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Breakfast Isn’t Boring Anymore

10 Feb

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In our house we do breakfast every day, I mean a full breakfast. My daughter isn’t a big lunch eater so we try to pack in the nutrition in the AM as best we can. I make a mean poached egg and slamming Matzoh Bri, the occasional Hash or the ever popular Chilaquiles. Over the years my husband has become quite the breakfast maker, he started off on the weekends and He even took over school weekday breakfast for a whole school year. He’s got his own funny recipes like the Framble, and the Encharadia.
Weekday breakfast is back on my plate now and we are board! I’ve made it my mission to try and make breakfast new again. It doesn’t take much effort to make it fun or different. The night before I set out bowls and chopsticks so when they sat down they had a surprise!
Today I made Breakfast Fried Rice, they ate it up, I will be a staple on our breakfast menu from now on. You can use brown rice and add frozen peas and carrots and anything else you can dream up. We like Applegate Organic Bacon, it’s thin and not too salty. You can add a sliced orange to finish the meal with just like at a Chinese restaurant!

Breakfast Fried Rice

When making fried rice it is best to use leftover rice, it clumps and soaks up the flavors well. Make your rice the night before and you can even make and chop, the bacon the night before. For ease I crack and scramble the eggs in a separate container. In the morning I just add the eggs to a pan scramble, and then add the rice.
Serves four

2 cups cooked white rice
5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
Three large eggs
Salt
Pepper
Soy sauce
2 Tbs. grape seed oil or coconut oil
1 avocado, sliced

Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Eggs, scramble until almost dry, remove from pan, set aside.
Add rice and chopped bacon to pan (you may need more oil if not using a non stick pan)
Fry rice until hot, stirring rice until cooked through, add eggs back to pan with rice. Season with salt and pepper.
Add soy-sauce and sliced avocado to taste.
Serve in boxes or bowls.

A Cheese Wiz

2 Nov
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Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo

melt-cover500-241x300I can’t totally recall but I think I met Stepahanie Stiavetti at an IACP conference (not the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference) it’s the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Stephanie is a food writer and recipe developer and I am excited to announce that she has just written her first cookbook.

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Humboldt Fog Cheese

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of her book, Melt the Art of Macaroni and Cheese.  I get a lot of books to review and most of the time I don’t love every book I get and rarely review them. I wanted to review Stephanie’s because it’s her first and because we both like to dye various strands of our hair bright red. (Not really, but that is true about the hair, her hair always looks great!)

I’ll start by telling you that unfortunately cheese is not my friend, I love cheese but it really hates me. UNLESS of course…..it’s very expensive, made and by hand from Pygmy goats in an obscure smallish town somewhere. Are you still with me? When I looked through Melt I instantly knew what recipe I would make, one that was kid friendly and made with a cheese I was very familiar with.

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Humboldt Fog Cheese

About 8 years ago my husband and I did all the photography for Cypress Grove Cheve Cheese Company. No joke, we had about 100 pounds of cheese to shoot! In that in that excessive amount of cheese were three wheels of Humboldt Fog deliciousness. We ended up having a party and inviting strangers in to take cheese home! That’s when the love affair started with a beautiful creamy wheel of snowy white goat cheese. Humboldt Fog could be mistaken at first glance for Blue cheese, but it’s so not a blue cheese. Cheese maker Mary Keehn of Humboldt County, California invented this cheese named for our famous coastal fog. We have toured Mary’s cheese making facility in Arcadia and it is fascinating, they make some of our favorite cheese. The story goes that in the morning the cream would be set into the molds and then a layer of charred vegetable ash laid atop the cream to separate the cream from the afternoon milking, creating a distinct dark green blue line of ash in the center of each wedge.

Now that you know the back story about my slight obsession with this cheese, I can tell you about the yummy recipe I made from Stephanie’s book.

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She even spelled her name in Orzo and alphabet pasta!

Yes, Yes I know it’s not peach season but the weather is warm and the grill is right out front and begging to be used. I was lucky enough to find peaches, really beautiful ones locally and I was also trying to pick a kid friendly recipe to share from Melt. I knew my family liked grilled peaches, we usually make them for a sweet dessert with whipped cream, we haven’t eaten them in a savory dish.  Another way I thought I could to add a kid zip to this dish was to use alphabet pasta mixed with the orzo, this was a hit!

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Juicy Grilled Peaches

We left out the mint but could have added it just as easily, ours was sad and brown and better left alone in the garden to wither. We all loved the dish, with sweet hints of peach, tart vinegar and creamy sharp cheese flavors mingling together. I loved the addition of pistachios, the kid could have done with out them but I think the added saltiness and crunch was needed. I highly recommend this dish for a summer party, I repeat summer, don’t be a seasonal rule breaker like I am! I like Melt it’s good for a twist on Mac and Cheese and is full of other great ideas.

There is a great MELT giveaway here be sure to go over to The Culinary Life and enter win a set of Le Crueset cookware

Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo

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What could be nicer than a blushing peach? The sun-kissed color, the ticklish feel of the fuzz, the sweet-as-sugar-cane flavor. This simple orzo salad lets these traits shine—and without the nuisance of peach juice dribbling down your arm. Summer in a bowl, this is.

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Peaches awaiting the grill

Serves 4

3 freestone yellow peaches

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

S ea salt

10 ounces orzo (or 5 oz orzo and 5 oz alphabet pasta can be cooked together)

¼ cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

¼ cup chopped spearmint

1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces Humboldt Fog, rind removed and crumbled into large chunks

1. Using a barely damp paper towel, lightly scrub the peaches of any extraneous fuzz. Don’t wash the peaches, as they will soak up excess water. Using a sharp knife, cut each peach in half lengthwise around the pit, using the peach’s crevices as a guide. Discard the pits.

2. Set the peach halves in a zip-top bag and toss with honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. Allow the peaches to marinate for 10 minutes.

3. While the peaches marinate, cook the orzo in some salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.

4. Once the peaches are done marinating, reserve the marinade and place the peach halves on a hot, oiled grill, cut-side down. Cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the peaches are soft and have developed some charming dark grill marks. Roughly chop into bite-size pieces and set aside.

5. Combine the peaches, marinade, orzo, parsley, spearmint, and pistachios in a bowl and toss. Add a bit more sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste. Plonk in the Humboldt Fog and toss once or twice, just enough to bring everything together.

Overmixing will melt the cheese, and our goal here is to maintain its chunky texture.

Alternative cheeses: Though Humboldt Fog is widely available, a good stand-in would be Goat’s Leap Eclipse, Bermuda Triangle, or any stellar chèvre.

Wine pairings: rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer

Additional pairings for the cheese: plums, cherries, balsamic vinegar reduction

Strawberry Vacation

25 Jun

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“So what are all these photos from?” you ask? They are from the land of strawberries, yes there is such a place, it runs from Orange County, all the way to the Monterey Bay, growing about 88 percent of the nation’s strawberries. (actually these were taken by Matthew Carden  the photos of real people are by me!)

There are 400 farmer families that grow all of those and countless workers that carefully harvest them. I had no idea how a strawberry got from field to market but I do now! The Strawberrry commission of California arranged fantastic tours, meals from famous chefs who made the yummiest and unsuspected delicious from the red fruit. I was so lucky to go stay at the beautiful Carmel Valley Ranch with a bunch of uber talented bloggers for two days. I feel like I learned so much about strawberries but even more than that I learned how the commission supports their farmers and helps educate the public about sweet sweet strawberries!  It was great to be on the coast, smell the salt air and stand in the fields, it’s rare that we get to be where our food grows.  I had the feeling of a larger world around us, something we don’t think about on a day to day basis. The farmers do, they work hard and care about the product they grow.   Check your strawberries the next time you buy them, I bet they will be from the Monterey area, if they aren’t then keep searching.

Yes there was a cooking competition, and Team Buffalo Strawberry took the gold (the Visa gift cards) With our LOW Sodium version of Buffalo Wings ala Strawberry BBQ sauce. You can check out that recipe below.  My contribution was a grilled corn and strawberry salad with grilled peach vinaigrette, I will share that recipe with you in a week or so.

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I know, I know…lots of photos but my new friends peer pressured me into joining Instagram, and I kind of went nuts! It was worth it because I ended up winning the Instagram Strawberry scavenger hunt!

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So are you intrigued by Strawbuffalo sauce?  My friend over at Sodium Girl  said I could share our secret recipe with you….make sure to go read her amazing blog, she’s funny!

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LOW-SODIUM STRAWBUFFALO CHICKEN20130609-210651.jpg20130614-215146.jpg

recipe courtesy of Sodium Girl

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 shallot or half a red onion, chopped
  • 3 cups strawberries, stemmed and washed
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tsp salt-free chili powder
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp salt-free garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 chicken legs and thighs (bone-in and skin-on) or a bunch of wings
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

In a medium-size sauce pot, heat up a tablespoon of oil and when ready, add the garlic and the onions. Cook until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Then add your strawberries, jalapeños, about 1/4 cup of water and lower heat to soft boil. Allow the strawberries to soften and break down into a slushy sauce, about 15 minutes. Add the chili and molasses and let it cook another 10 minutes.  Then, using a handheld or standing blender, give the sauce a whirl until it is pureed and smooth. Transfer the sauce back to the pot, add the vinegar, and continue cooking on medium-low heat for another ten minutes.

While the sauce is going, place your chicken on a roasting pan and drizzle some oil on all the pieces, rubbing it so they are all slick. Then in a small bowl, mix together the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper and give all the chicken pieces a good rub down with the mix until they are covered. If you are using a bbq and it is ready to go, then place the chicken on the grill on a cooler part of the grill, skin side up. If you are using an oven, heat it to 375 F and throw that pan of chicken pieces (laid out in a single layer or even on top of a roasting rack on the pan) into the oven.

If you are using breast/leg pieces, let them cook 25 minutes. If you are using wings, let them cook 15 minutes.  Then, slather your chicken pieces with sauce and then continue cooking another 10 minutes, putting the sauce back on the stove on low to keep warm. If you are BBQ’ing, then you can move your chicken to a hotter spot on the grill.

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Ten things I learned about Strawberries

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1. They are delicious grilled (and wrapped with pancetta)
2. They are hand picked, boxed and shipped within a day, (that’s crazy because they are picked one at a time by workers who bend down all day and painstakingly pick, pick, pick!) Strawberries are picked and brought to a giant cooling facility where they are labeled and shipped that day.

3. They are also delicious in savory dishes such as in our winning dish Strawbuffalo wings, yes you heard right! For the yummy low sodium version visit my incredible team-mate over at Sodium Girl
4. California is the nation’s leading producer of strawberries.

5. Four hundred family farmers grow strawberries growing about 88 percent of the nation’s strawberries.

6. 8 strawberries contain as much vitamin C as one orange!

7. According to a recent study, eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years!

8. Dynamite for diabetics: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) identified berries, including strawberries, as one of the top 10 superfoods for a diabetes meal plan.

9. After being picked every extra hour the berries sit in the field (on the truck) the berries lose one day of shelf life.

10. Bloggers can party anywhere, even in a strawberry field!!

There is so much more to know from these beautiful and informative posts from these bloggers:

Superglue Mom Garlic Girl BlogPlayful Cooking,  Muy Bueno CookbookPinch My SaltSavory SimpleUknown MamiMy San Francisco Kitchen, Cooking with Amy, The Veggie Queen, Mitzi the Nutrition Expert

Join my friends at CA Strawberries

Twitter: @CAStrawberries

Facebook: CAStrawberries

Pinterest: CAStrawberries

Instagram: CAStrawberries

Bullseye Pops

11 Jun

EMWC Summer 2013 Stone's Soup Corner

THE KIDS are ALL Right

Photo Matthew Carden

Another share from Edible Marin Wine Country, I couldn’t pass up sharing this recipe!

When I sat down to write this issue’s Stone’s Soup Corner, I thought I had it all worked out. Melon soup was on the agenda. Perfect for summer— cool, refreshing and easy.

I usually clear my ideas with my 9-year-old daughter before I discuss them with my editor, but this time I never got around to asking her what she thought about this soup idea. Her reaction when she heard: “Mom, no kid is going to eat that!”

And she was right. I had lost sight of whom I was writing for. So, together, we brainstormed for a summer melon-y idea and came up with these creamy pops.

Food is at the center of so much of our lives and too often it becomes simply a chore. We shoo the kids away so we can get the cooking done, clean up and get on to the next task. But food should be fun, not stressful or humorless. That is why I like cooking for kids and silly grown-ups.

Sometimes on a hot day sharing a moment with a sloppy, drippy homemade pop is simply the right thing to do. Forget all the to-do lists and the dirty laundry, just for a moment. These Bull’s Eye Honeydew Pops highlight the ripest melons of the season. They are creamy, refreshing and dairy free!

Make an extra batch to keep in your freezer—it’s nice to have homemade pops ready for a playdate or family dessert on a hot summer night.

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Bullseye Honeydew Pops

Yield: 6 regular-size pops or 24 ice-cube-size pops

3⁄4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1⁄2 cup sugar
6 large mint leaves (Mint grows wild, so go check your garden before

you buy it at the market.)
3 cups very ripe Honeydew melon flesh (about 1⁄2 a melon 24 fresh or frozen cherries
Decorative straws (cut to size) or Popsicle sticks

Extra Tools

Straws or wooden Popsicle sticks

Small pop molds (Note: pop molds look great, but an ice cube tray will work just fine.)

Add coconut milk, sugar and mint leaves to a small saucepan and warm slowly over medium heat, scraping the sides constantly with a rubber spatula. When the sugar is dissolved, remove pan from heat and cool mixture to room temperature.

Dice the melon flesh into small pieces and place in a blender. Drain the mint from the cooled syrup, then add syrup to the blender. Blend until smooth and frothy.

Place four cherries into each pop mold—or, if you are using ice cube trays to make your pops, place a stick or straw into each cherry and place 1 in each cube reservoir.

Pour the coconut-melon mixture around the cherries in each mold, then place a straw or Popsicle stick into the center. If you are using ice cube trays, carefully pour the mixture around each cherry in the tray.

Freeze for 4 hours or until firm.

edible marin & wine country summer 2013 | 53

Ginger Fizz

1 Jun

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Our family generally doesn’t drink soda unless someone is sick or traveling that’s when Ginger Ale comes in to play. In fact I don’t think Claire has ever had Coke.

Last month my daughter went off to Gold Country, Nevada city to be exact. They left in modern cars but were dressed in 1849 garb, bonnets and bloomers! They each have a character to become during the trip and some have family units to be pretending with. They studied scripts and history of each family and character and they have to actually play that character the whole time!20130531-221548.jpg

One of the items the teacher asked for was homemade ginger beer, I eagerly raised my hand like a student with ants in her pants….”oh, oh pick me, pick me!” I have never made ginger beer but at that moment remembered I have a huge amount of ginger in the freezer sealed up like astronaut food in a Foodsaver bag. I really need to use that up and I thought and this would be a perfect way. So I set to work, the teacher supplied me the old-fashioned amber jugs to fill, I had the ginger and a large pot so I was all set up to make the brew.

The first thing was a bit tedious, peeling about a pound and a half of ginger….the fact that is was slightly frozen made it easier and also annoying because my hand kept going numb. Once that peeling part was done the recipe is a breeze.

It came out very tasty but needed more fizz. The next time I think I will try the yeast method of fermentation it may yield a fizzier result. The flavor was amazing and my daughter loved it. The ginger beer was destined to be consumed at the Saloon, served by the Bar keep (a parent dressed up)   Unfortunately the kids didn’t get any because I also made enough root beer for everyone, but that is a whole other blog post!  (The chaperones loved the ginger beer.)

The Gold Country experience is supposed to be as authentic as possible and the trip,was perfect except for the rattlesnakes in the tent and the wax fire! I guess it was a a lot more authentic than they’d hoped for.  All 20 kids and chaperones ended up in a hotel in Downyville but still had a great time.

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Ginger Fizz

You can make individual servings or mix up a large batch for a crowd!

  • 3 cups ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • About 1 liter chilled seltzer or club soda

Make syrup:

Add ginger to a perforated pasta pot, add water until just covered, simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile dissolve sugar in another pot with water, stir and cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Set simple syrup aside to cool, chill.

Remove from the heat and let steep, covered, about 30 minutes.

Lift ginger pot out of water and press ginger to remover water and discard the ginger pieces. Add lime to ginger juice, let juice come to room temperature and then chill in a covered jar until cold.

For individual drinks:
Use this a guide but prepare to your own taste

1/4 cup ginger juice syrup

1/4 cup simple syrup

3/4 cup seltzer

 

Super Delicious Fluffy Gluten Free Oatmeal Muffins

21 May

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I recently found Cup to Cup Gluten Free Flour and I think it may be the best one so far. Image

I just feel better when I eat gluten free! I have been eating that way for almost 6 years. I do eat gluten occasionally but for the most part I stick with a GF free diet. When I first started this way of eating I had gallstones, and they were horrible! I had to cut out fat and fat tastes good. After my gallbladder was removed (they tell you you don’t really need it, they lie!) I had a very hard time eating any fatty foods, so I started cutting out even more thinking maybe my digestion was screwy because of wheat or dairy. What happened, was that I started feeling alert and my occasional migraines disappeared for good.  I really had no idea I was even in a fog, but I must have been for a very long time because the change I saw from going off wheat was big. I was able to slowly reintroduce fat, truly unfortunate for my waistline!

I cut out most dairy too and my tummy problems cleared up a lot but not all the way. It wasn’t until just under two years ago I found out I had Thyroid issues that I was clear of tummy problems and the fog continues to be lifted. I continue to try and avoid dairy and wheat and feel worlds better for it.  I think a lot of us walk around not even knowing we feel terrible.

All this for muffins, yes I just gave you way too much information, but if you or your kids are feeling foggy, unmotivated or bloated try giving up gluten for a few months.

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Fluffy Gluten Free Oatmeal Muffins

These muffins are gluten free but you wouldn’t know it.

The flour does have milk powder so if you can handle a tiny bit of dairy it will be perfect for you.

1/2 cup milk (soy or almond milk)
 3/4 cup instant oatmeal
 2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
 2/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour (gluten free flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup mini chips
1/4 cup shredded sweet coconut or unsweetened

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Butter 12 muffin cups or use cupcake papers
Mix oats and milk together in a bowl, set aside to soak for 15 minutes or longer.
Combine  flour,  baking powder, baking soda, and salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, set aside.
In a large measuring cup add coconut oil into vegetable oil. If the coconut oil is solid, mash the coconut oil into vegetable oil. Add eggs and brown sugar and mix until smooth
Add oatmeal milk mixture into wet mixture, mix.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, add chocolate chips and coconut, mix until just incorporated.
Fill the prepared muffin cups with batter.
Bake in preheated oven until tops are golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

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Big Salad

6 Mar

20130306-164515.jpgMost of the time I work from home, with the exception of occasional travel or being at our Art Gallery. My husband also works at home and we try not to eat lunch out too much.   I am always in need fast easy and lunches, and it’s usually some form of leftovers magically disguised as a new dish. We love big salads at our house especially as the weather gets warmer.  If you keep clean chopped veggies on hand you will be more likely to choose a healthier alternative like a salad to take out.

Do you remember the Seinfeld episode in the with the “big salad?” This reminded me of that, it’s never ending, full of crunchy veggies, sweet and soft potatoes and creamy dressing. Just make sure if you make it, your lunch date knows YOU made it! (make sure you watch the Seinfeld link)  I suggest sharing because it isn’t exactly a low cal salad and you wouldn’t want to hog the whole thing, would you?

I used gluten free soy sauce and organic peanut butter but you use what ever you have on hand.
Kids may also like this salad, it’s not to tangy and they tend to love peanut butter. You can substitute almond or sunflower butter easily, adjusting the water may be necessary. You could serve some toasty flat bread with this salad but the crunchy veggies were enough for me.
The sauce can work over rice as a hot dish too, just heat it up, add a few more dashes of soy sauce and off you go….

 

Here is a tip for grating ginger. Peel fresh ginger and keep it in the freezer. When needed for soups, sauces or tea just use a micro grater and grate directly into your recipe. I reach for my ginger all the time!

Big Salad

Serves 2 large  or 4 smaller servings

Creamy Peanut Butter Dressing

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons soy sauce (or more to taste)

2 teaspoons honey or agave

2 Tbs rice wine vinegar

Grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger

pinch of ground pepper

1/4 cup hot water

Pinch of red pepper flakes

In a heat proof glass measuring cup or mug add all ingredients except water. Put in microwave for 30 seconds or less.   Mix all ingredients with a fork until well blended. Add hot water slowly until, your desired consistency, add red pepper flakes.

Salad

Use any veggies you have on hand, this is what I used.

2 small sweet potatoes, cooked and chopped (see recipe)
Baby spinach
Kale, raw, shredded
cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces
broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces
red onions, sliced in to half moons
scallions, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
cherry tomatoes, halved
carrots diced
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wash and pierce potatoes, toss in microwave and cook about 5-6 minutes on high or until very soft. Remove from microwave and let cool for 10 minutes. Strip the peel off with your fingers, it should be easy to remove. If it gives you trouble, scoop out flesh with a spoon. Chop in to small bite size chunks, set aside.

Assemble a crisp salad: Add everything except the sweet potato to a large bowl, toss with dressing (start with a small amount, you can always add but can’t remove too much dressing)
Add sweet potato on top and drizzle a bit of dressing on it. Serve! You can top with chopped peanuts if desired.

Artisan Bread at Home for Real!!

14 Feb

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Wondering where I have been? Wow, I can’t believe that it is a whole new year! I have been working on my new cookbook, writing articles, shooting other cookbooks with my husband and working in our

new Art Gallery!

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In most places in the Northern Hemisphere it’s winter, but here in Northern California it’s only “kind” of winter. We moan and groan about the 39 degree mornings but it warms up to 60 plus by noon. The sky is blue and the air is crisp, I imagine it’s what Spring feels like everywhere else. I know some of you are digging out, so we really have nothing to complain about, do we? I have been making stews, soups and slow cooked braised turkey and it’s time for a change.

I just felt like making bread, it is warm, comforting and I knew my family would love it! Half the joy of bread making is the smell of it baking, and this one smells really good!

I know some of you are saying to yourselves that you can’t make bread, but you can. Whenever I need to reference a recipe I have two places I go, The old tattered Joy of Cooking cookbook and America’s Test Kitchen. Sometimes I just need an idea on a measurement to a method and these two sources can be so helpful. This time I wanted a fast easy bread recipe so I went to AMT and there it was….easy bread.

My Dutch Oven needed a change from all the stew-y things it has been churning out! Bread, I never thought of making bread in it, I assumed it was meant to hold soup-y, sloppy, slow cooked meats….not bread. What flavors would you add to this bread? Lemon zest and rosemary was our plan but we got distracted and forgot.

Oh, let me tell you from now on it IS my bread oven, not my Dutch Oven. It turned out a gorgeous loaf of golden, crackl-y  artisan bread. So dust yours off and get out the flour because you are going to want to make this recipe.

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Really Really Good Bread Recipe (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

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The recipe calls for a mild lager but I used a medium/darker one. I liked the depth of the flavor a lot in the finished product.
The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface

1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

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2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside the empty bowl (no need to clean it between steps) and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined bowl and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

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3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

 

Gingerbread Wishes

25 Dec

Happy holidays!!! I wanted to share our tradition of making a gingerbread house with you. Here are three different ones, the cute unfinished one is my daughter’s. she is using Golden Grahams cereal to create a thatch roof.
The house with the nerds rope wreath has been eaten!!! The others will be eaten this week.
Thanks for reading and happy new year from our houses to yours!!

House_1 House_2 House_3

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Horchata – Rum Spiked or Not?

10 Dec
20121210-100820.jpgI wouldn’t normally write a post about Rum, but when I opened the box from Shellback I was inspired! First off the box was personalized just for me, how cool is that? When I opened it up, inside I found a very funny certificate (pictured) about the Rum.  The packaging was flawless, each bottle nestled in a pillowed covering and unharmed. ” Sourced from some of the finest Caribbean sugarcane,20121210-095747.jpg and blended with twelve spices and other natural flavors, Shellback is a modern rum for discerning palates.” The website is really fun….check it out!20121210-095801.jpg
I thought, how can I write about booze on this blog? Then it hit me…it’s holiday time and I bet you need a break, just a small moment of peace, something that the kids will like while mommy or daddy relax too.
Growing up I never had Horchata, that sweet, cinnamon-y, creamy frothy beverage. We had Knishes, Matzoh balls and occasionally chinese take out! Mexican food in the 70’s in Upstate NY was just not something we had.  Since I moved to the Pacific coast I have been introduced to so much fun Mexican food and Horchata is one of my favorites.20121210-095755.jpg
Some say Horchata has roots in Egypt, Spain and then Mexico, Some use almonds some use rice as the base, either way it is a deliciously sweet indulgent treat. Traditional Horchata is dairy free, made only with rice or almond milk.
If you can’t have milk this recipe is easily made dairy-free, just skip the milk and condensed milk.
So make up some tacos and Horchata and for dinner and spike yours with yummy Shellback Rum! The kids can have theirs too but make sure to keep the rum all to yourselves!20121210-095816.jpg

Horchata with a Twist

This recipe will come out best if you have a high powered blender like a Blend Tech or Vita Mix but you can use any blender or food processor.
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 quarts warm water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed
milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup rum, or to taste (optional)

Mix the rice and warm water together in a bowl, and let stand for about an hour.  Drain the rice and reserve the water for later use. Place the rice in a blender, add the cinnamon and process until a paste forms. (you may want to add a bit of the reserved liquid if it too thick) Return the rice to the water and let stand at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally as the water turns milky white.

Strain the rice through a fine strainer into a bowl or pitcher. Using cheesecloth in a strainer will give you the best results. Stir in the milk, condensed milk, vanilla until evenly blended. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Before Serving toss in the blender  or use a stick blender to froth.

Pour the chilled horchata over the ice, add  even amounts of rum to glasses.

For the kids OMIT the RUM!!

If you are looking for some other rum drinks check this out.

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