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Monthly Archives: January 2018

Tampa Florida Foodie Trip and a Vegetarian Recipe

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Last October, I had the rare opportunity to treat my aunt Teri to a vacation in Florida. We travel together on occasion whenever her vacation time off from work allows which isn’t often enough. We flew to Florida to visit my good friend Sherri, whom I participated in the Avon Three Day 60 mile walk with in 1998. We walked and raised money for breast cancer awareness and bonded from our mutual and in Sherri’s case “toe nail losing” experience. But that story will be saved for another day. The three of us couldn’t wait to run around Tampa, see the sights and eat our way around town. Oh baby, did we have fun!

Sherri took us on a tour of downtown Tampa which included walking along the Tampa Riverwalk, checking out the Tampa Museum of Art and eating lunch at U le le Restaurant. It was a great day checking out the local scene and eating and drinking fancy cocktails to get the whole Floridian experience. We missed out on tasting their craft beers made on site from their Brewmaster Tim Shackton.  Their Fresh From Florida Mojito was made from Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur, fresh  lime juice, simple syrup, muddled oranges and mint was refreshing and just the right amount of sweet to quench my thirst.

Each of us picked something from the menu to share. Sherri ordered the Roasted Beet and Poached Pear Salad which was outstanding offering poached pear,  saffron roasted beets, balsamic charred red onion, whipped goat cheese, blackberry honey gastrique, toasted almonds and watercress.Aunt Teri ordered the crispy fried north Atlantic calamari, Amarillo chile lemon dressing and a sauce piquant which didn’t disappoint. The last dish was vegetarian called Three Sisters Stuffed Portobello showcasing oven roasted marinated portobello, grilled zucchini, red onion, red pepper, sauteed spinach, cranberry beans, and Manchego cheese with crispy carrot ribbons. Yum.

We couldn’t leave without sharing U le le’s famous Key West Key Lime Stack served w bruleed meringue. It was to die for, but of course i’m a huge fan of Key Lime desserts. Here is my version of Key Lime Bars.  It is worth mentioning their Toasted Coconut Ice Cream since another patron we sat with couldn’t stop talking about it. They have a similar recipe they make in their catering company. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that info or I would pass it on. Our new friends also recommended the Florida Cane Distillery . Hoping to make it back there sometime to check out this place. Sounds like a great spot to hang out and taste rum and vodka. And apparently Hamburger Mary’s has a fun atmosphere and delicious food if you are interested in gay bars. All this info was offered up from the locals we were dining with. Good stuff!  

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Our Florida trip couldn’t have gone any better. Sherri was generous enough to open her home to me and my aunt which saved us a ton of money and made our time together even that much more special. Aunt Teri loved seeing what Florida has to offer and I’m hoping my friend Sherri will take a trip to California soon so I can return the favor.

 

I will have to tell more of my Florida story for another blog since I am off to make dinner for my family. I can honestly say I am inspired to cook something vegetarian tonight. After writing about U le le’s vegetarian rice and beans dish, I’m ready to take on a grilled polenta and wild mushroom and zucchini dish. Hope you will get inspired to make delicious and healthy meals for your friends and family. Do you have a favorite vegetarian dish your family dreams about? If so, please write about it in the comment section below and tell me why they love it so much.

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Polenta Wild Mushrooms and Roasted Vegetables in Marinara

Ingredients:

1 ½ C Polenta

2 ½ C Veggie stock

½ C Heavy whipping cream

½ C Parmesan Cheese

½ C. fresh mozzarella sliced or shredded

3 T unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

 

1 White  or Red Onion sliced in quarters

1 Red Bell Pepper sliced in 1 “ chunks

1 Yellow Bell Pepper sliced  “ “

2 Zucchini Sliced “  “

1 C Sliced Mushrooms (Shiitake, Crimini, Portobello)

 

Optional: Marinara Sauce or Leftover meat sauce which makes it not so vegetarian.

 

Directions:

Heat Veggie Stock to medium high in a medium size pot. Slowly add polenta stirring constantly. Add cream, cheeses, butter and salt and pepper to taste and cook until done about 10-15 minutes. Pour hot polenta into a 13X9 baking dish and refrigerate until cool. When ready to serve get your grill pan hot, slice the polenta into large squares and sear to make grille marks 1 minute on each side. I opted for skipping this step so we could eat sooner.

 

Place cut veggies on a roasting pan, coat w olive oil, salt and pepper and bake uncovered for 20 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven.

 

Serve in individual shallow bowls by placing cooked polenta down, marinara or meat sauce next, and olive oil roasted vegetables down on top. Enjoy!

For More vegetarian menu ideas check out my Heirloom Tomato, Basil Pesto and Mozzarella Salad

 

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Posted by on January 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

My Guilty Pleasures: Dark Chocolate Truffles, Magic Cookie Bars and Biscotti

My Guilty Pleasures: Dark Chocolate Truffles, Magic Cookie Bars and Biscotti

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As I’m sitting here writing I decide to check my purse for a little something sweet. I usually have dark chocolate on me at all times. It’s insane, I know. But who doesn’t love chocolate? Instead of eating the Dove miniature that I usually embibe in, I was happy to discover I put some home made chocolate truffles in my purse this morning. My dark chocolate truffles are the perfect treat when you need a little pick me up. They are my “go to” guilty pleasure in a pinch. Recipe here for Ganache

 

Some folks require ice cream to satisfy their cravings, and I’m not opposed to that at all.In fact, a scoop of coffee ice cream with chocolate chunks is just the right amount of sweet and a nice boost in the mid day if you like coffee.

 

Speaking of desserts, I met a few friends last month at a nearby restaurant called Parada. Sharon, Elyse, Linda and I were celebrating Lisa’s birthday during lunch on a quiet Saturday afternoon. I’ve known these women for over 20 years since our kids attended the same elementary school and swim team. We spent time at boy scout outings together camping and hiking. It was nice to get together and share stories, lunch and get caught up.

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The food at Parada was delicious. We shared the roasted chicken, had a few salads and a couple of appetizers. The only disappointment was finding out that they didn’t offer dessert for the birthday girl. What’s up with that? Why would I go back to this restaurant again knowing they choose not to surprise their guests with a little something sweet at the end of their meal? Luckily, I brought everyone individual servings of my magic cookie bar that I had made the night before. You see, my family is not big on chocolate. Hard to believe, huh? So I happened to have a huge pan of these delicious treats to share and celebrate Lisa’s birthday. And I like to get these wonderful goodies out of my house before I eat them myself. Lisa was thrilled!

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Here’s Elyse and Lisa entering the Peruvian Restaurant Parada.
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Magic Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

2 Pkgs of Graham Crackers crushed in food processor

1 stick unsalted butter melted

1 tsp cinnamon

½ C sugar

 

2 Cans Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 C Chocolate Chips High quality like Ghirardelli, Valrhona

1 ½ C Shredded or flaked coconut

1 C toasted and chopped Walnuts

Directions:

Melt butter in small saucepan. Place graham crackers in food processor (or crush in a extra large ziplock bag with a rolling pin). Add sugar and cinnamon to crushed crackers and blend. Add melted butter and blend again.

 

Place mixture in a foil lined or parchment lined 13 X 9 pan. I used a slightly larger pan my Pampered Chef Bar Pan. Smooth. Sprinkle chocolate chips, coconut and walnuts over crust. Pour 2 cans of condensed milk over the top. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30- 40 minutes until brown and bubbly. Cool. Cut into squares and serve warm if possible.

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Bonus Recipe:

My friends on Instagram are waiting for my cranberry orange and pistachio biscotti recipe. I made these crunchy and tart cookies to bring to Tom my step Dad. He has been suffering from the lousy cold that is going around so these cookies are sure to cheer him up. Here’s the recipe:

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Cranberry Orange and Pistachio Biscotti

 

2 C All Purpose Flour

1 C Sugar (Plus 2 T to sprinkle on at end)

1t Baking Powder

3 Eggs

2 T Brandy

2 T Cointreau Liqueur

1 t vanilla

1 t Anise extract

Zest from 1 large Orange

1 C whole fresh cranberries (Can substitute dried)

1 C toasted Pistachios

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix flour sugar and baking powder together in a large bowl.

In medium size bowl, whisk eggs, brandy, cointreau, vanilla, and anise.

Add egg mixture to dry ingredients until combined. Mix in pistachios.

Transfer dough to a prepared lined sheet pan. Shape dough into a 5inch wide and ½ inch high loaf. Sprinkle on 2 T granulated sugar.

Bake until firm and dry about 30 to 35 minutes when it is golden brown.

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Remove pan from oven and slice loaf on a diagonal into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices. Arrange cookies cut side down onto the sheet pan and bake again until golden brown about 7 or 10 minutes. I prefer them not too crunchy, so I don’t bake them too long during the second bake only 7 minutes.

If you have any questions for me or you want to talk about your guilty pleasure, leave me comments below. I’d be honored.

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Blackberry Turnovers and My Secret Get Away Spot

Blackberry Turnovers and My Secret Get Away Spot

A little known fact about me that most people don’t know is that I write my blog at my gym. I belong to  Club Sport one of the nicest gyms in the Bay Area. It’s located about 20 minutes from my home and I like to come here to decompress. I know. Most people go to their gym so they can work out and get a good sweat on. Not me. I like taking an occasional spin class, yoga class or weight class here, but most of all I like to sneak away from home and write my blog.

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No one interrupts me here. At home, I have to contend with my animals, kids and husband. I’ll be honest, my pets are high maintenance. As soon as I walk in the door, the dog and cats are dying to be fed. We have a doggie door that they use to come in and out of all day long. They have plenty of dry food to eat, but they demand canned food the instant I walk in the door. And it doesn’t stop there. My two cats are 12 years old. They will meow when they want to come in your room even if it is 6 AM. We could leave the bedroom door open, but my 14 year old dog has a doggie dementia and he walks around the house tapping his little paws all over the wood floors and it wakes me up.

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This is why I am sitting in a comfortable chair at my gym near the hotel entrance where I’m not taking up a chair at the bar or cafe. It’s fairly quiet and I’m able to focus on the task at hand, writing my next blog.

 

People ask me why I post pictures of my food and write a blog. I guess at  some point I would like to own a bed and breakfast place. Maybe I will work in a professional kitchen again or teach cooking classes again. I’m not sure what’s in my future. For now, I love to bake and cook and share recipes.

 

Currently and for the past 7 months I have been working as a nanny. The job kind of fell in my lap. I wasn’t looking for an opportunity like this but it came along and I went for it. The baby is super cute and we are buddies. She loves spending time with me and I can’t wait to see her read her my newest children’s book. She’s the best baby, sleeping through the night for many months now and her parents are really cool animators at Pixar. They are wonderful people and I am lucky to share in taking care of their little one.

 

Many mornings last July I would walk the baby and pick wild blackberries from the running trail and make blackberry hand pies. These turnovers were to die for especially warm from the oven.

 

Who knows how long they will need me or if they will have more children. At least I have a job for now and am enjoying every minute I get to spend with the little one. Babies are a ton of fun and this one in particular has my heart. I’m finally able to cook for her some meals which makes me happy.

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Here is my recipe for Blackberry Turnovers.

 

Pastry

3 C. Flour

3 T granulated Sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (1 stick)

¼ C. Shortening

3 Tbsp  H2O

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tsp white distilled vinegar

 

Directions for making Pastry

  1.   In a  large bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blended and working quickly to prevent butter from melting into flour, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (or put mixture in food processor and pulse until combined) Another pie recipe here:Strawberry pie
  2.  In a small bowl combine water, egg, and vinegar. Stir to mix. With a fork, mix egg mixture into flour just until dough clumps together and moist enough to pat together. If dough is dry and crumbly, add more water 1 Tbsp at a time. Dough should not be wet or sticky. (I use the food processor and pulse until combined.)
  3.  Wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  4.  Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll with pin to flatten

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Blackberry Filling:

Pick two or three cups of blackberries (or purchase 2 fresh packages/ or buy a package of frozen blackberries and defrost and drain). You can substitute blueberries, apricots or peaches. Use whatever is in season.

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Sprinkle 1/2 C granulated sugar (more if not as sweet), 1/8 C tapicoa flour, ½ t Maldon or Kosher Salt, 1 T lemon zest, and 1/2t nutmeg in a bowl of washed blackberries. Place about 1 t unsalted butter on each pastry before sealing w egg wash  (1 egg whipped in a small bowl. You can add 1 tsp water or milk if you wish. I don’t)

 

After rolling out pastry, cut into large circles or squares. Separate them by placing on parchment paper or tin foil on a baking pan leaving a little room (about an inch) in between. Scoop about ½ C onto each pastry and dot with 1 t butter. Fold over, seal, crimp with your fingers of with a fork before slashing with a knife in two places, brushing with egg wash and sprinkling them with a little turbinado sugar. Pop into a 400 degree preheated oven for about 14 min or until brown and bubbly.

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Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a cold glass of milk. These are great after school snacks or a quick breakfast on the go. They never make it till breakfast in my house.

Or make a blackberry pie!

Do you have a secret place you like to sneak off to? Leave your comments below and thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I really appreciate my readers who inspire me every day. It means a lot.

Teri:)

 

 

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Seeing the Seed with Annie Moss

Seeing the Seed with Annie Moss

Interesting podcast on starting a bakery

Underground Airwaves

On this episode we hear from Annie Moss, co-owner of Seastar Bakery, which recently opened in Northeast Portland. Seastar features breads made from regionally sourced whole grains, which they mill onsite, cooked in a wood-fired oven. They share the space with Handsome Pizza. Annie talks about her experience going from baker to business owner and the importance of eating local and regional grains. The story and interview were recorded at Seastar Bakery in Portland, OR.

“We had ironing boards out and we were cutting this intensely dense rye bread with these ironing boards and mediocre knives.”

– Annie Moss


Thank you to our presenting sponsor

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Posted by on January 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

 
 
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