Friday, October 29, 2010

Pasta Salad with Salmon

Since I've been writing this blog I frequently seem to find myself saying "When I was younger I didn't eat X, Y or Z".  Goodness, I didn't realize just how picky I was, and I'm beginning to think that it might be, my fault (just a teensy eensy bit...) that my kids are fairly picky as well.  Salmon is another one of those foods that I wouldn't have touched 10 years ago but I can't get enough of now.  

Try as I might, I don't always have the time to make a decent from scratch dinner with my full time afternoon chauffeuring job seeming to get into the way as I make my rounds in Carlsbad to soccer, dance and surf pick up and drop offs.  As such, I'm always on the lookout for an item that helps me manage my time in the evenings but is still a good quality, and tasty as well.  One of our favorite "go to" items on a busy night is Morey's Marinated Wild Salmon that I found at my local Costco.  (Morey's has not idea that I'm writing anything about them, but I wanted to pass this info on to anyone else looking for an extraordinarily tasty wild salmon that is ready to go!).  6 individually packaged fillets per box wait to simply be unwrapped, thawed and cooked.  Easy peasy on a weeknight without much time for cooking.  I set the rice on to cook, pop the fish on the grill, toss together a quick salad and we have dinner in no time!

Last night after driving to dance and soccer this is exactly what I did!  3 perfectly grilled salmon fillets were ready for dinner when my son politely informed me that he really wasn't hungry as he had made himself the most "amazingly awesome" meal... all from the freezer!  As he has seen me do so many times, he even took photos of his "heaven on a plate" (burritos and mini pizzas from Trader Joe's).   

Faced with 2 leftover fillets I threw together a Pasta Salad with Salmon this afternoon for lunch.  The marinated salmon worked wonderfully in the salad that was dressed with a creamy, lemon spiked dressing.  Tossed with pasta, onions, peas and apple and served over a bed of greens the salad was the perfect meal, not from the freezer.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ellie Krieger's Vanilla Spice Oatmeal

Some things are so simple.  Oatmeal for one... how hard is it to boil water, add oats and serve with milk?  This quintessential belly filling, body warming, bowl of goodness seems to be cooking at it's easiest.  But, it's a little lifeless, and well... boring.  

Growing up my dad had oatmeal topped with honey almost every day, and I always turned my nose up and poured myself a bowl of cold cereal.  When I got married, my husband also preferred oatmeal in the morning and I thought I'd give it another try.  Good, but like I said earlier, boring.  Raisins on top helped, but sugar made it too sweet and I went back to my cold cereal box.

However... last February my husband took me on a 14 day cruise to the South Pacific (oh how I love the Tropics!) on a small cruise ship called the Paul Gauguin (Cruise Critic Review here!).  Each morning our server, Joey, would save my seat and bring me a bowl of oatmeal topped with golden raisins, walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Wow!  What a difference these simple ingredients made!  I found myself actually craving that warm bowl even while basking in the humidity of Raiatea or Bora Bora. 

Yesterday while perusing one of my favorite books by Ellie Krieger, So Easy, I stumbled upon her recipe for Vanilla Spice Oatmeal.  With the sun shining bright this morning I mixed together the simple additions, including my prized Tahitian Vanilla Extract from our vacation, and sat down to a wonderful, tasty and "unboring" breakfast!  Closing my eyes I could almost feel the trade winds blowing the sweet, floral scent of vanilla through my kitchen.  Thank you, Ellie,  for spicing up my life!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sweet Potato Walnut Waffles

In an effort to get some sort of fruit or vegetable into the kid's diets I have resorted to fruit or veggie filled pancakes, muffins, breads or waffles.  Having inherited the "I must have carbs each and every day" gene from me I can always count on the plate of baked good being kindly received and by adding a measure of whole grains, eggs, nuts and milk they are getting a few of their food group requirements met in a package that works on the run.

Waffles have always been a favorite of Liv's and these Sweet Potato Walnut Waffles are no exception.  As the UPS Man so kindly left us a new waffle maker (oh how I love seeing these boxes on the doorstep!) we had the perfect opportunity to try it out.  She's not a huge nut fan, but if I put just a few in the batter she no longer complains.  Walnuts, with their heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and a measure of vitamin E have been shown to be exceptionally good for you in moderation.  Chopped and added to the waffle batter they not only provide a health benefit, but give a wonderfully welcome texture as well as their nutty flavor.  A few tablespoons of ground flax meal only increase the benefits.

Versatility is another benefit of this recipe as any sort of squash will work well in place of the sweet potato.  I happened to have sweet potato on hand and a few tablespoons of pumpkin left over from our recent Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and mixing the two together gave an additional vitamin and fiber boost to the waffles.  Spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a pinch of cloves your kitchen will be a haven of fall!

Sweet Potato Walnut Waffles
recipe by Kim Kelly - Liv Life

⅔ cup pureed sweet potato, pumpkin or other squash
1¼ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbs ground flax meal
2½ tsp baking powder
2-4 Tbs finely chopped walnuts
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
⅛ tsp nutmeg
pinch cloves
1¼ cup milk
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 eggs
1½ Tbs vegetable oil
¾ tsp vanilla extract

Puree or mash left over sweet potato with a bit of water to obtain the consistency of canned pumpkin... I had left over baked sweet potatoes and mixed 1-2 Tbs Tbs of water during pureeing as mine were fairly dry.

Lightly spoon flours into measuring cups and level with a knife, pour into a medium mixing bowl with flax, baking powder, walnuts and spices.  In a smaller bowl combine the pureed sweet potato or pumpkin, milk, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla, whisking until smooth.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently, just until combined.  Add additional milk or water if the mixture is too thick.

Ladle the batter into your waffle maker per your makers directions and cook for about 4 minutes, or per your makers directions, or until cooked through and lightly browned.

Serve with additional chopped walnuts, butter and syrup!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Who doesn't like a good homemade cinnamon roll?  Popped into the oven early in the morning the sweet goodness permeates every room in your home drawing sleepy kids from bed.  Beginning the day with a smile and a, "Wow Mom... that smells so good!"  is always treat to a Mom's ears and a nice way to start the day.

Cooking Light provided a version of this keeper years ago that I adapted to work for me, and I feel good serving it to my family in place of other recipes that are higher in fat and calories.  On occasion I add a portion of spelt or whole wheat flour in place of the all purpose to bump up the health meter, and I'm thrilled to have the fiber and beta-carotene rich pumpkin included in the mix.  Filled with the usual butter, cinnamon and brown sugar and topped with a sweet glaze these tender rolls are a hit every time.  We keep a few cans of pumpkin in the pantry just for this oft requested recipe.  The lightly orange hued rolls are a sweet treat for any table!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

¾ cup room temp milk
½ cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
2½ Tbs butter, cut into small pieces
1 Tbs sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
generous ⅛ tsp nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat or spelt (may use all all-purpose)
2 tsp dry yeast

2½ Tbs butter, melted
⅓ cup brown sugar
generous 2 tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
2½+ tsp milk (add enough to make a thick glaze)

Place dough ingredients into a bread machine programmed for the dough cycle.  Process as directed by your machine.  If using bread macing skip the next paragraph.

Alternatively, process dough ingredients in a stand mixer or by hand - will need to knead approximately 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.  When kneaded place the dough in a large bowl sprayed with cooking spray and allow to rise about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

When dough cycle is complete, dump onto a well floured surface and punch down.  Allow to rest for a few minutes while you are melting the butter and obtaining ingredients for filling.  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray - I use a rectangular dish slightly larger than a 9x9, enough to fit 16 rolls.

Roll the dough into a large rectangle, about ½ inch thick.  Brush the rolled dough with the melted butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar.  Add extra sugar if the entire surface is not covered.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the brown sugar, feel free to adjust the cinnamon measurement to your taste.  Starting with the longest edge, begin to carefully roll the dough into a fairly tight roll.

Preheat oven to 375º.

With a sharp knife cut the rolls into 16 pieces and place flat into the baking dish, I do 4 rows of 3 rolls each row.  Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for about half of an hour. (Alternatively, you may cut the rolls a bit thicker into 12 slices and use a 9x9 square baker).

Bake for about 18 - 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on a rack while you are preparing the glaze.  For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla and enough milk to make a thick, yet still "drizzable" glaze.  Whisk until smooth.  Spoon the glaze over warm rolls and serve.  The rolls melt in your mouth when warm, but are equally delicious hours later when they are cold.  To return to "fresh from the oven" goodness, microwave for 10-30 seconds (depending on your microwave!).

I love the ones that pop out of the center!  Sweet cinnamon goodness!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Orange Cranberry Bread

Cranberries symbolize the arrival of fall and the approach of the holiday season which is seemingly sneaking up on me.  As a young girl I was never very fond of the jiggly "stuff" that came out of the can in a sort of gigantic bullet shape - except on a leftover turkey sandwich.  However, the discovery of a new world of cranberry delights has opened my eyes and reined me in as a cranberry fan with freshly made sauces and relishes, muffins, cakes and breads.  With the ability to purchase the berries in a dried form, cranberries aren't just for Thanksgiving anymore!

Slightly sweet Orange Cranberry Bread marries the citrus/tart flavors in a bread that easily comes together with the touch of a button in the trusty bread machine.  Bright with orange juice and orange peel this bread is a perfect blend of fall flavors, but it's fresh, light tastes feature themselves just as nicely on your spring Easter table.

Toasted with a smear of butter the bread is a pure delight.  Soaked in an egg batter with cinnamon and topped with pure maple syrup the bread becomes decadent!  Liv and her brother both asked for seconds this morning as they gobbled their Orange Cranberry French Toast with weekend gusto.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

Tag!  I'm it!  The food blog world has recently been hit with a round of tag where bloggers answer a series of questions about themselves and then move on to tag others with a round of new questions.  I must apologize as I have been remiss in acknowledging my tags and will answer all my questions below our recipe!  

Becky from Baking and Cooking, a Tale of Two Loves was the first to tag me.  Reading through the questions she answered I discovered that we actually have a lot in common (one of the benefits of this tag game!)... I also wanted to be a teacher when I was younger and given the opportunity I would love to cook with Rick Bayless!  

Dionne, from Try Anything Once, was the next person to tag me.  Dionne's blog is one that I read nearly every day.  She has a wonderful way of putting a good spin on everything and always brings a smile to my face.  On more than one occasion her Facebook or blog comments have materially improved my mood!  Again, I found things in common... summer definitely being my favorite season and the fact that we both have no problem eating food cold.

RavieNomNoms, authored by Raven - our recent giveaway winner - tagged me next.  Raven's posts often include wonderful recipes and I love seeing the photos of her life.  While I agree with Raven that Ireland is definitely on my wish list to visit, I'll just have to wish that my favorite food was carrots!  As much as I'd like to think I'd make a healthy choice, my favorite food would most likely end up including things like flour and probably butter.

Trying to lose a pound or two before my upcoming weekend on Oahu (bikini in December??) has had me see a reduced carb intake.  However... a few cold, rainy days here in San Diego have unfortunately given me cravings for potatoes.  Potatoes have not really been on my menu for months, but walking through Trader Joe's I couldn't resist grabbing a bag of russets from the endcap, thoughts of creamy Baked Potato Soup running through my head.  Bacon is another ingredient not high on my list, but without the signature salty crunch, this soup would be lacking.  Sour cream provides a creamy tang and a sprinkle of cheese, green onions and avocado make this soup comfort at it's best.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pear Brandy Butter

Liv is asking for her own Facebook page.  My immediate answer was, "Oh no!  You are too young and you don't need that!".  However she quickly pointed out that I have my own page and that even our blog has a page.  Why can't she have one too?  I have mixed feelings on the issue of a young girl having her own Facebook page, but I have to say that I really do enjoy mine!  

Over the years many people cross our path and then end up taking a different path out of our lives.  Facebook has allowed me to catch up with some of those friends who I most likely would have completely lost touch with.  From my computer here in Carlsbad I saw Annalies compete in gymnastics in Maryland, Carli make the competition cheer team in Indiana, Marla's surprise birthday party in Kentucky and Peggy's umpteen jars of canned produce from her own trees in Humbolt County!

Green Beans, Apple and Peach Pie Filling, Applesauce and Tomatoes... all in one day!
Peggy and I went to high school together a few (many...) years ago and have reconnected through Facebook.  While I have never been to her home in Humbolt County I know that she is frequently busy in her yard caring for and pruning what sounds to be quite an orchard!  Trees including apple, pear, cherry, peach, plum and the occasional kiwi vine keep her family busy picking fruit and canning the produce, providing endless jars of amazing treats as we see above.

Pear tree off to the left...
A Facebook comment led me to ask for and receive this wonderful recipe for Pear Brandy Butter from Peggy's wife, and with a bowl of ripe organic pears on my counter I had the perfect main ingredient for this sweet sauce.  Having never made, used or tasted any sort of fruit butter before I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but this fruit butter was a "sinch" to make.  The house smelled like fall and the recipe provided a beautifully colored sauce somewhat reminiscent of a fairly thick, pureed apple sauce.

Now what to do with it?  Peggy recommends using it as you would an apple butter, maybe on toast or a muffin, or as a side or glaze to pork or chicken.  I for one can vouch that it is wonderful atop my morning oatmeal and I'm guessing that my dad will use his over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Which ever way you choose to use yours, this simple recipe is definitely worth a batch or two. 

How do you use your fruit butters??

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chocolate Banana Crepes

Liv is addicted to crepes!  Good thing we discovered that crepes are super easy to make and that the little pancakes are extraordinarily versatile.  Sweet Strawberry Crepes were our first attempt so many months ago quickly followed by Peach.  Today we went a whole new direction and made the whole thing chocolate!  

After a searching for the perfect recipe we settled on an adaption to one we found on MegKat's blog.  Her photos alone gave us cravings!  A simple crepe batter mixed with powdered sugar and cocoa delivered rich, chocolaty crepes in a flash.  Her addition of a homemade chocolate sauce (we did a kid and adult version!) sent these little wraps over the top.  

Liv's first bite brought an odd look to her face giving me a momentarily thought of concern, however, within seconds her bright smile spread even broader than usual followed by, "Wow!  I have never, and I mean never, had anything this good!"  Admittedly bananas and chocolate are two of her favorite ingredients,  add in a dusting of powdered sugar and you have Liv Heaven!

The chocolate sauce made us both swoon, but I think it may have been the addition of a splash of Grand Marnier that did it for me!  I can easily see this sauce used over a chilly bowl of Vanilla Ice Cream, or better yet Coffee Ice Cream.  Overall, the crepes provided a wonderful chocolaty treat with a healthy banana addition (I think Liv actually ate 2 1/2 bananas!).  Chocolate, banana and a big smile, we have Liv's stamp of approval.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blue Cheese Walnut Spread

Perusing the Foodgawker site today a photo from DG stood out from the crowd.  A simple mound of cheese topped with chopped walnuts surrounded by apples.  Hmmm... a shot that definitely deserved further investigation.  The cheese turned out to be a creamy Blue Cheese Walnut Spread.   So simple, a mixture of cream and blue cheeses topped with walnuts.  As a blue cheese fan, this seemed to be something for me.

Frequently as I'm preparing dinner my husband and I will share a glass of wine along with some sort of appetizer as we rehash the day.  However, work frequently takes him away for varying periods of time and I'm left to fend for myself with no one to talk to.  Tonight was one of those nights with my love thousands of miles away in Shanghai.  Usually I don't partake in the appetizer or wine when he is gone, but this recipe looked so appealing that I couldn't resist!

30,000 feet... the road to Shanghai
A quick internet search showed numerous recipes for similar spreads, but as I read though, I kept returning to the simplicity of this one.  3 ingredients mixed together, sliced fruit and a glass of wine... what could be easier?   Loving blue cheese like I do, I did increase the blue to cream cheese ratio and decided to mix some of the walnuts into the spread in addition to adding a sprinkle to the top.  A bowl of perfectly ripe organic pears sitting on my counter waiting to be sliced filled the fruit portion and I was off to check for wine.  Scanning the wine "cellar" I chose a nice Merlot (hopefully it wasn't that expensive bottle he was saving!) and poured a much needed glass.

Spreading a bit of the cheese onto my perfect pear the aroma of the blue cheese wafted before me.  The first bite was absolutely amazing...  So much better than I had ever imagined something so simple could be!  With the holidays just around the corner, this recipe will definitely be showcased.  Perfect for the buffet table or simply a quick appetizer for rehashing the day... it's a keeper.  Good on it's own, but better shared!.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Scones

I seem to be a bit behind the power curve, but I'm finally beginning to channel my inner pumpkin!  Pumpkin Pancakes have been the breakfast of choice more than once in the last few weeks and after reading on a now forgotten blog that there might be a pumpkin shortage I picked up a number of cans on a recent Trader Joe's run.  Cold, drizzly San Diego is definitely urging me in the comfort food direction and today Pumpkin Scones seemed to fit the bill.  

A search for recipes didn't provide many variances, and Starbucks seems to have the recipe of choice.  Though I have not actually had the scones from the coffee house itself, the highly recommended and gushed over recipe appeared to be a must try.  Similar recipes turned up over and over from the Brown Eyed Baker blog to WeHeartFood to Pennies on a Platter and on to numerous others.  Seems this is "the" recipe to try!  

Our version is very close to the others - only a bit of tweaking to suit our tastes.  I substituted spelt flour for some of the all-purpose with the sole intention of making me feel like I was making the pastries somewhat healthier (you may use all all-purpose if you don't have spelt).  With cinnamon and ginger high on our spice list I increased those and decreased the clove to all but a pinch.  Amazing that just a pinch of clove is still noticeable to our sensitive taste buds... not really a favorite flavor, but definitely missed if deleted completely.

Tender pastry is then topped with an egg wash and my favorite raw sugar to give that oft desired crunch.  Glazed with not one, but two sweet glazes these pastries are bursting with the flavors of fall and a definite comfort on chilly, drizzly days!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hummus with Garlic, Cumin & Lemon

A few weeks ago I discovered just how easy it is to make hummus.  Not only is it easy, but homemade hummus tastes far better than store bought.  While I thought my last hummus was good, this one surpasses its predecessor by leaps and bounds!  The addition of lemon juice and a touch of soy sauce give this dip a savory edge that is irresistible.

Garbanzo beans whirred in the food processor provide a high fiber, cholesterol lowering punch, with the addition of heart healthy olive oil only increasing the goodness of this savory snack.  Add a side of broccoli, carrots or zucchini and you have a snack you can feel good about.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stuffed Roasted Peppers

I can remember my dad being so happy when he would pull up to the table and mom would place a big plate of bright red peppers, standing on end and stuffed with "something".  I also remember thinking with dismay, "I'm not eating that... yuck!"  I could never figure out why dad was so happy, but he always cleaned his plate with gusto and ended the meal with a satisfied smile on his face.

However!  As I have matured (read: aged!) I have come to appreciate peppers of all kinds.  Spicy green jalapeños and serranos, bright red and orange sweet globes, and my most recent favorite, the poblano.  I love these deep green, somewhat heart shaped beauties roasted to bring out their flavor.  Mild, they usually don't add much spice, just an extra layer complexity and a rich chili flavor to whatever dish you are choosing to use them in.  

Our local farmers market has had mounds of these shiny peppers for the past few weeks and I ended up with a bagful that needed to be used.  Thumbing through Fine Cookings Weeknight Dinner edition the Roasted Stuffed Poblanos caught my eye.  Was I brave enough to eat a whole pepper, not cut up into pieces and mixed with other ingredients?  Actually eat the pepper as a vessel for the the stuffing?  Yes!!  And I'm so glad that I did.  My husband didn't quite have the same happy look as my dad when he pulled up to the table, but he did push away with the satisfied smile and a comment that this recipe is "a keeper".

Roasted on the grill before being stuffed with chicken, corn, tomatoes, onions and rice, and topped with a creamy layer of sharp cheddar cheese, poblanos do indeed make a wonderful vessel!  The versatility of this dish makes a quick weeknight preparation easy as you can stuff the pepper with whatever you may have on hand in advance and simply warm in the oven when ready.  I happened to have some leftover corn and rice in the fridge which turned out to be perfect additions to the sautéed chicken and tomatoes.

As I pushed my plate empty away after eating the entire contents I sat back with a satisfied sigh and a smile.  I guess I'm growing up... my mom will be so proud!!


Before heading to our Stuffed Poblano recipe I wanted to announce RavieNomNoms as the winner to our first ever giveaway!  Chosen at random by a mathematical formula derived by Liv (she and her brother both picked a number at random, added them together and then divided by 2), RavieNomNoms is the winner of a $45 gift card to the CSN Stores with merchandise ranging from end tables to cookware to pet Halloween costumes!.  Liv had asked for a comment on "What food helps you to Liv Life in a yummier way" and RavieNomNom's food is garlic!  Thank you to CSN for sponsoring this giveaway and allowing us to award the card.  I'm sure it will be put to good use!!  And hearty thank you also to everyone who entered and supported Liv's first ever guest post.  She read each and every one of the responses and smiled at your comments.  Congratulations RavieNomNoms!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tomato Soup with Parmesan Crisps

Today was a good day.  I spent lunch time with the kids and staff of Kelly Elementary where everything is getting mostly back to normal after the school shooting last week (I wrote about it here).  Helping the kids to feel comfortable on the field again was a group of lovely people who brought their therapy dogs, Oz - a giant loveable newfoundland, Izzy - one of the sweetest golden retrievers I've ever met, and Anastasia - a blonde lab who loves to give kisses.

Anastasia giving healing kisses!
Izzy's handler brought an entourage of kids to the field where the shooting occurred and no less than 30 kids conquered their fears as they queued up to throw her sticky tennis ball.  She ran so hard that she eventually slowly loped down the field, picked up the ball and with a backwards glance proceeded to walk 10 feet in the opposite direction only to plop down with her tongue hanging to the side and all the kids laughing and yelling for her to come back.

No amount of thanks is enough for these people who donated their energies and time to help our kids.  Each one patiently talking to all ages of children, listening where appropriate and gently coaxing them to return to some sense of normalcy.  Truly a gift.

Oz... taking a break!
On returning home, with my husband asking if there was anything for lunch, I was thrilled to have homemade tomato soup ready and waiting (an unusual moment of preparedness!).  A side of grilled cheese perfectly complemented the roasted tomato flavors which were enhanced with aromatic garlic and onions.  A few tablespoons of cream stirred in at the last minute added a nice creaminess.  A dollop of pesto and a sprinkle of salty Parmesan Crisps made for a perfectly satisfying afternoon meal on our chilly and gray, but very happy day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf with Feta & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Turkey craft we made in Girl Scouts many years ago!
Most people know me with my camera in my hand.  I've shot soccer games, school field trips, Girl Scout events, dance competitions, landscapes and seascapes on vacation, Easter egg hunts, etc. etc. etc.  A few of my friends have even stopped brining their cameras to these events as they know that I'll always have mine with me.  

Food photography though has really gotten me... I can't get good shots consistently and I'm finding it more than frustrating.  Lighting, depth of field and most importantly food styling are all issues that I've been struggling with.  Sometimes the shot works... more often than not... it doesn't!  

This brings us to Giada De Laurentis' Turkey Meatloaf.  A popular dish in my household and one most definitely worth sharing!  Locally grown, organic sun dried tomatoes from our farmers market baked beautifully into the turkey adding a touch of texture along with their zesty tomato flavor.  The feta in the mix was a real treat, especially as it is one of my new favorite treats.  Aromatic garlic and onion round out the flavors providing the perfect complement to the mouthwatering turkey.  

As tasty as this dish is, I couldn't get a photo that did it justice... I've come to the conclusion that meatloaf is not pretty.  I tried inside, outside, as a loaf, as a few slices, on a plate with salad, on a plate alone.  No, it is just not an appetizing photo.  It is however a very appetizing dish that will make its way into our regular rotation!  Hence, I'm providing this lovely photo of Giada, who has one of the most engaging smiles and always seems so happy in place of my own shot.  She is far more attractive than her meatloaf!

Photo credit: She Knows Entertainment

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scones with Golden Raisins and Tropical Glaze

In keeping with our recent tropical theme we present Scones with Golden Raisins and a sweet tropical glaze.  While I'd love to take full credit for the tropical glaze that took these scones over the top, I have to admit that it came about more out of lack of ingredients (orange or lemon juice) rather than a master plan.  None the less, the Organic Trader Joe's Strawberry, Orange, Banana Juice that we substituted for the missing orange or lemon was an excellent tropical topping for these tender scones.

Golden raisins add a sweetness to the dough that when combined with the tropical tasting glaze created the ideal melt in your mouth pastry.  These plump golden raisins were not only organic, but locally grown and dried.  Plump, pretty and bursting with flavor, these raisins are found at our Leucadia Farmers Market.  I first noticed the pretty little bags, finished with a tie of raffia, a few weeks ago and purchased a bag to make Oatmeal Cookies... somehow I ended up eating the whole thing out of hand!  I don't think I've ever had a raisin other than the bag of Dole raisins that comes from Costco and I was quite surprised at the amount of flavor bursting from each one.  

Mixed into our scone pastry dough these tasty raisins perfectly complemented the sweet, Strawberry Orange Banana glaze that topped the finished goods.  Perfect with your morning cup of coffee, or as Liv used them, as breakfast on the run on your way to school, these treats are a bright start to your day!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

Sending your child off to school at the tender age of 5 is sometimes difficult.  As I dropped my son in the kindergarten rooms at Kelly Elementary some 9 years ago and watched him walk into the classroom with tears streaming down his face I continued out to the car with duplicate tears falling down my own cheeks.  The 4 hours that he was gone seemed to last an eternity, but I knew he was safe.  Thoughts of "bad guys" entering our school trying to hurt any of our children never entered my mind.  Yet that is exactly what happened at Kelly Elementary in Carlsbad, CA last Friday. 

Details are still sketchy, but at 12:15 PM, lunchtime, a man hopped the school fence and began shooting into a group of 2nd and 3rd graders on the playground.  Circumstances could have been so much worse, and we count our blessing that only two girls were superficially wounded in the ordeal as a couple of nearby construction workers (our local heros) tackled the shooter to the ground, sustaining him until police arrived.  Children who heard the shots and saw the man ran for distant classrooms and safety with stories of little heros emerging such as one 8 year old girl stopping to carry her injured 7 year old friend.  

There is no word regarding the, "Why?" that everyone is asking.  The school was on lockdown for a number of hours and the two injured girls were life flighted to Children's Hospital.  Their physical wounds have been tended to, but I can't imagine the psychological scars that will remain to be dealt with. 

Every parents nightmare is to be involved in this situation... this is something that you read about in People Magazine, or hear on the Nightly News happening in some other city.  But it happened here.  My own children were blocks away at different schools, Liv having promoted from Kelly Elementary, our home for the last 9 years, last June.  My husband and I nevertheless rushed to Liv's school to be ready for pickup and to just be there as word was that there was one more suspect in the area.  Our phones were in constant action receiving news from Kelly Elementary just a few blocks away and arranging rides for older children as our friends were at Kelly anxiously waiting to be reunited with their little ones.

Liv had two of her girlfriends over last night, returning life to girl giggling and a bit of normalcy.  They didn't talk much about the incident and enjoyed a good movie along with a big bowl of popcorn with extra butter while wrapped up in toasty blankets and comfy pajamas.   The sun rose again this morning bringing pangs of hunger which we immediately filled with a big batch of our favorite Pumpkin Pancakes drenched in maple syrup.  Light and fluffy with a nice autumn spice, these pancakes most definitely hit the spot.  

Pumpkin Pancakes
Thick batter cooks into light, fluffy, spiced cakes of pumpkin goodness!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup spelt flour (may sub A/P flour)
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 1/2 cups milk (I use nonfat)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil
bananas, nuts and/or raisins for topping

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.  In a small bowl wish together the milk, pumpkin, eggs and oil.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined, being careful not to overmix.  The batter will be thick!  Ladle batter in desired portions over a nonstick pan or griddle and flip when bubbles begin to break on the tops.  Cook another few couple of minutes and remove from griddle.  

Liv says these are best served plain and drenched with maple syrup, but I prefer mine topped with sliced banana, a spoonful of raisins and a sprinkle of walnuts!  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Passionfruit Melting Moments

Wandering through our local farmer's market with my bags of treasured heirloom tomatoes, prized golden raspberries and crisp, freshly picked red leaf lettuce, an intense, tropical fragrance drew my attention.  Following the heady scent I was led a table where a little Asian lady sat knitting with just a few baskets of odd-looking purplish orbs in front of her.  One of these round fruits had been cut open revealing its bright orange and seed studded interior in addition to releasing the sweet tropical fragrance.  Without asking a single question she smiled, nodded her head and simply said, "Passionfruit."  Closing my eyes I was momentarily transported to the Kapiolani Market on the island of Oahu complete with fresh cut mangoes, fragrant tuberoses woven into leis, and the aromatic passionfruit completing my momentary fantasy.  Dragging myself back to reality I realized that I had no idea what I would do with one of these baskets of tropical goodness, but I had to have one!

My prized passionfruit basket by my side, I began an internet search for recipes. Among the Passionfruit Margaritas, smoothies, sorbets and tropical cosmos I discovered this delicate Australian recipe for Passionfruit Melting Moments.  Small, elegant shortbread-like discs are sandwiched together with the ethereal passionfruit filling providing a moment of tropical heaven.  Serving them to my mom and a girlfriend, the three of us sampled the little treats giving immediate groans of pleasure.  Liv also closed her eyes upon her first taste and a smile spread across her face as she reached for a second... and then a third.

Ripe passionfruit, slightly crinkled on the outside
Passionfruit - seeds, juices and membranes can all be used!
The perfect, light treat for a holiday dessert tray or a special tropical delight tied up in a pretty little box, these delectable passionfruit cookies will bring a moment of tranquility to your busy day.