Remember your mama saying those famous last words “Eat your Veggies”? Well she most likely knew that all those rainbow of veggies would contribute to you growing up strong and healthy.
Lets all shout out a big praise of “Thanks” to all of our Mama’s for introducing us to the wonderful world of vegetables and color. With amazing flavors that would last all of us a lifetime. This Power salad has everything. It’s beautiful and it really fuels you for the whole day. I like to add protein to it every once in a while (grilled chicken or roasted shrimp). You can also be extra creative and add your own twist of garnishes.
Here are a few ideas: Pumpkin seeds, Toasted Almonds, Roasted Pistachios, Gorgonzola Crumbles, Fresh Herbs – Basil-Parsley-Dill or Thyme.
** My favorite addition to this salad is diced ripe creamy Avocados**
Three little words that describe this simple yet lovely little pound cake. The little secret ingredient to this cake is (Vanilla Yogurt). It can be served with a small dollop of Vanilla Bean ice cream or whipping cream to make it extra decadent.
But it really does stand on it’s own when paired with a cup of afternoon tea. I have served this pound cake at many baby showers over the years. It’s a true “Springtime Favorite”.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. Add yogurt, and add eggs one at a time. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and rosemary. Mix for an additional minute, scrapping the bowl, until everything is smooth and combined. Next pour batter into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Take the cake out of the pan, and cool completely on a rack.
Make the glaze by whisking powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add more sugar and lemon juice as needed. Drizzle over cake and add rosemary sprigs. Let glaze stand until completely set.
Quinoa salads come in all tastes and styles these days. But this version is one of my all time favorites .
It’s just one great blend of flavors and textures. From the crisp corn (straight off the cob), the creamy luxury of the the diced avocado then there is the little “punch” of heat at the end from the Jalapeño and Cayenne pepper. Topped off with a little squeeze of lime and there you have it- “Little Mexico in a Bowl” a healthy bowl that is.
All of us have a “Guilty Preasure” when it comes to food. For me my weak spot has always been anything chocolate.
A few years back I was introduced to the most decadent of desserts that came in the form of a brownie. This brownie is in a league of it’s own because it’s a compilation of the many layers of chocolate that made up most of my childhood. Think Nestle’s Toll house cookie’s , Oreo cookies and deep dark chocolate brownies.
I mean “What if” these three all decided to get together and become a new kind of delight that came to be “Triple Threat Brownies”?
Well I would call that genius! I would call that bliss!
I must confess that the original name of this incredible creation is called “Slutty Brownies” which truth be told cracks me up. But being that mama taught me to always be a lady. I thought I would would tweek the recipe a bit and land on the classy side of thing’s and rename them ……..Triple Threat Brownies because lets face it they are a threat!
You most certainly can’t be on anything related to a Adkins-Weight Watcher-Paleo- Vegan diet if it is your plan to dive right in and enjoy one of these life changing bars………….
1 package of Oreo (regular stuffed or double stuffed)
For the Cookie Dough layer:
½ cup unsalted butter (at room temp)
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
1¼ tsp vanilla extract
1¼ cups AP flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the Brownie layer:
In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted. Whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs and continuously whisk until the eggs are combined. Add the flour and continue to mix. Set batter aside.
For the Cookie Dough layer:
Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. Set dough aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line the bottom of a 9x9 baking pan with tin foil and then spray the tin foil with a layer of baking spray.
Layer the cookie dough on the bottom of a 9x9 baking pan, pressing down to form the bottom of the slutty brownies.
Layer as many oreos that will fit on top of the cookie dough. No need to overlap. One single layer will do.
Pour the brownie batter on top of the oreo layer and make sure it's evenly layers on top.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Test with a knife to see if the center is done. If the knife comes out clean, let the brownies rest before serving. If the knife comes out with batter still on it, allow the brownies to bake about 5 minutes more.
I love Caprese Salad and I am always looking for new creative ways to make chicken dishes.
So here is a fun combo when you take the ingredients of the Caprese Salad and marry them with a seasoned grilled chicken breast. Ladies and gentlemen I now give you one very simple and delicious chicken meal that is not only very easy to make but is very pretty to look at. It all get’s finished off with the “drizzle” of a Balsamic reduction glaze.
4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (cut in halves)
1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning
1 tablespoon Garlic herb Seasoning
2 tablespoons Olive oil
Slices of Soft Fresh Mozzarella Cheese 4 (1/2 inch thick)
Mini Heirloom Tomatoes sliced in half
Bunch of Fresh Basil Leaves - Chopped
2 cups balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 500 degrees
Prepare the Balsamic Glaze Reduction
Mix balsamic vinegar with brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until glaze is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Glaze should coat the back of a spoon. Let cool and pour into a jar with a lid; store in refrigerator.
Pour Olive oil into a large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until a small droplet of water pops in the oil. Place seasoned chicken breasts into hot oil, fry for 2 minutes, and flip chicken.
Place skillet into the preheated oven and bake until chicken is no longer pink inside and the juices run clear, about 12 minutes. Top each chicken breast with a slice of mozzarella cheese and return to oven and bake until cheese has melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer chicken breasts to a serving platter and top each with fresh sliced heirloom tomatoes and chopped basil leaves and drizzle with balsamic glaze reduction.
Many people believe that in order to have a “Grand Adventure” you would need to travel to a distant land to find something extraordinary .
This may be true at times but I also feel that there is so much one can find even closer to home if they are willing to “Dig” for small gems of travel .
As I have mentioned before in my previous posts I was born and raised in Southern California. The land of beautiful beaches, mountains, deserts and flip flops. We see sunshine over 300 days of the year. We eat well too. Our produce flourishes year round with an abundance of Avocados, Artichokes, Strawberries, Squash, Table Grapes, Tomatoes , Oranges, Grapefruits and Lemons. To top it all off we are spoiled with some of the best wines in the world that are produced from the Central Coast (Paso Robles & San Ynez Valley) and Northern California (Sonoma & Napa). It really is a food lovers dream over here.
By the time August 1st hit this year I found myself pretty worn out from the previous 11 months of non stop activity and work. I wanted to escape to have a real break. I wanted to breathe in some fresh crisp ocean air , I wanted to go and explore , I wanted to hit the California’s (Hwy 1) heading North and most importantly I wanted to do all of this, Alone.
I pitched the idea of doing this alone to my husband D and from the get go he was very supportive of my plans (Thanks D- you are so sweet). D and I have always traveled well together but at the same time we have always been very independent in the sense that if there is something we want to go and see and the other won’t be able to join in because of (work or other commitments) then we always do our best to support each other in our endeavors.
Did I get a little flack for wanting to to this solo? Well yes, a little bit.
I found that some of my friends and especially (My parents) couldn’t figure out why on earth I would want to take a trip alone. My answer is easy, “I wanted to”. Like most women my days are filled with an overloaded “To do list” and I am more than happy to put in long days and hard work for the benefit of others and especially my family. But sometimes I frankly want invite a little “quiet” into my life , a little disconnect in order to center and renew myself. So I came up with the perfect spot to do this. I would drive north to-Big Sur.
Big Sur has always been a very special spot to me since I was a small girl. It’s a landscape that is at times is just too “Majestic for words”. It’s where I feel I can stand on a mountainside, cast in glorious sunshine, and gaze down upon a Pacific Ocean completely blanketed by dense fog. It’s a view most of us would associate with being in heaven, or at least the window seat of an airplane. In Big Sur you can get it with your two feet on the ground.
Not much has changed here in the past 50 years. Sure, there are now some small grocers and restaurants around. But the nearest supermarket is still dozens of miles away. It’s a destination where cell phone coverage is nearly nonexistent. The nice part of this is that, whether you like it or not, you’re on vacation. If someone at the office needs to reach you, well, too bad. I can’t urge you enough that if you have never been for a visit (especially if you reside here in California) by all means pack up your car and hit the Hwy 1. It’s a journey that one needs to do at least once in their life and it is one that will definitely “Take your breath away”.
“I got to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in tune once more”
McWay Falls – My Happy Corner of the World
McWay Falls is an 80-foot waterfall located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park that flows year-round. This waterfall is one of only two in the region that are close enough to the ocean to be referred to as “tidefalls”, the other being Alamere Falls. The source of the waterfall is McWay Creek and is one of the few waterfalls that empty directly into the ocean. Originally the waterfall cascaded directly into the ocean but after a 1983 fire and 1985 landslides, the topography of McWay Cove was altered, forming an inaccessible beach. The waterfall now meets the ocean when the tide is in.
I must have taken hundreds of pictures , I was so hard to choose which one’s to share. It’s also so hard to describe all the joy and happiness I came home with. I was able to take in so much in one weeks time. I only scratched the surface of this most beautiful route. But as the old saying goes “All good things must come to an end”. There is one thing I know for sure and that is I will be back over and over again. I am a California girl to the core , I love the Pacific with all my heart…………………………
We will forever remain close!
There where so many spots along the way that made my trip extra special.
Here is a listing of some of my favorite places to STAY-PLAY-EXPLORE
and most importantly EAT.
For more information on each establishment feel free to click on each of the places described here it will connect you directly to their websites.
OMG, OMG , OMG and did I say OMG ……Everything here is delish. Heavenly Breakfast served right here on earth. Many unique and beautiful dishes made here with extremely fresh and organic ingredients. Homemade granola, lemon ricotta pancakes, hot chocolate with hand crafted marshmallows, soft scrambled eggs with a light sprinkling of sea salt, maple/bacon biscuits, shrimp and grits I can be here all day listing all the items that can be adored here. The place is just that amazing……………………………………………run here #forreals
Freshly baked brown butter cookies served right off the baking tray. Each is hand rolled by a dedicated staff of artisanal cookie makers. Beautiful blends of brown butter and sea salt. I have never tasted anything like it before. So unique and carefully made. You really taste the love in these cookies. They carry their signature brown butter and sea salt selection but they also have a very tasty array of other flavors to choose from (Almond, Lemon Poppy Seed, Cocoa Mint, Citrus and Espresso) to name a few.
They are located in the adorable little beach town of Cayucos. The good news is you can order these amazing cookies online and have them shipped to your front door! at www.brownbuttercookies.com
This was the most beautiful property I’ve ever stayed at in California. They hold many weddings here each year and it’s so easy to so see why (If I could get married all over again Mr.D and I would of done it here). They offer many outdoor activities here. From guided hiking excursions, you can have a guide take you out to the best point on the property to enjoy the sunset and if that’s not enough they have one of the best afternoon wine and cheese tastings I’ve ever experienced. The rooms are exquisite with the most amazing views.
Tranquility is found in every corner of the most memorable property.
I’ve driven past this place so many time over the years with out stopping to take a look. But legend has it that the place is notorious for there (50 shades of Pink) that is generously sprinkled everywhere through out the property all the way down to the infamous Pink Champagne Cake. I decided I would stop and check it out and , OMG I am so glad I did. The place is so over the top tacky and fabulous. Pink is EVERYWHERE. I was in Pink euphoria. After taking a walk through the pink dining room I was convinced that Liberace was the interior designer for this place…lol
Madonna Inn feels like a mix of one of those old roadside attraction postcards, the kitschy room Grandma didn’t let you in, that weird in-between area between Fantasyland and Frontierland.
You really have to see it to believe it. Whenever I think of the Madonna Inn, I remember one thing most of all. Pink Champagne cake!!
All is can say is thank God for Yelp. It guided me to one of the most delicious meals of 2015 so far.
I was really craving Italian and this place delivered in the most profound and life changing ways.
I have eaten in Rome, Parma, Florence and after one bite I instantly felt “transported back to Italy” it was an A+ experience on every level. The service, the warmth of family who runs the place, the mezmerising smells that came out of the kitchen. The real mind blowing thing here is the food. I ordered the Tagliata di bue salutare (a flat-iron steak grilled on fresh arugula with shaved parmesan and balsamic reduction sauce. It completely rocked my world. Please make sure if you are ever in the adorable little college town of San Luis Obispo that you make sure to stop here and have one of the most delightful dining expriences.
From the moment you walk in, you could smell the wonderful aroma of the various spices & things. I thoroughly enjoyed my olive oil tasting. you pick your spices/salts & put it on a plate, then you’re provided with some bread & get to taste the different flavored olive oils. The ladies that work there are all very friendly & knowledgeable. They gave me recommendations of what spices to try with which flavored oil. They also have a ton of other products from lotions & soaps to different flavored balsamic vinegars & jams as well as wooden boards & bowls for serving.
Yes 5 stars! I visited Opolo based a recommendations from other wineries. This place is off the beaten path of 46 and has a nice desk/patio area that serves food as well (loved the outdoor Tuscan Pizza Oven). All their wines were good but their reds are some of the best we’ve tasted in the area. Nice bold reds! My favorites where the Sangiovese, Zinfandel and the 2011 Petit Verdot!!
Dutch-inspired ambiance enhanced with all the comforts of today. I very much enjoyed my little cottage. It’s located in the heart of the sweet town of Solvang. Walking distance to local restaurants, dozens of wine bars and Bakeries. The grounds are really green and pretty here. They also offer bike rentals to cruise around town.
It all started with the warm welcome from the lovely Grace Lebecka (she is the wife of the chef Santo Cervello). It’s ambiance is romantic and all things beautiful from the fresh flowers on the table to the sounds of the outdoor fountain trickling in the background while you eat the most amazing food . Grace explained to me that she hand picks all the freshest of ingredients everyday from the local farmers market. This was very evident from the first bite of my butter leaf salad . Then came the Capellini Bolognese with Kobe beef. I told myself that there was no way I could possibly finish all of it but “I’m no quitter” This pasta was very special you were really able to taste the care and love that was put into that plate. I just know I will be back here soon, but next time I plan to bring along Mr.D I know that he too will fall in love with this place like I did. Thank you Grace! You are the very best and your restaurant can best be describe in one word………..AMAZING.
And I have saved the best for last. One of my last stops that was made on my trip was at the Quicksilver Ranch. Home of the Mini Ponies. The ranch is located only 3 miles outside the town of Solvang. These little ponies are too precious for words , they walk up to the fence and you can pet them. Walk around and you’ll find others more willing to get pet. The grounds are well kept and if you have children this is surely a place they would love. I could have stayed here all day just looking at all these cuties graze and eat grass.
Spray the muffin tin ( with 12 cups) with nonstick spray. Whisk the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt in a large bowl to blend well. Stir in the bacon, cheese, and spinach. Fill prepared muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is just set in the center, about 15 to 18 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the muffin cups and slide the frittatas onto a platter. Serve immediately.
I grew up with a mother who was very good at serving us a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. It’s hard to remember any dinner that she made us that didn’t include a salad. So needless to say I have always been a big fan of including my “greens” or “The Digestive Detergent’s” into my diet.
As the years progressed I became more and more exposed to all the many colors that could be found in the rainbow of the Veggie & Fruit World. With so many flavors and textures to explore. I found that you can taste natural hue of “pepper” in an Arugula salad, that a ripe heirloom tomato can really stand on it’s own or be turned into something extra special just by sprinkling a pinch of Kosher salt and The Avocado “Oh my word where do I begin” the affection runs deep.
So very recently I have found a whole new appreciation for Whole Foods (and I’m not talking about the grocery store). In the beginning of July , I embarked on a clean eating challenge via Fit Girls Guide. They offer a 28 day challenge to commit to clean eating and cooking. So I signed up and so far I’m halfway through the challenge and “Loving It”. Now here is my plain truth I have the worlds biggest sweet tooth. I also am addicted to cheese and baguettes. Yes not the the world’s healthiest of combos. So at first I fretted and maybe protested a bit in my mind. Then one day about two months ago at the urging of my friend Jessica I entered the front door of a local healthy eatery called Luscious Lorraine’s Juice and Food Bar. I ordered a Raw House salad that consisted of – Raw shredded beet, zucchini, carrots, cabbage on mixed greens, with avocado & avocado-tahini dressing. Simple and “Oh My” so full for beautiful flavor. Little by little I found myself going back over and over again. So then it came to me to “Go for It” and take a dive into the world of Rainbow Eating and it’s been once of the highlight’s of my summer so far!
So here are a few of the Veggie “Hits” I’ve prepared this month, that I am sure you too will find surprisingly delicious yourself. Believe me this whole clean eating got has been a very humbling experience so far. I had no idea that all this “Good for you Food” would rock my world like it has. I have so much more energy these days, my sleep has been solid and sound and my taste buds have been taken to new heights. So I encourage you to give some of these recipes a try. You might very well Surprise yourself!
To a pan add Olive Oil, Mushrooms, Peppers, Spinach and sauté until all veggies are soft (try not to overcook them) you still want the peppers to have a bit of a small crunch to them. Season with Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper. Set pan aside.
On a cookie sheet line up the 4 pita rounds and spoon over Marinara sauce on each one. Then add the vegetable mixture generously to each pita and sprinkle with the grated Mozzarella cheese.
**** For extra special seasoning you can add a small sprinkle of dried oregano , parsley or basil to the top of each pizza.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the pita edges are crisp.
Dressings that can be used on this salad are (Balsamic Vinaigrette & Green Goddess)
Preheat oven to 350
Line the chicken tenders on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until tender. Once chicken tenders are cooled , Chopped into bite size pieces and set aside.
Combine all the Greens, Radicchio, Cucumbers, Avocados, Dried Cranberries,Pepitas and Almonds in a large salad bowl. Season with Sea Salt and Pepper to taste.
Pulse the coconut in a food processor until sticky crumbs form. Set aside about ¼ cup of the mixture.
Mix the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and sea salt. Stir in the coconut from step one. Form the mixture into small balls by squeezing until a ball forms. The mixture will be crumbly, so it doesn't work to put the mixture in your hands and roll it. You have to squeeze it. There will be a little bit of excess oil - that's okay.
Once you have the balls rolled, refrigerate for 1 hour or so until they are firm. At this point, if you want, you should be able to take them out and re-roll them to get the shape just right since they'll be firm and malleable.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut and shake or stir constantly for a few minutes until the coconut is lightly browned and fragrant.
Melt the chocolate for a minute or so in the microwave. Stir it until it's smooth. Dip each coconut ball in the chocolate and remove with a fork, letting excess chocolate drip off. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and top with the toasted coconut from step three. Freeze or refrigerate to set the chocolate.
These yummy treats taste great when kept in the refrigerator.
My favorite pasta of all time has to be “Carbonara”. It’s the pasta that sits very near and dear to my heart. Simple and decadent at the same time. A girlfriend of mine tell’s the story that when she served it to her boyfriend for dinner – 8 months later they where married!
Yes it’s that good…….
Iv’e had several variations of it over the years but below is the recipe that I feel captures Carbonara in the most authentic way in which it is served in Italy.
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to garnish
½ cup freshly grated pecorino
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, cook the guanciale until browned and crisp. Add the garlic and saute with the guanciale for a few minutes. Remove the guanciale, garlic and rendered fat from the skillet and set aside for later use.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 1 minute less than indicated on the package. With a ladle, scoop some of the hot water from the boiling pasta, and set aside in a small bowl. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it into a large serving bowl.
In a different bowl, beat the egg yolks, whole egg, Parmesan, pecorino and some freshly ground black pepper. Whisk in the cooled guanciale with all of the fatty delicious oil. While the pasta is still warm, quickly add the sauce to the pasta and toss very well, then add a couple of very small scoops of the reserved pasta water to help create the carbonara sauce and its unique creaminess.
Garnish the carbonara with some grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and serve.
Oh Lemons how I love you. – When the summer months arrive it comes naturally to gravitate towards light and refreshing desserts .
Especially ones that are citrus inspired and that are served in cute little mason jars. I used strawberries to give my lemon mousse a little twist. But you can feel free to use any kind of berry to add something extra special to this recipe. Try Blueberries, Blackberries or Raspberries . They all compliment this classic Lemon mousse well. Not to mention they look so extra pretty when serving them.