By the Sea…

IMG_5688

Hi all- We got a little early taste of summer last week, thanks to our buddy Bob, who organized a hearty seaside breakfast and a good long hike near Laguna Beach.  All that walking and talking with old friends are the best kind of way to spend a Saturday morning, in my way of thinking.

12976973_10208826888609844_4874738460717539092_o  IMG_5707

We made our way through omelettes and waffles and mugs of coffee and then set off for our walk up the beach along Crystal Cove.

IMG_5747

IMG_5732

IMG_5743  IMG_5738

We soaked up the sun and watched a whale as he skimmed along the surface out from the shore.  And pretty much walked our feet off… Thanks Bob, Sandy, Jim, Jenni, Jeff and Betty for the fine full day together.  Loved it.

IMG_5689

Green Chili Cornbread

IMG_5560

Hello all– We love cornbread around here, just the simple cut a slab sort of cornbread, with a little non-fat sour cream and a squeeze of honey on top.  Perfect.

But I’ve been seeing this “fancy” cornbread recipe around for years.  It’s chock full of extras– cream corn, green chilis, cheese!  Not your everyday, serve it up with soup cornbread, but special occasion, pullout for friends at the table cornbread.  So if you want to step up your cornbread for an eventful meal, here’s your new pumped up version!

GREEN CHILI CORNBREAD
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 tab. baking powder
1  1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1  1/4 cup creamed corn (most of a 15 oz. can)
4 oz. can mild green chilis
1 cup grated cheddar*
3/4 cup canola oil

IMG_5535

 

In a large mixing bowl, stir up the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Then add in the eggs, creamed corn, chilis, cheddar and oil and mix it all up.

Spoon the thick batter into a 10″ skillet** or baking dish.  Bake it up at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until it’s golden and cooked through (test it with a thin knife).

Best served up with sweet butter or sour cream and a lot of honey or jam.  Oh yumm!

*I used colbyjack, combined cheddar and jack.
** The recipe I worked from cooked this up in a skillet — but alas, I don’t have one, so I used a stone baking dish and it was just fine.

IMG_5578

Sweet Potato, Avocado Chicken Salad

IMG_5790Hello all– On the tail end of a fine longish weekend.  Kids started rolling in on Tuesday and were all here by Saturday for their cousin Bradley and Amanda’s wedding.  I’m pretty sure you know, there’s nothing a mom loves more than having those kids at arm’s length.

I’ll be remembering an all family shoe shopping trip, a fancy dinner out at the Tavern, hamburgers on the grill & a Michael Pollen documentary, good girl-talks, driving down to the beach for a frozen banana,  Laurel’s photo shoots and wedding dances with the grand-girls!

And on Saturday, we sat down to a colorful salad lunch– just enough to fill us up before we  headed down to the wedding– grilled chicken, avocado, sweet potato and sweet pomegranate seeds– with a tarragon dressing.  Add a chunk of sturdy bread– easy lunch!

SWEET POTATO, AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD
4 cups green leaf lettuce
1 chicken breast, grilled and cut to pieces
1 sweet potato, roasted, peeled, cut into bits
1 avocado, cut in small chunks
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tab. tarragon vinegar
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp. honey

Layer the greens, sweet potato, avocado, chicken pomegranate and feta on a large platter.  In a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and honey until it’s thoroughly blended.  Pour it on and eat!

IMG_5796
Pre-wedding family photo (Maryann!!) overlooking the marina in Dana Point.

13007289_10154219746674665_1472221574375509535_n
Down to Balboa Island for Balboa Bars & Frozen bananas– almost feels like summer’s here…  So thankful for time with our kids.

 

Raspberry Orange Ham Sauce

IMG_5513

Hi there– Just pulled the last of the Easter ham leftovers out of the freezer.  The thing about leftovers is that they don’t seem so sad if you give them a little extra trimmings to make them seem not-so-leftover.  Do you know what I mean?

So to wake up this dish, we splashed on a little raspberry orange sauce.  It was just fine.  —And the leftovers of the sauce can be used on ice cream or pancakes or in a smoothie…  Leftovers galore– I’m just glad to have them!

RASPBERRY ORANGE HAM SAUCE
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup honey
1 tab. butter
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 cup fresh (or frozen) raspberries

IMG_5493

Mix the orange juice, raspberry jam, butter and honey in a sauce pan.  Bring it to a boil on the burner and then turn down to let it simmer for 15 minutes. Then in a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the cornstarch and water until they are all blended.  Stir this into the simmer sauce and stir until it thickens, just a couple minutes.

Pour in the raspberries and let it sit to warm them.  Serve it warm over your cooked ham.

IMG_5507

Coconut Cupcakes

IMG_5678

Hello all– Cupcakes.  They’re the old stand by around here.  The nice way to have 24 little pieces of cake that are easy to serve, easy to eat for a crowd in the house.  These are from last Thursday when we have our weekly group of 20 & 30 somethings come in for the evening.  It’s fun for us to hang out with all those bright lively people and happily, they like coffee and cupcakes.  So it all works out…

COCONUT CUPCAKES

Cake:
1 white cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1  1/2 cup shredded coconut

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pound box powdered sugar (about 3  3/4 cups)
2 to 3 tab. milk
extra shredded coconut to scatter over the tops

IMG_5642

This is easy.  Make the cake mix according to the package directions.  My mix used 1 cup water, 1/3 cup oil and 3 eggs.  After you beat the batter with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, stir in the 1  1/2 cup coconut.

Spoon the batter into cupcake pans that have been lined with muffin papers.  Should make about 24 cupcakes.  And pop them into a 350 degree oven for 15 to 17 minutes until they are golden and firm to the touch.  Let them cool.

For the frosting, with an electric mixer, beat together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla.  Then slowly beat in the powdered sugar and milk.  When it’s all combined into a smooth frosting, spread it generously over the cupcakes and immediately sprinkle on the coconut over the top while the frosting is still moist so it will stick.

That’s it.  Make coffee. Invite friends.  And eat.

IMG_5683

Eating Across San Francisco

pizzeria-delfina
Hi there fellow eaters (that should be about everyone)–  We spent Easter week hanging out with our San Francisco kids.  That always involves some memorable meals.  And it began and ended with pizza.  And that’s just fine with me.  Here’s the spots we enjoyed:

 

Brian and Ani picked me up at the airport and we made a supper stop at Blue Line Pizza on our way up to home. Rich savory deep dish pizza in a smallish modern space (and leftovers for lunch the next day– I’m all for leftovers!)
IMG_5005

 

We wandered into Plow just as they were about to end their serving day at 2:00– with a menu chock full of the best kind of breakfast/brunch foods.  Housemade granola, pancakes, omelettes and their much noted biscuits.  Perfect.
IMG_5015

IMG_5023     IMG_5024

IMG_5020

 

One day for lunch Aaron drove us down to Cotogna.  I dove into a board of rich salumeria.  And after lunch we walked down the block to an architectural bookstore that AA likes to frequent.  My favorite combination– food & books!
IMG_5177

IMG_5173

IMG_5179     IMG_5178

 

On our way for a big morning out across the bridge, to the Bay Area Discovery Museum, stopped at the Murray Circle for breakfast.  Built in the barracks of old Fort Baker, you can sit on the porch with views of the Golden Gate and the city or, as we did this time, sit in the old style dining room with a molded ceiling and fire in the fireplace.  My breakfast– waffles with caramelized bananas and creme fraiche.  Great way to start the day…
IMG_5224

IMG_5294

 

Our last night in SF, we went to a favorite, Defina Pizzeria, which happily sits right next door to Smitten Ice cream.  We had the usual 30 minute wait for table, so we strolled around the corner to Browser books and walked out with a few volumes.  Then dug into a margarita, a broccoli, and a speck pizza, while I read new books to little Mae.  And then we ducked into Smitten, where they freeze the ice cream mixture on the spot when you order, for the creamiest ice cream ever.
IMG_5333

IMG_5347     IMG_5341

IMG_5365

IMG_5363

Hugs and thanks to Aaron and Jessica, Ani & Brian– for all the good talk and good meals. xo

Sugar Snap Pea & Farro Salad

IMG_5425

Hello — Staying at our Ani’s house last week, we pretty much went through a big bag of sugar snap peas from Costco.  So crispy and sweet.  And I’ve had them in mind ever since.  So I picked up some up at Sprouts for this salad– bright lettuces, sweet sugar snap peas, salty feta all on a base of hearty faro.  Simple but satisfying.

SUGAR SNAP PEA & FARRO SALAD
1/2 cup farro
pinch of salt
3 to 4 cups baby lettuces*
1/3 pound sugar snap peas (about 1 cup)
2 tab. feta

dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. cider vinegar
1 tsp. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

IMG_5415

Cook the faro according to the directions on the package. Mine simmered 20 minutes with a cup of water and a pinch of salt.  When it’s tender, rinse it under cold water to cool it down.

Layer the lettuce, faro, peas and feta on a plate.

In a container with a tight fitting lid shake together the olive oil, vinegar, honey and salt & pepper until it’s completely blended.  Pour it over the salad just before you set it on the table.   Fresh and bright!

IMG_5463