Garlic Herb Shrimp – Fancy without the Fuss

Check out this new post that I wrote for the Cooking with Covection Steam Blog on Garlic Herb Shrimp.

Aren't they fancy?

Aren’t they fancy?

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Cooking with Convection Steam

A simple and elegant appetizer - Crostini with fig jam, prosciutto, basil and balsamic.

A simple and elegant appetizer – Crostini with fig jam, prosciutto, basil and balsamic.

I am a contributor to another blog called Cooking with Convection Steam. I will be focusing on entertaining. Please check out my first post about crostini. Plus, learn all the wonderful things about cooking in a convection steam oven. It is a great site with lots of great information and yummy recipes.

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Oscar the Grouch Would Love This

Can I say that I’m in serious like with a trash can? I’m in the kitchen a lot, and my hands are often goopy, so I want a can that will open without my hands. I used to have one that would open automatically when I placed my hands over it, but it suffered a slow and painful death. Mostly it was painful for my patience as it wouldn’t open when I wanted it to. The best part of that trash can was how it scared people when they’d walk by and accidentally open it, a sort of kitchen physical comedy show.

This is the greatest trash can I've ever owned. I'm a rabid fan.

This is the greatest trash can I’ve ever owned. I’m a rabid fan.

So I began searching in earnest for a new can that would fit my discerning needs. There’s only one place it can go in my kitchen. It needs to be rectangular-ish, open without touching, be easy to get bags in and out of, have the ability to keep the lid open all the time, and match our other appliances (stainless). I found this Simple Human 45-Liter Butterfly Step Can at Bed, Bath & Beyond. After searching all over the Internet, I decided this was the can, $120 plus 20% off of course. (Never buy anything at BBB for full price!) At first I was dismayed to discover that my Costco trash bags didn’t fit. This can required a special Simple Human trash bag. Arg! It came with five sample bags and wouldn’t you know it, they’re bigger and stronger than my Costco bags AND I found them online in bulk for about the same amount I pay for the Costco ones. (Free shipping with Amazon Prime.)

All in all, I love this trash can. It is stylish, really durable, opens easy, closes slowly, holds a ton, and the bags are super strong. While I won’t hang out in it all day like Oscar, I am usually hanging out with it in the kitchen.

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Georgia Cannery

More to share from Isabella.

Isabella Barcellona Photography

Our next site was the Georgia Cannery in Stevenston. This was one of my favorite places I was able to shoot. It was a big challenge because the light was not very cooperative and it was quite dark in the cannery with strange artificial lighting.

These colorful fish were attached to the fence outside of the building.


This adorable dog was waiting for his owner right outside of the door. I thought his face conveys the thought “I don’t care” perfectly.


Some cool object that were hanging on a wall.


One of my favorite pictures from the trip. These were under some machinery in the back of a room and I thought they made an amazing black and white photograph.


Walking out of the room where I took the previous picture was taken, I spied this old light bulb in the window and thought it looked cool.


I had an…

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Nitobe Garden

My daughter’s latest photos from her trip to Canada. I have to share.

Isabella Barcellona Photography

I was able to take the amazing opportunity to go to Vancouver, Canada with a photography class from my university. This will be documentation of some of my favorite photographs from this trip. On the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver there is a spectacular Japanese meditation garden. In my trip to Vancouver this was our first site we were shooting at. We arrived just before they opened the gates, and though it was small, there was much to look at.

There was a small waterfall near the back of the garden and I decided to experiment with my shutter speed to show the flow of water.


Here is the full length of the waterfall


In the lake I noticed that the reflection of the bridge, and the tree next to it, were near perfect. I even liked how the murkiness of the water gave everything a green tint…

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Have a Drink on National Iced Tea Day

Toasty doesn’t adequately express the weather in Nor Cal right now — 104 degrees today! In the famous words of the Wicked Witch of the West, “I’m melting!!!” A tall glass of iced tea sounds particularly nice right now, and since it is National Iced Tea Day today, particularly appropriate. I posted this day last year too and listed a link to get a free sample of my favorite iced tea, SPORTea. This tea is super tasty and energizing, but has no caffeine. I  lived on the stuff when I was pregnant with both of my girls. I buy mine at Elliott’s Natural Foods (several locations in Greater Sac Area), but I’ve seen it at Whole Foods and I know you can purchase it at a variety of locations online including the SPORTea website. If you’re Amazon Prime members, you can order and get free 2-day delivery.

the best iced tea

My favorite tea is SPORTea!


So pour yourself a nice big glass (maybe add a splash of your favorite spirit to make it adult?), sit in the shade or in the AC and enjoy! – Chef Ro

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Happy National Donut (Doughnut) Day

Today is National Donut Day! When I was at Pepperdine University, we’d zip along PCH, speed up the incline to Santa Monica and hang out at Pier or the mall. Inside the mall was a donut palce, which I thought was kind of wierd, but we always seemed to stop by there. They had GI-NOR-MOUS peanutbutter and chocolate donuts, kind of like the one pictured here. Everyone knows that PB and chocolate is my all time favorite food combo, so any time I entered the mall, it would call to my belly and chubbie thighs.

chocolate and peanut butter donut

A donut for Resse’s Peanut Butter Cup fans.

Now, this was really a land mass of a donut. I can’t imagine the amount of calories, fat and sugar that was in that thing. It certainly didn’t help aleviate the Freshman 15. Even splitting it with a friend, we’d both feel sick afterward — but it was soooo worth it!

I still haven’t tried the cronut but I want to. I hear the original place that invented them no longer make them, so I’ll have to find a good imposter somewhere or do a homemade version.

If you didn’t have a donut for breakfast, have one for dessert tonight and enjoy! You can even get a FREE donut of your choice today at any Krispy Kreme or a bunch of other local shops. A donut once a year won’t hurt your thighs and it is great for your attitude. – Chef Ro

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I’m Feeling Like the Queen Bee with Royal Jelly

I’ve heard over the years about the benefits of royal jelly and have wondered about trying it. One of my girlfriends recently started using it and says that it has helped her sleep better and lessen some of her menopausal symptoms. I figured I’d give it a try. Heck, I’ll be 50 in a few months, might as well do what I can to look and feel like I’m still on this side of 50.

bees making royal jelly

Worker bees busy making royal jelly for the Queen Bee.




Imperial royal jelly

A jar of pure royal jelly from Whole Foods.

What is Royal Jelly?
Royal Jelly is the powerful, milky substance that turns an ordinary bee into a Queen Bee. It is made of digested pollen and honey or nectar mixed with a chemical secreted from a gland ina nursing bee’s head. Sounds gross. An average bee lives just seven weeks, but a Queen Bee, fed only royal jelly her entire life, lives seven years. Now that is some kind of anti-aging and longevity plan. Royal jelly is used by some as a dietary supplement and fertility stimulant. It is loaded with all of the B vitamins plus some trace minerals and vitamin C, enzymes and antibacterial components. Contrary to what you might think, it isn’t sweet like honey. In fact, it has a tart, interesting flavor. You can certainly get used to it, or drizzle a little local honey on it for good measure.

Burt's Bees royal jelly eye cream

Royal Jelly is used in beauty products as an anti-aging ingredient.

Holistic Medicine
Royal jelly is collected and sold as a dietary supplement either as the pure jelly, which must be refrigerated, or as capsules, claiming various health benefits such as stimulating stem cells in the brain, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic effects, cholesterol-lowering, inhibiting the vascularization of tumors, increasing energy, boosting metabolism and increasing sexual performance…to name just a few. It is also used as a component in some skin care and natural beauty products, helping to keep skin smooth, toned and elastic. The jar that I have recommends ¼ teaspoon per day.

Is Royal Jelly a New Phenomenon?
Royal jelly’s powerful properties have fascinated people for thousands of years, going back to the time of the ancient Egyptians who used it to keep their skin glowing. It was even used to help preserve the mummies.

My Results
I’m not going to get into anything too personal here, so this is what I’m willing to share. I’ve been on it for about six weeks now and I do fall asleep much faster and sleep sounder. (I’m still not sleeping through the night but that is a rescue cat and hubby snoring issue.) Here’s the weird thing…my eyelashes are longer and fuller. Seriously. Consider the fact that as a pale-skinned redhead, my eyelashes are virtually invisible. I had a makeup artist ask me once if I even had eyelashes. (I could’ve asked her if she even had manners, but I didn’t.) So I’m loving that. And I do feel I have more energy although that could be a combination of things – exercise, diet, yoga, sleep, etc.

Regardless, I’m feeling good on it. I try to avoid putting chemicals and drugs in my body, so this is a win so far in my book. I purchase it in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods, and until I start a beekeeping operation, will continue to do so. FYI – Whole Foods has a page on how to help increase our bee population and why that’s an important thing to do.

What Do You Think?
I’d love to hear if any of you have had experience with royal jelly. Comment below. Thanks! Chef Ro

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Happy National Jelly Bean Day

What is your favorite Jelly Belly flavor?

Living within driving distance of the Jelly Belly Factory, I’ve been there far too many times on school and girl scout field trips. Were they ever making my favorites like lemon, tangerine or grapefruit while I was there, no! They usually were making some odd flavor like popcorn. Thankfully, I was never there when they were making the vomit, dirt or booger flavors of the Bertie Botts collection.

America's favorite Jelly Bean.

America’s favorite Jelly Bean.

Jelly Belly makes far more than Jelly Beans. In fact, I just discovered that they make Sunkist Fruit Gems, which I love! (Of course, I generally just eat the citrus flavored ones.) Check out the entire line of Jelly Belly merchandise and maybe pop on over to the factory for a visit.

Enjoy! – Chef Ro

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Happy National Peeps Day

My friend Adrianne (last name withheld to protect the strange) and her sister both love Peeps, but one likes them “fresh” and the other likes hers stale. I put fresh in quotations because I don’t really think a Peep could ever be considered fresh. Did you know that Peeps contain carnauba wax, the main ingredient in car wax? Holy crap! Learn the nutritional anatomy of a Peep from Shape magazine.

Beep beep goes the Peep.

Beep beep goes the Peep.

But, hey, everyone has their snack foods that they don’t want to live without, no matter what they’re made from. I didn’t realize there is an entire Peeps culture, along the likes of Hello Kitty. You can buy just about anything you want with a Peep on it. Check out the official Peeps web page — because there are tons on unofficial pages — and you’ll find recipes, sweepstakes, art, products and so much more.

Who thinks I like Peeps? Pretty safe bet to guess that I don’t, never been a fan of marshmallows unless they’re home made and fresh. (It seems like I’m posting about a lot of stuff this month that I won’t eat.) Well, for those of you who don’t mind a Peep staying in your stomache for 25 years…come on! I’m sure someone’s mom said that at some time…enjoy your special time of year. – Chef Ro

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