Monday, October 31, 2011

Anne Burrell's Sausage Ragu

I love a nice big bowl of hearty pasta, especially on nights like last night when it's cold outside. Since we didn't have any plans yesterday other than watching football and carving pumpkins, it was the perfect time to try a new Anne Burrell recipe. Be warned, you need at least 4 hours to complete this dish. I set aside 5 just in case. It was so worth it. The sauce has so much flavor that I was tempted to eat it right out of the pot with a spoon.

 Sausage Ragu is in her new cookbook Cook Like a Rock Star.
I was lucky enough to win a copy from my local radio station when she was in the area for a signing.

 Hours of cooking with lots of TLC.

Topped with delicious cheese and ready to eat.

I normally share recipes online but since this one isn't listed on there are probably some copyright issues. You can get a copy of her cookbook on Amazon or I've seen it at Costco and Target.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bake Sale this Sunday- Toasted Hazelnut, White Chocolate/Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just to prepare you, I'm going to be obnxious about this and remind everyone several times over the weekend, but it's for a great cause. Kari at Running Ricig is hosting a bake sale to benefit Kisses for Katie. I'm auctioning a delicious batch of Toasted Hazelnut, White Chocolate/Chocolate Chip Cookies. The sale begins this Sunday at 10am on Kari's website so mark your calendars people. There are going to be many yummy items up for bidding and I really hope you'll participate.

 Don't they look good? You know you want some.
Plus, they freeze really well
 so you can enjoy them for several weeks.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trail Mix

If I go too long without eating, I get very cranky so I like to have a snack readily available if it looks like my next meal is too far in the future. Trail mix is one of my favorite snacks to keep in my desk at work. It lasts forever and is easy to make at home. I tend not to buy ready-made trail mix at the store. It usually contains a couple things I don't like or is too salty for me. Plus, it's cheaper in the long run to make my own and I can control the ingredients.
This mix contains:
Dried apricots
Raw walnuts
Lightly salted cashews
Banana chips cooked in coconut oil
Dark chocolate covered raisins
Lightly salted almonds

What do you like in your trail mix?
 I'm a fan of sesame sticks and Chinese crackers too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Couch to 5K Week 7

This is how I felt last night when we started Week 7. I felt like my pace was so slow and the 25 minutes without a rest of running was really intimidating. But, I did it. 25 minutes went by a lot faster than I thought it would and I'm so glad I didn't give in and walk. The 5K is just a few weeks away and I really want to be able to run the whole thing.
I've started running with my iPod to motivate me. Any good songs I should add?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hey, It's OK Tuesday!

I'm linking up with Amber for "Hey, It's OK Tuesday"

"Hey, It's OK....."

To already be listening to Christmas music. If Costco can start displaying ornaments, then I can load my iPod with Joy to the World and The First Noel.

To have cried a little watching Kim Kardashian's wedding episode. I lost my dad before I got married so I know how rough it is not to have him to walk you down the aisle.

To purchase enough cans of pumpkin to stock a bomb shelter. I just can't get enough. Yum!

To be too scared to go to Halloween Horror Nights. I went once and will forever be traumatized.

To be proud I'm training for a 5K but hate every minute of the actual running.

To wear the same outfits every week to work because it's comfortable and I don't have to think about what to wear.

To sleep in on the weekends and then take an afternoon nap. This is why I don't have kids yet.

If you'd like to partcipate, check out Amber's blog

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

This was my first time working with yeast outside of using a bread machine. I promised myself I wouldn't get frustrated which was a good thing because my first yeast packet didn't bubble like it was supposed to so I started over by proofing it first then adding it to the other ingredients. Second time was a charm and all the other steps was a cinch after that. I used a white chocolate ganache for the frosting rather than what the recipe called for but next time I'm going to try the butterscotch glaze.

 These taste even better than they look.
 My cute little dough ball.
 Dough ball rising just like it's supposed to.
 I added pecans before rolling it.
 Hot from the oven and ready for white chocolate goodness.
So yummy.
 I had to stop myself from eating the whole pan by myself.

The recipe I used is from Sugar Plum.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Congo Bars

Mmmmm....these are the perfect blend of chocolate and coconut without being too sweet. I made them for a friend's birthday since they travel well and make plenty for sharing.
Plus with the addition of delicious toasted so good.  

You can find the recipe on the BrownEyedBaker's website.

Do you have a favorite blog for baked treats?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Brisket with Carrots & Onions

We had some family over for Sunday dinner recently and I decided to make brisket. I cooked it in my Crock Pot since I was gone for most of the day. I chose Ina Garten's recipe since it called for tomato juice and I had a lot leftover in the fridge from a gazpacho recipe I made. Although the dish turned out good, I don't know that I'd make it in tomato juice again. I hate to say it, but I prefer the Lipton onion mix recipe. I served the brisket with baked potatoes, rolls and a bottle of red wine.  We ate outside in between sessions of football watching. Typical Sunday LOL

Brisket with Carrots & Onions
by Ina Garten

6 to 7 pounds beef brisket

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced garlic (4 cloves)

2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

8 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch chunks

6 yellow onions, peeled and sliced

6 fresh or dried bay leaves

1 (46-ounce) can tomato juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (I cooked mine in a slow cooker)

Place the brisket in a heavy roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano. Rub the mixture on the brisket. Pile the carrots, celery, onions, and bay leaves on the brisket and pour in enough tomato juice to come about 3/4 of the way up the meat and vegetables. Cover the top of the pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper, then with aluminum foil. (The tomato juice will react unpleasantly with the aluminum foil if they touch.)

Bake for 3 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat from the pan and keep it warm. Place the pan on 2 burners and boil the vegetables and sauce over medium heat for another 30 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened.

To serve, slice the meat across the grain. Serve with the vegetables.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

I finished this book in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. It's a quick but very powerful read. It's one of those books that you think about for days after reading it. I felt the same way about The Shack which I recommend to friends all the time. I bought my copy of Heaven is for Real at Costco which was a great deal and I definitely plan to buy several copies as Christmas gifts. There is an excerpt of the book available on their website
I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think.

Any good books to recommend?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Couch to 5K- Week 5

Today we completed week 5 of the Couch to 5K. This week was jog 5 walk 3, repeated 3 times. My pace is pretty slow, but I'm sticking with it. I don't get a stitch in my side nearly as often and my shins don't hurt anymore. I'm definitely starting to notice that what I eat before I jog affects how well I do. For instance, I had a big carb lunch, a cupcake and then I took a nap....try jogging after that. My tummy was not happy but I survived. I'm looking forward to week 6.
Do you eat anything special or restrict your diet before you jog? I'm really new to this whole 5K training thing. I recently checked out a book called Run Your Butt Off at the library so I'm hoping it will have some good tips.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies

Louanne over at Louanne's Kitchen is featuring 12 weeks of Christmas cookies and I couldn't wait until Christmas to try these. I had to use frozen cranberries since fresh aren't available in my area yet and I didn't do the gluten-free option. These cookies are so delicious. We devoured so many right from the baking sheet that I knew they'd be dangerous to have in the house so I sent the rest to work with my hubby.
Check out Louanne's blog for the recipe.
Are you planning your Christmas baking yet? I'm definitely not ready. I'm savouring Fall right now and not in a hurry to get to Winter.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cooking with Fabio at Cafe Firenze

Cafe Firenze is one of my favorite restaurants. It's one of those places that I take my family and friends since I know the service will always be good and the food always yummy. Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame hosted a cooking class last weekend and I was so excited to attend. The class was a little over 2 hours and was full of fun and deliciousness. The best part, other than Fabio's humor and charm, was of course the food and drink.

Fabio in action. I tried to be as discreet as possible with my picture taking. He didn't mind cameras being present but I wanted to spend more time paying attention to what he was doing than taking pictures.
 Jacopo, the mixologist for the restaurant, showed us how to make ginger/cranberry margaritas.
 So so good and he definitely didn't skimp on the tequila.
 The meal we learned how to make- lemon/garlic chicken, cranberry risotto and pumpkin gnocchi.
The gnocchi was my favorite.
We ended the class with a dessert cocktail- pumpkin pie martinis.
 This was super strong so I couldn't finish it but it had good flavor.

If you're ever in the area, please stop at Cafe Firenze for lunch or dinner. I believe there is going to be another cooking class in December, which I fully intend to sign up for, so maybe I'll see you there. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Deen Bros- Buttery Chicken "Scampi" Pasta

I'm a fan of the Deen family and their recipes, despite what Anthony Bourdain has to say. Ugh! I checked out the Deen Bros cookbook from the library and tried their Buttery Chicken "Scampi" recipe. It was really good. I subsituted basil for the parsely but other than that I didn't make any changes.
I'm always at a loss for how to make photos of chicken look appetizing.....suggestions?

Buttery Chicken "Scampi" Pasta
by Deen Bros

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tbsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup dry white wine (I used Viogner)

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

3 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2 inch-long strips

1/3 cup fresh parsley

1 1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cooked pasta, such as linguine for serving

Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the wine, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half, 3-5 minutes. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the sauce in the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, or until no longer pink inside and the juices run clear when pricked with a fork. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Serve over the pasta.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Coffee Republic, Folsom CA I have to admit, Northern California seems to have a much better selection of coffee houses and cafes than we do in Southern California. After hiking by Folsom Lake, we stopped by Coffee Republic for lunch. Super hip and fun inside with nice seating outside.

I started with a snickerdoodle. Mainly because I was starving while waiting for my food and also because sometimes dessert first is a treat. Plus, it was only a dollar.

First, yes I know this photo isn't upright. I can't get it to rotate and I'm too annoyed with blogger to figure it out. Oh well. It's a thai iced latte. I like trying new drinks and this one is really yummy. Mango tea with coconut milk.

My hubby's latte, which since I'm greedy I sneaked a few delicious sips. I swear, if I ever get pregnant I don't know how I'll give up coffee.

Ham, apple and brie sandwich. There was also some kind of berry onion compote on here that was tasty.

My hubby's chicken and artichoke sandwich.
Do you have a favorite coffee house or cafe?
What do you like to order?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Apple Hill

I was a kid the last time I went to Apple Hill with my family. So young that I hardly remember it but the little snipits I do remember are good and when my family suggested we visit, I was all for it. It's about an hour outisde of Rocklin where we were staying. I couldn't tell you exactly since I'm not from the area and I wasn't driving but it didn't seem too far.

The first thing I noticed when we got there was the scent of apples and cinnamon in the air. It smelled so so good. Can you guess where the smell was coming from? The bakery where heavenly donuts are made. My hubby and I split an apple fritter and I also had an apple slushie.

Next up was the fudge factory. Really crowded and since I'm not a huge fudge fan we didn't buy anything. I did buy some delicious apple pumpkin butter from the market area that I don't have a photo of. So delicious!

Donuts for breakfast the next morning and maybe a few for the ride home.
Have you ever been to Apple Hill? Or some place similar?
What is you favorite apple treat?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Julia Child's French Onion Soup

Can you tell it was late at night when I took this photo? This was a cold, dark and rainy day dinner. Julia Child's French Onion Soup is perfection. So perfect, I had the leftovers for lunch 2 days in row. Rather than top it with toasts, I ladled into toasty bread bowls. Mmmmm...carb coma.

Soupe à L’oignon Gratinée – French Onion Soup
by Julia Child

6-8 servings


5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons flour

2 quarts beef stock, boiling

1/2 cup dry white wine

salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons cognac

4-6 rounds of hard-toasted French bread

1-2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese


1) Cook the onions slowly in the butter and oil in a covered saucepan for 15 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to medium and stir in the salt and sugar. The sugar will help the onions to brown. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions have turned a deep golden brown.

2) Sprinkle in the flour and stir over heat for 3 minutes. Off heat, blend in the stock. Add the wine and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for another 30-40 minutes or more, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings.

3) Just before serving, stir in the cognac. Place rounds of bread in soup bowls or a tureen and pour soup on top. Sprinkle with grated cheese and brown under a hot broiler until golden and bubbly. Serve immediately.

What is your favorite rainy day dinner?

Fiori's Butcher Shop, Lodi, CA

I love a good deli. Especially one with friendly service and a nice atmosphere. A friend suggested we try Fiori's Butcher Shoppe & Deli while we were in Lodi and I'm so glad he did. It was really good.
As with most delis, you order at the counter, receive a number and then they bring you your food. I was overwhelmed by all the menu choices and when the server said I could also create my own sandwich as well I thought I'd be there all day deciding. Oh my, way too many choices. If I lived closer, I'd order something new everyday.

 Do you see how the menu wraps around the whole counter?

 I ordered the half sandwich (Chicken Ceasar) and soup (Tortilla).
The sandwich was delicious on Genova bread. My only complaint about the whole place is the soup.
 It was mainly soggy tortilla pieces with some corn kernels added. Not impressed.
My hubby had the turkey on marble rye. He said it was really good.
I didn't try it since I'm not a fan of sprouts.

Overall, loved this place and wish there was one in my area.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Michael David Winery, Lodi CA

I'm baaaccck! Did you miss me? We went to a wedding at the Grand Island Mansion in Walnut Grove and then up to visit family in Rocklin. It was such a wonderful vacation. While waiting between check-out of our hotel and check-in at the mansion for the wedding, we stopped at Michael David Winery in Lodi, CA. I had read the grounds are beautiful and the wine is really good. It did not disappoint. My hubby was the DD so I got to enjoy several tastings of both red and white.
The white tastings were my favorite. 
I didn't bring any home but I'll definitely look for it at the store.

Attached to the tasting room is a small produce market as well as cafe. 
We didn't have lunch but I saw several dishes I'd like to go back and try.
 The grounds are beautiful. They grow a lot of produce on site. 
There's a duck pond as while as an outdoor picnic area.

Obligatory couple's pose. It was such a nice way to spend a couple hours.

Have you been wine tasting? 
Do you have a favorite place to visit?