavor Bible all the time. It’s a great helper for figuring out what foods pair well together. But, if you don’t have this book, listen to your taste buds. Think about foods that you enjoy eating together.

Here are some suggestions for how to put your perfect pasta dish together:


The Additions

1. Broccoli + Cauliflower + Garlic + Thyme

2. Carrots + Spinach + Chicken

3. Pumpkin

4. Tomatoes + Zucchini + Onions + Mozzarella + Ricotta + Chicken

5. Eggplant + Garlic + Onion + Thyme + Red Pepper Flakes

6. Dried Tomatoes + Bell Peppers + Garlic

7. Ground Beef + Onions + Garlic + Celery + Capers

8. Beets + Parmesan + Shallots + Garlic

9. Radish + Cabbage + Kale + Meatballs

10. Roasted Fennel + Salmon + Garlic + Zucchini

11. Lentils + Carrots + Celery + Bacon


The Sauce

1. Broccoli + Cauliflower + Garlic + Thyme + Brown Butter Sauce + Salt + Pepper

2. Carrots + Spinach + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Cream Sauce

3. Pumpkin + Salt + Pepper + Cheddar + Parmesan + All Spice + Red Pepper Flakes

4. Tomatoes + Zucchini + Onions + Mozzarella + Ricotta + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Pesto

5. Eggplant + Garlic + Onion + Thyme + Red Pepper Flakes + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil

6. Dried Tomatoes + Bell Peppers + Garlic + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + Lemon Juice + Balsamic Vinegar

7. Ground Beef + Onions + Garlic + Celery + Capers + Butter Sauce + Salt + Pepper

8. Beets + Parmesan + Shallots + Garlic + Balsamic Vinegar + Salt + Pepper

9. Radish + Cabbage + Kale + Meatballs + Tomato Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Italian Seasonings

10. Roasted Fennel + Salmon + Garlic + Zucchini + Cream Sauce + Salt + Pepper

11. Lentils + Carrots + Celery + Bacon + Salt + Pepper + Tomato Sauce


The Noodles

1. Broccoli + Cauliflower + Garlic + Thyme + Brown Butter + Salt + Pepper + Linguini

2. Carrots + Spinach + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Cream Sauce + Penne + Parsley + Dill + Fusilli

3. Pumpkin + Salt + Pepper + Cheddar + Parmesan + All Spice + Red Pepper Flakes + Elbow Macaroni

4. Tomatoes + Zucchini + Onions + Mozzarella + Ricotta + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Pesto + Lasagna

5. Eggplant + Garlic + Onion + Thyme + Red Pepper Flakes + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + Egg Noodles

6. Dried Tomatoes + Bell Peppers + Garlic + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + Lemon Juice + Balsamic Vinegar + Orzo

7. Ground Beef + Onions + Garlic + Celery + Capers + Butter Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Ziti

8. Beets + Parmesan + Shallots + Garlic + Balsamic Vinegar + Salt + Pepper + Penne

9. Radish + Cabbage + Kale + Meatballs + Tomato Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Italian Seasonings + Spaghetti

10. Roasted Fennel + Salmon + Garlic + Zucchini + Cream Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Farfalle

11. Lentils + Carrots + Celery + Bacon + Salt + Pepper + Tomato Sauce + Orecchiette


The Toppings

1. Broccoli + Cauliflower + Garlic + Thyme + Brown Butter + Salt + Pepper + Linguini + Gruyère = Winter Veggie Linguini with Brown Butter

2. Carrots + Spinach + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Cream Sauce + Penne + Parsley + Dill + Basil = Baked Fusilli with Carrots and Spinach in a Creamy Sauce

3. Pumpkin + Salt + Pepper + Cheddar + Parmesan + All Spice + Red Pepper Flakes + Elbow Macaroni + Homemade Croutons + Caramelized Onions + Parmesan + Bacon = Pumpkin Pasta

4. Tomatoes + Zucchini + Onions + Mozzarella + Ricotta + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Pesto + Lasagna + Fresh Basil + Parmesan Cheese = Presto Pesto Lasagna

5. Eggplant + Garlic + Onion + Thyme + Red Pepper Flakes + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + Egg Noodles + Basil + Lemon = Melanzane with Pasta

6. Dried Tomatoes + Bell Peppers + Garlic + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + Lemon Juice + Balsamic Vinegar + Orzo + Parmesan = Orzo with Dried Tomatoes and Garlic

7. Ground Beef + Onions + Garlic + Celery + Capers + Butter Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Ziti + Fresh Tomatoes = Beef and Capers Stuffed Ziti

8. Beets + Parmesan + Shallots + Garlic + Balsamic Vinegar + Salt + Pepper + Penne + Parmesan + Lemon = Beet and Parmesan Penne

9. Radish + Cabbage + Kale + Meatballs + Tomato Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Italian Seasonings + Spaghetti + Parmesan + Basil = Spaghetti and Meatballs

10. Roasted Fennel + Salmon + Garlic + Zucchini + Cream Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Farfalle + Lemon + Chives + Parsley = Farfalle with Roasted Fennel and Salmon

11. Lentils + Carrots + Celery + Bacon + Salt + Pepper + Tomato Sauce + Orecchiette + Parsley + Fresh Tomatoes = Orcchiette with Lentils and Bacon

The Banana Bread

Right, I’m still thinking about banana bread. I think I’ll go get another slice, and then make Mac and Cheese for dinner… Except that we’re out of cheese. Wah wah.

Happy Eating!



October 2014



Grape Toasts

Written by , Posted in Appetizers, Baking, Bread, Cheese, Fruit, Kid-Friendly, Lunch, Quick and Easy, Sandwiches, Sides, Snacks, Toasting, Vegetables, Vegetarian

One of my all time favorite snacks is crackers and cheese with grapes. When I used to teach aerobics many years ago, I’d come home starving, and would eat like it had been a really long time since I’d last eaten (when in fact it had probably just been a few hours).

Back then, I wasn’t eating seasonally. I didn’t realize that grapes were a late summer/early fall fruit. I didn’t know, guys. I mean, the grocery stores have almost everything available year round. I didn’t really question where things were coming from or if it was beneficial to be eating things that were coming from so far away. I didn’t realize that they were often so flavorless because they were picked green and transported to us, so we could have oranges in June and peaches in December.

That’s just the way it was.

No longer.

At least, not for us, if we can help it.

I love that we’re eating with the seasons. Some say it’s better for your health, some say it doesn’t matter. Whatever. I’m not going to argue with them. Potential health benefits aside, I love that by buying things that are in season, we’re supporting our local/California farmers. We’re also doing the environment a favor by not buying foods that are shipped from ridiculously far away, whenever possible. We’re just two of us here in our little home, but we’re trying to do our part.

This means we wait all year for things like grapes.

It’s worth it.


These sweet fall treats are sliced in half, seeds removed.


A baguette is sliced about 1/2″ thick.

I would always prefer homemade. But, I don’t have any right now. They’re a bit of a process, so I don’t make them as often as I wish I would. Every time I do I decide that I’m never going to buy a baguette again (unless we’re back in Paris, obviously). Then we run out and the cycle starts over.

I digress.


Bari’s olive oil is second to none. This goodness gets drizzled on the baguette.


So many good things come from a sentence that begins with, “cheese is grated”. Cheddar or monterey jack would be great. Gruyère would be awesome. Havarti would be divine. Use whatever cheese is your favorite, even if it’s not one of my suggestions.



A generous plomp of the cheese is placed on the grapes. And then it’s sprinkled with a bit of cayenne.


I’ve used the broiler at our new house now twice. I’m a little bit scared of it. No one knows why. I think it’s that it gets so very hot and can burn things when they’re forgotten about for just a minute. Thankfully, the stove has one of those broiler drawers that pulls out, so I don’t have to lay on the floor to check on the foods. Makes it much less scary.


I love the little crispy cheese crumbles that get stuck to the pan. I don’t usually share those.


Last step is to drizzle each toast with a bit of honey.


A little sweet, savory, kick of spicy treat. Perfect for right now.

Happy Eating!

Grape Toasts
Recipe type: Appetizer, Snack, Fruit, Cheese
Serves: 2
  • 6 slices baguette, about ½" thick
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 9-12 grapes, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • to taste salt
  • ¼ C cheddar or monterey jack cheese
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 t honey
  1. Drizzle bread with oil. Top with grapes, a sprinkle of salt, cheese, and a sprinkle of cayenne.
  2. Broil for about 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  3. Serve drizzled with honey.