Sunday, January 26, 2014

Homemade Whole Wheat Pita

Homemade Whole Wheat Pita

What could be better than a soft pita fresh from the oven?  Well... how about if that pita was soft and fresh from your oven??

With only 4 ingredients, homemade pita is easier than you think.  Adaptable to your tastes, either all-purpose or nutty whole wheat flour can be used with equally successful results, and before you know it, the aromas floating from your oven will draw family members away from their personal tech devices and you'll have smiling faces actually chatting in your kitchen.  Well... I can't promise they will put the tech gadgets down, but if they don't it's probably just because they're posting to Instagram (just like I did!).

Homemade Whole Wheat Pita
Hot Bread!!
Served warm, pita is a delight with hummus or simply spread with plain ole butter.  But the "pocket" in the pita is what makes this bread unique.  Whether it be spread with hummus and stuffed with cucumber, arugula, tomato, onion and avocado (my personal favorite), or turned into a ham and cheese pocket, pita makes an ideal meal to go.

Make your own, and make them often.  You'll never be able to go back to store bought.

Homemade Whole Wheat Pita

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Espresso Martini with Homemade Coffee Liquor #CocktailDay

Welcome to Cocktail Day, a multi-blogger event co-hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic, Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake, and Donna of Cookistry. We are raising our glasses to toast you all with some unique and delicious cocktails and mocktails in anticipation of the Big Game and Valentine’s Day. Be sure to bookmark or pin these creative beverages for your next gathering. We hope you enjoy this marvelous event and the incredible giveaways from our generous sponsors. Cheers!


How do you like your martini??  Shaken?  Stirred?  Traditional with gin or perhaps vodka and possibly flavored?  In a proper martini glass or a simple tumbler??

Apparently the perfect martini is somewhat elusive and best served with quality ingredients in a delicate martini glass.  It's been said that a proper martini is made with gin and one part vermouth, then strained into a chilled stemmed martini glass - anything else must have an adjective to describe the martini, such as a Vodka Martini, etc.

As for me, I'd just like to like any martini.  Having grown up on James Bond movies, I most certainly would order my martini shaken and not stirred, and as James prefers the Vodka Martini, I would want the same.

Hence, some 20 years ago that's exactly what I ordered, and heavens that is one strong drink - especially for this lightweight!  Tasted to me only of alcohol, and I didn't find a single thing pleasing about the experience with the exception of the shaker and the glass.

To this day, I'm not really fond of martinis, but because I love that sexy glass so much, I keep trying.  And today I have a martini I've enjoyed, though I'm not sure it would classify as a proper martini, as it's made with homemade coffee liquor, espresso and vodka.

Following a recipe I found online, the finished product was the most pleasing martini I've enjoyed, but for myself I'd take away some of the sweetness, allowing more of the pure espresso flavors to shine through.  Coffee Liquor is, for the most part, fairly sweet.  Hence, creating this cocktail allows you to follow your sweet tooth, or lack there of by mixing around the ingredients until you find your perfect version.

But before we reach for the shaker, take a peek at this fabulous giveaway in honor of #CocktailDay!

Our sponsors for Cocktail Day are Molecule-R, Page St. Publishing, Race Point Publishing, Fair Winds Press, Microplane, and Not So Simple Syrup. Molecule-R can be found on facebook, and YouTube

Molecular gastronomy can be defined as the fusion of food science and culinary arts. Molecular gastronomy by Molecule-R is a cookbook with stunning recipes explained and illustrated with the intelligence and aesthetic beauty that defines the MOLECULE-R brand.  Mojito R-Evolution teaches you how to deconstruct your mojito into floating mint caviar and spectacular foams or encapsulate your favorite cocktail into a sphere that will explode in your mouth.  Margarita R-Evolution teaches you how to create a margarita slush topped with a fresh lemon mousse, add a splash of colour by creating blue azure suspended pearls or encapsulate your margarita into an edible cocktail! Cosmo R-Evolution teaches you how to add a molecular twist to your traditional cosmo sure to awe your guests.  Serve a cosmopolitan bubble on a spoon that will pop in your mouth, top off your cocktail with a light fluffy cranberry foam or suspend citrus caviar in your drink.

Microplane can be found on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Microplane is a division of family-owned Grace Manufacturing Inc., a long-standing company specializing in the crafting of precision thin metal parts for home and industrial use.  The versatile Ultimate Citrus Tool features Microplane’s surgical grade stainless steel Fine blade. In addition, the Ultimate Citrus Tool features two decorative garnishing blades in a large (.300-inch diameter) and small (.180-inch diameter) size. The blades are made in the USA and are dishwasher safe. Microplane’s sleekly designed and multi-functional Bartender’s Garnishing Tool easily opens bottles, effortlessly zests oranges, lemons, limes, and other types of citrus fruits, and is dishwasher safe.

Not So Simple Syrup can be found on Facebook, and Twitter. Not So Simple Syrup is a a small, local maker of simple syrups. Heidi and Barbie's passion is to create all natural syrups that inspire and stimulate your pension for amazing mixed drinks as well as iced teas and non-alcoholic beverages too. They pride themselves on individual service. When you purchase a NSSS product, you can be sure that it received their personal stamp of approval. The Not So Simple Syrup Survival Gift Basket has two flavours of delicious all natural Not So Simple Syrup, a muddler for the perfect Mojito you might want to create, two glasses and a bar towel.

The list of prizes for Cocktail Day: 2 Individual Copies of Molecule Gastronomy by Molecule-R Cookbook 1 Set of Mojito R-evolution (Molecular Mixology Kit) 1 Set of Margarita R-evolution (Molecular Mixology Kit) 1 Set of Cosmo R-evolution (Molecular Mixology Kit) 1 Copy of The Architecture of the Cocktail sponsored by Race Point Publishing 1 Copy of Apothecary Cocktails sponsored by Fair Winds Press 1 Copy of The Best Craft Cocktails and Bartending with Flair sponsored by Page St. Publishing 1 Not So Simple Gift Basket 1 Microplane Bartender’s Garnishing Tool 1 Microplane Citrus Tool
***This giveaway is intended for each prize to have a separate winner! No person can win multiple prizes. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only . Winners will be chosen by random draw. The winners will be notified via e-mail, and have 3 days to respond or another winner will be chosen.***

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Heart-Healthy Fluffy Vegan Pancakes

Fluffy Heart-Healthy Vegan Pancakes - Don't wiat till the weekend to make these!

Little white balls of fluff... who knew they could worm their way into your heart so easily??  Just four years ago we brought these Maltese litter mates home at 10 weeks of age and weighing just over a few pounds each.  They tested every bit of patience I had as they chewed, bit and peed their way through my house, and on more than one occasion I was sorely tempted to send them back.

But then something happened.  They settled into a routine, they did their business outside and they looked to me with undying love nearly every moment of the day.  I'm not sure exactly when, but I began loving these guys with all my heart.

They follow me throughout the day and one or both of them usually hops onto my lap whenever the opportunity is given.  Their big brown eyes exude happiness and pure love to our whole family and my heart simply breaks when they are sick.

Unfortunately, these last few weeks we've seen our share of sick pups.  One experienced a severe allergic reaction on Christmas Day and had me up worrying about him most of the night.  The vet gave meds the next day, but his sad little eyes didn't understand that the meds would take a little bit of time to work.  Needing medicine throughout the night to help him breathe, I slept little for days as I listened for any struggle during the night.  Luckily, his attack has passed and now we wait for a blood test to see what might have caused the whole experience.

Then a few days ago I treated the two to an after dinner treat of grilled mahi mahi, an old favorite that we haven't had in quite some time.  Apparently... too long of a time, and the change in diet caused the next pup to become sick.  Lethargic, weak and with the saddest brown eyes you've ever seen, my husband and I took turns holding the boy for two days until his digestive system bounced back on track.

With both boys finally feeling better, my heart is bursting with love and I'm hoping to keep it that way.  Hence... we've been eating these better than I ever thought they could be heart-healthy pancakes for the last few days for breakfast.

Fluffy Heart-Healthy Vegan Pancakes

Not really looking for a vegan pancake, I stumbled across a similar recipe while searching for heart-healthy versions.  With no added oil or eggs, these pancakes feature whole grains, hints of vanilla, and refreshing chunks fruit in the form of blueberries or banana (or any other fruit your heart desires!).

Having my doubts about the texture without the egg, I simply had to see if these pancakes could live up to the hype.  Would my family reject them in favor of our usual version with eggs and oil?   Would the texture be dense and dry?  Could a pancake without an egg really be good?

I'm happy to say yes to all of the above, and the reception to these flapjacks was quite the opposite of my doubts, even garnering a, "Mom... these are the best pancakes you've ever made!  Can we have them again tomorrow?".

Tweaking the ingredients to suit my taste, I had these pancakes cooking up as some of the lightest and fluffiest pancakes ever, and this vegan version earned its place as a keeper.

I didn't tell anyone about the "things" I left out, but I feel good enough about this breakfast to serve it to family members struggling with heart issues, and with my two Maltese pups lounging on my lap as I type, my heart is full as can be.

 Fluffy Heart-Healthy Vegan Pancakes

Monday, January 13, 2014

California Power Pomegranate Smoothie

After a relatively healthy 2013, the last few days of the year and the first few weeks of this year have been filled with "issues".  Everyone is currently as healthy as can be expected, but we've had hospital visits, rest home visits, veterinarian visits, along with twisted ankles and a few sniffles.  Hence, our eating habits have worked their way up to some of the healthiest we've ever enjoyed, and along with a lovely dose of California sunshine and a few of Dad's fresh from the tree oranges we're hoping to get everyone back on track.

Liv and her brother have always loved smoothies, but they have been known to be picky on occasion as they see me adding certain ingredients.  Both have different areas in their diet where they need a little boost, and as such I try to push those ingredients into smoothies.

But you should see the face of my nearly 18-year old boy as I reach for a handful of spinach to pop into his smoothie.  "No way!" he exclaims,  "I'm not drinking spinach in a smoothie!".  His face drops even further as I let him know I've been adding spinach to his smoothies since he was a baby and he never knew it.

Liv, on the other hand, pulled a face of her own as I dumped a few tablespoons of oatmeal into her sweet concoction.  "Seriously??  You're putting oatmeal into a drink?".  Yep... been doing that for years too.

So today we bring you our current favorite power smoothie... one filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and some fiber thrown in for good measure.  Here's hoping this beauty keeps you on the healthy track too.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Liv Life ~ Top 10 Recipes of 2013

While much of the rest of the country works to maintain balance and life through this extreme Polar Vortex, here in San Diego we're enjoying brilliant January sunsets.  Liv, my ever ready model, and I took to the beach a few days ago in a rare moment with no pressing schedule and her spirit flew into the New Year as she danced along the water's edge.

Maintaining balance in life has been a challenge in 2013.  Our world has become insanely busy, and Liv faces a few big girl decisions in the upcoming months which will hopefully regain some of that balance to our life.  Growing up is hard to do and sometimes the correct path isn't obvious or what we had originally planned.

Food though, is the one part of my life I can balance and control, and 2013 brought a number of new favorite dishes to our table.  Ranging from heart-healthy breakfasts to super salads and decadent desserts, we pretty much covered the gamut last year and have enjoyed our food while staying healthy along the way.  Join me as we count down our reader favorites from 2013.

Liv Life ~ Statistical Top 10
(Click the titles to see the recipes!)

 A San Diego staple, the fish taco is a meal I can always count on our family enjoying.  This favorite features grilled mahi mahi and a tropical touch with a zesty mango and pineapple salsa.

Shooting to 9th place in just over a month, DIY Kahlua became a wonderfully received gift to all we sent it to this year.  Far easier to make than I had ever imagined, we bring 3 versions to suit your taste and time frame.

Not to be outdone by DIY Kahlua, this DIY Vanilla Extract was just as popular in July as it was near the holidays, showing us that Vanilla Extract is a year round essential!  This post features packaging ideas for shipping or gift giving as well.

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Bites
Holding a special place in my heart, this recipe brings a healthy bite to the table and helps me remember a very special friend.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Banana Nut Bread
When you start getting text messages from your daughter's friends to "Please make that bread again this weekend!" you know you have a hit!

DIY Baking Powder
Continuing the DIY vein... DIY Baking Powder also proved popular all year round.  Saving me a trip to the store on more than one occasion, this recipe is good to have tucked away in case of emergency.

Limoncello Lemon Cake
Popular on Pinterest, this sunny cake brings a brightness to your day.  Sweet, yet tart with lemon, and then topped with a lovely limoncello glaze, I can't stop at one piece.

Becky's Famous Football Party Stromboli
Making its top 10 appearance for the 3rd year running, Becky's Strombolli remains one of our all time most popular posts.  Bring this to your Superbowl party and you'll definitely win the most popular vote!

Asian Fried Quinoa
 With a comment of "Holy crapballs!  This is delicious on a level that made my eyes roll back in my head!", no further words are needed...

Strawberry Margarita Jell-O Shots
And maintaining their number one spot for the third year running, these cute Strawberry Margarita Jell-O shots prove they have staying power.  Super cute on a serving tray, these babies don't last long at a party.


And there you have it - Liv Life's Top 10 rated posts for 2013.   A sincere thank you to everyone for your continued support, the lovely comments you leave for me and the ideas for new posts.  Liv and I truly enjoy our Liv Life community and look forward to sharing 2014 with you.

Wishing everyone balance, love and healthy living in 2014.  May this be a fabulous year for you.  And remember...

Liv Life