Cheese & Jalapeño Sour Cream Muffins

This is what you’ll need to create these treats:

Cooking spray
3/4 cup fine corn meal
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
3 Tbs light sour cream
3 Tbs canola oil
2 eggs
3 Tbs chopped jalapeños
3/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.
Lightly coat 8 muffin tins with cooking spray
Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl.
In separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, oil, and eggs.
Add sour cream mixture to cornmeal mixture, stirring until just combined.
Fold in jalapeños and cheese.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden.
Insert knife or pick in center to test for doneness.
About 150 calories per muffin.

I was in Cabo when I concocted these little nuggets of a muffin, taking full advantage of the abundance of jalapeños. Fun fact: jalapeños account for thirty percent of Mexico’s chili production. I snapped the above left photo at the end of the day when they were freshly baked and the sun was streaming dreamily in through the living room window. The next day we pulled out the preserves and enjoyed brunch with the muffins reheated, along with Donaldo’s delicious version of Huevos Rancheros, where flavors comingle in the best imaginable way.

Donaldo is his Cabo name, assigned by the Diamante caddies. He is on those golf courses when not in the kitchen with his skillet in hand! Go on, send your taste buds on holiday.

Halloumi Za’atar Grilled Toast

Yummmmm…za’atar, that delicious Middle Eastern herb seasoning. I was first introduced to this seasoning at the Old Spice Souk in Dubai. The year was 2013 and we took an abra across Dubai Creek where a purveyor invited me to smell it. Then he sprinkled it on a slice of grilled halloumi and I was hooked for life. Join me on this journey half way ’round the world! This halloumi toast is terrific cut into small squares for an appetizer, or halve the whole piece of toast and serve it for brunch.

4 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs minced fresh parsley
1 Tbs minced fresh oregano
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbs Za’atar seasoning
1/2 t ground pepper
8 oz halloumi cheese, sliced into 3/4” slices
4 slices hearty sourdough or strong wheat bread
1 clove garlic, halved
1 cup microgreens

Whisk together olive oil, parsley, oregano, lemon juice, za’atar, and pepper.
Brush both sides of halloumi and bread with oil mixture.
Grill halloumi and bread on both sides until charred, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Rub one side of bread with garlic.
Top toasts with halloumi.
Drizzle with remaining oil mixture.
Sprinkle with lemon zest and micro greens.
Serves 8 for appetizers or 4 for brunch.

To the left is pictured a brunch serving of this wonderful toast, cut on the diagonal. I added bean sprouts, and pink salt to jazz it up a bit.

Baked Spaghetti Squash

Canyon Ranch, be still my heart, soul, and body. I would like to write you a love letter, because you provided so much positive assistance to me; alas, I pause…sort of! I have a series of recipes based on my Ranch experience. They cook with uncommon creativity, making everything healthy and tasty. I’m revealing secrets from the premier health institute in the USA. Enjoy. This is a national treasure and I’m certain that this recipe (and more shortly) will become a staple on your spreadsheet. Hit the pause button and enjoy. Sending love, good health, and lots of happiness!

Medium spaghetti squash
Pinch salt
Pinch black pepper
Baking spray to prep baking sheet

Images: Top Left ~ Whole Spaghetti Squash – Top Right ~ Top half seeded, bottom half, not!
Lower Left ~ Face down on cooking sheet – Lower Right ~ Straight out of the oven

Preheat oven to 375°.
Spray baking sheet with small amount of canola oil.
Cut spaghetti squash in half.
Scoop out seeds.
Place cut side down on baking sheet.
Bake 45 minutes or until soft.
Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Shred squash with a fork into a bowl.
Makes 6 one cup servings.
35 cal per serving.

I add this baked version to a salad for extra flavor and fiber.
I really love this plain, warm out of the oven, room temp, or chilled.
The “add ons” can enhance the flavor if so desired.
You may add spaghetti sauce, maple syrup, Parmesan cheese, or top up a sandwich if you’re in the mood, just for extra fun. Pictured below is the squash topped with my homemade tomato sauce, along side a sculpture from my private collection by Jeff Kiefer.

Grilled Shrimp and Fruit with Honey and Lime

Donaldo and I (and everyone that goes with us) find Diamante a perfect place of peace and joy…just what we all need, right? It means Diamond, and it is a lovely private resort on the Pacific, totally self contained, a few miles outside of Cabo proper. Cooking creates a calm in me, and sustenance is nurturing to all on the receiving end of dinner. And I adore cooking in the Diamante villa. Grab the essence of this mix of flavors in the recipe that follows!

And while I’m at it…All of my friends understand how difficult Covid and the quarantine were for me. I was paralyzingly afraid. But thanks to Frances, who introduced me to a new thought process, the amazing staff at Canyon Ranch who filled my box with the perfect tools, and James (nod to Brenton for her intuition, research, and choice!) who keeps me steady on the weekly, and finally…to me for creating menus that maintain that calm on the daily…I may just become a sociable person again…yes, the longest run on sentence ever! So enjoy the fruits of my joyous labor! This shrimp and fruit concoction is a true delight. YUM!! *Note: If anyone would enjoy further info on any of my helpful team of peeps, I’m happy to share! In the meantime, get your tastebuds ready for a happy dance!

1 Tbs olive oil for grilling
1 Tbs butter
1 lb large shrimp, cleaned
2 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs honey
Medium honeydew melon, halved and seeded
Medium cantaloupe, halved and seeded
Small seedless watermelon, halved
2 Tbs lime zest
2 Tbs lime juice
1 t chopped fresh mint

Combine 2 Tbs lime juice and honey in small bowl, and set aside.
Using 1 1/4” melon baller, scoop 24 balls of all 3 melons.
Place in large bowl.
Add lime zest, lime juice, and mint.
Toss to combine.
Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Preheat grill pan with olive oil and butter over high heat.*
Add shrimp and grill about 1 1/2 minutes per side.
Brush both sides shrimp with lime and honey glaze.
Grill 15 more seconds per side.
Serve shrimp along side melon balls.
Serves 4.
140 calories per serving.

*We didn’t have a grill pan at Diamante, so I just prepared the shrimp with a simple sauté pan. Just as delicious as the grilled version.

P TO THE S…SORRY IF THAT WAS TOO MUCH PERSONAL INFO! IT’S MY CURRENT LIFE PATH, AND I AM MORE THAN PLEASED, SO I WANT TO SHARE, ESPECIALLY IF IT CAN ASSIST ANYONE ELSE IN NEED OF A RESET! HAPPY HAPPY WEEKEND TO ALL. AND A VERY MERRY GOOD NIGHT! IS IT CHRISTMAS? 134 DAYS!!

Lemony Shrimp Scampi

Good Afternoon Fine People! As the warm days are waning (thank goodness in my simple opinion!), I offer those of you who only enjoy shrimp during the summer months one more recipe to ease through your palate with brightness. As I watched the “winners” being announced during the Emmy Presentation Sunday night, I couldn’t help but to think that there are no “Category Winners” on this site. I love everything that I post; and if I attempt something that is less than suitable, it doesn’t make it “on air”, sorta like some early versions of TV shows! This is a sure red carpet winner; so go ahead, be fabulous, then sit back and wait for the oohs and aahs!

Entree Seafood Lemony Shrimp Scampi
Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 2 large lemons
Juice of 2 large lemons
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth.
Set aside.

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 t kosher salt
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.
Drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add shallots and cook until soft, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add shrimp, salt and pepper.
Cook until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove shrimp from skillet.
Increase the heat to high.
Add wine.
Cook for 1 minute until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add cooked pasta, cooked shrimp and vinaigrette to the skillet.
Toss until all ingredients are coated, adding the reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta.

Transfer to a large bowl, garnish with dill, and serve.

Baha Peninsula Artichoke Appetizer

I Know I Know I Know…Cabo Stories are becoming a bit nonplussed; however, to know me is to know that I love our Diamante villa in Cabo. You may find it odd that I am a very pale, natural blond, 66 year old Grand. That is to say that I don’t sit in the sun; but I am all about being out there in the pool with the fam and friends, 50+ sunscreen, most of the time in long sleeve SPF shirts, soaking up the fun. In the interim, I’m all about dreaming up new manners in which to cook our favorite bites when we gather around the dinner table! The Baha Peninsula is known for many, many things, one of which is growing artichokes. The baby ones are the best, most tender, and just yummy. So, we enjoyed them, a lot!

Above, from left: the don is mixing the cheeses. ~ the Cabo Grocery Girls couldn’t find wonton wrappers while stocking our kitchen, so…improvise. I used the Diamante Market pizza dough instead; and with no rolling pin, enter the empty Ciroc bottle to roll the dough (yes my arms did get some sun that day!). ~ Improvising again, with no cookie cutter, hello glass to cut the rounds of dough to fit into the muffin tin. Check out the results below!

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 t garlic powder
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup water packed baby artichokes, drained and chopped
24 wonton wrappers
Chopped fresh chives for garnish
Mini muffin tin

In mixing bowl, combine Parmesan, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.
Mix well.
Stir in Monterey Jack and artichokes.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray 2 mini muffin tin pans with nonstick spray.
Press one wonton wrapper into each small muffin cup.
Bake 5 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
Fill each cup with artichoke mixture.
Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes…but keep your eye on it!
Garnish with chives and serve warm.

Cinnamon Bread Pinwheels

Hellodie Hellodie and Happy Hump da Hump Day! Each post that involves my grands is especially fun for me, so come on and get happy! They may seem to be bouncing off the walls sometimes, but they’re just being children; so hold on to the magic…they grow up fast! And now, here’s a little show and tell. May your cookie jar never be empty!

4 slices cinnamon raison bread
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
4 long hors d’oeuvres picks

Cut the crust off each piece of bread, keeping it totally intact.
Start at one end of each piece of bread crust and roll it up, creating 4 pinwheels.
Secure each pinwheel with a pick.
Melt butter, sugar, and cinnamon in skillet, stirring to combine.
Add pinwheels to skillet and allow to toast about a minute per side.
Remove from skillet onto plate and allow pinwheels to cool and crispen.

Avocado Toast with Eggs and Tomatoes

Home from Cabo and happily back to life as Grand and GrandDad for the weekend. Tomorrow begins with a 5:50am wakeup call for Liam’s travel league baseball games, and then soccer matches for “the littles”. We will divide and conquer for the different locations; but we will all reunite in the Rock Dam Kitchen for a healthy brunch to refuel us all for the afternoon. Transfer the familiar into the fantastic. We’re taking all familiar ingredients and combining them in a wonderfully twisted way. So drop the mask for a few minutes to enjoy a meal…the stars are going to align on our taste buds and all the way down to our tummies! Here’s wishing all of you a happy, healthy, fun loving, athletic Saturday!

2 eggs
2 slices bread
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 avocado, gently mashed
1/2 lime, zested and juiced
Dash garlic powder
Dash onion powder
Fresh spinach
Gourmet Medley cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Alfalfa sprouts
Drizzle of honey
Drizzle of olive oil

Place eggs in boiling water for 6 minutes to soft boil.
Lightly sauté tomato halves in olive oil.
Toast bread.
Spread with Dijon.
Mix avocado with lime, garlic, and onion.
Spread avocado mixture on top of Dijon.
Top with a few spinach leaves.
Top with sprouts.
Top with eggs.
Top with tomatoes.
Drizzle with honey and olive oil.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Sausage, Egg, Cheese Strata

Happy Sunday to one and all. All of the hustle and bustle is fun…until it’s not. The Don was fortunate and received his Covid booster Friday (remember that lymphoma situation) and was feeling a tad run down yesterday, so we stayed quietly at home and I made this comfort strata. Perfect for our Saturday early supper, and brunch or supper any day for that matter. It’s early in the day; go grab what you need and whip this up for Sunday Supper. Think, a little denser than a quiche, and a little more comforting as well. Now here’s your breakfast/brunch giggle of the day thanks to comedian Steven Wright: “I went to a restaurant that serves breakfast during any time. So I ordered French Toast from the Renaissance; and they just looked at me!”

1/2 lb ground sausage, browned and drained
1 sweet onion, diced
12 eggs, slightly beaten
4 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, tossed with 1 Tbs melted butter
Sour cream for garnish
Chopped chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a pie pan.
In large mixing bowl, using rubber spatula, combine sausage, onions, eggs, Gruyere, blue cheese, half cheddar, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Pour mixture into baking pan.
Add remaining cheddar, and then breadcrumbs on top.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until just set.
Let cool 5 minutes.




Shrimp and Strawberry Ceviche

Hold Everything! The first time that I ever made ceviche was in the Culinary Center, Ritz Carlton, Cancun, with Chef Rory Dunaway in 2007. THIS was our view out of the kitchen window. Truly a delight! Enjoy this Ohh la la version as we are in the waning days of August. While technically not a true ceviche, it’s darn good y’all. Roger that!

1 lb cleaned shrimp
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 sweet onion, chopped
Corn from 2 cobs
1 lb strawberries, hulled and diced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook shrimp in boiling water 2 minutes.
Drain and put in ice bath for 5 minutes.
Drain well.
Cut shrimp in half.
In medium bowl, combine shrimp, lemon juice, lime juice, jalapeño, and onion.
Chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour (but no longer than 6 hours).
When ready to serve, toss in strawberries and cilantro.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.