miso roasted veggie tacos [taco Tuesday]

Backpacking through Mexico last year, I ate all kinds of tacos. It was always easy for me to find things to eat – if the restaurant or street stand did not have a veggie taco on the menu, it was easy enough (with my limited Spanish) to have one made.

The street food was by far the best I’ve ever had, anywhere. One night we convinced a cab to drive us around until we found the cart we were looking for – then made him park the cab so we could buy him dinner!

Amazing tacos filled with fresh vegetables, with that artful flick of the pineapple from the top of the al pastor stand – caught in midair into the taco and handed over to me.


Since that trip, I have been more adventurous and creative with my own tacos at home. No, I don’t have the vertical spit in my kitchen, and I’m not wielding my knife at the whole pineapple perched atop.

These tacos? Miso? Flavors far removed from the street food of Sayulita and San Pancho (San Francisco, Nayarit).

These tacos are what I look for, though – creative and colorful, simple and flavorful.

Seeing that it is zucchini season, that one is a given for me – I love zucchini. Onions are always good, and mushrooms – I cannot resist those baby ‘bellos.

Use your favorite vegetables – just chop/slice them all in a fairly uniform size for even cooking, and you cannot go wrong.

miso roasted vegetables

adapted from this Cooking Light recipe

dairy and gluten free, vegan

2-3 tablespoons miso paste (I used red)
1 tablespoon water
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 zucchini (depending on size), sliced in rounds
1 pint baby portobello mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1 sweet onion, sliced
salt + pepper 

In a small bowl, whisk together miso, water and lemon juice. Add olive oil, whisking to combine. Set aside. Chop all vegetables. Place a large piece of foil on a baking sheet, pile all vegetables in middle of foil. Gather sides and corners of foil, creating a bowl with the foil, and pour miso mixture over vegetables. Crimp foil to close, cook in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

veggie taco assembly:

corn tortillas
1 recipe easy tomato Spanish rice
miso roasted vegetables
miso sauce 

Warm the tortillas in a skillet over medium heat. Spread a layer of Spanish rice down middle of tortilla, top with miso roasted vegetables and drizzle with miso sauce.

Taco Tuesday? Taco every day.


plant based steak dinner

Let me tell you about the steaks I grilled last night.

Perfectly marinated, served over fresh greens and finished with a decadent cheese sauce, it was a perfect home version of a classic steakhouse dish*.

Except it was all plant based.

*Honestly, I am guessing here. Every time I have been to a steak house, I have cocktails and a salad. and cocktails.

…and the steaks are made with cauliflower.

I vertically sliced a head of cauliflower into 3/4 inch thick ‘steaks’ and marinated them. Put them on the grill and served them over fresh kale chiffonade, topping the whole thing with a rich cheesy sauce.

Amazing. Decadent. and somehow were light and fresh at the same time.

cauliflower steaks

dairy, gluten and steak free, vegan

1 head cauliflower
1/3 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup tamari
juice of 2 lemons
3 chipotle chiles (canned in adobo)
sea salt and pepper 

Combine oil, tamari, lemon juice and chipotles in food processor or blender, purée until smooth. Remove outer stem and greens from cauliflower, slice vertically into 3/4 inch pieces (yields 4 or 5 pieces, depending on size). Arrange cauliflower in a single layer in dish with high sides (baking dish), pour marinade over, salt and pepper, cover and set aside to marinate (30 minutes to one hour).

Grill over medium indirect heat, 10 minutes each side.

Meanwhile, prepare a kale chiffonade (recipes here and here) and the cheese sauce: 

havarti cheese sauce

dairy, soy and gluten free, vegan

1/3 cup almond milk
3 ounces havarti cheese, cubed

In saucepan over medium heat, melt cheese. Add milk and stir into a smooth sauce.

Serve cauliflower steaks over kale chiffonade salads, top with warm cheese sauce.

I cannot wait to make these again. Perhaps a plant based lobster dinner next?


Marcona Sesame Crusted Tofu


Marcona Sesame Crusted Tofu – brightly spiced with fresh ginger, and crispy crunchy with flavorful Marcona almonds, this will become a favorite salad topper or sandwich filler!


Marcona Sesame Crusted Tofu @spabettie

I want to say thank you.

Thank you to all of my readers who are here, reading and commenting, sending emails and tweets and facebook messages – keeping the communication and friendships going when I was not around, when I had no time. Readers who have blogs that I had not been commenting on as much as normal, when I had very little time for blog reading, still coming here to support and encourage and bring a smile to my day.

I appreciate it so much, more than I can ever express.

When Dad was first diagnosed, we were given a treatment plan. As of Friday, that plan is complete. Now we …

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Hot Dog Topping Bar


A Hot Dog Topping Bar is a crowd pleasing summertime party trick – grill up a bunch of dogs, and let your guests choose their toppings and buns – see how creative they get! 

Hot Dog Topping Bar - Grilled Onion + Shiitake Dog

We have been grilling several times a week this summer, and loving it!

We recently had friends over for an afternoon of grilling in the sun, and I set up a fun hot dog toppings bar. We got creative and made some great tasting dogs.

Hot Dog Topping Bar - Reuben Dog

The Reuben dog – homemade Thousand Island, chopped pickle, caramelized onions

This was one of my favorites. I love the pickle + onions as an alternative to sauerkraut.

Hot Dog Topping Bar - Italian Parm Dog

Italian Parm dog – homemade mushroom marinara, (dairy free) melted mozzarella

This was Jason’s idea, and wow it was a good one!

Hot Dog Topping Bar - Grilled Onion Shiitake Dog

Shiitake Dog – grilled shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions

Another favorite of mine, using my new favorite mushroom.

Hot Dog Topping Bar - Mac and Cheese Dog

Cheesy Mac Dog – my (gluten and dairy free!) mac & cheese. 

There’s a dog in there, I promise.

Hot Dog Topping Bar

Along with vegan dogs, we had gluten free buns and bun alternatives – romaine lettuce!

Hot Dog Topping Bar

I know, it looks sad. It was tasty!


Other hot dog topping ideas:

Sushi Dog

sushi dog


Caramelized Onion Bacon Dog

caramelized onion bacon dip dog

 it is becoming evident that I may have a caramelized onion problem.

Hot Dog Toppings Bar

I just had to take a group photo…



throw a great pool party

Summertime is upon us, and summertime means pool parties.

The house we just moved from had a pool, and we had many a fun summer there. We basically lived in our back yard for three months. Jason did a great job of keeping the pH levels perfect and the pool sparkly blue. I did a great job of blending margaritas, inviting people over, and keeping air in Basil’s floaty cactus.

From years of my pool party past, I bring you the Guide To The Ultimate Pool Party.

Invite Your Friends.

Friends love the house with a pool. Especially on really hot days… it’s surprising how fast they are able to show up to an impromptu invite, almost as if they were already driving over…

Have extra towels handy for your guests.

Stack them by doors, in case people need to dry off before entering the house. Towels close to the pool (but not too close they get wet) are a good idea also.

Designate food and drink area, pool and play area, sitting and relaxing area.

Your guests will want a place to sit or lay in the sun once they get out of the pool:

Invest in plastic plates and drinkware, keeping glass away from the pool.

this margarita was dachshund – supervised.

Plan games and have pool accessories / toys available.

Basil is surprisingly good at the ring toss.

Provide the ultimate in pool party food and drink:

grilled pineapple bacon sandwiches


seven layer dip with noocho cheese


reuben rolls with thousand island dip


spicy stuffed sweet peppers


lightened up Piña Coladas


strawberry habanero margaritas


My advice with hosting any party – prepare as much as you can ahead of time, make a timeline so you have stress free planning, and have decor double as useful – pinatas, beach balls, pool toys…

Most of all, remember to relax, enjoy the sun, and have fun!


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veggie power stack

My new favorite lunch is a fusion of many favorites – fresh vegetables, grilling, and tasty food that is also vibrant and energizing. I call it my lunchtime power stack, or veggie stack.

This stack started with a base of steamed* cauliflower. Next up, a mashed sweet potato. Top that with a slice of grilled pineapple, a few grilled onion rings, and lightly steamed* asparagus. A generous sprinkling of sesame adds more great flavor.

*I have also grilled all ingredients using a grill basket.

This works warm with freshly steamed and grilled components. Cold or room temperature is also good, especially on a warm Saturday while sitting in the sun with a dachshund.

Basil would like to make it known he is not picky – warm or cool, he will take his power stack either way.

Sweet and savory, fun and filling, I have been stacking my lunches all week. I am excited to share other versions of the stack – even more colorful!

grilled pineapple bacon sandwich

Tempeh bacon, that is.

Today marked the first day of radiation for Dad. It took longer to drive to the appointment than to administer the treatment, and so far, Dad is feeling fine. Appointment was early this morning, and as I write this I just returned home from making him dinner.

I have researched this treatment, and talked to many people who have gone through it. I am here for my dad, as always, ready to take care of him again, and once again I am hopeful because of his big smile and his positive attitude. Just tonight he said in his strained trach-voice, “Hopefully I will continue to feel this good.”

I hope so too, Dad.

We grilled all weekend, and it was awesome. We have been grilling so much, we had to replace the propane!

By now I know we have grilled more than we did all year last year. If or when we build a covered area on our deck, we will grill year round. Jason is the lone meat eater in this house, but he surprised me this weekend, wanting to grill tempeh. He chose the bacon flavored and a lemon pepper. I generally buy the ‘regular’ flavor, so I have never cooked with these – both taste great. The bacon is really good…

This time of year I seem to always have a fresh pineapple in the house. At the last minute I cut some rounds and added them to the grill…

While grilling out in the sun, we enjoyed our beer in glasses made from Goose bottles.

We used these gluten free hamburger buns, and we love them! This was our first time trying this kind, and I will absolutely buy them again. Stacked with grilled pineapple, onion, tempeh and my favorite crunchy lettuce, these sandwiches were light, fresh and sweet, smoky.

…and now, because it is the beginning of June and Rose Festival season here, it is tradition that it will rain. The rain stops the day after the Grand Floral parade, the final event of the Festival. We will see if we get to grill this weekend…


grilled sushi dog

Happy Sunday!

I sure am happy – yesterday I spent my vacation unpacking boxes and setting up the dining room, which is going to be my photography studio. In addition to the photos I shoot for this website, I have now had 2 paid gigs and am negotiating a third. I am so happy to have a real dedicated space for photos and props, where I can grow this lifelong interest into more exciting opportunities.

The house is coming together – most of the boxes are in the living room, which will be our “library” when everything is settled. We want a nice area for all of our books (both Jason and I have so, so many – my brother can attest to that as he packed them all), our stereo, and perhaps one day that cocktail cart I have always wanted.

I’ll share more house photos soon.

Today, though, we are taking a break from the work. We are getting together with two other couples to grill. The girls are both doctors I used to work with, and their husbands are both Jason’s band mates.

There may be an impromptu jam session later.

Speaking of grilling, I do believe we have already grilled more this season than all of last summer. Portland’s summer was so dismal last year, Jason just realized he never had to replace the tank on the grill. Sad.

I have a “hot dog craving” about this time each year, and the other day I indulged it. That craving was satisfied with a vegan dog and a gluten free bun, and in this case, sushi flavors. Jason had chicken dogs, and our guests were split down the middle – half had those and half had the faux variety. We all enjoyed our own Japanese flavor toppings!

grilled sushi dogs

assemble ingredients:

hot dogs
hot dog rolls
caramelized onions
sesame seeds
sprouts (daikon and regular)
miso dressing
spicy sriracha sauce
Nori Komi Furikake

While Jason was grilling the dogs and buns, I was caramelizing the onions and prepping everything else. I made an assembly line buffet style, so everyone could make their own. 

These can be made entirely vegan, and while I know the field roast is not gluten free, I still used gluten free hot dog rolls. Since I only have a hot dog craving about once a year, I’m not too versed on the vegan variety – anyone know of vegan dogs that are also gluten free? I also made the miso dressing and spicy sriracha sauce with vegan mayo.

We love this unique flavor addition to a classic grilled dog – the miso mayo and grilled onions are my favorite part, and I never have enough nori.

What are your favorite hot dog toppings?