Food, family, crafts, and other stuff we like


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Clothes Peg Christmas Decorations

A simple, lovely Christmas craft to light up a table, clip on the tree, or as I've done, attach to houseplant pots.  I got this idea from one of my favorite kid crafts newsletters, Kids Crafts Weekly, based in Australia. Worth a look-see at

We ventured beyond the suggested Christmas tree shapes and made stars and ornaments too.  You could do stockings, candy canes, Santa hats, Gingerbread people...

Just cut your desired shape from cardboard, paint with any old color you fancy, and add some sparkle with glitter, jewels, buttons, yarn, stickers, etc.

We found it difficult to get the buggers to stand upright.  The bigger Christmas trees refused to do so.  My suggestion would be to try using thinner cardboard, like from a cereal box.  Or just do what we did:

Clip on plants!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

One of my favorite stores in Berkeley is Monterey Market. Its on Hopkins Street in the tidy little bundle of shops, butchers, fishmongers, bakers, and pizza at the corner of Monterey Avenue in North Berkeley. Monterey Market is basically a huge produce market, as well as grocery store, featuring some of the best local, seasonal fruits and veggies you can find outside of a farmer's market. It is not stylized, nor trendy, like Whole Foods or Trader Joes. It is simple, never insults your intellect or senses, and only begs of you to be adventurous and open minded when thinking about whats for dinner.
When I was pondering just this the other day, walking through the overflowing aisles, I was immediately drawn to the box boasting organic, fresh yellow "cheddar cauliflower" from Full Belly Farms. The color could be described as nothing short of cheddar, I agree. I love cauliflower, steam it, sautee it, add it to soup, its delicious and so good for you. Since I've discovered these crisp, yellow beauties a few years ago, I have been hooked. The yellow ones, especially if they are super fresh, are so much more tender, mild, and dare I say, almost cheesy?
So into the soup pot it went, and with the help of a little cream fraiche, onions, garlic, butter, chicken stock, and a hand held blender it became the most lovely and creamy cauliflower soup. There is no cheddar in it, and I swear you would never know.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

1 head of yellow cheddar cauliflower
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
3 to 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 C cream fraiche or sour cream, more to taste/garnish
1 bay leaf
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cayenne (optional)
Salt and pepper

1. Chop onion, garlic, and cauliflower into medium sized pieces.
2. Heat olive oil and butter in a soup pot. Add onion, garlic, cauliflower, bay leaf, thyme, nutmeg, and cayenne, and about a tsp. of salt and pepper. Sautee on medium heat until tender and golden.
3. Stir in enough chicken stock to cover vegetables by an inch or so.
4. Simmer for 10 to 20 minutes until cauliflower breaks apart easily.
5. Add cream fraiche or sour cream, stirring until blended.
6. Remove from heat and with a blender, puree soup to desired consistency.
Note: If you don't have a hand held/immersion blender yet, I highly recommend getting one – they revolutionize soup making and are really easy to clean. And not too expensive either, worth every penny.
7. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, and always feel free to adjust seasonings as you like, I am pretty moderate with recommended amounts of spice in recipes, but will always be adding a pinch or two more of spices to taste as I go. You should too.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Padron Peppers!

OMG. This is the only time I'll use text lingo in this blog, I promise. But these little babies truly deserve an OMG. Last time, I swear. Padron peppers, slightly sweet, slightly spicy, perfectly salty, and delicious when prepared correctly. And "correctly" is super simple and takes all of 5 minutes. You will find these little green peppers in season, at least in Northern California, from mid summer to late fall. Just last week I was still able to track some down at the farmer's market, but my man claims that was probably the last of them, so sad. When they are in season I order them every time I see them on a menu and I buy them every time I see them at a market (they are sort of hard to come by, mostly I have found them at farmers markets. Regular grocery stores rarely seem to have them). They make for a great little side dish, but mostly I eat them as an appetizer, perfect when paired with crusty, warm bread, olive oil for dipping, and some cheese! Here's how to prepare...

Get a skillet good and hot, I prefer a cast iron in this case, with some oil. Grapeseed oil is nice because it has great flavor and works well at high temperatures, but any cooking oil will do. Once your oil is hot, throw in your clean peppers and just let 'em go. Turn and toss them a few times until the skins get black and kind of charred in some spots. Right before you take them off the heat, toss them in some good sea salt or kosher salt. Sometimes I will also splash them with a bit of lemon juice, but they don't really need it. Let them cool a minute and enjoy! Beware, about one in every 20 or 30 peppers is really pretty spicy and hot. Other than that, they are generally pretty mild and oh so delicious!!! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Local Urban Honey

We discovered this incredible backyard honey cultivated by an Alameda mother-of-four named Stefani Leto.  Her backyard is basically an urban farm:  huge vegetable gardens, sunflowers, fruit trees, chicken coop, and honey bees.  My girls were able to romp about and see the bees and chickens when we went to pick up the prized amber jar of goodness. The card attached to the jar reads:

"This honey is completely pure.  It's cold filtered, but not heated.  The bees are never treated with chemicals or medicated.  They forage in Alameda, using neighborhood flowers to bring you a completely natural, local honey."

I actually read recently that many bees are fed corn syrup and/or treated with chemicals, therefore their honey is, well, a product of corn syrup and chemicals.

Local-to-you honey made by bees foraging local flowers is actually a homeopathic remedy for allergies, which is one of the reasons I was so excited to find this honey.

 An article was written about Stefani and her backyard here:

I love little jars of sweetness and will soon be posting pictures of the jams we found at a tiny farmer's market in Uppsala, Sweden, as well as more Swedish foodie pictures.  

This honey is the perfect addition to warm pumpkin bread on a cloudy afternoon (like today).  Or on buttered toast for breakfast.  Or...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tempeh Reubens

Who doesn't love a good reuben? The classic reuben, a huge pile of corned beef piled high with kraut, thousand island or russian dressing, and swiss on grilled rye, is delicious if done right. I love them, but it would be rare to find corned beef in my refrigerator, or thousand island dressing for that matter. But I do now and then have a chunk of tempeh hanging out in my fridge, begging for attention. This lighter and just as tasty version is the perfect warm and comfy sandwich, but won't make you feel guilty afterward. Toasty tempeh topped with sauteed shiitake mushrooms and onions, swiss cheese, arugula, and sauerkraut on toasted bread with a shmear of horseradish mayo and dijon. Bliss.
Even if you don't have sauerkraut or swiss, you can easily make lots of delicious sandwiches with a few slices of sauteed tempeh. Other suggestions for yummy tempeh sandwiches are mozzerella with roasted veggies, basil, and tomato sauce, or sauteed greens with feta, olives, and hummus, or a simple mayo, mustard, lettuce, and tomato sammy. Just sautee tempeh as in this recipe, and top to your hearts content. A healthy, easy, and fairly inexpensive treat to pack into your lunch.


Organic Tempeh (I like Lightlife brand)
A good handful of shiitake mushrooms
Swiss Cheese
Minced Horseradish from a jar
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
Bread (Rye is traditionally used, but I used flatbread here)

Slice tempeh into thin, sandwich-friendly squares. Slice onions and mushrooms, use as much or as little as you like.

Heat olive oil in pan on medium-low heat, add tempeh. Allow to cook for about 3-5 minutes on the first side. Flip slices of tempeh and add onions and mushrooms to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sautee the mushrooms and onions while the second side of the tempeh browns.
When both sides of the tempeh slices are lightly browned remove from the pan and lay the swiss on top to melt.

Finish mushrooms and onions if needed, and remove from pan when soft.

Grill the bread lightly in the same pan while mixing mayonnaise and horseradish in a bowl. Add as much or as little horseradish as you like to the mayo, its your sandwich!

On a plate, spread the horseradish mayo on half of the bread and dijon on the other half. Add the tempeh with swiss, mushrooms, onions, arugula, and sauerkraut. Serve with a pickle and chips.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pa's Potatoes

In July we visited my Dad who lives in the Kickapoo Valley of western Wisconsin, near Viroqua.  It's a land of rolling green hills, winding rivers, small organic farms, and smart back-to-the-landers.  Our Dad has homesteaded a plot of 30 acres; slowly building his house, maintaining the rugged driveway, and cultivating his incredibly abundant garden.  He runs exclusively on solar power and woodstove heat.  I oh so admire his way of life, and to visit his rustic land is truly magical. 

One fine morning while there we sauntered down to the garden, taking photographs on the way, to pick some delicacies for breakfast.

Children of the corn!  We dug up some potatoes, munched on snap peas, ogled the broccoli, carrots, kale, onions, garlic, etc.

Back inside we washed and sliced the potatoes, and began sauteing them with olive oil, fresh green onion, garlic, dill, basil, and salt and pepper.  When they were soft we scrambled in a few eggs.   Simple food lifted from the ground moments earlier.

Simple food lifted from the ground moments earlier. So here's to our (Mel and I's) Pa!  A true modern day hero.  

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cornmeal Pizza Crust

I have been wanting to try a cornmeal pizza dough for a while, I love the crunch and flavor of cornmeal in a crust. Have you ever tried the amazing cornmeal crust pizza at the Hayes Street Grill/Vicolo Pizza stand at the Ferry Building Farmers Market? Or the crust at Little Star, deep dish crunchy cornmeal, with some of the best chunky tomato sauce. Sigh...
We have been making our own pizzas for a few years now, and I had always used the recipe in Alice Water's cookbook, Fanny at Chez Panisse as my guide, tweaking it along the way until I found I had the perfect classic pizza dough. I found Martha Stewart's cornmeal crust recipe in a magazine recently, and vowed to try it out. I found it was somewhat close to the version I normally use with the addition of cornmeal.
It turned out amazingly, and I now can almost hardly imagine a crust without the golden deliciousness of cornmeal.
The original recipe is can be found by searching for Cornmeal Pizza Crust at
I am going to post my version of it below, as I follow the steps a little differently. Martha's recipe states that it makes four seven-inch pizzas, but I only got two out of it. I would recommend doubling or tripling the recipe if you want leftovers or to freeze some dough balls for another day.

Makes two medium sized pizzas

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cups warm water
1 tablespoon milk
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus a bit more
1/4 cup cornmeal, plus a bit more
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl

  1. Mix flour and yeast together in a large bowl with a whisk. 
  2. Combine sugar, warm water, milk, and olive oil in separate bowl.
  3. Add cornmeal and salt to the flour and yeast mixture. Add the liquid mixture slowly to the dry ingredients, stirring all the while.
  4. Slowly blend ingredients with a wooden spoon or hands until the dough starts to stick together. 
  5. Spread some flour on a table and turn the dough out onto it. Knead with your hands until the dough becomes smooth, adding more flour to hands and dough if it becomes sticky. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Divide dough in two balls. Rub oil into the sides of a bowl and the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towels, and let rise for an hour or until dough is doubled in size. (Or overnight in the refrigerator.)
  7. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone make sure it is in the oven now. If not you can make the pizzas right onto a baking sheet.
  8. Stretch or roll the dough into rounds of desired thickness. 
  9. We like to use parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal to create the pizzas on, as they make it easy to slide straight onto the pizza stone and out again when its done. If you dont have parchment paper just use plenty of cornmeal if you will be transferring to a stone. If you are baking in a pan, just a sprinkle is fine to keep it from sticking.
  10. Cover pizza with toppings of your choice.
  11. Slide pizza onto pizza stone or place pan in oven. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes until toppings are browned and bubbling, and crust is golden. 
  12. Cool for a few minutes before cutting. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ahh, summer...

Yes indeed, summertime is upon us.  Ice cream cones in flip flops, steaks on the grill, buttery corn, kiddie pools, fresh juicy peaches, the Fourth of July (our awesome new island town, Alameda, has a big old fashioned 4th of July Parade!  I'm over-the-top excited.)

But nothing spells SUMMER like Insalata Caprese.  Big tie-dyed heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella chunks, aromatic sliced basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, red wine...

We ventured to SF two weekends ago via Ferry and landed at, well, the Ferry Building, where my dear mother-in-law was keen enough to spot a mountain of heirloom tomatoes at the Farm Fresh to You counter.  We snagged a couple loafs of Acme Bread and went on our merry way to the 4th annual chili cook-off between Alembic, Bar Tartine, Magnolia, Maverick, Slow Club, Romolo and The Pizza Place on Noriega in Golden Gate Park.  Chef Matt Kerley, dear comrade and husband to Bee Sting Cake's very own Amy Kerley, took first place, representing Magnolia!  Way to go Matty!

Anyway, we made it home with our tomato and bread booty and I have been OBSESSED ever since.  I can think of no other thing to satisfy me come about 3 pm.  I. MUST. HAVE. MY. CAPRESE. NOW.
And I do.  And so will you once you get out to your local farmer's market and pick up about a dozen heirloom tomatoes and some fresh bread.  Join me.

I even had to supplement with the mini heirloom tomatoes pictured here and it is still delicious.

I love the Italians.  Wine and deliciousness in the afternoon.  MMM.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beans, beans the magical fruit...

My Dad said something recently that made me think differently about how I cook. We were talking about beans, though the concept can be used kitchen-wide. It was simple really, what he said about when going to the trouble of cooking beans you may as well cook up a huge pot. The soaking time and cooking time can be daunting, and a put-off if you are looking for a quick dinner. Hence the old can or two of beans that sits in all of our pantries. In the last few years I have come to be quite a purist and frugal shopper, shunning as many canned and prepared products as possible. I would much rather make my own. In a pinch of course, I will grab a can of beans, or diced tomatoes. But if I can save money, packaging, processing, etc, by doing it myself I will. And let me tell you that there is nothing that compares to a hot pot of beans or fresh tomato sauce. Nothing.
So my Dad's philosophy was to minimize the time spent cooking beans overall by cooking a lot at once. What do you do with so many beans you ask, there is no way we could choke down that many in a week. I agree. One or two meals is enough for me too. So what I do is freeze them. Pack cooled beans into freezer safe containers of various sizes. Glass jars such as clean peanut butter, pickle, mayo jars work well or you can use plastic yogurt containers or ziploc bags. When I freeze beans I make sure there is no extra liquid in the container, and fill the container about 3/4 full. When you want some beans pull a jar out of the freezer and thaw. For a quick thaw, pour warm water over the beans to loosen and then dump into a pan to heat. Try to use them up within a month or two or they will lose freshness.
Beans are delicious in tacos, chili, hummus, soups, sprinkled on salads, or as a side.
Though different varieties of beans have different cooking times, I usually follow the same process for all of them. And lately have been making fun bean medleys such as black, pinto, and kidney beans, shown above.

Basic Beans

Rinse beans and pick through. Cover with lots of water in a pot. Soak for 6 to 24 hours. I read recently that you should cook beans in their soaking liquid so you don't lose flavor, but if you want you can dump the soaking water and cover again with fresh water. I like to add onion and a bay leaf to the pot. Adding a few pieces of seaweed is supposed to reduce gas. Up to you. Don't add salt until beans are cooked. Bring to a boil and then simmer until beans are soft, anywhere from half an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the bean and soaking time.
Once beans are done, salt to taste. Storing them in their cooking liquid in the fridge is good for keeping them moist, though I like to drain it off when freezing.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bienenstichkuchen (Bee Sting Cake)

Oh the mysterious Bee Sting Cake. Sweet German honey cake, topped with sweet sliced almonds, and a layer of creamy pudding in the middle. Jenny and I had the cake one night at Suppenkuche in San Francisco's Hayes Valley. It was a friend's birthday and we celebrated with Bangers 'n Mash, sauerkraut, huge steins of beer, and lastly Bee Sting Cake. Maybe the beer helped, but the cake put a spell on us. We were drooling and giggling over every bite. A few times we asked for it again when eating there but it wasn't on the menu. I asked where they got it and it was from a Russian Bakery in the Richmond. I never found the bakery, but must have had the name or address wrong, for now we have a new lead.
Because this cake was so damn good, it lingered in our minds and would come up now and again, and ultimately inspired the name of our blog. We decided that we would make one as a tribute to the publishing of Bee Sting Cake (we have been talking about doing this for years.) Easy right? Not so much. It is a fairly long and complex recipe. But we figured with the three of us, and the master egg cracker Alabama, age 4, we could manage. I chose a recipe that seemed authentic and easy enough to follow. Make the cake, make the filling, put it all together and viola!

Well, it wasn't that difficult to make, but the recipe we used called for way too much yeast, and the cake ended up way too heavy and musty. The pudding filling was pretty good, but could have been lighter. Gelatin smells like hooves.
So ultimately we called our first attempt a failure, and despite how good the picture looks, I won't share the recipe with you because it should never be attempted again.
The mission: Find the perfect Bee Sting Cake recipe. There are quite a few online, with all kinds of variations. I may scour the library for a German cookbook, see if I can find an authentic one. So darling reader, stay tuned for our next Bienenstich Bake Off. We will keep trying until we have mastered the elusive and lovely Bee Sting Cake.

Friday, April 30, 2010

22nd & Irving Market

So, recently we packed up all our stuff and moved from the very awesome,  super hip Mission District of San Francisco to what some folks call "the suburbs". It is also known as The Sunset. Now don't worry, it isn't REALLY the suburbs, it's still very much in the city, and there is plenty of graffiti, concrete, and sirens wailing off in the distance to make a girl feel right at home. We moved for lots of reasons, cheaper rent, more space, less noise, less crackheads, easier parking, and the list goes on & on. But we did not move because we don't absolutely love & adore the mission. In fact, both Matty & and I are still very homesick for our old hood & hoping that we made the right decision. Our new pad is fantastic though, and the kitchen is maybe my most favorite part. I had a list of criteria when we were looking at potential new homes,  one of them was a good kitchen, another was a market that I liked, or at least could tolerate, within walking distance. Well, I lucked out and got a market that I actually LOVE. Now, as I said before, the sunset AIN'T the mission. In the mission you have markets, deli's, coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries, and ice cream stores that specialize in organic, local, free range, fair trade & artisan. All of these things within mere blocks of your apartment. But out here in the suburbs that isn't the case. There ARE actually quite a few grocery stores, markets, and delis near my house, and they are as diverse as San Francisco itself, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Mexican, Russian, Indian, Jewish, and Italian. But the best one, in my opinion, is the 22nd & Irving Market, located at, you guessed it, 22nd & Irving. 

This spot kinda feels like a mini international farmer's market. They don't have any frozen foods or meats, and you won't find a jar of mayo (I know because one day I went running out in a panic, needing tuna salad as if my life depended on it, and they couldn't deliver on the mayonnaise). But that's ok. What they do have is tons of fresh produce, and the largest selection of organic produce in these parts. Bulk nuts, beans, grains, and dried fruits. They have a good bread selection, jars upon jars of Italian speciality items (I get the feeling this joint might be owned by someone who either is Italian, or is just really into Italian stuff), a strangely huge selection of fancy preserves, jams & jellies, organic milk, organic butter,  lots of cheese, delicious Italian cookies, soymilk, and even organic peanut butter. 

I am kind of obsessed with grocery stores, small city markets, and farmer's markets, and this one is super cute and has all kinds of delicious and unique items. So the next time you are trying to figure out what to do on a Saturday afternoon, consider this...take the N Judah train to 22nd Avenue, walk down one block to the 22nd & Irving Market,  fill your picnic basket up with bread, cheese, fig preserves, Italian chocolate wafer cookies, heirloom tomatoes, and sparkling lemonade, then set out towards the Golden Gate Park, spread out your blanket in the sun, and smile...

Creamy Brussel Sprouts

My kid is weird.  She loves brussel sprouts.  Aren't they supposed to be the one vegetable kids loathe more than any other?  My other kid doesn't exactly love them, but she'll eat them. What's my secret to getting my kids to eat almost ANY vegetable?  Butter and salt.  Not heart-attack levels of salt, but a little sprinkling over broccoli that's been kissed with melted butter and it's the first thing to disappear from the plate.  "But they'll never eat 'em plain if you always use butter and salt."  Not true.  And if it were, so what?  The point is: THE KID IS EATING VEGETABLES.

So, creamy, lemon-finished brussel sprouts.  I'm pretty sure I found this recipe at, an awesome vegetarian blog by SF gal Heidi Swanson.  Anyhoo, this recipe turns a dinnertime vegetable protest into, well, a dinnertime fork-banging circus.

You will need:

Brussel Sprouts
1/2 cup or so of cream
1/2 of a lemon

Wash your brussel sprouts and trim the ends off.  I peel off the outer layer of skin if there's any discoloration or funk present.  Quarter lengthwise.

Heat a big chunk of organic butter in a skillet on medium-high until it's nice and warm.  Add brussel sprouts.  Let them cook until they have browned sides.  Approximately 7 minutes.  Lower heat to medium-low. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Pour 1/2 cup of cream over sprouts.  Cover.  Cook 3 minutes. Now test them out.  I like them soft but still a bit firm. (The carmelized sides are key to their deliciousness so make sure you start out on a high enough heat).

Lastly, squeeze half a lemon over entire pan.  Stir.  Serve.

Here's what the whole dinner looked like:

Turkey meatloaf, creamy polenta with feta, and brussel sprouts.  Spilled milk not pictured.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quinoa, Feta, and Walnut Salad

I often find myself turning to my jar of Quinoa when I need a quick and healthy side dish. It takes only 10 to 20 minutes to make.
Quinoa is the most complete protein of any grain, and is a great source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, fiber, potassium, and amino acids.
But a boring heap of quinoa is no fun, and the leftovers will often sit lonely in the fridge until I put them out of their misery. So the other day I decided to spruce up my Quinoa with feta, parsley and walnuts for a tasty grain salad that almost beat the grilled sea bass that was served atop it. Leftovers were excellent straight outta the fridge the next day. Once again, the best part about this recipe is that it could be easily customized to use up whatever you have on hand. Couscous, rice, barley, any kind of nut or dried fruits, cheese, herbs, or veggies such as aparagus or peas would be good.

This recipe serves two to four. Double if you want lots of leftovers.

First cook the Quinoa:

1 cups Quinoa
1.5 cups Water
Pinch of salt

Rinse Quinoa well and add water and salt. Bring to a boil, and then simmer lightly until Quinoa has absorbed all water and fluffs with a fork (10-20 min). I like to leave the lid on for ten minutes once I turn off the heat in order to steam and loosen the grains, same with rice.

Pour cooked Quinoa into a bowl, let cool for a few minutes, and add:

1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
heavy drizzle of olive oil
big splash of apple cider vinegar
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt, pepper, red chili flakes to taste

bon appetit!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Butter Cake with Lemon Glaze

Cake!! I think it's about time somebody posted a cake recipe here at Bee Sting CAKE!! This one is refreshing, "springy" (as in spring time, the season), and super lemony. I love lemon desserts, lemon bars, lemon sorbet, lemon pie, and lemon cake. I made this on easter sunday to follow up our super awesome dinner of ham, scalloped potatoes, rolls, and salad. It's easy and really good.

You will need:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
garnish: confectioners sugar for dusting & a lemon slice

Preheat your oven to 350. Butter and flour an 8 x 2 inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir together milk, zest, and vanilla.
Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with milk mixture. Mix well after each addition. Pour batter into cake pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a fork inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes.

To make the glaze...
Whisk together confectioners sugar and lemon juice.

Turn out the cake onto a rack then reinvert. Brush top and side of cake with all of the icing and then cool completely. Garnish with a dusting of confectioners sugar and lemon slices.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Salad with Garbanzos and Avocado

Healthy lunch number two.  Crisp spring greens with mild arugula added, warm garbanzos, cucumber, snap peas, avocado, and a warm corn tortilla on the side.  Refreshing yet cozy.

I am getting into beans.  There's currently a bowl of white cannellini beans soaking in my kitchen.  I want them to put on salads and mix with rice or quinoa.  Beans are nourishing, healthy, and really satisfying.  I always crave proteins, or heavy things.  I'm trying to retrain myself somewhat, and hope that someday I'll be content with a celery stick when I've got the munchies.  Ha ha.  Sigh.  But I'm finding if I have some hummus to dip the sticks in, I'm much more pleased.  So, yeah, beans. 

I always make these things when the husband's out of town.   He actually loves homemade beans, but I don't usually make the uber healthy salad meals whilst he's home.  I should.  I shall.  (He's sucking down fresh Albacore sandwiches and Rogue beers in Astoria, OR, lucky bastard).  Don't worry honey, there's leftover quinoa for you when you get home.

So, la ensalata:

Salad fixings. Definitely include avocado.

Warm garbanzos in a pan with a tiny bit of organic butter.

The dressing:

Olive oil
Nutritional yeast
Ground herb/pepper blend

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Leftover Noodles, 2 Ways

Let me start by saying I'm the Queen Of Too Many Noodles. That is to say, I ALWAYS cook too many noodles when I'm making spaghetti, fettucini, capellini, macaroni. Doesn't matter, I always have leftovers. Now you are sitting there saying, "you can't be the queen, I'm the queen!" And I'm sure you are, in fact, I bet there are lots of us. And if you have this problemo too, then read on, and next time you've got a tupperware full o'leftover noodles, try one of these babies out! Oh, and this also works nicely with quinoa pasta, if you are trying to cut down on wheat, or if you are gluten free. 

This first dish is very simply called "fried noodles". It comes by way of my mom, she used to make this for dinner along with lamb patties (not really sure what those were?! I think they were like hamburger patties, only made out of ground lamb, and we would eat them dipped in ketchup. I remember loving them), and frozen green peas. This was always the combo. My mom mostly made dinners with 3 things on the plate, meat, carb, and veggie, and I tend to cook in much the same way, at least sometimes. I guess we all turn into our mothers at some point, and that's cool with me, I like my mom a lot. AND, if you were my mom, you would fry the noodles and then season them with one thing and one thing only. This stuff...

Look familiar? I bet your mom used it too. I must say, lawry's seasoned salt is pretty delicious stuff. A blend of salt, sugar, and other spices. You have to use it sparingly, but it's good on baked potatoes, popcorn, or fried noodles. I have changed the fried noodle recipe a bit into my own hippie version, and so most of the time I use tamari or soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and hot sauce, instead of lawry's, but every now & then I slip back into childhood and douse my noodles with good old lawry's. Yum. Seriously, yum.

You will need:
Leftover noodles (macaroni or some type of long, straight noodle works best here)
butter or cooking oil
Lawry's OR Tamari, Nutritional Yeast, & Hot Sauce

Heat up a good amount of oil or butter in your skillet. Add your noodles and keep the heat low until the noodles are warm. Once warm, crank the heat and let them fry on one side until they are good and crispy. Flip them and crisp up the other side. Once they are nice and crispy, turn off the heat and season with your choice of spices. I always toss them in a bit of nutritional yeast while they are cooking too because it tends to help them crisp up. Hot sauce is obviously optional. Serve as a side dish with anything! One of my favorite meals is baked tilapia, fried noodles, and some kind of green vegetable or salad. They are great with burgers, sausages, or as a vegetarian side along steamed veggies. Fried noodles! Thanks Mom!

Ok, one more for leftover noodles. A simple stir fry that I made just the other night and figured I would post because it was so darn good. I used to make a lot of different stir fry's, back in the day when I was eating lots of tofu & tempeh and brown rice. I still eat a fair amount of brown rice, more often than I eat white rice I'm proud to say, but the tofu is few and far between these days. I've been trying to get into it again because I just don't think we need to eat meat at every single dinner. When Matt is at work I tend to cook more vegetarian dishes, and this one is super simple and really tasty...

You will need:
Leftover noodles (I would prefer a long straight noodle again here)
Any veggies you might have in your fridge
Hot Chili Sauce
Sesame Oil

Cut your tofu into small squares & fry it up, high heat, in a bit of butter or oil until it's good and crispy. Turn your heat down to medium and add your veggies. I added broccoli, red pepper, carrots, yellow squash, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute until they are hot but still nice and crisp. Finally, add your noodles. Get 'em good and hot and then season with tamari and hot chili sauce. Once your stir fry is off the heat, garnish it with a bit of sesame oil. Delicious!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Collard Greens and Navy Beans

Since my youngest daughter, Lulu, has eczema, I've been exploring some wheat and gluten-free alternatives.  I'm not certain wheat is causing the skin irritation or not, but it is a likely culprit and one place our acupuncturist suggested we cut back on.  The more I thought about it, I realized we eat a TON of wheat-- pasta, bread, crackers, tortillas... And not always the good whole wheat kind either.  So instead of a major "wheat-free" overhaul (which seems horrible to me), I've started exploring the alternatives and adding some of the yummy products I find into our diet.  Guess what? Quinoa pasta is kick ass.  Tastes pretty identical to classic noodles.  Rice pasta is pretty darn good too.   There's tons of stuff out there, and I'll be posting the tasty things I find here as I go.  This lunch was incredibly satisfying and obviously healthy.  It's creamy and delicious.  My kids gobbled it up, even. Takes about 10 minutes to make, too.  Bonus.
I've begun using organic, grass-fed butter to cook with (also at the suggestion of our acupuncturist), as olive oil is not so good for you at high temps.  I'm hooked.  Butter is freaking delicious to cook with.  AND, I'm hoping to stock up big time on EDEN ORGANIC brand canned foods.  Eden Organics is the only brand I know of whose cans (aluminum) do not contain BPA or other harmful-type-cancer-causing liner ingredients.  Most canned stuff does.  Lame town.  That's the shit that is causing so many people (especially kids) to develop neurological disorders, cancers, disease.  It's in our food.  Ugh. 

I guess this is my health food rant.  I don't end up with 100% organic pure food, but I try my best.  It's more expensive, but it's worth it.  This dish is a complete meal in itself, or would go beautifully as a side with fish or chicken.

Collard Greens and Navy Beans

1 can Eden Navy Beans
3-7 big handfuls of diced collard greens
1/2 tablespoon Better than Bouillon 
Handful of asiago or sharp white cheese

Start with a tablespoon of butter in a warm pan.  Add collards and saute for 7ish minutes, until tender.  Add drained can of beans.  Add bouillon.  Stir for 3 minutes.  Serve in bowls with cheese on top.  I added rice chips on the side for some crunch.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tex Mex Egg Breakfast

I always chuckle when something is labeled "Tex Mex".  Obviously it is a fusion of Texan and Mexican foods, and it involves some spicy smokiness, but otherwise it just sounds kind of goofy.  Well I done gone and used the spurs-and-mustachioed cowboy term for this delicious meal right here.  I heated leftover turkey taco meat, scrambled in some eggs, topped it with super sharp white cheddar and, viola!  Sides of buttery avocado, chipotle cheese dip, cherry tomatoes, and blue corn chips round out this spicy,  nacho-inspired breakfast.

There's not a whole lot more to know, except how I originally prepared the meat.  I tried out Trader Joe's brand taco seasoning packet and man was it spicy.  I was wincing a little. My kids could not eat it.  (Had to whip out a can of black beans).

What is this meal missing?  Sour cream.  I was out,  and too lazy to walk to the corner store so I suffered through without.  If I were you and I were making this dish, I would seriously consider adding Le Sour Cream to your Ranchero moment.  Maybe some diced fresh green onion to garnish.


Saute diced onion and garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat.  Brown salted ground turkey (or beef or tofu) for 8-10 minutes.  Add the seasoning packet and a cup of water.  Cover.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

mama's meatloaf

yo!! I'm just gonna get right to it & say that I make some seriously good meatloaf. Some have said it is the best they've ever had. My man plans to put my meatloaf on the menu at his restaurant. It's THE BOMB. I make it every couple of months and last night I was half watching Paula Deen (yep, that's right, I watch Paula...) and she was making meatloaf, and that was it, I had to have it. It was always a favorite of mine as a kid, and I still love it now. I guess there are those out there who find it incredibly disgusting, the name IS kinda gross, MEAT LOAF...sounds kind of like it could be made out of mysterious, unknown meat products & scraps of some sort. But not mine. I use all organic, all good, all meat meat, and it is dee-lish. This recipe makes 1 small loaf, perfect for 2 people, and usually there is a little bit leftover to make meat loaf sammy's for lunch the next day, yum!

You will need:
1/3 lb ground pork
1/3 lb ground beef
1/3 lb ground turkey
1 small onion or 2 shallots
2 eggs
2/3 cup bread crumbs
3 Tbsp ketchup
2 tsp worcestershire
garlic powder

Sauce ( if you so choose to make it...)
1 cup fresh tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup any of the following that sound good or that you might have in your fridge:
mushrooms, red or green pepper, zucchini, broccoli, yellow squash, chopped
1 Tbsp tomato paste

Pre-heat the old oven to 350 degrees. Saute your onion or shallot in a bit of oil until soft & translucent. Throw all your ingredients into a large mixing bowl, including the onion once it is ready. It's gonna look gross...

Mix, mix, mix!! I prefer to use clean hands to mix this, it just works the best. If your mix seems a bit too wet, add a little more breadcrumbs. If it feels a bit too dry, add another splash of ketchup or a tiny bit more egg. Once mixed, form the mixture into a loaf shape in the middle of a cookie sheet, or you could pack the whole thing into a loaf pan.

Now we come to my secret ingredient. This might be the reason my loaf is so darn good. This recipe comes by way of my mom & my sister & they both swear by this stuff. My dad does too, as a matter of fact, you won't see him grillin' steaks without it. You might recognize it from your mom or your grandma's pantry in like 1978, but they still make it and I keep some around for meatloaf making. It's the only thing I use it for. I've never made meatloaf without it. What, you ask, could it possibly be? The one, the only....Kitchen Bouquet. "Browning & seasoning sauce". Kinda weird. Mystery sauce.  But it's not all that bad, I mean, it doesn't have high fructose or MSG or any of that stuff. It's basically a blend of caramel and vegetables. All things in moderation. So anyways, that's all I'm gonna say in my defense of Kitchen Bouquet. On with the recipe...

After forming your loaf, paint the whole top of it with Kitchen Bouquet (but only if you want your meatloaf to be THE BEST ever). Paint it, and then toss it in the oven for about 40 minutes. Meat should be not pink, but not dry.

Finally, I like to make a super fresh "sauce" to top my loaf with. It is a nice contrast to this heavier meat meal. My sister gave me the idea and it really makes it awesome...

Put a bit of oil in your saute pan. Throw in your chopped fresh tomatoes and let 'em go on real low heat until they start to break down and release their liquid. Next add any other veggies you have chosen along with your garlic & tomato paste. Saute a few minutes more, until veggies are all good and soft. Top your meatloaf with this delicious little concoction and serve the whole thing with fried potatoes & a green salad. Soooooooo....good!!
Papa is very happy when mama makes meat loaf. It's a good day when it's meat loaf day, no doubt...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Crowns #2

Crowns! Yep, they rule. Make some now! You won't be sorry...

Refrigerator Quiche

Quiche! It's not just for fancy lunching ladies anymore!! Nope. It's dinner at my house, and these days, that ain't fancy. Although I do have these grand visions, for some other life when I'm much more organized and less tired, of having a very fancy quiche party. It's all high heels and aprons and delicious white wine and flowers all over my house. Someday....Right now its flip flops & frozen, not high heels and homemade pie crusts. Why?? BECAUSE I HAVE A BABY!! Ever had one? Well go try it and then get back to me. Now I'm not saying that ladies with babies can't wear high heels, and make everything from scratch, and climb the corporate ladder, and become president, and blah, blah, blah, if they so choose. So don't get all worked up. I'm just telling you that right now I'm in it, DEEP in it, with the getting used to being a mother thing, and homemade pie crust AIN'T HAPPENIN!! But, refrigerator quiche is, so here goes...

I call this refrigerator quiche because I started making it out of anything and everything that I might have in my fridge. I used to have a big problem of buying way too much food, and before I knew it things like lunch meat & spinach were going bad. OH NO! Starving kids everywhere! So I started making a big effort to buy LESS and to use up the odds and ends in various creative ways. Soups, stews, and, you guessed it, quiche! You can seriously put almost anything in quiche ,meats, veggies, herbs, cheese, etc...Tonight mine is made with frozen pie crust, although as previously stated, I have high hopes to someday get back to making my own. For the time being, as far as frozen goes, I really like these...

Here's the "recipe", if you can call it that. It's more just a guideline, and you add whatever you have in your fridge...

You will need...
1 pie crust (frozen or homemade)
8 eggs
Splash of cream or milk
Salt & Pepper
1 clove garlic
1 small shallot (optional)
A "handful" of any of the following (choose 4 or 5 ingredients):
-veggies (mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash)
-cheese, any kind really, crumbled or shredded
-lunchmeat (turkey, ham, chicken) or leftover meat from last night's dinner

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Chop your veggies and your meat pretty small. If you are using garlic, shallot, mushrooms, squash, or zucchini, I find these work best if you saute them lightly in butter or oil first. If using potatoes or sweet potatoes, fry them up until they are good and crispy before tossing them into the mix. Put all of your prepared ingredients into the pie crust, just throw them in! Whisk together your eggs & milk or cream. Pour eggs evenly over all of your ingredients. Salt & pepper to taste. Top with a little more shredded or crumbled cheese. Pop in the oven & bake for 45 minutes to an hour. The quiche is done when a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Quiche! Perfect with a crisp green salad or fruit salad, and lovely anytime of day...

P.S. Get Creative!! Remember, it's Refrigerator Quiche, so use what you have! Tonight I also threw in some fresh thyme. Last time I used feta & rosemary. You get the idea, have fun, and get fancy with it. Even if you ARE wearing flip flops.

P.P.S. Last thing, I swear! When we do have our very fancy (say that in a raspy, sexy, older woman kind of voice, veeeeeeery fancy) quiche party, you'll be able to recognize me because I'll be wearing these...
The perfect combo of bling & baked goods. Betty Homemaker & Beyonce. Yes!! Because that's how I roll, sometimes.
Peace Out...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

make your own granola

homemade granola is one of the best treats ever, and surprisingly easy.
it takes a little effort to gather all of the ingredients, but if you have a decent bulk section at your local grocery store you'll be fine. sometimes  i will be surprised by how many of the ingredients i already have sitting on my shelf, and can throw together an impromptu batch without having to make a trip to the store. my favorite recipes are ones that are flexible, and can be easily customized to your tastes, whims, and what you have in the cupboards. granola is one of those recipes. you can really push the envelope with this recipe, make it how you like it! you could use any kind of dried fruit, nuts, or cereal grains. i think it would be good with dried mangoes and crystallized ginger.
this goes great with yogurt, milk, fresh fruit, and as a snack right out of the jar. the original recipe came from my boyfriend abram's mom, cindy lou, who made it regularly when he was a kid. i suggest doubling or tripling the recipe if you have granola lovers in your house.


1 cup oats (can also use rye or wheat flakes)
1/3 cup wheat germ or ground flax or both
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. shredded coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup raisins 
4 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp warm water
4 tbsp honey, rice syrup or agave
3 tbsp mild favored oil (i use walnut oil)
1 tbsp vanilla

preheat the oven to 350.

mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 

in a seperate bowl stir the warm water and honey together, and then mix in the oil and your best to evenly coat the dry ingredients with the wet mixture. use your hands to mix it all up in a bowl. the mixture should be sticky and moist. (i like to taste it at this point and gauge if it needs a little more sweetener.)

spread the granola out onto a baking sheet, if you made more than one batch you will need two baking sheets or to bake separate batches.
bake for 10 minutes, then pull pan out and stir. bake for another 5 minutes and stir again. bake for another 5 minutes if needed. it is easy to over-bake granola so I tend to take it out early rather than have it turn out too crispy.

 store in an airtight container for up to a month.