Can I cook yet?

We’ve finally pulled the trigger on our kitchen remodel! After so many years of dreaming, months of planning and hours of pinning ideas – the remodel is ON!


Tile countertop, painted cabinets with misaligned doors, exposed hinges, ancient ceramic cook top, no hood, no counter space, jammed drawers, tiny sink, and the worst of it all…disgusting and fugly linoleum floors. This old shoebox kitchen had it all!

FryKitchenRemodel IMG_9103

Demolition was the easiest and most rewarding part. When you love cooking and do it everyday in a kitchen you have very little love for, seeing it being hammered down piece by piece is orgasmic highly enjoyable!


This kitchen was the worst part of the Fry shack and even with all the family memories we’ve made in it I was so satisfied to see it just like this…totally naked!



I’m thankful for my awesome grill and great SoCal weather which it was perfect for the first 3 weeks of the remodel. We barbecued a lot and ate in the patio. Now that the weather has cooled down, the crockpot and toaster oven have been lifesavers!

We were hoping for our kitchen to be at least useable by Thanksgiving but it looks like we’ll have to barbecue the Turkey. Keeping our fingers crossed to be able to bake cookies for Santa in our new kitchen.

Put an apron on!

I love to cook but hate to clean up. I know a lot of people identify with this statement. And I’m not only talking about the amount of clean-up I do just to prepare the meal. I’m referring to all the cleaning involved with cooking, including the clean-up waiting for me as soon as everyone has left their seats and disappeared from sight.

Cooking is messy, and splashy, sticky, and gross at times. It takes a fair amount of space, tools, planning, patience and cleaning. But then there is the flip side. Chaos precedes creation. Somehow in all the mess making I create something good. Something tasty enough to make my kids go hmmmm and that makes up for all the clean-up I did or still have to do.

Yesterday’s Chaos

The creation

Summer and Pickled Radishes

Pickled Radishes

Summer is here! We don’t have big plans other than lots of beach time, gatherings with friends, and eating lots of summer dishes. The grill will be in full force and my new ice-cream maker is just one of the best things I could hope for this summer. So far we’ve made banilla and also strawberry ice cream. I can’t wait to unleash the not so ‘kid friendly’ flavors.

Our first and probably only summer project is this vegetable garden raised bed. No, I did not built it. I got it from my hubby and kids for my birthday. This one is made by Gronomics and hubby got it online at Crate&Barrel but there are many different elevated garden beds available online. Our green thumbs have been challenged and we’re waiting patiently for our eggplants, hot chili peppers, okra, kale, and mustard greens (still seedling.)

Vegetable Garden Raised Bed

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts and Instagrams of  pickled radishes. I’ve never made it before and I was just curious about all the hype.

I was planning to add them to tacos but after letting it rest for a day in the fridge I tried one, and another, and one more…and I’ve been snacking on them since them. It was love at first bite for sure, but let me tell you, it smells like fart every time I open that jar. But I don’t care. They are radishes after all.

These batch never made it to see a taco, but I added the pickled radishes to this horseradish mustard potato salad. They added a special sweet and sour crunchiness to it. So good!

Potato Salad with Pickled Radishes

And if you ever get to make these pickled radishes try them on top of smashed avocado toast or crackers. I’m hooked on these so bad!

Smashed avocado on Ritz cracker topped with pickled radishes

Happy summer to all!

Pickled Radishes
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 1 cup vinegar (I used ½ apple cider and ½ rice vinegar)
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey or granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 4 peppercorn smashed
  • 4-8 coriander seeds whole (optional)
  1. Thinly slice the radish bulbs and place them in a jar. In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, cold water, honey/sugar, sea salt, peppercorn, coriander seeds, and the garlic. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, and then remove from the heat.
  2. Pour the vinegar mix into the jar. Place the lid on the jar. Allow the radishes to sit until cool. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 10 days.


Saffron Pasta with Uni and Tobiko

Saffron Creme Fraiche sauce on spaghetti, Uni, frech tobiko, chili sauce

This dish was partially unplanned. A trip to the asian market for some furikake and next thing I know I’m bringing home fresh uni/sea urchin, flying fish roe/tobiko, persimmons and lots of green onions (they are consistently cheap at asian markets).

The best of spontaneous cooking like this is that dishes turn out pretty good most of the times. The worst part is that I can never replicate the flavors again. This Saffron uni pasta left us craving for more so I’ll try to document it as close as possible. This is how it went down:

  • Cooked 1/2 of a spaghetti package all dente with approximately 2 tbsp of sea salt in the water
  • While the pasta cooked I sauteed 2 cloves of garlic (minced) in 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • Added 1/4 of chicken broth
  • Dissolved 1 sachet of pure Spanish powdered saffran (0,0044oz. Yes a little Saffran goes a long way. If powder it’s not available substitute with 4 to 6 medium Saffran threads)
  • Added 2 to 3 tbsp of creme fraiche
  • Drained pasta directly from pot with tongs and placed on sauce mixing well
  • Divided pasta evenly into two bowls
  • Placed 4 to 5 cold uni filets on top of each batch
  • Topped with a dollop of creme fraiche in the middle, tobiko on top of creme, dollop of  Garlic Chili Sauce (Hu Fong) on top of tobiko
  • Enjoyed one of the best dishes I’ve ever made with a bottle of delicious Chablis (not bought at the asian market)

I must repeat it!

Waiting for Christmas

Nutella Hot Cocoa

We’re literally waiting for Christmas. All is ready. The Christmas tree, gifts, wrapping, spirits and, of course, the menu!

Tonight we tried Nutella hot cocoa for the first time. It’s so good!

  • 1 tbsp of Nutella for each 1/2 cup of 1% milk (You can always add more Nutella if not dark enough)
  • Heat it over the stove until the Nutella dissolves
  • Sip!
  • Reapeat!

Brazilian Style Stroganoff

Brazilian Style Stroganoff (Estrogonofe)

This originally Russian dish has adapted to the Brazilian ingredients and palate and it has become the traditional Brazilian ‘Estrogonofe’.

Although the Brazilian recipe calls for “Creme de Leite” (heavy Brazilian cream) and mushrooms, the recipe has also evolved in my kitchen over the years. My kids don’t like mushrooms and I prefer the lightness of Creme Fraiche over heavy cream.

The recipe can be made with a smaller amount of file mignon or chicken breast. Other less expensive cuts of beef can be substituted, but don’t choose a cut that requires a long cooking period to become tender.

Here are the steps:

  • 2 lb  filé mignon or other cut of lean beef, cut into thin 1-2 inch strips. Season the strips of meat with salt and pepper to taste. In a heavy frying pan add 1 Tbsp. of canola oil, and fry the meat until well-browned. Reserve the meat.
  • In the same pan, heat 1 Tbsp. oil, then add one large white onions chopped and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the onion is transparent but not browned. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook it for 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add 1/3 cup of ketchup and 1 cup of Creme Fraiche. Cook for five minutes in low heat to allow the flavors to mix.
  • Serve with white rice and top it with ‘mandatory’ shoestring potatoes (it adds a welcoming crunch to these creamy and hardy dish).
  • Best enjoyed with some Brazilian Bossa Nova music in the background and a bottle of Pinot Noir.

Bom apetite!

Quinoa salad

Quinoa Salad with mango and cilantro lime dressing

For the salad all you need is cooked quinoa (I usually follow the package directions and replace water for chicken broth) and whatever veggies and/or fruits you have available. The combination for the batch in the picture was grape tomatoes, mango, purple cabbage, purple onions and corn. I wish I’ve added avocados. It would’ve made this already good salad even better.

Here are the steps for the Cilantro lime dressing:

Dice or pure in the blender:

  • 1/2 cup cilantro (go up to 1 cup if you really love cilantro)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup (or honey)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cumin


Roasted Tomato Relish

Tomato relish

Slow roasted grape tomatoes with golden raisins and garlic makes for a great tomato relish to put on top of fresh mozzarella, salads and sandwiches. I ate it on top of sliced mozzarella, dressed with balsamic vinegar and fresh basil. It was so good! Next time, I’ll add the relish to cold pasta with some pesto sauce and fresh spinach for a light pasta salad. Here are the steps for the relish:

  • Pre-heat oven at 300F
  • Place tomatos (any kind goes) on a baking sheet
  • Coat with olive oil, salt, peppers and slices of garlic
  • Roast for 40 minutes (until the skin looks wrinkled like in the picture above)
  • Add golden or black raisins
  • Roasted for 10 more minutes
  • Cool off
  • Keeps in the refrigerator for one week
  • Enjoy it!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers Comfort


You can pretty much stuff bell peppers with anything. Add some ground beef or fresh sausage to your leftover rice, quinoa or even thanksgiving stuffing and you have the perfect filling for the peppers. These ones were stuffed with fresh chicken basil sausage, spinach and cheese. Here are the steps:

  • Wash and cut vertically  3 bell peppers, removing all the seeds and stems (I like to stuff the peppers by cutting them in half vertically and stuff each half but you can just cut the tops off and stuff the whole thing upright.
  • Preheat oven to 360F
  • Brown 3 medium fresh sausages of your choice (I used chicken basil from Sprouts) in a skillet with 1 medium onion and 2 medium roma tomatoes diced (you can substitute with ½ cup of tomato sauce of your choice)
  • Add 1 cup (or more) of cooked rice, or cooked quinoa, or cooked couscous to the sausage mixture. I used only sausage for the batch in the picture.
  • If you want the filling to be more compact you can add a beaten egg to the rice mixture before stuffing the peppers
  • Coat a baking pan with some olive oil (just enough to not let the peppers stick)
  • Place the stuffed peppers in the baking pan and top it with shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese
  • Cover pan with foil
  • Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes remove the foil for the last 10 minutes.
  • Eat
  • Repeat

Life gives you lemons? Make Tiramisu!

Lemon Raspberry Tiramisu with Greek Yogurt Topping

The lemon tree in our backyard was overly productive this summer. We had pretty much all sorts of lemon creations. Some good…some awful not so good. But the Lemon Raspberry Tiramisu was a big winner. I made a lemon cream filling from scratch, soaked the lady fingers in homemade raspberry lemon simple syrup and topped with greek yogurt mixed with sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. The creamy tanginess of the greek yogurt really  compliment the overall flavor and texture of the dessert.

Greek Yogurt Topping:

  • 8oz greek yogurt (I used Fage for this recipe)
  • Remove excess water if any
  • Mix in 1 tbsp of lemon juice+1tsp of vanilla extract
  • Add 1/8 cup of confection (substitute for 1/4cup of honey or agave syrup)