Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Thanks to my Mom & Dad for this hysterical picture from possibly 30 years ago...  FYI this is why my blog is named what it is.  The scissors in this photo did not actually exist, my goofy dad added them in photoshop, but it certainly embodies my personality as a child (and an adult actually).  Too funny.


My yard is my solace, and today was just another example of how beautiful the East Bay can be.  I spent the morning out in the garden, cleaning up the late spring leftover dandelions and sneaky sprouting blackberry bushes.  I trimmed some of the roses, snipped off cherry tree shooters and finished the morning's work by emptying out the dry pots that need new flowers for the summer.  I find such joy in doing these projects- tomorrow I will be at the nursery first thing, buying vegetables, blooms and any other plants that catch my eye.  I hope to start BBQ'ing with friends again soon, it's been much too long...

I love this house.

<3  B

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cooking Fun.

Today I have returned from a long weekend up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, twisted ankle in tow but all together in good spirits.  Some dear friends were getting married up on a beautiful homestead and I was honored to attend with bells on. Their union was memorable indeed- it was a great deal of fun to spend time with almost the entire population of friends I've made in the last 12 years of living in the East Bay.  Despite the rain and clouds, a good time was had by all, perhaps too good of a time by some (myself included *wink*), but I know we all left Nevada City feeling absolutely full of love <3

As I mentioned before, yes, I twisted my ankle.  Pretty badly actually, but I'm surviving.  My mom and I went for walk Sunday night in Roseville because the weather was so fair- I became lost in chatter, giggling mid conversation and turned my ankle off a curb.  Ouch.  Impaired for two days by a giant purple foot, I was anxious and feeling the need to return back home- I missed the house, my yard and the comfort of my squishy couch and my kitchen...  It was lovely to spend time with my hilarious parents, I so enjoyed their company (as I always do) but it was time to come home... I needed to cook!

I hobbled through the market in quite a hurry today in order to keep weight off the bum leg, which was frustrating because the sunshine and smiling faces were so welcoming.  I was able to pick up some fresh spinach, potatoes, mushrooms and green onions for dinner that I will be pairing with farm raised salmon and a dijon mustard sauce.  It's taking everything in my power not to start cooking right now- luckily I have a good book and a comfy blanket to keep me occupied until it's actually dinner time, sparing my darn ankle and giving me time to research more recipes.

The end result was just what I wanted.  Yummers.

So tired, time for sleeps,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The other night I was craving pizza from a well known Bay Area pizza house, but couldn't make the trek out to Oakland to get a slice.  I decided to attempt my own, which turned out pretty good.  I cheated a little and used a pre-made dough because I am awful with "breads", but the rest of the items I used were fresh from the Concord Farmers Market.  The pizza turned out crunchy on the edges and chewy, gooey on the inside, which if I do say so myself, was quite tasty.  The hubbs loved it and agreed it was actually better on the second day as leftovers...

*Broiled Spinach, Bacon & Gorgonzola Pizza*
1 lb. pre-made pizza dough (I got mine from Trader Joe's)
1 large bushel of baby spinach
1 head of garlic, chopped finely
1 lb. uncured hickory bacon (Kinder's is great)
1/2 lb. fresh Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 lb. white mushrooms (if preferred)
Olive oil

Take a large non-stick cookie sheet, or a pizza pan if you own one, and coat with olive oil, leaving just a sheen to keep the dough from sticking.  Set your oven to 450 degrees.  Spread the dough evenly across the cookie sheet leaving about a half inch space around the edges for the pizza to expand.  Once your dough has been spread you need to work quickly adding the toppings.  I used the spinach as a foundation, added the garlic, then the Gorgonzola cheese.  I cooked the bacon separately in a skillet until it was almost burnt in order for it to be really crispy.  Once the bacon cooled, I used kitchen shears to cut the bacon into small pieces, the I spread the pieces across the top of the pizza.  I decided to toss in a few mushrooms for good measure, mostly because I love them.  Now that the pizza toppings are resting on the dough, sprinkle olive oil lightly over the entire pie.  Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes.

The glory of this pizza is that the garlic roasts into the crust, the Gorgonzola melts over every inch of the spinach and the bacon stays super crunchy on top of it all.  I sliced up a few vine ripe tomatoes to top off my pieces, balancing out the salty, crisp flavors.  The pizza itself is very rich, without sauce, but I suppose if you are a sauce fiend you could add a tomato base under the spinach.

I think there are a couple pieces left in the fridge- they may not be there in about 20 minutes when I decide it's lunch time!



Sunday, May 20, 2012


I'm back... and I think ten pounds heavier.  It's been a few days (actually a week already, yikes) since I've written a new entry, but that's because I've been out of town on a "staycation" with my friend Mel in the Livermore Valley.  I jokingly refer to her family's gorgeous home as my favorite B&B- with it's sweeping entry staircase, chef's kitchen, beautiful gardens, stone pool/hot tub combo and some of the swankiest patio lounge chairs I've ever seen, it really is like a little paradise.  I always feel so comfy and relaxed when visiting, and we certainly have a blast when we are there.  She invited me down for an extended weekend of doing what we do best, wine tasting and lying on the lawn.  It was a much needed escape that really did feel like an actual vacation, so much so that the hubby decided to join us last minute.  Bless his heart commuting from Livermore to South San Francisco each day just to hang out with us.  Who am I kidding? He was obviously just stoked about the swimming pool and hot tub. (*wink*) 

Mel and I began our first day by having lunch with our friend Annie at the brand spanking new BBQ & spirits joint, Sauced.  This place just opened up about two weeks ago right on First Street in downtown Livermore and they specialize in, you guessed it, sauce.  Perhaps a gentle play on words, they aren't just referring to BBQ sauce.  Yes my friends, they're slinging whiskey too.  Sauce on your chicken, sauce in your glass, the most intense chili on earth, pork ribs flying all over the place, hot mustard galore, sauce, sauces, sauced.  The restaurant itself is quite large, smartly decorated and has a huge outdoor patio which is nice when the weather is pleasant.  You can sit inside of course, the bar gets jam packed as it gets later in the day and they certainly have plenty of flat screens to keep you entertained.  The cocktails are strong and served in mason jars and the chicken wings come served in what resembles an old pie tin, something that made me smile.  Good times were had all around, so best of luck to the people behind Sauced BBQ & Spirits.

(After lunch we stopped at a grocery store and had the most hysterical social boy/girl interaction with the Firemen of Station 8... Love those fellas.)

Back at the house Wednesday evening I was put in charge of cooking up some tasty treats to pair with wines from Krutz Family Cellars- the hubbs had been given them as samples and thought a wine and food pairing would be a fun way to incoporate both of our writing hobbies.  I borrowed recipes from Chef John Lyle of Hardcore Farm to Face, to pair with Krutz' 2009 Anderson Valley Akins Vineyard Pinot Noir and their 2009 Napa Valley Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvingnon.  As a starter I made St. Andre stuffed endives wrapped in Serrano ham, grilled and dripping to perfection.  I followed those up with Umami grilled cheese sandwiches, loaded with St.George and crimini mushrooms.  We ate every last bite, hit up the hot tub and fell asleep all over the lawn chairs, stuffed silly.

Thursday morning Mel and I visited our favorite place for breakfast and "Manmosa's", The Riata Diner & Tavern.  You heard me right... It's a mimosa, served in a pint glass with crushed ice.  A certain firefighter (there's a lot of them in Livermore!) explained that they're called "Manmosa's" because a dude wouldn't even *think* of using a dainty stemmed champagne glass, so he asks for them in pint glasses.  We immediately saw the amazing-ness in this theory, mostly because of the size of the glass.  A couple of those babies and we're good to go!  Mel also had hollandaise sauce for the first time that morning, on her Signature Mexican Benedict, piled high with chorizo and hot sauce.  I was very jealous, my simple omelet paled in comparison- at least I had deep fried bacon to make up for it.
The highlight of our adventures these past four days was visiting Bent Creek Winery.  The Story:  "Nestled in the rolling hills southeast of Livermore, Bent Creek is ideally situated. Tucked against an oak-dotted ridge and surrounded by vineyard, the winery enjoys spectacular views of the valley.
When Pat and Tom Heineman purchased the property in 1980, opening a winery was not in their plans. They wanted to own some land “out in the country”. They chose the location for its beauty and feeling of serenity. As educators in the Livermore school district they met the couple who would later become their partners in the winery, Carol and Rich Howell. Pat and Carol were fellow elementary school principals in Livermore. Tom was the director of curriculum and technology for the district. Rich was a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The two couples shared many common interests including the enjoyment of good wine.  During the 1990’s when Wente Winery planted vineyards adjacent to the Heineman’s property, Pat and Tom were impressed with their beauty. By 1997, with Wente's assistance, they planted a Syrah vineyard on their land. The vineyard thrived and now produces high quality grapes.  After tasting the wine made by other winemakers from their grapes, the four friends considered the possibility of opening a small winery. They took enology classes at UC Davis together, and established Bent Creek Winery in 2002. Although they have divided some of the winery responsibilities, they all work together on every aspect of wine production from caring for the vines, to pressing the grapes to greeting visitors in the tasting room. Their goal is to craft small lots of complex wine primarily from the grapes grown in the Heineman’s vineyard and other Livermore Valley vineyards..."

We had an amazing time with Tom, Pat and Carol the day we visited, tasting through their HUGE wine list (which, btw is FREE.  No tasting fee, 11 wines to sample!!)  We ended up leaving with four bottles: Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and a delicious bottle of Zinfadel Port.  Not only are the wines unique and balanced, the staff is incredible to talk to.  Tom's a car junkie, like me, and was more than willing to let us take a spin in his 1956 Chevy truck- I'm still trying to convince him to sell it to me, hahaha.  Also in Tom's collection, the ever popular pumpkin orange 57 Chevy Bel-Air, a favorite photo centerpiece to commemorate your visit.  I can honestly say, I've never laughed so hard with friends (new and old) at a winery.  Bent Creek Winery is definitely a gem.

Mel's folks returned from their trip, the dog no longer needed sitting and neither did the house.  Our last night in Livermore, The C's took us to a lovely dinner, we chatted about wine, work and friends.  Their hospitality was beyond appreciated and upon waking up today, a collective sigh filled the sun soaked bedroom we had been occupying for 4 days.  It was time to leave.  Like that last day of vacation when the weather seems to be perfect.  You don't want to go, but you have to.  Life begins again Monday morning, no Beth, you cannot hide in the spare bedroom and pretend you are a part of this fantastic household.

Such a wonderful Staycation.  I hope to visit again soon.  And Mel... Thank You.

Time for dinner,


Monday, May 14, 2012

Foodie Weekend.

Yesterday we gave the Walnut Creek Farmer's Market another try, and I must say, my opinion has changed a bit since last week.  This time around we made sure to get there during peak hours- what a difference!  The market was packed, the sun was out and the vendors had plenty of goods to choose from.  Again, this market is open every Sunday from 9-2pm and takes up the majority of the Northern part of Locust Street in downtown.  We also visited the Diablo Valley Farmer's Market on Saturday, which is located on North Wiget Lane in the Shadelands business park- it was huge (probably 50+ vendors) and very crowded.  That market runs on Saturdays from 9-1pm and was voted the number one market by Walnut Creek Magazine in 2010 (also the #3 farmer's market in the state). Parking is ample at both locations, but please remember to leave your dogs at home as they are not allowed to wander through the market with you.  Here's what you have to look forward to...

- Talk with Farmers' and learn how they grow your food.
- Visit with neighbors and friends and meet new people within your community.
- Enjoy live music while shopping outside.
- Buy Locally grown produce from California Farmers.
- Stock up on local honey, olive oil, vinegars, preserves and delicious ethnic food.
- Buy local organic beef and fresh, wild seafood.
- Select lovely fresh flower bouquets.
- Visit the information booth to learn more about our Farmers and vendors, pick up new recipes and nutrition information.
- Go Green by purchasing green bags, reusable cloth bags (instead of plastic bags for produce) and baskets.

I was thrilled that there were fish and meat vendors this time at both markets.  We ended up buying some fresh halibut and grass fed beef .  I wasn't able to catch the name of the fish vendor, but the meat came from Holding Ranch.  Holding Ranch offers beef and lamb that is wholly raised on grass, never receiving any supplements, antibiotics, corn or other feeds that are unnatural to ruminant animals. For 12 years, Holding Ranch cattle were raised in the LaMorinda Hills as well as in Danville using rotational grazing practices designed to optimize the health of the native grasslands. They handle their animals humanely, using techniques developed by leading animal behavior experts.  We will be using this beef tonight in our homemade tacos. 

Again, we picked up cheese from Achadinha Cheese Company.  This time we chose the fresh goat cheese curds (Poutine!) and the Broncha, a salty rich blend of goat & cow's milk. 

The hubby chose a few things from Bolani East & West Gourmet Afghan Food.  He liked the Kadoo sauce, a butternut, garlic and olive oil mixture that spreads easily on the Potato Bolani he also chose.  Initially found in only a few of the Bay Area’s farmers’ markets, this unique fusion of East and West flavors rapidly gained popularity strictly through word of mouth and the power of a sample. Billal Sidiq is an "Ambassador of Love" in most of the San Francisco Bay Area's Farmers' Markets and even beyond. He represents his company with an inviting face, running mouth, and hands full of samples. Today East and West participates in up to 100 farmers’ markets every week. The product is now also found in Whole Foods markets and Andronico’s.

We loved the pasta from Il Pastaio so much, we just had to go back for more.  The Gnocchi is spectacular so I grabbed a 1 pound bag of the original.  The previous Crab ravioli we tried was delicious, but this time we chose the large Cheese & Spinach stuffed squares, along with a container of their handmade Pesto sauce.

Metropolis Baking Company caught my eye once again with their giant, crusty domes of fresh sourdough.  I sliced a few chunks off last night and served with our halibut, along with roasted brussel sprouts and squash blossoms.

I can't say enough about Oaktown Jerk beefy jerky.  Oaktown Jerk is proudly located in Oakland, CA. Their beef jerky is made with certified Piedmontese beef (grass fed, hormone free beef) and all of their ingredients are fresh and purchased locally. The final product is both chewy and flavorful.  We bought the Thai Basil this trip, the hubby can't get enough.  Plus, owner & chef Randall Hughes is just a super cool guy. 

Amongst our other gatherings: edible flower salad, apricots, nectarines, baby squash, cherries, onions, basil and peppers.  The fridge is fully stocked and ready to go!  Time to get cookin'.

Happy Monday,


Sunday, May 13, 2012

I Heart Half Moon Bay.

This past Friday I was able to escape to the seashore for a much needed visit... With the wind tousling my hair and a huge smile plastered across my face, I headed down highway 92 in search of coastal pleasures, to that laid back little slice of heaven, Half Moon Bay.  I was lucky that day, the sun was on my side, the fog had burnt off early in the morning and the wind was resting for a few hours.  Needless to say, it was gorgeous.  Originally I went in search of new foods, flower shops and some general sight-seeing, but my day turned out to be one of the best I've had in a very long time, outside of needing writing material.  Thanks to the kindness and warm hearted individuals I encountered along the way, my love of Half Moon Bay was solidified, through and through.

For those of you who don't know me very well, I possess what I like to refer to as a "borderline obsession with surf culture."  I do not claim to be a surfer, although I have feebly attempted the sport, but I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the people that are involved in these communities.  Often times I will drive miles upon miles to observe and enjoy, in awe, these maniacal watermen and their love of the sea.  I am envious of their abilities, bravery and determination, their passion and devotion to riding waves and enjoying the sea itself.  I have always felt a strong connection to the ocean, having grown up in Northern Sonoma County, 20 minutes away from the hundreds of beaches that line the California coastline.  Daytrips to the beach have been a part of my life since I was a small child, feeling as normal and comfortable as any backyard BBQ would.  When I was young, we would camp on the cliffs, play on the sand and spend a good amount of time out at towns like Jenner, Bodega Bay and Point Reyes.  These are the places I escape to when in need of respite in my adult years.  They are home. 

Admittedly, it was my first trip to Hawaii that got me hooked, about 9 years ago.  Lucky enough, having friends who live on the islands, I was able to immerse myself in the everyday culture-  the people I have met and spent time with on the Hawaiian Islands have forever changed me, in the very best ways.  It's these feelings and experiences that have only furthered my love of sleepy little beach towns and the people that reside in them.  The characters, laughter, sportmanship and camaraderie that most surf towns encapsulate will continuously be a source of happiness for me.

That being said, check out some of my local Half Moon Bay discoveries...

At the Garden Deli Cafe, located in old downtown HMB, I couldn't resist the sandwiches.  Made to order using their own handmade bread, these monstrous fresh sandwiches are sure to fill your belly.  I went for the salami on wheat, stacked high and loaded with tomatoes, pickles, sprouts and jack cheese.  I could've easily been full off of a half portion, but I managed to finish the whole thing, leaving no need to eat much of anything the rest of the afternoon.  They have a wonderful outdoor seating area that is absolutely bursting with flowers this time of year- the day I visited, a local musician was playing some sweet jams on his guitar, quite well actually.  My only advice: get there well before noon or a good hour after or you'll be standing in a 10 person line waiting to order.  This place is popular.

Next, I stopped by the Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company.  This wine bar carries over 800 boutique and specialty wines from all over the world, including a massive selection of cheeses.  A perfect pit stop before your picnic on the beach.  I sampled the NV Ambroise Crement, a light creamy glass of sparkling brut rose.  Along with an impressive selection of wines, they also carry a great assortment of wine and cheese oriented gift items.  Tastings are available in 2, 3 & 6 ounce pours, or if you are feeling particularly festive, take home an entire bottle.

I wandered down Main Street a little further and stumbled across Barterra Winery.  Started by the grandson of an Italian winemaker who immigrated to America in 1901, Barterra Winery takes great pride in the quality and unique character of their wines. Offerings include a large selection drawn from vineyards throughout Northern California, including the Napa, Sonoma, Amador Valley and Santa Cruz areas.  Several of their wines have been awarded medals in international wine competitions, one of which is the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve- I tasted and loved it.  In addition to their wines, they also produce and sell an extensive collection of olive oil, with flavors such as basil, jalapeno, orange and garlic.

As I was driving deeper into town, a certain building captured my attention with it's exquisite architecture and massive, modern presence.  At first I thought it was a hotel of some sort, but it turns out it is a restaurant.  Cetrella.  I wasn't able to actually try this place out, but I will definitely be back for a visit soon.  They are known for turning out memorable Mediterranean-themed food based on top-notch, often local ingredients and the seasonal menu balances fresh seafood, satisfying steaks, chops and flavorful local produce.  Unfortunately they are only open for dinner starting at 5:30pm and Sunday brunch, beginning at 10:30am.  Like I said, I will be back to check this one out in the future.

Initially, I got the idea to take a trip to Half Moon Bay to pick the hubby up a t-shirt from the Maverick's Surf Shop.  We've stayed in Princeton-by-the-Sea previously and had a great time wandering the small fishing town, sipping beers at the Half Moon Bay Brewery and stopping by the surf shop to catch a glimpse of the local boys in their element.  At that time I enthusiastically, but stupidly, purchased a black Mav's hoodie (I own a pug, big mistake, should have grabbed the heather grey) and chatted comfortably with a young fellow that happened to be working that day by himself.  He was more than friendly, offering tips and info for good people watching, wave ogling, etc.  We left feeling pretty darn cool, having visited the board shop and acquiring a little piece of awesome, i.e. my beloved hoodie, which is now so well-loved it's next to threadbare.  In my mind, I HAD to go back and get a new one or at least a shirt for the dude in my life.

*A little History...  Mavericks Surf Shop is owned and operated by Mavericks Pioneer Jeff Clark.  Jeff is one of the most noteworthy and respected big-wave surfers, famous for surfing Mavericks alone for 15 years before it was widely discovered by the big-wave surfing community. He is also recognized as one of the premier big wave surfboard shapers in the country and shapes a full line of custom boards.  He was also featured in one of my favorite surf documentaries, Riding Giants. The surf shop was founded in 1995 in downtown Half Moon Bay but is now located at 25 Johnson Pier, with sweeping views of Pillar Point Harbor and Mavericks.* 

This past Friday, as I wandered into the surf shop, I immediately recognized that Jeff was there, sitting at his computer, quietly involved.  I pretended to play it cool, browsing the piles of t-shirts and rashguards, ducking behind the various fixtures, acting as if I hardly noticed *the* Jeff Clark five feet away from my silly, star struck self.  I bought my shirt, chatted a bit with the warm spirit behind the counter, pet Pico the dog and walked slowly back up to my car.  Then it hit me.  If I did not march my booty right back down to that store and introduce myself, pay my respects and get a smile out of him, I'd regret it forever.  So that's what I did.  I mustered up the courage, walked in and said hello, I think I told him I loved him or something crazy and smiled like a kid in a candy store.  Jeff was as gracious, humble and friendly as could be ( I think he was laughing internally, but I didn't mind), a totally laid back dude who was more than happy to be photographed and given a girly handshake from one of his biggest admirers... Me.  I was over the moon.

It's safe to say, the simple and small pleasures are what make life so special.  This was one of those days.  Thanks Jeff, for making me grin like a goofball.


Enjoy the last few hours of the weekend,


Wednesday, May 9, 2012


What a great article- the hubby forwarded it to me this morning, having read it on  I've started really pushing myself to workout these past couple weeks (mostly running and bicycling), so I've been keeping my eyes out for articles such as this one...  The fact that it has to do with food is a superbonus!

Top 6 Workout Recovery Foods | ThePostGame
By DualFit

Lifting is great and some people enjoy the soreness they feel the next day after an intense workout while others really can't stand it -- especially if they did a crazy leg workout. But you know the phrase: You can feel sore or you can feel sorry. Feeling sore can offer a sense of achievement. Still, it's important to recover from many long training sessions, so try incorporating the foods below to recuperate more quickly.

Why Do I Feel Sore? Many people feel the soreness but aren't sure where the pain comes from. The question that I get most often is, "How come I feel sore the day after, but not that same day?" The answer is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). So what causes this? When you work out, you are creating tiny tears in your muscles. This is normally a result of high intensity exercises such as heavy lifting or sprinting. Your muscles then want to recover, so they begin to heal themselves. Consuming an adequate amount of protein and nutrients, while giving your body enough time to rest helps accomplish this; and your muscles are built during this phase. That's why recovery days are very important.

1) Whole Grain Cereal: You may have heard that you should eat carbs before a workout, which is true, but you should also consume them after as well. Carbohydrates can help your body fight the fatigue that it feels after a workout by restoring your glycogen stores. When you exercise, you are using up all of your glycogen stores (or energy stores.) It's really important to replenish them after a workout so that you do not experience that sleepy feeling. Any carbohydrate snack will do but whole grains are always the best choice.

2) Cherries: Cherries are kind of like a magical fruit. They have many anti-inflammatory properties, which are really important for relieving muscle soreness. The antioxidant that gives cherries this healing ability is called anthocyanins. Many athletes consume tart cherry juice prior to workouts for this reason. Instead of popping that ibuprofen or Advil, reach for some nice, fresh cherries or cherry juice instead.

3) Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts -- whatever kind of nuts you want. All kinds of nuts are very high in Vitamin E. This vitamin has muscle strengthening powers which will ultimately help to fight muscle soreness. Once you begin to get stronger, you will notice that you are not as sore as you were when you first began training. When you have been training for a while, your muscles are stronger and you don’t tear the muscle as much as you did in the beginning. Less tears equals less soreness. Vitamin E also helps repair the damage that was done to the muscle tissue. Eat foods high in Vitamin E, like nuts, to help build that muscle strength…and keep training.

4) Berries: Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries all contain antioxidants called polyphenols. These antioxidants are what protect your cells against damage. Aside from their ability to reduce muscle pain, they also help protect against all the other damages that can be done to our cells that can cause cancer. Generally, the darker the berry, the more antioxidants it contains so try to eat dark berries such as blackberries and blueberries. They are a healthy and delicious snack. You can even throw them into your protein shake for an added bonus.

5) Salmon: Fish in general is loaded with protein and a ton of essential fatty acids. Fatty acids help to reduce inflammation which in turn fights muscle soreness. Not a fan of fish? Take a fish oil supplement.

6) Eggs: Particularly egg yolks. Ignore the cholesterol factor. Eggs are high in protein and Vitamin D. Both of these two things help fight muscle soreness and aid in muscle growth. Vitamin D has become one of the biggest deficiencies in the American diet. It is really important to consume foods high in this vitamin, especially to help reduce muscle pain. Many people tend to get rid of the yolk of the egg because of the added cholesterol and calories but those calories in the yolk are all really good calories. They provide vitamin D and protein. Eat the whole egg. If you do have high cholesterol, try to limit yourself to a couple whole eggs a week and consume Vitamin D fortified low fat milk.

Overview: All of these foods are high in many nutrients and vitamins that your body needs on a daily basis in order to sustain life. They all have the ability to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation so it's important to include them in your diet. Now, they aren't really "super" foods. If you have sore muscles and eat some eggs, you aren't going to automatically feel better but they will aid in the healing process. Aside from getting the right nutrients, it's important to allow yourself some rest. Taking one to two days a week off heavy training will be very beneficial for body. If you are an exercise freak and need to get to the gym, take it easy. Do some light cardio or lift lighter. You really only experience soreness when you push yourself to your limits.

Happy reading,

Shopsin's Party of Five

I have become obsessed with Shopsin's.  Right now I'm reading  "Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin"...

There are way too many things to say about this cookbook, the restaurant and the Shopsin family.  I adore Kenny's philosophy, his sense of humor and his well-loved recipes.  Look into it yourself, you'll be happily surprised.  Or watch the documentary "I Like Killing Flies" to get a better insight on the bizarre and strangely fabulous Shopsin clan. 

Giggle of the day:

A PARTY OF FIVE...  by Robert Hershon
*No Groups Over Four - One of Shopsin’s many rules*

You could put a chair at the end or push the tables together...
but don't bother...
This banged-up little restaurant where you would expect
no rules at all has a firm policy against seating parties of five…
And you know you are… A PARTY OF FIVE.

It doesn’t matter if one of you offers to leave,
or if you say you could split into a party of three and a party of two,
or if the five of you come back tomorrow in Richard Nixon masks
and try to pretend that you don’t know each other.

Even if you’re a beloved regular.
Even if the place is empty.
Even if you bring logic to bear.
Even if you’re a tackle for the Chicago Bears.

You will always be A PARTY OF FIVE.
A hundred blocks from here…
A hundred years from now…
You will still be… A PARTY OF FIVE.

You will never savor the soup… or compare the coffee…
or hear the wisdom of the cook and the wit of the waitress…
or get to hum the old-time tunes…
among which you will find no quintets.

This truly makes me laugh everytime I read it, check out the links and enjoy!  The documentary is available on Netflix and AppleTV. 

:) B


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday's Treasures.

Today has been a good day so far.  The weather is gorgeous, perfect for a stroll in the park or a bicycle ride down one of the many trails in the area.  Or, of course, the farmer's market!  Going about my regular Tuesday business, I landed at the market around 11am to find it swarming with people.  I suppose the sunshine helps draw out the crowds, but it was still lovely and as pleasant as always.  Patrons walking around in shorts and flip flops, mom's pushing strollers, a groovy guitar player singing to the masses... I love my town.  I was able to get in and out pretty quickly today, although I half contemplated lying down in the grass and taking a nap at one point.  But alas, I had a checklist of stuff to get done this morning, so I shopped around and moved on...

I made a point of catching the farm and vendor names today, to familiarize myself with the folks that I see every week on my adventures  One thing I did notice was that not all sellers had business cards, or even signs for that matter, which wasn't very helpful.  Signs people, signs!  Get your name out there!  I had to ask a few folks for more information and they were more than willing to share, so that was nice.  Most were very happy to hear that I've been writing about the market, which made me smile because I have so much fun doing it and they deserve the attention.

Today's picks:

First and foremost, a round of hearty and delicious Popeye bread from Great Harvest Bread Company (  This $6 loaf is a mixture of freshly milled whole wheat, garlic, onions, spinach, parmesan cheese, red bell peppers and sea salt.  Practically a meal in itself, although I will be serving it with chicken tonight.  The fellow behind the table was so kind to offer me FREE day old varieties to take home as well, so he recommended the Dakota rolls (whole wheat with poppy, sunflower, sesame seed) and the classic Whole Wheat dinner rolls.  Score!  How awesome is that?  Apparently it's a regular thing for them to give day old freebies with purchase, which I think is a great idea.  I'm sure I'll be visiting again next time thanks to their warm generosity.

Next, I picked up some plump vine ripe tomatoes and shiny yellow onions from Swank Farms (  I buy these items from this family farm every week- they are located in Hollister, California but make the trek up to Concord to participate in the Todos Santos market, along with other local markets as well.  If you are down in the Hollister area during the fall season, make sure to visit their famous corn maze and pumpkin patch- great for kids!

The hubby and I have recently become addicted to apricots, so I grabbed a bag of them from CMC Farms (  Located in Lodi, CMC Farms continue to provide the highest quality California grown fruits, including Apricots, Peaches, and Grapes, along with specialty items such as Jenerik, Grape Leaves, and Raisins.

Cherries!! I can't get enough of cherries this time of year!  I can eat a bushel of them easily in one sitting and not even blink an eye.  Joe Gotelli and Sons cherries caught my eye this week, with their ruby red skins and sweet, juicy flavor.  I had to restrain myself from bringing home an entire box.  These babies don't come cheap, $4 a pound, but are well worth the splurge.  I wasn't able to find any sort of website for JG & Sons, although I know they are based out of Aptos- but I also know that they frequent almost all Contra Costa markets on a regular basis.

The Nunez Organic Farm (  is one of my favorite tents in the square.  Family owned and operated since 2003, Nunez farms offers you the the freshest produce of the
highest quality. From their 100% organic fields to your dinner table, they are sure that you and your family will enjoy their top quality selection of premium produce goods.  Based out of Watsonville, the bosom of fabulous produce farms, this is where, I promise, you will find the biggest head of cauliflower on the planet- and the flavor is incredible, hands down.  Since I usually buy the cauliflower here, I opted for their broccoli today.  It's a healthy, full tree of green goodness.  Can't wait to try it tonight.

CV Poultry is the only vendor that sells farm fresh eggs at the market.  Cheap ($3 a dozen), organic and delicious, their large brown eggs come from hormone free grass fed chickens.  Again, I wasn't able to locate a website or other vendor info, but they're always around on Tuesday's.  They'll even cut the dozen in half, for those who don't consume as many eggs, costing only a buck fifty.  These eggs taste nothing like store bought, definitely worth a try.

Achindinha Goat Cheese Company ( hails from my old stomping grounds near Petaluma. In 1997, Jim and Donna Pacheco sold their cows and bought dairy goats. They now have close to 1600 goats. The girls are able to eat pasture all year long on 290 acres and eat all of the brewer’s grain from the local breweries they want.  I chose their Capricious (Ca-pree-shus) cheese ~ it won "Best in Show" at the American Cheese Society event in 2002 and named one of Saveurs "50 favorite cheeses in the United States" in 2005. Capricious is an aged cheese hand rolled in an old european style. A truly unique artisan cheese made with attention to detail and naturally aged in the fresh Pacific Ocean air.

Last but not least, Cecchini & Cecchini Asparagus (  I'm pretty sure these guys are already well known in the farmer's market industry- their asparagus is incredible.  Cecchini & Cecchini is the only surviving asparagus grower in Contra Costa County.  We're talking melt-in-your-mouth good.  Can't get much fresher than this, local, right out of Brentwood.  Along with great asparagus, they also grow 5 varieties of grapes on their 40 acre plot in Knightsen, if you are interested.

Later this week I'll be hitting up the Thursday Night Todos Santos market to check out what's new and different in the evening hours, so I'm looking forward to that.  I will keep you all posted!

Happy Eating,




Monday, May 7, 2012

Jucy or Juicy (?) Lucy.

Now I know this next concoction might not sound as healthy as it should, but after running six miles today and bicycling three, I'm in need of some serious protein. I also woke up with the unbearable craving for a cheeseburger. I got out of bed, went to the gym, ran some errands, took our little blind pug for a walk, etc.  The whole time I couldn't help but think to myself, "Mmmm cheeseburger." I could've easily made the 25 minute trek to the closest In-N-Out burger but I decided that I must stick to my guns and prepare my own version according to my May standards. I didn't say anything about this being overly healthy May, I said it had to be fresh food. I managed to find some 100% grass fed organic extra lean beef, some local organic cheese and a bunch of fresh produce from the market to help me out with this one... 

We originally got the idea to make "Jucy Lucy's" by watching Anthony Bourdain's 'No Reservations' while on a snowboarding trip in Tahoe.  He was visiting Minneapolis and stopped by the well known roadside diner, "Matt's Bar", where they were happy to serve him a giant cheese filled burger that made all of us drool just staring at the TV.  There is an entire side story to the Jucy Lucy, a rivalry between two neighboring diner/bars that you can read about online.  Who invented it?  That's still up for discussion- all I can tell you is that it's spelled Jucy Lucy at one joint and Juicy Lucy at the other.  It's an interesting read, check it on Wikipedia (  Seeing as I was surrounded by hungry dudes that weekend, we immediately rushed to the grocery store to try and duplicate the squishy, molten filled dream of a cheeseburger.  We were successful, and covered in grease, but happy as pigs in mud.  I've been hooked ever since.

The concept is really simple.

*Wannabe Jucy Lucy's* (big 1/2 pounders!)
1 lb. 100% grass fed extra lean beef
1 brick cheese of choice
1 vine ripe tomato, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, sliced & grilled golden brown
Sliced pickles
1/2 cup of mustard
Several leaves of red leaf lettuce
Salt/pepper to taste
Sliced artisanal bread or store bought buns

Making a burger is pretty darn easy, so I won't get into too many details.  Basically, break the pound of beef into four pieces, blend mustard into meat and shape into 1/2 inch thick patties.  Slice cheese, place 3 to 4 pieces on top of one patty, then take a second patty and stack on top.  Pinch edges of patties together forming a sort of cheese pouch.  Place in broiler for 5 minutes each side, flipping only once.  Throw on a bun and top with your favorite classic condiments.  **Caution: the cheese inside of the burger will be VERY hot, so it's advised that you let it sit a few minutes before chomping into it.  I know, it's hard to resist.**

The end result of this recipe is an ooey, gooey, greasy mouthful of good ol' Americana tastiness.  If you are really looking to gorge yourself on awesome, mix it up and throw a slice of a completely different cheese on top just for good measure.  Hey, why not?  Indulge a little!

Hmm.  Maybe I should've bought more beef?



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Market Funday.

Considering the fact that we didn't get home from celebrating Cinco De Mayo at Spoontonic Lounge last night until 3am, we woke up pretty bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning.  Thanks to a shot of espresso and a whiff of fresh air, I was able to convince the hubby to tag along to the Walnut Creek Farmer's Market for the remaining hour or so it was still open.  I've been meaning to check it out for the past few weeks but haven't been able to muster the motivation to get up early on a Sunday morning.  Can you blame me?  Who doesn't like sleeping in?  But today was different.  We had a great day yesterday and we were still riding the goodtimes wave of happy-go-lucky "let's do something new and fun" energy.  That, and, we also needed something for dinner...

The market spans a good chunk of Locust Street in Walnut Creek, packed with a load of vendors from all over the bay area.  It runs from 9-2pm on Sundays, with a recent extent of hours (it used to end at 1pm).  Today we learned that arriving at 1:15 is probably not the best plan of attack- many of the vendors had sold through their stock and were packing up for the afternoon.  The benefit of arriving late is that last minute items are usually cut in half, price wise.  The farmers and craftspeople are attempting to empty their tables and get the heck out of dodge while making a last minute buck or two, so that's a nice perk. 

I must admit that overall, the WC market felt a little... odd.  Without being overly negative, both the hubbs and I felt that it was a very "fancy" farmer's market.  Honestly I'm a little biased, living in Concord and having my own beloved local market.  But to me, what makes a market great is the feeling it evokes.  This one felt a bit forced, almost trying too hard to resemble what a Farmer's Market *should* look like.  Now don't get me wrong, the vendor's were as friendly as could be, there was a great selection of goods and some very interesting variety, but the event as a whole didn't seem as homespun as other markets do.  Perhaps if I were to arrive earlier in the day, not at closing time,  I'd feel differently.  I couldn't help but feel rushed with only 45 minutes left to shop, a fault of my own.  I will certainly return, but next time I will make the effort to show up with enough time to thoroughly browse and chat with the vendors.

I'm not gonna lie, I can do a lot of damage in 45 minutes.  Of course I didn't leave empty handed!!

The hubby loves Oaktown Jerk ( beefy jerky.  We brought home the Star Anise & Habanero flavored jerky, which I swear will disappear within the next day or two.  This spicy hot beef will melt your tongue right off but you won't be able to stop eating it.  Owner and Head Chef Randall Hughes is a down to earth, super friendly dude... "I love to cook and the kitchen is where the culinary artist in me takes over. I was introduced to cooking in 1985 by two friends, renowned chefs Michael Isles and Jim Moffat. It's very satisfying for me to see my customers enjoying my culinary creations."

For dinner we bought crab stuffed ravioli from Il Pastaio (  Handmade pasta filled with fresh crab meat?  Yes please.  Their products "are produced in small batches, are made from scratch and are formulated to bring repeat business from recipe inception to tasting of the finished product."  Owner Francesco Avella hails from Naples and takes pride in the fact that Il Pastaio is "known for its distinctive quality pasta products, gnocchi and sauces..."  We also grabbed a pound of their spinach gnocchi to have later in the week.  As for sauce, we're topping our pasta with their Mediterranean blend- a mix of pear tomatoes, peppers, kalamata olives, capers, garlic and herbs.

What would dinner be without bread?  Potato Rosemary bread to be exact, fresh out of the oven from Metropolis Baking Company (  I plan on slicing off a few hunks to serve toasted aside our fancy pasta.  Metropolis Baking Company is a small bakery in Berkeley, CA, which specializes in traditional, regional Italian breads.  The bakery prides itself on its commitment to maintaining traditional artisan methods using the finest ingredients available.

Lastly, (I regret not catching the name of the family farm) we purchased some of the sweetest, juiciest, most fragrant apricots in existence.  I'm not normally a fruit gal, but these were too good to pass up.  $3 for a whole pound of fleshy, fuzzy goodness.  Yum.

Ahhhhhh, Sundays...  (breathing a sigh of relaxation).  I suppose this the end, my friend.  I'm off to enjoy today's purchases, sit in the sunshine and lazily waste away the rest of daylight.  My porch calls me.




Weekend Adventures.

What a beautiful weekend!  The weather is gorgeous and thankfully I've had a completely "unscheduled" couple of days to enjoy it.  Good food, lots of laughter and great company. 

Yesterday we wandered over to the Clayton Art & Wine Festival with a friend and found ourselves quickly immersed in beer soaked bliss.  Clayton is a little pleasantville town tucked into the base of Mount Diablo, teeming with families and a lovely little historic square.  It's a blended sort of wild west modern yuppie haven that once or twice a year throws a decent party, chalk full of arts and crafts, a wide beer selection and this year, a pretty good wine assortment.  In years past we've been a little disappointed with selection of beverages, but it seems someone finally got on board and amped up the quality of happy juice available.  Now let me see... I'm trying to remember the list of participants that we came across-- unfortunately the city of Clayton did not provide a vendor listing online, so I'm going off of memory here (believe me, I know I'm forgetting a ton)...

Shock Top
Longboard Lager
Sierra Nevada
Anchor Steam
Black Diamond
Chateau St Michelle
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Villa Mt Eden
Unruly Red
Nicholas Fuilette
Dancing Coyote
Concannon Vineyard

Like I said, the list is much larger, but those are the vendors I noticed right off the bat, pretty good in my opinion.  In general, the festival was similar to most others, with local craftsmen selling their wares and your typical run of the mill carnival food.  The thing that sets the Clayton festival apart from other local events is the good old fashioned home town feel that the town square, park and local businesses provide.  Places like Moresi's Chophouse, Skipolini's Pizza and Ed's Mudville Grill cater to the people, inviting guests to sit back, relax and take in the bustling scenery while enjoying a bite to eat or a pint of beer.  The festival occupies the majority of downtown Clayton, parking is free and for $20 you get a wine glass or pint glass and three drink tickets.  Not too shabby in my book.  Beer is the more cost efficient way to go if you ask me, you get an entire pint full of frothy goodness, while with wine you are limited to a small 2 ounce pour.  We were very happy to see that more wineries were involved this year- they even added a premium wine tent for those of you searching for a more "refined" beverage, although it'll cost you two tickets for a taste.  The entire event is kid and pet friendly (so many pooches!), but beware, it gets VERY hot out there so come prepared with shades, sunblock and if you're toting a furry friend with you, a water bowl.

As I sit and write this it occurred to me that I probably should've spoken up on Friday about it.  The festival runs through the weekend and will be ending shortly unfortunately, but keep it in mind for next year.  A good time was had by all, and for heaven's sake, the sunshine and friendly faces lining the streets were reason enough to feel completely happy.

Hope you all had a great weekend out there as well...

P.S.  The above photo was taken right at the start of the event, thus the vacant streets.  The hubby wanted a shot of the cool old town cop car.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Oh My Goodness.

Ok, I admit it, I am very ahead of myself on this one, but c'mon!  I want to relax and enjoy the weekend just as much as the next person.  It being Friday and all, I was trying to figure out a way to use up all of my foodie finds from this past shopping excursion- it's my goal to never let anything I purchase go to waste, of course.  We have a busy next couple of days coming up, so I thought I'd get this meal down on paper, er, computer screen, as soon as I had it prepped.  I was left with fresh salmon, a giant head of cauliflower, a bushel of brussel sprouts and some mighty fine looking shitake mushrooms.  Not bad after an entire week.  Can't wait to taste it!!

*Broiled Salmon filets with Shitake Butter*
1 lb. fresh, farm raised salmon
1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

I broil my salmon on a broiler pan in the oven.  For those of you unfamiliar, broiling is to cook by direct exposure to radiant heat.  Most home ovens have this setting- it allows for you to basically "grill" inside your home, with the process going much quicker than firing up the bbq.  Clean your salmon, and place directly on broiler pan.  Make small, 1 inch slices in the thickest part of the salmon and insert a slice of lemon.  I do only two pieces in each.  Place salmon in oven on "broil" and cook for 15 minutes.

**Shitake Butter**
1 lb. fresh shitake mushrooms
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
Sea salt

Wash and stem mushrooms, break into pieces and place in bowl.  I used my mini food processor for this next step, but a blender or really fine dicing will do.  Melt the butter in a small bowl in your microwave and set aside.  Pour mushrooms into food processor and add melted butter.  Grind on high.  Repeat until mushroom all mushrooms have been ground.  The butter cools as you grind, creating a sort of paste with the mushrooms.  Add sea salt to taste.  Transfer paste to serving bowl.  You can either spread it on the salmon the last five minutes it's cooking, or use it on the side.

*Mashed Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic*
1 large head of fresh cauliflower
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 stick of unsalted butter

Clean and break apart your raw cauliflower and place in large, lidded pot with steamer rack.  Steam cauliflower for 20 minutes on high or until tender- test with fork.  Transfer cauliflower from steampot to large glass mixing bowl.  Place butter in small dish and melt in microwave for 30 seconds.  Add to cauliflower.  Dice garlic into small pieces and place in small saucepan on high.  Saute the garlic until golden brown, remove and pour into cauliflower.  Next, use a masher or fork to "mash" the cauliflower.  In the end, the cauliflower should resemble mashed potatoes.  Transfer to baking dish, place in oven at 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes.  Delish!

*Baked Brussel Sprouts au Gratin*
1 lb of brussel sprouts, washed with stems removed
1/4 cup of milk
1 cup of fromage blanc cheese or other soft cheese of choice
Olive oil

Steam brussel sprouts for 20 minutes on high, using a large lidded pot and steamer basket.  Once steamed, pour into a large baking dish greased with a small amount of olive oil.  Add cheese of choice and milk, stirring well.  Place baking dish in oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Add salt & pepper to taste once served.

This entire meal was incredibly easy to prepare, although I cheated by using electric devices for help.  Not everyone has a food processor, but I hope that you can find a way to use your imagination if not.  That's all I do, really.  Chopping by hand is actually more fun and gives the meal an authentically hand made feel, which is lovely.

I can't wait to fire up the oven and enjoy the rewards of my inventive meal tonight.  I plan on eating, relaxing and basking in the blooming backyard amidst this fine, sunny weather.  When the wind dies down, the umbrella goes up and it's dining "al fresco" for me and the hubbs.  Beautiful.

Best wishes for a happy Friday,

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fancy Indeed.

Dinner last night was exceptionally basic, quick and tasty.  I was running a little behind due to a previous engagement but was able to whip this meal up pretty quickly once I arrived back home.  There's something comforting about meatloaf.  It's the familiar, belly-filling warmth of a down-home cooked meal that appeals to me... I can't resist. We're not talking your stereotypical mom's fallback last minute type lump of meat in a baking dish with breadcrumbs kind of meatloaf- I got a little creative this time and the results, I assure you, taste nothing like mom's.  Earlier in the week I purchased two of the biggest artichokes I've ever seen (the size of soccer balls, I swear) at the Concord Farmer's Market for the low, low price of $6.  These things are so big I figured we couldn't finish both of them in one sitting, so I sliced just one in half to steam and serve along with a bushel of sauteed white button mushrooms.  We ate the entire meatloaf, so that's got to mean something right?  Right.  Mmm Mmm good.

*Fancy Meatloaf*
1 lb. locally raised organic 95% lean ground beef
1 egg
1 tbsp. red chili pepper, chopped finely
1 clove garlic
1 bulb shallot
1 cup rolled raw oats
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. fresh parsley
olive oil

Place beef into large mixing bowl and set aside.  Chop chili pepper, garlic, shallot and parsley- add to beef.  Pour raw oats and honey into bowl as well.  Crack whole egg into beef mixture.  This is where it gets fun- use your bare hands to blend entire concoction until thoroughly mixed.  Take 4x12 loaf pan and lightly grease with olive oil.  Remove beef from bowl and press into loaf pan, taking caution to keep beef a level height throughout pan (for even cooking).  Place in 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.  When time is up, let meatloaf stand for five minutes before slicing and serving.

*Steamed Artichokes*
1 or 2 large globe artichokes

Remove stem at base of artichoke and discard.  Cut pointy, sharp thorns off of leaf tips using a pair of kitchen shears.  Slice artichoke in half from tip to bottom.  Place in a large stock pot along with a steamer basket and just enough water to peek through bottom of basket.  Place tight lid on pot, bring water to a boil and let steam for 25 minutes.  Serve with clarified butter.

*Sauteed Button Mushrooms*
1 lb. of farm grown white button mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp cracked pepper
Olive oil

Rinse mushrooms of debris using a colander and cold water, drain and pat dry.  Pour olive oil into large skillet and turn heat on medium.  Chop garlic into fine pieces, add pepper and garlic to skillet.  Pour mushrooms into skillet and increase heat.  Mushrooms will start to cook after about 3 minutes, saute until golden and shiny, about 10 minutes.  Serve with meatloaf.

*Tomato Paste* (if preferred on top of meatloaf)
2 vine ripe tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

This is basic.  Slice and dice tomatoes.  Place in medium mixing bowl along with olive and salt/pepper.  Take a fork or masher and squish tomatoes into a fine mush (a food processor or blender works great for this as well).  Remove, add salt/pepper to desired taste and serve with meatloaf- a great alternative to ketchup!

After all of this cooking and eating this week, I am very much looking forward to a weekend of fun festivities, friends and laughter.  Perhaps a bicycle ride or two as well.  Cinco De Mayo is this weekend, so there's got to be celebration in store somewhere!  I hope all of you enjoy the beautiful weather as well, get out there, have a blast and EAT!



Thursday, May 3, 2012


Last night, we celebrated pork and it's deliciousness.  Herb pork loin with balsamic hollandaise, wilted garlic spinach and twice baked fromage blanc mashed potatoes.  This meal took a while to prepare, but it was well worth the effort.  The hubby is always open to new things, but he pretty much loves everything I throw together or "come up with."  He's always asking, "how did you come up with this?"  My answer is usually the same, "I dunno, it just sounded good so I tried it."  I think that's the best part of experimental cooking.  I'm no chef, but at least I try.  If it ends up being a totally weird dish, I usually pick at it and pass along my leftovers to him- he happily finishes the meal off without negative remarks.  Not that he'll eat just anything, but I'm much more finicky than he is.  To him, if there's meat and some sort of sauce (especially if the sauce is made with wine), some well cooked veggies and a decent starch, he's a happy camper.  In my eyes, he's the perfect taste tester for new foods.  Needless to say, he didn't get any leftovers from my plate last night.  I was completely immersed in my dinner and ate the whole darn dish.  It ended up being a decent evening meal, even if the dog sat drooling pressed up against me for the duration of it...

*Herb Pork Loin with Balsamic Hollandaise*
1.5 lb. whole pork loin
2 tbsp. S&S Sauce Brand "Peppercorn" rub (

This is easy.  Roll pork loin in rub (I used a sheet of tin foil to contain the mess) so it is completely covered, brush off any excess.  Place rubbed pork loin in baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Meat temperature should be 160 degrees when done.  Slice and serve with sauce.

*Balsamic Hollandaise* (the easy way, because I'm terrible doing it the regular way)
2 eggs
2.5 sticks of unsalted butter
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
sat & pepper to taste

Fill blender with HOT water and set aside.  In small saucepan, warm butter until completely melted, add balsamic.  Empty blender, crack eggs into blender and turn on low.  While blender is still running, pour melted butter quickly into egg mixture and raise speed of blender until a light foam is created.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Use this to pour over pork loin slices.

*Wilted Garlic Spinach*
1 bunch farm fresh spinach leaves, washed, stemmed and whole
1 clove garlic
salt to taste

Peel and dice garlic, place in unheated skillet.  Turn heat on medium, as the skillet heats up, the spinach will start to "wilt", which takes about 5 minutes.  Spoon flip spinach to cook evenly.  Garlic will cook, but will not caramelize.  After 5 minutes, spinach should be almost completely "wilted"- it is now ready to serve.  Add salt to taste.

*Twice baked Fromage Blanc Potatoes*
1 lb. red potatoes, skin on, chopped into quarters
1 cup of milk
1/2 pint Fromage Blanc cheese or cream cheese (
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
salt & pepper to taste

Cut potatoes (skin on) into quarters and place in large pot of boiling water.  Boil until soft (stab with fork to test tenderness).  Drain potatoes of water, leave in pot once drained.  Mash potatoes in pot with masher or fork.  Add butter, milk, cheese and salt/pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Transfer potato mixture to large casserole dish and place in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  I completed the potatoes 20 minutes into the pork loin baking, so I just popped them right in the oven along with it for the last 20 minutes. 

Again, this meal takes planning and time...  I prepared the pork loin first, the potato dish second, the spinach a few minutes before the pork would be ready to eat and left the hollandaise as the very last task.  The result was a hearty, fulfilling meal that I will be making again in the future. 

The hubby went back for seconds, but it turns out his eyes were bigger than his stomach.  When this happens, we usually do what everyone with a dog is told *not* to do.  We give it to the dog.  I swear, our pug will be a connoisseur of fine foods by the end of this month.  He'll eat anything and everything.  Except pickles.  He does not like pickles, but he is happy to help with the dishes any day of the week :)

Happy Thursday!

P.S.  Argh! Forgot pictures again!! Must. Remember. Tonight.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mid Day Snackies.

And now, my friends, it's time for a midday snack...  I make this often enough, as an afternoon treat or as a precursor to dinner.  Insalata caprese, aka Caprese salad. A simple salad from the Italian region of Campania.  A tummy pleasing dish made of fresh buffalo mozzarella (or as they say in Italian "mozzarella di bufala"), organic basil leaves straight off the stalk and vine ripe tomatoes seasoned with salt and olive oil.  Some versions add a dash of balsamic vinegar as well, if you prefer the taste.  I like to make mine shove-straight-in-your-face-size for easy consumption.  This is typically served as an antipasto, but sometimes I'll eat a dish for lunch just for kicks.  Sooooo good.  The prep is simple...

2 vine ripe tomatoes
1 container of buffalo mozzarella (they come in racquetball size orbs.)
1 stalk of fresh basil, leaves torn off
Olive oil & salt/pepper to taste

Remove cheese from saline/water solution and pat dry.  Slice mozzarella into 1/2 inch thick pieces and place on serving dish.  Tear off single leaves of basil and place one leaf on top of each mozz slice.  Slice tomato and repeat.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt (I use cracked pepper as well) and ta-da!!  Instant afternoon yums.

If you are wondering where to find buffalo mozzarella, try Trader Joe's.  It can also be found in most fine food grocery establishments.



Too Much Time On My Hands.


I would've photographed the meal I made last night, but I was distracted by all of the fun.  It was so... Pretty.  In an "I love food so much I gotta eat it all right now kinda way", of course.  Early in the day I got it stuck in my head that some sort of Asian inspired meal sounded delicious (you know how that goes).  Since we are limiting our current diet to fresh foods, I anxiously pondered how I was going to pull off this style of cooking with what little supply wiggle we have to work with.  In an attempt to come up with tasty goodness using all of my recent foodie finds, I somehow managed to actually create a flavorful, satisfying couple of dishes.  When I'm out shopping, I try to think of the tastes I enjoy in foods and how to incorporate those flavors-- sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.  This time, the result was a salty, fiery mix of Chinese/Japanese/Hawaiian influenced foods that both the hubbs and I devoured.  Literally.  So good, if only I had remembered a bottle of sake or a couple of Tsingtao's to round out the meal.  Check it out, all 3 recipes are quick and easy (for you gun-shy wannabe cooks out there), so give them a try and enjoy.  I especially love the tuna poke, so simple and yummy, I could eat it everyday. 

*Seaweed Salad*
3/4 ounce dried wakame seaweed
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. finely grated ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Soak seaweed in warm water for 5 minutes and then remove, pat dry.  If seaweed is not already cut, slice into 1/2 inch wide strips.  In separate bowl, mix together all other ingredients except sesame seeds until thoroughly blended.  Add seaweed to liquid mixture and toss.  Serve with toasted sesame seeds on top.

*Ahi Tuna Poke* (pronounce po-KAY)
2 lbs. fresh ahi tuna, sushi grade of course, cubed or sliced thinly
1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper

Basically combine all of the above ingredients in a large glass bowl, mix well and let chill 2 hours before serving.  I used small rice bowls, appetizer size, with a dab of wasabe for kick for serving.

*Sticky Honey Crusted Chicken* (serve over fresh chow mein noodles)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into large bite size chunks
8 oz. dark, raw all natural honey (we used the Napa blend from
2 tbsp. sriracha hot chili sauce, Rooster sauce as most people know it.
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Clean and chop your chicken breasts, place pieces into large bowl.  Add above remainder of ingredients to chicken pieces, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.  Pour panko crumbs into large ziplock bag and set aside.  Remove chicken pieces and place into panko bag gently.  Once all are in, zip bag and shake (yes, just like Shake-n-Bake).  Use about a tablespoon of sesame oil in a large skillet on high, place panko chicken in oil and cover for about 15 minutes, stirring only twice.  Chicken should be good and done by then, have your chow mein noodles ready to top off with some zesty, crispy chicken bits.  Yum!

Whew, that was a lot of instruction... Now it's time for me to start prepping dinner for tonight.  We're having herb roasted pork loin with a sauce along the lines of a darker, deeper hollandaise, red potatoes mashed with Fromage Blanc from, and some fresh greens, spinach I believe, wilted with a clove of garlic.  I'll make sure to take pictures this time around :)

Enjoy the day,

P.S.  If you are having trouble finding any of the above ingredients, check out your local Asian Market!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Market Madness

Today I visited my local farmer's market, as I do every Tuesday.  This one happens to be in Todos Santos Plaza in Concord- it runs on Tuesdays from 10-2pm and Thursday evenings from 4-8pm.  I love picking up as much as I can from the market because the selection is insane, the flavor that comes from the produce tops all store bought product and the prices are ridiculous.  Today I gathered the following in my basket, spending a minimal $30...

1 cluster of organic vine tomatoes
2 bunches of green onions
1 pound of red potatoes
1 HUGE head of cauliflower
2 of the biggest artichokes I've ever laid eyes on
1 pound of brussel sprouts
1 bunch of fresh spinach
1/2 lb. bag of mixed organic greens
1 bunch of basil on on the stems
1/2 lb. of crimini mushrooms
1/2 lb. of white mushrooms
1/2 dozen organic extra large brown eggs
1 clump of radishes
1 bulb of garlic
6 bulbs of shallot
3 sweet limes
1/2 bag of our new favorite beef jerky from

Needless to say, I left pretty darn satisfied (and my bike basket was stuffed.)  The one thing I'll mention is that the market is lacking a meat/poultry/fish vendor.  That would be ideal, but I imagine the logistics are probably pretty complicated.  Here's the link to the Concord Farmer's Market so you can check out the vendor listings and concerts that will be happening all summer.

I've recently discovered Ranch 99 Market.  This market is located in the Park-n-Shop center on Willow Pass Road in Concord.  It is, by far, the most mind-boggling Chinese supermarket I've ever walked into.  A friend recommended that I try shopping there for hard to find spices, noodles and oils.  The first time I visited I was searching for fresh fish.  Boy, did I find it.  Their selection of fish, meats and poultry makes every other grocery store pale in comparison.  Also, take a walk down their spice aisle... More than you could possibly imagine.  Today I purchased sushi grade tuna, chicken breasts, fresh seaweed salad, authentic chili sauce, chow mein noodles, high end soy sauce and sesame oil to use in my dinner dishes this evening.  What a treat!  All fresh and ready to prepare.

Day one of "Fresh Food Only" month has proven to be quite satiating.  I'm looking forward to cooking tonight and the rest of this month... More to come tomorrow!!