Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cold Spicy Peanut Noodles for #foodieextravaganza

Welcome to the Foodie Extravaganzav. March 2015 = Peanuts!

We are a group of bloggers who love to blog about food!  Each month we will decide on an all-famous National Monthly Food Holiday in which we will base our recipes around. This month the ingredient is the peanut. Get excited!! We hope you all enjoy our delicious oatmeal treats this month and come back to see what we bring for you next month.  If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza.  We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.


  • 2/3 C organic peanut butter
  • 1/4 C (reduced sodium) organic soy sauce
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 t freshly grated ginger
  • zest from 1 organic lemon (I used a Meyer lemon from our tree, feel free to use any lemon or even lime)
  • 3 T sesame oil + more for serving
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • juice from 2 organic lemons
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 1 pound noodles
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 T black sesame seeds
  • 1 T white sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • peanuts for garnish (I used some spiced peanuts)

Over low heat, combine all ingredients - from peanut butter to warm water - and whisk to combine. Once smooth, set aside, Cook pasta according to time on the package. Drain.

In a large mixing bowl, place the sauce. Scoop in the pasta. Add a splash of olive oil. Toss to coat. To serve, place noodles in a bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, green onions, and peanuts. Drizzle with sesame oil just before serving.

Here are 11 delicious Peanut Recipes!
Peanut and Candy Popcorn Ball from We Like to Learn as We Go
Kung Pao Chicken from Fearlessly Creative Mammas 
 Peanut Almond Polvoron from The Joyful Foodie 
 Cold Spicy Peanut Noodles from Culinary Adventure with Camilla 
 Oatmeal Peanut Butter Scones from Baking in Pyjamas 
 Reese's Cheesecake Brownies from Making Miracles 
 Peanut Crunch Pull Apart Bread from Mrs. Penguin 
 Spicy Georgia Sugared Peanuts from Food Lust People Love 
 Chocolate Caramel Peanut Clusters from The Freshman Cook 
 A Peanutty Treat from A Day in the Life on the Farm 
 Whoopie Pies with Peanut Filling from Passion Kneaded

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spiced Vanilla Bitters

When I picked up a copy of Edible San Luis Obispo, on our kamikaze run to Paso Robles last weekend (when we explored Halter Ranch Vineyards), I was inspired by an article titled "Drops and Dahses: DIY Floral Bitters" by Jaime Lewis.

I've purchased my share of bitters for craft cocktails, but I never thought to make my own. Jaime's article offered two recipes - Hibiscus Bitters and Lavender Bitters - that provided a great starting point for my own experimentations. The formula seems pretty simple - bittering agents plus flavoring agents plus alcohol. We'll see how it turns out in two weeks...just in time for a birthday dinner for one of my best friends! Cheers.


  • one 3" piece of cinnamon
  • 2 star anise pods 
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 t whole cloves
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced open
  • one 1" piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • peel from one organic lemon
  • 4 ounces rum
  • 6 ounces vodka

Place all of the ingredients in a jar. Make sure that the spices are submerged. Cover with a lid and place in the cupboard. Shake gently everyday. Let steep and infuse for two weeks.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Exploring Halter Ranch {wine tour and tasting}

I've been meaning to explore Halter Ranch Vineyard since I was introduced to their wines through David of Cooking Chat; he's the brains behind the monthly Wine Pairing Weekend - #WinePW - event when a group of food loving winos (or are we wine loving foodies!) share pairings with a certain theme.

In any case, Halter Ranch graciously sent a few of us wines to pair during our October 2014 event. I ended up making a Pumpkin Lasagna + Halter Ranch's Côtes de Paso. Then I ordered two of their dessert wines for my Thanksgiving sweets pairing; I poured Halter Ranch's Vin de Paille & El Pecado with a spiced parsnip cake and bittersweet cremeux, respectively. These have all been great and well-received pairings.

So, when friends mentioned they were heading down to Paso to do an errand, I booked a tour and tasting for us. We were fortunate enough to have Ray to ourselves and he deftly guided us around the property, the winery, and the cave. Then he led us through a tasting of seven wines.

I was a fan before the tour and tasting. Now I'm positively enamored. I've toured many, many wineries, as have my husband and our friends, and we were all duly impressed and can't wait to get back.

Ray was well-versed on the history of the property and pointed out fascinating bits of trivia. For instance, originally built in 1885, the Halter Ranch Victorian farmhouse was the site of the first kill in the 1990 film ‘Arachnophobia.’ And the covered bridge built in 2009 - by a company in Oregon - to fulfill the fire department’s requirement of access to the new winery across Las Tablas Creek has a 2009 silver dollar affixed to the bridge.

We walked across the bridge and up to the new winery that combines form and function in one of the most stunning buildings I've ever seen. It was 'clean and beautiful' meets 'rustic aesthetic.'

After the winery, we toured the cave. That always feels a little illicit as if we're lifting up the petticoats of an operation. Ray shared how to read the barrel markings, including how it's toasted, the forest from which the wood was harvested, and when it was made. I learned that a person who makes barrels is called a cooper. And we saw several barrels exhibiting willow hoops instead of the current metal wine barrel rings.

We ended our visit in the tasting room where Ray guided us through seven different wines, including the Côtes de Paso, Vin de Paille, and El Pecado. You know it's been a successful tasting when you leave with six bottles. I suggested we confer about which three bottles each couple wanted - and not repeat - so that we could share. "I'm not sharing," asserted Brian. Fine. I won't share either.

Tasting Notes + Food Musings
2014 Rosé: While I wouldn't typically pick a pink wine, this is a far cry from the syrupy white zinfandels of the 1990s. This is a completely dry, totally alluring wine with aromas of tropical fruit and a crisp minerality. I envision drinking this with a soufflé, such as my Emmentaler-Parmesan Soufflés.

2012 Côtes de Paso: This blend of Grenache, Syrash, Mourvèdre, and Tannat is light and bright with a smooth spiciness that would pair deliciously with my Burrata-Prosciutto Bruschetta with Pear Jam.

2012 Syrah: We ended up taking a bottle of this wine home with us. Jake loved the subtle floral aroma and full mouth-feel of ripe stone fruits. I think my Rose-y Lamb Lollipops with a Morello Cherry Glaze would complement it nicely.

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon: This is a classic Cab specimen, a wine rife with berries and minerals. I picture a glass of this alongside my Grilled Porterhouse with Shitakes.

2012 Ancestor Reserve; Named for the 29-foot circumference oak on the property, the Ancestor Oak, this is a big red. Complex and bold this Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot blend deserves a big, meaty dish. How about my Earthy Braised Lamb Shanks?

We ended with the Vin de Paille and El Pecado. Click for my tasting notes and pairings from Thanksgiving. 

What a glorious visit to Halter Ranch. We're already scheming about how to get back down there soon. Many thanks to Ray for the tour and tasting, to Matt - of Hoot n Annie - for arranging the tour, and - last but definitely not least - to the winemakers who turn the grapes into some truly delicious wines. 

And did I mention Halter Ranch was one of the first SIP Certified sustainable vineyards? Click to read about the SIP (Sustainability in Practice) Certification. Impressive, delectable, and committed to the environment. Can't wait for our next visit.

My Scallop Ceviche @ The Weekend Gourmet

Today I guest posted over at The Weekend Gourmet. Click to see my Scallop Ceviche recipe on Wendy's blog: here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bean Ragoût and Crisped Mushrooms for #SundaySupper

Tammi from Momma's Meals s our hostess for today's #SundaySupper. Tammi picked a 'beantastic' theme. So anything and everything made with beans. I wanted to make a smoky bean ragoût without bacon. No reason for the restriction, I was just intrigued by friends' comments that my Lapsang Souchong Blondies tasted like they had bacon in them. I figured I'd give this substitution a try. Success.

Ragoût is a thick, hearty French stew; there's a similar version known as ragù in Italy. The defining characteristic of ragoût: it is cooked slowly over low heat for a long, long time. The extended cooking allows flavors to develop, creating a rich layered flavor.

In terms of ingredients, there are no rules with ragoût. And because ragoût can be filling, serve small portions. Leftovers are fantastic because this stew tastes even better on the second day!

Bean Ragoût
  • 5 C dried beans, soaked (I used red adzuki)
  • 2 T butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
  • 3 green garlic stalks, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 delicata squash, cleaned and cubed
  • 2 T ketchup
  • water
  • 1 T lapsang souchong, crushed
  • 1 t smoked sea salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 C collard greens, chiffonaded
Crisped Mushrooms
  • mushrooms (I used canary oysters, oysters, and shitakes)
  • butter
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Bean Ragoût
Put the beans in a large souppot, covered with cold water. Cover pot and soak beans for 6 hours or overnight. Drain beans and set aside.

In the same pot, melt the butter in a splash of olive oil. Add in the fennel, green garlic, and garlic. Saute until the green garlic and fennel softens and begin to caramelize. Spoon in the beans, delicata, and ketchup.

Fill the pot with water, covering the beans by 1-1/2 to 2" of water. Bring to a boil. Add in the tea, salt, rosemary, and bay leaves. Turn down to a simmer. Cover the pot, and let cook on low heat for 2 hours. Fold in the greens and cook for another hour.

Crisped Mushrooms
Melt butter in a large, flat-bottom pan. When the butter begins to brown, lay your mushrooms in the pan. Make sure that you can see the bottom between the mushrooms and that the mushrooms aren't touching.

Let the mushrooms brown and crisp. Flip the mushrooms and crisp them on the other side. Only after they are crisp should you season them. Adding salt when they are cooking will lead to soggy mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

That's it. Easy peasy. Serve a small bowl of Bean Ragoût and Crisped Mushrooms

Here's what everyone else brought to the Beantastic Table...

Beantastic Beginners:
Bean-a-rific Soups and Stews:
Bean-a-licious Sides:
Incredi-bean Main Meals:
Amaze-beans Sweet Endings:
Sunday Supper Movement
Join 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.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Brotherly Love and Linguine alle Noce for #FoodNFlix

Elizabeth, of The Lawyer's Cookbook, is hosting this month's Food'N'Flix event. We watched, or rewatched as the case may be, Lady and the Tramp. Click to see Elizabeth's invitation.

This post contains an affiliate link for the DVD at the bottom. 

On the Screen...
Four words: this is a classic. I had no idea that this movie was originally made in 1955. "It's almost as old as Nonna," noted my little one. True! She's a classic, too.

If you haven't seen this, here's the gist - it's a love story where Lady, a pampered cocker spaniel, meets and falls for Tramp, a roguish mutt from the wrong side of the tracks. There are, as with all good love stories, complications. But, in the end, Lady's humans - Dear and Darling - invite Tramp to stay. That's all I'll say. If you haven't seen it, do!

On the Plate...
How could I not make pasta? I mean, it's even on the cover of the DVD, right?? So, I had one of my pasta-making Kitchen Elves help me while I made the sauce. The other one was busy working on a school project.

They were moderately good sports about the photo shoot. I had to do it, right?

"Mom," complained the bigger one, "do I have to?" Yes. C'mon, you love your brother. "Not like that," he objected. Still, he obliged, grudgingly. I know he isn't going to humor me forever, so I'll take it when I can get it.

A quick note about the title: noce typically refers to walnuts in Italian. But since it really just means 'nuts' I went with it. I used almonds and pecans since walnuts are not a favorite in my household.

  • 1 C flour (we used semolina)
  • 1 egg
  • water as needed
  • 1 C milk
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 C raw almonds, chopped
  • 1 C raw pecans, chopped
  • 1 C shredded parmesan
  • 1 C chopped parsley
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil

Place the flour in a heap on a piece of wax paper. Create a deep well in the middle of the flour with the egg. Crack the egg into the hole. If you're adding anything in, do it at the bottom of your well...before adding the egg.

Whisk the egg into the flour with the fork.

Add water one tablespoon at a time. Once the dough comes together in a ball, begin gently folding the dough on itself, flattening, and folding again. Once it's firm enough to knead, knead the dough, incorporating more flour, as needed, to prevent the dough from sticking to your workspace.

When you have a cohesive dough ball, set your pasta machine to the thickest setting, usually marked "1". Flatten a piece of dough into a thick disk between your hands and feed it through the pasta roller. Repeat two more times. Fold this piece of dough into thirds, like folding a letter, and press it between your hands again. Now run the pasta through the machine 1 time on each of the settings 2-6.

Finally, run the pasta through the cutter.Toss the noodles with a little flour to keep them from sticking together.

Place the milk, crushed garlic cloves, and nuts in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. then remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Place the ingredients in a blender. Add 3/4 C cheese, 3/4 C parsley, and a splash of olive oil. Blend till smooth.

To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water, and cook the pasta until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve: drain the pasta in a colander and pour the pasta into large mixing bowl. Add in the nut mixture - one tablespoon at a time - until you get the coverage you want. Toss with a bit of the cooking water and a splash more olive oil. Garnish with a pinch of cheese, a sprinkle of parsley, and some salt and pepper. Pronto al tavolo!

What a fun viewing. Thanks for hosting, Elizabeth. We'll be back in March when Joanne at What's on the List? is hosting. We'll be watching The Quiet Man. Stay tuned for her invitation.


All of the Mekenita Salsa Recipes from #TripleSBites

Earlier this month I hosted an 8-day online event celebrating food and romance - #TripleSBites. Along with 19 other bloggers, we shared over 130 recipes.

I wanted to give my readers an easy way to view the recipes from each sponsor. Here are the recipes posted using Mekenita Mexican Grille's Salsa de Casa. Thanks, again, for sending product to the bloggers and for providing a wonderful prize package for our readers!

Check out everything from ceviche to risotto. These recipes are listed in alphabetical not chronological posting order. Enjoy!

All of the Mekenita Mexican Grille Recipes...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Matcha-Chocolate Chip Blondies

No story, really. I was craving something sweet and had ingredients to whip up these green-hued treats. I also love that it's a one pot, one bowl, and one baking dish creation.

  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C butter, melted
  •  2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 C flour (I used a whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 3/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 C chopped raw pecans
  • 1 T matcha green tea powder

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter, and eggs just until blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, and matcha; add to sugar mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.

Spoon into a greased 8" x 8" baking pan and spread with a spatula to reach the edges of the pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

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