Crispy Greek Fries — Opa!!!

Greek Fries

I absolutely die for French Fries.

In fact, my headstone will likely read something along the lines of….

“Here lies Nam…
Loyal daughter, sister, friend…
Mother to puggle Bella…
Devotee of Jack Johnson…

And she LOVED French Fries.”

It borderlines obsession, People. But can you blame me? Crispy, crunchy exterior with a creamy, starchy interior.


It goes without saying that if I see any variation of my beloved on a menu, I will order it. Truffle fries, poutine, carne asada fries….I love them all.

When I used to live in San Jose, I would often go to this little Greek restaurant in the neighborhood called Opa! They had these wonderful Mediterranean style fries on their menu with tons of Feta, garlic, and spices. Just sublime.

Since I’ve moved back down to SoCal, I often find myself with a hankering for those golden delicious, Greek inspired fries. And with just a few ingredients (and a little help from frozen French Fries), I can do a pretty bang up job recreating the Crispy Greek Fries in very little time.

While the potatoes crisp up in the oven, I whip up a simple vinaigrette that mirrors the flavors of a Greek salad. The vinaigrette adds a great flavor and acidity to help cut the richness of the fries and cheese. Once the fries are done, I toss them with a bunch of Feta, Mizithra (if I happen to have some), fresh herbs and bit of the vinaigrette.

And well…you can pretty much guess what happens then.

I black out in a French Fries frenzy and the next thing I know, the plate is empty with only a few specks of Feta as evidence that they ever existed.

I have no shame. Especially when fries are involved.

Crispy Greek Fries

1 pound frozen French Fries
cooking spray
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallots
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup quality extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
6 ounces crumbled Feta cheese (I used a garlic-herb blend)
2 tablespoons grated Mizithra cheese (optional)
2 tablespoons minced parsley

Cover a large baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange the frozen French Fries into a single layer on top. Coat the top of the fries with additional cooking spray and bake according to package directions until crispy. Be sure to flip and turn the fries a few times during the baking process. I often like to turn the oven on broil for the last minute or so to get them extra crispy. If you want EXTRA CREDIT, fry the French Fries in peanut or vegetable oil that has been heated to 350 degrees F. And if you want to go ALL IN, peel and cut whole potatoes and then deep-fry them.

While the fries bake, prepare the vinaigrette. In a small jar, add the garlic, shallots, oregano, red pepper flakes, mustard, vinegar and oil olive. Add ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Secure the lid tightly on the jar and shake vigorously for a minute until the items have combined and emulsified. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.

Once the fries have cooked through and are crisp, transfer them to a large bowl. Add the Feta, Mizithra (optional), parsley and a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Toss well and add additional vinaigrette if needed to lightly coat the fries. Plate and serve warm.

Gỏi Cuốn Tôm {Shrimp Spring Rolls}

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Dear Mother Nature,

You know that I adore Spring and Summer. In fact, I’m a Sun Baby through and through.

It may be a result of those early years where I froze in the Minnesota snow and now I’m at my best when I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face and can wear my flipflops 365.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

But with that said, I think you’re playing a cruel practical joke on me this late in the game.

90+ degree weather EVERY day this week?!?!

And that’s with mi casa sitting on the coast. Where or WHERE did you send my beloved Pacific Ocean breeze?

My poor puggle and I are melting.


And it’s already September.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls.

Lately, all I want are Spring Rolls and popsicles….and slurpees.

Gỏi Cuốn, as you know, are Vietnamese spring rolls….sometimes noted as “summer rolls”.

They’re light, filled with veggies and low maintenance.

Thankfully, because I can barely muster enough energy to boil water to cook the vermicelli noodles and poach the shrimp. And lucky for both of us, I don’t like poached pork belly which is commonly used in Vietnamese spring rolls. It gives me one less thing to worry about.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Now, if my face wasn’t melting off my head (is that T.M.I.?), I’d marinate the shrimp in a little garlic, fish sauce and then grill them. It really does add that extra oompf of flavor but trust me, poaching them are just as delish.

Oh–and Mother Nature, if you’re fixing up some spring rolls, feel free to add in other herbs and veggies you may have on hand….bell peppers, bean sprouts, Thai basil….

And thin slices of poached pork belly if it tickles your fancy.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring RollsAnd once you’re done making your rolls, could you find it in your heart to send back our “normal” weather?

We would love you even more….like, times infinity.

xoxo <3 ,



Gỏi Cuốn Tôm {Shrimp Spring Rolls}
Serves approximately 4


2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup boiling water
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned daikon radish
8 sheets round bánh tráng (dried rice paper sheets)
lettuce leaves
2 cups cooked vermicelli noodles
1 small Persian cucumber, sliced thinly lengthwise
fresh mint leaves
fresh cilantro leaves
fresh Thai basil, optional
fresh Vietnamese coriander, optional
1 dozen poached shrimp, sliced in half lengthwise
8 thin scallions or Chinese chives

Prepare the đồ chua (pickled vegetables). In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt with the boiling water. Add the vinegar and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Add the carrots and daikon and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. *This can keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks and are a must in Vietnamese sandwiches (bánh mì).

Dip one rice paper sheet in warm water and place on a flat surface. The rice paper will slowly become pliable. Lay one piece of lettuce in the middle of the rice sheet and top with vermicelli noodles, cucumber slices, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander and some of the refrigerated đồ chua. Lay 3-4 shrimp slices, cut side up, in one line above the layer of vegetables.

Tightly roll the bottom of the rice paper over the mound. Fold the right side of the roll in and lay one scallion/chive above the roll. Fold the left side in and continue rolling the rice paper up until you’ve created a secured roll. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Serve at room temperature with hoisin peanut sauce or other dipping sauce of your choice.


Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

We have been non-stop grilling this summer and it has been fantastic!!!

Burgers (all types!), skewers, seafood, ribs, veggies……

And with this crazy heat and humidity we’ve been having these past few weeks it’s been the perfect way to escape the hot kitchen.

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

Most of our BBQs have been in the backyard so I’ve been sorely missing out on all of the summertime beach and park picnics. Delish sammies, salads, and fried chicken. SOOOO GOOD!

But if you’re anything like me, I often can’t decide what I want to make to bring for picnics. I strive to fix up dishes that are a bit out of the norm but still delish at room temperature. And since they’re outdoor events, I try to think of items that don’t have ingredients that will spoil easily.

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

Thank goodness that onigiris and seaweed rice rolls are ALWAYS a hit when I bring them out. Onigiris (also often referred to as musubis) are a Japanese treat consisting of sticky rice shaped into balls or triangles and wrapped in toasted seaweed. They often are filled with seafood, pickled veggies or meat.

What’s my favorite onigiri? SPAM MUSUBIS!!!!!

Yes, the all-caps were a must.

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

As for seaweed rice rolls — think of sushi maki rolls. But, if you opt to make them for outdoor events or if you don’t plan on serving them right away, I’d recommend staying clear of filling them with raw seafood. Korean style seaweed rice rolls, Kimbap, are perfect because of it.

Kim = Seaweed

Bap =  Rice

Ever since I was first introduced to kimbap in elementary by my Korean friends, I have been inhaling these little buggers like crazy. There are so many variations but the standard filling usually consists of bulgogi (or seasoned protein of your choice), shredded carrots, cooked spinach, strips of cooked eggs and danmuji (pickled daikon). However, you can really use just about anything you have in your fridge. I often swap out the daikon for cucumbers and use leftover meat I may have such as grilled chicken, shrimp or imitation crab.

The other distinct difference between kimbap and Japanese maki is the rice. Normally, kimbap will only have sesame oil seasoned rice whereas Japanese sushi rice will have sake, rice wine vinegar and some sugar. But since I like the flavor, I use a combo of sesame oil and rice wine vinegar for my kimbap.

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

So for my latest contribution to the  Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen I thought I would share with you a basic version of Kimbap. Once you get all the pieces together, assembly takes barely any time at all. And since you don’t have to serve it right away, you can make it the morning of a picnic or outing and have it on hand whenever you’re ready for it.

I’ve also included my recipe for the bulgogi marinade below but feel free to use a store bought marinade as there are TONS of great ones out there as well. However, keep in mind one note about the preparation of the eggs or “omelet”. Cook the eggs low and slow so that it doesn’t brown and retains its bright yellow color.

Much thanks to our friends at Safest Choice™ and to learn more about them and their pasteurization process to eliminate salmonella, please click here.



Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls
Makes 4 rolls


½ cup bulgogi marinade, homemade* or store bought
¼ pound thinly sliced ribeye beef
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
3 large Safest Choice™ pasteurized eggs, beaten
2 cups cooked short grain-sticky rice, heated
½ tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
4 toasted seaweed sheets
½ cup finely julienned carrots
½ cup danmuji – Korean pickled daikon (or cucumbers), cut into long strips
½ cup blanched spinach

In a small bowl, mix the bulgogi marinade and beef together. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat a small nonstick skillet with ½ tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-low. Pour in the beaten eggs and turn down the heat to low. Cook the eggs until they have just set on top and you see tiny bubbles forming over the surface. Carefully flip over the “omelet”. Allow the eggs to cook for an additional minute and slide the omelet onto a cutting board. Cut the omelet into long strips approximately ½ inch wide. Set aside.

Use a damp paper towel and wipe the interior of the nonstick skillet. Heat the remaining vegetable oil over medium high. Add the marinated beef to the skillet and stir-fry until the meat has browned and cooked through. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the rice with the sesame oil and rice wine vinegar.

Place one piece of toasted seaweed (shiny side down) on a bamboo sushi mat or piece of parchment paper. Dip your hands into a bowl of water (to help keep the rice from sticking). Spread and press ¼ of the rice mixture into an even, thin layer on top of the seaweed. You’ll want to leave about 2 inches from the top and bottom of the seaweed sheet uncovered.

Place ¼ of the beef, eggs, carrots, daikon, and spinach horizontally along the center of the rice. Hold the bottom of the bamboo mat (or parchment), and use an upwards motion to roll the kimbap. As you’re rolling, you’ll want to gently squeeze the kimbap to ensure that it’s firmly sealed and enclosed into the shape of a log. Unroll the bamboo mat (or parchment) and set the rolled kimbap aside. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients.

Using a sharp knife, cut each roll into ½ inch pieces. You may need to wipe down the knife periodically as the rice can cause the blade to become sticky. Serve the kimbap at room temperature.

*To make your own bulgogi marinade, add the following ingredients into a food processor/blender and puree. Makes approximately 1 cup.

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 tablespoon mirin
juice of one small orange
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper powder)
½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ tablespoon brown sugar
½ small Asian pear, quartered
2 large garlic cloves
1 inch piece fresh ginger
2 scallions, cut into 2 inch pieces


*DISCLOSURE: As a brand ambassador for the Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen, I was compensated for the creation of this recipe and post. However, as always, all opinions are my own.*

Indonesian Corn Fritters with Tamarind Chili Sauce

Indonesian Corn Fritters

The Oscars are tomorrow night and I have to admit, I just LOVE them. The glitz, the glam–I can’t help but be swept away in the spirit of the Old Hollywood Glam.

Sure, I haven’t watched all of the top nominated films but the event is the perfect excuse for a fun
“girls night in” filled with lots of cocktails and delish little bites. A  charcuterie board and other finger foods are the perfect accompaniment to a night of gorgeous gowns while my gal pals and I catch up on latest celebrity gossip.

Indonesian Corn Fritters

For my most recent contribution to the Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen, I wanted to make something easy to whip together while unique enough to impress your Oscar going friends. These Indonesian style Corn Fritters are the exact thing and are spiced with South East Asian flavors like Thai chilies, Kaffir lime leaves and turmeric. With just barely enough “batter” to hold the kernels together, the sweet corn definitely is the star especially when dunked into a mixture of Tamarind Chili Sauce and Sriracha.

Indonesian Corn Fritters

Since it is the Academy Awards, I’d recommend serving them with a bright, refreshing cocktail like a Paloma or Blood Orange Margarita— though a chilled glass of champagne would be fab as well.

Much thanks to our friends at Safest Choice™ and to learn more about them and their pasteurization process to eliminate salmonella, please click here.

Enjoy Oscar Night!

Indonesian Corn Fritters with Tamarind Chili Sauce
Makes approximately 16 fritters


3 tablespoons tamarind juice concentrate
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon warm water
½ tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Thai bird chile, minced finely
1 teaspoon Sambal chili paste

2 large fresh whole corn cobs (about 3 heaping cups of corn kernels)
¼ cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 scallions, chopped (more for garnish)
2-3 Thai bird chilies, minced (depending on your heat preference)
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves (more for garnish)
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large Safest Choice™ pasteurized eggs, beaten
¼ cup rice flour
vegetable oil
sea salt
lime wedges
Sriracha sauce

Prepare the sauce. In a bowl, whisk together all the items and refrigerate until serving.

Stand one ear of corn vertically on a cutting board or in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut down the sides of the corn to remove the kernels. Repeat with the remaining ear of corn.

In a large bowl, mix the first 13 ingredients together. Stir in the beaten eggs and rice flour until just combined. The batter will be minimal and just barely hold the corn and aromatics together.

Take a large cast iron skillet or other heavy bottom pan and pour in oil until it reaches about ½ – ¾ inch up the side of the pan. Allow the oil to come up to medium heat. Carefully place large spoonfuls of the corn mixture in the skillet – avoid having the fritters touch each other. Fry the fritters for about 2 minutes on each side until they reach a deep, golden color. Take caution while frying as the corn kernels may splatter a bit during the frying process. I like to place an inexpensive mesh splatter screen over the skillet while frying. Once done, remove the fritters from the oil and briefly drain on paper towel lined plates. Sprinkle each fritter with a few pinches of sea salt while they’re still warm and garnish with additional chopped scallions and cilantro.

Serve the fritters warm with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, Sriracha and tamarind chili sauce.



*DISCLOSURE: As a brand ambassador for the Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen, I was compensated for the creation of this recipe and post. However, as always, all opinions are my own.*

Poblano-Avocado-Yogurt Dip >> #MadeWithChobani

Roasted Poblano Avocado Yogurt Dip

Have you heard of the #MadeByChobani challenge that’s going around the food blogisphere?

Roasted Poblano Avocado Yogurt Dip

The task is fairly simple really– come up with a healthy recipe using Chobani® yogurt. But if you’ve been to my site before, you’re fully aware that I have never claimed to write “healthy” recipes. Remember the Holy Trinity of my kitchen?

Bacon, Butter, and Booze!

But it’s a new year and even I can try something new. So……….


Roasted Poblano Avocado Yogurt Dip

With the Super Bowl just around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to whip up a healthier appetizer to go along with all of those buffalo wings and pizza that will be consumed. And the recipe is incredibly easy too!

Roasted Poblano Avocado Yogurt Dip

I grabbed a poblano pepper (sometimes sold in the US as “pasilla”) and charred the exterior. Once peeled, I threw it in a food processor along with some avocados that are rich in potassium, fiber, and monounsaturated fat (“good fat”). Non-fat Plain Chobani® Greek Yogurt, cilantro, garlic and a few spices like cumin were also added to the party. The latter has been known to help with building your immunity and digestion.

Roasted Poblano Avocado Yogurt Dip

The end results?

A wonderfully creamy, beautifully rich, totally satisfying dip. Deeply flavored from the charred poblano and cumin & luscious from the yogurt and avocado.

I chose to serve this healthier dip with tortilla chips (all about balance, right?) but it would be great with sliced veggies or as a spread in sandwiches.


But…I’ll get back to creating some kind of bourbon-bacon dip so y’all know it’s still me.


Poblano-Avocado-Yogurt Dip
Serves 6


1 large poblano pepper
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 large ripe avocados, roughly diced (about 3 cups)
5 ounces Non-fat Plain Chobani® Greek Yogurt, or other plain Greek yogurt of our choice
½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper
tortilla chips or veggie sticks of your choice

On your stove top range, char the poblano pepper on all sides. This can also be done under your oven broiler. Once charred, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. This will help the skin loosen from the pepper. Once cooled, peel the skin from the pepper and discard along with the stem and seeds. Roughly chop the roasted pepper and place into the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse the poblano until it becomes fairly smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and add additional kosher salt as needed. Serve with tortilla chips or veggies of your choice.



Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

A few years ago, he and I had a terrible fight….

Trader Joe and I–that is.

What can I say?

He broke my heart — the day he stopped carrying their Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus. Herby, a bit spicy, rich and creamy. I L-O-V-E-D it and would slather it over just about everything.

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Then one day when I came in to grab a tub, it was gone. Sure, T.J. offered a three layered hummus that claimed it had my beloved Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus inside. But once you opened the container, it barely had a dollop of the green goodness in it.

What’s a girl to do?

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

It was then time to take matters into my own hands and make my own version so that I could have my fill of whenever I wanted.

I threw a little bit of this and A LOT of that into the food processor and within a couple of minutes, I had something amazing that I dare say, love even more than the original.

True story.

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Just like the original, it’s delicious over breads, to dip all kinds of goodies in, and to use as a sauce.

So T.J., I forgive you for cutting off my hummus supply and still love you for everything else you fill my kitchen with. And let’s face it, who cannot adore that you have your staff wearing Aloha gear? :)

Side note: T.J. is now carrying a version of Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus but trust me when I say this–it’s not the same. I don’t know how they altered the recipe but it’s missing some of the old KA-POW the old hummus did.


Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus


1- 2 bunches fresh cilantro, approximately 4-5 loosely packed cups (more to garnish)
1-2 jalapeño peppers, roughly chopped (depending on your heat preference)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more to garnish)
1/3 cup tahini
4 garlic cloves
1 can garbanzo beans (15 ounces), drained with juices reserved
2-4 tablespoons juices from the garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika (more to garnish)

Add the cilantro, jalapeñopeppers, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the items have broken down.


Add in the garlic cloves, garbanzo beans, 2 tablespoons of the reserved garbanzo beans juices, kosher salt, black pepper, and paprika. Blend until the hummus is smooth but still thick. If needed, add in the remaining garbanzo bean juices until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and add additional kosher salt if needed.


Plate the hummus and garnish with a drizzle of additional olive oil, sprinkle of paprika, and chopped cilantro. Serve as a spread or as a dip.

Oven Baked Portabello Fries with Sriracha Mayo

Oven Baked Portabello Fries with Sriracha Mayo

I am a French Fry Monster.

Those crispy, delectable, fried potato-goodness are my vice. But oh–what a glorious vice it is!

Oven Baked Portabello Fries with Sriracha Mayo

But seeing how it’s probably not the best idea for me to inhale my weight in fries (though I may or may not have tried before), I’ve got to find alternatives to get my crunchy fix in.

And these Oven Baked Portabello Fries fulfill that craving quite well.

Oven Baked Portabello Fries with Sriracha Mayo

Thick portabello mushroom strips are rolled into an egg white mixture and then coated with toasted panko breadcrumbs. After a short tanning in the oven, they come out wonderfully crunchy and not the least bit mushy on the inside. And let me tell ya, these beauties are totally crisp. By toasting the panko and then baking the fries on a rather high heat, they’re able to get that wonderful crunch I love when I go to town on traditional potato fries.

Did I mention that they get dunked into a Sriracha Mayo?

You’re welcome.

ps. They’d also be fantastic wrapped up in tortillas with some Avocado-Cabbage Slaw to make some killer veggies tacos.

Oven Baked Portabello Fries with Sriracha Mayo
Serves 2


Sriracha Mayo
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced parsley
kosher salt
black pepper

1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
2-3 dashes hot sauce
¼ teaspoon black pepper
kosher salt
cooking spray
1 large portabello mushroom cap or 2 medium sized portabellos
½ teaspoon minced parsley

Whisk the first seven ingredients for the Sriracha Mayo in a bowl. Season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 475˚ F.

In a large skillet, toss the panko with the oil. Toast over medium heat, stirring, until golden brown. Set the toasted panko into a dish.

In another bowl or shallow dish, whisk together the egg whites, water, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne powder, hot sauce, black pepper and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.

Take a wire rack and place it over a baking sheet. Lightly coat the rack with cooking spray.

Slice the mushrooms into long strips approximately 1/3 – ½ inch in width. One slice at a time, dip the mushroom into the egg white mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Use your fingers to gently press the breadcrumbs into the mushroom slice to coat well. Lay the coated mushroom slice on the wire rack. Continue with the remaining ingredients.

Spray the tops of the mushrooms with cooking spray and bake for 20-25 minutes. Flip the mushroom fries halfway through the baking process and spray the tops with cooking spray before returning them back into the oven. The fries are done when they are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and sprinkle them with additional kosher salt and parsley. Serve hot with the Sriracha Mayo.