Thanksgiving Day Quiz!

Happy Thanksgiving! I know everyone is probably (hopefully) enjoying some great food with family and friends. As I type, the bird is in the oven, and it’s starting to smell like the Holidays! My dog, Monsieur, has a tough time every year on this day.  His body doesn’t react well to turkey, but the smell of the raw bird is an overwhelming experience for him.  He’s a lot like me.  We let him get close to the turkey to check it out and give him an alternative treat: banana.

Now for  the quiz!  Can you tell which one is the turkey??

As I was writing (and cooking), our neighbor stopped by to give us a bottle of wine!  What a great surprise!  It’s awesome knowing there are some great people out there – and people who know I would love a bottle of wine!!  Thanks, Matt and Britt!!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

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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!

Guest Blogging Over At Hoptology SD

Hello everyone! I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend or you have planned some time just to wind down from the week. My friend just got married and headed across the pond for his honeymoon. He asked that I do a guest blog for his beer blog. Here’s the link.: p2vJCt-i

If you like beer and cupcakes, I think you’ll enjoy this post.

Take Care and Happy Eating!

 

PubCakes on Urbanspoon

Next Door on Urbanspoon

Tomato, Tomaato? Go to Suzie’s Farm and Find Out!

I hope everyone’s week is going well so far!  I have to share the details about my trip out to Suzie’s Farm (http://www.suziesfarm.com/).  If you can’t go, at least check out the website.  There are some great recipes there.  Also, check out the special events planned.  I wish I could attend the Autumnal Equinox Dinner 2012 when chefs from The Linkery and El Take It Easy, Cucina Urbana, and Mision 19 will be part of an amazing event that includes secret gardens, mazes and music at the farm!  Maybe next year?!

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Jackie, a.k.a The Seaside Baker, arranged for a private group tour (Harvesting Tour) of Suzie’s.  Check out her blog: http://theseasidebaker.com/  I love her tagline: Musings of a Mompreneur!  Very cute!  We were greeted by our docents, Jenna and Karissa, by the farm stand.  If you want to buy some produce without taking a tour, you can visit any Saturday between 10am and 2pm. If you just like to have food prepared for you, check out all of the restaurants that buy from this farm.  You might have had Suzie’s tomatoes without even realizing it!  Blind Lady Ale House, Farm House Cafe, Miho Gastrotruck, and Marriott Del Mar are just a few spots where you can get some of this organic and tasty stuff! Another interesting tidbit, our docent, Jenna, has a food blog: http://foodislifeblog.com/  It’ll be interesting to see what recipes and food facts she posts!  I’m looking forward to reading this blog!

The farm is 13 miles south of Downtown San Diego, but you really feel like you are in another world – or at least in another country.  In some ways you are!  You can see the rolling hills of Mexico just beyond the gardens.  The farm is named after a stray dog who wandered onto the land and into the hearts of the owners, Robin Taylor and Lucila De Alejandro.  Future plots were named after dogs as well: Bear and Kiki.  Kiki followed us throughout the tour.  I guess she’s a docent as well!  There is a fourth plot that has just been acquired, but the name is unknown at this time.  I’m hoping for Sweet Pea or Monsieur.  Just throwing that out there.  All four areas will be a total of 100 acres.  I must admit, knowing the owners are such dog lovers makes me love this place even more!

The reason I loved the private tour is that it’s really a peaceful spot to hang out for an hour and a half.  I was told the public tours on the second Saturday of the month are great, but can be crowded.  The Harvesting Tour can be arranged for groups of 10 or more, costs $10 per person, and you get to pick produce right off the vine to put into your grocery bag.  What could be a better way to spend the day? Make sure to bring a bag!  We walked past rows of pumpkins (12 different varieties), tomatoes, Swiss Chard, tomatillo, okra, and Lamb’s Quarters to name a few.  Everything is planted by hand and a butter knife!  You could take a tour during different times of the year and see and taste so many different things.  I’m thinking this will have to be a quarterly trip at least!!  My favorite part was the chicken coop.  Our guides told us to grab an ear of corn to offer the chickens.  They ran to us like Monsieur when I tell him his food is ready!  Check out the website to see all of the details on the various tours offered.

When I got home, I unpacked my loot and tried to figure out what to make.  I decided to keep it simple.  I sautéed the red onions in some olive oil until they had a nice caramelization, then I turned the heat down until they softened and became super sweet.  I threw in a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper, too.  It was Sunday, so we threw some hotdogs on the grill, bought some La Brea bread, and slathered the bread with horseradish.  We topped the hotdogs with the grilled onions (Franz said he could have just had a bowl of the onions alone.), some Stadium Mustard (a nod to Cleveland), and a little ketchup.  Perfect!  As a side, I had Franz grill the mini eggplants from Suzie’s.  I prepared the eggplants by slicing them in half lengthwise, placing them in a bowl with olive oil, honey, and 1 hot pepper from Suzie’s that I sliced lengthwise into 3 slices.  Seriously, you have to do this!  It doesn’t get easier than that??  The pepper packed a punch, but it was a nice balance to the sweetness of the honey and the earthiness of the Eggplant.  The next day, I had some left over grilled eggplants and sautéed red onions, so I improvised.  I cooked some thin spaghetti, and then I added the eggplants (chopped) and onions.  In addition, I took some tomatoes (some from our yard, too) and tore them with my hands and added that to the pasta.  I added some oregano, salt, ground black pepper, chili flakes, extra virgin olive oil, and some garlic.  Once in our bowls, I topped it with a little bit of Parmesan.  Add a glass of red wine and call it a night!  Actually, we ended the night with chocolate chip cookies I made the day before.  I still have some veggies to eat from my trip!  I will let you know what else I come up with during the week!  Also, let me know about a farm near you!

Take Care and Happy Eatings!

Go Ahead – Make Someone’s Day!

It’s Thursday! The past few days have been busy! I’m sure everyone is feeling the same way. On top of everything, it’s August!? Yesterday, I sent a text to my sister asking when that happened?? Commercials for back to school, talk about football on the radio? Is Summer over already? I haven’t even gone to the beach yet! I did get a chance to take a 2 hour wave runner tour over the weekend. I highly recommend it!!! I went through Seaforth Boat Rentals at their Mission Bay location (http://www.seaforthboatrental.com/). What a blast!  AND . . . (drum roll) August is “Eat Your Dessert First” Month! Who’s with me??

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I’ve also noticed that a lot of people are giving back and are doing so in creative ways.  That’s one awesome way to spend one’s Summer!   I have a friend, Jeannine, who is running the Nike’s Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in October. She works with patients who have been diagnosed with Lymphoma and Jeannine loves to run.  What did she do?  She joined The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training.  She’s about half way to her goal of $3200, and she’s been coming up with interesting ways to raise money.  She poured beer at an Oyster Festival in June – from the pictures it seems like most of the beer went on her.  Jeannine even got Rubio’s in Mission Valley on board to help her raise cash.  She was able to hand out flyers so that on a particular day a percentage of a customer’s bill, who had the flyer, went to Jeannine’s cause.  I had to take advantage of that!  Hey, it’s for a good cause!  Check out her site: http://pages.teamintraining.org/sd/nikesf12/jeannineshively  Her next fundraiser is on August 25th at Rubio’s (http://www.rubios.com/ 2075 Camino de la Reina San Diego, CA 92108).  It will last all day and night.  Jeannine will be at the Mission Valley location starting at 4pm with flyers in hand.  This event only pertains to the Mission Valley location!!  So grab a flyer, a fish taco and a Stone Brewing Co. IPA.  Like I said before, it’s for a good cause!  Last time I went, I ordered a Carnitas Burrito that had a good meaty flavor and was a decent size.  I’m used to my favorite local taco stand that makes a burrito that’s pretty hefty, but Rubio’s was large enough to satisfy me.  I love checking out their salsa bar, too.  There’s a small outdoor patio area as well.  What better way to spend a Saturday?  Prior to August 25th, I’ll post a link so you can print one out before you go.

Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Another cool fundraiser going on right now: http://reciperenovator.com/cookies-for-cody/  A fellow blogger, Stephanie Weaver of The Recipe Renovator, is raising money for her nephew, Cody, who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. If you go to her site, you can bid on cookbooks signed by the authors, desserts, gift baskets, and kitchen items.  The bidding ends at 5pm (Pacific Time) on August 5th, so you still have time to check out the items and place a bid.  It’s a fun way to raise money!  Good luck!!

At times, it seems like there are too many amazing causes to help.  Where do you start?  When do you stop??  I have two organizations in which I feel strongly and support:  NAMI San Diego (http://www.namisandiego.org/) and San Diego Humane Society and SPCA (http://www.sdhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home_page).  I think it’s good to find where you are passionate and direct that energy towards a particular group or person.   Having said that, it’s fun to find these various fundraising tactics and give a little, if one can.

Now if fundraising for major organizations just isn’t your thing, I love doing small things like baking for others.  In June, Amanda of I Am Baker took this idea to the next level and asked her readers to nominate someone who deserved baked goods delivered to his or her house.  She had over 160 nominations (I nominated my parents.).  Then she threw out the request for volunteer bakers so that every nomination could receive a delivered treat.  She received over 400 volunteers!  My parents received a box of wonderful Mexican Wedding Cookies from The Urban Baker (http://www.theurbanbaker.com/an-old-favorite-mexican-wedding-cookies-gluten-free/).   My parents were so happy to be nominated, and they couldn’t believe how professional the cookies and packaging looked.  So if you know someone who’s having a tough day or week (or year!), drop off a little treat.  If you don’t bake, stop by a local bakery and pick up a couple brownies.  If the person doesn’t like sweets or is watching their weight, pick up some veggies or flowers at a Farmer’s Market and surprise your friend or family member.  A little act of kindness can really make a difference in someone’s life.  I know you all know this, but it’s good to get a reminder!

I made one of my favorite brownie recipes the other day for someone’s birthday.  There are about as many brownie recipes as there are fundraisers!  I have a handful of recipes I go between, but I like this one because it’s more fudgy than cakey, and the brownies are a little on the thinner side.  Thinner in terms of thickness, not in terms of calories!   Add a dollop of ice cream, and you are good to go!  Another great thing about this recipe, you don’t have to worry about bringing the butter to room temperature.  You just melt the butter!  The original recipe is from Bon Appetit (September 2004), but the recipe below is with my adjustments.  I have another fav brownie recipe that is SUPER fudgy!!  It’s best to make them the day before they are consumed.  They need a day to rest.  And you’ll need a day to rest after eating a couple!  I’ll have to share that one another time.

Heath Bar Brownies

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks for faster melting

3.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 2/3 cup sugar (I use vanilla sugar that I make.)

3 large eggs (room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup Heath English toffee chips

1 cup nut pieces (whichever you prefer – I like walnuts or pecans), toasted and cooled (If you hate nuts, leave them out.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch pan.  Stir butter and chocolate in a heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth.  Cool to lukewarm.

Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl until thick and billowy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in chocolate mixture, then flour mixture.  Make sure not to over mix!  Fold in nuts and Heath English toffee chips.  Transfer to pan.

Bake brownies until puffed and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 28 minutes.  Cool pan on rack.  Store at room temperature.

Take Care and Happy Eatings!