Follow That Chef – Cat Braithwaite

I’m so excited to share a fellow home-chef with you today! Meet Cat Braithwaite! Doesn’t she have the greatest smile?
Cat Braithwaite

Cat was our hostess for “Follow That Chef” at The Santa Monica Farmers Market with The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I LOVE doing these events! This is a great concept from Gourmandise! They offer the opportunity to follow Chefs, Cookbook Authors, and other Fun Foodie People around the Farmers Market and then return to the school for a demo and tasting!

Here we are wandering the Market on Wednesday:
At the Market
Market Veggies
Choosing seafood!

Cat’s menu for us consisted of a variety of different things, including mussels, salmon, avocados and a lot of fresh vegetables! She had fun showing us different ways to use spring roll wrappers, plus she deep-fried mushrooms for us. How can you not love that?
Food prep
Veggie Rolls
Demo Time!
Cat Cooking
Sliders w/fried mushrooms

Cat has a cookbook called “Farmers Market Frugal” that shows you how to eat fresh food on a budget. She gives you four weeks of recipes and some great tips and tricks on eating healthy.
Cat's Cookbook

We thoroughly enjoyed our morning with Cat. She works right there at The Market at Santa Monica Place, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing her often! Thanks Cat!! You did a great job!

To see all the pictures of our time with Cat, check out my Facebook Page Album titled “FTC-Cat Braithwaite”


Asparagus Wraps with Limoncello!

I can’t believe I haven’t shared these delicious asparagus wraps! About a year ago, I ran across this recipe and have made them several times. It’s the one thing my daughter requested for Thanksgiving this year.

Asparagus wraps

A simple and elegant appetizer, these wraps are made with cream cheese, Limoncello and store-bought wonton wrappers. Not only are they delicious, they are easy to make and the fresh flavor is just incredible! Every time I make them, they disappeared very quickly!

Asparagus Wraps

Spring is coming, which means asparagus will soon be in season. I can’t wait to make these for Easter Brunch. Maybe if I’m lucky, someone will make them for Mothers Day too. 😉

Limoncello Asparagus Spears
From Zestuous

4 ozs. (half block) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 T. limoncello
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 egg, beaten
1 bunch asparagus
1 package wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silpat pad.

In a small bowl whisk the softened cream cheese and limoncello together until smooth.

In another bowl, mix the lemon zest and kosher salt together.

Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus.

Working with one wrapper at a time, spread a little limoncello cream on the center of the wrapper, avoiding the edges.

Lay an asparagus spear (or two or three, depending on how thick the spears are) on the top edge of the wrapper.

Roll the asparagus up in the wrapper and place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet.

For decoration, slice three diagonal slits in the wrapper. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the lemon salt.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until the wrappers are a light golden brown.

Serve warm!
Limoncello Asparagus Spears

Cake In A Cup!

I have a secret. My food bloggers card may be revoked when I tell you. Then again, I might be your new hero!

I love cake! Oh wait. That’s not a secret.

I love things that are quick and easy! No… not a secret either.

I have boxed cake mix in my pantry. *GASP*

Now I know what you’re thinking. Food bloggers are supposed to make everything from scratch! They sit around fancy tables with gorgeous napkins and fine china, eating perfectly plated, gourmet food! (Remind me to take a wide shot of what my kitchen actually looks like when I’m taking food pictures! HA!) I’m here to tell you, that’s just not true. Of course, if you’ve been following along for a while, you already know my kitchen isn’t perfect so…

Not only do I have boxed cake mix in my pantry, I have two! Specifically, these two.

Cake Mix

My friend Laura is falling out of her chair right now, because I’ve made an Angel Food Cake for her birthday the past several years and she probably thinks it’s from one of these boxes. Hey! Now that I think about it, maybe my food bloggers card won’t be revoked after all! Laura, I promise, your cakes have never been from a box!

So why are they in my pantry? Is the secret really boxed cake mix? No. The secret is the magic that happens when you mix the two together! I keep this hidden for those moments when I want something sweet – just for me – and I want it RIGHT NOW. In less than two minutes, I can have a delicious, personal size, chocolate cake in a cup that satisfies the cravings and doesn’t leave me with a lot of extra cake in the house.

Here’s how it works: In a large ziplock bag, combine the two cake mixes together. Shake the bag until they are fully incorporated. In a microwaveable coffee mug, combine three tablespoons of the mix with two tablespoons of water. Nothing else, just water. Stir to combine. Put the mug in the microwave on high for one minute. THAT’S IT!


When it’s done, let it sit for a few minutes to cool. After that, you have your own individual “cup cake” to satisfy your sweet tooth. It looks a bit like a sponge but that’s ok!

If you want more chocolate, as soon as the cup comes out of the microwave, toss mini chocolate chips on top. They’ll melt a bit from the heat of the cake and it tastes almost like frosting!


So there it is. Cake in a cup using boxed cake mix. If you don’t like chocolate, you can use your favorite flavor box mix, but don’t substitute the Angel Food cake mix. You will have a lot of mix, so store it in the bag in the back of your pantry. It will be there for you when your own cake cravings hit.

Cake in a cup

Have fun with this! Just remember, it’s our secret!!

French Onion Soup Sandwiches

I make no secret of my love for Joy The Baker. She has gifted us with many recipes over the last year that quickly became family favorites: Avocado Fries, Zucchini Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins…

Now, however, she may very well have risen to hero status in our house. Last May she posted these French Onion Soup Sandwiches. It took me nine months to discover them and we will never be apart again.

This recipe makes two sandwiches. That’s perfect as our little nest is growing emptier and I find myself making dinners for two more often than dinners for three, four or five.

Obviously you start with onions… two big beautiful onions for two big beautiful sandwiches!
onions in the pan

As you cook them, the onions break down and caramelize, getting sweet and delicious. Then you add fresh Thyme, a bit of salt, amazing Gruyère cheese and great bread…

Together they come very close to sandwichy perfection.

These are great on a cold night, snuggled under a blanket watching the Hallmark Channel! Or you know, whatever you want to watch. 😉

French Onion Soup Sandwiches

French Onion Soup Sandwiches

Recipe from Joy The Baker via Portuguese Girl Cooking

2 medium yellow onions, peeled, cut in half and sliced into 1/4-inch semi-circles

3 tablespoons unsalted butter,softened, plus more for buttering the bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 scant teaspoon coarse sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

pinch of granulated sugar

3 tablespoons beef broth to deglaze the pan

3/4 cup finely shredded Gruyère cheese, split

4 slices bread

In a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil and stir until butter is melted. Add the onions and toss to coat them in the fat. Let the onions cook, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes. Add salt, thyme, and pepper and stir. Place a lid on the pan and let the onions cook. Stir the onions every so often and lower the heat if they are browning too quickly. Take your time cooking the onions. It’s low and slow for this one. Trust me, it will be worth it in the end. After about 10-15 minutes, you’ll see the onions begin to darken and break down. Keep cooking and stirring occasionally for another 10-15 minutes.

When onions are entirely browned and completely soft, add the beef broth to deglaze the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any burned bits off the bottom of the pan as the liquid evaporates. This adds extra flavor and it doesn’t take very long for the liquid to evaporate so scrape quickly! Remove pan from heat and set aside while you assemble the sandwiches.

Butter one side of each slice of bread. On the unbuttered side of one slice, add half the Gruyère cheese, then half the warm onion mixture and top with another slice of bread. Repeat this to assemble the other sandwich.

Cook the sandwiches over medium heat in a sauté pan. Flip the sandwiches and continue to cook until the outside is crispy and golden and the cheese is gooey and melted on the inside.


Do you see why she is a hero? These are so good! One bite and my husband said “Yep, these are keepers!” Thanks Joy for another amazing recipe! You’re a keeper too. 🙂

Pizza Quesadillas!


Wednesday night is “Pizza Night” at our house! This tradition started years ago when the kids were younger. In those days we had at least two of the three, if not ALL three, busy with soccer, baseball, swimming, wrestling, marching band or water polo! It was far easier to pick up a pizza than figure out dinner on a weird time-table. For whatever reason, we’ve kept that tradition. Not so much that our favorite pizza place knows us by name, knows our order and feels free to harass us every time we come in on a night that ISN’T Wednesday. No. Not that much. That would be weird.


Earlier I made Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce, and was trying to find something wonderful to pair with it.

We missed our usual pizza night this week and I knew this marinara would make a spectacular pizza sauce! I had all the ingredients in the refrigerator for pizza quesadillas, so I simply swapped out the pizza sauce for my wonderful homemade version. Lunch has never been more delicious!

Pizzadilla with Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce!

Pizza Quesadillas
Inspired by Closet Cooking-Pizzadilla recipe

2 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella, divided
3/4 cup Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce, divided
pepperoni slices
sliced black olives
sliced mushrooms
OR a mixture of your own favorite pizza toppings!

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Place one tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle 3/4 cup cheese over tortilla, sprinkle 3 TBLS of the marinara sauce randomly over the cheese. place HALF the pepperoni, olives and mushrooms on top of the cheese. Top with second tortilla.
Cook quesadilla until light brown on both sides and the cheese is melted, approx 2-4 minutes per side.
Take the skillet off the heat. Spread 1/4 cup of the remaining marinara sauce across the top of the quesadilla. Sprinkle with all the remaining cheese and adorn with the other half of your pizza toppings!
Put the skillet in the oven and let it bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
While the pizza-dilla is baking, warm the remaining marinara in a small saucepan to use as dipping sauce.
Remove pizza-dilla from the oven and let it set for about 3-5 minutes. Cut into eight pieces and enjoy!

This is a quick and easy meal! It is very filling too! It has me thinking about other dishes I could turn into something-dillas! Hmmmm… Of course, it also has me thinking we might be seeing less of Bob, Frankie, Adam and Chris. Not that I know the names of the owner or the rest of the guys at our pizza place. I’m just sayin’. 🙂

Enjoy Foodie Friends!

Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce – Recipe Swap!

I belong to several food bloggers groups on Facebook. One of the groups is doing a recipe swap! The basic idea is to pick a recipe from another blog and try it! Simple, yes?

Recently, the lovely Bernadette from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen, tried my Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers. Read her blog post about them… HERE!

I tried Bernadette’s Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce! I did tweak it just a bit. The first thing was to cut the recipe in half. There are just two of us for dinner most nights now and we don’t need that much. Thankfully this recipe also freezes beautifully, so the leftovers went straight into a container for another dinner next month! I also used a bit more tomato paste for some added depth! In the summer when we have fresh tomatoes, I will be using this recipe again. It’s simple, easy and I love the tangy garlicky tomato aroma it gives off as it simmers on the stove! Delicious!

Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce

1 TBLS olive oil
1  14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1  14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 TBLS tomato paste
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/3 cup garlic, diced
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 TBLS chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté just until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients except parsley and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the parsley. Cover again and finish simmering!

What did I do with this fabulous sauce? I made Pizza-dillas!

Pizzadilla with Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce!

Who knows what I’ll do with it next month, but I see pasta in our future! Thanks Bernadette for a great new recipe!


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