Year: 2011

THE Amazing Sandwich – My Way

Everybody loves good sandwich.
Cold, hot, pressed or open face, pretty much, they all taste very good.
Still to get the amazing tasting sandwich, fresh and quality ingredients and nice combination are the key.
You know me, always watching for quantity of fats, sugar and spreads, everything in moderation:)
I made trips to several stores to get all the ingredients for my sandwich, you can’t find them all in one store.
Proudly, I present you my The Amazing Sandwich

Shopping list:

Bread:
Pain Rustique rolls

Meat and protein:
Prosciutto
Bacon, grilled
Turkey breast, deli sliced
Hard boiled egg
Smoked Mozzarella cheese

Spread:
Homemade Aioli with capers

Condiments:
Kalamata Olives, pitted
Red fire roasted peppers

Greens:
Baby Aragula greens

On the side:
Banana waxed peppers
Castelvetrano Whole Green Olives

Homemade Aioli recipe:

2 egg yolks, fresh
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup capers
1/2 cup olive oil

Mince garlic and a pinch of salt until smooth.
Put egg yolk in a bowl, add about half the garlic paste and 1/2 teaspoon water. Mix well with a whisk.
Using cup with a pour spout, slowly dribble in oil, whisking constantly. As egg yolk absorbs oil, sauce will thicken, lighten in color. Then you can add oil a little faster, whisking all the while. If the sauce is thicker than you like, thin it with a few drops of lemon juice and white vinegar. Add capers and combine. Store in the fridge.
If you don’t like to use fresh egg yolks you can use store bought mayo and add garlic, lemon and capers.

There it is, Mediterranean inspired sandwich, for hungry adults, boys and girls:)
Taste- Fantastic:)

My Mom’s Stuffed Eggplant Recipe

Last night I spoke to my mom over the phone and she was telling me about this wonderful dish that she prepared for my dad and herself yesterday for lunch. My dad took few photos and it sounded so delicious I promised that I would love to add this recipe to my blog….I could tell they were proud:)
It is very hard to live so far from each other, Europe and States are ocean away….and it is not always possible to travel so often. Phones, Skype and blog are great help to stay in touch almost every day:)
This is vegetarian style recipe. Very tasty and healthy dish, fully recommended from my mom’s trusty kitchen:)

You will need:

2 medium eggplant
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil leaves, chopped
3 fresh tomatoes
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash and cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the center, leaving enough meat inside the skin so that it holds its shape when baked.
Using the large skillet over medium fire, heat the olive oil and sauté the scooped-out center part until nice and brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add two peeled, diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, season with salt and pepper. Fill the scooped-out eggplant halves with this mixture, dividing it evenly. On the top of every half add fresh tomato circle and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
Place stuffed eggplants in baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.
Garnish with fresh basil leaves and extra Parmesan cheese if you like.
Serve warm and enjoy.

Hors d’oeuvre, Figs & Goat cheese with Homemade Chia Crackers

Figs are magic:)
Busy afternoon and my constant desire to make something for munching….Love the sound of my mixer working…..
Have beautiful fresh figs in the fridge and goat cheese….all I need to make are homemade crackers and there is a great afternoon appetizer or snack.
Recently I bought Chia seeds. These are amazing little seeds packed with goodness of protein.

Homemade crackers

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup yogurt
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup Chia seeds

Stir flour, sea salt, butter and yogurt in the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook.
Continue to process until the dough forms a smooth ball.
Place the dough in a mixing bowl and cover it with a tea cloth. Leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Flour your working surface and your rolling pin, place dough into the center of your work surface and roll it to 1/8-inch. Cut the dough into rounds or use baking cutter.
Brush each unbaked cracker with melted butter, sprinkle with Chia seeds and extra sea salt if you like. Poke the crackers with the fork to prevent puffing and bake in an oven for about 8 minutes.

When crackers are done, arrange halved fresh figs and piece of goat cheese on each cracker and drizzle with honey.
This is a great appetizer. Everything you craving for, salty good for you crackers, delicious figs, creamy cheese and sweet honey, beautiful:)

Nutrition info:
The chia seed has twice the protein of any other seed or grain and five times the calcium of milk. Chia seeds also contain boron which is a trace mineral that helps with the absorption of calcium. The essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and Omega 6 are also present in the seeds.

Crepes Suzette, Kids Friendly Recipe

As you all know, in our family everybody loves crepes. Nutella rules but I wanted to made lovely Crepes Suzette, this time without using the Grand Marnier and cognac. It is kids friendly version or for anybody else who doesn’t want to use alcohol in the recipe.

For Crepes:

2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold non-fat milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup cold water

For Orange Spread:

2 tablespoons sweet cream butter, softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
orange marmalade, optional
1 cup fresh raspberries

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour, milk, salt and sugar until smooth, the batter will be thick. Whisk in the water.
Heat a crepe pan or nonstick skillet and rub with a little butter. Add 2 tablespoons of the batter and tilt the skillet to distribute the batter evenly, pouring any excess batter back into the bowl. Cook over medium heat until the edges of the crepe curl up and start to brown. Flip the crepe and cook until a few brown spots appear on the bottom. Repeat with the remaining batter to make approximately 10 crepes. Set aside.
In a mini food processor, blend butter with sugar and the orange zest. With the machine on, gradually add the orange juice until incorporated.
Preheat the broiler.
Butter a large rimmed baking pan and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
Place 1 teaspoon of the orange butter in the center of each crepe. If you like you can add tea spoon of orange marmalade too. Fold the crepes in half and in half again to form triangles. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar and broil until they begin to caramelize, about 1-2 minutes.
For finish dust the crepes with powdered sugar and fresh raspberries.
This is perfect weekend breakfast treat.
Serve warm with glass of cold milk and enjoy!

Mini Donuts, Baked with Caramel, Pecans & Peanuts

All right, Donuts….hmmm…Many people love the taste of warm and sweet donuts. For me, factor of pastry swimming in the pool of oil and quantity of sugar in fake frosting, I forget about it.
Still, few days ago while visiting Sur La Table store, my eye spotted this cute little donuts pan. I was debating at first, but then my ideas kicked in and I was thinking how to bake this mini donuts and for the frosting, do something more fancy….My kids were following me every step of the way through the process, taking pictures and making sure that we will make minis again:) So here we go.

I was totally surprised how fast they were done. Perfect idea for weekend breakfast with milk, fresh coffee or tea. Yum.

Makes 12 mini donuts

3/4 cup cake flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup sweet cream butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar

Preheat oven to 425° F. Spray mini donuts pan with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.
Using stand mixer with the paddle attachment mix together egg, sugar, butter, vanilla and buttermilk. Add flour, baking powder, all spice and salt.

Whisk to combine.
Place the donuts batter into a piping bag or use a sandwich bag, making little opening in the corner.

Pipe batter into donuts pan.
Bake until the tops of the donuts became golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in donuts pan on a wire rack.

Remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely.

To make quick Caramel :

2 oz KRAFT caramel bites
2 teaspoons of non-fat milk

Place caramel bits in the small saucepan. Add water and cook on low heat for few minutes until bites completely melt, stirring constantly.
Finish the doughnuts by sprinkling then with hot caramel, pecans and peanut peaces.

Serve warm.
Mini donuts are absolutely amazing, lower in fat, texture is lovely and frosting- perfect fit:)
Enjoy!

Fresh Baby Carrot Cream Soup and Happy Start of the New School Year:)

Here we are again, another school year began today in our town.
This morning, while dropping off kids to schools I realized that relaxing Summer break is over while watching totally crazy traffic around the school sites.
Wow, that was intense, what a change.
Last night my kids and I had a talk about lunch boxes and what kind of menu ideas they have to pack them for school lunches. Besides usual, like pasta or healthy sandwiches they asked for soup too.
Since they love baby carrots, I decided to make Fresh Baby Carrot Cream Soup.
It was ultimate carrot soup, so good. This recipe is perfect for adults too, soup is packed with antioxidants plus it is low in fat.

I completely recommend this recipe for to pack & go option or when kids are back from school and they need something homemade to warm their tummies.
Extra fast and easy to make soup, plus most people always have that bag of baby carrots in the fridge, how convenient is that?

Fresh Baby Carrot Cream Soup

1 lb fresh baby carrots
1 medium red onion, peeled and grilled
1 apple, peeled and cored
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 bunch Fresh Italian Parsley
sea salt, to taste
5 cups of water
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 cup non-fat half and half

Making this recipe is super convenient because while we making the soup, we are making the vegetable stock too. To start making your own vegetable stock, first grill the peeled onion on the stove burner, each side for few minutes. This process will add amazing aroma to the soup. Using large cooking pot add carrots, grilled onion, apple, parsley, water, salt and peppercorns to taste. Cook the stock for 45 minutes over medium heat.
Using colander drain the liquid in the extra pot, save for later.
Using blender add carrots, apple, onion, sour cream and half and half.
Start blending and slowly adding vegetable stock till you reach desired soup consistency.
Season with sea salt and extra pepper if you wish.
Serve warm.
Soup is light, creamy, airy and delicious.
Perfect with side of fresh bread and little butter on the side.
Happy School Year!

Nutrition info:
Carrots are packed with Vitamin C and phytonutrient antioxidants. Carotenoids, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein. Also there is good source of Vitamin K and Dietary fiber.

Chocolate Spicy Chilli Souffle

Souffle is amazing dessert. Cheese and chocolate are my favorite varieties. This time I decided to spice up a recipe. Since I had chili dark chocolate in my pantry I decided to use different chocolate combination as usual.
Taste is absolutely amazing. Sweet, spicy, creamy and wonderful.

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces chilli chocolate
2 tablespoons sweet cream butter
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon warm water
1/4 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
powdered sugar for garnish

Brush 4 ramekins with soft butter, then coat with sugar. Put the prepared ramekins in the freezer.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Put the chocolate and butter in a medium pan. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer, set the bowl over, but without touching the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla sugar. Set aside.
Combine the egg yolk and warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment and beat until frothy. Add sugar and continue beating. Fold the yolk into the chocolate mixture.
Remove prepared ramekins from freezer. Put the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer with whisk attachment. Beat on medium until frothy, then add the remaining sugar and increase speed to high.
Fold slowly egg whites into the chocolate until blended. Gently ladle or spoon the souffle mixture into the ramekins and place on a prepared baking sheet.
Immediately bake until the souffle rises about 1 inch from the ramekins, about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Result is souffle with beautiful crunchy top and velvety cream inside.

This is also reduced fat and gluten free recipe.

Enjoy:)

No Kid Hungry Campaign

All across America families struggle to feed themselves and children are hit the hardest.
“Share Our Strength” national non-profit is working to end children hunger in U.S. by 2015.
Williams-Sonoma is partnered with No Kid Hungry campaign to help get nutritious food to kids in need.
For more info and how you can help please visit
http://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/special-offers/no-kid-hungry/

Recently I received an e-mail about event at Williams-Sonoma stores. With donation of $5 per child, kids can decorate Marvel series character cookies, have fun and will receive
Spider-Man and The Avengers Comic Book, all for the cause, No Kid Hungry campaign.
I took my six year old son to event and he had a blast.

He choose Spider-Man and Captain America cookies to decorate.

Atmosphere was fantastic, everything was organized and set up nicely and the kids had all kinds of decorating tools available to express their imagination.

It was very nice experience to be part of this event, at the end of the day, you feel good about helping the cause, No Kid Hungry.

For more info please visit:
http://www.nokidhungry.org

Rancho Las Palmas, Beautiful & Caliente

Here I am again. Have to admit, it’s a strange feeling without computer and internet for a few days….but on the other side it’s very relaxing too.
Family vacation time was very fun. We visited Rancho Las Palmas, great resort located 120 miles from Los Angeles in Rancho Mirage, CA.

Resort is offering amazing golf course, 24 tennis courts, spa and Splashtopia which reminds me of water park. If you just want to have a nice walk you can do that too….all the paths through resort have beautiful scenic views of dessert mountains.

Palm trees, ponds, plants, real dessert scenery, still in lush resort setting.

Hotel entrance and lobby are decorated in Spanish renaissance style which gives visitors feel of elegance and beauty.

Resort offers excellent food, pools and spa.

blueEmber restaurant is lighting up the local dining scene. Under the direction of Executive Chef Sean O’Connell, bluEmber showcases the region’s rich harvest, exuding the sun-drenched charm of the desert and relaxed elegance of Southern California.

Every morning we had amazing breakfast buffet. Omelette station, waffle station and wide selection of fresh fruits, warm pastry and different dishes for fantastic breakfast experience.

Every morning before pool is open lifeguards are practicing skills making sure to keep everybody safe and sound.

View from our balcony, kids can’t wait to start daily routine of pool jumping, lazy river and slides off course:)

Pina Colada by the pool, delicious and refreshing at 114 F….so hot.

I was so excited when my hubby remind me to take advantage and treat myself with a afternoon at the spa. Still while having wonderful treatment, I was planning and thinking what recipe will I make next when we com back home….can you believe it? I was at the spa but still missing my kitchen:)

There it is….waiting. I am looking at the scale and scale is staring at me….should I use it or no? I don’t think so, it is vacation time after all:)

Sauna was amazing place to spend lovely afternoon.

I decided to try Desert Elements Sea Salt Bath.
Precious minerals and Dead Sea salts are combined with algae extracts, aloe vera and choice from aroma essences for blissful experience.

Rancho Las Palmas is beautiful resort, kids friendly and perfect for family vacation all year round.

Seafood Lunch, The Beach, S’mores & Real Taste of Summer

This post is about Summer. We are fortunate to live very close to the beach
called “El Porto” which is located in Manhattan Beach, CA. El Porto is one of the most popular beaches in the South Bay area with surfers from near and far because of an underwater canyon that creates waves usually larger than those at neighboring beaches. It is perfect for boogie boarding and fun in the waves.

I love how this beach and sand always stays clean. So nice that people are aware and want to keep it that way:)

After a long day at the beach, when all energy is used, good prepared lunch is more then needed.

Grilling season is still going strong and this time I prepared perfect seafood lunch with grilled scallops, salmon steak and veggies on the side. Italian zucchini and squash were on the menu too.
I used only extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, pepper and lemon for the fish. For the veggies salt and drizzle of olive oil.
For the dip I used light mayo, pickles and fresh parsley, yum!
Now, what about dessert?
Grill was still on so we decided to make S’mores, truly sweet, comforting dessert. My hubby and kids waited for their turn to roast marshmallows. So cool.

I like to dip skewers in the water for few minutes before use so skewers don’t burn when close to the grill.
S’mores tasted amazing.

Warm and gooey marshmallow with low fat graham crackers and chocolate chips.
Wonderland taste and real fun summer fun:)

Facts:
Salmon is a highly nutritious food. Of course, it is high in protein, and the “good fats.” But did you know that a 4 oz serving of wild salmon provides a full day’s requirement of vitamin D? It is one of the few foods that can make that claim. That same piece of fish contains over half of the necessary B12, niacin, and selenium, and is an excellent source of B6 and magnesium.
Omega-3 fats, selenium, phosphorous, vitamin B-12 and iron are among essential minerals and vitamins that sea scallops contain.