What do you all do when you have far too much of every herb imaginable? 
Don't even get me started on the volume of tomatoes we are about to have (see the right side of the picture above!!!)

But for now, that veggie box to the left is filled with herbs and I cut about a bushel of them this morning. 
Disclaimer, I have no idea how much a bushel is, but it was a lot! We had cilantro, chives, scallion tops, dill, basil, a persian herb called shahee (no clue what it is in English, must investigate this), and taragon. Once again, I was at a loss for what to do, and then my hubby suggested I make pesto. Unfortunately, I had none of the other ingredients, so instead of a quick "ok, let's get to making some pesto!" it was, trip to the grocery store first. AAANNNDDDD about 100 bucks later and a million ingredients I had not gone for (including a bag of bite sized Twix) later, I was hone with the necessary ingredients. 
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil-- and for those of you who know, I am using Calivirgin as it is the fruitiest most wonderful extra virgin olive oil ever! And being that this is a fresh dish, and not getting cooked, quality oil MATTERS!
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 bushel of herbs (typically, you would do basil about 2 cups, but this is MULTI-HERB pesto, so...there ya go!)
Once again, put all into your handy-dandy food processor, and awaaaay you go!
Look how beautiful! I wish you could smell the kitchen right now, it is such a fragrant wonderful aroma of fruity olive oil and fresh herbs....mm mmm mmmmmm!
This lush and verdant spread is just begging to be smeared onto a hot baguette, put over some yummy fish before you grill it, or used as the base for an amazing pesto pizza! The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
As for me, I'm baggying (that's a word right?) it up and saving it as it freezes quite well and I have yummy dinner leftovers to nosh on tonight. Tomorrow night it may turn into that pizza though, that sounded good!
 
 
Once upon a time, my husband and I fell in love with gazpacho. I am pretty sure it was during a very hot and humid D.C. summer evening. After that, we came up with a variety of different fruits and veggies that you can turn into gazpacho. In my opinion, the possibilities are endless! We have done the traditional tomato, we've done bell pepper and cucumber, avocado and yogurt, dessert ones with strawberries and mango, and on and on. 

Over the past few weeks, we have had a lot of watermelon in the house, and we have both been craving one of our favorites! It is a cool and creamy, light as air watermelon and cucumber gazpacho with jalepeno. The creamy part comes from a cup of greek yogurt and the overall refreshment factor is boosted with a handful of mint and some fresh squeezed lemon juice! Isn't your mouth watering just TALKING about it?! 
Start with a handful of mint, ours is fresh from the garden outside as my husband has gone herb crazy this summer!
Juice a couple lemons, add them to some greek yogurt and put on standby for the food processor.....
Now, I chose to seed the jalepeno that went in, and discard (or if you ask my husband, plant immediately the seeds) and boy am I glad I did....the soup turned out pretty darn hot despite this cautious move! Some peppers are just really hot, beware!
My favorite part about soups: Take all of the ingredients, the watermelon ( 1 medium sized seedless ), cucumber ( 1 english cucumber peeled), 1 jalepeno, mint, yogurt, lemon juice (about 1/4 cup), couple teaspoons salt (to taste) and couple tablespoons of GOOD extra virgin Olive oil (we used Calivirgin since our wonderful friends gifted us a bottle straight from the olive groves outside Napa Valley) and throw them all into a food processor. Its as easy as that! 
The end result will cool you off on the hottest of days, but still pack a bit of heat from the jalepeno and some body from the (amazing, you should really really buy some Calivirgin) olive oil and the yogurt, so that it doesn't taste like juice out of a bowl. Make a lot of this ... it goes fast!

Enjoy!
 
 
I cannot believe how long it has been since my last post. There is really no excuse for this. The reason however, is that there has been so much going on in our lives recently! We have moved across the country, moved into our first home and are now going to be growing our family, first with our puppy Odie and soon with a new addition! This happy sequence of events has led to a surprisingly meager amount of "off time" (while working full time), to keep up with any hobbies. This is true for both me and my husband. Well, that stops today. I am debating on whether I should post our trip pictures, Odie pictures or stick to food.....hmmmmm.

Lets do food since it's been so long! Yesterday I made some lemon sugar cookies with our lemons from our lemon tree in the back yard. The recipe is not my own, but its wonderful, and can be found at addapinch.com. This site is super cute too!

This particular recipe makes the most wonderful light and flaky sugar cookies, which have a certain "butter cookie" feeling to them. They are rich without being heavy. The recipe calls for rolling them in sugar, but I actually ran out of sugar before this step. Worry not , I went to the store today and have sugar again! 

Here is the lemon tree from which the wonderful cookies came!
Such fragrant lemon blossoms all year round here in California
And here are the light as air lemon sugar cookies! Perfect for summer and just begging for a lovely iced tea :) 
ENJOY !
 
 
Leftovers have such a wonderful role to play.  They can spark your imagination and provide ready made components to what would be a really complex meal!  Today, my husband is at a meeting and coming home for lunch.  We have nothing really prepared and not enough of any one leftover to count as a meal....and I'm STARVING, so petit plates aren't going to cut it! I looked in the fridge, and we had some home made Bolognese (meat) sauce from a few days ago, I had some roasted Chinese Eggplant from my visit to the farmer's market and we had eggs.....presto change-o....Eggplant parm frittata :)

I roasted the eggplants in a 400 degree oven a few days ago with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 15 minutes until they smelled yummy...very scientific way to cook!

The meat sauce was actually a grab as you go...onions and garlic and butter and olive oil until the onions were translucent, add ground beef, salt, pepper, spices of your choosing and let it cook for a bit.  Add an 8 oz can of diced tomatoes, an 8 oz can of tomato sauce and a tablespoon of tomato paste and let that simmer. I then added A LOT of cilantro from the farmer's market visit because we LOVE cilantro.....you can sub some basil or leave it out entirely. 

Ok, now to assemble the frittata. 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat up olive oil and butter in a non stick skillet, then place the eggplants you had already roasted in a fan pattern, let it sizzle. Then drizzle the meat sauce over it and let that sizzle. I sprinkled some flour into the meat sauce to help it firm up.  Then whip up 5-8 eggs depending on how thick you want your frittata and add salt/pepper to your taste and pour over the meat sauce layer.  Place the lid on your skillet and then place in your 350 degree oven for only 10 minutes! Let it cool a bit and then flip the skillet onto a plate and wiggle it until its in the middle of the plate ; )

Here's what you get!
By the way...sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top for the title to hold true. I don't have any at the moment, so we are going to do without.

Enjoy!
 
 
One thing we all love about summer is the bounty of fruits and veggies, right?! As it was very hot last week, I took the opportunity to make a really refreshing summer fruit gazpacho.  I know its more typical to make gazpacho from vegetables, but my husband and I have had some amazing versions with all sorts of fruits and they have truly inspired me! The recipe for this particular one will include a juicy mini watermelon and some fresh ripe peaches as the main ingredients. Then to round out the flavor, I supplemented with some amazing heirloom tomatoes and a variety of peppers I roasted in the oven to get a yummy smoky depth of flavor!

Get some ripe peaches and gorgeous tomatoes....ours are from the wonderful farmer's market nearby.....
Simmer them in hot water for 2 minutes, then shock them in a bowl of ice water.  That process allows you to peel the peaches and tomatoes so easily without losing any of the flesh of the fruits!
Now chop everything up.......and feel free to plant the pits and grow a peach tree!
While you do all this go ahead and put some assorted peppers ( I chose Poblanos and Cayennes ) under the broiler in your oven, continuously turning them.....
Once scorched, put them in a bowl and cover with plastic and let them steam, again this helps you remove the skin.
Remove the skins and seeds once they cool and throw them into the blender with everything else....watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, peppers, herbs ( I chose cilantro and dill) and whiz it all up!  After that, blend in some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to your taste and chill for a few hours.  I topped mine off with a little dill creme fresh that I made using dill, lime zest and juice, yogurt and sour cream all whisked together! yummy! cools of the heat from the cayenne peppers we have in the gazpacho. 
Drumroll please......

Finished product!
Enjoy!
 
 
A few weeks ago my husband and I made the cross country move to California's wonderful Bay Area! We did it the right way too, we drove! We stopped in some of this countries most amazing, spectacular, awe inspiring, breathtaking vistas and had an absolutely unforgettable time together! There are going to be a lot of exclamations points in this entry because it really was the trip of a lifetime.  You see, just before moving....and I mean JUST BEFORE moving, we also took 2 weeks to explore Scotland, France and England.  We got to see old friends, drive through the highlands of Scotland and lounge around in the wine country of Bourguigon eating cheese and drinking some of the best wine you could ever imagine!  
Started in London.....
Then we were off to Scotland! Edinburgh first...
Even found the little pub my father used to go to in Grad school.....
And then off we go to France!
The day after we flew home, we met the movers, packed up our apartment and began our drive.  We saw landmarks, gazed upon the beautiful countryside and saw the spectacular Grand Tetons!  I cannot describe the majesty. 

In any case, that brings me back to the fact that WE HAVE MOVED! We finally made it to the place we have been waiting to be for the entire time we have known each other. 
Needless to say, there are a lot of things going on right now, trying to settle in, get accustomed to our new jobs and new apartment and so on.  That is the reason that this, my first California post is not an amazing 5 course meal, but instead a simple little pound cake that I made for my husband to make happy after a night shift : )

Please do not compare the little humble pound cake to the photos above! Once we get more of our pots and pans unpacked I will have much more profound photos to share!

For now, please enjoy and if you want the recipe, it is at allrecipes.com 

 
 
Ok, we all know the true meaning of "Christmas"…. I am not talking about that…. I am talking about X-mas…the holiday celebrating cookies, gingerbread houses, evergreens decorated with lights and lots of presents! Not quite as profound, but hey…in mine, you get to make layered jello shots!  Keep reading….these are so fun!

Lets begin with this lovely evergreen.  This Douglas Fir gave its life for us to enjoy our X-Mas. I wanted to do it justice!
Above, the end product all lit up! 
Below, the bits and scraps the tree-man cut off the base….
I turned those into a lovely wreath and a small but also lovely garland :) 
Here are some lovely gifts we found under the tree….the bows were made out of the wrapping paper itself by my lovely husband and myself.  Who knew we had such a creative bow-making side ?! Necessity is the mother of invention as they say, and we were out of ribbon!
Of course there is no X-mas without my Aunt Carolyn's family recipe for Christmas cookies! This year is no exception.
And of course, here's the fun jello shot that I told you about.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and it actually came out perfectly!

 
 
Ask anyone who has ever had a thanksgiving dinner, and had the option of having it at their house or someone else's and you will inevitably hear, "Let's have it here….that way WE get the leftovers!" And rightfully said! One should always strive to have Thanksgiving leftovers in the home! There are SO many things to make, and here are a few we made this year.

The Classic….the never beaten…..the Sandwich!
Layers of cold thick sliced turkey breast, chilled cranberry sauce, some sautéed veggies and a slathering of gravy on each side of our toasted --Challah in our case :) -- bread! Yum Yum!

Of course, you can get more creative and use the dark meat in something that lends itself well to a flavorful, dark meat…. MEATBALLS! I used the stuffing as the "bread crumb mixture" that you would usually use for meatballs. It works great!

And really, anything you can use chicken as a protein you can substitute in your very flavorful Thanksgiving bird!
Chicken Pot Pie, transform into Turkey Pot Pie. Combine your turkey with chopped veggies, Take a skillet and add some butter, flour, salt, pepper and milk that you make into a white sauce into your pyrex pan and bake with your favorite crust on top!
I used left over pie crust from my pecan pie. I had put it in the freezer and thawed it, rolled it out and placed on top of the chicken and veggie mixture. 
Along with the above, we made a stock from the turkey bones and some onions, herbs, lots of salt and simmered for a few hours on the stove. I used this stock to make a yummy veggie soup later on in December and have some in the freezer to use again later.  
 
 
Ok, so Thanksgiving and Hannukah will not happen on the same date again for a little over 77,000 years! So lets make this special! Once again my husband and I are doing it for 2 but acting like we are feeding an army!  A frequent theme in our celebrations.  We consider it practice for the day that we hopefully do need to feed the whole family in our dream home with our dream yard, the dog, the kids…..you get the picture.
Some of the items on this years holiday table were very embracing of the Jewish culture, such as our stuffing which began with a home made challah loaf!
And then add the usual players of sausage, sautéed carrot, celery and onion, and for a nice personal touch, we added some apples and sage.  Turned out scrumptious!
And then, some…..not so much.  For instance, the bacon covered star of the show!  This may not be kosher, but it is definitely tasty! This is how my dad has done it since I can remember and it is how I will always do it!
Just wait until you see this beautiful bird all roasted up! Now, lessons learned from last year…..the skin on the bird was a bit splotchy with only the bacon.  I realized this is because I take the bacon off for the last 10 min or so of roasting, and since the bacon fat was irregularly spaced with the meat of the bacon, the browning becomes a bit irregular.  Solution? Yes! Baste with some olive oil (NOT BUTTER because butter has water mixed with fat and hence will once again give you an irregular browning!!) since olive oil is purely oil, no irregularity and perfect browning! GREATEST TIP EVER, right?!

Gotta have the usual cranberry sauce, mine has a lot of citrus zest in it and I would not trade it for any canned commodity! 
We also had some not so usual players for the special event of the two holidays occurring on the same day! Here's the best combo ever….sweet potato Kugel!
But we also loved the combo of Pecan pie ingredients with the traditional dessert of Rugelach! 
Here they are amongst the whole spread!
 

Pecan Pie

11/15/2013

1 Comment

 
Well what is there to say about Pecan Pie…..it is SWEET and gooey and yummy and gone in a flash! This pie is one that I had never eaten (other than the little pecan pie cups you buy at the grocery store…which after making the actual pie I can say without doubt….ARE NOT PECAN PIE!) and I had never made either.  My very crafty friend Katy who has a wonderful blog of all her crafty creations Katy Did It, brought up the idea of trying this fall classic together and that's just what we did!  

For the recipe, we looked online and compared different versions and made decision to use The Pioneer Woman's recipe.  She never disappoints when it comes to baked goods and having never made this before, I can tell you we were not about to invent our own recipe!
That's exactly how it looked coming out of the oven! No filter on that shot at all!  A thing of beauty indeed :)
Can you tell who scooped out the brown sugar? Crafty people do all things in a cute way is my experience! We also measured out how many whole pecans we would need to make the top pretty before going about chopping up the rest of the pecans for the recipe.  
Here it is all ready to go in the oven…..
And here is Katy documenting the momentous occasion!
After it came out, the recipe said to wait 2 hours to overnight to allow it to cool and not be runny inside when you slice.  Ya, we didn't do that!  I think we sat on our hands and looked at it for about 45 min or so before giving in and digging in! Although the recipe is right….if you do this it is like hot lava inside….I still say it was worth it!  After it cooled overnight I sliced up a piece for my husband and I realized it was almost all gone, so I snapped a photo of it as quickly as I could!
And shortly thereafter, there was none!  I hope you all make one of these this holiday and enjoy!