Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kale and Farro Salad

It’s a beautiful weekend in the Bay Area.  Temperatures are supposed to round the 85 degree mark today.  I absolutely love this time of year. Hubby and I awoke to the birds chirping and crows laughing.  I guess they aren’t really laughing per se, but if you listen closely, it sort of sounds like they are. Smile.

Sundays at our house typically begin with a freshly brewed cup of coffee and watching the weekend edition of Good Morning America.  Next is the treadmill for me and a long bike ride for hubby.  Then the day begins. We decided that today would be set aside for chores around the house that are bit overdue.  Hubby is tackling the garage while I am excited to clean off the backyard furniture and put the cushions on. I don’t anticipate additional rain, but you never know.  One or two rain showers won’t hurt a thing.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Avocado Crostini with Reduced Balsamic and Hickory Smoked Sea Salt | Friday Night Bites

I have said it before and it is worth repeating – sometimes the simplest things in life are the best.  For me, I love putting together recipes with great ingredients that have great flavor profiles yet there are not a billion components.  Quite often folks think that I make these elaborate dishes that take forever, but that is the exception versus the rule. 

One of my favorite simple appetizers is an Avocado Crostini with Reduced Balsamic with a sprinkle of Smoked Hickory Sea Salt. It is crunchy, creamy, salty, and sweet with a touch of smoke.  Quite honestly, it is two to three bites of heaven.  The recipe is fairly loose, so you can make as few or as many as you would like.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Toffee and Double Chocolate Cookies | Secret Recipe Club

I was thrilled when I read my email about a month ago.  I received my April Secret Recipe assignment.  I recognized this blog immediately and was excited.  This month I was paired with Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake.  I have been an admirer and follower of her blog for quite sometime. 

Liz has been blogging since March of 2010 and she has many loyal followers.  Just sifting through her extensive well rounded assortment of recipes, you know why.  Each recipe is approachable, tasty and mouthwatering.  She focuses her blog on her cooking and baking while her hubby and 3 kids stay outside the focus of her camera.  If you have not had the opportunity to browse through her blog, I would highly encourage you to – you certainly won’t be disappointed.  Trust me.  Smile.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bacon and Blueberry Jam Pizza | Friday Night Bites

Where does the time go?  I can’t believe that it is Friday Night Bite time again.  Before I share with you this week’s delight, I wanted to give you a quick update regarding the results of the Make-a-Wish Foundation auction for Team Chloe that was held last Saturday.  If you recall, I shared photos of the three cakes that I created and donated to the auction and I am pleased to say that they raised more money than last year.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Julia Child's Perfect Chocolate Mousse + Joy of Giving

My joy comes from making people smile with my cooking.  Perhaps that is why I have a weakness for throwing a great dinner party or bringing a batch of homemade cookies to the office or giving a jar of my handmade jam as a hostess gift.  Perhaps it is my way of giving and to quote Julia Child – “Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all”.

I hosted a dinner party last weekend and shared my menu with my Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad post.  The final touch to this wonderful dinner party was chocolate mousse.  What I neglected to mention was it was the perfect mousse.  Perhaps it was perfect since the recipe was adapted from the master of French cooking – Julia Child.  Thus I had to name this mousse – “Julia Child’s Perfect Chocolate Mousse”.  It was essentially quite simple to make.  Believe it or not, it was the first time making mousse.  I added the Bourbon along with the espresso whipped cream topping and the result was simply heaven. Going forward this will be a “go to” dessert to impress my guests and now it can be yours too. 

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Prosciutto and Pesto Crostini | Friday Night Bites

The wait is over.  I teased you about what kind of Crostini I would be sharing for Friday Night Bites.  Now the day has finally arrived.  Yippee Skippee!  I made these first for Easter then for my dinner party on Saturday night and they will also be enjoyed for this week’s Friday Night Bites.

I absolutely adore a great Crostini and these rank high on my list.  Oh, did I mention, they are super easy.  If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, all ingredients can be purchased there.  If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s close or you want to put that handmade touch on it, I have included the recipes for that.  Either way; a terrific impromptu appetizer for unexpected guests or to simply enjoy while enjoying your favorite movie or television show.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

I love dinner parties.  I love planning, preparing and throwing a great dinner party.  It brings me much joy.  Saturday night brought me joy.  Hubby and I had another couple over for dinner.  Originally I thought we would go formal and spend the evening in the dining room.  Plans changed and decided to have a cozy dinner in the kitchen at our new Pottery Barn kitchen dining set.  The fire place was burning in the adjacent family room with music piped in through the speakers – just perfect.  It was chilly outside, candle light glistening through the antique votives and a slight wind pounding against the two windows in the kitchen nook.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Bites with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce | Friday Night Bites

I am a huge fan of simple yet delicious appetizers.  Why fuss with twenty different ingredients and hours in the kitchen – there is no reason.  Sometimes the simple things in life are often the best things in life. 

We spent the Easter Holiday at my parent’s house with the entire family.  It was a wonderful day filled with great company, much laughter and food that was simple with an abundance of flavor.  My Mom tends to go the comfort food route, which always puts a smile on everyone’s face.  With four nephews ranging from 3 to 13 years, their level of interest varied from video games to being all about the foil wrapped chocolate eggs that decorated the dining room table.

My sister and I always assist with the festivities by bringing various dishes along with helping prepare the food.  I created an extremely tasty Crostini that was a hit with the family and will be making again for a dinner party I am hosting on Saturday.  It will be featured for next week’s Friday Night Bites.  A little hint:  Crispy Fried Prosciutto.  Smile.

Speaking of Friday Night Bites, this week I wanted to share with you a simply divine appetizer that packs an immense punch of flavor.  Typically you think of bacon wrapped dates or water chestnuts, but when bacon wrapped pineapple popped into my head, this was a must make.  The addition of an Asian inspired dipping sauce just completed this uncomplicated appetizer.  Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Bites with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce

Makes 24

Pineapple, 24 one inch chunks
Bacon – 24 three inch slices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

You can use fresh or canned pineapple chunks.  I prefer fresh.  Pat dry with a paper towel and wrap with the bacon and secure with a toothpick.  Use a large baking sheet pan with sides to place the bites one.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the bacon is crispy.  Turn the bites halfway during cooking process. Serve warm with the soy ginger dipping sauce.

Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce

½ Cup Soy Sauce
¼ Cup Rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, finely minced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoon sesame seeds

Add all the ingredients to a jar and top with a lid.  Shake well to combine and let rest for at least one hour to have the flavors combine.