Winning never tasted so good

Veronica Hendrix is a Los Angeles-based food blogger, author and home cook and has been featured on TV for her culinary talent.She was the winner of the BBVA Compass Student Chef Experience Sweepstakes. It offered a one-of-a-kind training with a renowned chef Jamie Bissonnette, assisting with preparations for the BBVA Compass Spanish Masters Dinner on March 1, 2018.

Here’s a behind the scene moment video of their meet up at Grand Central Market in downtown LA.

And ICYMI…here the media release below. Or click here or on the article to view online.


Smart mouth, smart cookie

Happy Women’s History Month.

As the great orator T.D. Jakes often wails in the throes of his sermons, “Get ready, get ready, get ready!”

Stories of amazing, everyday women abound the entire month of March. I frankly bask in their awesomeness, drawn from their strength and courage, and get inspired by their indomitable spirits.

National Women’s History Project

The National Women’s History Project has published this year’s National Women’s History theme. It is: “Nevertheless She Persisted.”

It pays homage to women whose lives “demonstrate the power of voice, of persistent action, and of believing that meaningful and lasting change is possible in our democratic society.” (Click here to learn more about how the actions of Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-MA inspired this year’s theme. Chick here for this year’s Women’s History Month Presidential Proclamation.)

Katherine Spiers, food writer and food anthropologist.

Local writer, local props

As a food writer and native Angeleno, I had to look no further than my own  backyard to find a woman in my industry that, despite the changes and shifts in the print and digital media, nevertheless she persisted.

That woman is Katherine Spiers.

Remember her name.

She was the former Food Editor at LA Weekly, one of the largest alternative weekly newspapers in the United States.  She’s been writing about the vibrant and often transcendent food culture in Los Angeles for over 13 years.

The “cuisine and culture” maven has some noteworthy chops which include her boots on the ground approach to covering the LA food scene at, followed by time she spent as Managing Editor of  the “Food & Living” digital section at Los Angeles  based KCET, the nation’s largest independent public television station.

LA Weekly gave her the opportunity to explore and unearth the obscure and unsung eateries in LA, and cover these stories from a myriad of social, economic and human perspectives.

“A lot of immigrants start restaurants and people were starting to realize that covering the scene food is more than just about the food. We eat the food of immigrants. So when you talk about immigration issues, food is part of that discussion. As Food Editor, I wanted to make sure we were getting the full breath of the City covered,” said Katherine.

She did exactly that during her two year stint at LA Weekly. Late last year, the paper was sold. To the shock and disappointment of many Angelenos, Katherine, along with other beloved editorial staff members were laid off.   This was a huge loss because there are very few writers, particularly women, who focus on covering LA’s diverse and vibrant food scene.  Nevertheless, she persisted.

Smart Mouth Podcast logo. Fun fact: this is an actual photo of Katherine’s mouth.

Smart Mouth, smart moves

Thank heaven for Smart Mouth Podcast. Katherine and her producer partner Michelle Lanz started the smart and engaging endeavor just over a year ago. They have persisted and elevated their coverage of the food culture which not only includes the voices of the usual culinary suspects, but voices of those outside of the food industry like actors, comedians, and other interesting personalities. As stated on their website which is chalk full of fascinating interviews which you must check out:

“We talk to the most interesting people we know, working in all kinds of industries, about their favorite dishes. It’s a way of finding out what makes them tick.”

The chemistry of Katherine and Michelle is warm, conversational and cozy. The interviews are lively, insightful, revealing and so fresh.

Katherine Spiers and producer partner Michelle Lanz.

Food anthropologist

But I am burying the lead here. To borrow a term from the hip-hop vernacular, Katherine “spits” some serious food history knowledge throughout her podcasts. She is a seasoned journalist to be sure. But you can’t help but be struck by how the inner anthropologist comes out as she blends in examples about why the history of food matters and why it’s important to talk about where food comes from.

“People will tell stories of early American food, and President Thomas Jefferson comes up a lot because of his amazing farm. He’s often credited with being the first to introduce certain foods to the states,” said Katherine. But the food historian emphasized that it was his slaves who also brought many plants, vegetables and legumes to the United States from Africa through the Atlantic slave trade; and they tended his farm and prepared his meals often using methods native to their homeland.

“I think it’s really important not give all the credit to white males in history because that just wouldn’t be the truth,” said Katherine. “What happens in the world is much more interesting and involves a lot more people than we think it does. I really try to bring light to the stories that are easily glossed over.”

Katherine recently enjoyed Halo-halo, a popular Filipino dessert, at a  local restaurant.

What’s trending on the LA food scene

Vietnamese and Filipino food are certainly trendy cuisines in Los Angeles, as well as cities across the states.  But Katherine says the concept of “pop-ups” or eateries that don’t’ confine themselves to the traditional brick and mortar model, are the most interesting.  She believes changes in the economy and an often unfriendly business environment have lead many culinary entrepreneurs to find creative venues and novel ways to reach people who are looking for good food and unique dining experiences.

“Some of my favorite Vietnamese food was being served at a pop-up that was in a break room of the chef’s uncle’s mechanic garage,” said Katherine with a whimsical tone. “The food was really incredible. I love that Angelenos seem to really be down for adventure. It’s part of the City’s culture.”

What’s up with that?

The popularity of food television shows has yielded a bumper crop of celebrity chefs and food personalities. When Katherine surveys the current landscape of food shows, she notes that there has been a noticeable shift, leaving women noticeably absent.

“When food shows started becoming popular in the early 2000’s, there were a lot female hosts because they were primarily cooking shows. But I think in the last couple of years a lot of the food content has turned into shows that feature hosts who travel around the world and eat various types of foods from that region,” observed Katherine.

“Most of those shows have men as hosts.  I’m guessing it’s because no one wants to see women eating. It’s cool that more people are learning about the world through these shows, but women are missing when it comes to these opportunities.”

Katherine served as a judge for a cocktail competition.

What’s next?

Katherine is focusing on expanding the reach of her podcast, moderating discussions at food events, and who knows – you  may see her pop up as a host of a food travel show.  But in the meantime, you can keep up with Ms. Spiers by listening to Smart Mouth Podcast and following her on her various social media platforms. She’s the one to watch in this ever evolving food space.

Twitter  @katherinespiers
Instagram @smartmouthpodcast
Smart Mouth Podcast

A recipe postscript

Yup, Katherine Spiers is a smart cookie.  But this post wouldn’t be complete without sharing one of her favorite smart cookie recipes. It’s a take on the basic Toll House cookie recipe with a Smart Mouth twist. Katherine explains her approach here:

“I’m generous with the vanilla and salt, and I swap out the walnuts for one cup honey roasted peanuts, slightly smashed, and I use an 8 ounce bag of toffee bits (that’s 1 1/3 cups) and 2/3 cups chocolate chips.”

There you have it. Here’s the recipe.

Smart Mouth Toffee Bits Cookies

  • Servings: 4-5 dozen
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

A really tasty cookie


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (Kathrine says be generously here so try 2 teaspoons)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Katherine would use more so try 2-3 teaspoons)
2 large eggs
1~8 ounce package (1  1/3 cups) Hershey Heath English Toffee Bits
2/3 cup Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped honey roasted peanuts


  1. Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
  6. Stir in morsels and chopped peanuts.
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Love is a happy, healthy heart

Chicken breasts cooking on stove top grill pan.

I have no trepidation about Valentine’s Day.

While the arrow wielding, chubby little cherub has struck me with a few arrows that didn’t exactly stick, I am not jaded about love, nor do I have a myopic view of it either.

Love makes the heart happy

Me and my grandson. He makes my heart happy.

I have had the good fortune of experiencing deep, passionate love.

I’ve also been blessed with the honor and privilege of experiencing maternal love.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the sisterly love that remains wrapped around my life like a snug cocoon.

Love, oh love

The range of love I’ve experienced has led me to believe this one thing: the reciprocity of love is the essence of what makes love that splendid thing I do not want to live without.

I no longer  think of Valentine’s Day in term of flowers, cards or candy.  But I won’t turn them down.

I think of Valentine’s Day in terms of recognizing the people who continue to surround me with pillars of love.

Gee, I’m getting a little misty eyed.

The cost of Love

Valentine’s Day is just one of countless moments in our lives we pause to celebrate or proclaim those we love, those who bring value and beauty our lives.

That calendar celebration and proclamation is far too often a pricey exploit.

According to the National Retail Federation,” U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average $143.56 on Valentine’s Day. Total spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion, up from $18.2 billion last year.”

That’s a lot of clams, lavish dinners, sparkling jewels and premium roses.

I say go for it. Participate. Partake. Celebrate – responsibly of course.

But after the flowers have wilted and died, the box of Godiva chocolates is empty, the lavish dinner is forgotten,  the heart stirring card is tucked into a cabinet or deposited in the round file, why not make a proclamation to give an enduring gift of love – the gift a healthy heart.

Healthy Heart Month

Valentine’s Day is just a day, albeit a somewhat significant one.  But the entire month of February is observed as American Heart Month which seems to get completely overshadowed.

Since 1964, a Presidential proclamation has been issued to commemorate American Heart Month. Why? Because cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of deaths in America.  The National Heart Association says that every 38 seconds a person dies of cardiovascular disease (stroke, coronary artery disease, heart attack). That’s about 2,300 people a day, and 2,300 families who lives have abruptly shifted and changed. My family experienced the untimely death of a beloved and cherished member due to heart disease.

There is good news Dear Heart

Knowing your family history and making lifestyle changes (managing stress, losing weight, getting physically active, making healthy choices in what you eat, and cutting back on alcoholic beverages) can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease significantly, as much as 80%.

Healthy heart recipe – start here

Pan Grilled Chicken Breast with Chick Pea Sauce

Your assignment during American Heart Month is to eat more heart healthy meals as a declaration of the love you have for yourself, and as a declaration of the love you have for those you cherish.

My Pan Grilled Chicken Breast with Chick Pea Sauce is a heart healthy gift I give to you. The chicken is moist, tender and flavorful. The Chick Pea Sauce, made with fresh thyme and lemon juice, is savory and soul satisfying.  An option is to finish the plating with pan grilled corn cut from the cob. This is a meal that will make your heart happy and your lips part with a smile.

I’d like to thanks the great folks at Goya Foods for providing some of the ingredients used in making this recipe.

Talk about it

Have a heart to heart chat with yourself Dear Heart. There is no time like the present, and no better time than during American Heart Month to give yourself and those you love the gift of a healthy heart.

Now that’s real love my foodie friends. Time for you to get cooking!

Pan Grilled Chicken Breast with Chick Pea Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

A delicious, hearty healthy meal


2 boneless chicken breasts (Simple Truth Organic Chicken Breast featured here)
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice for chicken marinade
½ teaspoon lemon juice for Chickpea Sauce
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1~ 15.5 ounce Goya Chick Peas, drained
2/3 cup chicken stock
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ear of corn, husk and silk removed


  1. Wash and pat dry chicken breasts. Place chicken breasts on a cutting board and slice each one in half to yield four pieces. Generously season chicken breast slice with salt and cracked pepper.
  2. To a small bowl add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon chopped thyme leaves, and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder. Mix well and pour into a plastic zipper storage bag.  Add seasoned chicken breast slices to marinade, seal the bag and marinade 15 minutes. Massage and turn the bag a few times.
  3. While chicken is marinating, to a skillet or stove top grill pan set at medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of Grapeseed or corn oil and pan grill the ear of corn. Rotate the corn in pan until it is lightly browned on all sides. Remove from heat, set aside and let cool.
  4. Remove chicken breast from marinade after 15 minutes and place them in the same skillet or grill pan. Cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes until medium brown in color.
  5. When done, remove chicken breast from skillet or grill pan and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Place in a 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes.
  6. While chicken is in the oven, to a blender add drained Chick Peas, ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, cracked pepper, 2/3 cup of chicken stock.
  7. Use the liquidfy setting and blend until creamy.
  8. Pour sauce into a small sauce pan. Place sauce pan on stove top and bring to a gentle boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. When done, remove from heat, keep warm.
  9. Remove chicken from oven after 10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. While chicken is resting, cut the corn from the cob (video here).
  10. Place a chicken breast on a plate, spoon Chick Pea sauce over breast, top with grilled corn and fresh chopped thyme. (Note: as featured here, chicken breasts are sliced at a diagonal before plating. See “Happy New Year, happy new food,” for example.


Patriots, Eagles and a super Superbowl Chili

5 Bean and Beer Chili

My beloved Rams.

They gave it a good go this season.

Their second year in Los Angeles has given the City of the Angels hope that perhaps one day we will make our long awaited appearance in the Super Bowl.

Rams insider Myles Simmons said it best: “Los Angeles completed a historic turnaround in the 2017 regular season, not only winning the NFC West for the first time since 2003 but also going from worst to first in scoring.”

Thank you Myles.

The big game

So now we know the two teams that are poised to go helmet to helmet in the 52nd Super Bowl, set for Sunday, February 4th.

The New England Patriots will make their 10th Super Bowl appearance.

The Philadelphia Eagles will make their 3rd Super Bowl appearance.

The Patriots won the title in 2017 and 2015. Its not surprising that the odds makers have tossed up their odds and predict   the Patriots will win a back-to-back title this time around. Could this be a slam dunk for New England?

Enough about football

Let’s talk chili because its gotta be part of your Super Bowl menu and its gotta be something to talk about in case the game isn’t.

5 Bean and Beer Chili with toppings

My 5 Bean and Beer Chili is just the recipe you need to score a winning touchdown at your Super Bowl gathering. Here’s why:

  • Simple, modest ingredients.
  • Easy to prepare.
  • Cooks in an hour.
  • Rich, full bodied flavor.
  • Features Modelo Especial Beer, known for its orange blossom honey aroma.
  • Chock full of a variety of flavorful beans.
  • Great balance of ground turkey and smoked chicken sausage.
  • Thick, hearty and soul satisfying.

For this recipe, you will need a large Dutch Oven pot. This recipes features a 6 quart pot. After its done, make sure to gather a few  ramekins or small serving bowls and fill them with hand grated cheeses (cheddar, Parmesan, smoked Gouda), green onions, cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, olives, crushed tortilla chips, and chopped jalapenos. Your guests will love to customize their bowl of chili with their favorite toppings.

When planning any gathering, party or event, pace yourself and plan ahead. This chili can be made the day before your Super Bowl soirée.

One last thing football fans

I wouldn’t be too dismissive about the outcome of the big game. The City of Brotherly Love wants this title badly and they want it brought home on the wings of Eagles. I’m just relaying and saying.

Here’s the recipe.  Get cooking and go team!

5 Bean and Beer Chili

  • Servings: 8 to 10
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

A rich and hearty chili


1~ 15.5 ounce can red beans
1 ~15.5 ounce can black beans
1 ~15.5 ounce can pinto beans
1~ 15.5 ounce can dark kidney beans
1~ 15.5 ounce can garbanzo beans

Wet ingredients
1~ 14.5 ounce can Simple Truth Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
3 ½  cups low sodium chicken stock
1 ½ cup Modelo Especial Beer

1 ½ cup bell pepper, chopped
1 ½ cup red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ear of corn, pan grilled and cut from cob

2 pounds ground turkey, cooked
1 pound Hillshire Chicken Smoked Sausage Roasted Garlic, cut

Herbs and spices
3 tablespoon cumin
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Chipotle Chili
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

To thicken
12 -15 ground saltine crackers


  1. To a skillet set at medium heat, add two tablespoons of  olive oil. Once heated, add bell pepper, red onion and garlic.  Sauté until tender, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. When done, remove from heat and place into a large Dutch oven.
  2. Cut smoked sausage in half, lengthwise. Then slice each lengthwise half into ½ inch slices. To that same skillet add the sausage and cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly. Add to Dutch oven.
  3. To that same skillet, add a little canola oil and pan grill the ear of corn. Rotate the  corn in pan until it is lightly browned.  Remove from heat, set aside and let cool.
  4. To that same skillet, add the ground turkey and cook until done, chopping and turning constantly. When done, drain, and add to Dutch oven.
  5. Open each can of beans, drain and add to Dutch oven. Add spices and herbs  (cumin, chili powder, Chipotle Chili, chopped oregano, cilantro, sugar, salt, pepper), liquids (Simple Truth Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, small can tomato paste, low sodium chicken stock and Modelo Beer) and grilled corn cut from cob.
  6. Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.
  7. Bring pot to a gentle boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. While the chili is simmering, place 12-15 saltine crackers in a plastic zipper storage bag. With a rolling pin or  drinking glass, crush crackers until fine. You can use a food processor or mini grinder if you like.
  9. When chili is done simmering, taste and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Next, slowly stir crushed crackers into the chili until you achieve your desire thickness.
  10. Let stand 20 minutes and serve.