Posted at 9:50 am , on January 5, 2018
Early last December Joe and I visited Panama City Beach, FL for a short getaway. We thought a visit to the Sunshine State before Christmas would be a great time to get away without all the crowds and have the beach to ourselves. We were prepared for cooler weather but determined to enjoy the sunshine and white sandy beaches. Little did we know Mother Nature had other ideas. It was unusually cold and rained the entire time we were there. We rented a little condo on the beach where you walk off your deck straight onto the beautiful white sand. It would have been paradise had the wind not been so blustery with cold rain coming off the ocean. Mostly we just looked out the window because it was just too cold to venture out. We expected mid 50’s and got 30 and 40 degree weather, brrrr. It wasn’t a total loss, we went out to the movies and found a couple museums to wander around. We decided we would splurge for a big breakfast, skip lunch and find some good seafood to eat for dinner. My favorite breakfast was from Andy’s Flour Power Cafe and Bakery. I had the french toast plate with thick slices of french toast topped with candied pecans and fresh strawberries. I loved every bite and vowed to recreate it one day. This is my version of the Flour Power French Toast!
Posted at 11:02 am , on July 17, 2015
In June, Joe and I spent a few days vacationing in Florida. We spent the majority of our time near Cocoa Beach where we enjoyed long walks along the beach. Also, we spent a day at the Kennedy Space Center which gave us chills at times taking in all the history of the space program. They house the Atlantis Space Shuttle there and it’s an amazing sight to see in person. One day we drove inland for a day trip to Orlando and spent a few hours at Downtown Disney. We weren’t there to go to the theme parks, just a day to spend walking around and enjoying the atmosphere, shop and enjoy some good food. We stopped by Wolfgang Puck’s Cafe and enjoyed a light lunch. I wasn’t particularly hungry so I ordered the Bruschetta with roasted tomatoes, pesto, topped with fresh arugula and shaved parmesan. The first thing I tasted was the tomatoes. The texture was thicker than roasted tomatoes and had a caramelized sweetness that tantalized my taste buds. Every bite was an experience in sweet tomato flavors with a hint of saltiness in the background. The pesto was fresh with olive oil dripping over the side of the toasted bread and it was all topped with fresh arugula and shaved parmesan. I made a note to self to make this when I got home. My version is close but I added some bacon bits and brushed my Arugula pesto over the bread with some chiffonade basil leaves. I made a little sugary blend to sprinkle on top to try and recreate that sweet caramelized flavor. I came pretty close, see what you think!
Posted at 8:01 am , on June 27, 2014
I know that candied nuts are usually thought of as a winter treat but they can be a great snack anytime. I was looking for something crunchy and sweet to put in a salad when I remembered an old recipe for candied pecans. The recipe called for sugar, cinnamon and a splash of vanilla but an inspiration hit me when I started gathering the ingredients and found my jar of Vanilla Sugar in the pantry. Vanilla sugar would pack a lot more flavor than a splash of vanilla and I could only imagine how it would smell and taste. If you’ve ever made vanilla sugar with split and scraped vanilla beans then you know how aromatic it can be. And as the walnuts begin to roast in the oven you might be reminded of the cinnamon roasted nuts you’d find at a farmer’s market or a fall festival. These turned out to be an irresistible treat. They provided a sweet crunch to our salad as well as a dessert topper for a scoop of ice cream. Next time I will have to hide any leftovers as no one could resist grabbing a couple every time they walked by.
Posted at 8:33 am , on June 10, 2014
As promised I’m testing out some new recipes for granola bars. This granola bar is baked and has a cranberry jam filling that really puts it over the top. I really love this bar for the flavors that come through and the surprisingly chewy texture. I was almost certain that baking it for such a lengthy period would produce a hard crunchy exterior but it turns out not to be the case. They are time consuming, mostly the prep time making the jam and the time it took to bake the granola but it’s time well spent when you take that first bite. I can’t wait to try out some other dried fruits but cranberry is definitely one I want to make again.
Posted at 9:05 am , on May 6, 2014
If your family is like mine it goes through a lot of granola bars. Granola bars are great to pack sack lunches, quell the late afternoon hunger pains and to take along a favorite hiking trail. In the last few years our vacations have taken us on hiking and backpacking adventures where the need for lightweight food staples are a must. Granola bars that contain fruit, nuts and peanut butter are almost always sought after for the energy they provide. By making granola bars at home you can create flavors from fruits, nuts and grains that reflect your own personal tastes. I went to Sprouts where you can find a bounty of bins and barrels full of different types of grains, dried fruits and nuts to choose. I plan on trying some different combinations this summer but in the meantime, here’s a simple “no bake” granola bar that brings out a little bit of salty and sweetness with some peanut butter to bind them together.
Posted at 9:23 am , on January 31, 2014
I’ve never been a huge hummus fan but my guys all seem to love it. They are always picking up a tub of hummus and pairing it with pita chips or crackers and they always pack a tub of it on their backpacking trips. They say it’s healthy and is rich in good fats and protein so who am I to deny them this healthy snack. Since I’m trying to be a little more health conscience I thought I might try to make some homemade. It was such an easy process, just load all your ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you get the right consistency. It turned out really good but I had way more hummus than I had expected so I scooped out about a cup of the hummus and made a layered Mediterranean dip.
Posted at 8:43 am , on October 8, 2013
I always make more pesto than I need for one meal so I have to come up with other ways to use it. One of my favorites is Crostini’s with fresh mozzarella and chopped tomatoes. I had a pint of heirloom tomatoes in the fridge and thought how colorful and pretty they would look propped up on a sliced french baguette. They are the perfect companion to any pasta dish and a leafy salad which I’m working on for dinner tonight.
Posted at 8:53 am , on August 2, 2013
Ever had bread cheese? I hadn’t until now. I saw a post by Marie “Proud Italian Cook” who used a cedar plank to grill the most delectable bread cheese. I was hooked at the first photo and I’ve been wanting to try it ever since. The thing holding me back was that I couldn’t find any bread cheese. I searched Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to no avail. By chance I found some at a market I rarely go to. I had a cedar plank in the pantry just waiting for the perfect opportunity. I bought a french baguette and stopped by the Mediterranean bar and picked up some roasted red peppers, sweet piquante peppers, sun dried tomatoes and some fresh cherry tomatoes to go with the cheese. It’s the perfect appetizer and resembles bruschetta. Our favorite was the sweet roasted piquante peppers. Marie’s last words were that she hoped she inspired us to plank some cheese . . . I hope to do the same!
Posted at 8:46 am , on June 1, 2012
One of my favorite snacks is a cracker topped with cream cheese and Candied Jalapenos. I make enough to fill a mason jar to tuck away in the fridge because I always want more. These tasty little rings also known as “Cowboy Candy” are great as toppers for your favorite burger, brat or sandwich. And the syrup has a unique taste that I sometimes add to a vinaigrette for a salad when I want a hint of sweet heat in the background. No matter the occasion these candied jalapenos will be a big hit!
Posted at 3:25 pm , on October 31, 2011
Happy Halloween! Hope you all have a fun filled night. We got a pumpkin to put out on the porch and as always I wait until the last minute carve the pumpkin and roast the seeds. We waited until last minute because it’s been so warm lately and I wanted the pumpkin to last. Anyway, Joe got tired of waiting and carved the pumpkin and brought me the seeds. I love roasted pumpkin seeds so I separated them from the pulp, washed them and set them out on a newspaper to dry. Glad I did because they turned out crunchy, light and salty and now I can’t stop munching on them.