I posted a very long while back about the first meeting of the Foodie Feast group I started and how much fun it was. Since then the group has gotten larger and we’ve had 6 awesome meetings with great people and amazing food. Each event there has been more and more food, almost so much that you can’t even try everything. Some of our themes have been: Best Food Memories, Food on a stick, Brunch, White Hot, Summer Favorites and Fall Fresh. I’m really sad I didn’t have time the last few months to blog about them but they have been documented and well photographed so later on I will have to share some of what I’ve made with y’all for those themes. (and other members creations too if they give me permission).
We all decided it would be best to take a break from the club through the holidays since everyone has a million parties and obligations with family. I’m so excited for tonight and our first Foodie meeting of 2014! This guilt-free theme is a welcome one after the garbage I’ve been eating the last few months.
I’m always a bit excessive and obsessive when it comes to parties, planning, creating and eating. I made a list of considerations to make. I thought of raw dishes, eating clean dishes, low-sodium and healthier versions of comfort food. What was decided on was completely random. I am marinating some english cucumbers as a fresh side dish and am doing a slight variation on Rawmazing’s recipes that you can find here.
I made a couple of changes to her recipe. I like to cut my cucumbers in cute u-shapes and used 3 large English cucumbers. See picture below. I omitted the onion because I’m a cucumber purist. I used 1/4 cup light agave nectar instead of coconut sugar. I also added dill because cucumbers and dill are happy together.
It has a wonderful crunch, a little sweet, nice tang from the vinegar and a slight kick with the chili flakes.
Chris thought stuffed cabbage sounded good so we are also doing a turkey and brown rice stuffed cabbage.
For dessert I am making a tofu chocolate mousse adapted from the Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno. I know it sounds gross but I promise you would never a million years know there was any tofu in it! It’s chocolately deliciousness with a good punch of protein and my version is dairy free. I like dark chocolate but you could use semi sweet chips too.
Tofu Chocolate Mousse
1 Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate bar, broken into squares
1/2 bar Ghiradelli 100% cocoa chocolate bar, broken into squares
16 oz organic silken tofu, at room temperature, drained
3/4 cup warm vanilla coconut milk (soy, rice and almond milk can be used)
1 tsp best-quality vanilla extract (I use homemade, so easy and cheap!)
1. Melt chocolate in double boiler.
2. Heat milk to warm, do not boil.
3. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
4. Pour the mousse into individual sized containers and refrigerate to thicken, at least 1 hour.
5. Optional: Serve with fresh raspberries garnished on top!
Last night was just noodles of fun! I had a dozen people over to my house who all brought prepared dishes representing their fondest food memories and the corresponding printed recipe to share. I’ll tell you how this came about:
A few weeks ago I had the crazy idea of getting a recipe club started. Without knowing if anyone else would be into it I got to work brain storming how it would happen. What I did know was that I love to eat and cook but I always struggle to decide what to make, I wanted to use my growing collection of cookbooks more and I wanted other people to share their favorite go-to recipes and experiment right along with me.
I managed to get a few people interested and started talking about making it a monthly event with alternating hosts and having each host choose a theme for the recipe exchange. Since I hosted first I chose the theme “Best Food Memories” to sort of break the ice and talk about what we made by sharing the inspiration of our own personal experiences. After we got everything set up and the dishes labeled ( Diana made the darling little cards) then I put everyone on the spot and had them go around in a circle and tell us about their dish and why they chose that recipe. What resulted was a really fun diverse sampling of what food memories can mean. Some people thought of food they ate growing up, some reminded them of a specific place they used to live, some by vacations to Italy and experiences at restaurants and for some it was food that gave them comfort or just plain made them happy.
The one dish not pictured was probably the most impressive so it is really too bad you don’t get to see it. It was Diana’s chocolate souffles (She made 14 of them in individual ramekins) Diana and Jon learned how to make these in a cooking class while on vacation in Florence. *SWOON* It’s sort of a dream of mine to go on a culinary vacation to Italy, actually there is one in Sicily that looks amazing…but I digress. We had the souffles in the freezer until they were ready to go in the oven while we ate our main courses. We preheated the oven to 400 and they baked for about 15 minutes. Some needed longer to set up. Ultimately they were just like little molten melty chocolatey decadence and the perfect way to end the meal! I am so looking forward to the next recipe club meeting. Katie is hosting and will be picking the theme.
I plan on photographing all the recipes and compiling them to make a yearly cookbook if we keep it going and I really really hope we do! We are currently thinking about a good name for our recipe club. So far I’ve thought of things like:
Yesterday I was rushed to post about my perfect green smoothie as we had big plans for the day. My 8-year-old nephew, Jack and my father-in-law Dan are in town and what better way to entertain a group of guys than to go to an adventure park for the day?! The U.S. National Whitewater Center is only a short drive from our house and it was our first time checking it out. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect but I knew it was going to be HOT. There was a short list of necessities: Sun Block, a bathing suit, towel, close-toed shoes, and my camera. I had my green protein smoothie in the morning so I was fired up and ready to raft! We arrived to the park around 11:00am. We signed our health release forms and got the area map to scope out what we should do first. Rafting is the only thing you had to sign up for a time slot and we couldn’t go until 2:00. Rock climbing was up first.
We walked around the courses and observed the rafters which made me more and more excited to try it out for myself!
It seems so appropriate the timing we have of going rafting to the Olympic training site for American whitewater rafters on the very opening day of the Olympics. I have to admit I had my trepidations before attempting the sport. We were going on the “family” rafting level however so if these little kids can do it then so can I!
We walked over to the Mega Zip Line and I was really feeling the heat. I opted to sit in the shade with a nice breeze. It’s the kind of heat that makes you want to dump buckets of ice down your shirt.
We had lunch at the River’s Edge Bar and Grill and was shocked to see how delicious and healthy sounding the menu was. I ordered a black bean veggie burger topped with grilled pineapple and avocado. Chris got a pulled pork sandwich, Jack got an order of wings (he is a wing eating machine) and Dan got a very tasty looking chicken wrap. I suppose since Olympians train there they need to offer “real” food and not just your standard fried Twinkie theme park fare. This fact actually makes me much more inclined to return to the park for all day adventures.
After lunch we went kayaking on the Catawba river and no pics of this since from here on out my camera was safely stored in a locker. There was no way I was going to chance losing my awesome new camera in the river. There were choices of tandem kayaks, single kayaks and stand up paddle boards. We only kayaked about 15-20 minutes since we were nearing our 2:00 whitewater time slot. There is a very peaceful loop you can kayak that would take about 45 minutes to get around, those waters were so calm and flat which really exaggerated what we were about to get ourselves into. This next video will give you a taste of it:
This video will give you a better idea of all the outdoor activities USNWC has to offer:
Do you want to go there now? If you have any kind of spirit for outdoor adventures then it is a place for you! I honestly can’t wait to go back when it’s not so darn blistering hot. I’m so glad I had made these protein bars the night before because by the time we got home I needed to refuel. The right fuel is especially important on days like these. We weren’t done for the day either…we showered, ate some of my awesome protein bars and off we went to the Knights stadium for a baseball game against the Yankee’s. (This is AAA baseball so not the Yankee’s you are familiar with as Chris had to explain to me)
Homemade Power Bars Recipe
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup Protein Powder ( I used Jay Robb Vanilla Whey Protein Powder)
1/3 cup Dried Cranberries or dried fruit of your choice
1/4 cup Sliced Almonds (again any nuts will do)
1/2 TBS Ground Cinnamon
1/2 TBS Ground Cardamom
1/4 cup Almond Butter (you can use peanut butter or any other kind of nut butter)
1/4 cup Honey (optional if you are cutting sugar)
1/4 cup Almond Milk ( I use unsweetened Vanilla)
1/4 cup 70% or higher Cocoa/dark chocolate
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Sea Salt
Combine Dry Ingredients into a medium bowl or kitchen aide mixer bowl (first 6 ingredients)
In a separate, microwave safe bowl, combine the wet ingredients.
Microwave about 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave another 30 seconds until chocolate is melted and well combined.
Pour chocolate mixture into your dry ingredients and mix together.
Using an 8×8 pan, spray with Pam and line pan with plastic wrap. (the Pam helps the plastic wrap to stick flat to the pan)
Spread the mixture into the pan and put in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
After they are set you can cut them into bigger protein bars of 8 or smaller into 16. Mine were definitely on the sticky side so don’t be afraid to get your hands a little dirty 🙂
I hope these give you the power you need for your next big adventure! Enjoy!
Good Morning! I feel really good today! I’m excited about this because I haven’t felt all that well in quite awhile. Migraines, extreme tiredness, indigestion, achiness I have been feeling for weeks. Partially this may be due to the heat since I am such a fair weathered girl. For the last week I have been juicing or making green smoothies everyday. I started this last Monday and now it’s Friday morning. The first 3 days were detox/cleanse days which I have NEVER had the willpower nor real desire to complete before. I am about to leave with my in-laws to head out to North Carolina’s White Water Rafting Center so all I want to post about at the moment was this mornings smoothie since it was sooooo very delicious!
I have been experimenting for a few months now with juicing and making healthy smoothies. This is probably the best consistency my shotty blender has turned out. I have also been experimenting with various protein powders. This is Jay Robb Vanilla Protein Powder and has a really nice creamy vanilla flavor and is clean eating approved. It is one of the highest quality whey protein powders I’ve found. I purchased this at my local grocery store at $23 for a 12 oz container (it looks big but when you open it is half full- very deceptive, grrr).
This morning I very groggily poured 2 cups of almond milk into the blender. It simply won’t blend if there is not enough liquid. Then I added a bunch of spinach, a scoop of Greens + powder and 3/4 cup of frozen fruits mango, pineapple and strawberries. Whollla!! Awesome protein shake and ready to head out with the boys to the rafting center! Talk to everyone soon and have an awesome healthy day 🙂
For Mother’s Day I went back home to Monterey, California. I was there for 6 glorious days of fun, family, friends and of course all my favorite food. I knew it was going to be too short, there is too much that I love there to do everything I wanted to do, eat and see in 6 days. What follows is my abbreviated version of the past week and I will warn you now it involves copious amounts of alcohol. After all it’s not a vacation if you don’t have a few cocktails.
Day 1: Saturday May 12- East Coast to West Coast
We left at 9am. Our flights from Charlotte to Atlanta and then Atlanta to San Francisco were relatively painless (aside from my 6’4″ husband not getting his usual exit row/extra leg room aisle seat- seriously they should have special seating for Big and Tall people, it affects the comfort of all on board. On the short leg of the trip I was dealt my usual middle seat and thus wedged between my lanky husband and another woman who was more horizontally challenged and really needed two seats to spill into. Luckily that part of the flight was less than 45 minutes so that’s that.
On our two hour drive from SFO to Monterey I contemplated dinner. Seafood, need seafood STAT! At first I suggested Phil’s Fish House in Moss Landing. They were made famous on Bobby Flay’s show Throwdown in the Cioppino battle, Phil won. Moss Landing was a bit out of the way though and after a long ass day of traveling that was sort of a stretch. Better idea: Go to Salinas Fish House!!! Yes, brilliant Kendra, you are so smart. I knew my mom and dad would want to meet us there, it’s their go-to spot. The Salinas Fish House is like a shiny jewel in a worn out dusty town that boasts of not much at all. In fact, Salinas is the butt of many a joke on the Monterey Peninsula. Only two things come to mind when most people think of Salinas: Gangs and Lettuce (and a third, for those who are literate, would be John Steinbeck novels) so needless-to-say when one thinks about seafood, Salinas does not even register as an option. The Salinas Fish House is an exception of which I am a proud patron. We arrived there around 7PM which was already 10PM on our stomach clocks so we were STARVING. I had my heart set on cioppino.
As a concierge I was always surprised at the droves of people who have never had and/or didn’t even know what cioppino was. I would describe it to the would-be eaters as the kitchen sink of the sea in a deeply flavorful tomato red broth. It’s an oceanic symphony of jumbo shrimp, muscles, clams, squid, snapper or salmon, cracked crab legs and scallops in a giant bowl made even better with a big honkin slice of garlic bread to slurp up the soupy sauce.
Doesn’t it look amazing? Click the link below to watch a video of Phil at the Phil’s Fish house making his famous Cioppino in his restaurant, sharing all his “beautiful” secrets. He thinks everything is beautiful but hey don’t blame the guy, it’s a beautiful life.
Before ordering my cioppino first things first, I needed a cocktail. Tequila sunrise if you please. When you want to cut right to the chase tequila is the way to go and I went. Everyone who knows me well knows that I am a cheap date when it comes to alcohol. One and done. If that’s all it takes then mission accomplished, no need to make myself ill trying to keep up with the big guys. My vodka martini parents out do me every time. My dad doesn’t even take an olive anymore, that’s more space precious vodka could be. Our servers and the owner are our friends. They know my parents drinks by heart and ask only what they would like out of duty, not for lack of knowing. Rum and diet for my mom, more rum less diet. My husband orders a beer, he’s a beer guy and rarely anything else except when I inevitably do not finish my cocktail he drinks the rest. I like my drinks pretty because I’m a goober girly girl like that and I always get a giggle from him drinking my ultra girly drinks. “Hey babe, want my cherry?” Yep, I’m that girl when I drink, all kinds of cheesy and slightly inappropriate even in front of my parents.
To be clear I’m not recommending this combination of Tropical fruity drink to go with cioppino. That’s just wrong, really. Tequila just sounded good at the time. A proper person would pair a nice glass of pinot noir. In Phil’s video at the end he recommends Hahn pinot noir, what a smart guy he is. Hahn is a favorite of my mine and one of my best friends brother, Brian Peverini, is a manager on their vineyard. Next time I am there I fully intend on making him give me an ATV tour of the grounds. The place is really beautiful and many weddings and cool foodie events are hosted there. Above all though it’s their wine which is really special for under $20 a bottle. http://www.hahnestates.com/
Day 2: Sunday, May 13th Mother’s Day
It has been a family tradition for the last 4 years to have lunch out on the patio at Baja Cantina on mother’s day. It’s everybody’s favorite place to go, it’s instant vacation. Baja in Carmel Valley, where it is always a good 10-20 degrees warmer than anywhere else on the peninsula and sunny when the coast is still laying under the covers of thick fog. Baja Cantina is one of my happy places, nothing but good memories and what’s not to love? Amazing rosemary chicken enchiladas, enormous margaritas, usually good live music and always interesting people watching. I once sat next to Bill Murray there during AT&T pro-am week. Yes I’m a terrible brag. I’m gonna name drop all kinds in this blog, haha.
We arrived to Baja about 1:00, but not all at once. As per usual with my family several of our party was fashionably late, some showed up an hour or so later. My mom, and my brother showed up first and garnered our prime location of patio table for 10 people. My husband and I were slightly behind them since I was indecisive on what present to give her that day and then on our way we decided we needed cash and Chris will never stop at an ATM that is not our bank, he hates ATM fees, hates them. Rue the day when he see’s a transaction fee show up on our statement because I opted for convenience. I am a terrible person…. So anyway we were 10 minutes late which was equally both our faults, me in my shopping tizzy and him on his bank quest. My father was quite late, he was at my grandmother’s house planting flowers in her front yard. This is not unusual, the planting flowers for my grandmother part that is. Well okay the late part too, unless he has a tee time, that he is early for. Meanwhile I am trying not to ruin my appetite eating their house made tortilla chips. I think our table has gone through 4 baskets at this point. Then around 2:00 my sister, her boyfriend and their 8 month old baby arrive. We regail them. MacKenzie always steals the show these days in her cute little dresses and bloomers and matching flower bow in her non-existent hair. She has the biggest smile, clear blue baby eyes and the most expressive eyebrows she uses to get what she wants. I call her Mackers, my mom calls her Macaroni, she has a million adoring fans and nicknames. It’s appropriate for the first baby in the family, it’s appropriate for every baby in the world, they’re fascinating. That morning they took MacKenzie to her first trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I wish I had gone, the pictures are so cute! They were late since they had spent a few hours there and it takes longer to do everything with a baby.
I ordered the halibut tacos. These are my favorite thing on their menu tied with the rosemary chicken enchiladas. These are healthier though so I thought I would behave myself. The tacos are piled with yummy veggies: artichoke hearts, red pepper, onions and mushrooms. Winning combination! The coconut rice it’s served with is pretty much heaven sent. I am an a mission to replicate these at home. Okay, it’s on my list of missions anyway.
We are a family of last minute thoughtfulness. Right before heading over to mother’s day dinner my brother and I scower the racks of the Hallmark store to find the perfect cards for our mom, grandma, and my sister since she’s a brand new mom. We found some great cards, funny ones and sappy ones…however we neglected to locate any kind of writing utensil to make the cards slightly more personalized, at the very least sign “Love you”. My brother just gave them all blank cards because he is so awesome like that. I, however, stole a broken crayon from one of kids at a table adjacent to us because I am awesome like that. I proceeded to scribble out something witty and sentimental in my best childish crayon penmanship. It was a classy moment. I signed it at the table in front of them both and told them not to look, gave the envelopes a good lick, sealed em up and drew big fat hearts on the front. They laughed and then opened them.
MacKenzie started to get a little “fussy” as my sister calls it. I held her for a little bit and did my little photo op with her. She ate a few grains of rice and some beans too. She only has a couple teeth. She got passed around in everyone’s laps for awhile until she had had enough. Then my sister and Geoff had to bring her to the next party at Geoff’s family’s house with a whole gang of kids.I’m sure it was a really long day for her…and her parents. So while they went and had kid time my parents, my husband and I went wine tasting which i will tell you all about on the next post.