Category Archives: eat & drink

Braised Pork Ragu with Pappardelle

Last week I stumbled across this beyond awesome (and super simple) recipe thanks to a friend’s Facebook post.  It was so good, I thought I needed to share it here as well.

This was beyond simple to make in the crockpot (I think I did about 2.5 hours on high and about 2 hours on low – it was done when it was fall apart tender).  It made enough that we had leftovers for sandwiches AND froze some to enjoy later.

I was able to pick up all of the ingredients during my standard, Wednesday Henry’s Market and fresh veggies run (well, all except the pappardelle – so I subbed in rigatoni).  I didn’t feel like buying fresh herbs and didn’t have any in the garden (yet!) so I just used dried herbs instead.  I also think that a little tomato paste might be a flavorful addition.

A key thing to keep in mind here…use a wine that you enjoy drinking.  We were running a little low on un-corked red wines (don’t ask) so I just used the first red that hadn’t gone bad (took me three bottles to find one).  I think if I had used a more full-bodied red, it would have tasted that much better.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Bon Appetit!!

2 to 2 1/2-pound boneless pork shoulder roast
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small pat butter
1 large can whole tomatoes, with juice
1 cup red wine
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh oregano
Small handful of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon hot sauce, for smokiness (I used Chalupa since that’s what I had on hand – didn’t do much for me)
Pappardelle (or rigatoni)
Freshly grated Parmesean

Preheat oven to 325°F. Liberally salt and pepper the pork roast. Add olive oil and butter to large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high until butter melts, but does not burn. Add pork roast to pan and brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes in all. Add tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, and put in oven.

Braise for 3-4 hours, turning every hour or so. Add more liquid (water, wine, or tomato sauce) if needed. (The liquid should come to about 1/3 of the way up the pork.) Meat is done when it’s practically falling apart. Put on a cutting board and pull it apart with two forks, then add back to pot and stir. Cook 1 to 2 pounds pasta according to package directions. When it’s is ready, put into individual bowls and top with ragu and lots of Parm.

When you decide to make this, let me know what you think.  And of course, be sure to let the folks at Dinner: A Love Story know as well.

ChickChat LA: There’s a New Women’s Networking Group in Town

click image to enlarge for more information

Ladies, there’s a new networking group in town for professional, savvy women and I’m honored to be a part of their “Let Them Eat Cake” ChickChat LA launch party on Wednesday, February 23rd.

It’s sure to be a decadent, French-themed soiree. And instead of feeling guilty for letting those New Year resolutions fall to the wayside, we’ll all be toasting the remainder of the year with wine, martinis, champagne, and of course…cake.

And because they believe that a woman can have her cake and eat it too, you’ll have the opportunity to Speed Network with Coaches (like avec moi!) who will help you create a plan for moving forward with your goals in 2011…or maybe they’ll help you find some better and more exciting goals 😉

Included in your ($40 door) ticket price are:

  • Wine Tasting
  • Moet Hennessy Champagne
  • French Martinis, sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  • Dry Soda
  • And of course…French nibbles

A portion of the proceeds from the evening will benefit Dress For Success. And anyone who brings a business/work appropriate belt to donate to Dress For Success will be entered into a raffle to win a Zune MP3 Player.

For more information About ChickChat LA and the Let Them Eat Cake launch party, click here.

Hope to see you there!!

Soup is On at Soup-a-Palooza!


I first heard about Soup-a-Palooza about a week ago.  Since then, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the time to share my own recipe.  One of my very simple, right out of the pantry, go to soups.

I discovered this recipe back in about 2004 or so when I first stumbled upon Karen Duffy’s (of MTV|Reality Bites|Dumb & Dumber fame) A Slob in the Kitchen cookbook at Book Soup while waiting on my husband after work one day.  Since then, I have made a version of her White Bean and Pesto soup many, many times.

And please, keep in mind that I am  in no way, shape or form a food or recipe blogger.  So there’s no fancy photo to accompany this recipe.  Which makes sense as it’s really too simple to even worry about anything else.

Karen Duffy’s White Bean and Pesto Soup

2 cups chicken broth or stock
2 19-ounce  cans of white beans (drained & rinsed)
2 tablespoons pesto sauce
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the white beans and simmer for about 2 minutes, then stir in the pesto.  Once you’ve plated the soup, top with grated parmesan cheese.

That’s it.  Super simple.  If you keep frozen cubes or a tube of pesto on hand, you’ll be able to put this soup together in under 5 minutes.  Serve with a crusty bread and a side salad and you’re good to go.

One word of advice…do NOT add any extra salt.  Depending on the pesto and the broth, this soup can sometimes get a little too salty.

For access to more soup recipes, I invite you to Come join Soup-a-Palooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s Beans, Hip Hostess, Pillsbury and Westminster Crackers and share your favorite soup recipe.  You never know, you could win some fun prizes.

It’s National Coffee Day!!!

While I’m not an addict by any means, I do enjoy a good cup of coffee.  Even better when I’m able to toast to a fun national holiday like National Coffee Day.

In the spirit of this fantastic national holiday, many local and national coffee shops are giving away free and selling discounted coffee. Participating Dunkin Donuts are offering a free cup of coffee and they’re donating a portion of their sales to Special Olympics.

While I hear great things about Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, sadly, we don’t have any here in the greater LA area, so I opted to celebrate by enjoying an iced coffee at my local McDonald’s (no, it wasn’t free, but it was yummy!)

For more coffee antics, check out the Facebook event dedicated to the day.  And if you can’t make it out in this heat for a cup of joe, try brewing your own cold-brewed iced coffee – it takes a good 24 hours for great brew, but so very worth it!

What’s your favorite thing about coffee?

Summer is Right for Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

In the winter (or what passes for winter here in LA) I can’t get enough of tea.  Strangely enough though, once the warmer temperatures hit, I turn to iced coffee.  And while iced coffee may well be one of the least expensive things on your local coffee shop’s menu, it’s super easy to make at home. So easy, you’ll be rolling in the dough with all the money you’ll be saving this summer.

The key is to make sure you use good coffee (says the girl that’s just using whatever she has lying about).  I’ve noticed that when I don’t use good coffee, it can be a tad more bitter (think: Starbucks). The cool thing though, you can easily adjust the strength and the flavor – see my modifications below.

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

Swiped from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from The New York Times

Yield: Two drinks

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
Milk (optional)

1. In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.

2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

My Modifications:

  • I typically make double or triple batches so I have a jug ready to go whenever the mood strikes in the fridge.  Consider yourself warned, I think this results in a much stronger blend so either add more water or milk. But it’s already chilled and doesn’t require ice.
  • I don’t measure the water, I just eyeball it.  I like mine with lots of milk, so I probably add more milk than the average person – so I use less water.
  • I like to sweeten the entire jug (at least lightly), so it’s totally ready to go.
  • I strain my concentrate just using a coffee filter.  It takes a bit longer (it’s one of those single cup brew cones), but it works just fine.
  • I’ve found that using a wide mouth jar (right now, a recycled quart canning jar) makes cleaning up after the sludge of leftover grinds MUCH easier (especially compared to the glass juice carafe that I used last year).
  • Using either flavored syrups like Torani or flavored creamer makes for a lovely, decadent coffee.
  • I tend to let my sludge concentrate do it’s magic overnight – though to be honest, I’ve never timed it.


And if you want something yummy to eat along with your high octane iced coffee might I suggest Blueberry Boy Bait (again from the Smitten Kitchen site).

Mark Bittman’s TED Talk: What’s Wrong With What We Eat

I have a love/hate relationship with Mark Bittman.  I think he’s a cool enough guy.  I enjoy reading his blog in the NY Times.  I use his How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food cookbook when I need quickie steps on how to cook something correctly (like tonight’s tomorrow’s zucchini).

But sometimes he just rubs me the wrong way (as he often did during the PBS On the Road Again-Spain…A Culinary Road Trip).  Or how the basics he might keep in his kitchen are totally and completely different than what many of us normal folks might keep in our kitchens (as illustrated here in this ’07 article, Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less).

That said…

This is another great TED Talk about everything that’s wrong with what we eat.

And let me just say, as a plus-sized, overweight adult (who has dieted for as long as I can remember), I completely agree that we have to change the way we eat and weight loss surgery isn’t the answer.*

* I’m going on at least 2 weeks without soda and nearly a month without any artificial sweeteners.  Yay!

Hanging Out at the Game With the Gang From Carls Jr.


I haven’t been to a hockey game in a long, long, long time – no really, last game I went to, I was still living in Atlanta.  So when I was asked if I wanted to watch the game from the Carl’s Jr suite this past Saturday night, you just know I had to say yes! So I called up one of my friends (and a HUGE hockey fan) and asked if she’d be up for watching the game from the suite.

Hello…we got to hang out with the Carl’s Jr. Star!


I cropped this photo, but just to the left, in the next suite over, you should see all the pointing and funny looks we were all getting from wearing our Slankets and hanging out with a giant, walking star.  And we all had to pose with our good friend…in our Slankets.  Now I have been lucky enough to hang out with Mr. Star twice now.


In the end, it turns out my friend would have more than likely been watching the game from another suite that night anyway, but we of course, had a MUCH better time. in our suite  And we got some fun swag.

Of course, since I left my sickly husband back at home, I made sure to pick up a coupon or two for him.  What can I say, I’m that kind of wife…you know, the kind that didn’t even think to invite him along. 😉


It might have been very boring game (and it was), but we had one helluva good time laughing and having fun.  Thanks to everyone at Carl’s Jr.

Jamie Oliver at TED: Teach Every Child About Food

A friend shared this on Facebook, and I took a moment to site down and watch it.

It’s taken a while, but it’s all finally starting to sink in.  I’ve been working on getting off of artificial sweeteners myself.  I”m to the point that I’m not adding it to my tea and coffee, but it still might be in my diet (non-soda) drink of choice.  It’s been about two weeks now and I have to say, I really do notice a difference.  I’m not craving sweet things nearly as much.

I’ve also spent the last week avoiding soda of any sort, diet or regular.  Baby steps.

Next up…saying no to fast food.

And let me just say…wow, those kids couldn’t even recognize basic, every day, common vegetables. That’s just insane!  And very, very scary.

A Day of Volunteering: Pinot Days

I should probably start out with stating the obvious….I love wine.

That said, pinot noir would have to be one of my least favorite wines.  But I was looking for some volunteering opportunities.  Oh and there was free wine for the volunteers.  And well, free wine is good wine in my book.  So volunteer I did.

It was being held at the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica airport.  Which was an interesting venue.  There were over 100 wineries there, a few cheese vendors and some miscellaneous wine-related vendors.  Immediately walking inside the hanger and you’re over-powered overwhelmed with the hum of all the voices bouncing all around the metallic hanger.

My volunteer shift was one of the later shifts (3:00 – 5:30) which meant there wasn’t all that much for me to do up at the front table.  Not many people were arriving the last two hours of the event.  But I did get to see plenty of really, really drunk people leaving.  And that alone was worth the volunteering experience.

I did take a super quick taste before I checked out. I mean I had to, it was wine 😉

I’ll definitely sign up to volunteer again next year (though I’d love to have an earlier shift with a bit more responsibility).  And if you like pinot, you might want to check it out.