Throwback to Cherries Jubilee

Cherries jubilee … this dessert seems so old school! It was popular in the 50’s and 60’s, gracing fancy restaurant menus. These days this dessert seems pretty forgotten. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this option on a restaurant dessert menu, and my mom sure never made it! I had some very ripe cherries on their last leg in the fridge, and for some reason this dessert popped into mind (maybe I’ve been watching too much Mad Men, or the word jubilee is stuck in my head from the recent Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration). Regardless, I decided to give it a try!

Cherries jubilee is a cooked cherry/liqueur sauce that is flambeed at the end. It is usually served warm over vanilla ice cream.

The sauce by itself!

Time to dig in before the ice cream melts


1/8 cup white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon of meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)

1/2 pound sweet Bing cherries (pitted)

1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange or lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 cup brandy

vanilla ice cream

Combine sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Whisk in water and lemon juice. Whisk over medium-high heat until the mixture is thick and begins boiling. Add cherries and zest, then simmer for 10 -12 minutes. Warm the brandy in the microwave (about 10 seconds). Remove the cherries from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract and brandy. Ignite the mixture with a long lighter, shake gently until the blue flame burns out.
Let the mixture cool slightly, then pour the warm cherries over vanilla ice cream!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries Challenge

It all started at an unassuming restaurant in North Lake Tahoe. My mom ordered a sandwich and got some sweet potato fries on the side. Now, I’m not a big fries fan. I rarely, if ever, order them. However, I decided to give these fries a try and …. They were pretty darn good! They had a crispy coating, soft interior, and a curry seasoning on the outside. I liked the natural sweetness of the potato that came through. I decided to make some at home with some sweet potatoes I picked up at the farmer’s market. I baked the fries. I’m always trying to lighten up the food I eat at home!

I found two recipes online and just couldn’t decide between them. So, I decided it was time for a (drum roll please) SWEET POTATO FRIES CHALLENGE!!

The two are very different fries, but my taste tester and I were able to decide on a winner (revealed below)!

Recipe A: savory, garlicky, crispy fry

Recipe B: sweet, dessert-like, thick, sticky-coated fry

Taste tester and I both agreed … Recipe A is the winner! We decided that since the sweet potato is already sweet, the coating (containing graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon) on Recipe B resulted in an overly-sweet fry. Recipe A was a yummy balance of sweet and savory. Also, Recipe A was so crispy, which is a challenge to achieve when baking fries. Congratulations to our winner!

Recipe adapted from

Winning Recipe: 

3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into thin slices
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin

Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with foil. Mix the garlic and oil in a large bowl. Put in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm up and infuse the oil with garlic essence. Coat the baking sheet with about a tablespoon of the oil so the fries won’t stick (leave the garlic in the bowl). Add the cut up sweet potatoes to the bowl with the garlic/oil mixture, toss to coat evenly. Wrap the bowl tightly in plastic wrap. Put the bowl in the microwave and cook on full power until the potatoes start to get soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Shake  the bowl halfway through cooking.

Mix the cornstarch, salt, pepper and cumin  in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the hot sweet potatoes, tossing to coat evenly. Arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the baking pan and put in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, use a spatula to turn the fries over on the pan. Cook an additional 10 minutes or until the fries are crispy and start turning brown. Serve immediately with ketchup or a dipping sauce of your choice.

Blackberry and Strawberry Shortcake Sandwiches

My little brother graduated college this weekend in Santa Cruz! It was an exciting, family-filled weekend. Before the ceremony we checked out a farmer’s market in Santa Cruz, where we got yummy pizza from a mobile pizza oven (crazy!) and flavor packed gorditas sopes, and agua frescas from a Mexican stand. After the ceremony we proceeded up gorgeous Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay, where we dined on fresh seafood and prime rib. As we drove up the coast we saw numerous stands selling strawberries. I didn’t have a chance to purchase any of these berries, but it did remind me that strawberries are still in season!

I was back in San Francisco Sunday, and was thinking about those strawberry stands off Highway 1. I decided to go to the farmer’s market and pick some up. I bought a generous amount along with some blackberries. They taste like candy!

Now that I had the sweet, juicy berries, I thought of things to make. No way I was going to bake them, they had to be eaten in their raw form. I decided to make some strawberry shortcake! As I often do (why can’t I just follow a recipe?), I made my own spin on strawberry shortcake.

Strawberry shortcake already has so many variations, but when when I think of a traditional version I think of a sweet biscuit, piled high with strawberries and whipped cream. My shortcake was a cross between a soft cookie and traditional shortcake. The texture was a soft interior with crisp edges. They reminded me more of a cookie since they baked up pretty flat. The texture was much more delicate, and much lighter, than a typical biscuit-like shortcake. I’ve had many bland shortcakes in the past, so I pumped mine up by using buttermilk, orange zest, and vanilla extract to give it extra flavor.

I sliced the strawberries and let them macerate in a sprinkling of sugar and their own juices. I left the blackberries as they were.

When it was time to assemble the dessert I split the cakes, and piled them high with the macerated strawberries and fresh blackberries.


I topped with some light french vanilla ice cream before capping the dessert with the cake top. What a refreshing summer dessert!


1 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold butter

2/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a pastry cutter (or in food processor) cut in cold butter, until butter is in pea-sized pieces. In a separate bowl mix buttermilk with orange zest and vanilla extract. Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Using a #30 ice cream scoop, scoop onto a baking pan. Cook at 375 F for 12 minutes.

Slice desired amount of strawberries and sprinkle with sugar as needed (depends on sweetness of berries). Let sit for 30 minutes or so.

To assemble, slice the cakes (or use one whole cake as your base depending on the thickness you want for your cake, I like a thin layer of cake so I sliced mine). Top with strawberries, blackberries (if you have them), and any other berries you’d like to use. Put a scoop of ice cream on top of the berries. Place the top of the sliced cake on top. Enjoy!

Bananas for Banana Cake

Check the updated recipe on Real Working Girl

How often do you find yourself with overripe bananas sitting on the counter? That happens here a lot. Actually, I will intentionally buy extra bananas just to let them sit and get brown and squishy. Once they are sufficiently beyond the stage of eating raw, I usually proceed to make banana bread. But not this time … I wanted to try something a little different, banana cake! Recently I came across a banana cake recipe that drew me in, from a blog called Butteryum. Contrary to this blog’s title this cake actually had very little butter, which I am a fan of. It calls for two, just 2, tablespoons of butter for an 8×8 cake. Most cakes this size usually call for a full stick of butter! I knew I had to try this cake, and that it would be moist with the mashed bananas and sour cream (I used light sour cream to further reduce the calories)!

You may be wondering how this is different from banana bread. For starters there is a silky frosting. You don’t find that on banana bread! Also, I add brown sugar to my banana bread, giving it a deep, almost molasses flavor. This cake is different, it has a lighter crumb and texture. It’s even lighter in color reminding me more of a cake.
Here is the recipe, adapted from Butteryum! I used a different frosting recipe.
Cake: 2/3 cup sugar 1/2 cup light sour cream 1 egg 2 tablespoons butter, softened 3/4 cup mashed ripe bananas 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Cream together sugar and butter with a hand held mixer. Beat in the egg. Once incorporated beat in the sour cream. Add bananas and vanilla extract, then mix everything together. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Fold dry mixture into the banana mixture with a rubber spatula. Mix until incorporated, don’t over mix! Pour into a greased 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before frosting. Frosting: 2 tablespoons butter, softened 3 ounces light cream cheese 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon milk 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth with a hand held mixer. Add the milk and vanilla extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Taste the frosting for sweetness as you go (some people like their frosting sweeter than others). Beat until smooth. Frost the cooled cake. Check out my new blog for more delicious recipes:

Cherry Season is here

Yay for cherry season! In northern California, cherries can be found at any grocery store or farmer’s market right now. I like the deep red, juicy, sweet bing cherries. They are so delicious! I’ve been putting them over greek yogurt for breakfast and eating them for an afternoon snack. These cherries also bake up nicely, so I decided to make a dessert. I contemplated making either a cobbler or a crisp. I settled on a crisp. I just made a strawberry/rhubarb crisp a couple weeks ago, but I was still craving that oatmeal, brown sugar, buttery topping! The cherries baked down and released a rich, syrupy juice, but still maintained their shape. Perfect for a crisp filling!

I bought a cherry pitter for about $10. I think it’s worth it, it saves a lot of labor and effort! It’s kind of fun to use too.

I used the same recipe as the strawberry/rhubarb crisp. I simply replaced the strawberry and rhubarb with fresh, pitted bing cherries. 

Bok Choy, Chives and Garlic Never Looked so Good

Today’s post is all about my mom’s garden. She has been whipping up some beautiful seasonal dishes using homegrown and fresh ingredients. This week she harvested an abundance of young garlic, chives, and bok choy.

Young Garlic: You can look for young garlic at the farmer’s markets…’s kind of the latest rage and marketed as “green garlic”. My mom has it growing everywhere in the garden, and usually has to dig it out to make room for other crops. She uses young bulbs in everything. They’re kind of sweet, like onions, but have a garlicky kick. You can use a lot of young garlic without overpowering a dish with too much garlic essence.

Young Garlic

Chives: Chives provide a subtle onion flavor and you can use them to garnish all sorts of dishes like potato salad, soups, pastas, omelets, etc. Be creative! My mom uses all parts of the chive plant including the flowers, which are so aesthetically pleasing. During the summer she dries snipped chives and chive flowers for winter use. That way she can have chives anytime of the year.

Chives and Chive Flowers

Bok Choy: Bok choy is a cabbage and is seen a lot in Chinese cuisine. Bok Choy flourishes in my mom’s garden and she uses it to make simple vegetable side dishes.

Bok Choy earlier in the Spring, ready for planting. How’d that chick get in the picture?

My mom incorporated the three ingredients that we’ve mentioned from the garden into a healthy and beautiful side dish.

Ingredients being prepped on a cutting board

Bok Choy with Young Garlic, Chives, and Chive Flowers


Chop bok choy, young garlic, and chives (cut bok choy in 1″ pieces, slice garlic thinly, chop chives and chive flowers)

Put a saute pan on medium heat. Once pan is hot, coat the bottom with sesame oil. Add bok choy and garlic. Saute until tender. Then add chives with flowers, some red pepper flakes, and a splash of soy sauce. Serve and garnish with more chives and chives flowers.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole in 30 min!

I got home late from work today and rushed to get something on the table. I decided to make an easy chicken enchilada casserole in my 9×9 Pyrex dish that I’ve been using so much of lately. I had some corn, tomatoes, cilantro, and onion from the Farmer’s Market this weekend that I incorporated into the dish. I also used another Meyer lemon from my grandma’s tree to replace the lime for my pico de gallo (fresh salsa).

The casserole is really easy to assemble and I was able to get it into the oven and on the table in about 30 minutes. This dish is also low in fat. Not too shabby!

Pico de gallo time! Chop tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, and garlic. Squeeze lemon or lime juice over the mixture. Mix and season with salt, pepper.

Casserole out of the oven


1 can green chiles

1/2 cup of corn (fresh cooked corn or frozen corn)

1 cup of green enchilada sauce (I used La Palmas)

1 cup shredded cooked chicken

6 corn tortillas

1 cup black or refried beans

1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, pepperjack, or jack cheese will work)

Mix chiles, corn, 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, and chicken in a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes (or until mixture is hot).

Grease a 9×9 pan then put 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom  (so tortillas won’t stick). Layer 3 corn tortillas in the pan, covering the bottom completely. Spread beans on top of the tortillas. Put the chicken/chile mixture over the beans and spread evenly. Top with remaining tortillas and remaining 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce.

Cover with foil and bake in a 400 F degree oven for 20 minutes. Take the foil off and sprinkle the cheese evenly on the casserole. Bake for another 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and melted. Serve with sour cream, cilantro, and pico de gallo.