BBQ Pulled Pork Tamale Pie

A serving of pulled pork tamale pie
This tamale pie stuffed with pulled pork was inspired by a dish I enjoyed during a Trust dinner at Playground 2 in Orange County. The pate a choux masa keeps the pie light and fluffy.

BBQ Pulled pork Tamale Pie

The trick to fluffy masa is choux dough.


  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup masa flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups BBQ pulled pork (I used Trader Joe’s, but you can also make your own)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine water, milk, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a full boil. Add masa all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls away for the side of the pan. Continue to cook and stir the mixture for about 1 more minute.
  2. Cool mixture by running side of pan under faucet until mixture is room temperature. Beat in one egg at a time using the wooden spoon, making sure dough is smooth before adding the next egg. Beat the dough until smooth and shiny.
  3. Spread 1/3rd of dough on the bottom of a 8” square pan. Layer with pulled pork and cover with remaining 2/3rd of dough. Bake for 30-40 minutes until pie is slightly golden and bubbling around edges.

Chicken and Choux Dumplings

Chicken and Pate a choux dumplings

When cooking in a secluded cabin in the woods, a chef must be content with improvisation. This dish began as chicken pot pie, but upon discovering that a fully stocked cabin kitchen doesn’t necessarily include an oven-proof baking dish, I resolved to switch pot pie for a stove-top version of chicken and dumplings. Without the essential baking powder in my limited pantry, the dumplings posed another problem. My culinary training to the rescue – milk, check. Butter, check. Flour and salt, check. Eggs, check. Pate a choux dumplings! The resulting dish is rich, satisfying, homey, and the perfect accompaniment to a stay in a cozy cabin.

Chicken and Choux Dumplings

Here’s a recipe where my culinary improvisation went completely right


  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 oz. unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup flour + 2 Tablespoons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • ½ small onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 – 2 ½ cups chicken broth


  1. Simmer together milk, butter and salt until butter is fully melted, but mixture has not come to a boil. Add ½ cup flour and stir until flour is fully incorporated and dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool dough in pan by running  the sides of the pan under cold water. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in Parmesan. Set aside. Heat a small saucepan with 2 cups water until boiling.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sauté chicken in a bit of oil in a large skillet until brown and cooked through. Remove chicken and add celery, carrot, and onion. Sauté until softened. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms have softened. Add peas and cook until vegetables are beginning to brown. Add vegetables to chicken. Add a bit more oil to pan and add 2 Tablespoons flour. Stir until flour is golden brown and bubbly. Add broth and cook until slightly thickened. Return chicken, vegetables and accumulated juices to skillet, reduce heat and simmer until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, drop small teaspoons of dough into boiling water. Remove dumplings when they have risen to the top of the water. Drain on paper towels. To serve, ladle chicken into bowls and garnish with two or three warm dumplings.

sedona cabin

My cozy cabin in the Oak Creek forest – Butterfly Garden Inn

Lamb Keftedes in Tomato Sauce

Greek Lamb Meatballs

“You’re HOW old?” They ask with such incredulity you would think I told them I have leprosy or I’m ½ human, ½ cyborg. “No, you’re lying. You can’t be.” Why would I lie about being old enough to be the grandmother of a 10 year old – and without the words “teenage mom” having passed anyone’s lips? After the initial shock wears off, I’m usually told that I look good for my age. The kiss of death – for my age, which really means I’m looking a bit haggard, but not when you consider I’m a woman of advanced years.

Yeah, I’m staring down a milestone birthday, deal with it. I have. Yes, of course I have regrets – I wish I had pursued my dreams earlier (or figured out what they were, for that matter), lived larger and bolder, loved with greater abandon, had the courage to make my mark on this world, balls to the wall. However, just because I’m no longer chugging up the hill, it doesn’t mean my life’s best parts are over. This is merely a new chapter, a new beginning and, this old dog’s looking for some new tricks.

Lamb Keftedes in Tomato Sauce

  • Servings: 16 meatballs
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  • ½ onion, grated
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon dried mint
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 slices fresh white bread crumbs
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can low sodium beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 wide strips orange zest
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Chopped parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 13×9 pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine, onion, eggs, mint, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne, add bread crumbs and lamb. Season with salt and pepper and mix until combined. Shape into 16 torpedo-shaped meatballs. Dredge in flour and place in pan. Bake approximately 40 minutes, turning over after 20 minutes, until browned.
  2. Meanwhile combine tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, garlic, orange zest and bay leaf in a large skillet. Heat on medium high until thickened. Add meatballs and simmer until meatballs absorb some of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley and serve with fried potatoes.

Pork Posole

Pork Posole

It’s Sunday, and confronting the evening’s silence is not unlike staring at this blank screen while gripped by writer’s block. A house with noiseless, sleeping cats and only the purr of the fridge surround a glowing white page anxious for a flash of creativity. She has recipes ready to post, and ingredients for another, if she requires that distraction. Photos, edited, too, are waiting on her desktop. It’s the words, the words that are buried deep inside her, not ready to come out – The silence of a single girl’s home.

She’s in the twilight of her 40’s, never married, never close, really. If love arrived today, is she simply too accomplished at singleness to make coupledom work?

Versatility of leftovers is key when eating solo. Posole hits the mark; with a spoonful more broth, it’s a soup; with less broth, a stew. Drain the broth and add to scrambled eggs for breakfast – or pile it on a roll with mayo and avocado for a warm torta sandwich.

Pork Posole

I enjoy the versatility of this healthy soup-stew


  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can hominy, drained
  • 1 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed
  • limes
  • cilantro


  1. Combine cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub spices over pork. Brown pork in a soup pot over high heat on all sides. Remove pork and set aside. Add onion and sauté until beginning to brown.
  2. Add broth, scraping up any browned bits. Add tomatoes, hominy, and pinto beans. Return pork to pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 2 – 2 ½ until pork is very tender.
  3. Shred the pork using 2 forks and mix into the cooking liquid. Adjust seasoning.
  4. To serve, top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Thai Peanut Chicken Rice Bowls


Thai Peanut Chicken Rice Bowl


  • 1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup bottled peanut sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup edamame, sprinkled with salt
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped


  1. To marinate cucumbers, combine first 7 ingredients and let sit for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight.
  2. To make dressing, combine next three ingredients and set aside.
  3. Divide rice between four bowls. Arrange edamame, chicken and cilantro on top of rice. Add marinated cucumbers.
  4. Drizzle with peanut dressing