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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto Panini

Paninis are a fun twist to mix up a traditional sandwich, which can become monotonous and boring. There is something very satisfying about the delicious crunch combined with the melty cheese and delicious fillings of a panini!



A panini press came as a gift a couple of years ago. At the time I thought it was a peculiar gift choice, but the first time I used it I was hooked. What a delight!

If you do not have a panini press and are a sandwich lover, you should consider making the investment. The day my panini press goes kaput is the day that I will be ordering a replacement!

There are several paninis that I have grown to love, but Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto is one of my all-time faves.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Vegetarian Tamale Pie

Vegetarian Tamale Pie is a simple fix to a meatless weeknight meal.

(Disclaimer: Vegetarian Tamale Pie is not photogenic!)


The bean mixture is mildly spicy and is balanced by the crunchy sweetness of the cornbread topping. Hominy adds a nice combination of texture and flavor without being overpowering.

Vegetarian Tamale Pie can be served with plain yogurt, diced tomatoes, sliced olives or other toppings of your choice! This dish can be customized with different bean types (garbanzo, kidney, etc.) or even include browned hamburger or shredded chicken if desired.  
This one dish meal can be tossed together in a snap. Read on for simple instructions!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grilled Ginger Lime Shrimp Skewers

Just in time for you Memorial Weekend cookout: Grilled Ginger Lime Shrimp Skewers. This is a simple and elegant way to impress your guests!


Although ginger and lime can be overpowering flavors, they are not too much for this lovely grilled shrimp. 

This is a super easy recipe, yet quite spectacular because it is skewered. For some reason, everything seems more interesting and delicious when it is skewered. 

Here's how you will wow your guests for your Memorial Weekend cookout or a simple family supper:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

When I tell people I make my own barbeque sauce, I get one of two reactions.  About 2% of the time, the response is a slight head nod with big eyes and a "Me, too!"

The other 98% of the time I hear, "Are you crazy?!? Why would you do that when you can purchase it in a bottle?"


There are many regions of the US known for vastly different styles of barbecue: Kansas City, Texas, Carolina, Memphis.  And I have been in many a great debate as to what region reigns as best barbecue. While I currently reside in and love California, my roots are from Kansas. Because I was raised on this lip-smacking, finger-licking wonderful sauce (please recognize my mom for giving this recipe to me 20 years ago), I have a preference to Kansas City Style Barbeque. (And it seems the target market of the bottled sauces are for Kansas City Style Barbeque.)

It is my intent to convert the 98% who purchase bottled barbecue sauce into homemade barbecue sauce loving people because the flavor is far superior...just in time for your Memorial Weekend grill party!

Here's how:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mediterranean Pearl Couscous Salad

Pearl couscous has always been intriguing, yet I have never tried it...until now.


Pearl couscous is balls of toasted semolina flour. Texture is somewhat chewy and similar to acini de pepe (pasta).

Combining pearl couscous with ingredients typically found in a Mediterranean style salad is a great combo. This is a great salad on its own or can be served on the side of grilled chicken or seafood. 

Many salads require marinating for a day or so to provide the best flavor. This salad can be consumed immediately after assembling or refrigerated for a day. Either way, delicious!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dill Potato Salad

Summer is quickly approaching and it is time to make a list of salads suitable to make ahead and serve at gatherings. A classic for picnics and barbecues is potato salad. I have seldom made potato salad because it just seemed so boring...until trying this recipe. 


I am a HUGE fan of Ina Garten (also known as Barefoot Contessa). Her cooking show is one of my all time favorites. Ina (if I may be so bold as to call her by her first name) is quite the classy lady! 

I once saw Ina at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco several years ago and was completely beside myself. I was star struck! My friend tried to get me to stand in line to talk to her, but I could not muster enough courage. 

Muster...which is similar to mustard...which is one of the key ingredients in Ina Garten's potato salad. I made a few adjustments (combining red and white potatoes, replacing buttermilk with plain yogurt because it is always in my fridge and increasing the mustard), but give Barefoot Contessa full credit for creating a delightful Potato Salad!

Here is the recipe with my tweaks:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Grilled Okra

Okra recently made its seasonal debut at the Farmer's Market and we could not have been more excited! Okra is one of those veggies that seems to be quite polarizing: love it or hate it. We love it!

There are many ways okra can be prepared: fried, pickled or as an ingredient in a gumbo or stew. One of our favorite methods of preparing okra is to simply grill. 


The key is to find okra that are small, probably 2 inches long maximum. Okra that are too big are tough and fibrous and will not get tender. 

Preparation is simple. Here's how:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Taco Pizza

Taco Pizza is an easy-to-prepare weeknight dinner option and is super kid friendly! Your kids might even enjoy helping with the preparation of this fun meal. 


While we at Cali's Cuisine generally do not approve the use of poppin' fresh dough as a general rule (sorry, Pillsbury Doughboy!), sometimes it is necessary to cheat a bit in the name of getting something on the table in order to maintain as much sanity as you still have at the end of a hectic day. 

Refrigerated croissant dough combined with refried beans are the main ingredients of Taco Pizza. You can customize toppings to suit your taste.  

Here's how: 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Soft Pretzels



Soft pretzels are a nice treat generally found at the mall or even the airport. It is good to be able to make your own (the aroma very similar to fresh baked bread is wonderful). This recipe sure does beat the frozen variety available at most supermarkets.

Treat yourself to a batch of freshly baked pretzels...great for a party or just a fun snack!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Corn and Black Bean Salad

Summertime is quickly approaching and it is a good idea to have some salad ideas ready to include as menu options.


Corn and Black Bean Salad is perfect for summertime barbecues or picnics. We at Cali's Cuisine are generally not fans of getting our food from a can, but we make an exception here.

After preparing this salad many times over the span of a decade (the original recipe was obtained from a family member), we have found there are a couple of key steps to maximize flavor.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tofu Spinach Enchiladas

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo...Tofu Spinach Enchiladas!


Some may argue that a tofu enchilada goes beyond fusion cuisine and enters the zone of confusion cuisine. Tofu can be a bit polarizing (love it or hate it). To all you naysayers, I challenge you to give this a try. 

This is a recipe that has gone through years of evolution in my kitchen.  Here are the complete details: 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Grilled Chicken Kebabs (Chicken Skewers)


Grilled Chicken Kebabs (Chicken Skewers) look fancy, but they are easy breezy. You will W-O-W your family or dinner guests with this main dish because they look like they took more time than usual to prepare. 

Let them think you put some extra time into preparation...perception is reality! Take all the kudos you can get!


(Can you keep a secret? Cutting the chicken into approximately 1-inch cubes = more surface area = quicker grilling time!  The added time of cubing the chicken is more than accounted for with the time you save in grilling.  But wait - there's more! Because it will take less time to cook to the center, there is less of a chance that the meat will dry out from overcooking.)

Here's how: