Skip to content

Vegetarian Posole Soup

November 9, 2014

I had a number of friends over this weekend, some of which are vegetarians. Serving soup on a cool Fall day was the only idea I could come up with for lunch. I just don’t like the gotta-make-pasta for vegetarians cop out for a meal. So, soup it was! But, what could I come up with that would be easy peasy?

I love posole and I just canned several half pints of tomatillo sauce.  That’s the ticket! I decided to use two cans of black beans to give the soup some color in place of pork. In the end, it still needed something. Something was missing….No, not pork. Could not add that…. I added three scant dashes of Tapatillo sauce and that seemed to be the trick.vegie posole

Just FYI, I use low sodium ingredients. If you do not, salt and pepper the soup to taste. Paul is not crazy about cilantro, so I only provide it for garnish. If you love cilantro, add a heaping tablespoon of chopped cilantro when you add the last ingredients.


1 medium sweet onion, chopped fine

1 each red and orange bell peppers, cut pepper in quarters, then in to 2″ slices and cut into 1.5″ long matchsticks

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp each of cumin and paprika

1 half pint homemade tomatillo sauce or small 6oz can green sauce from Mexican aisle from your favorite store

1  4oz can diced mild green chilies

2  32oz boxes Pacific Vegetable broth (low sodium)

2  14oz cans black beans, drained & rinsed well (low sodium)

1  30oz can white hominy, drained & rinsed well

Salt and pepper to taste (I used ¼ teaspoon each)

Dash or two or three of Tapatillo or Chulula sauce

Olive oil for cooking


Heat heavy 6 qt. stock or soup pot over medium high heat, add a scant tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and cook until tender. Turn up heat a bit and brown the onions slightly. Add the bell peppers and garlic. Turn heat back to medium high and cook until softened. Add diced green chilies, cumin and paprika, mix well. Now add the tomatillo sauce, broth, black beans and hominy. This would be a good time to salt & pepper to taste. Turn down heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Garnish with sliced radishes, Cotija cheese, sliced limes and cilantro. Bon Appétit!

#vegetarian #posole #easyrecipe #soup #comfortfood

What Did October Mean to You?

October 31, 2014

Every year in October we are inundated by the Pink. Let me ask you this: is Pink still relevant?

I went to one of my favorite re-use stores in Boise’s Collister Center a few weeks ago, and Naomi made a casual remark that has struck me ever since. She said, “I think by now we all have awareness about breast cancer. I want to know what they are doing about it!” Naomi is ribbon

I can tell you what I told Naomi that day. I told her that all across this country and around the globe, there are researchers, scientists, oncologists and physicians working on that answer. In all of my years of either lobbying on Capitol Hill for breast cancer research dollars or personally donating to Expedition Inspiration, I have found that the funds we allocate in the form of grants to those researchers make a striking difference in clinical outcomes.

The reason I became involved with Expedition Inspiration in 1995 is because I knew the founder, Laura Evans. She was one of a handful of women I called the day I learned of my own diagnosis. After I moved to Boise in 1997, Laura recruited me to organize a small fundraiser and ever since then, I have been involved in one way or another with Expedition Inspiration. That involvement has become second nature to me.

I have seen and read about the progress and results of the researchers and scientists that are recipients of grants from our organization. Expedition Inspiration also makes a mark on the breast cancer science world when we invite the best and the brightest researchers and scientists to our Medical Symposium.  Meeting these dedicated professionals is quite an experience. Gives me goose bumps just writing about it.

Every year we deal with the Pink. Maybe it is time to make that Pink take on a new hat. The new hat can be a mission for research rather than awareness. Who’s in with me on that?

Laurie Barrera

#breastcancerEI #breastcancer #breastcancerresearch #cancerresearch #breastcancerscience #ExpedtionInspiration #LauraEvans #lauriebidaho

What Have You Been Up To?

September 28, 2014

I have no idea for the reason to be absent on my blog so much. Once a month is irresponsible. So, when the question was posted to me, “what have you been up to?” that gave me an idea. Earlier this year, I made a promise to myself to not answer that question with an “I’ve been so busy!” and instead, actually have a conversation. In a nutshell and in bullet format, this is what has been happening in Boise Town for me, since my last post:

  1. Wrote an offer subject to the Buyer’s home selling. Well, that didn’t work out as we planned. However, I rekindled a friendship and got to know a great woman much better. Bonus.
  2. Watched gardens grow. I did not plant this summer but I had gardens to enjoy thanks to my friends. I am very grateful.

    nature's beauty in Julia's garden

    nature’s beauty in Julia’s garden

  3. Agreed to become involved with a non-profit that I was on their Board a decade ago. Just in case you are asking, it is Expedition Inspiration Fund and we raise money strictly for breast cancer research and research efforts. More to follow on that, folks.
  4. Attended a Day of Mindfulness that my sangha hosted. I cannot begin to describe how fulfilling meditating is and what I have learned from Buddhism. I consider myself a Christian Buddhist. Double bonus.
  5. Hosted a food fermentation class with Katie Packwood at the house.  She taught a group of friends and I how to ferment vegetables and why. Sorry, Katie, but I would rather pop a pro-biotic capsule. The cabbage concoction was good but the other was not. I detest beets and that is all there is to it.
  6.  Attended meetings. After meetings. Oh, but the best was at ACAR – Ada County Association of Realtors – on the Political Affairs Committee. We interviewed ACHD – Ada County Highway District – candidates. That is always interesting. And, yes, we Realtors® are in to acronyms big time.
  7. Friends Festivities! Met a friend from my past non-profit board life. Even though we “follow” each other on Facebook, it was time to meet up and have that glass of wine we kept promising each other. In fact, I also met a former neighbor for lunch because we agreed to not lose touch. I picked tomatoes at Becky’s (thank you, girl!) and eyed the peaches on their tree but did not ask. Hosted our sangha picnic at the house in our glorious backyard. Finally touched base, in person, with my sweet Nancy Contreras who moved to Southern California for recovery after a surgery. Had an incredible chick dinner last night. I am confident every women present had a wonderful time.

    summer harvest items

    marinara sauce, garden herb salt, cherry tomatoes before dehydrating

  8. I have been a canning queen. Made oodles of marinara sauce with my secret ingredient. Made two large batches of garden herb salt, which I gave away last night to the ladies that came over for dinner. Today, Cathy is going to teach me to make dillies. And, I have been dehydrating all of the cherry tomatoes that I have picked at Becky and Julia’s gardens. Even dehydrated a dozen pears.

So, that is what I have been up to, in a nutshell. What about you? Recall what you have done in the past few weeks. Can you tell someone what you really have been doing?

Take it from me, removing the word busy out of your vocabulary and telling it like it is feels great!

#realestate #volunteer #nonprofit #friends #Realtor #Buddhism #breastcancerEI #food #cooking #girlfriends #busymeansnothing

Neighborhood in Transition

August 11, 2014

I have noticed here in Boise that many neighborhoods are in various stages of transition. Let me give you an example with a bit of history.

Boise’s Lower Highlands was developed by Richard B. Smith in the late 1950’s. The first few homes sat at the ends of dirt streets for years before the real building boom took place. For the longest time, the Lower Highlands was “the” Highlands until a few years later when Crane Creek Country Club opened in 1963. The classic ranch style home was the rage after

Example of a Boise Ranch style home

Example of a Boise Ranch style home – this particular home is in The Bench neighborhood

World War II and Boise’s Lower Highlands was no exception.  The Lower Highlands is made up of ranch style homes and the homes built north of Curling were larger custom homes. One quirk:  in 1961, the infamous Highlands Community Fallout Shelter was built, a place that is presently used for music rehearsal space. Go back in history and read more about the Boise Bomb Shelter  for fun!

In the beginning, many families moved to this area for a larger home than they had in the North End neighborhood. I suspect many may have moved just for the newest feature, a garage! Children grew up, couples stayed or moved away, more families moved in. It was a one of Boise’s special neighborhoods at the time.

Our neighborhood is in a transitional phase. Many retired couples have chosen to stay in their same home, single professionals have purchased homes for the quality of living in a unique and private neighborhood, families have “one more kid” going to college. The best part of this transition is the new young families moving in. We can hear babies crying and children squealing. We can watch kids playing ball with their parents at Highlands Elementary and kids walking their dogs or perhaps the dogs are walking the kids.  In the mornings, children are riding their Christmas bikes to Highlands Elementary. On the weekends, those bike rides involve entire families.

The eclectic mix of neighbors in the Lower Highlands is representative of what the rest of Boise is as well. All ages, across the spectrum, and everyone waves hello. Neighbors take a break from their yard duty and chat when we walk by. We get offers of vegetables from gardens and flowers in full bloom. Everyone wants to know the names of our three dogs. Many neighbors can tell us stories of the days gone by. Other neighbors tell us interesting stories of how they landed in Boise, Idaho. (I always ask since I am a Realtor and curious!)

But it isn’t just the Lower Highlands. It is everywhere in Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Kuna, Star. We are all changing and getting to know each other again. I hope this trend continues. Perhaps you can be a trendsetter in your own neighborhood. If you don’t know your neighbors, get to know them!

#neighborhoods #neighbors #Boise #ranchstylehomes

Scones with Fresh Summer Berries

July 30, 2014

Summertime this year in the Northwest has produced an incredible amount of berries to pick to my heart’s content. But what to do with them became a question in my head and even entered my dream state. So many berries, how do I use them all in something different and delicious?? There is only so much sorbet I can make considering we don’t have an extra freezer in the garage.

I posted a Citrus & Fruit Scone recipe over the holidays that had lemon juice and zest.  In order to cut some fat calories, I also used plain non-fat organic yogurt.  So, for this batch, I changed things up a bit. The half cup of yogurt is now low fat vanilla flavor and a heaping measuring half cup full. I did add a teaspoon of lemon curd but that is because I am a bit addicted to anything citrus. If you don’t have it on hand, I am sure it won’t be too missed. It’s the fresh berries that matter!

Oh, and one more thing: freeze the berries. When you toss them in to the flour mixture, it will help them to not “bleed” so much juice. My raspberry scones bled a bit too much but to be honest, it was the consumption of a new Pinot Noir that caused me to forget a step.


2 cups quality flour

#Oregon blackberry, #Boise raspberry, #Eagle blueberry Scones

#Oregon blackberry, #Boise raspberry, #Eagle blueberry Scones

1/3 cup raw sugar

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 stick frozen, unsalted butter

1 cup frozen fresh berries

1 teaspoon lemon curd, optional

½ heaping cup vanilla lowfat yogurt

1 egg


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and adjust oven rack to middle portion. Pull butter stick from freezer as you gather your ingredients to your work surface. I have found that pulling the stick directly from the freezer is more difficult to grate. You want the stick firm but not hard.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater. Use your fingers to work in butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in fruit.

In a small bowl or large measuring cup whisk yogurt, lemon curd and egg until well blended.

Using large fork, stir in the yogurt mixture in to flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands if you have to in order to press the dough in to a ball. The dough will be sticky – this is okay! Don’t worry…..Just make sure it is not too wet. I did use a large fork so that I would get every bit of dough for my scones.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and roll gently until dough is covered lightly in flour. Pat dough in to a 9” cake pan to form a round, making sure your dough is just about an inch thick. Flip cake pan on floured surface. Sprinkle with raw sugar and press lightly into dough. Using a sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges. Place wedges on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes in a gas oven, about 17 minutes in an electric oven.

Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm. Bring to room temperature or microwave 15 seconds the next day. Or two days. Depends on how long they last! #scones #summerberries #blackberries #blueberries #raspberries

PS please forgive the poor pictures. I am seriously looking in to switching my iPhone to a Samsung.

Can you smell heaven?

Can you smell heaven?


July Checklist for Your Home

July 2, 2014

Summer is finally here in Boise, Idaho with the temperatures rising, events filling our calendars and barbecue invites every weekend. Just FYI, I prefer pool invites in the late afternoon for happy hour.


Lemon-Almond Cake with Greek Yogurt

June 10, 2014

I know, I should post more often. This is not a business blog or a recipe blog. It’s just a me sharing blog. So, today, I am sharing a healthy cake that I devised from about three or four different other recipes. Part of the quest was to find a way to make the cake work with almond flour. No other reason than I love almonds, not to mention lemons. As far as I’m concerned, a perfect pairing! Wait, does that mean I need to suggest a drink? A white chocolate mocha perhaps?


2 large free-range eggs ½ cup organic sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt, plain or vanilla Zest of 2 lemons
½ cup blanched almonds (or not, your choice) 1 cup almond flour
2 tsp baking powder 1 tblsp lemon curd
Powdered sugar Berries for topping
Lemon Almond cake with Greek yogurt

Lemon Almond cake with Greek yogurt

Heat oven to 325º. Using canola oil and flour, coat a round cake tin and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Whisk eggs and sugar with an electric beater in a large bowl until mixture thickens.  I actually used a small food processor, seemed to work for me. In separate bowl, combine yogurt, lemon zest, lemon curd and a pinch of salt. I left out the salt because I forgot and I am not a salt user. Just FYI. In medium food processor, finely chop the almonds until ground but still some texture.  In another bowl, add the almond flour, baking powder, almonds and combine well.

Slowly stir the yogurt mixture with the egg mixture. Fold the flour mixture in and blend gently.  Pour in to cake tin and bake for 30-45 minutes until cake is golden and toothpick comes out clean. After 30 minutes, cover with foil if cake appears to be getting too brown.

NOTE: if using self rising flour, only 1 tsp baking powder. For some reason, I have found using 2 tsp baking powder with almond flour helps it rise a bit better. Keep in mind that almond flour is just different but totally worth the taste!

Let cake cool completely if you can. Easier to get out! Sprinkle powdered sugar and garnish with berries.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,032 other followers

%d bloggers like this: