SUMMER VIBING

Summer is here my friends! The excitement brought on by  some refreshing doses of Sangria & Frose (Frozen Rose Slushie), combined with serious feelings of lounging and the intense deep seeded need to garden, brings an immense joyful feeling to my entire Being.

So, get ready for fun family recipes from the garden once again.  As well as travel, diy activities and overall happy living.

Dumplings…Little Pockets of Love

We have been on a major dumpling kick this past month, because any carb or veggie stuffed with cheese or meat fascinates me to the core. Yesterday, the focus was a Middle Eastern style stuffed pasta referred to as Manti (Turkish) or Mantu (Afghan). Yes, I had some leftover handmade pasta, so it was stuffed with some ground beef from Marconda’s, seasoned with parsley, onions, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Then topped with chili-garlic oil, and garlic-yogurt sauce (my friend Anita and I would call this single girl sauce, because you definitely need some gum or a good teeth brushing after), and bon appetite. I could literally put the yogurt garlic sauce on anything and it zests it up hardcore.

A few weeks ago, we did some Asian-based pork, shrimp and veggie dumplings, and revolved the seasonings around the ones I grew up making with Grandma, which were garlic, ginger, oyster sauce based. You can get the wonton wrappers from pretty much and major grocery, as they are thinner and easy to use.

Marconda’s Meats, located at the Farmers Market at the Grove is pretty much the only Butcher in LA I frequent for the past 8 years. The quality of their meats is outstanding, and the guys are always pleasant & great at recommending meats for any particular dish you desire to make.

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Easy Marinara

The tomatoes shown below are San Marzano’s, from the garden in Sonoma County. Simple recipes with fresh ingredients are a go to in my home, so there is always some aromas cooking up that make my kitchen remind you of Grandmas house. Bay leaves are used in most meat or sauce based dishes, which is just one of the ingredients that adds such flavor to this Marinara. Prepared some homemade pasta yesterday, so I whipped up a small batch of this sauce, which is simmering now, and it smells delicious. Serves 3

10 San Marzano or Plum Tomatoes

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Garlic Cloves

1 Bay Leaf

Salt & Pepper to taste

Dried Chili Flakes if desired

8-10 Basil Leaves

Blanch and peel tomatoes, add all ingredients except basil to saucepan, cover, heat on low for 1 hour, remove from heat. Add torn basil, Mash with potato masher, or blend in Vita-mix, depending on desired consistency.

Now, excuse me while I go indulge.

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Gardening with Grandma

Another reason I love visiting Grandma, QT in the garden. We recently started bonding over a veggie and herb garden I planted for her this past Mother’s Day. She waters and I prune. The fruits of our labor have produced three different kinds of tomatoes and peppers, an overflowing zucchini plant, eggplant, and melon. On the herb side, we’ve got dill, parsley, thyme, cilantro, sage and basil. This was my first time eating foods that I actually tended to! It was so exciting!! Below are a couple of pics of my sister and Is handiwork: fried green tomatoes, zucchini sticks and eggplant we served along with marinara, all fresh from the garden:)

Grandma Shirley has lived in Sonoma for as long as I remember, some 25 years ago, when I was a girl, we’d visit Bodega Bay, the Russian River, the Redwoods, and Calistoga on day trips. So surreal how peaceful and absolutely beautiful the surroundings in which we are blessed.

Farm & Wine Equals God’s Countryside

Just flew back to my home, Los Angeles, from a lovely visit with family that reside in Sonoma County.  One of the reasons that makes that trip so great is flying over the bay area, all the vast squares of farmlands and the rolling hills covered in rows of grapevines.

The Charles Schultz airport is tiny and one of the funnest, the theme of this town is Peanuts featuring Charlie Brown and the gang, with their statues found randomly all over. Bonus! There is a restaurant with outdoor seating just off the runway, so you can enjoy a bite and a glass of a local vino while watching planes come in and take off.

Mama’s Favorite Bolognese

If I made this sauce as often as I craved it, I would be Mama June’s twin.
What do I pair this savory heaven of a sauce with? Buttery Garlic Sourdough Bread, Fettuccine Egg Noodles, Baked in Lasagna, or over some Baby Arugula for a carb reducer 🙂
Ingredients:
Minced-1 carrot, 2 celery stalks & 1 onion
5 slices Bacon diced
2 Tablespoon butter
Produce Bag full of Roma tomatoes
Or 1 large can whole plum tomatoes
Bay leaf
1/2 bottle of white wine
1 lb ground beef
Handful fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup Heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
Directions:
Using a large simmering pan on medium heat, brown diced bacon, add carrots, celery & onion. Add butter once veggies start to brown, about 10 minutes. Keep stirring. Once everything kind of mushes together add bayleaf, then beef. Brown all together for about 30 minutes. If you use fresh tomatoes, blanch in boiling water, strain in sink. Take skin off, then squeeze to get seeds out. Add tomatoes and nutmeg to beef and veggies let them melt away. About 1 1/2 hours. Start adding wine a little at a time when adding the tomatoes. Once they’ve melted down, mash with potato masher in pan. Let simmer for about an hour. Once it’s almost done, add grated Parmesan cheese, a couple tablespoons heavy cream & torn basil leaves. I normally take blend half of the sauce in the vitamix and add back to smooth out a little.

CocoNuts!!

I am a Coconut freak! From the fresh juice with baby coconut meat, (which if I HAD to choose one thing to drink for the rest of my life, this would be it) to the homemade skincare/haircare mixtures made around my house, there is always two jars, one for the kitchen, one for the bathroom. Consumed and slathered all over my body on a daily basis, definitely cannot love without this product. Organic, virgin, raw, unrefined, non-gmo Coconut Oil.

In the past few years, I have been less into products that have a million cancer causing synthetics in them. So I’ve been sampling a range of all natural recipes around the house to see what works best for me without a load of difficulty and fuss 🙂

A few uses:

*Body/Facial/Hair Moisturizer- I literally put on my body and face, all over, every day. Tip, get an aloe plant. I cut off a little 2 inch size piece and slice daggers off the sides, slice through the middle so it’s like you are opening a book of aloe gel/juice. Rub all over face and body once done with bathing, then slather coconut oil all over. It helps absorb the coconut oil so you’re not sticky and greasy. Also, all that goodness in the aloe juice soaks up into your body, making it soft, healthy and supple. It is a great deep conditioner for hair as well. This is all I use and my skin has never felt and looked so healthy.

*Sunscreen- The above coconut type contains a all natural 4-10SPF. Use daily for maximum benefits, you can also mix a little powdered zinc oxide mineral (find on amazon) in the oil to make the SPF higher.

*Anti-fungal/Antibacterial properties, so it can be used as deodorant if you aren’t working out like crazy. Oil pulling for 5 minutes a day helps pull toxins out of the body and Bonus: is a natural teeth whitener, just swoosh around like mouthwash.

*Anti-inflammatory Fresh fruit smoothies are a great treat to sneak in some healthy fats, usually get a tablespoon in those guys!

It has sooooo many more awesome qualities, but I won’t be able to hit them all. Next focus on coconuts though, will be food. Coconut based Curries are a straight up carnival in your mouth. Your taste buds will be #BLESSED.

 

Stella’s Cheese n’ Macaroni

Thanksgiving, three months away! Anyone that knows me, knows this is my favorite Holiday because I get to be with my family and cook non-stop for days leading up to. It gives me purpose. This recipe has been shared with many friends and family, and is always requested. Here you go guys. Comfy home fare!

1 box elbows or small shells
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 egg
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
1 cup Jarlsberg/swiss cheese shredded
1 cup sharp cheddar shredded
1 cup mozzarella shredded
1/2 cup italian mix (parmigian, Asiago…)
1/2 cup Gouda shredded
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Handful of Bread crumbsSet oven to 375. Boil noodles 1/2 as long as directions say, drain, put into baking dish large enough to fit all ingredients. Whip nutmeg, mustard, eggs, milk and cream in a separate dish.

Save a little of each cheese to top off before baking. Add cream of mushroom to noodles and start mixing, then add cheese. Meanwhile add egg mixture. Stir until well mixed.

Top off with bread crumbs and remaining cheese, bake 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

Creamy Burrata & Grilled Peaches

This is THE perfect summer salad! Super simple and colorful ingredients make for this delicious dish. Serve with buttered and grilled French or sourdough bread for the most delightful bruschetta, or over arugula for a light green version.

3 ripe Peaches halved and quartered

16 oz Container Burrata (Strained of water)

Handful Basil leaves

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Salt and Pepper

Oil up the peaches and place on grill with tongs until nice looking grill marks appear. Place Burrata balls on serving plate, cut open, inside will ooze out, season with salt and pepper. Lay the grilled Peach slices on Burrata, drizzle with balsamic and olive oil to taste. Roll and slice the Basil into ribbons or tear all over the top of the dish, salt and pepper. Now you have your new favorite Salad of the Summer!

 

 

Crispy Lentil Salad, Oh so Simple and Delicious!

This crispy, delightful treasure of a recipe is so easy so put together, not to mention healthy AF. After initial prep, it is a vegan recipe, or you can make it cheesy by adding some crumbled feta to top off, along with some freshly chopped parsley, and dill.

2 cups dry Brown or Green Lentils

1 whole Lemon

1 medium Onion

1/2 small head of Cabbage

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or whatever you prefer for roasting)

2 Ripe Roma Tomatoes Diced

2 tablespoons each Dill & Parsley

Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream

1/2 cup Feta Cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

Cover lentils with water by 2 inches in sauce pot. Place Lentils on medium/low stovetop for 15 minutes, they should still be a little firm. Set oven at 400 degrees. Strain and rinse Lentils with cool water. Slice onion lengthwise on the half so that the slices are long and thin. Cut the Cabbage the same manner. Place onions and cabbage on cookie sheet season with salt and pepper, add the strained Lentils on top, coat in Olive oil, more salt and pepper to taste, shake out on counter to evenly distribute ingredients throughout cookie sheet, place in oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring about 30 minutes into roasting. Take out, let cool. Coat with leftover Olive oil and fresh squeezed Lemon and zest.

Plate is serving bowl, top off with remaining ingredients. Tomatoes, Salt and pepper to taste, fresh herbs, feta cheese and sour cream, or creme fraiche. And Yum! Got yourself a protein salad you wont want to stop eating 🙂  And you’re welcome!