Archive for the ‘Foodie Explorations’ Category

A Little Rain … A Little Party …

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Sunday we had quite the little storm. I grabbed a quick ride in the morning and then came home to cook for a housewarming party (finally!)

Sunday morning, October 30th, near Pena Adobe Park.

Sunday morning, October 30th, near Pena Adobe Park.

A few friends came over on Sunday for a housewarming party. We had a fabulous meal.

Lynda brought some yummy mushroom brie and crackers.

Lynda brought some yummy mushroom brie and crackers.

Herbed Chevre and Smoked Gouda.

Herbed Chevre and Smoked Gouda.

The Herbed Chevre is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to “dress up” a plain Chevre. Simply take your favorite plain Chevre cheese, let it come to room temperature. Mix in some chopped fresh herbs (dried will do in a pinch), a couple of splashes of good extra virgin olive oil, and mix until smooth.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Crimini Mushrooms

The Stuffed Mushrooms are quick and easy, too. Here’s the recipe. I modified the filling a little bit – the filling was simply light cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and a few grinds of Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend (paprika flakes, sea salt, garlic, basil).

One friend brought a beautiful Corn & Shrimp Chowder, which I heard was fabulous. It had bell peppers in it, so I couldn’t eat it. What’s funny is that the soup that I made had peas in it, so he couldn’t eat my chicken soup!

Marsh's Corn & Shrimp Chowder

Marsh’s Corn & Shrimp Chowder

Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Another friend made Pork Tenderloins with a Bourbon-Maple-Molasses glaze that was fantastic.

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Rick’s Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Maple-Molasses glaze.

Of course there was salad …

Mixed Greens with Fresh Fuyu Persimmons, Pomegranate, Feta Cheese, and a light and refreshing Citrus Vinaigrette.

Mixed Greens with Fresh Fuyu Persimmons, Pomegranate, Feta Cheese, and a light and refreshing Citrus Vinaigrette.

… and what is a party without dessert?

Tartlets: Fresh Lemon Curd and Caramel, Macadamia & Chocolate Tartlets.

Tartlets: Fresh Lemon Curd and Caramel, Macadamia & Chocolate.

The Lemon Curd recipe can be found here. I used pre-made tartlet shells … a little “semi-homemade” time-saving trick. I also cheated a bit with the caramel. I used Trader Joe’s Flue de Sel Caramel Sauce. This is my go-to caramel sauce.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful day. If you get the chance, would you please ride a few miles for me today? I’ve got to run to work now.

Golden Milk

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Golden Milk is being touted as a “wonder” beverage loaded with all kinds of healthy benefits (click here). This recipe showed up on my Facebook feed one day and caught my attention. I need to start upping my calcium intake, but I’m not a huge fan of plain milk. The additional health benefits (especially the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties) were very appealing. I confess that initially I did not read the entire article and just barely watched the video to get the recipe, so I missed that it’s made with coconut milk, not cow’s milk.

I’ve got to do some more research about this, but for now, here’s my version:

Golden Milk

1 cup milk (your choice)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
maple syrup or honey to taste

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake until well blended, then strain (if desired) and serve with or without ice.

You can also mix in a blender with a little ice to make your beverage smoothie-like.

I tried it heated up last night, but surprisingly didn’t really like it as much.

 

Hawaii!!!

Monday, August 29th, 2016

I spent last week in Hawaii … What I thought was going to be a hiking and biking trip turned into a foodie trip due to rain. Oh, the fruit. I can’t wait to go back!

Day one shopping ...

Day one shopping …

Pineapples ... my mouth is watering .

Pineapples … my mouth is watering .

Dragonfruit!

Dragonfruit ...

Dragonfruit …

Lilikoi - Passion Fruit

Lilikoi – Passion Fruit

Sweet and tart lilikoi ... I want more.

Sweet and tart lilikoi … I want more.

Mangoes!

Mangoes!

Papaya ... oh, mya!

Papaya … oh, mya!

Yes we have bananas today! Apple Bananas, that is.

Yes we have bananas today! Apple Bananas, that is.

Fresh coconut ... o.m.g.

Fresh coconut … o.m.g.

Avocados and Rambatons (similar to lichee fruit).

Avocados and Rambatons (similar to lichee fruit).

Mangosteens

Mangosteens

Oh, and then there was the coffee, the chocolate, the vanilla, the fresh fish …  and … the beaches and warm rain and volcanoes and hot lava and cold observatories and …  those will have to be later blogs. I have to switch out of vacation mode and back into regular life mode soon. Oh, sigh … that was an amazing week.

Zucchini Lasagna Rolls

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Here’s another idea for the bounty of zucchini that happens this time of year.

Zucchini Lasagna Roll-Ups

Slice some large zucchini lengthwise into about 1/4-inch thick slices. Lay them out on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, turn over and sprinkle the other side. Allowed to rest to pull out some of the liquid. Blot the zucchini dry before grilling.

Meanwhile, mix together your favorite lasagna filling. I use a mix of ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, shredded cheeses like mozzarella, Asiago, Parmesan, spinach, a little black pepper, fresh herbs such as basil and thyme, and sometimes I will also add an egg. Mix all this together.

Spinach & ricotta filling.

Spinach & ricotta filling.

Grill the zucchini slices – brush with a little olive oil before grilling. Don’t overcook at this point, you just want them to have a nice grilled flavor and soften them up enough to be rollable.

Grilled to perfection!

Grilled to perfection!

You can either use a homemade marinara sauce or your favorite prepared marinara sauce. Put a little bit of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Start to assemble the rolls.  Spread a tiny amount of pesto on the strip and then a layer of cheese mixture, rolling up place them in the pan.

Spread with a touch of pesto.

Spread with a touch of pesto.

Top with the cheese filling.

Top with the cheese filling.

A toothpick can help to keep them together until you place them in the baking dish.

A toothpick can help to keep them together until you place them in the baking dish.

Arrange in your baking dish.

Arrange in your baking dish.

Top with marinara and cheese.

Top with marinara and cheese.

Continue until you finished all of the rolls. Top with more marinara sauce, some grated cheese like mozzarella, etc. Bake in the oven about 350. I think I baked in about an hour, maybe a little longer. One important thing to remember with any kind of lasagna dish like this is to let it rest about 10 minutes after you remove it from the oven before you start cutting into it. This will allow it to set up.

Yes, I know that this doesn’t have measurements, but this was about 3 or 4 large zucchini, one large tub of ricotta, half a pint of cottage cheese, 1 egg, a few handfuls of shredded cheese, a couple of pounds of fresh tomatoes, umm …. I based this on Mom’s recipe, which was taught to me that way! A handful of this, a splash of that. One thing I will say is that I could  have made just half the amount of filling. There was quite a bit leftover, but that’s OK, because there are lots more zucchini where these came from, so I see some more zucchini lasagna variations in the future.

It’s Zucchini Time Again!

Friday, July 15th, 2016

So many zucchini … so many possibilities.

Zoodles ... there's a special gadget that will turn your zucchini (or summer squash) into "zoodles" ... a low carb and delicious alternative to pasta.

Zoodles … there’s a special gadget that will turn your zucchini (or summer squash) into “zoodles” … a low carb and delicious alternative to pasta.

My first recipe with these was a Shrimp Scampi with Zoodles …

Garlicky, fresh, light and healthy!

Garlicky, fresh, light and healthy!

To make this, simply prepare your favorite scampi recipe and when the shrimp are about 3/4 of the way cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside (cover to keep warm). Add the zoodles to the pan, adding a splash of wine or lemon juice if needed, turn the heat to high and stir fry for a bit. You don’t want to overcook these, so remember to work quickly. Reduce the heat to medium, return the shrimp to the pan, give a good toss to distribute the ingredients evenly, then cover to warm through. You do not want to overcook this or the shrimp will become tough and the zoodles mushy.

And, of course, there’s always the classic Stuffed Zucchini!

Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed Zucchini

This recipe will have to follow later … I’ve got to get to work!

 

Spicy Caramel Popcorn

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

This slightly spicy, delightfully sweet, salty, and crunchy caramel popcorn will make a wonderful Christmas gift or snack. I shared a bit yesterday with some friends and colleagues. It was unanimously approved by friends and colleagues alike. It’s based on this recipe from Martha Stewart. I just used mixed nuts instead of peanuts and added just a touch more cayenne. Be sure to watch Martha’s video for the technique.

Spicy Caramel Popcorn with mixed nuts

Spicy, sweet, salty, crunchy … what’s not to love?

Spicy Caramel Popcorn with Mixed Nuts

4 quarts popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup unpopped kernels)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon (slightly  heaping) cayenne pepper
1 cup salted mixed nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, … your favorite mix)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pop the popcorn – use your favorite method. Spread out evenly on two half-sheet pans lined with silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until well blended then add the corn syrup and stir to blend well. Cook on medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture turns golden brown. Stir in the salt and cayenne pepper. Add the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Pour this mixture over the popcorn and use a heat proof plastic spatula that’s been sprayed with a bit of non-stick spray to gently toss the popcorn with the syrup mixture.

The caramel mixture will be very hot – please be careful!

Bake for about 30 minutes, carefully turning and mixing with the spatula about halfway through. You want a nice, even coating of caramel on the popcorn and nuts.

Allow to cool, then gently break apart into bite sized pieces.

This recipe has officially become part of my Christmas recipe repertoire. I’ll be making this again … probably at least once before Christmas because I know a few on my gift list will want some of this!

Chicken Cacciatore

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

One of my culinary “specialties” when I was kid was Chicken Cacciatore. I’m not sure when or where I first had it, but it inspired me to find my own way of preparing it. Growing up we ate lots of spaghetti and lots of chicken legs. So, why not together?

Initially I started out with jar of prepared spaghetti sauce, whichever brand my mom happened to buy (which was whatever brand was on sale). I simply browned the chicken legs in a little oil in our large Revereware skillet, then poured in the jar of spaghetti sauce and probably also a can of tomato paste. I would cook this on medium high heat until the sauce is heated through, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken is cooked through and falling off the bones. We served this over spaghetti and generously garnished with that grated Parmesan cheese that comes in the shiny cardboard tube.

Over the years, my Chicken Cacciatore has evolved quite a bit to a fully from scratch dish including fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, fresh herbs, and sometimes onion or fennel, freshly grated cheeses, and NO pasta sauce from a jar. Perhaps a bit of tomato paste, depending on how much liquid the fresh tomatoes produce, but that’s the only non-scratch ingredient in the sauce.

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore … recipe to follow later.

 

Maple Bacon Gu?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Who knew …

Mmmm...maple! Interesting. I liked it.

Fall Quarter Already?!

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

I can say conclusively that I did not get enough cycling in this summer. But, I did get a really nice short ride in Friday morning before work …

A spot of color along F Street in Davis

I rode twice on Saturday … an early morning ride and a later afternoon ride … for a total of about 30 or so miles …

And Sunday I got to ride with a couple of girlfriends out to Winters and back, then I took on another loop around Davis solo for a total of 62 miles …

Oat Fruit Bar was good but my favorite is still the Oat Cake!

Yogurt, Bananas, & Candied Pecans (oh, so so sweet), but gluten free (sans the granola, of course!)

I sure love this bike!

I do have to get some serious training in because I’ve got to get ready for the Foxy’s Fall Century in less than 3 weeks.

 

Peru – El Mercado

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Umm ... Dorothy, we're not in HAACP country anymore.

While in Lima, Peru, I visited one of the markets. I’ve never experienced a market like this and let’s just say that it’s probably a good thing that I did this late in my visit. I’m a bit of a food safety fanatic, and I just don’t even want to think about how many HAACP violations I saw at this market. Had I gone to a market like this near the beginning of my visit, I don’t know that I would have been able to eat anything except heavily processed foods, or produce that I washed myself with bottled water.

If you’ve seen the first Sex and the City movie, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I wasn’t as bad as Charlotte, but I had some food safety concerns while I was traveling in Peru. If you haven’t seen the move, check out this clip and then you’ll know what I mean. I wasn’t this extreme, but I was cautious. I read all of the CDC food safety precautions and tried to follow them responsibly.

Let’s tour this market together. The produce was bountiful and beautiful.

Produce of all kinds

Loads of fresh fruits.

Peruvian limes ...

Peruvian limes (limóns) are a  key ingredient in ceviche. These limes are highly acidic and have a distinct, strong flavor.

Papas!

Peruvian Cherries ...

Peru is famous for its potatoes (papas). There are about 3,800 different varieties of potatoes in Peru. You could eat a different type of potato with every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and it would take about 3 1/2 years to try every variety. That’s a lot of potatoes! That will get you carbed up for some serious cycling or hiking.

Peruvian Cherries have been cultivated since Inca times. They also grow wild at high altitudes. I’ve had these a long time ago and they were introduced to me in California as “ground cherries.” I remember them having sort of a funky taste to me.

So, that was the kinda’ safe stuff at the market … now we’ll look at what made my inner ServSafe nerd recoil a bit … OK, a lot.

Chickens ...

... more chickens ...

Meat ...

More meat ...

I don’t even want to think about how many HAACP violations there are in these displays. Raw meat and poultry out in the open? Dripping juices on the floor … umm …

... more meat ...

Seafood ...

... more seafood ...

... more seafood ...

At least the seafood was iced. Most of the meat and/or poultry was not refrigerated and it was just out in the open for anyone to touch, to sneeze on, to … well, potentially contaminate.

This was truly an experience out of the ordinary for me. I love markets. I love food shopping, sampling, and trying new culinary adventures. That said, I’m also very aware of food safety.

It was pointed out to me on my last day in Lima, as we were finishing another lovely meal, that most of the restaurants in Lima probably shop at that market.

Sigh … it was a really cool cultural experience, but like I said … I’m glad to see a market like this towards the end of my trip and not the start.