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Nacho Mama’s Chipotle Nacho “Cheese” Dip

As you can see from my not too fancy picture this cheese dip didn’t even leave the pan. This guilt-free version takes me back to the not so healthy time I bought the jar version, with everything bad in it for you, into the drive-in with a bag of chips when I was in high school. Oh have things changed but yet I still get to enjoy a lighter version of this Nacho Cheese dip. This recipe makes a lot but can be reheated and stored for up to a week. I like adding it inside of my Black Bean Flautas, in a quesadilla or on top of taco. You will be happy you made a large batch.

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of Unsweetened Original Ripple Pea-Protein Milk
3 Chipotle Peppers with 2 tablespoons of adobe sauce (about half the 7oz. can, go lighter for less heat)
1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
1 tsp of salt

downloadWe are loving Ripple milk, it is made out of pea-protein and packed with protein and calcium. I get all four of the flavors for different uses. This one is the unsweetened Original with Zero grams of sugar perfect for Savory Cooking like this Cheese Dip, Mac and Cheese or Mashed Potatoes.

In a sauce-pan on medium heat add olive oil and flour and mix together for 2 minutes so Roux gets toasty. Meanwhile in your blender  (if your eating less meat save that money and splurge on a Vitamix, you will thank me) combine chipotle and Ripple Milk. Add to the roux while stirring to remove clumps. Should get thicker after a few minutes. Add nutritional yeast and salt. Taste for seasoning and add more milk and stir if getting too thick.

Serve warm with tortilla chips.

You’re Welcome!




Fluffiest Pancakes Ever~Vegan and Dairy Free!

There is no reason to consume the milk of another animal. In my recipe for these Fluffy Pancakes you will not be supporting the horrific Dairy Industry. Time to make changes, educate ourselves while eating delicious food. I have included more information below my recipe that everyone should know about how the dairy industry functions.

Fluffiest Pancakes Ever

I love cooking these on my cast-iron skillet.

1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup of soy milk
2 tablespoons of sweetened flaked coconut (optional)
1 syringe of coconut liquid stevia (optional)
1 tablespoon of Earth Balance Butter Substitute, more if needed for cooking
2 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of salt

In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, coconut flakes and salt. Add soy milk and stevia sweetener and whisk.
In a skillet on medium high heat add Earth Balance and melt butter while spreading onto pan, add extra melted earth balance to batter and stir.
Cook pancakes on 2 minutes each side on medium-high heat adding more “butter” as needed.
Makes 8 sand-dollar sized pancakes. Serve with Maple Syrup.

Let’s Learn About Dairy….
The Dairy industry in the United States is a 102 Billion Dollar Industry in Revenue. 

Through my education in learning about how we raise and consume animal products I have learned that Cow’s Milk is not needed in our diet for nutrition and is harmful for our health. Consuming dairy products increases chances of cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Dairy is bad for our digestion, skin and hormones because it has a large amount of estrogen.
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It is commonly believed that we need calcium from cow’s milk however we find calcium in many plant-based sources and Soy Milk has 50% more calcium than cows milk without the high cholesterol and saturated fats.

In fact cow’s milk is not meant for our bodies to digest Human’s milk has only 1 g of protein and humans are the only mammal to consume another animals milk.

Timed to be weened off of your milk.

The dairy industry is inhumane and in a UK Ruling can now be Advertised as Inhumane .

A female cow is artificially impregnated and hours after she has given birth to her baby that baby is taken away against the mother cow fighting for the life of her new-born baby. That baby if a boy will be soon turned into veal or if female live the same as mother cow but separate from her because we are consuming the baby calves milk. Literally taking milk from a newborn baby calf and turning it into yogurt, cheese, ice cream etc. After her baby is taken away she is impregnated again. She does this for 6 years and is then turned into a big Mac. So crazy we have been brainwashed to think being Vegan is extreme while I am finding out eating Dairy and Meat is truly extreme. Watch this horrible and graphic video and see if milk is really worth it. 

cow-with-mastitis-1I used to think we needed milk but in fact we don’t and it is unhealthy for us and their are so many Non-Dairy options for us that are delicious.

So why are we supporting financially $102 billion inhumane industry I believe lack of education, tradition and taste however the taste argument is losing and Vegan options are just as tasty and healthier for the animals we are abusing, our bodies and not to mention the environment. Please watch Cowspiracyto learn about the harmful effects of Cattle Agriculture to our environment.


5-Spice Tofu with Soba Noodles Mushroom and Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry

The Asian Diet has shown significant low amounts of Breast Cancer which is the leading cancer found in women. Studies have shown that replacing soy with animal products help reduce your risks of cancer as long as you eat less then 5 servings a day of soy.

As a Mother of two little girls it is very interesting to me to find in a study that if you starting consuming Soy as a Child you had a greater chance of fighting breast cancer than starting to consume soy later in life. Mushrooms also play a part in the diet, studies of Asian women who ate a diet of at least 15 mushrooms a month had significant lower amounts of breast cancer.

All of this information can be found at video which credits the exact studies that were performed "Why do Asian Women Have Less Breast Cancer"

As a Chef I love Buckwheat Soba Noodles they cook in under 5 minutes, they have great texture and color to your plate. Nutritionally they are wonderful, they are vegan and made with Whole Wheat, Buckwheat Flour and Yam with 11g of protein and 3g of fiber for one 1/2 bundle portion.

I love this dish for a quick under 20 minute weeknight dinner and you can switch with your favorite sauces and vegetables to make it your own.

Serves 4
For Tofu
1 package of firm tofu, drained and placed into between paper towels with something heavy on top to press out liquid. I do this for a few hours but even just 10 minutes will help remove liquid.
1/2 cup of corn starch
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of Chinese 5-spice
2 Tablespoons of EVOO

For Stir-Fry
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
1 cup of sugar snap peas
1 cup of broccoli florets
green onion for garnish
1/4 cup of soy sauce, separated
1 tablespoon of black bean sauce
1 bunch of soba buckwheat noodles


Slice tofu into chunks. On a plate combine corn starch, salt and Chinese 5-Spice. Toss tofu into corn starch mixture. In a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat add Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Once hot sear tofu until crispy on two sides about 2 minutes per side. Place on paper towel.

Boil soba noodles as directed on package and add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce to water takes about 5 minutes to cook noodles. Drain noodles and reserve water if needed for stir fry.

In same skillet as tofu add mushrooms and saute on medium-high heat for 5 minutes add one more tablespoon of EVOO if needed. Add sugar snap peas and broccoli and saute for another 3 minutes. Add noodles, black bean sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and add reserved water from noodles if needed to become saucey. Saute for an additional 2 minutes. Top with tofu and green onions and enjoy.




Why you need to eat this Tortilla Soup

I think there is a lack of education along with eating meat in our country, I know this because after being a chef for the last 10 years I really didn’t think about the process of eating meat until just recently. It sounds like an extreme conspiracy theory but yet it is true that our country’s Agriculture department is a huge money maker allowing horrible practices for the animals we eat and our environment. I like to remind myself the vegan movement is not asking for your money, beans and grains are very cheap, they are asking for you to care about animals, yourself and our environment. Yet the meat industry is making money and fund associations and government programs to keep meat and diary important in our culture.


Why are we still okay with eating meat? We do not need meat for any reason nutritionally, in fact is is much healthier for us to not consume animal products.
The only food source that contains cholesterol is from animal products. The Centers for Disease Control Prevention website states that in the United States “1 out of 3 adults has high cholesterol” and “People with high total cholesterol have approximately twice the risk for heart disease.” The website also states that “610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.”

We have also learned that we do not need any nutrition from animal products that we cannot get from plant-based. I have always thought that we needed meat for protein but that is not true and protein is found in many plant-based foods.

So why are we still eating Animal Products…??? Tastes?

That is where I come in as a Chef you can trust me you will be eating well with a Vegan menu always satisfied, full and eating a delicious menu. You will have to cook more at home but we all know that is better for us and with time and more education there will be more plant-based options on restaurant menus.

Please have an open mind, educate yourself, try eating plant based, it is important to watch Forks Over Knives and What the Health on Netflix and make your own decisions.

This was one of my favorite Tortilla Soups I have ever had you will not miss the meat.

Plant Based Toritlla Soup

8 oz of soaked white large beans, corona or lima work great *
1/2 link of soy chorizo
1 large red onion, diced
1 cup of carrots, dice
1 cup of sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon of EVOO
1 cup of celery, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tsp of cumin
32 oz of vegetable stock, I like Trader Joe’s Hearty
Garnish with Green Onion, Lime, Avocado and Tortilla Chips

In a large pot saute onions in olive oil for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add potatoes, celery, carrots, and soy chorizo season with salt and pepper saute for another 10 minutes.

If using a crock pot place items from pot into hot crock pot or if doing on stove add beans, cumin, big spoon of salt and stock to pot.

Simmer on low for 1-1.5 hours uncovered or in crock pot on low for 8 hours or high for 6. Add more water if needed. Taste for seasoning and garnish.



Corn, Tomato and Avocado Plant-Based “Ceviche”

As the temperatures heat up this plant-based “Ceviche” is perfect to help cool off your evening. Featured at my last Food & Wine Pairing with Monticello Vineyards we paired this with their 2014 Oak Knoll Chardonnay.

Serves 4

1 lb of heirloom tomatoes
3 cobs of summer corn
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 small can of hearts of palm, drained and chop into 1/2 inch circles
zest and juice of two lemons
3 tablespoons of We Olive Lemon Olive Oil
1/2 bunch of minced chives
salt for seasoning
Plantain Chips

Dice tomatoes and place in a strainer over bowl or draining into sink. Salt tomatoes generously, this helps remove the liquid from tomatoes and most of the salt stays within the liquid. Let drain for at least a half an hour. Place all three cobs of corn in husks unopened in microwave for 12 minutes.
While hot with an oven mitten slice off the bottom of the cob up to 1 inch above the nub.
Push through the cob through the husk and cob will come out without stings. Slice kernel off of cob.

Combine tomatoes, chives, corn, avocado and hearts of palm dress with olive oil, lemon juice, zest and season with salt.

Can be made two days in advance, add avocado before serving.



Napa Valley Trip with Kids on a Budget


Living in Northern California my family and I are within an hours drive to Napa Valley with some of the best wineries in the world. What you don’t often hear about is the amazing Campground right in the middle of Calistoga, Bothe State Park. Read on for recipes, campground tips and activities for traveling with kids to this amazing spot.
Camping Napa ValleyThe drive-up is beautiful driving through some of the most beautiful vineyards and wineries. We are members at Clos Pegase so we were able to stop to drink some wine and pick up our shipment and head down the street to our campground.

We checked into site 21 which for the camper was a pretty un-level spot but with a few tricks from my husband he was able to get us level perfect.  Despite the un-level spot for parking around campsite was beautiful opening up to a bright green field of Manzanita trees and oak trees perfect for the kids to play on.

We took a little walk around the campground and there wasn’t a bad spot we could find. Most of the campsites offer privacy in between with trees and brush and open up to a large space either on the creek side or the field side like we had.

We have spent the last year tent camping and rving with our kids and some tips that we have learned when traveling with toddlers.
-Have toys on the ready. We have a bin of outside toys that we set up with a baby gate and rubber rug and both kids will play in there discovering toys while we finish setting up.
-We also have toys inside like Legos, activity books, drawing so when the mornings are too cold or it starts to rain which it did on this trip we have fun stuff to do inside camper.
-We have two laptobs fully charged so we can get a movie in after dinner so they are have some downtown as well as time that my husband and I can relax and possibly have a fire.
-We try to not make plans set-in stone I try to be flexible as things can change quickly.
Saturday included blueberry and kumquat pancakes cooked with coconut oil (I stole this from my Mom) We did a little hike in the morning along with the creek under beautiful redwood an oak trees and it felt like we were in a coastal part of California like Marin not  Napa Valley. When it started to rain we came inside for lunch and then naptime.




I planed to make tacos for lunch but when my husband saw the can of spam that we been keeping in the camper along with the macaroni and cheese box he insisted on making lunch. The chef in me looked down on this lunch not thinking I would like it, but we all enjoyed it, it was very humbling.   It rained pretty heavily for the rest of the day so we were able to take a little night hike  which was wonderful for the girls to explore and see the creek by the light of the stars. We had never taken a walk before at night and it was a good experience for my toddler to overcome a little fear of the darkness. My husband took this picture at night in almost pitch black. Using a 30 second exposure he “painted” in light on all of the details.


That night I made Asparagus peanut chicken satay with the coconut milk and ginger rice. The girls loved it and it was quick and easy to make. Find my recipe below as well as how to make a vegan version.

The next morning, after another round of blueberry and kumquat pancakes, we packed up the camper and drove to Old Faithful Geyser about five minutes north from the campground.

The grounds features a Geyser spouting every 5 to 10 minutes about 30 feet high into the sky of hot mineral water, it was so beautiful to see the steam pumping out from the ground. I envision us coming back on a beautiful warm day enjoying the Bocce Ball courts, the grass area and the cabana. They provide wine glasses and anything you would need to bring a picnic, unfortunately when we came it was pouring rain. We quickly got to pet and visit with the baby goats that were born just three weeks ago and made a note to come back and bring a picnic and a bottle of wine in the future on a sunny day. 

After all the running in the rain we were getting hungry and about 2 miles south on the  highway is Busters Barbecue that opens at 10 o’clock right on the side of the road you can smell the smoke meats a mile away. We enjoyed some of the best ribs I’ve ever had, a great vinegary barbecue sauce this is a must and a great casual spot featuring great food. I get the barbecue sauce on the side so I can taste the smoke on the meats.

I think the best time of year to come back to Bothe State Park in Calistoga is going to be fall on a cool-dry weekend. Fall is my absolute favorite time to see wine country when all the vines are golden and red and summer can get pretty hot in that area making it a little miserable for camping but if you can brave it Bothe does have a pool. Another activiy we want to check out for next time is the petrified forest another 4 miles north of Bothe.

On a separate girls trip two weekends ago to Calistoga we went to Indian Springs Spa and had Spa Services and got to enjoy the amazing Hot Mineral Pool always at 101* if we do this trip without the kids I would definitely add this glamping experience to my next Bothe Trip.

I love finding spots like this in the middle of wine country experiencing nature while spending the night on a budget of $35 a night, can’t beat that price when most hotels nearby are $400+ a night.

15 minute-Asparagus Chicken Satay with Coconut Milk and Ginger Jasmine Rice

2 chicken breasts, sliced thinly or firm tofu, sliced thinly
1 thumb size of ginger peel on, and 1 tablespoon of minced peeled ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup of smooth peanut butter
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of salt
1 can of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of EVOO
1 lb of asparagus, ends trimmed and thinly sliced into coin shape
1.5 cup of jasmine rice
*add 1 teaspoon of minced Jalapeno or Sambal Chili paste for heat

In a saute pan on medium heat add olive oil, chicken, garlic and ginger and saute for 2 minutes. If spicy add the heat element at this moment.
In a sauce pot add thumb size of ginger, rice, 1 teaspoon of salt and open can of coconut milk. Push the creamy coconut milk to one side of the can with a spoon and let liqoud of coconut milk pour into a measuring cup. Should be around 1/2 cup, fill the measuring cup with water so coconut milk and water equals 3 cups. Reserve creamy butter like coconut milk for peanut sauce. Bring rice mixture to boil and reduce to simmer and cover on low for 15 minutes until rice is cooked.
Add creamy butter coconut milk to chicken with peanut butter, asparagus and soy sauce. Cover with 1/2 cup of water and let simmer on medium-low heat until chicken and asparagus is cooked through, cook until rice is done and serve.
*For vegan use firm tofu instead of chicken, I love the Siracha Firm Tofu sliced thinly and seared in EVOO. Remove from pan then start recipe adding tofu to sauce at the end.

Upside-Down Plum Cake

Perfect for brunch or dessert this moist cake is versatile and can be made with whatever fruit you are loving in season. I have a wonderful harvest of plums on my plum tree and absolutely love baking with them in this upside-down cake.




10 plums, pits removed small dice
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3 Tablespoons of We Olive Blood Orange Olive Oil

For Cake- 1 ½ cup sugar
2 cups flour
1t each baking soda and baking powder
1 t kosher salt
1 ¼ cup We Olive Blood Orange Olive Oil
1 cup milk
3 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 375* Line a 9×13 cake pan with parchment. Spray with oil. Lay plums onto bottom of pan. Combine brown sugar and olive oil and pour over plums. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk together. Whisk wet ingredients into dry. Add zest and pour over plums. Bake for 1 hour until golden brown. Flip onto serving platter let cool and serve.