Homemade Smokehouse Almonds

I just love the smokiness of these almonds and they are a perfect healthy yummy snack! These are great on their own or with some picnic supplies like some fruit, a pesto, cheeses and wine : )


I remember eating these as a kid but they weren’t homemade and I couldn’t get enough of them!  I make these a lot for Robby to bring to work so he won’t be tempted by all the sugar everyone brings.


 I like them with almost any white wine sweet or dry, but they really go great by them selves and some beer!


I remember eating these as a kid but they weren’t homemade and I couldn’t get enough of them!  I make these a lot for Robby to bring to work so he won’t be tempted by all the sugar everyone brings.

Recipe – 3 Cups

  • 3 Cups Raw Almonds
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoon Expeller Pressed Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 Tablespoons Liquid Smoke
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 Teaspoons Coconut Flour


In a bowl mix almonds, grapeseed oil and the liquid smoke making sure all the almonds are evenly coated then add the flour and mix really well until the oil is absorbed in to the flour

then spread evenly on a baking sheet

Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven at 350 degrees

Let cool and then put in a jar and shake

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Kale Salad with Cucumber Parsley Pesto Vinaigrette

I could eat this whole salad in one sitting, it is so refreshing and flavorful, full of crunchy yummy goodness!


This weekend Robby and I had the pleasure of having our friend from when we were teenager’s daughter Sabastian stay with us!  We always enjoy having her around; we had a strange picnic on the beach with black beans, pico de gallo, diced roasted poblano, cheese, lettuce and wine.  I usually bring things like this kale salad that I will be doing today when I meet my friends Beto and Jill and Beto’s friend Matt (they have known each other since they were 5) and family that I haven’t met yet but heard so much about.  We are going to do a beach day again. I know such a bummer, right? Hehe


 Enjoy this with a Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, White Rioja, Beaujolais or Pinot Noir


  • 1 Head Kale
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Cucumber
  • 1 Large Carrot
  • 1 Small Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage
  • 3/4 Cup Cucumber Parsley Pesto
  • 2 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Dash Black Pepper
  • 1 Cup Toasted Almond or as many as you want

First make the pesto, (you can make a half batch or make the whole batch and have it on some toasted french bread along side of the salad!)

Toast almonds – spread out on a cookie sheet bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf on 350 degrees

In a bowl mix together the pesto, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper then set aside

Wash the kale and tear off main rib by holding the end of the stem and sliding off the leaves then chop in to thin strips

Put the kale in a large bowl with the olive oil and massage the oil in to the kale then cut the ends off the cucumber, peel, cut in half, scoop out the seeds then cut the halves in half and slice in to thin slices

Shred the carrot, dice the bell pepper, mince and measure the red cabbage

Mix the dressing, and veggies together with the kale well and enjoy

*Top with almonds when you are eating it don’t mix them in because they will get soft

Health benefits:

Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and it is a loaded with antioxidants which helps detox the liver. It is also an anti-inflammatory with omega-3 fatty acids, which is helpful for arthritis, joint pain and asthma.  Kale has more Iron than beef and more calcium than milk which helps prevents osteoporosis, joint flexibility and helps maintain normal bone health. It is great for cardiovascular support that helps in lowering cholesterol.  It is really high in vitamin A, C, and super high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K (anyone taking anticoagulants should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K that may interfere with the drugs.)    More on kale 

Italian Parsley has an excellent source of vitamins C and A. The Vitamin A in parsley supports the tissues that line your lungs andpromotes eye health.  And the C protects your retinas from the sun that causes free-radical damage. It is rich in lutein, which is an antioxidant that protects against macular degeneration. It is a good source of folic acid that is great for cardiovascular health. It is one of the richest herb sources for vitamin K making parsley great for your bones. The iron in parsley helps get rid of carbon dioxide and brings oxygen to your tissues.  It is an excellent blood purifier with its high chlorophyll content and a good remedy for lung infection or asthma. It is also rich in anti-oxidants and a good source of potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. 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.

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MacaLada Cocktail

I call this a MacaLada Cocktail it’s like a Pina Colada with Macadamia Nut Liqueur.  This is one of those tasty, strong cocktails that you just want more and more;  you don’t realize how many you’ve had until you are buzzzzed!


 After researching the history of the “Pina Colada” which literally means strained pineapple; I noticed there are quite a few stories and recipes associated with the pina colada along with the argument about who the actual creator of this summery cocktail was.  Amongst the many recipes the one that intrigued me the most was the one created by Monchito … “Pour 3 ounces of coconut cream, 6 ounces of pineapple juice and 112 ounces of white rum into a blender or shaker with crushed ice…”  I think I like it because it’s simple, this is basically a very strong cocktail; this is where the inspiration for this concoction comes into play. Oh and… we had this delicious liqueur poured on top of our Pina Colada’s when we were in Hawaii, outstanding!  Thank you Ryn for getting me a bottle for my birthday:) 

MacaLada-Cocktail--- Recipe:  Makes 1 Cocktail          Profile:  Sweet, Strong, Creamy~Original Recipe

  • 2oz Dark Rum
  • 1oz Trader Vics Macadamia Nut Liqueur
  • 2oz Coconut Cream
  • 1oz Coconut Simple Syrup
  • 1oz Pineapple Juice
  • *4 Coconut Ice Cubes

Garnish:  Pineapple Wedge or An Umbrella


 Add all ingredients to shaker with coconut ice, shake and pour over big coconut cream ice cube.  Add a little dark rum float on top if u want or a sprinkle of nutmeg

*Coconut Ice Cubes:

  • I can of Coconut Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Simple Syrup ( 2 Parts Coconut Sugar to 1 Part Warm Water, stir well until dissolved )


Mix together and fill your ice cube trays, I like to use the cool square ones you can get at a bar supply place

*There are a couple ways you can serve this drink; blend with crushed ice to dilute the drink  or make coconut cream with coconut syrup ice cubes to serve on the rocks so as the drink melts it won’t get watery but stay delicious (the later being my favorite way)!

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Robert Porter ~ Phoenix Artist/Mixologist

If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Sanctuary Resort on Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley Arizona make sure you visit the Jade Bar at the resort and experience one of resident Mixologist Robert Porter’s fabulous cocktails!  This guy has a few amazing talents; I had the pleasure of interviewing him and seeing some of his amazing art as well
At what age and how did you begin your journey into art?

 I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember. Even in preschool and the first grade I would never do my writing assignments, instead I would draw cars, airplanes and horses all over my papers. My teachers would tell my mom to make me stop, but she said she wouldn’t stop my artistic development

What inspires you, is there a certain artist or something specific that gets you excited? 

Today I’m inspired by many mediums.  I love classic artists’ like Van Gogh, Monet, Dali and the way their art is more of a dream than reality.  I’m a huge comic book geek!  The best illustrators are Todd McFarland, Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee.  However there is NO greater artist than Norman Rockwell; the way he portrays early America is brilliant.  I can be inspired by anyone who is passionate about their own talent; musicians, chefs, dancers, athletes and people who challenge themselves are the greatest motivation to work hard at what moves you in life

 Did you go to art school or were you self-taught, and did you have a mentor?

Growing up I always took some sort of art class.  Not so much to learn how to become a better artist but because I enjoy having a place to create.  I tend to procrastinate about art when I’m at home.  I have a BA in Graphic Design and have taken tons of drawing and painting classes.  I have been a freelance artist from time to time and even studied life drawing at Phoenix College

What mediums and techniques do you use?

All of my paintings are acrylics, I have never worked with oils but I plan on changing that soon.  I’m colorblind so my favorite medium is charcoal pencils; with pencils I can go from delicate to heavy in single stroke I really enjoy the raw purity

 What kind of art would you like to do that you haven’t done and why?

The art forms that I someday want to explore are sculpting and music.  Would love to learn to play any instrument; the piano, guitar even the violin

Another great talent of yours is Mixology, How long have you been bartending?  

I’ve been a bartender for 9 years and worked only in resort environments.  My first gig was for a Holiday Inn, next a Sheraton, then the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale and finally at the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain where I am a resident mixologist

Robert Porter Mixologist

What is it you draw inspiration from to create your cocktails?

Most of my ideas come from food, I’m inspired by food mainly things I enjoy eating especially salads, soups and entrees that have a combination of fruits, herbs, nuts and spices. Our tongues are made up of multiple taste buds. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory based on that there are so many great flavors and textures to work with

 Did you take any additional schooling for mixology or classes?


The publishing company that I worked for was sold to a large corporation out of Florida, in an attempt to cut cost and streamline the business they chose to relocate in another state.  That meant I needed to find new employment.  I was interested in bartending but really had no idea where to begin.  So in 2004 I went to the Bartending Academy in Tempe, Arizona, to most bartenders that is a total poser move, it helped me get my foot in the door for my first job; I was thankful  and really learned a lot.  I was a bartender at Trader Vic’s for more than 4 years.  Vic’s is a classic Polynesian restaurant and Tiki lounge also home/creator of the Mai Tai and many other Tiki cocktails

Since I began bartending I studied under Ryan Magarian, a master bartender and consultant out of Portland Oregon who is a magician when it comes to technique and crafting cocktails

I have also had the pleasure of working close to Chef Beau Macmillan while being at the Sanctuary he has been a great inspiration with his immense amount of knowledge about food pairing and the importance of using fresh ingredients. He has been a great mind to inspire me to push my own limitations


Have you ever been in any drink competitions?

I have been a member of the USBG (US Bartenders Guild) since 2012.  I’ve had the opportunity to compete in competitions for Sailor Jerry Rum, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Appleton Rum and Bombay Sapphire Gin. I also participated in a radio interview for “Money Talk Radio”; a column for an online publication called  “Modern Day Nomads” and most recently featured on “Foodable TV” a show called “Across the Bar”

Do you have a cocktail you are most proud of?

The cocktails that I am most proud to call my own are “The Phoenix” a martini made of rosemary, honey, grapefruit, black pepper and Nolets Gin. My “Cucumber Gimlet” made with muddled cucumbers, mint, lime, St. Germain, and egg white; also a cocktail I call “The Rendezvous” consisting of muddled blackberries, lemon, mint, vodka and topped with Champagne However my faves do change from week to week.  I try to myself by crafting something new and exciting all the time

Would you like to own your own bar someday or have any future plans with your art? 

I would love to open my own Tiki Lounge my main focus would be put on the best hand crafted cocktails and a wonderful variety to Pu pu platters; I dig the scene.  The place will be fun, inviting and elegant at the same time; filled with Tiki torches, warrior masks and bamboo. As for my art, it may sound kind of cheesy but I love to share it with others who appreciate my vision.  I feel very fortunate to be a creator and able to express myself in a way that others can enjoy

Robert Porter Facebook 

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Gateau Basque Cake

This has got to be one of the best cakes in the whole entire world!  With its shortbread like crust filled with pastry cream heaven!!!


I lived on Maui in my early twenty’s and I worked at a little French Basque restaurant named “La Vie en Rose” where I first discovered this amazing cake.  I am a sucker for a good pastry cream and I love shortbread so the first time I tried this cake it was heaven on earth.  I made it one time when I had my restaurant and haven’t made it until now.



 A few years ago I asked my friend Beto if he had tried this cake before because he had spent time in San Sebastian Spain and of coarse he had.  I bought the perfect pan for it and had intended on making it then but I never did.  It was Beto’s birthday and I asked him what he wanted me to make and he said ” there is always the Basque cake” I though omg this is going to be a challenge due to the fact that I have to make it my own and not just copy a recipe so I researched the s%#& out of it and I pulled it off, everyone loved it even Robby who isn’t a fan of any thing creamy.


 I used ground almonds in this one, which makes it a bit denser but it has such a great texture.  There are many versions and one is with a black cherry preserve, but I prefer the cream.

Try it with milk, tea or coffee for non-alcoholic drinks.  For a wine a nice Muscat Blanc or a sparkly wine such as a Cava, Txakoli or Prosecco.


Recipe: 6 – 8 Servings


  • 1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 Teaspoon Rum
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Pastry Cream

  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 3 tablespoons Flour
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 Vanilla Bean
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Rum

Instructions: The Pastry

Put butter in freezer 1/2 hour before

  In a big bowl mix the flour, sugar & almonds

  Take butter out of the freezer and cut it in small cubes on top of the flour mix

 With your hands mix ingredients well leaving little balls of butter

In a bowl beat the eggs, lemon zezt and rum then mix them with the flour mix and mix thoroughly still leaving the little balls of butter

Put mixture on plastic wrap and shape in a rectangle then put it in the fridge.

Refrigerate for at least an hour or put in the freezer for a 1/2 hour

While that’s getting cold start the pastry cream

Instructions: The Cream

First butter a 8 inch round cake pan or pastry dish and put in the freezer

Measure and pore the milk in to a saucepan and slice the vanilla bean on one side open flat and scrape out the seeds in to the milk then bring to a boil

 Beat the sugar and eggs then add the rum and stir in the flour

Add the hot milk slowley to the flour and mix then pour back in to the sauce pan and cook over very low heat stirring and remove from the heat when the cream begins to boil

Add the butter and stir

Preheat the oven to 375′F

Cut the dough in 1/3 and a 2/3 piece and place the 1/3 piece back into the freezer

Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and roll out the 2/3 in to a circle of about 10-inch circle (you can roll in between to pieces of parchment paper if you like)

Line the bottom and sides of the baking dish with the dough pressing it on the sides and make as even as you can about 1 inch up the sides

Fill with cooled pastry cream and spread evenly

R oll out the 1/3 of the dough to a bit bigger than 8 inches and carefully drape it over the filling then pinch the edges together to seal in the filling

Make a crisscross pattern on top and brush on egg yolk diluted with a tiny bit of milk or water.

r Bake it for about 30 minutes or until golden brown

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Roasted Padron Peppers

These are delectable little peppers from Spain.  The Padrons are an heirloom pepper, they are a combination of sweet, nutty & peppery and only very occasionally a little spicy.  They are a delicious, simple and easy tapas snack, simply roast, sprinkle with salt and eat. YUMMMeeee…


My friend Beto turned me on to these little gems!  Beto and his girlfriend Jill were lucky enough to live in San Sebastian Spain for 1 1/2 years learning all about the Spanish cuisine.  The crazy thing about these peppers are that for the most part they are very mild but every once in a while you can get a really hot one, it’s part of the fun don’t you think?


Try these with a nice glass of Verdejo, white Rioja or Sauvignon Blanc


Recipe - 2 Servings

  • 1 Basket Padron Peppers
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Maldron Salt to taste


Wash and dry the peppers well, you don’t want them to have water on them or they will splatter in the oil

Add olive oil in a cast iron skillet or on a stovetop grill on med-high heat for 6 -8 minutes, stirring frequently

When the peppers are browning and blistered sprinkle a little Maldon salt over them

Serve them with a small dish on the side for the stems

Health benefits:

Padron Peppers contain calcium, iron, protein, vitamin A, B1, B2, C as well as capsaicinoids that help the body fight free radicals, inflammation, help the digestive system and promote weight loss. They improve the blood circulation areduce high blood pressure.  They also help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and promote healthy cholesterol.

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Roasted Poblano Cilantro Pesto Kale Salad

This is unique full of flavor salad and the best part is it’s what I had on hand which means you can add or subtract ingredients that you have or like better, keeping to the Mexican theme of it.  A couple ideas would be corn, red bell peppers, avocado and jicama.  What else would you use?


 This weekend was a beautiful one to say the least. Everyone assumes California is always sunny but that isn’t true here in northern California, actually we have more sun in the winter than the summer most the time. Don’t get me wrong we do have nice summer days but we have a lot of foggy days too. Since it was a beach day I made this salad to bring, along with some roasted poblano cilantro pesto, P’ tit Basque cheese, Mahon cheese, raw walnuts and almonds, Fuji apples, grapes and some Albarino wine. There is nothing better than a picnic in my opinion!


 I enjoyed this salad with Albarino wine but it would also go well with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, White Rioja or a Rose.

Roasted-Poblano-Cilantro-Kale-Salad Recipe – 4 – 6 Servings

  • 1 Head of Kale
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Cups cooked Black Beans
  • 3/4 Cup Roasted Poblano Cilantro Pesto
  • 2 Large Tomatoes (I used yellow)
  • 1 Roasted Poblano Pepper
  • 1/4 Red Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage
  • 1/4 Cup Cilantro (optional)
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeno Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt


Start the black beans, while they are cooking make the pesto and roast the poblano (all can be done the day ahead)

Wash the kale and tear off main rib by holding the end of the stem and sliding off the leaves then chop in to thin strips

Put the kale in a large bowl with the olive oil and massage the oil in to the kale

Dice in to small piece the onion, poblano and red cabbage and measure , then add to kale

Mince the jalapeno and add to kale

Chop the tomatoes and set aside

Mix together the pesto, vinegar and salt add to kale and mix well then drain the beans and add along with the tomatoes

*You can also mix the dressing with the kale and mix everything else in a bowl and top on individual servings of the kale.

Health benefits:

Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and it is a loaded with antioxidants which helps detox the liver. It is also an anti-inflammatory with omega-3 fatty acids, which is helpful for arthritis, joint pain and asthma.  Kale has more Iron than beef and more calcium than milk which helps prevents osteoporosis, joint flexibility and helps maintain normal bone health. It is great for cardiovascular support that helps in lowering cholesterol.  It is really high in vitamin A, C, and super high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K (anyone taking anticoagulants should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K that may interfere with the drugs.)    More on kale 

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.

Cilantro is an immune-booster that helps detoxify the body by loosening them from the tissue, binding to and pulling out toxins and heavy metals.  It helps promote healthy liver function and is an overall digestive aid.  It is a powerful anti-inflammatory that may help symptoms of arthritis and joint pain. It also helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar. It is rich in antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins (one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K) and dietary fiber.

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The Phoenix Cocktail

The Phoenix Cocktail is a local bartenders creation; it’s a fabulous hot summer day drink with fresh grapefruit, a hint of rosemary and the slight spice of the black pepper. It is an amazing culinary cocktail creation.

Robert Porter is a house mixologist at the Jade Bar at Sanctuary Resort on Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, Arizona.  Check out Robert Porter’s Interview with me coming to Cali-Zona soon; I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime check out Foodable TV Across the Bar with Paul Barron featuring Robert Porter at Jade Bar

Phoenix-CocktailRoasted Tomatillo, Poblano and Jalopeno Pesto

His inspiration for the cocktail is from being raised here in the Valley of the Sun where he grew up. The pepper in the drink adds a little spice and looks like the ashes that the bird of fire is reborn from.  He likes to flame the grapefruit peel oil on the garnish with a match, adding a fire element to process.


Recipe: Makes 1 Martini            Profile: Fresh ~ Original by Phoenix bartender Robert Porter

  • 2 oz Aviation Gin
  • 1 1/2 oz Freshly Pressed Grapefruit Juice
  • 1/2 Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 Clover Honey Syrup (1/2 Warm Water 1/2 Honey)
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 10 Fresh Rosemary Sprig Pieces


Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake for 8 seconds with large cubes.  Double strain into a martini glass.


Martini Glass or a Coupe      Garnish: Grapefruit disc with a rosemary sprig through the middle

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