Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In the Spirit of Giving: Fun Foodie Picks

'Tis the season. Yesterday I had a moment of clarity about the Spirit of Giving.

My 10-year-old was wandering around CostPlus World Market, looking for the last of his Secret Santa gifts. His buddy has been in a few of my Friday afternoon elective classes and, apparently, they talk about food and cooking a lot. So, D had some ideas of what he wanted to get, including measuring spoons, spices, and a spatula. He had a budget of $7 because he had already spent $3 on other days' gifts.

Let me set the stage: It was raining. I had just finished a class at the library and was tired. I just wanted to get home to work on other things. I was tempted to rush him into a selection.

But as I listened to him, questioning which one his buddy would like more, searching to see if there was something better, and staying within his budget I realized: he was focusing on what someone else would really want and need. His gift would be thoughtful. And THAT is the spirit of giving. 

So, I we stayed in that store for almost an hour. Dinner was late, but it was worth it.

That experience made me think about compiling a list of some fun foodie picks for under the tree or just in stockings.* 

Some of these I have. Some I just covet. 
Some I bought for myself. Some were gifts.
Enjoy. What's on your wish list??


*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the book or item of your choice.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Royal Icing in Secret Santa's Gingerbread Cookie Workshop

D's class is doing a Secret Santa Gift Exchange this week. He decided that he wanted to bring his buddy some decorated gingerbread men on the first day. I still had some Puerquitos dough. So I rolled out, cut the men, and baked before I ran out the door for a girls' evening with Pia. 

D decorated the cookies with Jake (thanks for helping, my Love); and I helped D wrap them up in the morning.

Royal Icing

  • egg whites from two eggs, or more if needed to thin icing
  • 4 C organic powdered sugar, or more to thicken icing
  • juice from one lemon

Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. 

Add sugar and lemon juice. Beat for another minute. 

If the icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it's too thin, add more sugar. 

Add food coloring if you desire. This icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

D's Secret Santa neglected to bring him a gift. He was sad. But he wrapped up his second present tonight and said, " I hope my Secret Santa remembers me tomorrow." Sweet boy. I hope so, too.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Candied Buddha’s Hand-Olive Oil Shortbread for #fbcookieswap v.2014

When I was trying to decide what cookies I would make for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap of 2014, I raised the question of cookie flavor combinations to social media. I received lots of great suggestions from matcha-toffee to rose-ginger and from pumpkin-cranberry to peanut butter-pretzel. But, in the end, my cookie was determined by this...

Buddha's Hand Citron are just too cool not to incorporate into a cookie! Have you ever used a Buddha's Hand? Here's a brief intro to Buddha's Hand.

  • 3 C flour
  • 1 C organic powdered sugar
  • ¼ C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 T limoncello
  • ¼ C chopped candied Buddha’s Hand citron*
  • zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 1/2 t fleur de sel
  • 1 C good quality olive oil

*Candied Buddha's Hand Citron (do this ahead of time)...

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, limoncello, candied citron, lemon zest, and fleur de sel. Pour in the olive oil and stir until the dry mixture is completely incorporated into a cohesive ball.

Transfer the dough to a baking dish. My stoneware didn't require greasing, but you might want to grease your dish first. Use your fingers to press the dough into an even layer. Prick the surface of the dough all over with a fork; I also cut score marks for the squares.

Bake until the surface feels firm to the touch and is slightly golden around the edges, approximately 50 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven, re-score the shortbread, and let cool for 20 minutes.

Using a very sharp knife, slice the shortbread into the pieces. Let cool completely before removing from the pan.

This was such a fun project...and for such a great cause. I will definitely participate in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015! Be a good cookie and join the fun next year.

Here's a special message from the Cookies for Kids' Cancer team:

"The Cookies for Kids' Cancer team wants to extend a big thank you for participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. By simply swapping cookies, you helped raise funds for pediatric cancer research, bringing HOPE to children battling this ruthless disease. Being a Good Cookie does not have to end here. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a 365-day a year non-profit, with bake sales happening in all 50 states. Simply go to to learn more about the cause, to register to host an event or  send cookies to your friends and family this holiday season. And thank you for being a Good Cookie!"

For this year's Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I was assigned to ship to Sonja of Ginger & Toasted Sesame, Kelsey of Taste for Trouble, and Robin of A Shaggy Dough Story. I hope they enjoyed these. I'll post links to the entire round-up later. Look for it. You'll have plenty of inspiration for those holiday cookie platters!

And if you want to join the fun next year, visit this link and sign up for a notification. I know I'll be doing this again.

Thanks, too, to the gals who baked for me. Alice of Dining with Alice. Heidi of Awesome with Sprinkles. And Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. My family and I really appreciated the sweets...and I loved the inspiration to log a few extra miles on my running shoes.

SRC Cookie Carnival: Compost Cookies

Welcome to a special Secret Recipe Club reveal: the Cookie Carnival. I was assigned to Little Bit of Everythingpenned by Julie. I was just assigned to Julie's blog for our November reveal when I focused on her soup recipes. So, it was nice to take a little bit more time to explore the sweets on her blog.

I picked these cookies because, well, I loved the name. And when I asked my husband what he wanted for Christmas he said a compost bin. I had been thinking the same thing! Okay, we're weird...I know. But we just moved into a new-to-us house - after being in a postage stamp-sized rented townhouse for three years after the real estate bubble imploded here in California. So, we're both excited about composting for our garden again.

Compost Cookies
Slightly adapted from Little Bit of Everything's Compost Cookies

  • 1 C butter
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C organic light brown sugar
  • 1 T ginger syrup
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-3/4 C all purpose flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1-1/2 C sweet baking ingredients (I used 1/2 C chocolate chunks, 1/2 C shredded coconut, and1/2 C sliced almonds)
  • 1-1/2 C savory snack foods (I used remnants of three chip bags, including sweet potato chips, beet chips, and some jalapeno chips)
  • 1 T coffee grounds

In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, sugars, and ginger syrup until fluffy and pale in color, approximately 3 minutes.

On a lower speed, add eggs one at a time and vanilla until well combined. Increase mixing speed to high and beat for 5 to 7 minutes more.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture.

Fold all of your mix-in ingredients into the dough.

Using a small-sized ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, placing them approximately 2" apart. Place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F and arrange cookies on cookie sheets at least 2-3″ apart

Bake 9-11 minutes, until they are golden in color and slightly brown along the edges. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan. Thanks, Julie, these are amazing!

Baked Pears with a Warm Tequila-Citrus Espuma for #SundaySupper

This week's #SundaySupper event is perfect for the holidays - we're sharing libational creations, using an alcoholic beverage or flavoring as an ingredient. I decided to feature one of my favorite winter treats: baked pears.

Espuma is similar to Italian zabaglione, or French sabayon - egg yolks and sugar whisked to a luscious froth over simmering water. You can make this in a matter of moments. And, served warm, spiked with tequila, this is almost magical!

The secret to a foamy espuma: whisk continuously. Do not stop.

Ingredients serves 2

  • 2 pears (I like Bosc pears for their shape)
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2 T honey
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • juice from 1 organic lemon
  • 1/4 C tequila (I used Buddha's Hand-Infused Tequila)
  • shortbread cookies, crumbled, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel the pears and place them in a rimmed baking dish. Whisk the honey into the water and pour it over the pears. Cover with foil and bake for an hour or until the pears are soft to the touch. Let rest while you make the espuma.

In a double-boiler or a stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmering water, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, juice, and tequila. Whisk the yolk mixture continuously, until it becomes thick and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. 

Spoon the warm espuma into a serving bowl, arrange the baked pear on top of the foam, and crumble some shortbread cookies over the top.

Here are the other libational creations...

Savory and Sweet Libational Dishes
Libational Desserts

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Spicy Miso Chicken

First a thank you. When my friend Belle told me that she'd bring me a bottle of her homemade hot sauce, I had no idea how amazing it was. It's deliciously hot, but with an incredible amount of flavor along with that heat.

Friends came over after we chopped down our Christmas trees and they were pouring it on everything from cheese - making their own Pepper Jack - to gingerbread. Okay, that was a little odd.

But I have been using it in a spicy miso marinade that sings. I've made this three times this week!

Ingredients serves 6

  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 T yellow miso paste
  • 1 T hot sauce (I used Belle's homemade hot sauce)
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 T olive oil
  • juice from 1 organic lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chicken in a baking dish so that they lay flat without overlapping. Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Pour the sauce over the chicken, spreading it with your fingers to make sure the chicken is well coated.

Bake uncovered for 55 minutes, or until the thighs are well browned and cooked through. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Thanks, Belle, for the sauce. It's beyond delicious!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Seasonal Nibbles Duet + Pear Valley Vineyard's Frizzante Muscat for #winePW

The second Saturday of the month is one of my favorite days. Do you know why? Because it's our #winePW - Wine Pairing Weekend - reveal. I absolutely adore it. How can you not love bloggers who love food and love wine. It's a fantastic event from which I always make a wine shopping list. And this month Jeff of foodwineclick is hosting this month. Here's his invitation. “Sparkling Wines and Hors D’oeuvres."

December is rife with holiday parties! So, our job this month was to create some great sparkling wine and appetizer pairings. What a perfect theme as we head into the season! If you see this early enough, please join us December 13th at 10 a.m. Central Time. We’ll be chatting on twitter at #WinePW about our creative holiday sparkling wine pairings. We’d love to have you join us!

In My Glass
For these events, I try to pick a somewhat local-to-me vintner...and something I haven't highlighted before. This month, I opted for Pear Valley Vineyard's Frizzante Muscat. Pear Valley is not too far down the road from where I am. 

Pear Valley started in the late 60s when owner Tom Maas was stationed on an army base in Germany…in the midst of a vineyard. There he developed an affection for wine. Pear Valley started with 20 acres in 1999 and now Tom and his wife Kathleen own 113 acres. In the Spring of 2008 they broke ground on a 14,000 square foot winery and a 5,000 square foot tasting room. And in August 2012 Pear Valley officially achieved Sustainability in Practice (SIP) Vineyard Certification. SIP Certification demonstrates a strict adherance to vineyard practices that are environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically-viable. Wine with a conscience. I love it!

Their Frizzante Muscat is deliciously sweet with just the right amount of spritz. I was reminded of orange blossom, jasmine and white peach. 

On the Plate
While I would typcially serve muscat with a dessert course, I wanted to create a seasonal nibbles duet that was both sweet and savory. I entertain quite a bit during the holidays and one thing I've learned: simple + delicious = hostess success.

Citronette with Winter Crudités


  • veggies for dipping, I used candy cane beets, fennel, carrots, radishes, celery, and asparagus
  • 1/4 C orange blossom honey (I picked orange blossom to match the citrus notes of the wine)
  • 1/4 C fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 t finely grated orange zest
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T fresh chopped herbs (I used some parsley and dill)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, lemon juice, and orange zest. Gradually whisk in the oil and season the citronette with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Serve immediately.

Persimmon Bruschetta


  • 4 ripe Fuyu persimmons
  • 1 fresh ricotta
  • crusty bread, sliced
  • olive oil
  • thin slices of honey with its comb (you can substitute a drizzle of honey, if you like)
  • 1/4 C toasted pecans , coarsely chopped
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush the bread with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until crisp and lightly browned. In the meantime, slice the persimmons on a mandoline or as thin as you can.

Spread a dollop of ricotta on the toasted bread, lay a slice of persimmon on top. Place a thin slice of honeycomb on the persimmon and sprinkle with pecan pieces. Serve immediately.

Wine Pairing Weekend #7 
Here's what all of the bloggers have created for the December Wine Pairing Weekend! Try something new this year! 

Sparkling Wine and Appetizer Pairings

And that's a Wrap...
...on our December #winePW event.  My Seasonal Nibbles Duet + Pear Valley Vineyard's Frizzante Muscat pairing was so much fun! I'll pin this recipe and other posts on my #winePW pinterest board. David, the event creator, also has a Wine Pairing Weekend pinterest board

And, be sure to mark your calendars for January's Wine Pairing Weekend, hosted by Christy at Confessions of a Culinary Diva. We'll be sharing pairings at the #WinePW 8 conversation on Saturday, January 10! "New Wine Resolutions!"

If you can't find Pear Valley Vineyard's Frizzante Muscat, look for a Muscat that is not too syrupy. And if you try this pairing - or just the wine - I would love to hear what you think. Comment below, find Culinary Adventures with Camilla on facebook, or tweet to me at @Culinary_Cam.

R's Gluten-Free Almond Joy Madeleines

Today is R's class holiday celebration. They'll be making evergreen wreaths, creating holiday cards, and sharing some of their favorite cookies. R started off wanting to make my Mint Chocolate Madeleines. He donned his Santa hat and went to work. 

But we were out of peppermint extract. So he decided to make Almond Joy Madeleines, using almond extract and shredded coconut. And he wanted to make them gluten-free since one of his best friends can't eat gluten. I still haven't mastered the art of converting gluten recipes to gluten-free; it's not a one to one - or cup for cup - no matter what they say. So, our texture is a little off, but he's happy that his friend can eat it.

Ingredients makes 4 dozen madeleines
  • 1-1/2 C organic butter plus some for greasing pan
  • 2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 T dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chips or chunks
  • 1 t organic chocolate extract
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 t organic almond extract
  • 2-1/4 C flour (I used a gluten-free flour mix from King Arthur)
  • 1/2 C ground almonds
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease, or butter, your madeleine pan and set aside.

Place your butter, chocolate chips, and sugar in a saucepan and heat, over medium heat, until the butter is melted and the sugar is blended into the butter.

Let the butter-sugar mixture cool for a few minutes, then spoon it into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the eggs and extracts.

Beat for a full three minutes to incorporate lots of air bubbles into your batter. Fold in the flour, ground almonds, and shredded coconut with a spatula, taking care not to deflate the batter too much. Using a truffle scoop, or teaspoon, fill the shell molds with batter until almost full.

Bake till the madeleines puff up and the centers are firm to the touch, approximately 15 to 17 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 to 7 minutes. Unmold. You may be able to tap them out; I used a small spatula to ease them out of the molds onto the cooling racks.

If you are interested in purchasing a madeleine pan for yourself, I have included an affiliate link on amazon for your convenience (below). If you are uncomfortable using the affiliate link, feel free to visit amazon on your own and search for "madeleine pan."


The Precise Kitchen Elf did a great job and is so proud that he made his own holiday treats for his class party. I'm pretty excited, too.

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