Cooking

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.

Cauliflower & Broccoli Poppers

I was on the search for the great side dish, to change a bit every day lunch menu ideas, leave potatoes and beans on the side, till fall arrives. Reading blog posts, I decided to take advice from my friend Tes from “Tes at Home” blog. She made wonderful Cauliflower with Basil dish. I love the way she made a batter for cauliflower. Thanks, Tes.
I had in fridge broccoli and cauliflower, so I made different version of this amazing side dish adding refreshing dip too.
So tasty, so good:)

Cauliflower and Broccoli Poppers

Ingredients, makes 5 servings

1 lb cauliflower- cut into florets
1 lb broccoli- cut into florets
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 chilled water
Olive oil for deep frying

Combine flour, corn flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in the mixing bowl. Add water and briskly stir until just combined.
Dip cauliflower and broccoli florets one by one in the batter and deep fry until golden brown. Layer the dish with paper napkin to absorb any extra oil from fried vegetables.

I also made quick dip for the veggies

Homemade Dip

1 tablespoon light mayo
1 teaspoon organic ketchup
1 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon mild paprika
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
Fresh Marjoram, mix in or for decoration

Mix all the ingredients in the bowl and serve as a dip with your favorite vegetables. Great tasting dip, refreshing.

This dish is the best when served right away, hot. It is absolutely delicious.

Salsa & Hot Air Balloon Festivals, Underwood Farms, Boat Ride and Stuffed Zucchini Flowers….

An hour from LA, Ventura County, so many things to see, try and experience. Super affordable summer fun. I am so happy that I can share this photos with you and recommend this events for future visitors.

Underwood Farms

“Bring the entire family, young & old, for a fun, educational day “out on the farm.” Children love it! For your convenience, we have a number of pull-wagons to transport your “prize pickings” and/or children from the field to the Farm Market area. There is $3.00 admission fee to our Farm Center Monday – Friday and $5.00 on weekends and holidays. Weekend admission includes a tractor-drawn wagon ride to the fields. Most picked items are priced by the pound.”
Best part by far is “Pick your own” fruits and vegetables ….In Summer months, available for picking are: strawberries, raspberries, zucchini, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers (green for salad and for pickling) and many more….

While I was enjoying strawberry picking my kids were picking raspberries:) Fruit was ripe, sweet and juicy, perfect.

Love the idea of having wagons available for people to navigate and carry while picking and all kinds of containers for different type of produce, so convenient.

Underwood Food are amazing place to visit. They have petting zoo with farm animals and many more like ostrich and mini goats.

Goats have the whole bridge system developed so they can eat and sleep in the “upper area”. So fun to watch them how they navigate high above the ground.

There are also fresh eggs available:)

It would be so nice to go back in fall to pick different kinds of autumn produce.

3370 Sunset Valley Road
Moorpark , CA 93021
(805) 529-3690

Oxnard Salsa Festival

“Spicy food, hot music and Oxnard’s cool ocean breezes are on the menu for the 18th Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival, July 30 & 31, 2011 in Oxnard, California. Plaza Park is the place for a two-day celebration of everything salsa – the food, the music, and the dance. Downtown City of Oxnard.”
Music at the main stage was fantastic, big band was playing and atmosphere was like real party. People were dancing, so cool.

My favorite part, Salsa Tasting Tent….Yum. Over 20 different local vendors were promoting their products. Amazing variety, sweet, mild, hot and blazing hot salsa.

http://www.oxnardsalsafestival.com

Citrus Classic Balloon Festival

“Let your summer take flight. . . with hot air balloons inflated over scenic citrus orchards and rolling hills, the Fourth Annual Citrus Classic Balloon Festival is THE best backdrop for THE balloon event closest to Greater Los Angeles and beaches. Mingle with balloon pilots, enjoy outdoor dining, wine and beer garden, browse arts and craft vendors, get active with the Kids Activity Area, relax with live music. . . It’s the perfect day trip, family summer weekend or romantic getaway – conveniently just 1.5 hours from Los Angeles!”
This was a brilliant event. Lovely colorful balloons, friendly people and again, great food. Must see.

http://www.citrusclassicballoons.com

Hooper Electric Boat Rental

Hooper Electric Boat Rental offers variety of water activity rentals. Look for the website 10% off coupon on any rental.
If you are in the area, this is the great way to relax and try something that doesn’t happened every day for most of the people, take a ride at the electric boat and be a captain. How cool is that? My husband did a great job, ride was smooth and relaxing:)

Beautiful view of the harbor, marina, ocean waves, lovely breeze….

Channel Island Harbor
Oxnard, CA

Since I picked lovely zucchini flowers I decided to try and make Stuffed Zucchini Flowers.
I made classic risotto with red onion and Parmesan cheese. Then I stuffed flowers one by one, sprinkled them with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. In the oven at 400 F for 20 minutes. Crunchy flowers and creamy risotto. Fresh, simply delicious dish.

Hope you liked the post!

Burgers & Peppers, Grilling Perfection

Here I am again…..busy summer for sure. Always something to do and somewhere to go.
Still, trying to make quick, healthy and satisfying lunch as often as I can. Nothing can beat homemade meal.

This time I whip up some all beef burgers 4% fat and I used light feta cheese to add goodness. For the extra flavor and kids friendly version, spring onions were in, paprika, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Great combination for juicy and super tasty burgers.
I will share with you a secret. When making burgers at home, try to prepare them in advance, let them sit in the fridge for few hours or even overnight, flavor will be fantastic when grilled.
For the side, grilled sweet mini peppers. Colorful and full of vitamins. I like to sprinkled them with drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, grated garlic and spritz of balsamic vinegar.
That’s a perfect grilled lunch…..
How can I forget? Piece of rustic crusted olive bread will add the magic to the bite…..yum:)

Salsa Verde, Tomatillos & Green Tomato

Since it is very hot outside these days, I don’t have big appetite and bit of a crunchy seeded squares with homemade fresh and flavorful salsa sounds like a perfect mid day snack.

Never made this type of salsa before but my jalapeno peppers were just ready to be picked so yesterday I decided to make salsa verde.

Last Thursday my kids and I were visiting our local farmers market in El Segundo so we bought beautiful basket of tomatillos and green tomatoes.

Jose from Gama Farms has always very nice selection of fruits and veggies and variety of onions.

Very friendly people and good quality produce grown locally, outside of Bakersfield.
http://www.gamafarms.com

Here is my recipe for delicious fresh salsa:

Salsa Verde

Ingredients

1/2 lb tomatillos
1 green tomato, ripe, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
cilantro leaves, small bunch
half of fresh lemon, juice
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
salt to taste
extra virgin olive oil, drizzle


Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

Place tomatillos, garlic, onions, cilantro, green tomato, olive oil in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season with salt and squeeze fresh lemon, season to taste.
Add chopped jalapeno pepper.

Transfers to serving bowl, cover well and cool in refrigerator till ready to be served.

Serve with chips and enjoy your afternoon:)

Tomatillos are the fruits average about 1 -2″ wide and have a papery outer skin.
Tomatillos are good source of vitamin C. In Mexico a concoction made of the flower calyces is used to treat Diabetes. The fruits are also used as a remedy for fever.


Tomatillo Information

Chocolate Mousse with Strawberry

Summer is in the full swing and it is always nice to have something refreshing and sweet during the day. I usually have on my mind quick to make and good for you treat, like low calorie and low sugar dessert.
Chocolate is usually not considered a diet food but cocoa itself has beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. It is usually the other ingredients added to chocolate that makes it big no to consume. This recipe uses 70% cocoa chocolate that contains much less fat and sugar then a basic chocolate bar. This recipe is also gluten free.
The Glycemic Index is a numerical index that ranks carbohydrates based on their rate of glycemic response, their conversion to glucose within the human body. Glycemic Index uses a scale of 0 to 100 with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar.
Glycemic index of 55 or below are considered low and 70 or above are considered high.
Glycemic Index for Strawberry is 40, which makes it low glycemic index fruit on the chart.


Chocolate Mousse with Strawberry

Ingredients

1 cup 70% cocoa chocolate chips
2 egg whites, from fresh eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons plain non fat yogurt
4 medium strawberries

Pour chocolate chips into a sauce pan and gently heat it over another saucepan filled with water. When the chocolate is fully melted take the smaller dish out of the saucepan and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Using electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites. Add the sugar to the whites and whisk until they become firm and form soft peaks.
Add the chocolate to the yogurt and mix them together well.
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate yogurt and then spoon the mixture into glasses. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 hours to allow it to set.
Just before serving arrange the strawberries.
Irresistible good dessert, light and perfect for everybody who has an eye on their diet and waist. You can’t go wrong with combination of chocolate and strawberry, it is always delicious:)

Nutritional Information

Calories: 140
Protein: 5g
Fat: 5g
Carbohydrate: 13g
Sugars: 10g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 52mg

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Tahini Beef, Protein Power

Today I decided to make real power lunch. Yesterday I bought good looking Portobello mushrooms and wanted to stuffed them with ground meat but then new idea came….instead of ground to use lean stew beef with nice seasonings and spices.

Result was delicious and very healthy power lunch.
Since we got the new grill with side burner I am trying to cook outdoor as much as I can. Love the “Summer kitchen”. It is so convenient to prepare everything outside and than eat too, while birds are chirping, kids are running outside and sunshine lightens the whole table. Nature is beautiful.

Portobello mushrooms have a meaty texture and are great grilled.
One cup of sliced portobello mushrooms, approximately 121 g, makes up a single serving and has only 42 calories. There is 1 g of fat and 5 g of protein in a cup of sliced portobello mushrooms. The total carbohydrate content of a serving of portobello mushrooms is 6 g, of which 3 g is fiber. There are only 12 mg of sodium in a cup of portobello mushrooms, so it is considered a low-sodium food.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Tahini Beef

Serves 4

4 portobello mushrooms
1 pound lean stew beef
1 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon tahini
1 cup chicken stock, low sodium
sea salt, for taste
fresh ground pepper, for taste
1 teaspoon dry marjoram
1 package spring baby salad
2 spring onions, chopped
juice from lemon
olive oil, for taste
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat with the olive oil.
While the pan is heating, season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.
Saute the onion and garlic. When nicely brown add the beef, paprika, dry herb, tahini and chicken stock. Cook for an hour on low heat till beef is tender and sauce is nice and creamy.

Using outdoor grill, grill the mushrooms till well done and juicy.
To make a quick salad, wash and dry well baby greens, sprinkle with chopped spring onions, sea salt, pepper, drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Toss nicely and serve.
Plate and eat the whole meal while hot.
On the top of the mushroom add beef stew and finish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Very tasty lunch which will keep you energetic for a good part of the day.
Enjoy!

Tahini or sesame butter contains good amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. One tablespoon of the paste contains 85 calories, of which fats represent 65 calories. It contains 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of dietary fiber. The paste is a good source of vitamin B1, iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese. These nutrients promote good health in various ways.

Portabella Mushrooms

Chocolate Wonderland

I love chocolate, seriously….that is my favorite dessert, darker-better. Now, if chocolate has some fine nuts in it, even better but whole flavor has to be top notch.
Recently I was reading amazing cookbook “Al Fresco” written by Louise Pickford, with photography by Ian Wallace. Wonderful cookbook with beautiful light recipes and lovely photographs.
One recipe totally left impression on me- Refrigerator chocolate cake. I had to make it and I did. It is fantastic:)

As always I did few changes in ingredients, simply because I had them stocked in my pantry and to make lighten version.

Original Recipe, Refrigerator Chocolate Cake

14 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups Graham crackers, coarsely crushed
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup candied ginger, coarsely chopped
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
confectioner’s sugar, to dust, optional

Put the chocolate and butter into a bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water and heat gently until melted. Stir in all the remaining ingredients except the confectioners sugar, then spoon into the prepared cake pan. Press the mixture well into the surface with a spatula. Cover with foil and chill overnight.

This is my light home version:)

5 oz dark chocolate chunks
1/4 cup non-fat half and half
1/2 stick sweet cream butter
1 cup animal crackers
1’2 cup pecans
1/2 cup pistachio, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried figs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

I had to try cake as soon as possible (it was 3 hours in the fridge) couldn’t wait longer, delicious. Super easy dessert to make any time especially for chocolate lovers. It is kids friendly recipe too, you can add your favorite ingredients, any time:)

Homemade Mint Hummus with Mint & Sea Salt Tortilla Chips

With the usual mid afternoon snack craving I was inspired to create and make healthy snack with a twist. Browsing through the foodbuzz.com and reading interesting posts from my blogger friends I spotted FOOD FRENZY RECIPE challenge.
“Recipe Challenge is a monthly contest to find the best recipe that includes a specific ingredient. The concept is simple, but the creativity is limitless, it just depends on your imagination. You must create a recipe that includes the selected recipe challenge ingredient. May’s Recipe Challenge Ingredient: MINT.”

I made Homemade Mint Hummus with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Mint & Sea Salt Tortilla Chips

I love to grill vegetables, it adds amazing flavor to the dish.

Mint Hummus Recipe

1 can garbanzo beans
1/4 cup of fresh mint
1/2 cup mini tomatoes, fire roasted
1 clove of garlic, fire roasted
1 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
juice and zest from one orange


Using food processor combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Then grate the orange zest and squeeze orange juice to add liquid.
Season with sea salt and pepper, mix and transfer to the serving dish.
Serve with homemade mint tortilla chips. Mint hummus has wonderful aroma. Lovely fire roasted tomatoes and mint are great, refreshing combo.

To make this amazing chips, you need just a few ingredients, cooking tongs and your grill.
Drizzle flour tortillas with olive oil, sea salt and chopped mint. Grill the tortilla on the hot grill for few minutes turning once.
Brake them with your hands to pieces, dip and enjoy!

Mint contains a number of vitamins and minerals, which are vital to maintain a healthy body. Mint is rich in Vitamins A and C and also contains smaller amounts of Vitamin B2.
Mint has always been used medicinally to aid digestion and relieve indigestion. If you suffer from frequent indigestion, drinking a cup of peppermint tea after your meal may help.

Mint

Happy Mother’s Day with Homemade Caramel Apples:)

Mother’s day is very special day to me and to all the moms and their children. I think that every day should be just the same because love, hugs, kisses and knowledge needs to be shared every day.
I remember when I was a kid and special little moments that I shared with my mom. Now, we live on the different sides of the world but I know that she will be reading this post-Happy Mother’s day mom.
Few days ago I was a part of the wonderful celebration in my kids classrooms and I received cute little gifts:)

My dear husband and kids surprised me with a big sweet dessert for Mother’s day, they made together Homemade Caramel Apples with fantastic toppings- everybody’s favorite:)

Homemade caramel was fantastic and my hubby did amazing job. Kids have a blast with decorations.

I am so happy and grateful for all the kindness and love:)
Apples were the big hit….super delicious.

Lovely dessert:)

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!