Every time I walk by a Williams-Sonoma store, I am pulled in by a force that is stronger than any top-of-the-line vacuum on the market. Ever since I can remember, the store has had such a refined feel to it, and the staff is always so welcoming and willing to help. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked in to browse and been greeted with a snack or beverage. It’s kind of like going to a dear friend’s home. A friend who can cook. Really well. ;-)
Last weekend, Kenny, Cody, and I attended one of their free classes. Yes, folks, they will teach you some pretty amazing techniques and ideas… without charging you a thing. Oh – and you get to taste the creations at the end! Win-win! I’d always wanted to go to one of these, and when I saw this class was called “From the Garden”, and that they’d be some type of canning, I was in. You know I love to pickle beets (here’s my blog about that), but canning/pickling itself is one of those things I just don’t do enough of. So, I figured it I went, I’d get the motivation I needed. It worked. I’m dying to start up again after the wedding.
We walked in, and were immediately greeting by Chef Gina, whose caffeinated effervescence was contagious. If you’re ever able to attend one of her classes, I cannot tell you how much you’ll enjoy her super-fun, sweet style. “Welcome in, folks! We’re going to be making pickles today!” After introducing herself and her assistant, she was off and running. She talked about the importance of sterilizing jars when canning, and showed us this new item (or at least new to me!) made by the Ball company that can sterilize your jars in only 12 minutes. What?! I’ve done it either in the dishwasher, which takes a ton of time, as well as water…or by boiling it in big pots for what seems like forever. Great tip! This contraption also will help can your pickles, jams, tomatoes… whatever you’re canning…. without a worry. Now don’t get me wrong… this class wasn’t on the wonders of a product they were selling, it’s just that I am a major gadget girl and this one was extraordinary. I’ll give you a link at the bottom of the blog so you can take a look at this beauty. Continue reading
I enjoy trying new things. And, as I’m getting older, I’m wanting to branch out with my tastebuds even more. So, yesterday I was shopping at Sprouts and I found something fun: Kangaroo!
My son Chris was coming over for dinner, which prompted the need for it as well. If you’ve read any of my posts about him, you’d know he’s the biggest carnivore I know. Plus, he’s always open to tasting new meats, which is awesome. So, I knew that he’d want to try it. :)
The kangaroo is from a place called Durham Ranch in Wyoming, and I love what the website have as a mission statement:
Since I’m crazy busy with the wedding plans, I thought I’d bring back a DELICIOUS treat from last summer as my 100th post. My Mom’s Rhubarb Pie is an outstanding dessert that I know you will absolutely love! Take a read, and try it out. Please make sure to say hi to my Mom in the comments, since she reads them too!
Originally posted on sockmonkeyskitchen:
My mom has many cooking/baking talents, but her Rhubarb Custard Pie is one recipe that really gets a lot of requests. So, of course I was very excited when she asked if I’d like to use it for a blog :) What’s even better…all of the photos of pie that you’ll see are hers too.
I’ve heard that when my nephew would come visit her from college, it was the one thing he’d request. Every time.
When I was at her house for Mothers Day, we were talking about rhubarb, and she told me that she always gets *interesting* comments from Grocery Clerks when she buys this pretty veggie at the market. Here are a few:
- “Sooooo, is this red celery?”
- “How do you eat this?”
- “What is this, anyway?”
- “Do you know…you’re the only one who ever buys this?”
Really?Maybe it’s because I’ve seen my mom make her pie so…
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It’s Summer time!
Now that the heat has overtaken us, my guess is you’re not wanting to spend a ton of time in the kitchen, right? There are pools to swim in, beaches to walk on, boats to sail on, and weddings to plan. Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t apply to you, but it does to me – I’m getting married next month! Because of that, I’ve taken some shortcuts here and there, since I don’t have a lot of free time these days.
So, for those of you who just need more hours in the day, because you don’t have a magical clock that will indeed stop time (where can I buy one of those?!), I give you my Summer Shortcuts. I’m calling it “Part 1″ because I’m pretty sure there will be a part 2. :)
The first shortcut came about when my parents came to stay for a couple of days recently to help around Kenny’s house. It was pretty warm, so I didn’t want to turn the oven on. I grabbed a few ingredients at the store and started throwing them together. It was super quick, super easy, and one you could do in no time. Hooray to that!
So, here’s your first shortcut of the day…. Cucumber Pico. You’ll notice the tomatoes are all halved. Don’t worry… there’s an fast way to do this! Remember the little trick I told you about in last week’s blog for cutting grapes? Well it works equally as well on tomatoes!
Cucumber Pico (paleo)
1 carton organic sugar plum tomatoes, halved Continue reading
One of my biggest and most common cravings is a bowl full of fruit and veggies, all mixed up together. It’s a great start to a lot of meals, and when you throw in a protein or two, you’ve got a great lunch or dinner. As is often the case, one afternoon I’d just gotten off of work, it was a hot day, and I was hungry. I stopped by the local market, picked up a few things that sounded like they could be friends, and ended up with this concoction. It was really good, I must say!
I love cutting things up – it’s actually quite therapeutic I think… plus it gives me time to think about the next step when I’m making up a recipe. It was on this particular day that I realized that if you let all the grapes roll into the little “moat” that’s around the wooden cutting board… you can slice about 10 of them at the same time. How ingenious is that?! I’m sure some people have done it like that for years… but it was new to me, and it happened quite by accident. Those kinds of kitchen accidents are way better than those requiring stitches or antacids… ;-)
It’s a simple dish, and one that really doesn’t require specific amounts. Just use what you want… and if you like an ingredient, add more!
Note: This is much healthier than most Chicken Salads, since it doesn’t include mayononaise, which is often made with a ton of vegetable oil (an ingredient you will never see in my recipes!). It also is adding the health benefits of plain yogurt :)
I’m going to teach you a shortcut that will *really* make your Manicotti dinner easy! But first, a little about noodles:
I have always loved noodles of any kind. I was the kid who was thrilled with just getting the noodles in the can of Campbell’s soup, and hoping my sister got all of those icky chewy square chicken pieces. I used to love when Mom would make plain noodles and then put butter on them. And I loved cheese-filled noodles, especially the cheese filling that was in raviolis that I’d order when we went out for Italian food at Petrini’s (which has been in Santa Barbara since 1958!)… or Marianne’s Italian Villa. Of course, I had no idea what that cheese was, only that it was “special”. AND… I knew that this same special cheese was in manicotti, which Mom didn’t make often enough, in my opinion. Looking back, I remember it only showing up on nights we’d have company… hmmm… maybe it *was* special. Or maybe it’s because it was a pain in the neck to stuff all of those droopy noodles. Yep, that was probably it.
Well, problem solved. This recipe makes it easier to stuff them, and the amazing shortcut will go even further than that. BUT…. you have to wait. The shortcut it at the bottom.
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. ground Angus Beef (organic/grass fed)
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 jars of your favorite Marinara Sauce (yes, jars. Get one without soybean oil though)
(we are making it simple, remember?) Continue reading
A couple of weekends ago, I shared a beautiful day in Santa Barbara, with my equally beautiful besties. We were there to celebrate my recent engagement.
Yep, I’m getting married! Donna drove in from wine country, Tracie came up from trendy LA, and I picked up Lisa up near historic Pasadena on our way up to our old stomping grounds. ;-) Santa Barbara is known as The American Riveria®, and it really does live up to its name. We were surrounded by Mediterranean homes, fine shopping, and even finer dining. You know, it’s really sad because as a kid, I had absolutely no idea how pretty the city really was. But now as a “pseudo-tourist” I can really appreciate all that Santa Barbara has to offer.
We started the morning by meeting up at the local Panera. Oh how I love the Hazelnut coffee there! We chatted away for a while, and then crossed the parking lot for a lap around La Cumbre Plaza, which was one of our hangouts when we were growing up.
We breezed around from store to store, gazing at the beautiful surroundings, and wandered through all the welcoming stores, such as Williams Sonoma, and my favorite, Pottery Barn (*sigh*). Our time shopping was filled with lots of laughter, a few giggles, and many references to 80s music ;-)
Then we hopped in the car and drove down State Street to our dining destination. The week before I had checked out Yelp to find the perfect place for lunch. I don’t know about you, but I think I use Yelp more than anything else as far as restaurant recommendations. They’re always spot on! Anyhow, my yelping certainly paid off. We found ourselves at Opal Restaurant and Bar, which is a beautiful little restaurant over near the Arlington Theater. As we were walking in the door, Tracie spotted her friend Adam, who she hadn’t laid eyes on for at least 25 years. That’s one of the things about Santa Barbara: no matter how long you’ve been away, you will always bump into someone you know.
Our lunch was remarkable. Lisa had the Arborio Risotto (with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms, Fresh Asparagus and Artichokes), and Tracie and I both had the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Stuffed with Prosciutto and Smoked Mozzarella on a bed of baby spinach.
Has this ever happened to you?
A couple days ago, I walked through the open doors of my local grocery store in hopes of finding the perfect ingredients for dinner. The only problem was that I had no idea what I was hungry for, and no idea what I felt like cooking.
My first stop is always the organic produce section, and often times I’ll find my inspiration there. Let’s see… zucchini…nope. Leeks…noooo. Carrots… nah. Eggplant…no, no, no! Gah. I look around, see the market workers, and I’m thinking to myself, “Who are these people, and where have they put my inspiration?” Then I see it… if there was a choir, they would have started singing (although that would really be weird to have a choir in the middle of a grocery store, but hey, this is my daydream). BLUEBERRIES! Oh how I love blueberries! I could eat them every day and never get tired of them. The odd thing is, I don’t remember ever eating fresh blueberries until I was an adult. And those tiny round sugary things in a can that come inside the muffin mix don’t count.
I grabbed a box, and saw my plump, organic lovlies were on sale for $1.99. So I got four. Yes!
Right next to them were some gorgeous garnet red strawberries. Summer is definitely here! I tried to figure out what exactly I would do with berries for dinner, and then I looked one shelf down: jalapeños! Of course. And no, I don’t put jalapeños in everything I make, contrary to what some of my friends have accused me of… I’m just on a slightly spicy kick right now. ;-)
I breezed through the aisles, grabbing a few more key ingredients, headed to Kenny’s house, and started mixing up these beauties. I must say, the color combo was so pretty – I definitely think this would be a good 4th of July lunch! Later on as Kenny and I took our first few bites, we realized this was definitely a recipe to write down. So, here’s my blueberry inspired entree – hope you’ll try it soon!
Chicken with Summerberry Salsa
1 box of strawberries, hulled and diced
2 small boxes of blueberries Continue reading
Sometimes the best thing for dinner is…… breakfast. I love breakfasty kinds of foods. That’s probably because there is that weird rule that you can have sugared-up bread with caffeine…. and call it a meal. Think about it: pancakes, cinnamon rolls, donuts, and of course the delectable french toast.
The only challenge with French Toast is that when you’re making it for your family, everyone has to eat a different time, since you can only cook a few thin slices at a time. And, you’re stuck standing at the stove while they’re enjoying their meal. Until now. I’ve been making this type of recipe for about 10 years. It’s so simple, and I love it because it’s a hot meal your whole family can eat together :)
I think fruit is synonymous with a good weekend breakfast, and this one incorporates Granny Smith apples. I adore this tart green variety because they sweeten as they cook, and their pieces always stay whole. This is why they’re the only apple I use for pie. Speaking of pie, that’s what inspired this recipe – Apple Pie! Wait till you taste the cinnamon, butter, and maple!
By the way, if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know I try to eat less gluten, but there are certain times when it’s all I want. This is one of those times.
Baked Apple French Toast
One 16 ounce loaf of bread, cut into six slices +2 little end pieces
3 tablespoons butter
2 Granny Smith apples, diced
2 Tablespoons cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups milk (+ more if needed)
¼-½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
crispy bacon, crumbled (optional)
Real maple syrup Continue reading
My son Christopher just flew home last night after his first year in college(!) so I thought I’d share one of his favorites … which I originally posted the week he graduated from high school =0)
this is one of my favorite go-to recipes, since it’s always a crowd-pleaser. Enjoy!
Originally posted on sockmonkeyskitchen:
Today I’m sharing my recipe for Chicken Romano, which has been a favorite for quite a few years. I’ll be speeding through the blog, since today is also the day that Chris, my youngest is graduating from High School. Where did the time go?
When he was young, Chris used to ask for this meal, calling it “Chicken nuggets with spaghetti sauce”. Then last week, he asked if I could make “that Italian chicken” for dinner. Hmmm… “that Italian chicken”? I asked him to describe it. “You know, the one that’s got chicken nuggets in spaghetti sauce.” Ah, yes. Of course.
So, let’s get started! (full recipe is at the bottom)
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