Tag Archives: cooking for beginners

“ONE LOVE” in a cup!

As a coffee lover, there’s nothing like opening a bag of amazing whole beans and taking a long, deep breath! That being said, I was so happy to stumble upon Marley Coffee. My husband is a huge reggae fan, so of course, Bob Marley is king. How do you combine his love of reggae and my obsession with good coffee? Marley Coffee. Yes, this is the real deal, founded by Bob Marley’s son, Rohan.

Artisan roasted, Marley Coffee is organic and sustainably grown. So far, ONE LOVE, is my favorite, but I have a feeling BUFFALO SOLDIER is going to win me over… “roasted sweet, this earthy blend is sultry, smoky and deliciously smooth. The dark chocolate and berry undertones leave a rich, lingering finish.”

Life is good.

Check them out: http://www.marleycoffee.com/

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Top Secret: Interview with BIG TV CHEF!

Guess who is going to be video chatting with one of the biggest chefs in America?!!! I cannot tell you who it is yet, but let’s just say that if your watch Food on TV, you will know and love this person! We’ll be releasing a series of short video conversations, so let me know what I should ask?

Think Mediterranean!

Post your questions here or on our Facebook page: facebook.com/cookingfortheclueless

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The Oprah Dream: What happened?

As most of you know, I auditioned for Oprah’s contest to have my “OWN” show on her new network, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). It happened on a Friday afternoon in May, when Oprah talked through the TV to ME and said, “Do you think you have what it takes to have your own show? Do people tell you should be on TV?” “Yes, and yes, totally” I said back to her! So, my hubby and I scrambled and filmed a short audition before time slipped away.

Quick segue: When we produced, Cooking for the Clueless, our DVD to help people who are super frustrated in the kitchen, our intention was to sell it in the big stores – you know, Crate & Barrel and Bed Bath & Beyond for all the newlywed shoppers that realize they can’t cook after “I do” and Target for all the 30-something smart shoppers in our “target audience.” What really happened was that C&B and BBB & Tar-jay said, “great concept, but you’re a nobody kid – we can’t carry your DVD!” Ok, so they didn’t use those exact words, but they said if I had a show, it’d be a different story. Thank God for Amazon. They love us. Anyway – just a little reality background for our die-hard fans.

The more I promoted the DVD, the more TV (morning shows) I did and got more comfortable in front of the camera and people would say, “What a great concept for a show!” I always felt it was but started to believe that other people agreed. Oh and the best confidence booster happened at the Tasty Awards – do you remember when we won the Tasty Award for best food DVD? (see acceptance speech here :0). After the show, a big-time producer from TLC (produces Cake Boss) came up to me and said, “call me, I like your energy.” That was awesome – but so far nada. And then there came Oprah, the grande mama of all hopes for almost every woman in America. My audition got 18,364 votes! Out of 465 online cooking entries, I finished in the top 25 or 30, I think. Not bad huh?

Finish the Oprah Story already…

Ok, so the voting closed about 10 days ago and in a delusional state, I thought I may have a chance for a call back, then I read that out of 10,000 people, only 35 were getting called for a second round of personal interviews. That deflated any hopes, especially since the only person calling me was my grandma. ” Oprah didn’t call?” she asked in Spanish. As if it were a given. You gotta love your grandmas!

Thanks to EVERYONE who voted for me on Oprah! It was truly appreciated and I love all of your support! Stay tuned for more local stories on the challenges and perks of moving from clueless to cooking in the kitchen. :0)


Filed under cooking 101, Cooking for dummies, food, frustrated, newlywed, starting to cook, tips for new cooks

You CAN eat locally, organically & on a budget!

The title of last night’s sold out food lecture, sponsored by The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, “How to Eat Locally on a Budget” was sure to draw a crowd given that our society is both obsessed with the economy and eating better/more consciously these days. We all know that eating organic and locally is better for the environment, but it’s easier said than done if you’re not used to cooking. There is a sense of elitism in the media surrounding those that can afford to eat like we should be eating. The all-star panel of published experts on the subject told us we had it all wrong and that this negative perception was only just that – a perception. The panel included:

Deborah Madison, Author, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
Leda Meredith, Author, The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Locally on a Budget
Jessica Prentice, Author, Full Moon Feast
Temra Costa, Author, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat – Moderator

I went to the event curious and somewhat skeptical as to whether or not I would get realistic and doable tips from the experts. Going organic and local is a great goal to strive for, but if you’re not used to cooking and you don’t really understand food, you may have to take a few (fulfilling) steps before it becomes a lifestyle. I’m happy to say that there was so much important and useful information packed into the 1-hour panel discussion. Let me get right to the best advice:

  1. Buy in PEAK Season: it’s good to wait for things to be in-season, but prices are higher at the beginning. If you wait till PEAK, prices drop by as much as 50% and taste is perfect!
  2. Walk the Farmer’s Market: Walk the entire market BEFORE buying. Often prices will differ throughout. Don’t be afraid to ask “why?” Price may be higher because a farm is organic-certified which costs more to run.
  3. Grow things Yourself! Understanding food can start with a little garden that is all yours to nurture and use. Ask for help at your local gardening store or get to researching on the web. Here’s a great article to get you started.
  4. Volunteer for FREE Food: Many CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) – you know where you order a box of veggies and/or meats/dairy from local farms and they get delivered to you or a local spot in your hood…provide a free box of goods in exchange for some volunteer hours from you every week. Many intangible benefits come with this idea (aside from free food).
  5. Eat Beans & Rice: Beans and rice have been a staple food of many native populations for a good reason – good nutrition, low-cost.
  6. Join a Freeze or Canning Party! Canning or freezing foods in bulk will save you time and money in droves. But it’s not very fun to do this by yourself. Join a party or host a day in the kitchen with some friends. Eating organic, local and sustainable is very much about community. Join the fun!
  7. Start a Farm. Urban farming is on the rise. Yes, we’re talking raising farm-yard animals even in the city. Read my Novella Carpenter post for some insight on the first time I ever heard of urban farming: Urban Farming: we’re talking bees, chicks & piggies
  8. Buy the WHOLE Chicken: buying skinless/boneless is more expensive. If you buy it whole, you can roast once day and stew the next.
  9. Go Mutton: Ok, I have to admit, I never heard of mutton until last night! Apparently, it’s the same as lamb, but where lamb is sheep 12 months or younger, mutton is 2 years and older having a stronger taste and less tender – but cheaper!
  10. Don’t Cook like it’s the Holidays Every Night! Sometimes having a filling bowl of soup and a crusty piece of bread is enough for dinner. Why torment yourself with making 3,4,5-course meals every night? Rethink the menu. Get simple and save the holiday-style meals for special occasions or company.

Ok…according to blogging “rules” this post is way to long – but there was so much good information to pass along. I’ll be taking some of my own advice and starting a garden (never thought I would ever) when I get back from Yosemite! Happy 4th of July!


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Amazing Grass!

Living in San Francisco and saying that I found “amazing grass” can certainly be confused for a few different things! But now that I’m cooking more, eating healthy has become a bi-product of what I crave. I’m becoming more and more comfortable in the natural food stores and craving foods that are fresh and natural. I have to say, the first time I walked into Rainbow Grocery, I was very intimidated. Everyone knew what they were doing and shopping “in bulk” and for all sorts of strange ingredients. I was pretty scared, being that I came from a “clueless” place. Now that I’ve been to quite a few “health” or natural food stores – I love that they have so many more options than the small “organic” sections at the big grocers which always seem a bit out-of-place – as if the marketing department at HQ said, “let’s get an organic section up asap.”

Back to that “amazing grass.” So, I was visiting Nature’s Food Patch on a visit to Clearwater, Florida looking for a healthy shake mix to get me started in the mornings and I found the most YUMMY mix ever. It’s called Amazing Meal (Chocolate Infusion) and it’s made by Amazing Grass, a San Francisco-based company! Ironic that I found it on the opposite coast when it’s made in my backyard. I mix it with almond milk and add 1/2 banana sometimes and although I love it because it tastes great, here are a few extra perks: it’s organic, raw, vegan, dairy free, non-gmo, gluten-free and soy free.

Check your local natural market or visit them at http://www.amazinggrass.com/ or in the Facebook world of course.


Speaking of vegan…by matter of pure coincidence, my brilliant cartoonist & comedian friend, Michael Capozzola, emailed his latest FOOD cartoon creation to me today. Enjoy and check out more of his work at http://www.capozzola.com/ or at the Chronicle.

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Springtime wishes in the kitchen

Many people have been asking me if I’m still “clueless” in the kitchen. That’s a loaded question! Well, the answer is no, not really or not as much. However, I will say that I have a long way to go until I feel like I can effortlessly rule the kitchen – which is my wish in the kitchen. Is it too romantic to wish a country home upon myself, with a big kitchen filled with the warmth of many home-cooked meals? When you’re coming from a clueless state of mind, learning how to cook takes time, effort and a little bit of sweat – just like getting into shape! Here are a few of the favorite things I’ve learned so far:

  1. Owning the supermarket! I started taking the advice of experts and shopping 2-3 times, buying fresher and menu planning. It’s been a few months now and we’re cooking more and spending way less. Check out our expert article on shopping for more help.
  2. Stocking up: Learning how to stock your pantry with necessities is as important as having the right tools in the kitchen. My favorite tools have become 1)timer, 2)meat thermometer 3) sharp chef’s and paring knives 4)timer and 5)hand blender/mixer
  3. My Fab Five Recipes: Instead of feeling overwhelmed by “hundreds of easy recipes,” I’ve picked a few favorites that keep us happy and cooking. Pan-seared Sea Scallops, Spaghetti al Pomodoro, Oven-Roasted Potatoes, Baked (but tastes as good as fried) Chicken Drumsticks, Stuffed Butternut-Squash, and Fresh Sausage, Root Vegetable & Bean Stew. Some of these recipes are favorites from the DVD and the others I’ve adapted from old recipes or my imagination. Now that I have some confidence, it’s becoming fun to play in the kitchen.

I hope you’re cooking more, loving life and dreaming up your own wishes in the kitchen!

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Dare to cook this V-Day?

It usually happens around the 3rd date or so – if things are going well! That was my pattern – yes, offering to cook a meal. It never phazed me that I didn’t really know how to cook. You would think that might be an obstacle, right? Well, I would usually search for a good recipe on foodnetwork.com (listed under EASY) and then I’d go to the little gourmet shop down the street – where ingredients would cost me a fortune. With wine, cheese and dessert store-bought, I’d be safe in that arena, so if the meal itself wasn’t stellar, I’d at least get mega points for ambiance and presentation :0).

In our newest expert article, read about one of my 3rd date cooking disasters and get great advice on how to plan for a seductive meal as Terry Dagrosa, founder and publisher of SeductionMeals.com gives us her best tips for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

Click here to view Terry’s seductive tips!


Earlier this week, I was on WINK TV making “Cupid’s Clueless Chocolate” – a delicious, quick and gourmet-tasting recipe for homemade chocolate treats that I learned from Chef Michael Munoz over the holidays. Chef Michael is Executive Chef at the City Club in San Francisco and founder of Fit to Be Tied – Gourmet Food and Fitness for Brides and Grooms. His recipes were awesome! If you’re a bride and groom looking to shape up before the big day (together), definitely contact him for help!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

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