Bison Chili Dogs

The chili and the dogs are made with bison. A good clean meat. Never factory farmed. Never pumped with antibiotics or other chemicals. Always grassfed. Enough said!

I LOVE chili cheese dogs! So why not make them with healthier ingredients?!
No high fructose corn syrup, no crazy chemical dyes, no msg, etc…
Just clean and simple ingredients!

Ingredient List:

  • Ground Bison
  • Chili Powder
  • Fire Roasted Tomato
  • Tomato Paste
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Bison Dogs
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Roasted Poblano Pepper
  • Soft White Buns




Cali Fresh Fish Tacos

My fish tacos were inspired by fresh caught fish from my favorite fish monger. Unfortunately my beautiful cuts of fish stayed a little to long in the freezer.

Since they were frozen longer than I’d hoped, I decided to make California style fish tacos. After all, my fish did come from a California deep sea fishing trip!

I did a quick pickling on some shredded red cabbage and made a tangy white sauce with plain yogurt and mayo to accompany my wild caught fish. I used a thin beer batter (flour, cornstarch, baking powder and light beer) for a light but crunchy coating. Served on a warm corn tortilla…these fish tacos were perfect!

Cali Fresh Fish Tacos

Cali Fresh Fish Tacos

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Whole Foods Market Brewing Company

Beer Flight

On a recent trip to Houston, Texas for a family wedding, I had an opportunity to visit the newest member of the Whole Foods Market family. I am a loyal Whole Foods Market Venice team member but when I get a chance to visit other stores…especially new ones out of state, I get very excited! I also, am a proud Texan so it was an extra treat to be able to visit Whole Foods Brewing Company. It’s a big one too at 48,000 square feet and located in the Galleria area of Houston, Texas.

In case you couldn’t tell by the name, the new Whole Foods is a brewery as well as a market! A lot of the Whole Foods stores have beer on tap and wine bars (yep…that’s right…you can have a drink at a grocery store) but this one is the first in the family to brew their own beer! Vey exciting! I tasted the four beers they had on tap and I’m happy to report all were delicious. They had a fun and unique “sweet potato” beer that I really liked but could probably only drink one. I’m not a beer snob or connoisseur but I do like trying new things and the sweet potato beer was a tasty spin on beer for the fall season.

Check out my quick little slideshow I put together on my brief walk through Whole Foods Market Brewing Company. Please keep in my mind I took all these photos with an ipod and rather quickly because I had family members with me who were less enthusiastic than I was.ūüôā

Pie Baking with Kate McDermott

Who loves pie? I know I do! I don’t consider myself a dessert lover but I do love pie!¬†I love it so much, I nicknamed my daughter Pie, because she’s the most perfect thing in the universe…just like pie!

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to be able to attend a pie baking class, taught by the lovely and talented Kate McDermott (!¬†Kate had come all the way down from Washington state, on her Pie A La Road tour.¬†The class was an intimate affair, held in my friend’s charming chateau in Marina Del Rey. The scent of blooming flowers mingled with the ocean breeze and wafted through our kitchen. A perfect spring day–and a perfect day for baking pies!

We made a mixed berry pie. You can find the recipe on Kate’s Web site. The filling was well-balanced, slightly sweet, and perfectly tart, but that was the easy part. The hard part was conquering the crust, but we persevered, and the result was worth it: a gloriously flakey crust!

Making a great pie crust is flat-out intimidating. Kate put us at ease with her “Just Chill” chant which applies to more than your nerves. She chills all the ingredients used to make the crust so it’s all the same temperature, even the bowl! And I did a quick mental chill to get myself in the same zone as my ingredients. Remember, your state of mind is really just another ingredient!

In this case, the love was just as important as the lard–and I’m happy to report it was the best damn pie I’ve ever made. And I’m even happier to be able to share my experience with you, my wonderful readers!

Here’s a look at our: Day of Pie Baking with Kate Mcdermott…


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Peaches and Brett Beer

My friend Joe stopped by with a rare beer he was very excited about getting in!

He’s the Beer Specialist at Whole Foods Market Venice and this is his shameless plug…


Freshly Squeezed Citrus Juice


My Meyer lemon tree has been begging me to pick some of her beautifully juicy lemons and Whole Foods had some perfectly delicious blood oranges and tangerines. That was it, I had the perfect jar of freshly squeezed juice waiting to be made!

Sweetened with a little exotic honey and this is one tasty glass of heavenly nectar. Add some vodka and you’ve got the perfect storm of good and evil uniting harmoniously.

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Fish Sandwich

JJ's Fish Sandwich

Growing up catholic we would eat fish every Friday during Lent. In catholic school they’d always bring Mc Donald’s fish sandwiches on Fridays during lent. I know…GROSS! But, I was a kid and didn’t know any better. I did develop a love for fish sandwiches, I think probably from this life experience. My love for cooking and creating my own healthier versions of food I consumed as a child shines in these tasty sandwiches! It doesn’t have to be Lent anymore for me to eat a fish sandwich. It does so happen to be Lent right now so for all you religious foodies, give these a try…


  • 1 lb. Alaskan Cod
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • butter lettuce
  • beef tomato
  • poblano pepper
  • hoagie buns
  • your favorite cocktail or tarter sauce (i make my own)
  • 4 cups of frying oil
  • seasonings
  1. in a large bowl pour in buttermilk season with salt and pepper and a few pinches of dill (dry). Slice fish into pieces the same size as buns and toss into buttermilk.
  2. mix flour and cornmeal together, season with salt, pepper and dill. with a fork lightly fluff.
  3. heat oil in cast iron or heavy bottom deep skillet over high heat. (prep for sandwich: thinly slice, tomato and poblano pepper)
  4. get a piece of fish from buttermilk, dredge through flour until coated, lightly shake and lay in hot oil. depending on the size of your pan only fry two or three pieces at a time. (do not over crowd. you will have a soggy mess.) fry about two minutes each side. drain on a paper towel (or paper bag).
  5. Warm buns a bit and assemble your glory!

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BEP and Filet Mignon

This has to be my favorite New Year’s dish. A hearty pot of Black Eyed Peas with big pieces of sausage in a rustic tomato broth, served alongside a slowly Smoked Filet Mignon Roast. Need I say more? I think not.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano

Whole Foods is having a One Day Sale on Parmigiano Reggiano! For more than half off the regular price of $21.99, on Friday the 13th you can get this beautifully exquisite cheese for only $9.99 a pound! You should absolutely check out your local Whole Foods for this amazing deal.¬†If you don’t understand what all the hype is behind Parmigiano Reggiano I will share a little information on this hunk of heavenly cheese.

The Story of Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano is a name protected cheese and each wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano carries proof of its authenticity. During production, the rind is impressed with the number of the “caseificio” or cheese house, production date and pin dots forming the words “Parmigiano Reggiano.” The pin dots guarantee that the cheese was made under regulation of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano, conforming to its stringent standards of quality.¬†After one year of aging, each wheel that passes the test is branded with an oval certification mark and left to finish aging. Almost every piece we cut at Whole Foods includes part of the marked rind, so you can verify it is Parmigiano Reggiano!

This carefully made cheese is always a raw cow’s milk cheese and exclusively made in the regions in and around Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and Bologna, Italy. Traditionally the cows are fed only grass and hay therefore producing “grass fed milk”. There, of course, are knock off versions of this Italian hard cheese. Outside of Europe it may be referred to as Parmesan. Grana Padano is another variation of the former only from a different region in Italy with less strict rules on what the cows may eat and how it is aged, etc.

Fresh Cut Chunks Of Parm!

Fresh Cut Chunks Of Parm!

Now you may be thinking…what am I going to do with a pound or more of Parmigiano Reggiano? I’ll give you some suggestions. It can be grated in a food processor and stored in an air tight container in the fridge for over a month, making it easily accessible for tossing in salads or over pastas. It will also look marvelous and be a big hit on holiday cheese boards!

Tower of Parm

Tower of Parm

This exotic superstar is nothing like the waxy pre packed already grated or shredded cheeses that are much cheaper. ¬†You will absolutely taste the difference. Whether you’re cooking with it, using it for garnish or serving it on a cheese board, Parmigiano Reggiano will change the way your food tastes! It’s such an extraordinary cheese that when we crack open wheels of it, we always put a cheesy smile on our customers faces after giving them a sample! It is usually much pricer but for one day you will get the luxury of buying it for over half off! I say go for it and use it instead of the cheaper knock off versions for as long as you can!

ThanksGiving 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner

I did prep for my Thanksgiving menu the night before so that when I got home from work at 5:30pm I would be able to quickly get our non traditional Thanksgiving dinner ready and served by 7:30pm. I work at probably the busiest place in the country during the week of Thanksgiving, a grocery store. […]

Cold Pressed Juice at Whole Foods Venice

Taste the Rainbow

Good news, my darlings! Whole Foods Market Venice has now joined the Cold Pressed Juice craze and opened a charming raw juice bar at their vegan grill! As you know, the new raw juice mania has so many of us craving these delicious, refreshing and super nutritious beverages on the daily! And now you can grab some of this nectarous juice at Whole Foods Market Venice while doing your grocery shopping!

For those of you who are asking themselves, what raw juice mania?, allow me to introduce you to this latest trend. Cold-pressing fruits and vegetables maximizes nutrient extraction with little to no oxidation. There is no blade heating up and damaging vital nutrients and no chunky bits of fibre left behind. What you get from pressed fruits and vegetables is pure nectar extracted from the pulp and fibre, leaving you with live vitamins, minerals and enzymes. So drink up!

The health benefits are obvious: more of the nutrients your body¬†craves in the purest form possible. Not only that, but there are a¬†variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from, so you can create the¬†perfect juices for your dietary needs and taste! Or, simply choose from their exclusive designer menu. Now do your body a favor and come on over to our Venice¬†store and give your body what it needs! And be sure to tell ’em JJ¬†sent you, to get a little extra love! My favorite, the fresh pressed almond milk. I use it in smoothies, cereal, lattes…it is divine and much better than anything boxed or pasteurized.

Whole Foods Venice on Facebook

Cooking JJ’s Way on Facebook

New York Strip

My inner Texas girl came out to play today and it all started with my beautifully marbled New York Strip Steak that were on sale at Whole Foods! I’m always excited when they have their One Day or Three Day sales in the meat department. I am a big fan of Whole Foods Animal Welfare […]

Bison Sloppy Joes

When my daughter actually asks me to cook I get so excited! She is almost seventeen and having any time with her is very rare these days. I know she is on the typical teenager diet right now, eating when it’s convenient and usually consisting of lots of junk food, so I get even more eager to cook something I know she will get nutrients from.

She and her bfriend requested Sloppy Joes. I do not cook from packages preferring not to add unwanted sodium or other mystery ingredients to my food. These are very simple to make even with out the package and it’s easy to sneak a few healthy veggies without them knowing!

Bison Sloppy Joe

Bison Sloppy Joe


  • 1lb. Ground Bison
  • 1- 15 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Celery Stalks
  • 1 tBs: Cumin, Chili Powder, Ground Mustard
  • ketchup
  • worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Hamburger Buns
  1. Heat saute pan over medium heat. Finely dice onion,  celery and bell pepper, drizzle pan with olive oil, toss in veggies, season with salt and pepper and saute until tender. About 5 minutes. Dice jalapeno, add to pan. Pour in: cumin, chili powder and ground mustard. Mix to coat veggies.
  2. Add ground bison. Season with salt and pepper, brown meat breaking up with wooden spoon as it cooks. About 5-10 minutes
  3. Pour in crushed tomatoes, add about 1/4 cup of ketchup and 2 tBs. worcestershire sauce. Mix everything together and let simmer 30-45minutes, low heat.
  4. Toast your favorite hamburger buns, spoon Bison Sloppy Joe over bun and be prepared to get sloppy!

Food For Thought: Sloppy Joes are one of those foods that is much better the next day. Meaning they make excellent leftovers! Or, just make it the day before…

Smoked Tri-Tip

This amazing hunk of meat, done right, will be a definite hit with family and friends. I’ve been perfecting my Smoked Tri-Tip since I moved to beautiful sunny¬†Santa Monica, Ca., where¬†Tri-Tip¬†is a readily available cut of meat in most markets.¬†(Actually, I live right on the border of Venice and Santa Monica. My grill is on the patio, which faces the Venice side, so I guess you could say the process was perfected in Venice. Well, that, and the fact that I’m from Texas.)
I make this scrumptious hunk of meat on my ‚Äėol faithful Webber. I use lump charcoal and occasionally wood chips when I have the time. However this can also be done in an oven with similar results. My adorable friend Edel tried this and her hungry guests were so impressed I was inspired to get this quick and easy recipe up online so you can enjoy it, too.



1- 2.5 lbs Tri-Tip Roast (trimmed for the beginners)

rub: smoked paprika and or chili powder, salt and cracked black pepper.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let Tri-Tip come to room temperature.
  • Rub Tri-Tip with smoked paprika (or chili powder) salt and cracked black pepper.
  • In a non stick pan or oven safe glass pan bake Tri-Tip for 45-60 minutes depending on desired doneness. Keep in mind this roast is better served as medium rare so about 45 minutes is as long you want to go.
  • Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing. Thin slices are best.
  • Serve alongside a blue cheese salad or a favorite side!
Edel's Tri-Tip Diner

Edel’s Tri-Tip Dinner

Prepped Tri-Tip

Prepped Tri-Tip

Tri-Tip with rub

Tri-Tip with rub

Me and Edel!

Me and Edel!

Breakfast for the Palate

  • A slice of rye bread, toasted
  • Spread with a fig preserve
  • Topped with a fried egg!
Fried Egg on Rye

Fried Egg on Rye


Lamb Pot Pie and Green Mashers

Lamb Pot Pie and Green Mashers

I love fun quirky days to celebrate and eat lots of food. St. Patrick’s Day is definitely one of those days! Usually I make Guinness battered fish and Chips. But, this year my dude inspired me to make this delicious Lamb Pot Pie and I came up with these exciting bright green mash potatoes! No […]

Chicken and Waffles!

My daughter loves her some chicken and waffles. She’s also a teenager with a short attention span. I like to make her chicken and waffles when we actually get a morning together but I know I’ve got to be quick about it or she will fill up on easy access junk and be out the door.

I’ve made a quick and easy recipe by using chicken tenders and frozen belgium waffles. The tenders are boneless, easy to eat, cook quickly and kids love them! Since I don’t own a waffle iron and I don’t need another gadget in my tiny kitchen, I’ve found there are perfectly fine frozen varieties at the supermarkets. After all this is a recipe for a teenager with a short attention span!

Maia’s Favorite Chicken and Waffle Recipe…

Maia's Fav Chicken and Waffles!

Maia’s Fav Chicken and Waffles!


  1. chicken tenders
  2. 2 cups buttermilk
  3. 2 cups flour
  4. 4 cups of vegetable or canola oil
  5. frozen belgium waffles
  6. softened butter
  7. real maple syrup!
  • Heat oil in deep pan or dutch oven over high heat. Soak tenders in buttermilk. put flour in a dish and season with salt and pepper.
  • Once oil is hot (drop a small bit of batter in oil. batter should sizzle immediately) remove a tender from buttermilk coat in flour and place in hot oil. Repeat. Fry for about 5-8 minutes until tenders are golden brown. remove tenders from oil and let drain on paper towel. Season with a touch more salt and pepper. *tips for frying see below…
  • Prepare frozen waffles according to package. I don’t own a toaster so I just place mine on the wire rack of my oven.

Assembly time! Lightly butter waffle, place chicken on top and cover with real maple syrup. You’ve got a quick and delicious homemade chicken and waffle treat!

*Depending on the size of your pot and the amount of tenders you’re cooking you may have to do in batches. Do not over crowd pot or else you will get a soggy chicken tender instead of a crispy one. They should have plenty of room to float around in the oil.

Chicken and Waffle

Chicken and Waffle

Vegan Rice Pudding

I make this at the J.O.B. If you’re ever at Whole Foods Venice, you can find it at our dessert bar so definitely come give it a try! Or… give it a try at home.


  1. 4 cups uncooked rice. (jasmine or brown rice can be used)

    Image Coming Soon...

    Image Coming Soon…

  2. 6 – 8 cups of almond milk
  3. 1 cup of sugar (preferably pure sugar cane)
  4. nutmeg
  5. 2 teaspoons almond extract
  6. golden raisins and or sliced almonds for garnish (optional)
  • Cook rice according to package with a teaspoon of salt, in a rice cooker or stovetop.¬†
  • Meanwhile warm 6 cups of almond milk in large pot over medium heat. Add in sugar, almond extract and 2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add cooked rice to milk bath and stir. Let mixture come to a slow simmer then lower heat. Stir occasionally and let pudding thicken. Add more almond milk if needed.

Serve warm or cold. Garnish with raisins and almonds and a dash of nutmeg. I like to add golden raisins to the bottom of small bowls or one glass dish, cover with rice pudding and dust the top with nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge to enjoy all week long!



Asian Week at JJ’s

Kramer Sashimi Knife

I’ve been on an Asian kick lately! Probably all the late night antena TV I watch. Also…I got an AMAZING new sashimi knife a month ago and there was a sashimi grade swordfish on sale at my work (Thank You Whole Foods)! I obeyed the signs from the gods and the universe and purchased me some swordfish and a little salmon too. I’ve never done swordfish before. It was quite tasty!¬†My Chinese Chicken is something I’ve done before and I really do love it! It was a delicious week of cooking in my kitchen.


Po Boys!

What Maia Wants Maia gets!

She’s been begging me to make her Shrimp Po Boys since she got back from a summer Port Aransas trip. Since I have no idea what was in the Po Boys she had other than fried shrimp , I did my research and tried my best to recreate a Po Boy sub for her.

She said mine wan’t the same but still pretty good. I’ve now promised her the next time we are in Texas we can drive to Port A and find the place she ate these life altering Shrimp Po Boys at, so that I can actually eat one and then recreate the Po Boy Sub she loves so much. I can’t give Maia much but I can recreate her favorite foods at home.

Here are some pictures of our Po Boys…

Vegan Winter Stew

On cold winter days I find this soup perfect to warm the body but not too heavy when there is still lots of work to be done. You will get all the nutrients you need to keep your body fueled and full of energy.

I had some leftover veggies from my farmers market shopping trip. They were a little wilted and tired and I wanted to use them before I had to throw them out. A stew is perfect for a little veggie facelift!


  • basmati brown rice

    Vegan Winter Stew

    Vegan Winter Stew

  • olive oil
  • 1 yukon gold potato
  • ginger
  • 1 of each: poblano pepper, yellow bell pepper, anaheim pepper
  • rainbow chard
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tBs cumin
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken stock if you’re not vegan)

Start with cooking rice, according to package, 2 cups of rice.

  1. heat a saute pan over medium high heat. dice potato, coat bottom of pan with olive oil and add potatoes to pan. season with salt and pepper, cook potatoes until they are golden brown.
  2. peel and thinly slice ginger into math sticks. thinly slice peppers, chop chard starting at the stalks making your way up to the leafy tops, finely chop garlic cloves.
  3. add veggies to pan ending with chard. mix everything together lower heat to medium. sprinkle in cumin and a pinch of salt. saute for about 5 minutes.
  4. pour in vegetable broth and beans. stir and let everything simmer together for about 10 minutes.

To serve: spoon stew into a bowl and top with a scoop of brown rice.

Save the leftovers to enjoy for the rest of the week! TIP: store rice and stew separately

Vegan Quinoa Pasta

This is the perfect feel better bowl of pasta! I have the dreadful winter cold and nothing tastes good and I’m sick of soup. I felt like something hearty and warm but not too complicated with flavors. Also, I wanted to incorporate lots of healthy vitamin C packed veggies like peppers and chard.

Did you know that bell peppers, hot chili peppers, broccoli and dark leafy greens have more vitamin C than an orange! These super star veggies are naturally lower in sugar too. So stay ahead of the cold season by eating more vitamin C packed veggies weekly and your body will thank you.

I made a tasty Quinoa & Veggie Pasta and without even trying I made it vegan.


  • 1 pkg quinoa spaghetti

    Vegan Quinoa Pasta

    Vegan Quinoa Pasta

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 anaheim pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 4 stalks of rainbow chard
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chunk of ginger
  • 1 tBs garam masala
  • 3 tbs of tamarind sauce or soy sauce
  • salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  1. Boil water for pasta and cook according to package.
  2. Peel ginger and garlic and thinly slice. Thinly slice peppers. Thinly slice stalks of chard working your way up to leafy tops.
  3. Heat large saute pan over high heat and coat with olive oil. Toss in peppers, ginger, garlic and chard. Cook for about 5 minutes then add garam marsala and salt & pepper.
  4. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and add to saute pan. Drizzle with olive oil and add tamarind sauce.
  5. Mix everything together and give it a taste. Add more pasta water, tamarind sauce and olive oil if needed.

Orphan Thanksgiving at JJ’s Way

The Menu:

  • Bison Tri-Tip¬†¬†Smoked on on the Webber over mesquite
  • Roasted Duck ¬†Rubbed in Chinese five spice
  • Cornbread Stuffing ¬†With apples and bacon
  • Green Beans and Wild Mushrooms¬† Baked with parmesan cheese and bacon bits
  • Cranberry Chutney

The Party…

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Thanks for Not Making Turkey Shopping List

I can’t wait to cook up some seriously delicious food for my Giving Thanks Feast! There will be no turkey served at my house and I don’t think it will be missed. Here’s my shopping list and a peak at what will be served at JJ’s Way…

Gobble gobble…

Run Free Turkeys!

Shopping List

  • Bison Tri-Tip
  • Duck


  • Cornbread, Chicken Stock, Celery, Apples, Onion, Sage, Pork Sausage

Cranberry Chutney:

  • Cranberries, Oranges, Maple Syrup


Green beans and Wild Mushrooms:

Green Beans, Wild Mushrooms, Parmesan Cheese, Bacon


What Maia Wants Maia Gets

What Maia Wants Maia Gets

This insanely delicious meal started with me making my daughter carry home two whole organic chickens that were on sale at Whole Foods for .99 cents a pound. I would have been happy to carry them home myself but, I work there and didn’t get off until after the store closed. We only live a few blocks away but these were two heavy chickens! She was not happy about this at all. But then she looks at me and says…can you make some fried chicken? I of course had to agree and what followed was a whole menu of things she misses about Texas…

Maia says…”and can you make sweet tea? But, not your sweet tea, mom. The sweet tea like Granny Anne makes!” I hate making tea that sweet but she did carry 8lbs. of chicken home for me. “And can you make fried okra, too? And nothing healthy, mom. Don’t try to make any of this healthy!” “Okay, Maia.” What Maia wants Maia gets. I made her exactly what she asked for. My house was quiet for about ten minutes after I finished this journey of making our Texas style feast. ¬†She even had to grab a bigger plate because the small little salad plate she usually uses wasn’t going to hold all the love she was piling on her plate!

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JJ’s Mediterranean Wrap

My Mediterranean wrap came to be after one of those moments when you wake up and you’re starving and there is nothing easily accesible to eat in the¬†kitchen. Usually I have some eggs I can whip up quickly but there were no eggs in the fridge. Which was fine because I don’t really like eggs, but I’m still hungry! I opened the pantry and it was like looking at pieces of a puzzle, so many random ingredients. I wonder, what can I throw together without much prep or work involved. And then, like a mystery being unravelled I begin to see the clues. As I look around the kitchen the ingredients highlight themselves. I start pulling out what has been revealed and begin to put the pieces of my puzzle together. My stomach will soon be rewarded. The best part of my¬†wrap…it’s so easy to make and requires no cooking. Perfect for the summer time when you’re trying to keep the kitchen as cool as possible!

Mediterranean Wrap












Pieces of the puzzle:

  • 15oz can of chick peas
  • 3 tBs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 of lemon¬†
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup of green olives
  • 1 garlic clove
  • spinach tortilla
  • romaine lettuce
  • sheep’s milk feta

-Drain and rinse chick peas. Pour into a bowl and add in; olive oil, juice from lemon, salt and pepper. With a fork or masher, lightly mash peas.

-With a garlic press add garlic to bowl. Slice olives and add to bowl. Stir everything together and give it a taste. Add salt and pepper if needed.

-Warm tortilla and start building your wrap!

  1. lay a piece of lettuce on tortilla
  2. spoon chick pea mixture over lettuce
  3. crumble feta over everything
  4. wrap it up and eat!

JJ’s Mediterranean Wrap


I’m not a big gadget person but I do have a few small gadgets in my kitchen that I use often and love. Like my KitchenAid stand mixer and food processor. I use those two small appliances often. They each have their specific purpose and can be used for a variety of things. But, what I can’t do in them is make a healthy drink with all the super foods I like so much. They’re just not designed to “pulverize” food into a smooth drink.

I am a believer in the health value of raw foods and I like the idea of being able to throw foods like kale, chard and beets with some fruits like blueberries and citrus in one container and extract all those super nutrients they hold, into one drink. After a little research I decided to buy the NutriBullet. It’s small and takes up very little space and works perfectly. It’s quick and easy to use. All you have to do is buy your veggies and fruits and toss them in the canister for a healthy and beneficial drink that your body will love! You don’t even have to peel or skin ¬†anything. You actually want the skin on because of the essential oils and nutrients they have.

Here’s my first drink I made in my new gadget. I ran down to the farmers market and picked up some veggies for my super power drink which makes it even better, I think. Love Farmers Markets!

  • 2 kale leaves
  • 1 swiss chard leaf
  • 1/2 yellow beet diced
  • few sprigs of mint leaves
  • 1 nectarine
  • handful of blueberries

Just put everything in the bullet (cleaned of course), fill with ice cold water to line and blend away. It only takes a minute!

My First Super Food Smoothie

Farmers Market Vegetables

Super Powers Drink

Life from Seeds

For the past six months I’ve taken all the leftover vegetables that I cook with… seeds and all, and spread them around my patio. I don’t have a lot of dirt space. It’s mostly a concrete patio but I do have a long built in patio box and some potted plants. I’ve done nothing scientific or specific with the planting. I’ve basically just thrown the vegetables in some dirt and lightly covered it with more dirt. I figured if anything I was giving food back to the earth. Now that it is springtime I am seeing quite a bit of growth in my little garden! And, since I have no idea what I’ve thrown where,¬†it is going to be a nice surprise if and when I start seeing some delicious foods waiting to be picked! Here’s a peek at what’s growing…

A Buried Pumpkin

A Buried Pumpkin

Some Peppers Possibly

Some Peppers Possibly

Veggies Growing

Veggies Growing

Some More Buried Seeds

Some More Buried Seeds

A Very Large Vine

A Very Large Vine

Got Avocado!

Got Avocado!

A Happy Kangaroo Paw (not from seeds)

A Happy Kangaroo Paw (not from seeds…)

Fluorescent Cactus

Fluorescent Cactus

My 8 yr old Rose Bush...with me since Texas!

My 8 yr old Rose Bush…with me since Texas!

Built in Patio Box

Built in Patio Box

JJ’s Top 5 Potato Vodkas

While researching for a recipe on a new drink I’ve been enjoying, I discovered I could not find an easy link to reference on Potato Vodkas. I prefer the taste and smoothness of a potato vodka over any grain, corn or grape vodka. Some even say potato vodkas are less harsh for hangovers. Could be myth, could be true, could just be up to you. I’ll let you decide. I’ve put together a list of my top 5 picks. Judge for yourself…

  1. Chopin Potato Vodka: By far the smoothest and most delicious potato vodka. Great in a dirty martini (extra cold)! Pricey and worth every penny.
  2. Karlsson’s Gold Vodka: I’ve only just discovered this potato vodka but it is definitely a very close runner up to Chopin. Pricey but worth it.
  3. Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka: Another new discovery, I really like that they seem to love making their vodka! “Two guys and a copper pot still”. Pricey.¬†
  4. Blue Ice Potato Vodka: It’s made from American Idaho potatoes. It’s very reasonably priced and great for those of us on tight budgets! Better for mixed drinks.
  5. Monopolowa Potato Vodka: You cannot beat the price on this vodka and it’s quite good. A great well spirit perfect for entertaining large parties or for mixed cocktails.¬†

Chicken Verde Tortilla Soup


  • 4 Chicken Thighs (on the bone)
  • 4 Corn Tortillas

    Chicken Verde Tortilla Soup

  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1-2 Mexican Squash (or zucchini)
  • 1 Poblano Pepper
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 6 cups Chicken Stock
  • Tomatillo Sauce
  • Sour Cream
  • Cilantro
  1. Heat dutch oven over high heat. When pot is hot drizzle with olive oil to coat the bottom. Lay Chicken thighs in skin side down. Season with salt and brown for 10 minutes each side.
  2. In the meantime slice tortillas into thin strips. set aside.
  3. dice celery, squash, poblano pepper and red onion. finely chop garlic and set aside.
  4. remove chicken from pot, lower heat to medium and toss in tortilla strips. brown strips until golden in color and crispy. remove from pot, season with a little salt and set aside.
  5. drain some oil from pan and place chicken back into pot. add all the veggies to pot and saute for about 5 minutes then cover with chicken stock.
  6. Let the soup simmer on low for about 30 minutes.
When ready to serve remove skin from  chicken and gently losen meat from bone. The bone adds extra flavor and makes for a delicious and rustic soup. Garnish soup with crispy tortilla strips, a dollop of sour cream, tomatillo sauce and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

Bowl of Chicken Verde Tortilla Soup with Cheesy Quesadilla

Amazing Tempranillo Rose’

Tempranillo Rose'

This Tempranillo Rose’ is my new favorite wine! It may just be a screw top wine bottle but it is ¬† ¬† Delicious!

Don’t be fooled by it’s beautiful pink color. This is NOT a white zinfandel. It is a dry wine with a hint of fruity aromas and a light touch of tannins. It is a perfectly balanced Rose’. Easy enough to drink on it’s own or with a variety of foods. Perfect for these last days of summer heat!

Go out and find yourself a bottle! If you’re in the LA area I got this bottle at Beverage Warehouse.

JJ’s Sesame Chicken


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast

    JJ's Sesame Chicken

    JJ's Sesame Chicken

  • 3 tSp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tBs cornstarch
  • 3 tBs ginger powder
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 2 green bell pepper
  • 2 small yellow or white onion
  • 1 pineapple (if canned use chunky)
  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 tBs garlic powder
  • 2 cups soyvay teriyaki or soyaki (trader joe’s)
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish
  1. cook rice according to package and add garlic powder to pot. once rice is done turn off heat but keep covered until ready to serve. (use rice cooker if you have one!)
  2. lay chicken breast out on plastic cutting board. with a sharp knife slice each breast open then slice into thin strips. place in a bowl. add sesame oil and season with a little salt. coat everything together.
  3. pour oil in wok and turn on heat to high. in a small bowl mix flour, cornstarch and ginger powder together. slowly add flour mixture to chicken mixing and coating chicken with flour.
  4. once oil is hot lay in a handful of chicken. fry until crispy about 3-5 minutes. remove to a paper towel. (fry chicken in batches)
  5. while chicken is frying slice pineapple and vegetables. chop top and bottom off pineapple. then slice off skin lengthwise. now cut downward lengthwise around the core to remove core. slice pineapple into thick pieces. cut bell pepper open, remove seeds and slice into strips. slice onion into strips.
  6. drain oil from wok. turn heat to medium high and add pineapple. let pineapple brown for about 5 minutes then remove from wok and set aside. add onion and bell pepper to wok and cook for about 10 minutes mixing a few times. (you want veggies to still be crunchy still) remove from wok and set aside in a large bowl.
  7. turn heat to low and pour in soyvay teriyaki. add chicken and mix together until well coated in sauce. pour into bowl with veggies and mix that all together. now it’s time to plate!

Place a scoop of rice onto plate. spoon sesame chicken and veggies over rice, add some pineapple and garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Eat and Enjoy!

Episode #2 “Creamy Cumin Sauce”

Watch the latest show from Cooking JJ’s Way! I made my Creamy Cumin Sauce with Chicken inspired by one of LA’s popular food trucks!

JJ's Creamy Cumin Sauce w/Chicken and Roasted Tomatoes

JJ’s Easy Lebanese Mezza

Sometimes I get that craving for some good old down home cooking. For me, that’s Lebanese food. I grew up eating it and it’s definitely my comfort food! However, my family recipes handed down over the generations are not simple recipes to throw¬† together. They are very delicious and worth every hour spent in the kitchen preparing them, but after a long week of catering I’m not usually up for it. These recipes I’ve come up with are quite simple to throw together and you can make enough for leftovers throughout the week with out spending hours in the kitchen. They are also very healthy! After combing my pantry for the traditional Lebanese ingredients I usually have on hand and thinking how could I simplify the recipes I grew up with but still have a delicious Lebanese Mezza? I came up with this easy way to enjoy my childhood favorite foods without a huge production! Here is my version of a simple and very delicious Lebanese Mezze…

Lebanese Sandwich


JJ’s Lamb Meatballs:

  • 1 lb of ground lamb
  • 3 tbs of ground sumac (arabic spice)
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
  • salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  1. in a work bowl add; lamb, sumac, fennel seed and salt & pepper. mix everything together (with your hands) until well incorporated. roll into small oval shaped balls.
  2. heat saute pan over medium high heat and drizzle pan with olive oil. once pan is hot lay meatballs in. let sear until there is a nice caramelized coating on the outside and flip meat balls over. repeat. pop a lid and lower heat to low and let simmer about 15 minutes.

While the Lamb simmers prepare the rest of the Mezze…

JJ’s Tabouli:

  • 1/4 cup extra fine bulgur
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 3 green onion stems (or scallions)
  • 6 roma tomatoes
  • 2 lemons
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • boiling water
  1. in a small stainless steel or glass bowl add bulgur, cover with 1/2 cup of boiling water and cover with plastic wrap. set aside while chopping veggies…
  2. shave parsley leaves from stems with sharp knife. then finely chop parsley and add to a bowl. finely dice tomatoes and add to bowl. thinly slice green onion and to bowl. season with salt and pepper. squeeze in juice from lemon.
  3. scoop bulgur in hand and squeeze out excess water than add to tabouli bowl. season with a little more salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and mix together. taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

JJ’s Bulgur with Toasted Vermicelli:

  • 1/2 cup extra coarse bulgur
  • 1/2 cup of dried cherries (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup vermicelli noodles
  • 2 tbs butter
  • salt & pepper
  • boiling water
  1. heat a saute pan over medium high heat. melt butter in pan and add vermicelli. season with salt & pepper and toast until noodles are golden brown.
  2. remove from pan and add to stainless steel or glass bowl. add in bulgur and cherries. season with salt & pepper, pour in boiling water (about 1 1/2 cups. just enough to cover grains) and cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Bulgur with Toasted Vermicelli is done once water has absorbed and bulgur and vermicelli is tender. about 5 minutes.

JJ’s Hummus:

  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbs sesame paste
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  1. in the work bowl of a food processor pour in; beans, juice from 2 lemons and sesame paste. season with a little salt and pop the lid on. set processor to puree and drizzle olive oil (through the feed tube) until hummus is smooth and creamy texture. (add a little water or lemon juice to thin if needed)
  2. taste hummus, add more lemon and or salt if needed.

Serve everything with Lebanese pita or lavash bread, sliced avocado and Lebni!

Episode #1 “Cilantro Crusted Fish Tacos”

Check out our pilot episode for Cooking JJ’s Way…

JJ’s Picasso Pizza

One of my favorite things to make for my daughter is pizza! We love pizza in my family and making them at home can be lots of fun. The dough becomes a blank canvas and the end results are your very own delicious works of art. Now,being the obsessed foodie that I am, I had to come up with the perfect dough. The store bought versions were not cutting it. But, the dough had to be simple enough to throw together the day we wanted pizza. I researched a few different recipes and tested them out. I came up with my own little version that works beautifully and is quite delicious! This dough takes a few hours to rise so you can make it early and come back to it when it’s time to make pizza.¬†I use all different kinds of toppings and sauces for my pizzas. My favorite sauce is a white sauce but people who’ve had my pizza fell in love with my tomato sauce. It’s nothing fancy but it will slow dance with your taste buds leaving you drooling for more!


JJ's Picasso Pizza


  • 2 cups Bread Flour
  • 1 tbs Sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Instant Yeast
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup Warm Water

Directions for preparing dough:

  1. using a standing mixer; place 1 cup of flour in bowl, add sugar, salt, garlic powder and instant yeast. pour in remaining flour and olive oil. fit mixer with paddle attachment. turn on low speed, slowly pour in warm water until dough comes together forming a ball. (you may not use all the water)
  2. remove paddle, coat dough hook with oil and attach to mixer. knead dough for 15 minutes on medium speed. tear a piece of dough off and flatten into a disc. stretch the dough until thin if it doesn’t tear it’s ready. if it tears knead 5-10 minutes more. (don’t be discouraged. this is never an exact science.)
  3. roll dough into a smooth ball on countertop. place in a glass or stainless steel bowl, add a little olive oil and mix dough around covering in oil. cover with plastic wrap and let rise at least 2 hours, in a cool spot. you can make it a day ahead and let it rise overnight in fridge.
  4. After dough has risen: cut dough in half with knife. flatten dough into a disk and fold under into a ball. repeat with other half. cover balls with a tea towel and let rest for 30 minutes.¬†Now is the time to prep toppings for pizza. Preheat oven to 450…

JJ’s Pizza Sauce:

  • 3 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 15 0z can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • about a 1/4 cup chicken stock (for thinning sauce)
  • Toppings: smoked provolone, mozzarella, parmesean cheese. fresh garlic and onion. green olives, sun dried tomato sausage and turkey pepperoni
  1. pour fire roasted tomatoes into a small sauce pot. heat over medium low heat. add in tomato paste and oregano. season with a little salt & pepper. give it a stir, if sauce is thick thin with a little stock. cover and simmer while you get pizza toppings ready.
  2. grate cheese. slice olives, thinly slice sausage, dice onion and chop garlic.
  3. Back to dough: dust counter with flour. flatten dough out using hands (or rolling pin) form a lip around edge of dough. stretch dough rotating all around. until you have a thin round pizza dough. repeat with other half.

I use a pizza stone on the very bottom rack of my oven closest to the heat. If you don’t have a pizza stone place dough directly on cookie sheet add toppings and place in oven. If using a pizza stone….

6. ¬†lightly flour pizza peel, gently transfer dough to peel. lightly shake peel to make sure dough doesn’t stick. quickly add toppings and slide pizza onto pizza stone. repeat with other pizza dough.

7.  bake for about 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Remove pizza and let it rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Rich and Hearty Beef Stew

Every now and then I screw up a dish or meal I’m preparing. I did that on Christmas-eve with a filet mignon roast I had picked up on sale at the market. I’m not a big fan of roasts but I figured it was filet mignon surely I can work with it. I couldn’t and the meal was far from delicious! I couldn’t just toss out all this meat though, so after a day of contemplating what to do with my leftover disaster, ¬†I made this very delicious stew!


Rich and Hearty Beef Stew


  • 1/2 lb filet mignon roast (or any beef roast)
  • 8-12 fingerling potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  1. let roast come to room temperature. season with salt and peppers and drizzle with olive oil.
  2. heat a large stock or soup pot over high heat. coat pot with olive oil and just when it starts to smoke, place roast in pot. sear on all sides until golden brown. remove from pot.
  3. while roast is searing; peel and slice carrots into hearty pieces, roughly chop onion, peel and finely chop garlic, slice potatoes in half and slice celery into hearty pieces.
  4. add half of the onions and potatoes to pot, lower heat to medium, season with salt and pepper and saute for a few minutes. put roast back into pot and cover with chicken stock, scraping bits off the bottom of pot. cover pot and let simmer 45-60 minutes until roast is tender and falling apart.
  5. remove any fat from roast now (should fall right off) and break meat up. add the rest of the potatoes and onion. add carrots, celery and garlic. cover again and lower heat to low. let simmer 30-45 minutes more until veggies are tender. (add more liquid if needed)

Serve up stew in a big bowl with some buttermilk biscuits and you’ve got a hearty, comforting and delicious meal!

Cooking Time: approximately 2 hours

JJ’s Minestrone Soup

Every week or two I do a little inventory on what’s in the pantry and fridge so I can restock and cook whatever I have left from catering jobs or video shoots. One of the best, yet easiest things to cook when cleaning out the fridge is Minestrone Soup. It’s never an exact science. Use whatever veggies and meat (if you’ve got it) in the soup. In my pantry, I like to keep stocked: canned tomatoes, chicken stock and different kinds of beans. And, I always have some kind of pasta or rice leftover from catering. I used sandwich bread for some garlic toast to serve alongside my Minestrone Soup. With these simple ingredients you can make a delicious, hearty and healthy pot of homemade soup!

What I had on hand…

  • 1 yellow onion

    Minestrone Soup

  • 2 handfuls turkey peperoni
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbs fennel seed
  • 15 oz can cannellini beans
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • grated parmesan cheese
  1. heat soup pot over medium heat. dice onion, drizzle pot with olive oil and scoop in onions.
  2. rough chop turkey peperoni and add to pot. dice carrots and celery and add to pot. roughly chop garlic, add to pot. season with salt and pepper and mix everything up.
  3. pour in can of whole tomatoes. add fennel seed and grate in nutmeg. let simmer for about fifteen minutes.
  4. after soup has simmered, use a potato masher to break up tomatoes until tomatoes are a chunky consistancy. add cannellini beans and chicken stock and let come to a soft boil again then lower heat to low cover and let simmer about ten minutes more.

Serve alongside garlic toast and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Makes about 4-6 servings

JJ’s Creamy Cumin Sauce

Indian Butter Chicken

I made my own version of an Indian dish I love and eat often at one of LA’s trendy food trucks. This sauce is simple but beautifully exotic. It’s made with the popular spice cumin and a few other basic ingredients. Trust me though, there is nothing basic about this sauce! I’ve used the sauce over chicken, pork, tofu and shrimp. Use whatever form of protein you prefer. It can easily be made as a vegan sauce too. Use a soy creamer in place of half and half, omit butter substituting it for olive oil or vegan butter.

My recipe for Indian Butter Chicken:

  • 1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tbs butter (softened)
  • 3 tbs cumin
  • 4 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1/2¬† cup half and half
  • 1 cup basamati rice
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  1. follow directions on package for making basmati rice.
  2. heat pan over high heat, drizzle with olive oil, season chicken with salt and pepper. (once pan is hot) lay chicken in pan, sear until there is a golden brown crust on chicken. flip and sear other side. remove from pan and set aside (finish cooking in sauce later).
  3. heat same pan over medium heat, add butter and a few drizzles of olive oil. add in cumin, stir.
  4. either in a garlic press or with a zester, add garlic to pan and mix together. stir in tomato sauce and finish with half and half.
  5. slice chicken into 1 inch strips and add back to pan. stir and simmer for ten minutes (covered).

Serve over basmati rice with some warmed naan bread on the side and Enjoy!

Serves about 4.

Try a little crushed red pepper for an extra kick!

Cilantro Crusted Halibut Tacos W/Crispy Prosciutto

When I came up with this recipe, I had a few different leftover ingredients from various cooking jobs. I started putting ideas together in my head and got to cooking. What came out of the kitchen were these decadent Cilantro Crusted Fish Tacos!

I picked up some Alaskan Halibut on sale at the market but when I made it for my cooking show, I had to use Alaskan Cod. Halibut can be pricey but if you can afford it, use it! It’s a delicious white fish. Known as the “steak” of the ocean. Whatever fish you choose, you’ll want a thick cut of fish for this recipe. The ingredients for these tacos are quite basic and simple but the flavor is amazing! You won’t miss the lack of cheese or sour cream found in most tacos. The fish and prosciutto shine brightly together. If you’re a cilantro hater, just leave it out. The tacos will still be delicious.

Cilantro Crusted Halibut Tacos


  • 4 halibut fillets (or Cod)
  • cilantro
  • 1 pkg prosciutto
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • lettuce
  • 1 lime (+ zest)
  • corn tortillas

Serves 4-6

  1. preheat oven to 350. rinse halibut and pat dry. remove leaves of cilantro from stems and run knife over leaves until you have a finely chopped pile of cilantro. zest the lime.
  2. lightly cover halibut with olive oil. season with salt and pepper, then pat cilantro onto fish (set aside).  heat oven safe skillet over medium high heat and drizzle olive oil.
  3. thinly slice prosciutto and add to skillet. let brown and crisp and remove from pan. set aside.
  4. add fish to skillet. cook for about 3-5 minutes. in the meantime thinly slice shallot and garlic.
  5. gently flip halibut over, turn off heat and add shallots and garlic to skillet. transfer skillet to oven and finish cooking, about 5 minutes.
  6. run knife through lettuce a few times. heat corn tortillas. remove fish from oven.

Lay lettuce on tortillas. Take pieces of halibut and lay on top of lettuce. Spoon a little sauce from pan over tacos, crumble crispy prosciutto over tacos and garnish with slices of lime.

Banana Muffins with Coffee Liqueur

Banana Muffins with Coffee Liqueur

Got some extra ripe bananas you’re about to throw out? Well don’t! Make these muffins! If you don’t have time to make them now, peel the bananas and store them in the freezer for later. This recipe is EASY too so give it a try!


  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (a pinch)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur
  • 3 ripe bananas smashed
  • few dashes of cinnamon
  1. heat oven to 400
  2. In one bowl mix together dry ingredients. Make a well in the center
  3. In another bowl mix together half and half, egg, oil, coffee liqueur, pour into center of dry ingredients and stir until incorporated.
  4. add smashed bananas and cinnamon, mix together. (it should be lumpy. you want pieces of banana in there).
  5. grease muffin pan with butter (or cooking spray) pour muffin mix into pan. if you want to have a little fun top the muffins with small pats of butter!
  6. bake 15-20 minutes

Eat Banana Muffins w/Coffee Liqueur hot out of the oven or store in an air tight container in a cool dry place for a few days. They will definitely get eaten up before they ever go bad!

Making Manoushe

We had a lot of fun testing a recipe for Manoushe. Manoushe is like the Lebanese version of pizza. Man was ours good! Check out the photos from our recipe testing session…

The dough for Manoushe

working the dough

rolling out dough

rolling out dough

rolled out manoushe

spread with zaatar! yum!

hot out of the oven!

toppings for manoushe

going to roll it up!

it's like a lebanese calzone!

Spaghetti with Stuffed Meatballs

This is one of my favorite dishes to make and it’s a crowd pleaser too! I use a combination of extra lean ground beef and mild Italian sausage and I omit the traditional bread crumbs/egg step but add stuffing the meatballs with cheese! It makes meatballs fun again! If your not a beef or pork eater, it’s pretty easy to find turkey Italian sausage in most super markets these days. Season with these spices and roll turkey Italian sausage into meatballs. (you may want to add bread crumbs and egg back in if you’re using turkey sausage).

I use these meatballs to make Meatball Subs for my teenager too. It’s one of her favorite foods and I’d much rather make them homemade than have her eat them out. This way I can control the quality and freshness of the ingredients.

For the cheese, I use fresh mozzarella to stuff the meatballs with.¬† I’ve used other cheeses like semi soft goat cheese and even blue cheese for a truly rich flavor. Whatever cheese you use make sure it’s a creamy semi hard cheese and never shredded. Or just skip the cheese and you will still have delicious but easy, homemade meatballs!


  • 1.5 lb extra lean ground beef (96/4)
  • 4 mild italian sausage links
  • fresh mozzarella (soaked in water)
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 medium size white onion (diced)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • parmesan cheese
  1. slice cheese into 2 in cubes to stuff into meatballs. get pasta water on stove over high heat and cover.
  2. For the meatballs: in a large bowl add in 1 lb of beef (reserve some for sauce), remove sausage from casing and add to bowl, add in dried herbs and seasoning and mix it all together until well combined
  3. roll palm size balls in hand. then make a well in middle with thumb, push in cheese, press the top closed and roll again. set aside. repeat until done. make about 12 meatballs.
  4. heat a large pan over medium high heat. drizzle with olive oil. once pan is hot add meatballs. do not over crowd them. do it in batches if your pan is not big enough. you want to sear the outsides and then remove from pan. (they will finish cooking in the sauce) once they have a nice crust on the outside remove from pan and set aside.
  5. in the same pan, add in onion. season with salt and pepper. turn the heat down to medium medium low and let the onions sweat. scrape the bottom of the pan to help release the bits left in pan from the meatballs.
  6. check pasta water and drop pasta into boiling water. don’t forget to salt the water! drop garlic into pan with onions, mix together and then add reserved ground beef, season with salt & pepper. turn heat up again to medium high and let the meat brown. about 5 minutes. check pasta and drain when it’s done. should have a nice bite to it not too chewy and not too mushy.
  7. once meat is browned, add in crushed tomatoes and fire roasted tomatoes. add meatballs back to pan. turn heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.
  8. drain pasta. remove meatballs from sauce, pour pasta into sauce and coat the spaghetti in the sauce. pour spaghetti out onto a platter and add stuffed meatballs on top. garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Serve with your favorite glass of wine! It’s a great dish to serve at a dinner party or for your starving teenagers like mine!

Simple Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

This Strawberry Ice Cream is quite simple to make and best of all, it requires no cooking. The hardest part of this recipe is sieving the strawberry puree to remove the seeds and it’s not really hard just a little time consuming. I love strawberries and their in season right now too. They were on sale at the market, buy one get one free, so I picked up two pints. I like strawberries with my champagne or even with some good brie. Since I had a lot of berries, I decided I’d make homemade ice cream. It’s really easy to make ice cream these days with all the cool ice cream makers out there. And, it’s much healthier. I used only 2 tsp of sugar and let the natural sugars in the strawberries shine. I used half and half instead of heavy cream. You can substitute 2% or 1% milk but the ice cream will have an icy texture.

Follow instructions for your ice cream maker. I keep mine in the freezer so I can pull it out whenever I’m ready to make ice cream.


  • 1 pint of strawberries
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 cups half and half (cold)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  1. cut the tops off strawberries and then cut in half. place strawberries in a food processor and puree. pour into a sieve set over a bowl or 4 cup measuring glass. with a spoon mix and press strawberry puree through sieve to remove the seeds. (this takes a little time). you should end up with 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of strawberry puree.
  2. add sugar and lemon juice to strawberries. mix together. add half and half and almond extract and stir together.
  3. turn on ice cream maker and pour mix in. let churn for 40 – 50 minutes, until ice cream is thick.

That’s it! I put mine in a container and let it harden some more in the freezer or store until ready to eat.

sieving strawberry puree

seeded strawberry puree



Green Tea Ice Cream with Crushed Ginger Cookies

This is one of my favorite desserts! It’s perfect after our at home sashimi night too! It’s quite simple to throw together.

Take a few ginger cookies and place them in a sealed bag. Wack them a few times with a rolling pin or small pot. Scoop some green tea ice cream in a bowl and sprinkle with crushed ginger cookies.

Fully Loaded Pasta

This pasta dish was so delicious! I was a little nervous making it because I had so many random ingredients. I had some leftover  foods from a catering gig and some other food from my fridge. I wanted to make food for the weekend and I kept thinking what can I do with some of this food I already have without having to go to the store. When you cook for a living, you live at the store. The last place I want to go is a grocery store just for food for the weekend.

Leftover from the catering gig, I had, garlic stuffed olives and kalamata olives that I put in the food processor and made an olive tapenade. I had a¬† box of rotini pasta (the corkscrew pasta), a red bell pepper and some blue cheese crumbles. I was going to lie and say I had prosciutto but I didn’t have any prosciutto. What I had was a lot of bacon that I had picked up on sale somewhere along the way. I had some turkey peperoni that I keep around for my daughter to snack on too. So. I used some bacon and turkey peperoni. The bacon is similar to prosciutto except it’s smoked so it added a nice smokey layer of flavor to the dish!


  • 1 lb. box Rotini Pasta
  • 6-8 kalamata olives
  • 6-8 garlic stuffed olives
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • olive oil
  • 1 16 oz can of crushed tomoatoes
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • handful of turkey peperoni
  • 1/2 cup of blue cheese crumbles
  1. boil water for pasta. heat a large pan over medium high heat. slice bacon into bite size pieces and add to pan. roughly chop peperoni and add to pan. mix together and let brown. (once bacon and peperoni are browned and crispy remove to a paper towel).
  2. in the meantime, add olives, red bell pepper and bay leaf to food processor. slowly pour in olive oil (about a 1/2 cup) and puree.
  3. turn the heat down to low and add olive puree to pan. pour in can of crushed tomatoes and let simmer together for about 15 minutes. once pasta is cooked drain and add it to the sauce. coat pasta with sauce. add bacon, peperoni and blue cheese and toss together.

Now plate it up and Enjoy!

Buttermilk Scrambled Eggs with Broccoli and Garlic

Oh. My. God. These eggs are so good! Give this recipe a try. It’s simple to make and healthy!

If you’re not used to cooking with buttermilk, don’t be afraid of it. It sometimes gets a bad rap. Maybe because it has “butter” in it’s name people automatically assume it must be bad. Most people think it’s a high fat and buttery milk. It is not. It’s low in fat and adds a delicious tangy and creamy texture to biscuits or pancakes and now these eggs! Some people actually just drink it straight up. It has a crazy long shelf life too so I usually have some in the fridge leftover from a pancake or biscuit morning.


  1. 2 eggs
  2. 1/8 cup of buttermilk (about 3 tbs.)
  3. handful of broccoli florets (1/2 cup)
  4. 1 garlic clove
  5. 1 tbs. butter
  6. some grated cheese (i had smoked provolone)
  7. optional: sour cream, salsa and tortillas

roughly chop broccoli.

heat a skillet over medium heat. add butter to pan. (i like to add a little olive oil too. helps the butter not to burn). add broccoli to skillet. season with salt & pepper.

roughly chop garlic and add to skillet. lower heat to low. let broccoli sweat a few minutes. in the meantime…

beat eggs with buttermilk.

pour eggs into skillet. let the eggs cook for a minute before stirring. then slowly scramble eggs. keep the heat on low.

once eggs are scrambled, add cheese. turn off heat. cover skillet with a lid and let the cheese melt.

Now Eat and Enjoy!

JJ’s Homemade Pesto

There’s a billion recipes for pesto and then there is always the store bought brands. I’ve never tried the store bought versions but I imagine for me, it’s like store bought hummus, I hate it! Pesto is so easy to make yourself so pull out your food processor and whip up a batch. Measurements don’t have to be exact for this so just have fun.


  • large bundle of basil
  • parmesan cheese (i prefer whole parmesan and grate it myself in the food processor)
  • pine nuts
  • extra virgin olive oil

– If using whole parmesan, put the grater attachment on food processor and grate cheese. you’ll need about 2 cups (about 1 block of cheese). empty cheese out into a bowl.

– put blade back in food processor bowl and pour in 1 cup of pine nuts. pull leaves off basil stem and add to food processor (about a cup), add cheese in. season with a pinch of salt (not a lot because the cheese is a little salty) and cracked pepper.

– Place the lid on and set processor on puree setting. slowly drizzle in olive oil until it’s well blended and creamy. about 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Store your homemade pesto in the fridge for later use or enjoy over your favorite pasta right away!

Try JJ’s Homemade Pesto with linguine and shrimp for a quick and delicious meal.

Directions: cook linguine to desired texture drain pasta but save a cup of pasta water. heat a saute pan over medium heat. drizzle with olive oil. grate a few garlic cloves into pan (or finely chop garlic). add shrimp and let it cook until shrimp turns pink. about 5-10 minutes (shrimp cooks fast). pour shrimp, pasta and homemade pesto into a bowl and mix it all together. dilute with reserved pasta water if sauce is too thick, adding a little bit at a time.

JJ’s Sexy Bitch Martini

The most delicious cocktail EVER!

The Goods:

  • raspberry infused vodka
  • limeade (or roses lime juice)
  • ginger-ale (i tried a green tea ginger-ale shown in photo)

fill a martini shaker with ice.

  • pour 4 oz of vodka and 2 oz of limeade in and shake.
  • strain into chilled martini glasses and top with ginger-ale.

AAHHHH! Now enjoy your Sexy Bitch!

Clam Chowder and Steamed Artichoke

Another super simple meal… all for my biggest fan and critic! My daughter.
I don’t always get much time to cook for her anymore but when I do I like to whip up some of her favorites! I came up with a simple and less heavy recipe for clam chowder. It was damn good too!

Maia used to love clam chowder when she was younger. But, in her pre-adult life she seems to have lost that once adoration she had for the heavenly comfort of clam chowder. Now, she eats taco b3:/ for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It’s annoying to know she eats this way after raising her on the importance of real food. I’m not worried though. She seems to know and understand all I’ve said and tried to teach her about food over the years. It’s just a phase. I get it. I went through one too. So I won’t lecture.

Maia does happen to still love steamed artichoke! So this menu wasn’t a total loss.

Clam Chowder Ingredients:
good chicken stock, Yukon gold potatoes, celery, shallot, garlic, milk, cornstarch, smoked clams, pancetta or prosciutto hock

Steamed Artichoke
artichoke, lemon, garlic, butter, salt and pepper










Rainy Day Bolognese


A rainy, cold, SoCal day begs for a big pot of bolognese!
I danced outside the box with this classic comfort food, making it with ground lamb and it was incredible!

My ingredient list:
Yellow onion, garlic, ground lamb, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, red wine, s&p

This is the ensemble of ingredients I had on hand. It was a simple but beautiful collaboration!





Something For The Kids

Cheetah and Her Mermaid <3

I had so much fun playing in the kitchen for our Halloween menu! My daughter is a senior in high school now. I feel our Halloween days are going to be limited or come to an end. She will be off doing her own adventurous and more grown up things very soon! But for now while I still have her attention and have her at home, I wanted us to have a good old fashioned, fun filled Halloween.

She’s been past the age of trick or treating for some time now. Nowadays we usually decorate our patio with old and new Halloween decorations…I have a box of decorations I’ve collected over the years of her growing up that she still gets excited to pull out! And, I love to get in the kitchen and make some fun fall festive foods. We all gather on the patio for a simple little party and hand out candy to all the adorable kids. My daughter still loves to see and and talk to all the little ones dressed up in their little costumes. She jumps up with the candy bowl every time she sees trick or treaters walking up!

Here’s a look at this years menu and some fun pictures of our night…




White Choco Ghost Bananas

White Choco Ghost Bananas

Apples w/Caramel Drizzle and Crispy Prosciutto

Apples w/Caramel Drizzle and Crispy Prosciutto

Trick or Treat JJ's Patio

Chocolate Dipped Orange Slices

Chocolate Dipped Orange Slices

These Two Tho

These Two Tho

Chicken Rolls Stuffed w/ Olive and Orange Zest and Parmigianno

Chicken Rolls Stuffed w/ Olive and Orange Zest and Parmigianno



You're Going to Hear Me Roar

You’re Going to Hear Me Roar



It's Batman!

It’s Batman!

Amira! <3


Cheetah and Her Mermaid <3

Cheetah and Her Mermaid‚̧

Partner in Crime

Partner in Crime

Laura Croft, a Cheetah and The Goddess

Laura Croft, a Cheetah and The Goddess

Laura Croft!

Laura Croft!

Last Call! The Mermaid conquered her pirate

Last Call! The Mermaid conquered her pirate





JJ’s D.I.Y. Elphaba Costume

Halloween is right around the corner! I had so much fun putting together this last minute DIY costume! Circa  Halloween 2012

cooking JJ's way

I decided last minute to participate this year for Halloween and dress up at my job. I work with food so I wanted something I could cook comfortably in all day and not feel like I was suffocating in some crazy costume. I’m not vey creative either and have no budget for this kind of stuff. It’s the day of Halloween and I have to be at work in a few hours, so I had to find whatever I needed at the drug store down the street. The shelves were pretty empty but I managed to find the most important items for my homemade DIY costume.

The idea for my costume popped in my head the night before Halloween. I guess my muses were whispering to me because I started dreaming of the play Wicked and how much I loved it and how much I loved Elphaba’s character. She is…

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