She’s an Easy Lover! Slow-Cooker Recipe For All!

This has been an odd weather week in San Diego. And, yes, “odd weather week” is a very rare description for this part of the country. I still find it amusing when the weather forecasters tell us to buckle up for a major warm up. Usually that means we will go from 70 degrees to 73. What is truly pathetic is that I feel it, and I get annoyed with the “heat spell.” So whether you are in San Diego braving 73 degrees and some humidity blowing in from Cabo or you are in Cleveland, Ohio feeling a true summer warm up, you may want to avoid standing over or near your oven or stove. That is when the most easily loved appliance comes into play. I always thought of slow cooker meals being more for the winter season, but I’m loving it on these hot warmer days. Another huge benefit, the ability to walk away! So even if you are home, no need to tend to the pot! This truly is an easy lover. I’m pretty sure Phil was referring to a slow cooker.

I have two recipes that I really loved making (and eating) this week. The first might not sound so “Summery” especially due to the pumpkin addition, but I love Fall, and I already miss it. Yes, we get Fall in San Diego. It goes from 70 to 68. Leaves fall to the ground! Stop judging me! The first recipe caught my eye in the San Diego Union Tribune which was adapted from Michele Corbett’s site, http://www.cookingonthefrontburners.com. I made a few changes, but if you would like to see the original recipe, please check out Michele’s website. The second recipe is from Martha Stewart’s site, but I’ve made a couple of changes to the original recipe. For the original recipe, check out: http://www.marthastewart.com/341733/slow-cooker-greek-stuffed-peppers.

Meaty (or Not) Pumpkin Chili

16 oz ground sirloin (or ground turkey, or ground chicken, or tempeh, or tofu – You get the idea.)

1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil, if needed

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 chopped yellow, red, or orange pepper

3 cloves minced garlic

2 cups crushed tomatoes

4 ounces can diced green chilies

1 cup pumpkin pie filling (not puree)

1 cup chicken broth

2 Tablespoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

Toppings – sour cream or Greek yogurt

  1. Brown the ground sirloin in a Dutch oven (or similar pot). Drain most of the fat. Add the onion, celery, pepper and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. You can add a bit of grapeseed oil if the ingredients start to stick to the bottom of the pot. *If you opt to go the vegetarian route, simply add the tempeh or tofu after the vegetables have sautéed, and continue sautéing until heated throughout.
  2. Add tomatoes and chilies and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add pumpkin, broth, seasonings, and beans. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with sour cream or yogurt.
Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers

Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers

Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers

5 large bell peppers

1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)

1/2 cup quinoa (*You can really use any type of grain. Just don’t pre-cook the grain. Add it to the mix uncooked.)

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 garlic clove, minced

1-2 teaspoon dried oregano

Spoonful of Sambal Oelek (*This really is to taste. I like food with a kick, so I put in a good amount. You can skip it all together if you prefer your meals on the mild side.)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (*Make sure to go easy on the salt since feta is salty.)

Chicken stock or water, about 1/2 cup (*This is added to the bottom of the slow cooker to ensure the peppers do not stick. You just need enough liquid to coat the bottom, then the peppers are placed in the liquid upright.)

Lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Slice a very thin layer from the base of each bell pepper so they sit flat. Slice off tops just below stem. Discard stems; chop tops, and place in a medium bowl. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers.
  2. Add beans, feta, quinoa, scallions, garlic, oregano, and sambal oelek to bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Stuff peppers with bean mixture; place upright in slow cooker. I opted to add a 1/2 a cup of chicken stock to the bottom of the slow cooker just to ensure the peppers wouldn’t stick. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours.
  3. Serve with lemon wedges.

On another note, I purchased Organic Edamame Spaghetti at Costco last week. The only ingredients are water and edamame. I had to give it a try. The box has two recipes listed, both of which are very high in fat content. I opted to simply cook the spaghetti and serve it with a mushroom tomato sauce topped with Parmesan. I’m glad I tried it, but I will not buy it again. The flavor was not remarkable, but what really got me was the texture. It was spongy. I am left with a lot of the stuff, so I will use it, but I will stick to eating edamame the old-fashioned way – from the pod!

Edamame pasta

I hope everyone has a great week, and you can rest assured I will be fixated on the Cleveland Cavaliers capturing the NBA Finals trophy! Go Cavs! #allin

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Advertisements

Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away!

Well, the breaking news story in San Diego is the rain, and with good reason! We need it. And when it comes, it brings some problems like flooding and car accidents. Ah, the drawbacks of living here. I’m taking a cue from my French Bulldog, Monsieur, and I decided to stay in and write. Actually, if I was taking his cue I would sleep all day on the sofa. He is living the dream. Also, he partied pretty hard last night at Thorn Street Brewery (http://thornstreetbrew.com/). He, like his parents, is a Cleveland Cavalier fan.

Cavs Sir

This week I noticed a delicious sounding recipe in the UT San Diego Food Section (May 13) that I will make, mostly likely on Sunday. I think Marrakesh Carrots from Joy the Baker would be a perfect side dish! http://joythebaker.com/2015/05/marrakesh-carrots/ If you haven’t stopped by her blog, you should.

Spelt and Lamb Meatballs 4 to 6 servings

4 scallions

1/4 cup parsley

1/4 cup dill sprigs, more for garnish

2 fat or 3 smaller garlic cloves, grated

2 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, or to taste

1 red chili or jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

3 cups cooked spelt or other whole grain berries

1/2 pound lamb

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for frying (*I would use another kind of oil for frying – one that can take high heat like grapeseed oil or regular olive oil, for example.)

Lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Slice scallions, keeping the light green and white parts separate from the dark green. Put scallion whites and light green slices into a food processor along with parsley, dill, garlic, salt, chili, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, and paprika; process until everything is well minced. Add the spelt and process until the spelt breaks down into a rough, chunky paste.
  2. Transfer spelt mixture into a bowl and add lamb and olive oil. Knead mixture with your hands until well mixed. It should hold together nicely. Form into 1 1/4-inch balls and either cook immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to one day.
  3. When ready to cook, heat a skillet, then add just enough oil to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add just enough meatballs to fit one layer with space between each piece; they should not touch, or they won’t brown as nicely. Fry meatballs until well browned on all sides, then remove to a plate. Add more oil to the pan and fry another batch or two, as needed. (Alternatively, to broil meatballs, lay them out in a single layer, not touching, on a rimmed baking sheet or two. Drizzle with oil and broil until browned, about 4 to 10 minutes, checking often and shaking the pan occasionally to help them brown all over. *This is how I plan on making mine.)
  4. Serve with lemon wedges and the reserved scallion greens and dill sprigs.

On another note, it’s my Mom’s birthday today! It is always a major bummer, to say the least, being so far from family. Some time ago, she took a bunch of old school slides and had them burned onto a disk so we could look through them. There are some amazing images. There are photos of the family, before I was even a thought in my parents’ minds, sitting around a television watching The Beatles’ first televised appearance and my mom meeting Lucille Ball outside of her house in Beverly Hills. Just for the outfits alone, these photos are priceless! So in your honor, Mom, here’s one of my favorites. Seriously, you should have been in an Alfred Hitchcock movie!

Mom on a BoatTake Care and Happy Eating! And Happy Birthday, Mom!

Are You A Food-Centered Family?

We are well into 2015, and I finally got a chance to mentally take in the gifts I received over Christmas. So much is going on in my family, and in everyone’s family, over the month of December: traveling from one coast to another, traveling from one house to another, eating at, possibly, every new spot in Cleveland, Ohio, buying and giving gifts, sending and getting Holiday cards, carting Monsieur all over the country (kind of), dealing with a stolen wallet (fortunately that doesn’t happen every December), and the million other things that make up the busiest time of the year. It seems that with so many things going on, it’s easy to miss out on the things going on around us.

One of the gifts I received was Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2013 from my mother-in-law. I love these annual cookbooks. I get to pull out the old magazines I’ve been saving and transfer any notes of mine from the magazines to the cookbook, and then send the magazines off to a good home. It makes me feel so organized.

The note from the editor, Scott Mowbray, caught my eye from the October 2012 publication. “Sign of a food-centered family: During one meal, they talk about what the next meal will be.”  Hmmm.  This idea was brought up while he was interviewing Chef Ming Tsai.  Chef Ming explains how important food was to his family, and his Dad would always take photos of the food they shared.  Ahead of his time, right?  Mowbray notes that we, hopefully, eat about 82,000 meal throughout our lives, and we should remember them.  I would add to that point that we should respect them as well because meals are more than a plate of food in front of us.  Think about a family meal – it indicates we are healthy enough to enjoy a meal, we have money in order to purchase what is in front of us, and we have loved ones surrounding us.  Now being food-centered can turn a little crazy quickly, and we’ve all been there, too.  For example, I’m sitting with my family at a restaurant for lunch and we start talking about what we will eat for dinner, or I’m out to dinner with friends and I start discussing lunch options for the following day with my husband.  There is a fine line between enjoying a moment and taking it in and rushing through a moment in order to get to the next moment.  I hope I take the time with each eating event, and I will be more mindful that I do so in the future.  But this does not mean I will stop thinking or discussing the next meal!  Again, it’s that fine balance between appreciating and anticipating.  I think it can be done in a healthy way.

But this editorial note got me thinking: Is everyone like me, Chef Ming, and the Cooking Light editor?  Does everyone think about the next meal while they are still seated at a table?  Is this common?  Of course I love cooking and eating, so every meal is usually an adventure for me.  Why wouldn’t I look forward to the next one?  And if you are reading this, you probably feel the same way about food.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

And in the spirit of thinking about the next meal, I’m listing the meals I made, and will make, this week for dinner.  I’ve added the links so that you can easily access the recipe if you so desire.

Nutty Vegetable Sauté (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/recipes/nutty-vegetable-saute/)  This was made over the weekend, but the leftovers have carried into this week’s lunch and dinner menus.  I love when that happens!

Spicy Lentil-Walnut Burgers (http://www.marthastewart.com/318248/spicy-lentil-walnut-burgers) served with Roasted Carrots.  I was attempting to make a healthy “Burgers and Fries” meal for the viewing of The Ohio State v. Oregon football game.  I served it with Chunky Olive Hummus from Trader Joe’s (YUM!) and Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Flat Bread.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars (http://www.marthastewart.com/1065205/peanut-butter-and-jelly-bars) These were made as a half-time treat during the football game.  This was followed by one Stone Enjoy By IPA (http://enjoyby.stonebrewing.com/) to celebrate the victorious OSU!

 

O-H . . .

O-H . . .

Wild Mushroom Farro Risotto (Farrotto) (http://www.moreuncorked.com/!S0wXzFfbyV6LkYgba2nHpA!/Wild-Mushroom-Farro-Risotto-Farrotto) I omit the butter from this recipe and add more olive oil.  I may add more than 2 ounces of goat cheese.  Two ounces? HA!

Salad There is no recipe for this one.  I usually make a salad most nights of the week.  Occasionally the salad is the main course with a bunch of stuff in it, or I will make a simple one, like an arugula and red pepper salad.  I grew up eating a salad with dinner most nights of the week, so I like the tradition – and it’s tasty!

Falafel-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce and Tomato Relish (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/falafel-stuffed-eggplant)

Again, let me know your thoughts regarding the “Food-Centered Family”!  I’d love to hear from you!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

 

Melissa’s Produce San Diego Food Bloggers Challenge!

Recently, I received an email from Barbara from Barbara Cooks (http://www.barbaracooks.com/) asking if the bloggers of San Diego might be interested in receiving a box of items from Melissa’s Produce (http://www.melissas.com/).  The “Challenge” was to take what was delivered to you and create a delicious recipe.  First, I love getting things shipped to me.  I feel like it’s Christmas!  Second, no surprise, I love food.  Third, I love playing around with food to create something new.  Fourth, I love knowing that a bunch of people out there have the same ingredients and will come up with very different recipes.

I’ve heard of Melissa’s Produce, but I didn’t know much about the company, which the owners, Joe and Sharon Hernandez, named after their daughter.  It’s basically an online grocery store for very unique items.  There’s everything from organic fruit baskets to organic blue agave syrup to Pinot Noir and Chestnut basket.  Can’t find Armenian cucumbers at your grocery store or Farmers’ Market?  Just go to Melissa’s Produce.  There are a ton of recipes online created by their five Corporate Chefs.  Say you bought quinoa at your grocery store and you don’t know how to cook it, or maybe you’ve cooked it a million times and you need a fresh idea for dinner.  Just type in “quinoa” on the website’s recipe search engine, and several recipes are at your fingertips.  Maybe Muscato Cashew Quinoa will strike your fancy.  My only question, are you hiring, Melissa’s Produce???

I must admit that this service is pricey.  Here’s what I received: Fava Beans (shelled, steamed, and ready to eat, 8.8 ounces), Baby Beets (peeled, steamed, and ready to eat, 8 ounces), Brussel Sprouts (10 ounces), Leeks (cleaned and sliced, 6 ounces), Red Quinoa (6 ounces), Dried Chanterelle (.5 ounces), Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes (1.5 pounds), and Ojai Pixie Tangerines (1 pound).  I received smaller quantities than if I were to have ordered the items myself.  I estimate the total amount for the portions I received to be around $40.  For certain items, overnight shipping is required, so you can add almost $20 for the FedEx delivery.  Everything I received was in perfect condition and tasted great.

Melissa Leeks

Melissa Brussel

Melissa Chanterelle

Melissaquinoa

Roasting Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes

Roasting Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes

My mom was visiting from Cleveland, Ohio when the shipment arrived.  She was excited to see what was in the box and what I’d make with it.  A few days after I received the box, I just started sautéing things.  My Mom asked what my plan was, and I honestly wasn’t certain.  It just kind of came together.  We were talking, and I’d roast Brussels Spouts.  We’d talk more, and I chopped Fava Beans.  We’d talk some more, and I sautéed leeks and cook quinoa.  Next thing I knew, I created  Quinoa Stuffed Chicken with a Spicy Soy Orange Glaze and, as I call it, Mish Mosh Potato Salad.

My finished product! This was one tasty potato salad!

My finished product! This was one tasty potato salad!

For the potato salad, I halved the Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes and put them, sliced side down, onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  I covered the sheet with foil and put them into the oven at around 400 degrees.  Once the potatoes were soft, I removed the foil, flipped those bad Dutch Babies over and continued cooking them in the oven until they were nicely browned.  I roasted the Brussel Sprouts in the oven at around 400 degrees, as well, until they were browned and softened slightly.  Once I removed them from the oven, I did a rough chop on those lovely mini cabbages.  I placed the potatoes and Brussel Sprouts in a large bowl and added the Red Beets which I roughly chopped, as well.  I took walnut oil and balsamic vinegar, whisked it until it emulsified, and added it to the potato salad.  I usually do a ratio of one part vinegar to two parts oil, but I must admit I don’t really measure.  I added a little salt and pepper, too, and that was it!

The final product for the main course!

The final product for the main course!

Like I mentioned earlier, this was a “do whatever I felt like” kind of cooking day.  I love sautéing leeks and garlic, so that’s where I started.  First, I sautéed the leeks in olive oil over medium to medium high heat until the softened and were golden, probably around 6 minutes.  I added a few garlic cloves I had chopped and continued cooking for about a minute.  I added about 2 ounces of white wine (mainly because I felt like a glass of wine while I was cooking), and I raised the heat and cooked for a few minutes.  Right about then, the house smelled amazing.  I had cooked the quinoa in chicken stock earlier, so I added the leek mixture to the quinoa.  Earlier, I had also reconstituted the Chanterelles. I simply boil water, add the mushrooms, turn off the heat, leave the lid on, and let them sit for 30 minutes or until they have softened.  I rinse the mushrooms very well after.  I chopped the Chanterelles and the Fava Beans, and I added them to the quinoa mixture.  I added some ground pepper and salt, to taste.  The amount of quinoa filling was enough for 8-10 chicken breasts.  I didn’t realize just how much it would make, but I love leftovers!

I pounded the chicken and put as much filling as I could in each breast, approximately 1/2 a cup of filling for each.  I folded the chicken breast so that the filling remained inside, and I tied the chicken with kitchen twine.  I put the stuffed chicken into a baking dish coated with olive oil, covered, into the oven (around 375 degrees) for about an hour, or until it reached 165 degrees internally.

While the chicken cooked, I threw together a few items I had on hand for a sauce.  In a bowl, I whisked together orange juice (about 1/2 cup), soy sauce (about 4 tablespoons), agave (4 Tablespoons), white vinegar (2 healthy Tablespoons), and a couple of Tablespoons of chile paste.  If you like it really spicy or not very, this amount can be catered to your taste.  After whisking to combine, I placed the mixture into a pan and brought it to a boil while continuing to whisk.  Once it reached a boil, I reduced the temperature and I let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  It will reduce slightly and thicken.  I added the chicken breasts to the pan and continued cooking at a medium heat while basting the chicken with the sauce.  At this point, the chicken is cooked, I just wanted to really infuse the chicken with the flavors of the sauce.  I got the idea of doing an orange juice based sauce because of the tangerines in the shipment.  I decided to simply eat the tangerines as a dessert.  It was a perfect meal, if I do say so myself!

I can’t wait to read what other local bloggers created!  What a fun idea!  A huge “Thank You” goes out to Barbara and Melissa’s Produce!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Here is the link to see all of the Bloggers who participated: An InLinkz Link-up

It’s Summertime and the Living is . . . Sweaty!

As I am typing, I am sweating. Welcome, Summer! I’m only 9 days into the Season and I’ve had a blast so far. Franz and I celebrated our 10 year Wedding Anniversary at The Grand Del Mar and had an amazing 10 course dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Addison. I can’t wait to share what went on behind those doors, but I will have to post that in July. Why? I’m heading out to Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio to see family, and I just ran out of time this week to finish writing. Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@megangillkopp) because I can guarantee it will be a food extravaganza, some Bourbon tour debauchery in Kentucky, and a reenactment of Oktoberfest in Cincinnati.

In no particular order, here are the highlights of my Summer so far . .  .

Our Neighborhood Footbridge is Getting a Much Needed Facelift!

Our Neighborhood Footbridge is Getting a Much Needed Facelift!

Franz Bringing Me Flowers on Our Anniversary. He Included My Favorite Flower, Bells of Ireland Which I had in My Wedding Bouquet!  Thanks, Franz!

Franz Bringing Me Flowers on Our Anniversary. He Included My Favorite Flower, Bells of Ireland Which I had in My Wedding Bouquet! Thanks, Franz!

I finally tried a cronut!  If you haven’t heard of a cronut before, it is a cross between a donut and a croissant. I would imagine these could be really screwed up, so go to an amazing baker for one. The one I had at VG was delicious.Trying a Cronut For The First Time at VG Donut and Bakery in Cardiff By The Sea.

V G Donuts & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Meeting Chef William Bradley After Our Meal at Addison.

Meeting Chef William Bradley After Our Dinner at Addison.

Addison at the Grand Del Mar on Urbanspoon
Let me know what awesome stuff you’ve done so far! I would love to read about it!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

3 Men and a Baby?? Whatever!! Try 1 Lady,1 Review and 1 Recipe!

This is how my mind works (Stick with me. It does go somewhere!) : I knew I wanted to review a particular restaurant. I checked my email first thing and saw that Adam Ant is coming to San Diego’s Balboa Theatre on July 17th. I started thinking about how I LOVED Adam Ant. I proclaimed to my mother while she was driving way back around 1982 that I will love Adam Ant forever. My sister, Beth, was a high school photographer and was lucky enough to go to his concert in Cleveland, Ohio, and she took photos of him backstage. Beth was already a god to me; this just solidified it. It must have been around 1983 when I had a gym routine requirement with Miss MacDonald. God, I did not like that lady. Sorry, but it is true. Miss McDonald, if you are reading this, you were probably a nice person, I just never got a chance to see that side. Well, I picked the song “Antmusic” by Adam Ant, of course! Like, totally! This was back when there were no Ipods, not even a CD! The horror! I asked my sister to borrow her record, Kings of the Wild Frontier. Beth knew that I, being the little sister, had a horrible track record when I borrowed her stuff. Any articles of clothing were bound to get at least one stain on it, so she was wise to tell me I couldn’t bring the record to school for my gymnastic routine. The problem was that I had choreographed (I use that word loosely) and practiced my routine to that song. I couldn’t change it. What could I do? I had to put a cassette recorder next to the record player and record the song. When I played the cassette tape at the St. Christopher gym, you couldn’t hear it at all. Huge failure. And my routine? Let’s just say I was not Olympic bound.

Check out this classic 1980s video.  Aahhh, good memories! Is he wearing lip gloss?


Thinking about Adam Ant made me think about the 80s and all of the stuff I loved back then. For some reason the movie Three Men and a Baby (1987) came to mind. I started thinking about how if three grown men couldn’t take care of baby, that would be really sad. That led me to think that I shouldn’t just write a review today, I should include a recipe. If it took three men to take care of a baby for a month (or however long they had the kid), I could write a review and a recipe in one post. Yep, all of this from seeing an ad for Adam Ant’s concert.

Project Pie 2
My husband and I checked out Project Pie in Hillcrest this past Sunday. Unfortunately, most of our families are in Cleveland, Ohio, so we were on our own for Mother’s Day. We walked in, and we immediately greeted by the pizza makers. There is a list of pies and a description of each when you enter. It’s kind of cafeteria style. You pick a pie, tell the first person which number you want, move down a bit, tell the next person which additional, and free of charge, toppings you would like. They get your name and the pizza details, and the next person writes it on parchment, and the pie is placed into a big pizza oven. I ordered the #2: Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Crumbled Meatballs, Mozzarella and their Signature Red Sauce. I added Ricotta and Artichoke Hearts, but I wasn’t paying attention and the guy didn’t hear me, so I didn’t get the artichokes I requested. Next time I will speak up and watch which topping are on it before it goes into the oven! Franz went with another option and got a ton of extra toppings. Both pizzas were great. What I love about this place is that everyone gets their own pie. No arguments because one person in the group always wants pineapple on the pizza. You know who you are! Also, they offer a gluten-free crust, and I heard from a friend that it was super tasty. The red sauce was really fresh, and the toppings were flavorful.  The crust was perfect as well.  Great taste and I loved that it wasn’t too thin but not too thick either.  My only tiny complaint was that the center of the pie could have been hotter. It was fine, but I like it a little on the well done side. Oh, I almost forgot, you can order a Nutella and Banana pie. Don’t think I haven’t stopped thinking about that bad boy since Sunday! Currently there are only 2 locations: San Diego and Las Vegas (at The MGM), but Project Pies will be opening soon in Atlanta, NYC, Boulder, D.C., and the Philippines.

Pizza Pies are Being Made to Order!

Pizza Pies are Being Made to Order!

Franz's Choice: #6 With A Bunch of Tasty and Free Toppings!

Franz’s Choice: #6 With A Bunch of Tasty and Free Toppings!

My Creation - And I Requested Extra Sauce on Top. YUM!

My Creation – And I Requested Extra Sauce on Top. YUM!

I promised a recipe, too! This is the kind of recipe that would work after a pizza dinner because it is sweet and light in texture.

The recipe, Angel’s Kiss Baci Cupcakes, from Baci was created by Lidia Bastianich. Who doesn’t love Baci??  If you never had one, finish reading this post, and immediately get your booty to a grocery store and buy some.  They seem to be carried everywhere nowadays.  Thank god!

With the first batch, the batter never got stiff and glossy.  I baked them anyway, and they turned out perfect.  With the second batch, the batter was as it should have been – stiff and glossy.  However, the cupcakes baked horribly.  The tops were uneven and shrunken.  The next time I make these, I will stop before the batter gets stiff and glossy.

Angel’s Kiss Baci Cupcakes

Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 Baci, finely chopped

Glaze

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate bars, finely chopped (I went with the recipe recommendation and used Perugina Dark Chocolate Classic Bars)
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur (optional)
  • 4 Baci, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to form soft peaks.  With the mixer at medium speed, gradually add the sugar.  Beat at high-speed to stiff, glossy peaks. (**As I noted above, when I achieved the stiff, glossy peaks, the cupcakes did not seem to turn out for me.  You can try either way, but I will stick with keeping the batter at the soft peak stage.  Let me know if you make this recipe, or have made this in the past, and tell me what you did and how it turned out.  Thanks!!) Lower the speed and mix in the vanilla.  Fold in the flour mixture in 3 additions, taking care to deflate the batter as little as possible.  Quickly fold in the chopped Baci.  Divide the batter among the cupcake pan and smooth the tops.
  4. Bake until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean, about 15 minutes. (**I never wait for the toothpick to come out clean. The cupcake  will continue cooking for a brief period after it is removed from the oven, so I always remove cupcakes when some crumbs are still attached to the toothpick. If you do this, check the cupcakes after 10 to 12 minutes.) Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the tin to cool completely
  5. While the cupcakes cool, prepare the glaze.  Put the chopped chocolate in to a small bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer and pour over chocolate, shaking the bowl to submerge the chocolate.  Let sit 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.  Stir in hazelnut liqueur, if using.
  6. Spoon the glaze on the cupcakes and smooth to the edges.  Sprinkle with the chopped Baci.  Refrigerate until the glaze is set.  Serves 12

So take that Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson! Try doing that!

Take Tubular Care, Totally Happy Eating, and Don’t Gag Me With A Spoon!

Project Pie on Urbanspoon

I’m Alive!

I’ve been absent since last year, so I wanted everyone to know I’m alive and well.  O.K., that sounded really dramatic.  I feel like so much time has passed since I last posted!  I just returned from Cleveland, Ohio.  It was great seeing family and friends and eating all of the great food Cleveland has to offer.  I have so much to discuss and some great photos to share.  I need to get my thoughts collected, and I promise to post some fun stuff next week.

Since it is Friday, I would like to try to maintain the recently created tradition for this blog and share my favorite thing during the past week.  This was a tough one because I experienced a ton of awesome food and experiences.  The clear winner, however, was the Cleveland Museum of Art.  If you live in Cleveland and haven’t gone, shame on you!  And I don’t think I’m being too harsh!  Is it the entrance cost holding you back?? (It’s free.)  Is it the lack of amazing art work?? (It’s one of the best in the world.) Maybe you think you might get hungry and there wouldn’t be a good option for lunch or dinner nearby? (The museum has a brand new restaurant, Provenance, that has an amazing view of outside – and a full bar to boot.  My mom and I saw a yummy looking Sunday brunch being served.  What better way to spend a Sunday?? There’s a cafe, as well, where you can take food out into the gorgeous new atrium and admire the stunning marble facade of the original building. Oh, and Little Italy is a stone throw away.)

Check out this video:

I have my B.A. and M.A. in Art History, but you don’t need any special degree to really enjoy this gem.  Oh, you don’t live in Cleveland?  So you don’t travel outside of your city?  You don’t take vacations?  You might consider Vegas, Miami, or Seattle for a trip, right?  I propose you consider Cleveland.  I guarantee you will have an amazing vacation (maybe avoid the Winter months).  I must disclose that I grew up in Cleveland, but I can honestly say that I’m not writing this with any bias. I’m not writing this to make my mom happy, either.  And I’m not getting paid to endorse this city.  That would be awesome though!

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the CMA’s collection:

Mourner from the Tomb of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy

The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew

Stag at Sharkey’s

The Red Light

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Best Thing About Cold Weather??

You know the answer!  Food!

I hope everyone is doing well.  Word on the street is that at least one suburb of Cleveland, Ohio saw some snow the other day!  Yikes!  I guess it makes sense.  Stores are already playing Holiday music, as of today I’ve heard the term “Black Friday” about 500 times, and this is the second day in a row of turning on the heat in our house for a few hours in the early morning.  It gets cold in San Diego!

Let’s not think of the down side of Winter – at least not yet.  Let’s think about the food!  I love all of the squashes available, and I love making soup for dinner and serving it with delicious bread.  The other night, I combined my two loves (other than my husband and Monsieur) of dark greens and squash for a delicious side dish to accompany our halibut.

I found this recipe on Tasting Table, one of my favorite online sites.  It’s an adaptation of a recipe by Chef Nathan Foot while he was working at Northern Spy Co. (He’s now the chef at Calyer in Brooklyn – in case you enjoy stalking chefs.)

I made a couple minor changes which are noted throughout the recipe with “**” indicating that change.  Basically, you can do anything with this recipe.  If you are vegan, on a diet, or prefer meat in every dish you eat, you can adjust this recipe accordingly.  If you do, let me know how you make it your own!

Northern Spy Food Co. Kale Salad

2 1/2 cups chopped or shredded kale (preferably Tuscan or black kale) (**I used 1 bunch of Tuscan kale, finely chopped.)

1/4 cup toasted almonds (**I toasted a good handful of slivered almonds I had on hand.)

1/4 crumbled Cabot clothbound cheddar (**I had a coupon for Cracker Barrel Cheddar. I read that the company had won a cheese competition for its Aged Reserve cheddar.  I wanted to give it a try.  My local grocery store didn’t carry the exact winner, so I tried the sharp cheddar.  Not bad!  It had a nice creamy texture, and had a decent sharp cheddar taste.  I bought a “log” and cut a small chunk.  I crumbled the cheese by hand.  I didn’t use too much just so it would remain a healthy side dish.  However, the cheese does add a nice touch.)

1/2 cup cubed roasted kabocha or butternut squash (**Since I love squash, I used an entire butternut for this recipe. I think it was about 2 pounds or so.  I simply tossed the cubes in olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper, and roasted it in the oven for about 45 minutes.  The time was solely due to the time I was on a treadmill.  I like my squash slightly caramelized, but you may not.  Keep an eye on it and pull it out when it’s to your liking.)

Fresh lemon juice (**I didn’t like the idea of lemon juice in this dish.  I wanted something more savory and “Fall-like”.  I opted for a really great balsamic vinegar.  The recipe notes approximately 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice. Whichever you choose, carefully add either lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to taste.  You can always add more, so be careful!

Extra-virgin olive oil (**Since I roasted my squash in olive oil, I didn’t feel the need to add any extra.  But give the salad a taste.  Maybe you prefer a little more?)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pecornio or other hard cheese, for shaving (optional) (**Again, I was trying to keep this on the healthier side, so I opted not to add another cheese.  However, I bet it would be awesome!  Maybe I’ll keep it in mind for a dinner party.)

1) In a large mixing bowl, toss the kale with almonds, cheddar and squash.  Season to taste with lemon juice (**or balsamic vinegar) and olive oil (**if necessary).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2) Divide salad between two plates.  Garnish shaved pecorino cheese, if desired, and serve.

What’s’ your favorite Fall or Winter food?  I’d love to hear some thoughts!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Got Thanks?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve been in a rut.  I’ll admit it.  I’ve been complaining about the heat, that I have too much coming up in the next few months (only to be followed by the busy Holiday months), that my beloved dog has figured out how to maneuver under the front yard fence, that my allergies won’t lighten up, and that I just don’t feel like writing!  And with the extended heat wave we’ve been having, I haven’t been in the cooking mood either.  And when I go for a run, it’s a weak attempt at best.  What else am I forgetting?

In June I wrote a little bit about being thankful.  I think I need to revisit that state of mind!  I got an email from Panera Bread about a contest entitled “What We’re Thankful For” (http://www.facebook.com/panerabread?v=app_272143752885090).  Perfect timing!

Panera on Urbanspoon

So here are a handful of things for which I’m thankful:

1) Pomegranate Margaritas with my sister-in-law, Elisabeth, at Ortega’s in Hillcrest (http://www.ortegasbistro.com/).  I love that I have a sis-in-law that wants to try new food and new restaurants.  Before she left Cleveland, she did some research and read about this place.  It’s in my neighborhood, but I had never been inside.   I wasn’t super crazy about their carnitas, but I will return to sit outside, have a Pomegranate Margarita and some of their tasty chips and salsa.  I snagged a taste of Liz’s Chicken Verde Enchiladas, something I don’t usually order, and it was really tasty.  I think the star of this restaurant is the salsa!  Ohhh, I almost forgot!  They have killer flour tortillas.  I wanted to wrap myself in one – a nice, warm, soft, tortilla blanket!

Ortega's Mexican Bistro on Urbanspoon

2) Going Downtown and checking out the Sand Castle Competition with my mother-in-law, Elisabeth and my husband.  My father-in-law couldn’t understand why we wanted to do this, so he opted to sit on a bench under some trees where he met some very interesting people.  I’ll pass on telling that story!  It only took us about an hour or so to walk through the event, but it was so nice to be near the water and out in such nice weather!

3) Taking another tour at Suzie’s Farm!  Our tour guide this time was Eric, aka “Chicken Man”.  Eric is in charge of the animals on the farm.  Currently, they only have chickens, but that may change soon.  I can’t wait for them to get goats!!!  He told us about the 30 different breeds of chickens they have – some are on the endangered list.  The birds are used for 2 reasons: eggs and to help cultivate the ground.  Being out on the farm is always so relaxing, and I walked away with lots of veggie loot!

4) Getting a sprinkler system installed!!!  Woohoo!  You have no idea how excited I am!!  It deserves a second “Woo-hoo”!!

5) That my in-laws, visiting from Cleveland, Ohio, took a brief trip to Vegas so I have time to clean, recuperate and be able to write something for this blog. The day before they left for Vegas, we had a plumbing issue.  Never a good thing.  A big THANKS goes out to South Bay Rooter!  Thanks, Dave.  Not only did he quickly assess and correct the problem, the bill was very fair.  Greatly appreciated!!

6) That we can celebrate Franz’s parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary.  The official date was back in June, so Franz and I decided that we would have to celebrate with them once they got out here.  Later this week, the whole gang will head over to Kaiserhof Restaurant & Biergarten (http://www.kaiserhofrestaurant.com/) to celebrate in the appropriate German style: large pretzels, steins of Paulaner or Hacker Pshorr (which my Dad-in-Law just corrected me the other day because I wasn’t pronouncing the “P” in Pshorr.  Keeping me on track!!), and bratwurst.

7) That I don’t live too close to the best donut shop, but close enough to go every so often!  http://vgbakery.com/

V G Donuts & Bakery on Urbanspoon

8) For my littlest man in the world, Monsieur.

9) That my Dad is able to come out to San Diego for a visit this month!

10) For the delicious Thomcord grapes Elisabeth bought at Trader Joe’s the other day!  They are a hybrid of Thompson and Concord.  Yummy!!!  Go and buy some!!! They will make you smile! (I’m eating them right now and smiling!!)

What are you thankful for this week?  Let me know!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Quick Visit to Cleveland

This past weekend, I flew into Cleveland to attend a funeral in Plymouth, Michigan.  My sister’s father-in-law, whom I’ve known since I was 12 years old (I still can’t believe that!), was taken away from us too soon from ALS.  It was a wonderful funeral, and Howard would have loved it!  The food and drinks were flowing and the laughs never stopped.  The photograph above is from Christmas 2008.  My brother-in-law, Tom, and his father, Howard, are in the foreground.  My dad, father-in-law, and husband are in the background.  Howard will be missed by many.

I arrived into Cleveland Thursday night.  There was just enough time to check out Michael Symon‘s B Spot in Crocker Park.  I had a hard time deciding which burger to order and settled on Breuben ($9) – a burger topped with Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss, and Russian Dressing. I can’t leave Ohio without having at least one Great Lakes Brewery beer, so the Dortmunder Gold ($5) was a perfect complement to my meaty burger.  It was a perfect meal.  I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be full because it looked small.  Looks are deceiving!  Along with a side of Rosemary Fries and Onion Rings my parents and I shared, I was just fine!  Next time, I might opt for a Bad A** Shake, possibly the Chocolate Banana Marshmallow with a shot of dark rum ($9), perhaps?

B Spot Burgers on Urbanspoon

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Sunday, I had a full day free with my parents and brother in Cleveland before I flew back home to San Diego, and we made the most of it.  We met my in-laws for breakfast at Lucky’s Cafe in Tremont (Chef Heather Haviland).  We got there as soon as it opened because the place is small and very popular.  (Good thing to know: If you have a large party, they’ll take a reservation. Otherwise, get there early or else expect to wait.)  What I really loved about Lucky’s is that even though they were super busy, they let us linger at the tables.  We never felt rushed, and we were able to relax and enjoy our breakfast.  A few of us ordered Gingerbread Waffles surrounded by roasted apples and topped with delicious whipped cream drizzled with caramel sauce.  It truly was a dessert, and I loved every bite.  I ordered a Hot Apple Cider since I rarely get the opportunity.  All of their hot beverages come in huge mugs which I greatly appreciated.  It was the perfect cure for the chilly weather we had that day.  A couple other people ordered “Shipwreck” which was a mix of hash browns, eggs, vegetables, cheddar cheese served with their house baked toast and fruit.  I’m definitely going back, and I think I might get that next time!  It’s a little pricey, but in exchange you get house made breads and pastries, food from local farmers, and a home-like ambiance.  For 6 of us, including food and beverages, the total bill was about $100.

Lucky's Cafe on Urbanspoon

After my gluttonous meal, my family headed to The Cleveland Museum of Art.  If you are reading this and are not living in the Cleveland area, make a point to visit the city and make sure the museum is number 1 on your to do list.  And if you live in Cleveland, and haven’t been recently, go!!!!  One of the best summer jobs I ever had was being a security guard there.  I was paid to look at art (and to tell people to step away from the artwork) all day long.  I loved it!  However,  I did get tired of people saying “I could do that”.  If you say that, just make sure a security guard isn’t around.  But I digress ( I do that a lot!).  The special exhibition is “Rembrandt in America” and runs through May 28th.   Rembrandt’s works are often under scrutiny by Art Historians.  Is it or isn’t it by the Master?  This exhibition allows the viewer to compare a number of paintings that had originally been attributed to Rembrandt but were later determined to have been done by a student or someone copying his work.  There is a room devoted entirely to showing visitors how scholars study a painting in order to properly (hopefully) identify the artist.  I found it amazing to see the life Rembrandt brought out of a work – or put into it!  There are 2 paintings that really felt like the subject was in the room with me.  I could go on and on, but just do yourself a favor and check it out.  It’s the best $14 you’ll spend.  And there are two paintings in the exhibition that are from San Diego!  Woohoo!  I thought this was interesting, too:  the maker of Glidden is a sponsor and each room in the exhibition is painted in a different color influenced by Rembrandt’s works.  Before you enter, you can pick up a color palette sheet.  If you happen to love the green used in one room, you know exactly which paint to pick up at the store!  And speaking of Glidden, if you are a visitor and need a hotel room close to the museum and many other attractions, check out Glidden House.  It’s a mansion that was built in 1910 and is now a very unique hotel.   There are so many things to do just steps away!  Another tip, the tickets for Rembrandt are timed.  (Only special exhibitions have a fee.  The rest of the museum is free year round. Love CMA!!)  I recommend getting there when it opens so that you can immediately go into the exhibition, and there will be fewer vistors which is always nice!  Otherwise, you may have to wait to enter.  If that’s the case, there’s plenty other galleries to visit, but just remember your visit may take longer than you orginally planned. (Check out this video about “Rembrandt in America”:  666BnpAxTBY)

The time I spent at The CMA made me work up an appetite!  Hey, that’s a lot of walking and standing!  My family decided to head over to Presti’s Bakery and Cafe in Little Italy for some doughnuts, coffee and hot chocolate.  In my younger days, my friends and I loved going to the original Presti’s location (which used to be up the street a bit) after the bars had closed and stock up on some freshly made doughnuts.  Those were the days!  Before we left, I picked up one of their Pepperoni Rolls to bring back to my husband back in San Diego – one of his favorites.  I highly recommend getting one of those, too!

Presti's Café and Deli on Urbanspoon

It’s amazing that I was only gone for a few days, but I have so many awesome memories from my trip.   As always, I am already looking forward to going back to Cleveland to see family and friends – and to eat great food!!

As always, take care and happy eating!