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Chickpea, Brown Rice, and Kale Salad in a Jar with Pesto

February 26, 2017
Chickpea, Brown Rice, and Kale Salad in a Jar with Pesto Recipe | Fake Food Free

I’ve always wanted a messy garden. I know that sounds strange. Most people want a gorgeously organized, symmetrical growing plot with every veggie in its place. 

Not me. I’ve always loved the look of gardens that are bursting at the seams with greenery growing in every direction. Like a forest gone wild that produces food. 

This might be because I lack the skill to produce one of those perfect gardens. Maybe I’m drawn to messy gardens because they are easier to maintain. But really it’s how they look. 

I’m getting there. 

Kale and Carrots in a raised bed garden | Fake Food Free

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Gardening Journal for May

May 27, 2016
Peach Sorbet Blueberry | Gardening Journal | Fake Food Free

Remember way back when? To that time when I used to post updates of blooms and blossoms, tiny starts of vegetables and baskets of garden harvests? At that time, I often used random posts here as my gardening journal. 

Then we moved, and I failed epically at apartment container gardening.

Looking back, I now consider those gardening experiences to be on both ends of the extreme – a  full acre with a 15 by 20 foot garden and then an apartment balcony turned small backyard with nothing but a couple pots. 

I do believe I’ve finally found my gardening balance. 

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Meyer Lemon Bourbon Winter Warmer

February 8, 2015

This Meyer lemon bourbon cocktail is the best way to get through a cold winter night! It combines the fresh flavor of seasonal citrus with warming spices and Kentucky bourbon. 

 Meyer Lemon Bourbon Winter Warmer | Fake Food Free | A warm cocktail made with spiced, fresh lemonade and Kentucky bourbon.

Let’s be clear. It’s not cold here. If I were to utter the phrase, “I’m cold,” I’m certain it would be met with a bless-her-heart chuckle and an eye roll from just about everyone Colorado and eastward. Those being pounded with snow would likely close the browser window, never to return. 

So it’s not cold, but it does get cool and there are distinct differences between winter, spring, summer and fall here in the Bay Area. Thank goodness, because I do love the four seasons. They just aren’t nearly as extreme as other places I’ve lived. 

That being said, I still love the comfort foods and drinks of winter — a steaming bowl of soup, rich pot pies, and a warm bourbon drink — just as much as a person digging out from the snow. 

We might not have freezing temps, but one thing we do have in the winter is citrus! And you are probably well aware of my love for it.

When we moved into our apartment here in 2012, I immediately purchased a small dwarf Meyer lemon tree from the local farmers market. I read up a little on growing them in pots and this tree already had a few lemons on it when I bought it so I thought, this is going to be too easy. 

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5 Favorite Lemon Recipes

September 25, 2014

Since moving to California with amazing access to citrus, I love cooking with lemon. These are a few of my favorite lemon recipes.  

5 Favorite Lemon Recipes | Fake Food Free

Our backyard is currently filled with the intoxicating aroma of citrus blossoms. It’s the part of the citrus growing process that is second only to the lemons and oranges that come several weeks later. That scent has the power to take you from a bad to a good mood in one swift sniff.

While I wait patiently for new fruit, occasionally sticking my head out the door to breath it in, the lemon tree has been kind enough to produce some stragglers throughout the entire summer. I pulled a few off the tree to photograph last week and it got me in the mood for some of my favorite lemon recipes. These five recipes are from the Fake Food Free archives and worthy of being made again year after year. (Click on the name and it will take you to the recipe.)


Blue Potato Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Lemon Tuna and Chickpea Salad
Lemon Rosemary Thumbprints with Peach Jam
Blood Orange Bulgar Wheat Salad with Honey, Meyer Lemon and Cilantro Dressing
Kale and Pistachio Soup


13 Best Tomato Recipes

August 1, 2013

I did it again.

Every year when the end of May rolls around, I forget. Unlike other bloggers who spend weeks building up to the big day, planning giveaways and making special recipes, it passes me by, and few weeks later I think – oops, I forgot again.

I’m talking about my food blogging anniversary. Fake Food Free has been alive and well for over 5 years. It’s overwhelming to think where this blog has taken me since I began typing my first words in our apartment in Southern Brazil.

Things have evolved through my travel, adventures in food culture and gardening. My photos are a bit better than those dark point-and-shoot images I started with, and I’d like to think my recipe writing has improved as well. I’ve met amazing people, and now I’m at a place where health, food and recipe writing, and taking food photos are my work. As you’ll hear me say often – Life is good.

And it all started with this blog.

While things have changed a bit here, and I don’t get to post as much as I used to, this is certainly not a farewell post. It’s a big Cheers, Prost and Saúde to another 5 and beyond!

What better way to celebrate than with tomatoes! Well, okay, a cocktail might be better, but right now we’re in the heart of summer and all I can think about are beautiful heirlooms, sweet cherries and plump Romas.

After 5 years of blogging, I’ve created and adapted my fair share of recipes using my favorite part of this season.

Here are 13 that you must make before the 2013 tomato season passes us by! (Click on the name and it will take you to the post with the recipe.)

Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Black Bean Soup

Grilled Marinara Pasta

Honey Peach and Tomato Black Rice Salad

Hearty Tomato, Kale and Mushroom Sauce

Roasted Tomato, Black Bean and Arugula Salad

Smoky Tomato Jam

Beer Cheese Tomato Soup

Honey-Pecan Tomato Tarts with Blue Cheese

BLT Spinach Salad with Fresh Garlic Dill Dressing

Heirloom Tomatoes and Cantaloupe

Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Tomato Chile Sauce

Poblano Cilantro Salsa

Sweet and Simple Tomato Pepper Salad

Arugula and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese Orange Walnut Dressing Recipe

February 6, 2013
You remember this garden, right?
Well, I had to leave that garden in Kentucky. I miss it dearly, but there are new adventures ahead. They might even be more challenging adventures that will teach me a lot. 
Why? Because this is our new garden.
Smaller, yes. But I’ve learned over time that it’s difficult to kill a plant that you stick in the ground. A plant in a pot is a whole different story. So begin my adventures in balcony and container gardening!
We started small with herbs, spinach, arugula, lettuce and chard, and I couldn’t resist trying out a few strawberry plants. (There’s also a new citrus tree, but I’ll save that for another post.) Everything is perky and green so far so I have high hopes. 
It’s doing so well that I decided to trim off a little arugula for a salad. The spinach has a ways to go so I picked that up at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend. And you just know that oranges had to be in there somewhere. 
Cheese is a requirement on my salads and the more flavorful and stronger the better. I like goat cheese. Well, some goat cheese. I seem to be getting pickier. If it’s mild in grassy flavor then I’m a huge fan. 
Instead of topping my salad with goat cheese, I blended it with the dressing. Wow, do I love this dressing – nutty, sweet, tart and creamy. It’s a thin dressing so if you prefer something thicker I’d suggest cutting back a bit on the orange juice or adding a little more cheese. 
Fingers crossed that there are more apartment garden salads to come!

 Arugula and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese Orange Walnut Dressing Recipe

3 cups spinach
1 cup arugula
1 orange, peeled and sliced
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1 tbsp chèvre (goat cheese)
1 clove garlic
Juice of one orange
Sprinkle of salt and pepper, to taste
Arrange the spinach and arugula on two plates, about 1 ½ cups spinach and ½ cup arugula on each. Top each plate of greens with half of the orange slices. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cranberries on each salad.
To make the dressing, place all ingredients in a small food processor. Pulse until the walnuts are ground fine and all ingredients are combined. (Makes about ¼ cup.) 
Drizzle each salad with half of the dressing. Makes 2 servings.

Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Black Bean Soup Recipe

November 7, 2012
In this soup recipe, plain tomato soup is made more flavorful with roasted garlic, and more filling with hearty black beans.
Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Black Bean Soup Recipe | Fake Food Free

If you are like me, you are prepping for the big day.

By big day I mean Thanksgiving. By prepping I mean keeping a close eye on healthy eating.

All this leads to one thing in my kitchen – soup. I have loads of frozen tomatoes waiting to be used, but chili wasn’t sounding right. I needed something more exciting than the basic tomato soup, too.

I’ve come to realize that a head of creamy, sweet roasted garlic makes just about everything better. This soup is no exception. Along with the garlic, I added some black beans for texture and protein.

Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Black Bean Soup Recipe | Fake Food Free
 This soup is sweet, rich and hearty all at the same time. I used about a gallon bag full of mixed frozen tomatoes from the garden. Skin on, whole tomatoes. It all gets blended by the immersion blender so leaving everything intact isn’t a problem for me. You can use whatever you have on hand – frozen, fresh, canned, whole, puree – it will all ultimately result in a tasty soup!

Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Black Bean Soup Recipe

Makes: 4 servings


1 head garlic
2 tsp olive oil
8 cups frozen whole tomatoes, thawed
2 tbsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mascavo or raw sugar
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
Shredded Parmesan cheese for serving


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Tear off about a 4×4 inch square of aluminum foil. Cut off the top of the full head of garlic removing just enough so that all the cloves are exposed. Place the garlic in the center of the foil, cut side up. Drizzle with the olive oil. Wrap the foil around the garlic and roast for 30 to 45 minutes, until soft. Remove from the the oven and allow to cool.

While the garlic is roasted, begin to prepare the soup. Pour any excess water off of the thawed tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in a large soup pot and heat to medium-high. Allow the tomatoes to cook down, crushing them with a spoon or potato masher as they cook, for about 15 minutes. Remove and discard any foam that rises to the top.

Stir in the basil, red pepper, salt and sugar. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze all of the roasted cloves into a dish. Be sure to separate out any skin and leave only the soft flesh. Add the garlic to the soup. Remove from the heat.

Use an immersion blender to blend the soup and puree the tomatoes. You can also transfer it in batches to a blender to do this. Once everything is smooth simmer over medium heat for 5 more minutes and let the soup thicken.

Finally stir in the black beans and heat through. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. 

Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Black Bean Soup Recipe | Fake Food Free


Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes or images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.

Smoky Tomato Jam

September 25, 2012

Smoky tomato jam recipe |

You will never hear me use the word guilt in association with food and eating. Personally, I think it is a damaging word that has shaped our thoughts on eating habits, weight and health for far too long. 
That being said, I have one exception. 
The garden.
When this time of year rolls around and I see hot peppers so heavy on the plant that they touch the ground, and tomatoes that are ripe, but a little ugly, I start to feel guilty. It’s food, I can’t let it go to waste! And while I’m exhausted from thinking of ways to use it, I just can’t leave it out there to rot, or pull up the plants knowing they have some life left in them.
So with a full freezer, I turned to a little more canning this past week. 
First up? Tomato jam. 
I’d been entertaining the idea of making tomato jam, most of the summer, but never committed. Then I found a recipe from Food in Jars for Orange Tomato Jam with Smoked Paprika.  It was the smoked paprika that got me. I love that stuff!
Smoky Tomato Jam Recipe for summer |
So I gathered up the last of the tomatoes, and got cooking. Our orange tomato plants are done producing, but I still had Better Boy and San Marzano hanging on. They worked perfectly. I also used dried ginger (half the amount) instead of fresh, and skipped the cayenne simply because I didn’t have any dried on hand. 
You can find the recipe on the Food in Jars blog. This jam is the perfect balance of sweet, spicy and smoky. Next year, I will be pulling this recipe out early to get a head start during prime tomato season. Yes, it’s that good.
Smoky Tomato Jam Recipe |

Homemade Garden Chili Slow Cooker Recipe

September 19, 2012

Chili is one of those foods that I get burned out on by December, but every time the next September rolls around, I’m ready for it all over again. My cravings for it this year started this past week, and they are just about spot on, considering we are moving towards the end of the month.

As you can probably tell from my posts, it has been a great garden year. We are still bringing in more tomatoes than I know what to do with, and I have plenty of frozen veggies from harvests earlier in the summer. With the weather turning cooler here, chili seemed like the ideal way to use them up.
My goal was to use a lot of fresh tomatoes, so this recipe does take some prep work. For me, this is just the kind of thing I enjoy doing on a quiet Sunday. Once it’s all in the slow cooker, it’s low maintenance from there on out. 
Feel free to substitute different kinds of vegetables. I’ve been shredding and freezing zucchini all summer, and we also had some sweet corn tucked away in the freezer. Both ended up being a great addition to this chili.

Homemade Garden Chili Slow Cooker Recipe

6 – 8 lbs of tomatoes (you’ll need about 6 cups of sauce)
5 cloves garlic
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups black beans, soaked overnight
2 cups shredded zucchini, thawed if frozen
1 cup sweet corn, thawed if frozen
1 cup water
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 scotch bonnet peppers (or your favorite hot pepper)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut de-stem and core tomatoes if necessary, and cut in half. (I used a mix of San Marzano, Beefsteak and heirlooms.) Arrange cut side down on a baking sheet with the garlic and drizzle with a little olive oil. In batches, roast for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Add the onion and black beans to your slow cooker. Remove the skins from the tomatoes and place the pulp and the garlic cloves in a blender. Blend in batches until a smooth sauce results. Pour the sauce into the slow cooker. Set to high.
Add the zucchini and corn. Add the water. Stir in the chili powders, cumin, salt and black pepper.  Take the scotch bonnet peppers and de-stem them. Cut a small slit in the side of each. Place the whole pepper in the soup. Put on the lid and cook on high for about 4 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender.
Before serving, remove the two peppers and discard. Serve with your favorite toppings. Makes about 6 servings.

Roasted Eggplant and Black Lentil Soup Recipe

September 16, 2012

This eggplant and black lentil soup recipe is one I came up with after a Kentucky Food Bloggers event at Whole Foods. I’ve used black lentils a lot more since then, but this recipe still remains a favorite for cool summer days and for transitioning into autumn. It’s thickened with eggplant puree and flavored with tahini and garam masala. 

Roasted Eggplant and Black Lentil Soup Recipe | Fake Food Free
It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a year since our Kentucky Food Blogger group got together. We attempted all spring and summer, but busy schedules wouldn’t allow us to find a date that would work for more than a couple people.
That changed this past Friday night with the help of Whole Foods Market in Lexington. We were invited out to attend a special edition of their Flights After 5 event. Flights After 5 is a Friday night get-together where 5 beer tastings are matched with 5 appetizers at stations throughout the store. Last Friday Kentucky beers were featured including two of my favorite breweries West Sixth and Lore Brewing.
Several area bloggers joined the staff at Whole Foods as they told us a bit about the work that they do, and about the mission of the store. I will admit that I’m not a 100% Whole Foods shopper, but I do appreciate the products I buy there – grains from the bulk bins, my puffed kamut, and Ataulfo mangos, when they are in season.
I really like that on their website you can find Unacceptable Ingredients for Food and their Meat Animal Welfare Standards. That makes shopping easy. Through my work in agriculture, I’ve come across many local meat producers and fruit and vegetable farmers who supply Whole Foods. The combination of local support and global projects makes me a fan. We also learned that they price match with surrounding competitors, which explains why I’ve always felt that many things at Whole Foods aren’t any more expensive than they are at other area supermarkets.
Along with a little education, good beer and snacks, and great company, we received every food bloggers favorite thing – a goodie bag! They kept our cooking in mind and filled it with several ingredients, perfect for putting together a few new recipes. I was happy to see black lentils in my bag. I’ve used their brand before, and I was excited to create something new with them.
Baba ganoush was one of the appetizer offerings that night so I had eggplant on my mind. Lucky me, we just happen to still have eggplant from the garden.
I had no idea what direction I would go with the soup, but the more I tasted it, the more I felt it needed some Indian influences, which ended up making it a lot like daal. (And I’m definitely not complaining.) Tahini and garam masala came to the rescue, and I added some crushed red pepper for heat. It turned out to be a great way to celebrate the start of comfort soup season!
Roasted Eggplant and Black Lentil Soup Recipe | Fake Food Free


Roasted Eggplant and Black Lentil Soup Recipe  
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
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  1. 6 small eggplants (you need about 1 cup roasted pulp)
  2. 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1 small onion, chopped
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 4-6 cups vegetable stock
  6. 2 tablespoons tahini
  7. 1 cup black lentils
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  10. ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  11. ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. If your eggplant is round, de-stem and cut each in half. Longer Japanese style can be roasted whole. Lightly coat the eggplants with 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and spread in an even layer, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until pulp is very soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. In a soup pot, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high and add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium to medium-high until the onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add 4 cups of the stock. (Reserve the remaining 2 cups to add later, if you want a thinner soup.) Simmer for about 3 minutes.
  4. Scoop out the cooled eggplant pulp and transfer it to the soup pot. Use an immersion blender to blend the eggplant, onions and garlic with the stock until smooth.
  5. Add the tahini, and bring the soup to a low boil. Stir in the lentils. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Add the salt, garam masala, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Add more or less of each to taste. Simmer for another minute or two and serve.
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Voting for the Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards ends September 17, 2012! Fake Food Free is a finalist! If you enjoy my blog, I’d truly appreciate your vote for Reader’s Choice. You can vote here, no sign in or registration required.

Disclosure:  Some products in this recipe were given to me free of charge from Whole Foods Market. I was not required to post about them and received no compensation for doing so. Thoughts here are my own. 



Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.