Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hello Dolly Bars

Hello Dolly Bars

My, how time flies!!
I'm less than two weeks away from my due date and I can't believe how fast it has gone by..

Nesting is in full swing, and I'm running around trying to get everything done before baby comes... The house has been decorated since the day after Thanksgiving: lights on the house, tree up. And the Christmas cookies? I've been all over that lately.... I'm doing a sort of bake & freeze kind of deal this time around because any second I could be in the hospital and I need to have Christmas goodness to come home to!

These are Hello Dolly Bars... I've even heard them called Magic Bars. Whatever they are, they are a buttery, chocolatey, coconut-nutty goodness that will send you into a downward spiral of wanting to eat the entire pan. And since I'm on my last leg of this pregnancy, I was happily popping these things into my mouth like pills... not that I pop pills.

So, here you go!
I referenced Smitten Kitchen's recipe but omitted the butterscotch chips and also swapped the pecans for chopped walnuts.

By the way, this is seriously the easiest recipe. You are just layering the ingredients on!

Hello Dolly Bars

Hello Dolly Bars

1 stick salted butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 8-10 graham crackers pulsed in a food processor)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (about 1/2 a small can or so - you might want to eyeball it)

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt butter on stove until just melted. Add graham cracker crumbs and stir. Press evenly into bottom of a 8x8 pan.
Layer the coconut, walnuts, and chocolate chips on top of graham cracker base. Pour sweetened condensed milk over whole mixture.
Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is light brown.
Cool completely and then cut into small squares.

Try not to eat the whole pan!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

a day of apples

Once October hits, we start doing anything and everything Fall-ish. Even though we get extremely warm weather in Fall, we just have to put that aside and imagine crisp and cool Fall days... As a side note, Josh wishes he could start listening to Christmas music in October but I won't have it. I have to draw the line somewhere!
We headed up to Oak Glen this past weekend to visit the apple orchards. Unfortunately it was really warm but fortunately it was a LOT of fun!
We also took the excuse to get some 'belly' photos done since we were in such a fun setting! I look as though I'm about to give birth... but.... seriously, I still have a little over 2 months to go!

Apples were picked, apple pie & cider donuts were consumed (yum)... We even had apple beer! (which wasn't really "beer", but more of a cider)












...can't wait to put those apples to good use!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Autumn Has Arrived

photo taken in the Eastern Sierra - October 2010

I keep asking myself where Summer went. It came in so quick and blew away even quicker... But, alas, it's obvious that Autumn has finally arrived. Days are getting shorter, the air has that certain feel, and stores have all their Halloween merchandise out... along with all the Christmas stuff, but we won't get into that yet.
It feels like just yesterday we found out we were expecting baby #2 and now we are only three months away from his big debut into our lives. While I'm anxious to have that day arrive, I also want time to slow down just a little bit...

Lately I've been dreaming of scarves, sweaters, apple picking, pumpkin patch visits, cold weather soups, a house that smells like fresh baked cookies and breads, and putting pumpkin in everything!

I've been spending way too much time browsing through these two blogs lately... Both of them are getting me SO into the Autumn mood!

The Ardent Sparrow
Food + Words (I want to make EVERYTHING she posts on her blog)

While we had a great Summer, I'm looking forward to getting some projects started and turning that oven on and going crazy in the kitchen!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Strawberry Agua Fresca

Every Sunday there is a Farmers Market right across the street from us, so when we don't have much going on we take a walk over there to do some shopping.
We always stop at the El Salvadorian food stand that makes pupusa's and the most amazing agua fresca's! Our favorite - the lime & mint agua fresca! (tastes like a mojito). We never go there without getting one! .....and sometimes we even get a pupusa :)

Recently there was a recipe on a blog that I read on occasion for Strawberry agua fresca! And since it's strawberry season it had to be done!

Here's the recipe.

People, this is so so so so so so easy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Introducing... Laverne & Shirley!

Last Saturday we made the trek up to Lompoc to finally pick out our chickens and bring them home.
Dare 2 Dream Farms was such a cool find! (thanks to Josh who did all the research)

This is the kind of farm you would want to move to. It's tucked away in the hills of Lompoc and when you pull up there are random roosters, chickens & ducks just roaming around. You can't get any more free range than that!

The owners were a really young couple, obviously living out their dreams of running a farm. They were very educated and were able to help us pick out the perfect chickens that suited our needs.

Now I'm not going to lie... since there were hundreds of chickens, the smell was on the 'poopy' side. Probably because chickens poop as though it were going out of style! They really do, it's pretty funny! (and gross...)

So we loaded up our Rhode Island Red & Easter Egger into a cat carrier (yes, a cat carrier). They were so quiet on the ride home that I forgot we had them back there!
Sofia on the other hand was anything but quiet so we were fully aware she was in the car.... yup, there may have been a tantrum or FIVE on that ride home.

Nevertheless, the chickens are here - and adapting to their coop. By this weekend they'll be roaming the yard.

Laverne & Shirely

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where have I been?

Wow, it's been two months since I've posted something! How and where did the time go??

So where have I been and what have I been doing??

Well, for starters, taking pictures!
Shooting stuff here and there...

like this little guy and his family

This one was a side project, shooting sports photography for Harvard-Westlake School Soccer. I had a great time doing it and have a lot of respect for people who actually do sports photography for a living!

And of course, a wedding!

And there's been a little reading here and there.....

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Food Rules by Michael Pollan

and just recently In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Maybe one of these days I'll go into detail/rants of how wonderful these books and authors are.

What else have I been up to?
The husband built a chicken coop last week so we're hoping to get some chickens this weekend!! So exciting!! I can't wait to have eggs right from the backyard :)

We've prepped and started the annual veg garden..... So far there are just radishes and lettuce greens sprouting up through the ground. But we seperately have tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, etc that need to do a little more sprouting before they get planted into the garden boxes.

I'm so excited that Spring is finally here and that everything is blossoming! It's nice to walk into the backyard and be hit in the face with the sweet smell of orange/lemon blossoms... And birds singing their little beaks off. It's too wonderful.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

I've made bread a couple of times and have never been impressed with how it turns out!
It's usually just good, but not GREAT.

This recipe that I found is a GREAT whole wheat recipe! It had over 800 positive reviews so I knew that I had to try it!
It's very basic, and in the future I would love to play around and add other things like seeds/nuts/oats..

After baking, you brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter to keep them from getting hard, which is brilliant!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Heirloom Seeds

Are you planning your spring/summer vegetable garden? This is the time to get those little seeds sprouting!
I'm in the middle of reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (great book) and the author gives a lot of mention to heirloom seeds... Which essentially are seeds that have been passed down through generations. I had to see what it was all about.

So I recently went to the Seed Savers Exchange website and spent a good hour looking at all the different seeds they offer! And, of course, I couldn't resist making some sort of purchase.... Now I'm super excited to get my seeds delivered and get them planted!

We already planted a variety of seeds we bought from a garden store in little peat pots...which are sitting in the garage under a nice warm lamp, getting ready to sprout.
So now I'm really excited to compare the difference between the taste of the heirloom vegetables and the non-heirloom vegetables.

Happy Sprouting!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mason Jar Lemonade

Josh came up with this brilliant idea last weekend while picking lemons with Sofia in the backyard on a HOT JANUARY AFTERNOON (eighty degrees to be exact)

This is so much fun for kids especially if you make it an outdoors activity!
Sofia had so much fun helping daddy pick the lemons, watching him cut the lemons, helping to juice the lemons, adding the sugar and berries...and of course the "shaking" part!

Add to a mason jar (he used a 24 oz mason jar and used the lines on the jar as a measuring cup)....

100 ml of good quality sugar
600 ml of water
100 ml of fresh squeezed lemon juice
couple of ice cubes

small handful of your favorite berry (we used some frozen raspberries since nothing is in season right now)

place lid on jar

shake shake shake shake shake shake

(let your kids help with this part - on the grass and with hands ready to catch it if it falls!)

remove lid

pour over ice, sit out on the patio, sip your lemonade, close your eyes and pretend it's the middle of summer...

p.s. - when the kids go to bed, make another batch and add some good vodka!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to Make Chicken Stock

I had never made chicken stock before because the idea always intimidated me. I don't know why!
My mom made it on occasion when I was growing up so I wasn't a stranger to the idea.... just scared that it was going to be really hard and LOTS of work involved (not that I don't appreciate a kitchen challenge every now and then).
Hard is the last word I would ever use to describe making this! And as far as lots of work, it practically made itself!
So it makes me ask myself why I've been buying the boxed stuff all these years! Not that it's bad to buy it on occasion because, let's be honest, not everyone has the time to make homemade stock.... but seriously, you will never want to go back to the box stuff after you make this and taste how CLEAN it is!

I used this and Alice Waters version from The Art of Simple Food as reference for what quantities of ingredients I wanted to use. Also, I did not use a whole chicken, just two chicken breasts since I was making a small batch of chicken soup. If using a whole chicken, adjust water and vegetable ratio.

Alice Waters uses parsnips in her recipe and I happened to have a bunch on hand from our last CSA pickup! I even added parsnips to the chicken soup and it gave such an earthy flavor, it was so so fabulous!

Chicken Stock
this recipe makes around 6 cups of stock (quart and a half - perfect for a small batch of chicken soup that serves 4)

2 organic free-range chicken breasts (bone-in with the skin)
1 carrot qaurtered
1 small onion quartered
1 celery stalk quartered
2 small parsnips qaurtered (optional)
6 cups water
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf

Place everything in a stock pot or a dutch oven and bring to a boil. cover with lid and simmer for about 40 minutes.

remove chicken from pot and set aside. Once cooled, remove meat and use right away or store in refrigerator.

strain broth and discard the vegetables. Skim off the fat and use broth right away or store in freezer in airtight container.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Roast a Spaghetti Squash

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Halve the squash lengthwise

remove seeds

rub insides of squash with olive oil and season with a little salt & pepper

place face down on a cookie sheet

roast for about 45 minutes

To get the "spaghetti" effect, run a fork along the inside of the squash to create strings and place in a separate bowl... do this for each half.

Top with your favorite combination... I like a quick homemade red sauce with veggies and some shaved pecorino romano on top! mmmmmmm!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Whole Wheat Waffles

The triple W...
Because let's face it, we stuffed our faces until we couldn't move over the holidays.

Whole Wheat Waffles
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup melted butter (unsalted)
1 teaspoon high quality vanilla (I use Nielsen Massey brand - Madagascar Bourbon or Mexican Vanilla)

combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and wet ingredients in a small bowl.

add wet ingredients to dry ingredients... stir to combine.

ladle batter into waffle iron, cook according to your waffle iron instructions..

serve topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.

..Don't forget to add the syrup! (real 100% maple of course)

Enjoy! :)