Melissa’s Produce Challenge – The Sequel!

The San Diego Food Bloggers are at it again!  Several of us were sent another box of goodies from Melissa’s Produce http://www.melissas.com/ .  Not sure what I’m talking about?  Check out my blog from March 19th, Melissa’s Produce San Diego Food Bloggers Challenge, to read all about this company.

This time I received a box containing several nectarines, 1 Korean Melon, 8 Rhubarb Stalks, a bunch of Fava Beans, Peaches, a Coconut and an opener, and a jar of Hatch Salsa. There was a delay in receiving the shipment due to the local fires and crazy weather, so the timing wasn’t the best for me. And it was about 100 degrees on the Coast. Enough of my moaning. We don’t get to complain often in San Diego, so just humor me. I loved the challenge placed before me!  Really, I did!

Two more items I decided to use at another time. Melon was eaten just simply sliced.  I hadn't had one before, so I wanted to try it on its own.  I still need to open the salsa.  I love Hatch peppers!!

Two more items I decided to use at another time. Melon was eaten just simply sliced. I hadn’t had one before, so I wanted to try it on its own. I still need to open the salsa. I love Hatch peppers!!

Melissa's Produce

Very cool to receive both of these ingredients, but I opted to save those for another cooking adventure!

Very cool to receive both of these, but I opted to save those for another cooking adventure!

Fava Farro Salad

I will post this recipe soon!

I knew when I saw the Rhubarb, that was a must. Rhubarb is one of my most favorite things in the world. I made a rhubarb cocktail last year.  I really need to do that again!!  But back to this challenge!  I decided to create a flat bread and top it with rhubarb, nectarines, peaches, and goat cheese. I had never tried a Korean Melon, and I was limited on time, so I opted to set that aside. I wanted something to serve alongside of the flatbread, so I made a Farro Salad with Fava Beans and Tomatoes.

First step: remove the fava beans from the outer shell.

First step: remove the fava beans from the outer shell.

Second step: peel away the second "shell".  I read that some say this is not necessary.  I tried a fava with and without that second layer.  I found the second layer to be a bit bitter, so I removed it.  It does take time.

Second step: peel away the second “shell”. I read that some say this is not necessary. I tried a fava with and without that second layer. I found the second layer to be a bit bitter, so I removed it. It does take time.

Since I had some goat cheese on hand, I crumbled some more goat cheese into the salad. Why not? If I could get away with goat cheese in my coffee, I would.  This flatbread turned out to be so good that my husband and I ate the whole thing in one night.  Don’t judge us!  You try to stop halfway!!

Yum.

Yum.

Thyme to make the dough!  I can't get enough of that pun. Sorry.

Thyme to make the dough! I can’t get enough of that pun. Sorry.

Thyme To Eat Your Fruit Flatbread!

1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)

1 package active yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2.5 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Several sprigs of fresh thyme (extra to sprinkle on top)

3 Tablespoon olive oil

6 fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed and chopped

2 nectarines, chopped

3 peaches, chopped

4 oz goat cheese (You can really add however much you like. I could easily add way more.)

Cornmeal for dusting

1) In a small bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes or until foamy.

2)In a large bowl combine 2 cups of flour and salt. Add yeast mixture, thyme, and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir until combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead in additional flour until dough becomes smooth and elastic.

3) Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover; let rise 30 minutes or until double in size.

4) Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Set aside. Punch down dough. Roll and shape until the dough is the size of the entire baking sheet. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Gently press the rhubarb, nectarines, and peaches into shaped dough. Top with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with extra thyme. With a pastry brush, brush remaining olive oil over the flatbread.

5) Bake 18 minutes or until flatbread is the desired color and the fruit is tender. I turned the broiler on for an additional few minutes to get it a little crisper. Remember to never leave the room and keep an eye on it because broilers can work fast!!

Make sure to check out this link and read what the other Food Bloggers created!  And huge THANK YOU goes out to Melissa’s Produce!  Once again, you sent a wonderful box of tasty treats!!  Thanks again! Take Care and Happy Eating!  An InLinkz Link-up

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One Heck Of A Meal

If you are free, try to checkout this awesome fundraising bake sale! Cupcakes can reduce body temps! It's a fact;)

If you are free, try to check out this awesome fundraising bake sale! Cupcakes can reduce body temps! It’s a fact:)

 

How often do you cook dinner? I usually cook dinner 5 nights a week. That’s a lot of meals. As much as enjoy trying new recipes and making some up, I have those dishes that I always revisit throughout the year. As a kid, my mom’s favorite go-to meals were meatloaf, perch, spaghetti with jarred Ragu, and liver and onions. There was always a half-gallon of milk on the table, and it always had this orange plastic holder with a handle. Why? I’m not sure. Where did my Mom even get that thing? And where did it go?

My go-to meals are salmon (either seared or in cake form), big salads with a ton of stuff in it, good old pasta with a tomato sauce (and I admit, often it is Barilla), and some kind of grain salad, like wheat berry or Farro, with roasted veggies and chicken. But because I cook a lot of meals, I don’t want to get too repetitive, so I look everywhere for new ideas.

I made a meal the other night from an article in the San Diego Union Tribune (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Apr/08/Armenian-cookbook-vegan-eggplant-casserole/), and Franz claimed it is one of his favorites. It is so simple to make, it smells awesome, and it is delicious. This will be added to my “go-to” meals without a doubt. The creator of the recipe, Dikranouhi Kirazian, is a local San Diegan who just published Armenian Vegan: A Pure Vegan Cookbook with 200+Recipes Using No Animal Products. I might have come up with a sexier title, but if this recipe is a good example of the rest of her work, I will have to buy this one!

Eggplant Casserole (Any notes in parenthesis, highlighted and in italics are my notes or additions.)

Serves 2 to 4

2 large eggplants

Olive oil (for brushing eggplant)

Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste (or any herbs you prefer that can withstand being broiled)

For the sauce

2 medium onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped  (I added more because I love garlic.)

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 cups sliced mushrooms (I added more because I love mushrooms.)

2 bay leaves

1⁄2 teaspoon oregano

1⁄2 teaspoon dried basil

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

8-ounce can tomato sauce (I had a 15 oz jar of tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s, so I added the whole thing. I like it a little saucy!)

Wash eggplant and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick round slices. Place slices on a large tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder ( I had some Santa Maria seasoning that I wanted to use, so I sprinkled that on them.). Turn slices over and repeat on other side. Put under a broiler preheated to between 350 and 400 degrees (I put my oven to 425 degrees to achieve the necessary browning), and broil both sides until a light golden brown. When done, remove from oven and set aside.(I opted to slice each round in half after broiling. I figured it would be a little easier to eat.)

Prepare the sauce while eggplant is cooking: Chop onions and garlic and sauté for several minutes in small amount of olive oil; then add the rest of the olive oil, mushrooms and all other spices. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, and stir frequently. Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then turn off heat.

Prepare for baking: Pour several spoons of sauce on the bottom of an 11-by-7-inch or 9-by-9-inch casserole dish. Layer the bottom of casserole dish with eggplant slices. Spoon some of the sauce on this layer; then add new layers, spooning sauce over each. Be sure to keep some sauce to pour over top layer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake casserole dish for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, as a main dish with rice or any pasta, and with a crunchy baguette. Can also be served cold as an appetizer. (I served this with Barilla’s Linguine.)

Sorry there are no photos.  I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t realize how much I would love it, and the leftovers didn’t look very pretty.  However, if you go to the UT link noted in the beginning, there is a beautiful photo!

I couldn’t leave you without one image.  I found my childhood milk holder!

This is it!!!!

This is it!!!!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Bake Sale Success?

Another year, another great bake sale for the San Diego Food Bloggers. I participated last year, but I wasn’t there to see all of the action. This year I was able to watch it transpire. It was fun to see so many friends and random people filling grocery bags full of desserts. Awesome job!! I’m still waiting for the final amount raised for Share Our Strength‘s No Kid Hunger campaign.  However, the sale isn’t officially over.  You can still make a donation on-line.  If we raise the most money, Duncan Hines will donate an additional $10,000 to our total!  Atlanta has been winning this bake sale every year, and we, the San Diego Food Bloggers, would love to put an end to that streak!  If you can, please go to http://join.strength.org/goto/SDFBBakeSale2013 and make a donation. Thank you so much for all of your help!!!

This year I opted to make Chocolate-Banana Whoopie Pies. Choosing what to make is a daunting challenge. I wanted to make something that would appeal to the most people, and something that can be consumed on the spot or in a couple of hours. Chocolate is always a big hit, and once I saw a preliminary menu of what other bakers were planning to bring, I made the decision to make Whoopie Pies. Sadly, I’d never made them before. I looked over various recipes, and decided upon one from Good Housekeeping, February 2012.

Whoopie Pie 2013

Here’s the recipe (any changes are noted with **):

Chocolate-Banana Whoopie Pies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 6 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

(** The recipe states to fill the sandwiches with marshmallow crème.  You could do that, but that didn’t sound exciting to me.  I found a recipe that I liked better which is below.  Also, I made another batch of these that I didn’t sell.  I added cinnamon to the batter, and I wish I had done that to the bake sale batches.  I love cinnamon!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  From bananas, mash enough for 1/2 cup; finely chop remaining, and reserve.  (**I mashed 1 banana, and I chopped 1 to add to the filling.)  In another medium bowl, mix mashed banana, sour cream, and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until well combined.  Beat in egg until well blended, scraping bowl occasionally.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until batter is smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. (**Don’t over mix! That’s probably the biggest mistake when baking.)
  4. Drop 1 rounded measuring teaspoon batter onto prepared sheets. Repeat with remaining batter, spacing 2 inches apart.  With wet fingertips, flatten tops of balls to form rounds. (**I tried making rounds with a 1/4 measuring cup, and I baked for about 10 minutes.  I got about 7.5 cookies (sandwiches) out of it.  They were really large, especially when you consider it is 2 cookies and filling.  It made my belly kind of hurt after eating one.  The next batch I used a tablespoon of batter, and I cooked them for about 8 minutes.  I was able to get 15 sandwiches out of the batter.  It was a much more reasonable size, and it is that size I sold at the bake sale.)

Banana Crème Filling

  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening (**I used Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening Non-hydrogenated.)
  • 1.5 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow crème
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 chopped banana
  1. Whip first 4 ingredients together.  Fold chopped banana into filling. Fill sandwiches with as little or as much as you like, or just eat by the spoonful.  It’s all good.  I preferred the pies after they had been refrigerated.  In general, I would suggest to keep the pies refrigerated.

Whoopie Pie 2013(2)

On another note, it was my brother’s birthday on Monday.  Brian turned 50 on Monday.  A HUGE “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!’ goes out to him.  Even though a few miles are between us, I’m thinking of you!!  I hope this is a great year for you, Brian.  The photo below is from my dad’s 80th birthday last year.  I picked the photo below for 2 reasons: 1) Brian was looking quite dapper and 2) for all of the special people present in the photo.  The best birthday wish is to be surrounded by people you love.

Family

Take Care and Happy Eating (and Please Consider Making a Donation)!

Who Doesn’t Love a Bake Sale?

What are you doing this Saturday? Do you want to enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather forecasted for this weekend? Would you love to enjoy that weather with a delicious homemade dessert in hand? And wouldn’t you love it if you knew all of the proceeds went to an amazing cause like helping hungry children? I can make all of your dreams come true! And if you can’t make it, or if you live out-of-town, there’s still a way you can get involve and help out a worthy cause.  Keep reading!

Food Blogger Bake Sale 2013

I participated in the San Diego Food Blogger Bake Sale last year for the first time.  It was a truly professional bake sale organized by an amazing blogger (and person – yep, she’s real), Marie of Meandering Eats (http://www.meanderingeats.com/).  Once again, Marie has organized another awesome event.  However, she will be off to Medical School soon, so wish her good luck when you see her Saturday!  If you haven’t gone in the past, let me explain that you are getting yourself into a situation.  The desserts look great, the labeling and packaging are so cute, and there are samples just to make sure it tastes as good as it looks (and it does!).  The problem will be that you will want to buy a lot of stuff, maybe even buy some things to eat before you leave the parking lot, and maybe you’ll buy some things to take into the office to share with those silly people who missed it!  It’s alright because the money goes to Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry (http://www.nokidhungry.org/).  This is a national bake sale, as well, so help us beat other cities!  Take that, Pittsburgh!  Just kidding. Or am I???

The bake sale takes place this Saturday, May 4th, at Great News! Cookware and Cooking School in Pacific Beach (http://www.great-news.com/) from 10am-2pm.  The people at Great News! have been awesome supporters of this bake sale, so a huge “THANK YOU, GREAT NEWS!” goes out to them .  If you haven’t had the opportunity to investigate the store before, this will be a great time to do so!  Make sure to sign up for their newsletter so you can get additional discounts every so often!  And there is a Starbucks super close, so go ahead and make a day of it!  Finish it off by driving down to the beach with the family afterwards.  Seriously, can a Saturday get any better?

If you can’t make it, there are other opportunities to get involved.  Simply go to: http://sdbloggersbake.wordpress.com/  There you can enter raffles, donate money, see a tentative menu, and read more about some of the individual bakers who will be offering their goods.

This is such a fun event!  Please pass this information around to friends, family and co-workers.  In 2011, $1750 was raised, in 2012 we raised $3151, and we are hoping to surpass our goal of $3000 this year.  I’m not suggesting we are a competitive bunch of bloggers, but come on!  We want to raise the most money for this organization out of the entire country!  Again, no competitive bone in our bodies.

Take Care and Happy Eating!