Roasted Anaheim Pepper Enchilada Au Gratin + Kale Roasted Anaheim Poblano Salsa

I absolutely love Au Gratins and this one is undeniably irresistible to say the least!  Au Gratins are normally considered a side but I think it’s the perfect entree served along with a fresh side salad.  It’s also amazing for breakfast, just cut a portion into small squares, place in a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil or dab of butter.  Turn it a few times allowing it to become a little crispy.  Top it off with kale roasted anaheim poblano salsa for a little heat and oh man is it ever delicious!


My mom paid Robby and I a visit before leaving on her next adventure.  My mom and her boyfriend Clyde are leaving for Panama in the beginning of December and are returning in May.  They will be living on a catamaran sailboat that Clyde recently purchased and are going to sail around the Panama area and enjoy winter in the sun.  I am so excited for them!  My mom’s visit was a short three-night stay, but I was stoked to spend some quality time prior to her leaving for her five-month journey!

 Robby and I wanted to show her a great time before she left for South America.  On Friday my mom and I had lunch among the redwoods in Ben Lomond at one of our favorite Italian restaurants “Casa Nostra“.  We both had the Kale salad with their homemade focaccia bread.  That evening Robby suggested that we have dinner at Ella’s at the Watsonville airport.  It’s a fairly new restaurant that Robby discovered in the local Aptos newspaper.  The food is incredible and the pizza is the best we have had in all of Santa Cruz County.


On Saturday we had lunch at the Bittersweet Bistro where I often order the Au Gratin with a side salad and fresh tomato slices.  It’s sooo good!  After lunch, we ventured off to the Natural Bridges State Park to check out the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve.  The Monarchs are there from October to February.  I could watch them all day!  Then we did a little wine tasting and shopping at the Swift Street Courtyard.  Needless to say, we spent Saturday evening at home.

 Sunday was my mom’s last day so we took her to a fairly new Italian restaurant named Gioconda for a nice Sunday brunch.  I have wanted to try this restaurant for quite a while so I was really excited!  We were in shock at how amazing the food was.  It is definitely one of the best restaurants in Santa Cruz!  Robby couldn’t stop talking about the Parmesan chicken potpie he ate.  My mom loved her frittata and I had a simple yet incredible arugula salad with raw artichoke, pomegranate seeds and shaved pecorino with a side of thinly sliced roasted potatoes.  Oh, and of course, some Prosecco was in order!  We spent the last few hours exploring the Santa Cruz Arboretum up near UCSC.  So, if you are ever in Santa Cruz, I recommend all the links above!


I like this au gratin with a crisp Pinot Gris or a grapefruity Sauvignon Blanc, which might seem strange but it works!  Obviously a Mexican beer would be great too!



Au Gratin
  • 2  Pounds. Yellow Potatoes – 1/8 inch slices
  • 5 Anaheim Peppers – roasted – diced
  • 2 1/4 Cups Jack Cheese – grated (for sauce) + 1 Cup (for layering) (about 12
  • 1 Cup Kale – chopped
  • 1 Cup Cilantro – chopped
  • 1/2 Large White Onion – diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Salted Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour (or brown rice)
  • 2 1/2  Cups Milk (I used 1% organic)
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 6 Sprouted Corn Tortillas
Kale Roasted Anaheim Poblano Salsa
  • 5 Large Tomatoes or 3 Pounds – blanched
  • 1/2 Onion – blanched
  • 2 Large Anaheim Peppers – roasted
  • 2 Small or 1/2 pound Poblano Peppers – roasted
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Cup Cilantro – leaves – packed
  • 2 Serrano – roasted (optional) – stem removed – cut into 4 or 5 peices
  • 3 Tablespoons Lime Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt – or to taste


Salsa, Anaheim Pepper and cheese. (you can make the salsa the day before)
1. Wash the Anaheim, poblano and serrano peppers for the au gratin and the salsa and place on the baking sheet.

2. Core tomatoes, slice in half, cut an x on the bottom and place on a baking sheet.

3. Slice onion in half, then cut each half into three pieces and place on baking sheet.

Turn the oven onto broil.

4. Place baking sheet on the top rack and broil for about 6 – 8 minutes. (check at 6 minutes)  Turn peppers over and broil for 4 – 5 more minutes.

5. When cool, take the skins off the tomatoes.  Remove the skins, cut off the stem and de-seed peppers.  (Leave the seeds in the serranos if you like it hotter)

6. Dice the five Anaheim peppers then set aside for the au gratin.

 7. Put the garlic in a food processor or blender and pulse until minced. Then add the tomatoes, poblanos, the remaining two anaheim peppers, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, sea salt and blend to desired texture. I did about 10 – 15 pulses.

8. Divide the grated cheese into two bowls and set aside.
 Cilantro, kale, potatoes and corn
1. Wash the cilantro and dry completely with some paper towels.  Pick the leaves off the stems and measure.  If still damp, dry them more.  Set aside in a medium bowl.
2. Wash the kale and dry completely with some paper towels, chop into small pieces and mix with the cilantro.  Remove a 1/4 cup of the cilantro/kale mix and mix it with 1/2 cup of the jack cheese and set aside until the end of the baking process.
Defrost the corn completely and mix with the remaining chopped kale/cilantro mix. Set aside.
3. Slice potatoes into thin slices (about 1/8-inch thick).  Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with water then bring to a boil, continue to boil for 2 minutes. (put a timer on)
4. Drain potatoes in a colander, rinse with cold water.  Dry them with a kitchen towel or a paper towel.  Set aside.

1. Add the onions to a saute pan with olive oil and saute on medium-low heat for 5 minutes and add garlic, continue cooking for 5 – 7 more minutes until the garlic starts to brown.  Continue to check the onions and cook until soft.

2. Add butter and salt.  When butter is melted, add and whisk in the flour for about 2 minutes.

3. Slowly add milk a little at a time (this is important) while whisking constantly.  Continuing to stir, bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Add the 2 1/4 cups of cheese a little at a time, stir until the cheese is completely melted.

4. Add the diced peppers and mix in completely.  Cook until sauce thickens.


Preheat oven to 375

 1. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 3 quart casserole dish.

2. Add a layer of potatoes (if you have some that are thicker than 1/8 inch place them on the outside and the thinner pieces in the middle), add a thin layer of sauce, evenly sprinkle on half of the kale/cilantro/corn mix and then a layer of corn tortillas (I used 2 whole and one split in half), then spread a thin coat of sauce and 1/4 cup of cheese.

3. Repeat once more then top with the remaining potatoes and sauce.

 4. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes on the middle rack.

 5. Cover with foil and bake for 20 more minutes.

6. Take out of the oven and evenly spread the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and the kale/cilantro mix on top and put back in the oven for 15 minutes uncovered until lightly golden and bubbly.

Let cool a bit before serving.


Health benefits:

Yellow Potatoes – Yukon gold’s content of potassium is higher than many foods and can help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. They have twice the amount of vitamin C as a Russet, which helps protects your cells from free-radical damage. Yukon’s are rich in B6 and antioxidant properties. It has a bit of Iron but the C helps the body absorb it. They contain fiber that helps reduces cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, helps prevent constipation and aids in weight loss.

Anaheim are a rich source of vitamin C, a ½ cup provides over 100 percent required daily intake for adults. They also have a good amount of vitamin A, which helps skin and eye health. Anaheim contains phenols; flavonoids and capsaicinoids that help the body fight free radicals, inflammation and promote weight loss. The bioflavinoids are powerful antioxidants and help strengthen blood vessels. They aid the immune system and contain vitamin E that helps to protect cells from oxidative damage and K, which increases bone mass more than any other pepper.

Spicy Cheesy White Bean Quinoa Chili

I relish a nice cozy bowl of spicy chili during these cold fall evenings.  The spicy hot sauce in this chili will warm you up and the beans and quinoa will satisfy your hunger.  It is packed with nutrition keeping you healthy during these cold months.  If you would like it to be less spicy, just reduce the amount of arbol chilies or omit them all together.


 This last Sunday my friend Alison invited me to a food and wine charity in Carmel to take pictures of her and her friend Becky who were playing music for the event.  Alison on banjo, Becky on fiddle and an upright bassist named Dan Robbins played some great bluegrass music while attendees sampled food from 12 local chefs and tasted wine from 12 local wineries.

  I met some really cool people at the event and two of them really stood out, chef Zacery and owner Tighe from the LionFish Supper Club in Santa Cruz.  They do catering and also host a really cool pop up dinner series every Tuesday night.  I will have to try it sometime.  Zacery made tiny mushroom tarts topped with ricotta salata.  He offered me one and I told him “unfortunately I don’t like mushrooms”.  His jaw dropped and then he said that he had converted many other mushroom haters and that I should just try one.  Guess what? I absolutely loved it!

Zacery focus is on healthy and sustainable cuisine.  He learned to forage in Oregon, where he grew up.  I was very inspired by his passion for foraging foods like fiddleheads, nettles, mushrooms and wildflowers, which he uses in his cuisine a­­s often as he can.  Ok, so nothing in this chili is foraged but it is still perfect for this time of year.


This chili is great with a Petite Sirah or a Pinot Noir for a red and a Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris or a Sauvignon Blanc for a white.  Or maybe you prefer a ice-cold beer to balance out the heat.  I would try it with a Hefeweizen.


Recipe: 8 – 10 Servings
  • 2 Cups White Beans
  • 16 Cups Filtered Water – divided
  • 1 1/2 Cups Quinoa – (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Hot Hot Sauce -( recipe below)
  • 2 Small Red Bell Pepper – roasted – diced
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 2 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Vegetable Bullion Cube – unsalted
  • 2 1/4 Cup Jack Cheese – shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Corn – fresh or frozen
  • Sea Salt to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 Cup Quinoa
  • 1 Cup Filtered Water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
 Hot Sauce – this is a half recipe for full recipe click here
  • 4 Dried Ancho Chiles – *Terra Dolce is a great brand for organic chile peppers
  • 7 Dried Arbol Chiles
  • 1/4 White Onion
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1 1/2  Cups Filtered Water (depends how thin you like it )
  • 1 Teaspoons Sea Salt

Garnish Options

  • Tortilla Chips
  • Radishes
  • Cilantro
  • Serrano Chilies



Add the onions to a 5 1/2 quart pot with the olive oil and saute on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue cooking for 5 – 7 more minutes until the garlic starts to brown.

Add the wine and bouillon cubes, mash the bouillon, cook until wine is reduced and syrupy.

Sort through the beans to remove any rocks and rinse.  Add the beans to the onions and add 12 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and turn to medium-high heat for 1 hour or until soft.  As the beans soften, add the remaining 4 cups of water as the water levels drop.
While the beans are cooking make the quinoa.


In a small sauce pan, add the quinoa, water and salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and turn to medium-low then simmer for 15 minutes. (I recommend using a timer)

 Then let sit with the lid on for 5 more minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking start making the hot sauce.


Hot sauce

in a medium pot, add the chiles and onion then cover with filtered water. Bring to a boil then remove from heat.  Let sit 10 more minutes.

Remove the seeds and stems from the peppers then put peppers, onion, garlic, vinegar and salt in a food processor or blender.  Puree.

Strain through a fine mesh colander over a bowl and press it through with a rubber spatula.  Scrape the outside of the colander to get all the sauce you can. Stir in the water and set aside.


The rest

When the beans are completely cooked add the hot sauce and slowly add the cheese.  When the cheese is melted add the corn and cook for a few more minutes.


Health benefits:

White Beans are a super rich source of dietary fiber, which is good for the prevention of constipation, also helps digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. They are great for heart health because of their significant amounts of folate (support of red blood cell formation, one cup of the cooked beans provides 63.7% of the recommended daily intake for folate) and magnesium (lowers blood pressure).  They are good for helping insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, and help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady energy.

Quinoa is a super food that is extremely nutrient rich and it is a complete protein source and high in fiber, which helps digestion heart heath.   It contains more antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients than any other grain. Unlike most grains quinoa has a significant amount of gamma-tocopherol of the vitamin E family, which helps some inflammatory issues.  It is a good source of magnesium (helps metabolism, cardiovascular, and blood vessel function, which is helpful for migraine headaches). Quinoa contains the antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol even more than in cranberries.  It is helpful in regulation of blood sugar and also reduces your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Bell Peppers are matured green bell peppers and have more nutrition as they mature.  They are super high in vitamin A which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision and are extremely high in vitamin C, so much so they have twice as much as an orange which makes it really good for the skin.  Red peppers are one of the highest veggies in lycopene, and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are also a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.

Honey Tangerine Chilcano

A Chilcano is traditionally made with lime juice, ginger ale and Pisco.  I concocted my own version using honey tangerines; you know how I always like to throw a twist on the classics.  The fresh squeezed honey tangerine juice from Peru enhanced the cocktail in a beautifully classic way. The sweetness from the tangerine adds a perfect delicious balance to the Pisco and the fresh ginger.  Pisco’s flavor is crisp, sweet and taste like a light brandy.

This “honey tangerine chilcano” is going to be the first of many from my new series, “Cocktails from Around the World”.



 My friend Lidia, whom I have the pleasure of working next to, was born and raised in Lima, Peru.  She recently turned me on to a traditional Peruvian cocktail, the Chilcano.  The spirit used in this herbal, sweet and tart of a cocktail is Pisco.

 Lidia tells the story about the conflict between Peru and Chile regarding Pisco. This has been going on for many years!  Peru claims originality of the Pisco spirit.  The town of Pisco Peru was well established before Chile changed the name of one of their towns. The town was originally called La Union and was changed to Pisco in 1936. The intention of the Chileans was to market their brand of Pisco as the original. History tells the truth.

 Peruvian Pisco has a much different flavor than the Chilean. Pisco Porton from Peru is much smoother and a little bit sweeter than the Chilean Pisco. They are both delicious, just different. I recommend trying each one and deciding for yourself which one you prefer.


Recipe: Makes 1 –  4 oz Cocktail

  • 2 oz Pisco Porton ( I prefer this brand)
  • 1 oz Fresh Juiced Peruvian Honey Tangerines = 1-2 Fresh Tangerines
  • 1/4 oz Fresh Juiced Lime
  • *1/4 oz Fresh Ginger Syrup
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Splash of Sparkling Water or Soda Water
  • *Mandarin Sea Salt for Rim

Profile – Classic/Sweet/Original Recipe

Glass – Coupe

Garnish - Candied Tangerine – recipe below

Keep in mind when making this particular cocktail that either the Peruvian or the Chilean Pisco can be used.

*Ginger Syrup

Recipe: Makes 6 Cocktails

  • 1 Cup Organic Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Purified Water
  • 4 oz Fresh Juiced Ginger = 3-4 large finger sized pieces of fresh ginger

Candied Tangerines

  • 1-2 Fresh Honey Tangerines
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar




Add juices, syrup and Pisco to a pint glass filled with 3/4 full of ice.  Shake.  Strain into a coupe glass.  Top with sparkling water and a dash of angostura bitters.

Use a fresh slice of orange or lime to wet the rim of the glass and dip in mandarin salt to edge the rim.

Garnish with a candied tangerine.

Ginger Syrup

In a small saucepan heat the purified water.

 Once the water comes to a boil, add the sugar and remove from the heat.

 Stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Add fresh juiced ginger. Let cool.

 (If you do not have a juicer I recommend adding the peeled ginger to the water.)  Bring to a boil then simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Remove the ginger and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve and let cool.

Candied Tangerines

Slice the tangerines in to 1/8 inch slices and coat with granulated sugar.  Place the tangerines on a baking sheet.  I prefer using a torch lighter to brûlée the tangerines, but as an alternative, you can turn the oven onto broil and place tangerines on the bottom rack.

Once the the tangerines become golden brown use a metal spatula to flip and torch or broil the other side.  (Be careful because the bubbling sugar can stick to your skin and seriously burn you.)

If you decide to use the oven to brûlée keep an eye on it because they can burn easily.

Cool completely before adding as a garnish.

 *  If there are any cocktails from your country you are fond of and would like to see on please send us your comments :)

Roasted Poblano Kale Falafel Salad Bowl with Tahini Jalapeno Vinaigrette

This salad is the epitome of comfort food.  It is spicy and it is hearty enough to be considered a meal.  It has so much flavor, texture and nutrition and the tahini jalapeno vinaigrette puts it over the top!


In my early 20’s I would daydream about things I wanted in my life and what it would feel like to have them.  Without realizing it I was practicing the art of positive thinking aka “The Law of Attraction”.  In the last 8 years I have really stepped it up and have been making it a part of my daily thought process.  It hasn’t always been easy but the more I practice, the easier it becomes.  It is almost second nature to me now.

 I first started with the phrase, “I am happy, healthy and safe”.  I would say it over and over again.  Now, I catch myself saying it without even realizing it.  While on my daily walk, I talk to the universe (God), and say thank you so much for everything in my life and I list out whatever comes to my mind at that moment.  It usually goes something like this; thank you for my amazing husband, my wonderful family (especially my mom and dad), thank you for my incredible friends and this magical place we get to experience and live in, thank you for my ability to work on my blog and all the inspiration and creativity in my life, etc.   If there is something specific I am trying to draw to myself, I say thank you for it as if it already existed.  I focus on what it would feel like with thoughts of gratitude and I do this continually.  Some things happen fast and others take time.

You might wonder how this has any effect in your life but trust me it changes everything.  What you focus on expands!  Being grateful for the things in your life attracts even more to be grateful for.  When we stress out or think things like “I could never do that” or “that’s impossible” or even being jealous of someone else’s life, you will attract stress, failure and jealousy into your life. Our thoughts and feelings are like magnets.  Have you ever had a bad day and things just seemed like they kept getting worse?  Have you ever stopped yourself and noticed things getting better?  It’s amazing to me, the many experiences I have drawn into my life.  One of those things was Robby!  We are both constantly saying thank you for all the blessings that have come into our lives.  One of those things is our health; we have made many changes to our diet and lifestyle. This falafel bowl is not only delicious but makes you feel good and has become a staple in our diet!


Because this dish is spicy, it pairs best with a slightly sweet or fruity wine like a Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling wine.  For a red you want a spicier wine like a Grenache or Syrah.


Recipe: 4 – 5 servings – 4 – 5 balls per salad

  • 1 Recipe Roasted Poblano Falafel – approx. 20 balls
  • 1 Recipe Roasted Poblano Jalapeno Hummus or Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
  • 1 Recipe Tahini Jalapeno Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 1 Head Lettuce – your choice – chopped
  • 1 Cucumber – peeled – cut in half – deseed  – thinly slice
  • 2 Tomato (I used Orange Heirloom) – diced
  • 2 Pita Breads – each cut into 12 triangles



Soak the garbanzo beans for both the falafel and the hummus over night.  Cook the beans for the hummus while you roast the poblano for both the falafel and hummus.  Next, make the falafel mix and tahini vinaigrette (recipe below) then refrigerate them both.

Veggies and Hummus

Prepare the lettuce, cucumber and tomato and set them aside in the refrigerator.

When the hummus beans are soft, drain, rinse and let cool.

Make the hummus and set aside in the refrigerator.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Scoop the falafel up with a spoon and toss them from hand to hand to form a 1 inch ball and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes then carefully flip them over for another 5 – 7 minutes.


Turn down the oven to 350 degrees

Cut each pita into 12 triangles and place on one side of a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until hot.

You can serve everything separate and let your guests serve themselves or arrange it for them.


Tahini Jalapeno Vinaigrette

Recipe:  1 1/3 Cup

  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Roasted Tahini
  • 1/4 Cup Filtered Water
  • 1/4 Cup (about 1) Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt


 Measure all ingredients and puree in a food processor or blender for about 1 – 2 minutes, you just want to make sure the garlic is pureed.


Health benefits:

Garbanzo beans are are super high in protein and extremely high in fiber, just one cup provides 50% of the Daily Value.  Because of the fiber they are great for your heart, lowering blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attack as well as help prevent constipation and digestive disorders.  Just one cup provides 84.5% of the daily value of manganese, which is a antioxidant that acts as a monitor of the free radicals in the body.  If you are low in energy the high iron content will help and will transports oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body.  They also help to balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Garbanzo beans are helpful for weight loss as they keep you full longer.

Poblano Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C; just one pepper has 95% of your daily value. They are great for your immune system; poblanos help reduce inflammation like in arthritis and asthma. They contain lycopene (a powerful antioxidant, giving many fruits and vegetables their color, especially tomatoes), which is great for the prevention of cancers in the bladder, prostate, cervix and pancreas. They are also helpful with increasing oxygen so the body can burn more calories 20 minutes after eating peppers.

Tahini is one of the best sources of calcium and a good source of methionine, which aids in liver detoxification. It is high in alkaline minerals helping in weight loss and high in vitamin E, which promotes healthy cell growth and maintain healthy skin and muscle tone.  It is super high in iron helping to prevent anemia.  It’s high in protein, lecithin, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15.

Stacked Greek Salad with Fried Halloumi Cheese and Feta Vinaigrette

This is a delicious and elegant salad.  This salad has that classic Greek salad flavors with some added juiciness from the feta vinaigrette and added texture from the halloumi cheese.


If you are into food blogs, you probably already know about the amazing blog “Adventures in Cooking” by Eva Kasmos Flores.  Eva recently traveled to Greece and while she was there, she posted and Snapchatted photos of Greek cats.  This sparked a fond memory of when I spent time on the Greek island of Crete.

My mom and I traveled to Greece to meet her then boyfriend Hal after we had just traveled through Asia.  The moment we arrived to the cute house in Crete where we planed to spend the week, a cat meandered into the house.  She hopped on my bed and started crawling under the covers.  I thought it was very cute.  She left shortly after and came back an hour later with a newborn kitten in her mouth. She jumped upon the bed and dropped the kitten and then left again.  Five hours had passed and still no sign of the mama cat.  We were starting to panic at this point and were thinking oh my God, she left us this kitten and she isn’t coming back.  My mom emptied one of her herbal tinctures and boiled some water to sterilize a dropper.  She sucked up some milk with the dropper and feed the tiny kitten.  Finally, the mama cat reappeared with yet another kitten.  She did this two more times. Yup, we had a total of four baby kittens and one mama cat living with us during our stay in Crete.  We fed the mama cat some fresh liver to give her some strength and also help her to feed the kittens more nutritious milk.  The mama cat and baby kittens were a lot healthier by the time we left. We told the people that we rented the house from about the cats and they said they would continue to look after them.  I still wonder whatever happened to them.


This salad pairs well with a Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir or some Greek Ouzo.


Recipe:  4 serving

  • Feta Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 4 Oz. Halloumi Cheese – cut into tiny 1/4 inch cubes
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tomatoes – 8 slices thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Cucumber – peeled – 24 slices thinly sliced
  • 1/2  Red Onion – thinly sliced into 4 rings or to taste
  • 10 Oz. Sheep Feta – 4 slices
  • Fresh Oregano – to taste

Feta Vinaigrette – 1 Cup

  • 1/4 Cup Sheep Feta Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4  Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Oregano Pita Chips – (optional)

  • 2 or more Pita – cut into 12 wedges
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano – minced
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste



Add garlic to a food processor or blender and mince.  Measure and add all other ingredients and blend well.


Rinse the halloumi and cut it into tiny 1/4 inch cubes.  Dry with paper towel.

Lightly drizzle some olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  I used a cast iron skillet. Some liquid will still come out while cooking, that is fine.

When the oil is hot, add the cubes of halloumi and cook for a few minutes to brown then flip the halloumi cubes with a spatula to brown on the other sides.  They don’t need to be browned on all sides, but they should be a nice golden color.  Set aside

Pita Chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roughly chop the oregano, then cut each pita bread into quarters and each quarter into thirds to make 12 triangles.  Place them in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with olive oil, oregano and salt. Bake for about 10 minutes, until crisp, turning once.


While the pita chips are baking, prep all the vegetables.

First lay a tomato slice on a platter, small plate or shallow bowl, then top with 3 slices of cucumber, a piece of feta, a few oregano leaves, a couple rings or more of red onion, 3 more slices of cucumber and a slice of tomato.

Drizzle with the vinaigrette, sprinkle the halloumi on top and around the stacks and sprinkle on some oregano.

 If you like kalamata olives you can arrange some around the bottom of the stack.

 I like to serve this with my Greek Style Lemon Feta Roasted Potatoes.

Other recipes with Feta Vinaigrette – Roasted Vegetable Salad with Feta Vinaigrette  & Greek Style Quinoa Salad with Feta Vinaigrette


Health benefits 

Tomatoes are great for the heart due to the extreme antioxidant support, niacin, folate and vitamin B6 that help the reduction of heart disease.  They are also high in vitamins A, C, K and potassium.  The choline in tomatoes helps assist the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.  It also helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.  Tomatoes are high in Lycopene the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color.  Cooking tomatoes breaks down the cell walls, which helps to release the lycopene and is better absorbed by the body with a little bit of fat like olive oil.  The Zea-xanthin in them helps filtering harmful ultra-violet rays, which protect eyes from “age-related macular disease.”  They are also a powerful blood purifier and great for skin and bone health.

Cucumber are a good source of A and B vitamins that gives you energy and the skin benefits from the really high content of vitamin C which ironically is primarily in the skin of the cucumber. They help eliminate toxins and keep you hydrated with the water content, which is 95% and the dietary fiber aids the digestion and helps with heartburn.  They are known to dissolve kidney stones by lowering uric acid levels. There is research in connection with reducing the risk of several cancers due to 3 lignin’s it contains. The juice is beneficial to diabetics due to a hormone it contains that help the cells of the pancreas produce insulin. Cucumbers help reduce cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure so its great for both low blood pressure and high blood pressure.

It is an excellent source of silica, magnesium, and potassium that help promotes joint health by strengthening the connective tissues and is great for you skin, hair and nails.