Honey and Vinegar Pork chops

If you are looking for the easiest and fastest dinner, look no further. This was a throw in the pot, set the timer, and eat kind of meal. I am not a huge fan of pork chops. Mainly because they can be so boring. Plain, barbecue, Parmesan crusted, and stuffed are the main recipes I found online. It was difficult finding something with a little more flavor. At last I found something with a little more appeal from Predominately Paleo. The Instant Pot really allowed all the flavors to seep into the meat.


Season your pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides.  Sear your pork on both sides in your Insta Pot by using the saute option. Add in garlic, honey, and vinegar. I didn’t have balsamic vinegar, I subbed coffee vinegar instead to mix it up a little bit.


Secure the lid, make sure the valve is set to sealing. Select “Poultry” high pressure for 15 min. Quick release when the cycle is complete. Serve with your favorite side 🙂


  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 tbs garlic
  • 1/2 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 C local honey
  • 1/4 butter

Copy Cat GF/Dairy Free Zuppa Toscana Soup

It has been on the cooler side in the South Bay with temperatures in the mid 60’s. Soup seemed quite fitting for the evening hours as it cooled down to only 55 degrees. Since I have been on a mission to not make or remake something I already knew about, I reached out to Pinterest. Now, I didn’t come across this by mistake. My mom had told me about a soup she had at my cousin’s house. Curious, I asked my cousin what she had made. Copy Cat Zuppa Toscana Soup from Olive Garden. I had no idea what she was talking about. I have not been to Olive Garden in about 6 years; about the same time I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I found the recipe from “Recipes For Insta Pot” and gave it a whirl.

The ingredients were not to hard to get. I just needed to sub some of them out to ensure it was gluten free and dairy free. The baby isn’t doing so well with me eating a lot of dairy.

20180502_171404This was an easy one pot recipe. You can fry your sausage and bacon in a separate pan and then add it to your IP to make draining the grease easier.

Turn your IP on the sauté feature. Add the sausage, crumble with a wooden spoon while it is browning. Once browned, add in chopped onion and minced garlic. I waited 2-3 minutes before adding the bacon. The onions were translucent. Give your bacon a few minutes in the pot to release the fat. Turn your IP off. Drain grease from the IP. Leave sausage, bacon, onions, and garlic in your pot.

What was nice is my bacon and sausage did not have a lot of grease. Instead of draining the minuscule amount, I left it in for additional flavor.


Add in chopped potatoes and chicken broth. Stir. Select the pressure cook option for 4 minutes. Make sure to set steam release knob to seal.  It will take the pot some time to reach the accurate pressure. Once it does it will begin to countdown from 4 minutes. When completed, let it natural release pressure for 10 minutes, then quick release an additional pressure.

Remove the lid once you see the pin has dropped. Add in chopped kale. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Kale will look wilted. Stir in heavy cream. Serve, Enjoy!

This was so quick and easy. It tastes even better the next day when the flavors have a chance to blend even more. If using sweet potatoes like you see in the picture above, I’d recommend shortening the pressure cooking time. My potatoes came out a little over done with 5 minute cook time.



  • 1 lb hot sausage*
  • 4 strips of thick bacon chopped into small pieces
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4-6 medium potatoes*
  • 5 C chicken broth
  • 1 bunch of kale with stem removed, cut into thin strips
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream*



  • 1 lb mild GF sausage. Add in jalapenos when serving for additional heat
  • I used a half pack of regular bacon. Could not find GF thick sliced.
  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes.
  • 1 C dairy free half and half

Vegan GF Asian Pot Stickers

Truly, I fear making any type of gluten free dough. After a few bad pie crusts, cinnamon rolls, and chicken pot pie…..I vowed just to bake cakes for the rest of eternity. However, I have this Insta Pot that my in-laws bought us and I really needed to test its potential (or mine) Why pot-stickers/dumplings in an Insta Pot? I blame Master Chef Junior. The show did a team challenge on an episode a few weeks back where they did an Asian plate. 8-13 year old could make an entire plate in 60 mins, I could easily make one thing in an hr. It was enough motivation for me map out my quest to make Asian Pot Stickers.

Research. Research. Research. I finally found how to make the dough gluten free from Andrea Nguyen and her website. The key was to read the instructions, and follow them, not something I normally do. Next was to find a vegan/GF filling and how to steam in the Insta Pot. I found this from Healthy Slow Cooking Blog.

First the dough. Easy enough. Boil the water and remove until it stops bubbling. In a bowl have 2 cups of GF flour ready and create a well. I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 cup which already had xanthan gum added. Pour in 3/4 cup just boiled water and mix together. Keep in mind GF dough is rather sticky, but the more you knead it, the more elastic it becomes. It should be a semi smooth dough. Place in a plastic bag to rest for 30 minutes. I used a Zip Lock freezer bag. The resting portion is VERY important- do not skip

While the dough is resting, prep your vegetables. 20180423_172052

This recipe initially called from shiitake mushrooms, but my local grocer was all out. I subbed in baby bella mushrooms. Mince 1 C mushrooms and 1.5 C of cabbage. Shred 1/2 carrots. Add 1 tbs of oil to a pan and sautè mushrooms first until the release their juices. Toss in cabbage, carrots, soy sauce, and vinegar. Heat until mixture is dry. Add in 1 tsp of fresh ginger.


Next, the hard part. Rolling out all those dumplings. I’m no expert, so my dumpling rolling was done the best I could with out a dumpling roller. I STRONGLY advise investing in a roller. I already went and bought one after making these. I cut out my dumplings with a vintage biscuit cutter; it was the perfect size. Also the first time I had ever used it. I then thinned them out to what I “thought” was thin enough. Again…buy a dumpling roller.


Not pretty, or thin enough.

Fill your dumplings with 1 tbs of filling. Fold in half to create a crescent moon shape. You can crimp in 2 places if you’d like. GF dough is stickier, you do not need to water the edges to help them stick. Just smooth out and the dough will adhere to itself.


Dumplings need to be steamed in the Insta Pot (IP). No bamboo steamer? No steam rack? Not a professional cook? Great! Me Either HA. There are two ways to get around not having a bamboo steamer. First, you can use the vegetable steamer with the IP by adding 1.5 C of water to the bottom and spraying the steamer rack with oil. Place your dumplings side down on rack and lower into IP to steam. OR you can get creative. I used 3 canning rings placed in my IP. Then I created aluminum balls to sit a IP safe pan for 1 layer. I flipped the steamer/trivet upside down and created a 2nd layer. Laugh at this all you want….I thought I was a genius since I forgot this crucial accessory in my dumpling making prep work. No, I did not document this masterpiece.

Turn on your IP, put the lid on and make sure that the steam release handle is sealed. Select the steam setting and lower the time to 7 minutes. Open the steam release valve manually.

I was amazed how well these turned out. They were a little sticky given the GF dough. I ended up pan frying them 2 mins on each side for a little crisp in 2 tbs of butter. My husband and I gobbled them up so quickly that I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Maybe next time.


Ingredient List Filling

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil 
  • 1 cup (70 g) minced shiitake mushrooms
  • (or substitute white mushrooms) – baby bella tasted great too
  • 1 1/2 cups (105 g) minced cabbage – I used purple
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) shredded carrot
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce GF
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger


  • 2 cups GF flour for dumplings
  • 2 teaspoons xantham gum* if your flour does not include it already
  • or you can use 12 round vegan dumpling wrappers
  • 3/4 cup of water

A Break From Meat

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that my intake of red meat was increasing. Michael had mentioned even he was beginning to feel kind of sluggish. I needed a new vegetarian dinner to make to break the trend. Bring on the butternut squash. Not quite the season for it, but I found it on sale ($.99 per LB) at our local grocery and couldn’t resist.

A healthy vegetarian Mexican-inspired dinner -- butternut squash and black bean enchilada skillet. Ready in less than 30 minutes! 13g fiber & 16g protein per serving!Tried and true Pinterest provided some appetizing recipes, until I settled on one from Monique at Ambitious Kitchen in one of her posts via 2013. Her image of the finished result of Enchilada Skillet sold me as seen to the left. Plus I had a new vegetable peeler I bought specifically for peeling butternut squash (actually for all vegetables, but it was sharp enough to do the job) It is pretty awesome that I recommend checking it out on Amazon. precision peeler 



After making the butternut squash and enchilada skillet, I was telling my dad how delicious it was. He sent mom to ask me for the recipe. I made mine slightly different as in I didn’t follow the directions, and I left out the jalapeno. My pictures of making it aren’t professional, but it does give you inside look at a curious cook who loves to try new things. Blogging about food being one of them.

First you need peel your squash, cut off both ends, and then slice it down the middle for easier dicing. Then scoop out your seeds like your would a pumpkin or cantaloupe. If you aren’t sure, there are great pictures on Monique’s post. Bypass this completely if butternut squash is out of season or you simply don’t feel like cutting up squash, and buy the already cubed version in the vegetable section.

In a large skillet- I prefer cast iron- heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil, diced onion, and garlic, until onions are transparent. Add your cubed squash and sauté until squash is soft but firm. Too soft and you will have mashed squash in your skillet.  This takes about 10-15 minutes depending on your skillet. Add chili powder and cumin and toss until squash is coated.  Add the black beans until warm.










While your squash is sautĂ©ing, cut your corn tortillas into wide strips. I cut mine about 1/2″ wide across, and then cut those into 1” pieces. You can see my cut pieces in the picture below. Toss those in after the black beans. Add your enchilada sauce and 1/2 C cheese, stir to combine. Due to the warm day and no A/C in my apartment I omitted the other 1/2 cup of cheese under the broiler for 2-3 minutes from the original recipe. The outcome was still delicious.


Serve with sour cream, guacamole, or hot sauce! I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and found the tartness refreshing.




  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced, peeled butternut squash (from about a 2-lb. squash)
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 yellow corn tortillas, cut into thick strips
  • 1-15 ounce can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup reduced-fat colby jack or mexican cheese (or whatever you prefer), divided

Artisan Patisseries @ Kirari West Bake Shop


I first discovered this gem in Redondo Beach, Ca when my husband and I made our first trip out for his work. Almost 2 years later after we moved here and a few bakeries later…this is still my first choice.

According to their website, the bake shop first originated in Japan. The pastries were created using rice flour local to the area instead of the traditional wheat. It was the first of its kind. In 2011, an earthquake rocked the area and the food industry near Fukushima. Kirari held strong despite the negative impacts due to the destruction of nearby nuclear plant. While this was going on, Hiroyasu Saito (The Younger Brother) of the family, was living in the us since about 1996. He decided in 2014 the join the family decided to join the family business to create what is now named “Kirari West.” IT is said that “Hiro wishes to give hope and courage for people in Fukushima to come back from the earthquake and struggles from the after mess by being a pioneer for a small company from Fukushima to pursue a dream overseas.”

I love coming and enjoying the quiet ambiance of the bakery. Although it stays quite busy with people walking in and leaving, to those with call ahead orders, there is always room to sit outside basking away in the clear blue skies. Everything they bake is fresh daily, and their coffee brew is locally roasted in Los Angeles from City Bean Roasters. It is best when you can grab a fresh baked almond butter brioche that is still warm from the oven. There special recipe Brioche are top seller, and often sell out through out the day.


Almond Butter Brioche, Seasonal Pumpkin Pie, and Blue Berry Muffin

Along side their delectable pastries, is their short but just enough selection of hot/cold teas and coffees


Why not stay and enjoy an iced mocha just to get it in a mason jar? Simple and pleasing to the eye. If you are in a hurry, get it in one of their Eco-friendly plastic cups.


Don’t take my word for how extraordinary this place is. Go check it out

Kirari West is at 707 N Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, open from 7 a.m. to  6 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to  6 p.m. on weekends.

Is My Allergy Real?

I always wondered since 2011 if my Gluten allergy was real. I mean, I functioned fairly well up until that point. Was my symptoms all in my head? Could I just be imagining that pain in my back? But when my now husband made me quit eating anything that might contain gluten (oh the agony), I started to feel better. Also, because of this…it is one of the reasons we ended up dating longer than 4 months and got married 🙂 He loved me through it all.

Now fast forward to 2018. I am still completely free of gluten, and still getting asked “what is gluten? Is it a diet or an allergy? What does it feel like?” I don’t explain the gluten allergy as in depth as I used to. Honestly, I’m just tired of explaining it…its 2018 for Pete’s sake, and its all over menus now. I can’t say if I really know if my allergy is real. I don’t like to tempt fate and try eating a regular slice of bread. I did that once with something else and was out of commission for 4 days. The Dr’s office who drew my blood to test for Celiacs disease (2011) managed to lose my results. So really I have no idea of knowing unless I reintroduce it back into my life and get retested. No thanks, I like waking up feeling the sun on my face.

Living in California has definitely helped with our continued clean eating approach to life; thanks to the gluten fad diet well known to celebrities.  Plus, it is nice to have multiple farmer’s markets to chose from. Now that the baby is here, I have been able to incorporate some meat back into my diet. After not having meat for 6 months, I’m not really a fan. Sorry hubby! But now I wonder what allergies baby girl might have. Will she have to be on a gluten free diet too? Lord, I pray to you that she will avoid this. Will she have allergies like her dad and sneeze all the time. Will she have other food allergies? So many things I wonder about daily. I really just want her to be safe and happy. Oh and to be able to enjoy the finer delicacies in life like her mom and dad. Boy do we love food. Since she is only 3 weeks old (tomorrow), only time will tell. Here is to wondering if my allergy is real.





via Daily Prompt: Wonder

Prego Tardiness

This new 2018 post is definitely Tardy. But, I have good reason….I am just about 9 months pregnant and sluggish as all get out. Like WHOA, no one really prepares you for how slow you get. By slow, I mean a full out penguin waddle up and down the sidewalk; a to do list a mile long, because who really wants to do laundry; and falling asleep while standing up in the shower. Still no excuse, since my last post was summer 2017. Whoops!

My husband asks me multiple times why I don’t write more. It is mostly based on procrastination. I’ve been off work for a few weeks now before my due date (baby tried to come early), and honestly writing a post about my personal life wasn’t a top priority. Who really wants to read about what I have been doing these last few months? THEN I watched a VLOG. Now….let me just say this….I had no intentions of watching this person’s personal vlog, nor did I intend to watch 4 of them. HA! Then I realized how much I enjoyed keeping up with my friend’s live videos on Facebook. Which if we really think about it, its like vlogging. <—this might be a made up word, although it might be in a urban dictionary. That counts right?  What I realized is that these women were never tardy for their vlog, blog, or live streaming. It was their business.  They enjoyed what they did, and they didn’t let their negativity or that of other’s deter them from doing something they were passionate about. I had to ask myself what my road block was. It was my own lack of self confidence.

It is 23 days into the new year and I need a change of mentality. So with a Daily Prompt to help get me back on track, maybe I will try to make this a weekly thing. Weekly, because lets be real, I’ll be a new mom in the next 4 weeks. New baby=even more lack of motivation. Daily just doesn’t seem plausible. I am sure I will have plenty to write about and plan my blog updates accordingly. Until the next time


via Daily Prompt: Tardy