Friday, February 29, 2008

Spaghetti Pie

I decided to use up some leftovers for dinner tonight and made spaghetti pie. I think the kids will like it. I mixed up cooked spaghetti (with a little sauce on), 2 cut up meatballs, 2 diced mozarella sticks and those yummy roasted peppers with 2 eggs and some milk. In a pan I cooked up some garlic and onion and added the spaghetti mixture to it, and popped in a 400 oven for 25 minutes. Here is the result:

Roasted Peppers

These baby bell peppers were languishing in my crisper and they needed to be I simply popped them on the gas burner for about 10 minutes, flipping them as needed. Later I will post what I did with them for dinner....I need to think about that for a bit.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Cheri - a - Moya (tribute to Stevie Wonder)

Okay, just a few more pics I took while on vacation -

The green armored fruit is called a Cherimoya. It's a creamy tropical fruit that tastes like a combination of a mango, pineapple and strawberry. Apparently the weather here is perfect for growing it. I'm leaving tomorrow and taking it with me, so check back to see what it looks like on the inside. It needs to ripen like an a little, but not mushy.

Dessert last night was strawberry shortcake. mmmmmmmmmmm! I have to give my dad props for making it look pretty...he was enthusiastic about my blog, and wanted to make cupcake size shortcakes because he thought it would look better in a thoughtful!

Thanks, mom and dad, for having us. We had a great time! See you in May.
Love, Deanna and Kids

Al Pastor Taco

Carpinteria is filled with taquerias. So many, in fact, that I have probably tried 6 of them while visiting my parents here over the years. I believe there are several that I haven't tried. Some are sit-down restaurants, but most are just taco counters inside of Mexican markets.

This particular taco is from Reyes Market in Carpinteria, CA. It is BBQ Pork with salsa, onion and cilantro on two homemade tortillas. Yum. Seriously, they make the tortillas while you wait. This one cost a whopping $2.40. OMG!

We also like Taco Grande, and the counter in Beach Liquor (for breakfast burritos). This sleepy little beach town is great for a low key beach vacation or camping trip. While lodging is never cheap near the beach, its less than half the cost of Santa Barbara and only about 7 miles south.

Below is a photo of a quirky restaurant on the main drag. It's called The Palms, and its been a staple in this town for ages. I don't know anywhere else where you order a steak and they bring you a slab of raw meat! While there are dinners that come fully prepared, the fun part of this place is taking your meat over to the communal grill and cooking it yourself. They have seasonings lined up and tongs for you to use. You can usually strike up an interesting conversation while you tend your food. Included in your dinner is a salad bar, and another bar that has warm bread, beans, salsa AND baked potatoes. Quite the bargain!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Three Pepper Shrimp


2 lbs medium shrimp
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. oregano
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup clam juice
1/4 cup beer

Peel, rinse and dry shrimp. Combine spices and set aside. Melt 1/2 cup butter in large skillet and add garlic, saute one minute. Add Worcestershire and spices, mix well. Add shrimp, high heat 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat, add remaining butter, cut in small pieces. Return to heat, add clam juice and beer. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes more. Serve with lots of bread.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Morning Coffee

Went for a walk this morning and found a huge bush of Mexican Sage growing wild. I thought the color was amazing so I picked a few for this photo. I also think black coffee is more visually appealing, but I'm a wimp and I drink mine sweet and light. This shot was taken in natural mid-morning sunlight coming through the kitchen window.

We saw the 6th stage of the Amgen Tour of California Bike Race this morning. We were watching along Foothill Blvd. as the peloton whizzed by at record speed. It's not really something I follow, but it was fun standing on the sidelines clapping our thunder sticks and cheering for them as they rode by in a pack of over a hundred racers.

Tomorrow a big storm is rolling through, so I am hoping we can find some fun indoor activities with the kids....until next time!

Wacky Lemon

Found this on my parent's lemon looks otherworldly to me!

Friday, February 22, 2008

And you thought I was gone....

So, here I am...down in Carpinteria, CA (pop. 14K). This is my hometown, the place I sometimes still call "home" when I've had a glass of wine or two. This is probably my first trip down here without my husband since the birth of our second child almost 2 years ago. Traveling alone 6 hours with the two kids seemed unfathomable, but in reality, it wasn't that bad. We actually stopped in SLO and played at Mitchell Park in the rain. We laughed and danced in the was one of those picture moments that you can only capture in your head.

Anyways, I went a whole day (yesterday) without thinking about cooking and subsequently photographing it for your pleasure...haha! But today, I was back at it. This is what we had tonight....chuck roast was on sale, so in honor of being in my childhood home, I made a meal that dates back beyond my own birth. It's called Beef Paprika and served on egg noodles. The basic ingredients are beef, onion, garlic, paprika, ketchup, mustard powder and Worchershire. I remember my mom making it in the "electric skillet," a contraption that was probably replaced with the crockpot? However, I'm not really sure if they were similar at all or which came first! I will post the recipe later on, but I remember eating this one as a kid and loving it every time. A little sweet and savory trip down memory lane.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


So, I had some Fuji apples that were sitting around, you know the last 3 apples from a 1000 pack at Costco. The kids were getting burned out on them, so I decided to make a treat that I know they will eat. Baked apples with Cranberries -- I just stuffed the insides with brown sugar, cinnamon, cranberries and a little butter. Baked at 350 for an hour. Would not be complete without a scoop of vanilla ice cream...Owen had to concur.

My Kitchen Staples - Part 1

The three muskateers, los tres amigos, the three stooges, the Pep Boys, I'll grant you three wishes, The Jonas Brothers (eek, how did I know that?), Three's Company, Three Dog get the picture.

Basil, Parmesan, Garlic......such a lovely trio!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Back to Basics

The frittata has to be THE most simple, versatile meal in one pan there is. Saute up any veggies (and/or meat) that are starting to wilt in your crisper, add some herbs or seasoning, then pour over lightly beaten eggs and pop under the broiler. Easy as pie...egg pie! My version today has prosciutto, peas (both from the freezer), parmesan, basil and garlic.

Shaken, Not Stirred

What better way to use that last orange than in an ice-shaken martini....especially on this balmy 70 degree February day! I don't usually measure out my martini ingredients, so here are the vague directions:

Blood Orange Martini

Juice of one orange

Shot (or 2) of vodka

half shot of triple sec

shot of simple syrup

Shake it all together while doing the happy dance. Pour into sugar-rimmed glass. Sip and smile.

Green Beans - Asian Style

I got so excited about my new "hobby" of photographing my food, that I couldn't wait 'til dinner to make something pretty. This is my creation for a side dish. As you can see, I'm playing with background props as well -- the wine was my Valentine's gift, as well as some filler flowers from my V-day bouquet. It was shot on "portrait" auto setting with natural light from a nearby window and back-filled with kitchen lighting.

Green Beans & Mushrooms with Asian Citrus Glaze

1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb green beans
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 T. Oyster Sauce
2 T. Chicken stock
1 tsp. fresh ginger
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 T. squeezed citrus juice
1 tsp. honey, to taste
cornstarch-water mixture

Directions: Microwave green beans in some water, covered with plastic wrap for 3 minutes. In the meantime, saute the mushrooms over high heat. In a small saucepan, heat all glaze ingredients for 5 minutes. Thicken with a mixture of cornstarch and water. Drain green beans and add to mushrooms. Stir in half the glaze and mix to coat. Put on a serving dish and drizzle rest of glaze over the top. Garnish with lemon zest and/or sliced almonds.

Cooper Cat

We got some sad news this weekend. After several tests, we found out that our 6 year old cat, Cooper, has an aggressive form of cancer. Apparently his liver is twice the size it should be and the cancer has likely spread to all his organs. He has been throwing up for weeks. Poor kitty...we will give him medication to help with the pain until we decide that its time.

The old guy has been through some major milestones in his short life....a wedding and the birth of two children. From the time his mother sat at our back door, begging for attention, to the day he was born in a cardboard box in our bathroom, he was meant to live out his life here with us. And I hope he enjoyed it. He's endured endless chasing, tail pulling, dodging swings from train tracks, hurled legos, and even some "hugs" that were more like a wrestling hold. All with nary a defensive swipe. It's going to be a rough week or two here....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Testing...Hello World

Hello there. It's official. I've given in to the extreme gravity pull that is blogging. I don't expect anyone to read this, but what the heck? My inspiration for this blog will be cooking, photography and things that tickle my funny bone.

I've been perusing blogs lately such as "Fat free Vegan Kitchen" and reading up a little on food photography and food styling. It is a field that I am extremely intrigued by. While I have a Nikon D80 on my wish list, right now I am making do with an Olympus point and shoot. This is the best I can do.

Here is a photo of Bean Soup with Kale that we had for dinner tonight, along with an english muffin. This was a simple soup, yet satisfying and tasty. I have to say that when my darling husband saw me setting up the shoot on our counter, he really thought I was nuts.

This was my first venture with kale. A Wikipedia search informed me that this is the most nutrient-rich veggie around, high in anti-oxidents, beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein and reasonably rich in calcium. My new goal is to try one new fruit, veggie or grain every week. Should be interesting.....

Bean Soup With Kale

1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
8 large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cups chopped raw kale
4 cups low-fat, low-sodium
chicken or vegetable broth
2 (15 ounce) cans any type of beans
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and onion; saute until soft. Add kale and saute, stirring, until wilted. Add broth, beans, and all of the tomato, carrots, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer 30 minutes. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.