Monday, February 17, 2014

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Cookies

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but spring has hit San Diego.  Actually, spring sort of slid in after an extended autumn, and winter?  Well... it didn't really happen.  And I'm just fine with that.

With temps in the 70's nearly year round, identifying the seasons can be a bit challenging.  But here in San Diego we know spring has officially hit with a few key hints... the front lawn turns a luscious shade of emerald, my roses are covered with tender new leaves, the plumeria buds are swelling, and the farmer's markets sport tables of brilliant red, juicy strawberries.

Home with not just one, but two, three-packs of fragrant berries, strawberries became my obvious choice for this month's Creative Cookie Exchange submission of Berries and Chocolate.  Never having actually tasted a strawberry cookie though I found myself a bit stumped.  Thank heavens for teenage boys who promptly informed me that strawberries in a plain chocolate chip cookie would fit the bill.  And so they did.

Adding a delightful sweetness to the soft cookie, strawberries bring a nice depth and an unexpected brightness to the bite of our exchange submission.
Want to be part of our monthly Creative Cookie Exchange?  Simply contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.
You can also use our group as a fabulous resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts. You will find our posts the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month.
 And now join me as we travel the world for this month's Berries and Chocolate Creative Cookie Exchange!

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

    California Quinoa Orange Salad

    Living in San Diego our winter has been nearly nonexistent this year... and I'm not complaining in the least.  With recent highs tipping 78º, my roses are filled with foliage, the irises are sporting buds a month early and the orange trees are heavy with fruit.  Dad has been by weekly with bags of orange overflow from his tree, and now with our tree in peak condition I've got oranges everywhere.

    Trying not to let any of the precious fruits go to waste we've been sharing with neighbors as well as dropping whole oranges into our smoothies.  The fruit has been popping up in nearly every meal.  From scones to salmon to simple salads, orange is a flavor my entire family embraces, and this California Quinoa Salad is no different.

    Filled with my beloved, protein-rich quinoa, the tiny seeds soak up the orange flavors and combine with spices and cilantro to bring a winter salad, San Diego style, to the table.  Black beans up the protein content and a bed of spicy arugula, or rocket as they call it in Australia (I love the name rocket!), rounds out the ingredients.  Only a perfect avocado could have made this concoction any better, and word has it that a certain teenage boy finished off the last avo, hence we find ourselves completely unexpectedly "avocadoless" and in need of a run to the grocery store.

    Bright and flavorful, this salad will bring a little sunshine into your Polar Vortex... wishing you all sun and warmth soon!

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

    Blaze Pizza... A new favorite in Carlsbad, CA

    Perfect pizza cooked to order in under 7 minutes from walk in to delivery... is it really possible??  Yes!  If you go to the right place.

    Blaze Pizza, a new and extraordinarily popular fast/casual restaurant here in Carlsbad, CA, is taking the pizza world by storm and will have a pie of your creation on your table in as little as 5-7 minutes from start to finish.

    Ordering at the counter one has the choice of a Blaze Signature Pizza, or if you so desire, a pizza of your own design.  For me, I began with the Signature Red Vine - Ovalini Mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan, basil, red sauce and an olive oil drizzle.  Adding my own twist, I kicked up the sauce to the spicy red version and added a handful of shredded mozzarella in addition to red onions, mushrooms and extra cherry tomatoes.

    How much extra did that cost me?  Not a dime.  For under $8 each, Blaze brings an 11-inch, thin crust, artisan style pizza with as many or as few toppings as your heart desires.

    Once your pizza is perfected from the over 30 topping choices, it's "blazed" in a special 800º open hearth oven for a mere 180 seconds.  Smiling staff spins the pizza for perfect browning, and before you know it your creation is in your hands and blazed to perfection.

    While pizza is the main attraction, Blaze offers a variety of salads, dessert (S'more Pie) and a tasty Blood Orange Lemonade (in addition to the "usual" soda, tea water, etc.) all in a bright, lively atmosphere perfect for a quick family dinner.

    A new favorite restaurant in our household (we've been weekly for the last month...), Liv and her Broadcasting partner, Audrey, (part of the CHSTV Broadcasting program), eagerly did their latest story on the new restaurant.  Catch the latest A-OK production debut here on Liv Life!

    Exceptionally good pizza, tons of toppings, one price for everything and a blazing fast delivery... Blaze Pizza is our new go-to restaurant.  With options for gluten-free crusts and vegan cheese toppings, Blaze fits nearly every lifestyle and with you in charge of your pizza design, you're sure to be happy.  What toppings would you Blaze??

     Blaze Pizza
    Carlsbad Outlet Mall
    5620 Paseo Del Norte
    Carlsbad, CA  92008

    Liv Life Note:  Liv Life was not compensated to write this review.  All comments and opinions are strictly our own... I'm truly thrilled with Blaze and simply want to share the pizza love!

    From the Blaze Menu:

    The Story.  Our Profile.  The 411.  You get the idea.
    OK, we're going to keep this quick, because exceptional quality at freakishly fast speed is what we're all about.  Fresh, house-made dough.  Prepared from scratch daily.  Artisanal ingredients.  Inventive to classic.  Customization encouraged.  You decide.  180 seconds in our blazing hot, open-flame oven for fast-fire'd perfection.  Sound good?