The Real Housewife of Santa Monica

Archive of ‘Snack’ category

Taco Cups


Some nights you get home with ravenous kids – there is no time to chop/assemble & bake or even to boil pasta water. This is the dinner for THAT night!

I saw it on Pinterest a few months ago.

So far, about 50% of the recipes I’ve tried from Pinterest have convinced me that it’s the PHOTOGRAPHY that is good, not the necessarily the recipe.

Now I’m a little more careful about reading the recipe before trying it. It’s got to taste good.

This one was a pleasant surprise! Taco cups in won-ton wrappers. This is seriously the easiest, quickest dinner to throw together.

You need:

(I tried it with vegetarian ground “meat” but I didn’t care for it so ignore that in the photo!)


- won ton wrappers
- refried beans
- shredded Mexican blend cheese (or cheddar etc.)

- jalapeños
- taco sauce
- diced tomatoes
- diced onions

Preheat oven to 350.

Fill muffin tin with won ton wrappers.

Spoon refried beans into won ton wrapper.

Add any toppings you like. I tried some with meat substitute but nobody liked it so I stopped. I also put shredded cheese on half of them since M hates melted cheese.

Yesterday I made them with 1 sliced jalapeño (jarred) on each of mine. I then sprinkled taco sauce on top of that. Yes, that thick nasty taco sauce you get at Ralph’s. I don’t care!! I love it!! Spicy ketchup!!

Bake for 5-7 minutes. Won tons should be getting browned at the edges. Once you figure out how your oven works (I use the toaster oven to avoid heating up the house in the summer!) you can decide how many minutes.

There is always that tenuous moment when you present new food to the kids. It definitely helps if they haven’t snacked since lunchtime though.

She LOVED them!

Bea didn’t like them until I broke hers up. I don’t think she has enough back teeth to really chew them. Now she loves them! (Bea not pictured.)

M thinks she has long black hair when she wears this hat.


Taco Cups
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 


10 minute dinner – great for kids!
  • won ton wrappers
  • refried beans (I use a can)
  • shredded Mexican blend cheese

  1. Preheat toaster oven (or real oven) to 350.
  2. Line muffin tin with won ton wrappers.
  3. Spoon beans into won ton wrappers.
  4. Sprinkle shredded cheese & any other fillings you like on top.
  5. Bake for 5-7 minutes.

You can make as many or few as you like. M ate 5 or 6. Additional topping ideas: – jalapeño slices – taco sauce – diced tomatoes – diced onions


Wanna-Be Gilbert’s Carrots


The only reason we moved into this house was it was the closest one we could find to Gilbert’s El Indio.

What’s Gilbert’s, you ask? It’s a casual neighborhood Mexican restaurant 3 blocks from us. I’ve been going there for 15 years and still love it. It took me a while to realize the food is just OK. But I don’t go for the food. I go for the carrots & the margaritas. There’s nothing like a Gilbert’s marg on the rocks with salt! I don’t dig frozen margs. Unless that’s all there is, then I’m like, “Yes, pu-leaze!”

Aside from the margaritas, the pickled carrots are real draw.

They are spicy, but not too spicy, salty, but not too salty, & oregano-y. Yum, yum, YUM – don’t get me started. I just can’t stop eating them. By the time my food arrives (which is pretty darn fast, actually) I am so full up on carrots & margs that I really don’t need my entree but I like to be classy & order one anyway.

This place is TOTALLY family friendly! What I mean by that is you can wear WHATEVER you have on (even mud splattered mountain biking gear), children are more than welcome & the food comes out in about 3 minutes. They have high chairs & will make up a plate of beans & rice with shredded cheese or whatever you want even if it’s not on the menu. I just order a beans/rice plate for my kids to share. Then they eat everything else off of my plate.

Two notes: It’s not the most vegetarian friendly place (read: chips are fried in LARD – you can actually see yourself in the chips) BUT it does have a vegetarian burrito and a chile relleno both of which are tasty ENOUGH supplemented by your carrots & margarita(s). I recommend 2 margs on the rocks with salt. Don’t go over 2.

Almost forgot the second note: it’s CASH ONLY. If you forget your cash – go next door to the liquor store or launder mat & use their ATMs.

Forgive the poor photo quality. I will make these again this week & post better closeups.

Anyway, I was thrilled to find this copycat recipe on the internet(s) a few months ago. Apparently someone else is as crazy about these carrots as my friend Kinga & I are. I tried it and it was spot on! I still need to sneak some of my carrots over there for a true taste test which I’ll do when Kinga gets here…

These are reeeeeeeeeally easy.

All you need:

10-12 large carrots, peeled & sliced at an angle
1-2 small white onions, sliced
1 sprig fresh oregano (left whole)
2-4 bay leaves
2 c white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
3-4 tsp salt (to your taste)
3-4 jalapeños, sliced (or use jarred Jalapeños – I added about 1/4 c jarred)

Directions called for diced onions. Next time I make this, however, I will slice them. The onions are not the star of this show so you want to be able to get at the carrots without wrestling with hundreds of tiny onion pieces. So just slice them longways. (I’m not even going to show you the photo b/c I don’t want you getting confused!)

Ok. Here we go: combine carrots & jalapeños in a large container with lid. I didn’t have a lidded glass dish so I just used a huge mixing bowl (non plastic).

In a large sauce pan, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer for 2 minutes.

I actually ran out back to check my garden and then forgot to run back in. When I finally came inside my pot was boiling away merrily, and I do mean away as it was on HIGH. Everything turned out fine though!

Pour the hot liquid over the carrots & jalapeños making sure all vegetables are covered.

Let it cool to room temperature on your counter.

Pour into some kind of lidded dish (glass is best) and chill in refrigerator for 3+ hours.

I got some of these lidded jars at IKEA of all places. They have larger ones too.

YUM these are sooooooooooo good!! I actually ate them all myself.

And then, the other day, after I made & ate all those carrots, I found that Gilbert’s actually shared this recipe with the world via the LATimes way back in the 90′s. So I’ll try that recipe next & post the results.

Wanna-Be Gilbert’s Carrots
Recipe type: Relish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4

Zesty, spicy marinated carrots! Great as a relish for Mexican food or just for pregnant ladies.
  • 10-12 large carrots, peeled & sliced at an angle
  • 1-2 small white onions, sliced
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano (left whole)
  • 2-4 bay leaves
  • 2 c white vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3-4 tsp salt (to your taste)
  • 3-4 jalapeños, sliced (or use jarred Jalapeños – I added about ¼ c jarred)

  1. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, combine carrots & jalapeños.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil for a few minutes.
  3. Pour hot liquid over carrots/jalapenos.
  4. Allow to cool to room temperature on the counter.
  5. Chill in refrigerator (in lidded container) for 3+ hours.

These should store in your fridge for 1-2 months!



Source: Go Go Zoe

Southern Caviar

My friend Nina once described her food tastes and “high-low brow.” The same can be said of me. I was raised on Steak Ums, Ortega taco kits, Fluff N Nutter on Wonder Bread, Rice Krispies, Creamy Italian salad dressing over iceberg lettuce and canned wax beans but we were also fed fresh corn & blueberries from the roadside stand and my mom always had lots of fresh fruit around the house for snacks.

Although I like to eat healthy for the most part, I still have the taste for some of the old style food.

This bean dip serves to capture both worlds and you can make it healthier if you want to! G and I both LOVE this dip!! We can’t get enough of it. I had it at my friend Charlotte’s daughter’s birthday. I literally stood next to the bowl devouring it like a hungry wolf. Lucky for me she told me how to make it. Thanks, Char!


You need to make this the night before you plan on serving it.

All you need:

3 cans of black-eyed peas (or about 2 c dry beans)
3 bell peppers (you can do whatever colors you like! I like it colorful.)
1 small onion, finely diced (I recommend a red onion for its looks)
2 ears corn, shucked & the corn cut off (or 1 can white shoe peg corn)
1 small bottle Paul Newman Italian dressing (I used “Lite”)
handful cilantro, chopped
OPTIONAL: fresh or jarred jalapeños
OPTIONAL: 1 small jar sliced pimentos

Finely chop the peppers. You’ll want them small enough to be easily scooped up onto a chip!

Cut the corn off the cobs. Finely chop your onion too.

Drain & rinse your black eyed peas.

Love these!

Here’s the weird part. Trust me here.

Remember these things? I think my mom used them for her Chicken A La King.

Kermit Smoothie

Some call this the “Shrek” smoothie. Since my kids don’t know Shrek as well as Kermit I called it a Kermit smoothie.

They LOVE it!

1 frozen banana
1 c frozen peaches
1 c frozen mango chunks
2-3 c cold almond milk
2-3 ice cubes
2 handfuls spinach
OPTIONAL: splash lemon or orange juice

Honestly, I don’t measure this stuff! I put about half the frozen fruit into the blender & 1 c of the almond milk & blend. Then add the ice cubes. Blend. (Add as much more almond milk as you may need.) Add the rest of the fruit. Blend. Then add the spinach. Blend. As you can probably tell, I don’t have a powerful blender. If you have a Vita Mix or whatever you can probably toss it all in at once!

Start out using less almond milk until you get used to it. It’s easier to thin the smoothie out than it is to make it thicker.

I love to add a few ice cubes and 2-3 TBSP lemon juice since it’s a sweet drink and needs a little acid.

You can’t taste the spinach at all! My kids LOVE this! They have had variations on this one for the past three days. What’s the spinach for? Spinach is SOOOOOOO full of vitamins!! And it makes a crazy bright Kermit green smoothie! (Unless you add blueberries & strawberries, in which case it makes a gnarly brown smoothie that is still delicious.)

There’s my other “smoothie” on the left. A STRONG coffee.

The kids drink it from those plastic cups you get at restaurants.This one is from Benihana’s. And the beer cozy (koozie?) is courtesy of a pre-kid weekend up at the Tuolumne River. Classy!

Maddie wants to call it “Frog Pillow Smoothie” after a particularly filthy little someone special to her.

Kermit Smoothie
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 3

Perfect vehicle to transport raw spinach from your fridge to your kids’ stomachs!
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 c frozen peaches
  • 1 c frozen mango chunks
  • 1-2 c cold almond milk
  • 2-3 ice cubes
  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • OPTIONAL: splash lemon or orange juice

  1. Combine ingredients in blender. Blend!
  2. Adjust amount of almond milk to make smoothie thicker or thinner according to your desires!


Homemade Microwave Popcorn – 3 Ways

London. 1994. I was sleeping on someone’s floor that summer. We decided to go see “Reservoir Dogs” at the cinema. (Yes, I called it “cinema” to get you in the frame of mind.) I ordered popcorn. Crammed a large fistful into my maw. What the WHAAAAT??? Sweet? It was sweet. AND savory. Mmmmmmm…like an adult’s Cracker Jack.

People were smoking cigarettes in there. The good old days!

Last week, a new friend was telling me how to make microwave popcorn in a brown paper bag. (Thanks, Kristy!) I remembered seeing something about it on Pinterest so I decided to give it a whirl.

Today I got a hankering for the sweet version so I looked up some recipes. Most of them called for what most Santa Monica moms consider the devil of all sugars: corn syrup (which makes a mean pecan pie) but I thought I could find something more “natural.” It came out real nice. REAL nice!

Btw: if you’re interested, here’s what’s in Pop Secret, Premium Popcorn:

    INGREDIENTS: Popcorn, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Modified Cornstarch, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavor & Artificial Flavor, Lactic Acid, Monosodium Glutamate, Color (Yellow 5 Lake & Yellow 6 Lake), Nonfat Milk, Freshness Preserved by Propyl Gallate.
  • That isn’t sooooooo bad. But check out this one!

    INGREDIENTS: Popcorn Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn, Palm Oil, Salt, Freshness Preserved with TBHQ and Citric Acid. Pouch Ranch Seasoning, [Buttermilk, Salt, Tomato Powder, Monosodium Glutamate, Cornstarch, Sugar, Whey, Sodium Diacetate, Onion Powder, Citric Acid, Garlic Powder, Spices, Cheddar Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Lactic Acid, Natural Flavor and Artificial Flavors, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate, Canola Oil, Artificial Color (Including Titanium Dioxide, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Blue 2 and FD&C Yellow 5) Maltodextrin, Disodium Phosphate, Less Than (2%) Silicon Dioxide Added as an Anticaking Agent], Buttermilk Powder, Salt, Onion Powder, Natural Flavoring, Modified Cornstarch, Tomato Powder, Citric Acid, Spice and Herb, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Spice and Coloring, Artificial Color, FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Red 40.
  • [from

    1/4 c popcorn kernels
    1 TBSP olive oil
    salt to taste (1 pinch up to 1/4 tsp)
    brown paper bag (OR a vented lid which can be laid across a micro safe bowl – prolly more eco friendly)

    First I’ll show you how to make the straight up kind, then I’ll share a couple of variations.

    Combine kernels, olive oil & salt in a small bowl.

    Unceremoniously DUMP into a brown paper bag (or your bowl – incidentally, I plan on using a bowl with a vented lid as soon as I GET a vented lid.) But hey, I had a package of brown paper bags from 2009 – when I was teaching 6th grade.

    Some recipes advised STAPLING the bag. Listen, I used to bus tables at The Old Heidelberg in Naples, FL and will never forget the sparks that flew when I put a wicker bread basket with staples in the micro. Nor the ass-chewing I got from the cooks.

    I folded my bag.

    Unsure of how long to microwave it, I pushed the “POPCORN” button.

    Then, b/c I missed the heavenly trill of the smoke detectors, I pushed it again.

    Dad-blame it!!

    So I tried it again. This time I just pushed the popcorn button once. When I heard the popping slow down, it happened to turn off. I suggest you stand right by your microwave and when the popping slows down, turn it off since all microwaves tend to have different POWER.

    The second time it came out perfect! I added a little salt.

    Now for the flavors.

    1. SPICY. Add a tsp of spice rub to the kernel/oil/salt mixture. I used Tony Chachere’s spice rub.


    2. HERB/PARMESAN. Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs to the kernel/oil/salt mixture. I used rosemary & thyme.

    Make sure the herbs are coated in oil so they don’t burn. You can also mix them in the oil/kernel concoction for about 5 minutes prior to nuking so they can infuse the oil.

    Sprinkle fresh parmesan on top of the popped corn. YUM!
    (I forgot to take a picture of that.)

    3. SWEET. This is my favorite. Add 1-2 tsp of maple syrup to the kernel/oil/salt mixture. You still need the salt!

    Because of the sugar it seems to burn but it might be just caramelizing. Just pay extra attention to cooking time.

    It looks burnt but it’s not!


    Macro feature really can’t make my fingers/nails look dirty enough!


    Homemade Microwave Popcorn – 3 Ways
    Recipe type: Snack
    Prep time: 
    Cook time: 
    Total time: 

    Serves: 2

    Quick & easy snack. Sooooo much healthier than the store bought microwave popcorn!
    • ¼ c popcorn kernels
    • 1 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 pinch salt (you can always add more later)
    • brown paper bag OR microwave safe bowl with vented lid (lid can be bought separately)
    • creole spices
    • sprigs of fresh herbs
    • fresh parmesan cheese
    • 1-2 tsp maple syrup

    1. In a small bowl, combine popcorn kernels, olive oil & salt.
    2. Pour mixture into a brown paper bag.
    3. Fold bag several times.
    4. Microwave using “Popcorn” button. If you don’t have that button, try 2 minutes on HIGH but be ready to shut it off when the popping slows down!

    To add flavors: 1. SPICY: add spices directly to bowl of oil/kernels/salt. Continue as you did with the plain. 2. HERBS: add sprigs of fresh herbs to the bowl of oil/kernels/salt. Allow to infuse for 5 minutes. Continue as you did with the plain. 3. SWEET: add 1-2 tsp of maple syrup to the bowl of oil/kernel/salt. Continue as you did with the plain.


    Finally, the one con to making popcorn this way: there tend to be a lot more unpopped kernels than you’d get in the pre-made microwave popcorn bag. I’ve yet to find a solution to this problem but am interested in hearing if anyone out there has?

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