lamb jam sf 2016

A short while ago, I was fortunate to be the winner of 2 tickets to Lamb Jam SF 2016 from Food Gal’s website.  It was such a fun event and I got to try lots of delicious lamb dishes from the Bay Area!  They had 4 different categories: Mediterranean, Latin, Middle Eastern and Asian.  And they had wine and beer and cider aplenty!  I never knew Syrah was a great pairing for lamb!  Now I know 🙂  I love learning new things.  I am not a huge fan of Syrah so I stuck with the beer and the lone Pinot Noir there!  Loved Kenneth Volk Vineyards!  I wanted to share with you a few highlights from the event.


The photo above shows the Baharat Braised Lamb Shoulder with Feta Hummus and a Cucumber, Preserved Lemon and Watermelon Salad from Kuleto’s.  This was such a delight and I loved biting into the tiny pieces of watermelon.  So refreshing!  I want to check out this restaurant just based on this dish!


This is a photo of Lamb Belly Pancetta, Pan con Tomate, Pickled Quail Egg and Cilantro Mojo from Thirsty Bear Brewing Co.  Not my favorite dish of the day.  It was generous in lamb portion but perhaps a smidge overwhelming.  This was in the Mediterranean room and unfortunately the other 2 tastings ran out by the time I made it to the room.


Spamb Musubi Licorice Tare, Kimchi, Egg Yolk from Blue Plate. This got mixed reviews from the folks we were chatting with at random tables.  I  thought for sure I was going to love it!  I mean, spamb, kimchi and egg?! But alas, the sauce was so overwhelming and the musubi fell apart as I took a bite.  It was innovative and I’d love to see this again somewhere! I appreciated the concept and think it could really be a winner.  This particular one fell a little short for me.


This is the Beer Braised Lamb Torta with Stone Fruit Salsa from Pacific Coast Brewing Co in Oakland.  I have to give it to these guys!  They were the last group standing.  They served these up till the bitter end with smiles and nothing but awesome attitudes. It must have been a logistically difficult event to feed so many folks but this group looked cool and seemed to even be having fun!  I was shocked to learn they are just down the road from where I work and I haven’t heard of them!  I will definitely be stopping by.  This torta was amazing and the flavors were bold and well balanced.  The sprouts and guac really added texture and freshness to this sandwich!


Ok folks. Here it is. The big winner!  Lamb Shoulder Pave Eggplant -Date Lutenisa, Sumac Pickled Corn and Cherry Bomb Harissa from Calavera Oakland!  Yay for Sophina Uong!!! Funny story about this and then the review of the dish.  We were standing in this loooooong line to get to EPIC Steak’s Coriander Roasted Whole Lamb, Tomato-Chickpea Stew and Garlic Herb Flatbread (which was AMAZING – so much so that I didn’t even stop to take a picture before inhaling it – sorry guys!) .  These gentlemen standing behind us were saying that they were skeptical of the Calavera dish because there was no line to get to that dish. They were wondering if it was going to be worth it.  I turned to them and said maybe there’s no line because Calavera has their stuff together and not because a lack of interest.  And then I told them I had tasted it and it was really delicious!!  This dish was HOT! It was spicy hot and it was sexy hot.  Can a dish be sexy? Yes!  Taste this and you may agree.  I haven’t been back to Calavera since Sophina Uong took over but I may convince my friends to give it another shot after trying this award winning dish.  Yes folks, it won for best Asian, best in show and I think people’s choice too!


Ok.  Now…. this dish is special. It was my favorite dish of the whole event.  Char Siu Onigiri and lap cheong with Lamb Jam from BiRite Market.  OMG.  Everything on this plate was so delicious.  I wanted like 3x as much of each element.  I want this to be a dish I can order for lunch once a week ( I honestly would).  This was awesome.  It was so simple and the flavors were so clean but you could taste the complexity of the lap cheong sausage and the flavors in the lamb jam.  I loved this dish soooooo much!!!!

Thanks for going on this journey with me. I didn’t get a photo of Presidio Social Club’s Lamb and Rice Pot nor Hog & Rocks Mezcal-Adobo Lamb Shanks with Roasted Corn Huitlacoche Salsa.  And didn’t get to taste the empanada from Sabio on Main (that line was crazy too) .  More things to explore and try in the future.  As we left they had these cute lamb cake pops and I wish I could remember where they were from but they were delicious and a fun way to end this great event!


broccoli and cheese penne


My daughter dances jazz, tap and hip-hop competitively.  Sometimes I can’t believe I’m a dance mom. I wonder to myself – how did I get here? Oh yes! Because she LOVES it. She started dancing as a tiny 3 year old with her BFF and they just never stopped!  That’s right! Funny thing is, I am not really a girly girl.  I never really learned to do my hair and I have been doing my eyeliner the same way since I was 13 or something.  My hair is usually pulled up in a ponytail or just down, after air drying it.  No frills.  My daughter?  Girly girl! Pink, lace, shoes, makeup, accessories – she loves it all!  I like that she forges her own path and honestly, we’ve let her pick out her own clothes since she was 3 because she would fight my husband in the mornings and he couldn’t handle it anymore. I hang a few pieces that are off limits but otherwise, she can wear whatever she wants to school.  But that also means that there have been days that I’ve picked her up at school and she’s wearing pajamas or thick tights with no pants (what the heck??)!  Oh well, she definitely knows what she likes…

So why all this as an intro to broccoli and cheese penne? My daughter works really hard. She dances 3 days a week and plays softball twice a week. She’s also 6.  She can do chin-ups, flips and monkey bars. She’s just a really strong and athletic girl and I love that about her. But I have noticed that her diet has been changing.  She used to be a carb monster – rice, pasta, more rice, tortillas and more rice. Of course she’d have protein and veggies but she really loved her carbs.  Lately though, she has been a veggie eating monster!  She can’t get enough of cauliflower, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant and yes, even broccoli. She’s been eating a lot more protein too. I think her body needs the healthy fuel and she feels better eating it.  And I’m more than happy to have another veggie lover in the house.  While the boys groan over a dish full of veggies, my daughter cried happily when she saw that there was broccoli! She literally ate all the broccoli from her brother’s and dad’s plate as well. I’ve found that broccoli seems to be a pretty well liked veggie for kids. I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as my daughter did!

Our family just got back from Chicago but we are heading to Southern California for dance nationals.  Seriously, the things we do for our kids!!!  Her jazz team won 1st place in Regionals last month so we’re hoping they will do well at Nationals.

Here’s my pretty jazz girl and following that ,the recipe!


Broccoli And Cheese Penne Recipe

recipe from Food Republic

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy
  • Serving Size: 6


  • 6 1/2 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 pound broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Oil a deep 8-cup ovenproof dish.
  2. Cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling water until tender. Add broccoli for last 5 minutes of pasta cooking time; drain. Rinse pasta and broccoli under cold water; drain, cool.
  3. Combine pasta, broccoli, eggs, cream, milk and cheddar in large bowl; season.
  4. Spoon mixture into dish; sprinkle with combined breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic, rind and parsley.
  5. Bake, uncovered, about 40 minutes or until browned lightly and set.
  6. Stand 10 minutes before serving.

ziti (or rotini) and meatballs



You’re all starting to learn that I cook what I want to cook, not even necessarily what I want to eat.  Just what I want to cook. But there are times  I take special requests.  And usually, I try to fulfill those requests during that week or the following week.  Last week, hubs told me one night that he was craving meatballs.  Not meat sauce for his pasta but actual meatballs.  It just so happened that I had some ground beef so I graciously said that I would cook him meatballs!  There was no need for him to also know that I was looking for a way to use up the ground beef anyway! 🙂  I looked through my recipes and came across this one. These were devoured with much gusto and hubs proclaimed that it’s even better than most restaurants! That is one of his ultimate compliments to me with his other favorite one being, “YOU should open a restaurant and sell just ___________.”  I’m really glad when I can fulfill a craving and get it done on a weeknight! Making meatballs used to have me pausing with apprehension but now, it’s become so easy for me to make!  Mix, separate, kinda roll, kinda shape then baking sheet!

I’ll write an update soon about my trip to Chicago – my little brother got married!

Ziti and Meatballs

recipe from Real Simple


  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1/4cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/3cup bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4cup grated pecorino (about 1 ounce), plus more for serving
  • 1 pound ziti (or other pasta. obviously I used rotini)


  1. In a food processor fitted with the coarse grating disk, grate the carrots, onion, and zucchini. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the grated vegetables, 2 cloves of the garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the crushed and whole tomatoes (with their juices) and oregano to the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon, until the sauce has thickened, 35 to 40 minutes.


  1. Meanwhile, heat broiler. In a large bowl, gently combine the beef, bread crumbs, eggs, pecorino, the remaining garlic, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Form into 32 meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each) and place on a foil-lined large broilerproof baking sheet. Broil, turning once, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Add to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Top with the meatballs, sauce, and additional pecorino and serve with the salad.
  3. The meatballs and sauce can be frozen together in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. To reheat, run the containers under warm water until the mixture slides out. Transfer to a saucepan and cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Cook the pasta and serve with the meatballs and sauce.