Easy Recipes for Drunk Moms

A few years ago, I had wanted to write a cookbook for drunk mothers. At that time, I had regular dinner parties at home in the Bay Area, or at our second home in Tahoe. My friends and I would be cooking for a crowd and simultaneously drinking wine. Sometimes mixed drinks, but mostly wine.

These two activities are mostly incompatible as there are many pitfalls to engineering a meal that will likely be served on your second cocktail.

Of course, you don’t have to be a mother to throw a disastrous dinner party. This was evidenced by my hipster co-workers who were mixing cocktails while executing a complicated and expensive recipe for Cioppino, a crab and lobster fish stew, for their girlfriends. Needless to say, the entirety was eventually fed to the garbage can, and Chinese takeout predictably ordered.

I would hear of these escapades on Monday, over lunch, and then another dinner would be planned for the following weekend, again to disastrous results. I finally pulled out a pen and wrote a simple menu on the back of my napkin.

Drunk men should not be making pizza at home for guests. Pizza burns when unattended. Yes, it’s true. If you put a pizza in the oven at 400 degrees it will be black by the time you notice the kitchen filled with smoke.

I was very motivated to solve this paradox as dinner is my favorite meal of the day, and I personally can not drink alcohol unless I’m well nourished. Plus, I wanted to enjoy my friends and not be the distracted cook and dishwasher at these events.

Over the years, I’ve devised many strategic recipes to get dinner on the table with a party in full swing. We entertained so frequently that I became an expert in this area.

In the early years, it was tempting to forget dinner and just serve heavy appetizers, but as the little ones arrived this was not an option.

It was no easy task to execute dinner for twelve with six screaming kids, music playing and my best friend telling me a funny story, all of this with a delicious chilled glass of Chardonnay in hand.

There were also those long summer evenings with the toddlers when my husband worked late, or took friends to a Giants game, or played a round of golf. After a full day with the little ones and the housework, (I’m not complaining I cherish those days) I needed a respite to recharge. It was then that I would pour myself a water glass size margarita and go outside to water the lawn and flowers while the cartoons played on.

As necessity is the mother of invention, I devised very clever ways to get dinner to turn out perfectly with the minimum amount of attention.

More to come on this project, but in the meantime, I’m putting my finishing touches on my book about grief and the year following the sudden death of my husband. It was a transformative time, but I miss my good humor and playfulness. It is this part of my character that I now wish to embrace moving forward.

Love and blessings.

Making The Best of A Bad Situation 

John, Me & Buddy

After my husband died, I spent the following year healing my heart and soul. I kept a low profile, worked hard, and focused on my children.

Over the past few months, after spreading my husband’s ashes at the end of July, I’ve been out and about more, spending time with friends and meeting new people.

The time I spent alone was valuable and I will forever cherish those moments because without them I could not have become the woman I am today. However, it’s not healthy to spend too much time alone, and I am fortunate to have many friends and opportunities to meet new people.

It’s inspiring to meet people that are doing interesting things with their lives, and making a difference in the world.

Recently, I met, Buddy Tatem, an entrepreneur with a fascinating business history and life story, and the very modest John Alagia, record producer for Dave Mathews and John Mayer.

What a difference a year makes.

Love and blessings to all.

Love & Money

Truckee, California 2009

My husband was the most generous person I have ever met. When we first began dating, I asked him to join some friends for my birthday. My girlfriends made the reservation in the city, and we all showed up with our dates.

When the bill came, my friends pulled out their wallets, but my husband insisted on picking up the tab. The bill was $1,200.00, he did this sort of thing all the time.

After we got married, a check could not hit the table without him picking it up. But, on the reverse side money rolled in from all directions and soon, as a couple, we had more money than we knew what to do with.

I began to expect this, and understood how money flowed both in and out of our hands. One day, after Paris was born, we went to the jewelry store, I had Paris in my arms. My husband bought me a 5 carat princess cut diamond in a hand carved diamond platinum band.

He would buy cases of good wine to share with friends, and when we bought our Tahoe house we loaded it up with the neighborhood, friends, and tons of kids.

When the bottom fell out of the stock market and commercial construction imploded, we spent more time at home, ordered pizza on Friday nights, and had BBQ’s and camp outs in our backyard.

When we first moved to Moraga, I would be approached in the grocery store, by older women, collectively, they would tell me to enjoy every moment. I would think to myself, “they must have amnesia.”  I was so exhausted by my newborn and two year old, it was hard to enjoy anything.

However, I heard this so often that I believed it had merit, and I made a conscious decision to savor sitting in the stuffed cow and pig chairs with my toddlers watching Disney Princess movies, among the other activities of a busy mother.

The only thing that ever really mattered was that we had each other. And now we don’t.  We only have our memories, and the ring, that now sits in the bank.

Love and blessings to all.

Summer Entertaining – Oyster Cup & Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce

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On a recent week-end we enjoyed the Argentinian cooking of the catering crew on the polo fields of the 2014 Oyster Cup benefiting the Emergency Fund for Breast Cancer.  The Cerro Pampa Polo Club has such a  beautiful setting and a very family friendly environment.    One of so many things to love about this event apart from the food is that after the polo matches everyone dances together.  Adults, kids of all ages, and a handful of dogs.  It is always so much fun for me, but I was pleasantly surprised this year to find that my teenagers still enjoyed going.  The afternoon also proved that you don’t need a kitchen to feed a large group of people.  Raw oysters, grilled meat and some chimichurri is all you need.

Argentina is known for high quality meats and they did not disappoint serving grilled steak and Chimichurri sauce with lots of crunchy bread and side salads to the hungry spectators and players on the polo field.   This dinner complimented the oyster bar that was open during the polo match.  Both the dinner and oysters were delicious.  No recipe required for raw oysters of course, but this is the recipe from the master’s at Food Network for Steak Gaucho-Style with Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce.  I make my own Chimichurri, but use whatever herbs I have on hand and love it with lots and lots of fresh basil from my garden and like it served over anything (see it over grilled chicken above).  Traditional chimichurri is comprised mostly of parsley, but like many things in life, chimichurri requires that you experiment a little to suit your own tastes.

Sydney’s Chimichurri Sauce


1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 cup lightly flat leaf parsley

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium size shallot minced

1/4 teaspoon chille pepper flakes

1 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Juice of 1/2 of a lime (use other half for garnish)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Wash and remove stems from herbs.  Then using a Bullet or food processor blend all ingredients until still a little bit chunky.  Serve immediately.  Store remaining sauce in an airtight container,  but note that this sauce will not last more than a few days and is best as soon as it is made.



Cerro Pampa Polo Club, located in Petaluma, California, is a full-sized, fully-boarded Bermuda Grass Polo Field with and exercise track and on-site boarding. Cerro Pampa, made famous by the Oyster Cup Tournament enjoys a younger polo crowd with a laid back atmosphere. It’s a fun place to learn and play polo and is the San Francisco bay area’s only polo club.

Summer Entertaining – Roasted Vegetables & Salmon for the Teens

Sara & Siena @ my house summer 2014
Sara & Siena @ my house summer 2014

The kids and a few friends decided they wanted salmon for dinner, so we headed to Whole Foods where I spent $33 on just the salmon, but because it’s less expensive than pizza I didn’t care.  I love it when I can make something really healthy that they like.  I let them pick out some vegetables and because they were so varied I decided to roast them.  I added some brussels sprouts that I made in the microwave and some jasmine rice with butter, lime and cilantro and served it all on small plates.

The small plates allow the four girls to serve themselves and not be overwhelmed by foods they were unfamiliar with and/or did not like.  I like using small plates with kids and letting them serve themselves.  They can have as much as they like and there isn’t any wasted food.  Especially with teenage guests I dislike guessing what they might like.   This is also an excellent menu for teen athletes.

More on cooking for athletic kids later…

Sara’s Plate

Roasted Vegetable Platter

2 small sweet potatoes

1 pepper (this one was orange)

1 bunch asparagus

2 small zucchini

Good olive oil

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and poke sweet potatoes with a fork and place on oven rack until fork tender.  Meanwhile wash and cut pepper and zucchini and set aside.   Trim asparagus.   Using hands toss vegetables until evenly coated with oil and arrange on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I omitted the pepper due to the kids) and cook for about 25 minutes.  Keep an eye on the asparagus as cooking time will vary depending on the size.  Smaller stalks cook faster.  Once the sweet potatoes are tender remove from the oven, allow to cool, peel and cut into coins.  They are really good with butter and brown sugar, but for the platter I just added them ungarnished.



Broiled Salmon

With really good salmon like this the less you do the better.   The only really important thing is to make sure you do not overcook it.


2 lb. salmon

1 lemon

1/4 stick of butter

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to broil.  Cover the top portion of your broiling pan with tin foil for easy clean up.  Rinse salmon and place  (skin side down) in the center of the broiling pan.  Cut the lemon in half and squeeze over the salmon.  Cut butter into tiny cubes and arrange evenly over the top of the salmon.  The butter will help the top brown.  Salt and pepper to taste and cook for 10 minutes or until fish begins to flake.  For large pieces like this I allow the center to not be totally cooked when I pull it out because the fish will continue to cook on the pan once removed from the heat.


Creating the Menu

All of the flavors in this menu compliment one another.  The cilantro and lime in the rice, the sweetness of the roasted vegetables and the earthy salmon all come together and create a very delicious meal.  And the kids loved it and that is all that matters.   Happy summer.



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