root beer float popsicles

Labor Day almost requires that our toes not leave the sand – summer can’t really be (almost) over, can it? Wimbledon, Fireworks and the Fourth of July had my attention just yesterday it seems. If you’re planning on celebrating and entertaining this weekend, try a fun and easy dessert that’s the epitome of summer and sunshine and kids running through the sprinklers. Below find two types of popsicles – a version for kids and adults (Root Beer float) and one for just the adults (fresh peach and Bellini). With the extra root beer, you can also make mini-root beer floats.

Mini root beer floats to go with the popsicles

Mini root beer floats to go with the popsicles

You can easily make these popsicles ahead to ease last minute rushing and preparation. Pass these popsicles around, kick your feet up and savor the last bites of summer.

4 1/2 cups A&W root beer
1/2 cup vanilla bean ice cream (softened)
1 Hershey’s milk chocolate bar
popsicle mold
cupcake liners


Slowly pour 4 1/2 cups of root beer into a large bowl. Once the fizzing has subsided, gently add 1/2 cup of softened vanilla bean ice cream to the bowl and stir slowly until melted into the root beer. Pour mixture into popsicle molds using a measuring cup with a spout (if possible).

The mixture will fizz a little bit more when poured into the molds due to the carbonation in the root beer. Once the fizzing has stopped, drop a few very small pieces of Hershey’s milk chocolate into each popsicle mold. The chocolate will float to the bottom and be in the first bite once these tasty treats are served.

Before removing frozen popsicles from their mold, cut a tiny hole in the bottom of the cupcake liners. Once the popsicles are out of the mold, push the popsicle stick through the cupcake liner to add a mini “drip tray.”

Arrange popsicles in a decorative ice bucket filled with ice and serve immediately. You can also place the popsicles on wax paper on a large dinner plate, stacking them into a few layers with wax paper between each layer and put into the freezer until you are ready to serve.



Also easy to make ahead – scoop vanilla bean ice cream into small mason jars and freeze. Load them on a tray when ready to serve and add the root beer and whipped cream.

fresh peach and bellini popsicles

2-3 large peaches, peeled and diced
2 cups+2Tb cranberry juice
1, 8 1/2 ounce bottle of prepared Bellini (find in your grocery store’s chilled spirits section)
fresh mint leaves
popsicle mold

A hint of mint

A hint of mint

Place peaches in a blender and add 1-2 Tb of cranberry juice. Blend until the peaches are pureed into a liquid – 30 seconds to one minute. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the 8 1/2 ounces of prepared Bellini and 2 cups of cranberry juice and mix with a large spoon.

Pour mixture into popsicle molds slowly using a measuring cup with a spout (if possible). Add a few fresh leaves of mint to every popsicle. The mint will float on the top but once the popsicle stick is inserted, the mint will be pushed further into the popsicle mold.

Freeze popsicles. Before removing frozen popsicles from their mold, cut a tiny hole in the bottom of cupcake liners. Once the popsicles are out of the mold, push the popsicle stick through the cupcake liner to add a mini “drip tray.”

Labor Day poolside dessert

Labor Day poolside dessert

Arrange popsicles in a decorative ice bucket filled with ice or pass around on a large tray with fresh mint leaves decorating the platter. Serve immediately. You can also place the popsicles on wax paper on a large dinner plate, stacking them into a few layers with wax paper between each layer and put into the freezer until you are ready to serve.

Garnish with fresh mint and serve on a large platter or in an ice bucket

Garnish with fresh mint and serve on a large platter or in an ice bucket

burrata and pesca ‘peach’ salad

My mom passed this scrumptious recipe on to me after attending a cooking class last weekend. She filled my inbox with a stream of images from the yummy dishes they were sampling and raved about this particular recipe so I couldn’t resist making it for myself.

As usual, my mom was right. The Burrata and Pesca is a blissful combination of “light and fresh,” ideal for the blazing hot days of August. Served on a simple white platter, all I can think of is “summer on a plate,” with the vibrant color, drizzles of flavor and variety of tastes. I loved the salad so much, I made it twice this week and it’s already on the menu for the weekend. Enjoy!

1 round of Burrata cheese (sliced)
2 fresh yellow peaches
1-2 Tb toasted Hazelnuts
1-2 Tb balsamic reduction (see easy recipe below)
4 cups wild arugula
2 Tb olive oil (1/2 to marinate the peaches and 1/2 to drizzle over the Burrata)
Black pepper and salt to taste
3 Tb lemon olive oil (2 Tb olive oil and 1 Tb fresh lemon juice combined)

Balsamic reduction, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice swirl together in a perfect touch of flavor

Balsamic reduction, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice layer in a perfect pattern of flavor


Cut the yellow peaches into wedges and marinate with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. In a flat griddle or non-stick saute pan, sear the peaches for a few minutes or until golden brown.

Place the peaches in a metal bowl and add the lemon olive oil and arugula and mix together gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the salad on a nice platter, making sure to display the peaches. Place the Burrata across the top of the salad. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and the balsamic reduction. Top with the toasted hazelnuts.

Toasted hazelnuts lend a subtle rich nuttiness to the light and fresh flavors

Toasted hazelnuts lend a subtle rich nuttiness to the light and fresh taste

Easy Balsamic Reduction
Combine 1 cup Balsamic vinegar and 1 Tb sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The liquid will reduce by about half.

Remove saucepan from heat and sauce will thicken as it cools.

What do you do with the extra balsamic glaze? Whatever you want! Drizzle on vanilla bean ice cream, on fresh heirloom tomatoes, on salads, on fresh fruit; especially strawberries or as a finishing glaze on chicken, steak and seafood.

The presentation couldn't be more appealing - summer on a plate

The presentation couldn’t be more appealing – SUMMER ON A PLATE

Recipe compliments of Canaletto Restaurant, Newport Beach, CA.

slow cooker chicken curry

“It’s a delectable combination of flavors from hours of slow cooking”

Mid-week is here again and this is the perfect quick recipe for a crazy week and an unusually chilly day here in Southern California. The prep time is nothing (10 to 15 minutes) and it will be so relaxing to pull in from an afternoon of carpooling and smell the scent of this yumminess wafting through the house. My husband seems really doubtful about the “yum” factor of this meal as he’s not a big fan of curry (guess I missed that memo; it’s only been 21 years). However, the curry powder is far from overpowering and simply enhances the overall flavor of the dish.

The original recipe, which I stumbled upon, came from the luscious food blog The Lemon Bowl. I changed my version up just a bit but the sauce base is essentially the same and works well in lending creaminess to the dish while accommodating your own “food edits,” such as adding different veggies, substituting shrimp or tofu in place of the chicken or adding it alongside the chicken for extra protein, flavor and creativity.

1 package organic boneless, skinless chicken breast (equals about 1.5 to 1.7 pounds)
1 onion thinly sliced (my mandolin made this a tear-free one minute process)
1, 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 package pre-cut sweet potatoes (I cut the sweet potatoes into smaller pieces but they were already peeled which made my prep fast)
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets, broken into small pieces
1 cup broccoli florets, broken into small pieces
1 can Dole crushed pineapple
3/4 cup light Coconut milk
3/4 cup Swanson’s chicken stock
1, 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 Tb melted butter
2 Tb curry powder
1/2 tsp Red Curry Paste (if you like spice-optional)
1 cup of green peas, frozen
1 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Optional toppings: crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, parsley, toasted coconut or crispy chow mein sticks

A bowl of healthy and delicious comfort

A bowl of healthy and delicious comfort

1. In the bottom of your crock pot combine the coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato sauce, melted butter, curry powder, curry paste and salt. Stir until thoroughly combined.
2. Add the chicken breasts, onion, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, cauliflower florets and broccoli florets.
3. Gently mix ingredients together so everything is fully coated with the sauce.
4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
5. Once finished cooking, remove chicken breasts to cutting board and shred or cut into bite-sized pieces. Return to curry mixture and stir.
6. Add peas and lemon juice and stir. Let sit for 5 to 10 more minutes.
7. Add the Dole crushed pineapple to a small sauce pan and warm over high for 5 minutes.
8. Add cooked white rice to the bottom of each individual serving bowl.
9. Add a small layer of the cooked pineapple (optional).
10. Spoon chicken curry mixture on top.
11. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, parsley, toasted coconut or crispy chow mein sticks.

*This flexible recipe can be made with tofu and veggies for a vegetarian option. If you’re not a fan of white rice, serve the curry mixture over quinoa, gluten free noodles or completely on its own if you are watching your carb intake.

s’mores ice cream pie

My kids LOVE Oreo ice cream pie. This wasn’t on the day’s TO-DO list but when I saw the “Limited Edition” S’mores Oreos staring me down at the end of the grocery aisle, I couldn’t help picture an ice cream pie using these cookies. And, of course, Dreyer’s just happened to have S’Mores ice cream when I checked the ice cream section. It was fate. My kids were meant to be pumped full of S’mores today, in some form or another. Happy Tuesday Treats!


2, 10 ounce packages of S’mores Oreos (limited edition)
1, 1.5 liter container of Dreyer’s S’Mores light ice cream
1, 8 ounce container of Cool Whip, slightly defrosted but not runny
Hershey’s syrup
1 Tb butter

Limited edition S'mores Oreos

Limited edition S’mores Oreos



Crushed Oreos make a yummy ice cream pie crust

1. Leave ice cream out to thaw for 45 minutes.
2. Take one 10 ounce package of Oreos and crush in a large mixing bowl, reserve 1/4 cup.
3. Once crushed to your liking, add 1 Tb of melted butter and mix.
4. Butter the bottom of a 9″ pie pan.
5. Press the crushed Oreos into the bottom of the pie pan with the back of a tablespoon, making sure to push down firmly.
6. When ice cream is somewhat melted, pour the container on top of the crust and spread with a baking spatula until it is evenly layered across the pie pan.
7. Squeeze Hershey’s syrup across the top of the ice cream.
8. Spread defrosted Cool Whip across the top of the syrup and ice cream. The ingredients will be a little runny so move the Cool Whip gently with the spatula.
9. Take the second package of Oreos and form a border around the pie.
10. Take the reserved 1/4 cup of crushed Oreos and sprinkle across the top of the pie.
11. Top pie with a S’More, toasted marshmallows or shaved chocolate for decoration.
12. Place pie  in the freezer on an even surface and let harden for two to three hours.
13. When pie is firm, slice and enjoy.

Once the melted ice cream is spread across the cookie crust, drizzle with Hershey's syrup and top with Cool Whip

Once the melted ice cream is spread across the cookie crust, drizzle with Hershey’s syrup and top with Cool Whip

Use Oreos to create a cookie border, top with crushed Oreos and decorate

Use Oreos to create a cookie border, top with crushed Oreos and decorate

fish tacos

How’s your Wednesday looking? If it’s anything like mine, and I’m sure it is, the day is packed. There’s a reason Wednesdays are called “hump day.” Before my head hits the pillow tonight there is laundry to be done, dry cleaning to be picked up for a traveling husband, email to answer, a car rental to be booked, packing to be done for Memorial Day weekend, a workout I WILL squeeze in, a haircut for my son, an ortho appointment for my daughter, soccer fitness training for the same daughter, a Geometry tutoring session for my son and finally, book club where I will be bringing a salad – thinking about a Kale Caesar (The Rosie Project was our latest book; I highly recommend – it’s witty and light and the motion picture rights have already been secured). I’m predicting that my son will be texting me at book club asking what time I will be home so we can watch our nightly episode of Sons of Anarchy (we are deep into Season Five) and telling me the printer either doesn’t work OR is out-of-toner. Oh, and perhaps can I please grab some Gatorade before I get home because he’s dying of thirst and the bounty of liquids that I stock the fridge with are inaqdequate. Just a prediction…

We are overscheduled and busier than a one-armed paper hanger but I’m certain that it’s all part of this season of my particular life which involves two active teens and a family with ALOT of interests and commitments. Everyone I know is the same. So what happens at dinnertime on days like these? I still want my family to have a good and healthy dinner but clearly, spending an hour or more in the kitchen isn’t on the agenda today.

I suggest fish tacos. They are simple to make and involve NO MESS as the meal is completely prepared on the grill in a matter of 15 minutes. While the fish is grilling, dice up a tomato, shred some cheese, pop open a bag of already shredded cabbage, slice a lemon and cut up an avocado or two. Have your tortillas ready to go and this meal will be on the table in 20 minutes (I promise) with minimal clean-up required.

2 pounds white, lean fish (I have been buying Pacific Cod from my local fish market. Halibut also works well)
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely diced kale
1 tomato
1 lemon
1-2 avocados
cheddar cheese, shredded
Olive oil
McCormick’s Lemon & Pepper Seasoning
Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing (a MUST for drizzling on top)
Aluminum foil

1. Preheat your grill.
2. Place fish, skin side down on aluminum foil.
3. Brush the top of each filet with Olive oil.
4. Season each filet with McCormick’s Lemon & Pepper Seasoning.
5. Top each filet with the finely diced kale.
6. Place aluminum foil on the grill and set your timer for 13 to 15 minutes depending upon the thickness of the fish.
7. While the fish is cooking prepare your toppings (tomato, cheese, cabbage, avocado and lemon). *NOTE– there is no need to flip the fish ever. It cooks perfectly skin side down.
8. When your timer rings, remove the foil with the cooked fish to a wood cutting board and bring inside.
9. Cook your tortillas on a gas stove (if you have one) flipping each tortilla with tongs as soon as it starts to bubble up. The edges get nice and golden brown.
10. Place two tortillas in a basket and with a spatula flake off pieces of the fish and put into the tortillas. Have each person add whatever toppings they want to their fish tacos (these plastic baskets can be purchased almost anywhere and make clean-up nonexistent. Click on the link above to find them on Amazon).


I highly recommend squeezing some fresh drops of lemon juice on top and drizzling Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing – the flavors are addicting.

So that’s what we’re eating this Wednesday hump day…good luck with your Wednesday on a Whim and send me any shortcut yummy ideas you have to maintain sanity in the kitchen and health at your dinner table.
Fish Tacos Lead

mexican chocolate doughnuts

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this familiar refrain, “Mom, don’t forget I need [insert food item here] for class [insert urgent date here]. I admit that my son did give me the weekend to prepare, although he had a basketball tournament on Saturday and Mother’s Day was yesterday (Sunday). Timing, eh?

My son needed to bring in a Mexican food item to share with 16 kids in his Spanish class. There are tons of things that can be made BUT transport was my main concern. A 16-year old boy transporting handmade, hard-labored over food to school without getting crushed, smushed or dropped was tantamount to my plan.

I originally had visions of making Churros that were delicately wrapped in wax paper, light and fluffy with the perfect coating of cinnamon and sugar. I also had a glaringly opposing vision of me sweating over my electric skillet, oil flying everywhere only to be left with soggy and sad looking pastry sticks somewhat resembling churros (all the recipes make them sound so easy to make). So I went with my gut and chose this delicious recipe for Mexican Chocolate Doughnuts. They are easy to make and they are BAKED not fried.

I did a test batch of the doughnuts and brought them to Mother’s Day brunch at my sister’s house. The number one food critic in our home, my son, gave me a thumbs up. When other people said they were “so good,” I knew I made the right choice. I still want to try making Churros but not when someone’s grade is dependent upon it.

The Mexican Chocolate Doughnuts would be a fun item at holiday time served with a side of cinnamon whipped cream and Mexican hot chocolate or wrapped in a crisp white box and brought as a hostess gift with a pretty recipe card or served as an easy brunch item the next time there’s a sleepover. Thanks to the talented ladies at Garnish With Lemon for solving my dilemma and creating a recipe that will be used over and over, especially in times of “crisis.” Hopefully, my son will flawlessly dictate in Spanish how to make these delicious morsels and “WE” will get an A.

Doughnut batter
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1¼ cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Chocolate Glaze
5 T unsalted butter
⅓ cup chocolate chips
2 T milk
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325.

For the doughnuts
1. Mix buttermilk, brown sugar and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer until thoroughly combined.
2. Add the melted chocolate and butter and mix until incorporated. Add the cinnamon, cayenne pepper, flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined.
3. Pipe mixture using a frosting bag into greased doughnut pan and fill each well ¾ of the way full.
4. Bake at 325 for 12-14 min. Let set in pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire
rack to cool. I found that if I let the doughnuts sit a bit longer and cool they were easier to pull out of the doughnut well with my fingertips.

For the glaze:
In a medium saucepan mix the butter, chocolate chips and milk. Heat over med low heat until melted. Add cinnamon and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts into glaze and set on drying rack to set. Serve.






1. I found my Wilton Doughnut pan at Bed Bath & Beyond.
2. Instead of spooning the mixture into the doughnut pan well, I piped it in using a frosting bag without a tip. I cut a bit of a larger hole and it worked perfectly and easily.