Quick Trip to San Francisco

Larry browsing in the Booksmith Shop on Haight–my favorite SF book store.

Hi all– This past weekend found Larry and I zipping up and down the interstate 5 for a quick trip to see kids in San Francisco–  It involved scrumptious eating, a favorite book shop, sweet girl hugs and a lot of cheering at a football game.  Here’s some of
the fun:

IMG_0525     IMG_0512
Watching my favorite part of the football game– the half time show!  And 3 fervent football fans– Go Bears!!  (I won’t mention who won– Cal v. UCLA).

IMG_0558     IMG_0560

IMG_0538     IMG_0533
Jessica served us flavorful, fortifying bowls of lentil soup at their new place.  Loved sitting around the table with them.  And we dipped in to a family style supper with Ani & Brian at the very Italian Trattoria da Vittorio.

IMG_0566     IMG_0595
And here’s our huggable Mae– in her small rocker and walking home from the playground with Dad and her Grandpa Larry.  We can’t get enough of that girl…

Posted in Family, Travel | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Honey Rosemary Baked Chicken


Hi all– Here’s an easy weekend night dinner– soaked in flavor.  It bakes in the oven while you put together some rice and a salad. Just lovely.  I think you might like to add it to your dinner time list…

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper
splash olive oil
1 cup red onion, chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tab. dijon mustard
2 tab. seedy brown mustard*
1/3 cup of honey
4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary (+more for garnish)

Filet the chicken breasts, slicing them lengthwise, the flat direction to produce two flat filets.  Put them in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and liberally shake on salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and then throw in the onion for 3 or 4 minutes until it is all wilted.  Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

Then spoon the two mustards and honey into the skillet with the onions and mix it all together.  Scrape the mixture out over the chicken and top with rosemary sprigs.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.

We ate this up with a nutty brown rice mixture, an arugula & apple chopped salad and slices of crunchy sour dough bread…

P.S. — The photo is just half the recipe– enough for just Larry and me.  But it would be easy to amplify for a crowd.

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Pumpkin Fudge Oatmeal Bars

IMG_2910Hi friends–  If you live around here, you’ve gotten the flyer from Trader Joe’s in the mail– It’s a pumpkin-palooza!!  I was with friends this evening and everyone was talking about the pumpkin items they’ve picked up there– pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin butter, pumpkin scones and pumpkin beer…  the list goes on (and on).

So it’s officially pumpkin season around here.  And in that vein, here’s a little pumpkin offering of our own–hearty oatmeal laced with pumpkin and a fudgey chocolate layer that sweetens it up.  It’s pumpkin time!


1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
1  1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
2 eggs
2  1/2 cups oats
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Fudge Layer:
14 oz. can condensed milk
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

IMG_2913With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, pumpkin and brown sugar.  Then beat in the eggs and pumpkin pie spice.  Finally mix in the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and walnuts.  The batter will be stiff.

Spoon 3/4 of the pumpkin batter into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Smooth it flat with a spatula.

Then put the condensed milk and chocolate chips into a glass bowl and microwave them for 1 1/2 minutes.  Pull the bowl out of the microwave and stir the chocolate and condensed milk together until they are smooth.

Spread the chocolate mixture over the pumpkin batter in the baking dish.  Then pinch pieces of the remaining batter (it will be sticky!) into little clumps over the top of the chocolate layer.

Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes — do not over bake–or sadly it will dry out.  Let the bars cool at least an hour and then cut them into happy little squares!

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Caramelized Onion & Spinach Pizza

IMG_2812Hello all-  On a Friday night, what’s better than pizza, something good on the “telly” and a comfy spot on the sofa– winding down at the end of the week??  Perfect.

Here’s a favorite of ours.  First had something like this at Cheese Board Pizza in Berkeley several years ago and it’s been coming out of our oven ever since.  Garlicky, onion-y good.  (and it makes 2 pizzas!)


1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil*
4 onions (yes 4!!), chopped
Big splash of olive oil
8 oz. mozzarella, grated
4 oz. spinach, chopped
6 oz. brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts

While the crust is rising, do all your chopping and grating of the topping ingredients.

Heat the splash of olive oil in a skillet.  Cook the onions for about 10 minutes until they are browned and caramelized.

Mix the garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil together.  Spread it over the raised crust.

Then layer on the onions, cheese, spinach, mushrooms and pine nuts.

Pop the 2 pizzas into a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pizza starts to brown around the edges.

*We love the Spanish Olive Oil from Trader Joe’s.  It tastes like cooking-smells floating out the windows in Seville on a hot summer night.  So rich and buttery.

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Silence of the Heart

“In the silence of the heart God speaks.  If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.  Then you will know that you are nothing.  It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself.  Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”        — Mother Teresa (from In the Heart of the World, Thoughts, Stories and Prayers)

Hello friends– Read this and it really stopped me in my tracks.  I have so very little silence in my life– Why do I fill it up with all those projects and errands??  How can God ever speak, if I’m not silent to listen.  It reminded me of a very favorite Psalm of mine–

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.  Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”  –Psalm 86:4

I’m needing  to find more silence in my days, to sit and listen to God– to lift up my soul.  Lord help me…

Posted in Faith, Just thinking | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Banana Rum Cake

IMG_2664Hello all– It was another case of too-ripe bananas languishing on the kitchen counter–speckled, soft and fragrant.  I was obliged to run to the store and scoop up a bottle of rum to stir up this cake.  It’s sweet and rummy and showered with sugary pecans–

aside: If you’ve read this little blog at all lately, you must think I’m near pecan addiction. It’s true.  My mom gave me the BIGGEST bag of pecans (& a bag of walnuts & one of pine nuts) for my birthday gift and I’ve been tossing them into everything!!  Nuts glorious nuts!

1/2 cup butter, room temperature*
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature*
1  1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 ripe bananas, smashed
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup light rum
3 cups flour
2  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk (or half & half)

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tab. rum

Candied pecans:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup pecans

Sweet and smelling so banana-ish warm from the oven.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and 1 1/2 cup sugar until smooth.  then beat in the eggs, bananas, vanilla and rum.

Finally, beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and milk.  Scoop the batter into a tube or bundt pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Drop it into a 350 oven for 55 to 60 minutes, until it’s golden and a a thin knife inserted comes out clean.

Let it cool and make the rum glaze.  With a whisk, beat the powdered sugar and 2 tab. rum together.  When the cake it cooled Drizzle over the cake.

To make the sugared pecans.  Just mix the 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup pecans in a skillet.  Stir them constantly over medium heat until the sugar all melts and the pecans are coated with the browned, melted sugar.  Turn the nuts out of the pan onto a sheet of foil separating the nuts and let them cool.  Top the glazed cake with the nuts– and it’s ready to eat!

*If you’re pulling the butter and cream cheese out of the fridge, just microwave them for 8 to 10 seconds and they’ll be soft enough to beat into the cake.


Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Fall Salad– Kale, Apples & Bacon

IMG_2882Hey there– This salad has so many yummy ingredients that I wanted to put all of them in the title– Hmmm.  So I narrowed it down to kale, apples and that bacon!  BUT– I would now also like to mention– the pumpkin seeds and currants– and the luscious poppy seed-mustard dressing bringing it all together.

We had it for lunch on Sunday and liked it so much it was on the table again tonight.  I think you might like a bunch too!

2 cups kale, chopped fine
6 to 8 Brussel sprouts, cut to shreds
2 slices bacon, cut to bits
1 red apple, slides and cored
1/4 cup currants*
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. tarragon vinegar**
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. seedy Dijon Mustard***
1 tsp. poppy seeds
a couple shakes of salt & twists of freshly ground pepper

Cook the little bits of bacon in a skillet.

Then while the bacon’s on the stove, layer the kale Brussel sprouts and apples on a pretty platter.  Sprinkle on the currants and pumpkin seeds.

When the bacon’s cooked, drain in on a paper towel and let it cool.  Then sprinkle it over the salad.

Put he dressing ingredients, oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, poppy seeds and salt & pepper into a small container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake it well until it’s all blended.  Pour it over the salad when you’re ready to dig in.

*The recipe I worked from called for dried cranberries, but currants are my fave.  Pick your favorite dried fruit…
**You can use any mild vinegar–cider, red wine…  Tarragon is my “go to” vinegar– mild and slightly sweet.
***If you live near a Trade Joe’s– check the Seedy Dijon mustard there– not too spicy and perfect in dressings, in sauces, on sandwiches.  Love that stuff!

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments