Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I am probably in way over my head trying to go to New York. So much to do. So little time. And working basically alone and in a vacuum.
I give you some edamame. It is a little tired and had a bit of freezer burn (just like me... burned out!) but it still tasted pretty good. I think my goal should be to use up all the old food in the freezer before it is worthless!!!!!!!!!

Last week I only did so-so in my goals to eat better. But the weekend came and I blew it. What else is new. I did make a good meal I want to share with you when I have a second to think.

This week, the whole thing with the trade show is kicking in and I literally do not have time to eat or even much thought about it. I have A LOT to do. I am STRESSING but muddling through it. Very busy. Won't be able to visit much or write. I want to. But I leave in just over 2 weeks!

Hoping to be back soon. But if you don't see me, know that I am busily putting together my first trade show and knee deep in Christmas designs (yes Christmas), paper, cutting, planning, ordering and now and then even organizing (my downfall). On the positive side... I work well under pressure!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spring... Perfect time for planting...

We don't have a very big space for planting at our home. Just a small patio area with a great big view. But other that the fact that the roses have come back and are blooming again, it was looking pretty shabby and in need of attention. It had been bugging me. And my basil had died out and I really wanted a few more herbs. So Friday when the kids were playing with their cousins, I ran over to the nursery to pick a few things up.

I got three different chili peppers, basil, cilantro, oregano, chives, rosemary, cherry tomatoes, mint and strawberries. All the things I use the most. The strawberries are for Danielle. It is her new FAVORITE thing!

I put them in pots on a table just outside my kitchen window.

Paul pulled out some of the tired looking plants. I pruned and planted a few new flowers.

Hopefully in a month or two I can post some great recipes using my new herbs! I hope I can keep them happy and alive. I don't have the greenest thumb in the world. Tips are welcome! Happy Sunday. I wish you all a glorious day and a beautiful week.

Off to tackle the inside of the house now.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Maria's Mexican Tuna

For those of you who read this post, you will know of my current goal to eat a little better and get back into my "measuring pants." I don't really believe in scales for it is not the number that is important to me but how I look in my clothes and I hate the dreaded "D" word. So let's just call it food modification both in the type of food and portion. For me low-carb seems to work fairly well.

So this is the first post in the purposely low-carb set that I hope to maintain at least until I go to NY or fit in my "measuring pants".

Maria is my nanny. She comes once a week to watch the kids so I can work on my freelance graphics or my stationery line. Maria is from Mexico and is very sweet with the kids. She and I enjoy sharing recipes and food tips. I haven't tasted much of what she cooks but the few things that she has made are great. I have a feeling she makes a mean Mexican dinner!

The other day, Maria asked if I wanted some of the Tuna she made. I have to say I was blown away and never thought of doing tuna in this fashion. She made it all from things in my pantry. She used a can of tuna (I usually buy white albacore in water). To this she added a little mayonnaise and stirred it up. Then she tossed in chopped onion, tomato, cilantro, jalapeño (I had a can of jalapenos that she used but fresh would be good too) and diced avocado. Of course it was seasoned too- salt and pepper to taste. She stirred it all up and served it on a plate with tortilla chips and crackers.

I recreated it the other day and put it in a lettuce cup to avoid the carbs. It was packed with flavor and filled me up nicely! I highly recommend trying it. If you like it REALLY spicy, add more jalapeño or if you are not into the heat, substitute mild green chiles for the jalapeño.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dinner is Served!

Erica emailed that she and Ronnie were going to be in OC for the weekend. It is not like she lives far but as a young single girl with a job, a life and a new fiance who lives in Vegas, life gets busy! We had only seen each other once since Christmas. So we made a plan. Dinner at my house! Jacqueline also wanted to see Erica and give her a birthday gift. Besides there were a LOT of wedding planning details to hear about!
PS: I am a MESSY chef!

After seeing a lot of talk out there about cookbooks, I decided to dust a few off and check them out. One was a random book that was probably a hand-me-down from my grandmother. It's called, California Bed & Breakfast Cookbook. In it was a recipe for goat cheese soufflé that had Jacqueline's name all over it. But then there was this recipe from Laura for Veloute of Prawns that just looked heavenly. But of course my husband will eat SO little (Mr. Picky!) and I have to think of the kids. Amy's Marinata Diavola sounded so fresh and perfect for spring. I also decided I wanted the meal to feel Mediterranean without specifically coming from a certain country.

I didn't hit the market until around 10:30 am on Sunday. In addition to the ingredients for the dishes above, I picked up some orzo, asparagus, mint, oregano and limes.

First up: Marinate the chicken.
Marinata Diavola Amy used:
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
  • Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher Sea Salt
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Cayenne Pepper, about 1/2 tsp
But then there was this recipe in Bon Appétit for Grilled Citrus Chicken that sounded good. So to Amy's ingredients, I added:
  • Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • Chopped Oregano
  • Onions
I just guess at the amounts. It is a marinade. Dump it all in a bowl, whisk it and pour it in a bag over the chicken and keep in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to one day.

On to the soufflé! The recipe says it makes 12 servings so I halved it.
Goat Cheese Soufflé from Sand Rock Farm You can find the recipe here!

Paul took control of grilling the chicken while I boiled the orzo, watched the souffles and started Laura's shrimp. Meanwhile, I had also tossed the asparagus with olive oil and a little salt and put it out to be grilled.

But I still needed a sauce or something for my orzo. I wanted to keep it fairly simple and fresh so as not to compete with the other dishes. So I started with olive oil in a pan and added garlic until lightly colored then I put it on low and tossed in some freshly grated lemon peel, chopped oregano and chopped mint. Oh yes... I also threw in just a couple of chopped kalmata olives. When the pasta was cooked al dente, I tossed it with my olive oil/herb mixture and put in a serving dish. Then I topped with caramelized leeks and fresh tomatoes for garnish.

I plated the goat cheese soufflés on a bed of field greens drizzled with a lemon, olive oil mixture. It was good. But I had envisioned more or something better. It wasn't goat-cheesy enough for me or something. Blair said it was "like a brownie made with gold," however and everyone seemed to gobble it all up!

I put the rest of the food in serving dishes at the table.

The chicken came out sooooo well. It was delicious all full of citrus and flavors of the sun. And the asparagus was so flavorful and tender from the grill. I hadn't prepared it in this fashion before and I HIGHLY recommend it, especially if you already have the grill going.

Laura's shrimp was nothing short of absolutely amazing! I sprinkled just a few of the caramelized leeks on top for garnish. The veloute sauce was SO delicious!!! Thank you, Laura! Her recipe calls for curry (optional). I think the curry MAKES it! Even those who don't find curry to be a favorite were sopping the sauce up with bread. And Paul, who doesn't like much and would NOT eat a shrimp, thought the sauce quite good and asked if I couldn't do the same sauce for chicken some time. I don't see why not. But it does seem more suited to a shrimp or fish dish.
My made up orzo and sauce was nice and light. I was worried the mint might conflict but really it just freshened up the pasta and was a wonderful accompaniment.
Apparently everyone liked it because seriously... they ate almost everything! I had very little left-overs. That is a good sign.
The once well dressed table is now demolished and pretty unappetizing looking. But it is a sign of a good meal. Now the hard part. Clean up! I hate that part.

Appetizers Anyone?

How about a glass of wine? Beer?

As with any dinner party, I like to offer something to munch on while I finish up the main courses. I am busy cooking up a post for you on my Sunday night dinner party in honor of my cousin's recent engagement and birthday and just because. Happy Birthday Erica and CONGRATULATIONS too!!!

And while your top your baguette with some roasted bell peppers, medley of olives, kalmata hummus, smoked salmon or avocado cilantro hummus from my antipasta platter, let me also tell you my game plan for the blog over the next few weeks.

First I will give you a rather detailed post of the dinner on Sunday which consisted of a few different dishes. These were taken from a few different sources as well.

Next, I have a goal. And maybe by sharing it with you, I can ACTUALLY accomplish it. I hate to loose face. I am HOPING to offer only a few short posts each week as I need to direct my energies toward the upcoming Stationery Show in New York. So between now and May 22nd, I hope to be working more on that and less so on this blog. (On a side note: If ANYONE knows ANYTHING about setting up a trade show with NO money (virtually) or about the National Stationery Show in NY, PLEASE share any insight, advice or wisdom. The show is May 17-21st. Thanks!!!)

Now I do not want to abandon you or my happy little blog entirely for a month. Which comes to my third point. I am NOT happy with my current shape. I have gained since I stopped breast feeding, just over a year ago and am reluctant to buy clothes for my current state. In the past the easiest and best option for me has been to cut out the sugar and flour etc... Basically- low carb.

So the next few weeks I hope to keep both you and myself interested by creating interesting low carb meals that satisfy. It will be a challenge and I hope you don't mind hanging on for the ride.

For those of you who are ultra worried about nutrition, I do eat fruit and will occasionally eat oatmeal or healthy grains at breakfast. And for those of you worried about lack of some hedonism, I will drink a glass of wine from time to time and I will have a bite of chocolate. I have to have some indulgence now and then.

The table is set. Just finishing up the menu.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Oh Baby Baby!

By now you are all probably aware that I find Orangette to be very inspiring. It is through her articles in Bon Appetit and her blog, that I decided I MUST have a blog of my own.

Several weeks back, I was perusing her index of recipes and came across this! I had never heard of a Dutch baby Pancake. But it sounded and looked marvelous. I was intent to make them. The problem was that my cast iron skillet has done so much blackening, I felt it would alter the flavor of a pastry-type dish. I needed another cast iron skillet. Well they aren't very pricey so I why not. I decided that 2 small skillets would be nice for the sweet convections I might decide to make and that is the way "Jimmy" does it in this recipe.

Well Target only had a 12" skillet. So did Cost Plus, William Sonoma and a couple other places. It would work but I had it in my mind that I wanted 2 small ones! Time for some online sleuthing. Crate and Barrel HAD them! Yeah! Also Sur la Table offers a few different sizes.

FINALLY, I get to make these Dutch babies!! It was so easy. And fairly quick!

And the result...
These darling puffy little bowls of yum! It was so amazing how the pastry began to rise and inflate in the oven. I think they are rather impressive looking. And the taste? So delicious with the lemon and powdered sugar sprinkled all over. The kids just inhaled them. I didn't realize until making it how eggy it would be. There really isn't that much flour in these, mostly egg.

I highly recommend you try them. And I think they are so impressive and easy, I am letting the old noggin try to divine a new twist to them as a dessert for after dinner. Not that they couldn't be as is but maybe with a little caramel sauce or??? I will think about it and get back to you.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

You HAVE to check this out

Have any of you heard of this "Dining in the Sky"?

Well I was reading a People Magazine yesterday and came across this article on this new culinary adventure. It looks so crazy! And the cost.... Around $38,000 for a seating of 22 people! That is one astounding price tag! I wonder how the food is? And with a crane below, is it that atmospheric?

And okay the price DOES include 6 courses and wine but how much? And even if it were all you can drink... forget about it! Where would everyone take their trip to the loo? You cannot have this contraption going up and down like a carnival ride!

This restaurant experience is the brain chile of B elgian entrepreneur David Ghysels. Apparently they offer this mile-high dining in Europe and South Africa and a short appearance in Las Vegas this month. Should I rush out there? It is only a 5 hour drive! The photos above are in Amiens, France. Crazy, crazy, crazy! What will they come up with next? To learn more or see more photos visit:

If money were no object, would you do it? I suppose I might... maybe once. I will try (most) anything once!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Keeping it fresh

Cook capellini according to taste, preferably al denté. Sauté 2-4 cloves of garlic in extra virgin olive oil until beginning to color. Add sliced or diced tomatoes (in this case I used multi-colored tiny heirloom tomatoes... from Trader Joe's of course), chopped green onions and fresh basil. Cook for just as minute until warm. Add pasta and toss to coat. Slide into a shallow bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Dig in!

Great additions are Kalmata olives, bell peppers, vegetable of choice and crusty bread on the side.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Me Me Me Meme!

I was tagged by Jaime for a meme. Following are 6 words that describe me. Since I have 6 letters in my name, I decided an acrostic-type list was in order.







Below are 5 others I whose blogs I really enjoy and read regularly:

Miss Erin

Here are the rules:
1. Write your own six-word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post.
4. Tag five or six (choice is yours) more blogs with links.
5. Remember to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

A couple of images that are about me or of me!This is an illustration I did based on a painting I did which in turn was based off of a photo of my sister and I when we were little girls. I am the older one on the left! This illustration is now a note card and an invitation in my Miss 'N Nick Designs collection of stationery. For more of my work visit!
This is the only photo I could find of myself straight on in more than a year. It was just this last Christmas '07. I am with my family and they are part of who I am for sure! So it is à propos.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blogging with a Purpose Award

Thanks to Erin of Cooking and Eating in the Windy City, for honoring me with the Blogging with a Purpose award. I am so very flattered. Erin has a wonderful site and so many recipes that are worth trying. Much of her inspiration comes from her travels. She has also started her own cookbook challenge and is trying out all sorts of new interesting recipes from her collection.

After blogging for only about two months now, it is truly wonderful to know that there are people who appreciate my blog and the recipes. Thank you, Erin for acknowledging me. I am enjoying getting to know so many of you and your sites and recipes are just as inspiring.

It is my turn to pass the honor on to 5 blogs I read who I feel deserve this award.

1) Lisa from What We Eat. Shouting out from the "Emerald Isle," Erin has a slew of tasty recipes and as an American it is fun to see some of the differences between the normal fare there vs. here in the states. If you listen really carefully, you may also hear her sweet Irish lilt.

2) Taste Memory Girl. Drawing on flavorful memories of the past, Taste Memory Girl brings her experience as a foodie to create amazing dishes. With an emphasis on healthy choices and fresh food, she offers raw choices and some more decadent meals as well. Her eye for color and photography should also be noted.

3) Robin Sue of Big Red Kitchen. This self-proclaimed "short and sassy gal" is tall on taste and packs a ton of amazing dishes on her blog. If her photos and recipe suggestions aren't enough to whet your appetite (they do mine) then her red kitchen surely will! Red always make you hungrier.

4) Jaime at Burnt Toast. This southern girl says she is fairly new at cooking but her recipes and photos make like an old pro. And she has even started a meal plan for each week for those of you who need some weekly ideas or a schedule-- great for the busy mom!

5) Lori at The Recipe Girl. Lori is the most "seasoned" chef in the bunch with over 2000 recipes in her database. She is another So. Cal. girl and offers photos as tempting as her recipes. If you are ever at a loss for what to make, this girl will surely have some ideas. She is ready for her own show!

Award-winners, here's what you should do:
1. nominate 5 blogs which haven't had this award before
2. each of the blogs must have a purpose
3.the nominated blogs must make a link back to this page
4. the logo from the award must be put on their blog and it must link back to this blog!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bloggin' on Brunch Part 2... The Cinnamon Rolls!

Since the impetus for my brunch was the platinum chef challenge, I wanted to keep that post about the items I created for the challenge itself. But I had been looking for a reason (and plenty of time for rising) to make the cinnamon rolls with cream cheese glaze from Molly Wizenberg's column in Bon Appetit. My brunch on Sunday was the perfect opportunity to try them out.

I made the dough the night before. After the two hour rising time, it was bigger but didn't really seem to have doubled in bulk. I decided to wait just another 1/2 hour or so. I looked the same and I was exhausted so I put the bowl with the ball of dough in the refrigerator. First thing in the morning, I took it out and let it get to room temperature while I busied myself prepping other food, tidying the house etc...

After a couple hours, I continued on with th recipe and baked as directed. Unfortunately just before they were due to be done, my guests arrived and I was so busy greeting etc... that I forgot to take them out on time. (Note: I am horrible about using a timer. I feel all ovens are different and usually just go by instinct and how the food looks.) Fortunately I think it was only about 6 minutes too long. I think this did dry the rolls out a bit but all in all... VERY TASTY! Everyone gobbled them up! There were only two left at the end of the brunch. I'd say it was a hit!

I will for sure make these again. But next time I will do everything but the baking and glaze the night before. I will also take them out a little early as I prefer pastries to be under-done as opposed to overdone. I might also brush the outside of each with butter and the cinnamon sugar as that is the driest portion and who are we kidding, these ARE VERY fattening and full of sugar and calories and carbs so you might as well just push it to the limit and go for full flavor in each nook and cranny!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bloggin' on Brunch... The Platinum Chef Challenge!

Welcome to my first blogging event – The Platinum Chef Challenge. Kate at Paved with Good Intentions won the event last month so she has thrown down the challenge this month and chosen the 5 required ingredients.

These are: Capers, Leeks, Cream (heavy cream, light cream, creme freche, cream cheese....I leave it to your choice), Rosemary and Lemon.

My initial reaction to the ingredients (like a few others) was chicken piccata. I also considered making a creamy lemon pasta sauce with the above and had a few other wild hairs as well. But... I have been wanting to do a brunch and thought I might (operative word here) be more original if so. With the weather as hot as it has been, today was a great day for brunch too!

I created lemon rosemary scones with (a sort of) clotted cream AND leek omelettes filled with smoked salmon, capers, scallions, avocado and lemon dill cream. (At the last minute I whipped up some rosemary potatoes with caramelized leeks too). I know that is technically 3 things (and the challenge calls for only one or two) but... I had to do it.

My scones are based off of a recipe from my very good friend, Terri who was one of my first cooking partners way back in college. The great thing about the recipe is that it is so easy and versatile and even adjustable.

The recipe is:

2 cups flour
3-6 tbls. sugar (I use 6)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter (cold)
fruit (optional)
1/2 cup buttermilk (or other cream/milk based ingredient) In this case I used sour cream and heavy cream in lieu of the buttermilk

extra sugar for top

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda. Cut in the cold butter until pea size shapes form. Put in desired fruit. In this case I put in grated lemon peel and fresh chopped rosemary. Add the milk/liquid and stir until beginning to come together. At this point I get right in there with my hands and squish it into a ball. Add more cream or milk if it is too dry or more flour if too wet to make a ball. On a floured surface pat the ball down into a round disc about 1/2" thick. Cut into desired size wedges and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle granulated sugar on top of each wedge and cook at 350º until the bottom of scones is lightly browned. Sorry guys! I will have to time it for you next time. I don't usually go by time very often. But you must make these scones. In addition to being very easy, they are actually moist! So many scones are drier than dry! They taste great with dried cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, orange zest... You decide!

For the make-shift clotted cream, I whipped up some heavy cream with sugar and vanilla to taste. Then I added an equal part of sour cream and a squeeze of lemon. It is really tasty this way.

For the omelettes with salmon, I really wanted to the flavors to be subtle and complimentary to each other. I also felt that the egg/omelette should be a very thin disc, almost like a crepe.

I began by sautéing the leeks in a little butter and olive oil until wilted and beginning to color. When cool, I placed the leeks in a bowl with 8 eggs (one for each of the 6 adults I was serving plus 2 for good measure). I then whisked in a splash or two of heavy cream and seasoned with salt and pepper.

With my pan on medium heat, I melt butter and pour in the egg mixture. When the bottom side set, I CAREFULLY flipped the leek omelette over and cooked for another minute.

After sliding the egg crepe onto the plate, I assembled smoked salmon (compliments of Costco and excellent), lemon dill cream, capers, scallions and a slice of avocado. Then folded slightly for optimum presentation.

The dill cream was simply about 1/2 cup sour cream with the juice of 1/2 lemon and dried dill stirred in.

I had NOOOOOOOOOO idea how this would all turn out! It did not LOOK quite as perfect as I had envisioned but still fairly attractive and the taste... Well I am rather pleased with myself! None of the flavors over-powered the other. All were present in their own glory and seemed to be the perfect marriage.

The crowd seemed to be happy!

Along with the main dishes, I served coffee, Cava and pink lemonade (in lieu of champagne and orange juice), fruit AND the cinnamon rolls from Orangette's (Molly's) article in Bon Appetit. I have been dying to try them out and here was the perfect opportunity. Look for a post on the cinnamon rolls very very soon! They were amazing!

By the way... I used to be queen of sitting at my dinner parties with my hand in ice after burning myself. And just last week I was thinking about how it has been years. Apparently I did not knock on wood as I should have. Ohhh what I am willing to suffer for the sake of a challenge, for you, for art, for food, for passion! I burnt my finger on a hot pan! I now have a nice blister to remind me of the wonderful brunch today.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The lighter side of life...

I have been feeling guilty lately. I know I SHOULD be eating healthier, lighter and probably be on a diet. And here I sit and post about pizza, frying, cheese, bread, mayonnaise and the like. I don't want to be the cause of everyone loosing their waistline (including myself). So let me introduce you to one of my all-time favorite meals! Great for lunch or dinner or... I haven't had it for breakfast before but I don't see why you couldn't. It has been warm here in Southern California the last few days and today... downright HOT. This is the perfect meal in these conditions.

Prosciutto & Melon and Caprese Salad!

And the best thing is that if you can slice a tomato, you can make it. It takes about 10-15 minutes tops to slice and assemble and there is nothing so fresh and beautiful to eat.

Now if you can find yourself eating this while sitting on a patio in Positano overlooking the sea on a gorgeous spring day, you have reached near nirvana. I know. I have been there. Ooohhhh.... Memories....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

In record time!

The clock says 5:15 (pm). I haven't thought about dinner yet. It is high time I do so. Sometimes the whole "what should I make tonight" for a daily meal becomes a chore. Unless I am "creating" or "playing" or totally craving something in particular. So I ask Danielle from time to time what she thinks. Last night she said "pizza!!!" Like I had to ask! 95% of the time she would say pizza. I didn't think we needed to call the "pizza man". I didn't want a frozen one (I usually buy a frozen one for tired days or days when I get a chance to break away and have time to myself). Nicholas was still napping. He went down really really late (not totally unusual for my kids- we have a late schedule). Could I.... No... Not enough time for rising... But maybe.... ???

I run up to the computer and using the handy dandy Food Blog Search designed by Ximena of Lobstersquad, I type in "pizza dough". I get a list of Google searched blogs. I quickly give them a once over. Click on a few and speed down to rising time. Too long. Nope not this one, too long. I check out 3 or 4 and then... THERE IT IS! 20 minutes! YES! Andrea's Recipes had it. Do I have all the ingredients? Quick scan. Okay. No wheat flour. So what. I have bread flour. I use Andrea's recipe to the T guys! EXCEPT I just used 2 cups of bread flour (the higher gluten content helps the elasticity of the dough) instead of the wheat flour and all-purpose flour.

I ran downstairs with a post-it of ingredients and began throwing it in the mixer. My helper was all too pleased to help find and hand things off to me. The ball came together quickly and after a few minutes of needing, we let it "take a quick resty in order to grow up to be a big dough." It is 6:00 pm.

Pull out the sauce pot and can of chopped tomatoes. Dump in a little of this and a little of that. Quick quick. My helper begins a sad but faithful job of shredding cheese. I finish up for her. We finish in record time. But Nicholas still sleeps. The longer both he and the dough rest the better. We might as well clean up quickly.

It is 6:45. The oven is now at 450º. The pizza stone is hot. We roll out the dough.

It stretches nicely and easily rolls out into a thin disc. We like thin crust in our house. I slap it onto the paddle, brush a little olive oil and slide it onto the stone. Nicholas still sleeps.

About 5-7 minutes later, I quickly and carefully flip the dough and brush the other side with oil and cook for another 5 minutes.

Pull that baby out and slop on some sauce. Douse with a ton of cheese and throw it back in. Nicholas is still asleep. Better wake him. He doesn't like it but perks up at the smell of food and a fresh sippy cup of milk.

About 10 minutes later I pull out this beauty! Just as I set it on the counter, we hear the door open. Huh??? "Daddy!!!!!!!!!" the kids yell. Home from work surprisingly early. "Oh my favorite and I am hungry."

Well I had no idea I could pull this off so quickly. I have made plenty of pizzas before. But at this speed? No way. It was incredible and quite a rush. I cannot say that it is the best pizza I have ever had or made. But it was a long way off from the worst! It was rather tasty if I do say so myself! The four of us nearly polished off the whole thing. Andrea likens the dough to Trader Joe's prepared dough. I actually found it a little better but not my very favorite of doughs.

But wait! I am NOT done yet!

Emboldened by this brazen and yet pretty successful act, I pick up the extra dough that I purposely set aside. "Time to help mommy make doughnuts, Danielle!"

I had made Giada De Laurentiis's Italian doughnuts on one other occasion and decided to do so again. Why not? I was on a roll. They are so easy too. The dough is already made.

Heat the oil. Plop them in. Giada makes doughnut shapes (circles with holes in the middle) but really it doesn't matter. Danielle wanted hearts. Hearts are always good. I cut out a few holes too. Got lazy about that. Stopped putting holes in the center and some puffed up so cute and fluffy.

After cooling just a bit but still warm, roll them in some cinnamon sugar.

Giada also suggests making a chocolate glaze. I had some heavy whipping cream but not much and no milk chocolate. OH WELL! Dump the cream in a pot add some dark chocolate and a sprinkling of sugar. Good enough I imagine.

It didn't really set up that well though. And it was very rich.

And really just okay looking.

But the doughnuts with just the cinnamon sugar were so sweet and when warm, quite tasty too. They really hit the spot and are fun and easy. I do suggest eating them right away, however. After an hour or more, they seem limp and soggy and not worth it. The next day? Forget it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

An attempt at creativity

Jimson Weed, 1932 By Georgia O'Keeffe

Oops! Out of milk again. Time to head to the grocery store. It is either milk or bread that leads me to this home away from home at least two days a week. The kids DO love their milk.

Well today when wandering through the produce department and looking for the ingredients for Kate's Platinum Chef Challenge 6 (in which I have every intention to participate), I passed by the chile peppers and the Anaheim chiles called out, "Pick me, Pick me". And so I did. Not sure what I wanted to do with it though. (FYI: Chiles make me think of Santa Fe, NM. Santa Fe makes me think of Georgia O'Keefe. Hence the artwork above.)

It has been a month and a half of blogging for me now. I see some familiar faces stop by and feel you are friends. I also see some new faces commenting from time to time. That is so cool. And I feel I owe it to all of you to offer something creative and "foodie" and inspiring at least once a week. I mean food deals, hikes, rants and photos are all part of who I am but food is the fun stuff.

I felt the chiles were in order tonight. And I kept thinking something along the lines of chile relleno. I have only made stuffed chiles once before. It has been a while. I remember it wasn't easy. I also know I didn't feel like digging around for recipes or doing a lot of reading etc... So here is what I came up with just "winging it". I did have some pitfalls.

Here is what I created for you.

I began by roasting the chiles in the toaster oven until charred. Then I placed them into a plastic bag until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile I made a sauce with about half a bunch of cilantro, a tbls. of white wine vinegar, the juice of one or two limes, one garlic clove, one green onion chopped, a tablespoon of chopped jalapeno (in a can), about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of heavy cream or sour cream (I used a little of both) and salt and pepper to taste. I pureed this mixture in a blender until smooth. If I had an avocado on hand, I would have thrown that in too. It really makes it creamy and delicious. Oh since I wanted to add a little more substance and some vitamins I threw in a large handful of baby spinach leaves too.

You can all now add me to the list of the many bloggers I have read over the past week with little food flops. When my anaheim chile was cool, I removed the skin and seeds. The only problem is that it really came apart. I had 2 sad flabby flat flaps of chile! I glanced at a couple recipes on and they say to roast the chiles first. Do you know what I am doing wrong?

So I just placed some grated jalapeno jack cheese (I like spicey) with a little bit of Mexican 4 cheese blend on one of my little flaps and then put the other on top and tried to sort of enclose the cheese. Most relleno recipes dip the chiles in an egg white batter etc... But I don't really like too much coating nor did I want all that outer batter tonight. So I simply (and very very carefully) rolled my little bundle in some flour and then placed it very carefully again into a skillet with a layer of hot oil. When one side browned I continued to gingerly turn my creation with a set of tongs until browned on all sides. It wasn't too easy but happily it didn't fall apart too much either.

Meanwhile on another part of the stove, black beans and corn were simmering. For the kids I made a sort of taquito. I chopped up some of the left over sirloin from the night before and placed it and some cheese on a corn tortilla and rolled it and cooked it in the hot oil. The beans, corn and dollop of sour cream made a pretty little plate.

This is my final (cough cough) masterpiece?

Cheese stuffed chiles with cilantro lime cream

Actually it had a really nice flavor if a little lacking in the looks department. It was fairly light (but for the frying) with a nice light coating and texture. My cilantro sauce was very good but would have been better with avocado. This way however it would make a great dressing for a salad (I would also drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil) or tostada.

If you have experience stuffing chiles, please let me know your tips and tricks!

PS. The best chile relleno I have ever had was in Santa Fe. It was so long ago, however that I do not remember what the restaurant was. This relleno was not traditional though. It did not have the enchilada type sauce and had a very crispy outer coat. I don't remember much else. I do not like a chile relleno with too too much eggy coating or really soggy. The best chile relleno I have had in So. Cal. is at Taco Surf. They have great fish tacos too! We loved them when living in Seal Beach. Very surfer joint type of place.