Tag Archives: food

“BUY LOCAL” CHALLENGE

3 Sep

My family did a “buy local” challenge where the goal was to spend money only on local items for a day.

We bought several items made or grown in Malibu and Los Angeles and the balance came from Northern California.

For breakfast we had organic strawberries from the Thorne Family Farm in Malibu and organic blueberries, blackberries and raspberries from Driscoll’s in Watsonville. Yogurt from Brown Cow Farm in Antioch, bread from La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles and butter from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company in Willows.

So far so good!

Except mid-day, I realized there is no local coffee!  Hot water with honey was not quite an adequate substitute for caffeine!

Dinner was the highlight of the day.  Organic, sustainably farmed chicken from Petaluma Poultry and vegetables from One Gun Ranch in Malibu — cooked with Malibu olive oil.  And to drink — a delicious Semler cabernet sauvignon.

A great end to “local day” was sleeping outside on the deck under the stars with the fresh air on our faces.

Biking in Italy

16 Jul

Charlotte and I just got back from a 7-day bike trip in Northern Italy! We started in the small town of Mantova, staying in a beautiful hotel, Ca delle Erbe and we ended the trip in the spectacular city of Venice!

There were 13 of us plus others from the US and Europe (Switzerland, Norway and England).  We had some ups and downs along the way (my mother liked to say Charlotte had a “crash” course in bike riding) but we had a lot of fun and laughed a lot — especially at dinner each night on the boat after riding our bikes 40-50 kilometers!

And we were definitely inspired by the good food! We all loved a mediterranean barley salad so here is my version:

Cook 1 cup of pearl barley in 3 cups of chicken broth for about 50 minutes. Toss in chopped tomatoes, persian cucumbers, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, pinenuts and olive oil.  Olives would be another good addition.  Or some basil pesto.

Healthy Thin Mints

23 Apr

My daughter asked for thin mints the other day so we decided to make a healthier version of them than the ones you can buy in a box.

Here is our recipe, adapted from Handle the Heat:

Makes about 24 cookies

4 ounces (or 1 stick) of unsalted butter (we used organic)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened organic cocoa

1/4 tsp (plus a bit more) sea salt

3/4 cups whole wheat pastry

Chocolate Peppermint Coating:

1/2 pound good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (we used Scharffen berger)

peppermint extract to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Make the dough:

In a mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add the honey and continue to cream.  Add in vanilla, salt and cocoa. Mix until creamy like frosting.  Add flour and mix until batter no longer dusty.  Don’t overmix.

Knead the dough, using flour on your surface, and place in plastic bag.  Flatten to 3/4″ pancake and put in freezer for 20 minutes.  Using a lot of flour, roll out dough to 1/8″ thick and use 1-1/2″ to 2″ cookie cutters (round or heart-shaped or whatever shape you like).  Place them on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Let cool completely on wire rack.  In the meantime, melt the chocolate and add the peppermint one drop at a time to taste.  Don’t overdo it on the peppermint.

Drop the cookies into the melted chocolate for a thin coating.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet and place in freezer or refrigerator until set.

The original recipe called for powdered sugar instead of honey.  Our dough was a bit sticky so next time I may try to use an organic powdered sugar instead.  Another thing to try might be putting the peppermint in the dough instead of the coating.

Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE!!!

7 Apr

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE!!

I have always wanted to be able to make a delicious chocolate mousse ever since I was 10 years old.

I still remember a day in 5th grade when I tried to make mousse for a school bake sale.  I made it the night before and the next morning ran to the refrigerator so excited to bring it to school.  And what did I find — a RUNNY chocolate mousse.  I was SO DISAPPOINTED.

Ever since that day, I have always wanted to find the perfect recipe and serve chocolate mousse in beautiful demi-tasse cups for dessert.

I found this recipe today on The Family Dinner website (a great resource!) and it has gotten me closer to the PERFECT CHOCOLATE MOUSSE.

The recipe says to beat by hand for 5 minutes.  At 5 minutes my mousse was not thick enough so I beat with a hand-held mixer for another 7 minutes which ended up being too long.  The mousse still tastes delicious (I didn’t even add sugar) but it is not as pretty as the picture on the website.  I started by sitting my bowl in water and ice but then switched over to sitting my bowl on top of an ice pack which seemed to work better.

I used Scharffen Berger bittersweet (70% cacao) dark chocolate.  And didn’t add any sugar.  Next time, I might add a little salt or vanilla.  Hazelnut flavoring might be nice too.  A lot to try still!

I am very excited about this recipe.  I can see my childhood dream coming true soon of serving the perfect mousse in tiny individual cups. Just a little bit more experimenting!  And I still need to go out and buy the cute little cups.  Will send you a photo soon! But in the meantime, here are photos from round 1.

Healthy Desserts

1 Apr

The word healthy and desserts don’t always go together but here are 2 recipes that taste good and are healthy too!

One is from The Family Dinner website and one from the Progressive Pioneer blog — both of these sites are great resources for healthy food.  And these 2 recipes are easy enough for your kids to help make them too.

In the recipe from The Family Dinner website, I used almonds instead of cashews because I love almonds in dessert.  I did add a little honey when I made it.  And next time, I would try adding dates.  I think that would be a good addition.  I used it on top of a mixture of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.  And added a few pomegranate seeds on top for some extra color!

http://thefamilydinnerbook.com/in-the-kitchen/2012/03/29/whipped-cashew-cream/

From Progressive Pioneer, I made these lemon bars on Valentine’s Day for a brunch and they are excellent.  Not too sweet and delicious. One of my favorite desserts ever.

http://www.plantoeat.com/blog/2012/02/healthy-lemon-bars/

 

My next challenge is to find a healthy chocolate dessert!  Will report back soon with a couple great recipes.

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The Dinner Hour

21 Mar

The dreaded thought arrives each day at 4 pm: what’s for dinner??

Recently, I was given a copy of Laurie David’s The Family Dinner cookbook.  And now that dreaded thought of “what’s for dinner?” is something to look forward to each day!

The cookbook has easy recipes but more important, it is full of games, stories and ideas for helping bring your family together during dinnertime.

Tonight I bought chicken meatloaf, my daughter, Charlotte, and I put together a “make your own” salad bar and she also made fruit and yogurt parfaits for dessert. And while Charlotte set the table, my husband played Adele on the piano as entertainment. All of this made dinner fun and no longer a chore!

Based on suggestions from the cookbook, one night we listened to classical music.  Another night I bought little presents for everyone.  Some nights we simply lit candles. Tonight we each read a favorite poem and talked about their meanings and why we liked them. My husband chose Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll, my daughter read Le Loup et L’Agneau, a french fable, and I read a poem by Rimbaud.  Which all led into a pretty serious discussion about what things make us happy in life.

So while every family dinner is not perfect, we have a better appreciation of how important it is to each of us to reconnect after our busy days. Thank you to The Family Dinner!

Charlotte preparing the salad bar!

Charlotte setting the table!