This post updated August 2015 as part of the #ThrowbackThursday photography project.
This past Saturday was the annual recital for Garcia Dance Studio. The studio has over 200 students and the spring recital is always a sold out event, even with two shows. There’s always a break between afternoon show and the evening show, and most dancers, famished after being at the theater since the morning for run through and the first show go looking for decidedly un-dancer type food. Think Mexican and pizza. (more…)
Garfield said, “Never trust a skinny chef”. I was reminded of this on three separate occasions this week when people commented that I am far too thin given the treats I bake. I promise that just like everyone else, we have to watch what we eat, even though I definitely make room for testing!
Our day-to-day diet is rather uninteresting from a blogging perspective. Whole foods, in the best quality we can afford, prepared simply so the natural flavors shine through. One day, I promise I will blog about my cereal or the many things I like to serve with eggs. (kidding…)
One of the great things about living on California’s Central Coast is the bevy of fresh produce available year-round. I was about to prepare some for the Godfather and I to enjoy at lunch this week and realized it’s just the thing for this week’s blog! The recipe I’m sharing is for the salad dressing and makes enough to last a few meals for us, adjust accordingly based on your preferred dressing usage. I think this may also make a wonderful marinade, but I haven’t tested so this is pure speculation.
Garlic Honey Mustard Salad Dressing
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp mustard
- 1 tbsp evoo
- 3 cloves garlic
- Mince the garlic and place into a small bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until combined.
- Serve immediately or keep covered and chilled in the refrigerator up to one week (it won’t last that long…).
This post updated June 2015 as part of the #ThrowbackThursday photography project. I re-make and re-shoot an old recipe from the blog, then post the new photos along with the old photos.
Did you know April is Grilled Cheese Month? Neither did I until I was
wasting time on Facebook catching up on the news one morning earlier this month. Not the kind of people to let an important national holiday such as this go without observation, the Godfather and I found the perfect opportunity to celebrate after I baked a batch of spent grain bread and made some mozzarella.
Like? I made regular mozzarella and roasted garlic. It’s okay if you don’t make your own cheese, this is a new amusement for me, but it won’t replace the convenience of store-bought. Buy your favorite and enjoy without guilt!
Before we get to the recipe I’d like to impart a wonderful little tidbit of information that will save you a few minutes of cleaning time. Line your panini press with foil, then spray the foil with nonstick spray and grill. The grill stays clean, your sandwich doesn’t stick, and all is right in the world… or something. I worked in a deli a million years ago and this was one of the valuable life lessons learned. You’re welcome.
BBTM: Bacon, Basil, Tomato and Mozzarella Grilled Cheese
- 4 slices of wheat or whole grain bread
- 4 slices of bacon
- 2 ounces mozzarella cheese
- 4 tbsp sliced fresh basil
- 4 slices fresh tomato
- Line your panini press with foil, spray with nonstick spray, then preheat to medium heat.
- In a skillet, cook your bacon to desired crispness and drain.
- Layer cheese, bacon and basil on your bread then place on the panini press and grill until the cheese is melted and the outside of the bread is lightly toasted.
- Remove the sandwiches from the grill and add the tomato slices.
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This recipe, like all good family recipes, was taught to me when I was young. No measurements, you just knew when it was right by the way the spices sat in your hand when poured from the bottle and the smell. If the smell takes me back to a kitchen table sitting with my mom, sisters and grandparents rolling leaves, it’s right. Since I can’t take you back there with me, I have added measurements. Please feel free to adjust accordingly and make this your own.
Unlike Greek dolmades, the version of stuffed grape leaves most of you have been exposed to, these have no mint and have meat. When I make it, I use beef as in the below recipe, but we’ve also made it with a blend of beef and lamb or pork and beef (only when we were making cabbage rolls too) depending on meat prices and how much we were making. A one pound bottle of grape leaves feeds the Godfather and I for several days with extra to share. If you’re making for a crowd and this is the featured dish in the meal, I would double the recipe.
Stuffed Grape Leaves – A Family Recipe from the Godmother
- 1lb bottle of grape leaves
- 3-4 tomatoes, chopped small
- 2.5-3 lbs beef, diced into small pieces (a leaner cut like top sirloin, trimmed and diced)*
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 4 tsp salt, divided
- 1.5 tsp black pepper
- 4 cups rice
- 2.5 tbsp curry powder
- 3/4 stick butter, melted
- 1/4 stick butter, cubed
- 5 cups chicken stock
- Rinse jarred grape leaves and trim stems off the leaves using kitchen scissors. Keep under a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out.
- Mix all remaining ingredients except 1/4 stick of butter and chicken stock in a large bowl.
- Line the bottom of a large stock pot with a single layer of grape leaves. I try to pick out any that are broken or too misshapen to roll.
- Roll the remaining grape leaves, arranging them in neat layers in the pot. Sprinkle the rolled leaves with the remaining 1/4 stick of butter. Top with a plate slightly smaller than the opening of your pot to add weight so the leaves don’t unravel during cooking.
- Add the chicken stock to the pot and then fill with water until the leaves are completely submerged.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer, cooking for about 45 minutes.
- Carefully drain any remaining liquid and allow to sit at least 10 minutes before removing the first few layers of leaves.
- Serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Can you believe this is the last post I’m writing for you from our home in the Santa Ynez Valley? Next stop, Vandenberg AFB down the road. I almost didn’t have a recipe post for you because we’re trying to prepare everything before the movers show up bright and early Monday morning, but I was planning on making this pasta anyway to use up some extra egg yolks and spinach and so why not share? I’m pretty sure there are only one or two of you that actually read this blog though… and the spammers who like to post spammy links. Too bad I moderate the comments so only real ones get through. Godmother – 1 Spammers – 0
Anyway, I’d just like to note that I never ever pictured myself as the type of person who would make fresh pasta and DEFINITELY not the type of person who would make it regularly enough to have the general recipe memorized and feel confident enough to just make up variations. So if you’re reading this post thinking “this is not me”, think again. It’s actually much simpler than you’d think and it always makes me imagine I’m someone’s nonna making food for the family in a rustic kitchen in the Italian countryside. It all feels very romantic. Making fresh pasta also sounds extremely impressive and lets you do things like convince your significant other to put together the sauce and help with dishes. I’m just putting that out there.
The Godfather making chicken and pasta sauce
We topped the pasta with some chicken and mushrooms cooked in a jar of the same sauce I used in last week’s Turkey Spinach Lasagna. Recipe will come for this soon, but I just thought I’d mention that this recipe is as another great use for homemade tomato sauce.
Fresh Spinach Whole Wheat Pasta
- 10 oz white wheat flour + more for dusting
- 7 egg yolks
- 4 cups fresh spinach, washed
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 tsp salt
- olive oil
- Place the spinach and garlic in a food processor and pulse until very fine. Scrape the sides of the food processor as needed while mixing. You might need to add 1-1.5 tablespoons of olive oil to help break down the spinach. Set aside.
- Measure out your flour and make a well in the center for your egg yolks. Sprinkle the salt on top.
- Using your fingertips, begin to swirl the egg yolks, slowly incorporating the flour. Be careful not to let the egg yolks spill out of their well. As you swirl and the mixture starts to thicken, add the spinach to incorporate.Spinach Whole Wheat Pasta
- Once the pasta has incorporated too much flour to swirl, knead the dough by forming it into a ball, flattening it, reforming the ball and flattening again. Do this for about 10 minutes until you can pull to create a hole in the dough and it tries to come back together.
- Lightly coat the dough with olive oil and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest for 1 hour.
- Roll out the dough using a pasta roller (which I don't have and I really really want) or by using a rolling pin. The Godmother is forced to use the rolling pin method for now. Cut your dough ball in half, then in half again, and roll one of the sections until it's the proper pasta thinness. Liberally flour the cutting board and your rolling pin to prevent sticking. I also roll the pasta dough in one direction only, like rolling pie dough. Cut either by rolling the pasta into a tube and slicing or just using a pizza cutter.Spinach Whole Wheat Pasta
- You may either freeze your fresh pasta here or use immediately by filling a large stockpot with water (I never measure, sorry!), bringing to a boil, adding salt and cooking for 7-10 minutes or until you've reached desired "done-ness". This will vary with the thickness of your pasta.
- Top or toss with your favorite sauce and enjoy!
This post is also included in the January 2015 Healthy Pasta Dish Roundup hosted by Ren Behan and Tinned Tomatoes!