Engagement Chicken

A couple of months ago I was lamenting about not yet being engaged. At nearly 33 and having dated M for (the most amazing) 2 ½ years of my life, I was excited and anxious to get married! People had been asking me when it was happening and I had no ring and no answers. My friend and co-worker, Caroline, told me I needed an engagement chicken. WHAT? What the heck is an engagement chicken?? Weird pictures ran through my head of a goofy plastic chicken toting diamonds. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.

Well apparently there is this recipe going around for a roast chicken that’s been dubbed the “Engagement Chicken”. The story ran in Glamour magazine where this recipe was passed from woman to woman, all who seemed to get engaged soon after making this magical chicken for their significant other. The original recipe (found here) is a simple roast chicken with lemon and herbs. Seriously? This is what seals the deal? I thought back over the past couple of years. I must have made close to a dozen engagement chickens during the course of our relationship! Hmmm…

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Butternut Squash Tacos

Living in San Diego I’ve eaten my share of tacos. Hey besides a big fat burrito, it’s the perfect late-night drunk food! My favorite kind of tacos are garlic shrimp tacos and Baja fish tacos. They are so good with a margarita on a hot summer day! I’ve seen people put all kinds of things inside those cute little tortillas. Things like cheeseburger, buffalo chicken, scallops, potato and the oh-so-dreaded lengua (beef tongue – seriously, get over what it is. It’s good.) Turns out tortillas are brilliant vessels to hold all kinds of delicious ingredients. Corn tortillas are low in fat and calories and super fun to eat.

I usually keep some corn tortillas hanging out in my fridge or pantry and decided that I need to change it up a little and do something fun with them. I wanted to make a vegetarian taco that would please meat-eaters alike. And so the butternut squash taco was born. The sweetness of the squash and onions is delightful with the tang of the feta cheese. Top with a slice of avocado to add a cool creaminess and I promise you will want another… and another… and the best part is they are totally guilt free!

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Mussels in Tomato, Basil and Chickpea Sauce

Right after I took the California bar exam last summer, my wonderful boyfriend took me on a 3 week adventure through Italy, France, Switzerland (a little) and Austria. The whole trip was amazing and we ate exceptionally well. The food I remember most was, of course, along the French Riviera. Numerous cafés and bistros serving local seafood and produce artfully prepared lined the streets. I was in heaven. One of my favorite simple lunches was the classic French dish “Moules Frites” which translates to “Mussels and Fries.” You get a heaping pot of mussels in your choice of sauces (I like the Roquefort and the traditional tomato), some bread for dipping and skinny fries in a paper cone with aioli. Mmmm… I can almost taste it now.

Seeing some mussels at the farmer’s market brought me back to this wonderful trip. I snatched them up right away and set out to create a delicious and healthy pot de moules! The chickpeas added some extra texture and the sauce was so delicious I couldn’t help but soak up every last bit with my homemade bread. I used the recipe for wheat bread in the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (which I learned about thanks to my fabulous sister Patty!) If you haven’t tried mussels, you should. They are delightful and super easy to prepare. This sauce, however, would go great with any seafood or as a soup on its own!

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Roasted Balsamic Beets & Carrots

Root vegetables are pretty amazing beasts. Well, I think all vegetables are really. It seems pretty incredible to me that I can place a seed in the ground, give it some water and end up with something nutritious, delicious and beautiful. I have been playing around this past year with growing different vegetables in my little raised beds. I have been lucky with some and not so much with others. Living in Southern California, I’ve been able to put my gardening skills to the test year round. This is great because I need the practice! Although I grew up helping my father in his vast garden and my mother with flowers and herbs, this is the first time I have ever taken on the challenge of growing my own food. It’s not always as easy as it looks but it’s well worth the effort!


Late last fall I planted some carrots and I recently harvested them. I don’t know if it’s because I grew them or because we ate them fresh out of the garden, but I must say that they were some of the best carrots I’ve ever eaten. I attempted to grow some beets too, but alas, none came up. I’ll have to work on that. So, instead I purchased some lovely beets at the farmer’s market and paired them with my {gorgeous} carrots in a light tossing of balsamic vinegar. This recipe is crazy simple and can be made with any and all root vegetables, although the sweetness of the carrots and beets are really the best!

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Couscous with Butternut Squash and Cranberries


I have known about, cooked and eaten couscous for many years. I even remember the first time I ate it. My mother and I went to “the country” of Morocco in Disney World just before my teenage years. It all seemed so exotic at the time. The deliciously marinated meat and tiny little rice-like pieces of couscous made me feel like I was touring the world. I was an adventurous eater as a child and had no qualms about trying new items. After my first bite of couscous, I was hooked. My mother and I started looking for it in the store and it became one of our go-to side dishes.


It has only been in recent years, however, that I have discovered the delights of Israeli couscous. It is so versatile and has a consistency similar to risotto but without the creaminess. Therefore it holds up well with the addition of different textures. This particular version combines roasted butternut squash and sweet cranberries. Add in a dash of fresh parsley and gentle crunch of pine nuts and you’ve got a yummy side dish to complement grilled meats and vegetables.

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Valentine’s Day Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Blackberry & Meyer Lemon Sauce

I hate to say it but I’m not much of a baker. That doesn’t mean I don’t love baked goods. I do… Probably too much, actually! I’ve just never felt the same inspiration with baking as I do with cooking. One of my resolutions this year is to explore and learn more about baking to expand my repertoire (and my blog)!  What better way to start this venture than to create a baked good that doesn’t actually require any baking! I know, I know. That doesn’t really count. But once you taste this cheesecake, believe me you won’t care. And when you see how easy it is to make, this may just become your go-to dessert.


I decided this would make a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert. Everything can be made ahead of time and refrigerated so it is easy to assemble at the last minute. The light and delicate essence of vanilla pairs beautifully with the tart and sweet freshness of the berries. Served chilled, this cheesecake is the perfect ending to a special night with your honey bun, sweetie pie or love bunny… Just be sure not to invite them all at the same time!

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About Me
Hi! I'm Barbara and yes, I cook! Welcome to my world of mouth-watering delicious food that you don't have to feel guilty about.
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